There is much written on the anaretic, or 29th degree, that is easily searchable. In my own personal research I have read much of this material, and encourage you to do the same, but this article addresses points and perspectives that I have not found addressed beyond niche works that I have sought out specifically. I hope that it is of benefit to you, Seeker!
I have a particular interest in this degree because my Moon, which happens to also be my most elevated major body (by a very long shot), is at Aries at the 29th degree, in the 10th angular house and 9th whole sign house. As such, of course I am writing about this on my blog as an educational primer. Of course!
The 29th degree (and also the 0th degree, but I will not be discussing that in this article) is referred to as “anaretic.” Because this is a word that does not exist in any non-astrological context that I have ever found (I don’t have access to the OED right now, but most likely, it isn’t in there either), I am inclined to interpret the word’s etymology myself.
Looking very quickly on my Mac’s “dictionary” app (quite the researcher, I know), the only reference that is not a Proper Name is the following: “Anar, the name for pomegranate in multiple languages.” A quick search and Wikipedia popping up shows that Persian is one of those languages. My knowledge of the origins of that language is basically nothing. I suspected that Persian would have been related to Arabic, which would have made me feel better, due to Astrology’s heavy influence by the Arabic tradition, but, according to this Quora thread with a graphic showing a language family tree, it is actually Indo-European, whereas Arabic is Afro-Asiatic. I won’t push this any further and instead chalk it up to synchronicity and interpret the symbol of the pomegranate: of course, this fruit is representative of Knowledge Itself, being the Fruit that Eve ate from in the Bible (it wasn’t an apple, guys!). Pomegranate represents life and death, the full seed bursting with juice, so fragile that to touch it gets its blood all over you! The membrane is thin “as f***” as people say these days. I know this much, that whenever I feel nutritionally depleted and am in the juice section, Pomegranate is what I run to. It’s my favorite “superfruit” for sure (yeah, I see you with your Chia, and Acai… good luck buddy, and a mocking cackle for the road!!!!!) It contains so much power, so much knowledge! So, we can call the anaretic degree the Pomegranate degree. This is very much in line with the traditional readings of it, as a body in the 29th is said to possess all of the knowledge of the sign. It is known to some as the Master degree, in the sense of, a native born under the anaretic degree will be challenged to Master what that planet means in that sign, before “dying” in that sign and being reborn in the next.
Exact Degree is Really Important in General!
Many practitioners in both the classical and contemporary worlds are very clear and adamant about each degree being very much its Own Thing, just as each Sign is its Own Thing. I wrote on the strictness of Signs considerably in my article “No, You’re Not “On the Cusp” of Two Zodiac Signs – & Why Not : a Text Lecture on the difference between Signs and Houses, Borders and Gradients, and finding your Sun on a Natal Chart Horoscope.” If that’s tl;dr for you right now, or you already know, simply put: because the Tropical signs are based off of the Aries Point, and thus our Solar Seasons (the Solstices and Equinoxes, not the constellations; Sidereal Astrology is based on the constellations/stars, thus the word “sidereal”), sign ingresses (moving into a new sign) is a Big Deal. That’s also why the Anaretic degree is such a Big Deal: because it is the final period before the ingress.
Contemporary practitioners tend to be more lax, but, in such systems such as the Sabian Symbols, exact degree actually is important. In traditional Astrology, though, it is much more of a big deal. For starters, just like every planet has two signs that it rules, and one that it is exalted within, there is one particular degree in the exaltation sign that the planet is even more exalted and that is called of course the “exaltation degree.” You can find more about this at the article “The Origin of the Planetary Exaltations: Signs and Degrees” by Andrew J. Bavan, QHP, DMS Astrol. I just found it right now while writing this! It explains exactly why each planet is exalted at its exaltation degree. Fascinating stuff and I highly recommend it.
But as far as the tradition goes, exact degree within the 360 system is extremely important.
There is a word known as partile that refers to “being in the same degree.” This can be used for a conjunction, or any aspect. For example, two points, one at 3°0’0″ and one at 3°59’59”, would be partile. If they were in, say, Aries and Cancer, that would be a “partile square.” I remember one time in one of the IAA classes that I took, I incorrectly used that word, thinking it meant “within 1° of each other,” and I was quickly corrected by my teacher. Even if, say, we had an aspect of two points at 2°59’29” and 3°0°00, that would still not be partile, despite being otherwise as close to exact as you can get. This is how important degree is in the Classical Tradition.
The 360° dial being divided in that way also lends itself to the sign divisions that we know as “decans” or “faces” (every 10°). There are also the “terms,” of which there are 5 in every sign, but not at exact divisions, and there are multiple “term” systems that have slightly different demarcations. I won’t get into that here because I don’t use them much, nor have I researched the different term systems enough to have an opinion on their selection (and also because it has nothing to do with the topic at hand), but it is worth mentioning.
To elaborate on how degree-specific the classical tradition is, a quotation from Helena Avelar & Luis Ribeiro’s “On the Heavenly Spheres” page 223:
“According to the tradition, the individual degrees of each sign also contain specific qualities that allow for greater detail in delineation. Degrees can be classified as feminine or masculine, fortunate, obscure, void, luminous, etc.”
So, it is pretty inarguable that according to tradition, each degree is actually really important, and can and does have many specific qualities. However, many critics of the tradition have said things like that these parameters are “splitting hairs.” Vic Dicara (who is Vedic, but uses the Tropical zodiac, which he argues very well is supported by the Vedas, and, who grew up just a few towns away from me, a decade and a half before my time! Hi Homeboy Vic!!!) wrote in a recent Facebook post that I am not taking the time to link, that these measures are useless anyway because observational astrology has a 2-3° margin of error in the first place (is that true? Don’t ask me). More “spiritually” as opposed to “mathematically” oriented astrologers (and I shudder to draw that dichotomy anyway, but, drawing a point here) often criticize to this tune. And, myself, having started to touch my toes into the Mayan 13:20 matrix, through the work of Jose Arguelles, and this great blog The 13:20 Frequency Shift by Stephanie South (one article I had in mind particularly, “Clear Seeing in a World Gone Mad,” discusses these issues, but the whole blog is worth reading), am questioning all of this anyway! From what I glean from the linked article, and my limited knowledge, the point is that the entirety of the 360° or 12:60 (divided by 2) system is considered the automation from which we are working to break free from in this time, instead moving forward into Freedom. I’m not doing any justice to me Mayan knowledge here: I’m still learning, and I don’t know nearly enough about 13:20 to profess it. But, I have been focusing a lot more on the Lunar energies lately, and would really like to see our existence break out of its perceptual cages. We have to, if we are going to make it through this time.
OK back on track. I forget sometimes that people are trying to follow me here. Sticking with the task at hand.
But does it have to be 29? My Planet is at 28 and I want to be a Master too!!!
This was a side note, but, of course, I have to get to the bottom of things, or at least do my best to examine this as holistically as I can.
In my research of what others had to say about this degree, I found a page by an Astrologer named Zarathu that addressed what may seem to be a minor question, as I haven’t read many other inquiries about it, but it is actually very important. I had read many references to Zarathu before, as apparently they had contributed in a HUGE way to the online discussion of advanced and professional astrology over the past many years, both on his own forum (apparently defunct) and the one on Astrology Weekly. Thus I very much respect Z, as a ceaseless giver of unique and experienced teachings in the field. When I found their page 22 Points on the 29th, I was pretty excited. I don’t want to go off the deep end here (OK I do, sorry guys), but the one point I am bringing this up for is Point 6:
“My wife who leaves everything to being changeable into the future has Saturn at the 28ARI44, which is 29th by any other name…”
How challenging, for me to address the question of whether a planet at 28°44 Aries is anaretic, considering that this all began because of my 29°42 Aries Moon! You gotta be kidding me!!!
Where is the line, on the same-sign side? I don’t know, mann, you gotta find your own stride.
Sorry, slipped into Bard Mode. Ok, Back now.
Because the Pomegranate Degree is considered so special because of its position marking the very end of a sign before a new one begins, and because the 0th degree is also considered anaretic (for the juxtaposing reason of that it is the “newborn” of that sign, then, I am less inclined to be harsh with the mathematics here. I also have worked with a person with an “anaretic by any other name”,” a Pisces Moon at 28°12′, and they are so much an anaretic Pisces Moon that I thought they were actually a 29th degree before I checked the chart again. I would say that allowing some leeway for an anaretic Moon or faster body is much more allowable than allowing for a 28° than a slower body. I mean, think about it: if you’re on a DMV line, let’s say, and each person ahead of you takes 10 minutes at the counter, you’re going to notice each 10 minutes a lot more than if it’s only a 30 second one-off. Of course, Zarathu thinks that even Saturn can be anaretic at the 28th and 44, but, that actually DOES round up to 29, whereas 28°12 rounds down. Hair splitting again! It gets even more complicated when we read what Bavan has to say about Venus and Mars’ exaltation degrees: we receive even more support for both the the “faster bodies have more anaretic leeway” and the “any body has a certain amount of anaretic leeway” stances:
“Venus is exalted in 27 degrees Pisces because here she has yet two degrees ahead of her and has a solid grip at the end of the last sign. This symbolises completion, contention, peace and rest.
Mars is exalted in 28 degrees Capricorn because here he is in the height of the sign, which represents the achievement of ambitions. But he is also ready for redirection, because the degree of his exaltation touches the 29th degree and a planet in the last 3 degrees of a sign is already looking for the next (derived from Bonatus aph.30,p19 & Lilly, CA p122). This makes him restless and impatient, ready to move towards new aims.“
Bavan references Bonati and Lilly (who are Foundational Parents of our tradition) in his claim that the anaretic area is not only the 29th, but the last 3 degrees. And you know, to be quite frank, despite the hair-splitting that is often done, and that I often do myself in many cases, in the case of the Final Anaretic (as opposed to the First Anaretic, the 0th, which again we are not talking about here, besides in passing), we can really have some leeway here. The 27th or 28th degree is not as anaretic, or ripe with juice, as the 29th, no. Obviously, the ante is upped as we go along until we cross over. In many cases, they most certainly could be considered within the same anaretic energetic function, though.
A quick expansion, then conclusion to move forward, just as 29° calls for us to do! How meta of me!!!!!
But, if we look at this all from a numerological point of view, we find that the hair-splitting is necessary more than ever, and that, in fact, no, the 29th degree is explicit. It is a PRIME number, after all. It stands alone. In fact, my true catalyst for writing this article in the first place was reading in my Brand Spanking New copy of Aleister Crowley’s 777 the following, under “THE MEANING OF THE PRIMES FROM 11 TO 97”:
29: The magick force itself, the masculine current.”
As I have begun my Thoth Tarot and Crowley studies again after putting them to the side for a very long time, I am starting to see things in the Numerological perspective more than I have in the past when I was focusing purely on Astrology “as it is.” Numerology is not explicitly addressed much in the Classical Astrology tradition, but, if we approach Astrology as one of many Divinitory/Psychomagical modalities in the Western tradition, alongside its Sisters, we can greatly expand our understanding of it, and therefore our potential as practitioners of Divinitory/Psychomagical Arts. Just like cross-training can help an Athlete to take their performance to previously unknown new heights, cross-training in the Sacred Arts is proving to help my own growth in these fields.
Have I mastered this? Certainly not, but, maybe one day.
Thanks for reading, Seeker! If I have been unclear, or if you would like elaboration, or to start a conversation, please, jump at the chance and comment. Otherwise, I hope that I have served you well in this writing. Be well.