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Cusps and Liminality

Growing up in Canada, we were never far from the US border, crossing back and forth many times. From a young age, I became accustomed to feeling the atmosphere change every time we approached the imaginary line that separated the two nations. The landscape started to change; it seemed stark, often barren, strange. As we approached the queue at the crossing point, we felt an increase in adrenaline, anxious about what might happen. And then, as we passed through to the other side, an unfamiliar environment began to emerge — different speed limits, new road signs, money that had to be exchanged, different shops and business names. We had passed through a threshold; we were in transition, in a liminal zone. And, it took time to become accustomed to the territory on the other side.

The shift in mood began a few miles before the literal boundary, as if we had entered an intermediary zone, a transitional moment. I imagine zodiacal sign cusps like boundary crossings. Both are human constructs, conceived to contain and identify a region’s character, nature, culture, perhaps even its soul, certainly its essence. Although the borders and cusps are imaginary, their implications are “real” as they are embodied in time and place.

When slower-moving vehicles (i.e., the outer planets) approach a sign cusp, they venture across the boundary, but often return back to the other side, as if their first approach was not complete. They turn around to cross over the borderline again, having had an opportunity to refocus and reassess the passage, entering the next time hopefully with more consciousness. For a moment, the planet is on the margins, in a liminal zone, in limbo. Their purpose and intent are summoned, as at any frontier a declaration of intention must be made.

This can happen a few times. Currently, Pluto is moving back and forth across the borderline between Capricorn and Aquarius three times.

Pluto’s ingress (UT)
Pluto’s ingress into Aquarius: (1) March 23, 2023   (2) Jan. 21, 2024    (3) Nov. 19, 2024
Pluto’s retrograde ingress into Capricorn:  (1) June 11, 2023    (2) Sept. 2, 2024

As Pluto crosses the border for the first time, it focuses its gaze on the Aquarian topography. There are new signs of democratic, egalitarian, and social reforms. Protests, new language, and technologies are arising. Old systems are being dismantled. But then Pluto retrogrades, turns around and crosses back into Capricorn, being confronted with the loss of what was not transformed, with missed opportunities, broken systems and structures. The consequences and aftereffects of the past 16 years of economical, governmental, and ecological excavations on the Capricornian landscape are in the spotlight. What can be redeemed, reworked, or relinquished in order to transition into the new territory? Not much time, so what incomplete and unconscious agendas will be brought over the borderline?

Time is repositioned as Saturnian Capricorn gives way to Saturnian Aquarius; the themes are still there, but now the people, not the organizations, are handed the power. It is a time in between reality and possibility. It is a time of intensity. A crossover is happening. And like all sacred texts tell us: when we are liminal, on the threshold, that is when divine beings appear as guides through the transitional process.


Brian Clark has been an astrological student, counsellor, and educator for over 50 years. His astrological work has always been informed by the ambiguous yet multi-layered nature of its symbols, a focus of one of his books Soul, Symbol and Imagination. Over the years, Brian has taught at international workshops and retreats in Australia, Asia, North America, and Europe. He continues his consulting and tutoring practice, administrating his distance learning program, as well as teaching, and writing for astrological and psychological journals. Brian has his MA in Classics and Archaeology from the University of Melbourne and has been honoured with lifetime membership from the state, national, and professional astrological organizations in Australia.

photo: Fredrik Solli Wanden on Unsplash

Editor’s note: Brian’s blog is setting the stage for our upcoming mini-series on Pluto’s back-and-forth between Capricorn and Aquarius — coming in December.


  1. I love the eloquence and wisdom in this piece: it conveys the threat/opportunity dynamic present in our experiences of liminality both collective and personal, in a manner which is both honest and inspiring.
    Thanks, Brian!

  2. Great blog! Thank you Brian! I love the border analogy

  3. Growing up in Michigan, I can relate to your experiences of crossing the border. I love the optimism that you end this piece with – yes, it does seem as if divine beings appear to help us cross thresholds. Thank you for this thoughtful piece!

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