The language behind the body, plants, metals and gems
Discover new ways of looking at yourself and at the world, using the collection of astrological symbols and archetypes.
The author, Samuel Sagan, is a doctor of medicine and faculty prize-winner from Paris University. Acupuncturist, homeopath, and longtime practitioner of alternative medicines, he is now the director of the Clairvision School in Sydney, Australia.
This book explores not only psychology, physiology and pathology in relation to the symbolism of astrology, but also the use of plants, flower essences, gems and homeopathic metals. While being a practical and easy-to-use manual, it reveals a fabric of meanings. It gives rarely-found explanations and provides fascinating insights where other books simply list symptoms or plants.
A reference manual for all those interested in symbolism, holistic medicine, astrology and the western esoteric tradition, and a central piece in the courses in healing and astrology offered by the Clairvision School in Sydney.
The sections which flow are excepts from the book:
1.1 Astrology as a symbolic language
1.2 First, know yourself
1.3 Planetary forces and healing
1.4 Clairvision Corpus
1.6 A note on why luminaries are called 'planets'
1.7 The Hermetic tradition
2.2 The 3 building blocks
2.3 Circle = Spirit
2.4 Crescent = Soul
2.5 Square = matter
2.6 Cross = incarnation into matter
2.7 The pictogram of the Earth
2.8 The Sun
2.9 The Moon
2.12 Antimony and pulvis
2.19 The north and south nodes of the Moon
Most people are familiar with the divination side of astrology, often debased in the form of cheap fortune telling. But there is much more to this art. Astrology is a highly refined and comprehensive symbolic language, based on a set of archetypes. It can be applied to reach a profound understanding not only of the human psyche and its transformations, but also of physiology, pathology, healing and various phenomena in nature.
The purpose of this book is to introduce this symbolic language. It concentrates on the symbolism of body and soul energies using the language of planetary forces. This journey will also take us through plants, flower essences, metals, and various principles of alchemy and esotericism.
I have often heard people comment that after following Clairvision courses on planetary forces, they started seeing the world completely differently. Common facts can come to be read in a new and fascinating way, revealing archetypal forces at play behind plants, objects, and people's behaviour and relationships.
"Know thyself, and thou shalt know the universe and all the gods."
Your first task in this exploration is to understand which planetary force(s) are the most characteristic of your personality. This may shed light on many elements in your personal history, for instance why you find it difficult to relate to certain types of people, or why certain activities attract you more than others.
To get the best out of this astrological adventure, it is recommended that you adopt an active attitude towards the knowledge. The material is not just to be read, but to be used. Start by questioning everything around you: people, animals, plants, foodstuff, clothes, music, movies, paintings, and objects of all kinds. Which planetary force best matches their essence? In a number of cases, you will be amazed how consistently some people incarnate the various facets of a single planet.
A beautiful aspect of the lore of planetary forces is that it is a great schooling in tolerance. By recognising planetary forces at play, one learns to understand and appreciate people's nature, and also to accept their idiosyncrasies. Where once you would have been exasperated by someone's messy modus operandi, you will learn to enjoy a powerful Moon archetype. Or conversely, instead of feeling oppressed by the rigidly methodical organisation of some of your friends, you will appreciate their exacting Saturn. The global vision which emerges is extraordinarily rich and melodious.
A long line of visionaries, from Hippocrates to Rudolf Steiner via Paracelsus, have clearly expressed the opinion that no-one can be a genuine physician unless they understand the influence of planetary forces. As we will see, using the language of astrology to decipher the secrets of the body, leads not only to insights in physiology and pathology, but also to practical methods of fighting illnesses.
The emblem of the medical profession is thus the caduceus of Hermes (Greek for Mercury), the patron of Hermetic philosophy.
Therapists will find here a new dimension to add to their art, as well as ways of incorporating a more metaphysical dimension into it.
People with no therapeutic background, but with an interest in healing, will find in the knowledge of planetary forces a royal entrance to the field. As I will explain later, my days at medical college were a complete bore until I started realising the symbolic and metaphysical dimensions behind gross physical data. Then, suddenly, threads of understanding emerged, and behind the myriads of seemingly unrelated facts, a harmony was revealed. Medicine became magical and fascinating. Moreover, it was no longer disconnected from my spiritual work, as each new patient became an invitation to vision and symbolic discernment.
However, this book was not written primarily for therapists, but for spiritual seekers. The language of planetary forces is remarkably helpful for understanding and describing a number of subtle experiences of consciousness - which is why all students of esotericism should be encouraged to become familiar with it. In addition, whether one is a therapist or not, one cannot engage in spiritual work of a certain dimension without some knowledge of one's body, and of the energies at play inside it. It is some of this fundamental knowledge that we will explore here, together with a number of esoteric concepts from various parts of the Clairvision Corpus.
The term 'Clairvision Corpus' (CC), which will often be mentioned in this book, refers to the body of knowledge of the Clairvision School, which is based in Sydney, Australia. The corpus relates to a work of inner alchemy and contains both experiential and theoretical knowledge about consciousness and the mysteries of human nature, with a special focus on evolution.
This volume is one of several introductory books to the Clairvision Corpus. It presents fundamental astrological knowledge, while introducing more esoteric concepts and key principles used in the corpus, such as the jing, quintessence of the sexual energy; the transformed bodies (which are to subtle bodies what alchemical gold is to base metals); and the mysterious principle of individuality behind the Higher Ego.
Three of my books will often be mentioned:
Awakening the Third Eye,
Regression, Past Life Therapy for Here and Now Freedom (often referred to as Regression...),
Entities, Parasites of the Body of Energy (referred to as Entities...).
Yet, no prior knowledge is required before reading Planetary Forces, Alchemy and Healing.
When astrology becomes divorced from astronomy, it tends to lack depth. In this book, therefore, you will find a section entitled 'Astronomical facts - seeds for symbolism' at the beginning of each of the chapters on the planets.
If we keep in mind this meaning of 'wanderer', we can see the logic of calling the Sun and the Moon 'planets'.
Let me also clarify the meaning of the word 'Hermetic' which is used constantly in this book. Hermetic philosophy, which is but another name for alchemy, is so named because traditionally it is said to have originated with Hermes Trismegistus (identified with the Egyptian god Thoth by many). The terms 'Hermeticism', 'Hermetic philosophy' and 'Hermetic tradition' can all be more or less regarded as synonymous with alchemy.
Here, two points need to be highlighted. Firstly, Hermetic philosophy established no clear separation between alchemy and astrology - the two being designed to work together. Secondly, Hermeticism was not just the art of transforming metals, but an entire vision of the world and a wealth of wisdom and knowledge which formed one of the essential foundations of the western esoteric tradition.
Traced back to Egypt, with perhaps even more ancient origins, the Hermetic tradition flourished in ancient Greece, where it was married to fundamental concepts of Greek philosophy. Then it was lost to the western world for several centuries, but was preserved by the Arabs.
One of the indirect but essential results of the Crusades was that the defeated soldiers of the cross brought back with them alchemical treatises. This brought a ferment into the European world which initiated centuries of passion for alchemy, and prepared the way for the great transition out of the Middle Ages.
Each planet is represented by a particular symbol, or pictogram. Remember that one of the essential reasons for studying astrology is that it is a symbolic language. Whether you wish to become an astrologer or not, understanding astrological symbols will prove an enriching experience. We will start this excursion into symbolism with a meditation on the main pictograms of astrology.
The architecture of these various symbols is in no way arbitrary. They contain a code, so that by understanding the meaning of each of the three building blocks, one can intuitively find meaning in the pictograms of the planets.
Is there only one way of interpreting these symbols? Probably not. The elements presented below have a logic behind them, and they are rooted in a number of traditions. After considering one interpretation of these symbols, you may be inclined to choose another reference system. It remains, however, that the essence of symbols is that they can be understood at different levels.
Another correspondence with the circle is the sky. When on the sea, or in an open place where the horizon is unencumbered by hills or tall trees, the sky appears to be spherical. The apparent positions of the stars suggests a sphere, hence the terms 'spherical astronomy' and 'celestial sphere' (along which the planets have a circular movement).
In English, we are accustomed to using different words for sky and heaven. As far as this is concerned, English is at odds with most other languages. Thus Sanskrit, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch and several other languages use the same word for both. This is worth pointing out, because it highlights the intrinsic symbolic associations between sky and heaven.
Moreover, in nearly all traditions, one finds connections between sky-heaven, angels, gods and God. Thus, just as there is a symbolic association circle ~ Spirit, there is another important one, circle ~ Divinity, through the circular symbolism of the sky-heaven.
In alchemy, the symbolism attached to the circle is that of the prima materia, the primordial substance or chaos out of which the creation originated. It is identical to en to pan, 'one, the whole', the Uroburos serpent/dragon which bites its tail.
To understand how one symbolically moves from crescent to soul, we must first remember that in ancient Greek thought, which in many respects forms the background of alchemy, a clear distinction was made between psyche and daimon, soul and Spirit. The Spirit is the immortal and unchanging flame; the soul is its changing reflection in Nature. (The Indian tradition uses the image of the Sun, standing for the Higher Self, reflected in a lake.) The Moon crescent, which is a constantly varying reflection of the light of the Sun, appears as a perfect analogy for the soul.
A tetrahedron slightly resembles a pyramid, except that a pyramid has 5 faces and a square base. A tetrahedron only has 4 identical faces, each of which is a triangle.
Another example relating the number four to matter can be found in the Hindu Tantric tradition, in which each of the five lower chakras is said to be the emergence of one of the elements. The chakra of the base, muladhara-cakra, is the emergence of the earth element. It has four petals, and its yantra (geometrical symbol) is the square.
As an exercise in symbolic associations, could you guess what a circle within a square can mean? In the Kabbalah, it represents the Spirit hidden in matter, which correlates with what has been discussed so far.
Take the crucible, for instance. In alchemy, a crucible is a vessel in which metals are heated up, worked on, and transformed. Crucible comes from the Latin crux, which means cross. The word was chosen because the alchemists saw in their work on metals a process of spiritual evolution which parallels the experience of human incarnation on Earth. Thus, from an alchemical perspective, the expression 'to carry one's cross' means to incarnate on Earth and undergo a spiritual transformation. In several traditions one finds a similar concept - the Earth as a 'school' where human beings come to learn lessons and transform themselves. This is what is meant by the cross.
It is interesting to notice that Tu, the Chinese ideogram for earth (as in earth element), also depicts a cross.
The pictogram of the Earth is made of a cross within a circle. This pictogram does not appear in astrological charts, in which the Earth is implicitly considered to be the centre of the zodiac circle. However, it is worth pondering upon, for as a symbol it is highly significant. Here we clearly have a crucible - from the point of view of the Hermetic/alchemical tradition, calling the Earth a vast crucible would make a lot of sense.
Note that if we were inventing astrology, it could have appeared logical to choose a cross within a square to depict the Earth. This would have meant 'matter, in which one comes to carry one's cross'. Not at all! The tradition has chosen a circle, meaning that the Earth is not just a lump of earth, but Spirit. According to the symbolism of this pictogram, there is more to the Earth than is apparent to the physical eyes.
In astrology the same symbol is used to denote the part of fortune. The part of fortune is an abstract point which is as far from the ascendant as the Moon is from the Sun. Derived from Arabic astrology and very much respected by ancient astrologers, it has now gone out of fashion.
The universal character of this symbol for the Earth can be seen in the Chinese ideogram Tian, 'piece of land' or 'field' (as in 'field of the elixir'). Originally, it was made of a cross in a circle. With the passage of time, it came to be made of a cross in a square - not because of the symbolism of the square, but for convenience of writing.
In alchemy, this pictogram also stands for gold, the metal related to the Sun by the Hermetic tradition.
The pictogram is self-explanatory. In alchemy, it also stands for silver, the metal related to the Moon.
While using the astrology software of the Clairvision Corpus, Canopus, on some charts you may have noticed another, smaller, Moon pictogram. This corresponds to the 'Black Moon', second focus of the Moon's elliptical orbit around the Earth. Since the nineteen-eighties, European astrologers have been paying great attention to this point, which they regard as an important metaphysical focus in an astrological chart. They sometimes also give it the name 'Lilith', but this can lead to confusion because an asteroid already bears this name.
In alchemical texts, this pictogram is used to indicate copper, the metal of Venus.
The modern pictogram of Mars is easy to remember. Some see it as the representation of Mars' shield and spear. It has the shape of an arrow or cutting edge, like many tools and weapons (usually made of iron).
In the Clairvision system of inner alchemy, this symbol is sometimes used to represent the 'venom', that is, the Mars-related astral energy which makes the astral body prone to emotional reactions.
Let us now look at another alchemical pictogram, that of pulvis. What are knives used for? To cut things into pieces. What could be a good pictogram to denote something that was cut and cut, to the point where it was turned into a powder or into dust (both being denoted by the Latin word pulvis - as in the English 'pulverise')? The pulvis pictogram is on the right.
Just as the symbolism of Venus is one of unity, so Mars stands for division and separation. Venus stands for the high states of consciousness of the Spirit world, in which everything is perceived from a perspective of unity - how could people make war on each other when they are one? Mars relates to the separative consciousness of human beings, as they experience it when incarnated on Earth.
The pictogram of pulvis carries a warning. Especially in the future, those who push the Mars separative consciousness beyond limits instead of integrating it with Venusian unity, will end up in dust.
Mercury's pictogram is easy to memorise because the crescent at the top can also be seen as a pair of wings. Mercury, the god of travellers, has wings not only on his feet and shoulders, but also on his shield and headdress.
Some also see in this pictogram an analogy with the letter Z, as in Zeus, the Greek name for Jupiter. Others see in the pictogram an emblem of Jupiter's lightning bolt.
In alchemy, the pictogram also stands for tin, the metal associated with Jupiter.
If you observe the lower part of the pictogram, you will discern the shape of a sickle. This is the grim reaper's sickle. Saturn (Cronus in Greek) stands for time (chronus), which destroys all the things which it has created - just as Saturn in Greek mythology used to devour his own children.
In alchemical texts, the pictogram also stands for lead, the metal of Saturn.
You will easily recognise the letter H in this pictogram, in relation to the fact that the discoverer of Uranus was named Herschel.
The overall shape of the pictogram is that of an antenna, which goes well with the multiple symbolic associations of this planet with waves, electricity, electronics, and modern technology in general. Uranus, which means 'sky' in Greek, is also the planet of aviation and flying, and of space technology.
The analogy with the trident of Poseidon/Neptune, god of the ocean, makes the pictogram easy to memorise.
The pictogram also resembles the Greek letter Y (psy), which stands for the soul (as in psychology, or psychic). Neptune is the most psychic of all the planets.
Eclipses take place only when the Sun and the Moon are close to the nodes during a Full Moon or a New Moon. Symbolically, an eclipse corresponds to a disconnection from the light of the Spirit, and so the nodes have often been associated with sinister astrological features and correspondences.
The North Node is also called the 'head of the dragon', while the South Node is called the 'tail of the dragon'. In an astrological chart, they stand perfectly opposed, with exactly 180 degrees between them. As such, they are to be interpreted as an axis - the axis of destiny. The North Node stands for the destiny ahead of you, your future, where you are heading to. The South Node stands for your past, the qualities that you have brought with you in this incarnation, and also your karma (hence the fact that ancient astrologers did not regard it as a very positive factor in a chart).
Ancient astrologers, whether Chinese, Hindu or European, tended to be very black and white, and ascribed a fixed significance to each of the planets. In a chart, there were the goodies, starting with Jupiter, and the baddies, in particular Saturn and the nodes. Modern astrologers have developed a more fluid vision, in which each planet has positive and negative qualities. This naturally leads to concepts of self-transformation, refining and transmuting the values of each planet.
The shape of the North Node pictogram can be related to a head,
while that of the South Node is more akin to a tail. It is easy
to picture a dragon or a snake in each of them. Mythologically
and symbolically, the difference between dragons and serpents
is often blurry.
© Copyright Samuel Sagan 2004