Review of Precessional Time and the Evolution of Consciousness

My third book (Inner Traditions, 2011) was recently reviewed by Paul Young in New Dawn magazine March-April 2019.

It is said that we are transiting from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius in a backward precession through the 12 zodiacal signs. Examining the numbers that define these Ages is one of the core themes of this book.  The basic premise is that stories – some of them handed down orally since Neolithic times – enable us to identify the inner spiritual aspects within our material world and participate in the evolution of human consciousness foretold by ancient myths. The author is greatly influenced by G.I. Gurdjieff and his Law of Seven, albeit with revisions of his own.

Readers such as myself, for whom mathematics is not their strong suit, need not be daunted by the many sets of figures presented in this book. They are important as supporting evidence for the theories presented, and their comprehension is made easier by the use of diagrams. Moreover, the fractions and ratios are often related to musical octaves and the Do-Re-Mi music-reading system.

The books subtitle is How Stories Create the World and the prose elegantly balances the numbers with profound insights. The link from Gurdjieff is established through his follower J.G. Bennett, who built on the former’s powerful ideas by incorporating philosophy and the science of his day; [then] onward to his student Anthony Blake, who in turn taught Heath the value of story making.

The combination of the author’s own numerical work on megalithic astronomy, Gurdjieff’s cosmology, and the ancient art of story-telling formed the idea of precession as a developmental cycle. The evolution of human consciousness through stories is a cornerstone of this book. While precession and the influence of planets is approached more from a mathematical than spiritual viewpoint, Heath acknowledges “that there is a form of intelligence within cosmic structures that arrives at certain types of solutions within the number field.”

Just as the notion of a Creator is natural to explain the highly constructive order in the universe, a Higher Self is the equivalent in human terms for the degree of order and structure found in the psyche and its life events. And this Higher Self can tell stories of meaning through life as a medium of communication to the selfhood located within existence.

The influence of the Moon is covered extensively. Together with the Sun, the seasons and periodicities or orbits of the planets, as experienced on Earth, it profoundly affects human life as well as giving a definite pattern to celestial time. For those who perceive that there is intelligence in our solar system but wonder why the lunar year does not coincide more closely with the solar year, it is interesting to learn that the Moon is also tied to the conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn, called the Trigon period.

The length of one Age of the zodiac has been taken as 2,160 years since Plato’s time. The Ages of most interest in this volume are Taurus, which hosted the Megalithic period; Aries, when a specialised knowledge of musical harmony was encoded; and Pisces, when texts such as the Rig Veda, Homer’s Epics, and the stories of Semitic religions including the Bible, came to affect intellectual and religious life. The Bible’s Old Testament, we are told, was written using harmonic ideas such as purity, pure order, and an invisible and jealous God. Civilisation in the Age of Aries became an ideal of social order beneath God and king or emperor, according to principles of rulership.

Heath asserts: “Our modern ideal of free speech would horrify the ancient priests, whose purpose in articulation was the transmission of objective knowledge.” With the numerous references to harmonics and octaves, it is important to note that it is not considered that the numbers, vibrations and intervals are based on music – rather it is the other way around.

The patterns that were first recognised by megalithic peoples during Taurus formed the basis of the musical harmonies of Aries. While Gurdjieff’s teachings correspond to music in theory, the harmonic intervals involved relate to the processes found in the world itself. With music-making the vibrations are created by an instrument that can achieve various notes using functional apparatus. Gurdjieff, on the other hand, proposed that systems in the universe have vibrations, and that the energy of making the notes has to arise through the inner and outer transformation of their own vibratory level.

Heath proposes that the first half of an individual’s story manifests what is to become known to the selfhood during the second half. On a grander scale, our cultural history appears to evolve its consciousness within the dynamics of changing zodiacal signs.

The book assumes a starting point of 12,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age, and follows the human journey as it first turned outward, toward an understanding of the visible structure of the universe, then turned inward to the structure of the number field that underlies creation. Our “information bubble” has been created, and from all the general knowledge emerges self-knowledge. In this way does the universe become self-aware through intelligent life.