Astrology’s Sacred Arithmetic

Exploring Titus Burckhardt’s “Mystical Astrology According to Ibn ‘Arabi” continued:

Titus Burckhardt presents the symbolic arithmetic that may be found in astrology. Presented in a tabular form we have:


He devotes some attention to the three movements and the elements. He discusses the elements and the qualities out of which they arrive first. The quaternary arises out of the manifested contrasts that can be experienced through the equinoxes and solstices which determine the differentiation of the signs of the zodiac. There are two pairs of contrasting qualities; heat and cold; dry and humid. The first pair are active and the second are passive qualities. These are fundamental tendencies of universal Nature (at-tabi’ah). Each pair are polar opposite to one another. It is not possible for them to manifest together. For example hot and cold would negate each other and so prevent manifestation. In order for the sensible world to manifest, a combination of an active and a passive tendency is necessary. This is the principle of gender. So In Aries we have the active tendency of hot combining with the passive tendency of dry, giving fire. The same occurs in Leo and Sagittarius. Note that something important happens here. We have for each of the four elements (manifestation of Nature) a ternary grouping. The same is the case in the three ternary movements of the Spirit in respect to the elements.

Let us look now at the three movements in more detail. Here again it is helpful to look at them in tabular form:


Notice that the three worlds do not explicitly include a past world. You may wonder why that is so. It may seem confusing but these worlds are not identical with the timeframes of past, present and future. One has a vertical orientation while the other is horizontal. There are of course correspondences. The most interesting is the intermediate or imaginal world. Here all three conditions of time can be “present”. This “presence” is the presence of the Divine Word, the Real, the metacosm, as mirrored in the macrocosm and most particularly in man (Adam) the microcosm. So it is, for example, not surprising that the the mutable earth sign, Virgo, is associated with the human body or that the other mutable signs are associated with the other realms of Nature (mineral, plant and animal).

This diagramme might help:

the Real
––––––––––— the intermediate or imaginal world (bazarkh)

The line represents the bazarkh. It seemingly faces an above and below and appears to divide them. But this is not so. The line is a mirror of both the Real and creation which in turn mirror each other. If you look behind a mirror you won’t find a reflection. The reflection always faces that which is reflected. When the Real shines into creation the barzakh is the shadow that is cast. The shadow is as real as that which casts it, but it is not tangible. Ever try to catch your own shadow?

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