Still Thinking About Triplicity Rulers


I’ve been thinking a lot about triplicity rulers lately and trying to understand what this dignity means.  Morinus rejects the older texts because he feels Ptolemy’s conception of triplcity rulership is logically flawed.  For example, Morinus would question how Mars could rule the water triplicity by both day and night (as in Lilly’s system) when Mars is debilitated in Cancer by being in fall there.  Morin argues that Jupiter is much more dignified than Mars in the water triplicity because Jupiter rules the water sign Pisces, is exalted in the water sign Cancer, and has no debilities in any of the water signs.  Morin rejects the use of sect (diurnal or nocturnal) as the deciding factor.

To quantify Morin’s approach I put together the following table:

Triplicity Ruler Exalted Detriment Fall SCORE
Saturn Fire -5 -4 -9
Water -5 -5
Air 5 4 9
Earth 5 5
Triplicity Ruler Exalted Detriment Fall SCORE
Jupiter Fire 5 5
Water 5 4 9
Air -5 -5
Earth -5 -4 -9
Triplicity Ruler Exalted Detriment Fall SCORE
Mars Fire 5 5
Water 5 -4 1
Air -5 -5
Earth 4 -5 -1
Triplicity Ruler Exalted Detriment Fall SCORE
Sun Fire 5 5 10
Water 0
Air -5 -4 -9
Earth 0
Triplicity Ruler Exalted Detriment Fall SCORE
Venus Fire -5 -5
Water 4 -5 -1
Air 5 5
Earth 5 -4 1
Triplicity Ruler Exalted Detriment Fall SCORE
Mercury Fire -5 -5
Water -5 -4 -9
Air 5 5
Earth 5 5 10
Triplicity Ruler Exalted Detriment Fall SCORE
Moon Fire 0
Water 5 -4 1
Air 0
Earth 4 -5 -1

Quantifying Morin’s ideas leads to the following triplicity rulers:

Morin Triplicity
Fire Sun  +10 Mars  +5 Jupiter  +5
Water Jupiter +9 Moon +1 Mars  +1
Air Saturn  +9 Venus  +5 Mercury  +5
Earth Mercury  +10 Saturn  +5 Venus  +1

We can contrast Morin’s view with that of Ptolemy:

PTOLEMY
Fire Sun Jupiter
Water Venus Moon Mars
Air Saturn Mercury
Earth Venus Moon

Lilly’s view is the same as Ptolemy’s except that Lilly makes Mars the day and night ruler of the watery triplicity and ignores participating rulers.

If we add the idea of sect and try to calculate dignities, we get a table something like the following.  Because classical writers regarded sect as a determining factor, I chose a value of +8 for being of the same sect and -8 for being of the opposite sect.  Mercury was a special problem.  Classically Mercury was considered “neutral” and could not be judged in terms of sect.  In this case Mercury is most dignified in earth because it rules and is exalted in Virgo.  Yet Dorotheus and Ptolemy gave Mercury no dignity in the earth triplicity, which Morin considered utterly illogical and contrary to nature.  To get around this issue in my tabulations, I considered Mercury to be mildly diurnal because of its constant proximity to the Sun.  Here is the hypothetical table of values:

Triplicity Ruler Exalted Detriment Fall Sect: D/N SCORE
Saturn Fire -5 -4 8 -1
Water -5 -8 -13
Air 5 4 8 17
Earth 5 -8 -3
Triplicity Ruler Exalted Detriment Fall Sect: D/N SCORE
Jupiter Fire 5 8 13
Water 5 4 -8 1
Air -5 8 3
Earth -5 -4 -8 -17
Triplicity Ruler Exalted Detriment Fall Sect: D/N SCORE
Mars Fire 5 -8 -3
Water 5 -4 8 9
Air -5 -8 -13
Earth 4 -5 8 7
Triplicity Ruler Exalted Detriment Fall Sect: D/N SCORE
Sun Fire 5 5 8 18
Water -8 -8
Air -5 -4 8 -1
Earth -8 -8
Triplicity Ruler Exalted Detriment Fall Sect: D/N SCORE
Venus Fire -5 -8 -13
Water 4 -5 8 7
Air 5 -8 -3
Earth 5 -4 8 9
Triplicity Ruler Exalted Detriment Fall Sect: D/N SCORE
Mercury Fire -5 4 -1
Water -5 -4 -4 -13
Air 5 4 9
Earth 5 5 -4 6
Triplicity Ruler Exalted Detriment Fall Sect: D/N SCORE
Moon Fire -8 -8
Water 5 -4 8 9
Air -8 -8
Earth 4 -5 8 7

The resulting table of dignity rulers with the three highest scores in each triplicity closely resembles that of Dorotheus except for the order of the three triplicity rulers:

Triplicity Planets
Fire Sun  +18 Jupiter  +13
Water Mars  +9 Moon +9 Venus +7
Air Saturn  +17 Mercury  +9 Jupiter  +3
Earth Venus  + 9 Moon  +7 Mars  +7

Here are Dorotheus’ rulers for comparison:

Dorotheus
Fire Sun Jupiter Saturn
Water Venus Mars Moon
Air Saturn Mercury Jupiter
Earth Venus Moon Mars

This was an interesting, though a bit obsessive, exercise in trying to figure out how the triplicity rulers got assigned in the first place.

Addendum #1:  Just to be clear, I am not proposing a new system of triplicity rulers.  My goal here was to try to reconcile the ideas of Morin with those of Dorotheus.  Petros Eleftheriadis, who has a very informative astrology blog, left a useful comment about Dorotheus on my Facebook page, which I will copy here:

“I think Dorotheus’ system becomes more easy to understand once we keep in mind two thngs. One, that the water and earth triplicity are nocturnal ones, while air and fire are diurnal ones and two, that in every triplicity we have to forget about the planets of the opposite sect. So, since water for example, is a nocturnal triplicity, we are stuck with Mars, Venus and the Moon. However, we have to pick the less nocturnal of the three as daytime ruler of the water triplicity and that is Venus, not Mars nor the Moon.”

Addendum #2: Roy Kirkland also left a thoughtful message about triplicities and natal charts on Facebook which is reproduced below:

“As far as character in the natal chart, Triplicity has to do with a couple of things.  In the Nautical Metaphor the triplicity ruler of the sect light was called (by some) the Sail Master, or the one who was in charge of using the wind to give power to the ship of life. That’s a pretty good metaphor for the ability for one’s ability to stay motivated, and considering that the 4 trigons were related to the “winds”, it had to do with the external circumstances under which the “ship was sailing”, hence, the environment of individual in question, and how that individual is supported toward their goals by the environment.  The second trigon lord was the assistant sailmaster, who took over when the sailmaster was “busy”, i.e. involved in a duty that took its attention away (say under transits or in a restrictive time period).  The third ruler was the oarmaster, who rowed when there was no wind – in other words, he was the backup for situations where the first two were not in good shape by way of house position (angular, succeedent, cadent), essential dignity and so forth.  The other angle from which I approach them is from temperament – if the basic temperament of the chart is running afoul of the sailmaster, the person seems to be less ‘motivated’ or misguided in their behavior, confidence, etc., or has a difficult time with the circumstances they face.  There’s more to it than this but you probably get the idea as to how I look at them.”

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About Anthony Louis

Author of books about astrology and tarot, including TAROT PLAIN AND SIMPLE, HORARY ASTROLOGY, and THE ART OF FORECASTING WITH SOLAR RETURNS.
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