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.
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.
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Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, as well as a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.