What Do the Degrees in Astrology Mean?


One of the most commonly overlooked factors of an astrological event is the degree in which it occurs. Yes, those tiny numbers matter, and they matter quite a bit.

Here’s a run down of degrees in astrology.

First, you need a mental image. Picture every zodiac sign — Aries to Pisces — as a fraction of a whole. Their fractions are composed of 30° — logistically, 0° to 29°. Within these 30°, there are three decans — three sections of 10°. The first decan of a sign is 0° to 9°, the second is 10° to 19°, and the third is 20° to 29°. Even more intricately, these respective decans — 0° to 9°, 10° to 19°, and 20° to 29° — each last for 59 minutes, 59 seconds. The astro wheel is a ticking clock. And, if you’re wondering why we refer to each fraction as 30° — although it is logistically only 29° — it is for the same reason we refer to an hour as 60 minutes, while only truly counting 59 minutes, 59 seconds.

For spatial reference, a Sun in Aries at 29° is pretty close to a Sun in Taurus at 0°. In fact, they’re only one degree away from each other. And if two signs are close to one another in degrees, chances are, they are similar. Their spatial closeness grants them this, no matter how different they are on a base level. For all intensive purposes, the degrees are what makes a sign real and unique. That being said, degrees matter a lot! And if you’re an avid birth chart reader, this info is handy.

Now, what exactly do these degrees mean? Each group of zodiacs has its own critical degrees — degrees that challenge and truly bring a sign to power. Further, the degrees have their own meanings, which influence all signs and celestial bodies they interact with.

Critical Degrees for the Signs and Planets

Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn): 0°, 13°, and 26°.

Fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius): 8°, 9°, 21°, and 22°.

Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces): 4° and 17°.

It is important to note that critical degrees go beyond the zodiac. They influence planets, too. Signs or planets at 0° are thought to in their most pure forms, as they are not influenced by any other degree. Degrees from 14° to 16° represent the sign’s main challenges and issues. Signs or planets at 29° are on an anaretic or fated degree. While it is assumed to be negative, this degree more blatantly confronts us with the main challenges and issues of a sign.

With this in mind, know that the meaning of a degree is based largely upon your own experience. Simply use this knowledge to guide your understanding.

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