On Being Human
Cover: Still by Antony Gormley. Photograph: Stephen White
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Everything is connected through the harmony of numbers. How the World is Made: The Story of Creation According to Sacred Geometry by John Michell with Allan Brown. Large format hardback. 341 Illustrations, 334 in colour, 272 pages. Thames & Hudson, 2009, ISBN 9780500515105.
More than ever before the printed word is being done down in favour of the small screen. So it has to be said what a great pleasure it is to hold this book in my hands, feast my eyes on the beautiful colour illustrations, delight in the choice of paper and congratulate the publisher on such a fabulous production.
John Michell (1933-2009) was the pioneer researcher and specialist in the field of ancient traditional science. A crucial thinker and the author of more than forty books including the seminal View Over Atlantis in 1969, he profoundly influenced modern thinking in many different spheres such as metrology, archaeology and the existence of lines of energy (leys). He was the grandfather of the Earth Mysteries Movement and encouraged respect for our planet as a living creature long before the birth of the Green movement.
He had a special interest and love for Glastonbury, its ancient prophetic history and mystical landscape. He rediscovered the seven chartered islands within Glastonbury’s Twelve Hides. Credit is due to him for linking the hills, mumps and tumps of the West Country and Cornwall through the hilltop chapels dedicated to Saint Michael. His knowledge of the oldest science of Sacred Geometry enabled him to draw patterns on the landscape relating ancient measure to Glastonbury Abbey, Stonehenge, Avebury and beyond. The first Pyramid stage at the Glastonbury Festival was built according to his recommendations of sacred proportion and number.
Before he died in April 2009, he had completed his last book, How the World is Made. Here, with his own beautifully coloured watercolour designs and diagrams wittily captioned, the reader is shown that the laws of geometry are not human inventions. They are found ready-made in nature everywhere. Throughout his life John wanted to convey the importance of sacred proportion and how everything is connected through this harmony of number. If we could but see it, this perfect harmony underlies everything and everyone. And it is the key to happiness.
Step by step John takes us on the geometer’s journey to show us how it works from numbers 1 to 12 starting with the square and the circle and how numbers generate and reproduce the most amazing geometrical shapes. Through 341 illustrations we learn how sacred geometry and number were the backbone of ancient cultures and traditions ranging from the Great Pyramid of Egypt to Stonehenge, from Plato’s Atlantis to Christianity with St John’s Heavenly City.
One of the picture captions reads: “The practise of creative geometry is not materially rewarding: its attraction is that it is based on universal truth and goes beyond the fluctuating fads and fashions of scientific literalism. By combinations of shapes, beginning with the square and the circle, it aims to depict the pre-existent code of number behind all natural manifestations.”
As Michell’s great friend and co-worker in the field of metrology John Neal says: “There is only one system of measurement throughout the pre-metric world; culture to culture, continent to continent; the similarities of the national standards, both in their structure and method of use so far outweigh their differences that the only conclusion that can be reached is that all of them had referred to the same ‘canon of order’. …It is as though a technically advanced device such as a digital computer had been found in a prehistoric tomb. Then similar devices were subsequently found at opposite ends of the world”. Just as Socrates said in Plato’s Republic: “There is a pattern in the heavens where those who want to can see it and establish it in their own hearts”.
But why has this ancient science become so neglected in Western scientific circles? John surmises: “Plato in his academy taught it to chosen youths under an oath of secrecy; and it was present in early Christianity through the Gnostics. These masters of the old science were suppressed by the Church, as also were all successive schools of mystical revivalists and ‘heretics’. As a result, Christianity lost touch with the ancient tradition and deprived itself of the mystical science and theology that inspired all previous religions. All Western religions today share that ignorance. Originally founded on truth, reason, and the ancient scientific tradition, they have lapsed into corruption and dogmatic superstitions. There are many good souls, even initiated ones, in Jewry, Christianity, and the Muslim faith, but their voices are barely heard amid the clamour of ignorant fanatics.”
What a gift it is to see this ancient tradition revived and revealed here with such care by an inspired modern master.