Monday, December 31, 2012

Zodiacal and Elemental Hours

One of the most basic magical techniques is the tuning of one's working space to match the influence or spirit being conjured. As I discuss in Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy, modern magicians often accomplish this by relying on the Greater Rituals of the Pentagram and Hexagram or similar ceremonial forms, but during the Renaissance a system of hours was used that was believed to follow the natural flow of spiritual currents in the universe. As a modern magician my general practice is to use both, which seems to augment the effectiveness of my rites quite nicely.

The most well-known aspect of this system is that of the planetary days and hours based on the Chaldean Order, which breaks each 24-hour period from sunrise to sunrise into twelve day and twelve night hours. These hours vary in length depending on the season, with night hours longer during the winter and day hours longer during the summer. The system works quite well for planetary magick - the hour was generally considered to be more important than the day, so when timing an operation for a particular day the most auspicious time could be selected. However, it would be convenient to extend this system for work with the signs of the Zodiac and classical elements along authentic Renaissance grounds. From my introductory studies of traditional astrology I believe that I may have worked out just such a method.

Here's the basic question - what's the difference between a day hour and a night hour for a particular planet? Many planetary magicians do not see one, and choose the most convenient hours for their operations with little regard for day or night. The concept of diurnal and nocturnal Sects, though, is well-worked out in medieval astrology and it is my hypthesis that the concept can be employed to augment the system of planetary days and hours to include Zodiac signs and by extension elemental triplicities for magical operations conjuring spirits or influences more strongly associated with those aspects than those of the planets. This is a great opportunity for experimentation - I plan on doing some work with this idea soon, and if anyone else out there has done so or is planning to do so I would love to hear from you.

The concept of Sect is closely related to the system of ancient planetary rulerships - that is, those involving only the seven ancient planets. According to this arrangement, the Sun rules Leo, the Moon rules Cancer, Mercury rules Virgo and Gemini, Venus rules Libra and Taurus, Mars rules Scorpio and Aries, Jupiter rules Sagittarius and Pisces, and Saturn rules Capricorn and Aquarius. These rulerships are further divided into Sects based on the gender or polarity of the signs. Leo is Dirunal, Cancer is Nocturnal, and each of the remaining five planets rules one Diurnal and one Nocturnal sign. The feminine or receptive signs are considered Nocturnal, while the masculine or projective signs are considered Diurnal. The overall breakdown by Sect looks like this:

Aries - Mars - Diurnal
Taurus - Venus - Nocturnal
Gemini - Mercury - Diurnal
Cancer - Moon - Nocturnal
Leo - Sun - Diurnal
Virgo - Mercury - Nocturnal
Libra - Venus - Diurnal
Scorpio - Mars - Nocturnal
Sagittarius - Jupiter - Diurnal
Capricorn - Saturn - Nocturnal
Aquarius - Saturn - Diurnal
Pisces - Jupiter - Nocturnal

It seems to me, then, that relating a sign to a combination of Planet and Sect according to the day and night hours of that particular planet would yield a practical and authentic method for generating Zodiacal hours. The hours for Leo and Cancer would be the same as for the Sun and Moon, though based on sect one would expect the day hours of the Sun to be strongest for Leo and the night hours of the Moon to be strongest for Cancer. For every other planet, the day hours would then be attributed to its Diurnal sign while the night hours would be attributed to its Nocturnal sign. As each sign is also attributed to an elemental triplicity, elemental hours can be deduced in the same manner. For example, on a Sunday the hours (starting with that of the Sun) would look like this:

Hours of the Day
1st - Sun - Leo - Fire
2nd - Venus - Libra - Air
3rd - Mercury - Gemini - Air
4th - Moon - Cancer - Water
5th - Saturn - Aquarius - Air
6th - Jupiter - Sagittarius - Fire
7th - Mars - Aries - Fire
8th - Sun - Leo - Fire
9th - Venus - Libra - Air
10th - Mercury - Gemini - Air
11th - Moon - Cancer - Water
12th - Saturn - Aquarius - Air

Hours of the Night
1st - Jupiter - Pisces - Water
2nd - Mars - Scorpio - Water
3rd - Sun - Leo - Fire
4th - Venus - Taurus - Earth
5th - Mercury - Virgo - Earth
6th - Moon - Cancer - Water
7th - Saturn - Capricorn - Earth
8th - Jupiter - Pisces - Water
9th - Mars - Scorpio - Water
10th - Sun - Leo - Fire
11th - Venus - Taurus - Earth
12th - Mercury - Virgo - Earth

This, then, provides a method by which planetary, zodiacal, and elemental rites can be timed based on a combination of Planet and Sect. Naturally, this method requires some experimentation, as the real test of any system is whether or not it works, not how logical it seems. At the same time, these aspects seem to line up well and are solidly grounded in the traditional astrology of the Western Esoteric Tradition. Feel free to give it a try and keep me posted.

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Unknown said...

Your explanation is very clear and very useful. Thank you!

Scott Stenwick said...

You're welcome! If you do decide to try this out in a ritual context, let me know how it goes.

Anonymous said...

Do you happen to have any insights on the timing of enochian magic? It definitely seems to have timing implications, although nothing I've seen which is particularly clear cut.

polyphanes said...

I definitely like the idea of ascribing zodiac sign rulerships to the hours, and linking it through the planets makes good sense. However, I've gotten good results through another set of attributions between the planets and elements using Agrippa's Scale of Four, in which Fire is connected to Mars and the Sun, Water to Saturn and Mercury, Air to Venus and Jupiter, and Earth to the Moon. Just another system of attributions, is all; the zodiacal element system also deserves some good experimentation, though it appears a little unbalanced (diurnal hours are almost entirely Fire and Air, nocturnal almost entirely Water and Earth). Now if only I could manage to figure out how John Heydon made up his geomantic hours, I'd be set!

Scott Stenwick said...

@phergoph: In Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy I recommend using planetary hours in addition to the days for working with the Heptarchial angels. Since the listed planetary attributions are different for the King and Prince, I recommend using the planetary hour based on that attribution on the proper day as given by Dee.

I work with the Great Table along elemental lines, and according to Dee the Great Table angels are usually conjured in groups, one from each of the four quadrants. That means relating a Dee-style Great Table operation to a particular element isn't always a good fit, though when it is a system like this one could be employed.

@polyphanes: I've used similar arrangements myself assigning the elements along planetary lines, and it seems to be viable enough to do so, especially if you've gotten good results with that method.

As far as the zodiacal arrangement being unbalanced, that's actually kind of the point - in Renaissance astrology the diurnal sect is related to the active principle and therefore Fire and Air, while the nocturnal sect is related to the receptive principle and therefore Water and Earth.