What Is A Cusp In Astrology, And What Does It Mean For Your Sign?

If someone has ever called you a "cusper" after you've told them your birthday, it's okay if you had no clue what they were talking about. Cusps in astrology are a controversial subject to begin with, and a term mostly used to describe people born around the time zodiac seasons change. According to astrologer sisters The AstroTwins, "A cusp is a dividing line between two zodiac signs or houses." While there are hard and fast boundaries between when the sun is in one zodiac sign and another, being born on or near the shift to a new zodiac season makes you a "cusper."

There are a few factors in play that make the bridge between two zodiac seasons foggy. For one, our clock and calendar don't match up perfectly with the movement of the sun, stars, and planets, per Vice. This means that the start of a new zodiac season changes every year. This is why you have your zodiac birth chart read, you need to be very specific with your birthdate, down to the minute you were born. Just because the day started in one zodiac season, Bustle explains, doesn't mean the day will end in the same sign.

However, astrologer Annabel Gat wrote for Vice that in the years she's been practicing, she hasn't met or read a book written by a professional astrologer who believes that cusps make someone "a bit of each sign." What does matter, she says, is the degrees of planet placement inside your natal chart.

What are degrees in astrology?

When you are reading your natal chart, you can see the exact degree the sun or planets were in at the time of your birth. Each zodiac sign has 30 degrees that the sun passes through as it moves through the zodiac seasons, and as astrologer Lisa Stardust explains to Bustle, these degrees can have a major impact on your natal chart.

"0 degree of a cardinal sign (Aires, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) marks the season shift (equinox and solstice). It marks immediate change [and] action," she said, adding, "Any sign at 0 degrees increases the qualities and characters of the sign." But for those born between 29 degrees of one season and 0 degrees of another, Stardust warns it's not uncommon to struggle with your identity, depending on your sun sign.

Astrologer Donna Stellhorn adds that when you're born when the sun is at 29 degrees in a zodiac sign, it's not surprising if you feel like you feel everything more intensely, both wins and losses. "It's like the volume is turned up to ten on your life," she told Romper. If you're born at zero degrees, she adds, it's normal to feel stuck or overwhelmed by all of the different paths your life can take. Stellhorn warns, too, that those born when the sun is at zero degrees of a new zodiac season can get stuck in a loop where they keep trying to make something work.

Why your birth time matters so much in astrology

You can't find out the degrees the sun or planets fall in your zodiac birth chart without your exact birth time. "Even if someone was born on the day that the sun moved from one sign to the next," senior Astrology.com astrology Narayana Montúfar tells Refinery 29, "their sun sign will be determined by where the sun physically was at their exact moment of birth."

But your birth time doesn't just show where the sun was. Your chart has multiple planets, signs, and aspects that can impact who you are and what you will become, per Refinery 29. This is why, according to Bustle, you may feel like you have stronger personality traits linked to one sign over another, such as identifying with your rising or ascendant sign more than your sun.

Astrologer Kyle Thomas told Romper that it's not surprising if you identify more with your rising sign. "Your Rising Sign (Ascendant) also informs a great deal about your temperament," Thomas said. This, along with your sun and moon sign, are the most well-known and perhaps understood, aspects of your natal chart — but there are eight other planets in your natal chart placed in any of the zodiac signs. When turning to astrology, you can't rely on one aspect of your chart to help guide you. Each piece of the puzzle of you is needed to understand who you are on a big-picture scale, and the potential you have.