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SACRED GEOMETRY AND STORY

I've been fascinated with archetypes in stories for a long time now, but since I delved deeper into studying Sacred Geometry, I have begun to notice some fascinating correlations between the classical tools of storytelling and this sacred lore. I’m not trying to discover something new, but rather explore an inherent principle that I believe most authors use without necessarily being aware of it.

INTRODUCTION


For centuries, writers and writing instructors have been seeking inspiration in mythology and folklore to derive and complete a system for structuring stories. From the research of various authors it is apparent that there is an intuitive structure behind all stories no matter when, where or by whom they have been written. The question remains, does a storytelling blueprint exist and could it be derived from the pattern of creation itself? A pattern that is already inherent in every writer.
There are the basic universal patterns recognised through emotions rather than logic, because they are based on the primal forces of life and the basic principles found in nature. And what is art but an expression of nature’s creativity?
Aristotle named this Memesis and perceived art as a copy of life and a model for beauty, truth and grace. Although there are endless possibilities and new horizons to be found in the art of writing, there are certain fixed principles that simply cannot be overlooked.

The study of a universal creative process has been for centuries and most probably even millennia observed in a discipline called The Sacred Geometry. This ancient field of study suggests that the universe was created according to a geometric plan of forms, shapes and symmetry. The study of geometry has its roots in observing nature and in fact, the word Geometry comes from the Greek word Geos (Earth) and Metron (to measure). Together the literal translation would read: “Measuring the Earth.”

This study of the philosophical value found in the basics of geometry was considered sacred and became a universal language mainly among philosophers, alchemists and artists.

The latest studies suggest that Sacred Geometry originated in Egypt and was later inherited by the ancient Greeks, who developed a complex study, which became the base of how we perceive this lore today.

The ancient Greeks believed the world shared a certain symbolic pattern of shapes that ceaselessly manifest in nature, including all plants, animals, the human body and generally across the entire universe. Plato and his academy studied geometry mainly for these philosophical purposes and mathematics itself was to provide a map of the human psyche. In fact, above the entrance of Plato’s Academy a sentence was inscribed: “Ageômetrêtos mêdeis eisitô,” which could be translated as: “One ignorant of geometry shall not enter.” 


FROM ONENESS TO DUALITY


In general, whenever one is to construct a certain geometric shape, it is essential to create the first dot or the central point, which can be extended either into a line or a curve. In Sacred Geometry, lines are considered masculine and curves feminine shapes and that is where the game of endlessly attracting opposites begins. It is the most basic principle of life, innate to everything, including the micro cosmos of the atoms or the macro cosmos of the solar systems. Protons and electrons attract each other and form atoms, that later attract each other and construct molecular systems, in the same way the sun attracts the planets and the planets attract the moons.

However, without the initial central point, the magnetic principle that attracts both the opposing energies, there would be no shape and no motion. Metaphorically, one could say that the central point is the source of all creation. The Big Bang theory, in fact, is also based on the thought that the universe spread out of the hot density of a single point

And just like in geometry no shape can be constructed without the first central point, no story could be told without the idea, the essence of all creative endeavours. Why this idea flourishes in the writer’s mind remains a mystery, however, it is certainly the main reason for anyone to start a creative process in the first place. It is the inspiration that sets off the desire and will for artistic manifestation. 

Metaphorically, a story could be compared to taking a deep breath. One draws a breath from deep inside, pauses for a tense moment, and then finally exhales only to take another breath. The original central point, from which everything derives, expands and returns and can be found in various forms in nature. Just like all colours emanate from white light, how all planets of the solar system circle around the sun, how all negative and positive numbers start from and return to zero or how seeds carry the genetic information of entire trees, similarly the story develops from this idea, the central point. The central point, or the idea, is represented by the central character or the protagonist around whom the story revolves. The protagonist thus becomes the central representation of the idea.

While the idea brings inspiration to the creative process, the protagonist becomes the first milestone upon which the story is built. And this milestone needs to be interesting. Perhaps that is why most writing techniques taught to writers, indicate that the protagonist needs to have a strong goal, that he needs to want something very badly so that the audience desires to know how and what the result will be. While the external goal is necessary for the outer journey, it is underlined by the internal goal or to say the inner need for change, a development that the protagonist must undergo in order to win or fail in the end.
The protagonist’s inner need poses the first opposing power or the inner conflict. This internal conflict stems from the protagonist’s psyche and further confrontation with it poses the possibility of the protagonist’s emotional development. This is why the protagonist will have to face opposing powers, because they actually hold the key to the change that needs to take place. And so after the initial spark, or the idea, represented by the protagonist, comes the conflict, the second milestone of story structure, or in geometric forms, the first line or curve that may be created from the initial central point.

Just as lines and curves shape geometric forms, so do conflicts shape stories. Whereas the protagonist could be compared to a seed that has the potential to become a plant, it is the actual confrontation with the elements or weather that make the seed stronger and allow it to take root in the ground. Only then it possesses the possibility to grow and become an actual plant. If there was no conflict, there would be no growth and therefore no story. Like opposites that create the basic design of the universe, it being the joining of neutrons and protons in atoms or the ever attracting and opposing male/female energies, these fundamental tensions also create the basic design of story. Stories are built on these opposing powers because it is the crisis of confrontation that brings about the solution and thus also the reason for actually telling the story.

In every myth, legend or tale, one finds the ever struggling battle between life and death, good and evil, love and hate or the conflicts of power versus submission, nature versus man or men versus women.

In this question of life and death, the main conflict must be strong enough to carry the whole spine of the story. Therefore, the conflicts are usually represented by the antagonistic forces. The antagonistic forces may be abstract such as natural catastrophes, wars or diseases, even poverty  or someone’s personal flaw.

Some depictions of antagonists are exaggerated to appear more devious, and there's a distinct difference between them and the main protagonists - for example monsters, evil kings and queens and etc. who, although pure evil, reflect the seed of evil in all the main protagonists. Sometimes the antagonist is just too evil to gain any sympathy. 

It is easier to draw things in black and white - the evil is defeated, destroyed and life goes on, nonetheless, if the antagonist has a human flaw; it makes him not only more vulnerable but also more powerful on the whole. Perhaps it is so because the antagonist poses not only the main challenge and the main conflict, but most importantly, it holds the key to the protagonist’s inner need for change. In fact, most writing instructors stress the fact that the antagonist is a part of the protagonist that stands in the way of the resolution or symbolically, the ultimate enlightenment. It is the latent suppressed side of the protagonist that becomes a living nightmare until the protagonist finally faces it and either wins or loses.

C.G. Jung called this archetype shadow and in his various works he stressed the importance of realising one’s shadow and being able to tame it. Once a person manages to willingly confront his own shadow, only then he will be able to fully embrace his true and whole Self. 

The shadow thus reflects a psychological conflict found in the protagonist, being it a suppressed emotion or an unpleasant memory that gains power over the protagonist and simply must be revealed and most ideally also understood and incorporated within. 
No matter how terrifying the shadow is, just like in the yin and yang symbol, it carries a seed of good as well. This gives the shadow the potential to be understood and accepted by the protagonist’s psyche.
In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo makes peace with his shadow, the creature Gollum, because he has a strong inkling that the creature has a purpose on his journey. And it truly does, because only during the final fight Frodo is able to let go of the ring and finally destroy it.
In FrankensteinThe Modern Prometheus, the demonic creature that Frankenstein creates carries not only destruction, but also every creature’s need for love, acceptance, and understanding. The more Frankenstein is repulsed by his creation and suppresses it, the more powerful and destructive it becomes.

There are also stories where the main protagonist may seem more antagonistic than the actual antagonist. Such antagonists may simply disagree with what the protagonist wants and thus shine a light on what they need instead. For example in Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara’s main antagonist is chaste Melanie - a woman of great virtue, who actually loves Scarlett dearly.

It’s easy to destroy the antagonist and let the protagonist win, but what is more challenging is to understand the antagonist in order to understand the story. Just like in Sacred Geometry Vesica Piscis depicts two circles with their own central points or symbolically said, their own selves becoming one, so should the protagonist in an ideal state accept the antagonistic forces as an inseparable part of his journey. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the mystical Vesica Piscis is considered to be the gateway to the universe, the shape in which all other shapes are born. 

To many ancient civilisations this shape symbolised the fundamental unity of opposites that forms space and time. In various myths, legends and particularly in alchemy, this unity of opposites was called The Hieros Gamos or The Sacred Marriage and was often depicted by other symbols such the Caduceus, Yin and Yang, Mercury or Hermés, the Greek androgynous God

And so after all the battles between good and evil, shadow and light, protagonists and antagonists, the story finds its balance or peace in the conjugation of the two ever struggling dualities. Only once the opposites find balance are they able to bring about the important and needed change, something new that rises above the ever-struggling dualities and that holds the potential for the ultimate completion.






Creation of Vesica Piscis and two equilateral triangles within it.



TRIANGLE IN STORY

“A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end"
Aristoteles


Whenever someone tells a story from personal experience or something he has witnessed, read or seen, he usually expresses it in the simplest way – how it began, what happened and what the conclusion was. Even though we can start from the end or the middle, without the three stages, the story would have no meaning. These three pillars are the basics of storytelling. They construct all myths, legends and fairy tales, but also novels, dramatic plays and screenplays and are even apparent in the structure of academic texts, where an introduction precedes the main body of the text and results in its conclusion. Perhaps it is the past, present, future principle already inherent in the writer’s mind that forms the story, either way, the ceaseless struggle of dualities becoming one is the principle of all creation.

And so if at the beginning of a story the protagonist is confronted with the conflict presented by the antagonistic powers, in the middle these two powers struggle against each other and in the end they result in either ascent or fall. No matter what happens, the protagonist will never be the same again. The story has taken its toll and an important change is bound to happen.
For example in The Little Sea Maid by Hans Christian Andersen, the Sea Maid starts off with the wish for an immortal soul. The conflict is, though, that her wish can come true only if she wins the heart of the prince. She is faced with the antagonist, the princess who wins the heart of the prince instead, but the Sea Maid rises above her jealousy and instead of killing the two and becoming a Sea Maid again, she would rather sacrifice herself and face her destiny of turning into sea foam. She is rewarded with an ascent to the heavens, where she joins the fairies of the air and thus is granted with an immortal soul after all.

Although writers have also been using four or even five act structures throughout history, the very core of a story is mainly built around the classical three-act structure. 
In Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell draws out The Monomyth, the pattern found in most myths, as a recurring cycle consisting of three phases: Departure, during which the hero leaves his home or familiar world and ventures into the new world; Initiation, where the hero is subjected to a series of tests, he learns, grows and strengthens his character; and Return, where the hero brings the elixir or the result he has found for himself back home or back to his normality for the benefit of others.

This basic trinity could be symbolically compared to a triangle. Because a triangle creates three points, it symbolises the number three or the perfect union of the two that creates the third. The ancient civilisations considered the triangle a powerful symbol of a sacred trinity or the triad that makes all existence possible. It was a symbol of birth, manifestation and creation. In Christianity, it depicts The Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and in Pagan beliefs the male, the female and the creation, simply the mother-father-child archetype. In Paganism the upside down triangle was a symbol for female powers and the right side up for male. Interestingly, together the triangles create the David’s star, the famous symbol of Judaism that represents the “as above so below” principle of life or the power of “one to be all.”

Furthermore, triangle also represents the primal functions in life such as birth, life and death or past, present and future. Curiously, the symbolism of the trinity has also been used in many folk and fairy tales (three wishes, three nuts, three guesses, three princesses, three little pigs, three bears etc.)

In Sacred Geometry triangle is considered the most stable form that represents the harmonious unity of body, mind and soul. In numerology, the first three numbers are the key numbers from which all of the others are synthesised. From the union of zero rise oneness, duality and trinity and all the other numbers continue on this trinity principle. If a triangle symboliSes anything that is being born or created, then it is perhaps natural that also a story’s basic structure stems from this powerful symbol. In fact, the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle illustrated the plot structure of drama as a basic triangle in his Poetics. The lowest left point represented the Protasis, the highest peak Epitasis and the lowest right point Catastrophe.



CIRCLED CROSS IN STORY


Every living thing tends to follow the rhythm of natural cycles, this omnipresent law. Everything is born, grows, learns, gathers experiences and finally dies to be born anew. Just like nature goes through the seasonal changes of spring, summer, autumn and winter each year, or like each day follows the rhythm of the morning, noon, afternoon and night, so are all creatures born, grow to be adults and turn old. 

Societies are structured the same way. We start off being nurtured at home, then we go to school, find ourselves some work or a career to focus on and then we retire. Even our everyday life holds this inherent pattern. We wake up, do our duties or enjoy the day before we go back to sleep and wake up in the morning to start all over again. We are even reminded of this perpetual rhythm in the way we view time, in the twelve numbers that also reflect the twelve seasons. The cycles remain fixed, yet are never quite the same and thus keep the wheel of life twisting and turning all the way to eternity.

Perhaps it’s logical that if the macro and microcosms and every living being repeats the same perpetual cycles, these cycles could also affect the human psyche and its creative processes and results. It’s true that just like a tree repeats the cycle of bursting to life, its crown growing to decay and being born again, so does the protagonist undergo the process of realising something in order to change and start anew. And while the outer journey symbolically reflects the protagonist’s inner journey, the inner one reflects back to the outer, completing the perpetual withdrawal and expansion.

The circled cross is one of the oldest symbols. In most cultures, it represents natural cycles from the light and dark parts of the day to the yearly seasonal changes. In regards to writing, the cross could be compared to the basic skeleton of the story. It’s the four solid pillars or the four acts that intersect at the central point/central character around which the action revolves and spreads out to the whole of the circle/journey, which again reflects back to the center.

In the cross pattern, the stages of the protagonist’s journey could be compared to the four seasons or four stages of the day:

As the sun rises or a new season begins and nature is awaking so does the protagonist awake to a new journey triggered by a conflict, which was caused by the inner need for change. However, the protagonist still remains more or less oblivious to why the journey has unfolded.

As the sun ascends or as the brightest months approach, nature is bursting with life and adventure, and so does the protagonist’s journey. It’s the time of the biggest challenges and struggles against the antagonistic forces, which were brought about by the conflict. This is the part of the story where the internal and external coalesce in a rainbow of colors.

As the sun begins to set or as life retreats back to the roots to face the inevitable autumn changes, similarly does the story action retreats inward, and the protagonist goes through an inner realization, which results in him either willingly or unwillingly accepting the inner need for change. Either way, it’s during the middle of the journey that the protagonist changes the most.

As the night creeps in or during the peaceful wintertime when nature gathers power beneath the surface, the story begins to reveal the true reason for the journey. The protagonist allegorically goes through his own underworld and is faced with the biggest conflicts in order to embrace the final chapter of his journey, during which he either ascends or falls.

Finally, as the moon fades, giving space to the new dawn of the day, or as nature readies for the new seasonal cycle so does the end of the protagonist’s journey result in a possibility of another one. There’s a dawn of a new beginning, which stems from the ending and its message.

Just like the periods between the daily or seasonal cycles, the circle balances the whole. Therefore, once the cross of the story plot is decided, the circle comes into play to smooth the edges and fill the gaps with smaller subplots, twists and turns that make the story move onward gradually and rhythmically. The circle is the world of various details that enrich the protagonist’s journey. It’s the harmonic unity of all the characters, plots, and themes, which envelops everything and thus seals the initial message. However, there is always the possibility of further sequels to one journey and so the circle may become a spiral that unfolds new, limitless possibilities.

In my opinion, all writers naturally incorporate the Circled Cross pattern in their work, however, becoming aware of it helps in times when we struggle with certain parts of our story or character development. 

Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey pattern




PROPOSED STORY STRUCTURES BASED ON THE SACRED GEOMETRY PHILOSOPHY


If the principle of creation found in Sacred Geometry is inherent in all that was created, it’s perhaps logical that it infuses all the creative processes as well. Particularly the art of storytelling, because sharing a story means sharing the human experiences of life and death, creativity and destruction, the archetypal battles between positive and negative.
The basic geometric shapes are present in various texts on storytelling, especially in the screenwriting manuals. However, each of these teachings carries an individual and very complex method of its own and so I outlined my own simple manuals for constructing a story based on the Sacred Geometry principle of creation and also incorporate the already established lore of story structuring.

The Triangle Story Structure relates to the establishment, confrontation and resolution of the main conflict: It’s the beginning and middle that culminate in a conclusion.
And The Circling the Cross Story Structure helps in constructing the story as a complete journey and hold the key to the heart of the story, or in other words, the reflection of the outer journey in the inner journey of the central character. Some writers may later decide to shape the story into a rectangle, cone or perhaps even a dodecahedron, however, the basic principles remain the same in the process of creation and thus the central point, the lines, crossing and curves are omnipresent in all shapes and all stories. They are the source of all manifestation.