The Tao Te Ching and the mysterious number 4

This post is a continuation of the last post about the Cardinal Cross and Venus’ function within that.  In the post below we went over the idea that Libra and Aries are related to each other symbolically by both celebrating symmetry.  The difference is that Aries likes to fight and be number one.  Aries has to be number one because it just IS number one.  It is the first day of spring when the leaves push through the pavement.

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And there it is- a Y shape – the symbol for Aries. The symbol for the “ONE”

The Tao Te Ching states: “one produced two, two produced three, three produced all numbers”.  If one is Aries then 2 must be Libra.  Libra is opposite Aries.  Libra is female and Aries is male.  Libra introduces the concept of partnership, and the “other”. In the last post we explored the phenomena that Capricorn (the Sea Goat), the 4th sign on the Cardinal Cross, seems to be a marriage between Aries (the Ram) and Cancer (the Crab).

A man (Aries) marries the woman (Libra) and makes a family (Cancer).  It looks a lot like Cancer is number 3, symbolically, in terms of the Tao Te Ching.

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The family is represented as the number 3- after the union of one and two. Aries plus Libra equals Cancer.

In these terms then “all numbers” as stated by the Tao Te Ching would then be society, everyone else in the world.  Families multiply the population of the world and we have a thriving planet of constant expansion.

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People get born and population constantly increases. Man plus Woman equals Family equals Society. Society is the 4th number. The number that represents “all numbers”

So the 4th number is the Capricorn, the Sea Goat, and it represents “all numbers”.  Interestingly enough Capricorn’s planet, Saturn, is displayed as an upside down 4.  In the last post we discussed how the imaginary Sea Goat representing the planet of concrete reality (Saturn) was a bit of a paradox.  But that might make sense because it came out of the magic of Venus (marriage) and Venus to begin with represents opposites and paradox.  And here again, the Tao Te Ching coincides with Capricorn being the 4th number and voila- there it is- just upside down!

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The symbol for Saturn looks like an upside down four.

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Jupiter looks like a four! And symbolically Jupiter represents all things OPPOSITE Saturn. Jupiter EXPANDS while Saturn CONTRACTS.

Psychologically, the ONE could be “I” and the TWO could be “anything I am noticing” making the 3 “my connecting what I notice to some internal truth” and then the FOUR “experiencing the unus mundus, or the one world” where we realize that duality is an illusion.  This is the place of synchronicity that Carl Jung talks about.  It is a “time out of time”.  It is “once upon a time”.

So perhaps that is what lies behind the double paradox of Capricorn, as number four.  The imaginary Sea Goat and the upside down number 4 points to stepping back into a place, even if just for a moment, where we experience the one world.  It is there that we become momentarily disillusioned.  Libra wants to take us there.  The number 2 (Libra) beckons the number one (Aries) to make the number 3 (Cancer) from where we can experience the number 4 (Capricorn).

Libra is also the artist.  Let’s look at how Art can perform this magic.

UnknownArt (#2 Libra) beckons the onlooker (#1 Aries) to make an inner connection (#3 Cancer) in which you experience a momentary glimpse of the interconnectedness of everything (#4, “all numbers” Capricorn).

Makes me want to reread the entire Tao Te Ching!

Venus as beauty and paradox

Venus has surprisingly been one of the hardest subjects for me to start writing about.  That is until I figured out WHY.  It could be very easy to begin with Venus being about harmony and relationships and all things pleasurable, but I wanted to go a little deeper than that.  Then, the other night I was staring at the images of the Cardinal Cross and I realized what I wanted to write about.  Venus is beauty most assuredly, but it is also NOT beauty because it is about opposites.  It is about paradox.  “Not beauty” can easily also be beauty.  It is the concept of AND as well as OR.

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An ancient alchemical drawing depicts four Suns dining on the Cardinal Cross. The ram (Aries), the Lobster (usually the crab for Cancer), the scales (Libra), and the Goat (Capricorn).

Since this is a post about Venus, let’s start with the scales.

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What thoughts come to mind when you see the scales? Perhaps concepts of balance?  Fairness?  Isn’t it interesting that the word “fair” implies both beauty and justice?  When I was looking at the scales the thought that came to me was symmetry.  It was a quick next thought to consider how things that are symmetrical are often beautiful.  Taurus, the sign of nature, is also ruled by Venus.  We find symmetry all over the place in nature.

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Libra brings balance and equality.  Harmony through symmetry.  Our eyes become relaxed as they would when viewing a sunset.  The sign of Libra looks like a setting Sun.  It also looks like the diaphragm when it is relaxed.  The diaphragm relaxes when we exhale.  This is the spirit of Libra. Now let’s look to the opposite sign, the Ram, for Aries, the spirit of independence and conflict!

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The Ram is similar to Libra because it still celebrates symmetrical beauty.  But we all know what the rams like to do…

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Rams will be rams!

They like to fight!  They need to engage in combat.  They need to prove themselves to be BETTER than their opponent.  It is hard wired into their natures.  Their balance is found in conflict.

Onward to the other branch of the Cardinal Cross.  Cancer is the Crab, who’s spirit is that of home and protection.  In the alchemical picture at the top of the page we see Cancer depicted as a LOBSTER instead of a crab and that’s when I realized another key component to that symbol.  The lobster and the crab are often ASYMMETRICAL.  Not only that they are some of the only examples of this in the animal kingdom.

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what is the lesson of asymmetry? And how is it related tot he concept of home and protection?

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The lobster also celebrates the concept of asymmetry.

To further tie this theme back to our original exploration of Venus, it’s hard not to notice how these proportions are still beautiful.

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In the fashion world, the asymmetrical look brings peace to the eyes just as well as the symmetrical look

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Asymmetrical hair says go bold or go home.

Perhaps it is a certain boldness in asymmetry that adds to it’s beauty.  It wakes us up a little from the slumber of too much balance.  Marketing agencies play with these tricks too.

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Volkswagen goes the symmetrical route. Is this to emphasize stability and predictability?

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Apple goes asymmetrical. Perhaps to emphasize innovation and improvement?

Okay, back to the rest of the Cardinal Cross.  The last sign to discuss is the sign of Capricorn, which is the Sea Goat.  The Sea Goat is an entirely fictitious creature.  It is half goat and half fish.  It represents mastery of the physical world.  I find it funny that the only sign of the zodiac that is an imaginary creature is the one that pertains to Saturn, the planet of concrete reality.

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Isn’t she beautiful? And she can do ANYTHING.

But wait, did we say half GOAT half FISH?  Sounds a bit like a MARRIAGE (Venus) between Aries the Ram and Cancer the Crab!  Libra is the only sign on this cross that is not an animal (all air signs are inanimate).  It seems that the action of Libra is to marry the previous signs-  Aries and Cancer.  And from that magical union comes our Sea Goat.  The master of the physical world.  And the final Venusian joke is that this creature doesn’t exist.  Reality (Saturn) is represented by unreality (the Sea Goat).  Venus as paradox.  Venus as beauty.  Where would we be without her?

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