Introduction to Planetary Influence – 1:
Planetary Glyphs and Significators
– written by Philip Graves – 5 Jan 2004
– reformatted for WordPress, June 8th, 2016
The glyphs for the planets are composed principally of three symbolic constituents representing the three cosmic principles of creation that were in conceptual currency when these glyphs were devised.
The circle represents Spirit, the masculine polarity of creation, whose function is will, or the concept of creation. It is pure, infinite, in no need of adding to, yet the source of all else.
There is disagreement between sources as to whether the cross or the crescent represents Soul, and whether the crescent or the cross represents Matter.
According to Moore and Douglas, writing in 1971, the cross represents Soul, whose function is wisdom, or the method for expressing the concept of creation. The cross of Soul represents the channeling and incarnation of Spirit into Matter, and has resonances of crucifixion, through the Spirit’s suffering from the confines of material form and being divided between its inner self and the outside world. The Soul, begat of Spirit and Matter, acts as a medium for the conveyance of spiritual impressions between the Spirit and Matter, and a seat of consciousness from which their inter-relationship, and relationships in general, can be handled. The lower crescent represents Matter, whose function is activity, or the production and embodiment of the concept of creation. It is formed from the half of the divided Spirit that is confined to the material world, depicted as the lower half as it is subordinate to the rest. The vertical crescent appearing in some glyphs evokes the Moon, which, like Matter, is regarded as belonging to the feminine polarity of creation, but with the subtle distinction that it is perceived as a reflection through Matter of the energy of Spirit. This is the interpretation to which this article will default on historical grounds.
Yet according to Martin Schulman, writing in 1977, the crescent represents the Soul and the cross represents Matter. This interpretation is the one more often cited nowadays. One source describes the Cross of Matter as depicting limiting, external reality, the non-self, reduced to a particular place and time; and the Crescent of Soul as depicting the emerging individuality. Schulman himself, in sharp conflict to Moore and Douglas, regards the Soul as being the source of knowledge that seeks expression on the physical plane via the Spirit.
The role of the planets as significators of events, conditions and circumstances dates back to ancient astrology, in which the Greek word sema meaning a sign or token was applied to the planets. Yet, according to Joseph Crane (on whose research findings this section draws), planets were also acknowledged as causing what they signify, unlike in much of late 20th century astrology where they have been regarded merely to symbolise it.
Astrology was commonly addressed from the standpoint of particular questions being asked; and whatever was deemed as the significator of the person or matter being asked about would be assessed with regard to its connections by aspect and disposition to other planets, indicating good or ill favour to the matter under consideration.
The most important ancient consideration was the governance of the soul. Ptolemy regarded the dispositors of the Moon and Mercury to act together as Lord of the Soul, yet also recognised the importance of the sign and house placements of the Moon and Mercury themselves. [By the Renaissance age, the Lord of the Ascendant was being habitually factored in.]
A further interest was in the Lord of Action, indicating career. In assessing career, a combination of Mercury, Venus and Mars was anciently considered; any of these placed in a temporal house (the 2nd, 6th or 10th) was favourable. But selecting the significator for action was complex. It could be, in descending order of priority: (1) Mercury or Venus if rising in the evening (but not if debilitated by combustion or being under the sunbeams); (2) any of Mars, Jupiter or Saturn if rising before dawn; (3) the next planet (in time) out of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn to be applied to by the Sun or Moon. A combination of either (1) or (2) with (3), and in a temporal house, would be ideal; and preference would be given to Mercury, Venus and Mars over Saturn and Jupiter.
Ptolemy instead chose the Lord of Action by the following order of priority: (1) a planet in the 10th whole-sign house; (2) a planet rising visibly (not under the sunbeams) just before the Sun – and especially if this planet is being applied to by the Moon. If there are multiple candidates, whichever is most dignified is preferred but the other(s) are given secondary consideration.
In electional astrology, applying aspects of the Moon are of key importance. By trine or sextile to the Sun, it favours making contracts, and mixing with those of high position. By other aspect to the Sun, it causes contention and opposition. Applying to Mercury, it favours scientific work; sending items; transcription; and translation. Applying to Venus, it favours beautification; kindness; love-affairs; marriage; redecoration; and social occasions. Applying by trine or sextile to Mars, it favours absence from home; contests; home renovation; hunting; and warfare. By other aspect to Mars, it causes futility, opposition and violence. Applying by any aspect to Jupiter, it favours everything, but especially alliances; business; contact with judges; and good news. Applying by trine or sextile to Saturn, it favours construction and planting. By other aspects to Saturn, it causes futility, obstacales and opposition.
In event figures (those cast at the time of an event to assess its nature), planets rising, culminating or stationary act as significators. In application to the receipt of a letter or news, they bring the following influences: Venus signifies good news or a female scribe; Mars signifies destruction and struggle; Jupiter signifies excellent news; and Saturn signifies very bad news, and constraints.
By the 20th century, the most prevalent use of significators had become to shed light on the affairs of the houses over which they are (by dignity) the Lords in an individual figure, with particular regard to the Lord of the Ascendant in a nativity or horary figure as the chief significator of the individual or querent.