Life is a Quincunx

Maritha Pottenger

This issue we take up the 4-11 quincunx.


The strongest form of the 4-11 quincunx would be a quincunx between the Moon and Uranus. To some extent, any Moon-Uranus aspect shows the need to integrate 4/11 issues, but the actual quincunx would carry more of the restlessness, sense of incompatibility and the feeling of having to deal with a “forced choice” situation, a fork in the road, or the possibility of projection.

Harmony aspects would imply that integration comes a little more easily. Squares suggest tension, challenges and the need to take turns or to be moderate in expressing the different drives involved. Oppositions include the possibility of pulling apart, or polarizing (playing out opposite ends of the seesaw) until one can achieve a middle-ground compromise or synthesis.

The conjunction of Moon and Uranus indicates that one does not get the Moon without Uranus (and vice versa). However, the individual must still face the issues of this natural quincunx and seek helpful rather than destructive combinations and integrations.


Any quincunxes between the rulers of the 4th and 11th houses would also highlight this 4-11 quincunx. Similarly for quincunxes between planets in the 4th and in the 11th, or in Cancer and in Aquarius. The aspect involved will not always be a quincunx. The 4th and 11th houses may be linked, for example, through a tri-octile (135 degrees, also called a sesqui-square or sesquiquadrate). The quincunx itself, however, carries the most restlessness, themes of dissimilar drives, inner ambivalence and the need to integrate very different parts of the nature.

The following all point to a need to combine Letters 4 and 11. They are all variations of a “natural” 4-11 quincunx:

1) Moon in the 11th house

2) Uranus in the 4th house

3) Any ruler of the 4th in the 11th house

4) Any ruler of the 11th in the 4th house

5) Moon in Aquarius

6) Uranus in Cancer

7) Any ruler of the 4th aspecting Uranus or any 11th house ruler

8) Any ruler of the 11th aspecting the Moon or any 4th house ruler

9) Any planet in or ruling the 4th aspecting any planet in or ruling the 11th (including natural rulers Moon and Uranus)

10) Any planet in Aquarius aspecting any planet in Cancer.

The more important this quincunxing theme is within the nature, the more times it will be repeated within the horoscope.


With the 4-11 blend or interaction in a horoscope, we are seeking to comfortably combine our dependency, nurturance, emotional vulnerabilities, security needs, drive for mother, home and family with our freedom needs, individuality, urge for the new, risk-taking elements, friends, new horizons and the broadest reach of humanity.

Here are some of the different parts of life we are trying to integrate (making room for each) with the 4-11 quincunx:











seeks security

seeks the new












Spaceship Earth


One option when dealing with this issue is to feel torn between one’s desire for emotional closeness and connections versus one’s desire for independence, individuality and personal freedom. It is rather typical when one has this inner conflict to also come into a home where the mother (or mother figure) has the same conflict. Mother may have felt torn between being a dedicated, caring, protective parent versus doing her own thing in the world and expressing her individual needs. She may have sometimes felt trapped, confined, or hemmed in by the nurturing role. She may have broken loose or broken free in healthy, self-affirming ways, in erratic, unpredictable, disruptive ways—or made herself ill because she wanted to escape and felt she couldn’t.

If both the mother and child are working on the same dilemma, they are likely to act out opposite needs. When she wants to be close, the child pulls away, asserts independence, defies her protectiveness. And, when mother wants to be free, the child clings, is possessive and looks to her for emotional support. By encouraging the child’s independence in constructive, esteem-building ways, the mother builds a foundation for her own ability to pursue personal interests. By raising children who want to do their own thing, a mother has more independence.

If the individual does not reach a reasonable compromise with his or her own mother (or mother figure), old ambivalences are likely to arise when s/he gets involved with nurturing activities. If one has children, one may fluctuate between feeling totally trapped by them and smothering them. Or, one may expect independence at ages and in activities where it is not truly reasonable—or look for more closeness, support and love than children are capable of providing. By working on our original mothering experience and our internal ambivalences, we create the possibility of handling future attachments more constructively. We can learn how to “love with an open hand”—accepting and encouraging the individuality of our loved ones, providing a fundamental sense of caring within an atmosphere of openness and individual differences.


One push/pull of this quincunx may be between one’s family and one’s friends. Sometimes the “forced choice” appears to be between family and friends. Perhaps our friends seem unable to accept our family and/or our family unable to accept our friends. Perhaps we simply feel very torn between attachments to the domestic scene and a desire to be involved with the wider world. One activity takes time and energy away from the other; somehow we have to make room for both.


Another form of the natural conflict between Letter 4 and Letter 11 can be the war between the past and the future. Letter 4 emphasizes our roots, our security needs, our desire to curl up in what has been and make it what will be, forever and ever, Amen. Letter 11 emphasizes our urge to break new ground, to take chances, to make changes, to seek the new, the unusual, the different, the forward-going, the progressive and anything on the cutting edge of change. We may feel torn between the old and the new, between family tradition and modern technology, between the security of the known and familiar versus the excitement of the new and the possible. As with most competing drives, the challenge is to find a way to have both. Perhaps we can have a home full of antiques and computers. Perhaps we can be a traditionalist at home and a modernist at work. Perhaps we can change our heritage to allow more individuality and freedom without sacrificing commitment and caring. Many options are possible; the individual blend is up to us.


Another challenge for integration inherent within the 4-11 quincunx is the tension between thinking and feeling. Letter 11 is rational, objective, detached, and intellectual. Letter 11 wants to observe situations and base actions on logic. Letter 4 is emotional, intense, sensitive, moody and intuitive. Letter 4 reacts to everything on a feeling level (although those feelings are often hidden for reasons of self-protection or nurturing others). Naturally in life, one’s objective decisions may be at odds with one’s feelings. Rarely is it appropriate to decide solely on the basis of thoughts or only on the basis of emotions. Most of the time, we must make some reasonable combination of both, hoping to find a compromise that does not throw out the data of head or heart.


With the conjunction between Moon and Uranus, we are—in some way—blending Letters 4 and 11. We may not be doing the best job possible, but we do not get one without the other. Equally with the Moon in the 11th or Uranus in the 4th, etc., we are combining the contradictory somehow. Perhaps our mother is independent, free-wheeling, experimental, erratic, unpredictable, into astrology or the new age, cool, aloof, detached or a rebel. Perhaps our style of mothering is intellectual and encourages independence. Perhaps our home is full of computers, new technology, unusual people and things, friends or unpredictable activities. In some way, we are bringing together thoughts and feelings, the old and the new, roots and future, family and friends.

With the conflict aspects, putting the pieces together FEELS more subjectively difficult. Perhaps our friends separate us from our family (or vice versa). Perhaps humanitarian causes pull us away from our roots and upbringing. Perhaps our mother (or mothering role) seems at odds with our individuality and need for freedom. Perhaps we feel torn between thinking and feeling, or between a narrow, nationalistic, parochial, protective view versus a wider, more universal, more inclusive approach to the world. Perhaps technology seems to separate us from caring and compassion. Perhaps our dependency needs threaten our desire to be unique. Commitment can vie with space and security needs compete with a desire to take risks.

Harmony aspects suggest that blending these diverse needs will not be all that difficult. Mother may be unconventional, progressive, bright and independent without losing her warmth and caring. The home may be intellectually stimulating, progressive and exciting without giving up traditions, rituals and a sense of history. We are able to both think and feel, to blend compassion and detachment, to combine logic and intuitions. We can be emotionally bonded with family, yet maintain our sense of unique individuality and freedom to pursue new ideas and directions.

In some way, we create security within risks, safety within the new, and emotional support while experimenting and moving forward. We may open up and enliven old ways of doing things, be more tolerant of family, be more warmly tied to friends and generally make connections between the feeling side and the rational sides of life.

Mother in some fashion gave us our first opportunity to deal with the urge to be unique, to take risks, to be independent, to be unusual and to look ahead. How we handled that early relationship gives clues about later reactions to the tension between freedom and closeness, feelings and thoughts, traditions and progress. We can always achieve a higher degree of integration, compromising more than we have in the past. With a constructive combination, we can truly turn family into friends (open, tolerant, cherishing differences, encouraging personal growth and exploration) and friends into family (caring, warm, supportive, and loving). The lines of separation blur. We come to care about other nations as much as our own, about humanity as much as our own blood. Caring is universalized. Freedom is cherished for all.

Copyright © 1989 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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