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Brethern of Purity

From: "Mark Swaney" 
Subject: Brethern of Purity
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 14:06:54 -0600


    In performing a search for some curious stuff, I found your web
site, surprise, surprise, surprise.

    Anyway, in doing a rather detailed and in-depth study of the history
of magic squares (and other mystical mathematical devices), I have come
across the "Brethern of Purity".  They were an Islamic group from the
10th century in the area of Iraq.  They published an encyclopedia of
mathematical and philosophical knowledge that is noted as being the
first document to give the magic squares 3-9.  This is an important
achievement because they would be the first to construct magic squares
of the unevenly-even variety (6, 10, 14, etc.).

    As usual, the early work on the squares was associated with the
religious ideas of the Brethern of Purity.  The Editor of the
Encyclopedia was one of the Imams or "Popes" of the Islamic people, I
have little to no knowledge of the history of Islam, I will have to
learn more about it, it is seems to be important to my continuing study
of the relationship between mathematics and mysticism.

    Anyway, back to your web page, you list the book "The Mystery of
Numbers" by Annemarie Schimmel, which I am most certainly going to get
through inter-library loan, but first I want to ask you if you have a
copy of the book, what do you think about it, etc.

    My searching in the field of mystical mathematics is turning out to
be very interesting and I think that a lot of undiscovered territory
awaits treatment and publication.  If only I were 3 people instead of
only 1.  As someone who has obviously spent a great deal of time
researching these arcane subjects, maybe you can shed some light on the
motives.  Why on Earth would anyone devote their energy to these
things?  Has doing so done you any good?  Any harm?  Any opinion on the
wisdom of the search?

Mark Swaney

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