Basic Astrology Terms

These are more in depth definitions of Astrology terms used by astrologers and written by Silver Ravenwolf in her book.
Borrowed from: Silver Ravenwolf’s Book Of Shadows for the New Generation Solitary Witch(pages: 226-230)

Afflicted: When a planet sends/receives negative dialog from another planet. Typical afflictions include: squares and oppositions.
Air Signs: Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are the three signs of the zodiac attributed to the qualities of the element of air. Also known as the air triplicity.
Angles: The four angles of any astrological chart are the ascendent, the descendant, the midheaven, and the I.C. Or immum coeli.
Angular Houses: The first, fourth, seventh, and tenth houses in a horoscope. When a planet passes over one of these mythical lines, stuff happens in your life that you didn’t necessarily expect/were waiting for.
Applying and Application: Used when describing aspects. An applying aspect is a window of time that begins when a planet reaches a certain distance from another planet, which will eventually (depending upon the speeds of the planets) create a geometric pattern, most commonly called an angle. This window lasts until the geometric pattern becomes mathematically “exact.” Once the distance between the two planets is exact, the continued movement of the planets away from the geometric pattern (or angle) is called a separating aspect.
Arabic parts: Imaginary points on an astrological chart used during the Middle Ages by Arabic astrologers and calculated from the positions of the planets according to specific mathematical formulas. The Part of Fortune (PF) is the most common point seen in today’s charts.
Aspect: When planets are at certain angles from each other, the planetary energies interact depending upon the nature of the planet, the angle, and the speed at which each planet is moving. These critical angles are called aspects. Each aspect has a name and common attributes. Traditional astrology commonly uses the Ptolemaic set of aspects; however, there can be hundreds of angles, depending on what astrological system you use.
Ascendant: First sign to rise on the left-hand side of a zodiac chart, usually associated with the first house; 180 degrees or opposite the descendant.
Asteroid: A heavenly body that is smaller than a planet and is encompassed in the sun’s orbit. Usually found in bands and often consisting of rocks and frozen ice. The most common asteroids used in magick are Ceres, Juno, Pallas, and Vesta, and each is attributed to a particular goddess energy.
Juno: Roman wife of the God Jupiter associated with magick done for marriage, commitment,
and relationships.
Ceres: Associated with the descent of the Goddess; caring, nurturing, maternal, and
Pallas: From Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom, war, and accomplishment; creativity, using
one’s talents, studying, and so on.
Vesta: Roman goddess of hearth and home, and used in magick in relationship to those subjects
as well as discipline and effort in completing tasks.
Astrology: “Speech of the Stars” (also “the Science of the Stars”),derived from the Greek word astron, meaning “star,” and logos, which means “discourse” or “speech.” The study of the energy influence of heavenly bodies on any behavior, activity, or condition on people, places, and things.
Birth chart: A figurative snapshot diagram of the heavens taken at the exact point in time when you were born. The diagram is usually circular (although the charts of the Middle Ages were shaped like boxes) and shows the positions of the sun, moon, planets, zodiac signs, and other goodies (depending on the choices of the astrologer).
Burning Way: This is another old axiom, but I’ve found it incredibly useful in magick. Supposedly, if any planet falls between 15 degrees libra and 15 degrees scorpio, it has entered the Burning Way and trouble is afoot. However, I’ve discovered that if the planet in that position is in your favor, either natally or by a horary or electional chart, then you will be the winner against all odds. This is especially true with the planet Mars.
Cadent Houses: The second, fifth, eighth, and eleventh houses.
Cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. These signs usher in the equinoxes and solstices, and are therefore seen as “starter” energies. All four elements are represented Aries=Fire; Cancer= water; Libra= Air; and Capricorn= Earth.
Chaldean order: Ancient lineup of the planets, beginning with Saturn, Jupiter, Mares, Sun, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon. You will see this order when working with planetary hours.
Constellation: A group of stars located in the same section of the heavens. Usually associated with a mythical animal, person, or circumstance.
Culminating: An ancient term for reaching the midheaven in an astrological chart.
Cusp: The degree at the beginning of a house.
Day and Night charts: The ancient astrologers concluded that the planets behaved differently depending on a day or night placement. It was believed that some powers of the planets were available only at certain times of the day or night.
Decan/decanate: The division of a zodiac sign into three parts. Each zodiac sign is 30 degrees, and each decan in that sign is 10 degrees. The first 10 degrees of any sign are said to carry the nature of that sign. The thing to remember with decanates is that they always represent only one element. As there are only 3 signs in each element, those three signs will always be used, though their location (decanate, in this case), will differ within the sign.
Degree: A degree is 1/360 of a circle. Each degree is divided into 60 minutes and each minute is divided into 60 seconds. The time it takes a planet to move from degree to degree around the circle is the main timing mechanism used in astrology, and the magicks associated with it. Degrees are also used as addresses when locating where a planet is at any given time.
Decendant: Seventh sign from the first, located on the right of the zodiac chart, usually associated with the seventh house; 180 degrees, or opposite the ascendant.
Detriment: One of the planetary dignities. A planet is considered in its detriment when it is in the sign opposite the one that it rules. For example, the moon is in its detriment when in the sign of Leo; therefore, the moon in Leo is not as strong as you might first think. The best time to do planetary magick is when the planet is either in its ruling sign, or when it is in a sign where it is exalted. The moon, by the way, is exalted in Taurus.
Earth signs: Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are the signs associated with the element of earth, and are thought to have the qualities of that element. Also called the earth triplicity. (There are, by the way, day triplicities, but these are only used in classical astrology.)
Eclipse: The blocking of the light from one heavenly body by another heavenly body. Eclipses of the sun and moon figure prominently in magickal applications. A lunar eclipse is said to affect situations for approximately six weeks, where an eclipse of the sun is said to last for six months.
Ecliptic: The yearly path of the sun in the heavens through the zodiac, divided into twelve equal divisions of 30 degrees, giving a grand total of 360 degrees.
Electional astrology: Studying various charts to determine the best day and time possible to enact an event, such as a wedding.
Ephemeris: A book of tables that shows the positions of the planets at any given time.
Essential dignity: There are five essential dignities. These dignities rely on the location of the planet in any given chart. The five dignities that are location dependent are rulership, exaltation, triplicity, term, and face. Although modern astrologers have thrown much of this out, magickal astrologers are learning that these old expressions of energy can be very helpful in predictive work. If you plan to study classical, horary, or event-driven (electional) astrology, you will learn to acknowledge the dignities.
Fire signs: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are the zodiac signs associated with the element of fire, and are thought to have the qualities of that element. Also the fire triplicity.
Fixed signs: These are the stubborn ones; Taurus, Leo, and Aquarius. Magick done in a fixed sign; or using a planet that is currently in a fixed sign, will “set” the magick and give you long-term results.
Fixed star: A star that is so far away in the heavens that it appears to stand still and becomes a fixed position on any chart. Aspects to fixed stars tell you amazing nuances for magickal workings and even more so if you plan to go into predictive work. And don’t let them fool you——conjunctions aren’t just what it’s all about. If you are really serious about the study, all the Ptolemaic aspects are important.
Geocentric: As viewed from the Earth’s surface (or, to be precise, from the center of the Earth). Most astrologers use geocentric astrology, which is why astronomers think we’re nuts.
Glyphs: Written symbols of the signs, planets, and aspects.
Horary astrology: The study of an astrological chart based on the time of a question. Horary has its own rules and relies on classical astrology, although modern interpretations are sometimes used.
House systems: There are a bunch of these and astrologers are always fussing over which is the right one to use. A house system primarily dithers over where the cusp lines fall—some are equal house systems (where the degrees always equal 30) and some are unequal. I’m not even going to venture to tell you which to use.
I.C.: An abbreviation for the words immum coeli; a Latin term meaning “the lowest part of the heavens”(in this case it is the lowest point on any astrological house, and follows the fourth house cusp line).
Ingress: The entry of a planet into a sign or a house; therefore, you will see house ingresses and sign ingresses.
M.C. (midheaven): The highest point of the heavens, located at the top of any astrological chart and usually on or close to the tenth house cusp.
Mundane astrology: A branch of astrological study that interprets the charts of nations, eclipses, and solstices to monitor and analyze political events.
Mutable signs: Gemini, Virgo, and Sagittarius—these signs can move with the flow and interact with just about anyone on anything.
Nodes of the Moon: There are two, the North Node and the South Node, sometimes called the Dragon’s Head and Dragon’s Tail, respectively. These are the points on the chart where the Path of the moon crosses the ecliptic.
Orb/Orb of Influence: The range of degrees within which an aspect is considered to have an effect. Orbs differ by aspect and by the choice of the astrologer.
Stellium (satellitium): A grouping of three or more planets in a sign that are carrying on a conversation (meaning they are in aspect). Very useful for combining energies in magickal applications.
Succedent houses: Third, Sixth, Ninth, and Twelfth.
Transits: The changing positions of the planets as they move through the signs of the zodiac. Transits influence planets and points in any type of chart and can trigger events. However, a single transit alone rarely triggers any situation. Conversely, single transits work quite well for planning magickal applications.
Zodiac: Means “little zoo,” a small band of the sky about 8 degrees on either side of the ecliptic, which contains most of the motions of the planets.

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