The Fours, Fives and Sixes

In the realm of esoteric number theory, this is one of the most fascinating transitions in the entire “One-to-Ten” sequence. The Four represents the initial fulfillment of the evolving energy of an element; the One is self-contained and stationary, while the Twos and Threes are restless, one constantly oscillating between opposite poles and the other vigorously expanding and maturing. With the Four there is a “summing up” or “taking stock” in preparation for the next planned phase of development. There is even a Pythagorean saying that “the power of Ten (the number of completion) is in Four” since the first four numbers (1+2+3+4) add to 10.

The Four is the first “rest stop” on the outward journey (reminding me of that old Coca-Cola advertising slogan, “The pause that refreshes”); it represents structural stability and shows consolidation of power, but unfettered expression of that power can be constrained by it’s own growing inertia and lack of vision. It is still turned inward and focused on self-definition. Thus, forward progress can stall in the Four as the agility of the Three gives way to a more conservative and defensive posture. Aleister Crowley believed that the Four contains the “seed” of its own destruction, and the key to that idea lies in its potential for stagnation.

Which ushers in the “demolition crew” of the Five. On the Tree of Life the fourth sphere – or sephira – is given to the imperial planet Jupiter, and the sixth sphere is assigned to the even more regal Sun. Between them, in the fifth sphere, sits the vexing, often ruthless energy of the “god of war,” symbolized by the planet Mars, acting like a goad or “burr under the saddle.” In astrology, Mars represents pure “action” without hair-splitting or hand-wringing over consequences. Crowley considered all of the Fives to be disruptive. But in this mini-series I see them more as “mobilizing and liberating.” They are the prefect antidote to the loss of momentum and aimlessness implied by the degenerated Fours. However, although they always produce change, it isn’t necessarily a self-willed or welcome occurrence; it can be more “change for its own sake” brought on by frustration, more reactive than proactive. The Five is in transit between the last way-station and the next, and the road can be a rocky one. Given that the immediate destination is the province of the Six, which I think of as “Harmony Restored,” the Five clears the way of any obstacles to getting there. Like any bulldozer, it doesn’t offer the passenger a very smooth ride.

One of my favorite aphorisms to describe the evolution from the rather airless, steady-state monotony of the Four to the more buoyant, self-sustaining equilibrium of the Six is “You can’t make omelets without breaking eggs.” The Five performs this service superbly. Another pair of useful metaphors is the Five as a “can-opener” that releases the stale contents of the Four, and a “nut-cracker” that breaks down fortified barriers and “lets slip the dogs of war.” The Five also epitomizes that other sly expression “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.” Unlike Jupiter before or the Sun after, this isn’t a genial or “nurturing” energy, it’s a galvanizing one, a kind of “forced march” that brooks no delay. Although there is no numerical consonance between them, the potency of Mars underlies both the Fives and the Tower trump card. Unless the long view of an apparently unraveling situation is taken, the outlook can seem utterly chaotic, often precipitating the urge to rethink one’s strategy and perhaps cut one’s losses and walk away. If it can be seen as “constructive disruption,” there is a better chance of coping effectively with, and not overreacting to, the implied trauma accompanying the appearance of a Five card in a tarot reading.

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