Planets and Stars (The Geometric Kind)

While thinking about planetary hours in response to a book review Blue Flame Magick put up, I recalled an interesting thing about how planetary hours are devised.

As it turns out, the names of the days of the week are related to the seven traditional planets.  Sunday, Monday, and Saturday are pretty clearly related to the Sun, Moon, and Saturn, respectively.  Tuesday is related to Mars by way of the Norse god Tyr or Tiw, Wednesday to Mercury by Oden or Woden, Thursday to Jupiter by way of Thor, and Friday to Venus by way of Frigg or Freya.  This is also seen in many Romance languages (Monday is lunes in Spanish, Tuesday is martes, Wednesday is miércoles, and so on, with the exception of Sunday and Saturday, domingo and sábado, which reflect liturgical use of the week by the Church).  Using the days of the week, we can order the planets like so:

Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn

Of course, that’s not the usual ordering seen in astrology.  The ancients ordered the planets in another way:

Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon

In the geocentric model of the universe, this is the order of the planetary spheres from most distant to least from the Earth, as well as the order of the planets’ speed as perceived from the Earth from slowest to quickest.  It’s also the same order of the sephiroth in the Qabbalah an Idea passes through to become manifested in Malkuth, our part of the cosmos. 

If you order the planets according to their sphere or speed in a circle and draw a heptagram between them, you get the following diagram:

Follow the circle clockwise, and you have the order of the planets according to their sphere or speed, as well as the order that the planetary hours appear in.  Follow the heptagram, and you have the order of the planets according to the weekdays.  Nifty!

Now, the more geometrically-inclined among you may realize that this is not the only heptagram possible.  In one kind of geometrical notation, the above heptagram is noted {7/3}: read “seven points, with a line between every third point”.  Another heptagram, {7/2} where a line connects every second point, is possible.  Let’s swap out the heptagrams using the same order of the planets:

Reading around the heptagram clockwise, we get the following order:

Saturn, Mars, Venus, Moon, Jupiter, Sun, Mercury

This order is, at first, confusing, and isn’t normally seen or used for anything.  We can still make sense of it, though, and that’s with respect to the planetary nights.  We know that any given day is ruled by a particular planet, starting with dawn and lasting through until the next dawn.  However, the same system can be changed and used to figure out which planet rules a particular night:

  • Saturn rules Tuesday night
  • Jupiter rules Sunday night
  • Mars rules Friday night
  • the Sun rules Wednesday night
  • Venus rules Monday night
  • Mercury rules Saturday night

If you follow the second heptagram clockwise around the circle, we get the “(first planet) rules night of the (second planet)’s day”; going counterclockwise, we get “the night of (first planet)’s day is ruled by (second planet)”. 

Now, among my geometrically-inclined readers, some of you will notice that the above order of the planets around the circle (according to distance from or relative speed to the Earth) isn’t the only order that can return the same results.  In fact, if we swap the normal ordering with the reverse of the second one we got above, starting from Saturn through Mercury towards Mars and arrange them clockwise around a circle:

Saturn, Mercury, Sun, Jupiter, Moon, Venus, Mars

and use the {7/3} heptagram above, again going clockwise:

we get the order of the planets according to their planetary spheres, from furthest to closest.  Similarly, if we use the {7/2} heptagram:

we get the order of the planets according to the weekdays.  This is nifty and all, but the order used around the circle in these last two examples isn’t used or seen anywhere.  (Stay with me, guys, this is about to get cool.)

Alchemists and astrologers, back in the good ol’ days, were tight.  Alchemists frequently timed their rites to astrological events, and astrologers relied on correspondences of the planets to natural things in the world to do their magic.  One of the most important correspondences of the planets are those of metals:

  • Saturn with lead
  • Jupiter with tin
  • Mars with iron
  • the Sun with gold
  • Venus with copper
  • Mercury with mercury (surprise!)
  • the Moon with silver

If you order the planets according to their corresponding metals’ heaviness (atomic weight, appearance in the periodic table, etc.), we get the following order, from heaviest to lightest:

Saturn (207.2), Mercury (200.6), Sun (196.9), Jupiter (118.7), Moon (107.9), Venus (63.5), Mars (55.8)

SHAZAM.  It’s the same ordering used for those last two heptagrams above; it represents the rulership of the planetary nights as well as the weights of the metals corresponded to the planets, and directly relates by way of sacred geometry to the distance of the planets from the Earth as well as the order of the days of the week.  And again, in similar ways, if you use the order of the planets according to the weekdays arranged clockwise and draw a circle and use the {7/3} heptagram, you get the order of the planets according to their corresponding metals’ weights; use the {7/2} heptagram, and you get the order of the planets according to their distance from the Earth.

What it all boils down to is this: things are so tightly connected and corresponded in our world that “as above, so below” only begins to describe it.  Between the metals we use on a day-to-day basis, the planets in the sky, our systems of measuring time, and the Lightning Bolt path of the Qabbalists, they’re all tightly bound up into the same system though they appear entirely disconnected so that we don’t even notice it.  All the same, these things all fit into the same system, we use these correspondences all the time, and the same thing can pop up in multiple ways equally in different systems that all reveal the same idea, or Idea.

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3 thoughts on “Planets and Stars (The Geometric Kind)

  1. The “alchemical” order “Sun – Mercury – Saturn – Mars – Venus – Moon – Jupiter” from the second heptagram (which can be derived also from the first heptagram, if the planets in the circle follow the week’s order) is employed actually in the Burmese traditional astrology Mahabote in order to determine the rulers of the seven houses.

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