In recent articles we have discussed topics like the Age Point System, which moves either the Ascendant or Sun clockwise against the order of the signs. We have discussed Aspects through signs of Long or Short Ascension, Sinister and Dexter aspects. We have talked about the Essential dignities, Major and Minor, and also gone into some detail about the Faces in particular. All these details of classical Astrology fit into the Age Point System. On this occasion we want to look more at the Terms; How they are put together and how they work. Because if we want to use it, we have to understand it, and then maybe even we can remember how it is all put together.
Just remember one thing though; While I am versed in classical literature, I don’t turn every pebble and stone in Latin or Greek. Basically, I count myself to be a ‘Sticks and Stone’ kind of guy. That means that a lot of my learning comes from working in the field, using what I learnt through experience and trying to make sense of things as I went along. Hopefully, this also aids me explaining things in a down to Earth, understandable and practical manner. Best of Luck!
The terms are like terminals, fingers, tools and trades. They are the technicians and points of dispatchment in the chart. Planets in their own terms work much as if they were in their own signs. A planets performance is very much coloured and regulated by the closeness to its own terms and the agreement of nature and abilities with the Lord of the term wherein it is located. The terms show how things are tooled, engineered, built – their abilities and design. Their qualities and what’s inside. The terms are the muscle, wit and know-how of a sign, not only the mascara. The planetary ruler of a term is the chief of operations.
Each of the 5 traditional planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are appointed a term, and one term only, for each and every sign of the zodiac. The luminaries, Sun and Moon, being an expression of the divine, do not have terms allotted to them. There are 5 terms within each sign, just like the 5 fingers of a hand. Five wandering planets. The length of fingers varies in size both within a hand but also from one hand to another. On average each term would contain and possess 6 zodiacal degrees each, making up the total sum of 30 degrees as belonging a sign. But some terms expand up to 8 degrees of size or length, whilst others possess and occupy no more than three. The infortunes, Mars and Saturn, and the final terms of a sign are by average shorter and occupy fewer degrees than other portions.
The order in which the planets hold their terms also varies from sign to sign. However, the sequence of dispositions isn’t entirely arbitrary, yet reflects an order of affairs, as they are located and pass from one office to the next (also called ‘ends’ and ‘bounds’). This creates a passage, or an assembly of affairs that in most cases is unique and characteristic of the sign. Normally, the most celebrated planet belonging to the sign, by either rulership, exaltation or triplicity comes in first position. Except in the natural signs, or homes, belonging to the luminaries, where the infortunes come first. This is interesting, because with Cancer and Leo, the domiciles of the Sun and Moon, there are orders of ritual and sacrifice. Let us address this point first; Upon the entry of Leo comes the terms of Saturn. You are restricted and must bow. This is the way within the presence of Royalty. Upon the entry of Cancer and the terms of Mars, there are also defences. Families run on their own semi-royal ratings. There is a blood binding. Blood is thicker than water and Women ovulate and are fertile once a month. This is sacred to the family and protected. Special rules apply. By placing Mars and Saturn as the rulers of the first terms of Cancer and Leo, the malefic nature of the malefics was also mediated in such a way that the moisture of Cancer balanced the heat of Mars, and the excessive cold of Saturn was abated by the Leon warmth. Occasionally, the rules of opposite effects may be put to good use within the astrological.
So basically, what I am initially saying is that the order of the terms within a sign is not coincidental, or else it wouldn’t make sense. This is why we have to examine HOW the terms are ordered within a sign, both to understand the workings of the terms, but also the nature of the sign as a Whole.
Learning the table of planetary terms
Now it is possible to learn the table of planetary dignities and terms by heart. But to be honest, I do have the advantage of having worked with them for some 36 years. And truth be known I used to take astrology books with me to parties in my early 20’s, just in case it got boring, or there was time to read. – But books also followed me up into the woods in my backpack on berry picking and mushrooming. Some of you might find that amusing, or maybe even slightly irregular. But why dampen the enthusiasm? If you are interested and dedicated to your studies, here is a method that could help you memorize the tables of terms with greater easy. My approach is like this:
First get familiar with the table by learning the borders/borderlines within each sign, breaking each line down into a rhythm of 3’s:
6,8,7 – 6,6,7 – 6,6,8 – 6,6,8
14,15,14 – 13,13,13 – 11,14,14 – 12,12,14
21,22,21 – 20,19,18 – 19,21,19 – 19,20,20
Then treat the final division in a slightly different manner, counting in 4’s, because here it’s easier to remember the peaks; 26,26,25,27 – 25,24,24,27 – 25,25,25,26
Eventually, you will be able to change the starting point in your count, beginning with the 4th, 7th or 10th sign. This forces your mind to more deeply understand the positioning of the cardinal signs. It’s funny how things get difficult, and what is the name of the 2nd sign after the 7th or 10th sign, anyway? It’s basic astrology, but eventually you will know where everything located. In the end you may break down your final count to 26,26,25 – 27,25,24 – 24,27,25 -25,25,26 (difficult), but once you have mastered this, the distance is short to being able to do everything forwards and backwards.
The infortunes Mars and Saturn share among themselves the final terms of every sign. First comes Saturn in Aries, then Mars gets 2 spaces – Taurus and Gemini. Then comes Saturn again in Cancer before Mars gets 3 spaces in Leo, Virgo and Libra. Then they alternate. Mars gets the final terms in Libra, Sagittarius and Aquarius. Saturn gets Scorpio, Capricorn and Pisces. In another way; Saturn rules the final terms of Aries. Then come the Water signs Cancer, Scorpio (ruled by Mars, like Aries) and Pisces. Put Capricorn in the middle, which is the sign of Mars’ exaltation – and you’ve got it!
Next step is to note the oddities within the planetary table of terms, the ones that stick out. Venus rules the 4th (or 2nd last) terms of Cancer. It is a one time only! Mercury is allotted the 4th (or 2nd last) terms of Libra and Scorpio. They’re neighbours! The assignment of terms in Leo and Aquarius are identical. The line-up is the same. Saturn rules the first terms of Leo and Aquarius, but Libra, too. This is because he rules the sign by both exaltation and triplicity.
Within the table of terms there is a rotation of order, but which may take some time to figure out because it switches system once or twice. My suggestion is to just play around with it. Get your cornerstones sorted out first – then the rest will hook on. If nothing of this works for you, simply refer to Ptolemy’s table of Essential Dignities, as provided in William Lilly’s Christian Astrology.
The influence of the planets, as the rulers of terms is generally like this;
Mercury – you are labelled and informed, given a function, job or errand. Mercury gets you busy and operative, into the traffic and on top of things. Anything intelligent, involving communication or skills. Numbers, science, mathematics. Small, young, youthful, swift and nimble.
Venus – you are varnished, welcomed, offered comforts and easy. Venus is a point of delight, joy, happiness, accomplishment and celebration. There are social benefits, civilization, existence.
Mars – you are equipped, armed, challenged, strapped up, heated, given a cut, mark, burn or bleeding. Mars is passionate and full of arousal. Often hammered, rusty, broken, worn or torn.
Jupiter – Encourages. You shall travel, rise, enterprise, expand, enjoy resources and opportunity. Jove indicates fine ships and vessels, things that stretch, expand and may be due to admiration. Anything large, ample or spacious. Jupiter will often applaud the occasion, or offer trust.
Saturn – you shall oblige, bow to ritual, law and order. Be burdened, limited, reduced, cut short. Thou shall submit, are committed, matters are guarded, restricted, sealed, strangled, deadened and put to a final end. You have to prove yourself. Ships or vehicles that are old, slow, sluggish and dull.
How the terms are put together within the signs
In first position, look to the first and final term of any sign. This tells you something about the nature and virtue of the sign in question. The first term of a sign describes how the sign is entered and which priorities come first. How matters are addressed. The last term of any sign, and the ruler thereof, indicates how matters end. How they are sealed or terminated. The final term of any sign gives you your marching orders. These are like the final guards and their closing words. Between themselves the infortunes Mars and Saturn share the last terms of all signs. Both malefics exercise an amount of hostility. They test your conduct and take you beyond your comfort zone. Your performance must be in order if you intend to close business with dignity and grace. If not, matters will be expelled and terminated according to the powers of the lord of the term. Mars and Saturn challenge and torment in different ways. Mars fights and bullies in hostile manner. Saturn degrades, disgraces, or causes you to contract or hang your head. Nothing should really be encountered and then left unattended or at a loose end. The final terms of a sign are the exit.
The first term is the introduction to the sign. How are you welcomed, what’s going on? What does the establishment look like? What are the rules? With, in example, Saturn there are rules!
The second term is the follow-through within every sign in the manner of how things are organized
The third term is at the heart, center and pride of every sign. Here lies the benefits.
The fourth term is a place of affirmation, conclusions and a gathering of ends. Ceremonies.
The fifth and final term shows how things are finalized and settled. How the gates are closed. By power and force, poison, weapon or sword, slayed or cut short (Mars). Or by denial, rejection or sentence by law, imprisonment, suffocation, strangling, drowning, hanging or fall (Saturn).
The terms are like terminals, fingers and dispatchment points – departments appointed specific functions and/or destinations. The terms are the technicians, the engineers, the people who know how things work and can do. The terms say something about how an item is built, what’s inside, it’s quality and design – that which is lay beyond the eye. The merit of an item. What it is capable of doing and how it performs. The terms have a grip on things. They all have talents and a planet within its own terms is on qualified grounds.
Both Sibly, Lilly, Coley and Bonatus have interesting things to say about the terms. Bonatus suggests, and most correctly I dare say, that the terms abate malice more than triplicity and face. When a planet is weak by sign, his debility would be much lessened if in his own terms, says Sibly. It gives him a reason for being there, says I. “- A job to be done on foreign ground or under difficult circumstances.” A planet in its own terms always puts the planet on qualified grounds. I.e., Venus in her own terms in Scorpio – a Nurse!
The nearer a planet is in nature to the place of its term, the stronger its power therein, and the more powerfully it will exercise its influences. It loses much of its natural vigour when located in a term contrary to its nature (Sibly). Becomes blunter and more inefficient (Mine). To some degree all planets are moderated, happier and content when in the terms of the fortunes, Venus or Jupiter. Contrary, they are laboured or troubled when in the terms of an infortune, Mars or Saturn – particularly if the planet at the same time is out of sect, i.e., a diurnal planet below the horizon during day, or a nocturnal planet during night. But Jupiter and Venus are fairly well supported within one another’s terms. Mercury takes colour of the lord of the term within it is located. Saturn does not go well in the terms of Mars, because they are contrary in nature, and likewise with Mars in the terms of Saturn. Neither Mars or Saturn are probably up to what they are supposed to in the terms of Venus, because they are more lax, illicit and adulterous than apt and in their natural offices. However, the terms of Jupiter may give them better speed, yet with the natural grumps that follow their character. Coley allowed One accidental fortitude to a planet located in the terms of Jupiter or Venus, one accidental debility to a planet located in the terms of Saturn or Mars.
DeVore goes as far as saying that the nature of a planet in a sign is altered to that of the planet in whose term it happens to be positioned in. The term occupied by a planet denotes that the person it signifies is of a disposition indicated by the Lord of the term, but with no reference to his wealth, poverty or station in life. This is more correctly read by the triplicities, exaltations and signs. From Lilly we have that a planet fortified in his own terms, more shows a man of the corporate (build) and temper of the planet, rather than any extraordinary abundance in fortune or eminence in the commonwealth (Christian Astrology, p102-103). A planet located both within his own terms and in his own sign, his strength shall be even more considerable. In one of my previous articles, we discussed the ways in which the planets benefited from the gathering of several testimonies. It gives a foot in several departments and in this way the person becomes more valuable and attractive for the company as a whole.
In conclusion we should resolve that while the Planets remain the significators within a chart, their condition and descriptions are far more regulated by their zodiacal placement; sign, exaltation, triplicity, term, face, etc. Their location and quality by terms shows an aptitude, build and a manner of approach.
Appendix – Descriptions relating to the Signs
Special combinations and similarities between Signs
1st and 2nd terms
- AR+SG – JU, VE – Adventure, enterprise, benefit, fortune, advance, encourage, enjoy
- TA+CP – VE, ME – Acquire, possess, process, organize, administrate, sort, arrangement, prospect.
- CN+SC – MA, JU – Protect, defend, nourish, grow, bake, cultivate, arouse, internal, from the inside, kitchen, oven, cooker, fermenting, bacterial, genetic
- LE+AQ – SA, ME – As by order and law, office, instruction, calculation, measure, ritual and description
2nd and 3rd terms
- AR+SG – VE, ME – Experience, scout, orientate, observe, meet, gather, summon
- TA+CP – ME, JU – Growth, development, extension, inflate and expand
- GE+SC – JU, VE – Intercourse, interaction, joy, excitement, embrace, bliss
- CN+PI – JU, ME – Trust, faith, belief, acceptance, elaboration, understanding, rhyme, extend, poetry, collection, in-pass, congregation, indoctrinate, gatherings, comprehension, approach, angle
- LE+AQ – ME, VE – Civilization, talent, skills. Science, culture, entertainment, art.
- VI+LI – VE, JU – Benefits, bountiful, fruits, profits, virtue, improvement, humane
3rd and 4rth terms
- AR+PI – ME, MA – Contest, dispute, skills, inconsistency, changes, weather.
- TA+VI – JU, SA – Land, buildings, estate. Harvest, secure, bind, perfect, master, seal.
- LE+AQ – VE, JU – Promote, recognize, reward, award.
4th and 5th terms
- AR/CP/PI – MA, SA – to settle, conquer, break, obstruct, slaughter, finish, deaden, kill and end
- TA/GE/VI/SG – SA, MA – punish, hurt, discriminate, win, administer, control, order, direct, position, use, extract, exercise, utilize, mobilize.
- LE/AQ – JU, MA – To reign and prevail. Resources, opportunity, ventures, victor, growth. Royalty, appointment, magistrate.
Keywords for the signs
- Aries – Encourage, enterprise, break ground, pioneer, to initiate
- Taurus – Acquire, build, establish, sow, grow, form. Clear, improve, tread down weeds, secure.
- Gemini – To circulate, exchange, enjoy. Argue/defend and differ
- Cancer – Protect internal interests, associations and relations, nourish, ferment, closed networks.
- Leo – Abiding to law and ritual offers benefits, promotion, advancement and esteem
- Virgo – Attention to detail will make a difference. Diligence, study and appliance. Harvesting, processing, sorting, analysing, categorizing, isolating, purifying, staying tidy and clean.
- Libra – Ritual abidance ensure social benefits and rights that advance civil measures and society
- Scorpio – Penetrating appearances in the correct manner may reveal hidden and concealed information, open doors to new worlds, release resources, insight or moments of bliss. Therapeutic solutions may correct or improve on experience and put things in their right place, unless resources are recycled and will be returned to the furnace.
- Sagittarius- Though adventure and experience comes learning. Enjoy and embrace while passing by.
- Capricorn – Involvement, assertion and diligence, advances purpose beyond the point of dispute.
- Aquarius – Each Man, his world. Contribution to the collective interest offers social benefits.
- Pisces – Trust, empathy, faith and vision will have to be within reason and come to Earth at last.
The 1st and 5th terms, being the ends on either side
- Aries – JU, SA – the Firmament, Creation and World
- Taurus – VE, MA – material attractions, attachments and turn-over, the carnal and mundane, polarities, the fight for survival, acquisitions, the survival of the fittest/most beautiful
- Gemini, Virgo – ME, MA – commerce, trade, contest and debate, distribution, contagious, rat-race.
- Cancer, Scorpio – MA, SA – protective, discriminating, private, hidden and sealed
- Leo, Libra, Aquarius – SA, MA – monarchy, society, democracy – our hierarchies, customs and rules
- Virgo, Gemini – ME, MA – the trade, contest and debate, daily routines, services, hygiene.
- Libra, Leo, Aquarius – SA, MA – products of society, civil rituals and agreements
- Scorpio, Cancer – MA, SA – guarded, protected, discriminating, private, hidden and sealed
- Sagittarius – JU, MA – exploration, excitement, hunting and sport, travel and changes
- Capricorn, Pisces – VE, SA – karmic burden and call, the need for quality, justness and settlement
- Aquarius, Leo, Libra – SA, MA – monarchy, society, democracy – the contest or race Pisces, Capricorn – VE, SA – karmic and emotional searches, the need for inner peace and balance