These days I’ve been doing charts, calculating degrees, prognosticating fixed star elections, and looking carefully at pages and pages of ephemeris. You guessed: here is my self out of space, in good old-fashioned astrological style.
Stargazing is a favorite past time, even though this activity has always induced in me a sense of vertigo. Quite literally, looking at the stars puts me on the verge of passing out. Vastness and the infinity of the universe have that effect on me. But getting dizzy doesn’t deter me from getting my nose into correspondences between stars, planets, and our beautiful earth. Metaphysically, there’s the sense of connection that I like. Pragmatically, I think that by simply looking at the stars you get elevated to a higher state. I recommend this to anyone who is depressed or is having a hard time. It’s also cheaper than seeing a therapist, and more efficient.
Now, while pondering an aspect that in astrology and astronomy goes by the name of Quincunx, 150 degrees, or 5/12th of a circle, I was thinking not only of what this means in classical astrology (that is, ancient, medieval, and renaissance) – a situation that’s odd in terms of knowing how to make constant adjustments – but also of where else we find the quincunx as it relates to mirroring. Indeed, as above, so below. Let the dice roll with all its five points on.
Liturgical literature that stresses sacred geometry and geomancy in the work of the master builders of the cathedrals is filled with references to the quincunx. We find this form embedded into the beautiful floors and ornaments in churches, often with the figure of the Christ in the middle, almost suggesting that all that which is imposed on us can be mediated through a form at the center. But this point is both a point of aversion and one of conversion.
The 21st trump in the tarot, The World, is very much a quincunx. There is no logical connection between the elements, which some identify with fire, water, air, and earth, or if you want to be scientific about it, with energy, liquid, gas, and solid states. While all four are averted from each other, they also ‘tend to’ something, or converge. What creates tension is the fact that whatever ‘blend’ we end up with (in which all the others will also be present to varying degrees of misaligning) it will be in the service of converging to the center. In other words, it is through aversion that we get to conversion.
Claudius Ptolemy writes:
“All signs are inconjunct which are neither commanding nor obeying, and not beholding each other nor of equal power, as well as all signs which contain between them the space of one sign only, or the space of five signs, and which do not at all share in any of the four prescribed configurations: viz. the opposition, the trine, the quartile, and the sextile” (Tetrabiblos, 27).
I often think of the World card in the tarot as a full stop, or an ending that says, ‘this limitation or constraint is in point.’ A point that’s hot and cold, wet, and dry, all at the same time.
Last night I dreamt of Empedocles. I was told in the dream that the beginning of esotericism starts with Empedocles. Indeed, Empedocles’s own pentagram consisting of fire, water, air, earth, and spirit may well be the quincunx we need to rediscover in all its natural simplicity, for as Thomas Brown had it in 1658, ‘the Quincunx of Heaven runs low, and ’tis time to close the five ports of knowledge’.