Category: Astrology Basics Written by Robert Wilkinson Views: 914
As I explained in this article, the planets and signs are two of the primary building blocks in Astrology are the planets and the signs. In this artricle we explore the concept of “exaltation” and “fall” when the planets are in certain signs and what this means. Even if you’re familiar with the exaltation and fall signs of the planets, you’ll understand more about the nature of the planets and why they express as they do when you’re done here.
Just as “home” signs of a planet indicate the two parts of that planet’s essential nature, where it is at home, the “exile” signs of a planet indicate the two signs where it is as far from home as possible, i.e., “out of its element.” Along with the “home” and “exile” signs, each planet also has what is called it “exaltation,” as well as the sign opposite to the exaltation, which is known as its “fall.”
Some of these have come to us from antiquity, while others have been a source of speculation across the centuries. As I see it, “exaltation” can very well mean that position receives recognition and an “exalted” status, but in my experience over the years it seems a planet in its exaltation sign is actually in its “grounds for greatest growth.” It is not necessarily an unearned beneficial expression, as much as our planetary function has its greatest growth and potential “exalted” expression in that sign.
On the other hand, the sign opposite the sign of exaltation is termed the planet’s “fall,” from antiquity signifying all kinds of terrible things, afflictions, and debilities. In my experience no planet is necessarily bad or debilitated in any sign; again, it’s the planet’s healthy or unhealthy function which matters far more than any sign position.
Over the years I have found a planet in its “fall” could be seen as the sign where it grows the least. It’s not bad, as much as that planet doesn’t have much to learn in that sign expression. Like mixing two colors or two tones that don’t do well together. If a planet is healthy, it can always find a positive expression, even if it’s not growing much by demonstrating that expression.
In traditional astrology, it was always believed that a planet in exaltation was automatically “good” and in its fall was “bad.” And yet, when we are in an intense growth pattern, it is often uncomfortable with some challenge, while when we’re in a situation where there’s nothing for us to learn, it may be that all we can do is follow through the best we’re able. “Good” or “bad” literally don’t apply to anything related to a planet in a sign. Either we are functioning in a healthy way or we’re not.
The positive or negative expression of our planets is not about our signs, since they show the tone and color of how our Inner Lights shine through us. How functional or dysfunctional our planetary expression is determines how we use our planetary sign positions. As I offer in Saturn: Spiritual Master, Spiritual Friend,how well we express our planetary potential is entirely about how well we’ve made Saturn our friend or neglected its wisdom.
The Planetary Exaltations
As noted earlier, in traditional astrology each planet has a sign of exaltation. While some of these have been more or less settled from antiquity, there has also been some confusion related to assigning the right planet to the right sign in a couple of instances. The traditional exaltations of the planets are as follows:
Sun - Aries
Moon - Taurus
Mercury – Aquarius AND Virgo
Venus - Pisces
Mars - Capricorn
Jupiter - Cancer
Saturn - Libra
Uranus – Scorpio or Leo?
Neptune – Cancer ?
Pluto – Leo or Aries?
North Node - Gemini
South Node - Sagittarius
I agree with some of these, and disagree with some of these, and will now explain why. You can see that the ancients were fairly clear about the exaltations of the 7 visible planets, while more recent astrologers have offered speculative and inconclusive associations which make little to no sense.
It is easy to see the Sun does best expressing itself on its own terms and initiatives in Aries while the Moon grows best by the gentle stable enjoyment and security of Taurus. It is easy to see that Mercury, our coordinating principle and “The Guide of Souls,” grows best in the intellectually brilliant sign of Aquarius, where it can synthesize many pieces of information into an overview.
It is easy to see that Venus, our principle of relatedness, grows most in the compassionate and empathic sign of Pisces, while Mars grows most in the self-discipline, restraint, and calculated expression of Capricorn. Jupiter in Cancer encourages growth in the self-gathering, self-protected personal world of caring and sympathy, and Saturn grows quite well in the balance, justice, fairness, and ideological Libra. The North Node develops through learning and communicating, and the South Node would do best if our line of least resistance were in the philosophical and spiritual sign of Sagittarius.
I do not believe Mercury is exalted in Virgo, since being in its home sign, it is in its natural expression. The outer planets present an entirely different challenge, since we need to examine exactly what would constitute the grounds of greatest growth for Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto?
Uranus is erratic, revolutionary, explosive, and unpredictable. It is willful, ungovernable, and eternally creative, unique, and innovative. While Scorpio is a sign of explosiveness and innovation, I question how much Uranus can grow in a sign which is fixed, emotional, more intent on getting rid of the past than embracing the future, and very, very intense.
On evaluating how the uniqueness of Uranus might find its greatest growth, I believe it would be in Virgo, since the Uranian genius needs structuring, and practical grounded methodology to be at its best. The cardinality and fixity of Uranus needs the mutability of Virgo, while the “Spiritual Capricorn” quality of Uranus could do very well in Virgo, the 9th sign from Capricorn, and therefor is “the truth” of Capricorn. So I believe Uranus is exalted in Virgo.
Neptune is associated with vague conditions, receptivity to confusing and nebulous ideas and vast feelings, and a sense of uncertainty as we navigate the fogs of collective consciousness. I do not believe Neptune in Cancer would be a place of greatest growth, since Cancer, being our early life conditioning, needs its “crucible” to feel protected during early years of tender growth. That’s why I believe Neptune is exalted in Scorpio, the sign of focus, concentration, fearlessness, and courage. Neptune would grow through all of these, as well as the sense of loyalty inherent in Scorpio.
As many of you know, I believe that Pluto is the spiritual ruler of Aries, and as the Sun is already exalted in Aries, it would make sense that the Divine Transformer would find its grounds of greatest growth in the consistent and steady heart fire of Leo. When Pluto is loving, creative, noble and playful, we grow out of the fear of the Lord of the Underworld and find that we can use its Divine energies creatively in dynamic transformation to bring out the heart fire of Leo.
The "Fall" of the planets are the signs opposite those of the planetary exaltation. Again, just because the planet is in a sign where it doesn’t grow much doesn’t mean the expression will be negative. Just because a planet is as far away from its "grounds of greatest growth" as possible, in a sign whose energies contradict its best growth expression, does not mean it disharmonious in that sign. Any planet can show its productive, positive light in any sign. Here are the “fall” of the planets.
Sun - Libra
Moon - Scorpio
Mercury - Leo
Venus - Virgo
Mars - Cancer
Jupiter - Capricorn
Saturn - Aries
Uranus - Pisces
Neptune - Taurus
Pluto - Aquarius
North Node - Sagittarius
South Node - Gemini
You can see how some of these signs might be difficult for the planets involved, but again, there is always a positive way to express these positions. For example, some of the greatest icons of history had Sun in Libra, while a Mars in Cancer might be the one who takes the initiative to protect the home and family while finding ways to keep supply lines open. Jupiter may not grow much in the restricted, sometimes rule bound sign of Capricorn, but that position is legend for being able to make small opportunities into long term benefit!
While the ruling quality of the Sun doesn’t do well in the eternal weighing of nuances of Libra, and the Moon certainly grows more in the gentle calm stability of Taurus than the emotional intensity and restless of Scorpio, obviously there are productive outlets for these positions. Mercury does better seeing the big picture than taking things personally in Leo, just as our Venus relations do better with empathy (Pisces) than criticism (Virgo).
Still, when our planets have a healthy expression they will do well regardless of what sign they occupy in our natal or progressed charts, or where they are in the sky. As the I Ching states, in the hands of a great Master no material goes unused; everything can be made use of in the right way and time. That could very well sum up how to approach the sign of a planetary “fall.”
So with what I've offered you about the homes and exiles, the exaltations and falls, take a new look at how each type of planetary energy is at home, out of its place, in its greatest growth, or an energy where there’s not much to learn. You may see a lot about your own chart in this, and understand things in play in your past and present, both in the inner world of natal and progressed factors, and in the outer world of the transits.
© Copyright 2020 Robert Wilkinson - https://www.aquariuspapers.com
About the author:
Robert wilkinson An internationally-known astrologer, author, public speaker, metaphysician, and futurist, with over 25 years experience as a counselor and educator. He has presented hundreds of public talks on all aspects of Astrology, the Eastern Wisdom tradition, the Western Wisdom tradition and promoted many mass gatherings and cultural events. Some of his specific areas of interest and expertise include personality profiles, degree patterns, integrative astrology, various aspect harmonics, among others.
Reprinted on crystalwind.ca. with persmission from Robert Wilkinson.
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