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Glossary of terms

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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.

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