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NR Caradog @RyanCaradog
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Alright, I promised I was going to do a thread on essential dignities that was KIND and GENTLE and not me raging about misinformation. If you want to know what the heck dignities are and how they work beyond just "Mars in Aries = good!" So buckle up! #astrology #essentialdignity
To understand what we mean when we say "dignity," we need to look first at what the term meant in the Greco-Roman world. A "dignity" was something intrinsic to public offices: it carried a particular honor and a particular responsibility.
Let's consider the lowest level of political "dignity" in the Roman political world: the quaestor. If you got elected for a quaestorship, you had certain honors and responsibilities
One had to meet certain requirements to be eligible for election as a quaestor, and if you were elected, you were either one of twenty quaestors in Rome helping run finances or working as a second-in-command to a provincial governor. These are part one of the "dignity."
Part two of the quaestor "dignity" was that you, as a public official, were entitled to wear the toga praetexta, but you didn't have the rights of higher dignities, such as the right to be escorted by lictors (honor guards) or the power of imperium (the ability to enforce law).
Your honors as a quaestor were as intrinsic to the job as the responsibilities as a quaestor. There was no way to have one without the other. This is cultural context in which the idea of planetary dignities emerged.
So let's think about the planetary dignities in this sense, too. Each level of dignity entails a planet a certain field of responsibility and a certain amount of "say" in the zodiacal places where it has dignity.
The hierarchy of dignities are, as most of you know: rulership, exaltation, triplicity, term, and face. (I'll get to debilities later in the thread.) #astrology #essentialdignity
The dignities don't work in terms of a "steady gradient of power" or something like that; yes, the major dignities (rulership and exaltation) are on the whole more powerful than the minor ones (triplicity, term, and face), but even then, each dignity has a particular "flavor."
Going back to the question of government officials, we can think of each sign's collection of dignities as like a "cursus honorum" in its own right. Term rulers are like minor magistrates or low-level managers, whereas the rulers are the Caesar of the sign.
Here's how this works in practice. We'll take... Libra as an example.
Venus is the imperatrix (ruler) of Libra. Everything going on in Libra is under her command and done in accordance with her preferences & predilections. She sets every planet's agenda. She's on the high horse.
So Venus in Libra acquires the kind of power that a queen in her home country has: she can do anything she wants and has everything she needs at her disposal. She is the most Venus-y Venus that you can get (diurnally flavored, but that's another thread).
Saturn has the dignity called "exaltation" in Libra. So, we can think of Saturn as an exalted guest, a dignitary (see the etymology!?) from an allied nation. Saturn in Libra is a very high expression of Saturn—he too has everything he needs there and is less inclined
toward maleficence or malfeasance. Venus' peacemaking priorities comport with Saturn's desire for justice, boundaries, and equity. As Venus' guest, he has all of Libra at his disposal for his use, but he will hopefully be a good guest and not overstay or take advantage of her
generous hospitality. Planets in exaltation can sometimes do this: they can get an overinflated sense of their own importance. Venus might be leading peace talks and Saturn might butt in with a suggestion, forgetting his place, or might just help himself
to whatever's left in Venus' fridge. #astrology #essentialdignities #exaltation
So remember: a planet in rulership answers to no one. A planet in any other dignity answers to the ruling planet. A planet in exaltation answers to the ruling planet but is aligned with that planet's purposes, and can sometimes show "too much" of that planet's expression.
Now, on to the minor dignities: triplicity, term, and face. With the triplicities, this is a different kind of dignity that works on the principle of the signs' elemental affinities. Think of the four triplicities as four international coalitions or confederations.
For example, the UN or the European Union. The triplicity ruler of a sign is like the sign's ambassador to that international coalition. (This metaphor breaks down at a certain point, but stay with me.) The triplicity ruler doesn't have much say in the overall
rulership of a particular sign in a triplicity ON THIS LEVEL, but it is still important in setting the overall agenda of the trio of signs forming a given triplicity.
Triplicity is also the only dignity that flip-flops depending on the sect of the chart, and there are two primary triplicity schemes—one put forth by Dorotheus of Sidon, the other put forward by Ptolemy. I won't get into the specifics here.
Let's consider as an example the Sun, in Sagittarius, in a day chart; in this example, the Sun is the triplicity ruler of the fiery triplicity, so the Sun is like the chief councillor in the Fiery Sign Union who sets the agenda for the overall partnership
between Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. The Sun's diurnal rulership of the Triplicity dignity for all three fire signs is why we associate the fire signs, in some way, with the question of "identity" or "ego" or "will."
Now, Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius each represent the varying priorities of their individual rulers: Mars, the Sun, and Jupiter, respectively. So each sign has a different agenda attached to its territory—belligerent Aries, egotistical Leo, escapist Sagittarius.
But they are all three of them bound together by the principle of the Sun's "confederation rulership" of all the Fire signs in a day chart, by Jupiter's like rulership in a night chart, with Saturn assisting in either case.
Think of the participating Triplicity ruler like a vice-ambassador or something like that. #astrology #essentialdignities
Now, the fourth dignity comprises the terms: no one really knows how these divisions came to be, but each sign is divided into five unequal divisions. The final term of every sign is always ruled by a malefic. They're a pain in the butt to memorize, so just keep a chart handy.
Term comes from the Latin word "terminus," meaning boundary or end. So we also call terms "bounds." Terms work like little consulates for each of the planets in various signs: they have some modicum of power there but still have to deal with local zoning laws, etc.
I grew up in the DC area and have vivid memories of driving down Embassy Row en route to the Zoo and the National Cathedral. Each country's embassy is technically ruled by that country, but they still have to comply with DC's signage, zoning, construction code, etc. laws.
Each consulate has a very specific task within DC, too. Another good way to think of term rulerships is to think of low-end managers with specific duties that don't extend to managing an entire division.
The final dignity is that of "face," or "decan." This is an interesting dignity because they have their origin in the Egyptian's use of 10º divisions of the Zodiac keyed to certain fixed stars in order to time religious rituals.
Decans reinforce the expression of a planet in a very subtle, almost imperceptible way in practice. If a sign is a Wendy's, a planet with term rulership is like an assistant manager, and a planet with decan rulership is like a shift supervisor or trainer.
That shift supervisor or trainer is really good at one specific thing, whether it's prep, customer service, or whatever, but they aren't in a position of responsibility over the general operation of the entire restaurant.
Let me give you another metaphor: Imagine you're in a car with friends on a car trip.
Rulership belongs to the one driving. They are responsible.
Exaltation belongs to whomever rides shotgun. They get to set the stereo, adjust the A/C, etc. etc., as long as the driver lets them.
Triplicity is the friend who is leading the conversation and telling stories.
Term means you get to adjust your seat and seatbelt to make yourself comfortable.
Decan means that you get to pick a song on Spotify every now and then.
In practice, there are very subtle descriptive shades that occur with the minor dignities, whereas rulership versus exaltation tell very different stories. This comes out overtly in horary, but exists within every branch of astrology.
What I'm trying to make sure that you, dear Reader, know, is that each dignity in a sign is not simply a 1 to 5 scale of how powerful a planet's expression is there. Each dignity has a particular *job* within a sign, all keyed to the sign's ruler's agenda.
NOW! Debility is where this starts to get interesting (consider what Saturn having dignity by term, but placed in Cancer might mean). I'm going to do this in a separate thread after lunch.
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