A Closer Look at Exaltation (4)

by Andrew Carter

These same eastern sages assign the sanguine temperament to the dragon’s head and the choleric temperament to the dragon’s tail, which is why the head is held to be like Jupiter, which rules the sanguine temperament, while the tail is held to be like Mars, which rules the choleric temperament. However, the dragon’s head can also act like Jupiter run amok: it can become inflated, and it can create a destructive chaos of excess, which is why in Jyotisa, both nodes are considered malefic planets.

The exaltations were often assigned to particular degrees in ordinal numbers: Jupiter to the fifteenth degree of Cancer; Mercury to the fifteenth degree of Virgo; the Sun to the nineteenth degree of Aries, the Moon to the third degree of Taurus, Saturn to the twenty-first degree of Libra, Venus to the twenty-seventh degree of Pisces; and Mars to the twenty-eighth degree of Capricorn. However, medieval astrologers believed that the Via Combusta, the combust path, extended from the eighteenth degree of Libra to the third degree of Scorpio, which suggests that the Sun was exalted in the eighteenth rather than the nineteenth degree of Aries, while the Moon appears from under its beams precisely fifteen degrees away, by direct motion, in the condition known as vazarite, in the third degree of Taurus.

Indeed, if the eighteenth degree of Aries is assigned to the Sun and the twenty-seventh (rather than the twenty-eighth) degree of Capricorn is assigned to Mars, a noticeable pattern of numerical intervals appears; and if the third degree of Gemini is assigned to Caput Draconis and the third degree of Sagittarius to Cauda Draconis, the sum of these numbers is equivalent to the assigned values of the orbs of influence (before and behind) preferred by William Lilly. If we wish to maintain the nineteenth degree of Aries for the Sun and the twenty-eighth degree of Capricorn for Mars, then the sexagesimal intervals of the exaltation degrees disappear, but the sum of the degrees is likewise equivalent to the assigned values of the orbs of influence preferred by Ibn Ezra.
Are these mere coincidences? The odds against it seem incalculable; there is no place for chance or coincidence in traditional symbolic systems. The numerical values of the orbs of influence might, however, have been devised to coincide with the sum of those of the exaltation degrees. An examination of the intervals that exist among the planets within the degrees of their exaltation denote, as Robert van Gent provides for in his Almagest Ephemeris Calculator, a constant orb of 12 degrees for each of the seven planets.

Do we consider planets in aspect to the nodes? Most astrologers would say no: the nodes have no rays, they cast no rays, they have not been attributed orbs of influence, therefore only the conjunction is to be considered, even though the nodes may be directed to the five hylegical places. But this is a rather narrow interpretation of what it means to “cast no rays.” To cast no rays means to have no orb of influence, but it does not necessarily follow from this that the nodes cannot be aspected. On the contrary, as William Ramesey aptly notes: “ … they have no aspect to any planet; but they may be, and are aspected by them.”


3 thoughts on “A Closer Look at Exaltation (4)

  1. You are most welcome!

    “How much of it is absolute fact, and how much the embellishment of fancy, it is fruitless to conjecture; let us not, however, reject every romantic incident as incompatible with real life, but let us sometimes take a poet at his word.” (Washington Irving)

  2. Further to this (and subsequent) references to the nodes and temperament, this alchemical reference from Gloria Mundi sonsten Paradeiss Taffel, Frankfurt, 1620, was just brought to my attention:

    “The Sun is its Father, the Moon its Mother:

    “If you have those two spirits, they bring forth the Stone, which is prepared out of one part of Sulphur, or Sun, and four parts of Mercury, or Moon. The Sulphur is warm and dry, the Mercury cold and moist. That must again be dissolved into water, which before was water, and the body, which before was mercury, must again become mercury.”

    The Bundahisn tells us that the celestial dragon is bound to the vehicles of the Sun and the Moon; this alchemical text seems to allot Caput to Fire and Cauda to Water.

    Nicholas Flamel writes:

    “The male sulphur, is nothing but fire and air; and the true sulphur is as a fire, but not the vulgar, which contains no metallic substance. The feminine sperm is argent vive, which is nothing but earth and water; these two sperms the ancient sages called two dragons or serpents, of which, the one is winged, the other not. Sulphur not flying the fire, is without wings; the winged serpent is argent vive, borne up by the wind, therefore in her certain hour she flies from the fire, not having fixity enough to endure it. Now if these two sperms, separated from themselves, be united again, by powerful nature, in the potentiality of mercury, which is the metallic fire: being thus united, it is called by the philosophers the flying dragon.”

    Carl Jung, as referenced by John Opsopaus, tells us that the wingless dragon is the alchemical sulphur (golden yellow) and the winged dragon is the mercury (silvery white) (Jung, MC 117).

    In the afterword to this article, I write: “For myself, I tend to accept the judgment that allots earth to Caput Draconis and fire to Cauda Draconis, as this seems to make the most symbolic sense.” Not having been aware of the above texts until just a couple of days ago (alchemy is not my forte), you may take those words with a large grain of alchemical salt. More grist for the mill!

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