The New Chartres Academy
~ Sacred Number ~
of the Universe
the Fifth Liberal Art
July 2–8, 2017
The harmony of the world is made manifest in Form and Number, and the heart and soul and all the poetry of Natural philosophy are embodied in the
concept of mathematical beauty.
—Sir D’ Arcy Wentworth Thompson (1860–1948)
We will have two lead faculty this year: Jain will teach on the Fibonacci Sequence and the Five Platonic Solids which tap into the highly visual hemisphere of the
Right Brain, as well as “Vedic Mathematics,” a 2,500 year old Indian system of Mental Arithmetic which empowers students to perform mental calculations at high
speeds. Caroline Myss will lecture on the Mathematics of the Soul: Understanding the Architecture and Laws of Human Nature.
Other faculty will include Ruth Cunningham with her flute, harp and voice, Apela Colorado offering invocation and dreamwork, Jim Garrison continuing
his contemplation of Pythagoras, Andrew Harvey reflecting on the Divine Numbers of Love, Karen Rivers explaining Arithmetica and directing
our ritual and singing, and Banafsheh Sayyad, leading sacred dance and morning practice.
The New Chartres Academy builds upon and reinterprets the original Chartres Academy founded by Fulbert in 1006 when he became bishop of Chartres. Fulbert called his school
the Academy to indicate that he was in the lineage of Plato’s Academy founded in 387 B.C in Athens. We at the Wisdom School of Ubiquity University are privileged to be in
this lineage and to count Fulbert and Plato as the giants upon whose shoulders we sit.
Our New Chartres Academy is intended as a gathering point for a contemporary wisdom community to come together through the very same learning system that Fulbert and Plato used
— the seven Liberal Arts. The Liberal Arts have their origin in ancient Egypt and were initially refined by the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, who organized the first four,
called the Quadriviam, comprised of music, mathematics, geometry and astronomy. Plato learned the Qaudrivium from Pythagoras and with Aristotle developed the Trivium of grammar,
rhetoric and logic.
The Liberal Arts were designed by these great thinkers as initiatory rites into the deepest truths about the universe, with each Liberal Art describing a certain essential
element of the larger whole and designed to prepare the students for both professional skills and spiritual awareness. The goal for both students and teachers was to participate
in an alchemical process of transformation leading to a deeper understanding of God and the universe manifested as an active compassionate life in the community.
Building on this foundation, the Seven Liberal Arts were brought to their highest expression by the Chartres Academy during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The seven arts
also shaped the education refined during the Renaissance and gave rise to our modern “liberal arts” education, although education today has long lost the deep spiritual
aspects of the original liberal arts. This is what the academies of Plato, then Fulbert, sought to instill and now our Chartres Academy seeks to recover and utilize as a transformational
tool for what Plato called “the enlargement of the soul.”
What makes the New Chartres Academy such a powerful experience is that it convenes in one of the most sacred sites in the world — the place which the ancient Druids, coming
to the region over 3,500 years ago, considered the most sacred site in all of Europe, full of feminine energy. Each year, the entire Celtic tribe would convene in Chartres, called
their vatican, meaning “the seat.”
This is the site where the cathedral now stands. Chartres has been a focal point for the veneration of the Divine Feminine and a center for the mysteries of healing and birth for
thousands of years, and has been considered sacred from the earliest of times. This veneration was memorialized in stone and glass in the sweeping Gothic architecture of the cathedral,
which the builders viewed as a form of sacred writing. Over 400 images of the feminine grace its walls and stained glass windows. The great mythologist Joseph Campbell called Chartres
the ”womb of the world.“ It is also known as “queen of cathedrals” by some historians, such is its beauty and perfection of form. It rivals the Taj Mahal as
an architectural masterpiece designed and built in the spirit of love.
Fulbert and the Chartrian Masters who succeeded him, following Pythagoras and Plato, understood the deep truth that the sphere of proportion and rhythm underlies the order of the
cosmos. Their genius is that they were able to represent this perfection in the cathedral they built as a tribute to this truth.
Sacred Number—the matrix of the universe
the fifth Liberal Art of Arithmetica
Arithmetica explores the mystery of Sacred Number. Embedded in the very structure of numbers is the architectural blueprint of the universe. Number patterns represent
formative principles underlying a cosmic canon of design. Nature arises out of a foundation of archetypal principles symbolized by numbers, shapes, and their arithmetic and geometric
relationships. The primary numbers from one to ten and the shapes that represent them—circle, line, triangle, square, etc., are the archetypal sourcebook for the manifest world.
They are the original ten patents for designs found all through the universe. Nature manifests in these patterns in all transitory forms, from the smallest subatomic particles to the
largest galactic clusters, crystals, plants, fruits and vegetables, weather patterns, and animal and human bodies.
Arithmetica is the study of the ancient wisdom within the energy patterns that create and unify all things and reveals the precise way that the energy of Creation organizes
itself. On every scale, every natural pattern of growth or movement conforms to one or more numerical patterns or geometric shapes. Following Pythagoras, the Chartrean Masters believed
that the study of Sacred Number was essential to the education of the soul. They knew that these patterns and codes were symbolic of our own inner realm and the subtle structure of
awareness. To them the “sacred” had particular significance involving consciousness and the profound mystery of awareness.
Pythagoras taught that all sound is a product of number, frequency, and reverberation. In learning the mystery of number, we learn the mystery of being. In learning the combination
of sacred numbers, we learn the mystery of becoming. This is deep mysticism, the heart of all human exploration into the great cosmic pleroma. Ultimately, our spiritual quest is to
align ourselves with the elegant simplicity of sacred number, for of such are we, our earth, and the whole universe composed. In exploring sacred number, we explore the sanctum
sanctorum of ourselves.
Leonardo Fibonacci: Patterns of Growth
Leonardo Fibonacci (1170-1250), an Italian mathematician living at the very time the current cathedral was built in Chartres (1194–1220s), introduced and popularized the
Hindu-Arabic number system (decimal system) in Europe. He is primarily known for the Fibonacci Series, a numerical series intrinsic in the natural world. The Fibonacci sequence
unfolds by adding the previous two numbers in the list together to determine the next number. (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55...). If you divide any number in the Fibonacci
sequence by the number prior to it, for example 55/34, or 21/13, the answer is consistently within a minute fraction of 1.61803. This number, 16.10, or Ø, Phi, is known
as the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio is found throughout nature, in the architecture of sacred buildings, and in classical art.
The ‘Golden Mean Spiral’ is formed according to the ‘Golden Ratio.’ The Golden Mean was used in the ancient architectural designs of sacred buildings
such as Chartres Cathedral and the Great Pyramid at Giza, to create a spacial dynamic that conducts spiritual energy, based on the sacred proportions found in nature and in the
“What is God? He is length, width, height and depth.”
—St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Leonardo da Vinci (1451–1519) displayed an ardent interest in the mathematics of art and nature. Like Pythagoras, he made a close study of the human figure and showed how
various parts of the human form were related by the golden section. The Roman architect Vitruvius carried out extensive studies into sacred proportions and came to the perception
that the number 16 is sacred because 6 and 10 are the foundation for all proportions of the human form. These numbers became the template of proportions for many Roman temples.
It has also been discovered that the pentagram is the only form that has within its design this divine proportion of growth 10:16 or Ø. Therefore the human form, being a
pentagram, was considered to be a symbol of growth.
Each day will include sacred practice, an opening session, a symposium on Sacred Number, immersion in the cathedral, and personal time for meditation and exploration. There
will be artistic work drawing and experiencing sacred number, dreamwork, singing. We will have one private evening in the crypt, and another private evening in the cathedral
devoted to walking the labyrinth, accompanied by Gregorian chant.
Michael S. Schneider, A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe, The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science
Caroline Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit
Gordon Strachan, Chartres, Sacred Geometry, Sacred Space
Essays on the Web: www.constructingtheuniverse.com
Caroline Myss, Defy Gravity
See general reading for New Chartres School
There is no Pre-Paper Assignment for this course.
Write 12–15 pages focused on one aspect of Sacred Number, weaving together content from the Arithmetica lectures, the reading materials and your experiences related to
sacred number. Artistic work is welcome to supplement your paper.