My third book, Precessional Time and the Evolution of Consciousness is my slimmest (surely a virtue) about how we work with ideas. It has its own conjunctions and disjunctions; where conjunctions are discovered meanings and disjunctions are changes in direction. The book is dominated with the cyclic metaphors of the
Tone Circle of 1st Millennium BC tuning theory (Ernest McClain),
The narrative structure called Ring Composition, found within ancient texts (Mary Douglas) and
The Enneagram brought to the West by George Gurdjieff.
A key power of such cyclic structures is that they belong to a species of Media in which consciousness is both portrayed as a process and freed from the normalising identification with an idea often found in our World View (or paradigm about how “the world” – our environment – works.) As Gurdjieff in particular made clear, identification is part of the world process over which the human mind has to struggle, just like the hero in a mythic tale – within a ring composition – must struggle (as protagonist of the narrative) with an antagonistic force that binds his or her struggle as a demon, dragon, tyrant, etc. preventing a golden fleece, holy grail or other treasure being recovered (Joseph Campbell).
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.
Gurdjieff first presented his ideas to groups in pre-revolutionary Russia. Amongst his carefully chosen students it was the habit to reconstruct talks and diagrams as much as possible, an endeavour that gave us a textbook of Gurdjieff’s ideas called In Search of the Miraculous (P.D. Ouspensky, 1950). This early form of the teaching wasradically revised and extended by Gurdjieff, now as an author, during the 1920s, producing All and Everything whose part one was Beelzebub’sTales to his Grandson (G.I. Gurdjieff, 1950). Prior to drawing this diagram just after February 1917, Gurdjieff had been presenting ideas about transformation of energies, human and cosmic, using the musical theory surrounding the octave of eight notes. The Diagram of Everything Living was “still another system of classification… in an altogether different ratio of octaves… [that] leads us beyond the limits of what we call ‘living beings’ both higher [and lower] than living beings. It deals not with individuals but with classes in a very wide sense.”