What is Sacred Geometry?
If there’s one thing that becomes clear when researching sacred geometry, it’s that not many people can explain it well, or at all. Probably because it involves using mathematical shapes, certain numbers which are believed to be sacred, specific ratios and systems of repetition; to create or channel energies that are generally beyond explanation.
It’s a little like trying to explain the existence of rainbows in the era before we knew that light came in rays and bent. Now, I am not Einstein, Euclid, or even a mathematician; so I have turned to the work of Stephen Skinner, author of Sacred Geometry – Deciphering the code to help explain the basics.
Geometry, Skinner explains, is a Greek word that literally means ‘the measurement of the earth’. It was originally concerned with the measurement of the land, or surveying. Beyond that, it also encompassed the measurement and construction of buildings, and the determination of the boundaries between one person’s land and another’s.
Almost all ancient peoples created their temples and other sacred spaces with careful reference to the correct numbers, geometry, and proportion.
Geometry was sacred for the ancient Greeks because it was the most concrete and yet the most abstract form of reasoning, says Skinner.
“Geometry…is the archetypal patterning of many things, perhaps even all things, be they noumenal [something whose experience may be felt but not proven], conceptual, mathematical or architectural.”
Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher (who looks like my dad), believed that all things grew from simple 3-D forms, geometry, and unchangeable patterns that shape the backbone of reality. (Maybe that’s why he looks like my dad).
These repeating patterns and forms are found everywhere in nature and the universe, such as the helix, logarithmic spiral, the geometry of plant growth and the fractal. You can see it in flowers, seashells, pineapples and honeycomb.
“Geometry in its purest, simplest form is sacred,” says Skinner.
“Yet it is founded on ordinary geometry and the geometric figures of Euclid – circles, triangles and squares – as well as ratios and harmonics.”
Euclid (looks even more like my dad) was a prominent mathematician (c.410 – 485 CE) who wrote a treatise on geometry called the Elements. He was the first to summarise all these theories on this subject.
Music was seen as a matter of arithmetic – the precise arithmetic divisions between adjacent musical notes defined harmony, and so formed an arithmetic you could hear.
Harmony is the repetition of the same proportions.
The proportions that are considered sacred are governed by certain numbers such as Phi (1.61803399).
Phi is different to pi and different again to phi (with a lowercase p – I can’t even imagine how many miscalculations “autocorrect” is causing – the mind boggles).
Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.
Phi is the ratio of a line segment, when divided in a certain way. Also called the Golden Mean, this is where lines and measurements go from boring to woo woo in a second. From soporific to sacred.
Put very simply, if you cut a strap of liquorice into two pieces, in the exact spot where the longer section is going to be 1.61803399 times the length of the shorter section, you get sacred liquorice (ok, that’s pushing it).
You will find, however, that total length of the liquorice (before it was cut), is also exactly 1.61803399 times the length of the longer section, and that’s magic. This ratio of division can go on ad infinitum and these measurements can be found in nature throughout the universe.
The length of the segments in your fingers are a perfect example of this. The pentagram is revered as each diagonal divides the two others at the golden ratio.
For a more intellectual understanding of the significance of this in our daily lives, I give you Donald Duck.
Pythaogras (569 - 475 BC) (that dude that brought us the ability to calculate the hypotenuse of a triangle and thus still gets us from A-B faster whenever we take a short-cut) believed that numbers themselves were sacred and not just convenient counting markers.
Pythagoras was apparently the first person to put maths, geometry, and music together and say you could use music as medicine (I wasn’t there, can’t confirm).
Having rediscovered musical intervals he taught that you could heal using sound and harmonic frequencies.