Life is a Quincunx

Maritha Pottenger

Our examination of quincunxes will eventually include each of the twelve quincunx combinations which are possible in terms of signs and houses (and their associated planets). [We may look at all the planets at a later date, as any pair can be quincunx. This first set of analyses is working with those letters of the astrological alphabet which are “naturally” quincunx each other: 1/6, 1/8, 2/7, 2/9, 3/8, 3/10, 4/9, 4/11, 5/10, 5/12, 6/11, and 7/12.] This issue we take up the 1/8 quincunx.


The most intense form of the 1/8 quincunx would involve two planets. One option is for the planets (or angles) which themselves indicate Letters 1 and 8 to be quincunx each other:

Mars quincunx Pluto

Ascendant quincunx Pluto

Antivertex (an auxiliary Ascendant) quincunx Pluto

East Point (an auxiliary Ascendant) quincunx Pluto.

To some extent, ANY aspect between Pluto and Mars/Ascendant/East Point/Antivertex brings up the themes of integrating Letters 1 and 8. However, an actual quincunx would indicate more of the restlessness, need to change, closet-cleaning themes, possible compulsivity, and projection or repression issues discussed earlier (in the Virgo 1987 issue). Other aspects point to the possibility that integration might be somewhat easier (with harmony aspects) or that the seesaw tendency is accentuated (with oppositions) along with some natural partnership. With squares, octiles, and trioctiles, a challenge is strongly suggested, with much discipline, effort and awareness needed to create a time and place in life for each of the needed drives. Conjunctions would point to the “natural quincunx” and still emphasize the 1/8 issues strongly.


Another possibility is connections involving rulers of the houses which are representative of Letters 1 and 8:

Ascendant ruler quincunx Pluto

Mars, Ascendant, Antivertex or EP quincunx ruler of the 8th

Ascendant ruler quincunx ruler of the 8th.

In these cases, we must remember to consider the nature of the planet which is a ruler of the 1st or 8th as well as its fact of “standing in” as a ruler for Letter 1 or Letter 8. In other words, if an individual has Cancer rising and the Moon is quincunx Pluto, that is one note for the 1/8 quincunx (since the Moon rules the Cancer Ascendant and IN THAT CHART, is a key to Letter 1), but it is ALSO a quincunx involving 4 (Moon) and 8 (Pluto). If Scorpio falls on the 5th cusp for this particular horoscope, the Moon/Pluto quincunx is also a 4/5 quincunx (Moon as a natural Letter 4 and Pluto IN THIS CHART as a key to Letter 5 through its 5th house rulership) and the Moon/Pluto quincunx is a 1/5 quincunx (Moon as ruler of 1st house and Pluto as ruler of 5th house).

Thus, because both natural rulers (e.g., Mars rules the 1st, Venus the 2nd, etc.) and actual rulers (Mars rules any cusp which has Aries on it; Venus rules any cusp which has Taurus on it, etc.) are operative in a chart, any given aspect can have FOUR different sides of life involved just in terms of the nature of the planets themselves combined with the houses they rule. This is one of many reasons that the alphabet works because of REPEATED THEMES. A single nugget or indication in a chart means relatively little. What is most significant is themes which are repeated again and again.

Also, to a lesser extent, ANY aspects between rulers (natural or actual) of the 1st and 8th houses refers us to the 1/8 theme—but an actual quincunx has much more restlessness and tendency to pull apart.


In addition to 1/8 quincunxes indicated by the nature of the planets involved (or where the planets rule), a chart can highlight the need to integrate 1 and 8 in terms of planet/house interchanges with:

Any quincunxes between planets in the 1st and 8th houses.

Mars, Ascendant, East Point, Antivertex or Ascendant ruler occupying the 8th house, or conjunct Pluto or the 8th house ruler.

Pluto or the 8th house ruler occupying the 1st house or conjunct Mars, the Ascendant, the East Point or the Antivertex.


Finally, the least emphatic form of quincunxes would involve signs:

Any quincunxes between planets in Aries and Scorpio.

Pluto or the 8th house ruler in the sign of Aries.

Mars, the Ascendant, the Ascendant ruler, the East Point or the Antivertex in the sign of Scorpio.

The more times any of the above placements occur, the more significant the 1/8 quincunx is as a theme for that individual—in the chart and in the life.

One aside: Zip feels, more and more, that the asteroid Juno (the “marriage” asteroid) is a key to Letter 8 as much as Letter 7. Thus, we might add Juno to all the possibilities above where Pluto appears.


The 1/8 quincunx crosses the territory between personal needs (I want what I want and I want it RIGHT NOW—Letter 1) and interpersonal desires (I need to relate on a deep, intimate level with other humans, learning to give, receive and share pleasures and resources—Letter 8). The challenge is to be able to be ourselves, be independent, express our instincts and natural identity, to act freely and also to be self-disciplined, masters of our appetites, able to probe deeply into our own psyche (and the psyches of others), and capable of an intense, emotional commitment to another person.

Following is a list of some of the contrasts inherent in the 1/8 theme. We can choose to positively combine them, or we can learn to take turns (keeping room in life for all sides, not overdoing any one at the expense of others).




learning to share

personal power

shared power




deep analysis/mulling it over

open confrontation




do it once; move on

hang on till “death”







open anger

smoldering resentment



expresses emotions

holds feelings inside


complex and complicated

“spark” of passion

enduring sexual needs





identify (with)

project (onto others)




Quincunxes may be experienced as “forced choice” situations. Sometimes people feel such a push/pull between the different drives and areas, that they do not believe they can have both. In the case of 1/8, people could fall into an “either/or” dichotomy in terms of:

Self-expression versus A Committed Relationship

Spontaneity versus Self-Control

Personal Desires versus Shared Pleasures

Pioneering versus Persevering

Speed versus Thoroughness

Immediate Impulses versus Complicated Plotting

Personal Wants versus Joint Finances and Resources

Action versus Psychological Insight

Independence versus Intimacy

The “natural” quincunxes, when positively manifested, give us clues as to the handling of actual quincunxes. (“Natural” quincunxes would include placements such as Pluto in the 1st, Mars in the 8th, etc., where planet/house/sign combinations point to the 1/8 theme, but no actual aspects are involved.) Integration involves taking turns or finding ways in which to do both sides of a quincunx. This could be:

I express myself openly in committed relationships OR Intimacy encourages my self-expression.

I act to promote shared pleasures OR joint gratification is natural to me.

I pioneer in self-control OR self-mastery excites me.

I instinctively dig deeper in life OR psychological probing is a major part of my identity. (ETC.)


When integration is lacking, we can overdo one side at the expense of the other, project, repress or enact other out-of-balance options. One individual might hold in anger so long (overdoing Letter 8) that it eventually explodes in a destructive rage. Or, self-control and self-mastery (Letter 8) could be carried to the point of asceticism and self-denial, whereby natural forms of self-expression (Letter 1) or pleasure are denied. One person might be too impatient, driving, in a hurry (Letter 1) to consider the alternatives and complications of a given situation (Letter 8). One individual might express the freedom instincts of Letter 1, drawing in intrusive, controlling, manipulative or “smothering” types (overdone Letter 8) in terms of relationships. Or, an individual who identifies with the desire for intensity, commitment and deep, psychic bonds to another (Letter 8) might fall in love with “free souls” or people not really available (overdoing Letter 1).


In terms of relationship options, it is worth mentioning the six common variations found with 1/8 (and 1/7) combinations—whether in terms of aspects or planet/house/sign interchanges. People who have these themes strongly emphasized, especially when the rulers (natural or actual) of Letter 1 are placed in Letter 8 (or Letter 7), will often live out all the six variations over a lifetime, working on integration. These include:

(1) The “doormat” or super-accommodator. This is the individual who overdoes the Letter 8 need for intimacy at the expense of the Letter 1 sense of personal power. The internal feeling is: “I need you to like me.” The standard role tends to be that of placater: “Tell me what to do, how to be, in order to get you to be with me.” Very often, much anger is buried beneath the surface, but the person is afraid to express it. It may leak out in passive-aggressive behaviors (e.g., compliments with a bite, “accidentally” breaking or losing a cherished possession of the other person, being chronically late or engaging in behavior that annoys the other person which the placater “just can’t help” doing) or it may lead eventually to physical ailments. (Typically blocked Letter 1 is associated with being tired, with headaches, colds and minor cuts, burns, accidents to the extreme of surgery and bloodshed.)

(2) The “attacker” or “I’ll get you first” individual. This is a person who also has placed personal power (Letter 1) in the hands of other people (Letter 8). The internal feeling is: “The best defense is a good offense,” or “If I attack first, I can wipe them out before they get me.” The inner feeling is vulnerability. Behavior may include verbal attacks (sarcasm, irony, etc.) and even physical ones as well. Other people are pushed away as a form of self-protection. (Two EXTREME forms of this variation include Hitler and Jim Jones.)

(3) The “withdrawer” or “hermit” individual. This is a person who still feels vulnerable to others. (Personal power, 1, is still projected outside, into the hands of others, 8.) The perceived solution is to retire from humanity, to withdraw inside. The person goes into a cave (literally or figuratively) in order to avoid having to deal with others. Intimacy is too threatening, since the individual has projected his/her own feelings of personal power and strength. Letter 8 NEEDS some alone time (like all water) to do some inner processing and self-analysis, but this drive can be carried too far (especially if heightened by the “loner” instincts of Letter 1), and interfere with needed intimacy.

(4) The competitive option. These individuals work on balancing personal power with the power of others through sports, games, competitive businesses or fighting for causes. They test their strengths against the strengths of other people. They build their abilities through this one-to-one confrontation. When done within a structure, with rules and regulations, and with the “game-playing” attitude that doesn’t take it too seriously, no one really gets hurt. People learn they can both “win” and “lose” and not be destroyed. The testing process builds talents on both sides and strengthens the sense of power and ability to cope.

(5) The cooperation option. These people have learned to balance “self” needs with “other” needs. They are willing to meet in the middle. They give up some of the power; the other party gives up some of the power, and they find a middle ground. Negotiation and compromise are put to work. Respect is given to the needs of everyone involved.

(6) The assisting option. These people may still project some of the power onto other people, but they have reowned at least a portion of their own power. This strength is used, however, to help other people—NOT to attack them or put them down. Choosing to assist others can be a mild form of self-protection as well. When one works with people who are perceived as “weaker” or in need of assistance, these others are less likely to be a personal threat to one’s power. The individual tends to feel more safety and more power in being the helper.

When the 1/8 theme is prominent in the horoscope, the individual is likely to have experienced all of these six variations. Often, people start out life swinging between the first three in relationships: giving in too much, fighting, then running away. Eventually they find the other three options. Usually, some form of all of the last three options is advisable when 1/8 (or 1/7) is a major focus for the individual. By spreading the expression out among three different forms of positive expression, the individual is less likely to overdo any one of them.


There are two other issues that are particularly worth mentioning in terms of the 1/8 combination in a chart. One is anger. Both Letter 1 and Letter 8 are associated with anger. The difference is that Letter 1 anger is commonly more open, spontaneous, immediate (and over quickly), whereas Letter 8 anger is more internal, held back and may smolder as resentment. Individuals who have both 1 and 8 emphasized (particularly when they are in conflict with each other as with the quincunx), need to work on handling anger in a constructive fashion.

Readers are referred back to the hypothetical family in the Virgo 1987 quincunx article. There, members represented:

(1) Repression of one end of the quincunx and overdoing the other. (Father quick-tempered, with a low flash point, but over it quickly. Mother, tending to hold everything in.)

(2) Repression of one end of the quincunx, leading to physical illness. (If the spontaneous side is blocked, we expect headaches, colds, fatigue, or minor cuts, burns, accidents. If the intense controlling side is blocked, we expect problems involving bowels, bladder, sexual organs or pockets of fluid in the body such as cysts, tumors, pus. Both 1 and 8 can be associated with surgery in extreme forms of blocked personal expression and power.)

(3) Projection of a disowned end of a quincunx (with mother and father each expressing the side the other denied).

(4) Flipping between overdoing one side of the quincunx and then overdoing the other side, without any real integration or awareness of alternatives (e.g., holding in anger for long periods and then being very open and expressive with a “hair trigger”).

(5) Experimenting with each end of the quincunx, trying out different roles (e.g., being open and direct about anger when appropriate, getting issues out for discussion and holding feelings inside when necessary, until a constructive forum can be found for them).

People who are facing the 1/8 quincunx in terms of anger may manifest several of these variations until they reach relative integration. It is important to remember that quincunxes (like other conflict aspects) are DYNAMIC. That is, we are constantly re-working our balance and integration in these areas. We never fully “arrive” in the sense of “having it all together.” We just move to a higher and higher level of integration and understanding.

Since Letter 1 is one of the keys to the physical body and Letter 8 can be a key to surgery, the individual who is torn around issues of assertion, aggression, self-expression, anger, sexuality and intimacy, may sometimes live the stress out on a physical level and could reach the point of needing surgery. In such cases, the above issues should be considered carefully, especially in terms of balancing expression versus holding back, personal power versus shared power, and individual needs versus intimacy desires.

Treat physical problems with physical means, but also address underlying emotional issues, so that the physical problems need NOT recur. Prayer, visualization, affirmations and other spiritual tools can assist the healing process.


Sexuality is another issue that is associated with both Letter 1 and Letter 8. Very often, passions are strong, but the individual may feel torn between spontaneous, open, immediate attraction versus delving deeper, exploring many layers, exhibiting self-control and protecting the self by holding back or holding in. Power struggles are possible with other people, particularly before balance is reached between respect for one’s own rights and needs and respect for the rights and needs of others. Anger can become mixed with sexuality. In extremes, this could be a connection between sex and pain. More mild forms might find sexual aggression very exciting, or use anger as a way to “turn on” in general. Or, if uncomfortable with overt sexual needs, anger followed by “kissing and making up” can be a method of gaining sexual satisfaction. If freedom needs are not integrated with the desire for closeness, sexual sharing could be seen as a threat to the self; intimacy might be perceived as a loss of identity. Possessiveness, jealousy, aggression, blaming and threatening are possible, especially in areas involving sexuality.

When the individual is able to combine the two constructively, we can see the possibility of spontaneous, playful, sharing sex. Sexuality can feed vitality and the individual’s life force. Sex can be transforming and regenerating.


The 1/8 quincunx points out important issues in terms of balancing personal power and shared power. People may struggle between doormat, attacker, withdrawer, competitor, cooperator and helper in relationships. Anger and sexuality are particularly sensitive areas. Surgery is an extreme possibility if anger, assertion, freedom, openness, many-layered insights and sexuality issues generate too much stress to handle. An integration of 1/8 issues involves the ability to constructively combine initiative (beginning things) and perseverance; speed and careful planning; openness and inwardness; personal needs and the desire to share closely with another; being able to let go and holding on to the end when each is appropriate. Action backs up self-analysis and psychological insight (and vice versa). Emotional commitments further self-development and free self-expression aids the capacity to deeply share with another. These individuals know when to be open, and when to be silent and keep secrets. These people are able to freely be themselves and also merge to the level of a soul mate with another human being. They live lives of transformation, continually deepening and enriching their insights, and intensifying their capacity to merge with another person. They live and express the “adept” potential (Letter 8) in their actions and in their very being (Letter 1).

Copyright © 1988 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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