Painting: Fall of the Giants, Jacob Jordaens

Mythical Roots of the Cardinal Cross

If you want a larger-than-life view of human nature, look to mythology! The astrology of the Cardinal Cross springs to life with a whole new dimension when we look at the mythology involved in the principle planets.

Article Series: At the Cardinal Crossroads

Mythology & Astrology in the Cardinal Cross

Astrology and mythology have always been natural soul mates. For one thing, the planets were named after Roman gods (the planetary names used by Western culture, anyway). Astrological planetary energies also tap into archetypes that colour and reflect our experiences, behaviour, perceptions and understanding of life.

Cardinal Cross planetsBetween the four primary planets in the Cardinal Cross, we have truth (Jupiter), freedom (Uranus), responsibility (Saturn) and power (Pluto) all vying for dominance within an aspect structure that is based on conflict, problem-solving and dynamic action. The deities in mythology whom the planets were named after are all related in very significant and revealing ways.

The Mythological Dysfunctional Family

In the most commonly known version of the myth, Uranus (Ouranos to the Greeks) mated with Gaia (the Earth) but he despised the children that resulted. He hid them in Tartarus, a terrible dark place deep in Gaia's belly (inside the Earth) even lower than the underworld. Gaia developed a cosmic stomach ache and appealed to her suppressed children to rise up and take revenge on their wicked father. With Gaia's help, Saturn (Cronus/Kronos) castrated Uranus, thus freeing himself and his Titan siblings from captivity.

If you've studied or read anything about the dynamics of dysfunctional families, you'll know that family patterns have a way of repeating from generation to generation. Sure enough, Saturn suffered a similar fate. Having learned that he was prophesied to be deposed by his own son, just as he had overthrown Uranus, Saturn ate each of his children as soon as they were born. After five children were gulped, his wife Rhea decided to trick Saturn by giving him a stone to swallow, and instead brought the newborn Jupiter (Zeus) to a cave where he could grow up safely hidden from his father.

When Jupiter was old enough, he fed Saturn a poison that forced him to regurgitate the swallowed children. What ensued was the War of the Titans, in which Zeus and his freed siblings overthrew Saturn and the other Titans, and afterwards banished many of them to Tartarus.

Among Jupiter's newly liberated siblings was Pluto (Hades/Haides). After Pluto and Neptune helped Jupiter defeat the Titans, they drew lots to divide up their rulership of the cosmos. As a result, Jupiter became ruler of the sky and air, and Neptune ruled the seas. Pluto got the underworld, including Tartarus, to which most of the Titans were outcast.

Alas, it is said the more things change, the more they remain the same. The family pattern of troubled relationships between father and children did not stop with Jupiter/Zeus. When Metis, Zeus' first wife, became pregnant he didn't even wait for the birth, but swallowed Metis whole! As a result, Athene was born in Zeus' stomach and Metis continued to nurture her daughter there, forging a suit of armor for her. This gave Zeus a colossal headache, and when his head was split open to relieve the pain (by whom varies in different versions), out sprang fully grown Athene in full armor! Sadly, Metis never re-emerged but stayed engulfed within Zeus.

Zeus took many different wives over time, rather than staying with just one. Although he didn't attempt to prevent future offspring, neither did he seem to stick around after the kids were born. And so, a similar pattern began to emerge but in a slightly different form. Instead of repressing his children, as his father and grandfather had done, Zeus' solution was simply to not have much to do with them. Abandonment and rejection through oppression were merely replaced with distance and indifference.

Jupiter and Uranus – the Inevitable Truth

So what does this mean astrologically for the Cardinal Cross? There are some intriguing alignments and interactions happening in the Cardinal T-square, revealing some very interesting dynamics between their mythological counterparts.

Uranus and Jupiter, grandfather and grandson in the myth, are now conjoined as planets. At first they seem like odd allies, but they are aligned at a couple of points in the mythological story. For example, it was Uranus and Gaia who helped Jupiter's mother save him by suggesting she hide him from Saturn. And later, when Jupiter learns that he too is destined to be overthrown by his own son, he takes the advice of Uranus and Gaia again, who naturally advise him to suppress the inevitable. As a result, Jupiter gulps down the pregnant Metis.

However, if there is a repeating moral to this mythical story, it is that the truth will always out. In all three generations the censored reality inevitably surfaces. Saturn escapes captivity by maiming his father, Uranus. Jupiter comes out of hiding to depose his father, Saturn. And Athene is reborn from the head of her father, Zeus, after being consumed.

The Jupiter-Uranus planetary conjunction therefore seems to hint that there is something that has been hidden or suppressed which is now emerging. This can apply to both the collective and the personal consciousness. It could also affect something more tangible, like billions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, exposing practices and policies that were being followed behind closed doors which led to the disaster.

The mythology also suggests that if we try to suppress or conceal whatever is being revealed, we run the risk of simply perpetuating the same old patterns. Life is about change, and if we try to hang onto the old outworn structures and our usual way of responding to them, we will learn little from the experience and will likely just watch history repeating itself. Somehow the revealed truth must be dealt with differently or the same old issues are just reincarnated into new forms.

Saturn – Learning From the Past

Opposite to Uranus and Jupiter is Saturn, the victorious son of Uranus and defeated father of Jupiter. Saturn is in a unique position to truly understand both sides of the drama. He has been suppressed and has freed himself from bondage – he knows what it's like to be reviled, exiled and abandoned by the very person who gave him life.

Saturn has also been conquered by his own creation—a force he tried unsuccessfully to control and restrain. He knows what it's like to face his own demise at the hands of something of his own making. And he understands what it's like to feel such an urgent need to survive that he would even consume his own offspring.

If the Saturn part of us has learned its lesson—and Saturn is always a teacher of lessons—then we are in a position to assess and respond more objectively to the Jupiter-Uranus truth that is exploding out from its hiding place. In that case, we should be able to take a calm, grounded look at the situation, figure out effective solutions and where we can realistically go from here.

But what if that Saturn part of us is still nursing its wounds? We may be holding onto blame and resentment for the history that once blocked our path. Or, we might be stuck in condemnation of the inevitable consequences that came from our past actions—consequences that had to conquer us in order to get our attention. If we're still learning these lessons, the Cardinal Cross could bring a repeat of the same old patterns. This is because we're probably going to respond to what's happening now with the same kind of attitude and limited understanding that gave rise to that pattern to begin with. There is no shame in this—learning takes as long as it takes, and it's not usually possible or wise to try to "push the river." However, it's good to be aware and honest with yourself about where you're at in the process.

As the saying goes: If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. If we use our Saturn energy to merely suppress, control or stifle change, we'll just go around the circle again. If we use Saturn to try and force an ineffective solution to work anyway, then we're back on that treadmill again wondering why we're not making any real or lasting progress. Instead, a better use of Saturn is to provide strength for structure, order, accountability, pacing ourselves and facing reality. These Saturnian qualities can support constructive change, instead of inflicting or being overrun by destructive upheaval.

Pluto – Transforming the Past

Pluto is an interesting addition to the Cardinal Cross mix. In the myth, he is one of Jupiter's consumed siblings. After his liberation, Pluto helps Jupiter conquer their father, Saturn. He is then designated to rule the underworld realms, where the Titans are banished at the end of the Titan War. It could be said that his role is to keep the "Titan-ic" past problems contained, so that the present can unfold and evolve unencumbered.

Astrologically, Pluto is about power, death, rebirth and transformation. The Pluto archetype seeks to hold you in place and prevent escape, so that you work through the process and metamorphose into something new. He keeps you in contact with whatever is going on in the present moment—internally or externally—so that you can eventually come to terms with and let go of what was; so that the past can remain in the past. In a way, his job is to ensure that whatever goes forward into the future belongs there, and is not simply a regurgitation of the past.

Saturn opposite Jupiter-Uranus brings out challenges, struggles, conflicts and/or crises between the past, present and future. They bring inevitable confrontations between the bastions of the old and the raw potential of the new. This "War of the Titans" can stir up a lot of chaos, confusion and instability. Therefore, in the midst of this turmoil, Pluto's role is to (1) sort out the past from the future, (2) ensure that evolutionary metamorphosis progresses as much as is possible, and (3) surround the drama with a strong containment field that will keep the transformation process from leaking out or becoming diluted.

In other words, the Cardinal Cross could easily feel rather intense, chaotic, disruptive and ominous. But that's what birth is like. It's messy and crazy and uncertain and thrilling, with a lot of pressure pushing you forward. And it's often the only way something truly new can emerge. Pluto's ultimate message is to trust the process and stay in the struggle until it's done.

Transition and Transformation

Throughout 2010 we are likely to see dramas being played out between the Titans and Gods of our modern times – the mega-corporations, national and international power plays, political and ideological groups, and so on.

Those who represent a "new order" strive to gain more power and influence, only to encounter those representing the "old order" who want to oppress, inhibit, control or exile them. Likewise, those who stand for the "old order" endeavour to maintain stability, structure, continuity and the best of what has been, only to find their efforts constantly disrupted by those envisioning a "new order" who are determined not to remain stuck in the current systems that are plagued by inadequacies, problems and rigidity.

If a cooperative transition cannot be established between these factions, a "War of the Titans" could result. Like the children and grandchildren of Uranus, the "next generation" (literally or symbolically) may believe they have no choice but to wrest control and power from the "past generation" by force, or risk remaining trapped and compelled to lie in wait for the next opportunity for revolution. However if that happens, with the Uranus-Pluto square approaching over the next few years it seems more likely that revolution would occur sooner rather than later.

No matter what happens, we are no doubt witnessing a process in 2010 that will facilitate or initiate a transition from one phase of development into the next. We don't have much room left for repeating the same old mistakes. Our planet and its inhabitants are increasingly suffering under the methods, policies and actions of those in power who have historically made the decisions.

Our planet has also been growing smaller, as groups, nations, cultures and alliances are now interacting on a scale that is unprecedented. Tensions, intolerances and conflicts are escalating, as groups that used to mostly steer clear of each other must now share proximity on many levels – geographically, politically, economically, ecologically, socially and culturally. Tolerant and preferably peaceful co-existence is essential to our mutual survival.

We no longer have the luxury of ignoring or trivializing the consequences of our decisions and leave them to future generations to deal with. Like Jupiter, we must find the courage to change our minds and discover new ways to transform the old patterns. Maybe the new solutions won't be perfect, but we can't respond to the same old problems in the same old dysfunctional and ineffective ways.

The Cardinal Cross is a dynamic energy that challenges us into growth that moves in a new direction, while avoiding the wanton destruction of the established foundation as much as possible. The change is not likely to be easy or simple, but we must find ways to survive our current growing pains or else we risk mutual failure. If we can learn from the mythology and the astrology—if we can trust the process and muster the courage to change the steps of the dance—then we will have a chance to survive and thrive together.

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