5. First Principles of Astrology as Language


Elements, Signs, Houses, Planets and Luminaries.

The Elements of Universe, according to Western Mystery and philosophical traditions, include Fire, Water, Air, Earth. In Universe all material expression (contrast energetic expression) derives from the combining and re-combining of Elements—from quanta to animated life itself.

This conceptualization is as old as the pre-Socratic fragments dating to 500 BCE.  It is not science.  It is not a rule, nor is it dogma. The Chinese tradition, for example, includes Wood and Metal! What explains the durability of the Elements, by whatever tradition, as a First Principle idea?  Answer: its utility in service of the human imagination

To consider Astrology as language, is it helpful to consider Elements as consonants? It is. Each consonant points beyond itself when present in combination with other consonants (symbols). A syntax of Astrology emerges by combining and re-combining First Principle symbols, commencing with Elements, Air, Fire, Water, Earth.

Source: https://www.duostef.com/products/alchemy-symbol-necklace-mens-sterling-silver-chain-necklace-custom-made-air-fire-water-earth-symbol-element-jewelry

The signs of the Zodiac represent another component of Astrology’s First Principles—they are (12) in number:  Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

Source: https://earthsky.org/human-world/suns-entry-into-each-sign

Traditionally, each sign is identified with an Element.

Source:  https://www.powerofpositivity.com/kind-element-according-zodiac-sign/

Our convention of geometry tells us every point along a line that is equidistant from a common center point is a special case “circumference” and defines a circle. Thanks in part to Sumerian contributions dating to the third millennium BCE, our concept of circle is comprised of 360 degrees. There are (12) houses in a horoscope. Each house represents 1/12th of the circle, or 30 degrees, as illustrated by the diagram following. 

In Post No. 4 we talked about houses.  Houses are the building blocks of the horoscope. Each horoscope represents a given Time and Location on Earth. Each house represents “many mansions” of content. The horoscope records the location of the planets and luminaries by sign and house. A house and its location within the horoscope is a unique prism for “seeing” how a planet, or luminary, expresses itself in the life of an individual, family or community.

Source: https://www.thetarotlady.com/star-school-houses/

Earth is the venue of incarnated experience. We participate in history ‘on Earth’. As such, Earth is appropriately the existential ground of our being in Time. This is why Astrologers always ask about Time and Place when constructing a horoscope. The symbol for the Earth is a circle enclosing a cross.

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According to the Genesis story (Genesis 1:16 KJV), neither the Sun nor Moon was created before the fourth day. “Let there be light!” was pronounced, famously, on day one (Genesis 1:3 KJV). The light of the Sun, as we experience it, serves as the Day Star of our natural world. The Light of Creation (from Genesis 1:3 KJV) we are reminded, is something “Nature hath not made.” This is the working definition for G-d* in the Western Mystery Tradition—something Nature hath not made.

* [Omitting the letter “o” to complete the spelling of “God” was deemed an act of hubris and thereby to be avoided. The humbler abbreviation, “G-d”, for millenia–was the convention.]

The speculations of Aristarchus (310 to 230 BCE) as confirmed eighteen centuries later by mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 to 1543 CE)–secures a role for the Sun as the Earth’s gravitational identity. Gravitational identity is represented by a central point within a circle.


What about the Planets?  Good!  There are (8) planets which appear as First Principle actors in every horoscope. Earth does not appear in the horoscope per se–because it “holds” the horoscope.

In the Earth-centered horoscope, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto may be found.

And the Luminariesas Sun and Moon? There are only (2) luminaries and they are remarkable. In Post No. 4 we discuss how the Moon holds the Sun because it is not possible to contemplate the Sun by itself and infer the Moon. The Sun and Moon are important because they represent intuitive AND counter-intuitive influences.

36 First Principles Summary

36 = Elements + Zodiac + Houses + Planets + Luminaries = 4 + 12 +12 + 8 + 2

In our next post we shall consider the Decanates–which are also 36 in number!   The language of Astrology is a precious construction of human endeavoring.

Until next time, we bid you peace.

Frater A




A musical accompaniment for today’s post–consider a sonata for violin by J. S. Bach, “Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord in G Major, BMV 1019: I. Allegro.

A Reference of symbols, charts and definitions important to Western Mystery Tradition studies is listed as Post No. 900. Enter “900” in the Search box to be directed to this location.

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