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The Divine Proportion – a Masonic Number. “Geometry has two great treasures…one is the theorem of Pythagoras; the other, the division of a line into extreme and mean ratio. The first we may compare to a measure of gold; the second we may name a precious jewel”. (Johannes Kepler).

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The divine proportion a masonic number

The Divine Proportion – a Masonic Number

“Geometry has two great treasures…one is the theorem of Pythagoras; the other, the division of a line into extreme and mean ratio. The first we may compare to a measure of gold; the second we may name a precious jewel”. (Johannes Kepler)


Why should masons know about the divine proportion
Why should Masons know about the Divine Proportion?

  • The Divine Proportion, or Golden Section, represented by the Greek letter Φ (phi), is one of those mysterious natural numbers like π (pi) that seem to arise out of the basic structure of the universe.

  • Φ appears clearly and regularly in the realm of things that grow and unfold in steps, especially living things – but also in art and architecture.

  • “To the Greeks therefore, and not to the Romans, we are indebted for all that is great, judicious, and distinct in architecture.”


Why should masons know about the divine proportion1
Why should Masons know about the Divine Proportion?

  • The Greeks (and others, like Renaissance artists such as Botticelli, Lippi, Michelangelo) may have felt that when a building or artwork was designed to incorporate Φ that it had the purest possible proportions and was the most pleasing to the eye – we will see why in a minute.

  • …allude to a proper application of the useful rules of architecture, whence a structure will derive figure, strength, and beauty, and whence will result a due proportion and a just correspondence in all its parts.”


The golden section a ratio
The Golden Section – A Ratio

  • The Golden Section is a RATIO – like 2:1. It is also called the “Golden Mean”

  • If there is a piece of string, and you divide it into a 2:1 ratio, then 1 part is twice as long as the other.

  • Also, the short part is 1/3 the length of the whole string, and the long part is 2/3 the length. The ratio of the shorter to the longer is 1:2, and that of the longer to the whole is 2:3.


So then what is the golden section
So then what is the Golden Section?

  • But…the Golden Section is a special ratio – where the ratio of the short part to the long part is the same as the long part to the whole.


So then what is the golden section1
So then what is the Golden Section?

  • So, “a” is to “b” (a:b) as “b” is to “c” (b:c)

  • a:b = b:c




Hmmmm
Hmmmm…

  • It seems as though the GAOTU may have laid out the designs for creation on his trestleboard using, among other things, the Divine Proportion.

  • “While we are employed in the study of this science we must perceive unparalleled instances of wisdom and goodness, and, through the whole creation, trace the Glorious Author by his works.”


So what is this ratio
So what is this ratio?

  • The Golden Section/Golden Mean/Divine Proportion is an irregular number – like π, and cannot be expressed fully in decimal form (i.e. π = 3.14128…)

  • Φ = 1.618033… or (1+5)/2

  • Somehow it seems fitting that we cannot represent the root of Sacred Geometry by an ordinary number.


So what about architecture
So what about Architecture?

  • The Divine Proportion was used by the Greeks – and is still being used by architects today to design buildings that are aesthetically pleasing.

  • There is evidence that the Great Pyramid incorporates Φ – in the so-called “King’s Chamber” and also in its overall dimensions.



Columns anyone
Columns, anyone?

  • The graceful curves of the Ionic column are designed using the Golden Section.


VOSL…

  • Exodus 25:10 – “Have them make a chest of acacia wood = two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high…” (ratio 2.5:1.5 = 5:3 = 1.666)

  • Genesis 6:15 – “And this is the fashion that thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it 50 cubits, and the height of it 30 cubits…” (50:30 = 5:3 = 1.666)

  • Φ = 1.618033… or (1+5)/2


Anything else
Anything Else?

  • It is likely that Virgil’s “Aeneid” and other great works of classical poetry used φ to determine metrical structure of the poem.

  • Mozart’s sonatas tend to divide in parts exactly at the Golden Section of total time of the work.

  • In Beethoven’s 5th Symphony the opening motto is repeated at exactly the Φ point through the Symphony (Bar 372) and also at the start of the recapitulation 1-Φ of the way through.

  • Stradivarius placed the “f” holes in his violins at the Φ point of the body structure.


Hmmmm revisited
Hmmmm… (revisited)

  • It now seems that the Divine Proportion was and still is used by men and women to build beautiful monuments and other works that are pleasing to the senses.

  • “…so as to compose delightful harmony by a mathematical and proportional arrangement of acute, grave, and mixed sounds.”


A little more math for anyone that s still awake
A little more math for anyone that’s still awake…

  • The Fibonacci series (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8,13, 21…) which describes the growth pattern of a population, is connected to the Golden Mean, because the ratio of any 2 terms tends towards Φ…

  • For instance.. 2:1 = 2.000, 8:5 =1.600, 13:8 = 1.625, 21:13 = 1.615…

  • Φ = 1.618033… or (1+5)/2

  • Each number in the series is called a “Fibonacci Number”


Fibonacci bunnies
Fibonacci Bunnies

  • Start with one pair

  • Mate during first month

  • One pair born next month and each month thereafter


Building a golden spiral
Building a Golden Spiral

  • Draw 2 squares of 1 unit each, side-by-side

  • Next draw a 2 unit square, and then a 3, and then a 5, etc

  • Draw quarter circles in each square, joining them up…


Building a golden spiral1
Building a Golden Spiral

  • The spirals increase in distance from the centre by phi every quarter turn…sea shells, snails, ferns, and many other living creatures are built to this specification


Operative masonry
Operative Masonry

  • How did our ancient brethren construct such mathematically rigorous designs, using only the tools that were available to them?


So what does this have to do with freemasonry
So what does this have to do with Freemasonry?

  • The Golden Section and its derivative constructs can be calculated using only 2 tools: the Square and Compasses.

  • If the S&C allow the calculation of the proportion used by the GAOTU when laying out the design for Creation on His trestle board, then I feel that there is some demonstrable validity to the spiritual symbolism that they are supposed to display.

  • I ask you now, Brethren: “Is it still true in your minds that there are no secrets in Freemasonry?”


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