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Above the earth

Descriptive of planets above the horizon, i.e., placed in the 12th, 11th, 10th, 9th, 8th or 7th house. In many kinds of charts it is considered beneficial to have the Sun, Moon or majority of the planets ‘above the earth’. This may be the case, for example, in a theft chart, where it could show that hidden factors are more likely to ‘come to light’; or in a medical-related chart in showing that the problem is fully manifest and easy to diagnose;  or in a chart concerning a ship in danger, where it would increase the likelihood of the ship remaining afloat.

Contrast with 'Below/under the earth'

Abu-Ma’shar - astrologer (a.k.a. Albumasar: 787-886)

Born in Khorasan, like Masha’allah and Sahl he moved to Baghdad where his reputation grew: towards the end of his life he was considered the greatest astrologer of his time. He studied under Alkindi, and it was a philosophical argument with Alkindi that fuelled his desire to gain knowledge. His most important astrological work, The Great Introduction to the Science of Astrology, was written around 850 CE and was widely circulated for many generations as an authoritative text, receiving many translations, both in its full and in an abbreviated form. (The abbreviated text was translated into English in 1997, by Charles Burnett).

Accidental dignity

Strength that a planet gains for some reason other than its zodiacal placement. It can be conveyed by any attribute that helps to increase the prominence of its effects – such as being angular, direct/swift in motion, free from combustion, in a beneficial aspect to a fortunate planet or conjunct a fixed star of a fortunate nature.


Causing damage to a house or planet. If one of the malefics is in bad aspect to another planet, the latter is afflicted by it. Mars, Saturn, (or the South Node) can afflict houses by their presence, particularly if they are poorly dignified and involved in difficult aspects. Planets that are usually considered benefics can also afflict, if they are in a damaged state or act as rulers of the houses that are traditionally considered unfortunate, i.e.: - 4th, 6th, 8th and 12th houses.

Al Biruni - astrologer (973-1048)

Regarded as one of the greatest scholars of the medieval Islamic era. He spent much of his life in Ghazni (modern day Afghanistan) where he worked as the court astrologer, but he also travelled widely, acquiring knowledge of a wide range of philosophical subjects and acquiring fluency in many languages. His Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology was translated into English by R. Ramsay Wright in 1934.

Albertus Magnus (‘Albert the Great’: 1193-1280)

A Catholic Dominican friar and bishop, considered the greatest German philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages. He gained fame for advocating scientific and religious harmony and was made a saint by the Catholic Church in 1931. Albertus approved of judicial astrology and supported the practice of horary at a time when other medieval authorities were condemning it on the grounds that it contradicted the Catholic Church’s teaching on freedom of will. Albertus argued that horary does not inhibit free will, but rather enhances it by giving the querent better informed choices. His arguments on this matter are presented in his Speculum Astronomiae where he maintained that well known books on horary and judicial astrology should not be burned or considered unnatural. 

Alkindi - astrologer (c. 801-873)

Educated in Baghdad, Alkindi became a prominent figure in the House of Wisdom and served under several Caliphs to oversee the translation of scientific texts into Arabic. He translated over 200 important works and went on to write hundreds of original treatises of his own, gaining him a reputation for being the greatest philosopher of his era. 


The angular distance of a planet above or below the horizon.


The angles are the ascendant, descendant, midheaven (MC) and Imum Coeli (or ‘lower midheaven’: IC). These mark the cusps of the 1st, 7th, 10th and 4th houses, and are also referred to as ‘cardinal points’. Planets in these houses are generally defined as ‘angular’ and powerful in influence.


A method of rectification which can be traced back to the work of Ptolemy and is explained in detail in several traditional works. It aims to correct the degree of the ascendant (once the astrologer knows which sign should be on the ascendant) by using the degree position of the planet that had most influence over the preceding New or Full Moon.

Antiscia & Contra-Antiscia

From the Greek, literally 'opposite shadows', the antiscion of a planet is its zodiac degree mirrored across the solstice points of the Cancer-Capricorn axis (so, a planet at 5˚ Capricorn has its antiscion at 25˚ Sagittarius). This mirroring ties the planets into a relationship based on the fact that at both points the length of day and night will be equal. Generally, the antiscion of a planet is considered to be a favourable point, whereas the contra-antiscion is not viewed as detrimental.


In a general sense the term 'applying' is used for any planet moving towards the conjunction or aspect of another. In strict terminology, a planet is said to be 'in application' or 'applying' to another when the planets are within orb of aspect and moving towards perfection (exactness). Planetary motion must be considered, for if a planet is retrograde an aspect that appears to be applying towards exactness may in fact be separating, and if a planet is about to turn retrograde an aspect that is currently in a state of application may fail to perfect.

In an aspect, the planet moving more quickly is said to be making the application or casting the aspect. The slower planet receives the influence.


The degree of the ecliptic (zodiac) that meets the eastern horizon, and which denotes the 1st house cusp. So called because planets here ascend above the horizon and become visible to the naked eye.

Ascension: long and short / direct and crooked

In the northern hemisphere:

signs of long or straight or direct ascension are: Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius
signs of short or crooked ascension are: Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini

Reverse for the southern hemisphere.

Due to the obliquity of the ecliptic, not all signs of the zodiac rise over the ascendant in an even span of time –  signs  of "long" or "straight" ascension rise at a greater angle to the horizon, which results in longer ascensional times; signs of "short" or "crooked"  rise at a more acute angle, so they ascend over the ascendant more quickly. The difference becomes more dramatic the further from the equator the observer is, and the effect is not observed at the equator, where the signs rise at approximately equal times (2hrs per sign).

Signs of long ascension are generally associated with longer durations and more direct paths; those of short ascension are associated with shorter durations and more crooked or unclear paths. 

→ This video, set for London, has the Sun near 0° Aries (a sign of short ascension) and the Moon near 0° Libra (sign of long ascension). Note that when the Sun rises (i.e., when Pisces/Aries is rising), the angle the ecliptic makes to the horizon is sharply acute. But by the time the Moon rises (i.e., when Virgo/Libra is rising), the angle the ecliptic makes to the horizon is at its greatest.


The word 'aspect' comes from the Latin aspicio, 'to regard'. Aspects are measured in celestial longitude and aspect meanings are affected by the geometrical and numerical relationships they make within the zodiacal circle: hence, what is usually called the square aspect today was traditionally called the quadrate or quadrangular aspect (referring to the plane figure that the aspect is able to create) or the tetragonal aspect, referring to the number of sides that its associated geometrical figure possesses (from the Greek tetra, 'four').

The traditionally recognised aspects include: conjunction (0˚), sextile (60˚), square (90˚), trine (120˚) and opposition (180˚).  The easiest way to recognise aspectual relationships is to consider how signs related by a square are all part of the same quadruplicity, and signs related by trine are all part of the same triplicity (as shown in this PDF file).


A mechanical instrument (a forerunner to the sextant), used to determine the altitude of the sun or other celestial bodies.


Barren signs

Gemini, Leo and Virgo are considered barren and thus not normally conducive to fertility. Aries, Sagittarius and Aquarius are also considered rather barren. In predictive techniques these signs can suggest difficulty in conceiving children, or the prospect of few children, when placed on the 5th cusp of the chart. Most of these signs are considered to have a drying influence. Also known as sterile signs.

Below/under the earth

Descriptive of planets beneath the horizon, i.e., placed in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th house, (although in the 1st house planets are less affected by this condition since by diurnal rotation they are rising towards the ascendant). When a planet is under the earth it is not visible in the sky; hence, a chart which has a strong theme of planets beneath the earth is descriptive of missing objects that cannot be found, motives that cannot be discovered, illness that are hard to diagnose, facts that cannot be brought to light, and a sense of being buried (as in missing treasure).

Contrast with 'Above the earth'

Benefic planets

Also known as ‘fortunes’, these are planets that are judged capable of assisting a positive outcome. Under normal circumstances Jupiter and Venus are considered naturally benefic because of their temperate natures, (Jupiter is traditionally known as the ‘Greater Benefic’ and Venus as the ‘Lesser Benefic’). Many traditional texts also consider the north node to be representative of increase and therefore term it a benefic. Compare with ‘malefic planets’.


Bonatus describes a besieged planet as one that separates from a malefic and applies to another (Con. 6). It shows a situation that is going from bad to worse. William Lilly described a planet besieged as one that lies between the bodies of the two malefics Mars and Saturn. His example is Mars at 10 ° Aries, Venus 13° Aries, and Saturn 15° Aries. It is generally accepted that besiegement can occur by aspect as well as bodily conjunction. As a principle it refers to a planet trapped by hostile forces on either side.

Besiegement example

The diagram shows William Lilly’s description of Venus besieged between
the bodies of the two malefics: Mars and Saturn (CA, p.114).

NB: some older works refer to a contrasting condition - sometimes called 'bonification' or being 'bonified', where a planet is surrounded by contacts with benefic planets.  See for example Johanne Schoener's list of scores for dignified and debilitated planets, where a planet surrounded by benefics receives five points, in contrast to a planet surrounded by malefics, which has five points taken away.

Bestial signs

These are the zodiac signs that are represented by four-footed animals: Aries, Taurus, Leo, Sagittarius and Capricorn. Also called quadrupedian, these signs can lack social graces and are reputed to display animalistic reactions to their emotions, sometimes indicating coarseness, inarticulation and a poor appreciation of polite manners. 

Bonatti, Guido - astrologer (a.k.a. Bonatus: c.1202-1296)

Professor of Astrology at Bologna, adviser to various Italian counts and princes, and one of the most celebrated astrologers of the medieval era. His greatest astrological work was Liber Astronomiae (‘Book of Astronomy’), which was recently translated into English by Benjamin Dykes. This is a full exposition of astrology in ten treatises, the sixth of which concerns ‘questions’.  Lilly acknowledged Bonatti as one of his sources and many of the theoretical passages in Lilly’s horary volume are direct translations from Bonatti. 



From the Latin cadere 'to fall', the cadent houses are those which ‘fall away’ from the angles by diurnal revolution: the 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th houses. Considered weak areas for planetary expression.

Planets are also said to be weak and badly placed when they are 'cadent from their own house (sign)'. William Lilly mentions this is regard to fertility matters (p.227) where he explains the principle as follows:

[Querent is likely to be pregnant if the Moon is ....] applying to the Lord of the Ascendant or Lord of the 5th in the 1st or 10th house, and he [5th-ruler] is not Cadent from his own House or exaltation; where you must understand this general rule concerning a Planet his being Cadent from his own House, is this, viz. if Mars be in Aries, it being his own House, let him then be in any of the twelve Houses, he shall be said to be Angular as to his being in Aries: if Mars be in Taurus he is Succeeding or in a Succedent House in that way:  if Mars be in Gemini he is then Cadent as from his owne House; and so forth in the rest: for ever a Planet is Angular in any of his own Houses.


From the Latin cardo 'hinge/pivot/pole', the term is used to denote something of foremost importance (hence cardinal sins, cardinal directions, cardinal rules, etc.). In astrology the angles are known as ‘cardinal points’; the angular houses are known as ‘cardinal houses’ and the signs of the equinoxes and solstices– Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn –  are known as ‘cardinal signs’.  

Cardinal / moveable Signs

Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.


When a planet is within 17 minutes of the Sun, it is termed Cazimi - in the heart of the Sun - and considered strengthened by the union.

Chaldean order

The Chaldean order of the planets is the traditional presentation of the visible planets in order of their height above the Earth and speed of daily motion, ie

Saturn - Jupiter - Mars - Sun - Venus - Mercury - Moon


One of the four humours, related to the season of summer and the element of fire. It denotes a hot and dry temperament and the word ‘choleric’ is often used to describe someone whose actions, passions and anger are quickly raised and easily discharged. In physiology the choleric humour is traditionally reputed to be seated in yellow bile (produced in the gall bladder), which is considered to raise activity and encourage the instinct to gather sustenance, supporting the principle of attraction.


A planet (or a sign) that contributes it influence and helps to signify something. In horary the Moon acts as a co-significator for the person asking the question. Other co-significators can be planets that fall in the querent’s house, planets that rule intercepted signs within the house, and planets that make strong aspects to the main significator.

Collection of light

Two planets, separating or making no positive aspect to each other, both apply to a third ‘collecting’ planet.


A planet is termed combust (burned) when it is in conjunction with the Sun and therefore hidden from sight by the light of the Sun. Traditionally this is a serious affliction and implies that the planet is weakened or restricted in power. It is often used to signify someone in fear or feeling overwhelmed, or to represent things that are kept hidden from sight. 

William Lilly stated that the combust planet should be within 8° 30' – beyond this distance, but within 17° of the Sun, the planet is said to be under the Sun’s beams. This condition is debilitating, but not as severe as combustion. 

More ancient authors generally used 15° to note the distance of being under the Sun's beams, and were less specific about the limits of combustion - generally, the expectation was that the closer the planets is to the Sun, the more intense and debilitating the effect is expected to be.

(See also: heliacal rising/setting)

Computer chart calculation

Free online calculation of horary charts is available at:

The free version of the app has limited options, (e.g., only calculates house cusps by Regiomontanus), but it includes all the main details required to read the chart, and produces a very nice looking graphic which can be saved as an image for incorporating into documents (example below).

Example chart


Culminating means to reach the highest or greatest point; in astrology this usually refers to the arrival of a planet at the midheaven, though the term was also used in ancient astrology to refer to planets reaching the IC, where they were described as “culminating beneath the earth”.

Culpeper, Nicholas - astrologer (1616 - 1654)

Younger associate of William Lilly, Culpeper became a legendary figure in the history of herbal medicine. A political radical, he ignored the monopoly held by the Royal College of Physicians and wrote his books in English, to make medical knowledge freely available to everyone. He is best known for his English Physician (1653), now known as Culpeper’s Herbal, which integrated theories of the doctrine of signatures and astrology into herbal medicine and became one of the most widely circulated texts in publishing history. His Astrological Judgement of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick, published posthumously in 1655, gives a more detailed account of astrological techniques for treating illness.


The cusps are the dividing lines between one house (or sign) and the next. Planets close to house cusps are considered to have more powerful influences than those removed from the cusps.  


Dariot, Claude - astrologer (1533-1594)

French astrologer and physician who studied medicine at Montpellier but fled France after the St Bartholomew massacre and settled at Geneva where he worked as astrologer and physician at the town of Beaune.  He published Ad Astrorum Judicia Facilis Introductio ‘Brief Introduction to the Judgement of the Stars’ in Latin in 1577. This was translated into English by F. W. Gent in 1583 and again in 1598, with a further revised English edition appearing in 1653. Lilly listed Dariot first when he acknowledged the sources of his own work.


Also called decanates: Egyptian term for the faces, means ‘tenths’ because each decan covers 10°. See ‘faces’.


This is another term for setting, or falling away from the angles.


Name of the branch of astrology that examines a chart drawn for the time of someone falling sick or becoming aware of an illness. Study of that chart allows examination of the root causes of the illness, the best approach and times for treatment, and a prognostication of recovery or relapse. (From decumbere, ‘to lie down’).

Derived houses


The degree of the ecliptic (zodiac) that meets the western horizon, and which denotes the 7th house cusp. So called because planets at this point descend beneath the horizon and are no longer visible to the naked eye.


A planet in detriment is in a sign opposite its sign of rulership. This is considered a debility or weakness for the planet.

Diagram showing detriment


Diagram showing dexter and sinister aspects.

Dexter literally means ‘of the right’ and refers to something on the right hand side; sinister means ‘of the left’ and refers to something on the left hand side. According to Pythagorean principles, movement towards the right is more natural and direct than movement towards the left (hence the term ‘righteous’ or the negative undertones given to the word ‘sinister’ generally). This partly recognises the influence of diurnal motion (by which planets move from left to right), and the fact that in any cycle between two planets, the faster moving planet will cast its aspect to the other on the right hand side whilst the cycle is waxing (suggesting growth and vigour), and to the left hand side when the cycle is waning (suggesting retirement and weakness). A ‘dexter aspect’ is therefore said to be more forceful and effective than a sinister one. Dexter aspects are formed in keeping with diurnal revolution (for example, a planet in Pisces applying to a sextile of a planet in Capricorn); sinister aspects are formed against diurnal revolution (for example, a planet in Pisces making a sextile to a planet in Taurus).

Dignities & debilities

Factors that increase a planet’s strength are called dignities; those that weaken it, debilities. These are termed ‘essential’ when they rely upon zodiacal position; and ‘accidental’ if they rely upon anything else. Thus the advantage offered to a planet by being in its own sign or exaltation is an essential dignity, the disadvantage of being in its sign of detriment or fall is an essential debility; but combustion, aspectual connections and matters of angularity or house position are accidental dignities or debilities.


The overall condition, influence, or virtue of a planet once all matters of dignity and debility have been judged. To commit disposition means to pass influence to another planet by aspect or reception.


A planet which rules another because the other is in one of its areas of essential dignity. For example, Venus, the planetary ruler of Taurus, is the dispositor of any planet in Taurus: that planet is said to be diposed by Venus by sign. Planets can also be disposed by the lesser dignities (see essential dignity). The general condition of the dispositor has some bearing on the strength of the planet disposed by it.

Diurnal hemisphere

This is the hemisphere above the horizon, comprising the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th houses.

Diurnal motion/revolution

Apparent motion of the heavens which carries planets from the eastern horizon, up to the midheaven, and down towards the west, as perceived by the senses from our seemingly stationary viewpoint. Also known as ‘primary motion’.

primary v secondary motion

Diurnal sect

See ‘sect’.


Diurnal means ‘of the quality of the day’; nocturnal means ‘of the quality of the night’. Diurnal energies relate to masculinity and the solar principle, being active, direct and expressive, whilst nocturnal energies relate to femininity and the lunar principle, being responsive, indirect, and impressive. Yin and Yang are analogous oriental terms. The characteristics of diurnal and nocturnal influences infiltrate many areas of astrological philosophy, from the alternation of the signs (usually referred to as masculine and feminine), to the assignation of planetary rulerships over the signs. Apart from the Sun and Moon each planet has two rulerships – one diurnal, one nocturnal – to recognise their expression in these altered states (for example, Mars rules Aries, its diurnal ‘house’, and Scorpio, its nocturnal ‘house’).

Diurnal/nocturnal charts

A ‘diurnal chart’ is one where the Sun is located in the diurnal hemisphere: being above the horizon it denotes someone born in the day time and therefore belonging to the diurnal sect. A ‘nocturnal chart’ is one where the Sun is located in the nocturnal hemisphere: being beneath the horizon it denotes someone born at night and therefore belonging to the nocturnal sect. Many traditional techniques (parts, firdar, triplicites, etc.) require knowledge of whether the chart is diurnal or nocturnal to establish correct formulas and dignity rulerships.


Traditional term meaning ‘place of residence’, so usually referring to a planet being in its own sign of rulership, i.e., Venus is in its domicile when in Taurus or Libra.


Another term for ‘rulership’.

Dorotheus - astrologer (1st century CE)

Author of a long, influential astrological verse known as Carmen Astrologicum (Latin: ‘Song of Astrology’). Only fragments remain in Greek, but it was widely reproduced and circulated across many cultures and epochs (the English translation made by David Pingree in 1976 was the result of Greek text being translated into Persian, then into Arabic, then into English).  It contains five books (so is sometimes called the Pentateuch: Greek: ‘Five Scrolls’), the first four dealing with natal astrology, the fifth being notable for its lengthy account of how to judge ‘Interrogations’ (i.e., questions). Authenticated Greek passages prove this work to be a source of many of the rules for judging horaries that appear in later works such as Lilly’s.



The Sun’s apparent path around the Earth, viewed from the seemingly stationary perspective of the Earth. So named because it is when the Moon joins the Sun on this path that eclipses occur. The ecliptic is the basis of zodiacal measurement, commencing at 0° Aries from where the ecliptic cuts the equator as the Sun moves to the northern hemisphere (the vernal equinox).

Electional astrology

The branch of astrology that seeks to identify the time of optimum planetary support for any particular activity that needs to be undertaken, in order to increase the chances of successful accomplishment. The astrologer ‘elects’ or chooses the time to act. For example, one might elect to commence a battle at a time that Mars offers favourable support.


Where the significator of the questited is located in the house of the querent. This gives a promise of perfection but usually needs supporting factors to reinforce the promise.


From the Latin aequus  'equal' + nox 'night', the term refers to the two points on the zodiac (0° Aries; 0° Libra) or the two times of the year when daytime and nighttime are equal in length. 

The vernal equinox is when the Sun reaches 0° Aries, which in the northern hemisphere  marks the first day of spring as the sun moves north across the equator to instigate the period where daytime become longer than night-time (vernal comes from the Latin word ver, meaning 'spring'.) 

The September equinox (0° Libra)  occurs when the sun crosses the equator going south (so this marks the first day of autumn in the northern hemisphere and the first day of spring for people living in the southern hemisphere). 

Contrast with solstice: either of the two moments in the year when the sun's apparent path is farthest north or south from the equator.

Essential dignity

This is the strength that a planet gains due to it being in an area of zodiacal rulership– so named because it shows the parts of the zodiac where the traditional planets are always dignified. These regions are considered to have a fundamental (or essential) relationship with the planet itself, inasmuch as Mars will always have a special association with Aries, regardless of its angularity or house position. The main essential dignities are rulership by sign or exaltation; the lesser dignities are rulership by triplicity, term or face. A planet is essentially debilitated when placed in its sign of detriment or fall.


A swift planet is about to perfect an aspect with a slower one but before it perfects the slower planet moves out of the sign and one or either of the significators meets with another planet.


One of the most important of the five essential dignities of a planet. Each of the seven traditional planets has its exaltation in one zodiac sign. Historically, some specific degrees have been recorded for each planet in its sign of exaltation, but exaltation is generally held to extend throughout the sign.

Exaltation diagram

Ezra, Abraham ibn - astrologer (a.k.a. Avenezra: c.1092-1167)

Born in Spain, Ezra spent much of his life travelling, including visits to Egypt, Baghdad, Rome, and London. A Jew, he wrote a series of astrological texts In Hebrew which together offer a comprehensive treatment of its various branches. Principum Sapientiae (L: ‘Beginning of Wisdom’) is his ‘Introduction’ and the best known of his works. It was translated into English in 1939, and more recently by Meira B. Epstein (1998). Epstein has an ongoing project to translate further works. Several texts, including Ezra’s Book of Interrogations, which specifically details the principles of horary astrology, have also been made available in English translation by the respected Jewish scholar Shlomo Sela.



Also known as ‘decans’; divisions of the signs into 10° sections, each of which is governed by one of the traditional planets. These appear to be based upon the Egyptian division of the year into 36 ten-day periods, each presided over by a particular stellar deity. The 4th century astrologer Firmicus Maternus is among many who placed great emphasis on their use, saying that a planet in its own decan is as good as in its own sign. Like Manilius before him, he attributed decan rulership to the signs of the zodiac, but most authors, including Ptolemy, gave them to the planets in descending order towards the earth, (i.e., Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon). Their order reflects planetary rulership over the days of the week.


A planet is in fall when placed in the sign opposite to its sign of exaltation.

Diagram showing fall positions


Fertile signs

The signs of the water triplicity: Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, defined as fruitful because of their moist influence which is conducive to fertility. Unless afflicted, they show (amongst other things) a propensity for large families, many children or easy pregnancy. Scorpio is the least promising in this regard because where it is afflicted it can indicate many pregnancies that fail.

Five degree orb for house cusps

Many traditional authorities claim that a planet within 5 degree of a house cusp should be considered to have its influence within that house. For example, if Mars is at 3° Taurus, and the 2nd house cusp at 7° Taurus, Mars would be considered an essentially ‘3rd house’ planet. 

Fixed Signs

Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius.


See ‘benefic planets’.


Where two significators are applying towards conjunction, but before it perfects the slower planet has already caught up with and perfected a conjunction with another planet. This third planet can interfere with the promise of the contact between the two significators.

Frustration example

In this example, the Sun strains to meet with Mars but is frustrated
because Mars perfects a conjunction with Jupiter first.



A stationary arm or a rudimentary sundial used for tracking the movement of the Sun.



A condition representing planetary contentment because the planet is suitably positioned according to sign and sect
The term is usually applied when the planetary nature agrees with its the hemisphere placement (by itself termed halb, 'half') and the gender of its sign. For example, when a masculine, diurnal planet is positioned in the same hemisphere as the Sun (above or under the Earth) and is also in a masculine sign. Likewise; or when a feminine, nocturnal planet is placed in the opposite hemisphere to that of the Sun and is in a feminine sign. 

The word has slightly variant definitions according to different traditional authors because it derives from an Arabic term which simply describes the placement of the planet as a suitable one. For example, the Arabic astrologer Al-Biruni* tells us that a masculine planet is more dignified in a masculine sign, so he says it is in its  hayyiz (or hayz); meaning its 'natural place' or 'preferred position'. The placement of a planet in an unsuitable place - such as a masculine planet in a feminine sign, is considered weakening and termed 'contrariety of hayz' or contention. 

In his Opusculum Astrologicum (1539) Johannes Schoener tells us that the condition is also known as 'similitude'. He says:

Hayz, or planetary similitude, is when a diurnal planet is above the earth in the day, under the earth at night, and a nocturnal planet is under the earth by day, and above the earth at night. 
Or, again, when a masculine planet is in a masculine sign and quarter and is oriental, but a feminine planet is in a feminine sign and quarter and is occidental.
This method sometimes comes to three times in which a planet can be in its own hayz; first, agreement to the quality of time [by being] above or under the earth; second, agreement with the masculinity or femininity of the sign; third, agreement with the masculine or feminine quadrants, which is called by others conformity by quadrant. 
Observe, however, that Mercury is sometimes diurnal, sometimes nocturnal, now masculine, then feminine, according to its configuration with planets, or according to the nature of the sign in which it is found, if it is not conjunct or configured by another [planet], which you should note well. (II,  XIX).

In his table of dignity scores, Schoener includes 3 extra points of fortitude for a planet in hayz, and deducts 2 points of strength for a planet in 'contraiety of hayz'.

 Lilly's definition (
CA, p.113) reads:

Hayz is when a masculine and diurnal Planet is in the day time above the earth and in a Masculine sign, and so when a feminine, nocturnal  planet in the night is in a feminine Sign and under the earth: in questions it usually shows the content of the querent at the time of the question, when his significator is so found.

*The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology, (written 1029, translated 1934 by R. Ramsay Wright) ch. 496 & 497, p.308. 

Heliacal rising / setting

Ancient astrologers gave particular emphasis to the heliacal rising and setting of stars since these could be used as reliable indicators to agricultural conditions. A heliacal setting occurs when a planet or star enters into conjunction with the Sun. The increasing proximity of the Sun towards the star each day eventually leads to a period of invisibility, during which it is masked by the Sun’s light (see combust). Its setting is the moment when it is visible for the last time immediately after sunset. It then rises and sets with the Sun, remaining hidden from sight both day and night. When the Sun has separated from the star by somewhere between 8-20 degrees of zodiacal longitude the star begins to emerge, briefly, immediately before sunrise – its first brief appearance being known as its heliacal rising.

Horary astrology

Branch of astrology that offers a detailed exploration of a particular query using a chart drawn for the time that the astrologer understands the full implications of the client’s concern. The verbalisation of the question is seen as a moment of physical manifestation of the problem, which can be used to explore its potential in the same way that a birth chart can explore the potential of a human life. (From the Latin horarius, ‘of the nature of the hour’).


When people speak about the horizon generally, they mean the small circle of the visible horizon where the earth joins the sky; but in astrological calculation we refer to the celestial (or rational) horizon – a great circle which cuts through the centre of the earth and is always perpendicular to the zenith and nadir. This divides the chart into the upper (diurnal) and lower (nocturnal) hemispheres.  


A term generally used to refer to the chart as a whole, but anciently used to mean the ascendant or first house. 

Hour circles

15° divisions of right ascension (measurement along the equator), the passage of which across any meridian equates to one hour of time (since the whole sphere rotates 360° in a day and 360/24 = 15).

House of joy

The house where each of the traditional planets is assumed especially strong: Moon - 3rd house;Mercury - 1st house; Venus - 5th house; Sun - 9th house;Mars - 6th house; Jupiter - 11th house;Saturn - 12th house.

House rulerships

It might be useful to have a copy of this House rulership index - extracted from Deborah Houlding’s book - The Houses: Temples of the Sky, Wessex, 1996. (Other extracts are available here).

Humane signs

Those are the signs represented by human figures: Gemini, Virgo, Libra and Aquarius (Libra is included on the assumption that the scales are held by a human hand). They are renowned for their social graces and intellectual skills. Also referred to as ‘manly’ or ‘courteous’ signs.


The four humours are Sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic and melancholic. Each is related to one of the four administering virtues of the body – blood, yellow bile, phlegm and black bile respectively – whose relative proportions were used in ancient and medieval physiology to determine a person’s natural disposition and general health. They are associated with the elements and seasonal influences – see individual terms: sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic and melancholic.



This is another term for 'debilitated', hindered, or damaged. A planet may be impedited if it has been afflicted by another or is in a general state of weakness due to its position or lack of dignity.

Imum caelum (IC)

The Latin term for ‘lowest heaven’; hence the abbreviation: IC. This is the degree of the ecliptic (zodiac) that reaches its lowest declination beneath the earth (due north in the northern hemisphere; due south in the southern hemisphere). In quadrant systems of house division it denotes the 4th house cusp. Not to be confused with the nadir.

Inconjunct aspect

Traditional term for the quincunx aspect (planets that are 150° apart). It conveys a sense of being disconnected – anciently planets separated by this degree were said to be unable to make a relationship because signs cannot behold (aspect) others that are five signs ahead or behind them.

Inferior/superior planets

The ‘superiors’ are the planets which were traditionally conceived to be placed above the sphere of the Sun: Mars, Jupiter and Saturn; the ‘inferiors’ those which fall beneath its sphere: Moon, Mercury and Venus. Modern definitions say inferiors are those whose orbits fall within that of the Earth, superiors those outside of it, which amounts to the same result but misses the point about the Sun being a central factor. The outer planets are included in modern definitions but fall outside the traditional notion of ‘superiority’ because of their limited signification. It is a principle of traditional astrology that the heavier, superior planets are less subject to the detrimental influences of the lighter, inferior planets, but the inferior planets are readily susceptible to the influences of the superiors.

Intercepted signs

The full enclosure of a sign within a house that has two other signs on cusps – for example,  if the 2nd house cusp is at 23° Aquarius, and the 3rd house cusp at 6° Aries, Pisces is intercepted within the 2nd house and any planets in Pisces may be described as being within an intercepted sign. Modern authors have suggested that planets in intercepted signs are weakened or in some way confined, though this view does not appear to be supported in traditional texts.


Joys (houses of)

The term ‘planetary joys’ usually refers to a traditional arrangement for the seven visible planets, which associates each one with the astrological house most suited to its natural expression. In this, the Sun (traditionally associated with prophecy and the exposure of truth) rejoices in the 9th house of counsel, divination and religion. The Moon (natural significator of messengers and travellers) rejoices in the 3rd house of communications and journeys. Benefic Jupiter rejoices in the 11th house of ‘good fortune’; benefic Venus rejoices in the 5th house of pleasure and procreation; malefic Saturn rejoices in the baleful 12th house, and malefic Mars rejoices in the dark and burdensome 6th. The neutral planet Mercury rejoices in the first house, which is associated with intellect and self-expression.

This PDF extract concerning the meanings of the 5th house (from Deborah Houlding's  The Houses: Temples of the Sky) gives a good example of how planetary joys have left a strong impression upon house meanings and associated rulerships.

Planetary joys



Sun or Moon, so called because they illuminate the sky. Also known as ‘the lights’.


Malefic planets

Also known as ‘infortunes’, these are planets that are judged capable of afflicting a positive outcome. Under normal circumstances Saturn and Mars are considered naturally malefic because of their intemperate natures, (Saturn is traditionally known as the ‘Greater Malefic’ and Mars as the ‘Lesser Malefic’). Many traditional texts also consider the south node to be representative of decrease and therefore term it a malefic. The outer planets – Uranus, Neptune and Pluto – also tend to be considered malefic in their influence.  Compare with ‘benefic planets’.


Another term for malefic planets.

Manilius - astrologer (early 1st century CE)

Roman poet whose Latin text, Astronomica, is the oldest detailed instructional work on astrological technique to survive (more or less) intact. A long, didactic poem in five books, it provides our earliest description of house meanings, as well as detailed accounts on how to calculate the ascendant, the meanings of the zodiac signs, constellations, aspects, chronocrators, decans, and various other technical matters. References within the text show that Manilius lived during the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius, so wrote his work between the years 14-27 CE. It is almost certain that Manilius versified an earlier well-known astrological text, and that his work survived because of its artistic format. An English translation was made by G.P. Goold in 1977 for the Loeb Classical Library.  


In many ways, the polarities of masculinity and femininity are similar to those of sect (diurnal/nocturnal); masculinity representing the active, solar principle, and femininity representing the passive (or receptive) lunar principle. But diurnal/nocturnal definitions seem to be more dependent upon the generation of heat (diurnal) or lack of it (nocturnal), whilst the masculine/feminine definitions are more dependent upon dryness (masculinity) or moisture (femininity). It may be that both divisions arose as alternate ways to describe the same essential polarisation that modern astrologers prefer to label ‘positive or negative’. The masculine/feminine definitions are also heavily dependent upon Pythagorean numerological principles, where all the masculine signs, (which are also the diurnal ones), are the odd numbered ones; and all the feminine signs (which are also the nocturnal ones) are even numbered. The masculine planets are the Sun and the superiors:Saturn, Jupiter, Mars; the feminine planets are the inferiors: Moon, Venus; with Mercury being common to both genders. The distinction may be partly based upon the way that the planets emerge from conjunction with the Sun – the superiors always emerge on the right hand side, the Moon always on the left, with Venus and Mercury able to emerge on either side. See ‘diurnal’, ‘occidental’, ‘dexter’ and ‘sect’.

Masha’allah - astrologer (c.740–820)

Both Masha’allah, and his younger contemporary Sahl (Zael) descended from a Jewish settlement at Marw, the capital of Khorasan, in Persia (a.k.a. Merv: equates to modern Afghanistan). They moved to Arabia to act as court astrologers and help establish centres of learning at the new capital city of Baghdad, following the conquest of Al Mansur in the 8th century. Their early background gave them distinct advantages in the translation of Greek Hellenistic texts since Marw was a predominantly Greek colony which lay on a trade route from Alexandria and acted as an important outpost for Hellenism. Therefore, Masha’allah and Sahl (who refers to Masha’allah frequently), became perfect transmitters of the Hellenised Arabian astrological texts which were later conveyed to medieval Europe.

As a young man Masha’allah helped elect the time of Baghdad’s formal foundation in 762, and he lived long enough to serve four succeeding caliphs, each of whom continued to develop the ‘House of Wisdom’ as a centre of translation and transmission of knowledge and science. Of all the philosophers of the era, he is described as being “the leading person for the science of judgements of the stars” (Al Nadim, Fihrist, p.650). He wrote numerous works on astrology in Arabic which were later translated into Latin to help establish the principles of Medieval astrology.


One of the four humours, related to the season of winter and the element of earth. It denotes a cold and dry temperament and the word ‘melancholic’ is often used to describe someone who is slow to respond to passions, profound in thought, with a serious (often pessimistic) outlook which inclines towards depression and introversion. In physiology the melancholic humour is traditionally reputed to be seated in black bile (faeces), which supports the principle of retention by the function of compression.


The imaginary line passing through the celestial poles and the observer’s zenith and nadir, dividing the sky into east and west; a celestial equivalent of terrestrial longitude (from the Latin meri, ‘middle’, and diem, ‘day’, because the Sun crosses the meridian at noon).

Midheaven (MC)

The degree of the ecliptic (zodiac) that culminates above the earth (this occurs due south in the northern hemisphere; due north in the southern hemisphere). In quadrant systems of house division it denotes the 10th house cusp. The Latin term was medium caelum, ‘middle heaven’; hence the abbreviation: MC. Not to be confused with the zenith.


Moitié is a French word derived from the Latin medietas, meaning "medium measure", "mean value" or "half". Its general use in traditional astrological texts is either to define a half-measure of any planet's orb (thereby identifying the distance that the orb extends on either side of the planet), or to denote the mean value obtained when two planetary orbs are added together and then halved to find the distance at which their rays unite.

To understand how the meaning of the word can alter according to context, it helps to realise that older authors usually expected a planet's influence to become noticeable on another planet whenever its conjunction or aspect with the other planet fell within the range of its own planetary orb. A standard set of planetary orbs had become widely reported by the 8th century (see table below), with most authors reporting that the Sun's orb extends over 30° of the zodiac, 15° either side of the centre of its body. This 15° limit was therefore often described as the moiety of the Sun's orb, being only half of its full radius; and any planet within 15° of a conjunction with the Sun is said to enter its beams (or go under its rays) regardless of the length of its own planetary orb. The same approach applied to the other planets.

Moiety diagram


In general terms: ‘earthly’, ‘elemental’, ‘relating to the earth’.

Mundane astrology

The branch of astrology dealing with influences affecting nations, collective experiences, weather, political leaders, historical trends and world events. Also known as political astrology.

Mutable / Common Signs

Also known as double-bodied / bi-corporeal: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces.



The point directly beneath an observer (opposite to the zenith) which is always perpendicular to the celestial horizon.


Nocturnal hemisphere

The hemisphere beneath the horizon, comprising the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th houses.

Nocturnal sect

See ‘sect’.

Nodes: north or south

The north and south nodes indicate the points in the zodiac where the plane of the Moon’s orbit intersects the plane of the ecliptic. These are sensitive areas where eclipses occur.



‘Occident’ is from the Latin term for the west, originally meaning ‘falling’, ‘setting’ or ‘perishing’ (as in sunset); ‘orient’ is from the Latin term for the east, originally from oriens meaning ‘rising’ or ‘emerging’, (as in sunrise).

Occidental hemisphere

The western/setting hemisphere, incorporating the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th houses.

Occidental quarter

The quadrant of the chart that falls beneath the western horizon, incorporating the 4th, 5th and 6th houses. Also known as the phlegmatic quarter


With regards to the houses or the angles, occidental means ‘western’ and oriental means ‘eastern’. Also, if a planet is described as ‘oriental in the figure’, it means that it is located near the ascendant which is the eastern angle, whilst ‘occidental in the figure’, means that it is located near the descendant which is the western angle.

When applied to planets or stars however, occidental means ‘setting into the Sun’ and oriental means ‘rising from the Sun’, relating to the original basis of the terms by which they are associated with the cycles of growth and decay. The usual definition is that an oriental planet is one which rises before the Sun; whereas an occidental planet is one that rises after it. (When the superior planets are thus defined as oriental they are beginning a new solar cycle, having recently emerged in their heliacal rising, and are considered dignified – this is not necessarily the case for Mercury, Venus, and is never the case for the Moon which emerges from the Sun on the left hand side, which is why these planets do not gain dignity by being oriental).


Aspects sOrbs tablehow an influence in the period leading up to exactness and a diminishing effect as they separate from perfection. The time-span in which their effect may be expected to manifest and linger is defined by the period that they are said to be 'in orb'.

Traditionally, orbs of influence were applied to planets, not the aspects themselves, with the Sun and Moon recognised as having a greater 'virtue' and orb of influence than the planets. For example, one popular list defines the Sun's orb as 15°; the Moon's orb as 12°, and the orb of Mercury, Venus and Mars as 7°. To know if two planets are 'in orb of application' their orbs are added together and halved - if the planets are separated by less than that distance they are said to be 'in application'. For example, Sun and Moon: Orbs are 15° + 12°; so 27° divided by 2 = 13°30'. Thus, the Sun and Moon are 'in orb' of any aspect when they are less than 13°30' from the point of exactness.


See ‘occident/orient’.


Oriental hemisphere

The eastern/rising hemisphere, incorporating the 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 12th, and 11th houses.

Oriental quarter

The quadrant of the chart that rises from the eastern horizon, incorporating the 1st, 12th and 11th houses. Also known as the sanguine quarter.



Originally the term partile referred to aspects that were calculated by degree (rather than by sign) because they acknowledged the 'parts' (degrees) of the sign. Aspects judged according to the relationship of the signs were termed platick, from a phrase which meant 'plate' or 'broad area'.

In later astrology the term partile generally referred to aspects which were exact or near perfection (e.g., a square from a planet in the 14th degree of Taurus to a planet in the 14th degree of Leo), whereas platick referred to those which were 'loose', or within the limits of their recognised orbs (e.g., a trine from a planet in the 7th degree of Pisces to a planet in the 10th degree of Scorpio).


The word 'Peregrine' comes from a Latin term meaning 'alien' or 'foreigner' (pereger = beyond the borders, ager = land, i.e., 'beyond one's own land'). A planet is defined as peregrine when it has no level of rulership over its position. That is, it is not placed in the sign(s) that it rules, nor those where it is exalted, nor does it rule the triplicity, or the terms or face where it is located.

NB: some recent authors wrongly suggest that a planet cannot be peregrine if it is in a sign of debility.  This is incorrect - for more on this see 'The Definition of Peregrine' by Deborah Houlding


From the Latin perfectio ‘to complete’. Mainly used in horary astrology, a perfection occurs when the significators for the person asking (querent) and the thing being asked about (quesited) come together by conjunction or major aspect. This shows the thing enquired about as being able to be brought to pass.


One of the four humours, related to the season of autumn and the element of water. It denotes a cold and moist temperament and the word ‘phlegmatic’ is often used to describe someone who is emotionally sensitive, lacking in active motivation, therefore sluggish in responses and often having a weak constitution. In physiology the phlegmatic humour is traditionally reputed to be seated in phlegm, which creates slipperiness to support the principle of ejection and elimination of processed waste.

Planetary hours

Equal divisions of the periods between sunrise and sunset which results in hours that are usually more or less than 60 minutes. Each is associated with a planet which acts as a general ruler for the concerns of that time.

Primary motion

Prime meridian

The imaginary line passing through the celestial poles and the equinoxes (where the ecliptic and equator intersect); corresponding to the line of longitude that passes through Greenwich, England, which defines the zero point for terrestrial and celestial longitude.

Prime vertical

The great circle that passes through the east and west points of the horizon, and the zenith and nadir (points directly overhead and below).

Printable glossary


Where two planets are applying to aspect but before the aspect perfects another planet overtakes the first and perfects an aspect with the second.

Prohibition example

This diagram shows an example of prohibition by conjunction offered by Bonatti
(Dykes, p.221). The Sun seeks to unite with Jupiter, but Mars stands between them,
so Mars has the immediate influence, preventing the Sun from securing Jupiter’s full attention.

Proportional houses

This refers to a style of chart wheel, sometimes known as an ‘unequal wheel’. It places the planets and houses against a 360° wheel, allowing the span of each house to be unequal (and therefore having the disadvantage of bunching up collections of planets) but allows aspects to be read with ease. The alternative makes each house the same size and allows an easy identification of a planet’s house position, but aspects between the planets are less easy to identify as zodiacal measurement is distorted.

Ptolemy - astrologer (c. 100-170 CE)

Immensely influential Roman astronomer, astrologer, geographer and scientist who lived in the vicinity of Alexandria, Egypt. He has been called “the most important single figure in the history of astrology, and one of the most important in the history of astronomy” (Robbins, Intro to the English translation; Loeb, 1940). His astronomical textbook, known as Almagest (from the Arabic phrase Al Majesti, ‘The Greatest’) was revered as the ultimate source of reference for astronomers until the 16th century. Ptolemy’s astrological textbook, Tetrabiblos (Gk: ‘Four Books’) also became the standard bearer for subsequent generations and was copied, commented on, paraphrased, and translated into many languages. The Tetrabiblos was largely responsible for laying down the basic precepts of astrology during the Arabic and Medieval periods and was a necessary textbook in some of the finest universities of the Renaissance and early modern Europe.


Quadrant systems

Methods of house division that associate the ascendant with the cusp of the 1st house, the MC with the cusp of the 10th house, the descendant with the cusp of the 7th house and the IC with the cusp of the 4th house, and then seek an equal division (of time or space) within those quadrants. The equal house system is not a quadrant system, and so the MC does not necessarily denote the cusp of the 10th house.


The division of the celestial sphere by the horizon and meridian to give four quarters between each of the four angles.


The person asking the question in a horary chart.


The thing asked about in a horary chart.


Radical chart

The source chart from which derived houses or progressions are obtained. In charts that use ‘turned houses’ (as in horary), references to the ‘radical house’ relate to the normal flow of houses, which ties the 1st house to the ascendant. So the radical 10th house is the normal 10th house of the horary, which falls on the midheaven, although this might be used as the ‘turned 4th house’ for a partner. The term derives from the Latin radix, meaning ‘root’. In traditional texts dealing with natal astrology, the birth chart is also frequently referred to as the ‘radix chart’.


This means to accept the influence of another planet by aspect or reception.


When a planet aspects its dispositor by sign, exaltation, or two of the minor dignities, the ruler of the dignity gives that planet a reception. For example, if Venus in Aries aspects Mars, Mars ‘receives’ Venus into his sign of rulership and therefore gives her a reception. To be received, or to be given a reception, allows strength to pass from the ruler to the receiving planet: Venus can take advantage of what Mars has to offer and need be less fearful of his destructive potential, as he will  safeguard her interests whilst she is under his protection. Mutual reception is where two planets simultaneously receive each other, e.g.: Venus in Leo with the Sun in Taurus (both receive each other by sign); or Moon in Pisces and Jupiter in Taurus (Moon receives Jupiter by exaltation, Jupiter receives Moon by sign). This suggests mutual satisfaction for both parties.


A type of prohibition - where a planet applies to the aspect of another, but turns retrograde and starts to separate before the aspect perfects.

Refranation example

In this example, refranation would occur if Venus turned retrograde at 11 Aries,
and failed to make its meeting with Mars.


From the Latin "to step backwards", this term is applied to the apparent backward motion of the planets through the zodiac as they decrease in longitude as viewed from the earth.


Sahl - astrologer (a.k.a. Zael: c.785-845)

Jewish astrologer and mathematician who, like Masha’allah, moved from Persia to work as a court astrologer at Baghdad. He was the first to translate Ptolemy’s Almagest into Arabic and is famous for composing a set of five treatises, which offer a comprehensive study of astrology under the headings: I: Introduction, II: Fifty Judgements, III: On Questions, IV: On Elections, V: On Time. The treatise On Questions was especially important in the transmission of horary technique. Sahl was heavily influenced by Dorotheus and Masha’allah, and in turn his work was influential upon Guido Bonatti and William Lilly.  Ben Dykes published English translations of several texts by Masha’allah and Sahl in his Works of Sahl & Masha’allah (Cazimi Press, 2008). 


One of the four humours, related to the season of spring and the element of air. It denotes a warm and moist temperament and the word ‘sanguine’ is often used to describe someone who is easy-going, well balanced, optimistic and cheerful; being in no way extreme in their reactions. In physiology the sanguine humour is traditionally reputed to be seated in the blood, which disseminates nourishment through the veins to support the principle of digestion.

Schoener, Johannes - astrologer (1477 - 1547)

German astrologer, cartographer and priest who became Professor of Mathematics at Nuremberg in 1526. He owned his own printing company and helped circulate many valuable texts of other astrologers, besides his own. In particular he is known for promoting the work of Regiomontanus, and for encouraging Copernicus to prepare his manuscript for publication. His Opusculum Astrologicum (a collection of astrological works) first published in 1539, was translated into English by Robert Hand in 1994. Hand has also translated the first of his Three Books on the Judgement of Nativities, which Schoener published in 1545, two years before his death. 

Schoener's point-scoring table (translated extract from hisOpusculum Astrologicum) :

Johnnes Schoener


Division of the planets, signs and chart areas into the polarities of diurnal or nocturnal. The word itself represents division (as in section), but also implies unification within that division through affiliation and common interest (as in a religious sect). Of the signs, those which are masculine are also diurnal:Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, Aquarius; those which are feminine are also nocturnal: Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, Pisces. Of the traditional planets, those which are diurnal are: Saturn, Jupiter, Sun; those which are nocturnal are: Mars, Venus, Moon; Mercury is unique in having no affiliation to either sect but is usually considered diurnal as a morning star and nocturnal as an evening star (the scheme excludes the outer planets). The alignment of a planet with its proper sect is considered favourable; that is, diurnal planets are more beneficial in diurnal charts and placed in diurnal signs and areas (when they are described as ‘in sect’). See ‘diurnal/nocturnal’ and ‘hayz’.


In a general sense the term 'separating' is applied to any planet moving away from the conjunction or aspect of another. In strict terminology, a planet is said to be 'separating' from another when the planets are within orb of aspect and moving away from perfection (exactness).

Planetary motion must be considered, for if a planet is retrograde an aspect that appears to be separating from exactness may in fact be applying, and if a planet is about to turn retrograde an aspect that is currently in a state of separation may once again perfect.


The things that a planet, sign or house can signify.


A planet that signifies a particular person, object, event or principle, by its rulership of the sign on the cusp of the house that governs that matter. For example, partners are represented by the 7th house so if the 7th house cusp falls in Leo, the Sun, as the ruler of Leo, signifies the partner and is termed his or her significator.


See ‘dexter/sinister’.

Slow in course

When a planet's speed is less than its average; it therefore moves less through the zodiac than it normally would. This is considered a debility.

See 'Swift in course'.

Table showing the daily movement of the planets.

* All planets that can station and turn retrograde are capable of attaining zero velocity.


From the Latin sol 'sun' + stitium 'standing still' the early term solstitium became  shortened to solstice in the 14th century. 

The term refers to the two points in the zodiac (0° Cancer; 0° Capricorn) where the Sun's latitude is at its greatest distance north or south of the equator. The Sun's movement to these extreme points marks the peak of the seasons (mid-summer or mid-winter), so the Sun appears to stop rising or falling in latitude, and temporarily halts (stands still) as it reverses its relationship with the equator. 

The Sun's placement at 0° Cancer marks the northern hemisphere summer solstice, which occurs around 21 June; it's placement at  0° Capricorn marks the northern hemisphere winter solstice, which occurs around 21 December (the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere). 

Contrast with the equinoxes: the two moments in the year when the sun's path falls upon the equator.


Literally “following”; the succedent houses are those which follow the angles and which, by diurnal revolution, will succeed to their positions: the 2nd, 5th, 8th and 11th houses. Considered to be positions of intermediate strength.

Superior planets

See ‘inferior/superior’ planets.

Swift in course

When a planet's speed is more than its average; it therefore moves more through the zodiac than it normally would. This is usually considered a strength.

See ‘Slow in course’.

Table showing the daily movement of the planets.
* All planets that can station and turn retrograde are capable of attaining zero velocity

Synodic cycle

A synodic cycle measures successive returns of a planet to its conjunction with the Sun, as seen from Earth. From the Greek sýnodos'meeting'.

Example of the synodic cycle of Venus.

The diagram above shows the synodic cycle of Venus, as seen from Earth. The trail that has been picked out shows the geometrical relationship that Venus makes with the Earth, beginning with the superior conjunction of 11th January 2010 (at 22 Capricorn) and ending with the completion of the cycle on 16th August 2011, (the next superior conjunction at 23 Leo). As one cycle leads to another, Venus will trace out an almost perfect pentagram over five cycles, which will take eight years to complete.



Otherwise known as ‘limits’ or ‘bounds’, terms are divisions within each sign that are ruled by the planets. Various lists existed in antiquity, most excluded the lights from participating in the rulership; that proposed by Ptolemy remains in popular use. When a planet is in its own terms it is dignified. Term rulers modify the effects of the planets within their territory and also offer descriptive influence – for example the term of the ascendant ruler is considered when judging physical descriptions.

Translation of light/transference of virtue

Occurs when an inferior planet, whilst still within orb of its last separating aspect, is already within orb of its next aspect. It is then able to convey the influence of the former to the latter and create a connection between them. The term most often applies to the Moon because of its swift movement between the other planets, and it is often used in practical interpretation to suggest the relaying of a message or the influence of a ‘go-between’.


The arrangement of signs into four groups that are united by the same qualities and the shape of the triangle; equivalent to the elements: fire, earth, air and water. Signs of the same triplicity are harmonious to each other. Early sources gave each triplicity three planetary rulers: one that took priority by day, another that governed by night, and a third that was common to both sects– these were also used to judge the beginning, middle and end of things. Over time the third ruler became dropped from common employment and most texts refer to them having one planetary ruler by day and another by night

Turning the chart

This is a technique largely employed in horary and known to have been used by Ptolemy. In this, closer examination of any area of the chart is undertaken by redefining all the houses from a specific house cusp. For example, if someone asks about the affairs of a brother, the 3rd house of their chart is used as the 1st house for the brother, so that the radical (i.e., original) 4th house is used as his 2nd house, the radical 5th is used as his 3rd, and so on. In this case, the 5th house becomes referred to as the ‘turned’ or ‘derived’ 3rd house of the brother.


Under the Earth

Planets beneath the horizon, i.e., placed in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th house, although in the 1st house planets are less affected by this condition since by diurnal rotation they are rising towards the ascendant. When a planet is under the earth it is not visible in the sky; thus this condition describes missing objects that cannot be found, motives that cannot be discovered, facts that cannot be brought to light, and a sense of being buried (as in missing treasure).

Under the Sun’s beams

See ‘combust’.


Via combusta

Generally defined as between 15°Libraand 15°Scorpio (although differing sources place it at various points from the end of Libra to the beginning of Scorpio). The term translates as “fiery road” or “combust way” and it is considered to be a hostile and debilitating area, particularly detrimental to the Moon. The basis of the unfortunate reputation is possibly an early association with malefic stars, such as the claws of the Scorpion; the fact that the Sun is in detriment in Libra (losing its strength at the autumn equinox); the Moon is in fall in Scorpio; and the two malefics are powerful (Saturn dignified in Libra by exaltation; Mars dignified by sign in Scorpio).

Al Biruni's 11th century definition reads as follows:

The Combust Way

The Combust Way is the last part of Libra and the first of Scorpio. These two signs are not congenial to the sun and the moon on account of the obscurity and ill-luck connected with them, and because each of them is the fall of one of the luminaries. They also contain the two malefics, the one by exaltation (Libra, Saturn) the other by house (Scorpius, Mars). The peculiarity which has given the name muhtariq [burning] is that the exaltation of Saturn is near, the fall of the Sun being on the one hand and that of the Moon on the other, while the adjacent parts of both signs are occupied by terms of Mars.

Book of Elements ... translated by R. RamsayWright, 1934, v.514, p317. 


Influence, or effective force or power.


Literally ‘empty’ of influence. The term is especially applied to the Moon when it is out orb of any aspect, and suggests a lack of impetus to move events in any direction. Void of course is when a planet remains out of orb of any aspect for the duration of its movement through its sign.


William Lilly- astrologer (1602 - 1681)

William Lilly was a prominent 17th-century English astrologer, and author of Christian Astrology (1647), the first widely circulated astrological textbook available in the English language and  the most comprehensive and important historical textbook on horary. At the height of his career, Lilly is reputed to have judged over two thousand charts a year, and his annual almanac sold over 30,000 copies annually. Lilly's astrology peaked during the period of the English Civil War, during which he advised both King and Parliament. He was also credited with predicting the Great Fire of London (1666) fifteen years before the event. 

Things were not always peaceful for Lilly, and he was thrice tried in a court of law for his astrological prognostications. In later life, he retired with a reasonable fortune to the countryside of Hersham, Surrey, where he practiced medicine for local townsfolk by donation only. His autobiography, published shortly before his death, relays Lilly's close associations with many other leading astrologers of his time – most notably, Elias Ashmole, his patron and friend; Henry Coley, his adopted son; and, John Gadbury, his student turned adversary. 



The point directly overhead of an observer which is always perpendicular to the celestial horizon.


A belt of space that extends 8 or 9° either side of the ecliptic in which the  Sun, Moon and visible planets remain. (Derives from a Greek term meaning ‘circle of figures’). See ecliptic.

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