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The Septenad & the Old Gods

For this preliminary article, I’d like to expound on the information presented on the topic of the Tree of Wyrd by correlating the spheres with the antecedent gods and goddesses from the Greek mythos, along with their meanings. I will be pulling mainly from Ellynor Barz’s masterful work Gods and Planets: The Archetypes of Astrology, a work that synthesizes astrology, symbology, and Jungian psychology. This article will focus on the symbology of these old gods apropos of the spheres, and in which symbols should be understood as:

  1. Something which points to a ‘thing’ beyond itself, and that ‘thing’ being unable to be grasped either immediately, as a whole, or at all.
  2. Something which has no significance by itself, but rather participates in the reality of that ‘thing’ which it points to.
  3. Something which opens up dimensions of reality which were previously closed, or rather, “concealed by the predominance of other dimensions” which can now be comprehended and potentially apprehended, and which subsequently opens up dimensions of the soul as it corresponds to reality.
  4. Something which cannot be created intentionally, but rather develops out of an individual or collective unconscious and cannot function without being accepted by the individual or collective unconscious.
  5. Something which possesses both a constructive, ordering power and a disintegrating, destructive power; in terms of our Tradition, that which can be, or is, both ‘numinous’ and ‘sinister’.[1]

“Astrology consists of symbolic configurations, just as does the collective unconscious, with which psychology is concerned: the planets are the ‘gods,’ symbols of the powers of the unconscious.”

Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, pg. 175
Luna, one of seven plates from a suite of the seven planets. Monogrammist I. B., 1529

The Moon, as an eternal symbol of the feminine, is represented by multiple goddesses in the Greek mythos, those being Selene, Artemis, Kore/Persephone, Demeter, Hecate, and Hera.

Beginning with Selene, who is the goddess and personification of the Moon, along with being the goddess of women, growth, night, sleep, and death. The tale of Selene and Endymion, son of Zeus, with whom Selene gave fifty daughters, represents the generative principle of the feminine, the ‘giving and taking’. Selene is also the wife of Helios, which when she is next to, she is no longer seen; in this regard, Selene is the new Moon, the image of primordial beginnings, perhaps representing initiation.

Next is Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt, and mistress of the outdoors. Artemis loves to live in the open, and is free amongst the nymphs – the beautiful, youthful women who live long yet lack immortality. She detests mothers and homemaking and prefers freedom, and because of this represents the freedom principle of the feminine. This principle is not enduring however, but is only a possibility as every woman – even the youthful nymph – ages and settles. She is the waxing Moon: the world lies before her still.

Kore is associated with Selene and Artemis, and represents the waxing Moon similar to Artemis. Kore means ‘the maiden’ – she is the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of grain, and Zeus. She represents like her mother Demeter both growing and ripening. After being taken by Hades at the behest of Zeus, Kore becomes Persephone, and loses her carefree attitude and playfulness archetypical of the maiden. After Zeus sends Hermes to return Persephone from Hades and back to earth, she is no longer the chaste maiden, but the mature one. “Kore cannot remain only a maiden, only chaste. She must descend into the depths, must become Persephone, in order to bring up new riches from Hades.”[2] She must like Eve partake of the fruit, which in this case was the pomegranate Hades gave to her before returning to earth, and receive understanding, maturation, and knowledge. Here Kore/Persephone have brought together the beginning and end of the Moon cycle, as she descends as Kore and emerges again as Persephone, experiencing both light and dark, which brings new fertility to the lands.

Hecate now appears between the time of transition and darkness. She is the goddess of the dark Moon, witchcraft, and the night. She is the daughter of Asteria, the astral, and Perseus, and is one of the oldest gods. She is found in dark places such as caves, as well as the portal to the underworld. She greets Persephone on her return to the earth, as she assists anything that wishes to ascend out of the darkness and into the light. She is the Sinisterly-Numinous feminine.

Lastly is Hera, the goddess of marriage and women, who represents the fullest appearance of the Moon. In this full Moon, we can feel the full embrace of the feminine in both its aspects: as that which is gentle, understanding, loving, embracing, protective, but also that which is cold, severe, rejecting, uncanny, and even terrifying. This is reflected in the myths of Hera, in which she is both the beautiful, radiant, “blooming wife” of Zeus[3] and yet bore Hephaistos, with which she did so “without any act of love” and cast him forth from Olympus due to displeasement.[4] This is the penetralia of the feminine principle in both its creative and destructive aspects, as it relates to the phases of the Moon in its total darkness and full luminosity.

So we see, what lies in the Moon sphere is giving and taking, holding fast, yearning, freedom, naturalness, enjoying, trusting, new beginnings, descending, the unconscious, bewitchment, terror, radiant energy, and destruction of life. In the sphere of Moon lies initiation.

Mercurius, 1528

Mercury, who is Hermes in the Greek pantheon, is the mediator amongst heaven, earth, and the underworld, the messenger of the gods, and a guide to mankind. The myths surrounding Mercury reveal him to be from birth a sly trickster god who is filled with creative energy, charisma, inventiveness, and intuition. Yet, he lacks depth; Mercury may invent the lyre, but it is Apollo who gifts the music its soul. Mercury is capable in all areas, but lacks uniqueness and character; he is free of values and constraints, which makes him a well-off mediator. He is also itinerant and always moving, preferring the company of anyone, lacking roots in any family, clan, or native land. He can be a shapeshifter, changing form when the situation calls for it.

Therefore, Mercury represents calculation, agility, tactics, intelligence, logic, rhetoric, change, technique, and pragmatism. In the sphere of Mercury lies transformation.

Vennus, 1528

Deathless Aphrodite – Daughter of Zeus and maker of snares –
On your florid throne, hear me!

Sappho, Fragment 1

Venus, or Aphrodite, is the goddess of love, lust, sensuality, and procreation. She is the “bliss of men and gods” and a “lover of laughter.”[5] She is everything charming, connected with nature and natural growth; she is without intention or calculation, and unconcerned with consequences. She can, however, be destructive to those who disdain or disrespect her, as she can sow envy and hatred amongst men, and drive them mad. Venus causes striving for completion in all that is incomplete, for balance, and is the feminine component in men which works in tandem with the Moon. Venus is both the morning and evening star, and is harmonious.

Venus is associated with pleasure, luxury, delights, the arts, beauty, proportion, harmony, balance, and completion. In the sphere of Venus lies coagulation of the psyche.

Sol, 1528

Helios was revered as a symbol of ascent and descent, morning and evening. Helios could see all before him, even that which took place in the underworld. In the symbol of the Sun lies the vital energy, the libido, as physically it is strength, movement, and clarity of consciousness. Psychically, the Sun is the center of the personality or ego, the ‘I am I’. Only by this ego can we be conscious of and reflect on our experiences. This does not represent the individual as a whole, but rather offers wholeness; it is a burgeoning adeptship. In the Sun we see both the conscious and the unconscious.

Thus, the Sun can be seen as the center of the personality, the ego, the will, force, strength, understanding, self-affirmation, authority, and influence. In the sphere of Sun lies adeptship.

Mars, 1528

Unloved by both the gods and men, Ares is the shield basher who loves conflict for conflict’s sake; he revels in murder and manslaughter. The obvious and ostensible nature of Mars as a war god betrays the lesser-known fact that Mars, the unloved, longs for intimacy and companionship. He desires to be with Venus, Aphrodite, who creates harmony and who is diametrically opposed to him. They begat Deimos, Phobos, and Eros: fear, terror, and love. They also bore Anteros and Harmonia, who are one-sided love and harmony; children fathered by a god characterized by restlessness, hate, aggression, and bloodshed.

Mars is then seen as embodying both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ aspects, those being aggression, violence, drive, desire, intensity, Sturm und Drang, but also initiative, vigor, enterprise, desire for love, and resolve. In the sphere of Mars lies the passing of the Abyss.

Jupidter, 1528

Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi

Jupiter as Zeus developed the possibilities for new experiences to be apprehended – a new world of various domains and powers. With Jupiter, that which was once a mysterious numinous phenomenon appearing in the gods has now become a reality for man, as the inner and outer, causal and acausal spaces intermingle. There is now a unity, a cosmos outside and within the human being. What was once restricted has now been able to develop, and under Jupiter’s reign there is neither rigid limit nor chaotic excess. Jupiter represents (and allows, according to the mythos) the greatest possible causal development for the individual towards wholeness of being. “Under the ‘star of Jupiter,’ work on a burdensome heritage, Auseinandersetzung with old conflicts, or inner tensions can lead to a fruitful process in which tethered powers can be set free and opposites can enter a fertile exchange.”[6]

“To Jupiter belongs organic growth and multiplicity, living order, building and development, actualization, and discovery of meaning; fearlessness and openness toward the unfamiliar or foreign, or even the strange and repellent.”[7] In the sphere of Jupiter lies mastery of the self.

Satturnus, 1529

In the Abyss, an unmeasurable darkness, and, by the influence of the numen,
Water and delicate apprehending Pnuema, there, in Kaos.
Then, a numinous phaos arose and, from beneath the sandy ground,
Parsements coagulated from fluidic essence.
And all of the deities particularize seedful physis.

Tractate III, Corpus Hermeticum

Saturn, that god of time, generation, dissolution, and liberation who can at will separate himself from the unity of the feminine and masculine, and can put an end to (or rather, go beyond) such unity. We see in the Greek mythos the instances of Jupiter’s confrontations with Saturn, as our own integration of the saturnine element depends on our development in the sphere of Jupiter. The true knowledge of this sphere is wordless and lies beyond the causal, and awaits for the individual possessing acausal insight and perspective.

Saturn devours, processes, concentrates, delimits, isolates, hinders, and suppresses; however, he can also discipline, instruct, accumulate, and finally liberate. In the sphere of Saturn lies the end of the anados.

“Our basic structure is inherent in us from the moment of birth, and yet throughout our entire life right up to the moment of our death, our task is to become and to bring to fulfillment what we have been from the beginning. In the human being—as in every organism—there exists an entelechy: it already contains in itself its fulfillment as a goal (telos). The entelechy is the formative power that rules the development of the organism and the processes in it in a unified, goal-directed way. It is a most essential part of the dynamic that the two poles, yin and yang, consciousness and the unconscious, condition us and urge us onward. A life path that we traverse consciously (Jung called it the process of individuation) will arise out of the synthesis of conscious and unconscious personality elements […] These symbols, on the one hand, represent the collective conscious of humanity; on the other hand, they contain the formative primordial patterns of the human forms of experiencing that precondition all experience, the archetypes of the collective unconscious. Initially, we experience the a priori existing ‘potential for wholeness’ (Jung) […] only gradually are we able to attain a synthesis of the various parts. Through the process of life, the original, potential wholeness must first become actual wholeness and completeness, in the sense of the old saying: ‘Become who you are.’”

Ellynor Barz, Gods and Planets, pg. 186-187

Notes

[1] Ferré, N.F. (1957). The Dynamics of Faith, by Paul Tillich. 127 pp. New York, Harper & Brothers, 1957. Theology Today, 14, 276 – 279.

[2] Barz, Ellynor (1993). Gods and Planets, pg. 72

[3] Hesiod, Theogony 921

[4] Theogony 928

[5] Theogony 989

[6] Gods and Planets, pg. 37

[7] Gods and Planets, pg. 26