Thursday, January 14, 2010
The "Original" Planetary Symbols?
I had a question recently about what the original, read "best" planetary symbols were. Of necessity there is a good deal of subjectivity involved with magic. We can't hook up our magicometer and see that sigil A produces 1346 milli-potters while sigil B produces only 33.2 milli-potters.
Different people are going to use different sigils and symbols and get different results. There are so many variables involved that it is going to be difficult to determine whether or not the difference in effect was caused by the sigil or by the quality of the election or by the strength of the planet or other astrological factor in their natal chart, or the ritual or the circumstances they were trying to affect with the talisman. "X sigil is best" is going to have to have lots of caveats attached to it, "X is best when I use it" is about as far as you can really go.
However, there are limits. You don't decide that a Saturn sigil would be better for a Jupiter talisman! You don't, as one person related to me, do a lunar mansion ritual on an altar of the orisha Yemoja (the altar caught on fire!).
I like traditional astrological magic. It's a tested system, it has a sound philosophical underpinning. It also gives us a huge range of characters, symbols, sigils and glyphs to work with from our traditional sources.
Let's take a look at the planetary glyphs. Firstly, my interest is as a practitioner, not as a scholar of planetary symbols. What this means is that I want to do the most powerful magic, not publish a paper. In addition, I am convinced of the efficacy of magic in general and am concerned to find the most effective sigil in particular. A scholar is required, if they want to get that paper published, to maintain that magic does not work.
Secondly, my view and this is one that is supported by traditional sources, is that the origin of many of the astrological symbols, and indeed of ritual in general, is in the spiritual realm. Dreams, visions and direct bestowal by spirits or at the very least spiritual inspiration, are the origin of many astrological symbols. The use of planetary tables based on magic squares and the production of sigils using gematria, while very popular nowadays, is an example of a different and more mathematical method of sigil production. However, ultimately this method as well rests on a spiritual basis.
A scholar, on the other hand, again is required by the tenets of the ruling atheistic/materialistic philosophy, to see the origin of astrological symbols in an individual human being, who was the ultimate origin of their creation at some particular historical point since no spiritual beings or spiritual realm exists. The scholar, therefore, seeks the "original" human author of the symbols (or text, ritual or other artifact).
It would be interesting to know the age and human origin of the various symbols in our traditional sources, but to focus on this or seek the "original" symbols is to veer off of the path of the practitioner and to fall into the cul de sac of the scholars.
There are actually a wide range of different planetary symbols available in our traditional sources, all of which are usable on talismans. For example, our translation of Picatrix Books I & II contains on page 103 an interesting set of planetary symbols
The order is odd, from left to right Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, Moon, Mars, Sun, Venus.
This set of planetary symbols appears in a slightly different form on the Ouroboros Picatrix volume 1 at page 124 in the Chaldean Order.
There are fascinating sets of planetary and Zodiacal symbols, according to the "astrologers and mages" found in the Brill Latin critical edition of Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Bk II ch 51. In the Three Books of Occult Philosophy English translation edited by Tyson, there are also lots of different planetary symbols provided.
My view would be that these are all appropriate for planetary talismans. I am certainly open to further sources and to the manifestation of new planetary symbols as well.
For example, Jason Miller in his Sorceror's Secrets at page 153, gives some examples of planetary seals, "that arose during planetary workings with my artist Matthew Brownlee." The seals are beautiful, fluid and contain elements that fit them into the traditional planetary symbols. The manner of their manifestation seems quite appropriate and traditional!