This week I’ve had the great pleasure to discuss The Orbifold Tarot with a Tarot Revolutionary: Enrique Enriquez. His questions are insightful and challenging, helping me understand my own work better from an outside mirror. He is doing what I think we should all do as readers: he’s mentoring me through myself — and at the same time reminding us that Tarot is larger than any single creator, just as life is greater than any one of us.
I will post the interview as a series, one question and answer per post. Enjoy!
E. E: I have a problem with the term ‘sacred geometry’ in that I find it redundant. If geometry is the soul of things, then this word should be indistinguishable from ‘sacred’. Do you agree with that? Is geometry the soul of things?
MBD: What an interesting question. My mind is doing Orbifolds! I’ve actually tried to avoid using the term to describe The Orbifold Tarot, but I think it is a logical landing point for people, so even when I do not call it a sacred geometry deck, others certainly describe it as such. I think on twitter I’ve succumbed to #SacredGeometry though, on YouTube too… ah, the trappings of social media and “popularity”!
The short answer is that yes, I agree the term is redundant. But, I don’t agree that geometry is the soul of things. Rather, I think geometry is a manifestation of consciousness, and that consciousness is the soul of things. However, consciousness needs a way of expressing itself, of manifesting, and geometry represents that expression — whether through shape, light, sound, or form; whether as waves or particles, geometry is how consciousness expresses itself.
But you raise some interesting points: what distinguishes the sacred from the un-sacred, or is this distinction a construct of the mind? And, is anything actually sacred, or is this also merely a mental construct? Does designating something as spiritual automatically infer the negative — that some things are inherently un-sacred?
On the surface, I would say that there is no distinction from the sacred or the mundane… that either everything is sacred, or nothing is — but if that were really true, what is it we’re seeking in spiritual practice?
I think that consciousness seeks to experience itself. As expressions of that consciousness, we seek to experience the pure consciousness that we ourselves are expressions of. In expression, in manifestation, consciousness moves away from direct experience, by becoming invested in the results of that expression, rather than experiencing manifestation as itself thereby forgetting its inherent nature as consciousness… by extension, we continually forget that this underlying consciousness is actually our true being. We move further outward into the expression of consciousness that is our manifest world, thinking that experience is in things rather than recognizing that our interaction with things reflects our own consciousness. So the split that divides the sacred from the un-sacred -is- false, in that it is a construct of our minds, but this construct distorts our experience of reality in such a way that it typically moves us further away from experiencing ourselves as pure consciousness.
So yes, part of the problem is in calling certain things sacred, because in doing so, we are saying that there must also be un-sacred things: definition of one thing automatically also defines its opposite. And yet, we nonetheless need a reminder of that inherent sacredness in all things — it’s just that some things are more accessible reminders than others. So even though all geometry is sacred, in the same way that EVERYTHING is sacred, certain geometric patterns remind us of our own experience as conscious beings more so than others, and this, then, is what comes to be termed “sacred geometry.”
I think that’s what I like, though, about geometry in general, or even just imagery that is not immediately recognizable as “geometric” — it is a language that is more basic than words. Words define, and in those definitions, oppositions and divisions are made. Geometry, particularly what is coined “sacred geometry” still defines, yes, but through much broader parameters. Those broader parameters, then, unite in their definition rather than separate… or at least express the continual play between division and unity in a way that words usually do not.
In thinking of this question, a few other things came to mind.
The first was making an analogy to “black.” Black is an absolute, a concept, but not in fact a reality — at least not in the manifest universe. This means that our experience of “black” is only relative, not absolute. So in comparative terms, it is not really redundant to say, “dark black,” “murky black,” “inky black,” or “blackest black” because these seemingly redundant phrases describe relative shades of an absolute that doesn’t exist, but that we can move closer to or further away from. Absolute black, if it exists, would likely be invisible — so we wouldn’t know this absolute black even if it were real.
So, is “sacred geometry” any more or less geometric than any other kind of geometry? Well, no, but its intent is different. By the same token, is “religious architecture” any more or less spiritual than “structural engineering”? Again, no, since they are both expressions of the same consciousness that we deem “spiritual.” BUT, Structural Engineering as an overarching (no pun intended) study of form is not necessarily concerned with bringing people closer to the experience of themselves as pure consciousness, nor in creating awe and wonder at the brilliance of that underlying consciousness. Religious Architecture, however, as a branch of Structural Engineering, is concerned with those things.
Similarly, the broad study of geometry may or may not be concerned with our remembrance of ourselves as expressions of consciousness, but as a branch of that inherent expression of sacredness that is geometry, “sacred geometry” points toward that experience. Again, this is more a limitation of language than anything else. Mathematics, geometry, and imagery are of course also languages, but they are more universal in their scope than our spoken languages.
This is actually what I love about Tarot — I’ve been studying mythology, philosophy, and spirituality for most of my life… but at some point, no matter how much study I do, no matter how much teaching those subjects refines my thoughts and how I explain them, words eventually fail to communicate the experiences and principles that make up our lives. I’ve read books upon books, words upon words, and I felt I had reached a limit where words could no longer explain what I experienced, learned, or sought. And so, I turned to tarot, because I find the language of imagery less restrictive — less divisive — than word-language. There’s more about that, but it goes a little off-topic for now…
A second thing that I thought of in answering this question was a debate that I face regularly in my other job as a yoga teacher. My approach to yoga practice is a physical one, in the sense that I approach yoga through the body. Yogasanas, or yoga postures, are central to my practice. There is, however, this divide among yogis where some feel that focus on the body, focus on posture, and particularly “alignment” (read: geometry) is false, superficial, and moves us away from “yoga” or “union” (the same unity I spoke of as remembrance of ourselves as consciousness). Some even go so far as to say that the body is irrelevant, and all that matters is the mind. Within this debate is the designation of some yoga practices as being “spiritual” and others as decidedly “not spiritual” — except that nobody can really decide which is which.
At the heart of the debate is the idea — and in my opinion, severe misunderstanding — that physical, postural, “alignement-based” yoga is a practice of applying exterior, absolute, idealized form on an interior, variable, subjective, and individual experiencer with an “imperfect” form.
I don’t see it that way. Instead, I see “alignment” as the even distribution of consciousness throughout the body. The geometry of alignment, then, is that geometry which expresses the body’s function and resilience that manages the forces of gravity and momentum efficiently. Wherever this optimal geometry is lacking, consciousness is dull or absent; wherever consciousness is dull or absent, “alignment” (optimal geometry) is compromised. And so, although any body position could be considered an “asana” or posture, it is only a “yogasana” (posture that aligns the practitioner with fundamental consciousness, expressing itself throughout the entire body) when it is not only structurally aligned, but when awareness is fully and equally distributed — and not every expression of a yoga posture fits this criteria… perhaps none do, but some postures move closer to this criteria than others, and they are not necessarily those that we recognize in pop culture as “yoga” poses.
The third thing I thought of was that experience and expression are two sides of the consciousness coin. These could be represented by “The Void” and “Manifestation” cards from The Orbifold Tarot. If the cards were placed back-to-back, and the black backgrounds were truly “black” in the sense as described above — invisible — you would have a disc, or a flat description of a sphere that is white on one side, and coloured on the other. For now, also imagine that the cards do not have a design on their backs. In this case, the white could represent pure consciousness within experience; the coloured side would represent that consciousness expressed. So which one is really, truly, pure, whole (excuse the redundancy) consciousness? Well, both are… or neither. That pure, whole consciousness actually exists within both: the two cards are two sides of one coin. Our way in to that consciousness, though, is between the cards. How do we do that? hmmm… try sliding the cards apart, so that the centre of one disc meets the edge of the other. This creates the vescica pisces, the in-between, The High Priestess. She is no more pure consciousness than the two cards were together, but in that division, she opens a door into that experience/expression singularity that can only be communicated in language paradoxically through dichotomous descriptors, but can geometrically be described as a sphere, a disc, or the two sides of that disc sliding away from each other…
This is just an example, however — even visual imagery has its limits. Depending on the context and application of these principles, “pure consciousness” is represented either by black, white, or all four colours appearing together… or perhaps not represented by any colour or card at all, but by the card outline itself… or the whole deck, or the numerous (though not truly infinite) possible combinations of any number of cards, numbers, shapes, and elements…