Jyotish – Quality, Significations, and Strength of Planets

In an early Jyotish post, I introduced the properties of the planets, and described their significations that have to be understood well if you are to properly interpret a chart.

To reiterate, a planet signifies a person, a thing, or a circumstance in one of two ways: as a natural significator, through the planet’s inherent nature independent of how it is placed in the chart; or as a functional significator, by virtue of it being the ruler of a specific house in a chart.

In addition, a planet may be either a malefic (gives trouble) or benefic (brings good things) either by its very nature, or as a function of the houses it rules depending on whether those houses are benefic or malefic.

Natural Quality and Significations

The following table lists the natural quality (malefic/benefic) and key significations of each of the planets (for the purpose of interpretation, Rahu and Ketu are also treated as planets):

PlanetQualityNatural Significations
SunMaleficSoul, will, authority, father. Heart, lower heart.
MoonBenefic when waxing,
malefic when waning
Manifestation, spirit, emotion, mother, unconscious mind.
Stomach, digestion, embryo
MercuryNeutralConscious mind, speech, writing, learning, education,
business, enterprise, astrology.
Nervous system, lungs, breathing, intestines
VenusBeneficSpouse, women, luxury, beauty, art, artistry in music and
dance.
Reproductive system, throat, kidneys, venereal diseases,
skin (with Saturn).
MarsMaleficCourage, bravery, brothers, immovable property
(such as houses), vehicles, leadership, weapons.
Blood, muscles, bone marrow
JupiterBeneficHigher learning, religion, philosophy, children, wealth,
intuitive wisdom, higher mind, guru, astrology.
Liver, gall bladder, spleen, thighs and allergies
SaturnMaleficAsceticism, age, patience, perseverance, delay, obstruction,
suffering, wisdom born of experience, buildings, material reality.
Skeletal system, bones, teeth, skin (with Venus)
RahuMaleficExcess, ambition, foreigners, drugs, addiction, fame.
Lungs (with Mercury)
KetuMaleficSpirituality, detachment, discrimination, unboundedness,
unorthodoxy, separation.
Chronic ailments, ulcers, cancer.

Functional Quality

The rulership of a house can make a planet capable of doing good or harm.

The rulers of the kona or trinal houses 1st, 5th and 9th are highly benefic and are considered to offer protection under adversity. The 9th house ruler is considered to be more benefic than the ruler of the 5th house. The 1st house is extra special since it rules the chart as a whole, and is equal in importance to the Moon. It is considered to be the most auspicious planet in the chart.

Consider the example of Mars. It is a natural malefic. Now suppose it rules the 5th house in a chart, in which case it also becomes a functional benefic. It is important to note here that the acquired benefic quality due to house rulership does not overcome the natural malefic quality. Instead, when interpreting, Mars acts as a natural malefic as always, as well as a functional benefic for this particular chart since it rules a benefic house.

The rulership of the houses 3, 6, 8, and 11 are considered to attribute troublesome qualities to the ruler. Jyotishis typically tend to attribute more problematic issues to the 3rd, 6th, and 8th houses, and not so much to the 11th.

The rulership of the kendra or angular houses 4, 7, and 10 is neutral in beneficence, except that a natural malefic gains benefic properties if it rules one of these.

Say Saturn rules the 6th and 7th houses. This would happen in any chart that has a Leo lagna, since then the 6th house would be in Capricorn and the 7th house would be Aquarius, both of which are Saturn ruled. Saturn is a natural malefic. Moreover, Saturn is a functional malefic since it rules the 6th house. On the other hand, because Saturn is a natural malefic it becomes a functional benefic because it rules the kendra 7th house.

The houses 2 and 12 do not attribute either benefic or malefic qualities to their ruler.

Functional Significations

The functional significations of a planet essentially fall back on the significations of the houses. For instance, if Leo is the 3rd house in a Jyotish chart, then its ruler is the Sun. In this case the functional significations for the Sun in this chart are equal to the significations of the 3rd house such as courage, effort, adventure, younger sibling, etc. The house significations were described in detail in the earlier posts covering all the houses.

Strength

Here, Jyotish departs significantly from modern Western astrology which, in its humanistic bent, does not evaluate planets as “strong” or “weak”.

To start with, planets are regarded as being strong if they are in their own signs. Thus, the Sun is strong in Leo, Moon in Cancer, and so on. As a broad qualitative idea, the more planets there are in their own signs, the stronger the chart becomes as a whole.

There is another level of distinguished strength, and that is when a planet is exalted. An exalted planet gains extra power to be itself. In other words, an exalted planet finds ways to express itself much more purely than otherwise. Every planet is given a single exaltation point, listed in the following table:

PlanetExaltation Degree and Sign
Sun10 Aries
Moon3 Taurus
Mercury15 Virgo
Venus27 Pisces
Mars28 Capricorn
Jupiter5 Cancer
Saturn20 Libra
(Note: I have not included Rahu and Ketu because while some astrologers believe that Rahu is exalted in Taurus and Ketu in Scorpio, others believe that Rahu is exalted in Gemini and Ketu in Sagittarius. Without majority agreement, and without persuasive argument that one belief is seen to work much more often than the other, it is best to stay away from blindly using either.)

In practice, a planet is considered to be exalted if it occupies the sign that contains its exaltation degree. Thus, the Sun is exalted in Aries, the Moon in Taurus, and so on. Some astrologers will use the closeness to the exaltation degree to assess the strength of the exaltation. For instance, if the Sun is in Aries, the closer its degree position is to 10, the stronger is the Sun’s exaltation.

A planet that is in the sign opposite to its exaltation sign is said to be debilitated. A debilitated planet functions weakly because it is not quite itself. In particular, it can be detrimental to the persons signified by that planet, either naturally or functionally. For instance, if Mars is in Cancer, it is debilitated, which may result in a sibling having problems, since siblings are a natural signification of Mars. Or, if Mars were to rule the ninth house (which would be either in Aries or Scorpio), the debilitated Mars could mean a problematic father. One of the significators of the ninth house is the father, and Mars as its ruler in this instance will be the functional significator of the father.

Following is the chart for Albert Einstein:

Let’s delineate the functional quality and strength of the planets in Einstein’s chart:

PlanetFunctional QualityFunctional Strength
SunMalefic (ruler of 3rd house)Neutral
MoonNeutral (rules of 2nd)Debilitated in Scorpio
MercuryBenefic (ruler of 1st)Debilitated in Pisces
VenusBenefic (ruler of 5th)Exalted in Pisces
MarsMalefic (ruler of 6th)
Slightly Malefic (ruler of 11th)
Exalted in Capricorn
JupiterNeutralNeutral
SaturnBenefic (ruler of 9th)
Malefic (ruler of 8th)
Neutral

Assessing the quality, strength, and significations of each planet is crucial to successfully interpret a Jyotish chart.

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