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'Qabbalistic' order of the planets

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Question 'Qabbalistic' order of the planets


I have a question that some of you here might be able to throw some light on.

When reading a book on spiritual hierarchies by Rudolf Steiner I noticed he stated that that the names of the planets Mercury and Venus have been swapped around. An appendix to the book (purported to deal with this ‘problem’) and some observations of The Tree of Life got my curiosity up.

It appears Steiner is suggesting that the order of the planets is; Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon and Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. His obscure reasons (and hints that he is revealing an occult secret here???) seem to be summarized by his suggestion that in earlier times Venus was named Mercury and visa versa. An appendix in the book suggests that this has something to do with shifting the ancient understanding of the Solar System from a geocentric to a heliocentric view point and something to do with Ptolemy (sorry Re. lack of references, I had borrowed the book and have now returned it). I think the idea suggested is something like this; the Earth (and Moon) was seen as the centre of the system, the next circle out was Venus, then Mercury, the Sun, Mars, and so on. In a simplified attempt to correct this to a heliocentric system the positions of Earth / Moon was swapped with the Sun making; Sun, Venus, Mercury, Earth / Moon, Mars, etc.

I notice that this is the order of the planets on the Tree of Life. E.g. going up from Malkuth / Earth, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, etc and conversely back down.
Now, I realize the order of the planets in their orbits out from the Sun and their order on the Tree of Life can be seen as totally separate issues and perhaps one was never meant to represent the other, but there may have been some past connection in peoples understanding of the order of the planets and this Tree of Life arrangement.

I assumed that this order in the Tree of Life came about from observations on the relative momentum of the planets (and Sun and Moon) to each other and from the perspective of Earth observations?

So far all I have managed to find is that this is the “Magical order of the planets”, which doesn’t help much. There is a diagram in Liber Abba (Book IV – A.C.) annoted by the editor (H.B.) which shows this order of planets about the points of a heptagon and inside the heptagon is a heptagram and by following these lines to each point in turn we get the order of the days of the week (by their planetary attribution). H.B. mentions that this has something to do with the Greek system of assigning hours of the day to planets (hence predating G.D.), cycling through this magical order and the first hour of each day being attributed to a different planet, lent it’s name to that day of the week. But this doesn’t help me to understand where this original order came from. {Althoug the order is quiet ‘neat’ as demonstrated by the diagram and also the note that H.B. makes in that; “A striking modern confirmation of the integrity of the alchemical attributions may be made by attributing their traditional metals to the planets (in this figure) by tracing a heptangle, they appear in the order of their atomic weights.”}

Any thoughts or info on this? Either this supposed re-naming of the planets, Ptolemy’s system, how the order of the planets on the Tree of Life came about, or any other relevant insights?
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It's based astronomically on time to cycle, in ascending order
Gaea 1 day
Luna 28 days
Mercury 88
Venus 225
Sol 365
Mars 687
Jupiter 12 years
Saturn 29 years
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The Ptolemaic order was only one amongst various - and unless considering a heliocentric view, a most sensible one: the observed apparent motion of the planets against the fixed background sky follows with relative speed, from fastest to slowest, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

This was relatively common knowledge, and observing the sky with the naked eye, with some assistance to first aid in identifying the planets, would show this to be the case.

It is this ordering that is the most common throughout the ancient world, and the one that is also found in some versions of the Sefer Yetsirah, and again in the Zohar. Basically, it is using 'standard' views of apparent distance from Earth based on relative motion - in the same manner that if there are two circular tracks around a common centre, observing from that centre two vehicles travelling each at 100km/hr will make it seem that the closest is travelling faster. Hence in (major) part the reasoning.

It should also be pointed out that other solar-system suggestions were around even in Ancient Greek times - for example, that the planets were orbiting the Sun, and it and the Moon orbiting the Earth (and other suggestions).

By placing the planets (ie, the seven traditional planets) in a circle in their ptolemaic order, and then also tracing a heptagramme, the order of the days of the week do emerge. This is, however, simply a consequence of the relation between 12 and 7. The days of the week are arranged according to the Ptolemaic order, with each hour 'ruled' by a successive planet, giving rise to the days as we have them.

With regards to Rudolf Steiner's suggestion that Venus and Mercury have been 'swapped', this is what he says in that lecture:
"these Planets have had their names interchanged, in later Astronomy. That which is called Mercury to-day was called Venus in all ancient teachings, and that which is called Venus was called Mercury. Thus, note it well, one does not understand the ancient writings when one takes that which in them is called Venus or Mercury for the Venus or Mercury of the present day. That which is said about Venus has to be applied to the Mercury of to-day, and what is said about Mercury to Venus. For those two designations were later interchanged."
In other words, the claim is that if one reads of particular qualities in some ancient texts, then, according to the claim, 'Mercury' descriptions are those that should be applied to Venus, and vice versa.

Why he states this has never, to my knowledge, been satisfactorily been solved, but strongly suspect that he was using a particular insight that 'bridges' the Ptolemaic and Copernican models when he made those comments (the most clear statement being in the one I quoted above, lecture 6 (GA110 given in 1909) of Spiritual Hierarchies (though it does also make sense when considering it from connections made between planetary bodies and spiritual hierarchies).

What I mean by this is that the two can be reconciled in a basic consistent model only if Mercury and Venus are inversed from the one to the other. For example, if I place the 'planets' in order according to the Ptolemaic order, I get (imagine drawing circles around in geocentric fashion):
Earth - Moon - Mercury - Venus - Sun - Mars - Jupiter - Saturn
Now, in exactly the same manner, except from a Copernican (or heliocentric) perspective, also consider their orbits:
Earth - Moon - Venus - Mercury - Sun - - - - - - - - - - Mars - Jupiter - Saturn
The ONLY difference required between the two visual representations (and the latter is correct from an heliocentric perspective - simply ensure that there is sufficient space so that Mars's orbital circle clears the Earth) is the interchange between Mercury and Venus.

To me, Bobette's 'explanation' (Cf here)doesn't actually explain this most simple and sensible position Steiner took from this visual representation of the planetary sphere.
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Thanks guys. (I'd knew I'd get a clearer response here - than I had at other places).

I can see how Venus and Mercury's POSITION can be interchanged but I still dont get the idea of the qualities of one being applied to the other.

I'll re-read a few times and meditate on your response JMD (ta). Sometimes I find Steiner quiet 'thin'. I'm not sure if he is 'holding back', mistaken, it's an early work (i.e. very Theosophical - I find his Anthroposophical later writings more interesting and clearer), or I'm just unfamiliar. Often he makes comments which appear to me to go unexplained. I had this situation with Rosemanry Clark and her Ancient Egyptian teachings (trying to understand the system with what I ALREADY knew, yet, she is explains WHY it is this way constantly and it makes sense).

Maybe the translation from German is lacking a bit of I need more of the basic material on Steiner (eg. I'm not sure HIS terms of reference are the same as mine, eg what he means by; soul, spirit, etheric, astral, etc, might be different from my understandings. From what I understand he had a background in Qabbalah (?) some hermetics, Western mystery tradition as well as Theosophy? So I have been assuming his understandings of these terms is at least infulenced a bit by these subjects, or has it been superceeded by his own findings?
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oopss - I had not realised you had further replied, ravenest.

I think it should perhaps be remembered that Steiner's far greater grounds of influence (rather than the people associated with the Theosophical Society) was his immersion in the works of Goethe - of which was asked to edit and write introductions to his scientific works for the 100th anniversary issue of the same.

It is in that climate that his comment needs to be understood. In that light, too, (and I had nearly forgotten until I wrote the above paragraph which made me seek out Kühn's works), the actual writings of Copernicus become totally relevant. For example, Copernicus states (and I searched for an online version of the same, but came up with little - but do check out this page from which the following stems) in his mid-16th century text On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres (Bk1:10)
No one doubts that the Sphere of the Fixed Stars is the most distant of visible things. As for the order of the planets, the early Philosophers wished to determine it from the magnitude of their revolutions. They adduce the fact that of objects moving with equal speed, those farther distant seem to move more slowly (as is proved in Euclid's Optics). They think that the Moon describes her path in the shortest time because, being nearest to the Earth, she revolves in the smallest circle. Farthest they place Saturn, who in the longest time describes the greatest circuit. Nearer than he is Jupiter, and then Mars.

Opinions differ as to Venus and Mercury which, unlike the others, do not altogether leave the Sun. Some place them beyond the Sun, as Plato in Timaeus; others nearer than the Sun, as Ptolemy and many of the moderns. Alpetragius makes Venus nearer and Mercury farther than the Sun. If we agree with Plato in thinking that the planets are themselves dark bodies that do but reflect light from the Sun, it must follow, that if nearer than the Sun, on account of their proximity to him they would appear as half or partial circles; for they would generally reflect such light as they receive upwards, that is toward the Sun, as with the waxing or waning moon. Some think that since no eclipse even proportional to their size is ever caused by these planets, they can never be between us and the Sun [...].

Unconvincing too is Ptolemy's proof that the Sun moves between those bodies that do and those that do not recede from him completely. Consideration of the case of the Moon, which does so recede, exposes its falseness. Again, what cause can be alleged, by those who place Venus nearer than the Sun, and Mercury next, or in some other order? [...]

Therefore I think we must seriously consider the ingenious view held by Martianus Capella [...] and certain other Latins, that Venus and Mercury do not go round the Earth like the other planets but run their courses with the Sun as center, and so do not depart from him farther than the convexity of their Spheres allows. [...] What else can they mean than that the center of these Spheres is near the Sun? So certainly the circle of Mercury must be within that of Venus, which, it is agreed, is more than twice as great.
So here, we have first and foremost a discussion from the history of astronomy the base from which Steiner also adds other comments.

Copernicus's works, by the way, were not (and are not) that 'foreign' to those who studied the history and philosophy of science, an area directly relevant to Steiner's own academic background.
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I think it important to focus primarily on the alchemical meaning of the planets and metals. For thereby one is easily and naturally directed to the fact that Mercury's quickness relates it more to quicksilver's (i.e. mercury's) volatility (tendency to fly up into the air upon being heated). And Venus's being the brightest 'star' in the heavens relates it directly to its identification with the Queen of Heaven, methinks.

Certainly in the layer of Kabbalah that relates directly to the metals (set forth in a way that leaves no doubt some ancients understood the basic structure of the periodic table, which can be deduced without knowing quantum physics, by the way), the numbers for the metals are clearly arranged by length-of-cycle: 1-eternity, 2-great year, 3-Saturn, 4-Jupiter, 5-Mars, 6-year, 7-Venus, 8-Mercury, 9-month, 10-day, with gold associated first and foremost with 2, the great year (precession), which is the relation between 6-year (ecliptic) and 10-day (equator).

Distributed thus, the exaltation of planets in astrology acquires the nature of a coherent pattern (their signs-of-rulership being previously determined by the numbers themselves): each male-female pair in the Kabbalistic Tree as commonly arranged stand opposite each other in the zodiacal circle. For 2-sun and 3-Saturn (first male and female pair on the Tree) are exalted at aries and libra, respectively; 4-Jupiter and 5-Mars (second male-female pair on Tree) are exalted at cancer and capricorn, respectively; while 7-Venus and 8-Mercury (third male-female pair) are exalted at pisces and virgo, respectively.

[It is only natural that Sol/gold would become identified with 6-year alone, but it is in reality the matrix 2-6-10: great year, year, and day.]
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmd
oopss - I had not realised you had further replied, ravenest.
DITTO thanks JMD, just saw it and will print and read at home Ta!
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Thanks venicebard , I hadn't thought about that. the metals ....hmmmmm, VERY interesting.

I'll have to go meditate on my 'magicum electrum'.

Good timing, just re-read my old alchemical book, and I never read it in this light before, that is since I have been studying the esoteric nature of Bio-dynamics lately, (my new job - it's great! ), VERY interesting analougies.
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My apologies for bumping a very old thread, but could someone explain this passage by venicebard? For me it is hovering on the edge of intelligibility.

In particular, what are "the numbers for the metals"? What does "6-year (ecliptic)" and "10 day (equator)" refer to? What are the male-female pairs in the tree? Which arrangement of the tree is he talking about?

There's no guarantee that understanding this will help me understand venicebard's post, but it will put me on the way to it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by venicebard View Post
I think it important to focus primarily on the alchemical meaning of the planets and metals. For thereby one is easily and naturally directed to the fact that Mercury's quickness relates it more to quicksilver's (i.e. mercury's) volatility (tendency to fly up into the air upon being heated). And Venus's being the brightest 'star' in the heavens relates it directly to its identification with the Queen of Heaven, methinks.

Certainly in the layer of Kabbalah that relates directly to the metals (set forth in a way that leaves no doubt some ancients understood the basic structure of the periodic table, which can be deduced without knowing quantum physics, by the way), the numbers for the metals are clearly arranged by length-of-cycle: 1-eternity, 2-great year, 3-Saturn, 4-Jupiter, 5-Mars, 6-year, 7-Venus, 8-Mercury, 9-month, 10-day, with gold associated first and foremost with 2, the great year (precession), which is the relation between 6-year (ecliptic) and 10-day (equator).

Distributed thus, the exaltation of planets in astrology acquires the nature of a coherent pattern (their signs-of-rulership being previously determined by the numbers themselves): each male-female pair in the Kabbalistic Tree as commonly arranged stand opposite each other in the zodiacal circle. For 2-sun and 3-Saturn (first male and female pair on the Tree) are exalted at aries and libra, respectively; 4-Jupiter and 5-Mars (second male-female pair on Tree) are exalted at cancer and capricorn, respectively; while 7-Venus and 8-Mercury (third male-female pair) are exalted at pisces and virgo, respectively.

[It is only natural that Sol/gold would become identified with 6-year alone, but it is in reality the matrix 2-6-10: great year, year, and day.]
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheiromancer View Post
My apologies for bumping a very old thread, but could someone explain this passage by venicebard? For me it is hovering on the edge of intelligibility.

In particular, what are "the numbers for the metals"? What does "6-year (ecliptic)" and "10 day (equator)" refer to? What are the male-female pairs in the tree? Which arrangement of the tree is he talking about?

There's no guarantee that understanding this will help me understand venicebard's post, but it will put me on the way to it.
6 - tifareth - sun - year (the length of the solar cycle along the ecliptic); 10 - malkuth - earth - day (the revolution of the earth/equator); 9 - yesod - moon - month; 1 - keter - eternity. As for the numbers for the metals, I am not sure, but I think he may mean the metals associated with the planets/sefiroth, ie, 3 = binah = saturn = lead... but thereagain he says Gold = 2 rather than 6-tifareth-sun - but he associates the sun with 2 because of the apparent relationship to the cycle of the great year.

As for female-male pairs, there are several variations, for example a sefirah may be considered male to the one below it, female to the one above it (with malkuth, the bride, hence being the most 'feminine'). In another manner the left hand pillar is feminine, the right hand masculine; the pairs venicebard mentions meet both conditions (2 male is above 3 female, and 2 is on the right hand masculine pillar and 3 on the left feminine pillar; and so on for the other two) - the oddity is the association of 2 with the sun (which I gather is based upon the cycle of the great year, the complete cycle of an appararent precession of the sun against the background of the suns/stars along the ecliptic as measured at vernal equinoxes - which is actually due to the relationship between the sun and earth (because of its 'wobble') - this association does provide a neat correlation with planetary exaltations, as venicebard describes (each pair of planets being exalted in opposite signs).

Re: the geocentric/heliocentric model - the ToL sort of encompasses both, from malkuth the geocentric, but with the sun in the center (tifareth) and the inner planets and moon between malkuth - tifareth, the outer from tifareth - keter.
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