Glossary of Astrological Terms
A • B • C • D • E • F • G • H • I • J • K • L • M • N • O • P • Q • R • S • T • U • V • W • X • Y • Z
Accidental Debility- A qualitative of quantitative assessment of a planet's ability determined by its position in a chart and relationship with other planets. Accidental debility is like being weakened in one's current position. Being in square aspect with a malefic planet, being placed in a cadent house, or being retrograde are all examples of accidental debility.
- Accidental Dignity- A qualitative or quantitative assessment of a planet's ability determined by its position in a chart and relationship with other planets. Accidental dignity is like being strengthened in one's current position. Being in a trine aspect with a benefic planet, being in an angular house, and being in direct motion are all examples of accidental dignity.
- Almuten- A Latin transliteration from the Arabic word "al-mutazz" meaning "victor". The almuten is a planet that has the most authority in a specific degree of the zodiac based on the full scheme of classical dignities. Planets receive points based on the level of dignity they hold in that degree with the domicile ruler getting 5, the exaltation ruler getting 4, the triplicity ruler receiving 3, the term ruler getting 2, and the face ruler being awarded 1 point. Whoever has the highest total is declared the almuten.
As an example, in the sign Libra, Venus is typically seen as the planet with the most authority as she is the domicile ruler (5 pts). However, in diurnal charts, Saturn would be the almuten of every degree in Libra (Saturn would tie with Venus for almuten of 20-27 Libra as these are her terms and she would also have 7 points here) as he is the exaltation ruler (4 pts) of Libra and the triplicity lord (3 pts) of air signs during the day.
The technique is, of course, not without its controversy. Primarily over whether or not to use a weighted or flat system of scoring. The example given above is an example of a weighted scoring system where the different levels of dignity receive different point totals depending on where the dignity falls in the hierarchy; domicile the most, face the least. A flat scoring system, by contrast, counts every planet once and the almuten is the planet that has the most repetition. Historically, Hellenistic astrologers utilized a flat scoring system and the Arabs introduced the weighted system around the transition into the medieval period.
Another controversy is specifically in regards to the triplicity lords of the degrees and whether or not the out of sect and participatory ruler should also be counted. Contemporary classical astrologers tend to be split on the issue with many current teachers teaching its inclusion. However, Bonatti and al-Qabisi give an example of calculating the almuten of a degree in Aries in their work (technically al-Qabisi gives it and Bonatti later just copies the same example) and neither reference Jupiter as anything other than the term lord of the degree, counting only the Sun as triplicity ruler.
- Almuten of the Figure- The planet that has the most dignity in the degrees of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Lot of Fortune, and prenatal lunation. This planet is said to be related to the soul of the native and is used to help identify the Guardian Daimon. There are, of course, alternative calculations to determine the Almuten of the Figure proposed throughout the tradition, please see The Ruler of the Chart for more information.
- Anareta- From the Greek "αναιρετης" literally "murderer, destroyer". The killing planet. Used within the context of length of life techniques to indicate the planet that will likely signify the end of an individual's life, usually identified as the planet initiating a critical direction during a vulnerable time period.
Not to be confused with the modern utilization of the term "anaretic" which is used to designate the final degree of a sign. This concept is also referred to as a "critical degree". It may be related to the fact that the last term of every sign is ruled by a malefic planet, but there is nothing to specifically implicate the final degree as any more difficult or harmful than any other malefic ruled term degree. This definition of the term is a modern interpolation.
- Angles- The Ascendant, Midheaven, Descendant, and Imum Coeli are the four angles of a chart. These points represent intersections of great circles and show places where the sky pivots or turns, altering the direction of planets and stars as they reach these points. Planets on the Ascendant will turn to move in a more southerly direction, at the midheaven they change and march westward, etc. For more information on each of the angles individually, please see their listings.
- Angular Houses - The first, tenth, seventh, and fourth houses of the chart. Called angular (anciently; pivotal) because they represent points in the sky where planets shift and change direction throughout their daily journey. Planets in angular houses are much more noticeable in the chart and carry more power in bringing about whatever they signify within the chart itself.
- Applying- An aspect wherein the faster planet is in fewer degrees of its sign than a slower planet and is thus approaching it. Such as if the Moon were at 4° of a sign and moving towards Jupiter who was at 7°. These aspects tend to be about future events.
- Aries- The first sign of the zodiac, represented by the figure of the ram. A masculine/diurnal, cardinal, fire sign ruled by Mars and the exaltation of the Sun.
- Ascendant- The point where the eastern horizon intersects with the ecliptic. This marks the position where stars and planets rise over the horizon and into the visible sky. Associated with life and vitality and used to mark the cusp of the first house in most house systems.
- Aspect- A geometric relationship between two planets expressed in the number of degrees the planets are distant from one another and the shape they inscribe on the celestial sphere behind them. Classically, aspects are associated very heavily with both optical science and geometry and the aspectual relationship between two planets is described with words synonymous with sight such as planets "seeing" or "regarding" one another. Each of the aspects are also associated with a particular planetary nature and shape; the sextile is associated with Venus and the hexagon, squares are associated with Mars and the square, trines are associated with Jupiter and the triangle, and the opposition is associated with Saturn and the line. The conjunction is not technically an aspect in the strictest sense of the term, but is often treated like one. Please see the entries for the individual aspects for further information.
- Aquarius- The eleventh sign of the zodiac, represented by the figure of the water bearer. A masculine/diurnal, fixed, air sign ruled by Saturn.
- Beastial- A type of sign expression characterized by quick and socially unacceptable mannerisms and emotive reactions. The beastial signs are those with the image of more aggressive animals; Aries and the first half of Sagittarius.
- Benefic- From the Greek "agathapois" literally meaning "good doer". Most often used as a title to refer to the planets Jupiter and Venus. These planets are conducive towards growth and are stabilizing influences. They are generally helpful to the areas of a chart they are associated with and can even alleviate the difficult placements of other planets if they are configured to them properly.
- Bicorporal- A sign whose image is of two figures (like Gemini) or whose single image is a split figure (Sagittarius). These signs are adaptable and can often assume many forms or indicate a multiplicity. Gemini is the image of two men, Virgo the image of a woman with wings (thus half-woman, half-bird) or a woman with a bird, Sagittarius is half-man, half-horse, and Pisces is two fish.
- Cadent- The twelfth, ninth, sixth, and third houses. The term comes from the Latin "cadens" meaning "to fall" as cadent houses represent the place an angular planet will immediately move to. Cadent houses represent areas of powerlessness or struggle and planets placed here will have a hard time being heard or fulfilling their jobs.
- Cancer- The fourth sign of the zodiac, represented by the figure of the crab. A feminine/nocturnal, cardinal, water sign ruled by the Moon and the exaltation of Jupiter.
- Capricorn- The tenth sign of the zodiac, represented by the figure of the goatfish. A feminine/nocturnal, cardinal, earth sign ruled by Saturn and the exaltation of Mars.
- Cardinal- A modality of the signs that is indicative of activity, energy, and forward motion but with a tendency to run out of steam. Within certain contexts cardinal signs can indicate events that move forward quickly, but do not last a long time. This makes an emphasis on cardinal signs unattractive in marriages and construction. The cardinal signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. Cardinal signs are those that initiate a new season when the Sun enters them. The first day of Spring occurs when the Sun moves into Aries, the Sun enters Cancer on the first day of Summer, Libra on the first day of Autumn, and Capricorn on the first day of Winter. Also called Moveable.
- Cazimi- Occurs when a planet is within 16' of the Sun. Considered to be a wonderfully strong position like being seated with a king on his throne. Indicates the rebirth point in a planet's synodic cycle.
- Celestial Equator - An astronomical circle defined by the Earth's equator projected outwards into space. The resulting line divides the Earth into northern and southern hemispheres. In house division, the celestial equator is often used to get a sense of diurnal motion via the Earth's rotation. The celestial equator also interacts with the path of the Sun to produce the seasons. If the Sun is above the celestial equator, it is summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere.
- Celestial Spheres- A set of ten (sometimes nine, sometimes eight) concentric spheres, each housing a particular celestial influence. The first seven house one of the planets, the eighth houses the fixed stars, the ninth the signs of the zodiac, and the final celestial sphere is called the Prime Mover which is responsible for the daily rotation that constitutes the night/day cycle. Medieval philosophy postulated the spheres were crystalline in substance or else made of a fifth element. The term "celestial sphere" may also be used to refer to the whole of the sky as it envelopes the Earth.
- Chaldean Order- A system of ordering the planets based on the average speed that each planet moves. The system starts with the slowest planet (Saturn) and moves to the quickest (Moon). The Chaldean Order is Saturn -> Jupiter -> Mars -> Sun -> Venus -> Mercury -> Moon. This organizational system is used to set the planets into their spheres in the Ptolemaic or Geocentric model of the universe. Please see The Medieval Universe for more information.
- Chronocator - See Time Lord.
- Combustion- Occurs when a planet is within 7.5° orb conjunction with the Sun. This represents the critical or terminal point within the synodic cycle when a planet nears a symbolic death. Planets moving into combustion indicate weakness and decline while planets moving out of combustion indicate secrecy, weakness, and recovery.
- Conjunction- A 0° aspect or one that takes place within the same zodiac sign. These are sometimes called "applications by body" and suggest that the two planets physically blend together, mixing their natures and significations together.
- Constellation- An image projected onto groupings of stars by humans. Twelve star groups that cross the ecliptic are called "zodiac constellations". These constellations should not be confused with the zodiac signs that share their name as a sign and a constellation are not the same thing.
- Critical Days- A medical astrological technique that is used to indicate and predict the outcome of the crisis or turning points in the course of an illness. The technique is utilized in conjunction with either a horary chart whose question is about an illness or a decumbiture chart.
The technique looks to future charts for the time when the Moon moves to the exact square or opposition to her position in the horary or decumbiture chart. When these configurations occur, that period of time is a critical day and can indicate rapid and significant developments in the course of the illness such as the infirm person's condition improving or deteriorating. Of particular concern are the Moon's aspects in the critical days chart; aspects with benefics can indicate stabilization and recovery while aspects with malefics can indicate a worsening condition.
The critical days technique was employed by non-astrologer physicians and appears to have been developed in response to paroxysms that characterized several malaria type illnesses. These paroxysms occurred regularly on the third or fourth day (which is why they were designated names like tertian and quatrain fevers) and it would not have taken astrologers long to see a connection between these recurrent intervals and the phases of the Moon. Please see Critical Days Theory or Crisis Alert: The Moon, Illness, and Critical Days for more information.
- Dark Houses- Houses that are naturally lack an aspectual connection with the Ascendant. These houses (twelfth, eighth, sixth, and second) typically signify more destructive or hidden areas of life.
- Debility- See Essential Dignity/Debility
- Decan- See Face.
- Decumbiture- From the Latin "decumbo" which means "to lie down or fall". The decumbiture is a specialized chart of medical astrological technique which is drawn up for the first moment the patient feels so overtaken by their illness they must lie down. This chart can be used to diagnose the disease, develop a prognosis, and create and administer treatments.
The time of an individual first taking to bed is often not available, in such cases there are other times which may also be used for the decumbiture chart. The initial contact of a medical professional is a popular alternative since, historically, patients would take samples of their urine to the doctor for assistance in diagnosis. Astrological physicians would often take this moment as constituting a decumbiture chart.
- Dexter- An aspect that occurs to the right of the faster planet (the Moon in Cancer in a sextile to a planet in Taurus, for example). These aspects occur in harmony with diurnal motion and are thought to be more overt and constructive.
- Dignity- See Essential Dignity/Debility
- Domesticated- A type of sign expression typified by slow and calm reactions to emotional situations, but tend to struggle with coming up with the right words to accurately express their thoughts and feelings. The domesticated signs are those with the image of a tamed or docile beast; Taurus and Capricorn.
- Dominating- The planet in any aspect that is further to the right or further along in diurnal motion (in an example with the Moon in Cancer sextiling Jupiter in Taurus, Jupiter is the dominating planet). This planet has more control over the quality and outcome of the aspect. Malefic planets dominating cause more harm, while benefic planets bring about more positive outcomes.
- Domicile- The most powerful form of essential dignity a planet can have. These placements manifest as strong and lasting planetary effects. Usually referred to as "rulership" in contemporary astrological practice. The Sun is in domicile in Leo, for example. For more information about domiciles and the classical dignity scheme in general, please see Essential Dignities and Debilities of the Planets
Ecliptic- The apparent path of the Sun around the Earth, followed by the Sun and the other planets. This line determines the zodiacal belt and passes through twelve major constellations that share their name with the signs of the zodiac.
- Essential Dignity/Debility- A qualitative measurement of planetary power to effect signification in a chart based solely on a planet's relationship to the degree of the zodiac that it occupies. Planets in higher degrees of essential dignity are more capable of bringing about what they signify in a good way or completely. For example, having a dignified ruler of the first house means that planet will be more successful in providing health.
- Exaltation- A form of essential dignity, considered second best behind domicile; Jupiter in Cancer or the Moon in Taurus is an example of a planet in exaltation. For more information about exaltation and the classical dignity scheme in general, please see Essential Dignities and Debilities of the Planets. Planets in their exaltation are often characterized as the honored guests in someone else's home. Practically, these positions often manifest as reaching great heights, but are inconsistent in their ability to provide what they promise, making them something like planetary rollercoasters. This lack of stability is the reason why astrologers regard exaltation as generally less desirable than domicile.
- Face- The weakest form of planetary dignity, often characterized as someone who is about to be "thrown out of doors". Not a very effective form of dignity by itself. The Faces are themselves derived from the Decans (which is a name they are often referred to as), an Egyptian Calendric system of 10 day periods of time. These often served religious or ritual significance.
- Fall- A form of planetary debility that is the opposite sign from a planet's sign of exaltation. Planets in their falls are said to have a weakening or numbing influence over the things they signify in a chart. They may also be areas of life that are literally overlooked.
- Feral- A type of sign expression typified by visceral, emotive reactions. Often seen as bullying or snobbish in their relationships with others. The feral signs are those with the image of a wild animal; Leo and the last half of Sagittarius.
- Fertile- A sign that indicates growth or multiplicity, typically in regards to children and pregnancy. The fertile signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces; signs whose animal images give birth to a great multitude of offspring at once.
- Fixed- A modality of the signs that indicates inertia, permanence, stability, and - in certain contexts - honesty and uprightness. The fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. These signs are called fixed because the Sun is in these signs when the seasons are at their height and the weather patterns are most uniform to those seasons; Sun in Taurus in the middle of spring, in Leo in the middle of Summer, in Scorpio in the middle of Autumn, and in Aquarius in the middle of winter.
- Fixed Stars- Stars in the night sky that are not planets, like Sirius, Canopus, Polaris, etc. These stars are called fixed, not because they lack motion, but because they all move as a unit as opposed to the individual paths or orbits that the seven planets possess. Fixed stars move one degree of celestial longitude every 72 years.
- Gemini- The third sign of the zodaic, represented by the figure of the twins. A masculine/diurnal, mutable, barren, humane, air sign ruled by Mercury.
- Geocentric- A method of ordering the universe that places the Earth in the center with the planets located as if they were orbiting around it. This method relies heavily on human sense perception as humans physically see the planets and stars rise, culminate, and set around them. This is, of course, an illusion caused by the slow and uniform rotation of the Earth on its axis. The philosophy of the system is very relevant to a functional astrology which seeks to understand the celestial influences on terrestrial events and so prioritizes how the Earth sees or experiences the location of the planets and their relationships to one another. Please see The Ancient Universe for more information regarding the classical geocentric system.
- Halb- A secondary sect consideration wherein a planet is placed in the same hemisphere in relation to the Sun that agrees with its diurnal/nocturnal designation. Diurnal planets prefer to be on in the same hemisphere as the Sun while the nocturnal planets prefer to be in the hemisphere opposite the Sun.
- Hayz - A secondary sect consideration wherein a planet is both in the hemisphere in relation to the Sun that agrees with its diurnal/nocturnal designation and is placed in a sign that matches its own gender.
- Heliocentric- A method of ordering the universe that places the Sun in the middle with the planets - Earth included - orbiting it. The heliocentric model more correctly orders the solar system based on a more objective view of the cosmos. Astrology, though, is built around a specific, Earth-based experience of the cosmos around it and humanity's place within it which leads to the general dismissal of the heliocentric system as non-functional for the utilization of astrological technique.
- Hilaj- A significant point or planet in a natal chart that has special significance over the native's life and vitality. This point is utilized heavily in predictive methods that seek to identify critical health periods and longevity. For more information on the hilaj, please see Where Angels Tread: the Ruling Planet and the Soul.
- Horary- One of the branches of classical astrology, this branch focuses specifically on an astrological chart cast for the moment an astrologer understands a question. The chart and planetary positions within it are then used to assign planets signification of actors within the situation and provide insight and guidance to the individual who asked the question. Please see the Horary Astrology page for more detailed information.
- Humane- A type of sign expression characterized by rational, unemotional responses. Also characterized as civilized, refined, and well-mannered. Humane signs are able to clearly and concisely put things into words and are considered to be the best types of communicators. The humane signs are Gemini, Virgo, Libra, and Aquarius.
- Inconjunction- A 150° aspect or one that occurs across five signs. This is considered an aversion (thus not really an aspect in the technical sense) due to its correlation with the blind spot in the human eye and its signification as an aspect is negligible in the typical way aspects are utilized.
- Jarbakhtar- The term or bound lord of a directed point. This is most often used in reference to the term lord of the hilaj for predicting critical health periods, but is also used more generally to characterize time periods. The word comes from an Arabic transliterated term for the Pahlavi "Distributor of Time".
- Jupiter- The sixth planet, second in Chaldean Order. The greater benefic whose nature is to stabilize and allow. His nature is hot and moist and he's a temperate planet which is conducive towards growth and development.
- Kadukhudhah- One of the dignity lords of the hilaj who serves as protector for the native. This planet provides protective years which are said to shield from or otherwise mitigate fatal time lord configurations. For more information about the kadukhudhah, please see Where Angels Tread: the Ruling Planet and the Soul
Leo- The fifth sign of the zodiac represented by the image of the lion. A masculine/diurnal, fixed, fire, barren, feral sign ruled by the Sun.
Libra- The seventh sign of the zodiac represented by the image of the scales. A masculine/diurnal, cardinal, air, humane, violent sign ruled by Venus and the exaltation of Saturn.
Libra- The seventh sign of the zodiac represented by the image of the scales. A masculine/diurnal, cardinal, air, humane, violent sign ruled by Venus and the exaltation of Saturn.
- Light Houses- Houses that share an aspectual relationship with the Ascendant. These houses (first, eleventh, tenth, ninth, seventh, fifth, fourth, and third) typically represent more positive or open areas of life.
- Long Ascension- Signs of the zodiac that take more than two hours to rise over the Ascendant. In the northern hemisphere these are Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius. In the southern hemisphere the signs of long ascension are Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, and Gemini.
- Lunar Houses- Houses under the horizon (sixth, fifth, fourth, third, second, first) that represent areas of life having to do with the body (sixth fifth, first), the material world (sixth, fifth, second, first), or things the native is born with (fourth, third). Also referred to as nocturnal houses because the Sun residing in any of these houses indicates that it is a night chart.
- Lunar Mansion- A division of the ecliptic into 28 equal sections based on the average motion of the Moon per day. This system of division is sometimes called a lunar zodiac which is not necessarily inaccurate. For more information on the lunar mansions, please see The Mansions of the Moon.
- Malefic- From the Greek "kakopoios" literally meaning "bad doer". Most often used as a title to refer to the planets Saturn and Mars. These planets are conducive towards decay and are disrupting influences. They generally hinder the areas of a chart they are associated with and can even afflict other planets if they are configured to them properly.
- Mars- The fifth planet, third in the Chaldean Order. The lesser malefic whose nature is to sever and separate. Mars is a masculine, nocturnal planet whose excessively hot and dry nature makes him hostile towards growth.
- Mercury- The second planet, sixth in the Chaldean Order. A neutral planet who takes on the properties of the planet to whom it has the closest aspectual relationship (a masculine planet when with another masculine planet, a feminine planet when in aspect to another feminine planet; malefic with malefics, benefic with benefics) and also changes sect depending on which side of the Sun it is on (if Mercury rises before the Sun it is diurnal, if Mercury sets after the Sun it is nocturnal). Mercury's nature is to contest and destabilize and is often regarded as a slightly malefic influence due to its inconsistency.
- Moon- The first planet, seventh in the Chaldean Order. The Moon is more of a neutral planet akin to Mercury, she is benefic when she is waxing and more malefic when she is waning. Her nature is to collect.
The Moon's position in the cosmos is a very special one and her relationship between the Earth and sky is very pivotal for the classical philosophical mechanism behind astrology and other related arts and techniques. For more information on the Moon and her role in astrology, magic, and her special status among the planets please see Aristotelian Cosmology.
- Mutable- A modaltiy of the signs indicative of inconsistnency, blending, and repetitive motion. These characteristics mimic the back-and-forth weather patterns associated with the Sun in these signs when one season begins to turn into another. The mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces. The Sun is in Gemini when Spring is becoming Summer, in Virgo when Summer is becoming Autumn, in Sagittarius when Autumn is becoming Winter, and Pisces when Winter is becoming Spring. These signs are also sometimes called "common".
- Mute- A type of sign expression which struggles to properly convey its meaning and intention or give words to feelings and thoughts. The mute signs are those whose image does not make a sound; Cancer the crab, Scorpio the scorpion, and Pisces the fish.
- Neptune- An outer planet, discovered in 1846. Modern astrology utilizes Neptune as the ruler of the sign Pisces.
- Nocturnal Houses- See Lunar Houses.
Occidental- A condition wherein planets are placed to the right side of the Sun and thus rise after him. Occidental planets are more passive and secretive and the inferior planets Venus, Mercury, and the Moon prefer this relationship with the Sun as it corresponds with their youthful, waxing phases.
Opposition - An aspectual relationship between two planets positioned roughly 180° or six signs apart. This relationship is considered to be the most difficult and adversarial of the aspects due to the shape carved between two planets in this type of configuration; the line which divides the celestial sphere in half. The opposition is also considered to be of the nature of the planet Saturn as both of Saturn's domiciles (Aquarius and Capricorn) experience this relationship with the domiciles of the Sun and Moon.
- Oriental- A condition wherein planets are placed to the left side of the Sun and thus rise before him. Oriental planets are more overt and expressive and the superior planets Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn prefer this relationship with the Sun because it corresponds with their youthful, waxing phases.
- Peregrine- A condition wherein a planet is not placed in any of its essential dignities, finding itself outside of its domicile, exaltation, triplicity, term, and face. These planets are often seen as suspicious characters who are in a place they have no ownership of and thus don't belong.
It is a common misconception that planets need to be out of their essential dignity and debility at the same time to be peregrine. This is not the case and creates a falls impression that being peregrine is something like a neutral position for planets. Planets are still disadvantaged by being peregrine and require assistance from their dispositor to accomplish things and a planet can be both peregrine and in its sign of detriment.
This definition is also not related to the modern definition of peregrine pioneered by Noel Tyl. Tyl defines peregrine as a planet that is unaspected. This is entirely his own doing.
- Pisces - The twelfth sign of he zodiac, represented by the image of two fish. A feminine/nocturnal, mutable, water sign ruled by Jupiter and the exaltation of Venus.
- Pluto- Once the outermost planet in the solar system, discovered in 1930. Demoted to dwarf planet in 2006. Modern astrologies utilize Pluto as the ruler of the sign Scorpio.
- Precession- A phenomenon caused by the axial rotation of the Earth where the fixed stars appear to move backwards relative to the fixed perspective of the Earth. This causes the tropical signs of the zodiac to be misaligned from the constellations which share their name.
Precession of the Equinoxes often appears in news articles attempting to denounce astrology by casting astrologers as ignorant of precession and suggesting that the times commonly associated with the Sun's placement in a sign are off. This is because astronomers force a conflation between the signs of the zodiac and those constellations which share their names. Historically, the signs of the tropical zodiac and the constellations have never been seen as one unit. The sidereal zodiac follows the adjustment of precession to keep itself more aligned with the constellations, but even this periodic adjustment is not enough to perfectly match the even zodiac signs with their irregular constellational counterparts.
- Prime Mover - The outermost celestial sphere which rotates once a day and carries the other spheres with it. The motion of this sphere is responsible for diurnal motion which carries the stars and planets as they rise and set across the sky.
- Quadruplicity- The historical designation for what is commonly known today as "modality" or whether a sign is cardinal, fixed, or mutable. Called quadruplicity as this categorization arranges the signs in groups of four.
- Qualities- The four basic, sub-elemental building blocks of the world; heat, coldness, moisture, and dryness. Initially, the Greek philosopher Empedocles postulated that the four elements were the basic building blocks of the universe, but this idea fell out of favor and was eventually replaced by the Aristotelian and Hippocratic qualities.
Each quality has its own unique characteristics, such as heat's tendency to rise or dryness's proclivity to separate and the four qualities combine with one another to create the four elements (heat and moisture make air, heat and dryness make fire, coldness and dryness create earth, and coldness and moisture give birth to water) which then function as combinations of the characteristics of its constituent qualities.
While used heavily within the context of medicine, the qualities are also heavily relied upon in astrology where the signs and planets are all characterized as being some element or combination of qualities; Moon and Venus are cold and wet; Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are hot and dry. For more information about the
qualities and their use in astrology, please see Medieval Temperament Theory.
- Quincunx- See Inconjunction
- Reception- A technique that alters the aspectual relationship between two planets in a positive or assisting manner. Reception occurs when-ever planet A aspects planet B from one of its (planet B's) places of dignity, such as the Moon in Libra aspecting Venus. In this example, Venus is said to receive the Moon into her domicile and Venus works in a helpful or agreeable manner towards the Moon. Typically, reception is more helpful when the planet that is being applied to receives the planet that is applying to it, but relationships where the applying planet receives the planet it is applying to is also helpful in strengthening the committment of one planet towards the other. For a more indepth exploration of reception and related topics, please see the digital lecture Reception: How to be the Host with the Most
- Sagittarius- The ninth sign of the zodiac represented by the image of the centaur archer. A masculine/diurnal, mutable, fire sign ruled by Jupiter.
- Salkhudhay- The Lord of the Year. This is the planet who is the domicile lord of the sign of the yearly profection.
- Saturn- The seventh planet, first in the Chaldean Order. The Greater Malefic whose nature is to reject and exclude. Saturn's nature is excessively cold and dry making him inconducive towards growth.
- Scorpio- The eighth sign of the zodiac represented by the image of the scorpion. A feminine/nocturnal, fixed, water sign ruled by Mars.
- Sect- A consideration involving the time of day an astrological chart is set for. If the Sun is above the horizon, the chart is diurnal and the diurnal planets (Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn) are said to be "in sect" while the nocturnal planets (Moon, Venus, and Mars) are "out of sect". This qualitatively effects a planet's expression with planets in sect seen as more positive influences than those who are out of sect.
Sect considerations also extend to the similitude between planets and the signs, hemispheres, or quadrants of the chart they are placed in. Masculine planets prefer masculine signs, feminine planets prefer feminine signs, etc.
- Sextile- An aspectual relationship between two planets positioned roughly 60° or two signs apart. The sextile is considered a helpful and friendly aspect. This aspect is also referred to as "hexagonal" or "the hexagon" in reference to the geometrical shape that a series of sextiles make on the celestial sphere. Sextiles are of the nature of the planet Venus as both of Venus's domiciles (Taurus and Libra) share this 60° relationship with the domiciles of the Sun and Moon.
- Short Ascension- Signs of the zodiac that take less than two hours to rise over the Ascendant. In the northern hemisphere, these signs are Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, and Gemini. In the southern hemisphere the signs of short ascension are Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius.
- Sidereal Zodiac- A method of zodiacal calculation which measures the beginning of the zodiac from opposite the fixed star Spica (the lahiri ayanamsa). This method more closely maintains the relationship between the starting point of the zodiac and the beginning of the constellation Aries. Sidereal zodiacal calculations are most often a defining characteristic of Vedic or Jyotish astrology. For more information about zodiacal calculation, please see A Tale of Three Zodiacs
- Sign- A standardized 30 degree division of the ecliptic named after a constellation such as Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc.
Constellations and signs are often confused for one another due to the naming convention, but they are not and have never been understood to be the same thing. Constellations are the visible groupings of the stars. These are uneven and cover unequal portions of the ecliptic which vary wildly. Some constellations are very small and cover only about 8 degrees, while others are quite large and span over 45 degrees. The signs, by comparison, are a segments of a celestial measuring system which seeks to track and predict the motions of the planets. There are 12 signs covering the 360 degree sky, resulting in each sign covering 30 degrees. The constellations are physical images, while the signs are mathematical objects.
- Solar Houses- Houses above the horizon (twelfth, eleventh, tenth, ninth, eight, and seventh) that represent things associated with the soul (twelfth, eleventh, ninth, eighth), other people (eleventh, seventh), or areas of life we have conscious choice in (eleventh, tenth, ninth, seventh). Also called diurnal houses because the Sun residing in any of these houses indicates that it is daytime.
Another way in which the term solar houses is used is to refer to a technique of chart construction where the zodiac sign the Sun is in is placed in the position of the first house with the positions of the other signs following their zodiacal order into subsequent houses. If the Sun is in Leo, Leo becomes the first house, the sign Virgo becomes the second house, Libra the third, etc. This is mostly used by authors of Sun sign horoscope columns.
- Square- An aspectual relationship between two planets positioned roughly 90° or three signs apart. The square is a difficult aspect, often characterized to be filled with tension. It is also referred to as the "quartile" as 90° spans 1/4th of the zodiac. The square is of the nature of the planet Mars as both of Mars's domiciles (Aries and Scorpio) have a 90° relationship with the domiciles of the Sun and Moon.
- Sublunar Sphere- The lowest level in the geocentric universe model. This sphere contains everything that lies below the sphere of the Moon, including the living beings that inhabit it. The sublunar sphere also houses the four elements and their constituent qualities, which are the agents for the growth, diminiuation, and change that characterizes life itself. For more information about the importance and uniqueness of the sublunar sphere, please see The Medieval Universe and Aristotelian Cosmology.
- Suceedent - The eleventh, eighth, fifth, and second houses. Called suceedent as planets in these houses will succeed, or follow after planets in the angular houses by primary motion.
- Sun- The fourth planet, also fourth in the Chaldean Order as it is the middle planet, placed in the center like a king around his subjects. The Sun's nature is to select and his nature is a temperate heat and dryness as his heat is self-generative.
- Syzygy- Sometimes written as SAN (Syzygy Ante Nativitatum literally Union Before Birth) refers to the degree of the Full or New Moon occurring immediately before the birth of the native. One of the five life giving places.
- Taurus- The second sign of the zodiac, represented by the image of a bull. A feminine/nocturnal, fixed, earth sign ruled by Venus and the exaltation of the Moon.
- Thema Mundi- A manufactured chart utilized as a teaching tool to showcase and explain various core philosophical ideas about classical astrological practice. This chart was often referred to as a legendarychart for the birth of the world. The Thema Mundi is characterized by the 15° Cancer Ascendant and the placement of the seven visible planets placed in the Egyptian Order in 15° of the signs of their domicile (Moon at 15° Cancer, Sun at 15° Leo, Mercury at 15° Virgo, Venus at 15° Libra, Mars at 15°Scorpio, Jupiter at 15° Sagittarius, and Saturn at 15° Capricorn).
The Thema Mundi is used to instruct students on the nature and philosophy of the planetary domiciles, planetary exaltations, planetary nature, and the nature of the aspects.
- Term- The fourth strongest form of planetary dignity. Terms are unequal divisions of a sign into five sections, with each section being ruled by a different planet. The Sun and Moon do not have terms, but many texts make reference to the idea that the Sun has something similar to term rulership in the signs from Leo to Capricorn, while the Moon has the same in the signs from Aquarius to Cancer. This level of dignity is most closely associated with the body and physical form.
- Time Lord- Sometimes called "chronocator"; a planet that is said to rule over a certain period of time and thus become more significant to the native during that time. The method of determining a Time Lord can vary depending on the technique being utilized. Profections, Solar Returns, and Fidaria can all be used to identify which planet is serving in the capacity as a time lord. One a time lord is discovered, the transits that planet is making during that time frame are more noticeable and influential for the individual.
- Trine- An aspectual relationship between two planets roughly 120° or 4 signs apart. This relationship creates a triangle shape upon the celestial sphere from which the aspect gets its name. The trine is considered the most helpful and uplifting aspect and is of the nature of Jupiter as both of Jupiter's domiciles (Sagittarius and Pisces) have this 120° relationship with the domiciles of the Sun and Moon.
- Triplicity- The third strongest form of planetary dignity, like someone in the right place at the right time. Planets in triplicity are able to fulfill their promiss positively, but may need assistance for them to be consistent.
Triplicity may also be used to refer to planets by their elemental assignments (the Fire Triplicity; Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius) since categorizing the signs in this manner produces groups of three.
- Tropical Zodiac- A method of zodiacal calculation which sets the beginning of Aries to coincide with the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere. This system ties the signs of the zodiac to the seasonal relationship between the Earth and Sun and sets the beginning of Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn with the solstices and equinoxes. Tropical zodiacal calculations are most often a defining characteristic of Western astrology. For more information about zodiacal calculation please see A Tale of Three Zodiacs
- Uranus- An outer planet discovered in 1781. Modern astrology utilizes Uranus as the ruler of Aquarius.
- Venus- The third planet, fifth in the Chaldean Order. The Lesser Benefic whose nature is to reconcile and unify. She is temperately cool and moist, which makes her conducive towards growth, harmony, and stability.
- Virgo- The sixth sign of the zodiac represented by the image of a woman either with a bird or with wings herself. A feminine/nocturnal, mutable, earth sign which is ruled by and the exaltation of Mercury.
- Zodiac- A system of celestial measurement that tracks the planets as they move around the ecliptic. Usually divided into 12 equal segments called signs. There are three different zodiacs in use; tropical, sidereal, and constellational. For more information on the different zodiacs please see The Zodiacs.