Astrology Lessons, bad astrology, Cusps

Debunking the Cusp: Stelliums & Just How Important Is Your Sun Sign, Anyway?

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.

Astrology Lessons, bad astrology, Cusps, Uncategorized

When You Don’t Relate To Your Sun Sign: Are You Really “On The Cusp?”

Help! I don’t relate to my sun 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.