Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Modern research into "body rhythms," and the ancient knowledge of "cosmic harmony"

Recently, one of the "most read" articles in the Wall Street Journal is an article by Sue Shellenbarger entitled "The peak time for everything."  It begins by telling readers:
A growing body of research suggests that paying attention to the body clock, and its effects on energy and alertness, can help pinpoint the different times of day when most of us perform our best at specific tasks, from resolving conflicts to thinking creatively. 
In other words, the article points to research suggesting that natural cycles -- which it calls "body rhythms" and "circadian rhythms" -- are optimal for different tasks and functions at different times during the day, and that paying attention to these cycles rather than to the artificially imposed patterns of modern urban or suburban life can make us happier and more effective.

Researchers believe that these natural cycles are the result of our response to the cycles of "light and other natural stimuli" and that these cycles impact every function of the human organism: "all its metabolic, cardiovascular and behavioral rhythms" and functions as personal as "working memory, alertness and concentration."

The fact that modern science is conducting analysis in this area, and finding results, is encouraging -- and the interest readers at the Wall Street Journal are demonstrating in the subject shows that they are quite interested in it (and perhaps largely unaware of this body of knowledge).  However, as with many other aspects of science that we assume are the products of modern technique and "new discoveries," the ancients appear to have known about such natural rhythms thousands of years ago -- as early as ancient Egypt, in this case.

In fact, the ancient Egyptians not only knew of and wrote about the impact of natural cycles on the human organism, on plants, and on animals, but did so with a subtlety that far surpasses anything discussed by the modern researchers in the article referenced above.  

In his treatise on the wisdom of ancient Egypt entitled Sacred Science: The King of Pharaonic Theocracy, R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz (1887 - 1961) discusses the Ebers medical papyrus which was actually inscribed around 1550 BC but which appears to record medical knowledge dating back much earlier -- "back to the First Dynasty," de Lubicz asserts on page 155.  He notes that it, like other Pharaonic texts on medicine, claim a divine origin to the science of healing.  Schwaller de Lubicz then goes on to describe the keen awareness of cycles and rhythms contained in the ancient knowledge.

Schwaller de Lubicz notes that this divine origin and the knowledge of man's interaction with the cycles of the heavenly bodies are connected:
As has been said, Ra is not the sun itself, but rather the solar energy which, during the course of its daily cycle, animates all the organic functions of the human body, one after another, at each hour of the day and night.  It is in this way that we are subject to it.

Thoth is the masterful intermediary in his relation with Time, with the hour.  He guides his disciples through the knowledge of cosmic harmony.  Thus he enables the medicine man to apply the efficacious remedy at the precise moment.  157.
Schwaller de Lubicz then cites later Hermetic texts which describe the connection between plants and the motions of the planets, such as one which says "Here again are the plants of the seven planets [. . .] When you wish to gather them, do so at the hour when the planet which is then active dominates time" (158).  

Schwaller de Lubicz also cites the hours of the day found in the tomb of Ramses VI (reigned 1145 BC - 1137 BC) in which the hours are depicted by the progress of the solar barque, with noon being labeled as the "expansion of the heart, the hour which rises for Horus" and the hour from 2 pm to 3 pm being labeled as "Mistress of Life, the hour when all nourishment is sublimated" (160).  On the same page, the author notes that even to this day, "for Chinese acupuncture, noon is the hour of the heart, and 2 pm the hour of the small intestine" (160).

Thus it is clear that this ancient wisdom, while lost (or deliberately destroyed or suppressed) in some parts of the globe, was not lost everywhere.  This evidence also backs up other evidence of a connection between the knowledge of ancient Egypt and the knowledge that survived in lands to the east, such as India, Tibet, and China.

While those of us who have grown up in the parts of the world where such knowledge has been lost for millennia, we should be careful before we dismiss out of hand the possibility that the motions of the earth, sun, moon, and even planets might have an impact on the plants we depend upon for food and medicine, and in fact might have an impact on our own human organism as well.  

First, of course, there is the research being described in the article by Sue Shellenbarger mentioned above.  Second, we can argue by logic that if external influences such as daylight can have profound effects on our alertness and thinking throughout the day and throughout the year (influences that can be even more pronounced upon human beings living closer to the poles, where the seasonal fluctuations of light are even more pronounced), then it is possible that the motions of other bodies in the solar system (and our own moon) may have some impact upon us and on other organisms on our planet.  

We can further note the impact of the moon and sun upon the mighty oceans in the form of the tides, and speculate that if these heavenly bodies can move the oceans so profoundly, perhaps it is not unreasonable to guess that they can also impact us.  Previous posts have also discussed the evidence that the moon impacts human female menstruation and also the activity of fish such as bass.

Third, previous posts (such as this one on retrograde Mars earlier this year) have also discussed another logical argument: if the physical architecture and furniture arrangement of our surroundings can have an impact on the way we feel and even the way we think (see here for instance), then it is not unreasonable to consider the possibility that the "furniture arrangement" of the various planets in our solar system at any given time might have some influence as well -- while they may be further away than our nearby furniture, they are also a lot bigger!

Schwaller de Lubicz has this fascinating passage which goes even beyond such influences -- to something he labels "cosmic harmony" --
If a good gardener plants his cauliflower on the day of full moon, and a bad gardener plants them at new moon, the former will have rich, white cauliflower and the latter will harvest nothing but stunted plants.  It is sufficient to try this to prove it.  So it is for everything that grows and lives.  Why these effects? Direct rays of sunlight or indirect rays reflected by the moon?  Certainly, but for quite another, less material reason as well: cosmic harmony.  Purely material reasons no longer explain why the season, even the month and precise date, must be taken into account for the best results: Invisible cosmic influences come into play.  After many experiments, we can affirm that these influences play a predominant role.

We cannot here enter into the detail which goes so far as to label the influence of each hour.  It is enough to realize that every essential moment can actually be designated by a name: the name of a Neter.  164.
In short, the Wall Street Journal article and the researchers discussing this important topic have hit upon a very important subject, and one that impacts us all.  It is fascinating to note that the ancients appear to have known of such matters even as far back as the First Dynasty of Pharaonic Egypt -- and perhaps to have known about them to a degree that far surpasses what we "moderns" understand.

Where did they get such knowledge?  And what has taken us so long to even begin to try to get some of it back?