Dignities or “essential dignities” describe the condition of a Point in certain signs, relating to the Point’s fortitude, strength/weakness, and quality in those signs. The four dignities are rulership, detriment, exaltation, and fall. These assignments only apply to the original seven Points visible in the sky before the discovery of Uranus in 1781.
What is Rulership?
Rulership describes the Point (Sun, Moon, Mercury, and so on) that “rules” or is strongest in a Sign. For example, the Sun “rules” Leo. Rulership also describes the Sign that rules or “lords over” a house. Aries rules the 1st House, while Taurus rules the 2nd House. The sequence of the signs follows the sequence of the houses. So, Pisces, the 12th Sign rules the 12th House.
Below is the table of rulership:
|House||Ruling Sign||Ruling Point(s)|
|6||Virgo||Mercury (slowly being replaced by Chiron)|
|8||Scorpio||Pluto (classical ruler, Mars)|
|11||Aquarius||Uranus (classical ruler, Saturn)|
|12||Pisces||Neptune (classical ruler, Jupiter)|
Classical Rulership Wheel
Before the discovery of Uranus (1781), Neptune (1846), Pluto (1933), and Chiron (1977), the rulership pattern looked like this:
Why Rulership Matters
If a Point is in a Sign, it rules, then that point will have natural priority in a chart. It will stand out. The Point is said to “be at home” where it is most comfortable and willing to express itself freely and strongly.
Exaltation, Detriment, and Fall
Points not only rule certain Signs but they are also exalted (do very well) in certain Signs. They are also weakened in certain signs and will find themselves in detriment or fall. The detriment Sign for a Point is the Sign opposite its rulership. Mars rules Aries but is in detriment in Libra. A point in detriment is said to be “exiled” and is least comfortable and most restrained in the Sign of its detriment. The Sign of a Point’s fall is opposite the Sign of its Exaltation. Only the original seven classical points have these four designations, as shown by the chart below:
Dispositing is the term used to determine where a Point in a Sign looks in the chart if it is NOT in its rulership. That Point “looks to” the Point ruling the Sign it is in. Let’s say you have Mars in Taurus. If you do, then it disposits to where Venus is in the chart. Say Venus is in Gemini. If so, then Mars “disposits” to Venus. However, Venus is nfot in its sign of Rulership, so you keep dispositing until:
- You get to a Point that is in the Sign of its rulership, or
- You get to the Point that “looks back” to your starting point.
Whichever one it turns out to be, that Point is the “final dispositor”, which has the “final say” or the most help to give to the starting point.
- Mars/Taurus > Venus/Gemini > Mercury/Virgo (stop!) – Mercury rules Virgo, so the final dispositor for Mars is Mercury.
- Mars/Taurus > Venus/Gemini > Mercury/Sagittarius > Jupiter/Aries > Mars/Taurus (go back!) – Jupiter in Aries is the final dispositor for Mars in Taurus, in this second example.
Understanding dignity and dispositing can help you learn why people with the same Sun sign can be so very different. Knowing these concepts enriches your understanding of astrology and adds to the nuance of interpretation when working with a chart.