The Double-Triadic Hexagram

September 30th, 2010

Eight glyphs from Barbara Walker‘s The I Ching of the Goddess whose sequence derives the hexagram.

Figure 1 (p17).

“The original triangle stood for the Goddess’s trinity of Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer, she of a thousand names, such as Maya the birth-giving Virgin, Durga the preserving Mother, and Kali Ma the death-dealing Crone. Her primary symbol was a downward-pointing triangle, the Yoni Yantra, sometimes called Kali Yantra. This represented a vulva (Sanskrit yoni), and femaleness in general: by extension, a womb, motherhood, female sexuality, the life spirit embodied in menstrual blood, or the world-activating power of the Goddess herself. The same symbol stood for ‘woman’ and ‘Goddess’ among ancient Egyptians, pre-Hellenic Greeks, Tantric Buddhists, and the gypsies who migrated westward from Hindustan. The primordial female triangle became a male-female hexagram by eight stages, graphically represented as follows.

“At first there was only the Goddess alone, containing within herself all the elements in a fluid, unformed state (Fig. 1)” (p16-17).

Figure 2 (p17).

“With the passage of ages and by her will, eventually a spark of life was formed within her core, represented by a dot (Fig. 2). Tantric sages called this spark the bindu, and one of the Goddess’s titles was Bindumati, Mother of the Bindu. Among Cabalists it became Bina, the Womb of Earth” (p17).

Figure 3 (p17).

“The bindu grew and slowly became a separate being within the Mother (Fig. 3), though it still lay wholly inside her borders. At this early stage of the divine creation, the sages said, darkness (the god) was still enveloped in a greater Darkness (his Mother). The god was still one with the author of his being, Maha-Kali, the Great Power” (p17).

Figure 4 (p17).

“At the fourth stage, the god was born. Represented by an upward-pointing triangle—which often symbolized the masculine principle of fire—the god broke through the boundaries of the primordial maternal triangle (Fig. 4). Here, at the moment of ‘birth,’ the idea of the male deity was conveyed by three solid lines, while that of the female deity became three broken lines. Thus was the design taken apart, and its components utilized as trigrams and hexagrams in the I Ching” (p17).

Figure 5 (p19).

“In allowing her boundaries to be penetrated from within by an emerging Other, the Goddess demonstrated her true creativity. She became the universal Mother. This crucial moment of birth was synonymous with creation, according to the ancient concept. This was the moment when the Goddess (not the emerging God) said, ‘Let there be light,’ because the eyes of her newborn first perceived the light of existence, as he himself might become the light of fire or the sun. In the classical world, the Goddess had names like Juno Lucina or Diana Lucifera, the Bringer of Light. From her the biblical Yahweh copied his Fiat lux.

“The god’s birth was celebrated each year at midwinter. The nocturnal festival was known as the Night of the Mother to pre-Christian Britons, which may explain why Christmas Eve (the time of the actual birth) carried even more significance in Old England than Christmas Day. In Alexandria, the god’s birth was hailed by joyful shouts: ‘The Virgin (Kore) has given birth! The light grows!’ The naked image of the divine birth-giving Virgin was decorated with gold stars and carried seven times around the temple.

“Just as, in pagan belief, creation was a birth, so every birth was a new creation. Each year the Aeon or year-god was reborn from the eternally virgin, eternally maternal Goddess. Thus, at the mystic point of creation itself, the graphic symbol of the Mother became three broken lines, while that of her son-spouse was three solid lines.

“Male and female triangles, one separated, came together again in a very ancient figure that later rounded off to the mathematical symbol of infinity in so-called Arabic numerals, which were actually Hindu in origin. The two tangential circles or teardrop shapes of this sign meant the same as two tangential triangles: the two sexes in contact (Fig. 5). The female triangle above now took on the aspect of a nourishing breast, while the male received her nourishment.

“This was also taken as a sexual sign, in unconscious but nevertheless real recognition of the connection between adult sexuality and bond between mother and infant. According to Tantric symbolism, the female triangle was placed above the male, who then assumed all forms of relationship with her: offspring, twin, spouse, and eventually sacrificial victim, as he became the eternally dying-and-reborn god, similar to Osiris, Attis, Dionysus, Adonis, Orpheus, Yama, and so on. Therefore Tantric yogis and their shaktis (priestesses) favored female-superior sexual positions, which Vedic and Confucian patriarchs condemned because of their association with the Old Religion that they wanted to erase. Though this style of lovemaking was instituted by Shiva as Universal God and the original ‘daughters of the sages’ (shaktis), patriarchal Brahman priests insisted that it was a perversion” (p17-18).

Figure 6 (p19).

“However, Tantric yogis continued to hold that sexual union in true love was an intimation of divinity, giving the partners a sense of merging ‘like pouring of water into water’ (Fig. 6). Similarly in Egypt, the Goddess and her god were represented by vessels of water, their conjunction by a combination of the two waters, as in the sacred talisman known as menat. In the Middle East, a sacrificial god was preceded by a vessel of water in procession to his place of execution, a tradition that was followed even in the story of Jesus (Mark 14:13). Like Shiva, the Christian God also was born of the same Mother on whom, as a divine spouse, he begot himself” (p18-19).

Figure 7 (p19).

“By penetrating each other to the farthest boundary, god and Goddess formed between them the ancient Tantric symbol of the world and also the yoni: a diamond (Fig. 7), flanked by four new triangles that were assimilated to the elements, the four directions, the four corners of the earth (when the earth was supposed to be square), the four winds, the four divisions of the zodiac, the four Sons of Horus, or the Norsemen’s related spirits of north, east, south, and west that upheld the heavens. Sometimes this symbol represented a family or clan. All these ideas could be expressed in a simple glyph of six lines” (p19).

Figure 8 (p19).

“Finally, the ultimate interpenetration was shown by the full hexagram (Fig. 8). Male and female principles extended even beyond each other’s boundaries, becoming ‘one’ in sixfold symmetry. This was the union proposed by cabalists as well as Tantric sages: the symbol of eternal conception and re-creation. This was the hidden reason for the rabbinic traditions claiming that the Ark of the Covenant contained male and female images sexually joined, ‘in the form of a hexagram,’ and that the triple six of Solomon’s golden talents (1 Kings 10:14) represented the king’s sexual union with his goddess, who gave him his great wisdom.

“This explains also the early Christian’s horror of the sixfold symbol of Aphrodite, similarly united with Hermes as the first ‘hermaphrodite,’ and their insistence that three sixes made a devilish number (666) and six was the ‘number of sin.’ However, such sexual joining was envisioned for the male-female Primal Androgyne common to ancient India, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Even Jewish patriarchs declared that Adam and Eve were androgynously united in one body until God separated them.

“The ultimate absorption of the god into the Yoni Yantra (Goddess) was his immolation, usually conceived as a voluntary sacrifice of his life for salvation of the earthly world, which needed the life-force inherent in divine blood. As Kali the Destroyer, the Goddess devoured her consort and returned to the original solitary female form of the Yantra (Fig. 1). Thus the cycles of creation and destruction were carried on throughout the life of universe” (p19-20).