diagram Mars Cardinal Cross

2014: Mars Awakens the Cardinal Cross

The Cardinal Cross (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Pluto) made a comeback in 2014. Jupiter and Mars moved into position to form a Grand Cross aspect pattern, reactivating the dynamic energy of the Uranus-Pluto square!

Article Series: Back to the Cardinal Crossroads

Mars Management

Strap yourself in and get ready for a wild ride over the next several weeks! That Cardinal T-square that's been following us since the beginning of 2014? The one with Jupiter opposite Pluto and Uranus square to both of them? Well, this aspect pattern is turning into a Grand Cross — think of it as a T-square with a serious attitude problem.

Both aspect patterns (the Grand Cross, sometimes also called a Grand Square, and the T-square) hinge on the Uranus-Pluto square. After 4 passes over the last 2 years, and even longer before that leading up to them, are you sick of Uranus-Pluto yet?? Well don't start planning the farewell party just yet — we still have 3 more passes: Apr.21, Dec.15 and Mar.16.2015.

What's happening now, extending over the next 5 weeks, is that Mars is retrograding back to take up the 4th corner of the Grand Cross. Mars will oppose Uranus while Jupiter continues to oppose Pluto, with square aspects between them to form a square shape. That's a lot of stressful energy! That kind of energy can crush you with conflict, discouragement and struggle, or it can motivate you to push through it with all your strength until something finally gives.

Grand Effects

Mars formed the same Grand Cross with Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto in January 2014. This time Mars is retrograde, giving you a chance to reconsider reactions, decisions and actions you made at that time. Think back to the beginning of this year: what intentions did you have for the year? How much progress have you made with those intentions?

Don't judge yourself if you haven't done them perfectly or haven't done as much as you'd hoped. There are reasons for these things...like Mars retrograde going "Oops! That didn't work very well; I'll have to figure out another way to do that," or "Oops! I wasn't expecting that; I'll need to change my strategy a bit," or "Oops! That just threw me for a loop (or my energy and courage just vanished); I need to find out why so I don't get derailed by it again."

So Mars retrograde now comes back to form the Grand Cross. Again. The bad news is that you could well run into a situation similar to one that confounded you back in January. The good news is that you've had 3 months or so to discover more about what happened then, and now you get another chance to do things differently or find another way to approach the challenge.

On both a global and personal level, Mars retrograde is reconnecting with the Big Boys (Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto). This could shift any latent or building problems into crisis mode, forcing those affected to address the issues much more directly and pointedly. In other words, Mars could light the fuse to the fuel that's been accumulating over the past 4 months. The question is whether it will simply explode into chaos or launch a rocket that moves the situation forward in a more constructive, positive way.

The effects on the Collective will be all around us. Expect shake-ups, issues around aggression and power, and a lot of posturing. There are currently several global hot spots that could become critical under this aspect pattern. The standoff between the Ukraine and Russia form what is probably the tenderest global wound right now. Syria and North Korea are also possibilities for dangerous escalation.

Moving with Mars (Again)

We will all feel the effects of the Grand Cross to some extent, although on a personal level it will be much more powerful and intense if you have natal planets/points near 13° (approx 9-17°) of the Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn). The closer it is to 13° the stronger the effect. And the effect will be amplified further if that natal point is a relatively fast-moving one: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Ascendant, Midheaven or the Lunar Nodes.

What hot spots are currently smoldering in your life? What issues have you been pushing back, hoping you can avoid them if you just ignore them? What goals have you been struggling toward, but often feeling like you're running up the down-escalator? How have your physical, emotional and spiritual energy levels helped or hindered your quest?

Mars energy might manifest as volatile and disruptive, in which case the brewing problems may become a crisis that cannot be avoided any longer — something must be done to deal with the situation. This is most likely to involve the areas of your natal chart connected to Mars and the other Grand Cross planets. For example: the houses where these transiting planets are now in your chart; the houses where they reside natally; or the houses these planets rule in your natal chart. (Please contact me for a personal reading to understand how the Grand Cross is likely to affect you and how you can work most constructively and positively with its energies.)

On the other hand, Mars can also be stimulating, energizing and motivating, giving you the burst of energy needed to get moving where you've been stuck. The Grand Cross will probably make it crystal clear where you're stuck or which issues need attention. Mars tends to tip the situation into an urgent state, and when you can grasp the positive, constructive side of that Mars energy it becomes an opportunity to generate and transform change. This is not likely to be any kind of walk in the park though! Think of it as catching a hurricane in a hang-glider — hang on tight, stay alert, be proactive in your responses and get ready for one wild ride!

That said, it's not uncommon to get caught in destructive Mars energy despite our efforts not to. Anger explodes into rage. Blame rises up in us more quickly and easily than understanding or compassion. Impulsive reaction slips out before we've had a chance to consider our best options. And when unresolved frustration wells up, resentment, depression or self-deprecation can overcome us.

If this happens, it's important to find a better sense of balance again. (Mars is, after all, in Libra.) Disengaging your automatic reflexive reactions from your outward actions is an essential first step. That does NOT mean simply suppressing your feelings, but it does mean minimizing how much you inflict them on the world around you as much as possible. That means finding a safe place to vent and express those feelings in a way that doesn't leave scorched earth behind you.

It helps to take a step back and disconnect from the situation for a time, whether that's for minutes, days or even weeks. Take some time to figure out what you're really feeling deep down, what triggered it, the memories attached to it, what your expectations, hopes and fears are around it, and what your gut intuition is telling you about what's happening.

Once you have a better sense of where you're coming from within you, and a clearer grasp of what's happening around you, then you're in a better position to decide what you want to do with it and about it. In other words, get grounded before you choose a direction and take action. This is the gift of Mars retrograde, if you can open yourself up to it.

Grand Reactions

The Grand Cross aspect pattern is like a perpetual motion machine. All those squares joined by oppositions corner-to-corner. All that stressful energy looking for resolution, each planet passing its unresolved frustration off to the next one. Not much is going to get in its way without feeling like it was just run over by a steamroller. The Grand Square can be extremely intense, persistent and even relentless. And especially with Pluto and Mars involved, there can be quite an obsessive quality about its energy.

The question becomes: what has been set in motion and do you want to continue in the same way? It's not just about the events or the circumstances that give shape to this energy in your life. It's also about your reaction and response to it. So, although what is set in motion could be a problem that must be solved, it might also be your emotional or psychological reaction to it.

Mars embodies the "fight, flight or freeze" reaction. If you are triggered into an automatic reaction that is forceful or hostile, then what is set in motion is confrontation and aggression — the "fight" reaction. If you are so fearful that you duck and run for cover, then what is set in motion is avoidance and escape — the "flight" reaction. Or you might become so overwhelmed that you get stuck in confusion and become petrified, unable to respond — the "freeze" response.

Each of these reactions has valuable uses in some situations and utter failure in others. For example, to "freeze" in the face of aggression can be wise if it prevents it from getting worse and keeps you safe, but if you are in imminent danger then a "fight" or "flight" response might be better. And if you're not sure, then just being still and observing the situation could give you some time to make an informed choice about it. On the other hand, if you're still trying to gather information at the point where action needs to be taken, then you might be "frozen" and about to make the situation a lot worse.

Managing Mars

Here's the thing: if your reaction to the situation just complicates or worsens the problem, then it is your reaction that needs to be addressed and dealt with, at least as urgently as the problem itself. If your reaction is part of the problem, then it will become an obstacle that prevents you from dealing directly and constructively with the situation. You have to get out of your own way before you can deal effectively with the problem.

How do you do that? Awareness first; then it's one step at a time. "One trauma at a time," I like to say. If things are coming at you too much at once, then simplify your life. If you just said, "Simplify!? Are you kidding??" then it you be especially important for you to take a step back and reassess. There's an old Zen saying that you should meditate for 20 minutes every day; if you're too busy then you should meditate for an hour.

As much as you think your life is too complicated or busy or burdened with obligations to simplify it, there are probably more things than you realize that you could put on the back burner for a while, thus freeing up both time and energy. Think of it this way: if it all crumbles, what will you wished you'd done differently?

When you're trying to push yourself, business as usual, while you're exhausted and depleted, you're probably taking more time to do things and not doing them as well. The time you use to take a break, or the time spend later catching up, likely equals the time you give to a simplified list higher priority things now. In other words, it will probably even out in the long run anyway. Even more likely, you may find that some of the things you put on the back burner become forgotten because they weren't all that crucial after all.

You're at a crossroads right now — the Cardinal Crossroads. If you wear yourself out walking in circles around the crossroads "intersection," your decision about which path to take is going to be permeated by weariness and discouragement. Your journey and intentions then become initiated in grudging compliance and resentment rather than motivation and positive focus. And who needs the weight of that kind of burden at the start of a journey? Better to prioritize and manage your energy than to mangle it trying to do everything at once.

Eclipses Too??

As if all this wasn't enough, the Grand Cross also takes place during Eclipse season! It starts with the New Moon in Aries on Mar.30, where the Sun and Moon are conjunct Uranus and thus woven into the Cardinal T-square that will soon become the Grand Cross. In effect, this New Moon initiates the process of bringing it all together in a flash of Uranian lightning and Aries Fire. And let's not forget that the star of our show, Mars Retrograde, rules Aries, so this New Moon will have a lot to talk about with the Grand Cross.

On Apr.14 is the Lunar Eclipse in Libra. The Grand Cross is in full swing and and only a week away from its closest alignment. The Eclipsed Moon is widely conjunct Mars (almost 9° and separating), although even without that, these two powerful configurations (eclipse and Cross) occurring in the same chart would certainly affect each other. The Lunar Eclipse could bring slightly delayed manifestations of the Cross effects that have been brewing since the New Moon in Aries.

Apr.29 sees the Solar Eclipse in Taurus. The Sun and Moon aren't aligned with the Grand Square through square aspects, but do form other aspects to its planets. With their trine to Pluto and sextile to Jupiter, the Solar Eclipse could introduce a more optimistic perspective that shows the possibilities and how they can be cultivated. With its wide quincunx (150°) to Mars, the eclipse could also serve to highlight the conflicted feelings and intentions we have about making those possibilities come to life.

And finally, on May.14 the Full Moon in Scorpio shines a spotlight on the soon-to-be Direct Mars through an exact sesqui-quadrate aspect (135°, in the same aspect family as the Cross' squares and oppositions). By now, Mars and Jupiter are still in very wide square aspect (7:58 orb) but really are saying goodbye until Mars catches up to Jupiter in August. In other words, the Grand Cross is disintegrating as Scorpio's Moon oversees the process of dismantling and clearing out the old energy so it can be recycled into deeper transformation.

So it's probably a good idea to get your priorities straight for whatever you're doing in April. You probably won't be able to do it all, or at least not perfectly or as completely as you would like. Therefore, figure out what's most important, in terms of necessities and obligations as well as what will feed your spirit and soul most deeply. Both are important during this Grand Cross.

Unraveling and Re-weaving the Sacred Knot

The aspects of the Grand Cross gather within orb from approximately Apr.07 to May.12, 2014. This is the time range when this perpetual motion energy is likely to be most strongly present. However, its energies continue to play out in various ways until the beginning of July, after Mars stations Direct (May.19) and as it makes its last individual aspects to the planets in the Grand Cross.

Celtic knot designThe Grand Cross reaches its closest orb on April 22nd — all planets within a mere quarter-degree or less of orb. It doesn't get much closer than that, especially when you're lining up 4 different planets! April 20-24 is being watched as a possible flashpoint time, since all 4 planets will be within that hot spot of 1° orb, all at 13° of their respective signs. And in particular, April 20th could be an especially intense or volatile day, as the Moon conjoins Pluto and adds her fluctuating energies to the mix.

Mars stations Direct on May 19th at 9° of Capricorn, thus shifting the Mars energy yet again. However, by that time Jupiter has moved just out of orb and the Grand Cross is breaking up. Nevertheless, Mars, Uranus and Pluto are still in the ring together until around July 1st, so the volatile energy will still be with us. In addition, Jupiter is still in Cardinal Cancer and therefore still involved in the Cardinal energy by sign, even though it's orb is a little too wide to hold the Cross together (as much as 14° opposition to Pluto, and separating, which is generally regarded as too wide to have much specific effect).

Even though the Grand Cross is now fragmented, Mars isn't finished with Jupiter yet. After Mars stations Direct on May.19, they spend about 2° months travelling in a square aspect until they reach exact on Aug.01. And after that, their combined energy continues to play out for up to 3 more weeks.

So even though the Grand Cross effectively ends in mid-May, its effects will continue to unfold and play out, stretching its total time range to almost 5 months! It is not wise to underestimate the power of this Grand Cross, but neither is it necessary to automatically fear it. This is indeed a time of challenge, and you stand to benefit from its gifts at least as much as you might curse it coming into your life. Much depends how you approach it.

The important thing to remember is that this is a rare chance to go back over changes that were already set in motion a few months ago and make some adjustments. You may not be able to undo whatever was begun at that time (assuming you would want to), but this is a chance to change how you're dealing with it and what direction you're taking it. If you missed an opportunity back in January, this could be a time to find new ways to bring into your life whatever slipped through your fingers then.

Pay special attention to struggles you've had this year around indecision, fear of taking a stand, arguments or disagreements with others or how stable your energy level is. These things could well have greater implications and deeper origins than you realize, and Mars retrograde can give you a chance to reach a clearer understanding of how that all works.

Use this time to turn retaliation into negotiation; indecision into choice; blame into a vision of a better solution; and impulsive overreaction into fuel that brings change, courage and confidence.

Mapping It Out

Here is a table of all the dates when the aspects of this Grand Cross are exact. They will be strongest while within about 1° of orb, although will definitely hang in the air within a wider orb of about 6° or more. The Enter and Leave dates for both orbs are also given below, and important transits are bold in shaded rows.

ASPECTEnter 6°Enter 1°EXACTLeave 1°Leave 6°
Uranus stationary Direct   27 Oct 2013 1 Mar 2014 4 Feb 2014  
Mars opposite Uranus 12 Dec 2013 22 Dec 2013 25 Dec 2013 30 Dec 2013 8 Jan 2014
Mars square Pluto 17 Dec 2013 28 Dec 2013 30 Dec 2013 2 Jan 2014 15 Jan 2014
Mars square Jupiter 29 Dec 2013 6 Jan 2014 8 Jan 2014 10 Jan 2014 20 Jan 2014
Jupiter opposite Pluto 24 Dec 2013 24 Jan 2014 31 Jan 2014 8 Feb 2014 (stays in 6° orb)
Jupiter square Uranus 10 Jan 2014 15 Feb 2014 26 Feb 2014 (stays in 1° orb) (stays in 6° orb)
Mars stationary Retrograde   16 Feb 2014 1 Mar 2014 14 Mar 2014  
Jupiter stationary Direct   9 Feb 2914 6 Mar 2014 31 Mar 2014  
Jupiter square Uranus (still in 6° orb) (still in 1° orb) 20 Apr 2014 2 May 2014 7 Jun 2014
New Moon in Aries     30 Mar 2014    
Jupiter opposite Pluto (still in 6° orb) 12 Apr 2014 20 Apr 2014 27 Apr 2014 25 May 2014
Pluto stationary Retrograde   9 Feb 2014 14 Apr 2014 22 Jun 2014  
Lunar Eclipse in Libra     15 Apr 2014    
Uranus square Pluto (in 6° orb since 28 Feb 2012) 3 Apr 2014 21 Apr 2014 8 May 2014 (in 6° orb until 4 Jul 2015)
Closest orb of Grand Cross 10 Apr 2014 20 Apr 2014 22 Apr 2014 24 Apr 2014 7 May 2014
Mars square Jupiter 10 Apr 2014 20 Apr 2014 22 Apr 2014 24 Apr 2014 7 May 2014
Mars square Pluto 7 Apr 2014 20 Apr 2014 23 Apr 2014 26 Apr 2014 (stays in 6° orb)
Mars opposite Uranus 8 Apr 2014 20 Apr 2014 23 Apr 2014 25 Apr 2014 20 May 2014
Solar Eclipse in Taurus     29 Apr 2014    
Full Moon in Scorpio     14 May 2014    
Mars stationary Direct   7 May 2014 19 May 2014 1 Jun 2014  
Mars square Pluto (still in 6° orb) 10 Jun 2014 14 Jun 2014 17 Jun 2014 30 Jun 2014
Mars opposite Uranus 25 May 2014 22 Jun 2014 25 Jun 2014 28 Jun 2014 10 Jul 2014
Mars square Jupiter 11 Jul 2014 29 Jul 2014 1 Aug 2014 4 Aug 2014 18 Aug 2014

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