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Roots of essential dignities?
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PBrown



Joined: 20 Aug 2005
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Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 6:26 am    Post subject: Roots of essential dignities? Reply with quote

Hi all,

Can anyone tell me how the essential dignities were formed? I was looking at the table in "Christian astrology", but I do not understand the logic of how the dignities were created. If Lilly got them from Ptolemy, how did Ptolemy arrive at them?
If anyone can direct me to some articles or books on this, it would be much appreciated.

Peter
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Deb
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Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Peter,

Some links that might help:

Philosophy of Sign Rulership
http://www.skyscript.co.uk/rulership.html

The Egyptian Calendar & the Zodiac (Terms and Faces)
http://www.skyscript.co.uk/heritage/egyptians2.html

The Classical Use of Triplicities
http://www.skyscript.co.uk/triplicities.html

I don't think there is any detailed material on site regarding the origin of the exalations, but hope to upload some soon. Cyril Fagan's theory is that they celebrate the most important planetary events that occured in the year in which the temple of Nabu was constructed. Nabu (Mercury) was the patron god of astrology, so these planetary positions were considered exalted ones. There are other theories but Fagan's has a lot of support.
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###



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Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Cyril Fagan's theory is that they celebrate the most important planetary events that occured in the year in which the temple of Nabu was constructed. Nabu (Mercury) was the patron god of astrology, so these planetary positions were considered exalted ones.


So far this doesn’t sound promising: Some folks in Mesopotamia decided to build a temple to a god, and whatever happened with the planets during that period of time became the foundation of something we take so seriously and spend years studying. When we study Lilly and the astrologers before him the essential dignities seem to have such weight, meaning and lasting importance. When we trace them to “the most important planetary events that occured in the year in which the temple of Nabu was constructed” they appear as the concoction of a priesthood operating within the beliefs of its society and focused on the time of its society. But, in all fairness, I should read the theory in depth.
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Deb
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Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is more to it of course. Basically, Fagan was intrigued by a tablet dating to the time of Nebuchadnezzar (604-561 BC), which states that the Moon’s exaltation is in the constellation of Perseus and the Pleiades. At that time this would have corresponded to the Moon’s traditional exaltation of 3º Taurus, demonstrating that the planetary exaltations were established prior to the introduction of the zodiac. The tablet also speaks of the Sun’s exaltation in The Hireling, the Mesopotamian constellation which was later known as Aries.

Fagan realised that the Pleiades was an asterism connected to the New Year festival. Their year began with the first appearance of the crescent Moon after its conjunction with the Sun at the Vernal Equinox, and the 14º separating the exaltation of the Sun and Moon was about the same as the elongation of the Moon from the Sun on the first day of the Babylonian New Year (that is, when the new crescent actually becomes visible). This caused him to wonder whether the exaltations were expressing important planetary positions from a specific year and he later concluded that they were based upon celestial events of 786 BC.

Fagan suggested that the planetary exaltations were not decided at the time, but later looked up in temple records and chosen because 786 BC was considered a year of great importance to astrology. This was the year of the official opening in Calah of the new temple dedicated to Nabu, represented by the planet Mercury and recognized as the god of astrology, writing, wisdom and knowledge. He further speculated that it was after the Mesopotamians had been influenced by Egyptian ideas, and had been impressed by their astronomical ‘Horoscope of the Universe’, that they decided to establish their own year of importance, one that was said to mark the beginning of a special era for astrology. The temple dedicated to Nabu was used as an important centre for astrological study – the term ‘Chaldean’ is believed to originate as a term for those who studied at this center – so its official opening was an event of great significance. His theory is that the most prominent positions of the planets during the year were deemed to be exalted ones and, thus glorified, were handed down to posterity.

Ptolemy offered his own explanation for the exaltations and so did others such as Porphyry. But none of the philosophical suggestions put forward are totally convincing. On the other hand, Fagan’s theory has a lot going for it, and what’s interesting is that the new German artifact that has recently been discovered (see Sue’s post in the News, Notices forum) also represents the Sun with the Moon around the Pleides. If it is as old as they claim it is, this may mean we have to re-evaluate some of Fagan’s thinking, but there seems to be strong support for his views that the Sun and Moon’s exaltations are related to early spring-time makers.
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Sue



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Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just tonight been reading a book by Indigenous Australian woman, Munya Andrews, about the myths of the Pleiades. I was prompted to read it again after the documentary I saw the other night. She goes through all cultures, including her own, explaining the different belief systems around this group of stars. She mentions that the Pleiades was often tied to the New Year and that there is evidence that the Great Year, the 25,920 year cycle, was once called the Great Year of the Pleiades. She says that some scholars believe that the Pleiades calendar predates the calendars of the Sun and Moon. She also mentions a cave painting discovered in Lascaux, France that has been dated to around 17,000 years ago of an auroch (bull) with a cluster of stars above its back. Many speculate that this is a representation of Taurus and the Pleiades, making it one of the oldest representations known.
I really don't have time to read this book but it is a bit hard to put down.
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###



Joined: 08 Jul 2004
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Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb and Sue,

Now this is getting interesting! You both must either read a lot or are fortunate enough to have corner pubs where such discussions are frequent.

A study of traditional astrology so often seems to expand and take us far back in time. The historical study could be even more important than acquiring the electional skills to find the best time to plant tulip bulbs.

Kirk
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granny_skot



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Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd like to point out, that there is NO reason to believe such thoughts were original to the priests building the Temple at Nabu ( or even those building at the temple of Naboo, I love bad puns) so much of what we have is transitory, paper disintegrats, clay and stone tablets last longer, but they are still transitory. some of the middle eastern kingdoms were thoughtful enough to inscribe laws and other ancient thought into public stella, but this again is fairly rare, and also with a few exceptions, transitory. So we go as far back as we can with ancient wisdom.

The interesting thing about astrology, the more you review it, the more weight is added to events. If bad things seem to happen when Mars and Saturn are in agreement, well then, tis going to get a bad repurtation, if when the morning star and the new moon meet in the sky, love is more prominent in the air, well then, there again you get a reputation, it is about large bodies of work that agree. without agreement you have theory. Theories are great, but they need proofs, and that is what astrology is 'a great body of work'. (read great as large)

Granny
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PBrown



Joined: 20 Aug 2005
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Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 9:55 pm    Post subject: Hi Deb Reply with quote

Hi Deb,

Thanks for those article links, they look great!

Peter
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Sue



Joined: 11 Oct 2003
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Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I must have missed a step in the understanding of Fagan's theory or misunderstood it. Is he saying that the exalted degrees are the result of their positions at the time of the opening of the temple? This is impossible. The Sun is exalted at 19deg Aries and Mercury is exalted at 15deg Virgo. This can't happen because Mercury is never more than 28deg from the Sun. A chart of the planets in exaltation can't happen except in theory. Unless he means that each of these planets was in their degree of exaltation sometime that year. This is actually true. Saturn was in Libra at 21deg and Jupiter was in Cancer at 15deg, for example, just not at the same time. But it doesn't really make much sense this way unless they were already considered to be exalted in these degrees.
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Deb
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Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be fair to Fagan, this wasn’t just a ‘theory’. He conducted extensive research into this and it was pretty much part of his life-work. He wrote about it in his book Zodiacs Old and New. Or you can find it described in Rupert Gleadow’s work Origin of the Zodiac.

Before this there had been a lot of speculation about whether the exaltation positions represented a horoscope of some great event or a great person. But as Sue says, because of Mercury’s position it’s clear this cannot be the chart of one moment in time.

The most important planetary phenomena of ancient astrology were heliacal risings and settings. After studying all the planetary data for the period Fagan concluded that the exaltations were based upon celestial events of 786 BC - because all the planets had heliacal phenomenon in or near their exaltation degrees in that year. He then researched to discover if there was anything special about that year and discovered that it was in this year at Calah or Kalakh (Khaldea, Chaldean), that a temple was dedicated to Nabu (patron god of astrologers) upon which was inscribed Thou who shalt follow after, trust not in any other god.

Fagan’s argument is not that they were offering a new ‘Horoscope of the Universe’, but, being impressed by those ideas and wanting to compete with them, they decided to establish their own great year of importance - one in which their knowledge in astrology became spectacularly enhanced. It was only around this time that the tropical zodiac began to emerge and we start to see a great development of astrology after this period.

We know the exaltation positions are Mesopotamia in origin. Ptolemy, in his Tetrabiblos, did not list the specific degrees. He attempted to explain why each planet was allocated to its associated sign according to an agreement of nature or because of a specific relationship with the Sun. The Sun is exalted in Aries because in this sign the Sun makes its transition to the northern hemisphere and its power increases. The Moon receives her exaltation in Taurus because after her conjunction with the Sun in Aries (the New Year syzygy), she first appears and begins to increase her light in this sign. In his explanation of the Sun and Moon, Ptolemy is very close to making the same point as Fagan – that they represent the Sun’s return to the vernal equinox in spring, and the Moon’s first appearance after that event which was important in New Year (ie, spring) festivities, just as the Moon is important in setting the date of Easter today.

Beyond that Ptolemy’s explanation relies upon aligning planets with places that demonstrate their association with winds or humours. For example, Jupiter is assigned to Cancer because it has a particular affinity with the direction north and rules the northerly wind. In Cancer Jupiter reaches its furthest zodiacal position north and therefore comes to the fullness of its power. Venus is moist by nature and so receives her exaltation in Pisces, where the beginning of the moist Spring is indicated.

Porphyry, who wrote a commentary on Ptolemy, offers a further suggestion: the diurnal planets are exalted according to their trines and the nocturnal ones according to their sextiles, since the latter have weaker rays. For example, the Sun, in ruling Leo, has an exaltation in Aries, on the trine of Leo, but the Moon has its exaltation in Taurus, on the sextile of Cancer. However, the rule does not hold true for Mercury which, exalted in its own sign of Virgo, makes a square aspect to its other sign of rulership in Gemini.

I also remember that David McCann wrote an article about the exaltaions in the AA Journal some years back and he may have had some additional thoughts. But I only have a vague recollection of considering the article important and worth revisiting – at the moment those journals are packed in the loft where it’s not easy to get to them.

I don’t think that any of the attempts to rationalize the positions have been fully satisfying - for this issue it may be very constructive to think ‘outside the square’ like Fagan did.

Getting back to the original post, I have been asked to point out that Maurice McCann’s book The Sun & The Aspects explains how Ptolemy decided on the rulerships, exaltations etc. He deals with rulerships in chapter 3, 'Who Rules What and Why?' and in chapter 4, 'Essential Dignities’ and offers some information on the 'Terms' in the Appendix. I haven’t seen this book myself but the blurb looks very interesting. Details are on Maurice McCann’s website at http://www.tara-astrology.com
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Sue



Joined: 11 Oct 2003
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Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
To be fair to Fagan, this wasn’t just a ‘theory’. He conducted extensive research into this and it was pretty much part of his life-work.
It was very much a 'theory' in the proper sense of the word. Theory today generally has negative connotations. 'Oh its just a theory' suggests that its just something that someone thinks but there is no proof. The proper meaning of theory is quite different. A truer definition would be a set of hypotheses related by logical argument to explain and predict a wide variety of connected phenomena. This sounds like what Fagan did. Anyone who does any serious research starts from the position of having a theory. You can't proceed without one really.


Quote:
He wrote about it in his book Zodiacs Old and New. Or you can find it described in Rupert Gleadow’s work [i]Origin of the Zodiac.

Good. Gleadow is one book I do have with me. I shall have a close read of it. Smile
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Deb
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Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes. Hence my use of quote marks. It was Granny's post I had in mind, which seems to imply that Fagan's research should be rejected even without consideration.

I mean, Granny, what are we supposed to make of the comment:

Quote:
I'd like to point out, that there is NO reason to believe such thoughts were original to the priests building the Temple at Nabu


Does one capitalised word end the discussion? Fagan didn't claim that such thoughts were original, and in fact developed his theory partly out of the knowledge that this kind of occurence was in keeping with the ancient cultures involved. The temple wasn't built at Nabu it was dedicated to Nabu, who was very important to astrology as the Mesopotamian equivalent of Thoth, both of whom were later incorporated into the worship of Hermes who rules the Hermetic principles. That's why traditional texts tell us that Mercury rules astrologers.

I'm not asking anyone to accept Fagan's views - just pointing out what they were. They deserve consideration if only because Fagan conducted more reflection and detailed investigation into this matter than anyone else I'm aware of.
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Sue



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Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think what Fagan discovered certainly has merit. It has to be more than a coincidence that these planets were all in these positions in one year. I have been working on the thema mundi lately and there are some interesting concepts behind the charts. However, none of them appear to have any factual backing. Firmicus said it was simply a teaching device that had been devised by Nechepso and Petosiris with the backing of Asclepius to teach people about the rulerships. The concept of the thema mundi was very prominent in medieval Christian artwork.
I was trying to see if the planets were actually in these positions in that year but was having a lot of trouble making it work. For example, I couldn't get Saturn to be at 21deg that year. Until I realised two things. I was thinking of the year as Jan-Dec when in fact it was April-Mar. I also realised that it wouldn't be the tropical zodiac I should be looking at. So I clicked on to the Fagan-Allen zodiac selection in Solar Fire and the whole thing fell into place. There is a fourteen degree difference between the two zodiacs. Which, of course, begs a question about using these degrees in our tropical zodiacs.
Anyway, it is all very interesting and something I will have to look at a lot more closely when I have the time.
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Andrew



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Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Diurnal planets are exalted according to their trines: the Sun from Leo to Aries, Jupiter from Pisces to Cancer, and Saturn from Aquarius to Libra.

Nocturnal planets are exalted according to their sextiles: the Moon from Cancer to Taurus, Venus from Taurus to Pisces, and Mars from Scorpio to Capricorn.

Mercury has the same sign for its exaltation as for its rulership: it can be either masculine or feminine, or diurnal when rising before the Sun and nocturnal when setting after the Sun.

The planets cast their exaltations clockwise, against the order of the signs.

The exceptions are Mars and Jupiter (masculine planets exalted in feminine signs): they cast their exaltations in the opposite direction to the others.

An ancient Indian astrological treatise called the "Bhavartha Ratnakara" states that the north node (Rahu) is co-lord of Cancer, exalted in Taurus, and the south node (Ketu) is co-lord of Capricorn, exalted in Scorpio, by virtue of their association with the Moon.

Both rulerships and exaltations replicate the same symbolic pattern, but from different perspectives.

Rulerships:

[Aquarius] Saturn + South Node [Capricorn]

[Pisces] Jupiter [Sagittarius]

[Aries] Mars [Scorpio]
[Taurus] Venus [Libra]

[Gemini]Mercury [Virgo]

[Cancer] Moon + Sun [Leo]

Exaltations:

[Aquarius] Mars [Capricorn]
[Pisces] Venus [Sagittarius]

[Aries] Sun + South Node [Scorpio]
[Taurus] Moon + Saturn [Libra]

[Gemini] Mercury [Virgo]
[Cancer] Jupiter [Leo]

In both the exaltations and rulerships, Mars balances Venus, Mercury balances Jupiter, the Sun balances Saturn, and the Moon balances the South Node. Astronomy may have inspired this arrangement, but a symbolic worldview and an aesthetic sensibility codified it. Temples raised to ancient gods are expressions of this pattern, not the reason behind it.
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Deb
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Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Andrew,

This is the reasoning that Porphyry proposed which I outlined above. Many feel that the inconsistencies in the arrangement leave it slightly less than convincing. Thanks for demonstrating it more fully.

Quote:
Temples raised to ancient gods are expressions of this pattern, not the reason behind it.


That couldn’t have been the case, because at that time the tropical zodiac had not been established and the positions were monitored against the visible constellations. They work when the tropical zodiac is projected back onto it (for example: the Moon conjunct the Pleides would equate to 3 Taurus), but since the astrologers of the time were not measuring against a 12-sign zodiac, and since the exaltation degrees are known to be older than the sign-rulership scheme, they could not have been raising temples to express this, and it is similarly hard to reason that the exaltation positions were designed to compliment sign rulerships in anyway.

I prefer to remain open-minded about this because no one’s views have been accepted as definitive. The one point of the argument that I believe is very convincing is the notion that the Sun’s exaltation originated as a marker for spring, and the Moon’s is directly related to that. The return of the Sun to the Vernal equinox was, after all, the pivotal event of the year.
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