VIII. The Octad - The Wheets*

[*Artificial formation from French huit, by analogy with cater, sink and sice.]


The Octad rebalances the instability of the Heptad and sets the stage for further development, so the Pythagoreans call it Safety and Foundation. It is the Octave: beginning of a similar progression on another plane. Since the Heptad comprises the complete cycle, which has prepared the way, therefore the Octad is the Second Beginning, the actual start on the Eightfold Path to universal bliss and cosmic equilibrium. Thus it is like the Dyad, but cubed (solidified), which puts its on the path to realization in the Decad. The Octad is called Paradise Regained; it is the Novice beginning a new life, the goal of the Initiate, and represents regeneration, renewal and resurrection.

The Octad is the Number of Divinity, for it is the Eighth Celestial Sphere, which encloses all the rest, and so the Pythagoreans say "All is Eight." Likewise the apex of a Babylonian temple was its Eighth Story, where earth and heaven meet.

When Inanna (Ishtar), Queen of Heaven, whose symbol is the Eight-Rayed Star, came through the Seven Gates of the Underworld, at each gate She was stripped of one of the Seven Powers of Office. Then She was required to crawl naked through the Eighth Gate, that in the Face of the Throne Room. Thus humbled, She came into the presence of Her sister Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld, and the Anunnaki, Her Seven Judges. These Eight overcame Inanna, and the glance of Ereshkigal brought about Her mortification. This was Inanna's Nigredo, for from this state of putrefaction She was reborn.

The Dyad is the Female Principle, and the Octad is the Threefold (2 X 2 X 2) Vessel of Rebirth. Thus the Pythagoreans call the Octad "Mother" because it is Female and belongs to Rhea, the Mother of the Gods, for although the Dyad belongs to Rhea in extension, the Octad belongs to Her seminally. In the Dyad She was the Mother of Nature, in the Octad She is the Spiritual Mother. The Octad is the Fount of Female Wisdom, and as Philosophia She nourishes the Seven Liberal Arts (1 + 7). The Pythagoreans also call the Octad the Source of Wisdom, Creative Thought, Love, Friendship, Prudence, Council and Justice. The Eightfold Life is a step above the Sevenfold Life of ordinary mankind, for the Four Elements of the body are governed by the Fourfold Soul. The common Tripartite Soul is completed by its fourth part, the Celestial Soul: Anima caelestis (8) atque animae rationabilis (7) & animalis (6) & vegetabilis (5).

The Octad integrates the First Monad, the Mundane Impulse, with the Second Monad, the Celestial Impulse (8 = 1 + 7), for both Monads are sui generis, unique principles, neither engendered nor engendering within the Decad (since no number in the Decad either divides or is divided by 7).

The Octad also represents Regular Division and Order in the Three-Dimensional Realm (2 X 2 X 2) as the Tetrad does in the Two-Dimensional Realm (2 X 2), which is the Earthly Plane, the Mundane Dimensions. Thus the Octad is the Cosmos: Organization and Law in the Celestial Dimension as well as in the Mundane Dimensions, for the Octad comprises two ordered worlds (2 X 4), the Mundane and the Celestial, for heaven has Four Quarters as does earth. The Octad represents the eternal, regular Laws of the Universe (material and spiritual), and the Pythagoreans call it Embracer of all Harmonies For Rhea is the Natural Flow (rhoe) of heaven and earth; and as She flows (rhuo) She breaths its eternal rhythm (rhuthmos).

In summary, the Octad is the first step on the path toward spiritual transformation, which ultimately brings understanding of both the celestial and mundane orders.

Wands: Decisive Action

The Wheet of Wands calls for a positive act of will; step forward and advance along your new path toward your goal. Be courageous; move quickly and decisively, and do not waste your time and energy on disputes with others (on the same or other paths) or on envy of their progress. The Eighth Gate is barred by Rivalry.

Image: A double cross formed of four golden keraunoi (thunderbolts), arranged horizontally and vertically, and four silver thursoi (pine-tipped staffs), arranged diagonally, tips outward. Fiery background.

Commentary: The two kinds of wands represent opposing wills or rivalry; also the keraunoi represent the four elements of the now-completed Celestial World, as the thursoi do of the previously completed Mundane World. The fiery background represents will, courage and decisive action.

Swords: Accepting Limitations

The Wheet of Swords indicates that you are intellectually a novice on your new path. You may be held back by confusion, limited knowledge, criticism, indecision or lack of confidence. Before you can tread your new path to freedom, you must acknowledge your ignorance, recognize your blindspots, accept past errors and have faith in yourself. The Eighth Gate is barred by Delusion.

Image: Eight swords arranged in a double cross, points directed toward the center, on a cloudy background. The vertical and horizontal swords are golden, the diagonal ones are silver.

Commentary: The swords' points are directed inward to represent acceptance of limitations, or the delusions barring escape. The hidden monad of the Seven of Wands is now opposed by an eighth sword. There are now four elements in the Celestial World (the golden swords) as there were in the Mundane World (silver swords). The clouds represent confusion, etc.

Cups: Renunciation

The Wheet of Cups calls for the past to be abandoned. You are entering a new phase of life, so you may have to discard accustomed ways, leave a comfortable situation, abandon previous plans, or forget past success. Nevertheless, this should be a happy prospect, for you are on a new path toward emotional and spiritual fulfillment. The Eighth Gate is barred by Memory.

Image: Eight cups arranged in a double cross. The vertical and horizontal cups are larger and golden, their mouths to the inside; the diagonal ones are smaller and silver, their mouths to the outside, pouring out their contents, which flows away in the background of blue-green water.

Commentary: The smaller silver cups, which are being emptied, represent the past; the golden cups represent future emotional fulfillment. The single vertical cup of the Seven of Cups now has a complementary partner to fill and by which to be filled.

Pentacles: Apprenticeship

Having resolved the uncertainties of the Sept of Pentacles, the Wheet finds you embarked in a new project of real significance. However, you are a novice in this endeavor, and humility, discipline and a willingness to learn will be necessary to acquire the required skill to accomplish your ends. Don't let impatience, laziness or vanity drive you back to the comfort of your past accomplishments. The Eighth Gate is barred by Inertia.

Image: An eight-rayed star (with no central circle); the horizontal and vertical rays are larger and golden, the diagonal ones are smaller and silver; there is a small colored circle at the end of each ray. Clockwise from the bottom, they are white, red, orange, yellow, purple, green, violet, blue. Brown background.

Commentary: The eight-rayed star represents the completion of the Celestial and Mundane Worlds. The new color, white, is the color of simplicity and innocence, leading to illumination and "transcendent perfection" (Cooper s.v. Colour). The brown background symbolizes humility, one's status as a novice.

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Last update: Tue Jul 6 12:03:13 EDT 1999