|Throughout the ages, humans have looked to the stars for guidance. The stars contain many secrets. Some have been revealed; some have yet to show themselves. And throughout it all, humanity has tried to use them to make sense of reality. Part of that has been constructing a system of astrological alchemical symbols. Iíve deciphered a whole lot of them, with more to come, so you can get to know the cosmos just as the ancients did.
|Earth Our fair planet has a symbol as well: pretty much Venus spun on its head. Thereís an alternate, thatís a circle with a cross inside to represent all the cardinal directions. Iím not sure I want to know too much of the symbolism of Earth. You know? Could get serious.
|Jupiter People have known about this distant planet since ancient times because itís visible even during the day. The Romans named it after their principal god (I guess the Greeks missed out, otherwise itíd be called Zeus probably). The symbol is a stylized lightning bolt. People who are happy or merry are said to be jovial Ė based on the way Jupiter makes us feel. Good thing itís around day and night, huh?
|Mars Not just a candy bar anymore! Mars is represented by a circle with an arrow pointing out of it to the right, which represents the god Marsís shield and spear and has come to stand in for maleness. Mars was the Greek god of war, so itís not surprising that the planetís symbol represents drive or force over divine spirit. Powerful stuff, huh?
|Mercury God of trade, planet in the sky, quicksilver, and origin of the word used to describe someone erratic and unstable (read: mercurial), Mercury is represented by the Greek godís winged helmet and caduceus. The symbol means that the mind is poised over the divine spirit and matter. So, I guess if you fall under Mercury youíre pretty mind-driven and mercurial.
|Neptune Named for the god of the sea, and represented by a trident, this planet represents the human spirit or mind transcending matter. It makes sense that itíd be named after the sea, since itís blue. Apparently Neptune was also a god of horses Ė or so says my cousin, whoís really into the races.
|Pluto The farthest, littlest planet Pluto is named after the god of the underworld, not the Disney character! Disney actually named the character after the planet, and thus after the god of the underworld! Pretty dark stuff. His symbol is an orb cupped in a bowl on top of an inverted cross and the planet also rules Scorpio. Apparently Pluto is called ďthe great renewerĒ Ė which makes sense, as far as death and reincarnation and transformation and all that stuff goes.
|Saturn Saturn was a mysterious, complex character in Roman mythology. He represented wealth, plenty, dissolution, and agriculture amongst other things. His symbol is a scythe or sickle and it represents matter being more powerful than mind or human spirit. This planet also rules Aquarius, which is my sign incidentally.
|Uranus Donít giggle. Uranus is a serious planet associated with platinum. Uranus also has two symbols: one is an H symbol, taken from its discovererís name (Herschel) and the other is like Earthís but with a dot in the centre. This second one is a combination of the Mars and Sun symbols. I wonder what that means. Iím going to do some more digging.
|Venus Oh, Venus, goddess of love! Her symbol is a hand mirror, and has come to represent womanhood. Venus is also associated with copper in alchemy, and is the brightest planet in the sky. Itís often referred to as the morning star and plays a huge role in Pawnee mythology. I think I may try to find out some more about that.
|Minotaurís Compass Not to be confused with Mars, the Minotaurís Compass has two arrows pointing off it to represent North and East. It is an ancient symbol traced back to Knossos, the original labyrinth and home to the Minotaur. The Minotaur was a mythical creature, half bull, half man, but why he lived in a labyrinth Iíll never know. (Thatís not true, I plan on doing some research into labyrinths in general).
|Squaring the Circle
ďThe Philosopherís StoneĒ Not to be confused with the ancient geometrical quandary about how to draw a square and a circle with the same area, this alchemical symbol represents the mysterious substance capable of turning base metals into gold. Since this is the key to the whole alchemical game, it seems a pretty vital substance. But, for some reason, no oneís really been able to track it down despite many attempts to discover it by way of a Magnum Opus (or ďGreat WorkĒ).
|Resistance This symbol looks like a jolt of electricity, and has indeed come to represent electricity. But did you know that it actually goes back to what the Greeks imagined the heart to look like? Most people think that heart monitors represent beats this way because hearts create the ďelectricity to power our bodiesĒ but itís actually because the Greek image of the heart came to represent electricity. Makes more sense now, huh?
|Alpha and Omega These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, but theyíre a big part of Christian and Jewish legends. They represent God in both cases. In Christianity, itís because in the Book of Revelation itís found as an appellation of Jesus: ďI am the Alpha and Omega.Ē In Judaism, one of Godís names is ďemetĒ (or truth) and itís spelled with the first, middle, and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
|Earth You may wonder why I have Earth here again, and thatís because here it represents one of the four classical elements. Represented in alchemy as an inverted triangle with a line through it, Earth represents all things solid. I donít know about you, but Iím pretty happy about that.
|Air In classical elemental symbolism, Air represents things that move. Curiously, itís the same symbol is Earth inverted. According to Plato, it was considered to be both hot and wet, which is why it was associated with Blood when people still believed in those four humours.
|Fire This classical element has long been considered a metaphysical constant in the world, but it also represents things that destroy. Even though Fire is represented by a triangle, thereís a circle here: destruction and rebirth. Kind of like the Ouroboros.
|Water In alchemy, water is represented by an inverted triangle and represents things that are liquid. Itís also associated with the chemical mercury, but not the planet necessarily, as well as things that are cold and wet. Strangely enough, the matching humour is Phlegm. I think I like water better.