College of Isis - Star of Ishtar and Inner Chinese Alchemy Part II

We continue our look at the Star of Ishtar Diagram and Ancient Chinese Inner Alchemy

The Star of Ishtar of the Fellowship of Isis

and Chinese Inner Alchemy - Part II


by Linda Iles



Part II:  Ancient Chinese Alchemy and Two Goddesses of Babylon


"The Rays of the Star are Time; the levels are the coils of the Creatrix Dragon of Babylon, the Goddess Tiamat. Her four coils form Space, these correspond to the four levels of the Qabalistic Tree of Life (Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah, Assiah). The matrix resembles in form a spider’s web, around an egg-shaped oval center, which is the seed, the central point from which life emanates in the eight coloured cosmic rays of Sirius, known as the Star of Ishtar, and Soul of Isis” - Olivia Robertson


Every moment of our lives, NOW is the only reality when Time and Space interconnect. - Olivia Robertson

 Ishtar, Goddess of Time


The companion diagram to the Hetu or Dragon was the Turtle diagram, named “Luoshu” (Lo Shu), which corresponds to the forces of earth.  It was believed to be the oldest magical square diagram in the world.  It was supposedly found on the back of a turtle in the Luo River by the emperor Yu the Great. 



Even though this diagram is described as a square, what it most resembles is an eight-rayed star, whose center and rays are connected with a series of contrasting black or white circular dots.   In the “Suet Wen Jie Zi,” we are told that the ancient Chinese divided a year into eight periods of time that correspond to the eight major points of the compass. (North, Northeast, East, Southeast, South, Southwest, West and Northwest)  Each of these eight sections also corresponds to a trigram of the Yijing or I Ching.



Qián   Gèn

Dui              Zhèn

Kūn   Xùn



Modern scholars have presented evidence that trigrams and the concept of Yin and Yang derive from astronomical observation.  This corroborates the origin of the concept of Dao as the power of the cosmos which manifested in the movement of the heavens.  In 1978 evidence was first presented at a conference on paleography at Zhilin University by a scholar named Zhang Zhenglang on the correspondences of the trigrams of the Yijing.  Materials based on his work were presented at a Zhouyi conference later that same year, demonstrating that the trigrams of the Hetu and Luoshu may actually be star maps which date to at least 6000 BCE.. A book titled “The Astronomical Phenomena” or “Tien Yuan Fa Wei” compiled in the 13th century by Bao Yunlong shows the Luoshu as a star diagram. The original trigrams of the Yijing, the eight “Bagua” appear to be included in these maps.


The naturally occurring lines on the back of a turtle’s shell were thought to correspond to the eight main positions of the compass, or to the eight main stations of the solar year.  The eight lines and the center point in the Luoshu diagram were coded in binary numerical patterns of black and white. These nine numbers, on any given line, always add up to fifteen.  The number fifteen is associated with the Babylonian goddess Ishtar,, “The Lady of Fifteen” being among her many titles.  The Luoshu or Turtle diagram was used to generate calendar calculations for daily, seasonal and annual cycles.  The star Sirius, known as the Star of Ishtar in Babylon and The Star of Isis, or Home or Soul of Isis in ancient Egypt also marked seasonal and annual cycles.


Tiamat, Goddess of Space


There are instances where these two diagrams have been superimposed onto each  other, as a symbol of the joining of heaven and earth.  The dragon was the embodiment of the Celestial, the turtle embodied  Terrestrial forces.  These two diagrams later were developed into the trigrams of the “Yijing” (I Ching). As such, they formed the keystone of Chinese spiritual culture.


The scholar Schuyler Cammann has done extensive research for many years  into the origins of the Hetu Dragon and the Luoshu Turtle diagrams.  This distinguished scholar has come to believe in the probability that the Dragon and Turtle diagrams were once a single diagram of thirteen numbers arranged in a diamond shape which may have had Babylonian origins.  Tiamat, the goddess named to represent the coils of space or the celestial forces in the Star of Ishtar diagram, is, like Ishtar, a Babylonian goddess.  Tiamat is a goddess who takes on the form of the primordial dragon in ancient Babylonian myths.  She is the cosmic dragoness or ‘Hetu’ of ancient Babylon.


The diamond form of the combined charts exhibits five central numbers, which relate to the five  Daoist alchemical elements and the five planets (Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Mercury) that were observable by the ancients without the aid of modern telescopes.  They could be numbered and counted on our five fingers, a correspondence that was seen as proof that the body of a human being contained the divine forces of creation, and was a living expression of divine proportion.


Daoist Alchemy, Coils of Tiamat and the Fibonacci Sequence


Leonardo of Pisa, or Leonardo Fibonacci, was the greatest European mathematician of the Middle Ages.  Fibonacci’s mathematical work “Liber abaci,” published in 1202, was the first to bring the Hindu - Arabic number system and the decimal system into Europe.  A mathematical problem presented in the third section of “Liber abaci” introduced the numerical phenomenon called the Fibonacci Numbers or the Fibonacci Sequence, which in turn led to the recognition of the Golden Mean in Europe during this period. 


Subsequently the Golden Mean came to be used in many branches of art and science in the West.  Before the time of Fibonacci, the Golden Mean was employed in masterworks of the art and architecture of antiquity.  Proportions of the Golden Mean can readily be found in such architectural monuments of the Classical Period as the Parthenon of Athens and in Classical Greek sculpture.  The Golden Mean can be found in the art of Leonardo da Vinci, in the stress and metre of Sanskrit poetry and in Virgil’s “Aeneid.”  It can be found in the music of the classical composers Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy, Schubert, Bach and Satie.  Anyone who has performed rituals from the Fellowship of Isis Liturgy will find several familiar names included in this list of composers.  Olivia often suggests playing their works at intervals during an FOI Liturgy rite.


Mathematic patterns exist throughout nature which often exhibit proportions of the Golden Mean, and the series of numbers known as the Fibonacci Sequence.  The Golden Mean in mathematical terms is referred to as “Phi” with a numerical value of approximately 1.618034.  This number 1.618034 is represented in notation by the Greek letter “Phi” (φ) pronounced as either fee or the Anglicized fie.  It is not to be confused with “Pi” (π).  (* See note on Phi and Pi below)


Each number in the Fibonacci series is the sum of the two previous numbers, 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21, etc. (1 + 1=2, 2 + 3=5, 3 + 5= 8).  The ratio of any two successive numbers in the Fibonacci series, (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21) divided by the Fibonacci Sequence number before it will produce the following series of numbers: 1/1 = 1,  2/1 = 2,  3/2 = 1.5,  5/3 = 1.666,  8/5 = 1.6,  13/8 = 1.625,  21/13 = 1.61538.  The ratio steadily progresses towards the value known as the Golden Mean (also Golden Section, Golden Ratio or Golden Number).


The Fibonacci Sequence is frequently exhibited in Nature.  Plants illustrate the Fibonacci Sequence in the number and arrangement of the positioning of their leaves, sections and seeds.  The Golden Mean is demonstrated in pinecones, pineapples, and in flowers through the number and arrangement of their petals and the proportions of the patterns of seeds growing in their centers.  Even the fundamental principles of the Daoist Alchemy correspond to the mathematical principles of the Fibonacci Sequence.  The Two forces of Yin and Yang, Three regions of Luoshu, Five Phases of Wuxing, and Eight Trigrams (the eight primal notes resounding through the three regions) exhibit the following Fibonacci Sequence of 2,3,5 and 8.  (2 + 3=5, 3 + 5= 8.)


The coils of Tiamat on the Star of Ishtar echo the spiral forms that often appear in nature. The spirals of shells in particular often contain the proportions of the Golden Mean.  A cut cross-section of a Nautilus shell shows an increase from chamber to chamber that illustrates the factor of the Golden Mean.  The points on the spiral are 1.618 times as far from the centre after a quarter turn. In a whole turn the points on a radius out from the center are 1.6184 = 6.854 times further out than when the curve last crossed the same radial line.  This equiangular spiral shows that the shell has grown by a factor of the golden ratio in one turn.


This same phenomena is coded within the structure and symbolism of the Star of Ishtar diagram.  Like the lines drawn onto the cross section of the Nautilus shell above to illustrate the Golden Mean, the Rays of the Star of Ishtar cross the coils of Tiamat comprising the same equiangular spiral which is mirrored in nature here on earth and in the spirals of galaxies.  The coils of Tiamat are a representation of the divine proportions of creation found in all forms of spirals, including the cosmic spirals of galaxies and the spiraling helix of our own DNA. 


Olivia writes in “Nuit of the Milky Way, The Alchemical Journey of the Questing Twins”:


“A divine awareness through intuition, not intellect, resonates through all these works, involving the esoteric Golden Proportions. A lovely correspondence with Nature - the geometric rhythms of sea tides, shells, and tree branches, the structure of spiders’ webs and the spiral web of the cosmos replicate. The lesser reflects the greater. There is divinity in all that is.”

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Note: This article is included here by request of FOI Co-Founder Olivia Robertson.