Now that I have addressed the rationalist/substantialist intrusion into Western thought and some of its impact on the practice of astrology, it is time to discuss the essentialist basis from which astrology draws its tools and methods. This is the answer to the recurring and age old question as to why astrology “works.”
Astrology is one of the few traditional sciences that is still being practiced. As I discussed in my previous article, in the past, all sciences were traditional sciences, but over the centuries, traditional science was replaced by modern science. While rationalism and modern science has invaded astrology, and many astrologers may not be aware of the traditional principles upon which this craft is based, these principles are deeply entwined in the tools and methods that astrologers use.
The most basic tools that astrologers use are the planets and the zodiac. The physical planets and the zodiac are physical representations of deeper metaphysical principles. They are not the principles themselves. A metaphor I have been taught to explain this concept is that of the reflection of the Moon on the water. The reflection may not look exactly like the Moon that it reflects, but the Moon is still the source of that reflection. In the same way, the planets and the zodiac that we can see reflect principles that we can not see.
The planets reflect aspects of the Divine, whatever name we may use for the Divine. My present spiritual tradition is Filianism, so I will be primarily using that spiritual language, although I will incorporate language from other traditions to the extent I am able to speak knowledgeably about the tradition. These principles are not tied to any specific religion, however, and they are part of universal traditional wisdom. Readers from other spiritual traditions, please feel free to translate these principles into your own spiritual lexicon.
The Seven Divine Principles
Below are the descriptions of the Seven Divine Principles. I will include the Roman planetary name, the name of the Filianic Janya (or Angel), and the Eastern element (for the non-luminary principles) in my description. I understand that there is also an association with the Judeo-Christian archangels, but in doing a brief internet search on the subject, I did not find agreement or consensus, and I do not have enough personal knowledge to sift through the differences. So, please forgive that omission.
The Sun, Sol, Sai Raya – The Solar/Creative Principle. In the Filianic tradition, this principle is associated with (but not synonymous with) the Mother. In the Christian tradition, this principle is loosely associated with the Risen Christ, and in the Roman Catholic tradition, with Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Solar Principle is the source of all life and energy. The Solar Principle is also the principle that links us with the One Spirit, and we each carry a microcosm of that principle in our own Heart.
The Moon, Luna, Sai Candre – The Lunar/Sustaining Principle. In the Filianic tradition, this principle is associated with (but not synonymous with) the Daughter. This is the principle that sustains our life in the material plane. This principle is also the Redeeming Principle, and the bridge between our human existence and our Solar Heart connection with the Divine. Just as the Moon reflects the light of the Sun, the Lunar Principle reflects the Solar Principle. Just as we can not look directly at the Sun, but can look directly at the Moon, the Lunar principle is the principle that we can understand. The Lunar Principle is also the principle of Divine Sacrifice, which is of course found in the Christian tradition, but the principle is as old as time itself, and is found in every religion. Mary, in her aspect as the Queen of Heaven, is a symbol of the Lunar Principle in the Roman Catholic tradition, and Quan Yin is a symbol of the Lunar Principle in the Eastern tradition.
Saturn, Sai Rhavë, Earth – the Destructive Principle. In the Filianic tradition, this principle is associated with (but not synonymous with) the Dark Mother, the Light beyond the Darkness and the Darkness beyond the Light. This principle is the hardest to explain and understand, and in practical application, this principle is seen as malefic, but is an aspect of the Divine as well. Paradoxically, the Rhavic Principle is the principle that both binds us to the material plane and releases us from it. This principle tends to be quite severe in application and is associated with time. While we can acknowledge that the Rhavic Principle is Divine, it is not a principle that one would invoke or embrace. One can not truly understand this principle without having reached a very high level of Enlightenment.
Mercury, Sai Mati, Water – Divine Intelligence. In the Eastern tradition, this principle is seen as the “Little Sun” and is very close to the Solar Principle. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Matic Principle can be seen in Sophia, Divine Wisdom. This is the principle from which Enlightenment comes, and indeed, the name Buddha (“the Enlightened One”) and the Bodhi tree (“the Tree of Wisdom”), derive from one of the names for the Matic Principle.
Venus, Sai Sushuri, Metal – Divine Love. Even though in the West, unfortunately, this principle has been associated with only romantic love, this principle encompasses all forms of love and is the principle from which all Love and Beauty flow. The Sushuric Principle is gentle and is also related to Divine Mercy. One could argue that Jesus taught the Sushuric principle. The Sushuric Principle is also associated with the beauty of manifestation.
Mars, Sai Vikhë, Fire – Divine Protection. The Vikhelic Principle is both easy to understand and difficult to explain. The Vikhelic Principle is the principle of conflict. In order for there to be manifestation, there must be separation from the Divine. Once this separation takes place, conflict becomes inevitable. On a spiritual level, the Vikhelic Principle is the struggle between Good and Evil. In the history of this world, the Vikhelic Principle is overbalanced to an extreme, but in its balanced form, it is a protective principle. When the Vikhelic Principle is balanced, the conflict is against demons, including one’s own internal demons, and not against other human beings. The Vihkelic Principle is also the principle of Free Will and is the ability to choose between Good and Evil.
Jupiter, Sai Thamë, Wood. Divine Harmony. The Thamic Principle is the principle of order and harmony. This is the principle of the Music of the Spheres, and governs the rhythms of all life. The Thamic Principle also governs societal structures and relationships. Axial Beings, such as humans, have the choice to either join with the harmony of the Thamic principle or to set themselves against it. Non-Axial Beings, such as animals and angels, do not have such a choice and will naturally take their proper place in the Celestial Harmony.
For a fuller description of these Principles, I will refer you to this article.
On the human level, the Seven Divine Principles are mediated through the Twelve Fundamental Archetypes of humankind, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. Just as the planets are the reflections of the Seven Divine Principles, the constellations of the zodiac are the physical reflections of the Twelve Fundamental Archetypes. When the Divine Principles are mediated through the Archetypes, they may be enhanced or hindered through that mediation, depending on the Archetype.
The mediation of the Principles through the Archetypes is the essentialist basis for astrology. It is also the basis for all other traditional sciences, such as alchemy and traditional medicine. Sadly, this knowledge and understanding has largely been lost in the West. Astrology is one of the few disciplines that still actively studies and applies these principles.
Understanding astrology in this manner changes nothing and changes everything. If nothing else, this understanding gives us a foundation to stand on when we are faced with substantialist criticisms of our craft. I think that many of us, including myself, feel pressure to “justify” our craft in light of “scientific evidence,” but I think that this is ultimately a mistake and a cheapening of the great heritage that we have been given by our forerunners. Of course, we need to use observation and research to refine our accuracy and our skills at application (which will be the subject of my next article), but we do not have to “justify” ourselves based on the “scientific world view” of rationalism. Girded with an essentialist understanding of the underlying principles, we can avoid the trap of insecurely practicing our craft as a modern pseudo-science, and instead, we can boldly practice our craft in the manner of our forerunners, as a respectable and useful traditional science.