Mode (Quality) Configurations (Part 3)
Grand Cross (aka Grand Square)
Grand Cross and T-Square
One of the most prominent configurations is the Grand Cross. It is also called a Grand Square because it involves four signs, four planets, four houses and four areas of life that are connected together. Not only are there four squares in the Grand Cross, there are also two oppositions. Essentially, a Grand Cross consists of four planets in the same mode or quality (Cardinal, Fixed or Mutable), which form the four squares and two oppositions. A true Grand Cross includes a planetary placement in each element: Fire, Earth, Air or Water. Because the Grand Cross involves a combination of squares and oppositions, it is an aspect pattern that affects action and drive (squares) as well as perspective and balance with others (oppositions).
A Grand Cross is characterized by the mode (quality), and each Grand Cross mode has its own unique expression and interpretation. However, one factor that each type of Grand Cross shares is that they are all fundamentally stressful configurations. Squares motivate action, and they are perceived as uncomfortable influences; the tension develops over time, and once it reaches a certain point, we take action to reduce some of the pressure. Depending on our actions/reactions, squares can be both constructive and destructive.
Squares, and particularly very tight orbed squares, can be hard aspects to ignore. The productive factor to a Grand Cross is that it does offer a solid foundation; a nucleus with structure and strength that can be a tremendous resource. However, finding the point of assimilation and balance in order to be able to take advantage of this gift can be exceedingly challenging. The key, of course, comes from developing balance between the two oppositions. When the opposing influences are balanced, then they are wielding the same amount of force on the planets that are connected by the square aspects, creating a solid foundation. When the oppositions are out of balance (i.e. too much attention being directed to one influence over the other), the structure can not hold up, and the squares (frustration) take center stage again. Taking the time to focus in on the basis issue of each mode (i.e. Cardinal signs impact identity, Fixed signs impact self worth, and Mutable signs impact healing and reasoning) can also discover the commonality that the four signs in the Grand Cross have.
CARDINAL. Cardinal signs are typically focused with the question of self and identity as well as actions surrounding these. The focus gets directed based on whether the individual has the ability to impulsively express the self (Aries), the emotional identity is nurtured (Cancer), the social and intellectual identity is connected (Libra) or the tangible manifestation of our identity is recognized (Capricorn). In essence, the Cardinal Cross could become a crisis of identity. The four planets involved are each pushing to express the facet of the self, yet each operates from a different level and perspective of the self. Cardinal signs encourage action, initiation and sometimes, impulsivity. The test with a Cardinal Grand Cross is reflected whenever there is a transiting aspect to it. That is when all four of the placement's energies try to competitively spring into action simultaneously, and each in its own direction. This can cause the individual to feel overstretched or being pulled apart. The influence can also cause frustration based on the desire to take action without a sense of focus or direction. The action or reaction lacks an outlet. Remembering that the key when dealing with the Cardinal Grand Cross is to be alert to the stressors and how those stressors relate to one's identity. Maintaining a sense of focus on the "prize" while acknowledging that there is an action needed in order to express the self and uniqueness of the self makes it less difficult to make decisions.
FIXED. The Fixed signs are focused on the questions of self-worth. The focus gets directed based on whether the individual has the ability to acknowledge the worth of the self and mastery (Taurus), creativity and spirit (Leo), vulnerability and trust (Scorpio), and humanity and brotherhood (Aquarius). The main purpose of the Fixed signs is to uphold and maintain the activity that the Cardinal signs created and initiated. The Fixed signs are not ready to "move" from the course of action taken and may resist any efforts to implement change. When the Fixed Cross is activated by transiting aspects, the tendency is for the four planets to hold their course and resist outside pressures for change. Resistance seems to be the main energy of the Fixed Grand Cross in an effort to carry on or maintain homeostasis, rather than flow with an energy that might change the course. On the other hand, when the Fixed Cross individual does initiate action, it can be exceedingly difficult to stop the momentum. The Fixed Cross is like a locomotive - slow to start but once in motion, stays on track and is exceedingly difficult to stop until it has run its course. The self-worth of the Fixed Grand Cross develops unconsciously, for better or for worse. The value that the individual has of the self will be exhibited in their self-esteem. The challenge for the individual with a Fixed Grand Cross is to find the ability to allow flexibility into their activities and to share their accomplishments with others.
MUTABLE. Mutable signs are focused on healing and reasoning. The focus gets directed based on whether the individual has the ability to integrate thoughts and feelings (Gemini), organized concepts and healing (Virgo), diversity and wisdom (Sagittarius), compassion and spirit (Pisces). Mutable signs, similar to Cardinal signs, are easily scattered and disjointed when under pressure. While Fixed signs have no difficulty staying focused, the main challenge for individuals with a Mutable Grand Cross can be the inability to gather their thoughts into a collective cohesion of ideas. Learning how to sustain a sense of balance and coordination should be the Mutable Grand Cross individual's goal. The Mutable Grand Cross individuals gain the most when they learn how to juggle their activities while maintaining a sense of consistency relative to the planetary placements in their chart. The inclination of the Mutable signs is to remain adaptable and flexible. When transiting aspects trigger the Mutable Grand Cross, the impulse of the four planetary energies is to transform; to adjust, and to avoid any obstacle that has just been placed before it. The four energies scatter in different directions in an disconcerted effort to find homeostasis. The problem is not in the desire to change. The problem arises from the non-unified reactions of the planets
The T-Square consists of three planets in the same modes (qualities) that include two squares and one opposition. A T-Square is similar to a Grand Cross, but is missing a 4th planet. Because of this, the T-Square functions differently than the Grand Cross. The T-Square is less stable; all of the pressure is placed on the planet that receives the two squares, the apex planet. On the other hand, T-Squares have a built-in focus planet, which the Grand Cross lacks. The focal planet or the Apex can often become dynamic and an important motivating factor for the individual.
The apex planet of a T-Square is the focal point. This is the planet that provides motivation, drive and is also the most critical placement of the T-square. Squares are initiative aspects placing the apex planet under considerable pressure to act and react when the T-square is triggered. The best use of the apex energy is to pretend that the apex is being opposed and incorporate that opposing energy into the necessary activities. That is the release for the pressure. The key to utilizing the T-Square is to move forward; to become proactive with the apex planet, while minimizing the scattered feelings that may result when the T-Square is being triggered. Acknowledging that the opposing energy is missing, is what consciously provides that stabilizer in the decision making process. Take note that when a transiting planet moves into the opposite of the apex, forming a pseudo Grand Cross, it could be providing the individual with an opportunity to release the productive energy of the T-Square in the most direct approach because the transit shines on the Apex placement, bringing awareness of the need for balance to the Apex planet while tapping onto the two squares.
To properly assess the needs of the T-Square, take note of the element of the sign that the Apex planet is in. The element provides guidance in understanding the nature of the action that the T-Square will likely produce: Fire => spirit, enthusiasm and identity orientation; Earth => practical, tangible, worth and value; Air => intellect, social and intuitive; Water => perceptive, emotional and spiritual. Assessing the houses that the planets are in will also provide clues about the areas of life that the pressures are most likely to be felt. The key to getting a T-Square to become productive is by defining these areas in the chart so that the individual can have access to the most supportive features of these elements and house placements and comprehend the best way to release the pressure imposed on the Apex planet.
CARDINAL. Similar to the Cardinal Grand Cross, the Cardinal T-Square focuses on the identity of the individual. The Apex Planet's sign will zero in on where integration of the focal point will be (Aries => identity of self; Cancer => identity through emotions; Libra => identity through social connections; Capricorn => identity through accomplishments). Similar to the Cardinal Grand Cross, impulsiveness is a prominent feature. Planets in Cardinal signs feel a need to act immediately. Patience is not a priority here. The Cardinal T-Square tends to be the most active of the T-Squares, although not the most productive. Coercing the three placements to work together can be the challenge. The nature is for each energy to do its own thing, causing conflicts and disjointed activities to become the main focus. Remember, being aware of the "empty space" opposing the Apex planet can give the individual guidance for a Cardinal T-Square. When all the planets are focused on the same task oriented activity, moving forward becomes much easier. The difficult task will be learning how to get these three disparate energies to unite.
FIXED. The Apex planet in a Fixed T-Square will reveal where the individual is most inflexible. The opposing sign of the Apex planet, although still a Fixed sign, can help to force the individual to find a compromise. The Apex Planet's sign will guide the individual based on the focal point (Taurus => worth of self and mastery, Leo => worth of creativity and spirit, Scorpio => worth through vulnerability and trust, Aquarius => worth through humanity and brotherhood). It will usually involve another person tapping into the individual's needs during an opposing transit aspect that will create enough discomfort or clash to cause the individual to reach that compromise. With a Fixed T-Square, the compromise between the two realms may only be reached after a very ugly confrontation. Fixed signs, remember, are focused on and maintaining self-worth. The Apex planet of a Fixed T-Square will eventually take action in order to reduce tension - something that Fixed signs are perfectly happy to do so long as they feel that they are in total control of the situation. The Fixed T-Square that learns how to incorporate flexibility into the decision making process receives the best rewards.
MUTABLE. The most difficult factor for the Mutable T-Square is focus and consistency. The three planets are tapped into the concepts of healing and reasoning, however, the reasoning and protective nature may be to avoid confrontation. The Apex Planet's sign provides the guidance through the focal point's needs (Gemini => integration of thoughts and feelings, Virgo => integration of organized concepts and healing, Sagittarius => integration of diversity and wisdom, Pisces => integration of compassion and spirit). For the Mutable T-Square, the Apex planet will be the one most likely to discombobulate since this is the planet under the most pressure. Unlike Cardinal or Fixed T-Squares, the opposition aspects are less aggressive or confrontational since the nature of the mutable sign is to adapt. The key to working with the opposing energy is to acknowledge the tendency to side-step the issues and hold on to the direction that the Apex planet needs in order to accomplish the task or to reach a decision. Avoid the tendency to get hung up on the desire to rationalize the problem away.