Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Minor Arcana: Number 4
Four: Mysteries and a sense of order
Around the world, what ancient building best represents stability, permanence, eternality and architectural grandeur? Of course, in Egypt, it’s the Great Pyramid! For centuries it was the world’s tallest building. It was constructed with over a million giant blocks of limestone including an outer cover of limestone casings. Supposedly, it was glistening white in the sunlight and could be seen for miles. The base is foursquare - a four-sided pyramid of equal proportions. The implications of it’s measurements are still huge in mathematics and in Sacred Geometry.
In Tarot, the number 4 means a sense of order, of measurement, classification, even the organizing principle of government. It is also the 4-fold pattern seen in nature’s realm. The ancients were always concerned with the 4 elements (which we see in the Tarot): Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. Then there are lots of other fours to consider: 4 footed creatures; the 4 winds; the 4 cardinal directions: East, West, North, and South; the 4 phases of the moon: waxing, waning, full and void; the 4 seasons: Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall, and so on.
Four is symbolized by a square with 4 corners. It represents a stable framework for manifesting ideas in concrete form by following a blueprint, a design, or plan, in an ordered sequence of events.The conclusions arrived at in number 3 can now be carried out and realized in the results signified by number 4. Pythagoras said the tetrad, number 4, was the root of all things. Today, we see it has formed the basis for cosmologies in many early cultures and, the design and structure of ancient cities and temples.
Let’s take a mathematical jaunt around the Great Pyramid:
According to some Pyramidologists, the Great Pyramid proves the "squaring of the circle" wherein the circumference of the circle is approximately equal to the perimeter of the square. This can be figured based on the angle of the casing stones which was approximately 51 degrees 51 seconds. It also proved Pi. (For all the configurations and numbers, refer to Great Pyramid Statistics website.)
To draw a diagram of squaring of the circle, you would first draw a square with a dot in the center. Then place a compass point on the dot and, using a protractor, draw a line from the center to the top edge of the square at 51 degrees 51 seconds. Then place the pencil of the compass on that crossing point and draw the circle. Viola! you have just squared the circle and have taken a step into the realm of the Sacred Geometry of the Ancients.
So this must mean something. What? It has been considered a metaphor for the merging or fusion of the material life with a spiritual life. The square is the earth - our material world with everyday goings on, and the 4 elements. The circle symbolizes our inner spiritual world or cosmic life with no beginning or end. For some it’s the realm of the gods.
“Early temples were often built foursquare…these structures symbolized the transition-point between heaven and earth. (Sacred Geometry by Nigel Pennick, 1994, Caball Bann Publishing, UK, p. 16.
A famous foursquare city is described in Revelation 21 in the Bible. The city was measured with a golden reed and was 12,000 furlongs in length, breadth, and height, all equal, so it formed a cube. But it was no earthly city like Babylon, which was also foursquare. It was a spiritual, celestial city of God within a spiritual realm - a "golden paradise," so-to-say. On the other hand, according to Herodotus, the city of Babylon formed an exact square 14 miles long each side and was filled with earthly gardens and other earthly delights. Here is a link to Hieronymus Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights," a 15th century artist's interpretation of such gardens. (Also see the Project Gutenberg Ebook of Ancient Town-planning by F. Haverfield.)
What does this have to do with Tarot?
Think about these interpretations when you get a 4 card in a reading.
The 4 of Wands, which I have illustrated here, means the ongoing work on yourself can be perfected in grace and beauty. A new identity is manifested and asserted in the world. Beauty and harmony reign, exemplified by a state of “Harvest Home.” You are spiritually satisfied.
The 4 of Cups: Here you feel stable and secure in expressing emotions and are capable of acting them out publicly. Needs, such as comforting and being comforted are expressed through Love.
The 4 of Swords: You can inspire others by expressing your philosophy publicly and find security in stating your opinions. There will be positive and expansive results.
The 4 of Pentacles: Here your material success is assured by the ability to get organized, and become stable in business and management. You take responsibility in managing, restructuring, and organizing the flow of objects, people and things.