Nowadays, the name of Thomas Charles Lethbridge (1901-1971) might raise a curious glace from a member of the British intelligentsia. Who was this enigmatic man? Educated at Cambridge University, Lethbridge took a degree in archaeology and laboured under the wing of Louis Clarke, the then curator of the Cambridge Archaeological Museum. For a while he remained contented with an exalted position of keeper of Anglo-Saxon antiquities at the museum, but being of the imaginative and curious disposition that he was, the job failed to satisfy his thirst for mysteries and Indiana Jones-style investigative adventures. Moreover, Lethbridge conceived that objective scientific truth was not confined to the “academic trade-unionism” that pervaded the archaeological discipline of the times, a sweeping misrepresentation which his subsequent controversial digressions sought to remedy. Sadly, it was a cosmological shift for which he would pay dearly. Most individuals intimately acquainted with the works he authored between 1961 and 1971 would agree that his absence from the annals of archaeological history has more to do with the radical eccentricity predominant at the heart of his personality and his contempt of conventional methodology rather than any flaws perforating his professionalism and empirical preferences.
Infuriated by the dogmatic procedures and outlooks of the conventional archaeological community, Lethbridge cut ties with Cambridge University in 1957 and moved into Hole House, near the agronomic village of Branscombe in Devon. There, Lethbridge made the acquaintance of a witch learned in the occult disciplines who taught him how to dowse with a pendulum. Lethbridge was an intensely curious fellow, liable to notice minute coffee stains on black sweatshirts or slight hitches in the kinaesthetic motion of an individual ailed by physical injury. His eyes were attuned to the subtle, made for it even. This is how he first came to notice a curious phenomenon manifested by a swinging pendulum. By holding a ball attached to a lengthy cord over a particular substance or element and winding it upwards or downwards with the assistance of a pencil, Lethbridge found that the unrelenting oscillation exhibited by the mechanism would morph into a gyration at a particular length. The length at which the gyration had commenced signified the individual rate for the substance or element in question. For instance when held over a green apple, the pendulum would swing back and forth until the cord around the pencil was unwound to eighteen inches, at which it would morph into an obvious rotation. Hence eighteen was the rate for an apple.
Lethbridge was able to obtain precise measurements by measuring the distance between the bottom of the winding mechanism, in this case the pencil, and the top of the pendulum. He claimed that whilst tabulated rates varied from person to person, the numbers obtained would stay constant for any one individual no matter how many times the experiments were repeated. If the system of rates could be exposed by Lethbridge as a faithful adherent of experiential laws, then there was no reason why investigators should not pry further in search of an underlying singularity, a phenomenon or force hitherto unacknowledged by orthodox science.
Subsequent experiments revealed deeper layers to this multifaceted riddle; the metals–lead, tin, copper, iron, silver, and gold–all reacted to a specific rate whilst compounds initiated gyrations for each elementary constituent. Testing everything and anything that he could get his hands on, Lethbridge came to realize that various substances or elements deemed intrinsically dissimilar by physical and chemical science were quantitatively grouped under the same rate, with their qualitative differences discriminated through the number of rotations. For example the metals lead and silver, the colour grey, and the elements calcium and sodium (salt) all shared the twenty-two inch rate; the pendulum qualitative differentiated between each one through sixteen, twenty-two, seven, thirty, and thirty-six rotations, respectively. Note that the metal silver is characterized by a length-rotational uniformity that makes it the most comprehensive, supernal, and unfettered expression of that rate.
In any case an esoteric world equipped with sympathetic correspondences between substances and concepts unfolded like a coloured ball of wool before the inspired Lethbridge. As outrageous as it sounds, he discovered that rates could also be consigned to mental images and cogitations. Safety occupied the seven inch position, truth and youth the ten inch position, regression was at sixteen, love sat at twenty, thought and memory at twenty-seven, danger at twenty-nine, the process of ageing at thirty, evolution at thirty-six, and sleep and death at forty. No doubt the act of charting the results would have been akin to the genuine excitement of a young child completely ensconced in one of those connect-the-dot puzzles. Anticipating what mathematical, geometrical, or conceptual symmetry might manifest to perception would have fuelled Lethbridge with the impetus to continue.
Indeed, it was a Herculean labour for which he would be handsomely rewarded in the end. There were many discoveries, with each subsequent one authenticating the cosmological premises illuminated by the one beforehand. Everything that existed–substances, compounds, and all possible conceptualizations of human mentation–sat on a table of rates extending between zero and forty which could be further subdivided into a quaternary that bore a striking resemblance to the Empodoclean elements of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. If we had to assign territorial dominion to each one we could say that one to ten is the province of Fire, ten to twenty the province of Earth, twenty to thirty the province of Water, and thirty to forty the province of Air. Also worth mentioning here is that the four round numbers ten, twenty, thirty, and forty appear to be principle pillars in the creative process, offering the foundations from which basic concepts intrinsic to consciousness seem to originate.
Under the rulership of Fire falls the chemical element phosphorus with a five and a half inch rate, the chemical element sulphur at seven inches, the colour purple and the notion of safety at nine inches, and the mineral graphite at ten inches. The latter is a significant rate, for subsisting here is a propitious gamut of substances and qualities that initially appear unrelated: visible light, the sun, the element of physical fire, the colour red, the cardinal direction of east, the concept of truth, and the condition of youth. For an esotericist, the qualitative, fundamental connection between these is self-explanatory. Light, the simplest expression of cosmic sentience breeds fire, the active mover behind elemental rotation in nature. Comprised of fire and emanating light is the sun, the nearest star to planet Earth. It always rises anew from the eastern horizon, diffusing a band of auric colours across the sky that illuminates the landscapes below. One of these, perhaps the most vibrant and emotive, is red. There is no place to run or hide from the light; it discloses, exposes, and expresses its subject without any hindrance. Therefore it is the most objective measure of truth. When properly revealed, truth echoes into eternity. Nothing can invert, subvert, or distort its concrete trajectory. Lying outside the spatiotemporal condition of processes and change, it remains eternally youthful. The abovementioned qualitative linkages go far in explaining why mythological and religious traditions around the world have always portrayed the sun as an authoritative and vibrant young man with piercing blue eyes and swirling locks of golden hair.
Exultant over substances and qualities to be found between the ten to twenty inch rates is the ethereal element of Earth. The element carbon, the colour orange, and the condition of disease all share a rate of twelve inches; grass and scarab beetles both stand on the sixteen inch rate; silica sand, natural glass, and flint share the fourteen inch rate; and apples, as previously mentioned, react to the eighteen inch rate. Directly below the latter is the twenty-inch rate which contains another large accumulation of fundamental concepts: the flow of electric charges responsible for electricity and magnetism, the transference of energy by thermal interactions otherwise known as heat, the earth, the colour white, the cardinal direction of south, and the sympathetic quality of love. This seems to be the cosmological totem for the intangible force responsible for the nascent evolution of organic life. For starters electricity and magnetism are inherently related; they’re alternate expressions of the same electromagnetic force. Any oscillation of charged particles within matter caused by electromagnetic radiation is capable of transmuting into thermal energy and creating heat. In the natural world, the electromagnetic principle is responsible for the congealing of physical laws that define all intermolecular interactions along with any respective chemical reactions within formed matter. Transposed to the biological level, we see that the chemical interactions enabled by electromagnetic phenomena gave birth to chemoautotrophs and prokaryotes somewhere in the hydrothermal vents of the world’s subterranean sludge piles and rusty oceans during the Hadean Eon (3900-2500 million years ago). Once the requisite conditions for the development of complex life were secured, the higher, self-motivated process of evolution took over and spawned an intricate web of biological diversity.
Esoterically, this progression from elementary chaos to more systematized orders of physical, chemical, and biological functioning can be equated with the conferral of form to hyle, the prima materia, or the moulding of the corporeal from the spiritual. The immaculate Eros-glue of love sympathetically binds these evolutionary processes and cycles of the earthly plane together by confining them to the sphere of three dimensions, and the loveliest light streaming from the sun in our solar system provides the life forms subjected to them with the possibility of fulfilling the Aristotelian nisus for which they were created. Lest we forget that the apple belongs to this sphere, a fruit used by the mythological lore of the Greeks and Hebrews to express ensnarement by the bonds of the natural world and the birth of the conscious ego with its complexes. By scrying the qualitative connections made thus far, we see that the twenty-inch pillar is all to do with the transliteration of subtle paraphysical forces into condensed matter. Notwithstanding its underlying nature and purpose one thing is certain; the vital life force integral to the formation of a conscious material universe has been defined by all the substances and qualities on the twenty-inch rate.
Directly below Earth is the province of Water, which includes the rates for the gemstone diamond and the masculine principle at twenty-four; alcohol at twenty-five and a half; the element oxygen and running water at twenty-six and a half; thought and memory at twenty-nine; the metal gold, the feminine principle, the colour yellow, and the concept of danger at twenty-nine; and the metal copper at twenty-nine and a half. The thirty inch rate, deemed pivotal because of its qualitative grouping of many basic concepts, brings together such disparately related substances and qualities as the element hydrogen, the physical sense of sound, the lunar sphere, the chemical compound water, the colour green, the cardinal direction of west, and the concept of age. This, without a doubt, is the totemic pillar of the Great Mother Goddess, a universal force imbued with a wholly feminine spirit that arbitrates over the temporal cycles of birth, death, and regeneration.
Two abundant elements on the earth are the chemical elements hydrogen and oxygen, which combine to form a compound with two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom called water. Without it life on earth, in the womb, and wherever else would never have taken root. Beginning as minute droplets from the condensation of atmospheric vapours, the latter falls to the earth where it is drawn up by the green-coloured dwarfs and leviathans of the plant kingdom for the purposes of maturation and for the production of seeded fruits and flowers that will bear the progeny of subsequent generations. When it is not utilized by organic systems, it simply collects into streams, rivers, lakes, and seas. These bodies eventually pour themselves into much larger saline bodies with ebbing tides controlled by the moon called oceans. What is more, water reflects shadowy intonations of colourful picture-images and encompasses a molecular memory, mimicking the mercurial film of interlinking thought and memory in the human mind which stores the past in the geological strata of the personal unconscious. All natural processes of this kind unfold in time, connoting that everything subject to their influence will feel the incursion of aging. If youth is conceptualized cardinally as the east, then by analogy age must assume its exact opposite as the west.
The fourth section mediates rates between thirty to forty inches and can be perceived as belonging to the ethereal element of Air. Under the rulership of the latter is iron at thirty-two inches, cypress trees at thirty-four inches, the concept of evolution at thirty-six inches, and the tomato plant at thirty-eight inches. The last significant pillar is that of forty inches which qualitatively reconciles low temperatures perceived as cold, atmospheric air, the colour black, the cardinal direction of north, the notion of falsehood, and the recurring absence of consciousness known as sleep. Whatever else it might be, this cosmological totem is characterized by coagulating density and severely limited consciousness. Looking at the table of rates as a whole, Air seems to be the conceptual inverse of Fire; if the latter descries subtle connections between the differing aspects of movement and innovation in the universe, then the former must connect qualitative aspects of receptivity and torpor. In truth what is darkness but an absence of light, fire, and life? The dominion of darkness breeds coldness, blackness, and somnolence. Somnolence is the preface to sleep, and sleep is a temporary stifling of one’s self-awareness equatable with the more permanent one suffered at death. Displacement of life force or the permanent cessation of consciousness stands at forty inches then. Any states of being whose primary features or potentialities cannot be illuminated or expressed in an unfettered manner due to limitations or the complete absence of light manifest as illusions and are thus false. The interconnectivity of substances and qualities co-habiting the forty-inch rate is probably the easiest of all to comprehend. The only ones that appear to be a little incongruous are physical air and the cardinal directions of south and north. Perhaps there’s a latent connection previously undetected by human beings–this is what the pendulum seems to be suggesting!
Those with an in-depth knowledge of Western esotericism would quickly realise that the elementary arrangement does not conform to the traditional format of finest to coarsest (Fire, Air, Water, and Earth) but are instead organized with the two passive poles (Earth, Water) sandwiched between the two active ones (Fire, Air). It can also be noted that the four main cosmological totems which comprise so many rudimentary substances and qualities can be chronologically reconciled with the colour stages of the alchemical opus–nigredo (black), cauda pavonis (green), albedo (white), and rubedo (red). Could a subtle phenomenon such as this, one that was incidentally discovered entirely by chance, be the same one alluded to by the alchemists in their convoluted writings? On Lethbridge’s table of rates purple is just above red and both colours were heralded by the alchemists as culminating markers of the ultima materia or Philosopher’s Stone.
Another curious feature is that opposites are distanced proportionally from one another: safety and danger are at nine and twenty-nine inches, white and black are at twenty and forty inches, devolution or regression are at sixteen and evolution at thirty-six inches, and red and green are at ten and thirty inches. Remarkably, the base substance carbon sits on twelve inches and diamond, its ultima materia, is on double figures (twenty-four). The feminine principle and gold are on the same twenty-nine inch rate, which shouldn’t really surprise anyone–the feminine is gold! There is no rate for time, presumably because we’re weaving our way through it. If there is in iota of objective truth to these rates then there’s some unknown force at work here. It’s much too implausible to believe that something so systematic and arithmetically harmonious could have come about entirely by chance. Or could it?
The most interesting and possibly the most important of Lethbridge’s discoveries was to come afterwards when he decided that a more graphic representation of the tabulated results might surrender more of the missing pieces to this cosmic riddle. He arranged the entire gamut of pendulum rates onto a compass rose divided into forty equal portions, measured the distance between the centre and periphery of the circle for each one, and finally charted the progression of these respective distances around the circumference of the circle. Perusing the graph, Lethbridge realized that the particular arrangement of points formed the embryonic lip of an Archimedean spiral. The latter, as most would know, is a curve bound by a specific set of mathematical laws characteristic of many life forms and created matter. Spirals are a fundamental benchmark of the creative process; they define the imminent evolution of rings around trees, the hard shells that develop to protect molluscs like marine Nautiluses and terrestrial garden snails, and a plethora of other momentous phenomena as structurally minute as the double helices of nucleic acids like DNA and as colossal as disc-shaped galaxies like Andromeda and our very own Milky Way. As a rule of thumb, spirals shift from their axis of origination and go on developing through ascension or lateral projection. Their direction is mediated by orientation within the three-dimensional plane and they never, ever come to an abrupt stop. Nothing devised by the perfective cosmic animal termed Nature ever does really!
This mathematical certainty was an outright negation of Lethbridge’s original premise positing that forty, the rate for death, was the final straw and that there was nothing to be found in the ethereal space beyond that. The incomplete spiral pattern suggested continuation rather than complete cessation; perhaps something occurred at forty that didn’t eradicate the creative model from objective reality but merely displaced it from its three-dimensional foundations. This compelled him to look further, beyond the material dominions mapped out along the first whorl of the spiral. If the pendulum was operating from a transcendent dimension outside our known spatiotemporal parameters, then it should also be able to detect fields of energy originating from substances and qualities that abound there. Postulating that anything on a subsequent whorl would probably react to rates between forty and eighty, he added an extra forty inches to his original numbers and tested them again. All the reactions were still there, albeit in weaker form. Just like in the first whorl, the concepts of light, fire, and red could be found at fifty (ten plus forty), apples at fifty-eight (eighteen plus forty), diamonds and the masculine principle at sixty-four (twenty-four plus forty), thought and memory at sixty-seven (twenty-seven plus forty), iron at seventy-two (thirty-two plus forty), and black and falsehood at eighty (forty plus forty).
The pendulum seemed to be suggesting that everything on this second level of reality was a pale echo of the first. There were some notable exceptions though. Time, a conception strikingly absent on the first whorl of the spiral, was embodied by a sixty-inch (twenty plus forty) rate on the second, incidentally the same cosmological totem from whence the vital force responsible for organic life springs. Something far more stimulating is that death was undetectable and thus non-existent on the second whorl. As bizarre as it sounds, these theoretical suppositions suddenly make plausible the belief that a disembodied entity or ego-conscious operating in that realm would be able to manoeuvre about, function, create from within itself, and put plans into action in no time at all. Its mode of being might resemble that elusive lucid state attainable in dreams where one’s conscious willpower can coagulate people and places from a primordial swamp of eternal feasibilities in the blink of an eye. By the same token, if some part of the human mind tentatively dubbed the superconscious can move forwards and backwards in time and tap into past or future-life memories or obtain information not directly accessible to the neural mechanisms of the neocortex, then it must be a lot more than just a brain function. The latter is chained to three-dimensional reality and to the physical world, whereas consciousness operates through neocortical mediums to gather experience of and information about denser forms of matter but can sublimate to a fourth or fifth dimension indefinitely. Lethbridge’s unearthing of second and third whorls to the Archimedean spiral seem to justify this nonconventional paradigm.
In hindsight, Lethbridge’s discovery points to the fact that everything under the stars has a rate or an occult ‘signature’, if we were to use Paracelsian terminology. This individual ‘signature’ encompasses an objective existence and exists independently of the consciousness attempting to fathom it. It also appears that the former is intimately bound up with a force field that eludes the conventional mechanisms of quantitative analysis. When the fields or radars of subtle energy emanating from our own thought forms are projected out into the phenomenal world and collide with the force field of the ‘signature’ of the substance or cogitation in question, the neutralization of forces ensues. These are embodied by the gyratory reaction of the pendulum, in effect tangible proof that the subtle oscillating energies channelled by your own nervous system have met an impediment which has forced them into an inverted motion.
Any progressive individual making observations of this sort is bound to conclude that there’s more to the interactive field than meets the eye. Could those subtle areas contain the peripheral appendages of a superconscious mind? It also leads us into other conundrums of cosmology; is this superconscious mind something intrinsic to our own being, a higher Self as Jung himself might have advanced that facilitates shared experience, synchronicities, racial memories and the like, or is it a providential aspect of a much grander creative intelligence that we have yet to grasp? Is there a part of our minds that can obtain knowledge of unconscious territory, or are we merely semi-hypnotised automata oblivious of the grander force that controls us in the manner that a collection of cells comprising one organ of the human body don’t really understand the dynamic synergy for which they were created and the latter’s place in the wider scheme of things?
Perhaps we’ll know in time…