Lesson 6 - Seven Planetary Aspects
Let's shift our gears this week to space. Space is a vast home to many wonders that we still don't know of, however it affects our magic on a day to day basis. If you are good at Astronomy, then this lesson will probably be easy for you. As you may know, there are eight planets in our solar system. However back during ancient times, people didn't have modern technology so they would consider whatever non-fixed object in the sky that could be seen by the naked eye, a planet. These are called the classical planets and they consist of the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Alchemists took the seven planets and associated them with metals, attributes, and deities from Greek and Roman mythology. These are called the seven planetary aspects collectively, with each individual planet being an aspect. They got their names from their Roman background, as each mythological god or goddess had a specific power associated with them. The planets themselves were even named after Roman gods and goddesses.
In 2500 B.C.E., a man named Sarus Ignus believed that the seven planetary aspects were capable of helping him find Panacea. Panacea is an elixir that was said to cure all illnesses and prolong life, however this wasn't the Elixir of Life, but rather a connection to the Elixir of Life and the Philosopher's Stone. However, there has been no evidence proving the planetary aspects have anything to do with Panacea. There have been several witches and wizards who believed Ignus was just spouting lies. A well-known alchemist during the mid-1700’s named Tyrus Smith wrote a thesis about how Sarus Ignus never had any factual evidence supporting his ideas. This thesis was known as the Theory of Innovations. The story often dictated that Panacea was unreachable or that it simply didn't exist.
Check out the picture to the right. Notice how each aspect has a line connecting them to another celestial body (with the exception of the sun)? That is what we call a transitional. A transitional, also known as medio, is when the characteristics of one celestial body transfers to another. The transitional phase is split up into two parts: aditus and barathri. Aditus means "the beginning" and is obviously the beginning of the transitional phase. Aditus lasts through pretty much the whole transitional; from the start of the transitional phase until the end of the phase. If you are transmuting metals, the aditus portion of the transitional phase includes the beginning of the transmutation through the actual process of transmuting the metal. Barathri means "the abyss" and this happens when the metal has gone through the full transformation and the characteristics have officially transferred over.
How long do these transitional phases take? Each individual transition has a certain amount of time it takes to complete the transmutation. This allotted amount of time is called the Transitional Period (TP). The Transitional Period can range anywhere from one day to thirty-one days, though there is one known to be infinite!
The chart below details each celestial body, what element and characteristic they're associated with, and which celestial body it transitions to. Remember when you write the chart down that even though we are talking about planets, the elements themselves are the ones that are being transmuted.
|Celestial Body||Element||Characteristic||Transfer Celestial Body|
When spells are used to transmute the proper elements, the characteristics of each will change. For example, we can use iron and silver. Both elements correlate to the proper planet: iron goes with Mars and silver goes with Venus. Notice how Mars and Venus transition to each other. When using spells on iron, we can transfer the characteristics of silver into the iron and vice versa.
On to the actual transitions themselves! Let's kick things off with Venus and Mars. The picture below is a quick overview of the transitional phases between the two.
Let's talk about Venus. It's the second planet in the solar system. When you think of the Roman goddess of the same name or her Greek counterpart, Aphrodite, you think of love. As you may know from the chart as well as the picture above, silver correlates with Venus. Silver has calm and soothing effects; it's pretty stable in that it isn’t chaotic nor highly reactive like iron.
Mars is the fourth planet in the solar system and is known as the "Red Planet." We know from Lesson Four that the high prevalence of iron oxide (rust) gives Mars its reddish appearance. It's named after the Roman god of war, Mars, and the Greek counterpart is Ares. Iron is associated with Mars and rightly so because iron is chaotic and highly reactive.
Venus has a transitional period of one day into Mars. It's the easiest transition to use and one of the quickest. Many alchemists believe the transitional period is so quick due to the close distance between both planets. All of the spells needed to transmute metals using this transition need to be done within the time of the transitional period or the transmutation will fail and you will have to wait until the transitional phase starts again after the Mars to Venus transition is over.
Luckily if you miss the Venus to Mars transition, the Mars to Venus transition is also only one day. However, this transition isn't as easy to use because of the risks involved with it. Remember how iron is chaotic and reactive? The Mars to Venus transition is the same way. If you plan on using this transition, you should be in a room that is protected by enchantments. Alchemists typically went into bunkers when using spells on metals during this transition. It has a large amount of backfires that are almost guaranteed to happen. However, it produces a lot of positive results if everything is done correctly. Some believe that the Mars to Venus transitional phase could be the key to creating the Elixir of Life, although there has never been any evidence of this.
A characteristic is defined as "a distinguishing trait, quality, or property." Notice how the elements have their own characteristics apart from the actual planets. Using certain spells on elements can cause unforeseen and long-term effects, depending on the transition, the spell, and which element you're using it on. For example, let's say you're using the transition from Mars to Venus on some silver. Performing the correct spells will transfer over iron's characteristics to silver, making it chaotic and reactive rather than calm and soothing. This is the first process that needs to be done before fully transmuting the metal.
The next aspects we have are Mercury and Jupiter.
Let's look at Mercury. It's the first planet in our solar system and it's one of the fastest to orbit the Sun. It's named after the Roman messenger of the gods, Mercury, with its Greek counterpart being Hermes. It corresponds with lead, which has the characteristics of speed and intuition. Although lead is typically associated with Saturn in Paracelsus's Harmony of Elements and Organs, the majority of the metal's characteristics fit better with Mercury. Mercury represents our sublime, innate intelligence as well as our motivation. You know that essay in History of Magic that you have been putting off for a while because you don't feel motivated enough to do it? Maybe you just need to channel Mercury a bit!
Who is the king of the skies? Why it's Jupiter of course! It's the largest planet in our solar system and is the first of the gas giants. It's the guardian who protects our solar system and our skies with high and mighty power. Jupiter, or Zeus in Greek mythology, is the god of sky and thunder. He's the chief deity, the big man on Olympus. Jupiter is associated with gold, the king of the noble metals. How fitting. Gold has the characteristics of being strong and durable.
The transitional phase of Jupiter to Mercury has the longest transitional period, which lasts thirty-one days. The TP is so long because it goes through a lot in the transition. Jupiter to Mercury never fails, making it fairly easy and safe for anyone who wants to use it. There have been reports where the other transitions do fail, but there have not been any reported incidents of Jupiter to Mercury being unsuccessful. The key to using this transition is patience, as transmutation spells tend to drag out in length due to the long transitional period.
An Indian alchemist named Singh Dharma was known for using Jupiter to Mercury quite often. He believed that using this transitional would help find a way to destroy dragon pox. There have been cures developed for the disease, but nothing has been created to completely extinguish it. One of his other known experiments was trying to transition lead into silver. This is very difficult to do since they belong to different transitionals.
Mercury to Jupiter has a transitional period of six days. This is one of the more popular transitionals as it is one of the most conducive ways to turn lead into gold. It is also one of the more difficult transitional phases to perform; everything has to be done correctly to a T for a successful transmutation. Mercury to Jupiter is also hard to catch due to the long TP of Jupiter to Mercury. If you don't catch this transitional before it ends, you would have to wait another thirty-one days before even thinking about attempting it again. Yikes!
The next two planetary aspects on our list are the Moon and Saturn.
Just to clarify, the Moon we're talking about here is Earth's moon, not any other planet's moon. It's Earth's only natural satellite and we see it every night. The Moon is symbolic for its youth and radiance. You would think that it would transition well with Venus, however the aspects are too similar that it could cause a chaotic ripple. Copper is paired up with the Moon and is associated with rebirth and renewal. I often like to think of it as looking at things from a new perspective.
Saturn is one of the most identifiable planets in the solar system as it's equipped with a beautiful set of rings. It's named after the Roman god of agriculture, Saturn, also known as Cronus in Greek mythology. Saturn is known to be the ancient one; the oldest of the planets; the grandfather. Ruthenium is associated with this planet and has the characteristics of wisdom and longevity. The transition between the Moon and Saturn can be seen as a representation of life and death. Think of a phoenix; it lives until it's too old to live anymore (Saturn) and so then it bursts into flames only to be reborn from the ashes (Moon).
The transitional period from the Moon to Saturn is eleven days. Even though Mercury to Jupiter is quite popular with alchemists, the Moon to Saturn is the most popular and sought after transition. This transitional phase is capable of prolonging one's life and has been tested by many alchemists. It isn't going to produce the Elixir of Life or extend your life indefinitely. However, using this transition can let you live well past 100 years old. Some believe that Albus Dumbledore used this transition to let him live as long as he did.
Like the aforementioned transitional, Saturn to the Moon also has a transitional period of eleven days. Side effects of using this transition includes hallucinations of the past, almost as if you are rewinding your life. Hallucinations will definitely happen if you come into contact with the element you choose to transmute using this transition. To avoid these side effects, it's best to stay away from the element after it's transitioned for at least thirteen days until the last fumes have worn off. When this waiting period is over, you will be rid of the risk of hallucinating and the air will smell like honey. Why does it smell like honey? No one has really ever found out why, but it's a great way to tell when your element is ready.
Last but not least, let's talk about the Sun.
Probably the most important planetary aspect is the Sun. When we think of the Sun, we often believe it to be the center of the universe - this is incorrect of course. I'm sure you learn in Astronomy that our universe expands for millions and millions of light-years. Our solar system is just a small fragment of stars and planets in one galaxy. The Sun is what gives power to our other planets, making the title "powerhouse of the solar system" a fitting one.
You must have noticed in the chart that the Sun doesn't have a specific element or characteristic associated with it. In fact, it seems to transition to all the other aspects. The Sun's transitional phase is known to be infinite. The Sun contains the source of all magic and there's no way to deplete even a fragment of the magic locked deep within its vaults. Those who attempt to use the Sun for their own gain never fully get what they want. If someone were to obtain the Sun's power, a lot of chaos would ensue. With great power comes great responsibility, however this is definitely something no one should ever mess with.
Now how exactly do we transmute metals using the seven planetary aspects? We won't get to learn the actual spells today as they are quite advanced, but they will be taught in Year Four. I will, however, talk a little about them. We will study the Great Work, also known as the Magnum Opus.
In alchemy, there are four phases of the Great Work: Nigredo, Albedo, Citrinitas, and Rubedo. Alchemists have developed four spells that correspond with the phases that specifically transmute metals using the planetary aspects. The transitions are when the planet's power is the most concentrated. The four spells are used as a medium to channel this energy so that a transmutation can happen. Each spell needs to be performed in the order of the phases. The spells associated with Nigredo and Albedo deal with changing the characteristics of the element while the spells associated with Citrinitas and Rubedo are used to transmute the physical aspects of the element. These spells are very powerful and you aren't quite ready at this stage to attempt them. It's also important to fully understand the seven planetary aspects before you even think about transmuting metals. Don't worry! The years will fly by soon enough!
This week you have a test and an extra credit essay. Until next week my little stargazers!