(redirected from Decans)
Also found in: Wikipedia.
Enlarge picture
A sixteenth-century woodcut of the three decans of Pisces. Reproduced by permission of Fortean Picture Library.

Decan (Decanate)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Each sign of the zodiac occupies an arc of 30° (the 360° of a circle divided by 12 signs equals 30° per sign). Every sign is subdivided into 3 decans or decanates of 10°, each of which is associated with three signs of the same element. Thus, for example, Scorpio, a water sign, is subdivided into a Scorpio decan (from 0° Scorpio to 10° Scorpio), a Pisces decan (from 10° Scorpio to 20° Scorpio), and a Cancer decan (from 20° Scorpio to 30° Scorpio). The uniform pattern of decans is for the first 10° of every sign to be associated with the same sign. In other words, the first decan of Aries is the Aries decan, the first decan of Taurus is the Taurus decan, and so forth.

The second decan is associated with the next sign of the same element in the natural order of the zodiac. Thus, for instance, the second decan of Aries is the Leo decan (the next fire sign), the second decan of Taurus is the Virgo decan (the next earth sign), etc.

The third decan is associated with the remaining sign of the same element. To continue with the same examples, the third decan of Aries is the Sagittarius decan, and the third decan of Taurus is the Capricorn decan.

For signs placed later in the zodiac, one continues around the zodiac, past the Pisces-Aries cusp (the boundary between the last and first signs), to pick up the next signs of the same element past this cusp. For example, for the sign Aquarius, which is the last air sign in the zodiac, the first decan is the Aquarius decan, the second decan is the Gemini decan (Gemini is the next air sign after one crosses the Pisces-Aries divide), and the third decan is Libra (the next air sign in succession). These relationships are clearer in outline form:

Aries-Aries decan, 0°-10°

Leo decan, 10°-20°
Sagittarius decan, 20°-30°

Taurus-Taurus decan, 0°-10°

Virgo decan, 10°-20°

Capricorn decan, 20°-30°

Gemini-Gemini decan, 0°-10°

Libra decan, 10°-20°

Aquarius decan, 20°-30°

Cancer-Cancer decan, 0°-10°

Scorpio decan, 10°-20 °

Pisces decan, 20°-30°

Leo-Leo decan, 0°-10°

Sagittarius decan, 10°-20°

Aries decan, 20°-30°

Virgo-Virgo decan, 0°-10°

Capricorn decan, 10°-20°

Taurus decan, 20°-30°

Libra-Libra decan, 0°-10°

Aquarius decan, 10°-20°

Gemini decan, 20°-30°

Scorpio-Scorpio decan, 0°-10°

Pisces decan, 10°-20°

Cancer decan, 20°-30°

Sagittarius-Sagittarius decan, 0°-10°

Aries decan, 10°-20°

Leo decan, 20°-30°

Capricorn-Capricorn decan, 0°-10°

Taurus decan, 10°-20°

Virgo decan, 20°-30°

Aquarius-Aquarius decan, 0°-10°

Gemini decan, 10°-20°

Libra decan, 20°-30°

Pisces-Pisces decan, 0°-10°

Cancer decan, 10°-20°

Scorpio decan, 20°-30 °

The decans indicate a subsidiary influence. For example, someone born when the Sun was in the middle of Scorpio will be slightly influenced by the sign Pisces (because the Sun was in the Pisces decan of Scorpio); although the person will still be Scorpio, the normal intensity of this sign will be somewhat moderated by Pisces. This modification is relatively minor and is usually ignored, unless one is examining the subtleties of a particular chart. When decans are used at all, the focus is almost always the sun sign. For example, the decans of the planets and the other points in a natal chart, with the possible exception of the Moon and the ascendant (rising sign), are usually ignored.


Bach, Eleanor. Astrology from A to Z: An Illustrated Source Book. New York: Philosophical Library, 1990.
Lee, Dal. Dictionary of Astrology. New York: Paperback Library, 1969.
References in classic literature ?
So counsel'd hee, and both together went Into the thickest Wood, there soon they chose The Figtree, not that kind for Fruit renown'd, But such as at this day to INDIANS known In MALABAR or DECAN spreds her Armes Braunching so broad and long, that in the ground The bended Twigs take root, and Daughters grow About the Mother Tree, a Pillard shade High overarch't, and echoing Walks between; There oft the INDIAN Herdsman shunning heate Shelters in coole, and tends his pasturing Herds At Loopholes cut through thickest shade: Those Leaves They gatherd, broad as AMAZONIAN Targe, And with what skill they had, together sowd, To gird thir waste, vain Covering if to hide Thir guilt and dreaded shame; O how unlike To that first naked Glorie.
It explores the daimon and its relationship to fortune, gods, and lots, discussing the ideas of Plutarch and Vettius Valens, good and bad daimons, the cultural pair of Tyche and Daimon, the influence of Egypt on the Agathos Daimon, and the bad daimon in the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, Jewish, and Christian traditions; similarities, differences, and fluidity between gods and daimons from the perspective of Gnosticism and Mithraism, Hermetic and magical texts, lore on the decans, and the ideas of Porphyry; and the daimon and the lot from the perspective of Plato's Myth of Er and four astrological lots (Fortune and Daimon, and Eros and Necessity).
Still, while many Muslim scientists balanced the four Empedoclean elements with various Pythagorean principles, Abu MaaACAyshar did not simply incorporate the movements of planets, zodiacal signs, and decans with human and animal factors governing nature's behaviour.
C'est dans l'un d'eux que ce trouvait la carte du ciel, des constellations et des decans, connu sous le nom de [beaucoup moins que] zodiaque de Dandara [beaucoup plus grand que].
2001b): The decans and the ancient Egyptian skylore: an astronomer's approach.
Sections discuss the origins of the monument and general descriptions, the king and god, and the gateway of heaven and the decans.
Parker, Egyptian Astronomical Texts, III: Decans, Planets, Constellations and Zodiacs (Providence, R.
Another sub-center could be an astronomy center, where students can research Egyptian constellations, or decans.
makes brief allusion, even though the Seer tells his audience he is in the sky, and that the throne vision describes a celestial throne (at the stellar pole) with the first created constellation (the Lamb, Aries) and four living creatures at four corners facing each other and supporting the throne (Leo, Taurus, Scorpio, Thunderbird), with 24 Decans in attendance around the throne.