Down the rabbit hole: Sacred geometry, spiritual mysticism and art through the ages

Sometime around 590 BCE, the prophet Ezekiel had a vision. It was God, seated on a throne, with an angel at each of the corners. From his groin emanated a bright light. Here’s one translation.

A new branch of Judaism was born. A mystical branch of men who chased his vision. It came to be called Kabbalah, and, as time passed, rules developed around who was allowed to practice — typically men who had already had kids, in case they went down the rabbit hole and never came out.


Some 20 years later, Pythagoras was born. He would develop the basis for a system of mathematics and geometry which was greatly expounded a couple of centuries later by Euclid. We learn of him via the Pythagorean theorem, that formula that allows us to determine right angles.

The thing we don’t learn about Pythagoras is that he’s the one who developed the theory of the immortal soul. When we die, he asserted, our souls transmigrate, or leave our bodies and head off to somewhere else.

Another branch of Kabbalah went off in search of the soul.


Other students of Kabbalah have looked for numeric patterns in nature and the Bible (you might remember seeing pieces of this in the film Pi).

Another group began, for lack of a better term, explicating God. They identified ten aspects, called sefirot. They’re super interesting. I won’t go into too much detail here, but I wrote an in-depth summary, which is basically the first 11 pages of this document. Jump back up here to read it later if you want. It’s not really the focus here.

There are ten sefirot. The universe tries to work in balance with them. In a well-balanced universe, the diagram of these aspects looks like this:

Pay special attention to numbers 1, 6, 9 and 10, which run vertically down the center of the diagram. We’ll get to why in a few.

Let’s step back about 600 years. Around 1200 BCE, the vedas were written down. These are the primary texts of Hinduism. They refer to chakravartin, kings who turn the wheels of the empire.

Some 2,000 years later, these turning wheels become energy centers called chakras. There are seven chakras along a vertical axis from the base of the spine to just above the head. You can find a brief explanation of each here.

They are depicted thusly:

A little bit ago, I asked you to pay attention to sephirot numbers 1, 6, 9 and 10. If you were to overlay the diagram of sephirot and the diagram of the chakras, you would find that these center-dwelling sephirot line up with the root, navel, heart and crown chakras.


While formal kabbalah study is reaching farther now thanks to not only the internet but also to synagogues and other Jewish community centers offering facilitated groups, it is highly unlikely more than a handful of individuals on the planet in the eighth century CE would have been familiar with both chakras and sephirot, much less visual representations of each, which were not widely published at that point (remember this is before movable type, so publications were hand-copied).

Vitruvius was a Roman architect who lived in the first century BCE. One of the writings he left behind was an instruction manual for how to draw a human with the proper proportions.

Those instructions include the architectural designs, based in geometry, for the proper proportions. You may have heard of the golden ratio, that pattern found in nature that is represented in leaves and snail shells and — you guessed it — ideally symmetrical human faces and bodies.

Around 1490 CE (more than 1,500 years after Vitruvius’s death), Leonardo da Vinci drew out Vitruvius’s design and included the ancient architect’s notes in a piece called Vitruvian Man. You might recognize it:

You probably guessed where this is going.

If you overlay the depiction of the sephirot upon Vitruvian Man, with keter above the head and malkhut at the base of the spine, it will line up, just as the root chakra will sit at the base of the spine and the crown chakra will float above Vitruvian Man’s head (and the throat chakra will line up on the throat, the brow chakra above and between the eyes, etc.).

If it was already unlikely that the people who depicted the chakras knew of the depiction of sephirot, it is even more unlikely that Vitruvius’s written instructions for a depiction of a man would have lined up with the sephirot, and just as unlikely that the creator of the depiction of the chakras would have foreseen this overlay with instructions written in a different language.

Now, let’s jump just a little to the side.

There is a visual depiction of something called Sacred Geometry. It starts with a circle, then another circle with its center point drawn from a point on the first circle. Next, another circle with its center point at one of the two intersections of the first two circles, continuing around until all the intersections overlap.

If you keep going in like manner, you get the flower of life. It looks like this:

You can see it drawn here:

You probably don’t have to ask, but yes, if you overlay the depictions of the chakras and sephirot everything lines up on intersections of circles in the flower of life, and Vitruvian Man fits rather comfortably inside this depiction as well.


But wait, there’s more.

Sacred geometry is an art form that lives within us.

Artists like Samuel Farrand intentionally use it in pieces like these:

But I’ve asked other artists, like Amy Fortier, about her use of Sacred Geometry patterns and she said it’s not something she’s heard of. But check out some of her artwork:

How did we get from sephirot to chakras to Vitruvian Man to Samuel Farrand and Amy Fortier? Across time and space, there’s a sacred geometry within our expression that seems to be there inside innately. It’s hard to deny the connection.


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