What’s so important about the number twelve? It’s everywhere! Twelve disciples. Twelve members to a jury. Twelve months in a year and twelve signs of the zodiac. Even eggs are sold in dozens.
Watch the video as well!
Twelve Months, Twelve Signs, Twelve Houses
Why would the number twelve be so important in lifestyle patterns? Well, four times three makes twelve. So why would four and three be significant?
The classical philosophers explained the complexity of nature in terms of simpler substances they called ‘elements’. They described four basic metaphysical substances: Fire, Air, Water, Earth. There is a fifth element – ‘Ether’ or quinta essentia, which is an all pervasive life-force, rather like prana in the yogic tradition. The four elements follow a sequence of development, from invisible and intangible, to manifest and solid.
Fire begins the sequence. This high intensity element is enlivening and represents the initiatory, creative impulse. We can associate Fire with ‘spirit’, with our Soul’s Divine intention.
Air allows Fire to breathe, to unfold its potential by a cooling process that enables the creative impulse to identify the shapes it desires to establish. We can associate Air with ‘mind’, with our thinking process, with the way we plan and organise our Divine intention.
Water is a life-enhancing element that nourishes and sustains. We can associate Water with ‘emotions’, with our feelings, with our capacity for nurturing and loving. It is through Love that Divine intention can manifest its highest potential.
Earth is the element of activity and manifestation. We can associate Earth with our ‘physical’ body, with our life here on planet Earth as human beings. We can choose to undertake practical applications, using our hands and our tools to create our Soul’s desires in this lifetime.
The ancients understood that there are three basic, unfolding stages for all time-based activities. These stages follow the sequence demonstrated by the celestial bodies, most obviously when we observe the way the Sun appears to move through the sky above us:
The Sun rises
The Sun shines at its height
The Sun sets and disappears
In the same way, every activity we can engage in has opportunities to arise, to shine and to disperse.
In astrological language these three stages are called ‘modes’ and are labelled as Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable. Every one of the four elements takes on different qualities when expressed through these three opportunities. That makes twelve variations altogether. Here’s how the pattern will work when the elements and modes combine:
Rising or Cardinal – A new beginning. An initiatory possibility.
- A Cardinal opportunity for Fire could be literally be lighting a small bonfire. Inspiring a spiritual movement. For instance, Martin Luther (1483–1546) lit a metaphorical ‘bonfire’ when his ideas provoked the Reformation.
- For Air, this might be designing a new creative plan, perhaps an outline for a book, or a religious or political manifesto.
- For Water, the initiation of an emotional desire is recognised as a new beginning. This event is often associated with a baptism at a font, or descent into the mikvah, the holy water. A marriage ceremony. Any deeply felt promise to sustain and nurture spiritual or family tradition.
- For Earth, it could mean the start of a significant material project, such as the laying of a foundation stone; the signing of a contract to begin a new business; purchasing the paint to decorate the house.
- The Cardinal signs of the Zodiac are: Aries (Fire); Cancer (Water); Libra (Air); Capricorn (Earth).
Shining or Fixed
- During the shining stage, Fire will be highly visible. The little bonfire will develop into a furnace! Someone’s career could take off and receive public attention. The charisma of a movie star, a politician, a religious leader, will catch people’s imagination and devotion.
- The ideas initiated by Air in the planning phase will gather pace and gain notoriety. An author who scribbled ideas in her notebook over many cups of tea in a local café will find a publishing house to get her stories into print, or possibly finds a film producer.
- For Water, the emotional commitments made in the Cardinal stage will be sustained when the initiate, or the married couple, establish a firm, ongoing commitment to the feeling and values they honour.
- The building is complete! Photographs are taken. The ribbon is cut. Your new bedroom is ready to sleep in and enjoy. This is when something manifests in the physical world.
- The Fixed signs of the Zodiac are: Taurus (Earth); Leo (Fire); Scorpio (Water); Aquarius (Air).
Setting or Mutable
- The bonfire settles down into dying embers. People can still stay warm for a while. But don’t forget, someone can come along and light a new beacon from the glowing coals. The inspiration of a charismatic religious or political figure can arise again in younger generations.
- The ideas initiated and developed with the liveliness of Air are now old concepts that might seem outdated. But new ideas are often stirred when we revisit earlier topics. The Sherlock Holmes stories were shining during Conan Doyle’s lifetime. They were revived when television and film companies took the genre forward. Now we have stories by new authors, taking Sherlock as their starting place.
- The emotional bonds of Water that hold people in relationships dissolve over time. Sometimes, people we love go ‘over the horizon’, just like the Sun at the end of the day. Children grow up and leave an empty nest. Marriages seem to have less purpose, Commitments change. But we remember Love is as strong as Death. Anyone we love will always be in our heart, even when life events unfold to create distances between us – Lux et Umbra vicissum, sed semper Amor – Light and Dark by turns but always Love.
- Buildings are demolished. Villages are abandoned. Old curtains are taken down. But material resources can be repurposed. Cathedrals are no longer used very much as places of worship, but as examples of amazing architecture, visited mostly by tourists. Chapels become music venues. Shopping malls are converted to flats. Curtains can become cushion covers.
- The Mutable signs of the Zodiac are: Gemini (Air); Virgo (Earth); Sagittarius (Fire); Pisces (Water).
The flow of this three-fold movement is rather like a piece of music, or a story arc that moves through phases from inception, development and resolution. The most exciting creative opportunities reveal themselves when we identify the phase we are in and realise we cannot keep it still for long. When we start our project, we look forward to shining, but we should not grasp that moment forever. We should allow the natural dissolution to follow without resistance. When we take a lively attitude to the way time will always present this sequence, we can look to conceiving a new project, even as the previous one is starting to fade and recede, no longer requiring all our attention and focus.
Here endeth today’s lesson! I’ll be back before long with some more Mystical Wisdom concerning your Life Purpose. I’ll be explaining how you can identify which of those ‘mansions’ (the subject of my last blog) will be the most comfortable and reassuring place to live and express your Soul’s desire for this lifetime.
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To discover more about your own personal Divine Contract and how you can enable your Soul to best fulfill its requirements, you could explore my course, Grounding Your Life Purpose, either as Self-Study or with personal supervision from me. There are currently Special Offers on both versions of the course.