The Cardinal Grand Cross: some thoughts on astrology as a healing and a wounding art….

Commentaries are piling up throughout the astro-blogosphere. Angst-ridden people with greater or lesser degrees of astrological knowledge are winding  themselves up. What will the impact on our lives be, as the dramatic  Grand Cross pattern builds up in the heavens to its point of exactitude on 23rd/24th April 2014 ? To see what’s building up collectively, just read the papers. Political turmoil across the world, disasters on air and sea – these are just for starters….

Cardinal Grand Cross 2014
Cardinal Grand Cross 2014

Rather than add to the current air of nail-biting tension– addressed in his usual humorously ascerbic way by astrologer Matthew Currie, I thought I’d take off in a somewhat different direction by contemplating both the healing and the wounding aspects of the practice of astrology.

We don’t hear much about the latter dimension! But large scale panics over eg the End of Millennium Eclipse of 11 August 1999, and the Winter Solstice of 2012 (folks – we’re still here….) vividly demonstrate that  contemplating the symbolic patterns of the heavens frightens as well as enlightens us, even in this supposedly secular age.

Wounding, healing and the art of astrology

(It is important at this point to emphasise to readers who are familiar only with Sun Signs that to get ‘beyond the Sun Signs’ requires an individual’s horoscope to be drawn up for the date, place AND time of birth. Human beings are complex and contradictory. It’s not possible to approach any satisfying symbolic exploration of that complexity through the Sun or Star Sign alone.)

Astrology itself neither heals nor wounds. Having  arisen aeons ago from attempts to create a meaningful context to human life through observation of the physical movements of the planets in the heavens, whether such a framework is experienced as wounding or healing is heavily predicated upon the attitude of the individuals who choose to use it:

“The fault, dear Brutus, is  not  in our stars,
But in ourselves, that  we are underlings.”

(W.Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2)

It is easy enough to talk about the positive healing benefits of an astrological framework, providing as it does a major defence against meaninglessness and insignificance. Feeling connected at a personal level to loved ones and friends is recognised as a major factor in promoting and maintaining physical, emotional and mental health and happiness.

Feeling connected at a more cosmic level lets us see that  we are not random accidents in time and space, but threads in the weave of a greater pattern – very small threads perhaps, but contributors nevertheless. This awareness promotes a sense of spiritual well being.

There is also the sheer fun, excitement and intellectual discovery which the study of astrology brings.

Every bright light, however, has a dark shadow; in the promethean nature of our art  lies its shadow too. It is all very well to steal the gods’ fire, as Prometheus did, with the noble intention of  liberating humanity from some of its bonds with the powerful enlightenment which that fire brings.

But fire burns. It is impossible to light up the darkness of our human limitations of perception, without the hand that holds the illuminating fire being burned by it. It’s not so easy to talk about that. But it does less than justice, in exploring the impact of the astrological model on human consciousness, to concentrate on the healing aspects of the interaction,  whilst glossing over the wounding dimensions. Exposure to the model brings both.

I  always attempted to restore a sense of perspective on this issue by pointing out to my astrology  students that for the whole of human history most of humanity has managed to stagger through life without the benefit of astrological knowledge.

On one occasion, I asked a small group of my  tutorial students, who had studied and practised for long enough to experience both the light and the shadow facets of our great art, to write something about its healing and wounding dimensions. I was delighted by the honesty and perceptiveness of their feedback. Here is what Charlotte, 35 at the time of my asking, had to say.


(not her real name – data withheld for confidentiality)

 I’ve never really been asked to consider the wounding aspects of astrology in such a direct way before. I did have a bit of a job focusing on the question without the more positive aspects coming up all the time! I think the serious study of astrology knocked me out of the idyllic vision I had had of my family background. I had to accept that my parents weren’t perfect, and the overall effect of this was enlightening but also disappointing. It kind of knocked me into the real world and showed me things as they were which I found quite hard to come to terms with.

Seeing things in black and white on the astrological chart  led to a lot of resentment on my part, raising a lot of difficult questions which I’m still working hard to understand. I think this can sometimes sidetrack me and stop me getting on with things, and lead to some disasters which might not have occurred otherwise – although I would say I do have a natural tendency to analyse things anyway. Astrology just provides more scope for this.

There is also the question “ why me? Why did I have to have this chart?” which may be quite childish, but did lead at one time to some resentment at the apparent unfairness of it all. Especially when you are grappling with hard Pluto and Saturn aspects. You know you have your work cut out for you, and that life is not going to be easy. The prospect of living your life with these aspects can be quite daunting and depressing, and lead to a lot of despondency at times.

Another factor that’s hard to take on board is that you are responsible for yourself. You can’t go around blaming other people for your misfortunes all the time. You have to take responsibility for your part in the drama. It’s your stuff, and you’re the only one who can deal with it. This can lead to a lot of self criticism on my part, and a good deal of depression if things aren’t working out.

Looking at  it from a promethean point of view, Prometheus stole fire from the gods. He knew he would suffer for it, but he also, I think, knew on some intuitive level that he was doing the right thing. And in the end he was released from his suffering. Personally, I couldn’t not know. Otherwise I wouldn’t have pursued the subject as long as I have. I just hope it works out for me in the end too”.

This is one person’s vivid perspective on the implications of knowing her natal horoscope. I’d be interested to have comments on this issue from my readers, either by email, or via comments left on this post. And of course  – how was that  Cardinal Grand Cross for you? 

1150 words copyright Anne Whitaker/”Charlotte” 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

6 thoughts on “The Cardinal Grand Cross: some thoughts on astrology as a healing and a wounding art….

  1. Thank you for another wonderful, deep post. You’re right– the impacts of the light and the shadow side of Astrology (as well as all of the metaphysical arts) must be considered.

  2. I have a question for you Anne…is it possible to get an accurate chart without knowing the time of birth? There is some mystery around my birth…I was told that I was born in the Grave Hospital in Ottawa, but when I paid the fee to the hospital to have my records checked for the time of birth, I was told I wasn’t born in that hospital. ,

    (Bev, your reply appears below Linda (of Shoreacres)’s comment and my reply to her. I have no idea why my comment thread sometimes does backflips on me….)

  3. Just for a little background, I did some browsing of sites that gave very simple explanations of the Grand Cross, and Cardinal Grand Cross. I laughed out loud when I found this in the Wiki: ” A cardinal Grand Cross is said to cause a particular difficulty in accomplishing goals because the individual wants to accomplish everything at the same time.”

    Oh, yeh. Been there and done that, and not only at the time of a Cardinal Grand Cross! I don’t worry much about Mercury in retrograde, but I might want to attend more closely to this phenomenon!

    1. Hi Linda
      thanks for dropping by and letting us know what the wisdom of Wiki is on this phenomenon! Having done some browsing, you will probably now understand why I had no desire to add to the general hype and range of conflicting views on this, and went off on a different tack. I think there’s a lot to be said for simply getting on with life as best one can during those times of conflicting energies, and becoming wise regarding what they may mean, after the event….

  4. Hi Bev
    Well, the most accurate horoscope or birth chart you can have is when you can provide an exact birth time, along with the date and place of birth. This enables the astrologer to find the precise degrees of the Ascendant or
    Rising sign, the Midheaven point and the twelve houses or life sectors e.g. home, career, relationships etc. From this one can derive very clear descriptions of the key characters (as it were) on the person’s life stage, and their interactions both in terms of harmony and conflict. One can also apply accurate timings to life events.

    Without a birth time at all, there are two measures I – and probably other astrologers – use. One is to cast a Sunrise chart for the time of sunrise on the day of birth, which places the Sun on the Ascendant point. The rest of the planetary positions, houses and the Midheaven point can then be seen in relation to that time. Alternately, one can cast a chart for noon on the day of birth, which places the sun at the Midheaven or noon point which dictates where the rest of the planets are placed on this particular horoscope.

    I have been fortunate enough to be based in Scotland where birth times are written on Birth Certificates – a great advantage for any astrologer practising in this country. So I have mostly had accurate times to work with, and have not been at all keen on doing readings without a reliable birth time. However, I have done a few charts over the years for people with no known birth time, casting either Sunrise or Noon charts for them.

    I have used Sunrise charts when clients are more concerned with personal and relationship issues: this is because the Ascendant/Descendant axis relates to I / Thou matters. If clients are more focused on career/direction, then I have used noon charts. This is because the Noon or Midheaven point, the highest point of the Sun in the sky, concerns a person’s direction and vocation.

    This fairly simple rule of thumb I have found to work quite well, and to be quite accurate as far as it goes. And there is the point that the positions of the personal planets (with the exception of the Moon which moves 14 degrees per day) from the Sun to Mars move very little from one day to the next. One can thus gain valuable insights just by looking at the relationships between the planets on the day of birth.

    So, I hope this information is useful to you. I don’t do horoscope readings except in person, but can recommend a colleague who would give you a good reading using one of the options I’ve described. Just email me if you want to pursue this!

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