Into the Outer Darkness

I was impressed by an article on the outer planets by Myriam Hildotter at The Apple Seed. I will be quoting from and referring to a small part of that article. I don’t think anyone should be excused from reading the original in full.ptolemaic

I’ve had reason to contemplate the outer planets lately, after having them turned off in all my astrology programmes for the last eight years. In part, it’s because I’ve become alarmed and curious regarding the number of so called Tradition Astrologers returning to the trans personals as if they could do so without doing some violence to the Tradition itself.

This system cannot accommodate asteroids or invisible planets without changing it at its core. I must add that there are many more who have come to understand the beauty and abilities of Traditional Astrology of late and hope this trend continues.

I’m starting with this particular quote from Hildotter:

“Now, if the Traditional Planets represent the Higher Cosmological Spheres, it is not hard to extrapolate that the three Outer Planets represent Lower Spheres, or the Outer Darkness referred to in the Christian tradition. Interestingly enough, these planets may have very well been known about in Ancient times. Certainly, Uranus was. Our Ancient forebears knew enough not to intentionally invoke these planets, however.”

Traditional Astrology is based on light. In modern astrology, orbs are given to aspects> In Traditional Astrology they are assigned to planets  The size of the orb depends on the light emitted. Obviously, Mercury will not have the Same orb as Jupiter. The Ptolemaic universe is superficially geocentric but is ultimately rooted in the divine. The planetary spheres represent what we might call a ladder of light.

In a Lecture on “The Real Astrology” in 2003 John Frawley stated: “Astrology is the science of light. Light existed before the Sun and Moon were created. This is essential light: the light of the essences of things. Astrology works by communication of essential light: the light of the essences of things”

It helps to have some understanding of Aristotle, particularly his Metaphysics and On the Heavens as well as an acquaintance with Platonic and Neo-Platonic thought to grasp the underpinnings of this system, but the system itself is much older. One of the core elements of this schema is the seven planets and luminaries in a particular order. This is usually referred to as the Chaldean Order. The order is based on ascension from Earth to the next closest planet, which is the Moon and continues the furthermost planet, Saturn. When you look at the rulerships, it becomes obvious that this form of divine symmetry permeates the entire system.

At the core, we have the Sun and Moon ruling Leo and Cancer, the next signs on either side, Gemini and Virgo. The pattern continues until we reach Saturn, ruler of Capricorn and Aquarius.

For our immediate purposes however, note that the Sun is at the centre and Venus and Mars on either side, as what the Egyptians called Severity and Mercy. If you add a planet or asteroid into the system, the Sun is no longer at the centre


The Earth rests in the Sublunary Sphere, a place of generation and decay. Saturn represents the furthest reaches of the planetary system  — the outer limits if you like. Beyond Saturn is the realm of the Fixed Stars (also light) and then the Sphere of the Prime Mover, the source of light. This places the trans-personals in the outer darkness.

In order to accommodate the outer planets, we would have to dismantle the Classical model. If one is doing that consciously and fully understands the consequences we could say we are merely using another form of astrology that pretty much ignores what holds the system together.

Unfortunately, more commonly I see self-named Traditional astrologers using outer planets if we use tight orbs. This brings us full circle. We are now talking about allotting orbs as one might to a fixed star. However, they are not stars and emit no light we perceive without the use of powerful telescopes.

It is important to understand that the trans personals, particularly Uranus, were known by the ancients. Indian astrologers claim they have known about them for over 7,000 years.  Uranus is very, very faint, but can be seen as a tiny smudge without a telescope, if you know exactly where to look. I concur with Hildotter that the three outer planets (?) correspond to modern ailments

I’ve maintained for many years that the fascination with the outer planets, usually at the expense of those closer to home, is a perfect analogy for contemporary alienation – that which is furthest from Sol becomes the focus – staring into the abyss, as far away from the light as possible believing they are connecting with higher, transformative energies. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Sun is the ultimate source of life If seen from Pluto, it is a faint star

Sandro Botticelli La Carte de l'Enfer

Sandro Botticelli La Carte de l’Enfer

One of the advantages of not looking at outer planets for eight years is seeing what happens when you bring them back. I see no purpose for them in The Judgment of Nativities and perhaps even less in Horary. Mundane and Electional astrology has been practised successfully since the dawn of civilization in one form or another.

Let’s take a look at what the outer planets signify:

Uranus – Sudden, unexpected change, massive explosions, an unpredictable and highly disruptive force. The mythology of Uranus is some of the most sordid reading you are likely to read. He’s a monster and none the better for being castrated. Positive but erroneous associations were borrowed from Mars and Mercury. The irony that Aquarius, a Fixed Air Sign is said to be ruled by a planet that violently changes all the time is truly spectacular.

Neptune – addiction, including alcoholism. The great deceiver and agent of confusion and dementia. Attributions that have nothing to do with Neptune were taken from the Moon, Saturn and Venus

Pluto – well, let’s just say that if Pluto is “transformational” so is a nuclear war and high levels of toxic radiation. He is associated with the worst biological and chemical weapons. Incorrect associations were borrowed mainly from Mars

Of course,  none of these associations were actually *borrowed* They were stolen, stripping the Traditional planets of much of their meaning. After all, has been tallied up, we can see that the cosmology, meaning  and structure has been unceremoniously tossed aside, as if the tradition that served us well for millennia were nothing more than last year’s model, that can be changed on a whim with impunity – yet another symptom of a throw away society

In short, the outer planets are all malefics of the first degree that describe different forms of devastation, much in the terms of social and moral decay noted by Hildotter.  It is increasingly apparent that astrologers are trying to attach the Transpersonals without understanding the consequences.