A square aspect between 2 planets is when they are separated by 90 degrees and is one of the most difficult aspects for various reasons. For example, if the Sun is posited in 10 degrees Aquarius and Neptune is posited in 10 degrees Scorpio then those two bodies are said to square each other. The square aspect creates intense needs, which when not fulfilled creates frustration. This tension can also be observed frequently between people who have 4/10 relationship patterns, like Sun in Cancer vs Sun in Aries (Cancer is 4th sign from Aries and Aries is the 10th sign from Cancer) since Cancer is square to Aries. I am using Cancer and Aries as an example to illustrate many of the points as I have observed frequently how people with these two sun signs interact with each other in various settings. To understand how square aspects functions, it is important to understand a few basic concepts.
Although square aspects are in incompatible elements they have the same goals, and hence are in competition. Cardinals signs like to be leaders, mutable signs are flexible and changeable, and fixed signs as their name indicates tend to be determined and unchangeable. So using the same example as above, both Aries and Cancer are Cardinal signs which means they both want to be the boss, and this naturally creates competition and struggle, and hence all that hyped up energy and tension related to squares.
Due to the 90 degree separation, the two planets are always in elements that are less compatible, like fire and water, or fire and earth, or air and earth, air and water. Let’s take the example of Moon in Gemini in 10th square Saturn in 7th in Pisces. Moon is in Gemini which is in the Air sign and Saturn is in Pisces which is in the water sign, and as we know air and water are not considered compatible. This means that their mode of action or thinking, or their perspective on life between two planets in a square aspect is different. Although the goals are same, the mode of action is different. They both are mutable which means changeable but Moon is in Gemini which is a air sign and Saturn is in Pisces which is a water sign. An air sign’s mutability will show up in their varying intellectual interaction and a water sign’s mutability will shows up in their wide range of emotions. So we are not just talking about competition but there is also the issue of not trusting each other since the “how to” of getting to the same goal is different. An Aries would try to be the leader by being pushy, determined, passionate and forthcoming (Fire!) and a Cancer’s strategy may include persistence, patiently waiting for the right opportunity, slowly forming a supportive network and using their intuition (Water!). So when two planets are in square they don’t really understand each other and there is a tendency to misunderstand and sabotage.
The end result can be that of acceptance, tolerance and respect where both parties involved in the square aspect respect a healthy competition, and accept their mode of operandi although different from theirs or they may choose to follow a more difficult route where the energies that are squared incessantly try to undercut each other causing tension and failure. For example a Cancer and Aries could get along with each other if they accept their differences, give genuine compliments to each and see each other’s point of view. This can happen if the Aries can understand that a cancer maybe is not as upfront but nonetheless still genuine and sincere in their motivation, and their intuition is as powerful as their passion. It would help their relationship if Cancer can empathize with the directness of an Aries (which often gets them in muddy waters) as their way of getting to the point in the fastest route possible.
The same is true of two planets squaring each other in a natal chart, the two energies can be used to manifest positive things just by finding new and creative ways in which the energies can interact with one another, and this ain’t going to be easy but is worth the trouble. With square aspects, there are really no shortcuts. Since I use only examples observed from real life, I like to illustrate how squares work based on the natal chart of an acquaintance that has a square between Moon in Gemini in the 10th square Uranus in Virgo the 1st. Both Gemini and Virgo have similar goals of being mutable or wavering, but it shows up in Virgo through their nervousness and anxiety and with Gemini through their restlessness and need for variety. So although they have similar goals (mutable), the mode of how they go about fulfilling it is very different for both signs. So having a mutable square is a hair splitting experience wherein it is very difficult to focus on any one issue which adds to the tension of a square aspect. There is this feeling of wasted energy being pulled in two directions that are both wavering; there is no anchor! Moon in Gemini in 10th house is trying to find comfort through interaction and variety in the area of career/public, and is in competition with Uranus in Virgo in 1st which is needing to project oneself as sensible and service oriented but in a independent and original manner . This person had a hard time with job and career pursuit until she found a job in a field serving and interacting with diverse people, and which also offers her a lot of flexibility and independence. This person found a way to make the squares work but it was not easy.
Square aspects between the charts of two people (synastry) show the struggles inherent in the relationship and which will usually be exposed through a transit from an outer planet to the square aspect. Dealing with squares is a way to grow up and are karmic lessons, and a reason why we end up have to deal with people with sun signs that are square to ours in situations where there is no escape like with parents, siblings, in-laws, co-workers, etc.
How do the squares operate in your natal chart? Have you noticed more tension in interaction with people whose sun is squared with yours?