December 22, 2013

The Grand Cross and Fate vs. Free Will

I own first editions of Astrology for Everyone and Your Place Among the Stars by Evangeline Adams (whose birth date I share), but alas, I don’t own a single copy of The Bowl of Heaven, where she describes the experience of breaking her leg as a child. I borrowed the book from a library right after I left Los Angeles and not long before my Great Dane went to the Rainbow Bridge, so it must have been 1989. And I would swear that Adams gave an accounting of the incident that involved exchanging a mule for her horse because she already knew of the likelihood of an accident and possible broken bones on that day. I can find no such anecdote online. The way I recall it, she studied astrology from a young age with a local physician. She had seen a Mars / Saturn affliction in her own chart, and so to reduce the likelihood of an injury, instead of riding her horse to school that day, she took the slower, less frisky mule. Something spooked the mule; she fell off, and the result was a broken leg.

Maybe I am crazy. Maybe I am combining two different anecdotes that I read close to each other in a short period of time. If anyone else owns an old edition of the book, rather than a newer one where it may have been edited out, I’d love to know.

Valentin Naboth (a/k/a Valentine Naibod, Valentinus Naiboda or Nabod) was also an Aquarian (Feb 13, 1523 – Mar 3, 1593). A German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, he was extolled for calculating the mean annual motion of the sun. His work inspired Tycho Brahe, Paul Wittich, Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei, and his method of progressing the angles of a chart are still used to this day. Naibod, as he is known in astrological circles, saw in his own chart that he was "about to enter a period of personal danger, so he stockpiled an adequate supply of food and drink, closed his blinds, and locked his doors and windows, intending to stay in hiding until the period of danger had passed. Unfortunately, some robbers, seeing the house closed and the blinds drawn, decided that the resident was absent. They therefore broke into what they thought was an empty house, and finding Naibod there, murdered him to conceal their identities. Thus he did not escape the fate predicted by his own astrological calculations."

The question here is:

Are some things fated, or do we always have free will?

My natal chart contains a fixed Grand Cross and as far as I am concerned, they may as well have called it a Grand Curse. It indicates an entire lifetime of stress and an endless series of challenges and obstacles. One thing you will never hear a person with a fixed Cross say is, "That was easy." Imagine a nightmare where you are playing baseball and must continuously run the bases over and over without stopping, without resting, without ever reaching home plate, and the futility of it never ending in your entire lifetime.

With a cross to bear, there are four or more planets involved in two oppositions that square each other. Each planet involved in the cross represents an obstacle in the way of reaching your goals. Each one is a drama queen that forces you to focus your effort and attention on her rather than the goal you would like to reach. And you no sooner get one soothed than one of the others – or all of them at once! – begin to act up. You run from crisis to crisis to crisis and it gets damned tiring. You can never get even one situation resolved completely before you have to go and handle the next catastrophe. Life is onerous and in a constant state of commotion from which you are continually disrupted. There is no peace. Your identity is that of having great intensity just beneath the surface waiting to be released. In other words, you’re a volcano that just might explode.

When you have a Grand Cross in your chart, chances are that your planets are in a splash pattern, which means there’s really no one place to focus your resolve or ambition. You tend to be a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. You wear many hats and have many irons in the fire.
 Things are not so bad if the Grand Cross is in cardinal signs, such as in the natal chart of Steve Jobs, because cardinal signs are initiating, entrepreneurial and constructive. That cross works in fits and starts, but it can achieve goals. It’s as if those people are in a race to reach the goal, but at some point they get to hand off the baton to someone else to complete while they move on the next thing that interests them. Those with cardinal crosses direct their effort to the outside world.

 Crosses in mutable signs are directed to healing and reasoning. They are more flexible and adaptable and therefore able to juggle many balls relatively easily, as far as Crosses go. Memphis-born actress Kathy Bates has a mutable Grand Cross that involves a whopping seven planets and all four angles of the chart, incorporating her sun, Mercury and Venus in cardinal Cancer. The saving grace here is that Jupiter, involved in the cross, makes a trine to her natal Saturn and Pluto in the fortunate 11th house, a house that among other things is about finding footing in ever-changing circumstances, plot twists, and lucky breaks, perfect for someone who must constantly switch between roles, characters and plots. They are the rulers of her 3rd house of communication and 5th house of creativity and entertainment. The Jupiter trine funnels all that power right to Saturn and Pluto. Not every bearer of a Grand Cross is so lucky.

"My life is triage."
                                                               ~ writer Viki Noe

Fixed Grand Crosses are oriented in the inner world. These are people who are cerebral, satirical, discriminating and have a rich inner life. It greatly affects the self-worth, causing either a profound sense of self-doubt, or an inherent feeling of distinctiveness.

Astrologers that we would now describe as ancient, didn't give those with fixed crosses much to look forward to. This is the cross filled with the most stress and crises. It was singled out and named "the cross of crises" or "the cross of Christ" (as in suffering, not humility). Relentless effort must be made to overcome the constant obstacles that prevent achievement, contentment or peace. There is a deep sense of frustration from the continuous challenges, and only very limited options in solving them. At every turn and with every effort you feel blocked, as if surrounded by invisible and insurmountable walls.

It is said that fixed crosses do not readily change from the status quo, and they resist movement; their tendency is to impede outside pressures for revision or adjustments. Resistance, staying the course and digging in is their natural mode of energy. They are the opposite of ADHD. The thing is, it’s not so much that those with fixed crosses don’t want to change; the greatest hurdle here is when no opportunities for change exist.

These crosses tend to reinforce Newton’s First Law of Motion: objects in motion tend to stay in motion, while objects at rest tend to stay at rest. It is hard to get them going, but once they do, they are nearly impossible to stop, maybe because of a great fear that they may not get going again. Fixed squares are the hardest to live with because they symbolize the will, which is far harder to surrender or to change than thought (mutable) or action (cardinal). A fixed cross symbolizes the necessity of humility.

 Bill Maher, who has a fixed cross, is known as sharp, cerebral, opinionated, outspoken and scathing, as well as a perfectionist with an intense personality. Two of his biggest peeves are the sorry state of American education and the indifference of the United States to world affairs. Oddly enough, those happen to be two of mine, as well.

Geena Davis, whose birth date is the day after Maher’s, also has a fixed Grand Cross, and is known for an IQ as high as she is tall. She won an Oscar for her performance in The Accidental Tourist, will never be forgotten for her role in Thelma & Louise, proved that women can be winning athletes in A League of Their Own, and titillated many a man as a swashbuckling pirate in Cutthroat Island,  but she has many interests outside of acting. She has her own institute for gender equality in the media, owns a production company, is a competitive archer who tried out for the Olympics, a member of Mensa, an accomplished musician who plays piano, flute and drums, and also creates cartoon strips. True to the splash arrangement of her chart, she has many irons in the fire. Her fixed cross has several outlets (trines and sextiles) to other planets that enable her to redirect energy for easier advancement. She is able to avoid the Grand Cross trap of having to sink into a painful status quo in order to survive in the world.

I have no such outlet. My Grand Cross is a closed system. I have one simple trine, but it’s not connected to the cross at all. And this is where I return to the question of fate vs. free will.

A new friend of mine, a warm, kind, highly successful woman blessed with a chart that exudes success, is an enthusiastic advocate of giving back. She spreads good karma everywhere she goes in a quiet, humble way. She is generous of heart, mind and spirit and I cherish her friendship. But the other day I ended a phone call with her in tears because even though her mother is a life-long astrologer, my friend clearly doesn’t understand that when someone is in a down cycle, they can row their boat until their arms fall off and they are not going to reach shore. The best they can do is to keep rowing just to stay afloat and even that seems to take every ounce of energy they can muster. I have a need and desire to push a certain business venture forward, but my hands are tied at every turn and it’s hard as hell to row that way. It feels as though my friend believes that I am just not rowing hard enough. When she asked when my chart indicates my next good day and I told her at the end of April, I don’t think she believed it could take that long. Those who have never experienced the energy of a fixed cross have no idea how desperate and painful it feels. She doesn’t realize I would change it if I could, but this is my fate.

Another case in point is a recent client whose chart has a hundred times the business and money acumen of my friend’s. Both of their charts indicate they have lived many past lives as highly successful businessmen (or women) at the expense of family ties and emotional development. This man is in an enviable income bracket, one whose prosperity I would normally relate to greed, and for whom I could muster very little sympathy, if any at all. But the truth is, after speaking with him and finding him to be a humble individual whose thoughts and worries are not for himself, but for those he loves, and seeing the inconceivable, unimaginable pounding his life is taking from the current alignment of the planets, I have nothing but the deepest, most heartfelt sympathy for him. I have never before seen a chart that looks as crushing, and truly wish I could reach up and rearrange the orbits of the planets for him. He understands astrology and knows what is happening, how long it will last, and what the repercussions will be, but he hoped that maybe, just maybe, his will could win out over his fate.

"Ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt," 
it is said.
"The Fates lead the willing one, 
the unwilling one they drag."