“I’ve got the power!” Saturn cried out while doing his victory dance on the glorious day he managed to enter the tastefully decorated house of Libra! He was so happy that he had to tell someone about it and so he decided to visit me. He arrived with… not much delay, considering how slowly he moves! But the planet I saw at the door was nothing like the Saturn I knew (and loved to hate): He wore a very neat suit and a nice hat - very retro chic; the second and even bigger surprise, was that he brought me a little scale as a gift and he had a big smile painted on his face! “Wow, Mr. Saturn, you look great!”
Well, I confess I got extremely curious about the reason he appeared to be so different. He usually was so gloomy, impossible, wicked and dressed in black so this new image was really strange – even suspicious! My first thought was that he might have smoked something he wasn’t supposed to or perhaps he had an epiphany and suddenly realized he doesn’t want to make people feel miserable anymore or …. “Did you finally get a girlfriend??!!” I asked only to receive a smack on the neck instead of an answer! As he confided soon after, something else was going on. He said that this change was only natural and connected with the fact of his movement through the Signs and that there are some signs that are his property, another where he’s the guest of honor, while in some others he feels terrible and very weak.
- Really? I thought to myself. “Well, that’s a new one! And how does this work?”
- “Grab a cup of coffee and make it black!” he ordered “and then I will reveal all of my secrets!” Obviously I run for the coffee and nodded him to tell! He had a sip of the coffee; he sat comfortably to the armchair and took a deep breath:
-“Have you read the table of essential dignities I gave you the other day, by my good friend Ptolemy?” And before I got the chance to answer he stopped me with a square. (-Ah, I hate the guy!)
Well, little girl, IF YOU DO read the tables you’ll find that I have 2 houses of my own, Capricorn and Aquarius. When there I’m strong because I rule them and naturally I feel very happy! A man’s house is his castle! There, I have the opportunity to show my best qualities and also plenty of power to act - according to my nature of course. When I’m in those signs, take my word, I ‘m truly a Dignified gentleman!”
-“Do you actually have a good side??” I thought, but suspicious as I was, instantly come to the conclusion he was just trying to hide his evil plans.
-“In Libra on the other hand, I am the guest of Honor! Whatever I wish is brought before me and I feel so strong that I could break a rock in two just with one hand! I just love being in Libra! This is the sign where I ‘m in my Exaltation, so I get the feeling that - as Jim Morrison said -I am the Lizard King, I can do anything! I’m really happy as you can see and also able to give the most of myself to the world. Ok, I do admit I might get a bit conceited sometimes, but you can still consider me to be a good guy!
What I really do hate is being in Aries, the opposite house to my exaltation as you might know. And in case you are wondering why, everything is moving so fast that I get dizzy and disoriented; the receptionist hates me and the stuff too. And the light is so strong that my face looks all wrinkled up! Believe me it brings out the worst in me! I can’t do anything right and I feel like Falling from an airplane without a parachute! Trust me you don’t want to mess with me when I’m in Aries!
Unfortunately there is an even worst case: Being in Cancer and Leo, you know, the houses opposite to my own - oh, God, do I get really sick and Detrimental there! I can’t even find the strength to get out of bed in the morning and when I do get up I am so uncomfortable and annoyed that I start being a true bad guy! Maybe it’s the food, I don’t know! But take my advice on this, if you see me there, run and hide!”
-I already know that Mr. Saturn! You are Detrimental in my chart - in case you have conveniently forgotten all about it! But running and hiding, as you suggest does not help, I’m now trying a new approach!
-Really? And what is that?
- I’ve decided to ignore you when you misbehave and throw a piece of meat when you’re a good boy!
-Good luck with that!, he said and laughed like Darth Vader from Star Wars, ignoring the steam that was bursting out of my right ear and continued his little lecture:
“There are also some other little places, called Triplicities, where I might not be exactly at home but at least it feels like one, let’s say like being in a medium star Hotel. Not home, but reasonably comfortable and neat, so I have some power to do some everyday Saturn stuff.
Being in my Term or Face gives me the sense of a little Dignity, too. These are a few degrees in the signs where it feels like being in your own favorite room of the house. Sometimes you see, even in the worst house, there is a small place where you feel less miserable and therefore a bit able to do something right. If you are Falling or are Detrimental on the other hand being in your favorite bed does not help, really. Listen carefully, this is experience talking!”
-Yeah, I know the feeling and yes I am paying attention! I replied. But what happens when you are not in any of your dignified or debilitated places?
-“Oh, that is a very tricky position for any of us and in such cases they call us Peregrine! Imagine a stray cat: If you bump into it, it will be really mad and most likely will leave its nails on you as a souvenir! A person with no dignity, with no place to go and nothing to lose, with no beliefs and moral directions could do anything to survive and so will do something tricky and bad. Yeah, that peregrine thing is not good!
Now, study the table and if you are a good girl I will tell you about the other planets too next time. Just keep your mouth shut if you see the Sun or Mars, because I really hate those guys while I am in Libra, OK?”
I promised that I wouldn’t say a word to anyone and offered him a cookie. He politely refused because he was on a diet and then informed me that he had an important business in my chart and had to go. Saturn and business in my chart in the same sentence always signifies troubles, so I started preparing for a new war- I wore my helmet, my armor, took a sword, stood in a fighting position and challenged him: “Come on! Bring it on!”
He totally ignored me, as he usually does. He was completely lost in his thoughts. Just before going out the door, he stood still for a moment: “I know that most people, you included, do not like me. Nobody understands me and yesterday I read in the paper that some people recommended a committee with main request my banishment from their charts!” (- while crying in despair! - ) “So, please show them Ptolemy’s table and tell them that it is a matter of Dignity!”
We finally shook hands. Then he turned retrograde and I watched him as he slowly moved away, using his umbrella as a cane. He had a bad knee you see and always walked with some difficulty.
-“Oh…the poor guy! He is not that Malefic after all – at least not when in Libra”, I thought. Then I noticed that there was a bit of Wisdom and lots of Justice on the little scale he brought for me. “What a nice gesture! Maybe I should invite him for dinner one of these days!”
Shortly after I started wondering if all that information he gave me had anything to do with reality and decided to study intensively. Here’s what I came up with: Saturn was telling the truth! Planets do have places where they feel good, bad, plain ok, or stray etc. I also discovered that this Dignity stuff in practice translates to the amount of power a planet has in order to act. Let’s say I am Venus in Taurus; in my sign, so very strong, well behaved and very happy to be myself and act in the play. Let’s say I am Venus in Scorpio; I am weak, I have no power to act in the play or I will behave badly given the chance.
The valuation of the planets’ essential dignities comes handy when we wish to know if, given the opportunity, a planet can actually do the job assigned. It also helps us to see if it is a good (benefic) planet or a bad (malefic) planet because the more essential dignity one has the better he behaves. So, for example, a strong essentially Saturn, is far better than the peregrine, or Detrimental, or Fallen Jupiter. Between you and me, Mr. Jupiter is currently peregrine and came to visit the other day pretending to be a Benefic – only to be able to steal my silverware as I unfortunately discovered! Well, I told him he will not see the inside of my house again - not until he enters his exaltation in Cancer!
Apart from judging a planet’s amount of power and knowing his quality of character, the table of dignities provides the way to define its motives depending on the dignities of the planets it is located. But that’s another story!
References: The Horary Textbook, John Frawley