Yes. Venus is super weird, so I definitely want to talk about it later. But first let’s talk about the moon and Mars. So another way to explain everything that I was kind of mentioning in that mercury video is basically, there are not that many aspects that are possible between the Sun and Mercury in a given birth chart. You can basically have a conjunction or a very weak semi-sextile. So the backwards way to kind of figure out what other planets work like that is, is it possible for the sun to make an opposition with that planet. Two planets that we say follow the sun in astrology are Mercury and Venus. Mars is usually pretty close by, but when he does go retrograde, he ends up like way far away and it is in fact possible for Mars to make an opposition with the sun. So it’s possible to have the Sun or Mars in any sign. Even if it’s pretty rare to get like a far-away combination. The Moon, on the other hand, goes through all 12 zodiac signs every single month, so during a Full Moon, the Sun and Moon are farthest apart. Therefore they can be opposite each other. So you can have any possible moon sign and sun sign. Planets that are like past Mars are slow-moving and therefore there more generational or related to you know, your age so your birth year, rather than your sun sign is what matters.
You may know what your Mercury sign is, but do you know why? It’s only possible for Mercury to be in the same sign as the Sun, the one before, or the one after. Picture this inner circle as the one the sun seems to be making through the zodiac signs around Earth in one year. Then the outer circle is Mercury making the same moves through all the signs, but those little loop-de-loops are Mercury retrograde. When you calculate that out in an astrology chart, Mercury is never found more than 28 degrees away from the Sun, and because each sign takes up 30°, even if the Sun is at the furthest possible point of a single sign, Mercury can only be in an adjacent sign. If you superimpose it on the chart, it looks like this with Mercury retrograde backtracking ground that the sun already covered. Crunch that out and it looks like this. So you’ve got about a 50% chance of having Mercury in the same sign as the sun, 10 to 40% chance of the other two. Each sun sign has one cardinal, one mutable, one fixed Mercury choice. Fire suns can’t have air Mercuries, Earth suns can’t have water Mercuries.
The full moon in Scorpio on April 30th will sextile Saturn in Capricorn, which gives this lunation a pleasant, positive feeling of stability.
While full moons are known for heightening emotions, the connection with taskmaster Saturn brings us down to earth and grounds our emotional realizations in a commitment to changing the practical matter of our lives. Because these two are linking together in a friendly way, emotional situations that come up now will leave us feeling responsible to address them – but we’ll also be feeling empowered and capable, in ways we haven’t felt whenever we’ve previously approached these problems.
Here is a super, super simplified chart, just so you can get your bearings around what the main aspects look like. The sun is opposite the moon. The moon is making a friendly sextile of 60 degrees to Saturn. Saturn is making a friendly trine of 120 degrees to the Sun. Everybody else is doing other stuff, but it’s not super relevant to what we’re looking at, so it’s not visualized.
The abrupt illumination of a full moon plays nicely with Scorpio’s penchant for darkness and secrecy. If we haven’t been honest with ourselves about what’s not going well, or ways in which we could use the help of others, this full moon is urging us to reach out.
Jupiter has also been in Scorpio this year, so a lot of the subject matter that comes up for our attention this month is thematic around the whole year. Aside from major lunations like eclipses, full moons like these are the most useful for punctuating the “lessons learned” from longer-term transits.
Your horoscopes here touch mainly on the long-term journey that Saturn is making through Capricorn, and how that influences you with regards to developments you can expect from the full moon this month. Lunations can “come into effect” slightly early and hang around for quite some time, so if I’ve highlighted a “big event,” it may have just happened at the end of April or it could happen throughout May. Regardless, it will be “on your mind” around this time anyway.
This month, and throughout this year, two of the darkest, yet most powerful outer planet placements slid into a fluid relationship called a sextile. Their influence on each other has the potential to pull out the most frightening qualities of each – sheer intensity – but, because of their alliance and receptivity, their most empowering features will shine through.
Jupiter in Scorpio has already demanded strength, honesty, and vulnerability from the parts of us that are most dark, most secret, that cause us to feel the most shame. These parts are the same ones that cause us to lie and cover up parts of ourselves – but we are being asked to observe why. We lie and we hide and we cover up what we really are when we have been made to feel shame, when we have been taught to question ourselves, when we have been told we cannot give straight and clear vision to what really happened, when we have been told we do not know who we are or what we’re saying or doing.
Scorpio as a sign has a reputation for being dishonest. This is an unfair condemnation of the imaginative powers required by those who, restricted by circumstance, must creatively find ways to assert their right to privacy, to live in their power without commanding attention. Scorpio as a sign has a reputation for being negative. The person who gives voice to mundane evils hiding as white noise is often identified as the one who “started it.” When the cogs of functionality require compartmentalized illusions to keep everyone saying they’re feeling fine, that they’re okay with this, telling the truth is the same thing as disrupting the peace.
Something about this past full moon and this January 1st was intensely aligned and organized, which is calming. The beginning of our new year lined up with a strong lunation, on a Monday, a moon day, the beginning of the week. The lunation in question fell in Cancer, definitively aspecting some of the more personal planets, and softly dancing with some of the larger-scale transits that will shape the year to come.
It’s symbolically rich. Cancer is the sign of attachment, attachments that ask us to feel, and to sacrifice some of what we feel and hold them privately to preserve the attachment and work together. Throughout the first weeks of our new year, this energy – of renewal, in combination with recommitment – will call on us and ask us to enter our year with sureness and confidence in our desires and precise self-knowledge of our capabilities and hopes.
This month brings us the year’s blue moon, one of which doubles as a lunar eclipse. The lunar energy seems like it could get really zany, but we’re all saved by a decidedly more rare event: six planets in the sign of Capricorn all at once, mid-month, and zero retrograde planets.
The month began with the full moon stimulating a grand water trine with Mars in Scorpio and Neptune in Pisces. Since the moon opposed Venus, the tone setting is about our needs, and relinquishing obligations to tend to our more intimate and internal evolution.
Say it with me: astrology isn’t just your sun sign.
Many people are drawn to the illusory image of “the cusp” as the explanation for why they just Don’t Feel Like a Typical Zodiac Sign. But any astrology take worth its salt will point out that your sun sign isn’t the be-all end-all. While the luminaries (the Sun and Moon) and rising sign dominate in explaining the crux of someone’s personality, the other planets can pose specific challenges to those points. They can drown them out in number and intensity, or even negate and obfuscate their strengths.
Astrology already accounts for designated patterns of why someone would relate or not vibe with their sun sign. The most important of these is the position of the inner planets, which describe parts of our personality that are present, but less focused on discussing direct things like our ego and our emotions, pieces that are more personal or obvious to us.
Even more so, because of simple astronomy, we already know specifically why so many people feel aligned with a sign adjacent to their sun sign. Not just any other sign, but exactly the ones highlighted by The Cusp – the signs bookending their sun sign.
The inner planets’ relatively similar orbital rates and close positions mean that, unless recently interrupted by a retrograde, they often tend to clump up in the same few zodiac signs, and from Earth’s vantage point this is often pretty close to the location of the Sun. In natal charts, this means that it is very common for people to have a stellium (three or more placements) that falls in the sign adjacent to their sun sign.
Cusp babes, as said by the “general cusps,” tend to fall on days when the Sun has recently changed signs (clearly.) But there’s something else important about this. Usually, when the Sun has changed signs, the inner planets change signs, have already changed signs, or are about to change signs as well.
Basically, the planets and Earth are all moving around the Sun at different rates. The inner planets – Mercury, Venus and Mars – orbit the sun on rates that are even marginally similar to Earth’s and all of their distances are similarly much, much closer to the Sun than all those other guys. The gap between Mars and Jupiter alone could fit several more sets of Mercury, Venus, and Earth between them.
This means that within the scope of one Earth year, one revolution of the Earth around the Sun, the inner planets cover quite a bit of ground in the zodiac. Because the zodiac is a geocentric system of mapping the sky in relation to Earth, the ground they cover in the zodiac is quite similar to that of the Sun. The illusion of retrograde motion additionally makes them track closer to the Sun through the zodiac. The outer planets, being much further away and taking more time on the scale of an Earth year to cover the same ground in the zodiac, move at rates more like tens of Earth solar years. Jupiter itself, the next closest one, takes over a dozen Earth years to clear the entire zodiac wheel.
The result, in astrology? It is exceedingly common for people to have one or more inner planet in the sign next to their sun sign. Some people even have all three, which alone is a forceful stellium that can displace much of their visible characteristics and traits onto that sign. If you have three major planets in Libra, you’re going to feel a bit like a Libra to other people. You have very defined and wide-ranging traits that are absolutely informed and described by the energy of Libra, and that’s a totally legitimate interpretation of the chart.
It’s worth nothing that each year, based on outer planet movements and retrogrades, having a stellium in a particular sign is more or less common for given signs. That’s because outer planets can make up stelliums as well. For example, in a year when Jupiter is in Virgo and no inner planet retrogrades occurred within a few months’ radius, Virgos and possibly Leos or Libras might commonly see Virgo stelliums occur in their birth charts.
Another rarer example would be when two outer planets conjunct or pass in a sign, such as the Uranus/Neptune rendezvous in Capricorn around the early 90s. Many millennials born in the winter of affected years have supercharged Capricorn from the abundance of planets in that region of our zodiac at the time. It has a magnetic pull on the place of the chart where it falls, since two heavyweight planets are holding it down. For someone who already has a lot of activity in the sign, the stelliums get enormous – I have seen Sagittarians, Capricorns, and Aquarians from the time period with 5 planet stelliums in Capricorn. It affects each chart a different way, but it always has an effect. Something similar will happen with an upcoming conjunction of Pluto and Saturn just a few years from now – some Capricorns, some Aquarians, and some Pisces born in that span of time will be very, very Aquarian, and lots of children born in those years will have a similar magnet on the part of their chart that holds the degrees of Aquarius.
What does having a stellium mean, though?
When this does happen, and someone DOES have a stellium in an adjacent sign, made up of inners, outers, or some combination, they obviously approach the venues of those planets (and the regions of the affected houses) in ways ruled by that sign. This is the case for everyone, but the weight and proportion of traits ruled by one sign will change according to the number of planets. For people with significant or very affective personal stelliums, the line becomes blurry – how much of their personality is ruled by one sign, their Sun sign, or the other, their stellium?
Astrological interpretation is meant to suss out these differences and explain them fully. This is why you need someone who can actually read the chart, take stock of what’s there, and interpret it based on their knowledge – someone who can understand what it’s trying to tell you about yourself and your path, your roles and your opportunities. The chart, when read thoroughly, describes very clearly what traits belong where and how they can manifest. Like reading any planet, the traits of the sign and planet and house and any aspects or important movements it makes will affect what it has to stay. A stellium just adds a gravity to the energies in their corner, and can give someone an air or a flavor of a different sign.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone smugly state to me that astrology Cannot Be Real because “I’m an Aries and I’m shy,” or “I’m a Virgo and I am a mess,” or “I’m a Leo and I have stage fright and short hair,” or whatever. Listen, no single astrologer has ever said you must be x because your sun is y. And there’s so many ways that astrology already accounts for that.
However, a popular trend with some astrologers has been to…NOT explain or educate people on why they might have real and detailed aspects in their chart that express this, that very clearly show and describe why someone might feel distant from their sun sign or have traits of multiple signs. Instead, a school of thought has emerged where intermediate level astrologers draw a haphazard line around the dates of sign change in the zodiac and say… “welp, falling here makes you both of these signs, actually, because you’re on the cusp.”
Listen, I get it. Some signs get relentlessly dunked on, or get summarized so brusquely and cruelly. If all you see all the time when you first get into astrology is a constant barrage of “this person is a sensitive crybaby who never does anything cool” or “all of these people are manipulative cheaters and liars who are incapable of love,” it feels really bad. It hurts your self-esteem even though it’s stupid and you know it doesn’t really reflect on you. Ultimately, it turns you off of your sun sign. It makes you look for reasons not to be that, identify with that, or call yourself that. That is why those of born between like the 15th – 30th and 1- 10th of a given month (depending on your flavor of cusp-strologer) get so entranced upon finding the concept of The Cusp.
I am On The Cusp, as in a general cusp that someone attached to the dates of my sun sign. When I first heard of cusps, I was a wide-eyed kid who devoured astrological concepts…and who was incredibly disappointed by the “fussy schoolmarm” depiction of Virgos.
I really believed in the system of astrology and found it fascinating, but when it came to what it said about me, I was like, so offended that these people who didn’t know me were condemning me to a life of being boring and enjoying broccoli and folding socks. All the other signs got these fun, exciting associations, like parties, glamour, witchcraft, science, romance… I was miffed to be described solely with words like “critical” and “narrow-minded” and so on, and I stayed away from my own chart except to sigh dejectedly and curse the sky for not making me a Fun and Cool Leo, until one day, digging through some Google search or another, everything changed.
I stumbled upon some Geocities site with in-depth catalogues of this new thing called the Cusp Signs, and I was like, WOW. I am Not Like the Other Boring Virgos who are just whiny and fussy because actually, I am a Virlibra!! I am beautiful and desirable while still being enthralled and soothed by neatly organized things and the act of alphabetizing. This makes so much sense!!
Learning that I was a Cusp felt freeing, and it made me feel so, so special. I, unlike those one-dimensional, middle-of-the-month Virgos before me, was a complex being. I had more than two traits, and some of them were even cool. I was so proud, and whenever someone would wave me off and be like “Typical Virgo!” I would smugly reply, “Actually…” and inform them about ~The Cusp~, and feel proud of myself for knowing this secret and being able to describe what gave some people an astrological edge.
But that’s why it was such bad astrology. (Aside from the fact that jumping to correct people on my sign is like, peak baby Virgo and should have been proof enough for me that cusps are fake.)
When I had looked upon my sun sign as a failed and inadequate descriptor of me, Not Like The Other Virgos little me, I was dismissing the art of astrology and its complex network of concepts and reading techniques that vividly illustrate how each one of us is a multi-layered whole, a holistic being formed and described by a combination of life experience, background, generation, and so much more, a soul at a place in time shaped and shaping the context of people and place and time they’re part of.
My chart, in actuality, had never condemned me to a life of high neck frocks and furrowed brows and maternal tsking at people for folding book corners or whatever it is schlocky sun sign descriptions of Virgo say we do. My chart already had a lot of beautiful connections, placements, and detail that explained, with accurate and ancient measures, why I am a type B, self-expression oriented, emotional, social Virgo – and still very much a Virgo, who experiences more butterflies from opening a new package of really nice pens than getting a text back from someone I have a crush on.
When I learned how to read those points and orient myself in the complex and illustrative mess that is any natal chart, I began to see and appreciate the qualities that I desired that were already in me, because I could clearly identify where they were, and they were so much more descriptive and real when placed in their proper context. Even better, I allowed myself to acknowledge the wonderful things about my sun sign that I tried to cast away by embracing “being a cusp.” When I saw myself more objectively, through learning to read the objectively pointed out places in my chart that show my habits and my potential, I genuinely did like myself more, even the parts of me that I thought of badly or was disappointed in before.
I want you to have a better experience with astrology too, and I want you to have it with things you can find yourself. So it’s time for us to debunk The Cusp.
Cusps are fake.
Cusps are fake cause they don’t use the coherent principles that astrology was built on to inform their interpretation. They’re loose, vague, and just not the most specific or accurate way of talking about why someone doesn’t feel or express certain traits. They simplify sun signs and collapse all the other placements that add nuance, depth, and clarity to any reading, waving them off in favor of simplicity.
People latch onto it because it is the easiest and simplest to understand answer to “not feeling your sun sign,” and it makes a lot of intuitive sense. The thing is, astrology requires precision and logic in addition to intuition. That is what makes it more rigorous and precise than other forms of spiritual work – things have their place, their definitions, and their effects. Sometimes, a feeling is enough to go on. But astrology has added benefits because it has easily-mapped systems.
That being said, the experience of feeling like a cusp is totally real. It just usually isn’t caused by “being a cusp.” We’re going to talk about the real reasons that someone might not identify with their sun sign and why they might “feel” like a cusp.