Born on the cusp? No such thing!

“What does it mean if I’m born on the cusp?” This is one of the the most frequent questions asked of astrologers. So – I thought I’d revisit it for the benefit of new readers – with thanks to Rian, who asked the original question.

“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.”

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

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

At midnight GMT on 21st June (1.00 am UK summer time) that year, the Sun was at the very end of  Gemini:29 degrees 48 minutes. By midnight GMT on 22nd June (1.00 am UK summer time), the Sun had moved to the next sign and occupied 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 have been 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, has the Sun in Gemini – at 29 degrees 59 minutes. If this child had been born only five minutes later, however, he/she would have the Sun in Cancer – at 0 degrees 00 minutes.

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 appears 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 has 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.

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….


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

900 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

21 responses to “Born on the cusp? No such thing!

  1. Thank you for answering this question! I am considered a cusp with the birth date of September 23 Libra/Virgo. Do you personally believe that the signs leave behind any traces of energy? For example, when you walk into a room and you can tell someone had just been there. I don’t think cusps contain any major attributes to personality but I do feel that I can come off a bit virgo-ey at times and I’m very aware of my birth charts and other plant signs 🙂 Great article! You’ve explained this topic very well 🙂


  2. I wonder that some might take that “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.” as meaning that the notion of cusp signs are indeed A Thing that is factual. Just think of the discussions about the color spectrum lay people have, when trying to talk around that point where yellow and green converge. I sometimes think about how I’d explain this topic to a skeptical sun sign only aficionado “but wait! isnt that ‘different charge’ thing just a different way of describing a cusp?” <– someone with mars in libra, probably


  3. I especially appreciated your gift for the written word here: “…Suddenly, a door you’d never noticed before opens slightly. A shaft of new light streams through from another room. You step forward, intrigued…”

    You gave us our own little tease of intriguing light, and when we stepped inside to discover more – there you were with a very interesting lesson for the day. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was an interesting read, as I’ve always been told I was born on “the cusp” (October 23). I never could quite figure it out, because sometimes I’d be shown as being in one sun sign and sometimes in the other. When I was still reading newspapers that had the horoscope of the day, I always picked the one that I best liked! (As a matter of fact, that was what I used to do with the various weather forecasts, too, until I got good enough at forecasting my own weather that I stopped paying attention to tv weathermen!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, as we both know, newspaper astrology as well as weather forecasts have their severe limitations…I went out in our notoriously fickle West of Scotland weather, trusted my weather app that it wouldn’t rain, left my raincoat at home – and got soaked!


  5. ..via Facebook 15.7.17:
    Rena Hdesign:
    Wonderful post Anne! It is always refreshing as you cut to the heart of the matter and back it up with logic- much appreciated. Your piece called to mind the writings of Dane Rudhyar – whose writings I continue to love to read. Comforting is his solid conviction was that everyone and everything is created to fill a very specific need in the universe. This ties in with the exact placement of activations within one’s birth chart – there is a specific need for that energetic being – on whichever side of a cusp.
    It’s almost 2 years since I discovered there was an error in the astrological data base involving the small town I was born in and daylight saving time. When the error was corrected I was quite astounded to discover how much my ego was caught up in the symbolism of the chart (and probably still is to some extent). It makes it easier to understand why someone would prefer one zodiacal Sun placement than another (especially when they do not understand astrology) as it can be used to gain or lose status in one’s own opinion or the opinion of peers.
    My Sun is 28 degrees 54 min into Gemini with the cusp of my 12th house at 29 degrees 43 min. with Cancer intercepted in the 12th. What you said about Gemini feeling restless or stale feels very true! And the analogy you used makes it palpable! Although progressions through Cancer were arduous, the best has been the progressions through Leo!
    In addition my Moon is 9 minutes into Aries. Many years ago, before knowing much about astrology, a very sweet acquaintance did a bit of an astrology reading for me. When I learned my Moon was in Aries, I was horrified! Seeing my expression he asked why that was so bad. Once he understood that my interpretation was that I was selfish (horrors and guilt!) he was able to put another spin on the lunar influence that enabled me to appreciate it’s gifts.


  6. .via Facebook 15.7.17:
    : from Jennifer Rhind re above comment from Rena:
    Fantastic reflection!


  7. Yes, agreed, Jennifer. Thanks so much for your affirming feedback for my approach, Rena – and for this astute and thoughtful comment.


  8. via Facebook 15.7.17:
    Mary Pat Lynch:
    With Sun and Moon both at 0 (Libra and Virgo), reading about ‘cusps’ confused me early on in astrology because it didn’t reflect how I felt. So, yes! no “cusps.”


  9. Glad to clear up your confusion, Mary Pat! There’s no problem about the existence of cusps – it’s just saying that people are born on them (usually in the context of the Sun Signs only) that’s the problem!


  10. Thanks, Anne, for writing on this issue. I tend to agree that even at the cusp we are distinctly one sign or the other. As a 29 degree Cancer Sun, I’ve always been quite certain that I was a Cancer, since I was eleven years old and first read in Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs book about the qualities of a Cancer Sun Sign. Yet, many people comment that I look like a Leo (or talk like one?)–perhaps because Mercury, the ruler of my Virgo Ascendant, is in Leo widely trine a Sag Moon (on the IC; I call it a bathysphere Moon). Curiously, at times I wish I actually was a Leo, (so nice to be able to shine forth in certainty instead of being submerged in the depths of my fluid watery nature) but I’ve never thought that I was, or that I am half and half. I can feel the distinction between having Mercury in Leo and my basic nature in Cancer. But maybe that longing to cross the threshold from the end of Cancer to Leo can be attributed to being born on the cusp? (Or else it’s just an admiration for fire from my own fire energy?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • What an interesting, thoughtful comment, Melody! I think the longing to cross the threshold ( despite your clear sense of being a Cancer Sun, albeit at 29 degrees) ties in well with the image I used in the post of being in one room, but the door being ajar to enable one to see that something potentially very interesting and attractive lies in the next room… And of course it does: fiery Mercury in Leo!


  11. Hi Anne, I enjoyed your article very much, especially your readers’ comments…interesting to read another 29 Cancer Sun’s point of view. For myself, I feel like I am both Cancer and Leo. But I think that it is more because Leo is rising rather than being born so close to its “cusp.” I have paid particular interest to my progressed sun over the years (which have been many), and this seems to be the primary principle in my actions as I go about navigating this thing called life.

    Keep up the good work, Anne. We learn much through sharing with each other.


    • Hi Rian thanks for dropping by again and giving this article the thumbs-up! Your question, after all, inspired me to write it in the first place…and also thanks for your interesting comment about the progressed Sun – this, in your case, would have shifted into Leo from your first year, and taken you right through to your Saturn Return. This, combined with Leo Rising, would have given your overall energy a strong Leonine ‘feel”. I’ve fallen in love with Secondary Progressions again since my return to work 5 years ago. So – look out for something on that topic before too long!


  12. What confuses me is that a lot of astrologers consider the 29th degree of any sign as being very strong expression of given sign. Critical degree. As in last burst of energy before it goes into another sign. My close friend is 29 degrees Virgo and in my experience he is very much a Virgo (his mercury is Virgo, but Venus in Libra so all things equal).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Frankie, thanks for bringing this issue up. I think that the very strong expression which is indeed mentioned by many astrologers, is well summed up in your statement …’As in last burst of energy before it goes into another sign…’ Precisely. Time is almost up, and the energy burst can be seen as a last-ditch attempt to pull things together before it’s time to move on to another landscape altogether.


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