The Theosophical Forum – September 1936



This often denotes a quaternary or group of four, and in this sense it has to some extent been considered in connexion with the Cross and the Triangle. A septenate or group of seven can be divided into a three and a four, a triad and a quaternary, which may be said roughly to represent Spirit and Matter. This is familiar to students of Theosophy in the sevenfold constitution of man, in which we distinguish the higher triad and the lower quaternary, the former denoting the spiritual and immortal part of man, the latter his earthly and mortal part. This is of course not a hard and fast division, but merely a rough one for convenience. Man is not composed of a number of different principles put together, but he is a divine individuality manifesting itself through a series of vehicles. The same twofold division can be made as regards Nature in general; for we can speak of external Nature, represented by the square, and internal Nature or the spirit which animates external Nature, represented by the triangle.

That the number four is characteristic of physical nature may be seen from a number of instances, especially if we bear in mind that the cube, although having six sides, is a derivative of the square. We have four points of the compass, and cubical shapes are the most frequent in mineral forms. We naturally lay out our buildings and furniture on a rectangular plan. It has always been customary to speak of four elements as constituting the physical world — fire, air, water, and earth. These in modern physics are represented by heat, gas, liquid, solid, though there is some hesitancy about including heat in the list. In the lower quaternary of man these are represented by Kama, Prana, Linga-sarira, and Sthula-sarira.


But there are other ways in which the quaternary can be made. It has already been said that the higher triad becomes a quaternary when we add to it a unit which represents the lower world. Two meanings of the quaternary are shown in the well-known Pythagorean symbol of the Tetraktys. This represents four cosmic planes, and the fourth of these planes is itself a quaternary. In assigning names to these four planes, there might be some difference of choice, but the important thing to get is the idea. We might call them the monadic, the spiritual-mental, the psycho-mental, and the physical. The first is a unit, a self; the next is a duad, representing action and bipolar force; the third is a synthesis of one and two; and the fourth is a kind of repetition of the second. The two and the four are vehicles; the one and the three are what acts through those vehicles The four suits in the playing cards denote these four planes in the Tetraktys; for the cards derive from the Tarots, which are mystic symbolism and used in divination. The suits were batons, which have become clubs; cups, which are now hearts; swords, Italiai spade, now spades; and coins or pentacles, now represented by diamonds. The symbolic meaning of the upright stroke or rod, of the cup, and of the sword (a form of cross, uniting a perpendicular am a horizontal line), are evident.

Under the Triangle we spoke of the Triad of Father, Mother, Son and we read in The Secret Doctrine that

the "Son" of the immaculate Celestial Virgin (or the undifferentiated cosmic protyle, Matter in its infinitude) is born again on Earth as the Son of the terrestrial Eve, and becomes Humanity as a total — past, present, and future. . . Above, the Son is the whole Kosmos: below, he is Mankind. The triad of triangle becomes Tetraktys, the Sacred Pythagorean number, the perfect square and a 6-faced cube on Earth. — I, 60

The figure of a square within a circle (or a cross within a circle] is one of the most sacred in Occultism; it signifies completeness or perfection in the manifestation of the Universe or of Man from out the Boundless.

The problem of squaring the circle means for the student of practical Occultism the adapting of finite life to the infinite, of Spirit to Matter, and Matter to Spirit. As geometry and mathematics, number and magnitude, are keys to cosmic architecture, ii follows that the problem of squaring the circle is a most important key to unlock many mysteries.

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