Sunday, November 16, 2014

Minor Arcana: Number 5

Challenges of Life

How do life forms come into being, grow and express their role in this life? That is one big question for which there are no easy answers. 

“Out of the cubic stone of matter, differentiated into a myriad 
of crystalline structures, the flowing curves of living bodies take form.” 
Dane Rudhyar, Astrological Insights into the Spiritual Life”

Where are you on your path to selfhood? It’s here we contemplate: “Who am I and what is this place”? 
Are you being yourself?
Are you knowing yourself?
Are you expressing your real self as you are growing and becoming?
Five is the number of mankind. 
In the largest context, number 5 cards of Tarot refer to the manifestation of universal laws of nature and the underlying order of the cosmos. But first we must deal with the challenges of living this life daily. It is usually full of unexpected events, difficult situations and dangers, both real and imagined. How do you handle stressful situations when things go wrong? What are the obstacles to overcome?  How do you rectify mistakes and overcome limitations while struggling through intense difficulties and turbulent crises? We learn mostly by trial and error and, if we pay attention, we learn from other people’s mistakes. Buddhists examine the drama of human suffering and its causes. They claim suffering is the result of unresolved desires: “I want this -I want that!  I have, I need, I wish.” In this state of mind, when we don’t get what we want, we appear to suffer or make somebody else suffer. Their work is focused on negating the “monkey mind” and releasing those desires. In Caitlin Matthews “Arthurian Tarot,” the 5 of Swords depicts a burning ancient Celtic house amidst the aftermath of a destructive war. The meaning is tied to “unethical behavior” and “malicious thinking.”  Through trial and error we learn to conquer our inner adversaries but some people seem to be constantly undergoing a never-ending sequence of grueling tests. 

“Yet crises can be furnaces in which the coal of ego-structured desires 
is transmuted into glowing diamonds.”
Dane Rudhyar, Astrological Insights
Number 5 in Nature
Five is the number of the “Hierophant” card in Tarot and the Hierophant symbolizes a teacher of nature’s laws. What greater mystery of creation than the formation of life beginning in an egg, a seed, or a womb? How and why does cell-division and the sequence of exponential growth take place? We see number 5 in nature’s designs expressed in the arrangement of flower petals, certain starfish, in the pattern of leaves on trees. You can see it in the interior of an apple and other fruits when cut in half, with a star design of 5 seeds in the center. Then we have the 5 senses, our 5 fingers and toes. Rupert Sheldrake talks about seeing nature in a new light: “We urgently need to find practical ways of re-establishing our conscious sense of connection with living nature. Recognizing the life of nature demands a revolution in the way we view our lives.” (The Rebirth of Nature, Park Street Press, 1991) We see the symbolic impact of number five on art, advertising, and in architecture. In literature, as far back as Biblical times, the door to the inner sanctuary of the "Holy of Holies" within the Temple of Solomon may have been constructed as a pentagonal form as it took up one fifth of the wall (I Kings 6:31 Oxford Bible). The doors opened on a cubical room that contained the “Ark of the Covenant.” There are five Platonic Solids: tetrahedron, octahedron, icosahedron, cube and dodecahedron, seen in some crystals. The symbol of the 5-pointed star is found in flags around the world. We have 5-star hotels, 5-star generals, the Pentagon building in Washington D.C. Then there are 5-star grading systems,

Number 5 and Sacred Geometry
Let’s examine several ways of thinking about the meaning of sacred Geometry. Drawing the polygonal figures step-by-step can be an exercise in understanding the creative formative processes of nature. To actually construct the geometrical forms of circle, triangle, square, rectangle, hexagon, pentagon, and octagon, etc., can be a lesson in learning how living things form and what stimulates movement and growth. These polygons represent a formative matrix or morphogenetic field of underlying patterns of development. In a metaphysical sense, this denotes the relationships of the parts to the whole in the principle of “oneness” because all geometrical forms can originate in a circle. What is “squaring the circle”? What is a Golden Mean Rectangle or Triangle. Another way of thinking about Sacred Geometry is in terms of mathematics and ratios. (See Robert Lawlor’s book Sacred Geometry, Crossroad, NY 1982, and the chapter in my Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness on “Sacred Geometry.”) Most of the Minor Arcana cards in Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness are based on Sacred Geometry, including the Vesica Piscis, Squaring the Circle, and the Golden Mean Spiral.

The Golden Mean Ratio
Pythagoras taught that man can only grasp the essence of the universe through number. Number 5 is the key to understanding PHI, which is the Golden Mean ratio of 1:1.618, a number of of infinity, and measurement of growth as we see its arrangement in the shell of the Chambered Nautilus, for example. First, the whole shell resembles the shape of a Golden Mean Spiral and each chamber is approximately 1.618 times larger than the previous chamber. A pentagon of 5 points contains the PHI ratio when we draw lines from point to point. Here we see a star with the Golden Section forming and, at the intersection of crossing lines, the ratio of 1:1.618 emerges. Mystics claim this represents the “cosmic man.” One section of each line is 1.618 times larger than the smaller section. This ratio is approximated in many of nature’s forms. Generally, in the head of a big sunflower there are 89 spiral rows of seeds in a clockwise direction and 55 rows counterclockwise.Then dividing 55 into 89 equals 1.618….. on and on. This leads us to the “Fibonacci Numbers” and the Golden Section. The Fibonacci number sequence occurs when adding the sum of the previous 2 numbers, for instance: 1+2 = 3; 2+3=5; 3+5=8, and so on…34 +55 = 89.  For some amusement while playing with these numbers go to this website: mathisfun.  If you get carried away with Sacred Geometry and want to see even more go to Bruce Rawles website: 

So what does all this mean in the Tarot?  Something is happening in our lives every day, all the time, and when we draw a Tarot 5 card it means to pay attention to some challenges you might be facing now. Think about how you are “going with the flow” and how you are coping with the situation. Or, on the other hand, are you resisting change? Burying your head in the sand? It’s time to look at how you are reacting to the situations that pop up daily. What are the changes taking place? How are you dealing with upheavals and distress? What actions are you taking to resolve the issues? Gail Fairfield, in her book, Choice Centered Tarot ( Red Wheel-Weiser, Newbury Port, 1984) sums up the meaning of each of the number 5 cards in the 4 suits as “adjusting and adapting.”

5 of Wands- adjusting your identity and the way you present yourself to others
5 of Cups - living with your feelings in flux, dealing with uncertainty and confusion
5 of Swords - The challenges presented by the lifestyle you are leading
5 of Pentacles - Hanging onto a sense of security in the midst of change on the job, home, or family

When you get a 5 card in a Tarot reading it’s time to take action and DO SOMETHING!