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801 - The Central Shaft in Geomancy / Geomantics

and Brian Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy

By Mike Singleton - MikeydredPublished 3 years ago Updated 2 years ago 3 min read
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A Geomantic Definition

This is post 801 from my Seven Days In blog.

In 1974 Brian Eno had a dream, or was inspired, and came up with a chorus for a song "The True Wheel" on the album “Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy” which went:

"We Are The 801,

We Are The Central Shaft"

He wrote the song and later, apparently discovered that the number 801 represents the central shaft in Geomancy / Geomantics . This has always fascinated me but always seemed far too esoteric for me to understand or delve into. It was practised throughout Europe and Africa in the Middle Ages and still has its acolytes today.

Now I have the biggest information repository ever at my disposal. I wrote this as I listened to the song, and am still bamboozled by the cabbalistic and magical symbols and numbers that make up the geomantic character set and also wondering about their purpose.

Geomantic Symbols

One of the definitions is:

" a method of divination that interprets markings on the ground or the patterns formed by tossed handfuls of soil, rocks, or sand. The most prevalent form of divinatory geomancy involves interpreting a series of 16 figures formed by a randomized process that involves recursion followed by analysing them, often augmented with astrological interpretations."

But there are many and this another of the many magical rabbit holes that we can fall down and follow and just wonder how these methods and symbols were arrived and and what is their purported purpose and power.

Yarrow - I don't know what this is

Which may or may not pique your interest.

The song is from "Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy" , probably my favourite Brian Eno album, full of interesting side stories like the unique lithographic production of the cover by Peter Schmidt. All the images were similar in style but not identical as you can see on the cover above.

The album had a core band of five instrumentalists: Eno himself on keyboards and guitar, guitarist Phil Manzanera, bassist Brian Turrington, drummer Freddie Smith, and percussionist Robert Wyatt. Manzanera, who had played with Eno in Roxy Music, also participated in the writing and production.

The album is a loose concept album that addresses a variety of subjects that range from espionage to the Chinese Communist revolution. It alludes to pop-song structures, but Eno's lyrics play with themes of geopolitical intrigue. It never charted in the United Kingdom or the United States, but it got good reviews from critics. Since its release, the album has received even more critical attention and is continually played in my house.

When the album was released, Island Records in the UK and US distributed some of the lithographs to record retailers, disc jockeys and industry insiders.

At the time Eno was a fairly obscure cult artist, and many were used for displays, tacked up to walls, and ultimately discarded.

As Eno’s reputation grew, these lithographs became highly collectable but finding one in excellent condition became nearly impossible.

The vinyl version finished "The Great Pretender" on a closed groove so it might never stop playing.

Songs were produced using Oblique Strategies developed by Eno and Peter Schmidt to aid the recording process and resulted in incredibly accessible songs ranging through many styles including proto-punk on "Third Uncle" and "Put A Straw Under Baby" featured the Portsmouth Sinfonia who worked by enthusiasm rather than musical ability.

Here is your own personal Oblique Strategies tip

Anyway that's it for 801, my next post will probably be a little more on the normal side, but I hope this has made you want to at least listen to the album.

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