Contemplating the hidden good of the center, I thought of this familiar quote:
We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot
But it is the emptiness inside
That holds whatever we want.
We hammer wood for a house
But it is the inner space
That makes it livable."
—Tao Te Ching
All Things revolve around or encompass a center. Atoms, cells, people, worlds, systems, galaxies. In my book The Directory of 33 Systems and Solutions for the New Culture I explain that I once asked my Teacher what would define an “ideal reason” on which to center an intentional community striving for the “best existence obtainable,” being that how one defines their best possible existence is so very subjective. The response was “Center it on Respite, for there is ever rest and refuge within the center of All Things.” A five pointed star was drawn, and the number 108 was placed in the center. I was assured that if I examined the star and the central number, I would better understand how the center is a point of “vibrant stillness,” rest, refuge, respite, et al… Here I quote from my book:
I know the number 108 as a number of compassion and refuge, so this made sense. For example, when studying the Chakra system one will find that there are 108 energy lines converging in the Heart Chakra. Any who practices mediation, chanting and breath-work will also be familiar with calm developed through work with the number 108.
In Dharma traditions it is the number of names for God. In Islam, it is the number of God‟s name.
In astronomy, it is recognized for its frequent appearances when comparing the distances and measurements of the Sun and Earth. For example, the diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance from the Sun to the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun. There are also interesting astronomical correlations between Earth and the star Eta Draconis featuring 108. When Eta Draconis was the Pole Star, the cosmic revelation that is the 108 temples of Angkor Wat was constructed. The last temple, in which 108 is heavily featured, is the terrestrial counterpart of the star Eta Draconis, dedicated to those who are “suffering in the ocean of existence” so as to bestow on them “the ambrosia of remedies to win them immortality.”
In Astrology there are 9 planets moving through 12 constellations, which also happens to multiply to 108.
108 is a number of being immersed in or “deep within” sound, or is even a way of understanding sound itself. This may be best demonstrated by the Sanskrit alphabet which has 54 letters in both a Shiva and Shakti, male and female form, for a total of 108. These pairs are mystically associated to the 54 points of intersection on the healing Sri Yantra, symbolically charging it with “all sounds” and linking it to states of extreme peace and healing. In Tantra, a practice of conscious Union, the Sri Yantra is known as a “sonic mandala”. From the permutations of Sri Yantra and the equilateral pentagon (which always has interior angles of 108º) the proportional equation governing the relationship of the notes to the musical scales is derived.
108 is a Harshad number, which is an integer divisible by the sum of its digits. Harshad is a Sanskrit word meaning “bringing a great joy.”
It is also the extension of the first three Powers in math. 1x4x27=108. (1 to 1st power=1; 2 to 2nd power=4 (2×2); 3 to 3rd power=27 (3x3x3).) And shares various relationships to 666, a number of Union and the Sun:
Example: 6²+6²+6² = 108
Aries just wants the sugar rush.
Taurus wants a high-quality selection and a chaise longue for reclining while eating.
Gemini wants at least two pieces.
Cancer craves hot cocoa like Mom used to make.
Leo prefers Godiva. See, it says "diva" right there in the name.
Virgo can tell you how many calories, carbs, and fat grams it has.
Libra will have some if you're having some.
As above, so below. I love that they’ve done this and had to share…
Hold up your 10 fingers. Put down your 5th finger. Four fingers remain raised on the left hand; five on the right. 4 and 5. Or, as they teach in elementary math when learning “the shortcut” for figuring multiples of nine – 45.
This is also the total value of all the numbers on the Lo Shu square. From nine raised fingers or from the numbers one to nine – the same value shows.
Looking through my ever-expanding personal journal on numbers and their associations, I saw that in Hebrew Gematria the name Adam has the normative value of 45. Jehovah (26) plus Eve (19) also has a value of 45. Eve, of course, was told of Knowledge, by the Serpent…
The 9th Letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet is Teth. It means “serpent.” I have drawn a basic form of the letter above by starting at five, and drawing through each of the 9 blocks.
Notice how this serpent is turning inward toward itself. Also notice that it makes 3 1/2 turns from the “tail” in the top-left corner just like the coiled Kundalini.
In the Zohar of Teth it is said, “the good is hidden within it.” The essence of the idea is the potential for actualization. Such as the fetus concealed in the womb (for 9 months!). The soul concealed within the body. The future hidden in the moment. The promise of eternity hidden inside the wheels of incarnation (the Phoenician origin of the letter means ‘wheel’). But maybe most similar to the revelation of the Lo Shu would be the idea of Divine Intelligence as the organizing-good veiled by matter…Heaven hidden within the elements of Nature.
In Hebrew there are nine words/concepts for Beauty with “Goodness” (according to Rabbi Ginsburgh) being the innermost form. This called to mind the Mason’s Square and Compass with the ‘G’ in the middle. The Square and Compass has been called the “Emblem of Beauty,” for they are the tools by which Beauty is formed and Beauty is to be found in their precise middle. (G for Good. G for God. G for Gnosis. Take your pick – they all work.)
The Square and Compass are sometimes rendered in black and white like the Yin Yang. Heaven encircling from Above. Earth measuring portions, below.
This also shows the inherent Peace, Balance and “Good” when the lower worlds are in union with the upper worlds. Or when the Fire of the Heavens (consciousness) circumscribes the Waters of earth (forms). Most importantly (to where I’m heading with this) for the Masons the Square and Compass shows “building toward God” from below, while God’s handiwork descends from Above.
Not surprisingly the interlocked Vs of the Square and Compass forms what once was called the Sigil of Saturn. I mentioned the Sigil of Saturn in my original post on the Lo Shu.
Saturn is the Lord of Time (or our experience-existence within time-space). His symbols are things like the skeleton-structure and the door called Death. He holds the sickle of reaping and can appear rather ominous and adversarial. BUT he’s gotten a bad rap in the modern world. Once upon a time he was associated to a Golden Age of peace and prosperity for Humanity. You can find references in the works of Virgil, Hesiod and Ovid, among others.
In the midst of the Saturn Sigil ‘G’ represents the inherent Beauty and Good expressed through the five elements, organized by and proportioned on Above. The Golden Greatness where material form and spiritual perfection collide.
The planet Saturn corresponds with both “higher and lower Lead” – or Lead as both a metal and a concept. Lead as an alchemical symbol reveals this concept, representing the lusterless Prima Materia or first matter from which the Universe of substance has come forth. That all things are derived of the One Thing and hold the potential to become something greater than they already are speaks of the Union and Peace central to the whole of Creation and implies the potential for transmutation from ordinary Humanity into something greater. Thus the ‘G’ at the center has also been said to represent the Great Work of alchemical transmutation from the dark, heavy of lead into the bright, light of Gold.
I’ve also heard tell that there’s some intriguing Masonic ciphers associated with the Saturn Sigil placed over the Lo Shu – but I’ll save that for another post.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the Lo Shu Square this past week (see previous post). Last night I made a bunch of diagrams to help me see the information and process. I decided to share.
As a reminder, this is the Lo Shu Square, also called the Square of Saturn. Its eight possible rows each sum to 15. And it has a lot to say about the mysteries of time and space and the structure of existence.
The 5 in the center of the Square represents “All Things” or perhaps more accurately, the unity in the middle of All Things. In a different symbol tongue it is very literally the rose in the center of the equal-armed cross; that which is central to all elements; the “Hidden Stone” in the midst of the four directions; the magnetism in the center void of our world. One way of showing this is with the Lo Shu as a compass:
Of course , the center void ultimately represents magnetism. The magnet at the center of the compass that responds to the magnetic forces within the center-void of the earth.
The diagram above is a simple demonstration of how the structure and arrangement of All Things came from the No-Thing. Take away that central ingredient that exists within the All and Nothing remains.
However, if we just take the 5 out of the equation but leave the other digits as they are, it is easy to see that every square added to its opposite produces 10. These are the four Polar Pairs.
But if we use the 5, we can easily produce four true equations that can be used to depict motion around the center when the digits of each equation are connected by a line. (EX: 5+1=6, 5 +3=8) Some have said that this is precisely how the swastika was born.
Given the counterclockwise motion of the branches this is linked this to the “Cycle of Destruction” of the elements. In this case the word ‘destruction’ implies overcoming, diffusion or even, where the ascent of the Human is concerned, liberation or release from.
Because we are not talking about the Wheel of the Year and the created world, the elements are positioned differently than we otherwise would find them. Here, the 5 in the center is Earth. Water comes next in the cycle. A full-circle is made back to Earth.
Consider that Earth can become diffused through Water and muddy it, Earth can impede Water’s flow, or Earth can be used to destroy the impurities in Water (such as filtering water through sand). Where the individual is concerned, the physical (Earth) body can similarly either engage in activities that cloud or block the emotional/astral (Water) body or activities that help to make the emotional/astral body healthy and unburdened. In turn, Water can dampen Fire’s light and warmth, or it can extinguish an unwelcome inferno. Just as the emotions can overcome an individual’s state of consciousness (here represented by Fire), with a lapse into unconscious emotional patterns; or the emotions and sensations can be used like a guidance system to help liberate the Inner Fire. And on like this, around. So that the conscious construct either diffuses or overcomes the mind (Air); and the thoughts of the mind either burden or elevate the vitalizing forces (ether), which then destroys or enriches the physical vessel.
This is how I’d normally place the elements based on the Lo Shu (where the center is the Quintessence, Ether):
This relates to Hermetic material which suggests the first expression of Becoming emerged from No-Thing into Some-Thing with four fundamental properties that are inherent in All-Things within the material Universe. Some sources say these are the four elements, and that the elements are responsible for the qualities or temperaments of the Universe (i.e. Hot, Dry, Cold, Moist). While other sources say that the temperaments actually represent “character traits” of the original conscious expression, and that these became the elements. (EX: In this line of thinking , “I AM came forth in Silence,” is translated as the Universal quality of "cold.”)
There’s insight to be harvested from both ways of thinking, and maybe some additional clarity can be found in this depiction, sometimes called “the key” to understanding Alchemy:
Here, the idea is that the four fundamental properties inherent to the composition of the material Universe are solids, liquids, gases and plasmas. The four elements and the four qualities are then simply descriptions of our experience (of the properties of the central One manifesting the All-Things). So, in other words, we call the “solid-state” (of vibration) “Earth.” If something is solid has encountered Fire, it can become dry (like ash); a solid-liquid is cold. Everything within the boxes represents an intermingling spectrum of expressions. So, for example, Earth infused with Liquid is moist. Scorched Earth is hot.
This reminds me of another eightfold model filed away in my brain that also fits with the Lo Shu Square:
In this arrangement the four fundamental properties of the void’s externalized reflection are Height, Depth, Width and Magnitude. These properties manifest within a spectrum of four phenomenon or abilities – temperature, mobility, solidity and adaptability (i.e. fluidity).
Exploring the arrangement of the fundamental properties of course brought the source of these associations, the trigrams of the I-Ching, to mind. With translations:
Because this has to do with the created world, it is representative of the Wheel of the Year and can be paired with the Yin-Yang Calendar-Wheel given in the previous post, like this:
This shows the fundamental properties relative to the Sun, and the four fixed-signs of the Zodiac, commonly associated to the even-numbers and the spokes of the Wheel of Time (as are the corners of the Lo Shu Square). While the Zodiac signs don’t necessarily align with their traditional elemental association, I did find some interesting correspondences between the rising of the fixed-star associated to each sign and both the trigram and the phenomenon associated to that square. For example, Aldebaran is the “Might of Taurus,” is called the “fiery eye” and brings the heat. Like the environment “Lake,” the sign is also strongly associated to reflection, harmony…and even stagnation.
This reminds of the character-trait grid derived from the trigrams. Heaven creates. Earth receives. The Mind needs arousing. The Heart needs stilling.
Well, this is what I got out of my head last night. As the wheels are still churning, I’m sure more is forthcoming.