The grand cross
Clare: A grand cross is another aspect pattern that is created from squares and oppositions, and this configuration consists of two oppositions at right angles to one another. The oppositions are related to each other by squares, making this a closed aspect pattern that is particularly dynamic, self-motivated, and fiercely self-sufficient. People with a grand cross are very driven, and do not tend to rely on anyone other than themselves. It is a very resourceful and willful pattern, and people with this configuration often relate to the world as if it was a series of challenges and obstacles demanding to be conquered, which can lead to remarkable achievements.
Mary: I have a cardinal grand cross in my chart, with Chiron and Mercury in Capricorn in the 10th house opposite Uranus in Cancer in the 4th house, and Jupiter in Aries in the 1st house opposite Saturn in Libra in the 7th house.
Chart data omitted for reasons of confidentiality
Clare: Before we look at this in more detail, let's just think about a story in which Chiron, Mercury, Uranus, Jupiter and Saturn all have a part to play. Does anything come to mind?
Audience: Jupiter and Saturn are the social planets, so that is about opportunities and restrictions, the tension between expansion and contraction. And Chiron and Uranus are outsiders, so there might be a theme about doing the right thing and gaining acceptance in the eyes of the world, and doing your own thing, regardless of what other people think. And Mercury is the mind, trying to make sense of all this, to mediate and bring all these things together.
Clare: That's excellent, and I think it helps us to start understanding the tensions and possibilities in this combination, in the most general sense. Now let's consider the houses in which this drama will occur. We have the 10th, 4th, 1st and 7th houses here.
Audience: The 10th and 4th houses are about family and the world, public life and private life. The 1st house is about fulfilling your personal goals, and the 7th house is about sharing.
Clare: So we are already getting a general sense of the story. Focusing in on more detail now, we could consider the Jupiter-Saturn opposition across the 1st and 7th houses in Aries and Libra. What kind of story do we have here?
Audience: Jupiter and Saturn are the principles of expansion and contraction, so Mary will feel caught between these two things. Perhaps her personal goals seem to be incompatible with her responsibilities and duties to her partner.
Clare: That's right. And because Saturn is in the normally
projected 7th house, Mary is likely to feel that her partner restricts
her or criticises her whenever she tries to do her own thing. In actual
fact, this is an inner conflict that is difficult to resolve. How can Mary
be free to follow her own path and direction and yet at the same time be
a dutiful and responsible partner or spouse?
Mary: I would love to know the answer to that. My husband always comes up with loads of very sensible reasons why I can't do what I want to do, and it drives me crazy. Sometimes I feel that the only solution is to leave the marriage, but we have worked hard at it and, apart from the frustration, he is a good provider and a responsible father.
Clare: I think we can all understand how paralysed this opposition makes you feel. I suspect that you find yourself oscillating between these two positions. With Saturn in Libra in the 7th house, you will be aware that a successful marriage demands hard work and commitment. But it also feels constricting and limiting from a personal point of view. Jupiter in Aries in the 1st house is independent and goal-oriented. With Uranus squaring both Jupiter and Saturn from the 4th house, it is not surprising that, when the tension of the opposition gets too much, you have a strong urge to escape altogether by leaving the marriage and your home. The Jupiter-Uranus square needs space and freedom, and the Saturn-Uranus square indicates a struggle between staying the distance in your marriage, and escaping from its confines. But let's have a look now at the Mercury-Chiron conjunction in Capricorn opposite Uranus in Cancer across the 10th and 4th houses. What does everyone think this is about?
Audience: This describes the parental relationship, doesn't it? Mercury in Capricorn in the 10th house indicates that Mary has conventional and traditional ideas, particularly about being a responsible member of society. But at the same time, there is something very unconventional about her, because the Chiron-Mercury conjunction means that she thinks differently from other people, and she probably finds it hard to be understood. The Mercury-Uranus opposition describes an unusual mind, with sudden flashes of insight, and the Chiron-Uranus opposition is the mark of the outsider.
Clare: Yes, we have a theme here that indicates that Mary both believes and doesn't believe in traditional values and roles. This is supported by the fact that Uranus is in the 4th house. This is likely to be a reflection of the tension between her parents, and it may well be that, in her own marriage, she has found herself repeating the parental pattern, since the grand cross involves both the relationship houses and the parental houses. In this case, the ruler of the MC is Jupiter in the 1st house in Aries, so it looks as if Mary's mother was a free-thinking and independent woman who never really felt comfortable in her role as wife and mother. And with Uranus in the 4th house and Mercury, which rules the IC, in the 10th house, perhaps her father was also unconventional in some way. However, with Jupiter opposite Saturn and Mercury square Saturn in the 7th house, perhaps Mary's parents felt judged or constrained or limited in some way. And because this is in your chart, you have inherited a story that they have been unable to resolve in their own lives.
Mary: This is rather alarming, because I can now see how closely I am repeating the family pattern. In my childhood I was always embarrassed by my parents, because they were never like everyone else's parents - they thought differently and didn't follow the rules. My father was a university lecturer who taught politics, but he was also an activist and lost his job in the sixties when I was still very young. This caused real hardship and disruption in the family. I have spent most of my marriage trying to conform to everyone else's expectations, and it has just made me miserable and frustrated.
Clare: Now that we can see the whole picture, perhaps this makes it easier for you to appreciate that this cardinal grand cross represents a dynamic and potentially extremely creative inner challenge, rather than just a problem that can be projected onto your husband or onto your marriage, or solved by leaving the marriage. I think it is clear from this grand cross that you need to find more space in your life to develop your own ideas and direction, and there is no reason why this cannot be achieved within your marriage. Jupiter in Aries in the 1st house is your ruling planet, so this is about developing personal courage and self-belief. And the Mercury-Chiron conjunction square Saturn encourages you to develop your own ideas, whether or not they are judged or misunderstood by others.
Mary: Thank you for all this food for thought, which is really helpful. As I get older, I am beginning to admire my father for his courage and convictions, although they made me deeply embarrassed when I was younger. I used to be a teacher myself, but I left the profession because of all the government interference in education. In fact, I think that coming to this astrology class is a significant first step for me. Although my husband can't understand my interest in astrology and thinks it is a waste of time and money, I have told him that it is very important to me, and he is beginning to accept that this is what I now do on Wednesday evenings.