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The zodiacal signs' decans[1]

Threefold division of each sign of the zodiac into 10 degree segments, sometimes called decanates or faces. The first decan is from 0-9 degrees 59 minutes, the second 10-19 degrees 59 minutes and the third from 20-29 degrees 59 minutes.

There are different methods for determining the decan ruler but in the system commonly used in modern astrology the first decan of any sign is the ruler of the whole sign. The ruler of the second decan is the ruler of the next sign in the same element, and the third decan rules the sign after that in the same element. This gives rise to a systematic pattern of decan rulers.


  • First decan of Aries - ruler: Mars/ Aries
  • Second decan of Aries - ruler: Sun/ Leo
  • Third decan of Aries - ruler: Jupiter/ Sagittarius
  • First decan of Taurus - ruler: Venus/ Taurus
  • Second decan of Taurus - ruler: Mercury/ Virgo
  • Third decan of Taurus - ruler: Saturn/ Capricorn
  • First decan of Sagittarius - ruler: Jupiter/ Sagittarius
  • Second decan of Sagittarius - ruler: Mars/ Aries
  • Third decan of Sagittarius - ruler: Sun/ Leo

The decans give a bit more flavour or character to the zodiac signs. For example, a planet in the second decan of Sagittarius takes on a little of the assertive quality of Aries.

In traditional and Horary Astrology, the decans are often called "faces" and each 10-degree segment of a sign has a different planetary ruler. The faces are considered minor essential dignities and are the least influential. The following scheme is according to the seventeenth century horary astrologer William Lilly:

  • Aries: Mars Sun Venus
  • Taurus: Mercury Moon Saturn
  • Gemini: Jupiter Mars Sun
  • Cancer: Venus Mercury Moon
  • Leo: Saturn Jupiter Mars
  • Virgo: Sun Venus Mercury
  • Libra: Moon Saturn Jupiter
  • Scorpio: Mars Sun Venus
  • Sagittarius: Mercury Moon Saturn
  • Capricorn: Jupiter Mars Sun
  • Aquarius: Venus Mercury Moon
  • Pisces: Saturn Jupiter Mars

The decan system originated in ancient Egypt, as part of their calendar system. Initially the decans were stars that could be observed to rise at 10-day intervals. The Egyptian calendar had 360 days marked by decan stars rising at 10-day intervals, plus five inter-calculated days. Ancient Hellenistic astrologers eventually dropped the Fixed Star association, and simply divided each 30-degree Zodiac Sign into three equal segments.

See also


Also contains three different versions/ lists of medieval "Images of the Decans" (“Faces”).
Senemut Tomb[2]


  • Barton, Tamsyn, 1994. Ancient Astrology, Routledge
  • Dunn, Barbara, 2009. Horary Astrology Re-examined, The Wessex Astrologer
  • Lewis, James R. 2003. The Astrology Book: Encyclopedia of Heavenly Influences, Visble Ink Press

Notes and References

  1. Triplicity system
  2. The Egyptian ceiling showing various decans, as well as the personified representations of stars and constellations