Zoso - Jimmy Page's symbol from the Led Zeppelin IV album

On the Led Zeppelin IV album, Jimmy Page inspired the 4 band members to choose symbols to represent their names on the album cover.  The album itself was called these four symbols Four Symbols creating all sorts of difficulty for record companies publishing the name on the record chart.  Page stated that the symbols were taken from common reference texts and Led Zeppelin fans started looking.  Three of the symbols were easily identified, but Jimmy Page's own "Zoso" symbol below proved hard to identify. 

Zoso

I have been researching this for some time, and thanks to assistance from several other individuals I believe we have a simple and rational explanation for Page's symbol.  It is nothing to do with Satan or three-headed dogs guarding the entrance to Hades.  I will show below that the symbol is a sigil for the planet Saturn, the ruler of Jimmy Page's astrological sun sign, Capricorn.  I will also reference texts where you can find the symbol yourself (it will help if you can speak French).

Definitions

Grimoire - a textbook on magic (or magick) 
Sigil - a symbol used in magic (or magick).  The Zoso symbol is a sigil, which may be found in a book of Grimoires (magick).
Symbol - an object, character, or other concrete representation of an idea, concept, or other abstraction.
Rune - letters of early Germanic and Scandinavian alphabets.
Clavicle - key. The Clavicles of Solomon = the Key of Solomon. 
Magick - an act designed to cause intentional change.  The "k" was added by Aleister Crowley to distinguish the practice from showmen at fairgrounds.
Alchemy - early form of scientific investigation into nature, combined with philosophy and mysticism.

Acknowledgements

I didn't uncover all the information on this page myself.  A special thanks to the following people for their assistance in obtaining information about these symbols:

 

Symbols for Other Band Members

First I'll cover the easy stuff, the meanings of the symbols for the other band members.

Robert Plant symbol

Robert Plant - the circle with the feather in it.  This is the feather of Ma'at, the Egyptian goddess of justice and fairness, and is the emblem of a writer (ie song lyrics).  It can be found in "The Sacred Symbols of Mu" by Colonel James Churchward.   It is in Chapter V, on pages 142 and 143.  I've also included a link to the text on www.sacred-texts.com.  This is not a common symbol, but does turn up in Egyptian and Red Indian texts.

The symbols of John Paul Jones, John Bonham and Sandy Denny (who also had a symbol on the Led Zeppelin IV album cover) can be found in The Book of Signs by Rudolf Koch (published by The Limited Editions Club, London, 1930) - pages 32 and 33 have the symbols for John Paul Jones and John Bonham.  Sandy Denny's symbol can be found on page 5.  This book is fairly easy to get - check out your local library or Amazon.  It is worth picking up, it isn't expensive and is a good reference guide.

Note that John Paul Jones' and John Bonham's symbols are easily made and do turn up in different contexts in different places.  You will find these same symbols have several meanings.

Sandy Denny symbol

Sandy Denny - three triangles.  According to Koch it is an old symbol for the Godhead "beyond that nothing is known about it".

 
John Paul Jones symbol John Paul Jones - single circle with 3 intersecting vesica pisces.  Symbolises a person with confidence and competence.  It also appears in various mystery school texts, such as the Rosicrucians.  
John Bonham symbol

John Bonham - three intersecting circles.  Symbolises the man-wife-child trilogy. 

This symbol also appears on The Heirophant Tarot card where the trilogy also symbolises Osiris-Isis-Horus (click on image on the right to see it full size).

Heirophant (38 kB)

Four Symbols album insert John Bonham and John Paul Jones symbols Sandy Denny's sigil
Four Symbols from the album cover, with Sandy Denny's symbol shown next to The Battle of Evermore (on which she sang backing vocals) Pages 32 and 33 from Rudolf Koch's book showing John Paul Jones' and John Bonham's symbols. Sandy Denny's symbol on page 5 from Rudolf Koch's book.

 


Jimmy Page's Symbol

That was the easy stuff, now let's deal with this mysterious symbol of Jimmy Page.  So far I have shown that the symbols for Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham (plus Sandy Denny) are easily found in standard symbology reference books, and the meanings are clearly enunciated.  Jimmy also said that his symbol could be found in a standard dictionary of occult symbols.  This proved not to be the case and thus lead to all sorts of interesting speculation and theories.

For me, researching Page's symbol has been a voyage of discovery and I encourage other people to do the same.  Looking for these symbols brings the researcher into contact with all sorts of books and topics that are on subjects that are not seen daily on TV, or in newspapers, or in general conversation.  The occult is, be definition, hidden.  It is worth trying to understand the concepts behind the symbolism.

Jimmy's trousers - 1973 tour Symbols

It is useful at this point to explain the symbols that appeared on Jimmy's clothing.  Most famous was his dragon suit, and hence many references to Page's symbol being from the Red Dragon text - I will deal more with this below.  There is a Dragon Rouge (Rouge is French for Red) society, and I have extracted the following description from their web page describing the mystical meaning of the dragon:

"The Red Dragon is a mythological entity which exists in all times and cultures. The Dragon can be viewed as a winged serpent. From the perspective of the history of religions the serpent is a symbol of the earth and the underworld. The eagle (and birds in general) are symbols of the heavens. The dragon is a unity of these two fundamental principles. The Dragon is a picture of the Hermetic principle "That which is below is like that which is above and that which is above is like that which is below". In China the dragon is a symbol of Tao, that which is beyond all terms and all polarities (Yin and Yang) but also is the force behind all. The Dragon represents the unknown and the hidden energy in man and in nature. The word dragon comes from the Greek verb derkein which means "to see". The Dragon is the principle of clear seeing: the ability to see things in a new light as they really are, beyond all illusions. For this reason the dragon has great wisdom and power in the myths. The wisdom of the dragon is symbolized by the treasure it guards or the pearl that the dragon carries in his mouth. To find this wisdom and knowledge man must search in his/her inner aspects and in the unknown. In Yoga the dragon is called the Kundalini, the force that is hidden inside man. The Draconian path strives to make this unconscious force and knowledge conscious. "A picture says more than a thousand words" and the symbol of the dragon and the myths about it carries information about how the unconscious can become conscious and how man can evolve."

During the 1973 tour three symbols appeared on Jimmy's jeans, as shown below.  You may see these on Page as you browse through Led Zeppelin photo books.  These symbols are easily identified as astrological symbols.  The Sun sign, ascendant and moon sign are the most important for Astrological analysis of a person's personality.  Refer to standard texts on Astrology if you want to know more about this, and to confirm these astrological symbols.  If you want to check Jimmy's natal chart, the data I have is:

Time of birth: 03:00 GMT
Date of birth: 9 January 1944
Place of birth: Heston, Middlesex, longitude 0° 22' West, latitude 51° 28' North

You can use an astrological text book or software from the internet to get a complete star chart for Page, such as the one I have produced below.  This shows that Jimmy's sun sign is Capricorn, Ascendant is Scorpio, and Moon is in Cancer.

Jimmy Page astrological chart

This establishes a linkage between Page and standard astrological symbols which he used freely.

Leg symbol (This is from a photo on the cover of the bootleg CD "56700 Fans Gathered Together and Boogie", Tampa, 5 May 1973, which has a photo of Jimmy's trousers).

Top - Capricorn, Jimmy's sun sign (Jimmy was born on 9 January) similar to left part of Zoso symbol above.  Note that there are some variations in the styling of this symbol amongst astrological texts.  Capricorn is ruled by the planet Saturn.


Middle - Scorpio, Jimmy's ascendant sign.



Bottom - Cancer, Jimmy's moon sign. 

 

 

At this stage, simply take note that Page has made use of astrological signs on clothing worn on stage.

Tarantura CD Cover

Tarantura is a bootleg manufacturer in Japan, known for releasing high quality Led Zeppelin bootleg CDs.  Robert Godwin had brought this picture to my attention in his book on the Four Symbols.  The following image appeared on their 19 CD box set called Yuzuki.

Yuzuki cover

The Zoso symbol can be clearly seen upside down above the word DAYS.  The symbol to the right of Zoso is the Tarantura label symbol.  There was also a reference to these symbols being from Le Dragon Rouge or The Red Dragon (also called the Grand Grimoire).  I obtained several translations of this work from esoteric archives but was unable to find anything that remotely resembled these symbols, hence discounted any linkage to The Red Dragon for many years.  I was wrong.

Le Dragon Rouge

It turns out that there are quite a few Dragon Rouge texts.  The picture below is probably the book that Jimmy Page obtained his symbol from (see link on eBay, France).  This is an 1850 reprint of a 1521 text of The Red Dragon and The Black Hen, including the secrets of Artephius, the secrets of Cleopatra and how to make yourself invisible.  The book sold on eBay for €350.  The collections of symbols are reproduced almost identically in more readily accessible texts, see "Grimoires et rituels magiques" below.  The Zoso symbol is on page 51 in a collection of symbols applicable to the planet Saturn (ruler of Capricorn, Jimmy Page's astrological sun sign).  I have no idea how you would obtain a copy of this book, other than through specialist occult second-hand bookshops.

Le Dragon Rouge

Le Dragon Rouge title page

 

Grimoires et rituels magiques

The set of symbols from the Tarantura CD cover, which includes Page's Zoso symbol, can be found in a French collection of grimoires.  This book is readily available (1972 and 1998 editions, check out the French Amazon site) and Mr Joseph Peterson told me that the symbols can be found on page 127.  As the book is in French (I am not aware of English translations) it is not in my local library.

Grimoire book

Details of the book:  title is Grimoires et Rituels Magiques, author is Francois Ribadeau Dumas, publisher P. Belfond in Paris in 1972 (and 1998).  ISBN:  978-2714436047 or 2714436048.

The symbols are in Dragon Rouge Chapter 10 - the Secrets of the Scientist Artephius.  I don't know much about Artephius.  It seems he was a 13th century alchemist, and one of the influential authors on which later works were based.  Apparently he had the formula for the elixir of life, and may have lived for a thousand years (from the 2nd century to the 13th century)!

The collections of symbols below are identical to those in Le Dragon Rouge text above, including the heading above the symbols stating that they relate to the planet Saturn.

The relevant pages from Chapter 10 are shown below (click on the image for a larger view):

Chapter 10

Using the marvels of Babelfish we can translate these pages into English, and this reveals a collection of astrological symbols relating to the planets:  Sun (soleil), Moon (lune), Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn (note:  7 sets of symbols).  The Zoso symbol appears in the collection for Saturn, translating from French:

French English
Pour Saturne, appliqué au samedi

For Saturn, applicable to Saturday

Saturne préside à la vie des hommes, il la prolonge ou la termine, il la rend heureuse ou pénible.
Saturn rules over the lives of the men; it lengthens or shortens life; it makes their lives happy or painful.
Les signes que nous venons de donner et la puissance qui appartient aux planètes doivent diriger les Mages dans leurs opérations d'alchimie ou d'astrologie, comme ils servaient à Artéphius dont le talent principal a été de se procurer des richesses et une longue existence pour en jouir.
The signs which we have just given and the power which belongs to planets must direct the Magi in their operations of alchemy or astrology, as they were used for Artéphius whose principal talent was to get wealth and a long existence to enjoy it.

Using this document as the key, you will see that the three lines on the Tarantura album cover are the symbols for Venus and Saturn (I haven't been able to identify the source for the first line, but it isn't important to me).  Note that Capricorn, Jimmy's astrological sun sign, is ruled by Saturn.  This book would seem a likely reference source for Jimmy Page to view Saturn sigils and select his symbol - except that the book wasn't published until 1972 and the Led Zeppelin IV album cover was put together in mid-1971.  We can speculate on whether Page had access to an early manuscript or whether he referenced another source of these sigils.

Le Triple Vocabularire Infernal

Mr Peterson from from esoteric archives (there is lots of good stuff on this website, I recommend the CD to those interested in studying the occult) also brought the following to my attention.  This is page 31 from a rare 19th century dictionary of symbols called Le Triple Vocabulaire Infernal Manuel du Demonomane, by Frinellan (a pseudonym for Simon Blocquel), published by Lille, Blocquel-Castiaux, 1844.

Frinellan font cover   Frinellan page 34

The Zoso symbol can clearly be seen in the bottom left.  This book is very hard to get.  It sells in Europe for 450 Euros in specialist collectors book shops.  This book is again in French but there is very little in the book explaining the symbols.  The translation from Mr Joseph Petersonrelating to these "talismans" on page 30 is:

Characters. - The majority of talismans owe their virtues to the sacred characters that the ancients regarded as a sure defense. The famous ring of Solomon, who subjected the geniuses to the will of this king magician, owed all its force to the kabbalistic characters. (For these characters see the following page). The works which treat on this matter are: the Clavicles, the Red Dragon, Enchiridion, the Treasure of the old man of the Pyramids, etc.

I subsequently obtained a full copy of the book from the British Library imaging service.   A copy of the book can be viewed at their reading room in St Pancras (London), but you still have to pre-order the book in advance.   However, the imaging service is very helpful.  The shelfmark number is 08632.de.3 and the other details you have above.  It cost me £27 to obtain the book on CD (it is in French).

Using the Dumas book, we can see that the 6 lines in the Frinellan book are symbols for Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus and Saturn (Jupiter is skipped for some reason).  Frinellan's work appeared over 100 years before Dumas.  These are collections of Grimoires, and clearly are based on earlier works.

Occult Reference Sources

Le Triple Vocabulaire is a dictionary of symbols, and states openly that information was taken from other sources.  I, and others, have checked out many of the sourced referenced above, and I will mention some of these below along with those referenced in Frinellan.  Many of these texts can be found on the internet, or obtained on CD.  However, the sources that have symbols closest to Page's symbol (ie Le Triple Vocabulaire, and Cardan's 1557 work) are not easily obtainable.  I believe that Page probably took his symbol from Le Dragon Rouge (1850 publication).  The Dumas book is a more accessible text and seems to have similar informatin to the older text.

A general note - many of these texts reference back to religious texts pre-Christian era.  These are the ancient Kabbalah, the religion of the Jews and King Solomon.  The roots of the Rosicrucians and Freemasony can be traced back to these texts.  There is a mixture of profound truths, and utter rubbish.  Good sources on the web for these texts are:

Do what Jimmy Page wanted you to do, and read some of these books!  Most can be downloaded as PDF, or obtained relatively cheaply on CD from these sites.  Remember, this is a mixture of truly fascinating occult information, and utter gibberish.

I haven't found these symbols in any of the following texts, but there may well be other earlier works in which the Zoso symbol appears.  It may well be in another French book.  I have reviewed:

  • The Red Dragon = Le Dragon Rouge = The Grand Grimoire, sometimes with The Great Clavicle of Solomon.  You can find The Grand Grimoire here and also here, in several versions.  Esoteric archives CD also has several versions.  There are quite a number of Le Dragon Rouge texts, many of which I checked out and didn't contain the symbol.  Le Dragon Rouge of Artephius is the one required.
  • The Black Pullett (La Poule Noire) = The Black Screeching Owl = The Treasure of the Old Man of the Pyramid. This text is referenced by Frinellan, and characters in the book do have a lot of similarities to the symbols in Frinellan.  Also see text on Wikipedia for the Black Pullett .
  • Enchiridion Leonis Papae (1740) - no symbols found in here.
  • Agrippa - a classical writer on alchemical subjects, and referenced by Frinellan.  The symbol style looks very similar to that in Frinallen, but I cannot find any matching symbols.  This can be found on Esoteric Archives, also here.
  • Grimoires on Hermetic Resource site:  Greater and Lesser Key of Solomon; Ars Paulina; Ars Almadel; Ars Nova; Ars Notoria; Grimoire of Armadel; Grimorium Verum; Sacred Book of Abramelin the Mage; Arbatel of Magic; Heptameron; The Grand Grimoire; The Black Raven; Grimoire of Honorius; Sword of Moses; 6th 7th and 8th books of Moses; The Black Pullett; Secret Grimoire of Turiel; Libellus Magicus.
  • Elipas Levi on Hermetic Resource site.
  • The Book of Ceremonial Magic by Arthur Edward Waite (1913), online here, an excellent summary of the main grimoires above including The Grand Grimoire, Black Pullett and Clavicles of Solomon.
Still to be checked:
  • The Green Butterfly, and The Queen of Hairy Flies (if indeed these texts are different from The Black Pullett - may simply be different editions) as referenced by Frinellan.  I haven't found these books yet online (if they are identical to The Black Pullett, that would explain why I haven't found them).
  • Jimmy Page published a book called The Goetia, which is part of The Lesser Key of Solomon (also called The Lemegeton).  I haven't checked this book, but it may also have some references to the Zoso symbol.  (Thanks to G. Strohecker for this information).

Cardan, Ars Magica Arteficii, 1557

The linkage between Jimmy's symbol and the planet Saturn was first brought to my attention by Robert Ansell and this is the earliest reference I have found to the symbol and the planet Saturn.  Jerome Cardan was 16th century hermeticist, and he produced a classical 1557 work entitled Ars Magica Arteficii.  This book is now out of print and highly sought after, but no doubt Page had access to a copy when Jimmy owned the Equinox bookshop.  The symbol can be easily found in the book "Dictionary of Occult, Hermetic and Alchemical Sigils" by Fred Gettings, published in 1982 by Routledge & Kegan Paul, ISBN 0-7100-0095-2.  You should be able to get Fred Gettings book through your local library.  I haven't seen the Cardan original.  Note that the symbols in Gettings dictionary are his own line drawings - they are not Cardan's originals.

In the section "Planetary Symbols" on page 201, under Sigils, for planet Saturn, Cardan's 1557 symbol is similar to the Zoso symbol above.  Nothing else is even vaguely similar. Click on the thumbnail below for a larger view:

Saturn Sigils (42 kB)

Jimmy's astrological sun sign is Capricorn, which is ruled by the planet Saturn.  Cardan's symbol above is a magickal symbol for Saturn.  As a side note, Cardan's Father was a friend of Leonardo da Vinci and Cardan was also accused of Heresy for having cast the horoscope of Jesus Christ.  

Cardan image Zoso from Triple Vocabulaire Zoso
Cardan, 1557, symbol for Saturn (as given in Fred Gettings dictionary of occult symbols). Symbol from Le Triple Vocabulaire Infernal, and Dumas' Grimoires et rituels magiques. Page's symbol as it appeared on the Led Zeppelin IV album cover, 1971.

 

Artephius

I am currently trying to find out more about Artephius.  The origin of the Zoso Saturn symbol can be traced back to Cardan or Artephius from the 16th century or earlier.

Further analysis of Page's symbol

I have included these notes from past analysis.  These pre-date me finding the Cardan, Dumas and Triple Vocabulaire references.  A number of other authors (eg Godwin) have attempted to show that the symbol is made up of astrological symbols for Saturn, Jupiter and perhaps Mars or Mercury.  This may be the case - symbols were often made up of other symbols, just as words are composed of individual letters.  The focus on my research is on identifying the source of Jimmy's symbol and not speculating on what the deeper meaning of the symbol could be.  However, Cardan or Artephius had a reason for drawing the sigil in a particular way.  A thorough understanding of the deeper meaning behind the symbol for Saturn will require becoming a student of the occult (you could start with BOTA).

I welcome further elucidation on the meaning of the elements making up this sigil.

Page:Zoso Cardan: Cardan image
Let's look at the two symbols in more detail. Not an exact match, but pretty good except for the bottom piece. I do not profess in any way to be an expert on alchemical signs!
zoso1.jpg (1652 bytes) This is undoubtedly the symbol for Capricorn, Jimmy's sun sign. This is similar to the modern day symbol used by astrologers for Capricorn.  Remember, Saturn is the planet associated with Capricorn.
zoso2.jpg (1891 bytes)

I have received a number of interpretations on this part of the symbol, one of the most convincing is that it is 666, as per extract from Crowley's Equinox below. The two 0's with dots represent 6, and the middle S also stands for 6.
Equinox extract

It also appears to be similar to the alchemical sign for Mercury (page 346 of Fred Gettings Dictionary of the Occult):

Mercury
Given that it was part of the original Cardan symbol it must have been related to Saturn in some way, and could also have related to the rings which gave Saturn the appearance of changing shape to early astronomers in the same way that the metal Mercury is a liquid at room temperature and changes its shape as it rolls round a flask.

A single circle with a dot in the centre is a well known symbol for the Sun.  The S could represent Saturn revolving around the sun.

zoso3

This has been the most puzzling part of the symbol, and I have struggled to find any matching symbols for it.  There is a similarity to::

Cancer symbol
which is the Symbol for Cancer (Spiegelberg 1911, page 73 of Fred Gettings' Dictionary).  Cancer would make sense being Jimmy's moon sign, but this is just speculation.

Why did Page select this symbol?

In the absence of a statement from Mr Page himself, we can continue to speculate on why Jimmy selected this particular symbol from a collection of symbols for the planet Saturn.  The reasoning thus far is that Page wanted a symbol for his astrological Sun sign, Capricorn.  Going to a reference text on sigils for Saturn (the ruler of Capricorn) makes perfect sense.  But there are at least a dozen other symbols that he could have selected. Why not pick the first?  Why pick this particular one?

Grazioso guitar

I received this explanation from mackedelic (LEDHED), which makes perfect sense to me.  Jimmy Page's first guitar was a 1959 Futurama Grazioso (Grazioso is also a musical term meaning "gracefully") which his parents bought him when he was 12 years old. 

Perhaps as Page reviewed these symbols for Saturn, he didn't see zoso but "zioso" (the zoso3does look a bit like an "i").  A symbol that not only represented Saturn, but also seemed to spell out part of the name of his first guitar.

Perhaps we have been wrong saying "zoso" all these years, and should be saying (gra-) "zioso".  Only Mr Page himself can confirm or deny this.


Appendix - Weird rumours and speculation

There are many weird and wonderful explanations on the web for what Jimmy Page's symbol means.  Frequently there are references to 666 and Satan.  Do not believe everything you read on the internet.  Don't believe what you read on my page - find the reference books above and do some research yourself (and if you find any errors on my page, please let me know).

One of the common rumours that you will find on the web is that the mirror image of the Zoso symbol is for Cerberus (Cerberos, Kerberos), the three-headed dog that guards the entrance to Hades.  I have been unable to trace the source of this information and currently regard it as fanciful speculation.  I remain open to anyone who can point me to an occult reference text that substantiates this claim.

Zoso
Cerberus
Cerberos
Zoso sigil forwards
Zoso sigil mirror image
Depiction of Cerberus - does this look like Zoso?

Another fandom rumour from the Straight Dope page is that it symbolises a near-death experience, or a Tantric-sex experience to unify the worlds of the living and the dead and thus reveal the secrets of the Universe!

Frying Tonight - in 1994 Page and Plant were interviewed on the Denton TV show in Australia and when Denton asked the audience for questions one keen guy asked "Jimmy - what does your symbol mean?" to which Robert Plant quickly retorted "frying tonight".  This is the catch-phrase of Kenneth Williams from the 1966 movie "Carry on Screaming".  No doubt a favourite movie of Plant's, but not helpful in the quest for the truth of Jimmy's symbol!  (Thanks to Anthony for this piece of information).

© In the Light, 22 May, 2008