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Re: [sl] Re: Cosmati Pavements

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  • 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 1 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
      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.


      > 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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