What’s a cusp?

Ever notice how some people don’t seem to match their Sun Sign description? You’ve met a spendthrift Moonchild, or a Capricorn whose extra gig is a regular stint as a stand-up comedian? It’s just possible these people were born on the cusp of their Sun Sign.

Frequent readers of this column and indeed, of most popular astrology columns know Sun Signs have a section of the year reserved for each sign: Aries, March 21 – April 19; Leo, July 23 – August 22; Scorpio, October 23 – November 21.

But what if you were born on March 22, yet you’re not extroverted, don’t enjoy the roar of the crowd, and really dislike arguing? Your Sun is likely on the cusp – or within a small arc surrounding the dates the signs supposedly change. Many astrologers will allow up to three days on either side of a sign change, such as March 21, 22 and 23 at the start of Aries, and April 19, 20 and 21 at the end. Those same astrologers will then immediately pick up their ephemeris and check to see what exact date the Sun entered Aries for that particular year. The beginning of Aries often has a strong Pisces element added in; perhaps the Sun entered Aries on March 21 that year and the person with the Natal Chart being interpreted has an Aries Sun of only one degree and a few minutes in Aries. That means there’s a ‘shadow effect’ of 30 degrees of Pisces, altering the questioner’s outlook on life in potentially myriad ways. Maybe instead of being a caped crusader, the Natal Chart owner is happiest working as a marine biologist.

I’ve worked with a Natal Chart which showed the Ascendant, Mercury, Sun and Moon all within a fairly tight conjunction in Libra – but that group of planets and aspects appeared in the last eleven degrees of Libra, tiptoeing perilously close to Scorpio. Imagine a Scorpion, poised to sting its adversary to death – but unable to decide where the fatal blow should be struck? That same Libra, usually charming and cordial to a wide social circle, having a transiting planet affect the major conjunction and becoming a surly hermit, unwilling to leave the house?

Cusps can be confusing to bystanders and quite unsettling for the Natal Chart native. The best advice I can give you is, if your Sun is at the beginning or end of a sign, don’t assume the conflicting tendencies in your psyche are due to bad Karma. Instead, check the date to pinpoint the precise time the Sun entered your sign. And then, find out your Ascendant and your Moon signs too. Combining these three key points of your chart gives you a much better picture of your strengths, talents and thought processes.

Just for fun, now let’s look at a thumbnail description of the cusps around the zodiac.

Aries: March 21, 22, 23

Potentially a hit-and-run Ram, at least figuratively. An ocean that reaches the boiling point regularly. Two Fish who swim in opposite directions in order to surround the enemy.

Taurus: April 20, 21, 23

A hot-headed Bull which demolishes the hapless matador. An adventurous homebody. Calm, placid exterior with a volcanic explosion simmering beneath the surface.

Gemini: May 21, 22, 23

Twins going in opposite directions. One Twin stubborn, bull-headed; the other, indolent and wanting wealth without being willing to work for it. Not Nureyev or even Astaire.

Moonchild: June 22, 23, 24

Suddenly discarding previously-cherished heirlooms and redecorating in chrome and plastic. Running away from home. Blowing bubbles in order to appear harmless.

Leo: July 23, 24, 25

Unable to roar due to self-doubt. The Cowardly Lion getting even from behind. Deliberate invention of famous ancestors and royal lineage.

Virgo: August 23, 24, 25

Secret plans to overthrow the monarchy and assume the throne. A miser greedily counting Bitcoin. Heartbroken after a love affair gone wrong but never admitting it.

Libra: September 23, 24, 25

Scales being engulfed by a landslide. Fairness and justice meted out to all in a mudpuddle. A beautiful mansion at the end of a dirt road.

Scorpio: October 23, 24, 25

A wishy-washy scorpion. That smiling, cordial mortal enemy. An air of shallowness that conceals the deepest end of the pool.

Sagittarius: November 22, 23, 24

A philosopher who wins every heated argument. Teeth-grinding determination to be jovial. A hail-fellow-well-met denizen of the underworld.

Capricorn: December 22, 23, 24

A banker telling truly terrible jokes in bad taste. An archer using a hundred-dollar bill for the center of the target. Camping out, no; glamping, yes.

Aquarius: January 20, 21, 22

A loquacious bank executive. Tiny holiday bonuses which are taxed. Reminding all the relatives that Junior’s college fund needs replenishing.

Pisces: February 19, 20, 21

Inviting the entire block to a five-year-old’s birthday party. Trying to choose who is actually the ‘best friend.’ Always surrounded by a crowd but constantly lonely.

Astrology, too, needs a bit of humor occasionally to leaven the horoscope. – MZ