The Tetrad. 4


THE Pythagoreans, said Nicomachus, call the number four “the greatest miracle,” “a God after another manner,” “a manifold divinity,” the “fountain of Nature,” and its “key bearer.” It is the “introducer and cause of the permanency of the Mathematical discipline.” It is “most masculine” and “robust”; it is Hercules and Æolus. It is Mercury, Vulcan, and Bacchus. Among the Muses, Urania. They also called it Feminine, effective of Virility, and an Exciter of Bacchic fury. In harmony, it was said to form by the quadruple ratio the symphony dis-diapason. They called it Justice, as the first evenly even number.

As a type of Deity, we all know of the famous Hebrew title Tetra-grammaton or unpronounceable name we call Jehovah IHVH: this Name was used by the Kabalistic Rabbis to hide their secret tenets of the Divine Essence of the Creator God.

Almost all the peoples of Antiquity possessed a name for Deity consisting of four letters, and many of them considered 4 to be a Divine number, thus:—

In Hebrew we find also IHIH called Eheie; and AHIH called Aheie.

Assyrian Adad, Egyptian Amun, Persians Syre or Sire, Greek ThEos, Latin Deus, German Gott, French Dieu, Turkish Esar, Tartar Itga, ArabianAllh, Allah, Samaritan Jabe, Egyptian Teut, Taut, THOTh.

In Sanchoniathon we find the Deity called Ievo.

In Clemens Alexandrinus „ „ „ Jaou.

Attention should be paid to the Sanscrit holy phrase, aspiration or prayer of Four syllables—”Aum mani padme hum”—literally, “Oh, the Jewel in the Lotus” (meaning “the Divine spark within man”).

Theon of Smyrna, in the edition of Ismael Bullialdo, 1644, page 147, says, “The Tetractys was not only principally honoured by the Pythagoreans because all symphonies exist within it, but also because it appears to contain the nature of all things,” hence their oath, “Not by him who delivered to our souls the Tetractys” (that is Pythagoras), this tetractys is seen in the COMPOSITION of the first numbers 1. 2. 3. 4.

But the 2nd Tetractys arises from the increase by MULTIPLICATION of odd and even numbers beginning from the Monad.

The 3rd subsists according to Magnitude.

The 4th is in simple Bodies, Monad-Fire, Dyad-Air, Triad-Water, Tetrad-Earth.

The 5th is of the figures of Bodies, Pyramid-Fire, Octahedron-Air, Icosahedron-Water, Cube-Earth.

The 6th of Vegetative Life, Seed-Monad or point; if it increase in length—dyad-line; in breadth—triad-superficies; in thickness—tetrad-solid.

The 7th is of Communities; as Man, House, Street, City.

The 8th is the Judicial power: Intellect, Science, Opinion, Sense.

The 9th is of the parts of the Animal, the Rational, Irascible and Epithymetic soul, and the Body they live in.

The 10th Tetractys is of the Seasons of the Year, spring, summer, autumn, winter.

The 11th Tetractys is of the Ages of Man, the infant, the lad, the man, and the senex.

And all are proportional one to another, and hence they said “all things are assimilated to number.”

They also gave a four-fold distribution of goods to the Soul and Body, to the Soul, Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, Justice; and to the Body, Acuteness of senses, Health, Strength, Beauty. The Objects of desire are 4: viz., Prosperity, Renown, Power, Friendship.

The celebrated 4 Causes of Aristotle may be mentioned here:

Divinity as the cause—by which; υπ᾽ ου up ou.

Matter—from which; εξ ου ex ou.

Form—through which; δἰ ου di´ ou.

Effect with reference to which; προς ου pros ou.

The Dead also are called 4 times Blessed; and the Living but thrice blessed.

The number 4 being the completion of the quaternary group of point, line, superficies and body, has also this character that its elements 1, 2, 3, and 4 when summed up are equal to 1 0, which is so perfect that we can go no further, but to increase we must return to the Monad.

It was also called Kosmos, the World, because it formed the number 36, when its digits were thus combined:

1 + 2 = 3

3 + 4= 7

5 + 6 = 11

7 + 8 = 15


being the sum of the first four odd numbers with the first

four even numbers.

Plutarch, “De Anim. Procr.” 1027, says the world consists of a double Quaternary; 4 of the intellectual World, T’Agathon, Nous, Psyche and Hyle; that is Supreme Wisdom or Goodness, Mind, Soul, Matter, and four of the Sensible World, forming the Kosmos of Elements, Fire, Air, Earth and Water; pur, aer, gē and πυρ, αῃρ, γη, υδωρ.

Four is the number of the moons or satellites of Jupiter and Uranus.

The Arabians analysed Female Beauty into nine fours; as:

Four Black—Hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, eyes.

Four White—Skin, white of the eyes, teeth, legs.

Four Red—Tongue, lips, cheeks, gums.

Four Round—Head, neck, forearms, ancles.

Four Long—Back, fingers, arms, legs.

Four Wide—Forehead, eyes, seat, lips.

Four Fine—Eyebrows, nose, lips, fingers.

Four Thick—Buttocks, thighs, calves, knees.

Four Small—Breasts, ears, hands, feet.

See Lane’s edition of the “Arabian Nights.”

In the Rosicrucian writings of Behmen, Fludd and Maier, we find the occult dogma that the four elements are peopled by spirits, beings who may have influence on the destiny of Man; thus the Earth was inhabited by Gnomes; the Air was inhabited by Sylphs; the Fire was inhabited by Salamanders; and the Water by Undines; these are now commonly called “Elementals.” See “Lives of the Necromancers,” W. Godwin; Michael Maier; Jacob Behmen’s Works.

The existence of Elementals, scoffed at by modern education, is really suggested in a large number of places in both Old and New ‘Testaments, the inspired volume of the Christians: examine, for example, Judges ix. 23; 1 Samuel xvi. 14; Psalm lxxviii. 49; Acts xvi. 16, xix. 13, xxvii. 23; Ephesians vi. 12, ii. 2.

But above all consider the meaning of the Canticle “Benedicite omnia opera” in the book of Common Prayer, “O ye stars, O ye showers and dew, O ye fire and heat, O ye winds, O ye green things, O ye mountains and hills, bless ye the Lord, praise him and magnify him for ever.” These phrases are either folly, or else they recognise the spiritual essences or beings inherent in the elements and created things. Again, read hymn 269 in Hymns Ancient and Modern, a most orthodox volume. “Principalities and powers, watch for thy unguarded hours,” and Hymn 91, “Christian, dost thou see them, on the holy ground, How the troops of Midian compass thee around?” If these are not the evil elementals, what are they?

Francis Barrett mentions the 4 Consecrated Animals, Lion, Eagle, Man and Calf, emblems of the Kerubim on the terrestrial plane; 4 Archangels, Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael; note, all end in the Deity name, el, i.e. AL, of the Hebrews.

The Gnostics said that all their edifice rested on a 4-pillared Basis; Truth, Intelligence, Silence, Bathos.

Note the earth was formed on the 4th day, according to the allegory found in the Jewish “Genesis,” and is the 4th world in a chain of spheres, say the Hindoos.

The figure of 4, as Ragon remarks, is the upright man, carrying the triangle or Divinity, a type of the Trinity of Godhead.

On the Hebrew Magical word AGLA, see the chapter on the Kabalah, page 27.

Note 4 elements, 4 sides of a square and 4 angles;

4 qualities, cold, hot, dry, damp, 4 humours;

4 seasons of the year; 4 quarters of the horizon;

4 Rivers of Eden; Euphrates, Gihon, Hiddekel and Pison;

4 Rivers of the Infernal Regions according to the Greeks, Phlegethon, Cocytus, Styx and Acheron;

4 elements of Metaphysics; Being, essence, virtue, action.

4 Masonic virtues.

4 Evangelists and Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, related to the Four Kerubic forms of the Man, Lion, Bull and Eagle, and thus to the Zodiacal Signs—Aquarius, Leo, Taurus and Scorpio (the relation of Aquila to Scorpio is a Rosicrucian secret).

One of the abstruse dogmas of the Kabalah concerns the Four Worlds of Emanation; Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah; these are not worlds in any ordinary sense, but rather planes of development and existence, the former the most diaphanous and exalted, the others becoming more and more concrete and manifest; the ten Sephiroth exist on each plane, those of the higher planes being more sublime than those of the lowest; each world has a secret name and number.

Man displays 4 evil tendencies, one in opposition to each of these 4 Worlds; an evil inclination, evil thoughts, evil words, and evil actions. (Isaac Myer.)

Vulcan gave Apollo and Diana arrows on the 4th day of their Nativity: this, says Sir Thomas Browne, is the Gentile equivalent to the Creation of the Sun and Moon on the 4th day.

The Talmud lays down the law as to a woman’s drinking, saying one cup of wine is good for her, two do her harm, three demoralize her, and the fourth converts her into a female animal. There are 4 persons who are little better than dead; the blind, the leper, the pauper and he who has no sons.

There are 4 sorts of passionate men; he who is easily provoked and is as easily pacified, he loses more than he gains; he who is not readily provoked and is difficult to appease, he gains more than he loses; the pious man, who is not easily provoked but is easily pacified; and he who is easily provoked and is with difficulty appeased, he is a wicked man.

There are 4 sorts of pupils in occult science; he who learns and then will not teach; he who wants to teach and does not learn; he who learns and then teaches; and lastly, he who listens and won’t learn and can’t teach.

Four things deter a man from sin: the thought of whence he comes, the fear of where he may go, the conception of who his judge will be, and what his fate may be at the Judgment.

Four persons should offer up thank offerings; he who returns safe from a sea voyage, he who has safely crossed a desert, he who has recovered from an illness, and he who is released from prison. These are referred to in Psalm cvii.

Four men have died from original sin, the work of the Serpent, for they themselves did no ill; Benjamin, Amram the father of Moses, Jesse the father of David, and Chilah the son of David. Sabbat. 55. 2.

At the end of the Passion Fast every Hebrew should drink 4 glasses of wine, even if the price robs him of other necessaries.

The Talmud says that only 4 men had entered Paradise (Pardes, the Garden of Holiness); this meant the state of supernal communion with God, the Beatific Vision, by profound abstraction of mind. These were the Rabbis Ben Azai, Ben Zoma, Asher and Akiba.

The tractate Yoma says God will pardon a man three times for a sin, but the fourth occasion is fatal.

The Jewish Sanhedrin had power to order 4 sorts of death penalty; by stoning, beheading, burning and strangling. The Sanhedrin as a Court of Justice ceased with the Second Temple, but the Rabbis taught that if a man incurs the death penalty of either form he still dies in these ways fortuitously, as if he would have been executed by strangling, he will be found to die of drowning or some other form of suffocation. See Sanhedrin, 37. 2.

Job had four entrances to his house, north, south, east and west; so that the poor might enter and find relief from whichever quarter they came.

Four things God repented that he had made; man’s evil passions, the Ishmaelites, the Chaldeans and the Captivity.

God has made only 4 women perfect in beauty; Sarah, Abigail, Rahab and Esther; Eve is not included because she was not born of woman. Esther is said to have had golden coloured hair.

Of the 4 Cardinal points, God left the North Pole unfinished, saying, “if there be any my equal let him finish it like the others.” This corner is the home of demons, ghosts, devils and storms. Pirke of Rabbi Eleazar, cap. 3.

The number 4 is related to Jacob, the Lesser Light, which is the Moon. Jacob was spelled IOQB, and its initials are those of epithets IUTzR the Former; OUShU the Maker, QUNA the Possessor, and BVRA, the Creator. See Amos vii. 2, where Jacob is called the “small.”

In Christian dogma, Christ the triple deity on the Cross of 4 limbs, is the descent of Spirit into Matter: or, as the Theosophists say, the Triad of “Atma-Buddhi-Manas descends into the Quaternary of personal Man, the Kama, Prana, Linga and Sthula Sarira.”

The 4 Cabeiri, or great deities of Syro-Phenicia, were Axieros, Axiokersos, Axiokersa and Kasmillos, children of Sydyk, are named by Sanchoniathon and quoted by Eusebius.

In the ancient Egyptian form of burial, while the body was made into a swathed mummy, the internal organs of the chest and abdomen were removed and preserved in 4 jars, often called the Canopic Jars; they were dedicated to the 4 Genii of the Cardinal points, who were at times called the Children of Horus. The jar of Amset, Amesheth or Mestha, the South, was man-shaped, and in it were put the stomach and large intestines; in the jar of Hapi, or Ahephi, the North, dog-headed, were the small intestines; in the jar of Tuamutef or Toumath-path, the East, jackal-headed, were the heart and lungs, and in the jar of Khebsenuf or Kabexnuf, hawk-headed, the West, were the liver and gall bladder. These Vases appear in tombs of the 18th dynasty, and remained in use until the 26th dynasty; according to E. A. Wallis Budge.

These 4 Genii of the dead in Amenti were guarded by 4 Goddesses, viz., by Isis, Nephthys, Neith and Serquet.

The Squares of the Periodic times of the Planets are the Cubes of their mean distance from the Sun.

The Christian Church recognises 4 great Councils, those of Nicæa in A.D. 325; Constantinople, 381; Ephesus, 431; and Chalcedon in 451.

The Western Church recognises 4 great Doctors; St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory the Great; and the Eastern Church 4,—St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nazianzen, and St. John Chrysostom.

There is a vast fund of mystic lore, known to some Fratres Rosæ Crucis, concerning the Chariot of Ezekiel described in the Mosheh Merkavah or Vision of Ezekiel. The Chagigah of the Talmud says it were better never to have been born than to pry into the 4 sides thereof, what is above and below, before and behind it.

The Ancient Legend of the Four Crowned Martyrs, who were masons, who refused to disclaim their Christian faith and refused to build an idol, has led in our own time to the consecration of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Freemasons, which has a corresponding Membership of 3000 brethren: the present author is a Past Master of this Lodge of literary Freemasons.

The “Four Masters” of Ireland of the first half of the 17th century compiled a History of Ireland from B.C. 2242 to A. D. 1616.

Magic Squares were first known by the work of a Greek, Emanuel Moscopulos, still existing in MSS. of the 16th century in the National Library of Paris. Cornelius Agrippa then gave the Planetary Squares, which have been many times copied in subsequent books. From a more mathematical point of view, they have been much studied in France by M. Bachet and M. Frenicle, M. Poignard of Brussels, and de la Hire. M. de la Loubère gives information of the use of Magic Squares by the Indians of Surat.

To the number 4 belong the several forms of the cross, Maltese, Greek, Passional, St. Andrew’s and the Fylfot cross—the Swastika. Hermetic philosophy teaches how to view the last as composed from a magic square of 5, giving 25 squares, of which the Fylfot takes 17, referring to the Sun, Signs and Elements. There is a quaint Hebrew association between the name Tetragrammaton, IHVH, the God name, and man formed in his image for if Yod, ‏י‎: Heh, ‏ה‎, Vau, ‏ו‎, Heh, ‏ה‎ be drawn one over the other, the Yod will look like the head above, the Heh will look like the two arms, the Vau will be upright body, and the final Heh will show the two legs.

It is stated in some ancient Persian works that 4 bright stars were placed as guardians at the 4 cardinal points. At the beginning of the Kali Yuga, at Crishna’s death at 3102 B.C., the astronomers say that Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus, and Antares, the heart of Scorpio, were as the equinoctial points, and Regulus, the heart of Leo, and Fomalhaut, the eye of the Southern Fish, were near the solstitial points: this was 5003 years ago.

The pack of common playing cards has 4 suits; of diamonds, hearts, clubs and spades; the old Tarot or Tarocchi cards had 4 suits; Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles; occult science relates these to the Yod, Heh, Vau, Heh of the Tetragrammaton: the Tarot pack has also 4 Court cards, Cavalier, King, Queen and Violet or Knave; also called Knight, King, Queen and Princess by some mystics.