Esoteric astrology key concepts
Major astrological conceptual shifts
As well as offering powerful new techniques to astrologers, there are some significant distinctions between contemporary astrology and esoteric astrology, including a few which may be hard to digest at first glance. The most important are listed here:
At some point, this section will become a more comprehensive glossary with links to more information about terms specific to—or significantly new in—esoteric astrology. The whole will gradually be expanded into downloadable extracts from a forthcoming book that will serve as a detailed, in-depth companion to the website.
- The seven rays
- this system is based on the symbolic meanings of first seven numbers and the fundamental properties of the first three. These primary three rays of aspect and successive four rays of attribute appear in esoteric philosophy as the seven rays.
- Three tiers of planetary rulers for each sign
- To reflect the layers of shifting meaning that sign has as we move through our development, there are three layers of planetary rulership; the first being the traditional astrological planetary rulers, the second esoteric rulers take over when we begin to develop in awareness, while the third hierarchical rulerships not only cover represent the deeper esoteric symbology of each sign at a cosmic level, but also play a symbolically related role once our consciousness is whole, integrated and fully-aware. Depending on our state of being, this may be in short ‘peak experiences’, when we are particularly focussed or have resolved some significant issue, or (gradually over time and honed though experience) permanently.
- Sun, Moon and Ascendant in new roles
- A fundamental concept in esoteric astrology is that the Ascendant represents the ‘sun of possibility’; in other words, what we may become or—more precisely—what we most need to learn, and is an essential key to the esoteric horoscope. The Moon represents what we have been (for better or worse, our instinctual/inherited selves), while the Sun stands for our present personality and chosen life direction.
- The ‘triangles’
- These important esoteric relationships each have specific meanings, and exist primarily between various combinations of signs, and between signs and planets, stars and rays. Information about them is scattered throughout Esoteric Astrology but gathered into a coherent list on this site. For more information read the introductory text about triangles. A complete listing of triangles that feature any given sign or planet appear as a drop-down menu under their section.
The reversal of the wheel
During the long process of learning by experience, Esoteric Astrology holds that individuals progress through the signs in the same direction as the slow precession of the equinoxes: in reverse order, from Aries back through Pisces and ending in Taurus. Once self-awareness dawns, with the consequent more rapid and turbulent progress familiar to anyone whose consciousness is evolving, the order is reversed to the same direction as the familiar tropical (yearly) zodiac. This shift is sympolised by ‘moving’ from the Mutable cross to the Fixed, and then to the Cardinal. However, in the complex reality of experience and development, the interplay between the crosses is more fluid and dynamic.
The planets in esoteric astrology
- Planets as expressions of the seven rays
- Each planet is associated with one of the seven rays, with the meanings of some (e.g. Venus, Saturn) being subtly shifted in esoteric astrology. Two of the seven rays—the 5th and 7th—are expressed by a single planet, while the second planet for two others—the 2nd and the 4th—is represented by the Sun and Moon ‘veiling’ one of three possible planets according to context, each representing their own rays—Vulcan, Neptune or Uranus.
- ‘Sacred’ and ‘non-sacred’ planets
- If planets are regarded as self-contained entities, this unfortunately-worded distinction is between those that are ‘integrated’ or have aligned their planetary ‘soul’ with their material existence, and those that have yet to build that connection (e.g. Earth, where human life is most definitely not always aligned with the interests of the planet). In the esoteric horoscope, sacred planets are held to aid the parallel process in human life, while non-sacred planets concern life in the ‘three worlds of human endeavour’ i.e. mind, emotions and physical life.
Vulcan and Earth as planets
Introducing these two planets—one legendary, the other on which we live—is one of the most challenging differences to absorb.
- Earth as an astrological planet
- If the normal geocentric chart borrows one position from heliocentric astrology (i.e. as if we were living on the Sun) Earth is always opposite the Sun. However, it is not so much the position of Earth that is important but the symbology behind Earth’s esoteric rulerships (Sagittarius);
- Vulcan in esoteric astrology
- it is now extremely unlikely that a significant undiscovered physical planet exists between Mercury and the Sun, although smaller ‘Vulcanoid’ bodies may exist composed of material from the very early solar system. Some esoteric astrologers argue that Vulcan exists only on etheric levels, but—once again—the importance of Vulcan is symbolic, and emerges once its association with certain areas of esoteric astrology become clear. The only ephemeris for Vulcan is based on unconfirmed and brief sightings of a disc passing across the Sun.