The Natal Grand Cross/Grand Square in Astrology
The Grand Cross or Grand Square as a Supportive Structure
The "Grand Cross," also called the "Grand Square" in a birth chart, is an uncommon aspect that many astrologers say is unlucky and a burden for life. The person with a "Grand Cross" in his horoscope chart is said to be hemmed in or trapped by circumstances, have a stubborn and inflexible personality, or suffers a lifetime of multiple conflicts, each crisis triggering the next.
A Grand Cross occurs when at least four planetary bodies are aligned, each of them 90 degrees apart. Another way to picture it is two pairs of planets in opposition. In the natal charts above, see the giant red "X" or cross formed in the middle of each? That's a Grand Cross! It even looks scary!
The first chart belongs to a man born to two students and given up for adoption, a self-made billionaire without a college degree, whose genius you benefit from every day: Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs, born Feb. 24, 1955. Can we call him terribly unlucky?
And below is another Grand Cross birth chart. Remember, the Cross and Square are just different names for the same aspect. This is the birth horoscope jazz musician Miles Davis, whose trumpet playing and musical experiments, including the invention of jazz-rock fusion, made him one of the most famous and influential musicians of all time. His birthday was May 26, 1926. Would we call his life one long crisis and a waste?
What's True and What's Not
Let's use what we know about the lives of Steve Jobs and Miles Davis to discuss the true effects of the Grand Cross. First of all, let's drop the "bad luck" definition. These men, born gifted, made themselves very rich, although neither was a particularly good businessman. They were creatives, idea people. They let others handle the business end.
Jobs had his ups and downs, at times losing billions, and once was ejected from his own company. People do point out that Jobs got a rare pancreatic cancer and died at age 56. That was unlucky, right? Yes, but it is not the fault of his natal horoscope. A natal horoscope is about the individual's life and personality and opportunities, not about death. Nothing in anybody's natal chart predicts or guarantees an early death, not even the "unlucky" Grand Cross. One-third of all U.S. citizens die before age 65, so an earlier death, while sad, is not unusual; and most can agree that Jobs more than fulfilled his life's potential. He said, "You don't design a product. Design is the product." The iPhone and iPad and its imitators, inventions everyone wants, are the graceful conveniences they are because of Steve Jobs.
The natal Grand Cross gives the individual the power to focus intently on one goal, and that is one definition of genius.
Miles Davis, an African-American, led a more conflicted life. The son of a wealthy dentist, he learned early about racial prejudice and hated it fiercely. He became addicted to drugs, then quit them, but sobriety didn't keep him from being temperamental, treating friends and fans badly and taking wild chances with his art and reputation. His friends, to this day, remark that he was an extreme Gemini, a Jekyll-and-Hyde type focused entirely on his music. An album he released in 1959, Kind of Blue, more than 50 years later is ranked #287 on Amazon.com. He is quoted as saying, "Don't be afraid of mistakes. There are none."
Davis didn't lead an easy life but it wasn't tragic but rather a life of achievement, recording 130 albums and 51 singles. His Grand Cross kept him focused on the one thing that meant the most to him.
Real tragedy burdened the movie star who was born less than a week after Davis, on June 1, 1926, when the Grand Cross configuration was no longer in the sky. That was Marilyn Monroe.
The Grand Square Lends Strength
You can see from Monroe's chart how the "Grand Square" in effect at Davis's birth has, six days later, "fallen apart" at one corner. There's no square or cross in her chart. Yet hers is the more tragic biography: born to an unwed mother who had mental illness issues, growing up in foster homes, married off at 16, used and stereotyped by the studio system, cheated on by her famous-playwright third husband, and, as a fading beauty, succumbing to a drug overdose. She said, "A wise girl kisses but doesn't love, listens but doesn't believe, and leaves before she is left." Who'd leave Marilyn Monroe? It seems hard to believe, but this beautiful and famous woman dwelt mostly on her rejections and losses.
What you do see in Monroe's chart instead of a "Grand Square" is the flattened red triangle which is a "leftover" from the Grand Square. This non-equilateral triangle in a chart is called a "T-Square." It's a pair of planets in opposition with one planet at right angles (square) to both.
In Monroe's T-Square it's Neptune in Leo opposing the Moon and Jupiter in Aquarius, with the third point of the triangle being Saturn in Scorpio. Just from its shape it's clear that the T-Square aspect is a much less stable structure than a four-pointed cross or square.
Davis led an irregular life, but much of his behavior was willful. Monroe, born only six days later, struggled to develop her art and her business skills and finally let her life fall into chaos. Unlike Miles Davis she didn't have the strong structure of the Grand Square or Grand Cross to keep her focused and hold her upright through the storms of life.
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