Why did the Golden Dawn employ the Placidus System of House? – Part 1

Figure 1. Placidus de Titus, a Olivetan monk, professor of mathematics, physics and astronomy, and astrologer.

The topic of Flying Roll XXIV is “On Horary Astrology”. This Flying Roll was written by Dr Berridge (also called V.H. Frater Resurgum) and focuses on demonstrating the technique of Horary Astrology, although is a very bare form. While reading the “Commentaries of the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls” it was noted that while Horary Astrology traditionally employed the Regiomontanus System of Houses, Dr Berridge used the Placidus System of Houses (1). In many other examples of the Golden Dawn’s use of Astrology, we see the use of the common Placidus System of Houses. So the question is, why did the Golden Dawn stick to this specific System when much of their influence stemmed from authors like William Lilly who specifically favoured the Regiomontanus System of Houses? Furthermore, what are the differences between Placidus and Regiomontanus?

I believe there are two main reasons why the Golden Dawn favoured Placidus over Regiomontanus and other systems. The first is more so accidental in that in the late 19th century, Placidus was the most widely published System of Houses, certainly in the United Kingdom. In his blog post,  astrologer Anthony Lewis describes how British Astrologers in the 17th century deliberately popularized Placidus as they firmly believed it accurately represented the original ideas of 2nd century Hellenistic Astrologer, Claudius Ptolemy (2). Furthermore, the creator of this system, Placidus De Titus (3), systematically had his writings banned by the Catholic Church. Any excuse for the Protestant Church of England to defy the Pope after the reformation! Prior to this, Regiomontanus was the most widespread System of Houses, which is a major reason it would appear in the works of William Lilly (4).

However, the writer of the Flying Roll, Dr Berridge, was probably well aware of the differences between Regiomontanus and Placidus, as he authored several papers on Astrology in the Golden Dawn, including some published in “Astrology of the Golden Dawn” (5). There has to be another reason why Berridge specifically chose this System of Houses over that promoted by William Lilly. In ceremonial magic, the concept of planetary days and hours are used to time rituals. The founders of the Golden Dawn were very much aware of this, gaining much influence from authors such as Cornelius Agrippa (6), or the Keys of Solomon (7). How do planetary hours relate to the Placidus System of Houses? It is actually surprisingly simple.

The ecliptic itself is defined by the apparent anticlockwise motion of the Sun through the twelve signs of the Zodiac over the period of one year from the reference from of an observer on Earth. In reality this is based on the annual motion of the Earth around the Sun. However, over the period of one day the Earth also spins on its axis. From the reference frame of the observer on Earth, the Sun also travels in a clockwise direction across the sky during the day and under the earth during the night. Much like the division of the ecliptic into Twelve sections (the Zodiac), the diurnal motion of the Sun as the Earth revolves sets up a set of 12 areas of the sky called Houses, six below the Earth and six above. On average, the Sun will take two hours to travel through a House, although the individual transit times are heavily based on the observers position on the planet and the time of year.

This is all interesting, but it still does not connect the Placidus System of House to the planetary hours. As the Sun rises in the morning on the eastern horizon (the degree of the Ascendant), it will enter the 12th House, as it rises towards the highest point in the sky, it will pass through the 11th  and 10th House and will reach the Cusp of the 10th House (the MC) when the sun reaches its highest point, See Figure 2. From then it will pass though the 9th, 8th and 7th Houses until it reaches the western horizon (the degree of the Descendant) and sets in the evening. It will continue it path though the rest of the Houses until it reaches the degree of the Ascendant the next morning. What is interesting is that the ingress of the Sun into each House corresponds to a new planetary hour exactly. Each transit of the Sun through a House encompasses exactly two planetary hours, see Figure 3. This might be the main rationale the Golden Dawn authors such as Dr Berridge had for employing the Placidus System of Houses.

Figure 2. (a) Sun’s position in the sky when it rises in the morning entering the 12th House. This motion is clockwise from the reference frame of the observer on Earth. (b) Hypothetical midday when the sun reaches its highest elevation in the sky coinciding the the degree of the MC.
Figure 3. Separation of the Placidus Houses into the planetary Hours. The lines extending from the outer circle represent new planetary hours as the Sun passes through the Houses. Notice how every 2nd planetary hour boundary coincides with a House cusp.

This may seem confusing at the moment but in the next blog posts I will elucidate this further.  In Part 2, I will show the physical difference and the similarities between the Regiomontanus and Placidus System of Houses with some nice pictures.


  1. The Golden Dawn Community. Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls. Dublin. Kerubim Press. 2003, pg. 296.
  2. Ptolemy, Claudius. Tetrabiblos. London, Davis and Dickson. 1822.
  3. The Placidus System of Houses is falsely attributed to Placidus De Titus. Many believe this was the system originally referenced by Claudius Ptolemy including 12th Century Astrologer Ibn Ezra.
  4. Lilly, William. Christian Astrology. London. John Macock. 1659.
  5. Brodie-Innes, John William, Astrology of the Golden Dawn. Edited by Darcy Kuntz. Holmes Publishing Group. Lynnwood, WA. 1996.
  6. Agrippa, Cornelius,. Tyson, Donald., and Freak, James. Three Books of Occult Philosophy. St. Paul, MN, U.S.A: Llewellyn, 1993.
  7. MacGregor Mathers, Samuel, L., The greater Key of Solomon. Chicago. De Laurence. 1914.

An Analysis of the Signification of the Moon from Vettius Valens’ Anthology Part 1.

Figure 1. The Moon

Continuing my series on the significations of the planets from the Anthology of Vettius Valens, I will now focus on the Moon. Much like in the post on the Sun, I will be using the translation from Mark Riley. However, the texts of Chris Brennan Robert Schmidt will be used from time to time. In Part 1 of the series on the Moon, I will focus on introducing preliminary considerations while future parts will cover the significations.

Valens initially focuses on the Sun followed by moon. In Hellenistic times the moon would have been associated with the Goddesses Selene, Artemis or Hekate amongst others (including the Roman Goddess Luna). The original Hellenistic name for the moon would have been Selene. Selene was the sister of Helios, the Greek deity associated with the Sun. Unlike Artemis and Hekate, Selene was considered the personification of the Moon itself. Interestingly enough, Selene’s other name was Mene, which can also mean “month”, the passage of time typically associated with the Moon. Commonly, Selene was depicted in images containing the crescent moon which is reminiscent of the High Priestess Tarot Card. Hekate is another interesting goddess associated with the Moon. Especially Her triple form mirroring the phases of the Moon and general inconsistency.

In Hellenistic Astrology, the Moon was said to be the Sect Light of the Nocturnal Sect (Ruling Venus and Mars) and a feminine planet itself reflecting the deities associated with it. Furthermore, the apparent “femininity” of the Moon reflects its ability to receive light from the “masculine” Sun. The Moon is domiciled in Cancer which reflects its watery and secure nature as well as its inconsistency (which will be touched upon in the next post).

In the Golden Dawn system of magic, the Moon was associated with the sphere of Yesod on the Tree of life and the Grade of Theoricus. The moon is also associated with spiritual being such as Gabriel, Lavanael, Chasmodai and the Olympic Spirit Phul.

Claudius Ptolemy in his Tetrabiblos said “Most of the moon’s power consists of humidifying” due to its proximity to the moist exhalations from the Earth. This is also evident from the feminine nature of Venus and its proximity to the Earth according to Ptolemy. Hence these two planets alone are considered feminine in Ptolemy’s scheme. Ptolemy further goes on to say that because of its proximity to the Earth “Its action therefore is …  to soften and cause putrefaction in bodies”. This line indicates the Moons direct involvement in bodily matters. This can be extended to appearance, the subconscious, raw emotions, fertility, etc. In Hellenistic Astrology, the Part of Fortune, which was heavily associated with the body, was calculated from the position of the Moon. Finally, Ptolemy says that the Moon “shares moderately also in heating power because of the light which it receives from the Sun”. This statement affirms the “masculine” and “feminine” nature of both planets. The Sun emits and the Moon receives. I always connected this statement with the phrase “God made man in his image”. While the Sun signifies the mind and the intellect, the Moon signifies the material body.

Figure 2 (a) The Ten Spheres of Assiah and (b) The Qabalistic Tree of Life.

In Hermetic Qabalah, the Sphere of the Moon is right above the Sphere of the Earth in both schemes shown in Figure 2. The name of the Sphere of the Moon on Tree of Life is Yesod, also called “Foundation”. It is connected to the Sphere of the Earth, Malkuth, through the path of Tau (Saturn), associated with completion and the Tarot card “The Universe” or “The World”.

As mentioned earlier, Hellenistic Astrology employs the rules of polar opposites. Specifically, with the Sun and the Moon. The Giving and receiving of light, the “masculinity” and “femininity” etc. It is also interesting to note the opposition of the Sun and Moon with the planet Saturn. If one were to look at the previous blog post I have written on the rationale of the dignities of the dignities of the planets, you would notice the direct opposition of the Sun and Moon in Leo and Cancer with Saturn in Capricorn and Aquarius. As Saturn is the furthest traditional planet from the Earth and the Sun, it was associated with cold and dryness. As opposed to the Sun and Moon which are Warm and moist respectively. Hence the Sun and Moon as associated with life and light, the Saturn with Death and darkness. The attribution of the Planets to the Hexagram in the GD system, one can also notice the opposition of the Moon to Saturn in this scheme (See Figure 3). Which this opposition with Saturn is evident, keep in mind the necessity of crossing the Path of tau between the Malkuth and Yesod in the Tree of Life.

Figure 3. Planetary attributions to the Hexagram

Valens says about the Moon:

“The moon, lit by the reflection of the sun’s light and possessing a borrowed light, in a nativity indicates man’s life, body, the mother, conception, <beauty>, appearance, sight, living together (i.e. legitimate marriage), nurture, the older brother, housekeeping, the queen, the mistress of the house, possessions, fortune, the city, the assembly of the people, gains, expenses, the household, voyages, travel and wanderings (it does not provide straight pathways because of Cancer). The moon rules the parts of the body as follows: the left eye, the stomach, the breasts, the breath, the spleen, the dura mater, the marrow (as a result it causes dropsy/moist syndromes). Of materials it rules silver and glass.”

In future posts, I will analyze each individual signification in turn.


Vettius Valens Anthology, translated by Mark Riley https://www.csus.edu/indiv/r/rileymt/Vettius%20Valens%20entire.pdf

Brennan, C., Hellenistic Astrology: A Study of Fate and Fortune, Denver, Amor Fati, 2017

Ptolomy, C. Tetrabiblios, translated by ASHMAND J. M., Book 1, Part 7, http://www.astrologiamedieval.com/tabelas/Tetrabiblos.pdf

Regardie, I., The Golden Dawn, 6th edition, St Paul. Llewellyn, 1989

Astrological Dignities from the Neophyte Knowledge Lecture Part 2.

In Part 1 of this series I gave a brief introduction to the dignities of the planets presented in the Neophyte Knowledge Lecture and a rationally as to the Domicile assignments of the planets. In this post I will discuss the Exaltations and Triplicities.

2. The Exaltations

Exaltations tend to follow Domiciles in importance. While an exaltation encompasses a whole sign, it is interesting to note that each one is strongest at a particular degree, e.g the Sun at 190 Aries. There is a general standardized series of exaltation degrees, however, not all sources agree exactly, but that is a topic for another post. For this we will just focus on the whole signs, see Figure 1.

Figure 1. The Exaltations

Planets in their exaltation are said to “be raised up” or “display more power”. The origin of these exaltations is not fully known however, it has been suggested they are inherited from previous Mesopotamian traditions. While the origins are obscure there are certain interesting correlations evident in the arrangement.

First, much like that shown with the Domiciles in the previous section, we can see rudimentary pairs of opposites.

The light and heat of the Sun is opposed to the cold darkness of Saturn.  Also, the Sun in Aries represents Winter turning into Spring while Saturn in Libra represents Summer turning into Autumn (Fall). It is well known that when the Sun enters Aries at the vernal equinox, the day start to get longer than the night as we approach the warm summer. Similarly, when the Sun enters Libra, the night gets longer then the day as we approach the cold winter.

At the Summer Solstice we have Jupiter in Cancer, representing life, abundance and vitality, while at the Winter Solstice we have Mars in Capricorn, representing death and decay. Finally, we can compare Venus and Mercury’s opposition much the same way we can with the Sephirothic Spheres in Qabalah with a balance of Desire and Intellectualism. The moon does not appear to have a diametrically opposing planet.

Another interesting correlation is regarding the Domiciles from Part 1 of this series. This requires a basic understanding of aspects which will be covered in another blog post. But for the moment assume that there are two main positive aspects, the Trine and the Sextile. The Trine is 1200 or 5 signs apart while the Sextile is 600 or three signs apart. Furthermore, the in Hellenistic Astrology, the planets are said to be separated into Diurnal (Sun, Jupiter and Saturn) and Nocturnal (Moon, Venus and Mars) planets. If you compare the Exaltations with the Domiciles from Part 1 of this series for the diurnal planets, you will notice the exalted signs are Trine to one of the planets houses. For example, Jupiter exalted in Cancer is Trine to Jupiter domiciled in Pisces.  Similarly, the Exaltations with the Domiciles for the nocturnal planets have a sextile aspect. For example, Mars exalted in Capricorn is Sextile with Mars domiciled in Scorpio. This is consistent across all planets. It may be an interesting exercise to do yourself!

3. The Triplicities

In the Neophyte Knowledge Lecture, one is given a very basic attribution of the Planets to the four Elemental Triplicities. This encompassed each Element being assigned 2 planets with Mars solely being assigned to the Element of Water. However, in much Occult literature, each Element is assigned one Diurnal planet and one Nocturnal planet, and the planet Venus is assigned to the Element of Water with Mars. Furthermore, A third cooperating planet is assigned to each Element. See Figure 2 for a summary of this.

Figure 2 The Planetary Triplicities

While the Neophyte does not need to memorize the whole table, it is necessary to study its origin to understand the Golden Dawn attribution. The Triplicities may have their origin in a Hellenistic teaching tool similar to that shown for the Domicile attribution in Part 1, called the “Planetary Joys”. But rather than being focused on the Zodiac signs, the Joys are based in the 12 Houses.

I mentioned House systems in the previous part of the series. While the topic of Houses is for another post, I will just provide a quick summary. While the Zodiac is dependent on the motion of the Earth around the Sun, the Houses is dependent on the motion of the Earth around its axis, otherwise called “diurnal motion”. While the Zodiac Signs represent certain energy the planets experience, the Houses represent the areas of lives these experiences manifest. Much like the Domiciles and Exaltations are the Zodiac signs where the planets are the strongest, the Planetary Joys are the Houses where the planets are the strongest and give significations to. For example, Venus has her Joy in the 5th House, which would explain why the 5th House is associated with pleasure. The origin of the Planetary Joys is a topic for another blog post when I deal directly with the origin of 12 Houses. See Figure 2 for a diagram of the Joys in the 12 Houses. Note that the 1st House, also called the Ascendant is the part of the sky on the eastern horizon and is always displayed at the eastern point of charts.

Figure 3. The Planetary Joys

According to the works of Aristotle, each element had a natural tendency to either travel up or down. This was the basis of his doctrine of “natural place”. In this schematic Fire rises the highest with Air right below. The Earth is at the lowest point with Water renting above. This gives rise to the following order from highest to lowest: Fire, Air, Water Earth. This ordering was adopted by many philosophical schools so as in Hermeticism. However, the student of the Golden Dawn system can spot the difference between this ordering and that of says the Grade structures.

At this point one may spot three things from Figure 3. a) If we place Fire at the highest part of the chart, we can see that it lines up with Fire planets from Figure 2, the Sun and Jupiter. b) Similarly, if we place Earth at the lowest part of the chart, we can see that it lines up perfectly with the Earth planets from Figure 2. c) The Air Triplicity can be attributed to the eastern side of the chart while the Water Triplicity can be attributed to the western side of the chart.

One may wonder why Air is to the east and Water is to the West. The rationale for this can be derived from the diurnal motion. In general, astrological charts, while planets follow an anti-clockwise motion relative to the planets, the 12 Houses tend to follow a clockwise motion. Imagine the wheel in Figure 3 turning clockwise. The eastern part of the chart is essentially moving up towards the horizon similar to how Air rises up below Fire from Aristotle’s theory. Similarly, the western part of the charts moves down toward the bottom of the chart like the water resting on the earth. This could be the rationale for the assignment of Mercury and Saturn to Air, and Mars to Water.

The next question might be, why the nocturnal, diurnal and cooperating planets? First, notice how except for Mercury, all diurnal planets are on the top of the chart while the nocturnal planets are below (referring back to the attribution mentioned in the Exaltations section above). Therefore, we can assign the top half as diurnal and the bottom as nocturnal.

For Diurnal elements (Fire and Air), the most diurnal planet is considered the diurnal ruler while the other is considered the nocturnal ruler. Hence, for Fire, the Sun is the Diurnal Ruler and Jupiter is the Nocturnal Ruler, and for Air, Saturn is the Diurnal Ruler and Mercury is the Nocturnal Ruler. The closest unused planet is considered the cooperating ruler. Hence Saturn for Fire and Jupiter for Air.

For the Nocturnal Elements (Earth and Water), the most Nocturnal Planet is Nocturnal Ruler and the other planet is the Diurnal Ruler. Hence for the Earth Element we have the Moon as the Nocturnal Ruler and Venus as the Diurnal Ruler.

One may now see why the Golden dawn attribution only has Mars for the Water Triplicity. However, other sources claim that since Venus is also a nocturnal planet and closest to Mars, it is the Diurnal Ruler of the Water Triplicity with the Moon being the cooperating Ruler.

This may seem like a lot of information to grasp at once by careful study and meditation will facilitate understanding. For more information on these organs, consult the work of Astrologers Chris Brennan or Demetra George. Similarly, the works of Hellenistic Astrologers such as Vettius Valens, Dorotheus of Sidon, Claudius Ptolemy, Firmicus Maternus etc. can give you first hand information

Astrological Dignities from the Neophyte Knowledge Lecture Part 1.

In this blog post and the next, I will be discussing the rationale behind the dignities presented in the Neophyte Knowledge lecture from the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Traditionally, when one completes the Neophyte degree, they are given five subjects to memorize perfectly in order to advance.

These are:

  1. The names and symbols of the four elements,
  2. The names, symbols and elemental attributions to the 12 zodiac signs,
  3. The names, symbols, zodiacal dignities of the seven planets,
  4. The Hebrew Alphabet and
  5. The names of 10 Qabalistic Sephirot.

For the rest of this post, I will focus on dignities of the seven planets. These dignities have diverse origins but in the Hellenistic period, a grand total of five “essential dignities” were standardized.

These are:

  1. The Houses or Domiciles
  2. The Exaltations
  3. The Triplicites
  4. The Decanates
  5. The Bounds or Terms

In the astrology presented to the Neophyte, only the houses, domiciles and triplicities are required for study. The decanates come in a later grade when studying the minor arcana of the tarot, while the bounds do not appear at all. Note that these dignities are called “Essential Dignities” as they essentially do not change. They are inherent to the zodiacal wheel. On the other hand, there are a series of “Accidental Dignities” which are not inherent to the zodiacal wheel and will appear in another Knowledge Lecture (and subsequent post).

Initially when first reading the Knowledge Lecture of the Neophyte, it may seem confusing as to the attribution of the planets to particular signs. No rationale or pattern is provided. It is essentially a case of just memorizing the dignities as presented. Let us look more deeply into the origin of these three dignities. This may help the aspiring Neophyte memorize and understand the dignities better and open up the mind for further meditation. Quite a lot of these rationales may have only been brought to light recently due to the translations and study of many Hellenistic astrological texts.

  1. The Houses or Domiciles

While the term “House” is used in modern astrology, the term “Domicile” may be more apt, as it can be confused another astrological doctrine also called the houses. These are presented in a future knowledge lecture and will be discussed in a future blog post.

The general idea is that each planet has either one or two zodiacal signs that they feel “at home” in. A sign in which they feel most comfortable and able to produce their significations naturally. They are essentially the signs where that planet is the strongest. In the Neophyte lecture, these may seem like a random assignment with no discernible pattern.

To make this more understandable, the Hellenistic astrologers had a teaching Tool called the “Thema Mundi” which can be translated as the “Birthchart of the World” or the “Nativity of God”, see Figure 1. 

Figure 1. The Thema Mundi

Both luminaries (the sun and the moon) are assigned to Cancer and Leo respectively. Next Mercury is assigned to Virgo. The rationale behind involves Mercury’s position in the sky. Each sign of the Zodiac occupies 300 of the ecliptic. As Mercury is so close to the sun, it never strays more than one sign away from the Sun. Similarly, Venus’s position in Libra is due to Venus never straying more than two signs from the Sun. Next Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are attributed to Scorpio, Sagittarius and Capricorn as they are the next planets that progress in natural and Chaldaic order from the Sun.

To account for the rest of the attributions, the story goes that the Sun moved into sign of Virgo and the heat was so over-bearing, Mercury moved as far away from the sun as he could to Gemini. Next, the Sun moved to Libra and Venus moved as far away as she could to Taurus. Similarly, the Sun moved onwards, and Mars, Jupiter and Saturn moved to Aries, Pisces and Aquarius respectively.

One probably notices this leads to a symmetry of the Houses starting with the luminaries at Cancer and Leo with each of the planets in order from the Sun spanning out on each side. The two final signs, Capricorn and Aquarius, occupied by Saturn. This can lead to very basic interpretative principles based on polar opposites. The Light of the luminaries opposes to the cold darkness of the Saturn. This can be extended to the other planets such as the obvious dichotomy between Mars and Venus. Even the opposing ideas of Jupiter and Mercury can be examined such as that of long and short journeys.

One might wonder why of the luminaries, the Sun is attributed to Leo and the Moon to Cancer, and not the other way around. This basic attribution could simply be derived from Leo being a Fire Sign and Cancer being a Water Sign.

One may also wonder why this system starts at Cancer as opposed to Aries as demonstrated in modern Astrology. There are a few theories, but I favor the theory that it is related to Cancer rising over the Eastern Horizon every year when the Nile flooded.

In part 2 of this series, I will discuss the known origins of the Exaltations and Triplicities.

An Analysis of the Signification of the Sun from Vettius Valens’ Anthology Part 3

In Part 1, I discussed many different archetypal ideas related to the Astrological Sol, including references from Ptolemy, the Qabalah, ceremonial magic and astronomical observation. In part 2 I provided rationales for about half of the significations. Here I will continue the rest of them. Refer to Part 1 blog for images and information.


This signification is also a signification for Jupiter. While Jupiter may indicate judgement through fairness and balance (Jupiter being the Greater Benefit and the balance between the two Malefics in the Ptolemaic scheme of planetary temperaments), the sun may indicate judgement from someone who is in charge when aspected to Jupiter on in his domiciles, like a king or a dictator.

public reputation”

As the sun is the most notable astrological planet in the sky, I believe this is self-explanatory.


In the Greek text, this is quoted as “praxis”, which is just a simple action, it is more based on what one does in life, such as career or life purpose. This term is also a signification of the 10th House, which is the most public house, signifying career and potentially life purpose. This may be fitting as the sun is the most visible astrological planet.

 “authority over the masses”

 I relate this signification back to what was said for “kingship, rule”. Contrast this to the signification for the Moon, “gathering of the masses”.

the father”

The sun is masculine, and it emits energy. I relate this to what was said earlier about passing through the fertile Lunar spheres. Compare to the Moon signification, “the mother”.

the master”

Refer to ”kingship, rule” in part 2.


In my own personal opinion, I believe this may be more focused on friendships with important people or those in high positions, celebrities etc. given its proximity to “noble personages” and in relation to other significations of sol.

“noble personages”

In Brennan, this is quotes as “notable persons”. Much like the sun can overshadow the view of the other planets, this can signify people of note, such as celebrities.

“honours consisting of pictures, statues”

This signification may only be relevant if aspected to Venus or domiciled in one of her houses. Traditionally, portraits and statues were the luxury or the rich and people noteworthy.


This signification may also be relevant if aspected to Venus or domiciled in one of her houses. However, in Brennan this is quoted as “crowns of high office” which may not require a Venus connection.

“high priesthoods, <rule over> one’s country <and over> other places”

This signification may also be relevant if aspected to Jupiter or domiciled in one of his houses. It can be otherwise related back to “kingship” over religious institutions etc.

“Of the parts of the body, the sun rules the head”

This is an obvious connection to Aries (where the Sun is exalted), which rules the head.

“of the sense organs, it rules the right eye”

This can be related to the “all-seeing sun”. In many occult schools, the right eye is associated with the sun while the left, the moon.

“of the trunk, it rules the heart”

This is an obvious connection to Leo (where the Sun is domiciled), which rules the heart. Furthermore, when projecting the Qabalistic Tree of life onto the human body, Tiphareth represents the Heart.

“of the spiritual (i.e. the perceptive) faculties, the nerves”

Consciousness and the ego and by extension the nerves that cause us to perceive.

“Of materials, it rules gold”

In Qabalah and Alchemy, the sun and gold always go hand in hand. This colour of the Sun may heavily influence this.

“of fruits, it rules wheat and barley”

Probably in the times this test was written, fruit whet and barley were basic essential foods. Foods which provide vitality and energy, much like sol itself in astrology.

An Analysis of the Signification of the Sun from Vettius Valens’ Anthology Part 2

Fig 1. I’m sure you already know what this is 😉

In the previous blog, I discussed many different archetypal ideas related to the Astrological Sol, including references from Ptolemy, the Qabalah, ceremonial magic and astronomical observation. Here I will discuss the individual significations outlined in Valens’ Anthology. Refer to the previous blog for images and information.

“The all-seeing sun”

This phrase is self-explanatory. The sun sees all! Even at night time the light from the sun is reflected off the moon (except at a lunar eclipse, which is another topic onto itself). It is also interesting to note that in the Qabalistic Tree of Life, there is a path connecting the Tiphareth (Sphere of the Sun) to every other planetary Sephirah. Also note how the glyph for the sun resembles an eye.

In the 31st path of the Golden Dawns’ Practicus Ritual relates a interesting dialogue between Kasmillos to the three Karbiri in Hellenistic Greece. The 1st Kabir, Axieros said

“I am the apex of the Pyramid of Flame. I am the Solar Fire pouring forth its beams upon the lower World – Life-giving, Light-producing.”

Fig 2 The Kibiri in Greek Mythology

This quote amongst the rest of the dialogues are taken from the “Zoroastrian Oracles” translated by Westcott.

This path from the Golden Dawn rituals is related to the card in the Tarot called “The Sun”.

“nature’s fire”

Of the four elements, the element of Fire is most fitting for the Sun. The element of fire is the most subtle element and can be associated with energy, life force, vitality and growth. The sun is the source of all life.

intellectual light”

As with that shown for the “all seeing eye”, Axieros continues on about the “intellectual fire”. I believe the topic of the Kabirs is a subject for a separate blog post in the near future!

However, read the entry on  “intellect, intelligence” below.

 “the organ of mental perception”

In Brennan’s book, the translation “the instrument of the perception of the soul” is used. It is interesting to note that in the Tree of Life Diagram, the middle pillar demonstrates this principle. Above the Sphere of the sun is the path leading to Kether, the sphere of the Higher Soul. In Qabalistic teaching, this is the only part of you that can say “I am” exemplified by the God name in Kether “Eheieh”.  In the Golden Dawn Neophyte ceremony, one is meant to make a connection with their “Higher self” who resides in Kether through their Tiphareth.

 “kingship, rule”

These significations obviously relate to the idea that the sun is the king of the planets and the connection with deities who were considered “Kings”. Furthermore, the sun is domiciled in Leo the Lion, the King of the Jungle. However, this can be thought of as anyone at the top of a command structure, a president, an emperor, etc. Contrast this with the signification Moon, the Queen. “rule” is a natural progression of this signification, leading to any form of leadership. 

“intellect, intelligence”

Intuitively, one would assume these significations to fall under the planet Mercury. However, closer study reveals that Mercury is the transmission of information in all manners. The actual seat of the intellect is the Sun. Brennan also includes the term “mind” here. This concept may be related to the idea of “the all-seeing sun”, not filtered by senses etc. 


In the Qabalistic Tree of Life, Tiphareth literally translates as “beauty”. In Brennan, this is quoted as “form”.


I relate this signification back to the fire element associated with the Sun. Fire is the source of energy and energy is the source of motion.

“loftiness of fortune”

In more material matters, the sun is associated with the metal Gold. Which symbolically at least, is the most valuable metal. Even in more material alchemy, it was the goal of the alchemist to transmute lead into gold.

the ordinance of the gods”

In Brennan, this is quoted as “dealings with the Gods”. Similar to what was said above about “intelligence, intellect” one might assume this is associated with Mercury. However, as Mercury was the transmission of information, it too could also represent the methods of which one has dealings with the Gods. Therefore, the Sun could signify one’s dealings with the Gods with out the use of an intermediary method such as astrology or mediumship. This is one of the goals connecting with the Higher Soul as mentioned earlier. Perhaps if the sun was well aspected with Mercury or one of Mercury’s houses, this could indicate one’s own use of a “Mercurial” method to deal with the Gods.

I will continue this list of significations  in Part 3.

An Analysis of the Signification of the Sun from Vettius Valens’ Anthology Part 1.

Figure 1. The Sun’ surface

The purpose of these blog post is to analyse the significations of the Sun given by Vettius Valens in his Anthology. For this, I will be primarily focusing on the version translated by Mark Riley as it is available online for anyone to download (1). However, I will be borrowing from other translations as need be, specifically that from Chris Brennan’s book on Hellenistic Astrology (2). This is Part 1, an introduction and preliminary considerations. Part 2 and Part 3 will focus on the individual significations themselves.

Currently, Valens’ (who lived about the second century CE) text is one of the most comprehensive sources of technical information on Hellenistic Astrology. I personally find it a very interesting resource on traditional significations of the seven planets.

Initially, Valens focuses on the Sun, Sol or Helios, as it was called in Hellenistic times. Helios (3) was commonly depicted as wearing a crown or a halo on his head and riding a chariot of four horses through the sky. As a solar deity, he was considered the source of life and creation. It is also interesting to note that Helios was brother to Selene, the Goddess of the Moon. Other solar deities which may influence the signification of the sun in astrology are Ra, Sol Invictus, Apollo and Jesus Christ.

In Hellenistic astrology, Sol was said to be the sect light of the diurnal sect (4). Sects were essentially two factions of planets whose strengths were dependent on whether it was day or night. These factions were led by the sect lights: The sun for the diurnal sect and Luna for the nocturnal sect. Furthermore, the sun was said to be masculine (5). This masculinity can be seen in the deities it represents coupled with its nature to emit heat.

In Tetrabiblios, Claudius Ptolemy claims the “active power of the sun’s essential nature is found to be heating and, to a certain degree, drying” (5). This temperate nature is probably due to the extreme heat of Sol being balanced by the “moist exhalations” of the earth leading to its creative power. In Hellenistic Astrology, it seemed the feminine and moist planets, namely the Moon and Venus were heavily associated with fertility (5). Alternatively, the rays of Sol may be mediated by the moist nature of the moon (or even Venus) as they pass through. This rationale can be seen in the Qabalah in two ways.

Figure 2 (a) The Ten Spheres of Assiah and (b) The Qabalistic Tree of Life.

First, if one were to study the Ten Spheres of Assiah in Figure 2 (a), one would notice that the Sphere of Luna (Levanah), is right above the Sphere of the Elements (Cholem Yesodoth)(6). Right above the Sphere of the Moon are, the Spheres of Mercury (Kokab), Venus (Nogah) and the Sun (Shemesh). Therefore, influence from Sol must pass through all the feminine and moist spheres, Venus and Luna. Furthermore, if Mercury is an evening star (setting after Sol in the evening (7)) is can be said to take on a feminine and moist nature. Second, if one were to look at the Qabalistic Tree of Life (Figure 2 (b)) specifically used in ceremonial magic etc. one would notice the linear nature of the Spheres of Earth (Malkuth), the Moon (Yesod) and the Sphere of the Sun (Tiphareth) along the middle pillar (8). 

Ptolemy further goes on to state that “This [nature] is made more easily perceptible in the case of the sun than any other heavenly body by its size and by the obviousness of its seasonal changes, for the closer it approaches to the zenith the more it affects us in this way” (5). I believe this phrase is obvious in that there is no other object in existence that is vital for life, growth, time and evolution. 

Valens specifically says this about Sol:

“In a nativity the all-seeing sun, nature’s fire and intellectual light, the organ of mental perception, indicates kingship, rule, intellect, intelligence, beauty, motion, loftiness of fortune, the ordinance of the gods, judgement, public reputation, action, authority over the masses, the father, the master, friendship, noble personages, honours consisting of pictures, statues, and garlands, high priesthoods, <rule over> one’s country <and over> other places. Of the parts of the body, the sun rules the head; of the sense organs, it rules the right eye; of the trunk, it rules the heart; of the spiritual (i.e. the perceptive) faculties, the nerves. Of materials, it rules gold; of fruits, it rules wheat and barley.” (8)

In Part 2 and Part 3, I will go through all these significations in detail and relate them to what was described above.

(1) Vettius Valens Anthology, translated by Mark Riley https://www.csus.edu/indiv/r/rileymt/Vettius%20Valens%20entire.pdf

(2) Brennan, C., Hellenistic Astrology: A Study of Fate and Fortune, Denver, Amor Fati, 2017, pp 168-169

(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helios

(4) Ptolomy, C. Tetrabiblios, translated by ASHMAND J. M., Book 1, Part 7, http://www.astrologiamedieval.com/tabelas/Tetrabiblos.pdf

(5) Ibid, Book 1 Part 4.

(6) Regardie, I., The Golden Dawn, 6th edition, St Paul. Llewellyn, 1989, p 63.

(7) Brennan, C., Hellenistic Astrology: A Study of Fate and Fortune, Denver, Amor Fati, 2017, pp 205-206.

(8) Vettius Valens Anthology, translated by Mark Riley, pp 1, https://www.csus.edu/indiv/r/rileymt/Vettius%20Valens%20entire.pdf