The Final Degree in the Natal Chart: Poised for Change
The final degree of a sign (29°, the thirtieth degree) in the natal chart is the end of an era. Known as the anaretic degree (or “degree of fate”), it’s often given a negative spin. Traditional astrologers awarded the malefic’s rulership over the final degrees of the signs. Some horary practitioners observe that the querant can do nothing to affect the outcome; it’s too late to have control over the situation – it’s a fait accompli.
Whereas the 0° planet is taking initial steps on the road ahead and is in the process of envisioning, discovering and mapping out its journey, the planet at 29° senses the end of a familiar path.
• We will encounter some of the most challenging facets of that planetary placement.
• There’s a feeling of inevitability and “fatedness”; there’s no going back; situations are irreversible or irretrievable. There may also be a fascination with that which happened before we were born that cannot be undone – a lifelong mission to come to terms with the circumstances we’ve been saddled with at birth.
• There’s a knowingness about the dynamics of the sign; by now the planet is a seasoned player; it’s earned its stripes, is skilled in that sign, and equipped to deal with issues linked to it. With a natal planet or angle at 29°, we were born to finish the job of that sign — to display (eventual) mastery over its issues.
Here are some examples. The need to take risks – to put oneself on the line – defines 29° Aries. This might mean tap-dancing on a window ledge or walking the high-wire with no net. At 29° Aries, the person may reach crisis point and make a decision without much forethought. Having been through Aries, a planet now basks in its devil-may-care spontaneity – before it has to slow down in Taurus. The degree of 29° Aries exalts in continuing to be childlike regardless of the perils, mishaps or accusations of selfishness. It can also employ force and is no longer afraid of (or deterred by) violence. There’s a skill in promoting a cause and getting people enthused with one’s adventures and battles.
Australian astrologer Anne Button (http://www.veritas.net.au) has done much work on what she calls the “potent and insatiable anaretic degree” – a degree that demands closure and has an insatiable/craving feeling to it. She refers to that planet being in a ‘liminal’ space. This is a disorientating place of transition, waiting and not knowing – when you have left the tried and true (the comfort zone) but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It’s about learning to navigate and live with the ambiguity and haziness of being in an in-between place.
The judge in the Oscar Pistorius case delayed the verdict (September 11, 2014) and left everyone in total Scorpionic suspense. She was waiting for Mars to reach the final degree the next morning (!) where it conjoined Pistorius’s Sun. This is the chart of a do-or-die man who knows nothing but full-on intensity and extreme behavior in his fight against all odds. (It’s interesting to note that the Moon was at 29° Scorpio when Madeleine McCann was abducted on May 3, 2007 – she has not yet been found.)
Another master of the game, Billie Jean King (SolarArc Chart provided), the tennis legend, has the Sun at the final degree of Scorpio. Let’s take a look at her chart. Firstly, though, the Moon is at 0° Libra; she was an early advocate for equal prize money for women athletes, and in the 1970s became an American figurehead of the struggle for female equality. Yet, King is someone who hates confrontation and, with her Moon – Neptune conjunction, was never quite comfortable with the feminist ideology of the time, which she felt could be intolerant and doctrinaire.
With a planet at the final degree of Scorpio, there may be: lifelong compulsions; a steely will, tunnel vision and total intensity one-on-one; an unflinching focus on the final, ultimate goal (be that victory or an obsession with death and endings); an ability to execute under pressure; an all-or-nothing, fight-to-the-death, winner-take-all philosophy; authenticity; emotional inscrutability; and an innate understanding of the relationship between power, money, sex, politics and gender. (I often think Scorpio should go into one of the 3 Ps: Politics, Psychology or Prostitution!) The Sun at 29° Scorpio reveals Billie Jean’s impact on gender politics, as well as the influence she has had on sponsorship (Scorpio – other people’s money) and prize money in the women’s game. This Sun placement was not without heavy personal consequences; she had to keep her (homo)sexuality hidden. The newly founded women’s tennis tour and her own livelihood depended on this being kept secret.
The final degree of Scorpio knows how to play the game – to suss out the competition and devise a strategy. When King agreed to participate in a Battle of the Sexes tennis match, she needed nerves of steel to beat hustler Bobby Riggs, who had just defeated the women’s #1 player, Margaret Court. The match had 30,000 spectators and 40 million at home in front of their televisions. It divided America into men for Bobby and women for Billie Jean. On that night, Venus and Mars were in opposition and in mutual reception: what a perfect planetary set-up for a “battle of the sexes”! Venus was in powerful, premeditated and poker-faced Scorpio. It stood less than one degree opposite Mars in solid but slow Taurus, which had turned retrograde the day before. King stayed focused and made Riggs look old and slow. She won in straight sets!
Scorpio is a politically savvy sign that experiences (and is adept at handling) crises and extremes. With King’s Sun at the final degree of Scorpio, she knows that the buck stops with her. She was born (Sun) to take control (Scorpio) and complete (29°) a Scorpio theme. Not surprisingly, at the time of this sports circus extravaganza, King’s Sun had directed to 29° Sagittarius (natally the Sun is square Jupiter in Leo). It was an over-the-top, surreal spectacle befitting Sagittarius: one loud night of high drama, hyperbole, and publicity on the world stage. It would overshadow the lifelong sporting achievements of both athletes. The win over Riggs would give King and her cause the professional credibility she craved (the Sun directed from Sagittarius to Capricorn soon after).
Speaking of 29° Sagittarius – it can be larger than life, with a gift for seeing the big picture. Think of Judy Garland’s emotional, histrionic performances that packed a punch in your gut – designed to capture an audience’s love. She had the Moon at the final degree of Sagittarius. But 29° Sagittarius can also be the breadth and height of indiscretion. If you want something to go out with a whimper or pass unnoticed, please don’t do it when a planet has directed to this degree of Sagittarius!
When Sarah Ferguson offered an undercover journalist “cash for access” to her former husband in April 2012, her SA Mercury had reached the final degree of Sagittarius. What a gaffe that action proved to be! Hopefully, a final one. And the Solar Arc was all the more potent since natal Mercury rules her Midheaven (her reputation) and comes from a conjunction with Neptune in Scorpio in the 12th House. This is not a woman who can hold on to her many secrets.
With her natal MC at 29° Scorpio, Heidi Fleiss was the reigning million-dollar madam of Hollywood and the keeper of the town’s most intimate secrets in her infamous “black book.” (We can speculate that Charlie Sheen’s name was on half the pages – with his MC on her Ascendant– Venus conjunction in Aquarius! Interestingly, documentary-maker Nick Broomfield made a fascinating film about Fleiss and his Sun is also on this conjunction. She sure knew how to bring them in.)
With a 29° Scorpio MC and the Sun in Capricorn, Heidi’s story is about control – her need for absolute control. Although she never wanted to be famous or exposed (Scorpio prefers to keep control in the boardroom, not on the stage), she was one of the most influential madams in the US – and all before her Saturn Return. Her power extended to playing matchmaker to the richest men in the world, pairing them with women tailored for their every fantasy. But like a good Capricorn businesswoman, Fleiss took a 40 per cent cut of their earnings. On her slowest night, she made $10,000.
Her arrogant and cocky persona proved to be her downfall. With Mercury in Sagittarius square Uranus–Pluto in the 8th, she once boasted, “I took the oldest profession on earth and I did it better than anyone on earth.” When her MC was at the end of Sagittarius, her high-profile case ended when her conviction for pandering was overturned – she got lucky temporarily. But she later served 20 months inside for tax evasion when the MC moved into Capricorn. And then it really was over. She said, “I had the party, did the party, threw the party, was the party. I’m partied out.”
Gender, sex and secrets are all on the agenda in Scorpio, particularly the final degree, where there’s a mastery of anything covert, underground, clandestine. As Quentin Crisp wrote, “The war between the sexes is the only one in which both sides regularly sleep with the enemy.” Another expert in the battle of the sexes is Germaine Greer, with Mars at 29° Scorpio in the 10th House and co-ruling the MC. Mars closely trines Pluto.
Billy Tipton was a jazz musician who married four times. Not until his post-mortem was it revealed that Billy was really a woman – who had lived life as a man so as to be accepted as a musician in the 1930s and 1940s. This revelation left his wives and three adopted sons bewildered – they hadn’t had the slightest suspicion that their dad was female. Note Tipton’s Ascendant ruler is Venus, and it’s at 29° of inscrutable Scorpio. It’s also closely trine Neptune on the MC, which in itself is a placement of speculation and mystery. “Is he or isn’t she?”
Consider the chart for when Martin Bashir secretly interviewed Diana, Princess of Wales, in what was to become the most astonishing, shattering and indiscreet royal interview of all time. Transiting Pluto was at 29° Scorpio when they taped the conversation. When it aired two weeks later, Pluto had moved into less-than-cautious Sagittarius. The Princess’s ploy backfired and set the scene for the dismantling of her public life, established her global notoriety as a loose cannon, and even foreshadowed the tragedies that lay ahead. (Diana died when her Solar Arc Moon reached 29° Pisces: it was the finale of her domestic drama, the warped fairy tale, and the start of some major speculation surrounding her demise. In addition, when she was laid to rest, she became the Lady of the Lake. Incidentally, the Queen’s Solar Arc Ascendant was at 29° Pisces, too.)
To get a final feel for the last degree of Scorpio as a “hotly political” degree, consider the horoscope for Margaret Thatcher’s resignation Facing the humiliation of defeat in a leadership contest and a lack of support from colleagues, the three-time Prime Minister signed her resignation statement at 7:35 a.m. on November 22, 1990. The Sun was rising on the Ascendant at 29° Scorpio – it was the end of a leader who had wielded total Scorpionic control. Thatcher never recovered from her party’s betrayal, branding it “treachery with a smile on its face.” The degree of 29° Scorpio was fitting – it was the end of her “acid reign” — eleven ruthless, controversial years in power. (John F. Kennedy’s assassination on the same date in Dallas in 1963 also occurred when the Sun was 29° Scorpio.)
With 0° Leo there’s an interest in (and desire for) celebrity or in reveling in one’s own world of creative adventures, and relishing the discovery/realization that Leo can create. Sometimes the desperation for recognition, the spotlight and personal glory is palpable (think of Madonna – Venus at 0° Leo – and her blonde ambition). But, by the final degree of Leo a planet or angle has developed style, star presence, élan, and demonstrates a natural ability to deal (and mix) with celebrity. There’s authority and respect – the final word on advice, on knowing what’s best for us – but a warning of egomania and excessive pride. While 0° Leo has an instinct to demand attention, 29° Leo has a natural ability to command it. And what of 29° Pisces, the final degree of the zodiac? Pisces is occasionally and unfairly branded the dustbin of the zodiac. The final degree of Pisces is about “rest cures, religion and pills,” as the Sondheim song goes. Pisces is the true survivor, and 29° Pisces has seen it all. The first client I ever had with the Sun at 29° Pisces had come through addictions, gurus, religions, self-help quick-fixes and 101 other ways to escape the mundane world and connect to something higher. He’d tried everything.
Pisces at 29° recognizes that we are all made of the same magic (although its opposite sign, Virgo, might call it “dirt”). It’s the talent to save, rescue and pour energy into addressing the needs of the forgotten and disenfranchised. Think of singer-turned-saint Bono, who has his MC ruler Mars at 29° Pisces. Saving people in crisis situations.
That final degree is not always a blessing – it’s also the degree of those who feel duped by people or have experienced major betrayal. One woman (a Sun Pisces with Pisces MC) discovered her record company had siphoned off her royalties when her MC moved to 29° Pisces. She launched an attack and filed a lawsuit when the MC moved into 0° Aries. It was a dirty fight and took eight years of her life and reputation. She finally won the lawsuit and rights to her royalties when her Sun moved to 0° Taurus, suggesting she was now moving to a firmer financial foundation.
Evangelists (messengers of good news) usually have strongly Jupiterian and Neptunian charts (or their signs prominent). They are missionaries who sell and promote their vision of God, rescuing and offering redemption. With Mars at 29° Pisces, evangelist Jim Bakker saw himself as the ultimate visionary: he had a Jesus complex and felt crucified and betrayed by those who sought to curtail his brand of selling God on TV. His was “prosperity theology”: make money, give it to us, and then you’ll be happy and go to Heaven. In short, the donation box got bigger than the message and the Gospel. In March 1987, Bakker fell from grace as his Solar Arc Sun reached 29° Aquarius. Soon after, the Sun entered Pisces and he was truly crucified (most famously bound in chains and humiliated in front of the world’s media). He was handed a 45-year prison sentence for mail fraud.
At the final degree of Virgo, there’s consideration for the underprivileged (knowing what it’s like to feel small, degraded or overlooked), and an ability to deal with crisis issues around health and safety. Along with 29° Capricorn, here we have the control freak who has already considered every angle, whether it’s the diet, schedule, route or other people’s habits. There’s a finicky attention to detail, to getting it right, being faithful to one’s word, ensuring contracts and agreements are drawn up with every ‘T’ crossed, etc. There’s an obsession with precision and sculpting (e.g. creating the body – perfecting a craft, and finishing the apprenticeship. Often there’s a need for an unpretentious, understated (sometimes solitary) life – feeling content in the rhythms of regular life.
Remember Jack Nicholson (with the Moon at the final degree of Virgo) in As Good As It Gets as the obsessive-compulsive novelist who avoids the cracks in the road and eats at the same table in the same restaurant every day? That phrase “as good as it gets” should be a mantra for all those final-degree Virgos to enjoy life now.
In the UK politics, we had the Labor Party’s “Red Queen” Barbara Castle (SolarArc Chart provided). As a Libran, her Venus placement at 29° Virgo assumes greater importance: her concern was Libran and Virgoan – a concern for care, safety and addressing the ills and injustices of society.
She was put in charge of the Department of Employment and Productivity (Virgo), radically reformed pensions (pensions are, aptly, what you get at the end – 29° – of your working life), higher pay for nurses and increased benefits for old and disabled people. She brought in seat belts for cars and the breathalyzer law, and ensured Child Benefit was paid to mothers rather than through the father’s pay packet. Castle was chief architect of the Equal Pay Act (following the famous Dagenham women’s strike at the Ford plant, as TR Uranus crossed over her Mercury and later Venus). When the film Made in Dagenham was released, Jupiter was conjunct Uranus at 29° Pisces. It recently transpired that Castle drew up a dossier on VIP pedophiles but the document was confiscated for “national security reasons.”
George W. Bush’s Solar Arc Ascendant was at 29°59’ Virgo (the sign of his natal Mars) at the time of 9/11. It was the crisis of his life and yet the moment he’d been waiting for. The Ascendant would then move into Libra (where the Moon, Jupiter and Neptune are placed), giving rise to a new script on a wave of nationalistic fervor and patriotism (Moon–Jupiter); an attempt to put the wrongs to rights and bring the terrorists to justice (Libra). Who knows how much Neptune played in clouding the real issues? With Neptune, I guess he chose the wrong week to give up drinking …
29° in Forecasting
What of the final degree in forecasting? Here are some observations:
• It’s the end of a chapter. We’re poised for change, but before we jump into a new field of experience (and perhaps an unknown scenario) we must deal with a crisis of sorts…
• It’s a year when some of the most challenging aspects of the sign demand to be seen and resolved. It’s the end of the line – can we meet the demands before moving on? It’s the end of a 30-year era and often coincides with an intense twelve months (the final degree) that ‘packs a punch’ – a time when exaggerated manifestations of that sign appear as life events.
• We can truly make our mark by wrapping up long-term endeavors.
Positively, that which has been mastered – skills that have been acquired – can be put to good use in these twelve months. This is where the last degree can truly come into its own. It can be a year of distinction or simply concluding a long period of endeavor.
In 1997, intrepid British politician Mo Mowlam worked to restore an IRA ceasefire in Northern Ireland and persuaded various sides to participate in the peace process – all during a time when she was fighting a brain tumor. Mowlam was instrumental in the signing of the Good Friday Peace Agreement on April 10, 1998, when her SA Saturn had reached 29° Libra. She retired from Parliament two years later. In hindsight, it’s clear that her historic work had been completed at this time. It proved to be her legacy.
Woody Allen’s Ascendant reached 29° Libra when he began a relationship with his partner Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter. It was still at 29° Libra when Farrow split up with him. The degree of 29° Libra is linked to the lastchance attempts to keep a relationship in balance before war breaks out; the final attempt at a diplomatic solution. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
The final degree of Scorpio is the crisis degree of the crisis sign. In forecasting, it is a tough, profound period, “a dark night of the soul” before we see the light of day in Sagittarius. A student of mine had her Midheaven Solar Arc to 29° Scorpio when her niece was bullied on Facebook into committing suicide. The same degree was on Prince Harry’s Midheaven when Diana was killed, and on Marlon Brando’s Midheaven when his troubled daughter killed herself.
No Turning Back: When Scripts Change
Finally, here are a few more examples of events when planets and angles directed to 0° or 29°. Superman Christopher Reeve: (SolarArc Chart provided) his natal Moon –Mars in Sagittarius suggests his love of horse-riding and competitive horsemanship. When he was thrown from his horse, at an event on May 27, 1995, he was left paralyzed — a quadriplegic and unable to breathe on his own. Note the tight natal quincunx from Mars to Uranus. By Solar Arc, Mars had reached 0° Aquarius, and Uranus 0° Virgo, starting a very new script in his life. By transit, Mars was at 0° Virgo and Uranus at 0° Aquarius – a remarkable repetition of planetary aspects. (Chiron, so often associated with horses and motorcycles, had directed to the Descendant and another link to horses, Jupiter, had directed to square Mercury.)
Gordon Brown waited a long time to see his dream of premiership come true. When he became Prime Minister, his Solar Arc MC had finally reached his Sun, a classic leadership measurement and a Solar Arc year of a memorable change in status. At 0° Pisces, perhaps he was destined to play out the role of patsy. Three years later, Brown called an election. I’m assuming he did this without an astrologer: transiting Pluto was on his MC and his Sun had directed to 29° Aries and his MC ruler Saturn to 29° Scorpio – it was time for another big script change. I guess he chose the wrong week to call an election!
Political defeats and resignations are fascinating astrologically. Americans won’t have forgotten Gary Hart’s resignation due to the rumors of an extra-marital affair (famously on a boat called Monkey Business) on May 8, 1987, just 26 days into his presidential campaign. Only days before, he’d dared the press, “Follow me around … If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’ll be very bored.” They weren’t! Natally, Hart has a tight square from Mars in Libra to his MC in Capricorn (warning of sexual pursuits damaging his civic reputation). By Solar Arc, his MC had reached 29° Aquarius and his Mars 29° Scorpio – both crisis degrees. The Moon had entered Leo, bringing much attention to his emotional and daily life. I guess he chose the wrong week to give up adultery!
And whatever happened to labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa? Well, don’t ask me, but his chart at the time of his disappearance (July 30, 1975) certainly describes the end of a chapter: Solar Arc Ascendant at 29° Aries, and the Moon–Saturn at 29° Cancer (plus Pluto at 0° Virgo). Perhaps he met a violent, Aries end and probably is in a deadweight Moon–Saturn home/coffin at the bottom of the sea (Cancer).
Can They Talk!
Let’s end with the degree that likes to have the final word: 29° Gemini. Here we have the multi-tasker, adept at technology or language or making connections. The difficulty lies in finishing things off – they try to juggle too much and are weighed down by chronic indecision – and then they drop the ball.
The final degree of Gemini disperses the information (or says their piece) and then leaves others to handle the aftermath, just as whistleblower Ed Snowden did (Sun at 29° Gemini), avoiding the conflict and consequences (characteristic of the mutable signs). Interestingly, his Sun had Solar Arc directed to the degree of the US’s natal Pluto when he released the classified documents.
Someone else more than able to drop a Gemini bomb was age-obsessed Joan Rivers, born with Mercury and Venus at the final degree of Gemini. Whether she was talking about her body, what the famous are wearing or quipping that Michelle Obama was a transgender, Joan Rivers was the wisecracking witch who spelled it with a ‘b’. In fact, one person roasted her with the line, “Joan, you’ve been called “bitch” more times than a white guy serving a life sentence.” Rivers died last year (September 4, 2014) without having the final word, so I’m giving it to her now. Well, sort of.
Picture it, The Tonight Show, the mid-80s. Joan is guest host. She’s interviewing actress Joan Collins, herself a Gemini (possibly with Aries rising, too) and both are monuments to malice. Suddenly she turns to Joan Collins and says, “OK, Joan, of all the husbands you’ve had, who was the best lover?” Joan Collins replied, “Yours, darling.” It was the only time Joan Rivers was struck dumb and lost for words.
Over the past twenty-five years, Frank Clifford has built an eclectic career as a consultant, publisher, columnist, media astrologer, lecturer, and a writer of a dozen books, including his textbook Getting to the Heart of Your Chart. Frank lives in England, where he runs The London School of Astrology (www.londonschoolofastrology.co.uk) and teaches astrology and palmistry in person and online. He writes for The Mountain Astrologer and has guest-edited five recent issues. In 2012, Frank became the thirteenth (and youngest) recipient of The Charles Harvey Award, a lifetime achievement accolade for ‘exceptional service to astrology’. www.flareuk.com (website), email@example.com