The Myth of the Cusp

If you pay any attention to astrology, or even know the signs of the people in your life, you’ve most likely heard of someone “born on the cusp.” Depending on who you ask, being born on the cusp means being born anywhere between four days and three degrees of the moment the Sun changes signs (say from Aquarius to Pisces or Libra to Scorpio).

No matter where the cut off is considered to be, cusp individuals are usually told that they’re bound to have characteristics of both signs and may feel as if they’re “straddling” the two. But some astrologers – those who believe in the exactness of the science in particular – say that’s a myth.

In fact, there is a deeper explanation for people born on the cusp who feel as if they have to read two horoscopes to get a clear picture. And while this explanation is multi-fold (and even a little bit complicated – including life progressions that differ from person to person), it should come as no surprise that one major factor in experiencing what seems like a split Sun Sign has nothing to do with the Sun at all, but rather, with meddlesome Mercury, the planet of communication.

The Mercury connection
Mercury, more so than any other planet, travels in close contact with the Sun. According to The Complete Book of Astrology by Caitlin Johnstone, it’s likely that the Sun and Mercury were in the same sign at your time of birth – unless you were born close to the cusp, in which case Mercury could be just behind, or just ahead of the Sun, depending on whether or not it’s spinning retrograde. In other words, if you’re a Leo, your Mercury is most likely in one of three signs – Leo, Cancer or Virgo. If you’re a Taurus, your Mercury is in either Taurus, Aries or Gemini. What makes this so interesting, however, and contributes to that “cusp-y” feeling of being split between signs is not solely your Mercury placement (another planet running close to the Sun would have different results), it’s what the planet controls.

Mercury’s placement in a chart dictates personality and interaction style. For instance, a person with Mercury in Gemini, much like a person with the Sun in the sign of The Twins, is likely to be quick on their feet and have a way with words whereas Mercury in neighboring Cancer will have a more sensitive, emotional style of expression. Likewise, Mercury in Virgo will usually indicate a person who is highly detail oriented in the way they approach problem solving – they’re not the types to talk about the big picture – whereas a Libran Mercury will weigh all the options in formulating a just solution.

Along those same lines, those with Mercury in Sag – as is the case with Sagittarians themselves – can display the tendency to blurt things out without thinking whereas nary a more calculated communicator is there than the neighboring Mercurial placement in Scorpio. Indeed, a little distance all the difference makes… And just like a Sun Sign or Rising Sign (Ascendant), the planet of communication influences not just your processing powers but the way you come across to the outside world. It’s no wonder we identify with our Mercury much in the same way we identify with a Sun Sign (or maybe even more) – it rules the way we think!

Who we are
That said, all the little puzzle pieces of a natal chart – not just the Sun, Ascendant and Mercury form our personalities – internal and external. So it follows that there are many explanations for feeling astrologically split. To find out the specifics of your chart – and thereby better understand how the planets and their placement (houses, quadrants, etc.) work together to comprise your individual being and reveal your life patterns and progressions a natal chart is required. Whether you’re born on the cusp, or smack dab in the middle of a Sun Sign – it’s key to look beyond any single planetary placement and interpret the big picture.

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