Image from www.ivodominguezjr.com
Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans, by Ivo Dominguez Jr.
Practical Astrology is a treasure trove of tools for the magical practitioner to incorporate into their Work. It explains the main concepts behind the planets, aspects and signs and how those can be utilized for effective spell work; rituals and magical ventures. Pagan cosmology and symbolism is not forgotten or sterilized by the compartmentalization of Jungian archetypes. The mythology and occult symbolism of Indo-European cultures, which are the foundation for the oldest of magical practices is the focal point of this work. While there are numerous works detailing the inner mathematical workings and formulas used to comprise natal charts, Dominguez focused on the role that these forces play particularly in regard to spell work and ritual. For me, astrology was always something on the periphery of whatever else I was studying. I could see its widespread influence on Western Esotericism and occult practice, but I always gravitated to the more primal ways of folk magic and witchcraft. However, understanding these Universal forces from a Pagan perspective adds to their complexity and usefulness within the practice of magic.
Learning the language of the cosmos
Dominguez starts with a comparison of astrology to a nuanced spiritual language, the likes of which we find in Eastern mysticism in sacred languages like Sanskrit. When we think of sacred language in the West, the only thing that comes to mind is Latin, and the Native tongues of North American Indian Tribes. However, Latin does not contain the same layers of nuance that other sacred languages like Hebrew and Sanskrit, which also act as maps and containers of the subtle reality that is the foundation for the material. These sacred languages have layer upon layer of symbolic associations from numerology to other spiritual correspondences, these sacred languages act as containers for ancient wisdom. Although, not a written-alphabetic language, astrology still provides a means of communication with the ideas contained by its symbols. Not only does it allow for those who understand the language to communicate more obscure metaphysical concepts between one another, but it also serves as a means of communication with the greater cosmic forces of our Universe.
The way that Dominguez presents and explains these ideas about the astrological system is done so in a way that is easy to understand for the beginner, but also resonates with a deeper understanding of those who already have a large spiritual vocabulary. He describes the planets based on their linguistic etymology, which communicates the same idea as its Greek origin. The planets are celestial bodies that occupy one of the highest spheres in the Heavens, they are just beneath the impersonal and primal powers of the fixed stars. When we look at the model of our solar system from a hierarchical point of view, the planets are one level below the fixed stars and are also seen as celestial lights whose forces influence the patterns of life on Earth. The Signs, which Dominguez differentiates from the constellations themselves act as filters for the light of the planetary forces. As planets move through the signs, the planet’s energy or light passes through the filter of that particular sign which adds another layer to the forces being emitted.
Pixabay Free Images.
The study of correspondences and the Doctrine of Signatures allows us to collect more symbols for the forces that we seek to work with. By studying and understanding the relationships between corresponding forces and their material magica we are internalizing these ideas creating new connections within our sacred vocabulary. The more correspondences that we can internalize the more connections can be made; the more connections one can make with these subtle forces the stronger the foundation of one’s magic, having numerous threads to weave together as opposed to a single one. As magical practitioners we follow the stations of the Sun through the Wheel of the Year, and our magic is deeply influenced by the phases of the Moon. Astrology for magical practitioners is about more than mathematical charts and horoscopes. It is a sacred science that trains us to read the subtle microcosmic patterns of the Universe.
This ability to read and understand the patterns in the sky brings us more in sync with the wider cosmos. It greatly enhances the two-way communication between the Witch and the Universe by teaching us to more effectively communicate with the subtle forces around us. I love how Dominguez describes the solar system as an immense “celestial being,” which fits perfect with the Hermetic axiom ‘as above, so below,’ one of the most basic laws of magic.
“Within this celestial being, the planets are like its subtle centers that take the Universal flux which contains all things, condensing and focusing that energy and essence into specific patterns and qualities.” – Ivo Dominguez Jr.; Practical Astrology
This idea also supports a pantheistic cosmology which is a common Pagan concept, that views all things as part of the Divine. It is important to note, as Dominguez points out, that the Zodiac is primarily about telling the story of the journey of the Sun through the Twelve Houses. The Twelve Houses lie on the floor of the celestial temple and when a planet is in a certain aspect with a Sign, it will influence the area of life that corresponds to the House the aspect is taking place in. This three-level system fits well with other tripartite systems common in Indo-European Pagan traditions, and could lead to come interesting considerations when looking at the Three Worlds and where they fit into celestial cosmology.
Pixabay Free Images.
Planetary Glyphs as Alchemical Sigils
This was one of my favorite sections in the book because it breaks down each planetary glyph into its individual parts, which is a concept I haven’t come across before, but it seems to be common knowledge to astrologers. I think it would serve magical practitioners just as well, understanding that each planetary glyph is an intentional combination of three primitive shapes, which relate directly to the Tria Prima or Three Primes of medieval alchemy. The circle, the cresent and the cross; represent the soul, spirit, and physical matter or mercury, sulfur and salt. Dominguez expands on this idea and explains to the reader how these symbols come together in each planetary glyph and what their placement means in regard to the planetary force they represent. There is also a similar section that goes through all twelve of the signs of the Zodiac, explaining the layers of meaning hidden in these ancient symbols. The sigillic nature of the planetary glyphs, their occult symbolism and collective egregores that have developed over time make these powerful, yet simple components to be used in spell work.
A large portion of the book is dedicated to explaining the natal chart and the major aspects that can occur, and how those various aspects can be utilized in ritual. There is a detailed analysis of magical timing that goes far beyond basic planetary days and hours. Dominguez details the various signs of the Moon and what magical operations that they support, and introduces the reader to the idea of creating bind glyphs though the combination of two or more planetary symbols, which is very similar to the idea of a bind rune only it combines multiple planetary forces. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to incorporate astrology into their magical practice, as the author’s own voice is of a Pagan perspective. This book was written by a magical practitioner for magical practitioners, since many astrologers are often from various spiritual backgrounds, this provides a much needed perspective.
Ivo Dominguez, Jr.
The author has been an active member of the Pagan and magical communities since 1978, and has been studying and practicing astrology since the early 1980s. He is one of the founding members of the Keepers of the Holy Chalice, which was the fist coven of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, a Wiccan tradition still in existence today. Dominguez currently serves as an elder of the tradition among his other works in the community.