All attempts by the orthodox to solve the riddle of the number 666 and the remaining apocalyptic riddles have failed. They have all failed simply because these attempts at solving the various riddles have been based solely upon efforts to make of the Apocalypse a work of religious and/or political literature circumscribed by the old Hebrew tradition and the time period of the early Roman persecutions. They have failed further because they have not appreciated the very unique and ingenious quality of the book.

The orthodox should have looked beyond their own limited perspective. Had they viewed the Apocalypse in the larger context of the classical Greek and Hellenistic Era the apocalyptic mysteries would have been relatively easy to decipher. They did not do so, however.

Even to this day they continue to not to do so. In consequence, humanity owes a great debt of gratitude to James Morgan Pryse for publishing in 1910 the secret key to decoding the true meaning of the Apocalypse. The knowledge contained therein is the birthright of every human being.

The "cleverness" (sophia) of the puzzle of the number 666 lies in its very simplicity. We might think of the "man" referred to in the passage in a more generalized manner instead of assuming the reference is to a specific individual, whether Roman emperor or leader of some competing religious faction.

When a well known anthropologist writes of the "evolution of man," we know that the reference is not to a specific man, but rather to mankind as a whole. The same could apply to the particular passage in question as well.

Recall that the author of the Apocalypse invites "he who has wisdom (the nous)" to count the number of the beast. The words "the nous," happen to be the familiar term in classical Greek philosophy for philosophical insight or intellect.

This particular faculty was considered by the ancient philosophers to constitute the higher mind or noble and exalted portion of man, that part capable of intelligence over and above the mundane concerns of day to day life. To them it was the highest achievement of mankind to develop the powers of the intellect and thus to come into direct knowledge of reality, which they viewed as something distinct and superior to the lower realm of experience.

The word nous naturally suggests the correct answer to the riddle. And that answer is "the phren," which is the cognate term in Greek philosophy for the "lower mind", or the mundane part of man. That part subservient to the requirements of living in an experiential and physical world.

The numerical value of he phren is 666. It requires no alphabetical gymnastics nor translations of words in and out of two other languages to produce it. And, as the author of the Apocalypse implies, anyone with any degree of philosophic insight, or at least some formal training in philosophy, ought to be able to figure it out. Let us tentatively identity he phren as the solution to the riddle and see where it leads us.

Now, if this were the whole puzzle it would be juvenile. But the number 666 and our tentative indentification of he phren as its solution are, in fact, only a part of and the clue to an elaborate word puzzle which in its entirety is remarkably ingenious. It is time now to decode this puzzle.

In classical Greek philosophy the physical body of man is considered to be an objective microcosm, an epitome of the larger material world. To each aspect of the material world the human physical organs and their functions correspond and form an intimate and direct relationship.

The Greek philosophers understood the body as the organism through which the immaterial soul, dwelling within every human, contacts and interacts with external nature. Thus, the body's various organs correspond to and are the respective instruments of the various powers and faculties of the soul. The details of these correspondences formed the basis of much speculation.

The several schools of thought in classical philosophy and the many specific philosophers describe and define these various correspondences somewhat differently. There exists, however, a relatively broad area of general agreement.

In brief, according to classical Greek philosophy the human body has four principle life centers, which are termed the "somatic divisions." These may be noted as:

1. The head, or brain, the organ of the nous, or "higher mind."

2. The region of the heart, including all of the organs above the diaphragm, the seat of the "lower mind" (the phren, or thumos).

3. The region of the abdomen or navel, the center of the passional nature (epithumia), comprising all the emotions, desires, appetites and passions.

4. The procreative center, the seat of the vivifying forces on the "lowest," or animal plane of existence (akrasia).

From this description of classical Greek philosophy you will notice that the phren, which we have tentatively identified as the apocalyptic "Beast," is the ruling faculty of one of the four somatic divisions of the physical body. From this correlation, we might naturally draw the tentative inference that the three other animal symbols described in the Apocalypse likewise correspond to the three remaining somatic divisions.

Accordingly, the "Lamb," Iesous, would of course represent the most exalted of these, the nous. Now as I noted earlier the word Iesous yields the numerical sum of 888. Curiously, the literalists have long realized this number of Jesus the lamb, yet they consistently failed to make any connection between it and the number of the beast.

The red "Dragon," "the old serpent, who is the Devil and Satan," 6 fits neatly into place as representing the third somatic division, epithumia. This word yields the number 555.

The Greek philosophers generally held the notion that man's passions and natural appetites hindered the ascent of philosophic reason and intellect. With the exception of the Epicureans all held varying degrees of contempt for those parts of the body below the diaphragm.

The "False Prophet" takes his place in the fourth somatic division as the generative principle akrasia, meaning sensuality. Akrasia has the numerical value of 333. Plato applies to this principle the word akolasia, which has the same meaning and the same numerical value. Of note as we shall see, applying the term "false prophet" to this life center is significant in the implications aimed at the underlying source of the Apocalypse.

Incidently, ancient writers often ignore the four fold division of the body, as does Plato himself. Plato assigns the four faculties of the soul to only three somatic divisions.

This does not mean that those philosophers discredited the four physical divisions, quite the opposite. They were simply assigning a hierarchy of value. Plato, for one, did not consider akolasia to represent a faculty of the soul at all, but rather the animal instincts. Others, however, do give the complete fourfold description.

Plato does suggest his adherence to the fourfold system in his analogy of the chariot. He devotes his philosophical arguments to the charioteer and the horses, but the chariot itself, the physical body and its requirements, remains. Plato's black and white horses, by the way, make their appearance in the Apocalypse only thinly disguised.

If we place each of these four names, along with their corresponding numbers, in the form of a simple diagram representing the four somatic divisions of the human body, we may note readily that the puzzle is still only partly solved. For evidently the author of the Apocalypse intended a complete series of numbers.

Gnostic Chart Concealed in the Apocalypse

A space is left where the diagram, to fill out its meaning, requires the "good serpent." For its counterpart, "the bad serpent," has already been included.

Recall that to the classic Greek philosophers the uncontrolled human passions and emotions hindered and prevented the ascent of wisdom and philosophic intelligence.

Now if the unbridled passions and emotions of man may be described allegorically as a bad serpent, this serpent then in a metaphysical sense symbolizes ignorance and superstitious belief. These are indeed impediments to wisdom and intelligence. The counterpart of this metaphorical "bad serpent" in a metaphysical sense must be the opposites of ignorance and belief. These are knowledge and experience. For knowledge banishes ignorance as experience dispels belief. This second serpentine force, as I shall explain in due course, turns out to be the fundamental creative energy underlying human existence. We shall examine it at length in its proper place.

For now, it is sufficient to say that in the New Testament this force is called the paraclete (parakletos). It may be described metaphorically as a spiralling electric current of an incredible voltage. It reposes nearly dormant near the base of the spine supplying the merest trickle of life force sufficient to sustain the basic functions. It awaits silently to be put into conscious activity by the creative person intelligent and brave enough to discover it. Whereupon it sends forth a triple current 7 of creative energy which force serves to awaken the individual man or woman to his or her true identity and full potential.

The spiralling electric force, "the coil of the serpent," 8 is the speirema. Its number is 444. I shall have much more to say about these "serpents" later.

The strong action of this creative tripartite force upon the human brain produces noetic perception, or direct cognition, as defined by the classical philosophers. This power, in terms of modern depth psychology, we would now define and describe as the faculty of intuition. Far from being the whimsical perception assigned by popular modern myth only to women, intuition is a powerful psychic faculty whose development and exercise is prerequisite to any real personal development and integration.

To the classical philosophers this faculty is the highest degree of knowledge. They called it episteme, and it is beautifully defined by Plato. To express this in the diagram it becomes necessary to insert the word epistemon, the philosophic and also esoteric equivalent for the religious and exoteric word christos. The numerical value of epistemon is 999.

Another space in the diagram then requires the "cross." Recall that Iesous Christos (the nous and its faculty epistemon) is crucified in Golgotha, the place called a skull.9 This mysterious and unknown place is thought by the literalist orthodox to have been a low knoll just outside of Jerusalem. Luke renames the place Calvary, a word supposedly derived from the Greek kranion and if so a further clue to its real meaning.

The mysterious Golgotha is located in the middle of the forehead and directly behind the eyes. It is the location of and corresponds to the pineal gland. And it is here the triple current of the creative force ascending first through the sympathetic nervous system and then through the spine forms a cross of conscious energy, stauros, whose number is 777.

Further, the individual who has attained the personal experience of this higher degree of self knowledge and understanding forthwith becomes the conqueror and the experiencer of an expanded awareness.

"The Conqueror" and everything that it symbolically represents is the allegorical hero of the apocalyptic drama. Its name must be placed at the head of the list, as ho nikon, with its number 1,000. We shall discover in due course the true identity of the apocalyptic conqueror and its full significance. For the conqueror represents the method without which all else in the theory of consciousness of the Metaphysic of Ecstasy remains meaningless.

Finally, two additional terms, which bear indirectly upon the ascent of the speirema fill out the diagram. These are aisia, meaning auspicious and from which is derived the word Asia, and oikia, meaning home or dwelling. The number for aisia is 222 and the number for oikia is 111. The two terms taken together refer to an incarnation favourable to self understanding, as is the incarnation described in the Apocalypse.

Thus Asia becomes the favourable "homeland of the soul." Oikia is the house that is not divided against itself, the integrated personality.

Numbers of the Names

The diagram thus completed makes clear in outline the basics of the gnostic teaching hidden in the Apocalypse. It treats of the speirema and its energizing through the vital centers of the body as the individual attains consciousness of them and their many specialized modes of operation.

These various mental and psychic faculties and abilities comprise the vehicle of the self expression of consciousness within the individual human being. With expanded awareness, or realization of self, there results a symbolic rebirth, or "resurrection," of these faculties and abilities, which have been put on the back burner, so to say, during personal evolution.

They become transformed into what may best be defined as an unlimited vehicle of self expression. This is described allegorically and somewhat literally in the Apocalypse as the "solar body," (to soma heliakon) because it is both self luminous and radiant. Self luminous in the sense of enlightening oneself by the power of intuition. Radiant in the sense of a radiating presence.

This unlimited solar vehicle of self expression is symbolized as a city which comes down out the sky,10 enveloped in the radiance (doxa) of the God. It is portrayed with poetic imagery of exquisite beauty.

The description of the city, with its wealth of detail, should well be enough to show very clearly what the city really is. But the author of the Apocalypse has supplied us conclusive proof of the true meaning of this symbol by inserting within the city's description a puzzle.

The angel who was talking with me had for a measure a golden reed, to measure the city, its gateways, and its wall. The city lies foursquare, and its length is as great as the width. He measured the city with the reed, by stadia, twelve thousand; its length, width and height are equal. And he measured its wall, one hundred and forty-four cubits, [according to] the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.11

The expression "by stadia" (epi stadion) shows that the measurement should not be mistaken simply and literally as stadia. It is rather to be understood as in comparison to stadia. In the authorized version, the very important preposition epi, "by," is omitted as redundant.

This merely demonstrates the untrustworthiness of a purely empirical and literal, as well as uncomprehending, translation. The preposition epi is hardly redundant. It is instead the significant clue to the correct solution of the riddle. Epi indicates that we must make a comparison and not simply take the measurement in stadia.

The comparison intended is to the one other measurement of the time and place of Palestine which could reasonably be substituted for Greek stadia, or to stand "by stadia." We would say "to stand for." That measurement is very simply the ancient Jewish mile.

It naturally follows then that the figure should be reduced to Jewish miles. Therefore, by dividing the figure 12,000 by 7 1/2, the number of stadia to the Jewish mile, we obtain the quotient 1,600. This represents the numerical value of the three key words to soma heliakon, "the solar body."

The "wall" of the solar body is simply its self luminous aura, or "radiance," he doxa. The letters of that name, however, amount to only a total of 143. As a puzzle therefore that number would be too transparent. Nor would it have harmonized with the other numbers given in relation to the celestial city.

The twelve thousand stadia, twelve gateways, twelve foundations, etc. all have a real or apparent reference to the zodiac. Therefore the author increased the value of he doxa to 144, the square of twelve, by adding another alpha. This additional alpha he calls "the measure of a man, that is, of an angel." In the kabalistic formula, "I am the Alpha and the O(mega), the first and the last," alpha is the symbol of the primal man, or naive level of self consciousness, before its long sojourn through phenomenal existence. O(mega) is the cognate symbol of the perfected man, the completed or integrated personality who has passed through the full cycle of conscious evolution and has attained to the final and mature level of self consciousness.

The Cubicle City Unfolded

The pointed reference to an angel (aggelos) confirms this metaphor. The word is borrowed from the Essenes who used "angel" to refer to their Levite priests. Angels in the Apocalypse, however, symbolize most of the many powers of the human psyche. These in the naive state are largely unconscious. Only when we have attained conscious mastery of these various powers can we consider ourselves to be fully mature human beings and responsible for ourselves in a metaphysical sense.

The authorized version adds the words "according to" which render the passage meaningless. Even if we grant the existence of angels in the full literal sense, the passage would remain meaningless because there is no "measure" of immaterial things, angelic or otherwise.

The hierarchy of angelic beings, both holy and demonic, began in Essene theocracy and was elaborated by the orthodox by superstitious fabrication. The powers that angels symbolize are within ourselves. It is within ourselves that they must be first encountered and then mastered.

The heavenly city is described as having the form of a cube. To solve this element of the puzzle it is only necessary to unfold the cube. Thereby we disclose a Latin cross, which represents symbolically the human form, a man with outstretched arms.

Further, although the author also speaks of measuring "the city, its gateways, and its wall," he does not give the measure of the gateways. This is for the very obvious reason that it is wholly unnecessary. The word "gateway" (pylon, from pyle, "an orifice") sufficiently indicates the nature of these. They are the twelve orifices of the body. In the Sanskrit Upanishads the human body is often called the twelve (also nine, eleven and more) gated city of God's abode. As we shall presently see, the name "God" itself is yet another cipher.

Click here to continue
Click here to return to beginning of this chapter
Click here to go back to previous chapter
Click here Table of contents and Dance of Ecstasy Home Page