The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 82, titled:
With Chris Brennan and Austin Coppock
Episode originally released on October 29, 2018
Note: This is a transcript of an audio podcast. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio version, which includes inflections that may not translate well when written out. Transcripts are created by using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and the text probably contains some errors and differences from the audio version. Please submit any corrections to Chris Brennan by email at email@example.com.
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released July 09, 2021
Copyright © 2016 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
Chris Brennan: Hi. My name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode is recorded on Saturday, October 27th, 2018, starting at 4:04 PM in Denver, Colorado. And this is the 177th episode of the show. For more information about how to subscribe to the podcast and help support the production of future episodes by becoming a patron, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. In this episode, I’m going to be talking with Austin Coppock about the concept of zodiac sign cusps, whether they’re real and what happens when you’re born on a cusp. Hey Austin, thanks for joining me for this.
Austin Coppock: Hey Chris.
CB: Hey, yeah, this is a good topic. This is a topic I’ve been meaning to do for a while, so I’m actually glad to have you. I thought you would be the perfect person for this because of your approach that’s similar to mine in terms of having a strong background both in modern astrology and ancient astrology. I thought we could try to approach this question both from a modern and a traditional standpoint.
AC: Yeah. I was confused at first when you proposed this because I thought you were talking about house cusps. [laughs] Then when I understood what your idea was, I was like, “Oh, that’s actually great because there’s such a wealth of traditional ideas about cusps and exactly what they mean and don’t mean.” It’s one of those few things that’s talked about all over the place in a Sun sign context that we can actually bring a lot of the literature to bear on, as well as our own experience and practice.
CB: Yeah, and so that’s a good point, that we’re not talking about house cusps. This isn’t an episode on house division or anything related to that. We’re talking about zodiac sign cusps and the concept of being “born on a cusp” and what that means and some of the issues surrounding that that have sort of come up in pop astrology over the past few years. So, I didn’t realize that this was like a thing or that this was a topic. I started seeing it come up maybe a year and a half, maybe two years ago where what I was seeing is I was seeing more professional astrologers and sometimes intermediate or advanced astrologers responding to a trend that they were seeing in pop astrology where this new sort of concept emerged surrounding zodiac sign cusps. Initially, I didn’t understand why people were pushing back on it so strongly as they were and what I was hearing is people were rejecting the idea that there’s such thing as a cusp or they were saying the cusps aren’t real or other things like that. And at first I didn’t really understand what they were trying to say or why they were doing that, and what I realized later is that a new sort of concept or that some sort of hybrid concept had emerged from pop astrology as a result of some of the ambiguity surrounding Sun sign dates. So maybe let’s start this from the top. So one of the things that sometimes people don’t realize is that Sun sign astrology only became popular really over the course of the past century, especially from the mid to late 20th century, Sun sign astrology became a popular thing in pop culture. Everybody knows their Sun sign, which is the sign of the zodiac that the Sun was in on the day that they were born. But there’s an issue with this concept because the dates very near the start and end point vary based on the calendar because the calendar is not exactly aligned with the astronomy. So there’s some ambiguity when your Sun sign date is listed where sometimes it’ll list like a range of dates or the dates will change from one list to another or something like that basically, right?
AC: Yeah. I mean, and you can see that in most newspaper or newspaper columns. It’ll be like Aries March 21st through 23rd to April whatever because the Gregorian calendar is not an exact astronomical measure of where the planets are in the 360-degree circle. And we’ve got our leap years, the days of the year aren’t even and so, yeah. So, it moves around a day or so.
CB: Right. So for example, we’re in Scorpio right now, which is the Sun just went into Scorpio a few days ago. What are the dates traditionally given for Scorpio? Do you know off the top of your head? I mean, like on Planet Watcher, for example, this year we have it listed as October 23rd through November 22nd. So, that’s the time when the Sun will be moving through the sign of the zodiac known as Scorpio. And if somebody was born during that timeframe, then the Sun would be in that sign of the zodiac so their “sign or their Sun sign” would be Scorpio. I mean, that’s an easy way to put it, generally speaking.
AC: So, most of the time there’s a little wiggle room because there has to be 22nd, 23rd depending on the year is implied. So someone who’s born on the 23rd sees that and they’re like, “Oh, which one am I? Oh, I’m a cusp creature.” And you were saying that there’s actually been not just as an idea, but that people have started putting out delineations for like, “Oh, well, you’re on the cusp, you have these qualities which are distinct from a Libra or a Sun in Libra or a Sun in Scorpio.”
CB: Yeah, and that’s really the issue we’re going to talk about primarily today is that because these dates that are given are approximate, so part of the issue is that in pop astrology that’s all you know, is you just have those lists of dates, let’s say, from October 23rd to November 22nd. But then the question becomes, well, if I was born on November 22nd, does that mean I’m a Scorpio or I’m a Sagittarius? And the answer in advanced astrology is that you have to determine your exact birth time. You calculate your full birth chart on a website like astro.com and then you know that the Sun is either actually going to be placed at the very end of Scorpio or the very beginning of Sagittarius, let’s say for example, if you know your exact birth time. So advanced astrology is a little bit more precise.
AC: Right. Well, and I think you’re talking about some people doing serious professional astrology. But no, cusps don’t exist, the Sun is either in one sign or another. We can measure it down to a millionth of a degree, it’s on one side of the line or other. So, that’s where that response is coming from because the Sun at any planet’s position will be on one side of the cusp or the other.
CB: Right. So advanced astrologers know that and so they’re responding to the pop astrology which is necessarily approximate. But the problem that’s happening is coming from this ambiguity in the pop astrology surrounding the dates, there’s been this what seems like a relatively new development where instead of saying that you’re one or the other and there’s some ambiguity surrounding that, it’s sort of shifted it seems like over the past maybe few years or maybe it’s been the past few decades, I don’t know how long this has been going on for, but it’s become, I think, more prominent certainly over the course of the past few years where now there’s some websites and there’s some pop astrology sites that say it’s not that you’re one of the other but that it’s both or that you will feel the qualities of both and that somehow there’s overlap between the signs of the zodiac or that the meanings of the signs around the beginning or ends actually merge so that you get merged sort of hybrid delineations. So for example, astrology.com has an article titled Zodiac Cusp Signs that gives delineations for if you’re an Aries/Taurus cusp, if you’re a Taurus/Gemini cusp, if you’re a Gemini/Cancer cusp and so on and so forth. So treating it almost like a whole separate thing.
AC: Right. Are you a [ScorpTaur] or are you twin crabs or a pair of fish tailed rams? So the answer is that if you’re born on a cusp, you’re a monstrous hybrid. No, kidding.
CB: Right. [Piquarius] was actually a very early, early episode of The Astrology Podcast, was one that Patrick came up with but that was actually related to the constellations and the fact there’s some overlap there.
AC: Yeah. It would be one fish pouring the other fish out of its aquarium.
CB: Right. Anyway, yeah. [Austin laughs] So that’s the issue though, so now for most professional astrologers, that’s a new development, the idea that there would be–
AC: Oh, actually, sorry, I want to jump in. I remember, and I don’t remember the book, but I remember being like 20 years old and seeing one of the many big book on astrology, they’re meant as coffee table books. I remember looking, I knew my rising, and I remember there was a special delineation for the cusps there, and it said that the Cancer/Leo cusp was the cusp of power. I was like, “Okay, awesome.” At least it’s better than the cusp of crushing defeat, right? [laughs]
CB: Right. Yeah. Well, that’s an interesting point then. I mean, we didn’t research that thoroughly in terms of the modern developments. So that might be an interesting research project or paper for somebody to do at some point in terms of when did some of this start happening and how far back does it go versus how recent is it. But from our vantage point, it does seem like this treating it that there’s a full merging of the signs at the cusps does seem like a relatively recent phenomenon on some level.
AC: Well, it’s gotta be. At its most possibly ancient, it would be 20th Century.
CB: Right, just because Sun sign astrology itself only goes back to the 1940s or something.
AC: Yeah. I don’t think Sepharial was writing almanacs with, [laughs] was it [Piquarius] interpretations? Or I don’t think Lily was doing a whole lot of that. So I think, again, at its eldest 20th Century. It’s a product of Sun sign astrology.
CB: Sure, and it seems to come out of confusion largely surrounding those dates for the zodiac sign things and for people not having moved to the next step in advanced astrology yet, which is actually casting their birth chart for their specific birth time which will tell you that your Sun is either in one sign or the other. But despite that, part of the compounding issue or the issue that really compounds this is that some people that are born close to a cusp, let’s say, where their Sun sign is close to a cusp, really do sometimes report feeling like both signs. So part of the issue here that’s reinforcing this is there’s some people that when they read those delineations where they read that there might be something to cusps where it might be both, some people actually do really resonate with that or identify with the traits of both signs. The question then becomes, why is that or what is the answer to why that’s happening? The most obvious answer that I think all astrologers immediately jump to and anybody I’ve talked to immediately goes to this answer, is that if you’re born with the Sun in one zodiac sign, there’s a pretty good chance that Venus and Mercury could be in the adjacent signs since Venus and Mercury are two personal planets that never get more than one sign away from the Sun. And so oftentimes–
AC: Venus can get two.
CB: Yeah, it can get two signs. Sorry, you’re right, I misspoke. So Venus can get two signs and Mercury can get only one sign away from the Sun.
AC: But yeah, they’re always close so the chances are very high.
CB: Right. So you will very frequently get cases where somebody has their Sun in Leo, but they have their Mercury and Venus in Virgo or they have their Sun in Sagittarius, but their Venus and Mercury in Scorpio or something like that.
AC: Yeah, all the time. And that’s not even counting the other planets. It’s just that Mercury and Venus are really likely to be there, but Jupiter and Saturn or Mars could be there or Pluto or whatever. So the chances of there being something in that next or previous sign is quite great.
CB: Right. So, that becomes really relevant because then that could be then or for most astrologers, that’s usually the explanation that they will immediately jump to or look to when they cast the actual chart. And you’ll often see when somebody says that they actually really strongly feel like one sign even though their Sun sign is something else, it’s often because there’s other factors in the chart that are really drawing things in that direction. So most astrologers, I think that’s their initial attempt to answer and rationalize why somebody might feel like a cusp delineation that’s blending both of them is accurate, it’s because of other chart placements or because in a person’s actual birth chart, you’re not just your Sun sign, you actually have multiple planetary placements in different signs of the zodiac.
AC: Yeah. Now that I’m thinking about it, with Mercury, if you’re within the first or last degree of a sign, you’re fully 50% likely to have Mercury in either the next or previous sign. Because it doesn’t even get 30 away. And if you’re at the cusp, then 50% in the next sign if you’re at the end, and then 50% in the sign before if you’re at the beginning. So, yeah. I didn’t even calculate until this moment. Even Mercury is a 50% chance if you’re on a cusp.
CB: Right, so that’s huge, and maybe we should explain why that is. I mean, if the Sun, even in just, let’s say, purely modern astrology often is associated with the ego and other things like that, Mercury is often associated with the intellectual facilities or at least the facility of communication and the way that the person speaks and communicates what’s inside of them in some way, right?
AC: Yeah, and I would add to that that Mercury is not only the external deliverer of speech, it also has a lot to say about how a person thinks about their experience. The Sun is a more unfiltered unstructured light, whereas Mercury is encoding it. And if let’s say you have the Sun in the last degree of Pisces but you have Mercury in Aries, so you’re literally encoding everything and speaking about it in an Ariesy way and you don’t have the perspective of a whole chart, then absolutely you’re going to think that you’re a fish ram. [laughs]
CB: Yeah. Because you’re literally are like a blend of like your psyche or whatever it is about you that is representative of who you are in this life does end up having a blend of different… No, no, let’s not say a blend, it’s different elements of those signs end up blending together on some level to create the different components of your personality.
AC: Yeah, absolutely. There might be like the core of self, but if you’re always thinking and talking like this other thing and you think that you need to define yourself in terms of one symbol, then you’re going to have to include that.
CB: Right, and that’s really, even just like externally, that can be even more notable. For example, especially with certain combinations, if somebody has their Sun in Scorpio but their Mercury’s in Sagittarius, that person communicates and sometimes thinks in a way that’s much differently externally so that they might not come off like a Scorpio initially, because the way that they’re actually communicating with you is so much more like Sagittarian.
AC: Right. You’re not going to get that sort of sneaky brooding stereotype quality associated with Scorpio with a Sagittarius Mercury. Sag Mercury is much more like a bull horn.
CB: Yeah, exactly. So that’s really the crux of the issue, this is something that’s often clarified for the vast majority, I think, of people just by knowing more than their Sun sign or knowing more about astrology than just Sun signs and realizing that there’s other components and there’s other factors going on. But the broader question, the broader discussion I wanted to have with you once we establish that baseline is, is that all it is or is there more? For example, is there any traditional or practical validation of the idea of sign cusps or what do we do with sign cusps? Does sign cusps have any meaning or any relevance that we should still talk about once we’ve cleared away the basic answer to that question? Is there any sort of more nuanced discussion that we need to have beyond just saying, just rejecting the idea that signed cusps are a thing? Because that’s the concern I have is that the pushback is almost going too far where it’s saying there’s absolutely no symbolic significance to sign cusps, and that’s not quite true either from a modern practical standpoint or even traditionally. If you go back and look at the astrological tradition, there are some striking ways that the beginning and end of signs are often interpreted in different astrological traditions.
AC: Yeah, they’re significant boundaries. And when you come up close to a boundary or you’ve just crossed it, that’s a special position relative to just being in the middle of an area. The difference between just being in a country, I’m in the United States, but if I just crossed in from Canada or Mexico, I’m going to have a very particular experience of the United States, right? Or if let’s say I’m taking a trip to Vancouver, and I’m literally waiting in line to get across the border, that’s different. The framing is very different. And what we found, with just a little bit of research, is that astrologers from a number of different points in history and on the map agree entirely. They don’t necessarily all agree with each other, but there are a lot of special conditions that are framed around those sign boundaries.
CB: Right. I love that analogy that you just gave, that’s such a great analogy for this issue. To me, the idea of it being the border between two countries, because on the one hand, it’s like that border is clear and you are in one country or you’re in another and that’s pretty straight forward and there’s no overlap there in practical terms. But there’s also the phenomenon of border towns where there’s cultural rubbing off in these sort of border towns where you can clearly see the influence of the adjacent country. I’m thinking of, especially the Texas-Mexico border and sometimes even minor things like culinary influences, the idea of Tex-Mex like food, for example, as being a weird, not weird, but a hybrid food.
AC: Yeah. It’s cusp food.
AC: No, that’s really good. As I was saying earlier, my sort of go-to answer when this would come up when I was teaching the zodiac, would be the country analogy. I’d be like, “Okay, so if you’re at the very end of a sign, you live right next to the border, you see people from over the border all the time, you’re familiar with them, but you’re still subject to the laws of the country that you live in.”
CB: You know, that’s an important one maybe to start with. When I was talking to Leisa about this, Leisa Schaim, about this recently, I mean, she pointed out one of the differences that is very stark that’s worth starting on is just that in one sign of the zodiac, the entire sign will be ruled by one planet. Whereas when you move to the next sign of the zodiac, that entire sign will be ruled by a completely different planet. So, in that way, there is a stark difference between one sign of the zodiac and another both in a qualitative sense as well as in a practical sense in terms of how astrologers work with the signs, the zodiac and birth charts or other types of astrological charts.
AC: Yeah. We’re going to say what’s that planet’s ruler in any basic thorough chart analysis. When we’re interpreting any planet, be like, “Okay, who rules this planet? Where’s its place? What’s its position and condition?” And so the answer to that changes at that zero degree mark. So that’s part of what I was trying to communicate in a non-technical way by saying, what law are you subject to? If you’re 29, 49 Pisces, you’re still subject to the law of Jupiter. If you’re 01 Aries, even though you can reach out and touch Pisces with your hand, you’re now in Mars’s domain.
CB: Yeah, and that’s a huge shift. I mean, that’s a good one Pisces versus Aries where you go from being ruled by Jupiter in a water sign to suddenly Mars in a fire sign. That’s a huge shift qualitatively.
AC: Yeah, and so what I think both of us found at different points and different places in the tradition is that a lot of astrologers using different and similar frameworks have ways… There’s an agreement that that’s a confusing place. Like there are borders that are walled, just to stick with this. But there are also places in the border, let’s say between Canada and the US, where you could just be wandering through the woods and suddenly you’re in Canada, and you don’t necessarily know that. If you proceed far enough into the sign of Canada, you will certainly realize that [laughs] you are subject to a different ruler. But if you’re a third of a degree in, you may not have talked to anybody, nobody may have told you you’re in Canada yet. And likewise, if you’re just crossing through the woods you might think you’re already in Canada, but actually it’s going to be about 20 minutes until you hit the official border, and there’s a confusion there about what rules apply. I know I’m excited to talk about the 30 different texts that talk about this in different ways, but there’s a general agreement that it is specific space. Even though the rules apply, the native themselves may not be aware of them and may have a hard time acting in accordance with them, etc etc.
CB: Yeah. I like that idea that there’s some borders that are more porous than others. Yeah, so that’s worth talking about. So the other thing is, so once we’ve established that there’s that really stark distinction between the overall ruler of one sign versus the overall ruler over another, this episode, I guess, is actually really well-placed because it’s coming right in between part one and two of our zodiac series, where we’re going through and we’re talking about the qualities of each of the signs and the significations or meanings and how we’ve really focused on how the core meanings of each sign is based on, especially those four basic properties of the gender of the sign, the quadruplicity or modality, the triplicity or element, and then finally the planetary ruler. And those are things that are unique to each sign and that change drastically from one sign to another. But that being said, once we establish that and how there are stark differences between the signs, and I even I think talked about how some signs act in a way that’s like so radically different from the sign that came before it that it was almost acting as like a corrective measure to some of the excesses of the previous sign. For example, moving from Leo to Virgo, you see it going from this very sort of extravagant sign that sometimes can be associated with egotism or things like that to almost like the exact opposite end of the spectrum where Virgo is one of the more humble signs and egotism is often like subverted for practicality or for being helpful to other people in some way.
AC: Yeah, absolutely. Well, as we talked about the polarity or gender of the signs flips every time you proceed. You never have yang or active twice in a row, you never have yin or receptive or supportive twice in a row, there’s a constant flip between yin and yang, masculine and feminine, positive and negative, day and night which keeps the balance. And as you said, can serve as a corrective to the excesses of the one before.
CB: Sure. So that being said and those stark differences being established once we’ve done that, that being said, let’s look into some of the different ways. Because when we started talking about this and kind of looking into some different texts, we did find some exceptions where there have been some traditional discussions, especially about gradations within the individual zodiacal signs and there being different phases or different parts of the sign that have different meanings so that there may be a difference between, let’s say, if you’re born in the middle of the sign versus if you’re born at the beginning of the sign or you’re born at the end of the sign. That actually I think is not irrelevant, that’s actually very relevant to this issue and needs to be included in part of the discussion. And that’s what makes me nervous about pushing too much back against this idea of a hybrid sign cusp that sometimes it might be going too far in not acknowledging some of the important traditional variations within the signs that actually might relate to or might actually be contributing to this issue on some level.
AC: Right, because if we just invalidate, again, the whole [ScorpTaur] thing is not a correct or useful way of looking at it. But like you said, with the pushback, we miss the difference between the beginning, middle and end of a sign if we just say, “No, it doesn’t matter at all.” And saying that, “No, there are no [ScorpTaurs],” I’m willing to say there are no [ScorpTaurs], but I won’t say that 29 degrees Aries is exactly the same as zero degrees Aries, right? There’s this nuance around beginnings, middles and ends. Which I mean, for God’s sake, it’s astrology, we’re studying time and sequence. Of course, there’s a difference between the beginning, middle and end.
CB: Right, right, exactly. And so, let’s get into that discussion at this point in terms of partially a textual discussion. Well, before we even get to the textural discussion, there’s one miscellaneous one I was just thinking of this morning that came to me, which is, let’s say somebody’s born with the Sun at 29, 50 degrees of Aries. So they’re born, let’s say we have their exact time birth. It’s off a birth certificate, we know that they’re born at 12:56 PM exactly, and their Sun was at 29, 56 Aries. So one of the things that’s kind of interesting to think about is that by timing, by secondary progressions, if you do that person’s secondary progressions, very shortly after that person is born, their Sun will actually move by secondary progression into the sign of Taurus. And therefore most of the first few decades of their life, like the first 30 years basically, then we’ll be having them experience secondary progressed Sun moving through Taurus rather than, and even though their Sun was originally in the sign of Aries when they were born. So the Sun sign position of the Sun at Aries is still dominant and is still relevant in terms of characterizing the person’s overall birth chart. There might still be a question about how you use secondary progressions and to what extent things like secondary progressed Sun actually do influence the character, the personality to an extent, but it’s actually interesting or worth thinking about how a person born with the Sun very close to a sign cusp, even though they’re born in one sign, experiencing the whole developmental phase of their life in another sign could have some sort of impact on them in some way.
AC: Yeah. Well, and conversely, if you’re born at 10 minutes into Aries, then you would spend maximum amount of time with both your natal and progressed Sun in the same sign. I was born with a Sun at 15, basically. So first 15 years Pisces, next 15 Aries or next 30 Aries, whereas the most you could possibly have for an overlap between those two would be 30, and if you were born at 10 minutes into Aries, then you would have max. Whereas what you’re saying, if you’re born at the end, then you have minimum, both of which are the extremes of minimal and maximum overlap between progression and natal.
CB: Right. I mean, because that’s kind of an interesting thing that’s a little bit under explored in astrology, which is to what extent is what we experience is our birth charts and the characters of the signs of the zodiac, especially in the way that that manifests in character traits in some instances, especially if it’s connected with personal planets or the Ascendant or the ruler of the Ascendant or something like that, therefore manifesting in the person’s character and identity. How much of what we experienced through that is just due to having the natal placement in that sign versus how much of that is influenced by those placements getting activated in some ways by later timing techniques where you have transits that come up and hit those natal positions or where those natal positions were in the birth chart, where you have secondary progressions that keep moving and then activate certain positions relative to the natal chart or what have you. There’s this interesting question about the role of transits in influencing the natal placements and really being in some instances the triggers of the causes of later experiences and later events that occur in our life that then bring out some of those character traits that otherwise might just be dormant within us but not necessarily fully awakened or fully activated.
AC: Yeah, yeah. Well, and that’s a crucial issue. One of the ways of thinking about that I like that is more common in Vedic astrology or Jyotish is they talk about that’s when you get the fruits of those positions, whether it’s bitter fruit or sweet fruit. The implication is the tree was there the whole time, but then you taste the fruit of that position when it’s activated, for example, by time-lord. That’s where you see the result rather than just… Sure, that’s in you, potentially invisible, but then there’s a period where it’s enacted by people, by yourself, etc etc. I mean, one of the pieces of the art of astrology is to figure out, is to sort of juxtapose the modern psychological where all the planets are in you and operating all the time, which is true on a certain level. But then to figure out when those planets are going to describe life conditions very exactly, where that Saturn is going to be like that’s your year with an annual profection. It’s like, oh yeah, there’s a fear of this and a fear of that, and then that year you live that out.
CB: Right, like the year that your house burned down or that you won the lottery or some objective concrete circumstance that was not as a result of a psychological thing.
AC: Right. It wasn’t just a predisposition. Because in my experience, astrology operates on both those levels but you have to be careful not to conflate those levels. People have some really, some great success things in their chart, but you read for a 24-year-old and you look at their time-lords and you’re like, “Oh, yeah.” You really get to taste that fruit when you’re in your mid-40s. The life has that, [Laughs] but that doesn’t mean you can see it right now. And you might secretly suspect that you’re awesome and going to be really successful and secretly doubt that, but again, the timing might be next year or it might be when you’re 70.
CB: Sure. Yeah. And part of what I was saying also though goes back to that psychology debate that happens, the nature versus nurture debate in psychology which is essentially the question of how much are certain aspects of behavior a product of either inherited genetic traits that are there lying dormant in you that eventually are awakened at different points in your life versus how much of our behavior or psychological traits are acquired or learned characteristics that come from especially early childhood experiences. And that’s the area where modern astrology, modern psychological astrology, has done some interesting things looking at early cycles of development that happened in terms of transits and how sometimes that can coincide with important turning points in a person’s psychology and stuff, where things can go sometimes one way or another. But I think that that might be relevant here in this discussion in some way when it comes to the birth chart placements and the things that are almost genetic in us in some way that are there from birth versus the transits that we have after birth that indicate important turning points, especially developmentally as we get older.
AC: Yeah, that makes sense.
CB: Sure. So, I guess I just bring that up because there’s this issue where transits that happen could be very important in dictating psychological development later on. And if you do have a shift like that where your Sun is inherently in one sign or another planet is inherently one sign, but then you go through the whole early phases of your life with it and another sign, that could be relevant in terms of altering things in some way or maybe that needs to be taken into account.
AC: Yeah. Actually, so I’m going to jump to some of the stuff that’s later down on my list because I feel like it’s perfectly appropriate here because we’re talking about activating planets. And so in Vedic astrology, especially in the Parashara tradition which I’ve been studying, there are several specific qualities which are ascribed to a cuspy planet and there are different definitions for different issues. And so–
CB: So this is in Parashara, is it? Parashara is one of the earliest Indian astrological texts in Natal astrology that survives, and I think Pingree dates it to around like the seventh or eighth century I think was his best guess.
AC: I’ve heard a lot of dates, and [laughs] I’m not going to–
CB: Okay, it’s highly controversial because some–
AC: What we can say with certainty is that the BPHS, the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, BPHS, is widely and highly regarded as an authoritative text in Vedic astrology. Not by everybody, but by a lot. And that’s the school I’ve been studying with, with Freedom Cole and the Sanjay Rath lineage. And so Parashara gives us several conditions that are absolutely dependent on cusps. So, several of the cusps conditions are categorized under doshas which have specific flaws in time. There’s the idea that they’re sort of cracks in time when things are changing over that make things more difficult for the planet and therefore for the native.
CB: Right, because that’s the same term that’s used for the Vedic temperaments, isn’t it the doshas?
AC: I think it’s very similar, but one of the Sanskrit letters is different. That this dosha means flaw which is not to be confused with dasha for time period. [Laughs] I’m still working on the language, just starting to. And so one of the one of the really easy ones is Sankranti dosha which is when the Sun is in the first degree of a sign. And then there’s a special version of that that’s considered most difficult where they say that the Pisces Aries cusp is… The Pisces-Aries, Cancer-Leo and Scorp-Sag cusps are the hardest. The crossing from water to fire, those are the three hardest out of those 12 cups. And those are even more specifically defined. They’re less than a degree.
CB: So, in Parashara basically, he’s interpreting all cusps as being somewhat problematic, but then saying that some are more problematic than others.
AC: Yep, absolutely if I understood that.
CB: So, is that a good way to summarize that?
AC: Yeah, that’s a good summary.
CB: So that’s actually very similar to, if you want, because I could interject really quick. That’s very similar to how Hephaistio of Thebes in the fifth century also seems to interpret cusps, where in his zodiac sign delineations at the end of each of them he has what often seems like a somewhat negative interpretation because it’s treating it like it’s the in-between space, but it’s almost like no man’s land. And so as a result of that, they seem to give it almost a negative interpretation for that reason.
AC: Yes, right. So over 29 and under one just for general on the cosmos, it’s within one. And so the problem, what this signifies is that when that planet is activated, the person has a really hard time making transitions that they get stuck in the cracks or they get stopped at the border between countries. They have a really hard time making transitions when that planet is a time-lord. Actually in class the other day, we went over an example where a woman was in a Mercury period, she’d been in Mercury period for a couple years, and she was trying to finish her graduate degree and it just kept dragging on and kept dragging on and kept dragging on. And that was because her Mercury was in one of those cracks. The strength was otherwise fine, but it was in that stuck at the border position. And so the predicted delineation in her situation was she just couldn’t graduate. She would get closer and closer, but couldn’t quite do it. And so that’s an example of how it’s interpreted and then how it’s applied. That when that planet’s time period comes up, it has a hard time finishing.
CB: So, is this related to the age gradations also? Is that in the same text?
AC: Yeah, yeah. It’s strongly related. So I believe Parashara gives, I know that there are Western analogues for this, gives different ages to planets depending on how far into a sign they are. Basically, a planet is an infant when it enters the sign at zero, and then it’s old and it dies at the very end. And so one version of this is just so that there are five ages. There’s infant, adolescent, adult, older adult, and then venerable. And so you divide the 30 degrees of the zodiac by five, you get six degrees each. There’s an alternate system that gives infant and extreme old age only a few degrees on either side, and then gives the other phases of life a lot more. But the implication of this… So here we’re switching from a spatial boundary to almost a reincarnation boundary. The suggestion then is that a planet reincarnates when it crosses a sign cusp. It goes from being old to living again. And so what we have as the implication is that a planet that’s at 29, 50, like our planet at 29, 50 Aries, is like a person who’s so old they don’t have any energy to do something. And then a planet at 10 minutes into Aries is so young they have no idea what’s going on. That’s another way of framing that.
CB: Yeah, I like that because it raises what seems like an obvious thing which is the question of, is there a difference between a planet at the beginning of a sign versus a planet the end of the sign? And here in the Indian tradition, what we have is they’re saying, yes, that there’s gradations of some sort of development that happens depending on where the planet is placed in the overall context of the 30 degrees that compose that zodiacal sign. Because each sign of course, it’s not just a block, each sign is 30 degrees of space along the ecliptic which does… In the zodiac, we can already see that as sort of representing a broader progression in the changes of from sign to sign. But then there’s the question of, are there any changes or variations or progressions within each individual sign itself? And that’s one of the things that this Indian tradition is addressing.
AC: Yeah, I think it’s a nice, I think it’s a nice set of metaphors. And it speaks to if… I’m sure we could find a person who’s like, “I totally identify as a [Scorptaur],” and who doesn’t, let’s say, they’ve got the Sun at let’s go with 29, 50 of Scorpio, and they have zero planets in Sagittarius, but they’re like, “No, dude, I really feel like a [Scorptaur].”
CB: When you say [Scorptaur], are you mixing Scorpio and Sagittarius? It sounds like you’re mixing Scorpio and Taurus.
AC: Oh, yeah, I just meant centaur for…
CB: Oh, centuar, okay.
AC: I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear. [Scorptuars] are pretty… I believe those are in the Epic of Gilgamesh, you have the scorpion men and women. Anyway. [Laughs]
CB: I would say Scorpittarius.
AC: Yes, Scorpittarius.
CB: Scorpittarius, okay.
AC: But anyway, right. And so this person says, “Oh no, I really do feel like I’m stuck in between these qualities.” That is very much what these, the Rashi Sandhi and the Sankranti dosha and the Gandanta dosha, that is what it’s saying is that you do get stuck. You’re actually more likely to get stuck in transitions and places between. And so that actually kind of coheres nicely. And so these factors that I’m discussing, these are viewed as flaws and then they have remedies so you don’t get confused. No, actually you are on the Scorpio side, right? This is actually your one thing, that part of the cure is in a sense getting rid of the confusion that comes in being in an indeterminate place. And so one of the, I think for the Rashi Sandhis, one of the cures is Ganesh Mantras. Ganesh clears away obstacles. It helps you get from point A to point B, which is the problem that’s suggested by having something that can fall into that boundary placing gets stuck.
CB: Interesting. Yeah, running into a boundary or running into an obstacle and Ganesh being… That’s funny because Ganesh is traditionally like the remover of boundaries, I’ve always heard that. But in this context that would make a lot more sense.
AC: Remover of obstacles.
CB: Obstacles, okay.
AC: Ganesh is also prayed to for precision. So Ganesh observes boundaries, but he’s a Pathfinder. Where, “Oh, I don’t know. Am I in Canada? Am I in the United States? Am I alive or I’m dead?” “Let me show you the way through.”
CB: Got it. Yeah. So what I was saying earlier is that this sounds similar in some ways to what shows up in Hephaistio, who’s this early fifth century astrologer, in book one I think chapter one of his book Apotelesmatics. At the end of each of the signs, he goes through the meanings of the signs of the zodiac, their significations, he talks about the decans and the 12 parts or talks about the decans and the terms or bounds and gives even delineations for the decans, which I think you drew on in your decans book. But right at the very end of each section for each sign, he gives some delineations for what happens when the person has placements that fall in the cusp. And what he calls it is the interstice, the place in between. Most of them are often negative though. He often gives negative delineations. One of them is and the interstice between it looks like Capricorn and Aquarius says mix those were expelled or devoured by a beast. So not a very positive delineation but that notion being expelled of falling maybe through the cracks, I think, as you were saying earlier, maybe being part of the underlying thing there.
AC: Yeah, we were talking about that. And before we got on, you read me a bunch of the horrible things that Hephaistio says. And a lot of it comes down to would say, “Oh, she fell through the cracks.” That’s what you’d say at their funeral. You’re like, “Oh, just didn’t get help when they needed it.” This and that. And again, that’s very similar to what Parashara’s saying that there are cracks here and that it’s easy to get stuck in them. And so it’s probably worth noting that any planet can be in these cracks, and that a lot of this stuff apply. If you have Mars at 29, 50, then that can apply to your Mars. I gave an example with Mercury with someone trying to finish their graduate degree. And so these are meaningful positional conditions to interpret. And also if you’re listening and you’re primarily coming from the Sun sign angle and your Sun is in one of those cracks, one, it’s not an insoluble problem, and two, you probably have lots of planets that aren’t in the cracks. Because we’re not doing a one symbol zodiac. We’re not saying, “Oh, you’re this. And if it’s in the cracks, then you’re fucked.” That’s not what astrology says. We all have [laughs] a preferable and not so preferable planetary arrangement in our charts.
CB: Yeah. And that’s one of the problems I think modern people often have reading the ancient texts. They’ll usually give in the delineations the extremes. They’ll give best case scenario and worst case scenario for whatever the placement is. So that you’re supposed to understand that this is the extremist manifestation possible, but that most people due to different mitigating factors will fall somewhere more in between.
AC: Yeah, it’s sort of the unstated implication in every pre-modern text, is given absolutely nothing to contradict it, this is what it looks like.
CB: Sure. So just one more delineation from Hephaistio with that proviso out of the way, he says, there’s another cusp, but I won’t state which one because the point is just giving example not necessarily focusing on one particular cusp. So, he says those brought forth upon the interstice of this cusp between these two zodiacal signs will be silent and he will be near to the gods and some will die unmarried. And this is right after he gives the decan delineations. So I think he’s talking about the rising degree being on the cusp between these two signs.
AC: Right. And that’s one of the more intense flaws in time are for the rising. lt’s like these things matter for planets, but it matters a lot more if you’re rising is on one of those. And then there’s some stuff for the boundaries between the lunar mansions or nakshatras. And that’s actually that’s part of why in that Indian system that the Pisces-Aries, Cancer-Leo and Scorp-Sag cusps are considered more severe breakage points because that’s where the nakshatra or lunar mansion boundaries line up with the sign boundaries. So in a sense, it’s a double void or a double transition as opposed to just by sign or just by mansion.
CB: Yeah, well, that raises a really important issue where to me it almost seems like this could be more of an issue especially in the sidereal zodiac. Because in the sidereal zodiac you do actually, if you look at the constellations, so let’s say not just the abstract 12 exactly 30 degree signs of the sidereal zodiac but let’s say look at the constellations themselves, there’s some that actually overlap a little bit like Pisces and Aquarius which comes up in the whole age of Aquarius discussion. And I think that was where the [Piquarius] thing that Patrick came up with it was in one of the early age of Aquarius discussions.
AC: The age of [piquarius]?
CB: Yeah, and we had a lovely listener who drew an awesome illustration of Pisces and Aquarius merged from that discussion. But in the sidereal zodiac, you do have overlaps of some constellations. Or in other areas, you have constellations that are super far apart, so there really is nothing happening in between. So almost sidereally there’s more of an issue there.
AC: Yeah, so when I was looking through my books, I was like, “Oh, I remember there’s something in here, [unintelligible 51.58] I was just paging through and I would get distracted. One of the things that I don’t usually think about but that’s in a lot of old books is the difference between dark, bright, and smoky degrees. And that is almost certainly a sidereal originally a stellar of set of factors. Is that degree bright because there are bright stars there? Yeah, probably. Is it’s smoky because there’s some dim stuff in the background but it’s not bright or dark or is that there’s just nothing there? It’s primordial void. And so, a lot of a fair amount of this tends towards this language of absence or falling into a crack or getting stuck in something or being outside of the standard order of being. That example you just gave from Hephaistio, the person being silent and close to God, that person is sort of outside the normal order. What’s the other condition that they could be in? But they’re outside the normal order. And that, yeah, there does seem to be a crossing, there’s a micro-abyss to be crossed, it seems.
CB: Right. Yeah. And I can understand that might be relevant to this discussion, where if we’re finding some ancient texts where they’re really emphasizing that, is that because they’re coming from more of a sidereal perspective where there’s literally no stars there or where in some instances there are overlaps between stars or constellations there. And then, is that relevant in a tropical context or is it completely different and therefore those texts aren’t applicable, I could see somebody attempting to argue it either way and maybe that’s besides the point. But that might be a good transition to mention that I have found another example where it seems to almost, in an ancient text from Serapio of Alexandria, where it almost seems to support the sort of modern pop astrology interpretation of there being a blend of some sort. So, here’s the text. So, it’s from this author, this Hellenistic author who wrote in Greek, his time period is very uncertain. It might have been around the first century CE or first century AD and his name is Serapio of Alexandria. And we have a text that summarizes supposedly a bunch of different things or a bunch of different points that were made in different parts of his works. So there was a translation that Eduardo Gramaglia did about, I think it was back in like 2010 give or take, and we posted it on the Hellenistic Astrology website. So you can find it there on hellenisticastrology.com if you just search for Serapio. And the paragraph says that, here it is, he says, when a star chances to be within the first three degrees of a sign of the zodiac, it has its strength in the proceeding sign. In the same manner, if on the contrary a star happens to be within the last three degrees of a sign, it has the strength of its effects in the following sign mainly when it’s the Sun or the Moon. If a star turns out to be on the division of two signs, its effects become stronger and more immoderate.
AC: That’s interesting, more immoderate.
CB: Yeah, immoderate, so lacking in moderation for some reason when it’s on the division between two signs. But the point that I usually focus on is the first one because then it becomes this question where it seems in a relatively straightforward reading that it’s saying, if it’s in the first three degrees of the sign, it says it has its strength in the preceding sign versus it says if it’s in the last three degrees of a sign, it has its strength of its effects in the following sign. And it focuses on this especially when it’s the Sun or the Moon. So to me in reading that, I always read it and it seemed very similar to what some of those modern, some of the pop astrology things were saying about perhaps there being some sort of overlap, where if a planet’s at the end of the sign, it starts picking up some of the qualities or significations of the following sign. Or if it’s at the beginning of a sign, maybe it’s still carrying some of the qualities or significations from the previous sign.
AC: Yeah. And Ibn Ezra says something very similar. So Ibn Ezra says, “When a planet is at the end of a sign, it loses its strength and all of the power is in the sign it will enter next.” And then he continues, “If the planet is at the 29th degree of a sign though, its influence is still in the sign it is in because within three degrees the planet has influence in the degree it is in, one degree before and one degree after.” And so what he’s saying there’s sounds confusing at first. So all of the numbers in Ibn Ezra are ordinal numbers, so the 29th is actually 28. And so what he’s saying is that the planet’s going to affect its mobile three degrees, one degree before, one degree after and then the degree it’s actually in. And so he’s saying, well, if it’s only at 28, then all three degrees are in the sign. But when it moves into the last, then part of that little three degree orb which he’s designating is lighting up the next sign. And so I think maybe that’s part of the idea is that the planet’s closest orb for conjunction is actually, in the case of Ibn Ezra, one degree is actually that light is falling into the next sign and energizing it.
CB: Yeah, well, because part of the issue there is it might be an issue with aspect doctrine and that issue where ancient astrologers, especially in the Hellenistic tradition but even a little bit into the medieval tradition, were using both sign-based aspects and degree-based aspects. And the question of if a planet is close to a sign cusp, why do you allow the orb to go? And one of the interesting things about that is that classically in Hellenistic astrology, they didn’t usually really define orbs. They did give the moon 13 degrees or 12, or 13 degrees which is its average daily motion. But for most of the planets besides the Moon, the primary orb that they gave was three degrees. So that could be where some of this stuff is coming from with some of these sign boundaries and talking about like a almost three-degree distance at the beginning and end of the signs because that was kind of partially the traditional orb that was given that would have applied to out of sign aspects in those exceptions that they would have given to sign-based aspects, where they would have said that the orb of the planet or the ray of the planets light would actually still be crossing the sign boundary.
AC: Yeah, absolutely. And then I want to give Ibn Ezra’s other statement. And for people who want to read along at home, this is in the Epstein translation on pages 130 to 131.
CB: So this is Meira Epstein published by Arhat Publications?
AC: Mhm, and there’s some commentary by Hand, I believe.
CB: And this is The Beginning of Wisdom?
AC: Yes, this is The Beginning of Wisdom.
AC: And so well, hopefully, this podcast is the beginning of wisdom. [Laughs]
CB: And hopefully not the end.
AC: Or just at least, I’ll certainly settle for an installment of wisdom or at least a little clarity.
CB: Right, the interstice of wisdom.
AC: [Laughs] And so he said that about a planet the end of the sign. But in a different section, he says any planet that is positioned at the beginning of the sign is considered weak until it reaches five degrees away from it. So, he’s giving us different conditions for the beginning and end and that the two sides of the cusp are not the same, which is suggested by planetary age. Extreme old age and infancy are not the same, but they do have a lot of parallels. There’s the, what is it? Is it a Shakespeare thing? But people joke about how you keep growing up until you get to middle age, and then after that you become more and more like a baby until when you’re on your deathbed you’re like an infant. You need to be fed and cared for and wiped and all that.
CB: Yeah, it just goes back to Aristotle’s on generation and corruption and that idea that everything is constantly either growing or decaying, everything is either in a state of building up or a state of decline as part of that natural cycle. So, this is interesting because that means we have instances in both the Indian tradition as well as the Western tradition where they’re giving gradations on some level in the signs of a sort of planetary age or planetary strength based on the location within the sign.
AC: Yeah, exactly. Well, and that difference between– Even though there are parallels between infancy and extreme old age, they’re also opposite. And so one of the very widespread factors which is used by lots of different astrologers over pretty good time period is the idea of the critical degree, the last degree of the sign. And that’s absolutely a cusp factor. And that’s not supposed to be great, that’s the extreme old age, where you don’t see the first degree of a sign being mentioned as a critical degree or the anaretic degree.
CB: Yeah, I was curious. I never actually researched where that came from. I often see it quoted way too much I feel like sometimes in modern times where people talk about the anaretic degree and kind of freak out about it, but I was always curious.
AC: It can be a bit much. [laughs]
CB: Right, where that entered the tradition, it must be like a late Medieval or Renaissance thing that gets cited surprisingly frequently in modern text.
AC: Yeah, I didn’t have time to track it down. But this cusp discussion made me think of it. But just looking at the end versus the beginning in terms of the terms or bounds, the last bound of a sign is always malefic.
CB: Yeah, that’s a super important, super good point because that just ties us right back into potentially this age thing or at least the gradation thing. So, maybe it would be worth outlining what that is for the people coming in off the streets who are doing just Sun sign astrology at this stage, so that the bounds or the terms sometimes called the confines, people have been trying to come up with a term over the past 20 years.
AC: If we can just settle on one, I’ll be happy. I’m really tired of saying the bounds also known as the terms.
CB: I never say terms because it’s too confusing. Even though that’s the Renaissance standard, I always say, I stuck with bounds. Bounds is my thing. Confines while conceptually is closer to what the actual meaning is is too clunky for me to say, whereas bounds… And bounds was Schmidt, I should give Schmidt credit because Schmidt’s the one who when he was translating the Hellenistic Greek texts in the 90s, he was trying to look at the Greek text and then come up with an honest, literal translation of what that term meant in English instead of just immediately adopting whatever the current English usage was. He was trying to think carefully about actually translating the Greek term because once you do that, it turned out that many of the Greek terms had underlying meaning and philosophical or conceptual symbolism built into them that you were supposed to be able to access if you understood the original term. And so bounds was his initial attempt to translate that original Greek term to define these subdivisions of the signs of the zodiac into five unequal sections each of which was assigned to one of the five traditional planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
AC: Right. And so every sign has confines, has a bound for each of those planets. They’re in different order in a lot of the signs and they’re of unequal lengths. And the unequal lengths don’t stay the same between signs. And so they’re a bit of a pain [laughs] because the rationale behind them is much more difficult to ascertain. But they’re in basically every text of astrology for 1700 years. And so we can’t just ignore them.
CB: One of the things that’s frustrating is that it’s not clear what the rationale is for the most popular or widest use set of bounds which is called the Egyptian bounds which may have been the very first one introduced.
AC: Which may or may not be Egyptian at all. [laughs]
CB: Right. It’s probably called the Egyptians because it was probably introduced in the text of Nechepso and Petosiris who were the famous… It was a text that was written sometime around the first century BCE that was attributed to an Egyptian pharaoh and a priest, but it was probably not written by an Egyptian pharaoh or a priest. It was written by somebody that was using that as like a literary conceit in order to introduce this new approach to astrology that they wanted to introduce which interestingly goes back to our Parashara discussion because that’s exactly, in my opinion, what Parashara is. It’s somebody in the eighth-ish century who wants to publish a text on astrology and instead of taking credit for it themself, it sometimes in some ancient cultures made more sense to attribute it to an ancient or a mythical or a philosophical figure for different reasons.
AC: Oh yeah. Parashara is the grandson of a god and the child of an immortal sage and an immortal sage himself, Parashara is in many ways like Indian astro Hermes.
CB: But then it’s like the problem is that sometimes there’s people in modern times that are like, “No, Parashara was actually a guy that lived 10,000 years ago and received insight directly from a god or something like that.”
AC: Yeah. Parashara is a legendary figure and with not strict Greek god Hermes but like culture hero creator civilizing knowledge bringer Hermes who’s widely regarded as the Hermes thrice great and all that. There might have been a guy who got legends wrapped around him. But, yeah, it’s that sort of indeterminant figure.
CB: Right. Yeah. There’s a bunch of those in ancient astrology I guess as I was trying to say, but in the Western tradition there’s usually less of an issue being like, “Yeah, this wasn’t actually an Egyptian pharaoh. It was probably some guy that just attributed to somebody named Nechepso.” And then as a result of that we have techniques that come from that text that are attributed to the Egyptians 2000 years later.
AC: Yeah. That’s a phony issue in and of itself. But back to the matter at hand, one of the few regular features of the bounds is that every sign’s last bound, its last division, is always either Mars or Saturn. So every sign always ends on a malefic note. There’s no sign which ends with Venus or Jupiter or anything but Mars and Saturn.
CB: It’s one of the few patterns in the Egyptian bounds that are recognizable that people have tried to use to do something with in order to figure out what the rationale is.
AC: Yep. And so this speaks to and where’s the the anaretic degree? It’ll be the last degree of what is always going to be the bounds of a malefic. As you well know, but for the listeners, there are a number of techniques that say, “Okay, to determine the length of life or to determine how this is going to go, figure out whether this planet is in the bounds of a benefic or the bounds of a malefic. And if it’s in the bounds of a malefic, then bad delineation or negative delineation.” So we have that, the end being difficult or more difficult attested to in the bounds of every planet. I don’t know if we were talking about this or I was just thinking about this, but I think we talked about it. The Moon will almost always be void of course once it gets that far into a sign.
CB: Right, using the modern definition, there’s like three different definitions of void of course. But, yeah, that’s an important point.
AC: Right, in a sense that it won’t… Yeah. As you’re using the definition, respecting the other definitions but using the definition that the Moon will not complete an aspect with any planet before it leaves the sign. The Moon in the last degree of a sign will 99% of the time be void, of course, according to that definition.
CB: Yeah, that’s interesting because that then goes back to that whole falling between the cracks thing that we were talking about earlier and then has almost like another overlapping meaning of why symbolically that might be the case.
AC: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, totally. Well, and that’s true with there’s no planet which is quite as dependent upon aspects with other planets as the Moon. But it does mean that there’s no way that a planet that far into a sign isn’t going to encounter anything else before it leaves. No more challenges, no more boons, no more discoveries, it’s kind of all over. But the new thing has not yet begun.
CB: Right. And going back to the bounds, that’s a really important point because I think the bounds were probably first introduced in the Nechepso Petosiris text within the context of the length of life technique. That’s always been one of my speculations because we have a bunch of authors that all seem to cite Petosiris for the length of life technique, and they also cite them for the bounds and attribute them to the Egyptians. And Nechepso and Petosiris were the primary Egyptians that are usually referred to. So the length of life technique part of it was a progressions technique or a directive technique where you progress the degree of the Ascendant or you progress the degree of other planetary placements like the Sun or the Moon, and you do two things. You direct them until they hit the rays of other planets, especially the benefics or the malefics, and you also progress them through the degrees of the signs of the zodiac. And depending on what bounds they’re in, the planet that rules those bounds is activated as a time-lord for that point in time. And the problem with that is that when it gets to the end of the signs, that means they’re universally going to go through the bounds of malefics and therefore activate malefics during those time periods and therefore, by implication, have a more challenging meaning, especially for matters pertaining to physical vitality during that period of the native’s life. So there would be sort of challenging connotations especially with the end of the signs due to the balance being placed there.
AC: That’s actually so interesting in and of itself, but that hooks into our discussion of planetary age. What we were talking about the length of life technique is when will you die, right? And so when are you coming up on death? Which is another way of saying your years are almost up. And so you get in the danger zone whenever you get to the end of the sign because even if there aren’t sufficient factors to indicate the end of life, you’re still in the bounds of a malefic. Every end of a sign is danger zone, and this is really interesting. So, as I said earlier, the stages of life, infant to old, in the two Vedic systems I’m looking at they both cut it into five. It’s an interesting coincidence that we also have five bounds.
CB: Oh, that is interesting. Huh? I wonder if that’s connected because… Yeah, that is interesting. Because there are some times those overlaps where there were exchanges between the traditions but sometimes you can see like we were just talking about on the forecast episode yesterday which I think will come out after this one about how it seems like the Indians got the idea of void of course from the Greek tradition where it was called kenodromia.
AC: Right. And the yoga for that is called kemadruma.
CB: Right, so they just transliterated the Greek term kenodromia into Sanskrit and called it kemadruma. But it seems like instead of taking the concept very literally, they interpreted what that would mean in their approach and came up with a slightly different technical way to apply that concept within the context of Indian astrology using the other techniques that they had used, the hybrid approach that was clear in that time. And this perhaps is something similar.
AC: Yeah. This makes me want to go look at the Yavanajataka, which is like our bridge book, and see what the Yavanajataka is doing with planetary age and with the bounds, if anything, and with length of life techniques.
CB: Yeah, they had a bunch of subdivisions already early on. They had the bounds, they called them trimshamshas which I think it means like division of five, but I don’t know if that’s the same one that ended up being used here in some of the later age ones. They also had other subdivisions which are worth mentioning that we haven’t touched on yet like the 12 parts or dwadashamshas.
AC: Well, I actually had a point about the dwadashamshas or duads as we call them in English-speaking astrology.
AC: And so one of the points about divisional charts that I wanted to mention, so anybody who’s studied Jyotish knows their divisional charts. You got the D3, the D7, the D9, the D12, the D20, the D60, etc. etc. And so this is not exclusive to Vedic astrology, this is something that pretty much all traditional astrologers are doing to some degree or another. Not to the same degree as Jyotish, but is cutting up a sign into pieces and then saying that those pieces have different qualities. The decans are one example of that. What I call the decans or what you would call the decans, they’d say, “Oh yeah, the D3.” And so the duads which is cutting a sign into 12 equal pieces and then attributing to each one of those 12 pieces each of the zodiac signs. What we have there is literally a zodiac within each sign of the zodiac. It’s the holographic zodiac, and that appears to be very strongly regarded as a division in several of the Hellenistic texts. There’s, for example, with Firmicus who’s always saying, “This is the thing, but check the duad. See if the duad’s there.” And it’s not just Firmicus. And so what’s interesting with the pattern of the way that the duads or the D12 works is that the last… So you divide 30 by 12 and you get two and a half. So two and a half degree chunks of a sign. And so the very last two and a half degree chunk of a sign will always be the sign that actually preceded the sign that you’re in, so the last duad of Aries will always correspond to Pisces. So we have a 12th relationship. Pisces is, in a sense, the origin of Aries. Something had to move through Pisces to get to Aries. And so, in a sense, going back to the sign before is an unmaking. It’s a 12th house relationship, 12th house is undoing, unmaking, dissolving. And so our last two and a half degrees are always going to be the sign before the unmaking sign, and then the first two and a half degrees are the only degrees where you have a doubling down. The first two and a half degrees of Aries are double Aries, first two and a half of Taurus, double Taurus, etc. etc. And so it’s interesting how that frames the two sides of a cusp.
CB: And just to outline that, can we run through all of them really quickly to give an example for those who are not familiar with the duads or the 12 parts in the standard approach? It’s like if you have the sign Gemini which is 30 degrees for a full sign, you divide that sign into 12 subdivisions. And then the first two and a half degrees becomes Gemini the sign and then a Gemini subdivision for two and a half degrees. Then the next two and a half degrees becomes Cancer, the next two and a half degrees becomes Leo, then two and a half degrees of Virgo and so on and so forth, so that the end of that, the very last 12th part, the last two and a half degrees would be Taurus. So it would be Gemini the sign and then Gemini Taurus.
AC: Right. And so the way that that works out is the first one’s always a double down and the last one is always the sign before which has, again, there’s a 12th house relationship, that’s where you came from. Going back to where you came from is another way of saying dying.
CB: Right, that’s interesting. We’re getting into the broader issue here with the signs of the zodiac in all traditions. There’s traditionally been both multiple subdivisions, so you have traditional subdivisions that have been used like the bounds or the terms which are uneven divisions into five. There’s also been more even divisions like the decans and the traditional system of decans that used in the West since probably like the fifth century or something, give or take, is the one that assigns one of the seven traditional planets to each of the 10-degree subdivisions. And that’s one of the ones that you’ve worked with a lot, right?
AC: Yeah, yeah, I wrote a book on it.
CB: Right. And you actually do your horoscope column at this point based on the decans partially, right?
AC: Yeah. Well, so I did 36 decan columns. I did one complete year of decans. I started with Cancer in honor of the Egyptian origins, did the Thema Mundi style [laughs] year of columns. And then I just couldn’t do that much writing, and so I switched to writing monthly. But each one of my monthlies is broken down into three, so there’s a decan section. So it’s not just a wall of text. Or it’s an evenly divided wall of text.
CB: Sure. Well, and that was your book. Your first book was on the decans. And you used that system partially in order to generate delineations, but you also used the other system, which for the longest time I thought originated with the Indians, and it still very well may have originated with the Indians, but then I found out that it also has a longer Western tradition than I thought. And this actually in the 20th century through Alan Leo became the predominant system for assigning decan meanings in the 20th century until the revival of traditional astrology, and this was the triplicity or element system of decans where you assign like the first 10 degrees of a sign are that sign like Gemini-Gemini, and then the next 10 degrees are that sign plus jump forward to the next sign of the same triplicity, so like the second 10 degrees of Gemini would be Gemini-Libra. And then the third decan would be jumping forward to the next furthest sign in the same triplicity which would be Gemini-Aquarius. And that’s like a whole other system that you synthesized with the traditional Western one, right?
AC: Yeah. I started out thinking because I had used the traditional Western system for over a decade, I was like, “Well, I already know what the right one is. I’ll mention the other one, but I don’t need to do anything more than that.” But what I found was that they both gave me meaningful data. And in sort of seeking out the essence of what those 10-degree divisions were like, I found that if I thought about both of those rulers, the space created between them was actually much more descriptive than either one alone. And what I found out is that there are a number of different systems. And in the Vedic astrology I’ve been studying, there are four different versions that you use to find out different stuff. One is about siblings, one is about health and vitality, one is about the way that you’re using your talents, etc etc. So different ways of looking at the same divisions depending on what your purpose is. I would just say that decans are a really good way of beginning to think about the difference between the beginning, middle, and end of signs. And then what we’re doing, we need to divide by bigger numbers than three because we’re looking at the very beginning and we’re looking at the very end.
CB: Yeah, and it just leads us to this broader topic about especially harmonic divisions, where especially in late 20th century astrology, it became a discussion about harmonic divisions of the signs. But in Indian astrology you have similar sort of rationales of harmonic division, and each subdivision of the signs has specific meanings or purposes based on the numerology associated with whatever you’re dividing the sign by. But in the Indian tradition, it’s much more well developed some of those different subdivisions of the signs and creating entirely different charts out of them. And in the Western tradition, we also had some of that, but some of it was lost. Apparently, there was a text written by an author attributed to Asclepius that had delineations for every single degree of the zodiac. So each degree would have like a separate interpretation or meaning based on something.
AC: Yeah. Well, and there are bits of that in a lot of Western texts. And there’s a very odd pictorial representation of it. I want to say it’s middle 1400s, I want to say it’s 15th century. I haven’t thought about in a while. It’s the Astrolabium planum by Johannes Engel. And there’s an illustration of each decan, and then there’s an illustration of each degree. There’s not as much interpretation as you would hope for with either of them, and the degree images are very strange. I think it’s like the second degree of Aries is like a dog-headed man with a crossbow which, as much as I like weird, I’m not sure how to interpret that. [laughs] You have Saturn in the dog-headed guy with a crossbow degree. Beware of dog-headed men with crossbows. [laughs]
CB: Right. Yeah. I’m interested in the idea of degree symbolism, but this is sometimes the area of astrology where things start to get weird and start to get a bit too abstract. And in the 20th century, of course, the most popular system of that was also one of the weirdest which was… What was it called? It was like Marc Edmund Jones came up with one with a psychic where they picked–
AC: Sabian symbols.
CB: Sabian symbols. And they got together on a bench one day, and he wrote down stuff on pieces of paper. And then they pulled it out of a hat or something, and this was supposed to be how they came up with individual delineations for each of the signs of the zodiac or something like that.
AC: Yeah. Some of those are interesting, and some of them are a bit strange. It’s like a guy with a hat sits on a rock watching a fire in the distance. But just on the degree project, my favorite statement on symbols from the degrees comes from, we’re talking about images for the degrees, comes from the Picatrix where the author says, “Listen, if you really want to get good at this, if you want to obtain excellence in learning to create images for the planets and their powers, then you should create for yourself an image for every planet in every degree of the zodiac, as well as an image for the conjunction of any two planets in every degree of the zodiac every three, every four, every five, etc. So, artists out there, that’s your can you do it in this lifetime challenge.
CB: Right. Yeah, that would be a big thing. I understand the underlying meaning or intention of that statement though because it then makes you really think about all the different possible permutations when you really get down to it and how immutable or how countless they are. But, yeah, I never got into Sabian symbols because that’s when it starts getting really far away from the astronomy and interpreting astronomy symbolically which to me is what astrology is largely all about. And I realized there’s areas where we get into other things like numerology or other types of symbolism. But yeah, when it comes to just randomly or sort of psychicly assigning meanings to degrees, it starts getting a little out there for me for some reason.
AC: Yeah, it’s not something that I make part of my standard practice or delineation style. If anything, just taking a cue from the Picatrix, it almost makes more sense in an astrological magic context where you’re trying to create an image that corresponds as perfectly as possible to the planet that you’re doing work with in the degree that it’s in at that moment. The idea that the more perfect the correspondence, the more juice you’re going to get. And with the Sabian symbols, it feels a little bit more like sortilege like drawing cards or throwing runes than it does astrology. And it’s okay that astrology intersects with that. But I know what you mean about, “That doesn’t feel like astrology astrology.”
CB: Right. Yeah, it starts getting into a different territory. But, anyway, that’s a separate discussion. And it’s just the point was there may be different approaches to figuring out meanings to individual degrees or smaller clusters of degrees. And this then becomes relevant in terms of this issue of what does it mean when planets are at the very beginning or very ends of signs and they do very well may have different meanings within the context of some of those different approaches and different systems for dividing up the signs into different sections.
AC: Yeah, absolutely. One of the points that I’ve been winding around is I’ve been talking more about the end of a sign and that we have the critical degree there, we have the malefic bounds there, we have the metaphor of the planets’ life in that sign is almost over, it’s about to die and reincarnate in the next sign. But I haven’t said as much about what it’s like to be at 23 minutes of a new sign having metaphorically just been born. You mentioned Schmidt earlier. And one of the things that–
CB: Robert Schmidt?
AC: Yeah, Robert Schmidt. Him teaching in regard to his work with the Hellenistic astrology texts is that one of the fastest conditions or when a planet really stands out, when it stands up and speaks, when it makes an appearance that speaks, is for a couple days after it enters a new sign that there’s an appearance, there’s a bullhorn that goes off. There’s a, “Hey, look at me. I’m in a new sign.” And so that doesn’t happen in the last degree, that happens immediately upon its entrance into a new sign. And so there’s that. Just like a birth is signaled. Well, so technically a planet crossing over is both a funeral and a birth if we’re using length of life as a metaphor here. And you have, as I said, that doubling down of the smaller division. We’re talking about the duads, the duad doubles down for the first two degrees and 30 minutes on the sign. So the type of decanic division that you were talking about where the first decan of a sign has the quality of that sign, so in the division by three there’s also a double down. In the division by seven, not used so much in Western astrology, it doubles down. In the division by nine it also doubles down. So in a lot of these divisional charts, the first section of three, of seven, of nine, of 12, the very first section is a double down.
CB: Right. So it’s almost like the most pure essence of that sign, at least in that approach then that would be going in the direction of the most pure essence of the sign is at the beginning on some level when you’re looking at it from that perspective of the subdivisions being of the same quality for the first whatever few degrees of the sign.
AC: Yeah. And so it’s interesting because generally speaking, when a planet holds the same sign in multiple divisions, it’s thought to be stronger.
CB: Right. And that’s called Vargottama?
AC: Right. Yeah, exactly. And, yeah, a lot of times you just compare the normal chart with like the D9. And that’s enough for Vargottama. And there are actually a number of different ascending titles like, “Oh,if a planet is the same in three divisions, then it’s crowned with flowers. And if it’s four, then it’s on fire with awesomeness, etc etc.” But as a general idea and this is in the Hellenistic texts, they are like, “Oh, if Mars is in Aries and it’s duad too, then great, that’s double Mars in Aries. Good or it’s compatible.” And so even though you have a double down in multiple divisions early, you also have in the same text if it’s too early, it might be pure and it might be unified but it’s incapable of effective action. And that’s our baby. That’s that perfect child, that infant. They haven’t encountered any of life’s problems yet, their parents haven’t managed to scar them, scar their psyche yet. Kids at school haven’t made fun of them yet. They’re pure, but they’re not capable.
CB: Right. They are still developing or still in the infant stage.
CB: Yeah. All right. I like this. I like what we’ve covered already. There’s two other notes that I have that are going to lead us on separate tangents. Before I forget, one of the underlying questions though is sometimes I still wonder, and that’s why I wanted to have a discussion with you about this while we’re doing this discussion because I wanted it to be nuanced and because I myself sometimes I’m still unsure where I could see it not just going either way, I’m fine with adopting. On the one hand, there is a stark difference between different signs. And even my approach to rectification, for example, let’s say, is that there’s a pretty strong difference that if somebody says that they were born within a three or four-hour time frame and there’s two possible rising signs, that’s something I can do where I think I can figure out or rectify a person’s chart and tell them what rising sign they have especially using whole sign houses where when the Ascendant changes from one sign to the other, it changes all of the house placements in the entire chart. And to me that’s pretty stark looking at those two differences. But that being said, sometimes when there’s planets at the very end of a sign especially or when the Ascendant degree is at the end of the sign, I do wonder sometimes or I have instances where there’s like a little bit of uncertainty and I’m not sure if that’s coming from other placements or I’m not sure if the placement at 29 degrees is starting to pick up some of the qualities of the next sign. So we actually famously had this conversation very early on in our interactions because at one point I remember your Ascendant is at 29 degrees of Cancer. I remember at one point wondering if you actually had Leo rising.
AC: This has been wondered before.
CB: Right. Well, and you shut that discussion down pretty quickly because you’re like, ” No, I have Cancer rising. And the ruler of my Ascendant is the Moon in Gemini, and I have Jupiter in the first house.” And I didn’t know you very well, so it had to have been relatively early on in our relationship.
AC: I was also the only baby in the hospital. There was nobody there. [laughs] It wasn’t like a really busy situation where there’s all sorts of chaos going on. I was born in a small hospital. There’s nothing else to do but notice me.
CB: Sure. So they would have recorded the time pretty precisely is what you’re saying?
CB: Yeah. But there’s cases like that where it also came up, for example, even in the case of Trump where his birth certificate was released–
AC: Oh. That’s such a nightmare, isn’t it like 30 seconds it changes?
CB: Yeah, so this is an issue that we have. And it’s a great example for that reason because it comes up in other cases where if you enter his data into your software just based on the time that’s given, it’s given as whatever the hour and whatever the minute is but nobody records the seconds. And so when you actually enter in the data like that, what it ends up being is 12:32 and 00 seconds. So the implicit assumption then in almost everybody’s case is that we’re assuming that the person was born at the beginning of the minute rather than the middle or the end of the minute.
AC: I always enter 30 in Solar Fire.
CB: Oh, do you?
CB: Okay. All right. Well, I’m much lazier than that. And I always just enter in zero unless it makes a huge difference. But in Trump’s case, it actually does because about 30 something seconds into that minute or so, I don’t know how much it is, the Ascendant actually changes signs and moves from 29 degrees of Leo to zero degrees of Virgo so that there was a genuine question of, especially after the election and after he won the presidency much too many people’s surprise, whether astrologers have been calculating the chart wrong or whether he was actually Virgo rising rather than Leo rising or what have you. And this topic then becomes more important, and the question of can there be any overlapping qualities becomes sort of crucial at that point because it really gets to the heart of some issues that we sometimes have with rectification when the Ascendant or other planets are very very late in a sign.
AC: Yeah. Right. Well, and so Ibn Ezra says yes. He says when a planet is at the end of a sign, it loses its strength and all the power is in the sign it will enter next. We don’t have to believe Ibn Ezra, but he was a pretty good astrologer. [laughs] And then you had a…Was the Serapio statement similar? Could you read that again?
CB: Yes. Serapio said when a star chances to be within the first three degrees of a sign, it has its strength in the proceeding sign or if a star happens to be within the last three degrees of a sign, it has the strength of its effects in the following sign but mainly when it’s the Sun or the Moon.
AC: So he’s probably using, like you were saying, the full three degrees on either side orb.
CB: Yeah, it might be tied in with that whole thing where there was a whole separate thing in the aspect doctrine where they recognized both sign-based aspects and degree-based aspects. But then of course if you’re using degree-based aspects and you have the planet at the end or beginning of a sign, that means its orb is technically almost reaching outside of the sign.
AC: Yeah, that’s what Serapio and Ibn Ezra’s statements both seem to imply. I don’t generally think of orb of conjunction like this, but they’re almost treating it like it’s actually an orb or halo and that because it extends outward from the body itself a degree or three degrees that now that light is falling into the next sign and energizing it which I admit I hadn’t thought of things like that. That would be a good rationale if you wanted to argue for [Piquariuses].
CB: Right, for this being something to cusps?
AC: Well, I think we’ve pretty firmly established its unique territory. There is something going on and astrologers from different traditions and cultures and different points in the timeline all do treat it like there’s something special going on there because it is, it’s the changing of a sign.
CB: Yeah, yeah. And I shouldn’t phrase it like that because it’s one of the things I want to get out of this episode is it’s too far. It’s stupid to just reject it in saying there’s no such thing as sign cusps. That’s too blanket of a statement and obviously, the tradition and the practical usage is much more detailed and nuanced than that. And I understand where that’s coming from because it’s coming from a place of frustration on the part of contemporary astrologers who are seeing this weird development happening in pop astrology and wanting to push back and say that astrology is more precise than that, and typically there are boundaries between the signs and you need to calculate your full birth chart to really understand what’s going on. But once we get past that point and over that initial hurdle, there’s a broader discussion among practitioners of astrology, there’s still legitimate discussion about what is the nature of sign cusps? Is there any overlap or are there any things that could be perceived as qualitatively different, that could be perceived as they are being almost like an overlap or something of that nature?
AC: Yeah, yeah, definitely. And so, one of the things that I want to highlight is the difference. I highlighted the similarity between what Ibn Ezra was saying and what Serapio was saying, now I want to highlight the difference. So, Ibn Ezra only says that about planets which are in the last degree of a sign looking forward to the next, where he has a completely separate statement about planets which are early in a sign which is, and I’ll repeat, I’d read it earlier, any planet that is positioned at the beginning of the sign is considered weak until it reaches five degrees away from it, the cusp. And so, it’s saying it’s weak, but it’s not saying that it’s looking back. Ibn Ezra says, “A planet at the end looks forward into the next sign and all of the power is in the sign it will enter next.” But he doesn’t give the converse. He doesn’t give us a planet that’s early has its power in the sign proceeding. There’s a directionality implied by Ibn Ezra, whereas Serapio is saying there’s a looking back and a looking forward.
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s an important distinction and that’s probably actually really crucial. Yeah. I mean, to me, I’d like to research this more because I don’t feel like I have a strong and hard conclusion and some of my whole wanting to do this was to explore the ambiguity in my own mind. And not to focus on him too much, but just to go back to this question and this example with Trump, for example, immediately, it just seems obvious like of course, he has Leo rising. He has 29 degrees of Leo rising and everybody’s focused on Regulus being conjunct to his Ascendant as well as a fixed star in the heart of Leo and many of the stereotypical Leo type qualities him exhibiting those very strongly. But in the post-election period, one of the things that I was trying to explore was just check all of my assumptions. And one of the things that did bother me was certain personality traits that he exhibited, and those were the things that were making me wonder if it wasn’t zero degree of Virgo like this reported thing saying that he was like a germaphobe and then he didn’t like to shake hands and that he would like wash his hands after doing so or try to avoid it, which is so bizarre because he doesn’t otherwise have any placements in Virgo, and that’s kind of a thing that you would more commonly I think astrologers might associate with a Virgo.
AC: Oh yeah, and non-astrologers as well. [Austin laughs]
CB: Right. But in the end, ultimately, I still feel okay saying that he has Leo rising and that’s where it came back to, Leo rising with Mars in the first house, the Sun ruling the Ascendant with the Sun being in Gemini conjunct Uranus in the 11th, etc etc. But I do wonder if that little weird throwaway quality that he has personality-wise isn’t getting picked up by something from being so close to that border with Virgo.
AC: Right, that’s really interesting. Just because there’s a Virgo quality doesn’t mean it’s in Virgo if we’re using either Ibn Ezra or Serapio. That’s an interesting take on it.
CB: And the point I’m saying is there’s stuff like that that sometimes makes me wonder or yeah, there’s other instances like that we could go into, but I want to use this to start a discussion, that nuanced discussion about that. Once we’ve pushed aside the pop thing a little bit and we’ve tried to clarify that, then we can have more of like an open and genuine discussion about, does that happen at all? Are there instances where that does seem to be a genuine thing or can that be explained in some other ways so that some other astrologer might say, no, it comes from this indication in his chart? Because that’s actually the next and it’s getting close to one of the final points, which is we run into an issue with learning astrology that it comes up pretty frequently where when you’re learning astrology, sometimes you learn something and you identify with, especially in your own chart, or you learn about a certain placement that you identify with and makes sense, but then later on it turns out there’s another placement that indicates something very similar or indicates the same thing but just from a different perspective.
AC: Yeah, the oh, that’s where that’s coming from.
CB: Yeah. So, sometimes you’ll learn astrology and you’ll think, oh, I really identify with that, but then you’ll change let’s say house systems or you’ll change planetary rulership schemes or something like that, and you’ll find a very similar signature that can be interpreted in a very similar way but it’s coming from a completely different place or a completely different angle and so it’s like a nuance, it’s a thing you have to be careful about when you’re learning astrology because there’s many overlapping techniques in astrology that can sometimes indicate similar things or sometimes indicate the same thing and you have to as a result of that be careful that you’re not thinking something is coming from one area when in fact it’s coming from something else which was actually saying that more strongly.
AC: Yeah, yeah. That’s such an important point for so many reasons that I’m having a hard time fishing up the most important reason that that’s important right now. [Austin laughs]
CB: Yeah. Well, it just goes back to our core initial answer which is every astrologer’s answer for the initial question of, if your Sun is late in one sign, then you may have other planets that are placed in the adjacent sign which may explain why you think that you’re both or why you resonate more with one rather than the other. But that then leads us back to other important points that we should make before we close this down, which is that in advanced astrology, the Sun is not always the focus but instead there can be things like the Ascendant, the ruler of the Ascendant or even much more advanced concepts like an ancient astrology, the overall ruler of the chart called the master of the nativity which can play a dominant role in indicating things like character and personality based on what planet it ends up being in the chart and that can be another reason why a certain sign might be dominant in a person’s chart or a person’s personality that you might not think of otherwise and becomes sort of relevant.
AC: Yeah. There are other ways that qualities can become prominent. No matter what else is going on, if you have Mars conjunct the Midheaven, you’re going to read more Aries-Scorpio. And actually, I just want to pause for a second. And so you brought up my Ascendant, it’s 28 degrees. And so it’s certainly not in Leo. But if we look at it from Serapio’s perspective or extend Ibn Ezra’s perspective by half a degree, then we would say that although my Ascendant is in Cancer and Jupiter is in Cancer, the light of Jupiter or the orb of Jupiter’s conjunction extends into Leo. And just off the cuff thinking about my life level, I can see some of the light of that extending into Leo. It’s not where it’s coming from. But subjectively in this moment, if somebody told me that, I would not argue with them at all. They’d be like, “Yeah, and some people might think you’re that because the light extends there, but really you’re coming from here.” And they would delineate Cancer, I’d be like, “That is where I’m coming from and people do say that about me.”
CB: Right, yeah. Is your time 2:55 PM?
AC: Yeah, it’s actually been rectified to 2:57.
CB: Okay. Wait, 2:57, so that’s even later. Because in Solar Fire that’s coming up as 29, 00 for me at 2:55. So, if it was 2:57, then it would be like 29 and change, right? Okay. Sorry, I thought you said 28 a minute ago, so I just wanted to clarify that. It’s definitely there 29 Cancer rising?
AC: Well, rectifications are rectifications. I think that’s a good one. I won’t go into the five pros and the two cons for that. But yeah, I’m pretty confident that rectification. What’s on the birth certificate is 2:55 which I think might have been rounding down to the nearest five minutes.
CB: Okay. Yeah, I wasn’t going to go there too much, but that’s one of those instances where I sometimes wonder. I mean, you’re one of my closest friends that doesn’t fall in the bizarre thing that I have where most of the people I know are Leo rising, basically. You’re like one of the few exceptions and you happen to have like 29 Cancer rising, so it’s one of those things where not that I’m wondering that your Ascendant is in Leo at this point, but I do wonder sometimes if planets at the end of the signs don’t start picking up some of the quality of the next sign.
AC: I didn’t even think about that before we had this discussion. Just that little bit of light leaking into Leo makes a lot of sense to me. Also, my Jupiter which is in the very end of Cancer with the Ascendant, regressed. It crossed the sign boundary back from Leo into Cancer the week before I was born.
CB: Right, it’s at 29, 39 Cancer so it just moved from Leo back into Cancer.
AC: Right, because Kelly’s born a week before me and she has Jupiter in Leo.
CB: Okay, right. So that’s interesting in and of itself because we talk about that a lot on the forecast about station points, especially like right now we have the Venus retrograde connecting together two signs where it stations retrograde in Scorpio and then it’s going to station direct in Libra and how it’s interesting that it’s like overlapping between those two signs and almost like drawing them together as part of that Venus retrograde sequence in creating a sequence of events where both of those signs and the transition between them is somehow integral in a more dynamic way.
AC: I know we’ve been talking for a while, but do we want to take a second to maybe think about cusps when you do them in reverse with retrograde planets?
CB: What do you mean?
AC: Well, we talked about the planets standard motion which is direct, which is you go from the end of a sign to the beginning of a sign. But what about when you back up before the beginning into the sign before? Because this year has been full of that. We had Mars backing up from Aquarius to the end of Cap, we are soon to have Venus backing up from Scorpio to the end of Libra, and in this Mercury retrograde which starts in three-ish weeks, backs up from Sagittarius to the very end of Scorpio.
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s important because that might add a whole new dimension to retrogrades and understanding them and their role that astrologers don’t typically take into account, which is that the planet is going from the beginning and the younger phases of one sign to the end and like the older phases of another sign which then is actually interesting because it reminds me that the Sun and the Moon are the only two “planets” that don’t go retrograde, they always go through the same order whereas all of the other planets have the ability to go backwards through the signs of the zodiac, and the nodes, of course, always move backwards through the signs.
AC: Right, they have to be contrary assholes.
CB: Right. Yeah, I mean, that’s interesting. That could be a really worthwhile line of research to go down in terms of exploring this issue more.
AC: Right. It’s almost like to use the longevity thing. Instead of getting old and then dying and being born again, it’s having that Benjamin Button disease or remembering a past incarnation. [Austin laughs] Because you go from like I’m an infant and now I’m really old and you flip. Usually, we’re old and then let’s give it another go, let’s do another life.
CB: Yeah, I love that also because retrogrades are often about going back to something that you thought you had finished earlier and like returning back to and revisiting something. And with retrogrades crossing sign boundaries, it is really you’re retreading and going back to ground that was old and had matured already and reached a stage of completion, but for some reason you’re unexpectedly revisiting it.
AC: Right. Yeah, something happens which reminds you of when you were 23 and I don’t know working at Subway or whatever, and then there’s like some closure to that or you learn something from that and then you bring that back to the present. And I think we should also just mention the… I got this from my friend Goritsa Svortsan, but apparently this is something that Frawley teaches and that she got from him. But I always really liked it, is when she looks at planets near a cusp, she looks at the dignity change. And so Venus at the very end of Aries is in its detriment, but it’s about to get into Taurus where she’s about to come home. And so, she would say, “Oh, Venus is super excited at the end of Aries because she’s just about to get to Taurus and is excited in the first degree of Taurus is like, “Oh, thank God I’m home.” And then the opposite like, let’s say, so we’ve experienced it this year three times, Venus going over the Libra-Scorpio boundary, where Venus is like, “Oh, I’m in Libra, this is great. I have my scales and my fine dress, and oh, now I have to go to Scorpio and hang out at the butcher shop.” It’s like, “Oh, this sucks.” Whereas what we’re about to experience now is Venus’s return back to Libra. “Oh, I get to wash all this off from butcher shop and take up my scales again, get some clean clothes, etc.” And is that gate exciting to go through? You’re like, “Oh no, the fun times are over.” I found that to be a very practical and also just fun and descriptive way of thinking about planets that are about to change signs or have just changed signs.
CB: Yeah. I like that because it’s more of that dynamic approach to astrology that sometimes you see in transits but also comes out especially in horary and that exchange between, especially with the current Venus retrograde, we talked a lot in the forecast episode about the idea of it being in exile in Scorpio versus coming home in Libra as you just said.
AC: Yeah Parashara Jyotish, there’s a set of conditions called avastha, which is like how is the planet feeling and so age is part of that, and then whether a planet is like sleepy or wide awake or angry or excited or depressed, there are a whole set of conditions for doing that. We’ve accidentally ended up doing avastha by just thinking about what it’s like for a planet to transition. And so in some sense like being right on a cusp is confusing because you’re between things.
CB: Right. And then just to give his name, the astrologer you’re talking about, it came from your friend Goritsa, but she was citing her teacher who is John Frawley.
AC: Yeah. Well, it was just something Goritsa would do when she would interpret charts, and I was like, “Oh, I’m going to steal that, that’s great.” And then we were talking about it and I think I mentioned it to Kelly, and Kelly is like, “Oh yeah, Frawley teaches that.” So that’s probably where Goritsa got it. I was just giving credit. We didn’t have a sit-down discussion where Goritsa was like, “I made this up. This is my patent thing.” I just saw her doing it, and I was like, “Oh, I like that. I’mma steal it.”
CB: Yeah. And I was just mentioning it because there’s two Frawleys. There’s the Renaissance astrologer, the traditional astrologer, John Frawley, and then there’s the very prominent Vedic astrologer, David Frawley. So sometimes people mix them up, so I just wanted to clarify for the record who it was.
AC: Yeah, the Renaissance one, which is probably a good distinction to make because I’ve been talking a lot of Vedic.
CB: Right, yeah. All right. I think we’ve covered a lot. We’ve done this pretty extensively. We’ve covered all the main points I think that I wanted to cover. And again, I think the main point was just to discuss the issue with a lot of nuances and details and to create sort of a foundation so as a community we can have future discussions about this. And there’s going to be disagreements. There’s some astrologers that are going to still very loudly want to contend that the cusp distinction is very strict and there’s no anything between them, there may be other astrologers that continue this new development of saying that there is overlap. It’ll be interesting to see where that goes. But I at least wanted to just outline the issue and some of the different possible solutions and possible scenarios.
AC: Yeah. And I’m happy to have been part of that. I also want to facilitate that as a discussion rather than a yes/no. And we’ve given multiple texts that give interesting and contradictory opinions.
CB: Right. Yeah, as is the astrological tradition.
AC: Yes, [Austin laughs] an integral part of our tradition is arguing about half degrees here and maybe even whole degrees there, does that orb extend backward into the sign before or only into the sign to come or neither?
CB: Right. Yeah, and just dealing with nuance and dealing with the fact that the world is nuanced and astrology is nuanced and as was cusps. Sometimes there are no clear answers, sometimes you got to deal with and you got to be okay with that sense of ambiguity. And yeah, that doesn’t mean you can’t come down on a specific conclusion or a specific answer. It’s just perfectly fine. Yeah, that’s one thing that I’ve always tried to do on the podcast is explore both sides of different, especially tricky issues so that people can then make up their own minds about which direction they want to go with that knowing all of the background and the facts going into it.
AC: Yeah. Well, and also to a certain degree, when we’re looking at any factor, this included, when does it matter and why? Does it matter for all of the different reasons you’d interpret the planet? Is it only matter in this one particular context? Is it more a horary thing? Is it more a natal thing? Is it more an electional thing? Does it apply to all three? These are the questions we need to be precise.
CB: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I feel like this is one of those issues where it’s going to become more prominent and it’s probably easier to study in natal astrology. But for the most part, there’s probably areas where it’s applicable in horary and electional and everything else as well. I mean, you mentioning horary actually completely reminds me of the consideration before judgment of if the Ascendant is very early in a sign or very late in a sign, then that’s sometimes interpreted by some astrologers like Lee Lehman, for example, who was my first horary teacher and I always thought her interpretation of this was good because I would see it coming up in horary charts where if the Ascendant is super early in a sign and you get a horary question from a client, oftentimes, there’s something premature about the question that’s like not very well formulated yet or all of the different circumstances and things that need to come into place for the outcome or the result to happen have not been put in place yet so that sometimes the question is premature or there’s something premature about the situation. Whereas if the Ascendant is super late in a sign, that’s sometimes meaning that there’s something like overly mature about the situation so that it may have concluded already, but sometimes the native either doesn’t know or they haven’t accepted that that’s the case that it’s already over.
AC: Oh yeah, that’s really interesting. And also, horary also makes me think of when you have… Because in horary, I was looking at the application between a pair of bodies, when does the ruler of the first house end the 10th? When do they complete an aspect for a career question? So, if one of those planets is at 29 and they won’t complete an aspect until that planet at 29 changes signs, that completely changes your interpretation.
CB: Right. That if the profection happens after the sign change, that there’s some transition that occurs before the matter can be brought to completion.
AC: Right, right. I think it was actually in Ibn Ezra where he’s talking about like, “Yeah, it’ll happen, but things will totally change and then it’ll happen.” It’ll happen in a totally different context than you’re thinking.
CB: Sure. And that’s so funny because on the one hand, it’s like I want most techniques and I think a lot of techniques should be applicable across all four major branches of astrology which is natal, electional, mundane and horary, but then on the other hand, there sometimes are very different applications and astrologers that specialize in horary sometimes have a very different approach than astrologers that specialize in natal because the dynamic is so different looking at a person’s entire life versus looking at a horary question that has a much often smaller life span or smaller shelf life. So there’s both overlaps between the branches and the things that should or should not be applicable to all branches, but there’s also sometimes major differences.
AC: Yeah, I think each branch has its own nuances. I mean, Mars is Mars in all of them. The basics like Saturn signifies what Saturn signifies in every branch of astrology. Part of it is time like you were saying. [Austin laughs] If it’s like, where are my keys? That has only so long to play out. Whereas in natal, you’re going to live with that Saturn for 85 years. Saturn doesn’t have time, for example, to mature and mellow out. There’s a lot of stuff about how Saturn becomes more favorable as a person ages under a lot of conditions. You don’t have 85 years to find your keys, you’re never going to get that blessing of Saturn because you put in the time. And then one thing I find with electional versus natal is you want to be viciously judgmental with electional.
CB: Yeah, and horary as well, you need to know what the ruler of that house is in order to give a yes or no answer, whereas in natal, it’s easier with the house division debate, for example, to see if the whole sign 10th house is one thing but the degree of the Midheaven is falling in another whole sign house, how if you see a transit go through both that you’ll see different manifestations of the person’s career doing different things if Saturn goes through the whole sign 10th house, and then Saturn hits the whole sign MC in the 11th house, you’ll see the different career things being continued through the 10th and the 11th house. Whereas like in horary, sometimes you need to know what the specific ruler is and therefore be able to answer the question in the affirmative or the negative.
AC: This astrology stuff is complicated, Chris.
CB: Yeah, astrology is complicated. I guess that is the [Chris laughs] conclusion to this episode. I don’t know if I can make that the title. I still have to come up with a title for this episode. By the time I post it, I’ll have come up with a brilliant title.
AC: Let’s see, falling through the cracks, getting lost in the cusp debate, [Austin laughs] or into the abyss.
CB: Into the abyss, born on the interstice.
AC: The spaces between, or literally, we could get Lovecraftian, the spaces between the stars, the inky black places between the stars was one of HP Lovecraft’s go to, that’s where the Elder God, the great old ones came through. It wasn’t the bright spaces in the sky but the dark void between them.
CB: Right. Well, unfortunately, I’ll probably just be stuffing keywords. So it’s probably going to be zodiac sign cusps, are they real? Or something pretty straightforward like that. Yeah.
AC: Yeah, that’s why my titles have absolutely no search rank.
CB: Right, [Chris laughs] yeah. Well, you win creative points though.
AC: Yeah. Well, and I’m lucky enough to have patrons who are willing to support my eccentricity and [Chris laughs] non-search rank style.
CB: Right, I love it. Okay. And speaking of that, I want to mention in this episode, we mentioned on the forecast episode that will come out after this one, but I want to mention it here and you mentioned at the beginning very briefly, but you’re launching a new podcast soon and you’re getting ready to release episode one of that, right?
AC: Yeah, sometime in the next week. I’m thinking Cancer Moon Trine Jupiter, but I need to take another couple looks at the elections. Yeah, tentatively titled Eavesdropping, and so I really wanted to share with people some of the nerdy discussions that I have with people who are fellow practitioners of astrology and astrological magic at 2:00 in the morning anyway. And so I wanted to record some of those. Yeah, the first one I’ve already recorded. It’s with the astrologer and goldsmith Tony Mack, who I’ve been doing astrological magic talisman projects with for a decade now, and that’ll be out probably within the next week. I’m going to shoot for maybe one a month. I’m not trying to become a full-time podcaster, but I wanted to have talks with people. I’ve been lucky enough to be a guest on a couple podcasts, but I wanted to turn the tables and be the host.
CB: Yeah, that’s brilliant. I’m looking forward to hearing that. I think that’s going to be great. Tony’s an awesome astrologer, so that’s a great way to start off. So, you’re going to be hosting on your website austincoppock.com, right?
AC: Absolutely, thanks for reminding me to plug.
CB: Yeah. Well, I’m excited that so many podcasts are taking off now and to welcome more people into it because not many people were doing it for the longest time, and now it’s good to see some great people coming in and starting to pick it up, so people should check that out. Thanks a lot for joining me for this today. Thanks to all the patrons who supported this episode and other episodes. I mean, this is basically like you’re attending an astrology talk or an astrology class each week, and I think that was the level of the discussion we had here even though it was casual and more of a discourse. It’s teaching astrology to people and having serious discussions about astrology once a week. Normally, if you’re going to attend an astrology lecture, you’d pay $5 or $10 and that’s what all of our patrons are doing.
AC: Or a lot more.
CB: Yeah, or like $15 or $20. Basically, what our patrons are doing is they’re paying voluntary donation in order to support the production of the podcast and that really helps me to be able to do these types of episodes, keep building new equipment. I’m building a podcast studio so that I can do more in person stuff, hopefully, with you Austin next time you’re in town.
AC: Yeah, next year the ruler of my profection is in the ninth, so I imagine I’ll be traveling and I’m not that far away.
CB: Yeah, travel time. Last time you were here, I was just starting to get set up, last time you were in Denver for that tarot conference [Austin laughs] and that was actually when I launched the Patreon, so things have changed. If you want to support this effort, you want to support the production of future episodes, go to theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe for more information about the Patreon and some of the bonuses and benefits you get from becoming a subscriber or a patron. I think that’s it. Anything else you want to mention before we wrap it up?
AC: No, I don’t think so.
CB: Oh yeah, check out our zodiac sign series, this falling right in the middle of that. But if you’re just finding this episode on its own, you would really want to listen to… We’ve already recorded part one of our series where Austin and Kelly and I go through the individual meanings of each of the 12 signs of the zodiac. We already went through the first six signs in part one, which I believe was episode 174 or 175 of The Astrology Podcast. And then in November, we’re going to record part two for the last six signs, which is Libra through Pisces. So that would be a great follow-up if you want to listen to other episodes related to this topic, and we’ll be recording that again in the next few weeks.
AC: Yeah, looking forward to it.
CB: Awesome, cool. All right. Well, thanks everybody for listening. Be sure to rate the show on iTunes if you want to show some support since that always helps other people to find it, and that’s it. Thanks for listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast, and we’ll see you next time.