Read an Excerpt
A Cross by Any Other Name
Qualities, quadruplicities, quadratures, modes, types . . . it seems a necessary exercise just to sort through the various names given this division of the zodiac. The quadruplicities, as defined by astrologer Nicholas deVore, "are the four signs which have the same quality; either cardinal, fixed or mutable." He further defines them by adding that "there are three types, or qualities . . . the Cardinal or Initiative signs, the Fixed or Executive signs and the Mutable or Deductive signs. As there are four in each, these are known as the Quadruplicities." Astrologers Marion March and Joan McEvers teach that "we can . . . divide the twelve signs of the zodiac into three groups of four signs each; the signs in each group have certain qualities in common. Each group has a distinct mode of operating in life. The qualities, or quadruplicities are . . ."
Although of common usage, the terms type and quality do not quite convey the intrinsically dynamic nature of the crosses, especially as they are revealed in speech and action, as intimated in the introduction of the current work. In fact, the term quality is at the very least a vague description and at worst a misleading characterization of the crosses, because there are positive manifestations of each cross as well as destructive and harmful manifestations, as will be shown in the chapters that follow. A quality is generally perceived as a positive attribute, such as generosity, kindness, caring, or a sense of humor, while in the full range of human experiences, the crosses can manifest less laudable traits, such as zealotry, cruelty, and indifference. But, as pointed out by March and McEvers, the crosses do indicate a distinct mode of operation.
The terms quadruplicity and quadratures refer to the relationship of the group to the number four-there are four signs in each cross grouping, just as the term triplicity refers to the three signs that belong to each of the four elements. There are also four signs per house grouping: angular, succedent, and cadent. However, the term quadruplicity does not seem to dignify the crosses with the uniqueness they deserve; they are much more than a structural division into three groups of four units.
Astrologer Marc Edmund Jones gives a thought-provoking, albeit somewhat esoteric, introduction to the crosses, even suggesting the existence of a process of individuation through manifestation in the crosses: "What the quadratures bring to the foreground of analysis . . . is the wholly individualistic way in which the given person stands up to experience in being himself, or the level upon which he characteristically enters upon or leaves a particular milieu of relationship . . . The cardinal, common (mutable) and fixed groupings of the signs-in their geometrical correspondence to the angular, cadent and succedent houses in that order-reveal the fundamentally dynamic recalcitrance oftemperament, through the rather simple distinction between those . . . who find the things at hand most interesting, approach experience in mutual act or response with other people, and meet the issues of their existence by following their own inner leading."
Jones' definition promises more for the crosses, implying the existence of a dynamic essence to be found within the crosses, a nature that is far more compelling than that represented by a mere "quality." Here we get a sense that the cross will actually motivate the native toward a process of individuation. Although individuation may not always be the goal of all motivation, there is much in the nature of each cross that will contribute to the nature of one's motivations.
A study of the actual structure derived from the angular relationships of the signs within a cross grouping gives us a better understanding of the dynamic nature of this sign division. Each sign in a cross is either in square aspect (a 90° relationship) or in opposition (a 180° relationship) to the other signs of the same group. Aries and Capricorn are in square aspect to each other, as are Libra and Cancer; Capricorn and Cancer are in opposition, as are Aries and Libra. Both the square and the opposition aspects are challenging aspects and therefore hold a potential for growth, action, change, and transformation when expressed positively, or destruction and stagnation when a healthy outlet of expression has not been found.
By their basic structure, the crosses represent far more dynamic groups than do the elements. When connected together by aspect, each of the three signs of an element will form a Grand Trine; that is, they are in trine aspect to each other. For example, aspects drawn between planets at 15° of the signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius will form a triangle, or a fire Grand Trine. Trines represent the smooth, easy flow of energy, or the unchallenged exchange between two points or, in this case, between three points. Trine aspects represent the talents and abilities toward which we turn when our need to be creative, proactive, or even reactive supercedes our desire for maintenance and continuity. Trine-aspect configurations are used in our normal responses to life situations or just to go about our daily activities. In transit, trines can easily be taken for granted or even ignored. It has been my observation, through years of consultation work, that it is not the transiting trines that move an individual to take action in life or to become creative and proactive, but rather the more challenging conjunctions, squares, and oppositions.
Challenging aspects, both natally and by transit,5 create the basic irritant that seems to be so necessary for bringing out creative and productive activity in many people, somewhat like when the oyster secretes nacre to coat a foreign object that has made its way inside its shell. Just as the oyster will create a pearl, we can create better lives for ourselves by bringing out and exercising our talents and special abilities. In general, people don't move unless they, for some reason, must. Without the challenging aspects, without the energy of the crosses, there would be little motivation to surpass our current condition. Charts containing a lack of challenging aspects tend to be reflected in an easy and uncomplicated existence. Charts containing a healthy abundance of challenging aspects are reflected in the lives of individuals who are moved to go beyond the normal boundaries of common existence, for good or for ill. The popular expression "Necessity is the mother of invention" clearly illustrates this process. An individual who possesses a challenging configuration in his chart is likely to attempt to resolve the associated irritating factors in his life; an individual with an underchallenged chart is likely to use a more passive approach to life situations. Note that other structural factors besides the hard aspects, such as sign placement and positioning, can generate stress in a chart.
Trines tend to placate, normalize, and stabilize, a necessary part of the process of growth and evolution without which there would be no integration of experience or assimilation of knowledge. However, trines, in and of themselves, do not create the challenging environment that is essential to cause a person to actually take action. For example, an opposition of transiting Saturn to the ruler of the Midheaven might result in a loss of employment; yet the discomforting fear, insecurity, and disappointment of this same opposition might be sufficient to provoke the individual to stand back and reevaluate (opposition) his career situation and, from there, take the necessary action, often based on the talents inherent in the chart as indicated in part by the trines. The reality check thus imposed by Saturn's transit might reveal to the native that he has long undervalued his abilities and must now make a choice to assume a level of responsibility that better reflects his abilities. In such a case, a difficult situation, as indicated by this "hard" transit, would have lead to a desirable outcome.
If the transit had been a trine from transiting Saturn, the situation would have been perceived as being far less compromising, and probably more as a positive opportunity to take advantage of experience and to assume additional responsibility. The result may seem similar, but the process is quite different; in the case of the opposition, the native is faced with a challenge that must be overcome, whereas in the case of the trine, the native simply goes along with the opportunity. Alternatively, with the trine aspect, the native could just as easily choose to forego the opportunity if no need for extra work, responsibility, or effort is experienced; whereas with the hard aspect, some form of action is generally required or at times even forced upon the native. There is a greater lesson learned with the opposition experience than with the trine experience.
While each member of an elemental group also shares the same polarity-for example, the three fire signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are also all of the yang, or masculine, polarity-each cross contains two yin, or feminine, signs, and two yang, or masculine, signs. For example, the cardinal cross counts the masculine signs Aries and Libra as well as the feminine signs Capricorn and Cancer. As well as being related to each other by dynamic aspects (squares and oppositions), the signs in a cross are further polarized by the confrontation of yin (negative or feminine) versus yang (positive or masculine) energies. When the cardinal signs Aries and Capricorn are linked by a square aspect, for instance, a further element of conflict is brought into play: the daring and bold outer self-expression and manifestation of the yang sign Aries versus the cautious, introverted, responsible, survival-oriented yin sign Capricorn. Planets in the yang sign Leo squaring planets in the yin sign Scorpio pit bold self-expression (Leo) against a need to preserve a sense of inner validation or integrity (Scorpio).
Another aspect that needs to be considered when attempting to understand the impact of angular relationships between planets and signs is the expansionary process that unfolds with the natural progression from the first to the last of the signs of the zodiac. This may be easier to perceive by imagining the zodiac from Aries to Pisces as though it were a spiral staircase instead of a closed wheel. As one climbs the stairs, one's perspective on events below changes. A similar change of perspective occurs in the natural progression of the signs. The spiral connotes movement, a flow of energy from one level to the next, giving a gradual increase in complexity of nature from Aries to Taurus to Gemini, etc. In Aries, there is singleness of purpose, centered around a personal and often immediate impulse; in Taurus, the focus is on direct experience and the satisfaction that it provides; in Gemini, we indulge in self-discovery through an exploration of the environment; in Cancer, purpose expands to include family members; in Leo, outlets are sought to externalize and express personal experience; and in Virgo, relationships are established for the purpose of ensuring the survival of one and all.
In the first six signs, commonly referred to as the personal signs, or the spring and summer signs, there is growth from a single-person-centered perspective (Aries to Gemini) to the beginnings of a community-based, cooperative awareness (Cancer to Virgo). In the remaining six signs, referred to as the social signs, or the fall and winter signs, this perspective continues to expand, with Libra acting as a polarization force for the person-centered Aries, making "the other" a significant part of the equation of life; in Scorpio, the resources of others will be considered in addition to personal resources; in Sagittarius, the learning experience is expanded and organized into various systems and made available to the community; in Capricorn, the structuralization process of society is completed by the implementation of a governing body; in Aquarius, humanity reaches the fullness of its self-expression and seeks to explore unchartered territory; and in Pisces, all knowledge and experience are combined into one complete, transcendental experience to be shared by the collective awareness. Note that this analogy could have been approached from many different aspects; this is only one way of connecting the signs to each other. The reader is invited to trace other possible developmental lines, using varying facets of the signs.
Given the expanding perspective inherent in the zodiacal spiral, the relationships between the signs of a cross are further vitalized in their contacts with each other, so that the self in Aries must consider family in Cancer, which must find balance in its partnerships and associations in Libra and then find meaning and purpose in a worldly function in Capricorn. The sense of self-worth of Taurus will be tested as it shows the world what it values in Leo, only to be purified in Scorpio and then taken beyond the boundaries of the common experience to be further tested in Aquarius. Gemini's interaction with the outside world will be focused on cooperation and survival in Virgo, which will then grow to include the broader hierarchies of society in Sagittarius and then be released into the universal networks of Pisces. The same principle holds true when taken in reverse order; for example, when confronted by Leo, Aquarius must take into account the very real feelings of the individual (Leo) despite his or her vision of a grander, more understanding humanity (Aquarius). Alternatively, what is good for the family (Cancer) may not necessarily be what the individual (Aries) needs.
In providing an appropriate appellation for this division of the zodiac into three groups of four signs, it is essential to consider the inherent tensions in the relationships between each of the signs, from gender dichotomy to hard-aspect configuration. Just as the term elements aptly describes the fire, earth, air, and water groupings, it now appears evident that the term crosses appropriately reflects the dynamic structure of the threefold division of the zodiac into the cardinal, fixed, and mutable signs.