Sunday, 10 May 2015

The sequence of the planets in the Egyptian bounds

When I got into traditional astrology some years ago, I came across a form of essential dignity called terms (or bounds). In short, each planet (with the exception of the Lights) is supposed to have dignity in certain degrees of every sign. What was strange about terms was that everybody said they worked, but the logic behind the table was lost in time and despite the efforts made by contemporary astrologers, no sufficient explanation could be given neither about the sequence of the planets nor about the number of the allotted degrees. What also creates a lot of difficulties is the fact that several tables of terms/bounds exist, especially variations of Ptolemy’s table. There doesn’t seem to be any disagreement among authors, however, regarding the sequence of the planets in the Egyptian bounds.
So, which table to use? That was left up to the individual, based on purely personal, therefore subjective, preferences. Those horary astrologers whose studies are based mostly on Lilly’s work, use Ptolemy’s terms (or at least Lilly’s variation of Ptolemy’s terms) usually with no questions asked. The Hellenistic astrologers prefer the Egyptian bounds, because they don’t like the changes (with the exception pf primary directions) Ptolemy made in Hellenistic astrology in general. The bizarre excuse Ptolemy offered that he found his own version of the terms in an old book of an unnamed author, didn’t help much either. I also started using the Egyptian bounds for the same reasons. It is extremely difficult to prove which set of terms works better, but if I could at least understand the sequence of the planets (forget about the number of degrees allotted), I would be satisfied.
Before we go any further, what are the obvious facts? Firstly, both Lights are excluded from this form of dignity and only the five planets have bounds.  Is there a reason behind this exclusion? I can’t really say if there is a deeper reason behind this, but the obvious reason seems to stem from the fact that the number of degrees each planet gets has to coincide with the number of the years they are allotted in traditional astrology. Which set of years however? The least, the mean or the greater one? Keeping in mind that the final number has to be 360 (the degrees of the whole zodiac), if you add up all the years in each set, only the mean set comes close to 360 (356 to be precise), but close is not exact. If you take out the degrees of the Lights however, the total of the number of greater years of the five planets is 360 (57+66+79+82+76 = 360).
Secondly, the malefics are primarily placed at the end of the signs (in both tables that is). Thirdly, just like in Ptolemy’s terms, Mars and Saturn seem to play the part of domicile ruler in Cancer and Leo accordingly, in view of the absence of the Sun and Moon. I would go even further and say that, as a result of the change of rulerships, Saturn’s sign of detriment (only for the bounds, naturally) is Aquarius and Mars’ is Capricorn. Finally, face rulership seems to play an important part in times of indecision.
Here is – in my opinion – the logic behind the sequence of the planets in the Egyptian bounds.

Sequence of the planets
1)                  The first column is a place for what I call the triplicity almuten, that is the planet that has the most dignity in all three signs of a single triplicity. In the fire triplicity, with the absence of the Sun, the most dignified planet there is Jupiter (domicile rulership in Sagittarius and triplicity rulership by night). In the water triplicity, Mars is the most dignified planet because he has two domicile rulerships (Cancer, Scorpio) and triplicity rulership by night. Since Saturn doesn’t rule Aquarius, Mercury is the most dignified planet in the air triplicity (domicile rulership in Gemini and triplicity rulership by night). Saturn has exaltation and triplicity rulership, but domicile rulership tops exaltation. Finally, in the earth triplicity Mercury is again the overall triplicity ruler (rulership and exaltation in Virgo). Venus has domicile and triplicity rulership in the earth signs, but exaltation is preferred over triplicity and Mercury wins. However, if there is a planet that has double major dignity in a particular sign, then that planet is preferred for that sign only

More specifically: 

Jupiter is given 1st place in all the fire signs because he is the triplicity almuten and there is no other planet in any of the three signs capable to outshine him. 
Mercury is the triplicity almuten in the earth signs, so he is given the 1st place in the earth signs with the exception of Taurus, where Venus is preferred because she has double dignity in Taurus (domicile rulership and triplicity rulership).  
Mercury is given 1st place in the air signs with the exception of Libra where Saturn is preferred because he has double dignity there (exaltation and triplicity rulership).
Mars is the triplicity almuten in water, so he is given 1st place there with the exception of Pisces, where Venus has double dignity (exaltation and triplicity rulership).

2)                  The second column is the column of the benefics. Only Venus or Jupiter can be placed here, unless the triplicity almuten wasn’t used in the first column and has to be placed here. However, if the triplicity almuten that wasn’t used in the first column is a malefic, he can’t be used, as this is a place only for benefics. In case neither benefic was used in the first column, we choose the benefic that is a face ruler in that particular sign.

So, in all the fire signs the only choice is Venus, because she is the only benefic left, as Jupiter was used in the first column in all three signs. In the earth signs: Mercury, the triplicity almuten, wasn’t used in the first column in Taurus, because of Venus’ double dignity. So, he will take second place. In Virgo and Capricorn we have to make a choice between Venus and Jupiter. Venus is preferred in Virgo and Jupiter in Capricorn (face rulers). In the air signs: In Libra, Mercury, the triplicity almuten, wasn’t used because of Saturn’s double dignity, so he takes second place. In Gemini and Aquarius we have to make a choice between Venus and Jupiter. In Gemini, Jupiter is preferred and in Aquarius, Venus (face rulers). In the water signs: In Pisces, Venus took first place, so only one benefic is left, Jupiter, who takes second place. Mars, the triplicity almuten can’t be used here, as he is a malefic. In Cancer and Scorpio we have to make a choice between Venus and Jupiter. In both cases, Venus is the face ruler, so she takes second place.

3)                  The third column is the column of the non-malefic planet that is still left. In case two non-malefic planets are still left, the face ruler is again preferred. 

In the fire signs, Mercury is the only non-malefic planet left, so he gets third place in Sagittarius and Aries. In Leo, however, Saturn takes third place, because as Leo’s ruler, he functions as a non-malefic in this sign and therefore we have two non-malefics left, Saturn and Mercury. Saturn, as a face ruler, gets third place. In the earth signs, the non-malefic planet still left is used. In the air signs the same, but in Libra we have two non-malefics still left, Venus and Jupiter. Jupiter will be used as he is the face ruler.  Water signs: In Pisces, the non-malefic still left, Mercury, is used. In Cancer and Scorpio, we have two non-malefics still left. In Cancer, Mercury prevails as the face ruler. In Scorpio, neither Mercury nor Jupiter is a face ruler. Jupiter, as a superior planet, will take 4th place (the last two columns befit more the superior planets) and Mercury will take third place.

4)                  The last two columns are places of the malefics. The non-malefic still left will take 4th place.

In Cancer, Leo and Libra we have a non-malefic still left, so they will take 4th place. Between Mars and Saturn, the general order is Mars (the less superior) in the 4th place and Saturn in the 5th, unless Saturn is a face ruler and in that case he will take 4th place (Taurus, Sagittarius). In Pisces, they are both face rulers, so the general order is kept and that is also the case in Aquarius, where neither of them is a face ruler. Capricorn is a special case here. Since Mars is a face ruler in Capricorn, he should have taken 4th place, but that isn’t the case. If this isn’t a mistake, it may be that detriment was taken into account here. Mars, by ruling Cancer, is in detriment in Capricorn and so he takes last place as the greater malefic in this particular sign. The fact that Saturn takes last place in Aquarius, where one perhaps would expect him to take 4th place, in spite of him not having face rulership there, also corroborates this.