A Rundown of Astrological Terms

An Astrologer holding notebook with natal chart drawing

Photo Credit: LightField Studios/Shutterstock

When you’re first getting into astrology, the amount of specific and technical zodiac terms may put you off delving deeper. Just as you wrap your head around your sun sign, a whole new world of planetary phrases pop up. As we're living in a new age of astrology, there has been no matter time to explore or charts. So, whether you’re a starry-eyed newcomer or simply want to enrich your existing knowledge, you’re in the right place. 

The 12 Zodiac Signs 

To begin our guide to celestial vocabulary, we’ll start with the basics. This is the area most people know – our date of birth correlates with a specific sign and we can use this to tell us all about ourselves, right? Almost. 

The 12 signs of the zodiac (in order) are: 

  • Aries (March 21 – April 19)

Often referred to as bold, the leading sign of the zodiac is Aries and is described as gutsy and unruly – this all becomes clear once you meet one of these ambitious rams. Not afraid of diving into challenges or leaping from one thing to another, you’d be hard-pressed asking an Aries to stay put. 

  • Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

Trailing behind the ram comes the bull, bringing serenity after the chaotic nature of Aries. Liking the finer things in life, Taureans don’t deny themselves the pleasures in life such as good food, pricey objects and self care. 

  • Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

Geminis, personified by the symbol of twins, can be seen as two-faced or doing so much it’s like they cloned themselves. In fact, those born under this sign are usually so dedicated to exploring all areas in life that you’ll be convinced there’s more than one of them. 

  • Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

Existing between the land and sea, cancer is represented by the crab. Their tendencies to switch between emotion and material is incomparable – these psychic crustaceans can effortlessly pick up on the energy during any given situation. 

  • Leo (July 23 – August 22)

Roaring throughout the summer months is Leo the lion, the king of the jungle and all around celebrant of self. Vanity, passion and drama are all examples of vocabulary attributed to this astrological sign. 

  • Virgo (August 23 – September 22)

Known for their practical and logical approach to life, Virgos are the neat freaks of the astrological world. Through their tendency to strive for perfection, they can overwork and stretch themselves without taking a well-earned break. 

  • Libra (September 23 – October 22)

Due to their need for balance in all areas of their lives, Libra are represented by the scales. They crave symmetry and will often look at both sides during any argument, so it’s wise not to disagree with them as you can guarantee they’ve got receipts. 

  • Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

Crowned as the astrological queens of sexual prowess and coming with a sting in their tail, Scorpios are one of the most misunderstood signs. The hunt for power is neverending for this sign so expect a fiery personality and ruthlessness when you meet someone born between these dates. 

  • Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

Speaking about quests, it is no secret that Sagittarians are always looking for more knowledge. Much like the archer that symbolises the sign, these individuals are constantly shooting arrows and blazing a trail everywhere they go.  

  • Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

Disciplined. Persistent. Realistic. These are all terms to describe this astrological sign. Represented by a mythical sea-goat, Capricorns can exist between land and sea – jumping from a material to a spiritual realm within seconds. 

  • Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)

If you have a friend whose focus is firmly on social justice and humanitarian efforts, it’s likely they’re an Aquarius. Fighting for a better would and against authority is all within a day's work for this rebellious water bearer. 

  • Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

As the last sign in the zodiac, Pisces have absorbed all of the lessons that came before. Known as one of the more sensitive signs, Pisceans can tap into the emotions of others and use these either for comforting or manipulative purposes.

The Four Elements

Each sign is grouped into four elements and share some similarities. These elements are: 


  • Fire – Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. 
  • Water – Scorpio, Cancer and Pisces. 
  • Air – Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. 
  • Earth – Virgo, Capricorn and Taurus. 


Fire signs are just like the element. Bright, warm and somewhat dangerous in the wrong hands. They get along with other fire and air signs (fire needs oxygen) but tend to burn water and earth. Hot-headed and determined, fire signs will be able to succeed at anything they put their minds to. 

Water equals life and flows all around us, maybe that’s why water signs seem psychic at times. They take on the emotions of those around them and swallow these up which can often lead to burnout. Water signs also love deeper than the ocean so take care not to lose them. 

Just like the air around us, air signs cannot be pinned down – try as you might, you won’t be able to get one to stick around if they don’t feel like it.  Leaders of ghosting and disappearing without a trace, don’t feel too offended if you find a Gemini, Libra or Aquarius has suddenly left your life. 

Strong and stable, you can rely on earth signs to be there for you. Rulers of the physical earth, those born under this element are usually great cooks, gardeners and farmers. This ability to be grounded should not be confused with boring though, as they are renowned for their considerate loving.  

An Astrologer reading a natal chart.

Photo Credit: Mikhail Sheleh/Shutterstock

What Does My Moon Sign Mean? 

If you don’t feel like your sun sign best represents your inner personality, then take a look at your moon sign – this is found using the time and location of your birth.  You can create your entire birth chart using a natal chart tool which will tell you which signs each planet was in at the time of your birth as well as which houses they fell under (more on that later). 

Your moon sign meaning is your soul, the part you usually hide away from others and shows how you deal with emotions and relationships. It can reveal how certain feelings manifest and how you deal with different situations. 

For example, if your moon sign is in Pisces then you often respond to life changes in an emotional and deeply sensitive manner whereas if the moon is under a fire sign you look to take charge and feel a sense of excitement when it comes to changes. 

What Is a Rising Sign? 

Rounding out your ‘big three’ (sun, moon and ascendent) is your rising sign. This shows how you are in social settings and is often the side of your personality that most people see when they first meet you. Your rising sign, also known as your ascendent, can affect your physical appearance too.

Do a little experiment. Find celebrities who all have the same rising sign and see how many physical similarities they have. Leos have the great mane of hair, Virgos tend to have longer faces and Cancers look like cherubs. 

The 12 Houses

The zodiac is split into 12 houses and each one rules different traits and characteristics:


1st house: Your innate self and beginnings.

2nd house: Everything material, including money and lifestyle.

3rd house: The way you communicate and the ideas you have.

4th house: Your inner circle of family and friends.

5th house: Romance, your yearning to be creative and how you have fun.

6th house: Scientific health and everyday routines.

7th house: Your relationships in every aspect of your life, including marriage. 

8th house: The house of sex and life puzzles. 

9th house: Your spirituality and how you learn.

10th house: The authoritative house that rules your achievements. 

11th house: The friendships you form, technology you use and your humanitarianism side. 

12th house: The artistic house which also symbolises endings.


If you’re looking to have a thorough birth chart reading, an astrologer will look at each planet, which house it was in and what sign it fell under. This way they will be able to craft a full picture of your life, goals, needs or wants, and future. They will even be able to say which type of career would suit you and important dates within your lifetime. 

An astrologer drawing a birth chart.

Photo Credit: LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Glossary of Zodiac and Astrological Terms 

Aspects are the distances between two planets or celestial points. Astrologers look at these angular relationships to see which planets are working in harmony or opposition with each other. 

The cardinal signs are Capricorn, Aries, Libra and Cancer and they represent the changing of the seasons. 

A cusp is the end of one sign and the beginning of another. You may hear that people are born a ‘cusp’ due to being born very close to the ending of a sign, but this is not true. You are either one sign or another.  

Exaltation is when a planet is placed well within a sign. 

Fixed signs include Scorpio, Taurus, Aquarius and Leo. Due to their fixed nature, those born under this sign are usually very stubborn. 

Glyphs are symbols that are used to illustrate the astrological signs, houses and planets. 

Luminaries represent the moon and sun. 

Mutable signs are Pisces, Virgo, Sagittarius and Gemini. They are usually flexible in nature. 

Each sign is ruled by a particular planet and are referred to as planetary rulers

Retrograde is when a planet appears to be moving backwards in relation to Earth. You may have heard this term used along the lines of ‘mercury is in retrograde’.

Synastry is the practice of relationship astrology. 

Zodiac is a circle that is segmented into 12 parts. 

There we have it. A rundown of some of the most important astrological terms. We hope this has given you a taste of all the zodiac has to offer and encourages you to do more research yourself into this spacey subject.


Feature image credit: LightField Studios / Shutterstock

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