On Almutens and Loss of Distinction
© 2011, Apr 10 Curtis Manwaring
One should keep in mind that the rulerships of given places are determined by politics and because of this each charts ruler(s) is likely to be different. In some charts the rulership over given place(s) will fall in the hands of a single powerful planet, other times the power is more evenly distributed. It all has to do with the heimarmene of a given individual (determining what is possible). But what is possible is not necessarily manifest...
There likely have been misunderstandings in the past that have contributed to our current perception of what the rulerships mean due to translation errors and transmission problems. Schmidt has pointed out a few of these... for instance one finds the word axiomaticos commonly in the CCAG Hellenistic era texts and among its meanings are "to deem or find worthy", "to seek, petition or to beg". Another construction is to claim or maintain something. Sometimes translated somewhat misleadingly as "self evident" which is the source of the word "axim".
Schmidt has said that because this word "axiomaticos" can refer to planets of the domicile, exaltation or confine, it was associated with those 3 in different senses; when it begs or petitions (axiomatic 1), this is the domicile relation, when it is providing evidence for itself (axiomatic 2) it is acting of the confines, when it finds worthy (axiomatic 3), it is of the exaltation. When this word was translated into Latin, it was translated as "dignified" which is the selection of one 1 of the 3 potential meanings and ignores the other meanings of the word which is why we have "essential dignities" in Medieval astrology texts and the idea of counting to measure a planet's worthiness of ruling a given place.
I differ with Schmidt on this issue that measuring this one sense is a mistake; it is an incomplete picture for sure, but because one of those 3 meanings is correct, the sense in which it is correct applies to the area in which Medieval astrologers have applied it. One needs to keep in mind that there are 2 other senses of the use of this word and by those 2 senses you can sharpen the meaning and application. The concept of an almuten for instance is an extension of the "worthiness" concept of "axiomaticos". There is also something known as an "almutem figuris" which is a summation of the "apples and oranges" of life which can also be seen to make a statement about the whole of ones life. For instance, if Saturn is almutem figuris, and it rules over several areas of the chart, but maybe Venus sticks out in the area of the 4th house, can one not say that on the whole that Saturn is a predominant theme? There comes a point that even though you want sharp distinctions for each area of life, if many of those areas are dominated by one planet, the life on the whole carries the taint of that planet.
Now as to houses and the trend toward the use of whole sign... I'd like to point out that Valens said that when the midheaven falls in a given sign, that sign also participates (here's the politics again) in the determination of "praxis" which is a 10th house issue. Even if it is found in the 11th, 9th, 8th, 12th, etc (whole sign). We cannot completely separate this issue of houses into one vs the other because there are 2 levels that the houses operate on and Schmidt has said they have to do with the 2 senses of the meaning of the kentra / pivots (angles). One meaning of the "kentron" is a "center of activity" around which something centers such as in a marketplace (agora). An open area where business takes place. The whole sign angles represent these "centers" where business is conducted. But the other meaning of "kentron" is to goad or prod something into action so while something may be a center of activity such as the local mall, there are times when the mall is shut down and the real activity is elsewhere. So there is meaning and then application of meaning. The meanings are attributed to whole signs, but the angles (goads) show you what is most active and you are supposed to blend according to the testimonies as Valens says.
Because position is more powerful than rulership, each chart is going to have different rulers for the given signs and there is heirarchy in rulerships just as there is in politics. Therefore it is an oversimplification to just give the rulership of a given house to the sign (or domicile ruler). There are times when the exaltation ruler (etc) may have more power over a given place.
There is an instance in Valens where he calls the Moon the "lady of Taurus" not saying why with the Moon in Aquarius and Venus in Aries. Antiochus says that if the domicile lord is in aversion that the exaltation lord will take over if it can witness the place and that appears to be the case from the Valens example because Venus is in aversion. There is also something known as the "joint domicile master" which is the precursor to the trigon lords as we know them from Dorotheus. Antiochus simply took the domicile lord in trine(s) to the place in question if neither the domicile lord or exaltation lord could represent a place (topic) and if the 2 planets were of opposing sects, the one of the sect was favored. If after going down the list, no planet will take up the affairs of the house, this maltreats the place. You see similar logic for finding the financial or professional significator in Bonatti, with a long list of things to look at and as you go down each item in the list and they fail, it is an indication of poor condition (esse) for that subject matter.
It is a matter of politics (sect) as to which wins the right to represent the affairs of a given place and just as people will do anything to obtain power, so too the planets are said to make excuses using any technique possible to obtain power, be it sect status, witnessing, being in their own places, places of a sect mate, spear bearing, bargaining off one place in favor of control of another, etc...