Your Zodiac Forecasts, from Jonathan Cainer



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John Michell was a best-selling author and world authority on the mysteries of existence. Between March 2001 and August 2002, John wrote a series of articles on a variety of esoteric subjects for Jonathan's website and the Daily Mirror newspaper in the UK.

Jonathan writes: It was a thrill to have John writing for us about unexplained phenomena. I have been an admirer of his work since I was a teenager. I hope you enjoy his thought-provoking work.


September 13, 2001

The 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 to be? Elvis? Jesus? Your average ET? And is it male or female? black or white? good 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 Hampshire wheatfield. It was not just any field, but right beside the Chilbolton radio telescope. That is where they look deep into space for evidence of alien life. While they looked, alien life came up behind them and left its mark on their back yard. So 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 into space a few years ago. It gives the colTesponding data about another part of 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 events. No one had expected much, due to foot & mouth closing access to the country. But it turned out to be a spectacular summer. A huge crop formation, a thousand feet wide and made up of 409 separate circles, appeared in Wiltshire, and there were many other beautiful designs. Then, as climax, came the Face and the Message.

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 think there is human intelligence behind crop circles. Some of them are made by hoaxers, stamping out patterns in cornfields. Others - the masterpieces - are generated on someone's computer screen and then beamed directly onto a field. But that is impossible. I know it is, but perhaps some genius has discovered how to do it, and is treating us to a show of miracles.


The 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 complicated 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 what is behind it all? You can believe what you like, because no one really knows.




September 20, 2001


It is being said that Nostradamus foresaw the destruction of the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. The following 'lines' are being quoted widely on the internet.


“In the year of the new century and nine months

From the sky will come a great King of Terror

The sky will burn at forty-five degrees

Fire approaches the new city".


"In the city of York there will be a great collapse

Two twin brothers torn apart by chaos

While the fortress falls the great leader will succumb

Third 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 was to 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'.

(Translation of 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 Nostradamus's  most famous. I remember it being quoted when Jack and Robert Kennedy were assassinated.

Another prophecy 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 trading city, called Babylon. 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 gruesome.

Immediately after the Fall of Babylon, St John describes another city. It is called the Heavenly Jerusalem. Everything in it is beautiful and perfect. It is the very opposite of Babylon. That great city was controlled by money, but the ideal world-city is ruled by God's law. All nations have their part in it and live together in harmony.

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 development. 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, innocent people who will inhabit the paradise to come on earth. We curse the cruel bastards who murdered them. But we know from history that all great changes come about with violence and slaughter. That seems to be how it works.


The seer of history

Michel Nostradamus (1503-66) was a very learned French-Jewish doctor. In his thirties he began to receive prophecies, and to record them in verses. It is claimed that he foresaw everything that has happened since, 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).




September 27, 2001

Premonitions of disaster

Last week's 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 office-workers at the World Trade Center towers. Bad dreams and premonitions kept them at home on the fatal morning, so 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 had its prophetic oracle. Whenever the rulers planned to do something they asked its advice. If the oracle warned against the plan they abandoned it.

There are no such oracles today, but we still have premonitions �" advance warnings of catastrophes. The loss of the Titanic in 1912 was so widely foreseen that several would-be passengers cancelled their tickets. Others had feelings of doom and dread, but they overcame their fears and were among the 1,502 who drowned. It was then discovered that the whole thing had been predicted fourteen years earlier. A strange, visionary author, Morgan Robertson of New York. saw in his imagination a great liner in mid-Atlantic. He also saw that there were not enough lifeboats for its nearly 3,000 passengers. It was said to be 'unsinkable'. He read its name, 'The Titan'. It was a foggy night, and at full speed the ship ran into an iceberg. Robertson's story was called The Wreck of the Titan. He wrote it in 1898, years before the Titanic was even thought of. Yet it described in almost every detail the great, doomed liner and what became of it

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 Premonitions Bureau managed to file over 1,000 cases of premonitions. He hoped to provide early warning against future catastrophes. It was a brave effort, but did not achieve much and was discontinued a few years later.


It is difficult to sort out the true prophets from the mad ones �" You can only go by your own feelings. I know an American lady who got off an airliner before take-off, because she felt it would crash which it did. Should she have made a scene and warned the others? What would you have done?


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 disaster, there were a number of reports of premonitions. The mother of one of the children who died said that her ten-year-old told her of a dream the night before. The child told her mother, “I dreamed I went to school and there was no school there. Something black had come down all over it.”


Too right for his own good

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 and charged with having caused it. He proved his innocence by showing that the fire was predicted by his astrological charts.




October 4, 2001

When 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 is true 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 wrong. Nostradamus seems to have expected it in July 1999, and other seers said 2000. But here we still are, and the next ominous date I know of is 2012. That is when the Mayan calendar ends. So the experts say. But I shall be 80 years old by then, so I do not really care.

Ancient records say that from time to time we are almost wiped out by some natural catastrophe. It either happens by fire or impact from above, or by floods from the waters below. In the first case, only people in shelters below ground survive. In times of flood, shepherds in the hilltops are the 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 extinct - and then new ones appear. Can we now foresee and prevent the natural disasters that are constantly threatening us? There is much talk about defenses against meteorites and against global warming. But I do not think we can beat nature. 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 writings and Revelation have suddenly become best-sellers. But things are always changing, and older people always think it means the end of the world. If that is what is happening, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Prophecies in the Bible say that destruction and renewal are part of the same process. And it is all leading somewhere ñ 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 ñ and already are happening. We may even see the rule of a global dictator, or Antichrist, as prophecy foretells. But the evil period soon ends, and then comes the real Millennium. That is when the secret of perfect government is discovered, and the whole world is united in harmony. When you start thinking about the future in that way, it begins to become true and you feel happier. That is why I respect the old prophecies. If everything happens as and when it is meant to, you have nothing to worry about.




October 11, 2001.

666 - 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 the last words of St John's prophecy in chapter 13 of Revelation. They refer to a great leader - the Beast or Antichrist - who will arise in a time of trouble. He will rule the whole world by force, and everyone will be marked on their hands or foreheads with his symbol and the number of his name. Then there will be a great war between nations. The Beast and his empire will be destroyed, the Heavenly City 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 Testament, each letter also stands for a number. The first letter, alpha, is 1, the last, omega, is 800, and the number of the Beast is given by three letters, chi 600, 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. Protestant writers believed it meant the Pope. Catholic mystics said it was Mohammed. Other candidates have included Hitler, Stalin and Napoleon. In every case, if you fiddle with the letters a bit, you can get a result of 666 or thereabouts. But really this is all nonsense, just a game. It is quite possible that a world-dictator will some day arise. But there is no sign of him yet. I have fiddled with the letters of Osama bin Laden's name, but they do not add up to anything near 666.

Yet behind the nonsense there is a genuine mystery. The early Christian scholars used a code in which the holy names were also numbers. The Greek letters in the name Jesus add up to 888, and the Holy Spirit is 1080. These numbers were also represented in the names of the pagan gods. The whole system came from an ancient tradition of spiritual science. For that reason it was suppressed by the Christian Fathers, and little is known of it today. But many old secrets are now coming to light. These are times of revelation and the fulfilment of prophecies. They may be dreadful times, but I am grateful to be living in them.


John Michell's book The Dimensions of Paradise: The Proportions and Symbolic Numbers of Ancient Cosmology (Thames & Hudson) is excellent reading for serious students of mystical number and ancient science.




October 18, 2001

Is 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 target riddled with bullet holes. Above it was written, Rot in Hell. The other picture 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 worse punishment than anything that could be suffered on earth. And it does no good 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 punishment over in this world - rather than wait till after death. The reason for his 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 darkness of the earth. By drugs or vapours they were put into a state of trance, and experienced a trip to Hades, the Underworld. When they returned to the surface they were wiser than before and lived better lives.

The most frightening thought about hell is that you may never get out of it. Some religions have threatened that. But they also say that God is merciful, so there cannot really be an eternity of torture. There are different levels of hell, according to the degree of your wickedness. In Dante's Inferno swindlers and traitors are thrown into the lowest pit. Socrates said that great tyrants, who have murdered thousands and caused widespread misery, are confined in the very centre of hell. You are lucky, he said, if your tyranny is only on the domestic scale. But you have to pay for the evil you have done - and ten times over.

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 few mentions of hell in them. Mostly they tell about a tunnel with a light at the end, and a divine being who forgives you everything. I hope it is like that. 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 anything about it directly. I just think it pays to be careful.


An 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 not survive it. The island is now a holy place of Catholic vigils.



October 25, 2001

Heaven, 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 people say that once your brain is dead, that is the end of everything and you experience nothing more. Others say that your soul is not material, so it is not subject to decay and survives the death of the body. In that case you have to submit to judgment. If you have led a wicked life you are imprisoned in hell until you have served your sentence. If you have always been good and truthful, you find 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 going into and out of paradise, and the other two lead downwards into and out of hell. Souls that have come from one or other place meet and discuss what it was like there. Then they go back to earth and are reborn. But fIrst they have to drink ftom the river Lethe the waters of oblivion. That means you forget everything you have seen in the other world. Plato said that you should not drink too much, because it is useful to remember something about your previous existence.

If you are chosen to enter paradise you enjoy all kinds of pleasures. Religious people give different accounts of it. It is often said to be like earth, only far more beautiful and delightful. One way of getting there, according to some mystics, is to visualise this earth as paradise while you are still alive. “If we do not find it here, how can we find it there?” asked the Persian poet, Rumi. Another poet, the Irishman George Russell, described a moment when he saw and felt paradise around him. “Then I realised that the Golden Age had never departed,” he wrote. It is just that we have forgotten how to see it. I think there is much truth in that. The more you practise seeing goodness and beauty in the world, the happier you become.

The best-known description of heaven seen on earth is St John's in the Bible (Revelation 21). After his visions of dreadful wars and tyrannies to come, he sees a beautiful, shining structure coming down from heaven. It is like an ideal state or city, perfectly and justly ordered, reflecting the pattern by which the world was made. In this pattern are the secrets of creation. This means that humanity now has the key to a world of peace and harmony �" to a state of heaven on earth. You can feel John's excitement in the glorious poetry with which he pictures the heavenly city. I share that feeling. There may be paradise in another world, but the time to look for it is now, and the place to find it is here on earth.




November 1, 2001.

Haunted houses

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 if they would be so bold at night time, alone, in a spooky old house, when footsteps are heard in the creaking of the staircase. As a child during the War I lived with grandparents in a Hampshire village. Their house was old and cranky with many dark nooks and corners. In these, I imagined, nasty creatures were 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 to appear. Yet I loved those ghost stories and wem on reading them. The people who write them try to frighten their readers, because they know that is what their readers want.

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 fear, he replied that it was good for their imaginations. Lord Halifax's Ghost Book was later published by his eldest son. The stories, he admitted, were terrifying, but it was “a delicious terror", and he hoped other children would enjoy 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 in dreams, and in the minds of children. At that age ghosts and monsters are active realities. You long to hear about them, from older people who are not afraid of them. Then you grow up and realise there are no such things as ghosts.

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 ghosts there. They were harmless and the family had become used to them. But one of them was nasty. It looked like a sheep and it stank like a corpse. The man who described it had jumped out of a tower window to escape it and had survived. Others had 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 £100 to spend a night in a haunted house, with just a candle in a room where there had been a horrible murder �" I would ask you to find someone else for the job. I could not trust my own imagination.



November 8, 2001

Life 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 you avoid accidents and illness, you should last well into your hundreds. That is supported by records of people who have lived more than twice the number of 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 children who died as infants. His second wife produced a child when he was 122. In between, aged 105, he was made to stand in his village church, dressed in a white sheet, 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 that the 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 appeared healthy and active, but the attention and rich dinners that were pressed upon him soon wore him out. He died and was buried grandly in Westminster Abbey.

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 ten kings or queens. Not everyone now believes this, and it may be that he exaggerated 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 memorial 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 garden. It helps to be up in the hills with fresh air and water. That is what I heard in Abkhasia on the Black Sea, where the mountain people (hunters, farmers and brigands) are exceptionally long-lived. It also helps to come from a Iong-living family. Parr's grandson, Robert, died in 1757 at the age of 124. But there is still hope for us town-dwellers. The 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 belonged to, he said he followed the religion of whatever ruler was on the throne at the time.


November 15, 2001

The war about evolution

“Try to see the other person's point of view.” That is what they told us at school. I thought of it the other day while passing our local 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 scholar. He has written dozens of books. Some are about the Koran and its teachings, and some are about the conspiracies he sees behind world affairs. Most interesting to me are his books against materialism and Darwin's theory of evolution.

This theory, says Mr Yahya, is one of the great stumbling-blocks in relations between the Muslim and Christian worlds. Children in the West are made to believe in evolution. It is taught in schools, and every authority supports it even the modern Church. If you do not believe in it you are laughed at. You are called backward and unscientific. You may even be called religious!

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 all believed and many of us do to this day. One reason for this is that the world is far more beautiful than it need be for our survival. It includes everything, together with its opposite, and it all works. It could not have happened by 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 the work of a great mind. That is what our physicists are now saying. And the Muslims are saying what they have always said, "it is the work of Allah, meaning God the Creator."

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 shaky 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 theory, that Europeans were superior to the others. It was a common prejudice in Darwin's time. He was a good man and meant no harm. But just look at the results of that attitude!

I do not think Darwin was wrong in everything. No one ever is. But I agree with Mr Yahya that the influence of Darwin's theory has been disastrous. Karl Marx welcomed it as an aid to communist materialism. Hitler took it to justify his belief in 'higher' and 'lower' races. The Muslims see it as encouraging a false view of the world. And they could well be right.




November 22, 2001

Is 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 high 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 harmless. But 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 the villain 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 lover of 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 popular uprising. It had been carried out by certain occult societies, dedicated to 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 believed that civilisation has spoilt us. We were happier in primitive times. So they worked secretly to bring back those times. Their object was to undermine traditional authority. Their method was to spread confusion by terrorism and false propaganda.

The Illuminati 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 active than ever. That is why the world is in such a state. It is not by chance. It is 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 that aliens have taken over our government. As David Icke points out, it sometimes 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 history is determined by influences which are more than human. It is written in the stars. some people say. It is certainly not scripted by businessm~ and politicians. That is why I can never believe in the Global Conspiracy. But I still enjoy reading about it.



November 29, 2001

Love 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 thought of 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 other �" except gout and childbirth. And the experts say there is no sure cure for it, apart from time. They recommend new scenery and a change of company. The French 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 Plato 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 presents and favours from the lover. But that becomes rather boring. In the end you see that the lover is having the best time. That is because he is possessed by a mania, a kind of madness. This mania, says Plato, is eternal and comes from the gods. 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 all because of the other person. But it may be that your love is for something higher, for the god of love itself. That is what the agony aunts sometimes say in their advice columns.

Super-mystical is the speech on love by Socrates (in Plato's Symposium). He learnt his philosophy, together with the arts of love, from a wise woman, Diotoma. She taught him how to widen love, from one person to others you like, and then to humanity in general. Then she led him to the 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 is because the loved one has gone. But their music is not just personal. It touches everyone because in it is a yearning that everyone feels. It is for love on every level. Ultimately it is for what mystics call union with God.


The 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 happier and more faithful during the rest of the year.



December 6, 2001

The mystery of 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 in 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 kindly put me right. The monument to Old Jenkins is at the church of Bolton-onSwale, a tiny village near Richmond, North Yorkshire. Nearby, at Kirby Malzeard, is a pub named after him.

From Mr S. Wass of Leeds I received a pamphlet on this ancient person. There was no parish register when Henry was born, so the exact date is unproven. But, says the pamphlet: “Proofs of his great age have been examined carefully to detect the slightest fallacy, and the fact appears to have been established beyond any reasonable doubt.”

Jenkins's age was investigated by Ann Saville, who lived near him in Bolton-on-Swale. Several of the other villagers were about a hundred, and they said he was an old man even when they were children. He could remember historical events from ancient times. And he 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, and the man said to go inside and see his father about it. In the cottage was an aged “wreck of humanity” nodding by the fire. He was too old to understand the question. “Ask my father”, he mumbled, pointing to the back door. Out in the yard was Old Jenkins, aged 166. He was busily chopping wood, and looked younger than his grandson. His mind was perfectly clear and he told the lawyer all he 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 flannel next to the skin and eat simply bread and cheese, raw onion and cold meat.

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 butler in the house of a local lord. The date of his service there is recorded, giving 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 people who lived for centuries. It may be possible. But you would have to live quietly and naturally, with pure air and water and no worries. And that is not so easy as things are today.



December 13, 2001

Simulacra: 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 shocks. One of their reasons was that Artaud saw faces and images in natural rock formations.

In 1936 he went to Mexico 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 recognised. They were the very same as the religious symbols of the local people. And the people themselves looked rather like the figures that Artaud could see in the rocks.

It seemed to him that he had discovered a great, ancient secret. All over the world nature creates simulacra (things that look like other things). But here in Mexico, he said, the whole landscape has been shaped in harmony with the native people and creatures.

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 the mad-doctors.

Reading about Artaud's vision, I too was excited. We are all naturally inclined to see patterns. But, at the same time, nature produces patterns, sometimes with clear meaning. A butterfly opens its wings to display the eye-and-nose image of a monster. Other creatures have false features in 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 the rotting limbs of an old tree. At some places - e.g. the Brimham rocks near Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire - the whole area is like a design centre of creation. Human and animal simulacra mingle with unknown figures in 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 district. I found some good examples of this, and put them in a book called Simulacra (long 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 gent who said it looked just like his wife.

A good introduction to this subtle mystery is a book that has just come out. The Secret Face of Nature is by a German photographer living in England, Jurgen Kronig. Walking on Dartmoor, he was impressed by its great stone rock-piles, standing up like gods, beasts or demons. There are some great pictures of them in this book. And he has found many other 'things that look like other things' . So what does it all mean? I do not know, but I think it has something to do with magic.

The Secret Face of Nature by Jurgen Kronig (published by Gothic Image