Last newsletter, I wrote on dignified planets as privileged and that few barriers exist to fulfilling their significations. Planets with “bottom of the barrel dignity” have to work a lot harder; but sometimes their tenacity and scrappy resilience nets incredible results.
Mechanics of Dignity
Let’s get under the hood of planetary strength, shall we? Given the space of this 101 column, I will attempt to give you concise and handy introduction. If you would like to get deeper into dignity, I highly recommend Demetra George’s important book: Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice: A Manual of Traditional Techniques.
Where’s my passport?
When I was learning horary, my teacher shared the valuable PDF below. I use it to this day. Horary is a type of astrology that answers questions posed in the moment. For instance, I can cast a horary for “Where is my passport?!” If I’m a knowledgable reader, I can find the answer in the chart which will lead me to my passport. A significant consideration of horary is knowing how strong the planets are as their condition adds dimension to interpretation. Is that Mercury in detriment in the 12th a bad actor? Are the other people in this sale transaction getting the better end of the deal? Planetary strength can help us answer those questions.
Here’s the chart created by Gregory Rozek. Click on it for the full PDF version.
Let’s break down this chart, left to right, using the sign of Aries (top line):
- Venus is in Exile (or Detriment) in Aries. Why? Because she is opposite her home of Libra. She’s a lover, not a fighter! This is like attending Military Academy when your dream is to join the ballet.
- Saturn is in Fall in Aries. Why? Because he is opposite Libra, the sign where he is exalted. This is like being forced to act very quickly when you’re slow and methodical by nature.
- The third column gives us the sign. This first row is related to Aries. Don’t know your glyphs? Pop over here.
- Mars is said to be in domicile and in rulership in the sign of Aries. He’s muscled-up here and well equipped to carry out his significations.
- The Sun is in Exaltation in Aries. Exalted planets are treated as honored guests. It’s like visiting your parents—if your parent(s) like you and welcome a visit. You’re treated like royalty. Breakfast in Bed. Little snacks appear magically next to your workstation. The water pressure is FANTASTIC. But it’s not your home and sooner or later, you would really like to go back home, with all your things and no expectations placed on your time. But still: exalted planets are well resourced to carry out their significations!
- Triplicity refers to a type of rulership based on the elements: fire, earth, air and water. In Aries, the Sun is the Triplicity Lord during the day whereas the torch goes to Jupiter in night charts. Saturn lends a hand to both day and night. When a planet has triplicity strength, it’s said to be supported by the community. Like being among solid friends and people who have your back. These planets are assisted by their environment. It’s as if their soil is supportive and nourishing as it cheers them on: you can do it… grow!
- Next comes the terms or bounds. Each sign is 30° and divided into 5 sections. The planets here manage those degrees. Demetra George likens them to a school teacher that sets the rules for their classroom and the Ruler of the Sign—Mars in this case—as the principle. That works! Or you can think of Mars as the CEO and the bound rulers as department managers. That works too. Jupiter has bound rulership of the first 6° of Aries, and then Venus takes over at 6°1′. If your Jupiter is in it’s own bounds (or terms), it’s like he’s his own boss. Planets like being their own boss and it strengthens them.
- And finally, decans & face. Each sign is divided into three sections: the first ten degrees, the middle ten and the final ten degrees. Each of these decans—a segment of ten—has a face. The first decan of Aries has the face of Mars. The middle part has the face of the Sun and the final decan: the face of Venus. I always think of Madonna’s line here in Vogue: “Rita Hayworth gave good face” when I think of a planet in it’s own face: it has the ability to show up, to say it was here and to court favor.
Oh boy! This is a lot! And it doesn’t even take into account sect: day or night chart? Or house. Jupiter is more benefic during the day; Venus at night. Saturn is more malefic in night charts whereas Mars is during the day. Planets in angular houses, especially the 1st and 10th, have more emphasis.
Hopefully this intro gives you more of an understanding of dignity and planetary strength. Astrology is like an onion with layer after layer of complexity! Even if you don’t master every layer, it’s helpful to know that they exist. We’re so much more than our Sun signs, aren’t we?!
Next newsletter, we’ll use a chart example to drive these points home. In the meantime, download the Planetary Chart PDF or—even better—print it out and put it in your favorite astrology book.
Image by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels