December 26, 2012 at 10:39 pm

The Great Year of the World – Sacred Geometry, Cosmic Cycles and Catastrophe


“A cosmic tempo based on Sacred Geometry, encoded in myth & mystical architecture throughout the Earth governs the unfolding of world ages, the rise and fall of civilizations & is ultimately the very basis of apocalyptic prophecy” – Randall Carlson

When I was commencing my studies of geometry in the early 1970s, one of the first books which I consulted was a ragged copy of a self-instruction text entitled Geometry for the Practical Man, first published in 1934. To this day it is still one of my favorites. It has been re-issued multiple times, and, incidentally, is now entitled Geometry for the Practical Person. Anyway, in the introductory material about the history of geometry, the author, J. E. Thompson, had this to say:

Most of the ancient records show that definite methods and knowledge of measurement arose in connection with land measurement, building and astrology…the forerunner of astronomy. In this connection the Babylonians supposed that the heavens revolved around the earth and that the year consisted of 360 days. This led them to divide the circle into 360 parts and thus probably originated the present degree system of angle measure.” [1]

The Aztecs, who most likely inherited their traditions from the Mayans, describe four world ages prior to the current one, which would make this the fifth age, or fifth Sun.

At the time I thought that clearly the Babylonians were not too sophisticated if they believed the year was only 360 days in length. It wouldn’t take too many years for it to be apparent that something was seriously amiss with their calendar. Whether the length of the year was the reason or not, it seemed that the division of a circle into 360 degrees was a very logical thing to do, given that the number 360 has a large number of factors, and could therefore be divided into a large number of sectors, or pie shaped slices, without having any pie left over. Only later did I learn that the Babylonians were by no means the only culture that utilized a 360 day calendar, a fact to which I shall return in due course.

It was also around this time that I was assiduously studying a variety of sacred traditions, stimulated by a conviction that there was an underlying unity to the world’s systems of spiritual belief. In the ensuing years this conviction, in spite of obvious dissimilarities in outer forms, has been more than amply confirmed to my satisfaction in a general philosophical sense. However, while pursuing these studies I serendipitously encountered a number of details from widely disparate traditions that seemed to specifically confirm a commonality of source, or of experience, at a very fundamental level. As a youth I had loved reading mythology, so was already somewhat familiar with certain ideas that were later to exert a potent influence upon my thinking. One of these ideas was the Greek tradition of four world ages, represented as the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Associated with this concept of world ages was the idea of a decline of humankind from an exalted status in the Golden Age to an increasingly degraded condition through successive ages. As I became more knowledgeable regarding other traditions I realized how extensive were the parallels to this Greek idea.

In the Book of the Hopi, published in 1963, which purported to be the first revelation of the Hopi Indians religious and world views to the public at large, the author, Frank Waters describes their tradition of world ages which are strikingly similar to Greek ideas, with the addition of noteworthy details. As with the Greeks there are described four world ages of declining virtue, but in addition, there are included descriptions of the phenomenon accompanying the transition from one world age to the next. The first world is destroyed by a great conflagration and the survivors of this world do so by taking refuge underground. The second world is destroyed by an event that has all the characteristics of a shift of the Earth’s polar axis, followed by a brutal ice age. The third world comes to an end with the onset of a colossal flood, from which the virtuous people survive by building vessels out of reeds. After the cessation of the deluge the survivors migrate and multiply to repopulate what becomes the present, or fourth world.

The Hopi revelations parallel those of the Mayan and the Aztecs. The Aztecs represent each world age by a Sun, supposing that with each transition the reigning Sun is extinguished to be replaced by a new one.  The Aztecs, who most likely inherited their traditions from the Mayans, describe four world ages prior to the current one, which would make this the fifth age, or fifth Sun.  As with the Hopis each world age is terminated by a great catastrophe: The first world, which was a world of giants, was devoured by Jaguars; the second world succumbed to a mighty hurricane; the third world was reduced to ashes by a rain of fire from the sky; the fourth world was drowned in a mighty deluge, which it is said, was so powerful it washed away mountains and brought down the sky.

The greek philosopher, Plato,wrote about this land called Atlantis in two of his dialogues, Timaeus and Critias, around 370 B.C. Plato stated that the continent lay in the Atlantic Ocean near the Straits of Gibraltar until its destruction 10,000 years previous.

The Greeks, like the ancient Hebrews, Sumerians and Babylonians preserved tales of a great world destroying flood. Their flood hero was named Deucalion, who survived because he was given forewarning of the impending cataclysm by Prometheus and was able to build a vessel in which to take refuge.

Plato, in his dialogue Timaeus, wherein he introduces the reader to the legend of Atlantis, recounts the story of Solon, Greek Athenian statesman, philosopher and poet, during his sojourn in Egypt. Solon inquires of a number of priests about matters of antiquity, whereupon he is informed that Greeks are but children in their knowledge of ancient times. One of the priests, who was of a very great age, relates to Solon that

. . .there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition; nor any science which is hoary with age. And I will tell you the reason of this. There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes.”[2]

The elderly priest describes how the human race always increases in number, performing deeds noble and great, developing writing, building temples for the preservation of learning, but then

. . .at the usual period, the stream from heaven descends like a pestilence, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and thus you have to begin all over again as children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times. . .”

The narrative of the old priest makes it clear that the cause, or causes or such destructions is celestial in nature, raising a question of considerable importance and one which I shall explore in depth in another time and place. The priest then informs Solon that the genealogies of the Greeks are no better than the tales of children in that their memories of antiquity are of limited duration compared to that of the Egyptians. Supporting this claim he states:

. . . in the first place you remember one deluge only, whereas there were many of them; and in the next place, you do not know that there dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, of whom you and your whole city are but a seed or remnant. And this was unknown to you, because for many generations the survivors of that destruction died and made no sign.”

The Greeks, like the ancient Hebrews, Sumerians and Babylonians preserved tales of a great world destroying flood. Their flood hero was named Deucalion, who survived because he was given forewarning of the impending cataclysm by Prometheus and was able to build a vessel in which to take refuge.

The deluge accounts in the traditions of the Hopis, the Mayans and the Aztecs, and the Greek traditions recounted by Plato, mirror the Biblical story of the great flood which destroyed a degenerate humanity, leaving only Noah and his family as survivors. Taking the biblical account at face value would give one the impression of only two world ages, the antediluvian world of the Patriarchs and the post-diluvial world of Noah’s progeny. That there may have been traditions of additional world ages is hinted at in the very first chapter of Genesis, wherein God (Elohim) instructs Adam to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” Note that the King James translation uses the term replenish for the Hebrew word mala, meaning to fill. Webster’s definition of replenish is: “to bring back to a state of fullness or completeness, to fill again or anew.” Did the translators of the King James Version of the Old Testament deliberately mean to suggest the possibility of a previous world by use of the term ‘replenish’? I think the implication here is clear—the Adamic age was not the first, but followed a prior age, the account of which is conspicuously absent from the Old Testament narrative but is certainly more consistent with numerous other cultural traditions of a succession of world ages separated by great disasters.

In most ancient cultures of which we have knowledge, time was perceived as a cyclical phenomenon, and great catastrophes were an inherent part of that model. With the advent of the Judeao-Christian belief system concepts of time tended to become linear rather than cyclical, with a definite starting point in Genesis and an end point in the final Judgement, with one great interruption in the form of the Deluge. What preceded the first day of Genesis or followed the Day of Judgement was of little concern; history had a beginning and a conclusion and was playing out according to a divine script.

Science now recognizes the role of great catastrophes in the history of the Earth, and, evidence is accumulating for the existence of periodicity within the processes of global change.

Yet it now seems obvious that the archaic models of time were actually more accurate. Science now recognizes the role of great catastrophes in the history of the Earth, and, evidence is accumulating for the existence of periodicity within the processes of global change. To what extent modern scientific findings can be reconciled with ancient mythic or religious traditions remains to be seen, yet the more we learn the more it seems likely that some degree of reconciliation is likely.

One of the most influential works in this regard is the controversial 1969 work by Italian-American historian of science Giorgio de Santillana and German ethnologist Hertha von Dechend entitled Hamlet’s Mill. The intention of the work is conveyed concisely by the authors who assert that

The task then was to discover from the remote past an utterly lost science, linked to an equally lost culture−one in which anthropologists have seen only illiterate primitive man.”[3]

At the core of this lost science they see a sophisticated astronomy, one which recognizes the reality of grand cycles governing the processes of cosmic and terrestrial change. It is this idea of a major cycle, subsuming lesser cycles such as the diurnal (daily) and annual cycles that leads to the notion of a Great Year. The actual duration of such a greater, inclusive cycle has been a matter of diverse opinion through the centuries. Professor of Religion David Ulansey addresses this question in The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries:

The conception of the Great Year had a long and varied history in the ancient world, appearing not only in Greek philosophy but also in Persian, Indian, and Babylonian mythology . . . the concept of the Great Year entered the Greek philosophical tradition long before the time of Zeno. Thus calculations of Great Years of varying length are attributed to such people as Philolaus the Pythagorean (born c. 479 B.C.E.) and the pre-Socratic Heraclitus, as well as the astronomer Aristarchus . . . Plato also seems to refer to a Great Year in the Timaeus . . . According to Censorinus, the Great Year of Heraclitus was 10,800 years, and that of Aristarchus was 2,484 years. Among the Stoics, there were most likely differing opinions on the length of the Great Year. The only opinion for which we have an exact estimate is that of Diogenes of Babylonia, who . . . valued the Great Year at ‘360 times the Great Year of Heraclitus.’ Aetios gives the Great Year of Heraclitus as 18,000 years . . . which makes the Great Year of Diogenes 360 times 18,000 or 6,480,000 years.”[4]

De Santillana and von Dechend, on the other hand make the case that the slow shifting motion of the Earth’s axis, called Precession, provides the basis for defining the duration of the Great Year. The discovery of Precession is attributed by historical orthodoxy to the Greek astronomer and mathematician Hipparchus in the year 127 B.C., but the authors of Hamlet’s Mill contend that it was actually known at least a millennium earlier. The authors argue that

There is good reason to assume that he actually rediscovered this, that it had been known some thousand years previously, and that on it the Archaic Age based its long-range computation of time.” [5]

This claim has remained controversial to this day. However, it is our impression that the authors of Hamlet’s Mill may actually have been overly conservative in their contention that knowledge of the precessional cycle predated Hipparchus by only a millennium. In any case Ulansey seems to concur that this cycle was the basis of the Great Year according to his researches into the cosmological beliefs at the core of the Mithraic religion, however, he does not assume that knowledge of precession necessarily predated Hipparchus.

Precession is generally assumed to be the consequence of the combined gravitational tug of the Moon and the Sun upon Earth’s equatorial bulge, causing the Earth’s axis to swing around in a long, slow oscillation resembling the motion of a spinning top. This motion causes the point of intersection of the Earth’s orbital plane (the plane of the ecliptic) and its equatorial plane (the celestial equator) to move in the sky relative to the fixed stars. The direction of motion is toward the west, the opposite direction from the normal apparent yearly movement of the Sun against the backdrop of stars and the actual movement of the Moon and planets, which is toward the east, hence the term precession. There are actually two points of intersection between the two planes on opposite sides of the Earth. These are the two equinoxes, marking the first moments of Spring and Autumn, and when the Sun appears to cross either of these points of intersection day and night are of equal length. From ancient times the position of the Vernal, or spring equinox has determined the first point of Aries, the first of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Because of Precession of the Equinoxes the position of the sign of Aries is slowly shifting. Here it must be understood that any given zodiacal sign is not the same as the constellations after which the sign was originally named. The constellations are fixed, the signs are moving.

Nor is it unscientific to hypothesize those cataclysmic episodes may have left an imprint in the belief systems of archaic humanity, influencing mythology, religion and psychology to an extent under-appreciated until only recently.

Without necessarily trying to give an all-inclusive explanation of the phenomenon, suffice it to say for now that the rate of motion of the equinoxes has been measured at just slightly over 50 arc seconds per year, frequently rounded to 50 seconds.

From the human vantage point on Earth how great a distance would 50 arc seconds appear to be in the sky? The Moon, when full, covers about one half of one degree. Given that there are 30 arc minutes in one half of a degree, and 60 arc seconds per minute, the motion of the equinoxes would, each year, be right at 1/36th part of the distance across the face of the full moon. At the rate of 50 arc seconds per year it would take 72 years for the equinoxes to move against the backdrop of fixed stars one full degree, or twice the diameter of the full Moon. And, moving at the rate of 72 years per degree, to make the full circuit around the entire zodiac would take 72 years x 360 degrees or 25,920 years. Since the modern measured rate of precession is slightly more than 50 seconds of arc per year, the full precessional cycle will take somewhat less than 25,920 years. However, we do not know for sure that the modern rate will hold consistent throughout the entire cycle, so this length of time is sufficiently accurate. Oftentimes one will see the full period of the precessional cycle rounded up to 26,000 years. To fully grasp the phenomenon of Precession of the Equinoxes is a somewhat daunting task and is helped immeasurably by the use of illustrations and/or animations.

Now is where it starts to get interesting. The authors of Hamlet’s Mill draw an important association between the precessional cycle and the cycle of catastrophes which we discussed above:

“…the equinoctial ‘points’― and therefore, the solstitial ones, too ― do not remain forever where they should in order to make celestial goings-on easier to understand, namely, at the same spot with respect to the sphere of the fixed stars. Instead they stubbornly move along the ecliptic in the opposite direction to the yearly course of the sun, that is, against the ‘right’ sequence of the zodiacal signs . . .This phenomenon is called Precession of the Equinoxes, and it was conceived as causing the rise and the cataclysmic fall of ages of the world.”[6]

In the passage above the authors are pointing to what I believe to be the most important implication of beliefs regarding the cycle of precession, “the rise and the cataclysmic fall of ages of the world.” Here we must turn to the historical record and to the sciences of geology, astronomy, archaeology, paleontology and so on to determine whether modern ideas of periodic change can be reconciled with archaic traditions.

The title Hamlet’s Mill is a reference to what the authors perceive to be the forerunner of the Shakespearian tale in the form of the Norse myth of Amlodhi, who owned a great mill, which, through the ages fell into ruin, eventually ending up on the bottom of the sea, where, through its turning, it gives rise to a great maelstrom, or whirlpool. The mill is seen as an image of the conical sweeping around of the Earth’s axis through the ages in the process of precession. As they describe it

This imagery stands, as the evidence develops, for an astronomical process, the secular shifting of the sun through the signs of the zodiac which determines world-ages, each numbering thousands of years. Each age brings a World Era, a Twilight of the Gods. Great structures collapse; pillars topple which supported the great fabric; floods and cataclysms herald the shaping of the new world . . .” [7]

The authors of Hamlet’s Mill interpret the imagery of cataclysm figuratively, seeing in it a metaphor for the changing dominance of astronomical configurations as a result of the precessional motion. They fail to recognize the possibility of actual catastrophic events provoking the literal destruction of worlds or the association of such events with changing celestial relationships, but given the prevailing paradigms of the era in which they conducted their research this should not be surprising. We have come a long way since the mid Twentieth century in our understanding of Earths cataclysmic history. Nevertheless they cannot entirely escape the literal implications of their research:

The image of the mill and its owner yielded elsewhere to more sophisticated ones, more adherent to celestial events. In Plato’s powerful mind, the figure stood out as the Craftsman God, the Demiurge, who shaped the heavens; but even Plato did not escape the idea he had inherited, of catastrophes and the periodic rebuilding of the world.” [8]

Given what is now known about the nature of geological change over the course of multiple time scales it is not exaggeration to speak of actual, far-reaching destructions and the subsequent rebuilding of a new world. Nor is it unscientific to hypothesize those cataclysmic episodes may have left an imprint in the belief systems of archaic humanity, influencing mythology, religion and psychology to an extent under-appreciated until only recently.

Considering the various concepts of a Great Year cycle held by ancient peoples, the version based upon the precession of the equinoxes would seem the most credible, and it is to this model that we will now direct our attention.

If we think of Earths daily, or diurnal, rotation on its axis as its first, or primary motion, the one most apparent to a casual observer, and, if we think of Earth’s annual revolution about the Sun as its secondary motion, we can consider precession to be Earth’s third motion. It must be born in mind that the Earth’s axis is not perpendicular to its plane of orbit but is tilted over at 23.5 degrees. At the present epoch a line of extension from Earth’s North Pole almost intersects the star Polaris, our North Star. But as the axis swings around eventually it will no longer point in the same direction. As described above the full cycle takes about 26,000 years. About half way through the cycle or in about 13,000 years the pole star will be Vega, as it was about 13,000 years ago.

To further help the reader to visualize the precessional cycle the following illustration shows the celestial sphere from ‘outside.’ In this perspective the tilt between the Celestial Equator and the Plane of the Ecliptic is apparent. Note that the Celestial Equator, which is really just an imaginary line, is simply Earth’s equator projected out onto the celestial sphere. So as Earth’s polar axis moves so does Earth’s equator, and as Earth’s equator moves so does the Celestial Equator.

In this diagram the solar motion is counter clockwise. The moment of Spring occurs when the Sun in its yearly journey, crosses, or transits, zero degrees Aries. Again, it is important to understand that when we speak of the ‘signs’ of the zodiac we are not speaking of the same thing as the constellations which bear the same name. The signs are idealized divisions of the solar path through the course of a year. They are equally spaced at 30 degrees for each sign. (360 ÷ 12 = 30) The sign of Aries is always the first sign to the east of the Vernal Equinox, and, as the Equinox moves to the west at 50 arc seconds per year Aries and the rest of the signs follow. So in the present epoch the sign of Aries is actually transposed over the constellation of Pisces. To achieve a correlation between the signs and the constellations which gave them their name we would need to go back about 2,400 years. At what exact point a perfect correlation between signs and constellations would occur can only be approximated.

It is Precession of the Equinoxes that gives rise to the succession of ages with which virtually everyone has become familiar through pop culture, i.e. the progression from the Age of Pisces into the Age of Aquarius. What this actually means in the astronomical sense is that the Vernal Equinox sliding westward along the plane of the ecliptic at 50 arc seconds per year has spent approximately the last 2000 years moving through the constellation of Pisces and is now approaching the constellation Aquarius. The following graphic illustrates Spring Equinox in the year 2013.

Made with Voyager 4.5

The direction of view is to the south. The white line represents the Celestial Equator and the orange line represents the Plane of the Ecliptic. The Plane of the Ecliptic stays fixed in space while the Celestial Equator moves in synch with the motion of Earth’s polar axis as described. The position of the Vernal Equinox is one of the two points of intersection between the two planes. Of course, this is not the natural sky as seen from Earth at this moment since the stars in this scene would not be visible, however if you could see the stars in the sky in the vicinity of the Sun this is what you would see. In this image the Sun in its daily motion would be moving to the left while the celestial equator would be drifting to the right, again, at the virtually imperceptible rate of 50 arc seconds per year. According to the modern configuration of the zodiacal constellations it is apparent that the Vernal Equinox has a ways to go yet before it actually enters the field of stars comprising the constellation of Aquarius, in fact it will be about 600 more years before the Vernal Equinox actually enters the star field of Aquarius, so perhaps it would be somewhat premature for New Age enthusiasts to get too excited about the dawning of the Age of Aquarius just yet.

I realize that many readers of this website will already be familiar with many, or at least some of the astronomical concepts described in this article, but I have dwelt at length upon them because they are essential to understanding the Ancient Mysteries. Our predecessors all over the ancient world were almost fanatically interested in the celestial domain and in the interactions between that domain and this terrestrial world here below, and in order to understand the motivation for this interest it is vital to gain as much insight as possible into the basic principles.

This would be a good point to mention that there exists two yearly cycles—the tropical year and the sidereal year. The tropical year is our calendar year, the one that must be corrected by adding one extra day every four years. It is the time between successive transits of the Sun across the vernal equinox at zero degrees Aries. It is measured at 365.24219 days. The sidereal year is the length of time for the Earth to successively transit a fixed point in space, say for example a star. The sidereal year is measured at 365.25636 days. Notice that the tropical year is slightly shorter than the sidereal. That is because in the time it takes Earth to revolve about the Sun the vernal equinox has backed up 50 arc seconds and therefore meets the Earth slightly before it returns to the same position relative to the stars.

Precessional Cycle as viewed from above the North pole

The authors of Hamlet’s Mill go on to describe the changing of ages in interesting terms and introduce an important idea:

The sun’s position among the constellations at the vernal equinox was the pointer that indicated the ‘hours’ of the precessional cycle—very long hours indeed, the equinoctial sun occupying each zodiacal constellation for about 2,200 years. The constellation that rose in the east just before the sun (that is, rose heliacally) marked the ‘place’ where the sun rested. At this time it was known as the sun’s ‘carrier,’ and as the main ‘pillar’ of the sky, the vernal equinox being recognized as the fiducial point of the ‘system,’ determining the first degree of the sun’s yearly circle, the first day of the year.” [9]

Here the authors are drawing an analogy between the grand cycle of precession, what I am suggesting constituted the ‘Great Year’ and Earth’s tropical year. They are also invoking the image of a clock, where the signs correspond to the hours and the equinoctial line is the hour hand of that cosmic clock. If you refer back to of the diagram of the celestial sphere and look at the line connecting zero degrees Aries to zero degrees Libra you will get the picture. As you can see this clock also has a second hour hand in the form of the Solsticial line running at right angles to the equinoctial, which has significance in terms of the astronomical events of Winter Solstice, 2012. I would suggest here that the meaning of that date can only be grasped in the context of the Great Year cycle, a point to which I shall return directly.

The idea of a correspondence between these astronomical cycles of varying scale was fundamental to Zoroastrian concepts of time. Orientalist Anna Krasnowolska writes

Iranians, like their Indian kinsmen and other peoples of antiquity, saw a parallel between a yearly and a cosmic cycle. The Zoroastrians were familiar with the idea of a “World Year” in which the 12 months and their respective zodiac signs corresponded to the cosmic year’s twelve millennia. The natural year was then perceived as an image of the world’s duration, from its creation to the Resurrection.” [10]

Another author, 19th century scholar and mythologist Daniel Brinton perceived the analogy between the yearly cycle and the grand cosmic cycle:

The analogy of nature, as seen in the vernal flowers springing up after the desolation of winter, of the sapling sprouting from the fallen trunk, of life everywhere rising from death, suggests…the belief in Epochs of Nature, elaborated by ancient philosophers into the Cycles of the Stoics, the Great Days of Brahm, long periods of time rounded off by sweeping destructions, the Cataclysms and Ekpyrauses of the universe.” [11]

Orientalists E. S. Kennedy and B. L. Van Der Waerdan add further detail on archaic beliefs regarding the consequences of the cyclic change to the terrestrial world:

The notion of cyclically recurrent cosmic disasters, a catastrophe by flood alternating with one by fire…has been traced from ancient Babylonia and Iran through Pythagorean and Stoic philosophy, thence into the medieval world.” [12]

Another 19th century professor of history at the University of New York, John William Draper published a work in 1878 entitled History of the Conflict Between Science and Religion that brings us back to the idea with which we commenced this essay:

It was thought that, in the antediluvian world, the year consisted of three hundred and sixty days. Some even affirmed that this was the origin of the division of the circle into three hundred and sixty degrees. At the time of the Deluge, so many theologians declared, the motion of the sun was altered, and the year became five days and six hours longer. There was a prevalent opinion that the stupendous event occurred on November 2nd, in the year of the world 1656.” [13]

Here Draper is referring to the widespread belief among ancient peoples in a year of 360 days. He is also associating the change in the years’ duration with the Deluge, arguing that that event was associated with some kind of astronomical catastrophe. The much maligned catastrophist author of the 1950s, Immanuel Velikovsky, extensively documented the widespread existence of a 360 day yearly calendar in the ancient world.[14] While much of Velikovsky’s astronomical explanations for the cause of ancient catastrophes has been discredited, his documentation of ancient traditions and geological evidence for the reality great catastrophes has mostly stood the test of time.

Mid 20th century scholar George Thomson in his studies on the origins of the Greek calendar wrote:

The Egyptians had two calendars, which they used concurrently. The year was divided into thirds, each containing four months of 30 days each (360). In the Sliding Calendar, which was probably in continuous use from the protodynastic period down to Roman times, five days were intercalated annually, bring the total to 365. The Egyptians knew that the true length of the solar year was approximately 365¼ days, but they neglected the fraction deliberately in order to create a progressive deviation between the Sliding Calendar and the Sothic Calendar which is believed to have been instituted at the summer solstice in 2769 B.C. . . .The Babylonian calendar was based on a year of 360 days divided into halves and beginning at the vernal equinox. Each half-year contained six months of 30 days.” [15]

One of the fundamental ideas at the heart of Sacred Geometry is the principle of scale invariance, where the dimensions and proportions of the whole are reflected throughout the parts, on multiple scales.

Mythologist Donald A. Mackenzie extensively studied pre-Columbian mythological beliefs and saw striking parallels between old and new world traditions.

Time was equaled with space and 12 x 30 gave 360 days for the year. In Babylonia, Egypt, India, and Mexico the year was one of 360 days to which 5 godless or unlucky days were added, during which no laws obtained. That the Mexicans should have originated this system quite independently is difficult to believe.” [16]

The equating of time with space is extremely significant but is beyond the scope of this article. I address some of this exceptionally interesting correspondence in the DVD now in production. I should comment that I do not believe the length of the year was actually 360 days in length with 12 lunar months of 30 days each. I do however believe that ancient peoples had a conception of the idealized working of the machinery of the universe, in which all the parts meshed like perfectly synchronized gears. As a builder I know that there is always some deviation between the idealized designs as portrayed in the blueprints by the Architect, and the actual, tangible structure constructed from those blueprints, the extent of the deviation determined by the level of craftsmanship in the execution of the work and exaggerated by the vagaries of time, both serving to introduce a measure of discrepancy between the ideal and the actual. I think the philosophers of old had a conception of the proportions and relations constituting a harmonious creation, and attempted to ascertain the divergence of the proportions of the material world from the archetypal world by recognizing the existence of a Sacred Year.

One of the fundamental ideas at the heart of Sacred Geometry is the principle of scale invariance, where the dimensions and proportions of the whole are reflected throughout the parts, on multiple scales. This phenomenon pertains to the measures of Time as well as of Space, and is revealed by adjusting the timing of astronomic cycles in the same manner as did the ancient philosophers. When this is done some very interesting relationships appear.

Consider the analogy between a Great, or Cosmic year of 25,920 years length and an annual, or human scale year idealized at 360 days. As the annual year is divided into 4 seasons and 12 months, we could think of a Great Year as being divided likewise. Then each cosmic season is comprised of 6,480 human years and each cosmic month is comprised of 2,160 years, with the latter number being the numbers of years the Vernal Equinox spends traversing each sign of the zodiac. The 4 seasons of the cosmic year are frequently symbolized by the four fixed signs of the zodiac, those being Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. Both the Old and New Testaments make reference to the 4 cosmic seasons:  *Editors note – to view a video demonstrating these relationships please watch “Cosmic Patterns and Cycles of Catastrophe DVD previews part 1 & 2

Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures…and every one had four faces, and every one had four wings…

As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side: they four also had the face of an eagle…”

Ezekiel 1st chapter

And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: And in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.

And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.

Revelation 4th chapter

In astrological reckoning the eagle is frequently substituted for the scorpion because the constellation Aquila, the eagle, rises with and just to the east of Scorpio, and hence marks the same time of year.

The association of the 4 creatures with the 4 evangelists of the gospels does not contradict their esoteric, astronomical meaning, but instead implies a deeper astronomical meaning to the Christian scriptures.

The four creatures are quite frequently displayed on the tympanums of both Romanesque and Gothic churches and cathedrals, usually arrayed around Christ in Majesty, in which the seated figure of Christ is placed inside the Vesica Piscis, the symbol of the fish, and therefore of the Piscean age, as well as being the fundamental operation of geometry, and therefore a symbol of the womb from which emerges all form.

The 4 cosmic seasons are also symbolized by the Templar cross within the nimbus behind the head of Christ. The image below shows the main entrance to Chartres Cathedral, which is called the Portal of Judgment, suggesting the connection between the Great Year and the cycle of catastrophes, bringing Christian doctrine into line with other traditions of cyclical time and the recurrence of periodic catastrophes.

* Editors note please view part 3 of “Cosmic Patterns and Cycles of Catastrophe” DVD preview for a video description of the above material

The Portal of Judgment, Chartres Cathedral

In the discussion of the precessional cycle of 25,920 years, we saw that the Vernal Equinox required 72 years to traverse one degree of celestial arc, and 72 years is virtually the average span of a human life. Therefore, symbolically speaking, we can say that a human life represents one 360th part of a Great Year, or in other words, a human life equals one day of the Great Year.

And, to further underscore the synthesis of human scale with macroscale phenomenon we observe that an average human life span of 72 idealized years of 360 days is precisely 25,920 days in length. Therefore we see that as the grand precessional cycle is to a human life, so is a human life to one rotation of the Earth about its axis.

accruing scientific evidence strongly implies an intimate connection between the revolving cosmos above and revolutionary events in the terrestrial world below.

The symbolical correspondences that manifest with these kinds of correlations are quite remarkable. A human life can be envisioned as comprised of 4 seasons, if you will. The 18 years from birth to young adulthood being Spring, 18 years from young adulthood to maturity being Summer, from maturity to middle age being Autumn and the final 18 years of old age being Winter. And, of course, each of those seasons of human life contains 6,480 days, more or less. If you spend 7.2 hours in sleep each night you have slept 25,920 seconds, more or less. If we consider the diurnal cycle of 24 hours, it too breaks agreeably into 4 segments with dawn corresponding to Vernal Equinox, noon with Summer Solstice, dusk with Autumn Equinox and midnight with Winter Solstice. So we can see that there is a correspondence between the cycles of the day, of the year, of a human lifetime and of the Great Year.

You might contemplate the fact that each day of your life is to the totality of your life as the journey of the Earth around the Sun is to the Great Year of the World.

As to the question of periodic catastrophes whose tempo is governed by the timing of the Great Year cycle, that is an issue for another piece of writing, suffice it to say that accruing scientific evidence strongly implies an intimate connection between the revolving cosmos above and revolutionary events in the terrestrial world below.

The final matter that I would offer for the readers consideration is this: to accurately determine the duration of any cycle requires a fiducial point, simply a fixed starting point from which to calibrate our measure. For example, to determine the length of a single day in order to calibrate our clocks, we measure the time elapsed between successive transits of the Sun across longitude zero, which is marked by the Greenwich Meridian. To establish the length of the tropical year we determine the time elapsed between successive transits of the solar orb across zero degrees Aries, the Vernal Equinox, a relatively fixed point in space. Through the clock with its twelve hours and the calendar with its twelve months we have a means to determine where we are in the daily and annual cycles at any given moment. How could we calibrate the length of the Great Year to determine where in the cycle we find ourselves at any given time? I would suggest that as with the diurnal and annual cycles some fixed reference point would provide the means. But what fiducial point could we, or for that matter, some ancient culture, use to determine where in the cycle of the Great Year we happen to be at a given time?

Winter Solstice, Galactic Center Alignment 2012

For the message clearly emerging is that the ancient philosophers knew that the tempo of the great cosmic changes was the power “causing the rise and the cataclysmic fall of ages of the world.”

The image above shows the situation on Dec. 17, 2012, the Sun has shifted out of the constellation of Scorpio, seen to the right, and is about to enter the constellation of Sagittarius. The yellow horizontal line represents the Plane of the Ecliptic. The cyan colored diagonal line represents the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy. The galactic center can be seen at the intersection of the galactic plane and the bright green vertical line. The heavy white line represents the Winter Solstice. On this day the Sun is closer to the Galactic center than at any other time in its yearly journey through the constellations of the zodiac and is poised precisely at the tip of the Archers arrow. Four days later the Sun crosses the galactic plane on the day of the Winter Solstice. Could this have anything to do with the apparent Mayan concern for this particular date, in that it simply marks the passage of the Winter Solstice close to the galactic center, perhaps an ideal fixed reference with which to calibrate a starting point for the Great Year. The unique perspective provided over the course of these several days is due to the fact that the Earth, the Sun and the Galactic Center are arranged in a quite accurate alignment at an auspicious moment, the moment of Winter Solstice when the Sun begins its return journey to the Northern Hemisphere. Actually, it may be that a better fiducial point would be the Vernal Equinox, which will in 6,480 years occupy the same point as the Winter Solstice does now, and perhaps as it marks the birth of the annual cycle of the Sun, it will mark the birth of a new Great Year cycle.

Incidentally the date of Dec. 22, 2222 AD might have significance due to the fact that the Winter Solstice point will then precisely occupy the position on the Ecliptic right at the point of the Archers arrow, the closest point on the Ecliptic to the center of the Galaxy.

I hope this little essay has aided the reader in reaching an improved understanding of the machinery of the Cosmos, and a greater realization of the truth of the Hermetic dictum that as it is above, so it is below, for the working of the One Miracle. The ancient philosophers knew that the unfolding cycles above influenced the course of events here below, and, I would submit, have provided their descendants, meaning us, with a tool in the form of the Great Year model, that will assist us in determining just where in the Cosmic Seasons we find ourselves. For the message clearly emerging is that the ancient philosophers knew that the tempo of the great cosmic changes was the power “causing the rise and the cataclysmic fall of ages of the world.”

If you would like to understand better the evidence I’ve gathered over the last 4 decades demonstrating the intersection between archaic myth and modern science; confirming the great year model’s cycles of catastrophe, please consider purchasing our new 4 hour DVD program entitled, “Cosmic Patterns and Cycles of Catastrophe”. All proceeds go towards the proliferation of this information and continuance of this most vital research towards establishing a new paradigm and greater harmony for humankind.

Thank you for your support of this monumental unveiling of esoteric knowledge.

For a recent amendment and update to this article please read “Ask Randall: Duration of the Great Year”

If you are interested in taking our Sacred Geometry classes with Randall Carlson classes are forming now for early 2013 and spaces are limited. To find out more please contact us.


  1. Thompson, J. E. (1934) Geometry for the Practical Man: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc. p. 3 [back to text]
  2. Plato, Timaeus ( ) The Works of Plato, Benjamin Jowett Translation, Dial Press [back to text]
  3. Santillana, Giorgio de & Hertha von Dechend (1969) Hamlet’s Mill: An essay on myth and the frame of time. David R. Godine, Publisher, p. 65 [back to text]
  4. Ulansey, David (1989) The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World. Oxford University Press. pp. 74 – 75 [back to text]
  5. Santillana and von Dechend (1969) p. 66 [back to text]
  6. Ibid, pp. 58 – 59 [back to text]
  7. Ibid, p. 2 [back to text]
  8. Ibid, p. 3 [back to text]
  9. Ibid. p. 59 [back to text]
  10. Krasnowolska, Anna (1998) Some Key Figures of Iranian Calendar Mythology: Universitas, Krakow. pp. 82-83. [back to text]
  11. Brinton, Daniel (1868) Myths of the New World [back to text]
  12. Kennedy, E. S. & B. L. Van Der Waerdan (1963) The World-Year of the Persians: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 83, pp. 315-327 [back to text]
  13. John William Draper, M.D., LL. D. (1878) History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science: The International Scientific Series, Vol. XIII, Henry S. King & Co., London. p. 185 [back to text]
  14. Velikovsky, Immanuel (1950) Worlds in Collision: Doubleday, see pages 333 – 350 [back to text]
  15. Thomson, George (1943) The Greek Calendar: Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 63, pp. 52 – 65 [back to text]
  16. Mackenzie, Donald A. (1923) Myths of Pre-Columbian America, reprinted by Longwood Press, Ltd. p. 70 [back to text]



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