Tuesday Toolbox 2.8: Essential Dignity

Fashion queen in crown sitting in jester court

We’ve now finished looking at all the traditional planets, but before we look at the outers- Uranus, Neptune and Pluto- we’ll take a mini break and talk a bit about rulerships and dignities…and it’s not just about holding your head high or talking proper-like in civilized company.

Dignity, astrologically speaking, can come in many forms. The dignity it has can be either essential or accidental. A planet without much dignity- whether essential or accidental- is said to be debilitated.

The amount and type of dignity a planet has will determine how much motivation and power it has to act. It doesn’t mean that planet is good or bad (although traditionally that’s exactly what it can mean)- but the more essential dignity a planet has, the closer it conforms to its essential nature and the more motivation it has to act. Aspects with other planets will, of course, make this easier or more difficult- more on that over the coming weeks. A planet gains essential dignity from the sign it is in.

Accidental dignity is all about the placement of the planet in the chart. Accidental dignity (or debility) will give the planet the power to act. We’ll talk more about accidental dignity next week.

Essential Dignity

There are a number of degrees of dignity. The two most important are rulership and exaltation. If you want to know more about the others, I’ll give you some links at the end of next weeks Toolbox.

When a planet is in the sign that it rules, it’s a little like having home-ground advantage. It operates in an environment in which it feels comfortable.

Take the Sun as an example. By nature, it’s hot and dry, ego-centric and masculine. It’s all about radiating warmth, and everybody else orbits around it. It makes sense that he will be motivated to operate as close to his natural self when in a sign that is hot, dry, radiating, and ego-centric. Like Leo- the sign ruled by the Sun.

The Moon is cool, moist, nutritive, feminine, intuitive, emotional. These qualities are enhanced when it is in the sign it rules- Cancer.

When a planet is exalted, or in the sign of its exaltation, it’s treated as a favoured guest, it’s given the good biscuits and the fluffy towels. It feels special and it’s natural mode of operation is exaggerated.

Let’s take the Sun again- exalted in Aries. Aries is also hot, dry, masculine, all about the individual, being first. It’s childlike and selfish. Yes, I said it. It’s about the ego. So is the Sun.

Essential Debility

Planets essentially debilitated, or in the sign of their fall or detriment, don’t work to their best advantage. Its’ behaviour is altered and in it’s unable to function in the way in which it normally likes operate. Like you would if you were staying in a house, or a town or a country where you didn’t feel comfortable.

Example? Take the Sun who is in his detriment in Aquarius- a sign where ego comes second to that of the group.

In Libra, where the Sun is in the sign of its fall, the focus is on the partnership, not the individual- the Sun is unable to act in the way that it is most comfortable. Where its’ qualities were exaggerated in the sign of exaltation, the Suns’ discomfort is exaggerated in the sign of its’ fall.

Notice something? It’s all about the opposites.

A planet will be in the sign of its detriment if it’s in the sign opposite to the one it rules.

A planet will be in the sign of its’ fall if it’s in the sign opposite to its’ exaltation.

Doing it for yourself…

Check out the relative dignity of your planets in the table below.

  • What planets in your chart have the most essential dignity?
  • What planets have the least amount of essential dignity?

In my chart, the planets with the most essential dignity are:

  • Mars is in the sign he rules (Scorpio)
  • Jupiter is in the sign of his exaltation (Cancer)

The planets with the least amount of dignity are:

  • Venus (Aries) is in the sign of her detriment
  • Saturn (Aries) is in the sign of his fall
  • Mercury is in both detriment and fall in Pisces
Sign Ruler Exaltation Detriment Fall
Aries Mars Sun Venus Saturn
Taurus Venus Moon Mars
Gemini Mercury Jupiter
Cancer Moon Jupiter Saturn Mars
Leo Sun Saturn
Virgo Mercury Mercury Jupiter Venus
Libra Venus Saturn Mars Sun
Scorpio Mars Venus Moon
Sagittarius Jupiter Mercury
Capricorn Saturn Mars Moon Jupiter
Aquarius Saturn Sun
Pisces Jupiter Venus Mercury Mercury