by Andrew Carter
In the interests of a more comprehensive survey of the subject, it should be noted that Komilla Sutton, along with almost all other Vedic astrologers, states that Caput Draconis is of the element of air while Cauda Draconis is of the element of fire; this seems to be generally accepted within the Hindu tradition. However, within the European tradition, there exist several variants on which of the elements is allotted to the head and tail of the dragon. Pseudo-Agrippa allots the element of earth to Caput and water to Cauda; he dismisses the tradition that allots earth to Caput and fire to Cauda, even though this is the tradition that was later adopted by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Nevertheless, Martin Goodson, a British astrologer and geomancer who works within the tradition of the Golden Dawn, allots Caput to fire and Cauda to earth; while GH Frater PCA states that the effect of Caput Draconis is similar to that of Neptune and the effect of Cauda Draconis is similar to that of Uranus. In terms of the elemental attributions assigned to these planets by Victorian astrologers, this allots water to Caput and earth to Cauda and reverses the attributions of pseudo-Agrippa. And these are just a few examples of the differences of opinion that exist among various authorities or, more aptly, conjecturists.
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. The only air sign other than Gemini in which a planet is exalted is Libra, in which Saturn, which is cold and dry in temperament, is exalted; the only fire sign other than Sagittarius in which a planet is exalted is Aries, in which Sol, which is hot and dry in temperament, is exalted. In the psychology of temperament, the element of earth is cold and dry, invariable; while the element of fire is hot and dry, volatile.
Claude Dariot, the sixteenth-century French astrologer and contemporary of Michele de Nostradame, writes: “The head of the dragon is in all points like to Mercury, good with the good planets, and evil with the evil; for being joined with the good planets, he doth increase their goodness, and with the evil their malice.” Thus, Caput Draconis is “like to Mercury,” who is himself “of mutable nature, good with good and bad with bad planets … according to the planets to whom he is joined; but of his own nature cold and dry.” Again, in the psychology of temperament, the element of earth is cold and dry.
In alchemical symbolism, the wingless dragon is the personification of Sulphur and its nature is masculine. The fifteenth-century alchemist Arnaldus de Bruxella notes that Sulphur corresponds to earth; Sulphur is earth cooked by heat. Dom Antoine-Joseph Pernety, the eighteenth-century Benedictine monk, writes: “The philosophical Sulphur is an earth of an extreme tenuity, igneity and dryness; it contains a fire of a very abundant nature, this is why it has been called Fire of the Stone.”
The wingless dragon impregnates himself by swallowing his tail, which represents the male organ; his mouth represents the female organ. The dragon consumes his body into his head when he devours his tail; Sulphur is transformed into Mercury: “They that hold Sulphur and Mercury to be the First Matter of the Stone, by the name of Sulphur they understand Sol; by Mercury the Philosophic Luna.” The masculine dragon whose nature corresponds to Sulphur is the wingless dragon Caput Draconis; he exhales a poisonous vapor, a “most pernicious poison.” The winged dragon is the personification of Quicksilver and its nature is feminine. The modern magician Taylor Ellwood notes that liquid Quicksilver corresponds to molten fire. Sir Edward Kelley, the sixteenth-century alchemist, writes: “Know that Quicksilver is a consuming fire which mortifies bodies by its contact.”
The female dragon whose nature corresponds to Quicksilver is the winged dragon Cauda Draconis; she is transformed into a creature who exhales fire only after she unites with the wingless dragon which corresponds to Sulphur. These two dragons themselves represent the perennial tension of opposites; the winged dragon tries to prevent the wingless dragon from flying. In analytical terms, individuation is impossible until the wingless dragon flies.
editors Afterword 🙂
I have found Andrew Carter’s contribution to the discussion on exaltation very valuable. It shows the application of a mode of thinking that can be called the principle of reversibility. A commonly used concept is looked at backwards. This usually opens new vistas of insight. And so it is very thought provoking to think of the domiciles of the planets being derived from the exaltations…
Thank you very much indeed Andrew!