We’ll be stepping away from astrology from the birth/natal chart side for now to get back to more Hermetic matters. In this article we’re going to look at the attributions of the celestial bodies, and to be exact we’re only going to be addressing the seven prime planets (again that’s the Sun and Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). This is where we’re going to start drawing the three pillars together, because this is the part that comes into play with several different aspects of alchemy, astrology, and magick/theurgy. I said a while back in the “Salt of the Salt” article that I couldn’t go any further on what sals salis is used for at that time because there was important information that had to be added, today is the day that we add that information. Let’s get straight into things as this will be very, very long.
The Relationship with Sals Salis
Sals salis itself does not directly relate to astrology, however what one of the things it can be used to create does. Namely these are called Planetary Tinctures. Remember how I mentioned that you could align yourself with the power of the planets? These are what you use to do just that. Through the creation and proper (and most importantly safe) application of the tinctures you are drawing upon the attributions of the planet it was made for. For example if you wanted to gain the wisdom of Saturn, you would create and properly use a planetary tincture for Saturn. The exact method to create the tinctures will be addressed when we finish this cycle, and get back to alchemy. For future reference though you don’t directly use sals salis you actually use it to create oleum salis (oil of the salt) first, and then use the oil to create the tinctures (as well as a few other useful things). Please, I must stress again that if you want to rush ahead use extreme caution when using information on planetary tinctures that you might find on the internet for two principle reasons: 1) You are still working with lye, and many sites do not warn you about this. 2) Certain plants used as ingredients for the planetary tinctures are deadly poisonous, even though the plant is sacred to the planet; it is not necessarily safe for use. For instance many plants that are sacred to Saturn are horribly, deadly poisonous (most notably: the plant genus mandragora or mandrake. Every part of the mandrake plant is deadly poisonous; never listen to any recipe that calls for it under any circumstances).
Okay to get an idea of the relationship here we have to backtrack to “Three Pillars, One Goal,” so if you haven’t read that one yet I’d suggest you do so. Theurgy or Magick can be said to be theory in practice and since astrology is theory it only stands to reason that putting that in practice is the root of magick. In fact four of the basic and key magickal rituals are The Lesser and Greater Rituals of the Hexagram (either can be invoking or banishing rituals), and if you remember earlier in this series I noted that the hexagram is the symbol for basic Hermetic Astrology. We’ll get into these four at a later point in the next series, which is devoted to magick where I’ll be breaking them down. Another key thing to remember is that Mercury is named for the Roman god of the same now, whose Greek equivalent would be Hermes, who is tied to the Egyptian Thoth to create Hermes Trismegistus. In addition to travel and communication (as well as a plethora of other aspects), they were also tied to magick, which is why knowing what Mercury (the planet) is doing (is it direct or retrograde?) is so important. Abridging for now, it is a bad idea to practice magick during Mercury retrograde because things have a habit of going horribly wrong.
Positive VS Negative
Earlier I said that I prefer the terms Active or Passive to Masculine or Feminine, and I do stand by that; however, it occurred to me after posting this that I use a third term as well, Positive or Negative. I mean the exact same thing as before, substituting Positive for Active/Masculine and Negative for Passive/Feminine. I do this so that I can use quick notations to myself when I write something’s polarity down. By just simply using basic mathematic notation I find it makes life easier. For Positive/Active/Masculine I use the positive symbol (+), and for Negative/Passive/Feminine I use the negative symbol (-). In this instance Positive doesn’t mean “good,” and Negative doesn’t mean “bad,” rather they are like referring to the charges of electricity. I point these out now because as we look at each celestial body below I’ll be using these notations instead of an actual word.
The Celestial Bodies Defined
Following we’ll take a look at each of the seven basic bodies. How I’ve entered the information on them reads as follows, keep in mind that some of the things will become much more important in the next series, particularly metal and color, but I haven’t included all the information about the planets at this time on purpose:
[Name] Literally which body we’re talking about, followed by a little info on each of them. Note: Each one’s symbol appears to the left of its name.
Polarity: Is it + (Positive) or – (Negative)
Zodiac Sign: The sign(s) it traditionally rules. Note: With the knowledge of the existence of the outer most planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) this information is no longer correct, but at one time this is the sign each of these planets ruled.
Element: Which element it relates to
Principles: What it rules
Day: The day that it is dominant
Colors: The colors that represent it
Metal: This is the metal that represents it
Alchemy: What it represents in Alchemy
Positive Traits: This is Positive in the “good” sense, in-other-words, what are the good aspects of the planet.
Negative Traits: This is Negative in the “bad” sense, meaning what are its downsides.
There are more pieces to these correspondences that we’ll address as they become pertinent, but that’s a lot to get started with. Note: They are listed from the center of the solar system and work outwards.
Trees: What trees are sacred to it (replace these with the typical Ash or Lime for your sal salis if you’re trying to draw in a specific planets traits).
At the heart of our solar system lays the Sun, the provider of light and life. Without it neither could be possible. It gives benign leadership, but if left unchecked is harsh and self-centered. Equated to gold, and in fact being its producer (abridged article: http://www.gemologistsam.net/did-gold-come-from-a-supernova/), it’s no wonder why this heavy metal is adored the world over. Interestingly the Sun’s proper name is actually the Sun (not Sol, Helios, Apollo, etc.) even though all stars are suns we call ours simply the Sun, capitalizing the S to elevate it to the status of a proper noun.
Zodiac Sign: Leo
Element: Fire (as if this should come as a shock!)
Principles: Consciousness (humans are diurnal not nocturnal) and Vitality (Sun giver of life)
Day: Sunday (get it SUNday)
Colors: Gold and Red
Alchemy: Coagulation and Conjunction
Positive Traits: Good health and vitality, power (not abused) and organization
Negative Traits: Pride and selfishness, egocentric
Trees: Ash, Citrus, Juniper, Laurel, and Walnut
Ah good old Mercury, fastest planet of all, not that it has a long way to go. Ruling over so many things (remember the “dump god” comment?) it is commonly held to mental processes (including language both spoken and written, adaptation, and intellectual pursuits), communication, travel, and magick. Mercury was the trickster god, being both the god of merchants and thieves. Likewise he was the great jester of the gods, a puckish “what fools these mortals be,” air clinging to his actions. It can also be viewed as the anti-Saturn (Mercury is represented as a child in alchemy, and Saturn as a dragon, often slain by the child).
Polarity: Both (yes that’s right Mercury is both + and -)
Zodiac Signs: Gemini and Virgo
Element: Air (it is flighty after all!)
Principles: Mediation and Intelligence
Colors: Orange and Yellow (not to be confused with gold)
Metal: This one should go without saying: Mercury (archaic form: quicksilver)
Alchemy: Circulation and Mediation
Positive Traits: Communication, Diplomacy, Mediation, and Good Judgment
Negative Traits: Trickery, Cold/Distant, Stingy, Cruel (mentally)
Trees: Acacia, Hazel, Mulberry, and Myrtle
Where’s the love? Oh there she is. Venus is the planet concerned with affection, and the arts. Libra and Taurus traditionally shared her meaning that she puts opposites into balance, but is stubborn as it gets about things getting out of whack. She is also the great muse, patron and friend of the arts, where the masterpieces are born. Oddly enough most other cultures viewed Venus as a masculine planet, not feminine, this is predominately at Greco-Roman concept.
Zodiac Signs: Libra and Taurus
Principles: Relating to Others, and the Arts
Day: Friday (goddess of love, what is one of the two most common date nights?)
Colors: Rose and Emerald
Positive Traits: Affection and Beauty, Harmony, and Proportion
Negative Traits: Overly Sentimental, Conceited, Tastelessness (this is more something that drive Venus mad, not that it has bad taste), and Hedonism
Trees: Apple, Cherry, Chestnut, Elder, Linden, and Pear
The silvery orb, Luna herself, and that’s about enough of me letting the Libra out with the waxing poetic. The Moon (like the Sun its proper name is The Moon with a capital M) rules over the oceans, literally, it governs the greater portion of the tides, but that’s not what we’re looking at. It controls emotions, and is intimately tied to fertility (ladies look to your visitor and see if you find a pattern). It rules the growth process of everything on Earth.
Zodiac Sign: Cancer
Element: Water (rules the tides people!)
Principles: Consciousness and Emotions
Day: Monday (turn that into a double O and see what you get, Moon-day)
Colors: Silver, Violet, Royal Blue
Alchemy: Conjunction and Coagulation
Positive Traits: Sensitivity, Maternal Instincts, Benevolence
Negative Traits: Moody, Gullible, Overly Sensitive, Defensive, and Envy
Trees: Magnolia and Willow
The planet of war, Mars brings the intensity into our lives. Even though it rules over the ultimate form of conflict (again, war), Mars isn’t without its redeeming qualities. Willpower and determination are governed by it, and it’s the source that we draw on when we have to pull a “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” maneuver. Courage is a very necessary element to existence after all. Curiously scientist believe that Mars may be the only planet in our solar system capable of being converted into a life sustaining planet through terriforming.
Zodiac Signs: Aries and Scorpio
Positive Traits: Courage and Determination, Passion, and Protective
Negative Traits: Impulsive, Brutal and Wrathful, Ruthless and Destructive
Trees: Cyprus, Pine, Rhododendron, Savin Juniper, and Thorn
As the largest planet in our solar system you really can’t miss Jupiter, nor can most space debris. Jupiter was the king of the Roman gods (Zeus in Greece), and caries amazing amounts of power with it. Like an all powerful king could be expected to do, Jupiter is jovial and jubilant, ever expanding, generous, kind, and warm, but of course as a side effect of excess there is always a price to be paid.
Zodiac Signs: Sagittarius
Element: Fire and Air (greedy planet isn’t it?)
Principles: Harmony and Justice (and yet Libra is stuck with Venus)
Colors: Mauve, Blue, Purple, and Gray
Metals: Tin and Zinc
Alchemy: Sublimation and Distillation
Positive Traits: Merciful and Compassionate, Benevolent and Generous, Fair
Negative Traits: Vain, Self-Indulgent, Greedy, and Materialistic
Trees: Ash, Cedar, Horse Chestnut, Maple, and Oak
We come at last to Saturn, the planet of death. Traditionally Saturn is depicted as the grizzly, skeletal specter of death (Grim Reaper). It is the planet of restriction, but also the beginning of self-transformation, because in passing through Saturn (dying) a person returns to the gulf beyond (afterlife, or whatever you want to call it), likewise as it represents the wisdom of countless ages great secrets are held within Saturn. Curiously though for all the doom and gloom people have associated to Saturn, the week long Roman celebration called Saturnalia would seem more befitting to tricky Mercury (read up on Saturnalia it’s really quite interesting!) Also, all of the planets except Saturn (in the basic list) are gods, Saturn relates to Chronos, a titan.
Zodiac Sign: Capricorn
Principles: Concentration and Inhibition
Day: Saturday (again a “duh” moment: SATUR[n]day)
Colors: Iridescent Black and Purple
Positive Traits: Discipline, Sincerity, Humility, Perseverance, Acceptance, and Wisdom
Negative Traits: Melancholy, Cranky, Distrustful, Isolated, Inflexible, and Mean
Trees: Beech, Holly, Poplar, Scotch Pine, and Yew
Well that wraps it up. This information will become incredibly important as we progress further into the occult sciences. I hope now you can see why it is that they actually all interrelate. We’ll be moving on to Magick/Theurgy next time. Until then have fun.
Just want to say one last time that there is still a lot of information related to astrology, we’ve barely scratched the surface. I would strongly suggest you pick up a good book on the topic if you want to progress further, but please be careful of the author and/or publisher. Llewellyn for instance is notorious for printing anybody, whether that author actually knows what he/she is actually talking about or not. The other thing (author) can also be very troubling. As a general rule, anyone that uses a silly sounding pen name (like “Silver Ravenwolf”) should automatically be ignored (in the example’s case she fully admitted in one interview that she makes everything up as she goes along). A good way to validate an author as viable is to check the bibliography, look for certain names (Aleister Crowley, S. L. MacGregor-Mathers, Israel Regardie, Abramelin, etc.). I have provided the following link to Wikipedia that contains a list of occultists, which also has a link towards the bottom of the article to a list of astrologers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_occultists
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