Occult order of planets

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The occult order of planets follows the ancient geocentric Ptolemaic system, in which the planets Mercury and Venus are reversed in the order compared to today's representations according to the heliocentric system:

Moon - Mercury - Venus - Sun - Mars - Jupiter - Saturn

The occult order of the planets forms the basis for the so-called Chaldean series, which is still used today as the basis for the order of our weekdays. Rudolf Steiner pointed out several times that the order of Mercury and Venus had been exchanged, and that this had been done deliberately by medieval occultists for reasons of secrecy. In truth, esoterically, Mercury should always be addressed as the morning star (Greek Φώσφορος, Phosphoros, "light bearer", "light bringer"; Latin Lucifer), since it decisively determines the second half of the earth's development. In this sense, based on the statements in the New Testament in Rev 22:16 EU and 2 Pet 1:19 EU, the Christ himself was called the morning star.

„I, Jesus, have sent my angel as a witness to the things concerning the churches. I am the root and tribe of David, the shining morning star.“

For this, the saying "Christus verus Lucifer", which was later no longer understood, was coined:

„In the first times of Christianity they had a saying which was: "Christus verus Lucifer", Christ is the true light-bearer - because Lucifer means light-bearer. Why is Christ called the true light-bearer? Because now through him has been justified what before was unjustified. In former times it was a tearing apart; people were not yet ripe for independence. Now, through the I-impulse which they received through the Christ Jesus, people were so far advanced that they could develop in love for one another in spite of the I. Thus what Lucifer wanted to give to humanity in anticipation, so to speak, when it was still immature, was brought to humanity by the true Lightbearer, by the Christ Jesus. He brought the impulse to independence, but also the spiritual love that brings together what is not related by blood. Through him came the epoch when humanity matured into what Lucifer had earlier wanted to bring about. This saying: "Christus verus Lucifer" was later no longer understood. He alone who understands it correctly comes to know the first teachings of Christianity.“ (Lit.:GA 104, p. 148)

„There we have in the old time gods and folk spirits, we have group spirits, and within the groups they create through the law order. There what is related by blood loves each other, and it loves each other in that love is implanted by natural laws. And the further back we go, the more we find that all this is regarded as belonging together, that all loves each other which has been implanted with love by natural laws, by external forces of form. The Jehovah principle worked in the same blood, hence the belonging together. Then Jehovah lived and created order and harmony through this kinship, which is related to the blood. And those who worked against him, who directed their strongest attacks against the principle of blood relationship, these were the Luciferic entities. They always want to place man at the centre of his own personality, they want to tear him out of his blood relationship until the time when Christ comes and places him entirely at the top of his personality by giving his innermost strength, making wisdom and grace the innermost impulse of his being. And this has been prepared for a long, long time by the Luciferic entities. Man only became mature for what these luciferic entities wanted when Christ descended. Those who professed such views knew well what they were saying when they uttered the words: Christus verus Luciferus, Christ is the true Lucifer. - That is an esoteric saying.“ (Lit.:GA 105, p. 105f)

In his lectures on "The Apocalypse of St. John" (GA 104) Rudolf Steiner further remarked concerning the interchange of Venus and Mercury:

„Here I come to a place where we must, so to speak, reveal a little secret which, in essence, may only be revealed at this point. For in occultism, for those who would only misuse spiritual science, and would have misused it especially in older times, there has always been what one might call a mask. They did not express themselves directly, but put up something to conceal the true state of affairs. Medieval esotericism knew no other way to help itself than by crude means. It called Mercury Venus and Venus Mercury. In truth, if we want to speak in the sense of esotericism, as the apocalypticist did, we should address Mercury as the morning star. By morning star he means Mercury: I have given your I the direction upwards, through the morning star, Mercury. - You can also find in certain books of the Middle Ages, which are really accurate, that the stars of our planetary system are enumerated in this way: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and the Earth is not followed, as now, by Venus, Mercury, but conversely by Mercury, Venus. Hence it is said here: "As I have received of my Father; and will give him the morning star."“ (Lit.:GA 104, p. 83)

In the lectures on "Spiritual Hierarchies and their Reflection in the Physical World" (GA 110), in which Rudolf Steiner talks about the planetary spheres, among other things, it is said:

„Now you will be astonished at the order of the individual planets as I have given it. If the Earth is here and the Sun here, you would think that I should draw Mercury near the Sun here and Venus here. But that is not correct, for the two planets have been confused as to their names by later astronomy. What is called Mercury today is called Venus in all ancient teachings, and what is called Venus today is called Mercury in all ancient teachings. So, mind you, one does not understand the old writings and the old teachings if one refers what is said there about Venus or Mercury to what is meant today by the same names. What is said about Venus must be referred to the present Mercury, and what is said about Mercury must be referred to Venus, for these two designations were later confused with each other. On the occasion when the world system was turned upside down, when the earth was stripped of its central position, not only was the perspective changed, but Mercury and Venus were allowed to clatter around each other in relation to the old designations.“ (Lit.:GA 110, p. 100)

The Occult Order of the Planets in the Spatial Image (drawing from GA 110, p. 99)
The Occult Order of the Planets in the Spatial Image (drawing from GA 110, p. 99)

Rudolf Steiner's depictions seem to indicate a spatial interchange of Venus and Mercury. In fact, however, the occult system is not based on the external spatial arrangement of the planets according to increasing distance from the Earth or the Sun, which could not yet be determined with sufficient accuracy in antiquity, but was oriented towards the planetary rhythms and indirectly deduced the distances from them. The order of Mercury and Venus remained quite controversial, as Nicolaus Copernicus also reports in De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium:

The Mercury hexagram from a geocentric point of view. The yellow circle symbolises the apparent Suns orbit.
Schematic representation of the Venus pentagrams from a geocentric point of view.

„That the fixed sphere of the stars is the highest of all visible things, I see no one doubting. The ancient philosophers wished to determine the order of the planets according to their periods of revolution, giving as a reason that when several bodies move with equal velocity, those which are farther off seem to move away more slowly, as is proved by Euclid in Optics[1]. Therefore they believe that the Moon, being nearest to the Earth, moves in the smallest circle, and completes its revolution in the shortest time; but Saturn, being the highest, traverses the largest orbit in the longest time. Below this is Jupiter, followed by Mars. But of Venus and Mercury there are different opinions, because they do not, like those, move away from the sun through all degrees. Therefore some place them above the Sun, like Timaeus in Plato, others below it, like Ptolemy[2] and a good part of the moderns[3]. Alpetragius[4] places Venus above the Sun, and Mercury below it. Since those who follow Plato think that all the planets, being otherwise dark bodies, shine through the light received from the Sun, those planets, if they were under the Sun, would have to be seen half round, or at least not completely round, because of their distance from the Sun, which is not very great; for they would usually show the received light sideways, i.e. towards the Sun, as we see this with the waxing and waning Moon. They also say that the Sun should sometimes be darkened by their interposition, and that the light of it should suffer a loss according to its size; but as this is never noticed, they are of opinion that they never come to stand under the Sun. On the other hand, those who place Venus and Mercury under the Sun defend their view by the size of the space they find between the Sun and the Moon.“

Nicolaus Copernicus: De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, Book I, Chapter 10 [5]

If one arranges the planets in the geocentric system starting from the Earth according to their sidereal orbital periods (this is the time after which the planet is again close to the same fixed stars for visual observation), the occult order results: Moon (27.3 days) - Mercury (88 days) - Venus (224.7 days) - Sun (365.25 days = 1 year) - Mars (687 days) - Jupiter (4332. 6 days = approx. 12 years) - Saturn (10759.2 days = approx. 30 years).

That the occult order is justified is shown by the effects of the planetary rhythms in human beings and in nature. Thus the number of leaves of the lotuses, which are organs of the human astral body, is very clearly related to planetary rhythms. In the root chakra the 4 phases of the moon show up, in the sacral chakra above it the three upper and the three lower conjunctions of Mercury (Mercury hexagram) and the navel chakra is based on the Venus pentagram. The same planetary forces are also involved in the design of outer flower forms: Mercury in the 6-rayed flowers (lily family) and Venus in the 5-rayed flowers (rose family).

Crown Chakra Saturn 1000-leaved
Brow chakra Jupiter 2-leaved
Throat chakra Mars 16-leaved
Heart Chakra Sun 12-leaved
Navel Chakra Venus 10-leaved
Sacral chakra Mercury 6-leaved
Root chakra Moon 4-leaved

If one compares the occult order of the planets with the planetary rhythms, one can see that although the order of the planets is reversed compared to today's heliocentric system based on distances, it nevertheless corresponds to Mercury in the occult sense exactly the planet that is also called Mercury today, and the same then naturally applies to Venus, otherwise one would have to speak of a Mercury pentagram and a Venus hexagram, but this is obviously wrong. Furthermore, investigations[6] by means of capillary dynamolysis show that astronomical Mercury only acts on the planetary metal mercury assigned to it and astronomical Venus on copper. These are strong indications that the planets themselves are therefore not reversed!

Although Rudolf Steiner did not point this out separately, it thus follows that the planetary spheres are to be understood primarily as rhythmically ordered periods of time and only secondarily as external spatial areas, which, however, also seems more appropriate to a spiritually oriented view.


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.


  1. Euclidis optica ex trad. Theonis. Theor. 56. Prop. 57.
  2. Almagest Lib. IX, Cap. 1.
  3. Alfraganus. De rudimentis astr. Diff. XII. u. XXII.
  4. Alpetragi blühte zu Marocco 1145—1154, confr. Weidler's hist, astron. Viteb. 1741. pag. 217, sein Theoricum physicum hat Calo Calonymus in's Lateinische übersetzt, (Venetiis 1531), confr. Gehler's phys. Wörterbuch VII. p. 537 und Hipler Spiceleg. Copern. p. 135.
  5. Nicolaus Coppernicus aus Thorn über die Kreisbewegungen der Weltkörper. Ueber die Ordnung der Himmelskreise
  6. Agnes Fyfe: Die Signatur der Venus im Pflanzenbereich. Kapillar-dynamische Untersuchungsergebnisse III, Verlag Freies Geistesleben, Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 978-3772506857, p. 84f