Rian’s question: Born on the cusp: which sign am I?

Could you talk a little bit about cusps? How much does a person with their sun at 29.5 degrees take on the next sign? Or is it black and white. I think it might be a fade-out/ fade-in, but I’ve never found anything written about this. Thank you. Rian

Anne’s Answer: I’m glad you asked this question, Rian. It’s one astrologers are asked A LOT !I’ll answer it in two stages.

Firstly, let’s imagine someone out there is due to give birth mid to late June 2013 in Glasgow, UK, and is wondering whether their baby will have the Sun in Gemini or Cancer.

At midnight GMT on 21st June (1.00 am UK summer time), the Sun is at the very end of  Gemini:29 degrees 48 minutes. By midnight GMT on 22nd June (1.00 am UK summer time), the Sun has moved to the next sign and occupies the very beginning of Cancer: 0 degrees 45 minutes. Thus our imaginary child arriving on 21st June 2013 some time after midnight GMT  in Glasgow,  UK would be in popular terms, ‘born on the cusp’.

However, as anyone who takes their interest in astrology ‘beyond the Sun Signs will very quickly realise, there is a lot more to astrology than its popular Sun Sign face would suggest. With an accurately calculated horoscope which uses the date, place and vital TIME of birth, an astrologer (or, these days, anyone with access to a reasonable computer programme ) can work out to the minute where the Sun is on that child’s birthday.

To illustrate this, look at the image below. (click on it to enlarge). Our imaginary cusp Baby X, born in Glasgow UK at 6.00 am British Summer Time ( 5.00 am GMT ) on Friday 21st June 2013, will have the Sun in Gemini – at 29 degrees 59 minutes. If this child  is born only five minutes later, however, he/she will have the Sun in Cancer – at 0 degrees 00 minutes.

Baby X (UK)

Baby X (UK)

Thus, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as ‘born on the cusp’. Our Baby X, horoscope accurately calculated,  is either – in Sun Sign terms – a Gemini or a Cancer.

However, Rian, your guess was quite correct. Someone born with the Sun at the very beginning of the 30 degrees of any zodiac sign has a stronger, more vivid and obvious  ‘charge’ of the sign’s energy than someone born at the very end.

Imagine you are standing in a favourite room which you have occupied for a long time. You are becoming a little bored, jaded with what that room may have to offer. Suddenly, a door you’d never noticed before opens slightly. A shaft of new light streams through from another room. You step forward, intrigued. Could this be a new adventure? Or, to conclude our analogy: the Sun in fickle, restless Gemini is becoming stale – the prospect of entry into a journey through another sign, watery mysterious Cancer, beckons….

The second stage of my answer, though, brings in a little of the more complex picture which more in-depth astrology has to offer.

Take another look at Baby X’s horoscope, featured above. (click on it to enlarge)

Even those of you with very little knowledge of astrology should be able to imagine the 360 degree zodiac circle before you as a stage. Stand in the centre, and look around the circle.

You will see various symbols, representing the planets. Humans have been standing on Earth, looking out into the night sky, plotting the planets’ positions against an imaginary 360 degree great circle, the zodiac, for more than six thousand years. That view has never changed, despite our knowledge for several centuries that the Sun, not Earth, is the centre of our solar system. We still look out from the same Earth to the same  celestial view.

On the left of the circle, just above and below the horizontal black line,  fall the sectors of Gemini and Cancer. Our Baby X may be a Sun Gemini – only just! – but very close to that Sun is Jupiter (desire to connect to the Big Picture)   and not far away is Mars (action). This gives our Baby X a very strong emphasis on the Gemini theme.

However the horizontal black line is his/her Ascendant or Rising Sign, revealing the way s/he will appear to the world in general. This is in the sign of Cancer. Just below this point, squashed together on 22 degrees of Cancer, are Venus (urge to relate) and Mercury (drive toward communication, expression). Thus Baby X will have five out of the ten planets (or characters on the stage), and Rising Sign, occupying only two of the twelve signs of the zodiac.

This places a very strong emphasis on the signs of Gemini and Cancer, rational air and emotional water. Thus, at a very simple level – full interpretation has to take all the characters, their locations and interactions on the zodiac stage into account – Baby X will have the gifts and pains of that classic Shakespearian clash between reason and passion, to wrestle with and reconcile, be driven by–  for as long as  s/he lives.

Well, Rian, a long answer for a short question! But I do hope it sheds some light – and reveals in the process a deeper astrology ‘beyond the Sun Signs’. Do let me know what you think!

And you new visitors and Followers out there. Drop by with your observations….. and, of course,  your Questions….



900 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

20 responses to “Rian’s question: Born on the cusp: which sign am I?

  1. Dear Anne,

    Your blog is great.

    I have a question:
    ” What is the Saturn Return”? it sounds very interesting and I’d like to know more.



    • Hi Emily

      many thanks for your question which is a really good one because the Saturn Return is a very important topic in astrology. I’ll leave our readers with bated breath waiting for an answer and get back to it in the next day or two! I have temporarily worn out my braincell on the Cusps issue….


  2. Thank you so much, Anne. Your very eloquent explanation resurfaced a memory of my first husband who was an identical twin. They looked alike, had the same mannerisms and interests, but their personalities were as different as night and day.


  3. Glad you found this useful and evocative, Rian. Funnily enough, I was thinking about twins born five minutes apart and how different their lives can be as I was writing the post. Now there’s a topic – twins – just dying to have a question asked about it!


  4. Ok, twins!! Two babies and two questions. Do you think there is any difference astrologically between identical twins compared to non identical twins. And considering a lot of twins are now born by c-section therefore their arrival times are separated by a very few minutes, does that means twins are astrologically more similar nowadays. Previously they would have been born naturally and the birth times could have been separated by many minutes or hours.


    • Yes, Sheilagh, I knew someone was bound to respond to the question dying to be asked. Not surprised it is you! Will return to this one later; off out to enjoy that fabulously unusual, mirage-like event going on outside: warmth and sunshine AT THE SAME TIME in the city of Glasgow….


  5. astroparadise

    Yes, the “cusp” is a very interesting topic for astrologers. And one that many astrologers disagree on. Personally, I do recognise a cusp. Why? Does summer immediately collapse into winter? No, there is Autumn, or Fall, inbetween as one energy takes over from the other, and blends into the other. Nature shows the way.

    Another way to recognise the cusp is to notice how we are rapidly progressing from the age of Pisces into the age of Aquarius. We are rapidly replacing the fish of Pisces (and Christianity) with the “wave” form of Aquarius, as the truth (and thereby liberation) is poured out from the water carrier’s urn for all to partake in. Plenty of microwaves, short waves, UHF waves, FM waves, and so on, as Uranus’ function as the higher communicator grows stronger and stronger. And of course, plenty of exciting new inventions, and we are only ‘on the cusp’ of what is to come in that area.

    Instead of going to the Piscean priest for the truth, we now look it up on Google and the internet – on a platform where everyone is equal. The truth is setting us free.


  6. Hi astroparadise
    Yes, the topic of cusps is a big one upon which one could spend a great deal of time. The challenge for me here is pitching my answers so that there are some clear guidelines for visitors and enquirers new to astrology, not going into too much complexity – but at the same time offering something to seasoned practitioners.

    This is where contributions from other astrologers are so helpful: putting some meat on the bare bones, so to speak, and giving newer students glimpses of the Bigger Picture. So many thanks for dropping by my new venture!

    I agree very much with what you say. One of the most fascinating current contexts for me as for many astrologers is the current ‘cusp’ state we are in regarding the shift of World Ages. Your insighttful observations are most welcome.


    • astroparadise

      Thank you Anne. I like your new blog. You are getting into some interesting territory and addressing some interesting questions.


  7. Good to hear from you again, Wizron. We just keep rolling along….


  8. Interesting that one of the very few bits of astrological “knowledge” I’ve had concerns cusps. I was born October 23, and was told as a child I was on the cusp between Libra and Scorpio. Of course, all that meant for me then was that I could choose between the daily predictions in the newspaper. If Scorpio didn’t suit me, I’d go with Libra, and vice-versa!

    Of course I’ve figured out since finding your blog that such an approach is, shall we say, simplistic. But now I have a better understanding of the term!


    • Hello Linda. We are in tune today – I’ve just sent off an email to you at the precise moment your comment came in. I wonder what an astrologer would make of that, then?!

      I was actually thinking of you when writing this post, funnily enough. I remembered that somewhere in our cyber-conversation you had mentioned that you were born on the cusp,
      and thought well – now you know, probably in more detail than you might ideally wish! Glad it has clarified things for you.

      Thanks so much for Following.


  9. ThatHairlessBaby

    Why is Virgo called the virgin?


    • Hi THB

      thanks for this question which raises the interesting issue of how the usage and meaning of words changes from one phase of culture to another. I will return to answer it when I have some time, in the next day or two.


    • As I have just said, this question raises the interesting issue of how the usage and meaning of words changes from one historical period/cultural phase to another. Within our current culture the word virgin when applied to humans generally means sexually intact. However, in ancient times when matriarchal religions were practised, the word virgin and the astrological sign of Virgo held a deeper and more complex set of meanings.

      For example, the priestesses who served the ancient virgin goddesses Atargatis and Artemis were anything but virgin in our contemporary sense of the word. They were women who belonged to themselves and the goddess(es), whose duties to the temple were paramount and who owed allegiance to no particular male partner. Indeed,it was commonplace with those priestesses who had children to foster them out. They were too busy with their sacred duties to have much time for motherhood. (Virgo’s contemporary association with perfectionism, attention to detail, and devotion to work began a very long time ago!)

      The eminent astrologer, writer and teacher Dr Liz Greene expresses the essence of what the sign Virgo is about in her “Astrology of Fate” p 215: “….this issue does not deal solely with sexual matters, but embodies an entire view of life….I would understand it more as an openness to the flow of life, a willingness to trust the natural order, an acceptance of penetration and change….”

      In the chapter “Myth and the Zodiac”, pp 211-220, Liz Greene offers a very full account of the complex, paradoxical mythology and symbolism connected to the sign of Virgo. I commend it to you!

      If you’d like to read some more factual aspects of this topic, try this Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgo_(astrology).

      Thanks for your stimulating question!


  10. My son is born in Ålesund, Norway 21st of June 2013. I’ve been trying to figure out if he’s a gemini or cancer, but with no luck. Can You help me? He is born in The day, 1:53 pm.


  11. Dear Elise
    I have put your question and my answer up on my Facebook Page since I think other readers might be interested – along with his chart. He is a Sun Cancer as you will see from the chart. Thanks for dropping by – and enjoy bringing up this restless, adventurous young seeker after wisdom and truth!


  12. As human beings we have a habit of setting up boundaries and limits and dividing things into departments, but perhaps you could see your son as being made up of both signs Elise, rather than one or the other. I happen to know a few Gemini-Cancer cusp people, and I recognise the character traits that these people have in common, so perhaps I can share that knowledge with you.

    Gemini makes him very curious and a natural communicator and “talker”. Cancer makes him a storyteller, so expect him to talk a LOT, and FAST, as he shares his thoughts and tries to get all his emotions out into words.

    He has a strong and quick intellectual side (Gemini), and he has a deeply emotional side (Cancer), and these two sides of his nature (which are quite different from each other) will become more obvious as he grows older.


  13. Thank You so much for The answers! 🙂


    • You are most welcome, Elise! I felt it would be nice for you just to have a brief positive comment on your lively, interesting child. Another astrologer also left a comment, which I left on because it was constructive and illuminating.

      And thanks for Liking my Page!


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