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Essential & Accidental Dignity, Almutens

Essential vs. Accidental Dignity

Most astrologers are already familiar with the concept of essential dignity. When you talk of a planet's being in its "fall" or being "exalted," you are talking about that planets essential dignity. When doing natal astrology, modern astrologers often use a planet's dignity as part of a psychological evaluation. Horary astrologers might do the same, but they are far more concerned with a planet's ability to function effectively to bring about a desired outcome. Cladius Dariot expressed this well when he wrote, "the planets do show and utter their force and stength, much more in some certain places in the Zodiac than in others, and therefore are said to be more strong and better fortuned in those places than in others..." In short, essential dignity is determined by a planet's placement in the zodiac.

Accidental dignity, on the other hand, is determined by a planet's placement in the houses, as well as its aspects to other planets and fixed stars. For instance, being angular (in houses 1, 4, 7, or 10) gives a planet greater accidental dignity than being cadent (houses 3, 6, 9, 12). Similarly, conjoining Jupiter is generally better for a planet than conjoining Saturn.

Essential Dignity

Throughout the ages, astrologers have used different schemes for determining essential dignity. Most modern-day horary astrologers rely on Ptolemy's table of essential dignities, as presented by William Lilly, or some simplified derivation of it.

A Table of the Essential Dignities of the Planets According to Ptolemy--D = Day House, N = Night House
Signs Ruler

Exaltation/ Degree

Triplicity of the Planets
Terms of the Planets
Faces
Detriment

Fall

 

Day/Night 0° - 10° 10° - 20° 20° - 30°

Aries

Mars

D.

Sun

19th

Sun/Jupiter

Jupiter

0°-6°

Venus

-14°

Mercury

-21°

Mars

-26°

Saturn

-30°

Mars Sun Venus Venus Saturn
Taurus

Venus

N.

Moon

3rd

Venus/Moon

Venus

0°-8°

Mercury

-15°

Jupiter

-22°

Saturn

-26°

Mars

-30°

Mercury Moon Saturn Mars
Gemini

Mercury

D.

North Node

3rd

Saturn/Mercury

Mercury

0°-7°

Jupiter

-14°

Venus

-21°

Saturn

-25°

Mars

-30°

Jupiter Mars Sun Jupiter
Cancer

Moon

D/N

Jupiter

15th

Mars/Mars

Mars

0°-6°

Jupiter

-13°

Mercury

-20°

Venus

27°

Saturn

-30°

Venus Mercury Moon Saturn Mars
Leo

Sun

D/N

Sun/Jupiter

Saturn

0°-6°

Mercury

-13°

Venus

-19°

Jupiter

-25°

Mars

-30°

Saturn Jupiter Mars

Saturn

Virgo

Mercury

N.

Mercury

15th

Venus/Moon

Mercury

0°-6°

Venus

-13°

Jupiter

-18°

Saturn

-24°

Mars

-30°

Sun Venus Mercury Jupiter Venus
Libra

Venus

D.

Saturn

21st

Saturn/Mercury

Saturn

0°-6°

Venus

-11°

Jupiter

-19°

Mercury

-24°

Mars

-30°

Moon Saturn Jupiter Mars Sun
Scorpio

Mars

N.

Mars/Mars

Mars

0°-6°

Jupiter

-14°

Venus

-21°

Mercury

-27°

Saturn

-30°

Mars Sun Venus Venus Moon
Sagittarius

Jupiter

D.

South Node

3rd

Sun/Jupiter

Jupiter

0°-8°

Venus

-14°

Mercury

-19°

Saturn

-25°

Mars

-30°

Mercury Moon Saturn Mercury
Capricorn

Saturn

N.

Mars

28th

Venus/Moon

Venus

0°-6°

Mercury

-12°

Jupiter

-19°

Mars

-25°

Saturn

-30°

Jupiter Mars Sun Moon Jupiter
Aquarius

Saturn

D.

Saturn/Mercury

Saturn

0°-6°

Mercury

-12°

Venus

-20°

Jupiter

-25°

Mars

-30°

Venus Mercury Moon Sun
Pisces

Jupiter

N.

Venus

27th

Mars/Mars

Venus

0°-8°

Jupiter

-14°

Mercury

-20°

Mars

-26°

Saturn

-30°

Saturn Jupiter Mars Mercury Mercury

Download this Table in a 1-page MS Word document.

As the table shows, a planet can be dignified (in order of strength) by rulership, exaltation, triplicity, term, face, detriment, and fall. When a planet is in the sign of its detriment or fall, it is considerably weakened. When it is in any of its other dignities, it is strengthened. Many competent horary astrologers use only rulership, exaltation, detriment, and fall to determine a planet's dignity. You'll notice the absence of Uranus and Pluto from the table above. This doesn't pose a problem for traditional horary astrologers, since they use the traditional planets primarily, and Uranus and Pluto as secondary significators when Aquarius and Scorpio are pertinent to the question asked.

Rulership, exaltation, detriment, and fall are all concepts covered in any modern astrology book, so there is probably no need to go into it here. One point about exaltation, though: The table provides a "degree of exaltation," but a planet does not need to be in, or near, that degree to be exhalted.

Dignity by Face depends not just on the sign a planet is in, but also on whether the chart is a daytime chart or a nightime chart. Venus in Capricorn is dignified by face in a day chart (i.e., when the Sun is in the upper half of a chart), but not in a night chart; Luna in Capricorn is dignified by face at night.

Dignity by Term depends where, exactly, in a sign the planet lies at the moment the chart is cast. For instance, Mercury is dignified by Term in Aquarius when it is anywhere between 6°00'01" and 12°. It is not dignified by term anywhere else, although it is dignified by Face between 10°00'01" and 20°, and anywhere in the sign in a night chart.

A planet that is not in any essential dignity is said to be peregrine. A peregrine planet is weakened by its "homelessness."

A planet that is poorly dignified can escape its sad predicament through mutual reception. The strongest kind of mutual reception (or "m/r") is what two planets are in each other's home signs. For instance, Mars in Cancer and Moon in Scorpio are in mutual reception: each "receives" the other in the sign it rules. This is a potent relationship for two planets to have. According to Jacobson, when a significator is in mutual reception with a planet that is not a significator, it indicates the help of an outside person in getting out of what he got into. "He may obtain his release," Jacobson writes, "escape a penalty, complete a deal, regain his former standing, and 'get back to normal.'"

Mutual reception enables a planet to escape the debility that comes with being peregrine, or in its detriment or fall: The planet is read as though back in its own sign. Some astrologers retain the degree of the original sign (such as Jacobson), others read it as in the degree of the new (i.e., its home) sign. I generally read it in the degree of the new sign. The planets are not actually in their new signs, and so do not receive aspects in them. But if two significators are in square or opposition, but in mutual reception to one another, it shows obstacles that can be overcome through some sort of agreement or compromise. If they planets are in a sextile or trine (or, according to Jacobson, parallel), the desired outcome is quickly reached.

Planets can also be in mutual reception by any of the other dignities, too: exaltation, triplicity, term, and face. They can be mixed, too. Saturn in Libra, and Venus at 29° Scorpio receive each other by sign and term, which can help mitigate Venus' weakness in the sign of its detriment.

Accidental Dignity

As I mentioned above, certain non-zodiacal circumstances affect a planet's strength, or ability to "perform" within a chart. For instance, certain houses strengthen planets, while others weaken them. Lilly ranked the strength of the houses in the following order: 1, 10, 7, 4, 11, 5, 9, 3, 2, 8, 6, 12. According to Anthony Louis, Lilly derived this ranking from Dorotheus, whose order was slightly different. To Dorotheus, the most harmful houses are (from least harmful to most) 3,2,8,6,12.

Traditional astrologers devised point systems to evaluate the strength of planets (and the Part of Fortune). The table below shows the point system used by Lilly and most present-day traditional astrologers to evaluate the strengths of planets and the Pars Fortuna. This system measures the combined effects of essential and accidental dignity. Dignities/Strengths are added, Debilities/weaknesses subtracted.

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF THE PLANETS
ESSENTIAL DIGNITIES
 
ESSENTIAL DEBILITIES
 
A Planet in its own sign or in mutual reception by sign +5 A planet in its Detriment -5
A planet in its exlatation, or in mutual reception by exaltation +4 In its Fall -4
In its own triplicity (day or night) +3 Peregrine -5
In its own term +2
In its own decanate or face +1
       
ACCIDENTAL DIGNITIES
 
ACCIDENTAL DEBILITIES.
 
In the Midheaven or Ascendant +5 In the 12th House -5
In the 7th, 4th and 11th Houses +4 In the 8th and 6th -2
In the 2nd and 5th +3 Retrograde -5
In the 9th +2 Slower than average daily motion -2
In the 3rd House +1 Saturn, Jupiter, Mars Occidental -2
Direct (doesn't apply to Sun and Moon) +4 Moon Decreasing in Light -2
Faster than Average Daily Motion +2 Combust the Sun (between 17' and 8.5) -5
Saturn, Mars, Jupiter Oriental +2 Under the Sun's Beams (between 8.5 and 17 of Sun -4
Mercury, Venus Occidental +2 Partile conjunction with Moon's south nodes -4
The Moon Occidental, or increasing in light +2 Beseiged between Saturn and Mars -5
Free from combustion and the Sun's rays +5 Partile opposition of Saturn or Mars -4
Cazimi +5 Partile square of Saturn or Mars -3
Partile conjunction with Jupiter or Venus +5 Within 5 of Caput Agol -5
Partile conjunction with Moon's North Node +4
Partile Trine with Jupiter or Venus +4
Partile sextile with Jupiter or Venus +3
Partile conjunction with Regulus. +6
Partile conjunction with Spica +5
[* Cor Leonis (Regulus) is at 2950' Leo in Jan. 2000] [*Caput Agol is at 2610' Taurus in January 2000
[**Spica is at 23d50' Libra in Jan. 2000]
   
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESS OF THE PART OF FORTUNE
STRENGTHS
 
WEAKNESSES
 
In Taurus and Pisces +5 In Scorpio, Capricorn, or Aquarius -5
In Libra, Sagittarius, Leo, Cancer +4 In Aries 0
In Gemini +3 Partile conjunction Saturn or Mars -5
In terms of Venus and Jupiter when in Virgo +2 Partile opposition Saturn or Mars -4
Partile conjunction with Jupiter or Venus +5 Partile conjunction Moon's South Node -3
Partile trine with Jupiter or Venus +4 In Terms of Saturn or Mars -2
Partile sextile of Jupiter or Venus +3 In the 12th House -5
Partile conjuntion with Moon's North Node +3 In the 8th or 6th House -4
In the 1st or 10th House +5 Combust -5
In the 7th, 4th, 11th House +4 Conjunct Caput Algol -5
In the 2nd or 5th House +3
In the 9th House +2
In the 3rd House +1
Conjunct Regulus +6
Conjunct Spica +5
Neither Combust nor under the Sun's Beams +5

 

Here is the table of average daily motion (i.e., per 24 hours) for the luminaries and traditional planets:

Planet/Luminary Avg. Daily Motion
Sun 0°59'
Moon 13°11'
Mercury 1°23'
Venus 1°12'
Mars 0°31'
Jupiter 0°05'
Saturn 0°02'


Almutens

It is only relatively recently that modern-day traditional astrologers have been significantly using Almutens in horary astrology. Anthony Louis did not mention them in his first horary astrology book, and early literature from the contemporary Lilly fans don't use them either. I rarely use them. I have not found any need to. An increasing number of astrologers are using them, though, so it's worth familiarizing yourself with them.

Every house in a chart has an almuten. The almuten of a house is that planet having the most essential dignity at the cusp of the house. There may be more than one almuten for a degree. The almuten of a house is an additional significator. In a chart, for example, with 12° Cancer rising, and no planets in the 1st house, the rulers of the querent would be the Moon and Jupiter (the almuten of that degree). The same degree may have different almutens in a day and night chart, because triplicities have different rulers by day and night.

End of Lesson 7