Tag Archives: Flower of Life

The Structure and Men

So a bit more of the Zodiac tent story….the question was how in the world to make this thing, starting with the zome. We started by making a small model, to understand how the zome structure works, when Bill Coperthwaite was visiting us in Austria.

Bill is a story of his own, being the first person to make a yurt in the West, the father of the western yurt perhaps. He made his first trellis yurt in the 60’s in the USA then went on to develop the wooden tapered wall yurt and is now 86 years old  living on his own in the wilds of Maine. (He thus has no ‘phone or email, but reminds us of a time when pen and paper was a trusted form of communication, and somehow his letters always come at auspicious times, and find their way to us, even in the most nomadic of situations. Funnily enough, in the few days I have been writing this entry, someone asked me about him, and the next day we received his annual calendar).Bill's yurt in Maine

Bill’s yurt home in Maine

We made the frequency-6 model on a sunny day and saw the shadows on the structure moving towards the Flower of Life, which started a debate about where on earth, at what time of the day and year, the sun would be overhead, thus projecting the exact form. Variously in the tropics, I think.

Model zome. If you look carefully you will see Bill on the Land Rover back, carving yet another spoon

Model zome. Bill, in the background, on the Land Rover back, carving another juniper spoon

First…how wide? We thought 16′ was a good size for the peripheral yurts, making the diameter of the central structure, centre of yurt to centre of the opposite yurt, 18.6m.

And how high? With help from Rob Bell’s Sketchup programme, and Nicolas’ zome programme (en Francais), several sessions of geometrical debate, and some unorthodox calculation methods (see picture), we came up with a height of 6 metres, giving a rib length of 15.6 metres.

Finn up on the crane for the height measurement, Chloe in the forest for the width

Finn up on the crane for the height measurement, Chloe in forest for the width

Our calculated zome

Our calculated zome

OK…so the struts are helical, and we were to make them from sawn wooden planks,in 3 laminated layers, glued together with extremely sticky, fast-drying PU glue. This meant, that to enable the canvas cover to sit evenly on the frame, the planks would need to be twisted, in two directions, like diagonally on the side of a large cylinder, like a silo. (How we found the silo is another story.) It took us a while to see that the left twist and the right twist are different, ie the helixes are sided. (Try wrapping a 1cm wide strip of paper, or better thin aluminium, around a coffee jar).

Mythological intertwining. Hermes staff: the Caduceus.

Mythological intertwining. Hermes staff: the Caduceus.

Then one day the boys visit the saw mill. The Scholar, who is fluent in German speaks with the sawmill guy called Thomas, the son of Thomas and actually…. the father of a Thomas, and as it is Austrian lunchtime and the mill is closed, the boys take Bill to have his coffee ice-cream. A cafe’ is found, and whilst the sugar settles in, and Bill convinces the Scholar to have some ice-cream too, the Scholar being a scholar reads the sugar packets.

It turns out that the cafe is also a museum ?!! and that the owner’s grandfather spent some years collecting old farm tools and crafts, and the whole top floor of the building and bakery is dedicated to old farm life, from beds to cupboards to violin cases, to wine presses and more and more and more.

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Austrian oak beam with Flower of Life carving

Bill is an old craft and tool addict, and browsing through the top floors, the boys were amazed to meet an old farm oaken beam with the Flower of Life carved into it,  an affirmation that Yes there is a thread running through the weaves and patterns. Of course we knew this pattern is portrayed all through the world: at the gates of the forbidden city in China, at countless temples and holy places and now we found out also at the ice-cream parlour on the doorstep of the Austrian sawmill.

Seed of life on oak beam

Seed of life on oak beam

So on we went to meet Thomas I, II and, well not III, and they sawed the 15 ash logs into planks, and we loaded all 3 tonnes of these into our truck, then later into the trailer, then later out of the trailer, then later….etc etc

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Ash logs

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Into the truck

From Humayun to the Zome

The last post told of how the Zodiac Tent came to us. Now let us take a journey from its origins in the Moghul princely tent tradition to the Zome at the centre of its modern reproduction. The Zodiac Tent was the most glorious palace tent of Humayun, a Moghul emperor who ruled present day Afghanistan, Pakistan , and parts of northern India from 1530–1540 and again from 1555–1556. Son of Babur, father of Akbar, he was an astronomical dreamer, loving splendour and esoteric mysteries, who lived and ruled his court by the stars.

Humayun's Tomb in Delhi, predating the Taj Mahal

Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi, which predates the Taj Mahal

“And among his inventions another is a trellis tent, khargahi, which comprises twelve towers, burj, to the number of the signs of the zodiac, buraj. And these towers are contrived with windows so that the light of the stars of fortune can shine through their holes. And the star of the beauty of its arrangement and form shone on the pages of the events of the universe: The light of fortune shining through its windows, Couriers of power hastening from its doors. And another trellis tent like the sphere of spheres, which encloses the sphere of the fixed stars, surrounded this trellis tent on all sides, so as to fall on it like a cover. ” (This passage from “Felt Tents and Pavillions: The Nomadic Tradition and its Interaction  with Princely Tentage”, by Peter Alford Andrews. Our friends, Peter and his wife, Mughul have researched and documented nomadic tents in meticulous detail).

Moghul Procession

Moghul Procession

There is some debate as to the details of the form of Humayun’s Zodiac Tent, but the general appearance was 12 trellis tents (yurts) in a circle for the 12 signs of the Zodiac, with a central canopy covering all, to be the celestial sphere.

Our challenge in designing the latest incarnation of the Zodiac Tent, was what kind of structure to have as the centre….a giant yurt?, a circus tent-type (big top) structure with a central pole? a geodesic dome? We wanted a framed tent (one where the frame stands alone without the cover) as opposed to a velum tent (where the stability of the frame is dependent on the tension in the cover, like a big top) as we were clear we wanted to eliminate the central support which stands out like a …… in the centre.

Now the meta-level. Around that time an exaggerated number of abstract threads were coming to our story, catalysed by the Scholar. To explain what I mean by this, let me introduce what we call the “HTML”, or ‘living language’. (The name ‘HTML’ comes from the web programming language , referring to a code working behind the scenes). This talks in the messages which come to us from the universe at large, in the form of symbols, seeming ‘coincidences’, omens, or even directly.

We had been working with this force for some time, but what was emerging here, was a living structure in the myths and symbols that were presenting themselves to all the people we work with, seemingly spontaneously across a couple of continents. What we were seeing was knowledge and myth transcending culture and time, parallel structures appearing across disciplines. This is the lingua sacra, alluded to in “The Glass Bead Game” by Herman Hesse.

One such thread, coming independently over a couple of days involved:

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The 4 cardinal stars, in Taurus, Scorpio, Leo & Aquarius marking the solstices and equinoxes (from zodiacal research)

Lion ox eagle and man (from Finn's thread on the 4 watchers)

Lion ox eagle and man (from Finn’s thread on the 4 watchers)

4 horsemen of the apocalypse (from Chloe's dream)

4 horsemen of the apocalypse (from Chloe’s dream)

Ezekiel's vision of the chariot of "living creatures"

Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot of “living creatures”

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Metatrons cube (in a message from the Peacock)

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With the Flower of Life underneath

Then along came the zome. ‘Zome’ is a general term for a shelter, the frame of which comes from a family of complex geometrical structures, found in many natural forms such as pine cones, and honeycombs. (For an in depth description of the background and associated geometry, see Rene’s website at http://simplydifferently.org/Zome).

Zome house from Archilibre, France

Zome house from Archilibre, France

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Helix Zome

We then discovered the helix zome, developed by Nicolas Causse, which is basically a curved version of a zome.

The struts of the helix zome, are half helixes.  A helix is a spiral with a constant diameter, like the DNA spiral.

DNA double helix

DNA double helix

And, if you look at a zome from above, you will see the intersecting struts form the flower of life. “That’s it: our central structure!”, declared the Scholar. The zome became our meta-structure, a shape where many disciplines were weaving in and out of each other. How we were going to make it was the next challenge…