- Book of Changes, first semantic lexicon
Semanticus F. Alpaerts suggests in De Denkbeeldige Ruimte (1980) that the I Ching or Book of Changes, originating from mythical antiquity, is the first semantic lexicon of mankind. In this Chinese classic, unquestionably one of the most influential books in the world’s literature, 64 chapters are coded with a double triplet line code called hexagrams.
Alpaerts used the Wilhelm (1971) translation to show a possible connection between the code lines from the I Ching and the codon encoding in the Semantic Colour Space. The open (- -) and closed (—) lines from the I Ching correspond with respectively the 0’s and 1’s from his semantic coding system. This way he could associate the concepts described in the 64 chapters of the I Ching, with the eight primary colours and their combinations (8×8) from his classification. Later, his hypothesis was confirmed by a comparative research he conducted on the similarities between his keyword-colour classifications, in which the concepts from the I Ching form an important part, and the empirical data from sociologist Eva Heller’s word-to-colour association study (Alpaerts, 1993).
The following list includes I Ching chapter titles with links to pages in the DSD (between brackets: if the title is not in the DSD, a synonym), chapter numbers, digital coding (hexagram), and colour combinations.
chapter title chapters hexagram colour combination creative heaven 1 111:111 YL:YL the receptive 2 000:000 BL:BL difficulty at the beginning 3 010:001 GR:BK youthful folly (inexperienced, foolish) 4 100:010 BR:GR waiting 5 010:111 GR:YL the fight 6 111:010 YL:GR the army 7 000:010 BL:GR the all-encompassing 8 010:000 GR:BL the taming power of the small (newborn) 9 110:111 WH:YL performing 10 111:011 YL:PL peace 11 000:111 BL:YL standstill (stagnation, blocking) 12 111:000 YL:BL fellowship with men (together, community) 13 111:101 YL:RD great possessing (imperium) 14 101:111 RD:YL humbling 15 000:100 BL:BR rage (rancor, attack) 16 001:000 BK:BL pursue 17 011:001 PS:BK correcting (addressing) 18 100:110 BR:WH nearing, rapprochement 19 000:011 BL:PL viewing (perception) 20 110:000 WH:BL biting through (stick-it-out) 21 101:001 RD:BK adorning (embellish) 22 100:101 BR:RD splitting apart (slivering) 23 100:000 BR:BL the turning point 24 000:001 BL:BK innocence 25 111:001 YL:BK the taming power of the great (steering) 26 100:111 BR:YL the corners of the mouth, providing nourishment (feeding, grooming, open mouth) 27 100:001 BR:BK great exceeding (overloaded) 28 011:110 PL:WH the abyss 29 010:010 GR:GR the clinging, fire (flame, attach) 30 101:101 RD:RD influence, wooing (courtship) 31 011:100 PL:BR duration, constancy 32 001:110 BK:WH retreat 33 111:100 YL:BR the power of the great (powerful) 34 001:111 BK:YL progress 35 101:000 RD:BL darkening of the Light (hiding) 36 000:101 BL:RD family 37 110:101 WH:RD polarising (contrasts) 38 101:011 RD:PL obstruction 39 010:100 GR:BR liberation 40 001:010 BK:GR reduction 41 100:011 BR:PL increase, beneficial, useful (growth, functional) 42 110:001 WH:BK resoluteness, determination 43 011:111 PL:YL meeting 44 111:110 YL:WH gathering together, massing (assemble) 45 011:000 PL:BL pushing upward 46 000:110 BL:WH oppression, exhaustion (depletion, sucked out) 47 011:010 PL:GR the well 48 010:110 GR:WH revolution, moulting 49 011:101 PL:RD the cauldron (terrine) 50 101:110 RD:WH the arousing, shock, thunder 51 001:001 BK:BK keeping still, mountain (still, not moving) 52 100:100 BR:BR development, gradual progress 53 110:100 WH:BR the marrying maiden (concubine) 54 001:011 BK:PL abundance, fullness 55 001:101 BK:RD the wanderer, travelling (wanderlust) 56 101:100 RD:BR the penetrating, wind 57 110:110 WH:WH the joyous, lake (gay) 58 011:011 PL:PL dispersion, dissolution, (scattering) 59 110:010 WH:GR limitation, moderation (delimitation, restriction) 60 010:011 GR:PL inner truth 61 110:011 WH:PL preponderance of the small (unremarkable, incompetent) 62 001:100 BK:BR after completion 63 010:101 GR:RD before completion 64 101:010 RD:GR
The Cornucopia or Horn of Plenty is a legendary object, a symbol of prosperity and abundance, originally dating back to the earliest myths of mankind. One finds the first depictions of a horn already dating back from the Upper Palaeolithic. The Venus of Laussel (France, approximately 25,000 years old) is such an example. Here, the mother goddess holds a horn in her hands. (Fig.1)
Originally an attribute of the mother goddess, the horn is also adopted by male gods. Examples are found in Slavic mythology, such as the god Sventovit (Fig.2). The fertility of the female, related to plant life and water, is complemented with the potency of the male, relating to the bloodline and fire. While the meaning of abundance remains. Slavic priests used the horn to predict rich harvests. (Vyncke, 1969)
The horn of plenty thus becomes a phallus that guarantees the reproduction of the clan and the abundance of the harvest (Fig.3-4).
The cornucopia contains a male and a female aspect, which is why this object can be an attribute both of male and female deities. Examples of goddesses wearing the horn are personifications of Earth (Gaia); the nymph Mai, and Fortuna, the goddess of luck, who had the power to grant prosperity (Fig.5-6). (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornucopia)
The concept of the Cornucopia, its male and female aspects, consists of parts and variations in meaning that can be clarified by the different levels of meaning in the Semantic Colour Space.
First, there is the horn, which is classified under the 64-level code red-on-black or white-4 (ecru, off-white). Red-on-black is the code for kingship, which prescribes laws and rules, and administers justice. In the same way, red-on-black contains the meaning of the phallus, which underlines the king’s potency and supremacy. A stylized phallus is the sceptre (a combination of 8-level black: stem and red: circle) Both the phallus, the sceptre and the horns denote the blood, the lineage, the pedigree, which gives the right to the holder to issue laws and rules. The white 8-level aspect of white-4 is the line. We recognize in this image the bloodline of descent, but also the (moral) rules imposed by the king. (Fig.7)
The second part concerns abundance. The horn is filled with attributes from the harvest, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, wine, later also with coins. Important in this image is that the horn overflows. The name ‘Abundantia’, the Roman Goddess of fortune, prosperity and abundance, literally means ‘plenty’ or ‘overflowing riches’. This concept was classified in the Semantic Colour Space under the 64-level code black-on-red, or green-4 (a darker aquamarine-green). Keywords such as abundance, flood and fullness, describe a situation that is at a peak, like the sun at noon. (Fig.8)
While in the inverted code red-on-black the laws are laid down and justice is spoken, in this sign they will be implemented by severe punishments. Weapons such as swords are often attributed to the deity as a means of enforcing laws and providing protection from the enemy. The green aspect in green-4 is the relationship to nature, alive, flow (8-level) and contains a feminine (physical) aspect. The (over-)fullness of life, accurately describes the core meaning of this sign. (Fig.8)
However, it is an unstable state, because when water overflows, it can become a dangerous force that causes destruction and grief, as in the case of flooding, or when one burst into a crying fit because of accumulated tension. It includes the creation of life in all its fullness, but therein also lies the danger. So the sign encompasses both creative abundance, and its destruction.
The horn of plenty, as a combination of white-4 and green-4, is classified under the code white-on-green or red-4 (. This colour combination is often used by artists to depict the female deity wearing the cornucopia, such as the goddess Fortuna (Fig. 5-6) or Abundantia. The core image contains the wind (white) blowing above the flowing water (green), causing the water to scatter and dissolve into foam and bubbles. The contents of the overflowing horn are thus scattered over the earth. (Fig.9)
The white-on-green coding implicates that the plenty is of an uncertain nature, that the rich harvests are not guaranteed, instead, they are a question of fate, of luck. That is why the cornucopia is often a means for fortune-telling, a white-on-blue keyword. Then, the colour combination white-on-green becomes a movement in the depth dimension from white-on-blue (code 110-000) to green-on-blue (code 010-000) in this classic conceptual construct. (Fig.11)
The concept of fortune is an addition to the white-on-green code. Fortune is coded green-on-blue. It is the earth (blue) on which life (green) grows that gives fortune. The idea represents the earthly womb that bestows life. This womb is represented by an amphora or pitcher, from which the water of life flows. (Fig.10)
- The supernatural sword
The magic sword is a powerful weapon found in many myths around the world. Dating back from the middle ages and earlier, it is associated with knights and saints using supernatural powers to fight demonic monsters or enemies. In the Semantic Colour Space, this construction situates itself as follows: White-on-blue or Yellow-6 : sword, supernatural, holy, knight and hero.
Excalibur, in the Arthurian tales, is the magic sword of King Uther Pendragon, King Arthur’s father. In the account of the Sword in the Stone, Arthur obtained the British throne by pulling a sword from an anvil sitting atop a stone that appeared in a churchyard on Christmas Eve. The act could not be performed except by “the true king”, meaning the divinely appointed king or true heir of Uther Pendragon.
In the account of the Lady of the Lake the sword Excalibur came from the lake. And when Arthur was dying, he ordered Bedivere to throw the sword back into the lake. He ignored this command at first, but did so anyway, and an arm clad in white brocade took the sword to the bottom.
Vilardell’s legendary sword is one of the strongest medieval legends in Catalan courtly literature, comparable to the famous Excalibur from the Arthurian tale. The bearer of the sword is said to be invincible. There are mentions that knights are said to have killed a great serpent and a dragon with the sword.
The saint story of St George defeating the dragon with his sword or lance is related to the myths described above. The Christians turned it into a moral battle between good and evil.
- The number three in Slavic mythology
Not only the Celtic mind is obsessed with the trinity. The Slavs also showed a special interest in the number three. In temple construction, there are triangular structures (Zuarasici), three entrance gates (Zuarasici), erected on the middle of three mountains (Triglav). The priests of Triglav and Sventovit used to prophesy by leading a sacred horse back and forth between nine lances three times. Also in Slavic epic poetry, just as in Irish, the number three plays a prominent role.
This idea of omnipotence, expressed through multiplicity and polycephaly, is also reflected in the naming. Names like Sventovit, Gerovit are derived from the root jar-, which actually means the same as svent (Slavic jar = strong, severe, angry). In this word lies the idea of “fertilizing power.” The same idea of ‘horny power’ is even more strongly expressed in the concept of Rugievit or Rujevit, derived from the root ruj-: horny. Rujevit thus seems to mean ‘horny lord’. Porevit means ‘the powerful lord’.
It is seen that the very naming of the many-headed idols places a strong emphasis on power, omnipotence, especially on the plan of preserving and propagating the cosmos.
The following keywords derived from this text, related to the number three, and classified in the DSD are: power (red, 8-level keyword), strong (height dimensional keyword), severe (red-on-black, 64-level keyword), anger (black-on-red, 64-level keyword), fertile (red-4, 64-level keyword), horny (purple-on-red, 64-level keyword), in the sense of potent, sexuality, masculine (red-on-red, 64-level keyword). It is noticeable that the red colour code is omnipresent.
- Black gods and demons
Mihail Petruševski, in his comparative study of the black deities and demons in the history of religion, establishes that all black gods and demons have a chthonic nature and therefore belong to the underworld. According to Vyncke (1969), the Slavic clannumen was to a considerable extent chthonic in nature. This people sacrificed to its numina in lakes and springs. According to Petruševski, these were considered ‘entrances to the underworld’. Three Slavic names of gods can be explained in this way. Tjarnaglofi means ‘Blackhead’. Siwa has been explicitly labeled as a prominent goddess by Helmhold. In Common Slavic, siv- is connected with ‘grey, ashen, black’. Siwa can then be interpreted as ‘the Dark Goddess’. Pripegala, probably related to the Baltic gods names Picullus, god of the underworld, and Pikals, evil deity. These names are related to Lithuanian pekla which means hell. The basic meaning is ‘tar, pitch’. Pripegala then means: ‘the tarred, the blackened.’ Several testimonies confirm that the Slavs blackened some of their idols. (Vyncke, 1969)
‘Black’ gods like Tjarnaglofi or Siwa are not necessarily evil, although they may look scaring. They are called ‘black’ because they control the realm of darkness, the underworld. They stem from ancestor worship. Likewise, they are the deceased ancestors, who live in the realm of the dead. Furthermore, they are invoked to give advice, so they are more like tutelary deities. That is a fundamental difference with the demonic beings like Pripegala or the demons from Christian hell, who represent the evil, destructive force. The ‘black’ gods from Slavic mythology are associated with keywords such as ‘underworld, grey, ashen, forefather, death‘. Words classified in the Semantic Colour Space under the code 001:000 or black-on-blue.
I. Michiels, red.
- Universal Patterns in Color-Emotion Associations
Many of us “see red,” “feel blue,” or “turn green with envy.” Are such color-emotion associations fundamental to our shared cognitive architecture, or are they cultural creations learned through our languages and traditions? To answer these questions, we tested emotional associations of colors in 4,598 participants from 30 nations speaking 22 native languages. Participants associated 20 emotion concepts with 12 color terms. Pattern-similarity analyses revealed universal color-emotion associations (average similarity coefficient r = .88). However, local differences were also apparent. A machine-learning algorithm revealed that nation predicted color-emotion associations above and beyond those observed universally. Similarity was greater when nations were linguistically or geographically close. This study highlights robust universal color-emotion associations, further modulated by linguistic and geographic factors. These results pose further theoretical and empirical questions about the affective properties of color and may inform practice in applied domains, such as well-being and design.
Jonauskaite et al. (2020).
- expansive and contractive facial expression
“In 1978 psychologist John Bassili conducted an experiment in which he painted the faces and necks of several actors and actresses black and then applied one hundred luminescent dots. Participants were then asked to assume different expressions, such as ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘surprised’, and ‘angry’. In the final video recording, with only the luminescent dots visible, the outcome was quite revealing: while expressions of anger showed acute downward V shapes (angled eyebrows, cheeks, and chin), expressions of happiness were conveyed by expansive, outward curved patterns (arched cheeks, eyes, and mouth). In other words, happy faces resembled an expansive circle, while angry faces resembled a downward triangle.”
Lima, M. (2017)
- Vampires: colours and shapes
(Inez Michiels, 2022)
- Up/down arm movements and emotional expression
De Meijer (1989) investigated the relationships between characteristics of arm movements and emotional expression. He concluded that positive emotions (such as happiness) could be linked to upward movements. Negative emotions (such as anger and sadness) could be linked to downward movements.
- ‘Danger’ and colour in Germany
Danger: red 43%, black 24%, orange 12%, …