Sacred Meanings in Geometric Numbers and Shapes
Symbolic and sacred meanings are also ascribed to certain geometric
numbers, shapes, and geometric ratios or proportions. Through the ages, especially in the ancient world, some numbers had symbolic meaning attached, aside from their ordinary use for counting or calculating. In geometry, figures such as triangles, squares, polygons, hexagons, and so forth are all related to numbers. Triangles, for example, relate to three angles, squares to four, and so on.
As an example of attaching sacred meanings to geometric numbers, the number ‘seven’ occurs consistently in diverse cultures around the world. And more, the religious and mythologies of the world are filled with sevens. Consider some of these:
- The shape of the pyramids of Egypt produces the number seven by combining the three-sided triangle and four-sided square.
- In music, the seven musical notes in a scale repeat at the octave.
- There are seven terraces of purgatory in the Roman Catholic beliefs.
- The Christian Church recognizes the seven virtues and seven deadly sins.
- There were seven steps taken by Buddha at his birth.
- There are seven heavens and seven earths in Islamic tradition.
- There are seven worlds in the Hindu universe.
- The seven-branched Jewish menorah is the oldest symbol in Judaism.
The ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras believed that integers represented fundamental meanings. He regarded seven as the “vehicle” of life. To him, the number seven signified the union of spirit and matter – the union of three (the triple nature of the spirit) combined with the four elements of matter (earth, air, fire, and water).
Seven was also associated with growth, whereby a phenomenon tends to be completed in seven stages, such as the “seven stages of man” expressed by Shakespeare in As You Like It, or the biblical Creation by God in seven days. According to some beliefs, the human body needs seven energy vortices known aschakras to be open for spiritual growth; that is, one has to move focus from the three lower (physical) chakras to the four higher (spiritual) centers.
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