Thursday, April 18, 2013

 Venus and the Megalithic Yard

Those of you who are interested in the ancient measure, Proffesor Alexander Thom's megalithic yard (MY), would do well to investigate the book Civilization One by Christopher Knight and Alan Butler (ISBN 978-1-907486-09-8). Messers Knight and Butler investigate an early unit of measure which was accurate within millimeters from the northern Hebrides to southern Europe. The unit of measure has a relationship too with the Minoan culture's foot.
The first fact that comes as a surprise to many is that the old Summarian civilization used a circle of 366 degrees. That circle with its 366 divisions was obviously based on the length of the year (approximately 365 1/4 days). The diameter of the earth had early on been calculated by accurately measuring the length of one degree. The question has always been: How can you develop a measure using this fact?
You yourself can do a similar experiment: Working on the day of spring or autumn equinox, set up two poles of equal height, say 50 MY (Megalithic Yards) apart, in an E --> W direction, and two more poles in a N --> S direction. Measure the time it takes for the shadow of the first pole to be the same length as the shadow of the second pole. You must measure the shadows to better than a millimeter and the time to less than 1/10 second. The measurement results in a full polar circumference of the earth of 48,221,838 MY.
The ancient Sumerians used a base 6 for their calculations, so they separated each degree into 60 minutes and each minute into 6 seconds. When you divide this out, you find that one second of the full circumferance of the earth turns out to be 366 MY. You might call this a coincidence--but it isn't.
If you erect two poles separated by one degree of arc, then you can determine how long a star or a planet takes to traverse the distance between the two poles, measuring this time by the swing of a pendulum. The same mathematical trick that we use in casting our circles can be used to accomplish this. If you cast a circle of diameter 233 units and then divide it up using a 2-unit stick, you will find that you get one degree of arc per division. When you do this for a star, you find a pendulum length close to half a MY, but not quite, and certainly not within the accuracy to which the megalithic monuments were built.
It occurred to researcher Robert Lomas that perhaps the ancients used not a star but the planet Venus. Working with Christopher Knight (see above), Lomas had found that Venus was hugely important to the builders of megalithic sites. For example, New Grange was designed so that the light of Venus came into its central chamber for only a couple of minutes every eight years.
When you measure the transit of Venus between your two poles, you see that you get various results. This is because the apparent movement of Venus is regulated by the fact that it moves around the sun as the earth does. If you use a pendulum to measure its transit, when you measure the slowest transit, you get a pendulum length of exactly ½ MY--and we mean exactly: to better than 1 part in 3,000. Thus you have a method of developing the MY with very high accuracy no matter where on earth you are. True, in a very few places, such as high mountains or deep valleys, the swing of the pendulum will be slightly off. In most cases, though, this will result in an error of less than 1 part in 10,000.
Thus you can develop the MY with the most simple of tools: pieces of string, some form of plumb-bob weight, and a measuring stick (which can be of any length). It seems that our ancestors were far smarter than we thought: not just pointing and grunting ....
Why should you go to all this song-and-dance? Because the megalithic yard is the unit of measure we Wiccans use in casting our circles for spiritual work. Good enough?
By the way, Civilization One also explores liquid and cubic measure, and shows that they were probably developed for trade.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Callong the Directions

In calling the directions to create sacred space, we traditionally place Air in the East, Heat in the South, Water in the West, and Earth in the North. The question has arisen many times as to where this set of directions came from: The word tradition is insufficient.
The answer is clearly: the Punjab. The Punjab is an area in northeastern India and southeast Pakistan, and the word itself means five rivers. It is the area of one of the oldest civilizations yet discovered: the Indus Valley civilization. It is also an area subject to disastrous floods, and may actually be the source for ideas of Noah's flood, if we trouble to scrape off our shoe the old habitual assumptions.
Go to the web or to your public library, and look up trade winds. You will find that in the area of the Punjab the wind blows from the east: therefore it is logical to assign Air to the East. Similarly, the Himalayan massif is to the north, so that putting Earth in the North is logical.
Today most thinking occultists and Wiccans acknowledge that the directions should be called depending on the location of the worker. To do so is a symptom that the workers are thinking about the significance of what they are doing, in contrast to passively, numbly continuing to work the old patterns handed down on who-knows-what authority from who-knows-what distant land. If you are on the east coast of North America, it is logical--rational, mindful--to put Water in the East. If you are on the west coast, vice versa: you would put Water in the West. From the perspective of the northern hemisphere, Heat is in the South. Again, in the southern hemisphere the thinking is flipped.

Thus we can develop a set of directions for a ritual on the east coast or on the west coast of North America with the only decision left to make being what to put in the north. For many years now we Frosts have recommended putting Time in the North. This equates to old age, white hair, and (we may hope) wisdom. Many of us also add the sixth direction; that is, Above. Here it is logical to use either Spirit or Grandfather Sky. Since Time is in the North in our circle, we prefer to use Spirit.
Thus to fit our location USA east, we use, Earth  (what workers stand on): below our feet.
 Water in the East (the place of new beginnings; e.g. dawn), Heat and emotion in the South, Air in the West (since the winds blow from the west), Time in the North, and Spirit Above. If you tune your calls to fit your location, we think you will feel more comfortable with the result than you would by using the ancient Indus Valley/Punjab system. Do your research, and let us know.

Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne

Monday, April 8, 2013


A very capable student of the School of Wicca has prompted us to explain the use of correspondences when it comes to timing your services. As we all know, astrological signs influence the work we do and there is a correspondence between doing, for instance, a healing ritual for a heart attack and Aries.
Throughout a 24-hour day we move (that is, the earth rotates) through the twelve signs of the zodiac. Each sign exerts the most powerful influence for a two-hour period. Conventionally we assign various times of the year to the dawn sign, and dawn is normally taken as 6 a.m. in the time zone where you are working. The astrologers among you can in fact work this out in finer detail and tell you exactly when Aries (for example) is in its ascendant.
So if you take it that Aries is at 6 a.m., on a day that the moon is full, when you plan a major ritual at midnight, what sign will you be in at that hour? That is, which sign will have the strongest influence over your efforts? Since midnight is is 18 hours away from 6 a.m., that means you will have moved 9 signs around the zodiac. This will place you in Sagittarius; therefore you must do something appropriate to Sagittarius to fine-tune your work to the proper sign. All you have to do then is (1) figure out when you will schedule your service, (2) figure out what is the dawn sign, and then (3) count around the signs to the one appropriate for your service.
You may have decided to do the service at 10 p.m. In this case you would count around only 8 signs. Simple, isn't it?
Career ... wealth ... healing ... If you need a complete table of correspondences that will suggest the most appropriate day and time for your intent, send the School a stamped addressed No. 10 envelope with an extra stamp inside; we'll send you a copy of such a table. A more complete explanation of this phenomenon can be found in our book Helping Yourself with Astromancy from Parker Publishing.