It was an exciting day when my new book, Astrology on the Cusp, arrived. The cover was attractive, the layout was readable, and I immediately put copies in my bag to share with friends. The first question everybody asked me was, "Are you born on the cusp?" And it struck me that that was a very good question. Why would I be writing about people born on the cusp—those whose birthdays are at the very end of one sign and the start of the next—without having a vested interest in the whole enterprise?
Ironically, not only am I not born on the cusp, I am born at the exact middle of my sign, Libra. I am 15 degrees of the sign of the scales. (Every one of the twelve signs of the zodiac comprises 30 degrees—these 12 make a 360 degree circle.) So I'm so far from the cusp, I can't even see it from my vantage! However, as the years have gone by, I seem to have had a noticeable number of clients who are born on the cusp. First there was Sarah (who is referenced in my book), a cuspy Taurus who had Aries' initiative but Taurus's loyalty. I've also had some clients who are Virgo, cusp of Libra (the sign right after Virgo), and Sagittarius, cusp of Scorpio (the sign right before Sagittarius). These clients can have "extreme" examples of sign characteristics—for instance, the ability of the cuspy Sadge to keep a secret (which is a Scorpionic influence), or the Virgo's ability to see both sides (a trait of Libra) seem to combine the best of both signs.
So I wanted to write a book for those cuspy people who feel torn between identifying with some aspects of one sign, other aspects of the other sign, and feel squeezed in the middle. I had researched the field, and knew—both from what clients told me, and what I saw on book store shelves—that this astrological arena really wasn't covered.
And the more I thought about it, the more quirky the idea of cusps struck me. What do twins (Gemini) and crabs (Cancer) have in common? What do lions (Leo) and virgins (Virgo) share? And the goat (Capricorn) and the water-carrier (Aquarius)—do they have some special chemistry that conventional astrological archetypes just can't cover? The people I know who are cuspy—and those who spoke to me for Astrology on the Cusp—always identified with both signs, and frequently sounded a little harassed. Why do they have to accommodate attributes that have nothing in common (such as Cancer's sensitivity and Leo's pride or Sagittarius's sense of humor and Capricorn's stoicism)? And then I researched more and found some interesting famous people were cuspies.
Let's start with January 19, which is Capricorn, cusp of Aquarius (but definitely Capricorn). And just look at musicians. We have: Dolly Parton, Janis Joplin, Phil Everly, and Simon Rattle. Unusual harmonies are one trait these four share—so is genre-crossing. In fact, you'd expect anyone with a trace of Aquarius to be a path-setter, and that's what we have here.
Look at writers born June 20, which is Gemini, cusp of Cancer. This birthday will always have intellectual curiosity and extreme sensitivity, and for those who live by the pen, the following folks definitely qualify: Francoise Sagan, Jean-Paul Sartre, Mary McCarthy, and Rockwell Kent (yes, Kent is much better known as a painter and print-maker, but writing was an integral part of his craft).
Now, I'm sure we have readers saying, "But what about MY birthday?" For that, you'll need to read the book—and I include a lot of birthdays! Each cusp is grouped into three categories: before the cusp, on the cusp, and after the cusp. I wrote about birthdays for a few days in either direction. Other astrology books hew to a stricter interpretation, but I have always found that people within three or even four days of a cusp (versus one or two) will always identify with both signs.
Look at it this way—you can feel like you're a diminished version of the sign that you are, or you can feel quietly superior, because you can take the best of both signs!
Astrology on the Cusp also includes a special section on careers and vocations. I also have two sections with specific dates. One is entitled, "Times of Year When You're 'On Fire' and Should Move All Projects Forward." The other is, "Times of Year When You May Feel Compromised or That Your Judgment Isn't as Sound as You'd Like." Knowing when you're at your best is very helpful information. And knowing when the planets are definitely not favoring your activities will also assist cuspy folks when making plans, either personal or professional.
I've been thinking about this topic for years, so, just for fun, here is a "short take" on the twelve cusps.
Aries-Taurus: The ram meets the bull, and everyone else—look out! These are two powerful signs that can foster momentum and endurance in the person with this cusp. At your best, you have leadership ability, as well as the ability to lead quietly, or subtly. This is a sign that can lead, and keep a secret, and also look down the road to see what's coming.
Taurus-Gemini: Here the twins try to ride the bull—and sometimes get tossed off! Taurus's consistency meets Gemini's proclivity to vacillate or waffle. There is huge artistic ability with this cusp—but do you have faith in yourself to explore it? Taurus can be a "care-taking" sign, so you may be someone upon whom others rely to get the job done (even when it's not your job). This cusp favors jobs in finance and/or communication.
Gemini-Cancer: The twins meet the crab, and the crab just wants to hide. You're sensitive and emotional, but you can also sublimate this trait in favor of curiosity about the world—or even a fascination with people who live on the edge. This cusp favors writing, and the careers that involve analysis of others' motivations.
Cancer-Leo: The crab and the lion don't seem to have much in common—and what people with this cusp may find is that others don't see their depths. Instead, these cusps may have such a dynamic and interesting personality that the sensitive side of your nature is submerged. These cusps have to be careful not to be annoyed at others' thoughtlessness. This cusp favors performance, teaching, persuasion, and helping others.
Leo-Virgo: The lion meets the virgin. The "Strength" card in the tarot deck shows this image: the beautiful maiden taming the lion. These cusps can be all over the place: private and public, nit-picky and able to corral a lot of disparate talents. This cusp could be a director or a producer, or someone who manages different departments. And this cusp loves to perform—even if just for a dinner table of companions.
Virgo-Libra: The virgin meets the scales. Pretty and perfectionist, this cusp can see both sides, and still not be able to make a decision. This is a cusp that can listen to anyone and everyone. Smart and usually well-dressed, Virgo-Libra is able to plan ahead—but doesn't always know what they're going to do today! This cusp favors working with others, or with data management.
Libra-Scorpio: The scales meet the scorpion. What's fair? What's not fair? These are issues that preoccupy this cusp. At its best, people with this cusp can be "all things to all people"—able to utilize Libra's chameleonic side. At its most difficult, this cusp has a fondness for, if not revenge, at least payback. This cusp is a fighter, and favors jobs that require emotional or physical toughness.
Scorpio-Sagittarius: The scorpion meets the archer, and the archer really, really wants that scorpion to lighten up and have a good time! The issues of "justice" that characterize Sagittarius definitely help Scorpio to "get over themselves." This cusp is less likely to take setbacks personally. It favors careers that involve finance, travel, judicial fairness, analysis and personal courage, as well as humor.
Sagittarius-Capricorn: The archer meets the goat— and at Yuletide, which means folks with this birthday often get "short shifted" on the presents! At their best, they won't care—this cusp is powerful, with executive ability as well as charisma to get their way. People born on this cusp can have wildly varying interests and may have trouble "settling" on any one career. They have multiple talents and should look for work that has variety as well as complexity and perhaps travel. Routine doesn't cut it.
Capricorn-Aquarius: The goat meets the water-carrier. People born under this cusp like routine, up to a point, but always want to look ahead. What's happening next? Who should I cultivate? This is a social sign, and work should include interactions with a lot of people as well as unpredictability. Having a career where you have leeway to "invent" or make up procedures would be satisfying.
Aquarius-Pisces: The water-carrier meets the fish. Nature-loving, fond of art and music, this cusp can be slow-moving and cautious about committing. There's a huge capacity for nurturing, and careers that favor teaching or working with those with disabilities would be appealing. Again, imagination and unpredictability is a theme—don't tie these cusps down!
Pisces-Aries: The fish meets the ram, and there is little compatibility in the environments these two animals favor. Fish live in water, and like to go with the flow. Rams enjoy rocky landscapes, and difficult terrain. Careers for this cusp would include "unfamiliar territory." Routine isn't as important as feeling like they are helping others.
There are many more details and "fine tuning" of each of these cusps in Astrology on the Cusp, and I really enjoyed talking to a wide variety of individuals about their lives "living on the edge," so to speak.
Sally Cragin (Massachusetts) is an astrologer and author who has published articles on astrology in newspapers across the country. She has written the astrology column for the Boston Phoenix since 1998, and can be heard live ...