From time to time students ask me about esoteric astrology, and the term solar rays. This post intends to clarify some confusions and trace the evolution of this concept.
At the outset let me acknowledge that the idea of solar rays doesn't play a role in my practice as an astrologer. This is because the concept of solar rays comes out of Vedic spirituality at its deepest roots, and the work of Madame Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, and the Theosophical Society and its descendants more recently. I don't have anything against these origins. My shamanic soul just doesn't resonate with them.
Nonetheless, as with many other aspects of new age twists on ancient wisdoms, the idea of solar rays has come a bit into public consciousness. And so -- because I believe it is good for everyone to have at least minimal knowledge of various spiritual concepts -- here are some basics for you to know.
Confusions and Conflicting Details
The idea of solar rays is very old, and has been translated into English for the Western mind by a number of different people. As such, there are naturally some differences of opinion on some of the details. In fact, one of the main difference is whether there are 7 or 12 rays.
From what I can tell from my research, the idea of 7 rays is the original version. And 7 does neatly correspond to the 7 visible planets known to astrologers before the age of telescopes, as well as to the 7 primary chakras. Alice Bailey, the founder of esoteric astrology, wrote extensively about the 7 rays as dealing with the evolution of the consciousness of the soul, and the obstacles to that growth.
Each ray is associated with a planet, and thereby, by extension, also to a western zodiac sign and once of the 12 houses and the elements. Here in short form are the connections:
Ray 1 = will power = Vulcan* and Pluto, Aries, Leo, Cap
Ray 2 = love / wisdom = Jupiter and the Sun, Virgo, Gemini, Pisces
Ray 3 = active intelligence = Earth and Saturn, Libra, Cancer
Ray 4 = harmony through conflict = Mercury, the Moon, Sag, Taur, Cap, Scorp
Ray 5 = concrete science / knowledge = Venus, Leo, Sag, Aquarius
Ray 6 = devotion / idealism = Mars and Neptune, Sag, Virgo, Pisces
Ray 7 = ceremonial magick / order = Uranus, Aries, Cap, Cancer
* Vulcan is an hypothosized planets said to be closest to the Sun, and used by the ancient Druids in their system of Celtic lunar astrology, which also included some of the fixed stars. I have a book on that to refer you to, if you are interested.
If you are familiar with western astrology, you can see from that list above how the logic of the rays is quite difficult to reconcile with the logic of standard principles.
12 Rays -- Managed by Ascended Masters?
Interestingly, Bailey credited a person she called, mysteriously, The Tibetan or Master DK-- who turned out to be a possibly channeled being named Djwhal Khul -- for her revelations about the solar rays. Later descendants in this theoso-vedic lineage have referred to The Tibetan as an ascended master.
The most recent source I came across, from 2008, provides brief description of an additional 5 rays -- albeit without any traceable source of this information, and no larger context to place this information into so that independent scholars can verify and cross check with other credible sources of spiritual writings. This source, linked for you below, shows no interest in astrological associations, which must make Bailey rather sad after all her hard astro work on the first seven.
Wikipedia claims that the 5 additional rays used to be secret, but also gives no source for that belief, nor why they have become declassified, as it were. They do claim that the rays represent divine qualities, and are managed by a collection of once-human beings -- the ascended masters -- who have become so enlightened that they have escaped the wheel of reincarnation and now live as disincarnate spiritual beings in service to humanity.
Ironically, the term ascended master used for these ancient historic personages only first appeared in 1924 in a book authored by Baird Spalding, although the more simple form of just master is likely several thousands of years old. It is likely that Spalding got this term from the work of Guy Ballard who offered workshops called Ascended Master Teaching, in which Saint German is a central figure. St German presumably manages the 7th ray which apparently relates to the new age, technology, and transmutation, according to Wikipedia.
The trouble with using Wikipedia as a credible source of indisputable knowledge is that anyone can upload an entry. No scholarship or evidence required.
And so, there you have it -- nothing that you always wanted to know about the solar rays in relation to astrology, but an interesting tracing of the evolution of the spread of a quasi-spiritual idea at a point in history that doesn't demand much intellectual grounding for knowledge. But not like I'm kind of a skeptic or anything. I just like to know where the ideas I might invest my belief and trust in come from. I hope you do too.
To learn more, read these links: