The new edition of my book, Spirals: The Pattern of Existence, revised and updated, is available from the publishers, Green Magic, and from Amazon ...
At last we have the proof! Seeing Around Corners: Geometry in Stone Age Britain - the Proof is the new book from Tom Brooks ... see Prehistoric Geometry page
Daughter Maria launches new edition of Dennis Wheatley's The Essential Dowsing Guide ... see Delve into Dowsing page
Strong magic at the Stanton Drew stone circles ... see Mysterious West of England page
The way to inner wisdom through the labyrinth
Movements of the psyche may be visualised as a spiral progression, as ‘re-volution’ or ‘re-evolution’, being symbolic of the transpersonal route to that higher level of consciousness which has been sought by all esoteric and occult systems.
Paralleling these inner movements of the psyche, which indicate the transformative and the integrative, are movements in physical space: the vortex, or involution, representing an opening or re-awakening, oscillation, the movement back and forth between dualities, and the circumambulatory, as utilised in labyrinth and mazes.
The labyrinth symbolises the living mystery of the unconscious with its profound capabilities and potentialities, fixing a relationship between a 'charged' centre, or omphalos, which can be reached only by a difficult or circuitous access. The circumambulatory path leads from the outer world to the inner and suggests the mandala, a symbol of wholeness, while the complementary spiral and the vortex point to dynamic growth and metamorphosis: the unfolding cosmos.
Infused with a magical or numinous quality, the ancient labyrinth was joined inseparably with the mysteries of life, death and transformation, its corridors, false tracks and cul-de-sacs standing for the aspirations, transgressions and temptations of human existence.
As a mandala, or chart of the progression of the soul, the symbolic spiritual journey, through pilgrimage or meditation, towards realisation of the Self, represents the fusion and flow of dynamic opposites – the oscillative movement – whose balance is sought in universal harmony.
Its beauty also lies in the fact that, as it is not claimed by any one faith or tradition, one can draw from its pathways whatever is desired, using it as an aid to healing and meditation. Now its compelling mythos is captured in a set of Labyrinth Wisdom Cards (Gaois Publications, October 2012, UK £12.95, Europe €14.95, US $19.95), a truly inspired idea from Tony Christie, an artist and consultant who designs and builds labyrinths, and works with them to enhance his own and others' personal and spiritual growth.
There are many kinds of divinatory cards available today, but this new one, comprising a 48-card deck and a handbook, places the transformational symbol before you at every turn, promoting that elusive accommodation between the conscious and the unconscious mind. The cards can be used for general guidance and insight to life’s situations, or approached with a specific question or issue.
Tony, from Cork, Ireland, describes how the labyrinth found him, rather than the other way round. He said: 'It began appearing to me in Angel cards, in books I was reading. It crept up on me and started to seep into my body, mind and spirit. And it is still seeping! The more I spend time with the labyrinth, the more I realise it holds the keys to all knowledge and wisdom. The labyrinth can unlock whatever we seek. It has brought me on a path of self-discovery, personal development and spiritual growth that never ceases to be a source of wonder. '
In 2005, Tony (pictured) founded Labyrinth Ireland to raise awareness of the transformative potential of the labyrinth, and he is a member of the Labyrinth Society. The Labyrinth Wisdom Cards, he feels, are a gift to him from a source greater than himself. They have become a 'great friend' and have guided him as on his own spiritual path. His hope is that users of the cards will regard them as a friend, too, whose directness and honesty might sometimes be difficult but always for their own good.
The striking and distinctive artwork for the cards was a journey in itself for Tony. Initially, he searched for artists to convert images and thoughts that came to him in paintings, but the approach never really illustrated what he was feeling or seeing. After a while, he began simple drawings himself of what he felt should be on the cards. 'Then I hesitantly took up a paintbrush and began to paint,' he says. 'Once again, my artist’s path contained the twists and turns of the labyrinth.'
Confronting the everyday with its own marvels
After working at heritage sites for some years, Phil Smith came to feel that he had always been 'among ruins' there.
No matter how well signed, interpreted or managed, or how conserved they might be, heritage sites were all 'places of waste, decay, remains, excretion, horror and disgrace, bodies from which life is gone (but whose death is hidden) and which are kept unnaturally propped up, their parts kept moving on a life-support machine long after their life has departed'.
Strong feelings, strong words. So performance artist Phil (pictured) did something about it. He launched 'counter-tourism', a caustic concept involving a pun which implies the heritage industry inflicts a kind of institutionalised historical terrorism on the public. One can see what he means.
If you've ever been bored at a museum, gallery, stately home or ancient monument, if you want more from a heritage site than 'a tea shoppe and an old thing in a glass case', here's your chance to do something about it, he tells us, with Counter-Tourism: The Handbook (Triarchy Press, UK £17.50, September 2012).
Behind the simple-sounding stories in the guidebook or audio tour, and the locked gates marked 'private', lies 'a multitude of wonders, absurdities and outrages that, when counter-tourism opens the doors, provide a subversive and life-twiddling experience rather than a deferential procession through the unrevealing homes of the rich and famous'. Phil reveals how badly we are in need of the obverse. After all, 'inside the museums, infinity goes up on trial'.
The underlying strategy is to undermine the familiar forms of sanitised heritage tourism and have them re-enacted by visitors so as to enter the realm between how things are and how they might be, and realise hidden transformative potential. Essentially, tourists are pilgrims, up for transforming themselves in some way, says Phil. But visitor centres are just 'machines for the contraction, disguise, obscuring and hollowing out of the places they propose themselves as portals to'.
Tactics recommended in the Handbook, a companion volume which expands on the earlier Counter-Tourism: A Pocketbook, first parody and then 'resurrect the etiquette of the heritage visit': strike up a conversation with a statue, spend half your time outside the site, leave subtle evidence of your visit, an ornament or note, reinterpret signs, lie down in a palace, fall asleep there, look for the incongruous, the gratuitous, the erroneous.
The Handbook, which is aimed equitably at both the ordinary tourist and the clued-up specialist, simply teems with piquant philosophical asides and tactics you can try – an inspiring cornucopia of the absurd which, as Carl Jung said, is one and the same as the highest truth.
Hijack heritage sites to make new meanings. Pick through the ruins, poke into corners, ask awkward questions. Intervene. Infiltrate. Confront the quotidian with its own marvels. Curve a cacophony of conventional tourism into a spiral of new perspectives and experiences. It's an exhilarating idea. One simply cannot do justice to it all in an article like this.
Phil is also the author of Mythogeography: A Guide to Walking Sideways (hence the Crab Man soubriquet). It was mythogeography, in its celebration of the multiplicity of meanings in any site, that gave rise to counter-tourism: the places of heritage first, their stories second. It's a new way of seeing the world, and acting on and in it with a kind of spontaneous theatre that privileges space and place above everything.
A visiting lecturer at the universities of Plymouth and Exeter, Phil, a playwright too, is a core member of Wrights & Sites, a group of artist-researchers who have produced a range of 'mis-guides, performances and other wonders'.
►Pictured above: a sign spotted on a tourist route near Loop Head, Co Clare, Ireland.
A new dawn for a megalithic marvel
The key revelation of Peter Knight's comprehensive new guide to the West Kennet long barrow it is that after thousands of years of darkly guarding its secrets this ancient monument is tentatively re-opening itself to the world.
Dating from about 3500BC, and built on a deliberate east-west axis in line with the equinoxes, West Kennet is one of the biggest and finest long barrows in Britain. Maybe a thousand years after its construction, the inner chambers were mysteriously filled and a line of massive sarsen stones used to seal them from the outside world.
It is astonishing how, as Peter (pictured) shows in his latest earth mysteries book, the 5,500-year-old monument on the Wiltshire skyline overlooking Silbury Hill is now coming back to life. And on so many levels - as stellar and lunar observatory, nexus of earth energies and leys, gateway to the earth goddess, portal to paranormal activity, shrine of sacred geometry, sanctum of the shaman where shadowy simulacra, both human and animal, flow from the old stones - and even as a Stone Age soundscape of strange acoustical properties.
This awakening, which Peter investigates resolutely chapter by chapter, following an assessment of the archaeology, is clear testimony to the new understanding and reverence which is being expressed towards megalithic sites around the world. Never merely a tomb, and never the product of primitive minds, West Kennet was more a place for the living than the dead, and wants to be utilised again, Peter believes, yearning to be a focus, a centre of community, for the high spiritual ideals it surely once embodied. It's very much ‘open for business’ today, he says.
Another way of putting it, I feel, would be to say that it is we who yearn to achieve these ideals through it, as our millennial hopes and fears for the world are projected on to it, in all the different ways mentioned above, and probably more. Many today feel the power of place at West Kennet (pictured below), and poets, painters, writers, musicians, singers and dowsers alike have been inspired by it.
Here is the key to grasping the new holistic attitude towards our neolithic ancestors that Peter's book eloquently expresses - that, somehow, a vital message has been left for us, encoded in their monuments and the landscapes they shaped. Unravelling that code, crucially in time of global crisis, can help us reconnect with the earth in a spiritual way. 'To look back in time may well help mankind survive the future,' says Peter.
Peter's West Kennet Long Barrow: Landscape, Shamans and the Cosmos (Stone Seeker Publishing, £12.99) is a timely work in its all-embracing approach, indeed, I would say, the book that had to be written about this megalithic marvel. In preparing for it, he walked the surrounding landscape to connect and sense what it wanted him to know. He now suggests the long barrow can help us all create a closer, more spiritual link with the landscape we inhabit.
That the monument may now be conceived as having new life breathed into it is in no short measure due to Peter himself. And, most important, his book is a labour of love, as he points out at the start.
After his father Ernie died, Peter scattered his ashes at the long barrow, forging a 'deep emotional bond'. Peter told me: 'I wanted to return him to the earth at a true ancestral site, and one that I could go to when I needed to 'connect' with him - just as happened there in the neolithic. Since I did this with my dad's ashes, I have had two emails from people who followed my example and did the same with their relatives.'
Since the strewing of the ashes, which Peter wrote about in his novel Thirteen Moons, Peter has felt his father's presence at the long barrow several times: 'He has appeared and/or spoken to me in my thoughts during shamanic journeys and in meditation. He told me that I have a responsibility to the ancestors - because I am an ancestor. We all are.'
The ancestors of thousands of years ago did not know of today, so Peter also had a responsibility to take knowledge back for them: 'It's a two-way exchange of information and not all about take, take, take.' It also made Peter realise that he may have been at West Kennet in a previous life, explaining why he has such a deep connection, love and respect for the monument, and for the people who built and made use of it.
'Perhaps I am being over-romantic and fanciful,' he says. 'However, although I have been to sacred sites all over Europe, Egypt and elsewhere, West Kennet long barrow is the only sacred site where I feel I have been before, a long, long time ago. I now know that the ancestors are within reach, which I suspect was the mindset of the users of the long barrow back in the neolithic.'
Commendably, and doubtless partly as a result of all this, Peter cares for the site on a weekly basis, removing litter and cleaning the stones. He offers his book so that others might find the wonders revealed to him during his 20-year association with the monument, and that the site receives the respect it deserves.
This is Peter's seventh book. An experienced dowser, he has been leading tours to sacred sites since 1995, founding Stone Seeker Tours in 2006, and is well-known for his inspirational presentations, workshops and field trips. He is the founder and organiser of the Convention of Alternative Archaeology and Earth Mysteries, held annually in Dorset and Wiltshire, which provides a platform for new and established researchers.
Peter, who lives in Wiltshire and follows a Goddess-orientated spirituality, says his mission is to help people connect with sacred sites and landscapes, as a means of enhancing their lives, and to actively help and promote planetary healing.
►See Resources page for link to Peter's Stone Seeker website.
Gardner's question time about existence of God
Best-selling author Laurence Gardner was unhappy that the ‘cult of celebrity’ seemed to have taken over the publishing industry but, shortly before he died in August 2010, he nevertheless joked with his wife Angela that no one was likely to find any bigger celebs than the subjects of his two new books – God and the Devil. The Origin of God was published posthumously at the end of 2010, thanks to the efforts of Angela who helped to set up a small publishing company specially to produce the book, and Revelation of the Devil was published in summer 2012 (review on Books page).
Because I wanted to get The Origin of God
out in the year of Laurence’s death, I was the catalyst in my sister Susan and her husband David creating Dash House Publishing to enable this,’ said Angela, who lives in Devon, England. ‘It was a far quicker process, as conventional publishing can take anything from nine to 18 months to get a book into the system, whereas by setting up Dash House Publishing, we managed to get the book out within three months.’
Few books have been written about God that are not specifically theistic or atheistic in nature. Beyond these traditions of belief and disbelief, meagre attention has been paid to the personal history of God from a standpoint outside the Bible - and it is this unbiased premise that makes The Origin of God so different from other books, and it is, indeed, a masterly appraisal, surely one of the most important and comprehensive works in the history of religion.
Gardner (picured above), who died at the untimely age of 67, was a fearless and authoritative author and speaker in the ‘alternative history’ genre of research whose works, including The Grail Enigma (2009) and Lost Secrets of the Sacred Ark (2004), presented controversial revisionist theories, and challenged orthodox views of world history.
His Bloodline of the Holy Grail (1996) provided some of the inspiration for the development of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (2003). Here, Gardner convincingly advanced the idea that Jesus did not die on the cross but married Mary Magdalene, fathered children and created a bloodline of descendants existing to the present day.
Angela told me: ‘Since 2005, when Laurence was diagnosed with a particularly virulent form of cancer, he told me that before he died he was determined to complete The Origin of God and The Revelation of the Devil - books which he'd had on the go for many years and was adding to all the time. It gave him the purpose he needed to keep going during these difficult years of illness. We didn't know how long Laurence had to live, so he immersed himself in his research, drawing on documents that pre-date the Bible by thousands of years to construct a biography of God through the centuries.
‘As to how these books might be received by the public, Laurence didn't look that far ahead - he was forced to live for the day in the hope that his work would live on after he was gone.’
David Hunter is a BA pilot who sees Dash House as an extra string to his bow for his retirement. As well as Laurence's two new books, David and Susan say they want to expand the business to help others through the labyrinth of print-on-demand publishing. ‘As well as David's technical expertise, we have skills in proof-reading, design and photography to help this venture along,’ Angela added.
For Gardner, the purpose in writing the two books was to try to redress the balance that religion had long imposed on society and unravel the mysteries of a monotheistic culture which has survived from ancient times to the present day. To quote from his Introduction: ‘Our quest is to discover from all available sources what evidence there is, if any, to support the long-standing and widespread notion of God's existence. Is there a creative, supernatural, intelligent entity in the universe, or is the concept just an abiding superstition?’
Thus The Origin of God comprises a biographical exploration of the character known as Yahweh, Allah or simply Lord, and seeks to uncover and evaluate his original identity, as against his eventual religiously motivated portrayals.
Gardner says the objective is a ‘headlong, impartial quest to trace the origin and evolution of God as a figure of belief by way of collating all demonstrable and circumstantial evidence in a chronological sequence of monotheistic development’. Following the course of his story into biblical scripture, he discovers a strategy of pure literary evolution – or, in other words, invention.
He shows clearly that God has never been an historical constant, but the result of an ancient concept developed as a progressive theme within different cultures. From the biblical times of Moses, at about 1,400BC, during a period of 400 years unaccounted for between the books of Genesis and Exodus, God is mysteriously moved ‘from an ostensibly real environment into a realm of belief and tradition’.
But the Bible is not so much a book about God as might be imagined. It is rather more the story of the Israelite nation and of how God was perceived by the priestly scribes to have adopted the Israelites as his own chosen people. What is perhaps odd is that, for more than 2,000 years, people other than Israelites and Judeans, in an extraordinary worldwide scale, have accepted ‘these same inadequate texts, without question, as providing a sound enough base on which to establish formally operative religions whose unelected hierarchy, by way of self-opinionated laws, have thereby controlled and regulated society through the ages’.
In his proposal for The Origin of God, Gardner pointed out that, in the light of successive disasters in the post 9/11 environment, churchmen and theologians had written books with their variously given reasons for God’s inexplicable methods of divine judgement. Meanwhile, scientists and atheists had published works that sought to establish an anti-religious dogma that there was no God. Traditionally, those who wrote books about God were either stalwart believers or confirmed non-believers. Their books emerged with immediate vested interest, and there was a lack of anything newly objective on the bookshelves.
Until now, that is - The Origin of God minimizes the ‘science versus religion’ debate, substituting a straightforward historical inquiry.
Belief in the one male God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam can be traced back for more than 2,500 years to the time when the Hebrew scripture of Genesis was compiled in the sixth century BC. The Genesis narrative was clearly derived from much older traditions but, on the face of it, there is no documentary evidence from any other source of a monotheistic culture in respect of this particular God from before that date.
Gardner asks the really awkward questions. If there was nothing before God created everything, then where was God before that? Where did he come from? If the Bible had never been written, would we know about God from any more original source? Did the Israelite scribes invent God for some reason, or did they have access to earlier records concerning him? If so, what were they?
The answer to this query could lie in the work of the late Christian O’Brien, a Cambridge scholar and exploration geologist, who proposed in the 1980s that members of an advanced race - known in the records of Sumeria, the world’s oldest known civilization, as the Anannage or ‘Shining Ones’- re-started civilization in southern Lebanon around 9,000BC. The Anannage (see depiction on Sumerian tablet above) seem to have been the first beings ever to be regarded as ‘gods’ - and one of them in all probability was Yahweh.
For the last 10 years, the independent researcher Edmund Marriage, of Ledbury in Herefordshire, a relative of O’Brien’s, was a frequent visitor and friend at the Gardners’ home because so much of Gardner's work resonated with that of O'Brien, whose books were an invaluable source of reference material. Further research by Edmund and the Golden Age Project (see Ancient Civilizations page) suggests the Anannage were the survivors of a civilization decimated by planetary catastrophe in about 10,400BC when cosmic debris collided with the Earth.
The Anannage appear in the historical record for thousands of years, but it is not explained that the various descendent godly figures died or went elsewhere. The documentary perception simply changes about 1,400BC from one of actual physical presence to that of mysterious spiritual presence - by a remarkable coincidence, just like God’s.
Whoever the Anannage might have been, and from wherever they might have come, says Gardner, who supports and expands on the O’Brien thesis, the Sumerians were absolutely sincere about their existence at a time when their social, academic and technological cultures leapt forward way in advance of any other region on Earth: ‘seemingly out of position in time and place, these highly advanced individuals appear, like a cast-remnant from Atlantis, to create the most impressive and influential civilization of the era’.
As each country followed a progressive move from being an individual ‘nation state’ to the newly required role as a global ‘market state’, the traditional influence held by religion in society was being overwhelmed by the greater corporate influence, led by competition rather than cooperation: ‘People are now asking: “Why do I need to believe in God?” If that question is not answered satisfactorily, then there is no reason why they should give the matter any further thought.’
In line with the belief of a great many people worldwide, did Gardner believe God actually existed in some form today? There is absolutely no proof, nor even circumstantial evidence, that this is so, he concludes: ‘God can only be said to exist as an optional concept based on individual choice. He is a subject of unsubstantiated belief, not of certainty.’
►The Origin of God is published by Dash House Publishing at £14.99 (US $23.70). See Resources page for links.
Tracking the profound tradition of totem animals
Author Celia Gunn first learned about the tradition of totem animals directly from a visionary leader of the Sinixt people in British Columbia, and how hers - it turned out to be the wolf, the pathfinder and teacher - could help her on her journey through life.
She said: 'We all have access to spiritual guidance, if we but ask. One way to do this is through the spirit of animals, most especially through the spirit of your totem animal.'
If we are open to paying heed to our totem animals, she says, we can develop a beneficial relationship with them: an animal can appear in an unusual place or in striking circumstances which have an important bearing on what's happening in your life.
Although the word ‘totem’ is associated with North American indians, the concept is found in cultures worldwide. It is an object that serves as a revered ancestral emblem, Celia (pictured) explains in her new book, Simply Totem Animals (Sterling/Zambezi UK £8.99), and totem animals are also used for personal guardianship. In a delightfully illustrated A-Z, she reveals the symbolism of more than 60 animals from ant (self-sacrifice) and badger (willpower) to weasel (secrecy) and wren (healing power of nature).
But she said: 'I don't think what we label totem or power animal does the tradition justice, since it's such a profound tradition, deeper and wider than perhaps our imagination can go as yet.'
Celia's book enabled me to identify my own totem animal in a remarkable sequence of synchronicities. She describes various ways in which you can identify your totem animal, including meditation, visualisation, insight or inspiration. One method she suggests is to sit quietly and relax your mind, imagine a favourite place in the natural world, and mentally ask to meet your animal. After a while, you’ll get a sense or a vision of your animal in your mind’s eye. This was the approach I used, as it reminded me of Jungian active imagination, which I practice.
I visualised the Ardgroom stone circle on the beautiful Beara peninsula in the west of Ireland. Spontaneously, in my imagined scene, a rabbit appeared between the megaliths, sprung from my unconscious mind. Only half an hour later, while out driving in the lanes near home, a rabbit ran full tilt across the lane directly in front of the car!
Two days later, at a table top sale, one of the first items set out at the very next table was a large cuddly-toy rabbit. Soon after, a woman came by carrying another large toy rabbit. Another two days, and watching a movie on DVD, an early scene featured… a rabbit race! Enough! I was convinced.
Rabbit is linked with the Moon, and helps one to attune to its phases. If you look at the lunar disc, you can see the rabbit shape that sky-watchers from the Americas and the Far East have seen for thousands of years. The Aztecs said their gods threw a rabbit at the Moon to dim its glow so that it could no longer rival the sun.
Celia, who lives near Bath, England, has always loved animals and when she was a child she wanted to become a vet. She traces a 'golden thread' from her childhood, saying a small child is still close to spirit, and knows things that become buried by social expectation and conditioning. And this thread led her to 'a profound realisation'.
She had just drafted the first part of Simply Totem Animals when she was diagnosed with cancer. 'And this is one of the miracles,' she said. 'It was the experience of cancer that blew the whole tradition wide open for me. It was while I was undergoing chemotherapy that I researched and wrote about the creatures themselves, so poisoned that I was in a liminal state, halfway into the otherworld.
'Yet I couldn't imagine anything better to do at such a time. It was like being surrounded by all those creatures, each of which had their own helpful message. And significantly, before or during each treatment - surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, Herceptin - other creatures not only brought significant messages but some clearly attached themselves to me, and stayed. In the front of the book is a dedication to each.
'So it's over the last three years that the world of totem animals has become brilliantly alive and present to me. And now I've found a peaceful warrior way to do exactly what that little girl wished to do so long ago - to raise consciousness about the spirit of, and our relationship with, creatures other than human.'
Simply Totem Animals
is also very much about reconnecting with nature. Having set ourselves apart from the natural world, she says, we have alienated ourselves from the planet, but working with your totem animal will help you to restore the balance and live harmoniously. ‘One of the most important things in my life is to help people to learn to respect creatures other than human with whom we share Mother Earth,’ said Celia.
Twenty years ago, Celia was working with the Sinixt on cultural preservation, as recounted in her 2006 book, A Twist in Coyote's Tale, and also in the 2010 Canadian docu-drama, Bringing Home the Bones, adapted from that book which tells the remarkable story of Celia's key role in helping the Sinixt restore their ancestral burial grounds. See the 2009/10 Books page for more about Celia, and the Resources page for link to her website.
The Koornwinder Convention, Amsterdam, June 22, 2010
Ancient Wisdom and 21st Century ICT: Decoding the Hidden Structure of the Universe
Every time I drive to and from Bristol International Airport from my home in Somerset, I pass the Stanton Drew stone circles, three impressive rings by the River Chew which are older than the Pyramids, Stonehenge or Avebury.
The time-worn but venerable megaliths in the fields across the river stand in silent testimony to the arcane and ancient science of their builders who may well have been the pioneers of henge-building in prehistoric Britain.
Thus, setting out at the 2010 summer solstice for the international Koornwinder Convention in Amsterdam (and returning from it a few days later), the question of the valuable recovery of this lost science in the present day, and the prospect of an ancient lore to learn and live by, was renewing itself with an optimistic vigour.
For Herma Koornwinder’s prestigious event in the Dutch capital was a meeting of minds inspired by that knowledge and wisdom of the ancient world which is subtly reasserting itself today through the work of many dedicated researchers, authors and conference and other media, particularly in the fields of astro-archaeology and prehistoric geometry and measure. It is just as if the times require it, as if the world now needs to look to its distant past to navigate the way into its uncertain future.
The Koornwinder Convention, however, was unique in its origins which lay, remarkably, in the realm of stock market analysis where Herma (pictured right, addressing the convention) through the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), had identified forces and patterns in the movements of share prices which she later found reflected in her dowsing of earth energies at sacred sites around the world.
These energies and patterns, she discovered, are evidence of a hidden structure or order to the universe founded on number, geometry and proportion, a self-organising principle of creation which helped her to predict accurately and consistently the rises and falls of stock markets over a ten-year period in the 1980s and 1990s.
At the convention, Herma called for fundamental change in the banking and investment industries, asserting that the 21st-century methods for analysing trends in stock markets would, for example, help to restore the losses in pension funds suffered in the financial crises of recent years, and lead to much better risk management of assets.
In a dramatic illustration, Herma showed a series of graphs revealing how individual stock markets around the world fell cascade-like during the six months prior to September 2001, suddenly plummeting on the 10th - the day before the attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and on the Pentagon. 'Share prices are the result of human behaviour and their behaviour creates patterns that show up in graphs,’ she said. ‘It was as if the markets knew!’
Of course, when the idea of the ancient wisdom meets modern sensibilities, there will be incredulity before acceptance among many, but Herma’s crucial cross-disciplinary work will help to raise consciousness and, hopefully, free this inevitable cultural log-jam. As a result of her conference, new energies have been brought to the quest, new connections and correspondences have been revealed, and there will be new avenues of research to explore for all involved.
The event was the first major move in Herma’s mission to bridge the academic and the spiritual spheres - and the importance of her friendship with the Egyptian Sufi healer Mahmoud Eissa, co-producer of her film documentaries, emerged strongly from the proceedings. Here was a key confluence of Western rationalism and Eastern mysticism, of the intellectual and the intuitive, and the harmonising of the domains of the left and right brain.
And moving assuredly behind the conference was the spirit of the Ancient Egyptian goddess Seshat, the deity of communication, of knowledge and wisdom, writing and learning, mathematics and measurement, history and astronomy, all essential aspects of the Koornwinder Convention.
I see Herma’s project as involving an attempt to unite scientific thinking and alternative traditions to suggest the possibility of a much wider and more radical science emerging from the two areas; indeed, to suggest that we might have had such a science, working to a completely different set of principles, available to us for thousands of years, but which were made inaccessible to us by historical events.
The common ground of all the convention speakers, as Mahmoud Eissa indicated at the outset, was how contemporary research was recovering the ancient wisdom at an increasing pace, how it was now being received both academically and spiritually. ‘When I met Herma, she projected the academic side,’ he said, ‘When she asks questions, I can give many answers from my inner knowing. We have to work hard together to receive more of these gifts from God.’
Ahmed Mahmoud, scholar and tour guide, spoke of his own new research into the symbolism of Seshat whose divine arts may well have included dowsing to establish the most auspicious locations and layouts for the temples of Ancient Egypt. ‘When Herma first told me about dowsing, I didn’t believe in it,’ said Ahmed. However, after seeing Herma dowsing in the Tutankhamun exhibition at the Cairo Museum he realised, following a year of research on the subject, that the goddess Seshat could have been connected with dowsing, ‘possibly described by a different name and using different methods or tools’.
World mysteries investigator Bert Janssen, who acted as master of ceremonies as well as being a speaker at the conference, sounded the keynote of the occasion with his view that the event was responding to a need to see ‘the big picture’ - what I would interpret, in this context, as a re-creation of philosophy in the ancient sense of the term, that way of stepping back from the ‘close-up’ everyday position and finding a noumenal pattern in the structures of our universe.
Christopher Knight and Alan Butler, co-authors of Before the Pyramids: Cracking Archaeology’s Greatest Mystery, revealed how ancient knowledge - specifically, in this instance, comprising the measure and geometry used at prehistoric sites in Britain and at the Giza Pyramids - was embodied in the layout of Washington DC when the capital city was founded 200 years ago, and how it has continued to be deployed there down to the present day, under the guardianship of freemasonry.
Robert Bauval and Thomas Brophy, whose collaborative book Black Genesis will be published in March 2011, explained how the origins of pharaonic civilization lay with a black African prehistoric people in the Egyptian Sahara whose geometrically arranged stone circles at Nabta Playa must be, at 7,000BC, among the world’s earliest examples of astronomically aligned monuments. One complex seems to be a map of the Milky Way galaxy, another, a map of the Andromeda galaxy, and yet another, a star-viewing platform.
Leaning towards the occult, Hermetic and Gnostic traditions in attempting to uncover hidden links and threads within the living universe, to which sacred geometry, art and writings point throughout human history, I spoke of how the significance of the ubiquitous spiral form and pattern in nature was recognised in prehistory. The spiral is evidence of a universal organising principle or force at work behind the scenes of our ‘normal’ day-to-day perceptions; for me, crucially, it represents the trajectory of consciousness, the shape of time and the pattern of spiritual growth.
In her closing address to the conference, Herma announced that there would be a further five documentary films to introduce other authors and researchers in the field of ancient knowledge to a broader audience and to combat scepticism in the wider world. There was a need for specialists to work together and learn from one another. Her reading and research over the past ten years had brought her to a higher level of understanding about the way the universe worked.
She described how her use of ICT for stock market analysis, and dowsing rods for the detection of leys and ‘points of power’ at ancient sites and in Washington DC, had revealed a common energy in number sequences and the same patterns and lines of force - whether in share prices or at stone circles, crop circles, pyramids, tombs, temples, monasteries or mosques. Dowsing had been used by ancient cultures and was part of a special system of worldwide knowledge which embraced the use of energy lines and points of power.
‘People from all over the world should unite and bring together their shapes and forms in geometry to create a universal database,’ she said. ‘The scientific community could play a fundamental and invaluable role in establishing scientific proof of our findings by re-introducing new aspects and approaches into science - with the help of ancient knowledge and wisdom.
‘Ancient wise men knew about the system of number and measure and weight in the universe. I strongly pledge to re-introduce this knowledge in our daily lives towards more respect for nature and more sustainability, in an approach to life both on a personal and political level.
‘Let us do away with the old systems and the old investment models. They have had their time and must be superseded in the light of all the disasters that we have been experiencing in the recent past, without an end in sight. Our economic and financial systems must become more reliable and work for everyone rather than only for the very few who are able to speculate on the movements of the market. Let's pay heed to everyone's interest.
‘Interference with worldwide eco-systems for the sake of economic interests the world over must be thoroughly reconsidered if we want to provide a livelihood for our children.’