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 (in Esoteric Astrology change, crisis, synthesis) and where the planets fit into this triple cycle. Although the actions of the three crosses differ slightly between the archetypal (the cosmos), the global (humanity as a whole) and on the path of individual development or discipleship, this cycle also evokes the power of the primary three rays of attribute and their related principles of life—consciousness—form that underpin the entire philosophy of Esoteric Astrology. It shows how these three essential states are expressed respectively by Jupiter-Saturn-Mercury in the individual horoscope. The roles of the “veiled” planets Uranus, Neptune and Vulcan are shown behind each of the three principles.

Cardinal
Life: points of crucial synthesis leading to breakthrough
Axis one: AriesLibra Equinoxes representing critical turning points of balance
Axis two: CancerCapricorn Solstices representing peak 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 crosses are central to assessing the esoteric horoscope, indicating as they do the predominant emphasis of an individual life—the dominant cross reveals the overall guiding purpose or specific area of focus for a life to have a successful psychological and spiritual outcome. While individuals are predominantly on a specific cross that represents the current developmental emphasis for that lifetime. This emphasis can shift to one of the other two crosses as the process requires (e.g. by progression or transit) and as the change-crisis-synthesis cycles in and out of phase (EA 350)

the three Crosses… will eventually supersede the houses in the horoscope and the 12 arms of the three crosses will take the place of the 12 houses when casting the horoscope of the soul. (EA 480)

The three paths, globally and individually

In the widest sense, each cross symbolises a specific kind of human response to three cosmic influences (EA 57-58, 415):

Cardinal
Path of Initiation or full human potential
Integrative, consolidation and expansion
responsiveness to the three major constellations
Fixed
Path of Growth and integration (conscious development or “discipleship”)
Active, conscious engagement with growth
responsiveness to the twelve zodiacal constellations (and their signs)
Mutable
Path of Evolution and gradual development
Passive, gained through experience
responsiveness to planetary influences

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 cyclically, moving through each area and the signs on each cross until they are all blended and balanced.

The triple cycle on each cross

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 three crosses all have a role and are present in every chart, and although one may predominate in any specific horoscope, emphasis can shift at different life periods, or more rapidly during a “growth spurt”, with progressions and transits stimulating experiences on a particular cross. Three key planets—Mercury, Saturn and Uranus—are also crucial indicators of the individual experience of the processes on each cross. The three “veiled” planets Vulcan, Neptune and Uranus symbolise the archetypal forces that embody the power of each cross, so can also help assess the overall strength of a cross in a chart or at any time (e.g. by transit and progression).

Mutable—evolution, change
The Mutable cross represents the day-to-day and largely unconscious process of learning through experience—the phrase “from 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 managing our behaviour.
…changing and absorbed Experience … action and of reaction, …karmic control … response to impacts leading to the awakening of consciousness to the nature of the goal ahead. (EA 144)
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 the outcome is desirable.
Indicator: placement of Mercuryresponse to fluidity
Sign Rulerships: orthodox/traditional
Fixed—learning, crisis
The Fixed cross represents the conscious development of awareness and the growth process; the path of intentional 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 Cardinal peaks of understanding.
Transmutation. Desire becomes aspiration, and selfishness is transformed into selflessness. (EA 144)
Challenge-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.
Indicator: placement of Saturnopportunity through challenge
Sign Rulerships: esoteric/developmental
Cardinal—wisdom, synthesis
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 swiftly and dramatically or gradually with compassion.
Transcendence. Personality life, …form life and planetary life no longer control. The [individual] stands free. (EA 144)
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.
Indicator: placement of Jupiterinclusive unification
Sign Rulerships: hierarchical/transpersonal

Exoteric astrology deals with the characteristics and qualities of the personality and… the form aspects, and also with… events, happenings, circumstances and the conditioning environment … in the personal horoscope, indicative of planetary control and not of solar control. Esoteric astrology concerns itself primarily with the unfoldment of consciousness, …the impacts which awaken it to the peculiar “gifts” of any particular sign and ray endowment and with the reaction of the individual and their consequent enrichment through… response to the influence of a sign, working through the esoteric planets from the angle of humanitarian awareness, discipleship and initiation. This deals basically with experience from the angle of the three Crosses: first, mutation, then direction, and finally initiation. Increasingly, these three Crosses will take a prominent place in astrological delineation. (EA 145 edited)

The personal points and the crosses

Alan Leo connects the three personal points (Asc-Sun-Moon) to the Cardinal-Fixed-Mutable crosses (Leo, A., The Art of Synthesis, p167) and while this can be seen as an overall correspondence, each personal point is experienced in different ways on each of the crosses until after the third initiation, at which point the kind of lunar influences that pull us into habitual and reactive behaviours are more or less behind us, and its influence on our behaviour wanes.

Esoteric Astrology: 350, 480