When I first picked up Louis Charpentier’s book called “The Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral” in June, 1985, I could taste it somewhere deep inside me. It was an indescribable food – not quite esoteric – just an unprecedented inspiration – but I had to wait three more years before it was my turn to experience the beneficence of the place itself. And yet I could taste it as if it were just down the road from our hotel in Auckland. This echoed my feelings about Chartres back in 1971 when Kenneth Clark commented on it in his series called “Civilization”. I confess again: Chartres lives in my heart and the feeling is that it has always been there. Though its presence defies logic and all theories I have ever entertained about knowledge, somehow it is supposed to be there. Chartres is ‘heart-knowledge’ and resists all labels, all categories, all ways by which the mind disarms the living fire only to chain it to some cold part of the brain. The brain need not become a prison. But vigilance is required to keep the fires stoked. Moreover, there is no one on Earth who I can think of – whether friend or enemy – who I do not wish could visit Chartres at least for one day in their lives. Chartres is for everyone. I repeat, in some ineluctable way Chartres is supposed to exist. So every word that Charpentier committed to print seemed to be an affirmation of a knowledge so deep it was as if I had been born with it. And if I was born with it so, too, must the rest of humanity have been born with it. But the secret of this knowledge felt as if it were imprisoned in an infernal darkness. My urge was to descend into my own depths and wrest it from its jailor provided I could overcome the two greatest adversaries: time and fatigue. I lived under a cloak of terror that somehow I would run out of time. I had faith, but not enough to just drift through life without knowing the secret. I was not born illuminated. But I craved it.
I believed humanity had emerged through some sort of pattern; some sort of means. Surely it was just a question of where to look. Like all living things knowledge wants to grow. We are the effects of that growth even when most of its root system remains submerged in the unconscious. Significant knowledge is not merely a matter of connecting the dots or finding a correspondence between an effect and a cause. It is not mere imitation. Significant knowledge enlightens one’s whole being – even if ultimate causes remain unknown. A blind hen will continue to scratch around for a grain of corn. But even a blind hen can be illuminated from within while the corn is eventually felt with a single swipe of its claw. In searching for a geometry that accounts for human form, a form capable of supporting minds that could engineer Chartres, I felt like that blind hen.
In one passage Charpentier recounted an experience he’d had in a Paris suburb in 1964. And in the blink of an eye my entire feeling about the world – how it is constructed – about human culture and even human nature, was changed forever. The change was as significant as the ‘Big Dream’ that occurred out on Long Island in the fall of 1980, alluded to in the earlier posts. As it turns out they are thematically related. Before that dream, which felt more like a template of the real than a dream, I had some knowledge in my head, but it was dim, like seeds that had fallen on barren ground and could not
blossom into the light. I still had no key with which to fertilize the soil. The Big Dream had introduced me to a new kind of knowing: knowing what I am and what has formed me, directly, from within. It was an inner seeing and an inner drama, within which I was both participant and observer. But it too was a seed that was growing only slowly out of a state that could be called ‘the trauma of rebirth’. Much remained hidden. I was learning how to trust that birth and the numinosity it had imparted, in a world that often seemed warped by a labyrinth of projections that fire us away from ourselves – not just psychologically, but also physically. We often search for ‘truth’ as if it were something other than what we are. And to add to the mystery, it took me exactly 12 years to fully recollect the whole dream! A lot of inventive perseverance was required to cajole it from its hiding places. But this implied it was already committed to some form of long-term memory – a bit like the root system of a tree. It was up to me get down there and examine the roots without damaging them. Recollecting the dream was a lot like giving birth. It was a long labor. That labor challenged all my assumptions about everything: including the nature of consciousness itself. Chartres was similar. It erupted into my head and my soul like a magnificent genie escaping its bottle. Breath-taking magic. The Tree of Life.
West Front, with Royal Portal, Chartres. May, 1988.
In recalling that night back in 1964, to my surprise, Charpentier invoked the “grail”. It was as if he had just introduced the prime principle of the book – Chartres’ secret perhaps; its quintessence – and in so doing had introduced the secret of ourselves. I could not have guessed that the mention of the ‘grail’ could have so profound an effect. I had not yet read Wolfram von Eschenbach’s “Parzival”, written alongside the final reconstruction of Chartres from 1195 to 1220, after the devastating fire of 1194 that destroyed everything north of the West Front. Apparently he wrote it right there on the site; his words organizing themselves with such unique color and zeal as if from the ashes of the former cathedral itself. In Parzival the Grail is given an unexpected definition a little more than half-way through the book (p.239). It had never occurred to me to link the ‘grail’ to the Phoenix, the most mysterious of all principles, but that is exactly what Eschenbach does as if an historic necessity had reduced the previous church to ash. Nor did I yet link the grail to the Vesica Piscis because I had not yet stumbled upon it. But that was to come soon enough. It is a Vesica that frames a triumphant Christ at the Royal Portal seen above in the central tympanum. And I certainly never thought to link the Grail to ‘squared-circle’ geometry as was done that night back in 1964 outside Paris.
I knew almost nothing about the Knights Templar, the ‘shadowy’ organization responsible for building Chartres. Perhaps that was a good thing because my innocence blinded me to the controversy that swirled about their place in history; their monumental confidence that others with less zeal labeled ‘audacity’, but without which, the Gothic Cathedrals would never have been built and the human spirit would not have been harnessed to so monumental a task. I had no idea Eschenbach himself may have been a Templar, nor what a Templar was, except that they had even attracted a fashionable scorn from the likes of Robin Hood. Defenders of the human spirit can be misunderstood faster than an arrow that has already left the bow of a defender of the people. Even in the age of chivalry! If justice is in the eye of the archer, his heart had better be blessed with discernment. But apparently misunderstanding did not prevent the Templars from being nourished by a “Stone” they called “Lapis Exillis”, also known as the Grail, a Stone purported to be “most pure”.
Moreover, I had no familiarity with the operas of Richard Wagner and his preoccupation with the Grail, so I didn’t even know what millions of others knew already, because when I was seventeen, I had gone straight from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, James Brown and Jim Morrison to Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). An English teacher in Toronto stuck a set of headphones on my ears and put on Mahler’s Second Symphony – to keep me quiet – and from the opening few bars, that was that. I never looked back to Wagner again. Extraordinary! Not only did I have no idea what the “Grail” meant to the Gothic Age, but I did not have a clue what it meant to anybody. So, when Charpentier drew a parallel between the cathedral itself and the Grail, initially I was astonished. Or was I? I think I was astonished that it rang so true! Suddenly it was a fit. The Templars were also known as “The Order of the Temple”. They were nourished by the temple itself which Vitruvius reminds us was once based upon human proportions.
It was not until 1996 that I came upon a passage from the Pyramid Texts, a passage interesting enough to convince me it was time to obtain a copy of the Faulkner edition that Kely hunted down and finally plopped on my desk in 1999.
“A boon which Geb and Atum grant: that this pyramid and temple be installed for me and for my double, and that this pyramid and temple be enclosed for me and for my double. This Eye of Horus is pure; may it belong (?) to me.” (PT 1277-1278)
The grain of corn was within striking distance of the claw.
I had not come upon “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” (published in 1982) yet, so my mind did not have to grapple with situating the ‘Grail’ in a particular historical place and time; or attempting to narrow its grandeur down to a single bloodline; or a specific vessel claimed to have caught specific blood from a specific death. My imagination remained free to search for something universal in the spirit of any New Age before it starts to reduce itself to this ‘brand name’ or that Dogma, or this system or that superstition. My connection to Charpentier’s book was mystical from start to finish, as was my youthful connection to Mahler’s ‘biblical’ vision in music. In fact, other than the atmosphere that often shrouds the heavens surrounding the mountains, valleys and lakes of New Zealand, the Promethean scope of Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony reminds me more of Chartres than anything else I can think of. Chartres must be a node on the body of the Earth and human knowledge must be much more than what our science allows. A solar system and its planets must have self-focusing properties that elude our theories about life and the birth of cognition. Self-gravity and the way it reacts to what it gathers up must hold many a secret in its embrace. The homely uroboros is a superabundant symbol.
In the image above I am applying an ancient symbol to an important astronomical event. I made the head of the snake that bites its own tail the difference in days and distance between the Sidereal (27.3217 d) and Synodical (29.53066 d) months. The 2.2089 day difference amounts to 29.1° of Moon travel or about 195,269 km around a center of mass it shares with the Earth perhaps 1700 km below the Earth’s surface. In one synodical month the Moon and Earth travel together 29.1° around the Sun or about 76,000,000 km. 195,269 and 76,000,000 relate as 1:389. When days are replaced by years you get a 2.2089 year period in which the former cycle disintegrates. The soul withdraws like a worm into its cocoon. There it potentially undergoes a metamorphosis of some kind; a rebirth. A new 27.32 + 2.2089 year cycle then begins. In my life I have learned that this is a powerful cycle. I was unable to ignore it. It wrapped me up in a cocoon of its own making until I was momentarily paralyzed externally, while internally the contraction caused an accumulation, a quickening, a constellation of archetypal force, an agitation – and then a light went on and the cocoon was shed. The ‘grail’ has been associated with just such a cycle, often rounded up to ‘30’ years. All of mankind and the Earth itself are affected by this 30-year cycle. When an individual cycle coincides with a collective cycle, it can be particularly challenging. You can find yourself panting for breath at the side of the road with ‘loss’ your sole companion. In Egypt this was the Sed Festival of Regeneration. In the month, we tend to mark – at least unconsciously – 4 points of the cycle as if we had ‘squared-the-synodical-circle’. If we do that we have exceeded the sidereal circle of the Moon by 2.2089 days, but have a square that is about 7.38266 days on a side. This gives rise through the 90° angle to the waxing square, the Full Moon, the waning square and the New Moon. Three phases are similar in that all are visible. But the New Moon occurs in front of the Sun and cannot be seen. It is as if the Sun absorbs it or swallows it. In the case of an eclipse it is as if the Sun has been swallowed by the Moon. So this 2.2 day/year phase in the cycle is more than meets the eye.
Now, the Moon’s diameter is 27.32% of the mean diameter of the Earth (3476/12,732). Together they are 1 + .2732 = 1.2732 = 4/π. This means that in terms of diameter, Earth and Moon are in a ‘squared-circle’ relationship. I will come back to this rather interesting point ahead. It is too valuable to ignore.
I knew the Grail involved a vessel of some kind but had not thought of a cathedral as a vessel that had assumed the function of the Grail: an enclosure designed to initiate all of us into something extra. That extra is what makes us a little more than just human – at least in cycles. My own view of churches, other than Chartres, has been mired since childhood in a murky backwater of preciousness – an allergic reaction of my heart to the falsity of all the bizarre projections that we had been told to take as true. The church irked me, which is why Chartres has been such an unexpected fork in the road. Finding the grail to be almost as ‘precious’, subconsciously, it was a stimulating association to entertain – between it and Chartres – an antidote perhaps, to an ingrained, but tired, rationalism that had not yet completely shed its skin and was still encumbering my need for psychological freedom. I could see that Charpentier had more faith in the ‘Grail’ than I did, but it was Chartres that beckoned me. It was Chartres that seemed to exceed anything anybody could ever say about it. That was the mystery for me and the preoccupation. It shares this superabundance with the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, the “boon” just mentioned above granted by Atum (Heaven) and Geb (Earth). But my ears were cocked to any clues that might help to explain the superabundance – the way consciousness can exult in its own overflow – the way Chartres stimulated this overflow; how the builders could have been nourished by the same boon, the Stone most pure.
As it turned out, it wasn’t until I had started to come upon key references to the Eye of Horus – particularly in the 5th Dynasty Pyramid Texts of the Egyptians – that the meaning of the “Grail” started to become clearer. One thing Grail, Eye of Horus and Notre Dame de Chartres all have in common is that all three are always referred to as feminine. In male psychology, the “Anima” is also feminine
and can play an indispensable role in the process of psycho-spiritual metamorphosis. There are levels of transformation that cannot occur without the appearance of the anima-figure – especially when the anima herself undergoes a significant transfiguration. The ancients identified the anima with the action of the Moon and the mysterious influence of the synodical month. In India and Mesopotamia, a favorite myth known as The Churning of the Sea of Milk, makes the ‘grail’ the Moon itself, a goblet that renews the Golden Amrita that, like the Eye of Horus, sustains the gods themselves! However, instinct dictated that the Grail, like the Eye of Horus, is not a ‘thing’ per se. A cup, or stone urn, or gold chalice, are all ‘symbols’ – no matter how beautifully they may have been crafted by human ingenuity. The 1980 dream was pushing me to look more deeply behind the symbol – if possible – to feel out the web of circumstances within which ‘things’ arise and disappear again, including the anima herself. I knew the ‘Grail’, or “Gral”, could not be identified with a single object, or even person, anymore than the God of the universe could be identified solely with the Sun, or the ‘personality’ solely with the physical body. The Grail is surely universal, of which things are ‘symbols’ only, likenesses, to borrow a term from Goethe, a means that facilitates a much more mysterious passage: a particular testament, if you like. However, the right vessel, properly rectified, can have the effect of stimulating a metamorphosis, a qualitative change or transmutation in a living being. It could most certainly be a means of initiation in the fullest sense of that term, by which I do not mean empty ritual. This ‘vessel’ ranges from a ‘constellation’, to a solar system, to a planet, to a grotto, to a living skull, to a dream, to art, to a cathedral, to a relationship, to a mathematical insight, or even a shock of some kind that induces a supra-normal or exalted state of being. In the case of a revelation, vision or unusual dream, the Grail refers to the means, the mysterious spherical enclosure within which ‘Isis’, the ‘Magdalene’, ‘Lakshmi’ can do their work. The Grail is the All-embracing’. It can also refer to the whole body itself – the house of the soul – those proportions alluded to by Vitruvius and illustrated in part by Leonardo.
Below, I have outlined just the barest elements of Leonardo’s ‘plan’. The 2:1, ABCD, is ½ the square that surrounds it. The 2:1 is then divided into 8 squares
or 4 smaller 2:1 rectangles. Further division proceeds from this. The circle is centered on the male navel at ~ 6/10 of the height. Below, I have placed “A”& “B” to indicate where Leonardo has marked out the Prime 2:1 rectangle with two vertical lines at the elbows. Division occurs between 1 and 2. The crisis of separation is overcome by the ability to rejoin. He then subdivides it into
quarters through dimidiation. I have indicated the 2:1 below, marking it ABCD.
Leonardo’s marks are cutting the Prime 2:1 into halves: the pubic bone (1/2), then the knees (1/4), then at the nipples of the chest (3/4), then the head itself (1/8) or 7/8 of the whole height. He also cuts the square in half at the elbows, then that in half at the shoulders (which I have marked S and R). The circle, contrary to general opinion, is not the ‘squared-circle’. Rather it is a circle with the same perimeter as a hexagon inscribed in a circle with the same perimeter as the square! That ratio is specific. The hexagon and circle relate as 1: 1.0472, or 6:6.2832 which is also the relationship between the meter and the Egyptian “royal cubit” used in the Great Pyramid of Gizeh.
A circle that is 1 meter in diameter has a circumference of 3.1416 meters. The Royal Cubit is 1/6th of that circle giving .5236 m. The relationship between the radius of the circle and the royal cubit is .5:.5236 or 1:1.0472 or 3:3.1416. This number, .5236, is quite important in this work. It assumes many different forms including relationships among volumes. Another classic example of where 5.236 appears can be seen in the profile of the Great Pyramid which incorporates the golden number, 1.618 when the 1/2 base is taken as Unity.
In this image “1” is 220 royal cubits. The total perimeter is 1 + 1 + 1.618 + 1.618 = 5.236. And 5.236 x 220 = 1152 cubits. I repeat that since the value of the royal cubit happens to be .5236 meter, it can be seen as a principle. When applied to the meter taken as a diameter it is 1/6th of the circumference. That value, .5236 m, is the cubit of the Great Pyramid. There are 5.236 meters in the width of the King’s Chamber and 10.472 meters in its length. Because the King’s Chamber is an archetypal 2:1 rectangle, it is quite significant to see it incorporate 5.236 in meters. I will be more specific about the KC as we proceed. I wanted to show in this image that the Pyramidal enclosure – the boon granted by Atum and Geb – has an archetypal value of 5.236 when the ‘mouth’ of the commanding triangle is taken as unity or 220 cubits. The 5.236 then appears again as Unity in the King’s Chamber. And incidentally, the King’s Chamber was given its name by Abdullah Al Mamun when he and his men broke into the Great Pyramid in 820 A.D. There is no indication that the Egyptians themselves ever used the name “King’s Chamber”. This is an important point. If we go by the Pyramid Texts it is more likely that it was referred to as the Cavern of Osiris; the Cavern of Sokar; or the Broad Hall of Osiris (e.g. see PT 1551, Faulkner). I should just point out that the width of the King’s Chamber fits into the 1/2-base 22 times and into the whole base 44 times. The length of the King’s Chamber fits into the whole base 440/20 = 22 times. What I am calling Unity here is 220 cubits or 22 widths of the KC. The 1/2 base was called the mouth of the triangle that gives the pyramid its character. A ‘mouth’ emits sounds generated by the voice. The mouth was also referred to as ‘The Mouth of Ra’ and was considered one way that the creation came into being. As reflected in the Hebrew alphabet, there are 22 partials to the human voice. So the width of the King’s Chamber can be treated as one partial of the mouth of Ra. If the length of the KC fits into the whole base length 22 times, it fits into the length of the Sphinx 7 times. The Sphinx length fits into the height of the pyramid twice and the base length 3.1416 times. So the Sphinx may well have been intended to be 140 cubits in length or ~ 73.3 meters. 7 x 10.472 = 73.3 meters. 22 x 10.472 = 230.384. It is most likely not an accident that the Sphinx length is in a pi relationship with the solid base of the Great Pyramid. So with the length of the KC as “1” the Sphinx length is “7” and the base length of the GP is “22”. The KC was likely conceived as the seed of the whole, where the Eye took root. It is the bnbn or Benben. The Benben is closely connected to the Phoenix which was said to bring the Benben Stone. To connect the King’s Chamber or Broad Hall of Osiris, with the Phoenix is to make of it a place of metamorphosis.
In illustrating Vitruvius’ principles Leonardo was being faithful to a fundamental simplicity that springs from the 2:1 construction itself. It is the principle of the 2:1 that fosters the simplicity and can hold together complexity. The 2:1 also gives the sense of vitality and authority to the figure. So there is a direct connection between simplicity and authority. Below, ABCD highlights the Prime 2:1 rectangle which I have cropped for emphasis. Every subtle nuance arises within the 2:1 construction.
In the image of the principle of the Royal Cubit below I have shown the Prime 2:1 rectangle, ABCD, with perimeter 30. I put in a hexagon, EFIGHJ, with each side and the radius equal to AB or Unity of the Prime 2:1. Since it has 6 sides, like the perimeter of the 2:1, which is 6 x Unity, its perimeter will also be 30. But the circle that circumscribes it will be 10 x 3.1416 = 31.416. The relationship between 31.416 and 30 is 1.0472. Any arc of 60° of the circle will relate to unity or a side of the hexagon as 5.236/5 = 1.0472. The circle da Vinci used in his illustration has the same perimeter as the Prime 2:1 (ABCD) and the hexagon (EFIGHJ) shown below. In the case of the King’s Chamber, clearly it corresponds to the perimeter of the circle and has a circumference of 31.416 meters and diameter, 10 meters.
The circle shown in the image above is important in the canon for both male and female. Its diameter is the same as the height of the individual and the Prime 2:1 rectangle. We are going to ‘square’ that circle further ahead. Suffice to say for now that the royal cubit is derived from dividing the circumference of a 1 meter circle by 6. So, 3.1416 ÷ 6 = .5236
Below I have shown the difference between the ‘squared-circle’ and the one used by da Vinci. The squared-circle is clearly larger. The red circle, Circle B, is the same as the red square, EFGH.
Note below how the leg of the figure is parted in exact accordance with the diagonal (AC) of the double square: ABCD. This passes right through the pubic bone and also marks the base of the ribs.
Above I have marked the head as ¼ of the Prime width, Unity or AB. The shoulders are marked ½ of Unity. The verticals are marked for the height, 2. Note that the shaded triangle, ABC, is the same triangle used to determine the Golden Number when Unity is added to AC, so that: (1 + 2.236068) ÷ 2 = 1.618 = 3.236068 ÷ 2
To sum up what has been said above. The Royal Cubit is part and parcel of the whole discussion at hand. But I introduced it first since it came up. A circle with diameter 10 meters will have a circumference that is 31.416 meters. For a 2:1 rectangle to have the same perimeter it must have a width of 5.236 meters. 6 x 5.236 = 31.416. The intention inside the Great Pyramid was for the Prime 2:1 to have a perimeter equal to a 10 meter diameter circle. We will pick up from here ahead. The KC is a place of convergence of measures that meant something important to the Egyptians. It concerns the ‘squaring-of-the-circle’; the basis of the whole Great Pyramid.
THE GRAIL AS AN EXPERIENCE OF THE ‘SELF’.
The grail is responsible for an event, an exceptional experience – or perhaps ‘revelation’ would be a better term – that pushes the boundary-stones of the ‘self’ (one’s own natural ‘grail’) to a limit of comprehension. At this limit, order itself reaches a threshold of instability. The familiar and the known are swallowed by an unknowable suspense, as external knowledge breaks down and changes its frame of reference. It is pointless to attempt to deprive the grail of all mysticism. It is the cup that overflows its own form through a mysterious transmutation. It is the vessel that knows both destruction and creation and the relationship between the two: the moment when the snake bites its tail; when the Phoenix rises again from its own ashes. At this limit, all ‘understanding’ undergoes an inversion. The terror that transforms into ecstasy cannot be measured. The Grail is mystical insofar as we do not know its ultimate boundary. Appearances, once considered self-evident by the cerebral mind, find themselves re-absorbed by a source too mysterious and too powerful to name. But yet it is experienced vividly and directly. One is both the cup and the flowing fluid that overflows its own ‘rim’. Inevitably the ‘Self’ and the ‘Grail’ have much in common. Which determines which. Chartres seems to respond to this question by urging the soul to blossom from the heart.
Following this inversion between known and unknown – and perhaps between cerebral knowledge and heart-knowledge – communication also changes. You know what you wish to communicate but a new language is required to properly represent it. Having seen directly, one can no longer speak directly, because all metaphors have also been inverted! Cabalistic language arises by necessity to convey mystical truth. It is not arbitrary. One thinks of the legends surrounding Moses who was said to have been the only one among the Hebrew who had ‘looked directly into the Sun’! Metaphors aside, the feeling is that Moses had been illuminated from within, initiated in some fashion to the law of his being and man’s relationship with the surrounding cosmos. Below is a closer look at a sculpted image of Moses at the north-west entrance to Chartres. Note the winged dragon perched atop the pillar at the level of his eyes.
Before I had come to Charpentier’s enigma about the Grail, I first came upon this image of Moses. It was 36 months before I could photograph it myself. When I finally got there I was stopped in my tracks. Such figures! They redefined my understanding of art, of culture, and of the spirit in humanity that can even inhabit stone when it has become essential to do so. Some legacies must not be lost in space even if they have ended in time – and vice versa! I willingly allowed myself to be lifted into a time warp. What force had driven the hands capable of carving stone in such fashion that spirit could glow upon every face and radiate with such historic humility from every heart. Eyes that seem to gaze down eons of time! Beacons. A guiding geometry enveloped and then gently beckoned the soul out of the rock. Moses holds a rounded Table of the Law.
With Chartres and any other building that echoes the eternal spirit, there is the feeling that everything essential was put into the world all at once. Was there a key that unlocked that world that the Master Craftsman kept in his pocket? If there was a cosmic code, a great measure, the Egyptian “Arq Ur” – which was one name for the Great Sphinx – did he inherit it? Did he discover it? Perhaps it was rediscovered in Jerusalem or in Egypt, or in both, from about 1100 to 1128 A.D. But what was it: a key to unity perhaps, to the wholeness of things – that which enables harmony? Even language faltered in my mind when confronted with the magnitude of knowledge that erupted out of Chartres as if it were the Cornucopia of the World. Each page of Charpentier’s book reflected the awesome tone that resonated in each stone, each pillar, each figure, saturated with history… a legacy that all of us had inherited from men in the grip of some cosmic inspiration.
At the North-West Porch, Moses holds a pillar. A winged dragon (French, “wouivre”), not unlike the winged serpent of the Egyptians, has ascended the pillar. The Spirit of the World has been gathered from the Earth and concentrated in the ground according to the plan you see below.
That which is lowest, the serpent, has been raised, lifted up, ‘redeemed’. Presumably it is concentrated according to the ‘table of the law’ that Moses holds as well: a rectangle with a rounded end that resembles aspects of the floor plan of Chartres shown above. In this image I have included the outside width of the Nave and a length that equals the diagonal of a 50 x 100 meter double square (111.8 m). This includes the complete interior Apse and the entrance to the Nave from the towers. The North Tower has been given a height of about 111.44 meters by Houvet. The diagonal of a 50 x 100 meter 2:1 rectangle is 111.8 meters. The difference is 36 centimeters. In the Renaissance it was rebuilt and with cross and Sun it supposedly reaches 115 meters, so those items are to be subtracted. The principle of the diagonal of a double square is so important that my guess is that this was the original intention. The diagonal, the square root of 5, is a transcendental function. To stand it up as a tower is to connect heaven and earth. It is the return of spirit to its own source. In one fell swoop the blind hen may have caught a grain of corn in its claw. The double square represents Above and Below. The diagonal is the link between the two. The “Brazen Serpent” makes this link. Every tradition, moreover, warns that the “Kundalini” is dangerous on a vital level. It can be provoked by advanced yoga techniques. The serpent image is an enigma, a warning and a promise. Life and death are dangerous. Forewarned is forearmed. Wisdom is still worth the risk if you feel the calling. Chartres is a testament to this calling.
The concentrated spirit (brazen serpent in the Bible) rises up the pillar (tower), a symbol for the human spine. It penetrates and purifies (refines) the inner man and opens the inner eye. In Egypt that Winged Serpent or Uraeus was always feminine and was variously Isis, Neith, Uatchet and so forth. It blossomed at the summit of its journey as the Eye of Horus and was symbolized (in part) by the Uraeus that projected from the brow of the Pharaoh. A profound parallel is being made between fundamental principles that dominated Egypt and the ‘life of Christ’. What is being implied is wisdom, frequently associated by the ancients with a serpent. Why? The serpent power refers to a pristine force stored up in the base of the spine that can be opened and lifted up to the heart and head. Here it can blossom, the moment of enlightenment of all religions. At the moment of enlightenment the darkness; the melancholic state of being lost in the wilderness with or without sin, is transformed into an inner light that permanently changes the individual. And it is true: that moment of enlightenment is worth more than any physical gold one could possess, no matter how comforting such gold may be! In this respect wisdom is not merely encyclopedic information. It is a transformation of being; a ‘way’. There are different ways to express the same path. A ‘Winged Wouivre’ is one way; the “Grail” is another.
In this image we see Seti I of the XIXth Dynasty of Egypt making an offering of Maāt, neter of Truth, Cosmic Balance. The Uraeus extends from Seti’s brow as if it has blossomed from the khepresh helmet, itself capable of attracting, conducting and concentrating magnetic energy. John Anthony West reminds me that no khepresh helmet has ever been found, but one thinks of the 30 pound helmets worn by the Tibetan kuden, or State Oracle, worn to induce an oracular trance every year in the Central Cathedral (when formerly in Tibet). In any case, in the bas relief above, the ‘brazen serpent’ has been mastered, raised and blooms like a lotus flower exuding its numinous perfume out into the world. His hands have been reversed. His left hand is on his right wrist and offers Maāt. The right hand is on his left wrist and seems to invoke protection. The hands are extensions of the heart and what seems to be shown here is not only what is in the heart – the effect of each heart circuit and the decussation of vital energy, vital breath – but he is both giving and receiving simultaneously. ‘He gives to the god what he receives from the god’. That is Maāt. It is a double action, again echoed in the double square. We seem to be getting a clue from more ancient members of humanity as to the inner secrets of the crucifixion, the principle of the cross or crossing; and how it amplifies or magnifies something of inestimable importance. Maāt represents balance or cosmic equilibrium. So does the cross. There is perhaps no greater balance than that between receiving and giving; systole and diastole; inhalation, exhalation. She herself seems to have two right hands and holds the Ankh. Therefore the secret of ‘Truth’ and ‘Balance’ is that it ‘gives and maintains life’. We read a similar passage in the Berlin Papyrus, here severely edited:
“I have come to you, I am Thoth [Maāt’s masculine counterpart], my two hands united to carry Maāt…you make Maāt rest on your head in order that she may take her seat on your forehead….you exist because Maāt exists,…and vice versa.” This passage makes a direct link between Maāt and the Uraeus or raised serpent force. The cross, and crossing, link spirit to matter, and matter to spirit; circle to square and square to circle. It links above to below and around to within and vice versa. The breath imitates this; as does each beat of the heart. Maāt is not a ‘Platonic-like’ abstraction. She exists through each living being and each living being exists through her. That is the secret of the crossing, decussation, symbolized by exchanging the position of the hands in the bas relief. Life is woven into being by the crossing. In the crucifixion one is given new life. After a dire separation, male and female are reunited. The essence is re-baptized. The spirit is born. One thinks of the crossing of the diagonals in a 2:1 rectangle. Each one is valued at 2.236068, the root of 5. When multiplied together you get 5, the number of life and sometimes of man himself! Moreover, 2 + 3 = 5 = 2.236068 × 2.236068. 2 + 3 = female + male. Maāt is offering ‘life’, the Ankh. In the canon of proportions the diagonals cross on the pubic bone: that which divides male from female sexuality and also provides the means of their reunion. From that reunion, often ecstatic, new life arises.
The towers are not merely ornaments or ‘let’s see who can build the highest spire’. To suggest this is a considerable affront to the Master Craftsman of Chartres, even if other churches succumbed to such dubious endeavors. The towers attracted energy above and crossed it over with energy below. A bishop, Monseigneur Pie, once said of Chartres: “Its source is below and above”. (Mysteries of Chartres, p. 29). For humans it is not possible to exaggerate the importance of the hands. Not only are they extensions of the heart. But they also are wired to the mind and brain. In a sense the hands express the union of head and heart. They are also connected to speech. Given that the hands are capable of such intricate, nonstop labor, one would imagine that a special geometry must command their creation and function. It took me several years to realize that ‘squared-circle’ geometry was playing a fundamental role in the proportion of the hands. But this meant placing the center of a circle over the heart, the cross of the Thoracic Vesica Piscis. I did not find this circle until December, 1997. I was looking at the heart as the center of the ‘archer’s bow’. If the heart was perturbed the arrow would not reach its target. The arrow could also be taken as a metaphor for the human spirit. The eye and the heart were guiding the arrow together: the hands were their sensitive servants. So I placed a circle over the heart and built it up in concentrics. I imagined it to be a bow. I then learned about something called the Ideal Angle in botany that divided a circle around a shared stalk or stem by the golden section. This division became the tension in the bow capable of firing an ‘arrow’. I knew an ‘arrow’ could assume different forms of expression: from writing words, to drawing pictures, to driving a car. I will return to this ahead. Moreover, words could escape by different routes!
Note below how the diagonals seem to shape and focus energy into the sacrum: the abode of the serpent energy. The diagonals crossing from below seem to want to open it up: to let the genie out of his bottle. There is an anterior and dorsal aspect to the same energy. Sexuality is anterior. The kundalini that can be raised for spiritual transformation is dorsal.
I should just add here a comment by Lucie Lamy, the stepdaughter of Schwaller de Lubicz who carried out countless precise illustrations for his books: “Maāt is the greatest treasure that a being might wish for.” (egyptian mysteries, p. 51) She calls Maāt “Cosmic Consciousness”, which is clearly to be distinguished from mundane consciousness that comes and goes. Obviously the implication is that Maāt must be awakened. When she is awakened, the crossing becomes real. Not surprisingly, perhaps, if you slipped Lucie Lamy’s line into Parzival, but replaced the word Maāt with Grail, you would never know the difference. “The Grail is the greatest treasure that a being might wish for.” Is the true essence of the Grail the same as Maāt?
Cosmic consciousness transmutes knowledge into the greatest of all treasures. The Grail transmutes its contents to the point of overflowing. What overflows has become a qualitative transformation of being – an accomplishment unique in its own time. The overflow is the difference. Chartres clearly overflows its own tangible boundary-stones. It is also unique. The Winged-Serpent overflows the cross, the papyrus stalk of Uatchet, the pillar that he has ascended, the soaring obelisk. Speech overflows the throat that has created it. Love overflows the heart that spawns it. What can be accumulated can overflow. The maple key overflows the branch. The perfume of the rose easily escapes its thorny prison. But when Parzival took the miracle of this superabundance for granted and failed to rise up and ask in humility and compassion about the circumstances surrounding the Grail – including the uncured illness of his ailing uncle, the Grail King – he found himself wandering in a senseless wasteland having lost all sense of time and purpose until nearly consumed by his own anger. The grail is not just about abundance. It is also about the wound from which abundance springs. Gates don’t open without questions to turn the key. Without humility at the base, the towering tree will topple in the first strong wind. The Grail King and the Osiris King have much in common. The fallen pillar will rise again at the right moment in the cycle.
“Three Tables bore the Grail”.
In a state of almost pre-cognitive chaos – sometimes premonitory – I came upon Charpentier’s fortuitous recollection at some point in June, 1985, at the start of a bewitching New Zealand winter, the birds singing, the grass always green, Greenpeace in town getting ready to protest nuclear tests in island arc atolls with their feisty little ship, The Rainbow Warrior. So, back in 1964 there was a ritual gathering of “the Society for the Study of Traditional Sciences”, the “Friends of Atlantis”, on a property in a suburb of Paris. Somebody had faith in a civilization that, according to Plato, was thousands of years older than either Egypt or Greece. A fire was lit in the name of Saint John; there was chanting and perambulating in a circle with beribboned sticks and colored costumes. A speech was given during which the speaker invoked the ‘traditional enigma’ when mentioning the carpenter who had been responsible for saving many of the church spires ravaged by the Battles of 1944. Charpentier had to paraphrase the ‘enigma’ and recounted it two ways. I will mention the second way first, as eventually it will provide the scale of the cathedral and its elevations:
“Three tables bore the Grail, a round one, a square one and a rectangular. All three have the same perimeter and their Number is 21”. (The Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral, p.92, p.133)
When I first read this, it was a brain-stopper. The whole world seemed to gather itself around it for a second or two and let out a sigh, leaving me to wrestle with the riddle. The unconscious seems to know its own cause before consciousness has identified the specifics. You feel before you ‘know’. This was a trade-secret that distinguished temple builders from all others, not wishing anyone to cast doubt upon the secret itself, nor their own intentions – the ‘Stone most pure’. It was an enigma with many layers, many implications. It reminded me of a mobius strip or the Chen sign of the Egyptians, or the sacred ligature that united Horus and Seth, North and South – through the breath that weaves life and feeds the blood in the midst of the thorax. Something unlimited and highly differentiated was being united. In short, the image overflowed its own limits. It was not just ‘squared-circle’ geometry that I had encountered in both Doczi and Michell; rather it involved the authority of a third. The third was a rectangle. At the South-East Porch of Chartres, to the North of Christ who occupies the central position, Saint John can be seen holding a 2:1 rectangular tablet. They lit the fire of Saint John on that property outside Paris. The 2:1 has been associated with ‘revelation’.
Saint John is the second from the left. This is the only photo I could find for the moment. I have misplaced a better quality one. Saint John is holding a 2:1 rectangular book.
I already knew from Doczi that the Great Pyramid of Gizeh was based upon the squaring of the circle by perimeter, but had not yet thought of a direct connection between the Great Pyramid and the Grail. I had never imagined any connection between the Great Pyramid and Chartres. As it turned out, the connection is not the least vague but entails actual measures. I needed to read Parzival first and then the Pyramid Texts to understand the context: what the ‘squared-circle’ might be expected to accomplish. The Phoenix makes a significant appearance in both Parzival and the Pyramid Texts (e.g. Utterance 600, PT 1652). I also did not know that the King’s Chamber within the Great Pyramid was concerned with ‘squaring-the-circle.’ In fact the KC circle is of genuine interest for us moderns. As mentioned already, a circle with the same perimeter as the 2:1 rectangular King’s Chamber itself has a diameter that is exactly 10 meters. I will be coming back to this point. Recall, that if you ‘squared-the-circumference-of the-Earth’, and then divided each side of the square by 10,000,000, you would have the meter, or say 39.37 inches. The meter is derived from a principle. The principle is the ‘Squaring-of-the-Earth-Circle’.
In this context – with the mention of 3 Tables – it is difficult not to think of Hermes Trismegistos or Thrice-Greatest Hermes, especially when one bears in mind that Hermes means Her-mes or Hr-ms which meant in Egyptian: ‘the birth of Horus’! And if one wants to be even more technical at this stage, one can see this really means the ‘rebirth of Osiris-as-Horus’. Charpentier uses the past tense: ‘bore the Grail’. The religion centered on Horus and Isis probably initiated the Egyptian civilization around 4200 B.C. or so when the Sirian Calendar was established based on the heliacal rising of Sirius every 365.25 days. The synodical month depends from the Year, so this coincidence of the Heliacal Rising of Sirius every 365.25 days is a stunning convergence of harmonies. Sirius (8.7 light years away) has an invisible white dwarf orbiting it, adding a unique gravitational situation to the equation. By linking the Grail to Isis, the ancients were automatically taking Sirius into account. This was the star of Isis also known as The Great Provider in her name “Sothis”. The Dogon of Africa called Sirius B, the white dwarf, Po Digitaria, or the granary of the world. Even though Sirius B could not be seen with the naked eye, the Dogon knew it was there.
Thoth-Hermes was treated by the Egyptians in a special way. When Ra was created, they proclaimed, it was Thoth and Maāt who brought him up out of the void and established his size and so forth. For the Egyptians Thoth and Maāt represented some form of vital harmony. The Egyptians attributed all sizes, all periodicities, all measure and all design, ultimately to Thoth and Maāt. This included the human body! It would have been Thoth who would have established the 3 tables that bore the Grail. The balance among them would have been the domain of Maāt. Thoth was also called “The Judge between the Two Combatants”, he ‘who reconciles Horus and Seth’. One imagines the Circle to be Horus; the Square to be Seth; and the rectangle to be Thoth. Because of the plethora of information associated with the temple, the Grail, I have to omit many, many details. The art of editing is not without pain.