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.