There is no such thing as a critical degree. You hear about this all the time. “My Sun is in critical degrees,” or “My Venus is in anaretic degrees.” That’s another thing. You always hear about these mysterious critical degrees as being “anaretic degrees.” What people mean when they make this reference is: the final degrees of a sign. There’s this perception that the terminal degrees of a sign are difficult. The planet in the final degree of Sign A is preparing to change its situation by entering into Sign B, and this is perceived as bad.
This kind of thinking is incorrect, but the reason for its wrongness is very instructive, which is why I’m bringing it up today.
First, let’s deconstruct the adjective “anaretic.” People use the word with reference to the final degrees of signs and this is where the wrongness creeps in.
The Anareta has nothing to do with the final degrees of signs. It is linked instead to longevity calculations. To get a sense of how long someone will live we must decide which astrological feature supplies a person with her or his life force. Fine. Many of us know that already. But central to the longevity method is the discovery of another factor which will snuff that life force out, a killing factor, a planet, point (such as a house cusp), or Fixed Star that is hostile to a specific native’s life. Some destroyers kill naturally, such as Saturn or the South Node or Mars. Other celestial factors kill by accident. *This* is the Anareta. Has nothing to do with the final degrees of the signs.
The life-giving planet establishes a “thread,” if you will, and the planet which is the Anereta snips that thread. This snipping of the thread of life does not in and of itself kill, but it does lift certain protections that open the door to death.
It is from this traditional background that modern astrologers have hijacked the term “Anareta” and forced it to signify the terminal degrees of signs.
This is faulty logic and faulty thinking.
But — it is evident that the final degrees of signs can be extremely difficult. These degrees do indeed seem critical. Why? Because the final degrees of every sign are ruled by malevolent planets.
Did you know that each of the zodiacal signs is subdivided into five unequal divisions called Terms? And each one of these Terms is ruled by a planet. Even if a planet is in the sign of its detriment or fall, if at the same time the planet falls in that patch of degrees that is its Term, it’s like the planet inhabits its own sign. It has power and resources available to it and can very often elicit a serviceable simulation of functionality. It’s like the sign is a strip mall, and each of its Terms is a different establishment within that strip mall. The Saturn Term of Aries creates Saturnian things, while the Jupiter Term of that sign produces Jupiterian “products,” and so on.
The final five degrees of Aries are ruled by Saturn. The final three degrees of Taurus are ruled by Mars. The final six degrees of Gemini are ruled by Saturn. The final four degrees of Cancer are ruled by Saturn, and the final six of Leo are ruled by Mars. Saturn gets the last two degrees of Virgo, and Mars the last two degrees of Libra. Saturn gets the final six degrees of Scorpio. Mars gets the final four degrees of Sagittarius and Capricorn. Saturn gets the final five degrees of Aquarius and the final two degrees of Pisces.
See? The malefics manage the ends of all the signs.
The Terms of the signs are a not-unimportant part of the astrologer’s delineation strategy, and various systems of Term rulerships exist. I use and recommend the Egyptian Terms.
* The term “anaretic” has little to do with degrees of signs at all. It has to do with longevity calculations. Therefore, an “anaretic” degree is not merely unlucky. It is inevitably and intrinsically lethal.
* The final degrees of signs are difficult because these degrees fall in the Terms of malefic planets. This is the source of the confusion and the reason why these terminal degrees are erroneously labeled “anaretic.”
Did you know that in Vedic astrology, that planet which is in the latest degrees of its sign is known as the “Atmakaraka,” or the significator of the soul’s desire? Here we see an instance where a planet in late degrees is accorded great benevolence and power. But please note that this idea does not require a planet to actually be in late degrees of a sign—merely the “latest” degrees. So if all your planets are in the first degree of some sign, and you have (let’s say) the Sun at five degrees of its sign, then the Sun would be the Atmakaraka.