Two high-tech explorers are trekking through mountainous terrain, and since they trust their technology, they separated. After all they still have radio contact…
“Hello William, are you receiving me?”
“Yes, Edward, but just barely. Th……r..e i………. plet… of sta..mph.”
“Could you repeat? There seems to be heavy static.”
“mmm…..ph.tztz. tztzz. ssspila…”
“Hello William are you receiving me? Hello? Hello?”
“Reception”, “receiving light” are frequent concepts used in older astrological literature and may seem confusing to a modern reader.
As our hapless explorers are discovering sometimes there are dead or skip zones which cannot be reached by radio-waves. It is likewise with the planets and their interactions.
First we have what is called the “reception of light”. For example, Venus receives the light of the Sun. They behold one another is another expression used in the literature – in modern terms they aspect one another. The word aspect, says the same thing, it is derived from the Latin, ad- specere –> aspicere –> aspectus, to look, view or gaze upon. In the chart below I have indicated the classic aspects of sextile, square, trine and opposition; you will note that there are also “skip” or “dead” zones where the light is not received. These are regions, to use our explorer analogy, where there is plenty of static. The planets do not behold each other when so placed.
While modern astrologers make no distinction between who is aspecting who, earlier astrologers saw a qualitative difference. Does a planet receive an aspect from another in the flow of the signs (a sinister aspect) or against the flow (a dexter aspect)? In our example Venus receives the light of the Sun in the flow of the signs. The aspect is sinister. The Sun receives Venus’ light against the flow and so the aspect is dexter. Qualitatively the Sun is the stronger planet in this aspect configuration.
Reception has a second usage and that is in terms of dignity. Let us say in the above example that the Sun is in Aries and Venus in Leo. The Sun is exalted in Aries and by day is also in his triplicity and should he be in 10 to 19 degrees, also in his face. Venus in Leo has little or no dignity (she is in her terms from 13 to 19 degrees) So the Sun has strong dignity and Venus little. But now it gets really interesting. How do Venus and the Sun receive each other? Venus in Leo is in the Sun’s domicile. Sun in Aries is in Venus’ detriment.
As you can see considering reception in terms of dignity adds another level to how each planet receives the light of another. In the above example the Sun is the dominant planet both through placement and through dignity.
Oh and by the way our explorer story has a happy end:
“Edward, Hallo Edward are you receiving me now?”
“Yes William, all clear, we seem to be in sextile. See you at base camp in an hour…”
…well done! As a long time astrology student and practitioner, it is always good to come across articles that seeks to ‘shed a little light’ on the various concepts of this ancient science. It’s that much better when ‘down to earth’ stories, like the one you use here, get incorporated into the mix
you’ve also amassed a brilliant collection of materials and texts here. Lots to explore!
…and thank you! Happy to hear you liked the story. 🙂 And enjoy your exploration of Altair Astrology!
Nice analogy Thomas!
And I am so glad I am still ‘receiving’ you LOL!!
Yes, I think it works quite well! I also thought of fog as a complementary possibility. 🙂
Why is Venus dexter if she is in Leo and the Sun in Aries?
The Sun moves from Aries towards Leo. Why is this “against the flow?”
An aspect is not static, it takes place between two planets and that is exactly what is happening. The older conception of “receiving” reflects activity. It is so easy to fall into the trap of considering an aspect as an object, on the same level as a planet.
If Venus is the reference point she is receiving the light of the Sun and this is in the flow of the signs. The light flows from Aries to Leo. The aspect from the Sun to Venus is sinister.
If the Sun is the reference point he is receiving the light of Venus against the flow of signs. The aspect from Venus to the Sun is dexter.
Neither Venus or the Sun are dexter or sinister, it is the aspect. It is the same aspect but whether sinister or dexter depends on its reference point.