The Way of the Stars (Issue 9)

Merry Meet my friends!

The extreme cold took its toll, but here is at last this week’s issue of The Way of the Stars, my column at the Daily Spell.


The Way of the Stars

An Introduction to Astrology

By Pablo Dotro(*) – The Mage of the Many Shadows.

“To She Who Reads the Sky, my Lady Urania, do I dedicate these words.
May by your inspiration our souls learn to dance with the stars”


Merry Meet, my friends! This week, it is the turn of “planetary debilities”, the downside of the dignities discussed in the last two issues. Our journey through the signs also leads us to the last of the “lower hemisphere” signs, Virgo.


More about dignities and debilities.

On the last two columns I talked about the usual planetary dignities: Rulership, Exaltation and Trigonocracy. Summing up, the key to understand dignities is that they show us how the planets relate to some signs with which they have special affinity.

By the same token, there are some signs that are “uncomfortable” to some planets. The planets are “in debility” when transiting through those signs.

The most common planetary debilities are exile and fall.

  • Exile. As rulership is the highest of the dignities, exile is the most powerful of the debilities. A planet “in exile” is put in a severely inharmonic state. In a person’s life, this may translate as inhibitions, hyper sensibility to the things symbolized by the sign or planet, or simply as the inability to obtain lasting benefits from that part of the personality. The planet-sign relationship is here inharmonic at its very essence, so it may become a very distinctive trait down the years if not integrated into the personality through personal work.
  • Fall. The difference between rulership and exaltation is mainly that rulership deals with quality and essence while exaltation deals with quantity and expression. By symmetry, fall manifests as a profoundly inharmonic relationship between a planet and a sign, centered in expression. Either too much or too little, the quality of planet and sign are “out of sync” with each other.

If you keep at hand a zodiac wheel like this one(1), and a correspondences table(2), it is easy to spot planetary debilities. The table shows the rulers and exalted planets for each sign, and the zodiac wheel will tell us about how the signs are arranged.  

To find out where a planet is “in exile”, you need to find which sign it rules, and then look up at the wheel the sign that is opposite to it. Take the Moon, for example. It rules the sign of Cancer. Cancer is opposite to Capricorn, and thus the Moon is “in exile” when she is at Capricorn (the sign opposite to her “home”).

It is the same way with exaltation/fall. A planet is “in fall” when it is at a sign that’s opposite to the one it exalts on. Continuing with the previous example, the Moon is exalted at the sign of Taurus. Taurus is opposite to Scorpio, so the Moon is “in fall” when she is at Scorpio.


A special case: Peregrine planets.  

When a planet is not either “in dignity” (i.e. it is not in its ruled sign but also it is not exalted nor in trigonocracy) or “in debility” (i.e. it is not in exile nor in fall), it is said that the planet “is peregrine” at this sign.  A peregrine planet has no special dignity, and it is often at mercy of the ruler of the sign he is in. Depending on the case, this may be beneficial to the native or not. In any given chart, it is fairly common to find one or more peregrine planets.


Virgo, The Virgin.

The previous five signs slowly shaped the self. From the initial “differentiate and be alive” of Aries to a well developed uniqueness and expansive personality in Leo, we have come a long way. But just as Taurus’ Earth slows down Aries’ fire, Virgo’s practicality puts limits to Leo’s ego. How does it do it? By applying common sense; using critical thinking to find what needs to be fixed… and by cutting down what is no longer needed.  Virgo will search, organize and put to work all idle resources, reconfiguring Leo’s mind and soul into an image of a better self. If taken in a positive way, this change can lead to a humbling experience, for one discovers its own flaws… and by extension, the flaws on others.

Virgo is an earth sign. It is grounded, practical and aware of its resources. It has a sense of aesthetics, but in Virgo’s case it is turned into a quest for practicality, applicability and efficiency.  Virgo is ruled by Mercury, a planet of quick mind, ingenuity and a gifted eye for detail. They share these qualities. Virgo is also a mutable sign, so it prepares us for a transition.

Up to Virgo we are centered in our own self.  Virgo has the sense that something different is approaching. Soon, we will face our true equals and later society at large. So our task is to perfect ourselves. Virgo will not accept the grandiose plans or image of Leo; it will turn them into practical, efficient and doable tasks.

Two other traits of Virgo are particularly important: the ideas of service and purification.

As we endeavor to perfect ourselves, we begin also to help others, and we do it in an earthly manner: giving practical advice, performing useful services, helping to create better and more efficient systems that make resources available to others. Also we will recycle, so nothing is wasted.

Virgo will develop a routine to bring everything down to an ordered, efficient and useful whole. The daily routine is Virgo’s home turf… including the home “chores”.

Since we are preparing to meet others, we must “be ready”, and that leads us to Virgo’s role in the purification of the self. By being self-critical, letting go of vices and embracing only our best and more useful ways, we distill our true purpose. In a higher sense, we purify ourselves, and so we moderate our eating and drinking habits; we foster our health and take care of our bodies.

With all this done… we are now ready for the next big step… in three weeks ;-)


Coming up next week:

A summary of the topics I have covered up until now: the first six signs, the correspondences and they system of debilities. Next week, I’ll start moving all of this “down to earth”, echoing Virgo’s desire. Remember you can read this one and all past columns in my blog(3).

(*) Pablo is an advanced astrology student at the Centro Astrológico de Buenos Aires (, a First Degree student at Witchschool, and has extensive experience in Wicca, ceremonial magick, computer science, the Internet, physics and chemistry.





1 Comment(s)

  1. Pingback by Words of Magick » The Way of the Stars (Issue no. 23) on January 8, 2008 18:11

    […] was born near the full moon), or because the Sun/the Moon are placed in signs into which they hold no dignity(1) (“in fall/detriment” or “in exile”, for example). In these cases, the resulting […]

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