The Seven Planets of the Ancient World Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein Because modern science calls astrology a "pseudo-science," most textbooks ignore how important a knowledge of the planets and constellations was for the ancient and medieval world. Symbols of the Zodiac and the planets permeate so much art, iconography, architecture, and literature that it is important for any student of humanities to have at least a minimal understanding of the beliefs surrounding the heavens. The worldview of an ancient astrologer was geocentric, or earth centered. Someone looking up at the sky from the earth might say, "Hey, I'm at the center of all the action!" So the idea of the "planets" was those seven heavenly bodies that seemed to have an impact on what was going on here on Earth. (We currently understand that the sun is the center of our solar system and hence have a heliocentric view of how the solar system works in the grand scheme of things, which shows the sun as the center of the solar system and Earth as merely one of many planets revolving around it.) Remember that "astronomy" was a study of the stars, planets, and constellations and their movements across the sky, while "astrology" was the ancient science of the influence of all those heavenly bodies on the Earth and on human beings. The seven planets of the ancient and medieval world included two that we now know are not planets at all. The ancients saw the sun and moon as planets that had an effect on Earth, just as they believed the other visible planets of the solar system did. All of these celestial bodies would have been seen as influential in a variety of ways, and in the order in which they would appear from Earth, moving from the nearest to the furthest away. So, from Earth looking outward, the ancient astrologers believed the seven planets of the ancient world, in the order of their influence, were the moon, Mercury, Venus (which, though closer to Earth, would have been seen as having less influence on it because of its wider arc), the sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. (Please note: The names we use for the planets today come to us from the Romans; pre-Roman cultures would have had their own names for the planets based on the gods and goddesses they associated with each of the planets.) Earth >>> Moon > Mercury > Venus > Sun > Mars > Jupiter > Saturn It is these seven planets, the "gatekeepers" of this part of the universe, who may be seen as the "Elohim," or plural creator gods, of the E version of the Hebrew creation story in Genesis. This name for God is used, for example, where the text is translated: "Let us make man in our image." For information on the planetary influences in culture, and on the movements of the planet Venus, see Symbolism of the Number 7. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily