Note: [August 2012] Having changed 8 months ago to a tropical perspective on the Zodiac signs I have come to feel that Cancellation of Debilitation is an unnecessary complication. Merely by using “subdivisional dignity” (varga vimshopaka) one can easily see that debilitated planets might be at a degree that gives them great dignity through the subdivisions, and this is a much simpler and more straightforward explanation of why debilitated planets often do not give debilitated effects (and similarly for exalted planets)
Still, this article was interesting and is popular on the blog – so I’ll leave it online for posterity.
In life, when we are weak in some area, sometimes that weakness causes us to develop great strength in other areas to compensate, or it may even cause us to work on our weakness in such a way that they become very great strengths.
In astrology, a “weakness” is generally seen as a debilitated planet – that is a planet in your birth chart which is in it’s weakest sign, it’s sign of “debilitation.” We can also see the extent to which a person can compensate for or rise above this weakness by seeing the extent to which a debilitated planet in the birth chart is involved in a condition called neecha-bhanga which is popularly sort of mistranslated as “Cancellation of Debilitation.”
It is really not a “cancellation” but a “modification.” But anyway, let’s continue.
For a debilitated planet to have this positive trait – the ability to be compensated for or risen above – there have to be special conditions in the birth chart pertaining to the planet. Basically there has to be a planet who is capable of helping the debilitated planet, and who is in a strong position in the birth chart.
Let’s go with a concrete example.
Take Jupiter. Jupiter is weakest (becomes “debilitated”) in Capricorn. So let’s say you have a chart where Jupiter is in Capricorn and thus represents a weakness for the person.
There are a few planets who are capable of helping Jupiter compensate for or even totally rise above the weakness he represents as a result of his debilitation.
- Himself. Jupiter could potentially help himself.
- Saturn. Because Saturn owns Capricorn, where Jupiter is debilitated.
- The Moon. Because the Moon owns Cancer, where Jupiter is exalted.
- Mars. Because Mars becomes exalted in Capricorn.
Fight Fire With Fire
Jupiter can help himself only if he has internal strength. This is just how it is. If you have a big weakness in your life, sometimes you can help yourself rise above it, but you need to have a lot of internal strength to do so without external help. In astrology the “internal strength” of a planet is shown by the sign it occupies in the harmonic divisions of the zodiac. The 9th division (the navamsha) is the most influential of all these. So if a debilitated planet is exalted in the navamsha it has inner strength dispite its outer weakness.
So for example, if Jupiter is in the Cancer navamsha area of Capricorn (around 20-23º of Capricorn) then you can safety predict that the person whose chart you are looking at will be able to rise above their Jupiter weakness (or at least well compensate for it) by their own internal Jupiterian virtues.
Besides this, we can also rise above our shortcomings by compensating for them with our strengths, and by applying our strengths to improve our weaknesses! This is reflected by the following guidelines about who can help a debilitated planet:
(1) Saturn can help a debilitated Jupiter, because Saturn owns Capricorn, wherein Jupiter falls to debilitation. To abstract this principle one step: The planet who owns the sign causing another planet to be debilitated is one of the planets who has the potential to help the debilitated planet rise above.
When this happens, a person gets power to rise above their weakness as a result of coming to deeply understand the weakness itself.
Compensate with your Strength
(2) The Moon can help a debilitated Jupiter, because the Moon owns Cancer, wherein Jupiter rises to exaltation. So whenever a planet is debilitated, the planet who owns the sign in which that planet would be exalted is another force which can help the debilitated planet overcome its challenges and weaknesses.
When this is the case in a chart, the person can overcome their weakness by relying on their strengths.
Learn from Experts
(3) Mars can help a debilitated Jupiter, because Mars becomes exalted in Capricorn, where Jupiter falls to debility. Thus, if you have a planet debilitated, look to the planet who would be exalted in that sign as a source of help.
When this occurs in a chart, a person possesses the potential to improve themselves by getting help from people who are strong in the area that they are weak in.
The above mentioned planets can help only if they are placed in an angular house from the ascendant or the Moon. Houses 1, 4, 7, and 10 are the angular houses.
Up to here I have given you the basics. Know that there are other ways that debilitation can be modified, I have given you the most powerful and important four. And so far I have only explained it in theory. Now let me show you an actual horoscope example.
In this chart Saturn is in Aries. This means that Saturn is debilitated. Aries is the 4th House of this chart. So one can make a quick and superficial (but generally valid) estimation that this person has a weakspot in his life regarding feeling internally content (a 4th House issue) because of having a very deep need for emotional consolation. There are other issues here too, but lets just stick to that one for the sake of this article and topic.
Now, look carefully at Saturn to see what opportunities this person has for rising above this weakness:
- His specific location in Aries (28º) puts him in Sagittarius navamsha, so he does not really have the inner strength to overcome all on his own.
- Mars is the planet who owns Aries, so Mars is a candidate to help. Next you must look at Mars to see if he is in a location where he can accept that candidacy. In fact Mars is in the 7th House (Cancer) – which is angular to the Ascendant so Mars will be a factor this person can utilize to overcome his Saturn weakness.
- Venus is the planet who owns Libra, which is the sign where Saturn becomes exalted. In this chart Venus is in the 8th house (Leo), which is not angular to the ascendant, but is angular to the Moon. This chart has the Moon in Taurus, so Taurus is the “Moon’s First House” – and Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius are, respectively, the “Moon’s angular houses” 4, 7 and 10. So since Venus is in Leo, she is in a position to help the person overcome his Saturn weakness.
- The Sun is the planet who would be exalted in Aries, where Saturn is debilitated. So the Sun is another candidate. Sure enough, the Sun can accept this role, because he is in an angle to the Ascendant, being in Cancer, the 7th House.
So we have found that this person has a lot of opportunity to significantly and powerfully rise above and surmount the problems and challenges posed by Saturn – because they have not just one but three out of the four possible sources of help open to them.
Mars and the Sun are in angles to the Ascendant so they will help in a practical fashion. While Venus is in an angle to the Moon so she will help in a more subjective and emotional fashion.
The Help From Venus
Since we selected the lack of internal contentment as the thing about Saturn debilitated in the fourth house which we would focus on – then factor of Venus being in the Moon’s angle (4th house, actually!) is the most relevant of the three factors that help this person’s Saturn.
For one thing it shows that art, beauty, and women (all the basic significations of Venus) comfort the person greatly. And the person can utilize these to rise above the challenge of lack of inner content. Art, beauty, peace, intimacy, and women will provide the outlet and inspiration for this person to turn his Saturnian weaknesses into actual great strengths and excellent, outstanding features in his life.
The fact that Venus is in the 8th House with Ketu shows that spirituality and occult things will be superexcellent factors allowing to find inner contentment and satisfaction which would have certainly eluded him and proven a downfall if he did not avail himself of their wonders.
That Venus is with Mercury shows that music is not just helpful to listen to but is helpful to create. Along with music, all forms of creative communication including writing are causes of great inner contentment which propel this person to take something which starts as a “weakness” and in reality turns out to be a fantastic strength.
The Help From Mars and the Sun
Then we have the Sun and Mars in the angle from the Ascendant. This shows that although the native by nature is somber and prone to be quiet and appear morose, the fact is that he is very brave in all practical settings and has no fears in relating to people in all sorts of ways. This quality of being unafraid to meet new people and experience new things is what turns the weakness of inner discontent into a strength, propelling him to interact with hundreds and thousands of new people in ways which cause inner fulfillment.
If you are sort of slick, or familiar with Astrology you might notice that Mars is also debilitated in this chart. But you can apply these same rules to Mars!
Jupiter would be exalted in Cancer, where Mars is Debilitated, and Jupiter is in an angle to the Ascendant (and not to mention is also aspecting the other debilitated planet, Saturn). This shows that religion and philosophy are really at the root of what makes this person “tick” the way he ticks and gives him to power to excel in the ways and areas in which he has unusually excelled.
Saturn is the owner of the sign that exalts Mars (Capricorn)… and look, Saturn is also in an angle to the Ascendant! This chart is getting much more interesting!!! Saturn is debilitated, but Mars helps Saturn out of this debilitation. Yet Mars himself is debilitated – and it is Saturn who is helping Mars out of his debilitation! This is a sort of “mutual exchange” forming a strong yoga (combination) between these two planet’s (Saturn and Mars) and the houses they occupy (4 and 7).
So this particular chart is really a good example for illustrating how “Cancellation of Debilitation” actually works.
You may start out in life with something that sort of “sucks” but if you review your resources astrologically you will find whatever opportunities you may have to use those “sucky things” and turn them around from weaknesses into strengths!
This is what the principle of neecha-bhanga (Cancellation of Debilitation) is all about!
October 2012: The world at large seems to really love this article. It is practically the most popular article on my blog. I’m happy about that, but also a little bit unhappy. Why? Because I’ve realized that Cancellation of Debilitation is just an unnecessarily sloppy, longwinded, complicated can of worms, but nobody seems to care. Everyone is very interested in Cancellation of Debilitation (“neech-bhanga”). I don’t know if anyone even hears me say, “It’s too complicated. You will get much better results just doing things right from the ground up.”
What do I mean “do things right”?
First of all it means to favor the principles described in classics over the principles not described there. Particularly, if you take the principle of “Varga Vimshopaka” into account, you never have to worry about a checklist of rules for cancelling debilitation again.”
Secondly, define the zodiac itself correctly!
In closing I want to say that people love to wrestle with a zillion specific questions. what if, what if, what if…
Do you want to try to define every possible color in the infinite spectrum??? It is better to understand red, blue and yellow, and understand how to combine them to produce any particular color as the need arises. Similarly Its better to understand the fundamental principles of astrology clearly and learn how to apply them, rather than asking very specific questions and looking for very specific answers.
– Vic DiCara