Thursday, June 22, 2006

And was Jerusalem builded here pt1

It was the Summer Solstice yesterday


And what better time than Solstice to indulge my pet hobby of stalking around London in search of symbolic architecture and suggestive shadows?


So, there I was standing in a very particular part of Trafalgar Square at 5.42pm yesterday afternoon waiting for something cosmic to happen

And it did

Sort of

Thanks to some quirks of astronomy, cosmically interesting things happen in London on Summer Solstice

For example, when the Sun is due West (or East) of you on the Solstice it is almost exactly 30 degrees above the horizon. That means it casts a shadow almost exactly equal to the height of whatever is casting the shadow multiplied by the square root of three – 1:1.732, a proportion known as the Vesica Piscis

Some fun Vesica Piscis facts

  • The Vesica Piscis is made by linking two circles together, bringing the outside edge of each to the midway point of the other. The almond-shaped centre of the image is called a mandorla (Latin for almond)
  • When the Vesica Piscis is displayed vertically, the mandorla forms the shape of a fish
  • The word "fish" translates into Greek as "ichthys", which is an acronym for "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour " Early Christians adopted the fish symbol as their own, and used it as a secret code to identify themselves to one another
  • When the Vesica Piscis is viewed horizontally it represents the birth passage. The pointed oval is a universal symbol of the Divine Feminine, and in this context the Vesica Piscis is the vulva of the Goddess, surrounded by the crescents of the waxing and waning moon
  • The Pythagoreans considered the mandorla to be a holy figure. The mathematical ratio of its width to its height was believed by them to be 265:153. This ratio, equal to 1.73203, was thought of as a holy number, called the measure of the fish
  • The number 153 appears in the Gospel of John as the exact number of fish Jesus caused to be caught - in a miraculous catch of fish, which is thought by some to be a coded reference to Pythagorean belief
  • The Vesica Piscis symbol appears frequently in medieval art and architecture

Another interesting little quirk of the London Solstice is that, at the same time as the Sun is due West and casting a Vesica Piscis shadow, the constellation of Orion appears to holding the Sun in its free ‘hand'

So, standing at the edge of Trafalgar Square yesterday at 5.42pm at the tip of the shadow of Nelson’s Column, I could see the Sun perched on top of the Column; whilst Orion was doing his thing in the background (hidden by the glare of the Sun, and the cloud).

And without going into the detail right now, application of some basic trigonometry suggests that the shadow cast by Nelson’s Column on the Solstice echoes the geometry and dimensions of the Great Pyramid at Giza.

You can also play the same games with the Monument to the Great Fire of London, just down the road from Nelson’s Column. Built by mad keen astronomer and freemason, Christopher Wren, it is exactly the same height as Nelson’s Column (202ft) and has a big flaming golden ball on the top as a bonus clue

I’m going somewhere with all this, honestly.


From the 17th through to at least the early 20th century there was a popular belief in Britain that, back in prehistory, the lost tribes of Israel had settled in this green and pleasant land and, incidentally, that it was the ancient Israelites who had built the Great Pyramid. This belief was the foundation of British Israelism and followers swore blind that Britain was the new Promised Land and that London was the New Jerusalem. The intriguing astronomical alignments in London on the Solstice were taken as being expressions of Divine blessing for the New Jerusalem project.

And the British Israelites and Freemasons most certainly did set about constructing a New Jerusalem. For example, when he rebuilt St Paul’s Cathedral, Wren tilted it from the traditional East-West alignment so that it was aligned instead with Temple Church, mirroring the relationship between the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Dome of the Rock in ‘Old’ Jerusalem.

London also started suffering from a rash of lion and sphinx statues, in Trafalgar Square and elsewhere. The British Lion is actually the Lion of Judah...

Per Genesis 49…

Judah is a lion's whelp:
from the prey, my son, thou art gone up:
he stooped down, he couched as a lion,
and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,
nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
until Shiloh come;
and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Not everyone was thrilled with the British Israelism concept though. William Blake thought all this New Jerusalem stuff was bollocks and penned Jerusalem as a criticism of the notion that anyone could think a country so blighted with industrialisation and squalor could be the Promised Land...

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