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.”