The Law of Octaves was first suggested by Pythagoras in ancient Greece. Having observed that the eight notes of the conventional Occidental musical scale were governed by definite mathematical relationships, Pythagoras proceeded to create a whole cosmology based on 8s. In this octagonal model Pythagoras made numerous mistakes, because he was generalizing from insufficient data. However, his work was the first attempt in history to unify science, mathematics, art and mysticism into one comprehensible system and as such is still influential. Leary, Crowley and Buckminster Fuller have all described themselves as modern Pythagoreans.
In China, roughly contemporary with Pythagoras, the Taoists built up a cosmology based on the interplay of yang (positive) and yin (negative), which produced the eight trigrams of the I Ching, out of which are generated the 64 hexagrams.
In India, Buddha announced, after his illumination under the Bodhi tree, the Noble Eightfold Path. Patanjali subsequently reduced the science of yoga to eight “limbs” or, as we might say, eight “steps.”
The game of chess appeared, somewhere in the East, with a grid based on 8×8 (64) squares.
Kepler discovered the laws of planetary motion serendipitously, while trying to make the planets fit into the Pythagorean octave.
In the 1860s, English chemist John Newland showed that all the chemical elements fall into eight families. Since Pythagorean mysticism was unfashionable at that time, Newland was literally laughed at and rejected by the Royal Chemical Society. In the 1870s, with much more detail than Newland, the Russian chemist Mendeleyev proved once and for all that the elements do, indeed, fall into eight families. His Periodic Table of the Elements, an octave of hauntingly Pythagorean harmony, hangs in every high-school chemistry class today. (The Royal Society later apologized to Newland and gave him a Gold Medal.)
Nikolai Tesla invented the alternating current generator which unleashed the modern technological revolution after a series of visions in which, among other things, Tesla “saw” that everything in the universe obeys a law of Octaves.
Modern geneticists have found that the DNA-RNA “dialogue”—the molecular information system governing life and evolution—is transmitted by 64 (8×8) codons.
R. Buckminster Fuller, in his Synergetic-Energetic Geometry, which he claims is the “co-ordinate system of the Universe,” reduces all phenomena to geometric-energetic constructs based on the tetrahedron (4-sided), the octet truss (8-sided) and the coupler (8-faceted with 24 phases). Fuller argues specifically that the 8-face, 24-phase coupler underlies the 8-fold division of the chemical elements on the Mendeleyev Periodic Table.
In 1973, unaware of Fuller’s coupler—which I called to his attention later—Dr. Leary began to divide his 8 circuits into a 24-stage Periodic Table of Evolution (see diagram). Leary also began attempting to correlate this with the Periodic Table of Elements in chemistry.
The eight families of elements are:
- Noble Gases
The first four families, Leary argues, are terrestrial; that is, they are heavy and tend to fall to Earth. The second four familes are extraterrestrial; that is, they tend to float off into space. Similarly, he says, the first four circuits of the nervous system are terrestrial; their function is to control survival and reproduction at the bottom of the 4,000-mile gravity well in which we presently live. The second four circuits, then, are extraterrestrial; they will come into full play only when we live normally in zero-gravity—in free space.
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