- chapter index -
pg. 1 - Epitaph | pg. 2 - The Iron Gates of Fate
pg. 3 - The Fate of All Mankind | pg. 4 - Moonchild
pg. 5 - The Court of the Crimson King | pg. 6 - The Purple Piper
pg. 7 - Averroes | pg. 8 - The Keeper of the City Keys
pg. 9 - The Pilgrim's Door | pg. 10 - The Return of the Fire Witch
pg. 11 - The Gardener Plants An Evergreen | pg. 12 - The Prism Ship
pg. 13 - The Grinding Wheel | pg. 14 - On Soft Gray Mornings
pg. 15 - Divining Signs | pg. 16 - The Yellow Jester
pg. 17 - Remember the Future | pg. 18 - The Return of the King
pg. 19 - The I Ching | pg. 20 - Octants

site index

    Alta Vista Translations
  Translate from  

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 Epitaph . Within the mandala, extremes of Yang are mirrored (balanced) by extremes of Yin. Twenty First Century Schizoid Man is mirrored by I Talk to The Wind, and In the Court of the Crimson King by Moonchild. Furthermore, the beginning of the album (night sounds) is mirrored by the end (In the Court of the Crimson 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 the Ascending 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 is North."

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 moved swiftly toward Equilibrium. It is the process of Ascending (|:) from the Low state (::), so its trigram is |::, called "The Arousing" (Chen), with its image Thunder. Its character is to incite movement; it awakens the seeds; it is decisive and vehement. It is the creative force stirring in Nature's womb. The Mother brings forth the Eldest Son. Its direction is Northeast."

This is Twenty First Century Schizoid Man , the song that introduces us to King Crimson. Interestingly the image of this trigram is thunder, the very symbol of Zeus.

Octant DH - I Talk To The Wind

"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 Southwest."

This would be called "the gentle sun", the gentle side of Frederick II.

Octant DL - Moonchild

"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, sometimes flowing 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 water."

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 mountain."

"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 perfection by Keeping Still; here the seed is planted for a new beginning. It is the Gatekeeper to the Earth, where rebirth takes place."

Octant AH - The beginning of In the Court of the Crimson King, including the Return 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 Sun; .."

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 Ching.

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, relaxation can begin and the fruits if the Ascent can be enjoyed. Its direction is Southeast. Lake is the Youngest Son brought forth by the Mother."

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 Image

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."

- Kuai, 43rd Hexagram of the I Ching

"In the High quadrant, comprising octants HA and HD, the High state is dominant. This corresponds to pure yang, represented by a digram with two firm lines: || [drawn from left to right rather than from bottom to top]. This part of the cycle is called Complete (or Culminating or Climaxing) Yang."

- The Book of the Eight Changes: Universal Cycles and the Trigrams by John Opsopaus

The Crimson King does, however, "taste the sweet and the sour", for, although the alchemical rubedo, the sun at it's zenith, has been achieved, it is a time of great peril.

"Transition above the sky leads to ruin.

The wise avoid pushing too far without the support of faithful friends.
Ruin and confusion fall upon those who put themselves ahead of others."

- The Book of Change by Steven Ericcson-Zenith

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 |||, called "The Creative" (Ch'ien), with the image Heaven. It is strong, governing and creative. Its season is Summer and it stands in the South, for in both the Sun is strongest. This trigram is the Father, who seeks the female, and sires the Descending Path, which seeks the Earth (:::). This path corresponds to the four elements in order of increasing density: Fire (Heaven), Air (Wind), Water and Earth. Of necessity, the seeds of the Descent are hidden in the High State, as the Ascent was hidden in the womb of the Low State."

- The Book of the Eight Changes: Universal Cycles and the Trigrams by John Opsopaus

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 low"

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 historian, 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 not fail."

- History of the Christian Church; Vol 5 Ch 6, by Phillip Schaff

In the Court of the Crimson King ~ The I Ching return to
chapter & page index

In the Wake of Poseidon

Sign the Dreambook Dreambook Read the Dreambook

Chapter One The Metaphysical Record In The Court Of the Crimson King In The Wake Of Poseidon Lizard The King In Yellow The Sun King Eight
The Lake Which Mirrors the Sky In the Beginning Was the Word In the Beginning was the Word...side two Eros and Strife Dark Night of the Soul...Cirkus Dark Night of the Soul...Wilderness Big Top Islands
Islands Two Footnotes in the Sand Still Still 2
Works Lyrics
Gallery Guestbook
Links Discography E-mail:
Peter Sinfield
Jon Green
Page One

Return to the Song Soup On Sea Homepage

These Pages Created and Maintained using Arachnophilia
Copyright © 1998 - 2001 ~ Jon Green /All rights reserved