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Circle, semi-circle, cross and arrow
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Planetary symbols (or glyphs) have a history and meaning. Contrary to what many think, they are not just random and disconnected drawings. They are simple and unique ideas that come together to create a more complex symbol that manages to express the energies involved. To know more about them, we must go back centuries, when astrology went hand in hand with alchemy.
Precursors of modern sciences such as astronomy and chemistry, astrology and alchemy gave rise to the symbols that we still use today to represent the planets and signs. Whether these symbols were consciously conceived as combinations of alchemical meanings (or whether their correlation with alchemical symbols is pure coincidence or synchronicity) does not matter. What is noteworthy about them is their ancestral, multicultural and international use.
Such symbols crossed several cultures, civilizations and time segments of human history until they reached our contemporary world, and this was a very arduous task, especially in more recent centuries where logical and radical science passed and gained dominance over more ethereal and analogous themes.
To begin, let's analyze the basic symbols, which are nothing more than the components that make up the various planetary symbols:
CIRCLE: Spirit, essence, consciousness, one principle, life-creating vital energies.
CRESCENT (OR SEMI-CIRCLE): Receptivity, perception, contact with new realities, assimilation. The Crescent can capture several levels of information:
- Up towards the superconscious.
- Horizontally toward left or right brain perception.
- O downwards, towards the subconscious.
CROSS: Matter, pragmatism, practical application, changing experience.
ARROW: Indicates the direction of energy towards a specific objective.
All of these are symbols that are later assembled to express each planetary energy and its function within astrological mechanics. By positioning themselves in the signs and houses in the outline of an astral map, the archetypes are filtered and become subject to new interactions, as they form aspects with each other, generating complementary energies that will influence the action and maintenance of the personality and of events in universal chronology.
Let's see below the meanings of each symbol and its potential function:
In the glyph of the Sun, the circle of spirit and vitality contains a point in the center, which symbolizes the centering position of the Sun in relation to the rest of our planets. The Sun is in many ways the source of life, the primary source of energy for our personal planetary system, the "Astro-King" gives us vital energy and creative power. We are like a mini-sun in our astrological relationship and if we are insecure, for example, this can manifest as arrogance, lack of consideration for others and a dramatic streak.
However, if we balance all the energies of the solar archetype, we move towards self-control, courage and consideration. The Sun guides us to our primary purpose in life through the integration of all levels of consciousness. To exercise this sense of Ego optimally, we must also care about other people before actually asserting ourselves in a balanced way, thus achieving self-confidence and true courage.
The Moon is an extension of the Earth. Like its satellite, it tunes us to impressions of the here and now. It often brings references from our personal past and the collective past, tempting us to stay there. In the astrological symbol of the Moon, the crescent lines are doubled, indicating the high level of receptivity, reactivity, perceptiveness, and sensitivity involved.
While the physical Moon orbits the Earth, between Venus and Mars, it usually comes immediately after the Sun in astrological charts, as it reflects sunlight back to our planet at night. The Sun's rays descend in soft reflections, sent to us by the Moon while we rest, restoring our energies for the next day's activities. Due to the high degree of receptivity involved, the star symbolizes our dreams, intuition and subconscious.
In the glyph of Mercury (also known as Hermes, the messenger of the gods) the Crescent above symbolizes receptivity to superconscious perceptions. Mercury is responsible for the elementary functions of the intellect. The planet makes it possible to communicate our ideas, uniting the superconscious, conscious, and unconscious as we relate to each other.
If the circle below the crescent is under tension, we can become intellectually arrogant. If the crescent is too strong, we can become very idealistic. If the Cross (which is below the Circle) has a lot of focus and prominence, it may indicate a colder, calculating, or manipulative way of communicating, motivated by materialism and driven by the subconscious.
The awareness of the universal laws of cause and effect and the administration of more harmonic energies positively potentialize Mercury, thus making us communicate in a precise way to transmit our ideas.
Compared to Mercury, Venus is farther from our Sun and closer to Earth. Venus attempts to embrace ideals from the collective superconscious along with current and conscious realities, grounding everything in the material and collective subconscious feelings and impulses. Thus, he is always concerned with finding comfort, and beauty and harmonizing earthly and material realities through shared ideals and values, which is why the cross of matter is placed below everything. It is the symbol of the feminine.
The resemblance of the Venus glyph to a hand mirror is interesting, as Venus determines how we reflect ourselves in others and others in ourselves. It also determines how we weigh our commonalities and common interests through our shared values. Astronomically, Venus can be considered Earth's brother. Both have similar density, diameter, and chemical composition. In this way, Venus can also manifest itself as our complement - or symbolic partner. No wonder the version of the Glyph of Earth is composed of the Cross over the Circle, a kind of inverted Venus.
The Venus symbol emphasizes the importance of balancing the spiritual and the material if we are to find real and genuine satisfaction.
In the Mars glyph, the circle of spirit is directed towards specific goals, symbolized by the arrow. This is the first planet of individual willpower, often focused on instincts, the basic tasks of daily survival, and the primary drives involved in the perpetuation of human life. The arrow also symbolizes dynamic activity. With a strong arrow, we can be impulsive or dissipate energy in almost unconscious displays of unbridled passion or anger. With the circle too sharp, we can appear selfish and arrogant. It is the symbol of the masculine.
With Mars glyph symbols in balance, we have the confidence and self-discipline to achieve our goals effectively. We send our vitality out into the world and in return, we get what we want in a pragmatic way, without wear and tear or conflicts of interest.
In the glyph of Jupiter, a Crescent receptive to left-brain perceptions is linked to the Cross of Matter, which also symbolizes material and objective realities. Jupiter gives us the ability to perceive the potential of circumstances and often leads us to physical or mental exploration in order to broaden our experience and generate greater support for living our lives on the material plane.
In the symbol of Jupiter, if the Crescent prevails over the Cross, we can become fascinated with adventure, lose sight of the purpose of our undertakings, and become impractical, restless, and overzealous. If the Cross trumps the Crescent, we can become superficial and materialistic. We start to not understand the impact that our expansiveness or exacerbated materialism can cause in the lives of others.
When the Jupiter Cross and Crescent are in balance, we channel our explorations, our faith, judgment, and state of grace to practical use without allowing anything to overshadow our consideration for others.
Here the Cross of matter replaces and dominates the perceptions of the collective unconscious. Understanding our heritage and past experiences brings maturity and a real understanding of cause and effect.
In the Saturn symbol, if the Cross trumps the Crescent, we run the risk of becoming too materialistic, cold, and insensitive to the needs of others. If the descending Crescent overcomes the Cross, we are stuck in the past, fearful of the future, ignorant of ideals or dependent on the collective.
When the Crescent and the Cross are in balance, we become highly pragmatic, responsible and conscientious, based on our understanding of the past and the laws of cause and effect. We learn to live in a society with responsibility and patience.
In the Uranus glyph, the Cross of Matter is open to both left and right brain perceptions. It is rooted in the spirit of the collective unconscious. The complex Uranus symbol indicates how we perceive things quickly and intuitively. They are multidimensional stimuli that look like "flashes", providing us with an understanding outside of conventional perceptions, like true "insights".
It's not unlike a radio or television antenna that picks up signals from afar, and such "signals" spur us on with new ideas. Another symbol of Uranus, which has the arrow over a solar circle, symbolizes another perspective on Uranus: they are the spirit and vitality directed with enthusiasm upwards, toward ideals, in a spontaneous way. It is also considered the divine sword, which cuts and pierces everything without us having control.
In this other Uranus symbol that has the arrow, the energies are directed upwards, in a straight direction, unlike Mars whose arrow is diagonal. Such energies go straight to superconscious ideals. Meanwhile, the crescents turned sideways focus on conscious perceptions in the present, relating them precisely to superconscious ideals.
If left unchecked, Uranus' electricity can unleash destructive or explosive energies. However, if grounded in practical considerations and experience, Uranus encourages practical inventions and innovations that breathe new life into outworn structures and concepts, directing our energies towards the future.
In the Neptune glyph the Crescent is ascending, and for the first time since Mercury, it turns our attention to the superconscious, working to link it with material realities, on the Cross. With Neptune, we try to bring the idealism of myths, fantasies, and superconscious heroes into reality. We are often successful, but for that, we have to have a complete understanding of our limitations and the reality that surrounds us. In this way, our ideas can come to fruition and not just serve as a basis for illusions or convenient escapism, but rather act as propellants for something else, something consistent with our ideals.
When the Crescent trumps the Cross, we are lost in impractical idealism, failing to see what is realistically possible given the circumstances. If the Cross trumps the Crescent, we try to deny the disappointment we feel when we can't get our ideas across. We become escapists, we daydream and fantasize.
When the Cross and Crescent are in balance, Neptune gives us the ability to turn our dreams into reality. However, this requires patience, unwavering commitment, and a willingness to make sacrifices. Impressions and inspiration are put into action to innovate, creating artistic forms or inventions (especially when Neptune is helped by other planetary energies).
Another Neptune symbol that is used in Europe shows the circle in place of the cross, emphasizing the more dynamic aspect of Neptune and its association with the process of visualization and image-making. Still, other depictions of the Neptune glyph show a small arrow at the top of the central vertical bar, or all three ascending lines, emphasizing the directing of energy toward ideals.
Pluto's glyph looks a bit like Neptune's. However, with the Circle of spirit within the rising Crescent, Pluto indicates receptivity to other worlds and other realities. Astronomical discoveries imply that Pluto could be a visitor that is temporarily in orbit around our Sun, building a bridge to other solar systems and realities. In astrology, Pluto is the one that gives us the power to change our lives in a profound way.
If the Cross trumps the Crescent, we run the risk of losing sight of the purpose of these transformative energies, becoming selfish and power-obsessed people. If the Rising Crescent and the Circle outweigh the Cross, we run the risk of disconnecting from reality and having bouts of stress (or psychotic episodes). Pluto also introduces us to the gaseous Trans-Neptunians, who were long considered "unreal" and in some ways symbolize a new level of reality.
The ancient Pluto symbol contains the first two letters of Pluto which, coincidentally, are the initials of the astronomer Percival Lowell, credited with its discovery. A third glyph of Pluto, used widely in northern Europe, features a Double Ascending Crescent, directed towards the Circle of spirit, emphasizing receptivity to life-changing stellar energies. Such energies are filtered through the superconscious and the awareness that Pluto offers.
There is yet a fourth symbol of Pluto which begins with primordial subconscious vitality crowned by the Cross of matter at the conscious level, with two Crescents above pointing downwards. This glyph symbolizes the mastery of primal life energies through understanding and conscious practical efforts, allied with the receptivity of the superconscious.
The Crescents perhaps indicate the need for a balance between your right brain's intuitive perceptions and your left brain's rational perceptions to maximize the potential of this transformative planetary energy. What is remarkable about the variations in these Pluto glyphs is that they all correlate with the various interpretive perspectives on the planet, described in the literature available in various languages and different cultures.