TheHOPE ~ התקווה
The New Vision 
for Israel & Zion

The Ancient and Future Cosmology

John Michell The dimensions of Paradise 21.10.2013 20:35
The Ancient and Future Cosmology - Bible study - Jerusalem - world redemption - New Israel

John Michell, the master writer on Sacred Geometry and secret history, summarizes the desirable realization of the Heavenly Jerusalem and our work towards this.

   The ancient and future cosmology - Part I

  Final chapter of John Michell's Book: The Dimensions of Paradise.

THE OVERALL PURPOSE of modern speculative physics is to construct a Grand Unified Theory demonstrating mathematically the generation of the physical universe and its underlying dynamics. Ancient scientific meta-physics had a similar but wider function. It attempted to describe not merely the nature of the physical universe but human nature also, and in the same terms, linking the two together as macro cosmic and microcosmic aspects of the one primordial act of creation. The universe, human nature and the mind of the Creator were made commensurable by number, which Plato called the 'bond' holding all things together. Of number was constructed the sacred Canon, the first, most abstract symbol of reality, formalized in the New Jerusalem diagram. That diagram is here identified as the ancient world-image or cosmology.

This chapter is about cosmology, its nature and influences, the ancient perception of its power to shape societies, its present function and the options which are available in adopting a suitable cosmology for these and future

A cosmology in the present sense is an overall view of the world as formed by individuals and by societies as a whole. Everyone has a personal cosmology, compiled from their experiences, prejudices, conclusions, beliefs and wishes, certain features of which are held more or less in common by people of the same culture. The common features in the cosmologies of individuals constitute, and also reflect, the accepted world-view of their societies.

The fundamental importance of cosmology lies in the fact that the images which a person or society projects upon the universe condition their whole experience of life. The universe by definition is all-inclusive and it can also be termed reflexive, implying in it a tendency to respond positively to any conceivable idea applied to it. Thus any system of belief tends to attract evidence and phenomena which seem to confirm it. A cosmology for that reason is a powerful artifact. It serves to actualize the reality which it purports to describe.

Because it shapes the reality he is accustomed to, a person's cosmology becomes his most precious and jealously guarded possession. It is a commonplace of psychoanalysis, confirmed by everyday experience, that people tend to ignore or angrily reject unfamiliar ideas which have no place in their mental cosmologies. Similarly with societies, unorthodox views and observations which run Counter to the established cosmology are not gladly received and may well be suppressed.

The ideal cosmology is the picture of the world which most closely resembles its original. Yet between the original and any rational representation of it there is a dimensional gap. The universe as an organism is a creature of paradox, never entirely predictable, whereas a rational cosmology must be self-consistent. Plato in Parmenides showed that for every general statement which can be made about the universe the opposite statement is equally tenable, thus invalidating all approaches to cosmology which fail to allow the upholding of two contrary ideas at the same time. That necessity is symbolized by the interlaced square and circle at the foundation of the New Jerusalem.

For a cosmology to be successful and lasting it needs to be inclusive, capable of reflecting every possible type of human experience, physical, mental and those which lie in between. The picture of reality which emerges through neutral observation of its various manifestations is different in quality from that obtained through any system of belief, whether it be called science, religion or philosophy. As noted by that shrewd cosmologist, Charles Fort, all such systems are based on 'exclusionism', meaning that they necessarily disregard phenomena which challenge their basic premises. The cult followers of Darwin, Freud, Marx, Einstein and all other systematizers are compelled for the sake of consistency to ignore or devalue testimonies which do not suit their book; and the Church (though avowedly based on faith and therefore less vulnerable to incidents of being proved wrong) has nevertheless felt threatened by every new discovery which went against its temporary dogma.

The result of exclusionism is an incomplete cosmology, restricting both experience and understanding and thus incapable of long endurance. However staunchly it may be defended by its adherents, reality is constantly at work to undermine it. The aspects of nature and humanity which it neglects are those which cause trouble. Like portents unheeded, they become more and more insistent in drawing attention to themselves until the excluding system gives way' or is adapted to accommodate them. An illustration of the type of reaction produced by a one-sided cosmology is given by Oscar Wilde in De Profundis, written from prison in the years following his disgrace.

I remember when I was at Oxford saying to one of my friends as we were strolling round Magdalen's narrow bird-haunted walks one morning in the year before I took my degree, that I wanted to eat of the fruit of all the trees in the garden of the world, and that I was going out into the world with that passion in my soul. And so, indeed, I went out, and so I lived. My only mistake was that I confined myself so exclusively to the trees of what seemed to me the sun-lit side of the garden, and shunned the other side for its shadow and its gloom. Failure, disgrace, poverty, sorrow, despair, suffering, tears even, the broken word that comes from lips in pain, remorse that makes one walk on thorns, conscience that condemns, self-abasement that punishes, the misery that puts ashes on its head, the anguish that chooses sackcloth for its raiment and into its own drink puts gall: - all these were things of which I was afraid. And as I had determined to know nothing of them, I was forced to taste each of them in turn, to feed on them, to have for a season, indeed, no other food at all.

Wilde's experience typifies the consequences of a personal cosmology which rejects any of life's aspects. The same lesson applies to .public cosmologies, those which belong to whole nations or cultures. To the extent that they fail to recognize and allow for all possible elements in human experience they are inadequate, producing friction between convention and reality.

The rulers of our western world today uphold no formal cosmology and tolerate free speculation about the nature of things. Yet at the root of all our institutions there is an undeclared cosmology, a conglomeration of received theories and assumptions which constitute the dominant orthodoxy. In order to perceive its character and inherent tendencies it is necessary to be detached and view it from outside itself; but to those of us who are pan of it, educated within its framework, that is no easy task. An external viewpoint is required, and that is provided ready/made by the traditional form of cosmology which takes human nature as a constant reflection of divinity and values its interests accordingly.

The view of the present which unfolds is of humanity expelled from the centre of the former organic, divinely created cosmos, and placed, irrelevant and purposeless, among the lifeless fragments of a universe constantly expanding. That image may as easily be credited, or as freely rejected, as any other. Inseparable from it, however, and more easily evaluated, are its effects. As the prevailing image of modern scientific cosmology, it gives life to subsidiary images and their corresponding phenomena - the expansionist state, the engrossing corporation, technological developments inimical to human interests - which distinguish the present age from those preceding it. Among the side-effects of modern cosmology is an exaggerated respect for inventiveness, along with aggressive ambition. These and other such expressions of the number 666 operate at the expense of that other side of human nature, its earthly element, which eschews innovations and finds comfort in a traditional order with established customs and continuity of culture.

The lack of a declared humanistic basis to modern cosmology has deprived the present age of the proper yardstick for discerning aberrant developments. Thus policies and institutions are free to flourish which, from the traditional standpoint, appear vain, inhuman and oppressive. Generated by them are equally extreme reactions in such forms as anarchism, nationalism, sectarianism, fundamentalist religion and symptoms of alienation ranging from apathy to terrorism. In traditional terms it would be said that the powers of 666 and 1080 have turned their backs on each other and are competitively engaged in manifesting their grossest forms. The balance thus created is that unstable variety which consists of lurching between extremes.

A mundane comparison is with a vehicle swerving out of control. In that situation the passengers call out for a firm hand at the wheel; and similarly, when societies are in crisis and destruction threatens, the demand arises for a strong leader or dictator. Thus, as Plato shows in the Republic, a society without a basic standard, with no means of discriminating between harmonious and disproportionate forms, is destined to fall under tyranny.

The alternative, more lasting remedy is supplied by traditional philosophy: to discern the nature of the two forces which confront each other across the split down the modern world...order, and to effect their reconciliation through the medium of that constant standard, the ancient canon of proportion. One of its symbols is the axis mundi or world-pole, the central feature of traditional cosmology, which stands fixed and firm amid the ever-changing universe. Its function is like that of a magnetic rod which gives pattern and order to the particles within its field of influence.

Consideration of the cosmological types available for the future reduces their number to three principal categories. First is the modern western variety, based on no fixed standard in nature, formally undefined and shaped by conflicting opinions and interests. Its benign product is the 'open society' lauded by Sir Karl Popper and fellow liberals, which has many attractions but one fatal flaw: an inherent instability which sooner or later overturns it. The second type represents a decline of the first, to the point where standards are found necessary to maintain order, and these are provided by some artificial structure such as personal tyranny, dogmatic religion, 'scientific atheism', Fascist economics or Marxian historical theory. Such impositions are both irksome in practice and inadequate frames to the world and human nature. The security they promise is never actually experienced, for as mere human concepts their eventual destruction or chaotic collapse is assured.

The third possible type of cosmology is as described in this book, the traditional model symbolized by the New Jerusalem. Its character and outline have already been examined. As a synthesis of the proportions and harmonies in the field of number, it depicts the essential structure of the universe and the human mind alike, uniting them both within the comprehension of reason. The ancient philosophers regarded it as the closest approximation to the nature of things that can rationally be conceived. Its potential for wide acceptance and long endurance are not in doubt. The important question is as to the effects it has on people and societies under its influence.

In the New Jerusalem diagram the pole of the universe passes through the centre of the earth which is therefore at the heart of things. That is an optional pattern in terms of scientific astronomy, for in the world of relativity the conceptual centre of the universe is wherever one chooses to locate it. As a cosmological proposition its corollary is that earth-born humanity is central to the universal scheme, and that human nature is no chance by-product but an essential factor of Creation. Since actions at the capital or hub affect the provinces and periphery, the implication is that human deeds and thoughts have influence on the world at large. This view appeals to moralists as tending to promote a sense of purpose and responsibility in individuals, and it is also attractive to mystics for giving sanction to many aspects of experienced reality which the present world..view excludes. It promotes the concept of a reflexive universe, referred to above, which is subjectively but widely evidenced by incidents of telepathy, precognition, coincidences perceived as significant, 'mind over matter' and other such items of common experience. Thus the first effect of traditional cosmology is to restore and sanctify humanism. As illustrated by the medieval and renaissance cosmographies in which the world-centre is the navel of the archetypal man stretched across the whole universe, human nature is understood as the microcosm, partaking in the divine nature and so worthy of being held as a constant standard of reference.

Acceptance of human nature as a true standard (a concept bravely but briefly revived by Pelagius in the fifth century) does not of course imply that any one of its manifest examples is perfect or infallible. Just as the forms of nature - the rose, the crystal and so on - reflect an ideal symmetry which no individual among them ever achieves, so it is with humanity. In deriving all the forms of nature from ideal, unmanifest prototypes, traditional philosophy reverses the evolutionists' notion of human ascent from lower creatures and inculcates the opposite myth, that we are descendants from a divine creation and may properly aspire to re..enter the primeval paradise. That point of view is incompatible with the outlook of modern science; nor does it commend itself to the authorities of church and state who flourish by virtue of the belief that human nature, being flawed, needs constant suppression. (Such a belief is in the interests of tyrants, allowing them to blame the populace for disturbances which might otherwise be attributed to their own policies.) Traditional cosmology therefore calls for a different form of science and a different approach to government from those which obtain today.

The style of government which occurs naturally under the influence of the canonical world-view is a hierarchy representing the order of the heavens. The sacred ruler, king or high priest has a largely ceremonial function. In the social order he corresponds to the sun in the celestial hierarchy and imitates in his daily ritual its journey through the skies. At his coronation he is charged with the mystic energy, known as prana and by many other names, which he transmits through the realm, making it prosperous and fertile. An alchemical symbol of his function is a golden crown lodged in the midst of a tree where the branches meet the trunk - as enacted by King Charles II when he took refuge in an oak. From his position mid-way up the symbolic tree the king draws down the power of 666 through its leaves, and is also sustained by the energy of his earth-bound subjects, the element numbered 1080 in the cosmic equation, rising upwards through its roots. In him are fused together the two opposite elements, and thus is generated the sacred energy which like a benediction pervades the entire country.

In the old state cosmologies the capital city was placed around the navel of the earth, with the citadel and temple at the centre and the king enthroned at the heart of all. This pattern served also as a mental cosmology for individuals; for as the king is to the state so is each person in relation to his surroundings, placed at the centre of his universe and responsible for its ordering. The corresponding political pattern is of a central unifying authority, useful for defense and for balancing famines and gluts in the provinces. Its powers and functions are ritualized, regulated by the canon of proportion applied to statecraft. The intention is to allow the greatest possible degree of autonomy to provinces, communities and individuals. As an illustration of how well this was once achieved in imperial China, it was said that people in remote villages were so little disturbed by the emperor's officials that not even news of his death reached them, and they were still worshipping the same emperor two or three reigns later.

The ancient art of harmonious government was based on the perception of how the conduct of rulers sets the pattern for the whole state. Thus the actions of the king and court were circumscribed and ritually attuned to the cosmic order. The caste of Guardians whom Plato appointed to govern his Republic were to be subject to similar disciplines. Natural disasters and popular disaffection were seen as having the same type of cause, some error in the style of government which upset the balance of forces and produced friction between earth and heaven. Instead of imposing their own invented system and blaming their subjects if they failed to appreciate it, ancient rulers and their advisers were bound to observe and respond to every natural portent, including the changing temper of the people.

In the traditional societies of old China and the East all types of unusual happenings were noted by the local authorities and reported to central government. The noted incidents might include sightings of aerial dragons, strange lights, phantoms and unexplained creatures, odd animal behaviour, monstrous births, meteorological freaks and other such wonders and prodigies. Apparently meaningless in themselves, such things, if widely reported in the same period, were taken as symptoms of psychic unrest presaging some such social or natural upheaval as riots or earthquakes. The meaning of the symptoms was decided upon by astrologers and the appropriate adjustments were made to the style of government. Hellmut Wilhelm in Change, his commentary on the I-Ching, gives examples of flaws in government which, according to the Chinese, have certain consequences in nature. Offences against ritual, the appointment of unworthy persons, the dismissal of the worthy and listening to slander cause outbreaks of fire and strokes of lightning. Excess and wastefulness in the administration bring about heart and abdominal disease, dust storms and earthquakes. Another ill, the black evil, associated with careless observation of marriage rites and the wrong relationship between emperor and people, produces nervousness and diseases of the ear, long cold spells and deaths among animals. In the ancient collection of Chinese texts, brought together in 1050 BC and known as the Great Law, the importance of observing omens is clearly explained:

It is the duty of the government all the time to watch carefully the phenomena of nature, which reflect in the world of nature the order and disorder in the world of government. The government is bound to watch the phenomena of nature in order to be able at once to change what is in need of change. When the course of nature runs properly, it is a sign that the government is good, but when there is some disturbance in nature, it is a sign that there is something wrong in the government. With the help of fixed tables it is possible to learn from the disturbance in nature what is the sin that caused it. Any disturbance in the sun accuses the emperor. A disturbance around the sun accuses the court and the ministers. A disturbance in the moon accuses the queen and the harem. Good weather that lasts too long shows that the emperor is too inactive. Days which continue to be cloudy show that the emperor lacks understanding. Too much rainfall shows that he is unjust. Lack of rain shows that he is careless. Excessive cold shows that he is inconsiderate of others, stormy winds that he is lazy. A good harvest proves that all is well, a bad harvest that the government is at fault.

This old way of looking at things and the old order of values were so different from those orthodox today that at first one can hardly believe that they were once commonly accepted by members of the same human species as ourselves. Yet no one supposes that human nature has changed in recent ages, and the circumstances of life on earth are much the same as they have always been. The days when civilizations were governed by the cosmic canon of proportion are not therefore hopelessly beyond recall; they are separated from us merely by conventions of thought. If we find it in our interest to seek once more a standard of affairs in human and universal nature, there is nothing to inhibit us from doing so. It would be nothing more than a return to orthodoxy.

No one with any sense, who appreciates a quiet life, wants to stir up a hornet's nest by challenging the powerful institutions of the present, or even to waste time campaigning and propagandizing for an alternative cosmology. Radical changes involving the replacement of one world-view by another come in their own good time, when circumstances and human minds are ready for them. The process seems similar to an invocation. The New Jerusalem is not a constructed world-image but a pre-existent archetype which reveals itself, as to St John on Patmos, where there are minds prepared to receive it. As an individual, one can best prepare for changes in the future by taking the New Jerusalem image as a model for structuring the mind, thus acquiring an inclusive personal cosmology which gives insight into the reality behind the apparent forms of the present.

From this perspective one can see historical processes as parallels to those of alchemy, the modern age being evidently one of separatio, often represented in alchemical texts by the dismemberment of a body, in which the elements lose balance and cohesion and split apart from each other. In such terms may be described the rift in the modern world-image, the separation of 666 and 1080 and the clash of ideologies representing the opposite principles.

The next stage in the alchemical model of history, following separatio and the clear discernment of opposites, is coniunctio, where the dispersed, purified elements come together to form a structured organism. From this union there is an offspring who, as in the Christian myth, dies and is resurrected. This completes the first stage of the alchemical process which, historically interpreted, leads to restoration of the age of gold.

A similar analysis of modern times, tending to an optimistic conclusion, Occurs in the Alchemical Studies of C.G. Jung.

The balance of the primordial world is upset. What I have said is not intended as a criticism, for I am deeply convinced not only of the relentless logic but of the expediency of this development. The emphatic differentiation of opposites is synonymous with sharper discrimination, and that is the sine qua non for any broadening or heightening of consciousness.

The dichotomy or loss of balance in the modern world-order is undoubtedly perilous and may well have a cataclysmic outcome. Jung's belief in salvation through the 'broadening or heightening of consciousness' is echoed by many spiritual leaders today, but it is a somewhat general formula, leaving room for further inquiry into the possible shape of affairs following such a change. We have previously contrasted the different types of cosmology: those which are based on a universal standard, rooted in nature, and those which adhere either to no declared standard or to one that is artificial and temporary. The second category is at present in the ascendancy, so any change in consciousness involving a radical shift in cosmology may well restore the first category to favour. In that case, the traditional canon of proportion and its cosmological image, the plan of the New Jerusalem, are as capable today as ever they were in the past of providing the required standard.


The second and concluding part of this chapter is "Heavenly Jerusalem, its invocation and modern function", available at:

For the same message coded in the first verse of Genesis, see:

For this holy work as started by Abraham, see appendices 4 & 5 for portion Lekh Lekha at:

As Basis for founding the Academy of Jerusalem


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