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
worlds, sunken cities
These are exciting
times in archaeology. New discoveries are
completely changing the old-established view of prehistory. The
is that civilisation began about 6,000 years ago in the Middle East. Before that we were
savages. That is what you learn at
astrology tells a different story. It reckons time and
history in cycles. One of these is the period of 25,920 years, in which
completes its course through the zodiac. Even thls is quite a short
astrological time. Greater cycles extend history over hundreds of
years. Throughout these ages, civilisations rise and fall. Our present
is just the latest in a long series. Ther have been many before us.
There is good
evidence of this, but much of it is buried - in the
basement of museums. Strange objects and instruments, discovered in
strata, embarrass the professors. So they are hIdden.
But you cannot
hide whole cities. There is great excitement in India,
two lost cities, each about five miles across, have recently turned up.
were found by scientists through sonar scanning, 30 miles off the
feet below the sea. Objects dredged up from them proved to be 9,500
The buildings themselves could be much older.
When we start
seeing things from an astrological viewpoint, we can
recognise, the evidence of civilisations in far-distant ages. It is all
us, and it is growing all the time.
and White Magic
Black magic helps
you to trick people and take advantage of them
by underhand means. You may think you are doing well by it, but you
avoid the comeuppance. It affects your looks and character, and you end
up as a
monster, cut off from human sympathies.
True magic is for
your own happiness and the benefit of everyone
around you. First it transforms you and then it changes the world. One
first exercises in magical training is to put aside grievances and
your surroundings as a type of paradise. If you try it, you will soon
the purpose of magic to bring back that natural, but long-forgotten
state of existence,
the Golden Age.
magical times, whole nations were held in a state of
enchantment. In the relics of stone-age Britain
you can see the instruments
by which the spell was maintained. People lived simply, in thatched
together with their animals. All their skills and efforts were devoted
huge structures of earth and stone by which they kept in contact with
and with the gods. With constant festivals, music, dancing and
their lives were made rich. They knew nothing of prisons or palaces,
happy and secure and in need of nothing.
course, everything seems different. But this world is
as magical as ever, once you start seeing it like that.
reality of giants.
pictures in newspapers recently of Hussain Bisad, a
refugee from war in Somalia,
now living in London.
He stands out in a crowd because at 7ft 9in he is said to be the
tallest man in
the world. Aged 27, he is healthy, good-spirited and still growing.
Hussain is a real
giant, but he is quite small compared to others
in the past. A previous record-holder was Robert Wadlow , an American
in 1950 aged 32. He was 8ft 11.1in. There have been tall women too.
was almost 7 feet in 1882, when she was ten years old. She ended up at
giants are recorded in history and archaeology.
Fossil remains of a human type, over 12 feet in height, were found in China and Indonesia.
sometimes in giant coffins, have been excavated at ancient-sites in
Europe and North America.
In Patagonia, at the far end of South
America, travellers up to the 19th century
encountered tribespeople from 10 to 12 feet tall.
Traditions of a
former giant race occur in the Bible and in folklore
everywhere. They are said to have been persecuted by smaller folk, and
giant-killers finished them off. But there may be survivors, even
Sightings and giant footprints are still reported from the wildernesses
We cannot say for certain that Hussain Bisad is the tallest person on
is just the tallest we know about so far.
man who collected mysteries
The best way of
living to an old age is not through vitamins and
health foods but by taking a keen interest in everything that goes on.
only live longer that way, but you live happier. You will certainly not
boredom, like many of us do.
A person who never
knew boredom was Charles Fort who died in 1932.
He was a New
writer, specialising in mysteries. But he was no fiction writer. All
stories were true at least, they were reported in the press. In
and journals he found an endless supply of amazing happenings. They
him that the world is nothing like the scientists' view of it, but full
mysteries that no-one has ever explained.
If you read Fort's
books or just dip into any one of them you
will be shocked and then delighted by the wonders of our existence. He
UFOs, alien life-forms, creatures and objects from the sky, strange
disappearances and all kinds of 'impossible' phenomena. These things
constantly occurring. They are part of nature, so there is no harm in
them. And when you start doing so, your outlook expands, and you see
is far more interesting and delightful than you are likely to be taught
My old friend and
co-author (we have written three books together)
is Bob Rickard. He is the founder of Fortean Times, a monthly,
chronicle of strange events, with expert articles on them. For a taste
see the website: www.forteantimes.com
If you take a
course in philosophy today, you learn more about the
history of the subject than how to be a philosopher yourself. One thing
never told is the real purpose of it all, which is to discover the
They say about
this stone that it is the most precious thing you
can imagine. If you find it, your life is made rich and glorious. It is
powerful it can light up the whole world. But the funny thing is that
seems to want it. So it lies neglected in the filth at the bottom of
It is not like a
stone you can kick. It is the philosopher's term
for something that lies neglected in everyone's mind. Another name for
Nous or understanding. It is also called Truth. Philosophy means love
That is the proper dedication of philosophers, and that is why they are
to look for the Stone.
But many students
of philosophy do not know that. Like the rest of
us, they ignore the Stone and run after fads and notions that seem
at the time. This leads them into doubts and worries, and they become
or angry. That is not the fault of philosophy but of its misuse. Any
knowledge is better than ignorance, but only one kind has lasting
that is the kind symbolized by the Stone.
Having started on
this subject, I had better go on with it next week.
Philosopher's Stone ii: From ignorance to bliss
mystery was the Philosopher's Stone, what it means and
where to find it. This sounds like a treasure-hunt, and in a way it is.
King Solomon acquired the Stone, he became very rich and enjoyed the
of 700 wives plus concubines. But his real wealth - the source of all
happiness and the prosperity of his kingdom - was his wisdom. With the
came knowledge. It was not just book-learning, but knowledge of the
and the source of goodness and order in it.
Plato, who is my guide in these matters, there are
four stages in the ascent towards this knowledge. At the bottom is
When you are in that state, you do not know there is anything worth
and you despise people who want to rise above it.
Above ignorance is
the level of opinion. That is when you start to
take an interest in life, to discuss and argue. On that level you can
journalism or politics.
The next stage is
study and learning. You become tired of opinions
and look for the facts that everyone is arguing around. This is a state
maturity and good judgement.
The fourth and
last stage is the mystical one. It lies beyond
reason and learning, and the only way into it is through personal
If you rise to that level you are said to have found the Philosopher's
Next week we shall look further into that prospect
Philosopher's Stone iii: Initiation and the entry to paradise
subject was the Philosopher's Stone and the stages you
pass through in finding it. You start off in the dark state of
rise upwards through the stages of opinion and learning. Not many
to go further, and there is no need to. You can be happy on any level
existence, as long as you are mentally active and not in torment.
But there is a
further stage, and those who have reached it say it
is like living in paradise. Finding the Philosopher's Stone means
highest, most glorious state of being that anyone can imagine. You
there in one leap. Anyone can enjoy moments of insight, when you
flash of perfect happiness. But when you come back to earth, it is just
From what I have
learnt, two things are needed if you want to find
the Stone. You have to have risen above the level of opinion and
cleverness. And you have to develop your vision. That means seeing
pains and griefs around you, and looking for the good in everything.
This does not
sound easy today. But the first step is the hardest,
and once you have taken it you are on target for the Philosopher's
ancient priests practised initiation. They could prepare you for the
of death that precedes the awakening into paradise. That is not
more, but in place of it there is something better - the real thing.
the first time ever, all knowledge is opened up for everyone. And if
you (or I
or anyone) choose the path to initiation, we can enjoy far richer lives
any of the miserable millionaires you see around.
all in the mind
The greatest of
all mysteries is the human mind. We all live with
this mystery; it is the one thing we have in common. Everyone looks and
differently from everyone else, but the human mind is the same for all.
It is not easy to
live with this mind, because it pulls us in two
different directions. Its rational part allows us to calculate and be
successful in the world. Its other part, called imagination, brings
For a full human
life you have to use both parts of the mind. That
is obvious - certainly to readers of Jonathan's astrology page. But
try to live by reason alone. They are ambitious, they know what they
they mean to get it. They neglect the other part of the mind, so they
always restless and never happy.
become disillusioned with reason. It has created an
ugly world, they say, dominated by masculine thinking. So all you
is Love. That is a sweet idea and, on the highest level, it is true.
this material existence reason is dominant. If you reject it you become
foolish, gullible and mentally instable.
Of these two
necessary parts of the mind, I prefer imagination.
Reason was given us so that we could see the beauty and order of
through imagination we are attuned to the mind of the Creator. That is
certainly the way to happiness, and it may well be the whole point of
peaks of happiness
One of my
favourite writers is Colin Wilson. He must have written
more books than anyone else - well over a hundred, on all kinds of
And he never stops working, beginning every day at 4am.
Behind all his
writings is one big,idea. With just a bit of
effort, he says, we can lead far happier, far more interesting lives
mostly do now. Much of the time we are just 'going through the
what we have to without thinking about it. But when something unusual
we become alert. At those moments we stop living automatically and see
situation directly, through our own awakened senses. Those are the
remember and talk about.
The secret of
health and longevity, says Wilson, is
waking yourself up to everything
going on around you. From an American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, he
about the 'peak experience'. It is the experience that most people have
time to time, when suddenly, for no apparent reason, you feel totally
at peace with the world. Maslow discovered that the more peaks you
more content and successful you are likely to be.
You can train
yourself to have more peaks and a better life. The
first step is to make a decision. You decide to see beauty and goodness
things and people around you. You will see ugliness too, but do not
on that. The more you practise the better you become. The peak
occur more often, and you will have glimpses of that happy state that
call paradise on earth.
pole at the centre of the world
In the myths and
cosmologies of all nations the dominant symbol is
the pole of the universe. It is also the pole on which the earth
modern thinking, there is no such thing as a
world-pole. Yet everything that spins must spin around some fixed axis,
is natural to imagine the pole as a symbol of, stability. It represents
order of the universe and the hidden laws behind it, which are always
everywhere the same. Around it turns the world of phenomena our world
nothing lasts for long and everything is forever shifting and changing.
The pole as a
symbol has no definite location. At one time every
district and village marked its centre with a stone pillar and called
centre of the world. And it was said that the world-pole runs through
soul, guiding it by the same laws that govern the universe.
This is an
ancient, traditional way of seeing things, and there is
much to be said for it. It recognises the two centres within each
the greater centre and the lesser. The lesser centre is yourself. You
see the world around you from a central position. But if you leave it
you remain self-centred, which dooms you to a life of frustration. When
you discover the greater centre, and realise you are directly linked to
whole universe and the power behind it, security and happiness come
That is why the
ancients liked to have a pole at the centre of
everything. It reminded them that behind the apparent chaos of
was something hidden that remains true for ever .
When you study
philosophy and bring it into your life, certain
facts come to light. Here are three of them.
Like attracts like.
Things in contact
become like each other.
The world is a
mirror. You experience it the way
you imagine it.
The first is
apparent in the company we keep. Everyone is
naturally drawn to their own kind. It begins in childhood when we like
with our own age-group. Later, the mind takes over, and we become
people who think as we do.
The second fact is
obvious. We are always influencing each other
following the same ideas, fashions, ways of speaking and so on. You can
in funny ways how often people get to look like their dogs, or vice
The third fact is
demonstrated by coincidences. If you set your
mind upon a subject, information about that subject floods in to you.
you have an open, trustful view of the world, you are likely to attract
metaphysical facts, not learned from science but from
human experience. They are the basis of magic. Once you see how easily
influence other people, and the world in general, you have the secret
magical power. Great dictators rise through that knowledge. But misuse
power brings terrible punishments fear, misery and hell on earth.
where philosophy comes in. It teaches the art of self-government and
a good life. Without those you are not fit to govern anyone or
there no justice in this world?
One of the proofs
of immortality, taught by the ancient
philosophers, was that we are born with certain knowledge in us. We
are such things as beauty and justice, and we often talk about them.
never see these things themselves, nor do we see any perfect examples
The most beautiful person has some ugly features, and even the most
person can act unjustly.
gave a reason for this: the world, they said, is
only a copy of the 'real' world that lies above it. Everything there is
perfect. Our souls come from that world, so they have seen everything
ideal state. They have known perfect justice, beauty, goodness and so
just the watered-down copies of these that we have on earth.
New-born souls are
distressed when they enter this imperfect
world. Sometimes they grow up angry and cynical. "There is no justice
world," they complain. But you cannot expect a copy to be as good as
thing. The philosophers' advice was to look towards the ideal in
rather than at flaws and imperfections. That way, they said, you will
closer towards truth and happiness.
This is just a
story, of course. But it is the best one I know to
explain the way things are on earth. We can never, in this life, see
itself, so we have to settle for a good story. That is why the old
expressed their knowledge in myths and fairy tales.
marriage of heaven and earth
Last week we heard
the old philosophers' story about the nature of
our world. It is not the real world, they said, but a copy of it. That
nothing in it is quite perfect. But it is a copy of an ideal model, the
perfect world of the powers above us.
That higher world
is remembered by our souls, and they are always
yearning for it. So we are always looking for the ideal, even though it
to be found on earth. The philosophers encouraged that search. They
that, if you are making or planning something, you should imagine its
form and imitate that, rather than copying something already made.
And you should
look to the divine element within you, rather than
Say you are laying
out a garden, hoping to attract peace and
beauty. The technique is to imagine a corner of paradise and take that
model for your design. Then, of course, you have to compromise,
your situation. But there will always be some hint of paradise in
do or make with the ideal in mind.
From these simple
observations, the ancient philosophers built up
a science of 'correspondences' between the divine world and the copy of
which we live. Its purpose was to unite the powers of heaven and earth
attract the favours of the gods. That science is now lost. But they say
always comes back eventually - when we need it and start looking for it.
quick look at the big guestion
Since life is
short, let us go straight to the basic question in
philosophy. Is there a god behind the universe?
That will always
be a mystery. It seems to be part of life's game
that you have to find the answer for yourself. Here are some of the
I. Atheism. Many
people get through life well and happily, doing
good to their fellow creatures, without the need to recognise any god.
well-known example is Ludovic Kennedy. He is godless and against
he is an honest man, and I would trust him as much as any bishop.
atheism. This is common in eastern religions. They say
that an ultimate god is beyond all knowing. So it is no use trying to
about it. Our existence is a divine mystery, and we should revere the
life in all its forms.
philosopher's god. In any story about how the universe
began, you have to start somewhere. So Plato began with a Creator, a
being who dwells blissfully amid true perfection. He was kind enough to
this world as well as he could, and to set it going. Then he sat back
the show. Philosophers are meant to see the beauty of creation and,
to come nearer to the mind of the Creator.
4. A personal
friend. Many of us cannot believe in atheism, and
the philosopher's god is too impersonal to be of interest. So other
come up, but they will have to wait till next week.
July 25, 2002
The god who
abandoned his offspring
Last week we began
at different approaches to the problem of God. We went through atheism
reached deism. Deists agree that there is a supreme god who created the
universe. But that, they say, was the end of his involvement. Like an
absconding father, he has nothing more to do with his offspring.
view. It isn't too sentimental. But even they admit that it is
No-one is interested in a god who is not interested in us, personally.
say you believe in God, you are probably thinking of a personal
For that, it
need an intermediary. The ancients recognised demi-gods and local
of their functions was to bridge the gap between the unknowable godhead
individual soul. For that purpose, modern religions have saviours,
martyrs and angels.
spirits, religious people feel the comforts of divine guidance. And
mystics have reached the state they call union with God. That, they
worth the devotion of a whole lifetime.
What is to be
from this brief survey of relationships between gods and humans? My own
that we are completely in the dark about the deity and how to approach
whatever attitude you take, from cheerful atheism to total, life-long
is as reasonable as any other. It is the results that count.
August 1, 2002
All alone in the
All over Asia and
of Europe are
mountain ranges full of caves.
Many of them are artificial, made by ancient hermits. You find them
also in Britain,
sometimes on island rocks in the ocean. No one could possibly live
would suppose. But solitary men and women have spent lives upon
and died there in old age.
Everyone has times
they feel, they would like to be alone - but not for too long. Most of
company and the pursuit of love, and could not bear life without them.
are mysteries. Why do people become hermits? How do they live, and how
spend their days?
I have just read a
on hermits, A Pelican In The Wilderness by the novelist, Isabel
enjoyed every page of it. She goes into the reasons why hermits do it.
disappointed by this cruel world, or feel guilty about crimes they have
committed. But the most dedicated hermits are those who seek liberation
earth and access to the world of spirit.
life is said to be very rewarding. You can learn the languages of
communicate with angels and become wise and holy. But it must be a
You are tormented by demons and the frustrated demands of human nature.
think you are finding God, but the world thinks you are mad. This is
too good a
subject to cut off here, so it will be continued next Thursday
August 8, 2002
A saintly life at
the bottom of a well
The first country
to adopt Christianity is said to be Georgia.
In its mountains are
ancient monasteries, founded by the early saints. One of them, which I
went to, has a deep, dark well at its centre. It was not built for
water, but as a hermit's cell. St Shio, the monastery's founder, once
the bottom of it.
There is another
that, only recently discovered, at Mine Howe on mainland Orkney. This
one has a
spiral of rough, stone steps down into it. The tiny chamber at the
bottom is so
dank and eerie that you would not want to spend five minutes there, let
The buried chamber
Howe is several thousand years old. Other rock-shelters in the western
are also prehistoric lived in by the hermits of Druid times. One of
earliest among Christians was St Simeon Stylites, who made his name by
for 36 years at the top of a 60-foot column in the Syrian desert. He did not find
solitude there. Crowds of people came to
see him, and he shouted down sermons to them.
It wasn't just
that hermits were looking for. They also wanted to be uncomfortable. So
made their cells in the most bleak and dreary spots they could find.
That is one
way, I suppose, of fitting yourself for eternal life with God. But I
help seeing it as rather pushy. I would rather stay with the others,
my time on earth and be judged divinely at the end of it if that is
the way it goes.
hermits and their animal companions
subject was hermits. I ended on a sour note, calling
them pushy for concentrating on success in the next world, rather than
their chances in this one. But there is one aspect of the hermit's life
greatly admire and would love to share. That is, their friendships with
In their lonely
hermitages, with no human company, the Celtic
saints became intimate with the creatures around them. Bears and wolves
their companions and shared, meat with them. Like St Francis in the
century, they could talk with birds. They befriended snakes and even
That is how they managed to exist in barren places.
I was reminded of
this by reading a book, Kinship With All Life by
J. Allen Boone. The stories he tells are simple but amazing. They are
true, equal friendships he has made with all kinds of creatures. The
says, is to be still and quiet, and let them make friends with you. The
relationship then develops on their terms, without you being the boss.
One of his stories
is about a fly he made friends with. A famous Hollywood
actor got to hear of it, and wanted to see for
himself. But while he was in the room the fly ignored him and stayed up
ceiling. The handsome actor was adored by fans everywhere, but his
disturbed by the coolness of a fly. As Mr Boone says, you can learn a
people if you watch how animals relate to them.
August 23, 2002
Can the lamb lie
down with the lion?
Sometimes I am
Jehovah's Witnesses. They say that the world will soon come to an end,
144,000 souls will be saved. They invite me or you to be one of
I do not believe
but I enjoy seeing these good people, and I admire their brave spirit.
like their magazine, The Watchtower, especially the pictures. They
the future paradise, with people of all types and races living together
health and harmony. And they show all kinds of animals the wolf and
the lion and the young goat resting and feasting together.
But there is
wrong with the picture. It shows the lion sharing the lamb's diet of
Biologists say that a lion's stomach is not adapted for grass. I point
to one of the Witnesses. But he just smiled and said that it is in the
It does actually
say in the
Bible (Isaiah 11, 7) that the lion will eat straw like the ox. But
cannot be meant literally. I think it must mean that a perfect
have the lion's courage and the lamb's humility. Or something like that.
But I still like
picture in the Peaceable Kingdom.
It is a reminder
that in nature all creatures depend on others and are normally on good
And it leads to a subject that I have been interested in for some time
possibilities of friendships between animals and people. More on that
August 30, 2002
Wild children and
their animal keepers
There was a time
civilisation, when people and animals live peacefully together and
each other's ways. That is what the old histories say, in every nation.
moderns see things differently. We look upon ancient life as a constant
struggle for survival, with man against man and every creature at war
every other. That is what Darwin
called 'survival of the fittest'.
nonsense! I say
that because there is so much evidence of animals showing love and
creatures of other species, including humans. The first principle in
rival, Kropotkin, is 'mutual aid'.
The great kindness
show to another creature is to save and rear its offspring. There are
cases of animals doping that. Wolves, bears and leopards are supposed
ferocious, but they have all been known to adopt children who have
abandoned or lost in the woods. Dogs, pigs, cows, sheep, apes,
antelopes have fostered human infants. And in each case they have
up in their own ways, to be like themselves.
This makes me
in bygone times, when we needed to be on good terms with the creatures
us, we sometimes exchanged children. They would become interpreters and
ambassadors between us. We can hardly do that today. But there are
can do to improve relationships. One is to let children make friends
animals as they long to do. Another is to see that all creatures are
individuals with feelings, and treat them as such.