Astrology in Alchemy
It is generally agreed that alchemical operations are intended to be performed at astrologically auspicious times, based largely upon the planetary correspondences of the materials upon which work is being performed.
"...every stone, or plant, or animal, or any other thing is not governed by one star alone, but many of them receive influence, not separated but conjoined from many stars"
Traditional Planetary Time
When beginning the discussion of Astrology it is always interesting to point out that the zodiac is a division of the 360o circle of the sky into twelve parts.
Each of the twelve parts (each a 30o arc) is referred to as a sign and each sign is named after one of the principle constellations.
It is generally agreed that alchemical operations are intended to be performed at
astrologically auspicious times, based largely upon the planetary correspondences of the materials upon which work is being performed.
Historically, the influence of planetary bodies upon man was postulated by Vettius ValensLV (circa 120-175 A.D.) in his Anthologia, and Claudius PtolemyLVI (circa 100 – 170 A.D.) in Tetrabiblos; however it is widely believed that the concepts of astrological influence are far more ancient.
Hours Planetary Time
The traditional practice for determining planetary time is quite straight forward, and is based upon the principle that the day of the week and the hour of the day both exert influence upon the success of the work being performed heightened if the planetary day
and time compliment the planetary correspondence of the material being worked.
This influence is astrological in nature and varies with the interaction of each planetary body with the Zodiac. Since this interaction is time dependent, observing a regimen in which beneficial relationships exist between the day and hour and the actual work is
crucial to a successful operation.
The planetary hours are divided into the hours of daylight and the hours of darkness with the length of day time and that of time of darkness being unequal. Planetary time is calculated based upon the time of sunrise and sunset during each day. The time from sunrise to sunset for a given day is obtained from reference materials, and the difference between those times is then divided by 12. For that day, this period then represents the length of each hour of daylight for each planet. Similarly, the hours between sunset and sunrise of the next consecutive day are divided by 12 and this period is the time for each planetary hour of darkness.
Figure illustrates a simple diagram which establishes planetary correspondences of the days of the week which also serves to illustrate how the succession of the weekdays is determined.
Alchemy employs an animist view that all things which exist are possessed of a life spirit, and that this life spirit, operating through the devices of nature, seeks to continually elevate itself to higher levels of existence. The Alchemist seeks to improve upon the actions of nature to accelerate this change.
Alchemy, then might be more correctly defined as an Art and Science which seeks to transmute the base elements of matter and spirit to higher states of being. In this regard, the close relationship between Alchemy and other ancient arts and sciences such as Astrology, Kabbalah, and Theurgy are better understood.