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:
- essential dignity alone
- essential debility alone
- essential dignity with accidental dignity
- essential dignity with accidental debility
- essential debility with accidental dignity
- essential debility with accidental debility
If we examine the chart of Princess Margaret, may she rest in peace, we can list the following:
- Sun in domicile and conjunct Regulus,
Venus in domicile and angular,
Saturn in domicile and angular
- 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
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.