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[sacredlandscapelist] Re: Cosmati Pavements

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  • Mike Bispham
    Message text written by INTERNET:sacredlandscapelist@egroups.com ... I m not sure if this is along the lines you are thinking of, but A.E. Waite says of the
    Message 1 of 13 , Dec 16, 1999
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      Message text written by INTERNET:sacredlandscapelist@egroups.com

      Mark wrote:

      >Mike,

      I'm not sure if this is along the lines you are thinking of, but A.E. Waite
      says of the Kabballah that one of the great fundamental principals of it
      is that the trinity is "completed in and realized by the quaternary". By
      which I have always thought he referred to the 3 and 4 letter name of God,
      and
      the Tetragammaton.

      This whole 3 to 4 business is indeed a big deal in the Kabballah, unity = 3
      + 1,
      (a certain way of expressing the idea that there are "3 in 1") I think
      that the connections
      between 4 and 13 were indicative of a numeralogical approach to the ideas
      about
      the trinity and the quaternary.

      In the Kabbalistic book Sepher Yitzarah, the Book of Creation, the
      development of the
      universe is discussed in terms of hexagons and squares, at least that's how
      Waite
      sees it. The subject is rather rich, in my opinion.

      It would not be hard to view the development of the universe as described
      by the SY
      using geometrical terms (sealing the north, south, east & west, above, and
      below with
      the various trigrammatic names of God, IHV) as being a description of the
      development
      of pure space. In this sense, then the progression from plane to solid is
      crucial, as we
      cannot exist in a two dimensional space.

      Mark<

      Mark, thanks; its going to take a while to digest that though. Do you know
      the origin of the Book of Creation?

      Meanwhile I'll go a little further down my particular road, just thinking
      aloud.

      First, I want to paint a picture of the creator of a cathdral, or abbey
      church. In this picture the designer is the _combined intellectual
      impulse_ ...of the bishopric, or diocese or whatever. The subject is
      spiritual belief, the religious culture Christian, but the design comes
      from the combined, or dominant, wisdom of the local school or university,
      and order. As many of these schools were hotbeds of neoplatonism, and
      as, in the early part of the 2nd millenium Rome wasn't really _too_
      bothered about neoplatonism, and especially as Rome was frequently a good
      distance away... the designers were free to express their particular
      blend of Catholisism and Classical Reason. So what we looking for is the
      nature of that blend.

      Now, back to westminster abbey or canterbury cathedral, and their cosmati
      pavements _right by the altars_ ... right up there in the
      this-is-something-important-place.

      The westminster pavement has several inscriptions, the remaining parts of
      one says:

      "If the reader prudently considers all that is set down, he will find here
      the end of the primum mobile. (The field lives three years; add dogs and
      horses and men, stags and ravens, eagles, huge sea serpents, the world:
      whatever follows triples the years of the foregoing.) The sphere shows the
      architype, this globe shows the macrocosm"

      Ignore for a while the part in brackets. First, Robert Grosseteste's (Dean
      of Lincoln cathedral, atomist, excommunicated for a while because of it)...
      definition of the primum mobile:

      "The cause of Unity, Order and Permanance in the Way of Nature"

      Can we look at this _itself_ as being a description of the cosmic physics?
      That the pavement, the illustration of atoms to crystal spheres, beyond
      which is God - is the neoplatonic model. And that that cosmology, that
      matter/structure theory, as espoused in the pavement, and as echoed in the
      building, is, due to its prominance, its depth of presence in the
      structure, pretty much on a par with the remainder of the Catholic package?
      The expression of the reason half of the faith/reason marriage? Science
      and God as One? God the Ultimate Architect? Or simply God = the Primum
      Mobile = The Cause of Unity, Order etc? Is any of this making any sense?

      Mike

      PS its occured to me:

      Mark said:
      <It would not be hard to view the development of the universe as described
      by the SY
      using geometrical terms (sealing the north, south, east & west, above, and
      below with
      the various trigrammatic names of God, IHV) as being a description of the
      development
      of pure space. In this sense, then the progression from plane to solid is
      crucial, as we
      cannot exist in a two dimensional space.>

      That would be as an octahedron? Four corners, above, and below.
    • Dan Washburn
      Mike: When I was in Italy, I noticed several references in guide books to cosmati pavements. There apparently was one family that specialized in this type of
      Message 2 of 13 , Dec 16, 1999
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        Mike:

        When I was in Italy, I noticed several references in guide books to cosmati
        pavements. There apparently was one family that specialized in this type of
        floor design.

        As far as neoplatonic cosmology goes, I think you need to go back before Plato
        to Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans. Take a look at page 271-2 of W K C
        Guthrie's History of Greek Philosophy Vol I (a terrific, lucid book on
        Pyathagoras) where he talks about the 5th element, the dodekahedron, as the
        sphere of the whole (primum mobile?).

        As far as the Sepher Yetzirah is concerned, Leonora Leet has just published a
        book called The Secret Doctrine of the Kabbalah in which she details her ideas
        on the geometric construction of the Tree of Life, part of which have to do
        with the SY and the Octahedron. You might be interested, Mike, because she
        develops various ideas around the Platonic Solids. She's a scholar, a
        professor of English Lit, I believe, and she has studied with the best -- Aryeh
        Kaplan, for example. However, I was very disappointed in the book. Insight
        runs miles ahead of evidence. Vincent, you were going to read Leonora Leet,
        weren't you? What did you think?

        Any possibilities of getting xeroxes from Richard Foster's 'Patterns of
        Thought: The
        Hidden Meaning of the Great Pavement of Westminster Abbey'. I looked for it
        once in the used book market and couldn't find it.

        Dan W.

        Mike Bispham wrote:

        >
        > First, I want to paint a picture of the creator of a cathdral, or abbey
        > church. In this picture the designer is the _combined intellectual
        > impulse_ ...of the bishopric, or diocese or whatever. The subject is
        > spiritual belief, the religious culture Christian, but the design comes
        > from the combined, or dominant, wisdom of the local school or university,
        > and order. As many of these schools were hotbeds of neoplatonism, and
        > as, in the early part of the 2nd millenium Rome wasn't really _too_
        > bothered about neoplatonism, and especially as Rome was frequently a good
        > distance away... the designers were free to express their particular
        > blend of Catholisism and Classical Reason. So what we looking for is the
        > nature of that blend.
        >
        > Now, back to westminster abbey or canterbury cathedral, and their cosmati
        > pavements _right by the altars_ ... right up there in the
        > this-is-something-important-place.
        >
        > The westminster pavement has several inscriptions, the remaining parts of
        > one says:
        >
        > "If the reader prudently considers all that is set down, he will find here
        > the end of the primum mobile. (The field lives three years; add dogs and
        > horses and men, stags and ravens, eagles, huge sea serpents, the world:
        > whatever follows triples the years of the foregoing.) The sphere shows the
        > architype, this globe shows the macrocosm"
        >
        > Ignore for a while the part in brackets. First, Robert Grosseteste's (Dean
        > of Lincoln cathedral, atomist, excommunicated for a while because of it)...
        > definition of the primum mobile:
        >
        > "The cause of Unity, Order and Permanance in the Way of Nature"
        >
        > Can we look at this _itself_ as being a description of the cosmic physics?
        > That the pavement, the illustration of atoms to crystal spheres, beyond
        > which is God - is the neoplatonic model. And that that cosmology, that
        > matter/structure theory, as espoused in the pavement, and as echoed in the
        > building, is, due to its prominance, its depth of presence in the
        > structure, pretty much on a par with the remainder of the Catholic package?
        > The expression of the reason half of the faith/reason marriage? Science
        > and God as One? God the Ultimate Architect? Or simply God = the Primum
        > Mobile = The Cause of Unity, Order etc? Is any of this making any sense?
        >
        > Mike
        >
        > PS its occured to me:
        >
        > Mark said:
        > <It would not be hard to view the development of the universe as described
        > by the SY
        > using geometrical terms (sealing the north, south, east & west, above, and
        > below with
        > the various trigrammatic names of God, IHV) as being a description of the
        > development
        > of pure space. In this sense, then the progression from plane to solid is
        > crucial, as we
        > cannot exist in a two dimensional space.>
        >
        > That would be as an octahedron? Four corners, above, and below.
        >
        > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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        > -- http://www.egroups.com/vote?listname=sacredlandscapelist&m=1
      • Pam Giese
        from Mike: This is what I m thinking about: Say you continue the point - line - plane - geometric progression to the next logical stage: - solid. 1/point -
        Message 3 of 13 , Dec 16, 1999
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          from Mike:
          This is what I'm thinking about: Say you continue the point - line - plane
          - geometric progression to the next logical stage: - solid.
          1/point - 2/line - 3/plane (triangle/timeaun planar atom) - 4/solid, maybe
          4 sided tetrahedron, maybe any solid including sphere.
          ***************
          This corresponds to the Tetraktys of Pythagoras:
          * Unity ,1
          ** Line , 2
          *** Surface, 3
          **** Solid, 4

          The Platonic Lambda is a form of the tetraktys where each step is 2 or 3
          raised to the preceeding power:
          1
          2 3
          4 9
          8 27 1+2+3+4+8+9=27
          Here again is unity. The 1st dimension corresponds to a line (2 to the 1,
          3 to the 1). The 2nd dimension (2 squared or 3 square) represents the plane
          or surface; the power cubed represents 3 dimensional space.

          "The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library" by Kenneth Guthrie has an
          excellent discussion on this. It is published by Phanes Press -so if you're
          following Dan's advice
          and picking up John Mitchell's book, you might as well add this to the
          list.
          Pam
          pgiese@...
          http://www.snd.softfarm.com/pws/pgiese

          "Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light..."
          -----Original Message-----
          From: Mike Bispham <100574.3655@...>
          To: INTERNET:sacredlandscapelist@egroups.com
          <sacredlandscapelist@egroups.com>
          Date: Thursday, December 16, 1999 3:55 PM
          Subject: [sacredlandscapelist] Cosmati Pavements


          Hello list

          I was recently pleasantly surprised by a lead Barry thoughtfully sent to me
          - a reference to a book by Richard Foster called 'Patterns of Thought: The
          Hidden Meaning of the Great Pavement of Westminster Abbey' Barry pointed
          out to me that Foster's thesis, that the pavement signifies an Aristotlian
          matter model, closely paralleled my own work on the ad quadratum and ad
          triangulum 'gothic' design schemes.

          I've been stunned to find, not only that there are many such pavements
          mostly dating from the 13th C., but that, in the words of westminster
          abbey's booklet:

          "The infill patterns are all different, a dazzling display of what can be
          done with just a few basic shapes: those in the transverse square are based
          on hexagons and equilateral triangles, those in the outer square on
          right-angle triangles and squares."

          Which strongly suggests to me that these pavements are indeed cosmic
          models, but definately platonic rather than aristotlian. These shapes are
          Plato's timean triangular atoms - "The most beautiful triangles in the
          world", and of course, to the Neoplatonic mind, what can be built with
          these (two) basic shapes is... via the regular solids, earth air fire and
          water... all of Creation!

          Furthermore, and in opposition to the views of most modern scholars
          regarding cosmati pavements, the catholic encyclopedia gives for 'cosmati'
          exactly what I'd expect: the greek root 'kosmos'. (
          http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04405b.htm)

          Despite being at an early stage in this area, I'm pretty sure that these
          pavements are a neoplatonic/ptolemaic statement of cosmos: built of timean
          atoms with, at their centre, a clear (indeed labelled) model of the crystal
          spheres. From atoms to universe: the whole of Creation. (See attached
          image, and also the abbey site at:

          http://www.westminster-abbey.org/tour/images/cosmati.jpg)

          Now, if I'm right in thinking the above, and if I'm also right in thinking
          the buildings that contain these pavements are also modelled, via the ad
          quad and ad tri schemes, to echo/emulate purest, crystaline matter (see my
          website at http://www.fupro.com/plat) then... some interesting questions
          arise which I though some of you might be able to help out with.

          They concern an area in which I'm rather lost, but which I know some of you
          are familiar with: the mystical? rationale? of: point - line- plane...
          Monad - dyad etc.

          This is what I'm thinking about: Say you continue the point - line - plane
          - geometric progression to the next logical stage: - solid.

          1/point - 2/line - 3/plane (triangle/timeaun planar atom) - 4/solid, maybe
          4 sided tetrahedron, maybe any solid including sphere.

          Each of these stages are I believe significant. So imagine: we are
          standing (by the high altar) of westminster cathedral, upon a cosmic _2
          dimensional_ cosmic pavement, _enclosed by a 3 dimensional_ crystalline
          structure, (the cathedral), and still further by the _crystal_ spheres
          themselves... what?

          We are standing by a holy altar, upon a model of the cosmos, _ in_ a, ok
          I'll say it, man made jewel.

          (Abbot Suger, the known orginator of this style of architecture is known to
          have been obsessed with _light._ Contemporary scientific isses concerning
          the nature of light were at the heart of the atomic debate - ie, was light
          corpuscular or not. Crystal, pure matter, is the only material that admits
          light.)

          Are there some parallels here? Does the movement from 3-ness to 4-ness,
          from plane to solid, say anything significant? Could we suggest for
          instance a parallel concerning intellectual - spiritual? In short, can
          anyone see a way to haul the mystic and scientific together here?

          What I'm hoping is that this picture will enable the reconstruction of the
          full neoplatonic cosmic narrative that informed these structures.
          Absolutely any thoughts will be most welcome. And fulsome thanks again
          Barry for firing me up again.

          Best to all

          Mike


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        • J.Vincent Beall
          ... Well, I started reading it and put it down because it was also disappointing to me. Part three of the book I thought would hold my interest The
          Message 4 of 13 , Dec 16, 1999
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            Dan Washburn wrote:

            > As far as the Sepher Yetzirah is concerned, Leonora Leet has just published a
            > book called The Secret Doctrine of the Kabbalah in which she details her ideas
            > on the geometric construction of the Tree of Life, part of which have to do
            > with the SY and the Octahedron. You might be interested, Mike, because she
            > develops various ideas around the Platonic Solids. She's a scholar, a
            > professor of English Lit, I believe, and she has studied with the best -- Aryeh
            > Kaplan, for example. However, I was very disappointed in the book. Insight
            > runs miles ahead of evidence. Vincent, you were going to read Leonora Leet,
            > weren't you? What did you think?
            >

            Well, I started reading it and put it down because it was also disappointing to me.
            Part three of the book I thought would hold my interest "The Kabbalistic Sacred
            Science of Geometry", but it was very evident that she was not describing a
            science, she was making use of the geometry as an art. She has a huge bibliography
            attached to the book but has left out "The Art of Memory" by Yates. She definitely
            should have read it carefully before she wrote her book because I think it is a big
            mistake to be claiming science for her artful use of geometry.

            As to the secular science section of her book I assume it is more of the same, so
            it may be quite a while before I get to reading it. I have read some early parts of
            the book that were rather informative to me because of the historical imort. I may
            one day read it all straight through, but probably not today. ;-)

            Vincent
          • Barry Carroll
            vincent-- if you have time, can you post a quote of any kind that gives an example of Leet s style? or illustrates what you mean by: it was very evident that
            Message 5 of 13 , Dec 17, 1999
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              vincent--
              if you have time, can you post a quote of any kind that gives an example of
              Leet's style?

              or illustrates what you mean by: "
              it was very evident that she was not describing a
              science, she was making use of the geometry as an art".

              i'm not familiar with her. til i can catch up
              i'd like to get a better sense of where she takes the subject.
              B



              At 01:51 AM 12/17/99 -0500, you wrote:
              >
              >
              >Dan Washburn wrote:
              >
              >> As far as the Sepher Yetzirah is concerned, Leonora Leet has just
              published a
              >> book called The Secret Doctrine of the Kabbalah in which she details her
              ideas
              >> on the geometric construction of the Tree of Life, part of which have to do
              >> with the SY and the Octahedron. You might be interested, Mike, because she
              >> develops various ideas around the Platonic Solids. She's a scholar, a
              >> professor of English Lit, I believe, and she has studied with the best
              -- Aryeh
              >> Kaplan, for example. However, I was very disappointed in the book.
              Insight
              >> runs miles ahead of evidence. Vincent, you were going to read Leonora
              Leet,
              >> weren't you? What did you think?
              >>
              >
              >Well, I started reading it and put it down because it was also
              disappointing to me.
              >Part three of the book I thought would hold my interest "The Kabbalistic
              Sacred
              >Science of Geometry", but it was very evident that she was not describing a
              >science, she was making use of the geometry as an art. She has a huge
              bibliography
              >attached to the book but has left out "The Art of Memory" by Yates. She
              definitely
              >should have read it carefully before she wrote her book because I think it
              is a big
              >mistake to be claiming science for her artful use of geometry.
              >
              >As to the secular science section of her book I assume it is more of the
              same, so
              >it may be quite a while before I get to reading it. I have read some early
              parts of
              >the book that were rather informative to me because of the historical
              imort. I may
              >one day read it all straight through, but probably not today. ;-)
              >
              >Vincent
              >
              >
              >
              >
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              >
              >
              >
            • Mark Swaney
              ... Mike, I think I see what you mean, it is ironic that such a beautiful example of the neo-platonist model appears in the pavement of a cathedral, the
              Message 6 of 13 , Dec 17, 1999
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                > Can we look at this _itself_ as being a description of the cosmic physics?
                > That the pavement, the illustration of atoms to crystal spheres, beyond
                > which is God - is the neoplatonic model. And that that cosmology, that
                > matter/structure theory, as espoused in the pavement, and as echoed in the
                > building, is, due to its prominance, its depth of presence in the
                > structure, pretty much on a par with the remainder of the Catholic package?
                > The expression of the reason half of the faith/reason marriage? Science
                > and God as One? God the Ultimate Architect? Or simply God = the Primum
                > Mobile = The Cause of Unity, Order etc? Is any of this making any sense?

                Mike,

                I think I see what you mean, it is ironic that such a beautiful example of
                the neo-platonist model appears in the pavement of a cathedral, the citadel of
                the church, which later became a bitter enemy of neo-platonism. The pavements
                are from the 13th century, roughly two hundred years before the renaissance, in
                that comfortable time when truth was viewed as being all of one piece. As I
                understand this period, it was a time when the relationship between the church
                and the intellectuals was fairly cordial. As long as the intellectuals who
                made their philosophical theories of the universe did not postulate something
                radically at odds with Christianity, then it wasn't so bad. Under these
                conditions, the church encouraged intellectual pursuits, and wanted to be in
                harmony with the "latest knowledge", even take advantage of the latest
                knowledge, unless the latest knowledge conflicted with certain precepts of the
                church, of "faith". So, I think that the church itself accepted as true many
                of the
                philosophical/cosmological theories of the platonists and neo-platonists.
                Marsilio Ficino was a priest, so were other neo-platonists, like Giorgi.

                You demonstrate what I think is an important point, that it is
                intellectually possible to unite a view of the physical universe with a
                spiritual view. I think that in ancient times that is exactly what all
                religion was based on. Now, all we have is the husk of a dried-out inherited
                DEAL that was made to save a political/theocratic establishment that passed
                away about 400 years ago.

                The problem for the church came when philosophers wanted to become more
                than pure thinkers and started to ACT on the "latest knowledge". Now the
                church had to contemplate its own position as purveyor of "magical" effects -
                Christian Magic - to be sure, but still viewed by the church itself as
                religious magic. If anyone could do magical things (heal the sick for example)
                simply by knowing the proper rules (what planets have what influence, etc.)
                then the church had lost it's monopoly on what we in the 21st century call
                "practical psychological magic". And it was specifically the assumed linkage
                between the truth of physical reality and the truth of spiritual reality that
                was such a threat. The fact that we today can even conceive of a difference
                between the two is itself a product of the aftermath of the renaissance.

                I don't believe the neo-platonist theories were scientifically correct. I
                think that modern criticism of the occultists is accurate - that stuff that
                Ficino and the others believed in was hokum. And attempts to imitate it now
                are also hokum. But the theories of Ficino, and Pico, and the Kabbalists and
                the Hermeticists, and the Neo-Platonists, had to my mind some highly redeeming
                features that deserve consideration in the 21st century. They at least aimed
                higher than our modern thinkers dare. They imagined, conceived, and in a
                sense, created, a unified vision of existence, a very beautiful, almost
                intoxicating, view of reality in which the truth of ones physical life could be
                made commensurate with the universe. That they failed or were suppressed
                should not, I think, discourage us from trying again.

                Mark
              • Mike Bispham
                Thanks Mark, and everyone else who s helping out here. My copy of Fosters book has now arrived, and it illuminates these questions perfectly, if, in my view,
                Message 7 of 13 , Dec 17, 1999
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                  Thanks Mark, and everyone else who's helping out here. My copy of Fosters
                  book has now arrived, and it illuminates these questions perfectly, if, in
                  my view, incompletely.

                  His central argument, very well made, is that the westminster pavement is a
                  complex model which fully illustrates the contemporary neoplatonic
                  cosmology, (although he admits, in specific terms, his is but one of any
                  number of interpretations.) This argument is developed from the widespread
                  existence of similar but more specific paintings, illustrations and
                  mosiacs, all designed to illustrate the well developed elemental model, its
                  beautiful internal numerical harmony, and its connections to medicine
                  (through the humours), astrology, and sometimes more. The attached example
                  is taken from a 12th C. schema from St John Collage, Oxford. I won't give
                  every detail because the picture is pretty complex; but the numerics are as
                  follows, directly from Foster:

                  "In the process of harmonising neo-Platonic teaching with that of the
                  Bible, the Church Fathers had identified the caelum et terram created by
                  God in the opening words of Genesis with the Elements of Fire and Earth:

                  "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." In the Timaeus,
                  Plato describes Fire and Earth as the first two Elements to be created, an
                  opposing pair which were reconciled by the creation of two intermediate
                  Elements, Air and Water. The {further}reconciliation of the four Elements
                  was achieved not only by the [additional] qualities of Hot, Cold, Dry and
                  Moist, but also .
                  quantitively by giving them numerical values.

                  The numerical treatment of the theme of the four Elements plaited together
                  strands from both the Pythagorean and the Platonic traditions. Being
                  primal, the Elements must be represented by, or derive from, the simplest
                  numbers. Since I was reserved for the divine unity of God, the first two
                  numbers that could possibly be used to represent the first two Elements to
                  be created, Fire and Earth, were 2 and 3. However, these numbers were not
                  considered adequate in themselves. ' A simple number can represent only
                  one dimension, in visual terms a line. By analogy, a square number, for
                  example 4 (2*2), may represent a surface area, that is, a plane figure. But
                  for material and spatial existence, three dimensions are necessary. Theon
                  of Smyrna, the Greek mathematician, wrote that 3 "is the first bond and
                  power of the solid; for in three dimensions is the solid concieved . Thus
                  the appropriate numbers for the first two Elements had to be the cubes of
                  the first two available numbers, 2 and 3. So Fire was assigned the number
                  8, and Earth the number 27. [2*2*2 and 3*3*3 respectfully. See Pam's post
                  on the Tetraktys of Pythagoras and the Platonic Lambda]

                  The extremes of Fire and Earth, 8 and 27, then had to be reconciled by
                  bonds which were sufficiently strong, in the numerical sense, to hold
                  together the whole of the created world. Between two square numbers (those
                  re representing plane figures) a single mean is sufficient, but for cube
                  numbers (solid figures) two means are needed. These means are I2 ( 2 X 2
                  X3) and I 8 ( 2 X3 X 3 ). So the intermediary Elements of Air and Water
                  received the mean numbers of I2 and I 8 respectively. The numbers of the
                  Elements, therefore, form a progression in which each individual Element is
                  bound to its neighbour by the ratio of 2 : 3 one of the
                  favourite harmonic ratios of the Pythagoreans, known as the sesquialter,
                  the sixth of the proportions described by Nicomachus of Gerasa in his
                  _Introduction to Arithmetic, c. AD 100_. In this way the Elements that
                  'seem to oppose each other' were united into a stable and well-tuned
                  harmony'. "

                  It seems that this cosmology was very well established by the 13th C., and
                  schemata like the attached example were many and varied - and often found
                  in ecclesiastic settings. As you say Mark, "a unified vision of
                  existence, a very beautiful, almost intoxicating, view of reality in which
                  the truth of ones physical life could be made commensurate with the
                  universe". To contemplate such a model from within a fabulous,
                  cosmologically attuned cathedral, listening to simple harmonic singing,
                  must have quite an experience.

                  I suspect the more detailed parts of the theory, concerning the timean
                  atoms, were slowly 'brushed out', and became esoteric, available to
                  initiates only. Even the regular solids are left out of these models;
                  possibly these aspects of the elemental theory became uncomfortable
                  immediataly after the Council of Nicea (300 odd ad), where trinititarianism
                  was established as the godheads nature, and questions of substance became
                  awkward. (The east, ruled from byzantium disagreed, as did later,
                  Mohammed. And this mosaic style, like so much else, is known to have been
                  introduced to the west from these sources). And about this time (13th C.)
                  the elevation of the sacrement of the eucharist to the liturgy made the
                  continuation of the neoplatonic model impossible. (Foster though doesn't
                  mention the 'great controversy' at all) I have records of 16th C.
                  injunctions against 'the geometry of indivisibles', but nothing that
                  specific this early - just the Lateran Council rulings against anything
                  'leading to error' about the sacrement, which were I think the first
                  effective condemnations of the atomistic cosmology.

                  I thoroughly recommend Foster's book, although its hard to get hold of,
                  well worth the effort to find a secondhand copy.

                  Mike

                  PS, Dan, from Pam's post: "...so if you're following Dan's advice and
                  picking up John Mitchell's book,..." I didn't get any post recommending
                  this book? Could you re-send to me if I've missed one? And

                  >Any possibilities of getting xeroxes from Richard Foster's 'Patterns of
                  Thought: The Hidden Meaning of the Great Pavement of Westminster Abbey'. <

                  Sure, emailed images anyway.


                  Message text written by INTERNET:sacredlandscapelist@egroups.com (Mark)
                  >> Can we look at this _itself_ as being a description of the cosmic
                  physics?
                  > That the pavement, the illustration of atoms to crystal spheres, beyond
                  > which is God - is the neoplatonic model. And that that cosmology, that
                  > matter/structure theory, as espoused in the pavement, and as echoed in
                  the
                  > building, is, due to its prominance, its depth of presence in the
                  > structure, pretty much on a par with the remainder of the Catholic
                  package?
                  > The expression of the reason half of the faith/reason marriage? Science
                  > and God as One? God the Ultimate Architect? Or simply God = the Primum
                  > Mobile = The Cause of Unity, Order etc? Is any of this making any sense?

                  Mike,

                  I think I see what you mean, it is ironic that such a beautiful example
                  of
                  the neo-platonist model appears in the pavement of a cathedral, the citadel
                  of
                  the church, which later became a bitter enemy of neo-platonism. The
                  pavements
                  are from the 13th century, roughly two hundred years before the
                  renaissance, in
                  that comfortable time when truth was viewed as being all of one piece. As
                  I
                  understand this period, it was a time when the relationship between the
                  church
                  and the intellectuals was fairly cordial. As long as the intellectuals who
                  made their philosophical theories of the universe did not postulate
                  something
                  radically at odds with Christianity, then it wasn't so bad. Under these
                  conditions, the church encouraged intellectual pursuits, and wanted to be
                  in
                  harmony with the "latest knowledge", even take advantage of the latest
                  knowledge, unless the latest knowledge conflicted with certain precepts of
                  the
                  church, of "faith". So, I think that the church itself accepted as true
                  many
                  of the
                  philosophical/cosmological theories of the platonists and neo-platonists.
                  Marsilio Ficino was a priest, so were other neo-platonists, like Giorgi.

                  You demonstrate what I think is an important point, that it is
                  intellectually possible to unite a view of the physical universe with a
                  spiritual view. I think that in ancient times that is exactly what all
                  religion was based on. Now, all we have is the husk of a dried-out
                  inherited
                  DEAL that was made to save a political/theocratic establishment that passed
                  away about 400 years ago.

                  The problem for the church came when philosophers wanted to become more
                  than pure thinkers and started to ACT on the "latest knowledge". Now the
                  church had to contemplate its own position as purveyor of "magical" effects
                  -
                  Christian Magic - to be sure, but still viewed by the church itself as
                  religious magic. If anyone could do magical things (heal the sick for
                  example)
                  simply by knowing the proper rules (what planets have what influence, etc.)
                  then the church had lost it's monopoly on what we in the 21st century call
                  "practical psychological magic". And it was specifically the assumed
                  linkage
                  between the truth of physical reality and the truth of spiritual reality
                  that
                  was such a threat. The fact that we today can even conceive of a
                  difference
                  between the two is itself a product of the aftermath of the renaissance.

                  I don't believe the neo-platonist theories were scientifically correct.
                  I
                  think that modern criticism of the occultists is accurate - that stuff that
                  Ficino and the others believed in was hokum. And attempts to imitate it
                  now
                  are also hokum. But the theories of Ficino, and Pico, and the Kabbalists
                  and
                  the Hermeticists, and the Neo-Platonists, had to my mind some highly
                  redeeming
                  features that deserve consideration in the 21st century. They at least
                  aimed
                  higher than our modern thinkers dare. They imagined, conceived, and in a
                  sense, created, a unified vision of existence, a very beautiful, almost
                  intoxicating, view of reality in which the truth of ones physical life
                  could be
                  made commensurate with the universe. That they failed or were suppressed
                  should not, I think, discourage us from trying again.

                  Mark
                  <
                • J.Vincent Beall
                  The Secret Doctrine of the Kabbalah Part three: The Kabbalistic Sacred Science of Geometry page 209-210
                  Message 8 of 13 , Dec 17, 1999
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                    The Secret Doctrine of the Kabbalah

                    Part three: The Kabbalistic Sacred Science of Geometry

                    page 209-210

                    <<It is precisely the controls involved in the actual construction of geometric models that give to such models a truth value lacking in an arbitrarily "invented" theoretical model. And it is also through the attention paid to the "accidental" properties of the model that new insights can be  generated regarding the structure of the domain intuitively recognized to be isomorphic to the model: "A promising model is one with implications rich enough to suggest novel hypotheses and speculations in the primary field of investigation-- in short, to see new connections." Black's analysis of the scientific use of models, like Hirsch's analysis of the interpretive process, is shown to begin with "interpretive guesses" and then to move to the cannons of validation by which they can be tested: "We can determine the validity of a given model by checking the extent of its isomorphism with its intended application." In its use of models, then, scientific theorizing approximates the interpretive methods used in the construing of a literary text, not the processes of logical syllogism but the more intuitive processes of associative reasoning, a metaphorical apprehension of similarity between dissimilars.>>

                    This is a paragraph that I found of some interest, but I think she isn't clear about what she expects of a model. If the model is to be predictive then it is more like a scientific model.

                    She speaks of accidents of a model pointing to new speculations, and I find this interesting. More reading on my part will be required to determine how much she was able to impress in her model. It would seem that if the accidental properties of a model are to be examined with the expectation of forming good hypotheses then we must also be confident that the model is carrying substantial attributes of our system in the first place.

                    It seems to me that some models would have more accidents than others and the accidents of a model would be in some proportion fortunate and some unfortunate. In otherwords how well does the model 'map' the area of possible speculations, and fruitful speculation?

                    Vincent
                     
                     
                     
                     
                     

                    Barry Carroll wrote:

                    vincent--
                    if you have time, can you post a quote of any kind that gives an example of
                    Leet's style?

                    or illustrates what you mean by: "
                     it was very evident that she was not describing a
                    science, she was making use of the geometry as an art".

                    i'm not familiar with her. til i can catch up
                    i'd like to get a better sense of where she takes the subject.
                    B

                    At 01:51 AM 12/17/99 -0500, you wrote:
                    >
                    >
                    >Dan Washburn wrote:
                    >
                    >> As far as the Sepher Yetzirah is concerned, Leonora Leet has just
                    published a
                    >> book called The Secret Doctrine of the Kabbalah in which she details her
                    ideas
                    >> on the geometric construction of the Tree of Life, part of which have to do
                    >> with the SY and the Octahedron.  You might be interested, Mike, because she
                    >> develops various ideas around the Platonic Solids.  She's a scholar, a
                    >> professor of English Lit, I believe, and she has studied with the best
                    -- Aryeh
                    >> Kaplan, for example.  However, I was very disappointed in the book.
                    Insight
                    >> runs miles ahead of evidence.  Vincent, you were going to read Leonora
                    Leet,
                    >> weren't you?  What did you think?
                    >>
                    >
                    >Well, I started reading it and put it down because it was also
                    disappointing to me.
                    >Part three of the book I thought would hold my interest "The Kabbalistic
                    Sacred
                    >Science of Geometry", but it was very evident that she was not describing a
                    >science, she was making use of the geometry as an art. She has a huge
                    bibliography
                    >attached to the book but has left out "The Art of Memory" by Yates. She
                    definitely
                    >should have read it carefully before she wrote her book because I think it
                    is a big
                    >mistake to be claiming science for her artful use of geometry.
                    >
                    >As to the secular science section of her book I assume it is more of the
                    same, so
                    >it may be quite a while before I get to reading it. I have read some early
                    parts of
                    >the book that were rather informative to me because of the historical
                    imort. I may
                    >one day read it all straight through, but probably not today. ;-)
                    >
                    >Vincent
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    >-- Talk to your group with your own voice!
                    >-- http://www.egroups.com/VoiceChatPage?listName=sacredlandscapelist&m=1
                    >
                    >
                    >

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                  • Mike Bispham
                    Vincent, did you send an image? If so, my mailer won t open it. Could you re-send in a different format by any chance? Mike
                    Message 9 of 13 , Dec 18, 1999
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                      Vincent, did you send an image? If so, my mailer won't open it. Could you
                      re-send in a different format by any chance?

                      Mike
                    • C G
                      Hope you all won t mind me following up on an earlier discussion about the Cosmati Pavement of the Westminster Abbey. Part of me feels weird about trying to
                      Message 10 of 13 , Feb 21, 2012
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                        Hope you all won't mind me following up on an earlier discussion about the Cosmati Pavement of the Westminster Abbey. Part of me feels weird about trying to rekindle a conversation that has lain dormant for some time but part of me is inspired to be interested in it again, and I thought that there might be someone out there who may also share my interest. That's what discussion lists are for, right? Even ones that have lain dormant for some time? Otherwise, forgive the intrusion into your inbox.

                        First, a big thanks to Mike and all the others below for educating me about this topic. I knew nothing about it before coming to this list.

                        Second, for anyone else who may not know, Westminster Abbey is where the coronation of 38 English kings and queens occurred over the past 765 years, including the current queen in 1953. It is also where Kate and William were married in 2011.

                        A bit of background: Westminster Abbey, technically called "The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster", had been important prior to the cathedral we now know. It had been the coronation site of Norman kings, for example, but none were buried there until Henry III rebuilt the abbey. My understanding is that he wanted England to have a cathedral as good (and Gothic) as any in France!

                        Anyway, the area directly in front of the altar is, obviously, sacred in and of itself. But what makes this Abbey's altar space truly unique is the intricate mosaic tile floor. It is referred to as the "Cosmati Pavement" after the four generations of Roman family of marble workers who perfected the tiling technique. (My understanding is that the marble in the Abbey came from crushed Roman sculptures and the porphyry came from Egypt. So there are really interesting connections with previous empires here.)

                        For the past 150 years or so, the pavement was so seriously deteriorated it was only able to be used when covered over. In other words, when the queen's coronation took place in 1953, the area in front of the altar was carpeted.

                        I don't know when the carpet was removed (1980s?) but I do know that between 2008 and 2010 the mosaic floor was painstakingly restored, thanks to the Getty Foundation. This means that Kate and William's wedding in 2011 was the first high level royal function to occur on top of the newly restored space. Here is a picture of it, from directly above. It is pretty amazing, take a look if you haven't already:

                        http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/files/2011/04/New-Cosmati-floor-complete1.jpg

                        You can see that the design is perfectly square, with a smaller square set within. A final transverse square occupies the central spot, like a sitting diamond. Twenty-nine circles are woven throughout the design (five in each corner, five in the center, and four bounding the transverse square). None of the circles are actually separate from their surroundings...they "weave" into something around them. It is hard to tell in the picture but my understanding is that all of the infill patterns are different and no two circles are the same. For example, "orbiting" circles around the transverse square are circular, hexagonal, heptagonal, and octagonal. There are also four rectangles spaced between the groups of circles in the corner. Finally, the five circles in the middle resemble a kind of cross.

                        (Just as an aside, if there are any quilters out there, this lady has quilted her own version of this cosmic pattern: http://www.thequiltshow.com/os/blog.php/blog_id/3787 )

                        Okay, now to the meat and potatoes of my post. As Mike and others point out below, this pavement has deeper meanings. The inscription on the floor is said to state the following:

                        "In the year of Christ one thousand two hundred and twelve plus sixty minus four, the third King Henry, the city, Odoricus and the abbot put these porphyry stones together.

                        If the reader wisely considers all that is laid down, he will find here the end of the primum mobile; a hedge (lives for) three years, add dogs and horses and men, stags and ravens, eagles, enormous whales, the world: each one following triples the years of the one before.

                        The spherical globe here shows the archetypal macrocosm."

                        My question relates to the math. All of the websites I checked out state that the end of the world is here implied as 19,683 years. According to my calculation, that 19,683 is simply the last number of the world (which is three times the preceding number, which is three times that preceding number, and so on.)

                        Here are the numbers and related animals:

                        Hedge: 3
                        Dog: 9
                        Horse: 27
                        Men: 81
                        Stag: 243
                        Raven: 729
                        Eagle: 2187
                        Whale: 6561
                        World: 19,683

                        My beef is with the addition. The "world" is NOT the primum mobile. That is reserved for the bounding sphere of the cosmos, of which the world is but a part.

                        There are two possibilities: do we multiply 19,683 by 3 to get the age of the primum mobile (19,683 x 3 = 59049)? Or do we add, as instructed, all of the numbers together to get that age (3+9+27+81+243+729+2187+6561+19,683 = 29,523)?

                        29,523 looks familiar to me but I can't figure out why.
                        The square root of 59049 is 243.

                        What do you folks think? How would you interpret the instructions?

                        As an aside, I found this gnostic tidbit from the following website:

                        "The most interesting item on the list, here translated "enormous whales," was actually referred to as "sea serpents" on the archeology program "Time Teams" on British television, with a very mythical lifespan attributed to them.

                        Sea serpents, also known as "dragons," were very important to our ancestors. The Leviathan of the Hebrews, and Tiamat of the Sumerians, were viewed as representations of the primordial chaos that had given birth to the universe, and would one day swallow it again (or in the case of Leviathan, be swallowed itself). In the meantime, a monarch must always reign on the throne of the Lord of the Earth. By bearing the weight of the premium mobile on his own shoulders, he prevents chaos from overtaking the earth, and postpones the day of judgment. This is the image of St. George subduing the dragon that is now emblematic of England, for whom he is the patron saint. Although George was not one of them, the English frequently canonized their monarchs, attributing saintly and magical qualities to them, including the ability to heal and to protect their kingdom from evil."

                        http://projectavalon.net/forum4/showthread.php?18343-The-Cosmati-Pavement

                        Be well,

                        Chris





                        --- In sacredlandscapelist@yahoogroups.com, Mike Bispham <100574.3655@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Thanks Mark, and everyone else who's helping out here. My copy of Fosters
                        > book has now arrived, and it illuminates these questions perfectly, if, in
                        > my view, incompletely.
                        >
                        > His central argument, very well made, is that the westminster pavement is a
                        > complex model which fully illustrates the contemporary neoplatonic
                        > cosmology, (although he admits, in specific terms, his is but one of any
                        > number of interpretations.) This argument is developed from the widespread
                        > existence of similar but more specific paintings, illustrations and
                        > mosiacs, all designed to illustrate the well developed elemental model, its
                        > beautiful internal numerical harmony, and its connections to medicine
                        > (through the humours), astrology, and sometimes more. The attached example
                        > is taken from a 12th C. schema from St John Collage, Oxford. I won't give
                        > every detail because the picture is pretty complex; but the numerics are as
                        > follows, directly from Foster:
                        >
                        > "In the process of harmonising neo-Platonic teaching with that of the
                        > Bible, the Church Fathers had identified the caelum et terram created by
                        > God in the opening words of Genesis with the Elements of Fire and Earth:
                        >
                        > "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." In the Timaeus,
                        > Plato describes Fire and Earth as the first two Elements to be created, an
                        > opposing pair which were reconciled by the creation of two intermediate
                        > Elements, Air and Water. The {further}reconciliation of the four Elements
                        > was achieved not only by the [additional] qualities of Hot, Cold, Dry and
                        > Moist, but also .
                        > quantitively by giving them numerical values.
                        >
                        > The numerical treatment of the theme of the four Elements plaited together
                        > strands from both the Pythagorean and the Platonic traditions. Being
                        > primal, the Elements must be represented by, or derive from, the simplest
                        > numbers. Since I was reserved for the divine unity of God, the first two
                        > numbers that could possibly be used to represent the first two Elements to
                        > be created, Fire and Earth, were 2 and 3. However, these numbers were not
                        > considered adequate in themselves. ' A simple number can represent only
                        > one dimension, in visual terms a line. By analogy, a square number, for
                        > example 4 (2*2), may represent a surface area, that is, a plane figure. But
                        > for material and spatial existence, three dimensions are necessary. Theon
                        > of Smyrna, the Greek mathematician, wrote that 3 "is the first bond and
                        > power of the solid; for in three dimensions is the solid concieved . Thus
                        > the appropriate numbers for the first two Elements had to be the cubes of
                        > the first two available numbers, 2 and 3. So Fire was assigned the number
                        > 8, and Earth the number 27. [2*2*2 and 3*3*3 respectfully. See Pam's post
                        > on the Tetraktys of Pythagoras and the Platonic Lambda]
                        >
                        > The extremes of Fire and Earth, 8 and 27, then had to be reconciled by
                        > bonds which were sufficiently strong, in the numerical sense, to hold
                        > together the whole of the created world. Between two square numbers (those
                        > re representing plane figures) a single mean is sufficient, but for cube
                        > numbers (solid figures) two means are needed. These means are I2 ( 2 X 2
                        > X3) and I 8 ( 2 X3 X 3 ). So the intermediary Elements of Air and Water
                        > received the mean numbers of I2 and I 8 respectively. The numbers of the
                        > Elements, therefore, form a progression in which each individual Element is
                        > bound to its neighbour by the ratio of 2 : 3 one of the
                        > favourite harmonic ratios of the Pythagoreans, known as the sesquialter,
                        > the sixth of the proportions described by Nicomachus of Gerasa in his
                        > _Introduction to Arithmetic, c. AD 100_. In this way the Elements that
                        > 'seem to oppose each other' were united into a stable and well-tuned
                        > harmony'. "
                        >
                        > It seems that this cosmology was very well established by the 13th C., and
                        > schemata like the attached example were many and varied - and often found
                        > in ecclesiastic settings. As you say Mark, "a unified vision of
                        > existence, a very beautiful, almost intoxicating, view of reality in which
                        > the truth of ones physical life could be made commensurate with the
                        > universe". To contemplate such a model from within a fabulous,
                        > cosmologically attuned cathedral, listening to simple harmonic singing,
                        > must have quite an experience.
                        >
                        > I suspect the more detailed parts of the theory, concerning the timean
                        > atoms, were slowly 'brushed out', and became esoteric, available to
                        > initiates only. Even the regular solids are left out of these models;
                        > possibly these aspects of the elemental theory became uncomfortable
                        > immediataly after the Council of Nicea (300 odd ad), where trinititarianism
                        > was established as the godheads nature, and questions of substance became
                        > awkward. (The east, ruled from byzantium disagreed, as did later,
                        > Mohammed. And this mosaic style, like so much else, is known to have been
                        > introduced to the west from these sources). And about this time (13th C.)
                        > the elevation of the sacrement of the eucharist to the liturgy made the
                        > continuation of the neoplatonic model impossible. (Foster though doesn't
                        > mention the 'great controversy' at all) I have records of 16th C.
                        > injunctions against 'the geometry of indivisibles', but nothing that
                        > specific this early - just the Lateran Council rulings against anything
                        > 'leading to error' about the sacrement, which were I think the first
                        > effective condemnations of the atomistic cosmology.
                        >
                        > I thoroughly recommend Foster's book, although its hard to get hold of,
                        > well worth the effort to find a secondhand copy.
                        >
                        > Mike
                        >
                        > PS, Dan, from Pam's post: "...so if you're following Dan's advice and
                        > picking up John Mitchell's book,..." I didn't get any post recommending
                        > this book? Could you re-send to me if I've missed one? And
                        >
                        > >Any possibilities of getting xeroxes from Richard Foster's 'Patterns of
                        > Thought: The Hidden Meaning of the Great Pavement of Westminster Abbey'. <
                        >
                        > Sure, emailed images anyway.
                        >
                        >
                        > Message text written by INTERNET:sacredlandscapelist@egroups.com (Mark)
                        > >> Can we look at this _itself_ as being a description of the cosmic
                        > physics?
                        > > That the pavement, the illustration of atoms to crystal spheres, beyond
                        > > which is God - is the neoplatonic model. And that that cosmology, that
                        > > matter/structure theory, as espoused in the pavement, and as echoed in
                        > the
                        > > building, is, due to its prominance, its depth of presence in the
                        > > structure, pretty much on a par with the remainder of the Catholic
                        > package?
                        > > The expression of the reason half of the faith/reason marriage? Science
                        > > and God as One? God the Ultimate Architect? Or simply God = the Primum
                        > > Mobile = The Cause of Unity, Order etc? Is any of this making any sense?
                        >
                        > Mike,
                        >
                        > I think I see what you mean, it is ironic that such a beautiful example
                        > of
                        > the neo-platonist model appears in the pavement of a cathedral, the citadel
                        > of
                        > the church, which later became a bitter enemy of neo-platonism. The
                        > pavements
                        > are from the 13th century, roughly two hundred years before the
                        > renaissance, in
                        > that comfortable time when truth was viewed as being all of one piece. As
                        > I
                        > understand this period, it was a time when the relationship between the
                        > church
                        > and the intellectuals was fairly cordial. As long as the intellectuals who
                        > made their philosophical theories of the universe did not postulate
                        > something
                        > radically at odds with Christianity, then it wasn't so bad. Under these
                        > conditions, the church encouraged intellectual pursuits, and wanted to be
                        > in
                        > harmony with the "latest knowledge", even take advantage of the latest
                        > knowledge, unless the latest knowledge conflicted with certain precepts of
                        > the
                        > church, of "faith". So, I think that the church itself accepted as true
                        > many
                        > of the
                        > philosophical/cosmological theories of the platonists and neo-platonists.
                        > Marsilio Ficino was a priest, so were other neo-platonists, like Giorgi.
                        >
                        > You demonstrate what I think is an important point, that it is
                        > intellectually possible to unite a view of the physical universe with a
                        > spiritual view. I think that in ancient times that is exactly what all
                        > religion was based on. Now, all we have is the husk of a dried-out
                        > inherited
                        > DEAL that was made to save a political/theocratic establishment that passed
                        > away about 400 years ago.
                        >
                        > The problem for the church came when philosophers wanted to become more
                        > than pure thinkers and started to ACT on the "latest knowledge". Now the
                        > church had to contemplate its own position as purveyor of "magical" effects
                        > -
                        > Christian Magic - to be sure, but still viewed by the church itself as
                        > religious magic. If anyone could do magical things (heal the sick for
                        > example)
                        > simply by knowing the proper rules (what planets have what influence, etc.)
                        > then the church had lost it's monopoly on what we in the 21st century call
                        > "practical psychological magic". And it was specifically the assumed
                        > linkage
                        > between the truth of physical reality and the truth of spiritual reality
                        > that
                        > was such a threat. The fact that we today can even conceive of a
                        > difference
                        > between the two is itself a product of the aftermath of the renaissance.
                        >
                        > I don't believe the neo-platonist theories were scientifically correct.
                        > I
                        > think that modern criticism of the occultists is accurate - that stuff that
                        > Ficino and the others believed in was hokum. And attempts to imitate it
                        > now
                        > are also hokum. But the theories of Ficino, and Pico, and the Kabbalists
                        > and
                        > the Hermeticists, and the Neo-Platonists, had to my mind some highly
                        > redeeming
                        > features that deserve consideration in the 21st century. They at least
                        > aimed
                        > higher than our modern thinkers dare. They imagined, conceived, and in a
                        > sense, created, a unified vision of existence, a very beautiful, almost
                        > intoxicating, view of reality in which the truth of ones physical life
                        > could be
                        > made commensurate with the universe. That they failed or were suppressed
                        > should not, I think, discourage us from trying again.
                        >
                        > Mark
                        > <
                        >
                      • danw@netmastersinc.com
                        Hi, Chris Fascinating stuff. Back in those days we really had a command of facts and language! My gut feeling is that to reach the primum mobile level you
                        Message 11 of 13 , Feb 23, 2012
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                          Hi, Chris

                          Fascinating stuff. Back in those days we really had a command of facts
                          and language!

                          My gut feeling is that to reach the primum mobile level you need to add
                          the animal ages. As you say that is essentially how the instructions
                          read.
                          29,523 sounds astronomical to me -- the rotation of the galaxy, the
                          precession of the equinoxes?

                          Thanks for bringing this back from your archaeological researches.

                          Dan



                          > Hope you all won't mind me following up on an earlier discussion about the
                          > Cosmati Pavement of the Westminster Abbey. Part of me feels weird about
                          > trying to rekindle a conversation that has lain dormant for some time but
                          > part of me is inspired to be interested in it again, and I thought that
                          > there might be someone out there who may also share my interest. That's
                          > what discussion lists are for, right? Even ones that have lain dormant for
                          > some time? Otherwise, forgive the intrusion into your inbox.
                          >
                          > First, a big thanks to Mike and all the others below for educating me
                          > about this topic. I knew nothing about it before coming to this list.
                          >
                          > Second, for anyone else who may not know, Westminster Abbey is where the
                          > coronation of 38 English kings and queens occurred over the past 765
                          > years, including the current queen in 1953. It is also where Kate and
                          > William were married in 2011.
                          >
                          > A bit of background: Westminster Abbey, technically called "The Collegiate
                          > Church of St Peter at Westminster", had been important prior to the
                          > cathedral we now know. It had been the coronation site of Norman kings,
                          > for example, but none were buried there until Henry III rebuilt the abbey.
                          > My understanding is that he wanted England to have a cathedral as good
                          > (and Gothic) as any in France!
                          >
                          > Anyway, the area directly in front of the altar is, obviously, sacred in
                          > and of itself. But what makes this Abbey's altar space truly unique is the
                          > intricate mosaic tile floor. It is referred to as the "Cosmati Pavement"
                          > after the four generations of Roman family of marble workers who perfected
                          > the tiling technique. (My understanding is that the marble in the Abbey
                          > came from crushed Roman sculptures and the porphyry came from Egypt. So
                          > there are really interesting connections with previous empires here.)
                          >
                          > For the past 150 years or so, the pavement was so seriously deteriorated
                          > it was only able to be used when covered over. In other words, when the
                          > queen's coronation took place in 1953, the area in front of the altar was
                          > carpeted.
                          >
                          > I don't know when the carpet was removed (1980s?) but I do know that
                          > between 2008 and 2010 the mosaic floor was painstakingly restored, thanks
                          > to the Getty Foundation. This means that Kate and William's wedding in
                          > 2011 was the first high level royal function to occur on top of the newly
                          > restored space. Here is a picture of it, from directly above. It is pretty
                          > amazing, take a look if you haven't already:
                          >
                          > http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/files/2011/04/New-Cosmati-floor-complete1.jpg
                          >
                          > You can see that the design is perfectly square, with a smaller square set
                          > within. A final transverse square occupies the central spot, like a
                          > sitting diamond. Twenty-nine circles are woven throughout the design (five
                          > in each corner, five in the center, and four bounding the transverse
                          > square). None of the circles are actually separate from their
                          > surroundings...they "weave" into something around them. It is hard to tell
                          > in the picture but my understanding is that all of the infill patterns are
                          > different and no two circles are the same. For example, "orbiting" circles
                          > around the transverse square are circular, hexagonal, heptagonal, and
                          > octagonal. There are also four rectangles spaced between the groups of
                          > circles in the corner. Finally, the five circles in the middle resemble a
                          > kind of cross.
                          >
                          > (Just as an aside, if there are any quilters out there, this lady has
                          > quilted her own version of this cosmic pattern:
                          > http://www.thequiltshow.com/os/blog.php/blog_id/3787 )
                          >
                          > Okay, now to the meat and potatoes of my post. As Mike and others point
                          > out below, this pavement has deeper meanings. The inscription on the floor
                          > is said to state the following:
                          >
                          > "In the year of Christ one thousand two hundred and twelve plus sixty
                          > minus four, the third King Henry, the city, Odoricus and the abbot put
                          > these porphyry stones together.
                          >
                          > If the reader wisely considers all that is laid down, he will find here
                          > the end of the primum mobile; a hedge (lives for) three years, add dogs
                          > and horses and men, stags and ravens, eagles, enormous whales, the world:
                          > each one following triples the years of the one before.
                          >
                          > The spherical globe here shows the archetypal macrocosm."
                          >
                          > My question relates to the math. All of the websites I checked out state
                          > that the end of the world is here implied as 19,683 years. According to my
                          > calculation, that 19,683 is simply the last number of the world (which is
                          > three times the preceding number, which is three times that preceding
                          > number, and so on.)
                          >
                          > Here are the numbers and related animals:
                          >
                          > Hedge: 3
                          > Dog: 9
                          > Horse: 27
                          > Men: 81
                          > Stag: 243
                          > Raven: 729
                          > Eagle: 2187
                          > Whale: 6561
                          > World: 19,683
                          >
                          > My beef is with the addition. The "world" is NOT the primum mobile. That
                          > is reserved for the bounding sphere of the cosmos, of which the world is
                          > but a part.
                          >
                          > There are two possibilities: do we multiply 19,683 by 3 to get the age of
                          > the primum mobile (19,683 x 3 = 59049)? Or do we add, as instructed, all
                          > of the numbers together to get that age
                          > (3+9+27+81+243+729+2187+6561+19,683 = 29,523)?
                          >
                          > 29,523 looks familiar to me but I can't figure out why.
                          > The square root of 59049 is 243.
                          >
                          > What do you folks think? How would you interpret the instructions?
                          >
                          > As an aside, I found this gnostic tidbit from the following website:
                          >
                          > "The most interesting item on the list, here translated "enormous whales,"
                          > was actually referred to as "sea serpents" on the archeology program "Time
                          > Teams" on British television, with a very mythical lifespan attributed to
                          > them.
                          >
                          > Sea serpents, also known as "dragons," were very important to our
                          > ancestors. The Leviathan of the Hebrews, and Tiamat of the Sumerians, were
                          > viewed as representations of the primordial chaos that had given birth to
                          > the universe, and would one day swallow it again (or in the case of
                          > Leviathan, be swallowed itself). In the meantime, a monarch must always
                          > reign on the throne of the Lord of the Earth. By bearing the weight of the
                          > premium mobile on his own shoulders, he prevents chaos from overtaking the
                          > earth, and postpones the day of judgment. This is the image of St. George
                          > subduing the dragon that is now emblematic of England, for whom he is the
                          > patron saint. Although George was not one of them, the English frequently
                          > canonized their monarchs, attributing saintly and magical qualities to
                          > them, including the ability to heal and to protect their kingdom from
                          > evil."
                          >
                          > http://projectavalon.net/forum4/showthread.php?18343-The-Cosmati-Pavement
                          >
                          > Be well,
                          >
                          > Chris
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > --- In sacredlandscapelist@yahoogroups.com, Mike Bispham <100574.3655@...>
                          > wrote:
                          >>
                          >> Thanks Mark, and everyone else who's helping out here. My copy of
                          >> Fosters
                          >> book has now arrived, and it illuminates these questions perfectly, if,
                          >> in
                          >> my view, incompletely.
                          >>
                          >> His central argument, very well made, is that the westminster pavement
                          >> is a
                          >> complex model which fully illustrates the contemporary neoplatonic
                          >> cosmology, (although he admits, in specific terms, his is but one of any
                          >> number of interpretations.) This argument is developed from the
                          >> widespread
                          >> existence of similar but more specific paintings, illustrations and
                          >> mosiacs, all designed to illustrate the well developed elemental model,
                          >> its
                          >> beautiful internal numerical harmony, and its connections to medicine
                          >> (through the humours), astrology, and sometimes more. The attached
                          >> example
                          >> is taken from a 12th C. schema from St John Collage, Oxford. I won't
                          >> give
                          >> every detail because the picture is pretty complex; but the numerics are
                          >> as
                          >> follows, directly from Foster:
                          >>
                          >> "In the process of harmonising neo-Platonic teaching with that of the
                          >> Bible, the Church Fathers had identified the caelum et terram created by
                          >> God in the opening words of Genesis with the Elements of Fire and Earth:
                          >>
                          >> "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." In the
                          >> Timaeus,
                          >> Plato describes Fire and Earth as the first two Elements to be created,
                          >> an
                          >> opposing pair which were reconciled by the creation of two intermediate
                          >> Elements, Air and Water. The {further}reconciliation of the four
                          >> Elements
                          >> was achieved not only by the [additional] qualities of Hot, Cold, Dry
                          >> and
                          >> Moist, but also .
                          >> quantitively by giving them numerical values.
                          >>
                          >> The numerical treatment of the theme of the four Elements plaited
                          >> together
                          >> strands from both the Pythagorean and the Platonic traditions. Being
                          >> primal, the Elements must be represented by, or derive from, the
                          >> simplest
                          >> numbers. Since I was reserved for the divine unity of God, the first
                          >> two
                          >> numbers that could possibly be used to represent the first two Elements
                          >> to
                          >> be created, Fire and Earth, were 2 and 3. However, these numbers were
                          >> not
                          >> considered adequate in themselves. ' A simple number can represent only
                          >> one dimension, in visual terms a line. By analogy, a square number, for
                          >> example 4 (2*2), may represent a surface area, that is, a plane figure.
                          >> But
                          >> for material and spatial existence, three dimensions are necessary.
                          >> Theon
                          >> of Smyrna, the Greek mathematician, wrote that 3 "is the first bond and
                          >> power of the solid; for in three dimensions is the solid concieved .
                          >> Thus
                          >> the appropriate numbers for the first two Elements had to be the cubes
                          >> of
                          >> the first two available numbers, 2 and 3. So Fire was assigned the
                          >> number
                          >> 8, and Earth the number 27. [2*2*2 and 3*3*3 respectfully. See Pam's
                          >> post
                          >> on the Tetraktys of Pythagoras and the Platonic Lambda]
                          >>
                          >> The extremes of Fire and Earth, 8 and 27, then had to be reconciled by
                          >> bonds which were sufficiently strong, in the numerical sense, to hold
                          >> together the whole of the created world. Between two square numbers
                          >> (those
                          >> re representing plane figures) a single mean is sufficient, but for cube
                          >> numbers (solid figures) two means are needed. These means are I2 ( 2 X 2
                          >> X3) and I 8 ( 2 X3 X 3 ). So the intermediary Elements of Air and Water
                          >> received the mean numbers of I2 and I 8 respectively. The numbers of the
                          >> Elements, therefore, form a progression in which each individual Element
                          >> is
                          >> bound to its neighbour by the ratio of 2 : 3 one of the
                          >> favourite harmonic ratios of the Pythagoreans, known as the sesquialter,
                          >> the sixth of the proportions described by Nicomachus of Gerasa in his
                          >> _Introduction to Arithmetic, c. AD 100_. In this way the Elements that
                          >> 'seem to oppose each other' were united into a stable and well-tuned
                          >> harmony'. "
                          >>
                          >> It seems that this cosmology was very well established by the 13th C.,
                          >> and
                          >> schemata like the attached example were many and varied - and often
                          >> found
                          >> in ecclesiastic settings. As you say Mark, "a unified vision of
                          >> existence, a very beautiful, almost intoxicating, view of reality in
                          >> which
                          >> the truth of ones physical life could be made commensurate with the
                          >> universe". To contemplate such a model from within a fabulous,
                          >> cosmologically attuned cathedral, listening to simple harmonic singing,
                          >> must have quite an experience.
                          >>
                          >> I suspect the more detailed parts of the theory, concerning the timean
                          >> atoms, were slowly 'brushed out', and became esoteric, available to
                          >> initiates only. Even the regular solids are left out of these models;
                          >> possibly these aspects of the elemental theory became uncomfortable
                          >> immediataly after the Council of Nicea (300 odd ad), where
                          >> trinititarianism
                          >> was established as the godheads nature, and questions of substance
                          >> became
                          >> awkward. (The east, ruled from byzantium disagreed, as did later,
                          >> Mohammed. And this mosaic style, like so much else, is known to have
                          >> been
                          >> introduced to the west from these sources). And about this time (13th
                          >> C.)
                          >> the elevation of the sacrement of the eucharist to the liturgy made the
                          >> continuation of the neoplatonic model impossible. (Foster though
                          >> doesn't
                          >> mention the 'great controversy' at all) I have records of 16th C.
                          >> injunctions against 'the geometry of indivisibles', but nothing that
                          >> specific this early - just the Lateran Council rulings against anything
                          >> 'leading to error' about the sacrement, which were I think the first
                          >> effective condemnations of the atomistic cosmology.
                          >>
                          >> I thoroughly recommend Foster's book, although its hard to get hold of,
                          >> well worth the effort to find a secondhand copy.
                          >>
                          >> Mike
                          >>
                          >> PS, Dan, from Pam's post: "...so if you're following Dan's advice and
                          >> picking up John Mitchell's book,..." I didn't get any post recommending
                          >> this book? Could you re-send to me if I've missed one? And
                          >>
                          >> >Any possibilities of getting xeroxes from Richard Foster's 'Patterns
                          >> of
                          >> Thought: The Hidden Meaning of the Great Pavement of Westminster Abbey'.
                          >> <
                          >>
                          >> Sure, emailed images anyway.
                          >>
                          >>
                          >> Message text written by INTERNET:sacredlandscapelist@egroups.com (Mark)
                          >> >> Can we look at this _itself_ as being a description of the cosmic
                          >> physics?
                          >> > That the pavement, the illustration of atoms to crystal spheres,
                          >> beyond
                          >> > which is God - is the neoplatonic model. And that that cosmology,
                          >> that
                          >> > matter/structure theory, as espoused in the pavement, and as echoed in
                          >> the
                          >> > building, is, due to its prominance, its depth of presence in the
                          >> > structure, pretty much on a par with the remainder of the Catholic
                          >> package?
                          >> > The expression of the reason half of the faith/reason marriage?
                          >> Science
                          >> > and God as One? God the Ultimate Architect? Or simply God = the
                          >> Primum
                          >> > Mobile = The Cause of Unity, Order etc? Is any of this making any
                          >> sense?
                          >>
                          >> Mike,
                          >>
                          >> I think I see what you mean, it is ironic that such a beautiful
                          >> example
                          >> of
                          >> the neo-platonist model appears in the pavement of a cathedral, the
                          >> citadel
                          >> of
                          >> the church, which later became a bitter enemy of neo-platonism. The
                          >> pavements
                          >> are from the 13th century, roughly two hundred years before the
                          >> renaissance, in
                          >> that comfortable time when truth was viewed as being all of one piece.
                          >> As
                          >> I
                          >> understand this period, it was a time when the relationship between the
                          >> church
                          >> and the intellectuals was fairly cordial. As long as the intellectuals
                          >> who
                          >> made their philosophical theories of the universe did not postulate
                          >> something
                          >> radically at odds with Christianity, then it wasn't so bad. Under these
                          >> conditions, the church encouraged intellectual pursuits, and wanted to
                          >> be
                          >> in
                          >> harmony with the "latest knowledge", even take advantage of the latest
                          >> knowledge, unless the latest knowledge conflicted with certain precepts
                          >> of
                          >> the
                          >> church, of "faith". So, I think that the church itself accepted as true
                          >> many
                          >> of the
                          >> philosophical/cosmological theories of the platonists and
                          >> neo-platonists.
                          >> Marsilio Ficino was a priest, so were other neo-platonists, like Giorgi.
                          >>
                          >> You demonstrate what I think is an important point, that it is
                          >> intellectually possible to unite a view of the physical universe with a
                          >> spiritual view. I think that in ancient times that is exactly what all
                          >> religion was based on. Now, all we have is the husk of a dried-out
                          >> inherited
                          >> DEAL that was made to save a political/theocratic establishment that
                          >> passed
                          >> away about 400 years ago.
                          >>
                          >> The problem for the church came when philosophers wanted to become
                          >> more
                          >> than pure thinkers and started to ACT on the "latest knowledge". Now
                          >> the
                          >> church had to contemplate its own position as purveyor of "magical"
                          >> effects
                          >> -
                          >> Christian Magic - to be sure, but still viewed by the church itself as
                          >> religious magic. If anyone could do magical things (heal the sick for
                          >> example)
                          >> simply by knowing the proper rules (what planets have what influence,
                          >> etc.)
                          >> then the church had lost it's monopoly on what we in the 21st century
                          >> call
                          >> "practical psychological magic". And it was specifically the assumed
                          >> linkage
                          >> between the truth of physical reality and the truth of spiritual reality
                          >> that
                          >> was such a threat. The fact that we today can even conceive of a
                          >> difference
                          >> between the two is itself a product of the aftermath of the renaissance.
                          >>
                          >> I don't believe the neo-platonist theories were scientifically
                          >> correct.
                          >> I
                          >> think that modern criticism of the occultists is accurate - that stuff
                          >> that
                          >> Ficino and the others believed in was hokum. And attempts to imitate it
                          >> now
                          >> are also hokum. But the theories of Ficino, and Pico, and the
                          >> Kabbalists
                          >> and
                          >> the Hermeticists, and the Neo-Platonists, had to my mind some highly
                          >> redeeming
                          >> features that deserve consideration in the 21st century. They at least
                          >> aimed
                          >> higher than our modern thinkers dare. They imagined, conceived, and in
                          >> a
                          >> sense, created, a unified vision of existence, a very beautiful, almost
                          >> intoxicating, view of reality in which the truth of ones physical life
                          >> could be
                          >> made commensurate with the universe. That they failed or were
                          >> suppressed
                          >> should not, I think, discourage us from trying again.
                          >>
                          >> Mark
                          >> <
                          >>
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > ------------------------------------
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