A fellow astrologer emailed me this week for some help understanding how receptions work in astrology. For example, she wondered, if Mars is in Leo, which way does the attraction go, and who is helping whom? Does the Sun, being the ruler of Leo, see Mars in Leo and say “hey, he reminds me of me!”, or does Mars, being in the Sun’s sign, say “I want to be just like Sun!”?
The answer is that when Mars is in Sun’s sign, it is ruled by the Sun; therefore, Mars in Leo loves the Sun and wants to help it. It’s not that Mars wants to be like the Sun; but Mars in Leo is most interested in whatever the Sun represents in that chart.
Just because Mars is in the Sun’s sign doesn’t mean the Sun automatically reciprocates Mars’ interest, though, or reciprocates it to the same degree. To learn who the Sun likes, look at the sign it is in. Right now, for instance, the Sun is in Gemini, in a degree where Mars has dignity by face. Face is the very least of dignities, only very slightly positive. It tells us that Sun likes Mars just a little bit, not with any grand passion or anything, but could be persuaded to do something nice for Mars if it isn’t busy doing something else.
If the Sun were in a part of Gemini where Mars has no dignity nor debility, then Sun would neither like nor dislike Mars. It would be indifferent to whatever Mars wants, however much Mars in Leo might adore it. (Mars, meet Morrissey: “The more you ignore me, the closer I get.”)
But let’s imagine that Sun is in a sign like Taurus, where Mars is in its detriment. Now there’s a difficult dynamic! Mars in Leo adores the Sun; Sun in Taurus hates Mars and brings him harm.
Just for fun, take your own birth chart and a table of essential dignities (like this one from Skyscript) and figure out who likes who and who hates who: who plays well together. A note: in this table, the numbers are ordinal. For instance, when you look across the Aries row to the first column under The Terms of the Planets and see “Jupiter 6″, that means that Jupiter is in its term from 0 Aries 00 to 5 Aries 59: the first to the sixth degrees of Aries.
Let’s say you have Sun at 13 Gemini 19 or so (and if you do, happy birthday!). Look at the table at the Gemini row, and follow across to find each planetary dignity at that degree of Gemini. This Sun is…
- in the rulership of Mercury
- in nobody’s exaltation (don’t worry about the North Node in the table, not part of this discussion)
- in the triplicity of Saturn (it’s daytime where I am writing this now, and Saturn is daytime triplicity ruler of air signs)
- in the term of Venus (because, see, it’s past the 13th degree of Gemini, so it’s out of Jupiter’s term)
- in the face of Mars
- in the detriment of Jupiter
- in nobody’s fall
So Sun loves Mercury, likes Saturn, gets along okay with Venus and Mars, and hates Jupiter.
Have fun doing this for each of the seven traditional planets in your chart. Do your planets get along? Does everybody seem to hate one particular planet? Any mutual receptions (two planets liking each other reciprocally)?