Spirals in Nature


The visual motif of the spiral is one of the oldest and most enigmatic sacred images known.  It is one of the earliest examples of human creative expression, appearing in nearly every  society in the ancient world.  The spiral has universal appeal and has a mysterious resonance with the human spirit, it is complex yet simple, intriguing and beautiful.  The spiral pattern is found extensively in nature – encoded into plants, animals, humans, the earth and galaxies around us.  Mathematics can explain the complex algorithms, sequences and equations that make up a spiral pattern, but it can’t explain the lure and fascination of the spiral to the human heart.  Here are some beautiful examples of spirals from the natural world.  Click on all photo’s for a link to the original site – Enjoy!

Sunflower Spiral

Sunflower Spiral (www.ratemyscreensaver.com)

Millipede Spiral

Millipede Spiral (www.magickcanoe.com/millipede/narceus-spiral-sm.jpg)

Vine Tendrils

Vine Tendrils (wikimedia.org)

Goat with Spiral Horns

Goat with Spiral Horns (www.bukisa.com/articles)

Nautilus Shell with Logarithmic Spiral

Nautilus Shell with Logarithmic Spiral (wikipedia nautilus logarithmic spiral)

The Nautlius Shell is a beautiful natural spiral.  You can find more on the Nautilus at my previous post on Fractals in Nature.  If you like sea shell spirals, find more great spiral examples on Xahlee’s site.

Garden Snail Spiral shell

Garden Snail Spiral shell (xahlee.org/xamsi_calku/snail/snail.html)

Whirlpool

Whirlpool (www.unoriginal.co.ok/gallerymisc58.html)

Spirogyra - green algae under the microscope

Spirogyra - green algae under the microscope (photo:Jan Parmentier http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk)

Romanesco brassica

Romanesco brassica (wikipedia)

Red Cabbage, compound spiral

Red Cabbage, compound spiral (photo: Ian Alexander http://www.easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~iany)

Cactus - succulent spirals

Cactus - succulent spirals (wikipedia)

Fern Spiral - archimedes pattern

Fern Spiral - archimedes pattern (by lopolis on Flickr)

Human Fingerprint - whorl

Human Fingerprint - whorl (at http://www.ridgesandfurrows.com)

From a tiny baby to the massive expanse of universe, spirals are all around us.  They link us all – me to you, you to nature, and us to the greater universe.   Maybe that’s the intrigue – the symbol that joins humans, animals, plants, earth, galaxies and beyond.  Incredible.

Human hair, double crown.

Human hair, double crown.

Spiral Galaxy

Spiral Galaxy (at European Space Agency http://www.sci.esa/int/science-e/)

If you’d like to leave a comment, scroll to the top of the post and click on “add a comment”.

Amazing Crop Circle Patterns


There are many theories about who or what makes the crop circles.  Theories include whirlwinds, earth energies, UFO’s and human hoaxers walking on planks.   Regardless of their origin I find them fascinating and beautiful.  Their geometry and patterns are exquisite, especially when you consider the intricacy of the mathematics and the enormous scale of the work (done in the dark!!).

2005 Waden Hill, Avebury, Wiltshire UK.  Copyright Steve Alexander.

2005 Waden Hill, Avebury, Wiltshire UK. Photo: Steve Alexander. Click photo for direct link to: http://www.temporarytemples.co.uk

Crop circles are geometric patterns that appear mysteriously in crop fields.  Research indicates the crop is not cut or broken, but is usually bent and laid flat in swirls.  Most patterns occur in cereal crops, usually wheat and barley, and appear to have been formed during the night.

2 Aug 2004 (UK).  copyright Steve Alexander

2 Aug 2004 (UK). Photo: Steve Alexander. Click photo for direct link to: http://www.temporarytemples.co.uk

Many crop formations are complex geometric structures and aren’t random patterns at all.  The crop circle below is a graphical representation of the number Pi.  You probably remember using Pi at school when calculating the circumference of a circle, it is an irrational number and is approximately 3.14159

Crop Circle of Pi - The Daily Mail UK.

Crop Circle of Pi - The Daily Mail UK (www.dailymail.co.uk)

Pi crop circle explained.

Pi crop circle explained (click photo for direct link to) http://www.thewalk.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/cropcircle3.jpg

There has been some interesting scientific work conducted into the geometry of the crop circle designs and shapes which suggest they are not meaningless or accidental, but actually depict complex ideas, numbers or shapes such as the Creation Numbers (3, 6, 9).   People have connected some of the crop circle symbols to subjects as diverse as star constellations, DNA, quantum physics, alchemy, and spirituality.   The crop circle below is a geometric pattern known as the Flower of Life pattern which is an important symbol in many cultures.

Crop Circle - Flower of Life pattern

Crop Circle - Flower of Life pattern. Click photo for direct link to: http://www.soulsofdistortion.nl

The Cube of Metatron crop circle (below) and the Tree of Life or Flower of Life crop circle pattern (above)  are derived from the sacred geometry of platonic solids which are patterns found throughout nature.

1 August 2007.  Sugar Hill, Aldbourne, Wiltshire UK. Copyright Steve Alexander.

1 August 2007. Sugar Hill, Aldbourne, Wiltshire UK. Photo: Steve Alexander. Click photo for direct link to: http://www.temporarytemples.co.uk

Platonic solids - Tree and Fruit of Life patterns

Wikipedia: Flower of Life

Some researchers are investigating Cymatics to investigate whether the crop circles are formed into naturally occuring geometric shapes due to vibration.  The picture below shows a water droplet containing a small colloidal particle.  The water is then vibrated and various geometric patterns occur which have been recognised in some crop circle formations.

Water particles make patterns under vibration.

Water particles make patterns under vibration. Click picture for direct link to http://www.sherdog.net/forums

Crop Circle - Wikipedia

Crop Circle - Wikipedia

Another interesting pattern

Another interesting pattern. Click photo to link direct to http://www.home.earthlink.net/

7 July 2008. Copyright Steve Alexander

7 July 2008. Photo: Steve Alexander. Click image to go direct to http://www.temporarytemples.co.uk/

Regardless of their origin or what is responsible for their formation in the dead of night, I’m sure you’ll agree these images and creations are wonderous and fascinating.  The search continues…

2005 Copyright Steve Alexander

2005 Photo: Steve Alexander. Click image to go direct to http://www.temporarytemples.co.uk/

Tidcome Down, Wiltshire UK. Copyright Steve Alexander

Tidcome Down, Wiltshire UK. Photo: Steve Alexander (click image to go direct to: http://www.temporarytemples.co.uk/

To leave a comment, scroll to the top of this post and click on “add a comment”.

Labyrinth – A Sacred Journey


When most people hear of a labyrinth they think of a maze but they are not the same thing.  A maze is a puzzle to be solved using logic to navigate the turns and blind alleys to find the right path.  A labyrinth has only one path.  It is unicursal.  The way in is also the way out.  There are various labyrinths that have evolved over time, with the most well known being the Cretan, Medieval, Classic and Chatres patterns.  

Lake Erie Arboretum, Pennsylvania. Photo: wikipedia

Labyrinths have been found in all cultures and continents since 2500BC.  Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Indians, Mayans, Europeans, Africans, Australians and Native Americans have all discovered the pattern of the labyrinth at some time and it has been adopted as a sacred symbol by many religions as a metaphor of a spiritual journey. 

Ancient Labyrinth at Galicia, Northern Spain. (Photo: wikipedia)

A labyrinth is an ancient and archetypal symbol related to wholeness.  It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path that we can walk.  It’s a physical metaphor for life’s journey, the journey each of us makes to our deepest self and back out again out into the world, usually with a renewed understanding.  When walking a maze, you make decisions at each turn.  A labyrinth offers only one choice.  Will I enter or not?

Hedge Labyrinth at Villa Pisani, Venice. Photo:wikipedia

 I’ve walked a labyrinth several times and each journey is different.   I’ve walked alone, slowly and quietly.  I’ve taken thoughts in with me and left them behind.  I’ve walked with others.  I’ve sat at the entry and decided not to walk.  I’ve walked in grieving and come out lighter.   I’ve walked in with expectation and come out empty handed.  I’ve stomped my way through anger sometimes.  I’ve let someone else set the pace.  I’ve sat down in the middle.  I’ve been bored.  

City of Troy, Yorkshire, UK. Photo: courtesy Simon Garbutt (wikipedia)

 I’ve paused before exiting deliberately trying to hold my new perspective as I return to my world.  I’ve shuffled past people along the way or had them overtake me.  I’ve kept a steady rhythm or varied my pace.  I experienced nothing but frustration.  I’ve felt lost even on a one way path.   I’ve experienced an intangible force that has united me with the greater scheme of things, anchored me to heaven and to earth.  Each time, it’s a new experience and teaches me something. 

Boston College Memorial Labyrinth. Boston, USA. Photo: wikipedia

 To me it’s a physical meditation, my eyes are open, I soon find a rhythm, I am moving yet feel more still as the journey goes on, it connects me to the sacred in a simple but mysterious way and reminds me the sacred cannot be confined to a particular place or building or culture or religion.  

Latin inscription on a pillar at the centre of a labyrinth. Cambridgeshire, UK. Photo: Michel Diujves, wikipedia

The decision to enter the labyrinth is a metaphor for our spiritual and sacred journey – and that decision is not always easy.  If you get the opportunity to walk a labyrinth, it will transform you in some way, if you let it.  You don’t need to know much more than this to begin, there is no right or wrong way to ‘do it’.  That is the wonder of the labyrinth, and again reflects our journey of life. 

Stone Labyrinth on the island on Bla Jungfrun, Sweden. Photo: wikipedia

I love the circular patterns of the labyrinth.  It’s a reminder that life twists and turns, life is not a straight path.  It doubles back on itself, takes us where we don’t expect to go, sends us back along the same way sometimes, offers a new perspective, and frustrates us with its long way around.  

Labyrinth at Aschaffenburg, Germany. Photo: wikipedia

But it also allows us to go at our own pace, to experience a new angle at every turn, to rest in the centre of ourselves and take an all around view.  It encourages us to move forward, keep going, turn, breathe, rest, retreat and return. Every journey is different.  It brings balance and calms the soul.  And that feels like life to me.  

Edinburgh, Scotland.

Edinburgh, Scotland (Photo: wikipedia)

If you’re interested in walking the path and seeing what you find, check out these  Australian labyrinths  or the   World-wide Labyrinth Locator  for somewhere near you.   

Labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral (Photo: wikipedia)

 A fantastic online Labyrinth is available too.  It is quite simple to use and recreates the  Virtual Walk of the Chartres pattern found on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France (see photo above).   When we’re busy, tired and don’t have time to slow down, these online paths are a real challenge.  Maybe that’s just what we need…   Let me know what you find or lose on your journey.

To leave a comment, scroll up to the Title of this post and click on “add a comment”

Peacocks


The peacock is a magnificent bird.  It’s a creature of inspiration to most of us,  who know (or hope) at some level that we are lovely, but are often intimidated about displaying our true colours in all their splendour.  The peacock displays his beautiful plumage for all to see.

Beautiful Blue Peacock.  Photo by: Absinthius (Flickr)
Beautiful Blue Peacock. Photo by: Absinthius (Flickr)

A peacock feather is a great example of a fractal in nature.  Its iridescent plumage is remarkable and stunning.  The white feathers have a pearlescent quality about them and reflect a different hue depending on the viewing angle.

White Beauty.  Photo: Guiseppe Toscano

White Beauty. Photo by: Guiseppe Toscano (on Flickr)

Woven into the myths and belief systems of cultures worldwide, the peacock presents itself through the science of alchemy, astronomy, Islam and Christianity, as well as Egyptian, Chinese and Indian cultures.  India has adopted the peacock as its national bird.
Peacock - Warwickshire Castle.  Photo: Haribo

Peacock - Warwickshire Castle. Photo by: Haribo (Flickr)

Some types of art depict peacocks looking backwards, towards their own tail.  A peacock’s feathers are renewed each year so this is considered a symbol for renewal.  Cultures around the world often pair peacocks and doves as focal points in the Tree of Life designs.  The one below is from India.

Tree of Life Peacock.  (exotic indian art)

Tree of Life Peacock (www.exoticindiaart.com/product/PB77/)

Peacocks are pure of heart.  They pair with a mate and are loyal and faithful to their partners.  To many, they also symbolise eternal love.   The bright spots are known as ‘eyes’ and inspired the Greek myth that the goddess Hera placed the hundred eyes of her slain giant (Argus) on the tail of her favourite bird.

Blue Eyes.  Photo: TodayIsAGoodDay

Blue Eyes. Photo by: TodayIsAGoodDay (Flickr)

Peacocks are a symbol of beauty, reminding us to take pleasure in life.  It is a symbol of beauty, prosperity, royalty, love, compassion, soul and peace.   In buddhism the peacock symbolises purity and their feathers are highly prized.

White Peacock.  Photo:Be Khe

White Peacock. Photo by: Be Khe (Flickr)

I love this next picture.  It’s a hybrid species, a cross between a white and blue peacock.

The White and the Blue.  Photo: Chi Lui

The White and the Blue. Photo by: Chi Lui (Flickr)

In one of Aesop’s fables, the peacock goes to Juno (the Roman name for the greek goddess, Hera) and he complains that the nightingale has a sweet song, and he does not.  Juno replied that the peacock has great beauty and size.  The peacock asked what good was his beauty without a great voice.  Juno wisely replied that every creature has its gifts and faults, and they should be content with all they have and who they are.