Sacred geometry has inspired speculation and wonder since the days of Plato and Pythagoras. Skeptics argue that finding these common patterns in nature, history, and different cultures is purely coincidental. Mystics and religious adherents of various traditions, on the other hand, believe that these shapes are the building blocks of reality itself.
What Is Sacred Geometry?
Sacred geometry encompasses both basic and ornate shapes found in nature as well as spiritual symbolism. In Hinduism, for example, meditators use Sri Yantras and mandalas as objects of focus to hone their mindfulness skills.
Because these geometric forms appear in so many different places and cultures throughout history, it begs the question of whether these structures are rooted in the human psyche. Many exist on their own in nature, implying yet another layer of significance for the shapes.
Consider how, despite being unaware of each other's existence, the Mayas of Mesoamerica and the ancient Egyptians of Northern Africa both built pyramids to honor their dead and perform religious rituals.
Applications of Sacred Geometry
Sacred geometric patterns can be found in a variety of settings. Here are a few examples of how humans have used or celebrated shapes throughout history:
1. Worship structures: Certain churches, mosques, and synagogues base their basic architectural blueprints on sacred geometry. In medieval Europe, for example, cathedrals were built using a cross as a template. This gave these places of worship a deeper spiritual significance. Consider the similarities between two of the most impressive religious monuments in history: Mexico's Pyramid of the Sun and Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza.
2. Classical art: Sacred geometry has been depicted in the work of painters, sculptors, and sketch artists. The Vitruvian Man drawing by Leonardo da Vinci demonstrated how the human body itself followed the rules of these shapes. Another sacred pattern that artists have used to add symmetry and beauty to their works is the golden ratio (also known as the golden mean or phi).
3. Natural patterns: Sacred geometric forms can be found all over the natural world. In three dimensions, sunflowers resemble the flower of life symbol. According to the golden mean, nautilus shells follow a Fibonacci sequence. Mystics believe this is further evidence that these shapes exist at the heart of reality, conveying connection and mystery between all things.
4. Religious symbols: Sacred geometric patterns are shared by iconography from various traditions. For example, when the vesica piscis (a set of overlapping circles) is broken down into smaller parts, it begins to resemble the fish symbol used by early Christians to identify themselves.
5 Sacred Geometry Symbols and Their Meanings
Mystical patterns appear in a variety of shapes. Here are a few of the most common sacred geometry symbols to be aware of:
1. The flower of life: Based on the seed of life symbol, this ornate mandala creates an interlocking set of patterns within a single large circle. It represents the connection between all forms of life, much like the fruit of life icon. Some see it as a lovely reminder of interdependence, while others see it as the very foundation of existence itself.
2. Metatron's cube: The name of this geometric symbol comes from the archangel Metatron, who is said to be God's scribe in Judeo-Christian tradition. It incorporates several other sacred shapes, such as the egg of life and the Platonic solids, to form an interwoven web of woven lines and circles.
3. Platonic solids: Plato, the Greek philosopher, believed that most of reality could be reduced to a series of geometric forms composed of straight lines. The tetrahedron, hexahedron, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron were among them.
4. The torus: This sacred geometry shape resembles a menacing vortex or whirlpool. The spiraling circles evoke the idea of energy revolving around itself, looking for ways to increase or decrease its frequency. This concept is related to the Hindu concept of chakras, as well as the general idea that you can improve yourself spiritually until you achieve true enlightenment.
5. The tree of life: The study of Kabbalah, Judaism's most mystical tradition, is founded on this sacred geometrical pattern. The symbol of the tree of life represents a path toward the individual's journey into oneness with the Godhead itself. Another popular Jewish sacred shape is the Merkabah, also known as the Star of David.