The application of musical theory to equate overtone with the aspect half-circle presents us with a whole new set of tools with which to interpret aspects.
Harmonic Level 1: the Octave: Conjunction and Opposition
It will seem strange to the observer at first to consider conjunction and opposition in the same harmonic level, however if we intend to use musical overtones to describe our aspects and consider astrology to be part of the vibrating whole we call our universe, then it is vitally important that we find a way to reconcile these two.
Let’s embark on a side-note for a second, and consider what we have always been taught about these two phenomena.
We consider two planets in close proximity on the ecliptic to be conjoined, or to be occupying the same space. We consider the number of that relationship to be 1 because there is little room for argument or discourse in this relationship. We are often taught that such planetary energies are “fused” and become a homogenized unit. This is a teaching I have always questioned. Where do we see such a homogenous joining in real life?
I will venture to say that when we have two people or planets occupying the same space there needs to be room for discourse or there will be trouble, particularly if the two do not naturally get along.
Remember we are taking about 2 occupying 1 space. Our expression needs to be a 1 with a 2 attached to it somehow. We use the word “conjoined” to imply the one-ness of an intimate partnership, whether the two people or planets like being intimate or not is another question, but in the description of this relationship we have 2 expressed as a 1. The old biblical line “the two become one flesh” comes to mind, however I have yet to meet a couple where sexual union makes the couple into some homogenous entity where neither can be seen as an individual. In some circumstances the couple may produce a third individual, but then 2 becomes 3 and that involves a time component, whereas our chart describes an instant and is seen in terms of immediately before and immediately after, so our 2-into-1 is still lacking some vital component of meaning. We could use the word “communion” which implies two people sharing space in harmony, and its very nice and good, but it still lacks an expression for the scenario where the two don’t get on very well. We could go with co-habitation then, which is more accurately descriptive, but lacking expression for the type of dialogue two people (or planets) need if they are going to co-habit successfully.
Enter the Octave. An octave is a musical phenomenon whereby doubling a frequency, or halving it, produces the same pitch with a different audible expression. By this I mean one will be high, the other low, but when played together they make a sound that is virtually indistinguishable. Each member of the “co-habitation” has room for its unique expression, and when they join forces, they become indistinguishable. In this relationship we could say they are “equal yet opposite”, “the same, yet different”. This is a fairly accurate description of how a native might describe conjoined energies in a natal chart.
OK so how can we express this “octave” in the natal chart? How can we tie 1 with 2 and still make sense? We shall see shortly, but first let us consider opposition.
Opposition should not be discussed without discussing polarity in the chart. Polarity is where we examine the nature of signs on opposite sides of the ecliptic.
We know that Aries is martial and a bit naive, Libra is just and a bit pretentious, they are both about doing things, they just disagree on how they should be done.
We know that Taurus is self-indulgent, and loves to hoard resources, Scorpio indulges in pleasure and loves to manipulate resources. They are both interested in resources, they just disagree on what they should do with them.
We know that Gemini loves to talk and amass information, and Sagittarius loves to think and share information. They are both interested in information, they just disagree about what to do with it.
We know that Cancer is about family and nurture, and that Capricorn is about business and control. Both are clearly concerned with how life is lived, they just disagree about what is important.
We know that Leo is self-interested and likes center stage, and that Aquarius is group-centered, yet likes to stand out from the crowd. Both are clearly interested in personal dynamics, they just disagree about how one should conduct themselves.
We know that Virgo knows about details and organization, and that Pisces prefers to live life unfettered by details or organization, believing those things will sort themselves out. They both feel strongly about details, they just disagree about how those details should be employed.
I will freely admit to have stacked these descriptions to suit my purposes here, but given the polar descriptions I have given above, it is fairly plain that each polar opposite could learn a lot from the other.
Our astrology texts, as a rule, teach us that opposition is a difficult aspect because of the radical differences between the two perspectives. People fear opposition because it can result in conflict, however a closer examination of the conflict will reveal that each set of opposing signs has a unifying principle, something they can agree is important if they can just learn to appreciate the perspective of the other.
Unlike the people (or planets) in co-habitation, there is no need to make the space for interaction, there’s plenty of space here, but again the resolution of this dispute is found in recognizing the equal yet opposite nature of the polarity.
I believe this is the most fundamental energy of aspect in the astrology chart. If we consider the Conjunction and Opposition together to represent the Octave, Conjunction is fundamental note, the Opposition is the Octave either higher or lower (higher in our example), the line between them unifying their energy as together “C” (or “A”, or any other note you can come up with), then we have brought “equal and opposite” together in our chart, and allowed each planet room to express itself fully no matter how closely they interact.
Example: Two Cancers in a relationship, one will feel the need to be “more Capricorn” than the other, someone will need to deal with business, order, and discipline. I will wager that the one with its moon more strongly aligned to Capricorn will fill that role most often, and the other will fill that role in the areas where the first one lacks it. The two Cancer suns need to find a way to co-habit in a way which lets them each express themselves rather than becoming an overly-sensitive homogenized couple.
By giving the first principle of aspect to the “Octave” we have defined an aspect as a relationship between planets, and have plotted a path for resolution of differences incurred by each planet in that relationship.
In using the Octave in this way, we have described the purpose of aspect as finding resolution between differring expressions of planetary energy.
The value of this principle is validated by the axial principle (joining conjunction and opposition on an axis) of aspect being consistent with the “overtones” of musical string theory. Thus the planets can be said to be “resonant” with each other when they are in aspect. The point of such resonance, is finding the unifying principle between the planets.
A note about “bad aspects.” Bad aspects occur when we let life happen to us and are unwilling to take command of our personal energies and find the best expression for planetary configurations. Sometimes, transits will be tough. There is no getting past that, but we need to look for opportunities to expand ourselves while we are going through the mill.