A Closer Look at Exaltation (1)

by Andrew Carter

Dear Reader,
Today I am very happy to welcome a guest to Altair Astrology. Here is the first part of a four part article by Andrew Carter. It contains ideas that are very relevant to the discussion on “The Horoscope of the World” and on the Nodes in general.

The basis on which the exaltations were assigned is lost in antiquity, but they were not chosen by chance or observation; everything in the natural horoscope is founded upon patterns, and the pattern of exaltations is extremely ancient.

Most authorities, however, believe that it was the Sun’s north parallel of declination at noon on the summer solstice that inspired Ptolemy to designate the Sun as the ruler of Leo and the Moon as the ruler of Cancer, along with the other planets; it was from the Sun’s parallel of declination that he was then able to designate the planets’ detriments, exaltations, exiles, and the other essential dignities. Nonetheless, the exaltations of the planets were known to the Hindus as well as the Babylonians long before the days of Ptolemy.

In 1949, in the course of his research into the sidereal calendar of Babylon, Cyril Fagan discovered that at their heliacal settings, all the planets known to the ancients, with the exception of Venus and the nodes of the Moon, fell into their approximate degrees of exaltation (i.e., hypsomata) for the lunar year commencing April 4, 786 B.C.; while the longitudes of the Sun, the Moon, and Venus approximated their exaltation degrees on New Year’s Day (1st Nisan), provided the vernal point was placed in 13.8 degrees of Aries.

Be that as it may, a series of approximations dependent upon a particular fiducial does not establish a causal connection between heliacal phenomena and the origins of the planetary exaltations. One might with equal justification advance the claim that these heliacal phenomenon were employed by the Babylonians precisely because of their unique antecedence in the received astrological tradition. Astrology is not a forensic science.

There is, however, an “algorithm of exaltation.” Porphyry, in his aphorisms, asserts that 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 alone has the same sign for its exaltation as for its domicile, as it alone can be either masculine or feminine, diurnal or nocturnal. Moreover, the planets cast their exaltations clockwise, against the order of the signs, except for Mars and Jupiter, which are masculine planets exalted in feminine signs; they cast their exaltations counter-clockwise, in the order of the signs, i.e., in the opposite direction to the others.

Almansor, in his aphorisms, states: “Saturn and the Sun have their exaltations opposite, because one loves darkness and the other light; Jupiter and Mars are opposite, because one is a lover of justice and the other of misrule; and Mercury and Venus have opposite places, because one loves learning and science, and the other sensual pleasures—which are mutual enemies to each other.”

This algorithm fails to work with the nodes of the Moon. There are no less than six imputed signs of domicile and exaltation within the western astrological tradition assigned by such writers as pseudo-Agrippa and Gerard of Cremona, while within the eastern tradition the Jyotisa classics impute the ownership signs of Rahu and Ketu to virtually every sign of the zodiac. Are the nodes masculine or feminine? Diurnal or nocturnal? Choleric or melancholic? Sanguinic or phlegmatic? Various authorities offer divergent opinions. For the purposes of my research, I proceeded under the assumption that the nodes might be any combination of the above, and I then applied the “algorithm of exaltation” to each of these possible combinations. None of the results I obtained met the conditions required.

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