Astrology Terminology 101
There can be confusing terms in astrology. And while we may all understand that retrogrades represent “moving backward,” planets don’t actually move backward in the sky. This is an optical illusion! Some astrology terms don’t translate literally. So let’s break them down.
Below is an introduction to some common astrology terms that you may hear astrologers using in their explanations. Though this isn’t an exhaustive list, it’s a great place to start when you’re trying to interpret those Full Moon instagram insights from your fave astro kweens.
Common Astrology Terms
A conjunction is when two or more planets are beside one another, in the same sign, or close together. When it comes to your birth chart, take a peek if you have planets that are next to each other in one of your Houses. If you have two planets side-by-side in a House, they activate one another; it’s as if they’re fused together and connected. Whenever one is activated, engaged or lit up, the other planet is simultaneously and it will colour and influence how you feel. You can have two planets in one house and have them in different signs.
Example: Let’s say your Moon and Mars are conjunct in Aries: your emotions (Moon) may always come out strong and passionately since Mars (survival instinct, aggression) is connected to it. Since both these planets are in Aries, they’re going to be bold and passionate.
This is like a supercharged conjunction; a stellium is when three or more planets are clustered in a House. (Some astrologers consider stelliums four or more planets. For me, supercharged action is three or more planets) This is really powerful! When you have a bunch of planets wedged in one House, it’s as if the universe is trying to get your attention to look at this House because it is important for this life. Like a conjunction, these planets are all connected and linked together, activated with one another all the time.
Example: Let’s say you have a stellium in your Fifth House - the House of Creativity, Love and Humour - a lot of activity in this house it could indicate an emphasis on love, having fun or understanding your ego. A lot of activity also points to a lot of creativity. Your energy would need to consistently express itself through love, creativity and laughter/having fun in order to feel vibrant and healthy and connected.
An interception is when there is so much activity in one of your Houses that it has been forced out of it’s natural 30 degree allotted alignment. You could have two giiiiiant pie wedges in your birth chart, next to a skinny, smaller house that has been squashed to compensate for your oversized House. An intercepted or oversized House is important to notice because it means there is important wisdom within that House and something you need to pay close attention to — even if there are no planets within it. And whenever we have an interception, the House in opposition to that House (directly across) will also be intercepted, so you will always have two intercepted planets; not one. This House will still be extremely important to consider even if there are no planets because it’s still “oversized”.
Example: If your Tenth House is oversized with a cluster of planets within it, your Fourth House will also be oversized since it’s directly across from the Tenth. The Fourth House may have no planets in it! So how do we interpret? Your Life’s Work may be very important in this life since the Tenth House rules this. But looking to the wisdom of the the Fourth House; House of Home, Roots and Family, will offer insight into how to balance this energetic imbalance in a healthy way. The Houses are connected in interceptions.
When two planets are sextile, it means there is a 60 degree difference between them. Each House is approximately 30 degrees in size; sometimes there can be an interception, where the House is forced out of its natural size (smaller or bigger). But Houses are typically allocated with 30 degrees. A 60 degree difference is like having a planet in your First House, nothing in your Second House, and then a planet in your Third House; 60 degrees away. It’s like skipping a House. You have something in #1, nothing in #2, and something in #3, you have two planets that are sextile. Sextile is a complementary placement. For me, I remember sextile as “one house in between”.
Example: Let’s say your Sun is in the First House, Aries, a Fire House. And let’s say your Mercury is in the Third House, Gemini, an Air House. Air and Fire are complementary elements and will work well with one another. Your identity (Sun) and the way you think and communicate (Mercury) will be harmonious.
Semi-sextile is one sign apart. It’s easy to understand in relation to another person; Let’s say you are Virgo and your lover is one sign away - a Leo or a Libra - you will be different but share commonalities. Each sign bleeeends into the next one, which is Why Aries and Taurus can be alike (but different) in their self-centredness, and why Taurus and Gemini can be alike (but different) in their tendency toward gossip and wanting to be in the know. One sign apart can help expand one another, though they will be different at their core. It’s like they learn/like similar things but from a different angle.
When two planets are square, they challenge one another; it can be hard! Planets that are square will be at odds with one another - they’ll conflict - so supercharged awareness about these aspects of yourself will allow you to rise above the zodiac, pause, and understand yourself deeply so you can consciously choose how to proceed rather than reacting. Squared planets are 90 degrees away from one another - or two houses/signs between them. This can be challenging from an elemental perspective - the First House (fire) and the Fourth House (water) aren’t naturally complementary. But just as water can put out fire, when used correctly, the two together can create a whole new element - steam. Working with your squared planets can fuel and propel you to enhance. Look at your chart and identify how many Houses are between your planets to understand Squares and where you may feel tension.
Example: Let’s say your Sun is in the First House in Leo, but your Venus (relationships, attraction, beauty) is in the Fourth House in Scorpio. Leo Sun will want to shine and sparkle and stand out, but this may cause challenges with wanting to deeply connect and lose yourself in others in your relationships. There would always be a push/pull within. The positive way to work with it is to deeply understand others in order to understand yourself and what makes you different.
When two planets are trine, they are extremely harmonious. These planets will have three Houses/Signs between them, and be 120 degrees apart. They will fall in the same Element (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, for example). This is an easy placement with an effortless connection! These areas will be your natural strengths in your birth chart, so look for trines in your birth chart. But if you have an abundance of trines, sometimes that can indicate that you don’t possess a strong desire for effort, and that you expect things to just happen. Life may be a bit more harmonious with less struggles and pushback for you, but that doesn’t mean it should make you lazy and expectant.
Example: Let’s say your Sun is in the First House in Cancer, and your Moon Sign is in your Fifth House in Scorpio, your identity feels comfortable in experiencing love and nurturing others as a Cancer, and with Scorpio in your House of Love, you want to deeply connect to your loves (creativity and passions and even people) in an emotionally authentic way. Beautiful!
Planets that are at opposition are directly across from one another and they require finessing. It’s like being at the opposite end of the spectrum. My Sun Sign is Libra (love!) but my Moon Sign is Aries (war!); this means my identity and emotional self can be at odds on opposite ends of the spectrum. To work with oppositions, it’s key to give each planet - each facet to your personality - equal balance and attention and expression. I can’t shut off my Libra desire to connect, and I can’t shut off my Aries emotional passion. My only option is to understand them more deeply.
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