Astrology Cusps - More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Them Have you ever taken the time to explore a single word? If I am lacking in knowledge on a subject at times I will Google that subject and then follow several of the listings to gain a general grasp. This can be frustrating or fun depending on the choice of subject. For example, this morning I Googled the word "cusp," a common word in my field of astrology. I did not look at astrological sites because after 35+ years of studying astrology I pretty much know that general information. I wondered what I might find on cusps if I reached outside my own field of astrology. Occasionally an explanation for one application can turn on the lights for another application. Surprisingly, cusps come in several forms, according to the dictionary and encyclopedia. If you try my method of study, be prepared to spend a little time because some explanations take longer than others. I found... · Beach cusps which relate to a beach shoreline and were described as a pointed and regular arc pattern of that shoreline · In geometry and astrophysics, a cusp is a singular point of a curve (something like a shoreline?) · Cusps in psychology are called behavioral cusps. This cusp apparently marks an important change in behavior that has far reaching consequence or in my words is pivotal to a change in specific behavior · A dentistry cusp may be found on three types of teeth, a molar, a premolar or a cuspid (there is our base word) · Astrological house or sign cusps that I will explain below. I saw cusp paired with other words such as a · cusp catastrophe (a geometrical pattern where stability is lost), · cusp form (modular form theory i.e., a cusp form is a modular form that vanishes at a cusp) · cuspidal representation (automorphic representation) and I have no clue what that is other than the definition mentions algebraic groups. The rest of the description went right over my head. From this I got a picture in my mind that a cusp is a defined arc (curved line) with a specific point that can be pivotal and that the point may be or become unstable and could at some point disappear. Astrologically cusp is a common word that is used for both signs and houses. A sign cusp is that point where the end of a sign gives way to the beginning of the next sign. A house cusp is the degree, sign and minute of the dividing line between houses at a specific earthly longitude and latitude. Let us take a moment to back up and understand some basics before we attempt to move forward. Signs: Think about the space outside our world where the zodiac seems to reside. Notice I said "seems to." Earth's path and the path of most of the other planets around the Sun is called the ecliptic or the path on which eclipses occur. This ecliptic passes through twelve of the 60 or so constellations, depending on which constellation reference systems used. This specific collection of 12 signs is called the zodiac (circle of animals) that range on either side of the ecliptic, which again is the centerline of the zodiacal constellations. The constellations in general and the zodiac in particular are not located at a specific distance from Earth or anywhere else. The zodiac constellations are just somewhere out there outside the ecliptic and extend out into space an indeterminate distance. The stars that make up each constellation are light years apart within each grouping so each constellation is huge in terms of the space it occupies. Additionally, there are no fences in space to create a clear demarcation (of space) dedicated to a sign, they just run into one another at a somewhat obscure meeting point. The constellations are of irregular length (longitude) but the corresponding signs are thought to have an average of 30 degrees each (who made up these conflicting rules?). I doubt if it could get much "spacier" than this but I can tell you from personal experience that the 12 sign zodiacal system does work. So, each of the zodiac signs is 30 degrees long and just runs into the sign on either end because there are no fences or physical transition points in space that I know of. We number the celestial longitude distance in the sign 0 to 29, with 30 degrees becoming 0 of the next sign. But there is no physical division in space. Enter the word cusp. The transition between one sign and another is referred to as the cusp. The explanation for sign cusp is not complicated. A sign cusp is the transition point between one sign and its neighbor. Technically the accepted transition occurs between 29 degrees and 59 minutes of any sign and 00 degrees and 00 minutes of the following and adjacent sign. This is true of either end of a sign, the beginning or the end. 00:00 is the beginning and 29:59 is the end of any sign. It is the planets that are read as being in a sign, which is a simple explanation for the appearance of a planet (which is closer to us) as it passes in front of the zodiac constellations. The zodiac is located in outer space beyond our solar system, therefore the planet is seen with the sign as a backdrop. How do you know which planets are cuspal? Astrologers usually allow three degrees at the end of the sign and the beginning of the next sign. That would equate to 26 degrees and 59 minutes to 29:59 for the end of a sign and 00 degrees to 3 degrees (no minutes) for the beginning of a sign. Astrologers would simply say plus or minus three degrees to the change of any sign. How do astrologers read this? There is a blending of energies that occurs at a change of sign, a blurring where the signs are not as distinct. One influence is waning, one is emerging, both are involved but in a blended way. The strength of one diminishes as the influence of the other sign becomes stronger. This is a gradual process over six degrees of space. I have a friend who was born with the Sun at 29 Aries 55, almost into Taurus, plus she has four planets in Taurus. Day to day you see a very strong Taurus influence but do not ever forget she is an Aries. She is fully capable of acting as an Aries whenever she finds it necessary. Her Aries has not vanished it just is sublimated to some degree, buried under all that Taurus. Aries can still appear whenever it chooses. Astrologically she is an Aries with very strong Taurus overtones, or cuspal. From the non-astrological dictionary or encyclopedic definitions I described earlier, I would choose the concepts of shoreline (the boundary between land and sea), a specific point in a curve, a pivotal change of behavior. stability may be lost, and a vanishing point is possible. I then can, if I choose, reformulate the way I think about a cusp, any cusp in any application. By sign cuspal refers to a boundary of some sort but is not clearly one sign or the other so there is an element of instability. By the gradual cessation of one influence and the gradual progression of the coming influence there is a vanishing point to the earlier sign but it seems to be located about three degrees into the succeeding sign. That illustrates the nature of the blending of signs that occurs at the cusps. The curve reminds me of our circular patterns and the curve of space marked at a specific point in that curve, pivotal in terms of influence, application or behavior. This illustrates how we can always add to our store of information on the cusp using science or everyday facts. Houses are 12 divisions of the physical Earth relative to the longitude and latitude of birth at a specific moment in a day. Again there are no actual fences. Nowhere on this physical globe are there physical fences that act as dividers for the house systems. There are almost 8 billion people alive on this globe and we would need to employ 12 fences each. We would get nowhere, ever, if we had to encounter physical fences of that number and variety. So the cusp is a metaphor for a dividing line. My favorite description of a house is an arena of physical experience. For example, house one is your body, house two is your moveable possessions, house four is your family, etc. Due to the curvature of the Earth and the interaction between the Earth and the zodiac various house systems have differing amounts of space allotted to each individual house. A cusp is a handy dandy reference tool for knowing where the influence of one house ends and another begins, where one arena of physical experience gives way to another arena of physical experience. Generally five degrees is the orb (influence) allowed for house cusps. If a house cusp is at 10 degrees, you would then watch for a planet between 5 and 15 degrees as having the potential of expressing in either of the two houses adjoining the cusp. It is important to know that transiting planets occupy any house for around two hours every day, more or less as you head away from the equator to your latitude line. As most astrologers know, high latitudes can produce multiple intercepted signs but that is a subject for another day. The average planet occupancy of a house is approximately 2 hours. As a planet moves out of a house in which it has spent a couple of hours, it carries with it a heavy influence of those house issues and may take a little time to grow out of that influence, about 5 degrees. This is equal to about 20 minutes on a birth clock. As it enters the new house, it retains the influence of the previous house and gradually that influence lessens until it disappears altogether and the new house influence becomes not only dominant but also exclusive. I may lose a few of you at this point, but I don't want to leave this out so bare with me. This small section is the only really technical part, I promise. · The signs travel counter-clockwise around the wheel. · The planets travel clockwise as the house cusp (signs) advance. · The cusps move counter-clockwise faster than the planets can move clockwise. · Each planet travels through every house every day, average 2 hours per house. · The existing influence that is passing out of influence as time progresses (past to present) is the later (higher numbered house) of the two houses in question. · The incoming influence (now to future) is actually that of the lower numbered house. · The planet is actually occupying the houses sequentially but in reverse order. · Go over that several times and look at a wheel to fully understand what I just said. For a visual reference, move your fingers to simulate the planet and cusp motion. An example might help. My Mars is in my 4th house on my 5th cusp. Because the cusps move faster than the planets, prior to that birth moment Mars was in the 5th and has just moved into the 4th by sign on the cusp movement. The 5th house has had 2 hours of influence to and from that Mars but that is now giving way to the developing 4th house influence. To do this cleanly takes about 5 degrees of cuspal motion or 20 minutes on the clock. Can you see this would not be a simple reading? It could be important to know that both houses are influencing that planet. Mars is in the 4th legitimately but is residually influenced by issues from the 5th house. This cuspal condition could affect any reading of my or anyone's wheel. As a participant in this experience I can clearly see how both my houses are affected by this placement. Go back to the paragraph about the non-astrological definitions of cusp. The descriptions I used were: shoreline (the boundary between land and sea), a specific point in a curve, a pivotal change of behavior. the point where stability may be lost, and vanishing point. What applied to a sign cusp can also apply to a house cusp just because they are both cusps. There are different application but the concept remains the same. The house cusp illustrates the shoreline between two arenas of physical experience. At a specific point in the curve that is simultaneously outer space and physical experience (arena) there can be a pivotal change in behavior or influence. Because of the dual influence at this point in the curve, instability may be a factor. But there will be a vanishing point of the old influence and a pivotal shift to the incoming influence. It is important to know where you have come from to get to your now. It is probably more important to you to know where you are going in your future. Look at your own wheel to see if you have planets close to a house cusp. Do you see the planetary influence for one house or two? Which house is past to present and which house is present to future? Use this information to expand your reading of planets in a house(s). The reason I wrote this article was to show that you could take non-astrological information to help you understand a concept with the end result of expanding your understanding and your reading capability. Astronomers measure and astrologers interpret. That is a good explanation for how the two practices can compliment and expand each other. Science is continually developing new sources of information and new understanding. Update yourself often and develop analogies between the measure and the interpretation. Experiment, observe, and research any theories you might develop. Do not be afraid to use your knowledge from all sources to help you develop your understanding of an astrology wheel.

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