Astrology As In Astronomy
The Sun: It is roughly 93 million miles away and every square yard of surface on it sends 70,000 horsepower streaming out into space. The Sun gets this vast amount of energy from the hydrogen gas within it. The tremendous mass of this star – 335, 000 times that of the Earth – generates gravitational stresses within itself that cause its internal temperature to rise to 10 million degrees. Atoms of hydrogen fuse into the element helium at this temperature. We know that it takes four hydrogen atoms to make one helium atom with a little bit of matter left over. That matter is transformed into nuclear energy. Each second, 616 million tons of hydrogen form 612 million tons of helium. The extra four million tons are sent out into space as energy – heat, x-rays, visible light, radio waves, and so forth.
The Sun is not exactly a gas. It is a plasma, a fourth state of matter made up of separated subatomic particles. Its density is about the same as that of molasses.
Not many people know that the Sun rotates on its axis in a way comparable to the Earth. As its middle – the solar equator – it makes one complete revolution in 25 days. In other words, a day on the Sun would be roughly comparable to one hour on Earth. The Sun, as was noted before, also moves through space.
It was only natural that primitive people associated the Sun with the life force. Scientists now believe that it was the Sun’s radiation of many millions of years ago that was responsible for forming the first molecules that carried life. And for 2, 000 years astrologers have equated Sun with the maximum energy that a person invests in being what he is.
The Moon: When astronauts landed on the Moon, they returned with more problems than answers. Our Earth’s sole satellite seemed to have a much more complex nature than had ever been supposed. One of the problems is that some of the rock samples brought back seem to be older than the most ancient rocks of Earth, suggesting that the Moon was formed before the Earth. This has brought back the idea that the Moon was a wanderer in space until it was captured by Earth, perhaps no longer than ten thousand years ago. Support for this idea has come from the discovery of mascons, areas of Moon which have an extraordinary density – enough so their gravitational pull can make a spacecraft wobble in its orbit over the Moon. The mascons are thought to be pieces of asteroids or large meteors which slammed into the lunar surface, possibly during a passage through the asteroid belt.
The moon is a little over a thousand miles in diameter and a little less than a quarter-million miles away, as it average distance. Its disc in the sky is exactly the same size as the Sun’s. Thus when the Moon is exactly between the Sun and Earth we see the solar eclipse. A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth is exactly between the Sun and Moon. At that time the shadow of the Earth obscures the Moon’s face.
Eclipses have been regarded with awe since prehistoric times. To traditional astrologers, an eclipse occurring in a given house on a subject’s chart is thought to adversely affect the matters governed by that house. An eclipse in the chart of a country is regarded as a very ill omen by mundane astrologers.
Ordinarily, though, the Moon is associated with mood and particularly with the temperament that molds the personality as it is presented to the environment. As a significator, it refers to portable quantities of money, to mature women in general, and to the wife and mother.
Mercury: The planet closest to the Sun is Mercury, an airless ball of craggy rocks with a sunlight temperature hot enough to scorch this page and a night temperature believed to be 200 degrees below zero.
For a long time astronomers thought that Mercury did not rotate. They believed it always kept the same side towards the Sun. Then radar measurements showed that this was not so. Mercury rotates slowly, three times round on its axis for every two trips around the Sun. It makes that trip around the Sun in 88 days.
Though Mercury is 36 million miles from the Sun, as viewed from the Earth, it can never make any important astrological aspect with it except the conjunction. In fact, just because it is always so closed to the Sun, it is hard to see. The ancient Babylonians said this indicated it was delusive and deceitful and they linked it with dishonesty. As a result Mercury is associated with thievery. Later on, the Greeks tied it in with their messenger-god, Hermes. When Hermes was associated with the Egyptian god of wisdom, Thoth, Mercury also became associated with intellectuality.
Venus: Sentimental astronomers used to call Venus the twin sister of Earth since it is just about the same size and seemed to have a habitable atmosphere. Later explorations by space probes have shown that Venus is nothing like Earth at all.
Nobody knows what the surface of Venus looks like. It is completely covered by clouds. Measurements of the surface temperature by sophisticated instruments reveal that it is hot enough to make wood burst into flame. It is a very dry planet, and the thick layer of clouds that covers it may be frozen carbon dioxide crystals, not water vapor.
Venus is a dark planet because of its heavy cloud blanket, but what light there is would produce unusual optical effects due to the way it is diffracted through the atmosphere. For instance, if you were to stand on a flat plain on Venus, it would seem that you stood on a bowl-shaped depression. You would see an image of yourself further off. Beyond that would be another image. The impression would be akin to that you get by standing between opposed mirrors: an apparently infinite series of smaller and smaller images of yourself.
In spite of its ugly physical characteristics, Venus is still used by astrologers as the correlate of any pleasurable activity – sex, game-playing, dressing up, art-work and spending. As a significator it relates to the nubile woman, the sweetheart, the fiancé. It also stands for jewelry, works of art, and entertainments.
Mars: Venus is 67 million miles from the Sun, about two thirds of the Earth distance. At about double its distance, on the other side of the Earth, lies the planet Mars. That planet is probably the most widely publicized planet in the solar system. This is due to the fact that as long ago as 1877 the Italian astronomer G.V. Schiaparelli thought that he saw canals on it, which implied intelligent thought, so many people speculated on what sort of beings must have built them. H. G. Wells contributed his ideas in War of the Worlds and Edgar Rice Burroughs in his Martian series. For a long time Mars was the darling of the science-fiction writers.
However, in 1965, the space probe Mariner IV sent back 22 pictures of the planet from a distance of 6200 miles. There were no canals. There was only a bleak, cratered surface like that of the Moon. There was one strange thing to be noticed, however. One area, some 400 by 600 miles in extent, showed absolutely no craters at all. Some scientists thought this might indicate an erosion process which had wiped the craters. Considering that the Martian atmosphere is only one percent as dense as the Earth’s, others wonder what that erosion process could be.
As we see it in the sky, Mars has a reddish color. Apparently, this comes from a large amount of iron oxide in its surface. At any rate, for centuries it has been associated with violence, blood, bloodshed, war… The tendency of modern astrologers is to associate it with the masculine principle in nature, with aggression, activity, impulsiveness. It is linked to iron and with anything made of iron, such as tools and weapons.
Asteroid belt: Mars is the last of the group known to astronomers as terrestrial – earthlike – planets. Beyond it and the first of the second group of Jovian planets, lies a band of mystery known as the asteroid belt. Asteroids are relatively tiny planetoids ranging in size from a diameter of 218 miles down to less than a mile. It is believed that there may be as many as 50, 000 planetoids though less than 1700 have actually been studied. For a long time astronomers thought that the asteroids were the remains of a broken up planet or planets. However, since it is apparent that they total less than one-thousandth of the mass of the Earth, it could not have been a very big planet, perhaps even smaller than our Moon. One school of thought is that our Moon, winging in from outer space, received its pockmarked surface, its craters and mascons, when it passed through the asteroid belt on the way to being captured by our gravitational field.
Jupiter: Beyond the asteroids, at a distance of nearly half a billion miles from the Sun, is the planet Jupiter, a body so great that it is larger than all the other planets put together. In recent years, more and more have been discovered about Jupiter, even though not much is known about is actual physical structure. It is covered by an atmosphere of gases which may be 2500 miles deep. Whether it has a solid core or not is still debated. Judging from what is known of its mass – only one tenth of what it should be if it were entirely solid – there may be a solid core in a thick atmosphere of hydrogen, helium, methane and ammonia. The presence of methane and ammonia is interesting to astronomers because they believe that once the Earth had the same sort of atmosphere and its molecules were ordered by solar radiation into substances that would support life.
One of the strange things about Jupiter is that it gives off more energy that it receives from the Sun. The reason for this is not known. It also emits radio waves, a point of interest to some amateur radio operators on Earth who are able to pick them up with relatively simple equipment. The messages do not spell anything, however. In the southern hemisphere of Jupiter there is a patch known as a “great red spot”. It is 25, 000 miles long and about a third of that in breadth. It remains one of the more obscure mysteries of the planet; doubly so in the past few years, because it seems to be moving. Jupiter has 12 moons. The largest, Ganymede by name, is larger than Mercury, and astronomers have observed that it has an atmosphere, the only planetary satellite that does.
Saturn: Saturn is nearly ten times the diameter of Earth, but its density is less than that of water.. It has been remarked that if an ocean of adequate size could be found, Saturn would float in it.
The main identifying characteristic of Saturn is its system of rings. These appear to be solid when viewed at an angle, but disappear when viewed edgewise. This suggests that they are composed of fine particles of dust, the remnants of a destroyed satellite, which whirl around the planet in orbit. Saturn’s composition seems to be similar to Jupiter’s.
Saturn’s slow movements across the skies were remarked by the ancients who viewed him as an old man and equated him with the autumn of life.
The Greeks called him Kronos, the god of time. The Romans knew him by his present name. Astrologers consider that his basic principle is exactly opposite to that of Jupiter. Instead of expansion, he relates to whatever restricts or restrains.
Uranus: There was a flurry among both astronomers and astrologers when Uranus was discovered in 1781. For 2000 years it had been believed that there were only seven bodies in the solar system and astrologers had quite a job working Uranus into their scheme.
Uranus remains mucho of a mystery because it is so far away – 1, 7 billion miles from the Sun – but it seems to have a composition similar to Jupiter and Saturn. It makes a complete circuit of the Sun in 84 years, but spins so fast that its day is only 11 hours long.
The most unusual thing about Uranus is that it is lying on its side. Its equator passes through the points where its north and south poles ought to be. For some reason, Uranus was early associated with revolution and political independence. It has also mysteriously been linked to the brotherhood of man. Actually to the modern astrologer, it relates to sudden and disruptive action. With Mars, it makes a good significator of a gun-shot wound or automobile crash, but with Venus it can mean an impetuous love affair.
Neptune: Neptune was discovered 65 years after Uranus at the beginning of public interest in spiritualism. For this reason it is often referred to in 19th century mystical literature as a spiritual planet. Neptune is smaller than Uranus, about three and a half times the size of Earth, but it is nearly three billion miles from the Sun. It cannot be seen with the naked eye. Its constitution appears to be the same as the other Jovian planets – a thick atmosphere of gases, mostly frozen, with a relatively small central core. It has the fourth largest moon in the solar system – Triton, a body 2500 miles in diameter.
The meaning of Neptune to the modern astrologer is the element of unreality – dreams, narcosis, fraud, deception. It is the significator of paranormal phenomena.
Pluto: In 1930, Clyde Tombaugh discovered the planet Pluto. It is 3, 7 billion miles from the Sun and very little has been discovered about it during the first fifty years. Most of astronomers think today that it is not a planet at all, but a moon of Neptune that has slipped out if its orbit. Pluto is more like terrestrial planet than a Jovian one. Its mass has been calculated to be only one-fifth of Earth or not much larger in mass weight than our Moon.
Astrologers worked for a long time before they were able to arrive at any conclusion as to what Pluto stood for. It seems to relate to a fierce intensity of purpose, a working-in-darkness with surprising results, eruptively presented. With Mars, Saturn, or Uranus in combination, Pluto can relate to great public disasters such as wars and earthquakes. The destruction with which it is associated is always followed by a rebuilding.
Those, then, are the bodies of the solar system that are used by astrologers for making up their charts. Whether the physical characteristics of the planets correlate with astrological phenomena is a moot point. But certainly the points of space that they occupy in the solar system have a significance that lends itself to a reasonable interpretation.
Sun and Planets. Illustration: © Megan Jorgensen