Do opposites really attract?
The principles of astrology can explain the age-old conundrum of why opposites attract. It starts with the principle of polarity whereby everything has its opposite pole. The original division in astrology is based on gender: the masculine fire and air signs and the feminine water and earth signs. Within these yang (masculine) and yin (feminine) groupings, further oppositions occur when the signs are placed in order around the great circle of the zodiac. Then six pairs are created, each comprising signs of the same gender, the same in kind but different in degree.
Thus we get Aries/Libra, Taurus/Scorpio, Gemini/Sagittarius, Cancer/Capricorn, Leo/Aquarius and Virgo/Pisces. When the circle is squared, these six pairs then gather into three groups known as the quadruplicities or qualities — the cardinal, fixed and mutable energies. Each group has four signs and forms a cross within the zodiac circle. Usually, one or two of these qualities dominate an individual horoscope and determine the mode of operation. These are not only the driving force of a person’s chart; they define an irresistible force of attraction that plays itself out with other people.
The cardinal cross, fixed cross and mutable cross each describe a special relationship between star signs of the same quality. This is not a linking by similarity of elemental nature as between two water signs, such as Cancer and Scorpio. When these signs get together, it is like attracting like. Rather, when signs of the same mode get together, it is the attraction of opposites at work. A similar quality of energy and mode of action draws seemingly different types of people together.
Star signs linked this way have the same quality of energy but an opposite elemental nature. Thus cardinal Cancer has an energy link with Capricorn, Aries and Libra, each sign a different element. Likewise, fixed Taurus has an energy link with Scorpio, Aquarius and Leo, while mutable Gemini links energetically with Sagittarius, Virgo and Pisces. This describes a level of attraction and stimulation, sometimes repulsion, that occurs when you meet signs of the same energy group. Each group contains all four elements and holds its own form of dynamic movement. For example, cardinal signs are driven and initiating, while fixed are steady and strong-willed. Mutable signs are flexible and changeable.
Many articles on the astrology of relationships stick to the safe connections of elemental harmonies, when advising “best” partnerships and warn against the irresistible attraction of your energy group. Considering this and the fact that the Moon is of equal or greater importance than your Sun’s sign, in the search for love it’s easy to be misled by such articles. As a working astrological counsellor, I know that opposite types frequently walk through my door … together. Simply put, opposites attract.
Before you join me to explore the dynamics of the three energy modes, it’s helpful to know, then read about, the signs of Sun, Moon and Ascendant in your natal chart. These are the Big Three and all play a critical role in your choice of partners and friends.
The three energy groups describe the inner workings of the attraction of opposites. People who are quite different from us can provide a natural complement. Yet successful interaction with them demands we recognise our limitations and foster our strengths.
Cardinal creativity and chaos
Aries — raw vitality
An urge for independent action, unrestrained expression and a childlike love of the new fuel the Aries heroic quest. As the “I am” of the zodiac, you are a natural initiator, best when driven by spontaneous joy. The ram’s raw and angry impulses often cause chaos. You enjoy the challenging chaos that pushes you to take the lead or the chaotic profusion of ideas in a debate. In love, it’s the chaos of the chase you best enjoy.
Capricorn-style authority/control excites your rebellion yet urges you to get practical. Ever-charming Libran-style communication seems too slick but entices you, while the Cancer emotional pincers make you itch to escape yet feel nurturing. These experiences challenge your “me first” approach, enabling a creative response, deepening your pioneering spirit and sweetening your delivery.
Cancer — mother power
The tenacious treasuring of past memories shares equal space with protection of home and family as Cancer takes charge. When your nest is secure, your feelings flow into rich and varied expression. Your chaos factor is those crab claws that refuse to unlock once they grasp what they want. You enjoy the chaotic feelings that bubble up when someone needs you, the chaos of sensitive feelings you can shape into artistic, productive, healing forms.
Libran-style mental dilemmas exhaust you but challenge you to be more objective, while Aries-style bold pushiness makes you shuffle sideways to avoid the heat, but charges you up. Meanwhile, Capricorn’s cold pragmatism often repels you yet attracts simultaneously. These experiences provide a solid container for your sensitive flow, amplifying courage and creativity, stabilising your protective instinct.
Libra — togetherness quest
Being in loving relationships, structuring group activities and seeking equality electrify the world for Libra. Your storyline promises peace of mind and clarity of judgement when love and balance rule. Your chaos factor is too much mental gymnastics, an overload of “ifs” and “buts”. You enjoy the chaos of choices and judgements. Questions of justice and relationships that challenge your assumptions shape your mental growth.
Capricorn-style orders challenge you to flex your wit as you find the other side of the issue and Cancer-style attachments make you itch yet satisfy a deep longing. Those Aries “me first” types challenge you to find the flaws and be a worthy opponent. These experiences give creative substance to your relationships and depth to your mind.
Capricorn — world builder
A slow and thorough rise to a position of authority and security allows Capricorn to build a sense of wellbeing. Proving your worth means enjoying physical life while honouring your ambitions. Your cornucopia is found within. Your chaos factor is the inflexible rules that freeze love and life and this can crystallise as tension and stiff joints. You enjoy the chaos of roles, responsibilities and plans, the joy of achievement and the chaos of challenges to solve.
Aries-style anarchy sets your nerves on edge yet burns away your inhibitions, while Libran-style debating challenges you to put aside your own agenda. The subtle emotional hold of Cancer types threatens your control yet opens your heart. These experiences challenge you to creatively honour your human vulnerability, giving meaning to your path to success.
Frenzies and fixed focus
Taurus — senses alive
A rich appreciation of life’s natural abundance and the delights the senses offer are the basis of Taurean wellbeing. The bull is an ancient fertility symbol and you know how to make things thrive and grow with focused, fecund instincts. Your frenzy tends to be physical and encouragement engages your interest. You enjoy frenzies of tactile and artistic sensitivity, frenzies of responsible action and frenzies of feasting.
Enthusiastic demands and bold ideas, Leo-style, impress you, yet can dry up your enjoyment and annoy. Lots of plans and witty words, Aquarius-style, can blow away your confidence and make you withdraw or want more. Too much intensity and emotional steam, Scorpio-style, can exhaust and overwhelm you, while magnetically attracting. Yet these are the experiences that move you to change modes and dig you out of limiting comfort zones, polishing your talents.
Leo — king/queen resplendent
Perhaps it is to glimpse immortality that Leo so passionately pursues creative impulses, procreative urges and heroic dreams. Your wilful intensity and your need to shine are hardwired and help you to be true to your heart. Your frenzy tends to be mental intuitive, driven by spontaneous delights. You enjoy frenzies of romance, frenzies of creative development and frenzies of inspired leadership.
Immoveable behaviour patterns, Taurus-style, evoke your fiery sarcasm yet also your respect. Intense emotional demands, Scorpio-style, see you loping away into the trees to escape the deluge or revelling in the passion. Fixed opinions and too-clever Aquarius-style analysis invite your most fiery response, fanning your flames to either grand agreement or open hostility. These are the experiences that move you to embrace a wider reality than your own ego needs, expanding your zest for life in the process.
Scorpio — sovereign of the inner world
Intense emotions, deep convictions and unswerving loyalties to people and principles are the forces that support Scorpio’s still depths. Harnessing the inner domain of willpower to manifest desires is your focused feeling flow. Your frenzy is emotional spiritual, carried by deep feeling currents — very personal and usually a private affair. You enjoy frenzied one-on-one passion, frenzies of backroom dealings in preparation for the big win and frenzies of intuitive analysis.
Over-the-top Leo-style pizzazz raises your hackles but excites your detective mind. Taurus-style sensual indulgence stirs your judgemental side but magnetically attracts, while Aquarian-style zany ideas evoke both fear and fascination. These are the experiences that move you to come out of your protective zone to share your talents and pursue your dreams.
Aquarius — mental wizard
Exploring your own genius in all its forms and celebrating the diversity of social life are the currents that electrify Aquarius. Enriching human society, merging energies with others to achieve progress, this is your fixed mental focus. Your fixed frenzy is logical in nature, often driving you to overdo work and social responsibilities. You enjoy frenzies of group activity, of planning and problem solving, of taking charge.
One-pointed emotional desires, Scorpio-style, bring up your mental barricades despite being intrigued. Leo-style grandstanding makes you want to go one better, despite the attraction. Predictable, Taurus-style routines make you push for change or “suggest” alternatives, even though they soothe you. These encounters ground you and move you to feel more deeply your life purpose.
Mutable magic and mayhem
Gemini — twin soul
Sharing life experiences with someone special and learning how to live with that inner twin who shifts your moods electrify Gemini. You find happiness when your soul needs are given equal attention to your worldly goals. Your mutable mayhem starts in the playground of the mind and gets seriously chaotic if you treat everything as a game — in which you keep changing the rules.
You enjoy the mayhem of variety, of multi-tasking, of outwitting adversaries. Virgo-style attention to detail often catches you out, yet accelerates your learning. The grand vision, Sagittarius-style, stirs your cynicism while inspiring new ideas, and Pisces-style emotional depths unsettle you yet help you clarify your own feelings. These experiences provide the magic that channels your restless mind into productive directions and opens your heart to compassion.
Virgo — earth mother
Careful attention to all of life’s details, with an attitude of preparing the ground and reaping the harvest, are the basis of Virgoan wellbeing. Your fulfilment follows the cycles of “virgin soil”, hard work and the life-giving harvest. Your personal brand of mayhem comes with an overload of details, obligations and service run amok — like an inner cyclone. You enjoy the mayhem of making and remaking plans, looking for faults to fix and analysing human behaviour.
Sagittarius-style generalisations challenge you to criticise, yet heat up your interest, while Pisces-style emotional shifts drive you crazy but intrigue you. A Gemini-style mental disappearing act frustrates you yet calls upon your strategic side. The magic of these experiences is their capacity to expand your outlook, add meaning to your practicality and encourage loving kindness.
Sagittarius — wisdom quest
A spirit of play, a need for adventure and passionate ideals are the fuel that feeds the fiery quest of the archer. Your happiest horse/human blend gives a variety of play for your earthly body and good reasons for your head to be in the stars. Mayhem occurs when you fire so many arrows of so many ideas that you trip over them. Or when you tell such a good story, you start to believe it. You enjoy the mayhem of life’s wide variety, the mental challenges of travel and learning.
Virgo-style tiny practicalities and “boring” details can deflate your enthusiasm, while the Gemini-style fine print you didn’t read can spoil your plans. Yet both challenge you to be more realistic, while Piscean-style sensitivities swamp your best ideas with the tricky dimension of human vulnerability. Then, magically, you come down to earth, discovering its wonders and singing its praise.
Pisces — oceanic tides
Depth of compassion, the “urge to merge” with others and following the path of heart and conscience give Pisces the right emotional fuel. Your fish totem evokes the interplay of human and divine, emotional whims and spiritual truths. Mutable mayhem occurs when you are swept away by your own vulnerability, blinded by emotional dramas or addicted to love. You enjoy the happy mayhem of bonding and merging, of worrying about people you love and wearing many hats.
Gemini-style information overload exhausts you emotionally but evokes a less subjective stance. Too many worldly responsibilities, Virgo-style, make you want to hide but push you to define healthy boundaries, while Sagittarius-style philosophising can confuse yet force you to articulate your feelings. These experiences help magic manifest as the maturity to develop your gifts and express your inspiration.
The best-seller The Secret takes the principle of like attracts like and stops there. Yet this occult truth is only one part of a group of hermetic principles that describe the secret workings of life. The principle of correspondence — of like attracting like — describes a resonance, an ability to attract what the imagination projects. Yet without the other principles, this is only one leg of the chair. Equally important are the principle of polarity — of opposites attracting — and the principles of gender and of rhythm.
Astrology is both the science and the art of describing and exploring the Divine Paradox. This paradox is the fact that we humans live on the meeting point of fate and free will, the intersection of the absolute and the relative worlds. If we get stuck in like attracts like, we miss out on magnetism, that irresistible attraction of opposites. This makes no more sense than exploring a chart only for the easy things such as elemental harmonies but ignoring the magnetic attraction within your energy group.
It all matters. Just as the rhythms of transiting planets flesh out the potential of an individual horoscope, so relationships provide the stage for personal growth. The attraction of astrological opposites feeds our passion for the possible.
Christine Broadbent is a professional astrologer passionate about her work. She offers personal consultations in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland. Her website: www.astrologyspot.com.au has Christine’s current schedule, astrology services and some article archives.