The Formal Search Begins. Post 5 Egypt, 1989: A Potent Detour
It took three years to complete “The Navigator, A Medieval Odyssey” and fittingly, it was Wagui who introduced me to the Gizeh Pyramids and the Great Sphinx after the film had screened in a gorgeous theater in Cairo during the 1989 Cairo Film Festival. Here is a still taken by Jeff Short of four of us – hailing from 1348 – preparing to cross a modern New Zealand ‘motorway’, the likes of which we had never even imagined before. But we are pilgrims determined to make an offering on the far side of the Earth to stop the Black Death – and so we seem willing to deal with the menacing beasts on wheels, no matter what. From the far left is Paul Livingston, Chris Hayward, Hamish MacFarlane and myself.
That day, December 6, 1989, warrants a small detour as it was unforgettable. Egypt was potent enough in my life to act as an all-embracing Eye – its own prime symbol – and so frequently it seemed to disrupt all sense of linear time; past and future. The geometry I started to explore in 1985 was not in a meaningless void. To better appreciate the meaning of certain numbers that were beginning to take the stage and speak in volumes, I will leap ahead of 1985 for a moment to capture a sense of how timeless and yet creative some of these numbers are. In particular, I want to draw attention to 1.618/1.236 or 1.309:1. To do so begs a quick detour through Egypt. Coincidentally, just as I was playing a pilgrim in the film, I myself felt like a pilgrim in real life. I was reaching into the past seeking clues, and the character I played was reaching with his fellow villagers into the future seeking salvation. In 1989 these ‘paths’ crossed in Cairo.
We were trying to get a film we’d written about a hunchback up and running in smoky Budapest. Christopher Plummer was going to play the hunchback named Pilau (Peelu), a term I borrowed from the Hopi People of Arizona. I was asked to go to Egypt, but didn’t want to leave my post: the winds of resistance were blocking a co-production with the USA and I was afraid if I got distracted by a place I loved, I’d lose the game. Our production designer, Attila, reminded me that Egypt had been my inspiration for Pilau. There were many inspirations for Pilau, including music and the profound history between African Americans and whites that blossoms into an unexpected love by the end of the script. But he was right in the main. That I was enamored of Egypt was not a secret I could keep easily. When I finally arrived in Cairo – the plane nearly crash-landed on the runway – it felt like a collision between me, an erratic neophyte, and the souls of giants; a collision that must have seemed all too trivial to the ‘face of eternity’ that has presided for millennia over the Gizeh Plateau even as it prays for rain to wash the fossil fuels of the modern era from its face. One subject all the books I was encountering had in common was Egypt. Every road taken eventually, at some point, seemed to swerve right or left, or up or down, until it lead to Egypt. No significant geometric function and no significant religious principle could be mentioned without returning to Egypt – eventually. And one road included an in-depth knowledge of the golden section! Suddenly it was my turn for a first visit. A prescient 3 year old had screamed through the entire flight from Vienna to Cairo until our collective nervous system was about to short-circuit. Nobody could console her. Wails of psychic despair that seemed to ignore her age! When the plane finally came to a stop everybody applauded – the most ironic collective applause I’ve ever encountered. In any case we were all glad to be in one piece. The child stopped screaming immediately. She sensed something was wrong from the outset. When we came into Cairo the air seemed to drop out from under us. It refused to support the plane. Crash! We hit like a boulder and scraped to a dizzying halt. In the end ‘Seth’ did not have the last say! I recall my first impression of the Nile. I think I expected it to be old. I was surprised to find it bubbling with youth. It quickly washed away the memory of our foul landing.
Egypt at Last
The Nile, the light, the din, the architecture, Gizeh brooding in the west, the bridges racing in bows over the chirping water, and not enough time to drink from the goblet of the ages. I never wanted to be a tourist. Cairo made me reflect. The church within which I was raised only ever seemed to cast suspicion over Egypt, even though Christ had ostensibly fled to Egypt to seek asylum from Herod. In one fell swoop from 1984 to 1985 my whole up-bringing inverted and I no longer trusted the Christian documents. In fact I failed to trust the Christian mentality. I felt Christianity was projecting its own deficiencies onto a way of being that it had lost all connection with. I trusted a basic message that was struggling to shed light through the parables of the Christian bible, but its own latent savagery had blinded it to the living testament called Egypt. I was raised within the Christian Church in Toronto. When Kely and I finally reached Chartres in May, 1988, I did not experience Chartres as a Christian church. Nothing about it was Christian except one sour priest whose comments about a unique stained glass window do not need to be recorded. How hard it is to remain free of cynicism! You have to renew your vows with life daily or cynicism will quickly grow into an army. What could have been a minor irritation turns into a declaration of war. Find the water you love and drink it. Life is short.
Immediately Egypt had an impact. It put every geometrical ‘decision’ in a context that seemed to accomplish nothing less than the grand unification of Above and Below. I just had to figure out how to catch my breath. Egypt quickly became the ultimate school master and I soon felt as the medievals in and around Chartres had felt toward 1100 A.D: ‘as if they were dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants’. Because I was so motivated to discover the geometrical principles that I knew were there, I did not permit myself to shrivel in awe, but instead allowed that ancient portal to pour inspiration into my soul like the deathless nectar of the gods. Nevertheless, it quickly became the yardstick of all my progress. And then I felt humility nibbling at my solar plexus.
I had made progress on the geometry from 1985 to 1987, but admittedly the figures still looked immature and not yet very real. I wasn’t anxious for anybody to see them yet. Art students screeched loudly: “They’re too ideal. They’re not real enough”. Nobody was interested in ‘process’, only the finished, done deal. Fair enough. The process was a trial, but it also exposed me to the wisdom of the ages. I tried not to succumb to my fear – that everything takes too long. People believe only what they see; so the journey proved to be overly solitary. So what! Others have endured worse. All prisons are relative. The reward springs from the heart no matter where it resides.
By the end of January, 1989, I had been to India and back. It provided the opportunity to experience the difference between Chartres and the Taj Mahal. The conditions under which I saw the Taj were almost perfect, but the story is too long to tell here. What impressed me the most was its jewel-like perfection under a January full moon. It was a true mausoleum. It was a tomb intended to immerse the body of the beloved princess in a well of eternity. Everything about the Taj is smooth and beautiful. It is our eternal romance with perfection.
Chartres is different. It is not a mausoleum. No one has ever been interred in the mound that Chartres rests on, no matter how important they were: no Bishops, no Canons, no educators; no Popes; no saints, not even Saint Bernard of Clairveaux. Chartres is not rigid. It is not perfect. Its geometric grandeur never forfeits its graciousness – one of the eternal qualities it shares with the elusive Eye of Horus. But Chartres is also venerable. It shifts and breathes with the ages. You can feel its heartbeat. It is not still. Chartres is the love of the ages, of God and man’s extraordinary worthiness. If you are a sincere atheist, Chartres is a great place to visit because it pays no attention to atheism: it is non-denominational. It doesn’t care what’s in your heart. It simply does its work. It embraces and exalts the spirit of atheist and ‘believer’ alike, sans jugement. Chartres is for everyone. The Taj captures a man’s love for a single woman and freezes it like a diamond set in the emerald green of an eternal spring.
I managed a few photos at Chartres, as my heart was filled up by its healing balm, but I took no measures. I have severely cropped this photo of the West Front for detail.
This is the West Front flanked by the two towers. The one on the left soars to about 111.8 meters high originally. The older one on the right goes to nearly 103 meters. The image below has a special beauty. This might be my favorite group of figures there. I am amazed how it relaxes my heart. It perfectly complements Chartres’ natural austerity. At that moment I was lucky with the spring light.
I did not personally verify the measures that had changed my way of looking at European history, as it would have involved begging the establishment to move the entire altar arrangement out of the transepts. The labyrinth was buried under chairs and the Royal Portal was fenced off as you can see above. No matter. My job was to experience it directly as a pilgrim. Any other consideration would have to wait. Petty gripes were out of the question. Chartres expels pettiness the way ‘asymptotic freedom’ seems to expel ‘gluons’ from the heart of matter.
In Egypt I felt something extra, if not superior to Chartres – nothing is superior to Chartres! In Egypt the eternal attempts to stop the restlessness of fools the way the paw of a lion might stop a mouse from running hither and thither through the desert. To avoid being mauled, the fool must submit to the greater whole, one of the principles behind the Egyptian ‘offering’. At Chartres the fool stops himself from within.
I had a collection of ideas, images and constructions in my head – still ill-fitting like Dürer’s Melencolia. But in Egypt these ideas had been molded into gigantic works of stone expressed with an apparent absence of doubt. The scale was cosmic and threw my mind wide open as if it were a window filled with purpose.
Even when confined to a smaller image like the one above, the principle is cosmic. Note the left hand is making the offering on the right wrist! The hands have been ‘crossed’ to represent decussation, but also union of left and right. The bowl is the same size as the skullcap removed. I have placed the skullcap over the offering to demonstrate its scale. It is actually not there. The proportional harmonics in this illustration are incredible. I did this one with the Uraeus on the brow taken as Unity (1). The whole head is then 2.618 or the golden number squared. The base of the serpent exactly divides the whole head by the golden section! The height of the offering is itself 1.618, which is the measure from the base of the jaw to the base of the serpent. It rests in a bowl that is simply the skullcap inverted and is also 1/4th the head. If the two were fitted back together you would have a whole oblate sphere and it would be .6545 + .6545 = 1.309. 1.309 divides the head in half.
When running against time to capture this picture, the past did not seem distant. It seemed to be now. Death felt negligible, like the dried out husk of an ear of corn or the desiccated cocoon of a butterfly that had long ago taken to the dazzling sky. Egypt put the quest for the geometry into a whole new light – as Chartres had begun to do. I realized it must account for man’s spiritual potential and that man could not be judged by any given moment in history alone which is why the Egyptians kept records! A testament is needed to safeguard our highest potential so we do not make the mistake of judging ourselves in an incomplete manner. The ‘philosophy’ and the religious activity in Egypt awakened the geometry I was working with, penetrated it and motivated me to work more effectively.
Face-to-face with Ra-Horachty
The screening of The Navigator had resembled a Rembrandt painting – I had never seen it projected so warmly – not even at the Cannes Film Festival (1988) which was warm enough. In Cairo I was its sole representative – a Canadian actor living in New York, representing a New Zealand/Australian co-production about mid-fourteenth century Europe! I couldn’t have been happier, even if I was not a recognizable commodity which can hurt in contemporary society. Eight rows behind me I was immediately struck by a pair of eyes so wide, so commiserating and passionate, I thought I had landed in the pages of an ancient Arabic manuscript and was about to meet my guide to the ‘wonders’. The eyes belonged to Omar Sharif and it was my luck that he would be watching the Navigator on the same day that I was to finally come face-to-face with the Great Sphinx, also endowed with eyes that under certain light conditions appear so wide they feel like gates between worlds as they fix their gaze on the horizon ‘where the gods are born.’ I wanted to tell Sharif that I had been a fan of his since Lawrence of Arabia, but in my agitation to rush to a waiting bus I did not wish to violate his amazing personal dignity. But it’s true. I cannot imagine that era of movies without Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago and Funny Girl.
It cannot just be the dust that widens the eyes in Egypt. The eyes of the Sphinx were carved. What is it then? What makes them so open? Notice the distinct flattening of the crown of the head as if it had been excised intentionally. The face is very long from the eyes to the base of the jaw. I will discus the excision of the crown in more detail gradually. It is quite informative. We see another example of an excised crown at the Cathedral of Reims where Saint Remy holds his own excised crown in his hand as if it were an offering just like the image from Luxor above! The cerebral cortex represents a certain type of dualistic understanding. It also deals with motor/sensory activity. Excising the upper part might indicate a dedication to inner unity: the realm that unites with the divine. It indicates a heart tuned into the eternal, Amenti, not the world of the quarrel, where opposition thrives and anger drives the aggression of movement.
In Ancient Egypt, Horus was written “Hr”, which translates into “face”, the mystery of mysteries. The whole massive Sphinx with its Nemes Headdress, long paws and even longer hind parts is gathered up into its face. This is “Hr”, Horus revealed in the face of man descended through a sacred lineage all the way from Atum’s mysterious autogenesis. With magic and constraint, evolution transforms that face through everlasting adaptation. It gazes east where every spring equinox the Sun will rise in a fresh part of the sky heralding another shift; another click of the clock by some 50.3 seconds of arc; 1° in ~72 years. Behind the Uraeus, under the skull of the Sphinx the clock ticks silently, relentlessly, century after century, releasing its perfume through the sublimity of the face as watchful as a jackal; driven by the dipole serpent current that powers the universe.
Once I had been to Chartres I left convinced that Christ had much in common with both Osiris and Horus; that Saint Anne had much in common with Nut; and that Mary had much in common with both Isis and Hathor. The refusal by most of us to allow the depth of this parallel acts, in my view, like a stumbling block. It’s like a pair of sunglasses too dark to read any shadows and yet are never taken off. They fail to reveal the depth and the universal way that light and shadow play upon the planet as a universal dance shared by all living creatures. I decided to open myself to the strange world of Egyptian symbols because they seemed fresh, pure, innocent, alert and oddly indefatigable. They were never precious. Each image was telling a story committed to very fine stone carvings and carefully planned tableaux. Geometry frequently supplied an image with its more spiritual significance in the order of an ‘initiatory stimulus’. Chartres too acted as an initiatory stimulus. Once you have been immersed in its spiritual water, you are never the same again. It is the heart of hearts.
In this image from Queen Nefertari’s tomb, note how carefully the head of Ra-Harakhti (which I have re-colored to repair damage) has followed the pattern of the ‘Merlin Falcon’ on the right. Recall how important falcons were in the Court of King Arthur and his Round Table. Horus was usually depicted as having the head of a falcon on a human body. This emphasizes the “Eye”, especially the “Eye of Horus”, the spiritual quest of the ancients. It is not merely visual acuity that is being emphasized, but the real emphasis was on spiritual acuity. In the Book of the Dead the main subject, Ani, once declares: “I was the most precise man on earth.” When you see the Pharaoh in a chariot firing arrows through a copper brick, it is a symbol that is to be read. His spiritual aim is to be able to pierce all material appearances. His spirit is the arrow. His heart is the bow. His eye is his aim. It has to be sharp enough not to be tempted and trapped by the world of appearances. Attachment engenders the fear of death, which ironically breeds spiritual and psychological paralysis.
The Eyes of Ra
Like many ancient peoples, the Egyptians associated the eyes with Sun and Moon. Sun and Moon appear in every mythology as foundational elements. Their formative role in aspects of the human psyche will eventually overlap a more comprehensive science than that invented in the 17th Century. The Third Eye was thought to be located a little above and behind the eyes where, as the Egyptians put it, the ‘Eye took root’. Sun and Moon were called the “Eyes of Ra”. The right eye was the Sun and the left eye was the Moon. Horus was associated in some instances with the Right Eye while Seth, his eternal rival, was associated with the left. When we see the two crowns, Red and White united, we are seeing the union of Sun and Moon, Horus and Seth. But the crowns also united North and South, the Cobra of Uatchet with the Vulture of Mut.
These domains extended outward to include the Northern Heavens with its Imperishable stars and the Southern Heavens with its more ‘transitory’ constellations that went through an annual cycle of appearance and disappearance as the Sun passed through the 12 phases of the year.
The union of red and white implies a special significance to the New Moon in which the powers of the two “Lights” unite and open a spiritual portal in those who have been prepared. Another New Moon ceremony famous in ancient Egypt was between Horus and Hathor (House of Horus) also known as The Blue Goddess because of her association with both love and healing in which a specific blue hue has always played a significant role, not unlike the blue cloak of Mary, or the azur blue worn by Cundrie, the Sorceress in Parzival. When Parzival enters Castle Mundsalvaesche for the first time he is given a blue robe to replace his armor. We find out later it belongs to Repanse de Schoye, the radiantly beautiful woman whose destiny it is to carry the “Grail” in the Grail Procession. The blue heralds the mystical marriage to come. It is both love and conversion. It announces the conversion from Seth to Horus; from selfishness to compassion. Love unites; despair separates and forsakes. In Egypt, a statue of Hathor was taken in procession from Dendera down the Nile to unite at New Moon in the sanctuary at Edfu, the temple dedicated to Horus. These temples were quite important to the Greeks incidentally (from, say, 300 – 60 B.C.). I’ll repeat, this blue that also turned up in the stained glass windows at Chartres often heralds and facilitates the mystical reunion of Hathor and Horus; Isis and Osiris, Vishnu and Lakshmi, Mary and Christ. This can occur at a deeply archetypal level of the human psyche, one expression of which can be numinous dreams or visions and even deeper initiation events known to Tibetan, Chinese, Yaquis, Druid, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Hebrew and Egyptian alike. In numinous events, the secret of this healing blue is that it is not reflected light such as in a painting. It is a radiant light that is experienced directly from within. Its radiant frequency has the power to transform, often accompanied by words. In an ancient Sumerian myth called the Churning of the Sea of Milk that later migrated to India and Cambodia, Vishnu is called Blue Throat because he takes the black nigredo – poisonous and paralyzing – and holds it in his throat through the power of yoga, until it turns blue. This announces the arrival of the nectar of the gods, a goblet overflowing with the golden amrita that renews gods and man alike.
The notion of a conjunction of Sun and Moon at New Moon is compelling in view of the fact that from the Earth’s surface the two “eyes” appear to have the same angular diameter, as if both were in some way acting as cosmic lenses, focusing everything from light, to gravity, to that nameless essence that comes from the horizon that the Egyptians chose to liken to the ‘perfume of the Eye of Horus’ – said to “vivify the face”. It is as if its focal point were the Earth’s surface itself where the powers of the Two Eyes undergo decussation – eventually reflected in the activity of the hands. For the Egyptians, the horizon that had no name was Atum, Amun, Amen, Amen-Re. This nameless spirit was both focused and reflected in the human face with its 7 orifices. It was also the animating principle, the source of which was Amun or Atum himself. In the fascinating treasure called The Emerald Tablet, the Sun is called the “Father” of the whole work, while the Moon is the Mother. In this sense, the two eyes recapitulated at the Earth’s surface in the head, act as the parents of the ‘Eye that takes root’. The notion of a recapitulation of the large in the small is probably the inner mechanism by which the As Above, So Below philosophy operates. It may also act as a link between As Above, So Below and modern theories about evolution and systems theories, where living things evolve or develop through recapitulation and adaptation at specific thresholds which lead to transformations and bifurcations. I believe, as I think Schwaller de Lubicz was intimating, that the Egyptians were very sensitive to the principle of a leap, a sudden metamorphosis at bifurcation points. This is pictured in the Uas Scepter held by Ra-Horachty in the earlier image. The Uas bifurcates at the top.
In Egypt the principle of Horus must be distinguished from the essence of man. They are not identical. The essence of man transcends Horus himself and reunites with Atum.
Horus is a means to that end. The Great Sphinx has a human face, not the face of a falcon. I was forced to learn early on that the Egyptians were specific. It was up to me to arrive at an interpretation of any symbol that I could not grasp. Needless to say, the research required for such a facility was daunting which is why I have invoked Egypt here. A detour is necessary as I often reached points of contemplation with the geometry and would spend months studying related material to bring the geometry to life and maximize its potential. Egypt set a more explicit standard than anywhere else that forced me to consider the relationship between the geometry of our construction and the nature of the soul. It also insisted that I see man not as a separate entity in mortal combat with Nature, but rather as an entity that was part of a vital fabric bound together in a meaningful way by the geometry itself. Chartres made me feel this fabric, the way the heart feels. Egypt also made me think about it. It made me want to learn. It made me want to understand deeply for the first time in my life. The I Ching or Book of Changes has had a similar effect.
The head of Horus bears a striking resemblance to Ra-Horachty, also known as Horus-of-the-Horizon. Ra-Horachty was at one time associated with the Sphinx who, as stated, faces east where Sun, Moon and stars all rise due to the Earth’s rotation. Life is reborn from the east through the ‘gods’. The assumption is that the Earth’s tilt and rotation rate is not just a meaningless accident.
In this sense the Sphinx was a cosmic clock, as already suggested, marking the passage of time and especially the great “precession of the equinoxes” that move backward 1 degree against the constellations every 72 years. It takes about 2,148 years to get through one sign of the Zodiac. The Sun was believed to assume or focus the qualities of each of the twelve signs as it moves through each 2,148 year cycle. What is eternal in Ra-Horachty (Sphinx?) must creatively alchemize what is transitory, yet real, as it penetrates the Earth from an infinite horizon. The serpent, so prominent in Egypt, represents cosmic time but also the transformation of energy associated with that time. The serpent represents the complete cycle of creation, destruction and regeneration. In man, this power manifests in the spinal column – the great support staff of our physical and spiritual existence. Note the morphological similarity between the human spine and a desert snake in the images below. The human spine can stand erect, which might be one reason the Egyptians admired the Cobra, that also can ‘stand up’, sway and even fight.
When the spine assumes an upright position it is symbolized by the Djed Column and the obelisk. Bas-reliefs show ceremonies in which the King can be seen raising the Djed Column from an angled position to an upright position, echoed in the all-important ‘raising’ ceremonies of the Freemasons, but also in Parzival. Posture was of the utmost importance to the ancient Egyptians as it was the means by which Horus was liberated from what is below back to what is above. “Heru” can be translated as “He who is above”. Put together you have ‘spiritual face’, which completes the link between above and below; the ‘mirror that begets radiance’ – that which is uplifted.
Look at the relationship between the posture of the figure to the right and the obelisk in front of him. The power in his spine has been raised. Recall that Moses was also said to have raised up the serpent in the wilderness. This wilderness is the raw power of Seth before it is raised and tamed. When we first meet Parzival in Eschenbach’s famous book he is so wild he is downright dangerous. It takes a long time to convert the “Red Dragon” into a more refined being capable of assuming the throne. This is an analogy to our Sun. Its energy is raw, wild, dangerous. It must be caught and refined. In the eye, light must get through ten layers of the retina before it is admitted as energy into our Central Nervous System. The first reaction we have to the Sun’s raw power is ‘inhibition’. Sound, by contrast, is direct; direct stimulation. Light has to be gathered into darkness where it can do work; grow; differentiate; relate parts within a whole where photons share a common dance floor among many functions. This is the “dark reaction” in photosynthesis.
New Zealand Offers a Clue
The visit to New Zealand schooled me in an important way. It insisted that I interpret most great Egyptian symbols in two ways simultaneously: for the physical being here on Earth and for the soul being prepared for existence beyond the physical boundary. The mirror that begets radiance is not only a reference to man’s spiritual being. It is also how the Egyptians believed we were supposed to treat the natural endowment provided by Earth here below.
I visited a lake in the Urewera National Forest of New Zealand with a close friend named Fred Engel. The Lake was called Lake Rahui, which translates from the Maori into ‘where the sun gathers’. In Egypt, Ra was associated in part with ‘Sun’. Lake Rahui can only be reached by boat on another lake called Lake Waikareiti. Fred and I were so struck by Lake Rahui nestled in the midst of this tiny island that we could scarcely talk and had no desire ever to leave. What was gathered there was not just light and warmth, but also a radiance that filled the lungs with life and the nose with the primal smell of the first scission of male and female and the ears with the first scission of sound as if setting the creation in motion for the first time. This ‘Rahui’ was a revelation where the five senses were at one with the essence of a shared consciousness that humbled us both in the same space. The resolution of this particular part of the Earth was sublime. It was superior to anything I had encountered up to that point in time (October, 1987).
Had it not been for New Zealand and Fred’s sensitivity to its special qualities – where I first began to feel Egypt for what it was – I would have forgotten what pristine Earthly energy can in fact be like. We get too used to cities. The air has been altered world-wide. We can no longer imagine what the atmosphere may have been like in ancient Egypt long before the present inundation by man-made chemicals. We can barely imagine the smell of the alluvial deposits brought down the Nile in July; the smell of the green that sprang from the black earth by August; the clarity of the heavens at night where Sirius A must have displayed itself with startling beauty. What now seems so disconnected to us must have appeared interconnected to the Egyptians as if all embedded in a single, magical fabric rippling throughout the whole of creation. The Pyramids and Temples did not merely adorn that fabric, they enhanced it; they upheld it; they perfected it. They acted as nodes of resolution carefully designed to enhance man’s spiritual substance.
Between 1985 and 1989 the cornucopia of clues had only widened. The ‘Grail’, though cyclic, was infinite in its quantized dispensations of nourishment. It is hard to be superhuman, but also hard to shun the knowledge that radiates from the Grail Cup as if funneling the light of millions of years. The thirst to know cannot be easily quenched. The idea is to pin the infinity of details on a family of universals so that the heart can rest in what is essential; otherwise the soul drowns in particulars and the quest is aborted.
The image of Ra Horachty shown ahead, is so complex and so filled with meaningful mathematical symbols that I cannot do it justice here. However, it offers an example of what I encountered at each bend in the road, each path. When the Egyptians chose the proportions 1.618 and 1.236 to frame this image, it was for a reason. I had to presume that the content would reflect the frame and that the frame was not accidental, nor merely ornamental, nor simply abstract. What is important to stress however, is that the proportions motivated me to understand the content which in turn motivated me to search for the same proportions in the geometry of our anatomy and anywhere else I could find it. What’s more I could see that 1.618 x 1.236 did not just entail 2 numbers. Rather it immediately invoked a third: 1.618 ÷ 1.236 = 1.309. And as already seen, this framed the all-important geometrical image of the golden section that grows out from within the 2:1 rectangle shown in the previous post.
4.236 ÷ 3.236 = 1.309 = 1.618 ÷ 1.236. The relationship between the two circles, JF and EM is EM/JF = 1.236 = 12.36068 ÷ 10.
Note in this image of Ra-Horachty on his throne how two Uas Scepters support the vault of heaven. The tops of these scepters which present bifurcations like branches, support the vault that frames the two Eyes which in turn protect the Chen sign with its symbolic buckle and the vase of Nut that has caught the original ‘perfume’ from the Horizon of the Nameless One and transformed it into an eternal spirit. This hardly sums up this really amazing wood stele, but it immediately suggests the scope of the ratio between 1.618 and 1.236 which are close cousins within the 2:1 paradigm.
Immediately in this image of the female, below, we see 1.309 in two places. It frames the rectangle ABJI or 1 ÷.764 = 1.309, which is the upper portion of the golden section. In a 5 x 10, it would be 5 ÷ 3.82. But we also see it in the rectangle, MNGH, which here is: 1.618 ÷ 1.236 = 1.309. In a 5×10 it would be 8.09 ÷ 6.18 = 1.309. Note there is an overlap between these two ‘frames’ with a value of NK. NK is 1.618 – 1.236 = .382 and 2/.382 = 5.236, a number we will see associated with the King’s Chamber in meters. 1/.382 is 2.618 which is the golden number squared. In the anatomy, it is the navel to the top of the heart or the Aortic Arch. This region stresses the separation between assimilation and elimination. It transmutes raw material and refines it. It then distributes it. The arms, throat and head are above it, while the entire pelvis is below it. Note that EFKL is a golden rectangle with a surface that is 1/3.236 smaller than EFGH. Meanwhile LKGH is a square that here is 1.236 x 1.236 = 1.528. All these numbers are a tight-knit family weaving a single fabric. But it is impossible to chase down even this small family without using too many pages. I am, therefore, keeping it restricted.
Now that we have seen where 1.309 plays in this basic paradigm – both in the prime 2:1 and the golden rectangle – we can look at the Egyptian image of Ra-Horachty. Firstly, notice the two eyes protecting the “Chen” sign. I will show a special feature of the Chen sign just ahead. The Chen brings eternity into a relationship with one’s own name or destiny. It contains the essence. Note that it occupies the position between the brows – associated with the Third Eye, or Eye of Horus. What has been awakened is for eternity. Under the Chen is a symbol of the primordial waters of the Nun but also the perfume of the Eye of Horus that comes from the horizon. It is caught in a vase where it is transmuted back into the Eye itself. At ‘death’ the vase is broken and the Eye is released.
Catching something nameless in a vase and transmuting it, evokes the Grail which we will see more of ahead. Spiritual initiations – including natural or spontaneous ones – are often prefigured by a puncture of some kind that simulates the breaking of the vase. There can be the appearance of the color red such as with roses, an urn or vase that breaks and a puncture to some part of the anatomy, like the feet. This often occurs by being knocked over onto one’s back. The red likely refers to iron or iron in the blood. The puncture announces an introduction to a wider frame of reference penetrated by the iron-supported magnetic field. The Uas Scepter was made of ‘bja’, iron. Like the Australian Aborigines, the Egyptians were very sensitive to the Earth’s main dipole magnetic field. To associate the Benben Stone with iron was to associate it with the capacity for iron to support a magnetic field. Temples, crypts, dolmens, menhirs, were designed to capture and concentrate the magnetic field as well as accompanying electrostatic energy that made the cavern, crypt or dolmen pregnant with the serpent current (telluric?) that would in turn induce it to open the serpent-in-the-spine.
So presumably 1.618 x 1.236 encompasses the entire process from genesis to return – but after having been perfected in the vase – which when transmuted becomes the coveted Eye of Horus. It is the transmutation of opposites, the ‘quarrel’, into something sublime and eternal. This might well be the work of 1.618 x 1.236. It represents the qualitative regulation of everything that happens after the first division or scission of 1 into 2. In a sense, then, 1.236 and 1.618 are the qualitative limits and transforming functions of that vase. They are the vase itself, whatever form it might take. The feeling I had was that these ‘ratios’ were self-regulating. They were working from within, the result being a self-enclosure endowed with intelligence, light, an ability to perceive, imagine and respond. How nice! It’s better than being a dim wave-pattern locked in the abyss! In Western mysticism, as many likely already know, ‘Mary’ has been referred to as a ‘spiritual vase’.
Now note the harp. It is the symbol of harmony and creative order. It has 9 strings. In Egypt this refers to the Great Ennead of 9 governing Neters as they were called. The Great Ennead was depicted in different ways. It was referred to as the Nine Bows in the stele that sits between the paws of the Sphinx as well as in Line 1656 of the Pyramid Texts (Faulkner). This line participates in a prayer (Utterance 600) for the Osiris King and his pyramid seeking protection from the Great Ennead and its 9 powers or potencies.
The 9 bows, like the harp strings, are under a specific tension producing specific frequencies capable of action (kinetic, resonance, etc.). The Great Ennead was the 9 powers of Atum sometimes depicted as 9 Horses drawing chariots with Horus holding a bow firing arrows. Sometimes the Ennead was 9 Monarchs or even 9 Bulls that, like Seth, had to be controlled or sacrificed for the sake of his brother, Horus. Notice that there are 10, not 9, ‘tuning keys’ acting as the ‘spine’ of the head atop the harp. The nerves that run from the spine control all our organs and even innervate the heart. They ‘tune’ our organs which include our passions and appetites!
Harmony helps control and resolve the diverse functions, passions and desires. Yoga and specific breathing techniques were employed by the Egyptians to ‘tune’ the Nine Bows so that the organs – especially the heart – would not obstruct the flow of energy up the spine into the head where the Eye of Horus is reconstituted.
Horus was not a member of the Great Ennead. He was the 10th, born from the spiritual union of Osiris and Isis, a birth so mysterious it has spawned more misunderstanding than any other aspect of the ancient world except for the Pyramids and the Great Sphinx both of which pertain to the same mystery. The pyramid was the place of the mystical marriage between Osiris and Isis (Mistress of the Pyramid), from which Horus was born. Horus and his sacred eye, the Eye of Horus and its purified, eternal perfume – now clasped within the knot of eternity (the Chen seen above) was the goal of the Egyptian “way” and embodied what today we call ‘resurrection’. The Nine Bows or potencies refer to division within unity but were part and parcel of Atum. The Horus-King, identified with Ra-Horachty, had to master the Nine Bows if he was to become an eternal spirit (symbolized by the Chen). This serves to underscore the importance acuity held for the Egyptians. A simple play between 10 and 9 demonstrates the ultimate principle of Egypt. Today we read books. We travel. We attend classes. In Egypt they read the temple walls. They were not so much guarding a secret as they were an energy that they expected would undergo the coveted metamorphosis if they proceeded correctly.
It is worth noting right away that the ceiling of the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid consists of 9 granite stones weighing up to fifty tons each, some of them 29 feet long! This suggests that the King’s Chamber was in some way connected to the final metamorphosis from the Ennead to the 10th, Horus himself. The Great Ennead may in some way be reflected in the Pituitary Body with its 9 hormones that activate the entire endocrine system. Precursor proteins generated by the hypothalamus in a sense act as the bows that fire the hormones which act as arrows, activators that circulate through the blood to reach local targets.
The fact that Horus corresponds to the 10th has greatly enhanced my feeling for the decimal system. I began to use the metric system in New Zealand and have used it ever since. I will discuss the meter in greater detail as we proceed. It is a surprising measure and has a surprising antiquity. Once it is clear how it was derived its antiquity becomes much more plausible. Once you have spent enough time analyzing the Great Pyramid and its geometrical character, the meter emerges as not just another measure, nor as something arbitrary, but as a principle with an unprecedented directness and clarity. But I have found this clarity to extend far beyond the boundaries of Egypt alone. It also helps clarify Chartres and many aspects of the celestial environment that holds us up. Currently, it is of interest to note that the mean height of a woman in North America today is exactly 1.618 meters or 63.7 inches or 5 feet 3.7 inches. The average male is taller: 1.74 – 1.76. Canadian women are a little shorter than Americans and Brits who average around 1.62 meters. Canadians are around 1.611 meters. Together they oscillate around the golden number in meters!
There is a great deal more to point out in this remarkable wood stele – this little symbolic bible of measure and symbol. It will take too long. All to say, each string of the harp measures a part of the image, from throne to serpent-wrapped disc, to Ra-Horachty himself. Even the papyrus bloom has significance since it vivifies the face of Ra having emerged from the activity of the Great Ennead of strings and the gift of the river Nile itself. No wonder Plato believed the universe was a measurable harmony. He inherited this knowledge from the Egyptians. And little wonder that, in turn, the School of Chartres studied the daylights out of the Timaeus – a book Plato dedicated to the Egyptian Goddess, Neith, from the Delta. Neith became the Greek Athena to whom the Parthenon was dedicated.
The Chen and the Trachea
One more detail before moving on. Below I have drawn out a remarkable parallel between an Egyptian symbol and an important anatomical feature. I believe it was at some point in 2006 when I was looking at the point where the trachea diverges into the bronchial tubes. I was examining the role of the vagus nerve in coordinating heart function, breathing, hearing and the motor abilities of the larynx. It was then that I realized the Egyptians appear to have modeled the symbol of the Chen on a cross section of the trachea just above the bronchi. I will have to discuss the Egyptian practice of yoga later, but I find it so utterly marvelous that the sign for eternity, the sign that encloses one’s essence – what in the Pyramid Texts is called the essence of all the neters – which invites the 10th , Horus himself, the extra tuning key that keeps all the others in order or which all the others serve and look up to – should be modeled on every breath that we take in the middle of the thorax!
The thorax was the container of what the Egyptians called the “hatys” – organs of life: heart and lungs. The Chen is knotted by every breath we take and every beat performed by the heart. They weave their influences together. What geometrical formulas would account for the beauty and function of the human thorax and what proportional relationships would such a geometry have with the rest of the body? I will get to that just ahead, but wanted to show how the ancients appear to have borrowed from very sophisticated parts of our anatomy to formulate enduring symbols worthy of their names. In the Pyramid Texts it is said that the King is the essence of Horus (PT 1609). Not having a name for this divine essence in Utterance 215, it is referred to with a humorous flourish as: “O So-and-so”. But what is clear is that before Christianity, the notion of a divine essence in humanity was a universal notion. The question was simply to what extent it was able to be cultivated.
Atum becomes the Nine Neters, the Great Ennead, mysteriously reflected in the subtle secretions of the Pituitary that is informed by the hypothalamus a little above and behind the eyes! What is gestated is Horus, “Beautiful of Face”, the perfume of the Eye of Horus upon him. As Horus, the accomplished one returns to the source of everything, as the exaltation of Atum, the purpose and ever present potential of earthly life, provided man can find stability, life, balance, health. What geometry could I expect to find reflected in our anatomy that would support and foster such a goal? I reminded myself that the Egyptians were as human as we are and with that in mind I felt certain it was all there – right under my nose. It was a question of keeping the mind well house-cleaned. And yet right away – even in 1985 – I already had a good idea how it started. Acceptance is half the battle. That’s the key to those faces – those hearts – at Chartres. The sculptors had been trained as a school. The school was an extension of the monastery. They were taught the true secret of meekness. Only the meek can accept the simplicity of the cornucopia that starts when 1 becomes 2.
The Great Sphinx; Great Measure
When the screening of the Navigator was over I was whisked like a speck of agitated dust into a bus filled with half-drunken Americans. I often find it difficult looking at myself on screen, but the appearance of Gizeh beyond the cacophony of Cairo quickly spilled all such preoccupations. All the Americans wanted to do was climb the Pyramid as if it were a snow-capped mountain. I have long been struck by the difference between the two endeavors. Between Cannes and Chartres Kely and I passed this formidable challenge.
The heart longs to make the trek into that cataclysm of power. The pyramids were never meant to be scaled. They are edifices where a very different type of power dwells.
These are two images of the very photogenic Middle Pyramid (of Chephren) now mostly stripped of its once mirror-smooth surface stones polished like glass. Nothing on Earth lasts forever – except the essence of the thing.
They were meant to be entered in a precise manner which involved time itself.
One seeks their power in the ‘thick darkness’ of an acute silence, not in the dazzling light where the eagle flies. For that you climb a mountain offered by Nature.
Above is the sole chamber found at the base of the middle pyramid that sits behind the Sphinx. I was able to settle in this room with a highly sensitive female guide assigned to me by the Festival. Every sound resonated with acute immediacy. It had a pitch that seemed to penetrate straight to the core. I felt exposed. And then we were bombarded by tourists who sounded like they were headed for a hockey game. I was surprised at the way the guide managed to quiet them down. However, the spell was gone. Outside she surprised me further. I will not quote her language. For anyone familiar with the goddess Sekhmet, however, you will be able to imagine her words. She was enraged by their invasion of our quiet but intense consideration of the relationships among all the pyramids and the possibility that they were not conventional tombs but were concerned with the process of death in another way. I had no idea she would be so open to non-conventional appraisals of Egypt’s national treasures. But her entire generation seemed open and enthusiastic about fresh insights into persistent mysteries. Sometimes the battering ram called ‘democracy’ puts patience itself on trial. No one swears by democracy more than I do. But I confess that at times I wish I could reverse the clock. When I tried to enter the Grand Gallery of the Great Pyramid I was overwhelmed by a tsunami of noise so powerful, I was turned back. I never got back to the Great Pyramid after that. But I am happy to know that I have unfinished business that I cannot wait to complete.
Without judgment, Wagui studied my apprehensive struggle with time and with the future. Love is powerful, but without means it can wither prematurely into its own shell and blow away. He knew I needed to spend at least a year in Egypt. My work on the geometry felt green. I yearned to see it ripen. When we got to the Plateau I delayed even glancing at the Sphinx until we had finished soaking up the pyramids which took hours. Gizeh seems to be more about being than the chatter of the cerebral cortex. We often stopped and mused: the contrast between the wind stirring the sand in long ribbons and the cacophony of New York was profound. We let time stand still. But I could not say why I refused to even glance at the Sphinx. I believe I knew that once I had seen it, I would not wish to distract myself with anything else, not even with the pyramids themselves. Nor would I want to leave Egypt to return to my non-stop struggle in New York. But perhaps I was simply delaying meeting up with my own emotions, emotions that knew the ‘Beloved’ long before the mind had ever entertained such love: not merely the plateau rock carved with such mystery, but rather the endeavor, the process that the Sphinx represented. Chartres was the same. It is the endeavor of the Earth. It is not merely a matter of human will.
The brain knows so little, trapped as it is by its own reflections, but when you leave it be sometimes, it is an immense surprise. We walked down from the Middle Pyramid and finally I said to Wagui: “Now. I am going to look now.” And so I looked.
I nearly jumped out of my skin. I could not in any way, shape or form account for my emotions. They were numinous in the wide open air. The immediate force of the Sphinx stirred me to new life. It was simply magnificent. One thing I learned: a neophyte may be a fool. But he is innocent. And innocence always has the capacity to love. But this was a love I had never known before. Only three other places have ever fostered similar emotion: New Zealand, the Cathedral of Chartres and as incongruous as it may seem, Manhattan – but all in a different way. And I think I realized something at this time. A pilgrim takes to the road by instinct. It is not thought. It is felt. It is a calling. If he thought about it much he wouldn’t do it. He seeks out, or is perhaps summonsed to, beneficent sites – places where heaven and earth have united with a special harmony – by the “irrational”, in order to refill his heart with spirit. Perhaps I was born with a deficiency, a fundamental fallibility that needed strengthening. I think I will never know. But I had to abandon the ‘path of the bottom line’ – and walk barefoot in search of a new bottom line until I could say: “I have shed what was crippling me”.
Except for the genesis of life forms there is no greater mystery on Earth than this Sphinx. It is not merely its historicity or even the controversy over its age. It is not its magnitude or even the ‘why’ of its creation by human beings, a ‘why’ that cannot be answered in rational terms. Its mystery seems to be rooted in the site itself, a site that has been renovated many times. The mystery of the Sphinx is the mystery of a sacred geography that all too often goes unnoticed in the frantic struggle for survival. And yet, there is the strongest feeling that it is this sacred geography that makes us what we are. It is endowed with formative powers, the capacity to focus potential energy into living structure. But this power is too subtle to see. The clash of appearances, the contention between the opposites – Horus and Seth in ancient Egypt – obscures and even obliterates these sacred powers. For this reason, in cycles, man and his civilizations must undergo stupendous acts of regeneration, in order to restore the legacy and the testament of our innate divinity. Any geometry I hoped to find would have to express and accommodate this legacy. Some geometry, especially in an age when – at least subconsciously – the mathematics of the Uncertainty Relation nags at us in a profound way, relentlessly eroding our faith in the capacity to measure life simply, while yet keeping us open to continuous realms of possibility.
Before the guards could finally haul us off the site, I managed to catch the photograph above that reminded me of the same tones we had seen earlier in the theater in Cairo. On that day in December, 1989, the theme was cosmic warmth. It was a reminder that the Sphinx is most likely an invocation of the great sign Leo, the symbol for which is the lion, ruler of the heart. The human head suggests that the Sphinx is by no means solely the guardian of the dead, but is also the herald and the secret of our genesis and our cosmic regeneration. When head and heart are united, well, what can you say? A light is born.
66 Feet: A Mysterious Measure
The Sphinx faces due east where the sun will rise at the equinox. It was probably designed to sit 66 feet tall and is about 240 feet ( ~73.2 meters) long. That is exactly ½ the height of the Great Pyramid that after years of research has been proven to be a scale model of the Earth set at 1:43,200. So from the Equator the Sphinx measures the distance to its own latitude! 66 feet is well known in Europe. It became the “English Chain” and is the basis of the acre. 10 square English Chains comprise the surface of 1 acre (43,560 sq. feet). A shadow cast by a 66 foot height at noon (“Hour of Ra”) on the Equinox has special significance at the exact latitude of the Sphinx.
It appears that the head of the Sphinx is at about 29° N 58′ 30.2”. This implies at the Equinox that a shadow would be cast at an angle that is very nearly 60 degrees (~ 60.025) or the angle of an equilateral triangle.
The shadow length would be something like 11.598 meters (if the 66 feet were British feet), which when doubled would give a square with 23.196 meters on a side. When we get to Charpentier’s exposé on Chartres we will come upon this figure again, a figure that seems to set the scale of the cathedral! At Chartres it is 23.193 meters which is 1/10th the measure between ‘socket stones’ at the base of the Great Pyramid.
It was soon after visiting Gizeh that I came across a reference to the Sphinx in Peter Tompkins’ astonishing book on the Great Pyramid. Tompkins suggested that the Sphinx could have been a geodetic marker indicating the equinox. It also once had an obelisk between its paws. Tompkins further suggested the obelisk could have cast a shadow used to compute not only the correct circumference of the Earth but also the variance in the degree of latitude due to the Earth’s flattening. This interesting shadow was echoed by two 66 foot obelisks in On (Heliopolis) on the other side of the Nile. Those obelisks disappeared “toward 1200 A.D.” according to Sir Wallace Budge. It was exactly at that time that the Holy Land reverted from French hands back to Arabic hands (1187-88) and following the fire of 1194 A.D., the Knights Templar began to rebuild Chartres Cathedral on a whole new scale. I will discuss the final reconstruction of Chartres from 1194 to 1220 in the next couple of posts. It pertains directly to the shadow cast by the Sphinx at Noon on the Equinox at an angle very nearly 60 degrees, the angle of the equilateral triangle sacred to everybody from Plato, to the Egyptians, to the Knights Templar themselves. A great seed can be planted in different parts of a diverse geography and thrive just as well. Chartres is a monumental tribute to Ancient Egyptian knowledge that had been all but lost in the West. But the equilateral triangle is also part and parcel of a very special geometrical figure that we must consider next. We shall return to New Zealand again, back in 1985, so we can se how it contributes to our anatomy.