The Calendar of the Soul
It is apparent that the Calendar of the Soul is composed of corresponding verses which divide the year into two halves, from Easter to Michaelmas, and back again to Easter. For the translator, the most important task is to bring the corresponding verses into harmony with each other. By printing them side by side, each verse can be experienced with its ‘octave’ of the corresponding one.
But something else comes to expression in letting them speak side by side. Their relationship follows a certain law of evolution. Out of the whole evolve the parts, and this is the meaning of subtraction. We number the verses from 1 to 52 according to the weeks of the year, Easter to Easter. And now a double subtraction has to take place. We have one verse, say Number 5 for the fifth week; to find its correspondence, we must subtract 1 from our 5, which leads to 4 ... and then subtract the 4 from 52, resulting in 48, the verse we are looking for. It is necesssary each time to subtract from the verse number and then from the whole.
This tracing of the related weeks is a gesture akin to the process of evolution. Out of the majestic un-folding of macrocosmic forces, the microcosmic worlds came into being. We ourselves followed this same process of subtraction by evolving by degrees the consciousness of self. It was a process of diminution by which we slowly exchanged our ancient clairvoyant vision, embracing totality, for our present earth-bound sight and mind, geographically conditioned by the existence in a physical body.
Subtracting means, therefore, on the one hand a diminishing, but on the other it creates a new principle of evolution, that of polarity. Not only are the parts a contrast to the whole, but also the parts themselves form opposites. There is no better description of the process than the one Emerson gave in his essay “Compensation:”
“Polarity, or action and reaction, we meet in every part of nature; in darkness and light; in heat and cold; in the ebb and flow of waters; in male and female; in the inspiration and expiration of plants and animals; in the systole and diastole of the heart; in the centrifugal and centripetal gravity ... If the south attracts, the north repels. To empty here, you must condense there. The value of the universe contrives to throw itself into every point. If the good is there, so is the evil; if the affinity, so the repulsion; if the force, so the limitation ... Thus is the universe alive. All things are moral. That soul which within us is a sentiment, outside of us is a law.” What lived in Emerson's mind underlies the style and composition of these weekly verses. And it is the human being who must reach a stage of compensation, of balance between the opposites, enhancing the polarities to forces of inner growth and maturity. It is a most invigorating development when it is practiced year after year in faithful succession. By combining the two corresponding verses in the mind, we gain a new insight into the workings of that which is outside and that which lives within.