The Planetary Glyphs
by Andrew J. Bevan, QHP, DMS Astrol. (c) 1993
New addition including Outer Planets -(c) 2003
The glyphs belonging to the seven traditional planets consist of three symbols;
The Circle : O - assigned the Sun, the Greater Light
The Semi-Circle and Crescent : ) - assigned the Moon, the Lesser Light
The Cross : + - which belongs to the five lesser, wandering points of light.
Circle and the Sun -
The circle represents the Spirit, which is perfect, complete, eternal and everlasting. Like a cycle or closed circuit it is self-sufficient and has the ability of self-preservation. The circle demonstrates a continuing whole, like a never-ending tone or thread of unbroken consciousness. It represents the Divine, the real and absolute truth. The circles encompassing boundary shows collection and a gathering of unity. Phenomena occurring on the one and same horizon they are embraced by a symbolic relatedness and drawn together of a reality that remains invisible and lies beyond the concept of Man. The Spirit is an eternal part of Man's being which comes from outside the confinement of time and space.
The Dot in the middle is the inspiration and spark of life; the fountain, source, seed or germ. The circle with the dot represents an eternal centre of pulsating vitality. Within Man it represents our true self, essence, core and centre.
The Semi-Circle, Crescent and the Moon -
The crescent has the shape and form of a semicircle. It represents the soul and mind, a half perfect, half divine and changing part of Mans being. The figure is broken and has a visible and an invisible portion. It represents something that is half conscious and half unconscious. The visible half makes room for receptiveness, reflections, feelings, memory and mental facilities. The empty half opens up for the unknown, the irrational, imagination, emotion, insecurity and instinct. The continuing change from visible and invisible portions of the symbol brings forth an equal division of tone and pause, causing a pulsating rhythm and concept of time. The half-circle is sensitive, vulnerable and easily influenced. It represents things that are under change or going through a phase. The soul is the bearer of the personality; an experiencing, growing and passing expression of the true self.
" )" represents the waxing Moon which symbolizes growth, expansion and the opening of new possibilities. In older astrology books "(" can be found drawn into charts to indicate a waning Moon. The waning phase indicates old age, weakness and destruction. It is a time to end, pull together, return, receive, absorb and collect.
The Cross and the planets +
The cross represents the material, imperfect and mortal; that which is divided and in the dark. The figure shows the intersection between two broken lines which mark the position of the planets in their orbit, sphere or fields, which are separated from the Lights, the divine and semi-divine. The lines are constructed in a normal. The intersection gives coordinates which define time and place, hence the structure of the material world. This is the measure of that which is the case, natural or normal, although only in a broken, separated and illusive manner.
The figure has its four sensitive extensions at the outer points of the cross. There are five planets. Man has five senses to observe and experience the natural world. The cross also reminds of something with a root but extending beyond. Our body has five outer-points or extensions (head, two arms and two legs), five fingers and five toes. The construction symbolizes a presence, a place of meeting or touching.
The cross falls together towards a centre of gravity which gathers together the four elements; fire, earth, air and water. The arms of the cross describe the four corners of the world; north, south, east and west. The quadrates determine matter as placed within a four dimensional system; length, height, width and time.
The traditional symbol for Mars consisted of a cross placed above a circle. It is the glyph used to signify the planet that is situated in the sphere directly above the Sun. This shows the material world above the spiritual and divine. In this way Mars represents physical power and an upper grip on existence. To handle with power. The Norwegian word for upper grip, "overgrep", also means assault. Not only is Mars the planet of war, but the symbol is also used to signify the male species, often called the stronger sex. Over the years the symbol has been changed to represent a spear emerging from a shield. It also reminds of the male sexual organ in its extending state and is a symbol of lust and passion.
The cross below the circle means "the nearest sphere below the Sun". Here divinity, harmony and unity represented by the circle dominates above the material world and makes Venus an object of beauty and admiration. The symbol is commonly used to represent the female species or woman, crudely called the weaker sex. The cross below the circle gives her a lower grip on existence. Her power is passive and remains in attracting, conducting, persuading and seducing. What Mars has to fight and work for, Venus gets for free.
The glyph of Mercury consists of both a circle, crescent and cross. To be correct, he is actually a corruption of two figures; a cross below a circle and a crescent below a cross. The latter is turned upside down and merged to provide us with the familiar version. Mercury receives the figure of Venus because he by longitude always will be close to the Sun. A cross is placed above a crescent because his sphere is closest above that of the Moon. To make it at work, the lunar symbol is turned to the advantage of the solar version. This is because it is only when the Moon is at new that she corporally can conjunct Mercury. This cannot occur at a full Moon and the circle and crescent cannot be placed at either end of the cross. According to Norse mythology, the parallel of Mercury, Odin, became all-knowing by drinking from Mimir's fountain. The price of this was sacrificing his one eye, ruled by the Moon. When the new Moon turns her dark side towards the Earth we cannot see her.
The crescent on top represents the wings on his helmet. They make him moveable, agile and nimble. Mercury is the messenger of the gods. The crescent makes him receptive and alert. The crescent above the circle shows an upper hold on part of the semi-divine, which makes impression an impulse. There are continuing exchanges of reports and information. The circle in the middle provides the initial power to gather, process and distribute. The cross below puts all practical matters under his dominance. It provides his ability to sense, measure and reason. The crescent, circle and cross makes him a living nerve, a businessman, commercial and a master of illusions. Because all the symbols are represented he is familiar with all.
Jupiter and Saturn
The symbol for Jupiter is a cross with a crescent extended on his right arm. Traditionally the symbol of Saturn was probably the exact reverse, a cross with a crescent hanging from the left arm. The crescent they receive because their spheres are separated from and not next to that of the Sun; and because the Moon appears with the superior planets when she is at her full.
The cross represents the four corners of the world and where east/west is the horizontal plane as observed in the horoscope. With Jupiter the waxing Moon is stretching up from the ground, attached to the upper side of the rising ascendant. This symbolises optimism, growth and expanded horizons. With Saturn the waning Moon hangs from the descendent. This puts a lid on the natural world. Just like Saturn is the last and uppermost of traditional planets. Saturn symbolizes old age and endings. The waning Moon prevents growth, sticks down into the earth and brakes. Jupiter will encourage, enrich, promote and provide. Saturn will discourage, deprave, hinder, burry or engrave. Ivy Goldstein-Jacobsen says that Jupiter is forgiving and Saturn forgetting. The Norwegian word for encourage is "oppmuntre", a corruption of the words up-moon-tree!
Benefics and malefics
The symbols belonging to the benefics Venus and Jupiter both have their Light placed above the material cross. The malefics, Mars and Saturn, have the cross above the Lights.
The Outer Planets
Uranus is the first of the outer planets and marks our discovery of the new worlds. Our understanding of the solar system is reborn with the discovery of Uranus. The glyphs of the outer planets are still built up of the circle, semi-circle and the cross, but bypass the structural order of symbols as found within the Ptolemaic universe ( i.e. the planetary glyphs are expressed in accord with their apparent closeness and relatedness to the motion of the Sun and Moon). The orbits and motions of the outer planets do not relate to the Sun and the Moon in the same structural sense but represent an expanded perception of our reality.
The symbol consists of a cross mounted above a circle, but with is contained on either side by a semi-circle diverging outwards )-(. The material cross upon the circle of the perfect spirit is akin to the symbol of Mars and a token of violence, action and force. Placed between the two semi-circles of the receptive and half-perfect, this becomes the planet of change more than any other. Two-fold receptability has an upper grip on existence. The symbol of Mars is as placed between two worlds and in an open gateway. The symbol represents the joining and collision of worlds. We see the masculine sexual organ in penetration and union with its feminine counterpart. The diverging semi-circles ) ( are like vibrating lips. Uranus is so absolutely propelled, so easily excited and electrical. It is placed in a state of existentialism between the future - ) and the past - (. The physical is at its most receptive and unstable, but also closer to the intuitive and divine here than with any other planet. Uranus is said to be a spiritual Sun, a higher octave of Mercury and as shown, bears parallels to Mars.
The symbol of Neptune is most similar to that of Venus, but with the receptability of Mercury. Here the half-perfect, semi-divine, sensitive and vulnerable semi-circle is mounted upon the cross of the physical senses. The soul reigns above the material. Neptune has an expression of divine beauty similar to Venus. Both planets have a lower, passive and persuasive grip on reality, but with Neptune it is the abstract and impressionable that rules. Neptune represents soulistic love, rather than spiritual love - more openly impressed by the questionable and void. Neptune may be a planet of escapism and illusion. A.T.Mann says that matter is surmounted by the soul, but which simultaneously penetrates it. Neptune indicates the reality of the psyche; the super-natural. Neptune is a higher octave of Venus.
Pluto is the higher octave of Mars but reminds me of Mercury. The glyph consists of the same elements but which are put together in a different order. With Mercury it is the Moon, which is corrupted, but with Pluto it is the Sun. Hence, the symbol reflects a solar eclipse above the material. As with Mercury the gathering of symbols shows that Pluto is common among all the other planets, as death and destruction does comes to all things. Not only is the Sun eclipsed, but also does the Moon turn her shadow side to Earth. Hence, Pluto is ruler of the shadowlands and underworld. Also, amoung gods, when coming to the realms of the living worlds Pluto was known to conceal himself by the means of an invisible cloak. As the circle (Spirit) fills the semi-circle (Soul) above the cross (Material), the Pluto symbol is the magical wand and alter of sacrifice. The planet endows forced circumstances, magical powers and hidden riches.