The planets

Planets express the seven rays

Each planet is associated with one of the seven rays, with the meanings of some (e.g. Venus, Saturn) being subtly shifted in esoteric astrology. Two of the seven rays—the 5th and 7th—are expressed by a single planet, while the second planet for two others—the 2nd and the 4th—is represented by the Sun and Moon ‘veiling’ one of three possible planets according to context, each representing their own rays—Vulcan, Neptune or Uranus.

‘Sacred’ and ‘non-sacred’ planets

Sacred/developed planets (Rays 1-7)
Non-sacred/developing planets

Esoteric astrology sees planets very much as living beings with their own development process. Excepting the Sun and Moon (which veil other planets) the sacred planets are affect our own inner evolution and integration, while the primary effect of the non-sacred planets concerns the adjustment of our personality to this inner evolution. This unfortunately-worded distinction (we could call them developed and developing planets) is between those seen occultly as ‘integrated’, having aligned their planetary inner processes (or ‘soul’) with their material existence; and those yet to build that connection (e.g. Earth, where human life is most definitely not always aligned with the interests of the planet). We can only guess at the effects of integration on the material planetary systems of other planets, although in esoteric astrology this implies the subtler inner being of a planetary body.

In the esoteric horoscope, sacred planets are held to aid the parallel process of personal and collective human integration, while non-sacred planets concern life in the ‘three worlds of human endeavour’ i.e. mind, emotions and material life:

…distinguish between the effects of the sacred planets and the non-sacred… the sacred planets endeavour to fuse the personality and make it the instrument of the soul and the non-sacred planets influence more specifically the form nature; much light on the pull between the pairs of opposites may then pour in. (EA 510)

During interpretation for the above mentioned “pull of the opposites” the method would be to examine the contrast between the pairs of planets under one ray (in this case ignoring the Sun and Moon) specifically: Vulcan-Pluto (Ray 1), Saturn-Earth (Ray 3), Neptune-Mars (Ray 6); by both placement and rulership. The will, material circumstances (karma), and emotional life are suggested by these three rays, which each have a pair of sacred and non-sacred planets.

Ray Ray triangle Prime planet Second planet
1st ray—Primal energy Aries-Leo-Capricorn Vulcan Pluto
2nd ray—Love, wisdom Gemini-Virgo-Pisces Jupiter (The Sun)
3rd ray—Active intelligence Cancer-Libra-Capricorn Saturn Earth
4th ray—Mediation Taurus-Scorpio-Sagittarius Mercury (The Moon)
5th ray—Science, proportion Leo-Sagittarius-Aquarius Venus -
6th ray—Idealism Virgo-Sagittarius-Pisces Neptune Mars
7th ray—Structure, pattern Aries-Cancer-Capricorn Uranus -

Vulcan and Earth as planets

Introducing these two planets—one legendary, the other on which we live—is one of the more challenging innovations of esoteric astrology.

Earth as an astrological planet
In this case, the normal geocentric chart borrows the Earth’s position from heliocentric astrology (i.e. as if we were living on the Sun), which places Earth always in opposition to the Sun. However, it is not so much the position of Earth that is important but the symbology behind Earth’s esoteric and hierarchical rulerships: Sagittarius and Gemini, both Mutable signs concerned with lived material experience.
Vulcan in esoteric astrology
it is extremely unlikely that a significant undiscovered physical planet exists between Mercury and the Sun, although smaller ‘Vulcanoid’ bodies may exist, composed of material from the very early solar system. Some esoteric astrologers argue that Vulcan exists only on etheric levels, but—once again—the importance of Vulcan is symbolic, and emerges once its association with certain areas of esoteric astrology become clear. The only ephemeris for Vulcan is based on unconfirmed, brief sightings of a disc passing across the Sun.

Aspects between planets

Apects are not mentioned directly in Alice Bailey’s book, although it is possible to extrapolate a system based on the three main geometrical groups and esoteric number symbolism, a process that greatly simplifies the many possible aspects into simpler esoteric groupings related to the rays and crosses. This is explained in detail in the aspects section, along with guidance on how to integrate aspects with esoteric astrology.