Phenomenology as a Native Skill

“Philosophizing consists of inverting the usual direction of the work of thought.” – HENRI BERGSON

  1. Preface
  2. Primacy of low whole numbers
  3. Why numbers manifest living planets
  4. Phenomenology as a Native Skill

Contemporary beings see the world in ever more functional and descriptive ways, where a form of words, or a mathematization of the world, overlays the actual sensory experience of it. This has made our task, of interpreting previous Ages, and their big ideas, prone to errors, pitfalls and presumptions. And the notion of there being a Universal Will of some sort seems, since the medieval period, highly optimistic: for why should humans be able to know more than our scientific instruments can tell us or be able to know the universe as a single whole, still connected to Everything. By applying the phenomena of numbers within the periodicities of celestial motions may give us the key to understanding a world hidden from modern science.

The European schools of Phenomenology, ably summarized by the late Henri Bortoft in his Taking Appearances Seriously, pushed back against the reductionst functionalism of the modern descriptive mind (which Gurdjieff’s called man’s formatory apparatus) by returning attention to what is actually present in the sensory world, internalising in a way developed by Goethe, through using our inherent and still-operational powers of imagination: as a serious type of day-dreaming.

Normally, several things (or parts of something) are aggregated into a whole generic average, as with the names for the parts of a plant: pistil, stamen, petals, vegetative leaves. In the late 18th Century, Goethe was able to see that each part of a plant was created by a common cell to be found in vegetative leaves and differentiated from there. His proposal prefigured the modern discovery of the stem cell, revealed only recently due to DNA research. But Goethe’s method showed us another approach to understanding, that the wholeness of a plant’s organization of its parts could be grasped through non-instrumental observation, in a process he termed “exact sensorial imagination”. In a sense, the action of the plant was being assimilated into the psyche, rather than the fact and evidence based linguistic mind.

Henri Bortoft describes how, when struggling to explain the situation, he was standing on a bridge. He saw the verbal-descriptive world was like a river seen from the bridge upon which he was standing* (in Gloucestershire UK). Rivers flow downhill, representing the kind of descriptive path, based upon an existing way-of-seeing. For example, when Galileo’s saw the Moon using an early telescope he initially saw (like others with such telescopes) that there were many circles upon the Moon’s face. But one day, these circles were suddenly transformed into a landscape, as one might find upon the Earth, except of craters. His new way-of-seeing the Moon was as a planet like our own and having a type of landscape. Galileo needed to keep looking and struggling to see beyond the circles, that possibility and through this so to change his organising idea, and see a topography similar to the earth’s; something others had not yet done despite having telescopes.

But Galileo’s discoveries (and those of Newton), fell back into the ancient Greek atomistic ideas, due in large part to a recently re-discovered Greek text on Atomism, an organizing idea which led to the new type of view, that nature was inherently mathematical. This way of seeing we now call Physics. It can now describe the whole physical universe (within the limits of modern instruments and mathematical mappings of world laws such as gravitation), and only rarely do the normal senses “accidentally notice” the appearance of something in a new way.

Henri Bortoft found, if one turns away from the path of description (verbal or mathematical), one can see with fresh eyes the wholeness and connectedness of phenomena outside of reductionist descriptions. One looks into phenomena, to find its meaning as an appearance of meaning within the the direct appearance of the phenomenon, and not assuming that we know what is there. This is surely to be recommended as the birth right of a human being, to understand the world directly and not through mathematics or hearsay. And t is very possible mathematics itself developed in ancient times because the planets were found to be numerically encoded, one to another, in prehistoric times.

Why numbers manifest living planets

above: The human essence class related to four other classes in J.G. Bennett’s Gurdjieff: Making a New World. Appendix II. page 290. This systematics presents the human essence class which eats the germinal essence of Life, but is “eaten” by cosmic individuality, the purpose of the universe. The range of human potential is from living like an animal to living like an angel or demiurge, then helping the cosmic process.

  1. Preface
  2. Primacy of low whole numbers
  3. Why numbers manifest living planets
  4. Phenomenology as a Native Skill

The human essence class is a new type of participation within the universe where the creation can form its own creative Will, in harmony with the will that creates the universe. The higher intelligences have a different relationship to the creation than human intelligence. It is based upon this Universal Will (to create the universe) which has manifested a world we can only experience from outside of it. And the creative tip of creation* is the universal life principle that led to the human world where it is possible to participate in the intelligence behind the world, through a  transformation into an Individuality, creative according their own pattern while harmonious with the universal will.

*creative tip: The evolving part of organic life is humanity. Humanity also has its evolving part but we will speak of this later; in the meantime we will take humanity as a whole. If humanity does not evolve it means that the evolution of organic life will stop and this in its turn will cause the growth of the ray of creation to stop. At the same time if humanity ceases to evolve it becomes useless from the point of view of the aims for which it was created and as such it may be destroyed. In this way the cessation of evolution may mean the destruction of humanity.

In Search of the Miraculous. P.D. Ouspensky. 306.

Will is not something one does. Rather, it is a participation of one’s being with Will. This creates a transformational action of Will within a human that is receptive to it (rather than merely assertive on their own account). We are born able, through our unique pattern, to participate in our own understanding of the meaning that is this world. In this, numbers are more than data: they form structures of will which do not rely on complexity and are therefore directly intelligible for an intelligent lifeform, enabling what to do, by seeing more deeply what is in the present moment. For example, number is the foundation of that universal invariance: the Present Moment of selfhood*.

The myth of a philosopher’s stone presents a challenge, to find the “stone” itself, which we shall see is probably the numerically favourable environment upon the earth. The stone has been rendered invisible to modern humans by our functional science of infinite complexity, also called instrumental determinism. This has downgraded human expectations to being a walk-on part, an unintentional result of evolution, by natural selection, of intelligent life. To think otherwise it is necessary to see what is not complex about the sky, which is a designed phenomenon related to Life on Earth. Once-upon-a-time, the stone age understood the sky in this right way, the way it had been designed to be read by us, corresponding with the way intelligent life was intended to be, on a habitable planet with a large moon.

1.1 Geocentric Numbers in the Sky

Our pre-digested meanings are those of modern science. Whilst accurate they cannot be trusted in the spiritual sense, if one is to continue looking at phenomena rather than at their preformed conceptual wrapper. Numbers in themselves are these days largely ignored except by mathematicians who, loving puzzles, have yet largely failed to query the megaliths** but, if or when anyone might say the megaliths had a technical purpose, this has annoyed most archaeologists, who live by the spade and not by the ancient number sciences or astronomy.

**Fred Hoyle, Hawkins, Alexander Thom, Merritt and others all found something new in Stonehenge but still failed to explore stone age numeracy as well as the numeracy of metrology. Rather, they assumed measures unlike our own were used, yet the megaliths would continue to have no meaning “above ground”, except as vaguely ritualistic venues in loose synchronization with a primitive calendar.

Numbers are not abstract once incarnated within Existence. In their manifestations as measurements, they have today become abstracted due to our notation and how we transform them using arithmetic, using a positional notation based upon powers of two and five {10}, called the decimal system* ( The so-called ordinal numbers {1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 …etc.} are then no longer visually ordinal due to the form in which they are written, number-by-number, from right-to-left {ones, tens, hundreds, thousands …} * (the reversal of the left-to-right of western languages). Positional notation awaited the invention of zero, standing for no powers of ten, as in 10 (one ten plus no units). But zero is not a number or, for that matter, a starting point in the development of number and, with the declaring of zero, to occupy the inevitable spaces in base-10 notation, there came a loss of ordinality as being the distance from one.

Before the advance of decimal notation, groups within the ancient world had seen that everything came from one. By 3000BC, the Sumerian then Old Babylonian civilization, saw the number 60 perfect as a positional base since 60 has so many harmonious numbers as its factors {3 4 5}, the numbers of the first Pythagorean triangle’s side lengths. Sixty was the god Anu, of the “middle path”, who formed a trinity with Fifty {50}, Enlil* (who would flood humanity to destroy it) and Forty {40} who was Ea-Enki, the god of the waters. Anu presided over the Equatorial stars, Enlil over those of the North and Ea-Enki over those of the South. In their positional notation, the Sumerians might leave a space instead of a zero, calling Sixty, “the Big One”, a sort of reciprocal meaning of 60 parts as with 360 degrees in a circle from its center. So the Sumerians were resisting the concept of zero as a number and instead left a space. And because 60 was seen as also being ONE, 60 was seen as the most harmonious division of ONE using only the first three prime numbers {3 4 5}.

 These days we are encouraged to think that everything comes from zero in the form of a big bang, and the zeros in our decimal notation have the unfortunate implication that nothing is a number, “raining on the parade” of ordinal numbers, Nothing usurping One {1} as the start of the world of number. The Big Bang, vacuum energy, background temperature, and so on, see the physical world springing from a quantum mechanical nothingness or from inconceivable prior situations where, perhaps two strings (within string theory) briefly touched each other. However, it is observations that distinguish meaning.

In what follows we will nevertheless need to use decimal numbers in their position notation, to express ordinal numbers while remembering they have no positional order apart from their algorithmic order as an infinite series in which each number is an increment, by one, from the previous number; a process starting with one and leading to the birth of two, the first number.

Whole (or integer) numbers are only seen clearly when defined by

  • (a) their distance from One (their numerical value) and
  • (b) their distance from one another (their difference).

In the Will that manifested the Universe, zero did not exist and numerical meaning was to be a function of distances between numbers!

Zero is part of one and the first true number is 2, of doubling; Two’s distance from one is one and in the definition of doubling and the octave, the distance from a smaller number doubled to a number double it, is the distance of the smaller number from One. This “strange type of arithmetic” *(Ernest G McClain email) is seen in the behavior of a musical string as, in that kind of resonator, half of the string merely provides the basis for the subsequent numerical division of its second half, to make musical notes – as in a guitar where the whole string provides low do and the frets when pressed then define higher notes up to high do (half way) and beyond, through shortening the string.

This suggests that a tonal framework was given to the creation by Gurdjieff’s Universal Will, within which many inner and outer connections can then most easily arise within octaves, to

  1. overcome the mere functionality of complexity,
  2. enable Will to come into Being,
  3. equip the venue of Life with musical harmony and
  4. make the transformation of Life more likely.

Harmony is most explicit as musical harmony, in which vibrations arise through the ratios between wavelengths which are the very same distance functions of ordinal numbers, separated by a common unit 1.

Take the number three, which is 3/2 larger than two. Like all ordinal numbers, succeeding and preceding numbers differ by plus or minus one respectively, and the most basic musical tuning emerges from the very earliest six numbers to form Just intonation, whose scales within melodic music result as a sequence of three small intervals {9/8 10/9 16/15}, two tones and a semitone.  Between one and those numbers {8 9 10 15 16} are the first six numbers {1 2 3 4 5 6}* (note absence of seven between these sets), whose five ratios {1/2 2/3 3/4 4/5 5/6} provide any octave doubling with a superstructure for the melodic tone-semitone sequences; their combined interdivision, directly realizes (in their wake) the tones and semitones of modal music.

We will see that the medium for such a music of the spheres was both the relationship of the sun and planets to the Moon and Earth, and this manifested quite literally in the lunar months and years, when counted. But Gurdjieff’s octaves cannot be understood without disengaging modern numerical thinking, procedures and assumptions. It is always the whole being divided and not a line of numbers being extended, though it is easier to look within wholes by expressing their boundary as a large number: Hence the large numbers of gods, cities, time and so on. For example, creating life on earth requires a lot of stuff: perhaps the whole solar nebula has been necessary for that alone and billions of our years. Were you worth it?

Phenomenology as a Native Skill

Counting the Moon: 32 in 945 days

One could ask “if I make a times table of 29.53059 days, what numbers of lunar months give a nearly whole number of days?”. In practice, the near anniversary of 37 lunar months and three solar years contains the number 32 which gives 945 days on a metrological photo study I made of Le Manio’s southern curb (kerb in UK) stones, where 32 lunar months in day-inches could be seen to be 944.97888 inches from the center of the sun gate. This finding would have allowed the lunar month to be approximated to high accuracy in the megalithic of 4000 BC as being 945/32 = 29.53125 days.

Silhouette of day-inch photo survey after 2010 Spring Equinox Quantification of the Quadrilateral.

One can see above that the stone numbered 32 from the Sun Gate is exactly 32/36 of the three lunar years of day-inch counting found indexed in the southern curb to the east (point X). The flat top of stone 36 hosts the end of 36 lunar months (point Q) while the end of stone 37 locates the end of three solar years (point Q’). If that point is the end of a rope fixed at point P, then arcing that point Q’ to the north will strike the dressed edge of point R, thus forming Robin Heath’s proposed Lunation Triangle within the quadrilateral as,

points P – Q – R !

In this way, the numerical signage of the Southern Curb matches the use of day-inch counting over three years while providing the geometrical form of the lunation triangle which is itself half of the simpler geometry of a 4 by 1 rectangle.

The key additional result shows that 32 lunar months were found to be, by the builders (and then myself), equal to 945 days (try searching this site for 945 and 32 to find more about this key discovery). Many important numerical results flow from this.

Counting the Moon: 99 equals 8 years

Plan of Avebury showing the stone arrangement of the henge. 
Source: The Avebury Cycle Michael Dames (1977).

The principle of finding anniversaries appears promising when three solar years contain just over 37 (37.1) lunar months while three lunar years contain 36 lunar months and, if one then looks for a better anniversary, then one can move to the 8 year period which has two key features.

  1. The sun will appear on the horizon where it did 8 solar years ago because of the quarter day every solar year.
  2. The moon will be in the same phase (relative to the sun) after 99 lunar months.

This appears useful: by dividing the days in eight years (~ 2922 days) by 99 (having counted to 99 months by eight years) the resulting estimate for the lunar month is 29.514 days, out by just 23 minutes of our time.

Eight solar years was therefore an early calendar in which the solar year could be somewhat integrated by the lunar year. However, the lunar year was entrenched as a sacred calendar, for example in Archaic Greece. And it may be that when the Neolithic reached England in the Bronze Age that 99 stones were placed around the massive henge of Avebury so that eight solar years could be tracked in a seasonal calendar alongside 99 lunar months, 96 months constituting eight lunar years.

The three lunar months left over must then, divided by 8, give the solar excess over the lunar year as 3/8 = 0.375, whereas the actual excess is 0.368 lunar months or 5 hours less. In the previous post, two months the stone age could have been counted as 59 days, here 8 solar years could have been counted as 99 lunar months at Avebury. Through this, one would be homing in on knowing the solar excess per year (10.875 days) and the length of the lunar month, to more accuracy.

It is obvious that counting using whole months has not got enough resolution to catch an accurate result and so in the next post we must revert to counting days in inches, as was done at Le Manio around 4000 BC, over the 36/37 month anniversary at three solar years. It is important to grasp that while we have great functional mathematics, we are here using it to find out what the numeracy 3000-4000 BC could have intended or achieved within counts monumentalized geometrically as a stone monument that can store information.

Counting the Moon: Two equals 59 days

Above: Title Slide of my 2015 Lecture

Counting the lunar month has a deep history, reaching right into prehistory. Firstly, how does one find a phenomenon that gives a whole number of days. Its actual length is now known to be 29.53059 days, and to give a whole number just two lunar months gives 59 days, leaving just 1.8 days too little. But never mind, for the stone age this looks promising but how can one observe the moon at a fixed point and which phase is best to count.

Within a day, before or after the full moon, the Moon looks pretty full, changing little and offering no decisive moment between to count between two full moons. For this reason, a few prehistoric bones give clues to their method which involved counting days with some mark representing the Moon’s phase. This led to the sickle/cresent marks to left “(” or right “)” and between these a round mark “O” and dashes of dark or invisible moon “-“. These are what Alexander Marshack saw in the Albard Plaque, carved on a flat bone from a midden:

Figure 1 (left) Alexander Marshack investigating marked bones in Europe and a crucial interpretation of a 30,000 year old bone as a double lunar month of counting. From my 2015 lecture in Glastonbury about my work prior to Sacred Number and the Lords of Time in 2014.

Marshack demonstrated plausible evidence that consecutive day marks were used in the stone age, stylised to indicate lunar phase within a pattern recognizing that two lunar months formed a recurrent structure in time in a whole number of days, namely 58 days. The utility of the calendric device was that the cycle could be visualized as a whole, making the plaque an icon of both knowledge and meaning. This could be shared but also gave the possessor of this small bone, a power to predict when hunting is possible in lighter nights the light cycle of the moon. In addition, the moon’s phase locates the location of the sun and how many hours were left before the dawn. The bone was an overview of a daily process during most of which the moon is visible by night and day.

In following posts I look at many other ways to count the month, based on longer counts and also look at where in the lunar phases one can best start and stop counting.

You may like to watch my lecture at Megalithomania
(which starts with an ad you may skip).