Exaltation of the Planets

The astrological tradition has bequeathed to us the following statements of suggestive magnitude but sealed content :

The Sun is exalted in Aries and falls in Libra. The Moon is exalted in Taurus and falls in Scorpio. Mercury is exalted in Virgo and falls in Pisces. Venus is exalted in Pisces and falls in Virgo. Mars is exalted in Capricorn and falls in Cancer. Jupiter is exalted in Cancer and falls in Capricorn. Saturn is exalted in Libra and falls in Aries.

These accepted facts of astrological wisdom have come to be used mostly quantitatively and pragmatically-as indications of greatest strength of expression for the planet considered. One does not generally ask what the meaning of this special strength may be, nor what qualitative content lies hidden in each statement. These are some of the questions this book seeks to explore, following the Emerald rule that “As above, so below”, and that everything stated in the heavens has its counterpart in the inner heaven of the human consciousness.

The word “exaltation” evokes plenitude of expression. It suggests a state of full vibrancy – what any entity experiences and radiates when its core principle is engaged by the presenting opportunity to fully actualise its design. Fullness of being is what exalts any unit of consciousness.

The proposition of a “planet exalted in a sign” points to a special affinity between a planet and a sign. The sign seems to indicate a particular field of energy which brings “out” (ex-) and “heightens” (-alt) the planet’s expression because of a special resonance with its essence and inmost intention. In this sign, the planet comes fully to itSelf. It is fulfilled – its central identity galvanised, its fundamental purpose evoked, revealed and fully orchestrated by the zodiacal context of the sign.

Whereas a planet is “dignified” in a sign which corresponds to its character and reflects its nature, it finds its exaltation in the sign which “up-lifts” or exposes the root of its various meanings and functions, while allowing full manifestation of the impulse in which they originate.

My attempt in the study to follow has been to unfold the more comprehensive picture of a planet which its exaltation reveals – to bring to light a deeper level of significance related to the purpose of a planetary being. By brooding over the zodiacal temples where the respective “altars” of the planets are found, we take the invitation contained in the fact of the “exaltations” to contemplate the planets in their heightened state of expression and discover in it, illumined, their essential design and work.

The perspectives gained can then be brought to bear upon individual experience and lend insight, not only into exalted placements in a chart, but into the planets themselves and the houses in which they are exalted.

My intention and hope is to elicit, beyond the practical use of the planetary alphabet to read into psyche and existence, a more comprehensive relation to the beings who play their part in the cosmic psyche and pursue their tasks through its human replica – our individual psyche; to ponder their purposes which drive our lives because they are our purposes, and within and through each of us, bring man and world:

– to rise as “self.” (Sun/Aries);

– to carve, forge and refine their “nature” to fully embody the indwelling Self (Moon/Taurus);

– to transmute the light of intelligence, active in analysing facts and processes of nature or sorting out substrata of experience, into the light of wisdom which delivers the soul hidden in all matters (Mercury/Virgo);

– to penetrate the most forlorn dimension of human experience with the presence of self and capacity of heart that returns everything to being; to lift the world to its Self with the healing power of love and the saving force of beauty (Venus/Pisces);

– to realise and exert wisely the power of human actions and decisions to build the world-temple. (Mars/Capricorn);

– to tend growth and becoming through the magnetic power of trust and faith, of meaning and vision (Jupiter/Cancer);

– to balance or adjust one’s stance, as an individual or a group, to the widening base of reality created by the pressure to outgrow a limiting ring of egoity or karma; to invent a new wheel of “self” inclusive of a next dimension of being. (Saturn/Libra).

The meditative penetration into the purposes of the planets attempted in this book is anchored in certain tenets of esoteric astrology, in particular some fundamental indications given by A. Bailey in her book Esoteric Astrology. The reader unfamiliar with these is invited to use as references the tables presented below.

Most significant in regard to this study is the notion of three levels of rulerships for each zodiacal sign. To the orthodox ruler of traditional astrology is superimposed an “esoteric” ruler and a “hierarchical” ruler. Each corresponds to the level of manifestation of the zodiacal energy expressed by a particular individuality according to his/her main focus of consciousness and life demonstration- personality intelligence, soul wisdom or spiritual will.

The soul rulership begins to have relevance for the person whose attitudes and choices, rapport and responses to life show a mindful relation to the universal self in all beings and bespeak the awareness of an essential raison d’être for all events and facts; the person whose concerns, in his/her thinking, feeling or doing, are engaged in larger-than-personal spheres of awareness and motivated by more than personal ends.

The hierarchical rulership has little direct relevance for the individual until he/she becomes a fully soul infused personality – a member of the human hierarchy, a true human being- an Initiate.

The following table lists these rulerships:

Constellation/Sign Orthodox Ruler Esoteric Ruler Hierarchical Ruler
Aries Mars Mercury Uranus
Taurus Venus Vulcan Vulcan
Gemini Mercury Venus Earth
Cancer Moon Neptune Neptune
Leo Sun Sun [veiling Neptune] Sun [veiling Uranus]
Virgo Mercury Moon veiling Vulcan Jupiter
Libra Venus Uranus Saturn
Scorpio Mars Mars Mercury
Sagittarius Jupiter Earth Mars
Capricorn Saturn Saturn Venus
Aquarius Uranus Jupiter Moon
Pisces Jupiter Pluto Pluto

The second table lists the seven rays- the seven energies said to underlie all manifestation. Mentioned by H. P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine as the primeval Seven “to be found and recognized in every religion”, the rays’ names and attributes were presented later on by A. Bailey, and their study developed in relation to esoteric psychology, initiations, esoteric healing, astrology and cosmology, in her five-volumeTreatise on the Seven Rays. Following are her formulation of the seven ray qualities, and the astrological signs and planets which convey them.

Ray 1 Will Power Aries Leo Capricorn Pluto Vulcan
Ray 2 Love Wisdom Gemini Virgo Pisces Sun Jupiter
Ray 3 Active Intelligence Libra Cancer Capricorn Earth Saturn
Ray 4 Harmony Through Conflict Taurus Scorpio Sagittarius Moon Mercury
Ray 5 Concrete Science Leo Sagittarius Aquarius Venus
Ray 6 Abstract Idealism Virgo Sagittarius Pisces Mars Neptune
Ray 7 Ceremonial Order Aries Cancer Capricorn Uranus

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