One of the tasks our astrology apprenticeship students must complete for each course is writing a paper on two chosen topics to reflect the capacity to understand and effectively communicate the principles. Here is a paper from one of our students, Desi, dealing with the explanation and usage of Planetary Dignity. Enjoy, and thank you Desi for your time and attention to detail. Stay tuned for more from our Astrological Apprentices.
“Calculating dignity allows us to accurately estimate the quality of a particular planet and thus determine to what degree, it has the capacity to express its innate nature. From there, we can tell about the consequences of its influence in a person’s life, and see how different areas, indicated by the Bhavas, could be affected. Each planet brings its quality and specific kind of energy to it into to the house that it is in, and the houses that it rules.
“In the first part of Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, Parashara tells us the placements of planets in their deepest exaltation and debilitation degrees respectively, as they are exactly opposite of each other. In addition, the mooltrikona (root trine) degrees are pointed out. That is the portion of the sign, from where the planet derives its power and innate energy from.
“In addition, we have of a planet in its own home, when it is in a sign that it rules. ‘The dignity of a Graha placed in the portion of its Rasi that is not its Mooltrikona portion is own Rasi. The dignity of a Graha being in any other Rasi that it rules is also own Rasi’ (Graha Sutras, p.308). A planet in its own home feels at home or comfortable to take care of that area of life, for which it is responsible for, like a good house holder maintains his property.
“Every planet has essential qualities and characteristics. When the planet is in a sign that supports its innate quality and agenda, we say that it is in good dignity.
“If the planet in question is not in own sign, exaltation, debilitation or Mooltrikona, we need to consider the principle of planetary status which is based on the combination of a planet’s natural status, its natural friendship to its lord, as well as its temporary relationship with its lord.
The natural (or permanent) friendship of the planets is based on the Mooltrikona sign. The formula in Brihat Parasshara Hora Shastra states: “The rulers of signs, which are the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th and 12th from the Mooltrikona of a planet are its friends, apart from the Lord of its exaltation sign. Lords other than these are its enemies. If a Planet becomes its friend as well, as its enemy (on account of the said two computations), then it is neutral. The Moon is said to have no enemies. For the Moon, Sun and Mercury are friends and the rest are neutral.” In order to understand a planet’s final dignity in a particular chart, we need to calculate the temporary (situational) relationship.
The formula for temporary friendship of planets is:
ॐ Planets in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th and 12th are temporary friends
ॐ Planets in the other Signs 1st, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th are temporary enemies
“When two planets are naturally friendly, they become great friends; a planet which is friendly, combined with a neutral planet, creates friends. Enmity on one account and friendliness on the other creates a neutral relationship. An enemy planet, combined with a neutral, creates an enemy relationship. When both planets are enemies, this creates a relationship for great enemies.
“For example: Let’s consider Jupiter in Aries and Mars in Scorpio in a chart of a Sagittarius Ascendant. Mars is naturally friendly towards Jupiter, but we see that Mars is placed in the 8th from Jupiter, which gives us the compound status of the planet, which is “Neutral”.
“Planets in a friend sign, great friend sign, own home, mooltrikona, exalted are considered to be in good dignity. That means that the qualities of the sign and the energy of the planet are in harmony with each other. In those cases, they are going to support and take good care of the affairs of the houses that they rule. Good dignity planets help to enhance the positive influences of what that planet represents and what the houses it rules represent.
“Respectively a planet in bad dignity or in a neutral, enemy, great enemy or in a debilitated sign will generally have difficulty expressing its full potential because it finds itself in and extrinsic environment. Generally, it will bring its specific energies that will still work out and fulfill the particular area of life, but it will feel uncomfortable and will have difficulty functioning in an environment that doesn’t support its natural characteristics. Consequently, the planet can still produce for us, but perhaps we are struggling to get it right in that particular area of life.
“Here is the ratio of effects given by Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra: ‘A Planet in exaltation gives fully good effects, while in Moolatrikona it is bereft of its auspicious effects by one fourth. It is half beneficial in its own House. Its beneficence is one fourth in a friendly Rasi. In an equals Rasi one eighth of auspicious disposition is useful. The good effects are nil in debilitation, or enemy’s camp. Inauspicious effects are quite reverse with reference to what is stated’.
“The Sun and Moon own Leo and Cancer respectively. All other planets have rulership over two signs. When assessing a chart, we need to pay attention to the Mooltrikona sign that the planet in question rules. For example, for a Gemini ascendant, Saturn rules both the eight and the ninth house. Since the ninth house is Aquarius, which is Saturn’s Mooltrikona, more likely than not it’s effects are to be favourable. Of course, other factors need to be supportive as well.
“Exalted or good dignity planets in general could have a negative impact in the cases that they rule difficult houses, or they can give mixed results. For example, for Taurus ascendant individuals, Venus rules both the first and the sixth house, which are respectively an angle, a trine and a dusthana house. As a ruler of the sixth, Venus can get in the way of a person’s path in life, as it will act as a Raja yoga breaker.
“In order to add on to the full picture of a planet’s overall effects we also need to take into consideration the Avastas. The more principles we add on to estimating dignity, the better we understand that the manifestation of the planets energy in our lives is rather complex. We can consider the Avashtas in conjunction with dignity (the sign that the planet is in).
“The Jagradaadi avashta, classifies the planets based on the natural relationship to their ruler. An exalted planet, one in its mooltrikona or own sign is Jagrad or “awake”. If it’s neutral or natural friendly, it is said to be svapna or “sleepy”. A planet is sushupti or “asleep” if it is in a natural enemy sign or debilitated. When a planet is in a high avashta, we integrate the lesson that it has to teach us more easily. More often this helps us be present in a challenging situation, and heightens our ability to act on our innate wisdom and intelligence. If a planet is in a “sleepy” or “asleep” avashta, it is respectively semi-conscious or fully unconscious; meaning that it is easier to miss the opportunity to learn from life circumstances that seem disruptive in the area of life, which is represented by the planet.
“With the Baladi avashta the planet’s strength depends on the degree that it is in. There are five states: the infant, the adolescent, the adult, the old and the dead. On the positive side a planet in an infant, old or dead state can point to karmic lessons that are exhausting themselves in this life time, thus we receive less harm from them. Planets with lower dignity cannot give much harm, especially if they are in an infant, an old or a dead state. They can even thrive in case their kashta is low, and if they receive good support from their friends.
“Rarely something is just good or bad. For example strong planets by dignity can hurt other planets agenda. Respectively they can give sometimes disruptive effects, especially if they happen to rule over difficult houses. The difference is in the way that we face the hardships and react to them. When planet in high dignity throws us a challenge, we might draw from our ingrained knowing and consciousness and as a result integrate the experience more readily, rather than letting it knock us down. However, it is also possible that, we are more reluctant to compromise with the negative expression of the powerful planet’s qualities in ourselves, as well as in others; but we can make corrections and adjust to a difficult situation more readily.
“The more principles that we consider in regards to assessing a planet’s strength, the broader the perspective we are going to get when trying to understand how a planet is going to function and manifest its energy in a person’s chart. Ultimately, our experiences with a planet may vary for the different fields of life, depending on how it is placed through the Vargas.”
Ernst Wilhelm: “Graha Sutras”, 2006
And here are some additional interesting thoughts from Vincent, another of our astrological apprentices:
“There are a total of nine dignities, nine different statuses of well or ill being for the
planets. When considering dignity, think of the roles that the planets provide to get an idea of what is being effected. If we take a Philosopher (Jupiter) and lock him in a dungeon (Capricorn) will he thrive? Will it be easy to form expansive outlooks and beautiful ideas if Jupiter is hidden away from the world in a moldy cell? It may be possible and it could definitely expand one’s horizons but it would not be easy or desired. However, if Jupiter is placed on a high mountaintop or in a vast library (Sagittarius) free from constraints it will be more pleasant for the planet to operate. A debilitated Venus in the chart of a Cancer ascendant will signify difficulty forming interests or with learning skills (3rd house indications). The ability to choose (Venus) is impaired and the native could make poor choices or yearn for experiences or abilities that are not meant for them.
“The degree to which the debilitated Venus affects the native depends on the other various factors within a birth chart such as aspects and the avasthas but by determining the
dignity of the planet a huge step is made in revealing the strengths and weaknesses of the
native. Planetary dignity is the crux of Astrology. Wholly dependent on rulership, it is often overlooked by many astrologers who may consider it archaic due to the introduction of modern planetary rulership or who even find it unpleasant to imagine a planet being inimical or debilitated. However it is quite plain to see how tremendous an impact the usage of dignity has on birth chart, it is a guiding force into the well being of a planet and speaks to its placement so effectively. Through planetary dignity we learn the initial state of the forces of our consciousness.”