The Cardinal Cross

The Cardinal Cross refers to a cross created by the four angles of the birth horoscope or the four solstice and equinox points on the ecliptic. These four points are the endpoints of the axis of the Ascendant and Descendant from east to west and the axis of the Midheaven and the Nadir from top to bottom. These two axes form a cross and divide the birth chart or the ecliptic into four quadrants. These four points correlate with the four Cardinal Signs of Aries and Libra, Cancer and Capricorn.

The symbology of the number four is instructive in understanding the meaning of the Cardinal Cross and the Cardinal Signs. Two points in opposition is symbolically a tension or polarity; thus a cross is a doubling of this configuration representing twice as much tension. Whereas the trine in astrology is symbolic of ease and natural strength, the square which is derived by dividing the circle into fours, represents stability and strength that comes less easily as a result of work and effort. The square aspects of the number four imply conflict and tension, but tension is not always a negative. Freud believed that conflict was the catalyst to creativity and therefore necessary and good.  The esoteric meanings of the number four include structure, stability, perseverance and discipline.

The cross is a symbol of crucifixion in Christianity, and here is a clear association to suffering or sacrifice. Sometimes I like to think of the Cardinal Cross as the cross we get “crucified upon” in our daily lives when we must reconcile the tensions of self and mate, home and career, inner grounding with public demands.

The Ascendant or zero point is where we feel our primal need to assert our individuality, exercise our personal will and express ourselves. This point lies opposite the Descendant which in astrology refers to “the partner,” be it a business or marital partner. This polarity often requires a delicate and difficult balancing act where the needs of each end are in conflict with the needs of its opposite. Likewise a polarity exists between the Midheaven where we must make and protect a reputation in our profession or that of our family, and the Nadir which indicates our need to withdraw and nurture the emotional needs of ourselves and our families and engage in deep imaginative introspection that is the catalyst for future creative endeavors.

These energizing polarities shed light on the psychological makeup of the Cardinal Signs. Because these points on the ecliptic are where the seasons change, the tensions that are birthed in this cross are catalysts to action. Cardinal signs are known for their proactive characters where action and initiative is their natural gift. If an individual has a birth chart heavy with Cardinal Signs, we know this person is a “doer”, a mover and shaker, a person who is achievement oriented and not afraid to work for what they desire.


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