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Reading the Road Signs

Here's a concise dictionary of frequently used terms in Astrology and throughout this site. Still have an unfamiliar term you've seen around? Add your suggested or requested terms here...

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Air
One of the four elements representing ideas, communication, and intellect. The air signs are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius.
 
Ascendant
The sign that was on the eastern horizon at the time of birth. Its location is the easternmost point in the chart and is the cusp of the first house. The Ascendant is also sometimes referred to as the rising sign. It represents our social style, and how we "meet" the world.
 
Aspects
Geometrical relationships between planets. Some are the conjunction, the opposition, the square, the sextile, the trine, and the quincunx.

Asteroids
Small celestial bodies that are sometimes used in interpretation. Juno, Ceres, Pallas Athene, and Vesta are the best known. A good resource for asteroids is Demetra George's "Asteroid Goddesses".

Cardinal
One of the three modalities which suggests action and initiative. The cardinal signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn.

Conjunction
An aspect in which two or more planets occupy the same degree. Conjunctions imply a blend, or fusion, of the energies of the planets involved.

Cusp
In a birthchart, the line that is the beginning of a house. The sign on the cusp of a house suggests the style through which the affairs of of the house are approached.

Descendant
The cusp, or entry point, into the seventh house. It represents the style we bring to intimate relationships.

Earth
One of the four elements representing practicality, stability, and pragmatism. The earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn.

Elements
Air, earth, fire, and water. Each represents affinities specific to the element.

Ephemeris
A reference book that shows planetary positions . for any given day. The most commonly used ephemeris is Neil F.Michelsen's "The American Ephemeris for the 21st Century".

Fire
One of the four elements representing initiative and drive. The fire signs are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.

Fixed
One of the three modalities which represents stability and tenaciousness. The fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius.

Glyph
A symbol used in astrology to represent signs, planets, and aspects.

Hemisphere
Halves of the birthchart indicating the area above, below, east or west of the horizon at birth. A preponderance of planets in any of the hemispheres carries broad themes.

Houses
Twelve sectors of the birthchart that represent territories of life experience.

Midheaven
Cusp of the 10th house and pinnacle of the birthchart. It represents the position of the Sun at noon. Its abbreviation is MC, for the Latin Medium Coeli.

Modalities
The three general modes of expression. Modalities are cardinal, fixed, and mutable.

Mutable
One of the three modalities which represents flexibility, responsiveness, and changeability. Mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces.

Nadir
Cusp of the 4th house and point farthest below the horizon. It represents the position of the Sun at midnight. Its abbreviation is IC, for the Latin Imum Coeli.

Nodes
Points, rather than planets, which are important keys to chart interpretation. The South Node of the Moon suggests strong predispositions or talents, whereas the North Node of the Moon, the opposite point, represents a path of growth.

Opposition
An aspect with an angle of 180 between planets. It suggests tension or polarization between the planets involved.

Orb
The span of degrees within which an aspect is considered to be active. Usually orbs of up to ten degrees are allowed for planets aspecting the Sun, Moon, or Ascendant. Tighter orbs usually apply to other planets.

Part of Fortune
The most commonly used of the Arabian parts. It is said to be a place of good luck and fulfillment if one works to access its energy.

Quincunx
Also called the inconjunct, an aspect of 150 that requires adjustment.

Retrograde
Apparent backward motion of planets. Stories suggest that a retrograde planet's energy is turned inward during a retrograde period.

Sextile
An aspect of 60 between planets. It suggests positive flow and excitement between planets involved.

Square
An aspect of 90 between planets. It indicates tension and friction between the planets involved.

Stationary
Describes an apparently motionless planet. A planet is stationary just before it moves retrograde or direct.

Stellium
Three or more planets in a sign or house. It suggests a high concentration of energy.

Transits
Daily movements of the planets as they form aspects to our natal charts and activate themes of those natal planets.

Trine
An aspect of 120 between planets. It indicates harmony and easy flow between the planets involved.

Water
One of the four elements representing emotion and subjective states. Water signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.



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