Since 2000 I have immersed myself in Integral theory and practice, starting with the works of Ken Wilber, following all the Spiral Dynamics Integral trainings, then starting to apply it to organisational and societal change processes as a self-proclaimed “Evolutionary Change Facilitator”. Through our company Engage! we have engaged organisations from multinational corporations through to small NGOs, school and local communities. In that process I have of course come to learn of and respect many others out there who are thinking and working from an Integral perspective, whether they use that title or not.
From around 2005, I started coming across and slowly exploring the world of sacred geometry and energy in its broadest sense. The books started to fill up the shelves. Then last summer (2007), following a trip to Avebury in the south of England (the location of the biggest stone circle on the planet and said to be the planet’s belly-button to the galaxy), I felt a strong call to give this all more explicit attention, particularly the field of earth energy. I knew that know I had start tuning in to what this all meant and what its implications were for me, my life and my work.
However, my agenda was full for the next four months, so I decided to keep it empty from February this year (2008), and explore what this new phase had to offer. As ever, when one creates space and holds a certain vibration around it, things started to move – rapidly. Without going into details of the journey here, I feel I now a fairly good sense of the basics of sacred geometry and energetics. As well as the books, I have spent time with Marko Pogacnik and Richard Leviton, and will be spending a few days with Drunvalo Melchizedek in September. This August I attended the first Integral Theory in Action conference, and coming back felt a strong need to see if I could connect up these two worlds. Wilber doesn’t explicitly mention sacred geometry in any of his works, as far as I can see. This is what this paper is about. We’ll see where it goes…
Holons and Holarchies
The essence of the relationship seems to lie in the concept of holons and holarchies, as originally developed by Arthur Koestler and taken up by Wilber. In its core, it is about parts and wholes. The definition of a holon is something that is a part and whole, and the assumption is that everything is a holon – so everything is both a whole in its own right and part of a bigger whole. Holons then arrange themselves in holarchies, examples being atoms-molecules-cells-multicellular organisms, or letters-words-sentences-paragraphs. So each new level transcends and includes previous levels. This also happens in interior dimensions, where new levels of individual and collective development also transcend and include previous levels.
Sacred geometry seems to me to be in its core about the relationship between parts and wholes. In the world of matter and nature, many studies have been carried out into these relationships. One of the seminal works in this area was The Power of Limits, Proportional Harmonies in Nature, Art and Architecture (Doczi, 1981). Doczi looks for example at plants, crafts, calendars, animals and philosophies, and discovers the same essential proportional harmonies. He coins a term to describe the pattern that he finds – “dinergy, the energy-creating process that transforms discrepancies into harmonies by allowing differences to complement each other” (p3). This is a perfect definition of an Integral process, and could well be used to describe what Wilber has done in his great body of work over the years.
In the physical world, these part-whole relationships are easy to measure. The basic composition of “dinergic” relationships is the “golden section, a uniquely reciprocal relationship between two unequal parts of a whole, in which the small part stands in the same proportion to the large part as the large part stands to the whole” (p2). The relationship is known in mathematics as Phi, an irrational number with no end (close to 5/8). This relationship manifests in a “golden rectangle” (also known as a Pythagorean rectangle) of 5×8 proportions, it creates a certain spiralling form and plays out in the Fibonnaci series of numbers. When organic matter grows, it grows according to these proportions. Doczi reports on many studies that show how people naturally prefer forms in which the parts are in this nature of relationship with each other.
So I believe that what we have in the golden mean is a mathematical description of the most adequate relationship between parts in a greater whole. In Integral language, this would mean the most ideal proportions in a holarchy. Now, as we can see in Box 2, the Phi number gets more subtle and precise as we move down the Fibonnaci sequence, and never ends. My postulate would be that this is a description of the growing depth and span of a holarchy. So the more levels of holon that transcend and include previous holons in a holarchy, the more refined and naturally supportive of life the relationships between the parts and wholes in the holarchy become. And as we know, it’s turtles all the way up and down…
Integral theory postulates that as a new level of holon emerges it re-arranges the relationships on the levels below, making the holons at that level more functional and bringing them closer to their true purpose and identity, thus enabling them to both be more refined and “agentic”, as well as contributing more effectively to the greater whole, and more “communal”. This would fit the idea of the parts and wholes coming into a more life-supporting relationship with each other, closer to Phi.
To take a simple example – when cells are transcended and included by the container of a molecule, they re-arrange themselves into more specific functions, held by the molecule. They go through another major transformation into greater differentiation and functionality as a cell container emerges to wrap around the molecules, and the same happens to the molecules. And a next step of greater integration and differentiation occurs as the multi-cellular organism emerges.
Implications and Investigations
So what? Great question.
There are many further tracks I could take this, making links into the various dimensions of sacred geometry such as the platonic solids, flower of life, energy generation, and looking at that that all tells us about the dynamics of holarchies. However for now I would just like to put this postulate out there and see what feedback it generates.
I have also primarily focused on the exterior perspectives above, as that is where most of the research and writing around sacred geometry has happened. I have a hunch that the same thing works in the interior dimensions (individual holarchies of development, and collective holarchies of fields of relationship). Maybe one day we will actually be able to measure the different energy fields that emerge as these interior fields develop – in fact, we probably already can. Then we could explore whether the resonance of those holarchy fields also matches a golden section proportion – without of course reducing the interior experience to an exterior number.
Why is this relevant to Integral theory? It will add a currently missing dimension, namely a more specific understanding of the dynamics and relationships between parts and wholes in a holarchy.
Why is this relevant to Sacred Geometry? It will locate this wisdom in a well-developed, broader theoretical field, and enable it to see its place in the bigger whole – releasing it by limiting it. This will contribute to taking it beyond what is often perceived to be a new-agey and vague esoteric domain, into a more rigorous and embracing intellectual as well as experiential dialogue – giving it more credence and sharpening our understanding in the process.
So – let me know what you think so far, any connections you see with existing writings, and any questions you think it would be cool to explore.