View Full Version : Genesis of Exaltations

09-12-2009, 04:35
Can anyone offer a brief explanation of where exaltations came from?

From the tiny bit I've read, I learned that they came from the Babylonian associations for the ruling planets of signs. (For example, they considered Jupiter the ruler of Cancer. We consider the Moon as Cancer's ruler, but kept Jupiter in exaltation of Cancer.) Is this true? If so, why doesn't every sign have at least one planet in exaltation?

Some exaltations make sense; i.e., Sun in Aries, Moon in Taurus, Venus in Pisces. I can even understand Mars in Capricorn a bit. But what associations does Jupiter have with Cancer? And why isn't Mercury exalted somewhere?

TIA for your insights and guidance.

09-12-2009, 05:24
I just now found a fantastic article by Gavin White on Deborah Houlding's Skyscript site that gives some excellent explanations.


I'd still be interested in anything anyone else knows, too.

09-12-2009, 05:39
Your references seem to be quite specific EXCEPT FOR ONE SMALL POINT.

The exhalations were attributable to specific degree-points in signs; those signs were Sidereal in nature. The current Tropical Zodiac signs are very many degrees removed from those points that were cited relative to a temple that was constructed many thousands of years ago. Why astrologer who use the Tropical Zodiac continue to refer to those points without converting them to the appropriate Tropical sign and degree point is beyond me.

Actually, I know why they don't do it. The whole scheme of rulerships that Tropical astrologers use would have to go into the trash bucket --- and a major segment of astrological practice would be seen as bogus. I don't think the astrological world is ready for that ---- its better to keep the mistakes going forward then attempt to find the truth.

The above statements are what any Sidereal astrologer would tell you. I don't use signs just because of this issue and many other issues. Dave.

09-12-2009, 06:20
Do you mean this information is not based on the stars/constellations in the heavens at the time the Babylonian star maps were in use? It's neither sidereal nor tropical?

15Cancer is noted as the point of exhaltation, not the whole sign.

I'm very confused.

09-12-2009, 06:35
Your reference source seems to be based on the TROPICAL zodiac as no mention was made of the Sidereal zodiac and all most all of Skyscript's threads are relative to Tropical signs except where specifically noted.

The Tropical signs, and their degrees, are far removed from the Sidereal signs and degrees of long ago. It would seem to me that some sort of correction, perhaps about 25 degrees, is appropriate. If these observations are correct, then those that use exaltation signs/degrees in the Tropical Zodiac would have to trash many aspects of their practice ---- and call other practices into question as well. It is a sensitive subject.

So, is your reference source assuming a Tropical framework for the observations made? If so, were those exaltation points converted from the Sidereal Zodiac? Was the reference source citing some other, perhaps modern exaltation points created by a modern authority or author? Dave

09-12-2009, 06:57
Actually, I didn't see a mention of a tropical or sidereal zodiac, so I assumed (I know, I know) that he was writing the article based on the positions of planets and stars during the time the Babylonian zodiac was in use by Babylonians. Perhaps that's too much of an assumption.

Houlding and J. Lee Lehman both cite a lack of references and source material in Gavin White's article, but do give his book high marks for being valuable to the layman.

Do you think it's possible to live in both tropical and sidereal time simultaneously? In other words, will we always find the symbols we are looking for to make sense of ourselves and give us the answer we want, no matter where we look?

09-12-2009, 10:13
Yes, it is possible to live in a Tropical and a Sidereal world at the same time. It is only a matter of definition and a matter of which, if any, is "right." I would say that we find what fits best and then go from there.

Yes, we often find the answers we want to find no matter which course of action or system we use. That is the problem and the value of being stuck with using the human mind.

Yes, Gavin White's article is lacking in several respects. We won't condemn him but will praise him for articulating and sharing his thoughts as best he could.

Yes, if he was writing about positions defined within the Babylonian Zodiac framework (Sidereal) then any placement of those same sign names and degree positions into the Tropical Zodiac is blatantly wrong and invalidates whatever he cites in his written work. If he meant to place everything in the Sidereal framework then we can cite him for a gross lack of clarity in terms of talking to the 99.9% of the (Tropical) astrological community.

And, for my final "yes", Yes you should question more the opinions of those who write and teach others. We are all subject to failures on occasion. Dave

09-12-2009, 12:20
Thank you, Dave.

The forum here is always good food for thought.

09-12-2009, 18:41
Well that contains an assumption that exaltations ARE sidereally based but it's possible to argue that they are equinox based - such as the Sun's exaltation in Aries and fall in Libra. It's also possible that the exaltations were not developed at one point in time but over a period.

Where there is an argument that they are aligned to stars, we are back to the issue of whether these stars are convenient markers of a 'seasonal' change because of their location in a zodiac where the entry into Spring was marked by the Sun's alignment to a star/stars in the constellation of Aries. In which case as precession shifts the March equinox sidereally, so the exaltations should move sidereally as well, in order to keep to their 'Tropical' position.

The short answer of course is we don't know enought to provide a definitive answer. My suspicion though is that those who developed the exaltations did not make any distinction between siderreal and tropical zodiacs and were marking something that was human life related, which is likely to be equinox related.

09-12-2009, 18:49
Minderwiz: The short answer of course is we don't know enought to provide a definitive answer. My suspicion though is that those who developed the exaltations did not make any distinction between siderreal and tropical zodiacs and were marking something that was human life related, which is likely to be equinox related.
I suspect that you may have put your finger on it there Minderwiz!

An interesting thread :)


10-12-2009, 05:18
Thanks, Mindy. Beautifully put.

10-12-2009, 05:49
If I remember correctly, Cyril Fagan (astrologer, historian, Egyptologist) and Brigidair Firbrace worked out the hieroglyphic language and pictograms of the sky maps at one of the ancient temples in Egypt (which were correlated with other sites) and calculated out those ancient skies to determine the positions of the planet exaltations. This was centuries before any mention of a Tropical Zodiac or written records of precession were in existence. I'll try to find those references and collaborating authors.

The bottom line is that only "sidereal" reference frameworks existed then in those very long-ago times. People saw the sky, saw the stars and used them accordingly. Fagan and Glasgow go on to correlate the names and meanings of the fixed stars and their helical positions at specific times of the year to show that those stars were marker stars for calendar events in the ancient world.

It is only in the latter Greek period that the shift of stars relative to their former use of civil events/dates came into question. This coincided with the growing awareness and use of math and measuring devices that permitted the Aries Point and the subject of the seasonal zodiac to be raised, examined and advocated. Prior to this point in time, it was all sidereal. The exalt positions of long ago by sign/degree/location do not agree with present day Tropical sign/degree positions.

Before that position can be advocated, one would have to make a strong case using math, historical and computer skills/knowledge to explain how a jump from one reference frame to another reference frame was justified, especially since the original reference frame is still there to be seen. Or, one would have to use present day Tropical Zodiac mathematics and philosophy to construct a model of some sort that would cause the planets to seemingly take on emphasized attributes relative to the Aries Point. Either approach is daunting. I choose to stick with the record as literally carved in stone, recorded on parchment and translated and corroborated by many intellectuals over time. Dave

10-12-2009, 07:19
My point isn't that the reference framework was a Tropical Zodiac - it wasn't. Neither was it 'only' a Sidereal framework I'm aware that there's an argument that the Babylonians were aware of precession over a thousand years before Hipparchus but even if that were true (and it may well be) we are still dealing with situation in which the March equinox occured in Aries. When the equal sign zodiac was developed the March equinox was in the first 10 degrees of Aries. At that time no one distinguished between sidereal and tropical, as Dave says. It's also very probable that it was actually believed that the March equinox was fixed in Aries for all time (both past, present and future). In such a situation can we really insist that actions are in a sidereal, rather than an equinoctial framework, when the people concerned had no conception of a distinction or difference?

Of course marker stars would be used for calendar purposes, but the calendar was largely determined by equinoxes or solstices. For many calendars (including the Babylonian) that link with the equinox or solstice is still the vital thing, they haven't shifted the calendar to keep in contact with certain star positions.

Yes, Dave is right to say that the exaltations were almost certainly established pre-Tropical Zodiac (in the sense of a Zodiac measured from the Equinox) but the were established in a Zodiac which was both sidereal and seasonal it was not just sidereal 'only'. Of these two components of the conjoined zodiacs (which we can see they were with hindsight) which was Astrologically the most important? I can't answer that, nor can Dave - history suggests Tropical in the West and Vedic in India, so there's no definitive answer to that one.

Dave is also right, in a previous post in this thread, to point out that the exaltations were originally linked to specific degrees, I don't know of any definitive explanation of the origin of these degrees, either by Tropical or Sidereally based Astroogers. I think it's a question of 'Watch this space' and for people like Dave and me, that's what makes Astrology so enthralling.