Introduction to Rulership & Dignities 3:
Dispositorship, Planetary and House; Cosmodynes
– written by Philip Graves Dec 26 2003
– reformatted for WordPress, June 9th, 2016
The final part of this article will focus on the connections between different parts of the natal figure forged by various phenomena collectively known as disposition, literally meaning ‘moving from place’. Planetary dispositorship concerns the disposition of the energies of planetary functions, while house dispositorship concerns the disposition of the affairs of houses.
Finding the Dispositor
The planet that would be most dignified in any particular sign and degree position in the zodiac is known as the almuten or Lord of that position. Provided that the almuten is ‘in good condition’ within the figure, it becomes the dispositor of any planet posited at (or house whose cusp is situated at) that position.
Thus, the domicile ruler of a sign does not always have the right to disposit either a planet placed in it or a house whose cusp is placed in it. If a potential dispositor other than the domicile ruler of the sign where the planet or house cusp under investigation is posited is found to be more dignified overall in the sign and degree placement concerned than the sign’s domicile ruler, then it is most likely to become the planet’s or house’s main dispositor or oikodespotes.
A typical example would be where a potential dispositor under consideration is found to be in its exaltation and bounds in the sign and degree placement of the planet or house cusp under investigation, giving it a dignity of +6 as against +5 for the domicile ruler of the planet’s sign placement.
1. Planetary dispositorship
The dispositor of a planet located in a particular sign and degree is the almuten of that position, often but not always its domicile ruler. This almuten, considered in the context of its placement by sign and house and aspects within the figure, disposits, and conditions the application of, the energy of the planet concerned. Where the almuten is the domicile ruler, it is generally advisable to use the traditional rulers of Aquarius, Pisces and Scorpio in the first instance, and accord them priority over the modern ones, when tracing planetary dispositorship connections; but it can be worthwhile pursuing a secondary course of investigations using their three ‘modern rulers’ (i.e. Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) too.
Mutual reception is the term given to the phenomenon whereby one planet is posited in a sign whose domicile ruler is posited in the sign over which the first planet is the domicile ruler. Planets in mutual reception function as an interlinked pair, with combined energies somewhat comparable to those found in a conjunction. The more dignified of the two will tend to predominate and lead. If both are debilitated, however, the more debilitated will cause the most harm.
Aspects between planets in mutual reception further condition their relationship, with harmonious ones tending to strengthen it and inharmonious ones to inhibit or antagonise it; yet, the very condition of mutual reception can help to overcome the negative potential of any inharmonious natal aspect between the planets; and inharmonious aspects between planets in mutual reception whose general natures are compatible will certainly be mild in effect.
Mutual reception by exaltation occurs where a planet is posited in the sign of exaltation of another planet which is in the sign of exaltation of the first. Mutual reception by the more minor essential dignities (triplicity, term and face) requires at least two of them to be active to be considered valid in any case.
Multiple mutual reception occurs where a chain of disposition leads back to the first planet but three or more planets are involved. This set of linkages will connect the affected individual’s experiences of the functions governed by each planet involved.
In many figures where no mutual reception occurs, a string of dispositorship connections can be drawn from all planets until finally a domicile ruler that is posited within the particular figure in the sign over which it generally rules is arrived at, this domicile ruler being termed then the final dispositor of the chart. The final dispositor is always (and uniquely, within the figure) dignified by domicile, and will be a strong focal point of the figure’s energy connections, conditioning the expression of all the other planets’ functions. Its house placement shows the sphere of life where its nature will be most strongly expressed. A final dispositor that is the domicile ruler of the Ascendant sign will be especially influential within the figure.
2. House dispositorship
The dispositor of a house is the Lord or natal ruler of that house, which is always the almuten of the sign and degree on its cusp. The placement of this Lord by sign within the particular chart further conditions the character of the house (which is primarily influenced by the sign on its cusp), while its placement by house within the chart pinpoints related areas of manifestation of the affairs of the house it disposits. The Lord of the First house is often called the Lord of the Ascendant.
Aspects between the dispositors of any two houses condition the connection between the affairs of those houses in the individual’s life.
Mutual house reception occurs where the Lord of one house (the almuten of the sign and degree on its cusp) is posited in a house, the Lord of which is posited in the original house. This type of house pairing closely interlinks and combines the affairs of the two houses, just as planetary mutual reception interlinks the functions and energies of two (or more) planets.
Connection by multiple house rulership interlinks each pair of houses the sign and degree positions on whose cusps share the same almuten. This almuten’s sign and house placements, and the condition of its planetary dispositor in turn, will shed light on the affairs of both houses equally.
The placement within the chart of the natural ruler of a house (i.e. the domicile ruler of the sign corresponding in numerical position in the zodiac to the number of the house concerned), and particularly any connections it makes (by aspect or dispositorship) to the Lord of that house, can be significant to the study of the house in the particular chart.
Natural ruler mutual house reception occurs where the natural ruler of one house is posited in another house whose natural ruler is posited in the original house. To a lesser extent than regular (natal ruler) mutual house reception, this binds together the affairs of the two houses.
Other natural rulership connections within the chart occur when: (1) the dispositor of a planet is posited in the planet’s natural house (i.e. the house over which the planet is the natural ruler); (2) the Lord of a house is posited in the house’s natural sign (i.e. the sign corresponding in numerical position in the zodiac to the number of the house concerned); (3) the Lord or natural ruler of a house is posited in that house (this strengthens the influence of both the house and the ruler concerned in the figure); (4) the Lord of a house is in aspect within the chart to the house’s natural ruler (this aspect will strengthen or weaken the house depending on how harmonious or disharmonious it is in nature, and in accordance with the general nature of the planet that is the house’s natural ruler).
The Lord of the Nativity
One planet is often described as the Lord of the Nativity, the Ruler of the Horoscope, or more colloquially the Chart Ruler or Ruling Planet. This is usually the Lord of the Ascendant, which unless another planet is the almuten of the ascendant degree will be the domicile ruler of the Ascendant sign. However, if a planet is conjunct the Ascendant to within a 5º orb if posited in the first house or to within a 3º orb if posited in the twelfth house, it takes precedence over the Lord of the Ascendant ruler as Lord of the Nativity.
DeVore offers a more elaborate set of rules in determining whether or not the Lord of the first house should be the Lord of the Nativity. Firstly, he states that ‘if the Lord of the Ascendant is poorly aspected and in an uncongenial sign’, then ‘a more elevated planet’ (i.e. closer to the Midheaven) ‘should be considered, if there be such’. Then he adds that notwithstanding the Lord of the Ascendant being well-aspected, every other planet should be considered on criteria of its position and aspects to see if it is of equal power; and if one is found so to be, the Nativity is deemed to have dual Lordship. In the consideration of a planet’s power as a criterion for the right to be Lord of the Nativity, DeVore stipulates that an afflicted candidate should be preferred over one with favorable aspects.
Further factors to take into consideration suggested by Devore include: 1) that ‘if the Lord of the Ascendant is weak, the Ruler of the Sun sign may be the Lord of the Nativity, if it is in powerful aspect to the Sun and Moon’; 2) that the Sun or Moon itself may be Lord of the Nativity ‘if strongly placed and in the sign of its Rulership or Exaltation’; 3) that if there is an intercepted sign (i.e. a sign contained wholly within one house) in the First House, the domicile ruler of that sign is co-ruler (together with the Lord of the Ascendant) of the first house; and 4) ‘accidental dignities are deemed to outweigh essential dignities; especially where a planet occupies the tenth house’.
Older texts take as the Lord of the Geniture whichever planet has the greatest value of essential and accidental dignity in its actual placement in the figure, regardless of whether or not it is Lord of the Ascendant.
According to Alan Oken, the sign placement of the Lord of the Nativity determines the manner in which an individual expends much of his or her time and energies; while its house placement determines the areas of life in which the individual does so; and the connection this Lord has to its dispositor, as well as major aspects thrown from the Lord to any other planets at all (with a view to the compatibility of the planets concerned with the Lord of the Nativity in general, as modified by the harmonious or disharmonious nature of the aspect type connecting them), but particularly the closest major aspect, will also shed light here. The Lord of the Nativity predominates over any final dispositor in determining the individual’s outward vital projection, although the final dispositor remains as an undercurrent interlinking the different functions of the life. In interpreting the Lord of the Nativity, the influence of the sign placement of the Ascendant needs to be combined with that of the chart ruler itself.
The dispositor of the chart ruler is called the secondary dispositor; and is considered, by its sign and house placements and aspects thrown, to provide further clues to the individual’s major vital expenditure. Aspects from the secondary dispositor to the Lord of the Nativity are of particular conditioning importance to the Lord of the Nativity. The secondary dispositor increases in importance if it is posited in its domicile, or if it is posited in the same sign as the Lord of the Nativity; if both of these conditions apply, and the secondary dispositor is conjunct the chart ruler, then the significance of the secondary dispositor can come to exceed that of the chart ruler.
If, in determining the Lord of the Nativity, a planet conjunct the Ascendant has been judged to take precedence over the Ascendant ruler, then this planet’s sign placement and aspects will be of primary influence, determining the individual’s appearance and personality (although if the planet is in the 12th house he or she will be less aware of the projection of these traits than if it is in the 1st); yet the ruler of the Ascendant will still be a very important secondary influence.
In the event that a planet conjunct the Ascendant is the almuten of the Ascendant, its strength as an influence on the life is further potentiated.
Disposition by Triplicity Rulers
Although a planet in a chart is most dignified by triplicity when it is the ruler of that triplicity for the time (day or night) of the chart, when it comes to disposition considerations it is appropriate to consider all three rulers of each triplicity: the day, night and participating rulers.
The triplicity rulers of a planet are those of the triplicity of the sign in which the planet is posited. The triplicity rulers of a house are those of the triplicity (i.e. element) of the sign on its cusp. In each case, the triplicity ruler corresponding to the time of the horoscope (day or night) takes first priority as a dispositor of the planet or house under consideration; the triplicity ruler corresponding to the opposite time from that of the chart takes second priority as dispositor; and the participating ruler of the relevant triplicity is of tertiary importance as dispositor of the planet or house being investigated. There is also a tradition whereby, on the same basis of triplicity ruler prioritisation, the primary triplicity dispositor governs the first third of life, the secondary one governs the second third of life, and the third one governs the final third of life, all in relation to the affairs of the house under consideration.
In the 20th century, various more complex systems designed to quantify the strength or harmony of planets and other natal astrological factors were experimentally devised. One of the most enduringly popular is called Cosmodynes, and offers a dual assessment of ‘power’ and harmony.
The power of a planet is assessed with regard to its house placement, its proximity to the cusp of that house, and the number and closeness of aspects thrown to it, regardless of their harmony or disharmony. By this system, the planet with the greatest power (‘the most cosmodynes’) is declared the ruler of the chart, and is thought to have the greatest influence in the individual’s life, for good or ill. Similarly, the most powerful house in the figure will show the area of life most strongly manifest for the individual.
The harmony or disharmony of a planet is assessed with regard to the nature of all aspects thrown to it, its essential dignity, and any mutual reception. The balance of ‘harmodynes’ (harmonious influences) to ‘discordynes’ (discordant ones) can be calculated for every planet, sign and house. However significantly each may feature in the individual’s life by virtue of its power, its quality can be measured using harmodynes and discordynes.