Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday's "Why?" ~ The Glyphs

When I started to study astrology in earnest one of my first jobs was to commit to memory the glyphs used to represent the signs. To understand a natal chart the first essential is to recognise the glyphs. Sign glyphs are better known than planet glyphs, they often appear in newspaper and magazine Sun sign columns, because of their relative familiarity they are easy to memorise.

Planet glyphs are less familiar, but there are only seven major ones to remember, and Sun and Moon are easy-peasy. I used to draw the shapes continually until I had them locked in. It helps in memorising the planet glyphs to have some idea of why they are as they are. They're not simply shapes dreamed up at random, each part of the odd looking symbols has significance. Astrologer Alan Oken explained this in his book "Complete Astrology", from which I started to dutifully copy before discovering that the work has already been done by Carole Somerville at Suite 101- see Glyphs of the Planets .

In typical Aquarian fashion, I've wondered about the origin of the planet glyphs. Water Carriers accept very little at face value y' know! There's not a lot of information available though, other than that the glyphs seem to date back to at least mediaeval times. I found this interesting page at a site called Purple Hell: "Alchemical Symbols"

It would seem then that the link between astrology and alchemy can still be identified from the planet symbols we use. I found it interesting to look through the whole page at the large collection of alchemical symbols. Some of them are strangely beautiful.


anthonynorth said...

I've often thought that astrology and alchemy are related, in that they came from a similar pre-science that was shared - a kind of instinctual knowing, I suppose. Now if we could track this beginning from the snippets that are left behind - including Hermetica, for instance - then we'd really begin to grasp ancient understanding of the universe.

Twilight said...

AN ~~~ Yes, though I'm not sure whether they are actually related disciplines or whether it was just that the same people who practiced one also practiced the other, and borrowed appropriate symbols.

Wikipedia states (tentatively) that alchemy's roots go back to Egypt - 5,000 BCE.

There's a wide flung net of mystery that'll never really be solved. I think a lot of valuable information was lost when the Library of Alexandria was destroyed.