Return to listReturn to list
Buy this book


His history book is a quite remarkable tour de force....the attempt to look at the past in the light of what will happen…is one of the most powerful tours de force that I've myself come across in the whole of my own academic life.”
Asa Briggs


I'm sure you've seen a genuine historical pattern and law.”
Ted Hughes

The Fire and the Stones: A Grand Unified Theory of World History and Religion


Published by Element in 1991
ISBN 1852302240
Price £39.95/$69.95 Hardback
World history/religion



Publisher’s Outline

The Fire and the Stones is Nicholas Hagger’s monumental Grand Unified Theory of world history and religion. Written in the tradition of Gibbon, Spengler and Toynbee, it demonstrates how all civilizations are born and grow by means of a vision of the metaphysical Fire or Light which created the Universe; and how, conversely, when the vision wanes and the culture turns secular, civilizations decline and their stones (temples, cathedrals, mosques) become mere tourist attractions.

In Part One Nicholas Hagger explores the Tradition of the Fire or Light as experienced and interpreted by mystics over a period of 5,000 years. (Experiences of spiritual illumination have been recorded since the beginning of history.) The book opens with the vision of the French philosopher Pascal, whose life-changing experience of the Fire on Monday 23rd November 1654 made such an impact that he sewed the date and time into his doublet and wore it for the rest of his life.

Part Two moves from religion to history and covers the growth and decay of the world’s civilizations from their origins in visions of the Fire or Light. It ends with a chapter on the future of Western civilization, in which Nicholas Hagger raises the theme of hidden history, in particular humanity’s age-old compulsive drive towards world government.  A 7-foot long chart that accompanies the book shows 25 civilizations passing through 61 stages.  The book predicted the end of Communism in Russia, and forecasted the conglomerate that became the European Union.


In Greater Detail

Part One of The Fire and the Stones tells the story of man’s experience of the metaphysical Fire and of the temples, cathedrals and mosques – the stones – it inspired. Starting in early shamanistic times with Central Asia and the Indo-European Kurgans, and then proceeding chronologically through a 5,000 year long tradition, Nicholas Hagger gives a comprehensive account of all the best-known recorded experiences of the mystical Fire or Light, which is widely regarded as the vision of God. The Sumerian ziggurats, the Egyptian pyramids, the Greek mysteries, the Iranian Fire-temples and the Chinese cult of heaven, along with the Buddha’s Enlightenment, Christ’s Light of the World, the Quaker Inner Light and the esoteric spiritual sun are just some of the many expressions of the experience of the Fire which has been known in all cultures and civilizations at all times, and which has inspired the world’s religions.

In Part Two, Nicholas Hagger presents the vision of the Fire as the central idea of 25 civilizations. The Fire is seen by a contemplative mystic such as Mohammed and passes into a new religion such as Islam, which spreads as the civilization expands. Nicholas Hagger offers a Grand Unified Theory of world history and religion and a new explanation (Universalism) for the rise and fall of civilizations, a theme that has occupied Gibbon, Spengler and Toynbee. Quite simply, civilizations grow round a human response to the vision of God as the Fire, which passes into their religions, and they decline through progressively secularizing stages then their central idea of the Fire becomes lost. There are tables for each of the 61 stages which can be readily assimilated. The whole pattern can therefore be grasped rapidly at first reading, and detailed study of each table and stage can follow later. Because living civilizations follow the same stages that dead civilizations have been through, quite detailed predictions are possible. A free fold-out chart 2.5 metres long (possibly the longest ever such chart) accompanying the book shows 25 dead and living civilizations passing through 61 parallel Fire-based stages and enables the whole scheme to be absorbed at a glance.

The Fire and Stones shows that contemplative mystics, not generals or economists, are the true heroes of civilizations because they perpetuate and transmit the central idea of their civilizations, the Fire. The rediscovery of the existential experience of the metaphysical Fire in this work revives the metaphysical vision and effects a Metaphysical Revolution in our time.


The Front Flap Says

Contemporary world history is in turmoil. The collapse of the Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe, America’s world dominance after the Cold War and the moves towards a United States of Europe all lead one to ask: is there a pattern in world history in terms of which such developments could have been anticipated? This profound, topical, enormously wide-ranging and prophetic book suggests that there is such a pattern, and that in the course of the past 5,000 years 25 Near Eastern, Eastern and Western civilizations have grown round the mystical vision of God as Fire which is found in all cultures, which is at the core of all religions and which has inspired their temples, cathedrals and mosques – the civilizations’ stones. Each channel the Fire or Light into its religion, and it declines in progressively secularizing stages as the Fire becomes forgotten.


All previous comparative studies of civilizations, for example by Gibbon, Spengler and Toynbee, have focused on their decline. This study focuses on their genesis in a central idea (the mystical vision of a universal God as Fire) which explains their growth and whose progressive weakening takes them through successive stages towards decay. This explanation for the rise and fall of civilizations embraces all mankind, and the author calls it Universalism. He employs a cross-disciplinary approach and a phenomenological method which allows him to investigate the reception of the Fire in consciousness without speculating about its origin, drawing together for the first time all the best-known recorded experiences of the Fire and offering a “Grand Unified Theory” of world history that integrates religion and which makes fascinating predictions for the coming stages of existing civilizations.


By dwelling on the experiences of the Fire Nicholas Hagger revitalises the metaphysical tradition which reached a dead-end with abstract rational speculation and the critical scepticism of the Vienna Circle philosophers. His study restores the metaphysical vision within all religions and disciplines, and effects a world-wide Metaphysical Revolution in our time. It has profound implications for philosophy: it lays the foundations for a new Existential Metaphysics, or Metaphysical Existentialism, and for a new philosophy. He transforms the philosophy of history by showing civilizations to be both within a world-wide civilization and common culture which can be achieved in the 21st century, bringing world peace.


The Back Cover Says

New Universalist approach to mankind: “Grand Unified Theory” of world history and religion over 5,000 years on one chart.

25 civilisations growing round metaphysical fire, passing through 61 secularizing stages.

New explanation for the rise and fall of civilisations, further to Gibbon, Spengler and Toynbee.

Predictions for the future.

This fold-out chart summarises the history of the last 5,000 years: 25 civilisations growing round their central idea of the Fire, the mystical vision of God which is found in all cultures and which inspired their temples, cathedrals and mosques: their Stones.

This highly original work offers a new explanation (Universalism) for the rise and fall of civilisations, a theme that has occupied Gibbon, Spengler and Toynbee. Quite simply, civilisations grow round a human response to the vision of God as the Fire, which passes into their religions, and they decline through progressively secularizing stages when their central idea of the Fire becomes lost.

Here is a “Grand Unified Theory” of world history which integrates religion. Part One documents the fundamental experience of God as Fire or Light in all civilisations. Part Two shows 25 dead and living civilisations passing through 61 parallel Fire-based stages.

The rediscovery of the existential experience of the metaphysical Fire in this work revives the metaphysical vision and effects a Metaphysical Revolution in our time.


From Index 3

Religious Expressions of the Fire or Light

The Palaeolithic shamans (p13); the Indo-European god Dyaeus Pitar, or “Shining Father” (p20); the founders of the Sumerian city-states, the Anannage or “Shining Ones” (pp21-4); the Sumerians’ Sacred Royal Marriage (pp26-8); the Egyptian “akh” or “shining spiritual soul” (pp30-7); the Indo-European and Egyptian bull-cults (p50); the Greek mysteries (pp51-4); the Jewish tabernacle (pp60-1); the Druid Light of Du-w (p65); the Zoroastrian fire-sacrifices to Ahura Mazda (pp70-1); the Hindu Brahman and Atman (pp74-6); the Yoga samadhi (pp76-7); the Enlightenment of the Buddha, the “Enlightened One” or Illuminator (pp78-9);  the Mahayana “sunyata” (p221);  the Jain “conquerors” (pp80-1); the Essenes, whose Sermon on the Mount begins “Blessed is the Child of Light” (p93); the parables of Jesus, the transfigured “Light of the World”, and St Paul’s blinding Light (pp100, 113-4); the Roman Sol and Isis (pp89, 137-8); Lucius, “The Great Light”, who established Christianity in Britain in 156AD (p118); Mani the Illuminator, the Manichaean “Apostle of Light” (p133); the gnosis of Gnosticism (p120); Alchemy’s gold and the Hermetic mysteries and the Tarot cards, (pp 128-9); the Sufi “fana” (pp160-1); Omar Khayyam’s intoxication in the tavern(pp165-6); the Grail, which symbolised the Cistercian Light of St Bernard, who wrote the Rule of the Templars (pp173, 195); the “Radiance” of the Kabbalah (p197); the Divine Light and “Fire of Love” of the Christian mystics, for example the Dominican “spark of the souls” (p208); the Clear Light of the Void, which the Tibetans saw at death (pp226-7); Siva’s lingam, which expresses detachment from the senses (pp231, 237); the Tantric diamond nature and the raising of the serpent Kundalini (p232); the Chinese “Golden Flower”, which hid the character for Light (p241); Zen satori (pp244-6);  the Easter Island Polynesian “mana” (p247); Theosophy’s “hidden concealed spiritual Sun” and the Golden Dawn (pp300-1); many poets such as the Swedenborgian Blake, who experienced the Light c1784 but not again until 1804 after “twenty dark years” (p292).


Stones Inspired by the Fire or Light

The ziggurats, Sacred Mountains at which the Fire could be known, e.g. Etemenanki (p28); the sloping sides of the Great Pyramid which shone like an “akh” (pp33-5); the obelisk known as Cleopatra’s Needle (p35);  the Alchemical Temple of Ptah at Karnak (p129); the British megaliths, which were probably of Kurgan Sumerian origin, including Stonehenge, whose trilithons embodied the Fire (pp40, 66); Solomon’s Temple, from which Freemasons derived the Light, a sacred grove of shamanistic World Trees in stone (p283); the South American temple-pyramids like the Huaca del Sol in Peru (pp45-7); the Delphic oracle to “phoibos” Apollo, the “Light-bearer” and Enlightener, and the Greek Parthenon (pp49-50); the Temple of Eleusis where there was a brilliant light (p52); the stone of Scone (p61); the stone Mithraeums in Rome and London where fire symbolised Mithras’s celestial light (p68); the Roman Temple of Vesta, temple of Sol Invictus and Temple of Isis at Corinth (pp89, 138); the Zoroastrian fire-temples such as Takt-i-Taqdis at Siz or Shiz and Naqsh-i-Rustam near Persepolis (p70); the clay jars filled with scrolls in the caves of Qumran (p89); the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, the observance of which illumined (p59); the erotic sculptures in the Hindu temples at Khajuraho and Konarak (p238); the Hindu Sacred Mountain in stone, like the representation of Mount Meru in Angkor Wat (p237); the Buddhist stupa at Sanchi and the pagoda at Peshawar, India (p230); the Jain temples and stone conqueror Gommatesvara, Stravana Belgola, South India (p81); the Taoist temples and the Chinese Temple of Heaven, Beijing (p86); the Temple of Serapis at Alexandria (p128); Islamic mosques and minarets (p337); Christian churches, cathedrals and spires (p326); the Byzantine Hagia Sophia, Church of the Holy Wisdom (p143); the Danish stone of Harold Bluetooth at Jelling (p153); the Gothic cathedrals with rose windows, like Chartres (pp176-80);  the Lantern of the Dead at Sarlat, France (pp 181-2); the Golden Temple of the Sikhs at Amritsar (p239); the Templars’ Temple at Sion, Jerusalem (pp174-5); the Kabbalistic schools in South France (p197); the Tantric Tibetan Buddhist temples and monasteries at Lhasa (p224); the sun at the top of the west door of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge (p284); the Zen Ryoanji temple in Kyoto (pp222-3); the colossal Buddha at Nara, the “Great Illuminator” (p222); the Easter Island stone giants (pp248-9); the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Archangel in the Kremlin (p311); the vault in the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, London (p266).



“An extraordinary book.”
David Gascoyne


“How much William James would have supported all those who value the quality and range of a truly comprehensive modern awareness as Nicholas Hagger does.”
Sir Laurens van der Post



Supporting sources



New approach

Nicholas Hagger’s books reveal truths that have been hidden, and are rewarding. He is a cultural historian who has devoted much thought to unearthing the pattern of history, and he presents a new approach to the history of 25 civilizations and to the philosophy of history.


Nicholas Hagger