Monday, August 16, 2010

The Hierophant

The Hierophant: The Golden Rectangle and Nature’s Mysteries

When analyzing the meaning of The Hierophant we enter the realm of Nature’s complex mysteries. In Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness, The Hierophant reminds us to become aware of the creative impulsion that activates the blueprints behind all life forms. Therefore, we think of cellular organization and processes of growth. Now we are impelled to see the wonders of the underlying structure of plants, land animals, and sea creatures—from simple amoebas to intricate coral reefs. In this context, The Hierophant is an icon for a teacher of Nature’s holistic organizing principles. We are prompted to become keenly aware of, and grateful for, our earthly environment. Michael Schneider in his book, A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe, asserts that “…every natural pattern of growth or movement conforms inevitably to one or more simple geometric types.” At this point, I like to look at Bruce Rawles website, Sacred Geometry Design Sourcebook for a complete guide to Sacred Geometry.

Historically, in ancient Greece, The Hierophant was High Priest for Demeter (Ceres) Goddess of agriculture, whose presence was celebrated by an agrarian culture in Eleusinian shrines. She was worshipped by the farming community as Mother Nature: the cyclic source for seed-planting (grains and vegetables) then sprouting, flowering, and producing fruit, which in turn, bear seeds for the return to earth. And we know plants continue to reproduce themselves from their seeds over and over again. And by the way, many flowers and fruits manifest 5 petals or seeds in arrangements of five. Why? What does that mean? What are Nature’s rules for biological development?

According to British biologist Rupert Sheldrake in his book, The Rebirth of Nature, he says, “The cosmos is like a growing organism, forming new structures within itself as it develops…it tells us that everything is related.” He discusses the proposition that what was once thought of as Nature’s laws, are really forms of memory: this he refers to as “morphic resonance,” a state that involves holistic organizing principles bound together in a state of “oneness.” The Hierophant is here in the Tarot to remind us to take notice of that.

We are taken back by the metaphor of The Hierophant to celebrate the powerful activity of Nature’s cosmic creative processes. We are urged to pay attention to the stages of growth and change as they actually happen. For instance, such wonders of self-organization can be seen in a chambered nautilus shell where each chamber, constructed by the sea creature inside, is approximately 1.618… times larger than the next chamber. And we can certainly see the outcome of self-replication demonstrated by all those cute little rabbits multiplying themselves again and again. Then there is the riddle of specification: Why does an elephant always produce another elephant, and not a horse or a chicken? Yet, the possibility of a mutation makes evolutionary change possible. We see the attributes of self-realization in humans and primates since they are able to examine themselves in a mirror. (On the other hand, my cat won’t even look at himself.) What other animals can also recognize themselves?

The painting of The Hierophant in Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness is based on a Golden Mean Spiral—a symbol of unending evolution—painted within a Golden Rectangle made up of little squares. The equiangular spiral is revealed as arcs drawn through a series of “whirling squares.” These qualities represent the “Golden Section” or the Golden Mean described by Euclid in the 47th Proposition called “the measure of gold.” To the Greeks in ancient times, mathematics and geometry was a way to interpret the laws of Nature. Such knowledge was considered sacred and was a highly guarded secret.

In the 17th century, after Descartes discovered it, the architect Jacques Bernoulli, defined the properties of the “Golden Mean Spiral” or equiangular spiral as it is called. The spiral unfolds because of a principle of growth and it can grow larger exponentially, becoming larger and larger, ad infinitum. The spiral growth of many life forms approximates the ratio of 1:1.618… called the Phi ratio. It is a series of numbers that may continue on forever, although the creature or plant experiences a limited form of growth. For instance, in counting the rows of seeds in the head of a sunflower, we sometimes see 89 long rows and 55 short rows. When 89 is divided by 55, believe it or not, the answer is a ratio of 1:1.618… a numeral of infinity. This leads us to a study of the “Fibonacci series:” 1+1=2; 2+3=5; 3+5=8; 5+8=13, and so on, yielding the same Phi ratio. These are just some of the lessons The Hierophant of Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness has in store for us. Perhaps this will start you on your way in discovering the underlying secrets of Nature.