NOTE – This article first appeared in Dell Horoscope magazine in the July/August 2019 edition. Many thanks to Editor-in-Chief Ronnie Grishman for offering the opportunity, publishing this article and for giving me a thrill of making it to the front cover in the year I had my progressed Full Moon in Sagittarius! Sadly, Dell horoscope magazine has now stopped publishing and is much missed.
Historically, the final or anaretic degree of a sign from 29°00’00” to 29°59’59” has been associated with some dark and difficult interpretations. The word anaretic itself is rooted in killer or destroyer. It can be assumed that these negative associations stem from Egyptian Terms where the last degrees of all the signs are either ruled by malefics Mars or Saturn. Anaretic degrees are also part of a group known as critical degrees and I first came across talk of these when I was learning Horary Astrology. In his seminal work on the topic, Anthony Louis says:
“A planet in a critical degree is like a person wandering through a demilitarized zone between North and South Korea…It’s a risky place to be.” P.287
The 29th degree then is like the ultimate no man’s land. Consequently, much is written about how difficult these degrees are, how sensitive, how volatile.
In fairy tales and folklore however, ‘in-between places’ hold great mystery. Dawn, dusk, midnight, the shore where sea meets land, crossroads – all mark a moment of change from one state to another. The 29th degree too is liminal, standing at the threshold of the next sign. In my own studies, I have found that there’s a sense of magic about these degrees although this does not negate the potential difficulties.
At critical moments of change, there’s a crescendo, a swell of energy bloating and distorting. Just as studies show the brain often fires a surge of activity right before death, so too does the 29th degree seem to become bigger, brighter, bolder, louder as it nears the end of its journey. Perhaps one of the paradoxes about the threshold degrees is despite them being in a state of change and the concept of blurred lines, this is the moment that they also express the pure attributes of their sign to the extreme. One of the most common problems is that when these degrees are activated by a hard aspect, they can overcompensate and over-react. Just as a stressed person about to move to a new house might feel at the end of their tether, so can the 29th degree planet feel like it’s at breaking point.
One of the most common discussions we see about the 29th degree is the association with karma or fate. In horary astrology, a planet at 29 degrees is often void of course meaning that there will be no further major aspects before the planet leaves its sign. All the action has already happened. There’s nothing further that can be done. Fate/karma is in motion and consequences cannot be avoided. A horary chart with 29 degrees on the Ascendant is invalid. The question is already answered or a moot point. It’s gone, done, stop asking, give it to the Gods. All we can do is wait for the next chapter to unfold.
Another attribute of the void of course planet is that as there are no further aspects to make, it can feel like moving into the void. It’s been described as a lonely degree. Elvis Presley had Venus at 29CAP21 and often expressed loneliness both personally and through his songs such as ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’. Certainly, it seems as though those who have this degree in the natal chart can be ahead of the crowd. Natives can stand out or be outstanding, receiving the consequential infamy or fame. Oscar Pistorius is a prime example of both – famous for being a blade runner of outstanding ability and then acquiring infamy when he murdered his girlfriend. His Sun is at 29SCO44. Child killer Myra Hindley had her Sun at 29CAN32 and Venus at 29GEM43. The press constantly referred to her as ‘the most evil woman in Britain’. Germaine Greer, a leader in the second wave of feminism has an anaretic Mars, the universally accepted symbol to represent ‘man’! Oprah Winfrey, one of the greatest philanthropists in American history has her Ascendant at 29SAG40.
From an evolutionary astrology point of view, a person with natal planets or angles at 29 degrees of a sign is in a process of concluding a certain spiritual lesson. In life, it can manifest as a feeling of urgency, like something must be done. It’s all or nothing, critical (!), now or never. We need catharsis and we need it now. When that planet or point is activated by transit or progression, these powerful energies flood out and it can feel like things happen that are out of our control that push us towards a certain path. 29 degrees often has a sense of a mission to accomplish. We could also say that perhaps the soul has had many lifetimes of experiences with this particular energy in their chart. At its best, the 29th degree can be a wise teacher who has mastered all forms of expression in that sign placement. The 29th degree can be a degree of great maturity, a sage, a guru. Generally, the planet with the highest degree in the chart represents the part of the psyche that has developed the most.
So, the 29th degree of a sign can give us the following attributes and associations: –
Loneliness and vulnerability
Wisdom and mastery
A spark of magic
Harbinger of change
A leader in the field
The Anaretic Degree in Practice
Let’s look at some examples. Before I continue, it’s worth reiterating that all charts require a full delineation to achieve the most depth and nuance of personality and potential. However, what I hope to provide here are some illustrations of how these degrees can work in practice to give food for thought in chart interpretation. Note that I use Equal house throughout and birth place for return charts.
Natal Chart Examples:
David Attenborough – Natal Chiron 29ARI02, 3rd House
Chiron – The Wounded Healer, Teacher, Mentor, Centaur (half human, half animal)
Aries – A leader, enthusiasm, animation
3rd House – Communication, education, mind and learning
Sabian Symbol – A Duck pond and its Brood
David Attenborough has been described as ‘a National Treasure’ and is one of the UK’s best loved TV personalities. He is perhaps one of the most striking examples of an anaretic degree as ‘wisdom and mastery’.
David Attenborough is widely known for his documentary series ‘Life on Earth’. For forty years, Attenborough has brought the wonders of the natural world into our homes, teaching us about the creatures that roam the planet. In the first series, Attenborough found himself amidst a family of wild great apes and the ad lib scene that followed has been voted as one of the 100 greatest moments in television history. The scene was aired on April 3, 1979, just as Attenborough completed the third in a series of three squares between Jupiter and Chiron. Jupiter is associated with meaning, understanding and all things that are big! In a quiet, reverent voice, Attenborough delivered the famous line “There is more meaning and mutual understanding in exchanging a glance with a gorilla than with any other animal I know…”
George Elliot – Natal Sun 29SCO06, 1st house
The Sun – name, identity, purpose
Scorpio – secrecy, psychology and crime
1st house – appearance, how we present ourselves to others and how others see us
Sabian Symbol – The Hallowe’en Jester
A famous novelist, ‘George Eliot’ was really Mary Anne Evans. She wrote under a male pseudonym to encourage readers to take her work more seriously. She wasn’t considered beautiful enough to attract a marriage, so her father invested in her education. When her first novel received positive attention, an imposter tried to claim it for themselves, forcing her to reveal her identity. Her greatest novel ‘Middlemarch’ is notable for its deep psychological insight.
Edward VIII – Black Moon Lilith (True position) 29CAP13, 12th House conjunct Ascendant
Black Moon Lilith – Forbidden fruit, ‘the other woman’, equality, exile
Capricorn – Convention, authority, rigidity, restriction
12th House – Hidden enemies, the unconscious, behind the scenes, retreat
Sabian symbol – A Secret Business Conference
Edward VIII had already raised eyebrows by having an affair with Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. When Edward became King, despite royal protocol, he proposed to Wallis. This caused a constitutional crisis as a divorced woman was considered ‘morally unacceptable’. The King was expected to honour historical rules and the higher authority of the Church. Edward proposed that Wallis be given a different title than ‘Queen’ to resolve the problem, but this idea was rejected. Consequently, Edward, who only had eyes for Wallis, abdicated December 10, 19361. After giving up his royal title, he addressed the country via the radio saying, “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.”. In the following year, just after Pluto opposed BML, Edward and Wallis visited Hitler. It’s widely believed that Edward sympathised with Fascism and possibly even leaked allied plans.
Donald Trump – ASC 29LEO58
Ascendant – How we interact with the world
Leo – Pride, Theatre, Arrogance
Sabian Symbol – An Unsealed Letter
With Donald Trump’s Ascendant anaretic, this is a critical lifetime where he is pushed to complete a mission, perhaps one that involves being more confident and self-affirming given that his ruling Gemini Sun is conjunct the North Node in the 10th house. It is natural, with this chart, to be in the public eye however unfortunately Trump has fallen into the trap of anaretic overcompensation.
At its most negative depiction, 29 Leo wants to shine at all costs and is puffed up with pride. The Sabian symbol working negatively can depict a ‘blabbermouth’!
“Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” Twitter, 9/5/13
Not all of us have a natal anaretic planet or point but all of us will experience times in our lives when planets will become anaretic by progression, solar arc or solar/lunar return. I find these critical degrees to be integral to predictive work. The progressed Moon changes signs every two and a half years, each time staying for one month on the final degree of its sign. These can denote times of emotional difficulty, crisis or heightened needs. An anaretic Sun in the progressed chart will stay on that degree for an entire year and often manifests as a critical turning point in the life of the native. There’s a similar feeling when progressed angles become anaretic with either the physical appearance or outlook undergoing changes (the Ascendant) or the career or status at a turning point (MC). When planets progress to an anaretic degree, often they bring to the foreground the natural attributes of that planet. For example, Jupiter rules the hips and in the year my progressed Jupiter became anaretic, my hip osteoarthritis became significantly worse. The problem has become chronic, but I imagine will improve when my progressed Jupiter moves into Virgo in 2024. Due to the slow movement of the progressed chart, sometimes a planet progresses to an anaretic degree never to move to the next degree in this lifetime. This brings with it a sense that there’s an ongoing mission and it remains a constant background hum.
Progressed and Solar Arc Examples
Queen Elizabeth II
Between April 1992 and April 1993, the Queen’s progressed Midheaven was anaretic in Capricorn. As mentioned earlier, Capricorn is connected to the constitution, tradition, authority as well as structure and establishment. In a speech given on 24 November that year, the Queen called 1992 her annus horribilis (horrible year) due to the many difficult events that had occurred. The public image (the Midheaven) of the Royal family had taken a difficult turn as divorce (Prince Andrew and Princess Anne) and scandal (Princess Diana’s true story published) hit the headlines. The year culminated in a major fire at Windsor castle, one of the Queen’s main residences, which caused major destruction. It was highly symbolic perhaps of the tumultuous affairs of the family.
Currently, the Queen’s Progressed Ascendant is anaretic in Gemini but, in conjunction with progressed Venus, the changes indicated during this anaretic year have been much happier, centring around family weddings and (multiple!) births of grandchildren.
The Queen’s Sun too is also anaretic and has been since October 29, 2018. During the first part of this journey, the transiting North Node has been conjunct the progressed Sun which is a protective influence. Between March 22 and April 17, 2019, both the Queen’s progressed lights will be anaretic. Along with Pluto conjunct her Ascendant this year, these are strong indicators of powerful upcoming changes in the Queen’s life.
On June 15, 2015, transiting Saturn completed its second square to Trump’s Ascendant. The following day, Trump announced his run for presidency. By July 24, 2015, his progressed Sun was anaretic, conjoining his natal Ascendant degree on July 25, 2016. As Trump’s progressed Sun emerged from the hidden 12th house and entered Virgo on August 6, 2016, this heralded his coming into the spotlight after playing for many years behind the scenes and a change of identity as he was then elected president in November 2016. Note that on election day, Mars was anaretic therefore activating his Ascendant and all natal house cusps.
At around 9.30 a.m. on November 22, 1990, Downing Street announced Margaret Thatcher’s resignation. The anaretic transiting Sun in her first house was on the midpoint of her solar arc Mercury and Neptune, both anaretic. Mercury was the ruler of her Midheaven. Neptune can symbolise giving up, defeat, sacrifice, photography, tears. She was famously photographed crying as she left Number 10.
Solar Returns Examples
Solar return charts that feature an anaretic planet tend to revolve around the issues connected to that planet’s symbolism during that solar year. In my own life for example, the year that my SR Sun (identity) conjoined anaretic Mars (fire, independence) in the 10th house (career) was the year that the building I worked in burned to the ground, propelling me towards self-employment.
Queen Elizabeth II
An anaretic Ascendant in the Solar return can generally bring the idea of a ‘big year’ as life is about to change. The Queen’s Solar Return on April 20, 1997 was particularly ominous with the Ascendant on 29TAU19, the degree associated with ‘the weeping sisters’. Ceres (the Mother) and Neptune (loss, fairy tales) were both anaretic with the former tightly square to the Ascendant and the latter conjunct the MC. This was the year that Diana, the mother of the Queen’s grandsons and the ‘fairy-tale Princess’ was killed in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.
Solar Return July 5, 1953 Ascendant 29VIR51. Virgo is associated with health so we could deduce a possible health crisis, especially as chart ruler Mercury was conjunct the South Node. The MC is also anaretic in Gemini. Gemini rules those things that come in pairs. In August that year. Frida’s right leg was amputated below the knee.
Solar Return January 8, 1956. Capricorn Rising. Ruler Saturn (things that stand the test of time) is anaretic at 29SCO36. This was the year, Elvis recorded Heartbreak Hotel (remember natal anaretic Venus!) and catapulted him into the history books. In the beginning though, not everyone enjoyed Elvis’s style with the British notably placing the single on the ‘restricted’ playlist.
Anaretic Degrees in Mundane Astrology
Currently as I write, the UK government are in disarray after prime minister Theresa May lost a vote on her proposed Brexit deal. It’s the biggest government defeat in history. Out of interest, Teresa May herself has three anaretic planets, Saturn and Pluto which square one another and also Neptune. On first coming to power, she was called ‘the new iron lady’ by the press. It seems that Neptune holds that ‘little spark of magic’ as despite the opposition, she has survived several no confidence votes whilst Neptune by transit has been conjunct her natal Mars. A little ‘divine intervention’ perhaps!
Brexit itself is scheduled for 29 March 2019 at 11 pm UK time. The chart for this time has ruler Mars at 29TAU08 conjunct the Descendant. No wonder there’s so much heated contention over the whole business, and no one can agree! In the UK’s chart, progressed Uranus (liberation) is also currently anaretic and has been since the coalition government came to power in 2010. It perhaps explains why there’s such a political drive to ‘break free’.
In the US chart, Pluto is anaretic in Capricorn and has been since December 2002. Issues of power, control, guns, war, terrorism, oil, wealth have been heightened since that time. Pluto will remain anaretic until 2049. However, with the US about to go through a Pluto return in 2022, we can anticipate that all things connected to the Lord of the Underworld will be front and centre. Critical structural changes are coming.
- Edward signed the abdication papers on December 10, 1936. His final act as King was December 11, 1936 – the Royal Assent of his own abdication.
All charts sourced from Astrodatabank: https://www.astro.com/astro-databank/Main_Page
Note, I used the exact location coordinates for the birth of Edward VIII at White Lodge, Richmond Park.
Sky Script Glossary of Terms http://www.skyscript.co.uk/gl/anareta.html
Horary Astrology: The History and Practice of Astro-Divination by Anthony Louis. Llewellyn Publications, 1991
Reconsidering the Zodiac’s 29th Degree by Michele Adler. The Mountain Astrologer October/November 2015
Critical Points: The First and Final Degrees of a Sign by Frank Clifford. The Mountain Astrologer December 2012/January 2013
Frida: The Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera, Bloomsbury Publishing 2003
The Sabian Symbols in Astrology by Dr. Marc Edmund Jones. Aurora Press 1993
On This Day BBC 1990: Thatcher quits as prime minister http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/november/22/newsid_2549000/2549189.stm
The Queen’s ‘Annus Horribilis’ Speech https://www.royal.uk/annus-horribilis-speech
How David Attenborough changed television by showing us the true face of nature https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/features/david-attenborough-dynasties-bbc-one-our-planet-netflix-wwf-a8625746.html
May suffers heaviest parliamentary defeat of a British PM in the democratic era
Archive TV’s 100 Greatest Moments https://web.archive.org/web/20150221232454/http://www.itnsource.com/en/shotlist/ITVProgs/1999/09/11/Y09150001/