Synastry Studies: The Fixed Cross and the Urge to Merge (Part Three)

Please read Part Two of this series here.

I’m going to begin this last part of the series by spending a little time discussing T-squares and how they operate. We were discussing crosses in one of my classes last week, and a colleague/student of mine very nicely articulated an astrological truth: we talk a lot about the balance of polarities, but this is, in fact, an illusion. As much an illusion as the idea that having a partner is going to solve all your problems. The truth is that having a partner is, more often than not, going to bring up your problems and ‘issues’ as they have never been brought up before. Polarities force us to articulate in the outer world what may have been, previously, merely internal conflict, conscious or unconscious. The ‘two’ moves out from the ‘one.’ Partnerships are a natural mirror to our inner selves. On the whole, those inner selves are not balanced. That’s what the struggle of partnership is for.

How do we balance polarities and help them flow? The secret is in the two squares that form a cross to the polarity. Crosses are stable. They have purpose. They have a bad reputation because when you have one in your chart, it’s difficult to get all the pieces working together–sometimes it’s like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube. We stall and hit bumps along the way. But crosses, when we work with them, when they settle, they take off. They fly. I think of them as wheels that gain momentum and keep on spinning faster and faster. A kind of a cross forms when we get our T squares working by focusing on the ‘empty’ arm of a T square. It’s as though the ‘empty’ house provides the gravity for the scale that’s created via the T square. Without gravity, we have no balance.

It makes a difference whether the ‘arm’ that creates the T-square is applying or separating. If we look at the natural zodiac, the applying T-square to the fixed cross would be Leo and the 5th house. If you think of the polarity of 2 and 8 as a scale, the 5th house would be the base of that scale, the thing the polarity fixes itself upon. Both 2 and 8 have to learn to work together via the 5, and in real terms.

What this means on the astrological journey is that both the second house and the eighth house have to find some grounding in the fifth. If we don’t find a way to process and express our second house talents and gifts, via the fifth house, we will come empty handed to the eighth. If our talents and gifts are not expressed in the fifth and shared in the eighth, they will languish. They will remain in an infantile state and never develop, and we will spend our days wondering why we don’t feel fulfilled, either in our life or in our relationships. This energetic patterning is not an easy process; it’s a square, and squares require conscious awareness. We have an instinct of who we are and what we have to contribute, but we need to pass through both the third house of communication and connection and the fourth house of emotional grounding before we arrive at the house of self-expression. Before we express ourselves, there needs to be a healthy awareness of Self to begin with–in our early years we identify with ego, but as expression develops we become more and more aware that we are channels for the higher inspiration of the 11th house. Conflicts between the second and the fifth houses (or, if the house is unoccupied, to the ruler of the fifth) can show difficulties with developing a sense of self strong enough to allow expression. The ruler of the fifth house is important in and of itself, whether or not the house is occupied. For example, if Saturn rules the fifth, and is squared by Pluto in the natal chart, the very act of creation may conjure up a monster that causes us to feel as if we’re in danger of being destroyed. We will avoid creating anything genuine for fear (Saturn) that we will be punished for our selfish ego-based impulses. Conversely, planets squaring between the second and fifth houses may cause us to have a compulsion to express ourselves, and depending on the planets, may provide a difficult but rewarding avenue of expression. Whether or not we can or wish to share our creative process has to do with the square between 5 and 8.

If the second house (or its ruler, if ‘empty’) is debilitated and the fifth house is strong, you can get the Leonine types who are always expressing themselves but don’t have much to say, or those who are crying out for expression and come up frustrated and empty handed. Outer planets in the second can remove us from our immediate sense of ‘having’ and we may have to wrestle with ourselves for years to battle the void and replace it with spiritual direction and fortitude. The outer planet will force us to look inward for sustenance and substance, and until we do we may be staring at a blank canvas.

Astrologers tend to forget that the fifth house also pertains to our sexuality. The eighth house is about the active merging of two beings, but the fifth house is all about how we express our individual sexual energy. Say we have lots of ‘commitment’ signatures in our chart–Saturn on the Descendant, or a Venus/Saturn or lots of relationship planets in Earth. All well and good, but if we have a Mars/Jupiter/Uranus conjunction in the fifth house, we’re still going to be curious, experimental and most likely a bit kinky. People who have a packed fifth house and not much going on in the eighth are more likely to stick with more casual relationships and be wary of the commitments that those who have seventh and eighth house emphasis jump into readily. If there is a packed fifth house and an opposition between the second and eighth houses, there can be conflicts between wanting to commit (or at least wrestle with something more permanent), but with a lingering unwillingness to give up the independence of the fifth house orientation. In the fifth house, our sexual expression is about ‘me,’ whereas in the eighth, is about ‘us’ and how we are able to merge and re-emerge as a unit. A heavy fifth house prevents the temporary loss of individual Self required to properly engage in the eighth.

If the second and eighth houses are emphasized and there is a debilitated fifth house or fifth house ruler, we may be too keen to jump into partnership, or too naive, and may be shocked when our own self-expression (our sense of Self) is lost or thwarted by the interaction. We may not be aware of our own sexual needs, what we need to feel relaxed and confident, what we need to have a sense of fun and play. Without the fifth house, the conflicts between 2 and 8 can be high drama, with all the Taurus/Scorpio dynamic kicking in–all battles will feel like a battle to the death, because we don’t know how to let go.

That the 11th house is a part of this Sturm und Drang can be very confusing. The natural conflicts between Taurus, Leo and Scorpio can be sensed, but what the heck is Aquarius doing in this picture? Well, yes, Aquarius can think that it’s above it all, but that’s besides the point. Basically, the 11th house and Aquarius is about what’s best for all concerned, and what comes down from Uranus, ultimately, is the wisdom to see that very thing. Unlike Neptune and the 12th, the energy of the 11th and Aquarius is very conscious, very aware. Uranus, after all, is about higher Mind. And it’s concern is not about the individual, but how the individual can best serve the group.

The theatre is Leonine in its expression, but ultimately it’s about group creativity, which is an 11th house function. People who are not in the theatre are always curious about two things: one, ‘how do you learn all those lines?’ (Answer: Practice, and sweat) and two, ‘how can you stand up there and do that in front of all of these people?’

An interesting question. A friend of mine who is an actor is fond of pointing out that the only time in nature one is stared at is when one is about to be eaten. What allows actors to overcome this natural fear is the secret to all creative expression: whatever project is on hand, it has a purpose, and a goal. It isn’t about individual egos up there, but it’s about coming together to serve the work. Everyone may be nervous for the first couple of days of rehearsal, but after that it becomes clear that the project is what matters. For a project to work well, individual egos have to be subsumed and directed by a greater impetus. When it works, and everyone feels confident enough to let go of fear, it’s an amazing feeling. There is a strength that flows through everyone involved; the kind of other-worldly strength that allows you to perform night after night, through illness, deaths, divorces and bad reviews. Because it isn’t about you at all. Anyone who has sung in a choir knows this feeling–those nights when the voices unite and the chill runs down your spine, and you feel the presence of something greater running through you. This isn’t the merge and dissolve of the 12th. It’s a union of the individual and the universal.

This is the impetus and the power of the 11th house. Finding this power is the goal of the fixed cross. If the 11th house is debilitated in some way, we may find that neither our lives nor our relationships have purpose. Without the 11th house, our partnerships have nowhere to go. (I find it very interesting that in successful partnerships without children (5th house) there is a natural gravitational pull towards doing something purposeful together (11th). Squares between 8 and 11 may find this tough going. Squares between 2 and 11 may want to serve, but have no idea where to begin.

When we get the pieces of the fixed cross all working together, our lives begin to soar, powered by an ever-present and ever-renewing Source. We no longer feel bankrupt in any sense, but are forever and effortlessly renewed.

I’m told it’s bad Latin, but I will stick with it anyway: Fixius, to put to flight.