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Quick reference - astrology terms

Updated: Jan 27, 2020

A glossary for astrological terms mentioned in InnerSynastry articles.

Home - The sign in which the planet has a natural affinity.

Rulers/Rulership - Planets that "govern" a given sign, meaning astrologers have determined these planets are closely associated with a certain sign. Sometimes there are two planets for each sign, and we call them "Co-rulers."

Aspect - The degree of separation of two or more planets in the zodiac circle, revealing that the planets have a significant relationship. Typically referring to conjunctions, oppositions, squares or trines (see definitions below), although astrologers also study smaller degree aspects that have less obvious impacts.

Square - 90 degrees apart in the zodiac circle.

Opposition - 180 degrees apart in the zodiac circle.

Trine - 120 degrees apart in the zodiac circle.

Sextile - 60 degrees apart in the zodiac circle.

Cusp - The line that separates a pair of consecutive signs in the zodiac. People whose natal chart planets are "on the cusp" are balancing two parts of themselves. While that experience is related to the Complete Unified Self Path (CUSP) in Unity Astrology, people on CUSP don't necessarily have planets on cusps, but they often do.

Natal Chart or Birth Chart - Essentially a map of where the planets were at the day/time of someone's birth. It offers clues to the person's life lessons and personality. People are essentially an imprint of the energy of the day they were born. (InnerSynastry currently uses the Tropical system of coordinates to determine natal planet placements, so that birth charts do not correspond with the visible zodiac. Instead this system is based on seasons and their relationship to cycles of the Sun.)

Example of a birth chart for someone born on August 21, 2017, a significant day in history. The symbols on the crusts of the pie pieces represent each of the signs; the black symbols inside the pie pieces represent the planets; and the numbers at the center of the pie represent the houses. Red lines highlight squares and oppositions. Blue lines show the trines and sextiles. At the top of the pie, the Sun and Moon symbols (with 28 below them) show how the eclipse happened "on the cusp" of Leo (red symbol) and Virgo (green symbol). Image courtesy of the amazing resource

My 'such-and-such' planet - 'My' refers to the placement of the given planet at the time of birth. The degree of the zodiac where the planet resides is significant for that person.

Conjunct - Next to. Refers to planets that are next to each other in the natal chart, OR to planets that are currently next to each other in the sky.

Transit - The location of a planet in the zodiac at a given time. Because planets are constantly moving, their zodiac degree position is constantly changing, although planets can stay in a sign anywhere from two days to 21 years depending on how close it is to the Earth and the center of the solar system.

Progression - A calculation that helps astrologers determine the general mood of a given time period in the client's life. By looking at the positions of the planets each day after birth, astrologers can uncover information about the corresponding year after birth.

House - The zodiac is not only divided up by 12 signs, but also 12 “houses” based on the time of birth. Houses represent similar energies as the signs/planets in which each one of them are associated. (For instance, the first house, Aries and Mars are typically interlinked). Not all astrologers use the same house systems (based on the rotational movement of the Earth) to divide the pie of the zodiac, but typically all systems have some merit despite differing opinions. Favorites are the Placidus and Whole Sign systems.

Personal Planet - Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars. Conventional astrology says personal planets lend the most insight into personalities of individuals as compared to outer planets—Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus and Pluto (although some astrologers just refer to the last three planets as "outer" due to their invisibility to the naked eye). Outer planets are often linked with traits that apply to an entire generation, but can show up in individual personalities if they are aspecting personal planets. Unity Astrology explores the possibility that outer planets can have just as much of an effect on personality as personal ones regardless of aspects. The further the planet is from the sun, the more power it is said to have, although Unity Astrology considers the possibility that personal planets can be just as powerful as outer ones given unique circumstances.

Midheaven - Found at the very top of the natal chart, it's the point in the zodiac that most relates to the person's visible achievements and contributions to society. It's typically associated with career, but can be any type of social standing, reputation or offering to community regardless of income. It's opposite to the Nadir or Imum Coeli (IC), the point most related to home and internal self.

Nodes - When astrologers refer to "North Node" and "South Node," they are typically referring to the lunar nodes, which are the two points where the moon crosses the Sun's path, related to the yearly eclipses. Astrologers (particularly those who follow the Evolutionary Astrology method) say that in the beginning stages of life, people typically have an abundance of energy associated with the zodiac sign where the South Node is located. As they mature, they can balance that energy by learning about the sign of the North Node, which is opposite to the South's sign. Yet they are always in a balancing act between these two signs because the ultimate goal is often to return to expressing the South Node energy, just in a refined manner. People born within a year and a half of each other typically have the same North and South Nodes, but they've been given a different set of cards (as reflected by placements of other natal planets) to grapple with the nodal lesson.

Synastry - A chart astrologers create to explain the dynamics between two people with the aim of helping them understand each other.

Modality - Astrologers place zodiac signs into three groups based on where the signs are in nature's four seasons. Cardinal (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) = the beginning of a season and the power of initiation; Fixed (Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius, Taurus) = the middle of the season and the capacity to sustain; Mutable (Sagittarius, Pisces, Gemini, Virgo) = the end of the season and ability to change. Getting the energies of four signs, and hence all four elements (fire, water, air and earth) to work together in harmony is a key part of Unity Astrology.

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