You Were Not Born On A Cusp

“I’m on the Virgo/Libra cusp!” you may exclaim to another astrology enthusiast, but are you?

In my “A Tale of Two Zodiac” article I detailed the two main types of Zodiac astrologers across the field use, the tropical and sidereal Zodiac. The ancient Mesopotamian’s created a sidereal system where they simplified 18 (sometimes 17) uneven physical constellations that were visible in the ecliptic into 12 equal sized Zodiacal “signs.” A common theory as to why the ancients did this was because the path the Sun takes in the sky (which is called the ecliptic) is circular. A circle has 360° in it, therefore, reducing the constellations into 12 signs with 30° in each is the easiest way to divide a circle. Consequently, planets can only be in one sign at time. And yet…many people think they are “between cusps.”

Mathematically, this is impossible. A planet can be anywhere within the 30° of any of the signs, but never straddling two. A planet at 0° Cancer is in Cancer, not between Gemini and Cancer. Likewise, a planet at 29° Cancer is also in Cancer, not between Cancer and Leo. But when you look online and sometimes even in astrology books, you will see authors claiming that if you were born several days before or after the Sun has entered the new sign, or if your Sun is anywhere from 2-5° away from the next sign (25-29° of a sign), you are “in between signs” and therefore have the qualities on both. This is nonsense.

Yes, since the overwhelming majority of astrologers in the West use the tropical Zodiac, which is tied to the equinoxes and solstices, and our calendar is not entirely synched up with the solar or tropical year (the time it takes for the Earth to revolve around the Sun), the exact dates for when each sign ends and begins does change year to year by 1-2 days, in some cases 3. However, this still does not mean that a person has their Sun floating between two signs but never entirely in either.

Below and to the left are the dates for when the Sun enters a new sign according to the tropical Zodiac. These dates are determined by the first day of spring, or when the Sun is at the vernal equinox, which in the tropical system marks 0° of Aries. Typically, this occurs on March 20th or 21st. Since 1980, the vernal equinox has been on March 20th except for 2003 and 2007. In rare cases the Sun ingresses into Aries on the 19th of March. This last happened in 1796 and won’t happen again until 2044.

To the right are the alleged cusp dates. Notice how on some dates the Sun would have been at 0-1° of the new sign or anywhere from 25-29° of the previous sign depending on the year and time of day.

The Tropical Dates of When the Sun Ingresses into Each SignThe Dates of When the Sun is Supposed to be “In-between Signs
Aries dates: March 19/20/21 – April 18/19/20

Taurus dates: April 19/20/21 – May 19/20/21

Gemini dates: May 20/21/22 – June 20/21/22

Cancer dates: June 20/21/22 – July 21/22/23

Leo dates: July 22/23/24 – August 21/22/23

Virgo dates: August 22/23/24 – September 21/22/23

Libra dates: September 22/23/24 – October 21/22/23

Scorpio dates: October 22/23/24 – November 20/21/22

Sagittarius dates: November 21/22/23 – December 20/21/22

Capricorn dates: December 21/22/23 – January 18/19/20

Aquarius dates: January 19/20/21 – February 17/18/19

Pisces dates: February 18/19/20 – March 18/19/20
Aries-Taurus cusp dates: April 16 – 22

Taurus-Gemini cusp dates: May 17 – 23

Gemini-Cancer cusp dates: June 17 – 23

Cancer-Leo cusp dates: July 19 – 25

Leo-Virgo cusp dates: August 19 – 25

Virgo-Libra cups dates: September 19 – 25

Libra-Scorpio cusp dates: October 19 – 25

Scorpio-Sagittarius cusp dates: November 18 – 24

Sagittarius-Capricorn cusp dates: December 16 – 23

Capricorn-Aquarius cusp dates: January 16 – 23

Aquarius-Pisces cusp dates: February 15 – 21

Pisces-Aries cusps dates: March 17 – 23

When you look up your natal chart online with the precise birth time you will see clearly which exact sign your Sun is in. Oftentimes when people discover for certain which Sun sign they are, they are shocked. That is because even if they proclaim to not take astrology “seriously,” their specific sign had already become something they identified with and internalized. Many, as a result, will argue that they still have the qualities of whichever sign their Sun is not in. But often the characteristics they are describing can be seen elsewhere in the chart, usually in the Mercury and/or Venus signs. These planets are never more than 28° and 48°, or around 1 to 2 signs, away from the Sun respectively. Therefore, you can have the qualities of the previous or succeeding sign, but they are not attached to your Sun. For example, I am a late degree Aries Sun (26°) born on an alleged cusp date (April 16th) but I have both my Venus (0°) and Mercury retrograde (9°) in Taurus. My rising (6°) is also in Taurus, so it is easy to identify as a Taurus even though that is not where my Sun is.

What I find fascinating about this “you will have the qualities of both signs” thing is that the 0° and 29° of each sign is very important in astrology. These are called critical degrees, although some astrologers insist that only certain degrees within a specific modality (i.e., cardinal, fixed, mutable) are critical degrees. Planets at these points tend to be in a “crisis” or seem to be (subtly) emphasized in the chart.

When the planet in question is at 0° of a sign, it is said to be stepping into the energy of that sign in a pure way. The planet is wholeheartedly embracing the sign’s energy because it is beginning something new. This planet is excited to be here and take on whatever the sign throws at it.  

The 29° (also known as the anaretic degree, or “degree of fate”), however, is considered weak and imbalanced. A planet here is truly in a crisis as it tends to not know how to use its energy efficiently, either expending too much or too little. I guess in a way you could argue that this planet is stressing out about tying up the loose ends of the sign that it is in so that it can move on to the next sign. Instead of staying calm and levelheaded though, it is low- or high-key freaking out and making silly mistakes it would normally not have made earlier in the sign. This negative view of the anaretic degree seems to have come from Medieval astrologers assigning the malefics of Mars and Saturn to the 29° of the term of a sign. Malefics cause misfortune, thus a planet at this degree may experience some bad luck here.

At the same time, however, there is a silver lining. When a planet is at the 29° of a sign, there is a sense of mastery over the significations of both the sign and planet. For instance, a person with their Mercury at the 29° can be very confident in their speaking and writing skills often because they are actually rather seasoned or talented in these areas. If in say, Libra, this person may be very adept at negotiating and being an impartial listener. But there will be periods in their life where it seems like this isn’t true, as the planet is getting tripped up by the harder challenges the sign is throwing at it.

Regardless, one cannot be “in between signs.” How the Zodiacal signs were created does not allow it.


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References

Astrolada. (n.d.). Planets in the 29th Degree in the Horoscope. Fated Life. Retrieved from https://www.astrolada.com/articles/character-astrology/planets-in-the-29th-degree-in-the-horoscope-fated-life.html

—. (n.d.). The Critical 0 Degree in Astrology! New Karma!. Retrieved from https://www.astrolada.com/articles/character-astrology/the-critical-0-degree-in-astrology-new-karma.html

Astrology in Action. (n.d.). The Anaretic Degree. Retrieved from https://www.astrologyinaction.com/anaretic-degrees

Clifford, Frank. (n.d.). Critical Points: The First and Final Degrees of a Sign. Retrieved from https://www.astrologyuniversity.com/critical-degrees/

—. (2019, Jan. 8). The Power Degrees of the Zodiac. Retrieved from https://www.astro.com/astrology/aa_article190801_e.htm

Heese, Annie. (n.d.). Critical & Anaretic Degrees. Retrieved from https://cafeastrology.com/criticaldegrees.html

Tarot.com Staff. (2019, Nov. 25). Born on the Zodiac Cusp. Retrieved from https://www.tarot.com/astrology/cusps/born-on-the-zodiac-cusp

Zodiac Cusp Signs. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.astrology.com/on-the-cusp

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