A Grammer of Accidence, or What you Might have Missed

There are many words in the vocabulary of traditional astrology that have over time changed and whose usage has been modified to meet modern needs and experience. One of these is the word-complex, ‘accident/accidental’. Usually the word is associated with unpleasant chance happenings, as in, “He had a car accident”. Many today, may not even be aware that an earlier usage was very intensively metaphysical and directed toward describing a particular state of a person or object. For example in the sentence, “Man has reason.”, the word ‘reason’ describes an incipient or essential quality of human nature. In the sentence, “The man is green.”, the word ‘green’ describes a particular state that the man in question is in or has; regardless if ‘green’ describes his appearance (seasick), his politics, or his level of competence. Grammatically ‘green’ is a predicate used to describe a condition that may be variable. The man may later be ‘red’ from embarrassment or he has changed his politics. He is still a man but he is red, the exact opposite of green. There is no contradiction. Such descriptions of changeable condition may be termed ‘accident’ or ‘accidental’.

If we apply this to our discussion on the dignity or debility of a planet we see that generally both are accidental, as both are predicates of a condition that can change. Whether a planet has dignity or debility is dependant on its position at the moment figured in a particular chart. An essential quality of a planet is that it is in movement.

It is only when we go a level deeper that we can use ‘essential’ and ‘accidental’ as predicates for dignity and debility. Then ‘essential’ describes a planetary position that is either in accord or discord with the intrinsic qualities of the planet. ‘Accidental’ describes a situation that may or may not be favourable. A planet can have both essential and accidental dignities and debilities.

For clarity here the six possible combinations:

  1. essential dignity alone
  2. essential debility alone
  3. essential dignity with accidental dignity
  4. essential dignity with accidental debility
  5. essential debility with accidental dignity
  6. essential debility with accidental debility

If we examine the chart of Princess Margaret, may she rest in peace, we can list the following:


  1. none
  2. none
  3. Sun in domicile and conjunct Regulus,
    Venus in domicile and angular,
    Saturn in domicile and angular
  4. Sun in domicile and cadent,
    Sun in domicile and slow in motion,
    Moon in domicile and face and cadent,
    Moon in domicile and face and conjunct Procyon,
    Mercury in domicile and exaltation and cadent,
    Venus in domicile and conjunct Algorab,
    Mars in term and cadent,
    Jupiter in exaltation and term but in opposition to Saturn,
    Saturn in domicile and retrograde
  5. none
  6. none

Here I would like to cite a comment made by Caroline Allen recently and refer you to it:

“I have often cited the chart of Princess Margaret Rose of England as being the most ‘essentially dignified’ chart I had come across. She had 5 planets in rulership and two in exaltation, and yet seemed to have contributed nothing of significant public value with her gifts, and in fact it is only for the scandals surrounding her life that she is remembered now that she is dead.

Perhaps this is because her natal Lord 1 Mars is the only planet not in his own domicile and was located in the cadent 3rd house? Thus Margaret was favoured by all her other planets but her own chart ruler lacked both the ‘will’ and the ‘power’ to use them, that Boethius speaks of.

I have often wondered why Margaret never made a bid for the throne. Her chart on the surface if far more regal than that of her elder sister!

But in fact the Princess has 3 cadent planets. The Sun and Mercury in the 6th and Mars in the 3rd. The Sun on Regulus could also be classed as an accidental ‘debility’ inasmuch as power, honour and riches were given at birth, only to be taken away by trouble, disgrace, sickness and ultimate ruin.”

As we can see from our list each of the planets in the chart has essential dignity, some even have accidental dignities but each also has at least one accidental debility. The ‘accidents’ that the dignified planets have modify their condition. What at first appears to be a chart full of promise has under scrutiny also testimonies that lessen that promise. The converse can also be true. A chart that may at first glance seem miserable may have hidden testimonies that temper but do not break the native.


12 thoughts on “A Grammer of Accidence, or What you Might have Missed

  1. Dear Thomas

    That last statement of yours is so very true!

    It is interesting that you class the Sun on Regulus as an accidental dignity whereas I had taken it to be an accidental debility. Actually it is usually both. Regulus can bestow honor and glory with one hand only to take it way again at a heavy price. I suppose it depends on just what price you are willing to pay that decides whether Regulus is a blessing or a curse.


  2. Hi, Thomas: Thanks for the good article. I see that you preempted discussion about that Sun on Regulus by observing that this might be an accidental debility as well as the usually ascribed dignity. I wonder if those holds true for all natals with a key planet on Regulus.

    I have one of the worst natal charts ever, but managed to achieve some things of note in my career, though I could never break through to a professional level that I felt my abilities promised. I should go back through my chart and examine it more closely. Frawley encouraged me to use my Mars in Scorpio in 12 (Asc ruler) as strongest planet in the chart, rather than Venus in Scorpio in 1st.


  3. Hi Chad,

    Nice to hear from you!
    It is always worthwhile to re-examine the more ‘difficult’ charts. That is why the article has the subtitle, “What you might have missed”. As Caroline has pointed out the Sun conjunct Regulus may also be considered an accidental debility as well as at first an accidental dignity. This is probably true of the few ‘benign’ fixed stars. The gifts that they bring may not always be how we envision them.

    best wishes,

  4. Good Sunday Morning Thomas and Chad :0)

    Whilst we aren’t privy to the personal tragedies or falls from grace experienced by the countless anonymous people who have the Sun on Regulus, I can give you one instance Chad that you will immediately appreciate.

    King Louis XVI of France was born to the “great wealth, honour, preferment good fortune and high office” predicted by Robson when the natal Sun was conjunct Regulus, but alas it also signified “ that the native shall die an unhappy death; or at least that all his honours, greatness and power shall at last suffer an eclipse and set in a cloud”.

    As we all know, poor King Louis went to the guillotine on 21st January 1793. 😦

    Natal Details

    King Louis XVI
    06:26 am
    23rd August 1754
    Versailles, France
    48N 48’ 002*E 08’
    Ascendant: 13* 51’ Virgo

    Regulus on the natal ascendant didn’t help keep King Charles 1st of England’s head joined to his shoulders either!

    Natal Details
    King Charles 1st
    21:49 LMT +0:13:56
    29th November 1600 New Style
    Dunfermline, Scotland
    56N04 003W29

    Ascendant 24* 35’ Leo (conjunct Regulus in 1600 owing to precession).

    Best fishes

  5. Hello Caroline,

    Good Sunday Morning to you too! Thank you for the chart details. It does give pause for thought, particularly if one should have a planet in conjunction with Regulus. Then a ‘yippie’ I have a Regulus contact in my chart should be more muted until the whole situation of the chart is considered!

    Look at the fixed star Altair, after which this weblog is named. Here is what V. Robson says in “The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology”:

    It confers a bold, confident, valiant, unyielding, ambitious and liberal nature, great and sudden but ephemeral wealth, and a position of command, makes its natives guilty of bloodshed, and gives danger from reptiles.

    Now that is a mixed bag of possibility! Positive and negative are mixed. Like Regulus it is of the nature of Mars/Jupiter.

    best wishes,

  6. Thomas said: “Positive and negative are mixed. Like Regulus it is of the nature of Mars/Jupiter.”

    Of course! That explains the ebullient but contrary nature of those particular stars :0)


  7. Good Morning Caroline and Thomas,

    FWIW here is what Reinhold Ebertin has to say about Altair.
    (Hoffmann/Ebertin, Die Bedeutung der Fixsterne, p60):

    “Atair (sic)[…] is of a Mars nature with an added mixture of Mercurial and Jupiter influences.
    […] In connection with beneficial planets Atair is said to bring boldness, bravery and generosity, especially near the ascendant.
    Are Mercury and Moon in this place, perkiness and foolhardiness are a way of expressing one self.”

    Ebertin gives Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s chart who has Moon conjunct Altair as an example for the influence of this fixed star.

    Best wishes

  8. ‘Morning Peter

    Many thanks for Ebertin. I am a huge fan! :0)

    We shall have to ask Thomas why his site was named after Altair, and if indeed the Moon and Mercury are involved!

    (It would certainly explain the ‘perkiness and foolishness’ of our egregious resident Dame! )

    Fin waves

  9. Hello Caroline and Peter!

    Thank you for the Ebertin quote. And I suppose I will now have to reveal the secret of this weblog being named after Altair! First of all Regulus is far too common. 🙂 Secondly the Eagle seems appropriate for star- and earth- gazing! Which is what astrology attempts to do.

    aquiliningly yours,

  10. hi everybody, thank you for this interesting reading, i started to search more on fixed stars because i noticed a friend having strong Regulus, Spica and Alhena. Do you have some experience with the last two mentioned as well?

    To give you a more concrete picture of her horoscope:
    sun/venus conj Regulus 10th house, mercury and jupiter also in leo / 10th house
    11th house: moon and black moon on 6°virgo
    ASC on Spica
    Mars on Alhena

    She was born 23rd August 1979, Trencin, Slovakia, 10:55 CEDT -02:00
    how would you work with the fixed stars in this case?

    She considers herself a lucky child, and from my point of view she’s a very smart lady, charming and succesful at work. When I met her, I said to myself There is something with this person, something exceptional and great in the way she behaves and radiates. While analysing her horoscope she amited to still having problems finding a partner that would complement her. Sometimes she faces difficulties with close environment which does not accept her quick and revolutionary ideas, she cannot stand rigidly thinking people or standards that seem not working or old fashioned to her.

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