This is just an introduction to the the concepts and symbols of the classic planets and the chakras. It is intended to give some basic information to prepare the reader for learning Qabalistic tarot and launching their own independent study. I have applied archetype titles to each of the planets. Most of are my own invention.
Saturn (The Chthonic) …
Saturn is considered the most materially aspected and “severe” (Yin) of the seven planets. It often is put into polar opposition with Jupiter. It is the planet of tradition, dogma, boundaries, and stasis. Saturn is conventionally associated with a lot of darker and more fixed behaviors and attitudes. Saturn is esoterically earthy but primal. In tarot, it is most conventionally associated with the XXI World/Universe card.
… and Muladhara (The Root)
In energy work, Muladhara is located at the base of the spine and serves as the foundation for the channel for energy (kundalini) that flows up and down through the seven prime chakra. It is associated to qualities of earth (like Saturn): matter and our physical bodies, health, money and structure. It is visualized as red. Color is a property of light; light is a form of energy. Red has the lowest frequency of visible light and therefore produces the least energy.
The Moon (The Deep) …
As the Yang sun rules the heavens by day, Yin moon rules them by night. It has almost universal associations with the sea, darkness, mystery, childbirth, sex, love, strong emotions, prophecy, death, magic and folk medicine. Biased character traits such as being promiscuous, deceptive, dangerous and/or mentally ill are often applied to someone who supposedly has excessive “moon energy”.
The moon has no light of its own. Sunlight striking and reflecting off the lunar surface as it orbits around the earth creates the 29.5 day lunar day cycle. What I didn’t know for the longest time is that the duller reflection, that ashen glow? That is indirect sunlight reflected from the earth.
The Moon is directly depicted as the 18th card in the Major Arcana. Night, magic, mystery, death, time, secrets, insight, tranquility, reception, fate, deception, restoration, illusion are among the many qualities that are associated with the moon in both world mythology and tarot interpretation. The High Priestess is the Major Arcana that conventional esoteric tarot most often attributes to the astrological moon, however; zodiacal Cancer is attributed to the Moon Card. The RWS and Thoth decks, for example, are drawn specifically to represent this.
In astrology, the moon is associated with how we express our feelings, desires and needs. Its placement in a chart also reflects how we respond to the feelings, desires and needs that others express to us. The moon changes signs every 2.5 days, meaning it doesn’t remain in a single decan for even 24 hours. It transitions through all twelve zodiacal signs/houses in 27.5 days.
… and Svadhisthana (The Sweetness)
Svadhisthana is located in the lower abdomen centered between the navel and the genitals. Yin-natured, it is elementally associated with water (like the Moon). It shares all the same attributed qualities as the moon, including sexuality, sensation, pleasure, creativity and anything relating to the emotions and fear. It is visualized as orange, the hybrid of red and yellow.
In some esoteric systems (including my own), orange is associated with sexuality, freedom, artistic expression, emotional energy and the imagination. The moon can appear very orange when it first rises at night based (mostly) on the angle of view and what is going on in the atmosphere that night.
The Sun (The Luminary) …
In modern astrology, the sun is heavily associated with self and identity. Your “sun sign” represents where in the zodiacal wheel your the sun was located at the time of your birth. This is just one piece of information provided in a natal chart, which is worth having copy of as you explore esoteric tarot. The sun spends exactly thirty days in each of the zodiac signs/houses. Since in the Julian calendar we’ve got an average of 365.25 days ( 365 days in a normal year, 366 days in a leap year) , the twelve months and the twelve signs/houses don’t correspond either chronologically or in metaphysical attributions.
Esoterically speaking, the sun is a nearly universal symbol of power, glory and divinity. It is directly depicted in the Major Arcana as the nineteenth of the Major Arcana. This card does have the planetary sun as a conventional direct attribute rather. It’s placement in numerical order next to the Moon helps emphasize their polar duality.
In alchemy, the sun represents the goal of achieving perfection in one world (physical, psychological, spiritual, etc.,.) or all of them. There is a not widely known concept in Western esotericism called apotheosis. If you are familiar with the story of Isis and Ra though you have at least encountered the idea. As a human magician, Isis tricked the old sun god Ra into revealing his True Name which she then used in a ritual of apotheosis to become a goddess herself.
… and Manipura (The Lustrous Gem)
Manipura is associated with very solar qualities like energy, fire, metabolism, empowerment, transformation, True Will and True Self. It is located in the region between the navel and the solar plexus (which gained its name from its radiating nerve fibers). When we are grounded, Manipura energy can be vitalizing and exhalating but unchecked it can explode and cause us to react and act in ways we will very much regret later.
Yellow is the most luminous of all of the colors on the visible spectrum. It is a primary color and its associations with the physical and archetypal sun are nearly universal. People generally associate it with happiness, optimism, and very value positive words.
Venus (The Lover) …
In Hellenistic mythology and astrology, Venus is the ruler of romantic love, beauty and pleasure. This can be sexual pleasure, our sense of aesthetics, what kinds of foods we most enjoy or despise, our reactions to just about anything really. Venus is placed in opposition to Mars.
Relationships, especially romantic/sexual relationship are by far what querents ask tarot readers about. There’s a lot to learned from astrology and psychoteric books like Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus to help a tarot reader tackle relationship questions in both personal and other readings.
… and Anahata (The Unstuck)
It is appropriate that Anahata is located in the heart location. There are three chakra above, three chakra below, making it a symbolic mediator and the place to do the Great Work of synthesizing ourselves whole. Anahata is associated with joy, love, and compassion. Bringing this chakra (metaphorically or otherwise) into harmony with itself and the rest of our nature is no easy feat. Anahata is also where we store grief, regret, fear and other kinds of emotion based pain. Books, therapies and other tools specifically for healing the heart has become its own commercial industry.
Green has a number of associations with healing, nature, growth, harmony, wealth and fertility. I have read that it is considered the most restful and relaxing color for the human eye because it takes up the space in the visible spectrum and is the dominant color in that vanishing “natural world” our souls crave to return to.
Mars (The Mighty) …
Yang aspected Mars is the astrological planet of directed energy, action, aggression, competition, courage and confrontation. It represents the survival instinct, athleticism and all forms of physical prowess. When untempered, Mars becomes the Savage Beast archetype, the monster that destroys friend and foe alike. Stripping our unconscious association of both Venus and Mars of direct association with gender is incredibly hard. It doesn’t help that their planetary symbols were adopted as general symbols for female/male. Our brains take us there every time we see the two symbol.
… and the Amygdala (Fight/Flight Reflex)
Mars doesn’t really have a good associative match to a chakra in my opinion. Mars best represents what goes on in the amygdala, an almond-shaped cluster of nuclei located deep and within the temporal lobe of the human brain. The amygdala has a lot of control over memory, decision-making and emotional responses such as fear, anxiety, and aggression. It is part of the limbic system.
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ coined the term Amygdala Highjacking in reference to an emotional response that is immediate, overwhelming and out of measure with actual stimulus. This perfectly articulates unrestrained Mars energy to me.
So what about a color for Mars then? My personal favorite color association for Mars is sharp red with Saturn as more of a neutral brown. The chakra system notwithstanding, red has both physical and esoteric connection to Mars. We are taught to associated red with action, things demanding immediate attention, blood, sacrifice, danger, courage, fire, passion and rage. Brown by comparison is earthy like Saturn itself. It is most often symbolically associated with strength, wood, structure, resilience, security and dependability.
Mercury (The Messenger)…
Six of the classical planets has a conventional yinyang polarized pairing: Saturn-Jupiter, Moon-Sun, Venus-Mars. Mercury doesn’t participate in a dichotomy the same way; it is considered androgynous or gender-fluid. Mercury as a name also has the unique being possessed by a astrological planet but also the alchemical metal associated to the planet: Mercury as a planet and metal has a lot of association with the synthesizing principle and mutability modality described in Lesson 3.
Mercury is both a trickster and a magician archetype in the Hermetic tradition where it is anthropomorphized as Hermes Trismegitus. Books, science, technology, verbal and written communication, innovation, logic and rationality, reasoning, speech patterns, the intellect and anything dealing with cognition and the brain are the kinds of things that get associated with planetary and mythical Mercury. Apollo in his aspect as Hellenistic deity of music and poetry, prophecy and knowledge embodies many of the qualities associated with Mercury with other qualities more closely associated with the Sun. Likewise Athena, Hellenistic deity of reason, wisdom and crafts and be associated with Mercury for these qualities while others might be more closely associated with Jupiter.
… and Visuddha (Purification)
Located in the throat, the fifth chakra is all about sound, vibration and communication in every possible form, including the biochemical language of our cells and DNA. Visuddha is the realm of communication which relies on making connections and transferring information. Visuddha is associated with music, conversation, television, television, books, art and the Internet; these things cover almost the entire basis of how modern culture communicates.
The color blue has a lot of complex and contradictory association associated with it which is very apt. Qualities like wisdom, peace, serenity, stability and beauty are applied to blue. Scientific studies have found that being surrounded by it can lower heart rates, blood pressure, body temperature and improve sleeping patterns through the effect it has on the . pituitary gland, affecting our sleep patterns, and it can slow our breathing as well. Darker shades of blue can also associated with depression, mourning and qualities often more association to Saturn or the moon than Mercury.
Jupiter (The Benefactor)…
Jove and Juno were the patriarch and matriarch of the Roman pantheon, more recognizable these days in mythology as Zeus and Hera. Planetary Jupiter as an archetype has a lot qualities associated with them. Among the many positives for Jupiter are prosperity, abundance, good fortune, benevolence, health and healthy offspring, education, self-awareness, mercy and prudence. When untampered, too much Jupiter energy turns to laziness, gluttony, indolence, rudeness, vindictiveness, neglect of responsibility and overindulgence in just about any pleasure. As the Yang-aspected polar opposite of Saturn which is all about restraint, Jupiter’s tendency towards overindulgence is hardcoded in.
… and Ajna (the Third Eye)
Ajna is located in the head at brow level. It is associated with both clear vision and accurate perception of truth, within and without. Ideas, idealism, knowledge both learned and born from intuition are all qualities associated to Ajna. In Aryuvedic medicine, it is associated with the pineal gland. The pineal gland uses information gathered the external light-dark cycle in order to produce and secrete the hormone melatonin. Melatonin in turn regulates a healthy normal wake-sleep cycle which modern medicine is linking as essential for overall wellness. Planetary Jupiter is also commonly associated with health and wellness.
It is suggested on Wikipedia that the color we call generally indigo (especially as a dye) is more purple than what Issac Newton had in mind when he originally wrote it into his papers about the seven spectral colors. I believe this is also true in the classic esoteric tarot decks and how it appears in a lot of contemporary rainbow iconography. I’ve borrowed an image that better conveys spectral (and esoteric) blue, indigo and violet.
Sahasrara (The Thousandfold)
Back in Lesson 1, I cautioned students to use the word correspondence a lot less frequently than most occult authors do. The seven classical planets and the seven chakra share a lot of qualities so they associate but they don’t perfectly correspond. If a specific tarot card has a specific chakra depicted in the art or on the border? Then it becomes a feature of the card.
I said above that Mars does not associate with Sahasrara very well. They don’t make a good pairing the way everything else in both systems does. What Sahasrara, the Crown chakra, associates well with is Kether, the crown sephirot in the Tree of Life glyph of Kabbalah and Qabalah.
Sahasrara represents a spiritual wholeness that mystics have spoken of and sought to maintain as a state of consciousness through human history. The crown chakra has no internal duality, it isn’t Yang or Yin. From a mystical perspective, it is the conceptual gate beyond which lies only divinity, the source of all manifestation aka the Monad.
Physiologically, Sahasrara is sometimes associated with the cerebral cortex, the grey matter of our brain divided into four lobes. Here, some of our most amazing mental processes take place such as those which determine our intelligence, personality, ability to plan and organize, motor functions, touch sensations and capability to interpret images and understand language. I personally find it easier to work with Sahasrara as the chakra of Mind rather than the threshold of divinity.
Purple-Violet (we’ll call them one color) is rare in nature for most of human history. It has a long association with spirituality, extravagance, grandeur, wisdom, pride, mystery, independence, the imagination and magic. I’ve read that purple-violet is the color that people have the most dramatically polarized reactions to, either loving or hating it.
And that concludes an introduction the classical planets, the chakras and related color affinity. Whew. From here? I will head into a brief introduction of the zodiacal wheel including the twelve signs and the twelve houses. Then I will introduce the Kircher Tree of Life glyph and start assembling the Qabalistic Tarot pieces together for each of the Major Arcana and the four suits.
My weekly Tarot Esoterica podcast covers a lot of the same topics as my Esoteric Tarot lessons so please check those out as well.
End of Lesson Exercises
Separate out all of the Major Arcana from your deck; they don’t need to be put into a specific numerical order. Without looking at the chart in Lesson Five look at each one and write down which of the seven planets you would personally associate with that card and why.
While the Major Arcana are still separated, go through them again and just look at how the seven spectral colors plus black, white, and grey are used in the RWS-based decks. Write down any thoughts.
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