on 28 April 2013
I've just finished reading one of the most beautiful books I've ever had the pleasure of holding in my hands - John Michell's final work (with Allan Brown), How the World is Made - The Story of Creation According to Sacred Geometry. Everything about it screams quality; the proportions, the paper, the typeface, the layout, the content, and of course the 300+ beautiful watercolours of John's sacred geometry illustrations, brought to rich, vibrant life on the page. To open the book is to step into a world of wonder and enlightenment, where every turn of the page reveals another gem to treasure or another profound Truth to enrich the soul. It reminds me somewhat of a cherished children's story book with pictures - though the content is anything but childish. It's a book you should definitely buy in hardback as you're going to want to keep this one on the bookshelf and take it out frequently just to look at or to show it to friends, rather like a favourite ornament or piece of jewellery that you want to show off. It's a wonderful legacy for John to have left us.
It will help if you have some familiarity with the fundamentals of sacred geometry, or have read some of John's previous works on the subject as the book almost skims over the basic tenets and ratios, so impatient is it to get into the meaty areas like squaring the circle and the dimensions of the Heavenly City. It feels like the opening chapters were the last to be written and could have done with just a little more explanation to prevent them alienating newcomers to the subject. That may be the case - as John was still working on this book when he passed, perhaps those chapters had yet to receive a final draft revision. But don't be put off - very soon you are literally drawn in to the magical world of sacred geometry as the vision unfolds.
Or perhaps Part 1 is deliberately dense to scare off the unworthy, because in Part 2, where the creation story develops through the numbers one to twelve, you do feel like an initiate in Plato's academy as John takes us through topics like the construction of Atlantis, showing through geometry how their devotion to all things metric led to inherent flaws in the structure of their society and its ultimate collapse. This was actually an exercise that Plato set for his students, and it is so fiendishly hard to expand the required pentagonal and decagonal geometry by hand that John asked his co-writer Allan Brown to complete the exercise using computers; so although John wrote about this topic before in The Dimensions of Paradise, this is the first time that the full exposition has been seen in print.
Ever the traditionalist, John was always against the metric system, not least because the French geometers got it wrong when they came up with the metre - which is too short to be the perfect subdivision of the Earth's meridian that it is supposed to be (unlike the ancient and traditional measures like the foot). The only `proper' and stable societies have been based around the number 12, as John previously explored in a previous book Twelve Tribe Nations and the Science of Enchanting the Landscape. This is the number at the heart of the New Jerusalem diagram as pictured by John that adorns the cover of the book and is fully explained within.
We are also initiated into the numerical and geometric allegories behind some Bible stories, including the parable of the loaves and fishes and St. John's Revelations, wherein the true Number of the Beast is revealed. Suddenly many previously obscure Biblical passages make perfect sense for the first time, and you feel that you almost have a glimpse of the fourth and highest stage of classical self-development, that of nous or divine understanding (the first three stages being ignorance, opinion, and knowledge).
Although this is a scholarly tome, John's love of the subject, his talent as an illustrator, and his sense of humour make it a pleasure to read and a very enjoyable learning experience. On discussing the merits of A4 paper, we learn that it is a rectangle in the proportion of 1:√2, whose unique property is such that when divided in half, each half retains this proportion - hence the whole series of A paper sizes. In rational numbers, the proportion is 99 x 70, and A4 is 297 x 210mm or 3 times 99 x 70. As the book says, "these dimensions, about 11.7 x 8.3 inches, are too big for this book, as well as objectionably metric, but the root-2 proportion is attractive, so we have chosen the simple 9.9 x 7 inches."
And very attractive it is too. Even if you don't understand all of the sacred geometry, buy it anyway, because the inner child in you will be enthralled by the wonderful illustrations for years to come, and just maybe the rational adult in you will begin to comprehend the universal Truths that make this world - for those with `nous` to see - the real Heavenly City that is all around us.
on 30 September 2015
Great Book for anyone interested in such subjects.
I own Quadrivium by Wooden Books, it got me interested in this subject and was a great introduction to Sacred Geometry among other things like Geometry in Music, etc. I feel that if you can grasp the concepts expressed in that book, this book by John Michell should be your next read.
The book consists of 1-2 pages for each image on the written subject, which are both very interesting to gaze at and/or study, and are also required in order to fully grasp the related Text.
The text takes the reader through the basic introduction of each chapter & page etc, before going into explanations and proofing, that can sometimes be quite in depth and require the reader to concentrate, or in my case, re-read a sentence from time to time.
The content may require imagination to understand a the concept, and even an interest in number to fully understand some of the aspects.
People who know a little about Sacred Geometry will not be disappointed. Although this book isn't "huge" and i could casually read it within a few days, this book will take many future hours & study sessions at my desk if i want to fully understand the all content here.
on 9 June 2016
Very nice book with lots of hand drawn and coloured geometric patterns. The descriptions of these shapes and the relations to number are discussed in more depth than I expected with a lot of reference to the esoteric and ancient understandings that were much more advanced than many may realize. I am quite new to this topic and am still not sure of it's true implications. This book seems like a good starting point for the novice (I have only read a book called Quadrivium by Wooden Books, which is also nice). At no point did I find the information particularly tough to comprehend. I also feel there is enough information presented for those how feel the desire, to recreated the drawings with a straight edge and a compass (which could be a nice meditative practice).
on 8 January 2014
If you are a mathematician, a gardener, a person like any other who finds great wonder and beauty in the world, then you will indeed find a special place for this beautifully illustrated book in both your mind and on your book shelf. Here, the world is presented in all its remarkable glory through the most amazing geometric designs, delicately produced, found in nature and all material existence and like a magical mirror reflects to us the the great mystery of existence and of all things. Like many of the scientists who study physics have come to realise, there is much evidence to suggest our universe is both intelligent and spiritual. Believe me, you will delight in owning this remarkable study.