Ever feel like your astrological sign doesn’t quite fit you? Example: You have a little bit of protective Cancer in you despite also being a hard-core, quick-witted Gemini. But hey—there’s no need to stress. Chances are you identify as what some refer to as a "cusp sign."
Unfamiliar with the term? Makes sense, since it’s more related to pop-culture-y astrology rather than rooted in the age-old practice, explains professional astrologer Valerie Mesa. (Which is why some astrologers don’t acknowledge the term, Mesa notes.)
In short, a cusp sign is someone who is born toward the end of a zodiac sign's season—you know, "on the cusp" between your Sun sign and the one that follows it—and it can leave you feeling slightly unseen when you read your horoscope each month.
So, if you don’t always agree with how you’re described in your chart *and* you’re born toward the end of your sign or at the beginning of a new one, it’s because you’re on the cusp, around the time when one sign transitions to another.
And yet, even though you’re technically in the middle of two zodiac signs, you’re still actually the sun sign on which your birthday falls, Mesa explains, no matter how off it might feel. (Sorry!)
"Your Sun sign is your Sun sign," affirms Linda Joyce, professional astrologer and author of The Day You Were Born: A Journey to Wholeness Through Astrology and Numerology. That holds true even if you were born in the very last degree of that sign, like 11:55 p.m. on April 20, for instance. You're still an Aries, not a Taurus.
Yes—it’s all quite confusing, especially if you're new to astrology. Luckily, here's everything you need to know about being born "on the cusp" and how that can impact your life, according to expert astrologers.
1. Your connection to your zodiac sign's traits depends on your decan.
ICYDK: Each sign is divided into 30 degrees, with every 10 degrees representing one of three decans, explains astrologer Sanasjia Clervoix.
The Sun moves one degree every 24 hours, so each degree correlates with a different day. Degrees zero to nine are the first decan of a zodiac sign, degrees 10 to 19 are the second decan of a sign, and degrees 20-29 are the third decan of a sign, says Clervoix.
Watch this to learn how the month you were born affects your personality, according to science:
Anyone with their Sun at 27, 28, or 29 degrees of a sign—basically the last three days—is born on the cusp, a.k.a. toward the end of the zodiac sign, explains Joyce.
Even if you don't feel like it, the later you are in a zodiac, the more likely you are to embody that sign, according to some astrologers. "The twenty ninth degree is referred to as the anaretic degree. It’s a critical degree in astrology, and it symbolizes the last, final phase of a sign’s evolution," Mesa explains.
Basically, when it comes to zodiac signs, they save the best—or at least most like themselves—for last. So, you might hone the characteristics of that sign even more than you think.
2. Your birth chart placements may reveal more than your closest zodiac sign.
Some astrologers consider people born in the first three days of a new sign as being on the cusp, too. If you want to be more precise than just saying you’re "on the cusp," though, think of it this way: "Let’s say you were born on April 20," Clervoix explains. "You could consider yourself a Taurus born on the cusp of Aries, but it’s more accurately described in astrology as the first decan of Taurus," Clervoix explains. (Remember: Degrees zero to nine are a zodiac sign’s first decan.)
TBH, in this scenario, the influence of Aries on your personality would more so depend on your specific decan, and if you have any other Aries placements in your chart, rather than the fact that you were born so astrologically close to the sign.
3. You feel like you don’t know what to expect from your sign.
Coming into the world at the beginning of a sign can also feel different than coming in at the end, Joyce explains. "When you are in a new sign, you are looking ahead. You are occupied with what you need to learn in order to advance," she says. "The difficulty of being on the cusp or end of a sign is that you can feel stuck. You don’t know what to expect."
That can either lead to confusion or taking charge of the moment—the choice is yours, cuspies.
4. But also, you feel like a fountain of knowledge.
For starters, you might be a bit of a know-it-all, but that's not necessarily a negative trait. (So don't kill the messenger, okay?) "Cusp souls feel they know more than others—and often, they do," says Joyce, noting that some are even geniuses.
Because cusp signs are born during a time of transition, it's up to you to either lead the way, running toward change, or jog in place, staying where it's comfortable. Not so surprisingly, the first path "requires courage and risk," says Joyce, but hey, isn't that what life is all about?
"You won’t get help taking the first step. That has to come from you...Take the risk for what you believe in—own your talent, beliefs, and genius," she advises. "The world will pay attention."
5. Your full birth chart has lots of connections to other signs.
"The Sun is the most important planet in your chart, but its power can be diminished by other factors," Joyce explains. Namely: Mercury and Venus.
Let's say your Sun sign is on the cusp of Taurus, but your Mercury and Venus signs are in Gemini. Your personality will still resonate with Gemini on some level because you have two planets there when looking at your full birth chart.
Basically, your sun sign is not nearly as important as you think—cusp or not. Whether you're on the hunt for a romantic match, figuring out your life purpose, or just trying to get through Monday, astrology is complex, and you need to see the "whole picture," says Joyce. That means looking at your birth chart as a whole.
6. You feel challenged by your chart and your sign.
Even though it’s hard, don’t get discouraged by your sign’s reputation or the challenges of your chart. Instead, "it’s how you use them that makes you special, strong, or noticed," Joyce explains.
"Some of the most successful people have the most challenging charts."
In fact, some of the most successful people have the most challenging charts because they’re not afraid of difficulties, Joyce explains. They might even seek those challenges out, knowing that it's the struggle—not the success—that actually makes you strong, hones your wisdom, and can give you an edge in life.
Bottom line: If you feel you’re a cusp at heart, own it, then move forward from there.
"At the beginning of their astrology journeys, most people are just scratching the surface learning about their sun signs," Mesa says. "And at this point, you might not feel like you resonate with your sun sign traits."
But the key is to not give up on astrology all together just 'cuz you’re stumped at the beginner stages. If you feel like you identify as a cusp at heart, use that as a jumping-off point and learn how to move forward. Consider it a way to dive even deeper into the zodiac world.
Need somewhere to start? "Research the decan that you belong to within your sun sign," says Clervoix. "This can more accurately describe the influence of the ruler of your sun sign. If you feel that you embody the signs before or even after your sun sign, look into your other planetary placements to get a better glimpse into where these energies exist within your chart."
Remember that every person is complex, and being a cusp sign may actually be less reflective of your personality than, say, your moon sign. The more you learn about astrology and your birth chart, specifically, the more you'll understand your place in the universe—literally and figuratively.
Madeline Howard is a writer, editor, and creative based in Brooklyn. Her work has been published in Esquire, Nylon, Cosmopolitan, and more. Among other things, she was formerly an editor at Women’s Health. Subscribe to her newsletter ‘hey howie’ at madelinehoward.substack.com.