Exaltation

Astrological Dictionary

In Greek, Hypsomaton, meaning hiding-place. The Exaltations, or Hypsomata, are specific positions (sign and degree) for the 7 visible planets, as follows: Sun, Aries 19?; Moon, Taurus 03?; Mercury, Virgo 15?; Venus, Pisces 27?; Mars, Capricorn 28?; Jupiter, Cancer 15?; Saturn, Libra 21?. With Egyptian Astrology, in both zodiacs found in the temple of Khnum at Esneh (BC137), the planets (personified as gods) are shown in the signs of their exaltation. Also found in the Circular Zodiac (AD17) from the Temple of Osiris at Denderah (now in the Louvre). In Greek and Roman Astrology, their introduction is documented by Ptolemy (2nd century AD), who attempted to rationalize their assignments, devoting a full chapter to it in the Tetrabiblos (I.19). He treats only the signs of the exaltations and, although he notes them, makes no attempt to explain the exact degrees given in his lists. Ptolemy exalts the Sun in Aries because, since Aries (at least in the northern hemisphere), coincides with renewed warmth and increased sunlight. The opposite of Aries, then, Libra, naturally has its exaltation with Saturn, which rules (according to ancient rulerships) Aquarius, the sign opposite the Sun's rulership. Taurus is the exaltation of the Moon because, as the first sign after Aries and the one in which the Moon first makes an appearance after a new Moon in the sign of solar exaltation. Such is the flavor of Ptolemy's thinking. In Hindu Astrology, the hypsomata are found in the sacred literature of India. In traditional birthcharts of their great avatars and heros, planets are often found in the signs of their exaltations or dignities: In the Kalaprakashika, Lord Sri Krishna's birthchart has Moon rising in Taurus, Jupiter and Caput (Moon's North Node) in Cancer, Sun in Leo, Mercury in Virgo, Venus and Saturn in Libra, and Mars in Capricorn. And Rama, the super-hero of the Ramayan is presented as having Sun and Mercury in Aries, Moon rising with Jupiter in Cancer, Saturn in Libra, Mars in Capricorn, and Venus in Pisces. In time, a widespread belief evolved that the exaltations were derived from lists of the planets at the births of exalted personalities; hence, special note was given to charts in which exaltation degrees were found. The true meaning of these assignments confounded astrologers and philosophers for centuries until, in 1947, the Irish astrologer Cyril Fagan researched their origin. His detective work ranks as a major discovery in both astrology and archaelogy. Using the literal meaning of the Greek word hypsomaton (exaltation), Fagan reasoned that the "hiding place" of a planet could only refer to those parts of the zodiac through which the planet was invisible -- the degree at which the planet disappeared from view into the Sun's brilliance (heliacal setting), or reappeared (heliacal rising). In the Lunar Year which began 786 BC, April 3 (at sunset) and ended in 785BC, March 23, each of the seven visible planets passed through their exaltation values. This year has been called the Golden Year of Astrology. It was preceded only sixteen days earlier, on March 18, by a total eclipse of the Moon of magnitude 1.53. Compared to the lunar eclipse of 2283BC, March 8 (magnitude only 1.03) -- which heralded the destruction of "Ur of the Chaldees," in the same Celestial Longitude (Sidereal Zodiac) -- it must have been closely observed by the peoples of Egypt, Babylonia, and India. On the first day of that year, the Sun and Moon occupied their respecive exaltations. And, the remaining five planets assumed their exaltations on the dates of their heliacal setting (or rising), when they entered (or left) their "hiding places." The dates and positions are given in the table "Exaltation". Apart from the numerous military conquests of Adad-Nirari III (809-782 BC), King of the Assyrian Empire, the principal event during his reign was the building at Kalakh (or Kalhu) -- the Biblical Calah, or modern Nimrud -- a university/temple in honor of Nabu, the "god" of astrology, phophecy, wisdom, mathematics, reading, writing, teaching, and schools. Nabu had charge of the Tablets of Fate. This new temple became the chief seat of learning in the Assyrian Empire and housed the extensive libraries of Sargon II (722- 705 BC), Sennacherib (705-680 BC), and Assurbanipal (668-626 BC) before they were later moved to the temple of Nabu at Nineveh. The fame of the astrological priests of Nabu was known throughout the ancient world; they were the "Chaldeans" so often mentioned in astrological literature. In addition, the ancients made use of three different yearly calendars. Two of these are of interest here: The Ecclesiastical New Year (Lunar Year) began 786 BC, April 4 (1st Nisan), and "New Year's Day of the Ancients," the Civil New Year, began 786 BC, September 29 (1st Teshrit). Both days were observed as Sabbaths. But, September 29 (which also the date of Spica's heliacal rising at Babylon) was also a Saturday, or the Sabbath-day. And when two Sabbaths coincided, they were observed as a Great Sabbath. Thus, it is no surprise that the ancients marked this year for all future generations by recording the planets positions (their exaltations). It should be noted that Fagan's work on the exaltations also demonstrated that these priests recorded the planetary positions in the sidereal zodiac, which placed Spica at 29? Virgo. Astrologers have assigned the signs opposite to the exaltation of each planet to its fall, ignoring the exact degrees. Exaltation and essential dignity in general had a strong proponent in seventeenth century England in William Lilly, master horary astrologer and author of a comprehensive textbook on the subject as a whole called Christian Astrology.

 
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