THE JOHN MICHELL
John Michell was a
best-selling author and world authority on the mysteries of existence.
March 2001 and August 2002, John wrote a series of articles on a
esoteric subjects for Jonathan's website and the Daily Mirror newspaper
in the UK.
It was a
thrill to have John writing for us about unexplained phenomena. I have
admirer of his work since I was a teenager. I hope you enjoy his
face from space
This is the face
that is causing a sensation around the world. It
appears to have been transmitted from outer space, but who is it meant
Elvis? Jesus? Your average ET? And is it male or female? black or
or evil? Everyone I ask gives a different answer .
The only certainty
about the Face is that it appeared overnight
on August 19 in a
It was not just any field, but right beside the Chilbolton radio
That is where they look deep into space for evidence of alien life.
looked, alien life came up behind them and left its mark on their back
there is a sense of humour beyond earth.
With the Face came
a message, also imprinted on the wheat field.
It was a reply to the data about ourselves and our planet which we sent
space a few years ago. It gives the colTesponding data about another
the universe. Astronomers are now trying to decode it.
This is the most
exciting thing that has happened in my lifetime.
Earlier this year I promised to keep readers in touch with crop-circle
No one had expected much, due to foot & mouth closing access to
But it turned out to be a spectacular summer. A huge crop formation, a
feet wide and made up of 409 separate circles, appeared in Wiltshire,
were many other beautiful designs. Then, as climax, came the Face and
Perhaps it really
is communication from space - but I am
suspicious. It is all too neat, too carefully set up. There is humour
in it all
right. But it is the sort of humour I know well, because it is human. I
there is human intelligence behind crop circles. Some of them are made
hoaxers, stamping out patterns in cornfields. Others - the masterpieces
generated on someone's computer screen and then beamed directly onto a
But that is impossible. I know it is, but perhaps some genius has
how to do it, and is treating us to a show of miracles.
crop circle saga
Crop circles have
been in the news for about twenty years. At
first they were simple circles of laid-down crops. Then more
designs appeared. In 1991 a pair of elderly tricksters, 'Doug and Dave', claimed that they
had been making the
circles. The media lost interest in the subject, but the phenomenon
went on. It
has continued each year to produce ever more wonderful patterns. Who or
behind it all? You can believe what you like, because no one really
It is being said
that Nostradamus foresaw the destruction of the
twin towers in New York
and the Pentagon in Washington.
following 'lines' are being quoted widely on the internet.
the year of the new century and nine months
the sky will come a great King of Terror
sky will burn at forty-five degrees
approaches the new
the city of York
there will be a great collapse
twin brothers torn apart by chaos
the fortress falls the great leader will succumb
big war will begin when the big city is burning".
That is a fair
description of what happened, but it is a lie and a
hoax, devised some years ago by a student trying to prove how easy it
fool people. It worked.
The original on
which the hoax text was based is here:
'In the year 1999
and seven months
From the sky will
come the great King of Terror.
He will bring back
to life the great king of the Mongols.
Before and after,
war reigns happily'.
Century X, Quatrain 72)
The problem is
that Nostradamus was a tricky writer, and his
meanings are often unclear.
The reference to
'the great King of Terror' is one of
famous. I remember it
being quoted when Jack and Robert Kennedy were assassinated.
that is being mentioned is St John's in
the book of Revelation - the
last and most interesting book of the Bible. He tells of a great
It is rich and luxurious and thinks it rules the earth. Suddenly it is
destroyed. Details are given in chapter 18 of Revelation, and they are
the Fall of Babylon, St John
describes another city. It is called
the Heavenly Jerusalem. Everything in it is beautiful and perfect. It
very opposite of Babylon.
That great city was controlled by money, but the ideal world-city is
God's law. All nations have their part in it and live together in
Even though they
appear to be opposites, Babylon and the
heavenly city are really one
and the same. They represent human society in different stages of
And the people in them are the same. It is easy to compare New York to Babylon,
but the victims of the twin-towers disaster were the same good,
who will inhabit the paradise to come on earth. We curse the cruel
murdered them. But we know from history that all great changes come
violence and slaughter. That seems to be how it works.
The seer of history
(1503-66) was a very learned French-Jewish
doctor. In his thirties he began to receive prophecies, and to record
verses. It is claimed that he foresaw everything that has happened
including nuclear bombing. His predictions stop at the year 3797.
A leading expert
on Nostradamus, Peter Lemesurier, is furious
about the bogus verses now circulating on the Internet. He says: "It's a disgrace. People
want Nostradamus to to have predicted the latest
event; they take a quatrain from a corrupt edition of his work or a bad
translation or invent new verses entirely of their own."
Nostradamus in the
21st Century by Peter Lemesurier (Piatkus).
subject was Nostradamus and whether or not he
predicted the terrorist outrage in New York. It
all depends on how you interpret his
sayings. But the disaster was apparently foreseen by a number of
at the World
towers. Bad dreams and premonitions kept them at home on the fatal
their lives were spared.
It has always been
known that great dramas and tragedies 'cast
their shadows before them'. That is why in ancient times every state
prophetic oracle. Whenever the rulers planned to do something they
advice. If the oracle warned against the plan they abandoned it.
There are no such
oracles today, but we still have premonitions ï¿½"
advance warnings of catastrophes. The loss of the Titanic in 1912 was
foreseen that several would-be passengers cancelled their tickets.
feelings of doom and dread, but they overcame their fears and were
1,502 who drowned. It was then discovered that the whole thing had been
predicted fourteen years earlier. A strange, visionary author, Morgan
saw in his imagination a great liner in mid-Atlantic. He also saw that
were not enough lifeboats for its nearly 3,000 passengers. It was said
'unsinkable'. He read its name, 'The Titan'. It was a foggy night, and
speed the ship ran into an iceberg. Robertson's story was called The
the Titan. He wrote it in 1898, years before the Titanic was even
Yet it described in almost every detail the great, doomed liner and
If disasters can
be foreseen they can be prevented. In 1957 that
idea occured to a London
psychiatrist, Dr John Barker. In the first year alone his British
Bureau managed to file over 1,000 cases of premonitions. He hoped to
early warning against future catastrophes. It was a brave effort, but
achieve much and was discontinued a few years later.
It is difficult to
sort out the true prophets from the mad ones ï¿½"
You can only go by your own feelings. I know an American lady who got
airliner before take-off, because she felt it would crash which it
Should she have made a scene and warned the others? What would you have
One of the most
reputable reports of premonition concerns the
horrific disaster on October 21, 1966 in Aberfan, Wales.
A coal tip collapsed and
buried a school, killing 116 children and 28 adults. After the
were a number of reports of premonitions. The mother of one of the
died said that her ten-year-old told her of a dream the night before.
told her mother, â€œI dreamed I went to school and there was no school
Something black had come down all over it.â€
Too right for his
The Great Fire of
London in 1666 was foretold by Nostradamus, Yorkshire's
Mother Shipton and other prophets. The
astrologer William Lilly predicted it to the very day. He was arrested
charged with having caused it. He proved his innocence by showing that
was predicted by his astrological charts.
does the world end?
One day the world
will come to an end. That is certain, because
the universe is solid matter and all material things perish. The same
of human societies. They al1 come to grief in the end, and ours is no
exception. What we would all like to know is, when will it happen?
That is where
confusion sets in. Thousands of prophets have
predicted the end of the world, but so far they have all proved to be
Nostradamus seems to have expected it in July 1999, and other seers
But here we still are, and the next ominous date I know of is 2012.
when the Mayan calendar ends. So the experts say. But I shall be 80
by then, so I do not really care.
say that from time to time we are almost wiped out
by some natural catastrophe. It either happens by fire or impact from
by floods from the waters below. In the first case, only people in
below ground survive. In times of flood, shepherds in the hilltops are
survivors. In either case, those who remain re-populate the earth and
eventually become civilised. And then comes the next disaster.
Is it really like
this? The evidence of geology says so. Recorded
in the rock strata are sudden catastrophes. Old forms of life become
and then new ones appear. Can we now foresee and prevent the natural
that are constantly threatening us? There is much talk about defenses
meteorites and against global warming. But I do not think we can beat
Not in the long run. When our time is up we have to go.
That is true on
all levels. Today's world-crisis reminds us that
we may be approaching the last days. Many people feel that. Prophetic
and Revelation have suddenly become best-sellers. But things are always
and older people always think it means the end of the world. If that is
happening, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Prophecies in the Bible
destruction and renewal are part of the same process. And it is all
somewhere Ã± towards the restoration of paradise on earth.
Can you believe
this? I can, because it seems the best way of
seeing things. I accept that dreadful things may happen Ã± and already
happening. We may even see the rule of a global dictator, or
prophecy foretells. But the evil period soon ends, and then comes the
Millennium. That is when the secret of perfect government is
the whole world is united in harmony. When you start thinking about the
in that way, it begins to become true and you feel happier. That is why
respect the old prophecies. If everything happens as and when it is
you have nothing to worry about.
- The Number of the Beast
"Let him that has
understanding count the number of the
Beast: for it the number of a man, and his number is 666." These are
last words of St
prophecy in chapter 13 of Revelation. They refer to a great leader -
or Antichrist - who will arise in a time of trouble. He will rule the
world by force, and everyone will be marked on their hands or foreheads
his symbol and the number of his name. Then there will be a great war
nations. The Beast and his empire will be destroyed, the Heavenly
will appear on earth and peace and happiness will prevail.
Who will be this
terrible tyrant with the number 666? That
question has been asked ever since St John
foretold his coming. Whoever it is will have a
name whose letters add up to 666. In Greek, the language of the New
each letter also stands for a number. The first letter, alpha, is 1,
omega, is 800, and the number of the Beast is given by three letters,
xi 60 and sigma 6.
In St John's time, the earliest
days of Christianity, the dominant nation was Rome. 666 was
then thought to be the number
of the Roman emperor. Later it was applied to the Roman Church.
writers believed it meant the Pope. Catholic mystics said it was
Other candidates have included Hitler, Stalin and Napoleon. In every
you fiddle with the letters a bit, you can get a result of 666 or
But really this is all nonsense, just a game. It is quite possible that
world-dictator will some day arise. But there is no sign of him yet. I
with the letters of Osama bin Laden's name, but they do not add up to
Yet behind the
nonsense there is a genuine mystery. The early
Christian scholars used a code in which the holy names were also
Greek letters in the name Jesus add up to 888, and the Holy Spirit is
These numbers were also represented in the names of the pagan gods. The
system came from an ancient tradition of spiritual science. For that
was suppressed by the Christian Fathers, and little is known of it
many old secrets are now coming to light. These are times of revelation
fulfilment of prophecies. They may be dreadful times, but I am grateful
living in them.
book The Dimensions of Paradise: The Proportions
and Symbolic Numbers of Ancient Cosmology (Thames & Hudson) is
reading for serious students of mystical number and ancient science.
there really a Hell?
Last week in this
paper two photographs were printed side by side.
One showed an American placard with the face of Osama bin Laden as a
riddled with bullet holes. Above it was written, Rot in Hell. The other
was of an Indonesian girl with Go to Hell USA
written across her headband. It
is a hateful thing to wish someone to hell. It wishes that person a far
punishment than anything that could be suffered on earth. And it does
to the person who wishes it. If there is such a thing as hell, it is
not for us
to decide who goes there.
But is there
really a judgment after death, with souls sent to
hell or heaven? People have always believed so. Socrates, the star of
philosophers, said that, if you do wrong, it is better to get your
over in this world - rather than wait till after death. The reason for
certainty must have been that he had passed through the final stage of
initiation. Those who were ready for it were led underground, into the
of the earth. By drugs or vapours they were put into a state of trance,
experienced a trip to Hades, the Underworld. When they returned to the
they were wiser than before and lived better lives.
frightening thought about hell is that you may never get
out of it. Some religions have threatened that. But they also say that
merciful, so there cannot really be an eternity of torture. There are
levels of hell, according to the degree of your wickedness. In Dante's
swindlers and traitors are thrown into the lowest pit. Socrates said
tyrants, who have murdered thousands and caused widespread misery, are
in the very centre of hell. You are lucky, he said, if your tyranny is
the domestic scale. But you have to pay for the evil you have done -
Not even clergymen
talk much about hell these days. Most of us in
the West probably do not believe in it. And it is not popular in the
New Age. I
have read several books on the 'near-death experience' and found only a
mentions of hell in them. Mostly they tell about a tunnel with a light
end, and a divine being who forgives you everything. I hope it is like
But I cannot really believe that you get off scot-free, or that bloody
dictators go straight to heaven with the innocent. Not that I know
about it directly. I just think it pays to be careful.
entrance to the Underworld
A famous place of
access to the Underworld was St Patrick's
Purgatory on an island in Lough Dergh, Ireland.
The journey down into the
earth and the experience of hell were so awesome that some people did
survive it. The island is now a holy place of Catholic vigils.
and where you find it?
Last week I wrote
about hell, so the subject today is heaven.
There will always be a mystery about what happens after death. Some
that once your brain is dead, that is the end of everything and you
nothing more. Others say that your soul is not material, so it is not
to decay and survives the death of the body. In that case you have to
judgment. If you have led a wicked life you are imprisoned in hell
have served your sentence. If you have always been good and truthful,
your reward in heaven.
A classical story
is that, when you die, you are taken to a place
where there are entrances to four tunnels. Two of them are for souls
and out of paradise, and the other two lead downwards into and out of
Souls that have come from one or other place meet and discuss what it
there. Then they go back to earth and are reborn. But fIrst they have
ftom the river Lethe the waters of oblivion. That means you forget
you have seen in the other world. Plato said that you should not drink
much, because it is useful to remember something about your previous
If you are chosen
to enter paradise you enjoy all kinds of
pleasures. Religious people give different accounts of it. It is often
be like earth, only far more beautiful and delightful. One way of
there, according to some mystics, is to visualise this earth as
you are still alive. â€œIf we do not find it here, how can we find it
asked the Persian poet, Rumi. Another poet, the Irishman George
described a moment when he saw and felt paradise around him. â€œThen I
that the Golden Age had never departed,â€ he wrote. It is just that we
forgotten how to see it. I think there is much truth in that. The more
practise seeing goodness and beauty in the world, the happier you
description of heaven seen on earth is St John's in
(Revelation 21). After his visions of dreadful wars and tyrannies to
sees a beautiful, shining structure coming down from heaven. It is like
ideal state or city, perfectly and justly ordered, reflecting the
which the world was made. In this pattern are the secrets of creation.
means that humanity now has the key to a world of peace and harmony ï¿½"
state of heaven on earth. You can feel John's excitement in the
with which he pictures the heavenly city. I share that feeling. There
paradise in another world, but the time to look for it is now, and the
find it is here on earth.
Are you frightened
of ghosts? Some people, if you ask them that,
laugh cheerfully and say they never think of such things. But I wonder
would be so bold at night time, alone, in a spooky old house, when
are heard in the creaking of the staircase. As a child during the War I
with grandparents in a Hampshire village. Their house was old and
many dark nooks and corners. In these, I imagined, nasty creatures
waiting to jump out, and I ran quickly past them.
Then I started
reading ghost stories. They were so terrifying that
I could not sleep, but lay tense in bed, expecting something dreadful
appear. Yet I loved those ghost stories and wem on reading them. The
write them try to frighten their readers, because they know that is
But is it right to
scare children with stories about ghosts and
monsters? Yes, it is right, said old Lord Halifax. He was a writer and
collector of ghost stories, and on dark winter nights he would read
them to his
family. When his wife complained that the children were trembling with
replied that it was good for their imaginations. Lord Halifax's Ghost
later published by his eldest son. The stories, he admitted, were
but it was â€œa delicious terror", and he hoped other children would
the feeling as much as he had. I am glad now to have been through those
terrors. You cannot altogether avoid them, because they occur naturally
dreams, and in the minds of children. At that age ghosts and monsters
active realities. You long to hear about them, from older people who
afraid of them. Then you grow up and realise there are no such things
But you can never
be quite sure. Many people think they have seen
ghosts. and some have been frightened to death by the experience. Leap Castle
in County Offaly
used to be called the most haunted building in Ireland.
An old lady I met, who
knew it before it was burnt in 1923, said that she had often seen
They were harmless and the family had become used to them. But one of
nasty. It looked like a sheep and it stank like a corpse. The man who
it had jumped out of a tower window to escape it and had survived.
previously died from the fall.
I have long given
up being frightened of ghosts, and I do not even
read the stories. But if you offered me Â£100 to spend a night in a
house, with just a candle in a room where there had been a horrible
I would ask you to find someone else for the job. I could not trust my
beyond a hundred
The Bible says
that a life span is 70 years. That may be about
right on average, but many of us live far longer. Doctors say that, if
accidents and illness, you should last well into your hundreds. That is
supported by records of people who have lived more than twice the
years that the Bible allows.
The most famous
ancient person in England
was Thomas 'Old' Parr
(1483-1635). Born in Shropshire,
the son of a
farm worker, he married first at the age of 80 and fathered two
died as infants. His second wife produced a child when he was 122. In
aged 105, he was made to stand in his village church, dressed in a
as penance for making another woman pregnant.
When Thomas was
152 he was 'discovered' by the local landowner,
Lord Arundel. He was a collector of antiques, and first he made sure
old man was genuine. Then he took him up to London and
presented him to King Charles I.
After that he was exhibited at an inn. People flocked to see him. He
healthy and active, but the attention and rich dinners that were
him soon wore him out. He died and was buried grandly in Westminster
Old Parr's age was
confirmed by his village neighbours and
accepted in his time. He was said to have lived through the reigns of
or queens. Not everyone now believes this, and it may be that he
somewhat. Old people often do.
An even older man,
Henry Jenkins, was buried at Bolton
in 1668. He was a labourer and died aged 160. That is stated on his
plaque inside the church. He was also commemorated by an obelisk in the
churchyard. It is years since I was last in Bolton,
so I am not sure if it is still there.
Those who live to
great ages are often, like Old Parr,
hard-working country people, living simply off the produce of a cottage
It helps to be up in the hills with fresh air and water. That is what I
in Abkhasia on the Black Sea,
mountain people (hunters, farmers and brigands) are exceptionally
It also helps to come from a Iong-living family. Parr's grandson,
in 1757 at the age of 124. But there is still hope for us
parish register of St Leonard's,
Shoreditch, in London,
records the death
in 1588 of Thomas Cam, aged 207.
Another thing that
helps you into an old age is keeping out of
trouble, Old Parr was careful about that. When asked what religion he
to, he said he followed the religion of whatever ruler was on the
throne at the
war about evolution
â€œTry to see the
other person's point of view.â€ That is what they
told us at school. I thought of it the other day while passing our
Islamic bookshop. So I went in and was immediately rewarded.
The reward was a
book called The Evolution Deceit by Harun Yahya.
It says on the back that this is the pen-name of a great Islamic
has written dozens of books. Some are about the Koran and its
some are about the conspiracies he sees behind world affairs. Most
to me are his books against materialism and Darwin's theory
This theory, says
Mr Yahya, is one of the great stumbling-blocks
in relations between the Muslim and Christian worlds. Children in the
made to believe in evolution. It is taught in schools, and every
supports it even the modern Church. If you do not believe in it you
laughed at. You are called backward and unscientific. You may even be
You can see how
Muslims are infuriated by this. Muslims are
brought up to see this world as God's creation. That used to be what we
believed and many of us do to this day. One reason for this is that
is far more beautiful than it need be for our survival. It includes
together with its opposite, and it all works. It could not have
chance, out of nothing.
So how do you
explain its existence and ours? In all ages,
learned and initiated people have given the same answer. It looks like
of a great mind. That is what our physicists are now saying. And the
are saying what they have always said, "it is the work of Allah,
I do not know who
Harun Yahya is, but he knows all the arguments
for evolution. He also knows about their weak points and about the
foundation of Darwin's
theory. It is, he points out, deeply racist. Darwin saw the
Negro and Aboriginal as nearer
to the ape type than is the white man. That meant, according to his
that Europeans were superior to the others. It was a common prejudice
time. He was a
good man and meant no harm. But just look at the results of that
I do not think Darwin
was wrong in everything. No one ever is. But I agree with Mr Yahya that
influence of Darwin's
theory has been disastrous. Karl Marx welcomed it as an aid to
materialism. Hitler took it to justify his belief in 'higher' and
races. The Muslims see it as encouraging a false view of the world. And
could well be right.
it all a conspiracy?
"The world is
governed by very different personages from what
is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes." That was said by
Benjamin Disraeli, prime minister under Queen Victoria. He
was also a novelist. His books
are largely about schemes and plots behind the scenes in politics and
finance. He was a cunning man, and that is how he saw the world.
People still see
it like that today. Some of them are paranoid and
find conspiracies everywhere. Their ideas are mostly stupid and
there is a branch of conspiracy-hunting that is occult and dangerous.
It is the
theory of Global Conspiracy, or of a Hidden Hand behind world affairs.
There are many
different versions of this theory. A stupid one (I
think) is that our real rulers are space aliens who have taken over all
governments. In older versions, some race, sect or secret society is
of the piece.
An English lady,
Nesta Webster, was the queen of conspiracy
theorists around the 1920s. She was a scholar, a world-traveller and a
mysteries. One day she had a vision of her past life, during the French
Revolution. From this she learnt that the Revolution had not been a
uprising. It had been carried out by certain occult societies,
overthrowing law and order everywhere.
At the root of
these societies, said Mrs Webster, were the
Illuminati. Founded in Bavaria
in 1776 by Adam Weishaupt, a Jesuit and Freemason, the Illuminati
civilisation has spoilt us. We were happier in primitive times. So they
secretly to bring back those times. Their object was to undermine
authority. Their method was to spread confusion by terrorism and false
were officially suppressed by the Bavarian police.
But their members spread out across Europe,
and beyond. According to Mrs Webster, they are still going, and more
ever. That is why the world is in such a state. It is not by chance. It
because evil men in high positions are conspiring to destroy it.
If you believe
that you are in danger of insanity. The trouble is
that you cannot disprove it to anyone. Nor can you disprove the theory
aliens have taken over our government. As David Icke points out, it
seems like that.
Since you are
reading Jonathan Cainer's page, you already know
that the world cannot be controlled by our conspiracies. The course of
is determined by influences which are more than human. It is written in
stars. some people say. It is certainly not scripted by businessm~ and
politicians. That is why I can never believe in the Global Conspiracy.
still enjoy reading about it.
is all you need or what?
Some say that the
greatest mystery is love. I would not go that
far, but it is a tricky one all right. Love is so greatly powerful. It
dominates minds throughout lifetimes. Everyone looks for it. It is
as the highest happiness.
Yet love, or its
loss, is a major cause of despair and suicide. I
have heard it said that the pain of frustrated love is worse that any
except gout and childbirth. And the experts say there is no sure cure
apart from time. They recommend new scenery and a change of company.
Foreign Legion used to take care of that.
Love is not
rational so it is best avoided. That is one way of
dealing with it, but it hardly ever works. Reasons for that is given by
in his book, Phaedrus.
He asks the
question, Is it better to be the lover or the loved
one? First it seems that the beloved has the advantage, receiving
favours from the lover. But that becomes rather boring. In the end you
the lover is having the best time. That is because he is possessed by a
a kind of madness. This mania, says Plato, is eternal and comes from
Sanity is man-made and therefore a lower state.
This brings the
subject up to its proper, mystical level. Give or
take the pains, it is delightful to be in love. First you think it is
because of the other person. But it may be that your love is for
higher, for the god of love itself. That is what the agony aunts
in their advice columns.
the speech on love by Socrates (in Plato's
Symposium). He learnt his philosophy, together with the arts of love,
wise woman, Diotoma. She taught him how to widen love, from one person
others you like, and then to humanity in general. Then she led him to
climax of his initiation, the mystical orgasm when he met Love itself.
Many popular songs
are about young love gone wrong. Most pathetic
are the cowboys with their 'lonesome me' wailings. They always say it
because the loved one has gone. But their music is not just personal.
touches everyone because in it is a yearning that everyone feels. It is
love on every level. Ultimately it is for what mystics call union with
goddess of love
Aphrodite was a
Greek goddess of love. Every year married women
came to her sanctuaries and spent a week or so there, freely giving and
receiving love. Their husbands agreed that this indulgence made them
and more faithful during the rest of the year.
the long-living Yorkshireman
A few weeks ago I wrote here about 'Old Parr'
who died aged
152 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. I also mentioned his rival as England's
oldest inhabitant, Henry Jenkins, a Yorkshireman. Born in 1500, he died
1670, aged 169. These facts are recorded in the church at Bolton.
I thought this
must mean Bolton, Lancashire
(properly called Bolton-le-Moors). But I was wrong, and readers have
me right. The monument to Old Jenkins is at the church of
tiny village near Richmond,
Nearby, at Kirby Malzeard, is a pub named after him.
From Mr S. Wass of
received a pamphlet on this ancient person. There was no parish
Henry was born, so the exact date is unproven. But, says the pamphlet:
of his great age have been examined carefully to detect the slightest
and the fact appears to have been established beyond any reasonable
Jenkins's age was
investigated by Ann Saville, who lived near him
Several of the other
villagers were about a hundred, and they said he was an old man even
were children. He could remember historical events from ancient times.
was often consulted by lawyers about traditional land rights.
One of the lawyers
told how he went to see Henry Jenkins in his
cottage. Outside it was an old man. The lawyer asked him a question,
man said to go inside and see his father about it. In the cottage was
â€œwreck of humanityâ€ nodding by the fire. He was too old to understand
question. â€œAsk my fatherâ€, he mumbled, pointing to the back door. Out
yard was Old Jenkins, aged 166. He was busily chopping wood, and looked
than his grandson. His mind was perfectly clear and he told the lawyer
wanted to know.
Ann Saville asked
him the secret of his long life, and again he
was clear. Drink plenty of tar-water and nettle soup, he advised, wear
next to the skin and eat simply bread and cheese, raw onion and cold
Old Jenkins could
never read or write. Up to the age of 161 he
worked every day in his garden or doing odd jobs. For some time he was
in the house of a local lord. The date of his service there is
proof of his great age.
They say we live
longer nowadays. But I am not so sure. The oldest
person in Britain
now is only 109. Ancient records, from the Bible onwards, tell of
lived for centuries. It may be possible. But you would have to live
naturally, with pure air and water and no worries. And that is not so
things are today.
The faces in the rocks
Antonin Artaud was
a French poet, famous in the 1930s. Doctors
said he was mad. They locked him up and treated him with electric
of their reasons was that Artaud saw faces and images in natural rock
In 1936 he went to
to try out the native drugs. The peyote cactus gave him a wonderful new
insight. In the shapes of the local mountains he saw images he
were the very same as the religious symbols of the local people. And
themselves looked rather like the figures that Artaud could see in the
It seemed to him
that he had discovered a great, ancient secret.
All over the world nature creates simulacra (things that look like
things). But here in Mexico,
he said, the whole landscape has been shaped in harmony with the native
Was this the work
of gods or of some giant race in the past?
Over-excited by these questions, Artaud returned to France
and fell into the hands of
Artaud's vision, I too was excited. We are all
naturally inclined to see patterns. But, at the same time, nature
patterns, sometimes with clear meaning. A butterfly opens its wings to
the eye-and-nose image of a monster. Other creatures have false
their markings, evidently to scare away enemies.
There are symbols
throughout nature, and there are many faces. You
can see them on the backs of crabs and spiders, in passing clouds, in
rotting limbs of an old tree. At some places - e.g. the Brimham rocks
Yorkshire - the
whole area is like a design
centre of creation. Human and animal simulacra mingle with unknown
the outcropping rocks.
My excitement came
from Artaud's suggestion, that the images you
see in nature are likely to resemble the people and wildlife of the
found some good examples of this, and put them in a book called
out of print). One of them is a picture of a rock in Wales
which looks like the profile
of a sharp-nosed woman. I was pleased to have a letter from a local
said it looked just like his wife.
introduction to this subtle mystery is a book that has just
come out. The Secret Face of Nature is by a German photographer living
Kronig. Walking on Dartmoor,
he was impressed
by its great stone rock-piles, standing up like gods, beasts or demons.
are some great pictures of them in this book. And he has found many
'things that look like other things' . So what does it all mean? I do
but I think it has something to do with magic.
The Secret Face of
Nature by Jurgen Kronig (published by Gothic