Subplanetary Cycles

I’ve talked occasionally about my planetary system on twitter and in my last post about tie knots and planetary associations, and I’ve had a few pokes for clarification. I’ve been using my own system of assign subplanets to the day for a year and a half now, and it’s a fairly simple but elegant way of bringing a more nuanced planetary focus into my day to day life.

So what is a subplanet? Basically it’s a little bit of extra planetary “flavour” to a day. Each day of the week is associated planet, we all know that by now, but the subplanet is a slight tweak to that planetary energy, an extra focus if you will. Just like some systems have planetary-elemental combinations, this is planet on planet action. (Insert a Uranus joke here) For instance as I’m writing this first draft it is Thursday, the day of Jupiter, associated with wealth, growth, success, career, and so on, but if the subplanet of the day was Mercury for instance then the focus would be shifted to meld their attributes. It would be more about building wealth or growing your life based upon wit, knowing the right things, communication, hearing the messages you need, or even random luck or conniving trickery. If the subplanet was Mars then the focus would be shifted to a Martial aspect. Perhaps it becomes about having the strength to fight for what you need to develop and grow, or fending off those that would interfere or harm your kingdom, or just the vitality to rule the kingdom. These are just simple examples, the better you know and understand the planetary forces the more combinations and patterns you can find. It’s also not really a cookbook system, in the sense that no Mercury of Jupiter will be just like another Mercury of Jupiter. I find when I do my morning evocation of the planet and subplanet that different aspects of each might be emphasized. One day Venus might be about love, the next time art and things I value, the time after that attraction and magnetism. Depending on what I know is going on that day, and what my intuition draws me toward causes my combination to focus on different aspects of the planets which allows me to experience variations on even the same combinations.

Like a lot of things in magick I’ve found that it has built up its own force as I went along. At first it was more of an intellectual exercise, training myself to think in terms of planetary combinations, but fairly soon my life, internally and externally began to reflect these combinations. At first it was keyword combination, then it became nuanced and organic. While I don’t think there is an “objective” power in the pattern I’ve developed I think there is a power in the fact that it’s a pattern, and one that I work with and have conditioned myself to work with and access. (Of course, I’d argue that’s the same with almost anything in magick, that it’s training and conditioning over inherent forces. After all what reason on a deep level is there for planets to rule days of the week, or a seven day week? Humans decided that, but through use and training it has a magickal merit.)

Planetary hexagram

Planetary hexagram

So how do I actually figure out the subplanet of the day? On my altar I have the seven planetary seals (I use Jason Miller’s version of the Seals) arranged on their places of the hexagram, they’re on velcro, so I can switch them around daily. You don’t need that, you could use anything for the planets you can shift around (e.g. small candles) or just keep track on a list, but I find a visual reminder helpful. Every day I would take the planet of the day and put it in the centre, then whatever planet is in the planet of the day’s “house” (the native position on the planetary hexagram) becomes the subplanet.

Example Monday: Sun is now in the Moon's "House"

Example Monday: Sun is now in the Moon’s “House”

So for instance starting with all the planets in the right place, assuming it’s Monday, the Moon has to go in the centre which then puts the Sun in its place. You have the normal hexagram with the Sun and Moon switched, since the Sun is in the Moon’s house it is the subplanet of the day, making it Sol of Luna for the day. Then tomorrow Mars is put in the centre, and the Moon goes to where Mars was. Since the Moon is in Mars’s house the day is Luna of Mars. This cycle repeats and is fairly simple…with a small catch.

Example Tuesday: The Moon is now in Mars's "house"

Example Tuesday: The Moon is now in Mars’s “house”

Damn you Daystar! So since the Sun’s native position is the centre of the hexagram when the Sun is in the centre it would always be in its house, meaning there is no subplanet for any given Sunday. The way I get around this is to have the Sun share Saturn’s house. I see this as the Sun drawing down the forces from beyond into manifestation, giving them form and life. So when the Sun and Saturn share the same house that means Saturday and Sunday will have the same subplanet, and I’m fine with that. I start my planetary week (in this case) on the Sunday, so I feel that the Saturday subplanet being carried over links the weeks. This adds into another layer of my cycle, which I’ll address later.

Illustrating the cycling of the planets and subplanets through all the combinations

Illustrating the cycling of the planets and subplanets through all the combinations

Now that the Sun shares Saturn’s home it allows us to cycle through all the planetary combinations. Once I’ve gone through every combination I do a week of pure planets, and then either start the cycle over again, or wait until an appropriately significant date to start over. Unfortunately this only works when you start it on a Sunday or Monday, you can start a cycle on any other day, but it won’t cycle “cleanly.” If you start on any other day some planets will show up more than once in a week, others will be absent, and the position of the planets will never reset, only repeat. This is because of the Sun being at home in the centre, so when it goes back to the centre on Sunday it interrupts the cycle. So I restart these planetary cycles on the Sunday/Monday following a notable date. Usually I just wait until a New or Full Moon, this time I restarted on the Sunday after the New Moon and Imbolc, seems to work. After six weeks the planets will return to their native positions, when this happens I do a pure planetary week. In that case I stop moving the planets around, and for that week I just do my invocations to the planet of the day, no subplanet, then either repeat, or wait until the appropriate date to restart it.

An issue that has come in in discussion of this system is that if you follow it it “limits” your experiences, you can’t really control when a subplanet comes up, and maybe Mars or Venus isn’t the best match for the day. First, if we’re thinking like that, we don’t control what planet rules each day, maybe today (Friday) isn’t a good day for Venus, and the same goes astrologically, we don’t decide when Mercury enters a new sign or when Saturn goes retrograde. Secondly, having a focus is more important than that focus being spot on in most cases. When I was studying the tarot my teacher told me to draw a card and embody it daily, and I asked was the card I drew symbolic of the day or what I needed to be to navigate it successfully? The answer stuck with me, basically it can be both, neither, and more, the point is to have a focus, too often we just drift around without a focus, but if we have a focus, even if it isn’t perfect for the situation, we’ll tend to do better. Put another way, think of your role-playing games, being a wizard or a thief might not be the perfect choice for any given situation, but you’ll do better focused on being one of them, than trying to be all of them. So claim the nuances and be them, find a way to make your focus work for the day. Though it’s my general advice, focus on making the decisions right, not the right decisions.

So don’t fret if you think the subplanet cycle might not match what you need, make it what you need. Embrace it, and let it move you forward. Lastly, while people will obviously have their own ways of invoking the planetary forces, for sake of completeness I thought I’d share mine. As mentioned previously I have my own set of Names for calling on the planetary forces and I use those. Once the planet of the day has been put into the centre of the Hexagram and my physical offerings laid out (a burning stick, incense, and food or salt) I simple pray. “Hail unto thee (Angel of the Day), ruler of (Name of the Planetary Sphere), master of the (Spirits of the Sphere), in the name of (God of the Sphere) I call you here to work with me, and walk with me.” I then multiple and share the offerings, then begin my request for the day that might be something like this (I’m using today’s planetary combo of Jupiter of Venus) “Hail Milara, grant me access I beg to the Venusian currents, may they flow through me and about me. May I be blessed by your powers of magnetism, may the beauty of the sphere grant me the gifts of attraction. Nurture my passions, that which I love, and through the gifts of Jovian flows may these passions be supported. May I have the wealth and space to pursue my desires, and draw into my life that which is required for it.”

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