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Astrology Terms Explained

What exactly is astrology? The stars and planets have always inspired a sense of wonder. Many cultures look skyward and see the face of the divine there. There's a cosmic dance on the grand scale, and one on the intimate scale, going on for each of us. Astrology is the study of patterns and relationships of planets in motion, our birth chart, synastry with others, the make-up of elements — and using that knowledge as a tool to find meaning.

Here are some Astrology terms explained in alphabetical order.

Air signs: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Just like the wind, this trio moves quickly, jumping from one idea or conversation topic to the next (and then forgetting how they arrived there in the first place). These signs are endlessly curious, craving freedom and independence.

Birth Chart

At the heart of your horoscope is your birth chart. The circular graph shows the full picture of where the sun, moon and planets were positioned at the exact time and place of your birth. When reading a natal chart, the main focus is on your sun, moon and rising signs, as these tell astrologers the most about your personality traits. To dive even deeper into Birth charts check out my You Tube Video explaining Birth Charts in great detail.

Cardinal: Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn

Meet the “beginning” signs. Zamboni tells us they’re eager to initiate projects but may be slow with the follow-through.

Earth signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

As in “down to earth.” These signs are grounded, loyal and reliable. And yes, they have a spreadsheet for that.


An eclipse is when one celestial body blocks the light or visibility of another body. For example, a Lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes into the Earth’s shadow, blocking the Sun.


Your ’scope says you’re a “fire sign,” but what does that actually mean? For starters, each sign is symbolized by one of the four natural elements (air, water, fire, earth), which can help us understand how each sign navigates the world.


There are two equinoxes and two solstices every year, each of which ushers in a change in seasons, and mentions of these occurrences tend to pop up often in horoscopes. The winter (December 21) and summer (June 21) solstices are either the longest or shortest days of the year, depending on which hemisphere you're in. On these days, the sun either reaches its highest or lowest point in the sky. The spring (March 21) and autumn (September 21) equinoxes are when there are equal amounts of sunlight, as the sun is striking the equator.

Fire signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

They’ve got that spark. Fire signs enliven the party, bringing their energy, ambition and humor to every situation. If you’re thinking it, they’ll say it.

Fixed Signs: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius

These four are stationed in the middle of the season, and symbolize staying power. According to the astrologer, “When summer is hottest and winter is coldest, these signs represent capacity in a given direction. Sometimes reluctant to change their ways, they prefer to maintain the course.”

Full Moon

A full moon is a part of the lunar cycle during which the moon is the most visible. Following a full moon, the moon “wanes,” or decreases in visibility, up until the next new moon. Full moons are associated with cleansing, self-reflection, and letting go of negative or old energy.

Mercury Retrograde

Mercury retrograde isn’t a bad omen lurking in the shadows, waiting to sabotage your career, relationships and finances at every turn. Instead, most astrologers agree it’s an annoyance. Zamboni sets the record straight: “Mercury is associated with transportation, transmission and travel. When [it’s] retrograde, it causes delays and do-overs in these activities.” Think: flight delays, spotty Wi-Fi and car trouble. See? Nothing to worry about.

Moon Sign

Your moon sign speaks to your inner emotional reality. Zamboni states that it’s “correlated with body, feeling, emotion and home.” If the moon was traveling through Libra when you were born, you may feel happiest when your personal relationships are thriving and have a strong instinct to keep the peace.

Mutable Signs: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces

Represented by the end or pivot point in a cycle, these signs welcome new experiences. “Change and adaptability is their forte; firm decision making is not as much,” Zamboni points out.

New Moon

What is a new moon? The new moon is a phase of the lunar cycle the moon appears in about once a month. It is when we see the half of the moon that is not illuminated, due to the position of the moon, Earth and Sun. What we see from Earth is, well, total darkness. This is because we can't see any of the parts of the moon that are being illuminated by the Sun.


Think of planets as the 12 characters of the zodiac, and the signs as the ways in which they behave. If your Mercury (the planet of communication) lies in Aries (an energetic, honest sign), you may be known to tell it like it is without holding back.

Rising Sign

Say your co-worker invites you to drinks with her friends from her yoga class. Chances are you’ll act a bit differently in front of six new faces than you would around your usual clan you hang out with. Your rising sign, or ascendant, represents this social persona you present to others. In planet parlance, it’s the sign that was dawning at the horizon line (where the sun meets the earth) when you came into the world, the experts say.So, if your rising sign is in Pisces, you may come across as imaginative and kind-hearted to those you meet.

Sun Sign

Here’s the one we all know and love. And one that's easiest to understand. When someone asks about “your sign,” they’re usually referencing the sun’s placement on your chart. Think of it as your sense of self, direction in life and greatest strength. Zamboni tells us our sun sign represents our “intellect, spark and soul.” So, for example, if yours is in Taurus, you may be reliable, endearing and resistant to change.

Super moon

Super moons are described as when the moon is as close to the earth as it can possibly get, making it look larger than normal.


This term was coined by Carl Jung to further develop the theory of uncanny coincidence. Simply, it’s when two events occur that seem oddly connected.

Waning moon

For the last week of the month, the moon fades back to black. Some say this is a good time to stay home to recharge, reflect, and ignore your texts.

Water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Ever describe someone as being “deep”? Creative, compassionate and in tune with the emotions of themselves and others, these signs fit the bill. Waxing moon

As the moon becomes more and more visible in the sky, its energy is also building. This is thought to be a good time for taking action on the intention you set at the new moon.

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