Before we dive into the wonderful world of birth charts, there’s some terminology that we need to go over. This is my astrology glossary. Think of it as a one-stop shop for all astrological basics.
Birth Chart: A birth chart (a.k.a. a natal chart) is a map of how the sky looked at the exact moment and place someone was born.
Modality: Modalities are a way of organizing the zodiac signs into categories based on similar characteristics. There are three of them: Cardinal, Mutable, and Fixed. Cardinal signs always begin a season and Fixed signs always end a season. I will go further in-depth on the modalities in a later article.
Element: There are four elements used in Astrology to divide the 12 zodiac signs into categories based on similar characteristics. The four are fire, earth, air, and water. I will explain what each of the elements means in a later article.
Ascendant: The Ascendant (a.k.a. rising sign or first house sign) is the zodiac constellation that is coming up over the horizon at the time of birth. It deals with first impressions and public appearances. It is the face you show to the world.
Descendant: The Descendant (a.k.a. the seventh house sign) is directly opposite to the Ascendant. It’s not as commonly talked about as rising signs, however, it can give just as much insight. The seventh house deals with relationships and human interaction.
Midheaven: The Midheaven (aka the Medium Coeli or the tenth house sign) is one of the four main angles of the birth chart. It’s the highest point on a birth chart and represents our greatest achievements in society’s eyes and material accomplishments. The tenth house has to do with career and reputation.
Imum Coeli: The Imum Coeli (aka Nadir or the fourth house sign) is directly opposite the Midheaven and the lowest point on a birth chart. The fourth house is the house of family, home, and roots. While the Midheaven shows us where we’re going, the Imum Coeli shows us where we came from.
Cusp: The cusp is the division between two signs or two houses. A common misconception is that if someone is born on the cusp of two signs, they are both signs. Everyone falls into one zodiac sign for each planet. Sometimes it’s unclear what that sign is unless one knows the exact time of their birth.
Aspect: Aspects are geometric angles formed in a birth chart between planets, asteroids and houses. They can indicate whether or not the heavenly bodies are cooperating. There are five major aspects: Trine, Opposition, Sextile, Conjunction, and Square. I will explain all of these in-depth in a later article.
Houses: Birth charts are divided into 12 astrological houses. These houses represent different areas of life. Zodiac signs indicate what energy is expressed, planets indicate how the energy is expressed, and houses indicate where the energy is expressed
Dignities: Dignities are a system that depicts the strength or weakness of certain planets based on which sign they’re in. There are four dignities: rulership, exaltation, fall and detriment.
Nodes: The Lunar Nodes are mathematical calculations, not heavenly bodies. Everyone has a North Node and a South Node. The Nodes indicate which area of life we are comfortable with and which area of life we require growth.
These words are the building blocks of Astrology. With them, it becomes much easier to analyze birth charts and understand the stars.