Understanding Dispositors

My article on the Moon and its relation to the Nodes (The Hungry Moon: the Nodes Part One) prompted some questions about dispositors. There was confusion about the way they operate and how they are different from aspects to planets, and rulers of houses. Part of the problem is in the language; we tend to forget and call the dispositors of a planet the ‘ruler’ of that planet, which is just sloppy terminology, and one I’ve often been guilty of. A dispositor doesn’t rule. A dispositor receives.

First of all, let me say that the first thing anyone needs in learning astrology is a thorough understanding of the houses, on all their levels of manifestation. I’ve said this before and I will keep on saying it. This is particularly important in understanding the relationship between planets and their dispositors.

Aspects to a planet describe the kind and type of activities that will cause that planet to develop. If our ultimate goal is to better ourselves, to raise our consciousness to a higher form of expression, then the aspects will show us how to do that. (The lights behave differently in aspect from the planets, but we will get to that another day.) They put pressure on the planet to evolve. The aspects are continually ‘teaching’ the planet, whether drumming in lessons or offering information. The types of aspect will show the ease or difficulty in processing the new expression. Our inclination (via the Moon) is to cling to the old, the familiar. Our aspects push us, gently or forcefully, to new and often uncomfortable places. This is how we learn, how we change.

So how does the dispositor of a planet or light fit in?

All of this activity, all of this new energy, has to have a focus, a pulling point. If the aspects are ‘squeezing’ the planet, the energy of that developing planet has to go somewhere. It has to spill out, play out someplace. This is where the dispositor of a planet kicks in. The dispositor of a planet will receive that planet’s newly forming energy and test it out, use it within the house it finds itself in. The planet has an indirect, but important, influence on the dispositor’s house.

Say you have the Moon conjunct Uranus in Leo in the 11th house. The Moon/Uranus conjunction will cause incidents of enforced change and sudden removal that will alter the Moon’s comfort zones, both mentally and physically. Moon/Uranus has to learn to get comfortable with change. The dispositor of both of these planets will be the Sun. If the Sun is in the seventh house, the change that the Moon has had to endure and learn from will directly affect the 7th house Sun–a change in the way we relate to others on a one to one basis and the experiences that the Sun creates in that house. The 11th house conjunction will describe the general area of the changes the Moon will experience (changes of friends, isolation from groups or societies, being alienated from group creativity) but the dispositor will reflect the results of those changes. As a result of the 11th house experiences, there is an effect in the 7th. (This gets interesting when there are two different dispositors for an out of sign conjunction. If these dispositors are in aspect, you have a key to the nature of the conjunction and the relative ease or difficulty with which it will manifest itself. It becomes highlighted. Note the Moon/Mars conjunction in Tony Perkins’ chart, in which Mars is dominant in it’s own sign and inconjunct a prominent Neptune, which disposits the Moon and the North Node; possibly the most important single aspect in the chart, indicating a major life theme.)

When considering dispositors, it’s best to first focus on each planet separately, all of the aspects to that planet, and ask how that planet is developing; the dispositor will show you were the developing energy of the planet will spill. If a number of planets have the same dispositor, or the dispositors of a number of planets fall into one house, the emphasis should be noted. It will give more information to the meanings of the planets in those houses.

This isn’t to be confused with house rulership. House rulers are like the landlords –it doesn’t matter where they are in the chart, they still own the house. Anything that effects them will have an echo in the house that they rule. This is particularly true with transits and progressions. The immediate impact is in the house the planet finds itself in, but the secondary influence will effect the house it rules. If I have transiting Pluto in the 10th opposite natal Venus in the 4th, this transformative experience may effect both my home life and my career, but will also reflect strongly in whatever houses Venus and Pluto rule. If we understand this, transiting and progressed aspects will start to make sense, and feel less random. Likewise, if we understand dispositors, we will know better what changes are required of us.


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