There are few people today that don’t know the planets are not stars, that they are solid or gas bodies that circle the same star as we do, that their light is the reflection of the sun’s light, not light of their own. But in ancient times, this wasn’t known. They looked like very bright stars, but they didn’t move like stars, they changed location against the backdrop over time, giving them the name planetes in Greek, Wanderers.
There were five Wanderers, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Neptune and Uranus and the other bodies beyond Saturn are not easy to find if you don’t know they’re there, as they move against the stars so slowly and are so dim. The sky was populated by the myriad stars, the Five Wanderers, the Moon, and the Sun. Seven bodies that wander against a backdrop of stars.
There is a god in Greek mythology worth noting here, Astraeus. He is the Dusk, and his wife is Eos (or, Aurora), the Dawn. Their children are what is to note here. The stars, the Wanderers, and the Winds. And Eos’ brother, Helios, is the Sun, and sister, Selena, is the Moon. The connection of the winds to the Wanderers and stars is significant, but I won’t address that here.
Astraeus was a Titan, god of astronomy and all things in the sky. His either sun of Krios (the Ram, Aries, and the Pillar of the South, Aries rising in the South in Summer, beginning of the Greek year) and Eurybia (mastery of the sea, sailing, navigation), or of Tartaros (underworld) and Gaea (earth), depending on the source.
The Wanderers are often used in magic and workings in many traditions. Anyone who has studied anything about Western Astrology will find quickly that the location of the planets against the backdrop of the Zodiac is very important in Western Astrology, both their current position and their position at the time you were born. Ceremonial magic and much of modern witchcraft (heavily influenced by ceremonial magic and by the grimoire tradition) work with not just the location against the stars and the time of rising and setting, but with the days and hours they are said to rule. This is the main discussion I’d like to address in this article.
Now, Grimr is founded on personal observation more than anything, so the position against the stars, and the position in the sky and rising and setting are of importance to me, but the days and hours they rule less so. I will come back to this after we look at the details of the ruling planet system below. Do note this is a brief summary, not exhaustive, and that I don’t necessary know all the details so may misrepresent or misstate details. So, as always, do your own research if this speaks to you, figure it out yourself and how to use it, and experiment to see how it works for you. The below is a summary of concepts, not a reference for workings.
As I discussed above, there are seven moving objects against the backdrop of the stars, the Wanderers, the Moon, and the Sun.
The sun and moon are often focused on when looking back at ancient religions and traditions. We often look at them as Solar Cults or Lunar Cults, and talk of the struggle between matriarchal Lunar cults and patriarchal Solar cults. This of course breaks down, as there are plenty of cultures with solar goddesses and lunar gods. It also breaks down as you begin to analyze the stellar elements of the “Solar” and “Lunar” cults. But we won’t go there now.
The remaining five objects, the Wanderers, are of course our subject. We have what are today named Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. These names are of course the Roman names, but the choices are a bit odd, as patterns between them are missing. Saturn was the head of the Roman Titans, Kronos of the Greeks. He was overthrown by the Olympians, led by Jupiter, Zeus of the Greeks. But Venus and Mars, the goddess of beauty and love and the god of war are a different pattern from the first. And finally, Mercury, Hermes of the Greeks, the messenger of the gods.
The above description of Saturn and Jupiter was translated onto the two from Greek myth. Jupiter was Saturn’s son, but the overthrow was missing in Etruscan and Roman myth before the bringing in of Greek myth. There are two versions, one of Saturn ruling Rome or Italy and being overthrown by Janus, the other of Janus ruling and Saturn being overthrown by Jupiter in Greece and coming to Italy as a fugitive. In the latter, he brought agriculture with him, introducing it to Italy. He is a god of agriculture, and a law giver, bringing order to the fauns and nymphs of the hills of Italy. Saturn had two consorts, Ops, Greek Rhea, goddess of wealth, abundance, and resources, and Lua, goddess of destruction, dissolution, and loosening. These show Saturn’s two sides, on one side, as god of agriculture, he creates and provides, on the other, he destroys.
Jupiter is also Jove. He was the twin of Juno, his wife, Hera of the Greeks. He was the god of the sky, or specifically of storms. Numa Pompilius, born on the day of Rome’s founding and elected King after Romulus’ death, when bad weather threatened to ruin the harvest, got Picus and Faunus to assist him and evoked Jupiter. He made a deal with Jupiter for a shield to protect from lightening, in exchange for sacrifices. This is a basis for the sacrificial laws in Rome. The Ides of each month, the midpoint, were sacred to him. This is important, as the month was a lunar month originally, and the Ides are the Full Moons. His consort, Juno, is protector and councilor of the Roman state. The symbolism and a shield and of protector of Rome should not be ignored.
Mars, the god of war, does have a connection with Jupiter. The earliest triad was Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus, later changed to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. Quirinus is the Wielder of the Spear, and was later used as an epithet for Janus. Quirinus was probably the god of war of the Sabines, the people Numa was of, who joined with Romulus and Remes’ people for the Roman state. The month of March is named for Mars. Minerva was born of Jupiter alone, from his forehead, but Mars was born of Juno alone, using a magic flower. March was the first month in the Roman calendar, the the first of March, Mars’ birthday, was the day for honouring childbirth. Mars is not the destructive masculine force Ares is usually seen as, but a god of military strategy, of defending of agriculture, and of plant life. Ares is said to be the father of Romulus and Remus.
Venus is not quite the same as Greek Aphrodite. She is, as Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, sex, and fertility, but also of prosperity and victory. There’s a martial aspect to her, as with all of the above. The connection to Roman is interesting, as myth says her son was Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and came to Italy. Romulus and Remus claim descent from him, through their human mother. She was born of sea foam, so had no parents, unless you argue Neptune to be the sea itself. Her month is April, and her day is April 1. She is a goddess of vegetation, also a common thread above, in relation to fertility. In some myths, Ares is her consort, in others Vulcan. But it’s interesting to note that early myths describe the planet Venus, the Morning and Evening Star, as Lucifer and Vesper. But Lucifer was said to be as beautiful as Venus, and later, Venus is used for the Wanderer.
Mercury, the messenger of the gods, the god of travelers, boundaries, commerce, financial gain, poetry, eloquence, communication, divination, luck, trickery, and thieves. He is the son of Jupiter and Maia. He was mediator between man and the gods. His feast was May 15th, the Ides of May. The progression of March for Mars, April for Venus, and Mercury’s day in May is interesting. It’s easy to see his importance in Roman, as mediator.
Most of the world has a seven day week. This becomes fairly logical when you look at older cultures. Each Moon cycle is about 28 days. If you measure from the Dark Moon to the First Half Moon, from the Half to the Full Moon, from the Full to the Second Half Moon, and from the Half to the Dark Moon, you find four periods of approximately seven days. Seven becomes a natural division point within each Moon, each Month, four seven-day weeks. There’s no proof this is the origin, but there’s logic to it based on observation. Other cultures used five-day and ten-day weeks, but these have faded from use in most places. But Western Astrology, and most Western Mystery, Esoteric, and Occult traditions, and most Western religions (including Middle Eastern) grew up in or evolved into a seven day week. The correspondences we are discussing are within that system.
The number seven for the number of days in the week and the number seven for the seven moving objects is an easy connection. Each day became dedicated to one of these, or more accurately, named for the god behind it. Sunday is dies Solis, day of the Sun. Monday is dies Lunae, day of the Moon. Tuesday is dies Martis, day of Mars. Wednesday is dies Mercurii, day of Mercury. Thursday is dies Jovis, day of Jove, or day of Jupiter. Friday is dies Veneris, day of Venus. And Saturday is dies Saturni, day of Saturn.
But our English names are based on the Northern gods, not the Southern. Sunday is Sunnandaeg, Sunna’s Day. Monday is Monandaeg, Mani’s Day. Tuesday is Tiwesdaeg, Tiw’s Day, Tyr’s Day. Wednesday is Wodnesdaeg, Woden’s Day, Odin’s Day. Thurday is Thunresdaeg, Thunos’s Day, Thor’s Day. Friday is Frigedaeg, Frige’s Day, Frigg’s Day. Saturday retains its Roman name. It was Saeturnesdaeg to the Anglo-Saxons. It was Laugardagr, washing-day.
The connection is quite obvious, as the Romans looked at all cultures around them and said, this god is this one, and this god is this one. Helios is Sunna, the goddess who pulls the sun. Selena is Mani, Sunna’s brother who pulls the moon. Mars is Tyr, who isn’t necessarily the god of war, but was seen by the Romans as Mars. Mercury is Odin, because Odin is a god of boundaries and crossroads and passing between, of wisdom and knowledge, of poetry and speech. He’s the closest parallel to Mercury. Jupiter is Thor, because Jupiter is the sky and storm and the wielder of the thunderbolt, and Thor is the storm and thunder. And Frigg, we have a direct connection to the planet, as Venus was Friggjarstjarna, Frigg’s Star.
Classic Astrology attributes certain aspects to the moving objects and the days they rule.
Mercury is easy. Commerce and communication, thinking and reasoning, knowledge and wisdom. As the god rules these things, so does the planet. As the god moves swiftly, so does the planet. And so Wednesday becomes the day for such activities, both in a mundane sense and a magical sense. In relation to commerce, if we associate Wednesday with a vice, it would be Greed.
Venus is easy as well. Love, sex, fertility, romance, relationships, beauty, pleasure. Once again, as the goddess rules these things, so does the planet, and this translates in classic thought and much of Western magic to Friday. Of the “Seven Vices”, Friday is Lust in this way.
Mars is a bit less obvious. It’s seen as a day for force and protection, courage and aggression, productivity and determination, and the like. The aspects related to war, not normally war itself. The connection from god to planet to seeing Tuesday as this is obvious. Tuesday is Wrath.
Jupiter diverges a more from what’s seen as the realm of the god. It is related to big undertakings. Looking carefully, we can see this. Jupiter never did anything half way. He was showy and extravagant. Any action was a big action. The planet fits this well, being the largest planet. Thursday is the day ascribed to this, and is Pride.
Saturn is seen as the start of slower, long-term things, things requiring patience and perseverance, things you can’t rush. From the planet, this is easy to see, as it is the slowest moving of the seven. For the god, this is seen in imagery of him with his legs bound except during the festival of Saturnalia. He bides his time throughout the year until the time for his release. We also see his consorts. Ops, as the building of wealth takes time. Lua, as time and waiting wears things down, leading to destruction. This is then ascribed to Saturday. It’s interesting that in much of the Western world, Saturday is a day of no work, and that it is the Sabbath in Jewish practice, a day of rest. Saturday would be Sloth if it was one of the Seven Vices.
The Moon is seen in relation to emotions and dreams, female cycles and changes, and to domestic activities. This is of course related to the tides that change with the moon, the change of the moon itself through its cycle, and the menstrual cycle, which is typically 28 days just as the moon’s is. This of course is the reason for the association of matriarchy and the feminine with lunar cults. Because of the similar cycle, the association between the moon and these areas is common through much of the world. Most moon goddesses have direct connection to these same areas, and Monday is seen as connected to them.
The Sun is seen as anything involving gaining influence over things. The sun brings forth life from the ground in the form of plants, and is the main influence on life on earth. Helios was very handsome and had a lot of influence on everyone because of his looks. Sunday is seen as this day. It’s interesting to observe that Christianity sees Christ rising on Sunday, and that that is the day many dress up, as though they are attempting to impress God/Christ. I would associate it with envy, for it’s a day to gain influence to get something we don’t have.
I included the Seven Vices because they stuck out to me on several of the descriptions I was writing. Moon and Gluttony are left, but I don’t think they relate. The Vices are a side point anyway.
The idea the planets could be associated with the seven days, gave rise to further division. The day is seen as divided into two parts, the day and the night, Dawn to Dusk and Dusk to Dawn. Remember that the planets are children of the Dusk and the Dawn. The year is divided into twelve months (twelve moons, but the year is really closer to thirteen moons), relating to the twelve signs of the Zodiac. Likewise the day and the night were divided into twelve hours. The planets are mapped onto these, progressing from Saturn to Jupiter to Mars to the Sun to Venus to Mercury to the Moon. This was seen as the distance from earth, with Saturn farthest and the Moon closest. This rotates though, using the day as the first. It could be seen in reverse, of the hours giving the order of the days.
So, Sunday starts at Dawn with the hour of the sun, progressing to the end of the hour of Saturn at Dusk, then the night starting with the hour of Jupiter and progressing to the hour of Mercury ending at Dawn.
Monday starts at Dawn with the hour of the moon, progressing to the end of the hour of the sun at Dusk, then the night starting with the hour of Venus and progressing to the hour of Jupiter ending at Dawn.
And so on.
These hours are seen as having the same aspects I described above for the days. Each day (dawn to dusk) ends with the hour of the day before.
As I said, many people use these in magical workings, beginning workings or rituals or rites on an hour that relates to the purpose of the working, and on a day that relates. These are combined when possible, either using the same planet’s day and hour, or a different planet for the day and the year to combine the aspects. This is likewise, when possible, combined with Zodiac signs, and the planets that rule them.
This has of course been used this way for a long time, and there is obviously power in it, or it would have been dropped. Magic workers tend to be very pragmatic. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t survive. Add to this that repetition adds power, so the more they are used, the more effective they will become. The question, of course, is why were the days laid out in that order to begin with, an order that works perfectly with the progression of the hours. The answer to that will give the origin of the power found in the practice. I don’t know the answer.
Back to Grimr, the main principle is observation. I can observe that the system described above works, but I can’t see the layout of it from observation at this point. The planets don’t rise and set based on that layout. As such, I don’t use this system in my practice.
But I can observe the visibility of the planets, and I’ve found that which planets are visible do change the flavour of the energy I work with. Their effects are weaker than the sun and moon, and less constant than the stars. They create tides, both physically due to gravity, and spiritually in the energies around us. The Sun is large and pulls strong. The Moon is close and has more direct effect. But the Wanderers do pull, and they change the energy tides as they move. They should not be ignored. The stars are even weaker, but they are more constant, progressing slower, over millennia.
And these tides, the solar and lunar tides, the tides of the Wanderers, the stellar tides, all these tides and the Winds they bring, effect our lives in very real ways, they bind and loose the Threads of Fate, weaving as they go. This can be used to create change, to step out of the direct effects of their tides. The momentum they create can be used to strengthen and increase the effect of small changes we create. An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. It’s easier to create change if you work with the tides than against them.
This is a principle that can be observed. And can be applied.