As four is the number of matter in motion, five is the number of mind. I thought it would be interesting to have a look again at how the number five plays out in the Sabian Symbols. The fifth harmonic, is the series of quintile and biquintile aspects, which according to [ASIN id=”0853301204″ title=”Esoteric Astrology”]
concern the states of consciousness.
The Sabian Symbols are a symbol for each of the 360 degrees of the zodiac. These were collated by Marc Edmund Jones and Elsie wheeler as a clairvoyant exercise in 1925. [ASIN id=”0394719921″ title=”An Astrological Mandala: The Cycle of Transformations and Its 360 Symbolic Phases”] is my primary reference on this material, although naturally I don’t always agree with the interpretation.
The first degree of Aries is “A Woman Just Risen From The Sea; A Seal Is Embracing Her” showing emergence into a new state of being. This symbol begins all cycles, but here we are interested in the five-fold cycle. It occurs at the beginning of Aries, the sign of beginnings emerging from Pisces the sign of the fish.
A fifth of a circle is 72 degrees – a quintile -, whose symbol is “A Famous Pianist Giving A Concert Performance.” This shows the cultivation of talent, through discipline and training to the point where it becomes of cultural value. We see the emergence of the will and its cultural expression. This is the opening quintile to be found naturally in Gemini, the sign of recognised duality. In fact, the usual interpretation for the quintile series is talent, but I think there is much more to the series than that.
However the mind becomes dissatisfied and what was once fulfilling becomes empty, and so through a greater act of will the mind takes it upon itself to make the journey through emptiness. The symbol at 144 degress, the opening biquintile, is: “A Large Camel Is Seen Crossing A Vast And Forbidding Desert.” This is the opening biquintile, which occurs in Leo, the sign of will and also a fire sign. In one sense the desert to be crossed is the landscape made barren by the ego driven will.
That journey requires of course the examination of the depths of ones being, the mind itself is examined. And again the symbol at 216 degrees, the closing biquintile, is revealing. “Deep-Sea Divers.” Through meditation we plunge deeper and deeper into our very being and begin to awaken to our true nature. To a large extent this examination is fundamentally about our desire natures. So it is no surprise that this occurs in Scorpio, a water sign.
Then we come to the closing quintile. In a way the last symbol seems odd, it apparently lacks the profundity of the earlier symbols. The first interesting thing is that the number five pops up immediately. “A Five-Year-Old Child Carrying A Bag Filled With Groceries.” Rather than a five year old child, it could be a child of mind. Rudhyar thought that the symbol suggested taking on responsibility prematurely. It is said that the initiate is an initiate before initiation. Perhaps this is more about the awakening mind taking on the law of necessity. Perhaps it could be a being although not yet a bodhisattva, taking on the bodhisattva vow:-
May I liberate all sentient beings.
May I end all vexations.
May I master all dharmas.
May I attain the supreme awakening.
Whatever it is, it shows commitment to and awareness of the new cycle. Perhaps this is what enables the transformative process to complete.
I think another interesting feature about this symbol is that all of the others contain a sense of freedom. The pianist is the freedom of mastery. Then there’s the wide open space of the desert and the vastness of the sea. In this symbol it is now about responsibility and interestingly it occurs naturally in the sign of Capricorn of duty and responsibility. Capricorn, symbolised by the mountain climbing goat, is itself the sign of initiation.
And we return to the closing and opening of the series at zero degrees again. “A Woman Just Risen From The Sea; A Seal Is Embracing Her.” Life embraces the individual who has transformed himself and emerged from the sea of illusion – maya. In reality it is a non-dualistic process. All of life is awakened by the effort. As Buddha is said to have proclaimed upon awakening,
behold all beings are already Buddha.