Among the greatest misconceptions in astrology is the exaltation of rules above principles, because it is all too easy to forget that the rules are derived from observed principles, not the other way around. The astrologer that comprehends the principle that underpins the rule is then able to discard the rule-bound logic of the mind, and enter into a dialogue with the illimitable.
I talk a great deal about peregrination, and I receive emails on that subject telling me that I have misunderstood the rule of peregrination completely, with perhaps some explanatory text concerning Ptolemy and his great treatise. There are of course peregrine degrees in the zodiac but broadly, peregrination is used traditionally to denote a state of essential debility. I use the term essential in its truest sense, to express a profound, integral quality; thus the essential debility of Saturn in Aries is based upon the fact that natives with this placement struggle at a fundamental level to promote self-reliance, independence and courage in their lives, most especially in the affairs of that house where it is placed.
Technically the definition of Peregrine degrees is derived from Lilly:
A Planet is then said to be Peregrine, when he is in the degrees of any Sign wherein he hath no essential dignity, As Saturn in the tenth degree of Aries, that Sign being not his House, Exaltation, or of his Triplicity, or he having in that degree neither Term or Face, he is then said to be Peregrine; had he been in 27, 28, &c. of Aries, he could not be termed Peregrine, because then he is in his own Term. (Lilly, CA, p.112).
Thus peregrination of Saturn at about 9 degrees of Aries is so utterly undignified that it really has no power to express itself. Now here is the nub, because it is not the degree that is important, but the experiential, subjective result of that placement: thus the key observation is not that this or that degree is the purpose of this rule, but that the inability to express that planet’s energy is.
Now if we go back to first principles, if we force a child to wear lead boots (or callipers even) for its entire childhood there is little doubt that the unfortunate is going to struggle. He or she will not be able to run as fast as the other children, he or she will probably be considered slow, ungainly and will thus be less-favoured by their peers and by the world in general. There is every possibility then that this child will at some level develop a deep insecurity about their abilities, and may go throught their entire life feeling like something of a failure and never achieving much.
This is the exact principle behind the rule of planetary debility, but of course in this case the lead boots are actually irrelevant, it is the effect of those lead boots that we should be concerned with. Now imagine that this child rails against their status as the weakling and decides to try and run as fast as the other children despite his or her lead boots, what does this posit? There is a chance (and whilst it may be a small chance it is a chance nonetheless) that the child’s legs will grow strong, far stronger than they would otherwise be, and so they find that one bright morning they can keep up with the other children with their lead boots on! Now we find that this child – as a direct result of this ‘debility’ – has managed to grow comparatively much stronger than those not so debilitated by lead boots.
This then is the principle that underpins the idea of peregrination and it is a very simple and acceptable principle too: through adversity, people grow stronger.
Now, let us broaden that principle, not the rule! Only the principle. If peregrination is nothing more than a pair of lead boots then any other style of lead boot is going to have the exact same effect. It doesn’t actually matter if our lead boots are winkle-pickers or if they are lead-slippers! Thus, if a planet is unaspected, by dint of the difficulty that the native experiences in expressing that energy due to its non-integration with his broader nativity, there will be some requirement to work especially hard with that debility.
Peregrine is derived from a word meaning, outcast, foreigner, it describes a wanderer far from home, a feral power, behind enemy lines that – if it is to survive – must often develop unique and ingenious methods or otherwise continue to suffer the taunts and rejection of their peers for being so hopelessly slow and deficient. It does not matter how that planet is thus peregrinated. It might be by being placed in no sympathetic context through house, exaltation or triplicity, or it might equally be through being unaspected, a singleton, at the apex of a Yod and tee-square at the same time, or any other of a number of peregrinating factors that force the soul within to evolve or be crushed by the burden.
In this way, it is important to see how we must, as astrologers, not simply sit and bemoan all of those lead boots that our clients are forced to wear, but instead we must marvel at the opportunity they have to develop such awesomely powerful legs!
Consider some examples: what do Pamela Anderson and Cat Stevens have in common? They both have Sun, Moon, Mercury and Venus in peregrine (traditional, by Lilly). What do the Queen and Tom Hanks share in common? Both Moon and Mercury are peregrine (by lack of aspect). All four of these people have a real debility where their Moon and Mercury placements are concerned, they have lead boots on their emotional, self nurturing and self-expressive faculties. Now consider Tom Hanks and Pamela Anderson; which of these two has developed the “stronger legs” when it comes to matters of emotional expression? Unaspected peregrination is arguably more debilitating than the traditional even, them there lead boots sure is heavy.