What follows is a glossary of terms, based on classical sources.
Where a clear ancient source for the definition exists, I have quoted it verbatim, according to the following sources:
LI = Lilly, William. 1647. Christian Astrology. Reprinted in 1985 by Regulus: London.
PA = Partridge, John. 1679. Mikropanastron, or, an Astrological Vade Mecum Briefly Teaching the Whole Art of Astrology, Viz. Questions, Nativities, with All Its Parts, and the Whole Doctrine of Elections, Never So Comprised, nor Compiled before, So That the Young Student May Learn as Much Here as in the Great Volumes of Guido, Haly or Origanus. microform. Printed for William Bromwich … London.
RA = Ramesey, William. 1654. Astrologia Restaurata, or, Astrologie Restored Being an Introduction to the General and Chief Part of the Language of the Stars : In 4 Books … : With a Table of the Most Material Things Therein Contained. London: Printed for Robert.
Accidental Dignity: this is a mix of conditions, all of which relate to the strength of a planet being increased (or decreased, with accidental debility) because of the planet’s placement, apart from its tropical zodiacal position. The kinds of factors which are included in the tables of accidental dignity include: house placement, whether oriental or occidental, in conjunction to fixed stars, aspects to benefics or malefics, closeness to the Sun, and speed.
Alchocoden: the giver of Years. Depending on the calculation method for the Hyleg, the Alchocoden is either the Almuten of the Hyleg, or the disposing planet that allowed the Hyleg to qualify as Hyleg. Once the Alchocoden (various spellings survive) and the Hyleg were known, a calculation for of the length of life was possible, based on the essential dignity of the Alchocoden and its fortitude through benefics, or afflictions by malefics.
Almuten/Almutem: There are five Essential Dignities for any degree of the zodiac: the rulership (+5), exaltation (+4), triplicity (+3), term (+2), and face (+1). If you take a particular house cusp, find the planet which rules each of the five essential dignities of the position, and assign the points to the planet. The planet with the highest point value is the Almuten. For example: for 8 Aries 15: Mars is the ruler (+5), the Sun rules the exaltation (+4), the triplicity (+3) and the face (+1) = +8, and Venus the terms (+2): the Sun is Almuten. Arabic sources give the word as “Almutem,” but by the 17th Century, the word was consistently being translated into English and used as “Almuten.”
Almuten of the Chart: this was one of many attempts to find the planet which best exemplifies the individual’s incarnation. It was defined by ibn Ezra and Aferrier as follows: the Almuten of the Sun, Moon, Part of Fortune, Ascendant and the prenatal syzygy. See “Lord of the Geniture.”
Antiscion: “Some of the learned in this Art do hold that the Antiscions of the Planets be equivalent unto a Sextile or a Trine-aspect, especially if they were beneficial Planets; and their Contrantiscions to be of the nature of Quadrate or Opposition. How to know the Antiscions is no more than this; first, know the Antiscions of the signs, which is no more but a sign being equally distant with another from Cancer and Capricorn the two Tropicks; as Gemini hath its Antiscion in Cancer, Taurus in Leo, Aries in Virgo, Pisces in Libra, Aquarius in Scorpio, and Capricorn in Sagittary; for when the Sun is in 1° of Gemini, he is as far from the Tropick point of Cancer as when he is in 29° of Cancer; and in the 5° of Taurus, as when the 25° of Leo, &c…. The Contrantiscion is known thus; look in what sign, degree and minute your Antiscion falls, and your contrantiscion will be in the same degree and minute as your opposite sign to your Antiscion. [RA]
Apoklima, is a 12th sign relationship between two bodies. This term appears in Hellenistic astrology, and casts a malefic relationship between the two bodies.
Application, “is when two Planets approach each other, either by Body or Aspect; and this may be three several ways: First, when both Planets are direct, for Example, Jupiter in 11 deg. of Aries, and Mars in 9 degrees of Aries, both of them direct; here Mars apples to a conjunction of Jupiter.
“The second is when two Stars are Retrograde, and apply to each other by a Retrograde motion; thus Jupiter in 9 degrees of Aries. Retrograde, and Mars in 11 degrees of the same Sign Retrograde also, here Mars applies to the body of Jupiter by Retrograde motion.
“Thirdly, when one Planet is Retrograde in more degrees of a Sign, and another direct in fewer; as suppose Mars in 12 degrees of Aries Retrograde, and Venus in 10 degrees of Aries, here Mars applies to Venus and Venus applies to Mars, and this kind of application is of great force and efficacy in all manner of Astrological Resolutions; but this must be remembered also, that a Superior Planet cannot apply to an Inferior one, unless he be Retrograde. “[PA]
Beholding: This word has shifted somewhat over time, but it refers to two planets which are either in ptolemaic aspect (conjunction, opposition, trine, square or sextile) or antiscial, or contranticial relationship.
“The Bendings”: the points square the Nodal axis. If a planet square the Nodes is zodiacally between the North Node and the South Node (i.e., start counting at the North Node), then it is at the Northern Bending; if between the South Node and the North Node, it is at the Southern Bending.
Besieging: “this I think need no Explanation, for every Souldier understands it; as suppose Saturn in 10 deg. Jupiter in 12 deg. and Mars in 13 deg. of Leo; here Jupiter is besieged by Saturn and Mars.” [PA]
Cazimi: “is when a Planet is in the heart of the Sun; that is, not distant from him above 17 min. as Mars in 10 deg. 30 min. of Aries, the Sun in 10 deg. 15 min. of Aries; here Mars is in Cazimi.” [PA]
Chaldean order: the sequence of the planets and lights in order of geocentric mean motion, from the slowest to the fastest: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon. This sequence is used in all sorts of different classical techniques.
Collection: “Matters are also brought to perfection, when as the two principall Significators doe not behold one another; but both cast their several Aspects to a more weighty Planet than themselves, and they both receive him in some of their essential dignities; then shall that Planet who thus collects both their Lights, bring the thing demanded to perfection: which signifies no more in Art than this, that a Person somewhat interested in both parties and described and signified by that Planet, shall performe, effect and conclude the thing which otherways could not be perfected: As many times you see two fall at variance, and of themselves cannot think of any way of accommodation, when suddenly a Neighbour or friend accidentally reconciles all differences, to the content of both parties: And this is called Collection.” [LI]
Combustion: “A Planet is Combust when he is not distant from the Sun 8 deg. 30 min. either before or after him; for Example, Jupiter in 10 deg. of Aries, the Sun in 14 deg. and Mars in 18, here both Jupiter and Mars are Combust; and observe that a Planet going to Combustion is more afflicted than when departing from it.” [PA]
Critical days: Refers to a recurrence of crisis times in a disease that occur periodically. The concept goes back at least to Hippocrates, and was probably not an astrological concept, but a clinical observation: in malaria, which was very common in the Mediterranean region, fevers recur on a more or less predictable frequency. Astrologically, this became associated with taking the decumbiture for the illness, and examining charts for when the Moon is at any 4th or 8th harmonic placement relative to its original placement in the original decumbiture: it is at these times that the disease can take a turn for the better or worse, because these represent potential crisis period.
Decumbiture: Literally, to lie down. This is a medical event which can then be used to chart the future course of an illness. A decumbiture can be taken literally from when the patient is too sick to no longer stand up, but it can also be a crisis event like the time of a heart attack or seizure, the time of taking a diagnostic test or receiving the diagnosis from it, or the time of a hospital admission or operation.
Essential Dignity: Essential dignity was a system for assessing the strength of a planet by its placement in the zodiac alone. There were five essential dignities: by sign, exaltation, triplicity, term, and face. A planet with dignity can act or do as it wants, whereas a planet without dignity has difficulty getting from Point A to Point B except by a very circuitous route.
Face: One of the minor dignities, also called Chaldean decanates. The faces are 10° slices of the signs, marked by planetary rulers falling in the sequence known as the Chaldean order. The Face is given +1 point.
Frustration: “is when a lighter applies to one more weighty, and before he can come to a perfect Conjunction of him, he gets to a Conjunction of a third, and this is called Frustration; for Example suppose Saturn in 20 degrees of Aries, Jupiter in 19 Aries and Mars in 1 of the same Sign, here before, Mars gets to Conjunction of Jupiter, Jupiter gets to a Conjunction of Saturn, by which means Mars is frustrated.” [PA]
In a House; the 5° rule: Consider the movement of the planets diurnally. For example, the Sun “rises” by going from the 1st House to the 12th House. A planet on the 12th House side of the Ascendant may be said to be angular if it is within 5° of the Ascendant: this is the so-called 5° rule. Depending on the source, this may actually entail anywhere from 2° to 7-8°, depending on the source, and whether the House moved into is Angular, Succedent, or Cadent (largest for Angular; smallest for Cadent).
Hyleg: the giver of Life. Since the Hellenistic period, astrologers designated a particular planets as being important as expressing life force in the chart. There were multiple systems of calculation, the most common being Ptolemy’s and Bonatti’s. The methods were later simplified post Renaissance. Whatever the means of calculation, primary directions to the Hyleg, or other stress to it could result in disease, injury, or death.
Joys: This word was used two ways, which can lead to some confusion. One use was as a synonym for “exaltation.” The second was an indicator of which house would be the top choice for a given planet. The joys by house are: Mercury = 1st House, Moon = 3rd House, Venus = 5th House, Mars = 6th House, Sun = 9th House, Jupiter = 11th House, and Saturn = 12th House.
Lord of the Geniture: this was one of many attempts to find the planet which best exemplifies the individual’s incarnation. It was defined several ways, but a common one is the Almuten of the Sun, Moon, Part of Fortune, Ascendant and Midheaven. See “Almuten of the Chart.”
Occidental: “is when a Planet or Star sets after the Sun is down.” [PA]
Oriental: “is when a Planet riseth before the Sun.” [PA]
Partile: within the same degree number. Notice that this is not an orb size. The Moon at 6 Leo 01 is partile Mars at 6 Leo 59, while the Moon in the same place, and Mars at 5 Leo 59 is within a degree, but not partile. Any aspect may be called either partile, or plactic, for those that are not partile.
Peregrination: “a Planet is Peregrine when he is in a Sign and degree where he hath no Essential dignity, as Mars in 26 degrees of Gemini is Peregrine, because he hath no dignity there, &c.” [PA]
Primary Directions: a system of moving the chart based on diurnal rotation. There are many systems, but the typical basis is that one year of life is given by one degree of movement, roughly four minutes ephemeris time. When planets come to an angle, events of the nature of that planet are expected.
Profection: a system of moving the chart one house per year of life, inherited from the Hellenistic Era. Within this system, the chart may be further moved by subdividing the house into smaller units of time. When planets within a house thus come to an “angle,” events of the nature of that planet are expected.
Prohibition: “is when two Planets are applying to a Conjunction or Aspect, and before they can attain it, another Planet comes to the Conjunction or Aspect of the Planet applied to, and so prohibits the former; as suppose Saturn at 12 degrees of Aries, Jupiter in 10 degrees applying to a Conjunction of Saturn, and Mars in 8 degrees of the same Sign, here Mars by the swiftness of his motion, comes first to a Conjunction of Saturn, and so hinders and prohibits the thing signified by Jupiter.” [PA]
Projected Ecliptic Degree: This is not a classical term, but it explains a process. The fixed stars or planets can be located in the sky either by assigning them a degree placement in longitude and latitude, or by specifying their proximity at a particular time to the earlier system of rising, culminating, setting and anti-culminating (what is now called paran). There is no question that the projection of the position to an ecliptic degree is a newer process, but it has the advantage of expressing the star’s position absolutely, and not at a particular time of day. The problem is, the further away from the ecliptic in latitude, the more arbitrary such a projection may appear. And some of the fixed stars are very far off the ecliptic. The advantage to the paran system is that it expresses an immediacy about the primacy of the star at a particular time of year: that in Spring, this star rises at dawn in this location.
Quality: the Greek system of components that underlaid their elemental and physical systems: the qualities are hot & cold (active), and wet & dry (Passive). Please refer to the table shown under “temperaments” to see how these qualities corresponded to the system of elements.
Reception “is when two Planets are in each others dignities, as the Sun in Aries, and Mars in Leo, here is a Reception by House, it may be also by Exaltation, Triplicity, Term and Face.” [PA]
Refranation: “is no more but this, when a Planet is applying to another by Body or Aspect, and before it be accomplished, he become Retrograde, and is then said to Refrain his Aspect or Conjunction, as Saturn at 1 degrees Aries, and Jupiter in 9 degrees of the same Sign, and before his Conjunction he becomes Retrograde; and that is called Refranation.”[PA]
Sect: whether diurnal or nocturnal. The primary sect of a chart is whether the chart itself is by day or night. A night chart has the Sun posited in the 1st through 6th Houses; a day chart has the Sun in the 12th through 7th Houses: right on the Ascendant-Descendant is anyone’s guess! In addition, planets were considered to have intrinsic sect (Sun, Jupiter and Saturn: diurnal; Moon, Venus and Mars: nocturnal; Mercury: mixed); signs had intrinsic sect (Masculine = diurnal, Feminine = nocturnal), and planets had sect placement, according to whether they were diurnally or nocturnally placed in the chart in question.
Sect Light: The Sun, for a day chart; the Moon for a night chart.
Separation: “is when two Planets have been in Conjunction or Aspect and are going from it as Jupiter in 6 degrees of Aries and Mars in 7 degrees; here Mars separates himself from Jupiter; but yet he is not quite separated from him till they are distant from each other 8 degrees 30 minutes, which is the moiety of both their Orbs; what their Orbs and Aspects are.” [PA]
Temperament: This was a system that Hippocrates used for relating a number of common conditions found in people. He described four temperaments, and each type was characterized by a similar psychology, metabolism, and pattern of illnesses. The four types are given in the following table, taken from Classical Astrology for Modern Living:
Air Libra, Aquarius, Gemini Sanguine Wet, becoming Hot
Fire Aries, Leo, Sagittarius Choleric Hot, becoming Dry
Water Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces Phlegmatic Cold, becoming Wet
Sanguine types are the jolly glad-handers; choleric type fly off the handle; melancholics are morose and brooding, and phlegmatic are lethargic. The temperaments system was recognized and used by all Galenic physicians, whether they used astrology or not in their practice. The astrologically-inclined would add the ability to calculate the temperament from the nativity, and the ability to predict challenges to the temperament based on the hard aspects of the Moon the to decumbiture chart.
Term: One of the five essential dignities. The Term ruler was said to be “of the body” of that planet, so if the Ascendant is in the Terms of Saturn, it would represent a person serious, older, in a saturnine profession, etc. – primarily physical or outward appearance. The Term was given +2 points, and is considered a minor dignity.
Translation of Light and Nature: “is no more but this, the separating of one Star from the Body or Aspect of another, and carrying his Light and Nature to a third; as for Example, Saturn in 10 degrees of Aries, and Jupiter in degrees of Aries, and the Moon in 8 degrees of Leo, here the Moon separates from a trine of Jupiter, and translates the Light and Nature of Jupiter , by a trine to Saturn.” [PA]
Triplicity: One of the five essential dignities. Triplicities run by element, so there is one set of rulers for the fire signs, another for earth, etc. Triplicity is worth +3 points on the scale of essential dignities. The trick is that there are three different systems. Two of them utilize a day, night, and mixed ruler; the third, which was in common use by English astrologers in the 17th Century, used only day and night. Among the most obvious differences between the two that will be seen in this work is Jupiter being the mixed Triplicity ruler of Air: thus, for a year with Jupiter In Aquarius, Jupiter will often be the most dignified planet, and will virtually always be a contender for use because of the dignity.
Under the Sun’s Beams: “a Planet is said to be under the Sun’s beams, till he is full 17 degrees distant from him.” [PA]
Via combusta: zone from 15 Libra to 15 Scorpio, in some sources; from the Fall of the Sun (19 Libra) to the Fall of the Moon (3 Scorpio) in others. Considered a dangerous area of the sky. Exact definitions of exactly why are difficult, but the definitions unequivocally extend back to the Arabic period.
Void of Course: “is when a Planet is separated from one, and doth not apply to any other while he is in that Sign, and it is most observable in the Moon.” [PA]
Waning Moon: The Moon from Full Moon to New Moon; the Moon from the opposition to the Sun until the conjunction.
Waxing Moon: The Moon from New Moon to Full Moon; the Moon from the conjunction to the Sun until the opposition.