More Tricolors

We’ll be a little more technical in our bold-italic sections here than we usually are, but bear with us, because this material is bottom line, even if it’s more astrological.  If you run into Confusion because of the geometry or the fractions, just skip that part that’s Confusing, and move on to the next paragraph.  Confusion is the first stage of Growth, but you don’t need to resolve Confusion intellectually.  You don’t need geometry or fractions to understand this, it’s really about Human Nature and Opportunity.

* * * * *

More very welcome questions about the Tricolors…

“It is difficult for me to grasp a subtle distinction between the Major and Minor Tricolors, hence I am submitting three questions to you:

1) Could you please explain how the 4th harmonic, symbolizing dominion and healthy control, is interrelated with the 3rd, 5th and 12th harmonics contained in the Major Tricolor?

“2) As for the Minor Tricolor, I do not understand, according to your definition ‘…teaches us to share Dominion with our partners’, how it works with the principle of Pattern Breaking (12th harmonic), that the Major and Minor Tricolors involve.

“3) Is it relevant to say that the 5th harmonic is related to ‘Learning’?

“Again, thank you so much for your help on these matters.”

Questions are always welcome – thank you!  And namaste!

* * * * *

The correlation between the Major Arcana in Tarot, and the major Angles in astrology, is very strong.  I’m sure there are as many different schools of Tarot as there are different schools of astrology, but I’ve learned from Angeles Arrien’s excellent The Tarot Handbook: Practical Applications of Ancient Visual Symbols.

* * * * *

The Fourth Harmonic

The most Challenging Angle in astrology is the Square – two planets 90 degrees, or three Signs, apart.  The Challenge arises because you have two planets trying to cooperate while they’re in different “Elements” – Fire, Earth, Air, Water. 

Cuspal Squares follow a different Pattern, but that’s a topic for another day.

We’re working in these years, by way of example, with the Uranus-Pluto Square, from Uranus in Aries (Fire) to Pluto in Capricorn (Earth).  So Uranus, which is scarily Spontaneous already, is very excited about flinging itself into all manner of Exoteric Arian Adventures, while Pluto very much wants Capricornian Practicality and Moderation.  That’s a Challenge, eh?  Put any two different Elements – like Fire and Water – in the same sandwich, and you get similar results. 

You get all the way around the Zodiac by putting four Squares end to end.  So the Square is the astrological representative of the Fourth Harmonic.  In the Major Arcana, that’s the Emperor, symbolizing Dominion, or Healthy Control.  We’ve noticed over the years that a Square symbolizes not just Challenge, but Mastery.  Our Squares reveal our greatest Skills, because they show the places where we never feel like we’ve “got it right” – it’s never satisfying enough that we get complacent and feel complete.  So we keep trying different approaches, on ever more subtle levels, and collecting the resulting Experience and Wisdom. 

So, immer strebend (as Goethe put it), we become, as we get older and more experienced, the true Expert on those issues, though we’ll have to work on ourself quite a bit to recognize this, since it doesn’t feel that way.  We’ll always feel like a failure, because our Fourth-Harmonic standards are unreachable.  As the Emperor we’re always dealing with tradeoffs, nothing is ever “black and white” or “cut and dried.”  If it is, we’re deluded.  We’re lucky when the odds in a situation are “60-40” and not six of one and a half dozen of the other.

So we refer to the Square and the Fourth Harmonic as Mastery through Challenge.  The more you recognize that you’re in the game to gather Experience and Wisdom rather than to “get it right,” the better you’ll feel about your Squares.  You might even Consciously make a Choice you know is “wrong,” just to gather experience around that Choice (which would actually just be bringing your true motivation up into Consciousness!).  Squares are primarily Motivating.  Always something else to do to try to make things a little better, or patch up past missteps.

The Square – the noisy, messy, never-fully-resolved issue that demands Attention – is the core of the Tricolor

* * * * *

The Quincunx

The Magical portion of a Tricolor is the Quincunx.  A Quincunx symbolizes Curiosity.  Curiosity, Wonder, Awe – those are most Sacred places to reside.  There is no Judgment while we’re in Curiosity, so it’s Unconditional, like Love.  A Quincunx is formed by two planets five Signs apart, or five twelfths of the way ’round the Circle from one another.  So it combines the Fifth Harmonic with the Twelfth Harmonic.

Yes, as your third question avers, the totem for the Fifth Harmonic is the Hierophant, master of Teaching and Learning.   So we have the potential for an Open mind.  The Hanged Person stands for the Twelfth Harmonic.  The Hanged Person is hanging by their heels, not their neck (or fingernails), so the Twelfth Harmonic is about seeing the World through a perspective that’s different from the one we usually use.  That allows the Hanged Person to be the Pattern-Breaker, because they can see newly how they can Change things to better meet their Values and Goals.  Like Chiron, and Einstein’s advice that we can’t solve a problem by using the same thinking that created the problem.

So you can see how the Quincunx and Curiosity get linked intellectually – Learning how to Break Patterns, recognizing that Curiosity is the first requirement for that.  Curiosity means relaxing – nay, disarming our usual Resistance to Change.  It’s like sneaking up behind the Ego’s usual attachment to the relative security of the status quo and Opening the back door to a fresh breeze.  Experientially, the link between the Quincunx and Curiosity is patently obvious, as we all know what we’re perpetually Curious about, long before we know where our Quincunxes are.

What a combination!  The Square’s indefatigable thirst for unachievable perfection, and Curiosity’s Openness to the New!  It’s no wonder that when we combine 1/4 and 5/12 we’re left with 1/3 – the Square is three Signs (3/12 or 1/4), the Quincunx five Signs (5/12), and there are twelve (12/12 or One) all together, so we have four Signs (4/12 or 1/3) left over.  To close the Circle, we need a Trine.

* * * * *

The Third Harmonic and the Major Tricolor

Four Signs is one third of the Zodiac, or a Trine.  The positive side of a Trine is automatic Grace.  The negative side of the Trine is Arrogance, as until we learn that everyone has different Skills, we’re tempted to think we must be pretty clever to be able to do this (whatever it is) so well without even breaking a sweat, while everyone else must be pretty dumb because they have such a hard time with it.  So we call a Trine “dumb-luck” Grace.  Trines make everything easy.  The only thing we have to do (and unfortunately it’s optional), is remember the flip side of Grace, which is Gratitude.

The Third Harmonic in the Major Arcana is the Empress, symbolizing Love with Wisdom.  She doesn’t encounter the hard 50-50 Choices that the Emperor has to make, so she’s free to dispense Compassion.  Yet there are consequences, so she must use her Compassion with Wisdom.  The Third Harmonic is harmonious because it links Signs of the same Element.

Again, cuspal Trines would operate differently.

So a naked Trine, without any complementary Tension (Square, Conjunction, or even Opposition), can give us a great deal of grief, if we mistake the Grace for Competence.  Just think of the “stuck-up” people you knew in high school, and you’ve got an excellent picture of an unacknowledged Trine.  Some of them ran into real difficulty once they got out into the World and were asked to be less one-dimensional, and had to start dealing with their Squares.  Or, out in the larger World, had to compete or cooperate with people who had genuine Competence.  To excel we need native talent and hard work, and while Trines are an excellent foundation for it, they ill prepare us for that Both/And necessity.

But tie the far ends of a Square and Quincunx together with a Trine, and you combine the Square’s indefatigable thirst for unachievable perfection, Curiosity’s Openness to the New, and Effortless Grace.  A Grand Cross (four Squares end-to-end) can make us super-Competent because we’re always forced to multitask to put out the constant series of brushfires surrounding us.  A Grand Trine (three Trines end to end) can provide so much Grace we seem invincible.  The combination of a Grand Cross and a Grand Trine is one of most powerful Configurations of planets, because it combines this-World Competence with lots of help from beyond the Veil.

But what an opportunity a Tricolor creates!  While the Grand Cross and Grand Trine are scattered all over a chart, the Tricolor is sharply focused on one Square, one contrast between Elements.  Like the 2012-2015 Uranus-Pluto contrast between Truth and Security (Fire and Earth), or the current Mars-Pluto contrast between Mind and Matter (Air and Earth), or the Venus-Lilith contrast (in the current Fez) between Consistency and Desire (Earth and Fire).

* * * * *

The Sixth Harmonic and the Minor Tricolor

The most powerful Configurations are those which fill the Zodiac – that is, their Angles add to 360 degrees.  The Grand Cross is 4×90, the Grand Trine 3×120, the Major Tricolor 90+150+120.  In a Minor Tricolor, a Sextile substitutes for the Trine, so we don’t get to a Full Circle.  However, we do have Challenge combined end-to-end with Curiosity and Grace.  But we have Sixth-Harmonic Grace rather than Third-Harmonic Grace.  That’s Grace through Work and Partnership rather than Grace through “Dumb Luck.”  That’s probably actually better for our Spiritual development, though since it will involve more Effort, probably not as automatic or monumental for accomplishments.

The Sixth Harmonic is The Lovers Archetype.  That brings with it all the Joys and Labors of getting along with another Entity.  Even if that Entity is your Soulmate, there probably won’t be more than a heady glance and a smile until one or the other of you is willing to expend a little effort to open the door.  Hence the understanding that a Sextile usually requires some initial Effort to get the Grace rolling.  And if the other person really is your Soulmate, you’ve got a lot of Work to do, because no one gets along with their Soulmate without doing their Self-Love Work.   Triggering your Self-Love Work is what Soulmates do for a living.

The Sixth Harmonic connects Signs that are not in the same Element, but in the same “gender.”  We don’t use the terms masculine and feminine to distinguish Signs, because those terms are too polluted with cultural bias.  Angeles Arrien uses the terms “Dynamic” and “Magnetic” instead, and we often just call them “Yang” and “Yin.”  The Elements Fire and Air are Dynamic or Active, and the Elements Earth and Air are Magnetic, or Receptive.  So a Sextile connects two Yin Signs or two Yang Signs.  There is mutual understanding, but it requires a handshake or a hug to acknowledge it.

So the Minor Tricolor can actually result in greater Self-development, while the Major Tricolor is more likely to work its magic in the outer World.  With the Minor Tricolor you’ll need to go back and rework that nettlesome Square over and over again, to smooth the Partnership path.  You’ll need to take Responsibility for your own muddle.  Thank goodness we’re Graced with the Curiosity, or the Challenge would be too great.  We should actually look for Minor Tricolors between the charts of Lovers and others in Relationship; it may be where the real value of this Configuration lies.

In the current Fez, it’s the Partnership between our Willingness to actively Support ourSelf in the outer World (Mars) and our Inner Female’s need for Suzerainty (Lilith) – or you could say, our Willingness to actively Support our Inner Female’s Suzerainty – that resolves both the Mars-Pluto (“Go for it!”) and the Venus-Lilith (“What would Momma say?!?”) Challenges.

* * * * *

Now, did I actually answer the questions?

1) Could you please explain how the 4th harmonic, symbolizing dominion and healthy control, is interrelated with the 3rd, 5th and 12th harmonics contained in the Major Tricolor?

The geometry is given to us by the chart – the Square (4th Harmonic), Quincunx (5th and 12th), and Trine (3rd), are presented to us by the Angles between the planets at the moment under consideration.  So it’s up to us as astrologers to combine the ideas of Dominion, Learning and Teaching, Pattern-Breaking, Challenge, Unacknowledged Mastery, Curiosity, Grace, and Potential Arrogance, into some view of the person or situation that provides Insight.  Of course we’ll need to also fold in the Signs and Elements involved, and temper it all by what the rest of the chart says.  Horribly complicated, yes, but that’s the nature of astrology.

That’s why I focus on reading first the Square then the Quincunx as the path to unlocking the Grace.  So for the current Pluto-Mars-Venus Major Tricolor, we can condense that into “We can resolve dilemmas about how vigorously to Act, by consulting our Values.” 

That is, We can resolve (Pluto and Trine) dilemmas (Square) about how vigorously (Mars) to Act, by consulting (Quincunx) our Values (Venus).

Wrapping in the Elements, we might say “When conflict arises between what we Think we need to Do and what is Practical, ask yourself what will create Stability.”

That is, When conflict (Square) arises between what we Think (Air) we need (Pluto) to Do (Mars) and what is Practical (Capricorn), ask yourself (Quincunx) what will create Stability (Venus in Taurus).  We could extend that to, When conflict (Square) arises between what we Think (Air) we need (Pluto) to Do (Mars) to get along (in Libra) and what is Practical (Capricorn), ask yourself (Quincunx) what will create Stability (Venus in Taurus).

Is this helpful?  Astrology is more like an “essay question” than a “multiple-choice” question.

In The Tricolor and the Fez we suggested a couple of alternate ways of looking at the Energy – our comments about the “swelled head” and “dead cats” and being “in the flow.”  But since so few people are at peace with their Squares, I’m betting that the Square-to-Quincunx-to-Trine reading will be the most useful for most people most of the time.

“2) As for the Minor Tricolor, I do not understand, according to your definition ‘…teaches us to share Dominion with our partners’, how it works with the principle of Pattern Breaking (12th harmonic), that the Major and Minor Tricolors involve.

True Partnership entails a degree of Equality that we don’t usually exercise in most of our day-to-day transactions with other Entities.  So I’m guessing that in most Minor-Tricolor situations, once we shift from Problem to Curiosity, the Initiatory Action that the Sextile will require, is that we shift out of Command mode and into Negotiate mode.  We can more or less Command a sales clerk to give us a loaf for a coin, but commanding a Partner to do something is more problematic.  “How do you feel about…” or “Would you be willing to…” or “Can we talk about…” will probably be a lot more effective than “A loaf of sourdough,” even if we were British and added a “please” at the end.

That’s why I emphasized “sharing Dominion” – hypothesizing that most of the time for most of us, sharing Dominion will be a Pattern-Breaker.  We would go from a Challenge to our sense of Healthy Control, into Curiosity about how to resolve it, into an Action that would trigger Grace, one that would most likely involve interaction with a Partner (Sixth Harmonic). 

Does that clarify the Minor Tricolor at all for you?

“3) Is it relevant to say that the 5th harmonic is related to ‘Learning’?

Absolutely.  The Fifth Harmonic is about Learning, and it’s flip side, Teaching.  We don’t really Learn something until we have to Teach it.  That’s when we discover what we’ve been assuming, that may not actually be True or relevant. 

My discussions of the Fourth Harmonic make it sound like I’m talking about Learning there too, but it’s different.  The Fourth Harmonic is about feeling that we’re on the Edge of being out of Control (as any Emperor always is).  I just suggest that we shift our focus from what we haven’t perfected, to what we’re Learning, as a way to defuse our frustration and recognize our accumulated Skills – our experiential Wisdom. 
 
It’s like the difference between the Third and Ninth Houses – the Fifth Harmonic and Third House are about Knowledge, while the Fourth Harmonic and the Ninth House are about Wisdom.  I’m always intrigued by the way Ursula Le Guin divided Knowledge among the faculty at the School on Roke in A Wizard of Earthsea.
 
How’d we do?  Are we making any sense?

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