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John Michell - The View over Atlantic – The sacred geography of China

Identifier

026581

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

A description of the experience

 

The View over Atlantic – John Michell

In China until recently, as long ago in Britain, every building, every stone and wood, was placed in the landscape in accordance with a magic system by which the laws of mathematics and music were expressed in the geometry of the earth's surface. The striking beauty and harmony of every part of China, which all travellers have remarked, was not produced by chance. Every feature was contrived. The main paths of planetary influence, determined by thousands of years of astronomy, were discovered in the landscape, the smaller lines that ran between them reproduced in the crags and fissures of the earth. These were the lines of dragon current or lung-mei. The various parts of the earth each fell under a particular planetary influence passed down through the lines which ran above them. Besides their lunar or solar, yin or yang, characteristics, certain lines were related to one of the five planets, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury or Saturn. These planets correspond to the five materials, wood, fire, metal, water and earth…………………………

The lines of the currents streaming over the surface of the earth were traced out in the Chinese landscape. The direction and strength of their flow was measured and even modified for human convenience. A line was extended by removing some block in its course. Another, whose current was too powerful and violent, was weakened by breaks in the alignment. The eaves of a Chinese house were always set at a different height to those of its neighbours; if they were level, the long straight line might form a dangerously powerful conductor. Straight lines drain the beneficial influences from a quiet, secluded site; they introduce tempestuous forces into areas of peace. The lines of the dragon current run straight across country, but locally their course should be modified by a series of gentle curves. By this means the violence of their flow can be abated and their currents diverted into smaller channels to irrigate the surrounding countryside. The scenes in which geomancers delight are those where the full range of nature can be seen in microcosm, where great hills, mountains, rivers and oceans are reflected in small rock clusters, green hillocks, streams and pools, a vast landscape reduced to the scale of a garden. At such a place the nature and meaning of the surrounding country can be divined at a glance; the terrestrial harmony becomes apparent.

The source of the experience

Taoism

Concepts, symbols and science items

Concepts

Symbols

Science Items

Sacred geography
Sacred geography - altars
Sacred geography - ancient trees
Sacred geography - artificial hills
Sacred geography - barrows
Sacred geography - beacons
Sacred geography - blind springs
Sacred geography - bridges
Sacred geography - castle
Sacred geography - citadel
Sacred geography - cities
Sacred geography - cliffs
Sacred geography - crack or crevice
Sacred geography - cross
Sacred geography - crossroads
Sacred geography - cursus
Sacred geography - enclosures and camps
Sacred geography - gardens
Sacred geography - henges
Sacred geography - hollow roads
Sacred geography - initial sites
Sacred geography - islands
Sacred geography - isthmus
Sacred geography - labyrinths
Sacred geography - ley lines
Sacred geography - lighthouses
Sacred geography - mapping the spiritual onto the physical
Sacred geography - mark stones
Sacred geography - mountain
Sacred geography - natural hills
Sacred geography - obelisk
Sacred geography - palace
Sacred geography - physical caves
Sacred geography - pole
Sacred geography - pyramid
Sacred geography - rivers and streams
Sacred geography - sacred grove
Sacred geography - the muddying of the maps
Sacred geography - underground secret passages
Sacred geography - volcanoes
Sacred geography - water sites

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Commonsteps

References