… patterns of eternity humbly opens your mind …

I want to tell you about a friend and writer – Malcolm Stewart – Initially a priest, Malcolm’s life sparkles with many roles – poet, singer-songwriter, editor, book jacket designer, cartoonist, BBC and ITV producer, UN project coordinator, NGO relief-aid and refugee organiser, artist, stained glass designer, lecturer and writer, friend, husband and father to 5 children … He is now in his 70s and lives with his wife, Nora, in Surrey. The Maze below is one of his many designs waiting to be collated and shared.

Maze design by Malcolm Stewart

Maze design by Malcolm Stewart

Having published Patterns of Eternity, of which more later, Malcolm wrote a second book, Symbols of Eternity. In the process of delivering the manuscript to his publisher, Floris Books, in March 2011, Malcolm suffered a stroke, which deeply shocked his family and friends.

He consequently lingered in a coma – drifting in and out of consciousness over a period of 5 weeks. Helped by the extraordinary determination of his wife, Nora, intense rehabilitation, the healing skills of friends, and the prayers of many, Malcolm gradually recovered speech and movement. During 2012/13 he improved in leaps and bounds. He now walks several miles a day, is his old delightful conversationalist, and has made friends with his computer again. He is working on another book, Light of Eternity (landmarks of a soul’s journey) and, in addition, is completing a novel he had kept hidden in drawers for years – Dictionary of Amazement.

Malcolm and Nora Stewart, photo by Peter Langford

Malcolm and Nora Stewart, photo by Peter Langford

We met up last week, and I asked him to sum up Dictionary of Amazement in a single sentence (a question I dread when it comes to my own novels.) His face lit up – A Tall Story – he said. It was one of those moments when you can hear the angels clapping. He read me the first chapter from the screen of his computer, and I can’t wait to read more.

Malcolm’s work inspires me. Even as a child I was in awe of music, forms and patterns in nature, proportions in art and architecture, the cosmos … and though I remained shy of mathematics, I recall my joy on discovering that all these manifestations could be based on mathematical principles of numbers made visible through geometric shapes, revealing a golden mean that pervades all systems. As I see it, evolution is the adventure of discovering the intersections from which new forms forever develop. Or, to re-appropriate the line of a poem by John Masefield I came across the other day (through Brain Pickings) … the mind re-members the beauty of fire from the beauty of embers

Patterns of Eternity - by Malcolm Stewart

At intervals to writing this, I was dashing into the kitchen to check on the setting point of my Damson jam, which requires a fine knack of proportions – fruit, sugar, lemon, a little water. We’re all born with a knack for proportions – though this tends to get obscured by an education that tips the scale of balance by valuing quantity over quality.

While much has been written on sacred geometry, Malcolm’s book is unusual. Not only does it welcome lay persons, like me, and entertain with rare, charming stories, and sumptuous illustrations, it also presents a simple device of great significance, the Starcut Diagram.

John Martineau writes in his review about Patterns of Eternity … the single most important addition to the body of sacred geometry to re-emerge in a decade …

Look up the book   Patters of Eternity (first time I try to do an ‘elegant’ link 🙂

An excerpt of my review: … The Star Cut Diagram introduced by Malcolm Stewart is an eye-opener in that it sheds light on one of the simplest and earliest geometric construction known, which he suspects pre-dates Euclid by thousands of years, a mnemonic device, and the template of many significant patterns throughout history and across the world … in architecture, art, rituals … a way of seeing and connecting things up.

Here a few themes from the book …

Chapter 8, The Hidden Geometry of The Divine Raphael. This chapter made me realise why Raphael’s paintings are so appealing. Malcolm first noticed the geometry in his painting The Transformation, which perfectly fitted the boundary rectangle of two circles interlocking as a Vesica Piscis, a ration that is also the perfect 5th harmony in music, like the notes C and G played together, or in sequence. The simple 2:3 ratio, root of all this, is as harmonious to the eye as to the ear or to the mind. What fascinates is how the directional gaze of the characters in the painting brings meaning to the theme.

Raphael - The School of Athens

Raphael – The School of Athens

The chapter also explores Raphael’s fresco set in a semicircle, The School of Athens. In the ceiling medallion (not visible here) it says Causarum Cognito (Knowledge of Causes.) The female figure of philosophy in the medallion holds two books, one vertically, which is titled ‘Morals,’ the other horizontally, titled ‘Nature,’ resonating with the two central philosophers – where Plato points to heaven and Aristotle gestures to the earth. All the well-known philosophical figures in this stage-like painting also represent ideas, and Malcolm expands on their connections in detail, adding inspired meaning by overlaying the diagram of the Starcut.

Chapter 21, The Lyre of Apollo, applies the Starcut diagram to architectural spaces and relates to vibrations and resonances. Images show samples of standing waves created by sound within different elements. And the tonal vibrations of the human voice are discussed, like Psalm singing, the reciting of Indian puja, Sufi Zikhr, Buddhist sutra chanting or mantra. Practising this kind of tuning in groups (as I experienced) powerfully tunes mind and body. The chapter goes on to elaborate on the length, tension and ratio of musical strings, using once more the Starcut diagram to show the consistent harmony of numbers, and the hidden one that remains quiet.

P. of Eternity, ten pebbles

By bringing light and clarity to simple forms, with beautiful illustrations, the materials presented throughout the 25 chapters convey a deep intuitive connectedness, which makes this book a joy to explore.

A surprise at the end of the book introduces 5 Starcut Glass Bead games, not featured here.

You can listen to Malcolm reading a little from Patterns of Eternity on yourtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-N8QiyJU_SY

Dip into it at Amazon – PATTERNS OF ETERNITY  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Patterns-Eternity-Geometry-Starcut-Diagram/dp/0863157122/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_i

And also look at SYMBOLS OF ETERNITY   http://www.amazon.co.uk/Symbols-Eternity-Landmarks-Soul-Journey/dp/0863158374/ref=pd_sim_b_2


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19 responses to “… patterns of eternity humbly opens your mind …

  1. Fascinated by the School of Athens (for obvious reasons) and the focal point, particularly having used it as an illustration of a whole philosophy…and today was doing much the same with Velasquez’ Las Meninas. He reads beautifully. Now another must buy book! Thank you for this tribute to a man and his thought.


  2. P.s. The square and circle and triangular evocation of Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man too! I am convinced, not that intellectual conviction is necessary for something that sings perfection…but its lovely when it can confirm.


  3. “Yeah, just that simple.” Wonderful reading from your YouTube link. Thanks for your work and sharing this. I’m reminded of Fuller, just reminded is all, of his tetrahedron discussions, which Fuller also described as, basically, anyway, also, simple.


  4. I’ve been trying to write a comment and like your post but it keeps bouncing me back! 😦 Just wanted to say what a lovely post again. I’m a great believer in the beauty of mathematics in art and nature, despite not being mathematically minded at all. Not just Da Vinci’s golden proportions of the Vitruvian Man, but the intricacies of a internal spiral of a snail’s shell, how perfect a snowflake is. Despite our own lives being so magical unordered, which I kind of like, mad chaos and spontaneity, nature has it’s own order down to the microscopic level…anyway, a beautiful story of human resilience and love though. I hope your friend is fully recovered. Love Soph xx


  5. Thanks Sophie. The site was playing up I saved the post once more and it’s fine now. You email showed up, so I took it out.
    Glad you liked the post.
    Medics at the time didn’t have much hope for Malcolm, but he has come back and made a remarkable recovery.


  6. Maristella Tagliaferro

    Great read, thank you!
    And “Psalm singing, the reciting of Indian puja, Sufi Zikhr, Buddhist sutra chanting or mantra. Practising this kind of tuning in groups (as I experienced) powerfully tunes mind and body”: I do as well, it is also illuminating 🙂


  7. Pingback: … the frottage of life … | Course of Mirrors

  8. Pingback: … a cartography of the psyche … | Course of Mirrors

  9. Lovely post Ashen, thank you! What a delightful man as is your tribute!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I really wish that I could read this book! I have his later book, “Symbols of Eternity” (also a great read), but have been unable to find this one anywhere for a reasonable price. It is now out of print, and the only listings online are priced at many hundreds of dollars.

    I’ve checked the publisher’s website, which says that it will not be reprinted. It lists no contact information for Malcolm — only a link to the website for the title (which is no longer working). I’ve tried contacting the publisher directly to see if there’s any chance of them releasing it digitally or if the rights for it are available.

    There seems to be a lot of important information that took hard work to assemble and it’s a shame that it should be stowed away in collectors’ shelves away from the public. There are many others aside from myself who would gladly pay the sticker price for a digital copy of it.


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