Gold trail

On the trail of eternity

The Twelve and the Thirteen at a Glance

E. Baldenweg for the twelve and the 13

By on 28 July 2021

E. Baldenweg for the twelve and the 13

The Twelve and the Thirteen

Twelve symbolises wholeness. Without twelve there is no thirteen, without wholeness there is no ... yes, what actually lies outside wholeness? Twelve and thirteen together have an important symbolic meaning, which is the subject of this article. 

Twelve - the original, paradisiacal wholeness

In human traditions and lore, the twelve always appears where wholeness is to be represented:

  • The year consists of 12 months.
  • 12 signs of the zodiac are assigned to twelve months or years (China).
  • Day and night are divided into 12 hours.
  • 12 jurors deliver the verdict.
  • In the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty there are 12 golden plates and 12 fairies.
  • In the fairy tale of Aladdin, there are 12 silver bowls filled with food.
  • 12 gods rule in the Greek, Germanic and Nordic heaven of gods.
  • According to Jewish tradition, 12 tribes form the people of Israel, and 12 disciples of Jesus founded Christianity.

The wholeness of the twelve stands for love and harmony in the area of relationships, which has a constructive and fulfilling effect on the whole of existence.
It can be broken down as follows:

12 = 3 x 4

The number twelve is made up of four and three:

Twelve means that each of the four aspects of being human is supported threefold and thus divine wh oleness is achieved.

Thus, the original paradisiacal wholeness is symbolized by the number twelve. It means that the four elements (symbolized by the four of the family) are in harmony and each of them in turn is whole in itself, that is, supported threefold.

4: The four of the family and the four elements

Four elements as the primordial forces of creation reflect the characteristics of the four members of the family:

  1. The father (FIRE, masculine body): active, initiating, advancing force.
  2. The Mother (WATER, female soul): passive, accepting, life-giving force.
  3. The daughter (EARTH, female body): Impulse-absorbing potential, new reality and growth-giving power.
  4. The Son (AIR, masculine soul): moving, refreshing, inspiring force.

The whole of creation is made up of these four energies, from whose interaction new reality emerges, symbolised by the birth of a child.

[S. The Four of the Family and the Emergence of New Reality.]

3: Three, the divine number

Three is the number of God, the spirit or wholeness:

1) Three fulfilled phases of life make up a whole human life:

    1. Childhood and youth
    2. Adulthood and responsibility
    3. Mature age and wisdom

2) The human being lives in three levels, body, soul and spirit.

    1. He lives with his body in matter.
    2. As a unity of body and soul, he lives between heaven and earth, spirit and matter, father and mother. Thereby his immaterial personality represents his soul (with will, mind and feelings).
    3. Man has the ability to go to a meta-level in his mind, a spiritual level outside. There he can reflect on himself, receive spiritual impulses and also guide himself, i.e. instruct himself.

3) Three spiritual aspects also characterise being human:

    1. The female spirit, the motivation(anima).
    2. The male spirit, the drive in the body(animus).
    3. The unifying force, love (the self, one with Christ).

12: Wholeness (integrity) and eternal life

Man thus gains wholeness or, in other words, integrity, by living love in all phases and areas of his life and by being completely reconciled with his inner family. Thus he gains access to the spirit and to eternal life.

[S. The inner family and the twelve trees in paradise.]

The Twelve and the Thirteen: Wholeness and the Ego

Attack on the wholeness of the Twelve by the Thirteen

Wholeness, unity and new reality in the power of love

Love alone has the power to keep the conflicting energies in a stable balance. It unites spirit and matter as well as male and female into a fruitful interaction. In this, it is itself the resting pole and the axis around which the opposing forces revolve. Due to the tension between the energies, a rotational movement arises around this centre: life itself.

Where love is missing ...

When love as the unifying element is missing and instead fear, negativity and the striving for power prevail, then unity disintegrates. It is the ego, the identity of power and separation, which takes the place of love in the centre and attacks the wholeness of the twelve (see below).

The Thirteen - the Shadow and the Ego 

Denied personality traits

The thirteen ultimately symbolizes, together with the ego, the shadow and thus everything that man does not know or like. These rejected or denied qualities and resources do not participate in the life in the light (of consciousness), but are repressed, locked away and afflicted with negativity.(so, for example, the hated weakness is often overplayed.). The ego is represented by "the old serpent" in the paradise of man full of good intentions (as negative anima; see The Fall ofMan account of the Bible and the mystery of the serpent).

The Ego and the Inner Child

Theego is the dark ruler in the shadows, which oppresses the human being through its urges. It inflates itself and never gets enough. But behind it is a small, frightened and abandoned child who only wants to be noticed and loved.

Wholeness through integration of the shadow

The Path Through the Underworld: Deathly Courage

The confrontation with one's own shadow requires courage, even the courage to die. It is the last phase of the hero 's journey and the hero's trial by fire. In it, the human being encounters his own death, namely everything that he has split off in his life and which therefore separates him from true life in fullness.

Overcoming in the Power of Love: Dying and Rising

But the one who can accept and love himself in his weakness overcomes death in the form of the ego, his identity of separation. Its power "dies" in the process and instead the Self, the identity of love, rises (see From Ego to Self).

A new wholeness and eternal life

In this way, the human being regains wholeness. He knows and has experienced himself that love is stronger than death, because he has seen his own shadows and still lives on and on. Thus he has also found his way back to gratitude, unity and security in the greater.

The Lamb on the Throne (E. Baldenweg)

From 13 to 10: The new wholeness 

The serpent in paradise and the two trees 

12 Aspects of Wholeness as a Garden of Paradise

Paradisiacal Wholeness: Twelve "Trees 

The original wholeness of the Twelve can be represented as a "paradisiacal garden" of 12 "trees". [S. The two trees in paradise and the forbidden fruit.]
However, this paradisiacal wholeness is obviously impaired in our existence. This is also the theme in biblical teaching.

The Thirteen as the Ego: the Serpent in Paradise

According to the biblical account of the Fall of Man, wholeness is attacked by the serpent which the ego represents. When this takes the place of love in the centre, the whole harmony of the twelve disintegrates and love dies.

The serpentin man's paradise, full of good intentions, suggests a lack and thereby awakens the drive. Moreover, it corrupts the male and female spirit(animus and anima) with power.

The two trees in the middle: knowledge and life

These two spiritual greatnesses are represented in the account of creation and the fall of man by the two trees in the middle of paradise (dark in fig. above right):

  • The tree of knowledge symbolises the anima (motivation through love).
  • The tree of life symbolises the animus (devotion of life out of love).

Instead of motivation and devotion out of love, power through seduction and oppression now comes to the fore with the ego.

[S. The Two Trees in Paradise and the Forbidden Fruit.]

The Way Back to the Tree of Life (10 Sephiroth)

Removal of the three corrupt factors

To restore wholeness, the three corrupt factors must be removed, i.e. the ego as well as anima and animus in their negative form as power through seduction and suppression.

The Judeo-Christian tradition addresses how The Negative Anima as whore or serpent and The Negative Animus as animal have already been removed from the system(!).

10 Sephiroth

The 10 Sephiroth and the Tree of Life

Afterwards the whole forms itself anew to a system of ten factors. This corresponds to the ten digits ("Sephiroth") of the Tree of Life of the Jewish Kabbalah and represents the redeemed creation and the new wholeness.

[S. From 13 to 10, to the tree of life]

The Tree of Life by Zak Yitro

We continue with:

The inner family and the twelve trees in paradise
The two trees in paradise and the forbidden fruit
The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life of the Jewish Kabbalah

From 13 to 10, to the tree of life      

Art details:

Elisabeth Baldenweg, pictures from "Das verlorene Paradies" by Anne Fäh-Langen and Elisabeth Baldenweg (EWA-Verlag, 1997):

  • Cover picture: the original "paradisiacal" order and the "fallen creation" for the Twelve and the Thirteen.
  • "The Lamb on the Throne" for the overcoming of power and the resurrection of love.

Zak Yitro at Marshall University Jewish Student AssociationThe tree of life as the unity of the two opposites spirit and matter / male and female (yin and yang).


  1. My God, dear Anne! I am overwhelmed by all the detailed information, how you present it and how one flows into the other. Fantastic! Impressive contributions.
    The pictures fascinated me and I wondered where you found them. Now I see that they are partly your and Elisabeth's own creations. I intend to copy, enlarge and print the pictures so that I can look at them, study them and internalise them. Now I will read on. Sleeping Beauty is my favourite fairy tale. I want to find out why. GlG. Christa.

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