In numerology if a person's life-path (birth number) is four then they must "learn the advantage gained for self through system and order, toward the accomplishing of his/her goals." Excuse me while I gag. I have the dubious honour of having this number as my 'life -path' & have always resented it's plodding feel & lack of adventure, not of course that I live my life by it, but every so often it rears it's orderly head.
Well the little beast has been cropping up a lot lately, so I felt pulled to look closer.
In Ellis Taylor's In these Signs Conquer he devotes a whole chapter to this little number. One point in particular really hit home - how the actual structure of the oft used symbol '4' affects us;
"As you can see this 4-symbol is an upside down cross with a rear diagonal... An upside down cross is a symbol of spiritual death. This cross is also distorted and that has a significant bearing on our thought processing & thinking...This number 4 is not only entirely intellectually focused it is backward looking as well. Another problem with the subliminal motives of this symbol is that it completely engulfs & locks away our emotional and unconscious minds... Number 4 is a box and it will box you in...There is something else about this symbol too. Notice how it stands on one leg. It must be a real effort to keep it's balance that's why this figure 4 is so cantankerous and can be violent as well. It can never move forward...If it tries on only one leg it will topple backwards, being so heavy in the arse area."
The book goes into greater detail & gives Ellis' depiction of an open & balanced way to write this number using only vertical & horizontal strokes, with the horizontal stroke always sitting balanced on the base line. I am reminded of a book I read some time ago about how changing your handwriting can help with changes in your life & indeed when browsing on the Internet I found a whole 'new' therapy - "Graphotherapists have won the support of doctors, teachers and psychologists (I know, I know standard trigger words to make us instantly accept) for success in clearing up mental disturbances in children by changing their handwriting" & "The treatment of personality and character flaws through deliberately made changes in the handwriting, offers a whole new field for the graphologist and subject alike." The point I'm trying to make is simply that the shape of these 'symbols' that we constantly use, affect us - if the shape of your handwriting triggers your subconscious then the symbols we are forced to use & are visually bombarded with daily most certainly do & their shapes are no accident.
Just for fun, last week at work when I was hand writing some numbers I played with changing each one, adding a little something extra without disguising their original shape, it was actually quite hard, so programmed am I to writing them in their 'proper' form. I wonder if it would be therapeutic to do this more often - make the symbol a little more personal perhaps, you know have a bit of fun with them. It makes me think of how little say we've had in the development of well, pretty much everything. The building blocks are provided from the day we're born, we just shuffle them around - perhaps it makes 42 as the 'meaning to Life, Death & the Universe a bit more understandable - all just a matter of learning, writing & being programmed by 'symbols'.
Lets return 4thwith to our topic & see how this number seems to be the foundation upon which our physical world lies.
Sound the great trumpet for our freedom,
Raise the banner for gathering our exiles,
And gather us together from THE FOUR CORNERS OF
into our own land"
(A prayer chanted thrice daily by religious Jews for nearly 2000 years as they face Jerusalem.)
While not geographically correct, the term 'four corners of the earth has been in use for a very long time & indeed as I've gone snuffling around in the undergrowth it could very well be seen as a clue to the building blocks of our world which seem so often to total four.
Starting with a species with which we are both familiar & completely at at a loss to explain - our human selves, we have four of our very own building blocks - "Four base molecules make up the DNA code: adenine, cytosine, thymine, and guanine, usually referred to by their first letters A, C, T & G". We have four blood types (A, B, O, AB) - cough, cough, spot our reduction to symbols yet again! Our hearts, which are so sorely tested these days, have four chambers (as do all mammalian hearts).
Step back into history for a day & you could be so much more than just a 'star sign', you could be a 'temperament', of which there were four -sanguine, choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic.
"Hippocrates (b. ca. 460 B.C.) urged that sine qua non of science: observation. In the course of the studies that merited his becoming known as "the Father of Medicine," he noticed that blood removed from the body separates into four parts: the clear red, a yellowish liquid that rises to the top, the dark liquid that settles to the bottom, and whitish fluid. He and his students, especially his son-in-law, Polybus, took these observations and developed a theory of medicine that was to hold sway in the West and in the Islamic world for thousands of years." Go here & scroll down if you want to see what you are - obviously no one is going to own up to being phlegm. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phlegmatic
Now lets step out doors into those four corners of our world. Which direction are you headed - you've got four cardinal directions to choose from: north, south, east & west. How's the weather with you, which of the four seasons are you experiencing? What time of day is it - which of the four parts of the day are you missing by spending time on the computer - night, morning, afternoon or evening?
The belief in the four elements of fire, earth, air & water goes back to the Greeks & "persisted throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, deeply influencing European thought and culture." The ancient Greek word for element (stoicheion) literally means "letter (of the alphabet)", the basic unit from which a word is formed (hmm ...always we come back to these symbols).
So earth, where we have our home is one of these four elements. "Everything on Earth can be explained in terms of 4 states (phases) of matter-- solid, liquid, gas, and plasma." (I must mention here that I did find a few sites with some 'modern' additions, but just for now lets go with what most people 'believe' - please don't go getting all 'choleric' on me).
Skipping into the Twilight Zone for a second we find that Einstein believed that time was the fourth dimension. It seems there are big sciency debates about that & I'm no scientist so I'm not going there, but much attention is certainly focused on dimension numero four.
Pausing in the Religious Zone, we have the four gospels or 'god spells' - so even he's using those damn symbols! We also find those equestrian harbingers of doom, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. I have read that four is "a symbolic number used throughout in the Old Testament" but am not going to check that out as there are limits to what I'll research.
Dipping our toes in a little further: "Again we see the theme of the four rivers in Paradise. There are four Evangelists, chef arch-angels, chef-devils, four Fathers of the Church, Great Prophets. There are four cardinal virtues--prudence, fortitude, justice, temperance. The are four winds from which the One Spirit is said to come." Plus in Revelation: "There four angels standing at the four corners of the Earth, holding back the four winds of the earth (Rev 7:1)." Plus "Four is the number representing the body, with three representing the soul."
And of course who can fo(u)rget the four-pronged Cross, I took a break from this article a little while ago & went for a walk. It's Sunday here & I passed a number of people making their way into churches & it struck me just how strong an image this 'cross' is.
"The Christian cross is the best-known religious symbol of Christianity" - to put it in a nutshell this four sided symbol has the power to bring more than a billion people to their knees!
Switching to a more exotic flavour of religion we have the Egyptians :"Four is the sacred number of Time, measurement of the sun. Four pillars support the vault of heaven. There are four canopic jars placed around the dead at the four corners guarded by the four sons of Horus who are associated with the cardinal points. In the Hermetic it is the divine quaternity. It represents God."
Turning to native Americans now: "As in other cultures, ceremonies and ritual acts are repeated in fours. The Native American cultures have used the number 4 most frequently as in the four cardinal directions. The four winds are depicted by the symbol of the cross and by the symbol of the swastika."
1925 Native American "good fortune" (swastika symbol) quilt. Hidden in storage 70 years because of the Nazi Party's use of the swastika
Peeking round the corner into the Buddhist Zone we have the Four Noble Truths - based around the concept that life is suffering, it didn't really grab me, but go forth and investigate by all means. http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/fourtruths.html
Control & religion in all their various camouflaged disguises have never been shy of using what works best & the number 4 does seem to have come in mighty handy:
"The symbolic meanings of the number four are linked to those of the cross and the square. 'almost from prehistoric times, the number four was employed to signify what was solid, what could be touched and felt. Its relationship to the cross (four points) made it an outstanding symbol of wholeness and universality, a symbol which drew all to itself'. where lines of latitude and longitude intersect, they divide the earth into four proportions. throughout the world kings and chieftains have been called 'lord of the four suns'...'lord of the four quarters of the earth'... by which is understood to the extent of their powers both territorially and in terms of total control of their subjects' doings."
And I thought four was boring!
Some more interesting fours-
"A four-letter word is used to describe most swear words in the English language, as most such terms do indeed possess four letters."
"Four is the only number in the English language for which the number of letters in its name is equal to the number itself."
I don't suppose this one is an accident "On many computer keyboards, the "4" key may also be used to type the dollar sign ($)"
"Four suits of playing cards : hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades."
"Four rules : addition, subtraction, multiplication, division."
"Four nations of the United Kingdom: England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland."
"Four estates : politics, administration, judiciary, journalism. Especially in the expression "Fourth Estate", which means journalism." - and we know the power that wields.
"The Beatles were also known as the 'Fab Four': John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney."
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote four Sherlock Holmes novels, the second of these was called The Sign of Four. Totally off the subject, I spotted an interesting 'turn of name' in his first novel A Study in Scarlet - you know how you start questioning all the things you used to love because you keep finding so much that is hidden, well on listening to this first novel not so long ago, I noted that the name of the fated heroine, Lucy Ferrier, sounded remarkably like Lucifer - obviously I may just be being imaginative. A little snippet "On 26th January 1887, Arthur Conan Doyle was initiated into Freemasonry in Phoenix Lodge No. 257 in Southsea, aged 27. Among those present was Dr James Watson, with whom Doyle became very friendly, and whose name has been immortalised in the Holmes stories."
"The Kabbalah distinguishes between four different "worlds" or "planes,".
"There are four creatures on the arms of Freemasonry."
According to Carl Jung, there are four primary mental functions - Thinking, Feeling, Intuition & Sensing.
And "four dimensions of modern science: length, breadth, width, and time."
Discovering a place in the U.S called the The Four Corners was most intriguing. This is the only place in America where four States - Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona & Utah, come together at one place.
"Another popular place for talk of underground activity is the area known as the Four Corners. This is the place where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico meet to share a common border. According to intelligence reports from several of my sources there are “at least six underground facilities in this area,” This is also the area where a large number of people died a “mysterious” death a few years back. Are there connections?
This harsh but beautiful arid land is also where the government decided to place several Indian Reservations. However, the Hopi Indians have been in this area as long as they can remember and luckily for us, their history of origin contains important details not found in the memory of other tribes."
The Hopi believe that this world we live in is the Fourth World and the other three are inside the earth. In stages, and through many hardships, they emerged from a hole called Sipapu, entrance to the Hopi underground."
Four is the number of physical manifestation, in this world of ours. We use the four energy to turn dreams into reality. It's our basic building block - mundane & crucial. So it's not really surprising that it's symbol (4) has been 'adjusted'. On top of the information already given I can't help also seeing the symbol '4' as a triangle, which to my mind indicates 3 & I wonder if this is not yet another layer to the all round trickery involved, another confusion for our already overburdened senses.
I have wondered during my travels with 'four' if it would benefit us to create our own feelings about numbers, instead of being manoeuvered by the symbols that have stalked us since birth. I have been playing with the idea of creating a feeling of 'solid foundations' whenever I see the unbalanced 4 symbol - a personal effort to reconnect with an important little number.