Z Ray 1 (sacred planet)
Method: The forging and construction of new forms from raw materials
|Rulerships:||Orthodox: none Esoteric: Taurus Virgo Hierarchical: Taurus|
||Exaltation: Aries Taurus Fall: Libra Scorpio Pisces Detriment: Capricorn Aquarius|
|Paired planet (Ray 1):||Pluto|
|Symbol:||Z A semicircle surmounted by an upward-pointing arrow.|
Vulcan: general information
Vulcan is not a recognised astronomical planet, and although “vulcanoids” in stable intra-Mercurial orbits are a hypothesis, and there is Icarus, an asteroid with an eccentric 1.12 year orbit that passes between the Sun and Mercury but also travels beyond Mars. However, the “Vulcan” spotted at various points in the past and used as an incorrect reason for the slight irregularity in the orbit of Mercury (now explained by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, plus the cumulative effect of gravitational fields from other planets) has not reappeared, nor did it provide enough data for a reliable ephemeris. However, as a planet supposedly never more than 8° from the Sun, this is how it is used, for instance, in the astrological software Solar Fire. It is the astrologer’s decision whether to take the Vulcan ephemeris literally and consider it a physical planet obscured from discovery, and/or view it as either an etheric or symbolic planet. Conventional astrology already contains other symbolic points, for instance the lunar apogee and perigee (furthest “micromoon” and nearest “supermoon” points from Earth, symbolised by Priapus and Lilith).
If it is an “etheric planet” that exists at finer wavelengths than our current instruments can detect, it may never be “discovered”. However, as a planet with a definite symbolic meaning and presence in esoteric astrology, there are clear guidelines in Alice Bailey’s work that provide interpretation in the esoteric horoscope. (see David Walters, Vulcan: An Etheric or Physical Planet? on the Esoteric Astrologer website, and The Icarus Myth on AstroFix).
As an aside, there is a cryptic reference to “Vulcan and Neptune in opposition”, meant in the occult but not literal astrological sense, suggesting that Neptune opposing Sun (with Vulcan) would symbolise a more personal version of the description:
The Law of Sacrifice and Death is ‘in a mysterious way’ the reversal of the first law, that of Vibration. It is Vulcan and Neptune in opposition which is as yet an almost incomprehensible thing to us. (Treatise on Cosmic Fire 597, in EA 666)
The roles of the two Ray 1 planets Vulcan and Pluto echo the above in their rulerships of Taurus and Pisces in the “Transmutation of desire into sacrifice and… individual will into… [spiritual] will. The World Saviour” (EA 67)
There are cryptic references to the work of various esoteric schools throughout Esoteric Astrology, and Vulcan is mentioned as The School of Fiery Stones:
There is a curious connection between the human units who pass through its halls and the mineral kingdom. The human units on the earth scheme are called ‘the living stones’; on the Vulcan they are called ‘fiery stones.’
Vulcan veiled by the Moon
The idea behind this is that the Moon is a remnant from a previous phase in cosmic evolution:
…before the great disruption in an earlier solar system which led to the Moon becoming a dead planet, the energies of these stars and certain of the planets which were produced through their activity, were all focussed in and transmitted by the Moon in a most mysterious yet powerful manner. (EA 400. From Taurus—see the Moon)
The moon is a dead form; it has no emanation at all. That is why the moon is spoken of in the ancient teaching as “veiling either Vulcan or Uranus.” (EA 13)
Vulcan can be veiled by the Sun or Moon, depending on the context and other factors in the chart, for which the esoteric astrologer must call on a blend of intuition and logical analysis—the weightings of crosses and rays, and a feel for the person’s current focus, issues and life goals. However, the Moon is the veiling body for the Virgoan and Aquarian rulerships of Vulcan.
At its most basic level, Vulcan is present in the very early awakenings when people start to develop self-awareness, but at a more refined level the Moon can also veil Uranus, as well as Neptune (the “three veiled planets”):
…astrologers would do well to experiment … and (instead of working with the moon) let them work with Vulcan when dealing with [those at the point of gaining awareness] and with Uranus when considering the highly [aware]. They would find some interesting and convincing results eventuate. (EA 13)
It is in [Virgo] that the Moon in its own right of antiquity and of ancient thoughtform control, and also as veiling both Vulcan and Neptune, connects the force of Virgo with the energies of Taurus, of Cancer and of Aquarius. This is of peculiar importance for it relates the form building aspect with the consciousness aspect which, at a high stage of development, produces the manifestation of the [soul] (named “the Christ-child” in Bailey’s post-Christian terminology). (EA 273)
Spiritual will, Vulcan, Pluto, and the pointers of the Great Bear
In the passage below, Pluto is called an “esoteric planet” along with Vulcan, although the presumption is that this doesn’t mean it’s a sacred planet:
Within our solar system, Vulcan and Pluto are expressions or custodians of this first ray energy and are, as I have told you, esoteric planets. The first indication of the true spiritual will only begins to manifest upon the Path of Discipleship … Vulcan and Pluto are related to the two Pointers and are only now beginning, in any definite and clear manner, to affect human response. (EA 96)
The path of this spiritual will as it comes to our planet is via: the pointer Merak, Aries, Vulcan/Pluto, and Shamballa.
- Dubhe: nearest to the Pole Star
- connected to Pluto, “expressive of a lower aspect of the will, which—in speaking of humanity—we call self-will”
- Merak: furthest from the Pole Star
- connected to Vulcan, “a great reservoir or focal point for divine energy, carrying out [cosmic] purpose”
Aries as “the will to create or to manifest” is the primary transmitter of First Ray energy to the two planets in our solar system, and Shamballa as “the Custodian of the Plan for our planet” (Earth’s “head chakra”) is the agent of transmission, stepping it down to a human level. (EA 195-196)
Where the Moon (or perhaps the Sun) is the esoteric or hierarchical ruler in any sign, the following three veiled areas and associated planets may act as a guide to assessing whether Vulcan is the “veiled” planet:
- Vulcan: physical
- Neptune: astral
- Uranus: mental
This is, however, a general guide and not a fixed rule—as always, the astrologer’s intuition will need to determine, in an esoteric chart for any particular individual, which of the three veiled planets applies in the relevant signs.
…the Moon is usually regarded as “veiling” or “hiding” Vulcan, Neptune or Uranus… These three—which form a triangle of immense creative potency—determine or condition the physical, astral and mental natures, thus creating the personality, the ‘mother’ or matter principle symbolised by the mutable cross, that nourish and feed the life of the inner self or soul, until the time comes for that inner self to awaken at the first initiation.
(edited from EA 106-7)
Orthodox: none ⇧
Vulcan has no orthodox (exoteric) rulerships: “Vulcan is never an exoteric ruler and only comes into real activity when… on the Path” (EA 244)
Esoteric: Taurus ⇧
Taurus: bringing about material integration to clear inner vision, the forging of a worthy vehicle for the self: Vulcan crafts the personality from material experience.
…Taurus forges the instruments of constructive living or of destruction; …the chains which bind or create the key which unlocks the mystery of life; …this forging process, with its consequent clamour… is going on at this time in a most potent manner [during WW2]. Vulcan controls the anvil-like processes of time and strikes the blow which shapes the metal into that which is desired… (EA 374-5)
The metaphor here is that Vulcan’s connection to the mineral kingdom parallels the effect of Vulcan on the human personality, and the work we have to undertake in order to “forge ourselves” into a fitting vehicle through which to express the inner self we all have, rather than a personal self that simply reacts.
…Vulcan, the forger of metals… who works in the densest, most concrete expression of the natural world (from the human angle)… who goes down into the depths to find the material upon which to expend his innate art and to fashion that which is beautiful and useful. Vulcan is, therefore, that which stands for the soul, the individual, inner, spiritual [self]; in his activity we find the key to the soul’s task upon the eternal round of the wheel of life. …Hercules upon the Fixed Cross had to fashion his own weapons before he succeeded in the struggle. This is… a reference to the art of Vulcan…
Vulcan also rules nations at a certain stage of embryonic soul expression… and governs their activities, fashioning the instruments of war when war and conflict are the only means whereby liberation can come, though woe betide those through whom wars come. Vulcan then takes hold and—since the Middle Ages—has brought the mineral kingdom, “the depths from which supply must come,” under human control. … Vulcan… is governed by the first ray, and the first ray and the first kingdom are definitely bound together. This, therefore, brings in the Shamballa force and you consequently have an esoteric triangle of energy—will, humanity and the mineral kingdom. They have a very close rapport with each other, both from the angle of the Plan and from the expression of material selfishness. Hence the great use of minerals (iron, copper, etc.) in… war… in which the mineral kingdom is used against the human. (EA 385-6)
The “mass initiation” at that time led post-WW2 humanity towards a new beginning, when some crucial changes set up the assurances and alliances that—at the time and for many years—kept at least the worst of humanity’s destructive urges in check. Those gains have not been lost and today many people enjoy certain freedoms and access to ideas, as well as rights, that would have been hard to imagine in earlier periods. The struggle to maintain these is on the shoulders of all those who carry an inner awareness alive to injustice, selfishness and division: Ray 1, as expressed by Vulcan, has that invaluable tendency to build anew on ground that has been cleared by the more destructive Ray 1 force of the non-sacred planet Pluto.
Humanity had gone down into the caves and the depths of concretion and is ready now for an upward shift or move, this time consciously taken and taken all together. (EA 386-7)
Esoteric: Virgo ⇧
The creative aspect of The will and Ray 1 in our age, is a sense of continuity and an overall aim held steady while working around any obstacle, not by force, but by consistency and persistence.
Vulcan… brings in what might be called the endurance aspect of the will-to-be which carries the incarnated (soul) through the experiences of the dark time wherein the personality becomes the Mother in the stage of gestation, through the period of infancy upon the physical plane and through the stage of adolescence until the initiate attains full maturity. This necessitates persistence, endurance and continuity of effort and is one of the characteristics imparted or stimulated by energies pouring from Vulcan. …these …first ray attributes …are the reverse side of those usually emphasised, namely, death or the activity of the Destroyer aspect. (EA 274)
The esoteric philosophy drawn upon in Alice Bailey’s writing holds that there are three phases of our solar system, under the three rays of aspect. In order, the first phase under Ray 3 is past, we are currently in the second phase with the Sun transmitting Ray 2 energy (hence it’s allocation to Ray 2), and the third phase under Ray 1 is yet to come.
…Virgo is … identified with the third aspect… the mother principle and is believed to be the director of the energies, developed and recognised in the first solar system. It is for this reason in this solar system that Virgo is subjected predominantly to the influence of [Ray 2, Ray 4 and Ray 6] energies through Jupiter (second ray) the Moon and Mercury (fourth ray) and Neptune (sixth ray). The Moon and Mercury together indicate the activity of the higher and lower mind and are, therefore, related to the third Ray of Active Intelligence which controlled the first solar system. There is consequently only one planet, Vulcan, which is distinctly and purely first ray energy.
(EA 281 emphasis added)
The idea here being that the creative power of first ray energy can not yet be expressed in general human culture, yet it still plays a crucial role our individual psychological growth.
Hierarchical: Taurus ⇧
The “light which liberates from death” is a function of the mysterious “third unmanifested Hierarchy” (for the deeper occult role played by these “Lords of Sacrifice and Love” see EA 40), the suggestion for individuals being freedom from form control and hence liberation of the inner self or soul from the 3-fold personality. The following relationships are given in Esoteric Astrology (EA 274):
- Vulcan—First ray or endurance.
- Third Creative Hierarchy—Liberating Light.
- Virgo—The [soul]-life, latent and unexpressed (as is the 3rd Creative Hierarchy).
- The Moon—The form nature, the substance of the flame which lights the way.
The theme of the mineral kingdom as being forged by humanity is echoed here at a global scale:
Hierarchically… conditioning the planet and determining the fact that humanity is the macrocosm of the microcosm and that the fourth kingdom fashions or conditions all subhuman kingdoms. (EA 185)
This is a process of interaction between matter and the life and purpose of humanity, as vehicles of expression are created, whether these are literally forged from the mineral kingdom, the substances we ingest to create and sustain our physical bodies, or behaviours that determine our impact on the planet as well as the collective material form of expression for the human kingdom. Vulcan symbolises how the material forms we need are built from what exists at an atomic level in the mineral kingdom, or at subtler levels or being, where different kinds of quality are required—this is the role of the Third Creative Hierarchy, the unmanifested Devas (form-builders) who are “the flower of the earlier system” (EA 40) i.e. the first of the three solar systems which was under the third aspect, as ours—the second—is under Ray 2.
The decanates in Esoteric Astrology are not given consistently. They are sometimes reversed and other times given in the familiar direction. In conventional astrology they simply follow the rulerships of the signs in the elemental triad. They are consequently not always clear, and neither is the direction of travel. Alice Bailey draws on Theosophical Astrologers Sepharial (Walter Gorn Old) and Alan Leo, and for some decanates gives fresh esoteric replacements. Further, information on the decanates of some signs differs from that given elsewhere for the same sign, whereas in other cases they’re stated clearly. Some decanate rulerships also coincide with esoteric rulerships, or hint at planets veiled by the Sun or Moon, while others are explained as substitutes for planets with a related influence. For more information, see notes about the decanates
Vulcan has no dignities in exoteric astrology, but there are hints and sympathies that connect the planet in a similar way. These are therefore tentative suggestions from Vulcan’s rulerships and its veiling by the Sun and Moon. The suggestions of esoteric exaltations are by ray sympathy, while the role of the Sun and Moon when they veil Vulcan suggests possible signs of detriment.
Exaltation in Aries ⇧
Ray 1 is the connection here, but operates differently than in Taurus. As already covered (see the Overview tab) “the spiritual will as it comes to our planet is via: the pointer Merak, Aries, Vulcan/Pluto…” so that Aries—the primary transmitter of First Ray energy to the two planets—carries “the will to create or to manifest” in a form accessible to humanity. Aries is “the birthplace of ideas” as they take shape and are impelled towards material form (EA 92). The exaltation of the Sun in Aries carries with it the implication that the creative force of Vulcan is also strengthened in this sign. (EA 195-196)
Exaltation in Taurus ⇧
The Taurus connection also concerns Ray 1; specifically the Moon veiling Vulcan, but also Vulcan as the esoteric and Hierarchical ruler:
Symbolically this means that the form side of life is a powerfully controlling factor… with which [we] must ever reckon. The Moon is the Mother of the form and in this case veils or hides Vulcan… The Moon, therefore, stands here for the fashioner or moulder of the form, bringing in both the feminine and masculine aspects of form-building, the dual functions of Father-Mother. … This process of interplay brings about two phases of the needed fashioning:
- A process wherein is created a form of great potency in which self-interest and personality aims and desires are the motives bringing about activity. The Moon and Taurus activity.
- The processes, self-applied by the awakening Taurian, wherein the form nature is fashioned anew and motivated in a different manner and so is “raised up…” … and glorified. The Vulcan and Taurus activity.
… Through desire translated into terms of spiritual will, the form is esoterically “exalted” and of this fact the exaltation of the Moon in Taurus is a symbol. To this the ordinary astrological symbol of the Bull’s horns testifies. This is the crescent Moon and also the symbol of the destructive nature of the form life of the Bull. …in this connection the destruction or death of the form and the ending of form influence thereby is the goal of the process which changes desire into aspiration. (EA 399-400)
Fall in Libra ⇧
The proposed falls of Vulcan here are taken from the creative effect of Ray 1 as channeled through Vulcan. As with Pluto, the influence of Ray 1 is not conducive to the necessary balance and temporary peace of the “turning-point”.
Fall in Scorpio ⇧
Pluto is the first ray planet needed here, in its destruction of outgrown personal elements. The creative, buiding process of the first ray as transmitted by Vulcan is not the focus for the Scorpio experience.
Fall in Pisces ⇧
As with Scorpio, the ultimate death of the individual self is the domain of Pluto as it rules Pisces esoterically and hierarchically, not Vulcan.
Detriment in Capricorn ⇧
Since “the power of the Moon is lessened” here, Vulcan in its role as the creator of forms in matter is also implied since, “as evolution proceeds, the power of the moon, which is the symbol and ruler of form, grows less and less, and … upon the reversed wheel is [we are] steadily [freeing oursleves] from the control of matter. The attractive lure of that which is material wanes increasingly.” (EA 170-172)
Detriment in Aquarius ⇧
the power of the Sun “is lessened” in this sign and—since “Vulcan is a substitute for the Sun; it is spoken of sometimes as being veiled by the Sun and at others it stands for the Sun itself”—we can assume by inference that having “reached a point of balance” in Aquarius, the first ray energy of Vulcan is also in abeyance (EA 146). This is borne out by Uranus being veiled by the Moon as the hierarchical ruler of Aquarius, so Vulcan is not the focus here.
As one of the rulers of the fixed cross, the Moon as hierarchical ruler of Aquarius veils Uranus, not Vulcan. (EA 138, 395)