The Number Four in 2020

On this gray, cold, drizzly day, I’ve been thinking obsessing about the symbolic meaning of the number 4. What is a poet without obsessions, right?

The year we’ve just entered, 2020, reduces to four.

In Tarot for Your Self, Mary Greer, writing about fours, lists several key words that relate to this number, including “stability, foundations, law and order, conventions of society.”

She goes on to say that the basic conflict of the number 4 is the tension between the desire for security and stability and the desire for change, expansion, and growth.

Four cardinal directions.

Four seasons of the year.

Four weeks in a month.

Four lines in a quatrain.

Four beats to a line, iambic tetrameter.

The Emperor, fourth card of the tarot deck, archetype that includes father, the patriarch.

Carl Jung weaves the number four into his thinking about archetypes and the human psyche.

He identifies four basic archetypes: the Self, the Shadow, the Persona, and the Anima/Animus.

He identifies four functions of the personality: thinking, feeling, intuition, and sensation.

For in-depth discussions about these four archetypes, I recommend This Jungian Life, a podcast devoted to exploring the psychology of Carl Jung and its application to contemporary life.

Listening to this podcast led me to Jung’s concept of the quaternity, or groupings of four.

Daryl Sharp’s Jung Lexicon defines a quaternity asan image with a four-fold structure, usually square or circular and symmetrical; psychologically, it points to the idea of wholeness.”

We’re in an Emperor year, but it feels like the Emperor is reversed.

According to Mary Greer, when the Emperor card shows up reversed in a reading, it indicates: “Autocrat. Self-righteous tyranny. Or, weak-willed, unmanly cowardice… Trust betrayed. Failed leader.”

All of these words can be applied to the current occupant of the White House as well as most members of the Republican legislature.

Where can we as a society find the stability, security, and order we seek? How can we heal the planet and also ourselves? By integrating our shadow and becoming whole. By reconfiguring old patriarchal values, a square pillar, into a circle divided by a cross, a mandala for wholeness, stability through inter connectivity.

By Tibetan, Central Tibet, Tsang (Ngor Monastery), Sakya orderDetails of artist on Google Art Project – qQErBDO0BtuQsQ at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76936937

Art in the Family

We had both our sons home for dinner tonight! Philosopher and Freeboarder debated the role of art in society with their father. I sipped some pinot grigio and listened. With three males asserting their intellect, it’s better to stay quiet. Easter baskets will appear tomorrow.

20110423-094438.jpg

The Easter Reindeer.

What Does it Mean When… ?

My dreams have been highly charged with symbolic images lately, more than likely due to my reading of Man and His Symbols, by Jung et al. I’ve scribbled a few haphazard images down in my journal, but there’s been little free time to think about what the dreams might mean. Instead, I’ve been reading poetry, attending readings, grading papers, planning for classes, cooking a few dinners here and there, and trying to revise a few poems.

I qualify any interpretations of dreams with a big question mark, because it takes a long time to see the patterns in dream symbols. What does it mean if I see a horse lying on its side in a ditch? The only way to know is to take a wait and see attitude.

I let the image simmer for a while, and if it stays with me, I’ll free-write about it. I’ve come up with some rollicking prose poems that way. They’re self-indulgent, but very fun to write. My current project is about miniature foxes.

One of my favorite fiction writers is Kelly Link. She writes about zombies, mysterious rabbits, and homunculi, among other topics. Her stories lend themselves to anyone who enjoys dream imagery, postmodern fantasy, or magic. You can download portions of Magic for Beginners from her website.