We're All Dancing in a Ring Around the Sun

Restoring Primative Masonry

Joseph Campbell describes (modern speculative) Masonry as "a scholarly attempt to reconstruct an order of initiation that would result in spiritual revelation". While modern Masonry is modeled on the Mysteries, the legend that is utilized thematically is the captivity of the Hebrews. As the story comes down to us, this was a group whose worship had developed from taking place in a tent in the desert to taking place in a stately Temple, when their temple was destroyed and they were removed into exile. The main idea is that during the exile, with no Temple in which to perform the ritual, it fell into disuse.

In Architecture it is popular to write of 'the old way of seeing' and how a system of building based on the old way has decayed and fallen into disuse. HPH Bromwell recommends in His "Restorations of Masonic Geometry" that the legendary 'lost word' represents the whole of the Doctrine, and that talk of rebuilding the temple actually refers to reconstructing the Original Ritual Meanings, what we might call Masonic landmarks. Bromwell writes, "The intent here is to restore the knowledge of some portions of that which has left the science of the Lodge in a broken and incomplete condition, which restoration can only be effected by first reproducing the original order".

Architect Herbert Bangs, in his book "The Return of Sacred Architecture", writes of recovering the ancient tradition, but the information that he offers about that is so vague, general, and cliche that while it is true, not much of it is useful in a restoration of the ancient ritual (which includes the building) that Bromwell speaks of.

The following is intended as a continuation of the ideas in 'The Restorations'. In the first page we introduced background information, and here we will contrast Bromwell's approach to the task to that of what I will characterize as book sellers. I direct you to four old books written by what I consider to be scholars. Those are HPH Bormwell's "Restorations of Masonic Geometry", William Stirling's "Canon", James Frazer's "Golden Bough" and Robert Graves' "White Goddess".

The Bounded Way

If you have read page one you will probably have picked up on the idea that the symbolic Masonic Lodge is not unlike other representations of the form and situation of the place that we find ourselves in. We could speculate that not only are legends which allegorize the celestial spheres universal, but that they and the rituals they accompany, are probably the oldest in the world. Most people don't realize that the lodge is representing the same geometric/astronomical ideas that we are introduced to in the Bible.

Bromwell reminds us that the symbolic Masonic lodge, like the Temple and the Tabernacle before that, is a figure of the things which are in the heavens - that is provided the beholder has proper knowledge and the Lodge room furnishings are complete and in Masonic order. The Lodge should be conformable in its parts, form and situation to the visible world or Universe and should represent that in all its principal features, both terrestrial and celestial. The representation is in all respects by correspondence, that is, it is symbolic. The priests also were symbolic.

It has already been shown that when the 300x50x30 dimensions of Noah's are converted to 360x60x36, we get a rectangle sixty degrees wide, 360 degree long; or a band around the earth from 30 degree north to 30 degrees south. This is where a hexagram touches a circle that it is inscribed in. Since we know that Mercury is the most eccentric planet and ranges farthest than any of the others from the sun (about 7 degrees), and the sun moves as far as 23.5 degrees north, we can see that the ark represents the range of Mercury, inside of which the sun's path is contained. Mercury is associated with boundaries and limits. Noah's seven passengers were the 7 planetary spheres, and the animals were the ZOOdiac.

[Note that the conversion above took the original numbers 300:50:30 and divided them by five then multiplied by six, that is 6/5. If you like math you will find it interesting that Pi equals Phi squared times 6/5.]

I would interject here that if we inscribed a double square in a circle, it touches the circle at 26.5 degrees, and would provide a similar border around the sun's path as seen from the earth. Meso-american ball courts were built 1:4, or as a double, double square, which produces a 14 degree diagonal. Fourteen degrees is the width of Mercury's range as measured against the sun (ecliptic) instead of the equator. Both the moon's range and that of Merucry lie outside the double square/rectangle.

You may recall the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant as being 2.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 cubits, whcih gives us a 3x5 foot print. 3/5 = .6, which is the tangent of 31 degrees. The 3x5 rectangle touches a circle just beyond Mercury's range. In Washington DC the run ranges 31 degrees north and south of due east. If we consider the dimensions of the coffer in the King's Chamber of the GP, we see a foot print of 89.62 x 38.5 for a ratio of .430. The tangent of 23.5 degrees is 0.4348.

We can see the same 'bounded way' idea in cathedrals where the nave is flanked by aisles on either sides. The nave represents the suns path, as in the lodge. We continue to return to the idea that geometry and astronomy combined lie at the core of this, that the early sacred spots were astronomical viewing places, and that the ealiest rituals derived from danced poetic myth designed as a teaching tool.

A Lost Art?

As promised, I would like to present some of what has been written on this subject, which as I say, compared to Bromwell's book is so general and vague that although it is true, it is not useful to you. I wish to contrast Bromwell's Masonic approach with what I will characterize as the lost art school of thought on this matter. While Bromwell is attempting to reconstruct a ritual, the others are primarily selling books.

Reading "Restorations of Masonic Geometry and Symbolry" and William Stirling's "Canon" provide you with the clues that concretize general statements made by the 'lost art' writers. Here are some quotes from Architect Herbert Bangs:

"The function of the ancient architect or artist was to express, in material form, insights into a higher reality, thus making those insights available to others... AR was then the art of incorporating spiritual insight into the environment that we create for ourselves in which to work, play, worship. Today we have lost our knowledge of the esoteric function of symbols." This is code for he doesn't understand the system, but that doesn't keep him from lecturing on it.

"The practice of magic is intimately to the selection of symbols, and the symbols that link man to the cosmos are among those that are manipulated to produce the magic of architecture. The symbols serve to concentrate the mind. These symbols are predominately numerical and geometrical. The same laws that are the laws of creation are visible in our bodies. 187 " Note that above he had said that we have lost our knowledge of this.

Architecture critic Jonathan Hale writes "Architecture is the play of patterns derived from nature and ourselves. In a medeival cathedral every dimension and proportion have its meaning. Ancient dimension systems combined human and geodetic measure. One purpose of patterning is to ground the building in nature and connect it by imitating the ordering discpline of life forms. .. ruined old belief that a building could invoke heaven on earth. It is important that we unify our building with the shapes and patterns of nature".

But which life forms. You will note that the lost art school overlaps the sacred geometry school, so their treatises contain obligitory mentions of the square roots of the first ten digits, but not much that really tells how the ancient temple was constructed in fact. And you rarely see portrayals of world temples to illustrate their ideas. You are sure to read ideas like, 'All scared architecture is built upon certain demonstrable mathematical, harmonic and geometric princples', and you are reintroduce to phi.

"The famous front elevation of the Parthenon was shown to demonstrate the application of the golden rectangle to the facade, but no explanation of the mathematical signifgance of the form, much less the esoteric or spiritual significance was ever given". Personally I would expect a bit more than that about this subject from an architect writing about a return to sacred architecture; especially when Peter Tompkins wrote this in 1971, "The facade of the Parthenon is 100 geographic feet of .3082765 meters, or 1 second of arc at the latittude of Athens which is 35"58'."

Herbert Bangs in writing about Hale writes, "For the making of magic, it is necessary for there to be a magician who understands the magic as a way of shaping reality. I am not sure if he is speaking of Hale, but he can't mean himself as he admitted that "Today we have lost our knowledge of the esoteric function of symbols". Speaking of the pre-Modern temple Bangs writes that, "preeminent among the symbolic possibilities are the mysterious system of number, geometry and mathemaical thought that were once incorporated into the fabric of the building. These systems are mysterious because the relation of mathematics to reality is not understood"?

Hale suggests that intuition played a large part in temple design. He suggests that an 'intuitive sense of form' is available to all designers, and that "When a building is designed as a compositon of related forms, it is informed by a system of proportions". He recommends that the mind has access to these 'universal principles of form'; yet he critcizes the notion that 'geometry is a set of rules that must be followed to produce a complete design. Correctness he says has superseded inspiration. You can see that his suggesting is diametrically opposed by Bromwell's which suggests that the form and situation of the lodge and temple are constrained by geometry and astronomy. West writes that Egyptian art was not based on individual inspiration, but on knowledge.

Hale contrasts teachings of harmonious design that center on rules of geometry and upon a 'way of seeing'? Speaking in the most general terms he suggests that In many public and sacred buildings in the past, the patterns of regulating lines were deliberate because the shapes and ratios had symbolic meanings which were kept secret. The main regulating lines were diagonals of rectangles.

Setting Hale's notion of intuition aside, it should be noted that you usually see something along these lines coming from the lost art school:

"The buildings of antiquity were established upon a canon of number, geometry and proportion which is today forgotten or ignored". Actually it is neither, as it is being studied by Masonic scholars all over the world.

John Mitchell suggests that the temple is not so much a model of the cosmos itself (meaning the real world) as it is a model of the national cosmology. (cosmology =df. a conception of the cosmos). The most cherished possession of every ancient culture, he writes, was its sacred cannon of cosmology, and the inner secrets of that tradition were preserved in the principle temple, via schemes of geometry, symbols, number and proportions. Michell writes of an ancient canon of proportion formed after a perfect model of the cosmos founded on 'principles of which we are now ignorant'. Had he ever read Bromwell, he would see that we he (Bromwell) was not ignorant of those principles.

The New Jerusalem

John Mitchell writes, "The plan of Noah's Ark measures 300 x 50 cubits, which if the royal cubit of 1.72 feet is the appropriate unit, is equal to 4440 square feet." He always reduces things to a flat plane, the surface of the earth. He never read William Stirlings book Canon very closely, in spite of using a lot of the phrases and ideas about Gematria from that. Stirling brings our attention to the Ark as solar boat (bark) in the 19th century.

Michell had a bad habit of second guessing authors, and of wanting to convert numbers to a system of his choosing. He stayed away from Schwaller de Lubicz's work that points out that the Egyptians used different version of cubits within the same structure for different purposes. He never even mentions the height of Noah's Ark. Again, John Michell never knew much about this except for generalities, but the reading public was none the wiser. I never knew until I found Bromwell's book (available for sale on the way out, thank you).

While proclaiming a universal canon of proportion tied to temple building, Michell doesn't bring up the numbers for the Tabernacle, or the Temple, or the oblation. He mentions two of three of the dimensions of Noah's Ark, and chooses for his prime Bible example the new Jerusalem. The NJ is described as the same in length, breadth and height, its a cube. It has a wall with 12 gates, 3 in each direction, and a foundation with 12 stones. The wall measured 144 cubits, and the city 12,000 furlongs, but we are told if that's a perimeter sum. It sounds like you have 3, 12 and 144 and a cube.

Michell desribes Revelation 21 as a geometric exercise like this: "Following the pattern of the New Jerusalem, a circle is inscribed within a square; this is the wall 14,400 cubits round. Within the circle is placed a hexagon. At the foundation of the every cosmic temple is the figure of the circle cubed." The 'pattern' of the NJ was a cube. The word circle is mentioned only once in the Bible; not here. The wall measured 144 not 14400. And when Michell says cubed, he means multiplied by itself three times, not a volume. He is a flat-lander. When he hears cube, he always multiplies. Also he never provides a reason why we should start with a hexagram in a circle.

Michell's Grand Cosmic Template that he promoted for years looks like this (above). Had he read Bromwell his understanding of this would have been restored. He is right, the temple and mandalas are based on juxtaposing a circle and a square, this aligns it to the 'four winds' and sets up an orthogonal grid of horizontal and vertical lines. He is also correct in that the hexagram in a circle is also involved, but it is not the only form of the template, there is also a square component. These are the triangulum and the ad quadratum forms (seen below). Note how he cheats the circles into bunches of three in each directions like the gates of the cities in Ezekiel and in the Revelation (and bulls around the brazen sea at the temple).

Remember that this is an astronomical metaphor. The parallel lines of the hexagram mark 30 degrees which is the range of Mercury the most eccentric planet. The twelve circles represent the 12 zodiac signs and should be spaced equally.

Michell had assembled most all the parts, but just couldn't see the whole picture. He even writes this:

"The geometry of stone circles is derived from the extreme positions of the sun. moon and stars (should be planets, esp. Merc) as they cross the horizon. The lines of stones that determine the the circle's formation are set to point out these astronomical points (should be lines) in such a way that the heavenly bodies create the figures on which the circles are based." He goes on to suggest that Christian churches in Britain we placed on former stone circles. so that the proportions of the old arrangement was preserved along with its alignment.

Wrapping up, Michell proclaims that all ancient units of measure relate to each other and to dimensions of the earth, and that the figure above is the scheme which lies at the foundation of temples and sacred cities of the ancient world, being the geometer's image of ideal cosmology. While he is right in a sense, the hexagram is only used to develop the 30 degree limiting lines of Mercury, and the arctic circles. He has discarded the quadratic component.

He suggests that the image above is the plan used for St. mary's chapel in Glastonbury, as well as at the Stonehenge. While Michell never uses the term Metatron's Cube, you can see that is the figure that he is using, a hexagonal fractal. Note the concentric circles in the Stonehenge plan. Once again, the image produces some of the astronomical lines, and it looks a little like the lodge floor, but it is not completely correct.

Unfortunately, when we look closely we see that a hexagram does not fit the station stones. Connecting those produces a rectangle with 23 degree diagonals like the tropics. Twenty three degree diagonals are formed when we shorten an equilateral triangle to 52 degree base angles like we see on the Grerat Pyramid, like we see in the Sri Yantra, and the Washington DC map plan.

Michael Schneider

Michael S. Schneider has taken up where John Michell left off, using the same story about a symbol and instrument for universal harmony etc. He describes Michell's diagram (above) as 'The Cosmological Circle', a geometric diagram that's proportions were used as an intelligent model for integrating weights and measures with human dimensions, and for sanctifying the Earth with sacred architecture. Its dimensions are described as the Heavenly City described in The Book of Revelation, seen in the plan of the Buddhist Brobodur temple, Stonehenge, Glastonbury, and described as Plato's ideal city Magnesia. Its central "squared circle" plan is also found in the sizes and relationships among the Earth, Sun and Moon. With Schneider, just as with Michell, he talks a fair talk, but just doesn't really understand the system. See more of Schneider's "Constructing The Universe Activity Books".

This is taken from a book of his where you can see that he claims that the outer edge represents the moon's path?? Next he descibes the geometry of the lodge floor correctly as a 'squared circle and hexagonal geometry', which he ascribes to the Stonehenge. The problem is that Michell's images that Schneider uses don't depict that quadratum half of the template.

Notice that he suggests that the altar at Chartres shares this geometry, but instead of depicting the altar area of the cathedral, he shows us a picture of the aspe end of that (see above). The altar is at the crossing (see below), where we do see the quadratum form. Neither a square or hexagon works well in the aspe. Schneider and Michell appear to have missed the fact that the hexagram is used to depict the range of Mercury.

The Spirit of Harmony Properly Invoked.

David Fideler is another John Michell disciple who employs 'the same story about a symbol and instrument for universal harmony etc.' At least Fideler credits William Stirling as being the source of much of the Gematria info that Michell handed out. He, like Michell had so much of the facts together but couldn't make a system out of it, as they, like many people, had no experience with 'ritual'.

He purports to describe to us the process of the magical invocation of the 'spirit of harmony':

  • " The principles of harmony can always be invoked and made manifest. Philosophers and cosmologists sought not only to understand the principles of harmony, but also to put them to use whenever possible." Yeah, but how. Michell had already said that. How did they do that??

  • "The central vessel of magical invocation was the temple which was designed to attract a particular god or spirit and to make that spirit both accesible and active within human society." The temple was designed to attract a particular god or spirit. Not only attract it, but store (capture, ensnare) it too, according to Michell. [See notion of broken pentagram as a snare. The idea probably works the same with a broken protective square?] How did they do it?

  • This spirit was attracted through geometry and proportions, thus reflecting the harmony (order) of the universe and those principles that underlie the genesis of life. Geometry and Proportions are seen as reflecting the order in the universe. (And this is demonstrated largely by the visible lights in the sky.) The geometry that he is talking about is the geometry of the movement of the earth among the heavens, but he doesn't quite know how.

  • "The temple was seen as constituting a microcosm, an image of the entire universe and was laid out accordingly." And how is that?

  • "The same basic patterns both the world of man and the world of stars." And?

  • "Temples, like Gothic cathedrals, were designed to reflect and thus enshrine the living spirit of harmony which underlies the universe." Had he said to 'imitate' and enshrine he would have had it.

    Here we see an invoking square (magic circle). Inside the triangle in the circle it reads "For the Spirit to Appear in". Below we see a similar figure without a protective square. Note that the triangle is pointing east. These figures are the source for the language that Fideler used.

    Here we see the Rose Cross Lamen, which is an expanded symbolic circle (square). In the four corners we see the emblems of the four elements. We also see the alchemical symbols for salt, sulphur and mercury. Below the center we see a hexagram with all the planets.

    The Plan for the Temple

    St. Peter's Bascillica

  • In a set of pages that I am calling The Masonic Lodge Floor Explained, I show how the symbolic lodge floor reflects the astronomical lines of the earth.

  • The Master's Square - compares the Tabernacle, the Temple, and the New Jerusalem to the Masonic Temple, and investigates the universal, astronomically based, geometric method for Temple design and construction. This relates the patterns in the Masonic Floor to all the sacred objects in the Bible, as well as temples around the world.

  • Closely related is a page where I show how to derive the Sri Yantra from the template that is introduced in the pages above. Here is an animation that shows the first six triangles of the yantra drawn on lines on the globe. I suggest that the horizontal lines in the sri yantra are 15, 30, 45 and 60 degrees.

    People who enjoyed this page may also enjoy The Tree of Life and the Legend of the Soul's Journey and the Washington DC Symbols webpage. Facing the Future.