101The science of Sacred Geometry is growing more and more popular every day, but few have a real grasp on what is meant by either of those words.  In its modern usage, Sacred Geometry is the study of the patterns, shapes and ratios that we often find in the natural world.  Whether it’s the golden ratio (phi, ø) in the human face and hands, or the “flower of life” found in the stacked atoms of certain crystals, or the fractal branching of trees, neurons and rivers, there are certain shapes and forms that if we look, we can’t help but notice in our world.

In Sacred Geometry’s history, these numbers and shapes were often ascribed specific meanings with correspondences to religious traditions, and these perceived truths were used to guide the creation of spiritual spaces and spiritual art.  This is why cathedrals often have a “rose window” with 12-sided symmetry (to symbolize the 12 apostles), why Leonardo Da Vinci’s paintings are so often built around the golden ratio, why Japanese bowl sets have 5 dishes, and why the pyramids of Egypt contain an array of universal ratios implicit in their arrangement.

In the modern usage, Sacred Geometry remains associated with a great many spiritual paths, with an even broader set of interpretations and affiliations. It is found in products both cynical and sincere, religious paths both respected and dubious, and in every art.  Each of these paths have their own ideas of what the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 “mean”, or why these various patterns, shapes & ratios are of note. Nearly all of these paths borrow from one another, from the lunatic fringe to the high establishment, so much it can be hard to tell who is who, what is what, and what, if any of it, is “real”.

Mathematicians and scientists have long studied these forms, because they are so often related to the questions they are trying to answer.  Monks and shamans have long studied these forms, because they are so often related to the questions they are trying to answer. Why is the world the way it is?  What is the cause of life on Earth?  How do plants and animals grow from single cells?  What will happen in the future?  What is happening very far away?  Is it possible to know anything for sure?   How can we achieve the miraculous?

We are perhaps experiencing a renaissance of sorts in the agreement between some contemporary scientific thought and some contemporary spiritual perspectives, but it is my historical reading that those pursuits were never very far from each other.  Both science and spirituality can be read as an interaction with mystery, a dance of ignorance and certainty and intuition.  Both are at their best when they focus on “what works”.  Both have an elite class of excellent practitioners, who are sought out for their wisdom and ways.

Why is this page called Naked Geometry?

My work of “Naked Geometry” is about “what is there.”  It is a body of knowledge largely unadorned by my personal opinions on these potentially deeply subjective matters.  I am not interested in telling people what the number 7 “means”, or what gods to worship, or why flowers are beautiful.  I seek simply to point to the splendor of pattern and interconnectedness, the emergent power of life itself, this obvious beauty we are surrounded with.  I believe any conscious interaction with this nuanced reality will yield unique rewards for each person.

I have my own inner systems of unifying science and art and love and devotion, and while it makes me happy, I don’t know whether or not it will work for you.  If you are walking on a path, and it is serving you well, and increasing your understanding and awareness and (hopefully) care of the world, than there is no reason for me to suggest you do otherwise.  However, most paths agree that the chlorophyll molecule is 12-sided,  a pineapple grows as the shape of a spiral phyllotaxis and for some reason, flowers are very beautiful. So I stick to pointing out the verifiable awesome.

As an actual day to day practice, the sacred geometer does what one fan said so succinctly, which is to make “Anything constructed with the Euclidean tools [compass, ruler, pen or similar], where only the first center & radius are chosen by the geometer, and all other forms are created from information held within the shapes themselves.”  This is it in a nutshell.  Those of us studying pure geometry are really seeking to learn from these fundamental frequencies, which are enshrined so well in shapes like the circle, square, triangle & star. From these basic building blocks, the miraculous arises.

“Every moment and place says,
Put this design in your carpet!”
– Rumi

James Gyre
Winter 2013

poster version

4 thoughts on “What is Sacred Geometry?

  1. Sandra says:

    I love that you aren’t trying to hang a belief system on the geometry of nature. You expressed these complicated understandings of the mysteries of life very succintly and completely. Thank you so much, from deep in my soul!!

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