Questioning Hermetic Planetary Philosophy

I’m having a moment of spiritual crisis.

What we know about planetary magic, in regards to Hermeticism, came from an epoch that held as “fact”:

• Earth was the center of the universe
• The sun and other planets of the solar system revolved around the Earth
• Stars are fixed into position
• There were only a total of 7 planetary spheres, not including the Earth but including the Sun

We’ve since proven that are more than 7 planets in our solar system, the sun is a star, stars move, Earth is not the center around which the other celestial bodies revolve, the moon is a satellite of Earth and not a planet, and Earth is another planet in our solar system that revolves around the sun.

If so much of hermetic astrology has turned out to be false, then how can we continue to believe in hermeticism’s truth?

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It seems that most of what you are looking at comes from around the Renaissance, Hermetic Philosophy and Magic is much older. Pre-Renaissance magicians knew that the Earth revolved around the Sun. Early Greeks knew this and their magic and philosophy was preserved by Arabic Magicians who followed the Heliocentric model of the solar system. This knowledge survived the European Dark Ages in the Muslim controlled parts of the world and resurfaced in the 15th century.

The early Hermetic (and pre-hermetic) magicians were not talking about the physical planets and stars. The physical bodies of gas and rock were analogies of the way the Heavens moved and functioned. They in fact knew that there were at least two other planets past Saturn but also knew that they could not readily study them as they were too far away to see.

Giordano Bruno, who was burnt at the stake for sorcery, was a big advocate of Neo-Platonic/Hermetic thought and even declared that the Earth revolved around the Sun citing Egyptian and Arabic texts. His reasoning was more or less “the Egyptians say so, and their magic works so they must be right.” A logical fallacy and weak reasoning…but I mean…he WAS right.

The biggest thing to remember is that the Hermetic Philosophy is concerned with the “Ideal World” and its influence on our world. Without holding to that they do look rather silly to our modern view of the world.


The same is said of Dante’s time, but these scientific “inaccuracies” have crept into our own vernacular.

When was the last time you watched a sunrise or sunset? Well, it doesn’t; the appearance of such a phenomona is due to earth’s rotation about its axis, but we still speak in terms of dawn coinciding with the break of a sunrise.

also, the planets are physical representations of metaphysical principles, and if the microcosm of man is linked to the planet of earth (among other things), then it makes sense to interpret the motion of the classical planets about this point. ultimately, we are the subjective centre of our own personal universe, so the model of interpretation is perfectly valid from a philosophical point of view.

also, for the sake of this kind of system, the sun and moon are considered planets, and they were categorised according to the speed with which they progressed throughout the night sky as viewed from earth. this also gives us the chaldean ordering of the planets, and the heptagram which, when traced point-to-point, gives julian order in its totality. when read circumferentially, it gives us the chaldean order of planets and their “weight” from heaviest to lightest:)

i stole this from somewhere online:

starting at saturn and working clockwise, we get the descending chaldean order of mass (and therefore the increasing speed of the planet as it revolves around earth (from our point of view, on earth).

tracing from saturn to the sun, then to the moon etc gives us the familiar Monday-Sunday week we’re familiar with. the discovery of this very elegant system is astonishing to my simple mind, and it shows how “hard science” is too objective for this kind of philosophical work. from a POV on earth, it can indeed be seen that the sun revolves around this planet, even though it’s just a subjective observation. as we all know, magic is entirely subjective, so interpretation and application within that subjectively interpreted framework is all that’s needed to work with the hermetic system.

i totally get where you’re coming from, but you’re trying to grasp the principles of modern scientific methodology, versus scientific empiricism, which was the vogue back then, and which serves us well (ie, that the sun “rises” and “sets” during any given day is an empirical observation, and it makes more sense to use that kind of terminology than to say “in two hours the rotation of the earth will position the elevation of the sun below the horizontal meridian”… or that “in forty minutes the sun will be visible as the earth rotates sufficiently so as to reveal its illumination at our longitude”. it just makes more sense (intuitively) to say “we’ve got two hours until sunset” or "the sun will rise in forty minutes.

i’ve never had any problem with the hermetic system or its ideas, and i’ve found that the more you dive into it, the more it makes sense, and the less the rational and logical mind feels the need to interfere with a perfectly functional system which needn’t be over-thought too much.

hope this helps in some way.

Kind regards, Tj.


[quote=“Salpinx, post:1, topic:6373”]What we know about planetary magic, in regards to Hermeticism, came from an epoch that held as “fact”:

• Earth was the center of the universe
• The sun and other planets of the solar system revolved around the Earth
• Stars are fixed into position
• There were only a total of 7 planetary spheres, not including the Earth but including the Sun[/quote]

I’ve thought this one over myself, these are my conclusions for whatever they’re worth:

  1. & 2. The geocentric model, with Earth at the centre of the universe, is a practical expression of the deeper, hidden thruth that the observer is the centre of his/her own universe.

This is an experience I’ve actually had, and it’s something both religion (especially eastern) and black magick alike agree upon, so it finds a home outside just the understandings of some dudes who didn’t yet have access to really good telescopes. :slight_smile:

And there’s no more need to know the precise locations, distances, etc., to enact magick using planetary forces, than there is a need to understand how an LCD works before you can see the time display on a digital watch. Some people do specialise in that side of things, but the result delivered to the operator is the only aspect a magician needs to be concerned with;

  1. There’s no such thing as a single fixed moment in time - no present moment - by the time you feel the pin you jab in your finger, that’s already happened and has faded away into the past. So, the stars are fixed in our perception, which, ref. above, is all that matters from a magickal (not so much scientific) point of view;

  2. I’m going to get freaky on you now and say, we only discovered them when we were ready to accept (and work with) their influence, and that their namings and subsequent astrological attributions were guided by the superconscious mind of mankind, which sent the inspiration to the people who then classified them and fixed their names in the textbooks.

Sounds a bit weird? But that’s only the same as doing (for example) a spell to get promoted, which is a magickal act, then your boss burns his breakfast, has a bad day as a result of getting off on the wrong foot, realises the co-worker he was favouring over you is kind of a jerk, and promotes you instead - magickal acts of will delivered through extremely mundane-seeming channels.

It’s like the (in)famous “Ze’al chakra” that’s only recently been mapped, or the attribution of rainbow colours to the seven root-to-crown chakras - modern understandings that suit modern-day accomplishments, aspirations, etc.

Strictly JMO there of course but I honestly believe this, at least right now. :slight_smile:

If so much of hermetic astrology has turned out to be false, then how can we continue to believe in hermeticism's truth?

It’s all symbolic, and intentionally so - the Sun we deal with as (for example) the angels, intelligence, god/desses and demons of the Sun are not the exact same as the physical mass of the Sun.

And arguably, they kinda knew that the Earth orbited the Sun back then, and the knowledge got lost/forgotten - but magick doesn’t deal with the same measurements as science so it’s not important.


Sounds about right to me. I’ve been exploring planetary magic a lot, lately. You can include or exclude, at your pleasure, the three outermost planets. It makes no difference in the end. As I’m just beginning, I’m excluding them. No need for more confusion than necessary, and I tend to get confused enough as it is, lol.

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Intresting :slight_smile: