Understanding Conflicting Parts of Ourselves through the Birth Chart

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If you will recall, an aspect is an angle between two planets, and you can ask for a list of aspects with your computer printout. A major source of self-hate can be hard aspects like squares, the right angle or 90 degree aspect. We'll be discussing aspects in detail in Chapter 14, but the square,6 in particular, demands a resolution of the conflict within. All too often a bogus resolution comes about when you identify with one of the planets in the square at the expense of the other. Which side of the square you espouse is unpredictable, but the suppressed side will also come out, however, perhaps in a disguised and less-than-healthy manner that sabotages more conscious goals.

Let's consider two people who have Mars square Neptune. The conflict may be "resolved" in two different ways, depending on their upbringing. Suppose one person was brought up in a deeply religious home (one effect of Neptune) where Mars' natural competitiveness and aggression are regarded as "bad." Such an individual may suppress open competition and instead compete by becoming a "holier than thou" type or an evangelist. (What is evangelism but a disguised lust for conquest?)

The other person with Mars square Neptune may have been brought up in a terribly competitive and even combative home (an effect of Mars) where family members ridiculed compassion and spirituality (traits related to Neptune). Such an individual may resolve the conflict by making a religion of patriotism, racism, or some other militant Ism. (Isms of various ilks can be laid at the doorstep of Neptune or Uranus.)

5 The three most important factors of the chart are the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant. When more of one of them is in the same sign, that sign becomes a strong part of a person's nature. When two of them are in the same sign, let's say Leo, the person is a double Leo (or whatever the sign is.) When three are in that sign, they are called a triple Leo (or whatever the sign is).

6 A square involves two planets that are three signs apart. Such signs are at odds with one another and do not easily agree on preferences and modes of behavior. For instance, Aries and Cancer are square, as are Taurus and Leo.

Note that in both cases a strong hint of the suppressed planet comes through in a disguised way. On the unconscious level, a suppressed planet is still very active, appearing in toxic and self-defeating behavior patterns. There are healthy channels for resolving the Mars-Neptune conflict—for instance, in becoming an advocate for the downtrodden—but it is unhealthy to dismiss one of the planets and glorify the other.

When you have two planets in conflict with each other, or when your Sun or Moon clashes with your Ascendant, what can you do? First, stop making judgements! The two characteristics or needs that conflict with one another are both valid parts of yourself. They are neither intrinsically good nor bad, they just are. In order to find health, balance, and a degree of comfort, we must be fully aware of the needs and drives represented by both sides of the conflict and learn to satisfy both.

I once did a chart reading for a woman with her Sun in Capricorn and her Moon in Aquarius. True to her Capricorn Sun, she took on enormous responsibilities and drove herself to exhaustion, never taking a vacation. Meanwhile, her Moon in Aquarius yearned for freedom...to break away from her demanding work schedule, do unconventional things, and get free of all those responsibilities. The conflict was affecting her health. I explained the tension between the two signs to her and wrote a realistic looking prescription: "Rx: One free weekend a month, getting away from it all." She was so relieved at getting permission to take care of her own needs that she framed it and faithfully refills her prescription each month.

By becoming familiar with all the features of your chart, you will know yourself better. Recognize that each feature represents a valid piece of your psyche that exists and must find expression. Repression or dismissal of some facet of yourself is only asking for trouble—emotional or physical trouble or else "trouble" from the outside world that you collude in inviting. Perhaps you can accept yourself more fully if you understand the positive potential of each planet, sign, house, and aspect. If your Mars in Scorpio in the third house lacks tact—and in fact can be downright caustic in unguarded moments— you can consciously work on that, but this placement also gives you a keen, analytical mind...a precious gift, for sure.

Some self-dislike can be valid...if you are primarily living out the negative side of some planet or sign in your chart. But disliking some quality in yourself and then going to work on it is a far healthier response than brooding on it and letting it grow to self-hatred. Self-hate and guilt are immobilizing and non-productive. Working toward a positive expression of difficult chart features will change your self-image and promote self-love.

Realize, however, that we function at many different levels—vibrant and life affirming in some areas some of the time, self-defeating in other areas at other times. Some of us may develop more quickly in mental areas (Mercury, Uranus) than in emotional areas (Moon, Neptune), while others might develop more fully in the relationship areas (Venus) first. Therefore, it doesn't make sense to judge ourselves harshly or to compare ourselves to others. It is unrealistic to expect perfection, and it is completely human to regress temporarily in times of stress in order to get grounded again and to recharge before taking another forward step.

Another source of self-hatred lies in faulty definitions. It is the reverse of that old joke: "He says I'm stingy; I say I'm a good manager." We often define ourselves in negative and uncharitable ways, not realizing that others may regard as strengths the very qualities we view as weaknesses. The oyster, for all we know, may regard that pearl as a hideous deformity, while we regard it as a precious jewel. Likewise, a person with Mercury in Taurus may regard it as a defect that her thinking is very concrete; others may consider her refreshingly down to earth and sensible. It's all in your definitions. That's why it can be quite helpful, even for an advanced student of astrology, to have a chart done several times by humanistic astrologers who can provide different perspectives and foster a more positive self-definition.

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