Astrological Key Terms
it’s hard to learn more about astrology if you don’t know the basic astrological vocabulary, so here is a list of astrological key terms and definitions. If I am forgetting any important terms, let me know so I can add them! I didn’t add the zodiac signs, for the sake of brevity, but if you’re interested in learning more about the zodiac signs, check here.
- Air: The third of the four elements of the zodiac. The air signs are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Air signs are defined by their intellect, social character, and idealism.
- Anaretic degree: The 29th degree of any zodiac sign. If a placement is in this degree, that part of the person’s essence may be awkward or uncomfortable.
- Angular houses: The 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th houses, all ruled by the cardinal signs. These are the most important houses, and they show us how we are in contact with the world around us and how we take action. The cusps of the angular houses are the ascendant, imum coeli, descendant, and midheaven.
- Ascendant: Also known as a person’s rising. Often symbolized by the abbreviation “AC” or “AS.” The cusp of the 1st house. Our ascendant shows us how we express ourselves and how the world around us sees us.
- Aspect: An aspect is a special angle formed between two planets or points on an astrological chart that show the relationship between those planets or points. The major aspects are conjunction, opposition, square, sextile, and trine.
- Biquintile: A minor positive aspect of 144º with a possible orb of ±1º.
- Cadent houses: The 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th houses, all ruled by the mutable signs. These show us how we are think and how we use our resources.
- Cardinal: The first of the three modalities of the zodiac. The cardinal signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. Cardinal signs are defined by their leadership qualities and dynamic personality.
- Ceres: A popular asteroid. This asteroid shows us how
we nurture others and how people have nurtured us. The asteroid is also
strongly linked with motherhood, fertility, and gardening.
- Chart ruler: A chart’s ruler is the ruling planet of the ascendant. A chart’s ruler shows which planet leads the chart forward.
- Chiron: A popular asteroidesque planetesque celestial body. Chiron is strongly connected with our
health and healing. It shows us how we’ve been wounded and how we’ve
healed, and it shows how we strengthen ourselves through our pain and hardship. It is also associated with wisdom.
- Conjunction: A major neutral aspect of 0º with a possible orb of ±10º. This is considered the most important and powerful aspect. It indicates a focal point in the chart.
- Critical degrees: Critical degrees within any sign show points of heightened sensitivity.
- Cusp: A cusp of two signs is the area between the 29th degree of one sign and the 1st degree of the next one. You can be born within a cusp, but you cannot be a cusp sign.
- Cusp of a house: The cusp of a house is the point where a particular house begins.
- Decan: Each zodiac sign is separated into three equal subdivisions, called decans. Each decan emphasizes a different part of the sign’s archetype.
- Descendant: The cusp of the 7th house. Our descendant shows us what traits we are attracted to and what gives us balance.
- Detriment: A planet is detriment in a sign if the sign it’s in is the sign opposite the sign the planet rules. A detriment planet can feel uncomfortable or awkward in the sign.
- Dominant: A person’s dominant sign, planet, element, or modality is the one with the strongest influence over a person’s natal chart. Sometimes, it’s the sign/planet the person relates most to.
- Draconic chart: A person’s draconic chart shows the substance of the person’s soul and of the self beyond their body and this world.
- Duality: One of the classifications of the zodiac signs. A sign’s duality shows where the sign directs its energy, inwards or outwards.
- Earth: The second of the four elements of the zodiac. The earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Earth signs are defined by their dependability, patience, and practicality.
- Element: One of the classifications of the zodiac signs. The four elements simply show us basic personality traits associated with the zodiac signs’ archetypes
- Empty house: An empty house is one with no luminaries or
planets in it. Empty houses indicate a part of your life that isn’t as prominent as
other parts, since each house represents and encompasses a different
part of your life.
- Exalted: A planet is exalted in a sign if the sign’s archetype pairs well with the planet’s archetype without being in the sign it rules. An exalted planet can feel comfortable in the sign.
- Fall: A planet is fall in a sign if the sign it’s in is the sign opposite the sign the planet is exalted in. A fall planet can feel uncomfortable in the sign.
- Feminine: Also considered the introverted, passive, or yin duality. The second duality. The feminine signs are Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Pisces. The signs all direct their energy inwards. They tend to be
more introverted and less direct.
- Fire: The first of the four elements of the zodiac. The fire signs are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Fire signs are defined by their passion, outgoing
character, and courage.
- Fixed: The second of the three modalities of the zodiac. The fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. Fixed signs are defined by their determination and stubbornness.
- Generational planets: Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are the transpersonal or generational planets. They move very slowly and affects large generations of people rather than individuals.
- House: The positions of the houses in a natal chart are
calculated using the person’s time of birth and geographical birth
location. While the zodiac signs and the planets in the zodiac signs are
based on the earth and the other planet’s revolution around the sun,
the houses and the planets in the houses are based on the earth’s own
rotation about its axis. Each house represents a different part of a human life. Read this post for more information.
- Imum Coeli: Abbreviated as IC. The cusp of the 4th house. The lowest point of the circular chart. Our Imum Coeli gives us insight into our childhood and roots.
- Inconjunct: Also called a quincunx aspect. A minor negative aspect of 150º with a possible orb of ±2º.
- Juno: The asteroid related to long term partnerships. It is associated with our
soulmate, commitment, and true love. Its influence is similar to
Venus’s, but the love associated with Juno is more long term,
fundamental, and, often times, more subconscious.
- Jupiter: A social planet. Jupiter in any astrological chart symbolizes expansion, largeness, generosity, and luck. The planet rules the zodiac sign Sagittarius.
- Lilith: A person’s Lilith, which is based on the moon at the time of their birth, shows their primitive side and how they seek revenge.
- Luminary: The sun and moon.
- Mars: A personal planet. Mars in any astrological chart symbolizes the person’s physical attraction, raw energy, drive, and aggression. The planet rules the zodiac sign Aries.
- Masculine: Also considered the extroverted, active, or yang duality. The first duality. The masculine signs are Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius. The signs all direct their energy outwards. They tend to be
more extroverted and more direct.
- Mercury: A personal planet. Mercury in any astrological chart symbolizes the person’s communication style, mental processes, and superficial intelligence. The planet rules the zodiac signs Gemini and Virgo.
- Midheaven: Also known as medium coeli and abbreviated as MC. The cusp of the 10th house. The highest point of
the circular chart. Our midheaven shows us what we aspire to and what our reputation is like.
- Midpoint: The point physically equidistant from two planets, which shows how the two planets comes together. The most popular midpoint is the Sun-Moon midpoint.
- Modality: One of the classifications of the zodiac signs. The three modalities show us how the signs interact with the
world around them.
- Moon: A luminary and personal planet. The moon in any astrological chart symbolizes the person’s internal stuff, including their emotions, fears, and strongest desires.
- Mutable: The third of the three modalities of the zodiac. The mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces. Mutable signs are defined by their flexibility and adaptability.
- Natal chart: Your natal chart shows the positions of the planets, asteroids, and
other points at the moment of your birth, relative to the zodiac signs.
Each zodiac sign is designated a 30º portion of the celestial dome, and
our natal chart shows where the celestial bodies are positioned in the
dome. For example, I am a Gemini moon, which means that at the moment of
my birth, the moon was present in the portion of the dome assigned to
Gemini. Your natal chart as a whole maps out how you express yourself, perceive reality, and interface with the world around you. It does not necessarily determine your fate.
- Neptune: A generational, trans-personal planet. Neptune in any astrological chart symbolizes deception, illusions, and psychic ability.
- Nodes: The nodes are points in an astrological chart that shows what parts of a person’s soul or spirit were well-developed or under-developed when entering their life.
- Opposition: A major negative aspect of 180º with a possible orb of ±8º.
- Orb: The distance between an aspect’s exact, theoretical position and an aspected planet’s position. For example, if the moon in a chart forms a opposition aspect with the sun, but, instead of being exact 180º apart, they are 178º, the that opposition aspect has an orb of -2º.
- Pallas Athene: Usually just called Pallas. A popularly used asteroid. Pallas shows us where are talents lie
and how we figure out things like patterns. The asteroid is also
associated with injustice and equality and father/daughter relationship.
- Personal planets: The personal planets are the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars. These planets move the fastest around the sun, which means that they pass through zodiac signs the quickest. The effects of these planets on the person’s psyche are the strongest.
- Pluto: A generational or trans-personal planet. Pluto in any astrological chart symbolizes secrets and endings.
- Progressed chart: Your progressed chart defines you at any given day or year and how
you’ve evolved throughout your life unlike your natal chart which
encompasses your entire life as a whole. The younger you are, the more
similar your progressed chart is to your natal chart. Generally
(depending also on how late in a placement you were born), as a
teenager, your moon sign is the only sign that dramatically progresses.
- Quintile: A minor aspect of 72º with a possible orb of ±1º.
- Ruling planet: A planet rules a certain sign if the planet’s archetype matches the sign’s archetype well.
- Saturn: A social planet. Saturn in any astrological chart symbolizes a person’s limitation, work ethic, or reaction to authority.
- Semi-sextile: A minor aspect of 30º with a possible orb of ±2º.
- Sesquisquare: A minor aspect of 135º with a possible orb of ±2º.
- Sextile: A major positive aspect of 60º with a possible orb of ±6º.
- Sister signs: The opposite sets of signs. These signs are both or either repelled by or attracted to each other.
- Social planets: Jupiter and Saturn are the social planets. They represent the two possible reactions of a person to the people around them and to society, in general.
- Solar arc: A solar arc is the distance between a person’s natal sun and a person’s progressed sun on a certain day. This distance can be added to all placements in a person’s natal chart to create a solar arc directions chart, which is used in predictive astrology.
- Solar return chart: A solar return chart is used in annual predictive astrology and is based on the moment during a year where the sun returns to the sign and degree it was in at a person’s birthday.
- Square: A major negative aspect of 90º with a possible orb of ±7.5º.
- Stellium: A stellium exists when 3 or 4 planets are positioned in one house or sign. The exact definition of a stellium is debated by astrologers.
- Succedent houses: The 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 11th houses, all ruled by the fixed signs.
These show us how we administer and enjoy what we do.
- Sun: A luminary and personal planet. The sun in any astrological chart symbolizes the person’s expression, sense of self, or ego.
- Synastry: The study of relationships and compatibility using astrology and inter-chart aspects
- Trine: A major positive aspect of 120º with a possible orb of ±8.3º.
- Uranus: A generational, trans-personal planet. Uranus in any astrological chart symbolizes discovery, change, progression, and technology.
- Venus: A personal planet. Venus in any astrological chart symbolizes the person’s “relationship style” and what they look for in a relationship or partner, along with style, beauty, and other classically “feminine” things.
- Vesta: A popular asteroid. It is associated
with how we direct our energy and focus. It also has connections to sexuality, but it’s not like raw Mars or primitive Lilith. It has more to do with
focused and pure sexuality along with virginity.
- Water: The last of the four elements of the zodiac. The water signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Water signs are defined by their intuition, sensitivity, and emotion.