Here’s one for the history books, since it will take some time for the general public to fully grasp what a powerfully lucid and relevant solution this is; but first – the problem:
If you run a search on the *four elemental worlds* you’ll run into at least 2 predominant arrangements with virtually no rational explanation for either of them. Getting clear on this topic is vitally important since this is where the magickal universe (presumably) begins; this is our *starting assumptions* from which all other 4-elemental rationales proceed. Indeed the Tree of Life itself is built upon these starting assumptions, yet there has been almost nothing published in the form of a coherent thesis explaining why the Four Elemental Worlds might align one way vs another. In truth, the order in which things manifest has not been an especially strong suit with western mysticism in general, which is why we find so many variations of just about everything from Tarot to the Tree of Life to Archetypal arrays and so on. For a mutational alchemist, this is an inexcusable sloth that only indicates that very few people have any real sense of any sort of underpinning universal properties and principles embedded in these systems.
In the first arrangement the Four Elemental Worlds begin from the element of Fire, then comes Air, then Water and finally Earth. In the second arrangement we also begin from Fire but the second rung of manifestation is Water, then Air and finally Earth. Which of these is correct? Perhaps neither is correct and there exists yet another arrangement of lesser stature that is, in fact, more accurate than either of these two! Occult scholarship has thus far been silent regarding this cornerstone doctrine. We find plenty of ambiguous discussion pertaining to the unqualified conclusions of persons unknown to us, but nothing even vaguely resembling a rational explanation.
Mutational Alchemy has uncovered a remarkable solution to this fairly pressing alchemical dilemma. As a starting point, let’s take a look at this elemental flow-chart:
In Mutational Alchemy, the four platonic elements exactly correspond to the first compound structures possible from Yin and Yang *fluxes* stacked one layer over another. Since we only have two of these flux values to concern ourselves with, this arrangement of *Bigrams* is called the *Binaries*. There is another very important arrangement that begins from 3 initial flux values called the *Ternaries* which yield a total of 9 root elemental compounds, but for the purposes of this article we will only be examining the Binaries.
The doctrine of the Bigrams is several thousand years old as any serious student of the I Ching (aka YiJing) can attest. Yet, for reasons unclear to us the Chinese Sages did not acknowledge the connection of the cardinal bigrams to the four-elemental system of western cosmologies, but instead spoke of them simply as *Forces*. A Yang flux-value is expressed as a solid line, a Yin flux-value is expressed as a broken line. The *Above* position is called *Heaven* and the *Below* position is called *Earth* in all instances. The four bigrammal *Forces* are as follows:
• A Yang of Heaven plus a Yang of Earth is called an *Old Yang*.
• A Yang of Heaven plus a Yin of Earth is called a *Young Yang*.
• A Yin of Heaven plus a Yang of Earth is called a *Young Yin*.
• A Yin of Heaven plus a Yin of Earth is called an *Old Yin*.
We can assign an infinite array of polar opposites to Yin and Yang flux-values but one of the most enduring methods for identifying elemental characteristics has been to divide Heaven into *Hot* (Yang) vs *Cold* (Yin) and divide Earth into *Dry* (Yang) vs *Wet* (Yin) polarities. From this strategy, the following elemental properties emerge:
• Hot + Dry = Fire, so an Old Yang equates to Fire.
• Hot + Wet = Air, so a Young Yang equates to Air.
• Cold + Dry = Earth, so a Young Yin equates to Earth.
• Cold + Wet = Water, so an Old Yin equates to Water.
There has not been a single document emerge from Ancient China to indicate that the Chinese scholars ever used modern binary notations typically expressed as 0 and 1. This is probably because, for them, the notation of Solid Lines and Broken Lines was perfectly adequate for their needs. As near as history records it, it was the German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz that first applied modern numeric binary values to Yin and Yang properties. By assigning 0′s to Yins and 1′s to Yangs, he was able to determine that the oldest known arrangement of 64 Hexagrams (called the Earlier Heaven Sequence) is mathematically coherent – that is – it follows an exact reverse-chronology from beginning to end. Applying the same technique to a much younger arrangement (called the Later Heaven Sequence) revealed that it is not chronologically exact. Whether or not it might yet be encrypted in some way is a matter of frequent intrigue and investigation among I Ching enthusiasts, but the Later Heaven arrangement as we have it in hand is neither chronological nor reverse-chronological at the numeric level.
The assigning of 0 to Yins and 1 to Yangs is a fundamentally arbitrary action, since insofar as chronological ordering itself is concerned, there is no implicit connectedness between yin-yang flux-values and numeric properties. Since forward numeric chronologies naturally progress from smallest to largest numbers, whatever comes at the beginning of a sequence should always be assigned the smallest number. Whatever comes at the end of a sequence should always be assigned the largest number. This is an important distinction for Mutational Alchemy which is very interested in all possible variations of numerical chronologies. In general, 4 such arrangements have emerged of greatest significance, called *Heaven Descending*, *Earth Ascending*, *Earth Descending* and *Heaven Ascending* respectively. It is the *Heaven Descending* arrangement that most immediately parallels the qabbalsitic Tree of Life which begins from a Yang Alpha point at Apex in the Above, progressing to a Yin Omega point at Antapex in the Below.
Now that we have laid in our ground rules, we can return to our chart to observe that the arrangement of Bigrams selected in this case follows the *Heaven Descending* pattern, since in either Eastern or Western metaphysics the general premise has been that manifest universe originates from an Apex point in Heaven, progressing to an Antapex point in Earth (modern alchemy generally prefers the terms Macrocosm and Microcosm). That this is the case is reflected in the fact that the Tree of Life naturally gravitates from Heaven to Earth numerically. By this reasoning alone we arrive at the notion that the correct arrangement of the Four Elemental Worlds should be following the *Heaven Descending* pattern and thus unfold Fire >>>Air >>>Earth >>>Water in the bigrams.
There remains, however, a nagging discrepancy difficult (at first) to put into words. Even though the Tree of Life itself does indeed follow the general chronology implicated in the *Heaven Descending* arrangement, it has to also be acknowledged that the Four Elemental Worlds actually come beforethe Tree of Life and may therefor be conforming to a different compass headings than would be proper for the 10 Sephiroth and 22 Paths. I actually puzzled over this for a number of years until it finally dawned on me that the solution (if there was one) might have something to do with *spiral motion*. The Tao Te Ching asserts that the *motion* of the Tao is both cyclical and spiral at once. Is it possible that the Spiral might have something to contribute to this immediate puzzle?
What I discovered is something that still astonishes me every time I examine it. I suppose you have to be very steeped in this question to fully experience that mind-boggling sense of awe and wonder, but what the Spiral tells us is that it may entirely depend upon your angle of approach, which way the Four Elemental Worlds can be said to be aligned. If we shoot straight down the middle in linear fashion we get the *Heaven Descending* pattern, but if we spiral in against that same arrangement we get Fire >>>Water >>>Air >>>Earth in a distinctly descending array! It happens that this arrangement is one of the two originally discussed at the beginning of this article, so lends credence to what appears to be the more contemporary view. The difference is that now we know something we did not know before. We know the physics behind this logical ordering!
It is very likely that the (unknown) authors of this more contemporary arrangement did not fully grasp the underpinning principles at play, or there would have almost certainly emerged some formal accounting of it by now. It most probably emerged out of an intuitive sense of *unease* with the former arrangement which we still find propagated publicly at large. Looking at things *generationally* it makes more sense for Father & Mother to occupy the position of Macrocosm with Son & Daughter occupying the position of Microcosm, simply because the first generation would typically be expected to manifest prior to the second. Without the Spiral, we have no easy way to resolve that apparent contradiction. Without considering the eastern bigrams at all, it is reasonable to think that this *generational* thinking may have emerged of its own accord. That it happens to coordinate perfectly with the *Heaven Descending* rationale put forth in Mutational Alchemy writings is a remarkable coincidence confirming both perspectives at once.
Pending an even more compelling proof than that which has already been uncovered, it is reasonable at this point to assert that the Four Elemental Words are in fact adhering to the *Heaven Descending* arrangement but that their movement is not like the linear movement found within the Tree of Life. Rather their movement is more akin to the motion of the Tao, as makes perfect sense considering their primordial, or *prima materia* nature as defined in traditional alchemical philosophy. Here then, is a glyph depicting how this all plays out:
The Eight Trigrams flanking the Four Elemental Worlds are included here as an addendum, since it is not incidental that the Later Heaven arrangement of Trigrams are paired into 4 distinct divisions from their inception. On the right side (with single dots) are listed Father, First Son, Second Son and Third Son as they appear in the Later Heaven arrangement. On the left side (with double dots) are shown the balancing Mother, First Daughter, Second Daughter and Third Daughter trigrams respectively. The Later Heaven (aka King Wen) arrangement as shown here is very interested in balanced pairs following a more encrypted thinking than we find in the Earlier Heaven (aka Fu Hsi) arrangement which is more numerically chronological.
Here’s another graphic outlining how the Tree of Life emerges from the Four Elemental Worlds. The fact that the Fire sphere brushes *0*at its uppermost arc lends additional credence to the idea that the motion of the Four Elemental Worlds themselves is different than the motion of the Tree of Life. The Tree only accesses *0* indirectly of itself. It more correctly begins from *1* as a manifestation of physical universe. This is something important to bear in mind: the entire Tree of Life is *physical*, despite what some might have you believe. Only *Nothing* itself can rightly be said to be *non-corporeal*, and that for reasons not clearly grasped by the majority of so-called *experts* in this area. What distinguishes *Nothing* is not so much that it has left the physical behind, but rather that it is impossible to distinguish things from things at that altitude. When a thing is indistinguishable from every other thing only *no-thing-ness* remains.
*Nothing* shares the attributes of the Tao, of which it is said:
The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
The Unnameable is the eternally Real.