Planetary Exaltations

  Monique Pommier  © 1997


    The astrological tradition has handed us the following principles:

  •     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 work seeks to explore, following the Emerald rule 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 actualize 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. It suggests a particular energy apt to bring “out” (ex-) and “heighten” (-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 galvanized, its fundamental purpose evoked, revealed and fully orchestrated by the zodiacal context of the sign.

While 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 this study is to unfold the more comprehensive picture of a planet that 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 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 through each of us, bring man and world:

        • to rise as a self-aware “self” (Sun in Aries)

        • to carve, forge and refine their “nature” to fully embody the indwelling self (Moon in Taurus)

      • to transmute the light of intelligence, active in analyzing 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 in Virgo)

       • to penetrate the forlorn dimension of human experience with the presence of heart that returns everything to being; to uplift the world with the healing power of love and the saving force of beauty (Venus in Pisces)

       • to realize and exercise the power of human actions and decisions to build the world-temple (Mars in Capricorn)

      • to tend growth and becoming through the magnetic power of trust and faith, meaning and vision (Jupiter in 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 in Libra)


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The meditative penetration into the purposes of the planets attempted in this work is anchored in the tenets of esoteric astrology 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 the context of this study is the notion of three levels of rulerships for each zodiacal sign: the orthodox ruler of traditional astrology, an “esoteric” ruler and a “hierarchical” ruler. Each ruler speaks to a different level of expression of the zodiacal energy according to a person’s main focus of consciousness—personality, soul or world consciousness. “Esoteric” or “hierarchical” rulers suggest the soul quality and spiritual intent of the sign. In the chart, they direct one’s awareness to the way in which the individuality seeks to grow into the deeper intention of the sign.

The soul rulership is relevant for the person attuned and responsive to the life and presence of “self” in the “other”; the person engaged and motivated by larger-than-personal spheres of awareness and accomplishment (in his/her life of thinking, feeling or action).

The hierarchical rulership has little direct relevance until the individual becomes a fully soul infused personality — an “initiate.”

The following table lists these rulerships:

Table of esoteric rulerships

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-volume Treatise on the Seven Rays.

Following are her formulation of the seven ray qualities, and the astrological signs and planets associated with them.

Table of signs/rays correspondences

  Exaltation of the Sun        Exaltation of the Moon          Exaltation of Mercury  

Exaltation of Venus    Exaltation of Mars        Exaltation of Jupiter         Exaltation of Saturn