The magic lo shu square is not unique to China, having found its way into other ancient cosmologies as far back as the Babylonians The wisdom of the ancient Chinese is based on a preoccupation with harmony and balance, and the immutable conviction that Nature has forces which can be ‘tapped’ (such as the cosmic breath or ch’i in feng shui). It’s through the science of mathematics that the harmonies of nature can be more clearly understood, with magic squares acting as the mirror reflecting the divine symmetry in all things. Even though the study of magic squares probably dates back to prehistoric times, there are many references to them sprinkled throughout world history which warrant closer inspection.
Saturn And The Flying Stars
The zig-zag line drawn joining up the numbers one through to nine on the square [see diagram] was in the West considered to be a symbol or ‘seal’ of Saturn. As such it was drawn to attract Earth or Saturn energies. The Chinese interpretation of this zig-zag line is that the energies mapped out by the lo shu move in this specific zig-zag path from one year to the next, changing from one ‘era’ of 20 years duration to the next. The energies in this case are called ‘stars’ and, as they move, are called ‘flying stars’, the basis of one of the more complex schools of feng shui which is especially important in Hong Kong.
There is much debate about the whether magic squares all come from a common source. In his commentaries on the Chinese historical classic, the Shu Ching, Gorn states that, ‘It is indeed extremely difficult to account for this exactly similar arrangement of both the Hebrew and Chinese figures without supposing both are derived from some common source.’
The Shu Ching recorded the use of oracle bones and tortoise shells as far back as 1400BCE (Shang dynasty). According to Chinese tradition, it was Emperor Huang-Ti (2688BCE) who invented magic squares and interestingly enough, in the ‘Five Emperors’ arrangement, Huang-Ti is associated with the planet Saturn. The earliest mention in the West of magic squares similar to the lo shu are found in the Hebrew Kabbalistic tradition, which include the planetary ‘Sigil of Saturn’, reputedly dating back to Moses (1491BCE), or Hermes (3387BCE).
Sigil Of Saturn
In the West, the magic square is called kamea. Other symbols are derived from this square including the Seal of the Intelligence Agiel and the Seal of the Spirit Zazel, both connected to Saturn. The square Sigil of Saturn is also strongly connected with the Element Earth, as is the Chinese use of the lo shu square in feng shui, and additionally is the very symbol upon which the Chinese Nine Emperor Gods is based.
The three-by-three lo shu grid encases the numbers one to nine, all sides of which add up to the ‘magic’ number 15, and is the simplest of all magic squares. In comparison, the Hebrew talisman uses the first nine letters of the Hebrew alphabet to correspond with the first nine numbers as shown in the lo shu.
The Sigil of Saturn is the simplest of the Hebrew Kabbalistic planetary tables. It is used to provide protection and confer safety in much the same way as the Chinese pa kua is a universal Chinese talisman to ward off evil influences.
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