By now, you’ve probably heard me and plenty other magicians talk about planetary hours and days. In fact, a lot of the stuff I need to do needs to be timed to a specific hour to boost the efficacy of some working or other. Although a lot of modern occultists don’t bother with the details, maybe paying some mind to the phase of the Moon or the planet ruling the day of the week, the use of planetary hours and days is something that’s still fairly tied up in traditional or ceremonial work. However, it’s still a powerful tool that anyone can use, even if they’re not doing something specifically magical. Although you could feasibly do a magical act at any time, you generally want time on your side to make things flow easier and more effectively.
In order from most powerful to least powerful timing:
- Astrological election
- Planetary hour and day
- Planetary hour
- Planetary day
Using a proper astrological election for a planet is hands-down the best, since it’s tied directly to the strength of the planet and not just to a natural rhythm (though proper planetary elections also involve their proper planetary day and hour). However, this only really works when you can get an election and, moreover, get a good election. For instance, Jupiter won’t have another decent election until at least late next year, since it’s in Gemini right now (Jupiter’s detriment), and elections of Saturn can be far and few between. Because of this, astrological magic can be difficult, and it often suffices to use the natural rhythm of the heavens as they’re in flow on Earth.
You’ll notice I have planetary hour alone preferred over planetary day alone; one might think that the planetary day would be more powerful, but it’s not really the case from what I’ve seen and experienced. If you consider the force of a planet like light, the planetary day gives an ambient and unfocused light, while the planetary hour provides a sharp, focused, and appropriately hued beam. It’s the difference between setting a glass of water in sunlight to warm up, and aiming an array of mirrors in sunlight at a water tank to make it explode. One can use the scattered, dissipated energy of the planet (planetary day), but it’s better if you have some sort of focus (planetary hour), and best if the ambient light is of the same hue as the focus (planetary day and hour).
However, just as some colors work well together and form a new and appropriate color when mixed, some planets are complementary or can combine to produce a force appropriate to a specific working. This means that a planetary hour on another planet’s day can still work, especially if the two planets are in affinity with each other. Planets that are generally in affinity with each other are:
- Saturn with Jupiter, the Sun, Mercury, and the Moon
- Jupiter with Saturn, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon
- Mars with Venus
- The Sun with Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus
- Venus with Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Mercury, and the Moon
- Mercury with Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus
- The Moon with Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus
Of course, if you have a good reason, you might be able to swing a pair of planetary days and hours that are otherwise badly related to each other. For instance, if you wanted a good time to inscribe the Seal of Solomon, a mixture of Mars and Saturn (hour of Mars on a Saturday or vice versa) wouldn’t be bad. Although these planets are not in affinity with each other, they’re both involved explicitly with the Seal of Solomon and their powers combined help with binding and restricting a spirit.
Also, while useful for timing generally, this doesn’t particularly matter much for sublunar or nonplanetary forces, simply because they’re not planetary. As such, something to be done under the auspices of Fire can be done pretty much anytime. However, these other forces can still benefit from the planetary hours, based on their correspondences with them. A few I’d use would be, generally based on Agrippa’s correspondences:
- Fire under Mars and the Sun
- Air under Jupiter and Venus
- Water under Saturn and Mercury
- Earth under the Moon
- Light under the Sun or Moon (the luminaries)
- Darkness under Saturn (the furthest and darkest planet)
Then again, these forces don’t have to be set in stone. If I wanted a good time to do something related to communication, I’d either use an hour of Mercury (which rules communication) or an hour of an airy planet, Venus or Jupiter (which both rule good communication as well as air). Things get a little more unclear when you start mixing up planets and elements, as noted before, but things can still work well.
Then, of course, there’s another system of hours which use geomantic figures ruling the individual hours. I’ve found lists in John Michal Greer’s Art and Practice of Geomancy as well as John Heydon’s stupidly dense Theomagia, and they’re largely based on planetary hours (an hour of Venus is usually translated into an hour of Puella or Amissio), but the pattern there, if any, is unclear. I haven’t found much of a use for it, preferring the simpler and more regular planetary hours, on which the geomantic hours are based anyway.
Now, here’s the kicker about all this. Magic is about making shit work how you want it to work, and it’s not strictly dependent on timing. Like I said before, timing helps, but it’s not the be-all-end-all of magic. Magic provides you with the tools to make any time work, whether it’s by harnessing the proper powers that are strong at the right time or by finding powers and spirits that work in a radically different way than you expected to accomplish something to get the same goal accomplished. The less of a benefit you have from timing, the more you’re going to have to look elsewhere to find other and subtler relationships to do something. In general, timing helps, and it helps a lot. Unless you like to make things difficult for yourself, or unless you’re in an emergency when you’ve got to get shit done ASAP, try to go with the rhythm that already flows and you’ll be set.
Very well said (again). Electional astrology is hard. If you had to match all the factors in a typical Picatrix election, it would be impossible. Fortunately, one can eventually develop a sense of which ones are more important.
It’s true, it’s just about impossible to get a perfect election. Granted, so long as you can nail at least one essential dignity and nab a few accidental dignities, keeping away from any major afflictions, you’ll be set. Some things might suck, but if you’ve got enough knowledge to get a decent election with only one or two afflictions, you’ve probably also got knowledge enough to contain and control the afflictions with magic or good planning.
Depending on what I am doing, I also consider the pahse of the moon, and on occasion the position of the sun in regards to noon, dawn, dusk, or midnight.
“Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path.”
I think that part of the point of paying attention to timing is learning to have a sense of project management. Most of the electional windows we use are stupidly narrow — they’re an hour long, or they’re fourteen minutes long. They’re a reminder that these things are designed to be, in a sense, “fire and forget”. Don’t get too absorbed in doing things perfectly — DO get absorbed in getting the timing right, knowing you won’t be able to do it again for a while, and then (once the magical stuff is done) get out there and do the work to make that come to pass. The astrological hour is saying, in effect, the time is right to get this stuff done; open the door and walk through.