What is accidental dignity?

This post, ‘What is accidental dignity?’ is a companion piece my earlier one about essential dignity.

Accidental and essential dignity are complementary. Together, they assist astrologers to understand planetary expression in a horoscope. So if you’ve ever found yourself lying awake at night wondering, ‘Hey, what is accidental dignity?’… well, here’s an explanation.

Let’s start with a metaphor to illustrate all this. Imagine you’re George Clooney.


You’ve got pretty good essential dignity. At least in terms of being an actor. You can put on a quality performance. You express quality ‘actor-stuff’ really well. So we could say that, as an actor, your essential dignity is rather strong.

And let’s say one day you’re being driven to a movie set in a limo. It’s a 10 minutes drive to the film set. The cameras are set to roll as soon as you arrive.

Only you don’t make it. The limo crashes on the freeway. You’re concussed, and have a broken arm. You’re rushed to hospital. But in the confusion, no one tells the folks waiting for you at the movie set that George won’t be available.

Meanwhile, driving in the vicinity is Jerry, a bartender. He happens to look exactly like George Clooney. They could be identical twins. Jerry is  even dressed-up, because he’s going to a wedding. And the wedding is at the reception centre where they’re shooting George’s movie. What a coincidence!

Jerry drives his beat-up old car to the reception centre, parks, and steps out. Film crew surround him. He’s then hustled to where today’s scene is going to be shot. Jerry is bewildered, but enjoying every moment. Surely there’s been a mistake? But he goes along for the ride. It’s his lucky day. Makeup people fuss over him and a few minutes later he’s in front of the cameras, ready to shoot the scene. George’s scene.

This metaphor is a perfect illustration of ‘essential dignity’ and ‘accidental dignity’. And it might help explain what is accidental dignity.

Here’s why…

George Clooney is ‘essentially’ strong as an actor. But the car accident means he’s ‘accidentally’ debilitated. He’s still George Clooney, though. The accident doesn’t change his essential quality as an actor. But he’s in a spot of bother, and — for the time being — not able to express much of that good stuff. The accident has left George ‘accidentally debilitated’, or of ‘poor accidental dignity.’

Looking at a planetary example, George might be like Jupiter in Sagittarius. Jupiter here is in the sign of its rulership, indicating strong essential dignity, strongly able to express Jupiter’s better qualities.

But what if Jupiter in Sagittarius was in the 12th house, in square aspect to Saturn and/or Mars (aka ‘afflicted’)? Well, that would be considered a challenging situation for the essentially good Jupiter. It would be like George’s accident. Essentially nice Jupiter would be in a spot of accidental bother.

Jerry doesn’t have much essential dignity, at least not as an actor. But due to being at the right place at the right time, he’s elevated. While his essential dignity (actor-wise) is poor, his accidental dignity at the reception centre is huge.

In planetary terms, Jerry’s situation might be akin to a planet with poor essential dignity finding itself elevated. Venus in Scorpio (in detriment: poor essential dignity) conjunct the Ascendant is accidentally strong. The Ascendant is a part of the horoscope where a planet has got considerable room to express. Despite the quality (essential dignity) of that expression being less than ideal in Katy’s case.

Example of accidental dignity: Donald Trump

Let’s look at Donald Trump’s horoscope, below. You can see that he has a Mars in Leo (green oval). Mars here is accidentally very strong, very loud. That’s because it’s so close to his Ascendant, or rising sign. It gives considerable prominence to Mars-like energy. And that’s a kind of energy that Trump has in spades.

What is accidental dignity Donald Trump's horoscope

And if we use astrology software to generate a ‘dignity table’, we can learn about Mars’ essential dignity at 26°46′ of Leo. Look across the Mars row (green box), and you’ll see a ‘+’ under Term and a ‘+’ under Face:

What is accidental dignity Donald Trump dignity table

This means Trump’s Mars has ‘medium to low’ essential dignity. It’s not particular good (rulership, exaltation or triplicity). Nor particularly bad (detriment or fall). It’s somewhere in between. But tending towards the lower end of the scale. So Mars is ‘inclined’ (but not compelled) to behave erratically. Trump’s Mars is likely to fall into instinctual behaviours.

And given that Mars is close to his Ascendant (the part of the horoscope that indicates how we ‘come across’ to others), this Mars-ish behaviour will be very apparent. And such is the case.

Example of accidental debility: Steven Spielberg

I’ll be looking at Spielberg’s horoscope in more detail in a future blog post. But I’d like to focus here on Mars (green oval, below) in his horoscope (or ‘chart’).

What is accidental dignity steven-spielbergs-horoscope

Mars is in Capricorn. What does the table of dignities tell us about Mars at 1°08′ Capricorn?

Steven Spielberg horoscope what is accidental dignity

The little ‘+’ symbol for the Mars row, is under the column, ‘Exaltation.’ Mars is exalted in Capricorn. Meaning it has strong essential dignity in that sign of the zodiac.

But …

But although Mars is essentially strong, it’s accidentally weak. That’s because it is in the 6th house, which is a cadent house (as is the 3rd, 9th and 12th houses).

A planet in a cadent house means they cannot express themselves all that well. And the 6th is also one of the three ‘unfortunate’ houses (others being 12th and 8th). It is the house of illness, among other things.

So while Spielberg has a nice ‘high quality’ Mars, it will be rather quiet and perhaps inhibited in its expression. So he will incline to be assertive in a more positive way (essential dignity), but less loudly than if it was, for example, in an angular (1st, 10th, 4th, 7th) house.

Summary: what is accidental dignity?

So you can see that essential and accidental dignity (and debility) are inter-related. They are core topics in traditional astrology. But you might not hear so much about them in modern psychological astrology. Which is a pity. As they are a nice way of describing a planet’s qualities at a particular degree of the zodiac. And furthermore using accidental dignity/debility to see how that essential energy might manifest in the horoscope.



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