A Glossary of Astrological Terms
Use this glossary just like a dictionary to look up the meanings of words you come across on this website, or in your astrological reading. Just select the first letter of the word you need and click on it in the table below to go straight to that sector. The glossary is often updated with more information, so remember to check in regularly.
Above the Earth
When a planet is located above the horizon, namely anywhere between the ascendant and descendant via the mid-heaven. If a planet is found in the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th houses, it is above the earth.
Abscission of Light
Prevention of the culmination of an aspect by the intervention of another, thus "cutting off" the light. Used in Horary Astrology. See Frustration.
Killing planet; cutter-off of light.
The points where the major axis of an elliptical orbit meets the orbital path. See Apsides.
Planet dignified by favourable position, motion or aspect, but not in Essential Dignity. See Dignities, Accidental and Essential.
Acronichal (Acronycal; Acronychal; Acronical)
The opposite of Cosmical, this is one of the three Greek ideas of the rising and setting of stars: Acronichal, Cosmical and Heliacal, by which they measured the length of the year.
One who has conscious control and understanding of techniques. An Adept is one who is proficient in astrological, alchemical, mystical or esoteric techniques, usually an initiate into one or other of the Mystery Schools.
Hellenistic astrological term for conjunction of planets.
Unfortunate aspect between planets, or other chart factors. See Malefic Aspects.
Aether (Ether, Ăther)
Acronichal – the point opposite the Sun
Acronichal Rising – a star or planet rising at sunset
Acronichal Setting – a star or planet setting at sunrise
Read more on the Aether.
When planets or other factors are similar, in harmony, or have a mutual compatibility.
An adverse aspect, or position, creating problems in the expression of the relevant energies. Aspects from malefics are almost always adverse, so the aspected planet is said to suffer affliction, or be afflicted, but benefics can also afflict if poorly placed in the chart. A planet can also be said to be afflicted if it is debilitated by chart position (for example if in fall or detriment, or by rulership of the unfortunate houses: 4th, 6th, 8th and 12th.).
The location of the vernal point in the sidereal zodiac defines the current Astrological Age. An Astrological Age has a duration of some 2,160 years, as the vernal point (0░ Aries in the Tropical Zodiac) precesses through the sidereal zodiac at a rate of something over one degree every 72 years. The two zodiacs coincided in approximately 200 AD (depending on your ayanamsa) marking the end of the Age of Aries and the beginning of the Age of Pisces. It has now precessed to around 5░ Pisces, so we are gradually approaching the end of the Age of Pisces and have entered the transitional phase towards actualisation of the Age of Aquarius.
Age of Aquarius
The Astrological Age that begins when the vernal point precesses beyond the first degree of sidereal Pisces and into the last degree of sidereal Aquarius. The exact year of this cosmic event is in dispute, but is most likely to be sometime around the mid 2300's AD. One argument in favour of the Age of Aquarius having already begun is the cusp argument promoted by Ptolemy and others that the actual cusp of a house is effective up to five degrees before the actual cuspal degree, but this is shaky insofar as it applies to houses rather than to signs. However, it is supported by the experience of the deaths of millions in the twentieth century under, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, the World Wars etc (marking the ending of the Age of Pisces) and the emergence of the individualistic, technological culture that arrived during the 1960's. This issue was of intense interest to early "New Age" astrologers in the twentieth century (and indeed still is), as it was supposed to introduce a new age of brotherhood and harmony and the coming "sixth race" of advanced humans. You can draw your own conclusions on that.
Technique for drawing up a harmonic chart for the age of a person, or other astrological subject. This little-known but powerful technique, especially useful for birth-time rectification, and for synastry analysis, was discovered by Australian astrologer Ross Harvey in 1983.
One of the four astrological elements. A masculine element, it stands for intellect, media, matters to do with communications and so on. The other elements are, Fire, Water and Earth.
Libra (cardinal), Aquarius (fixed) and Gemini (mutable).
The Air Signs: Libra; Aquarius; Gemini. These signs are hot and moist by nature and sanguine by temperament.
The mystical fifth element, or quintessence. The cosmic spiritual essence that pervades and underpins the material elements, Fire, Air, Earth and Water. A sanscrit word meaning "shining", it is also known as the Astral Light, or collective unconscious.
The "Book of Life"; interactive cosmic storehouse of karmic impressions made by every thought, word and deed in the Akasha, or cosmic mind, the collective unconscious.
Alchemical quintessence: the fifth and highest element after Air, Earth, Fire and Water; once believed to be the substance composing all heavenly bodies. See Akasha, also Quintessence.
A medium that was once supposed (originally by Leibniz) to fill all space and to support the propagation of electromagnetic waves. See Dark Energy.
In theosophical terms, it is a subtle energetic field, or level of consciousness immediately surrounding and interpenetrating the physical level of our five senses. See Etheric Body.
One who practices Alchemy.
Ancient art of transforming substances from an impure to a pure form using occult techniques (the Great Work), primarily the transformation of base metals into gold. Alchemy also had a profoundly spiritual symbolism, enabling the transformation of the gross condition of man into a refined and essentially pure realisation of divine spirit (the symbolical Great Work). Substances (herbs, gems, metals, etc.) according to the Law of Correspondences were applied using astrological rulerships and techniques, energising the work by planetary hours, aspects, phases etc. The key lay in
- Alchemy: second stage of the Great Work; whitening and purification; the Moon; female
- Astronomy: fraction of sunlight reflected by a planet or satellite (no astrological connotations).
Alchemy, the forerunner of modern scientific chemistry, is still practised in its own right (as distinct from herbalism, chinese medicine and ayurveda, all of which employ alchemical techniques). Some modern practitioners claim to have achieved the Magnum Opus (Great Work).
Alcocoden (Alchochoden, Alcoccoden)
Alchochoden, "the giver of the years", meaning the planet which, in the natal chart, reveals the number of years that the person is going to live. It is determined by finding the planet that has most essential dignity, whilst being in good aspect to the hyleg.
A malefic Fixed Star in the 10th degree of Gemini, known traditionally as the archangel Michael, the Watcher of the East. A behenian star, it is one of the four Royal Stars.
Ephemerides tabulating Sun, Moon and planets under the patronage of King Alfonso X of LÚon and Castile. His team of some 50 astronomers at Toledo revised and improved Ptolemy's geocentric tables in the Almagest, freshly translating from Arabic editions into Castilian (completed c.1252). Once translated into Latin in 1320, they remained the standard in Europe until superseded by Johannes Kepler's superior Rudolphine Tables, published in 1627. See Rudolphine Tables.
Derived from the mixed Arabic and Persian "al firdar", the alfridaria, or alfridaries, are a system of planetary periods of Persian origin first described as far as we know by Abu Mashar. Originally intended for the long term forecasting of historical events, they can also be used in predicting for individual charts. More about Alfridaria.
Caput Algol, a malefic fixed star currently located in the 27th degree of Taurus. More on Fixed Stars.
Signs in Aversion. See also Disjunct.
A planet which, because of its placing, dignities, fortitudes and aspects, comes to have more importance than the ruler, be it of the whole chart or of any particular House of the chart.
Giver of Life. The alphetical places correspond with the places of Hyleg, for which this is an alternative name.
Alfonsine Tables, q.v.
Jyotish term for New Moon
Second Century Alexandrian mystic and philosopher, teacher of Origin, Clement, and Plotinus. The founder of what eventually became Neoplatonism, he sought to resolve religious and philosophical conflicts by reviving the ancient Wisdom Religion and developing a universal human brotherhood. Ammonius revealed the essential identity of all religions, acquainting his students with the various systems. Plato and Pythagoras were compared with the philosophies of the ancient East; the Jewish Qabbala with the ancient Egyptian teachings. He revived the system of Orpheus, in which a single Supreme Essence, unknown and unknowable, emanates the souls of the world and the people in it. He taught theurgy, the art of using the divine powers of man to rule the blind forces of nature. Although unwritten, his philosophy (through followers such as Plotinus, Porphyry and Iamblichus) has had a powerful and enduring influence on Astrology, Hermetic Esotericism, Qabbala, Christianity, Gnosticism, Judaism, Islam and Paganism.
Dragon's Head (north lunar node).
A planet severely afflicting the Hyleg at birth and by direction. Usually a malefic, but any planet can be the Anareta, particularly the lord of the 8th, the almuten of the lord of the 8th, or any planet placed in the 8th house. Known as the "killing planet", it is believed to portend the cause of death.
Anaretic Degree (Anaretic Place)
- the manufacture of the Philosopher's Stone (a catalyst in the Great Work);
- the development of the Universal Solvent (capable of dissolving all substances); and
- the Universal Panacea, an elixir believed to be the cure for all ills.
Anaxagoras (c.500–428 BCE), a presocratic Greek thinker and friend of Pericles, first proposed that the Moon's light reflects the Sun, lunar eclipses being caused by Earth's shadow, with solar eclipses coming from the Moon obscuring the Sun. He declared that the Moon had mountains, and that the stars were far distant from the Earth. Holding that the universe was ordered by the cosmic mind (nous), he distrusted the evidence of the senses, preferring reasoning. His ideas on the origins of matter were a precursor of the atomic theory.
- The 30th degree (29░00'–29░59') of any Sign. It is also known as the degree of fate. Planets and other factors that occupy the anaretic degree reveal deep issues which generate significant trials in life.
- The degree wherein the Anareta is found, according to DeVore.
- The terms of the infortunes are also known as Anaretic Degrees.
In order of power:
- Expressing characteristics of both sexes. Mercury is convertible and androgynous, as he can be either dry, or moist, depending on his position in the chart.
- In ancient mythologies, primordial gods and goddesses are regularly depicted as androgynes (hermaphrodites), revealing the polar nature of creation. We see this too in the light and dark, the yin and yang of the cosmos.
- In alchemy, Sol and Luna are seen as complementary halves of the one whole, the soul and body. Ancient astrology assigned Sun and Moon as co-rulers of both Leo and Cancer, though this is no longer accepted in modern astrology.
- Actual human androgynes (hermaphrodites) were once considered incarnations of the divine. Twentieth century medicine denied the existence of hermaphrodites, often assigning gender surgically. A number of these third sex individuals have surfaced in recent years to reclaim their identities.
The Angles are the most important houses. Planets in angles are the strongest and most significant.
Angles of a Malevolent (Infortune)Tenth, Seventh and Fourth signs counted in relation to the sign holding a malefic planet (Mars or Saturn) as if it were the Ascendant. Also when in corporeal conjunction (i.e. as if in the First House of the Malevolent). Planets placed here are considered unfortunate, but the negativity of the position is cancelled by reception if applicable.
Pertaining to the Angles. Angular houses are the strongest and angular planets must be especially noted.
The "Soul of the World", or World Soul. According to ancient philosophy, the essential ground of consciousness that permeates and vitalizes everything in nature, diffused through the smallest subatomic particle right up to the most advanced forms of planetary consciousness. In this way, everything on the Earth is connected and related at a profound, subliminal level. See Thema Mundi, the postulated chart of the beginning of the world.
Animodar (of Tetrabiblos)
Ancient method of birth time rectification, dating at least from Ptolemy and apparently used by Galileo in the rectification of his own chart.
In an annular eclipse, the Moon does not completely block the light of the Sun, leaving a thin ring of fire (Annulus) visible. A New Moon near apogee is not sufficient to cover the face of the Sun completely, so its dark umbra cannot reach the Earth's surface to generate a total solar eclipse; hence, the antumbra predominates.
A benefic Fixed Star in the 10th degree of Sagittarius. One of the four Royal Stars.
AntipathyInharmonious relations between planets, particularly those which rule or are exalted in opposite signs.
A point equal in distance on the opposite side of the solsticial axis to a planet's position. It is effectively the "shadow" of a planet. The midpoint of a planet's position and its antiscion is always the point of the solstice (1░ Cancer – 1░ Capricorn). For example, when the Sun is in the tenth degree of Taurus, this is as far distant from the first degree of Cancer as it would be if placed in the twentieth degree of Leo, its Antiscion, so energising any planet in that degree or which casts an aspect to that degree. Once held to be a powerful fortitude equivalent to sextile or trine, this is rarely considered by modern astrologers, perhaps because it is a geometrical abstraction, rather than a real rock. More on Antiscion. See also Contra-Antiscion.
AntumbraThe antumbra in an annular eclipse is the section of the shadow that reaches the Earth, the body of the Moon being too distant for the umbra (darkest part of the Moon's shadow) to reach the surface of the Earth. An annular eclipse can be darker than a penumbral or partial eclipse.
The place in a planet's orbit which is farthest from the Sun (gk: helios). See Perihelion.
Giver of life. See Alpheta.
Aphrodite Greek goddess of love, beauty and prosperity, cognate with Roman Venus.
Apoapsis (Apoapse; Apapsis)
The outermost point of an ellipse (as in a planetary orbit). The innermost point is called the Periapsis.
The place in a planet's orbit which is farthest from the Earth. See Perigee.
Apparent MotionThe celestial bodies appear to rise in the east and set in the west, but this is nowadays considered an illusion created by the rotation of the Earth on its axis.
The approach of one planet to another by aspect or conjunction, or to a sensitive point in the chart, such as a cusp. See Separation.
See Application q.v.
Plural of Apsis. According to The Aphorisms of Cardan, .
Apsis The point of greatest (apoapsis; apapsis) or least (periapsis) distance of the elliptical orbit of a celestial body from its centre of attraction (the centre of mass of the system). The points where the major axis of an elliptical orbit meets the orbital path. The Line of Apsides is the major axis of the ellipse, the line passing through the longest part of the ellipse.
The eleventh sign of the zodiac. Aquarius, the Water-bearer, is a fixed, air sign. More about Aquarius.
Age of Aquarius, q.v.
Obsolete name for Aquarius.
Significant points on the ecliptic, derived from the relationship between other significant points or planets. Parts are also known as Lots. See Pars FortunŠ (Part of Fortune). More about Arabic Parts.
Distance as measured in degrees, minutes and seconds along the circumference of a circle. There are 360 degrees of arc in the circumference of a circle; a minute is one 60th of a degree and a second is one 60th of a minute. One sign describes 30 degrees of arc along the circumference of the zodiac. Some scientific authors are now using decimal fractions, instead of minutes and seconds, though curiously they are still using degrees from the ancient Babylonian sexagesimal (base-60) mathematical system.
ArchetypeOriginal pattern, model, prototype, or blueprint. According to modern, psychological astrology, archetypes are the primordial images that form the structural basis for our subconscious motivations, expressed symbolically by planets, signs and other astrological motifs. Though the self-actualisation ideals of modern astrology were conceived in the theosophical schools of the 19th century, using archetypes as motivators derives from the 20th century psychoanalytic theories of Jung.
AresGreek god of war and fertility, cognate with Mars. Not to be confused with Aries, the sign of the Ram.
The first sign of the zodiac. Aries, the Ram, is a cardinal fire sign, commencing in the Tropical system at the vernal equinox. More about Aries.
The first degree of Aries (but also by aspect the other three cardinal points, the beginnings of Cancer, Libra and Capricorn). Where these points fall in the chart is held to be highly significant in terms of the way an individual is pushed into the spotlight. It is used mainly by practitioners of Uranian astrology (a.k.a. Cosmobiology), but also has ancient references. It is more widely known as the Vernal Point.
Aristarchos of Samos
Aristarchos (c.310–230 BCE), a Greek astronomer and mathematician born in Samos, Greece, was the first to propose a heliocentric model of the solar system, countervailing the predominant geocentric theories of Aristotle and the majority of ancient thinkers. Using geometric techniques, he also calculated the sizes of the Sun and Moon and their distances from the Earth, and proposed that the stars were infinitely distant from the Earth (to account for their lack of parallax). Modern observations show that his calculations were incorrect, but that his techniques were on the right track. His heliocentric ideas inspired Copernicus some 1800 years later.
A pivotal Greek philosopher (384–322 BCE), student of Plato and tutor of Alexander the Great. He wrote widely and his influential ideas on physics, metaphysics, poetry, theatre, music, logic, rhetoric, politics, government, ethics, biology and zoology were dominant until modern times. His geocentric cosmological theories formed the universal backdrop for the ancient and mediŠval worldviews, notably with regard to astrology as formulated by Ptolemy.
- First House (Ascendant – East Angle)
- Tenth House (M.C. – South Angle)
- Seventh House (Descendant – West Angle)
- Fourth House (I.C. – North Angle)
More about the Ascendant.
AscendingA planet is said to be ascending (rising), when moving via the ascendant between the fourth and tenth cusps, i.e. in the eastern hemisphere of the chart.
North Node. See Nodes.
See Long Ascension and Short Ascension.
AshtakavargaSophisticated point-system of calculating the power of planetary transits, particularly in view of a planet's strength with regard to every planet, including Sun and Moon. Used in Jyotish (Indian Astrology).
AspectParticular angular distances between planets, or planets and other sensitive points, measured in degrees (░), minutes (') and sometimes seconds (") of arc. In ancient times, planets were held to "see" other planets at particular geometric positions determined by their rays, hence they took on an aspect of vision. In this way, signs were really in aspect rather than planets, and many traditional astrologers (especially those who follow the Indian or the Hellenistic systems of Whole Sign Houses) still hold that aspects must be in-sign and not out-of-sign. Modern astrologers generally do not take this view, but simply consider geometric relationships as aspects. Conjunction is also nowadays considered an aspect, even though the ancients did not call it such.
Aspects can be Zodiacal (read along the ecliptic) or Mundane (read along the equator), as well as by sign. Whenever more than one of these conditions apply, the aspect is more powerful. See Mundane Aspects.
Smaller constellation. See Lunar Mansions.
Small planetoids orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. There are many of them, but recently a small number have managed to get themselves considered useful in astrology, notably Ceres, Juno, Pallas Athene and Vesta. These are all considered to be feminine influences, or "goddess planets". More about Asteroids.
AstralStarry. Often used as a shorthand for the Astral Plane, or Astral Body.
Astral BodySubtle, interpenetrating body, or level of the human energetic field (aura), primarily concerned with processing information and prana (chi) at the emotional level.
Astral LightMaterial expression of the Akasha, or self-luminous collective unconscious.
Astral PlaneIntermediate level between the spiritual and the physical worlds; the emotional level of the body-mind. The soul of the world-being. Lower level of the Akasha.
Astral TravelSeparation of the Astral Body from the physical and visiting other locations. This mainly happens unconsciously in sleep, but some adepts can consciously control and direct the movement of the astral, whether in the sleeping or the waking state.
A mechanical device, predecessor to the sextant, whereby mariners determined the time of day by the Sun, of the night by the stars, and the height and depth of mountains and valleys.
AstrolatryStar worship; adoration of the heavenly host
AstrologerOne who practices Astrology.
See Age, Astrological.
The sign and degree on the cusp of the First House, the eastern horizon of the chart, in most house systems. In some such as the Whole Sign system, or the Equal House system based on the MC, it is a sensitive point, not necessarily in the first house. Technically it is the point on the Ecliptic where the Ecliptic intersects the Horizon to the East of the Meridian. See Rising Sign.
- In Horary, the cusp of the house that represents the party: e.g. the cusp of the 5th is the ascendant for a child of the querent.
AstrologyThe science of the stars, astrology seeks the meaning and application of the planets, stars and other celestial phenomena in our lives. A very ancient, yet still vital discipline.
AstrometeorologyMeteorological Astrology. Weather prediction, including prediction of storms, floods, cold spells, etc., using ancient astrological methods. Kepler himself was an expert in this field, having kept meticulous meteorological records for decades, matching them with planetary aspects, and publishing weather predictions in some of his almanacs.
AstronomerOne who practices Astronomy.
AstronomyThe science of the observation and material origins of stars and other celestial phenomena. Of relatively recent origin, this discipline has become separated from and generally hostile to astrology, with which it was once intimately in partnership.
Atma (Atman)Spiritual essence, or soul.
Soul indicator in a Vedic astrology chart. Reveals strongly ingrained tendencies and affinities, providing the greatest opportunities for soul progress. There are two, the Sun, the natural atmakaraka and the temporal (charaatmakaraka), which is determined by placement of the planets in the signs, also defined as that planet with the highest degree of longitude.
A luminous spiritual atmosphere or halo made up of subtle energy fields: patterns of energy, vibrating at interwoven frequencies and intensities. These comprise, surround and interpenetrate the body-mind through several levels of consciousness. The energetic planetary signatures affect us via the aura. See Astral Body.
- Astrologer (rare)
- Believer in, or follower of, astrology – though not necessarily an actual astrologer
The potent 15th degree of each of the Fixed Signs. Held by some to mark the entry point of divine energy via the planetary Avatar into the cosmos.
Average Daily Motion
The average motion of a planet over a 24 hour period. Travelling slower than average is held to be a debility. See Mean Daily Motion.
A lack of acknowledgement between zodiac signs based on aspects of 30 and 150 degrees. Some hellenistic astrologers thought aversion to be cancelled by like-engirding, equal power, or commanding and obeying relationships. This aspect was considered very unfortunate by the ancients, but is not held to be unduly evil by modern Western astrologers.
AyanamsaThe difference between the starting points of the Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs, due to the precession of the equinoxes. There are several in use in India today, but the official government-sanctioned Lahiri ayanamsa (22░27'37.7") is the most widely used. The other popular ayanamsas are Krishnamurti (22░21'50") and Raman (21░00'52") though it should be mentioned that there are at least 3 different versions of Lahiri, plus other lesser-used models.
Traditional Indian holistic healing system, based in the humoral relationships of plants, oils, gems etc to the human body. Ayurveda (ayur: "life" & ved: "knowledge") is a spiritual discipline as well as a medical one, seeking balance of the body, emotions, mind and spirit. Strongly rooted in astrology, the method employs herbs, diet, exercise, yoga, massage, aromas, gems, tantras, mantras, and meditation to overcome excesses or deficiencies in elemental life energies. More on Ayurveda.
Deficient or "Weak" degrees that are traditionally held to cause tendency to lameness, deformity, or other disability such as blindness. See Table.
AzimuthAngular bearing of a celestial object measured in degrees on the horizon from the north point, relative to the position of an observer. It was formerly measured from the south point, but the advantages of this are negated when in the southern hemisphere.
- Powerful spiritual incarnation.
- According to Vedic Astrology, there are nine planetary Avatars, one for each of the visible planets, plus Rahu and Ketu, the Moon's Nodes.