In Traditional Astrology, much more significance is given to the Planets and the Houses, than to the Signs of the Zodiac. I like this: it makes sense to me. In fact, astrology as a whole was almost lost to me because of the signs of the zodiac, and how they did NOT make sense as interpreted through Modern Astrology. I was “a Libra”, I discovered — but the description of the Libra personality didn’t fit me at all! Nor did I find much substance anywhere else in Modern Astrology’s mythos, its conception of the universe. Most of all, I think — I wanted deities, gods — and there were none there. They had all been murdered by having been reduced to concepts, potentialities.
I have good news for you. In Traditional Astrology, the gods remain alive. There are at least seven planetary deities, though you can find more beings living in the system as spirits and intelligences, if you wish to seek them out. Let’s take a look at these Seven Planetary Deities — who they are and what they stand for, and how they might be meaningful to you.
Modern astronomy tells us there are 8 planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. Pluto, once the 9th planet, has recently been re-classified as a Dwarf Planet, though it’s still considered a full fledged planet in much of Modern Astrology. But in Traditional Astrology we use the “classical” seven planets: Sun, Mercury, Venus, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. The sun is counted as a planet, even though it’s really a star, and the Moon too is counted as a planet, even though it’s really a moon.
The Sun can be viewed as one of several deities: the Greek deities Apollo or Helios, the Roman god Sol, or the Egyptian god Ra.
He is an author of light, bringer of light to the day as well as to our consciousness. The light of the Sun can reveal hidden truths, and thus represents intellectual clarity not only within one situation but in a systematic way with theories and complex works that illuminate and edify. Sol can bring warmth and thus new energy and healing. The delight and hope that we feel each day when the darkness subsides and dawn breaks, is a joy given by Sol. The daily rhythm of sun rising and setting, so important to ancient peoples and to the formation of earth based spiritual systems, is centered on the work of Sol.
The Sun is a bright king, vigorous male figure, a wise ruler — gold and yellow are his colors, yellow traditionally representing the intellect, and curiosity. He gives success, clarity and illumination in all matters we undertake. There are spirits and angels associated with the Sun — Och is the planetary spirit. This diagram shows the angel and spirit associated with each planetary Deity.
Sol and Luna (the Moon) are paired in alchemy, where these, viewed as the Greater and Lesser lights, are the force of consciousness and the subconscious, respectively. Though in our Western culture where reason is highly valued we are biased towards what is conscious, the subconscious mind is much larger (the bulk of the iceberg, whereas the conscious mind is only the tip protruding from the waters of the psyche) and has its own profound wisdom. In fact all forms of divination are based upon the seeking of the wisdom of the unconscious mind. An excessively “solar” orientation to life can be stultifying, resulting in a barrenness and dullness of spirit, since the psyche is refreshed from her deepest sources in the unconscious mind. So it can help if we think of the Sun and Moon as similar to warmth and water — too much warmth, and we can dry up and become dessicated. Too much water and we can drown. A balance of both is necessary in alchemy as in life.
One might seek to invoke the Sun at times when one seeks the energies or wisdom associated with the Sun. This is best done during planetary hours which correspond to the Sun — the day of Sunday, or use a planetary hours calculator like this one to find the planetary hour associated with any place and time.
Mercury is the god Hermes in Greek, and Mercurius in the Roman system. He is a messenger god, a guide, and author of communication. He has a brilliant mind and a quick wit, and rules the subtleties of the intellect, and the paradox. He’s the patron of astrology, astronomy, the arts and sciences, and the realm of magic and the occult, including divination. Hermes Trismegistus, author of the Emerald Tablet, and Hermes Psychopomp, the guide of souls in the Underworld, are both related to Mercury. He governs education and teaching and is often seen as a youthful male figure. His planetary spirit is Ophiel. Of the seven planets, Mercury is the only one which is considered to be either both genders or neutral — the others are either male (Sun, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars) or female (Moon, Venus).
Both Mercury and Saturn are deities with wisdom and knowledge, but while the knowledge of Saturn is heavy and ponderous, slow and correlated to older individuals, that of Mercury is light, bright, young and fleet. Interpretation — called hermeneutics, after Hermes — is correlated to Mercury. We can also view Mercury as the liberator of the image, bringing images and symbols out from their hidden place in material, out into the light of day. While the wisdom of the Sun, as well as Saturn, can be more linear and literal, Mercury’s wisdom is not limited by morality, linearity, or reason, and thus continually eludes those who would try to pin it down with scientific or philosophical methods.
It is useful to invoke Mercury when seeking help with issues related to communication, or knowledge of arts and sciences. Wednesday is the day associated with Mercury.
Venus is a female deity, associated with beauty, aesthetics, arts, sexuality and love, music, laughter and merriment, food and good times, earth and nature and all the green world, particularly beautiful gardens and attractive places. She is the Greek goddess Aphrodite or the Roman goddess Venus. Her color is green and her day is Friday. One may seek to invoke Venus when desiring to cultivate beauty or engage in the arts, or when seeking a romantic partner, or when beginning a new endeavor and seeking a revival in growth and freshness. Venus has some correlation to the Empress card in the Tarot — who is the figure associated with love, maternal care, fertility and abundance. Venus represents the sensual enjoyment of life, the joy in material things, the earth, the body, and leads us to the spiritual things through the body.
The Moon, as mentioned above, is the correlary to the Sun, being the “lesser light” of the heavens. She is viewed as the most watery and moist of the planets, and the one most associated with hidden mysteries, and secret, occult wisdom. The moon, known as Luna and associated with the Roman Goddess Diana, and the Greek Goddesses Artemis and Hecate, contains the wisdom of the world of fantasy, dreams, psychic vision and intuition.
The moon waxes and wanes, and thus Luna governs the cyclical nature of life, agriculture, the seasons, and the process of renewal.