5. Dignity

Astrology has rules to determine the strength of a planet. These rules mainly apply to placement. One needs to find the planet’s essential, or accidental, dignity.

In this post, we will look at the two best-known major forms of planetary dignity. I will also introduce planetary Reception.

Dignity that facilitates

A positively dignified planet (in rulership or exaltation) can express its nature powerfully in accord with its radical placement. For example, you would expect a Taurean Venus placed in the 7th house to show someone who has found a loving partner; others are convivial. That is if the planetary aspects to that Venus are not challenging, for if they are it’s likely that the ‘partner’ will have difficult ‘baggage’ to resolve – and may still settle it throughout the relationship. To ‘Know thyself’ is essential when considering relationships.

A qualification –

A facilitated planet can be ill placed. Consider an Arian Mars with essential dignity, and strong. But set in the 7th house where it has accident debility (we associate the 7th house with Libra and Venus – not aggressive Mars), then it can be problematic..

Dignity that challenges

A negatively dignified planet (in Detriment or Fall) has difficulty in expressing its nature in accord to its radical position. Continuing with our relationship examples a Venus in detriment in Scorpio, placed in the 7th house, will show a person who brings controlling partners into a relationship, again this can be modified by chart aspects (consider freedom generating aspect from Jupiter).

A Qualification –

If we go back to our discussion on Mars, then if the 7th House is Taurus and Mars is in detriment is not likely to express the relationship disrupting aggression.

Let’s look at the natal chart of the actor Charlie Chaplin, well known for his need for relationships. Let us see how the relationship planets (Mercury, Venus, and Mars) play out in his chart.

This chart has the 1st and 7th houses emphasised by Dignity. Chaplin was known for his relationships almost as much as he was for this film!

Dignity and life focus

A powerful variant on what we have been discussing is the occurrence of a mutual reception between the planets. Mutual Reception Co-joins the dignity of two planets: one rules the sign of the other (or its exultation)r and the other reciprocates. In Chaplin’s case (above) Mars rules Scorpio And Moon is exalted in the sign Mars is posited in.

So Chaplin was an able womanizer which got him into trouble both in an out of married life. Also, the Sun comes into this complex. Its sign Leo is in the 10th House of Chaplin’s chart, and it rules the Saturn posited there! That Saturn (in detriment) rules the home. It fits well they banished him (to England) from America! Let me give you another example of reception. This time with rulership. Imagine our 7th house Taurus Mars example (above) with a Scorpionic Venus In the 1st house: this combined dignity is in effect similar to have the sign rulers in both houses! I would look at the life focus of this chart to be linked to intense relationships.

We can see elements of life focus using this delineation. Let’s now look at two founders of modern psychology, and the theories that made them famous.

Freud brought a unique, and most controversial, sexual focus into the mental health issues of his day. can we see this in his Venus and Mars aspects? How does his planetary dignity’ facilitate this life focus?

In this nativity Mars (12th House-Thanatos) and Venus (6th House-Eros) are in Mutual Reception. Posited in the houses that have most to do with service and wellbeing, and place in the signs that have most to do with relationships. Keeping it in mind that relationships have much to do with procreation and sex. Freud’s professional philosophy had to do with this. It was germinal to his nature. A solar link is needed here because this was a life-affirming pursuit. We see the ruler of the Sun, Venus (with Mars, Mercury, and Uranus), in this complex (a term that will come up often in the guise of a troublesome aspect).

It is interesting because for most astrologers this 6th/12th placement would not be the most indicative of the man’s life direction.

The dominance of Eros and Thanatos

Of the Collective Unconscious and Wellbeing

Jung went further than his mentor Freud, with the unconscious. He moved from the personal unconscious to the far more conjectural (& occult) collective unconscious. Can we see this in his chart? What role does planetary dignity play in this? Jung’s artistic Venus (conjunct Mercury) in Cancer is linked by a reception to his Moon (conjunction Pluto) in Taurus.

Note that Moon is a symbol of our unconscious mind and so linked with the depths of Pluto’s realm we have an apt symbol in this chart. The Moon falling in the 4th House also emphasises this. It is interesting that Jungs Mercury (conjunct the Moons ruler) exhibited its role of the psychopomp! Jung’s life intention was to escort memories back from the darkness!

both men had Mars in the 12th House of their respective chart. Can we link their ambitions and drive to 12th House issues?

Guide to Planetary Dignities

These are the traditional positions for significant essential dignities. I have included my take on the accidental dignities by covering the house association (HX) for reference. I do not consider this method part of the tradition, but there is a logic to it.


Rulership: Leo (H5)

Exultation: Aries (H1)

Detriment: Aquarius (H11)

Fall: Libra (H7)


Rulership: Cancer (H4)

Exultation: Taurus (H2)

Detriment: Capricorn (H10)

Fall: Scorpio (H8)

Note 1:

It seems illogical with Mercury to place both of its signifiers in Virgo. Aquarius is a better match and should be the sign of its exultation. More people are adopting this placement.

Note 2:

With these three inner planets, I have included in brackets what many consider to be their higher octaves (see below).

Mercury (Higher Octave Uranus):

Rulership: Gemini (H3) / Virgo (H6)

Exultation: Virgo (H6)

Detriment: Sagittarius (H9) / Pisces (H12)

Fall: Pisces (H12)

Venus (Higher Octave Neptune)

Rulership: Taurus (H2) / Libra (H7)

Exultation: Pisces (H12)

Detriment: Scorpio (H8) / Aries (H1)

Fall: Virgo (H6)

Mars (Higher Octave Pluto)

Rulership: Aries (H1) / Scorpio (H8)

Exultation: Capricorn (H10)

Detriment: Libra (H7) / Taurus (H2)

Fall: Cancer (H4)


Rulership: Sagittarius (H9) / Pisces (H9)

Exultation: Cancer (H4)

Detriment: Gemini (H3) / Virgo (H6)

Fall: Capricorn (H10)


Rulership: Capricorn (H10) / Aquarius (H11)

Exultation: Libra (H7)

Detriment: Cancer (H4) / Leo (H5)

Fall: Libra (H7)

The Trans-Saturnians.

There are at least four ways of looking at the planets beyond the Ptolemaic system for evidence of dignity:

  1. The first is not to notice them at all – the ostrich approach. A method loved by traditionalists. Those who would argue that everything human can be found by reading the original seven.
  2. The second (popular with serious astrologers) is to assign meaning but not dignity to these planets (some would argue they have a natural affinity with certain signs; Neptune with Pisces.
  3. Those practitioners that use co-rulership to these planets with the signs of Scorpio, Aquarius and Pisces.
  4. The so-called new (age) astrologers who assign the full rulership of these planets to Pisces, Scorpio, and Aquarius (even before the musical Hair!)
  5. However, there is a fifth method I have long considered (and one I’ll share with you given you have read my take on accidental dignity).It goes like this:
  1. The outer planets have often been referred to as higher octaves of the inner planets. So Neptune extends the Venusian capacity for love and empathy; the Martian assertion is taken a giant step further by Pluto (& Plutonium), and the Mercurial rationalisation is extended by the Uranus insight.
  2. This analogy system appears to be the most reasonable.

Can we then extend it to allow the outer planets the same assigned set of signifies as their inner counterparts?

  1. Can we add Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus to the list of planets above? I say we can. If you notice I have!


Planetary Dignity, treated here, is a complex topic. It is the heart of traditional delineation which seeks to place a represented strength to the Planets of one’s chart. It is an ancient study: one I am presumptuous to put my spin on!

If you have a chart program, you will find a dignity table that will give you negative (-) and positive planetary strength (+) It’s very interesting if you find out what the algorithm draws together but don’t be fazed by the negatives.

As a beginner, all you’ll need are the two dignities discussed above. They will provide you with a lot of information. Many experienced modern astrologers make do with rulership and do not even use exultation and fall!

Next, Planetary Cycles and Keywords.

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