Magical Materials of the Seven Classical Planets
If you follow or read my blog much, you’ve probably noticed that I’m on a major planetary kick and am hoping to provide more resources for beginners and even experienced witches interested in working with the forces of the seven classical planets. I do plan on expanding beyond that, and will touch on the outer planets, Zodiac, and other concepts in later articles, but this one will continue with my focus on the seven classical celestial spheres. If you’ve missed my previous work on this topic, check out my tag for it here.
I’ve published a lot already about this topic, mostly concerned with simple ways of working the planets that require no materials or tools. For example, I’ve written about the use of planetary septagrams and hexagrams, as well as using the planetary glyphs and sigilization with planetary magic squares. I know a lot of my readers are looking for ways to get in touch with higher forces without collecting ingredients, tools, or material, so most of what I’d written focuses on doing just that. Now, though, I’d like to talk a bit about using traditional correspondences for the seven celestial spheres in magick that uses materials. I know some of my readers focus on herbal workings (as I often do), and I felt it important to address the issue of correspondences (herbal and otherwise) for the planets, particularly the why of it all.
Most books and many websites will just list a series of plants, flowers, roots and stones under the heading “Jupiter” or “Venus,” etc., and fail to address why those materials are associated with that planet traditionally. This, to me, does a disservice to our Craft, because it’s always, in my view, of paramount importance to know why you’re doing any one thing magically, as well as knowing that the reasoning for it is sound. For example, many books associate oak with Jupiter, but any spell using oak to work with the forces of Jupiter will be much stronger if the witch casting it has a better reason for using it than simply, “This book I read said it’s a thing.” I believe that, in most cases, the most personal system of correspondence, fine-tuned to the witch using it, is most effective. Hence, I thought I’d do my best and pull back the curtain a bit, discussing how and why certain plants and stones have particular associations.
This is useful on two levels. First - it solidifies the correspondence in your mind and allows you to evaluate it and decide if it will work for you. If you find it doesn’t suit you, you can develop your own independent of tradition. Oak, for example, makes sense for Jupiter in mind view, but you might disagree, and, though that association is traditional, have another, non-standard association for oak. Also, knowing the criteria traditionally used to classify plants or minerals will allow you to classify unusual or non-traditional material, as well.I’ve written about finding your personal correspondences for a particular material, and once you’ve begun working with planetary forces, believe me, those associations creep in quickly, and soon you’ll find yourself categorizing (for example), energy drinks as Martial and melatonin as Lunar.
Anyways, I’ll now be going through each planet, one by one, and talk a bit about it’s associations and traditional correspondences for it, as well as why they exist. I’ll keep it short, but this should provide a starting-point for further research. You will notice that the associations originate from a variety of starting points, all related to the planet in question.
Saturn is associated with life cycles, time, and death, as well as the deep wax and wane of agricultural periods, as well. Age, wisdom, death, maturity, discipline and restraint are all Saturnian. It is the slowest-moving of the seven classical planets, which perhaps explains some of these associations. It is sometimes referred to in astrology as the Great Malefic, but don’t be frightened by such a title. It’s true that much of what Saturn signifies might be felt negatively by us here on Earth, but such things are also often necessary and useful to us, as well.
As you might expect due to its association with agriculture and life’s inevitable decay into renewal, Saturn is generally associated with dark, drab, and muted colors, including black, gray, and brown. For this reason, many darker stones such as onyx have a Saturnian association. Plants that correspond with Saturn tend to be those growing closest to Earth - roots and things that grow in dark places, and particularly plants that thrive amidst decay. Many Saturnian plants also tend to have a deep, pungent odor and unpleasant taste, as well, and a good percentage of them have soporific effects on the human body or are even poisonous, so use caution.
Jupiter is a large and quite visible planet, thus the ancients often associated it with the king or leader figure within their pantheons of godforms. The color purple or royal blue is generally considered Jovian, and richly-colored blue or purple stones belong to this planet. This is because, up until quite recently, those colors were rarely available and mostly worn and associated with nobility, thus making them a fitting color for the “king” planet. Sapphire and lapis lazuli, for me, will always be the archetypal Jovian gemstones, but some also associate amethyst with this planet, both due to its color and also because of its mythological association with sobriety and good decision-making
While actual rulers throughout history varied in their level of corruptness, Jupiter represents the archetypal king and thus embodies the positive traits of a ruler - harmony, justice, balance, wealth, and expansiveness. Jovian plants, thus, tend to embody these qualities, and are usually large and imposing (such as the mighty oak) or hardy, tenacious, expansive and prolific (this is why certain small plants, such as the dandelion, are associated with Jupiter at times). In terms of chemical effects, many authors class anything with a physicallly soothing effect, such as aloe vera, with Jupiter, owing to Jupiter’s general association with harmony, temperance, and peace.
Mars, as a planet, is sometimes compared to Saturn and called the Lesser Malefic. It is true that both of these planets tend to represent things that are not always pleasant for humans, especially Mars, which governs warfare, battle, surgery, sports, and all activities that could be termed violent in any fashion.
You can easily see, though, that such things are sometimes necessary (surgery certainly is, for example), and thus this planet has an important place in our cosmology. it is associated with the color red, of course, owing perhaps mostly to the planet itself having a reddish color visible even to the ancients, but also due to blood’s red color and the proliferation of blood and viscera in those matters governed by Mars.
Which association came first? We can’t really say, but both work in synergy today. Bood-red stones like carnelian and ruby are governed by Mars, as is bloodstone. Many of these stones have legends and myths associated with them and the bloodier aspects of human experience, making them apt for channeling the essence of victory that Mars represents.
Martial plants tend to be those with an immediate and painful effect on the human body - stinging nettles, certain plants with thorns, an other irritants like ghost peppers. These differ from the Saturnian plants, which often include slow poisons, in that Mars doesn’t wait, and you feel the effects immediately.
The Sun is the center of our solar system, as any child will tell you. Ancient peoples may or may not have known this, but all were aware of how central the Sun was to life on earth, on an almost instinctual level. It is, after all, rather obvious - the sun is the brightest heavenly body and the most readily-observed. In astrology, it is considered the Great Luminary, and represents the heart of an individual’s true nature.
Religions and related phenomena that revere it as a symbol of absolute divinity or Spirit exist to this day. The sun’s association with the colors yellow, orange, and (especially) gold is understandable, as is its association with gemstones that glimmer in such shades, such as citrine and the aptly-named sunstone.
Plants associated with the sun usually display at least a passing resemblance to the heavenly body, with radial starburst-like symmetry and often bright yellow blossoms, such as is the case with chamomile and dandelion. Herbs commonly used in cooking, such as bay and rosemary, draw Solar associations, as well, from their relationship to nourishment.
Certain plants may also have a Solar association due to their tendency to perpetually face the sun, shifting, during the day. Because the sun is associated with all-over health and particularly a cheerful disposition, plants like St. John’s Wort that are said to boost the mood have Solar connotations, as do those which help to maintain an individual’s general wellbeing.
Venus was an exceedingly bright feature in the sky to our ancient forebears, and its radiant beauty led many cultures to associate it with goddess figures and other godforms with love, fertility, and beauty associations.
Though it appears a pale yellow dot in our sky, it’s commonly associated with the colors pink and green in terms of mythological correspondence. Green was likely chosen for its association with growth, springtime, and fertility. The pink association may perhaps stem from the planet itself’s tendency to appear amid a pinkish atmospheric glow commonly called the Belt of Venus. Regardless, pink and green both have Venusian associations today, and thus green gemstones (emerald being the strongest example) and pink ones (such as rose quartz) are often used as a conduit for Venusian forces.
Venus is associated with both love and fertility, and thus aphrodisiac plants tend to fall under this planet’s domain, as do plants useful in maintaining physical beauty and the image of health for the individual. Other plants, though, are merely associated with Venus due to their rare beauty or sweet smell, which we humans find attractive and alluring. Not content to merely symbolize connubial, sexual, or otherwise physical fertility, Venus also governs mental and emotional fertility, and thus great art, and works of the imagination, as well. All things of great beauty, however created or found, can be used to connect with Venus.
Mercury orbits the sun faster than all other planets, and is also one of the smaller bodies visible to the naked eye. For this reason, the ancients came to associate it with Hermes and later Mercury, swift-footed and highly mutable messengers in their respective pantheons.
Many find the concepts of Mercury difficult to qualify and grasp, which is fitting given its changeable, quickly-shifting nature. Mercury is often seen as a rather neutral planet, lacking the overtly-positive popular associations of Venus and Jupiter, but without any of the usual negativity that gets thrown around with regards to Mars and Saturn. Still, a force to be reckoned with, Mercury governs many areas of human life, such as communication, learning, and the healing arts.
The color orange is commonly associated with Mercury, perhaps due partially (in my opinion) to orange’s stimulating but not overbearing effects on the human psyche. Certain orange or even yellow gemstones such as yellow jasper have a Mercurial association, though some would likely associate them with the Sun instead. Mercury is, though, of course, almost constantly associated with toxic quicksilver due to that metal’s unusual properties and mutability.
The herbs of Mercury tend to share the physical characteristics of having a multitude of small seeds, blossoms, or tiny leaves (as is the case with lavender), which mirror the small and swift nature of the planet. Herbs of Mercury, as well, tend to have a strong taste or smell that is neither wholly unpleasant nor necessarily always desirable, and many (such as ephedra) have actual psychoactive effects acting as mild stimulants on humans.
If the Sun is to be considered the Great Luminary, then we might think of the Moon, which most strongly reflects its light to us here on earth, as the Lesser Luminary. It is often associated with psychism and magick in general, particularly witchcraft. Beyond that, the power of visualization and imagination is sometimes referred to as “Lunar intelligence.” While Mercury speaks to our powers of logic and reason, the Moon harkens us to dream and envision.
While ancient perspectives on the Moon were varied, we now know that it emits no light itself, and from this we draw the powerful lesson that the intellect and imagination are necessarily fed and enlivened by the core of the self (in this case, represented by the Sun). For obvious reasons, the Moon is most often associated with the color silver. Sometimes, though, it is associated with the pale violet or lilac hue that often fills the sky at dawn and dusk. Gemstones associated with the Moon tend to be iridescent, such as the aptly-named moonstone, and of course, its metal is silver.
Plants associated with the moon often have a crescent shape or otherwise call to mind the physical aspects of the Moon, such as the silvery color of mugwort or the shape of anise. Plants that bloom at night, naturally, are given a Lunar association, as are those (often the same) which have a rare, sweet scent that fades quickly. Jasmine is a great example of this. Still others (including the aforementioned mugwort) also draw Lunar associations from mild (or even severe) psychoactive, hallucinogenic effects that stimulate the imagination.
I hope you found this article helpful, and that it unveils at least some of the mystery behind how traditional correspondences for these seven planets work and where they originate. Please realize (and this is very important) that just because something is considered an herb, sold in a health food or occult shop, or is associated with a particular planet, does not make it necessarily safe for human consumption or even contact. Quicksilver, after all, is long associated with the planet Mercury, but most of us well-know that material to be quite poisonous.
Please do research before consuming or even using any herbs, regardless of what planet they appear to be a conduit for. Even some gemstones can be poisonous or harmful if consumed in some way. So yes, be careful. And realize, as well, that any association you personally have for a material will necessarily be more important than tradition, so if roses seem Lunar rather than Venusian to you, work within that context.
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