Frank C. Clifford – The Power Degrees of the Zodiac, part 1


Part 1: Considering the meanings of 0° and 29° in the Horoscope

The following article offers some of my own insights and observations into the first, final degrees of the signs. I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest that these are the most powerful, determining factors in a chart, but they are important ones. It’s an on-going research project and I’ll be using some modern day examples – both natal charts and Solar Arc (SA) Directions – that I hope will be of interest.

The Mundane Picture

On a mundane level, we know that when outer planets transit the final few degrees of a sign, we say goodbye to certain events (and iconic figures) that have been at the heart of that ingress; it’s the end of an era. As these planets ingress into a new sign, we can spot signposts of events to come – the mood of the new transit. The scene is set for the years ahead.

Films and music released at this time can be prophetic. Remember, for instance, the voyeuristic theme of The Truman Show, which was released as Neptune moved into Aquarius – and heralded the start of our fascination with (and loathing of) reality TV?

Laws passed at ingresses can herald the new planetary season. Some weeks after Uranus made its ingress into Aries, France became the first European country to prohibit the wearing in public of the niqab and burka. The planet Uranus is linked to bans and censorship, while Aries rules the face and is concerned with being the first to do things. Accordingly it was a controversial move that had both sides arguing equality – and freedom of expression. “Bans in the name of freedom” seem to be the order of Uranus in Aries!

Neptune’s move into the first degree of Pisces brought more than a whiff of scandal. There were stories about invasions. Not invasions of little green men from outer space abducting farmers and performing surgery on cows; but the invasions of privacy and the abduction of personal data. We read of leaks and infiltrations, cyber warfare and phone-hacking. Who can forget The News of the World scandal in the UK? Perhaps some of the biggest battles of this transit will revolve around the processing and containment of information, and in particular the collection, sale and distribution of personal data. By the end of this transit, there will be little left of personal privacy.

A few years ago, in The Astrological Journal, I wrote that Neptune in Pisces might be seen in:

• The increasing numbers of migrations of nomadic communities without a fixed abode;

• Telepathic forms of everyday communication;

• The erosion of drugs laws and acceptance of certain drugs for medical purposes, and a greater tolerance for euthanasia.

The transit might also link to areas ruled by its opposite sign of Virgo: diseases, viruses and plagues; the evaporation of pensions and health care provisions; and even the disappearance of an official retirement age.

0° in the Natal Chart

So, let’s take a closer look at the first degree of a sign.

When a planet is at 0° in the natal chart:

• There is new territory to explore. As it takes its initial steps into its new surroundings, the planet delights in discovering itself. It anticipates the new journey ahead. Embarking on this voyage, the planet appears highly eager to encounter and get a sense of that which it will become.

• There is a new language to learn and much work to be done; a planet at the beginning of a sign is keen to grasp that sign’s essence.

• It revels in the pure, undiluted nature of the sign. There’s a fresh, unstudied quality to a planet at this degree. There may also be a pioneering feel – those of us who have a planet (especially a personal planet) at 0° have something original to bring forth to the world around us.

• There is a tendency to exhibit only the sign’s most familiar, obvious, prima facie, “textbook” traits. The planet at 0° indulges in a spectrum of sign connotations and associations, but there’s little deftness or experience in how to master the sign yet. The planet has grasped the initial spirit without the awareness that comes from journeying through the sign and owning its essence.

Consider a few pop culture and newsworthy examples.

There’s little subtlety when the Sun is at 0° Aries. Overt, playful sexuality is one theme of this degree. The independent film-maker Russ Meyer was obsessed with low-budget sexploitation films. He directed cult X-rated classics, such as Vixen! and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Featuring Amazonian starlets with gargantuan, pneumatic, gravity-defying breasts, who ran around beating up men who dared to restrict their freedom. (We can see that his chart also contains Venus in Aries opposite Jupiter, Moon–Jupiter, and Mars in Sagittarius on the Descendant.)

Known for his quick wit, Meyer made comedies, live action cartoons that mocked moral stereotypes, using sex to satirize American society. But many feminists hated his adolescent Arien fantasies. He was once confronted by a woman who accused him of being “nothing but a breast man.” He responded, “That’s only the half of it.”

On a deeper level (if there is one!), the first degree of Aries is about a truthful performance, creating something stark and raw. There’s a self-obsession, and a focus on making an impact while on arriving on the scene. We sense immediacy (entering the fray without a plan of attack) and the need for instant arousal and speed, as in Ayrton Senna (Sun at 0° Aries), the Formula One race car legend who died from massive injuries to the head while racing at 280km/h (155 mph) at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Italy. Sports enthusiasts still argue whether he was a reckless renegade or the number one racer of all time.

Aries is a sign associated with physicality and violence (giving or receiving), and also (somewhat paradoxically) associated with blind faith, naïve trust and innocence.

I have a client with the Sun at 0° Aries whose father once remarked upon both her fearlessness and childlike innocence. That’s the key to the first degree of Aries. He said she could have singlehandedly taken on those in the Brixton Riots, but could’ve just as easily been found in the fields talking with the magical fairies and angels she believed in. She is a startling redhead who was at the forefront of many social protests and political rallies in the 1980s; someone who has fought for the underdog but is constantly too trusting and gullible in business. She gives away her time and money – and struggles to keep financially afloat. This placement defines her.

The first degree of Aries needs a clear-cut cause – now! – and sees the world in black and white terms. Not through the lens of cynicism, but through the simple polarities of good and evil, right and wrong: to 0° Aries, you’re either the noble knight or the immoral charlatan.

Gemini at 0° has perhaps the lowest boredom threshold of all time and constantly needs to be “in process” – juggling, scanning, choosing. A planet at this degree immediately sees the polarities, the contradictions, the alternatives and divisions in the world – and it’s not surprising that indecision can become a major problem for the native. Its enthusiasm lies in getting other people to share information, to break the ice, to speak out and communicate. The urge to be heard, understood, and in dialogue is strongest here, as is the flicker of boredom in the eyes when something newer or more tantalizing comes along.

Picture Henry VIII with Venus at 0° Gemini (suggesting fickleness and a non-committal stance in the area of women and attraction). With Venus on the MC, he was known for his numerous wives and his search for one who could deliver – literally and quickly.

A natural reporter, fact-finder and journalist, 0° Gemini is hungry for data in order to find patterns and make links. For instance, data collector Lois Rodden was born with the Sun at 0° Gemini. It wasn’t just a desire to collect information and rate its accuracy; she had an interest in “doubting” the official word – what had come before. We can see this with 0° Gemini: a rejection of what has been embedded by the previous sign (Taurus) or accepted as tradition, and a need to clarify before information-overload (later in the sign of Gemini).

But wait! All of the above are Gemini traits and themes, whatever the degree of Gemini. Nevertheless the nature of the sign is undiluted, simplified, most obvious and raring to go when a planet is at 0°.

What of 0° Virgo? As astrologer Kim Farley often says, “After the party of Leo, someone’s got to clean up.” Someone’s got to dip their toe in and check the temperature – and look for hairs in the bath. And that’s Virgo.

At this degree, there’s a determination to learn a craft and embark upon the simpler life. The understanding here is that to achieve, one must sign up to an apprenticeship, to be of service to a greater good, to have pure intentions, and to attend dutifully to the body and its needs. If 0° Leo is the degree of helping oneself to something, then 0° Virgo is the degree of “self-help,” a solo journey towards making a difference in the world. There’s a belief that one’s singular efforts can make a difference – if one works hard enough – and that the simple things in life are the most profound. These are the things that truly touch the soul. Bob Geldof (with Mars at 0° Virgo) saw the clarity of one man making a difference – he responded to the plight of the starving in Ethiopia. Famine relief, health, (mal)nutrition and the overlooked are all of great concern to the earnest planet positioned at 0° Virgo.

0° in Forecasting

When a planet reaches 0° by transit, progression or Solar Arc (take your pick), there’s a major shift and a new script. The planet has changed sign, element and mode. In forecasting, I predominantly use Solar Arc Directions, where everything in the chart (the planets, angles, house cusps, even retrograde planets) moves forward a degree a year.

With Solar Arc, each planet, angle or point stays at 0° for twelve months, and this sets the mood for the longer period to come. It’s a portent, a signpost of what we can expect for the next thirty years; a sort of “operatic overture” – a condensed, intensely heightened period during which we are swamped by images of this new sign and we experience issues around it. It’s a year of getting to know, and beginning to work out, the essence of that sign.

An important point to remember is that when a planet ingresses into a sign, it “speaks to” and begins to activate every planet/angle natally in that sign, regardless of the actual degree. This is the “natal memory” – what the person knows of the sign from birth. So that initial year at 0° will have a flavor of the new sign and will be tinged by any natal positions in that sign.

A favorite example of mine that I often use is the chart of Pamela Anderson. She posed for Playboy when her Sun directed to 0° Leo, a sign that natally contained the over-the-top glamour combo of Venus and Jupiter in Leo. Now, we’re not all going to pose for Playboy when our Sun’s directed into Leo, but Anderson was ambitious and beautiful, and in the right place at the right time. Leo is linked to the centerfold and big blonde hair, and being a Sun in Cancer in the 1st House, Pamela Anderson was ready to show off her weapons of mass distraction.

Whether the transition to a new sign is easy or fraught depends on numerous things, including the natal planets waiting in the new sign. The week after singer Diana Ross’s, Sun directed into Gemini, her husband announced the end of their marriage – on live TV! Her Sun (already in the 7th House) had left the safety and stability of Taurus – the sign of her Moon and Descendant – and moved into somewhat uncomfortable, unstable ground in Gemini (where Mars, Saturn and Uranus sit). Her MC had also reached the final degree of Libra – and apparently there had been a last attempt at relationship mediation, but the relationship had come to an end, as did the public’s perception of her fairy tale romance (natal Neptune in Libra).


To be continue…



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