It’s as simple as looking at a yin-yang, and knowing that the yin represents chaos and the yang represents order. Keeping in mind the Fifth Hermetic Principle – the Principle of Rhythm – we can surmise that it is true of order and chaos that “the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left.”
In a Taoist sense this is to say that an excess of order, by its very nature, leads to a minuscule element of chaos arising within it, which grows, and soon takes on a momentum of its own, only to itself crystallise from a tiny seed into order, and ever more rigid order, until the cycle begins anew.
Too much masculinity in the alchemical world is represented as fire and iron, and these stand as metaphor for how too much masculinity in the physical world leads to violence.
An excess of masculinity is like fire when it has too much energy because it causes violence which burns flesh and sears souls, and is what the ancient physicians meant when they diagnosed a person with a choleric personality.
It is also like iron when it imposes too much order because it is harsh and cuts mercilessly, and when it breaks down it shatters, as with an excess of masculinity one loses one’s ability to yield and to withdraw and breaks like a tree that cannot yield to a storm.
This is evident in the natural world even when one looks at biological life in the simplest way. A seed that sprouts and begins to grow towards the light must eventually break the surface if it is to survive (for a literary description of this phenomenon see Chapter 21 of Anna Nilsen’s Writing With The I Ching: Biting Through).
As below, so above: the world of men is no different. If a person observes the current order of the day and finds it unworthy of continued existence, then – if they are intelligent – they will soon come to appreciate the degree to which, and the vigour with which, the established order maintains itself (indeed, that’s all that order is).
But like the rising yin, the desire to break the established order – once it takes hold – grows ever more powerful by virtue of its position within nature. As the dusk darkness consumes ever more of the light, so does the chaos dissolve ever more of the existing order, until it breaks through and imposes an order of its own.
If you look at the current state of world history, there is an established Anglo-American order, which has dominated world affairs for about 200 years. This order is generally known as ‘The West’, because it represents the powers on the Western side of the world when viewed as a chessboard.
This world order arguably began at Waterloo, when the then wielder of the Spear of Destiny – Napoleon Bonaparte – was defeated in battle and the First French Empire sundered.
The nature of yang is to decline into yin – we know this, and already it’s possible to observe an America in cultural decay. Already the American Empire has degenerated in certain ways further than any empire in history, with the most recent 50 years giving us everything from Charles Manson and Ted Bundy to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
The nature of yin is to rise into yang – and this can be observed with the awakening of the sleeping giants of China and India. These countries were poor and were always going to remain poor as long as they were too corrupt to organise any meaningful invest in the human capital of the young. This was how it was when the Spear of Destiny was held in Europe, but now, as it crosses the Pacific, the East is awakening.
There is every chance that a rising Eastern power that wants its place in the Sun will naturally come into conflict with the established Western one that wants to hold onto power. Indeed, many believed that the Japanese action in the Western Pacific theatre of World War II was this event playing out (this column is far, far from the first to suggest it).
The collapse of the established order is not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. The established order never collapses peacefully (observe adult male elephants for an analogy in the natural world).
Therefore, war is a fundamental aspect of life, and always will be, as long as there are masculine and feminine.