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Glossary of terms

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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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