23 April 2003 | Draft
Timeship: Conception, Technology, Design, Embodiment and Operation
- / -
Part 3 of Renaissance
Zones: experimenting with the intentional significance of the Damanhur community
Conceiving a timeship and its operation
| Varieties of possible timeship
| Web as timeship
: Comprehending new
| Array technology
| Synchronic lines
| Community "technology"
Timeship design and operation
: Timeship design
| Timeship embodiment
| Timeship operation
"The future is not a probable place we are being taken to but
a preferred place we are creating.
The tracks to it are not found and followed but are made by laying and constructing
Peter Ellyard, Preferred Futures, 1993
Conceiving a timeship and its operation
Intimations: A sense of the nature of time and time
travel is perhaps first given, and best encapsulated, in the phrase at the beginning
of many a story-teller's tale: "once upon a time" -- suggesting a
special sense of oneness and togetherness in time. In Celtic cultures legends
exist of the people of an earlier time who "withdrew into the stones"
from which they can return at any time (see Judge,
2002). This notion is interwoven with that of Tìr-Na Nòg,
the land of eternal youth. Although in Italian, it is perhaps not surprising
that this is the topic of one of the publications of Damanhur (Lisa Nutti. Tìr-Na
The possibilities of time travel and time machines are assiduously cultivated
in fiction. There is much speculation on how such machines might be designed
and operated -- stimulated by the widespread interest in UFOs. Damanhur nourishes
this reflection and has designed machines in which to experiment with time travel
-- and even has a web page on the
topic. Their presumption in openly articulating their progress in this field
has also attracted reactions [comment].
But for Damanhur: "The most important principle of all our researches is
that art and science are complementary to each other, it is possible to obtain
results that contemporary science declares impossible, if you combine human
creativity and will with technology". Thinking about time travel may be
severely handicapped by using the mental frameworks appropriate to thought about
For the Gameplayers of Zan, in envisaging the vessel by which to dissociate
themselves from the constraints of those dominating them:
...in the beginning, we were not sure it could be done; it was a hope, a
theory, a gamble. but the suspicion was so strong we could not ignore it;
so we started at the mountain called Madness. Inside, it was hollowed out,
a little at a time, a handful, a pocket-load, to make a place for the ark
that was to be. And just as gradually, in the smoky mediation halls of Dragonfly
Lodge, one pocketful of principle at a time, it began to come into view, to
manifest itself. It was then we learned that the whole concept of ideas about
space travel we had been labouring under was wrong, full of limits we would
never transcend...like powering aircraft with coal-fired steam engines....Now
we saw that space was a sea...we still call a container of people that moves
according to control in that medium a ship. But the flaw in the old
concept was that we tried to leapfrog to powered ships, fueled ships, before
we even knew the nature of the new sea." (p. 366-7)
Varieties of possible timeship: A point of departure
might be to consider the implication of a preliminary "brainstorming"
range of timeship candidates, however tentatively indicative of possibilities:
- Café / Pub: The gathering together over the years of groups of people
in a cafe or a pub suggests that a time ship might be envisaged in terms of
the coherence over time of a group. At a different extreme the kind of experience
offered by a Munich Oktoberfest suggests a different way of thinking about
time over a period of hours.
- Meeting / dialogue: Any kind of gathering can be understood as a timeship.
A useful distinction is made between meetings that "take off" and
"fly" and those that do not.
- Social organization: A club, or any peer-group society such as an alumni
group, gives a related sense of continuity over time and the nature of renewal.
There is a degree to which any organization may be usefully considered as
a vehicle for collectively moving through time. The same may be said of less
formal organization such as a dynasty, a kinship group, a tribe, or a totemic
- Epic performance: Major epic performance such as the Mahabarata or Wagner's
operatic Ring cycle can be understood as carrying people into other dimensions
of space and time. For aficionados, such experiences have an overwhelming
alternative sense of reality. Many of the considerations with regard to an
epic apply also to a song, a poem or a body of work in which the minds and
emotions are carried backwards and forward in time. Some long-running sitcoms
may also be considered in this light (cf 30-year run of the BBC's Last
of the Summer Wine; Neighbours; Dynasty)
- Liturgy of the hours of prayer, notably as practiced in monasteries [more]
- Megalithic circles: These can be understood as time machines, especially
given their particular relationship to annual astronomical phenomena:
- Virtual organizations: The web, and the social networks which flourish on
it, can be throught of as timeships, especially given such devices as webrings
and virtual reality
- Journey: Recognition of the nature of the complex relationship between a
journey and time suggests that a journey as a whole might be understood as
a timeship; a similar argument might be applied to understanding of a career
- Device: There is of course the possibility of a time travel device, much
explored in fiction. At Damanhur such a device has been built for experimental
Web as timeship: The tremendous socio-economic revolution
created by the web has been the subject of a multitude of commentaries. Through
the configuration of hyperlinks, the web may be understood as a convergence
of semantic patterns and mnemo-technics. It is emerging as a planetary form
of organization of significance beyond the simple transfer of knowedge along
information highways. This may be described in memetic terms but it also resonates
with the metaphor of songlines articulated by Australian Aborigines. Aspects
of this have been explored elsewhere (Songlines
of the Noosphere: global configuration of hypertext pathways, 1996;
of hyperlink geometry, 1997). The forthcoming "semantic
web" will offer even more striking possibilities. It is an extension
of the current web in which information is given well-defined meaning, better
enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.
As yet the structure of the Damanhur website is relatively simple, but as the
planned "virtual Damanhur" emerges it is probable that many of the
mnemonic links in its Temple architecture will be reflected in hyperlinks. Engaging
with the configuration of these hyperlinks may well take on many aspects of
experiencing a timeship -- notably in the light of its Triad project (see below).
Symbolism: This is a classic approach to time-binding
and may be considered fundamental to insight into the nature of any timeship.
It can provide an intimately significant sense of coherence. Elements include:
- interwoven tales and legends may be usefully understood as encoding the
control circuitry of development -- to prove coherence to timeship (ecosystem).
This may be most apparent in oral cultures and the oral natural of childhood
education. Interesting examples of complex sets of tales include the
Tales of the Buddha, These 547 stories are meant to teach the
values of self-sacrifice, honesty, morality and other didactic values.
- Panchatantra. This Hindu collection of stories about relationships
between animals (known in Europe as the Fables of Bidpai) serves
as a manual for the conduct of a prospective ruler and is widely used
by parents in guiding children towards values in human life, since each
story has a moral.
- Aesop's Fables. Over
655 European tales are in this collection, each with an associated moral.
- Mulla Nasrudin's
- labyrinths and walking the labyrinths
- statues of divinities
- temple halls
- each room based on a different number symbolism
- alchemical metals (lead, sulphur, mercury, gold,), but not the periodic
table (cf Haskell)
- traditional elements: earth/air/fire/water
- rituals and chants
- walking the temple
- mnemonic gardens / theatre
- meditative work process, notably in construction and artwork
Operation: The "art" of making a timeship
operate may well make use of symbols in ways that might be understood as constituting
a "magical" operation. The nature of this "magic" needs
to be considered in the light of the perception of someone in 1900 observing
computer-controlled facilities of 1999. The comprehensibility of the "magic"
relevant to timeship operation may be like any present understanding of the
technology of the year 2099. The control systems of any modern vehicle, whether
automobile, aircraft or spaceship, all involve evaluation and manipulation of
symbols. Ficino's "natural magic" required the appropriate disposition
of symbols with the same care as would be invested by a professional event designer
(involving interior decoration, etc) needing to ensure an appropriately harmonious
effect. The concerns of a feng shui professional are of a similar nature.
The challenge is how to think of different kinds of "magic" deriving
- artefacts, colours, sounds, scents, foodstuffs
- art work
- view, context
- temporal setting (kairos)
A major challenge is how to get the various components to work together. In
the case of a spaceship this is a control systems issue -- timed to match a
"launch window". In the case of interior decoration, the whole art
is to ensure that the different elements work together to create a transformative
ambiance -- perhaps on an "auspicious" occasion selected by some means.
It might be assumed that the operation of a timeship might involve an intermediary
form of "magic".
At Damanhur various forms of operation are undertaken. these include: walking
a labyrinth (including extensive stone cirucits) and rituals
Being the experiment: Given recent shifts in understanding
in relation to physics and consciousness, and therefore to understanding of
time, it is probable that any timeship or time travel would involve a much more
intimate relationship between the person carried and the vehicle. Whereas traditionally
a vehicle travelling through space required getting "onto" it, or
"into" it, or hanging from it in someway, in the case of a timeship
these may well need to be understood metaphorically in part at least. The traveller
is no longer isolated from the vehicle to the same degree -- there may be the
kind of bonding with the vehicle which some car owners experience, for example--
only much more so. In medical therapy there is a similar shift between providing
medicine to others and testing the medicine on oneself (as is done in homeopathy).
In 2003, the DaVinci Institute
(Colorado) is in process of launching the world's first Encyclopedia of Future
Inventions. However the challenge of the invention process is precisely
to traverse the logical interface into a new framework from which the principles
underlying the new invention will tend not to be fully comprehensible. They
may be treated in terms of quackery, superstition, ignorance, fantasy, or tainted
by the "hand of the devil".
Comprehending new technologies: There is therefore
a fundamental problem of comprehension through new frampeworks. Classic examples
- refusal of Galileo's colleagues to look through the telescope he had invented,
because "they already knew what they would see"
- theoretical assertion that bumble bees could not fly -- and therefore manpowered
flight was impossible
- processes of professional ostracism practiced against: physicist David Bohm
for extending the scope of his research; Capra, Laszlo
- systematic denial of relevance of "non-mathematical" research
of Isaac Newton, despite his reputation as one of the greatest mathematicians
- process of evaluation of "cold fusion", water forms, etc *******
The UFO phanomena is therefore most interesting for the manner in which the
possible technologies involved are subject to disparagement. It is unlikely
that they would be powered by comprehensible technologies such as rubber bands
or combustion engines. But if the principles on which they might be powered
cannot be understood, it would seem that a measure of suspended judgement is
appropriate in considering the possibility. This is the challenge for the "sceptical
inquirer" who may not be able to acquire evidence in the form compatible
with the methodology of future technology.
A table like that above might be used to show the challenges to communicating
between different stages of understanding -- from "primitive" to "advanced".
This table would suggest that successful communication between Stage A and Stage
C might require an education process lasting one or two decades. It could help
to distinguish the understanding Stage A has of Stage C from that that Stage
C has of Stage A. Doris Lessing drew special attention to these challenges in
her Canopus in Argos
series (1979-83) of science fiction, partly based on sufi concepts. See also
the work of Andreas Fuglesang (1982-5).
More interesting however is the insight from a disposition of these stages
around the circumference of a circle. This would highlight the investment required
to traverse the stages on the circumference to ensure communication between
distant stages. However a line across the cricle between distant stages might
well occur in the case of communication between some understandings of indigenous
societies relating to space-time and those of advanced physics.
Array technology: In 1900 a radio antenna would have
been as meaningful as the Native American devices called "dreamcatchers"
-- and would be viewed with the same suspicion by sceptics. A century later
many modern buildings carry complex antennas -- whose mode of operation few
would be able to explain or comprehend, even though dependent on their daily
use. The same might be said of extensive antenna arrays spread over kilometres,
or of cosmic ray detectors kilometres underground. Dreamcatchers are still in
A conventional organization chart might be seen to be an array vital to that
body's knowledge management process. Typically this is hierarchical with daring
excursions into matrix management and network organization models. These may
all be considered to be different styles of array. They reflect equivalent arrays
in conceptualization: hierarchy, matrix, and network. Interestingly the French
term for a matrix-based conceptual array is grille de lecture, emphasizing
that it is through the conceptual array that external phenomena are read --
as through a pattern of window panes.
It is also worth considering how many conceptual schemes, whether theories
or in the form of operational plans, can be considered as arrays -- ranging
from lists of concepts (as in web menus), through tables, to more complex structures.
The organization of these may be of special significance in practice (see Representation,
Comprehension and Communication of Sets: the role of number, 1978).
Although much studied, it is questionable whether array technology as applied
to social organization is now as sophisticated as that applied to antenna design
and operation. There has been little follow-up to Patrick Heelan's concern with
"The Logic of Changing Classificatory Frameworks" (1974) in terms of
the conceptual freedom of the lattices of non-Boolean quantum logic -- which
is in complete contrast to the essentially mechanistic structure of conventional
He noticed that meta-contextual languages able to unify two or more contextual
languages are isomorphic.
One intentional community that made very intensive use of conceptual matrices
(which they termed "screens") was the Institute of Cultural Affairs.
Their screens [Jon and Maureen Jenkins; collective
research] seem to be much more extensive than that presented for Damanhur
by Jay Merrifield (1998, appendix II) . The question is how such conceptual
arrays function to orient the flows of insights and control messages throughout
a community. How does this contrast with processes based solely on logical chains
of argument? Can an "argument" then be understood as an array of reasons
to be best understood through insights into their complementarity and symmetry?
This then raises issues about the kinds of visual literacy required to comprehend
an argument, or conceptual complex, so presented. Again the work of Ron Atkin
is helpful in understanding the difficulties that may be experienced in holding
an array of perspectives of any particular degree of complexity [more]. Forms
of intelligence may be cultivated that are more adept at this than those whose
strengths lie in conventional forms of literacy and numeracy.
Taking the five alternatives:
- hierarchy: typical of the linear thinking necessary in many administrative
and control functions. Significance in the cartesian sense is classically
derived from sequential processes typically associated with hierarchical structure.
Here a logical chain of argument is most evident.
- matrix: typical of complex inter-sectoral, multi-organizational management
processes in which coordination is a priority. Matters become more complex
when tabular arrays are required to carry meaning -- as in any matrix approach.
In effect such arrays encode a pattern of conditions that may be dynamically
interrelated as in input/output analysis. Multiple chains of argument are
- network: typical of communication pathways between disparate bodies where
information, rather than coordination or control, is a priority. Presumably
this will come into its own with the emergence of the semantic web.
- tensegrity: typical of partially ordered networks of which the most clearly
articulated example is that which emerges from the syntegrity process invented
by cybernetician Stafford Beer
(Beyond Dispute: The Invention of Team Syntegrity, 1994) [more]
- quantum logic and lattice theory
At Damanhur, to a far greater degree than in the Institute of Cultural Affairs,
use is made of arrays of people in ritual processes in order to carry and embody
significance. A ritual, appropriately performed, may even be understood as performing
an antenna-like role in binding time and insight. Unrecognized new principles
of higher dimensionality may then become comprehensible. On the other hand,
it is possible that common games like soccer, with its 11-player sides, may
have acquired their fascination from the way in which they are intuitively understood
to offer insights into the 11-fold dimensionality of superstring unified theory
the Eleventh Dimension).
Damanhur invests in the construction of large labyrinthine arrangements, notably
as healing devices. their role should be assessed in the light of the long tradition
of using such devices in various religions (Sic Lonegren. Labyrinths: Ancient
Myths and Modern Uses, 1996).
There is a case for exploring radiolaria as arrays. They are holoplanktonic
protozoa widely distributed in the oceans (and in the fossil record) and range
from 30 microns to 2 mm in diameter [more;
have long been an inspiration as art forms in their own right [more].
Many are spherical in structure. Extremely interesting efforts by Nicholas Shea
have been made to generate such spherical radiolaria structures [more]
with graphic software within the context of other generated spherical arrays
including buckyballs. The question is whether such structures could be used
to configure semantic content spherically -- a spherical semantic network map.
This would then provide a context for exploring whether initiatives like that
at Damanhur effectively involve the construction of such "closed"
arrays as "grilles de lecture". Do such structures:
- map complex closed conceptual systems
- reflect a degree of "programming" in both the positive and negative
- provide the degree of mutually reinforcement between the semantic components
to perform an antenna-like function
- offer clues to the e:mergence of coherence in the forthcoming "semantic
Selfic technology: One of the most unusual fields
of research and development at Damanhur is that of "Selfica". Traces
of this technology can reportedly be found in Egyptian, Etruscan and Celtic
cultures; it was used up until the 7th century BC by Arabs. It might prove to
be the case that the classical Celtic knot designs [more;
as applied by monks in goldleaf to illustrate the pages of sacred texts, are
a legacy of their early knowledge of selfic technology.
Selfic structures involve the use of spirals (the word Selfica actually
means 'spiral'). Particular metals, colours and alchemical inks are used in
geometric forms, to act as host bodies for highly evolved intelligent beings.
The particular energies that inhabit these structures are in fact minute living
forms, border intelligences that can pass from one reality to another, acting
as a go-between from one plane of existence to another. Selfic energies belong
to a sector of our universe characterized by ultra-light speed and when they
enter inside a prepared host body it is as if they undergo a kind of deceleration.
The interaction of the Self with a person is founded upon mutual advantage.
The Self diverts or attracts useful conditions in the physical life of the
individual, connecting itself to the aura through the 'microlines' -- the
energy lines of the body. Entering into a pre-prepared structure enables the
Self to perform specialist functions and there is a wide range of Selfica
to aid and assist with an array of human conditions and problems, from dietary
imbalances to failing eyesight, from protection against radioactivity to balancing
sensitivity within the individual. The greatest selfic structure is contained
within the Temples of Humankind. Seen in the context of a laboratory, the
Temple is able to maintain the ideal conditions for reaching, conversing and
interacting with superior forces. Each individual Self is personally linked
to the Temples of Humankind. [more]
Selfica is therefore the practical use of spirals and metals to concentrate
and direct vital energies. The Damanhur temple is reported to contain over 300
tons of circuitry and connections based upon this technology (see Jay Merrifield,
1998, pp. 236-7). The technology is used to "charge" the spaces and
shapes preparatory to ritual or healing. The subterranean position of the temple
makes it ideally situated to store the energy which the Damanhurians say is
flowing through the "synchronic" lines of earth energy.
Damanhur also sells personalized bracelets and amulets for specific purposes,
notably related to healing. The bracelets resemble those in copper worn by many
against arthritis. Many religions promote the wearing of amulets. In this context
it is worth noting the beliefs held and promoted in relation to roasries and
mala beads (see Designing
Cultural Rosaries and Meaning Malas to Sustain Associations within the Pattern
that Connects, 2000).
Developed using their selfic technology, the Damanhur "spheroselfs"
function somewhat like psycho-social analogues to the computers foreseen as
endowed with "artificial intelligence" and "personality".
In contrast to digital "computers", they might be better understood
-- not as "analogue computers" -- but as "analogue configurators"
holding and reconfiguring patterns. In the account of the Damanhur experiments,
they are "instruments able to perform many different functions. They make
use both of Selfica and of alchemy at very high levels, applying more advanced
principles of esoteric physics than the traditional Selfic circuits. As with
computers, these spheroselfs are used as "memory cells" but also as
vital "energy accumulators" -- in effect a psycho-technical manifestation
of the adage "knowledge is power". As well as energy, they are able
to hold wholly abstract "soul information", such as artistic talent,
the potentiality of which can then be transferred from one person to another,
through the medium of the spheres. In time travel the more ordinary "spheres",
the size of footballs, are used like screens to monitor the process à
la Houston Ground Control.
At Damanhur the Temple complex might be understood as an emerging analogue
equivalent to mainstream digital initiatives towards an emerging "global
brain" based on "artificial intelligence" [Simulating
a Global Brain: using networks of international organizations, world problems,
strategies, and values, 2000]. The interesting aspect at Damanhur is the
functional symbolic isomorphism perceived between the structure of the Temple
and the structure of the human body (cf R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz. The Temple
in Man: Sacred Architecture and the Perfect Man, 1949), with the added dimension
explored by Mark Johnson (The
Body in the Mind: the bodily basis of meaning, imagination, and reason,
1987), and the enactivist concern with embodied mind [more].
Synchronic lines: Research at Damanhur is extensively
focused on "synchronic lines" which they variously distinguish from,
or associate with, the more widely explored "ley
lines". Cautioning readers against premature judgement, Jay Merrifield
(1998, p. 222) reports:
The synchronic lines put our universe in contact with the entirety of the
universe, both from a physical point of view and from a subtle point of view.
They are roads where thought and information flow....Influencing the synchronic
lines means you can influence the type of thought that flows out and thus
For Damanhur, synchronic lines are like rivers in which an infinite amount
of knowledge is stored, as if they were a library containing all that humankind
has ever thought. The network of synchronic lines is composed of nine major
vertical lines and nine major horizontal lines, plus a few minor lines built
by human beings. The intersection of two vertical lines with two horizontal
ones creates a 'shining knot' of synchronic lines. This is an entry point to
the entire network of lines. On Earth there are only two shining knots: one
is in Tibet, the other goes through the valley where Damanhur is built [more;
Curiously another such knot is located in the lands of the Pitjantjatjara of
Central Australia -- a focus of Aboriginal insights in to what have been termed
"song lines". It is appropriate to contrast the metaphor of information
highways with what might be termed "songlines of the noosphere" (see
the Noosphere: global configuration of hypertext pathways, 1996). Synchronic
lines may relate very closely to the songlines of the Aborigines and to their
radically different understandings of time -- through what they term the Dreaming.
Alchemical research: At a time when the long-repudiated
alchemical experiments of Isaac Newton are being reassessed, research at Damanhur
is focused on an "advanced form of ritual alchemical operation" of
which the most intriguing is a project known as Triad. This is a series of "theurgic
magical rituals". In the light of historical research, the aim is to recall,
one at a time, all the thosands of divinities of every culture in the history
of humankind -- to determine whether they are willing to cooperate with each
other for the future salvation of humankind. The divinities are understood as
carrying what might now be termed memes that are features of the evolutionary
force associated with a particular people. Part of the ritual involves removing
negative aspects of such deities -- working with the essence of that divinity
before it has been contaminated by dogma and religiosity. (Jay Merrifield, 1998,
In psychotherapeutic terms, this process may be understood as an active effort
to integrate the disparate understandings of divinity active in some way in
the collective unconsciousness -- and as understood by humankind. At Damanhur,
it is considered a spiritual duty of human beings to synthesise all aspects
of the human experience, including the intellect. These various understandings
may then be configured as facets vital to an appropriate collective spiritual
integration -- facets that may be represented mnemonocally in the glass mandalas
of the Damanhur temple.. As with personal individuation, much depends on the
emerging understanding of the meaning of integration and unification in such
a context -- whence the conventional function of a mandala in meditation. Such
rituals can usefully be compared with the rituals of mainstream religions or
of the Freemasons.
The unusual process of establishing a relationship with forgotten facets of
humanity's cultural heritage, and then integrating them through special rites,
can be compared with the Mormon approach to detection of their non-Mormon ancestors
for proxy baptism in secret rites. Mormons are widely recognized for the immense
resources they devote to genealogical research in order to be able to convert
their ancestors from as far back as possible -- an exercise in "time travel"
! There is an irony to the fact that, despite such beliefs, Mormon-controlled
computer companies have been closely associated with some of the most significant
software developments worldwide.
Community "technology": Western mainstream
thinking is ill-adapted to understanding some of the dimensions of community
that are vital to other cultures:
Islam: Ummah is sometimes defined as as the community, sometimes the
nation, simetimes the body of Muslim believers around the world, and it has
a physical reality, without parallel in any other religion, that is nowhere
better expressed than in the five daily times of prayer....The body of the
individual believer, identical in its posture to the bodies of all other believers,
becomes one with the Umma, the body of the Islamic community on earth. (Jonathan
Raban. Guardian, 19 April 2003)
Buddhism: The Buddha did not write anything down, but left a remarkable
legacy in the form of a teaching (the Dhamma) that was at first orally transmitted
by the religious Order (the Sangha) that he founded and personally guided
for forty-five years. This Order has survived the centuries, preserving the
wisdom of the Buddha in lifestyle as well as in words. To this day, these
three elements, the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, are known and respected
by all Buddhists as 'The Three Refuges' or "The Triple Gem".
Damanhur rightfully prides itself on its capacity to enhance the quality of
community life -- in the light of continuing experimentation on itself. Whilst
there is much concern around the world with the basics of community development,
there is little insight into how to achieve a "climax" community.
Indeed there is no appropriate term for this concept or condition -- although
communities may be described as "magical", as having "good vibes",
as "being together", or perhaps as "mature". Such terms
point towards a form of psycho-cultural ecosystem in which the multiplicity
of roles together carry and engender a larger life form -- a form of emergent
organization of a higher order. This ecosystem has its social dimensions but
it its semantic dimensions that merit highlighting -- the "semantic ecosystem".
A "climax" ecosystem in this sense is one which has over time reached
a degree of equilibrium -- fulfilling its potential -- with respect to the range
of species in the system. However, if the diversity of species is greater, more
complex ecosystems can then be sustained. The question is what kind of human
communities would be possible -- at "climax" -- with a wide range
of personality types? If strongly disrupted, would it recover through the "succession"
process as with natural environment ecosystems? "Community development"
might then be understood as the catalytic aid to such succession processes.
In non-subsistence communities such a catalyst might take the form of a symbol
whose degree of order and complexity would provide a template through which
vital links within the community could then be rendered credible -- whether
or not they were meaningful to others.
Where might examples of such climax communities be found? How might they be
recognized - or ignored -- by outsiders? The supposition is that they would
tend to be rare and isolated -- and possibly vulnerable.
So confident has been Damanhur in its community "technology" that
it achieved some notoriety in 1986 in proposing to act as adviser to NASA concerning
the community dynamics of future orbital space colonies -- given NASA's lack
of research in this area (see Jay Merrifield, 1998, pp. 169-70). The notion of
orbital "time colonies" might also merit reflection.
Future studies: A particular area of exploration
at Damanhur involves what is termed "time prospecting" in collaboration
with a "group of divine forces". This is "an investigation in
time able to move and modify events" -- processes reinvented from those
of the Oracle of Delphi. Questions submitted to the Oracle are answered monthly
at a full moon ritual open to the public (see Jay Merrifield, 1998, pp. 95-8).
The Findhorn Community integrated a similar process into its early processes.
Timeship design and operation
Timeship design: The arguments above suggest that
the challenge of timeship design may be more one of imagination and language
than of mechanics. Unknowingly, we may well be confronted in daily life with
a variety of modules of a timeship. The difficulty is that we do not know how
to recognize them or how to configure them together. Perhaps our situation is
like that of a group of indigenous people who encounter an abandoned automobile
that has broken down on a jungle road -- is it out of fuel, is the tyre punctured,
Temples, mosques, pyramids, or cathedrals may be timeships -- all but ready
to go. As explored elsewhere, the configuration of chambers and stages is suggestive
of an insight into some other form of travel (Entering
Alternative Realities -- Astronautics vs Noonautics: isomorphism between launching
aerospace vehicles and launching vehicles of awareness, 2002). Is it
possible that the differences between the architectures developed by different
faiths signal the design elements that need to be reconciled to ensure a functioning
timeship? For example, the emphasis on the amount of mass characteristic of
pyramids suggests an awareness of a factor that has been largely omitted from
mosques and cathedrals. Whereas the configuration of chambers in the latter
imply a sense of articulated structure and symmetry omitted from pyramids.
Most challenging perhaps is the insight necessary for the coherence of a timeship
-- a missing design metaphor. The suggestion in the title of the paper is that
timeships may need to be "embodied" rather than "constructed".
It may then be the "construction" metaphor that prevents understanding
of the relationship between the vessel and what it might carry.
Some of the following remarks are based on an account published in Kindred
Spirit (33, Winter 1995/1996, with images) of some early experiments
in time travel as understood at Damanhur. Variations were published in Pendulum
(March 2003). The account
has also been posted by artist Ashley Rye, appropriately focused on trompe
Timeship embodiment: The Damanhur community has been
very coherent in recognizing a degree of isomorphism between the structure of
their temple and the interconnected organs of the human body. "Walking
the temple" is understood as engerndering a healthy sympathetic relationship
with a sequence of particular organs -- although such "health" may
merely be the easiest way of explaining the "integrity" or "wholeness"
of the resonant system. Excavating the temple and decorating it with symbols
are understood as magical operations that preserve a resonance between the individual
and the temple. The intricate detail of the symbolism suggests that this is
far from being a general resonance but one that is closer to the relationship
between a pilot and a control system. This symbolism is enhanced and intertwined
with selfic technology that interconnects the chambers of the temple. The process
might be understood as embodying thought patterns -- articulating "the
pattern that connects" (Gregory Bateson. Mind
and Nature: a necessary unity, 1979). It may be of a similar nature
to Aboriginal "singing of the land".
The Gameplayers of Zan provides an interesting account of the paradoxes
involved in the "construction" of their space-time ship hidden within
Let me build a dynamic identification-series for you: consider vehicles.
You make a cart, a wagon, hitch it to a pony, and off you go. Its purpose
is to go, but it can be stopped, and it doesn't change, or stop being a cart.
..Now consider a bicycle, which must be in balance to go...Now an aircraft;
it can only be stopped when it is finished being a functional airplane...You
can't stop it just anywhere, and never in the air...Just so the leap to the
Ship. It is a quantum leap into a new concept in machines, if indeed that
is the proper word. Before, we had machines that could be turned off. The
more complex they became, the harder to turn off. With the Ship we enter the
concept-world of machines that can't be turned off -- at all. They must be
on to exist. Once you reach a certain stage in the assembly of it,
it's on and that's all there is to it. (pp 369-70)
It must be manually flown to hold it in place...Its position at a
specific place upon the Earth is not held by gravity and momentum...that it
stays in that place, it must be flown there. As we sit here, we move
in many ways, but are held fast in a matrix of local forces. The Earth rotates...And
if we do not compensate, then the Ship would drift off on its own. (p. 373)
At Damanhur, the underground temple -- as a "Time Mine" -- is more
than simply a focus of community life. In the Kindred Spirit account
it is described as a gigantic battery that is charged through "300 tons
of circuits and connections utilising a veritable periodic table of metals and
minerals" based on the aforementioned Selfica technology. It is a form
of energy station of advanced complexity appropriate for dimensional exchanges
of various kinds (including healing). Such Time Mines are places which
have the potential to store sufficient energy, both from the synchronic lines
and from human activity, to enable time travel to occur. Within that framework,
the ritualistic environment of the Temple ensures that large amounts of energy
can be generated through the human activities of dancing, chanting, meditating
and singing -- energy which can then be stored by the Temple's selfic circuitry
(connected to the spheroselfs). One reason for the extent of the symbolic artwork,
is that Damanhurians work on the basis that there is a precise relationship
between the extension of the decorated surfaces and the amount of energy generated.
In effect the Temple, might more accurately be described as a huge capacitor,
building and then releasing energy.
With the Temple has been constructed a "Time Cabin". According to
the report, this is "a very complex Selfic structure used to travel in
time and space. It is the application of a very advanced magical and physical
technology. It makes use of selfs, spheres, spheroselfs, crystals, electro-
magnetic fields, oscillators, laser technology, and a sophisticated Selfic and
alchemical plant for its activation, planning and charging."
Damanhur has a specific identification with the Egyptian pantheon, and notably
with Horus. The name derives from "City of Light". In this context,
the symbolically decorated Temple complex recalls the structure and decoration
of the pharaonic tombs. Their construction and symbolic decoration by the pharaoh
during his lifetime might also be understood as a means of ensuring the capacity
to travel through time.
Timeship operation: Again the earlier arguments suggest
that the challenge of timeship operation may be more one of imagination and
language than of mechanics. Given R Buckminster Fuller's proposal for an Operating
Manual for Spaceship Earth (1969), what should be sought with respect
to an Operating Manual for Timeship Earth?
The most suggestive pointers towards this may be those associated with "magical"
or "alchemical" "operations" -- since they combine the sense
of operation on reality with the sense of modifying the relationship of the
operator to reality. This would be consitent with new understandings of the
relationship between physics and consciousness. The problem is to dissociate
the many layers of superstition and misuse from whatever clues are available
-- and to ask the question why "theurgic rituals" do not appear to
"work" as well as claimed.
If the Damanhur temple as a whole -- with its many halls and chamnbers -- is
to be understood as a timeship, it is clear that how the community "meshes"
with it to enable it to operate becomes a vital issue. Whilst the selfic technology
may indeed provide one level of connectivity to ensure the integrity of the
vessel, the nature of the harmony of the interaction between the people grouped
in the different halls becomes an important question. Clearly the complementary
symbolism associated with the different halls may well have been designed to
ensure a good mix of harmony through polyphony -- as a symbolic analogue to
harmony. It is intriguing to note that terracotta figurines, made as self-portaits
by each community member, are spread throughout the halls -- to symbolize the
presence of the community "crew" member, even when they are not in
Again The Gameplayers of Zan provides an interesting account of the
operation of their space-time vessel. They had to travel and navigate through
"hyperspace" of great complexity. Control was maintained by techniques
intimately related to game playing -- for which some community members had been
specially trained under a cloak of misdirection:
"Indeed do what? Play a distracting Game for three hundred years?"...."You
all have been carefully led to assume that the root klarh- was Earth
aspect, 'to play'. Hence, in turn, the Players....It is not Earth aspect:
it is Fire aspect, and that means...to fly! Not Players but Flyers...We are
not idle, privileged entertainers...we are the pilot-astrogators...There was
no other way to keep the skill and the knowledge alive, save in a public Game
that everyone could see and theink he knew" (p. 369)
An imaginative stimulus for such investigation is provided by a science fiction
scenario explored by a number of writers. It focuses on the challenge of comprehending
high degrees of complexity calling for decision-making under operational conditions
(as is the case in global management). The problem is that of piloting or navigating
a vessel through "hyperspace" or "sub-space", as imagined in the light of recent
advances in theoretical physics and mathematics. Because of the inherent complexity
of such environments, writers have explored the possibility that pilots and
navigators might choose appropriate metaphors through which to perceive and
order their task in relation to qualitative features of that complexity -- for
example, flying like a bird, windsurfing, swimming like a fish, tunneling like
a mole, etc. The mass of data imput derived from various arrays of sensors,
and otherwise completely unmanageable, is then channelled to the pilot in the
form of appropriate sensory inputs to the nerve synapses corresponding to s/his
"wings" or s/his "fins". Perception through the chosen metaphor is assisted
by artificial intelligence software and appropriate graphic displays. The pilot
switches between metaphors according to the nature of the hyperspace terrain.
Such speculations do at least stimulate imagination concerning a possible marriage
between metaphor and artificial intelligence in relation to governance.
Curiously the new "theory of everything" of physicist Stephen Wolfram
is recognized by Steven Cullinane as having its "poetic precursor"
in The Gameplayers of Zan [more].
He quotes part of the following description of their challenge in travelling
through hyperspace with their spaceship that could not be turned off:
The kind of space that the ship perceives, operates in, is to creatures such
as you and I, chaotic, meaningless, and dangerous, when perceived directly,
if we can at all. To confront it directly is destructive to the primate mind,
indeed the whole vertebrate nervous system.... Basic to the universe: that
its inmost reality cannot be perceived. A limit. So we interpose a
symbolizer, and that translates the view into something we can perceive, and
control...And we must control it, for like the sailing ship our Ship emulates,
it cannot exist uncontrolled, and there can be no automaton to do it for us.
It is flown manually, all the time; even to hold it in place relative
to our perceptual field. for at the level of reality we are operating at here,
to perceive is to manipulate...
...the symbolizer portrays a Game.... That is the Inner Game. and the Outer
Game we have played in public is a much simplified form of the kind of thing
we see in the Sensorium, which is a display screen and control system in one.
Not combined, it is both....certain configurations cannot be attained
in the Outer Game, since they would lead to flight, too...
And in two-dimensional display, we have the tesselations: triangular, quarangular,
pentagonal, hexagonal, octagonal....These symbolize the different kinds of
space we can use...space-three, space-four, space-fivce, space-six, and space-eight.
Each one has a different range and kind of thing it can perceive and control..
When one flies the Ship, one is actually playing a more difficult Game, in
which space itself plays the role of antagonist. (p. 370-1)
What we deal with in the Game no machine can handle, because what we do is
decide, and no machine can do that for us. and we use hunches to make
those guesses and decisions. We are using resources we do not entirely understand.
Cheating...That is what the real universe seems to do...We can manipulate
the microcosm and the macroscosm through the Game, but we cannot impose our
conceptuon of order upon it; we have to play its way. So there are degrees
of subtlety, and then further subtleties, and just when we think we've got
it fixed and secure for all time, it makes a change on us, sime little change,
some exception...We all know that this means we must learn more, but it feels
like cheating....So we had allowed the adversary Player team to cheat a little
in the Outer Game, to prepare us for those little shifts in the Inner, which
is not a Game at all, but basic life and death. (p. 387-8)
For those at Damanhur "contemporary physics cannot, as yet, conceive
of the kind of energies on which Selfica is based". Aspects of it derive
in part from the work of Wilhelm Reich's on orgone energies [more;
more] and that of De La Warr on mysterious
radiations that seem to act outside of time and space according to Carl Jung's
law of synchronicity. So problematic was Reich's work to mainstream science
that he was arrested for contempt of court and died in jail [more;
Those engaged in these experiments at Damanhur have developed confidence in
a time-travel technology through their knowledge of contemporary quantum physics,
the laws of relativity and space-time theory, and the results of an arduous
programme of research into the alchemical properties of metals and minerals,
not to mention the potentiality of the human spirit and will. The complementarity
of "objective" and "subjective" insight is vital to the
process of time travel. according to the Kindred Spirit account:
In Damanhur, on the one hand we have the School of Meditation, which is the
ritual, spiritual aspect, that gives us the fuel, the power of energy that
we need. And on the other hand we have the esoteric physics that explains
the same thing with different logic -- a logic more aligned to the rational.
But, of course, this more rational logic cannot progress without inner growth,
the intimate knowledge of the self, because all the answers are inside us.
So the study of the universe and the principles that regulate it cannot happen
without deep research inside ourselves. Otherwise it would remain just notions
that could not be translated into deep understanding. We believe that through
knowledge you can become conscious. Esoteric physics is just one way of getting
to the same end.
Subconscious preparation is required for the time traveller -- far beyond the
psyche sessions of sports or astronauts. The amount of information that must
be memorised, and all the techniques to be used to be able to get out and go,
are so great that they cannot be retrieved consciously. Long sessions
of hypnosis are however also necessary to instil into them the complicated information
needed to carry out the journeys successfully, as well as the receptivity they
would require for detailed recall of the environments in which they would find
The Damanhurians have developed two separate ways of travelling in time.
One involves the transmission of what they call the "subtle body"
of the traveller, which could be more accurately translated as the "essence"
or "spirit" of that person. The other involves full dematerialisation
and rematerialisation, of both subtle and physical body.
Journey: Again there is the challenge of understanding
what might be meant by journeying through time -- just as journeying through
space may have a variety of meanings, depending on whether the focus is on the
vehicle, any companions, the terrain, the direction, the speed or the duration.
Recalling the classic tale of the seven blind men touching different parts on
elephant, understandings of the animal may appear totally inconsistent and incompatible
-- especially when they understand unrelated languages.
There is also the paradoxical aspect that the journey may be more a question
of arriving "back" at one's point of departure experienced as being
more "now" (or less) than the when from which one departed. The much-quoted
verse of T S Eliot gives a sense of this.
"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know it for the first time."
T S Eliot, Little Gidding