The psychedelic nature of Islamic art and architecture

Sam Woolfe is a London based freelance writer and blogger, yet this has not stopped him from sharing some interesting ideas and thoughts ;-)

Jalil Khayat Mosque

One that is certainly worth a read is The psychedelic nature of Islamic art and architecture where he takes a look at the psychedlic kaleidoscopic patterns which are found in Islamic art and architecture.

A common DMT experience is finding oneself in a vaulted dome structure. In DMT lexicon, ‘The Chrysthanemum’ is a gigantic, rotating, fractal flower that has a dome-like appearance. Terence McKenna said you could either pass through ‘The Chrysthanemum’ and enter hyperspace or stay put (if you didn’t take enough DMT). However, many DMT users also say the vaulted dome space is a revered destination and it’s where you go during a ‘breakthrough’ dose of DMT. McKenna himself called this post-Chrysthanemum place “the dome”, adding:

It’s softly lit, indirectly lit, and the walls—if such they be—are crawling with geometric hallucinations: very brightly colored, very iridescent with deep sheens and very high reflective surfaces. Everything is machine-like and polished and throbbing with energy.

Sam suggests:

It has been suggested that geometric hallucinations are a projection of the structure of our brain, stimulated in a variety of ways (e.g. drugs, conditions like migraine and epilepsy, near-death experiences, sensory deprivation, fasting, hypnagogia, and so on).

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran

I do agree that Islamic art and architecture are some of the finest traditional examples of this kind of aesthetic expression. Their striking similarty and resemblance to psychedelic experiences certainly suggests that they may have been inspired by entheogenics.

Graham St John (PhD) is Senior Research Fellow at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He is a cultural anthropologist specialising in event-cultures and entheogens. Take a few minutes and read his article The DMT Trip and the Mysteries of Hyperspace Travel on Chacruna, a Northern California group who strive to produce quality anthropological research on plant medicines and help propagate academic knowledge.

Astrological Geomancy in Africa

J Abayomi Cole

The science of Astrology teaches us one great lesson and that is that God does not reject existing knowledge because it happens to be brought to light or belongs to heathen nations, he adopts and purifies it for he is the author of all wisdom.” Professor Cole

This treatise was first delivered by lecture to the Astrological Society of London in 1899 by Professor J A Abayomi Cole. Astrological Geomancy can be defined as an occult science of ancient Kemet that was eventually introduced and shared with other tribes all across the African continent and is still practiced within the tribal traditions today. It includes tribal divination, astronomical configurations, the zodiac signs, tarot, math and science calculations, etc., using the map of the heavens to accurately make individual and event predictions that are influenced by the magnetic planetary forces and its influences on the earth.

Title Astrological Geomancy in Africa
Author J. A. Cole
Editors Kali Sichen, Kali Sichen-Andoh
Edition illustrated
Publisher North Scale Institute Publishing Company, 1990
ISBN 0916299120, 9780916299125
Length 61 pages


In those early days of the world’s history, when the gods associated with men and rendered them valiant help in all their struggles for existence, sacrifices were offered unto them. At these offerings they became so delighted that they came down from heaven in such great numbers that it was not possible to obtain sufficient meat to distribute amongst them.

Having cultivated a taste for flesh, and the worshippers not being able to supply all they demanded, the gods were therefore obliged to resort to various pursuits so that they might obtain food.

Ifa, the God of Divination, took to fishing. On a certain day Ifa returned from the sea hungry and exhausted, having caught no fish. He thereupon consulted the god Elegba what to do.

Elegba, in reply, said that there was near the forest a farm belonging to Orunga, the son of the goddess (Yemaja). It was planted by Odudura, the wife of Obatala (Heaven). It bore only sixteen nuts, and if Ifa can succeed to obtain the sixteen palm nuts from Orunga-who now owns the lands-he would, with them, teach him the art of divination, by which food will be secured for the gods without resorting to labour; for every one wishing to consult the Oracles will pay a goat, and knowing the anxiety of mankind to pry into the future, he was sure that the gods would thereby have more flesh than they would need, stipulating at the same time that the first choice of all such should be his.

Ifa at once proceeded to the farm of Orunga. He bargained for the sixteen palm nuts, promising in return for them to teach Orunga how to forecast the future, assuring him that by this knowledge he will become very rich, and at the same time be of great service to mankind.

Orunga went and consulted his wife, Orisabi, who agreed that they would part with the palm nuts, if by so doing they would become both rich and useful. Both of them set out to get the nuts, which they collected by the aid of monkeys. All, sixteen in number, were wrapped in a bundle of clothes, and Orisabi tied the bundle on her back in the manner in which babies are generally carried, and she with her husband took them to Ifa. Ifa received and took them to Elegba, who taught him, as he promised, the art of divination; Ifa in turn taught it to Orunga, who thus became the first Baba-alawo (i.e., Father of Mysteries).

Hence in all geomantic operations the Baba-alawoes use the common formula:

Orunga ajuba oh! – Orunga, I respect thee!

Orisabi ajubi oh! – Orisabi, I respect thee!

This accounts for the sixteen palm nuts used in Yoruba divination all corresponding to the twelve houses of the heavens + two geomantic witnesses + one geomantic judge + one grand judge obtained by the permutation of the judge, the fifteenth figure, with the figure of the first house, all equal to sixteen figures.

There are various methods of divination, either with sixteen stones taken from the stomach of an alligator, used largely by tribes in the interior of the Colony of Sierra Leone, or with sixteen ordinary stones, beans, palm nuts, or cowries.

‘Geomantic’ figures as fourth dimensional vectors

The fourth dimension is an abstract concept derived by generalizing the rules of three-dimensional space.  It has been studied by mathematicians and philosophers for almost two hundred years, both for its own interest and for the insights it offered into mathematics and related fields.


The figures are generated by applying the rules of vectors and coordinate geometry to a space with four dimensions.  A vector with four elements, such as the geomantic figures, can be used to represent a position in four-dimensional space.




‘The revealer of secrets’


The revealer of secrets

Possibly from Damascus (Syria), AD 1241-42

This unique instrument ‘calculates’ patterns of dots with different ascribed meanings, related to the planets, four elements, the signs of the zodiac and parts of the body.  Many scholars have written about geomantic divination, but there are no references to an instrument such as this.  One Arabic term for geomancy is ‘ilm al-raml (‘the science of sand’); originally, the patterns were created when the geomancer traced dots with a stylus across a board of sand or dust.  The geomancer then inspected and interpreted the dots, deriving further patterns, and eventually a result or forecast for his customer.  This instrument provides a mechanical means of tracing the dots and developing further patterns.  The rectangular tablet features a series of sixteen dials, each turning to display a domino-like pattern in the small window above.  Hence the inscription on the instrument’s face:

I am the revealer of secrets; in me are marvels of wisdom and strange and hidden things. But I have spread out the surface of my face out of humility, and have prepared it as a substitute for earth. […] From my intricacies there comes about perception superior to books concerned with the study of the art’ [of geomancy].

To use the device, the customer or the geomancer turns the first series of four dials, creating four dot patterns for interpretation.  From these four, the geomancer then derives a further twelve patterns, using the following dials to record each stage.  The semi-circular panel at the bottom provides ‘meanings’ for the final derived pattern, and the customer receives an answer to his question (‘should I marry X?‘, ‘will my business venture succeed?‘, etc.).

The triangular handle and ring at the top of the panel are features usually found on astrolabes.  This suggests that the craftsman, Muhammad ibn Khutlukh al-Mawsili, was also a maker of astrolabes, but there are no known astrolabes bearing his signature.  ‘al-Mawsili’ shows that Muhammad ibn Khutlukh came from Mosul in northern Iraq, a city famous for its accomplished metalworkers in the first half of the thirteenth century.

Rational forms of Divining.

The ancient Greek divinatory term Oionistic (from oio “thinking”, nous “understanding”, and hist “enquiry”) refers to the inductive art of the sane, those who inquire using the facility of human reasoning.  Many inductive or rational forms of divination have been compared with western scientific techniques.

Diviners are considered specialists who move from the boundless to the bounded.  They excel in insight, imagination and developed intuition.  During a divination they construct usable knowledge through linking diverse domains of representational information and symbolism.  It is the correct combination of inductive procedure and developed intuition that characterizes a good diviner.

The diviner’s individual creativity operates, jumbled with ideas, metaphors and symbols suggesting various possible interpretations.  Through the interaction of the client, these slowly give way to an ordered sequencing and to more limited interpretations, a technique not dissimilar to the psychoanalytical practice of free-floating attention.