Sacred geometry

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Sacred geometry is the geometry used in the design and construction of religious structures such as churches, temples, mosques, religious monuments, altars, tabernacles; as well as for sacred spaces such as temenoi, sacred groves, village greens and holy wells, and the creation of religious art. In sacred geometry, symbolic and sacred meanings are ascribed to certain geometric shapes and certain geometric proportions, according to Paul Calter and others:[1]

As worldview and cosmology[edit]

Inner section of the Kepler's Platonic solid model of planetary spacing in the Solar system from Mysterium Cosmographicum (1596)
Further information: Mathematics and art

The belief that God created the universe according to a geometric plan has ancient origins. Plutarch attributed the belief to Plato, writing that "Plato said God geometrizes continually" (Convivialium disputationum, liber 8,2). In modern times the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss adapted this quote, saying "God arithmetizes".[2]

As late as Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), a belief in the geometric underpinnings of the cosmos persisted among some scientists.[3]

Natural forms[edit]

Further information: Patterns in nature
Nautilus shell's logarithmic growth spiral

According to Stephen Skinner, the study of sacred geometry has its roots in the study of nature, and the mathematical principles at work therein.[4] Many forms observed in nature can be related to geometry; for example, the chambered nautilus grows at a constant rate and so its shell forms a logarithmic spiral to accommodate that growth without changing shape. Also, honeybees construct hexagonal cells to hold their honey. These and other correspondences are sometimes interpreted in terms of sacred geometry and considered to be further proof of the natural significance of geometric forms.

Art and architecture[edit]

Geometric ratios, and geometric figures were often employed in the design of Egyptian, ancient Indian, Greek and Roman architecture. Medieval European cathedrals also incorporated symbolic geometry. Indian and Himalayan spiritual communities often constructed temples and fortifications on design plans of mandala and yantra.

Many of the sacred geometry principles of the human body and of ancient architecture were compiled into the Vitruvian Man drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, itself based on the much older writings of the Roman architect Vitruvius.

In Hinduism[edit]

The Agamas are a collection of Sanskrit,[5] Tamil and Grantha[6] scriptures chiefly constituting the methods of temple construction and creation of idols, worship means of deities, philosophical doctrines, meditative practices, attainment of sixfold desires and four kinds of yoga.[5]

Elaborate rules are laid out in the Agamas for Shilpa (the art of sculpture) describing the quality requirements of such matters as the places where temples are to be built, the kinds of image to be installed, the materials from which they are to be made, their dimensions, proportions, air circulation, and lighting in the temple complex. The Manasara and Silpasara are works that deal with these rules. The rituals of daily worship at the temple also follow rules laid out in the Agamas.

Unanchored geometry[edit]

Stephen Skinner discusses the tendency of some writers to place a geometric diagram over virtually any image of a natural object or human created structure, find some lines intersecting the image and declare it based on sacred geometry. If the geometric diagram does not intersect major physical points in the image, the result is what Skinner calls "unanchored geometry." [7]


Pythagoras is often credited for discovering that an oscillating string stopped halfway along its length produces an octave relative to the string's fundamental, while a ratio of 2:3 produces a perfect fifth and 3:4 produces a perfect fourth. However the Chinese culture already featured the same mathematical positions on the Guqin and the tone holes in flutes, so Pythagoras was not the first. Pythagoreans believed that these harmonic ratios gave music powers of healing which could "harmonize" an out-of-balance body[citation needed].

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paul Calter, Polygons, Tilings, & Sacred Geometry
  2. ^ Cathérine Goldstein, Norbert Schappacher, Joachim Schwermer, The shaping of arithmetic, p235. [1]
  3. ^ Calter, Paul (1998). "Celestial Themes in Art & Architecture". Dartmouth College. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  4. ^ Skinner, Stephen (2009). Sacred Geometry: Deciphering the Code. Sterling. ISBN 978-1-4027-6582-7. 
  5. ^ a b Grimes, John A. (1996). A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English. State University of New York Press. ISBN 9780791430682. LCCN 96012383. [2]
  6. ^ Nagalingam, Pathmarajah (2009). The Religion of the Agamas. Siddhanta Publications. [3]
  7. ^ Stephen Skinner, Sacred geometry: deciphering the code, p91

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]