Since I’ve resumed my practice back in 2013, I’ve found myself learning things I didn’t already know. In a sense, I think I had a sense they were important in some way—or had an intuitive, unconscious awareness of them, but with the benefit of time and reflection, I’ve found I never really learned them the first time around.
Several of these realizations constellate together for me. I have been realizing the significance of astrological timing and the cycles going on in the world at several levels. In turn, as I’ve taken steps to align myself with several of those cycles, I have been learning how my body responds to magic or spirit contact—or at least sensing when whatever I’m doing is doing something.
“Fools by Heavenly Compulsion”
I always wanted astrology to make sense to me. I was always an astronomy nerd while growing up, especially for the planets. I’d do little reports on the planets and their planetary characteristic trivia when I was in elementary school. I think half the books I checked out while growing up were books on the planets. It was the ‘70s and ‘80s, and NASA was churning out all sorts of information. Of course, I was aware of astrology: newspapers would have the daily horoscope for sun signs right underneath all the comics.
Astrology always seemed interesting, but the astrology I could access at that point remained vague to the point of uselessness. It wasn’t until I was at uni the first time that I found a big astrology text with an ephemeris, and I figured out an amateur version of my natal chart.
I remember my chart and the interpretations of its data as being, well, really rather on-target. But that fell by the wayside, and since resuming my practice, astrology often came up again. I would revisit my natal chart at various websites, and apparently, I’d been fairly on target the first time around, and I could see how some of my influences and elements of those readings had grown richer.
However, I wanted to know why. Why and how did astrology do anything? I discovered Austin Coppock not that long ago, and I started paying attention to his daily reports. And it’s one of those things that something will happen, and I will go back and look after the fact, and I will note that it was very much forecasted in the “space weather” for that day and time. But I wanted to know why.
I had encountered in my reading several variations on the planetary and astrological “ray” theory, that the planets shoot out rays of planetary energy that, well, do stuff to you and everything else. Ivo Dominguez, Jr. opts for a similarly Neo-Platonic model (that’s probably informed by the ray model) in which the planets represent specific influences active at all levels of (our) reality, modulated through the twelve signs, and then further modulated through the twelve houses before manifesting in local reality in our lives. These models never sang right for me, not for wanting to engage with astrology myself nor for wanting to do anything more.
“Their Great Stars Throned and Set High”
Now, let me be fair to Dominguez: his stuff seems to work for him. Fantastic. In trying to find my jam, though, I felt frustrated. However, I do appreciate Dominguez likening astrology to a language. I note he’s careful to always frame this association in simulative, figurative terms. I would argue that astrology is certainly relational, like language: we understand utterances through how the language compares like things to like and contrasts different things to differences. But relationality also encompasses how we as readers become participants within the reality that we articulate through language.
Some of these thoughts go back to my ideas about “Art & Magic.” Art and magic have relational, often linguistic, bases, but those bases entail our experience of the art/imaginary/magical. Intention and attention come into play even as we’re immersed, inhabiting an ecosystemic reality.
For me, I first got at some of this kind of thinking when I first considered how divination systems like tarot could work. In shuffling a deck and laying out (seemingly) random cards, I imagined that the constellation of agents, influences, circumstances, and choices that existed within the cosmos at large could reflect in the patterns at the local, micro-scale of the patterns of cards. To put it another way, I could look into the “randomness” of the cards to find patterns of meaning reflecting the meaning going on in the world itself. I know this kind of thinking isn’t particularly new, and I now feel the basis for this kind of divination includes the spiritual qualities of the deck, its art, and one’s own intuition/awareness.
At various points, in trying to make my own sense of astrology, I would have intuitive eureka moments where I would get the sense of how the “arrangement” of the cosmos in terms of matter, spirit, space, time, meaning, and more all could come together, and the “arrangement” of how I and Earth related to those macro-scale elements pointed to a way to get at feeling my way into astrology. I use the quotes on arrangement there because I feel it’s an imprecise word to use, and I use it figuratively here. It’s easy to imagine a big clockwork universe, I think, at moments like that, but that’s not what I was after. We’ve had enough of clockwork cosmology, I’d argue. What I felt seemed far more organic, as if I could sense myself standing and living in a vast enchanted universe in which orientation in time and space, intention and attention, meaning and significance, in relationality mattered, and that was a better way to get at astrology (and other things) than an emanatory, Neo-Platonist model.
Because Jupiter is over there. We’ve sent probes. We’ve got pictures. And if Earth has its spirit that magical folks acknowledge, then so can Jupiter, even as Jupiter’s relation to us in terms of time and space seems to matter, too. In that sense, while Jupiter may be 18 septillion times more massive than me, we can still have a horizontal, if unequal, relation.
“The Front of Heaven Was Full of Fiery Shapes”
At some point, I decided to try my hand at creating my own names, glyphs, and glyph poems for the planets. I would get into an appropriate mindset—maybe while having a big high-res photo of the planet in front of me, and I got to work. I started with the Sun:
The burning star
The nectar on the skin
The blazing, burning heat of the summer
The shining [light] of the heavens
Soaring dragon of the Day light Hours
Bright eye of the heavens
The light of vision gazing out
The soul of the expanse
Golden hero god of the High Sky
Androgynous titan of the Skies
Heart of the near realm
Or for Mars:
Diving, plowing warrior of the airts,
Sailor on the seas of fate
Dame-Knight of Desires
Slicer at infinity, chooser of fates,
Who wields the mirror blade Ajirice
Blood born, bone of the night sky
Who fight sings wages by ________
In red-steel cuirass, upon the steaming steed
Fire lord in dark corridors
She calls to, calls me higher—
I found these helped me find my own resonances with the planets and gave me an invocation I could work with to align with the planets on their days. Eventually, I also was exposed to the Hygromanteia and its approach to astrological timing, and the planetary prayers the text includes for, well, aligning with the planet. For example, one of Mercury’s includes the following:
O Mercury, creator, philosopher and greatest among orators, who rules over minds; I conjure you by God who created you and placed you in the heavens. I conjure you by your heaven, by your sphere, by the treasure and by the secret wisdom of God, by his strong and immeasurable hand and by all the myriads of angels, do not disobey me. I conjure you in the following names: [barbarous names]. Turn back your foul fortune from me. Bring me only good fortune.
Light some frankincense or the appropriate planetary incense, and go to work. I’ve been doing my own combination of the Hygromanteia with my own planetary poems, using my names and the Roman names. I will open the sky app on my phone to locate the planet in the sky at that moment so I can orient myself towards the planet. This orientation helps me reach out to the planet, helps me connect and further align.
I would argue that in the long term these prayers represent me “getting in good” with the planetary influence even as, perhaps more significantly, I’m aligning myself on a daily basis with the ruling planet for the day.
The Hygromanteia includes notes on the use of planetary hours for every day of the week, on the uses of the lunar days, and lunar signs. The texts include ruling spirits for the hours of the day, as well, who I’ve invoked when beginning whatever work I was about to do.
As I’ve done so, I’m well aware that the Hygromanteia represents only one system for astrological timing. There are so many, I suspect, not counting those that probably grow overdetermined after a point. I’m treating the Hygromanteia’s rhythm as the one to align myself with for the last couple of months or so, and I have noted the benefits and significance of doing so.
In a way, I imagine it as partly getting the attention of some of the spirits in question, but more so a two-fold result:
- Aligning my intention to the cycles and rhythms of the cosmos.
- Aligning my attention to those same cycles and rhythms.
These alignments also better align me with the spirits and allies I’m working with, even as I try to keep the process organic rather than overdetermining it. There are also deeper levels of alignment—trying to line up the Venusian elements, for example, in terms of planet, signs, hours, etc.
“Minions of the Moon”
As I do my planetary prayers, I will do the Hygromanteia, do my mine, and then close with something like “O [my name for the Moon], O Luna, Amen.” Along the way, I would sometimes observe myself going up on one leg, even an arm bending back and out. Sometimes, I will be making my way through, and I will reach the Amen and do that strange balancing act (often times the other hand balancing on a table) even as that’s when I also have a vision of myself, the planet (or something) in the distance before coming out of that.
I think many folks wonder if they’re actually doing anything as they go and say their prayers or words or visualize whatever. Well, I eventually realized, are you feeling anything? I remember hearing folks say, “Oh, if you’re moving or shaking or not moving in deliberate precision during ritual, then you’re doing it wrong and need to learn more discipline.”
Yeah, maybe for them.
I wondered about my one-legged thing, but then I reread some old Irish mythology and folklore:
A specific ritual posture is associated with the performance of glám dícenn— the one-legged “cursing posture” which we have seen Badb adopt.
Usually, this is described as standing on one leg, closing one eye, and holding up one hand (or with one arm behind the back.) As discussed above, the posture seems to be intended to mimic the condition of woundedness on one side, with the belief that the missing or damaged part was active in the Otherworld. The one-legged posture often involves the speaking of magical incantations within a single breath…
This posture is called corrguinecht in O’Davoren’s Glossary and several other Irish texts. The name is a colorful poetic pun: corr is “pointed, peaked”, and also means a water-bird such as a crane or heron; and guinecht is “wounding”. Thus, the name may be read “pointed wounding” or as “crane-wounding”. This double-entendre describes both the sorcerer’s pose, balanced on one leg like a wading bird, and also the action of the spell, its piercing power and wounding ability… Another name associated with this practice and employing similar imagery is congain comail, “conjuror’s wounding” (alternately translated “binding wounding”.)
I found that very interesting. I mean, I’d been doing that sort of thing for a while, quite reflexively, not knowing why. And I don’t do that much cursing.
As I started my planetary prayers, it occurred to me as I went “one-legged” that that was my body responding to or showing that I was actually doing something, connecting with the Otherworlds and with whatever (whoever) I was trying to work with at the time. This realization reinforced my own long-standing sense of the embodiedness of spirits and the Otherworlds, but it also convinced me to start paying more attention to the subtle cues I was getting about contact with the Otherworlds.
I just received a book today that I ordered when it came back in stock, and it’s a book with a reputation. I opened the packaging, and I casually flipped through and had a feeling as my eyes caught the shapes of words on different pages. I set it down and went about my exercise regime (actual physical exercise). And at one point, I found myself looking over at the book while listening to old podcasts, and I realized I was casually imagining—more kinda having a daydream—about a vortex of books, pages, words, and dark colors centered on the book.
I’d found a while back that I was noticing all sorts of stuff a while back, but often it can seem rather subtle—like daydreams, feelings, images that might have me zone out and maybe even ignore or dismiss. But when I start paying attention—well, I realized I was noticing what was already around me. I was sensing an enchanted world, but my conscious mind and the psychic censor often would just filter it out.
“Let Us Be Diana’s Foresters”
So I have similar responses and experiences when I get the chance to connect with the trees and forests—even just the sky, clouds, and eruptions of the Green here where I live. Ego will fade out, vanish for a bit, and my mind will be the swaying of the trees, the green leaves moving, the clouds white against blue sky, my mind a canopy and high sky—and I will come back. I’d noted before that it was like I was synching my busy wordy mind with the rhythms of the world around me, and coming out of that “synch,” my rhythm had become far more “my own” again.
I think something similar happens with the astrology. I do not have the head, patience, or intention to master astrology by any means—I’m planning on paying a professional to take a better look at my natal chart at some point soon—but I know how I’ve momentarily synched with the world(s). Even as I have made that part of my life, I have helped deepen my practice and also deepen my embeddedness and embodiedness with the enchanted world, with Otherworlds.
Images: all public domain via Pixabay
 Ahem, all headings courtesy of Shakespeare, King Lear and 1 Henry IV.
 I had memorized my time of birth after poking around at my birth certificate as a bored kid. I also found an old Webster’s dictionary’s list of ordinal and big numerals endlessly fascinating as I pondered octillions and decillions.
 Dominguez integrates Tree of Life-style esotericism, associating the planets in astrology to the sephirah on the Tree. Ivo Dominguez, Jr., Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans: Using the Planets and the Stars for Effective Spellwork, Rituals, and Magickal Work (San Francisco: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2016), 18, 27, 39, 57-8.
 I note, as I was drafting this paragraph, that I seemed to be physically reacting as if I was hearing a clanging, high-pitched, grating cacophony in the distance while bright garish rainbow colors shone like disco floodlights. These senses grew more concretized as I paid attention to them and realized I was feeling something from the model itself, and I find that interesting, but, well, see later in this post when I write about paying attention.
 I’ve also noted that planetary associations, especially for colors, can also vary widely.
 Morpheus Ravenna, The Book of the Great Queen (Richmond, CA: Concrescent, 2015), 335-6.