How to identify strong placements in your chart

by | Jul 20, 2021 | Astrology | 0 comments

You might often  hear people mention they have a “strong Mercury” or a “dominant Mars”,  but what does that really mean and how do you know whether a planet is  strong or dominant in your chart? While there are different schools of  thought that may offer different perspectives on this question, in  traditional astrology there are actually easy ways to determine the  strong or dominant placements in your chart. In fact, there is a big  difference between a planet that is strong versus a planet that is  dominant. This has everything to do with the difference between  essential and accidental dignity. Here’s a few quick ways to check which  placements and planets are particularly strong or dominant in your own  birth chart:

Your ruling planet has the strongest influence in your life

Many modern astrologers place a lot of emphasis on the ascendant as  an important point of the chart. While this is certainly true, the ruling planet of  your ascendant may be even more important. The sign on your ascendant  will tell you something about your unique path in life, but the ruling  planet of the ascendant decides how you walk that path. If you think of  your birth chart as a ship, the ascendant represents the helm of the  ship and the direction you are heading. The ascendant ruler is your  helmsman, or captain, which determines how you reach your final  destination. It is the planet that represents “you” in the chart. In  addition, the ruling planet of your ascendant represents your physical  body and overall health.

Taking all of these things into consideration, it may be clear why  the ruling planet of your ascendant plays such an important role in your  chart! In general, you can say that when you are, for example, a Taurus  or Libra rising, that Venus is dominant and important in your birth  chart as she rules your ascendant. And a person with Aries or Scorpio on  the ascendant will have strong feautures that correspond with the  planet Mars. Of course this can be slightly nuanced by the sign and  house placement of your chart ruler (which will further influence  strength or dominance), but in most cases you can say that your ruling  planet will have a strong influence on your chart and your life. Please  note that we use traditional rulership for this. Uranus, Neptune and  Pluto don’t rule planets.

 Your sect light tells you how you shine

In modern astrology, your Sun sign is one of the most important  placements, but from a traditional astrology perspective, it depends on  the time of day you were born whether the Sun is actually the most  important.⁣⁣ Both the Sun and Moon are luminaries and it really depends  on the sect (day or night) of your chart which one is more important. If  you were born during the daytime (the Sun is above the  ascendant-descendant line in your birth chart), then the Sun is your  most important luminary and sect light. But if you were born at night  (the Sun is below the ascendant-descendant line in your birth chart),  then the Moon is your most important luminary and sect light.

Your sect light, or most important luminary, is another indicator of  vitality in the chart, where the Sun represents strength and  intelligence, and the Moon represents the physical body. Both luminaries  represent the idea of visibility and being seen, which can manifest in  different ways. Regardless, your most important luminary shows you where  you shine or “light up in life”. It is therefore a very important  placement in the chart.

Planet in rulership or exaltation are strong

Planetary strength is most easily determined through the concept of  essential dignity. In astrology, a strong planet is considered dignified.  There are two types of dignity: essential and accidental dignity.  Essential dignity refers to the relative strength or weakness of a  planet (or point), based on its sign placement or specific degree. It  determines whether a planet is functional in the chart. This is based on  the idea that planets can feel more or less comfortable in certain  (parts of) signs and elements. There are five essential dignities  (rulership/detriment, exaltation/fall, triplicity, terms, and face), but  for the purpose of this blog post we will only look at rulership and  exaltation.

One easy way to understand how rulership and exaltation work, is to  think of planets in signs through the lens of citizenship. A planet in  rulership (in a sign it rules) is like a citizen in their own country.  They speak the language, know all the customs and generally have the  tools and support to do the things they want to do. Exaltation refers to  a planet thats “uplifted”, which translates to a VIP guest. These  planets may not be citizens in their own country, but they are treated  as special guests and therefore have equal or even more access to the  tools and support that planets in rulership have. Simply put, planets in  rulership or exaltation have all the resources to do the things that  planet wants to do, and they will therefore share a pure expression of  that planet.

Usually this also means that planets in rulership or exaltation come  with special talents or gifts. A person with a strong Mercury (in Gemini  or Virgo) might be an excellent communicator with strong writing  skills, great networker and someone who is able to gather and process  large or complex data. Someone with a strong Moon (in Cancer or Taurus)  probably is very emphathetic and able to nurture others in ways that  other Moon placements might not.

If you dont know the signs in which certain planets have rulership or exaltation, here’s a quick cheatsheet:

Sun: rules Leo, exalts in Aries Moon: rules Cancer, exalts in Taurus Mercury: rules Gemini and Virgo, exalts in VirgoVenus: rules Taurus and Libra, exalts in PiscesMars: rules Aries and Scorpio, exalts in Capricorn Jupiter: rules Sagittarius and Pisces, exalts in CancerSaturn: rules Capricorn and Aquarius, exalts in Libra

 Planets in angular houses are active and potent

While planets in rulership or exaltation are considered to be strong,  they may not always be able to play an active role in your life.  Activity and relative importance are determined by accidental dignity,  which shows whether a planet is able to act. The most active and potent  houses in the birth chart are the 1st, 10th, 7th, 4th, 11th and 5th  houses (in that order). Out of these, the angular houses (1st, 4th, 7th,  and 10th) in particular tend to be the most active. Planets in these  houses show up loudly and will definitely make a lasting impact. This is  because the angular houses represent key topics and themes in our life,  such as personality, family, relationships, and career. For most of us,  these topics are the common thread of our lives.

It’s important to note that while planets in angular houses may play  an active role in your life, they may not be always be strong. This is  the big difference between essential dignity (planetary strength) and  accidental dignity (house placement, aspect, speed, position relative to  the Sun).

One way to think of this, is to think of essential dignity as  “ability” and accidental dignity as “opportunity” or “circumstance”. You  could be a very talented and excellent employee, but work in a  miserable environment, where your boss treats you horribly and you’re  not getting decent pay. Astrologically, this would translate to a  technically strong planet being stuck in a more challenging house. This  does not undermine the strength of that particular planet and you may  still have specific talents, but you’re not getting a lot of opportunity  to show those talents to the world. Conversely, you could work for a  renowned and respectable organisation, but lack the ability or skill to  do your job well and therefore make a lot of mistakes in the public eye.  This could be a technically weak planet up on display in the 10th  house. There can thus be many different variations of strong and active  placements in the chart. A planet can be functional (strong) but not  active, functional and active (which is the proverbial jackpot), not  functional and active, or not functional and not active.

Extra things that impact accidental dignity

Having planets in angular houses (1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th) is  definitely one of the most important indicators of accidental dignity.  But on top of that, there are a few extra things to look out for when  you are trying to determine whether you have dominant or strong  placements:

  • Planets in strong places in the chart: Alongside  the angular houses, the 11th and 5th house are also considered to be  great places for planets to be in. Planets near the Ascendant or  Midheaven (which can fall anywhere in the top half of the chart) are  also very important and impactful in the birth chart.
  • Planets in “joy”: Each planet also have a  “favourite” house in the chart, which is the place of that planet’s joy.  A planet in joy will generally be quite happy, though of course this  won’t cancel out other astro data, such as when the planet is in a sign  it doesn’t really like. The joys of the planets are: Sun in the 9th,  Moon in the 3rd, Mercury in the 1st, Venus in the 5th, Mars in the 6th,  Jupiter in the 11th, Saturn in the 12th.
  • Planets in the heart of the Sun: There is a special  thing that happens to a planet when it’s in close proximity to the Sun –  which is probably worth an entire blog post on its own. If you’re  already familiar with the terms combustion and cazimi, then it’s worth  noting that a planet that is cazimi (i.e. within 17 minutes of the arc of the center of the Sun) is also very strong and functional.

There are many more indicators of strength and dominance in the chart  (such as aspects, speed, triplicity, term, and face), but these things  require a bit more of a deep dive into the chart. Are you curious about  exploring your strengths and talents in more detail? Book a consultation with me!

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Hi, I´m Britt!

I am a down-to-earth astrologer and embodiment coach, here to offer you guidance on your path of self discovery and healing. My work blends traditional astrology  techniques with insights from modern psychology, mindfulness, and parts work to help you cultivate grounding, self-compassion, and a sense of belonging to this earth.



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