No matter where you are from or where you move to the feeling of being "home" is universally understood and appreciated. I've recently spent some time this summer traveling and moving across the country and so the idea of "home" has been on my mind a lot lately. Traveling, staying in different accommodations, and the different feelings you get from each place has often been a metaphor for essential dignities and I think it is incredibly appropriate.
Domicile is when a planet is in it's own sign, like Mars in Aries (or Scorpio) or Venus in Taurus (or Libra). It is just like when you are in your own home. You feel comfortable there. Everything there is yours to use, you can do anything you want. You can be messy, you can be neat, you can walk around naked or get dressed to the nines. It is your house and you feel good when you are there, in control and confident. Things are familiar and comforting. This is how a planet feels when it is in domicile.
Exaltation is like being the honored guest at the home of someone with whom you are very close. You are given your own room and made to feel as comfortable as possible. Likely you can help yourself to food in the refrigerator, you can use the swimming pool if you want. Your host goes out of their way to make sure you have everything you need. These are not your sheets or your towels but they are quite nice and you feel special while you are visiting this place. Even though it is not your home you are treated with care and kindness and you are grateful and pleased to be made so welcome. This is how a planet feels when it is in exaltation, like Mars in Capricorn or Venus in Pisces. You are not at home but it is still a special place where you are staying and you feel privileged.
Detriment is the opposite of domicile. You are not at home, rather, you are staying with someone completely opposite of you. This is like Mars in Libra or Venus in Aries (or Scorpio). Let's say you are Mars, you are direct and athletic and do not need any pretensions. But you are staying with Venus at Libra's house, which is like a museum full of beautiful art. You are expected to dress for dinner and use the proper silverware when you eat. You are not supposed to belch in company. You are incredibly uncomfortable, you don't feel like you can be yourself. You never heard of dressing for dinner before and certainly don't have any clothes that Venus would find appropriate. I'm sure we have all stayed with people who are quite opposite from what we are, and that opposition naturally makes the visitor a bit uncomfortable. The host may do all they can to make the guest as comfortable as possible but offering scented bath soaps to Mars is a gesture that may very well go unappreciated. This is what is is like for a planet to be in detriment.
Fall is the opposite of exaltation, like Mars in Cancer or Venus in Virgo. Instead of the honored guest now it is like you are the guest of a begrudging host, someone who really would rather you were not there. Almost as if the host got tricked into letting you stay at their house and now they are bitter and taking it out on you. Unfortunately there you are and you must grin and bear it as long as you are there. Planets in fall are not welcome, but there they are none-the-less.
Traveling across the country this summer I think I had all of these experiences. I left home, my domicile, in Virginia. Truth be told we were only there for about 9-10 months so it wasn't a true home, not one that we had been completely settled in, but it was the closest thing I have had so far this year. We traveled to Louisville where we stayed in exaltation in a vacation rental that had everything we needed and more including a private balcony and a full kitchen. Our hosts even let us use their washer and dryer in the main house while we were there which was incredibly generous. After Louisville we went to St. Louis where I can say we stayed at the worst hotel yet, in detriment. It was quite uncomfortable there, and we were supposed to stay another night yet did not. We later found another hotel in St. Louis which was much nicer but also would probably fit under the detriment label. The internet stopped working after a day and everything I wanted to do was internet related. I stayed there and it was okay but it was not an ideal situation. I had made reservations to visit another area of Missouri but the owner actually contacted me and told me not to come due to flooding in the area. She sent a partial refund but it took some work for me to get the whole refund and while I didn't actually stay there it was like being in fall, I had to make other hotel arrangements at the last minute and since St. Louis was apparently hosting a lot of the Oklahoma tornado victims this summer all the hotels were full and it was very difficult to find alternative accommodations. This isn't a comprehensive list of everywhere we stayed but it covers these essential dignities.
We have relocated to Billings, Montana and are working on setting up our domicile here. Anyone who has moved knows that it takes time to set a home up, it takes time to learn the neighborhood and the good grocery store and what time of day is best for long walks outside. I am definitely looking forward to the time when I can truly say that our new place in Billings feels like home.
If you are interested Wikipedia has a handy table of essential dignities here.
Astrologer, Reiki Master, tarot reader, and so much more!