Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Planetary and Astrological Magick

One of the most essential and potent forms of magick, aside from theurgy and evocation, is planetary and astrological magick. Where elemental magick could be seen as working mostly with attributes of energy, planetary and astrological magick functions with a combination of energy, psychology and spirit formulations. Planetary and astrological magick tap into the basic archetypes of consciousness and culture, so they can be experienced as a form of power that effects the individual and the group mind simultaneously. In addition, these forms of magick also engage directly with attributes of spirit. Planetary and astrological intelligences, which are also considered to be a type of psychological archetype, are highly qualified and evolved spiritual entities in their own right, whether they are perceived as principals of the pagan godhead or as ruling angels. Still, in order to fully grasp the topic of planetary and astrological magick, I will need to define the nature of the planetary and astrological archetypes, which is key to the whole process.

What is the nature of planetary and astrological archetypes? Are they related in some fashion to the actual celestial planets and zodiacal signs that they represent? The answer to this question pivots on how these attributes are defined, and how one defines the active principles of astrology. Do we take a literal approach to our understanding of astrology and the effect that the planets have on us? Some have written that the gravitational impact of the planets, even though subtle and minute, can affect individuals, but science has shown that to be highly unlikely.

If we consider the fact that the gravitation impact of the Moon on an individual human is one ten-millionth of the Earth’s gravitational force, and the sun’s is 40% of that, then the gravitational effect of the planets would be infinitesimally smaller still. Distances from planets to the earth are so vast that they would far outweigh even the size and gravitational impact of the greatest of the planets. While the combination of the moon and sun appear to have a significant effect on large bodies of water and tectonic plates on the surface of the Earth, individual human beings are much too small to be directly impacted by them.

The Earth is too far away to be influenced by even it’s closest celestial neighbors, Mars and Venus. Thus, we would have to assume that the gravitational pull of all eight planets is completely negligible for individual human beings. So it must be true that the effect of the planets on our minds, individually and collectively, has nothing to do with any known physical phenomenon. Therefore, planetary effects must be psychological, both on an individual as well as a collective level. This is why I refer to the planetary attributes as archetypes, since they suffuse our minds and saturate our culture. Even the division of the seven days of the solar week are named after the seven planets of antiquity, as are many qualitative adjectives describing personality traits or types.

Astronomy has determined that the solar system is heliocentric, and that approximately nine planets orbit around the Sun in elliptical orbits, depending on whether you consider Pluto to be a planet or merely a planetoid. Astrology has borrowed eight of the nine planets, but still uses the Sun and Moon in it’s considerations, but not the Earth, which is only used as a method of determining the position of the houses and establishing the point of view. The older astrological system, as determined by Ptolemy, used only the five planets as seen by the naked eye. Adding the Sun and Moon to this list gave a total of seven planetary attributes, and these were and still are used in planetary magick.  

The word archetypes has many meanings, but in occultism, which has taken on the combined perspectives of Neoplatonism and Jungian Psychology, archetypes are perceived as transcendent first principles that affect the human psyche and human behavior. They are said to have both an objective existence and also function as the building blocks of human consciousness. They are represented by internal impulses within the psyche as well as modeling and shaping external events. Archetypes are said to have a transcendent and mythic quality, perhaps due to the fact that they are associated with specific celestial pagan godheads who still have a powerful currency both within the minds of individuals and across cultures. The seven planetary archetypes are found in all human cultures and seem to embody the motivations and the characteristics of the psyche and group mind. It is likely for this reason that astrology and planetary magick continue to be relevant in the post modern age.

In the most sophisticated circles, people still talk about martial activities, venereal proclivities, individuals who are jovial, saturnine, mercurial, sunny or lunatic. It would seem that even though we exist in a world dominated by science and technology, our sentiments are steeped in a kind of mythological exposition. Even the seven days of the week, which make up an artificial measurement of time, are named after the seven planetary archetypes.

Magicians who deliberately engage with these archetypal qualities, whether in magick or divination, enter into the very foundation of the psychological “chemistry” of human personality. Through the occult manipulation of planetary archetypes, a magician can augment, empower and even illuminate himself, as well as curse his enemies. This type of psychic control has the ability to affect the self as well as the local social environment, so it should be considered a very potent and even hazardous kind of magick. This is true because through planeatary magick an accomplished magician can change or reprogram a person’s internal psychological structure at will. Needless to say, this type of magick must be deliberative and performed with a great deal of internal sensitivity and expert knowledge, since any egregious mistake might, if it’s successful, incur a high price for the unwitting magician.

The internal and external archetypal nature of the planets and the signs of the zodiac could also be considered analogous to the power and nature of spirits and gods, since these entities exist in a paradoxical domain where they are experienced both within the mind and also external to the self. Planetary archetypes have the dual quality of being both the elemental constituents of consciousness and complex spiritual entities, the most obvious of these are several of the Roman gods and goddesses, whose names are given to these planets. Thus we have Sol, Luna, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn.

Conscious sentience seems to be made up of symbolic expressions that are analogous to the planetary archetypes, and they function as the basis for the formulation of the individual personality. If an astrological model is applied to the symbolic diagram or structure of the psyche, then each planetary archetype becomes qualified by a zodiacal sign and house, and thereby delineated so as to determine their impact, interrelationships and combined power within that deconstructed personality. Where each planetary archetype is a facet of one’s inner characteristics, their dynamic union can determine the nature of one’s identity, personality and motivation. Some of these attributes will dominate a given personality, and others will be submissive or sublimated into the background. Yet the unified elements of the psyche orchestrate the nature of individual human beings, and they can also be found active in the overall culture, determining sentiments, values, tradition and the ever changing goals and motivations.

These archetypal facets exist in a kind of dynamic and harmonious balance with each other, and when they become imbalanced, they can erupt into forms of neurosis, delusions, paranoia, violent or chaotic behavior and even complete psychosis. Therefore, maintaining an equilibrium is very important - both for the individual and the culture. As you can see, having a knowledge of the planetary archetypes and their associated zodiacal qualifiers can give the occult student an ability to understand and manipulate the very stuff of consciousness itself, as well as the fabric of cultural reality.

Planetary archetypes have a myriad of symbolic correspondences to compare against their base-line meanings. Each planet has a simplistic set of descriptions and characteristics, but then those meanings may be extended by a comparison with various pagan deities, colors, incense, magickal seals or characters, symbolic attributes, magickal weapons, angelic rulers and specific Qabbalistic Sephiroth, which allow for an ever greater set of correspondences.

When engaging with any form of planetary magick, the magician should, at the very least, seek to use pagan deity characteristics, magickal seals or sigils, colors and incenses to assist in capturing the essential quality of the planetary archetype. Astrological based timing (elective astrology) as well as using the planetary hour and day become important factors in working planetary magick. A magician should schedule a working to coincide with the specific planetary day and hour, as well as determining the astrological auspiciousness of the magickal event. This becomes quite critical for planetary magick, forcing a more stringent regimen on the magician than working with earth based energies, such as Elementals, which focus more on the phases of the moon than on any other planet.

The simple qualities for each of the seven planetary archetypal intelligences can be summarized by the following list. This list is neither definitive nor complete, but it gives the student a starting point for a more comprehensive set of definitions. In building a more extended list of qualities, I would recommend that the student seek out any good book on astrology (such as “Horoscope Symbols” by Robert Hand). It would seem that the authors of astrology books have produced a more extensive analysis of the meanings of the planets than any other occult discipline. Keep in mind that the planets can also be qualified by being associated with a specific zodiacal sign, which would be used in any kind of astrological analysis of one’s natal chart, progressed chart, transits or forms of elective astrology.

Sun - Identity (ego), pride, dignity, self-expression, individuality.

Moon - Emotions, feelings, sensitivities, moods, internal or psychic perceptions.

Mercury - Communicative, intellectually active, verbal, curious, commercial activities.

Venus - Desire, love, friendship, creativity, sentiment, sensuality.

Mars - Aggressive pursuits, courage, disciplined action, self-motivation, impulsive.

Jupiter - Compassion, idealism, sympathy, grandeur, pomp, ostentatious.

Saturn - Judgment, rules, restrictions, fate, responsibilities, determination.   
In addition, the following planets can be used for certain types of magick.

  • Healing - Sun, Mercury, Jupiter
  • Wealth - Jupiter, Mercury, Saturn, Venus
  • Love/Romance - Venus
  • Success in conflict - Mars
  • Divination - Moon, Mercury
  • Charity, Aid from Rulers, Compassion - Jupiter
  • Resolving Legal Disputes - Saturn
  • Obtaining Justice - Saturn, Jupiter
  • Protection from Evil - Sun
  • Friendship, Artistic pursuits - Venus, Sun
  • Cursing, retribution, harm, causing ill health and disharmony - Saturn, Mars

As you can see, the planetary archetypes can be useful in a number of different types of magickal operations. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it also shows that planetary archetypes are also somewhat limited, often requiring more than one to achieve a specific objective.

Perhaps the most practical tool used in the deployment of the planetary archetypes is the talisman. A talisman is usually a metallic piece of jewelry that is worn on the person of the recipient who wishes to use the influences of a selected planetary archetype to ensure a specific outcome. A sigil can be developed to symbolize that specific outcome, and it can be etched on the metallic talisman, along with any other characters or seals associated with the planet. The quality and type of metal used for the talisman can be chosen based on the specific metal associated with the planetary archetype, or it can be any base metal that is enameled so that it has the proper associated planetary color. A talisman can also have a mounted and faceted gemstone attached to it, often substituting for the planetary metal, which can therefore be either silver or gold, depending on the assumed gender of the planet.

A talisman is often created or fashioned on the planetary day or even the planetary hour to give it a greater association with the planetary archetype. Then it is consecrated with a specific perfumed oil and charged with the energies of the invoked planetary archetype. Magicians believe that the energies associated with a planetary archetype can be projected into a metallic or crystalline object and therein kept energized in perpetuity. A talisman supposedly never loses its charge, especially if the subject who is deploying it periodically remembers the purpose and reason for its creation. A talisman can be used for a very specific purpose, or it can be made more general and used for a multitude of purposes. Either approach is determined by the spectrum of qualities of the associated planetary archetype. Talismans are worn and kept in contact with the body of the subject for several days or a few weeks, by then the power and impact of the talisman has penetrated the subject’s personality and being, becoming a semi-permanent quality. As previously stated, a renewed contact with the talisman is required periodically, but that contact need only be brief in order to ensure that the talisman remains active.

Metals, colors, incense, gemstones and days of the week associated with the planetary archetypes can vary considerably depending on the authority cited. I have taken the following list from classical and Qabbalistic authorities. Still, as long as the list that one is employing is consistently used, then there is no variation that is the one true version.

  • Sun - Yellow - Gold - Frankincense - Yellow Topaz (Yellow Diamond) - Sunday
  • Moon - Indigo - Silver - Myrrh - Moon Stone (Pearl) - Monday
  • Mars - Scarlet - Iron - Costus (Tobacco) - Ruby (Garnet) - Tuesday
  • Mercury - Orange - Cinnabar (Mercury) - Cassia - Amber (Turquoise) - Wednesday
  • Jupiter - Blue (Purple) - Bay leaf (Cedar) - Amethyst (Sapphire) - Thursday
  • Venus - Green - Copper - Spikenard (Rose) - Lapis Lazuli (Emerald) - Friday
  • Saturn - Black (Violet) - Lead - Storax - Obsidian (Black Onyx) - Saturday

To invoke one of the planetary archetypes, the operator should acquire an appropriate talisman (made from the appropriate materials), candles, robes, incense and a colored sigil or seal drawn on parchment. An invocation of the associated pagan deity, angelic ruler or Olympian spirit should also be constructed, to be used to assist the actual invocation of the planetary archetype. Invocations to lesser planetary godheads can be found in the Greek Magical Papyrus in Translation or in classical writings, such as the Homeric or Orphic Hymns. The operation should be performed during the proper planetary day and planetary hour (as determined by the hour and minute of the rising sun). In addition, the operator should have a large painted trigon with the image of a septagram depicted on it.

I have chosen to use the septagram instead of the hexagram for drawing the lines associated with invoking the specific planetary archetype, but that is a distinction of my own personal magickal system. Still, since it is quite difficult to draw an invoking septagram for a specific planet in the air, I have chosen to use a painted trigon instead. The trigon is a rectangular shaped piece of plywood, usually 18 inches by 14 ½ inches, and is 1/4 inch thick. I typically paint the trigon with flat black paint, then I paint the design associated with the trigon over that background. The final painted design is then covered with a glossy transparent medium to protect it.

Planetary magick uses a very simple ritual structure that consists of a Rose Ankh Vortex with a central internal circle, where the trigon is placed. The Rose Ankh vortex is used as a kind of magnetic containment field that will powerfully attract any spirit or entity summoned. It is generated when the operator draws a Rose Ankh to each of the four Angles and the Infra-point (nadir), and then draws the four Angles together through the center of the circle. The operator completes the structure with a counter clockwise circumambulation around the circle, beginning in the center of the circle and proceeding outwardly, walking a spiral that transcribes the circle three times.

The operator then draws an inner circle in the center of the magick circle, makes the sign of the parting of the veil, and places the septagram trigon in the center. The talisman and sigil are placed in the center of the trigon, and the appropriate planetary incense is burned. Then the operator draws the invoking septagram for the specific planet with a wand, tracing the lines over the septagram trigon and completes the operation with an invoking spiral. At this point, the operator will intone the invocation of the planetary intelligence and summon it to manifest into the center of the circle.

Once the planetary intelligence has appeared and made itself known to the operator in some manner, she will then take the talisman, hold it in the air and draw the power of the planetary intelligence into it. The talisman is then consecrated with a special perfumed oil and wrapped in a colored cloth for a period of three days. If the talisman is to be given (or sold) to another person, then the sigil, which was used to summon the spirit, should be burned immediately following the three day waiting period, so as to ensure that the talisman will no longer be associated with the operator. (This can be done even if the talisman is to be used by the operator.) Often the planetary intelligence will communicate to the operator in the form of visions, or even after the working is completed, through dreams and impressions. In fact, the magician can use the invocation of a planetary archetype for the purpose of divination or crystal skrying. Anything that occurs to the mind or senses of the operator during or after the rite should be noted down in a magickal journal.

Planetary archetypes may be construed as being somewhat limited or too general in their practical use and employment. Often, the operator has to include some kind of specific sigil to focus the impact of the magick. However, there are a number of other magickal qualities that can use the planetary attributes. Thus, the magician deploy the planetary archetypes in combination with the four elements, or with the astrological quality of the zodiacal triplicities, or by combining them with other planets to produce a kind of binary planetary archetype. In the system that the Order of the Gnostic Star uses to perform theurgy, all seven of the planetary archetypes are invoked and qualified with a zodiacal sign, to produce a type of simplistic zodiacal natal chart that determines the personality of the spirit. This activated and empowered septagram, erected for a given spirit, acts as its dynamic intelligence, which is then joined with a four-fold elemental energy envelope that generates the body and mind of a spirit, as opposed to summoning it.

The following forces, intelligences and entities can be invoked using one of the above constructs. These different attributes are much more useful, since they are more varied (i.e., they have more elements) than if one were to just use the seven planetary archetypes.

Planetary Ruling Angel or Archangel of the Sephirah - the planetary ruling angel or the qabbalistic archangel represents a more ambitious theurgic methodology. Thus the planetary working becomes an angelic invocation rite instead.

Talismanic Elementals - Planetary archetype plus element: 28 elements - can be used analogously with the 28 Lunar Mansions.

Astrological Archangels/Spirits - Element plus astrological triplicity: 12 elements - useful for astrological magick. I use three of the lesser invoking hexagrams to represent the astrological triplicities.

Astrological Decans/Angelic Ruler - Element plus astrological triplicity plus ruling planet: 36 elements. This structure is the foundation for invoking the 72 angels of the ha-Shem and the goetic demons.

Bonarum (Good Spirits) - Binary Planetary Intelligences - Planetary archetype combined with another planetary archetype: 49 elements. These spirits are unique to the Enochian system of magick, but could be replicated elsewhere.

As you can see, there is quite a lot of variation based on the planetary archetypes in western occultism and the practice of magick. Talismanic magick is very useful in magickal workings, but the same methodology can be used to develop a generative system of theurgy and evocation.

If you are interested in engaging in a more in-depth research of planetary and astrological magick, then I can recommend the following books:

  • “Graeco-Egyptian Magick - Everyday Empowerment” by Tony Mierzwicki
  • “Ritual Magick Manual” by David Griffin
  • “Secrets of Planetary Magic 3rd Edition” by Christopher Warnock
  • “Planetary Magick” by Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips
  • “Practical Planetary Magick” by Sorita d'Este and David Rankine

One of the old grimoires associated specifically with planetary magick is the Arbatel, which was assembled in the early 17th century from writings associated with Paracelsus. Joseph Peterson has a wonderful new translation of this book that you can purchase it if want to work with it.

Finally, if you happen to live in the Twin Cities, there is a presentation on Planetary Magick at the forthcoming Paganicon, this weekend. My friend, Ananael, along with his associate (Michele), will be conducting a class on Planetary Magick on Saturday, March 26th at 1:00 pm in Courtyard 3. There will also be a demonstration of a Planetary Magick ritual that evening, at 8:00 pm, in the same room. As an aside, I will also be at Paganicon teaching classes on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. You can find a copy of the schedule here.

Frater Barrabbas


  1. As a brief update regarding my presentation, as it turns out Michele will not be able to make it so I'll be doing the presentation on my own. Also, I was informed a few days ago that the planetary magick ritual is now scheduled for 8:30 rather than 8:00 on Saturday.

    My take on planetary magick is substantially different from the one presented in this article, even though from a technical standpoint my methods are similar. I view planetary rituals as working directly with the macrocosmic forces of nature (hexagram = macrocosm), so I don't see them as limited to the psychological or even the archetypal realms. I also don't see why you would drawn a distinction between planetary magick and evocation - evoking the intelligences and spirits from Agrippa is one of the main planetary techniques that I and a lot of other magicians use.

    After this weekend I'll be putting up a transcript of my presentation over at Augoeides, so you'll be able to check it out and tell me what you think.

  2. @Ananael - Theurgy and Evocation are handled quite differently in the magickal system that I work than compared to either planetary magick or elemental magick. I guess that I am judging this based upon my own system and experience.

    Also, I define the macrocosmic level as being super-symbolic, in other words, it contains archetypes, but these impact us through our minds and our socio-cultural networks, so I think that we are looking at things in a very similar manner.

    I will be attending your afternoon class on Saturday, so I may have some perceptions and opinions posted early next week covering the whole Paganicon convention. See you this weekend.


  3. For those who are interested, I'm back from Paganicon and have the transcript of my Planetary Magick presentation posted on Augoeides. You can find it here.

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  6. Greetings Frater B!

    Have you done any rituals with the Behenian stars? If so, could you share the technique you used?

    I know they're used for talisman workings at specific election timings, using the corresponding seals, herbs and crystals. But I've also found sayings that they can also be used by conjuring their angels, although the source didn't provide the means by which that can be done.

    Thank you.

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