What got me thinking when discussing this with Steve was the fact that my own experience is that it is possible to empathise with everyone and all human experience. Often when I am coaching people, they describe to me, for instance, that because they are French/German/introverted/male/female/a lawyer etc. etc. that they cannot understand the English/German/extroverts/men/women/accountants etc. This always baffles me, because they seem to be just like me and I don’t sense any separation from them, indeed whenever I am coaching people I find myself able to relate to their experience as if it were my own, even if I have not experienced directly the exact circumstances they describe. I wonder if this is something that is germane to us all? I suspect that it is, but it takes work to unlock it because we get trapped in our own particular identifications. Could it be that the reason we can understand everyone’s internal world if we choose to do so is that each individual chart contains every sign, every planet and every house? That in this sense we are all pieces of the one and our separation is an illusion of identification (bear with me I have transiting Neptune square my Mercury in the 12th house at the moment!)? While our chart may not contain every aspect, since it contains all the planets, houses and signs it contains the potential for every aspect. So while we may have no planets in Sagittarius and Pisces they are, nonetheless, still square in our natal charts (or any combination of square through to out of sign trine at their extremities). In this sense our chart contains the whole spectrum of possible energies. Yet, perhaps the aspects in our own charts are showing us what we identify with and filter that experience through, our particular construction of "me": our sense of identity. So the aspects show us what our consciousness identifies with and forms a sense of individuality from. Thus, while we all might be able to understand someone else's struggle with the concept of the tension between our individual desires and our need for relationship - Aries opposite Libra - how strongly this figures in our own particular identities will depend on the planet placements and houses of Aries and Libra. It is clear that some aspect of our lives will reflect it but the degree of intensity and work it creates for us will vary. "Yes", we might say, "I can see what you mean", yet for the other individual, while they can see that we understand, they know that it is not the burning foreground issue which dominates their consciousness but rather a background hue which exists in our life but which does not figure prominently in our conscious awareness. Thus it reflects (if you will excuse the pun) the way that light works. Each object in the world reflects the visible spectrum, yet depending on the way it reflects (or in the case of black does not reflect) the visible spectrum we see a different hue, be it green, blue, red etc. If we imagined each of the signs (or planets/houses) as different hues, we could recognise that they are part of the whole spectrum of light (possible energies) but that each sign only reflects a certain hue. Combine these together and you might get very subtle variations of hue and indeed complex filters which reflect different hues at different times (like a more complex constellation of aspects). In this sense our individual personalities are reflecting the entire spectrum of possible energies but filtered through a particular lens (so to speak).
Most of the wisest people that I have encountered and read seem (reassuringly) to be saying the same thing in different words and forms, namely that the path of wisdom is to separate out our identity from our personality; to identify more with the part of us that is just conscious of the whole spectrum and can see more broadly the interconnectedness of life and the true nature of our experience. This allows us to be able to recognise our particular pattern or filter but be less identified with the dramas and problems that it creates. Thus for someone who has filters with heavy Scorpio and Capricorn, they might see the world as truly black. It appears to them from all the multiplicity of possible experiences in life that the outlook is pretty negative. Similarly, a particularly Sagittarian or Libran lens might reflect the world through rose tinted spectacles. The difficulty is that each particular lens would be accurate in its reflection of that part of the visible spectrum and yet it is not the whole spectrum. Once we step back from identification with our own personalities we are able to see the whole of the nature of human experience. This can at least give us the perspective to see, for instance, that what appear to be our irreconcilable and painful tensions between Pisces and Sagittarius are not soluble - Pisces and Sagittarius will not stop being square each other - but rather once we separate our consciousness out from its identification with this tension we can appreciate it's nature (as part of life) rather than attempting to change it – in effect to try to force Sagittarius to become trine Pisces.
I often feel that astrology's greatest gift to us gets underestimated. Namely, that it affords us this privilege to be able to step back from identification with our own individual personalities and journeys in life (as delineated by the transits we experience) to keep our consciousness open to all life. It is what gives us our unique ability to laugh at ourselves and life and not to take ourselves and our dramas too seriously, so that, like Viktor Frankl or a Nelson Mandela , we can find meaning and remain open even in the most extreme of human suffering or circumstances.
PS. Apologies for any mistakes in terms of typos or grammar but with Mars in the first house and the Sun in Sag rising square Pluto and Uranus in Virgo it feels like death having to go back over something and, if I do, I generally end up going off on some new interesting tangent anyway which defeats the point of checking it!