There is one sign in which a planet functions at its optimum, called its "exaltation". Except for Mercury, which both rules and is exalted in Virgo, this sign is different than the signs ruled by the planet. In Vedic astrology, there is a specific degree of exaltation, a point in the exaltation sign where the exaltation is highest. These points of exaltation are different for every planet. Planets occupying their degree of exaltation are preeminently strong. These positions are--the Sun 10 00 Aries, the Moon 03 00 Taurus, Mars 28 00 Capricorn, Mercury 15 00 Virgo, Jupiter 05 00 Cancer, Venus 27 00 Pisces, Saturn 20 00 Libra. Rahu and Ketu are sometimes given exaltation points as 20 00 Taurus and 20 00 Scorpio (hence when one is exalted so is the other). By the views of other Vedic astrologers Rahu and Ketu are both said to be exalted in Gemini and Virgo, the signs of Mercury.
Exaltation is an important factor in determining the strength of a planet and the favorability of its sign location. By some systems the strongest planet in the chart is the one closest to its degree of exaltation.
The sign opposite that of exaltation is referred to as the sign of a planet's "fall" also referred to as "debilitation". The degree opposite its degree of exaltation is its degree of its fall. Planets in their of fall are weak and can cause many difficulties.
Planetary debility can be cancelled out by special factors. A planet with its debility cancelled can give very good results, perhaps even better than exaltation.
The Sun in Libra with its debility cancelled can give a strong, self-confident and expressive character. The Moon in Scorpio with its debility cancelled can give a very deep understanding of the psyche and is common in spiritual teachers, occultists and psychologists. Mars in Cancer with its debility cancelled can give mastery over the feeling nature and the capacity for profound relationships. Mercury in Pisces with its debility cancelled can give a very profound intuitive mind and much insight. Jupiter in Capricorn with its debility cancelled can give great wealth, political power or the capacity to influence others. Venus in Virgo with its debility cancelled can give good artistic powers and charm. Saturn in Aries with its debility cancelled can give strong powers of leadership and strength of will.
The first of such cancellation factors is if the debilitated planet is located in an angle from the Ascendant or the Moon. The point of the Midheaven is often strongest in this regard. If Mercury is in Pisces but in the tenth house its debility is greatly reduced by its angular location.
A second factor is if the ruler of the sign in which a planet is debilitated is itself exalted. For example, if in a particular chart, the Moon is located in its fall in Scorpio, but Mars as ruler of Scorpio is located in its exaltation in Capricorn, this can cancel the debility of the Moon. To a lesser extent, if the ruler of the debilitated planet is strong or in its own sign, the debility can be reduced. For example, if the Moon is in Scorpio but Mars is in Aries, the strength of Mars in Aries would help counter the weakness of the Moon.
Another helpful factor can be if the debilitated planet has a planet exalted in one of the signs it rules. For example, if the Mars in a chart is in its debility in Cancer but the Sun is in its exaltation in Aries ruled by Mars, the strength of the Sun would reduce the weakness of Mars. A less important factor is if a debilitated planet is retrograde. Generally debility must be cancelled in at least two ways to be effectively countered.
On the other hand, the exaltation of a planet can be cancelled similarly to the debility. The exaltation can be cancelled if the planet is under malefic aspect, in difficult houses, or is the dispositor of malefic planets. Retrograde motion may reduce it as well. A planet in exaltation but neutralized gives very poor results. If in a particular chart, Saturn is debilitated in Aries, a sign ruled by Mars, but Mars is exalted in Capricorn, a sign ruled by Saturn, their effects would tend to neutralize each other, or the planet which is stronger in the chart would give more its results. This is because each planet would rule the sign of the other. If, however, the Moon is debilitated in Scorpio, a sign of Mars, but Mars is exalted in Capricorn, a sign of Saturn, the debility of the Moon would not taint Mars as Mars would be its ruler. The principle therefore is that the ruling planet or dispositor usually has more weight. Exaltation and debility are important but they are not absolute and must be looked at with discrimination.
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