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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.



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.  

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