I intended to continue the story of Basher and Jimmy Knuckles, i.e. the quincunx and the semi-sextile (no, I don’t name all my aspects, just these two). Two stroppy boys from the bad side of town who won’t listen, won’t behave, don’t fit in and don’t intend to. That’s how I used to think of them, anyway. And then a funny thing happened. I learned something about these two. They aren’t bad boys at all. It only seems that way to us, because we aren’t seeing what they actually do for us. They aren’t sociopaths. More like Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities, or The Scarlet Pimpernel, they are uncooperative wastrels by day and heroes by night. Particularly when they work together, as when a planet forms a semi-sextile and a quincunx to either end of an angle or an axis. Then you really see something heroic. Keep your eyes out for these two, and ignore them at your peril.
The inconjuncts can give you a major headache. You know they’re supposed to relate the two planets in your chart, but it’s like they’re not even in the same room, never mind try to get them to work together. At their worst, they fight, and we bounce back and forth between the two developing energies. They stop and start, going one way then the next, never making any progress, never able to talk and discover what they have in common or how they can cooperate.
I know. My Moon is semi-sextile my Sun. What’s worse, is that this Moon is conjunct Uranus in Leo in the 11th and the Sun is conjunct Jupiter in Virgo in the 12th (Uranus and Jupiter both in houses they naturally rule). Where the Sun and the Moon might have found some common ground, having the other planets involved guaranteed their non-participation. (Leo and Virgo have enough problems reconciling the differences between them without these other energy patterns magnifying them.) So what happened when this social, Uranian, look-at-me Moon met the retreating, mystically-inclined Virgo Sun? Basically, they withdrew to their corners, and I became two people, neither one of them completely authentic: theatre, film and television producer by day, seeker of metaphysical knowledge by night. Most people knew one or the other depending on circumstances. Very, very few (including my ex-husband and my family) knew both. But here is the magical thing about the inconjuncts: eventually, through many small but significant external circumstances, the separate paths and ways were forced to merge. The bouncing back and forth (I would spend years at one and then years at the other) ended, and a more harmonized pathway emerged. It wasn’t anything I could have planned; it was completely unexpected. I still have to check and make sure from time to time that both paths are being walked, but I have found a number of ways to satisfy them both, which I wouldn’t have been able to do had I been forced to make absolute decisions about them all those years ago.
What inconjuncts do is make things manifest in physical, here-and-now reality. They take the irresolvable tensions and use them to create in the material realm. What we cannot acknowledge mentally or spiritually, in accordance with what is planned for us, must be met through the outside world. Nowhere is this more evident than in the study of secondary progressions. One of the things my progressions students found most astonishing is the inevitable presence of an inconjunct (particularly to the Nodes) during any significant event in a person’s life. It underlines the fact that, much like dealing with Saturn, inconjuncts cannot be resolved on a mental plane, but must tussle with molecules and matter and energy in order to be fulfilled. Unlike Saturn, I believe that the order of the inconjunct begins in some other dimension we cannot yet measure and wrestles in the world of the day to day until its purpose unfolds. It feels as though these planets have nothing in common, but that’s not true. It’s just that we don’t know what it is yet, and the only way we can learn is by taking tiny step after tiny step as the path appears before us.
In basic terms, the natural quincunx is related to Virgo and Scorpio and the natural semi-sextile is related to Taurus and Pisces. One is the ‘applying’ side of the aspect and the other is the ‘separating’ side. The applying side provides the crucible, the separating side facilitates the resolution.
Think of 0 degrees Aries as a point of initiation, a point of separation and individuation. Aries represents the first step of the soul’s journey. It goes through Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, and Leo (and/or the houses 1 though 5) before it gets to Virgo. It has become, on its own, as an individual, what it is going to become. What happens in the sixth house? The sixth house is a crisis house, a crucible. Just exactly what are we becoming, and is it useful? What do I need, and what do I discard? Do I have a skill, can I actually DO anything? Am I making a contribution? What do I need in order to complete my journey? What do I burn away so that the rest can function better? Dane Rudhyar described the sixth house as a crisis of identity–crises occur in the sixth because we do not yet know who we are. Not yet. Sixth house crises are not random, but deeply purposeful. They occur to help us find out what we must become.
On a more esoteric note, the quincunx relates to Mercury’s rulership of Virgo. I am not one of those who think that Virgo is ruled by some distant planet which will some day come to ‘save’ Virgo from Mercury’s influence and give it a proper ruler. In fact, quite the opposite. Virgo, as an Earth sign, is related to manifestation and the manifest world. The sequence of Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn is a mystical one relating to how we manifest our soul’s intentions, and how form relates to feeling (the water signs are all opposite the Earth signs). Mercury as ruler of Virgo relates to the thought that is behind all form, the concept by which matter arranges itself. This isn’t the pure, connecting energy of the Gemini Mercury, but the concept of matter pregnant with divine intention (another reason for the symbolism of Virgo, and why she is not literally a virgin). In the beginning was the Word, and the Word is the shaping function of vibration. It is not pure and detached thought, but intent infused with feeling, which is the secret of the Virgo/Pisces opposition. This is why Virgo is related to the symbol of The Magician in tarot, and to the god Thoth (who was also connected with writing–word made manifest).
Once reality manifests, it must be tested. This is the role of Scorpio, the separating quincunx. Scorpio tests not in a solitary way, but beyond the Libran boundaries in the realm of ‘Other.’ It tests intent against the outside world. The eighth sign causes us to test both our matter and our meaning, and it has an equally uncomfortable relationship with 0 Aries, the beginning and ending point. Aries, the ultimate “I”, doesn’t appreciate being tested, but if the “I” doesn’t test the relational qualities it has developed in its trek through Libra and the opposition, we will end up making poor and inauthentic choices in the subsequent signs and houses on our journey back home. It is the struggle to the death and back, as symbolized by both Pluto and Mars. On a metaphysical level, the fight of this separating quincunx is the fight between the ego’s desires (Mars) and the desires of the soul (Pluto). This is why Mars is the lower octave of Pluto, Aries versus Scorpio. What dies in this fight, in this separating quincunx, are the lesser desires of the ego, and this quincunx often creates the kind of situation which asks us to choose between the higher path and the lower. Until we make that decision, living with this quincunx can be particularly painful. Both quincunxes have a higher purpose and a higher path in mind. Have you ever wondered why Virgos and Scorpios naturally gravitate towards one another?
It’s also the secret behind any sextile. Each end of the sextile will form a natural quincunx to a point they both share. (Sextiles talk, and this is what sextiles talk about.) Yods are extraordinary because we have a planet at that ‘talking point’; we have two inconjuncts seeking release at the midpoint of a sextile, which is activated when any planet by transit or progression falls on that sextile’s midpoint. I’ve seen extraordinary things happen then, when the energized, split sextile energy (via two semi-sextiles) pours into the planet in opposition to the apex planet. It’s magic, but of course (with inconjuncts involved), not without a certain amount of struggle. The inconjuncts never sleep. Temporary yods are formed when any transiting or progressed planet comes to oppose the sextile’s midpoint. All these occasions provide enhanced pathways for manifesting energy.
Part Three and more on the semi-sextile next time…