Sacred Geometry

mark mandalaFrom time to time I enjoy sharing with you some art that has come to my attention. Today, I want to make you aware of this beautiful piece of what I’d call “mystical” or “sacred” geometry. In sacred geometry, the number of features in the shape carry symbolic value. A common symbol of sacred geometry is the use of the triangle or trefoil to represent the Trinity. Sometimes symbolism is conveyed in sacred art simply by the number of a given object in a visual field–for example, our Christ window at the front of our sanctuary includes seven drops of blood. The seven drops of blood represent the seven last words of Christ found in the Gospels. Coincidentally (I doubt each of the Gospel writers knew that their telling of the life of Jesus would be some day combined with the other three to form what we call “The Gospel.”) seven is a symbolic number throughout scripture signifying completeness. The six days of creation work combined with the seventh day of rest is the foundational narrative for this symbolic value. The symbols can be explained, but sometimes delving into the symbols involves a Divine encounter.

So, I share this piece of art from a friend who is the pastor at the United Methodist Church at Verdigris, Rev. Mark Whitley, who gives some explanation on the themes found therein:

The mandala represents the six days in the creation story in Genesis 1. The gold/silver pulsating center represents God and the moment before creation. The black pupil center represents the tohu vabohu (universal chaos, emptiness, nothingness, void) in Genesis 1:2. The “cool secret” to the mandala is how the rays emanate from the center. Note that there are six sets of four rays, moving from shortest to longest. The rays actually emanate from the base of the Hebrew word רוח (ruach) painted six times around the center. The six sets of ruach represent the six times (days) God (the Ruach Elohim) spoke into the chaos to cause creation to come into being. The six sets move forth through the black chaos to create original blessed and perfect creation, “Eden,” which is represented by the six-sided star in the perfect colors of the rainbow.

The thin black border around the star represents sin coming into the world, which brings a new kind of chaos represented by the swirling, intermingling of the colors, which even contains a little black.

The last ray emanating from the last letter in רוח carries the gold (perfection of God) carries all the way through the gold/silver pulsating center in continuity from the center connecting to the complete gold field beyond creation which represents the end of time when all is made whole, complete, and perfect. The colors come back together in their original place and pattern at the outer rim representing the completion of creation in final redemption and healing.

The gold from the center also swirls among the chaotic swirling colors representing Emmanuel, God With Us, present at all times in the process theological unfolding of deliverance into ever-new creation. The pantheistic gold/God is never apart from creation, the God as “was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.”

2 Comment(s)
  • Rev. Mark Whitley Posted 02/19/2014 11:54 pm

    For the record, this was a seminary project for a class that was called “Art and the Practices of Ministry.” The piece, which is one of only two attempts at painting I have ever done, “evolved” from a very simple concept to what became the final “artwork.” As most of that “evolution” happened between midnight and about 4:00am across several nights (working seminary students will relate), I suspect my exhaustion helped with some spiritual susceptibility along the way.

    More than I ever expected, the piece has grown in value (personal), utility, and meaning over the years as I occasionally find elements (such as the Fibonacci Spiral) in the painting that were not put there by intent or purposeful design when I painted it.

    Others have found it interesting. Or challenging. Or just colorful. One student in a Bible study I taught even wondered what I was smoking when I painted it.

    The fact that my little painting continues to have some life amazes and delights me, so a special “thanks” to my friend and pastoral colleague, Rev. Nathan Mattox, for sharing it with others.

    Be at peace,

    Rev. Mark “I’m no Van Gogh” Whitley

  • Rev. Mark Whitley Posted 02/20/2014 2:15 am

    Oh, and I did make an A! LOL!

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