Glossary of Miscellaneous Terms and Concepts
Used in Astrology

These pages contain a glossary of commonly used astrological terms and concepts used on other pages in this site that may not be familiar to the casual reader. You can enter the glossary by clicking on highlighted words and phrases in the text of any page, or simply browse it directly. The "alphabet bar" below will help you enter at a certain letter ("Let's look at all the words that start with K") or cruise from one page to the next. Many definitions contain links to other entries, in case you want more details or like to get caught in mazes and webs. "See Also" references take you to pages with more complete background information. In particular, the Astrology Help Pages contain extended explanations of a large number of important topics.

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A5 Spectrum :
An astrological technique for describing the energies of the planets as a "planetary waveform" that shows how the planets form interlocking patterns based on their connections by aspect. See also A5 Spectrum Help Pages.
Aftershock :
A "retriggering" of an old aspect or planetary storm by the passage of faster moving planets across sensitive degrees. This releases the original energies in a series of smaller steps, similar to the way small earthquakes release the leftover energy after "the Big One" hits. This series of contacts allows you to bring important lessons home at a very personal level, spaced out over a long period of time.
Air :
One of the 4 classical elements, representing the traits of rational thinking, communication and relating to others. The air signs are Gemini, Libra, Aquarius.
The four most important and powerful points of a chart as defined by the house system being used. The points are defined by where the planes of the horizon and the meridian cross the ecliptic. These crossing points are the ascendent, descendent, midheaven (or MH) and imum coeli (or IC). Planets that are near one of these angles are emphasized and more important in a chart because of this proximity. See also House.
Ascendent :
The intersection point between the ecliptic and the eastern horizon. Also known as the rising degree and (generally) the cusp of the 1st house. See also House.
Aspect :
The angle between two planets and/or points along the zodiac. Certain angles are well known for their ability to combine planetary energies powerfully, though not always constructively. See Aspect for details.
Avatar Point :
A nickname for the 15th degree of the signs Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. Many astrologers consider these 4 points to be "entry points" for important spiritual energies. These points correspond loosely with the Sun's position at the "cross quarter" times of the pagan calendar.


Backbone :
The backbone of a planetary storm consists of the slow moving outer planets in aspect to each other, waiting to be triggered into action by the more fleeting aspects from fast moving inner planets moving through the same degrees. Sometimes a good backbone pattern can persist for months, spawning multiple storms during this time.
Benefic :
A planet that operates in a smooth, easy-going, beneficial fashion and frequently creates good results without much effort.
Big Aspect :
Any aspect between the slow moving planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Chiron, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto). These aspects are generally quite potent and influential, especially if they are multi-contact affairs. These energies often act on an unconscious level. See Big Aspects for more information on these influences.
Bowl :
A pattern of planets where all of them are concentrated in one half of the chart. Produces a very focused, but self-contained energy, at the expense of being cut off from areas of experience that lie outside of this restricted realm.
Bucket :
A pattern of planets where most of them lie in one half of the zodiac, while only one or two planets lie in the other half (the "handle" of the bucket) to balance them out. The planets in the handle represent unique traits that color the overall chart heavily, acting as forces that balance out the inertia of the main group of planets.


Cardinal :
One of the modalities for expressing elemental energies. The cardinal expression of an element is the initial or beginning phase of that element, its most straightforward or direct expression. It is usually simple and unencumbered, forceful, enthusiastic (though with little "staying power"), a pure representation of an energy-in-itself. The cardinal signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.
Cazimi :
When a planet is "in the heart of the Sun", that is, conjunct the Sun within an orb of 17 minutes of arc. Indicates the planet is so closely aligned with the solar identity that it doesn't act independently of the self.
A term to describe a planet extremely close to the Sun. The meaning of "close" varies from one astrologer to the next, but is typically within 3 to 8 degrees of the Sun. A combust planet is considered weakened (literally burnt up by the rays of the Sun) in influence and the qualities of that planet are deeply tied into one's personal identity (the Sun).
Contraparallel :
An aspect formed when two planets are in opposite declination, that is, when they are the same distance from the celestial equator, one north of it and one south. Generally considered to operate like an opposition.
Cusp :
The boundary or starting point of a zodiac sign or house. See also House.


Declination :
A measure of how far north or south of the celestial equator a planet or other body is.
Descendent :
The intersection of the ecliptic and the western horizon. Also known as the "setting degree" and (generally) the cusp of the 7th house. See also House.
Direct Motion :
The normal, forward motion of a planet through the zodiac signs (Aries to Taurus to ...). See also Retrograde Zone Info.
Direct Station :
The point in a planet's retrograde cycle when it is standing still (at a station), preparing to change from retrograde motion to direct motion. Coming at the end of a retrograde cycle, it often indicates a situation that has been stagnant or "stuck" for awhile, reached a crisis point, and is now beginning to resolve. See also Retrograde Zone Info.


Earth :
One of the 4 classical elements, representing the traits of sensuality, concreteness, practicality and an orientation towards the material plane. The earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn.
Eclipse :
When one body passes through the shadow of another, causing one of the planets to darken or disappear. Indicates great changes for the next 6 to 12 months. Comes in 2 types, solar and lunar. See also Eclipses.
Ecliptic :
The apparent circular path of the Sun across the sky each year. It is also the orbital plane of the Earth around the Sun. See also zodiac.
Elements :
The 4 elements represent 4 typical manifestations of "energy" that show up as distinct kinds of experiences on the physical plane and 4 qualities of psycho-spiritual abilities. These 4 elements go by the names Fire, Earth, Air and Water.
Ephemeris :
A book of tables showing the zodiac position of each planet every day of the year. It may look boring, but it's one of the most fascinating books in the world. See also the Online Ephemeris.


Fire :
One of the 4 classical elements, representing spirit, intuition, vitality and inspiration. The fire signs are Aries, Leo, Sagittarius.
Fixed :
One of the modalities for expressing elemental energies. The fixed modality is the consolidating or focusing phase of the element, when the energies are made most stable and permanent. It involves a solidification around a central point in order to make the energy resistant to change. Fixedness implies stability, stubbornness, a resistance to outside forces of change, and a slow-but-steady way of working that persists in spite of obstacles. The fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius.


Galactic Center :
This point is the center of the Milky Way galaxy that our solar system belongs to. This is considered to be a very "spiritual" or "transcendental" zodiac position by many astrologers. It is currently (2014) at 27Sa03.
Glyph :
A shorthand symbol for refering to a planet, zodiac sign, aspect or other astrological concept. See also Glyph Glossary.
Grand Cross :
A group of 4 or more planets in a cross shaped pattern, where planets are either directly opposite each other along the zodiac (oppositions) or 90 degrees apart (squares). A very dynamic, but stressful pattern that often "runs away" from the person unless they have some way of grounding the energy.
Grand Hexagram :
A group of 6 or more planets that lie 60 degrees apart in a 6 pointed star pattern (similar to a Star of David design). Very dynamic and full of great opportunity, if you are willing to put in the needed effort and can handle this higher volatile energy. The energy has a tendency to run away with you, making it difficult to control.
Grand Quintile :
A very rare pattern of 5 or more planets separted by 72 degree aspects (quintiles) that lie in a 5 pointed star design. Rather quirky and creative energies that defy classification in good/bad terms. Can feel like a "higher intelligence" is taking over which we need to attune to.
Grand Trine :
A pattern of 3 planets 120 degrees apart, forming a big triangle in the zodiac. A very positive and dynamic pattern, although it can often "run away" out of control.

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