It begins with a date.


It is four days since returning from Dubai.

The day already carries great significance: it is the release date of The Fountain, a film deeply connected to the events of Ilkley, its plot centred on a quest to find a mythical Tree of Life.

A few days later, I am researching the history of Ilkley when I learn that not only had Charles Darwin stayed in the town, he was here when On the Origin of Species was published.

I already knew Darwin had spent time in Ilkley, "hydropathising" at one of the town's water cure hotels. The flagstone labyrinth on the edge of town is part of The Darwin Gardens, named in commemoration of the famous biologist’s residence, while the words on the entrance stone come from one his greatest advocates, TH Huxley, also known as “Darwin’s Bulldog.”

What I hadn’t realized until now is the exact timing of Darwin’s stay, a piece of information brimming with significance. Considering the magical events unfolding in the town, I am fascinated by the juxtaposition: the man whose ideas have been used above all others to argue against a spiritual dimension to the world was residing just a few hundred yards from the Swastika Stone on the very day his ideas were released into the public domain.

It is while delving into the history of this event that a certain date leaps out at me.


It was on this day in 1859 that the trade sale of Darwin’s book took place, leading the biologist to write that he had “heard from Murray today that he sold whole Edition of my Book on first day…” The “first day” to which Darwin was referring is November 22.


The publication of On the Origin of Species is generally celebrated on November 24. However, the trade sale of the book took place two days earlier; this is the date referred to by Darwin (in a letter written on the 24th) as “first day.”

Ilkley Wells House | Otley, Yorkshire

My dear Huxley

I have heard from Murray today that he sold whole Edition of my Book on first day, & he wants another instantly, which confounds me, as I can make hardly any corrections. But a friend writes to me that it ought to be Geoffroy DE St. Hilaire: my memory says no. Will you turn to a title-page & tell me soon & forgive me asking this trouble.

Remember how deeply I wish to know your general impression of the truth of the theory of Natural Selection.—only a short note— at some future time if you have any lengthy criticisms, I shd be infinitely grateful for them. You must know well how highly I value your opinion.

In Haste, for I am bothered to death by this new Edition | Ever yours |
C. Darwin

I become intrigued by the symmetry.

• Darwin’s great work is released to a wider audience on November 22.
• The Fountain is released to a wider audience on November 22.

• Darwin’s work is about the biological origin of the species.
• The Fountain is a mythological term for the source of all life, the spiritual origin of the species.

• Darwin’s work leads to the development of the evolutionary Tree of Life.
• The Fountain is about a mythological Tree of Life.

“The Fountain” is another name given to Kether, the highest sphere on the Tree. Just as this sphere relates to pure spirit, so Malkuth, the lowest sphere, relates to pure matter – the physical realm. Using these correspondences, the two dates can be mapped onto the Tree:

NOVEMBER 22, 2006: “first day” of The Fountain – spiritual origins.
NOVEMBER 22, 1859: “first day” of On the Origin of Species – biological origins.

As well as the dates, there is symmetry to the locations:

Two polarities, each connected with creation – one spiritual, one physical – leading to two Trees of Life. From Kether, the Fount of Creation, grows a mythological Tree of Life. From Darwin’s work grows an evolutionary Tree of Life.

Is it possible for the two to stand together?