Questions about “cusps” and birth signs

[A portion of this article is taken from earlier posts.]  The idea that a person was born on the “cusp” originates from Sun Sign astrology.  Your sign as you know it is actually the sign that the Sun was in at the time you were born.   If you pick up a book or newspaper horoscope about your Sun sign, or as some publications call it, your star sign (if you see a publication that refers to star signs, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction), it will refer to a range of dates for your sign.  This stems from the fact that the Sun doesn’t move from one sign into another on the same date each year and these publications have no way to calculate the exact position of the Sun in your chart.

born on the cusp

Approximate dates of Sun Signs

For example, in this diagram Aries is said to begin on March 21st, but this year the Sun entered Aries on March 20th.

A question I was asked: “I am looking to understand the “CUSP” between a Virgo and a Libra? After reading [horoscopes for] both for several months, I am finding myself more inclined to be or leaning towards Libra. Can you give me any insight that might point me towards my true sign?”

This individual was born at 29 degrees 17 minutes Virgo. If you were born in the last four or five degrees of one sign, the qualities of the next sign begin bleeding through. He is moving away from the characteristics of Virgo, the previous sign, and his focus is more on the next which is Libra. Mercury in his chart is in Libra, so his thought process is filtered through the Libran love of beauty and harmony rather than the Virgo desire for details and safety and this adds to his sense of the Libra qualities.

The Sun sign is the biggest single piece of the chart but it is only one piece. Because the Sun represents our quest or mission, a placement in the last degrees of a sign shows that you are completing that mission and beginning a new one during this lifetime. That is not true for those born at the beginning degrees of a sign; once you have moved into the next sign there is no more bleeding through. Still, the rest of the chart adds a richly layered tapestry of other influences to complete the picture. This individual has Sagittarius rising, a Capricorn Moon, a Leo Mars, Jupiter in Cancer, Venus in Virgo. All very different influences that come together to create a unique individual.

I believe that one reason there is so much skepticism about astrology is that people equate astrology with Sun signs and think that astrology means that everyone who is born under the sign of Aries is the same.  This misses the richness and beauty of the astrological pantheon and frankly is the reason I started this blog back in 2005.

Sun sign astrology, or “horoscopes” as they are inaccurately called, is fun and entertaining, but it should not be mistaken for real astrology.

By | 2017-05-15T10:30:44+00:00 May 15th, 2017|Astrology, Lessons|5 Comments

Top ten things to know about Mars in Capricorn!

Photo by Bacher Photography

Mars often gets a bad rap because it represents the more sordid side of the personality: desires of all kinds, anger, rage.  Mars is named after the god of war, after all!  But Mars also represents inspiration, motivation, the ability to set good boundaries and defend ourselves.  Mars requires action and we generally only see its negative qualities when that action is stifled for some reason.  Mars isn’t necessarily destructive, nor does it necessarily inspire rage in the heart of humans.  But Mars needs an outlet in order to perform efficiently, and the planet that Mars travels through tells us the best way to channel Mars energy at that time.

Mars just entered the sign of Capricorn, the sign that teaches us to master the material world, and will remain there until December 4th  The symbol of Capricorn is the mountain goat, scaling great heights with courage and tenacity.  Capricorn loves structure and business – it follows the rules of society and is patient and disciplined in order to achieve its goals  Mars is said to be exalted in Capricorn because the potential wild energy of Mars is most effective when channeled through the order of Capricorn.

Each sign acts as a correction for the previous sign, so as Mars enters Capricorn it is leaving the sign of Sagittarius where it dislikes boundaries and rules.  The transition to a more structured environment may be somewhat challenging but will pay off in the long run.  While Mars is in Capricorn it will eventually set off the Uranus/Pluto square, creating abundant conflict and destruction anywhere there is stagnation that requires a new approach.

Here are ten things to know about the journey of Mars through Capricorn.

  1. Mars in Capricorn seeks nothing less than to master the material world.  Emotions are less important under this influence and finding the discipline to develop the skills that help you to climb the mountain of success are the desired traits.
  2. This is a great time to set goals and plan actions.  Mars in Capricorn isn’t a visionary – it wants to DO something.  For every goal you have, devise a strategy that includes a “next action” to make it happen.
  3. Mars in Capricorn likes everything to be orderly. Unlike Virgo which just likes organization, Mars in Capricorn likes order because it preserves efficiency.  Make sure all of your equipment and software works so that you can accomplish the things on your to-do list.
  4. Tempers are cooler when Mars is in Capricorn, but that doesn’t mean that no one is getting angry.  Anger can simmer beneath the surface and requires resolution if problems arise.
  5. Under this influence there is more caution, and the giddy optimism of Mars in Sagittarius gives way to a more tempered approach to investing and other business decisions.
  6. When Mars is in Capricorn our responsibilities become more important.  Expect to take on perhaps a little more than you can handle, Capricorn is not afraid of a little hard work.
  7. Empathy takes a back seat when Mars is in Capricorn.  The ends justify the means, and reaching the goal is the critical factor.
  8. With Mars bumping up against Uranus (radical revolution) and Pluto (destruction and regeneration) in November, the endurance and need for control of Capricorn can become brittle and shatter under the pressure of change from Uranus.  I’ll be writing more about that later.
  9. There will be little time for relaxation when Mars is in Capricorn.  With such a strong emphasis on achievement and responsibility, that nap in the sun will have to wait!
  10. Everyone loves a winner, and Mars in Capricorn needs to win.  Find a way to challenge yourself with a new skillset that will help you to conquer your competition.
By | 2014-10-26T11:32:26+00:00 October 26th, 2014|Lessons, Planetary cycles|2 Comments

Retrogrades: A discussion for June 2014

Mercury retrogradeAs I was writing the Planetary Illuminations report for June (coming soon to an inbox near you if you are on my mailing list!!) I found that the discussion about retrogrades was substantial enough to deserve its own post.

Astrologically is not always astronomically correct because we observe the motion of the planets from our perspective here on earth.  From here, the planets sometimes appear to change direction and move backwards instead of forwards, and we call this “retrograde motion.”

As June begins, Saturn and Pluto are already retrograde, and during the month of June Mercury will turn retrograde on the 7th, followed by Neptune turning retrograde on the 9th, and Chiron will turn retrograde on the 20th.  By that time we will have five retrograde planets, which will tend to cause events to slow down and make it more difficult to move forwards.

If you think about a car making a U-turn you will get a sense of how the planet works when it prepares to change direction: Its motion slows down and then comes to a standstill as it makes the actual reversal.  When the planet starts to slow down its influence intensifies, especially if that planet is currently affecting planets in our own birthchart, and the energy of that planet becomes hard to ignore.  If it is Saturn, things feel heavy and we feel a great responsibility.  If it is Neptune, we may feel confused and lethargic but also crave music and meditation.

Once a planet turns retrograde, our attention is pulled back to the past.  Retrogrades provide us with an opportunity to revisit areas of our life that require further examination or revision.

The planet Mercury governs communication and learning, as well as other things involving the processing of information. Mercury is a fast moving planet and gives us four retrograde periods each year, for about three weeks each.  When Mercury is retrograde our attention is turned to the past and we have an opportunity to revise, restore, reacquaint – to re-do decisions or situations that were perhaps faulty to start with.

Mercury retrograde periods are not great for making decisions or starting new projects, for making big purchases or signing contracts.  However, people do these things all the time and generally they turn out fine, although there may be glitches and misunderstandings that come up along the way.

With Chiron (healing) and Neptune (seeking an experience of Spirit)  also turning retrograde and their motion being stationary for much of the month, the focus will be internalized with an increased longing to find that inner place of peace and joy.

Five retrograde planets is a pretty strong retrograde emphasis, so it will be helpful to expect this tendency to be held back and revisit the past rather than try to push against the tide and force events to fruition that are clearly not working.  But it’s also important to remember that you are only visiting the past – that you live in this present moment and any trips to the past must be only temporary.

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By | 2014-06-01T09:21:10+00:00 June 1st, 2014|Lessons|11 Comments

Astrology lesson: The effect of planetary cycles

planetsA client asked this question so I thought it might be a good thing to cover in this column:  Do planetary cycles like the Uranus/Pluto square (see the sidebar) affect everyone the same?

I used this example to explain how planetary cycles work:  When it’s raining in your community, rain pours down on everyone.  But everyone is affected differently.  Some people love being out in the rain and they may be dancing in the streets.  Some people hate to get wet, and they will stay indoors or cover themselves with rain gear.  Some people get depressed in the dark days, and they will retreat into their sadness until the Sun returns.

A planetary cycle or movement, whether a huge cycle such as the Uranus/Pluto square that is going on now (see the sidebar) or a tiny little lunar event that may last an hour or two, will affect all of us to one degree or another.  If the planetary cycle is near the same degree as a planet in our chart so that it hits us directly, it will have a stronger and more personal impact.

If the planetary cycle is near the same degree as a sensitive point or system in our chart it has the strongest affect of all, stimulating that sensitive point and necessitating some sort of change to bring relief and ultimately, growth and evolution.

For more information and guidance during planetary cycles, you may want to read my article on Transits and Transformation.

Thank you for attending today’s lesson!

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By | 2013-12-07T06:32:58+00:00 December 7th, 2013|Featured posts, Lessons, Planetary cycles|0 Comments

Pars Fortuna, Aspects and Energy

FortunaA reader wrote me about the significance of the multitude of Kites, Mystic Rectangles and Yods in her chart but upon closer examination, many of these aspects involve the Part of Fortune and the Nodes of the Moon rather than planets or luminaries. Which brought up an interesting point of discussion: what really do aspects describe, and what points should be considered?

In the birthchart, the Sun represents our essential Self, the Moon our emotional nature, and the seven traditional planets each represent an aspect of our personality. The outer planets each show a mode of transformation and soul growth. Aspects, or geometric angles, between the inner and outer planets show the way the different parts of our personality work together and how they are used for the evolution of our soul. The qualities (elements and whether fixed, cardinal or mutable) of the signs that the planets fall in show the energy that is at work in each of the planets, and the aspects show the way those energies harmonize or create conflict.

Major aspects including the T-square, Grand Cross or Grand Trine describe the way the energies of the planets involve relate to each other. These create energy imbalances (squares and crosses) or loops (trines) that affect our everyday lives. Yods, Kites and Mystic Rectangles are combinations of harmonious aspects with challenging ones that describe again the way the energies of the planets alternatively conflict and harmonize to bring about personal growth.

There are many points that astrologers work with that may or may not be considered in these aspects: Chiron, other asteroids, the Moon’s nodes, fixed stars, etc. Certainly the more points are included the more aspects will be found in the chart. But do these aspects accurately describe the psychological makeup of the individual?

To me, the question to ask before including points in the calculation of aspects is this: Does the point in question operate within the soul or psyche of the individual or does it act as a point of information or a signpost?

For example, in my work I use Chiron as a regular planet, no different from Mercury or Saturn. To me, Chiron is clearly a part of the energy makeup of the individual since it’s role is to channel psychic energy through the body and it describes how the individual will react when that energy is blocked or stifled.

The Ascendant and Midheaven are not a part of the internal energy system of the individual although they do show the personality (ascendant) and public life (midheaven). The lifestyle that we choose through these points does affect our internal operations and I do look at aspects to the ascendant and midheaven.

The Nodes of the Moon are a bit trickier. These points tell a story about our evolutionary history, depicting the areas of life that come easily to us but which tend to hold us back (South Node) and the areas of life that make up our evolutionary destiny (North Node). These points are more like signposts and they don’t actually operate within the individual. While I look at these points in terms of which pieces of the chart are more karmic in nature, I would not include them in Grand Crosses or other aspects which describe psychological systems or a certain expression of psychic energy within the individual.

The same is true of the Part of Fortune or any of the 100 or so other Arabic Parts. The Arabic Parts are mathematical calculations incorporating usually three points in the chart to provide additional clues to interpretation. The Part of Fortune (or Pars Fortunae) is the only one of these in common usage today and it is commonly interpreted as an indicator of well-being and success. In my work I sometimes use it as indicating a key to integrating the birthchart, although over the years I have used it less and less since the rest of the chart does a much better job of accomplishing the same thing with much greater detail.

The Part of Fortune is like a messenger but it is not a part of the individual, and therefore, in my view, it should not be calculated with aspects denoting psychological and psycho-spiritual systems. I’d be interested to hear other opinions on this subject as I think there are many different ways to approach this.

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By | 2013-08-20T14:17:22+00:00 August 20th, 2013|Astrology, Lessons|1 Comment