A Guide to Common Astrological Terms

A graphic of a sign post, pointing in two opposite directions, inside a white circle.

Understanding the Language of the Stars

Just like any other field of study, astrology has its own vocabulary. The sheer abundance of terms out there makes it easy for people to become lost or overwhelmed, especially if they’re new to astrology. This primer serves as a guide to some of the most common words that you’ll encounter when reading about the stars, so that whether you’re looking through a natal chart or picking up an astrology book, you’ll have a solid foundation to build upon.

A Glossary of Astrology Terms

Sun Sign: This is the most recognizable, commonly mentioned sign placement. Basically, this is the sign that the sun was in at the time of your birth. It defines your emotional self and reflects who you are at your core. However, it is only the starting point for understanding one’s chart, as the rest of your placements further affect and refine your identity.

Moon Sign: This is where the moon was located when you were born. It represents a person’s feelings and desires, as well as their subconscious. It is connected to everything that goes on “below the surface” and may not be readily apparent, even to the person in question. It also describes what makes a person feel loved and how they behave behind closed doors.

Rising Sign: Sometimes called “the ascendant sign,” this is the zodiac sign that was ascending on the eastern horizon at the time of your birth. It sets up your birth chart. Every chart is divided into 12 sections, and the rising sign is where the first section of your natal chart begins. This provides insight into what people see when they first meet you.

Modality: One of three categories that all the zodiac signs are divided into. These give insight into how the different signs behave and operate. The modalities are cardinal, fixed, and mutable, each encompassing four signs.

Cardinal Sign/Cardinal: One of the modalities in astrology. The cardinal signs are initiators. They tend to set things into motion and trigger change. Proactive, tough, and assertive are three great words to describe the signs that fall into the cardinal category. The cardinal signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn.

Fixed Sign/Fixed: One of the modalities in astrology. Fixed signs don’t care for change. They would rather follow a rigid routine and enjoy a stable lifestyle. They draw strength from consistency and loyalty. Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius are the fixed signs of the zodiac.

Mutable Sign/Mutable: One of the modalities in astrology. These are the go-with-the-flow signs of the zodiac! Flexible, adaptable, unpredictable, and sometimes superficial, the mutable signs revel in exploration and change. They dislike following orders, especially if they don’t understand the underlying logic. The mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces.

Transit: A phenomenon in which a celestial body passes directly between a larger astrological body and the observer. As viewed from a particular vantage point, the transiting object appears to move across the face of the larger body, covering a small portion of it.

Retrograde: When a planet is retrograde, it appears to be spinning backward — at least from the perspective of those on Earth. This commonly dreaded phenomenon has a reputation for causing things to go a bit off-kilter, but retrogrades aren’t always bad. Often, they can shake things up enough to help you grow and stay true to your path.

Aspects: Aspects are the geometric relationships between planets, as measured around the wheel of the zodiac. There are several different types, which can be found by identifying the angular distances between the degree of one planet and that of another.

Conjunct/Conjunction: When two planets are in the same area of the sky, usually in the same sign of an astrology chart (roughly 0 degrees apart), they are said to be conjunct. Conjunctions allow two separate points in the solar system to unite and blend their energies together. This is usually a positive influence in a birth chart or transit report, unless one planet is trying to dominate the other’s energy.

Sextile: A sextile occurs when two celestial bodies are 60 degrees apart from each other. Generally considered a positive aspect, sextiles are associated with cooperation and openness.

Square: A square takes place when two celestial bodies are at a 90-degree angle from each other. This aspect is known for creating tension between the involved planets as they push against one another.

Trine: Trine is a term that normally means “threefold” or “triple.” In astrology, however, it refers to a favorable aspect in which two celestial bodies are positioned so that they create a 120-degree angle with each other. When this happens, the planets in question will also be in the same element. This is generally considered a harmonious union that facilitates a natural flow of energy.

Opposition: An opposition is when two planets are literally 180 degrees apart, positioned exactly opposite from each other. This indicates that there is a tug-of-war going on between the energies of those celestial bodies. Conflict may arise unless a balance is found.

The Importance of Astrology Terminology

If you don’t already know where the stars were at the time of your birth, you can use a free natal chart tool to learn your different astrological placements. Once you know what your birth chart looks like, speaking with a professional Astrology Psychic can help you understand the ways in which these phenomena (and others) can affect you.

Astrology plays an important role in your day-to-day life. The planets are responsible for your moods, experiences and more, which is why you should get a Psychic Astrology Reading. Our Astrology Psychics can calculate your natal chart and tell you about the important dates in your life (past, present, and future) that will massively impact you. Learn more about our psychics from real testimonials and read through our Astrology & Numerology Blog. Want to read more about your personal birth chart first? Get a free birth chart report today! Find an Astrology Psychic or learn more about Astrology Readings.

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