The curious alignments on Planet Earth: An introduction to sacred geometry

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By John F. Sase, Ph.D.

Gerard J. Senick, general editor
Julie G. Sase, copyeditor/researcher
William A. Gross, researcher

"All matter must be in a constant state of flux to ensure progress, for what was wrong yesterday might be right tomorrow."

-Henriette Mertz, U.S. Military code-breaker, World War II; U.S. Patent Attorney, Chicago, Illinois; and author of "The Mystic Symbol: Mark of the Michigan Mound Builders" (1986, Hayriver Press, 2004)

Our Journey Begins

Looking out of my kitchen window, I (Dr. Sase) saw two trees that have lived in my backyard for many years. These trees flank a cement-pedestal birdbath that I placed there a quarter of a century ago. In deciding where to put this birdbath, I measured the distance between the two trees and used that length to form an equilateral triangle. The trees secured two corners of this triangle, while the birdbath marked the third point. In effect, I took a phenomenon of nature-and the effort of a previous property owner-and combined them with a location of my own preference by using basic elements of ancient geometry to complete a simple relationship between human thought and the divine nature of triangles (e.g. the Trinity).

In our modern world, urban and regional site-selection, planning, design, and construction of edifices may not appear to reflect a divine process. However, in the ancient through medieval worlds, the divine often inspired such practical plans and actions in a way that conjoined with mystical aspects of ancient religions. The layout of a specific camp, village, or city often reflected the direction that an edifice faced at the time and place that the sun shined through a main entranceway or portal. The placement of ceremonial altars, fountains, and other edifices held great significance for the humans involved in the process. Herein lays the essence of the subject of this month's column, Sacred Geometry. A subset of General Geometry, Sacred Geometry is a metaphysical study of the nature and movement of the universe. Ancient and not-so ancient cultures-including those in Michigan and other parts of the Midwest-used this Geometry continuously in the design of sacred art and architecture. While producing aesthetics pleasing to the eye, Sacred Geometry also produced perfect acoustics for the ear. Such qualities inspire awe: for example, ritual chanting continues to move visitors to these sites deeply to our present day.

The construction of these holy places not only reflected the divine. Site-selections for these locations in relationship to one another often mirrored the alignment, crustal shift, and perceived movement of planets and stars in the heavens-(i.e., As Above, So Below). Our human desire to understand the cosmos extends from ages past. However, we possess few inscribed records from these ages except the ceremonial sites themselves and the geometry reflected within and among them.

Based on the writings of Plato, Pythagoras, and other early thinkers, the use of Sacred Geometry has waxed and waned multiple times over successive millennia of our epoch. In numerous areas of Planet Earth, the construction of temples, pyramids, stone circles, and ceremonial mounds transpired concurrently.

Furthermore, the use of this Geometry focused upon the movements of the sun, the moon, the planets of our solar system, and the stars of the galaxy beyond it for reasons that have extended from the purely pragmatic to the wholly spiritual. This application appears to hold true for most early cultures, ranging from the most traditional to the most advanced. In respect to the latter kind, let us consider this first example.

Many of us who value motion pictures of the past century have viewed and enjoyed the Franco Zeffirelli film "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" (Warner Brothers, 1972). The movie focuses on the spiritual transformation of Francesco and Clare of Assisi, Italy (later to become Saint Francis and Saint Clare) during the early Thirteenth Century. As Medieval Christians considered Mary, the mother of Jesus, as the moon, reflecting the Light of Her Son, so Clare represented Sister Moon, reflecting the light of Francis, Brother Sun. Note: During earlier times, Christians tended to identify Saint John the Baptist and Mary Magdalene as personifications of the sun and the moon. Resultantly, many holy sites of the time were dedicated to this pair.

From the Thirteenth Century onward, a revival of the science and art of Sacred Geometry in architecture took place. Newly built cathedrals and churches incorporated this Geometry in order to announce the most relevant days of solar and lunar activity. These structures have stood not only as places for conducting ceremonies but as locations to preserve ancient architectural science. For example, during the centuries preceding the abundance of mechanical clocks, the brass strip known as the Roseline, embedded in the floor of the Church of Saint-Sulpice, built in 1645 in Paris, continues to reflect sunlight as the calling of worshippers to noon service. Prior to the establishment of the Greenwich Line as the Prime Meridian of the world, the Roseline served this purpose for measurement.

Throughout the past two centuries, those of us on the American continents have discovered numerous sites and structures that also embody the same geometry. Some of these sacred sites are stone pyramids that reflect the geometry found in the numerous pyramids preserved in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and elsewhere throughout the world. Other sites survive as packed-earth or clay-brick mounds throughout Michigan and the larger Great Lakes region. While some of these structures embody the shape and dimensions of the stone pyramids, others vary considerably. In addition, a multitude of stone circles-such as the one discovered on the bottom of Grand Traverse Bay-exist throughout the world. Of the many more obscure sites studied, a large number of them appear to have the same placement, spacing, and alignments as the best-known of ancient stone circles in the British Isles and elsewhere.

Finally, past and current investigators have noticed connections among the relative placements of multiple structures and circles that follow the principles of this geometry. Through my investigation of these curiosities, I began my journey toward enlightenment by studying ancient American sites in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. I searched far and wide to locate sites, alignments, and mounds along with other pertinent features in places such as the 12,000 year-old settlement near Michigan City, IN; the Norton Mound Group at Grand Rapids, MI; the Serpent Mound in Cincinnati, OH; and the Great (Burial) Mound of the River Rouge, which stood adjacent to the Ford Motor Company site at Zug Island along the Detroit River.

The further that I delved, the more mysterious I found these curiosities. Over the years, I have located, marked, and mapped the sites that I found thus far. I invite you to journey with me and to explore the mysteries that loom within these places and alignments. Within these mysteries, we will find that the application of Sacred Geometry exists as a highly conscious melding of science, art, and mysticism. This application represents not some mere leisure activity for our early human ancestors. It appears that they used this Geometry in order to help them to survive daily life.

The Old Copper Culture

Referred to as "the Old Copper Culture" by archeologists, this name identifies the earlier Indigenous Peoples who mined and utilized copper in a culture that flourished from 5000 BCE to 700 CE in Upper Michigan. Though these miners left few surviving dwellings, burial grounds, clay tablets, or cave drawings, they did leave behind thousands of copper-producing pits and the hammering stones that they used. Apparently, these ancient miners worked the copper-bearing rock by alternately applying fire and cold water while using stone hatchets or hand-held hammering stones. This technique allowed the miners to break the ore into smaller pieces from which they would extract the metal. From this copper, they formed additional tools.

We continue to learn about the proliferation of Neolithic copper mines that rim the western part of Lake Superior along the Keweenaw Peninsula and on Isle Royale. Our first modern dating-verification of these mines is credited to Dr. Roy W. Drier, a metallurgical engineer on the faculty of Michigan Technological University (initially Michigan Mining School) in Houghton, in 1954. Drier received a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation that allowed him to lead an expedition to Isle Royale for the purpose of obtaining, studying, and dating specimens of organic matter taken from abandoned mine pits. Employing the then-new Carbon 14 dating process, two measurements resulted that dated these pits to between 1800 BCE and 1000 BCE. From his expedition, Drier reported the existence of more than 2,000 pits in the area along the Minong Belt around the lakeshore and on scattered islands of Lake Superior. With this in mind, we note that the date of 1800 BC falls within the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt, which constitutes the apex and most stable period of the Middle Kingdom. The dynasty originally centered in the city of Thebes, which stands along the Nile approximately halfway between the Giza Pyramids and the Abu Simbel Temple further upriver.

In building the pyramids at Giza and the temples and palaces at Abu Simbel, Karnak, and elsewhere along the Nile corridor, master builders needed an endless supply of copper tools to work the limestone quarries near the construction sites. Why is this important? These coincidences may help us to solve a number of mysteries.

The earliest-known modern writings concerning the copper region of Michigan came in 1665 when Jesuit missionaries Jean LeSeur and Claude Dablon reported that copper existed in vast quantities along the shore of Lake Superior. Their mineral finds drew the governments of France, England, and other European countries to explore this territory and lay claims to it. However, full exploitation did not occur until 1842 when the Chippewa Tribal Nation ceded all claims to 30,000 square miles of the Upper Peninsula to the United States Government. Shortly after, the Copper Rush of 1843 commenced. Thousands of would-be miners came to the Copper Country to try their luck. Their success helped to establish the city of Calumet, which remains one of the jewels of the Upper Peninsula.

Throughout the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, commercial extraction of copper burgeoned in the area. These mines helped to build the prosperity of the city of Duluth, Minnesota, as well as towns eastward along the south shore of Lake Superior in Michigan. From 1837 through 1846, Douglass Houghton, State Geologist of Michigan and one of the early leading figures in the Copper Country, published reports on the geology of the Upper Peninsula describing the copper deposits along the Keweenaw Peninsula. Despite his appeal for caution, a land rush began as investors, miners, and entrepreneurs attempted to acquire copper-rich real estate.

Houghton wrote that, on the south shore of Lake Superior, the works of the ancient miners extend over a district comprising a length of one hundred and fifty miles through Keweenaw, Houghton, and Octonagon Counties, Michigan, with a varying width of four to seven miles.

By the end of the Nineteenth Century, the shafts of Keweenaw were the deepest in the world. However, when these mines no longer proved profitable, the companies and their employees left. Today, we can see the ruins of mines and ghost towns. Nevertheless, there remains an abundance of copper that may find its way into the electronics industry.

Copper deposits appear on every continent of the world in greater or lesser amounts. In antiquity, the greatest tonnage of copper mining took place on the Sinai Peninsula and on the island of Cyprus; in the countries of Spain, China, Mexico, and Peru; and in the region surrounding Lake Superior. Of the more extensive copper-ore deposits in the world, four major sites exist in the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin in the western United States; the length of the Andean chain in Peru; Northern Rhodesia; on the central plateau in Africa; and in central Canada, extending south into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

We might ask, "Where did the extracted copper go?" Some scholars have asserted that Phoenician explorers, the Berbers of northwest Africa, Bronze Age Europeans, and/or Norsemen may have mined the majority of it within a huge international trading center on the shores of Lake Superior. In recent years, the scientific community has been uncovering evidence in the forms of writing carved into stone and other materials that may support this claim.

During the Bronze Age, the demand for copper throughout the ancient world hit a peak. Though possibly built later than Egyptian structures, the walls of Sacsayhuaman and the Palace of Manco Capac at Cuzco, Peru (tentatively dated to 400 through 1200 CE) bear a resemblance to structures in the Mediterranean Region. For example, polished copper plate covered the interior of Coricancha, the Sun Temple in Cusco, Peru. Apart from minor differences, artisans decorated this temple in a manner similar to the interior of the Treasury of Atreus in Mycenae, Greece (1250 BCE). Some scholars assert that, contemporaneous with the Mycenae, the Chavin culture in Peru flourished from 1200 BC to 200 BC. In addition, archeologists digging in Peru have unearthed bronze figures that date from 1523 BCE to 1027 BCE. Interestingly, these figures resemble ones associated with the Shang Dynasty in China. Near the city of Xi'an, approximately 100 mound-pyramids remain standing; these appear to have been built between 2000 BCE and 21 BCE. The structures in China resemble the many mound-pyramids discovered throughout the Americas and other parts of the world.

In both North and Central America, a variety of mounds and pyramids made of earth, stone, and clay-brick remain standing throughout the continent. Our most abundant concentrations of these structures survive in southern Michigan and southern Ohio. In fact, thirty thousand mounds stand scattered throughout a restricted area of Ross County in the Appalachian region of southern Ohio. For example, the Seip (Serpent) mound that stands 240 feet long, 130 feet wide, and 30 feet high in Ross County renders a Carbon 14 reading of 300 BCE.

Near Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, we can find several hundred petroglyphs that date from 1500 BCE. The late Dr. H. B. "Barry" Fell, a Professor Emeritus of Harvard, recognized that both the script and the picture carvings on the glyphs resemble an ancient Germanic language used by Scandinavians during the Bronze Age around 2500 BCE. In "America B.C.: Ancient Settlers in the New World" (Quadrangle/New York Times Book Co., 1976), Fells noted that petroglyphs similar to the ones in Ontario also have been found in Norway and Sweden. Seemingly related to these petroglyphs, inscriptions on a forty-by-seventy-foot white-limestone rock located northeast of Toronto tell of a Norse king named Woden-lithi who sailed on a trading mission to America around 1500 BCE for ingot copper of excellent quality.

Concurrently, ancient civilizations flourished in the valley of the Indus River system in the region now known as Pakistan. Thirty sites containing lost cities and villages, such as the city of Mohenjo Daro discovered 300 miles north of Karachi, date from 5000 BCE to 1500 BCE. Another site at Harrapa, near the Ravi River, flourished from 2700 BCE to 2300 BCE.

In Europe, north of Scotland across the Pentland Firth, a Bronze Age culture inhabited the Orkney Islands around 4000 BCE. These pre-history people built stone houses and solar/lunar-oriented megalithic monuments well before the first Egyptian dynasty. The Neolithic (early Bronze Age) civilization of the Orkneys grew, expanded, and faded out over the course of thousands of years. Near Skae Brae, one can see the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar-thirty-six stones standing up to fifteen feet high. Nearby, stands the ring temple of Maes Howe. This temple was built from massive stone slabs, each weighing as much as thirty tons. On the day of Winter Solstice, the sunlight enters between the stones and passes through a doorway of the temple. Contemporaneous with these sites, a nearby culture in New Grange ("new sun"), Ireland, built a highly accurate solar calculator around 3000 BCE.

The mound-building period began after 3500 BCE. Reportedly, the first Egyptian dynasties built pyramids by using bricks made from sun-dried mud around 3100 BCE. Within 600 years, builders used the same type of brick in the first South American pyramid complexes in Caral and Tucume, Peru, in approximately 2500 BCE. Dr. Ruth Shady Solis, a Peruvian archeologist and lead investigator of Caral, conducted Carbon 14 tests of the remains of woven reed-bags, possibly used to carry stones, which provide a date estimate of 3600 BCE for these pyramids. This legacy continued in the Americas. The Moche culture of Peru built mud-brick adobe pyramids from year 0 to 700 CE. The Mayans built pyramids made of clay mixed with sand and dried oyster shells at Comalcalco from about 600 CE to 900 CE. In further reference to Egyptian structures, the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan, Mexico (100 CE) has a base of 44,000 square meters-one that sets nearly identical to that of the Cheops (Khufu) pyramid at Giza.

In regions scattered throughout the United States, early inhabitants constructed a vast number of stone circles and mounds. In addition, these Bronze Age cultures built pyramids. However, the lack of stone in these locations often dictated the use of clay or soil in the construction. As the Egyptians built the first of their step-pyramids around 3000 BCE, Native Americans in the lower Mississippi Valley built their community surrounded by earthen mound-pyramids. Similarly, a later culture that flourished from 1500 BCE to 600 BCE in Poverty Point, Louisiana, built a large number of concentric, semi-circular mounds bordered by large conical mounds. Their great bird-shaped mound stands at the center of this complex.

Bronze Age cultures constructed earthen mounds, stone circles, and clay and stone pyramids in all sizes and shapes throughout the world. Sites include India, New Guinea, Germany, Russia, Poland, France, England, and elsewhere. Furthermore, the existence of large mounds and pyramids possessing similar alignments to one another suggests that they had an astronomical use. Many of these structures orientate toward the current Solstice-points along the horizon (points of sunrise and sunset at Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice) and toward the points of the rising and setting moon at the furthest distance of it from the ecliptic (the major and minor rises and settings of the moon).

Furthermore, many of these structures point toward certain fixed stars. At the Mayan site at Uaxactum, Guatemala, three temples along with two steles (upright stones or slabs with inscribed or sculptured surfaces) provide the exact orientation toward the sun during solstices and equinoxes. At Teotihuacan near Mexico City, a series of stone markers line up with the Pyramid of the Sun in order to indicate the rising and setting sun at solstices and equinoxes. The great pyramid of Xochical casts a precise, round shadow twice each year when shining down a vertical shaft when the sun reaches its peak. In Hovenweep Castle, an ancient Anasazi ruin near the Colorado-Utah border that was built between 1150 CE and 1200 CE, a chosen room served as a solar observatory. Several holes cut into the walls align with the rays of the sun at particular times of the year, specifically the Summer and Winter Solstices and Spring and Fall Equinoxes.

Takeaway

What is the particular relevance of Sacred Geometry for attorneys in Michigan? In this month's column, we have mentioned the recovery of antiquities throughout the world. Close to home, we continue to find ancient artifacts throughout the State of Michigan. Though many such finds have been lost, stolen, or destroyed over the past few centuries, we now have a law that allows us to unearth and to preserve these treasures carefully. The Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act 451 of 1994, Aboriginal-Records-and-Antiquities-and-Abandoned-Property, Part 761, now helps to protect these precious finds.

The single largest trove of such treasures came from the mound that used to stand at the Ford Motor Company Zug Island site along the mouth of River Rouge.

Most of these treasures found their way to what we now know as the Great Lakes Archeology Collection in the Museum of Archeological Anthropology at the University of Michigan. In addition to efforts in Michigan, other states as well as countries have developed or are developing similar laws. However, this remains a topic to revisit in future columns.
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Dr. John F. Sase teaches Economics at Wayne State University and has practiced Forensic and Investigative Economics for twenty years. He earned a combined M.A. in Economics and an MBA at the University of Detroit, followed by a Ph.D. in Economics from Wayne State University. He is a graduate of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School (www.saseassociates.com).

Gerard J. Senick is a freelance writer, editor, and musician. He earned his degree in English at the University of Detroit and was a supervisory editor at Gale Research Company (now Cengage) for over twenty years. Currently, he edits books for publication (www.senick-editing.com).

Julie G. Sase is a copyeditor, parent coach, and empath. She earned her degree in English at Marygrove College and her graduate certificate in Parent Coaching from Seattle Pacific University. Ms. Sase coaches clients, writes articles, and edits copy (royaloakparentcoaching.com).