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Glossary of Astrological Terms

Ascendant: The sign and degree rising in the East at the moment of birth. It describes the physical body, personality, and projection of the personality to the outer world.

Aspect: The relationship of two or more planets to one another. The relationship may be “easy” or “difficult.” Squares and oppositions represent challenges. The sextile and trine aspects are opportunistic and undemanding. Conjunctions may be easy or difficult depending on the nature of the planets involved.

Astrology: Astrology is the term applied to the ancient and modern day practice of studying the celestial bodies and how their relative positions provide information about human personality, affairs and evolution; governmental affairs and other earthly matters.

Astronomy: The science of physical attributes and locations of the planets in the celestial sphere. Astronomy does not take into account the planets’ effects in the affairs of people.

Benefic: Venus and Jupiter are the planets indicating fortune and benefits.

Benevolent: Kind in nature

Birth chart: A snapshot of the heavens indicating the location of the heavenly bodies based on your date of birth, time of birth and location of birth.

Cardinal Sign: Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. The
cardinal directions are the north, south, east and west. They highlight the changing of the seasons. Aries – Spring Equinox; Cancer – Summer Solstice; Libra – Fall Equinox; and Capricorn – Winter Solstice. Their influence is characterized by new beginnings, forging new paths, and embarking on new enterprises.

Celestial sphere: is an imaginary sphere of arbitrarily large radius, concentric with the Earthand rotating upon the same axis.

Classical Astrology: Based on Potolemy and other ancient Astrologers who delineated the horoscopic chart based on essential dignities and planetary strenth.

Conjunction: When two or more horoscopic planets occupy the same degree, or are close in degree location in the zodiac.

Cusp: The line that divides one house from the next in a horoscope.

Descendant: The cusp of the Seventh House, the house of partnership.

Earth signs: Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn

Eclipse: There are two types of eclipses: lunar and solar. A lunar eclipse occurs during a Full Moon when the shadow of the Earth falls on the Moon. A solar eclipse occurs during a New Moon when the shadow of the Moon falls on the Earth.

Ecliptic: The apparent path of our Sun relative to the fixed stars. The name ecliptic arises because eclipses occur when the full or new Moon is very close to this path of the Sun.

Electional Astrology: Also known as event astrology, is a branch found in most traditions of astrology in which a practitioner decides the most appropriate time for an event based on the astrological auspiciousness of that time

Elements: Fire, Earth, Air and Water

Fire signs: Aries, Leo and Sagittarius

Fixed signs: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. The word “fixed” means securely placed and fastened and implies unchanging. They are Astrologically characterized by the keyword “stability” or firm and dependable.

Fixed stars: Each has a name and particular signification used by Astrologers to delineate (explain) a horoscope.

Grand Trine: Three planets are in a harmonious 120 degree aspect between one another.The planets will often be in the same element, and are beleived to understand, accommodate and support each other.

Horoscope: A map of the sky reflecting the planetary configurations as they appeared at a precise moment from a specific location. A horoscope can also be referred to as the nativity or birth chart.

House: One of twelve in the horoscope, representing a particular area of experience in the native’s life.

Ingress: When any Planet enters a new sign and is 00 degrees 00 minutes
of that sign.

Karma: The laws of cause and effect. To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Huminaries: The Sun and Moon are often referred to as “luminaries” because they shed light into a specific area.

Lunar eclipse: Occurs two or three times a year when the Sun, Moon and earth align in a straight line and the earth comes between the Sun and Moon. This alignment causes an eclipse of the Moon as the reflected light from the Sun is lost. Lunar eclipses can only occur during a Full Moon.

Lunar Nodes: The points of intersection of two orbits that pierce the celestial sphere. The lunar nodes are the orbiting nodes of the Moon, that is, the points where the orbit of the Moon crosses the ecliptic (which is the apparent path of the Sun across the heavens against the background of stars). The ascending node is where the moon crosses to the north of the ecliptic, and is often referred to as the Dragon’s Head. The descending node is where it crosses to the south and can be referred to as the Dragon’s Tail.

Lunation: A New or Full Moon.

Malefic: Mars and Saturn were traditionally termed malefic because they are so frequently prominent when troublesome situations occur. Pluto is similar in nature to Mars. Uranus and Neptune can also act in a malefic manner when in a challenging aspect.

MC: The Midheaven is the cusp of the tenth house, and is often represented in its abbreviated form: MC. This point is one of the angles of the chart and reflects public recognition, career or “life path” and points to our social standing and reputation.

Modalities: There are three modalities in Astrology; cardinal, fixed and mutable. In the zodiac four signs share the same modality; thus there are four cardinal, four fixed and four mutable signs.

Mundane astrology: An astrological interpretation of world trends and the destinies of nations and large groups of individuals.

Mutable signs: The signs Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces are called mutable signs and considered to be the signs that are most changeable and flexible.

Mutual reception: When two planets occupy each others’ signs they are said to be in mutual reception.

Nakshatra: Also known as lunar mansion. One of the 27 divisions of the sky. Each nakshatra represents a division of the ecliptic similar to the zodiac (13°20’ each instead of the 30° for each zodiac sign). The orbit of the
moon is 27.3 days, so the Moon takes approximately one day to pass through each nakshatra.

Natal: Typically refers to the birth chart and the placements of the planets in the horoscope (birth chart).

Nativity: Another name for the horoscope or birth chart.

Nodes: The intersection of two circles or spheres. They show connections in time and space.

Opposition: When two planets are directly opposite (180 degrees apart) one another in the zodiac, they are said to be in opposition.

Planetary rulerships: Each zodiac sign has a ruling planet; Aries – Mars, Taurus – Venus, Gemini – Mercury, Cancer – Moon, Leo – Sun, Virgo – Mercury, Libra – Venus, Scorpio – Pluto, Sagittarius – Jupiter, Capricorn – Saturn, Aquarius – Uranus, Pisces – Neptune.

Retrograde: Applies to the apparent backward motion of the planets from our earth-centered perspective at certain times of the year. Mercury retrogrades three times a year for three weeks at a time; Venus retrogrades once every eighteen months: and Mars once every two years. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto spend several months each year in retrograde motion. The Sun and Moon never retrograde.

Retrograde pre-shadow: occurs when a planet slows down in motion while moving through the degrees of the zodiac it will next retrograde through.

Retrograde post-shadow: The final phase of the retrograde cycle which occurs when a planet begins its direct motion and returns back to the precise degree in the zodiac that it was at when it began its retrograde motion. Sometimes called the shadow period, it is the point in which you can reflect and directly apply what you’ve learned
during the retrograde period.

Rising Sign: This is the sign located on the First House cusp of a horoscope, which is also referred to as the Ascendant. For most people, this sign is different from the Sun sign and gives a description of the physical characteristics and personality of the native.

Shadow Period: The final phase of the retrograde cycle where you can reflect and directly apply what you’ve learned during the retrograde period.

Sidereal Zodiac: The calculation of the Sun passing through the 1st degree of Aries is marked by the Sun passing through the actual observable fixed stars making up the constellation Aries versus the seasons.

Solar eclipse: A Solar eclipse typically occurs twice a year when the Sun, Moon and earth align in a straight line and the Moon comes directly between the earth and Sun, creating an eclipse of the Sun.

Square: A stressful relationship between two planets that forces events. Planets in a square aspect are 90-degrees apart. A square aspect requires great effort.

Super Full Moon: A Super Moon is known by Astronomers as a Perigee Moon – the point where its elliptical orbit is closest to the Earth’s surface which will allow the Moon to appear approximately 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than normal.

Transits: The daily movements of the planets.

Trine: A beneficial flowing aspect between two planets. It is typically undemanding and considered to be lucky and effortless.

Tropical Zodiac: Based on the symbolic Sun/Earth relationship and orientation to the seasons. The calculation of the Sun passing through the 1st degree of Aries and the Spring Equinox. As well as the Sun’s passage into each of the cardinal signs of the zodiac – Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn.

Uranian Astrology: A relatively recent methodological approach to Astrology based on teachings of Alfred Witte, founder of the Hamburg School of Astrology. Witte revived and further developed the use of mathematical midpoints.

Venusian: All things related to the goddess and planet Venus: love, art, beauty, femininity, etc.

Water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces

Zodiac: The ring of constellations that lines the ecliptic, which is the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year.

Zero Aries: The Aries zero point marks the movement (cardinal) from an inner quality to an outer manifestation–from winter to spring. It orients us towards the world at large—society, public events and all relationships propelled from the individual
to the collective.