Science, Tech, Math › Science Phosphorus in Alchemy The what symbol for phosphorus means Share Flipboard Email Print Phosphorus Alchemy Symbol. Todd Helmenstine, sciencenotes.org Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated February 08, 2018 Phosphorus is one of the elements that had its own alchemy symbol. Alchemists felt that light represented the spirit. The non-metallic element phosphorus was of interest because of its apparent ability to contain light, as evidenced by the characteristic glow-in-the-dark phosphorescence of phosphorus compounds. Pure phosphorus also has the ability to spontaneously burn in air, but the element was not isolated until 1669. Phosphorus was also an ancient name for the planet Venus, when seen before sunrise.