At the Center of the World: Polar Symbolism Discovered in Celtic, Norse and Other Ritualized Landscapes

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The powers of ancient rulers emanated from the ritual center of the tribal territory. This center was also regarded as the birthplace of the tribe and belonged to the people as a whole. Installed upon this sacred rock (the omphalos or "navel of the world"), at the polar axis around which all revolved, the king could survey his realm, ordered from the center according to the divisions of the cosmos itself, reflecting the harmony and balance of paradise. Akhenaten's city in Egypt, Megalopolis of Ancient Greece, the...
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Overview

The powers of ancient rulers emanated from the ritual center of the tribal territory. This center was also regarded as the birthplace of the tribe and belonged to the people as a whole. Installed upon this sacred rock (the omphalos or "navel of the world"), at the polar axis around which all revolved, the king could survey his realm, ordered from the center according to the divisions of the cosmos itself, reflecting the harmony and balance of paradise. Akhenaten's city in Egypt, Megalopolis of Ancient Greece, the world-centers of Roman Gaul and Celtic Cornwall, all provide clues to lead John Michell to the geographical and sacred criteria for locating a center. From studies of symbolic geography, particularly that of Celtic and Norse territories, he has discovered the leading principle for the siting of the "Thing" places, the main centers of religious and state ritual in Shetland, Orkney, the Faroe Islands and the Isle of Man. He considers the possible locations of the most hallowed centers of ancient Druidry and of the High Kings of Ireland. Finally, the esoteric foundation plan for these ancient societies is disclosed: the sacred geometry, the symbolic numbers. Symbols of the center are among the most persistent elements of myth and belief between cultures widely separated in time and space. Now John Michell traces their genesis, and suggests that their reflection of the ideal Platonic order of the universe can be relevant to the modern world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500016077
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 7/25/1994
  • Pages: 184

Table of Contents

I Finding the Centre 7
Sitting Around the Fire 7
The Infinity of Centres 10
Contemplating the Navel of the Earth 12
The Central Point of Paradise 17
Surveyors and Geomancers 21
Open-Air Government 23
Modern Centres: America, Australia 29
Principles of Symbolic Centrography 34
Ancient Egypt and Greece 35
Mediolanum, the Centre of Gaul 40
2 The Northern Isles 43
Picts and Vikings 43
The Shetland Al-Thing 46
Why Did They Meet in the Loch? 50
The Shetland Thing Circuit 52
The Pole of Orkney 57
The Thing on Loch Finlaggan 60
Islay's Tingwall 66
3 Why the Alting met at Torshavn 69
Things of Faroe 69
The Rock of Tinganes 71
The Island Things 75
Iceland's Ideal Commonwealth 77
4 The Centre of the Isle of Man 85
The Manx Tynwald 85
Dividing Up the Island 91
Locating the Centre of Man 96
Approaching the Centre: The Royal Road and the Milky Way 99
The Sanctuary of the Celtic High King 102
Inside the Royal Precinct 109
5 A Diversion to the Centre of England 113
Calculations on the Geographical Centre 113
England's Natural Axis 114
Meriden 116
The Centre of Roman Britain 119
Rival Centres 122
A Cornish Centre in West Penwith 125
6 The Centre of Ireland 129
Myths of Foundation 129
Kings and Constitution 132
Cosmological Divisions 135
Traditions of the Centre 140
The Domain of the High King 150
The Geographical Centre and the Division of the Provinces 154
The Once and Future High King: A Helpful Suggestion 162
7 The Cosmological Prototype 165
Bibliography 177
Sources of Illustrations 180
Index 182
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