Glossary

air signs see triplicities

Ascendant (or Rising sign) The degree of the zodiac rising over the eastern horizon at any given moment. Each degree takes about four minutes to rise.

aspects One planet is in aspect to another when there is a specific number of degrees between them, counted around the circle of the zodiac. The major aspects used by astrologers are the conjunction (0°), the sextile (when two planets are 60° apart), square (90°); the trine (120°); the opposition (180°); the minor aspects are the semi-sextile (30°), the semi-square (45°), the quincunx (150°) and the sesquiquadrate or sesquare (135°).

astrological age see Great Year birth chart A map of the sky showing the planets in the precise position they occupied at the moment of birth. The traditional word for the birth chart is horoscope. A horoscope can be drawn for any location and moment in time — in horary astrology, for example, it is drawn for the moment a particular question is asked.

birth time The precise time of birth. The time of the first cry or the moment of cutting the umbilical cord have traditionally been used.

cardinal signs see quadruplicities celestial sphere An imaginary sphere around the Earth onto which are positioned all the visible planets and stars of the heavens. Though essentially imaginary, it is a useful device for visualizing the stars and planets vis-à-vis each other and in relation to locations on Earth.

conjunction A conjunction takes place between two planets when they occupy the same degree of the zodiac. See also orb.

cusp The line that divides one astrological sign or house from its neighbour. It is extremely rare to be born "on the cusp"; almost everyone is born with the Sun in one sign or another, if only by a single degree. If one is born with the Sun 1° into Aries, there will not be any effect from Pisces simply because the Sun has just left that sign. More nonsense is talked about being "born on the cusp" than any other area of astrology.

decans Each sign occupies a 30° slice of the zodiac and is itself divided into three sections, called decans, of 10° each.

ecliptic The imaginary path of the Sun around the Earth.

element see triplicities ephemeris Annual ephemerides are published to show the movements of the planets with astronomical accuracy; these are now available on the Internet.

feminine signs Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn and Pisces are traditionally known as feminine signs, the others being masculine. Feminine signs are regarded as negative, masculine as positive.

fixed signs see quadruplicities generation influence Those planets which spend many years in the same sign influence whole generations of people.

Great Year The Earth, while revolving, wobbles rather like a top running down, and the pole moves backwards through the zodiac, passing through a sign in about 2,500 years — this is known as an astrological age. The period during which the pole completes a full circle is known as the Great Year and lasts for about 25,868 years.

horary astrology When a particular question is asked, an astrologer suggests an answer based on the horoscope for the moment at which the question was posed.

horoscope see birth chart houses The birth chart or horoscope is divided into 12 sections, distinct from the sections of the zodiac signs, each of which represents different aspects of human life.

Immum Creli (I.C.) The meridian point, opposite the M.C.

inferior planets Mercury and Venus, placed between the Earth and Sun, are known as inferior, or inner, planets; those further from the Sun are called superior, or outer, planets. The terms relate only to position, and not to the astrological nature of the planets concerned.

inner planets see inferior planets

Medium Creli (M.C.) — the meridian of an astrological chart.

meridien An imaginary line in the sky arcing north to south and passing through the zenith, or point in the sky directly above an observer.

Midheaven Another name for the M.C. mutable signs see quadruplicities negative signs see feminine signs opposition see aspects orb Astrologers allow an orb — a specific number of degrees — within which an aspect between two planets will operate, if it is not exact. The degree allowed depends on the strength of the aspect.

outer planets see inferior planets planets For convenience, astrologers refer to the Sun and Moon as planets (knowing perfectly well that the Sun is a star, and the Moon merely Earth's satellite). These — along with Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Chiron, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto — are used by astrologers, who estimate the effect they have on affairs on Earth, and the human race in particular.

polar sign The polar sign is the one positioned on the directly opposite side of the zodiac to the sign under discussion. For example, Libra is the polar sign of Aries, and vice versa. There is a special relationship between such signs.

positive signs see feminine signs prediction Many, perhaps most, astrologers avoid the word prediction, preferring forecast or progression — events are not predicted with complete accuracy, but suggested, much in the manner of a weather forecast.

quadruplicities The zodiac signs have traditionally been divided into three groups (cardinal, fixed and mutable) of four signs, known as the quadruplicities. The cardinal signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn; the fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius; and the mutable signs Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces. The signs of a particular group are said to share certain quadruplicities, or qualities.

qualities see quadruplicities quincunx see aspects retrograde motion As seen from Earth, a planet sometimes looks as though it is moving backwards in its course (due to their relative orbits); the planet is then said to be retrograde.

returns When a planet returns to the precise position in the sky in which it stood at the time of a birth, the individual is said to be celebrating its return. Astrologers also take into consideration timescales known as half-returns. These periods — at which times of change tend to occur — are: the Jupiter return, every 12 years; the Saturn return, at 29 + years; the Uranus half-return, at 40+; the Chiron return, at 50+; the second Saturn return, at 60; the full Uranus return, at 84; and the third Saturn return at 90.

Rising sign see Ascendant rulership, or ruling planets Each sign is traditionally said to be ruled by a particular planet, and a sign's influence can be affected by this. There has been much discussion about the theory of rulerships, and in particular how the modern planets have been assigned. It is perhaps not such a particularly important feature of astrological theory, however.

semi-square see aspects sesquiquadrate see aspects semi-sextile see aspects sextile see aspects solar chart A chart drawn up with the Sun on the cusp of the first house — i.e. at sunrise; this is done when a birth time is unknown. It is also used by Sun-sign astrologers.

stars Some modern astrologers are increasingly studying the effect fixed stars may have when they fall within the zodiac. In general, though, the stars have no importance in popular astrology, and their effect remains questionable.

stellium A group of planets gathered in the same area of the sky; a multiple conjunction.

square see aspects

Sun sign astrology Popular newspaper and magazine astrologers make predictions for the day, month, or year ahead on the basis of solar charts set up for specific Sun signs. The result is good fun, but it would be a mistake to make any decision based upon it.

superior planets see inferior planets triplicity Signs are traditionally assigned to the four elements — fire, earth, air, and water — and are thus placed in four groups of three. The fire signs are Aries, Leo, Sagittarius; earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn; air signs are Gemini, Libra, Aquarius; and water signs Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces.

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