What Are Critical Degrees In Astrology And How Do They Affect You

Astrology is so much more than your sun sign -– and if you've spent any amount of time tracking your transits or looking into your birth chart, you'll know there's a lot the stars can show you about all the ways your life might unfold. And even though all charts have the same basic features (signs, planets, houses, aspects, etc.), everyone's chart is unique to them. "Astrology has the capacity to re–attune a person's consciousness to his or her essential nature," writes astrologer Stephen Arroyo in "The Chart Interpretation Handbook." And by studying the cosmic connections in your chart, you can get one step closer to discovering how to leave your mark on the world.

Reading deep into your natal chart is an excellent way to get to know yourself. And as astrologer Kyle Thomas explains, the aspects and degrees in your birth chart provide the link between how all of your planets are communicating with one another. These aspects are calculated with mathematical precision –- with each degree symbolizing a different energy. These points in your chart work together to create a powerful picture of the person you are and the version of yourself you aspire to be. And if you're someone who aspires to make a name for yourself –- or maybe you've just always felt called to a certain dream –- you might be interested to know that the answer to whether you'll obtain fame, fortune, acclaim, and more might be hiding within the critical degrees of your birth chart, via Keen.

What are critical degrees in astrology?

Certain degrees are believed to hold special significance when found within a birth chart. It's thought that a planet that falls within the bounds of a critical degree will have an emphasized importance and influence on a person's life. "Critical degrees are there to provide insight into the life lessons that you are meant to learn in this life," astrologer Maisy Bristol tells Astrology. Your birth chart is laid out on a 360°circle that's divided between the twelve zodiac signs. Each zodiac sign occupies 30° of your birth chart and is then further divided into three decans of 10° each. These decans hold the key to understanding which degrees affect which zodiac signs –- and how it makes your path unique to those around you. "If you've ever wondered why people born with the same sign seem different, decans can help answer this puzzle," astrologer Rachel Lang tells Well+Good

Critical degrees mark the beginning and end points of each decan –- and can give additional context to understanding your birth chart. The classic critical degrees are 0°, 13°, and 26° of the Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn); 8° and 9°, and 21°and 22° degrees of fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius); and 4° and 17° degrees of mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces), per astrologer Bob Makransky. Additionally, 0° and 29° of any sign is considered a critical degree due to the karmic nature of being at the beginning or end of the sign, per Cafe Astrology.

How to work with critical degrees in your birth chart

As you dive deeper into the patterns of your birth chart and learn how everything influences you, the degree a planet falls in can "... give insight into the way energy is being represented or repressed in your birth chart," per Saturn Revolution. For example, having a critical degree in your sun, moon, or rising will influence how you tend to show up in the world, whereas a critical degree in a placement like your Mars or Venus indicates a major focus on your passion and love life. Once you've looked to find the critical degrees in the planetary placements of your chart, you can expand your search to the degrees on the house cusps as well. 

When a planet is at the very beginning degrees of a sign, it symbolizes an area of your life where you are exploring new territory. Planets that fall within the middle degrees between 14° to 16° can pinpoint where you feel stuck or conflicted in life with hopes of moving forward. And finally, the "degree of fate" or the final degree (29°) is emblematic of a final lesson being learned and karmic cycles coming to a close, per Astrology University. Each of these phases has its own challenges and rewards, so rather than focus on the overwhelming task at hand –- try looking at critical degrees in your birth chart as an opportunity to put your best cosmic foot forward.