Accidental Dignity

Accidental dignities are considerations used in Medieval and Renaissance astrology to denote when a planet is auspiciously placed in a chart, in ways that are additional, or “accidental”, compared to the essential dignities, which are based on zodiacal position.

Accidental dignity occurs when a planet is well-situated in a chart according to considerations such as house placement, due to fixed star conjunctions, or the speed of a planet.

The table for planetary “Fortitudes and Debilities” is listed below. In Christian Astrology by William Lilly, this table can be found on page 115. Christian Astrology is the Astrologer’s guide to Astrology of all kinds, but in particular: horary astrology. In Chapter XIX, Lilly states that the purpose of the Accidental Dignity table, among other tables in chapter XIX, is for “other necessary rules to be well known and understood for any Judgment can be given upon a question”. In Book 2 of Christian Astrology, Lilly exemplifies the usage of a table in Chapter XXVIII, page 178.

In the upper half of the table the standard essential dignities and debilities are listed, and in the lower half: accidental dignities and debilities are listed.

When a planet is dignified, it will increase in the number of points it has, and when it is debilitated, it will decrease in the number of points it has. A dignified planet can range from a dignified position of 6 points, or a debilitated position of negative 5 points. These points can be added up to either create an extremely dignified planet, a devastatingly debilitated planet, or a neutralized planet.

Dignity By House Placement

The first subsection of Accidental Dignities describes the strength a planet gains when located in one of the twelve Astrological Houses. Planets in the 10th House or the 1st House have the most strength, dignified by five points, as planets here “more forcibly show their effects” (48). Next in strength, dignified by four points, are the two angular houses in sequential order: the 7th and 4th houses, and the first Succedent House, the 11th house. Next, dignified by three points, we have two succedent houses, the 5th and 2nd houses. Finally, dignified by two points, we have the 9th house and dignified by one point: the 3rd house.

On the other hand, in the second column, Accidental Debilities, planets in the 12th house are debilitated by five points, and planets in the 8th and 6th house are debilitated by two points.

Lilly states that the dignity of each house is in this order: 1, 10, 7, 4, 11, 5, 9, 3, 2, 8, 6, 12.

Dignity by Motion and Speed

The next subsection in the table is the motion and speed of a planet. When a planet is direct, moving in zodiacal order, that planet will be dignified by four points. However, this rule does not apply to the Sun or the Moon, as these luminaries are always direct. However, if a planet is in retrograde motion, in reverse zodiacal order, then it will be debilitated by five points.

When a planet is “swift in motion”, moving faster than its daily mean motion, it is considered to be dignified by two points, but when a planet is moving slower than its daily mean motion, it is said to be debilitated by two points.

Oriental and Occidental 

When Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars are oriental of the sun, rising before the sun, it is said to be a positive placement and thus dignified by two points. However, if these planets are Occidental, setting after the sun, then they are debilitated by two points.

On the other hand, if Mercury and Venus are occidental, then it is considered a beneficial placement, then dignified by two points. However, if these planets are oriental, then it is considered to be debilitating and thus debilitated by two points.

When the Moon is increasing in light, when it is occidental of the Sun or moving towards it’s Full Moon Phase, then it is dignified by two points. However, if the moon is decreasing in light, otherwise known as being oriental or moving towards its New Moon Phase, then it is debilitated by two points.

Combustion and the Suns Beams

When planets are not combust the sun and out the orb of the beams of the sun, further than 17º, then this planet is dignified by five points. However, when planets are within the 17º orb of being under the sun’s beams, then it is debilitated by four points, and if it is combust the sun, within 8º30’ of the sun, then it is debilitated by five points.

However, when a planet is within 17” of the sun, or cazami, then it is considered to be extremely dignified and thus attributed five points.

Aspects to Planets

Whenever a planet makes an exact conjunction, a partile aspect, with Jupiter or Venus, that planet is therefore dignified by five points, due to the benefic nature of these planets. If that planet is conjunct the North Node, Trine Jupiter or Venus, then that planet is dignified by four points. Furthermore, if a planet is sextile to Jupiter or Venus, then it is dignified by three points.

On the other hand, when planets are in a partile conjunction to Saturn or Mars, it is extremely debilitated due to the malefic nature of these planets, by five points. If this planet is conjunct the South Node, it is debilitated by four points. If a planet is in a partile opposition to Saturn or Mars, this planet is therefore debilitated by four points, and debilitated by three points if it is in a partile square.

Additionally, when a planet is besieged between Saturn and Mars, within the orb of each planet, it is considered to be greatly debilitated and done so by five points.

Fixed Stars

In the last subsection of the table, Lilly points out benefic and malefic fixed stars that can either dignify or debilitate a planet. If a planet is conjunct the Fixed Stars Regulus, now at 0º Virgo, then it will have the most accidental dignity in the entire table, being dignified by six points. If a planet is conjunct Spica, now at 24º of Libra, then these planets are considered to be incredibly dignified, by five points. These fixed stars give a planet such strength because of the benefic nature these fixed stars have. However, if a planet is conjunct the Fixed Star Caput Algol, 26º of Taurus, then it is considered to be heavily debilitated by five points, due to the malefic nature of this fixed star.

Article Information

  • Author(s): Max Hiigli, Chris Brennan
  • Editing or additional contributions: Chris Brennan
  • Originally published: August 14, 2019 |   Last updated: August 14, 2019
  • Notes:
  • Cite this article: Max Hiigli, “Accidental Dignity,” The Astrology Dictionary, August 14, 2019, http://theastrologydictionary.com/a/accidental-dignity/ ‎