Planetary Glyphs

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Have you ever wondered about the symbols astrologers and astronomers use to represent the planets of our solar system? The shapes of the symbols we use aren’t random. In today’s post, we’ll look at the meaning contained in each of the planetary glyphs. Most of the glyphs are composed from the three basic shapes of a circle, a plus sign (or cross), and a crescent. The circle represents an unbroken, self-contained system of wholeness. It is Spirit, eternal, unified, balanced, self-replicating and ever-lasting. The circle divides the unseen and the seen with its boundary.

The cross, or plus sign, is the symbol of matter. It indicates the four directions, the four elements, the fact of duality, time and space. On the wheel, these four cardinal points are indicators of Spirit entering Matter (left to right) and of Order being made out of Chaos (top to bottom). The plus sign reminds us of the cross that all things enshrined in matter must bear, mortality. In the center where the lines meet is a meeting place that suggests presence, in which the sum is greater than the individual parts. In the center is the balance point which reminds us that spirit is within everything manifest.

The crescent is the shape of attention in motion. As the Moon shows us her changing face every night, glyphs that include the crescent shape indicate an archetype in which there is movement of and a connection to greater sources of information. The crescent facing upwards is open to information originating from the soul, while downward-facing crescents receive information from the subconscious. Crescents facing left indicate growth and left-brain perception, while those facing right indicate forces of decay and right-brain understanding. The crescent shape itself suggests a light side and a dark side. The light, visible side shows ones ability to become aware of their needs, thoughts, feelings, and memories, while the dark, invisible side is that of instinct, imagination, raw emotion and the cycles of life. The pulsation and movement between these forces, like the waxing and waning of the Moon, is what gives us a sense of time.

Let’s examine each planetary glyph for more information. The Sun’s symbol is of the circle of Spirit with a dot in the center. The dot specifies self-mastery, it shows that one’s core, the spiritual center, is known. It is the symbol of the self-realized individual, one who knows that their creativity, their spark of life, comes from Spirit and is shining through the individual from their own center, the solar plexus. As the Sun is the central organizing principle in the solar system, the Sun in one’s chart shows the way we organize the various aspects of our psyche.

The Moon’s glyph is of a crescent facing to the left. Facing in this direction, the Moon’s symbol indicates that she is a force of growth, open to and gestating new possibilities. The glyph of the Moon reminds us how our ego, our concept of self, is like the lenses in a pair of glasses which the soul takes off when the life is over, and which affects the way we perceive reality while we have them on. The fact that the ego is constantly in motion, expanding and decaying yet reliable all through the life, is shown by the cyclic nature of the Moon in the sky.

Mercury’s symbol includes all three of the basic shapes. The cross under the circle of spirit shows a connection between knowledge of a spiritual nature and knowledge of a pragmatic nature, and suggests that Mercury has a knowingness of the practical matters of life. Indeed, Mercury is the ruler of commerce, measurement and deductive reasoning. The crescent above the circle suggests the movement of ideas that are perceived from the soul (or superconscious) and made conscious in their grounding in the material world. The crescent shape is also indicative of the horns on the helmet of the Greek god Mercury, who was the only god in the pantheon who was allowed to freely come and go, without consequence, from both heaven and hell. Mercury moved ideas from the sacred to the profane and back again. The upward-pointing crescent on the circle of spirit suggests that thoughts, ideas, language and speech are not truly our own but are brought down from higher levels of organization.

The meeting of the two realms of heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, with Spirit dominating. This symbol suggests the reproductive organs of a woman which are capable of bringing the unseen in the seen. Indeed, Venus rules talent, which is the ability to bring and share something from the unseen. The arrangement of Spirit resting in balance on the cross of matter suggests the nature of the feminine principle which is attracting, magnetic, persuading and connecting.

The glyph of Mars is pretty easy to read. It is the force of willpower, the separating desires, pulling one away from Spirit. Mars’ glyph, which looks like the reproductive organ of the male, shows us that it is instinctual and primal in nature. Indeed, Mars/Ares is the warrior, the raw power and outgoing force of the masculine. The fact that it follows its own subjective needs is shown in the arrow extending from the source of its power. It is a symbol of going out into the world and getting the object of one’s desire, with force if necessary.

Incorporating the shapes of the cross and the crescent, Jupiter’s glyph reminds us of its expansive, optimistic nature. The crescent on the left side of the cross indicates that the expansion of horizons has brought something new into being. Because the crescent is above the horizontal line it signifies that the forms being brought into matter are in the growing part of their cycle. Jupiter provides a joyful connection to Natural Law, ensuring that forms, ideas and circumstances are brought to their highest potential.

Originally, Saturn’s glyph was the exact opposite of Jupiter’s but, over time, has become stylized. In Saturn’s symbol, the crescent hangs downward, below the horizon on the right side, below the cross of matter. The cross as the primary shape, above the crescent, makes it clear that Saturn oversees the realm of 3-dimensions where achievement and materialism reign. The curl at the bottom end suggests that the movement endemic to the crescent shape is being cut off and trapped in the dirt. Saturn’s glyph indicates that the form is decaying and dying, that a cap has been put upon the creation which deprives it of access to Spirit. Indeed, Saturn rules death and the endings of things. Some have suggested that the crescent of Saturn is a scythe which is used to cut things down at the end of their cycle, as the grim reaper does.

The most complex symbol is that of Uranus which incorporates all three shapes in a unique configuration. The circle of spirit below the cross of matter creates an upended reality in which ideas are brought from the collective unconscious into personal, conscious awareness in jolts, like lightening strikes. The channel that is created between the outward-turned crescents can be likened to the two hemispheres of the brain being held apart to allow new ideas and images to enter. The symbolism here is reflected in the archetype of Uranus, the force of Liberation, which moves us beyond the consensus status quo toward the unconditioned unknown, and which frees us from the rules and expectations of the past and future.

This is the symbol of turning dreams into reality. The glyph of Neptune shows that the realm of the soul reigns above material existence. The upward-facing crescent receives images, sounds, information of all kinds, from the soul and, as long as it isn’t hindered by delusions and addictions, brings the unseen into the seen (as symbolized by the cross). The symbol of Neptune is also a reminder that the material world penetrates Spirit and vice versa. The similarities between the glyphs of Neptune and Venus show that one is the higher expression, of the other.

Pluto has more than one glyph associated to it but all of them (except the one which uses the initials of its discoverer, PL) speak to its psychologically-oriented and transformative nature. The upward-turned crescent below the smaller circle shows its receptivity to stellar energies which are then brought down into matter through a succession of lifetimes in which we attempt to balance the hemispheres of the brain and tame the primal energies toward conscious, reasoned action.


Now that you understand the basic shapes used in glyphs, you have the knowledge to interpret other astronomical, astrological and alchemical symbols for yourself. Cheers.

Current Events: 5 planets retrograde

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There are a number of the reasons why 2020 is an exceptional year, astrologically-speaking. One of those reasons is that every single planet will turn retrograde this year. The outer planets, Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, and Saturn, turn retrograde every year for a few months, but the other planets change direction less frequently. Jupiter goes retrograde every thirteen months. Mars goes retrograde every two years. Venus goes retrograde about every year and a half. And Mercury goes retrograde three times a year.

It’s mid-June and already five of the eight planets are retrograde. Wednesday, June 18, Mercury will station retrograde at 14º Cancer, and June 23, Neptune will station retrograde at 20º Pisces. Confusion, delusion, and a sense of uncertainty will prevail for the next three weeks, although things will slowly begin getting clearer when Venus turns direct Thursday, June 25, and Mars moves into Aries Sunday, June 28. Towards the end of the month we will begin to feel some wind behind us. Until then, creating forward momentum in your life might seem impossible. Instead, this is the time to turn the attention and energy inward. With so many planets retrograde, this is the time to roll up your sleeves and clean up the inner workings of your website, update the internal documentation that makes your company run smoothly, clean out your closets, gather your resources, or re-organize your life. Retrogrades are an excellent time to close projects and to make changes, but they’re not a great time to begin new things. Wait until July 13 if you can, when Mercury stations direct, to put new procedures and ideas into practice.

Later this week, just hours after the Sun moves into Cancer and we celebrate the Summer Solstice, Sunday, June 21, we will experience a total, annular Solar eclipse (visible only in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa). An annual eclipse is one in which the Moon is too close to Earth to cover the face of the Sun completely. This event won’t bring us any clarity but it will give us some great pictures of a blazing ‘ring of fire’. 

Current Events: 3 Planets Change Signs + 2 Planets Turn Retrograde

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Because Venus and Mercury orbit between the Earth and the Sun, they are never more than a certain number of degrees away from the Sun from our perspective. For example, Mercury will never be more than 16º in front of the Sun before it stations retrograde. Then it moves backwards (again, from our perspective) until it is 16º behind the Sun at which time it stations direct and begins running ahead again past the Sun, repeating the pattern ad infinitum. Venus never gets more than 42º away from the Sun. She makes a similar pattern to that which Mercury makes, although in true Venusian style, her retrograde pattern makes a lovely, 5-pointed star.

Mercury and Venus (and Mars) are called the ‘personal planets’ because those archetypes make up the overtly personal parts of a person, the parts of the psyche that others see and deal with on a daily basis. When two or three of the personal planets are in the same sign as the Sun they set a strong, unified archetypal tone. This month of February, however, it won’t be at all like that. The planets are all over the place.


For several weeks Mars and Venus have been traveling together in the last degrees of Pisces. On January 28, Mars left Pisces and entered Aries. Meanwhile, the Sun is in Aquarius and Mercury is in Capricorn: all the personal planets are in different signs! And Mars is in his home sign, Aries, which gives us all a fiery push toward getting our needs met.

In addition to the aforementioned combination of energies, Venus and Jupiter will both go retrograde this month, too. The various conflicting energies and Mars in Aries gives us an underlying sensation that things are in flux. Indeed, they are, specifically in the area of relationships and/or money. But before we change things, we must first pull back the curtain and see things as they are.

Today, Friday, February 3, Venus will enter Aries. She’ll cruise along in Aries for a month initiating new projects, relationships and sources of income. Then, on March 4th, Venus will slow down and stop (from our perspective) at 13º of Aries. For the next month, she will go backwards over those first 13º of Aries again, getting a better look at the relationships or streams of income that we began in early February. The issue is whether or not things are in balance. Fear and anger is to be expected. Consider matters introspectively for the month of March, using, as much as possible, the objectivity made available by Mercury in Aquarius. The first half of April is the best time to let go of resentment, anger, delusions, and the relationships that are not in balance. (∞)

The dance of Venus passing back and forth over the ASC point asks us to take a second look at our values, the fundamental dynamics of our relationships, and our relationship with money. It’s a time of resetting self-esteem and up-leveling our relationship with our self and to our own talents.


Supporting the work of Venus in the re-calibrating of our relationships is Jupiter who will turn retrograde February 6 at 23º of Libra. As he moves backwards a full 10º in Libra, the sign of balance-seeking, we will be encouraged to look at our values and beliefs, at how we spend our money, and whether or not our relationships are in balance. Jupiter and Venus (and Mars and Mercury!) are working together this spring to force us to reconsider the recent new beginnings and help us see where we are being excessive and delusional in relationships. (@)

Mercury is between retrograde cycles these days so he’s going full-speed-ahead. He will take only two weeks to race through Aquarius (February 7 to February 25), during which time our minds will literally be racing. Our thoughts will be focused on the groups we are part of (or want to be part of) and our dreams for the future. In February, we will be more open to information and ideas from all corners. And because the mind will be superficially skipping along the surface, it will be easier to be objective. This objectivity will come in super handy as we uncover imbalances in our relationship dynamics with the retrogrades of Venus and Jupiter.
To take advantage of these energetic shifts in February, be willing to examine the balance points in your relationships: Is there as much listening as talking? As much receiving as giving? Is the attention usually centered on one person? Does each person in the relationship have the freedom to follow their desires? Also be willing to examine how your values are connected to your self-esteem. If your values, money situation or relationships need to be adjusted, you will know what you need to do by April. If by then you aren’t sure or haven’t made the changes, circumstances may change on your behalf when Jupiter stations direct in June. When Venus enters Aries (February 3), we will begin all manner of new relationships. A month later when Venus goes retrograde, she will show us where our impulsiveness, selfishness, need to be needed, and our instinctual desires pull us into delusional situations. Use the information uncovered in the retrograde period to make adjustments in relationship dynamics and personal values.
More specific information can be gleaned from your chart by penciling Venus in outside the wheel at 0º Aries and considering the information that the house placement provides.
If you don’t have a copy of your chart, but want one, grab your birthdata and contact me.

(∞) April 2, the still retrograding Venus backs out of Aries and into Pisces. On April 15, at 26º of Pisces, Venus stops (from our perspective) and begins moving forward again (stations direct).

(@) Jupiter will be retrograde until June 9.