Astrology may seem really complex and difficult to understand, it has symbols and a language of its own. These symbols are also known under the name of glyphs or sigils, and any astrologer has to learn them in order to read and interpret a horoscope chart. All the glyphs are divided into three main groups: signs of the zodiac, planets and planet-like items, aspects (both major and minor).
In the next paragraphs we will go through a list of arcane symbols, but not an exhaustive one since there is a considerably large number of sigils, particularly in magical figures and in alchemy. The glyphs that will be presented in this article are the most important and most frequently used ones in the Western Tropical Astrology. There are twelve signs of the zodiac which occupy 30 degrees each on the 360 degrees of the whole zodiac – we’re talking about a symbolic circle inscribed along the ecliptic on the heavenly sphere that surrounds the earth. One thing you should keep in mind is that the signs are not equivalent to the constellations which bear the same name, but geometric constructions, and therefore, they shouldn’t be confused.
As for the planets – also known as “wanderers” – a total number of 9 are traditionally used: the five visible planets, the Sun and the Moon (together with the Moon's Nodes –North and South). The three planets known as transpersonal – Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto – together with Chiron and the four main asteroids have been discovered more recently, in modern times. Acting as the primary relationship point between Sun, Moon, and Ascendant, the Part of Fortune has planetary status, too.
The aspects are classified in Ptolemaic Aspects (or Conjunction and Major Aspects: Conjunction (0°), Opposition (180°), Square (90°), Trine (120°), Sextile (60°) ), Keplerian Aspects (or Minor Aspects: Semi-square (45°), Sesqui-square (135°), Quincunx (150°), Quintile (72°), Bi-quintile (144°), Semi-sextile (30°) ), Esoteric Aspects (or Ternary Aspects: Septile (51°25'43"), Novile (40°), Quindecile(24°), Johndro (165°), Decile (36°), Vigintile (18°) ). Of course, there are a lot more other aspects, mainly used by esoteric astrologers, Uranian astrologers, and harmonic astrologers. When it comes to declinations, there are two possible ones: parallel and contra-parallel.
The aspects have been presented in the above-paragraph in the order of their importance. In “World Harmony,” Kepler steered clear of septiles, classifying them as non-musical. In his own words, “God did not play with these figures.” Kepler favored the Major Aspects and he based his astrological aspects on platonic solids, musical divisions, and harmonic ratios. After years of study, he affirmed that there are three more aspects with significant value: the quintile, biquintile, and sesquiquadrate. Furthermore, he warned astrologers that they should “prevent the number of aspects from becoming too great.”
Earlier astrology practitioners have not taken into consideration the harmonic relationships applied by modern astrologers. These relationships have been greatly influenced by Marc Edmund Jones’s numerical and psychological reformulation of astrology, and they have encouraged an “anything can mean anything”-kind of approach that shouldn’t be encouraged.
As mentioned in the introductory part of this article, the symbols, sigils, and glyphs presented in this article are not a complete guide to astrological terminology and language. However, these basic symbols will help you better understand charts and horoscopes as they are the most frequently used ones.