Book review: Essential Dignities

This is the second book wrote by Lee Lehman and presents in a very detailed manner the astrological dignities. It was published in 1989 by Whitford Press.

In Chapter 1 – Two Unsung Revolutions in Astrology the author explains how the Copernican Revolution changed the way astrologers understand dignities. At page 18 one can find a table with traditional and modern essential dignities.

Chapter 2 – Using Traditional Rulerships

Here you’ll find many practical examples of charts analyzed using traditional dignities. There are presented five countries (Confederate States of America, Italy, Iran, Switzerland, USSR), five corporations (General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Coca-Cola, Pepsi), five individuals (Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, Doyle Arthur, Niccolo Machiavelli, Mark Twain) and one horary chart.

Of course, it is always nice to see how the theory applies in practice, but I was expecting from these examples to emphasize the different results which appears when analyzing the charts with traditional and modern dignities. Unfortunately, this is not happening, the charts are analyzed using only traditional dignities.

In Chapter 3 – The Origin of Rulerships: A Botanical Interlude you can find out which planer or sign rules every planet. You’ll see that onion is ruled by Mars, beans by Venus, holly by Saturn etc. Also, there is a table with the medicinal uses of Jupiter– ruled plants. I didn’t test these, but it may be helpful.

Chapter 4 – Modern “Rulerships”: Do They Work?

The author is trying to prove that modern rulerships aren’t working well and to find arguments. She points out that:

“when modern astrologers discuss the modern rulerships the criterion appears to be: Which body (planet, asteroid or comet) has qualities which most resembles the sign in question?”

So, modern rulerships are assigned counting if a planet qualities are similar with the sign qualities and not looking at the planet strength in a sign. See another quotation:

“We haven’t any evidence that the ancients thought that Pisces and Jupiter were synonymous. It was a question of the strength of Jupiter in Pisces, not the similarity of Jupiter and Pisces.”

Now, I think the idea is pretty clear. I must say that I totally agree with this point of view.

Then the charts of Marie Curie, Jeddu Krishnamurti, Adolf Hitler and Death of Dracula are analyzed. This time, Lee Lehman makes an analogy between the charts interpretations with modern and traditional rulerships. The results are pretty good and the lecture enjoyable.

Only one problem, from my point of view. It is analyzed the chart “Death of Dracula”, where Lee writes things like: “I have been fascinated by charts of people who are, so to speak, energy sucks”, “Scorpio Sun (life of the vampire)”, etc. Hei, I am from Romania and I tell you there is no vampire. Dracula is just a myth assigned to a Romanian prince, Vlad III of Wallachia. It is true that he was cruel and liked to kill people by impaling them on a sharp pole, but everything else is imagination.

Chapter 5 – The Meaning of Each of the Essential Dignities

In this chapter you’ll find some general characteristics for the five essential dignities: ruler, exaltation, triplicity, term and face. At page 127 is a table with key words associated with these dignities. Starting from these key words Lee Lehman gives many descriptive explanations for dignities, but it just seems to much! There are the same things explained over and over again, it seemed pretty boring to me.

In Chapter 6 – A Statistical Interlude the author is trying to determine the influence of terms (both Chaldean and Egyptian) making a few tests. She selected a number of charts from different categories (suicide, scientist, sport champions) and counted the terms for each planet.

In the final, we can see that the planet that rules the category (for example, Mars for sport champions) obtained more points that usually, on a normal pattern. Even the results apparently validates the importance of terms I won’t give to much credit to such a test. Why? Because I don’t see terms so important to determine a person belong to a category or another. For example, more points in the term of Saturn won’t drive you to suicide because can be many other (not even major) aspects that can change this influence.

Probably, I just don’t believe terms are so important an if Lee Lehman is making those test it is clear that she also has doubts.

Chapter 7 – Detriment, Falls and Peregrines means several pages where you can find short descriptions for every planet detriment and fall.

In Chapter 8 – Conclusions there are the final words.


Conclusion. If I would have to say quickly, at my first impression, some words about this book I think would be: “too much noise for nothing”. But, then, if you think for a moment you realize that you can’t say “for nothing” because dignities are a very important part in astrology and one could write a whole interesting book about this subject.

So, back to my reasoning, why this impression? Why “too much noise for nothing?”.  Maybe, because this book presents shortly the five dignities associated with some main characteristics, ideas repeated in different chapters, but the rest of the book is somewhat near the subject.

You can read about history, botany, statistics, all connected with dignities, but the book doesn’t seem to touch the essential points. It is a surface play. It doesn’t have those clear, rational statements that gives you a better understanding of the subject.

If  a medium astrologer reads this book I don’t think will have much to learn and to integrate in his astrological system. Maybe I am a little too harsh, but it is my purpose here to criticize and to present a clear point of view about the astrological books I read. My evaluation is 6.