A Glossary of Astrological Terms for the letter "S"
Use this glossary to look up the meanings of words you come across on this website, or in your astrological reading. Just select the first letter of the word you need and click on it in the table below to go straight to that sector.
System of interpreting each of the 360 zodiacal degrees, devised by Marc Edmund Jones and Elsie Wheeler in the 1920's, then modified by Dane Rudhyar.
Process of constructing symbolic, geometric structures via numerical relationships, whether in art, buildings, landscaping or other formal systems. The aim is to create and channel flows of beneficial energy from the subtle world into our personal and social energetic fields, or auras. These fields govern and dynamise our lives, bodies, emotions, minds, and social interaction.
In Vedic Astrology, the transit of Saturn (Shani) over one's natal Moon. This technically begins 45° before the actual conjunction and releases 45° afterwards. The process takes approximately 7½ years and can present a particularly stressful period.
The ninth sign of the zodiac. Mutable and fiery. Ruled by Jupiter. Emblem: The Archer, or Centaur. More about Sagittarius.
Gigantic radio source surrounding the Galactic Centre of our Milky Way Galaxy. See Galactic Centre.
One of the Cross-quarter days, now generally celebrated as Halloween. More about Samhain.
Corresponding to the Air Element, according to Culpeper it "nourishes the judgement". The Sanguine Humour is able to encompass the other three humours, so when the body is is a state of health, there is no way of distinguishing between them (as they are all in a balanced state within the bloodstream). Ruled by Jupiter, its seat is the Liver and it works through the Blood. See Humours. More about the Sanguine Humour.
The cycle of eclipses, discovered by the ancient Chaldeans, lasting a little over 18 years, when Lunar Eclipses seem to repeat themselves. The cycle is also applicable to Solar Eclipses. A full Saros Series lasts some 13 centuries, due to the movement of the lunar nodes.
An attendant body revolving around a larger one, its primary. The Moon is a satellite of the Earth, but for historical reasons is called in astrology a planet (wanderer), as is the Sun. Astronomically, all planets and other celestial bodies in our solar system are satellites of the Sun.
A group of three or more planets occupying a particular area of a chart having a significant effect comparable with the conjunction of all the planets concerned, even though outer members of the group would be normally considered out of orb with each other. Also called a stellium, or "satellium" (by the classically challenged...).
The planet symbolising matters to do with karma, responsibility, structure, restriction, chronic conditions, old age and so on. Ruler of Capricorn and Aquarius. Exalted in Libra; rejoices in Aquarius. Traditionally known as the greater malefic, or infortune. More about Saturn.
The return of Saturn by transit to the conjunction with natal Saturn in a horoscope. A twenty-nine year cycle, representing a period (often over many months) when we feel frustrated, angry, sad, confused, tired and insecure, it is a time when we become aware that we must accept responsibility for our actions. The first Saturn Return begins at approx. 29 years of age, the second at 58, the third at 87. More about the Saturn Return.
The eighth sign of the zodiac. Scorpio, the Scorpion, is a Fixed Water sign. It is traditionally ruled by Mars, but many modern astrologers have designated Pluto (discovered in 1930) as its co-ruler, or even, controversially, as its sole ruler. More about Scorpio.
Last planet to rise before the Sun. See Planet of Oriental Appearance.
The progressed horoscope, based on the "day for a year" system of progressing the nativity first employed by the ancient Arabian astrologers. So called to distinguish the system from the complex method of Primary Directions. Also known as Secondary Directions. The number of days in the ephemeris are counted from the birthday as the number of years the native has been on this mortal coil, then the horoscope is calculated accordingly. This is the most widely used system of progressing the horoscope, but has some disadvantages, hence the development of both solar arc progression and of tertiary progression (q.v.).
From Hellenistic Greek: hairesis, meaning "team", "side", or "following". Traditional weighting of emphasis based on whether a birth is diurnal (sect of Helios, the Sun) or nocturnal (sect of Selene, or Moon). If the Sun is above the horizon, sect is diurnal; if below the horizon, sect is nocturnal. Sun, Jupiter and Saturn are of the diurnal sect and Moon, Venus and Mars are of the nocturnal sect. Mercury's sect is convertible, depending on weighting of orientality, gender etc (Ptolemy simply says that Mercury is diurnal when it is a morning star and nocturnal when an evening star). Contrary to what may seem to be common sense, Saturn (cold) is deemed diurnal, because he is warmed and moderated by the heat of the day, while Mars (dry) is nocturnal, being moistened and smoothed by the feminine power of night. A planet in sect was considered significantly more potent than when out of sect. Sect was given very weighty consideration by the ancients, though is not generally considered by most modern astrologers.
A newly discovered trans-neptunian planet, named after the Inuit goddess of the sea. Some 13 billion kilometres from Earth and smaller than Pluto, this "planet" has as yet no accepted astrological meaning. Discovered in 2003, it is estimated to take 10,500 years to orbit the Sun.
Greek goddess of the Moon.
A minor benefic aspect of 18 degrees. Also called vigintile.
Kepler's decile, a minor benefic aspect of 36 degrees.
A minor benefic aspect of 30 degrees, derived from Kepler. Some classical astrologers do not count this as an aspect, due to the phenomenon known as Aversion.
A minor adverse aspect of 45 degrees, derived from Kepler. Also known as octile.
Moving away from the partile (exact aspect). As the planet separates, the aspect becomes weaker. In Horary Astrology, it indicates events in the recent past, or that the matter under inquiry will not eventuate.
Sephiroth (sing. Sephira)
10 stages or brilliant points on the Tree of Life which symbolise distinct revelations of the Creative Will as it dives like a lightning flash into the material world. Described in the medięval occult text, the Zohar, they correspond (among other things in the inner world) to chakras in the energetic system.
A karmically significant aspect of just under 51°26', being 1/7th of the zodiacal circumference. This is a modern aspect and is rarely used. Kepler specifically disapproved of it. Addey however states that it is disproportionately present in scientific discovery charts.
A minor adverse aspect of 135 degrees, derived from Kepler.
The seventh segment of an astrological chart. Known also as the Descendant, it governs marriage, business partnerships, harmony, disharmony and open enemies.
Major aspect of 60 degrees, considered benefic (favourable). The sextile (one sixth of the circumference of the zodiacal circle) signals a positive connection and a ready channelling of the energies indicated by the planets and their positions in the chart. An example of a sextile would be a planet at 15° Aries aspecting another planet or point at 15° Gemini. The sextile aspect in modern astrology is given an orb of 6°, but the closer the orb is to being exact (partile), the more powerful the effect. The Sun and Moon are often allowed more orb. Classical astrology allows for signs to be in aspect, so any planet in Aries would be considered sextile to any planet in Gemini or in Aquarius, for example, as these signs are sextile. This called a platic aspect, as opposed to partile. More on Aspects, and Planets.
See Super Galactic Centre.
The cosmic sound current, or power of sound. Esoteric teachings hold that meaningful sounds and, in particular, names, have magical efficacy and can be used to create, construct or destroy phenomena, events and things. This was originally part of the ancient pantheistic or animist worldview that has become more systematised in esoteric philosophies as civilisation has developed. Alphabets such as Hebrew, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit have in addition to their simple linguistic uses numerical and sonic values that can be harnessed and employed by adepts. Qabbala includes several systems of manipulating language and sound in this way, as do various esoteric schools in other disciplines.
Not a true celestial body, but a calculated point of significance in the chart, primarily the Moon's north (ascending) and south (descending) nodes. See Nodes.
Name for Saturn in Jyotish (Vedic) Astrology.
The portion of a celestial body's daily travel above the horizon between its rising and its setting is called its diurnal arc; halving this arc from horizon to midheaven or meridien gives its diurnal semi-arc. The portion below the earth is the nocturnal arc, so half of it becomes the nocturnal semi-arc. The Sun's nocturnal or diurnal semi-arc when in 0° Aries or 0° Libra, is six hours or 90° all over the Earth. At other seasons the one is greater or less than the other, according to the time of the year and the latitude of the place. The greatest discrepancy occurs where the N. or S. latitude is high, and when the Sun is in 0° Cancer or 0° Capricorn. The semi-arc is usually measured in degrees of RA passing over the Meridian; although it can be expressed in terms of time.
- Term used in Primary Directions to denote the arc from a Significator to the Horizon or to the Meridian.
Signs of short ascension take less time to ascend (rise over the eastern horizon) than signs of long ascension. They are often found intercepted in charts, though not in the zodiac, as signs are never intercepted in the zodiac. Interception is neither a dignity, nor a debility. In the northern hemisphere, these are: Sidereal Day
When the Earth has made one complete revolution on its axis; i.e. when the meridien has returned to its exact position after a twenty four hour period of rotation of the Earth. This is not the same as a tropical day, which is the sidereal day plus the distance travelled by the Sun in that same period, i.e. when the MC catches up with the Sun: about one degree further, or four minutes longer.
Right ascension of the meridien at mean noon (or midnight in modern ephemerides). The angular distance of the first point of Aries, or the true vernal equinox quoted in hours, minutes and seconds. Birth time is converted into sidereal time for the latitude of the birth place in order to calculate the house cusps.
Zodiac based on actual positions of constellations in the heavens, as opposed to the Tropical Zodiac, which is a moveable format based on the seasons. The Tropical Zodiac defines the Vernal Point as the first degree of Aries, but the Sidereal Zodiac allows it to precess.
A sign, seal, image, or talisman created for a specific occult purpose. Often constructed from other symbolic figures, it is imprinted into the subconscious, being impregnated with power through ritual, prayer, or meditation. A sigil may also be incorporated into an object as a signet, glyph, or heraldic device.
In Natal Astrology, the planet which rules the Ascendant. In Horary, the planet ruling the house governing the matter or person in question. In Directions, the Significator can only be Sun, Moon, Ascendant or Mid-Heaven (according to Sephariel).
A symbolic display or image that points to something not immediately evident. A sign can carry more than one, or even a range of meanings. In astrology and mythology, signs have been mapped onto constellations in the heavens, but the zodiacal signs are themselves mathematical in nature and are not directly linked to the constellations, except historically.
Twelve equal 30° divisions of the zodiac: Aries, Taurus,
Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Signs in the Tropical Zodiac should not be confused with constellations, even though for historical reasons, they have the same names. There is no "13th Sign" of the Zodiac, as occasionally touted by skeptical astronomers, as Ophiuchus is a constellation, not a Sign. See Constellations.
An aspect read from the left by diurnal movement, i.e. clockwise. It is thus in accordance with the natural succession of the Signs. Considered less powerful because hidden, or not in the line of sight. See Dexter.
The Dog Star, the brightest star in the night sky. An extremely potent, binary (possibly ternary) star, Sirius, now located in the 15th degree of Cancer, is the focal point of several religions (notably the ancient Egyptian). See Fixed Stars.
The sixth segment of an astrological chart, an area ruling work,
health, service, helping others, subordinates, the military, professionals, daily activities and the continuous harvesting or planting of positive and negative experiences. It also rules small animals.
Dynamic and flexible methods employed in the attainment of realisation. These include appropriate techniques, such as meditation, exercises, cultivation of moral virtues and use of powers, especially for conducting knowledge and compassion.
Slow in Course (Slow in Motion)
A planet moving slower than its Mean Motion. An accidental debility. The Moon when slow in course is considered by Bonatus in Anima Astrologicę to be as debilitated as if she were retrograde.
Signs which have the nature of Saturn and Jupiter, such as Capricorn and Aquarius, Sagittarius and Pisces.
Certain degrees that, according to tradition, have a moderate, or middling quality, particularly regarding appearance and character. Compare Light and Dark degrees.
A modern name for benefic aspects, sextile, trine and quintile. Soft as opposed to Hard.
The Sun, central power source of our solar system. The Sun stands for the individuality in the nativity. It rules Leo and is exalted in Aries. More about the Sun.
System of progression where the distance travelled by the Sun in the progressed horoscope (calculated at a rate of 1 degree = 1 year) from its natal position is also assigned to the other planets. Hard aspects only are considered in Solar Arc theory. The advantage of this system over secondary progression is that it gives significant movement to the outer planets, thus broadening the scope for predicting major life-events.
Chart based on position of Sun, either at sunrise or noon. Useful when time of birth is unknown. According to deVore, it becomes increasingly important in adult life, vis ą vis the ascendant chart.
The number of sunspots and other solar activity such as flares have been observed to vary regularly in a repeating cycle of about 11 years. In each successive cycle the north and south magnetic polarities reverse, so that there is also a magnetic cycle of 22 years.
Eclipse of the Sun. At a precisely aligned New Moon, the Moon passing between the Earth and the Sun hides the face of the Sun. Never view eclipses of the Sun directly with the naked eye, because the potential for eye damage is high. More about Eclipses
The midpoint of the 11 year solar cycle, where sunspot activity, solar flares, and the output of cosmic particles and solar radiation is at its peak. The Earth's magnetic field, temperature, and ozone levels are affected by this cyclic peak.
The beginning and end of a solar sunspot cycle, when only a few sunspots are usually observed, and the output of particles and radiation is normal.
A chart constructed for the moment when the Sun returns to the degree and minute of its longitude at nativity (because of the Sun's irregular apparent motion, it seldom returns at the same time as birth). A solar return chart using the latitude of the present residence for construction of House Cusps indicates the course of events during the ensuing year. The transits of planets over these chart factors is used to time and date the events indicated. The solar return should be compared with the nativity and the progressed chart to make the most informed judgement.
The Sun and the family of celestial bodies which revolve around it as it journeys through space and time. It includes the known planets and their satellites, the numerous asteroids orbiting between Mars and Jupiter, the icy Centaurs orbiting between Jupiter and Neptune, plus the comets, meteoroids, the Kuiper Belt, the solar wind, dust, gases and radiant energies of the interplanetary medium, along with the various hypothetical planets such as Trans-Pluto (Bacchus). It is bounded at its outer extremities by the limit of the Sun's gravitational and magnetic influence (heliosphere) at a distance of approx 100 AU from the centre of the Sun. Here the solar wind meets the interstellar medium.
A stream of tiny particles of ionised gas and plasma emitted by the Sun. The speed of the solar wind is more than 400 kilometres (250 miles) per second in the vicinity of Earth's orbit. The solar wind fills the solar system, reaching far beyond the orbit of Pluto. See Solar System.
Sol+systere, Latin for Sun and standing still. The place in the ecliptic where the Sun appears to stand still at its furthest point north or south of the equator, the first degree of Cancer or Capricorn. The northernmost point is the summer solstice and the southernmost is the winter solstice, when viewed from the northern hemisphere. The Sun at maximum declination appears to stand still at these points for about three days. The seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere. See Tropic.
Cancer and Capricorn. These signs hold the summer and winter solstices (shortest and longest nights). cf Equinoctial Signs.
Sosigenes of Alexandria
Deviser of the Julian Calendar. More on the Julian Calendar.
See Dragon's Tail.
Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces. The Sun in these signs has a southern declination.
Plant alchemy, mainly for medicinal purposes.
Alchemist, particularly one who sought chemical and herbal remedies for the healing of diseases.
A term in ancient Hellenistic astrology for when one planet was seen as protecting, or acting as bodyguard for another. Not used in modern astrology.
The 20 year cycle between conjunctions of transiting Jupiter and transiting Saturn in the heavens.
A table of the data concerning the planets in a horoscope. Useful in calculating directions.
Speculum of Aspects
A table of every degree in a horoscope that may be in aspect with the planets. Useful for noting transiting aspects at a glance.
Ancient astronomers, notably Aristotle, held that the Earth was the centre of the universe and that the planets and stars occupied positions in a series of concentric, crystal spheres surrounding the Earth, or in the case of the Pythagoreans, a Central Fire. See Music of the Spheres.
Spirit (subtle underlying power) of the World. See Quintessence.
Major aspect of 90 degrees, considered malefic (unfavourable). The square (quadrate, or one quarter of the zodiacal circumference) signals stress and tension, but can also be dynamic insofar as the native is impelled to find a solution to the problem indicated by the planets and their positions in the chart. So squares can be beneficial in some cases. An example of a square would be a planet at 15° Aries (Masculine Fire) aspecting another planet or point at 15° Cancer (Feminine Water). The square aspect in modern astrology is given an orb of 6°–8°, but the closer the orb is to being exact (partile), the more powerful the effect. The Sun and Moon are often allowed more orb. Classical astrology uses the moieties of the planets to determine orb and allows for signs to be in aspect, so any planet in Aries would be considered square to any planet in Cancer or in Capricorn, for example, as these signs are quadrate. This called a platic aspect, as opposed to partile. There is some discussion in astrological circles as to whether the opposition or the square is the most damaging, because the square always counters masculine to feminine signs: Fire (Masc.) vs Water (Fem.); Earth (Fem.) vs Air (Masc.) etc, while the opposition counters signs of the same polarity in differing elements (Fire vs Air, or Earth vs Water). Alan Leo holds that the square is the most dangerous, but most traditional authorities hold that the opposition is the worst. More on Aspects, and Planets.
Time adopted in modern time zones. This is not true local or Mean Time and must be corrected according to longitude for the accurate calculation of horoscopes.
Visible as tiny points of light in the night sky, stars have been important to mankind since the dawn of consciousness. Modern physics declares that each star is an enormous nuclear fireball like our Sun – some, such as Antares, being vastly more massive than the Sun – but esoterically each star is considered to be the body of a conscious cosmic being (angel, or deva). Another tradition, dating at least to Plato, holds that each soul is assigned to a star, and after death returns to that star, or if having led an unjust life, must reincarnate on Earth. Certain star groupings, such as Orion, Pegasus, etc., are called constellations and visible stars of sufficient magnitude have a powerful effect on life on Earth. These "Fixed Stars" appear to be stationary, relative to the Earth, whilst "Wandering Stars" (or Planets) appear to move across the zodiac. To distinguish, Fixed Stars appear to twinkle in the sky, but Planets shine with an unwavering gleam. More on Fixed Stars.
A planet in its station appears to be standing still between periods of Retrograde or Direct motion. Sun and Moon are never stationary. See Retrograde.
A planet stationary at the position of returning to Direct Motion through the zodiac after a period of Retrograde Motion. It is the ideal time to make or implement relevant decisions. This is considered to be among the most powerful positions for planetary influence, especially in Jyotish, or Indian (Vedic) astrology.
A planet stationary at the point of turning retrograde. This is an important position, as it indicates the need for rethinking the issues related to condition of the planet, its sign and house, as they will be raised in one form or another during the retrograde period.
Strictures (Against Judgement)
Certain conditions in a chart restricting its interpretation. Used mainly in Horary, strictures warn the astrologer not to proceed, as the chart is likely give faulty information. Lilly presents a number of what he calls "Considerations Before Judgement".
Obsolete term for Essential Dignity.
Below the Moon, referring to earthly things, the Moon being the closest celestial sphere to the Earth in the Ptolemaic system.
The sphere of the Elements, Fire, Air, Water and Earth, located between the surface of the Earth and the sphere of the Moon. According to the system of Aristotle, formalised by Ptolemy, the higher spheres (from the Moon outwards) ran on Aether, the quintessence or fifth Element.
Second, fifth, eighth and eleventh houses in a chart. Corresponding to the fixed signs, they lie between the cardinal angles and the cadent houses. Planets in these houses function at around 50% of their power, based on the strength of an angular placement, which is the most potent.
The Sun, central power source of our solar system, is our very own star, said by science to be a vast thermonuclear furnace. Known as "Sol" in Latin and "Helios" in Greek, the masculine Sun also has a spiritual essence and in astrology stands for the individuality in the nativity. He rules Leo and is exalted in Aries. More about the Sun.
Planetary ruler of the Sun Sign.
The twelve traditional signs of the zodiac. The Sun Sign is the sign through which the Sun is passing at a given moment, such as the moment of birth.
Chart based on the position of the Sun at sunrise on the day of birth. Useful technique in the absence of a known birthtime.
Dark patches on the Sun's surface, exhibiting powerful magnetic fields. They are dark due to having a lower temperature than their brighter surroundings. Sunspots generally appear in groups and can be relatively small (300 km diameter), with larger examples stretching over 100,000 km. Larger sunspots can last for more than 3 months; small spots, or "pores" can last for less than an hour.
Super Galactic Centre (SGC)
Central zone of our local Galactic Cluster (an astronomically large area) around which our galaxy, the Milky Way, orbits along with a number of other galaxies. This zone is believed to be occupied by an immensely super-massive black hole, and is held by aficionados to be the source of spiritual energy and self-knowledge in this part of the universe (do they mean.. God?). It is located in Coma Berenices, the asterism that occupies the space between tropical Virgo and tropical Libra. Most authorities pinpoint the SGC at 1 or 2 degrees of Libra.
A term coined in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle to describe a New or Full Moon occurring at or near perigee (the closest point in the Moon's orbit to Earth). Astronomers call this alignment a perigee-syzygy. SuperMoons are associated with extreme tidal forces in the atmosphere, crust and oceans, producing extreme coastal tides, severe storms, powerful earthquakes and volcanic eruptions within three days either way of the exact syzygy. Nolle says the effects of SuperMoon solar eclipses extend roughly a week before and after the actual event. Other lunar extremes (e.g., of declination) can extend the geocosmic stress window by a day or two.
Superior Planets (Superiors)
Saturn, Jupiter and Mars are the traditional Superiors, as in the ancient geocentric system they are above (superior to) the Sun. Modern astrologers include Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Chiron and the asteroids, also the trans-plutonian "planets" such as Trans-Pluto (Bacchus, or Persephone). Their orbits in our modern heliocentric system lie beyond that of the Earth when viewed from the Sun. The orbits of the Inferior planets lie between the Earth and the Sun (Vulcan, Moon, Mercury and Venus). See Inferior Planets.
Swift in Course (Swift in Motion)
A planet moving faster than its mean motion. An accidental dignity.
An image, token or sign which conveys or transmits a specific significance of a greater concept. Symbols represent complex ideas in a highly compressed, simplified and energised format. Symbols in themselves can have a measurable effect in their own right, by activating resonant frequencies in the unconscious, the subtle or energetic body.
Art of chart comparison, for analysis of relationships.
The concept popularised by the analytical psychologist C. G. Jung that celestials do not have a direct causal effect on phenomena, but rather present a timed map, whereby events and characteristics that occur on Earth (marked in the horoscope) can be tracked and interpreted. Stars and planets are thought to be "in sync" or "synchronous" with these events and phenomena, even though they have no causal relationship. This idea of an "a-causal relationship" or "meaningful coincidence" is not the traditional view, but is popular among modern Western psychological astrologers, as it does not seem to require any demonstration of causal force involving action at a distance as yet unknown to physics. The idea of the heavenly bodies being signs rather than causes is of course an ancient one, but that need not stop moderns from reclaiming the turf.
Conjunction of two or more of the heavenly bodies. More of an astronomical term than an astrological one, it suggests when used by astrologers the gathering of the relevant celestials for a meeting (as in a convention of church elders).
The time taken by the Moon from one conjunction with the Sun until the next: 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds...
Pairs or connected things, especially opposites that are yoked together. Also when the Sun, Earth and Moon are aligned, especially at an eclipse, though it could be any three celestial bodies in a gravitational system. Refer conjunctions and oppositions.
For places in the southern hemisphere, long and short ascension are reversed. See Long Ascension.