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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Sacred Geometry: Their Meanings And Cultural Significance

Sacred Geometry, Athens

People from ancient times tried to make representations of nature and ideal forms through shapes. We might come across them during our lessons in mathematics from childhood up to the later stages of our life. But little did we know that these symbols have a deeper underlying meaning that transcends mathematics and get in touch on spirituality and religion.

Johannes Kepler once said that “Geometry is one and eternal shining in the mind of God. That men share in it is among the reasons that Man is the image of God. These shapes we grew up with are more than just mathematical abstractions but also signifies the divine and what is beyond.

Stonehenge, Sacred Geometry


The circle has a unified meaning among Western and Eastern Religions and occult traditions. Circles represent wholeness, originality, creation, and in the infinite. The ratio of the circumference of any circle is represented by Piπ(3.14) after all. In fact, the value of Piπ(3.14) goes on forever. The circle also represent major heavenly bodies such as Sun and Moon.  

Oval Building, Sacred Geometry
Image: Flickr

Like the circle, oval also represents infinity and wholeness but unlike the circle. The oval represents birth and origin up to the infinity. Ovals represent the shape of an egg that also symbolizes the creation or birth of the universe. We shape the emanations from holy figures in Eastern and Western religions in ovals to express their holiness and greatness above others. 

Temple of Heaven, Sacred Geometry
Image: Flickr

Square represents strength and balance. In Eastern teachings, as written in the I Ching and teachings of Feng Shui, a function of the square is to represent the four directions or elements. Geomancy is an ancient practice that involves the use of Lo Shu Square and a basic study or treatise on the natural flow of energy or Chi. 

Cube of Mecca, Sacred Geometry
Image:  Khan Academy

Cube is the most well known among the Platonic solids. In Abrahamic religions such as Islam, the Cube represents Allah. The Holy Site at Mecca, Kaaba is where Muslims should go for at least once in their life to pray. Freemasons also have the Perfect Stone that they use to conduct Masonic rituals. In both Abrahamic and occult beliefs, the Cube is a symbol of ideals, absolutism, and transcendence.

Kheops Pyramid, Sacred Geometry
Image: Smithsonian Magazine

Triangles throughout ancient myths and occult tradition symbolize perfection, unity, and a represents the roles of the Trinity as one. There are Trinities in major religions, the oldest one would be Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu. The Triangle is also considered to be the strongest shape that even mathematicians and naturalists can attest to this notion.

Star of David, Sacred Geometry
Image: The Judeo/Christian Tradition

In Gnosticism, Christianity, and the occult tradition, hexagons represent the symbol of equilibrium with nature and stability. The most popular hexagon would be the Star of David. There is a huge debate regarding its origins among the archeological community and occult circles. But archeological evidence shows that the earliest usage of the Star of David is from the Cabalistic tradition. The symbol was not widely used by the Jewish community until the 1600s during the early years of Enlightenment.

St. Barnabus Pentagram, Sacred Geometry
Image: Flickr

The Pentagram is the most popular geometric star, even during the formative years of our childhood we marvel the times when we try to draw this symbol. The pentagram represents renewal, regeneration or rebirth. This symbol comes with different meanings depending on its form or origin. In Wicca or witchcraft, the pentagram represents the four elements including the spirit. In the occult tradition on the other hand, the inverted star is often associated with evil and dark arts.

Sør-Fron Church, Sacred Geometry
Image: HiSoUR

The octagon is not as widely used in other symbols preceding in this list. The octagon represents the death and rebirth of a deity. In Eastern Philosophy and tradition it is represented by a Bagua to signify luck and to ward off negative energy or karma. But this shape or symbol has a huge significance in the field of architecture and archeology. Since the Renaissance, there was a construction boom of holy structures such as huge cathedrals throughout Europe. To support huge domes, and mosques, an octagonal shaped foundation or structure is needed to hold it.

Enneagram Grave,  Sacred Geometry
Image: Gospel Vision

The Enneagram is probably the least well-known shape in this list but the meaning behind enneagram only exists in the Baha'i Religion. The enneagram also became popular in the New Age tradition. The number of archetypes and personalities that are enclosed on the enneagram is 9. The Enneagram strangely fits the Myers-Briggs personality types. 

Sacred Geometry, Ammonite Fossil
Image: Object Lessons

The spiral symbol occurs in nature, we can see it everywhere, in the heavens(gyres of stars, galaxies), and in the earth(flora and fauna can exhibit spirals inside and outside their body). In the esoteric tradition, the spiral signifies the search of God or the origin of the universe. The spiral also symbolizes the creation from the simplicity up to the complexity of forms in nature. 

Among all these symbols that we discussed in our list, we come to realize that some of these shapes naturally occur in nature, and the meaning and usage differ from one culture to another across the globe. There is a stark distinction between Western and Eastern faith systems regarding these symbols but one thing is for sure; these symbols shaped mankind for thousands of years and we can still see its influence in our daily lives, such as brand designs, architectural designs and we study these symbols from childhood up to the higher years in the academe.

Copyright of  IFY Books

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