A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Dancing At The Heart Of The Earth

Last night I was idly doodling with pen on paper when I suddenly remembered reading something on am's blog, Talking 37th Dream (Rumors Of Peace), several years ago. She remarked on the fact that the words 'Earth' and 'Heart' were anagrams of each other. I decided to pursue this pleasing coincidence. (Or is it a coincidence?) First of all I drew the following word square...

... and then I filled in the central vertical and horizontal lines of the word square with the word 'Rumba'. The rumba is, of course, a Cuban dance. But its roots are in Africa, which is our human heartland, since the first homo sapiens developed on Africa's earth...

After that it seemed natural and obvious to complete the remaining verticals and horizontals with the words 'Aquae' and 'Tabor'. The tabor is an early European portable snare drum played with a stick in one hand. It's the hallmark of an improvisatory one man band, often heard in a pipe-and-tabor combination, but also used widely in massed bands. So here we have a potent symbol for music, the very heart and soul of individual and communal spiritual and earthly life...

'Aquae' is the plural of the Latin 'Aqua' or 'Water', and water comprises 70% of the earth's surface and 60% or more of the adult human body (incredibly, the brain is nearly 80% water). Water is essential for life and is basic to our very existence. Indeed, the first simple forms of life originated from hydrothermal vents deep in the oceans. It also has magical, mystical and healing properties. You could say that water lies at the heart of our very presence on this earth... 

There is more. In my drawing the word square lies within a circle and touches this circle at four equidistant points.

The circle is a symbol for the universal, the cosmic, the sacred and the divine. It's the shape of the earth, of the stars, and of all the planets and their orbits. It symbolises inclusivity and completeness. It's the form of the yin yang symbol. And it represents the circularity of time and the seasons, the unchanging cycle of life, death and rebirth.

The square has four sides and four right-angled points, and symbolises stability, groundedness — rooted-on-earthliness. The number four is a mystical and spiritually significant number. There are four seasons, four elements, four geographical directions, four mathematical processes (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division). There are four Christian Gospels, four Evangelists, four horsemen of the Apocalypse, four Noble Truths of Buddhism. There are four Humours (blood, yellow bile, black bile, phlegm), four Temperaments (sanguine, choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic), four Cardinal Virtues (justice, prudence, temperance, fortitude) and four suits in a pack of playing cards (clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades).

In Chinese symbology a square within a circle represents the union of heaven and earth, and in Jungian psychology it represents the complementary balance of body and psyche. Leonardo's sketch, Vitruvian Man, shows a man within a circle within a square; this creates an analogy between the harmonious workings of the human body and the harmonious workings of the universe, ie it illustrates the microcosm within the macrocosm, the macrocosm within the microcosm.

And there is more. Let's look at numerology. The words 'Earth' and 'Heart' which enclose the word square (and are the only words touching the circumference of the surrounding circle) can be analysed numerically in this way. If 'A' equals '1', 'B' equals '2' and 'C' equals '3' etc, the word 'Earth' becomes 5, 1, 18, 20, and 8, which adds up to 52; and the word 'Heart' becomes 8, 5, 1, 18 and 20, which adds up, of course, to 52 again. Does the number '52' ring a bell? Yes, that's right — it's the total number of cards in a pack of playing cards. You know, those playing cards which have four suits, with one of those suits being hearts. And we have four words here too — two 'Earths' and two 'Hearts' — so that's four packs of playing cards!

To sum up: I believe earth and heart, both anagrams of each other, have a symbiotic and mystical relationship. The earth was the heart of the universe in pre-Copernican times. And the earth remains at the heart of our mortal existence. Water, or aqua, is our lifeblood, the source, the stream, the well, the substrate, the fountainhead. Music, represented by the tabor (its rhythm percussive as a heartbeat), can also be seen as central to our well-being, giving pleasure, meaning and depth to our lives. And the rumba is a dance from the heart of Africa, whose earth can be considered the origin and heart of human life.

Note finally that the word 'Rumba' forms a cross in the centre of the word square, and a cross, whether Christian or otherwise, has four sections and four points. And the letter 'M', at the very centre of the square, is one of the two letters ('M' and 'N') which lie exactly midway through the alphabet.

I danced in the morning when the world was begun / I danced in the Moon and the Stars and the Sun / I came down from Heaven and I danced on Earth / At Bethlehem I had my birth. SYDNEY CARTER Lord Of The Dance

We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

Dance is the hidden language of the soul.  MARTHA GRAHAM


George said...

Fascinating and extremely interesting, Robert. There are obviously ancient patterns at work here, and that raises even more interesting questions. Where did the patterns originate and for what purpose? Could it be that, with better vision and insight, we could easily see and understand how everything and everyone is undeniably connected?

John Zorn said...

I agree with George that this is interesting and the connections are fascinating. This lends itslf to someone who loves words. Yet I feel that the patterns that George sees do not exist in a meaningful way. I do agree with him in that "No man is an island".

But what of the problem of heart and earth in other languages? The links found in English do not exist elsewhere I'd say. Does this diminish the meanings found? Or is the whole exercise one of poetry? Which can't be bad.

It is also true that signs are not the signifier - that is words are not the thing itself. Earth and heart are surely only arbitrary sounds or word patterns. There are thousands of different versions of these the world over.

Your article is that of someone who loves language and mysticism who has found exciting connections. This has always fascinated seers and numerologists but I hesitate to say that it's anything more than an intricate activity in serendipity.

I could be easily be wrong.

dritanje said...

brilliant solitary walker! I enjoy all these numbers shapes and words that reveal connections. I like George's last question too. Could it be...? Maybe yes!
I did dance today as it happens.. it's been too long since I did - I'd recommend it to anyone

am said...

Your mystical square was posted on 3-9-13, which adds up to 25, the number of squares in your word square. (-:

I'm amazed at how these words and images unfolded for you. When the rumba cross appeared I thought of this:


Didn't know what a tabor was but recalled June Tabor and "A Place Called England."

When you were talking about the number four, I thought of the four directions of the Medicine Wheel:


Wonderful post! What a treasure! Thank you very much!

The Solitary Walker said...

I like your last question, too, George. We'll never see and understand all the connections, but I believe they are there.

John, I think you may be a little too hung up on the literal here, rather than accepting of the metaphorical, the mystical and the mysterious. A 'poetic' interpretation perhaps — but I do think that such phenomena are actually much more than this. How much 'meaning' comes from my own mind and imagination and how much is really 'out there'? A huge, unanswerable question.

Thanks, dritanje! I'm glad you enjoyed the piece. I really enjoyed writing it. I couldn't believe how quickly I filled in those words. It was as if someone or something was guiding me. Try doing the same exercise with other words, and I think you'll find it almost impossible... How incredibly strange, isn't it?

And thanks to you as well, am, for your great comment. Interesting that tapestry is called RIVER Rumba. And the medicine wheel — yes, that too, the four directions.

I was going to mention June Tabor but forgot. I think I've already mentioned on this blog how I worked with her for a few weeks in Hornsey Library, London, when she was a qualified librarian and I was a trainee.

I've just added a bit to the post about the human body being made up of over 60% water (much more for babies). The brain itself is nearly 80%!

Rachel Fox said...

How lovely.

Dominic Rivron said...


I wondered if one could make an anagram of all the words (as early Christians did of the SATOR square).

The best I could come up with was Aurora bequeath rare bathmat, which is not promising, sadly.

The Solitary Walker said...

Dominic, that is brilliant!

The Solitary Walker said...

PS Though it may be more promising than you think if tomorrow's early morning post brings an expensive package from the Bath Store...

Ruth said...

I am flabergasted by this fun! I easily see how easily this came, and that it is very meaningful. I think the best and most meaningful projects can be those like this one that seem to flow out of "nothing" — creation out of the empty space we purposefully create. There is no telling what can be produced when what we have in our minds is connected with all creation intentionally.

I am especially tickled at the serendipity for me, since just before coming to TSW and reading your post with its glorious squares, circle and words (and numerologies, etc.) I had watched this video of Alan Watts talking of the wiggles of Nature and Man's squares. I kid you not! It seems utterly relevant not only to your post but also to the followup comments.

I'd love to sit and discuss!

Ruth said...

p.s. Your writing is lovely. Were you once a draftsman?

The Solitary Walker said...

Amazing about the Alan Watts, Ruth! Thanks for your comment about the writing. As for drawing, I did this simple circle and grid, but in general I'm absolutely hopeless. (However my mother's father was a professional draughtsman who designed railway coaches.)

Vagabonde said...

I read your post slowly so I could understand it well. You make some interesting associations with your five letter words. Unfortunately for the last 3 days I have had a terrible cold, so no breakthrough association about a 5 letter word from me - the only association I am making now are four letter words: cold and head – nothing in my head at the moment, so I won’t have intelligent remarks to make like your other commenters – je le regrette. But I could think that in French earth is “terre” and heart is “Coeur” which are 5 letter words too but not an anagram.

I guess the anagram significance comes within each language, so the symbolism is not universal, right? For example in French world is “monde” and the anagram “demon” is devil, so I guess we could interpret this as meaning that the world is full of evil? which it could be… so I cannot find these anagram connections because to me a word is just a sound in a language, any language, and a rose is still a rose.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for this, Vagabonde. Hope you get better soon.

And rose, of course, is an anagram of Eros.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Interesting stuff Robert - I love doing things like this. This particular one leads to a lot of thought. As for dacing every day - my dancing days are definitely over - walking is sometimes hard enough - but that does not stop me dancing in my soul.

The Solitary Walker said...

Dancing in the soul is the true essence of dancing, Pat.