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Chapter 22 - The Sacred Numbers

A new day had dawned. The Fool was slowly catching up on lost sleep, and The Hermit was a very gracious host. The food was simple, and apart from a few words of polite concern, The Hermit was quite fond of silence.

After answering a rap at the door, The Hermit ushered The Priestess into the room, and it was clear that she and The Fool needed no introduction.

The Priestess: Today, I want to take you to the temple of divination. With The Hermits kind permission, we will use the portal that leads underground. I do not know if it has been explained to you, but this portal leads to many dimensions, controlled of course by your intention. Come, follow me.

With no further ado, she led the way through the portal and down the dim stairs to the crypt. Then, The Fool followed her up the fifteen stairs through walls of stone until they emerged in a large circular chamber, the stone walls of which were lined with niches.

Fool: We have been here before.

Priestess: I come here often. This hidden temple is very dear to me. The Hermits portal is not the only entrance into this sacred space. As a place of divination, it helps one to see and to understand many things that lie beyond the normal awareness.

Slowly from the shadows on the opposite side of the temple, The Magician emerged into view. He walked toward the centre of the temple and stood facing The Priestess. Together, they motioned to The Fool to approach the altar, which stood at the centre of the chamber. They stood on either side of the central stone altar, gazing into a large crystal sphere which rested upon it. The Fool stood facing them.

The Magician: The column of light which comes down onto the crystal from on high is a living beam of power. It brings inspiration, spiritual empowerment and creative energy into any human being who contemplates it. The crystal sphere on this stone altar stands for The World. It seems to be static, but actually it moves, because there is a transmutation happening within its surfaces. The light from above is slowly transforming the stone and releasing its power.

The Priestess: On the walls, in positions that correspond to the four points of the compass, you will find the symbolism of fire, water, air and earth. Fire stands for vitality, energy, creativity and aspiration. In its essence, fire is the creative spiritual force that transmutes, but in humans its primary manifestation is vitality. A higher kind of vitality develops as the soul comes forward, and there we see creativity and intuition at their maximum. In human beings, the fiery qualities include boldness, bravery, confidence, courage, daring, energy, exuberance, heroism, inspiration, inventiveness, optimism, originality, passion and wholeheartedness.

Water stands for feeling and desire, the capacity for love, harmony and relatedness, and love of beauty. Attributes of water include affection, benevolence, calm, caring, compassion, concern, empathy, gentleness, dreaminess, healing, intuition, joy, kindness, mercy, mildness, patience, peace, psychic ability, refinement, romance, sensitivity, softness, spirituality, sweetness, sympathy, tolerance and wisdom.

Air represents intellect, understanding and communication. It governs justice, truth and principles of ethics. When ego is strong, it may involve struggle or conflict. But otherwise we normally see attributes like mental clarity, analytical ability, and truthfulness. People who are well endowed with the air element are often analytical, articulate, astute, direct, discerning, forthright, honest, impartial, incisive, knowledgeable, literate, logical, lucid, objective, observant, penetrating, rational, reasonable, unbiased, and witty.

Earth, symbolised by stone, represents the physical manifestation. It includes the world of sensation, the material sphere of earthly concerns, practical affairs of business, physical attractions, security, nature, wealth and prosperity. Earthy people are characteristically trustworthy, tenacious, sturdy, steady, stable, sensible, able, careful, cautious, conscientious, constant, dependable, reliable, realistic, productive, practical, persevering, orderly, loyal, hardworking, generous, factual and efficient.

Magician: We know that matter is spirit solidified. The Mother is One, but as you have seen, Her primal powers are fourfold. Within this temple, an alcove and shrine to each of these four powers of the Mother is placed in the various compass directions, North, South, East and West. The divine light flows down the pillar into the crystal sphere, which is The World. It infuses The World, releasing its hidden perfection. Thence, the light radiates outward in time and space to the four sacred directions. Each alcove is the earthly expression of one of the Mothers four powers.

The Fool: I see symbols engraved on the alcoves, symbols for fire, water, air and stone, and they are arranged by number. What does this mean?

The Magician: Let us start at the centre. The pillar of light is the essence of the power of One. All numbers express forms of sacred power, but the nature of One is a potential for manifestation. The form that this manifestation takes will depend on the field of energy in which it finds itself, whether earth, water, air or fire. For example, when you place the Power of One in the energy-field of Fire, you have spiritual potential, capacity to achieve ideals, inspired visions, an impetus to new growth. In Fire, the Power of One can help to develop spiritual and artistic capacities. It is dynamic and energetic, promoting movement and action. But this same energy of One would promote physical expression if it were situated in Earth. It always initiates new beginnings. It is the seed or origin of something that can develop and unfold. The Power of One is always a pioneering force, independent, leading the way forward. It is active, decisive, empowering and unifying.

Priestess: Observe the placement of numbers in the four shrines. They tell the primal story of creation. When you look around at the pictures of the twenty great archetypes on the wall, you will feel their stillness. In the cards you were given, the figures of the Major Arcanum are all seated or standing, except for The World, who dances the dance of creation. She moves, but again she seems not to move. When you place number-energies in the four fields of the primal elements, earth, water, air and fire, you generate a panorama of experience.

Magician: Remember that meaning is contextual. The language of number and form has all the richness of symbolism, and little of the scientific precision which has come to be so valued these days. Symbols are first experienced intuitively and then only much later do we add the words.

At this point, The Magician and The Priestess extended their arms and they each pointed one forefinger at the crystal ball.

The Priestess: Out from the power of One comes Two. This is the power of polarity, duality, the relation of opposites. It is the potential for both creation and destruction. The experience of "otherness" and individuality first comes into existence with the Power of Two.

When we step out of the original unity into duality, we begin a long return journey of return to our original Source. We must be divided from our original wholeness into a bi-polar existence if we are to gather experience. In order to learn, we must taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Darkness and light, black and white, high and low, heaven and earth, hard and soft, sun and moon, man and woman - all come into existence because of duality, the feminine principle. Duality takes unity out of the Garden of Eden. It begins the great pilgrimage. The duality of creation becomes a classroom to the embodied souls. Between the polarities of creation, a path comes into existence, a pillar of light, and a high destiny.

In the world of duality, we have choices to make. We have emotional choices in the world of water, intellectual choices in the world of air, practical choices in the world of earth or stone, and spiritual choices in the domain of fire. Duality makes possible partnership and co-operation. But it also creates the possibility of opposition and strife. Because polar opposites have come into existence from the original Power of One, we have the opportunity to learn devotion and service. We learn from the school of life how to harmonize all things so as to diminish the stress and conflict in our lives. The Power of Two is a feminine power. It is not instigating like the Power of One, but it is fruitful.

The Fool: I have two eyes with which two see, two hands with which to work, two ears with which to hear and two legs with which to move forward on the path. Two is a womb of sorts, a generator of potential for action.

The Magician: Now, point your finger toward the crystal sphere, the symbolic world, as we are doing. You have thereby manifested the power of three. Three is the child of Two. It is a new Sacred Power born from what preceded it.

Three is movement arising from the womb of two. It is dynamism, the dance and the play of opposites, as well as their synthesis. It is the resolution of polarity and creative tension into some form of expression. Three is progeny, new life, a material result, the fruit of partnership, the offspring of a pair. Three manifests the possibilities of two. It is the beginning of community and social life. Three moves the Power of Two beyond its static balance or its conflicting opposites into a hopeful possibility. New opportunities arise when Three is at work.

Fool: We are three. Because we come together, the temple teaching is being expressed.

Priestess: That which emerged in the Power of Three becomes stabilized in the Power of Four. Four is a securely founded sacred number, a well-rooted manifestation. Four turns the energy of Three into a solid and complete expression. The energy of Three settles down and becomes structured in Four; it ceases creative generation and becomes something secure and stable. A building, a solid construction, a foundation for future growth, an anchoring of possibilities in solid form this is what the sacred Power of Four accomplishes. Four is at rest. It is evenly balanced and poised. Thus, it is powerful.

Four may sometimes be resistant to change, because it holds its form securely. You could say it is conservative, enduring, reliable and permanent. Where stability is important, the Power of Four comes into focus. It represents a limited success, an achievement of something solid, but not the ultimate attainment. In fact, Four may tend to stagnation, other catalysts being absent. Four suggests walls, ninety degree angles, enclosed spaces, possibly confinement.

At this point, The Priestess and The Magician each pointed two fingers into the crystal. The Fool continued to point at the crystal as well. In all, five fingers were aimed into the glowing orb.

Magician: When the Power of Five comes into being, everything changes. By now, the Power of One is receding. The equilibrium of four is de-stabilized. Turbulence, change and transformation arise. It may be resolved harmoniously, or it may be continuously disruptive, in which case conflict and wounding come about. Danger and difficulty arise with five, but also opportunity. Five hungers for freedom. Journeys and dynamic encounters come about because of this. Complacency and pretense are challenged, for Five forces us to go beyond static equilibrium and helps us achieve balanced movement. Change, uncertainty and a need for adaptation are thus the order of the day when the Power of Five is at work. This imbalance brings about fluctuations of fortune, with difficulty and even adversity at times. But in all this change one can gather experience and insight. There is variety, and a chance for progress when Five is present. There is a need for freedom of movement, a call to explore, to communicate and a need to change. Thus the challenges that lead to mastery are heralded by Five.

Fool: Now, I shall point two fingers, two streams of energy, toward the crystal sphere, just as you are both doing. This manifests the Power of Six.

Priestess: Here, we return to harmony and balance. The comfortable structure of Four has been stirred up by Five, and with Six, it has settled down into a new balance. Here we have the dynamic balance of a well developed human being. What was missing in Four and what was unstable in Five is now graciously expressed. Well balanced movement is what we find in Six. It is contentment, satisfaction, beauty and well-being.

Six is not static because it is made from a pair of threes, and threes are quite dynamic. This poised dynamism opens up a possibility for higher states of awareness. The earthbound fixity and duality of the previous even numbers are harmonised and uplifted. Marriages, relationships, and family affairs are favoured by the Power of Six.

Magician: Hold the image of six in your mind, and add to it the pillar of light. This makes seven. Seven widens the openings of Six into something higher than the earth plane. This pillar of light brings stillness into the motion and commotion of Five and mysticism into the harmony of Six. It connects earth to heaven. The energy of Sacred Seven can bring visions and dreams, spiritual knowledge and wisdom. Mystics love this number because its power favours their souls unfoldment. Seven is the number of faith, the Higher Self and perfection. There are seven higher worlds, seven energy centres or chakras in the human microcosm and seven colours in the rainbow. There are seven notes in the musical scale before eight brings in the octave. But Seven brings to us the deeper state of calm which we need to grow into the depths of mystical experience.

The Fool: Now I see that you are each pointing four fingers into the crystal sphere. This brings us to the Power of Eight.

Priestess: Eight is a number of power and weight. It is made of two Fours, and they are looped together in a powerfully balanced interaction. The momentous energy of eight can be used to achieve influence, authority and control, even victory. But it can also be channelled into regeneration and self healing. Those who have the power of eight can work magic. They can access the occult dimensions of experience and manifest prosperity. But unless great wisdom and selflessness accompany the use of the Power of Eight, these striking successes will become a limitation to further progress. So the danger of entrapment is here in Eight as well. Only if we move further are we released from this possible limitation.

Magician: And this leads us to nine. Again, picture the pillar of light, the Power of One coming to the fore. A deep unity is at work here in the sacred energy of Nine. There is a unifying force that integrates the various aspects of a human being into a harmonious expression of soul. Nine brings with it the possibility of a truly spiritual life. It is the number of teachers, because it fosters knowledge and compassion. It is a number of inner guidance, universality and true humanitarianism. It is the most mystical of the numbers, the highest synthesis of all the previous possibilities. Here, we have three Threes. Or, you can think of it as two Fours plus the power of One. Nine takes us to the frontier of our humanity and points beyond. Here, in the highlands of Nine, veils are lifted and Truth is glimpsed. Nine carries us past the limitations of mere social convention because it is full of forward momentum. Nine is expansive. It overflows with loving concern for all creation.

Priestess: With Ten, we break through the mould of everything that has gone before, and enter a new world of possibilities. But the breaking away from the past may be painful. Ten begins a new and more advanced cycle. It is a culmination and a completion of what went before. It represents mastery and wholeness. Ten means greatness and fullness. Ten opens many doors, but if we have not developed love, it can be lonely territory.

The Power of One is here again in Ten to begin a new cycle, but this new cycle will be based on experiences of many kinds gathered from all the previous numbers. Ten calls us to move on into deeper and more complex situations, with more lessons and a requirement for greater mastery. We must die to the old in order to open up what is new. Ten brings with it some hint of a need for sacrifice. But what begins as sacrifice often turns into a kind of liberation when the full possibilities of Ten are revealed.

Fool: These are all the numbers of the alcoves. These powers are expressed spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and physically in my life. I can see how they played their role. But if I had not become a seeker, I would never have learned about this pattern that underlies my experiences on the road. I think the story of my journey is summarised by the movement of One towards Ten. I have known these many energies you speak of. They brought me here to this temple.

Priestess: The powers of number will teach you the art of divination. You will see and understand the pattern of wholeness which has been brought to the fore in you by your journey. You will discover where your experiences lead and why they were necessary as building blocks to something still more wonderful in the future.

Magician: But for this, we must move to the alcoves. For here the numbers begin their work of expressing the four Mother Powers.

With this, The Magician and The Priestess lowered their arms. They reached out simultaneously and lifted up the crystal sphere. Then, they placed it in the hands of The Fool.

They led him to the Alcove of Fire and motioned him to place the sacred crystal sphere, the symbolic world, on the shrine between two fragrant beeswax candles. Suddenly, as if by magic, the candles were lit. His mentors stepped back.

The Fool stood facing the curious symbols and engravings on the wall. He pondered the mystery before him.

The Fire symbol was coloured to resemble a living flame. It contrasted with the cool darkness of the granite rock. The Fools eyes rested on this symbol and then began to move about and take in the other symbols of the alcove. The candlelight cast faint shadows over the coloured carvings so that they seemed almost alive. Resting between the two candles was a large volume bound in crimson and edged in gold. He placed his right hand on the volume and closed his eyes. He could feel warmth and energy flowing into his body, and his mind was flooded with new clarity.