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The best way to describe the tetractys is a triangle with ten points flowing upward converging at the apex or highest point of the triangle.
The Tetractys’ Pythagorean Significance
For the ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, originator of the Pythagorean Theorem of geometry, the tetractys symbolizes the harmonic, mathematic, and geometric proportions that provide the foundation of creation.
There is a special significance found by Pythagoras in each line of the tetractys:
* First Line – The first line consists only of a single point. All things emanate from a dimensionless state, which is best described as a single point. The goodness of wisdom is often identified with the quality of oneness, unity or single-pointedness into which all other aspects join together.
* Second Line – The second line is two points connected by a single line representing the first dimension. Two points implies duality or separation from the Oneness or God, leading to strife, discord, and conflict. Strife is the power of division leading to the necessity of desire and motion, which leads to the virtues of courage and strength.
* Third Line – Here the dots are connected at three points, symbolizing the second dimension and the harmonious marriage of wisdom and beauty as depicted in the mythological figure of “Philotes” or Harmony.
* Fourth Line – The four mystical and ancient alchemical elements of earth, air, fire and water are represented by the four dots connected on this line.
The Pythagoreans found great meaning, hope and power in the knowledge of the tetractys as a means of achieving purity and peace of mind.
The Kabbalah’s Interpretation of the Tetractys
While the Pythagorean version of the tetractys is arithmetic in nature, the Kabbalistic interpretation of the tetractys is more esoteric in nature.
The Kabbalists, in a similar fashion to the Pythagoreans, also interpret the tetractys as a diagram of creation and of the way all things are organized in nature. Nevertheless, the Kabbalists go a step further by aligning it to the Tree of Life.
As found in the Tree of Life, the ten points of the tetractys symbolize the ten Sephiroth or the ten faces of God as well. The Kabbalists also saw a connection between the tetractys and the Tetragrammaton, which is the Hebrew name of the God of Israel or YHWH and is the way that the name of God is articulated.
Every one of the ten points of the tetractys can be replaced with a letter of the Tetragrammaton. The numeric value of each of these letters adds up to seventy-two (72).
The practitioners of the Hebrew tradition and the members of the Kabbalah consider the number seventy-two (72) as a holy number, because it represents the seventy-two (72) names of the Creator.
Regarding the above two interpretations given to the tetractys, a wearer of a pendant designed exactly in the shape of the tetractys would communicate the intent of the beholder to gain spiritual enlightenment, and to enjoy an intimate communion with the divine.
Sacred geometry illustrates the unity of life in our world like no other field of study can. The sacred geometry symbol, Flower of Life, for instance, adorned churches, cathedrals, temples and pyramids for centuries with its amazing beauty, while bridging all manner of religions, cultures and times. There seems to be something deeply natural, spiritual and aesthetically pleasing about the Flower of Life, for example. From both a mystical and analytical direction of approach, the concepts of sacred geometry have always been quite fascinating. This subject is ancient, vast and versatile. Nearly all classic artwork and architecture is based on it. Sacred geometry can be either taught for scientific reasons or enjoyed for its mystical and spiritual enrichment.
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