Detriment

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Detriment

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The term detriment is part of a traditional way of classifying certain sign placements of planets. A planet is said to be in its dignity when it is in the sign it rules (e.g., Mars in Aries, the Sun in Leo, etc.). There are also certain placements said to be especially favorable for a planet that are traditionally termed exaltations (to continue with the foregoing example, Mars in Capricorn, the Sun in Aries). When a planet is placed in the sign opposite its exaltation, it is said to be in its fall (Mars in Cancer, the Sun in Libra). A planet is said to be in its detriment when placed in the sign opposite the sign that it rules (Mars in Libra, the Sun in Aquarius). For example, because Venus rules Taurus, this planet is in detriment when placed in the sign Scorpio. As the name implies, being in detriment is regarded as an unfortunate placement. A planet in its detriment is traditionally regarded as being out of harmony with the sign and consequently weakened (in a position of debility).

For the most part, contemporary Western astrological research has tended to disconfirm that a planet in its traditional detriment is weakened, particularly in a natal chart. However, it is sometimes the case that planets in detriment have unfortunate effects. In the example cited, Venus, as the planet of love, harmony, and relationships is not well placed (especially in a natal chart) in Scorpio, a sign noted for jealously, possessiveness, and sexual obsession. There are, nevertheless, certain obvious problems with this traditional understanding. The Sun, for example, rules Leo, the sign opposite Aquarius. This means that the one out of 12 people in the world born with an Aquarius sun sign have their sun in the sign of its detriment. This particular placement is not normally regarded as being unfortunate, however, making detriment appear inapplicable in this case. More generally, all of the traditional detriments should be regarded with caution, used when relevant to a particular individual’s chart and rejected when not.

The situation is different in horary astrology, where the classical detriments have a negative bearing on the question being asked. Vedic astrology also makes extensive use of the traditional classification of planets in their signs of exaltation and fall, but not detriment in the Western sense of that term.

Sources:

Brau, Jean-Louis, Helen Weaver, and Allan Edmands. Larousse Encyclopedia of Astrology. New York: New American Library, 1980.
DeVore, Nicholas. Encyclopedia of Astrology. New York: Philosophical Library, 1947.
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