I wanted to tell you about my weekend.
That simple intention has taken me on a brief but fascinating journey this morning, so I’ll probably end up telling you about that, too.
Let me start by saying that both the weekend and this morning’s journey have involved little more than sitting in a chair. As we all know, huge and wondrous journeys can be experienced that way. We sit in chairs and watch screens, read books, listen to speakers, and new worlds open up. Then – for the majority of us, at least – the desire to move beyond this vicarious existence kicks in, and we feel the need to head away from the chair and to once again immerse ourselves in ‘ordinary life’.
I’ve spent two solid days sitting in a darkened hall at a conference, listening to a glittering array of speakers – academics, field archaeologists, explorers and the odd metaphysician, all immersed in the study of ancient megalithic sites. They had devoted huge portions of their lives to the meticulous observation and measurement of structures, carvings and rows of standing stones and now they had gathered to share their discoveries with us.
Again and again we watched aerial images upon which intricate patterns of geometry had been superimposed. The golden mean, perfectly dissected circles and squares, Pythagorean triangles and Platonic solids hung ethereally above and within structures created – who knows how? – in times at least as far distant from Pythagoras and Plato as those gentlemen are from us. We were shown how only by building at that exact latitude could this or that angle exactly mirror the one created by the sun, the moon or some other significant heavenly body with the Earth at a given time. We marvelled at the accuracy, the deliberation, the sheer effort made by our ancestors to achieve this perfection, only now clear to us thanks to the devotion and vision of the researchers, aided by Google Earth, drones and sophisticated software programs.
I was hunting for a title for this post, and found it in the name of a fine art card I’d purchased at the conference – a sublime piece of artwork by one of the speakers, Nicholas Cope RCA. I’d love to reproduce it here, but didn’t gain permission, so please momentarily click on The artwork to take a look.
This beautiful image sums up the content of the conference I’ve been discussing here rather well. However it was the title which intrigued me even more. It encompassed an idea that had been tugging at my consciousness – just beyond reach of words – throughout the weekend. ‘Where does the idea come from?’ I asked myself. That led to this morning’s journey.
I typed ‘The Illusion of Ordinary Life’ into the search engine and found myself reading an article by V Susan Ferguson, based on the work of one René Guénon.
I’d never heard of him until today, yet here was this French Catholic, turned Sufi, metaphysical intellectual, writing back in the 1940s and encapsulating the very idea that had been nagging at me:
We are devoted to measuring the endless surfaces of what we imagine to be solid matter.
The full article (well worth reading) can be found here. I suspect I’ll be getting better acquainted with Monsieur Guénon over the coming weeks.
You see there were hints – tiny subtle numinous ones – throughout the weekend nudging me towards that utterly obvious idea.
There was the speaker who marvelled that many of his measurements of an ancient artefact came out at an exact, and significant, number of centimetres. (Did the ancients use centimetres??) There was the story recounted by one of my companions of a sarcophagus in Egypt which – she’d been there and experienced it – despite being solid granite was an exact fit for everyone in their party who lay inside it, from a guy 6ft 5 tall to a lady of barely 5ft and all in between. There was a symbologist who showed a dizzying array of connections between words and symbols from widely different cultures and time-frames which could be meshed together to create a perfect whole, with each element adding greatly to the gestalt so formed.
“What’s real,” this lady told the audience, with a knowing smile, “is the space between the forms.”
So, if I can tear myself away from the magical information technology that seamlessly brings me together with concepts, images and ideas from other times and places via electromagnetic waves in the aether, I’ll head off to the garden, to ground myself in the ‘ordinary world’ – the sensory feedback that is integral to my physical experience. As I do so, though, I won’t fall into the trap of pondering the wonders I’ve been shown in the past two days in terms of physicality alone.
We have far more gnosis available to us, far more ways of connecting to the Ancients and their megaliths than with software, tape measure and protractor. Just as the archaeologist’s meticulous drawing of a ground plan gives us only a limited idea of the 3D structure, so that physical structure, as we perceive it in terms of length, width and height, gives only the smallest hint of its full conception and significance. For that we have to relinquish our addiction to the illusion of the physical and move into realms that are not governed by time and space; move into realms more like the ones we connect with on our computers, yet very different.