Nakath in astrology, what rules

The classic dignities

Editor's note:
In this excerpt from the book "Classical Horoscope Interpretation", Erik van Slooten acquaints us with some principles of the interpretation practice of classical astrologers. This differs in many ways from the approach and terminology of psychological astrology.

The essential dignities

The essential dignities relate to the sign position of the planets and are essential building blocks of classical astrology. They form the basis of the system of dispatchers and mutual receptions (which we will go into in more detail later in the book) and ultimately also influence the interpretation of aspects.
Unfortunately, in modern psychological astrology, dignities are hardly taken into account and sometimes even harshly rejected. In my opinion, this attitude can only be traced back to a gross lack of understanding and a sloppy use of the precious treasures of classical astrology.

Domicile and increase

A planet has 'dignity' when it is in one of its domiciles or in its exaltation.
In Figure 1 you will find the assignments of the domiciles of the ancient planets in the circle: The two lights, sun and moon, have their domiciles in Leo and Cancer, while the domiciles of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are each left in the order mentioned and group right in the zodiac. But that means: In classical astrology Mars rules not only Aries but also Scorpio, Jupiter both Sagittarius and Pisces and Saturn rules Capricorn and Aquarius. In the outer circle you will find the elevation signs of the ancient planets. It is noticeable that according to tradition, Mercury finds its exaltation in the sign of Virgo, in which it also has its domicile.

A planet is doing very well in its domicile or in its elevation, because there it can develop its best properties. The two classic 'culprits' Saturn and Mars are generally friendlier in their domiciles and their elevation.
In his domicile, the planet can be compared to a gentleman who rules in his own house. In the sign of his exaltation he is seen as a highly respected guest in the house of a good friend.
Classical astrologers have often used a point rating, according to which a planet was rated with 5 points in its domicile and 4 points in its elevation.

Exile and fall

A planet is in exile when it is in the sign opposite the sign in which it is domiciled (see illustration). With the exception of the two lights, the sun and the moon, all ancient planets have two domiciles and thus two exiles. For example, Mars has its domiciles in Aries and Scorpio and therefore its exiles in Libra and Taurus.

In this case, a planet in the sign is opposite the sign in which it is exalted (see illustration). So Mars is exalted in Capricorn and therefore in Cancer.

Planets in exile or fall are not necessarily weak! Rather, they (especially the evildoers Saturn and Mars) can develop their more negative properties there.


According to the theory of the elements, there are fire, earth, air and water triplicity in the zodiac (triplicity = triple occurrence, because three signs belong to each triplicity), in which certain planets rule according to old rules. To determine these triplicity rulers, it is important to know whether you are dealing with a night or day horoscope. This difference is very simple:

  • Daily horoscope: Sun is above the horizon (above the AC / DC axis)
  • Night horoscope: Sun is below the horizon (below the AC / DC axis)

Each sign has three triplicity rulers: a day ruler, a night ruler, and an additional ruler who rules both day and night.

TriplicityDay rulerNight ruler

2nd ruler
(Day and night)


It is not always immediately understandable why certain planets have certain triplicities. To do this, it is important to know:

  • Day sign: the fire and air signs
  • Diurnal planets: Sun, Jupiter, Saturn
  • Night sign: the earth and watermarks
  • Night planets: Moon, Venus, Mars
  • Mercury adapts to the circumstances!

Let us now take fire triplicity as an example: It is logical that the sun, as a warm and dry planet of the day, rules fire. Even the daily planet Jupiter, warm and humid, ruler of the fire sign Sagittarius, is not out of place in this triplicity. (The night is damp!) But why isn't Mars as the triple ruler in the third column, as one would assume? The answer is: Because Mars is a night planet! That is why Saturn, as the planet of the day, is the third ruler over fire. For the same reason, Saturn, although domiciled in Capricorn, cannot rule the triplicity of earth, which belongs to night.

The triplicities can sometimes give a planet a double character: Saturn, for example, is both in fall and triplicity in Aries. The same goes for Venus in Virgo (by day), Moon in Scorpio, Mars in Cancer. Such a planet is 'badly' placed, but now and then also shows its friendly side.

The classical astrologers rated the triplicity rulers with 3 points, for example by assigning 2 points to the day or night ruler and 1 point to the second ruler.

There is a second system with only two triplicity rulers per element, which was used, for example, by the famous English astrologer William Lilly (1602–1681) and which is often used in hour astrology. It looks like this:

elementDay rulerNight ruler

As you can see, the third ruler for each element has disappeared and water is ruled by Mars both day and night.

The smaller dignities

Domicile, exaltation and triplicity are the most important dignities. The smaller fines and dean's offices are generally regarded as less important (and rated with 2 and 1 point, respectively). Therefore, they fall outside the scope of this book.


If a planet is neither in its domicile, its exaltation or triplicity nor in its exile or fall, it is considered to be 'peregrin' (Latin: 'peregrinus' = foreign). Such a planet is mostly weakened because it cannot develop its powers. Only when the peregrine planet is in a mutual reception can the receiving planet give it more power. More on this in the section on mutual reception.

Examples: the moon is peregrin in the fire and air signs, the sun in the earth and water signs and in the air sign Gemini.

The accidental dignities

When determining whether a planet shows its good or rather bad properties, its essential dignities (domicile, exaltation, triplicity, exile, fall) are particularly taken into account. But a planet in its domicile can still be weakened and, conversely, strong in its exile. His strength or weakness depends on his accidental dignity. These are called accidental (= 'random') because planets often only have these dignities for a relatively short time. It's mostly about

  • the type of movement (direct or reverse)
  • The house position: The 6th, 8th and 12th house (and in some cases also the 7th house as a house of public opponents) are considered unfavorable in the classical period. Exceptions: Mars in the 6th and Saturn in the 12th house, see below
  • the aspects: The aspect formation, which also includes combustion and casimi, are explained in the next chapter.

By the way, in classical astrology a planet that is about 5 ° in front of the next house point is already included in this next house! Only if there is a character boundary between the planet and the top of the next house, one counts the planet as part of the house in which it is 'physically'.

Planets accidentally stand strong when they do

  • are on the axes or in a corner house
  • Receiving good aspects, especially from the benefactors Jupiter and Venus
  • in Casimi ('in the heart of the sun')
  • stand in their own light, that is, a daily planet in a daily horoscope above the horizon, a night planet in a night horoscope above (not below!) the horizon
  • in your Joys stand (see below)

Planets are accidentally weak when they do

  • are declining
  • from the sun burned (be within 6 ° - 8 ° from the sun)
  • stand in the 6th, 8th or 12th house
  • are between the evildoers Mars and Saturn (in 'siege') and / or receive bad aspects, especially from Mars and Saturn
  • are idle.

Planets in their "joys"

According to the classical tradition, the seven ancient planets all have their 'joy' in a certain house: In this house they feel comfortable and can do their job justice:

planetJoy in:
Sun9th house
moon3rd house
Mercury1st house
Venus5th house
Mars6th house
Jupiter11th house
Saturn12th house

The joys of the planets are based on a certain system. In my book Hourly Astrology in Practice I write about it (pp. 83–84):
"The day planets sun, Jupiter and Saturn have their joys in houses above the horizon, the night planets moon, Venus and Mars in houses below the horizon. The two lights sun and moon have their joys in oppositional houses, as do the two benefactors Jupiter and Venus and the two evildoers Saturn and Mars. Bisexual Mercury has its joy in the 1st house, which is on the border between day and night. The sun has its joy in the 9th house, because when it is there (shortly after As the fastest celestial body, the moon has its joy in the 3rd house: the house of movement. Venus has its joy in the 5th house, which among other things rules the love life. Jupiter has its joy in the 11th House that has long been associated with happiness and hope. The two evildoers Mars and Saturn have their joys in the unlucky houses 6 and 12. "

In my opinion the 'joys' of the planets have been completely wrongly forgotten and should also be taken into account again in the natal interpretation.

Planets, dignities and signs of the zodiac

In modern astrology, the description of the content of the signs of the zodiac is universal, i.e. independent of the individual horoscopes. In classical astrology, on the other hand, the character of a sign depends heavily on the state of its ruler in the horoscope. Because these rulers are different in each horoscope, the meaning of the signs in each horoscope has to be analyzed anew. An example: According to the classical view, the meaning of the sign Aries in individual horoscopes depends on the condition of its ruler Mars; if it is good and strong, for example in its own sign Aries in the 1st house, the positive meanings of Aries can come into play. But if he is bad and weak, for example in his exile Taurus in the 8th house, the bad qualities of Aries will come to the fore.

The Dutch classical astrologer Martien Hermes compares this dependence of the signs on their rulers very nicely with the situation of a company: The sign is the company, its ruler is the manager. If the manager is bad, the company is usually not doing well either!

Also, let's not forget that the main meanings of the signs arose from those of the planets and their dignity! For example, why is Aquarius allergic to authorities? Because the sun (= authorities) is in exile in Aquarius! This has nothing to do with Uranus (in classical terms)!

Taken from
Erik van Slooten:
Classic horoscope interpretation.
Chiron Verlag, Tübingen, 2005.

You can order this book at