BUILDING BLOCK dimensional level


BUILDING BLOCK 8-level to 64-level


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 titlechaptershexagramcolour combination
creative heaven1111:111YL:YL
the receptive2000:000BL:BL
difficulty at the beginning3010:001GR:BK
youthful folly (inexperienced, foolish)4100:010BR:GR
the fight6111:010YL:GR
the army7000:010BL:GR
the all-encompassing8010:000GR:BL
the taming power of the small (newborn)9110:111WH:YL
standstill (stagnation, blocking)12111:000YL:BL
fellowship with men (together, community)13111:101YL:RD
great possessing (imperium)14101:111RD:YL
rage (rancor, attack)16001:000BK:BL
correcting (addressing)18100:110BR:WH
nearing, rapprochement19000:011BL:PL
viewing (perception)20110:000WH:BL
biting through (stick-it-out)21101:001RD:BK
adorning (embellish)22100:101BR:RD
splitting apart (slivering)23100:000BR:BL
the turning point24000:001BL:BK
the taming power of the great (steering)26100:111BR:YL
the corners of the mouth, providing nourishment (feeding, grooming, open mouth)27100:001BR:BK
great exceeding (overloaded)28011:110PL:WH
the abyss29010:010GR:GR
the clinging, fire (flame, attach)30101:101RD:RD
influence, wooing (courtship)31011:100PL:BR
duration, constancy32001:110BK:WH
the power of the great (powerful)34001:111BK:YL
darkening of the Light (hiding)36000:101BL:RD
polarising (contrasts)38101:011RD:PL
increase, beneficial, useful (growth, functional)42110:001WH:BK
resoluteness, determination43011:111PL:YL
gathering together, massing (assemble)45011:000PL:BL
pushing upward46000:110BL:WH
oppression, exhaustion (depletion, sucked out)47011:010PL:GR
the well48010:110GR:WH
revolution, moulting49011:101PL:RD
the cauldron (terrine)50101:110RD:WH
the arousing, shock, thunder51001:001BK:BK
keeping still, mountain (still, not moving)52100:100BR:BR
development, gradual progress53110:100WH:BR
the marrying maiden (concubine)54001:011BK:PL
abundance, fullness55001:101BK:RD
the wanderer, travelling (wanderlust)56101:100RD:BR
the penetrating, wind57110:110WH:WH
the joyous, lake (gay)58011:011PL:PL
dispersion, dissolution, (scattering)59110:010WH:GR
limitation, moderation (delimitation, restriction)60010:011GR:PL
inner truth61110:011WH:PL
preponderance of the small (unremarkable, incompetent)62001:100BK:BR
after completion63010:101GR:RD
before completion64101:010RD:GR
Cyclopes in Greek mythology
Head of a Cyclops Colosseum. First century CE.

In Hesiod the Cyclopes were storm genii, as their names indicate: Brontes, thunder; Steropes, lightning; Arges, thunderbolt. As for the Hecatoncheires or Centimanes-the ‘hundred-handed’-their names are sufficient to characterise them. They, too, were three in number: Cottus, the Furious; Briareus, the Vigorous; Gyges, the Big-limbed. Titans, Cyclopes and Hecatoncheires symbolised the tumultuous forces of nature.

(Guirand et al., 1987, p.89-90)

One-eyed giant

The concept of the cyclopes as one-eyed giants, always coming in three, uncivilized and wild, builders of wall’s and of the thunderbolt of Zeus, orientated in the Semantic Colour Space.

I. Michiels, red.

Slavic sun-king gods in the Semantic Colour Space

From the Byzantine Chronicle of Malalas we read: “First, Mestrom began to rule … after him Feosta, who was also called Svarog by the Egyptians. When this Feosta reigned in Egypt, pincers fell from heaven during his reign, and he began to forge weapons, for before that people fought with sticks and stones. The same Feosta issued a law that women should marry only one man and live chastely, and he ordered those who committed adultery to be executed. Therefore, he was called the god Svarog. … And after that his son reigned, named the Sun, who was called Dažbog. The ruler Sun, the son of Svarog.”

M. Presniakov. Dajbog. 1998. The sun-king reigning over day and night.

In this brief text there are some important clues about these deities who did serve much the same function. They are male gods who represent a clan or country. They are moralizing lawmakers who set rules of chastity, and at the same time they are judges who pass judgement. In this role, they can write out punishments or grant forgiveness. In the son Dažbog, this kingship comes to full fruition and rises to the same height as the sun (sun king). That brings the fire aspect into the meaning. Svarog is the personification of the fire of the oven (ovin) and is worshipped as such. (Vyncke, 1969).

By focusing on a few keywords, this fire-sun god concept can be colour-coded in the Semantic Space and the connection between these words becomes clear. Under the (64-level) red-on-black colour code we find keywords such as: law, judge, justice, king, father, rule, forbidden. It is a composite of the (8-level) fire aspect, represented by the red element in the code: flame, sun, power, and the (8-level) black element: the thunder, signifying something important, represented by a stem. Another description of these kings could be: ‘important power’.

Judge Dredd by IanAnderson_xyz. a law enforcement and judicial officer in the dystopian future city of Mega-City One, fighting evil in red-on-black.
Ad for Siedodo cooker induction stove. Although fire is disappearing from the modern kitchen, this primal concept remains present in contemporary advertising. The black induction plate with the red fire above illustrates the red-on-black colour code.

The role of this king concept is to keep evil, or the wild forces (black-on-red), in check by setting rules and issuing punishments (red-on-black). We see this function metaphorically in the operation of the stove (red-on-black): the oven must keep the destructive fire (black-on-red) in check. In these early times it consisted of a pit (black) in which the flame (red) was lit to dry the sheaves of corn. The veneration of the furnace fire was very deeply rooted in the people and has survived to the present day. Incidentally, it was believed that the guardian spirit of the family lived in the ‘ovin’ (Vyncke, 1969).

Some similarities appear in the masks of the Phi Ta Khon festival in Thailand, where residents invite protection from Phra U-pakut, their guardian spirit coming from the Mun river. The masks have devilish faces and are equipped with a giant phallus. The ghosts offer protection against evil with their dangerous appearance. The phallus is a composition of a black stem with a red ball on it, just like the king’s sceptre.

A Kings sceptre
Picture from the Phra U-pakut festival by JAY TINDALL

I.Michiels, red.

The protective phallus

The phallus is found as an object of worship in cultures all over the world. It is regarded as a fertility symbol, but mainly has a protective function. It repels the evil forces and thereby brings prosperity (fertility) to the clan. The phallus is depicted in many colours, but a strikingly common one is red-on-black, also the colour combination for the king concept. The king is the one who offers protection to the subjects, by writing laws and punishments.

Torch, sceptre and phallus.

The phallus bears a striking resemblance to the king’s sceptre and to the torch. Two symbols that are also classified under the red-on-black colour code. The red aspect is the circle shape or the flame, which represents power. The black is the thunder, represented by a stick or stem. An idol with a phallus then represents a chieftain, who protects the tribesmen against destructive and demonic forces.

Some examples of a phallus in red-on-black.

Thailand, Krabi, la Phra nang Cave
Legba statue, sacred forest, Ouidah, Benin
Figural Carved Tribal Fertility Slit Drum Phallus Bhuta Bali.
Protéger la maison du mauvais oeil Au Bhoutan.

I. Michiels, red.

Thunder gods in old Scandinavian and Slavic mythology
Thor, God of Thunder
Illustration for the board game Mythalix, artist David Ceballos

Originally the god Perun, also the common Slavic word for thunder, was nothing more than the Germanic Thor in a Slavic disguise. Later texts equate Perun with Zeus. In Mansikka p. 202, the ‘Conversation of the Three Church Fathers’ Perun is referred to, together with his Cypriot counterpart Chors, angel of thunder and of lightning. They are the tutelary gods of the aristocratic and political elite, who have assimilated foreign, mainly Germanic and Iranian traditions. Therefore, they appear as thunder or sun gods, which is foreign to the old Slavic clan numen.

(Vyncke, 1969)