Author of the Month

Geoff Stray, Author of the Month for March 2010

The Tortuguero Prophecy Unravelled (cont.)
By Geoff Stray

In the thirteen hundreds, Dante wrote his divine comedy, describing the "pilgrimage of the soul" up though nine circles of Hell, via the seven terraces of Mount Purgatory, and the nine spheres of the planets, stars and Primum Mobile, all of which are mobilized by the angels, to Paradise. There were later medieval variations on this theme by Lull, Fludd, Cusanus, Kircher and other philosophers.

The nine circles of Hell each hold those unrepentant sinners who are punished for their various crimes, including the seven deadly sins.

Mount Purgatory is for those who are repentant but need to be purged (cleansed) - hence Purgatory. The mountain has seven levels that relate to the seven deadly sins, but there are two extra layers that exist at the base of the mountain, making nine layers altogether - these are the late-repentant and the excommunicates. The first level deals with pride, in which souls carry a heavy burden on their back, symbolising the burden of pride; the second level dealing in envy, where the eyes are sewn shut and clothes that render one virtually invisible are worn. On the third terrace, anger is corrected by acrid smoke, showing how anger clouds judgement. On the fourth terrace, sloth, or spiritual apathy is dealt with by running continually. On the fifth level, greed is dealt with by laying face down on the ground, immobile, so that external desire turns inward. On the sixth level, gluttony is treated by abstention from food and drink, and on the seventh level, lust is corrected by a wall of flame that burns away the carnal desires. At the top of the mountain is the Garden of Eden, where the souls return to original innocence. Then the climb through the nine heavenly spheres starts, where each level is peopled by souls with different virtues, until Dante sees God as a point of light surrounded by nine rings of angels. Dante then goes beyond to a zone called the Empyrean, where the souls of believers form the petals of a rose. There are strange echoes here, of the Shambhala myth.


The 13th degree of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry is called the Royal Arch of Enoch. [20], [21] Enoch was the great-grandfather of Noah, who is said in the Book of Genesis to have lived to the age of 365 years. The rite records Enoch built a column of granite and a column of brass, engraved with knowledge of arts and science, to survive a coming flood (the flood of Noah, Enoch's grandson). He dug nine vaults in a vertical sequence, one above the other, each roofed with an arch, and the lowest was hewn from solid rock. The crown of each arch had an aperture sealed with a square stone and iron lifting-ring, and over the top was built a roofless temple of un-hewn stones, with granite paving concealing the top entrance stone. In the lowest vault he placed a cube of agate in which was embedded a triangular plate of gold, studded with precious gems and engraved with "the ineffable name of God". Many years later, after the flood, when Solomon built his temple, he also built nine vaults, the ninth of which was under the Holy of Holies, and which was linked to his palace by a tunnel. Workmen building a Temple of Justice on the site of Enoch's temple discovered the vaults and delivered the agate cube with its triangular golden plate to Solomon, who put it into his own ninth vault below his temple. Like a Mount purgatory going downwards, one has to descend to the ninth and deepest level to achieve the prize.

In 1119, the nine original Knights Templar went to Jerusalem and set up their headquarters in the Al Aqsa mosque on Temple Mount, and spent nine years digging under the site of Solomon's Temple. It is widely thought that they found scrolls and treasure, which ended up in their Paris Temple, before being taken to Rosslyn chapel in Scotland. Rosslyn is a replica of Solomon's Temple, and is known to have at least one secret vault and a tunnel.

Several esoteric societies have a nine-level hierarchy of grades. This includes the Rosicrucians; the Theosophists; the Ordo Templi Orientis (before Aleister Crowley added more grades), and the nine initiations of the Ismaelis and the Assassins. It also includes the nine grades of the Priory of Sion, (but the Nautonnier, Pierre Plantard admitted in 1993 that the society was a hoax). The nine-level hierarchy represents increasing levels of spiritual development.

The underworld theme continues in the concept of the labyrinth. In the Cretan myth, the labyrinth was built by Daedalus to house the Minotaur - a monster that was half man and half bull. Every nine years, King Minos sacrificed seven young Athenian men and seven young Athenian women to the Minotaur. When the Greek hero Theseus volunteered as one of the seven male victims, Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, fell in love with him and gave him a ball of thread with which he could find his way out of the labyrinth, provided he would marry her afterwards. Theseus killed the Minotaur, rescuing Athens from its fate. Mythology commentators tell us that the labyrinth represents the underworld, to which the hero must descend, with the help of the maiden. Replica labyrinths usually have seven, nine, or eleven rings, representing the levels of the underworld, and the story represents the killing off of our "beast within" - repressed violence, anger and sexual obsessions, before we will be ready to integrate with our higher selves (the Overself). Note also that the Cretan labyrinth symbol represents the rebirth or Emergence into the Fifth World of the Hopi.


In Hamlet's Mill, de Santillana and Von Dechend tell how the Danish myth of Amleth or Amlodhi concerns a mill that was turned by Nine Maids on an island off Norway, until the mill was stolen and the ship sank, causing a permanent whirlpool. In another version, the mill belongs to King Frodhi, an alias of Freyr, one of the Vanir, who, live in Vanaheim, one of the nine realms on Yggdrasil. The huge mill was worked by two giant maidens and ground out gold, peace and happiness, making a Golden Age, but it eventually broke and ground out only salt. The Kalavala epic of Finland tells a similar story about a smith called Ilmarinen, who is tricked by Vainamionen, the minstrel, into going to the frozen land of the North, where he has to forge the Sampo, a magic triangular mill that grinds out flour, salt and money, in exchange for the daughter of Louhi, the wicked Queen of the frozen land. When it is finished, Louhi entombs it in a cave in the Copper Mountain, behind nine doors of granite, each sealed by nine locks. The Sampo is called "the treasure". Ilmarinen does not win the maiden, however. Eventually, the minstrel and smith go back to the frozen North, and open the nine doors by magic, then steal the Sampo, and Louhi chases them across the sea, but the mill eventually breaks and falls into the sea.

The mill tree was also the world axis, and the Golden Age comes and goes according to the shifting of it, which is the precession of the equinoxes. Nine is connected to the precession cycle, since the precessional numbers 72, 108, 216, 432, 25,920 all add to nine.

The Churning of the Milky Ocean from the Maharabata, using the seven or nine-headed snake, encodes precession.

In the Hindu Mahabharata and Ramayana texts, the Churning of the Milky Ocean represents precession, according to de Santillana and Von Dechend, and is caused by a tug-o-war between two dynasties of gods, who are turning the pole by pulling on a snake that is wrapped around it. The snake usually has seven or nine heads - both forms are depicted at the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia.

The stone circles and other megalithic sites found across Britain are known to have functioned as Neolithic calendars. Many have alignments to Equinoxes and solstices, or lunar standstills. From some of these observatories, the change in the rise and set positions of stars caused by precession would have been observable. At Avebury, for example, Robin Heath has shown that the line of hills to the East provided a horizon on which precession of half a degree would be clearly evident after 36 years observation, as rising stars moved between trees on the skyline. Many stone circles are named after nine maidens - in fact, all the stone circles in Cornwall are locally referred to as the nine maidens, regardless of the number of stones or other names for the sites. There are also the Nine Ladies circle on Stanton Moor and Nine Stones Close, both in Derbyshire, and there are several Wells of Nine Maidens in Scotland.

So the number nine is universally associated not only with the underworld, the overworld, altered states of consciousness, but also with precession, ancient calendars and maidens - in fact, nine is the number of the Goddess according to mythologist Joseph Campbell. [22]


The Goddess has a triple aspect: Maid, Mother and Crone. These relate to waxing moon, full moon and waning moon. The threefold aspect multiplies to a ninefold aspect that relates to the nine months of gestation. One of the best known groups of nine goddesses is the Nine Muses, who were Greek Goddesses that provided inspiration in the arts and sciences, and are said to have inspired Pythagoras, who conceived of the Tetractys - a triangular arrangement of nine points around the bindu, or seed - a diagram that relates to octaves and other ratios in music. The Muses were associated with the Oracle at Delphi.

In Arthurian legend, Arthur was taken to the Isle of Avalon (the Otherworld) to have his wound healed by nine sisters, one of whom was Morgan le Fay. A Roman historian records such an island - the island of Sein (breast), off Brittany, occupied by nine priestesses, who were healers, could predict the future, control winds and waves and change into animal shapes. A similar island - Annwn (the Underworld) is described in a Welsh epic in which is Cerridwen's Cauldron, tended by nine virgins, who "boiled the cauldron with their breath". The cauldron had a ring of pearls round its rim, it produced an elixir that conferred inspiration, and oracular speech came out of it. King Arthur entered the Underworld (Annwn) to steal the cauldron.

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  1. Royal Arch of Enoch [back to text]
  2. Nine Vaults of Solomon [back to text]
  3. Joseph Campbell: The Mystery Number of the Goddess, in In All Her Names - Explorations of the Feminine in Divinity, Harper San Francisco, New York, 1991. [back to text]

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