Landforms are past (or present) interpretations within a landscape which enable the land to represent meanings found within astronomical time or ideas about the ordering within any centre and its environs. There is evidence for the widespread use of landforms in prehistoric and ancient cultures.
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In researching the Minoan civilization of Crete (2nd millennium BC) I have been studying the anthropology of tribal groups focused around women**. It is a surprisingly rich and interesting subject which has found itself in a turf war with archaeology. Archaeologists study the past "through the spade" whilst anthropologists study living tribal groups. On occasion, studies of the sexual organization of human groups can be seen to bear upon ancient myths and hence on the social organization of tribes from the late Stone Age onwards. Perhaps archaeology has not taken studies of tribal organization to heart because they involve alternative modes of sexual reproduction, of ownership and belonging. The myths, iconography and legends of first millennium BC Mediterranean cultures indicate that human groups always organize themselves on two principles: what they have to do to eat and how the genders become organized for that work and sexual reproduction.
** For this I returned to William Sullivan's The Secret of the Incas ,
and found the extraordinary The Prehistoric Aegean by George Thomson
In the landforms of Iceland we see an unusually self conscious preoccupation of a new land, to establish its foundation myths alongside circular landforms with a numerical structure. In that case 36 godar were defined, commensurate with our 360 degrees within a circle, each then containing ten degrees. If the oak leafed decagon of west-southern Britain is considered similar, its divisions contain 36 degrees so that the two circular structures are complementary within a shared scheme of 360 degrees, a system of division as old as the Sumerians of 3000 BC.
John Michell (Twelve-Tribe Nations) found a widely distributed twelve-tribe tradition "from Iceland to Madagascar, from Europe through the ancient East to America" - and the most natural cause might be found within the tribal politics of its prior human groupings. That is, human groups may have an invariant preference for order according to the divisions natural to its early gens (breeding groups) which can, according to taboo, intermarry. These groups, transformed into a state with a leader and specialist institutions, then manifest the pre-existing notion of tribal divisions geographically.
The manner in which breeding groups organize is thought to arise by splitting into two parts when a group gets large enough. Gens grow and subdivide and then, according to their taboos, every gens has its own animal or other badge with which the gens becomes identifiable. Depending on whether hunting or pastoralism is primary, it may be the women whose lineage defines the child (men must live in the woman's tribe) whilst in pastoralism the reverse is true (women must live in the man's tribe). Farming tends towards monogamy since man and woman can then work together - our agricultural norm of marriage; in difficulty since husband and wife rarely farm and sexual taboos no longer regulate society. The evidence for all of this can be found in the vocabulary of human groups where familial relationships are sometimes very detailed whilst some terms, such as uncle or grandmother, are surprisingly broad in scope and hence ambiguous.
This sub-division of small tribal groups, there for the purpose of variety in breeding, inherently leads to more groups than are easily manageable through a simple confederation on one level. Complexity also arises when larger groups of gens interact with other large groups within the landscape. Larger groups can develop trade with each other, encouraging specialization within villages and towns. There can be surpluses and there would be a reaching out to other groups to exchange these for other goods. But then one has to see how technologies like metal are operating and how weapon creation is complementary with trade: it can seem easier to absorb neighbors rather than trade with them.
Sexual taboos used animal and plant badges to identify members of a genetic group, these badges often involving magical rites. Some badges appear to have survived and informed now-familiar religious icons, such as different forms of the goddess first evolved by taboo groups. Symbolic frameworks emerged out of taboo, giving inter-breeding groups foundation myths and religious notions. Any symbolic structuring of a tribe would be informed by the prior numeracy emerging from badged sub-groups, in order to form an idealized map as a framework for administrating a manageable number of parts, into ten or twelve parts - in order to act with common purpose. The nation-building process would be dividing an expanse of land into an integrated number of regions like the spokes of a wheel, as was presented in Arthur's myth of a round table of knights. Groups falling within a given region then belong to that region, which has its own center.
Because of its long and complex history, Britain is not divided or mapped like this. In any case, a regular structure would not fit it as a whole island and in fact the white-leafed decagon is about as big a regular circle one could have in Britain. If such structures arrived in the first flush of expansion by tribal groups (by coalescence of naturally dividing breeding groups) then regularity in division of a circular structure might be a simple and hence attractive decision, graspable by the pre-existing familial mind of all the tribe members and un-requiring of the complex mapping found in present day printed maps. Directions from the center locate a tribes regional affiliation without a map. Such a structure is attractive also to autocratic or bureaucratic needs, whilst integrating prior mythic or religious structures, now relating to the overall pattern - as occurred in the establishment of Iceland.
The people of the North appear to have preferred organization according to twelve, as is seen in Iceland etc. and this may relate to an Indo-Europeans desire to incorporate prime number three rather than prime number five. In reading George Thomson's description of the Roman state, one sees that units of ten and one hundred were popular. If the Roman model of ten (300 units in all forming the Roman state electing a king or rex) then could the white-leafed decagon's organization (if it is a tribal state structure) be a division chosen for the post-Roman Anglo Saxon state of Alfred or was it pre-Roman? It is quite likely that post-Roman governmental structures could have evolved from the Roman organization of Britain or at least from Roman ideas in contrast to Norse norms and one notes that the Anglo Saxons were organized according to Hundreds (of tribes) in their administration.
This theory departs from my own "monoculture of thinking" about landscape structures having to be the product of number specialists wishing only to stamp shapes or their elite knowledge onto the land. The simple notion of a circle representing the earth and human groups upon it is natural to tribal groups. Using a convenient number (ten or twelve) to regionally locate and allocate tribes, created an efficient means for organizing tribes upon the Earth. The anthropology of human groups, their invariant evolution and natural modes of work and reproduction, needs to be considered in understanding otherwise enigmatic landscape geometries.
Phaidon's Atlas of the Greek World by Peter Levi gives a useful cross bearing on George Thomson's book from an Oxford Fellow in Classical Studies:
"A great deal was made of mother goddesses in a bold and brilliant discussion, The Prehistoric Aegean, by the Marxist scholar George Thomson. His pioneering study has not been accepted as a whole, but some pieces of it have been digested, often without acknowledgment, by later writers. The sweep of his work, which was an attempt to apply anthropology and a wide range of other disciplines to what we know of Greek prehistory, is hard to deal with; it has therefore been neglected. He identifies his Minoan mother goddess with Demeter, and if she had a name that is as good an equivalent as any. Since he wrote before the deciphering of Linear B, he could not have known that Demeter's name was not used by the Mycenaeans, but that does not essentially weaken his position. The later pantheon did undoubtedly develop out of the earlier. What is not so certain is that the early society was matriarchal and matrilinear. The anthropological model that George Thomson was using is not now widely accepted by anthropologists. Whether or not his theory that the Mycenaeans came from the direction of central Asia is correct, analogies exist there for the dominant role of women, not only among the gods but in human society, that would confirm it." [43.]
It is fair to say that George Thomson's work has not been disproved but nor could it be approved of since its publication. It has therefore become esoteric: its conclusions remain respectable yet is "not accepted as a whole"; "it remains neglected", yet in parts has been "digested, often without acknowledgement" . This note will be moved to Bibliography when other articles refer to this subject.
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In Sacred Number and the Roots of Civilization, chapter three, based on John Michell's reconstruction of the ancient model of the Earth I resolved the mean earth radius (in feet) as being only made up of powers of prime numbers 2, 3 and 7: the primes two and three are factors of twelve, 22 times 3 equalling 12, and Michell's figure of 20901888 feet for the radius is then 126 times 7 feet. The utility of this came, not least, in the ability to form the mean earth circumference as 126 times 44 feet, using a 2 x pi value of 44/7.
Figure 1 The Ancient Model of the Earth
Considering the Oakleaf Decagon of south western England and Wales, we ignore here the other value of 2 x pi (63/10) relating the mean circumference to the polare radius. Top right the rational 44 units around the circumference is also shown in the geometry of a square of equal perimeter length having sides eleven units, squaring the circle in one sense and generating the preferred symbol of the element earth as the square.
Whenever a model of the earth's mean radius is formed, this has to be through a scaling down by some factor into a smaller length. If this was done arbitrarily, without carefully choosing a desireable scaling, then the resulting length would not be a rational model but instead, any length could be said to model anything. The principle of rationality within the model of the earth requires that the scaled down length of a model also be rational in a meaningful way.
In the Oakleaf (perpetual choirs) Decagon, in line with John Michell's finding that perimeters of sacred stuctures were (a) related to the mean earth and (b) employ in some fashion a perimeter of 3168 equal units of length. In our last article, we showed that the scaling of this decagon's radius relative to the mean earth radius was 63.36, so it is important to understand why and how this scaling was chosen (through prime factorization) and achieved (through metrological manipulation) to make the decagon's radius,
Of particular interest is the fractional part of 63.36. As a rational fraction this 0.36 equals 9/25. Dividing 0.36 into 63.36 yields an integer significant to metrology, namely 176 so that 176 times 0.36 equals 63.36.
There is another interesting clue in 0.36 in that the Assyrian foot of 9/10 (0.9) feet as a double foot (1.8 feet) was seen as having 60 parts called shu-si whose length was 0.36 inches**. However, the mean earth radius is 126 times 7 feet when divided by 63.36 feet (the scaling factor) becomes the decagon's radius of 329890.9091 - not rational in feet but ideally suited to the approximation to the golden mean of 160/99 (1.6162) found between the radius and the side lengths of a regular decagon. If that radius is viewed as 512 units long then each side length is 316.8 units long so that the ten sides of the decagon will be 3168 units in all, conforming to Michell's ancient norm for sacred spaces.
**Marduk's ziggurat (the Etemenanki)in Babylon can be seen to have been built within a rational cube of 4320 shu-si or 2400 double Assyrian feet.
To see how the decagon was conceived, one needs to see the mean earth radius as a more complex factorization than 126 times 7 feet, since 20901888 feet can also be arrived at by multiplying: 9/25 (=0.36) x 176 (=63.36, the scaling factor) x 175 x 12/11 x 1728 (123) = 20901888. This factorization reveals the need, to maintain rationality, for the root Sumerian foot of 12/11 feet to measure the octagon model of the mean earth's radius, when it is scaled down by 1/63.36. The decagon radius then becomes a rational 302400 Sumerian feet long whilst the side lengths become 187110 Sumerian feet long - the length of 204120 English feet identified by Michell.
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by John Michell
[City of Revelation: On the Proportions and Symbolic Numbers of the Cosmic Temple.
Garnstone Press:London 1972. ISBN 978-0-85511-040-6]
A mystery too deep for present inquiry concerns the ancient geographical arrangement of temples in relation to each other. That there was some esoteric scheme linking the various centres has always been an item of occult tradition, and the idea is supported by the discovery of identical figures of numerology in all cosmic temples; but the first modern indication of a planned location of ancient sites was provided by Alfred Watkins in his principal work, The Old Straight Track, first published in 1925, and recently republished. Scarcely anything is now known of the aims and methods of this forgotten science, whose monuments are the relics of a neolithic world civilisation. However, the invariable inclusion of the number 3168 as the perimeter of the cosmic temple suggests that, following the ancient practice of relating microcosm to macrocosm, this number may have been used in the greater measurements of sacred geography.
Evidence that this may be so is found in the Welsh Triads, verses of great antiquity that incorporate oral traditions from prehistoric bardic historians. In one of these, Glastonbury, the choir of Ambrosius or Stonehenge and Llan Illtud Vawr [which is Llantwit Major in Glamorgan] are described as the three perpetual choirs of Britain, where 2400 saints maintained a ceaseless chant, 100 saints at each choir for every hour of the day and night. These correspond to the twenty-four elders in Revelation who stand before the throne of the Lamb, 'having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song.' When the song changed, a new age began.
The song of the elders in the temple varied with the seasons and cycles, changing every hour and every year but never ending, and this concept of the perpetual chant forms the highest expression of the temple's function. The rulers at the sacred centre were deeply concerned with the passage of time and with the interpretation of its prevailing influences. The quality of a time, like the quality of a place, is something which is easier to feel than to communicate. Photography is a recent invention, but it is already noticeable that the earliest plates show a landscape which, even where little physical change has taken place, is in some way different from the same scene as it appears in a modern photograph. It is not simply a matter of different equipment, for a picture taken now with an early camera remains perceptibly of the present. There is, as it were, a quality of light that varies in every age, always apparent in the work of the different generations of painters and now becoming discernible in photographs.
As the light of a time varies, so does the sound. It was understood in the school of Pythagoras that each of the heavenly bodies resonates at a certain pitch, and the prevailing celestial harmony, varying according to the relative intervals between the planets, rings continuously in our ears, imperceptible because we have never experienced its absence. The sound of a time nevertheless has a considerable influence on human behaviour. Fashions in music orbit round a central, immovable canon of eternal harmonies in response to the planetary cycles. The success of a popular musician depends on the extent to which he is in tune with his times. Once expressed, the matter becomes obvious.
The song that the elders sang at the perpetual choir was an astro logical chant, pitched to the music of the spheres, celebrating the order of the heavens and guiding the ritual order of life on earth. The temple was the central power station of the whole country, transmitting throughout the nation the current of the divine word, generated through the ceaseless activity of its astrologers, priests and officials. As the times changed, so did the song, and the pattern of life was adjusted accordingly. The hours of the day, the seasons of the year, all the greater and lesser cycles of time were reflected in the temple ceremonial. Plato in Laws speaks of a kingdom in the remote past, ruled by the gods in person, and later, on the departure of the gods, by their trained human representatives. The first human rulers possessed the true canon and the cosmic temple, its projection, the perfect instrument of government, from which proceeded the daily life of the individual and the seasonal events in the farmer's and hunter's year. The transient dream of earthly existence was sustained by the reality of life within the temple.
The round of festivals in the Church Calendar and in the country side is composed of fragments from the old perpetual chant. The church, in succession to the temple, preserved the records of the past and measured the progress of time, both daily and astronomical. The chime of its clock and the regular tolling of the bells were heard far across the quiet meadows of the former landscape, regulating the activities appropriate to the hour in the same way that the Church festivals were once observed in connection with the various stages in the cycle of agriculture. At Glastonbury Abbey there was an elabor ate astronomical clock which perished after the Dissolution but was similar to the clock at Wells Cathedral, which was made by the same master in the fourteenth century. This remains in fine order and displays a circular dial, divided into 24- hours, set within a square frame like the plan of the New Jerusalem. Every hour a star moves round the circle and a golden sun advances one twenty-fourth part of its orbit. The days of the lunar month are indicated and also the age of the current moon. Processions of knights appear hourly and a figure called Jack Blandifer kicks the bells with his heels. This ingenious mechanism is a medieval monument to time, an artful representation of a function of the temple.
There is a curious symmetry in the geographical locations of the three perpetual choirs of Britain. The axis of Glastonbury Abbey is orientated about 3o north of east in the direction of Stonehenge, the distance between Stonehenge and Glastonbury being some 38.9 miles. This is also the distance from Glastonbury to Llantwit Major, the site of the third choir, and if lines are drawn on a map from Glastonbury to Stonehenge and Llantwit, they form an angle of about 144o. Moreover, the angle at Stonehenge between the line from Glastonbury and the line down the Avenue towards midsummer sunrise is also 144o. If the midsummer line is produced 38·9 miles from Stonehenge, it terminates at Goring on Thames, where a temple was formerly sited near the river crossing of several pre historic tracks.
144 is the typical New Jerusalem number and it is also the number of degrees in the outer angle of a dekagon. It is therefore possible assuming Llantwit, Glastonbury, Stonehenge and Goring to occupy four of the ten points of a dekagon, to compute the geographical position of the centre on which the perpetual choirs pivot. It turns out to be on the Malvern Hills above Ledbury, the oldest rock formations in England. The exact spot is just south of the prehistoric city on Midsummer Hill; it is at a hamlet marked on the map as. Whiteleafed Oak, the meeting point of three counties, Worcester, Hereford and Gloucester. There is a legend of the Whiteleafed Oak, but it is not recorded, and although local people remember others who once knew it, they themselves have either forgotten the story or do not care to tell it. There is an alchemical flavour in the name; the oak was sacred to the Druids, a whiteleaved or variegated specimen no doubt particularly so, and it is certainly as it should be that the legendary tree at the centre of the perpetual choir cycle is now the boundary mark of the three festival choirs of Hereford, Worcester and Gloucester.
That this may not be altogether fanciful is indicated by the fact that a circle struck from the Whiteleafed Oak, with the three per petual choirs of Llantwit, Glastonbury and Stonehenge on its perimeter, has a radius of 504 furlongs and circumference of 3168 furlongs. [These units revised in this article to less than 500 furlongs and 3168 other units]
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