Critical Degrees: Striking Gold in Your Birth Chart
Astrology's degrees and minutes are worth their weight.
Have you ever looked at your horoscope and wondered what all those funny degrees and minutes are all about? Well, you're not alone!
One of the most confusing things about studying Astrology initially is getting a grasp on the mechanics behind a birth chart. In fact, before you read the rest of this article, look at your own birth chart so you can see what we're talking about as we break it down into degrees and minutes.
Math phobics out there tend to see the degree circle and minute sign and break out into a sweat. No worries -- you can relax: This is NOT advanced Calculus. In fact, after reading this short primer you'll know exactly what you're looking at in terms of degrees and minutes, no matter whose birth chart you've got in your hands.
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Let's start with decans
Let's begin with an explanation of how many degrees fill the horoscope wheel. We all know that there are 12 signs in the zodiac, but what you may not have known is that each sign is comprised of 30 degrees. Each zodiac sign will have three sets of decans contained within it -- and these decans all equal up to 30 degrees.
The first decan of any sign goes from 0 degrees to 9 degrees, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. The second decan goes from 10 degrees to 19 degrees, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds. The third decan goes from 20 degrees to 29 degrees, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds. This is true no matter which sign you're looking at. Also note, there are 60 minutes in every degree, but we don't use 60 minutes as a marker. Rather we go from 0 (and this is the 1st minute) to 59 minutes (which is really the 60th minute).
When you multiply 12 by 30 you get the magical number of 360. No matter whose horoscope you have in your hand, you can rest assured there are 360 degrees contained in it. No exceptions!
A fascinating parallel to these 360 degrees is that they represent one 24-hour day. Therefore, a birth chart in its entirety will represent the motion of one 24-hour day here on Earth.
When you look further into the 30 degrees contained in each sign, there's even more interesting significance. Certain degrees are believed to hold greater meaning in a birth chart than others. These degrees are commonly referred to as Critical degrees.
For the Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn), the critical degrees are 0, 13, and 26. For the Fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius), they are 8-9 degrees and 21-22 degrees. For the Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces), they are 4 and 17 degrees. Do you have a planet or sensitive angle in your chart at any of these degrees? If so, you can expect more of a focus in that area of your life.
Working with anaretic degrees
Furthermore, 0 degrees of any sign is considered a critical degree due to the karmic nature of being at the beginning of the sign. It is said that whatever planet or point is at 0 degrees will be in the early stages of learning lessons related to that point. Conversely, if a planet or point is at 29 degrees of any sign it is called an Anaretic Degree, and it symbolizes karmic completion related to that planet's or point's energy.
It is possible that if a person has a birth chart with many planets or angles at the Anaretic Degree he or she is a very old soul. There may be a sense of urgency or need to finish up something related to that planet or points energies as well.
So, what happens if a planet is at 29 degrees and 59 minutes? We saw this example with the birth of Prince George. He was born when the Sun was at the tail end of Cancer -- 29 degrees and 59 minutes. If he was born just a short time later, the Sun would have ingressed into 0 degrees Leo.
Cancer and Leo are very different energies! This is why knowing the degrees and minutes together of a planet or point is so vital. It helps us determine where a planet or point truly is astrologically. A planet at 29 degrees 59 minutes of any sign is still in that particular sign. Not to mention at a critical degree.
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What It Means If You Have "Critical Degrees" In Your Birth Chart
The deeper you dive into your birth chart , the more you see that astrology is about much more than your sun sign and daily horoscope. One of the many factors that influence a birth chart is the degrees of certain planets, with each sign having a specific "critical degree" at the time of your birth. Here's what the critical degrees are, plus what they say about your personality and life challenges, according to the AstroTwins .
What are the critical degrees.
As the twins explain to mbg, "In astrology, there are 'critical degrees' in the zodiac wheel that are thought to add an extra challenge when a planet arrives here, or is placed here at your time of birth." These critical degrees depend on whether you're looking at a cardinal , fixed , or mutable sign. (You can calculate your birth chart here to find out the degrees in your chart!)
Here are the critical degrees for the signs at a glance:
- Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn): 0, 13, and 26 degrees
- Fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius): 8-9 and 21-22 degrees
- Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces): 4 and 17 degrees
Venus in Taurus at 9 degrees would be considered a critical degree, for example, or Mercury in Capricorn at 26 degrees.
What does it mean if you have critical degrees in your chart?
Critical degrees tend to signal a challenge in the zodiac chart. As the twins explain, critical degrees "can add some extra heft to the planet's influence in your chart because you have to work a little harder in this area of life." They add that in some ways, having critical degrees in your chart is comparable to being born with a planet that's retrograde .
"While you may have extra struggles," they note, "pushing through will make you unstoppable and self-sufficient in ways other people may never achieve."
And of course, because nothing in astrology is black and white, the twins add that it's important to remember any degree can be significant in a chart if the planet forms an aspect (a special angle that's either 0°, 60°, 90°, 120° or 180°) to another planet in the chart. "That sets up a dialogue between the two (or more!) planets that has them working together or at cross purposes for you," they explain.
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As you discover more about what your birth chart means—and how it influences you—understanding the degrees of the planets in particular signs can help you figure out where you may face certain challenges and how best to approach them.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
Degrees in Astrology, Explained
By Katie Robinson
July 21, 2022
With 360 degrees in a birth chart, a lot can be misconstrued. Let’s say you’re new to this and you just start learning about zodiac signs, the birth chart , and even the Houses in the birth chart . Did you know the degrees in the Houses in the birth chart mean something too?
If you’re ready to go deeper, we asked astrologer Maisy Bristol to tell us more about degrees, why they’re so important to the birth chart, and how to interpret them.
Degrees in a Birth Chart
As mentioned above, there are 360 degrees in a birth chart—which means 30 degrees, per sign, per House. “It’s a lot to take in,” Bristol says. “But, once you understand a few very important degrees, you can apply it to every House and sign .”
While there are 360 degrees in the chart, astrologers look at them in segments of 30. So, really, there are just 30 degrees to define, remember, and use while looking at charts.
READ MORE: Houses in the Birth Chart: What Do They Mean?
As Bristol mentions, there are a few very important degrees in the birth chart, called “critical degrees.” According to her, “the critical degrees represent the three modalities of the zodiac: cardinal , fixed , and mutable .”
So, why is this important? Well, any time a planet lands within a critical degree, it suggests that we’ll have some extra challenges there to overcome. And, of course, all of this is in relation to the modality of the critical degree, the zodiac sign that the planet is in, the meaning of the planet, and the House that it falls in.
“This may sound daunting,” says Bristol, “but critical degrees are there to provide insight into the life lessons that you are meant to learn in this life. They can be really insightful!”
To make things easier, Bristol broke down the critical degrees for us:
- 0, 13, 26 degrees = cardinal signs ( Aries , Cancer , Libra , Capricorn )
- 8–9, 21–22 degrees = fixed signs ( Taurus , Leo , Scorpio , Aquarius )
- 4 and 17 degrees = mutable signs ( Gemini , Virgo , Sagittarius , Pisces )
How to Interpret Degrees
Depending on which modality your critical degrees fall, you might tend to: over-express (cardinal), under-express (fixed), or choose a path of ambivalence (mutable). Here, we’ll cover what each means and how it may pose challenges.
READ MORE: What’s My Big 6 in Astrology?
0, 13, 26 Degrees (Cardinal)
If you have planets that land in one of the cardinal critical degrees, this means that you’re likely to overexert or overestimate in those areas. For example, if your Venus sign (planet of relationships) is stationed at 13 degrees Aries in your birth chart, that means you may be overly impatient, risky, or bored in your relationships—and will likely be hard to pin down.
Bristol points out that whenever a sign is at 0 degrees (or 29 degrees, for that matter), the sign is working at its fullest potential, according to Bristol. “Any sign placement at 0 degrees is likely to embody all of what that sign stands for,” she says.
8-9 and 21-22 Degrees (Fixed)
For the fixed degrees, this will likely appear as a shield, according to Bristol. “Fixed critical degrees give that placement a sense of restriction, restraint, or fear about the possibility of ‘letting loose.’”
The sense here is that to express or to openly show vulnerability is to be weak or to risk getting hurt. So, you can apply this kind of sentiment to the sign and planet shown in the fixed critical degree.
She gives an example of the moon at 9 degrees Virgo. This person might be so critical of their feelings, and of others, that it might be extremely difficult for them to share.
READ MORE: Types of Full Moons
4 and 17 Degrees (Mutable)
With the mutable degrees, these placements do not provide a sense of “overdoing” or of “restraint.” Instead, they provide indifference, according to Bristol. She explains that this placement has much more trouble taking a hard stance on the energies provided here—whereas the other two placements have more trouble either doing too much or avoiding entirely .
An example of this might be if Mars was placed at 4 degrees Cancer. This individual would likely experience great challenges regarding bringing up feelings and how others have affected them.
What is ‘degree theory’ in astrology?
Degree theory is different from critical degrees. Invented by Nikola Stojanovic, this concept suggests that every degree in the 30-degree Houses have a purpose or tell a story. Her notion was that as you get farther away from 0 degrees, the energy of the sign becomes less and less or more transformed into something different.
This can be applied to the energy of the sign but also to the energy of the planet that the sign is in. For example, Venus at 0 degrees Taurus would show up much differently from Mercury at 0 degrees Taurus. Likewise, Venus at 0 degrees Taurus would show up differently than Venus at 0 degrees Gemini.
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Critical Degrees and the 29th Degree (Anaretic) in Astrology
Critical & Anaretic Degrees
Critical Degrees and 29 Degrees (the 29th Degree) in Astrology
Classic critical degrees are as follows:
0, 13, and 26 degrees of the cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn)
8-9 and 21-22 degrees of fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius); and
4 and 17 degrees of mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces).
These are considered sensitive, and sometimes strengthening, points. If a natal planet is found in a critical degree, that planet is thought to be emphasized and to assume more power in the life of the native due to its placement.
Many astrologers consider 0 and 29 degrees of any sign critical degrees as well. The 0 and 29 degrees are more crisis-oriented points, especially in predictive work.
NOTE: While the 29th Degree is a term used by astrologers (it’s also known as the Anaretic degree), technically it’s the 30th degree . It actually refers to a planet or body positioned anywhere from 29°00’00” to 29°59’59” .
If a natal planet is found at 29 degrees of any sign , also known as the Anaretic degree, there can be some real issues with decision-making in that part of the personality represented by the energies of the planet. The native may evaluate and re-evaluate situations before making a move one day, and the next day, jump into the action without listening to himself or herself! For example, if Mars is at 29 degrees, the native may devise many plans of actions, worry excessively about the possible actions and different routes to take, and then execute a spontaneous action that is contrary to the decision!
I know a woman whose Juno is at 29 degrees, and despite the fact that she has many theories about taking relationships seriously, jumps into them quickly. A man with 29 degrees of Mercury agonizes over decisions in his life and vacillates between talking too much and too little.
While the classic critical degrees above are thought to give added strength to the planet or body, the anaretic degree is more of a debilitating position.
In progressions , when, for example, the Sun enters the 29th degree, the native’s year can be crisis-oriented. If the Sun progresses to 29 degrees of Libra, for example, the sense of urgency and crisis can surround relationships. Divorce or jumping into a new partnership rather blindly may be the result of this urgency. If the Sun progresses to 29 degrees of Virgo, a big change might be made in work. Generally, decisions made at the time of the 29th degree can be hasty.
Because the progressed Moon moves the fastest of the planets, we encounter more Anaretic degrees of the Moon than we do with other planets and luminaries. The secondary progressed Moon makes a complete circle of the chart and the signs approximately every 28 years, so we encounter 12 Anaretic degrees of progressed Moon per 28-year period (every 2-1/2 years or so).
When counseling a parent of a child in university, I noticed that her daughter’s progressed Moon was at 29 degrees transiting the ninth house. Uranus was also transiting her daughter’s ninth house and coming to a square to her Sun. I counseled the parent to watch her daughter carefully at this time, because she might be inclined to either make radical, hasty changes in her area of study or even decide to drop out altogether. In fact, the daughter did quit university and took a job despite her parent’s urging her not to make the decision. She later regretted the decision to drop out and returned to university to finish her degree.
In her book, The Art of Predictive Astrology: Forcasting Your Life Events , Carol Rushman puts forth a compelling case for the importance of critical degrees, including classic ones mentioned at the top of this article, in predictive work using the progressed Moon.
Don’t know the positions of your planets? Be sure to find out your personal astrology data online, at no cost.
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Critical Degrees In Astrology & How They Affect You
By Leslie Hale — Written on Oct 26, 2022
Many people know where their personal planets , such as the Sun, Moon, and Venus, fall in their natal chart.
The planets fall into a certain house in a particular sign, each of which makes up 30 degrees for a total of 360 degrees in a birth chart, and each part of this tells us something about the chart, person, or situation we are looking at.
This is only part of the astrological equation, however, and another important part of the puzzle concerns the degrees of the planets.
The most important planetary degrees in astrology
Degrees in astrology tell us a great deal, such as how one planet blends or reacts with another planet in the chart.
Some planetary degrees are more important than others, however, and carry more weight.
RELATED: How To Read A Natal Chart & Find Your Purpose In Life
1. 0 degrees
When a planet falls at 0 degrees, it exists in its pure and undiluted form and becomes quite powerful.
Sometimes astrologers refer to 0 degrees as the ‘world point,’ since a significant planet entering this degree can typically affect us all on some level.
For example, in 2008, Pluto entered the sign Capricorn for the first time in 248 years at 0 degrees. Pluto’s entrance into Capricorn coincided with the bank crisis in the US that became known as ‘The Great Recession,’ which had major ramifications around the world for years.
In 2010, Uranus ingressed or moved into the sign of Aries at 0 degrees creating a square, or a difficult aspect, with Pluto in Capricorn. Almost immediately, Arab Spring began, ushering in a period of turmoil in the Middle East.
2. 29 degrees
This is known as the ‘Anaretic degree.’ The Anaretic degree is associated with a sense of urgency or a last-ditch effort to wrap up or accomplish something.
When a planet is at 29°, there is often a feeling of having only a short time to correct things. This can result in jumping into something you aren’t ready or prepared for without giving it enough forethought. Decision-making can be affected adversely as can critical thinking.
Some astrologers believe that when a planet hits the 29th degree it can coincide with situations that have gone too far for an individual to have control over any situation this planet is affecting. Either way, if something is occurring that involves a planet at the 29th degree of any sign, critical thinking and keeping your feet on the ground becomes extremely important.
The 29th degree can also coincide with endings such as divorce, breakups, or job change or loss.
For example, on April 20th, 2010, the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, resulting in the death of 11 workers and becoming the largest oil spill in history. The planet Saturn was at 29 degrees of Virgo when this occurred.
These are only a few examples of how powerful certain degrees can be, and this can occur in the collective or on a personal level.
RELATED: The 10 Most Challenging Zodiac Placements In Astrology
Other critical degrees in astrology for each zodiac sign
0 and 29 degrees are the most important in terms of critical degrees in astrology but there are a few more that are somewhat significant.
Bear in mind that a ‘critical degree’ is not always bad, but things can come to a head one way or another. It is a sensitive point in the chart that is worth watching and considering because when a transiting planet aspects it, whatever the planet represents in your chart will be activated. There can be an additional focus, intensity, or a crisis, depending on what the planet and aspect are.
Related Stories From YourTango:
- Cardinal signs (Cancer, Libra, Aries, and Capricorn): 13 degrees and 26 degrees
- Fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius): 8 or 9 degrees and 21 or 22 degrees
- Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces): 4 degrees and 17 degrees
How to tell if you have critical degrees in your natal chart
If you would like to determine if you have any critical degrees in your own chart, the first thing to do is to complete a free birth chart calculator . It’s easy to enter your information into the chart calculator. Once calculated, there is generally a list that details the planet and the degree on the same page that is simple to read. It should show you the name of the planet in your chart and its degree.
The next step would be to determine what house or part of your chart this planet falls in. If you find that you have a critical degree in one of these houses , you can go back and think about situations that have occurred throughout life in the area described by the planet. These are typically areas you need to pay more attention to and work on.
For example, let’s say you have Saturn at 29 degrees in your second house . Since this is the area that concerns earned income and money you would need to stay on top of your money and make it a priority to save for a rainy day, as well as thoroughly think through all important financial decisions or even seek advice from experts.
RELATED: What Empty Houses In Your Birth Chart Mean In Astrology
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Critical Points: The First and Final Degrees of a Sign
by Frank Clifford
Editor’s Note: This article appeared in The Mountain Astrologer December 2012 and is reprinted with permission.
In this column, I’ll be looking at the first degree and, in particular, the last degree of a sign and their significance. I’ve chosen three examples where the Sun is at 29° of that most enigmatic sign, Scorpio .
When a planet is at the very beginning of a sign, it has moved into new territory (a new element and mode) and is in dialogue with that sign’s planetary ruler.
In the natal chart, planets or points at 0° of a sign take a stance that either indulges in or embraces the very pure, undiluted nature of the sign. There’s a fresh, unstudied quality to a planet at this degree. Some of the most familiar, prima facie traits linked to that sign will be obvious in the person’s nature, but the sign’s true essence and the challenges the planet must face and embrace on its journey are just being discovered and are yet to be mastered. Simply put, there’s a new language to learn and much work to be done. Embarking on this voyage, the planet at 0° appears highly eager to encounter that which it will become.
When a planet Solar Arc directs to a new sign, this indicates a “year of getting to know and beginning to experience the essence of that sign In some ways it’s a portent – a signpost indicating much of what we can expect for the next thirty years condensed (and intensely heightened) into the first twelve months.” (1) Astrologer Fernando Guimaraes suggested to me that the first degree is like an “operatic overture,” an introduction that sets the mood for what will follow.
The Middle Degrees
Planets or points at the middle degrees, from 14° to 16°, appear to be truly entrenched in that sign’s raison d’être. When in a cardinal sign, the planet/point is fully engaged in the process of moving forward and encountering challenge and conflict. In mid fixed degrees, the planet is at its most permanent, solid, and durable but sometimes becomes stagnant or stuck. In mutable, it is at its most versatile and diverse but precarious, scattered, and prone to fluctuation and instability.
The Final Degree: Poised for Change
Known as the anaretic degree or “degree of fate,” the final degree (29°) is often given a negative spin. Astrologer Richard Swatton reminded me that, according to traditional bounds and dignities by term, the malefics rule the final degrees of all the signs. Some horary practitioners observe that the querent can do nothing to affect the outcome; it’s simply too late to have control over a situation.
Natally: Whereas the 0° planet is taking initial steps on the road ahead to envision, discover, and create its journey, the 29° planet senses inevitability, irrevocability, and finality – the end of a familiar path. But a planet at the final degree has a “knowingness” about it; it’s a seasoned player, very skilled in that sign, having earned its stripes. Those of us with a natal planet at 29° – though we’re equipped to deal with issues linked to the sign – will likely encounter some of the most challenging facets of that planet-in-sign’s meaning in our lifetime. There may also be a desire to understand what has already happened that cannot be undone – a lifelong mission to resolve and come to terms with these issues which we seem to have been saddled with at birth.
In Forecasting: When a planet reaches the final degree by Solar Arc direction (where it stays for a year), we are poised for change but must attend to pertinent, sometimes crisis situations (relevant to that sign) and resolve these before we move on to a new scenario. As the closing of a chapter, there’s the anticipation of transition, of stepping into the unknown, and a sense of urgency to wrap things up (or a last chance to get it right) “before it’s too late.”
Positively, that which has been mastered – skills that have been acquired – can be put to good use in these twelve months. This is where the last degree can truly come into its own. It can be a year of distinction and wrapping up a long period of endeavour. In 1997, intrepid British politician Mo Mowlam worked to restore an IRA ceasefire in Northern Ireland and persuaded various sides to participate in the peace process – all during a time when she was fighting a brain tumour. Mowlam was instrumental in the signing of the Good Friday Peace Agreement on April 10, 1998, when her SA Saturn had reached 29° Libra (chart not shown). She retired from Parliament two years later. In hindsight, it’s clear that her historic work had been completed.
By Solar Return, a year with 29° on the Ascendant can have the same sense of finality, or an understanding of the difficulties inherent in that sign. A few years ago, when my own Solar Return Ascendant was at 29° Libra, it coincided with the end of my marriage. During those twelve months, I met three people who would be influential in my life, all of whom had the Moon or Ascendant at this degree. Through these people, I learned much about the chronic indecision and second-guessing inherent in the final degree of Libra, as well as the importance attributed to making the right decision.
Queen of the Court, Master of the Game
Firstly, with the Moon at 0° Libra, Billie Jean King was an early advocate for equal prize money for women ath- letes, and in the 1970s she became an American figurehead of the struggle for female equality. Yet, King is someone who hates confrontation and, with her Moon-Neptune conjunction, was never quite comfortable with the feminist ideology of the time, which she felt could be intolerant and doctrinaire. In a chapter of her autobiography, Always on the Cusp , she wrote, “I don’t believe you can legislate people’s minds. I believe that it is persuasion you need, not force.” (2)
With King’s Sun at the final degree, the buck stops with her. She was born (Sun) to take control (Scorpio) and complete (29°) some Scorpio theme. And which facets of Scorpio has she instinctively known how to harness? What in her Scorpio nature is exaggerated? Scorpio is a politically savvy sign that experiences (and is adept at han- dling) crises and extremes. At the final degree, in Scorpio, the following may be greatly in evidence: lifelong compul- sions; a steely will, tunnel vision, and total intensity one-on-one; an unflinching focus on the final, ultimate goal (be that victory or an obsession with death and endings); an ability to execute under pressure; an all-or-nothing, winner-take-all philosophy; authenticity and integrity; emotional inscrutability; and an innate understanding of the relationship between power, money, and gender. King is known to demand total attention from others and to pour all of herself into whatever she does (Scorpio).
For King, the Sun at 29° Scorpio reveals her involvement with, and impact on, gender politics, as well as the influence she has had on sponsorship and prize money in the women’s game. (The eighth sign, like its corresponding house, has links to “other people’s money.”) This Sun placement was not without heavy personal consequences: She had to keep her (homo)sexuality hidden because the newly founded women’s tennis tour and her own livelihood depended on secrecy. When news of her abortion and homosexual affair was made public, many of her endorsements evaporated, but she kept on fighting (Scorpio).
The final degree of Scorpio knows how to play the game – to suss out the competition and devise a strat- egy. When King agreed to participate in a Battle of the Sexes tennis match, she needed nerves of steel to beat hustler Bobby Riggs, who had defeated the women’s #1 player in the world, Margaret Court. The match was heavy with political significance (Scorpio). King knew what victory truly meant and had what it took! Riggs, with Sagittarius rising and Jupiter on the Descendant in Gemini, was a born promoter and gambler looking to be a major player of a Big Event (chart not shown). Given King’s Sun in Scorpio square Jupiter in Leo, it could be argued that it was her “destiny” to accept a heroic challenge and “kill off” patriarchal chauvinism. So, where were you when Billie Jean beat Bobby Riggs?
The Houston Astrodome, September 20, 1973, just weeks after King had successfully lobbied for equal prize money for women at the U.S. Open; 30,000 spectators; 40 million in front of their televisions. Uranus and Pluto were traversing the sign of Libra – a simple divide: women vs. men. The cameras started rolling at 8:00 p.m. Billie Jean King, current Wimbledon champ of 1973 and in her prime, took on Bobby Riggs, Wimbledon winner of 1939, a 55-year-old self-styled male chauvinist, and an out-of-shape clown. The scene was set for a match between the sublime and the slightly ridiculous.
On that night (chart not shown), Venus and Mars were in opposition and mutual reception: What a perfect planetary setup for a “battle of the sexes”! Venus in powerful, premeditated, and poker-faced Scorpio stood less than one degree opposite Mars in solid but slow Taurus, which had turned retrograde the day before. King stayed focused and made Riggs look old and slow. It was a tactical (Scorpio) win for majestic King, while chauvinist pig Riggs squealed and spread rumours that the outcome may have been, er, rigged.
Not surprisingly, at the time of this sports circus extravaganza, King’s Sun had directed/progressed to 29° Sagittarius. (3) It was an over-the-top, surreal spectacle befitting Sagittarius: one night of raucous high drama, hyperbole, and publicity on the world stage, which would overshadow the lifelong sporting achievements of both athletes. The win over Riggs would give King and her cause professional credibility (the Sun directed from Sagittarius to Capricorn soon after).
With transiting Saturn in Cancer in an exact square to Pluto in Libra, the larger question in the air was: Should women attain equal power (Pluto in Libra), or stay at home and feel bound to a life of domesticity (Saturn in Cancer)? At the time of the Equal Rights Amendment, the Education Act, and Roe v. Wade, Billie Jean gave Women’s Lib a mainstream face and legitimized women’s tennis. In victory, King slew myths about women and weakness, and hit the first sporting strike for gender equality and freedom of choice (natal Moon at 0° Libra); her win sounded a death knell to male chauvinists who had perpetuated the myth of sexual inequality (her Sun at 29° Scorpio).
Provocative in the Extreme
In a series of more than 100 articulate but hard-hitting, provocative monologues on YouTube, he has challenged religion and the beliefs of religious zealots (particularly those who follow Islam). To many people, he is an intolerant, ignorant bigot and xenophobe who incites racial hatred (and his Web site chronicles the numerous death threats he’s received). To others, he is the daring voice of rational atheism in a society fearful of reprisals and crippled by Saturnian political correctness.
Condell’s issue is not with God, he says, but with religious dogma and the people who “take it upon themselves to police the rest of us on His behalf.” An early awareness of (and frustration with) hypocrisy and excess is common when evangelical Sagittarius is dominant (his Moon and Ascendant are in that sign). The son of a compulsive gambler who was controlled by his obsessions (Scorpio) and worked in a betting shop, Condell soon became aware of “the gulf between what people profess to believe and how they actually behave.” (4) The political edge, provocative bluntness, and satirical “bite” of Condell’s message, as well as extreme reactions from others which have brought him immense notoriety, are reflected in his Sun-Mercury conjunction at 29° Scorpio. And broadcasting to camera on YouTube, he also gets the last word.
The End of Power
To get a final feel for the last degree of Scorpio as a “hotly political” degree, consider the horoscope for Margaret Thatcher’s resignation (not shown). Facing the humiliation of defeat in a leadership contest and a lack of support from colleagues, the three-time Prime Minister signed her resignation statement at dawn (7:35 a.m.) on November 22, 1990. (5) The Sun and Ascendant were at 29° Scorpio. Thatcher never recovered from the betrayal, branding it “treachery with a smile on its face.” It was the end of her “acid reign” – eleven ruthless, controversial years in power.
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Chart Data and Sources
Pat Condell: Fittingly for a final-degree Scorpio, Condell asked that his birth data (given to the author) be kept confidential; however, the source is rated A: from memory. Whitney Houston: August 9, 1963; 8:55 p.m. EDT; Newark, NJ, USA (40°N44′, 74°W10′); AA: from birth certificate, obtained by Kathryn Farmer, copy on file. Billie Jean King: November 22, 1943; 11:45 a.m. PWT; Long Beach, CA, USA (33°N46′, 118°W11′); AA: from birth certificate, obtained by Doris Chase Doane. Mo Mowlam: September 18, 1949; time unknown; Watford, England (51°N40′, 0°W25′); X: from various online sources. Bobby Riggs: February 25, 1918; 1:00 a.m. PST; Los Angeles, CA, USA (34°N03′, 118°W14′); AA: from birth certificate, obtained by Michel and Francoise Gauquelin.
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1. Frank C. Clifford, Solar Arc Directions , Flare, 2011, p. 11.
2. Billie Jean King with Frank Deford, Billie Jean , The Viking Press, 1982; additional infor- mation from Selena Roberts, A Necessary Spec- tacle , Crown, 2005.
3. Also, the Astro*Carto*Graphy line for King’s Jupiter (natally in Leo) sets through Houston, and her Local Space Jupiter line runs nearby.
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What Are Critical Degrees In Astrology And How Do They Affect You
Astrology is so much more than your sun sign -– and if you've spent any amount of time tracking your transits or looking into your birth chart, you'll know there's a lot the stars can show you about all the ways your life might unfold. And even though all charts have the same basic features (signs, planets, houses, aspects, etc.), everyone's chart is unique to them. "Astrology has the capacity to re–attune a person's consciousness to his or her essential nature," writes astrologer Stephen Arroyo in "The Chart Interpretation Handbook." And by studying the cosmic connections in your chart, you can get one step closer to discovering how to leave your mark on the world.
Reading deep into your natal chart is an excellent way to get to know yourself. And as astrologer Kyle Thomas explains, the aspects and degrees in your birth chart provide the link between how all of your planets are communicating with one another. These aspects are calculated with mathematical precision –- with each degree symbolizing a different energy. These points in your chart work together to create a powerful picture of the person you are and the version of yourself you aspire to be. And if you're someone who aspires to make a name for yourself –- or maybe you've just always felt called to a certain dream –- you might be interested to know that the answer to whether you'll obtain fame, fortune, acclaim, and more might be hiding within the critical degrees of your birth chart, via Keen .
What are critical degrees in astrology?
Certain degrees are believed to hold special significance when found within a birth chart. It's thought that a planet that falls within the bounds of a critical degree will have an emphasized importance and influence on a person's life. "Critical degrees are there to provide insight into the life lessons that you are meant to learn in this life," astrologer Maisy Bristol tells Astrology . Your birth chart is laid out on a 360°circle that's divided between the twelve zodiac signs. Each zodiac sign occupies 30° of your birth chart and is then further divided into three decans of 10° each. These decans hold the key to understanding which degrees affect which zodiac signs –- and how it makes your path unique to those around you. "If you've ever wondered why people born with the same sign seem different, decans can help answer this puzzle," astrologer Rachel Lang tells Well+Good .
Critical degrees mark the beginning and end points of each decan –- and can give additional context to understanding your birth chart. The classic critical degrees are 0°, 13°, and 26° of the Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn); 8° and 9°, and 21°and 22° degrees of fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius); and 4° and 17° degrees of mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces), per astrologer Bob Makransky . Additionally, 0° and 29° of any sign is considered a critical degree due to the karmic nature of being at the beginning or end of the sign, per Cafe Astrology .
How to work with critical degrees in your birth chart
As you dive deeper into the patterns of your birth chart and learn how everything influences you, the degree a planet falls in can "... give insight into the way energy is being represented or repressed in your birth chart," per Saturn Revolution . For example, having a critical degree in your sun, moon, or rising will influence how you tend to show up in the world, whereas a critical degree in a placement like your Mars or Venus indicates a major focus on your passion and love life. Once you've looked to find the critical degrees in the planetary placements of your chart, you can expand your search to the degrees on the house cusps as well.
When a planet is at the very beginning degrees of a sign, it symbolizes an area of your life where you are exploring new territory. Planets that fall within the middle degrees between 14° to 16° can pinpoint where you feel stuck or conflicted in life with hopes of moving forward. And finally, the "degree of fate" or the final degree (29°) is emblematic of a final lesson being learned and karmic cycles coming to a close, per Astrology University . Each of these phases has its own challenges and rewards, so rather than focus on the overwhelming task at hand –- try looking at critical degrees in your birth chart as an opportunity to put your best cosmic foot forward.
Critical & Anaretic Degrees
Bob Makransky 2001
Classic critical degrees are 0, 13, and 26 degrees of the cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn); 8-9 and 21-22 degrees of fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius); and 4 and 17 degrees of mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces). These are considered sensitive, and sometimes strengthening, points. If a natal planet is found in a critical degree, that planet is emphasized and assumes more power in the life of the native due to its placement. The Anaretic Degree, sometimes also called the Karmic Degree, is most often referred to as the 29th degree.
As helpless as baby kittens are, when a stranger approaches they hiss and spit and kick up a fuss, and make a fine show of bravery. Human beings are rather frail creatures too, with great pretensions. Behind all their hissing and spitting they possess a sheer gumption which is peculiarly human and is most noticeable in moments of stress and harassment. In the horoscope it is shown by the critical degrees.
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The Power Degrees of the Zodiac
By frank c. clifford.
The first, middle and final degrees in each of the signs carry specific and potent messages, whether in the natal horoscope or directed/progressed charts. Here, a range of horoscopes of famous people and events is analysed to demonstrate the spectrum of meanings across these highly-charged degrees
I’ll be paying close attention to the final degree of Scorpio – we astrologers know that it’s fatal to ignore any degree of Scorpio. And, as we know, Mars is at this degree tonight (Friday 12 September 2014).
The mundane picture
On a mundane level, we know that when outer planets transit the final few degrees of a sign, we say goodbye to certain aspects (and iconic figures) that have been at the heart of that ingress; it’s the end of an era. As these planets ingress into a new sign, we can spot signposts of events to come – the mood of the new transit. And the scene is set for the years ahead.
Films and music released at this time can be prophetic. Remember, for instance, the voyeuristic theme of The Truman Show , which was released as Neptune moved into Aquarius – and heralded the start of our fascination with (and loathing of) reality TV?
Laws passed at ingresses can herald the new planetary season. Some weeks after Uranus made its ingress into Aries, France became the first European country to prohibit the niqab and burka. The planet Uranus is linked to bans and censorship, while Aries rules the face and is concerned with being the first to do things. Accordingly it was a controversial move that had both sides arguing equality – and freedom of expression. ‘Bans in the name of freedom’ seem to be the order of Uranus in Aries!
Neptune’s move into the first degree of Pisces brought more than a whiff of scandal. There were stories about invasions. Not invasions of little green men from outer space abducting farmers in Middle America and performing surgery on cows. But the invasions of privacy and the abduction of personal data. We read of leaks and infiltrations, cyber warfare and phone-hacking. Who can forget The News of the World scandal? Perhaps some of the biggest battles of this transit will revolve around the processing and containment of information, and the collection, sale and distribution of personal data. And by the end of this transit, there will be little left of personal privacy.
A few years ago, in The Astrological Journal , I wrote that Neptune in Pisces might be seen in:
• The increasing numbers of migrations of nomadic communities without a fixed abode; • Telepathic forms of everyday communication; • The erosion of drugs laws and acceptance of certain drugs for medical purposes, and a greater tolerance for euthanasia.
The transit might also link to areas ruled by its opposite sign of Virgo: from the disappearance of a retirement age, to diseases, viruses and plagues, and to the evaporation of pensions and health care provisions.
0° in the natal chart
So, let’s take a closer look at the first degree – zero degrees – of a sign. When a planet is at 0° in the natal chart:
• There is new territory to explore. As it takes its initial steps into its new surroundings, the planet delights in discovering itself. It anticipates the new journey ahead. • There is a new language to learn and much work to be done; a planet at the beginning of a sign is keen to grasp that sign’s essence. Embarking on this voyage, the planet appears highly eager to encounter and get a sense of that which it will become . • It revels in the pure, undiluted nature of the sign. There’s a fresh, unstudied quality to a planet at this degree. There may also be a pioneering feel – those of us who have a planet (especially a personal planet) at 0° have something original to bring forth to the world around us. • There is a tendency to exhibit the sign’s most familiar, obvious, prima facie, ‘textbook’ traits. The planet at 0° indulges in a spectrum of sign connotations and associations, but as yet there’s little deftness or experience in how to master the sign. The planet has grasped the initial spirit without the awareness that comes from journeying through the sign and mastering its essence.
Let’s consider a few pop culture and newsworthy examples.
There’s little subtlety when the Sun is at 0° Aries. Overt, playful sexuality is one theme of 0° Aries. The independent film-maker Russ Meyer was obsessed with low-budget sexploitation films. He directed cult X-rated ‘classics’ such as Vixen! and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! featuring Amazonian starlets, with gargantuan, pneumatic, gravity-defying breasts, who ran around beating up men who dared to restrict their freedom. (We can see that his chart also contains Venus in Aries opposite Jupiter, Moon–Jupiter, and Mars in Sagittarius on the Descendant.)
Meyer made comedies and ‘cartoons’ and mocked moral stereotypes, using sex to satirise American society, but many feminists hated his adolescent Arien fantasies. He was known for his quick wit, and once he was confronted by a woman who accused him of being ‘nothing but a breast man’. He responded, ‘That’s only the half of it.’
On a deeper level (if there is one!), the first degree of Aries is about a truthful performance, creating something stark and raw. There’s a focus on making an impact, and a self-obsession with one’s arrival onto the scene. And we sense immediacy (entering the fray without a plan of attack) and the need for instant arousal and speed, as in Ayrton Senna (Sun at 0° Aries), the Formula One race car legend who died from massive head injuries while racing at 280km/h (155 mph). Sports enthusiasts still argue whether he was a reckless renegade or the number one racer of all time.
Aries is a sign associated with physicality and violence (giving or receiving), and also (somewhat paradoxically) associated with blind faith, naïve trust and innocence.
I have a client with the Sun at 0° Aries whose father once described both her childlike innocence and her fearlessness. That’s the key to the first degree of Aries. He said she could have singlehandedly taken on those in the Brixton Riots, but could also be found out in the fields talking to the magical fairies and angels she believed in. She is a startling redhead who was at the forefront of many social protests and political rallies in the 1980s; someone who has fought for the underdog but is constantly too trusting and gullible in business. She gives away her time and money – and struggles to keep financially afloat. This placement defines her.
The first degree of Aries needs a clear-cut cause – now! – and sees the world in black and white terms. Not through the lens of cynicism, but through the simple polarities of good and evil, right and wrong: to 0° Aries, you’re either the noble knight or the immoral charlatan.
Gemini at 0° has perhaps the lowest boredom threshold of all time and constantly needs to be ‘in process’ – juggling, scanning, choosing. A planet at this degree immediately sees the polarities, the contradictions, the alternatives and divisions in the world – and it’s not surprising that indecision can be a major factor. Its enthusiasm lies in getting other people to share information, to break the ice, speak out and communicate. The urge to be heard, understood and in dialogue is strongest here, as is the flicker of boredom in the eyes when something newer or more tantalizing comes along.
Picture Henry VIII with Venus at 0° Gemini (suggesting fickleness and a non-committal stance in the area of women and attraction). With Venus on the MC, he was known for his numerous wives and his search for one who could deliver – literally and quickly.
But wait, all of the above are Gemini traits and themes, whatever the degree of Gemini. But the nature of the sign is undiluted, simplified, most obvious and raring to go when a planet is at 0°.
What of 0° Virgo? As astrologer Kim Farley often says, ‘After the party of Leo, someone’s got to clean up.’ Someone’s got to dip their toe in and check the temperature – and look for hairs in the bath. And that’s Virgo.
At this degree, there’s a determination to learn a craft and embark upon the simple life. The understanding here is that to achieve, one must sign up to an apprenticeship, to be of service to a greater good, to have pure intentions, and to attend to the body and its needs. If 0° Leo is the degree of helping oneself to something , then 0° Virgo is the degree of ‘self-help’, a solo journey towards making a difference in the world. There’s a belief that one’s singular efforts can make a difference – if one works hard enough – and that the simple things in life are the most profound. These are things that truly touch the soul. Bob Geldof (with Mars at 0° Virgo) saw the clarity of one man making a difference – he responded to the plight of the starving in Ethiopia. Famine relief, health, (mal)nutrition and the overlooked are all of great concern to the earnest planet positioned at 0° Virgo.
0° in forecasting
When a planet reaches 0° by transit, progression or solar arc (take your pick), there’s a major shift and a new script. The planet has changed sign, element and mode. In forecasting, I use solar arc directions, where everything in the chart (the planets, angles, house cusps, even retrograde planets) moves forward a degree a year.
With solar arc, each planet, angle or point stays at 0° for twelve months, and this sets the mood for the longer period to come. It’s a portent, a signpost of what we can expect for the next thirty years. A sort of ‘operatic overture’ – a condensed, intensely heightened period during which we are swamped by images of this new sign and we experience issues around it. It’s a year of getting to know, and beginning to work out, the essence of that sign.
An important point to remember is that when a planet ingresses into a sign, it ‘speaks to’ and begins to activate every planet/angle natally in that sign, regardless of the actual degree. This is the ‘natal memory’ – what the person knows of the sign from birth. So that initial year at 0° will have a flavour of the new sign and will be tinged by any natal positions in that sign.
Whether the transition to a new sign is easy or fraught depends on numerous things, including the planets waiting in the new sign. The week after singer Diana Ross’s Sun directed into Gemini, her husband announced the end of their marriage – on live TV! Her Sun (already in the 7th house) had left the safety and stability of Taurus – the sign of her Moon and Descendant – and moved into somewhat uncomfortable, unstable ground in Gemini (where Mars, Saturn and Uranus sit). Her MC had also reached the final degree of Libra – and apparently there had been a last attempt at relationship mediation but the relationship had come to an end, as did the public’s perception of her fairy tale romance (natal Neptune in Libra).
The middle degrees in natal charts and forecasting
When a planet is placed in the middle degrees of a sign, from 14° to 16°, the planet appears to be truly ensconced in that sign’s raison d’être . It’s caught up in the midst of living in that sign and dealing with its key issues; there’s a strong feeling that things won’t change for some time. Sometimes it can feel like a mid-way (mid-life) crisis where there’s a demand to understand the core challenges of a sign, knowing you have to keep ploughing on with no reprieve or change of scenery for a while. A solar arc planet in mid-Virgo, for instance, will be in the centre of chaos or bedlam for that year – snowed under with work, or perhaps dealing with health issues throw the person off kilter.
When in a cardinal sign, the planet/point is fully engaged in the process of moving forward, getting things done and encountering challenge and conflict. It’s often a decisive period in a battle. Many people who engage in the cut and thrust of politics have personal planets at cardinal middle degrees. There’s always a warning around full Moons in cardinal middle degrees – an existing conflict is triggered and there’s no immediate solution. There was a lunar eclipse in mid-Capricorn weeks before 9/11 and there’s a lunar eclipse at 15° Aries on 8 October 2014, bringing in so many of the charts of current politicians (including Putin, who has the Sun in Libra opposite the eclipse).
On a less serious note, let’s look at the preposterous former Junior Health Minister Edwina Currie . Her solar arc Moon reached mid Cancer when she put her foot in her mouth and announced that most eggs were contaminated by salmonella. This caused a sudden and massive drop in egg sales and led to her resignation. The Moon and Cancer are, of course, linked to eggs and chickens and what people buy to eat daily. Note, too, how solar arc Mercury in Sagittarius (foot-in-mouth disease!) reached an opposition to Uranus at the time.
Currie wasn’t a stranger to outrageous comments, once saying that ‘good Christian people don’t get AIDS’ and ‘northerners die of ignorance and chips’.
In fixed middle degrees, the planet is at its most permanent, solid and durable but sometimes feels stagnant or stuck in the areas linked to that planet and sign. By solar arc, it can be a year of feeling stable or trapped.
In mutable middle degrees, the planet is at its most flexible and diverse, but it’s also precarious, scattered and prone to fluctuation. It can be a year of changeability, vacillation and instability.
Here’s the chart for the opening of World Trade Center : the Sun is at 14°55’ Aries, at the heart of action, dynamic conflict and aggression. We know of the various terrorist and bomb threats over the years. At 9/11, transiting Saturn was at 14°45’ Gemini, a ‘testing’ Saturn Return time for the building. The Twin Towers have Saturn in Gemini at the most precarious of degrees – not a safe bet for a construction of that size and importance.
And what about the Zeebrugge ferry disaster (in which 193 people died)? This is the chart for the moment the ship capsized – note 15° Virgo on the Ascendant and the 15° Pisces Sun (both square Chiron). There’s also Mars opposite Pluto, and Jupiter is at 0° Aries (its name was The Herald of Free Enterprise ). Dennis Elwell, who predicted a disaster and tried to warn the company, has Jupiter at 6° Gemini and his solar arc Pluto had directed to 14°33’ Virgo at the time of the tragedy. We’re also reminded that the Titanic set sail when Jupiter was retrograde at 15° Sagittarius (and there was a whole range of other disastrous aspects that day).
The final degree in the natal chart: poised for change
The final degree of a sign (29°, the thirtieth degree) in the natal chart is the end of an era. Known as the anaretic degree (or ‘degree of fate’), it’s often given a negative spin. Traditional astrologers awarded the malefics rulership over the final degrees of the signs. Some horary practitioners observe that the querent can do nothing to affect the outcome. It’s too late to have control over the situation; it’s a fait accompli.
Whereas the 0° planet is taking initial steps on the road ahead and is in the process of envisioning, discovering and creating its journey, the planet at 29° senses the end of a familiar path.
• There’s a feeling of inevitability and ‘fatedness’. There’s no going back; situations are irreversible or irretrievable. There may also be a fascination with that which happened before we were born that cannot be undone – a lifelong mission to come to terms with what we’ve been saddled with at birth. • There’s a knowingness about the dynamics of the sign. By now the planet is a seasoned player. It’s earned its stripes and is skilled in that sign; and equipped to deal with issues linked to it. With a natal planet or angle at 29°, we were born to finish the job of that sign; to display (eventual) mastery over its issues. • We shall encounter some of the most challenging facets of that meaning.
Here are some examples. The need to take risks defines 29° Aries – to put oneself on the line. This might mean tap-dancing on a window ledge or walking the high-wire with no net. At 29° Aries, the person may reach crisis point and make a decision without much forethought. Having been through Aries, a planet now revels in its devil-may-care spontaneity – before it has to slow down in Taurus. (What do they say about Taurus? Taurus starts slow … and then peters out.) The degree of 29° Aries has joy from continuing to be childlike regardless of the perils, mishaps or accusations of selfishness. It can also employ force and is no longer afraid of (or deterred by) violence. There’s a skill in promoting a cause and getting people enthused with one’s adventures and battles.
Australian astrologer Anne Button (http://www.veritas.net.au) has done much work on what she calls the ‘potent and insatiable anaretic degree’ – a degree that demands closure and has an insatiable/craving feeling to it. She refers to that planet being in a ‘liminal’ space. This is a disorientating place of transition, waiting and not knowing – when you have left the tried and true (the comfort zone) but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It’s about learning to navigate and live with the ambiguity/haziness of being in an in-between place.
I promised you 29° Scorpio … lots of it. The judge in the Oscar Pistorius case delayed the verdict yesterday (11 September 2014) – and left everyone in total Scorpio suspense. She was waiting for Mars to reach the final degree this morning (!) where it conjoins Pistorius’s Sun. This is the chart of a do-or-die man who knows nothing but full-on intensity and extreme behaviour in his fight against all odds.
Another master of the game, Billie Jean King , the tennis legend, has the Sun at the final degree of Scorpio. Let’s take a look at her chart.
Firstly, though, the Moon is at 0° Libra – she was an early advocate for equal prize money for women athletes, and in the 1970s she became an American figurehead of the struggle for female equality. Yet, King is someone who hates confrontation and, with her Moon-Neptune conjunction, was never quite comfortable with the feminist ideology of the time, which she felt could be intolerant and doctrinaire.
Scorpio is a politically savvy sign that experiences (and is adept at handling) crises and extremes. With King’s Sun at the final degree of Scorpio, she knows that the buck stops with her. She was born (Sun) to take control (Scorpio) and complete (29°) a Scorpio theme.
At the final degree, in Scorpio, there may be: lifelong compulsions; a steely will, tunnel vision and total intensity one-on-one; an unflinching focus on the final, ultimate goal (be that victory or an obsession with death and endings); an ability to execute under pressure; an all-or-nothing, fight-to-the-death, winner-take-all philosophy; authenticity; emotional inscrutability; and an innate understanding of the relationship between power, money, sex, politics and gender. (I always think Scorpio should go into one of the 3 Ps: politics, psychology or prostitution.)
The Sun at 29° Scorpio reveals Billie Jean’s impact on gender politics, as well as the influence she has had on sponsorship (Scorpio – other people’s money) and prize money in the women’s game.
This Sun placement was not without heavy personal consequences: she had to keep her (homo)sexuality hidden – the newly founded women’s tennis tour and her own livelihood depended on this being kept secret.
Not surprisingly, at the time of this sports circus extravaganza, King’s Sun had directed to 29° Sagittarius (natally the Sun is square Jupiter in Leo). It was an over-the-top, surreal spectacle befitting Sagittarius: one loud night of high drama, hyperbole and publicity on the world stage. It would overshadow the lifelong sporting achievements of both athletes. The win over Riggs would give King and her cause the professional credibility she craved (the Sun directed from Sagittarius to Capricorn soon after).
Speaking of 29° Sagittarius – it can be larger than life, with a gift for seeing the big picture. Think of Judy Garland’s emotional, histrionic performances that packed a punch in your gut – designed to capture an audience’s love. She had the Moon at the final degree of Sagittarius.
But 29° Sagittarius can also be the breadth and height of indiscretion. If you want something to go out with a whimper or pass unnoticed, please don’t do it when a planet has directed to this degree of Sagittarius!
When Sarah Ferguson offered an undercover journalist ‘cash for access’ to her former husband in April 2012, SA Mercury had reached the final degree of Sagittarius. What a gaffe that action proved to be! Hopefully, a final one. And the solar arc was all the more potent since natal Mercury rules her Midheaven (her reputation) and comes from a conjunction with Neptune in Scorpio in the 12th house. This is not a woman who can hold on to her many secrets.
With her natal MC at 29° Scorpio, Heidi Fleiss was the reigning million-dollar madam of Hollywood and the keeper of the town’s most intimate secrets in her infamous ‘black book’. (We can speculate that Charlie Sheen’s name was on half the pages – with his MC on her Ascendant/Venus conjunction in Aquarius. Interestingly, documentary-maker Nick Broomfield made a fascinating film about Fleiss and his Sun is also on this conjunction. She sure knows how to bring them in.)
With a 29° Scorpio MC and the Sun in Capricorn, Heidi’s story is about control – her need for absolute control. Although she never wanted to be famous or exposed (Scorpio prefers to keep control in the boardroom, not on the stage), she was one of the most influential madams in the US – and all before her Saturn Return. Her power extended to playing matchmaker to the richest men in the world, pairing them with women tailored for their every fantasy. She was a Capricorn – she took a 40 per cent cut of their earnings. On her slowest night, Heidi made $10,000.
Her arrogant and cocky persona proved her downfall. With Mercury in Sagittarius square Pluto–Uranus in the 8th, she once boasted, ‘I took the oldest profession on earth and I did it better than anyone on earth.’ When her MC was at the end of Sagittarius, her high-profile case ended when her conviction for pandering was overturned – she got lucky temporarily. But she later served 20 months inside for tax evasion when the MC moved into Capricorn. And then it was over. She said, ‘I had the party, did the party, threw the party, was the party. I’m partied out.’
Gender, sex and secrets are all on the agenda in Scorpio, particularly the final degree, where there’s a mastery of anything covert, underground, clandestine. As Quentin Crisp wrote, ‘The war between the sexes is the only one in which both sides regularly sleep with the enemy.’ Another expert in the battle of the sexes is Germaine Greer , with Mars at 29° Scorpio in the 10th house and co-ruling the MC. Mars closely trines Pluto.
Billy Tipton was a jazz musician who married four times. Not until his post-mortem was it revealed that Billy was really a woman – who had lived life as a man so as to be accepted as a musician in the 1930s and 1940s. This revelation left his wives and three adopted sons bewildered – they hadn’t had the slightest suspicion that their dad was female. Note Tipton’s Ascendant ruler is Venus, and it’s at 29° of inscrutable Scorpio. It’s also closely trine Neptune on the MC, which in itself is a placement of speculation and mystery. ‘Is he or isn’t she?’
Here’s the chart for when Martin Bashir secretly interviewed Diana , Princess of Wales , in what was to become the most astonishing, shattering and indiscreet royal interview of all time. Transiting Pluto was at 29° Scorpio when they taped the interview. When it aired two weeks later, Pluto had moved into less-than-cautious Sagittarius. The ploy backfired and set the scene for the dismantling of Diana’s life, her reputation as a loose cannon and the tragedies ahead. (Diana died when her solar arc Moon reached 29° Pisces: it was the end of domestic drama, the warped fairy tale, and the start of some major speculation surrounding her demise. She also became the Lady of the Lake. The Queen’s solar arc Ascendant was at 29° Pisces, too.)
To get a final feel for the last degree of Scorpio as a ‘hotly political’ degree, consider the horoscope for Margaret Thatcher’s resignation . Facing the humiliation of defeat in a leadership contest and a lack of support from colleagues, the three-time Prime Minister signed her resignation statement at 7:35 a.m. on 22 November 1990. The Sun was rising on the Ascendant at 29° Scorpio – it was the end of a leader who had been in total command. Thatcher never recovered from her party’s betrayal, branding it ‘treachery with a smile on its face’. The degree of 29° Scorpio was fitting: it was the end of her ‘acid reign’ - eleven ruthless, controversial years in power. (John F. Kennedy’s assassination on the same date in Dallas in 1963 also occurred when the Sun was 29° Scorpio.)
With 0° Leo there’s an interest in (and desire for) celebrity or in revelling in one’s own world of creative adventures, and relishing the discovery/realization that Leo can create. Sometimes the desperation for recognition, the spotlight and personal glory is palpable (think of Madonna – Venus at 0° Leo – and her blonde ambition).
But, by the final degree of Leo a planet or angle has developed style, star presence and élan, and demonstrates a natural ability to deal (and mix) with celebrity. There’s authority and respect – the final word on advice, on knowing what’s best for us – but a warning of egomania and excessive pride. While 0° Leo has an instinct to demand attention, 29° Leo has a natural ability to command it.
And what of 29° Pisces, the final degree of the zodiac? Pisces is occasionally branded the dustbin of the zodiac. The final degree of Pisces is about ‘rest cures, religion and pills’, as the Sondheim song goes. Pisces is the true survivor, and 29° Pisces has seen it all. The first client I ever had with the Sun at 29° Pisces had come through addictions, gurus, religions, self-help quick-fixes and 101 other ways to escape the mundane world and connect to something higher. He’d tried everything.
Pisces at 29° recognises that we are all made of the same magic (although Virgos might call it ‘dirt’). It’s the talent to save, rescue and pour energy into addressing the needs of the forgotten and disenfranchised. Think of singer-turned-saint Bono , who has his MC ruler Mars at 29° Pisces. Saving people in crisis situations.
That final degree is not always a blessing – it’s also the degree of those who feel duped by people or have experienced major betrayal. One woman (a Pisces with Pisces MC) discovered her record company had siphoned off her royalties when her MC moved to 29° Pisces. She launched an attack and filed a lawsuit when the MC moved into 0° Aries. It was a dirty fight and took eight years of her life and reputation. She finally won the lawsuit and rights to her royalties when her Sun moved to 0° Taurus, suggesting she was now beginning to be on a firmer financial foundation.
In March 1987, Bakker fell from grace as his solar arc Sun reached 29° Aquarius. Soon after, the Sun entered Pisces and he was truly crucified (most famously bound in chains and humiliated in front of the world’s media). He was handed a 45-year prison sentence for mail fraud.
At the final degree of Virgo, there’s consideration for the underprivileged (knowing what it’s like to feel small, degraded or overlooked), and an ability to deal with crisis issues around health and safety. There may also be health emergencies that pop up during this time. Along with 29° Capricorn, here we have the control freak who has already considered every angle, whether it’s the diet, schedule, route or other people’s habits. There’s a finicky attention to detail, to getting it right, being faithful to one’s word, ensuring that contracts and agreements are drawn up with every ‘t’ crossed, etc. There’s an obsession with precision and sculpting (e.g. creating the body beautiful); perfecting a craft; finishing the apprenticeship. Often there’s a need for an unpretentious, understated (sometimes solitary) life – feeling content in the rhythms of regular life.
Remember Jack Nicholson (with the Moon at the final degree of Virgo) in As Good As It Gets as the obsessive-compulsive novelist who avoids the cracks in the road and eats at the same table in the same restaurant every day? That phrase ‘as good as it gets’ should be a mantra for all those final-degree Virgos to enjoy life now.
Remember Labour’s Red Queen, Barbara Castle ? As a Libran, her Venus placement at 29° Virgo assumes greater importance: her concern was Libran and Virgoan – a concern for care, safety and addressing the ills and injustices of society.
She was put in charge of the Department of Employment and Productivity (Virgo), radically reformed pensions (pensions are, aptly, what you get at the end – 29° – of your working life), higher pay for nurses and increased benefits for old and disabled people. She brought in seat belts for cars and the breathalyser law, and ensured Child Benefit was paid to mothers rather than through the father’s pay packet. Castle was chief architect of the Equal Pay Act (following the famous Dagenham women’s strike at the Ford plant, as transiting Uranus crossed over her Mercury and later Venus). When the film Made in Dagenham was released, Jupiter was conjunct Uranus at 29° Pisces. It recently transpired that Castle drew up a dossier on VIP paedophiles but the document was confiscated for ‘national security reasons’.
George W Bush’s solar arc Ascendant was at 29°59’ Virgo (the sign of his Mars) at the time of 9/11. It was the crisis of his life and the moment he’d been waiting for. The Ascendant would then move in to Libra (where the Moon, Jupiter and Neptune are placed), giving rise to a new script on a wave of nationalistic fervour and patriotism (Moon–Jupiter); an attempt to put the wrongs to rights and bring the terrorists to justice (Libra). Who knows how much Neptune played in clouding the real issues? With Neptune, I guess he chose the wrong week to give up drinking …
29° in forecasting
What of the final degree in forecasting? Here are some observations:
• It’s the end of a chapter. We’re poised for change, but before we jump into a new field of experience (and perhaps an unknown scenario) we must deal with a crisis of sorts. • It’s a year when some of the most challenging aspects of the sign demand to be seen and resolved. It’s the end of the line – can we meet the demands before moving on? It’s the end of a 30-year era and often coincides with an intense twelve months (the final degree) that ‘packs a punch’ – a time when exaggerated manifestations of that sign appear as life events. • We can truly make our mark by wrapping up long-term endeavours.
Positively, that which has been mastered – skills that have been acquired – can be put to good use in these twelve months. This is where the last degree can truly come into its own. It can be a year of distinction or conclusion of a long period of endeavour.
In 1997, intrepid British politician Mo Mowlam worked to restore an IRA ceasefire in Northern Ireland and persuaded various sides to participate in the peace process – all during a time when she was fighting a brain tumour.
Mowlam was instrumental in the signing of the Good Friday Peace Agreement on 10 April 1998, when her SA Saturn had reached 29° Libra. She retired from Parliament two years later. In hindsight, it’s clear that her historic work had been completed at this time. It proved to be her legacy.
Woody Allen’s Ascendant reached 29° Libra when he began a relationship with his partner Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter. It was still at 29° Libra when Farrow split up with him. The degree of 29° Libra is linked to the last-chance attempts to keep a relationship in balance before war breaks out; the final attempt at a diplomatic solution. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
The final degree of Scorpio is the crisis degree of the crisis sign – a tough, profound period, ‘a dark night of the soul’ before we see the light of day in Sagittarius. A student of mine had her Midheaven solar arc to 29° Scorpio when her niece was bullied on Facebook into committing suicide. The same degree was on Prince Harry’s Midheaven when Diana was killed, and on Marlon Brando’s Midheaven when his troubled daughter killed herself.
No turning back: when scripts change
Finally, here are a few examples of events when planets and angles directed to 0° or 29°.
Superman Christopher Reeve : his natal Moon–Mars in Sagittarius suggests his love of horse-riding and competitive horsemanship. When he was thrown from his horse, at an event on 27 May 1995, he was left paralysed: a quadriplegic and unable to breathe on his own. Note the tight natal quincunx from Mars to Uranus. By solar arc, Mars had reached 0° Aquarius, and Uranus 0° Virgo, starting a very new script in his life.
By transit, Mars was at 0° Virgo and Uranus at 0° Aquarius – a remarkable repetition of planetary aspects. (Chiron, so often associated with horses and motorcycles, had directed to the Descendant and another link to horses, Jupiter, had directed to square Mercury.)
Gordon Brown waited a long time to see his dream of premiership come true. When he became Prime Minister, solar arc MC had finally reached his Sun, a classic leadership measurement and a solar arc year of a memorable change in status. At 0° Pisces, perhaps he was destined to play out the role of patsy. Three years later, Brown called an election. I’m assuming he did this without an astrologer: transiting Pluto was on his MC and his Sun had directed to 29° Aries and his MC ruler Saturn to 29° Scorpio – it was time for a big script change. I guess he chose the wrong week to call an election!
Political defeats and resignations are fascinating astrologically. Americans won’t have forgotten Gary Hart’s resignation due to the rumours of an extra-marital affair (famously on a boat called Monkey Business ) on 8 May 1987, just 26 days into his presidential campaign. Only days before, he’d dared the press, ‘Follow me around … If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’ll be very bored.’ They weren’t!
Natally, Hart has a tight square from Mars in Libra to his MC in Capricorn (warning of sexual pursuits damaging his civic reputation). By solar arc, his MC had reached 29° Aquarius and his Mars 29° Scorpio – both crisis degrees. The Moon had entered Leo, bringing much attention to his emotional and daily life. I guess he chose the wrong week to give up adultery!
And whatever happened to labour union leader Jimmy Hoffa ? Well, I don’t know, but his chart at the time of his disappearance (30 July 1975) certainly describes the end of a chapter: solar arc Ascendant at 29° Aries, and the Moon–Saturn at 29° Cancer (plus Pluto at 0° Virgo). Perhaps he met a violent, Aries end and probably a deadweight Moon–Saturn home/coffin at the bottom of the sea.
Can they talk!
Let’s end with the degree that likes to have the final word: 29° Gemini. Here we have the multitasker, adept at technology or language or making connections. The difficulty lies in finishing things off – they try to juggle too much and are weighed down by chronic indecision – and then they drop the ball.
The final degree of Gemini disperses the information (or says their piece) and then leaves others to handle the aftermath, just as Ed Snowden did (Sun at 29° Gemini), avoiding the conflict and consequences (characteristic of the mutable signs). Interestingly, his Sun had solar arc directed to the degree of the US’s natal Pluto when he released the classified documents.
Someone else more than able to drop a Gemini bomb was age-obsessed Joan Rivers , born with Mercury and Venus at the final degree of Gemini. Whether she was talking about her body, what the famous are wearing or quipping that Michelle Obama was a transgender, Joan Rivers was the wisecracking witch who spelled it with a ‘b’. In fact, one person roasted her with the line, ‘Joan, you’ve been called “bitch” more often than a white guy serving a life sentence.’ Rivers died just last week (4 September 2014) without having the final word, so I’m giving it to her now. Well, sort of.
Picture it, The Tonight Show , the mid-80s. Joan is guest host. She’s interviewing actress Joan Collins, herself a Gemini (possibly with Aries rising, too) and both are monuments to malice. Suddenly she turns to Joan Collins and says, ‘OK, Joan, of all the husbands you’ve had, who was the best lover?’ Joan Collins replied, ‘Yours, darling.’ It was the only time Joan Rivers was struck dumb and lost for words.
Note: 'The Power Degrees of the Zodiac' was first presented at the Astrological Association of Great Britain's annual conference on 12 September 2014. A transcript was later published in The Astrological Journal, The Astrology Quarterly and The International Astrologer. It was the winner of the International Astrologer's Award for Best Article 2014–2016, presented at the ISAR Conference in Los Angeles, October 2016.
Data and sources: Woody Allen , 1 December 1935, 22:55 EST, Bronx, NY (40N51, 73W54). Source: birth certificate; copy on file. RR: AA. Pamela Anderson , 1 July 1967, 04:08 PDT, Ladysmith, Canada (48N58, 123W49). Source: birth announcement in The Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle , as quoted by Nicholas Campion, printed in The Sunday Telegraph , copy on file. RR: A. Jim Bakker , 2 January 1940, 11:00 EST, Muskegon Heights, MI, USA (43N12, 86W15). Source: birth certificate obtained by Genevieve Edwards; copy on file. RR: AA. Bono , 10 May 1960, 02:00 GDT, Dublin, Ireland (53N20, 6W15). Source: Edwin Steinbrecher quotes a mutual friend, from Bono, ‘two on the dot’. RR: A. Marlon Brando , 3 April 1924, 23:00 CST, Omaha, NE, USA (41N15, 95W56). Source: birth certificate quoted in The Gauquelin Book of American Charts by Michel and Françoise Gauquelin (ACS, 1982). RR: AA. Nick Broomfield , 30 January 1948, London, England (51N30, 0W10). Source: various online sites. RR: X. Gordon Brown , 20 February 1951, 08:40 GMT, Giffnock, Scotland, 55N48, 4W18. Source: birth certificate quoted by Caroline Gerard and Paul Wright. RR: AA. George W Bush , 6 July 1946, 07:26 EDT, New Haven, CT, USA (41N18, 72W55). Source: Karen Castilla quotes hospital records; same on birth certificate. RR: AA. Barbara Castle , 6 October 1910, 14:30 GMT, Chesterfield, England (53N15, 1W25). Source: from her to the Astrological Association. RR: A. Joan Collins , 23 May 1933, morning, Paddington, London, England (51N32, 0W12). Source: online sources. Her second autobiography Second Act (1996) states ‘morning’, Frederick Davies quotes her for 3 a.m., while Hollywood Sisters (1989) by Susan Crimp and Patricia Burstein gives 7 a.m. RR: DD. Edwina Currie , 13 October 1946, 23:30 GMT, Liverpool, England (53N25, 2W55). Source: from Currie’s secretary to David Fisher in January 1988. RR: A. Dennis Elwell , 16 February 1930, 23:44 GMT, Stourbridge, England (52N27, 2W09). Source: from him to Garry Phillipson in Astrology in the Year Zero (Flare, 2000), rectified by him from his parents’ recollection that he was born ‘late at night’. RR: C. Sarah Ferguson , 15 October 1959, 09:03 GMT (+0), London, England (51N30, 0W10). Source: Buckingham Palace records; same from her to her astrologer Penny Thornton. RR: A. Heidi Fleiss , 30 December 1965, 09:05, Los Angeles, CA, USA (34N03, 118W15). Source: from her birth certificate, obtained by Frank Clifford; copy on file. RR: AA. Judy Garland , 10 June 1922, 06:00 CST (+6), Grand Rapids, Minnesota, USA (47N14, 93W31). Source: note from birth registry obtained by Edwin Steinbrecher; copy on file. Same on birth certificate quoted in Contemporary American Horoscopes . Scott Schechter’s thorough biography Judy Garland (Cooper Square Press, 2002) gives ‘5:30 a.m’; copy on file. RR: AA. Bob Geldof , 5 October 1951, 14:20 GDT, Dublin, Ireland (53N20, 06W15). Source: David Fisher quotes Jo Logan’s letter, who obtained the data from Geldof. RR: A. Germaine Greer , 29 January 1939, 06:00 AEST, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (37S49, 144E58). Source: from her to Tiffany Holmes. RR: A. Prince Harry , 15 September 1984, 16:20 GDT, Paddington, London, England (51N32, 0W12). Source: Buckingham Palace’s announcement, quoted in newspapers on date; copy on file. RR: A. Gary Hart , 28 November 1936, 14:25 CST, Ottawa, KS, USA (38N37, 95W16). Source: from his birth certificate; Marion March quotes his office. RR: AA. Henry VIII , 28 June 1491 (7 July 1491 Gregorian calendar), 08:45 LMT, Greenwich, England (51N29, 0E00). Source: from his birth record, obtained by Martin Harvey. RR: AA. Jimmy Hoffa , 14 February 1913, 06:52 CST, Brazil, IN, USA (39N31, 87W08). Source: birth note from registry, obtained by Ed Steinbrecher; copy on file. RR: AA. Billie Jean King , 22 November 1943, 11:45 PWT, Long Beach, CA, USA (33N46, 118W11). Source: from her birth certificate, obtained by Doris Chase Doane. RR: AA. Madonna , 16 August 1958, 07:05 EST, Bay City, MI, USA (43N36, 83W53). Tashi Grady quotes Madonna’s father, who originally gave 7:00 a.m. and then telephoned the hospital of Madonna’s birth. (Madonna has been quoted as saying she is Aquarius rising and, more recently, has said she does not know her Ascendant or birth time.) RR: AA. Russ Meyer , 21 March 1922, 09:35 PST (+8), Oakland, California, USA (37N48, 122W16). Source: from his birth certificate obtained by Frank Clifford; copy on file. RR: AA. Mo Mowlam , 18 September 1949, Watford, England (51N40, 0W25). From various online sources. RR: X. Jack Nicholson , 22 April 1937, 11:00 EST, Neptune, NJ, USA (40N13, 74W01). Source: from him to Mark Johnson. Fredrick Davies in Signs of the Stars quotes Nicholson for 11:20 a.m. His birth certificate, obtained by Frank Clifford, was filed in May 1954 and has no time of birth; copy on file. RR: A. Panorama (BBC TV series) interview with Princess Diana , 5 November 1995, 19:00 GMT, Kensington Palace, London, England (51N30, 0W08). Source: from the BBC documentary Princess Diana: Behind the Panorama Interview , which stated that Bashir arrived at Kensington Palace at 7pm. RR: A. Panorama (BBC TV series) broadcast with Princess Diana , 20 November 1995, 21:40 GMT, London, England (51N30, 0W10). Source: Sy Scholfield quotes The Times , 20 November 1995, p.43. RR: B. Oscar Pistorius , 22 November 1986, 10:30 EET, Pretoria, South Africa (25S45, 28E12). Source: from Pistorius’s aunt to Philippe Lepoivre, ‘between 10h30 and 11h30’ and ‘most correct estimate would be 10h30 – morning’. Christopher Reeve , 25 September 1952, 03:12 EDT, Manhattan, NY, USA (40N46, 73W59). Source: from Reeve to Linda Clark by letter; he gave Penny Thornton 3:14 a.m., and his birth certificate (copy on file) has no time. Joan Rivers , 8 June 1933, 02:00 EDT, Brooklyn, Kings, NY, USA (40N38, 73W56). Source: from Rivers to Shelley Ackerman in March 1997. RR: A. Lois Rodden , 22 May 1928, 00:27 MST, Lang, Canada (49N56, 104W23). Source: from Rodden, rectified from mother’s recollection of ‘after midnight’. RR: C. Diana Ross , 26 March 1944, 23:46 EWT, Detroit, MI, USA (42N20, 83W03). Source: birth certificate quoted in Contemporary American Horoscopes by Janice McKay and Jessica Saunders (Astrolabe, 1990), and The Gauquelin Book of American Charts by Michel and Françoise Gauquelin (ACS, 1982). RR: AA. Ayrton Senna , 21 March 1960, 02:35 BZT, Sao Paulo, Brazil (23S32, 46W37). Source: from birth certificate, obtained by Marcello Borges. RR: AA. Charlie Sheen , 3 September 1965, 22:48 EDT, New York, NY, USA (40N43, 74W00). Source: from him to Linda Clark, quoting his birth certificate. Sy Scholfield quotes Sheen’s interview stating he was born at 22:58. RR: AA. Ed Snowden , 21 June 1983, 04:42 EDT, Elizabeth City, NC, USA (36N18, 76W13). Source: from birth certificate obtained by Eric Francis Coppolino; copy on file. RR: AA. Margaret Thatcher’s resignation , 22 November 1990, 07:35 GMT, Downing Street, Westminster, London, England (51N30, 0W09). Source: http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/108254 Billy Tipton , 29 December 1914, 02:00 CST, Oklahoma City, OK, USA (35N28, 97W31). Source: from news clippings obtained by Joan McEvers. RR: A. World Trade Center , 4 April 1973, 15:00 EST, Manhattan, NY, USA (40N46, 73W59). Source: from The New York Times , 28 March 1973, p. 93, quoted by Sy Scholfield. RR: A. Zeebrugge Ferry Disaster , 6 Match 1987, 18:28 CET, Zeebrugge, Belgium (51N20, 3E12). Source: from online sources, including Wikipedia. RR: A.
Image sources: All charts provided by the author and AA Journal Sun halo: Image by Carsten Bornhöft from Pixabay Letters: Image by Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay Pamela Anderson: Mercy For Animals MFA from Los Angeles, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)] Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs: Public Domain via wikimedia commons Jim Bakker: Public Domain via wikimedia commons
Published by: The Astrological Journal , Jul/Aug 2019
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- The Critical Degrees
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