Each sign has a distinct set of characteristics (Scorpios are intense, Leos love attention). Planets express their energies through the signs, and the signs describe how planets express their energies. But what happens when you have a planet on the cusp? For example, your Sun is at 29 degrees Gemini, and the next degree is 0 degrees Cancer. Do you express your ego (Sun) as a Gemini, or are you also influenced by Cancer?
There are two schools of thought regarding cusp astrology. Some astrologers believe there is a “grey area” between signs, where the qualities of one transition into the next. Other astrologers (myself included) do not agree. In my opinion, if your Sun is at 29 degrees Gemini, you express your ego and life’s purpose as a Gemini. It doesn’t matter how close your Sun is to Cancer, it’s still located in the sign of Gemini. Same deal if your Venus is at 28 degrees Cancer; it’s located in the sign of Cancer, therefore, you express your love as a Cancer. Leo (the next sign) does not enter into the equation. There is no middle ground where the qualities of one sign bleed into the next.
I can hear some of you protesting. You probably have examples of someone born on a cusp, who displays characteristics of both signs. Here’s Chris, with his Sun at 29 degrees Leo. He’s humble. Self-deprecating, even. In romantic relationships, there’s not a whiff of the drama-loving, scenery-chewing lion. Chris actually puts himself second when considering the needs of his lover. Surely, this must mean he’s displaying some of that humble, helper Virgo (the sign that comes after Leo) energy.
This is where you step back and look at his entire chart. There could be several different reasons why Chris does not openly express his Leo Sun as a raging egomaniac. Perhaps his Sun is inhibited by an opposition to his natal Saturn (restrictions). This puts a shadow over his light, and emphasizes his self-doubts. Maybe he has Venus and Mars in Virgo, strongly influencing how he expresses his love (Venus) and how he pursues (Mars) those he is attracted to. In relationships, he acts like a Virgo. If his Sun is in his 6th house of work and service, all that Leo energy is funnelled into his duties to others. But his Sun is still in Leo, and his main purpose in life is to receive recognition and appreciation.
If her Moon is in her 8th House, she’ll manifest her relationship (Libra) needs through the areas that this house represents: total intimacy, complete sharing, deep psychological processes. Despite Libra’s light and airy vibe, it will be intensified though the 8th House focus. Perhaps her Venus (ruler of Libra) is in Scorpio. This could make it difficult to distinguish how she expresses her needs (Moon) from how she expresses her love (Venus). Her Scorpio Venus will make her possessive and intensely demanding when she’s in love, no matter how much she may need (Moon) harmony (Libra).
Roger’s Mars is at 28 degrees Aries. He can be aggressive, but he also hesitates before making the first move in the bedroom. He’s an initiator, but a cautious one. Routine-loving Taurus is the next sign, so some might assume he’s acting like an “Aurus” (an Aries/Taurus cusper).
But Mars is in his hidden 12th House (which represents the subconscious), so he’s not going to have immediate access to that primal energy. It’s in his blind spot, and if he’s not fully aware of the 12th and how to activate it, he’ll be unsure if his first instinct is correct. Even if he becomes a 12th House Zen Master, his Mars will always express itself indirectly. The energy of any 12th House planet can come out a bit distorted, or hesitant.
Those are my views on cusp astrology. It can be easy to misinterpret certain energies (if you don’t have someone’s chart in front of you) and assume that the sign next door is responsible for a certain blend of characteristics. But the 12 signs are 12 distinct archetypes. The key word is “distinct.” If someone (whose Sun happens to be at 29 degrees Gemini) is displaying Cancer traits in their relationships, you need to look at their entire chart so see why. Chances are their Sun is being influenced by its house position. Or one (or more) of their relationship planets (Moon, Venus, Mars) are in Cancer. Signs don’t blend with each other other, but everything else in the chart does.