This post is the result of some personal explorations in the realm of astrology, where I was attempting to get a more intuitive understanding of the role of each of the planets.
My feeling has always been that, if astrology works, then it should be possible to find some (relatively) objective correspondences between the actual solar system and astrological interpretations of the planets. And I found that I could indeed make some connections, and more so, that there is a rather sensible way of dividing up the planets in different groups or ‘spheres of influence’ based on their position in the solar system. These groups are the ‘realms of existence’ from druidic cosmology: arbred, gwynvyd and ceugant.
I also added in links to the Kabbalistic tree of life (mainly because I found that it also helped me to clarify that system somewhat for myself). However, as I am very much a non-expert myself, be aware that my observations are mostly that, observations, and a way to fit the whole thing into a narrative that has the advantage that at least I am able to remember it 🙂
Are you ready then, to join me on a journey through the solar system? (Also, do recall that in astrology, a ‘planet’ is an object that moves visibly across the sky – so yes that makes the moon and the sun into planets.)
Let us then begin by examining the planets which are placed on the lower positions of the Tree of Life system: the moon, venus and mercury.
When I tried to meditate with these planets, the impression I got was that they all represented different ways in which the light of the sun was received, filtered and worked with. This is actually not surprising, considering the place of earth within the solar system: the planets between earth and sun are precisely the three I listed above: moon, mercury and venus.
You can think of the sun as a cauldron that takes the pure spirit substance of kether and emanates it into the world (in celtic mythology: think of the cauldron of existence at the center of Annwn). Now, that light needs to reach the earth and be brought into form and manifestation. In order to do that, there are different lenses through which it may pass.
There’s the moon, which is the one that is closest to us (earth), and hence most strongly influenced by our own inner state of being. To visualize how the light is being received through the moon, think of yourself as being under water. The light you get is diffracted, and if the water is not entirely pure, the light can appear a bit smoothed out. The light is indirect: story and personal interpretation, coloured by our subconscious
Then somewhat farther away, there’s two ‘real’ planets in between earth and moon: mercury and venus. Of these two, mercury is the one that is the closest to the sun. What that implies is that the light must be limited in order to be able to see anything, as looking directly at the sun will only serve to blind you. So, think of this ancient system of the camera obscura (the principle behind photography): you put yourself/the observer within a darkened room with a tiny hole in the ceiling, which allows a single shaft of light to shine through. By observing that light and the picture it creates on the floor, you can ‘capture’ reality by photographing it, i.e. understanding it at the intellectual level and communicating it through our human ‘camera obscura’ which is language.
Venus, being a planet that has a much less solid outer crust than earth, sees and interacts with the fire of the sun in a more direct way than earth: fire and fire form a kind of volcanic dance. To bring that into a metaphor that is relevant to us, think of the rays of the sun as forming a framework in the sky, like a rack that a vine can then use as support to climb upwards.
These are essentially the three ways in which the sunlight is “given shape” from an earthly perspective: through imagination, through language and through physical interaction and art. What is at the center, the soul of everything should be the sun-light, as the emanation of the divine that illuminates our solar system.
And we can also use this model to understand the shadow side of the tree (called Qlippoth in Kaballah). We enter the dark side when we start misunderstanding the source of the light, and instead put our own human ego as the center of everything. Then suddenly nihilistic scientism reigns, and we start thinking we own the earth, are the true creator of things and have the right to shape everything purely for our own ends. And if we mistake the source of the light that illuminates the moon… well, the word lunacy says it all really.
For the other planets, we will be turning our back to the sun and start looking outwards towards the bigger solar system. Now the sun still illuminates us, but in a different way. We have her at our back, so we can make use of her light as direct guidance, rather than needing additional lenses to avoid being blinded. And so we can begin exploring infinity and the divine source…
The next three planets are Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
Mars is the last of the personal planets, and also the last of the rocky planets. And so I have equated the part of the solar system containing these planets with Arbred (yes, the sun is of a somewhat different category, but could be seen as something similar to the cauldron of existence sitting at the center.)
In Kaballah and astrology, this planet (and Geburah) represents a kind of break-out energy that you could see as that power which is necessary for ideas to come into manifestation.
Jupiter, the next planet, is the one which I, based on meditation experiences, have come to associate with our personal higher purpose, as that steering gravitational force that will make it so that our lives have a tendency to revolve around certain themes. (It is usually associated with luck and good fortune, but I like to think about it as the place that holds the ‘eggs’ at the core of our (higher?) selves, the seed from which we grow into a tree during our lifetimes – and different acorns may produce different-looking trees, but they will all have the basic characteristics of an oak tree in common.)
Now, I found it interesting to note that there is an asteroid belt separating Mars and Jupiter, which holds only relatively small objects, and ‘failed planets’, that were never be able to form properly due to the strong influence of the gravitational field of jupiter. Mars is the closest proper rock-planet that managed to form, and hence it is rather fitting that it is associated with the fighter-properties it has: in animistic terms, that would probably correspond with the experiences that were at play during its formation, and hence the core of its psyche.
Jupiter and the other outer planets are gas giants, and hence of a less ‘material’ nature than the previous planets, which is why, in my graph, I have placed them in the spirit realm of Gwynvyd: Jupiter as sort of the way karma plays out for us personally, and Saturn as the more general ‘laws of nature’: the forces that begin to be truly transpersonal and also affect Jupiter itself.
As we move outwards even further, the next planet we encounter is Uranus. It is said to be associated with sudden ideas and revolution. In my meditations I experienced it as the place where awen enters the world (and every revolution begins with that lightning flash that strikes down the tower). And so I have placed it at the boundary between Gwynvyd and the outer realm of the divine, where it corresponds to the barrier between divine soul and spirit world, in the same way as mars and the asteroid belt mark the boundary between the spirit world and the world of physical manifestation.
Outside of that, we find Neptune and Pluto. Neptune is the planet which also in the Kaballah Tree of Life is associated with the divine source of Kether, so that fits nicely. Pluto is a bit of a different case, that doesn’t really fit in, but then isn’t that the whole point of pluto? (Also in our solar system, where all other planets lie more or less in the same plane, pluto has a bit of a mind of its own, and follows a different kind of trajectory.)