For millennia mankind has turned its attention to the skies, gazing with wonder at the strange glowing lights in the heavens. Theories abounded for what they were; gods, heroes, omens of great/terrible things, and far, far more. So important were these burning balls of plasma parsecs from our pinprick of a planet away that monuments were erected around the globe to mark them, but the truth is it didn’t stop in ancient times. We all know that the pyramids were aligned with Orion’s Belt, but it isn’t very well known that one of the world’s youngest major national capitals, Washington D.C. aligns with the constellation of Virgo. By aligning things with a specific constellation, the theory has been to imbue that place with its energy and power. We can do this too, by aligning ourselves, and possessions (such as dwellings) with the constellations we seek to empower it with, but that’s a topic for another day (and falls under Theurgy).
I mentioned before there is more to astrology than the zodiac. Of course this is the most well known part of the science, but if you merely look at that aspect, you’re missing out on so much more. Where astronomy looks at space purely from a physical standpoint, astrology delves deeper, being more concerned with the influence of celestial bodies. How their energies influence us and our world are profound. For this exact reason this introductory piece is going to be split into two or three pieces. This week’s will focus on defining astrology, and introduce you to the seven primary bodies used in basic Hermetica.
The Importance and Impact of Astrology
Throughout history, and even today, world leaders (whether they are/were kings, presidents, prime ministers, pharaohs, etc.) had at their disposal astrologers. The energies of the universe are overwhelming to no end, and are constantly bombarding us. I’ve always made this argument for the proof of astrology: We know that the Moon moves the tides, and that we can detect a star with a planet orbiting it by finding a “wobble/vibration” in the star from the planet’s gravity pulling on the star. So if a tiny planet can vibrate a star and the Moon moves the tides, what impact do the Celestial Bodies in our own Solar System play on our sensitive brain chemistry from their super massive gravitational pull alone? This of course only includes one form of energy that they are bombarding us with (gravity), and doesn’t even take into account the energies of magnetism, radiation, light, and so many others that space prohibits writing on. Keep in mind that people aren’t just more on edge on the three nights surrounding the Full Moon, but hostile crimes also tend to spike, as do births. One “old wives’ tale” even claims that if you cut your hair on the night of the Full Moon (at its apex) that your hair will grow faster. There isn’t a single civilization on Earth that hasn’t developed some form of astrology, and they almost all have similar beliefs on what each of the Celestial Bodies does.
Celestial Bodies VS Planets
So why don’t I just call them planets? Simple, because the Sun and Moon are both part of astrology, and are most decidedly not planets. Likewise, by modern definition Pluto is also not a planet, but it is still part of astrology, therefore another term must be used.
There are of course eight planets (including Earth) in the Solar System and by adding Pluto, the Sun and Moon, that should make for eleven Celestial Bodies, but in basic Hermetic Science we only count seven. why? Well first off we don’t count Earth because we’re on it, of course that means that if we lived on Mars we would count Earth, but would discount Mars and the Earth’s moon, but include Mars’ two moons (Phobos and Deimos), meaning it would have twelve total Celestial Bodies. We only count seven though because those are what are visible with the naked eye (the Sun and Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). This is represented by the symbol of the Hexagram (commonly called the Star of David, or Star Tetrahedron). Each point and the center represent a Celestial Body. The upward facing triangle (starting from the top and working clockwise) consists of Saturn, Venus, and Mercury, whereas the downward facing triangle (starting from the bottom and working clockwise) consists of the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter, with the center of the hexagram representing the Sun. This is the typical use of the hexagram, but it has several other uses that will be addressed at later times as they become pertinent.
The Building Blocks of Astrology
If you’re going to learn about something you should start at the root and work your way up. Nobody starts with calculus, for that matter nobody actually even starts with arithmetic, we start by learning to count. So let’s take a quick look at the things that go into learning astrology before we leave things alone for the week.
The root word for planet meant wandering stars or wanderers in Ancient Greek. They form the first building block to learning astrology. Without them that whole ASTRO part loses a lot of impact after all. You can think of the planets (including Pluto) as managers at a business, each one is in charge of a different department, but they collectively work together to make the business run.
Of course this will come up eventually when you are talking about astrology. The zodiac is one of the building blocks, and your ephemeris is just something nice to know. For reference an ephemeris is your birth chart, showing where the celestial bodies were in relationship to each of the twelve signs. As Joe said in his video, very few masters of astrology, if any still exist, are willing to share the greatest secrets of this aspect of the art, but that doesn’t mean that it is impossible to learn them. Zodiac astrology isn’t my strongest suit, but I’ll provide you a link if you’d like to have your ephemeris chart done for free: http://www.alabe.com. Remember they are a business, so what you’ll receive is only an overview of your signs, if you’d like more detail you’ll actually have to buy the full thing (they have to eat too you know!) To get maximum results you’ll need to know all of the following: Your birth date (in U.S. format as Month-Day-Year), where you were born, and what time you were born (to the minute). Obviously you should know the first part and can probably find the second easily, but if you don’t know the to the minute time you were born, default to 12:00PM. Defaulting to noon will cause some inconsistencies, and not be as accurate as would a perfect time.
Beyond this though, each sign belongs to three groupings: Polarity (Masculine/Feminine), Quality (Cardinal, Fixed, or Mutable), and Element (Fire, Earth, Air, or Water).
Masculine signs are direct (linear), active (in fact I prefer the terms Active or Passive to Masculine or Feminine because it explains them better), assertive, and aggressive; whereas Feminine (or Passive if you prefer) signs are indirect (circular), receptive, and magnetic.
Cardinal signs are the initiators of change, working with sudden bursts of energy, but tend to become bored or frustrated with their work. Fixed signs on the other hand have enduring energy to complete tasks (typically begun by Cardinals); as a result they are meticulous and unstoppable. Mutable signs tend to be scattered and inconsistent, but are composed of amazing versatility and potential for growth.
Fire signs inspire action, attract attention, and are drawn to spirituality. Earth signs are the responsible ones; they are concerned with our physical needs, making them practical and reliable. Air signs love intellectual pursuits, and enjoy socializing, but tend to be elusive. Water signs dwell in emotions, the masters of empathy, they change and adapt to whatever situation they are put into.
Space prohibits us from going into detail about each sign, but there are thousands of books out there on this aspect of astrology for the reading if you’re interested. I will give you the Polarity, Quality, and Element of each of the twelve signs here. They are abbreviated by the first letter of each part, and read like this: Sign – Polarity (M or F), Quality (C, F, or M), Element (F, E, A, W), you should notice the pattern pretty quickly.
Aries – M, C, F
Taurus – F, F, E
Gemini – M, M, A
Cancer – F, C, W
Leo – M, F, F
Virgo – F, M, E
Libra – M, C, A
Scorpio – F, F, W
Sagittarius – M, M, F
Capricorn – F, C, E
Aquarius – M, F, A
Pisces – F, M, W
As for the constellation of Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer, I personally don’t count him. This 13th sign really isn’t in the zodiac wheel by more than his ankles. If you really want to buy into his hype go ahead, but I wouldn’t advise talking about it to an occultist, unless you want to be laughed at. The biggest issues with Ophiuchus are 1) He’d make Scorpio last for only 6 days (November 23 to 29). 2) Again, only his ankles are in the zodiac wheel. 3) It has no polarity (can only have polarities with things that are opposite each other!) 4) It would be a fire sign which would throw the entire zodiac order out of whack. I’m digressing now because I have big issues with Ophiuchus, but will tell you this, this constellation is incredibly interesting once you get past the fake sign thing, and look into something much deeper. I’m leaving you to do the research here alone, but I’ll point to the second sentence here http://gelageo.com/ophiuchus.aspx read that and say bye-bye mind.
There are still two other aspects of astrology, that we’ll have to omit at this time for the sake of brevity. The next two pieces, if you’d like to do further research, are Astrological Houses, and Aspects and Transits. The next article consists of so many different things that I can’t write them all at this time. We’ll be continuing where we left off this week, but will also begin to focus in on the qualities of primary Celestial Bodies of Hermetica (again that’s the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). Until then keep stargazing.