Thursday, March 17, 2016

Sacred Geometry and Tarot

Part I
What is meant by Sacred Geometry?
Adherents of Sacred Geometry say it was a practice considered by the ancients to be an exploration of the secret and mysterious processes of nature. Early civilizations set aside sacred places in natural rock temples, springs and caves, and constructed stone circles to remember and venerate those spaces. Sacred areas were used to come in contact with energies of a higher power or spirits of nature. Many early man-made structures were laid out according to sacred geometric designs and proportions including the Great Pyramid in Egypt and the Parthenon in Athens.

“In sacred places, the spiritual and the physical are experienced together. Sacred places are openings between the heavens and the earth or between the surface of the earth and the underworld…” Rupert Sheldrake, The Rebirth of Nature (Park Street Press, 1994, p. 23)

Avebury England
To early peoples, geometry was a form of symbolism that gave them a sense of spiritual value and association with those sacred spaces. There was a certain divinity and magicalness of meaning about using a secret form of geometry to describe and enact the principles of growth and beauty. Some sacred areas were laid out according to a geometrical plan. Early philosophers such as Pythagoras thought they could experience the metaphysical meaning of geometry while actually drawing interlocking circles with a compass. Several plane figures can be drawn this way: circle, square, triangle, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon and octagon. It sounds simple enough, but we know today that even the great medieval cathedrals were built using these geometrical methods.

“Geometry deals with pure form and philosophical [metaphysical] geometry re-enacts the unfolding of each form out of a preceding one.” Robert Lawlor, Sacred Geometry, (Thames and Hudson, 1982, p. 10)

Drawing a pentagon
Circle: (Dot in center) A beginning, Oneness (1)
Vesica Piscis: reflection of the One (2)
Triangle: Multiplication (3)
Square: Order, stability (4)
Pentagon: Processes of life (5)
Hexagon: Perfection, balance, harmony (6)
Heptagon: Eternality (7)
Octagon: Expansion and contraction (8)
Nonagon: Completion (9)
Decagon: Wholeness (10)

Growth of forms in nature: logarithmical spiral and PHI ratio
We see the creative properties of patterning and exponential spiral growth approximated in marine life such as the chambered nautilus; in sea shells, in the horns of certain sheep, pine cones, and on the head of a sunflower, for example. This logarithmical spiral expresses PHI or the ratio of 1:1.618033988… (on and on) as a numeral of infinity. When a nautilus is cut in half, we see how each chamber has become larger and larger as the creature has outgrown the previous part. When measured and compared, the growth of one chamber to the next is often approximately 1.618 times larger than the former chamber.

Fibonacci series of numbers:
Let’s go straight to the Fibonacci series of numbers, which can reveal the PHI ratio. (Leonardo of Pisa discovered this in 1202). It goes like this: 1+2=3, 2+3=5, 3+5=8, 5+8=13, 8+13=21, 13+21=34, 21+34=55, 34+55=89.  For example: divide 89 by 55 and see what you get! 1.6181818181811818… etc.  This ratio can be seen in botanical growth patterns such as five-petaled flowers, the bean and tobacco plants, and the spira mirabilis in the head of a large sunflower, some with 55 lines of force crossing 89 alternating lines. 

How does Sacred Geometry relate to the Tarot?
The Hierophant
In earlier decks, such as the Rider-Waite and B.O.T.A. decks, we see The Emperor sitting on a cube (hexahedron with 6 faces). This is interpreted as a showing a sense of stability, equality and reliability. The High Priestess sits on a cube. She is grounded “fair and square.” A star hexagon of integrated triangles is seen in the lamp carried by The Hermit in some decks: meaning a blending of qualities of heaven and earth; equilibrium of active and passive action. The Vesica Piscis is seen in the mandorla of The World card in several decks. In The Hierophant card of Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness, a chambered nautilus is drawn over a background of “whirling squares.” A Golden Mean rectangle is drawn first and divided into squares. Then an arc is drawn in each square diagonally from one corner to the opposite corner. When they circulate around a central area, a logarithmic spiral is produced. The ratio of one square to another is 1:1.618 as they become larger.

Squaring the Circle
4 of Wands 
In Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness, the 4 of Wands represents the “Squaring of the Circle. This is considered sacred because it contains both the earthly and the divine as cosmic symbols of heaven and earth. The perimeter of the square approximates the circumference of the circle. Robert Lawlor Sacred Geometry (Thames and Hudson, 1982, p. 74)   “…the circle represents pure, unmanifest spirit-space, while the square represents the manifest and comprehensible world.”
says in his book,

When contemplating Sacred Geometry polygons depicted in Tarot cards, especially in Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness and in the Sacred Geometry Oracle Deck by Francene Hart, this gives another dimension to the meaning of each card—expanding, enhancing and deepening our understanding of ourselves.