Tracey Asks:

“What exactly does it mean to be ‘born on the cusp?’ I was born on October 20...I’ve been told I am either Libra (which I’ve assumed all my life) or possibly a Scorpio?”

E. Moore Asks:

“What happens if you are a cusp person, e.g., on the cusp of Pisces and Aquarius?”

Kevin Answers:

Tracey and E.,

In modern astrology usage, the term “cusp” or “on the cusp” generally indicates a planet that is near the boundary of two signs, or of two houses. When most people talk about being “born on the cusp” they mean that their birth date falls close to one of the “Sun Sign” boundaries given along with most “sun sign” astrology columns. While I am obligated to remind everyone that the type of “Sun Sign” astrology published in “horoscope” columns in popular newspapers and magazines has little or no validity, being born with one’s Sun on the cusp of the next sign can be rather significant in terms of real astrology.

The first thing to remember is that the Sun changes signs on different dates and different times each year, and on top of this, dates and times are relative and usually based on Greenwich Mean Time. If you think that you were born on the Cusp and aren’t sure what sign your Sun happens to be in, the first step is to take a look at your natal chart. You can do this for free online at http://www.astro.ch/atlas—one of the greatest astrological resources on the web. Simply enter in the location of your birth, then update the time and date and you can view your birth chart.

Next, we have to consider the differences between the Sign Cusps and the House Cusps. House Cusps are relative and extremely flexible, particularly the intermediate house cusps. Depending on which house system you use, a planet may fall in different houses. For natal interpretations, a planet close to a house cusp, particularly when it is about to enter the next house, can often be interpreted in terms of both houses; blending the interpretations of the houses is often both useful and appropriate in these cases. In horary and predictive astrology, a planet within 3–4 degrees of a house cusp is usually interpreted as being in the next house.

Sign cusps, however, are absolute. There is no transition between signs; there is no grey area at the end of a sign where a planet may exhibit qualities of both its current sign and the next sign. A planet at 29 degrees of Libra is still 100% in the sign of Libra (although planets in the last degrees of signs often have less strength and more difficulty expressing themselves). Once that planet reaches 0 degrees of Scorpio, it is entirely in the sign of Scorpio (and being in the early degrees of a sign, the planet may in fact express with greater strength here).

Being born with your Sun on the cusp of a sign becomes significant because of Secondary Progressions. Secondary Progressions show our internal evolution and growth as we learn to work with the energy in our chart. The most common systems of Progressions take one day to equal one year of life, and when planets change signs by progression, it represents a very significant life event. A person born with their Sun at 29 degrees or more of a sign will experience their Sun moving into the next sign by Secondary Progression before their first birthday–-and this is why being born on the cusp is so significant.

The Sun represents how we want to express ourselves as individuals, and it represents our core identity, our conscious self, and the types of activities that we must pursue in order to recharge and energize our physical body. We have to learn to work with and discover our Sun; and we don’t even begin to be able to consciously work with our Sun until we’ve experienced at least one complete Solar cycle.

What happens with individuals born on the cusp is that before they experience their first Solar Return, before they have a chance to even begin to understand their core identity, their Sun has progressed into the next sign. They will become far more familiar with the energy of their Progressed Sun than they will with the energy of their Natal Sun. These individuals often grow up and feel as if there is something missing in their lives, something that they can’t quite identify. That something is a connection to the energy of their Natal Sun.

If you were born with your Sun in the very late degrees of a sign, it’s important that you explore the energy and lessons that are associated with that sign: they form the foundation of your core sense of self. Although you have grown and evolved as an individual over the course of your life, it’s still important to make contact with your core essence and to understand and integrate the point of departure for your individual identity.

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