7 planetary metals

7 planetary metals DEFAULT

The Metal-Planet Affinities - The Sevenfold Pattern
By Nick Kollerstrom
Back to Metal-Planet Affinities index page
Wisdom has set up her temple,
She has hewn her seven pillars (1)

From antiquity up until the mid-eighteenth century, the number of metals known and recognised as such was seven. They were: lead, tin, iron, gold, copper, mercury and silver. Brass, made from copper, was used, but people didn’t realize it was an alloy that included zinc, until the latter half of the eighteenth century. The metal which finally broke the sevenfold spell of millennia (in 1752) and was called the ‘eighth metal’ was platinum, emerging from the gold mines of Columbia.

Belief in a linkage of these seven metals with the 'seven planets' reaches back into prehistory: there was no age in which silver was not associated with the Moon, nor gold with the Sun. These links defined the identities of the metals. Iron, used always for instruments of war, was associated with Mars, the soft, pliable metal copper was linked with Venus, and the chameleon metal mercury had the same name as its planet. Then, around the beginning of the 18th century these old, cosmic imaginations were swept away by the emerging science of chemistry. The characters of the metals were no longer explained in terms of their cosmic origins but instead in terms of an underlying atomic structure. New metals started to be discovered which made the old view appear limited.

In the 20th century new lines of approach to this old subject were opened up through work done within the Anthroposophical movement founded by Rudolf Steiner, and we here draw especially from the works of Rudolf Hauschka (2) and Wilhelm Pelikan (3). They viewed the traditional seven metals as expressing most fully the seven planetary characters, in a way that the many other metals known today do not: ‘The seven fundamental metals represent something like the seven notes of a scale. As there exists a great variety of intermediate tones within the scale, so one can recognise intermediate tones between the metals’ (4).

The extra-light metal lithium is used for hydrogen bombs, anti-depressant pills and bicycle axle grease. Thereby one may feel its ‘lightness of being,’ but that won’t quite give us a planetary affinity for it. Magnesium emits a brilliant light on burning, used for photo flashlights, so does this give it a solar affinity? It is used for ultra-light alloys in supersonic aircraft etc, and is the key metal used in chlorophyll, whereby solar energy is metabolised by plants. Wilhelm Pelikan suggested that it should be viewed as a sun-metal, and let’s view this as a possibility.

Physical Properties

We experience metals as differing from non-metals by virtue of their lustre, their resonance, their malleability and conductivity - these are their key physical properties. Metals can be polished to shine (lustre), will produce tones when struck, ie they sound (resonance), when hammered they don't shatter, they can be beaten into shape, and will quickly become hot if one corner is heated. The traditional seven metals can be arranged in a scale, by these key physical properties. This turns out, remarkably, to be the same scale as an ordering of their associated planets, in terms of their speed of movement. The Table below expresses metallic conductivity both as thermal (conducting heat) and also as electrical, scaled for convenience to silver = 100 (5).

The planets are ordered by something which one can experience quite directly, namely how fast they move across the sky - from the Moon as the fastest moving to Saturn as the slowest. This means using a geocentric perspective, as we see their mean angular speeds from the Earth, and gives the traditional ordering as used to be assigned to the planets in the old, Ptolemaic system - for almost two thousand years. This ordering was almost universally accepted, up until the time of Copernicus, and had the sphere of Mercury nearer the Earth than Venus (mathematically, this may be the case: ie, Mercury is more often nearer to us than Venus (6)).

Metal Conductivity and Planetary Motion
Mean Metal orbital Associated Motion with Thermal Electrical Planet deg/day Planet Conductivity Conductivity Moon 13.2 silver 100 100 Mercury 1.4 mercury - - Venus 1.2 copper 94 95 Sun 1.0 gold 74 72 Mars 0.5 iron 20 17 Jupiter 0.08 tin 16 13 Saturn 0.03 lead 8 8 To quote the modern biochemist Dr Frank McGillion, ‘The orbital motion of the planet correlates in sequence with its corresponding metal's conductivity… The slower a planet moves, the less able its corresponding metal is to conduct electricity!’ (7). For the alchemists of old, metals all had these properties to different degrees. They didn't view them as separate elements, but accepted that they had these experiential properties in common. In addition, a metal had to be purifiable in a furnace, where it would melt but not burn. This is why they could never take zinc seriously as a metal, because it just burnt up on being heated. This criterion put them in a difficult position over mercury, as was generally recognised as metallic, though paradoxically so.

This experiential definition limits us to what we’ll call ‘real' metals, whereas the modern definition of a metal is wholly abstract - in terms of atoms that are electron-donors - and includes substances that don't at all resemble these: for example, potassium is a waxy substance that bursts into flame upon mere contact with water. Nowadays, children even in elementary science lessons are given these quite abstract concepts, and are hardly allowed to experience the primary properties of the everyday metals. Here we concentrate on things that are elementary. Let's go through what we are here calling the key physical properties:

Conductivity: copper is used for electrical wiring being a good conductor, as lead is used for fuses because it is such a poor conductor. Mercury is not included on this table being a liquid - conductivities of metals when liquid are much lower than when they are solid.

Lustre (or reflectance): silver is the most perfectly reflecting metal of the seven and is therefore used for making mirrors. Mercury also has a very high lustre and is likewise used for such: these are the two mirror-metals. In antiquity, mirrors of copper or bronze were used. The other metals show an approximate gradation in lustre down to lead which has a very dull surface.

Resonance: copper is much used in musical instruments because of its high resonance although silver instruments have the clearest, purest tones - 'silver bells', and this property again decreases down the scale to the dull sound lead makes on being struck.

Malleability: Hauschka described how metals at the top of the list are highly malleable, but cannot be well cast, whereas those at the bottom can be cast but not forged. Gold he described as holding a balance position in that it could equally well be cast or forged.

These scales show an increase in inner mobility from lead, the most inert, up to silver, which parallels the increasing angular speeds of the planets. Hauschka, who first described this, concluded memorably: 'We see then that planetary movement is metamorphosed into the properties of earthly metals' (8).

II   Chemical Activity

       . ..‘This isn’t just a date, it’s chemistry              

from the film, ‘Something about Mary’


Valency is the combining ratio: hydrogen has a valency of one, oxygen of two, and carbon, four. It tells how many ‘arms’ each element has, whereby it joins up with others. One carbon atom bonds with four hydrogens to give methane (CH4), while oxygen bonds with just two hydrogens, to make water as H2O.

Most metals have more than one possible valency state. The Table shows the valencies which the seven metals normally display, while any others that can form are rare and unimportant (9). Oddly enough, their valencies line up with the traditional Ptolemaic ordering of the heavenly spheres:

MoonMercuryVenusSunMarsJupiterSaturn silver mercury copper gold iron tin lead 1 1 & 2 1 & 2 1 & 3 2 & 3 2 & 4 2 & 4 Silver, which showed the highest conductivity and gave the purest sound, has only a single valency for all the links it forms with other elements. Like swans which remain monogamous and faithful to one partner all their life, the Moon-metal silver has only one arm of valence. In contrast, those which scored lowest on their physical properties, tin and lead, being least conductive etc, are most active and greedy in their ratios of combination.

Reactivity: Some metals are inert, for example gold hardly combines at all, and these are called ‘noble' metals (platinum, silver); whereas tin and lead are reactive and will dissolve even in weak acids. We can put the classical metals in a sequence of their chemical activity, which is conveniently measured by what chemists call their ‘electrode potential.' This tells us how reactive their ions are in solution. Inactive metals as will not liberate hydrogen from an acid are called ‘electronegative', while the more active metals which will liberate hydrogen are ‘electropositive'. This gives a useful scale of chemical activity for metals, measured by the ‘standard electrode potential' of a solution at a given concentration.

Let’s start (as McGillian here advocated) with the order of the planets going out from the Sun, and then the corresponding electrode potentials of the metals are:

SunMercuryVenusEarthMarsJupiterSaturn gold mercury copper iron tin lead -I.50 -0.79 -0.33 +0.44 +0.14 +0.13 ElectronegativeElectropositive
Thereby McGillian contrasted the more reactive, ‘electronegative' metals as linked to planets inside Earth's orbit with electropositive ions which correspond to those outside the Earth's orbit (10). Electrode potential is measured with respect to that of the earth, which indicates the relevance of the geocentric viewpoint here involved. He concluded, ‘The earth-centreduniverse of the alchemists is polarised into positive and negative. It is chemically yin and yang.'

A more traditional ordering would have silver at the top of the list and Sun-metal gold in the middle, which is how Hauschka described it; which has to use the notion of ‘above the Sun' planets, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn having electropositive metals, while vice versa for ‘below the Sun' planets, not a very modern concept! Silver's standard electrode potential is -0.8. Either way, the correlations are impressive.

III Atomic Weights 

Each element has an ‘atomic weight', and the Periodic Table of Elements arranges them in sequence of these atomic weights. It starts with hydrogen having an atomic weight of one, then for example carbon is 12 and oxygen has 16. This ordering by atomic weights gives insight into the chemical properties of each element. When Mendeleev discovered the Periodic table, by arranging elements in this way, he was able to predict the chemical properties of several elements that had not yet been discovered, and his theory came to be accepted as these were confirmed.

Mendeleev's Table has seven rows or ‘periods,' from the first row that just has the lightest elements, hydrogen and helium, down to the seventh which has the extra-heavy, radioactive elements such as uranium and plutonium. Vertically, it has seven or eight columns (the eightth and last column with the inert gases is usually given as the 0th column, the others being counted as 1-7): so, in a sense it has seven columns, too. What are called ‘group one' elements belong to its first column, and these are all univalent, such as sodium. Group two (the second column) are bivalent like calcium, group three are trivalent, eg aluminium. So, the number seven appears in this Table as rather dominant, as controlling the possibilities of what elements can exist.

When Uranus was discovered in 1781, by William Herschel, this definitely kicked out the notion that there was something sevenfold about the heavens. Up until then, there had been seven spheres which could be seen to move across the sky. There still were such indeed, but an extra unseen one had been added. After his discovery, there was no longer anything sevenfold about the world! This dire state of things persisted for nearly a century, until chemistry professor Dmitri Mendeleev formulated his Periodic Table. A seven fold pattern then reappeared in matter, in the science of chemistry. Bearing this in mind, it may be of interest to look at the moment in time when this new synthesis was created: the afternoon of March the first, 1869.

There were no less than six septile-aspects then present in the sky, between the planets. They were:

MO-SA (1°),  VE-JU (1° 10'),  MO-UR (0° 10'),   ME-NE (1° 40'),   VE-NE (0° 30'), SA-UR (1°)

(The septile is a celestial aspect formed by dividing the circle into seven parts. It gives the angle of slope of the Great Pyramid, 51 1/2°) The cosmos was in quite a sevenfold mode at that moment in time, when the new synthesis dawned upon Mendeleev. It was a classical eureka-type situation: he had cut out cards for each known element, was trying to arrange them by their atomic numbers on his living-room carpet, dozed off, and when he woke up, it came to him! What here concerns us is the notion that a sevenfold pattern is discerned in matter, during a period when these are quite strongly present in the heavens.

In ordering of the classical seven metals by their atomic weights derives from our previous ordering using a heptagon pattern: place the seven metals in a circle in the sequence of their physical properties, as given above, then start from iron, as having the lowest atomic weight, and score alternately, which gives the ordering by atomic weights (10).

'Classical' Atomic Atomic Metals Weight Number iron 56 26 copper 64 29 silver 108 47 tin 119 50 gold 197 50 mercury 201 80 lead 207 82

A deeper significance of this transform appears within a three-stage process, as follows. One starts off with the days of the week arranged in a circle. The days of the week are named after planetary deities, and the European languages (except German) concur in this respect. Thus Thursday derives from ‘Thor's day', while the French Jeudi is ‘Jupiter's day', the thunder-wielding Thor being a Norse equivalent to Jupiter. Likewise there is an analogy between our Friday, as ‘Freya's day', and Vendredi, ‘Venus' day', with Freya as a Venus-deity, and so forth.

.......................... Days, Planets and Metals

Starting from this circle of the seven days of the week and selecting alternately leads to the ancient, Ptolemaic ordering of the planets. This sequence starts from the Moon, as the sphere closest to the Earth, and ends with Saturn as the furthest of the seven. We saw how this refers to their speeds of motion across the sky, but also to the order of valencies of their corresponding metals, as well as their physical properties.

Old books on astronomy used to describe this sevenfold transform, from the Days of Creation sequence, i.e. the seven days of the week, to the old ordering of the planets. They called it, the ‘Hebdomad' (11). Then, early in the twentieth century, the amazing third step of this argument was discerned (12). Selecting every third step around the circle creates a star-heptagon, which gives the ordering by atomic weight or atomic number of the metals! (N.B. This isn’t the same as density). It starts from iron, as having the lowest atomic weight of the classical seven.

A sevenfold pattern or mandala starts from the names of sky-gods linked to the days of the week, and then contracts into sequences of  physical and chemical properties of the metals. Pelikan seems to have been the first to describe these heptagon-patterns, though not in quite the sequence here presented. In a beautiful and mysterious manner, they link together the concepts of modern chemistry and ancient traditions of the cosmos. From a totally unexpected source, we receive confirmation that there is indeed something special about the ‘seven metals' known to classical antiquity.

One American academician, Derek de Solla Price (13), was impressed by the fact that the same geometrical figure, the heptagram, accounted for both the order of the planetary week, and the relationship between the atomic weights of the seven metals and the revolutionary period of their respective planets. He was moved to write:  ‘It seems quite plausible that much of astrological theory may rest on just such a basis of figurate rationality rather than upon empirical or special omen lore. In this sense astrology ... developed on a very rational basis, with a figurative theory and the associated symbolism at its centre.'

IV  A Sensible Approach

We have here looked at the primary concordances, what one might call the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, from a mathematical/numerological perspective, to link Earth and Sky, star and stone, psyche and cosmos. Our approach has been rational, in the sense of looking at the ratios that are involved.  Other files here outline a more qualitative experience: astral portraits of the metal-planet archetypes. Astrologers, in describing their archetypes, use very much the old, Greek gods. No doubt theseare fine, but an appeal is here made, to seek a more material and experiential basis in the realm of inorganic chemistry. This may seem credulity-straining, but let us see what can be done.

Any answer to the question, ‘What is matter made of?' is going to be firmly four-square. The old four-element matter theory came unstuck in the seventeenth century, then reappeared in the twentieth century with the recognition of four states of matter (solid, liquid, gaseous and plasma, the latter being very hot). Then in the 1990s, after hordes of strange subatomic particles had been discovered, a twelvefold symmetry emerged, with six quarks and six leptons - fairly analogous to the twelve zodiac signs, with their three families of four. To quote the New Scientist, ‘Today, physicists believe that all matter is composed of 12 particles.' It begins to look as if high-energy physics (what used to be called, particle physics) requires a grounding in Pythagorean metaphysics, in terms of the significance of the different number-patterns that are turning up.

We are here concerned with sensible things, i.e. what can be experienced and is perceptible to the senses. In contrast, particle physicists are concerned with the occult, i.e. with that which is hidden, in that none of the things they deal with can ever be seen. Their particles get smaller and stranger as the budgets grow larger. There was a British MP who visited Geneva, to see the huge underground ring where the particles are accelerated, and he emerged claiming to understand what a ‘Higgs-boson' was. This was a particle they had recently discovered, which lasts for a millionth of a second or so. Over years, the international project of building these giant accelerators has failed to produce anything the public can understand (the recent ‘top quark' was discovered in Fermilab, US, not in Europe).

We thereby discern an important contrast between the numbers twelve and seven. Twelvefold and fourfold patterns of modern physics concern the very structure of matter: whereas, we saw how sevenfold structures demonstrate in a more mystical manner an earth/sky concordance - in a way that validates the traditional correspondences. These seven metals have intertwined with the story of humanity. Admittedly, there is more to say in relation to the outer planets, and especially the dire Pluto / plutonium linkup.

The ‘Brothers of Iron': Cobalt and nickel, chromium and manganese show a strong affinity with iron, and Hauschka called them the brothers of iron, saying they had a Mars-like nature. They have similar properties of resonance and lustre, and iron is hardened by steels having traces of these metals. 95% of manganese production goes towards making steel. Nickel and cobalt both behave like iron when in a magnetic field. The Table compares some of their physical properties of interest:

Atomic Weight Sp.Gravity Melting-Point Manganese 55 7.4 1200° C Iron 56 7.9 1528° C Cobalt 59 8.5 1524° C Nickel 59 7.7 1500° C The phrase Pelikan used for these metals was, ‘we have strong reasons to suspect that the iron-Mars impulse cooperated in their formation.' (14) They are more chemically active than iron, their divalent electrode potentials being, manganese +1.2, cobalt  +0.28, and nickel  +0.25 which is why they were only found long after iron.


Jupiter for Splendour in worldly success
Mars for Bravery in struggling for success
Venus for success in Love
Mercury for the Magic Touch
Saturn for a sense of Destiny
Sun and Moon as alternating
Heavenly Bodies
Parents of our life
On Earth

And Earth
Oh for God's sake
Let's praise

Patricia Villiers-Stuart,  Anthem for 2000


1 Proverbs, 9:1.

2. Rudolf Hauschka,The Nature of Substance, 1966.

3. Wilhelm Pelikan, The Secrets of Metals, 1973.

4. Walter Cloos, The Living Earth, 1977, p.123.

5. Kaye and Laby, Physical and Chemical Constants, 14th ed.

6. NK, ‘Interface, Astronomical Essays for Astrologers', 1997, Ascella, p.83.

7. Frank McGillian, The Opening Eye, 1982, p.94. The standard electrode potentials are given to the most common valence condition.

8 Hauschka, (2), p.162.

9. NK, Astrochemistry (1984) p.3 (I’ve lost the source for this concordance, but I didn’t invent it).

10. McGillian, (7), p. 94.

11. C.Leadbetter, A Complete System of Astronomy, 1742.

12. Sephariel, Cosmic Symbolism, 1912 (quoted by Dennis Elwell, as the earliest source he could find).

13) Elwell, Astrol. Assoc. Jnl, review of ‘Astrochemistry', Winter 1984/5 p.54.

14) Pelikan (3) p.156.

Sours: https://www.alchemywebsite.com/kollerstrom_sevenfold.html

Alchemical symbol

Symbols used in pre-19th-century chemistry

Alchemical symbols in Torbern Bergman's 1775 Dissertation on Elective Affinities

For the block of characters encoded in Unicode, see Alchemical Symbols (Unicode block).

Alchemical symbols, originally devised as part of alchemy, were used to denote some elements and some compounds until the 18th century. Although notation like this was mostly standardized, style and symbol varied between alchemists, so this page mainly lists the most common ones.

Three primes[edit]

According to Paracelsus (1493–1541), the three primes or tria prima – of which material substances are immediately composed – are:[1]

Four basic elements[edit]

Main article: Classical elements

Western alchemy makes use of the four classical elements. The symbols used for these are:[2]

Seven planetary metals[edit]

Main articles: Classical planets in Western alchemy, Planets in astrology, and Metals of antiquity

Seven metals are associated with the seven classical planets, and seven deities, all figuring heavily in alchemical symbolism. Although the metals occasionally have a glyph of their own, the planet's symbol is used most often, and the symbolic and mythological septenary is consistent with Western astrology. The planetary symbolism is limited to the seven wandering stars visible to the naked eye, and the extra-Saturnian planets Uranus and Neptune are not used. The symbols for these are:[3]

Mundane elements[edit]

The Squared Circle: an Alchemical Symbol (17th century) illustrating the interplay of the four elementsof matter symbolising the philosopher's stone

Alchemical compounds[edit]

A table of alchemical symbols from Basil Valentine's The Last Will and Testament, 1670

Alchemical processes[edit]

An extract and symbol key from Kenelm Digby's A Choice Collection of Rare Secrets, 1682

The alchemical magnum opus was sometimes expressed as a series of chemical operations. In cases where these numbered twelve, each could be assigned one of the Zodiac signs as a form of cryptography. The following example can be found in Pernety'sDictionnaire mytho-hermétique (1758):[8]

  1. Calcination (AriesAries.svg) ♈︎
  2. Congelation (TaurusTaurus.svg) ♉︎
  3. Fixation (GeminiGemini.svg) ♊︎
  4. Solution (CancerCancer.svg) ♋︎
  5. Digestion (LeoLeo.svg) ♌︎
  6. Distillation (VirgoVirgo.svg) ♍︎
  7. Sublimation (LibraLibra.svg) ♎︎
  8. Separation (ScorpioScorpio.svg) ♏︎
  9. Ceration (SagittariusSagittarius.svg) ♐︎
  10. Fermentation (CapricornCapricorn.svg) ♑︎ (Putrefaction)
  11. Multiplication (AquariusAquarius.svg) ♒︎
  12. Projection (PiscesPisces.svg) ♓︎


Several symbols indicate units of volume, weight, or time.


The Alchemical Symbols block was added to Unicode in 2010 as part of Unicode 6.0.[9]

Other symbols commonly used in alchemy and related esoteric traditions[edit]


  1. ^Holmyard 1957, p. 170; cf. Friedlander 1992, pp. 75–76. For the symbols, see Holmyard 1957, p. 149 and Bergman's table as shown above.
  2. ^Holmyard 1957, p. 149.
  3. ^Holmyard 1957, p. 149.
  4. ^Holmyard 1957, p. 149.
  5. ^Holmyard 1957, p. 149.
  6. ^Holmyard 1957, p. 149.
  7. ^Holmyard 1957, p. 149.
  8. ^See Holmyard 1957, p. 150.
  9. ^"Unicode 6.0.0". Unicode Consortium. 11 October 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2019.

Works cited[edit]

  • Friedlander, Walter J. (1992). The Golden Wand of Medicine: A History of the Caduceus Symbol in Medicine. Contributions in Medical Studies, 35. New York: Greenwood Press. ISBN .
  • Holmyard, Eric J. (1957). Alchemy. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. OCLC 2080637.

External links[edit]

Media related to Alchemical symbols at Wikimedia Commons

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alchemical_symbol
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Classical planet

Planets visible to the naked eye

"Wandering stars" redirects here. For other uses, see Wandering star.

For the failed IAU planet category of Classical Planets, see IAU definition of planet.

In classical antiquity, the seven classical planets or seven luminaries are the seven moving astronomical objects in the sky visible to the naked eye: the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The word planet comes from two related Greek words, πλάνης planēs (whence πλάνητες ἀστέρες planētes asteres "wandering stars, planets") and πλανήτης planētēs, both with the original meaning of "wanderer", expressing the fact that these objects move across the celestial sphere relative to the fixed stars.[1][2] Greek astronomers such as Geminus[3] and Ptolemy[4] often divided the seven planets into the Sun, the Moon, and the five planets.

The term planet in modern terminology is only applied to natural satellites directly orbiting the Sun (or other stars), so that only five of the seven classical planets are planets in the modern sense. The same seven planets, along with the ascending and descending lunar node, are mentioned in Vedic astrology as the nine Navagraha.

Babylonian astronomy[edit]

Further information: Babylonian astronomy

The Babylonians recognized seven planets. A bilingual list in the British Museum records the seven Babylonian planets in this order: [5]


Main articles: Astrological symbols and Planet symbols

The astrological symbols for the classical planets appear in the medieval Byzantine codices in which many ancient horoscopes were preserved.[8] In the original papyri of these Greek horoscopes, there are found a circle with one ray (old sun symbol) for the Sun and a crescent for the Moon.[9] The written symbols for Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn have been traced to forms found in late Greek papyri.[10] The symbols for Jupiter and Saturn are identified as monograms of the initial letters of the corresponding Greek names, and the symbol for Mercury is a stylized caduceus.[10]

A. S. D. Maunder finds antecedents of the planetary symbols in earlier sources, used to represent the gods associated with the classical planets. Bianchini's planisphere, produced in the 2nd century,[11] shows Greek personifications of planetary gods charged with early versions of the planetary symbols: Mercury has a caduceus; Venus has, attached to her necklace, a cord connected to another necklace; Mars, a spear; Jupiter, a staff; Saturn, a scythe; the Sun, a circlet with rays radiating from it; and the Moon, a headdress with a crescent attached.[12] A diagram in Johannes Kamateros' 12th century Compendium of Astrology shows the Sun represented by the circle with a ray, Jupiter by the letter zeta (the initial of Zeus, Jupiter's counterpart in Greek mythology), Mars by a shield crossed by a spear, and the remaining classical planets by symbols resembling the modern ones, without the cross-mark seen in modern versions of the symbols.[12] The modern Sun symbol, pictured as a circle with a dot (☉), first appeared in the Renaissance.[9]

Planetary hours[edit]

Main articles: Planetary hours and Names of the days of the week

The Ptolemaic system used in Greek astronomy placed the planets in order, closest to Earth to furthest, as the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. In addition the day was divided into seven hour intervals, each ruled by one of the planets, although the order was staggered (see below).

The first hour of each day was named after the ruling planet, giving rise to the names and order of the Roman seven-day week. Modern Latin-based cultures, in general, directly inherited the days of the week from the Romans and they were named after the classical planets; for example, in Spanish Miércoles is Mercury, and in French mardi is Mars-day.

The modern English days of the week were mostly inherited from gods of the old Germanic Norse culture – Wednesday is Wōden’s-day (Wōden or Wettin eqv. Mercury), Thursday is Thor’s-day (Thor eqv. Jupiter), Friday is Frige-day (Frige eqv. Venus). Equivalence here is by the gods' roles; for instance, Venus and Frige were both goddesses of love. It can be correlated that the Norse gods were attributed to each Roman planet and its god, probably due to Roman influence rather than coincidentally by the naming of the planets. A vestige of the Roman convention remains in the English name Saturday.


Further information: Astronomical symbols

In alchemy, each classical planet (Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) was associated with one of the seven metals known to the classical world (silver, mercury/quicksilver, copper, gold, iron, tin and lead respectively). As a result, the alchemical glyphs for the metal and associated planet coincide. Alchemists believed the other elemental metals were variants of these seven (e.g. zinc was known as "Indian tin" or "mock silver"[14]).

Extract and symbol key from 17th century alchemy text.

Alchemy in the Western World and other locations where it was widely practiced was (and in many cases still is) allied and intertwined with traditional Babylonian-Greek style astrology; in numerous ways they were built to complement each other in the search for hidden knowledge (knowledge that is not common i.e. the occult). Astrology has used the concept of classical elements from antiquity up until the present day today. Most modern astrologers use the four classical elements extensively, and indeed they are still viewed as a critical part of interpreting the astrological chart.

A table of alchemical symbols from Basil Valentine’s The Last Will and Testament, 1670 ce.

Traditionally, each of the seven "planets" in the solar system as known to the ancients was associated with, held dominion over, and "ruled" a certain metal (see also astrology and the classical elements).

The list of rulership is as follows:

Some alchemists (e.g. Paracelsus) adopted the Hermetic Qabalah assignment between the vital organs and the planets as follows:[14]

MarsGall bladder

Contemporary astrology[edit]

Western astrology[edit]

Main article: Planets in astrology

Indian astrology[edit]

Main article: Navagraha

Indian astronomy and astrology (Jyotiṣa) recognises seven visible planets (including the sun and moon) and two additional invisible planets(tamo'graha).

Sanskrit NameTamil nameEnglish NameGunaRepresentsDay
Surya (सूर्य)ஞாயிறு (ñāyiṟu)SunSattvaSoul, king, highly placed persons, father, egoSunday
Chandra (चंद्र)திங்கள் (tiṅkaḷ), மதி (mathi), நிலவு (nilavu)MoonSattvaEmotional Mind, queen, mother.Monday
Mangala (मंगल)செவ்வாய் (cevvāy), செம்மீன் (cem'mīṉ)MarsTamasenergy, action, confidenceTuesday
Budha (बुध)புதன் (putaṉ), அறிவன் (aṟivaṉ)MercuryRajasCommunication and analysis, mindWednesday
Brihaspati (बृहस्पति)வியாழன் (viyāḻaṉ), பொன்மீன் (poṉmīṉ)JupiterSattvathe great teacher, wealth, Expansion, progenyThursday
Shukra (शुक्र)வெள்ளி (veḷḷi), வெண்மீன் (veṇmīṉ)VenusRajasFeminine, pleasure and reproduction, Luxury, Love, SpouseFriday
Shani (शनि)சனி (saṉi), காரி (kāri), மைம்மீன் (maim'mīṉ)SaturnTamaslearning the hard way. Career and Longevity, ContractionSaturday
Rahu (राहु)கரும்பாம்பு (karumpāmpu)Ascending/North Lunar NodeTamasan Asura who does his best to plunge any area of one's life he controls into chaos, works on the subconscious levelnone
Ketu (केतु)செம்பாம்பு (cempāmpu)Descending/South Lunar NodeTamassupernatural influences, works on the subconscious levelnone

Chinese astronomy[edit]

The cycles of the Chinese calendar are linked to the orbit of Jupiter, there being 12 sacred beasts in the Chinese dodecannualar geomantic and astrological cycle, and 12 years in the orbit of Jupiter.[citation needed]

English NameAssociated elementChinese/Japanese/Korean Hanja CharactersChinese pinyinJapanese hiragana/romajiKorean Hangul (romaja)VietnameseOld astronomical names[15]
Mercurywater水星Shuǐxīngすいせい/Suisei수성 (Suseong)Sao ThủyChénxīng (辰星)
Venusmetal/gold金星Jīnxīngきんせい/Kinsei금성 (Geumseong)Sao Kim, also "Sao Mai" as "morning star" and "Sao Hôm" as "evening star"Tàibái (太白)
Marsfire火星Huǒxīngかせい/Kasei화성 (Hwaseong)Sao HỏaYínghuò (熒惑)
Jupiterwood木星Mùxīngもくせい/Mokusei목성 (Mokseong)Sao MộcSuì (歲)
Saturnearth土星Tǔxīngどせい/Dosei토성 (Toseong)Sao ThổZhènxīng (鎮星)

Naked-eye planets[edit]

Mercury and Venus are visible only in twilight hours because their orbits are interior to that of Earth. Venus is the third-brightest object in the sky and the most prominent planet. Mercury is more difficult to see due to its proximity to the Sun. Lengthy twilight and an extremely low angle at maximum elongations make optical filters necessary to see Mercury from extreme polar locations.[16] Mars is at its brightest when it is in opposition, which occurs approximately every twenty-five months. Jupiter and Saturn are the largest of the five planets, but are farther from the Sun, and therefore receive less sunlight. Nonetheless, Jupiter is often the next brightest object in the sky after Venus. Saturn's luminosity is often enhanced by its rings, which reflect light to varying degrees, depending on their inclination to the ecliptic; however, the rings themselves are not visible to the naked eye from the Earth. Uranus and sometimes the asteroidVesta are in principle visible to the naked eye on very clear nights, but, unlike the true naked-eye planets, are less luminous than thousands of stars, and as such, do not stand out enough for their existence to be noticed without the aid of a telescope.


  1. ^Sumerian names for the planet Saturn are Kâawanu and (Akkadian) Sag-uš "firm, steadfast, phlegmatic".

See also[edit]


  1. ^Classification of the Planets
  2. ^πλάνης, πλανήτης. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  3. ^Goldstein, Bernard R. (2007), "What's New in Ptolemy's Almagest", Nuncius, 22 (2): 271, doi:10.1163/221058707X00549
  4. ^Pedersen, Olaf (2011), A Survey of the Almagest, Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, New York / Dordrecht / Heidelberg / London: Springer Science + Business Media, ISBN 
  5. ^Mackenzie (1915). "13 Astrology and Astronomy". Myths of Babylonia and Assyria.
  6. ^Pinches, Thophilus G. "5". The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria. Archived from the original on 17 December 2007.
  7. ^David N. Talbott (1980). The Saturn Myth. Garden City, New York, USA: Knopf Doubleday & Company, Inc. p. 419. ISBN . Retrieved 2013-01-03.
  8. ^Neugebauer, Otto (1975). A history of ancient mathematical astronomy. pp. 788–789.
  9. ^ abNeugebauer, Otto; Van Hoesen, H. B. (1987). Greek Horoscopes. pp. 1, 159, 163.
  10. ^ abJones, Alexander (1999). Astronomical papyri from Oxyrhynchus. pp. 62–63.
  11. ^"Bianchini's planisphere". Florence, Italy: Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza (Institute and Museum of the History of Science). Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  12. ^ abMaunder, A. S. D. (1934). "The origin of the symbols of the planets". The Observatory. 57: 238–247. Bibcode:1934Obs....57..238M.
  13. ^ abVigfússon (1874:456).
  14. ^ abPhilip Ball, The Devil's Doctor: Paracelsus and the World of Renaissance Magic and Science, ISBN 978-0-09-945787-9
  15. ^中国古代的日月五星Archived 2010-05-11 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^"Sky Publishing – Latitude Is Everything". Archived from the original on 2017-03-24. Retrieved 2007-07-14.

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_planet
Alchemical Mysteries Of The Sun and Planets - Manly P. Hall Lecture - Astrology / Metaphysics

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