Legominism and the Three Worlds

Above: Altaic shaman’s drum depicting the cosmos

The general ordering of the cosmos throughout history was phenomenological, following the very apparent division between the sky and the earth, with the living principle between called a “middle earth”. A summation of its symbolism was placed within Dante’s trilogy The Divine Comedy; of an inferno, purgatory and paradise which were the three worlds of the geocentric experience. But how does it come about that the phenomenological was translated into ancient literature, buildings or, as Gurdjieff names these, legominisms in the literal sense of being made of meaning-making and the naming of things – a power given to Adam but not the angels.


Legominism, was a term created by Gurdjieff to mean “an intentional artifice transmitting important knowledge to future generations able to grasp its significance”[1].

In Beelzebub’s Tales, Gurdjieff presented the ancient world as a tragic story where human beings were incapable of retaining attempts “from above” to restore their understanding, of why the world existed and their purpose within it. Finally, those remaining humans who still understood something, decided to create legominisms: These would act to contain the forms of understanding within objects, dances, games, calendars, buildings, etc., or any cultural artifact which would contain a higher truth whilst serving an outer cultural value. Being valued, it would be used and reproduced, and remain in use until such a time as someone in the future might again understand the inner truth behind its design.

The idea of legominisms gave a likely explanation for the mysteries of the ancient world, as to why higher knowledge was implicitly present within our oldest traditions. Made of a combination of iconic, literary and numerical references, legominisms have left a large and consistent “implex[2] of meaning”, designed to be actualised through the making of special efforts. One sees this playing out in Beelzebub’s Tales and especially in Meetings with Remarkable Men with its seekers after truth, and Gurdjieff’s peculiar propensities to gather ancient data and visit special peoples and places, now largely lost due to modernization.

Legoministic narratives were acted out within the stage of the triple world, of lives lived in which a protagonist is transformed by a journey. In Bennett’s worldview, systematic structures having exactly seven terms are transformational, and a different “systemic attribute” can be seen in the “dynamism” of three terms, as in the “three worlds” and the “seven planets” and notes of a “musical octave”. As one enters the world of the legominism, numbers and words have new usage according to the possible levels of meaning and understanding.

The Act of Meaning

A system of three terms Bennett called a Triad but a triad is also a whole thing – a further Monad describing the context for the three active forces. Systematic groups such as triads are about how we understand whilst a legominism is a cultural object, a monad to be understood. The three worlds were a literary and oral worldview one needs to understand the purpose of as a geocentric model of the earthly experience.

The meaning of something, as a whole and as its various contents, must be made of words, interacting in a numeric structuring of terms. Meaning like Understanding is a term, but subtly different. Bennett placed Meaning in a triad relative to three frameworks, the world of what is possible (in Eternity), the act of choosing one possibility (an actualisation within Time), in order to make Meaning (ableness-to-be meaningful)[3]. These frameworks were seen asthree time-like dimensions of Eternity, Time and Hyparxis, each a necessary precursor for the type of world we live in.

The three terms of a triad are unlike each other, occurring in order as: first, second and third forces; the most fundamental[4] usage being Affirming (force 1), Denying (force 2) and Reconciling (force 3). The above triad of Meaning then takes this order: Possibilities are affirming while Time is a denying force and making meaning is inherently reconciling; noticing how words and numbers are interpenetrating within a legominism about making meaning.

A prime example is when we choose words to be actualised as speech, from imagining what to say. In imagination, they are only possible articulations. When words and numerical structuring become an articulation, they enter the stream of Time, plucked from “the reed bed” of personal imagination, brought down into the lower world of Time: but to what effect? Like the monkeys trying to type Shakespeare, the world would fill with more nonsense than sense and besides, how would one know what was Shakespeare? Here Bennett gives the necessary third force for the triad of Meaning, the ability-to-be (termed Hyparxis) for words to become meaningful in an actual world of Middle Earth. This is why literary critic, Northrop Frye saw poetry to be the natural language of cosmology, because poetry serves to protect the gods from direct rationality[5].

Bennett and Legominism

Bennett’s dove motif, flying between an upper and a lower world, prefigured how the “ability-to-be” would provide a reconciling force within the Creation, enabling human beings to fulfil their intended role within a dramatic universe.

Bennett’s vision of the Dramatic Universe, Middle Earth is redeemed by new Acts of Meaning.

Bennett’s framework conditions emerged from the foundations of the three worlds, the framework dimensions from which a world like ours was at all possible. From this approach, Bennett’s Dramatic Universe went on to explore the meaning of 1. Natural Philosophy (framework), 2 Moral Philosophy (triads), 3 Man and his Nature (structures of will) and 4 History (the present moment), using ever new techniques and refined grasp of framework. In every case, as in Gurdjieff’s cosmology of Will, meaning was being made within a western tradition begun by Gurdjieff.

Bennett was a born philosopher, mathematician, linguist and scientist who did not write in the style of Beelzebub’s Tales, yet still requiring special efforts from the reader to understand; not to hide but to await moments of understanding in the future.  As he explained, the monad that wants to understand must raise its necessity to understand:

In grasping a monad, an act is required that goes beyond knowing. This act makes a connection between two real structures – one is the understanding monad with the will to understand and the other is the presented monad with its will to be understood.  DU III, 16-17.

The ancient stream, of sacred and profane mysteries (coincidences, legominisms and sacred numbers), is now mixing with a contemporary stream of work studying how one can understand them. This confluence is an invitation to make meaning with the methods provided, to actualise again the ancient legominisms created for a future middle earth.

Richard Heath’s latest work on understanding ancient legominisms is called Sacred Geometry: Language of the Angels, Inner Traditions, 2021; as a full color, richly illustrated hardback. Its story traverses the earliest developments of numerate astronomy in the megalithic period, thus extending human history back into the prehistorical period. A number of geometrical legominisms are explored as expressing the Universal Will of Creation, before turning to the last 2,500-year movement towards the Cosmic Individuality, posited by J G Bennett as the potential human beings have, to express the reconciling force.


[1] J.G. Bennett in Creation, chapter 3.2.

[2] that is short for an “implicit complex” of meanings.

[3] Dramatic Universe volume 1, page 166: “As elements in a triad, potentiality must be affirming and actualization the denying force … The reconciliation of potential and actual results from the property ‘ableness-to-be’… The more one is oneself, the more one is able to actualize without losing contact with potentiality.”

[4] of six permutations, within world creation as per Gurdjieff’s worlds 6, 12, 24, 48, and 96 triads

[5] Roberto Calasso, Literature of the Gods, chapter 7, “Meters are the Cattle of the Gods”.