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Astrology Glossary

Definitions of important astrology terms
Astrologer often make use of specialised words, terms and phrases to describe specific astrological phenomena and conditions. Many of these words may differ from their ordinary dictionary meanings, or may not appear at all. These are the definitions of some commonly used, astrological terminology:
  1. Altitude: The elevation of a star or planet above the horizon, its vertical distance measured in degrees. The 'Horizon' being, 0° and the 'Zenith' being, 90°.
  1. Anaretic Degrees: When a planet reaches 29° to 30°, it has reached a critical phase of development as this is known as the 'Anaretic' degree. The Anaretic planet cannot be ignored when the it is activated by major predictive factors, such as transits and eclipses. Any attempt to ignore or delay results in serious frustration and failure. Planets at these degrees triggered by Saturn, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto indicate important 'Karmic' concerns.
  2. Angles: The angles are the first, fourth, seventh and tenth house cusps, the cardinal points of the zodiac. These points are considered the most sensitive points of the chart.
  3. Apex: The region in the constellation Hercules towards which the solar system is moving at about 12 miles per second.
  4. Aphelion: The point in a planet's orbit where it reaches maximum distance from the sun.
  5. Apogee: In astronomy, an apogee is considered to be the maximum distance of the centre of a moon or satellite, from the centre of the planet that it is orbiting. In astrology, the only satellite that is of relevance is the Moon as this is considered to be a planet. Hence the apogee or, 'Lunar Apogee' is the greatest distance between the centre of the Earth from that of the Moon.
  6. Ascendant: Also known as the First House Cusp, or Rising Sign, the Ascendant is the position of the Sun on the horizon at the minute of your birth. Astrologers consider it an even stronger psychological indicator of the personality, especially as it is perceived by others.
  7. Aspects: The relationships between the planets are measured by astrologers and if there is a connection between specific degrees, the planets are said to be 'In aspect' to one another. The relationship can be expressed positively or negatively, depending on the planets involved and the specific angles at which they connect.
  8. Conjunction: Conjunctions 'Blend' the energies of the two planets that occupy the same space within a separation of 8°.
  9. Combusted: A planet is considered 'Combusted' when it is located very close to the Sun in the sky. The closeness to the Sun causes the planet's energy to be weakened and obscured by the Sun's mass and powerful energy. As a result, the influence of such a planet is said to be diminished during this time and its positive qualities may be suppressed. The effects of combustion can vary depending on the planet involved and its placement in a particular horoscope chart.
  10. Co-ordinates: The geographical latitude and longitude of your place of birth. If you do not have this information, you can look it up in an atlas, or online at Wikimapia or Google Earth. Providing this information can be helpful, as it helps an astrologer to identify lesser known locations.
  11. Cusps: The space of one degree on either side between two houses or signs. People born "On the Cusp" are people born within a degree of the change between one sign to the next. They may strongly exhibit characteristics of both signs.
  12. Debilitated: When a planet is in the sign of its debilitation, it is said to be in its weakest and most unfavorable position. The energy of the planet may be suppressed or restricted and its effects may be less pronounced. For example, Jupiter is debilitated in Capricorn, which means that when Jupiter is placed in Capricorn, it may have a harder time expressing its positive qualities and may be weaker than usual.
  13. Direct: 'Direct' is the opposite of 'Retrograde' and refers to the apparent motion of a planet towards the Earth. When a planet is in direct motion, it appears to be moving forward in the sky from the perspective of Earth. This is the normal motion of the planet and it is believed to have its regular effects on the energies and influences associated with the planet. That is, a direct planet will have an otherwise normal influence.
  14. Divisional Chart: A 'Divisional Chart' is a Vedic technique used to further analyse an individual's birth chart. The birth chart, also known as the natal chart, is divided into twelve parts, each representing different areas of life. Each divisional chart, also called a 'Varg', focuses on a specific aspect of life, providing a more detailed analysis of the individual's horoscope. For example, the D-9 chart, also known as the 'Navamsa' chart, is used to study marriage and relationships, while the D-10 chart, also known as the 'Dasamsa' chart, is used to study career and professional life.
  15. Elements: Each sign is related to one of the elements: Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius), Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn), Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) or Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces).
  16. Equinox: 21 March, 21 September, when the days are equal night to day.
  17. Exalted: When a planet is in the sign of its exaltation, it is said to be in its strongest and most favorable position, and its energies are believed to be amplified. For example, Mars is exalted in Capricorn, which means that when Mars is placed in Capricorn, its qualities are enhanced and it is considered to be very powerful.
  18. Grand Square or Cross: A subset of the 90° Square aspect. Squares are one of the more challenging aspects. They indicate stressful interactions between the aspecting planets. A Grand Square or Grand Cross combines four such aspects in such a way that the four planets also form two oppositions in what looks like a 'Cross', while the planets form a 'Square' in the chart.
  19. Houses: Astrological houses are created by different methods (called House Systems). Every astrological chart has 12 different houses. Each house is related to a specific area of life or interest (for example the 1st house relates to sense of self, the 2nd house relates to money, and so on).
  20. Interceptions: Intercepted houses are those that have the same sign on both cusps. Planets in intercepted houses offer the greatest insight into a given incarnation because the resulting shift announces a lifetime of predictable karmic breakthrough. Intercepted planets do not begin to manifest their latent energy until they have progressed into a 'Free' sign.
  21. Lunation: The cycle of the Moon (full, waxing, waning, etc). The cycle of the Moon at birth gives the astrologer additional clues to the emotional and psychological make-up of the client.
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  1. Lunar Nodes: The 'Lunar Nodes' or 'Nodes' refer to two opposing points in the sky where the orbit of the Moon intersects with the ecliptic, which is the apparent path of the Sun around the Earth. The North Node, also known as the Dragon's Head or 'Rahu' represents the point where the Moon crosses the ecliptic moving from south to north, while the South Node, also known as the Dragon's Tail or 'Ketu' represents the point where the Moon crosses the ecliptic moving from north to south. These points are important in astrology as they are believed to have a significant influence on an individual's life path, 'Karma' and spiritual growth.
  2. Midheaven: 'Midheaven', also known as Medium Coeli (MC), is a point on the ecliptic that represents the highest point in the sky at the moment of an individual's birth. It is one of the four angles of the birth chart and represents a person's career, public reputation and social status. The Midheaven is calculated based on the time and location of a person's birth and is typically found on the cusp of the 10th house in the natal chart. It is associated with the zodiac sign that was on the Midheaven at the time of the person's birth.
  3. Midrash: A genre of rabbinic literature constituting an anthology of homilies and sermons, based upon biblical exegesis, dating from the 7th or 8th century AD until about the 12th century.
  4. Modalities: Each sign is related to a specific modality or 'Response Style'. Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn are 'Cardinal' (they tend to act directly and decisively). Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius are 'Fixed' (they tend to act persistent and determined). Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces are 'Mutable' (they tend to be adaptable, flexible).
  5. Mutual Reception: When two planets occupy the signs ruled by the other, it adds energy to their interactions.
  6. Name Zodiac: The 'Name Zodiac' or 'Naam Raashi' is a person's name derived, zodiac sign, according to Vedic astrology. These are the same twelve zodiac signs, from Aries to Pisces that are used for the sun signs. This sign is identified from the first, or first few letters of a person's name. This sign can have an influence on their destiny and therefore, may assign certain zodiac sign or planetary influences, on the individual. This is often related to numerology, where the numerical value of a person's name is analysed for its astrological significance.
  7. Natal Chart: A 'Natal Chart', is a map of where the planets were in the sky, at the exact moment of a person's birth. It's also referred to as a 'Birth Chart', 'Horoscope Chart', or 'Astrological Chart'. The Natal Chart is calculated based on the date, time and place of a person's birth and is believed to provide insight into a person's personality, strengths, weaknesses, potential and life path. It's considered a powerful tool for self-awareness and personal growth and is often used by astrologers to give readings and make predictions.
  8. Opposition: A 180° aspect. Oppositions indicate that the aspecting planets work to opposing ends, generally (though occasionally the opposite is true - oppositions by nature are the most contrary aspects).
  9. Perigee: This is also known as the 'Lunar Perigee' and is the opposite of 'Apogee'. It is the point in the Moon's orbit where it is closest to the Earth.
  10. Period: A planetary period, referred to as a 'Dasha' in Vedic astrology, is a specific period of time during which a particular planet has a heightened influence on a person's life. The length of each planetary period can vary depending on the system of astrology being used and during each period, the characteristics associated with the planet in question, may be more prominent in the individual's life. Planetary periods have a significant impact on various aspects of life, including a person's career, relationships, health and overall mental and emotional state.
  11. Rahu Kal: 'Rahu' and 'Ketu' are twin Vedic planets with essentially malefic characteristics, as explained in detail in our 'Planets' section. 'Kal' is a Sanskrit word that translates to, 'Time' or 'Period' and Rahu Kal is an inauspicious time of the day when no important decisions or new plans, should be attempted. The timing of this event is different for each day of the week and occurs according to the local time of a given location. This lasts for about one-and-a-half hours.
  12. Rectification Charts: When an Astrologer is unable to locate the birth time for the querent, he or she may look at significant events in the client's life, and make an educated guess as to the actual birth time.
  13. Retrograde: 'Retrograde' is the opposite of 'Direct' and refers to the apparent backward motion of a planet in relation to the Earth. When a planet is in retrograde, it appears to be moving backwards in the sky from the perspective of Earth. This happens because of differences in the speed and orbit of the two planets. Retrograde planets are believed to essentially be diminshed in power and ineffective.
  14. Sextile: A 60° aspect. Sextiles are one of the more positive aspects. They indicate pleasant opportunities formed when the aspecting planets contact one another.
  15. Solstice: 21 June, longest, 21 December, shortest.
  16. Square: A 90° aspect. Squares are one of the more challenging aspects. They indicate stressful interactions between the aspecting planets.
  17. Talmud: The authoritative body of Jewish tradition comprising the Mishnah and Gemara
  18. Trine: A 120° aspect. Trines are one of the more positive aspects, but they lack much motivating factor. They indicate easy interactions between the aspecting planets.
  19. T-Square: A subset of the 90° Square aspect. Squares are one of the more challenging aspects. They indicate stressful interactions between the aspecting planets. A T-Square combines two such aspects in such a way that two of the three planets also form an opposition in what looks like a 'T' in the chart.
  20. Transit: A transit is the movement of a planet through the zodiac signs and its effect on an individual's natal chart. It is believed that transits can influence a person's life, particularly in the areas associated with the planet and the house it is transiting in. Transits are used in forecasting techniques to provide insights into potential events or experiences during a specific period.
  21. Yod: Also known as the 'Finger of Fate' or 'Finger of God', it is a relatively rare astrological aspect pattern involving three planets or points in a horoscope. It forms a configuration resembling an elongated triangle, with two planets in sextile (60°) aspect to each other and both of those planets in quincunx (150°) aspect to a third planet. This represents a focal point of intensity and possible 'Karmic' lessons. Individuals with a Yod in their birth chart are thought to experience a sense of destiny or a calling that may involve navigating complex and interconnected energies.
  22. Yog: 'Yog', sometimes spelt 'Yoga', is a term in Vedic astrology that refers to a specific planetary combination or alignment that has a significant influence on a person's life and destiny. 'Yogs' are formed when certain planets come together in specific positions in a birth chart. There are numerous 'Yogs' and each is an indication of specific traits, events or circumstances in a person's life.
  23. Zodiac: This is an imaginary belt in the sky that is divided into twelve equal parts. Each division is named after the constellation that appears within that segment. Each zodiac sign is associated with specific personality traits and characteristics.

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