Astrological Dictionary of Terms

Astrological Dictionary of Terms

A listing of different astrological words or terms and their meaning. Click on the letter below to jump to the relevant section. I anticipate adding to this as I go along, so if it isn’t here yet, it may turn up sometime soon. 

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Air Signs – The air signs are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. Air signs are associated with the animated, intellectual, sociable, and changeable. 

Angle – An angle refers to one of the angular houses (1st, 4th, 7th and 10th). 

Angular – The angular houses are the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th houses. Planets within these houses are said to be more visible and active. 

Aquarius – Aquarius is the 11th sign of the zodiac and associated with maintaining (fixed) the dark of Winter against the approach of longer days.  Aquarius is a fixed air sign ruled by Saturn in traditional astrology and Uranus in modern astrology. Aquarius is represented by the symbol of the water bearer. 

Aries – Aries is the 1st sign of the zodiac and synced to the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere.  At the Spring Solstice (0° Aries), there are equal amounts of light and dark in a day. However, from this day forward the light starts to dominate.  Aries is a cardinal fire sign ruled by Mars and represented by the symbol of the ram.  

Aspect – When planets are a certain geometrical distance apart they are said to be in aspect with each other. The most common aspects are the conjunction (0° apart), the sextile (60° apart), the square (90° apart), the trine (120° apart) and the opposition (180° apart). The conjunction strictly speaking is not an aspect but is considered one for convenience sake. There are many other aspects as well such as the semi-sextile (30° apart), quincunx or inconjunct (150° apart) and quintile (72° apart). 

Bicorporeal Signs – The bicorporeal signs are also known as double-bodied or mutable signs. They are the signs just after the fixed signs, and prior to the cardinal signs. These signs are associated with change and adaptability, as they signify the upcoming change of seasons. It is said that the first half of a bicorporeal sign may be quite fixed like the previous sign, whereas the second half may be quite cardinal like the sign ahead of it. Gemini (the twins), Virgo (the maiden and the bird), Sagittarius (half horse, half man), and Pisces (the two fish) are the double-bodied or bicorporeal signs.

Cancer – Cancer is the 4th sign of the zodiac and synced to the Summer Solstice in the Northern hemisphere. At the Summer solstice (0° Cancer), it is the longest day of the year with the most light. However, from this time forward, the dark will start to increase. Cancer is a cardinal water sign ruled by the Moon and represented by the symbol of the crab. 

Capricorn –  Capricorn is the 10th sign of the zodiac and synced to the Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere. At the Winter Solstice (0° Capricorn), there is more dark than light, as this is the shortest day of the year. From this day forward though, the light will start to increase. Capricorn is a cardinal earth sign ruled by Saturn and represented by the goat or mythical sea-goat.  

Cardinal Signs – The cardinal signs are all synced to the start of the seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. Aries is synced to the start of Spring, Cancer to the start of Summer, Libra to the start of Autumn, and Capricorn to the start of Winter. Cardinal signs are known for their initiating qualities, just as they initiate the start of a new season. The cardinal signs were traditionally referred to as the tropical signs.

Chariot – A planet is said to be in its own chariot when it is within 15° on either side of the Sun (known as Under the Beams) but is not hindered because it is in its own domicile, exaltation or bounds. 

Cronos or Kronos – The Greek name for the god associated with Saturn. 

Day Chart – An astrological chart is considered to be of the day or diurnal sect when the Sun is above the Ascendant / Descendant axis. 

Diurnal –  An astrological chart is considered being of the diurnal sect when the Sun is situated above the Ascendant / Descendant axis. The diurnal planets include the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn.

Double-bodied Signs – The double-bodied signs are also known as bicorporeal or mutable signs. They are the sign just after the fixed signs, and prior to the cardinal signs. These signs are associated with change and adaptability, as they signify the upcoming change of seasons. It is said that the first half of a double-bodied sign may be quite fixed like the previous sign, whereas the second half may be quite cardinal like the sign ahead of it. Gemini (the twins), Virgo (the maiden and the bird), Sagittarius (half horse, half man), and Pisces (the two fish) are the double-bodied signs. 

Earth Signs – The earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Earth signs are associated with practicality, realism and what is tangible. 

Ecliptic – The ecliptic is the path that the Earth takes around the Sun, although from our perspective on Earth it seems that the Sun is travelling around the Earth. This apparent path of the Sun is synced with the solstices and equinoxes, and therefore the seasons and the tropical zodiac signs. 

Elements – The elements refer to the triplicities or groupings of 3 signs that share a common attitude or approach. The different elements or triplicities are Fire (Aries, Leo and Sagittarius), Earth (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn), Air (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) and Water (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces). 

Equinox – The Spring and Autumn Equinoxes refer to when there is an equal amount of light and dark in a day. The Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is synced to 0° Aries and the Autumn Eqiunox in the Northern Hemisphere is synced to 0° Libra. 

Fire Signs – The fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. Fire signs are associated with the inspirational, passionate and all-consuming. 

Fixed Signs – The fixed signs are traditionally also known as the solid signs. The solid or fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. These zodiac signs are associated with the middle periods of the seasons and the fixed or unchanging nature of the seasons during the times associated with these signs. There is often a slower but more enduring quality to these signs. 

Gemini – Gemini is the 3rd sign of the zodiac and associated with adapting to the upcoming turn of the seasons from Spring toward Summer. Gemini is a mutable air sign ruled by Mercury and represented by the symbol of the twins.  

Gender – The zodiac signs are divided into different genders, masculine and feminine. Some prefer to use the terms yin and yang instead of masculine and feminine. The masculine or yang signs are said to be more active, while the feminine or yin signs are said to be more reactive or passive. The masculine or yang signs are said to be related to the planets of the diurnal sect, whereas the feminine or yin signs were said to be related to the planets of the nocturnal sect. Each planet has a masculine and feminine sign, and the signs alternate from masculine or yang to feminine or yin around the zodiac. The masculine or yang signs are Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, Aquarius. The feminine or yin signs are Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn and Pisces. 

Heart of the Sun – When a planet is within 1° of the Sun, it is said to be In the Heart of the Sun. When a planet is within 15° of the Sun it is said to suffer from this, being burnt up by the Sun (Under the Beams). An exception is made when the planet gets within 1° of the Sun. When a planet is this close, it is thought to immune to the issues associated with being Under the Beams (hidden, secret, not visible). Some Medieval astrologers later amended this to Cazimi, and it is thought that this increases their significations.  Many Medieval astrologers defined this as within 16 minutes of the Sun, and not the full 1° on either side. 

Helios – The Greek name for the god of the Sun. 

Houses – Traditionally what we now call the signs were called the houses. For example, Aries and Scorpio were the houses of Mars. Traditionally what we now call the houses were called the places. 

Ingress – When a planet moves into a new sign it is known as an ingress. 

Jupiter – Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system and associated with growth, expansion, knowledge, law, ethics, morals, generosity and enthusiasm. It is the greater benefic, whereas Venus known as the lesser benefic. Jupiter is considered the greater benefic as it moves slower than Venus and therefore its effects last longer. Jupiter is the benefic of sect for those of the day or diurnal sect. Jupiter rules Sagittarius (masculine or yang sign) and Pisces (feminine or yin sign). 

Kronos or Cronos – The Greek name for the god associated with Saturn. 

Leo – Leo is the 5th sign of the zodiac and representative of the time that the peak of Summer has occurred (0° Cancer) but is still maintaining (fixed) the light against the upcoming advance of the dark. Leo is a fixed sign ruled by the Sun and is represented by the symbol of the lion.

Libra – Libra is the 7th sign of the zodiac and synced to the Autumn Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. At the Autumn Solstice (0° Libra), there are equal amounts of light and dark in a day. However, from that day forward, the days will get shorter and the dark will start to dominate. Libra is a cardinal air sign ruled by Venus and represented by the symbol of the scales. 

Modes – The modes are also known as the quadruplicities. The modes refer to a group of 4 zodiac signs that share a common theme. The modes are cardinal (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn), fixed (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius), and mutable (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces). 

Mutable Signs – The mutable signs are also known as bicorporeal or double-bodied signs. They are the signs just after the fixed signs, and prior to the cardinal signs. These signs are associated with change and adaptability, as they signify the upcoming change of seasons. It is said that the first half of a mutable sign may be quite fixed like the previous sign, whereas the second half may be quite cardinal like the sign ahead of it. Gemini (the twins), Virgo (the maiden and the bird), Sagittarius (half horse, half man), and Pisces (the two fish) are the double-bodied or mutable signs. 

Night Chart – An astrological chart is considered to be of the night or nocturnal sect when the Sun is above the Ascendant / Descendant axis. 

Nocturnal – An astrological chart is considered nocturnal when the Sun is above the Ascendant / Descendant axis. The nocturnal planets are the Moon, Venus, and Mars.

Orb – An orb is an allowance given to aspects that are not exact but are still considered close enough to count as an aspect. For example, a sextile is when planets are 60° apart but with an orb of 3° either side, planets from 57° to 63° apart would be considered sextile. 

Pisces – Pisces is the 12th sign of the zodiac and associated with adapting to the upcoming turn of the seasons from Winter into Spring. Pisces is a mutable water sign ruled by Jupiter in traditional astrology and Neptune in modern astrology. Pisces is represented by the symbol of the two fish. 

Places – Traditionally what we now call the astrological houses were called the places. 

PrecessionPrecession is a change in the orientation of the rotational axis of a rotating body. In this case, we are talking about stars, and that they move approximately 1 degree every 72 years. Over time this has meant that the tropical zodiac signs associated with the constellations are no longer always relevant. Sidereal astrology takes the precession of the constellations into account, whereas tropical astrology syncs the zodiac signs to the solstices and equinoxes.

Primary Motion – Primary motion is associated with the rotation of the earth. An astrological chart wheel moves in a clockwise direction that represents the travel of the planets along the ecliptic of the Sun. A planet on the horizon at dawn will be near the 1st house, that same planet will be near the 10th house at midday, near the 7th house at dusk and near the 4th house in the middle of the night.  

Quadruplicitities – The quadruplicities are a group of 4 zodiac signs that share a common theme.  Quadruplicities are more commonly known as the Modes and refer to Cardinal (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn), Fixed (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius) and Mutable (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces) signs. 

Retrograde – A planet is retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards from our perspective on Earth.  

Retrograde Shadow Period – The shadow period extends the time that a retrograde planet may cause difficulties. The start of the shadow period is when the planet first crosses over the degree it will retrograde back to in forward or direct (prograde) motion.  The shadow period ends when the planet has returned to direct motion again and crosses the degree it was at when it first started its retrograde motion. 

Sagittarius – Sagittarius is the 9th zodiac sign and associated with adapting to the upcoming turn of the seasons from Autumn towards Winter. Sagittarius is a mutable fire sign ruled by Jupiter and represented by the centaur which is half man and half horse. 

Scorpio – Scorpio is the 8th zodiac sign and associated with maintaining (fixed) the increase of the darkness over light during Autumn. Scorpio is a fixed water sign ruled by Mars in traditional astrology and Pluto in modern astrology.  Scorpio is represented by the symbol of the scorpion. 

Scrutinize – A degree-based aspect. (Hellenistic Astrology term)

Secondary Motion – Secondary motion is the movement of the planets which is generally in a counter-clockwise direction in an astrological chart. When planets appear to be retrograde, they appear to be moving backward against this secondary motion and in a clockwise direction. 

Sect – Sect is a division of the planets or astrological charts into diurnal (day) or nocturnal (night). An astrological chart is considered diurnal when the Sun is above the Ascendant / Descendant axis and nocturnal when the Sun is below the Ascendant / Descendant axis. The diurnal planets are the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn. The nocturnal planets are the Moon, Venus and Saturn. Mercury can be either or neither nocturnal nor diurnal. 

Sidereal – Sidereal astrology has the zodiac signs synced to the constellations, whereas Tropical astrology has the zodiac signs synced to the seasons in the Northern hemisphere. As the constellations are advancing about 1° every 72 years, this means that the current Sidereal zodiac positions are about 23° behind the Tropical zodiac positions. 

Solid Signs – The solid signs are what the Hellenistic astrologers referred to fixed signs. The solid or fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. These zodiac signs are associated with periods in which the season is in the middle of its cycle and fixed or not moving from one season to the next. There is an slower but more enduring quality to these signs. 

Solstice – The Spring and Autumn Solstice points are when there are equal amounts of light and dark during the day. The Spring Equinox is synced to 0° Aries and the Autumn Equinox is synced to 0° Libra. 

Taurus – Taurus is the 2nd sign of the zodiac and associated with maintaining (fixed) the building of the light of Spring. Taurus is a fixed sign ruled by Venus and represented by the symbol of the bull. 

Thema Mundi – The Thema Mundi is the theoretical birth chart of the universe that is thought to have been divised by ancient astrologers to serve as a way of teaching astrological concepts. 

Triplicities – The triplicities are a group of 3 zodiac signs that share a common theme. The triplicities are commonly known as the Elements and refer to Fire (Aries, Leo and Sagittarius), Earth (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn), Air (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) and Water (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces) signs. 

Tropical Astrology – Tropical astrology does not sync the zodiac signs to the constellations (as Sidereal astrology does), but rather to the seasons in the Northern hemisphere.  The Spring Equinox syncs to 0° Aries, the Summer Solstice to 0° Cancer, the Autum Equinox to 0° Libra and the Winter Solstice to 0° Capricorn. 

Tropical Signs – The cardinal signs were traditionally called the tropical signs. The tropical signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. Tropical means turning and refers to these signs being synced to the turning of the seasons. Tropical signs tend to be initiating, dynamic, and fast. 

Under the Beams – When a planet is within 15° on either side of the Sun it is said to be Under the Beams. As the planet is so close to the Sun, it cannot be seen.  This often leads to the properties of the planet seeming to be hidden, secret, or not visible. A planet is said to not be hindered by this if it is in its own domicile, exaltation, or bounds (known as a planet being in its chariot). 

Virgo – Virgo is the 6th sign of the zodiac and associated with the adapting to the upcoming turn of the seasons from Summer into Autumn. Virgo is a mutable earth sign ruled by Mercury and represented by the maiden with the bird.  

Water Signs – The water signs are Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. The water signs are associated with being emotional, receptive, and fluid.  

Witness – A sign-based aspect. (Hellenistic Astrology term)

Yod – The Yod is an aspect pattern where a planet is inconjunct two planets that are sextile to each other. Also known as the Finger of God aspect. 

Zoidion – Zoidion is an ancient Greek word for the astrological signs means an image, animal, icon or living being. 

Zeus – The Greek name for the god of Jupiter. 

Lynda

Born and bred in Brisbane, Australia, I have had a fascination with astrology since I was a child. Currently studying Hellenistic Astrology and incorporating it with modern astrology.