Essential and Accidental Dignity

In traditional astrology, the term dignity identifies a wide variety of factors that contribute to the strength and quality of a planet’s action. Dignity suggests status, honor, autonomy, integrity, strength and worth. It shows power (quantity) and value (quality), both of which must be evaluated in order to reach a complete judgment.

Essential dignity describes the condition and standing that a planet enjoys by virtue of being located in a sign where it holds some degree of authority, either as the ruler or a sub-ruler. It is essential because it arises from the unchanging structure of celestial governance. It implies innate substance and permanence. If unafflicted, a planet strong in essential dignity acts with great integrity and freedom to produce effects harmonious with its nature. A less essentially dignified planet acts with less power and immediacy. When deprived of essential dignity or positively debilitated, a planet’s actions become servile or debased in varying degrees.

Accidental dignity denotes all the other ways, apart from the system of rulerships, that a planet may gain strength. It is accidental because it depends upon circumstances that may modify, direct or even subvert a planet’s action but that still do not change what it is by virtue of essential dignity (see above). It implies circumstantial or transient advantage. Some accidental dignities derive from the planet’s zodiacal state (e.g., direct or retrograde motion; swift or slow motion; aspects from benefics or malefics) and others from mundane determination (e.g., angularity; rulership of good and bad houses).

Tomorrow, we will look at how dignity is actually used in horary judgment.

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