My latest book, The Grail Mysteries, features the Vesica Piscis in a faery tale for adults about shamanic sex rites and Sovereignty, so I thought it might be useful to delve down deeper into this symbol to show its metaphorical meaning.
The universe communicates with itself through pictures – colourful symbols and metaphors. Perhaps that’s why we find, as shamans, that symbols and metaphors are the main way in which the spirits talk to us, and we also use symbols and metaphors to talk to them. A picture speaks a thousand words, as they say, and it utters those words through the vibrational resonance of its sacred geometrical dimensions and colour and sound frequencies.
All of the above is also true of symbols used on heraldic devices – like royal coats of arms – which are often, in fact, powerful and protective talismans. A talisman is a magical design of symbols that is charged with the force it is intended to represent. In other words, sacred geometrical designs are used to represent the universal forces that are in harmony with what their owners wish to attract. The more in harmony it is with those universal principles, found in Nature, the easier it is to attract the force.
This means that for any enterprise or relationship to flourish, we need to use and abide by sacred geometrical symbols which represent that force in Nature. We will need to talk to the universe, or Nature spirits, in a language that they understand.
And at the heart of this language is the Vesica Piscis, so named in Latin by medieval scribes because they thought it resembled the bladder of a fish.
However, it so much more than a bladder of a fish: everything that has ever been, or that will ever be, has flowered, flourished and fruited out of this initial seed of life,
The Vesica Piscis has been described as the womb from which all of the Creation is born, from the realms of spirit into the realms of materiality. It is transcendent in nature because its shape spirals out into infinity in ever-increasing circles, and it also spirals in, into infinity, in ever-decreasing circles.
To quote Nicholas Mann in Energy Secrets of Glastonbury Tor.
“The Vesica Piscis provides a simple way of arriving at the basic patterns and measures of sacred geometry, especially the fundamental ratio of the Golden Section….. These are the ratios, proportions and harmonies found in Nature, in the form of plants, animals, crystals and the human body. They are also present in music and mathematics, and so form the underlying structures of creation.
“The Vesica Piscis is a powerful symbol of the creation and growth of forms in the natural world… It is possible to imagine the progression created by the Vesica Piscis endlessly unfolding the inner dimensions of the Otherworld as it endlessly unfolds in the external world. The symbol is the expression of the ideal proportions of the archetypal inner world passing into visible manifestation, and the tangible proportions of the outer world returning into the world of the external.”
Where the two circles of the Vesica Piscis intersect is known as the mandorla (the almond shape in the centre) and it represents the womb where the Seed of Life is birthed into the duality and then eventually evolves into the trinity – it is the seed bed of all trigonometry.
We see the Vesica Piscis in Nature all around us. We can see it in the human body (the microcosm) and also in outer space (the macrocosm). As above, so below.
We can trace the Vesica Piscis back for at least five thousand years in temple building designs…. but before going into some of those, I’d like to make what may be a controversial suggestion. Could it be that those all wide-hipped “Venus” figurines – some of which go back about 25,000 years – are also based on the Vesica Piscis with the mandorlas mirroring their wombs?
You may find that a little far fetched – and I admit the realisation only came to me after studying the Vesica Piscis for several weeks to the point where I was seeing them everywhere! But please take a look at a few of these pictures anyway, and then I’ll get back to the more authoritative and authenticated stuff.
We’re pretty sure that our ancestors during the Megalithic period built their sacred sites with the Vesica Piscis as the seed. Prehistoric quadrangles, derived from the Vesica Piscis, were discovered by Professor Alexander Thom as bases for the ground-plans of many European stone circles such as Avebury, Stonehenge and Carnac.
Scholars also believe that the Vesica Piscis was at the heart of pyramid building. The exterior angle of the Great Pyramid of Giza can be reproduced with the Vesica Piscis, and there are many other indications that the pyramids were built on sacred geometrical lines, as we can see in this diagram, where the Golden Mean of phi is represented in the dimensions of the pyramid.
The alchemists of old referred to this fundamental universal principle as the Sacred Marriage, where the male solar force, represented by one circle, fertilised the female lunar force, represented by the other circle. Between them, they give birth to the Child of the Conjunction, or the Child of the Philosopher – otherwise known as the Philosopher’s Stone or Holy Grail. This is why in my book The Grail Mysteries, the Vesica Piscis comes into the story when Myrddin (Merlin) and the Company of the Grail reach the Winter Solstice and the Marriage of the Sun and the Moon takes places on several levels, including the human one.
Norman and medieval churches across Europe used the Vesica Piscis as the heart seed of their sacred architecture, and the mandorla or Holy Grael also frames much of Islamic art and the Tarot.
Mandorla is the Italian word for almond. The almond is an ancient symbol for the closing up of valuable contents in a hard, almost impenetrable shell. It is a mysterious image of concentration upon the light that shines from within. During medieval times, the almond was interpreted as a symbol of the embryo enclosed in the uterus.
The Vesica Pisces was used to design Glastonbury Abbey in the 12th century. The archaeologist and archaeologist Frederick Bligh Bond must have realised this when excavating the Abbey, and it could be why he designed the new lid of the Chalice Well with a stylised Vesica Piscis after the First World War.
We can also see the dimensions of the Vesica Piscis clearly in Wells Cathedral, with the mandorla above the arch leading up to the High Altar.
Many of the ecclesiastical paintings of Christ or the Madonna and Child are framed in a mandorla shape, and I don’t think this is a coincidence. Going back to at least the time of King Alfred the Great, we can see that all the power regalia of the land – the geomancy, ceremonies, rituals, sacred art, architecture and heraldry – was guided by alchemists and seers who were aware of these natural geometrical principles.
They knew that to encase one’s vision in the mandorla of the seed of life is to create a talisman which sends out a very loud message indeed to the universe. It is a prayer or intention for abundance, fruitfulness and prosperity of your chosen object, which you depict therein.
In addition, any royal coats of arms or heraldic device that places an object inside the talismanic mandorla is asking the spirits for that object to be protected and to flourish.
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