In astrology, there is much confusion about what a planet on the cusp of a house means. A cusp is the edge of a house where it touches another house. The houses are the areas of our experience in the outer world, whereas the planets symbolize our inner functions, or "lights," of personality, from the innermost sensitivities and feelings (the Moon) to the outermost transpersonal transformative forces beyond our control (Pluto). Today we will explore an innovative way to viewing how to interpret a planet if it falls on the cusp of a house.
Why does knowing what house(s) a planet affects important? Well, besides showing us our areas of self-realization through various experiences, it can also help us understand why we have certain major lessons to learn from one area and not another. For example, in my own chart I found that if I used one house system, my Saturn is in the 3rd house, whereas if I use other systems, it is in the 2nd house. Which is it?
When I read the texts, it seemed as though I have elements in my life of both positions. I can definitely identify with Saturn in the 2nd, as well as Saturn in the 3rd. So I began to explore the deeper meaning of the houses, and came up with a system that has worked for me for many years, and satisfies most of my clients who wonder why certain things are so apparently contradictory in their lives.
Simply put, I use three systems of house division, all at the same time. This gives me a span of degrees between houses, a zone where the two areas touch each other and overlap to an extent just as the areas of our lives do overlap somewhat. The span is defined by the gap between the two systems yielding the widest result. Thus my zone between my 2nd and 3rd houses extends between 28 Virgo (Placidus) and 11 Libra (Equal). Anything that transits that zone exerts an influence in both houses, and blends those two areas of my life. You can infer that the zone between my 8th and 9th houses covers the area between 28 Pisces and 11 Aries. There are other zones between houses, some wider, some narrower, depending on many variables.
When a planet falls in the zone where two houses overlap, I figure that planetary function is learning from both areas, and has an impact in both areas. It is no longer simply that we have a part of us that is identified with one area more than others; we have to learn how those areas interrelate through the lessons and qualities of that planet. A musical analogy is that the frets on a guitar neck are unnecessary to play the instrument, as there are zones where by sliding up or down the string you move in the areas showing the subtle differences between the whole notes.
You will find that this approach makes apparent contradictions in the planetary birth positions as well as the progressions and transits more easy to understand. It can also help you understand why, after many years in one of your houses, a slow-moving planet begins to affect the neighboring area while still exerting an influence in the old area, and over time seems to link those parts of our lives together in a set of lessons. Enjoy exploring the possibilities!