LVX – The Light of Creation in Traditional Astrology

William Blake, Europe

Five windows light the cavern’d Man; thro’ one he breathes the air;
Thro’ one, hears music of the spheres; thro’ one, the eternal vine
Flourishes, that he may recieve the grapes; thro’ one can look.
And see small portions of the eternal world that ever groweth;
Thro’ one, himself pass out what time he please, but he will not;
For stolen joys are sweet, & bread eaten in secret pleasant.
(W. Blake, Europe A Prophecy)

Light plays a crucial role in Traditional astrology. And here I am not only thinking of light emanating from the sun, making the seven planets of Traditional astrology visible to the naked eye. First and foremost I am talking about the light of creation, or divine light, of which our sunlight may be seen as an important but distant relative. Light has long been recognised as a most important factor in many cosmologies and creation myths.

One typical example is the Lightning Flash of Creation depicted on the Tree of Life: 


Here the divine light emanates from the void beyond Kether to manifest the physical Earth (Malkuth), passing through all the other sephirot on the way. This process of creation has to be seen outside of time and space as it creates time and space itself.

Another cosmological model is the Tetraktys:

John Dee states in his Monas Hieroglyphica, published in 1564:

Besides, the kabbalistic extension of the Quaternary according to the common formula of notation (because we say one, two, three, and four) is an abridged or reduced form of the Decad. This is because Pythagoras was in the habit of saying: 1+2+3+4 make 10.

With this quote, Dee shows his knowledge of Plato’s cosmology and the Tetraktys. The triangle of Ten is nothing else but the depiction of the creation of the universe. The Monad, the point at the top of the triangle, splits into two, implying that creation can only be a division in the first place. Here we see the division of the One into Two, light and darkness, male and female (2). The next step after this scission is addition (1 + 2 = 3) and after this addition the first multiplication (2 x 2 = 4 ) takes place. This process of creation can be expressed as 1+2+3+4 equals 10. 

At this level Ten, manifestation begins in the form of the four elements. These four elements, Fire, Air, Water, and Earth are the building blocks of everything tangible. Each of them consists of two of the four basic principles hot, cold, dry, and moist. These four elements are sometimes called the Cross of Matter.

To see how the divine light permeates creation, we can turn again to John Dee and his Monas Hieroglyphica, wherein he states:

As is evident from the sixth theorem, FOUR right angles can be considered to be in our Cross, and the preceding theorem teaches that the sign of the Quinary can be attributed to each one of them, the right angles of course being arranged in one way, but maintaining another position. The same theorem explains the production of the hieroglyphic symbols of the number FIFTY. Thus, it is very clear that the Cross generally denotes the Denary; and that in the order of the Latin alphabet, it is the twenty-first letter (whence it was the case that the wise ones called the Mecubalists signified the number twenty-one with the same letter); and finally, it can be considered very simply to be seen as one sign, no matter what kind of, and how much, other power it has. From all of these things together, we see it can be concluded by means of a very good cabbalistic explanation that our Cross can signify to initiates, in a remarkably shortened way, the number TWO-HUNDRED-FIFTY-TWO. Namely, FOUR times FIVE, FOUR times FIFTY; TEN; TWENTY ONE; and ONE, add up to TWO-HUNDRED-FIFTY-TWO; which number we can deduce in still two other ways from our previous statements. Thus we recommend to cabbalistic Tyrians that they scrutinize this same number, studying it in such a brief space, concluding the varied, skillful production of this Master Number to be worthy of the consideration of philosophers. I will not conceal from you here another memorable initiator to the mysteries. Our Cross having suffered itself to be divided into two different letters, and as earlier we considered their numerical virtue in a certain way, we will now compare in turn their verbal power with that cross, because from this may be born LVX (LIGHT), a Word we perceive with the highest admiration, finally and magisterially through the harmony and agreement of the Ternary in the unity of the word.


Dee clearly shows the all-encompassing importance of the divine light, being manifest in the elements and shining through all the worlds.

Having established the four elements, representing the different combinations of the four qualities, we can have a look at the next level, the zodiac. Here we find our four elements in three different modes. We call them ‘moveable’, ‘fixed’ and ‘mutable’, but other systems may recognise these modes as ‘sattwa’, ‘rajas’ and ‘tamas’, or ‘sal’, ‘mercury’, and ‘sulphur’. This leads us to the 12 signs of the zodiac, which, together with their mundane counterparts, the mundane houses, are the representation of all of creation.

We have seen how the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 are symbols of the creation of the world, resulting in the wheel of the zodiac (3 x 4). If we move one step further into the world of manifestation, we find that the number 5 is the number of the planets used in the tradition, except the lights (sun and moon). Together with the sun and the moon, the number of the planets increases to 7 (3 + 4). John Dee shows this perfectly in his Monas Hieroglyph.



 Being the source of everything, the monad divides, adds and multiplies in the constant creation of the universe. Although unknowable, it is essentially pure. Only when manifestation takes place, the essence splits into several different parts. This can be compared to light, splitting  into the colours of the rainbow when shining through a prism. We may note here that a prism is of triangular shape, another indicator for the threefold nature of creation.

Our seven planets, being in a more manifest stage on the path of creation, symbolise these seven parts of divine light or essence. As these planets exist on the material plane and therefore change their positions in time and space, the astrologer can find out how well their essential natures are expressed at any given point. This is known as essential dignity or debility.



 The illustration here shows the table of essential dignities of the planets published in William Lilly’s Christian Astrology, 1659, 2nd edition.

By assessing the level of essential dignity of each planet, the astrologer tries to establish how much of their essence, or their individual part of the divine light,  is available at a particular moment in time. This information enables the astrologer to give accurate judgment. 


11 comments on “LVX – The Light of Creation in Traditional Astrology

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Peter Stockinger, Mark W. Bennett. Mark W. Bennett said: LVX – The Light of Creation in Traditional Astrology « Peter …: Light plays a crucial role in Traditional ast.. […]

  2. Sue Ward says:

    From Blake to Dee to essential dignity – an excellent work of ‘connections’ from what appear to be disparate subjects. So difficult to do with the obvious coherence shown here. Thank you for the *illumination*, food for much thought.

    • Dear Sue
      my intention was to show that traditional astrology is intrinsically embedded in the hermetic arts. To understand how astrology works, one has to look at concepts found in the teachings of cabala, alchemy, magic or even sacred geometry. Astrological masters like Dee or Lilly were highly trained and well versed in these subjects and would have never thought of isolating these subjects from each other.

  3. Sue Ward says:

    Dear Peter

    Yes, I agree, but why do you think that these connections with the Hermetics aren’t made by more astrologers? (As far as can be deduced.)

    Sue Ward

    • Dear Sue
      The main reason seems to be the shift towards a more scientific approach and of course world view per se, which can be traced as far back as John Gadbury. Lilly truly was the last Hermetic astrologer. After the reinstatement of horary the next logical step would have to be the reintegration of astrology into the Hermetic arts and the revival of a magical worldview to embrace Traditional astrology in its entirety.

  4. Sue Ward says:

    Dear Peter

    There are two points I’d like to make, well, questions really.

    Some might argue that the “magical worldview” has already been reinstated by virtue of the New Age. Although I suggest that this was a reaction against the Enlightenment and, in fact, mimicked its perspective.

    Aren’t all of these ‘Ages’ (Enlightenment, Reason, Scientific, etc.) just glorified fads that have passed or will pass? I mean this in terms of the greater Jupiter-Saturn cycles.

    Sue Ward

    • Dear Sue
      The term of New Age seems to be a problematic one. Although it originally leads us back to William Blake, who used it already in the early 19th century, it seems to me that it rather creates thoughts of Findhorn, crop circles and Hair, the musical. Another problem is, of course, the definition of the correct date for the beginning of the Age of Aquarius, which would lead us into this New Age. As for my opinion if humanity is already on the way to blissful happiness and eternal peace, I quote from a headline found on the net the other day: “10 million people expected to buy Modern Warfare 2 video game which involves massacring civilians for “fun””. I don’t think I need to say any more about this.
      It is, on the other hand, an intriguing thought to see these ‘developments’ through the lens of the Jupiter-Saturn cycles. Knowing that you have studied these closely, I would be very interested to hear your opinion on the subject.

  5. Sue Ward says:

    Dear Peter

    Not wishing to burden your web log with an essay, I would simply say that the ‘New Age’ that I mentioned was that which developed largely from Blavatsky and others. The ‘New Age’ of (e.g.) Blake was truly a new age: that which began in 1802 with the first Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in the Earth triplicity. Each of these cycles begins a new age (note lack of initial capitals) and we have recently begun yet another.

    Human nature doesn’t change, but attitudes do. We usually respond positively to widely held perspectives, e.g. slavery, votes for women, and so on. However, that doesn’t hold true for everyone as we well know. In the same way, we astrologers still doubt the veracity or validity of the ancient mystery traditions – the Age of Reason still enthralls us.

    Your weaving together magical concepts as you did, clearly demonstrates the interconnectedness of Life and Creation. Why more astrologers don’t make or seek these connections I don’t know; perhaps we are still conditioned by the New Science rather than the New Age.

    • Dear Sue
      It is definitely of interest to follow the New Age development from Blavatsky onwards, and with it Theosophy per se, which leads us into the direction of Rudolf Steiner’s Antroposophy movement and other, more esoteric orders like the Ordo Templi Orientis, for example, of which Franz Hartmann, a former member of HPB’s inner circle, was a co-founder. (Let me just mention here that I am glad that you brought one of the few women concerned with spiritual development into this discussion, as it sometimes falsely seems that the history of occultism has only been written by men.)
      To truly appreciate the dimensions of this development and to embrace another level of interconnectedness, one has to take into consideration that Blavatski herself was hughely influenced by Proclus’ Commentary on the Timaeus of Plato. It shows that themes like the constant creation, the concept of a holy trinity or the realisation of simultaneous immanence and transcendence of deity are rather universal.
      You say that people are still conditioned by the New Science and I totally agree with you. Perhaps it would help if more people would realise that, in the final analysis, science is only another belief system. (Concerning these matters there is an interesting discussion to be found at Isthar’s Gate at:, which is worth having a look at).

  6. Sue Ward says:

    Dear Peter

    “Science is only another belief system.” I agree that in many ways and for many people it is. As with ‘New Age’ beliefs, ‘New Science’ has entered into popular culture with only a vague understanding of its real value. This isn’t surprising because, unless one is scientifically educated it is difficult to understand and most scientists aren’t particularly interested in clarifying. Therefore we *have* to believe that the New Science has our best interests at heart and is indeed a valuable addition.

    In terms of the spiritual or esoteric aims of the New Age, they have mimicked scientific aims in that all tenets have to be proved by replication. Nothing of the previous body of wisdom could be trusted unless it could be proved. This is very clear in astrological literature of the early 20th century published by the Theosophical Society. Initially, those astrologers – notably Alan Leo – didn’t intend to re-make astrology, but it became increasingly evident that they didn’t have enough information with which to understand the subject. That information that they had, including Lilly’s “Christian Astrology” was jettisoned as superstitious. Gradually, their world view took over and they set about proving its validity astrologically – they NEVER succeeded and admitted to that.

    Like children with a new toy, they pulled astrology apart and, when they tried to rebuild it, found that there were lots of nuts and bolts remaining. Not knowing what to do with them, they threw them away. However, when they detached astrology from the Hermetic arts, it was a little like removing the drive shaft from a car; it wouldn’t go where they wanted it to and thus proving that astrology was a valid study become increasingly difficult.

    Far more important that any of this is the story of Creation, as you have brought up in this article. Without an understanding, or acceptance, of this as the basis of astrology, not only is there no drive shaft, but there is no engine either!

    Sue Ward


    Anna Kingsford is a woman of great note in the development of spirituality. Her influence upon the founder members of the Golden Dawn, itself hugely influential in these matters then as now, is rarely emphasised. She was highly regarded by those men.

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