Planets: Vulcan—ray 1 (sacred)

Ray 1 triangle

Z Ray 1 (sacred planet)

Method: The forging and construction of new forms from raw materials.

Rulerships: Orthodox: none Esoteric: Taurus Hierarchical: Taurus
Dignities: (veiled: Moon/Sun) Exaltation: Aries Taurus Fall: Libra Scorpio Pisces Detriment: Capricorn Aquarius
Paired planet (Ray 1): Pluto
Symbol: Z A semicircle surmounted by an upward-pointing arrow.
Vulcan triangles:

Vulcan: general information

Vulcan is not a recognised astronomical planet, and although “vulcanoids” in stable intra-Mercurial orbits are a hypothesis (and there is Icarus, an asteroid with an eccentric 1.12 year orbit that passes between the Sun and Mercury, and beyond Mars) the “Vulcan” spotted at various points around 1850 and used as an incorrect reason for the slight irregularity in the orbit of Mercury (now explained by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, plus the cumulative effect of gravitational fields from other planets) has not reappeared, nor did it provide enough data for a reliable ephemeris although, as a planet supposedly never more than 7° from the Sun, this is how it is used, for instance, in the astrological software Solar Fire. We can take the Vulcan ephemeris literally and consider it as a physical planet obscured from discovery, and/or view it as either an etheric or symbolic planet.

As an etheric planet that exists at finer wavelengths than the material world and our current instruments, it is unlikely to be discovered. However, as a planet with a definite presence and symbolic meaning in esoteric astrology, there are clear guidelines in Alice Bailey’s work that provide interpretation in the esoteric horoscope. (see David Walters, Vulcan: An Etheric or Physical Planet? on the Esoteric Astrologer website, and The Icarus Myth on AstroFix).

As an aside, there is a cryptic reference to “Vulcan and Neptune in opposition”, hardly meant literally in an astrological sense but, as above so below, Neptune opposing Sun (with Vulcan) would symbolise a more personal version:

The Law of Sacrifice and Death is ‘in a mysterious way’ the reversal of the first law, that of Vibration. It is Vulcan and Neptune in opposition which is as yet an almost incomprehensible thing to us. (C.F. 597 in Esoteric Astrology, 666)

The roles of the two Ray 1 planets Vulcan and Pluto echo the above in their rulerships of Taurus and Pisces in the “Transmutation of desire into sacrifice and… individual will into… [spiritual] will. The World Saviour” (EA 67)

Vulcan veiled by the Moon

The idea behind this is that the Moon is a remnant from a previous phase in cosmic evolution:

…before the great disruption in an earlier solar system which led to the Moon becoming a dead planet, the energies of these stars and certain of the planets which were produced through their activity, were all focussed in and transmitted by the Moon in a most mysterious yet powerful manner. (EA 400. From Taurus—see the Moon)

The moon is a dead form; it has no emanation at all. That is why the moon is spoken of in the ancient teaching as “veiling either Vulcan or Uranus.” (EA 13)

Vulcan can be veiled by the Sun or Moon, depending on the context and other factors in the chart, for which the esoteric astrologer must call on a synthesis of intuition and logical analysis—the weightings of crosses and rays, and a feel for the person’s current focus, issues and life goals. However, the Moon is the veiling body for the Virgoan and Aquarian rulerships of Vulcan.

At its most basic level, Vulcan is present in the very early awakenings when people start to develop self-awareness, but at a more refined level the Moon can also veil Uranus, as well as Neptune (the “three veiled planets”):

…astrologers would do well to experiment … and (instead of working with the moon) let them work with Vulcan when dealing with [those at the point of gaining awareness] and with Uranus when considering the highly [aware]. They would find some interesting and convincing results eventuate. (EA 13)

It is in [Virgo] that the Moon in its own right of antiquity and of ancient thoughtform control, and also as veiling both Vulcan and Neptune, connects the force of Virgo with the energies of Taurus, of Cancer and of Aquarius. This is of peculiar importance for it relates the form building aspect with the consciousness aspect which, at a high stage of development, produces the manifestation of the [soul] (named “the Christ-child” in Bailey’s post-Christian terminology). (EA 273)

Spiritual will, Vulcan, Pluto, and the pointers of the Great Bear

In the passage below, Pluto is called an “esoteric planet” along with Vulcan, although the presumption is that this doesn’t mean it’s a sacred planet:

Within our solar system, Vulcan and Pluto are expressions or custodians of this first ray energy and are, as I have told you, esoteric planets. The first indication of the true spiritual will only begins to manifest upon the Path of Discipleship … Vulcan and Pluto are related to the two Pointers and are only now beginning, in any definite and clear manner, to affect human response. (EA 96)

The path of this spiritual will as it comes to our planet is via: the pointer Merak, Aries, Vulcan/Pluto, and Shamballa.

The two pointers in the Great Bear (pointing to the Pole Star) are connected to self-will and spiritual will:

Dubhe: nearest to the Pole Star
connected to Pluto, “expressive of a lower aspect of the will, which—in speaking of humanity—we call self-will”
Merak: furthest from the Pole Star
connected to Vulcan, “a great reservoir or focal point for divine energy, carrying out [cosmic] purpose”

Aries as “the will to create or to manifest” is the primary transmitter of First Ray energy to the two planets in our solar system, and Shamballa as “the Custodian of the Plan for our planet” (Earth’s “head chakra”) is the agent of transmission, stepping it down to a human level. (EA 195-196)

Also see: Vulcan-Earth-Pluto and interlinked triangles (EA 482-483) plus other triangles including the pointers.

Vulcan: rulerships

  • Taurus: esoteric, hierarchical
  • Virgo: esoteric (Moon veiling)
  • Aquarius: hierarchical (Moon veiling)

Vulcan as orthodox ruler

Vulcan is never an exoteric ruler and only comes into real activity when an individual is on the Path (EA 509)

Vulcan as esoteric ruler


(Vulcan is also the also hierarchical ruler)

Taurus: bringing about material integration to clear inner vision, the forging of a worthy vehicle for the self: Vulcan crafts the personality from material experience.

…Taurus forges the instruments of constructive living or of destruction; …the chains which bind or create the key which unlocks the mystery of life; …this forging process, with its consequent clamour… is going on at this time in a most potent manner [during WW2]. Vulcan controls the anvil-like processes of time and strikes the blow which shapes the metal into that which is desired… (EA 374-5)

The metaphor here is that Vulcan’s connection to the mineral kingdom parallels the effect of Vulcan on the human personality, and the work we have to undertake in order to “forge ourselves” into a fitting vehicle through which to express the inner self we all have: a personality that reflects, rather than a personal self that simply reacts.

…Vulcan, the forger of metals… who works in the densest, most concrete expression of the natural world (from the human angle)… who goes down into the depths to find the material upon which to expend his innate art and to fashion that which is beautiful and useful. Vulcan is, therefore, that which stands for the soul, the individual, inner, spiritual [self]; in his activity we find the key to the soul’s task upon the eternal round of the wheel of life. …Hercules upon the Fixed Cross had to fashion his own weapons before he succeeded in the struggle. This is… a reference to the art of Vulcan…

Vulcan also rules nations at a certain stage of embryonic soul expression, such as the present, and governs their activities, fashioning the instruments of war when war and conflict are the only means whereby liberation can come, though woe betide those through whom wars come. Vulcan then takes hold and—since the Middle Ages—has brought the mineral kingdom, “the depths from which supply must come,” under human control. … Vulcan… is governed by the first ray, and the first ray and the first kingdom are definitely bound together. This, therefore, brings in the Shamballa force and you consequently have an esoteric triangle of energy—will, humanity and the mineral kingdom. They have a very close rapport with each other, both from the angle of the Plan and from the expression of material selfishness. Hence the great use of minerals (iron, copper, etc.) in… war… in which the mineral kingdom is used against the human. (EA 385-6)

The “mass initiation” at that time led post-WW2 humanity towards a new beginning, when some crucial changes set up the assurances and alliances that—at the time and for many years—kept at least the worst of humanity’s destructive urges in check. Those gains have not been lost and today many people enjoy certain freedoms and access to ideas, as well as rights, that would have been hard to imagine in earlier periods. The struggle to maintain these is on the shoulders of all those who carry the inner awareness that is alive to injustice, selfishness and division: Ray 1, as expressed by Vulcan, has that invaluable tendency to build anew on ground that has been cleared by the more destructive Ray 1 force of the non-sacred planet Pluto.

Humanity had gone down into the caves and the depths of concretion and is ready now for an upward shift or move, this time consciously taken and taken all together. (EA 386-7)


The creative aspect of Ray 1 is the essence here, summed up by the ability to persist and remain consistent in endurance, through all obstacles.

Vulcan… brings in what might be called the endurance aspect of the will-to-be which carries the incarnated (soul) through the experiences of the dark time wherein the personality becomes the Mother in the stage of gestation, through the period of infancy upon the physical plane and through the stage of adolescence until the initiate attains full maturity. This necessitates persistence, endurance and continuity of effort and is one of the characteristics imparted or stimulated by energies pouring from Vulcan. …these …first ray attributes …are the reverse side of those usually emphasised, namely, death or the activity of the Destroyer aspect. (EA 274)

The esoteric philosophy drawn upon in Alice Bailey’s writing holds that there are three phases of our solar system, under the three rays of aspect. In order, the first phase under Ray 3 is past, we are currently in the second phase with the Sun transmitting Ray 2 energy (hence it’s allocation to Ray 2), and the third phase under Ray 1 is yet to come.

…Virgo is … identified with the third aspect… the mother principle and is believed to be the director of the energies, developed and recognised in the first solar system. It is for this reason in this solar system that Virgo is subjected predominantly to the influence of [Ray 2, Ray 4 and Ray 6] energies through Jupiter (second ray) the Moon and Mercury (fourth ray) and Neptune (sixth ray). The Moon and Mercury together indicate the activity of the higher and lower mind and are, therefore, related to the third Ray of Active Intelligence which controlled the first solar system. There is consequently only one planet, Vulcan, which is distinctly and purely first ray energy. (EA 281 emphasis added)

Vulcan as hierarchical ruler


Pure grounded will. As one of the rulers of the fixed cross, the Moon as hierarchical ruler of Aquarius veils Uranus, not Vulcan. (EA 138, 395)

The “light which liberates from death” is a function of the mysterious “third unmanifested Hierarchy”, the suggestion for individuals being freedom from form control and hence liberation of the inner self or soul from the 3-fold personality. The following relationships are given in Esoteric Astrology (274):

  • Taurus—Illumination.
  • Vulcan—First ray or endurance.
  • Third Creative Hierarchy—Liberating Light.
  • Virgo—The [soul]-life, latent and unexpressed (as is the 3rd Creative Hierarchy).
  • The Moon—The form nature, the substance of the flame which lights the way.

The theme of the mineral kingdom as being forged by humanity is echoed here at a global scale:

Hierarchically… conditioning the planet and determining the fact that humanity is the macrocosm of the microcosm and that the fourth kingdom fashions or conditions all subhuman kingdoms. (EA 185)

This is a process of interaction between matter and the life and purpose of humanity as vehicles of expression are created, whether these are literally forged from the mineral kingdom, the substances we ingest to create and sustain our physical bodies, or behaviours that determine our impact on the planet as well as the collective material form of expression for the human kingdom. Vulcan symbolises how the forms we need at any time are built from what exists.

Vulcan: relations

Vulcan dignities

Vulcan has no dignities in exotric astrology, but there are hints and sympathies that connect the planet in a similar way. These are therefore tentative suggestions.

Exaltation in Aries, Taurus

Ray 1 is the connection here, but operates differently than in Taurus. As already covered (see the Overview tab) “the spiritual will as it comes to our planet is via: the pointer Merak, Aries, Vulcan/Pluto…” so that Aries—the primary transmitter of First Ray energy to the two planets—carries “the will to create or to manifest” in a form accessible to humanity. Aries is “the birthplace of ideas” as they take shape and are impelled towards material form (EA 92). The exaltation of the Sun in Aries carries with it the implication that the creative force of Vulcan is also strengthened in this sign. (EA 195-196)
The Taurus connection also concerns Ray 1; specifically the Moon veiling Vulcan, but also Vulcan as the esoteric and Hierarchical ruler:

Symbolically this means that the form side of life is a powerfully controlling factor… with which [we] must ever reckon. The Moon is the Mother of the form and in this case veils or hides Vulcan… The Moon, therefore, stands here for the fashioner or moulder of the form, bringing in both the feminine and masculine aspects of form-building, the dual functions of Father-Mother. … This process of interplay brings about two phases of the needed fashioning:

  1. A process wherein is created a form of great potency in which self-interest and personality aims and desires are the motives bringing about activity. The Moon and Taurus activity.
  2. The processes, self-applied by the awakening Taurian, wherein the form nature is fashioned anew and motivated in a different manner and so is “raised up…” … and glorified. The Vulcan and Taurus activity.

… Through desire translated into terms of spiritual will, the form is esoterically “exalted” and of this fact the exaltation of the Moon in Taurus is a symbol. To this the ordinary astrological symbol of the Bull’s horns testifies. This is the crescent Moon and also the symbol of the destructive nature of the form life of the Bull. …in this connection the destruction or death of the form and the ending of form influence thereby is the goal of the process which changes desire into aspiration. (EA 399-400)

Fall in Libra, Scorpio, Pisces

as with Pluto, the disruptive influence of Ray 1 is not conducive the the necessary balance and temporary peace of the “turning-point”.
Pluto is the first ray planet needed here, in its destruction of outgrown personal elements. The creative, buiding process of the fort ray as transmitted by Vulcan is not the focus for the Scorpio experience.
As with Scorpio, the ultimate death of the individual self is the domain of Pluto as it rules Pisces esoterically and hierarchically, not Vulcan.

Detriment in Capricorn, Aquarius

Since “the power of the Moon is lessened” here, Vulcan in its role as the creator of forms in matter is also implied since, “as evolution proceeds, the power of the moon, which is the symbol and ruler of form, grows less and less, and … upon the reversed wheel is [we are] steadily [freeing oursleves] from the control of matter. The attractive lure of that which is material wanes increasingly.” (EA 170-172)
the power of the Sun “is lessened” in this sign and—since “Vulcan is a substitute for the Sun; it is spoken of sometimes as being veiled by the Sun and at others it stands for the Sun itself”—we can assume by inference that having “reached a point of balance” in Aquarius, the first ray energy of Vulcan is also in abeyance. (EA 146) Since Uranus is veiled by the Moon as it rules Aquarius hierarchically, Vulcan is not involved in that sense either.

Vulcan decanates

(To follow) The decanates in Esoteric Astrology are not given consistently. They are sometimes reversed and other times given in the familiar direction. Current research aims to provide a coherent system that ensures consistency and reduces ambiguity, while adhering to the basic tenets of the esoteric decanates as well as the “reversal of the wheel”. Alan Leo’s decanates tend to follow the traditional method (i.e. the rulers of each sequential sign by element), yet Alice Bailey often replaces these, sometimes with Sephirial’s planets, and at other times with fresh esoteric replacements.

For now, decanates are covered under the “Details” tab in each sign.