Want to know what astrological terms really mean? Use this glossary to find out.
Written by Sarah Bartlett
The planets appear to move through the sky against the backdrop of the zodiac. And similarly, they seem to move around your horoscope, which is a snapshot or blueprint or map of the zodiac at the time you were born. As they move, they sometimes appear to slow down or accelerate and sometimes seem to stop totally. Planets like Mercury and Mars often seem to 'surge' forward into the next sign and slower ones, like Saturn, almost lumber. All planets except the sun and the moon can appear to move backwards. This is called retrograde motion. The effects are usually to slow down events and give you time to reflect on issues.
The PLANETS ARE:
The Sun - The Sun takes approximately one month to move through each sign of the zodiac. It reflects your personal destiny, goals, aims and vocation.
The Moon - Taking only a few days to move through one sign of the zodiac, the moon's cycle reflects your emotional reactions, needs and feelings. In your birthchart it describes what gives you a sense of belonging and safety.
Mercury - Fast moving but erratic, Mercury reflects your communication and the way you interact with others. It is also the planet of contradiction and paradox.
Venus - Venus describes what gives you pleasure, both in sexual relationships and in the world generally; Venus also reflects the kind of
people you are attracted to and who is attracted to you.
Mars - describes how you go after something you want. Your assertiveness, anger, will and ego. It reveals how you confront and compete in the world at large.
Jupiter - Often called the plaet of 'luck', Jupiter reflects both good and bad luck. Jupiter inflates situations, but is a catalyst for romance and excitement in your life. Jupiter takes about a year to move through one sig of the zodiac.
Saturn - reflects your boundaries and defence mechanisms. It takes approximately two years to move through one sign of the zodiac, so it's transiting influence is to structure and bring you down to earth in specific areas of your life depending on it's position in your chart.
Uranus - Unpredictable and radical, Uranus reflects sudden events, surprise encounters, electrifying chemistry between strangers. A slow moving planet, it takes approximately seven years to move through one sign of the zodiac, so it has a 'collective' and generational influence rather than a personal one.
Neptune - Again, an 'outer' planet which has a glamourising and confusing influence in the collective. Neptune casts illusions and romance over events and people and can confuse you about your true feelings.
Pluto - Transformative Pluto spends an erratic number of years in each sign, and again has a long-term generational influence. In your personal chart it can reflect power issues in intimate relationships, for good and bad.
The planet which rules your chart is very important because it adds spice and flavour to your 'solar' journey. Every sign of the zodiac has a 'ruler' or a planet which becomes the henchman to your sun. The ruler of your chart is determined by which zodiac sign is rising (the ascendant) at the moment of birth.
Aries is ruled by MARS
Taurus is ruled by VENUS
Gemini is ruled by MERCURY
Cancer is ruled by the MOON
Leo is ruled by the SUN
Virgo is ruled by MERCURY
Libra is ruled be VENUS
Scorpio is ruled by PLUTO
Sagittarius is ruled by JUPITER
Capricorn is ruled by SATURN
Aquarius is ruled by URANUS
Pisces is ruled by NEPTUNE
Aspects occur when there is a resonant dynamic played out between two planets in the sky - in other words in your horoscope. It appears as if they form an angle and the most important ones are called trines (120 degrees apart), conjunctions (when they appear to be in the same degree), squares (90 degrees apart), oppositions (180 degrees apart) and sextiles (60 degrees apart). Most astrologers allow an orb of up to 8 - 10 degrees for these aspects. Aspects to your sun and moon particularly add a very powerful combination of the energy and characteristics of the planets involved in the aspect.
There are twelves areas of the chart called houses, as there are twelve signs, but they don't necessarily correspond to each other. The chart is divided up into twelve unequal segments (although there is a House system called the Equal House system, just to confuse matters) to make up the complete horoscope of 360 degrees. As the planets move through the houses they emphasize different areas of your life which will be in focus or prominent at the time of the planetary transits.
THE PHASES OF THE MOON
The Moon's cycle lasts approximately 30 days as it appears to move round the zodiac. We usually notice the Full Moon because this is when the Sun is directly opposite the Moon and casts it's light onto the Moon's surface. The Moon only stays in one sign for about two or three days and transits your Sun and all the planets in your chart on a regular basis. The phases of the moon are: the New Moon, the First Quarter Moon, the Full Moon and the Last Quarter Moon. For example, a New Moon on June 29th in Cancer will be followed by a First Quarter moon a week later, then a full moon about one week later, a Last Quarter Moon a week after that, and another New Moon in Leo around the 29th July. The New Moon is a good time to start out on a new quest, and put the past behind you. The First Quarter Moon is about getting ahead, seducing, persuading. The Full Moon is a critical turning point when it's time to make decisions and face your true feelings or for completing what you set out to do under the New Moon. The Last Quarter Moon is for reflection, awareness of one's mistakes and for being realistic about your quest.
These happen a few times every year and used to be considered bad omens by the ancients. Actually, they just bring into focus personal issues you need to confront or things which need attention or closure. A Lunar Eclipse is when the Earth gets in the way of the sun's light shining directly on the moon (usually a full moon). There appears to be a dark shadow moving across the Moon. The easiest way to remember what a Lunar Eclipse means is to say 'the present blots out the past' . (The moon is often associated with the past in astrology as the Earth is with the present). For example whatever issues you need to clarify in your current situation think about them and don't dwell on the past. A Solar Eclipse is when the moon gets in the way of the sun, so we can't see all of the sun, and in some places on earth we are plunged into darkness during the day. The easiest way to interpret a solar eclipse is to say 'the past blots out the future.' (The sun is associated with the future.) For example, there are things which you have denied, repressed or avoided in the past which now
need attention or bringing to light before you get on with your goals.
Each zodiac sign belongs to one of the four elements. It's useful to know them because signs that are of the same element usually have a great natural affinity for each other.
The element of Fire: Aries, Leo Sagittarius. The Fire signs are highly motivated, forward thinking visionaries.
The element of Earth: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn. The Earth signs are practical, realistic and build solid relationships.
The element of Air: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius. The Air signs are intellectual, rational and idealistic.
The element of Water" Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces. The Water signs are deeply connected to their feelings, instincts and intuition.