Like every other discipline, astrology has its own glossary, a set of specific terms that refer to the many aspects of this ancient art. These are the most common terms used by astrologers.
It goes without saying that there are a great many zodiac terms and phrases that we haven’t included here. If you feel there are any missing that are of particular importance, please use the comments form at the bottom of this blog post to let us know all about them. We’ll be more than happy to expand this glossary over the coming weeks and would be delighted to have your valuable input.
‘A’ Zodiac Terms
Aries: The first sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the Ram and of the element of fire. Aries rules the first house, and the head (in medical astrology). The keywords are ‘I Am’.
Aquarius: The 11th sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the water bearer and of the element of air. Aquarius rules the 11th house, and the lower legs. The Keywords are ‘I Know’.
Ascendant: The first angle of the chart, and the rising sign. This house describes how a person looks, according to the characteristics of the rising sign.
Aspect: Angles made by the planets in relation to each other in the natal chart. Planets in aspect to each other work in harmony with good aspects, or create tension with difficult aspects.
Asteroids: Minor planets, mostly found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Some of these, such as Juno, Pallas and Vesta, are used by astrologers to ‘fine tune’ a natal chart.
Axis: The polarity of the MC/IC and the Ascendant/Descendant. These angles are the main areas of life – career and home, and personality and relationships. Planets placed at these angles have extra power in the chart.
‘B’ Zodiac Terms
Benefic: A planet or aspect that is beneficial – Venus and Jupiter are said to be beneficial planets and the sextile and trine are beneficial aspects.
Birth date: The starting point of astrology, whether it is the birth of an event or a person. A date is needed to fix the chart in time and space.
Birth chart: An astrological chart drawn up for the date of birth of a person (or an event).
‘C’ Zodiac Terms
Cancer: The 4 th sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the crab, and of the element of water. Cancer rules the fourth house and the breasts. The keywords are I Feel.
Capricorn: The 10 th sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the goat, and of the element of earth. Capricorn rules the fourth house and the bones. The Keywords are ‘I Use’.
Chiron: A comet body orbiting between Saturn and Uranus, now regarded as another planet in Astrology. Chiron in mythology is half-man half-horse, a healer who carries his own deep and open wound, therefore he is known as the Wounded Healer.
Composite: A composite chart is used in relationship astrology, combining the charts of two people to better understand the nature of their relationship.
Conjunction: Two planets within 5-10 degrees of each other in the same sign are said to be in conjunction in a chart.
Constellation: A group of stars in the sky that forms a recognizable pattern. Astrology uses only the 12 constellations that the Sun passes through. (See Ophiuchus).
Cusp: The line that separates one zodiac sign from another in the natal chart. The area between cusps measures 30 degrees, but for the purposes of astrology, signs measure 0-29 degrees from beginning to end, and each sign starts at 0 degrees.
‘D’ Zodiac Terms
Degree: The unit of measurement used in Astrology. The zodiac wheel is 360 degrees, broken down into 12 signs of the zodiac measuring 30 degrees each.
Descendant: The sign opposite the Ascendant. This will always be the sign that is opposite to the sign on the Ascendant – Aries/Libra, Taurus/Scorpio, Gemini/Sagittarius, Cancer/Capricorn, Leo/Aquarius, and Virgo/Pisces.
Dwarf Planet: The IAU (International Astronomical Union) defines a dwarf planet as one with enough mass to have gravity, but which shares its orbit with other bodies of equal gravity. Pluto has been declared a dwarf planet but this has not affected its use in astrology.
‘E’ Zodiac Terms
Earth: For astrological purposes, the center of the solar system, since it is the astrologer’s standpoint.
Eclipse: Lunar and Solar Eclipses are important events in astrology, and where they make contact with a natal chart, they coincide with significant times in a person’s life.
Element: The four elements are earth, air, fire and water. The element in which a planet resides defines much of its character. Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are fire; Gemini, Libra and Aquarius are air; Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are water; Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are earth.
Ephemeris: A set of tables giving the positions of the planets, asteroids and stars for a particular time and date.
‘G’ Zodiac Terms
Gemini: The third sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the twins and of the element of air. Gemini rules the third house and the keywords are ‘I Think’.
Glyph: A single character used to denominate a planet, sign or aspect in a chart.
Geocentric: Placing the earth at the center of the zodiac.
‘H’ Zodiac Terms
Horoscope: A natal or birth chart cast and drawn up by an astrologer which includes interpretation of the planets in their signs and aspects.
Houses: The zodiac wheel is divided into 12 houses as well as 12 signs. Each house rules a different aspect of life. There are many different house systems but the most commonly used is ‘equal house’ in which each house is 30 degrees.
‘I’ Zodiac Terms
IC: The Imum Coeli (bottom of the sky) is the lowest point in the zodiac wheel at the opposite point from the MC (Medium Coeli). It signifies foundations and inherited traits.
Inner Planets: The seven planets and luminaries visible to the naked eye; Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.
‘J’ Zodiac Terms
Juno: One of the asteroids, or minor planets, used in astrology. Juno is generally found to be involved in matters of marriage.
Jupiter: The planet of expansion and geniality, and the ruler of Sagittarius.
‘K’ Zodiac Terms
Key Words: An important concept in astrology. Each area of interpretation – the signs, the planets, the elements and the houses – have distinct keywords which, when combined, provide a reliable guide to interpretation. Each sign also has keywords denoting its essence.
‘L’ Zodiac Terms
Leo: The 5 th sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the Lion and of the element of fire. Leo rules the 5th house and the keywords are ‘I Will’.
Libra: The 7 th sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the scales and of the element of air. Libra rules the 7th house and the keywords are ‘I Balance’.
Luminaries: The Sun and the Moon. They are not planets, although in astrology they are generally referred to as planets.
‘M’ Zodiac Terms
Malefic: An aspect, sign or planet thought to bring bad luck in traditional astrology.
Mars: The planet of energy and action, and the ruler of Aries.
Mercury: The planet of communication and the mind, and the ruler of Virgo and Gemini.
MC/Midheaven: The Medium Coeli (center of the sky) or highest point of the chart. It is the point in the chart that signifies goals and career.
Moon: One of the luminaries, the moon defines a person’s emotional life and responses, according to the sign and aspects.
‘N’ Zodiac Terms
Natal Chart: The chart drawn up for a person’s date, time and place of birth.
Neptune: The planet of dreams and visions, and the ruler of Pisces.
Nodes of the Moon: These are not actual bodies, but points in the Moon’s orbit where it crosses the ecliptic. The North and South Nodes of the Moon are naturally in opposition and appear to be quite active by aspect to personal planets as important time in the life.
‘O’ Zodiac Terms
Ophiuchus: The so-called 13 th sign. The Precession of the Equinoxes means that the sun’s path around the earth has changed over 2000 years. It now passes through Ophiuchus (the Serpent Bearer) in November/December, and the signs have effectively moved from their original positions. Ophiuchus Astrology has some adherents but as astrology is mostly symbolic, there has been no general move to include it.
Opposition: When two planets are in opposite signs, with a separation of 0-0 degrees, they are said to be in opposition.
Orb: The permitted amount of separation between two planets in the natal chart. The ideal is 0-5 degrees, but can go to 10 degrees if luminaries are involved.
Outer Planets: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. These planets are believed to have a generational effect unless they aspect personal planets.
‘P’ Zodiac Terms
Pisces: The 12 th sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the fishes and of the element of water. Pisces is the ruler of the 12th house and the keywords are ‘I Believe’.
Progressions: A form of forecasting, in which the movements of the sun, moon and inner planets in the days and weeks following the birth are noted at later times in life to see if they make significant aspects to the natal chart.
Place of birth: The location of the birth is an important piece of information an astrologer will require for a completely accurate natal chart.
Pluto: Now a dwarf planet, Pluto continues to be an important part of natal astrology. It signifies life changing events.
‘Q’ Zodiac Terms
Quincunx: Also known as an inconjunct, this signifies planets that are 150 degrees apart with a tight orb of 0-5 degrees.
Quintile: An aspect between planets of 72 degrees.
Quesited: In horary astrology, the quesited is the person or object in question. For example, in the questions where are my keys or will I marry this person, ‘keys’ and ‘person’ are the quesited.
‘R’ Zodiac Terms
Rectification: This is a specialized area of astrology that attempts to find an unknown time of birth through a careful study of the person’s chart at significant times in life.
Retrograde: It is not possible for a planet to go backwards in the sky, but it is possible for it to appear to do so. When this happens it is called retrograde motion, and is well known for making things slow down or get out of kilter, especially when it is Mercury.
Rising: A planet that is above or below the Ascent (or rising sign) at the time of birth is said to be ‘rising’. This can be significant in the life path. Mars, for example, can signify a link to the military.
Rulership: The signs have their planetary rulers, such as Mars and Aries. The rulership of a sign is a strong indication of its overall nature.
Return: Faster moving planets in the solar system make regular returns to the positions they held in the birth chart. These returns can be significant times in the life, such as the first Saturn return which occurs about the age of 30.
‘S’ Zodiac Terms
Saturn: The planet of responsibility and restriction, and the ruler of Capricorn.
Sextile: An aspect of 60 degrees between planets.
Sagittarius: The 9 th sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the Archer and of the element of fire. Sagittarius rules the 9th house and the keywords are ‘I Seek’.
Scorpio: The 8th sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the Scorpion and of the element of water. Scorpio rules the 8th House and the keywords are ‘I Desire’.
Solar return: When the sun returns to its original position in the birth chart, on or around the birthday.
Station: This refers to a planet which appears to stand still, or ‘station’, before moving forward again from being in retrograde motion.
Stellium: When four or more planets come together in a sign. They do not have to be in conjunction, although this would make it more powerful.
Square: An aspect of 90 degree between planets, with an orb of 0-0 degrees.
Sun Sign: The sign the sun occupies at the time of birth, wrongly believed to be all an astrologer needs to understand character and relationship potential.
Synastry: The art of relationship astrology and the interplay between the charts of a two people.
‘T’ Zodiac Terms
Taurus: The second sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the bull and of the element of earth. Taurus is the ruler of the 2nd house and the keywords are ‘I Have’.
Transit: A transit occurs when a planet’s current position connects with the position of a planet in the natal chart.
Trine: An aspect of 120 degrees between planets.
Time of birth: The exact (or close to it) birth time is important to ascertain the correct sign and degree of the Ascendant.
‘U’ Zodiac Terms
Uranus: The planet of eccentricity and the unexpected and the ruler of Aquarius.
‘V’ Zodiac Terms
Virgo: The 6 th sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the Virgin and of the element of earth. Virgo rules the 6th house and the keywords are ‘I Analyze’.
Void of Course: Refers to the Moon having passed beyond the point of making any aspects to other planets until it enters the next sign. A void of course moon is not the best time to make major decisions.
Venus: The planet of love and beauty and the ruler of Taurus and Libra.
‘X’ Zodiac Terms
Xena: Also known as Eris, a dwarf planet that is used by modern astrologers. She is regarded as being the female form of Mars and is indicative of feminist views.
‘Y’ Zodiac Terms
Yod: The ‘Finger of God’. The Yod consists of two planets in sextile aspect on one side of the chart and a third planet on the other side in quincunx to both. This is a rare aspect and is considered to be highly significant.
‘Z’ Zodiac Terms
Zodiac: The wheel of the zodiac on which all natal charts are based. It is 360 degrees in a complete circle.