Ptolemy’s essential dignities chart is one of THE necessary tools of astrology.
It’s dead easy to use, but here’s a quick break-down of how it works:
- Column 1 ‘Sign’ shows each zodiac/star sign represented by their glyph – so the first is Aries, then Taurus, then Gemini, throughout the Zodiac as the column moves down.
- Column 2 ‘Houses of the Planets’ shows which planet is the natural ruler of each sign; as example, the first row tells us that Aries is ruled Mars; the next row shows that Taurus is ruled by Venus, and so on. The ’N’ and ‘D’ in this column is related to traditional astrology rules regarding ‘diurnal’ (day) and ‘nocturnal’ (night) sects. Not all astrologers use this; if you are starting out with rulerships I’d skip over this for now and come back to it once you fully understand how to work with rulerships. In the future I might write about this – and when I do I’ll link it here.
- Column 3 ‘Exaltation’ shows where each sign is exalted. We can see that the Sun is exalted in Aries, and that this is further shown by a number, the ‘degree of exaltation’. Again, this is slightly more advanced, but it just means that if you have an Aries Sun, which is already exalted, an Aries Sun at the 19th Degree would be even more empowered as a planetary set-up. Not all signs have a place of exaltation, as in the case of Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius.
- Skipping over the middle, we’ll now look at the last two columns: ‘Detriment’ and ‘Fall’. These show us where each planet is weakened in certain signs. So for example, we can see that Venus in Aries is in detriment; Saturn in Aries is in fall. Not all signs have places of detriment and fall, as in the case of Taurus, Gemini, Leo, Sagittarius and Aquarius.
The middle columns are a bit more complicated and start to relate to what is called ‘Triplicity’, ‘Terms’ and ‘Decan’. This is slightly more advanced, and not used by all astrologers.
I’m working on posts to cover these, and when I do, I’ll link them here.