Planetary Dispositors

Planetray Dispositors

Master’s Musings, November 2023

Planetary Dispositors



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Master's Musings

NOTE FROM STEVE . . . A few weeks back, Catie shared with me that Cliff Passen had wondered why we never covered the question of planetary dispositors in our FCEA program. As I thought about it, I decided it merited a short handout in our 101 course. As I got into writing it, I realized that dispositors were a richer topic than I had anticipated. Since so many of you are beyond FCEA101 at this point, I’ve decided to let the handout be my column this month so everyone can have a look at it.

From time to time in your astrological reading, you will run into the word “dispositor.” It’s a fancy term for a simple idea – one that’s based directly on the principle of planetary rulership. Say Mercury is in Aries. Since Mars is the ruler of Aries, we would then say that Mars disposits Mercury or that Mars was Mercury’s dispositor. In a nutshell, a planet’s dispositor is the planet that rules the sign the planet happens to be in.

If you think about that for a moment, one further point immediately becomes clear: when a planet is in the sign it rules, nothing can disposit it.

Otherwise all planets have dispositors.

In our evolutionary system we recognize dual rulerships. That means that any planet that’s in Pisces has two dispositors: Jupiter and Neptune. Ditto naturally for planets in Aquarius and Scorpio.

Technically, that’s the basic idea of dispositors right there. Pretty simple really. Let’s talk about what it means.

Basically a planet’s dispositor has a certain degree of influence over it. Understanding the exact nature of that influence can add some helpful nuances to our grasp of the disposited planet’s function – but do keep perspective: understanding the impact of a planetary dispositor is secondary in importance to its basic sign, house, and aspects. Saying that the dispositor “rules over” the planet that it disposits pushes the idea too far. As ever, the dominator tone of the word “rulership” is a medieval hangover that always tends to take astrologers down the wrong road. Rulership is really about resonance, common ground, and mutual influence.

In practice, the dispositor represents a trio of interlocking influence over the expression of the planet which it disposits.

Relative to the disposited planet, the dispositor wields three pressures:

  • It represents a Guiding or Governing Principle
  • It represents an Overriding Concern
  • It represents a Constraining Limitation

Consider the chart of Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. We start with something that should be no surprise for a performer of his renown and durability – he has both Venus and Neptune in his 5th house. Both planets are in Virgo, so their dispositor is Mercury, which we find in Leo and in Jagger’s 4th house. Without going deeply into his chart, let’s see how our basic principles apply to him.

Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones

Like the 5th house, Leo relates to performance – once again, that’s no surprise. It’s where the 4th house placement of his Mercury enters the picture that everything gets interesting and we really begin to see the signature of a planetary dispositor. The 4th house is deep, internal, and hidden. Those are not the first words to enter our minds when we think of Mick Jagger strutting on the stage!

  • But reflect for a moment: is the “sex machine” we see fronting the band the real Mick? Of course not – it’s a performance, quite literally. It is a persona that he has adopted in pursuit of his craft.

I once heard a cute quote from one of Mick Jagger’s daughters when she was young – “Everybody thinks my father is the devil and he lets them think that.” She obviously “had his number” – but probably that was because he had given it to her in the intimate domestic context of 4th house privacy, trust, and confidentiality.

  • Applying our principles regarding the dispositor, we can see that throughout Mick Jagger’s long career, A Guiding or Governing Principle has been to stick unwaveringly to the public image he created.
  • Meanwhile, An Overriding Concern and A Constraining Limitation in his life has been to keep his real self buried in the 4th house, at least in terms of his public identity as a performer.

As a footnote, presumably doing all that has kept him living in something pretty close to a literal palace – that’s a Leo/4th house signature too, and it brings us closer to conventional astrology.

By the way, it is mission-critical for us as astrological counselors to remember that none of this is intended to be critical of Mr. Jagger. It’s just how a dispositor works. His chart is his path, just like yours. He’s followed it – and in this case it appears that he’s done it very well. How many men over the age of eighty can convince the world that they’re still dangerous sex machines?

Sometimes one planet disposits all the rest of the planets in a chart. For that to even be a possibility, two conditions have to be met. First, there has to be a planet in the sign it rules. Second, there can be no other planets in the signs they rule. If those two conditions are met, there is a chance that the single planet occupying its own sign might be the final dispositor of the chart. To find out, you have to follow the chains of rulership and see if they all lead back to that first planet.

Here’s an example of what that looks like – and note the “dispositor tree” on the right side. That shows these lines of power and how they all trace back, in this case, to the Sun.

  • The Sun is in Leo, the sign it rules.
  • No other planet is in that “dignified” condition.
  • The Sun disposits Mercury, which through Virgo, disposits Venus, Pluto, and Uranus. Through Gemini, that same Mercury disposits Jupiter.
  • Venus disposits Mars and Uranus disposits the Moon, while Pluto disposits Neptune – which finally disposits Saturn. That’s everything.

Without knowing about dispositors, we would have no trouble respecting the strength of a Leo Sun in the 10th house! But now we see that reality spelled out even more clearly – how the pressures and possibilities of a Leo “mission” in the world completely “govern, override, and constrain” this person’s life.

Most charts don’t have final dispositors like this, but you’ll often find a long chain that leads back to one single planet. Look at the realities of the person’s life, and you’ll see an elevated level of influence wielded by that planet. Once again, it “governs, guides, and constrains” almost everything – at least almost everything in the realm of the planets it disposits.

As I mentioned, we’ve placed a similar version of this essay as a handout in FCEA101 – very early in our school curriculum, in other words. All in all, it feels right to do that. Dispositors are an elemental piece of astrological theory, one that’s inseparable ultimately from the whole idea of rulership. It feels right that we introduce the word pretty much from the beginning of a person’s astrological studies. My only hesitation is about overloading our 101 students with too many technicalities, especially ones that might not deserve to be up there on equal footing with the foundational basics of signs, planets, houses, and aspects.

The bottom line is that knowing about dispositors is something we should probably hear about in the 3rd grade – but then revisit when we get to college.

Steven Forrest
November 2023


Photo Credit: Jerzy Bednarski, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tending to Wisdom’s Sacred Flame

Tending to Wisdom’s Sacred Flame

Dean’s Update, November 2023

Tending to Wisdom’s Sacred Flame

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Dean's Update
Greetings, FCEA community! The holidays are here and solstice is almost upon us. 2024 is just around the corner. We are excited for a new year of growth and expansion of the FCEA program in the year ahead. I feel so blessed to have all of you as my friends and colleagues. What a pleasure to work each day with fellow passionate evolutionary astrologers, learning and practicing Steven’s methods and sharing wisdom. 
Next year, we will see our very first graduating class finish their studies and receive master certification. Congratulations for all your hard work, master practicum students! It has been a pleasure to join you in your educational journey these past three years. I learned so much from you every step of the way! I am confident your skills and gifts as evolutionary astrologers will help many souls discover the fine nuances of their birthchart and that you will offer precious words of counsel in the years ahead.
We are excited to open FCEA 401: Sacred Counsel in January. This counseling course will complete the FCEA degree program, providing critical assistance in perhaps the most important aspects of our jobs as evolutionary astrologers. How best do we work one-on-one with clients, how do we lay the foundation for a strong rapport and how do we resolve potential conflicts or wrestle with obstacles inevitable in the counseling room? How do we best honor diversity, recognize and respect each individual coming to us for guidance? And then how do we care for ourselves while doing this critical work of service? We developed a series of modules to help you reflect upon these important topics. We see FCEA 401 as a final step, an essential one, in bringing the FCEA educational journey to certification to completion. 
Hold tight! More 400-level classes addressing various advanced topics will be available in the near future as course electives as well. We have been growing slowly with care under Saturn’s practical limits (the ringed planet is in the FCEA’s 10th house by transit as I write, soon to enter the 11th next year), while we plan for Jupiter crossing the school’s ascendant in late May.

As we grow in size, Steven and I have high hopes for expanding the richness and diversity of course offerings in the year ahead. The journey continues. We are excited! We hope you are too.


As the year comes to a close, I have one sad announcement. After two years of work with us, Tutor Bryan Colter will be leaving us in order to pursue some of his own independent projects as an evolutionary astrologer. Bryan has played a critical role as tutor and mentor for our 300-level students, leading a much-loved Saturday Zoom class. Bryan has been so committed and supportive of our whole community, gracing us with his wisdom, kindness and love. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors! Thank you, Bryan, for all your hard work and talents. We will miss you so much.


We close down the FCEA doors for the holiday season from December 1st through January 10th. Last study group call is November 21st. Registration is still open during the holiday break and self-paced courses remain in full swing.
Before I end, let me share with you our excitement over our upcoming Holiday Celebration on November 30th at 5:00 pm Pacific time. Steven will address the upcoming Jupiter and Uranus conjunction in Taurus next spring. Such a rich topic! How do we have faith and hope in 2024 and yet contemplate the Uranian surprises undoubtedly in the works for all of us? We will open the conversation up for questions and sharing in a holiday spirit of love and community. Please join us! Happy Holidays to all!
Catie Cadge, PhD
November 2023