Astrology Secrets Revealed by ERIC FRANCIS

Grand Cross


December 11, 2004 (with chart)


Dear Eric:

I have recently been told that I have a rare planetary alignment in my horoscope called a grand cross. It does explain why some of the difficulties I have experienced in life have occurred, but I would like to have an explanation of what a grand cross is and how I can make the best of it.


Can you help, please?


Many thanks,



Dear Claire,

You do indeed have a grand cross -- and many similar aspects besides. A grand cross (also called a grand square) is an aspect that involves at least four planets arranged at approximately 90-degree angles -- in the shape of a cross. There are many ways to think about this, but I am reluctant to say that it means any one thing, explains anything in particular, or that there is any one best way to work with it, except for applying the one quality that astrology rewards the most generously: Awareness.


Astrology is largely a study in oppositions and crosses. Each sign is closely related to its opposite sign, and to those located 90 degrees away. There are three crosses in the astrological wheel: the cardinal cross (consisting of Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn), the fixed cross (consisting of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius) and the mutable cross (consisting of Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces). Each sign in a particular cross has much in common with its cousins on that particular cross.


The grand cross in your chart involves the Moon in Aries, Jupiter in Cancer, Mars in Libra, and the Sun and Mercury conjunct in Capricorn. These are the four cardinal signs.


Now, most astrologers will tell you how challenging grand crosses are, but I don't think they're inherently more or less challenging than ordinary oppositions or grand trines. They are just challenging in different ways. But what grand crosses do is, in most cases, activate an entire cross of the zodiac. So you in your chart, have all the cardinal signs involved. This suggests a high degree of initiative; there is the feeling of a pioneering spirit from these placements.


But to really understand what is happening, we would need to first look at the aspects separately, then put the whole thing together. The two I would be the most curious about are your opposition between the Moon in Aries and Mars in Libra. I would be curious about what your mother taught you about men, and what her experience with men was, both as a child and an adult. I am one of those astrologers who feels strongly that aspects point to family history, and family history points to how we experience the aspects.


The other curious entity is Jupiter in the last degree of Cancer, retrograde. I would check some transits to that Jupiter, looking at when Chiron was in the neighborhood, for example, and I would want to know about how you relate to the idea of protection. This is to say, my hunch is that you may at times feel like your ‘protection’ is on vacation or lunch break. In fact, you may have very little experience feeling protected from the various dangers of life, particularly emotional ones, and it would probably do you good to tune into just what this whole concept is about.


Meanwhile, there is a far more compelling aspect than your grand cross, which is a T-square, located in the mutable signs. Have a look. It begins with Ceres, the blue question mark, in Gemini; continues with the Pluto-Uranus conjunction in Virgo and concludes with the conjunction of Chiron and Saturn in Pisces.


I think this aspect is more compelling because the planets are in a much tighter configuration. That does not automatically say anything except that when a planet makes an aspect to one part of the T-square within a very close time, usually the same day or week, it will aspect the whole thing. This is true for parts of your grand cross, though actually it's somewhat less closely aligned, so that when a slow-moving planet comes through the aspect (that is, makes a conjunction to any one point), it will take a while to reach some of the later degree points. This can be helpful; in the case of a Pluto transit, for example, it spreads out the work of the transit.


With your T-Square, when a planet reaches around 20 or 21 degrees of a mutable sign, the whole thing goes off at once. And this is the case with Pluto right now. Pluto is now transiting in Sagittarius, exactly opposite your Ceres (which is like a very powerful version of the Moon, signifying many things about your mother, mothering and being a daughter), and it's square Pluto, Uranus, Chiron and Saturn. You are IN this transit now, and you will be for another two years or so.


In addition, your T-square is partly in two of the angular houses (4th and 10th), which we tend to feel a lot more acutely than the others.


Were we doing astrological work now, this Pluto transit would be a major focus of what we covered. While I cannot tell you what subject matter would arise -- that would be up to you, and your experience -- I can tell you that whatever is happening now is related to the events of 1994 through late 1995, when Chiron came through your 10th house and eventually your entire T-square, stirring up many changes which you are, in all likelihood, first getting a handle on today. Or, you are making changes that either began in the mid 90s, or which you decided were necessary then, but could not quite act on. In any case, there is a close relationship between these two eras of history despite their being separated by 10 years.


Astrology is the study of time. If you want to know your chart, know your life. One thing I suggest would reveal much about your entire life story and the nature of your natal chart is the history of your marriages, and the whole idea of marriage, particularly going back to your perception of your mother as a wife. I say this, speaking of squares, because the asteroid Juno (which is associated with marriage history) is square the lunar nodes and Vesta (associated with service, see previous, lengthy write-up on Vesta on this page, or my earlier article, "Goddesses of Astrology," at Google), opposite Venus. That is another grand cross.


So, to tally that all up, you have two grand crosses and a T-square: quite a chart, and the picture of a true woman of character.