Square aspects in a horoscope are the source of drive and energy, and the gumption to meet and overcome challenges. Without squares, we would have an easier life, but it would a lot less interesting and very likely depressing. Having a square or two is a good thing, but things get even more intriguing when squares arrange themselves in a pattern called a grand cross, and a slightly reduced version of it called a T-square.
What you get from these configurations is what I call the dynamo effect: a great big surge of energy that can lift your life to great heights.
Imagine a cross. If you go around it, arm to arm, you traverse successive squares, or 90 degrees of separation. If there is at least one planet on each of the arms, you have a grand cross. If three of the arms has a planet but the fourth doesn’t, it’s an incomplete grand cross, known as a T-square.
The ends of the grand cross are occupied by planets that are in signs in the same mode: cardinal, fixed, or mutable. For example, if the mode is cardinal, then the grand cross occupants would be in Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn, for a cardinal grand cross. There are four square aspects, between the occupants in successive arms of the cross, and two pairs of oppositions along the axes. In other words, it is not enough to simply have these signs be occupied, the occupants must be in aspect within acceptable orb. A planet may be at 2 degrees of Aries and the next planet may be in 25 degrees of Cancer, but they won’t participate in a grand cross because they are not in aspectual orb of each other.
The whole configuration feels extremely tight and tense, a storehouse of incredible energy that arises out of these forces that clash with each other and generate a lot of action, like a dynamo. As you can imagine, it would take a lot for the individual to be able to handle this kind of energy and channel it toward productive ends instead of being overwhelmed by it.
An exemplar of the grand cross is Steve Jobs. Here is his horoscope, with the grand cross highlighted:
This is a cardinal grand cross. Starting with the Aries placement and going counterclockwise, theres Mars in Aries, Jupiter-Uranus in Cancer, Neptune in Libra, and Venus in Capricorn. Notice that like Mars, the Moon is in Aries as well. Technically it is not in the grand cross because it is out or orb, because the closest squaring planet is Jupiter, which is still nearly 13 degrees away from a perfect square). However, being in a cardinal sign, and being the Moon (the Sun and Moon are the most important bodies in a chart), it gets pulled into the grand cross.
Jobs’s achievements are legendary. His vision for the potential and promise of technology were grand, and he manifested it with the superhuman power of this grand cross, but in the end the energy consumed him and his fight with cancer exhausted him.
Here’s another example of the grand cross, seen in the chart of US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (familiarly known as AOC):
Like with Jobs’s chart, this grand cross is also in cardinal signs. Another significant similarity is that both have the Moon in Aries: the desire to be number one, and the gumption to get there! In AOC’s chart, the Moon is fully involved in the grand cross, while in Jobs’s chart it was somewhat out of bounds, but being the Moon, got special dispensation and joined in the grand cross.
AOC is famous for having come from nowhere and unseated a veteran New York congressman who had been in power for decades. Imagine what it took AOC to achieve this dramatic upset, and gain real political power. This grand cross has a vast store of energy she can expend to achieve great heights.
The flip side of a grand cross is that because its corners form a closed-circuit, there may be a tendency to bog the life down to a stasis when nothing moves, and the life seems not to go anywhere. If one planet points in the cross a certain way, another points in the opposite direction, or in a perpendicular direction that is at odds with the first. It’s one wrenching dilemma after another, and the safest way might be to sit still and let things be. Another possibility is a life that is marred by one adversity after another that can, after a while, get to be way too much. To some extent all of this might be alleviated, and the life can move on and find direction despite challenges, if Mars is a part of the grand cross to infuse a sense of urgency into the mix.
The closed-circuit of a grand cross breaks open when one of the corners is unoccupied, and thus freed up. The open end makes for a configuration that breathes a little more freely. We now have a T-square.
The T-square configuration offers a way, an open channel, to dissipate the energies of the planets that occupy the other three corners. The T-square is still very potent–it is built out of at least 2 planets in square to each other, and at least 2 planets in opposition–and its energy can be directed to purposeful and consequential actions. But unlike the grand cross, there is less likelihood of complete paralysis.
Many of the extremely successful and powerful people in various walks of society have a T-square in their chart. Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the UK for over a decade, and one of the most powerful women in the world in the latter half of the 20th century, has a T-square in her horoscope:
Pluto in Cancer is opposite Jupiter in Capricorn, both squared by the Sun-Mars-Mercury conjunction in Libra – this is a cardinal T-square. The triple occupancy of Libra gives rise to 6 squares, since each of the Sun, Mars, and Mercury forms a squares to each of Jupiter and Pluto.
This is a power-packed configuration: Pluto is the ultimate planet of power, whose potency gets amped up several fold with the opposition to Jupiter, the planet of expansion. The square from Mars personalizes this strength and makes her enormously willful and combative. “Iron Lady”, indeed.
Mercury added to this mix makes her fully conscious of what she wants and how she can go about achieving it. Its square to Pluto makes her suss out the prevalent mood and get to the bottom of things, both said and unsaid. Its square to Jupiter makes her believe that she can win in any fight (Mars) that she gets into. (She was famous for taking on the powerful trade unions in the UK and bending them to her will – she just knew she could do it.)
Finally, the Sun integrates all of this into an implacable sense of identity that was very firmly : she found herself and rose to global prominence through the exercise of power in the face of any and all challenges.
The interesting thing here is the squaring planets are all in Libra, which is a sign of the pacifist. But Thatcher was anything but one. She was nothing if not combative and ready for a fight, anywhere, anytime. Which sounds a lot like Aries. “If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing,”, she said. Also, “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”
Aries is the “missing” element of what would otherwise have been a grand cross. It appears that the T-square’s energy pours out in the “open” corner, in the manner of its sign.
Another example of a T-square is seen in the horoscope of tennis star Novak Djokovic:
His Moon at 5 Ari 32 is squaring a Neptune-Mars opposition in early Capricorn and Cancer, respectively. Djokovic is currently No. 1 in men’s singles and has held this spot for a record 379 weeks. He is on track to win the greatest number of major titles in the history of the game (22 and counting), a feat that may never be surpassed. Obviously, the potential of this T-square has been realized several times over.
The open corner has the sign of Libra, exactly the opposite of Thatcher’s chart. If you have seen Djokovic play, he is very quick to applaud his opponent’s great shots, and is generally very much in the mode of not getting in their face. He wants to be liked. These are Libran traits. “I always try to show my human side to my colleagues and to the whole circuit. More than anything because we are all on the same train, it is part of our work.” There is a sense of camaraderie, a feeling of belonging to a group where collegiality is important, that is emblematic of Libra. The open corner of the T-square is what the individual aspires for.
What if your chart has 2 squares and an opposition, but they are not cohered into a T-square? Or you have 4 squares and 2 oppositions, but they are not coalesced into a grand cross formation? The challenges of the squares and oppositions are still very much there, but the energy stored in each of the individual pockets do not come together into one big dynamo. Each of the grand cross and T-square is a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts.