Integral Theory and Sacred Geometry


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 Melchizedekin 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.

Dutch Emergence 2 – Healing Collective Trauma to Enable Action

Download the PDF here.

The ego … in its zeal to assert its independence, not only transcended the Great Mother, which was desireable; it repressed the Great Mother, which was disastrous. And there the Western ego demonstrated not just an awakened assertiveness, but a blind arrogance. … The Western ego did not just gain its freedom from the Great Mother; it severed its deep interconnectedness with her. … When the Great Mother [Purple] is repressed, the Great Goddess [Turquoise] is concealed. … And one may – it is a terrible realization – look in vain through Judaeo-Christian-Islamic religion for any authentic trace of the higher touch of the subtle Goddess herself. And that, we will see, would become a perfect and terrifying comment on an entire civilisation.” (Ken Wilber, Up from Eden – my additions in [square brackets] )

We are entering a new phase of our work and evolution as the CHE Netherlands, and it feels like this step we are taking is a fractal of the step the nation is being called to take, and indeed the planet as a whole.

During our retreat at the mid-point of the Fifth Day of the Galactic Underworld (May 22-23) – as the new consciousness really starts to take form in the mainstream and at the same time the shadow energy of the Fifth Night starts to seep in – we were called to a new step. It manifested in patterns such as the need to create clear structure, process, agreements etc, combined with a call to make explicit dissonance that we are feeling as individuals about the way the organisation might be shaping up, and about the way we are choosing to behave as individuals. The general theme was for more earthiness, realness, authenticity, clarity – basically “descending” energy as compared to the “ascending” energy that had been guiding us in recent months. The physical gestures that often accompanied the conversation included a strong slapping of the belly region!

At the beginning of the Fifth Day, we made a conscious choice to push outwards, expand, explore, diverge, ascend – and then to take stock in May. Now we are being called to put the foundations in place so that the many initiatives that are emerging can become rooted and fully manifest (descend).

At the same time as this was going on in the organisation, we have been confronted with a reality in the Netherlands of a very serious issue with the dikes. Marieke de Vrij, a highly respected intuitive, has been getting clear images the last couple of years of weaknesses in some of the key dikes. She had been going through the formal institutions (who had already tested her intuitive capacity and accepted its validity) until a couple of months ago, when she decided that they were not taking it seriously enough, were not moving ahead quickly enough, and did not seem to have the capacity to collaborate cross-institution to do what needs to be done. She decided to sound the alarm-bell in public, firstly amongst the more conscious population.

As she told us her story during the Dutch Confab (on May 29), we probed deeper into what it was in the Dutch psyche and soul that was preventing people from moving into action. She revealed a very significant characteristic, that I feel is not only Dutch-related, but connects to the dynamic that Ken Wilber describes for Western civilisation in the opening quote.

She said that the Dutch have a tendency to stay very much in the head and analytical domain, and that the whole belly and groin area is constricted and cramped. Given that we should move ourselves from that area, it means that there is a sort of action-paralysis, whereby people often find good reasons not to act. Sensing deeper, she explained how the amount of animal suffering in this country is truly unbelievable is you let it in (there was a programme on TV the other day showing young chicks going through a shredder). Somehow, we have managed to cut ourselves off from our sensitivity to the experiences of the animal world, and nature more broadly. That denial has as one consequence the paralysis of action.

In Spiral terms, you can see what she is describing as the transcendence and repression of Purple (the Great Mother Ken talks of above), which is leading to the lack of a solid foundation for the healthy expression of Red warriorship and creativity (to learn about these colour codes from Spiral Dynamics, click here). The way she described the Dutch dynamic was one wherein when people do act it tends to be fairly harsh action that creates turbulence around them, and so rather than act in that way, they hold back and don’t act at all. An emasculated culture. Without the embeddedness of the masculine Red action system in the feminine Purple sensing system, it cannot function healthily for the whole. In the Martial Arts, this is represented in the way you bow to each other, where the action hand is always held in the compassion hand.

One of the things I am initiating to help us engage this dynamic, is some Deep Ecology work, building on initial work by John Seed and Joanna Macy (more recently they refer to it as the Work which Reconnects). In this work, you really connect to the Great Mother, feel who you are as part of that, and listen deeply to what the rest of life is telling you at this time. There has been much critique of Deep Ecology work in the Integral community, mainly because it is not being seen in this evolutionary context. If it is used as a sort of romanticisation of a back-to-nature way of living, then it won’t necessarily serve the evolutionary impulse. If however it is used in a way to deal with the repression of the Great Mother that we have experienced in the Industrialised world (the burning of literally millions of women as witches is but one example of what is creating our collective pathology), then the consciousness that is brought to the process and participants is likely to help release the blocked energy from that repression so that we can move into rapid and effective action in the world.

Building on this insight, I got another one yesterday. I was watching the Trooping of the Colour for the Queen’s birthday in London on TV, and was deeply impressed by the powerful Purple and Blue systems at work. The discipline and commitment of those soldiers to manage to keep it all together was truly remarkable – many having just come back from duty in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. It all made me feel a bit home-sick! When my Dutch wife returned, and we were watching the highlights in the evening with our 4-year old boy Finnlo (who loved it!), I was eulogising about the beauty and power of it, and she just could not resonate with it at all! That set me thinking…

The lack of healthy Purple over here is bound to have repercussions for the Blue system (Blue emerges out of Purple, under influence of Red). Blue is also a system that makes things happen – responsibility, commitment to a cause, discipline in the application – all things which I know Andrew Cohen laments as lacking in this country when he is over here. The reputation the Netherlands has as a liberal country reflects a more individualistic tendency – people can choose what they want to do. That freedom of choice, if not embedded in healthy collective systems, can lead to paralysis – and so we go full circle to the water issue. Healing the individual interior Purple and Blue, will create healthy and rapid action out of Red and Orange. Healing the collective interior Purple and Blue should enable the emergence of new systems in the collective to manage the life conditions threat that is now on the doorstep. Revitalised Purple and Blue will also lead to a functional Green where the capacity to engage the diversity in the nation is activated to enable the country to deal effectively with the complexity of the challenges it is facing.

So that’s it for now! Needed to get that down and out. I’m intrigued to know what the Cloggies reckon, and if there are others out there who see this also as a dynamic in their countries or communities.

Integral Resilience

The essence of Integral Resilience is to maintain a dynamic balance between an individual’s, culture’s and structure’s wholeness and identity on the one hand (“agency” for Wilberians), and partness and belonging on the other (“communion”).

For the individual, resilience involves being clear on my Purpose and identity at this time whilst being open to sense and rapidly adapt to changes around me.

For a culture, resilience involves clarity of collective Purpose and Principles of behaviour, whilst being open to pick up the feedback of the world around and respond adequately.

For a structure (organisational, governmental, technological etc), resiilence involves the capacity for the structure to continue to deliver whatever it is that it is meant to be delivering, whilst learning from and adapting to continual feedback and more intense shocks from the world around.

When agency and communion are in a healthy dynamic balance, innovation, evolution and emergence occur in the dance of creative tension. We align ourselves as the evolutionary impulse of Spirit unfolding.

Conflict at Higher Levels

This is a mail that I sent to Andrew Cohen and cc’d Ken Wilber following one of their dialogues. I also copied Don Beck in and have included some of his comments below.

Dear Andrew,

I was listening to your conversation with Ken on IntegralNaked where you asked about conflict at higher levels. I think I may have something to add to the thoughts which came out then, based on some of the underlying dynamics which I see in the Spiral.
I am consciously using Spiral Dynamics here as I believe that the concept of tiers that Graves identified (with six systems per tier) is key to understanding your experience, Andrew. That is why I prefer not to use 3rd tier the way you are Ken, as we then end up with one tier of 6 systems, one of 2 and one of 4+… I believe there was deep insight in Graves intuition around three tiers of six systems.

In first tier, as you both agreed, conflict tends to emerge most strongly in Red and Blue. The reason for this is the strong sense of clarity about what one stands for, and the in-group / out-group ethnocentric worldview.

[Don: Red is the raw and impulsive expression of I:Me:Mine and Blue, likewise, is the most intolerant, unforgiving, and even punitive version of a We:Us:Our mindset. Blue is what it is because Red is what it is. The transformation from Red to Blue is often violent, wrenching, purifying, redemptive, conflict-producing, and single-minded.]

It is my belief that in the Gravesian “tiers” of six systems, there is a core dynamic which correlates with this experience. The first two systems of each tier (eg Beige / Purple and Yellow / Turquoise) are “entering” systems, where the tier is fading in. Beige and Yellow are both about just keeping one’s head down and getting on with what needs to be done to facilitate survival (individual at Beige and collective at Yellow). Purple and Turquoise are mystical systems where two major elements of the Great Chain are blending (at Purple body-mind, at Turquoise mind-soul).

The last two systems (eg Orange / Green and their 2nd tier equivalents) are “exiting” systems. They invite in greater diversity and complexify the clarity that existed in the central systems. They relativise and open up our systems for the next tier.
The two central systems (eg Red / Blue and Coral / Teal) are the places where the tiers really crystallise and great clarity is expressed. In 1st tier that is ethnocentric one-truth clarity. However at 2nd tier we experience a different type of clarity. I heard Ken say something recently that I have been suggesting to people for a while, namely that the emergence of Coral is equivalent to the emergence of what you call the Authentic Self. This ties in completely with these deeper Spiral dynamics, as 1st tier 3rd system (Red) was the emergence of the new individuated self (Gravesian code : “express-self without shame or guilt” – for one’s self. 2nd tier 3rd system (Coral) is also the birth of a new level of Self. I would use the same Gravesian code as for Red (“Express Self without shame or guilt”), but instead if it being for the ego, it is for the good of the whole.

I expect that like Blue, which creates higher meaning and purpose in exclusivist one-truth systems, Teal also creates higher meaning and purpose, but in inclusivist universal truth systems. Interestingly, the Gravesian code for Blue is “Sacrifice-Self for reward later”. I can see the same code apply for Teal – the sense of what you might call “top-down” surrender to make oneself available to what the universe is calling one to do / who the universe is calling one to become. There is an innate trust that if I do what I feel called to do now, the future will look after itself. I surrender to higher Universals.

[Don: I believe your description of Coral to Teal is accurate as well, and as long as humans are human, there will be conflict. But, as you also point out, this “conflict” will happen within the tradition of the impact of Green, Yellow, and Turquoise within mass minds and conceptual spaces.Just as the Graves code describes the pendalem swing between the warm and cool colors, it also, from a physics perspective, articulates why the major “quantum leaps” occur at a Seventh system which, also, becomes the First in the next Tier.]

Now by their nature, given their clarity and taking a stand, these third and fourth central systems generate conflict. They do not relativise. They stand for something, and are therefore likely to rub against people who stand for something else. It is clear how that plays out in 1st tier. In 2nd tier (Coral / Teal) I believe the conflict that emerges is that between the ego and Authentic Self.

The reason I think that this really emerges strongly only when Coral begins to come online, is also rooted in Graves’ theory – namely that there are normally three value systems interfering with us. So if the highest system we have access to is Turquoise, then we have both Yellow and Green as well. This could be a very static combination, as Turquoise escapes the material world (Graves’s code was “Sacrifice Self to existential reality”, i.e. accept what is, the core teaching of most traditional spiritual paths, what you call the Ground of Being), Yellow scuttles along doing its own thing (it is a very individualistic system) and Green is still exerting the 1st tier pull based on a fear of standing out. So it is only when Coral begins to light up that we really begin to free ourselves completely from the 1st tier energy, rooted in all the things you identify in Hell.

So that’s my take on why I think you are sensing that a new level of conflict begins to emerge at the higher levels you are working at. It is the nature of the central systems in each tier. Hope that helps! I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Love, Peter

(R)Evolution and the Sensitive Soul

[(R) for Rapid – thanks to Elisabeth Sahtouris for this one.]

They don’t mix well.

What is it about the closed Sensitive Self (Spiral Green) that makes it such a draining system to engage? (And I emphasise “closed” – “open” and even “arrested” I have had great joy engaging). And why do I find myself feeling increasingly unsympathetic and impatient towards it?

One of Clare Graves’ key conclusions was not that it was our task to get everyone to second tier, but rather that we should aim to meet people where they are at, creating the habitats that allow them to flourish as the people that they are (so in AQAL terms create alignment across quadrants).

However another of his major findings was how “value systems” emerge in interaction with “life conditions” (in AQAL terms, the four quadrants co-arise / co-evolve). Now our current global life conditions are those of the sixth major species extinction on planet earth – according to scientific definitions of numbers and rates of disappearance. In the previous five extinctions, the dominant species has gone down with many others, unable to adapt. So it would be an exception if we survived this one. However, there is a signficant difference with this one – we are the primary cause of it, so we can also turn it around. We are also now aware of this evolutionary process itself, that we are.

Now these life conditions call firstly for seeing ourselves as part of the interconnected and evolving whole that our planet and universe is, and secondly for us to design integral interventions and act rapidly whilst learning continually on the job.

The Sensitive Self has an issue with both of these demands. Seeing ourselves as part of an evolving whole, and therefore as evolving ourselves, has implications – namely that different people are at different levels of development, which means that I am at a different level of development to others around me – more evolved than some and less evolved than others. Particularly that last one is tricky for Green.

It’s my experience that Green is the last major stand of the ego (by which I mean our sense of separate self). It is a confusing system. It calls for inclusion and tolerance, and believes that everyone has their own truth and therefore must be included in everything. The result is that if anyone tries to tell someone centred in closed Green that they have an obligation or responsibility to do something, they are likely to get told in no uncertain terms that they have no right to tell them what they should do, as they are their own individual with freedom to be who they want and do what they like – so bugger off with your authoritarian oppression. However the evolutionary context implies a natural hierarchy where others do exist who can see things more clearly than you, and whose leadership it should therefore be normal for you to follow. This, in my experience, is where Green reaches its limits, and will often freak out projecting all sorts of past hurt about not being honoured, respected, included etc etc. Not very pleasant stuff to have to deal with.

The other demand – natural design and rapid action – is also too much for the Green system. The reasons are obvious really – design and action are not things best done by including anyone who wants to be included (or by people democratically elected), but by people who have the vertical and horizontal competencies to do so. Would you rather have your airplane passengers elect pilots from amongst their own numbers, or have qualified people appointed by the airline? We need functional teams, appointed by those with complex enough value systems to be able to make that fit – and if that selection team does not include you, then the ego and Sensitive Self goes ape.

So basically, the primary reason for us to facilitate as many people as possible (including ourselves) out of Orange/Green into Yellow/Turquoise is not that the latter are better systems, but that the planetary life conditions are demanding it, and if we want to survive this time round then we had better get on with it.

So no more time for pandering to hurt egos, trying to help people feel like they belong, meeting lacks in people by granting them a place, giving in to demands for diversity and inclusion just for the sake of it, or submitting oneself to heart-sharing sessions just to make someone else’s Sensitive Self feel better.

Only time for standing in our own strength, free of the past, connecting with others to have an impact when the need requires, thinking for ourselves and trusting our insights checked with a community of the adequate, and aligning all that we do behind a purpose that serves the good of the whole.

Time to get on with it. If we upset Sensitive Souls on the way, that hurt belongs to them and not to us. Don’t let it distract us and drain our energy. Release the past, feel the pull of the future and joy of the present, and do what needs to be done.