1+1+1+1=4, or The Grand Cross


Saturn stationed retrograde in Leo on Tue Nov 22. But there's so much more to the story I haven't told you yet, except in bits and pieces. Allow me to extrapolate.

Saturn's transit through Leo, which began back in July, is all about each of us taking personal responsibility for the 'me' we put out there. Am I too big for my britches? Am I stretching the bounds of true self, just to get them to like me? Am I withholding my vital essence because I don't feel worthy of the attention?

Lately, though, Saturn hasn't been acting alone to drive his point home. He may want us to straighten up, shed the extra puffed-up swagger, and love from the heart of our genuine hearts. Yet, the challenge certainly isn't made easier when he transits at cross-purposes to other planets… as he's in the midst of doing. Want to know more? Then remember the term 'grand cross'.

A grand cross is formed when four planets all form 90-degree angles (squares in astrological terms) to one another. And the symbolism of this configuration is easy enough to figure out… though decidedly less easy to bear. Four points beg for their due expression, but compete with each other for dominance. Go too far toward one point, and another one zaps you back.

With two pairs of oppositions comprising the grand cross, the name of the game is balance. Balance, however, can be extremely hard to achieve, especially when every effort made to lighten one load appears to additionally encumber another.

It's demanding enough to strive for even distribution of our energies and attention between two opposing planets. But add more planets, at 90-degree angles to square those two, and every direction you turn, there's some other issue to consider… some obstruction to the solution you thought you'd found… another alter ego you forgot you had, chiming in to complicate matters. Inner equilibrium, in this context, seems almost like a pipe dream.

When unpacking the symbolism of a grand cross, it can be chaotic to try to keep all the particularities straight. After all, we're dealing with four planets, and each one is implicated in one opposition and two squares. That's a lot to tackle in one sitting. With that in mind, I'll take you on a quick trip through the different pieces involved—and leave some missing detail to be picked up in other articles. Some we've already looked at in past writings, and others will be mentioned again and again in coming weeks and months.

The headlining act of this grand cross is Saturn's approaching opposition with Neptune in Aquarius, arguably the biggest astro-happening of 2006. We've only just begun to perceive the specific effects of the Saturn-Neptune opposition, as it won't hit its first exact peak until Aug 06. The planets recently moved within a reasonable orb of opposition, though (about 4 degrees)… until, that is, Saturn turned retrograde, as it will remain through Apr 06.

I promise you that much future space will be spent in discussing the impactful significance of this Saturn-Neptune opposition, so I won't go all the way into it here. Except to counterpoise what I've already told you about Saturn's current presence in Leo against Neptune in Aquarius, a defining transit of the macro-level shift to a 'new age'.

Neptune's archetypal meaning is nearly antithetical to Saturn's—e.g., the transcendence of boundaries vs. the establishment of boundaries, faith in the unseen vs. insistence on the material, glamorous and esoteric hyper-romanticism vs. utter earthly practicality. When these two oppose each other, as they do over this next year-plus, the chasm between idealism and actuality becomes inescapably apparent.

The result? A combination of acquiescent deflation (that is, the downer that comes with accepting the disappointing parts of reality) and spiritual motivation to soldier beyond what's here and now toward a fuller enactment of higher vision.

In our individual lives, Saturn opposed to Neptune highlights contradictory urges that pull against each other in two opposite places in our charts. Where Saturn in Leo falls, we're pressed to tauten and constrict our energy, to stiffen up and take serious stock, to cut the fat and get real… because we can't both be everything (or nothing) and be our true selves. But at the other pole, Neptune in Aquarius incites us to surrender to larger social currents, to unloose too much attachment to earthly concerns, to 'let go and let God'… because everything is an illusion, whether thanks to spiritual belief or escapist intoxication, and thus anything is possible (or nothing matters). Point or flex? Clutch or release? Exactly.

Enter Jupiter in Scorpio, with the promise of moderately easy-going advantage whenever we rise to undertake the unburdening of our psyches. It calls out that this is prime time for catharsis and regeneration, for purging the whole gnarly truth from deep in our souls… and my, how much more profoundly we can feel the pains and pleasures of our lives when we hit the heart of lust, shit and death.

Over these coming months, Jupiter squares both Saturn and Neptune, intensifying the potential for an all-encompassing level of total self-growth… by forcing us to deal with both sides of the Saturn-Neptune push/pull in order to reap Jupiter's full benefits. To enhance our engagement with the meat-and-potatoes of personal power (Jupiter), we must know when to hold 'em (Saturn) and when to fold 'em (Neptune). Too much responsible restraint or too much fanciful fantasy, either way magnifies the darkest parts of our selves.

And then there's Mars … a real retrograde pain in the ass in Taurus, stubbornly lead-footed and refusing to budge more than a millimeter at a time. Beginning this past July, Mars headed out on his own heated quest to square both Saturn and Neptune… three times each, no less. To sum it up quickly, just add a dose of entrenched slow-motion conservatism to everything already mentioned.

Saturn: 'Should I wise up, tighten up and do a better job?'
Mars: 'Don't want to move.'
Neptune: 'Should I commune with the oneness permeating everything and ask the universe to show me a sign?'
Mars: 'Don't want to move.'

As I said before, there's so much detail to grasp in this grand cross, it's almost too much to wrap our heads around. The most important thing, though, is to recognize its huge astro-impact over our lives. These four points in square to each other shove dynamic conflicts up to the surface, inside each of us and out on the world stage… thus initiating the terms of the coming year's developments.

During these current few months, long-standing tensions demonstrate to us they can no longer stand, opening up into the longer-term imprint of the Saturn-Neptune opposition, which lasts through (ready for this?) mid-2007. (As I said, we'll have plenty of time to talk more about Saturn and Neptune!) And meanwhile Jupiter's dual squares to Saturn and Neptune characterize much of its entire transit through Scorpio, lasting until Oct-Nov 06.

But Mars is the immediate energetic influence that keeps us in the veal pen through Feb 06, when it finally shifts in Gemini. Until then (including an upcoming Venus retrograde, too), we stay relatively still… because stillness spawns acute awareness, and apparently that's what the planets want for us.

For now, we must be satisfied with the awareness itself, finding it and deepening it… because any toils and troubles being instigated by the grand cross aren't going to be solved overnight. Instead, these current situations and scenes are seeds, whose potential blooms can inspire us to valiantly continue through Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune's processes over the next year and a half.

So, remember what you're noticing now. Whatever discomfort you're brave enough to face, you'll have your big chance to alleviate it coming up ahead.