Monday, April 27, 2009


The number four must be sacred. The cross on which Jesus was crucified - since transmogrified into an abstract symbol under Protestantism's austere aesthetic - possesses no more or less than four points. The intentionally unpronounceable name of the Jewish deity consists in written form of four letters (the Tetragrammaton). Buddhist traditions identify four Noble Truths in the quest to achieve cessation from suffering. In earth-centered pagan practices, the seasonal cycle is divided into four parts. And let us not forget that in music theory, common time counts four beats.

The spiritual and physical universe, it seems, jives and swings to the four-fold rag. All the same, I wonder: to what extent does this coherent symmetry reflect but an artificial projection - an answer to the human need to order the sporadic, to discipline the violent, to control the inconsistent?

Whether reducible to four or countless more, the world's partitions most poignantly display an inter-penetrating relationality of mutual bonds. Much as the seasons flow opaquely into one another (dependent on the previous to set the stage for the subsequent), Joan Goodwin encourages us to view the markings on our own lives in terms of circling filiation:

Ground us in the wisdom
of the changing seasons
As we celebrate the spiraling
Journey of our lives.

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Anonymous said...

For some information of the psychological meaning of the first four intergers I suggest you take a look at "Number and Time," a book written by Marie-Louise von Franz.

Erik Resly said...

Thanks for the suggestion!