Flower of Life (geometry)

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The Flower of Life pattern, bounded by a larger circle. It contains 19 complete identical circles and 36 more incomplete circles. The interior has 6 circles meeting at every point.[1]

Flower of Life is a name given to a geometric pattern consisting of multiple evenly-spaced, overlapping circles. The pattern has been found as historic artefacts. In the 1990s this pattern was adopted and named by New Age author Drunvalo Melchizedek who coined the name 'Flower of Life'. Since then this pattern has found a wide range of usage in popular culture, in fashion, jewelry, tatoos and decorative products.

Historical occurrences[edit]

Abydos, Egypt[edit]

The Flower of Life symbol drawn in red ochre Temple of Osiris at Abydos, Egypt
Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci (Codex Atlanticus, fol. 307v)

Possibly five patterns resembling the Flower of Life can be seen on one of the granite columns of the Temple of Osiris in Abydos, Egypt,[2] and a further five on a column opposite of the building. They are drawn in red ochre and some are very faint and difficult to distinguish.[3][4]

Some state that these drawings are 6,000 years old,[3] but other research by David Furlong[5] states that these engravings can date no earlier than 535 BCE and probably date to the 2nd and 4th century CE. His research is based on photographic evidence of Greek text, yet to be fully deciphered. The text is seen alongside the Flower of Life circles and the position of the circles close to the top of columns, which are greater than 4 meters in height. Furlong suggests the Osirion was half filled with sand prior to the circles being drawn and therefore likely to have been well after the end of the Ptolemaic dynasty.[3] As the drawings are not mentioned in the extensive listings of graffiti at the temple compiled by Margaret Murray in 1904,[6] it cannot be excluded that the drawings were added in the 20th century CE.[citation needed]

Leonardo da Vinci[edit]

The extensive corpus of drawings of different geometrical figures by Leonardo da Vinci contains some figures resembling the Flower of Life and similar patterns.

Followers of Melchizedek say that Da Vinci ascribed significance to this figure,[7][8][9] but his drawings do not contain any namings of or special attributions to these figures beyond the description of mathematical and geometric properties.[10]

Other examples[edit]

New Age adoption and naming[edit]

The name "Flower of Life" was coined for the pattern in the 1990s by the New Age author Drunvalo Melchizedek,[7][11] where this shape and its parts were associated with several historical, mythological, and spiritual claims.[12] Melchizedek and his followers say that the reoccurrence of the figure throughout history are said to indicate the significance of the sacred geometry.[7]

Martha Bartfeld, author of geometric art tutorial books, described her independent discovery of the design in 1968. Her original definition said, "This design consists of circles having a 1" radius, with each point of intersection serving as a new center. The design can be expanded ad infinitum depending upon the number of times the odd-numbered points are marked off." Her subsequent books acknowledge Drunvalo Melchizedek and refer to the design as the Flower of Life.[13]

Modern usage[edit]

The album Sempiternal (2013) by Bring Me the Horizon uses the Flower of Life as the main feature of its album cover.[14] The album A Head Full of Dreams (2015) by Coldplay also features the Flower of Life motif as the central part of its album cover. Teaser posters illustrating the cover art were widely displayed on the London Underground in the last week of October 2015.[15]

In the fashion industry, the term Flower of Life is used as a descriptor for this shape to denote regeneration.[16]

BMTH Sempiternal.png
19-circle (+arcs)
Flower of Life pendant (2).jpg
A Head Full of Dreams.jpg
album cover
Pendant, silver, ⌀ 27 mm
(commercial product, 2013)
A Head Full of Dreams,
album cover

Construction and related figures[edit]

The full pattern extending the plane to any radius has been called a seven overlapping circles grid,[17] seen here with radial colorings. Each point intersects 6 circles and is the center to a 7th circle. The circle grid is similar to the regular triangular tiling except the straight edges are split into two 60° arcs.

The figure can be drawn by pen and compass, by creating multiple series of interlinking circles of the same diameter touch the previous circle's center. The second circle is centered at any point on the first circle. All following circles are centered on the intersection of two other circles.[18]


The center lens of the 2-circle figure is called a Vesica piscis, from Euclid. The areas inside one circle and outside circle is called lunes.

The 3-circle figure resembles a depiction of borromean rings and is used in 3-set theory Venn diagrams. Its interior makes a unicursal path is called a triquetra. The center of the 3-circle figure is called a reuleaux triangle.

Vesica piscis circles.svg
Vesica piscis
Borromean rings
Venn diagram
Reuleaux triangle

The 7-circle pattern has also been called an Islamic seven-circles pattern for its use in Islamic art.[19] Melchizedek calls the completed 7-circle figure the seed of life. A Slavic solar symbol, as used e. g. by people caring about the Carpathian Mountains,[20] resembles the completed 1-circle figure. The Sun of the Alps, as used by Padanian nationalists, differs by having lunes inside a circle of uniform thickness.

Expanding sets have 1, 7, 19, 37, 61, 91, 127, etc. circles, and continuing ever larger hexagonal rings of circles. The number of circles is 3n2-3n+1 = 3n(n-1)+1.

These overlapping circles can also be seen as a projection of an n-unit cube of spheres in 3-dimensional space, viewed on the diagonal axis.[21] There are more spheres than circles because some are overlapping in 2 dimensions.

The last row adds arc for incomplete circles centered on the edge or just outside the pattern.

Rosette figures including partial circles
Circle - black simple.svg
Flower of Life 7-circles.svg
Flower of Life 19-circles.svg
Flower of Life 37-circles.svg
Flower of Life 61-circles.svg
Flower of life 91-circles.svg
Flower of Life 127-circles.svg
1x1x1 cube spheres.png 2x2x2 cube spheres.png 3x3x3 cube spheres.png
+12 arcs +24 arcs +36 arcs +48 arcs +60 arcs +72 arcs +84 arcs
Slavic solar symbol
Flower of life-2level.svg
"Seed of life"
"Flower of life"
Flower of life-4level.png
Flower of life-5level.png
Flower of life-6level.png

Metatron's cube[edit]

A related figure is called Metratron's cube. It is considered sacred geometric figure, and is composed of 13 equal circles with lines from the center of each circle extending out to the centers of the other 12 circles. It can be seen in 13 circles of the flower of life as a 2-dimensional figure, and 14 spheres in a 3-dimensional cube viewed along a diagonal, with 8 spheres on the cube corners and 6 spheres on the cube face centers.[22][23]

The 14 vertices also correspond to 8 corners of a stellated octahedron, and 6 mid-edge intersection points. The stellated octahedron is a compound of two tetrahedra in dual configurations, CDel node.pngCDel split1.pngCDel nodes 10lu.png and CDel node.pngCDel split1.pngCDel nodes 01ld.png or t0{3,3} and t2{3,3}, combined as compound {{3,3}}. The intersection of these two tetahedra is a central octahedron or tetratetrahedron, CDel node 1.pngCDel split1.pngCDel nodes.png or t1{3,3}.

2D 3D 5D
Metatrons cube in 61-circles.png
Metatron's cube in 13 circles of 61
Metatron cube tangent circles.svg
Metatron's cube as 13 circles and lines
Metatron cube overlapping circles.svg
Metatron's cube as 14 spheres in 3D, 2 overlap in center
Stellated octahedron 3-fold-axis.png
Stellated octahedron
8 corners
6 mid-edge intersections
Dual Cube-Octahedron.svg
Skew view of cube's 8 vertices and dual octahedron's 6 vertices centered on the cube faces
5-simplex t2.svg
Birectified 5-simplex has 20 vertices, seen in A5 Coxeter plane has 6 overlapping vertices

The 5-dimensional birectified 5-simplex (also called t2{3,3,3,3} or rr{3,3,3,3} and 02,2 by Coxeter for its Coxeter diagram CDel node 1.pngCDel split1.pngCDel nodes.pngCDel 3ab.pngCDel nodes.png, and S2
by Elte) shares the same 2D vertex arrangement as projected in the A5 Coxeter plane as the Metatron's cube. It has 20 vertices, with 6 doubled up in the projection. It is bounded by 60 cells (30 tetrahedra, and 30 octahedra). This uniform polytope represents the intersection of two regular 5-simplexes in dual configurations, CDel node.pngCDel split1.pngCDel nodes.pngCDel 3ab.pngCDel nodes 10l.png and CDel node.pngCDel split1.pngCDel nodes.pngCDel 3ab.pngCDel nodes 01l.png or t0{3,3,3,3} and t4{3,3,3,3}.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Flower of Life - Sacred Geometry". Retrieved November 9, 2015. 
  2. ^ Weisstein, Eric W., "Flower of life", MathWorld.
  3. ^ a b c Stewart, Malcolm (2008). "The "Flower of Life" and the Osirion – Facts are more interesting than Fantasy". Egyptian Tour (David Furlong). Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  4. ^ Ketler, Alanna (December 10, 2013). "The Secret To How The Universe Works Lies Within This Geometrical Pattern. What Is The Flower of Life?". Collective Evolution. Retrieved November 5, 2015. 
  5. ^ Furlong, David. "The Osirion and the Flower of Life". Retrieved 2015-11-08. 
  6. ^ Murray, Margaret Alice (1904). The Osireion at Abydos London. p. 35. Retrieved November 4, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c Melchizedek, Drunvalo (1999). The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life 1. Light Technology Publishing. 
  8. ^ Reti, Ladislao (1990). The Unknown Leonardo. New York: Abradale Press, Harry Abrams, Inc., Publishers. 
  9. ^ Dartnell, Lewis (2011). "Maths and art: the whistlestop tour". +Plus magazine. Retrieved May 15, 2015. 
  10. ^ Leonardo da Vinci: Codex Atlanticus, fol. 307r–309v, 459r
  11. ^ Melchizedek, Drunvalo (2000). The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life 2. Light Technology Publishing. 
  12. ^ Schneider, Wolf: Kleines Lexikon esoterischer Irrtümer: Von Astrologie bis Zen (German; “Small encyclopedia of esoteric errors, from astrology to Zen”). Gütersloh 2009, ISBN 9783641032418
  13. ^ Bartfeld, Martha (2005). How to Create Sacred Geometry Mandalas. Santa Fe, NM: Mandalart Creations. p. 35. ISBN 9780966228526. OCLC 70293628. 
  14. ^ Cooper, Ed (25 February 2013). "Bring Me The Horizon: This album needs to be the one that lasts forever". The Independent. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  15. ^ Denham, Jess (6 November 2015). "Coldplay new album: Beyonce and Noel Gallagher to feature on A Head Full of Dreams". The Independent. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  16. ^ Zaman, Sana (14 May 2013). "Zaeem Jamal Launches New Collection on Board a Private Yacht in Dubai Marina". Haute Living. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  17. ^ "Art inspired by Mathematics". Retrieved November 9, 2015. 
  18. ^ "How to graphically make the "Seed of Life" pattern using a compass - The Geometry Code:Universal Symbolic Mirrors of Natural Laws Within Us". The Geometry Code:Universal Symbolic Mirrors of Natural Laws Within Us. 
  19. ^ "turning diamonds". Retrieved November 9, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Declaration of the Carpathian Society". Towarzystwo Karpackie (Carpathian Society). November 9, 2015. 
  21. ^ Melchizedek (1999), p.158 Fig. 6-8
  22. ^ Melchizedek, Drunvalo (1999). The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life 1. Light Technology Publishing.  p.194-198
  23. ^ Sacred Geometry Design Sourcebook: Universal Dimensional Patterns Bruce Rawles. pp. 94–95

Further reading[edit]