We know that the synthesis of the four was one of the main preoccupations of alchemy

The quaternity is one of the most widespread archetypes and has also proved to be one of the most useful schemata for representing the arrangement of the functions by which the conscious mind takes its bearings.  It is like the crossed threads in the telescope of our understanding.  The cross formed by the points of the quaternity is no less universal and has in addition the highest possible moral and religious significance for Western man.  Similarly the circle, as the symbol of completeness and perfect being, is a widespread expression for heaven, sun, and God; it also expresses the primordial image of man and the soul. 

Four as the minimal number by which order can be created represents the pluralistic state of the man who has not yet attained inner unity, hence the state of bondage and disunion, of disintegration, and of being torn in different directions – an agonizing, unredeemed state which longs for union, reconciliation, redemption, healing, and wholeness.  TPofT 46

In the “Consilium coniugii” there is a similar quaternion with the four qualities arranged as “combinations of two contraries, cold and moist, which are not friendly to heat and dryness.” (33)  Other quaternions are:  “The stone is first an old man, in the end a youth, because the albedo comes at the beginning and the rubedo at the end.” (34)  Similarly the elements are arranged as two “manifesta” (water and earth), and two “occulta” (air and fire).  (35)  A further quaternion is suggested by the saying of Bernardus Trevisanus:  “The upper has the nature of lower, and the ascending has the nature of the descending.” (36)  The following combination is from the “Tractatus Micreris”:  “In it [the Indian Ocean] are images of heaven and earth, of summer, autumn, winter, and spring, male and female.  If thou callest this spiritual, what thou doest is probable; if corporeal, thou sayest the truth; if heavenly, thou liest not; if earthly, thou hast well spoken.” 

    The double quaternion or ogdoad stands for a totality, for something that is at once heavenly and earthly, spiritual or corporeal, and is found in the “Indian Ocean,” that is to say in the unconscious.  It is without doubt the Microcosm, the mystical Adam and bisexual Original Man in his prenatal state, as it were, when he is identical with the unconscious.  Hence in Gnosticism the “Father of All” is described not only as masculine and feminine (or neither), but as Bythos, the abyss.  In the scholia to the “Tractatus aureus Hermetis” (39) there is a quaternion consistin of superius / inferius, exterius / interius.  They are united into one thing by means of the circular distillation, named the Pelican: (40)  “Let all be one in one circle or vessel.”  “For this vessel is the true philosophical Pelican, nor is any other to be sought after in all the world.”  The text gives the following diagram:

B C D E represents the outside, A is the inside, “as it were the origin and source from which the other letters flow, and likewise the final goal to which they flow back,” (41)  F G stands for Above and Below.  “Together the letters A B C D E F G clearly signify the hidden magical Septenary.”  The central point A, the origin and goal, the “Ocean or great sea,” is also called a circulus exiguus, very small circle, and a “mediator making peace between the enemies or elements, that they may love one another in a meet embrace. 

“But you will ask, where then are those true Christians, who are free from all sectarian contagion?” 

God is Spirit, (46) and those who worship him must worship him in the spirit and in truth.  After these examinations and avowals I leave it to each man to judge who is of the true Church, and who not.”  (47)

From this remarkable excursus we learn, first of all, that the “centre” unites the four and the seven into one.(48)  The unifying agent is the spirit Mercurius, and this singular spirit then causes the author to confess himself a member of the Ecclesia spiritualis, for the spirit is God. 

He makes the two one and has broken down the dividing wall “in his flesh.”  Caro (flesh) 53 is a synonym for the prima materia and hence for Mercurius.  The “one” is a “new man.”  He reconciles the two “in one body,”54 an idea which is figuratively represented in alchemy as the two-headed hermaphrodite.  The two have one spirit, in alchemy they have one soul. 

… we learn from the scholia that the circle and the Hermetic vessel are one and the same, with the result that the mandala, which we find so often in the drawings of our patients, corresponds to the vessel of transformation.  Consequently, the usual quaternary structure of the mandala (57) would coincide with the alchemists’ quaternion of opposites.  Lastly, there is the interesting statement that an Ecclesia spiritualis above all creeds and owing allegiance solely to Christ, the Anthropos, is the real aim of the alchemists’ endeavours. 

Mercurius corresponds to the Holy Ghost as well as to the Anthropos; he is, as Gerhard Dorn says, “the true hermaphroditic Adam and Microcosm”: 

Our Mercurius is therefore that same [Microcosm], who contains within him the perfections, virtues, and powers of Sol [in the dual sense of sun and gold], and who goes through the streets [vicos] and houses of all the planets, and in his regeneration has obtained the power of Above and Below, wherefore he is to be likened to their marriage, as is evident from the white and the red that are conjoined in him.  The sages have affirmed in their wisdom that all creatures are to be brought to one united substance.  (61)

Accordingly Mercurius, in the crude form of the prima materia, is in very truth the Original Man disseminated through the physical world, and in his sublimated form he is that reconstituted totality.  (62)

Squaring The Circle   http://cgjungsociety.org/Individuation.aspx

Thus wholeness or being individuated creates a harmony with the natural world and mankind by adopting as conscious as possible an attitude to the archetypal structure of the psyche with a balanced use of the four functions.

This in alchemy was the Squaring of the Circle, studied by Isaac Newton who wrote one million words on alchemy and only ten thousand on science.

Sir George Ripley, a clandestine alchemist of the middle ages acting heretically as the Canon of Bridlington declared:

“ All the secrets will be founde

when thou canst make the square rounde.”

Psychologically, …, three – if the context indicates that it refers to the self – should be understood as a defective quaternity or as a stepping-stone towards it.

Cont’d … Empirically, a triad has a trinity opposed to it as its complement. The complement of the quaternity is unity. Aion 223 


Jung then (says) that the Trinity is based on the symbolism of the masculine number three, while alchemy tends to hold a quartenarian view of a Deity, four being a feminine number.  AAI 29

Four-foldness is one of the most universal of symbols, for the quaternity often appears as the expression of representation of the growth of consciousness.  The conception of the world as a quaternity, originating perhaps in the four points of the compass which possess such great significance for primitive peoples, seems to have proved particularly apt and serviceable.  Growth of consciousness, culture and a conception of the world go hand in hand and can therefore all be expressed by a quaternity of symbols.  

The number four also refers to the so-called individuation process.  This may be understood primarily as the process, observable throughout nature, of the genesis and differentiation of the individual organism.  The fact that there are no two exactly identical plants or animals, let alone human beings, speaks for the unique quality of the individual, who does indeed share the same characteristics in common with all other members of the species but is equally, thanks to their specific combination, differentiated from his fellows. 

In the psychological sense, individuation signifies a psychic process which strives for the differentiation of the individual from the collective psyche and his development into an individual personality. 

The symbols of the circle and the quaternity, the hallmarks of the individuation process, point back, on the one hand, to the original and primitive order of human society, and forward on the other to an inner order of the psyche. It is as though the psyche were the indispensable instrument in the reorganization of a civilized community as opposed to the collectivities which are so much in favour today, with their aggregations of half-baked mass-men. TPotT page 161



Three female forms in association with a bull as the fourth!  Three major goddesses in association with Hermes as a fourth!  Three Graces (“the first moving thing”) in association with Apollo as a fourth!  Three visible phases of the waxing, full, and waning moon with the moon of the nights invisible as a fourth: the nights invisible being of the moon’s apparent death and, then, resurrection!  TMD 157