a chapter of revelations
From the Astrological Association Journal 1973,
when Pam Crane was Pam Bennett
This year's Sun-Uranus conjunction found me back again in Cambridge, just one month after the Association Conference. My reason for being there was an eleventh-hour phone-call from Michael Heleus (see Astrological Journal. Autumn 1972), announcing his presence there for a special meeting in Newnham College organised by Christine Janis; its purpose was to introduce a representative body of Zoology students to the principles of Astrology, with emphasis on the Harmonic theory and observed natural correspondences. Michael accordingly tackled the more complex mathematical side, and I followed up with my ideas on astrological correlations with the genetic code. The following morning at coffee the discussion continued with several interested tutors; and even if we convinced nobody, certainly a number of our audience were visibly impressed, and we both felt the visit had been well worth while.
However, Cambridge had a surprise to spring! . . . With train times in mind, we were working our way back toward the station on the Thursday morning, when Michael decided to take this last opportunity to look up Paul Dirac, and we found ourselves directed to our delight to dear St. John's, lately our haunt and hostelry!
While Michael was engaged in conversation with the friendly porter, a man came in behind us. He was a new Music Fellow, and wanted the keys to the organ loft in the chapel. Now, all the previous day Michael had been fretting to find an organ he might play, for the Cambridge atmosphere lacked harmony - and here at last was to be an unlocked church and an organ playing! We looked at each other and walked briskly after the Fellow.
The music that swelled in the pillared aisle was rich and glorious. I was almost too absorbed to notice Michael's attempts to attract my attention. Eventually I looked where he was pointing: there at our feet in the apse floor before the altar was the Zodiac.
Of all the things one expected to find in a Victorian chapel, this was the last! Perhaps other Astrologers were aware of its existence; but on enquiry we found that it had in fact been covered with a carpet for many, many years, and was only revealed to public gaze about three years ago! Is the ‘heresy’ of Astrology no longer a threat to the Church? I would wish this were so, and through interest not indifference.
But there was more to discover; we almost forgot the music in the fascination of exploring the tiled pavement. The arrangement of the Signs is more or less as follows:
The Zodiac, despite its importance in the scheme, is never mentioned in the chapel guidebook. If I may briefly quote from this, all it says is, ". . . the tiled pavement of the sanctuary being especially noteworthy. The first level of the apse floor, visible from the altar rail, has as its main motif a series of large tiles depicting Old Testament scenes." I must say, I would like to re-examine these in their context; we had so little time that Thursday.
Then Michael found something else. He showed me the Sagittarius tile by our feet. "Look at the S at the beginning and end!" he said. "That is the Cosmic S!" This I had never heard of before; but there it was, the two S's split into crescents, and never repeated on any other tile - all other S's were normal. Surely this must be of importance in connecting the sign of Sagittarius with the Transcendent, a sign of its direction toward the Galactic Centre.
This discovery created an appetite for more; and we carefully examined the symbols - which were traditionally pictorial - and the inscriptions and the surrounding patterns for significance. The quotations from the Bible are in Latin; I would like to research their implication some time. The tile patterns are very varied and geometrical, containing all major harmonic divisions, and potentially a numerolo-gist's paradise; I cheered on finding one based on 32 and 64 - the last number having intimate connections with both the genetic code and the Chinese I Ching - the latter with its 64 hexagrams of broken and unbroken lines, and the former with 64 possible combinations of the four base "letters" into groups of three.
Whilst looking at patterns, something else caught my eye; each of the zodiacal signs was bordered by one of two motifs, one more or less trefoiled, the other, to my recollection, reminiscent of "spades"- though having no record of these designs I can only describe them approximately. But the distribution of these motifs was irregular, in an overall design in which order was paramount! Closer inspection revealed the following two groups of five signs (exclusive of Virgo and Pisces) connected by their corner motifs:
ARIES - GEMINI - LEO - SAGITTARIUS - CAPRICORN
TAURUS - CANCER - LIBRA - SCORPIO - AQUARIUS.
In such an ordered arrangement, this curious grouping had to mean something, just as the broken S was uniquely significant in Sagittarius. Accordingly, I began to mull over the possibilities.
At first sight there seemed to be little logic in the connections, with such a mixture of elements and qualities. There was a preponderance of Fire in the first group, and of Fixity in the second; in the first there was only one negative sign, Capricorn, and no Water, and in the second no Fire.
Perhaps the groups should be translated as numbers? The result of this exercise was as follows:
1-3 - 5 - 9 - 10 and 2 - 4 - 7 - 8 - 11.
Virgo and Pisces formed a separate sub-group of 6 - 12.
A Pattern Emerges
Now a pattern was beginning to emerge; the first group contained two principles, those of three-ness and five-ness, in that:
1 + 1 + 1 =3: 3+3+3=9: 5+5=10 (1 and 3 each being added 3 times). The second group exhibited in the same way the principle of two-ness:
2+2 = 4: 4+4 = 8 (both 2 and 4 being added twice to yield the sum). What here remained was a link between the principles of 7 and 11.
Ostensibly there seemed none, except that here were two harmonics - the two out of the twelve major numbers that were impossible to divide evenly into the 360° circle, and that each had a mystical significance.
It was obviously necessary to examine their relationship further, and so the seventh and the eleventh harmonics were plotted on a chart from 0° Aries, the 7ths in red, the llths in green, and this was examined for any significant relationships in terms of other harmonic aspects.
It would be interesting to extend this concept to the entire three-dimensional sphere, if no-one has yet done so.
The order in which the aspects appear from the initial conjunction is as follows:
CONJUNCTION / llth / 7th - QUINTILE / TRINE /SESQUI-QUADRATE - SEMISQUARE / BIQUINTILE / OPPOSITION / QUINCUNX - DECILE / SQUARE - SEMISEXTILE / SEXTILE - 9th (NOVILE).
1 wonder if one can infer anything from the order in which the aspects are grouped? Or from their disposition in the whole pattern thus formed? These questions may form for some a basis for philosophical or interpretive speculation. Perhaps the association of the Quintile and the Sesquiquadrate with the trine invites them to join the ranks of the Friendly aspects, and the Biquintile's link with the problematic Opposition, Quincunx and Semi-square might imply that it too is an aspect denoting some difficulty, maybe in material/spiritual integration, and emphasising its necessity. Note that the less commonly used aspects of 7th, llth and 9th relate in this way only to the conjunction, the Source-point, and to no other aspects through their own source-points - only to aspects at their terminal degrees.
The Group Sequence
If one were to read the group sequence as a Life Sentence (!) it might translate thus:
Source - Endowment - Problem - Action - Solution - Reward. I choose Reward for the Novile, as 9 suggests the 9th sign Sagittarius, that aims towards the Galactic Centre and perhaps, with its Divine significance, toward the ultimate Heaven; not the pole, but the eventual goal of the Life that springs from the Conjunction.
Looking afresh at the importance of 7 and 11 in this now extended context, there is an interesting link in that the 7 classical planets have now been increased to 11 since the discoveries of Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and, we assume, Persephone (not yet! - Ed.) ( But now we certainly have Ceres as a dwarf planet. Pam, 2010). Perhaps She will be the final stage in the evolution of Man from matter to Spirit. But the trans-Saturnian Planets have always been there, discovered or no, their finer influences essential to the very humanity of the visible, tangible man. Without them, only the ape, I suspect, would remain; with them, the Solar creature grows slowly, painfully, ecstatically out toward the Galaxy.
Alfred Douglas relates the 7th with the llth card in the Tarot, the llth representing "the passive, inner strength of steadfast purpose", the 7th "the positive outer strength of action", both springing from self-knowledge and proper discipline; and here may lie the key to the connection of 7 and 11 with 2, 4 and 8 in the St. John's Zodiac, for it is through the conflicts, paradoxes, problems and stimuli of life that such strengths are won. These three numbers are also numbers of extension, direction, solidity, interaction and propagation, the essential materials for the embodiment and expression of the Cosmic principles. In a series of notes I made on the interpretation of the numerical principles I find 7 defined as "Encounter" and 11 as "Evolution/ Mutation"; if one is to accept the idea that Man as a spiritual entity initially entered the bodily vehicle provided by the cerebrally-developed anthropoid, these terms gain in significance within the current context.
What of the series, 1 -3-5-9-10? The emphasis on Fire implies that the spiritual rather than the mental/material orientation of Man is here presented. The one Earth sign is Capricorn, in which we celebrate the Incarnation of Spirit in the birth of Christ; the one Air sign is Gemini, the most purely mental of the triplicity, and representative of the concept of Trinity, being the third sign of the Zodiac. Trinity and Spirituality is paramount in this series, 1 - 3-9 being the key to the growth of Mind from its primitive self-consciousness through intellect and social intercourse to fuller comprehension and ultimate Wisdom, 1-5-9 showing the growth of the spiritual entity from that same raw point of life into the self-conscious Solar creature, and then the expanded awareness of Cosmic Being. Each stage in this series is the beginning of a new kind, or phase, of mental or spiritual life, implying the survival of this vital part of Man after the body is outworn and cast off. 5 - 10 again symbolises beginning, but here there is a difference: 5 breathes Life into the material body (of 4), 10 following the exalted freedom of 9 reintroduces Earth, the Spirit returning once more to follow another cycle of experience and growth within the limits and disciplines of the material universe.
A Qualitative Link
Through the two series 1 eventually grows to 11, the two Earth signs, Capricorn and Taurus, forming a qualitative link between the groups, an end meeting a beginning as the developed spirit incarnates. Material existence ends in Aquarius, where the principle of Uranus effects the change from the aged and reflective human being to the Divine Spark once more in the Fire of Aries. It is a potent image of the true origin and evolution of Man; for we start in the realms of Spirit and Mind, of Fire and Air, until Capricorn gives physical birth to the souls in search of experience. Through gravity, through incarnation, we return to Spiritual life by the enrichment of the Mind in relationship with others, in Libra and Aquarius. Additionally, each series may be taken as a cycle in itself, the material growing in parallel with the spiritual, for 1 comes to 10, which is 1 (1+0), and 2 comes to 11, which is 2 (1 + 1); so we may not experience the long evolution from plane to plane, but go through cycle after cycle of material development, or remain in Spirit to learn, grow, be tested, and learn again.
No account has yet been taken of 6 and 12, Virgo and Pisces. Their special placing at either end of the 10-sign rectangle refers no doubt to their particular significance of the Virgin and Christ, Virgo the Maiden, and the Fish, Ichthys, one of the symbols of Christ. Because both 6 and 12 are compounds of 2 and 3, these signs form an essential link between the two five-fold groups, just as Mary and Jesus intercede between the Christian and God, and show him the way to resurrection. Adjacent to Leo, Virgo both conceives and serves the Spiritual Man; adjacent to Aquarius, Pisces receives the grown mind of Man into the Etheric, into Peace, into Perfection, so that it may pass rested and healed into its new universe. How many images of this transition are of water - crossing the Styx, bathing in the waters of Lethe . . . And between the Mother and the Son pass ten lunar months of evolution.
Perhaps the man who designed this pavement explained its symbolic intention to those who might otherwise have rejected the whole idea as heresy; it was certainly an achievement to have such work incorporated into a Victorian chapel. Its designer, we discovered, was George Gilbert Scott, who was commissioned to replace the original 13th century chapel, and it was consecrated on May 12th, 1869. I would like to find out whether Scott was entirely responsible for the Zodiac, and if so, what kind of man he was.
There is a curious (?) sequel to this episode in Cambridge; I spent the weekend of January 12th-14th in Oxford, which I had not visited for years, let alone explored. As my host and I were walking by Christ-Church fields, it occurred to me to tell him about the Cambridge visit, and was just about to mention Scott's name when he remarked on the building we were passing, and told me that it was designed by George Gilbert Scott! We went on to see the beautiful Burne-Jones tapestry in Exeter College Chapel, and yet again I found myself in one of Scott's buildings, of, I believe, the same date, and with identical tiles on the aisle and apse floor. But here there was no Zodiac to be seen; the home of Astrology seems to be in Cambridge!
It is particularly interesting to find signs of the zodiac in a Victorian chapel and, since the article was written, details of the Old Testament tiles and the Latin inscriptions round the edges have been obtained by Martin Freeman. There are other zodiacs in churches and other unlikely buildings around the country of which the following list was obtained from the British Museum a few years ago:
Font in Brookland Church, Kent.
Very ancient stone, Kirkmichael churchyard, Isle of Man.
Tympanum of doorway, Stoke-sub-Hampdon Church, Somerset (Norman).
Around porch, St. Margaret's Church, Walmgate, York (Stephen's reign).
South doorway of church, Barfreston, Kent (Norman).
Normal pillar capitals of original Westminster Hall.
Doorway of Dunstable Church.St. Austell's Church, Cornwall.
Around west doorway of Jffley Church, Oxon. (Norman).
Around doorway of Kenilworth Church, Warwickshire.
Around doorway of Brinsop Church, Gloucestershire.
On set of encaustic tiles in chancel of Bredon Church, Warwickshire.
On capitals of the 12 choir pillars, Carlisle Cathedral.
On bosses of wood groining in east walk of cloister of Lincoln Cathedral.
Rudely carved on circular stones in pavement of Trinity Chapel, north transept, Canterbury Cathedral.
On the stone bosses of a vaulted passage between two quadrangles with arms of Henry VII of Warden Fitzjames. Marston College,Oxford.
On dial of astronomical clock, Hampton Court Palace, Egyptian order 1540.
In Victoria and Albert Museum, Exhibit Nos. 112, 132, 107, 125, 3, 24685, 638, 1104, 2291, 1881, 800, 92, 116, 3516, 3530, 3534.
Under east window of Beverley Minster. ,
Around porch of St. Mary's Church, Shrewsbury.
On capitals of twelve wooden pillars of Butterwalk, Dartmouth.
On pulpit cushion of Archbishop Laud, Library of St. John's College, Oxford.
In compartments on a silk band in Stonyhurst College, Lancashire.
On pulpit, Stokenham Church, Devonshire.
Painted on ceiling of grand staircase at Hampton Court Palace by Verio.
Underside of archway dividing Painted Hall, Naval College, Greenwich, also on ceiling of upper division of Painted Hall.
On ceiling of Queen's Guard Chamber, Windsor Castle.
British Museum, Case M, Glass and Ceramic Gallery, 1st floor.
Holborn Museum, Charlotte Street, Bath.
In centre of ceiling, Freemasons Hall, Great Queen Street, London.
Painted on wooden ceiling of nave of Waltham Abbey Church.
In a church, Brighton.
On 12 encaustic tiles Upton Helion Church, Devon.
On ceiling of Welbeck Abbey Library.
Sculptured on six corbels on each side of reredos, Corfe Parish Church, Somerset.
In mosaic in Lady Chapel, Chichester Cathedral.
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Sir George Gilbert Scott was born in Gawcott, Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, on July 13th 1811. He died on March 27th 1878. He was one of the most important English architects of the Victorian Age, chiefly associated with the design, building and renovation of churches, cathedrals and workhouses. Among his most famous buildings are St. Pancras Station and the Albert Memorial - and he restored St. Mary of Charity in Faversham! I was living there and never realised our lovely old church lived on through his handiwork!