Unlocking the Observatory: Natal Stars, Stellar Angels, Lunar Mansions, and Questions

Where were we? We’re in the middle of discussing the obscure Telescope of Zoroaster (ZT), a manual of divination and spirituality originally published in French in 1796 (FZT) at the close of the French Revolution, which was later translated into German in 1797 (GZT) and then again in an abridged form as part of Johann Scheible’s 1846 Das Kloster (vol. 3, part II, chapter VII) (KZT), with Scheible’s work then translated into English in 2013 as released by Ouroboros Press (OZT).  Although OZT is how most people nowadays tend to encounter this system, I put out my own English translation of FZT out a bit ago as part of my research, and while that translation was just part of the work I’ve been up to, there’s so much more to review, consider, and discover when it comes to this fascinating form of divination.  Last time, we talked about reading the large hexangular figure as the Great Dial and how to use “option-whittling” to determine the specific details of a situation, including especially matters of time. If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

※ For those following along with their own copy of ZT (get yours here!), the relevant chapters from ZT are the “Second Supplement” and “Third Supplement”.

And now we get to the part of the ZT discussion that had me scratching my head (and banging it against my desk) for the longest time, and one of the reasons why I got so obsessed with trying to figure ZT out.  This is about to get messy, so strap in, dear readers.

We’ve covered a lot of ZT up until this point, it’s true; while I’m not following the order of ZT’s “Steps” or “Supplements”, I have covered the majority of the actual divinatory technique itself (barring the process of divination, refinements to query and tool, etc.), and even part (but only a very small part) of the spirituality, theology, cosmology, and anthropology of the ZT.  And, up until this point, much of the technique-related stuff is surprisingly simple: sure, there’s definitely a lot to it and damn-near countless ways to plot out various arrangements of things in the Great Mirror, but the bulk of the system isn’t a whole lot more than “there are some primary general concepts, we can combine and permute them in these ways, and now we have all these secondary specific concepts”.  This very approach is what got us all the meanings of the 99 Number tiles and the meanings of the 37 houses of the Great Mirror, and even the “option-whittling” approach used to simplistically determine time or other details of situations isn’t too complicated to figure out at a high level and apply in a variety of different ways.  This is why, given all the complexity and specificity that ZT can allow as a divination system, I think ZT is a masterpiece of elegance by means of extrapolation from simplicity.

Take a look, dear reader, at the plate called “The Urn”, which gives ZT’s own depiction of the various tiles to be used for divination, embellished with all relevant information for amateurs to more easily pick up and run with as they learn the system of ZT:

Each of the Number tiles has the number in the center in the middle, the planet (more accurately, the planetary intelligence) it’s associated with on the left, and the Zodiac sign it’s associated with on the right.  Each tile also has a name in the banner underneath the number; tiles 1 through 9, the primitive Numbers, get the names of their respective Intelligences, but each of the other tiles has the name of what appears to be an angel: Gabriel, Kiriel, Barbiel, Dirachiel, and so forth.  Moreover, some of these angel names are repeated across multiple tiles, e.g. Dirachiel has tiles 15, 60, and 87.

Thus do we come to the “Second Supplement”.  This chapter opens up with a lengthy and passionate introduction to how the method of ZT is but the foundation of a much grander system of theurgy and divinity—the layer of stone that gives way to marble, marble to crystal, crystal to diamond, diamond by heavenly brilliance itself—and that we shouldn’t be surprised that humans are but one type of entity throughout a dazzlingly diverse cosmos of entities of all kinds both corporeal and incorporeal, and how humans have the ability to see visions of spirits or who are taught about matters of the future or of God by means of spirits.  Immediately after this, we are introduced to the notion of a particular set of angels relevant for our studies in ZT (although, admittedly, nowhere referenced in any earlier part of the book).  I’m just gonna quote what ZT says on this point:

The Great Cabala recognizes, as we have seen, nine Intelligences. However, the two solar Intelligences and the two lunar Intelligences answer only to one planet each per pair, even if the Intelligence presiding over the material aspect subject to its Planet is not, somehow, a first Satellite of the spiritual Intelligence, rather than an Intelligence of the first order itself. On these grounds, the totality of Intelligences has only seven bases, which are the seven Planets. Each of these planets has four Messengers—Angels, in other words, which are according to the Greek etymology Αγγελος, this word meaning “messenger” in this beautiful language. These Angels, or Messengers of the Planets, are therefore 28 in number. There are as many boxes in the Great Mirror, allowing for each Angel to have their own fixed abode. Each Planet lodges in its orbit the Angels attached to it. Recall that some boxes are common to two Planets; the Angel who dwells in such a box is at the service, then, of its two corresponding Intelligences.

We will present a Table below where all the Cabalistic Angels are named and, next to each, as many mysterious Stars as they govern in the celestial regions. Following these, their names will be specified, as well as their Planets and the box that each Angel occupies in the Great Mirror, along with the three or four numbers assigned to it among the 99 with which the Table of Intelligences is provided. The Angels that rule four numbers each are those that occupy the six corner boxes of the Great Mirror; three of these are solar and three of these are lunar, as the column of signs in the table will show.

Each of the Stars that we will shortly name is, by its own account, a natal Star. It is common enough to hear that “so-and-so was born under a lucky (or unlucky) star”; however trivial this manner of speaking has become, it is still of cabalistic origin. Indeed, each of the allegorical Stars (which we will make known) influences all humans born under it, for each star’s reign is 13 days, 61 minutes, and 25 seconds per year. The total of the reigns of the 28 natal Stars anticipates the six hours per year on the totality of 365 days, with the 366th day of the leap year included in the net total of the days of four years. The domain of the 28 Stars thus starts again from the same instant every four years to complete a new period at the end of the same duration. This calculation can be verified by the Candidate arithmetically.

But let us first provide the promised Table, after which an easy-to-use dial shall be presented to put the Amateur within reach of recognizing, without fear of error, under which Star one is born, of what quality it is, what it allows to hope for, what it threatens, and whether this natal Star is friend or foe to the planet which governed in particular the hour in which the birth took place. It is thus for all the events of life, there not being a single thing however arbitrary or futile it might seem, which is not influenced by the circumstances of Heaven.*

* We do not wish in the slightest to bring the reader back to judicial astrology, for judicial astrology sprang from the Cabala and corrupted it. […]

We are then treated to the following two-page table, where the columns are “Influencing Stars”, “Governing Angels”, “Planets”, “Houses”, and “Numbers Influenced”, respectively:

My rendition of the table, for easier reading:

Stars Angels Planets Houses Numbers
1 Alnacha Gabriel 4 10 45 69
2 Albukaim Amixiel 20 14 59 77
3 Alkoréya Géniel ♀︎ 24 12 66 84
4 Aldaboran Azariel 30 28 58 76
5 Almuzin Sékéliel 36 23 68 86
6 Alkaya Dirachiel 27 15 60 87
7 Aldira Michael 7 32 55 95
8 Albiathra Amnediel 34 19 56 92 17
9 Alkarphès Barbiel ♂︎ 21 61 79 82
10 Algebla Ardéfiel 32 22 67 85
11 Alkratia Néziel ♀︎ 25 18 21 54 81
12 Alsarpha Abdizüel 5 27 31 64
13 Algaira Jazékiel ♀︎ 12 30 51 93
14 Alkimecht Ergédiel 29 24 33 78
15 Algaphar Ataliel 33 26 29 65
16 Alzibian Azéruel 18 38 41 62
17 Alactil Adriel 31 11 40 74 35
18 Alkab Egibiel ♂︎ 22 16 36 63 90
19 Alzébra Amuziel 16 13 20 91
20 Analkaim Kiriel ♂︎ 8 25 73 94
21 Abeldack Béthunael 14 49 71 96
22 Zaddadena Géliel 37 44 50 83 89
23 Sabadola Réquiel 35 47 53 80
24 Sadahad Abrimaël ♂︎ ♀︎ 10 34 48 97
25 Sadalakia Aziel 28 37 42 72 99
26 Alporabot Tagriel ♂︎ 2 46 52 70
27 Alkarga Athémiel ♀︎ 26 57 75 98
28 Albothan Raphaël ♂︎ 23 39 43 88

Alright, let’s cut the crap: this is just a table of the 28 mansions of the Moon with their angels, and the description preceding the table is clearly describing the same thing.  By saying that “each star’s reign is 13 days, 61 minutes, and 25 seconds per year”, it’s basically giving the calendrical equivalent of saying that each mansion’s span of the ecliptic is 12°15’26” (the average daily ecliptic motion of the Moon).  And, to those who are familiar with Cornelius Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy, the names of the mansions (delightfully corrupted as many Arabic names and words always are in any European text) are still basically the same as those given in book II, chapter 33, and ditto for the names of the angels of the mansions from book III, chapter 24.  For a text that so vehemently denies any connection with “judicial astrology”, debased and corrupted as ZT claims it to be, there’s a delicious sting of irony in seeing how far that’s really true.

Let’s take a closer look at the table.  What we have here is:

  • An index of the names of the 28 lunar mansions (what ZT calls “natal stars”) along with the presiding angel of each
  • Each mansion/angel’s corresponding planetary association (more on that in a bit)
  • Which house of the Great Mirror the mansion/angel is associated with (marked with a ✠ if it’s a corner house)
  • What Number tiles are associated with the mansion/angel (three for non-corner houses, four for corner houses along with what that extra Number’s specific planetary association is)

ZT goes on to note, immediately after the table, a few things that would appear to be missing from the table:

  • The primitive Numbers (1 through 9) are direct representatives of their respective planetary Intelligences, so they don’t get associated to any angel; only compound Numbers get associated with angels.
  • Houses 1, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, and 19 in the Great Mirror are already taken up by the seven planets themselves, so those don’t get associated with any angel.
  • Because there are 37 houses in the Great Mirror, if we take away 7 for the seven planets, that leaves us with 30—two too many for the angels of the lunar mansions.  To this end, all nine of the planetary intelligences get associated a house: all the non-luminary Intelligences just get their planet’s own house, but the Sun and Moon are split, such that Psykelia gets house 1 (the Sun’s proper house in the Great Mirror), Genhelia gets house 3 (between Psykelia and Erosia/Venus), Seleno gets house 11 (the Moon’s proper house in the Great Mirror), and Psykomena gets house 6 (between Psykelia and Seleno).

Based on this—as well as a lengthy description—ZT also gives us Plate VI, illustrating the Great Mirror with all the angels associated with it.  It breaks this diagram out into a “Drum” (the large hexangular figure with the names of the Intelligences and angels in it) and “Border” (the zodiacal and lunar mansion divisions along the ecliptic, along with the 13-ish days per lunar mansion).  The Arabic numeral in each house is the house’s rank in the Great Mirror, while the Roman numerals in the non-Intelligence houses indicate the rank of the lunar mansion of those particular angels.

Now, tell me, dear reader, if you so kindly would oblige me: what about any of this makes any goddamn sense I swear to god.  How on Earth is ZT fitting any of this together, when so little of it makes any sense?

  • If you look at the order of the mansions/angels associated with the houses of the Great Mirror, what exactly is happening?  Why does mansion I get put in house 4, II to 20, III to 24, and so forth?
  • While the names of the mansions themselves are basically correct, and most of the angels seem right, there are a few that aren’t.  Comparing with Agrippa’s list, while ZT makes use of the three archangels Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael, these appear nowhere in Agrippa’s list, and instead appear to replace the angels Anediel, Gabiel, and Amnixiel.
  • Further, while most of the mansions in ZT have the same angels in the same order as in Agrippa, some aren’t; mansions 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 28 don’t have the right angel names (either being swapped out with an archangel name or just using an existing name in the wrong order, e.g. ZT giving mansion II to Amixiel but Agrippa gives Amixiel to mansion III.
  • The Numbers assigned to each angel/mansion are all over the place.  They tend to be related to the planetary associations of each angel/mansion, but so many of them have ones associated with the Sun or Moon (of either intelligence) as well.
  • What happened to the ✠ mark for mansion XI/house 25 for Neziel?  That’s a corner house, so it should have that mark, because it has four Numbers associated with it.
  • For the most part, whatever angel gets whatever planets in that table, it has at least one tile of those planets associated with it, and not others (except for the solar and lunar tiles getting scattered all over the place).  In that light, why does Raphael—an angel in the exclusive orbit of Mars—get a Number associated with Venus (39)?
  • Why does Kiriel—an angel in the orbit of Mars and Saturn—get a Number associated with Mercury (94)?  For that matter, while Kiriel has a Number of Mars associated with it (25), it lacks one for Saturn.  Where’d it go?

Perhaps the biggest question I have about any of this is this notion of planetary associations with the lunar mansions, which just isn’t…like, a Thing.  Like, I’ve spoken with a number of professional astrologers about this, and the lunar mansions don’t—and shouldn’t—get planetary associations, beyond possibly linking the nature of particular fixed stars found within those mansions to planets and from there to the mansions itself, but this just isn’t done.  None other than Chris Warnock (of Renaissance Astrology) touched on this once upon a time on his blog:

In Vedic astrology the 27 nakshatra do have planetary rulers, but this is based on a planetary period sequence, similarly to firdaria. The sequence is Sun, Moon, Mars, North Node, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, South Node and Venus. A number of traditional Western sources do give planetary rulerships for the Mansions, but each one is different, some use the Chaldean Order, some the days of the week order.

A majority of traditional sources on the Mansions do not provide planetary rulerships and those sources that do, don’t agree on the system. The Liber Lunae, Sloane Ms 3826, a mid-Sixteenth Century English source gives a strange sequence of planetary rulerships, that doesn’t follow the Chaldean Order or the days of the week. The Liber Lunae Mansions are contained in my Mansions of the Moon Book.

I would have to ask why logically the Mansions of the MOON would even have planetary rulers? Aren’t these the Moon’s Mansions? This reminds me of the confusion over planetary rulership of fixed stars. Because Ptolemy in Tetrabiblos says that fixed stars “have the nature of” various planets, this has been taken as meaning that the planets rule these fixed stars. Again, logically the fixed stars are in a higher sphere and in fact the fixed stars “rule” the planets.

My view is that having planetary rulerships for everything is like the modern Aries = Mars = 1st house. It is collapsing the nuances of traditional astrology and losing the underlying structure.

Still, there is some support in traditional sources, the problem is which source do you choose and then what does it mean if Mars, for example, “rules” the first mansion? I can see that the designers of Solar Fire were confused because they insist on giving the location of all the planets in Mansions. We can therefore puzzle over the meaning or to my mind, the lack of meaning, of Saturn in the 5th Mansion.

And in a comment to someone else on that post, he said:

But why would a particular planet be stronger in a particular Mansion of the MOON? What does any planet, except the Moon, have to do with the Mansions? Other than “we always use the planets for everything” that is?

Like, we can consider the signs of the Zodiac and the mansions of the Moon to both be divisions of the ecliptic, sure, but if the signs of the Zodiac get assigned planetary rulerships, then why not the mansions of the Moon?  The difference lies in the conceptual backing of each: for the signs of the Zodiac, they are based on the Sun and Moon together (one solar year is an approximation of twelve synodic lunations, so we divide the ecliptic into twelve equal segments), and then we assign planetary rulerships to the signs based on their aspectual relationship to the Sun and Moon…

…but the 28 mansions of the Moon are a division based only on the daily average ecliptic motion of the Moon.  Moreover, the lunar mansions are meant exclusively for the Moon, and are used for other purposes than the 12 signs of the Zodiac are.  To give them planetary assignments or affiliations just isn’t something that’s really done, much less done commonly or in any standard approach, and as Warnock notes (and as I’ve seen myself), in the handful of texts that do attempt it—because why not, there are 28 = 7 × 4, so just give each planet four mansions—none of them seem to do it in the same way.  The other planets just don’t matter for the lunar mansions, not whether what planet is in whichever mansion, nor wherever the Moon is in any of the mansions; if we wanted to know the Moon’s strength or weakness according to other planets, that’s what the usual signs of the Zodiac are for, not the mansions.

Even if we ignore the planetary stuff, still, nothing about the rest of Plate VI or the angel/house/tile assignments makes sense.  And that’s the really frustrating bit, isn’t it?  It’s clear from everything else we’ve seen in ZT that this is a system that is built on extrapolating from principles, building up from smaller things into larger things; this system is not randomly thrown together, but is clearly something that was intentionally and explicitly designed.  And then we have this system of lunar mansions (disguised as “natal stars”, repurposed as quasi-Zodiac signs to determine someone’s ruling star/angel by seeing what mansion the Sun is in at the time they were born) which uses a system of angel associations which are mostly the same as those used in (damn near, or indeed actually) every other text but which uses some weird variation in it, and just…what?

It was even getting to the point that I was thinking that this might be a blind for something else—and I hate the notion of blinds in occult texts.

Here’s my take: yes, there are some occult and spiritual texts that do legitimately make use of blinds, i.e. ways to encrypt, encode, or otherwise obfuscate information with the use of keys or secrets that only a select subset of people would know, but throwing other people people not in the know off the trail.  It does happen, sure—but it happens so infrequently that anyone claiming that blinds are anything but rare don’t know much about the texts themselves, and are mislead by both romantic notions of secret chiefs encoding ancient wisdom in simple texts as well as the famousness of particular instances of blinds or keyword-translations that have entered the public imagination.  Across the vast majority of texts, when someone says X, it means X.  It is far, far more common to simply present a variation in technique than to present a difference with a wink and a nudge to mean something else—and it’s also even more common to just have typos in any given text.

Like, let’s be honest: unless you’re a legitimate spy (or spymaster) or professional cryptographer (like John Dee or Johannes Trithemius), you’re probably not gonna make a good blind or encryption worth your time, and you risk so much by putting out such a blinded text anyway.  Consider: if you put out a manual that proposes to teach stuff, and you deliberately put misleading information in with the intended goal that the manual should only be used by people worthy of possessing it, then you run into the ethical problem of giving people bad or incorrect processes that can cause severe issues, even irreparable harm.  If that’s the case, if such a book comes into the hands of someone exceptionally crafty who can manage to break such an encryption, then all your work just fell to naught and has entered the hands of someone you don’t know and don’t trust and didn’t want to have the information to begin with—which might be even worse than the previous situation, depending on the nature of such information.  If you want to keep information secure, then the best way to go about it is to just not publish it.  And let’s be honest: publication is expensive!  Between the sheer cost of the supplies and the process of setting type and printing text and binding it into pamphlets or books, to say nothing of making multiple copies thereof?  If you want to keep information limited, the best way is to just not commit it to paper—especially one that has to go through a publisher who can always make more such books on their own.

In that light, let’s consider the method and approach of ZT.  ZT claims to have this ancient teaching of wisdom, divination, and theurgy that allows people to rise and perfect themselves in harmony with celestial intelligences, and it says that the text it provides is a key—granted, it is only a key and not a full treatise that explains the whole system, but it is a key which it claims can unlock anything.  It then provides the most rudimentary basics of its systems and methods tells the reader to use them the rest of the way, and if the “Pure Spirit” guides them, they’ll figure the rest out on their own by using the information in ZT.  Beyond that, it fully expects that this information should be limited, which is why the book was limited to only 50 copies (it claims) and expects most people to disdain it and the author for it.  The approach of ZT here is so completely against the notion of using encryption or encoding or blinding at all: rather than trying to hide something, it just either doesn’t say it or it gives the basics of something and tells the reader to figure out the rest.

All of which is to explain my sheer frustration with this particular instance of assigning angels to the houses or tiles to the angels: everything else in this system just seems so elegant, well-put, and intentional, and then there’s this seemingly random thing, seemingly tacked-on in a later chapter with stuff that is never—not once—mentioned anywhere earlier in the text, and which doesn’t even seem necessary for the actual process of divination?  And then, in the Epilogue, the messages from the Redactor go on about how they only mentioned “the good angels, not betraying the evil ones”, and that how they “[at first] refrained from mentioning anything relating to the angels”?  And how ZT basically forces us to reinvent computus by, instead of just looking up in an ephemeris the Sun’s location along the ecliptic, making us do calendrical math to figure out under what natal star one is born under while also factoring in leap years?

This is the only part of the system of ZT that seems nonsensical, and the more I looked at it from any and every conceivable angle, the more nonsensical it became.  In that light, we have a few options:

  1. This part is really just arbitrary and made up with no real rhyme or reason.
  2. This part has some sort of pattern, but which is not clearly stated in the text and which may have as much noise as it does standardization.
  3. This part is based on some other source that ZT does not explicitly reference, which may itself have its own reasoning and method explainable in another way that isn’t dependent on or related to ZT.
  4. This part is a blind.

Option 1 (it’s arbitrary), while it can’t be ruled out, seems to fly so far into the face of ZT’s method and approach that it’s almost an insult.  Option 2 (it’s an incomplete pattern) is what I was trying to figure out, but not making heads or tails of it and being unable to reverse engineer it is itself a problem, so that’d lead to a dead end.  Option 3 (it’s based on some other system)…well, not knowing what other system that might be, it’s a possibility that would require further research.  Option 4 (it’s a blind)…like, I hate the idea, but this may well be a case of it.  Like, in my bitching about this and saying how tacked-on this whole bit feels to ZT, Nick Chapel from Hermeticulture (the lovable asshole who got me started on all of this) said:

It also sounds like the author wanted to include that supplemental material in the print run of 50, but needed to get it in to the publisher and so settled for an abbreviated explanation. It’s possible that the author might have chosen to blind the information because they knew they wouldn’t be able to lay out an adequately complete explanation in the time or space given, and wanted to ensure that anyone who was going to be using it understood the principles behind it. At least enough to see “hey, this doesn’t make sense” and have enough sense themselves not to use it until they figured it out.


…as both a puzzle designer and solver, you know that the puzzle wants to be solved. Even if it’s an intentional blind.

Like, it was this specific problem that got me to translate ZT from the original French version of it to begin with, to make absolutely sure that I wasn’t missing anything and that I could go through every section and line with a fine-tooth comb and make sure that there was nothing amiss.  And, while I definitely learned quite a bit more from FZT than I did KZT/OZT, I still found nothing in FZT that helped this particular situation.

But then, acting on a weird hunch, I did—and I’ll talk about that next time.  In the meantime, see if you can figure anything out about this particularly puzzling system, and if you can pick up on any interesting patterns or parallels with other texts, do say so in the comments!

Pole Lords and Northern Stars: The Names and Roles of the Planets, Pole Lords, and Fates of Heaven

We’ve been discussing lately this interesting thing from PGM XIII, the Eighth and Tenth Hidden Books of Moses, known as the Rulers of the Pole, a system of determining which planet rules over the celestial pole on any given day of the week, which is different from how we would consider planets to rule the days of the week.  At first, it didn’t seem like it was used much, but after seeing parallels in what we’re talking about throughout the rest of the PGM, we realized that we’re not just talking about the celestial pole, but the northern constellations of Ursa Minor and Ursa Maior, and specifically Polaris the North Star.  More than that, we also found out that there is an entirely separate but absolutely equivalent group of seven Pole Lords from the Mithras Liturgy of PGM IV.  With a little bit of innovation and star-mapping, we were able to link the seven Pole Lords and their paired Fates of Heaven to the seven stars of Ursa Minor and Ursa Maior, respectively, and each pair of such stars to each of the seven planets.  We’re really getting somewhere now, guys!

So, now we know how to attribute the seven bull-faced Pole Lords of Heaven to the stars of Ursa Minor and the seven snake-faced Fates of Heaven to the stars of Ursa Maior, and we know how to associate each to one of the seven planets.  This is all well and good, but what does it mean to approach them in this way?  Well, recall from the first post I made about this topic that we’ve got two systems of understanding an “order” to the planets: the weekday arrangement (Sun, Moon, Mars…Saturn) and the heavenly arrangement or the “Seven-Zoned” (Moon, Mercury, Venus…Saturn).  One of the things that I thought of was how PGM XIII might be treating each arrangement differently for different purposes, the weekday arrangement for a microcosmic or worldly purpose and the heavenly arrangement for macrocosmic or theurgic purposes.  This struck me as similar to the Earlier Heaven and Later Heaven sequences of the Ba Gua, where one sequence refers to a primordial state of archetypes, the other a manifested state of change and volatility.

Not to keep bringing up Taoist or Chinese practices like this, because we’re not talking about the same exact thing, but the notion of ascending through the individual stars of Ursa Maior or Ursa Minor in a theurgic process of elevation and henosis brings to mind the Steps of Yu dance of Taoist practices.  In this practice. priests and shamans ritually “dance” in the pattern of the stars of the Big Dipper to “step through” each star and obtain the power of the entire constellation, which is hugely revered in traditional Chinese religion.  Going back to the PGM, perhaps the closest parallel we’d find to a sort of “Steps of Yu” would be the Calling of the Sevenths from the Heptagram Ritual, PGM XIII.734—1077 specifically lines 824ff:

The instruction: speaking to the rising sun, stretching out your right to the left and your left hand likewise to the left, say Α.  To the north, putting forward only your right fist, say Ε.  Then to the west, extending both hands in front [of you], say Η.  To the south, [holding] both [hands] on your stomach, say Ι.  To the earth, bending over, touching the ends of your toes, say Ο.  Looking into the air, having your hand on your heart, say Υ.  Looking into the sky, having both hands on your head, say Ω.

[Then invoke:] “I call on you, eternal and unbegotten, who are one, who alone hold together the whole creation of all things, whom none understand, whom the gods worship, whose name not even the gods can utter.  Inspire from your breath, ruler of the pole, him who is under you; accomplish for me the NN. thing.  I call on you as by the voice of the male gods…”

The text gives a crude diagram that tries to illustrate the general layout of the vowels, which I’ve included from Betz along with my own rendition, and with Stephen Flower’s diagram from Hermetic Magic: The Postmodern Magical Papyrus of Abaris (1995):

Consider what we’re doing here: we’re first facing the four directions in a square, then going from down to up.  We can think of this as standing in the middle of the “ladle” of Ursa Minor as Little Dipper to face the four stars at the corners of the most distant part of Ursa Minor, finishing with the Sun; the three stars on the “handle” of the Little Dipper reflect the vertical ascension represented by Mars and culminating with Saturn, appropriately looking directly up into the sky.  The use of the counterclockwise motion (facing east, north, south, and west for the first four planets) is odd, as usually we’d be accustomed to doing things clockwise; this would also be expected if we look at the stars of Ursa Minor, where going from Kochab to Pherkad etc. is also done in a clockwise way.  But, that’s from our point of view “down here”; if we were to consider the perspective of Aiōn who is above the stars, then looking down from that super-celestial perspective, it’d be from a counterclockwise perspective.  Plus, there’s also the notion that while the stars appear to revolve around the Earth in a clockwise motion, the planets themselves pass through the skies in a counterclockwise motion (which is why the Zodiac is always drawn in that way).  What we’re doing, then, is starting out with the assumption that we’re already celestial, and acting in this world accordingly; it’s the same logic as to why we’d use the macrocosmic Seven-Zoned heavenly-arrangement order of the planets to determine the Pole Lord of the day instead of the microcosmic weekday-arrangement order of the planets.

Backing me up, however, Leonardo of Voces Magicae wrote this excellent post some years ago on the nature of counterclockwise motion in the PGM, indeed referencing this very same ritual and the very same things as the celestial pole and why counterclockwise motion mimics the actual motion of things in the skies from a heavenly perspective, backing it up with evidence from the Corpus Hermeticum itself:

In the spatial-spiritual landscape of the Hermetic magicians,  the celestial pole would be seen as nothing less than a direct portal to celestial divinity. As such,  it is fitting that in the Heptagram Opening Rite – a ritual concerned with orientation – the polar divinity is invoked directly…

Perhaps, this was the intent of countermovement in the ritual practices of the PGM. Not necessarily a specific manifestation of a single countermovement cycle, the universe is resplendent with such examples; but rather orienting the practitioner towards the equilibrium and unity of the celestial pole as a source of stability and power by which to approach the deeper mysteries of our cosmos.

Admittedly, this is a bit of a stretch; it’s one thing to understand this tiny Heptagram rite, this dinky Calling of the Sevenths that so many who are familiar with PGM-style magic are aware of, as a planetary attunement ritual to balance and fix planetary powers within ourselves.  It’s something else entirely to say that it’s an act of theurgic elevation unto itself by imitating the arrangement of the stars of Ursa Minor.  That said, it’s the performance of the Calling of the Sevenths immediately before an invocation of Aiōn, where we call on Aiōn as the gods, as the goddesses, as the winds, as the four directions and as the Earth, Sky, and Cosmos itself that makes me think that we’re essentially “stepping” our way through the seven heavens, gaining the power of the seven Pole Lords all at once so that we can finally approach and address Aiōn as the true Ruler of the Pole above the Pole Lords themselves.

This can further help out what we’re doing towards the end of that same invocation, where we see an interesting thing:

I call on your name, the greatest among gods!  If I say it complete, the earth will quake, the sun will stop, the moon will be afraid, the rocks and the mountains and the sea and the rivers and every liquid will be petrified, the whole cosmos will be thrown into confusion!  I call on you, ΙΥΕΥΟ ΩΑΕΗ ΙΑΩ ΑΕΗ ΑΙ ΕΗ ΑΗ ΙΟΥΩ ΕΥΗ ΙΕΟΥ ΑΗΩ ΗΙ ΩΗΙ ΙΑΗ ΙΩΟΥΗ ΑΥΗ ΥΗΑ ΙΩ ΙΩΑΙ ΙΩΑΙ ΩΗ ΕΕ ΟΥ ΙΩ ΙΑΩ, the Great Name!


There’s a fun little note in the text, that ΧΕΧΑΜΨΙΜΜ ΧΑΓΓΑΛΑΣ ΕΗΙΟΥ ΙΗΕΑ ΩΟΗΟΕ ΖΩΙΩΙΗΡ ΩΜΥΡΥΡΟΜΡΟΜΟΣ are “seven of the auspicious ones”, probably names, and I’ve hypothesized before that these names relate to the seven “images” given immediately before, which can also be given to the seven planets themselves:

Direction Vowel Planet Image Name
East Α Moon Lynx ΧΕΧΑΜΨΙΜΜ
North Ε Mercury Eagle ΧΑΓΓΑΛΑΣ
West Η Venus Snake ΕΗΙΟΥ
South Ι Sun Phoenix ΙΗΕΑ
Down Ο Mars Life ΩΟΗΟΕ
Center Υ Jupiter Power ΖΩΙΩΙΗΡ
Up Ω Saturn Necessity ΩΜΥΡΥΡΟΜΡΟΜΟΣ

There’s no explanation, whether in the text itself or in footnotes by Betz, as to the origin of these names or images, and I’m associating them to the planets because it does seem appropriate to the context.  How might we reconcile these names and images?  Though I’ve already made an attempt to explain this before, now that I’m thinking about stars, there are four constellations that would match these images verbatim: Lynx, Aquila, Serpens, and Phoenix.  Of these four, Serpens and Aquila kinda match with their corresponding directions, though Lynx is way too far in the south, and Phoenix is way too far in the southern hemisphere to likely have been used as a constellation; Phoenix, after all, doesn’t show up in Ptolemy’s list of constellations, and its first official documentation in the West comes from the early 1600s.  There could be an association with a specific fixed star, but I’m unsure.

However, traditional accounts of the Phoenix also describe it as eagle-like, but neither eagles nor phoenixes played a role in Egyptian mythology.  If we broaden the semantic notion of “eagle” to mean raptor or predatory birds, then we’d also include hawks and falcons, which would lead us sensibly to the solar gods Horus and Ra.  Horus could reasonably be considered more northern in concept, as one of Horus’ forms is Harpocrates, which I associate with the north according to a variety of PGM selections and which is also generally considered to be the Sun’s renewing strength at the winter solstice.  Ra, being Ra, could be considered the more purely solar, and thus southern, of the pair, and has associations with the Bennu, a type of supernatural heron which was likely the inspiration for the original Phoenix myth in Hellenic cultures, and which was connected to Ra.  So…maybe this is less of a solar thing and more of a mythological one.  If we keep going down that road, then there’s also a mythological connection between the Lynx and the Snake in Egyptian belief: Mafdet, the goddess of the execution of judgment and protector against snakes, was sometimes depicted as a lynx, and the lynx fought existential evil embodied by Apophis, the eternal serpent.

Then we have the issue of the images of Life, Power, and Necessity, which seem more Neoplatonic or even gnostic and less Egyptian in essence to me.  I’m not going to explain those here, but I leave it for consideration how Life could be naturally associated with the Earth and those that live upon it, Power with the power of the gods who live in the sky—which is the association given to the “direction” of Jupiter—and Necessity (i.e. Anankē or Adrasteia) with the primordial, hypercosmic forces that determine the fate and role of all that exists below which is fitting for Saturn, the cosmos, and the notions of Pole Lords and the Ruler of the Pole from above.  A simplistic association, but at least it makes sense in a straightforward manner.

So, let’s assess what we have at this point.  We have:

  • Seven snake-faced virgins, associated with the stars of Ursa Maior, the “seven Fates of Heaven” who “wield golden wands” (PGM IV.662—674)
  • Seven bull-faced youths, associated with the stars of Ursa Minor, the “seven Pole Lords of Heaven” who “are in possession of seven golden diadems” (PGM IV.674—692)
  • Seven “images of God” (PGM XIII.880—887)

Each member of each of these groups of seven can be associated with the same order of planets:

Order Planet Fate
of Heaven
Pole Lord
of Heaven
Image of
3 Venus ΜΕΗΡΑΝ

Great, okay.  Knowing that the associations of these names (and their corresponding images) are based on highly circumstantial evidence from both PGM IV and PGM XIII as well as other Mithraic and astrological/astronomical connections, let’s talk about what we might be able to ply these names and associations for.  First, let’s summarize some of our findings:

  • Roger Beck (“Interpreting the Ponza Zodiac: II”, Journal of Mithraic Studies, vol. 2, no. 2) says that the Fates of Heaven and the Pole Lords of Heaven are associated with not only moving and controlling the actions and motions of the cosmos, but are also associated with Fate, punishment, and reward.  Moreover, given their role as the stars of the Bear constellations, they are not just symbols of such power and control, but they are agents of it.  Because they have exactly parallel structures, they may also be considered to be seven pairs of deities, one snake-faced virgin and one bull-faced youth, each pair related to one of the seven planets.
  • As indicated from all those Bear charms from before, and based on some of the invocations of PGM XIII, the Pole Lords are not the highest power in the cosmos; they may rule the Pole, and their rulership of the Pole amongst themselves changes from day to day, but they rule the Pole in the name of and under the supervision of a true Ruler of the Pole, which is Aiōn, and in a more properly Mithraic context, Mithras himself, the god of revelation in the Mithras Liturgy.
  • There’s a subtle distinction being implied in PGM XIII that there are planetary rulers and then there are planetary Lords: the ruler of the day “in the Greek reckoning” is not the true Lord, which follows a different method of reckoning.  This recalls the notion of the Greek versus Phoenician method of navigating according to the northern stars: the Greeks originally used Ursa Maior as a general indicator of north, but this gave them varying and vague and wandering results.  The Phoenicians, however, used Ursa Minor and Polaris, which doesn’t wander or vary as much, and so obtained a truer and more steady path north.  What we’re arriving at is an understanding that one can approach the planets “down here” in a microcosmic way or “up there” in a macrocosmic way that is more true and real than the microcosmic.
  • By approaching the macrocosmic (or even hypercosmic) planetary Pole Lords “up there” through imitating their motions and calls upon the true highest, hypercosmiciest Divinity, we can break past the “images” and into a truly higher state of being in communion with the highest divinity, Aiōn, who has power over all fate and happenings.  This is done not through the usual planetary motions, but through the planetary harmonies and rulership of the celestial pole and the stars found there, Ursa Minor.
  • By identifying with the Sun, we start off as “a star wandering about with you and shining forth out of the deep” (PGM IV.574ff), but eventually we come to identify with Aiōn itself in a process not unlike that of the magician in the Headless Rite, where one begins addressing Akephalos but eventually becomes Akephalos.  By becoming the only one who can say the full name of Aiōn, a name “not even the gods can utter”, one takes on the full power of Aiōn, which can only be done through working through, assimilating, and being accepted by the various Pole Lords to become the true Ruler of the Pole.

Not too shabby a result, I suppose.

Now, I’m not in a position to carry out the entire Mithras Liturgy from PGM IV or the entirety of the Eighth and Tenth Hidden Books of Moses from PGM XIII; those are endeavors I’m not willing to commit myself to at the present time.  However, we’ve wheedled enough information out of them to apply some of the cosmological bits from them more generally in PGM-style practice.  Here’s what I would suggest based on my current understanding:

  • The names and images of God from PGM XIII can be used as microcosmic presences of seven planets; thus, an “esoteric” name for the Moon can be KHEKHAMPSIMM, which may be used in PGM rituals to refer to the Moon instead of just saying “the Moon” or Selēnē.
  • The Fates of Heaven from PGM IV are the macrocosmic presences of the seven planets, subservient to the Pole Lords but which are higher than the names and images of the microcosmic planets.  It is these stellar entities that determine what is permissible in the world we live in, and wield authority (their “golden wands”) over the world.  They determine order and structure of things.
  • The Pole Lords of Heaven from PGM IV are the hypercosmic presences of the seven planets, subservient only to Aiōn.  These entities permit powers and ideas to pass in and out of the world under them which they rule (their “golden diadems”) but whose orders the Fates execute in their name.

In other words, it is through the seven Pole Lords that blessings, curses, creations, and destructions are ordered in the world we live in.  Once they give the order, the corresponding Fate executes the will of her Pole Lord through the work of the seven images of God, not just the one specifically granted to the same ruling planet of that Fate and Pole Lord.  Even then, amongst all the planets, it is still the Moon that is most important; knowing that its image is the Lynx, associated with the divinity Madfet, it is the Moon that truly opens up the light and presence of all the Pole Lords and Fates of Heaven, because it is the Moon that is closest to the heart and presence of the constellations of the Pole.  We must always start with the Moon, and through the Moon honor the entirety of the Pole Stars; through the passage of and through the Moon, we can ascend through the other planetary heavens and achieve the blessing and acceptance of the other Fates and Pole Lords of Heaven until we reach the final pair, the last stars of Alkaid and Polaris.  Once we reach them, we have finished our approach to the Pole and then may surmount it, leaving behind this world under their power and entering into the presence and power of Aiōn.

I’m tempted to draw a parallel between the later notions of planets having spirits and intelligences, or to how all the different spirits of the planets in the Picatrix may be thought to have particular roles in the governance and execution of the powers and presence of a planet.  However, that’s not quite the same feeling I get from the Pole Lords and Fates of Heaven.  I’m content with considering the names and images of God from PGM XIII to be esoteric associations of the planets, and I look forward to applying them in rituals that call on them (e.g. “o blessed light of Selēnē shining forth from the East, you who are KHEKHAMPSIMM…”), but it’s calling upon the Pole Lords and Fates that I want to figure out.  Honoring the Pole Lord of the day makes sense, sure, but it also makes sense to honor the Pole Lord with its corresponding Fate, almost as a supercelestial King and Queen, or divinity with its consort.  It makes for a beautiful theurgic mystery, at any rate, and I’d like to take that into meditation and consideration in future works.

I suppose it can make sense to call on the Pole Lord and Fate as PGM-style “planetary intelligences” to guide and direct the powers of the planets “down here”, much as we’d call on Michael and Nakhiel to guide the activities of Sorath, but something about that nags at me.  Still, it’s probably not a bad idea to do just that, especially if what we’re trying to do is plug into a true source of Divinity and bring down immortal power from the immortal heavens.  If nothing else, we’ve figured out a little more about the Pole Lords and the Seven-Zoned of PGM XIII, and now I’m content.

Time to share my findings back on that Facebook post in the PGM group and see if it can’t start more conversation.

Pole Lords and Northern Stars: The Seven Pairs of Divinities from the Mithras Liturgy

Okay, let’s continue.  In the last post, we introduced a funny thing from PGM XIII, the Eighth and Tenth Hidden Books of Moses that I’ve brought up before on this blog now and again.  This thing is the notion of Rulers of the Pole, a type of planetary rulership of a given day that doesn’t follow the normal weekday rulership we’re accustomed to.  There’s not a lot in PGM XIII that describes their use, but similar language is present throughout the PGM when we talk about things involving the Bear-related spells, i.e. the rituals and incantations associated with the northern constellations of Ursa Maior and Ursa Minor, which generally have lunar or Artemisian-type qualities.

This is all well and good, but it’s not really helping us with the whole Pole Ruler thing except giving us interesting detours, especially with the whole serpent thing; serpents are mentioned already in the doxology and cosmogony in the PGM XIII texts and don’t have a relationship to what we’re investigating here.  However, while I was looking through the PGM for other references to serpents and dragons, of course I’d also stumble upon the Mithras Liturgy, PGM IV.475—829.  There’s one particular section in it that definitely caught my eye, lines 264ff:

There also come forth another seven gods, who have the faces of black bulls, in linen loincloths, and in possession of seven golden diadems.  They are the so-called Pole Lords of Heaven, whom you must greet in the same manner, each of them with his own name:

“Hail, of guardiants of the Pivot, o sacred and brave youths, who turn at one command the revolving axis of the Vault of Heaven, who send out thunder and lightning and jolts of earthquakes and thunderbolts against the nations of impious people, but to me, who am pious and god-fearing, you send health and soundness of body and acuteness of hearing and seeing, and calmness in the present good hours of this day, o my lords and powerfully ruling gods!
Hail to you, the first, ΑΙΕΡΩΝΘΙ!
Hail to you, the second, ΜΕΡΧΕΙΜΕΡΟΣ!
Hail to you, the third, ΑΧΡΙΧΙΟΥΡ!
Hail to you, the fourth, ΜΕΣΑΡΓΙΛΤΩ!
Hail to you, the fifth, ΧΙΧΡΩΑΛΙΘΩ!
Hail to you, the sixth, ΕΡΜΙΧΘΑΘΩΨ!
Hail to you, the seventh, ΕΟΡΑΣΙΧΗ!”

Now when they take their place, here and there, in order, look in the air and you will see lightning bolts going down, and lights flashing, and the Earth shaking, and a god descending, a god immensely great, having a bright appearance, youthful, golden-haired, with a white tunic and a golden crown and trousers, and holding in his right hand a golden shoulder of a young bull: this is the Bear which moves and turns heaven around, moving upward and downward in accordance with the hour.  Then you will see lightning bolts leaping from his eyes and stars from his body.

Seven bull-faced youths.  Seven bulls, septem tritones.  We’re getting somewhere, and getting somewhere good!  Interestingly, Betz has a footnote that says: “in the Mithras mysteries, the seven grades of initiates were each under the tutelage of a planetary deity”, and refers to a chapter in Albrect Dieterich’s Mithrasliturgie (1910).  The relevant portion of that text where Dieterich describes these seven youths is as follows (in a crappy translation from the German into English):

Das wahrscheinlichste ist mir, daß bei Einführung der sieben Jünglinge mit Stierköpfen die Repräsentanten der sieben Sterne des großen oder des kleinen Bären mitgewirkt haben; denn die Ägypter dachten sich jedenfalls den großen Bären als Stier oder als Teil eines Stieres. Darüber habe ich gleich weiter zu handeln; wenn Mithras selbst, wie wir sehen werden, mit seiner Hand die Stierschulter, d. i. das Bärengestirn lenkt, so ist es sicher, daß die sieben stierköpfigen Gestalten, die die Achse des Himmels drehen, die sieben Sterne des kleinen Bären sind. Wie es zusammenhängt, daß für unsere Kenntnis gerade der große Bär als Stier oder Stierschenkel oder Schulterblatt eines Stieres gedacht war, kann ich nicht mehr erkennen… Sicher ist auf jeden Fall, daß die Πολοκράτορες die sieben Sterne des kleinen Bären sind.

The most probable thing is that when the seven youngsters with bull heads are introduced, the representatives of the seven stars of Ursa Maior or Ursa Minor are involved; because the Egyptians thought in any case Ursa Maior as a bull or as part of a bull. I have to act on it immediately; if Mithras himself, as we shall see, with his hand the bull’s shoulder, i.e. the Bear Star steers, so it is certain that the seven bull-headed figures, which turn the axis of the sky, are the seven stars of Ursa Minor.  As it is related, that for our knowledge just Ursa Maior was intended as a bull, thigh of a bull, or shoulder blade of a bull, I can no longer recognize… In any case, it is certain that the Polokratores are the seven stars of Ursa minor.

Now we’re getting somewhere, indeed!  Though precious little is known of the ancient Mithras cult, and though the Mithras Liturgy doesn’t really have an official connection with the Mithras cult, it’s folly to deny a connection between the two.  Manfred Clauss describes in The Roman Cult of Mithras: The God and His Mysteries (2001) the seven grades and their most likely planetary associations, from what is likely the lowest rank to highest:

  1. Corax (Raven): Mercury
  2. Nymphus (Bridegroom): Venus
  3. Miles (Soldier): Mars
  4. Leo (Lion): Jupiter
  5. Perses (Persian): Moon
  6. Heliodromus (Sun-runner): Sun
  7. Pater (Father): Saturn

These can be seen and guessed at by the floor mosaic of the Mithraeum of Felicissimus in Ostia, where each grade is symbolically described through its attributes on the way to the focal devotional point of the temple: the Raven with the caduceus of Mercury, the Bridegroom with the circlet of Venus, the Soldier with the weapons of Mars, the Lion with the wreath and sistrum of the King and Queen of the Gods, the Persian with the Crescent and crescent sickle of the Moon, the Sun-runner with the torch and sun-crown and chariot-whip, and the Father with the shepherd’s staff, robes, and other implements of the leader of the cult.  It’s certainly compelling.

However, despite this floorplan of a sacred initiate-only space, it’s unclear whether the order given above really is the order to be considered official, especially given its apparent strangeness; there’s no way to draw a heptagram, for instance between these planets in this order that can get us anything we’ve seen before unless we were to swap a few things around.  That feels like bending things way too much for my comfort level, so let’s just set this initiation order aside.  What’s important is that we have a definite connection between the seven planets and the seven stars of Ursa Minor, each of which can be seen to be representative of one of the planets in an elevated state, each of which rules over the axial pole of rotation of the Earth itself from day to day.  Betz refers to the scholar Roger Beck on a particular zodiacal depiction at the Mithraeum at Ponza (first paper here, second paper here) which also give interesting insight on the role of Ursa Minor (and Ursa Maior) and the pole stars generally.  To summarize Beck’s findings and theories, it really does seem like the depiction of the stars of Ursa Minor really are about an “upwards and inwards” motion of theurgy, as “we pass from the planetary world of the zodiac to the realm of the Sun…and finally to the supreme god at the polar centre”, and that “in both it is a journey of refinement to orders of a higher spirituality”.  If we were looking for a reason to work with the Ruler of the Pole, this is a strong confirmation that our hunch earlier about the parallel with the Earlier Heaven/Later Heaven Sequence of the Ba Gua was on the right track.

At this point, it’s tempting to make that one final leap: linking the seven stars of Ursa Minor to the seven planets, giving the Pole Lords of PGM XIII the names of the seven bull-headed youths from PGM IV.  We’re so close, but we’re missing a definite connection of which youth (and name) is supposed to go with which planet.  Do we use Clauss’ hypothetical ranking of grades, from Mercury to Saturn?  Or do we use the heavenly order of the planets from the lowest heaven of the Moon to the highest heaven of Saturn?  Personally, I’m inclined to use the heavenly order, such that the name of the Moon when she is the Pole Lord is the name of the first bull-headed youth AIERŌNTHI, the name of Mercury as Pole Lord is MERKHEIMEROS, and so forth, but…something about this seems hollow, and I don’t get a confirmation gut-feeling like I normally (recklessly, haphazardly) do.  I’m not willing to bet on it, though I love the simplicity and convenience; something seems missing, even if it’s just confirmation.

If we know that the Pole Lords are the seven stars of Ursa Minor—and we do—is there another way we can consider an “order” to them?  There are two options I can think of: one going by distance out from the end of Ursa Minor and going inwards with the most polar of the stars at the end, or going by brightness by starting from the dimmest and going to the brightest of them.  If we go by distance along the constellation, we get:

  1. β Ursae Minoris, Kochab
  2. γ Ursae Minoris, Pherkad
  3. η Ursae Minoris, Alasco
  4. ζ Ursae Minoris, Ahfa al Farkadain
  5. ε Ursae Minoris
  6. δ Ursae Minoris, Yildun
  7. α Ursae Minoris, Polaris

If, instead, we were to go by the brightness of the stars:

  1. η Ursae Minoris, Alasco
  2. ζ Ursae Minoris, Ahfa al Farkadain
  3. ε Ursae Minoris
  4. δ Ursae Minoris, Yildun
  5. γ Ursae Minoris, Pherkad
  6. β Ursae Minoris, Kochab
  7. α Ursae Minoris, Polaris

Personally, I’m most inclined to think that Polaris itself is given to the quality of Saturn; note how Saturn is the ultimate grade in the Mithraic Mysteries given above, and Saturn is also the only planet that rules both the pole and the day on the same given weekday, as well as it being the highest and most distant of the planetary heavens.  Giving Polaris the final position of honor, I would be comfortable giving it the name of the seventh bull-faced youth, EORASIKHĒ.  That just leaves the remaining six.   It doesn’t seem like we can use traditional stare-lore here; there’s not much in the way about the planetary natures of this set of fixed stars, and many such fixed stars share in multiple planetary similarities.  It’s good to know that Ptolemy gives bright stars to Saturn with a hint of Venus mixed in (especially for Polaris), but that’s about it.

I’m reminded that Kochab and Pherkad are considered even by ancient Egyptians as “guardians of the pole star”, which makes sense as they’re the next two brightest stars in the constellation of Ursa Minor, but they also stand furthest away on the “dipper” part of the Little Dipper while Polaris stands at the tip of the handle.  I’m tempted to give these to the Sun and the Moon, respectively, as representative of their corresponding brightness in the planets; this would also mean that the corresponding planetary Greek vowels for the three brightest stars would be the same three vowels in that almighty name of divinity, ΙΑΩ.  That would mean Kochab gets the Sun, and Pherkad gets the Moon.  These two planets given to these two stars with Polaris given to Saturn collectively set up a pattern where we use the distance-along-the-constellation-lines method along with the weekday ordering of the planets, which gets us the following order and correspondence of names, such that Kochab gets the Sun, Pherkad the Moon, Alasco Mars, and so forth.

Heck, why stop there?  Just before the Mithras Liturgy introduces the seven bull-faced youths, it also introduces seven serpent-faced (!) virgin ladies:

After saying this, you will see the doors thrown open, and seven virgins coming from deep within, dressed in linen garments, and with the face of asps.  They are called the Fates of Heaven, and wield golden wands.  When you see them, greet them in this manner:

“Hail, o seven Fates of Heaven, o noble and good virgins, o sacred ones and companions of ΜΙΝΙΜΙΡΡΟΦΟΡ, o most holy Guardians of the four pillars!
Hail to you, the first, ΧΡΕΨΕΝΘΑΗΣ!
Hail to you, the second, ΜΕΝΕΣΧΕΗΣ!
Hail to you, the third, ΜΕΗΡΑΝ!
Hail to you, the fourth, ΑΡΑΜΑΧΗΣ!
Hail to you, the fifth, ΕΧΟΜΜΙΗ!
Hail to you, the sixth, ΤΙΧΝΟΝΔΑΗΣ!
Hail to you, the seventh, ΕΡΟΥ ΡΟΜΒΡΙΗΣ!”

With this, we have seven snake-headed women and seven bull-headed men.  The men represent the stars of Ursa Minor, and the women represent the stars of Ursa Maior.  We can use the same system, starting at the end of the cup of the Dipper and headed towards the tip of the handle, to associate planets and names to the stars of Ursa Maior.

However, there’s one thing that bugs me about this method being used for this: the name of the fourth lady of Fate, ΑΡΑΡΜΑΧΗΣ or ARARMAKHĒS, which Betz clarifies as being a likely corruption of Harmachis, or Horemakhet, “Horus on the horizon”.  Horus, as we all know, is one of the solar gods of the Egyptian pantheon, and Harmachis specifically represented the dawn and early morning sun.  If we give ARARMAKHĒS to the fourth planet in the weekday system, we’d give it to Mercury, but if we give it to the fourth planet in the heavenly arrangement, we’d give it to the Sun.  So, which do we follow?  Do we keep the same system we built up from before that leads us to the weekday order of the planets, or do we go with a possible etymological connection that can’t be verified to fall in line with the heavenly order?  Given the parallel nature of the snake-headed women of Ursa Maior and the bull-headed men of Ursa Minor and how they mirror each other (“now when they take their place, here [for the women] and there [for the men], in order”), they probably ought to use the same ordering system.  To be honest, the use of the name ARARMAKHĒS is a clue that tilts the system now in favor of the heavenly arrangement of planets, i.e. the “Seven-Zoned”.  This means that we’d give the following stars of Ursa Maior the planets and names of the seven snake-headed women as:

Number Star Planet Mithraic Name
1 α Ursae Maioris
2 β Ursae Maioris
3 γ Ursae Maioris
4 δ Ursae Maioris
5 ε Ursae Maioris
6 ζ Ursae Maioris
7 η Ursae Maioris

Further, because we’d want to use the same system for both the stars of Ursa Maior and of Ursa Maior, that means we’d scrap our weekday order of the planets as discussed above and use the heavenly arrangement of the stars, starting with Kochab as the Moon and Pherkad as Mercury to end with Polaris as Saturn.  This has the nice, pleasing benefit of being that oh-so-special Seven-Zoned arrangement PGM XIII loves so much, but also has a nice geometric arrangement: the closer you get to the pole along the constellated “path” of Ursa Minor from star to star, the higher the heaven you access according to its corresponding planet.

Number Star Planet Mithraic Name
1 β Ursae Minoris
2 γ Ursae Minoris
3 η Ursae Minoris
4 ζ Ursae Minoris
Ahfa al Farkadain
5 ε Ursae Minoris Mars ΧΙΧΡΩΑΛΙΘΩ
6 δ Ursae Minoris
7 α Ursae Minoris

I guess the association of the seven bull-faced youths in order to the seven planets according to the heavenly arrangement would work out well enough in the end, but it was good to actually use the map of the stars of Ursa Minor themselves to make a stronger argument for why that should be so.  I still like the idea of Kochab and Pherkad going to the Sun and the Moon, but on the whole, this system works nicer and cleaner, especially with the connections to the seven snake-faced virgins.  Plus, with the second brightest star being given to the Moon in this scheme, this gives a pleasant balance and return to how important the Moon is when talking about the northern, artic, Bear stars: the Moon represents the initial approach towards sensible divinity, and Saturn the final escape to intelligible Divinity.

This is making huge progress, but we’re not done yet.  Stay tuned, and we’ll talk more about how we might understand the nature, form, and function of these entities, especially when we pair it back to certain things back in PGM XIII.