In astrology the term benefic is used to refer to something that has a beneficial or positive meaning within the context of astrological interpretations.
In practice, the term is usually used in either a strict sense or a general sense:
The Benefics: Venus and Jupiter
1) In the strictest sense, the term “benefic” is usually only used to refer to one of the benefic planets, which were traditionally defined as Venus and Jupiter.
This is derived from a convention in ancient Greek texts where these two planets were referred to as “good-doers” (agathopoios), because they were viewed as providing positive or constructive significations in a chart.
This is contrasted with the two “malefic” planets, Mars and Saturn, which were referred to as “bad-doers” (kakopoios), because they were viewed as providing negative or destructive significations in a chart.
Within this context, in most traditional texts a reference to a “benefic” or a “benefic planet” is a reference to Venus and/or Jupiter.
General Sense of the Term Benefic
2) In the general sense, the term “benefic” can be used to refer to anything in a chart that is thought to have some positive or beneficial meaning. So, for example, even though the planet Neptune wasn’t traditionally categorized as a benefic or malefic planet, some astrologers might say that it has some “benefic” significations, by which they would mean that it correlates with positive events or circumstances. Other bodies or points in the chart may also be labeled as benefic, or capable of providing something benefic, which is functionally just another way of saying “beneficial”.
There is also a concept that is used in Indian astrology where some planets can become “functionally benefic” as a result of ruling certain houses, which means that even though they are not inherently one of the benefic planets, they may come to have some positive or benefic influence on the chart based on their condition in it.