The Word Foundation


Harold W. Percival



Section 6

Groups of zodiacal signs. Application to the human body.

The signs of the zodiac can be arranged in characteristic groups which, when connected by lines, are geometrical symbols for everything in the macrocosm, excepting of course the twelve abstract points. The symbols represent the monad, the dyads, the triads, the tetrads, the pentads and the hexads. These symbols having no character except that arising from extension and difference of situation, receive their meaning for human beings from the signs by which that character is indicated.

The twelve as a whole are a monad, (Fig. VII-E). They are the circle. The circle represents a whole, a oneness. It represents all there is, space, time, being and events. Within the monad are included all things; there is no thing outside of it.

The signs may be arranged as two sets of dyads, that is, halves, (Fig. VII-F). One half, consisting of cancer, leo, virgo, libra, scorpio, sagittary and capricorn, stands for the manifested, for the spheres and for what is in them; for matter in its states of circulation and progression. The second dyad, consisting of capricorn, aquarius, pisces, aries, taurus, gemini and cancer, stands for the unmanifested, no spheres, no matter, the abstract. It stands for the potentialities and possibilities of all things that are or ever may be in the manifested Universe.

The halves of the other set of dyads comprise the signs aries, taurus, gemini, cancer, leo, virgo and libra, standing for super-nature and nature; and the signs libra, scorpio, sagittary, capricorn, aquarius, pisces and aries standing for intelligent and super-intelligent.

Then there are the triads, groups of three signs, (Fig. VII-G). They are the fire triad aries, leo and sagittary; the air triad taurus, virgo and capricorn; the water triad gemini, libra and aquarius and the earth triad cancer, scorpio and pisces. The triads are not identical with the four manifested elements, but they have the characteristics of what in manifestation becomes the four spheres. Fire, air, water and earth are these characteristics, in manifestation as the elements. The aries triad is the cause of matter being conscious as and active as the fire, cancer; the air triad is the cause of matter’s being conscious as and active and passive as air, leo; the gemini triad is the cause of matter’s being conscious as and passive and active as water, virgo; and the cancer triad is the cause of matter’s being conscious as and passive as earth, libra. That aries, leo and sagittary are the fiery symbols or points may be seen if the signs are read aries fire, taurus air, gemini water and cancer earth. Then the next sign is leo, again fire, and virgo air, libra water, scorpio earth. Finally the following sign sagittary is again fire, and capricorn air, aquarius water and pisces earth. Thus the fiery signs which make the fire triad are aries, leo, sagittary; the airy signs are taurus, virgo, capricorn; the watery signs are gemini, libra, aquarius; and the earthy signs are cancer, scorpio, pisces. These triads stand behind, beneath or within the manifested spheres and their worlds and planes. Changes are brought about by the fiery and the watery triads. Physically, therefore, nothing can be solved in air or earth, but only in fire or water, which are the changer and the solvent. So physically the cancer point of the earth triad and the virgo point of the air triad have to meet in the leo point of the fire triad to change life into form.

The fire sphere is cancer as fire in manifestation, but it is cancer as earth before it was manifested. The zodiac shows that the Universe is an earth Universe in essence, though it is the fire sphere in manifestation, in matter, and that so the sublimest reality in matter is an illusion, as compared with realities above or beyond. In this sense the sphere of air, leo, is in essence fire, the sphere of water is in essence air, and the sphere of earth is in essence water. If it were not for the essence’s differing from the element in which it is, there could be no change in or of the element, and so it would be impossible for matter as inertia to change. What enables the changes to be brought about is the essential water triad which works through the earth sphere, libra. Because the essential nature of the fire sphere, cancer, is the unmanifested cancer as earth, this essential nature, in the earth sphere, becomes libra, which is the opposite of activity, cancer. The lowest unit of nature-matter which is the geogen unit has the characteristics of the prototype or essential nature of the highest sphere, which is the earth triad. The origin and essence of the fire sphere is the earth triad and indicates what the fire will become. It indicates that the fire will ultimately become earth, libra.

The triads cause a oneness, a twoness, a threeness and a fourness in the manifested Universe, which appear as the four elements and their subdivisions. The oneness is the fire, it is the beginning and the end of manifestation. All things that come into manifestation are potentially and actually contained in oneness. Twoness is the departure from oneness. It is not only a departure, but it is a different thing, with the oneness, which is everpresent, in it. Twoness is the second element, air, with the first in it, inseparably. The air cannot exist by itself; it is contained in the fire and the fire is in it. Threeness is again a new thing. It is another element, water, with the two others inseparably in it. The two others are expressed in and by it. It is the representative of the other two, and thus is threeness. Fourness is the ultimate element, earth, as regards the outwardness from fire. It is farthest removed from and is the opposite of the fire. It has the other three elements inseparably in it and represents and dominates them.

Each element is one, but only the fire element is one without any other and is not a continuation of any other. Each element is one in the sense that there is a distinctness about it, as to the other three. Fire is the first, the original, the primitive, the presence of which brings about change, continuous change in each of the other elements in which it is, until they are brought into permanence in products which can be no longer changed by them, that is by nature, but only by thinking and the spoken word. The foremost of these products is a perfect physical body in the Realm of Permanence, in the Eternal Order of Progression, or a human body in the world of change, of birth and death.

The fire, air, and earth triads have one point in the unmanifested, one point on the nature-side, and one point on the intelligent-side and so show the action of the triad on the intelligent-side and on the nature-side. The action of these triads starts on the intelligent-side and from there operates the nature-side from their points in nature. In the earth triad one point, scorpio, desire, is in the manifested on the intelligent-side; one point, pisces, is in the unmanifested, and either one of these points may operate cancer, which is the point between the unmanifested and the manifested on the nature-side. The water triad has two points in the unmanifested and only one, the libra point, in the manifested, and so is neutral in the manifested. In this triad, different from the others, there is no point in the manifested on the intelligent-side from which the triad can be operated, on the nature-side. The water triad has to be operated by the air or by the earth triad.

The fire triad is the ideal and sets the pattern for everything that is or may be in the manifested, on the nature-side and on the intelligent-side, and shows how the ideal is to be accomplished. Thought, sagittary, works on life, leo, determines the development and direction of matter on the nature-side, and is the means of the ultimate accomplishment, Consciousness. This is one of the two fixed, universal triads. The other is gemini, libra, aquarius, the water triad. This has two points in the unmanifested; and its manifested point, libra, is between the nature-side and the intelligent-side, connecting with both. Gemini is the origin of matter, that from which matter comes; the point libra of that triad is the neutral stage between nature-matter and intelligent-matter in manifestation, the stage in which nature-matter is changed and becomes intelligent-matter; aquarius is the stage where matter is no longer matter and becomes Conscious Sameness. The water triad is the means by which the ideal triad is worked out, and the ground on and from which this is done. The other two, the air and the earth triads, are the doers, the workers, that bring about the ideal accomplishment through and from the basis of matter.

There are three tetrads or groups of four signs. They are squares, (Fig. VII-H), or crosses, (Fig. VII-J). The first is aries, cancer, libra, capricorn; the second is taurus, leo, scorpio, aquarius; and the third is gemini, virgo, sagittary and pisces. The first tetrad, as a square, contains the plan and shows the processes by which the plan is carried out. It is unchanging and universal. The line from aries to cancer indicates the four points on the quarter circle and so stands for aries, taurus, gemini and cancer. The lines which are the other three sides of the square likewise stand for the points on their quarter circles. The first tetrad is a square that represents all the twelve points, whereas the second and third tetrads do not represent the twelve points, but the second is only the points taurus, leo, scorpio and aquarius, and the third is only gemini, virgo, sagittary and pisces.

By the plan of the first tetrad all accomplishments are attained. The plan is outlined in the unmanifested by the line aries to cancer, for nature; the line cancer to libra shows how the work is done by and in nature; the line libra to capricorn shows how the work is done on the intelligent-side; and the line capricorn to aries shows the four accomplishments.

The first tetrad, as a cross and as opposites, is the line aries to libra and the line cancer to capricorn. As a cross it is also fixed, stationary and universal. The line cancer to capricorn is the line of manifestation, where, at cancer, Substance becomes nature in its many units, and where, at capricorn, the units cease to be such and go back to the unmanifested as Conscious Sameness. The line aries to libra shows, in the manifested, nature-matter at its limits as nature-matter and the beginnings of intelligent-matter. In the unmanifested that line shows the limit of super-nature and of the super-intelligent becoming Consciousness.

The second and third tetrads as squares are just as fixed and unchanging as the first tetrad. They seem to be movable for the reason that the doer in human beings moves from one of these tetrads to the other. They are the means and the stages by which the plan shown by the aries tetrad is carried out. The square made by the lines taurus to leo, leo to scorpio, scorpio to aquarius and aquarius to taurus shows how the sign taurus, Motion, in super-nature acts in and affects nature in the spheres and in the worlds, how nature, as leo, acts with and affects desire on the intelligent-side, how scorpio affects aquarius in the super-intelligent, and how aquarius affects taurus. Taurus and its tetrad act through all human bodies, but particularly through a male body, from the point of desire. The square made by the lines gemini to virgo to sagittary to pisces and to gemini shows how gemini, Substance, in super-nature affects nature in the spheres and worlds, how nature as virgo acts on and affects thought on the intelligent-side, how sagittary affects pisces in the super-intelligent, and how pisces affects gemini. Gemini and its tetrad stand behind all human bodies, but act particularly through a female body from the nature point of virgo. Therefore a woman is more aided by and is more under the influence of nature than a man; the senses affect feeling, which is the virgo side of the psychic doer part, before they reach desire; and a woman lives more in the involuntary nervous system which is the system for nature.

The second and third squares show the succession in action from the nature-side to the intelligent-side and the reaction from the intelligent-side to the nature-side. Each of these squares shows how one set of signs acts particularly through a male body and the other acts particularly through a female body. The sex of the body, and all that goes with it as shown by the squares, is movable and does move from one square to the other and back, when the doer re-exists in a body that has the sex different from that of the last body. The first tetrad, which contains the plan of what is to be realized by the liberated doer, is neither male nor female, as are the second and the third. The human tetrads must ultimately be conformed to the universal sexless tetrad. Until then the doer moves from one of the movable tetrads to the other.

The second tetrad as a cross and as opposites is the line from taurus to scorpio and the line from leo to aquarius. To human conception one line represents Motion affecting desire and the reaction of desire on Motion; the other line shows life and Sameness acting and reacting. It is the male cross and shows the forces from the sphere of air, the life world, the form planes and the airy and fluid states of the physical plane acting through a male body. These forces are counterbalanced by powers from the super-intelligent of aquarius with which the run of human beings are not in touch. The third tetrad as a cross and as opposites is a line from gemini to sagittary with the line from virgo to pisces. This cross shows Intelligence affecting form, and thought affecting Substance. The cross is the female cross and shows the action and reaction of these powers, influences and qualities through a human body, but more particularly a female body.

The pattern on which both these second and third squares and crosses must work is the universal tetrad aries, cancer, libra, capricorn. So the unmanifested is worked out in the manifested. It is done on the manifested square, that is, from cancer to libra and from libra to capricorn. From conception to birth is the nature-side of that square, and from birth to death or to immortality is its intelligent-side. The body itself is the universal square, and the sex, libra, of it represents the male, scorpio, or the female, virgo, tetrad. In order to work on the universal square, the human sex, libra, must build the other tetrad within the body, because both must be in one body, that is, on the universal square. The tetrads as crosses, while showing different actions and reactions between their four points, show the same facts of human life from different standpoints.

When the doer is embodied in a male or in a female body it is on its cross, either the male cross or the female cross. There it suffers all that the flesh can do to it, until it brings its cross into alignment with the aries to libra and cancer to capricorn cross, the universal cross, and then there is no more suffering for it.

The pentads are four in number, each having the shape of a pentacle or pentagram, that is five lines making a five-pointed star, (Fig. VII-K). These pentads are, first, aries to leo, to aquarius, to gemini, to sagittary and back to aries; second, libra to aquarius, to leo, to sagittary, to gemini and back to libra; third, cancer to scorpio, to taurus, to virgo, to pisces and back to cancer; and fourth, capricorn to taurus, to scorpio, to pisces, to virgo and back to capricorn.

The first and second pentads are universal, (Fig. VII-K, a, b), the third and fourth are human, (Fig. VII-K, d, e). The action between the universal pentads goes on in and through a human body. The human pentads show the actions and reactions of the doer in a male or in a female body, to the action of the universal pentads in that body, (Fig. VII-K, g).

In the upper universal pentad action works from aries, Consciousness, towards leo, life, towards aquarius, Conscious Sameness, towards gemini, Substance, towards sagittary, thought, and back towards aries. Applied to a human body, the head acts on the solar plexus, which acts on the plexus between the shoulders, which acts on a plexus opposite in front, which acts on a plexus at the lumbar vertebrae, which acts on the head. In the lower universal pentad action works from libra, sex, to aquarius, Conscious Sameness, to leo, life, to sagittary, thought, to gemini, Substance, and back to libra. In the body sex acts on the plexus between the shoulders, where Sameness is now dormant; that plexus acts on life in the solar plexus; and that acts on the plexus in the lumbar region, thought; which acts on the plexus between the breasts, where Substance is dormant, and back to libra. The two universal pentads are symbols for the human body as the macrocosm, in which the doer as the microcosm works.

The universal pentads are also symbols for the aia and the breath-form and show the relation of the aia to the breath-form. The unmanifested macrocosmic pentad is the aia, the manifested macrocosmic pentad is the breath-form. The unmanifested as the aia is everywhere, and is present everywhere in the breath-form. The aia and the breath-form are thus locked up like the two macrocosmic pentads. The center of this figure, which is a six-pointed star, (Fig. VII-K, c), is the center of the circle. Through this center is conveyed into the breath-form for manifestation in a particular life something of that which is stored up in the unmanifested, the aia.

The human pentads, (Fig. VII-K, d, e), represent the doer acting in its human body. It acts between scorpio and capricorn. It can never be lower than scorpio nor higher than capricorn, because the doer is scorpio and the knower is capricorn in the capricorn atmosphere, or in the light world. The left pentad, with its head at cancer, represents the passive aspect of the doer. It does not represent nature, but the passive or cancer side of the capricorn part and the passive or virgo side of the scorpio part. The right pentad, with its head at capricorn, represents the capricorn aspect of the capricorn part and the scorpio aspect of the scorpio part. Both the human pentads, together, making a six-pointed star are a symbol of the doer; separately they show the relations of the passive to the active aspect of the doer, (Fig. VII-K, f). In a male physical body the active pentad of the doer is manifested, while the passive is hidden and unmanifested, and in a female body the passive pentad of the doer is manifested and the active is hidden or unmanifested.

The human pentads are symbols also for the human body. The left pentad, with the manifested signs cancer, virgo and scorpio indicates the type of a female body; the other pentad, with the signs virgo, scorpio and capricorn manifested, indicates that of a male body. However, in a male body virgo is suppressed and kept within, while in a female body scorpio is suppressed and kept within. Both virgo and scorpio are in one body; but one predominates and so is the characteristic of the type.

With the one pentad is always the semblance or shadow of the other. With the upper pentad is the lower, and with the right is the left. In each pentad are signs that are potential and in the unmanifested, and signs that are dormant, although in the manifested.

In the universal pentads the signs gemini, leo, sagittary and aquarius are common to both pentads, and the fifth sign is aries in the upper and libra in the lower pentad. When seen together these pentads make a six-pointed star, (Fig. VII-K, c). The human pentads have the signs taurus, pisces, virgo and scorpio in common, while cancer is the fifth in the female and capricorn the fifth in the male pentad. Together these pentads also make a six-pointed star, (Fig. VII-K, f).

The human body, as representing the breath-form, is a pentad, the universal pentad, and in it are both a male and a female human pentad, symbolizing the embodied doer portion. If the embodied doer portion is dominated by feeling it is symbolized by a human pentad having a point at virgo, and if it is dominated by desire, it is symbolized by a human pentad with a point at scorpio. Both human pentads are in the same body or universal pentad. But in a human body one pentad is accentuated on one side and inhibited on the other, so that the suppressed side does not function in its normal capacity. Thus, a man has feeling though his desire dominates him and a woman has desire though her feeling rules her. The two human pentads in a man or in a woman can meet by scorpio and capricorn coming together in the macrocosmic sign of sagittary. In this way a thought is created. The two pentads in one body might also come together when capricorn and pisces meet in aquarius, or pisces and taurus meet in aries, or taurus and cancer meet in gemini, or cancer and virgo meet in leo. But the meetings of the points of human pentads in the macroscopic signs next to them is a matter beyond the ordinary scope of comprehension; only the coming together in sagittary by thinking is a matter which will be understood.

There is one exception to the powers of both human pentads in the same body acting together in a macrocosmic sign. The exception is when they act on the physical plane of the physical world, for procreation. The male pentad having its point in scorpio cannot come together with the female pentad having its point in virgo, because the female organs do not function in a male body and the male organs do not function in a female body, and so the two sexual organs which are in the same body cannot function together to procreate. Two bodies of different sex are needed to come together for procreation. Then scorpio of the male pentad in a male body joins virgo of the female pentad in a female body, in libra, the macrocosmic sign.

Then there are two groups of six signs, the hexads, (Fig. VII-L). The signs in each group may be connected by lines which will make a six-pointed star. This geometrical symbol is composed not merely of two interlaced triangles, which, symbolizing the union of male and female, are a common sexual symbol, but added to it are the two diameters from the five-pointed stars out of which it was made. There is the universal hexad of aries, gemini, leo, libra, sagittary and aquarius. This hexad is a symbol of a physical body. The human hexad comprises the signs taurus, cancer, virgo, scorpio, capricorn and pisces. This hexad symbolizes the Triune Self acting in the body.

The symbolic meaning of the hexads differs from that of the pentads. Both the universal and both the human pentads cannot work completely in a human body at the same time, because the body is a sexual body, either male or female. In the case of the universal pentads only the manifested can, as the breath-form, work the body; the unmanifested, as the aia, cannot affect the body directly, but only through the pentad manifested as the breath-form. Similarly only one of the human pentads, the pentad of the male body or that of the female body, can function through the body worked by the breath-form. When a pair of pentads works coordinately, that is, both work together equally in the same body, the nature of the body changes from a sexual to a sexless body. Then the universal pentads become a hexad, the universal hexad, and the pair of human pentads becomes the human hexad.

Aspects of human bodies may be symbolized by triads, by tetrads or by pentads, but not by hexads. The universal hexad symbolizes a physical body in which male and female aspects have disappeared, which is without the sexes and in which the aia is manifested and operates, untouched by nature, as the direct instrument of the Triune Self. This hexad symbolizes also a body brought to that point of development where through it may be reached the forces of the earth sphere and of the worlds in it. The human hexad stands for a doer in a perfect body in whom neither feeling nor desire dominates, but both are adjusted so that their action is equal.

In the dyads, triads, tetrads and pentads some of the signs are manifested, some unmanifested. Some are actual, some potential. Only some signs, the manifested, represent actual relations, the unmanifested represent potential relations to the manifested signs. That for which the signs stand is everywhere. The signs are in every human body and they are in every doer in a human. Different things are, however, affected differently by them. Sometimes the relations are direct, sometimes indirect and sometimes potential. The meaning of the signs as here given refers to human beings. The meaning of the group signs applies to their bodies and their doers. These bodies are nature and super-nature, the doers are on the intelligent-side and are potentially Intelligences. The relations between that which human beings perceive as outside nature and as nature impersoned as their bodies on the one hand and their doers on the other, are thus shown by these geometrical symbols. The task of the embodied doer portion is to realize these relations by making the potential actual and waking the dormant to activity. Physically the task is to create a body in which there is both a front- or nature-column and a column for the Triune Self, so that the body will be immortal. At present there is no front-column and the station at libra is open as sex, either male or female.

In the monad and in the hexads there is not this distinction between some of the signs, which represent an actual relationship, and others which are unmanifested.

The hexads are symbols of realization, of perfection, where there is no unmanifested. When the universal and the human hexads work together they make the monad. Then the dyads, triads, tetrads and pentads, having done their work, are in alignment and can disappear because no longer needed. But the hexads remain and make the monad.

The zodiac, whether as the twelve constellations in the heavens or in any pictorial representation of the twelve symbols, is a constant reminder to human beings of their task to reach Oneness. They reach Oneness by thinking without creating thoughts.