Posts Tagged ‘Lo Shu’

The Hidden Good of the Center

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…

Lo Shu 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.

star compass

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.


Lo Shu 2


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.  


loshu (copy)

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.  Smile

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.

The Lo Shu Matrix

January 25, 2012 1 comment


In the last few months I’ve been researching legends surrounding the last Emperor of China’s mythical period, the Great Emperor Yu.  This research is for another writing project I’ve undertaken, but there’s something I want to share that I think will be of interest to readers here…

Have you heard of the Lo Shu Square?  I was pretty sure I hadn’t until I saw it in its modern, simplified form.  A 3×3 magic square composed of the numbers 1 to 9, with 5 forever in the center, and the four even numbers always in the corners.  I have known it as the magic square of the number 15, also called The Square of Saturn:



As soon as I understood what I was looking at, I knew it was so much more than what I had give it credit for!

The Chinese word Lo is often generically translated as ‘river’, but in this case specifically implies the river Lo.  The word Shu means ‘scroll’.  Legend says that the Great Emperor Yu walked along the river Lo during a time of great flooding to analyze why the river god was refusing the people’s sacrifices to stop the flood.  However, as Yu is most remembered for the engineering feats that gave China control of their waters, his famous walk along the river Lo probably had more to do with analysis and less to do with appeasing a river god.  At any rate, all stories congeal that it was the back of a turtle shell that provided Yu with his answers.  Presumably, what was drawn would have been something like this image that first introduced me to the Lo Shu Square:

Lo Shu tortoise

Note that the black square-dots in the corners represent even numbers.  Because they are black and square-shaped they represent Yin energy.  As such, the four corners are called “the numbers of the earth.” Just like earth has its four cardinal points. The white circles represent odd numbers and Yang energy.  They are called, “the numbers of Heaven.”  The whole thing together is also called the Nine Hall Diagram.  It is said to explain the relationships between earth and Heaven.  It is strongly connected to the nine directions (8 compass points, plus the center), the nine “pure colors” (3 primary, 4 secondary, plus black and white) and the nine temperaments (correlated to the interactions of Hot and Cold).  There are plenty of modern sources which connect the diagram to the  most profound mysteries of time and space.

It seems that Emperor Yu devised a system from this diagram that allowed the region to control their river.  My guess is that it worked with his irrigation canals in a time-based fashion, being used to track the opening and closing of the spillways.  This comes to mind because there are eight planes in which we can arrive at the sum of 15 (3 vertical, 3 horizontal, 2 diagonal) and in the traditional Chinese calendar each month is 15 days, with the 24-month year being mystically divided into three, eight-month periods (called Existence, Different and Same; the three that produce all things according to the Tao).  Thus during each of these three periods it would be easy enough to have associated one of the eight ternary groups to a month.  It is also worth noting that, like the square, this traditional calendar wheel was conceived of as an expression of Yin-Yang:


The first of the three mystical periods starts at the bottom-center of the wheel with New Year’s Day, marked by the  New Moon (this is a lunisolar calendar), and moves left toward the Vernal (Spring) Equinox.  This period is associated to Existence or what the Greeks called ‘Harmony’ or the “preferable middle.”  The next 8 month period is associated to ‘Different’ or, in Greek Philosophies, ‘Proportion’.  Then comes ‘Same’ or, ‘Symmetry.’

In the texts of the Bible, these 24 stations of the Sun are called the “24 Elders,” originally alternating between male and female pairs or “four twins” per 8 month period.  These four divisions or twins roughly align with four zodiac signs, so that each sign is ruled by a male and female “Elder.” They are said to reflect the original four cell-divisions of Human gestation, among other things to do with your existence within time and space, and orientating yourself therein.  (Interestingly, the number 15 belongs to Saturn, who is Lord our existence within time-space.)

The center of the Lo Shu Square is called the undivided and the ultimate, containing within itself all elements and therefore, all things.  And indeed, we find the center symbolized by the number 5, which is the number of elements.  More than symbolized, I guess, as when all numbers are connected in their numeric order, 5 is the central number of the sequence and right where it belongs in the center!  As the zero-point of the diagram, imagine that the undivided center was instead assigned ‘0’.  Unfold from the center the four directions of space.  Now you have five-spaces accounted for, the five Halls of Heaven where odd or Yang numbers would be placed.  This is the cross of the five elements within the square (four around the original one) and defines the “Wheel of Space.”  In each corner, at the four diagonals belonging to the even numbers, fix a pillar or stone of Yin.  These are the posts which turn the “Wheel of Time.”

It is these 8 directions around the center that are said to give birth to the 8 trigrams of the I Ching or “Book of Changes.”  Even so, these 8 trigrams were mystically revealed to the Emperor Fu Xi and actually predate the specific formulation of the Lo Shu Square itself; or more accurately probably presents the original way in which the Square was perceived.   I say this because the 8 trigrams are composed of 24 lines, half are broken and symbolize Yin and half are unbroken and symbolize Yang.  These lines are then stacked in groups of three (hence the word trigram), comprising the 8 symbols, which represent the four basic elements (fire, water, earth and heaven) and the four phenomenon (wind, lake, thunder-storm and mountain).  This calls to mind the eight ternary groups of the Lo Shu that sum to 15, which in essence are 24 digits, half Yin, half Yang, grouped into eight 3 digit arrangements, no differently than the construction of the I Ching.  From here we can arrive at the DNA code and all sorts of other wonders.  Indeed, great mysteries of astrology, astronomy, geography, biology and anatomy can be explained through this specific way of organizing and examining the numbers 1 to 9!

Given the concept of symbolic representation or “As Above, So Below;” it is no wonder that in the time of Emperor Yu everything from the nine provinces of the empire, to the layout of the temples, to the management of time, to the methods of divination, to the arrangement of the “Nine Wells” that dictate how rice is planted and maintained – came to be ruled by the Lo Shu matrix.

Bring into this correlations to the Solfeggio and the Rodin Vortex and what you have is the work of this brilliant site, appropriately called The Lo Shu Matrix!



Saturn's Intelligence