Like the towers of Castel del Monte, the mandala, the yin
and yang symbol,
consists of eight changes or octants representing the
universal cycle of change
"High, Low and
the Ascending and Descending equilibria mark four distinguished
points in the
cycle (L, A, H, D)."
"The extremes H and L are pure state; the
equilibria A and D are pure process.
These four points correspond to pure
being (below)and pure becoming (above),
respectively; all other points in the
cycle are mixtures of state and process
(being and becoming)."
The track sequence does not conform to the sequence of the
eight changes in
linear fashion, but the eight octants are present on the
album and appear as a
constellation of ideas surrounding
Within the mandala, extremes of Yang are mirrored (balanced) by extremes
Yin. Twenty First Century Schizoid Man is mirrored by I Talk to The Wind,
In the Court of the Crimson King by Moonchild. Furthermore, the beginning
the album (night sounds) is mirrored by the end (In the Court of the
King, the reprise).
Octant LA - "Night Sounds" intro to Twenty First
Century Schizoid Man
"Octant LA is
dominated by the Low state, but incorporates the beginning of
Process; it is the Low (::) beginning to Ascend (:), so its
trigram is :::,
called "The Receptive" (K'un), with its image Earth. It is
yielding and the
nourishing, sheltering womb of rebirth. This is the Mother,
who seeks the male
and gives birth to the Ascending Path, which seeks Heaven
(|||). Its direction
This idea of the earth as a sheltering womb of
rebirth is represented by the
low rumbling "night sounds" that introduce
Twenty First Century Schizoid Man
Octant AL - Twenty First
Century Schizoid Man
"In octant AL
the Ascending Process comes into dominance and the state is
toward Equilibrium. It is the process of Ascending (|:) from the
(::), so its trigram is |::, called "The Arousing" (Chen), with its
Thunder. Its character is to incite movement; it awakens the seeds; it
decisive and vehement. It is the creative force stirring in Nature's womb.
Mother brings forth the Eldest Son. Its direction is
Twenty First Century Schizoid Man
the song that introduces us to King Crimson. Interestingly the image of
trigram is thunder, the very symbol of Zeus.
Octant DH - I Talk To
"In octant DH the Descent
from the High state accelerates as it returns to
Equilibrium. Since it is a
Descent (:|) from the High State (||), its trigram
is :||, called "The Gentle"
(Sun), with the images Wind and Wood. The
character of the Wind is penetration
and dispersion, so it is the active
process that brings the rapid dissolution
of the High State. Like the Thunder
(|::), which awakens in the Earth (:::),
the Wind (:||) dissolves the icy
rigidity of Heaven (|||); it is the creative
force stirring in the Heavens. In
seeking the female the Father sires the
Eldest Daughter. Its direction is
This would be
called "the gentle sun", the gentle side of Frederick II.
"In octant DL the
Descent passes through Equilibrium and approaches the Low
State. Since it is a
Descent (:|) to the Low State (::), its trigram is :|:,
called "The Abysmal"
(K'an), with the image Water. This water moves rapidly,
straight, other times turning, ever seeking to descend to
the depths. The Wind
(:||) descends to become Rain (:|:), which then descends
to the Mountain
(::|), and soaks into the
Earth (:::) to engender new birth. As a rapid
plunge into the depths, this
phase is dangerous, but it provides necessary
moisture (fluidity). Water (:|:)
corresponds to the Moon, as Fire (|:|) does
to the Sun. Water is the Middle
Daughter Sought by the Father. Its direction
is West, where the heavenly
lights sink into the
Octant LD - The Dream, The Illusion
"In octant LD the Descent slows as it nears the Low
State. Here the Low State
(::) is achieved by the Descent (:|), so its trigram
is ::|, called "Keeping
Still" (Ken), with the Mountain its image."
"Waiting for the sun on the
"Here the process stops and the movement rests before
starting a new Ascent..."
The ascent culminating in the finale
of the album,
In the Court of the Crimson King
"...(and so it
balances the Joyous Lake, ||:). All things are brought to
Keeping Still; here the seed is planted for a new beginning. It
Gatekeeper to the Earth, where rebirth takes place."
AH - The beginning of In the Court of the Crimson King, including the
of the Fire Witch.
"In octant AH the
Ascending Process passes through Equilibrium and moves
rapidly toward the High
State. It is the Ascending Process (|:) striving to
the High State (||), so
its trigram is |:|, called "The Clinging" (Li), with
the image Fire. It is the
Lightning presaged by the rumbling Thunder, and it
brings warmth and light
(attributes of the High state). It is the trigram of
The alchemical rubedo, the sun at it's zenith.
"...its season is Spring and its
direction is East. It is the time of rapid
growth. Fire is the Middle Son
sought by the Mother."
The Fire Witch (octant AH of the
ascending process) perpetually returns as
part of the universal cycle of
changes described in the mandala and the I
Octant HA - The
Conclusion of In the Court of the Crimson King
"In octant HA the Ascent slows as it approaches its
culmination in the High
State. Here the High State (||) achieved by the final
Ascent (|:), so its
trigram is ||:, called "The Joyous" (Tui), with the image
Lake. This is the
phase of joy and pleasure, for as the High State is reached,
begin and the fruits if the Ascent can be enjoyed. Its
direction is Southeast.
Lake is the Youngest Son brought forth by the
The final ascent is the finale of the album. Like the
joyous "Lake", the title
song, as dark as its lyrical content may be, is a
celebration of power, pure
Yang. It also corresponds to the 43rd hexagram of
the I Ching, Kuai.
"One must resolutely make the matter known
At the court of the king.
It must be announced truthfully. Danger.
It is necessary to notify one's own city.
It does not further to resort to arms.
It furthers one to undertake something.
The lake has risen up to heaven:
The image of Break-through.
Thus the superior man
Dispenses riches downward
And refrains from resting on his virtue."
the High quadrant, comprising octants HA and HD, the High state is
This corresponds to pure yang, represented by a digram with two firm
[drawn from left to right rather than from bottom to top]. This part
cycle is called Complete (or Culminating or Climaxing) Yang."
The above illustrates the fundamental
concern of the I Ching, the balancing of
Yin and Yang.
Octant HD -
In the Court of the Crimson King - the reprise
"In octant HD the the cycle, having reached its extreme in
the High State
(||), slowly begins its Descent (:|), so its trigram is |||,
Creative" (Ch'ien), with the image Heaven. It is strong, governing
creative. Its season is Summer and it stands in the South, for in both the
is strongest. This trigram is the Father, who seeks the female, and sires
Descending Path, which seeks the Earth (:::). This path corresponds to
four elements in order of increasing density: Fire (Heaven), Air (Wind),
and Earth. Of necessity, the seeds of the Descent are hidden in the
State, as the Ascent was hidden in the womb of the Low State."
This octant, with the image Heaven, corresponds to the
resurrected emperor who
"seeks the earth". Just as Christ resided three days
in Hell before his
return, the resurrection corresponds with descent. Or as
Peter Sinfield would
later put it:
"To mount up high you first must sink down
The yin / yang mandala is also shown as the image of a
dragon or snake eating
its own tail. The ouroboros, if you recall from chapter
two, is also the image
of the eagle eating its own wings, the symbol of the
rebirth of the emperor.
To describe the songs on the album as conforming to
the mandala, is also to
describe the emperor.
"In the mighty duel which has been called by the last great Roman
Gregorovius, the grandest spectacle of the ages, the empire had
been humbled to
the dust. But ideas survive, and the principle of the
sovereign right of the
civil power within its own sphere has won its way in
one form or another among
European peoples and their descendants. And the fate
of young Conradin was not
forgotten. Three centuries later it played its part
in the memories of the
German nation, and through the pictures of his
execution distributed in Martin
Lutherís writings contributed to strengthen
the hand of the Protestant Reformer
in his struggle with the papacy, which did