Receptions are one of the more misunderstood aspects of astrology, and it’s really a shame because they play an important part in judgments. The disconnect between the astrologer and receptions has mostly come about because of two different models. The models share the same mechanical basis, but their interpretive qualities have different foci. In the previous article in this series we discussed aspects, and in it was included Bonatti’s helpful Table of Perfection which assesses the likelihood of an aspectual contact in a horary chart manifesting which relied heavily on the receptions involved in the individual aspects.
Reception is defined as when planet A is in any part of the zodiac that planet B has dignities. Mercury (planet B) receives any planet (planet A) that is in Gemini, Virgo, the air signs in a night chart, and in its Face or any of its terms. This is the same for any other planet and is somewhat correct in all forms of the reception model. A more modern and incorrect model of reception would hold the reception to be the other way around, where any planet in those signs is receiving Mercury, which isn’t the case.
Planets in this relationship have a similar function to host and guest. The receiving planet is obligated to care for or attend to the planet that is currently visiting its place in the zodiac. With our above example, Mercury would receive and feel obligated to tend to Mars in Gemini as best as Mercury was capable of doing. This brings us to our final discrepancy in the various reception models where some astrologers hold they have a love/hate paradigm instead of a host/guest. Mercury is neutral to Mars in Gemini, and Mars feels the same way towards Mercury. Reception does not show love or like, but shows willingness which – depending on context – can be interpreted as something very similar to love or hate, but it is not always the case. It is best to stick to the host/guest paradigm where the host planet is willing to allow the guest planet to do what it wants and provide for it to work towards that goal.
Mutual Reception and Single Reception
A major form of reception is the mutual reception, wherein two planets receive each other simultaneously. Mars in Gemini and Mercury in Aries is an example of mutual reception by domicile, which is an excellent set up to have in a horary where Mercury and Mars are significators. Mutual reception can also occur through differing levels of reception, such as Mars in Gemini and Mercury in Capricorn where Mercury receives Mars by domicile, and Mars receives Mercury through exaltation. This example would merely be a toned down version of the first example.
Mutual reception is not the only form of reception. Individual planets can receive others without being received in turn; such as the Moon in Sagittarius is received by Jupiter, without Jupiter necessarily needing to be in any of the Moon’s dignities. This example shows Jupiter’s willingness to provide for and assist the Moon in her endeavors, without showing the Moon’s willingness to return the favor.
Direction of Reception
Due to the host/guest idea, there is some real room for abuse and many warnings handed down to us about who receives whom. In electional astrology, we’re told that if mutual reception is impossible, we want the quesited to receive the querent. Basically, if we can’t guarantee mutual agreement, we want our querent to come out ahead (they are the ones paying us, after all). If Mercury is our querent and Mars is our queisted, we want Mars to receive Mercury. If Mercury is Mars’s guest, then Mercury is able to do what he wants and Mars is more likely to give in to Mercury’s requests. More dramatically, we see these rules spelled out for us in Christian Astrology where Lilly tells us to beware of the Lord of the First receiving the Lord of the Eighth, as it’s an argument of death. In this example, think of the Lord of the Eighth as a vampire that the Lord of the First has unwittingly invited into its home. Now the Lord of the First has to tend to this vampire and let it do what it wants as its humble host. Too bad the Lord of the Eighth wants to kill it. However, if it was reversed and the Lord of the Eighth received the Lord of the First, our Lord of Death will allow the Lord of Life to do what it wants to do, which is to continue living. So pay careful attention to the direction of reception to see who is helping whom.
Perfect Reception and Aspects
Not all forms of dignity are equal, and once we move away from the major dignities of domicile and exaltation and start going towards the lesser dignities of triplicity, face, and term, we need to start stacking dignities. Individual planets have more control over the signs they have major dignities in, and don’t have as much control over the areas where they have minor dignities. The Moon at 1°Cancer is not being received by Mars, because being in Mars’s Term is not a strong enough dignity to be able to receive on its own. However, if it’s during a night chart, then Mars will also receive the Moon by triplicity, which makes it a perfect reception because it’s two forms of minor reception. The same interpretations are applied to this form of reception as are applied to the major receptions by domicile and exaltation.
Typically, reception needs an aspect to mediate the planets. We’ll consider a reception between significators a “will” to work together, and consider the aspect between them the “way” in which to do it. Planets in reception but lacking aspectual contact show a will without a way. So, our Jupiter in Capricorn might have the will to work with or assist the Moon in Sagittarius, but since they are in signs that don’t behold one another, there is not a way for Jupiter to do this.
As an exemption from the above rule, planets that are in mutual reception do not necessarily require an aspect between them to manifest. Venus in Scorpio and Mars in Libra receive one another and are in aversion to one another, but the force of the reception between the two can still bring about their signification if the rest of the chart is generally fortunate with few mitigating malefic influences. A generosity is much weaker than a reception with an aspect (redundancy for clarity) as it depends on other chart features, whereas the perfect reception and aspect is generally a strong enough testimony to show manifestation, while the other chart factors are likely to describe how much effort it’s going to take to achieve it.
Please note that a reception with an aspect is what is properly called a “reception” whereas a situation that looks like a reception but lacks an aspect is a “generosity”. Venus in Scorpio applying an opposition to Mars in Taurus is a reception, Venus in Scorpio and Mars in Libra is a generosity.
On a final note, there is such a thing as negative reception. This is when a planet that signifies a thing is in the detriment or fall of the querent’s significator or vice versa. We’ll take Venus in Taurus as significator and Mars in Aquarius. Mars has negative reception with Venus because she is in one of his signs of detriment, essentially, Venus damages Mars in some way and Mars ends up rejecting her. This can happen the other way around where Venus can reject Mars if he is in her detriment. This is something that isn’t as cut and dry as the receptions rules where you want the queisted receiving the querent. It doesn’t really matter who is rejecting who as there is equal likelihood of both parties being injured or spurned in some way. Having the querent reject the queisted could be positive and show the querent having the upper hand and turning down the queisted, or it could show the queisted injuring the querent in a way that concurs with the rest of the chart.