The three crosses

The 3 crosses in esoteric astrology

The diagram shows how the three crosses are expressed through the cycle of synthesis—intensification—activity by various planets. Although the actions of the three crosses differ slightly between the archetypal (the cosmos), global (humanity as a whole) and individual, this cycle also relates to the primary three rays and the qualities of life—consciousness—form (life = will):

Cardinal
Life: points of crucial synthesis leading to breakthrough
Axis one: AriesLibra Equinoxes representing critical points of balance
Axis two: CancerCapricorn Solstices representing points of abundance
Fixed
Consciousness: conflict or intensification leading to harmony
Axis one: TaurusScorpio Self-worth and shared worth: clearing emotional resistance to growth
Axis two: LeoAquarius Defining the self; locating that self within the group/society
Mutable
Form: periods of change and re-orientation
Axis one: GeminiSagittarius Relation of the personal to the transpersonal self: personal integration
Axis two: VirgoPisces Love and nurturing of the self, strength to care for others

The three paths, globally and individually

In the wider sense, each cross symbolises a specific kind of human activity:

Cardinal
Path of initiation or full human potential
Integrative, consolidation and expansion
Fixed
Path of growth and integration (“discipleship”)
Active, conscious engagement with growth
Mutable
Path of evolution and gradual development
Passive, gained through experience

Although these paths suggest distinct “phases” in human development—which is true to a certain extent when considering humanity as a whole—as individuals we tend to experience them cyclicly, moving through each area until they are balanced. These cycles of Change, Intensity and Synthesis will be familiar to anyone engaging in a life path chosen to expand consciousness and increase self—and eventually group—awareness.

The triple cycle on each cross

The three crosses each have a role and are present in every chart, and although one may predominate in the birth chart, emphasis can shift at different life periods, or more rapidly during a “growth spurt” with progressions and transits. This process can be witnessed in humanity as a whole, as well as in individual lives. In more detail:

Mutable—evolution
Action-Consequence-Knowledge
Immediacy—short-term view: if I/we do/think/say that, this is the result, so I/we will either avoid if the outcome causes pain, or repeat it if there is pleasure.
Placement of Mercury—response to fluidity
Fixed—learning
Deed-Crisis-Understanding
Tension—mid-term view: my actions/thoughts/deeds have caused a crisis/conflict, which I can only resolve and change in future if I understand why this has happened.
Placement of Saturn—opportunity through challenge
Cardinal—wisdom
Change-Intensity-Synthesis
Persistence—long-term view: intentional changes can cause tension between existing and emerging states, resolved by either breaking current patterns or merging them into the new.
Placement of Jupiter—inclusive unification

The Mutable cross represents the day-to-day and largely unconscious process of learning through experience—the phrase “bitter experience” describes well how this can be unpleasant until we learn to avoid causing pain, or repeated often enough for us to start thinking about changing our behaviour.

The Fixed cross represents the conscious development of awareness and the growth process; the trial-and-error path of psychological development during which we begin to understand the consequences of our actions, their impact on others and on our own lives. Throughout, we dip in and out of the Mutable need for experience and the Cardinal peaks of understanding.

The Cardinal cross represents the awareness of taking deliberated action that may “break the symmetry” of a stable state that has outlived its usefulness, causing an intense transition to a new state, summed up well by the phrase “ponder long, then act swiftly” (paraphrased from Roman historian Sallust, 86-34 BC). This can be carried through harshly and swiftly, or gradually with compassion.