The science of Sacred Geometry is growing more popular every day but few people have a real grasp on what is really meant by either “Sacred” or “Geometry.” 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 we can’t help but notice in our world.

In its ancient understanding, Sacred Geometry’s geometry itself was considered a window into the mind of God/s. If there were certain physical laws in nature, they must have existed because they were pleasing to God. Numbers and shapes were therefore ascribed specific meanings with correspondences to religious traditions, and these perceived truths guided the creation of spiritual spaces and spiritual art. This is why cathedrals often have a rose window with 12-sided symmetry (symbolizing the 12 apostles as well as the prevalence of certain symmetries in nature), why Buddhists create elaborate geometric mandalas symbolizing the universe, and why the pyramids of Egypt contain an array of important 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 almost every art, on products that are marketed both cynically and sincerely; it is used by gurus and charlatans alike, religious paths both respected and dubious.  Many 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 significant. Nearly all of these paths borrow from one another—from the lunatic fringe to the high establishment—so much so that it can be hard to tell who is who, what is what, and what, if any of it, is real.

Many spiritual truths echo geometric discoveries that have come from secular science. Benoit Mandelbrot coined the term fractal after building on the work of Gaston Julia and others. Fractals are self-similar figures that display remarkable forms at a macrocosmic and microcosmic levels, a theme that echoes many esoteric spiritual traditions, perhaps most notably “as above, so below.” Likewise many scientific truths have originated in spiritual inquiry. Buckminster Fuller, who explored the concept of divinity in his book No More Secondhand God, explored what was known about the arrangements of atoms at the smallest scale, which led to the invention of geodesic domes and expanded the potential of material science.

Mathematicians and scientists have long studied these observable forms, because they are so often related to the questions they are trying to answer.  Monks and shamans have long studied these observable 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 with certainty?   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. While the paths of scientific and spiritual inquiry differ they are certainly not divergent. Sharing lessons from these different paths can only strengthen our understanding of the universe.

Why is this page called Naked Geometry?

We started Naked Geometry to make work about what is knownIt began as geometric artwork largely unadorned by any personal subjective meaning applied to the individual numbers or shapes.  Over the years of collaboration we have grown into a collective of geometric artists. We celebrate all observable geometry, and search for geometry not yet revealed. We are not interested in telling people what the number 7 means, or what gods to worship, or why flowers are beautiful.  We seek simply to point to the splendor of pattern and interconnectedness, the emergent powers of life itself, this obvious beauty we are surrounded with. 

At Naked Geometry, we each have our own inner systems of unifying science and art and love and devotion, and while it makes us happy, we don’t know whether or not any one path 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 us 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 we stick to pointing out the verifiably awesome, and making art with it!

As an actual day to day practice, the essence of what a sacred geometer does is still very close to what one fan said, which is “to make anything constructed with the Euclidean tools [compass, straight edge, 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 the area of inquiry in a nutshell, whether we’re using a compass or a computer. Studying pure geometry means meditating on the basic shapes, learning their unique behaviors, appreciating their commonalities, making use of their combinations. From the basic building blocks of lines, circles, polygons, stars & solids, the miraculous arises.

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

 – Rumi

Winter 2013 (edited Winter 2017)

James Gyre


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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