Astrological symbols

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Symbols used in astrology overlap with those used in astronomy because of the historical overlap between the two subjects. Frequently used symbols include signs of the zodiac and for the classical planets. These have their origin in medieval Byzantiny, but in their current form are a product of the European Renaissance. Other symbols for astrological aspects are used in various astrological traditions.

History and origin[edit]

Symbols for the classical planets, zodiac signs, aspects, lots, and the lunar nodes appear in the medieval Byzantine codices in which many ancient horoscopes were preserved.[1] In the original papyri of these Greek horoscopes, there were found a circle with the glyph representing shine(old sun symbol) for the Sun and a crescent for the Moon.[2] The written symbols for Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn have been traced to forms found in late Greek papyri.[3] The symbols for Jupiter and Saturn are identified as monograms of the initial letters of the corresponding Greek names, and the symbol for Mercury is a stylized caduceus.[3] A. S. D. Maunder finds antecedents of the planetary symbols in earlier sources, used to represent the gods associated with the classical planets. Bianchini's planisphere, produced in the 2nd century,[4] shows Greek personifications of planetary gods charged with early versions of the planetary symbols: Mercury has a caduceus; Venus has, attached to her necklace, a cord connected to another necklace; Mars, a spear; Jupiter, a staff; Saturn, a scythe; the Sun, a circlet with rays radiating from it; and the Moon, a headdress with a crescent attached.[5] A diagram in Johannes Kamateros' 12th century Compendium of Astrology shows the Sun represented by the circle with a ray, Jupiter by the letter zeta (the initial of Zeus, Jupiter's counterpart in Greek mythology), Mars by a shield crossed by a spear, and the remaining classical planets by symbols resembling the modern ones, without the cross-mark seen in modern versions of the symbols.[5] The modern sun symbol, pictured as a circle with a dot (☉), first appeared in the Renaissance.[2]

Symbols for Uranus and Neptune were created shortly after their discovery. For Uranus, two variant symbols are seen. One symbol, Uranus, invented by J. G. Köhler and refined by Bode, was intended to represent the newly discovered metal platinum; since platinum, sometimes confused with white gold, was found by chemists mixed with iron, the symbol for platinum combines the alchemical symbols for iron, ♂, and gold, ☉.[6][7] Another symbol, Uranus, was suggested by Lalande in 1784. In a letter to Herschel, Lalande described it as "un globe surmonté par la première lettre de votre nom" ("a globe surmounted by the first letter of your name").[8] After Neptune was discovered, the Bureau des Longitudes proposed the name Neptune and the familiar trident for the planet's symbol.[9]

The astrological symbols for the first three objects discovered at the beginning of the 19th century —Ceres, Pallas, and Juno—were also created after their discovery. Firstly, they were listed as planets, and half a century later, renamed as Asteroids. Shortly after Giuseppe Piazzi's discovery of Ceres, a group of astronomers ratified the name, proposed by the discoverer, and chose the sickle as a symbol of the planet.[10] The symbol for Pallas, the spear of Pallas Athena, was invented by Baron Franz Xaver von Zach, and introduced in his Monatliche Correspondenz zur Beförderung der Erd- und Himmels-Kunde.[11] Karl Ludwig Harding, who discovered and named Juno, assigned to it the symbol of a scepter topped with a star.[12]

The modern astrological symbol for Vesta was created by Eleanor Bach,[13] who is credited with pioneering the use of the Big Four asteroids with the publication of her Ephemerides of the Asteroids.[14] Bach's symbol for Vesta is a simplified version of other representations of Vesta's altar.[13] The original form of the symbol for Vesta, Vesta, was created by German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss. Olbers, having previously discovered and named one new planet (as the asteroids were then classified), gave Gauss the honor of naming his newest discovery. Gauss decided to name the planet for the goddess Vesta, and also specified that the symbol should be the altar of the goddess with the sacred fire burning on it.[15][16]

Pluto, like Uranus, has multiple symbols in use. One symbol, a monogram of the letters PL (which could be interpreted to stand for Pluto or for astronomer Percival Lowell), was announced with the name of the new planet by the discoverers on May 1, 1930.[17] Another symbol, which was popularized in Paul Clancy's astrological publications, is based on the symbol for Mercury, with the circle and arc of Mercury trading positions. This symbol is described by Dane Rudhyar as "suggest[ing] the planetary character of the Pluto mind by the circle, floating above the open cup." Although, this meaning is readily debatable due to Blavatskian origins, rather than a properly traditional understanding, such as may be found in the hermetic sciences.[18]

The symbol for the centaur Chiron, a key with the letter K (for discoverer Charles T. Kowal) was proposed by astrologer Al Morrison, who presented the symbol as "an inspiration shared amongst Al H. Morrison, Joelle K.D. Mahoney, and Marlene Bassoff."[19]

The symbol for retrograde motion is ℞, a capital R with a tail stroke.[20][21][22] An R with a tail stroke was used to abbreviate many words beginning with the letter R; in medical prescriptions, it abbreviated the word recipe[23] (from the Latin imperative of recipere "to take"[24]), and in missals, an R with a tail stroke marked the responses.[23]

Meanings of the symbols[edit]

Astrological planets[edit]

The glyphs of the planets are usually (but not always) broken down into four common elements: A circle denoting spirit, a crescent denoting the mind, a cross denoting practical/physical matter and an arrow denoting action or direction.[25]

Name Image Text Unicode Symbol represents
Sun Sol U+2609 Solar symbol (circled dot)
Moon First quarter moon U+263D A crescent
Mercury Mercury U+263F Mercury's winged helmet and caduceus
Venus Venus ♀︎ U+2640 Hand mirror or necklace (see Venus symbol) (emoji variation is ♀️)
Earth Earth symbol.svg U+2295 Earth; a Solar symbol (sun cross)
Earth U+2641 Alternate symbol, a stylized globus cruciger
Mars Mars ♂︎ U+2642 Mars's shield and spear (emoji variation is ♂️)
Ceres Ceres U+26B3 Scythe (handle down), emblematic of Ceres as goddess of the Harvest.
Jupiter Jupiter U+2643 Jupiter's thunderbolt or eagle
Saturn Saturn U+2644 Saturn's sickle
Uranus Uranus U+2645 H in symbol taken from discoverer's last name, Herschel
Uranus U+26E2 Derived from a combination of the Mars and Sun symbols
Neptune Neptune U+2646 Neptune's trident
Pluto Pluto (alternate) U+2BD3 Pluto's Cap of invisibility (the circle) and a bident (the arc under the circle), also a typical attribute of Pluto.
Pluto U+2647 PL monogram for Pluto and Percival Lowell
Pluto U+2BD4 Variant symbol used mainly by French, Spanish, and Italian speaking astrologers.[26]
Pluto U+2BD5 Variant symbol invented by German astrologer Hermann Lefeldt in 1946. Used mostly by those that follow the Hamburg School of Astrology.[26]
Pluto U+2BD6 Variant symbol used mostly used in German-speaking countries and Denmark.[26]

The Hamburg School of Astrology, also called Uranian Astrology, is a sub-variety of western astrology.[27] It adds eight hypothetical trans-Neptunian planets to the normal ones used by western astrologers:[27]

Name Image Text Unicode
Cupido Cupido U+2BE0
Hades Hades U+2BE1
Zeus Zeus U+2BE2
Kronos Kronos U+2BE3
Apollon Apollon U+2BE4
Admetos Admetos U+2BE5
Vulcanus Vulcanus U+2BE6
Poseidon Poseidon U+2BE7

Signs of the zodiac[edit]

Name Meaning Image Text Emoji Unicode Symbol Represents
Aries Ram Aries.svg ♈︎ ♈️ U+2648 Face and horns of ram
Taurus Bull Taurus.svg ♉︎ ♉️ U+2649 Face and horns of bull
Gemini The Twins Gemini.svg ♊︎ ♊️ U+264A Companion
Cancer Crab Cancer.svg ♋︎ ♋️ U+264B Connection to both material and spiritual worlds
Leo Lion Leo.svg ♌︎ ♌️ U+264C A script form of the Greek letter "lambda", which is the first letter of the Greek word leon, which means "lion"
Virgo Virgin Virgo.svg ♍︎ ♍️ U+264D Derived from the Greek letters ΠΑΡ, which are the first three letters of the Greek word parthenos, which means "virgin"
Libra Scale Libra.svg ♎︎ ♎️ U+264E Scales
Scorpio Scorpion Scorpio.svg ♏︎ ♏️ U+264F Stinger of a scorpion
Sagittarius Archer Sagittarius.svg ♐︎ ♐️ U+2650 Arrow of the centaur, aiming to higher realms
Capricorn[28] Sea-goat or
mountain goat
Capricorn.svg ♑︎ ♑️ U+2651 Body and head of a goat with the tail of a fish or face and horns of goat.
Capricorn variant.svg
Aquarius Waterbearer Aquarius.svg ♒︎ ♒️ U+2652 Ripples of water, disruption
Pisces Fish Pisces.svg ♓︎ ♓️ U+2653 Two fish tied together yet swimming in opposite directions


In astrology, an aspect is an angle the planets make to each other in the horoscope, also to the ascendant, midheaven, descendant, lower midheaven, and other points of astrological interest. The following symbols are used to note aspect:[29]

Name Image Text Unicode Angle Explanation
Conjunction Conjunction-symbol.svg U+260C Two or more planets in the same sign.
A circle with a line implying two objects are in the same place (also, the starting point of an angle)
Vigintile V V U+0056 18° Also known as semidecile.
SD SD U+0053 U+0044
Semisextile Semisextile-symbol.svg U+26BA 30° One sign apart
The intersecting lines from the inner angles of the upper half of a hexagon (see Sextile). Also known as dodecile.
Undecile U U U+0055 33°
Decile D D U+0044 36°
Up tack.svg U+22A5
Novile N N U+004E 40° Also known as nonile.
Semi-square Semisquare-symbol.svg U+2220 45° The bisecting line of a right angle (see Square). Also known as semiquartile and octile.
Septile S S U+0053 51°
Sextile Sextile-symbol.svg U+26B9 60° Two signs apart
The intersecting lines from the inner angles of a hexagon
Quintile Q Q U+0051 72°
Pentagon symbol.svg U+2B20
Binovile U+004E U+00B2 80° Also known as binonile.
Square Square-symbol.svg U+25A1 90° Three signs apart / Same modality
A regular quadrilateral that represents the right angle. Also known as quartile.
Biseptile U+0053 U+00B2 103°
Tredecile U+0044 U+00B3 108° Also known as tridecile.
Minus-or-plus sign.svg U+2213
Trine Trine-symbol.svg U+25B3 120° Four signs apart / Same elemental triplicity
An equilateral triangle. Also known as trinovile.
Sesquiquadrate Sesquisquare-symbol.svg U+26BC 135° The glyph of the Semi-Square under the glyph of the Square, implying the sum of them both. Also known as the sesquisquare, square-and-a-half, and trioctile.
Biquintile U+0051 U+00B2 144°
bQ bQ U+0062 U+0051
Plus or minus symbol.svg ± U+00B1
Quincunx Quincunx-symbol.svg U+26BB 150° Five signs apart
The intersecting lines from the inner angles of the lower half of a hexagon (see Sextile). Also known as the inconjunct.
Triseptile U+0053 U+00B3 154° Also known as tridecile.
Quadranovile N⁴ N⁴ U+004E U+2074 160° Also known as quadnovile and quadranonile.
Opposition Opposition-symbol.svg U+260D 180° Six signs apart

The glyph of the Conjunction plus a circle on top of its line, implying two objects are in front (opposed) of each other.

In addition to the aspect symbols above, some Russian astrologers use additional or unique aspect symbols:[30][29]

Name Image Text Unicode Angle
Vigintile Russian astrological symbol vigintile.svg U+2BF3 18°
Novile Russian astrological symbol novile.svg U+2BF4 40°
Quintile Russian astrological symbol quintile.svg U+2BF5 72°
Binovile Russian astrological symbol binovile.svg U+2BF6 80°
Centile (Sentagon) Russian astrological symbol sentagon.svg U+2BF7 100°
Tredecile Russian astrological symbol tredecile.svg U+2BF8 108°

Lunar phases[edit]

Name Image[31][32] Text Emoji Unicode Explanation
New moon New moon 🌑︎ 🌑️ U+1F311 Denotes the new moon or a soli-lunar arc in the range 0°-45°.
Crescent moon Crescent moon 🌒︎ 🌒️ U+1F312 Denotes a waxing crescent moon or a soli-lunar arc in the range 45°-90°.
First quarter moon First quarter moon 🌓︎ 🌓️ U+1F313 Denotes a first quarter moon or a soli-lunar arc in the range 90°-135°.
Gibbous moon Gibbous moon 🌔︎ 🌔️ U+1F314 Denotes a waxing gibbous moon or a soli-lunar arc in the range 135°-180°.
Full moon Full moon 🌕︎ 🌕️ U+1F315 Denotes a full moon or a soli-lunar arc in the range 180°-225°.
Disseminating moon Disseminating moon 🌖︎ 🌖️ U+1F316 Denotes a waning gibbous moon or a soli-lunar arc in the range 225°-270°.
Last quarter moon Last quarter moon 🌗︎ 🌗️ U+1F317 Denotes a last quarter moon or a soli-lunar arc in the range 270°-315°.
Balsamic moon Balsamic moon 🌘︎ 🌘️ U+1F318 Denotes a waning crescent moon or a soli-lunar arc in the range 315°-360°.

Miscellaneous symbols[edit]

Category Name Image Text Unicode Explanation
Angle Ascendant Ascendant-symbol.svg The ascendant (also known as the "ascensum coeli") is the rising intersection of the ecliptic with the celestial horizon at a particular moment in time; it is used in the construction of a horoscope/natal chart
Midheaven Midheaven-symbol.svg The midheaven (also known as the "medium coeli") is the point where the ecliptic crosses the local meridian; it is used in the construction of a horoscope/natal chart
Apparent retrograde motion Retrograde motion Retrograde-symbol.svg U+211E Symbol represents the apparent retrograde motion of a planet in an astrological chart
Asteroid Astraea[33] Astraea symbol.svg U+2BD9
Hygiea Hygiea U+2695 A serpent coiled around Asclepius' rod
Hygiea U+2BDA Two serpents coiled around the rod. (Alternative astrological symbol)[33]
Juno Juno U+26B5 The scepter (of a queen, Juno is the Roman equivalent of Greek Hera) topped with a star
Pallas Pallas U+26B4 A spear (variant has triangle on top)
Alchemical symbol for sulfur (both variants) see also Asteroids in astrology)
Vesta Vesta U+26B6 The fire on the hearth or altar (Roman equivalent of Greek Hestia)
Centaur Chiron Chiron U+26B7 Stylized body of a centaur (the circle is the horse part, the K-like glyph is the human part)
Nessus Nessus astrological symbol.svg U+2BDC Symbol devised by German astrologer Robert von Heeren in the late 1990s[33]
Pholus Pholus.svg U+2BDB Symbol devised by German astrologer Robert von Heeren in the late 1990s[33]
Comet Comet Comet-sym.svg ☄︎ U+2604 Different comets often use different symbols, but the use of comets is not widespread in mainstream astrology (emoji variation is ☄️)
Dwarf planet Eris Eris An Eye of Providence; proposed by astrologer Zane B. Stein[34]
Eris U+2BF0 The Hand of Eris; also used non-astrologically by Discordians[34]
Eris Apple of Discord[35]
Eris In use by astrologers in Poland and by the astrology software Urania[34][36]
Eris U+2BF1 Based on the symbols for Pluto, Mars, and Venus; proposed by Henry Seltzer and used in Time Passages[34][37]
Haumea Haumea Combination of the Hawaiian petroglyphs for woman and birthchild, as Haumea was the goddess of them.[38]
Makemake Makemake Engraved face of the Rapa Nui god Makemake [38]
Hypothetical Planet Proserpina Astrological symbol for the hypothetical planet Proserpina.svg U+2BD8 Object and symbol are unrelated to the asteroid 26 Proserpina.[33]
Transpluto[33] Astrological symbol for the hypothetical planet Transpluto.svg U+2BD7
Lot Lot of fortune Partoffortune-symbol.svg U+2297 Glyph for planet Earth rotated 45 degrees.
Lunar apogee Black Moon Lilith Lilith symbol.svg U+26B8 The traditional Black Moon Lilith is the position of the mean lunar apogee as measured from the geocenter; variants of the Black Moon include replacing the mean orbit with a "true" osculating orbit or with an interpolated orbit; charting the empty focus of the Moon's orbit instead of the apogee; and measuring the desired point's barycentric or topocentric position instead of its geocentric position.[39]
True or Osculating Black Moon Lilith True Black Moon Lilith.svg U+2BDE Variant used for the calculated (as opposed to mean) position.[33]
White Moon Selena Astrological symbol for White Moon Selena.svg U+2BDD Russian astrologer Pavel Globa invented this to serve as the symbolic opposite of Black Moon Lilith in the 1980s.[33]
True Light Moon Arta or True White Moon Astrological symbol for True Light Moon Arta.svg U+2BDF Similar to White Moon Selena but using True Black Moon Lilith instead of the traditional Black Moon Lilith.[33]
Lunar node Ascending Node Northnode-symbol.svg U+260A Not all astrologers use the lunar nodes; however, their usage is very important in Vedic astrology. They are alternately known as the "Dragon's Head" (Rahu, Caput Draconis, or Anabibazon) and the "Dragon's Tail" (Ketu, Cauda Draconis, or Catabibazon). The two nodes together are most commonly referred to simply as the nodal axis, the lunar nodes, or the Moon's nodes.
Descending Node Southnode-symbol.svg U+260B
Plutino Ixion Ixion Represents the wheel to which Zeus bound Ixion according to Greek mythology, as a punishment in Tartarus.
Scattered disk object Typhon Typhon Simplified representation of a hurricane, as in Greek mythology Typhon was a divine monster that could create hurricanes with his wings
Small body Quaoar Quaoar Sharp rock art of the Tongva people, in whose mythology it is present the creator god Quaoar, and the letter Q and a canoe.[38]
Sedna Sedna U+2BF2 It consists of the symbols of the Inuktitut syllabics for 'sa' and 'n', since in this language Sedna is written as 'Sanna' (ᓴᓐᓇ). Besides, it resembles the shape of a marine animal leaping from the water, in alussion to the myth of Sedna, the Inuit sea goddess.[38]
Alchemical 'Three primes' Zodiacal modalities:
Mercury symbol.svg U+263F Western astrological symbolism has common early origin with alchemical shorthand glyphs, and planetary divination has long been held in association with alchemy's symbols; the three primes of Paracelsus have been associated with the zodiac sign modalities, and tendencies of their nature in an elementary way to be construed as being mutable (Quick-Silver or Mercury), fixed (Salt) or be cardinal (Sulfur).
fixed Line within circle.svg 🜔 U+1F714
mutable Sulphur.svg 🜍 U+1F70D

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Neugebauer, Otto (1975). A history of ancient mathematical astronomy. pp. 788–789. 
  2. ^ a b Neugebauer, Otto; Van Hoesen, H. B. (1987). Greek Horoscopes. pp. 1, 159, 163. 
  3. ^ a b Jones, Alexander (1999). Astronomical papyri from Oxyrhynchus. pp. 62–63.  "It is now possible to trace the medieval symbols for at least four of the five planets to forms that occur in some of the latest papyrus horoscopes ([ P.Oxy. ] 4272, 4274, 4275 [...]). That for Jupiter is an obvious monogram derived from the initial letter of the Greek name. Saturn's has a similar derivation [...] but underwent simplification. The ideal form of Mars' symbol is uncertain, and perhaps not related to the later circle with an arrow through it. Mercury's is a stylized caduceus."
  4. ^ "Bianchini's planisphere". Florence, Italy: Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza (Institute and Museum of the History of Science). Archived from the original on 2009-10-30. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  5. ^ a b Maunder, A. S. D. (1934). "The origin of the symbols of the planets". The Observatory. 57: 238–247. Bibcode:1934Obs....57..238M. 
  6. ^ Bode, J. E. (1784). Von dem neu entdeckten Planeten. pp. 95–96. 
  7. ^ Gould, B. A. (1850). Report on the history of the discovery of Neptune. Smithsonian Institution. p. 5. 
  8. ^ Francisca Herschel (1917). "The meaning of the symbol H+o for the planet Uranus". The Observatory. Bibcode:1917Obs....40..306H. 
  9. ^ Gould, B. A. (1850). Report on the history of the discovery of Neptune. Smithsonian Institution. p. 22. 
  10. ^ Bode, J. E., ed. (1801). Berliner astronomisches Jahrbuch führ das Jahr 1804. pp. 97–98. 
  11. ^ von Zach, Franz Xaver (1802). Monatliche Correspondenz zur Beförderung der Erd- und Himmels-Kunde, Volume 6. pp. 95-96.
  12. ^ von Zach, Franz Xaver (1804). Monatliche Correspondenz zur Beförderung der Erd- und Himmels-Kunde. 10. p. 471. 
  13. ^ a b "Asteroid Symbols". Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  14. ^ "Memorial for Astrologer, Eleanor Bach". Archived from the original on 2010-11-30. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  15. ^ von Zach, Franz Xaver (1807). Monatliche Correspondenz zur Beförderung der Erd- und Himmels-Kunde. 15. p. 507. 
  16. ^ Carlini, Francesco (1808). Effemeridi astronomiche di Milano per l'anno 1809. 
  17. ^ Rudhyar, Dane (1966). "PART FIVE: Mercury and Pluto". The Planets and their Symbols. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  18. ^ Morrison, Al H. (1977). "Chiron". CAO Times. 3: 57. 
  19. ^ Randall, Sidney (2006). The ABC of the Old Science of Astrology. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-59605-920-7. ...the ℞ with the stroke across the tail stands for Retrograde. 
  20. ^ Lilly, William (1659). Christian Astrology. pp. 35, 37.  A chart with ℞ by a retrograde Jupiter appears on p. 35; on p. 37, describing the construction of the chart, Lilly says: "And because [Jupiter] is noted Retrograde I place the letter R, the better to informe my judgement."
  21. ^ (Booth, Janet (2005). "Mercury Retrograde". Archived from the original on 2010-11-14. Retrieved 2010-10-20. The symbol for retrograde looks like an ”R” with an “X” going through it, the same as the symbol for a prescription. 
  22. ^ a b Smith, Frances Gurney, ed. (1852). "The Medical Examiner, and record of medical science". 8: 804. 
  23. ^ "Recipe definition". 2007-04-25. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  24. ^ "Glyphs of the general astrological and Uranian planets". 2001-10-22. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  25. ^ a b c Faulks, David (2016-08-12). "L2/16-067R: Astrological Plutos" (PDF). 
  26. ^ a b Faulks, David (2016-03-06). "L2/16-064: Extra Symbols from Uranian Astrology" (PDF). 
  27. ^ Behari, Bepin (2003). Myths & Symbols of Vedic Astrology. p. 155. Of the two emblems related to [Capricorn], one is a horizontal line terminating with a downward moving arc ending with a loop having an extended arc Capricorn variant.svg, and the other has a V-shaped beginning whose downward arc convexing to the right Capricorn.svg. 
  28. ^ a b Suignard, Michel (2017-01-24). "L2/17-020R2: Feedback on Extra Aspect Symbols for Astrology" (PDF). 
  29. ^ Faulks, David (2016-06-09). "L2/16-174R: Extra Aspect Symbols for Astrology" (PDF). 
  30. ^ Rudhyar, Dane. "The Eight Lunation Types", from Your Lunation Birthday.
  31. ^ Meyer, Michael R. "Key to Symbols Archived September 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.", from KhaldeaEphemeris7z, p. 5.
  32. ^ a b c d e f g h i Faulks, David (2016-05-28). "L2/16-080: Additional Symbols for Astrology" (PDF). 
  33. ^ a b c d Stein, Zane. Chiron and Friends - What's Out Past Pluto?
  34. ^ "Chiron and Friends – Eris". Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  35. ^ Bogdan Krusiñski. "Astrological symbols of planets, zodiac signs and aspects". Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  36. ^ Seltzer, Henry. Hail Eris! Archived 2010-09-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  37. ^ a b c d "Symbols for large trans-Neptunian objects". 2013-07-03. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  38. ^ Revilla, Juan Antonio. "The Black Moon Apogee and its Variants". Retrieved 2010-08-20. 

External links[edit]