Appendix A A Glossary of Terms Pertaining to Astrology and Divination

In: Christ Came Forth from India
Free access
Aëromancy (a.k.a. nephelomancy):

Divination by observing clouds or other atmospheric phenomena.

Agricultural astronomy:

The observed correlation between celestial phenomena, seasonal weather patterns, and the tasks of the agricultural year; this does not involve an astrological attempt to predict future events (apart from the obvious recurrence of seasonal patterns).


An ancient body of chemical, philosophical, mystical, and religious lore whose primary focus was the magnum opus (the transmutation of base metals into gold by means of the lapis philosophorum, or philosopher’s stone). Other alchemical operations included the quest for the panacea [elixir of life] and the alkahest [universal solvent]. The oldest extant alchemical texts arose in Egypt during the 1st-4th centuries AD and are attributed to Zosimus of Panopolis and Mary the Jewess. Alchemy was of great interest to Muslim intellectuals, and from them it spread to Mediaeval Europe. Just as astrology was the precursor of modern astronomy, alchemy was the precursor of modern chemistry. Isaac Newton left more than 30,000 manuscript pages on alchemy (more than he wrote on any other subject). King Vakht’ang VI of Georgia was also a student of alchemy.


Annual weather prognostic, derived from lunar configurations to planets, and configurations of the planets to each other.


Divination by listening for sounds. There are many forms of alveromancy, of which the Chechen practice of listening to the ground is a typical example.

Angles: (a.k.a. Pivots, Centers):

In any horoscope, the four primary points along the ecliptic: Ascendant, M.C., Descendant, L.C.


The approach of a faster-moving planet to Aspect or Conjunction with a slower-moving planet; the opposite of Separation.


The point on the ecliptic that is rising in the east at any given moment. This is the eastward angle and the beginning of the 1st mundane house; the most important point in any chart.


The angular relationship between any two planets (or points): sextile (60º), square (90º), trine (120º), opposition (180º).


The practice of divination by means of dice or knuckle-bones.

Astrological chiromancy:

Any of various systems which seek to establish correlations between palmistry and astrology, or to apply astrological principles to palmistry. For example, the seven planets are associated with parts of the hand (the base of the thumb is known as mons Veneris [mountain of Venus), that of the index finger as mons Jovis, that of the middle finger as mons Saturni, that of the ring finger as mons Solis, and that of the little finger as mons Mercurii; while the heel of the hand is designated as mons Lunae), and the palm of the hand is designated cavea Martis [cave of Mars (a.k.a. triangulum)]. These correlations are very widely known, and are presented, along with a diagram, in chapter three of manuscript Q-867.

Astrological divination:

a wide array of techniques to develop prognostications based on the configuration of the heavens, most of them far less sophisticated than Horoscopic Astrology. These techniques include the interpretation of celestial and meteorological omens, horary astrology, and geomancy. Specific simplified divination techniques include the “Sphere of Life and Death” attributed to Pythagoras, calendologia, lunaria, Dies Aegyptiaci, other lists of lucky and unlucky days, days for phlebotomy, and the stella ophiomimeta.

Astrological geomancy:

A complex method of astrological divination, of Arabian origin; a series of random marks is made in sand or on paper and then used to generate a pseudo-horoscope which is then used for prognostication.1

Astrological omen:

Any astrological phenomenon or configuration inductively correlated to a specific terrestrial event.

Astrological talisman:

An object specially prepared at an astrologically propitious time, using materials and procedures calculated to activate the influence of a specific planet or star.


The interpretation of celestial phenomena with a view to predicting future events on earth (either as omens or by generating a horoscope).


The empirical, descriptive study of the celestial bodies and their motions (as contrasted with their interpretation). Throughout most of history, astronomy has functioned as a tool in the service of astrology; thus, Ptolemy’s Almagest is an astronomical work, while his Tetrabiblos [Quadripartitum] is an astrological work. It has only been since the Scientific Revolution that a clear distinction was made between astronomy (as a science) and astrology (as a pseudo-science).


The practice of divination by interpreting the flights of birds (Ornithomancy). The early Romans developed an elaborate science of augury, which was carried out by the collegium augurum [college of augurs]. The collegium augurum comprised fifteen augurs during the first century BC.2 The term augury came to refer divination in general.

Auspices (auspicia):

Omens from the flight of birds. Roman augurs were required to “take the auspices” on important occasions. Eventually, augural practice involved three different types of divination: auspicia ex avibus [omens from birds], auspicia ex caelo [omens from the sky (i.e. from thunder and lightning)], and auspicia ex tripudiis [lit. omens from hopping (i.e. interpretation of the eating-patterns of chickens; this form of divination was commonly practiced on board warships before a battle)].3 In later times the augurs practiced hepatoscopy as well.


Adjustment for precession, expressed in degrees and minutes. This number is deducted from all points in the horoscope to convert from the Tropical Zodiac to the Sidereal Zodiac. Sassanian astrologers developed the Zīj-i Shāh [Royal canons], an extremely accurate set of astronomical tables, based on the coincidence of a conjunction of Jupiter with the sun (March 17, 564 AD) with the spring equinox on the following day. The equinox (defined as the beginning of Aries in the tropical zodiac) took place precisely 10’01” east of the star ζ Piscium, so that the tropical and sidereal zodiacs coincided exactly. This observation enabled the Magi to precisely compute the ayanaṃsa (adjustment for precession, expressed in degrees of difference between the tropical and sidereal zodiacs). The Sassanian ayanaṃsa is still used today, and amounted to precisely 20º02’39.5” on January 1, 2000.4 The original Zīj-i Shāh [Zīj Shahriyārān al-Shāh] (written in Pahlavi) is lost, but can be largely reconstructed from details found in later Arabic sources.5


Divination by means of arrows. Biblical references to this are found in II Kings 13: 14-19 and Ezekiel 21: 21. It was an important practice among the Harranians as well.


The planets Jupiter and Venus (the greater benefic and lesser benefic).


The practice of divination by means of books. Typically, the book was allowed to fall open to a random page and then a passage was picked with the eyes closed. The pagans had recourse to the sortes Homericae and sortes Virgilianae (utilizing the Homeric epics and the Aeneid, respectively), while Christians have traditionally consulted the sortes Sanctorum, using the Bible for divination. Muslims used the Qur’ān for this purpose, as well as other texts. The dīvān of Hafez (d. 1389/90) was a very popular divination text in Persia. Bibliomancy was widely practiced by the Georgian clergy.

Birthday Book:

A text which provides character-assessments and general prognostics for those born on each day of the year. This simple form of astrological divination is featured in most newspaper astrology columns.

Bodily conjunction:

Same as conjunction.

Brontologium (Lat. tonitruale):

A text which derives prognostics from thunder.


The practice of divination by thunder and lightning.


A staff entwined by two serpents, traditionally associated with the god Hermes (Mercury). It is also the insignia of certain bishops in the Eastern Orthodox and Armenian churches.


A form of divination by which the meteorological conditions of a particular day are interpreted as prognostics for the period of time (usually a full year) which follows. The simple weather prognostic associated with Ground Hog Day (2 February) is a survival of this tradition.

Canicular Days (Lat. dies caniculares):

A period of about 30 days beginning with the heliacal rising of Sirius (the dog star), which currently takes place on July 6th. The dog days are associated with a period of extreme heat and are considered hazardous for most activities.


Divination by smoke, the same as Libanomancy (q.v.).


The practice of divination by means of cards. The modern deck of 52 playing cards is said to have originated in ancient Egypt, where it was used for divination. The complete Book of Thoth, however, comprised 78 cards—the familiar 52 cards divided into four suits of 13, with an additional face card (the Knight) added to each suit to make up the 56 cards of the minor arcana; plus the 22 tarot cards (greater trumps or greater arcana) which were an integral part of the original system. Of these, only the Joker remains in common use.

Catarchic astrology (a.k.a. electional astrology; catarchesis):

The use of astrological techniques to select propitious times to undertake various actions; one of the four subdivisions of Hellenistic astrology.


Divination by gazing into mirrors or other reflective surfaces (oiled fingernails, oiled eggs, crystals, candle flames). An elaborate literature on cataptromancy arose among the Byzantines.6 In the Caucasus, catoptromancy was practiced among the Abkhaz and among the Vainakh peoples. A modern form of catoptromancy is the psychomanteum, promoted by Raymond Moody as a means of resolving grief.7 Closely related to Lecanomancy.

Celestial Equator:

The celestial circle defined by projecting the Earth’s equator outward into space. Because of the Earth’s axial tilt, the Celestial Equator is currently inclined 23º27’ with respect to the Ecliptic (the plane of the sun’s apparent motion through the heavens).


A text which derives prognostics from the appearance of the horns of the new moon on the third and/or fourth days of the lunar month; a specialized kind of calendologium.


A text which derives prognostics from lightning. Essentially the same as a brontologium.


Divination by means of wax. Typically, wax from a candle is allowed to drip into cold water and diviner interprets the shapes formed by the wax as it solidifies. In Daghestan, ceromancy was practiced for purposes of medical diagnosis, using the patient’s ear-wax.8


The final dynasty before the fall of Babylon to the Persians in 538 BC; they assiduously cultivated astrology, so that Chaldaeans became synonymous with astrologers in the Old Testament and in Classical literature.


A horoscope.


The name by which the stella ophiomimeta (q.v.) is designated in certain Russian manuscripts (also Chihir, Tsygr). In Rumanian manuscripts it is called Ţigâra or Çiter. In the Babur-nama it is designated by its Chagatay name Sekiz yulduz [eight stars]. It appears in Turkish sources as Şukur yulduzi or Şükür-yulduz. All of these designations appear to be corruptions of the Uyghur Şükür, which derives from the Sanskrit Śukra (Venus). Other designations found in western manuscripts include Kolo, Aravan, Solomon’s star, and the Syrian star.9

Chiromancy (a.k.a. palmistry):

The art of predicting an individual’s future through the study of the unique configuration of lines on the person’s palm. Christian chiromancers have cited Job 37: 7 (“He sealeth up the hand of every man”) in support of this practice. Chiromancy is a subdivision of physiognomy. Astrological chiromancy employed astrological symbolism to the interpretation of the hand.


Any system of astrological geography, by which climes, regions, countries, or cities are associated with the signs of the zodiac. The locus classicus is Ptolemy, Quadripartitum 2.3.

Chrematistic days (Gk. ήµέραι χρηµατιστικαί):

An astrological apparatus for interpreting dreams, tied to the days of the lunar month. It is found in Hephaestio (Apotelesmatica III.24), and also appears in CCAG 5:3:89-90 (a Byzantine anthology compiled during the 14th century).


The assignment of planetary chronocrators [lords of time] to various periods and sub-periods of the native’s lifetime. There were many Hellenistic and Eastern methods for doing this, of which the best known are the Hellenistic decennia and aphesis [zodiacal releasing], the Sassanian firdaria, and the Indian daśā systems.


(1) In mundane astrology, the two outermost planets Jupiter and Saturn, whose cycles were regarded as determining the course of human history; (2) In genethlialogical astrology, a planet exercising rulership over a period or sub-period of the native’s lifetime.


The practice of divination by drawing lots (Gk. κλῆροι). The Eleven Apostles had recourse to this method in choosing a successor to Judas Iscariot: “And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias [καὶ ἔδωκαν κλήρους αὐτῶν καὶ ἔπεσεν ὀ κλῆρος ἐπὶ Ματθίαν]; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:26).

Clime (clima, pl. climata; Gk. κλίµα):

Longitudinal zones into which the habitable world was divided (seven according to Ptolemy, five according to Aristotle). The climes were organized in terms of the relative length of day on the summer solstice.


A text which derives prognostics from comets.


(1) The calculation of the date of Easter in the Christian calendar; (2) A treatise explaining how to perform this calculation. Many such treatises were produced during the Middle Ages, and circulated widely. The computus literature was associated with an accretion of astrological concepts and astrological opuscula, and helped keep interest in astrology alive in western Europe.

Conjunction (Gk. σύνοδος):

Occurs when two planets occupy the same degree of the same sign (though their latitude may differ). The new moon is the most obvious example of this.

Continuous horoscopy:

Any of several procedures used to assess the astrological character of a specific time or period in the life of the native. These include Direction, Progression, Profection, Revolution, Transits, and Chronocrasis (Decennia; Firdaria; Zodiacal Aphesis).

Critical days (Lat. dies decretorii):

The days when an illness is the most powerful and the patient is in the most danger, counting from the decumbiture, or onset of illness. This was an important concept in Greek medicine and especially in iatromathematics.


A form of scrying (trance-induction) by gazing into a crystal (usually spherical); closely related to catoptromancy.


The beginning of a mundane house. The cusp of a house is the degree and minute of the zodiacal sign in which that house begins (moving counterclockwise).


A period of (approximately) 10 days, derived by dividing the period the sun occupies a zodiacal sign into three parts; analogous to a decan (10º of arc).

Decan (a.k.a. Decanate):

A ten-degree segment of the ecliptic, derived by subdividing one of the zodiacal signs into three parts. The decans were of Egyptian origin and were deeply associated with sorcery and talismanic magic. The 36 decans were sometimes described as underlying the 12 signs; in other words, the decans were primary and the signs secondary (Stobaeus, Anthologium, 1.21.9).


In Genethlialogical Astrology, the disposition of the years of the native’s lifetime into periods of 129 months, which are further subdivided into subperiods. Each period and subperiod is ruled by one of the seven planets. This is a well-known technique in Hellenistic astrology.


The distance of a heavenly body or point from the celestial equator, expressed in degrees and minutes of arc. A point on the celestial equator has a declination of 0º, while the north and south celestial poles have a declination of ±90º. Astronomers express positions in terms of Right Ascension and Declination, while astrologers use Ecliptic Longitude and Latitude.


The day (and moment) when a patient takes to his bed, regarded as the onset of illness in Greek medicine and iatromathematics.

Depression (depressio; casus):

The sign (and specific degree) in which each of the seven planets is deactivated and weakened. For example, the moon is depressed in Scorpio and in the third degree of Scorpio. The sign and degree of a planet’s depression is always exactly opposite to the sign and degree of the same planet’s exaltation (3rd degree of Taurus in this case).

Descendant (Gk. δύσις):

The westward angle, or setting point, where the ecliptic intersects the western horizon; beginning of the 7th mundane house.

Dionysian Cycle (a.k.a. Julian Cycle):

A 28-year solar cycle based on the correspondences between days of the week and days of the month, which repeats every 28 years; named for Dionysius Exiguus (6th century AD).

Dominical Letter (Lat. littera dominicalis):

A letter assigned to each year (A-G) to indicate the day of the week on the first of January (Sunday-Saturday). Leap years are assigned two letters (e.g. BA, FE), the first letter valid through February 28, and the second one valid for February 29-December 31.


The apparent forward motion through the zodiac of any of the five planets, at the end of which they make a station and then go retrograde.

Direction (a.k.a. primary direction):

The most complex (and purportedly the most dependable) form of continuous horoscopy.10 Simply stated, it involves the rotation of the horoscope through the first several hours after the moment of birth. An equation of space to time (known as a key) is used to make this correlation; commonly (following the procedure presented by Ptolemy in Tetrabiblos III.10-11), one degree of rotation is equated to one year in the life of the native (though many other alternative keys can be used). For example, if Mars is below the eastern horizon at the moment of birth, the planet can be directed to the ascendant, measuring the degrees of its proper motion until it reaches the horizon. In the same way, a planet can be directed to an aspect with another planet. These procedures are quite technical since they require an understanding of spherical geometry—primary direction is not just a matter of measuring the ecliptic distance between two points, but takes ecliptic latitude into account as well; thus, the diurnal and nocturnal semi-arcs of the planets are measured and equated proportionally. There is a huge literature on these procedures, with many alternative approaches to each step. For example, some methods combine primary motion (the rotation of the earth) and secondary motion (the actual movement of the heavenly bodies, especially the moon, during the interval after birth). So-called converse directions are also possible (found by artificially rotating the sphere in reverse), though this formed no part of the traditional procedure.


Any supernatural means of obtaining information or answering questions. Traditionally, all divinatory practices fall into two categories: (1) Divinatio artificialis [artificial divination], any procedure which employs objects or natural phenomena to divine answers to questions, including astrology, auspices, augury, portents, prodigies, meteorological phenomena, catoptromancy, lecanomancy, cleromancy, bibliomancy, cartomancy, geomancy, pyromancy, extipicy, hepatoscopy, scapulomancy, haruspicy, chiromancy, favomancy, and astragalomancy (qq.v.), to name just a few. Bouché-Leclercq employs the term Divination inductive to describe such practices11 ; (2) Divinatio naturalis [natural divination], inspired communication which comes directly from the spirit-world, including oracles, prophecy, vaticinatio, soothsaying, oneiromancy, and necromancy (qq.v). Bouché-Leclercq’s term for this approach is Divination intuitive.12


A 12-year cycle derived from the orbital cycle of Jupiter. In Hellenistic astrology, this was the basis of the technique of Profection (by which all points in the radix was advanced one sign for each year of life). In the Far East, it gave rise to the well-known cycle of 12 animals associated with Chinese astrology.

Dodecatemoria (sg. dodecatemorium):

Subdivisions of each sign into a “miniature zodiac” of 12 segments (2º30’ each) or 13 segments (2º18’28” each). Thus, a planet at 2 Taurus 20 has its dodecatemorium at 28 Taurus 00 (multiplying by 12) or at 0 Gemini 20 (multiplying by 13).

Draco cœlestis:

The ascending and descending lunar nodes, considered as a pair.

Draconic astrology:

An ancient body of beliefs and procedures involving the invisible draco cœlestis and the lunar nodes, or eclipse-points (caput draconis / ἀναβιβάζων and cauda draconis / καταβιβάζων). This was a special concern of Persian and Indian astrologers, for whom the lunar nodes attained the same importance as the visible planets. The establishment and elaboration of a formal correspondence among the 31 stars of the constellation Draco, the 12 zodiacal constellations, the precessional sequence of 11 succeeding pole stars, the draco cœlestis, and the planetary nodes, forms the foundation of the draconic system.13 The establishment of a correlation between the north celestial pole and the north ecliptic pole results in an esoteric correspondence between the eighth and ninth celestial spheres.


The celestial circle defined by the annual motion of the sun through the heavens; the signs of the zodiac divide the ecliptic circle into 12 segments.


The temporary obscuration of the sun (solar eclipse) by the body of the moon; or of the moon (lunar eclipse) by the shadow of the earth. An eclipse can occur only at syzygy (new moon or full moon), when the moon is near one of its nodes.

Egyptian days (Lat. dies Aegyptiaci):

Various lists of unlucky days, probably of Egyptian origin; the original list comprised two days in each lunar month. These became the dies nefasti of the Roman calendar, on which the Senate could do no official business. Also known as dies maledicti [accursed days].

Epact of the Moon (Lat. epacta lunae):

The age of the moon in days on the day of the vernal equinox (Julian calendar) or on January 1 (Gregorian calendar). The epact may vary from 1 to 30.


An astrological text that gives prognostics for a given year based on the epact of the moon for that year.

Ephemeris (pl. ephemerides):

A set of tables indicating the ecliptic longitude and latitude of each of the planets, day by day.

Equinoctial Points:

The two points (0 Aries 00 and 0 Libra 00) where the ecliptic crosses the Celestial Equator.


The moment when the sun crosses the Celestial Equator. The vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring; the autumnal equinox marks the beginning of autumn. On these occasions the length of day and night are approximately equal.


The sign (and specific degree) in which each of the seven planets is activated and empowered. For example, the moon is exalted in Taurus and in the third degree of Taurus.

Extipicy (Lat. extipicium):

Divination by examining the entrails (especially the liver) of a sacrificial victim. This was a very important practice going back to Mesopotamian times, and was also extensively cultivated by the Etruscans.


Nearly synonymous with the decans (decanates), or thirds of the zodiacal signs. The term face is used with reference to the planetary rulership of each of these ten-degree segments of the ecliptic. The faces were an important feature of the Hellenistic astrological system and references to this doctrine are even found in papyrus fragments,14 while the Egyptian decans were seldom referenced.


The practice of divination using beans, particularly associated with the Abkhaz and Ubykh peoples of the Northwest Caucasus. It is also practiced in Russia, Eastern Europe, and among the Turkic peoples of Central Asia.

Firdaria (sg. firdar):

In Genethlialogical Astrology, the disposition of the years of the native’s lifetime into nine unequal periods (ranging from two to eleven years), each of which is again divided into seven equal subperiods. The major periods are assigned to the seven planets and the two lunar nodes, while the subperiods are assigned to the seven planets only. This technique is of Persian (Magian) origin.

Genethlialogical astrology (a.k.a. natal astrology):

The analysis of the horoscope of the birth of an individual, with a view to predicting the events and circumstances of his or her life. This is the best-known application of astrology and is one of the four subdivisions of Hellenistic astrology.


(1) Astrological geomancy: a complex form of divination of Arabian origin. A series of random marks on paper or sand is used to generate a pseudo-horoscope, which is then analyzed accordgin to the usual astrological principles; (2) Topographical geomancy: the analysis of landscape and geographic features, often with reference to astrological principles. Such procedures are used to identify suitable locations for temples, cemeteries, and buildings, to locate water, minerals, or buried treasure, and to determine the loci of spirit manifestations. Topographical geomancy is closely associated with Tibetan and Mongolian astrology, and is connected to the Chinese art of feng shui.

Golden Number (Lat. numerus aureus):

in the Computus literature, a number assigned to each year by dividing the year by 19 and then adding one to the remainder. This number identifies the position of the year within the 19-year Metonic Cycle.


A text which derives prognostics from the appearance of haloes around the sun or moon.15

Haruspicy (Lat. haruspicium):

Divination through inspection of the entrails (especially the liver) of sacrificed animals; synonymous with extipicy.

Heliacal rising:

Autolycus (De ortibus et occasibus I.i) defines a true morning rising “whenever the star rises together with the sun,” and a true evening rising “whenever the star rises while the sun sets.” He defines an apparent morning rising “whenever a star for the first time is seen rising before the sun rises” and an apparent evening rising “whenever the star for the last time is seen rising after the sun has set.” Autolycus further states ( that it is five months from a star’s morning rising to its evening rising, and five months from its morning setting to its evening setting.

Heliacal setting:

Autolycus (De ortibus et occasibus I.i) defines a true morning setting “whenever the star sets while the sun rises,” and a true evening setting “whenever the star sets while the sun sets.” He defines an apparent morning setting “whenever a star for the first time is seen setting before the sun rises” and an apparent evening setting “whenever the star for the last time is seen setting after the sun has set.”


A text which presents a list of days (e.g. fortunate or unfortunate, suitable or unsuitable for business). Well-known examples include the dies Aegyptiaci and the Roman dies fasti and dies nefasti.


Divination by examining anomalies in the liver of a sacrificial victim; the most important subdivision of haruspicy.

Horns of the moon:

The points of the crescent moon, which are always turned away from the sun. The appearance of the moon’s horns (i.e. their sharpness, obscurity, color, orientation) during the first few days of the new moon’s visibility were believed to presage the weather for the month to come. Such weather-divination by the horns of the moon goes back to ancient Mesopotamia.


A representation of the configuration of the heavens in chart-form, including the positions of the planets and luminaries, the rising degree, and the mundane houses. Such charts are the basis of Horoscopic Astrology.

Horoscopic astrology:

The most important subdivision of Mathematical Astrology; a horoscope is erected to represent the configuration of the heavens at a specific moment in time, and is then interpreted to reveal the dynamics of that moment and to make prognostications about the future.


Divination (scrying) by gazing into glass; a species of catoptromancy. Hyalomancy was practiced among the Vainakh peoples of the Caucasus.


Divination (scrying) by gazing into water; essentially the same as lecanomancy.

Hypothetical planets:

Any of various invisible moving points along the ecliptic, with or without latitude, whose positions are mathematically derived. The best-known example of this is the lunar nodes (Caput draconis and Cauda draconis), which in Sassanian and Indian astrology are comparable to planets in importance. Other examples include the Gôčihr, Mûšparîk, Mihr-i tamîk [dark sun] and the mâh-i tamîk [dark moon] of Persian astrology; the al-Kaïd of Islamic astrology (a pseudo-planet with a retrograde cycle of 144 or 228 years)16 ; the Counter-Jupiter [t’ai-sui] of Chinese astrology17 ; and the Old Uyghur stella ophiomimeta.

Hypsomatic degrees:

The specific degrees in which the planets are exalted (the Moon in the 3rd degree of Taurus, Mercury in the 15th degree of Virgo, Venus in the 27th degree of Pisces, the Sun in the 19th degree of Aries, Mars in the 28th degree of Capricorn, Jupiter in the 15th degree of Cancer, Saturn in the 21st degree of Libra). Their depressions are the degrees diametrically opposite. This astrological doctrine is of late Babylonian origin. It was used by Balbillus in an elaborate procedure to determine the length of life.

Iatromathematics (a.k.a. medical astrology):

The application of catarchic and interrogatory principles to the practice of medicine, with a view to diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy. Important concepts of medical astrology include melothesia (a system of astrological correspondences to various parts of the body, used to identify the seat of the illness); and the doctrine of dies decretorii [critical days], used in prognosis and treatment. Important texts on iatromathematics include Dorotheus (Carmen astrologicum v.37-41); Ptolemy (Tetrabiblos III.12), Vettius Valens (Anthologiae II.37), Maximus (De inceptionibus vi, vii), the Prognostica de decubitu and De diebus decretoriis of Galen; an important later contribution to iatromathematics is the De gradibus of al-Kindī (ca. 801-873). The study of astrology remained an important part of medical training as late as the 18th century.

Imum Coeli (I.C.):

The angle beneath the earth, beginning of the 4th mundane house.


The practice of spending the night in a temple or other sacred space, in order to receive guidance through dreams. This was an important means of divination among the Vainakh peoples of the Caucasus.


The entrance of any heavenly body into any subdivision of the Zodiac (such as a quadrant, zodiacal sign, decan, or term). The best known of these are the sun’s ingresses into the four quadrants (the summer and winter solstices, the vernal and autumnal equinoxes).

Interrogational astrology (a.k.a. horary astrology):

A complex method of astrological divination which uses an actual horoscope to provide answers to specific questions about the past, present, or future; one of the four subdivisions of Hellenistic astrology.


A text which derives prognostics from rainbows.


The distance of a planet north or south of the ecliptic, measured in degrees. All planets except the sun have latitude.


Divination (scrying) by gazing into liquid in a cup; closely related to catoptromancy. According to the Scriptures, Joseph practiced this form of divination (Gen. 44:5, 15).

Libanomancy (a.k.a. capnomancy):

Divination by means of smoke, especially the smoke rising from incense; this may involve interpreting patterns seen in smoke or examining the manner and direction in which smoke rises.


Divination by gazing into a stone; closely related to catoptromancy.


The position of a planet along the ecliptic circle, measured in degrees from the first degree of Aries. Longitude is usually given in terms of zodiacal signs; thus, an ecliptic latitude of 215º30’ is expressed as 5 Scorpio 30 (since Scorpio is the 8th sign, each sign comprising 30º).

Lots (Lat. partes; Gk. κλῆροι):

Points along the ecliptic derived by adding the distance between two planets to the Ascendant (or some other starting-point). These lots function as hypothetical planets and each is associated with some specific aspect of human life. For example, the pars fortunae [lot of fortune] is derived by taking the distance from the sun to the moon (counterclockwise) and adding that distance to the Ascendant. Thus, in a horoscope with sun at 23 Sagittarius 45 (263º45’), moon at 16 Scorpio 14 (226º14’), and Ascendant at 3 Pisces 24 (333º24’), the distance from sun to moon (going counterclockwise) is 322º29’. Adding this to the Ascendant gives the pars fortunae at 295º53’ (25 Capricorn 53). The Hellenistic system employed seven principal lots. The Arabs greatly emphasized the lots, increasing their number to over 100.

Luminaries (Geo. mnatobi):

The sun and moon.

Lunar mansions (Arab. manāzil, sg. manzil):

Division of the ecliptic into 28 segments of 12º51’07”, representing the average distance the moon travels in one day. This lunar zodiac was used alongside the better-known solar zodiac (12 signs). Some writers begin the series of mansions with the first degree of Aries, while others adjust it for precession so that the manāzil function as a sidereal zodiac. The Arabian manāzil, the Indian system of 27 nakṣatras, and the Chinese system of 28 Hsiu all probably have a common origin; scholars are sharply divided as to whether the original system arose in Babylon, India, or China.18

LunarMaria (sg. mare):

The dark plains visible on the moon’s surface, formerly believed to be seas.

Lunar occultation:

A visual phenomenon which occurs when the disk of the moon passes in front of a planet or star, so that it is temporarily hidden from view. This occurs about six times per year, on the average.19 Michael Molnar argues quite convincingly that the birth of Christ was signaled by a lunar occultation of Jupiter on 17 April, 6 BC.20

Lunary (Lat. lunarium, also lunare; pl. lunaria; Greek σεληνοδρόµιον; Georgian samtvario):

An astrological text providing a set of recommendations, warnings, or prognostications associated with each lunar day (beginning with the new moon). Such texts were prevalent in Western Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.


A new moon, seen as the start of a new lunar cycle; also, the cycle itself (29.53 days).

Magi (Gk. µάγοι, from Old Persian maguš):

The Zoroastrian priestly class; along with the Zoroastrian scriptures and cultic practices, the Magi concerned themselves with astrology, especially Mundane Astrology, which they developed to a high degree of sophistication. The biblical account of the Magi (Matthew 2) clearly reflects these concerns; indeed, the passage includes several technical terms (e.g. ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ [in its heliacal rising]; ἔστη ἔπανω [made a station]) specifically associated with astrology. In Classical literature, the word magus was practically synonymous with “astrologer” or “wonder-worker,” from which the modern word “magic.” This usage is reflected in the two other New Testament occurrences of the term (Acts 8:9, 11; 13:8).


Saturn and Mars (the greater malefic and lesser malefic).

Mathematical astrology:

The complex of highly developed techniques (involving the use of spherical trigonometry, ephemerides, tables of houses, and elaborate interpretive rules) which first arose in late Babylonian times and was further developed in Hellenistic Egypt, in India, in Zoroastrian Persia, in the Islamic Near East, and in Christian Mediaeval Europe. It is to be distinguished from Popular Astrology (Laienastrologie).

Medium Coeli (M.C.):

The Midheaven, or angle above the earth, beginning of the 10th mundane house.


The association of parts of the human body with each of the twelve zodiacal signs, with Aries ruling the head, Taurus the neck, Gemini the shoulders and arms, Cancer the chest, Leo the sides and shoulderblades, Virgo the belly, Libra the hips, Scorpio the genitalia, Sagittarius the thighs, Capricorn the knees, Aquarius the shins, and Pisces the feet (Manilius, Astronomica 2.453-465). The doctrine of melothesia is also found in Ptolemy (Tetrabiblos 3.12), in Firmicus Maternus (Mathesis 2.24), and in Sextus Empiricus (Adversus mathematicos 5.21-22). This is an important concept in Medical Astrology.


Divination from the lines on a person’s forehead. This is a subdivision of physiognomy.

Meteorological astrology:

Various methods of predicting the weather by astrological means or through correlations between meteorological and celestial phenomena. Such practices gave rise to the parapegmata of the ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as the later almanac literature.


A text which derives prognostics from shooting stars.


The study of weather and related phenomena, usually with a view to prediction. In ancient times, meteorology was closely associated with the study of celestial phenomena, and no distinction was made between atmospheric phenomena and such celestial phenomena as comets, metors, and eclipses.

Metonic Cycle:

A cycle of 19 solar years (235 lunations), after which the sun and moon return to the same degrees they occupied initially.

Military astrology:

A subdivision of Catarchic astrology, concerning itself with military matters.

Mundane astrology (a.k.a. general astrology):

The application of astrological principles to the analysis and prediction of political and historical events, wars, weather, agriculture, and epidemics. This is the oldest and most important of the four subdivisions of Hellenistic astrology.

Mundane houses:

Division of the 360 degrees of the ecliptic circle into subdivisions (usually 12 in number), each of which is associated with various aspects of human life.

Mutual planetary occultation:

A visual phenomenon which occurs when one of the five visible planets passes in front of another, briefly hiding it from view. Because of the small size of the planetary disks and the precise alignment necessary for an occultation to occur, such events are extremely rare. The most recent one (an occultation of Jupiter by Venus) occurred on 3 January 1818. The next one (also of Jupiter by Venus) will occur on 22 November 2065.21 Occultations of Saturn by Jupiter are the rarest, occurring only once every 4000 years on the average; the next one (and the first in recorded history) will occur on 18 June 7541.22

Nabataeans (Arabic al-ʾAnbāṭ):

An Aramaic-speaking people of northern Arabia, southern Jordan, and southern Syria. Famous Nabataean sites include Petra (their capital) and Bostra in Syria. The Nabataeans controlled important trade-routes transporting spices from Yemen and bitumen from the Dead Sea. Their kingdom was reduced to a Roman province (Arabia Petraea) by the emperor Trajan upon the death of the last Nabataean king (106 AD). The Nabataeans, along with the Harranians, were adherents of the Sabian religion. They produced a large and important literature (the Nabataean corpus), much of which was preserved in Arabic translation by Ibn al-Waḥshiyya (early 10th century).


The downward vertical direction from any terrestrial location, pointing toward the center of the earth.


In Indian astrology, the 27 subdivisions (13º20’ each) of the lunar (sidereal) zodiac; analogous to the 28 manāzil of Persian and Arabian practice.


Any of various divinatory practices which involve contacting, invoking, or summoning the spirits of the dead. Such practices are of great antiquity and were current among the Mesopotamians, Sabians, Greeks, Romans, and Norsemen. The famous account of Saul’s visit to the Witch of Endor (I Samuel 28) is a good example of this.


A text which derives prognostics from clouds or other atmospheric phenomena.

Nodes (lunar nodes):

The two points (180º apart) at which the moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic. The lunar nodes precess (exhibit retrograde motion) around the ecliptic, completing one revolution in 6793.5 days (about 18 years and 7 months). An eclipse may occur whenever the new or full moon is in the vicinity of one of the nodes; thus, the lunar nodes were represented as an invisible dragon which devoured the moon. The northern (ascending) node was known as the Caput Draconis [the dragon’s head], the southern (descending) node as Cauda Draconis [the dragon’s tail].

Normal stars:

A set of 31 stars lying near the ecliptic, utilized by Babylonian astronomers as a means of describing the positions of the moon and the planets. The Babylonian normal stars were α and β Arietis, α, β, and ζ Tauri, the Pleiades, α, β, γ, η, and µ Geminorum, γ, δ, and η Cancri, α, ε, θ, and ρ Leonis, α, β, and γ Virginis, α and β Librae, α, β, and δ Scorpii, θ Ophiuchi, β, γ, and δ Capricorni, and η Piscium.23


A visual phenomenon which occurs when the disk of the moon or one of the five visible planets passes in front of another planet or star, so that it is temporarily hidden from view. Occultations are of three types: lunar occultations (when the moon passes in front of a planet or star); mutual planetary occultations (when one of the planets passes in front of another); and occultations of fixed stars by planets.

Omen (pl. omina):

Any phenomenon (good or bad) believed to be portentous of future events.

Oneirocrisis (a.k.a. Onirocriticism):

The interpretation of dreams.


A text which derives prognostics from dreams.


Divination by means of dreams and the interpretation of dreams. This was often accomplished through the practice of incubation (spending the night in a temple or other sacred space). The uninhabited island of Leuce, in the Black Sea near the the mouths of the Danube, was said to be the resting-place of the ashes of Achilles. This island and its temple to Achilles were particularly associated with oneiromancy: “It is also said that Achilles appears in dreams to those who put in to the island, and to those who sail by when they are not far from it …” (Arrian, Periplus 23.1).24 Incubation and oneiromancy were important features of Vainakh paganism.


A 180º aspect between two planets or points (6 signs apart).


A person, agency, or site which functioned as the source of prophetic counsel or precognition. In Classical antiquity, the most important oracles were those of Apollo at Delphi (the Pythian oracle, cf. Acts 16:16) and the oracle of Dione and Zeus at Dodona in Epirus. The Delphic oracle was associated with the inspired utterances [vaticinatio] of female seers, while at Dodona, priests generated prophecies by interpreting the rustling of the leaves of sacred oak trees.


The range of a planet’s influence, measured in degrees. In Mediaeval astrology, the orbs were as follows: Sun 17º, Moon 12º, Saturn 9º, Jupiter 9º, Mars 8º, Venus 7º, Mercury 7º. A Conjunction or Aspect was considered operative only if it fell within the “moiety of orbs,” i.e. the sum of the half-orbs of the two planets involved. Thus, an aspect between Saturn and Mercury would be operative if they were up to 8º apart (4º30’ + 3º30’ = 8º).


The practice of divination by interpreting the flights of birds (see Augury).


A piece of parchment from which the writing has been scraped so that it can be re-used for a new text. The original writing remains dimly visible underneath, and can be read by using various chemical, photographic, spectroscopic, and digital techniques.

Parapegma (pl. parapegmata):

A Greco-Roman calendar which sought to correlate the heliacal risings and settings of various stars with recurring weather patterns. The parapegmata antedate the rise of Hellenistic mathematical astrology, which arose later under Babylonian influence.

Parheliologium (Gk. παρηλιολόγιον):

A text which derives prognostics from the appearance of parhelia [sun dogs].

Parhelion (pl. parhelia):

An atmospheric phenomenon resulting in the appearance of a bright spot 22º to the left or right of the sun, especially when it is near the horizon; these are known in English as sun dogs or mock suns.


Exact; said of an Aspect or Conjunction between two planets when they occupy the same degree of their respective signs; the opposite of Platic.


The moment when an Aspect or Conjunction becomes exact, or partile; the two planets then occupy the same degree and minute of their respective signs.

Periplus (Gk. περίπλους):

A text enumerating the ports and coastal landmarks along the shore of a body of water. Many such texts have survived from Classical antiquity.

Phase (Gk. φάσις; Lat. apparitio):

The appearance of the moon, a visible planet, or a star as viewed from the earth. The phases of the moon are the most obvious example; however, Hellenistic writers used the term in a more general sense. Each of the heavenly bodies (including the planets and fixed stars) exhibits a cycle of angular relationships with respect to the sun, analogous to the lunar phases. Thus, Mercury and Venus each have six phases (two heliacal risings, two heliacal settings, two stations); Mars has seven phases (one heliacal rising, one heliacal setting, two stations, one phase at nightfall,25 and two anomalies26 ); Jupiter and Saturn each have five phases (one heliacal rising, one heliacal setting, two stations, one phase at nightfall).27 Since the fixed stars do not make stations, they have just two phases (heliacal rising, heliacal setting).


Blood-letting; a very common medical procedure during Hellenistic and Mediaeval times, also widely practiced in the Caucasus. In the west, the practice was abandoned late in the 19th century.


The evaluation of personality based on the appearance of the body and face. The principles of physiognomy are presented in the Pseudo-Aristotelian Physiognomonica (ca. 300 BC), in Polemo’s De physiognomonia (2nd century AD), in the Physiognomonica of Adamantius (4th century AD), and in the anonymous Latin treatise De Physiognomonia (4th century AD). Physiognomy was later promoted by Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) and saw its final flowering in the 19th century vogue of Phrenology. A chapter on Physiognomy in Beltrano’s Almanacco Perpetuo was the basis for a Georgian treatise on the subject (ca. 1660). Chiromancy is the best-known subdivision of physiognomy.

Planetary order:

Any of various schemes for organizing the seven planets. The best known is the ordo Chaldaeicus (Chaldaean order), which organizes the planets according to their distance from the earth and their relative speed: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon. Another well-known scheme is the ordo hebdomadalis (weekday order): Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn. There are several other schemes as well.

Planets (Lat. planeta; Gk. πλανήτης; Geo. et’li):

The five traditional (visible) planets—Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury; or these five plus the Sun and Moon (resulting in seven planets, corresponding to the days of the week).


Inexact; said of an Aspect or Conjunction between two planets when their positions in their respective signs fall within the moiety of their Orbs; the opposite of Partile.

Popular astrology (Laienastrologie):

Any nontechnical approach to astrology or astrological divination. Such simplified versions of astrology arose in Hellenistic Egypt, and generated texts in such popular genres as lunaria, brontologia, seismologia, and calendologia, as well as the Sphere of Apuleius. Owing to the demise of mathematical astrology in the west and the ecclesiastical sanctions against astrology in the east, such procedures became extremely popular (as the dozens of examples published in CCAG testify). Modern sun-sign astrology is a survival of this same tradition, enabling anyone who knows his birthday to obtain a simple prognostication for the day without knowing his precise birth-time or performing any calculations.


An omen.

Precession (precession of the equinoxes):

A slow retrograde rotation in the angle of the Earth’s rotational axis. This phenomenon was first discovered by Hipparchus (2nd century BC),28 and was well known to the ancient astrologers, who developed the Tropical and Sidereal zodiacs to account for it. Because of precession, the Pole Star changes over time—Thuban (α Draconis) was the Pole Star around 3000 BC; Errai (γ Cephei) will replace Polaris as the Pole Star around 4000 AD, and ι Cephei will become the Pole Star around 5200 AD. The Tropical Zodiac shifts in relation to the fixed stars at a rate of 1º in 72 solar years. Because of precession, the Tropical and Sidereal zodiacs were out of alignment by precisely 20º02’39.5” as of January 1, 2000. The length of the precessional cycle is estimated by scientists at 26,000 years but is believed by astrologers to comprise exactly 25,920 years. There was much speculation in Antiquity about the Great Return of the heavens to their original configuration at the conclusion of the precessional cycle (known as the Great Year or Platonic Year). The Stoics (followed by Origen) taught that this would trigger a great Conflagration (ἐκπύρωσις), after which the entire celestial cycle, including all human history, would repeat itself.

Prodigy (Lat. prodigium):

A sign from the gods (such as a monstrous birth or lightning striking a temple) pertaining to some future calamity, usually the consequence of a neglected sacrifice or some other offense against the gods.


A technique of continuous horoscopy by which the planets and points of the radix are advanced one full sign for each year of life. For example, if a person is born with the Ascendent in Cancer, the profection associated with the eighth year of life will have the Ascendant in Aquarius.29


Any prediction about the future arising from any form of divination.

Progression (a.k.a. secondary progression, secondary direction):

A technique of continuous horoscopy by which each day after birth is equated to a year of the native’s life. For example, if a person is born at noon on November 20th and a new moon occurs at 6 AM on November 21st, that lunation will correlate with a life-event on August 20th of the following year (exactly three-quarters of a year (nine months) later, corresponding to three-quarters of a day (18 hours) after birth.

Prophecy (Lat. vaticinium):

The communication of divine messages by a prophet. Such messages may pertain to the past, present, or future. The term is more or less equivalent in meaning to vaticinatio (q.v.) but is particularly associated with the revealed religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Maimonides (perhaps influenced by a comparable definition propounded by the Muslim al-Fārābī [Alpharabius, d.950]) defined prophecy as “an emanation sent forth by the Divine Being through the medium of the Active Intellect, in the first instance to man’s rational faculty, and then to his imaginative faculty.”30 Maimonides lists 12 modes of prophetic inspiration, in ascending order: inspired actions, inspired words, allegorical dream revelations, auditory dream revelations, audiovisual dream revelations with a human speaker, with an angelic speaker, and with a Divine speaker; allegorical waking visions, auditory waking revelations, audiovisual waking revelations with a human speaker, with an angelic speaker, and with a Divine speaker (this last case being the unique experience of Moses).31

Proper motion:

The motion intrinsic to a planet, relative to the fixed stars. The proper motion of the sun, moon, and planets (west to east) is independent of the rotation of the celestial sphere (east to west).


Divination by means of fire; usually this involves gazing into a fire and interpreting the visions, patterns, or images which appear in the flames. Pyromancy was practiced by the ancient Greeks and is probably one of the oldest forms of divination.


(1) The four quarters of the Zodiac, each comprising three zodiacal signs. These are associated with the four seasons (Aries, Taurus, Gemini with spring; Cancer, Leo, Virgo with summer; Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius with autumn; Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces with winter); (2) In any horoscope, the arcs defined by the four angles: the first [eastern] quadrant extends from the Ascendant to the M.C., comprising the 10th, 11th, and 12th mundane houses; the second [southern] quadrant extends from the M.C. to the Descendant, comprising the 7th, 8th, and 9th mundane houses; the third [western] quadrant extends from the Descendant to the I.C., comprising the 4th, 5th, and 6th mundane houses; the fourth [northern] quadrant extends from the I.C. to the Ascendant, comprising the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd mundane houses. Traditionally, the first and third quadrants are considered masculine, while the second and third quadrants are feminine.32


In genethlialogical astrology, the horoscope for the moment of a person’s birth.

Ray (Lat. radius):

An imaginary line connecting a planet to some other point on the ecliptic circle, analogous to a ray of light. In Hellenistic astrology, each planet is said to cast seven rays, corresponding to the seven figures or aspects (Opposition, Dexter Trine, Sinister Trine, Dexter Square, Sinister Square, Dexter Sextile, Sinister Sextile). Antiochus goes even further, defining seven lunar phases which he associates with the seven rays.33


The apparent backward motion through the zodiac of any of the five planets, at the end of which they make a station and then resume their direct motion through the zodiac.


A technique of continuous horoscopy by which a chart is erected for the precise moment of the sun’s return to its radical position (in degrees, minutes, and seconds of arc). This chart (also known as a solar return or birthday chart) is predictive of events during the year following.

Right ascension:

In spherical geometry, distance measured along the Celestial Equator beginning from 0 Aries 00 (the vernal equinoctial point). Astronomers express celestial positions in terms of Right Ascension and Declination, while astrologers use Ecliptic Longitude and Latitude.

Rising degree:

The precise degree rising on the eastern horizon at a particular moment in time.

Sabian symbols:

A set of 360 symbols (one for each degree of the zodiac) generated by the astrologer Marc Edmund Jones and the medium Elsie Wheeler at Balboa Park in San Diego (1925).


An important religious sect in ancient Syria, Mesopotamia, and Arabia, principally associated with Harran, the center of an ancient astral cult. The Sabian religion was founded almost entirely upon astrological principles, and shows strong Neoplatonic influences.


Divination by examining the scapulae (shoulder blades) of slaughtered animals. (1) Apyromantic scapulomancy involves the interpretation of the spots or shadows which appear on a scapula when held up to the light; (2) Pyromantic scapulomancy involves heating the scapula until it cracks and then interpreting the pattern of the cracks that appear. The Chechens practiced apyromantic scapulomancy, while the ancient Chinese practiced pyromantic scapulomancy (a practice which produced the famous Shang oracle bones). The Chinese also practiced plastromancy, a similar form of divination which employs the undershell of a turtle.


Divination by gazing at or into something until a trance-state is induced and images or patterns appear to the scryer. This practice is well known in the west in the form of crystal-gazing. There are many other versions of scrying, including Catoptromancy (mirror-gazing), Aëromancy (cloud-gazing), Hyalomancy (glass-gazing), Hydromancy (water-gazing), Lecanomancy (cup-gazing), Libanomancy (smoke-gazing), Lithomancy (stone-gazing), and Pyromancy (fire-gazing).

Sect (Gk. αἵρεσις):

An astrological doctrine by which the seven planets are assigned to two different categories, or sects. The diurnal sect comprises the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn. The nocturnal sect comprises the Moon, Venus, and Mars. Mercury is assigned to the diurnal sect when it is a morning star (i.e. when it rises before the sun), but to the nocturnal sect when it is an evening star (i.e. when it rises after the sun). The doctrine of sect was well known to Hellenistic astrologers, but appears to have originated in Persia.

Seer (Lat. vates):

A person who sees visions. This phenomenon falls within the parameters of prophecy, soothsaying, and vaticinatio but is more specific. In the Old Testament, Samuel is called a seer (rō’eh) rather than a prophet (nāvī’).


A text which derives prognostics from earthquakes.


The departure of a faster-moving planet from Aspect or Conjunction with a slower-moving planet; the opposite of Application.


A 60º aspect between two planets or points (2 signs apart). A dexter sextile is a sextile to another planet further ahead in the order of signs (counterclockwise); a sinister sextile is a sextile to another planet further behind in the order of signs (clockwise).

Sidereal Time:

A system of time-reckoning based on the fixed stars. A fixed celestial point moves exactly 15º in one hour (360º in 24 hours), so its passage through a single degree of arc takes four minutes.

Sidereal Zodiac:

A zodiac which does not change in relation to the fixed stars. The signs of the sidereal zodiac actually correspond to the stars visible in the heavens, as compared to the tropical zodiac, which continually creeps forward due to the phenomenon of precession. Both systems were known to Hellenistic astrologers, and possibly to their Babylonian precursers. Indian astrology employs the sidereal zodiac, while western astrology employs the tropical zodiac. The sidereal positions of celestial points are typically found by adding a correction (the ayanaṃsa) to their tropical positions to account for precession. The sidereal zodiac appears to be associated with the visible asterisms through which the moon makes its monthly path; even in the tropical system, the mansions of the moon are often computed by means of ayanaṃsa.

Sign (Gk. ζῴδιον; Geo. burji):

Any of the 12 segments of 30º into which the ecliptic circle is divided.

Silk Road (Seidenstraße):

An ancient network of trade routes connecting China to the Mediterranean basin. These routes (the so-called Tin Road) were originally developed during the 5th and 4th millennia BC, in association with the ancient trade in lapis lazuli, nephrite (jade), and precious metals.34 In Greco-Roman times, the Silk Road acquired great importance, transporting jade and silk from China. It also became an important route of cultural transmission, and was associated with the spread of Buddhism, Islam, Manichaeism, and Nestorian Christianity. Passage along the Silk Road from east to west took two to four years; few traders, however, travelled the entire length. The Silk Road continued to function until ca. 1724, when international trade was largely disrupted by the political instability associated with the collapse of the Safavid empire. During the 1st-6th centuries AD, an important branch of the Silk Road (the “way of the Misimians”) passed through the Caucasus by way of Svaneti. During the mediaeval period, the Silk Road passed through Tbilisi.


The moment when the sun reaches its maximum north or south declination and then “stops,” reversing its direction. The summer solstice marks the beginning of summer and occurs on the longest day of the year, while the winter solstice marks the beginning of winter and occurs on the shortest day of the year.

Solstitial points:

The two points (0 Cancer 00 and 0 Capricorn 00) at which the sun reaches its maximum north and south declinations, respectively.


The practice of telling fortunes, making predictions, or giving advice. Usually this involves interpersonal psychological techniques such as “reading” a person’s dress, manner, and demeanor, along with suggestion. It may also involve some degree of intuition or vatic inspiration on the part of the soothsayer.


A form of divination which seeks to interpret spasms and involuntary movements of the face, limbs, and muscles.

Sphere of Apuleius (a.k.a. Sphere of Pythagoras, Sphere of Life and Death, Circle of Petosiris, Sphere of Democritus, Circle of Collumcille):

A procedure for deriving medical prognostications by adding the number of the lunar day to the numerical value of the patient’s name, then dividing that sum by 29 or 30. This became an extremely popular technique during the Middle Ages. The method was most often attributed to Apuleius or to some other ancient sage. The oldest version of it is an opusculum known as the “Letter of Nechepso to Petosiris,” found in numerous manuscripts and widely copied throughout the mediaeval period.


A 90º aspect between two planets or points (3 signs apart). A dexter square is a square to another planet further ahead in the order of signs (counterclockwise); a sinister square is a square to another planet further behind in the order of signs (clockwise).


The apparent stopping of the motion of any of the five planets through the zodiac. This occurs whenever a retrograde planet resumes its direct motion, and whenever a planet with direct motion goes retrograde.

Stella ophiomimeta:

The “serpent-imitating star.” This astrological doctrine appears to be of East Turkish origin and involves a hypothetical planet whose original Uyghur name was Şükür. It is described on folio 13 of Erlangen codex 34 (16th century; CCAG 7, pp. 75-76); in De nona sphaera, an opusculum preserved on folio 48 of Cod. Paris Suppl. gr. 1191 (16th century; CCAG 8:3, pp. 197-199, where its inclusion in several other MSS is noted); and on folios 27v-31r of Cod. Atheniensis 1275 (19th century; CCAG 10, pp. 126-129). The star’s motion fulfilled a ten-day cycle which placed it in the east on the first day of the lunar month, in the southeast on the second day, and so on in a clockwise circle, reaching the northeast on the eighth day; on the ninth day it moved to the nadir, and to the zenith on the tenth day, after which the cycle repeated. It was considered dangerous to travel in the direction of the stela ophiomimeta. The Byzantine manuscripts described it as one star and associate it with the direction of the winds. In Islamic manuscripts, it is often described as eight stars, presumably as a result of a confusion of Old Uyghur Şükür (derived from the Sanskrit Śukra, “Venus”) and Turkish Sekiz [eight]. This doctrine is found in numerous eastern European manuscripts and also appears in the second lunarium (59r – 92r) of Georgian MS H-503.

Sun-sign astrology:

A highly-simplified modern form of astrological divination; instead of erecting a horoscope, one simply considers the zodiacal sign occupied by the sun at birth (easily derived from the birthday). This is the basis of newspaper astrology columns, whose prognostics are computed by noting any aspects formed between the natal sun and currently transiting planets.

Sympathetic magic:

Magical beliefs and practices based upon the Theory of Correspondences, by which a natural affinity was thought to exist between things similar in material, shape, color or otherwise associated. The natural world could be manipulated, it was believed, by those who understood these correspondences. Astrology was a common organizing principle for sympathetic magic; the planet Saturn, for example, was associated with the color black, with lead, and with various plants, animals, occupations, and human physical types. Indeed, the fundamental principle of astrology, Ut supra ita infra [as above, so below], is an appeal to this same Theory of Correspondences. Sympathetic magic is an important concept in many cultures. In the Caucasus it is most clearly manifested among the peoples of Daghestan.


Either the conjunction (new moon) or opposition (full moon) of the moon to the sun.

Tables of houses:

A set of tables indicating the zodiacal signs and degrees of the cusps of the mundane houses (generally the 11th and 12th houses, the Ascendant, and the 2nd and 3rd houses) for a given latitude. These values are usually given for every four minutes of Sidereal Time, though simplified tables of houses may use larger intervals (12 minutes or more). Both an Ephemeris and a table of houses is necessary to erect a horoscope.


Analysis of the planets in terms of heat and cold, dryness and moisture. There are four temperaments: hot and dry (Sun, Mars); cold and dry (Saturn, Mercury); hot and moist (Jupiter); cold and moist (Moon, Venus).

Terms (Lat. termini; Gk. ὅρια):

The 60 unequal subdivisions of the Zodiac (five terms per sign, ranging in extent from 2º to 12º). Each of the five sets of terms in a sign is assigned to one of the five visible planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn), so that each planet rules 12 sets of terms. The most widely received scheme of planetary terms are the so-called Egyptian Terms. An alternate system is represented by the Chaldaean Terms. Ptolemy presents both of these schemes in Quadripartitum I.20-21, along with an additional scheme (the so-called Ptolemaic Terms), which he claims to have found in “an ancient manuscript, much damaged” (1.21).

Theory of Correspondences:

A concept first articulated by J.G. Frazer, by which a natural affinity was thought to exist between things similar in material, shape, color or otherwise associated. The fundamental principle of astrology, Ut supra ita infra [as above, so below] is an appeal to this same Theory of Correspondences. A similar idea underlay the ancient practice of medicine (based on manipulation of the four humors) and alchemy. This Theory of Correspondences is the basis for sympathetic magic and is associated with many cultures throughout the world.


The current configuration of the heavens and planetary positions; analysis of transits in relation to the radix is a common form of continuous horoscopy.


A 120º aspect between two planets or points (4 signs apart). A dexter trine is a trine to another planet further ahead in the order of signs (counterclockwise); a sinister trine is a trine to another planet further behind in the order of signs (clockwise).

Triplicity (a.k.a. Trigon):

Division of the 12 signs of the zodiac to correspond with the four elements: Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius); Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn); Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius); Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces). The three signs of the same triplicity are always 120º apart.

Tropical Zodiac:

The usual zodiac used in western astrology, which shifts in relation to the fixed stars at a rate of 1º in 72 solar years. Because of precession, the Tropical Zodiac has advanced by more than 20º from the stars which originally defined it. Thus, most of the tropical sign of Aries now actually falls within the visible stars of Pisces.


The act of prophetic utterance, usually associated with possession or inspiration by some deity. This is the best-known form of Inductive Divination, and is particularly associated with the oracles which functioned in Classical antiquity.


The upward vertical direction from any terrestrial location, pointing away from the center of the earth.


The 12 signs which divide the ecliptic circle into 30º segments.

Zodiologium (ζωδιολόγιον):

A text describing the character of each of the 12 signs of the zodiac.


Stephen Skinner, Terrestrial Astrology: Divination by Geomancy (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980), 2, 11-12.


Auguste Bouché-Leclercq, Histoire de la Divination dans l’Antiquité (Brussels: Culture et Civilisation, 1963), 4:268; [Carbo] “ordered the holding of the consular election, but as the omens were unfavourable he postponed it to another day. On that day lightning struck the temples of Luna and of Ceres; so the augurs prorogued the comitia beyond the summer solstice, and Carbo remained sole consul” (Appianus, Historia Romana 1.9.78; Appian’s Roman History, translated by Horace White [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1928-55]: 3:145.


Bouché-Leclercq, Histoire de la Divination dans l’Antiquité, 4:203-05.


Dieter Koch and Alois Treindl, §2.7.3. The Hipparchan Tradition, Swiss Ephemeris: Computer Ephemeris for Developers of Astrological Software, Astrodienst AG, 1997-2019,;lang=e#_Toc19109061


E.S. Kennedy, “The Sasanian Astronomical Handbook Zīj-i Shāh and the Astrological Doctrine of ‘Transit’(Mamarr),” Journal of the American Oriental Society 78, no 4 (Oct.-Dec., 1958): 260-61.


Richard P. H. Greenfield, “A Contribution to the Study of Palaeologan Magic,” in Byzantine Magic, ed. Henry Maguire (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1995), 146-47.


Christopher M. Moreman, Beyond the Threshold: Afterlife Beliefs and Experiences in World Religions (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008), 201; “The future of an individual is seen, with all its coming events marshalled in order, in a magic mirror placed under the ray of certain constellations” (H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: A Facsimile of the Original Edition of 1888 [Los Angeles: Theosophy Co., 1947], 2.179.


Chenciner, 1997, 87.


William F. Ryan, The Bathhouse at Midnight: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia [University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999), 396; Geoffrey L. Lewis, “The Eight Stars That Never Were,” Erdem: Atatürk Kultur Merkezi Dergisi 3, no. 9 (1987): 816.


Assuming that the birth-time is known (or rectified) to within four minutes, Rumen Kolev has established that the average efficiency of these directions (of all types) is 51.43% in terms of their correspondence to actual life events; and has discovered that directions to the angles (whether calculated in mundo or in zodiaco) will correspond to major life-events with an efficiency of 95%. (Rumen Kolev, Primary Directions II: Classic Placidian Interplanetary Directions [Varna: “Zenith” Publishing House, n.d., 56]). When used in conjunction with degree-based continuous profection in mundo and other techniques, primary direction becomes an even more formidable tool.


Bouché-Leclercq, Histoire de la Divination dans l’Antiquité, 1:109.r


Bouché-Leclercq, Histoire de la Divination dans l’Antiquité, 1:107; cf. Cicero, De divinatione 1.6.12.


“Il va sans dire que la constellation du dragon, qui s’étend à travers le pôle de l’ écliptique, représente le même monstre” (Willy Hartner, Oriens-Occidens: Ausgewählte Schriften zur Wissenschafts- und Kulturgeschichte. Festschrift zum 60. Geburtstag [Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1968], 271-72); Cf. H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: A Facsimile of the Original Edition of 1888 (Los Angeles: Theosophy Co., 1947), 1.409-11, 2.32, 2.332, 2.352-57, 2.368, 2.400, 2.432-33, 2.505, 2.539, 2.786.


E.g.M. W. Haslam et al. (ed.), The Oxyrrhynchus Papyri, vol. 65 (London: The Egypt Exploration Society, 1998), 149.


Ryan gives an interesting 18th-century Russian example (Ryan, The Bathhouse at Midnight, 134).


Otto Neugebauer, “Notes on Al-Kaid,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 77, no. 3 (1957): 211, 215.


Philip Yampolsky, “The Origin of the Twenty-eight Lunar Mansions” Osiris 9 (1950): 72.


Yampolsky, “The Origin of the Twenty-eight Lunar Mansions,” 68; Gerrit Bos and Charles Burnett, Scientific Weather Forecasting in the Middle Ages: The Writings of Al-Kindĩī (London: Kegan Paul International, 2000), 20.


Occultation of Planets by Moon: Eight Millennium Catalog, 2 000 BC – 6 000 AD, 2011,


Michael Molnar, The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999), 93.


Larry Bogan, “Mutual Planetary Occultations Past and Future: Their Observation Circumstances,” 1999,


Fourth of July Sky: Jupiter and Saturn, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, January 29 2019,


See Alexander Jones, “A Study of Babylonian Observations of Planets Near Normal Stars,” Archive for History of Exact Sciences 58, no. 6 (September 2004): 475-536.


Arrian, Periplus Ponti Euxini, trans. Aidan Liddle (London: Bristol Classical Press, 2003), 85.


A period of lingering in the same part of the zodiac, near its opposition to the sun.


Six-month periods of lingering in the same part of the zodiac when it is 90º preceding or following the sun.


Robert Schmidt, Antiochus, with Porphyry, Rhetorius, Serapio, Thrasyllus, Antigonus et al.: Definitions and Foundations (Cumberland, MD: Golden Hind Press, 2009), 230, 233-34.


The discovery of precession has also been attributed to the Babylonian astronomer Kidinnu. Muḥammad al-Battānī (Albategnius, d. 929), a Sabian from Harran, also claims that precession was known to the Babylonians.


In his recent book (Gauricus and Henry II—Medieval Astrological Prognosis [Varna, Bulgaria: Placidus Research Center, 2006]), Rumen Kolev presents the results of his work with Profections, which reveals them to be a predictive tool second only to Primary Direction in their efficacy.


Moses Maimonides, The Guide for the Perplexed [Dalāla al-ḥā’irīn], Michael Friedländer, 2nd rev. ed. (New York: Dover Publications, 1956), 225.


Mark R. Sunwall, “The Suprarational Grounds of Rationalism: Maimonides and the Criteria of Prophecy.” Meru Foundation, 1996,


William Lilly, Christian Astrology: Modestly Treated of in Three Books (Abingdon, MD: Astrology Classics, 2004), 1:48.


Robert Schmidt, Antiochus, with Porphyry, Rhetorius, Serapio, Thrasyllus, Antigonus et al., 82, 190.


it is very interesting that bronze associated with the Bedeni culture of eastern Georgia (circa 2200 BC) contains significant traces of zinc, while bronze from the North Caucasus does not (Christopher P. Thornton, “Of Brass and Bronze in Prehistoric Southwest Asia,” in Metals and Mines: Studies in Archaeometallurgy [London: Archetype Publications Ltd., 2007], 130). This may actually imply two different trade-routes, supplied by two different networks of mines. Since the Altai region was the only significant source of tin prior to circa 1900 BC, it is possible that the metal-workers of the North Caucasus were obtaining tin from the Altai region by way of the Northern Route which passed north of the Caspian Sea, while those of the South Caucasus were obtaining tin by way of the Southern Route, which passed south of it (Timothy Paul Grove, “Late Prehistoric Kartvelian Contacts with the Altai Region,” in II Saertašeriso Konperencia Tao-Klarjeti: Moxsenebata Tezisebi [2nd International Conference Tao-Klarjeti: Theses of Papers], ed. Buba Kudava. Tbilisi: Artanuji Publishers, 2012); Johanna Nichols presents linguistic arguments connecting the Kartvelian languages to the region south-east of the Caspian Sea and possibly even further east, to “the vicinity of the eastern steppe or the north Mongolian region” (Johanna Nichols, “The Epicentre of the Indo-European Linguistic Spread,” in Archaeology and Language I: Theoretical and Methodological Orientations, ed. Roger Blench and Matthew Spriggs [New York: Routledge, 1997], 128; see also Johanna Nichols, Linguistic Diversity in Space and Time [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992], 313 n. 3).

Christ Came Forth from India

Georgian Astrological Texts of the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries



All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 31 31 30
PDF Views & Downloads 20 20 20