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The dignity of a planet in a certain position speaks of the way that planet feels where it is found. While we can use aspects to understand the energy flow of entities in our chart, dignity will show us the basic energy level and the ability to find grounding through a certain symbolism. The feel of Venus in Taurus, Pisces or Scorpio will make all the difference, and if its dignity is low, the self-worth a person has will drop, guilt will take over, and beauty and love will seem more distant. This can be applied to any planet or celestial body in our chart and it is truly important to understand which of our inner natures has strong roots and makes us creatively confident and strong, and which one doesn’t.
Essential and Accidental Dignity
There are two types of dignity we will observe in our practice – essential and accidental. Essential dignity is best described as a feel a planet has in the sign it resides in. As if set a bit lower on a priority scale, accidental dignity will speak of a planet’s feel on a more personal level, set in a certain house in our chart. If one planet has a strong essential dignity (such as Mars would in Capricorn), it can still have a low accidental dignity (Mars set in the fourth house), and vice versa. We will always give greater significance to essential dignity, but the accidental dignity shouldn’t be neglected for it speaks of a battle or a quality that we carry on a very personal level. The important thing here is to feel the atmosphere of certain positions in order to be able to analyze them along with all the added symbolism through aspects, so that synthesis of all information can be made, and each entity put in its rightful place.
Five Essential Dignities
Traditionally, there are five essential dignities:
- Domicile (Rule) and Detriment
- Exaltation and Fall
If a planet is without any of the essential dignities, it is called a peregrine planet, and this is considered maleficent.
In a modern approach, we will mostly rely on the first two dignities, and recognize the third one. Everyone on a mission to give an astrological reading has a task to learn which signs and points in the zodiac give strength to certain planets and which take their energy away. This helps us find ways to heal ourselves and point out our strong suits and talents, helping us rely on the best of qualities we carry within. If we learn that our Mars is weak and in its detriment or fall, this gives us clarity on the weakness we have to work on, turning our focus to anger issues, aggression, and bended energy that has trouble reaching its destination. If a person has such a challenge, they should practice initiative and planning in order to raise awareness and the quality of their life. With enough work put into the energy flow in their first chakra, turned to physical activity and keeping their focus strong, people with these and other challenging positions can reach an acceptable level of satisfaction.
Essential dignities of domicile and detriment are always set on the opposing sides of the zodiacal circle, and so are exaltation and fall. Planets rule entire signs but their exaltation is seen through one specific point, although we will say the planet is exalted in an entire sign holding this specific point. To clarify, this means that Venus has the point of exaltation on the 27th degree of Pisces, and the point of fall on the opposing 27th degree of Virgo. Still, we will consider it exalted through the entire sign of Pisces just like its energy won’t be very strong throughout Virgo no matter the degree it is on. If we bump into one specific degree of exaltation or fall in our interpretation, we will observe it as a significant point that tells the story of dignity, even if some other planet or a house cusp gets in touch with it.
All of the above points us towards the nature of opposition and the relation of good and bad, heaven and hell, and all polarizations we are prone to see in the world. The key to finding resolutions to any challenging dignity is always hidden in acceptance of things we think are bad. Both detriment and fall have a task to teach us how to incorporate good into bad, love into hate, life into death. It will not be easily explained to someone blended into collective consciousness that teaches us morality and righteousness, that their entirely different approach might be good in any way.
How Do We Heal?
To understand this better, let’s think of an obvious example. If a person has their natal Moon in Scorpio, their Soul craves change, transformation, and separation, while the entire society is based on the approach that family presented by the Moon has to be accepting, close, intimate, and stable. While their main tendency might be to create a stable family, their heart will always move towards change, breakups, divorce, or simply a lot more emotional depth than the collective will teach them necessary. This is the case when a river of ancestors plays a large part in the unconscious world of a person, making them sensitive to the lack of love they are surrounded with.
In general, the Moon is always in connection to our heart chakra and its position speaks of all things that make us laugh and discover childish joy within. From this point you’ll have to agree that it is a lot easier to embrace the Moon of a person who finds joy and laughter in hedonistic activities that Taurus is filled with, than for someone who finds actual happiness in a garbage truck, the end of things, regression, ghosts, or maybe even death.
We can observe each fall or detriment through a similar perspective, and see that the nature of the planet simply isn’t easily adapted to certain circumstances. Just as the Moon in Scorpio makes a person happy through the strangest of things, Venus in Virgo will create a control freak, in love with their work, if their family nurtures their sense of value instead of diminishing their actual qualities. This might be someone born with the role of a secretary, the fulfillment of which would do incredible things on a mundane level through a butterfly effect, but the collective consciousness will say that no person should settle for less than being a manager, an influential doctor or a lawyer, and none should find satisfaction in “servant activity” and honest everyday work because it is small and insignificant.
In general, no matter if Venus needs to enjoy everyday things, the Moon has to laugh in the dark, or Mars wants to be pointed towards matters of the heart instead of matters of the state, all negative positions and energy draining aspects are challenging due to society and not their actual lack of positivity. To live through them and manifest their best possible meanings, we have to separate from the rest of the world, be brave enough to discover our personal truth, and follow that newfound set of beliefs wherever it takes us. It might be just a tad easier than we would expect it to be.
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Mars in Capricorn tells the tale of rational steps, movement that is firm and grounded, and victories that have already been won but needed time to manifest.
While our grounding and the roughness of the world teach us that we need to go through life as a battle, our Divine selves say that sensitivity should lead the way.
Moon and Venus tell the tale of things we love and wish to take into our system to reach our most satisfying existence and indulge our hungers.