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In this article I question the consensual view of time as linear, running from past to future, and discuss other conceptions, for example that time is cyclic. The movement of stars and planets in regular cycles enables astrologers to determine time quality and predict the future. Sub-atomic physics has discovered that time can move backwards on the quantum level, and a teleological view of time presents a case for reverse causality- the pull of the future producing present events. In dreams we move freely forwards or backwards in time, and in meditation we can jump out of time completely and rest in a timeless state. The edifice of modern science is built on the law of cause and effect, which rests on the concept of linear time moving from past to future, so any alternative concept of time meaning a change in paradigm threatens its foundations.

Time is the concept we use to explain our experience of change. We perceive movement in the world around us and movement in our inner world- the rise and fall of our breath, the shifting thoughts in our minds- and two big questions arise: if there was no movement would there still be time, and if there was no observer to register movement would there be time then? In other words, does time have objective existence?

Until recently, most people believed it did. The sun marks time as it circles the sky, alternating day with night. The seasons follow each other in a predictable round. We watch the waxing and waning of the moon and follow the longer time-cycles of the planets. In ancient cultures these were plotted against the background of stars, which were seen as fixed- the eternal home of the gods. Time was measured against a background of eternity, but now we know the stars are not fixed. They also move.

Knowledge of the cycles of the heavenly bodies enables the astronomer-astrologer to span time and obtain information about the past or envisage the future. Up to the 17th century the two roles were united. Newton and Kepler were both astronomers and astrologers- their left-brained logical and mathematical skills working together with their right-brained intuition. Today astrologers still study astronomy, but most astronomers reject astrology. They have settled for the left-brained approach to reality and focused on a yang form of time. The astrologer’s cyclic view of time is female or yin.

When they scan the night sky with their telescopes, astronomers look into the past. The super nova of 1987 took 170,000 light years to reach us though, for the astronomers viewing it, it was happening now. They were seeing the past in the present moment. Astrologers see the future in the present when they make predictions. We can say the difference between them is that the astrologer is interested in time quality, and the astronomer deals with time quantatively.

Although orthodox archaeologists are reluctant to recognise this because it disagrees with their evolutionary paradigm, the pyramids, stone circles and vast earth works scattered across the globe point to the existence of an ancient global civilisation with a very advanced knowledge of astronomy. The mathematics embodied in these edifices proves they could not only measure the cycles of sun, moon and planets, but also the 25.000 year precessional cycle of the stars. (Due to a wobble in the earth’s axis, the equinoxes and solstices appear to move backwards through the twelve constellations that give their names to the zodiac, completing a full circle in roughly 25.000 years, which is known as the precession).

An unsolved question is why the people who built these massive edifices went to such immense cost and effort? It has been calculated that eighteen million man-hours went into the construction of Silbury Hill- part of the Avebury complex in Wiltshire. It was started around 2660BC and is the largest man-made mound in Europe. Was Avebury built as an observatory, or as a huge clock of earth and stone to measure time, or did it have another purpose?

Time keeping was certainly more important to the early agricultural communities of the 4th and 3rd millennia BC than to the hunter-gatherers who preceded them. The times of sowing and reaping needed to be established, but, just as important, the times of the religious festivals accompanying the seasons. The nature gods who they believed had power to grant good or bad harvests needed to be placated, and rituals performed for the well-being of the people and the land. For this purpose the times of the equinoxes, solstices and new moons had to be established.

The oldest calendar known dates from the city of Akkad, and was created around 3.800 BC. Based on the combined cycles of sun and moon, it divides the year into twelve months of three hundred and fifty-four days, starting at the spring equinox and the month of Nisan (Aries). When required a 13th month was intercalated called “the month of dark sowing”. Indian calendars also began with Aries, who is still seen as an initiator in modern astrology. According to Indian legend, the world began at a date in the distant past when all seven planets were conjunct in Aries.

From around 4000 BC measurements of time and space were being structured systematically. The 12:60 system evolved, whereby days in the year corresponded to the 360 degrees of the circle, and became the foundation of our time-space based consensual reality. That astrological myth was already bound up with time keeping in Akkad, can be seen in the names of the Akkadian months. For example, the second month- Kharsidi- means “the propitious bull”. 6000 years ago the time qualities of the twelve divisions of the sun’s annual passage through the ecliptic that are recognised today were already determined.

The summer solstice, when the sun is at its height, had special significance for the Egyptian Pharaoh, who was seen as the earthly embodiment of the sun, and alignments were made accordingly in temple architecture. The avenue of ram-headed sphinxes at Karnac, for example, is oriented to the setting sun at the summer solstice.

Ramses II’s great temple at Abu Simbel, however, honours the rising sun in Aries. When it was built, the sun in the precessional cycle was passing through the constellation of Aries at the spring equinox. Since then, however, the precession has moved it on, and the “miracle of the sun” in Abu Simbel no longer coincides with the equinox but takes place in February. Due to its alignment twice a year the first ray of the rising sun penetrates the length of the temple to reach the inner sanctuary, illuminating the statues of three gods placed there. For the crowd of worshippers, gathered in ancient times to witness this spectacle, it must have represented an experience of spiritual rebirth and renewal.

In order to appreciate the significance of such alignments, we need to understand how the Egyptians saw the relationship between heaven and earth. In contrast to our present allocation of gender, Nut the sky was female, and Geb the earth was male. They were depicted as a pair of lovers. The ancient Egyptians saw sky and earth as two parts of a whole that had been torn apart. At certain stages in the cycles of time, however, alignments would come into place between them, which represented copulation and insemination. Then an energy exchange occurred in which earth energy was relayed to the sky, and sky energy to the earth.

I believe the key to the puzzle of why the pyramids and sacred sites are located where they are lies in the myth of Nut and Geb. They could have been so placed to create alignments between earth and sky. It was Robert Bauval who first pointed out that the Giza pyramids are constructed in the form of a flat isosceles triangle, mirroring the isosceles triangle formed by the three stars in Orion’s belt. The Egyptians, who had a devotional attitude to the stars, worshiped Orion as the stellar form of their god Osiris.

Mark Vidler in his book The Star Mirror carries Bauval’s findings further. In the geometry of the great pyramid he discovers altogether eleven alignments with eleven major stars, which were exact during the period around 2450 BC. If my conclusion from the myth of Nut and Geb is correct, the Egyptians would have experienced these alignments as a channelling of energy from sky to earth and from earth to sky. Thus in building the pyramids they were spiritually exploiting the potential of the time quality at certain epochs in the precessional cycle of the stars.

Alignments only remain in place for about fifty years and are then lost. Over the centuries since 2400 BC alignments from the pyramid with single stars have come into being, but it seems that for an epoch to be significant an exceptional number of them need to occur at once. Vidler discovers this applies to our present age. At the beginning of the 21st century, the eleven pointers of the great pyramid were again all aligned to some of the brightest stars in the sky. He interprets this as meaning we are living at a crucial time in human history, and believes our epoch was foreseen and pointed to by the designers of the pyramid.

As if to give literal meaning to the myth of the lovers Nut and Geb, Vidler goes on to discover alignments between the brightest stars and the tallest mountains on earth as well as sacred sites. Comparing their earthly coordinates with the celestial longitude and latitude of significant stars, he not only discovers alignments but also that isosceles triangles are formed when the sites are connected by straight lines.

Synchronicity has it that isosceles triangles are also created in the sky when aligned stars are connected. The chances that three stars or three mountains should form exact isosceles triangles are so remote that his findings are mind-boggling. For example, after discovering an isosceles triangle between Ben Nevis, Silbury Hill and Mt Brandon, he then discovers that three stars forming an isosceles triangle in the head of the constellation Draco are at present vertically aligned to these landmarks- the star Eltanim, the eye of the dragon, being exactly above Silbury.

I suggest that the leys, avenues or cursors, extending across the countryside from sacred sites such as Avebury, reflect the straight lines of this celestial geometry, and that they were constructed to channel the energy received from the sky to other sites or places of habitation.

So, to conclude this section, a knowledge of planetary and stellar cycles enabled the astrologers or priests of ancient cultures to predict times when their temples and sacred sites would be ‘plugged in’, and the current would flow, and plan their religious festivals accordingly. I also go along with the theory that the Egyptians mummified their dead to preserve their etheric bodies, which are the templates for their physical bodies, until the time came round when the key alignments were formed within the 25.00 year precessional cycle that would allow their resurrection and ascension to the stars, their true home.

As we have seen, for the people living between 4000 and 500 BC time was cyclic- a wheel of eternal occurrence. But since then, from the ancient Greeks onwards, time has become consensually linear, at least in the west. Christianity, unlike the more ancient Hindu religion with its cycles of reincarnation, rests on linear time. It is needed for the doctrine of a fall in the past and redemption in the future to take place. Christian theologians taught that time is absolute and God-ordained, that it began at the creation 4000 years ago, and runs in a continuous line until the end of time at the last judgement.

Over the centuries people have become more time conscious. The first mechanical clocks appeared in 12th century in European monasteries to summon the brothers to prayer. Then, after the industrial revolution, clocks became of paramount important to coordinate the shifts in the factories. In the 19th century factory owners would present their workers with pocket watches to ensure that they arrived punctually.

The great edifice of knowledge that science has erected since the 17th century rests on linear time. Without it there could be no law of cause and effect, so crucial to scientific proof. Without it there could also be no Darwinian evolution or Marxian concept of social and economic progress. Thus by the 20th century not only did we all accept unquestioningly that time was external, but we had become slaves to it.

However, a seed of dissent had been sown back in the 18th century when the philosopher Emmanuel Kant suggested that time was psychological. He saw it as an innate sense that moulded our perceptions, and, when in the late 20th century neuroscientists came to investigate the brain, they found they agreed with him. It is now proved that our brains regulate how we experience time- the part responsible being a loop of dopamine generated neural activity with its centre in the frontal cortex just behind the eyes. Incoming impressions are collected in packets in a present tense window. Then, like a film editor cutting a film, the brain rearranges the separate impressions contained within it into a time line, backdating some in the process.

Scientists have also found that the way we experience time depends on our dopamine levels, which explains subjective differences. Time, as we all know, crawls slowly for the child during a boring lesson at school, but flies for the pensioner.

Time is relative, as Einstein went on to prove, His contribution was to remove the absoluteness from the concept of linear time, and to replace it with the model of a curved time-space continuum.

Einstein also made us aware of how time depends on location. For example, from a theoretical viewpoint in outer space all the planetary cycles in our solar system could be viewed at any given moment in their totality. And everything that has ever happened on our planet could theoretically be experienced in the present tense by observers at different points in deep space observing us through telescopes.

The way we experience time also has to do with the speed of change. Here I suggest a mental experiment:

Imagine we fast-forward time, increasing the speed by which the planets encircle the sun until three hundred and sixty-five days become ten minutes. For someone in deep space not much would change, but the observer on earth would see the passage of the sun as a flashing trail of light, spending five minutes above and then five minutes below the horizon. The moon would trace a spiral of light in the sky, pulsating at intervals of twenty-three seconds as it grows to the full and then wanes. Mercury would perform a strange dance round the glowing trace of the sun- two and a half minutes forwards and half a minute backwards. Mars would move direct for twenty minutes and then go retrograde for two. Uranus and Neptune would make slow progress, moving six minutes forwards and then four backwards.

If we speeded time p so that the sun’s cycle lasted one hundredth of a second, we would hear the music of the spheres, as the planets create resonances according to the pitch of their orbits. Mars, for example would be heard as a deep bass. Mercury, so often retrograde, would give forth a chirping note, and Venus a harmonious chord. Shortening the sun’s cycle further to a thousandth of a second would make the outer planets audible, and then the whole solar system, heard from the sun, would play a grand regular chord, or a varying melody when heard from the earth.

When a year is shortened to a hundred thousandth of a second, sounds disappear into the supersonic, and we enter the range of heat radiation. Then the paths of the sun, moon and planets would appear as solid lines each glowing with one of the colours of the rainbow. Movement therefore, and with it time, is transcended at this speed, and our solar system becomes a solid geometrical figure composed of light and colour.

A philosopher may surmise, as speeding up time transforms matter into sound and then light waves, that the higher oscillations correspond to higher dimensions of consciousness, and that matter and time only appear when the speed of oscillation is slowed to a lower pitch. Is life eternity in slow motion?

By the end of the 20th century, Steven Hawking was questioning Einstein’s theory of relativity and proclaiming there is no time without matter, and that time, space and matter, which are interdependent, began with the big bang. Quantum physicists began observing how time disintegrates on the quantum level. They saw particles exiting from a tube at one end before they had entered it at the other, proving time can also move backwards.

The weirdness with which time is experienced on the quantum level is similar to how it is experienced in dreams. Here it is rarely linear. It can contract or extend, and we can transcend it by reliving the past or dreaming the future. It is as if time has an extra dimension in dream consciousness. Instead of being a line it becomes a field- a flat surface around which our attention jumps from one impression to another, which are all present together.

Therefore, although time when bound up with space and matter in normal waking consciousness seems to run linearly from past to future, this is not the case in other states of consciousness. I believe that prophets, mediums, clairvoyants and intuitive astrologers can enter the state of consciousness where time has an extra dimension while remaining in the normal waking state. They can thus stand both outside and inside time.

The techniques taught in spiritual schools to raise consciousness through meditation and prayer can also lead us to experience a state where time is transcended. Teachers in the zen tradition speak of the power of the now- a heightened clarity of vision in the present moment in which both past and future are contained. In meditation we move from the periphery of the wheel of time, where we continuously and inexorably turn on the time line, to the still, silent hub of the wheel where time is no more.

We have reached a point in our evolution where the paradigm of a forward-moving cause and effect time line is weakening. If, as quantum physics has proved, time can also run backwards, then so can cause and effect. The teleological view of history emphasises the pull of the future. For example, a couple get married and this event requires them to meet, which they do at university two years earlier. But this event requires them to choose to go to the same university, which they do three years earlier, and so on until finally their marriage requires them to be born. In this case the wedding stands for the pull of the future. Perhaps those astrologers who have a talent for predicting future events are tapping into teleological causes.

Astrologers possess an overview of time cycles, and know how to interpret time quality. This allows them to predict events that are likely to occur because they correspond to the quality. They also erect charts accordingly to the rule that a cycle unfolds the potential contained in its birth moment. For example, your life as described in your birth-chart is an expression of the time quality of your moment of birth. Yet at the same time, paradoxically, nothing is predetermined. The time quality of a particular moment is a precondition, but what we do with it is up to us. At every point there is always more than one alternative, and our choices help to create the future.

In conclusion, reality on a higher plane beyond time and change can be compared to a geometric shape of great complexity, eternally complete and perfect. However, we find ourselves on a lower and slower plane of consciousness on the time line, moving round it as in a dance. We dance the geometry of time according to the patterns created by the cycles of sun, moon, planets and stars. Time is needed for our dance to unfold, its shape to become evident, and its meaning to be clear. It is a sacred dance, a sacrament, in which the whole is felt as truth and perceived as beauty.

Phoebe Wyss April 2006

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