Of Exaltations, Tetrabiblos by Ptolemy

When I studied Exaltation and Fall in the books, the concept and reason were unclear comparing to Domicile (Ruler) and Detriment. Later on, I found the descriptions on Tetrabiblos by Ptolemy; however, his explanation was too simple to capture the whole picture. In this article, for Japanese readers, I explain the reasons behind Exaltation and Fall by sharing the seasonal figures, and the directions assigned to each zodiacal sign.

The locations of the Exaltation are based upon the turning point of each season in the northern hemisphere. It is like the timing when the power increases most at the turn of time. For example, the moment you turn on the car’s ignition, the moment the water spouts out of the faucet, and the first movement of martial arts. Exaltation resembles the moment that power reaches the climax to begin an action.

The Four Seasons and Exaltations

The Sun and Saturn
The daylight hours will be longer from the vernal equinox, which is the first day of Aries. In other words, it is the beginning of the power of the Sun increases. So the Sun is exalted in Aries.
On the other hand, Saturn’s Exaltation sign is Libra, which is a period starting from the autumnal equinox. The length of the day begins to reduce from this day. For the Sun, it’s a Fall sign while the strength of Saturn, which represents cold, increases from the autumnal equinox. The temperature begins to drop and heads for winter.

The Moon
The description of the Moon is unique. We take the Moon with the Sun conjointly. Ptolemy begins his explanation with a conjunction of the Sun and the Moon in Aries. Of course, it is the new Moon when she conjuncts with the Sun. What is the time when the Moon gains power? It is when she increases her light. Therefore, the next sign of Aries, Taurus is the sign where she is exalted.

In Ptolemy’s guide, Jupiter appears as a bringer of the fecund north winds to Cancer. The beginning day of Cancer is the summer solstice. The Sun reaches just above the tropic of Cancer, and the shadows get to shorten the most in the year at noon. It is the day when the altitude of the Sun is highest in the northern hemisphere.

The nature of Mars, fire, becomes stronger at the Capricorn which the sign indicates South. The first day of Capricorn is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. However, at the same time, from this day, the daylight hours extend up until the summer solstice. It is the beginning of fire nature.

Contrary to Mars, Venus is moist by nature. So she exalts at Pisces that represents the arrival of spring. “The beginning of the moist spring,” says Ptolemy. Venus represents the beginning of the season that brings life to nature. On the other hand, she Falls at Virgo, where it is the arrival of autumn, which brings dryness to the environment.
There is no difference in all ages and countries to sing the arrival of fresh spring, like Japanese poet Shikinomiko, AD 700, illustrated as follows.

The waterfall is falling rapidly on the rock
Bracken sprouts on the side of it
Spring has finally come

Ishi hashiru
moeizuru haruni
narinikeru kamo

Opposite to Venus, Mercury, which has an airly nature, is exalted in Virgo, which is the beginning of dry autumn. So Mercury and Venus have their exaltation signs opposite.

Of Exaltations (BOOK I)

The so-called exaltations of the planets have the following explanation.

Since the sun, when he is in Aries, is making his transition to the northern and higher semicircle, and in Libra is passing into the southern and lower One, they have fittingly assigned Aries to him as his exaltation since there the length of the day and the heating power of his nature begin to increase, and Libra as his depression for the opposite reasons.

Saturn again, in order to have a position opposite to the sun, as also in the matter of their houses, look, contrariwise, Libra as his exaltation and Aries as his depression. For where heat increases there cold diminishes, and where the former diminishes cold on the contrary increases.

And since the moon, coming to conjunction in the exaltation of the sun, in Aries, shows her first phase and begins to increase her light and, as it were, her height, in the first sign of her own triangle, Taurus, this was called her exaltation, and the diametrically opposite sign, Scorpio, her depression.

Then Jupiter, which produces the fecund north winds, reaches farthest north in Cancer and brings his own power to fullness; they, therefore, made this sign his exaltation and Capricorn his depression.

Mars, which by nature is fiery and becomes all the more so in Capricorn because in it he is farthest south, naturally received Capricorn as his exaltation. in contrast to Jupiter, and Cancer as his depression.

Venus, however, she is moist by nature and increases her own proper power all the more in Pisces, where the beginning of the moist spring is indicated. has her exaltation in Pisces and her depression in Virgo.

Mercury, on the contrary, since he is airier, by contrast naturally is exalted, as it were, in Virgo, in which the dry autumn is signified, and is depressed in Pisces.

Ptolemy, Claudius. TETRABIBLOS. Of Exaltations, Kindle version, translated by Ashmand, J.M., edited by Curtin, D.P., Dalcassian Publishing Co, 2018, Location 352/1863




The Four Seasons and Exaltations



木星は「豊穣の北風」と表現され、その風は豊穣サイン「かに座」に到達し高揚を導きます。そして「かに座」の起点は夏至。太陽が北回帰線上の真上に達し、北回帰線が通る場所(台湾など)で正午に影が消える日です。北半球では最も太陽の高度が高くなる日です。北回帰線は英語で「The Tropic of Cancer」、これは勿論かに座に由来します。

南回帰線は「The Tropic of Capricorn」、やぎ座に由来します。


瑞々しい春の到来を歌うのは古今東西変わらず、志貴皇子(しきのみこ 700年頃)はその様子をこう描いています


〜 滝が岩の上を勢いよくほとばしり落ちている、その滝のほとりにワラビが芽を出す春がようやくきた 〜


方角とサイン(ウィリアム・リリー,CA, p204)

以下「テトラビブロス」より、「BOOK I エグザルテーションについて」の翻訳です。

エグザルテーションについて (BOOK I)









Ptolemy, Claudius. TETRABIBLOS.「テトラビブロス」 Of Exaltations, Kindle version, translated by Ashmand, J.M., edited by Curtin, D.P., Dalcassian Publishing Co, 2018, Location 352/1863

※ Translated by astrogrammar

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