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 as change, crisis, synthesis) and where the planets fit into this 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, this cycle also evokes the power of the primary three rays of attribute, the related three principles of life—consciousness—form that permeate Esoteric Astrology, and how these three essential states are expressed respectively by Jupiter-Saturn-Mercury in the individual horoscope.

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
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
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 overall guiding purpose essential to the specific area of focus for that life to have a successful psychological and spiritual outcome. While individuals are predominantly on a specific cross that represents 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). (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 wider sense, each cross symbolises a specific kind of human activity:

Path of initiation or full human potential
Integrative, consolidation and expansion
Path of growth and integration (“discipleship”)
Active, conscious engagement with growth
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 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 indcators 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).

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.
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
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.
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
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.
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

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.

References from Esoteric Astrology: 350, 480