In response to the last essay, Andrew Carter has made the following very important comment:
“The Alif is determinative, the Mîm is possessive, the Lâm is copulative; with the air signs (for example) it is of interest that in the case of Libra, the scales are never balanced, but are definitely “either/or”! In the case of Aquarius, there is an Islamic depiction of a mule carrying two baskets, duty and discipline. And in the case of Gemini, there is “the self and the other,” though perhaps that should be “the self or the other.” So there seems to be a way to approach an understanding of the signs through the three letters in combination with the intrinsic qualities of the signs; it is a kind of linguistic shorthand, though that description is (I realize) inadequate.”
In describing alif as determinative, lâm as copulative, mîm as possessive Andrew has pointed to a grammatical quality on which it is worthwhile to elaborate further. The arabic letters themselves show this. Until now I only had an abstract understanding why grammar was considered one of the seven liberal arts. In this context it becomes clear that grammar was deemed so important because language and its structure was considered a revelation of the language of God. Without grammar there can be no science or philosophy!
Back to grammar. Each of these qualities can have an active and a passive expression.
- to determine or be determined by
- to engage (copulate) or be engaged by
- to possess or be possessed by
This is very essential as it shows that the signs can have both these qualities. Andrew has given a nice description of the air signs and so I’ll demonstrate this with the water signs.
Let us begin with the cardinal water sign, Cancer. It should be noted that each cardinal sign is also the impulse giver for its respective group of elemental signs. (We will look at the signs in the cardinal, mutable, fixed order as given by the alif, lâm, mîm paradigm.) The angel of Cancer holds the keys to the creation of this world. This means the world in its pristine state. The angel of the mutable water sign Pisces holds the keys to the creation of the animals. We have seen that each of the mutable signs is related to one of the realms of Nature. The watery realm is particularily exemplary of the substance of the soul (nafs) not only in expression but also in Form. The variety of Form in the animal world unfolds in an imagal fashion. Each animal in effect representing a particular expression of on of the flowing qualities of the soul. So the nature of an alligator is expressed not only in his behavior but also in his Form. The same applies to any other animal whether, fish, reptile, amphibian, fowl, or mammel. Man contains within his soul the whole animal world. In him each expression however remains as possibility and does not take on material form. Instead it is expressed in how he engages with the world. So the rapacious human being expresses his reptilian nature through his deeds. He has the conscious choice of expressing himself as an alligator. The alligator does not and is therefore innocent. Now if the human being carries the engagement with a particular soul quality to the extreme he possesses it, or more likely, becomes possessed by it. Here we come to the third sign in the group. Scorpio’s angel holds the keys to the creation of infernal fire. Here the soul quality freezes, becomes ice. Infernal fire does not warm but burns the soul. And so emotion that no longer has motion is held, is possessed and possesses. The human being whose emotion becomes fixed does indeed feel it as unquenchable fire!