122[sacredlandscapelist] Chinese number symbolism
- Mar 2, 1999Dan Washburn wrote:
> Seems to me it would have something to do with the cyclical nature of time.Dan and everyone,
> There are twelve months to the year, 13 would be the starting place for a
> new cycle, the death of the old and the birth of the new.
> It doesn't seem to quite fit the 13 companions in life and 13 companions in
> death saying though. Who are these companions?
> The Lo Shu magic square represents the 8 directions -- 4 basic directions
> and the 4 corners of the square, the intermdiate directions, SE, NW etc.
> The ninth and middle square is also a direction, the center.
> The directions are established by the movement of the sun from E to W. with
> the help of the gnomon and the double vesica. So the directions are a
> result of the cyclical nature of time, the alteration of day and night. We
> have 2 12 hour cycles in our day, 13 would be the point of death for one and
> birth for the other.
> The association of the 8 trigrams with the 8 directions should tell you
> which numbers in the Lo Shu magic square are related to which trigrams. Or
> vice versa. Perhaps this would give you a clue to deciphering a lot of
> Chinese number symbolism.
> The vastu-purusha-mandala is a square of 81 subsquares with 9 subsquares on
> each side. Take a Lo Sur magic sqaure of 3 and place a Lo Shu magic square
> of 3 in each of its 9 subsquares and you have a 9 x 9 square of 81
> subsquares. So the vastu-purusha-mandala is the Lo Shu square squared, or
> seen in more detail.
> Go, Mark, go.
> And please post your results! Pretty please?
> Dan W. and the magic lanterns.
> eGroup home: http://www.eGroups.com/list/sacredlandscapelist
> Free Web-based e-mail groups by eGroups.com
I think you may be on to something about the use of the number 13. Any
association of a number with death will also associate it with life.
I knew a Zen Master once who said that he would like to be the person who fills
out death certificates because it would be so easy. When it
asks for "cause of death" he would have a big stamp that read "birth." Jim
Morrison - "I touched her thigh and death smiled." The Tao Te Ching
does not even give a clue as to who or what the 13 "companions" may be. I think
that in some way the 13 companions are numerically
symbolic and are associated with the number 50.
A deeper question in my mind is the source of the commonality between number
symbolism between seperated cultures. In the Kabballah, the
number 13 is indicative of the idea of unity or completeness. I think that the
pack of playing cards as we know it today was originally
invented by a Kabbalist to illustrate the principals of the Kabballah. 13 is
the complete number in a Kabbalist sense, being the number of the
Tree of Life. The pack of playing cards has 4 "trees" of 13, one for each of
the 4 worlds. According to Gershem Scholem, the Kabballah
originated in about the second century AD in Palastine. It is my theory that it
resulted from a synthesis of the earlier Jewish traditional
Merkabah mysticism, based on Ezekiel's vision and the letters of the
Tetragrammaton, with the Greek Pythagorean ideas of the Decad, the first
ten numbers. If this idea is correct, then the mystical associations with 13
results from a synthesis of two similar, but different traditions and the number
13 just "fell out" of the combination. Which, if true, would mean that the
numerical qualities of the number are secondary.
On the other hand, in the Kabballah 13 is indicative of "unity". So there
you have a beginning and ending idea - a completeness suggesting a change in
cycles. The Mayan system is based on a pantheon of 13 gods which each have 20
days to influence. Another cycle (expanded) of 13. Even the 20 numbers
- actually day names - have a "base" of 13 in as much as each number pictograph
after 13 is based on a combination of elements from the tenth pictograph
and the other pictographs, much as we say thirteen (three plus ten), fourteen
(four plus ten), etc. Whatever the explanation of the 13 x 20 = 260 day cycle
of the sacred Mayan calander, 13 was an especially sacred number to the Mayans.
As was 4, 52, etc.
I don't know how the Chinese or the Mayans divided time in units smaller
than 1 day. So I don't know if the "13th hour" has any significance. It is
important to keep in mind the time lines for these ideas. The Chinese Tao Te
Ching is from about 400 or 500 BC. The origin of the Mayan calander is about
the same time, the Kabballah is from the 2nd century AD. Playing cards come
from around 1350 in Spain, and the Tarot were from about 1450 in Italy. The
Lo Shu magic square is the oldest example of a magic square and derives from
about 2200 BC. So there is a considerable amount of time - about 1700
years - between the knowledge of magic squares in China and the writing of the
Tao Te Ching. Plenty of time for an esoteric/mathematic tradition to
develope. Given that the Lo Shu square was so revered, can we doubt that the
Chinese studied the properties of magic squares of all sizes, and understood
their mathematic principals?
I promise to see what I can come up with on a relationship between the 8
trigrams and the numbers in the Lo Shu square. I have yet to get around to a
of the Indian system, (saving the best for last?) but I will, and then I can
look into the vasta purusha mandala. Then I think I will have to start all over
in more detail. I know I'm kinda wandering around here, but I have to get my
feet on the ground before I can convince myself (much less Barry) that there
is more to all this number/geometrical religious/symbolism than the "mere"
counting up of the days in a natural cycle or some other utilitarian function.
So there it is, I'm a mystic who refuses to accept anything but scientific
Mad Dog Murphy
eGroup home: http://www.eGroups.com/list/sacredlandscapelist
Free Web-based e-mail groups by eGroups.com