Sunday, November 23, 2014

A thousand times more precious . . .

Note: I have re-worked the original video in order to improve the visual resolution. Here is the link to the new, high-definition version.

Alvin Boyd Kuhn wrote in Lost Light (1940) that:
It is the purpose of the present volume to set forth to the modern mind the extent of the wreckage which splendid ancient wisdom suffered at the hands of later incompetence. [. . .] It involves the reversal of that mental process which in the days of early Christianity operated to change myth and allegory in the first instance over to factual history. As third century ignorance converted mythical typology to objective history, the task is now to convert alleged objective history back to mythology, and then to interpret it as enlightened theology. The almost insuperable difficulty of the project will consist in demonstrating to an uncomprehending world, mistaught for centuries and now fixed in weird forms of fantastic belief, that the sacred scriptures of the world are a thousand times more precious as myths than as alleged history.  24 [emphasis in the original].
While I would have strongly rejected that final statement only a few years ago, I now strongly agree with just about everything that Kuhn says above, and especially his concluding assertion. 

My only real objection to any of his wording is the phrase "third century ignorance," because while I believe that a great many of those who teach the literalist approach to the scriptures do so in all honesty and sincerity, themselves believing that the texts were intended to convey literal history along with all their other layers of meaning, I believe that there is significant evidence today to conclude that not all of those who have propagated literalism throughout history -- and most especially those who pushed it into prominence during the third and fourth centuries AD -- did so in "ignorance" of what they were doing.

For what I believe to be evidence conclusive evidence of that assertion, see the speeches of Ambrose of Milan cited in this previous post.

In any case, I believe the evidence that these texts were in fact changed from "myth and allegory" over into "alleged objective history" is overwhelming. In the new video above, I present some of this evidence visually, using the outstanding open-source planetarium app Stellarium, available at

CAUTION: The above video contains very strong evidence that the stories of the Bible are built upon the system of celestial metaphor common to all the ancient sacred stories and traditions of the human race -- that like the myths of the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Babylonians, Vedic Hindus, Norse, Australians, Native Americans, and of virtually everyone else on our planet, the myths preserved in the Bible are "Star Myths." If you are not comfortable exploring this evidence, please DO NOT WATCH THE VIDEO.

If you are comfortable with exploring that evidence, and wish to explore the subject further, there are many more blog posts on that subject in the "Star Myth Index" here.

This video will examine the celestial foundations of the story of the birth of Jesus in the Manger. While this story is dealt with at some length in The Undying Stars, it has not been explicated in this blog before. If this idea is uncomfortable to you, please do not watch the video. This information is for those who are already seeking it, or who are already interested in this subject matter, or who already believe with Alvin Boyd Kuhn that these sacred scriptures of the world are a thousand times more precious as myths than as alleged history.

It is not intended as a "club" with which to "beat people up" over their beliefs. I strongly believe that we can and must respect the rights of all others with whom we come in contact in this incarnational life on this world. To the extent that literalistic interpretations of ancient scripture have been used in the past (and continue to be used in the present) to support the violation of natural law rights, I believe those violations should and must be strongly opposed. However, to the extent that someone rejects the violation of the rights of others, their beliefs should be seen as proper to their own individual "kingdom" or "domain," and respected accordingly.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hour Two of my interview with Marty Leeds on the Mathemagical Radio Hour

I really enjoyed the first part of my conversation with Marty Leeds on his Mathemagical Radio Hour, and we realized that we still had more important topics to discuss, so we continued for a second hour, which has just now been posted at the SyncBook web page as well as on iTunes and YouTube (the first hour of the interview can also be found at that same SyncBook web page, as well as on iTunes, and here on YouTube).

We definitely ventured into some territory during this second hour that has not necessarily been addressed in other previous interviews!

Again, special thanks to Marty for being such a gracious host and for the insightful questions that he asked! As I listen to the second hour, I realize that towards the beginning there, I took some "big, looping detours" in answering some of his questions, but hopefully that won't throw anyone off -- I was trying to give a comprehensive "big picture" here in this second hour, and I hope that it makes sense!  (I also said "Medea" once when I should have said "Circe" in reference to an episode in the Odyssey, but hopefully everyone knew what I meant anyway).

Below are some additional helpful diagrams and links to some posts that may help give a "map" to the paths I was taking as I "ran through the woods" during this second hour, trying to get to all the important "vista points" that might illuminate this enormous ancient formation that we are looking at.

First off, here is the essential "map of the year" -- the zodiac wheel:

This is the way I usually envision it, and this is the layout of the wheel that I was describing during the interview. The equinoxes are each marked by an "X" symbol, signifying the "crossing point" where the ecliptic crosses the celestial equator, and where we cross over from the "upper half" of the year (days longer than nights) to the "lower half" (days shorter than nights).

Below is a video I made some time ago to illustrate the mental model of the "solstices and equinoxes in your dining room" that was described in the interview, and which helps explain why we have this zodiac wheel in the first place.

During this interview we discussed:
  • The celestial foundations of the story of Adam and Eve and the Serpent, and some of the esoteric teaching that the celestial understanding of this myth might be intended to convey.
  • The teaching that we are in a condition similar to that of stars who have plunged down from the realm of spirit into the realm of matter, and the way that the ancient teachings of the "hidden god" and the concepts of Namaste and Amen remind us of our true condition.
  • The connection of Virgo (who follows Leo across the sky) to the goddesses of ancient mythology who are depicted in association with lions (and see also this post about the Festival of Durga).
  • The example of "wax on, wax off" as a means of imparting karate to Daniel-San in the first Karate Kid movie, and how it relates to the question of "the esoteric," and the related metaphor of Montessori as another good example of the teaching aspect of the esoteric. 
  • The assertion by R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz that I was trying to reference on this subject is found in Esoterism & Symbol, where he says that: "Esoterism has no common measure with deliberate concealment of the truth, that is, with secrecy in the conventional sense of the term. [. . .] The intention of the enlightened, the prophets, and the 'messengers from above' is never to conceal - quite the contrary" (1, 75). This explanation of esoterism by Schwaller is discussed in the second chapter of my book The Undying Stars, and you can actually read the table of contents and the first three chapters online here.
  • The evidence that those who decided to deliberately suppress the esoteric aspect of the ancient scriptures may have done so in order to "keep the karate" all to themselves.
  • The evidence that the ancient esoteric understanding of the myths was deliberately overthrown during the Roman Empire using the twin vehicles of the secret cult of Sol Invictus Mithras and the public religion of literalist Christianity (see also here, here, and here).
  • The evidence (such as that offered by the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library) that the rise of literalist Christianity corresponded to a violent suppression of the esoteric or broadly gnostic understanding and of the teachers and writings that posed a problem for the propagation of the literalistic viewpoint.
  • The undeniable fact that literalist Christianity was forced upon non-Christian Europe at the point of the sword, and the possibility that its centuries-long opposition to the shamanic worldview (which can still be seen to be operating to this day) may be evidence that the actual correct understanding of the Biblical texts is that they themselves are shamanic -- and that literalism was invented in part to hide this important fact (see the link entitled "keep the karate" all to themselves, above).
Please feel free to post up your feedback or questions, either underneath the YouTube video, on Facebook, or on Twitter, and of course to share it with anyone who may find this information to be helpful. Also, you may find this archive of previous interviews to be a handy reference: it also contains links to download the mp3 version (whenever possible), as well as links to other "liner notes" like this blog post, containing links to other material about the topics discussed.

When sharing, however, please be sure to be respectful of the deeply-held personal beliefs of others: this material is not intended to be used to "beat people over the head" but to be of assistance for those who are already looking in this direction. Remember that we're all here in this life trying to figure out the mystery, and forcing our beliefs on others can easily cross the line into violating their individual rights. I believe that each individual is very much a king or a queen of their own realm, and they must be allowed to examine the evidence, and make their own "rulings" within their own proper realm as they see fit -- we have no right to invade the territory of their individual domain and tell them how they must rule in their own minds (but neither does anyone else have the right to do so to us).

At the end of the show, Marty asked a question about how all of this has impacted my own spiritual journey. In my answer, I incorporated some references to the Scarab, Ankh and Djed, and to the very important concept of blessing.

I believe these concepts may actually lie at the very heart of our purpose here in this material realm -- and that we should be actively involved in blessing (rather than cursing) as often as we possibly can. That is to say, in recognizing the divine spark in everyone we meet, and indeed in all of nature around us (including all the animals, plants, and even in the rocks and rivers and ocean waves), and working to bring it out, bring it forth, elevate it (rather than suppressing it, oppressing it, denying it, or brutalizing it).

Blessings! Namaste.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A universe within a grain of wheat . . .

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The previous post explored the concept of chiasm, an ancient literary structure present throughout the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible but also throughout the ancient literature of the Mediterranean, characterized by an "X"-shaped mirroring (or "inverted parallelism") on either side of a central pivot.

We saw that this mirror pattern is identical to the gematria pattern discovered by Marty Leeds for the 26 letters of the modern English alphabet, in which the two halves (or "two hands") of 13 letters each can each in turn be viewed as a sort of chiasm, consisting of the numerals 1-2-3-4-5-6 mirrored on either side of a central 7. 

We also explored the possibility that this chiastic structure metaphorically conveys an esoteric message about the "as above, so below" structure of the universe, which by extension can also be seen to convey a message about the interconnectedness of the realm of matter and the realm of spirit (the celestial realm -- the "above" -- can be demonstrated to have been used in ancient myth from Egypt to the Americas as representative of the spirit realm). 

The literary pattern of the chiasm pulls the reader or listener along to the central point of contact between the two mirroring triangles in the "X"-pattern, and across to the "other side," just as sand in an hourglass begins in one triangular or cone-shaped vortex and is pulled inexorably through the central pivot-point or hinge-point to the other side.

In the video embedded in that previous post discussing Marty's cipher, Marty discusses some of the amazing discoveries that the "central-7" gematria reveals, and at one point in the video (beginning at about the 21:00-minute mark) he discusses an image containing a menorah (which itself can be said to have a sort of chiastic structure of inverse parallelism around a central point) and two grains of what may be wheat, each containing 13 leaves arranged in a chiastic structure with six leaves on either side and a single leaf acting as the central pivot, exactly paralleling the proposed gematria of the English alphabet.

Not long after viewing that video and being amazed at that image, I was making some Norwegian crepes for breakfast (see previous discussion at the end of this post) and could not help but examine the depiction of two grains of wheat on the package of flour I was using:

Sure enough, there were "the two halves of the alphabet," embodied in two grains of wheat containing 13 kernels apiece, each arranged with a "central-7" and six mirrored on either side -- a chiasm.

As it turns out, actual grains of wheat themselves often appear to have rows of six growing on either side of a central seventh, as shown in the image at top, and so there is no need to suspect that the designers of this bag of flour watched Marty's video or deliberately referred to the two grains of wheat depicted on either side of the menorah -- the artist may simply have been looking at an actual grain of wheat. But it is certainly interesting that wheat appears to arrange itself in this pattern, the same pattern upon which the modern English alphabet can be seen to be arranged.

It is even more interesting in light of the chiasm discussion from the previous post, in which we saw that the chiasm structure itself appears to be conveying deep truths about the presence of an invisible spirit world which mirrors this one (or, perhaps more precisely, an invisible spirit world which this one mirrors), and directing us towards the point of connection or contact between these two worlds (the central pivot of the chiasm). 

If this interpretation of the chiastic structure is correct, then perhaps the grains of wheat with their inherent chiastic structure could symbolize the same teaching. Perhaps each grain of wheat is itself a little picture of the universe, and not just the material universe but the chiastic universe, composed of a spiritual realm and a material realm which mirror one another, and which are connected by the central point of interplay.

This possibility is strengthened by the fact that in the system of celestial metaphor which underlies the myths of the world, the incredibly important constellation of Virgo (who is the "star" of a large proportion of the sacred myths, as can be seen by reading through some of the explications of Star Myths that I have indexed here) was depicted as holding a sheaf of wheat, associated with Virgo's brightest star, Spica. 

An artist's rendering of Virgo holding her sheaf of wheat is shown below (this particular diagram is not very helpful for actually finding Virgo in the sky, and has been discussed in this previous post as an example of why the excellent outlines proposed by H. A. Rey are so important for helping you to actually see the constellations in the night sky -- and for helping you to understand their correspondence to ancient myth).

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The sheaf of wheat is in her left (lower) hand, while a palm branch is here depicted in her right (upper) hand.

The sign of Virgo is associated with the point of autumnal equinox, which takes place each year around September 22 (it is autumnal in the northern hemisphere), at the very end of the house of Virgo during the Age of Aries. We have discussed in previous posts that the equinox points are points of crossing, where the sun crosses over from upper half of the zodiac wheel to the lower half, symbolizing the act of being "cast down" into matter, and where it again crosses back over this time from the lower half to the upper half, symbolizing a "rising again" into the heavenly realm. Virgo presided over the "crossing point" of being cast down into the lower realm (the fall equinox).

Below is an image of the zodiac wheel, with the two equinox crossings marked with a large "X." You can see that Virgo presides over the crossing-place on the right-hand side of this zodiac, which is the point of autumnal equinox and the point of "casting down" into matter:

All of this strongly supports the conclusion that the "X"-shaped chiasm was intended to invoke this motion of casting down into matter, and subsequent raising back up into spirit. The fact that Virgo, who presides over the exact point of contact between these two realms (of matter and spirit), has long been associated with a sheaf of wheat (the grains of which themselves have a chiastic form) reinforces this conclusion yet further.

In light of all this, it is very interesting to go back and point out the depiction of Pythagoras in a posture which I would argue makes specific reference to the outline of Virgo, shown in an ancient coin referenced in Scott Onstott's amazing Secrets in Plain Sight video (which also explores the significance of goddesses), discussed in this previous post. If all of these references are pointing us towards the point of connection between the spirit world and the material world, perhaps the inclusion of Pythagoras in this metaphor is telling us that our journey down into matter and back up into spirit has much to do with number. If so, then Marty Leeds' discovery of the chiasm-shaped connection of letters to number would argue that this journey down and up also has much to do with language.

And so we see that all of these important symbols can be used to convey to us a profound message about our connection to the realm of spirit -- even in our current state of incarnation in miry matter, in which we have been "cast down" into bodies fashioned from the lower elements of earth and water. 

All of them -- the chiasmus, the sign of Virgo, the infinitely mutable symbols of language and of number, and even the lowly but life-giving grain of wheat -- may somehow be reminding us that this material realm is but a chiastic reflection or projection of the invisible realm of spirit, and telling us that these two realms are deeply connected . . . and that the point of connection is always within our reach.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chiasm and the spirit world

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The gematria key proposed by Marty Leeds for the English alphabet, through which he has been able to discover and explore some amazing correspondences such as those discussed in this previous post, seems to have suggested itself to him based upon the abundant "seven-patterns" in the natural world, including the 
  • seven visible heavenly spheres of Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, 
  • seven notes of the major musical scale before repeating in the octave,
  • the seven chakras within the human body,
  • and the seven days described in the Genesis story of creation, which included six days of creating and a sacred seventh day of rest.
Based upon this pattern, Marty created a cipher for the 26 letters of the modern English alphabet which breaks the 26 into two halves, and then assigns numerals of 1 through 6 in an ascending and then descending pattern on either side of a central 7, as shown below:

This setup is explained the many hours of teaching videos that Marty has shared on the web here.

Marty's inspiration to arrange a cipher that contains two "mirror-image" patterns on either side of a central "hinge" or "pivot" can actually be shown to have very significant precedent, as mentioned briefly in the previous post, where it was noted that this pattern is called a chiasm (usually pronounced "KY-asm") or a chiastic structure (or sometimes a chiasmus). 

This excellent discussion of chiasm entitled "Chiasmus: An Important Structural Device Commonly Found in Biblical Literature," by Bible scholar and professor Brad McCoy offers a very succinct definition of this vital literary form "the use of bilateral symmetry about a central axis" (from Robert Norrman), as well as Professor McCoy's own, slightly expanded definition: "the use of inverted parallelism of form and/or content which moves toward and away from a strategic central component" (1).

As an example, a chiasm might follow the pattern A - B - C - B' - A', in which the symbol written B' is commonly expressed as "B-prime," and in which the concepts expressed in A and B are expressed again or at least referenced again in A' and B', each of which represents a sort of reflection of the original but elevated or transformed in some way, usually in reference to whatever is expressed at the central point C, which is the pivot or hinge of the entire structure. Most authors on this subject make a distinction between a chiastic structure and a simple "inverted parallel" structure, in that a chiasm contains the central pivot which is not repeated, while other types of inverted parallel structures will simply reflect one another, without the central pivot (for example, in a format such as A - B - B' - A').

Obviously, Marty's arrangement of the cipher proposed for the modern English alphabet above follows a classic chiastic pattern, with a central pivot at the number 7 and a sort of "reflection" of the numbers 1 through 6 on either side of the central point. Tellingly, author James B. Jordan demonstrates that the seven days of creation depicted in Genesis 1 contain numerous examples of chiasm. In an appendix to his book Creation in Six Days he writes (using language which also invokes the patterns of music):
Not only are the seven days to be understood as a chiasm, but there are other chiastic flows in the passage as well, providing a beautiful "polyphonic" symphony of melodies that harmonize with one another perfectly. [. . .].
The refrain "And God saw that it was good" occurs seven times in the passage, and the arrangement is chiastic:
A. Day 1 Light good
B. Day 3a Both separations good
C. Day 3b Plants good
A' Day 4 Luminaries good
C' Day 5 Fishes and birds good
B' Day 6a Animals good
A" Day 6b Man good
Just as the chiasm of the seven days associates light with the luminaries and with the sabbath, so this chiasm associates humanity with the light and the light bearers. [ . . .]
The refrain "and God said" occurs nine times in the passage, and once again it is chiastically arranged:
A. Day 1 Light
B. Day 2 Firmament
C. Day 3a Dry land appears
D. Day 3b Plants
E. Day 4 Luminaries
D' Day 5 Fishes and birds
C' Day 6a Land animals
B' Day 6b Man as image and ruler
A' Day 6c Plants for man and animals.
As always, the luminaries of the fourth day are central. The D sections link the glorifying plants with the glorifying fishes and birds, as above. The C sections link the land with the land animals. The B sections once again link the firmament with man. The A sections don't seem to correspond, but perhaps we are intended to see a link between the light produced by the Spirit and the life given by the Spirit through the consumption of plants. 220-221.
In the actual text in the print edition of the above book, Jordan has arranged each chiasm so that the indentations become progressively deeper up the central point, and then successively shallower back outwards from the central point, so that they actually form a "left border" that resembles the "left edge" of a letter "X" (the letter which gives the chiastic structure its name, after the Greek letter X or chi -- Professor McCoy notes in the first page of his essay that this ancient pattern was specifically called a chiasm by the Greek rhetorician Isocrates in the fourth century BC). 

Unfortunately, I am not able to create such an indented structure in this online format. Nevertheless, the discussion above should demonstrate conclusively that the chiastic structure is abundantly present in the Genesis 1 account of the six days of creation and seventh day of rest, and hence to provide strong support for Marty's decision to use a chiastic structure for his cipher centered on the central 7 in reference to that creation account (among many other "sevens" in creation).

It is also noteworthy that both of the above chiasms have as their central hinge or pivot the creation of what Jordan calls "the Luminaries" on Day 4 of the creation week: the sun, moon and stars described in Genesis 1:14-18. This centrality of the stars should not be surprising to us, once we realize that virtually all of the sacred texts and teachings of humanity can be said in a sense to be centered upon the motions of the stars and other heavenly bodies, to hinge or pivot upon the Luminaries, so to speak (see here for examples from many different cultures from around the globe and across the millennia). 

Note also that in the first chiastic structure explicated above this central pivot point of the creation of the Luminaries is mirrored on the outer edges by the commanded presence of light at the very beginning and by the creation of men and women at the very end -- which indicates that men and women are in their own way Luminaries who mirror the Luminaries in the heavens, in an "as above, so below" pattern. In fact, the chiastic structure by its very nature seems to invite contemplation of the "as above, so below" pattern and to point towards it at all times.

In the essay by Professor McCoy linked previously, evidence is presented from various researchers who show that this pattern of chiasmus is present "as early as the third millennium BC in the organization of certain Sumero-Akkadian and Ugaritic texts" and that in fact it was used throughout the ancient Mediterranean world (1, 5). He also cites a researcher who explains that ancient Greek scholars
"were trained throughout their school years to read from the  center outward and from the extremities towards the center," and to conceive of the Greek alphabet from beginning to end, from end to beginning, and from "both ways at once, alpha-omega, beta-psi . . . (to) mu-nu (in the middle)" (5). 

He even notes that ancient texts were written on scrolls all the way until the second century AD, which themselves can be seen to invite a kind of chiastic form, in that "a scroll creates a symmetrical perception of overall content and leads to a focus on the content in its center" (5). It is interesting to speculate about the possible significance of Professor McCoy's comment that the replacement of the scroll by the "leaf-form" or "book-style" codex corresponded to the rise of the literalistic Christian church in the second century AD!

The importance of chiasm is stated in the description of Professor John Breck's The Shape of Biblical Language: Chiasmus in the Scriptures and beyond, one of the most-referenced modern examinations of this literary structure, in no uncertain terms: "Written chiastically, the Bible should be read chiastically." In other words, we cannot truly understand its full message unless we are aware of the centrality of chiasm: an assertion with which Marty Leeds, whose numerical cipher is absolutely rooted in chiasm, would no doubt agree! 

And yet, for some reason, chiasm is not widely taught or understood: one could attend church every week for decades and never hear it mentioned. This fact, coupled with the interesting line about scrolls and their "chiasm-like" form being replaced during the very same period that literalistic interpretations of ancient scriptures were on the rise, is most noteworthy. 

This is the exact same time period that the centrality of the celestial metaphors (and the understanding that the ancient Biblical stories were not intended to be taken literally but were instead esoteric Star Myths designed to convey spiritual truths metaphorically) was also being replaced by a rigid literalism -- and a period in which vicious polemics against "gnostics" and their esoteric hermeneutic were proliferating. It is most significant to note that the understanding of the centrality of the Luminaries, which is only revealed in Genesis 1 if we understand the chiastic structure, was thus being stamped out at precisely the same time!

What could this chiastic structure be trying to convey to us? What is so important about it that it manifests itself throughout the ancient scriptures, not just throughout the Biblical texts but also in other ancient literary forms from throughout the ancient world? 

One likely message that this structure may be intended to convey has already been suggested: the form itself reflects the message of "as above, so below." If we look at the shape of the letter "X" from which the chiasm takes its name, we see that the letter itself consists of two triangles, balanced at a central point of contact -- like two worlds, an upper heavenly (spiritual) world, and a lower earthly (material) world. The shape and message of the chiastic literary form, then, appears to teach that this lower world reflects a higher world, that it in fact reflects the spirit world, the heavenly world.

Not only that, but it teaches that the two realms are actually in contact with one another, that they meet and interact.

In other words, it can be argued that the chiastic structure points to a view of the nature of reality, of the universe and of humanity's place in that universe which can be described as shamanic in nature, a term which here is broadly used to describe a worldview characterized by the belief that the material world reflects or is even derived from an invisible spirit world, which is connected to and interpenetrates the material world, and to which it is possible and even necessary to make deliberate journeys in order to obtain knowledge or effect changes which would otherwise be impossible to obtain or accomplish. 

The assertion that the Bible, along with all the other sacred traditions of humanity, may actually be attempting to convey a worldview which we today would characterize as broadly shamanic has been expressed in many previous discussions, such as this one and this one (as well as in greater detail in The Undying Stars).

Given the other independent evidence for such a worldview, it is very likely that the chiastic structure is intended to convey the mutual co-existence of these two realms, the manifest realm of matter and the hidden realm of spirit. What's more, the act of reading a chiasm, or of listening to a chiastic pattern being spoken, inherently involves motion: it moves the reader or the listener from the beginning (at the broad "base" of the double-triangle or "X") towards the central point of contact with the spiritual realm, and then across that central pivot-point into the other realm beyond. In other words, the very nature of  encountering language which is arranged in such a fashion can be seen as a kind of allegorical shamanic journey! 

It is very significant that in some Native American tradition, the imagery of two triangles (or, more accurately, two infinite cones) arranged in the very same fashion as the two triangular regions in an "X" with one inverted above the other, meeting at a central hinge-point or pivot-point of contact, was used to express the mutual co-dependence of the material world and the spirit world.

For example, in Lakota Star Knowledge: Studies in Lakota Stellar Theology (1992), researcher Ronald Goodman explains:
There is a Lakota family who own a document that combines on one hide, what is usually found on separate star and earth maps. The symbol for the earth sites is ^, and the symbol for the stars is v. These shapes are not to be understood as flat triangles, but as cones, as vortices of light. Thus, the inner shape of a star is an inverted tipi. When earth sites and stars are combined (as they are on this hide), the image looks like this: X. This symbol is called in Lakota, Kapemni, which means "twisting." Thus, what is above is like what is below. What is below is like what is above. 16.
Note that in the above description, the symbols indicated by ^ and v are actually completed triangles (due to the internet formatting options used here, you will have to imagine the third side as being drawn in), and the symbol indicated by an X is actually drawn with two complete triangles (you will have to imagine the top line and the bottom line as being drawn in).

The discussion goes on to explain that the Lakota understood the conical tepee as forming the lower vortex which connects with and points towards the vortex of light above, the "stellar world" or the spirit world (for more on the spiritual significance of the tepee, see this previous discussion). The whirling motion of the dancers around the central pole in the sacred Sun Dance was understood to create the same vortex here on earth which opens the connecting vortex of the unseen world (16 - 17).

Thus, there appears to be very good reason to believe that the structure of the chiasm, found throughout the scriptures of the Bible and indeed throughout many other ancient sacred traditions as well, is intended to evoke the awareness of the invisible world of spirit which reflects itself in this world, and to point us towards that point of connection with the spirit world, that point where we can actually make the leap "across the chasm" to the world that cannot be perceived with our five material senses, but which we are in fact equipped to perceive.

There are many more aspects of this chiasm structure which could be profitably explored, and many examples of important episodes and passages in ancient scripture which can be shown to be chiastic in form, and perhaps we can return to this concept and explore some of them in future posts.   

But for now, it is important to return to the pattern which launched the present discussion, which is the chiastic form of the cipher which Marty Leeds, following the inspiration contained in the description of the seven days of creation, has found hidden in the modern English alphabet. Not only does the long ancient history of chiasm lend additional support to the form Marty follows in his cipher, but the fact that the metaphorical aspects of chiasm (a literary structure whose form by its very nature "brings down" the heavens to the earth, and then lifts us back up to the celestial and the spiritual) seem to reflect and embody the very same metaphorical messages we have seen his gematria to embody and to reveal seems to argue that we must acknowledge the existence of yet another layer of simultaneous metaphor which the ancient sacred heritage of humanity employs to point us towards these profound truths about ourselves and our place in this material-spiritual universe.

Scott Onstott and the metaphor of form

We have been exploring the concept of sacred metaphor, by which spiritual principles "condescend" to clothe themselves in the physical form of the material world, in order to reascend once more, dragging along the lower in their train.

It should be pointed out, of course, that this is the exact same process which we ourselves undergo, according to the ancient scriptures and traditions of the world's mythology, when understood metaphorically and esoterically. 

Evidence for this assertion has been explored in many previous posts, including those discussing the celestial aspects of the Genesis story of Adam and Eve and the Serpent and their ejection from the Edenic paradise (see the video here and the additional diagrams and discussion here), as well as all the posts discussing the critically important mythological concept of the "casting down" of the Djed column and its subsequent "raising back up" (see for example "Scarab, Ankh and Djed," "Vajra: the Thunderbolt," and "The shamanic foundation of the world's ancient wisdom").

Readers familiar with the New Testament will also be aware that the descent and humiliation, and subsequent exaltation, of the Christ are described in exactly the same terms, most succinctly perhaps in the second chapter of Philippians.

Recent posts have explored examples of this "clothing of spirit" in the trappings of the material in the rough and raw physicality presented in Herman Melville's Moby Dick,  in the analogy of banging around underneath a sink and being occasionally showered with unpleasant blasts of cold water in the process, and in the transcendent infinity of number described in the work of Marty Leeds. 

The "infinite canvas" of number in particular was clearly at work in the ancient sacred texts and traditions found around the world, and can be seen as following the same pattern: numbers themselves coming down as messengers from a world of pure spirit, but they take on physical form and even material characteristics (male and female traits, for instance), and in doing so they help point us back upwards to the realm of spirit from whence they came.

Not only do numbers "materialize" in this fashion within the myths of the human race, but they also materialize or take on material form in the ancient monuments and megaliths that can still be found around the world, from Stonehenge to the Great Pyramid to many others that are perhaps less well-known but no less mysterious and awe-inspiring. These ancient structures embody sophisticated mathematical sequences such as phi and pi, and often incorporate ratios relating to the size and shape of our spherical earth, as well as other important heavenly bodies and distances in our solar system. Often, they indicate through their alignments the rising and setting motions of the most significant celestial bodies as well.

In doing so, these ancient monuments "bring down" the heavens (and the world of spirit) to the material realm for our consideration, and point us back upwards to that invisible world -- acting as pointers to raise our consciousness, perhaps, or to assist in the elevation of the material realm and the spirit that is everywhere present in this material world and all the beings in it.

Amazingly enough, the work of Scott Onstott has shown definitively that the ancient sophisticated system of "physical metaphor" has not only survived in some form, but that it is positively rampant throughout the architecture and design of some of the most central capitol cities of the "western world," in ways that are absolutely astounding and which are so abundant that they cannot possibly be attributed to mere coincidence.

Drawing on his own deep experience in architecture and design, as well as his obvious gifts of analysis and insightful examination and of knowing where to look and what "questions" to put to the maps and the blueprints, and assimilating the analysis of many other researchers in related fields, Scott has put together many outstanding videos, most notably Secrets in Plain Sight (embedded above), which has now been followed by Secrets in Plain Sight, volume 2 (see his website here for more of his excellent resources). His recent book Quantification is a beautiful volume containing full-color diagrams and discussion of some of the aspects of sacred geometry and philosophy relating to his work.

Marty Leeds has explained how his very first encounter with Scott and his work (Marty heard a radio interview with Scott) ended up "changing the entire direction" of Marty's life (Peacock's Tales, pages 25-27). That's how powerful the discoveries that Scott has made can be -- and should cause everyone to want to explore Scott's work more deeply in order to see what kinds of positive impact it can have on their own lives as well!

Scott's jaw-dropping videos speak for themselves. They cannot fail to have an impact on everyone who watches them.

In addition, there may be some ways in which the material covered in The Undying Stars can add some interesting angles to the subjects that Scott is discovering in his research, especially when it comes to the evidence for the continuation of a body of esoteric knowledge among certain groups in the western European cultures that arose after the dissolution of the western Roman Empire. Some of this information was obviously carried on through groups with strong ties to esoteric traditions such as the Templars and the Freemasons, which may well be directly related to the ancient cult of Sol Invictus Mithras discussed in The Undying Stars and in the theory of Flavio Barbiero (for some discussion of this vitally important but little-known aspect of history, see this and this and this previous post).

The abundant connections to the symbols and mythology of ancient Egypt are also not surprising, if some of the arguments in The Undying Stars about the original Egyptian origin of the family lines which eventually created the cult of Mithras are correct. However, it should also be noted that ancient examples of the use of sacred geometry and patterns like those Scott's video finds in more modern architecture and design can be found literally around the globe: see for instance this discussion of the proportions and alignments and sacred geometry encoded in the "Star Mounds" of the greater Ohio Valley region of North America.

Additionally, it can be seen that the system of architectural and geodetic metaphor that Scott documents in his research has clear connections to the system of celestial metaphor -- as he points out several times. Many of the figures to which the esoteric designs refer (such as Isis) can be shown to be directly connected to constellations, such as the zodiac sign of Virgo -- and many of the pieces of historical artwork which Scott shows in his video to assist in the explanation reveal that the original artists themselves may have known about these celestial connections (since the artwork incorporates distinctive features of those constellations in some cases).

For instance, this image (used in Scott's presentation) of Pythagoras on the obverse of an ancient coin has unmistakable characteristics indicating the constellation Virgo (see discussion in this previous post, for example). Pythagoras is seated, with one arm extended (facing towards the left, in this case). If we were to rotate his coin clockwise about ninety degrees, he would be a perfect fit with the constellation Virgo. The staff that he holds in the crook of his other arm corresponds nicely to the sheaf of wheat of Spica which was often depicted on Virgo where this staff is shown (and note that wheat is sometimes referred to as "the staff of wheat" in the Bible). That side of Virgo is also the side where the snaky serpent of Hydra is located -- and we all know that serpents and staffs also go together (such as in a caduceus).

original image: Wikimedia commons (link). Modified to rotate and add Virgo outline.

The fact that Virgo is being used to embody Pythagoras is rather unusual, but the elements of Virgo are difficult to deny in the above coin, and they certainly leap out at the viewer who is familiar with the ancient system of celestial metaphor. The fact that Pythagoras is depicted next to (and pointing towards) a vertical column or pillar is most significant: Virgo is located at the point of autumnal equinox, or the casting down of the Djed column (into the horizontal realm between the equinoxes, and into the "underworld" of the lower half of the zodiac wheel), and so Pythagoras' depiction with connection to Virgo as well as to an upright pillar might indicate that we are to understand his role (and by extension the role of metaphorical number and sacred geometry with which Pythagoras is so closely associated) as being connected to both the "casting down" and the "raising up" of the Djed pillar!

This interpretation, of course, would be entirely in keeping with the assertion above that number "comes down" from the realm of form, the realm of spirit, in order to "raise us back up" to the spirit world from whence we have been "cast down" ourselves.

The image below of Enoch / Metatron (also used in Scott's movie a few times) has clear similarities to the Angel depicted in the scene of Abraham and Isaac and the substitutionary Ram, which I have previously shown to have possible relations to the constellation Andromeda. The depiction of the altar and rising smoke in the Enoch image, below, is a good indication that we are talking about the same portion of the night sky that forms the scene of the sacrifice of Isaac, where we saw that the rising smoke corresponds quite nicely to the path of the Milky Way which goes past Perseus and Andromeda in this part of the sky, enroute to the Twins of Gemini.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The depiction of Enoch becoming an Angel, or ascending from the world of matter into the world of fire and air -- the world of spirit -- is of course symbolic and indicative of the process we have been discussing.

A troubling question, of course, may come up as we watch Scott's presentation showing the incorporation of these hidden metaphors into the architecture and layout of the physical buildings, roads, and cities that still house the levers of political power in the modern world. That is the question of whether or not all these physical manifestations of esoteric metaphor are being directed for entirely benevolent and beneficent reasons.

Put another way, are they only being built as metaphors, for us to contemplate and somehow increase our consciousness and awareness of the spiritual as we contemplate them? This would not seem to be a likely explanation, especially as most of this design is "hidden in plain sight" and generally not consciously perceived by most of the world. It may well be that these correspondences and connections are being designed into the physical form of the buildings and cities of the world for more than simply metaphorical reasons: they may be intended to create actual resonance with or connection to the invisible realm.

If so, it is also logical to conclude that this kind of connection to the power of the invisible realm might be pursued for the benevolent or less-than-benevolent ends. It might all be part of a massive project on behalf of human consciousness for all men and women, or it might be part of a "War on Consciousness," evidence of which is also sadly abundant in the world today (and for the past many centuries).

These are extremely important questions. We should all be grateful to Scott Onstott for creating the videos which enable us to ask them, and we should spend the time and energy to diligently examine the research he has done and which he has so generously shared with the world.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Marty Leeds and the metaphor of number

The previous two posts (here and here) have explored the act by which spiritual truth "condescends" to clothe itself in material form, and in doing so to point us back towards "the real world that is behind this one," and to enable our minds to "make the leap" beyond this literal, physical, material veneer.

Past discussions of the same idea have noted that the principle behind Montessori education is very much the same, in that the Montessori method brings abstract concepts such as "cubing a binomial" and turns them into physical materials which the learner can manipulate here in the physical realm, and in doing so can "grasp" (in the literal sense of the word, as well as in the sense of "grasping with the mind") the invisible concept that lies behind it. 

As an aside, it is worth noting that the very first moment of recognition of the connection between the metaphorical representation and the invisible abstract concept is always an "Ah ha!" moment, or a "Eureka!" experience, as the mind suddenly leaps across the chasm between the physical world and the invisible one.

I believe that one reason that the sacred scriptures and traditions of virtually every culture on our planet use metaphorical depictions of the specific motions of sun, moon, stars and visible planets is that these sacred myths are doing the same thing: they are "bringing down" the denizens of the spiritual realm of the heavens and "clothing" them in the garments of physicality or materiality, in order to convey profound truths about human existence, the nature of our universe, and our relationship to it.

The Star Myths, as I call them, are exquisite metaphors, using a canvas that is vast enough to contain the deepest teachings of whatever ancient source imparted these teachings to our ancient ancestors.

Amazingly, philosopher and teacher Marty Leeds has been demonstrating that the same "move" can be made upon the similarly infinite canvas of number. In the video above, he explains his discovery of a system of "gematria" for the modern English alphabet of 26 letters which yields astonishing results when applied to a variety of words and concepts.

It cannot be disputed that esotericists have long used gematria-correspondences with Hebrew and Greek in order to explore ways in which the numbers so generated can be seen to form their own kind of metaphor-system. When the invisible and abstract concepts of number, mathematics and geometry "clothe themselves" metaphorically speaking in aspects of the material world (by taking on aspects of "male" or "female," for example), then they are doing the same thing that I believe the Star Myths are all illustrating: they are "incarnating" in order to point us towards spiritual truths; they are materializing in order to act as a kind of "springboard" to launch us back upwards into the greater spiritual consciousness.

The followers of Pythagoras, of course, were using the very same concept (and, according to tradition, Pythagoras brought his philosophy back from the far more ancient philosophy that he encountered in visits to Egypt), and so there is a long and distinguished precedent for the path Marty Leeds is pursuing.

His application of the particular system of number-correspondence to our modern English alphabet, and the way he then analyzes and "cross-examines" the results of his English gematria is what makes Marty's work unique and remarkable. The metaphorical connections that he finds are simply astonishing.

It is first worth briefly discussing the method he proposes for connecting each of the 26 letters of the modern English alphabet with a number: he breaks the 26 into two groups of 13, each of which can be seen to ascend towards a central seventh letter before descending back down, like this: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. Marty points out that there are cogent reasons to argue for such a pattern, such as the fact that the Genesis account of creation has six days of divine creation followed by a sacred seventh day of rest, which establishes a pattern identical to the one he is proposing. He also notes that the musical scale does the same thing, having seven different notes A-B-C-D-E-F-G before repeating again with another A.

Although he does not mention this fact (as far as I know), there is yet another strong argument which can be made for the pattern that Marty applies to the English alphabet, and that is the fact that there is an ancient Hebrew form of poetry which is known as "chiasmic" poetry, or "chiastic" structures, or simply "chiasm." It is pronounced "Ky-asm," and named after the Greek letter "chi" (usually pronounced "Ky"), which we would call "X." Chiasm follows a pattern which is "X-shaped" and which does the exact same type of repeating that Marty proposes in his gematria for the modern English alphabet.

Chiasm is so important that it is worth an essay all its own (actually, it is worthy of books upon books of discussion), and so I will leave this point for now and take it up later -- it is an absolutely fascinating concept. The pertinent point for this discussion is the fact that Marty's proposed gematria actually incorporates chiastic structure, which to me would argue that his proposed gematria has very strong credentials to support it, with very deep roots.

I myself am not an expert on Marty's research and analysis: I only began to explore his work very recently, mainly in conjunction with appearing as a guest on his excellent new radio show and podcast, entitled Marty Leeds' Mathemagical Radio Hour (I was happy to be guest number 14, which is a number with important lunar connotations, as well as some fun connections to Tolkien's The Hobbit, along with a host of other esoteric correspondences which Marty discusses in some of his books and teaching videos). However, I have seen enough at this point to realize that Marty is definitely "onto something" in his work and that this is by no means "smoke and mirrors" or the product of someone with a good imagination being able to "read into" the numbers whatever he or she wants to see.

What I believe his work demonstrates (among other things) is that the ancient intelligence that gave humanity the incredible myths and teachings was able to create metaphors which worked with extreme subtlety and effectiveness on at least three levels at once! In The Undying Stars, I examine plenty of evidence that Star Myths (including those found in the Bible) are often operating on two levels simultaneously: they contain beautiful celestial metaphors at the very same time that they operate as exquisite "human body metaphors" as well.

For example, Moses crossing the Red Sea can be shown to have a celestial aspect, in which Moses is Aries ("clothed in metaphor), the zodiac sign who leads the children of Israel (the other zodiac signs -- all of which together are twelve "tribes" or groupings of stars) across the lower half of the annual cycle and "brings them up" at the spring equinox. But at the exact same time, "crossing the Red Sea" has a "human body" metaphor in it as well: we are all "crossing the Red Sea," metaphorically speaking, in this incarnate human life, in which we have been "plunged into" a human body which contains its own "Red Sea" (our life-blood). Our sojourn in this material realm, with all its trials and tribulations and lessons, is a form of "crossing the Red Sea."

By delineating the mathematical metaphors that are also undeniably present in these ancient texts, Marty has shown that they do not simply operate on two amazing levels at the same time, but three! The level of sophistication of the ancient sacred mythologies imparted to humanity at some point in our distant past is simply staggering.

The video above is full of incredible connections, in which Marty shows the numbers of specific English-language versions of names or concepts to point to significant numbers relating to our universe, including the size of our spherical earth, the sizes of the moon and the sun, and the specific degree-angle which creates the beautiful and mysterious phenomenon of plant phyllotaxis. That angle, by the way, is very close to 137.5 (discussed in great detail in this interesting scholarly paper), which Marty shows to be found in the name of the Christ, the letters of which according to his cipher can be multiplied together to find the number 18,900 -- the square root of which is 137.48. See the above video at about the 34:00 mark.

Below are a couple examples of phyllotaxis in nature (continue reading below the second photo):

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

What is also incredibly interesting about this fact is that the number 18,900 which Marty found by multiplying the numbers corresponding to the letters in the name Christ is also a multiple of 108, which means that it is a precessional number. Precession moves the background of stars by a single degree every 71.6 years, which in ancient myth is usually rounded up to 72, and which then yields the important precessional numbers 108 (which is 72 times 1.5), 216 (which is the number of years precession takes to delay the starry background by 30 full degrees, or one sign of the zodiac, resulting in a new precessional Age), 432, 864, and so on up to 25,920 (the theoretical number to do a full 360). For more on the celestial motion of precession, see this post (among many, many others) and this video.

As the video explains, the ancient myths are filled with indications that the motion of precession was of incredible importance in the ancient system of celestial metaphor, and the presence of precessional numbers in myths around the world has been noted by Graham Hancock and other authors, most notably the authors of Hamlet's Mill (1969). Precessional numbers can be shown to be incorporated into the construction of the Great Pyramid, of Teotihuacan, of many other ancient monuments, possibly including Stonehenge. They are also undeniably present in the world-wide "grid" which connects many of these ancient monuments.

It is fascinating to note how many precessional numbers turn up in the names that Marty Leeds analyzes with his English gematria in the video above. Beginning at about 36:00 in the video, he shows connections from the names of Jesus Christ and Horus to the number 2,160 -- a very important precessional number corresponding to a precessional Age (as Marty notes in his discussion). At about 18:00 in the video, he discusses the number 5,040 which he finds by multiplying 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 x 6 x 7 and which he notes is equal to the sum of the radius of the earth and the radius of the moon in miles (approximately 3,960 miles plus 1,080 miles). This 5,040 number is also a precessional number, being a multiple of 72. So is the number 864 (which is 108 multiplied eight times), which Marty shows to be an approximation of the diameter of the sun in thousands of miles, and which is also generated by the English gematria system Marty has discovered when applied to the letters of Jesus and Christ together (as is the radius of 432,000 which is generated by the letters of Jesus alone) -- see the video at about 37:30 discussing the diameter and 29:30 discussing the radius.

The fact that these precessional numbers are generated by the names of Jesus and Horus, who are metaphorically related, as touched on briefly in this previous post (and see also the two images of Isis and Horus included in that post), and who both are associated with the sun, makes the precessional connections in the gematria most appropriate, since precession is most evident when observing the heliacal rising of constellations just prior to the sun's rising, and since precession is most often associated with the delay of the background of stars on specific solar stations throughout the year, most especially the spring equinox (hence it is commonly referred to as the precession of the equinoxes).

It is also noteworthy that the plant which provides one of the clearest examples of phyllotaxis resembles the sun itself and is actually called the sunflower (see both the images above).

Much, much more could be said about the amazing number-metaphors which Marty has uncovered with his research and exploration. However, perhaps one of the most resonant for me was the metaphor he explains at the very end of the video below, a slightly different video from the one linked above, and one in which Marty matches up the twelve disciples to the twelve signs of the zodiac (he notes that the correspondences he shows are simply one possibility and that he is not dogmatic about the correspondences shown; I would agree with the diagram in his video that has Peter corresponding with Aries, but disagree with some of the others -- however, as he explains, that doesn't really matter in this video, since he is discussing the sum total the numbers generated by of all of the signs, and not the specific correspondences themselves).

The concluding sentiment, which he arrives at through his examination of the expulsion of Judas from his particular "slice" of the celestial zodiac circle, is that we should be very careful not to miss the heavenly or the spiritual because of an erroneous or defective pre-occupation with material possessions (or, by extension, the veneer of material existence itself). This is a brilliant piece of analysis, and shows that these numerical metaphors very much agree with what the astronomical metaphors and the "human body" metaphors also appear to be trying to tell us.

We should all applaud Marty Leeds for the work he is doing, and for his enthusiasm in sharing what he has found through his excellent teaching videos and his books. I'm looking forward to reading and watching more of his work in the future, and recommend that others do as well -- especially if they are interested in seeing yet another facet of the incredible treasure that is hidden in the ancient sacred traditions of the human race, and in the "book of nature" all around us.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

How to replace stop-valves and feeder-lines on a bathroom sink

The previous post explained that metaphor is an example of the descent of an idea down from the realm of mind and into the world of physical form, where it clothes itself by putting on the outward clothing of matter, all for the purpose of enabling our minds to make the leap from that physical manifestation up into the realm of invisible spirit from whence it came.

Herman Melville's Moby Dick powerfully illustrates this process. Deep, protean, and nigh-ungraspable questions such as free will versus fate, or the individual's relationship to the supernatural, come down to earth and take on the outward trappings of gruff, scarred, and gnarled sailors, iron whaling implements,  tarred wooden planks, flapping canvas sails, tropical storms, twisted hemp lines, and selected denizens of the murky deep. 

In doing so, in deigning to descend to our level, these nebulous and majestic concepts whose proper realm is the plane of pure spirit condescend to dwell for a time in the hard, grubby, imperfect world of matter, the better to enable us to wrap our minds around them, and in doing so to use them as a stair or a springboard by which to launch our spirits back upwards towards those ethereal planes.

And indeed, it can be seen that this motion may describe our own motion of "condescending," if indeed we ourselves are beings of spirit and of mind who have clothed ourselves for a time within the imperfect skins of material beings, in order to somehow participate in experience which will similarly serve as a stair or a springboard by which we will ascend to spiritual understanding that we could not have grasped without this physical sojourn.

Melville's Moby Dick truly demonstrates that nearly every physical experience can be seen to have its metaphysical lesson: no aspect of ship-board life, no matter how mundane or how menial, is described by the book without some hint that this too can point us to some higher lesson, some hidden message.

If even the most humble and mundane of physical tasks can hide within it some message about the meaning of this human existence, then perhaps the task of changing out the hardware of a common bathroom sink can point out some metaphysical truths as well. Finding that one of my faucets was leaking, I assayed into the breach with all optimism, only to commit (as usual) just about every mistake in the book, on the way learning various lessons which led me to conclude that perhaps having to fix faucets (along with the other mundane tasks of maintaining houses with parts that tend to wear out and need repair) can be seen as analogous to descending into incarnate human existence, where we are "forced" to have experiences and gain new knowledge that we wouldn't have learned if we just lived in a hotel or something where a maintenance staff did all the repairs for us (which might be akin to staying in the spirit world and avoiding the griminess of incarnation altogether).

For those who may not already have become enlightened regarding the intricacies of bathroom faucets, my experience is described below, in hopes that it may help anyone facing a similar repair, or serve as an amusing comedy of errors for those who already know all this stuff already and can't believe that anyone could be so ignorant.  

Realizing that the faucet fixtures themselves were old and leaky, I bought new ones to replace them, thinking that a simple swap would solve the problem. Shutting off the water at the main, I pulled off the feeder lines from the old fixtures, swapped them out, tightened up the nuts and turned on the water, only to find a little leak at the point of attachment. Pulling out my trusty vise-grip pliers, I proceeded to tighten up the nut still further (experienced plumbers are no doubt cringing at this point), without turning off the main again -- and immediately over-tightened it (a common pattern in most of my repair-work), resulting in a positively spectacular shower of water flying in all directions in the cramped little box-like cabinet under the sink (where my head and shoulders were uncomfortably wedged). 

It resembled the inside of a submarine after springing a leak, and I could hardly extract myself fast enough to get turned around and shut off the stop-valve at the wall before I was soaked, the floor was soaked, the cabinets were soaked, the floor-rugs were soaked, along with all the towels that I had on-hand nearby for wiping up any minor spills.

Having determined that I had probably ruined the nut at the top of the feeder-line, I proceeded to the store to buy some new feeder-lines, without taking a good look at the old ones. If I had, I would have realized that they were the old-school corrugated feeder-lines that are soldered to the angle-valves that go into the wall, as you can see from the photo above (if you look closely, you will see that each line has a base that goes right into the stop-valves, with no possibility of removing the line itself to replace it), and in the close-up photo below. 

So, I was going to have to replace the stop valves as well, with the newer variety that have a threaded attachment for the feeder-line. But, were my stop valves the kind that threaded into the pipe coming out of the wall, or did they attach to a smooth copper pipe using a compression nut?  I hadn't noticed that, so it was back home to look and then return to the store to get the kind I needed: the kind that attached directly to a smooth copper pipe using a compression nut. I purchased the new stop-valves, and the feeder lines to go with them, and headed back to remove the old stop-valves.

Of course, to remove the old compression nut, I had to use two wrenches: one to hold the old stop-valve still and the other to turn the compression nut to loosen it. Here's what my set-up looked like:

That's two pairs of vise-grip pliers, the closer one being kind of a "needle-nosed" vise-grip (holding the old stop-valve housing on either side of the soldered-on feeder-line), and a larger, rounder vise-grip behind it (you can barely see it) gripping the compression nut (which is green with corrosion, enabling you to see exactly where it is in this photo).

Of course, experienced plumbers would probably use different pliers in this case, but this is what I had on hand, so that's what I used. After all, "brute force and ignorance" should be able to make up for a lack of experience or proper tools in most cases, I figured. Holding the closer, needle-nosed set of pliers steady, I proceeded to turn the rear set of pliers with all the strength I could muster, in a counter-clockwise direction. After all, everyone knows that if you want to loosen a nut or other fastener, you turn it in a leftward direction ("lefty-loosey"), just as everyone knows that to tighten a nut or other fastener, you turn it in a rightward or clockwise direction ("righty-tighty").

Those who know all about compression nuts and pipe-fittings are undoubtedly cringing (or laughing) again at my complete ignorance. It felt like the more I turned, the tighter that compression nut was getting. That's because, as I soon began to suspect, I was actually tightening it instead of loosening it. 

I thought to myself, "I wonder if bathroom-sink stop-valve compression nuts are traditionally reverse-threaded?"

Of course, I could have simply picked up one of the new stop-valves I had purchased, to see how their compression nuts were fastened, which would have solved the mystery, but instead I went to the computer and poked around on YouTube, where I found this very helpful video, by Leah from See Jane Drill:

As soon as the video got to about the 2:45 mark, I could see that Leah was turning the compression nut towards the right, or clockwise, in order to loosen it! Ah ha! Finally picking up one of the newly-purchased valves, I realized why: the compression nut actually goes onto the stop-valve from the direction of the wall forward, and therefore "righty-tighty" and "lefty-loosey" must be imagined from the point of view of someone looking at the stop-valve from the wall, rather than from the point of view of someone looking at the stop-valve from the little handle. To loosen the compression nut, I had to turn it "to the right" as I was looking at it from my cramped space inside the cupboard under the sink, which was really "to the left" if I imagined myself looking back outwards from the wall where the copper pipe came out and went into the stop-valve.

After that, things got better, and soon enough I had replaced all the stop-valves, tested them out by turning them to the "off" position and turning the water main to the house back on, tightening them some more where they leaked (I didn't want to be guilty of over-tightening again, so I purposely  tightened them in several stages until all the drips stopped with successive small tightenings), and then hooked up the new feeder lines.

Hopefully, this little episode will prevent others from making some of the same mistakes (that is, if there is anyone out there who didn't already know all of the above already -- probably most readers are shaking their heads in disbelief at the level of plumbing ignorance displayed in this post).

But the bigger point is this: perhaps we come down to this world, messy as it is, in order to be doused with showers of water, and struggle with turning the compression nut in the wrong direction, and to curse and grumble and bang our knuckles inside the cramped confines of our physical cupboards, as we learn the lessons that cannot be learned through any other medium -- lessons that the spirits who do not incarnate (if there are such spirits, and the ancient scriptures of many cultures seem to indicate that there are, including the scriptures that we call "the Bible") don't have the same opportunity to learn.

If Herman Melville's Ishmael could find metaphysical truths about the meaning of human existence in the salty, oily, dangerous, monotonous, and uncomfortable situations aboard the Pequod in the midst of the wide ocean in Moby Dick, then perhaps we can do the same in our own corners of the sea of human existence -- and in doing so, perhaps these seemingly dreary aspects of physical existence can point us towards the spiritual truths that we may in fact have come here in order to learn, and perhaps they can become a cause for us to bless the material world, instead of (sometimes) cursing it.