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References and Notes


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1. Western, or tropical, astrology measures the Sun's movement along the 360° of the ecliptic (the Sun's apparent path around the Earth). This great circle is divided into the 12 zodiacal signs, each containing 30°. Each year, the vernal equinox (first day of spring) occurs when the Sun moves into the sign of Aries. The sidereal system of astrology, traditional in India and gaining popularity in the West, measures planetary movement against the backdrop of zodiacal constellations. Due to irregularities in the Earth's orbit, the constellation Aries is no longer behind the Sun on the vernal equinox, but rather somewhere between Pisces and Aquarius. The precise sidereal placement of planets is open to debate, because the constellations vary greatly in size and have no actual precise beginning or end, unlike tropical measurement along the 360° circle of the ecliptic.

2. Nicholas deVore, Encyclopedia of Astrology, Littlefield, Adams & Co., 1976, pp. 169, 425.

3. Ibid, p. 73.

4. Each zodiacal sign falls into one of three types, which are called qualities; cardinal is initiating energy, fixed is stabilizing, and mutable is flexible. The four mutable signs are: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces.

Start your studies with one of my favorite books—perfect for beginners. It offers a simple and elegant overview of Dane Rudhyar's philosophy of astrology. Read The Practice of Astrology online.

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From The Mountain Astrologer, December-January 2006 (1)

Q.  I have been interested in astrology for a very long time, but I am skeptical because there is so much emphasis on Sun signs when many of us are not really like our Sun sign. I find this very limiting and superficial, and it discredits astrology as a legitimate area of specialization. The world of astrology seems indifferent to "cuspers"—claiming a person is one sign or another. I find this belief that a person can't be a cusper kind of ironic, considering that the art and science of astrology requires that someone look beyond and believe a lot more than most people are willing to do.
— Bi-Cuspal

A. You are so right—Sun-sign astrology is often superficial and virtually meaningless. However, it happens to be the form that popular astrology takes. Although "What's your sign?" is the quintessential lame pick-up line, at least it's part of our collective lexicon. If not for horoscope columns (aka Sun sign columns), astrology wouldn't be part of the mainstream, even in a marginal way.

Birth Chart: Bi-Cuspal
Natal Chart - Bi-Cuspal
Source: Querent's Memory

In Western (or tropical) astrology, the signs are astronomically measured quite precisely, in 30° segments along the plane of the ecliptic,1 and a cusp is the imaginary line separating signs.2 The Sun (or any planet) is said to be "on the cusp" when "there is uncertainty as to the planet's location at a particular moment."3 The term is often used to mean a blending of both signs when a planet is close to the beginning or end of a particular sign, and that's simply incorrect.

In your case, there are numerous sound astrological explanations why you may not identify strongly with your Sun sign. First, your late Aries Sun is very close to the planet Mars in early Taurus, which distinctly influences your solar temperament; you may be even more opinionated than the average Aries, though slower to judge. The relative position of the Sun to your Aries Moon (you were born just before a new Moon) lends a Piscean layer to your personality (more intuitive, poetic, and creative). And there's a stimulating opposition between angular planets in mutable signs (4th-house Venus and Saturn in Pisces opposite 10th-house Uranus and Pluto in Virgo)4 lending a dynamic potency and a compelling service orientation to your temperament. Then there's your your Scorpio Ascendant with Neptune near the 12th, supporting the Piscean and Martian overtones described above. Suffice it to say: You are so much more than just your Sun sign! I suggest that you begin to study astrology in earnest; it will only continue to amaze you.5

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