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10 October 2016 | Draft

Speculation on Potential Symbolic Relevance of the Concordian Mandala


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Indicative symbols


This docusment is an annex to the presentation of a Concordian Mandala as a Symbolic Nexus: Insights from dynamics of a pentagonal configuration of nonagons in 3D (2016). That document was a development of an introductory argument (Con-quest Aesthetically Reframed via the Concordian Mandala, 2016) -- inspired by the social chaos purportedly addressed by the so-called Discordian Mandala.

Symbolism has a fundamental cognitive role, notably with respect to collective psychosocial organization as a catalyst to the imagination in enabling belief in subtlety of many kinds (The Book of Symbols: reflections on archetypal images, Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism, 2010; Hans Biedermann and James Hulbert, Dictionary of Symbolism: cultural icons and the meanings behind them, 1994; Albert Gallatin Mackey, The Symbolism of Freemasonry: illustrating and explaining its science and philosophy, its legends, myths and symbols, 2012; Alfred North Whitehead, Symbolism: its meaning and effect, 2014).

The potential symbolic relevance of the mandala (as presented in the main paper) above is indicated here in terms of distinctive articulations in the light of contrasting insights, perspectives and projections. All frame the challenge of comprehending insight of a higher order. The symbols indicated below are:

Endless knot
Masonic nonagonal icon
Nine-levelled temples
Wu Xing and Hygieia
Lord of the Rings

Of particular relevance to this argument is the extensive review which emerged from the Rodin Coil Project (Vortices, Portals and Dimensional Doorways: a study of the number nine in science, myth and mysticism, 1998). This offers many additional examples, most notably from mythology. However the origin of this review is itself illustrative of the deprecation by which many such examples are framed, from whatever belief system they originate. The point to be emphasized is that it is not the validity of such examples (according to some particular criteria) which is of relevance but rather the fact that some hold them to be credible -- irrespective of views to the contrary.

Indicative symbols

Omphalos: This pattern has been described through the Hindu symbolism of Indra's Net within which each embodied identity is a jewel at a node. It is echoed by the Greek symbol of the hollow, dome-shaped omphalos (depicted below), including one decorated in Celtic style. Originally associated with the navel of the world, the omphalos was not only an object of Hellenic religious symbolism and world centrality; it was also considered an object of power. Its symbolic references included the uterus, the phallus, and a cup of red wine representing royal blood lines. Such stones were erected in various parts of the Mediterranean region. One such is present at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Jerusalem).

Symbolic stones
Omphalos (Delphi) Turoe Stone (Ireland)
Omphalos (Delphi) Turoe Stone (Ireland)

Such stones have a symbolism, including the sense of axis mundi -- related to that of the lingam in Hindu belief where they continue to be the focus of rituals of anointing (The Omphalos and Baetyl Stone). Of relevance to this argument is the network by which that of Delphi is covered -- justifying its use in illustrating an early study of tensegrity. The omphalos figures in a critical review of modernism (Maud Ellmann, The Nets of Modernism: Henry James, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and Sigmund Freud, 2010).

Of further interest are the flower-like forms at the nodes. In the case of the Turoe stone these can be understood as whirling spirals charateristic of Celtic art. The tracery is reminiscent of that associated with the mandala above -- for which the aesthetic linkage at the non-touching cross-points is appropriately represented by flowers.

Nine-levelled temples: Although of unrelated religions, some temples are explicitly configured into 9 levels as illustrated below. The temple of Borobudur consists of 9 stacked platforms. Buddhism teaches that there are 9 levels of consciousness.

Nine-levelled temples
Buddhist temple Borobudur temple
(ground plan as mandala)
Mayan Tikal temple

Such traditional constructions, necessarily stacked in stone, raise the question as to how their implications might now be represented more appropriately in virtual reality -- unconstrained by technologies of the past.

Wu Xing and Hygiea: In highlighting the emergent pentagons, the mandala of nonagons can be further explored in terms of its use in two classical health patterns based on use of the pentagram in Western and Eastern cultures, as discussed previously (Memorable dynamics of living and dying: Hygeia and Wu Xing, 2014; Cycles of enstoning forming mnemonic pentagrams: Hygiea and Wu Xing, 2012):

Hugieia Pentagram of Pythagoreans
Chinese 5-phase Wu Xing cycle
Hugieia Pentagram of Pythagoreans Chinese 5-phase Wu Xing cycle
Reproduced from Hygiea entry in Wikipedia
(G. J. Allman Greek Geometry From Thales to Euclid, 1889, p.26) with labels added
Adapted from Wu Xing entry in Wikipedia
Interaction arrows:
black=generating; white= overcoming

Endless knot

/ weaving / Celtic -- maths -- image?

Enneagram: The following is included from a separate discussion (Imagining the nature of cognitive "flight" in terms of the enneagram, 2014)

Further insight is also to be derived from Stafford Beer's recognition of the association between the enneagram and the icosahedron, which he describes as emerging from collaboration with Joseph Truss -- in a chapter on The Dynamics of Icosahedral Space (Beyond Dispute, 1994, pp. 196-209). For Beer:

But it is a matter of great interest that in the whole of the literature... the enneagram occurs as a plane figure. Nowhere had there been the slightest hint that a three-dimensional manifestation existed... No wonder the search took so long, given that the diagram was discovered spread across four vertical planes... The icosahedron is the actual origin of the enneagram... (p. 206)

Various efforts have been made to depict the enneagram in 3D -- readily available on You Tube (Francisco Meana, Enneagram from 3d perspective, 2007; Francisco Meana, Sufi Enneagram, 2009; Chuck Middaugh, 3D Enneagram MOD 9, 2013), The degree of relationship to the icosahedron is not especially evident.

Beer provided no depiction, but this is offered in subsequent documents (J. Truss, et al, The Coherent Architecture of Team Syntegrity: from small to mega forms, 2003; J. Baldwin, BuckyWorks: Buckminster Fuller's Ideas for Today, 1996, p. 220). The Beer/Truss argument is also discussed by Andrew Pickering (The Cybernetic Brain: sketches of another future, 2010). Since those promoting syntegrity are especially sensitive to copyright issues, a different depiction is offered in the following generated with virtual reality software..

9-fold enneagram embedded within an icosahedron
with addition of an indicative central sphere
(constructed by manual modification of a virtual reality model of
the icosahedron generated by Stella Polyhedron Navigator software)

View of enneagram associated with only
one pattern of vertices of icosahedron
(view in 3D with virtual reality plugin)
View of enneagram from left image
with the icosahedron framework hidden
(view in 3D with virtual reality plugin)
View of enneagram associated with one pattern of vertices of icosahedron View of enneagram associated with  icosahedron framework hidden
Note the colour coding and positioning of the icosahedral vertices -- which offer guidance when rotating the above models in virtual reality in order to render visible the enneagram pattern. Green-Magenta links of the enneagram are the only links embodied within icosahedral edges (on the left), where they are invisible. Three of the 12 vertices, positioned on the vertical axis (of the image on the right), do not form part of the 9-fold enneagram pattern (Red, Cyan and Black). The various possibilities for rotating the models in three dimensions affect the proportions of the enneagram as portrayed and the relative visibility of the Cyan and Black vertices.

Rotation of the above icosahedral images offers insights into the complex relationship between the elements of the enneagram. Of particular interest is any sense in which the Green vertices are to be considered as generative polarities of relevance to the more general argument here. The added central sphere offers a sense of the locus of the controller of the cognitive vehicle in relation to the dynamic suggested by the significance commonly associated with the lines of the enneagram. (see Susan Rhodes, Ennagram Overview, Enneagram Dimensions)

As remarked by Beer with respect to detection of the enneagram "hanging" within the icosahedron:

Consider: if it can be detected when the icosahedron stands on one vertex, it must be detectable when the model stands on any vertex. Moreover, if it is present when these two poles are aligned, it must be present when any two poles are aligned. Thus it comes about that points 4 and 5 on the enneagram refer to any side [meaning edge] of the icosahedron -- which therefore enfolds 30 three-dimensional, four planar, enneagrams... The icosahedral model conceived as a spinning sphere could be regarded as "an interpenetration of phi-ness"... an interpenetration of three-dimensional four-planar enneagrams... (p. 206-207).

Lord of the Rings: Given its current role in the cultivation of popular imagination and modern myth-making, it is appropriate to note in this context that the global interlocking of the nonagons in the mandala above is usefully consistent with considerations of quantum entanglement, whether with respect to the subtlety of human values or the complexity of so-called wicked problems.

The challenge to comprehension necessarily calls on an aesthetic dimension, even one of mythopoeic nature, as envisaged by J. R. R. Tolkien as author of the epic tale The Lord of the Rings (1954). This has proven to be of exceptional global appeal, as discussed separately (Relevance of Mythopoeic Insights to Global Challenges, 2009).

Comprehension of the configuration of the Concordian Mandala could then be allusively compared to that tale -- described as governed by a complex "metric", with the scenario classically synthesized in poetic form:

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

Nonagonal symbol of the penultimate degree of Freemasonry: The so-called Camp symbol of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry is a nonagon enclosing a heptagon, within whose lines is a pentagon which encloses a triangle in the center of which is a circle. This is curiously reminiscent of the pattern of circumscription of regular polygons as depicted above. Within Freemasonry these are associated with divine attributes and masonic principles. In the case of the pentagon, each angle represents a division of the Scottish Rite Army.

Variant images of the Camp symbol of Freemsonry
Camp symbol of Freemsonry Camp symbol of Freemsonry
A number of images of the symbol are presented by Eric Ginette
(The Long Journey of the Masonic Camp, The Northern Light, August 2015).

On the sides of the nonagon are nine tents with a flag, pennon, and letter to each. Each tent represents an entire camp, and the several sides of the nonagon are thus assigned in terms of the rituals to the Masons of the several degrees from the 1st to the 18th (see Degree structure; and also).

Significance of the declassified Camp symbol for Freemasonry

Until recently considered the most important part of the symbolism of the 32nd degree of Fremasonry, the symbol is also called the tracingboard. According to Albert G. Mackey (Encyclopedia Of Freemasonry, 2013):

This is a symbol of deep import, and in its true interpretation is found that "Royal Secret" from which the Degree derives its name. This Camp constitutes an essential part of the furniture of a Consistory during an initiation, but its explanations are altogether esoteric It is a singular fact, that notwithstanding the changes which the Degree must have undergone in being transferred from the Twenty-fifth of one Rite to the Thirty-second of another, no alteration was ever made in the Camp, which retains at the present day the same form and Signification that were originally given to it.

This symbol of the 32nd degree of the Scottish Rite is considered to be the most complex, as noted by Jason Mitchell (The Symbolic Camp). Similarly, as described by Robert H. Johnson, the many other symbols pale in complexity to what is said to be the most intricate symbol in Freemasonry (The Camp Part One: an introduction; The Camp Part Two: the nonagon and tents, The Midnight Freemasons, 2014, June).

Of historical relevance (with strategic echoes to the present day), the 32nd degree is described in a document of the University of Bradford:

The degree was originally a Christian degree of knighthood; its object was, for a long time, to reconquer the Holy Land and plant the Banner of the Cross once more on the ruined walls of Jerusalem. Many of the Knights of the Crusades were Masons, and thus became acquainted with the legend which Masonry had preserved.... (Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret: the Thirty-Second Grade of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, and the Third Degree of the Chivalric Series, 2005)

As a "strategically-placed, geometric shape within the Scottish Rite camp", some clarification of the encrypted meaning of the nonagon is offered by Samuel Pierre-Louis and Robert Henderson:

Enigmatic and fascinating, the nonagon appears to be deliberately drawn on the outskirts of the camp to enlighten those who study its beauty of the importance of military positioning and combat preparedness. Moreover, as we journey counterclockwise around the nonagon, applicable lessons regarding morality and philosophy and camp commanders shall be provided so that the reader may ascertain and appreciate the significance of its placement and methods by which its embedded wisdom may be employed. (The Scottish Rite Camp (Part 1): the military might of the nonagon, Phylaxis Magazine (The Phylaaxis Society: Prince Hall Masons), 2016)

In bringing together the preceding masonic degrees in an "encampment" of masonic knights, the role of this symbol, from its introduction to its alleged demise, is usefully documented by Eric Ginette (The Long Journey of the Masonic Camp, The Northern Light, August 2015). Specifically he notes:

From the above account, it would appear that the Camp symbol has only recently been "declassified". There is however a danger to neglecting the continuing significance of the symbol, given the secretive proclivities of Freemasonry -- and despite its more obvious manifestations. Any seemingly transparent account -- presented ever more simplistically for wider comprehension -- may obscure contemporary adapations of the strategic thinking it represents. It could even be argued that any coherent view is virtually impossible, given the number of (quarrelling) jurisdictions into which Freemasonry is seemingly divided -- despite the emphasis on fraternity.

The active hostility between Freemasonry and the Catholic Church remains a major factor in some domains -- despite the claims of both to upholding and promoting Christian belief. With respect to the focus of both on knighthood, the ceremonial dimension continues to be curiously shared -- matched as it is by the Orders, decorations, and medals of the Holy See, upheld as of the greatest importance by some (see Christian Orders of Knighthood; Alessandra Malesci Baccani, The Knights of The Holy See). As a metaphor cultivated by both, the military implications of knighthood merit challenge as being "unfit for purpose". Whilst such thinking is implicit in secretive Freemasonry, it has long been explicit in the Christian Church through notions of the Church Militant and its questionable complements (Churches Militant, Penitent, and Triumphant).

Questions raised by the honorific involvement of the most eminent remain unresolved (exemplified by the case of Tony Blair) -- with the implication of influence peddling of ever higher degree with the associated rewards. As with the deprecated diploma mills and "degree factories" of academia, analogues are widely noted with respect to the acquisition of honours -- for a price, typically undeclared.

The importance attached to a "camp" perspective is of potential relevance to the argument here with respect to the transition from a planar (2-dimensional) to a global (3-dimensional) perspective. Etymologically, through "campaign", the term derives from level countryside and its association with the traditional operation of an army in a field (in summer, following restriction to winter quarters). This 2D significance has now been extended to encompass political campaigns and advertising campaigns, whether before an election or otherwise. Curiously the term has also been extended to encompass the sense of a university "campus" -- presumably consistent with the academic focus on degrees.

Are each of these to be considered as entrapped in a planar world view characterized by simplistic assumptions regarding the nature of a level playing field within a global civilization? Are they curiously reminiscent of those continuing to believe in a Flat Earth (Andy Campbell, Flat Earth Theory Is Still A Thing, The Huffington Post, 22 January 2016; Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat, 2005), as discussed separately (Irresponsible Dependence on a Flat Earth Mentality -- in response to global governance challenges, 2008)? Again there is the question of whether the truth "lies in plane sight".

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