Super Simplified Guide to Common Astrology Terms for Beginners

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One thing that can overwhelm people new to astrology is learning all the various terms, especially those that are referred to by two or more names, to help you out…here is our really simple guide to common astrology terms.

Astrology terms simplified

Here’s the minimalist breakdown of astrology terms to help you learn the lingo.

Zodiac sign/Sun sign

These are the same thing. A specific “sign” (Aquarius, Scorpio, whatever) is assigned correlating to your date of birth.

The zodiac:

Circular area of the sky (360 degrees) is divided into twelve regions of 30 degrees, with each of these being assigned a “zodiac sign.” The circle follows the apparent path of the sun over the course of the year.


The four classical elements: Fire, Earth, Air and Water. The 12 signs of the zodiac are assigned to the elements in groups of three.

Fire signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius.

Earth signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn.

Air signs: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius.

Water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces.

[Fill-in-the-blank] season:

You’ll hear things like “it’s Capricorn season.” All that means is the current thirty day period or whatever are the dates for a particular zodiac sign.


Refers to planets going backwards. Of course, planets don’t go backwards, but they can look that way from our perspective as we move faster here on Earth. Refers to a time when a lot of things using words beginning with “Re-” can happen. Think: Reflection, revisit, reassess, etc.


A system of twelve divisions, each associated with a particular zodiac sign, beginning with Aries in the first house and following in order across the zodiac wheel. In modern astrology, each house has a title beginning with “house of…” In order, the 12 are: Self, value, sharing, home and family, pleasure, health, balance, transformation, purpose, enterprise, blessings, sacrifice.

Full moon:

Symbolic of intentions, plans, works and efforts come into fruition. Can be a time of a heightened emotional state and/or awareness.

New moon:

Symbolic of setting intentions, i.e. “plant seeds.” A time to initiate new things or take on a fresh start.

How do cusps work?

A Cusp refers to the division between bordering signs in the zodiac or houses in a horoscope, where one sign ends and another begins. Someone who is born on a date near the transition of the sun from one zodiac sign to the next is said to be “born on the cusp.” People born on a cusp may have some traits pertaining to both signs.

How to determine a cusp

The “zone” of a cusp is usually a 6 day period, three days before/ three days after around the beginning and ending dates of a particular sign.

For example: Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

The sign preceding Gemini is Taurus (April 20 – May 20). The sign following Gemini is Cancer (June 21 – July 22).

There are two cusps here: Taurus/Gemini and Gemini/Cancer.

The Taurus/Gemini cusp dates are May 17 – May 23.

Gemini/Cancer cusp dates are June 17 – June 23