The need for sacrifice

Italian version

The symbolism of the number 4, which we also find in the fourth Arcanum of the Tarot (The Emperor), represents the Quaternary, the creative aspect of the will – divine and human – which manifests itself in the production of material forms. The natural continuation of the Ternary – the vital principle generated by the union of opposites – is, therefore, its spatiotemporal expression, its revelation through a structure characterised by density, which supports the concrete manifestations of the spirit. The square and the cubic stone are the geometric representation of this process, depicting the fixity of materialised entities and their “fall” into a stable form.

In the context of the astrological figure, we first analyse what relationship is created between the Elements assigned to the zodiac signs. At first glance, we notice that the vertices of the square inscribed in the zodiac circle include all the Elements in their different evolutionary instances (see Trine). The symbolic bonding to the number four is perfect: for a form to stabilise on the dense plane, all elements’ contribution is necessary (see the Tetrapolar Magnet).

But it is in the interaction between the Elements that we see the tension generated by the process of adapting the creative principle to material forms:

  • Fire vaporises WaterWater extinguishes Fire.
  • Earth chokes Fire – Fire (heat) dries up the Earth.
  • Air disperses the Earth – the Earth obstructs the Air.
  • Water weighs down (moistens) the Air – The Air agitates the Water.

These relationships, which have an analogical counterpart both at the level of the psyche and in the formation of external events, suggest that the square aspect generates critical effects. In essence, these configurations require the individual to manage their contradictions and, simultaneously, the adverse effects of existence. For example, Fire is warm-dry, while Water is cold-moist. Acting in the absence of tension means generating an attitude initially available to sacrifice, that is, accepting to weaken the Fire to mitigate it with the receptive Water principle; at the same time, giving up the stasis of Water to ignite the emotional states with Fire.

In judicial astrology, a square is often interpreted as an obstacle to achieving certain expectations or as a resistance encountered in the various factors of human experience on a physical, psychological or destiny level. It is a critical aspect, even if much depends on the general configuration of the chart, on planets, on concurrent aspects and not least on the evolutionary degree of the consultant. The square perfectly reflects the saying: “It’s easier said than done”; it actualises the difficulties encountered in making one’s possibilities tangible, be they personal or social achievements or the dissolution of psychic and psychological blocks. It is a fact that the square is a problematic aspect, but its greatest strength lies precisely in this poor adaptability.

In the transpersonal analysis of the chart, the square manifests a considerable potential for realisation. The key to overcoming unconscious automatisms is the effort required to resolve difficulties. These protective mechanisms, as explained in the self- suggestion techniques, prevent access to one’s true self, choosing to present to conscious examination only what we believe we are. In this way, the possibilities for change are set aside by the self-deception we put into place. With its essential meaning of resistance to change, the square aspect allows us to identify those psychic knots that inhibit the recognition of our true nature. How do we integrate this often-unresolved relationship? A detailed answer would take up too much space, but we can proceed with an example.

Moon square Venus

The Moon represents the values ​​of sensitivity and acceptance with all the related symbolic attributions and – as Earth’s satellite – reflects the solar presence by marking the rhythm of nature’s cycles. The distinctive aspect of the Moon is its changeability; it is time that controls existence, making it permeable to changes. Venus, as a planet within the Earth’s orbit, fulfils the task of psychic and organic edification of individuality. This set of mechanisms establishes the balance and union between the various vital expressions, which justifies the role of Venus as the planet of love and affections.

Moon square Venus is, therefore, an aspect that establishes a critical relationship between the values ​​of acceptance and relational balance. In other words, it is difficult to accept the changes that result from any relationship that involves solid emotional values or brings about the character changes necessary for the union’s success. Instead, there is the possibility of being attracted to highly unstable relationships that require a certain degree of suffering. One of the possible manifestations of this aspect is the family experience of an affectless mother; for a man, that implies insecurities in relationships;  for a woman, a lack of confidence in her femininity. But it would be an effect, not a cause, because the affectless mother is an obstacle that the individual chooses to put in their path. Not everyone, in fact, would live this experience as a deficiency; for some, with a keen sense of independence, it can be an evolutionary advantage.

And here we come to the heart of the matter. The trials that the aspect shows us are not really endowed with an existence of their own. There are no events, individuals or circumstances that inevitably determine our destiny. Sure, we cannot evade them if they are manifest, but we can transform them by directing their energy towards constructive purposes. In the case of Moon-Venus, this involves the sacrifice of selfishness, which causes the inability to accept changes that are not to one’s advantage. That applies to the love life and the experiences represented by the houses harbouring the aspect.

Upon examination of the transits, the critical (or evolutionary if the conditions exist) potentials manifest themselves only in the presence of transits of slow-moving planets. In this case, based on the historical frequency of the aspect, we can expect a more or less accentuated crisis in the sectors of experience represented by the houses of the horoscope; naturally, we must consider the symbolism of the planets involved and any recurring configurations. The transiting square of the fast-moving planets has a more pronounced impact than the Trine. However, since these are recurrent cyclical phenomena, they represent more than anything else moments of difficulty in managing physical-psychic resources or in relations with the outside world. A transiting square of Mars leads to energy expenditure, ruptures and one-way actions.