An introduction to the full system of dignities (Ptolemy) and the application in the natal an horary charts. Traditional Techniques: What does the use of Essential Dignities add to a Chart?
The dignities (and debilities) will reveal distinctions of quality in a planet’s expression.
To see whether a planet has the power to bring about what it promises (efficient cause)
In Traditional Astrology, delineation (of houses) consisted of asking four questions:
Whether it is? What it is? How it is? Why it is?. For example, if with the Second house under examination, the astrologer would be asking
WHETHER the person would have any money at all
WHAT kind of money (in quality of “cash flow”)
HOW the affairs associated with money might manifest.
The consideration of anything or anyone who promises to effect an observable result.
The scheme of essential dignities are a system used to capture qualitative distinctions relating to a planet’s ability to “do as it promises to do.”
(Zoller) or an “assessment of strength” (Frawley)
Modern astrology keeps the pairing of sign and its ruler justified by likeness or affinity. For example, Mars “rules” Aries because we see a similarity between the raw assertive power of Mars and the zodiacal sign of new beginnings …Saturn “rules “ Capricorn because Saturn’s crystallizing energy is that much more true to its nature in Capricorn, where the fulfillment of destiny (and the beginning of death) occurs . What happens in this is that the interpretation of the sign becomes infused (Lehman) with the meaning of the planet. Mars is analogical to Aries, Saturn to Capricorn.
Actually, a rationale exists for the rulership scheme, based on day and night sign or house distinctions. A scheme of rulership: Cancer feminine, nocturnal (ruler Moon)-Leo masculine, diurnal (ruler Sun)
As the Zodiac depicts the seasonal cycle in nature, the rulerships or domiciles are derived for the experience of seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. The luminaries (Sun and Moon) are given to Leo and Cancer, respectively, since in these signs they are at great strength since the Summer has the longest and warmest days. The planet Mercury is never more than one sign form the Sun and hence its domicile is shared by Gemini and Virgo. Venus can never be more than two signs from the Sun and its signs are Libra and Taurus. In order then, Mars is given to Aries and Scorpio and Jupiter to Sagittarius and Pisces . Finally the two Winter signs, Aquarius and Capricorn are ruled by Saturn, this planet being furthest from the Sun in distance.
A planet in its own domicile is most powerful. Having the dignity of rulership a planet can “set its own agenda” without needing support or receiving interference because it is its own dispositor.
Sidereal astrologer Cyril Fagan, in his research on Babylonian zodiac found that the traditional exaltation degrees of the seven planets were connected to the zodiac which commenced with the fixed (fiducial) star Spica (29 Virgo). The exaltation degrees were called
Triplicity is the 3rd major dignity. Triplicity is strong via luck , good connections, good timing, and access to resources, like money, necessary to performing the task at hand. A planet receives dignity by triplicity according to the element of the sign it occupies.
In the Table of Essential Dignities by Ptolemy in the Triplicity column under Aries , Leo, and Sagittarius, the Fire signs, the Sun gets dignity by triplicity in these 3 signs by day, while Jupiter is in triplicity in fire by night. So if a horary significator is Sun in Leo in a diurnal chart then the Sun is in Rulership and Triplicity. Likewise, the Earth signs have Venus (day) and Moon (night), Water signs give Mars dignity by triplicity day and night, and the Air signs have Saturn by day and Mercury as night dignity rulers .
Term or Bound is a minor dignity associated with planetary strength derived from being in harmony with rules and regulations, following good form, and having a sense of propriety relative to the energy of the planet in term. The Ptolemaic diginites are given here and the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are given dignity by term for 5 degrees within each 12 signs. There are other Term systems such as Egyptian and Dorthean Terms.
Face is the last minor dignity and suggests the planet receiving this dignity is focused and alert but because of fear . Imagine that you are in a crisis situation and about to lose something important, like your home or job, if you fail to pay the rent or increase your clientele, the sense of dread or fear can give one power until the job is done .
A Peregrine planet is a planet with no dignity or debility. Peregrine means "to wander" so it says the planet is weak with no goal or agenda.