Eleven: the number of magic

Elevating oneself morally and spiritually, rising above the cloud blankets and the sky itself, has always been the deepest aspiration that humankind has tried to keep alive and has continued to develop. Height, experienced above all as detachment from materiality, was often “captured” in long linear obelisks, enigmatic pyramids, sharp spires, and so on, all the way to the countless towers with which even the smallest towns were provided.

Looking up, therefore, became an almost compulsory necessity, and if the more enlightened saw in those elusive peaks the innate tendency toward transcendence, the less educated became convinced, day after day, that man’s power and especially his will (always symbolized with wands or elongated objects) could and should perennially rise above ordinary life, full of vices, exaggerations, and wickedness. Much more than a sermon, a bell tower opened the gates of heaven!

The obelisk is a symbol that helps one to rise morally and spiritually

But how is it possible to symbolically represent such a process of elevation? While premising that there are no absolute realities in the phenomenal world and that free interpretation is the basis on which the actual progress of humanity is developed, I wish to speak here about the profound meaning of the numbers 5, 6, and 11 since it is through them that for millennia the most enlightened men have been trying to represent, respectively, the human state, the divine-“purely spiritual” state and their synthesis.

The 5 breaks down into 4+1, or the sum of the four elements (air, water, fire, and earth) that characterize material life, plus a fifth component that becomes peculiar in distinguishing man from the rest of the world: spirit. If Malkuth, the sefirah of the realm, is the “place” where human beings rest their feet, the immediately higher soul, the “Ruach,” rises above materiality and “illuminates” and animates the quaternary, transforming it into the quinary, the pentagram, the geometric place where Leonardo’s image of Vitruvian man is inscribed so precisely.

The pentagram, or five-pointed star, is indeed a star, a body endowed with a source of light and capable, therefore, of illuminating other objects that come into contact with it; man, therefore, becomes “alive” to the extent that from the material energy of the four elements, he will be able to rise above the realm to create a “three-dimensionality,” that is, a verticalization from an established floor base.

On the other hand, the union of the material and spiritual polarities, human and divine, is symbolized by the intersection of two inherently independent elements: the cross, where all enlightened people have shown their will for the redemption of humankind, is an example. Another symbol, however, that is particularly suitable for this purpose is the hexagram. The six-pointed star (also known as the Star of David) is obtained, in fact, through the conjunction of the triangles of fire (masculine-dative polar element) and water (feminine-receptive polar element), resulting in a median 6-pointed figure.

The 6 then becomes the number of the divine descended to the level of understanding of the human (Tipheret of the sefirot tree) and is the emblem of all the great initiates-Christ, Mithras, Buddha, etc.

5 is also the number of Mars, the planet that rules the sefirah Gevurah (severity). In contrast, 6 is ruled by the Sun, the only image of the highest and unattainable Kether for humans. The work of every man, as a complete microcosm, is to “shift” his center of gravity from the pentagram to the hexagram (5 → 6), that is, to enact a martial action (a cut with materiality) to rise permanently to the solar aspect of life (which ultimately transcends the elements still active in the pentagram.

The synthesis of the human and the divine is thus represented by the number 11, which is also the constant sum of each pair of sefiroth symmetrical concerning the Tipheret center (1+10, 2+9, 3+8, etc.). Eleven is the number of magic, sometimes understood in a highly negative sense (wrongly), as it differs by one unit from the number 10, which is considered the basis on which each element was created.

However, considering also the “hidden” sefirah Daath, which represents the supreme knowledge and the abyss that is necessary to cross to reach the ultimate supernal sefirah (Binah), the actual number of emanating elements sums up to 10+1, where this additional unit is indeed the magical “catalyst” that enables the transformation of the supreme will and understanding into a perfect and balanced synthesis: the extreme point where the enlightened man can go before becoming in all respects a complete deity.

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