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Vortices and Light-Time
Aug 04, 2009 at 10:11 PM

images/stories/fontenell_jardin.jpg"Cosmic matter whirling about a center or axis" is how the Oxford English Dictionary defines "vortex." But of course vortices (or "vortexes") are much more. They are both experienced phenomena and pictographic symbols found in descriptions of the universe starting from deepest antiquity. Vortex forms -- that is to say nested circles, spirals and rotating funnels or whirlpools -- are familiar to us from ancient artworks and religious iconography, all the way to today's material sciences. In physics, vortex dynamics govern the behavior of fluids and air. But vortices are also seen in astronomy, most familiar in images of galaxies including our own Milky Way, and in depictions of black holes that challenge the limits of our comprehension. Increasingly we encounter vortexes in cutting edge physics, in specialized fields such as light on the "quantized" level -- photon confluences, virtual particles underlying visible reality. It is then no surprise that vortices are also considered spiritual, and the so called New Age has adopted the vortex too: in places such as Sedona, AZ and several others, visitors report having experiences and encounters with psychic energy vortexes that are palbable and have a powerful effect on the mind and the senses. In a psychic, religious and mystical context, vortex images are found in the folk doctrines of Peru; in the Finnish taika (magic) tradition; in Siberian shamanism, Celtic myth, ancient Greece, Egypt and more. Indigenous Australian art going back more than ten thousand years provides perhaps the oldest known examples of vortex imagery. 

The Judeo-Christian tradition has examples as well. God speaks out of a whirlwind to Job in the Old Testament, where a supernal "pillar of cloud" -- intelligent energy in a in a mysterious rotating form -- also leads the Israelites in the desert (we thank Dr. Bernard Levine, Yeats scholar, linguist and symbologist, for pointing this out). The Bible has other instances -- there is Ezekiel's vision with its rotating wheels of fire; there is also the pool of Bethesda (New Testament) where an angel stirred the waters. Spirals, the DNA helix and indeed the deformation of spacetime itself around black holes, are all instances of vortex forces. Thus it seems that micro- and macroscopic vortex phenomena are everywhere. 

The western philosopher generally given credit for re-introducing vortices into scientific and philosophical discourse and for elaborating their nature, however, is the 17th C. philosophical and mathematical prodigy René Descartes, the "I think, therefore I am" guy -- who was also the "Cartesian Coordinates and mathematical superscript guy" (for more on Descartes and vortices, visit our Vortex of Descartes page).  

[image: from Bernard de Fontenelle's wildly popular (for its time) book, Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds, 1724. Fontenelle also published a more serious study of Cartesian vortices, Théorie des Tourbillons Cartésiens, 1752. Copyright: we believe this image is in the public domain. If however you have rights to it, please notify us at basyevortex | at | yahoo dot com.]


The Morpho Sulkowskyi-- a Vortex Detecting Device

On the quantum photonic level of electromagnetic energy, matter is aware of mind -- particles change their behavior if they are observed. Nanotechnology deals with objects 100 nanometers, down to about 1/10th of a nanometer (one nanometer is one billionth of one meter, or one millionth of a millimeter). A human hair is perhaps 100,000 nanometers in diameter. The carbon atom is about one Angstrom, or one tenth of a nanometer in diameter, and a proton (one of the residents in the atomic nucleus) is less than a femtometer in diameter, and a femtometer is a mere millionth of a nanometer. Quantum photonics concern levels way below this -- and in fact these are dimensions of "virtual particles" that, although they are constitutive of matter in some sense, do not behave materially. The interaction between quantum particles and light is way below the nano- and femtoscale of the atoms and molecules that are consituents of material objects, but without being limited to the laws applying to matter. Quantum-level behavior of light, and the interaction of light and matter, has become one of the most fascinating frontiers of science. 

Emblematic of the promise of these domains is the family of Morpho butterflies. The Blue Morpho (pictured), an icon of eological Costa Rica, is a visually striking cousin of the Morpho sulkowskyi, which in turn has become a living nanotechnology laboratory in the wild, found in the Tropical Andes region of S. America, especially in Ecuador and Peru. Nano-optical science is interested in the Morpho family because the iridescence of the wing of a Morpho sulkowskyi harbors secrets: emblematic of tropical microclimates, these butterflies are teaching us about the most puzzling dimension of physics: the relationship of light waves and cognition, thought and matter.


It was discovered that the Morpho's sulkowskyi's iridescent wings present complex optical and crystallographic nanostructures which are in fact sensing devices. The morpho wings not only "see," they are by definition synaesthetic, that is to say, they cross the boundaries of different senses. The morpho's wings sense optical wavelenths that change in response to gases, which means that this butterfly "smells" by means of light. The colors on its wings are the product of changing light wavelengths in the presence of slight electromagnetic pressure exerted by molecules of gas in air. The iridescent colors created by these interference waves in the presence of different vapors vary precisely and predictably -- hence it is a form of cognitive capability not previously studied or even recognized.

GE received a $6.5MM grant from DARPA (Advanced Projects Research Agency -- part of the U.S. DoD and the organization that actually did invent the internet) to study and replicate the nano-cognitive structures of the Morpho Sulkowskyi for purposes related to defense. Such research is a small part of what Dr. Jeremy Ramsden, a nanosciences professor in Kitakyushu, Japan and Editor-in-Chief of Nanotechnology Perceptions, refers to as the "nano-bio-info-cogno confluence." Because nanophotonic phenomena have revealed vortex like behavior, the Morpho may also help in de-linking the notion of psychic energy vortices -- i.e., those vortex phenomena related to mental phenomena and cognition -- from the domain of exclusively New Age theories. The scientific may for the first time stand on the same ground with the paranormal and psychic. There have been many efforts to connect the experiences of vortex energies in Sedona, Arizona to paranormal and mystical affects, and the explanations have often stretched credulity. It now appears that the secret to Sedona's vortexes and their psychic dimension is more likely to be explained via brain chemistry and changes in the perceptual field via scientifically validatable mechanics involving nanophotonics and perception, than by a mystical projection or the minerology or magnetism of the red rocks. 

In that context, then, the vortices of Basye, Virginia, are of yet a different sort from those of Sedona (which are referred to, in the plural, as "vortexes"), and one which will bring us much closer to details about scientifically validatable subtle energies. For one thing, Basye is a verdant, green landscape of valleys and above and underground streams. But before getting into specifics about Basye's ecology and energy envelope, we should probably ask, in a New Age sense and a scientific one: what is "vortex energy," and why should we care? What are vortex locations? What is it about Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, Sedona, the Église St-Germain des Prés, and the energies people claim to experience at these locations?

Well - we might care, first of all, because the molecular cloud out of which our solar system was formed, was nudged by a pulse of energy into vast rotational motion, a vortex. According to prevailing scientific views, that vortex gradually developed a luminous center, the sun, and planets orbiting that center. So our beginnings are commingled with vortices; our solar system is a product of vortex dynamics and, actually, it is quite possible that the Big Bang itself is as well. In other words, vorex energy is what the world is made of. 

"What if" questions in astrophysics are annoying because they invite wild speculation and can't be answered definitively, but we will permit ourselves one to which Stephen Hawking alludes. What if, in looking through 14 billion years toward the Big Bang at the beginning of our universe, we are in fact looking at a black hole "from the other side"? the matter of our expanding universe spewing out from the Singularity would have been sucked in through a black hole from another universe. We keep asking, "what is on the other side of a black hole?" -- Well, in that "what if" scenario, we are what's on the other side of a black hole; our entire universe is the other side of a Singularity that occurred in another universe. -- In any case black holes exhibit rotational force, which means that vortices also have a "dark side," and these manifest on a less cosmic scale on our planet as maelstroms, cyclones, and the like. The mechanics of this perilous aspect are described by a scientific law known as the conservation of angular momentum ("CAM") -- a physics-level explanation of how a vortex draws matter toward its center, and in the case of a Black Hole, irretrievably so. Not even light escapes a black hole. In fact, not even space escapes a black hole: after nearby matter implodes with sufficient gravity, space itself is plunged in. Light's 300,000 km per second in relation to space, can't overcome the space, the frame of reference for speed, being drawn in to the center. So in effect light trying to emerge from a black hole vortex is going backwards.

images/stories/nanowafers.jpgThe Morpho sulkowski. As we approach more powerful means of computing and cognition, nature often steps in to show that we don't need to reinvent the wheel. This butterfly teaches advanced optics, nanophotonics and vortex behavior of light, which, like a fractal fingerprint we find over and over on different levels is the latest place that gravity and substance engage in a cosmic dance. Although much of what is said about black holes is theoretical, similar vortex dynamics are safely produced in the laboratory on a hypermicro scale. At places like NYU, laser beams create gravity fields and rotational funnels using what is known as HOT technology (Holographic Optical Tweezers) in order to trap and manipulate minute particles -- thus vortices are involved at and below the nanoscale. Light can be "spun" by the presence of gravity and minute vortices are part of the interference pattern of lightwaves as they interact with structures such as the wing of the Morpho Sulkowski butterfly. These interference patterns are cognitive systems, that is they involve consciousness, defined as cognition of objects outside the cognitive structure itself. The Morpho Sulkowski's wings, as a case in point, detect vapors by means of optics. 

[image credit: GE Global Research. GE nanoscientists are using the morpho wing as a model for cognitive and sensing systems under a grant from DARPA. Radislav Potyrailo, GE scientist and lead on the project, notes: "...the iridescent scales of the Morpho sulkowskyi butterfly give a different optical response to different individual vapors, and {...] this optical response dramatically outperforms that of existing nano-engineered photonic sensors. Dr. Potyrailo's article on the project.]

An optical vortex, interestingly, presents the same image at its center that scientists believe a black hole will -- a dark point surrounded by a ring of light. And an optical vortex is, at least under certain conditions, also a singularity: its center is a zero point in the magnetic field. In terms of advanced physics, photons -- the particle phase of light -- are "gauge bosons," meaning, they are exchanged, and force is transferred, by means of virtual particles. Since consciousness is involved in the laws of probability that describe quanta, it is reasonable to ask whether consciousness is not affected by vortices which create singularities in the particle structure of light and of the brain itself. The question of why vortices have spiritual effects is more closely related to science, perhaps, than we realize.

The CAM is a basic material dynamic. It explains why a vortex turns faster as the radius of its spin is reduced -- a phenomenon you can verify by watching water drain in a sink: the tighter the circle, the more rotations it makes and the harder it is to escape its force. Tornadoes are faint copies of the same massive vortex power involved in the making of our solar system, and the CAM works on all levels from the macroscopic to the the submicroscopic. 

"Light can be twisted like a corkscrew around its axis of travel. Because of the twisting, the light waves at the axis itself cancel each other out. When projected onto a flat surface, an optical vortex looks like a ring of light, with a dark hole in the center. This corkscrew of light, with darkness at the center, is called an optical vortex." -- Optical Vortex, Wikipedia

Consequently, there are invisible vortices which affect our world -- studied by scientists in the behavior of matter and energy down to the nanoscale and below. And there are "spiritual" or "psychic vortex" phenomena, which have so entranced the New Age. Many people -- and not just New Agers -- report vortex experiences at certain locations -- though, granted, no scientifically rigorous study has been made of such experiences. Reports are that such experiences are associated with personal transformation, insight, realization, entry into deep inner focus, or in general, a sense of connection with the universe. Many people report feeling this energy in a physical, bodily way. Vortices, in this sense too, have been around a long, long time,except that somehow, for many people, they have been neglected, forgotten or buried by the advance of modern life. No theory offered for them to date really explains what they are or how they exert their power. But would it be so strange, since we are "star-stuff" ourselves, and since the night sky is evidence of the ubiquity of rotating, spiral forms in our universe, that our minds would in some way be susceptible, or sensitive to, the presence of vortex energies?


The World as Artifice? - Ridiculous... but wait... 

images/stories/electrospectrum.pngDo you remember The Matrix movie? -- or movies, there were several sequels.  There is a reason we ask.

For many people it would be very strange, if not somehow repugnant, to consider the possibility that reality -- including nature in its self-evident presence and every perception we have of "the world" -- might in any sense be an "artifice" or the outcome of a manufacturing process. "Your mother is a computer" jokes aside, it depends on how one understands "artifice." The notion of trompe l'oeil virtual reality is part of artificial intelligence studies, implicitly, and there is vortex theory attached to it that we should address. 

Many of us in the contemporary world have accepted the idea of virtual environments as at least a probable fact of the future, beginning with enveloping holography -- the picture is 3-D and it is all around. The move to tangible holography would mean that the images are tangible and that you can touch them "just like the real thing." Tangible holograms would be a big step -- but not nearly as huge a one as endowing the electronic product with biological equivalence. Virtual biology. 

The idea of human cognitive experience as a product, as the output of preceding phases, though not stated in exactly those terms (the electronic age is more likely to use a term like "fabrication" or "simulation"), has been implicit, even explicit, in wisdom traditions such as Vedic and Buddhist philosophy, for a very long time. Strictly speaking, even in Judeo-Christian terms, there is a "manufacturer"  -- God -- so that nature is a created thing. Whether you would call that an artifice gets into semantics and theology in a way that probably will not be solved here.... but the view of the universe as a product has history to it. In the 17th C. René Descartes, doing science while having also to do religion (thanks to the Inquisition), invoked God, or invisible intent, to explain the first movement of material bodies scientifically. Descartes already then broached a mathematical representation of perception (e.g., his famous "stone in a sling" examples contrasting apparent vs. actual momentum) -- mind as representation, in symbolic form, of the invisible. Today, brain science is trying to explain perceptions and feelings on an engineering model -- chemical / molecular activities.  A glance at a graph showing the electromagnetic spectrum, and the the narrow footprint of the human senses in that continuum, whether expressed as Frequency (Hertz) or Wavelength (Meters and fractions thereof), are sufficient to make one realize that we are part of a sea of energy and it is absurd to think that our part of this sea is separate from the rest. [image: the spectrum of electromagnetic energy, from the Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons -  Attribution Share and Share-Alike License.] The question then is, how is our part related to the rest? Enlightenment traditions present the mind as a fabricator (of illusions), and earthly life as captivity in a crypt (see, for instance, Avicenna and the Visionary Recital by Henri Corbin) -- but perhaps those notions need to be challenged as well. Today's digital media are acclimating us to reconsider mind and nature anew.

Convergence of Science and Spirit

The foregoing ideas have been given new life by studies of cognition and the brain, not to mention quantum mechanics, all of which suggest that consciousness plays a role not just in "showing the perceived world to us," but in creating it. These findings are not meant as an attack on objective reality, but as an explanation of it. It's not saying that there is "no images/stories/descartes_sling.gifreality out there," nor to claim "it's all subjective"; rather it questions the assumptions of the question. If there were a catastrophic event like a nuclear holocaust and mankind were obliterated, we can imagine the stars existing without us. That is rational. But we would also be lying, say some, because we would have smuggled into the universe our points of reference, our framework, sense of the tangible human-scale world. The textured skin of an orange, is what it is because we have a body that can touch it and senses that receive in a certain band of the spectrum; and it is so because there is some body, like the human body, for which "solidity" exists -- since we know in absolute terms, according to physics, the most solid objects are not solid. A graphene sheet has more holes than atoms, but we do not experience it as a net. Thus in science the inner and the outer occupy a new interwoven and biochemically mingled status, the existence of which we did not suspect "back in the day." Science had abandoned metaphysics, but now metaphysics has returned in a guise that is scientific and spiritual. Vortex beliefs in a spiritual sense, and vortex sciences, are on a course of convergence -- as are certain trends in media, computer science and entertainment. [image: a sling illustration from Descartes'Treatise on Light, written in 1632 but published posthumously three decades later.]


Pop Culture Gets Metaphysics -- "The Matrix"

Back in 1999, a futuristic film called The Matrix -- a bit of Zen stylishly encapsulated in special effects and a "post-apocalyptic" look -- evoked discussion, both from fans and from people who were reluctantly drawn into the dialogue. "Regular intellectuals" and humanists were delighted or annoyed, depending. The ensuing debate about the relationship of electronic media, virtuality, metaphysics and morality -- a discussion Hollywood still hasn't figured out how to reproduce or "monetize" (otherwise the formula that made the Matrix phenomenon might have been images/stories/baudrillard.jpgcopied dozens of times) -- took everyone by surprise. At its core was the film's allegory about cognition in a future age of machine intelligence*, provoking debate of ideas from Vedic yoga and Buddhism, to Plato and Descartes, to Marshall McLuhan, Jean Baudrillard (spoofed in the drawing; copyright unknown), postmodern social criticism and even Giorgio Armani

*[Cognition in the Age of Computers: see Ray Kurzweil's 2005 book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.]

In a word, The Matrix proposes that the world we live in is a fabrication, created by means of advanced computer code. The intent of the Wachowski brothers notwithstanding, being fabricated does not need to mean that a world is unreal -- it just means there is a process preceding perception and determining its contents; equally it means that consciousness can be disassembled into its quanta, like light, which is a wave, is quantized in photons. That's the scientific view. Thus in The Matrix, you can either see and take for real the objects created by "code" (these "objects" being, more or less, equivalent to the external world a.k.a. "matrix"), or you can see the code itself, the very fabric of energy responsible for rendering the perceived universe. In the case of The Matrix that would be electronic energy and, in a larger sense, electromagnetic energy, the stuff of nature. It is a contemporary idea, but strip away the technology motif and it is right out of oriental philosophy. More precisely, it echoes the Buddhist meditative tradition which the movie has been accused of trivializing. 

The Matrix was violent enough to turn off a lot of people who would otherwise appreciate its much-discussed allusions, but the fabric of higher vibrational energy, represented in the movie by "code" (computer code), is the subject of intense interest for followers of "enlightenment traditions." Scientific understanding of energies in terms of frequencies, wavelength, amplitude and so on, has only piqued this interest. The visible spectrum is a small part of the electromagnetic array, and above and below what we experience are the other frequencies of which our experience is a mere "slice." Thus, some believe that one of the guises of higher consciousness, or one of the forms by means of which it announces itself, is "vortex energy," and thus one might argue that vortices are what The Matrix movie is about.

Drenched in Digital Rain

images/stories/digitalrain1.jpgAs The Matrix shows it, at the threshold of the vortex, there is a disruption of ordinary awareness, and a kind of liquification of material forms -- a transformation of the impermeable into the permeable, and of opacity into a transparent electronic gel. A new medium emerges -- a plasma in which temporal events are slowed, not quickened. In The Matrix, this dimension, in which light and matter combine, is called "bullet-time," because on that level of perception a bullet's flight is optically resolved and slowed to an almost hallucinatory degree. The vortex medium is discovered via the "melting" of solid objects into light vibrations, and as this gelatinous and sensible stuff emerges, the world is optically resolved into code -- visually represented as a waterfall-like curtain (called "digital rain" in the lingo of the franchise), streaming with symbols and glyphs. These symbols would normally be invisible, like the internals of software to the user, but they would assemble the perception of a world. [image: from the Wikimedia Commons, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2]  Thus in The Matrix, our world -- the home of six and a half billion souls on earth -- is a sort of spell within which the conscious mind will be embodied and trapped unless it realizes the truth of its situation. That is the challenge put to Neo, the main character of the film. Get enlightened or get destroyed.

That is, more or less, also the setting of Buddhism, which is focused on the awakening of the mind to its true nature and its true situation. The plot asks whether Neo, the main character, can arrive at this realization and see the "digital rain" for what it is. If he can, he will also acquire mental abilities such as hyper-sensory perception and the slowing of time (to "bullet time" ), which of course make for excellent special effects. When at the climax of the film Neo first learns to see within time, the results are spectacular: 

Neo looks out, now able to see through the curtain of the 
Matrix. For a moment, the walls, the floor, even the 
Agents become a rushing stream of code.

[from the screenplay of The Matrix, by Larry and Andy Wachowsky, 1997]

Physics of the Virtual: the World at One Foot per Nanosecond

Since "virtualization," "simulation" and the "virtual" itself seem so abstract and mental, it is odd to think of them as something that could be conceived as physical or studied physically. But if something is perceived, it has some correspondence in substantial space, be it the movement of photons in visual perception, or just biochemical, molecular events in the brain. The virtual is physical images/stories/tom_light.jpg-- even if it makes us think anew what we mean by "physical." (And since vortices are perceived, felt, experienced, they too are physical in some way, even if there is no measurably elevated magnetic energy at vortex locations). 

Part of the cognitive puzzle here is that light is responsible for visible things, but we don't see light itself -- not as physics says it is, anyway, in waves or particles. That's because we are bound by our bodily mind-state into a localized frame of reference (the French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty called it being inserted into time by our body), where light reveals the world but itself remains concealed (because of its relative velocity). Light is hidden in the things it reveals. [image: Tom the cat. © The Basye Vortex™ 2010.]


Why Space IS Time, Or How Long Is One meter?

Here's an oddity that should jolt our thinking: the speed of light, the space it traverses per second, is defined in terms of time and distance (300,000 kilometers in one second of time); but once this is obtained, this "light-time" is turned back on space and it is used to define spatial measure exactly. In other words, the stately meter, so rationally placed in the system of division and multiplication by 10 that is the metric system to which the meter gave its name -- indeed, the royal among measures -- this very same meter conceals a secret: it is a unit of time. That is to say, spatial distance is in fact time. How long is one meter? You would expect the answer to be in some unit of distance but in fact the answer is that the exact length of one meter equals a certain fraction of time. More precisely, a fraction of one second of lightspeed. So the meter is used to define how fast light moves; but light's movement defines how long a meter is.

This seems contrary to reason, but only because we think of space as a container, and of things in it as contents, and of time as something related, but different. But in fact, a quantity of linear space measured by a yardstick -- is really a unit "light-time." Time renders space for perception -- space ISimages/stories/1000pxOndeelectromagnetique.png time, and so are the things in space. Anything with dimension is apprehended in time. We know about this in the abstract -- we all know that light takes years to arrive from the nearest star -- but we don't really reflect on the fact that time is involved in rendering the most immediate experiences of which we can conceive. [image: from the Wikipedia, under the GNU Free Documentation (Attribution Share Alike) 1.2 License; showing the transverse electric and magnetic frequencies of light as it moves, in this graph, horizontally.] The current worldwide standard for the exact length of one meter, is a hyper-precise amount of time: one meter of space is the distance travelled by an electromagnetic wave, in a vacuum, in exactly one 299,792,458ths of one second (there is a second, more precise way of measuring this, but it also involves TIME rather than spatial units to define what a meter is). If light renders visibility and the perceived world, one meter of it is created in that amount of time, about one 300 millionth of one second. In one billionth of one second, light travels approximately 30 centimeters or about twelve inches, which on the earth of Einstein and Hawking, thus becomes better defined as one light-nanosecond (although this does not have the precision of the definition for the meter, it is a handy way to think of "how long" is one foot). 


Mapping the Rings of the Vortices

Because this is the speed limit of light, it is also the speed limit of events -- i.e., it is the speed of perceived reality. Nothing that happens at a distance from us can reach our senses, or impact our bodies, faster than the amount of time required for the electromagnetic force of that event, the "report" of its material reality, to get to us. If the sun imploded, we would not know that for over eight minutes; if Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, were to "go supernova" at this instant, we would know nothing of it for nine years; so it would have happened, but "not really." Space is light-time perceived, light renders the distance we see, and this light-time is event time. images/stories/lizard01.jpgThis lag of event and perception always exists, it is constitutive of our bodies and of the universe: things are "in" space, but they are time. Every visible object is pushing or shedding these rings of time around itself, imprints of its own form in light, and those are transmitted through space -- and ironically what science is finding now, so-called primitive people were representing, consciously or unconsciously, thousands of years ago. Electromagnetic radiation is a transverse wave, which means that its motion is perpendicular to the direction of travel, and thus a "front" is created. We are not used to thinking of it that way, because while we readily accept the notion of time with respect to things like the speed of sound, and the obvious lag it takes to reach us, we assume a background of a steady reality within which the sound travels. Electromagnetic energy in its various sensible states, however, IS that "steady reality" itself,  and we know it bends by respect to gravity, so that the fixed background against which we measure things is not in fact "fixed." From nine feet away, nothing can reach us faster than nine nanoseconds. [image: Australian aboriginal lizard. Attribution to come.] That is such a minute amount of time that as a practical matter it makes no difference at all; but this lag in perception is all important for brain science, physics, metaphysics and now, movies -- and to the understanding of vortices. 


The Elephant in the Lake

If vortex energy actually has something to do with our experience of time -- the window of the now -- then it is fair to speculate that we become aware of vortices, whether as geographic locations or experiences in our conscious space, to the extent that we are in fact being drawn into this expanded frame of experiencing. As both space and the visible world are rendered in light-time (or "happen" in light-time), we see the result, not the process, but we would be effected by the vortex before we were consciously aware of it, which may explain the frequent "there is something about this place" references regarding Orkney Springs, Lake Laura, and the hills around Basye. Descartes believed not only that space is composed of vortices, but that light is a "liquid," that is to say, it presents itself to the senses as a kind of rippling plasma, beyond which or in the center of which is concealed the ponderous, vast heartbeat of the universe, which Vedic yogis sometimes compared to a metaphorical elephant. Thus we would all experience the cosmic elephant from our position and location -- we wouldn't directly see the powerful forces of which it is made. 

The relationship between the inner process and the result is paralleled by that between the execution of code (as it is called in information technology) and the matrix; it is also the relationship between perceived thing and the substrate energy, the electromagnetic ground, images/stories/vortexelephant.jpgwhich makes that perception possible. When Neo suspends time in the movie, he gets INTO time, he gets into that lag -- the "now" opens, and time itself moves like waves of plasma in which even bullets are as slow and gentle as dandelion puffs riding a lazy breeze. This process is totally invisible normally -- but not always, say the sages, and says science too, at least in theory. [image: Vortex Elephant, Iraq, 16th or 17th C.] 

If the world were a painting being created anew moment by moment, no matter how attentively we look, we could not see these puffs, nor the "brush" as it creates the image, or the hand of the metaphorical "artist" wielding this brush. Is it possible, then, instead of merely seeing things whose perception is made possible by the movement of light waves through space, to see the electromagnetic waves themselves -- the waves of time, in effect ? Is it possible to see the process by means of which visuality itself is rendered? The character Morpheus asks Neo a form of this question in the film. 

Such goals may have seemed absurd and unrealistic at best, or crackpot speculation at worst, from an objective viewpoint 50 years ago; but today it could be argued that few things are more realistic. In light of current research into the role of the brain in the perception of time and the composition of cognition, the relationship between conceptual reality, sensory experience and the nano-structures involved in "sensing" -- that is to say, the biochemistry of the perceptual process -- these notions are startlingly not ridiculous at all. Vortex energy is a perceptual portal: the invitation to perceive the light-time of which the physical world is a subset or, in quantum terms, a possibility. The Matrix leverages these ideas.

Thus while The Matrix looks like a digital reality martial arts film aimed at teenage boys, it also aspires to be a "Hermann-Hesse-on-amphetamines" type of Siddhartha vignette about the journey toward knowledge. In the process, it becomes a lesson about vortex energies. (In Hollywood spiritual advancement is quantified, it seems, in terms of superior wushu martial arts skills ... ) Except this version of enlightenment is not just a noumenal inner event, an encounter with wisdom; it has an external counterpart, a change in the plane of consciousness, by accessing the world in its fundamentals, as the malleable energy of which it is made, like a play in which electromagnetism is the principal character. Of course it seems patently absurd to think that a human experiencer can perceive quantum states of matter, when she or he is composed by those states; but from the quantum, to the atomic, to the molecular, to the cellular, to the level of everyday consciousness is nevertheless a mapping which has been done in theory, and which is being partly virtualized in our day.


Light-Time and Vortex-Time

images/stories/tourbillons_principes258px.jpgThe Wachowski brothers, who wrote the script of The Matrix, had a lot of sources. They borrowed from the work of French postmodernist Jean Baudrillard (d. 2007), whose book Simulacra and Simulation makes a cameo appearance in the film, appropriately, as a hollowed out book containing computer disks; the notion of the evil superintelligent computer that is driving the matrix and deceiving us about the nature of reality, is derived from the work of 17th C. mathematician-philosopher René Descartes; and so on. (Critics have discussed themes of the Matrix plot as parallelling both Descartes and Plato.) [image: tourbillons -- vortices -- from Descartes 1644 work, The Principles of Philosophy. Image is in the public domain.]

But Baudrillard's concept of simulated reality, or more precisely reality as simulation --one of the main ports toward which our technomedia culture is headed at rapacious warp speed -- is central.  Virtuality -- that is, machine-generated reality -- is an entertainment Utopia, and represents a motherlode of profits, but it goes farther than that because it represents a transformation of what we experience and where what we experience comes from. Not everyone is happy with this. Baudrillard basically accused contemporary western culture of erasing the difference between representation (a map, a picture, a report, a computer-generated object, a narrative) and the reality to which it refers, so that the virtualization or "simulation" (the computer term) is the reality. The effect of this, he wrote, is to abandon reality, transforming it into a "desert" ("Welcome to the desert of the real" -- a line actually used in The Matrix). So by technological means and by Orwellian cultural appeasement we are fed with electronic eye candy, and instead of the richness of an organic world to be explored, we are offered a pixel-thin simulation which we take for the real, no longer caring that there is a difference.** 

**[To be noted: Baudrillard repudiated The Matrix. In a short but famous interview, he basically said that the Wachowskis, and those who saw in their movie an expression of Baudrillard's views about simulation, had misinterpreted and misappropriated his ideas about the new problem of virtuality by seeing in them old Platonic notions about illusion. In fact, the French author believed that the movie makes the very error he warned about: concretizing an abstraction, making it physical, which is exactly what virtualization does to digitally generated concepts. Baudrillard was invited to assume, but declined, the role of advisor to the later installations of the Matrix series of movies. An English translation of the 2003 interview is here.]

images/stories/simulacres500v.jpgBaudrillard's is a moral argument before it is a metaphysical one, and it resonates in many quarters -- it becomes political, metaphysical, psychological and ecological. In the political sphere, the notion that something becomes real because it is asserted to be the case and launched into the media, thus virtualizing it, is much on display these days. The Wachowskis "got Baudrillard," and plucked from his work an allegory about human cognition which, combined with an understanding of the basics of machine intelligence, they dramatized into a simple good vs. evil story, with the fate of the world at stake. Technology is consciousness, the platform for manufacturing the simulation, and the simulated reality -- the simulacrum -- becomes the evil antagonist in a the fictional universe of the screenplay. 

Baudrillard called this simulated dimension "hyper-reality." It is the world in which the simulation and the real are one and the same, much like for many of us, world events and what is represented on HD-TV are one and the same. The map is the territory, and the territory is a fiction made real by means of a map that is no longer outside of us, in the manner of a thing, but the environment enveloping all things. 

So if that is the situation, how is our state of captivity to the map to be interrupted? The quantum leap would be to move away from the naive notion that the world, whether arrived at via the computer or the brain, just "exists," and to realize that it is in some sense composed, "made up." The world is make-believe -- and we believe, until we see the wizard and the strings and pulleys. When Neo mentally slows down time enough to see the matrix as it is, he gains the ability to suspend bullets in their path, and the implication is clear: the world happens at the velocity of consciousness, and it is mind-speed and not any clock that sets the indiscernible pulse that measures motion, change and time. Ordinary mind is the speed of the Matrix -- to master events within the Matrix, Neo has to see within time by detaching from ordinary mind.

The double-entendre within all this is that while it is clear that the Matrix is a virtual computer-generated reality, it leads to a parallel discovery: examining the Matrix that way, makes us aware that the organic, natural world itself may be similarly manufactured, the result of a process of which we are not conscious, but which nevertheless takes place. Vortex energies are one point of entry into the process, into the interiority of time and the manufacturing of our own personal make-believe. That is to say, we are already, as human beings, thinkers and experiencers, engaging in virtualization -- this commonality with machines is what makes it feasible that machine-intelligence could ever fool us. This is not to say that the mind is a computer -- a controversial topic among AI experts -- but that we are already making our own representations, which allow us to know for certain that what we see is real. So it is the very process of certainty which is virtualized, and which ties us to artifice.

Seeing the Vortex Around You Starts by Understanding Why It Is There

The pop culture version of a new "digital Buddhism" may be relatively new, but energy vortices (or "vortexes" as they are called in Sedona) are as old as the tradition which holds that spiritual enlightenment is possible. Specific knowledge of how to "shift up" a level in awareness -- or how to shift within time, as Neo -- is the holy grail of the New Age, and it is the subject with which yoga and other meditative disciplines are concerned. This presumes that there are levels to shift up to -- and here is where science has obliged the mystics by providing concepts such as string theory, ten-dimensional universes and many other wonders. Pete A. Sanders Jr., one of the few people writing on energy vortexes who also has a good understanding of "the new physics," specifically frames vortex energy in this kind of multidimensional understanding of where our physical plane, and indeed our universe, are located in the ten-dimensional matrix of worlds.

The ideal of arriving at higher consciousness by a natural mechanism and without resorting to drugs or artifice, has been alive for millennia -- now it is simply more informed by technology and science. By making "higher consciousness" less abstract and less bound to religious or mystical concepts, the worlds of technology, computers, artificial intelligence, virtuality, brain science, string theory and a more scientific view of mind in general, make this issue accessible to people who otherwise may have little interest in "metaphysics." Traditional spiritual "initiates" don't have to abandon Milarepa, Arjuna, Jesus or Gandhi for the sake of embracing the conclusions of science.

In short people are realizing that aspirations of experiencing higher consciousness are not just addle-brained mystical fluff entertained by escapists, but a search for the authentic. The human mind, bound to the senses, functions in a very narrow spectrum or bandwidth of energy frequencies (visible light is a mere sliver of what is -- we see in the wavelength range of 380 to 780 nm) and, relative to our limitations, higher awareness is a scientific objective, not just a spiritual one. It correlates not just to "wisdom," but to higher sensory receptivity, a broader opening of what Aldous Huxley called "the doors of perception." What is sometimes called "crazy wisdom" is the ability to act on higher information without being consciously certain of having received it, because our sensory world serves our preconceptions and may lag behind. Acquiring greater sensory abilities by reference to the total spectrum of energy vibrations, therefore, and becoming more holistically conscious, no longer represent a metaphorical cow-path to nowhere, but the main highway to evolution. 

All of this serves to remind us that movies like The Matrix provide a talking point, but they are notimages/stories/nasa_airplanevortex.jpgcausing the change in our thinking -- they are reflections of a change that has already taken place. Consciousness of vortices ("vortexes") is an acknowledgment that changing to a higher frequency -- moving within spacetime -- is possible. And it is such a powerful experience that even a little taste of it can be life-changing. [image: NASA, on Wikimedia Commons. Vortex created by passage of an aircraft as revealed by colored smoke.]

It is hard to argue how much we know, when science is showing us, seemingly every other day, how wrong we have been about the nature of reality, not just in details but in terms of the fundamentals. The world is not at all what we think it is, and in another way it is exactly what we think it is. For over a thousand years, mystics have taught that we are in a trap. Wikipedia's article on String Theory simply notes: "Another possibility is that we are 'stuck' in a 3+1 dimensional (i.e. three spatial dimensions plus the time dimension) subspace of the full universe."

Mystics and scientists are, like it or not, engaged in the same game, and vortex energy is a phenomenon that many people believe is relevant to the human project of broadening the bandwidth of consciousness. It's why some people seek gurus: the guru is the vortex; others seek science, and science too is a vortex. It is why geographic vortices tend to become holy sites (but don't need to, in our scientific age). There has been no need to wait for digital reality or for a "wink-wink" Hollywoodized version of Eastern wisdom, conjured by means of special effects to feed the violence-jaded neurons of the western sensibility -- we're all already interested.

We can say that the earth has an organic soul, that its flesh is the land, its bones are the structure of the rocks... its blood is the pools of water... its breathing and its pulse are the ebb and flow of the sea. 
-- Leonardo da Vinci


Basye and the Network of Vortices

From ancient Egypt to modern America - from Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain to the temples of Peru - people have acknowledged that extraordinary places possess energies that inspire us in extraordinary ways. What is new are the increased number of people who are taking vortexes seriously, and the consequent elevated interest in visiting vortex spots, understanding them better, getting "in tune" with them, and gaining an insight into why some places in nature and some specific locations of non-electronic artifice (one way of categorizing what the church of Saint-Sulpice is) conceal pools of energy that makes us more focused and peaceful. In addition, many people, in trying to comprehend psychic vortices, are now seeking to complement the mind-boggling metaphysical theorizing about them, with scientific perspectives that do not abandon organic nature or mystify it needlessly. 

Many of the older theories ("older," in this context, means up to about 2 decades ago) set vortex energies in a kind of nineteenth century framework ("it's magnetism"). This is understandable, because people realized that vortexes were mysterious and attractive, therefore they must be magnetic. Interestingly, although electro-magnetism is a fundamental force involved in mass and atomic coherence, it is not sensible as such to humans in its quantum, universe-constructing aspect. But newer information, in fact, suggests that vortices may be involved on a quantum level as a creative agent of the universe -- the rotating energy behind the fundamentals of consciousness, time, and matter. Pete Sanders, an MIT-trained scientist who writes on Sedona's vortexes, also steers people toward an explanation of vortex energies that combines science, spirituality and different dimensions of energy, but he steers away from the magnetism scenario. 

With that in mind, it would be good to separate some of these threads of thought: 1) the cosmological view of vortices, first articulated in detail by French mathematician and philosopher René Descartes in the 17th century, envisioning space as a liquid (yes), and all "emptiness" as substantial -- part of a mosaic of rotating energies or whirlpools responsible for the motion of astronomical objects physically and, by extension, for mediating between time and eternity, both physically and spiritually; 2) the New Age view of vortex energy as a not-yet defined spiritual force manifesting via planetary power spots such as Sedona, Machu Picchu and Stonehenge; and 3) the scientific perspective of vortices as physical forces, based largely on the behavior of fluids and air, but lately finding that vortex dynamics may be related to fractals, chaos theory and even quantum mechanics (ref. to the work of Wiktor Lapcik -- see link below). Descartes is due for a radical reinterpretation, and his vortices ("tourbillons" as he called them) may be rediscovered to be newly relevant not just on astronomical but on quantum levels. Fontenelle, writing over a hundred years after the death of Descartes in his Tourbillons Cartésiens, did not know anything about the quantum plane, but he knew Descartes was onto something, in spite of the fact that Newton had debunked the Cartesian explanation of gravity. 

However the New Age being what it is, none of that mattered. In the second half of the 20th century, to the extent that spiritual vortex phenomena were associated with "earth energies," as they generally were, they were described as magnetic energies, effects of ley lines or just images/stories/botticelliv160.jpg"geomagnetic anomalies." People found them fascinating, believing such energies are sources of power, enhanced awareness or spiritual attunement. Many still seek in them psychic or healing qualities, sensing in vortex energy a pristine or virginal aspect connected to feminine religious and mythological figures, from Isis and Venus to Holy Mary and Mary Magdalen. [Image: Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" - detail.] Some believe vortices are the chakras of the planet (Sanskrit "chakra" means "wheel" -- i.e., rotating energy), bringing us into spiritual alignment; others promote the notion that a vortex is a sort of Jacob's Ladder through the dimensions and that by setting the right intention and learning how to "fly" in the soul dimension, we can journey up the rungs to more profound truths; accordingly, places such as Peru's Machu Picchu and Cathedral Rock in Sedona, as well as the plein-air cathedral of Orkney Springs VA, have become pilgrimage destinations, and theories of their vortex potencies are abundant. 

The understanding of what generates or transmits vortex energy is not restricted to natural earth phenomena alone; man-made structures are also invoked, Stonehenge being the obvious example. (This is not a small point: if Stonehenge is a vortex, it is not the rocks themselves, as such, that generate or conduct the energy; it is their arrangement, or the intention of the builders and our relationship to these, that create the psychic spell.) Obviously, there are many man-made or consciously designed places other than Stonehenge that have a notable psychic effect. Celebrities from Napoleon to Shirley MacLaine have spent a night in the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid, hoping to receive a mystical revelation or undergo some great personal transformation as a result, and there is currently a deep fascination with the Paris churches of St Germain des Prés and St-Sulpice (the latter catapulted to global fame by The Da Vinci Code).

Among remarkable locations and structures - man-made or natural - with an unusual psychic presence are: Egypt's Giza, site of the Great Pyramid; also in Egypt, El-Genizeh in Cairo, and  Akhetaten, the site of the capital of Pharaoh Akhenaton and of his wife, Queen Nefertiti; more than one place in Jerusalem; St. Catherine's monastery in the Sinai desert; the famous Stonehenge of England; the Abbey of St-Germain (St. Germain des Prés) and the church of St-Sulpice, on the Left Bank of Paris; at least four, perhaps seven, locations among the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona, where psychic Page Bryant coined the term vortexes and defined some of their basic properties; Peru's Machu Picchu; the re-emergent mystical centers of Orkney Springs and Basye, VA; the Dordogne River by Domme, France; and many others (without even considering the eastern hemisphere...).

Some of these places are less known, or almost forgotten (Akhetaten is an example -- there is almost nothing that remains of the great Temple of Aten), but many have not only sustained and rewarded our interest - they've spawned an industry of books, charts, tours and events supporting the fascination with and thirst for the experience of mystical energies. "Machu Picchu was acknowledged as a sacred vortex long before the Incas, going back to the Lemurian times of ancient Og," claims International Spiritual Experience -- which arranges tours there and to some other global sites. "Situated in the core of a unique double vortex, this sacred energy is of massive potency. It is primarily female, goddess in nature," the text (attributed to James Tyberonn) continues. The tour organizers promise to "work with crystal skulls to assist in raising consciousness and connecting with the activation of the ancient vortexes and portals blossoming at this time." (Please note this reference does not constitute an endorsement of the tour company or any other travel agency.) Balancing all this, or converging with it, are serious scientific tracts such as Wiktor Lapcik's The Vortex Theory of Matter and Energy.

Copyright: © 2002-2010 Studios St-Sulpice; All Rights Reserved, unless otherwise noted.

Quick links: José Argüelles - The Call of Pacal Votan | Vortex Energy Events GuideUnderstanding Sedona Vortexes - about.com |  Wiktor Lapcik's The Vortex Theory of Matter and Energy - opens as a PDF |

Basye, a New Age Mecca? Not even close, but yet ...

By contrast to some better-known centers of subtle energy, the Basye region (in which we include the hamlet of Orkney Springs, VA) is not much of a New Age Mecca: although there are some web references to the vortices, Basye has a low profile in guides to the occult; there isn't a single new age bookstore or crystal shop in evidence -- not even an astrologer's or Tarot reader's shingle hanging in town center. There are no vortex tours. Yet the Orkney Springs / Basye area has its place among the "power spots" of the planet. With its unlikely credentials -- Basye is a resort- and retirement-community with a large proportion of military and government careerists -- this vortex challenges expectations in many ways. Protected by being on a dead-end highway (Rte 263), the resort is terraced on the hillsides of a little valley, lined with ski slopes, an airstrip, a golf course, and with a lake created by means of a dam. It is all only two hours by car from Washington DC, in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

However, if you look at neighboring Orkney Springs -- very much part of the vortex area and the secret concealed behind Basye's resort façade -- things look different. It is possible that in the seventeenth and eighteenth century Orkney Springs and Basye were a single community before being separated by the geo-social equivalent of mitosis. Orkney was left with the predominance of native American feeling; Basye with the European influences, mostly German, but also including that of the French Huguenots, one of the families of which gave its name to the community (see The Basye Genome for more detail). In the 19th century Orkney was prominent on the well-to-do health-resort calendar, hosting genteel and not-so-genteel entertainment, depending. Today, Orkney Springs and Basye, separated by a mere 1.5 miles, are still bound by shared ancestral DNA. Orkney is a charming, tiny village without the taint of bars, restaurants or secular pastimes like golf. Its massively large main building (96,000 sq ft), said to have the largest conventionally supported (no pillars) ballroom of any wooden building in Virginia, offers conference space for spiritual retreats; it also has a collection of original art depicting the Holy Land, by a remarkably gifted early 20th C. water colorist. The village hosts an annual classical music festival by the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra; plus the settlement has healthful springs (many of the original ones now lost, but a few remain). The Cathedral of the Transfiguration, hidden behind some trees on a hillside, is a stone church without walls or roof; it is the cathedral seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. 

A Search for the Shendo. The Orkney Springs resume is only strengthened by the fact that as in Basye if not more so, visitors really do notice -- and wonder about -- the unique energy they experience while there. It is only fairly recently that the possibility that the area was a native American sacred site, and that it presents unique and powerful mystical energies on which its Christian themes are an overlay, have begun to pique the curiosity of visitors. Hence there is increased interest in traces of the Virginia Indians of the area. The "Orkney effect" extends to Basye, and there is also a literal underground sharing. The Shenandoah Valley is a "karst" region** (characterized by underground streams, dissolution of the bedrock; caverns, grottoes, disappearing / reappearing springs), and Lake Laura, artificially created but pristine and magnetic and the major body of water in adjoining Basye, in fact contains some of the sacred waters of Orkney Springs. Stoney Creek, source of much of the water of Lake Laura, has its headwaters in Orkney Springs, and the creek has possible unknown subterranean tributaries. 



If you put stock in numbers (i.e., if you are of the "there are no coincidences" school), Basye, VA is also exactly 3,600 aerial miles from Machu Picchu and exactly 6,000 miles from another vortex center of occult significance, Akhetaten, Egypt, also known as Tel el Amarna. The former is believed by many to have been the site of alien visitations. The latter was the capital of Akhenaton, the Pharaoh known to history, somewhat misleadingly, as the "first monotheist" - a distinction he earned for his adoration of the body of the sun, that is to say the solar disk; Akhenaton's wife, whom he adored with an almost equal fervor, was the enigmatically beautiful Nefertiti. The "wooh-wooh factor" of numerical coincidences aside, there are several parallels between Basye / Orkney Springs and Akhetaten, which we will discuss elsewhere on this site. 

[ image: Winter. The humble but magnetic rivulet bisecting the famous "Orkney Ankh" -- the area inside the loop where Rte 263 turns back on itself. ]

[** NOTE on karst terrane: According to the U.S. Geological Service, karst aquifers provide some 40% of the fresh drinking water in the United States. The Texas Hill Country (a large area west of Austin, TX, known for its natural beauty) is also a karst area, and the town of Wimberley, not far from San Marcos, TX, is a purported vortex area -- which we found out, believe it or not, on a visit to Town Hall! There is a high-volume, karst-type spring called Jacob's Well in Wimberley, feeding a scenic creek in town. The bed of the very shallow Blanco River, which flows through town as well, is good example of surface karst formations, and there is something captivating about many stretches of the Blanco's polished surface of clear olive- and light green tones over a shallow washboard of limestone.] 


Star Goddesses

We'll leave it for others to decipher the meaning of these coincidences - and whether Basye, as it is alleged, shares a similarity, on the inner energy level, with Machu Picchu, Akhetaten or Saint-Sulpice - the latter being the Paris church that, according to many, plays a role in the secret of Templars and in images/stories/stelle_hibou260.jpgthe sudden wealth of one Abbé Saunière. Saint-Sulpice was built - starting in 1646 - on the ruins of a smaller and much older church - not to say temple - which may have been dedicated to the Black Madonna or Black Virgin, a form of Holy Mary traceable to the Egyptian mother- and light-goddess Isis, after whom the city of Paris is named. Isis is associated with the star Sirius and with watery places... The Shendo (Senedo) native Americans who dwelled in the Shenandoah Valley up to perhaps three hundred years ago also have a feminine association and are likewise of stellar origin - they are according to myth the "daughters of the stars." Some believe the Basye / Meem's Bottom energy center was active a thousand years ago when the predecessors of the Senedo lived here, after which it fell into quiescence .... The time line is very difficult to construct. It appears that this matrix of star-energies, associated with Pleiades and the Seven Sisters, is becoming "etherically vitalized" again, and experiences supporting that view have become something of a quiet sensation. (image: antique Italian Tarot card, "The Star," showing stellar waters being poured downward.)


Fragments of History: Saint-Sulpice in Paris ...

"Energy channels" are not just New Age concepts. Priests and spiritual practicioners have spoken of them ever since humankind has contemplated the relationship of the spiritual and material worlds. And those realms, over the millennia, have been mapped according to beliefs about energy flows that sustain and connect them. 

In some cases there was a relationship between mystical order and scientific mapping. For instance, 18th C. religious authorities in France found a role for the so-called "Paris Meridian" - predecessor to the Greenwich Zero Meridian upon which time zones are based - in theology.  At the famous Saint-Sulpice cathedral in Paris, a copper line marking the Meridian and terminating at an obelisk ("Le Gnomon") within the church, was placed in the floor of the transept. This marker, occultly known as the "Rose Line," was viewed as both an astrophysical reference and a vein of mystical energy.* The Paris Meridian is located 33 degrees* from the Holy Land - which has a lot to do with why 33 is a special number for some occultists (e.g., "33rd degree Masons").

... and the red rocks of Sedona

Back in the 1970s, if not earlier, some people in Sedona, AZ became convinced that the red rocks which characterized the desert landscape, and which had been featured in many western films, emitted a vivid psychic energy. In the early 80's, a gifted psychic named Page Bryant* traced this palpable energy to specific locations; she is generally credited with applying the term "vortex" to confluences or eddies of subtle energy issuing from Sedona rock formations. Page Bryant has since moved on to Asheville, NC, another New Age center, but the term "vortex" and the names of Boynton Canyon, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock and the Airport Mesa have a permanent place in the lexicon of American pop mysticism. Today Sedona and locations in France, Egypt, Peru and elsewhere, are widely recognized as being key parts of "the planetary energy grid," a network of living energies that is a vital part of earth's spiritual infrastructure.


The End of the World 

As noted in the foregoing, Route 263 is the only Virginia state highway that dead-ends. Well, actually it loops and returns upon images/stories/spring_plaque.jpgitself, like the top of an ankh. The place where it does so is Orkney Springs - the quiet settlement of white-painted houses, a historical hotel complex and a little-known and unique open-air church. It is 1.7 miles past Basye on Rt. 263, and less than that from the border with West Virginia. Almost from the first, Orkney Springs has been a refuge from the pressures of life, and today the village welcomes a steady stream of tourists, vacationers and spiritual conference participants. The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is a conference center operator in Orkney Springs and it owns the beautiful plein-air cathedral set among the trees. But for the occultist, the seven ancient springs (now mythical since only three or four are known) and the energies they emit, form the main attraction.


Basye and Sedona: lighting up the subtle energy grid in America

The sheer poetry of this setting in combination with legends of ancient springs and the mysterious Senedo tribe lends itself to powerful inner experiences. There is clearly something uniquely American in the Basye Vortex, as there is in Sedona's "vortexes." The Basye, VA region, in a strong parallel to Sedona, was a site where a native American people lived and then disappearedimages/stories/swover_ev200.jpg without explanation. In the Basye area it was the Shendo (or their predecessors); in Sedona it was the Anasazi. But unlike Sedona's rocks - Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Boynton Canyon, the Kachina Woman and Airport Mesa - which act like transmitting stations, the "power areas" in the Basye area are mostly near verdant openings in the earth - springs, creeks, stream-beds, pools, rivers. Meems VA, a power spot some 12 miles from Basye, is famous for a covered bridge over the North Fork of the Shenandoah River; it was also the site of a Shendo or Shawnee tribe settlement over 300 years ago. The bridge is located just off Rt. 11, south of the town of Mount Jackson, actually in Meems, VA -- named after one of the early families in the area, whose name you see in records dating to the 1700s. As with Sedona, one of the mysteries is how this native American influence colors the energies of the place today. 

Interestingly in view of the water symbolism of Orkney Springs, VA and of Basye, the Shenandoah Valley is synonymous with two emblems: the derivation of the name "Shenandoah" from a Senedo indian creation legend called "The Daughters of the Stars" - a story which also concerns water - and the famous "Seven Bends of the Shenandoah River." Please note though that there is no agreement on where "Shenandoah" came from. 



It will come as no surprise then to learn that Orkney Springs had, in the 18th C., SEVEN springs, whose waters were characterized as "chalybeate" (pron. "kha-LIB-ee-at" - containing iron salts), with widely recognized healing properties. The presence of the springs doubtlessly contributed to the rediscovery of the Basye Vortex. In the "old days" chalybeate springs were believed to be both "tonic" and "hematic," meaning the waters could help harmonize the body and also purify the blood. Of the seven springs, the location of perhaps four are known today.


Basye - the derivation of the name

If you pronounce "Basye" for someone, they will generally assume that it is spelled b-a-s-e-y. So it is in fact curious: why do the two last letters seem inverted? The answer may be that the name Basye is of Hebrew origin, and in fact it comes from the Old Testament. It is a relative of names such as Baskin, Batyah and probably Bath-sheba, as we'll explain in a moment. (Our Basye Genome page has more on this.)

From a New Age perspective, springs represent the feminine divine, or the goddess. Through mythological and psychological association, it is thought that springs share the spiritual frequency of the constellation Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters. The fact that Orkney has seven springs and the Senedo native Americans were known, according to legend, as "The Daughters of the Stars" (see the quote from author Julia Davis on our Senedo page) seems, in view of these connections, like a fascinating coincidence. 


The name "Basye" is related to all of these concepts. 

The most vivid link between Basye and ancient myths of springs and rivers is via the Old Testament, through which Basye is also connected to Egypt. That is to say, the name "Basye" is rooted in the Old Testament account known as "the finding of Moses," and thence it has arguable connections to the Egyptian myth of Isis and Osiris. 

 In the Egyptian account, Osiris was tricked by his enemies into entering a box (or coffin) - after which his body was hacked to pieces and cast in the river Nile. Isis and her sister Nephthys - the grieving women in whom, it is said, Holy Mary and Mary Magdalen find their archetypes - recovered the pieces of Osiris's body from the Nile and reconstituted him through prayer and divine assistance.  

The Old Testament too has a story in which an important being is rescued from the river Nile: the finding of Moses. Tradition holds that the daughter of Pharaoh who found Moses was called Batyah, or Bathia; she is so named, for instance, in two places in the Old Testament (Chronicles 1 4:8 is the usual main reference), in a midrash (Biblical commentary in Jewish Scripture), plus in the purported Book of Jasher (the Hebrew Sefer Hayasher), which is not included in the Old Testament but to which two references are made. The variants of "Batyah" or "Bathia" include Bas-shevah (or Bathsheba), and by contraction the name Basya or Basye. "Bas," "Bat" and "Bath" all signify "daughter." The name means either ""daughter of God." Bath-shevah can also mean seventh daughter. The Biblical Bath-sheba, who became the wife of David, was also the mother of Solomon (or wisdom); just as her earlier namesake, the Egyptian princess Batyah (tradition holds that this was the name by which the Hebrews referred to her), nursed Moses, who also represented wisdom as the leader of the Jews. 

Many people are drawn to the Basye - Orkney Springs Vortices, and perhaps a reason for that will become clear later to each person individually. But regardless of how you got to this website - whether you've heard about the Basye vortex or about the Seven Mystical Springs of Orkney or perhaps you met someone who has been here and experienced first hand what the excitement is about - if you are interested in natural energies, and subtle energies with a spiritual charge, you have come to a place worth exploring.


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