The Annunciation

  image: Wikimedia commons (   link   ).

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Scott Onstott has two new books out relating to the divine proportion, one entitled The Divine Proportion and one exploring Leonardo da Vinci's incredible encoding of the divine proportion into his paintings entitled Secrets in Plain Sight: Leonardo da Vinci.

Scott's amazing work includes his analysis of the significant and esoteric proportions, patterns, and geometries found around the world in the location and design of cities, parks, monuments, and buildings, which he has detailed in his extremely popular video presentations entitled Secrets in Plain Sight, Volume 1 and Volume 2. 

Scott also analyzes sacred geometries, proportions and patterns present in the natural world, including in the relationships of the earth, moon, sun, and the planets of our solar system.

His work has been discussed on this blog previously here: "Scott Onstott and the metaphor of form."

I have been working my way through Secrets in Plain Sight: Leonardo da Vinci and highly recommend it for your own careful consideration. 

It is worth pondering long and deeply.

Scott begins with a brief but powerful summary of the incredible achievements and ongoing importance of Leonardo himself (1452 - 1519).

He then explains the concept of the divine proportion (the golden ratio, the proportion of which is designated by the Greek letter phi) and its mysterious qualities -- with accompanying diagrams and labeled illustrations that should make its properties more understandable than perhaps any discussion of the golden ratio that you have encountered before (Scott is a trained architect and a teacher and author on the subject of architectural visualization software and techniques).

The discussion reveals the mysterious, unchanging, infinite, and self-contained properties of the divine proportion, and why and how it conveys aspects of what we might call the Infinite Realm, the Divine Realm, the Invisible Realm. 

As you open your eyes to what is being presented, you will realize that phi does not just point us towards the Infinite: in many ways it actually manifests the Infinite Realm in itself, and impresses it upon our deeper understanding.

Scott then presents stunning evidence that demonstrates convincingly, beyond any doubt, that Leonardo da Vinci incorporated this divine ratio -- and its unfolding in the infinitely self-generating golden rectangles and the golden spiral that they create (the book shows how this spiral generates) -- into his art, over and over again, and with a degree of precision that indicates he knew exactly what he was doing.

But why?

Clearly, the golden ratio resonates powerfully with us -- our own bodies, and many aspects of the universe around us (perhaps every aspect of the universe around us), exhibit the golden ratio or phi on nearly every level. Scott even visually illustrates the way that DNA, the basic code of all known life, unfolds according to the golden ratio at its most fundamental level.

The golden ratio is aesthetically pleasing and attractive, even if we do not consciously recognize its presence.

But as Scott shows the golden rectangles and spirals present in the art of Leonardo da Vinci, he uncovers evidence that da Vinci was incorporating this divine proportion to convey and even more powerful message. As Scott says in the description of Secrets in Plain Sight: Leonardo da Vinci on his website here:

Leonardo's secret pointing to the divine proportion's divisions to physical and illuminated third eyes suggests he saw the divine not just in a transcendent heaven, but immanently in the human body and in the world.

That sentence is worth reading a few times for full effect.

What Scott's illustrations in the book, in which he overlays golden spirals upon the artwork of da Vinci, reveals quite clearly is that the spirals almost inevitably concentrate upon one eye of a human subject in the painting, or (even more frequently) upon the point of the "third eye" in the center of the forehead.

The implication, as Scott makes plain in the quoted sentence above, is that Leonardo da Vinci was conveying the message, using phi as the representative of the Divine and the Infinite, that the very same Infinite which unfolds in every aspect of the physical universe around us (and which shows that the Invisible Realm is present at every point in the seemingly-material cosmos) is also present in each and every man and woman: the divine in us.

And, as has already been said above, when da Vinci "drops phi" into his artwork, he is not just placing a symbol of the Divine or the Infinite into the art: he is putting an actual unfolding of Infinity right onto the canvas! The golden proportion actually is infinite, in and of itself, and it actually does begin to generate infinite spirals and an infinite rectangle-series, the moment you place it onto the page!

Note carefully what Scott Onstott is saying in that sentence above about the presence of this Infinity in both the heavens and the human: da Vinci recognized that it was present everywhere, both on the incredible scale of the heavens, and in the proportions of the human body, and that it "spirals inwards" to our eye (the "window to the soul") to suggest that the divine is there as well.

The divine ratio is present in every strand of DNA, and in the astronomical distances and scales with which our infinite universe is framed. It is operating everywhere and at all times, effortlessly unfolding and contracting, outward to the most distant galaxies and inward to the secret universe of our interior world.

The illustrations in Scott's book must be seen to be fully appreciated. I would suggest that a physical copy belongs on the shelf of every library, public or private, home or university.

But that's not all.

Because there appear to be even more "secrets in plain sight" hidden in the artwork of Leonardo da Vinci (and conveying the very same message of the inner connection to the Infinite, the inner connection to the Divine), because I would argue that some of the artwork that Scott examines also reveals da Vinci's understanding of the esoteric celestial system of metaphor operating at the foundation of the sacred stories and scriptures of the human race.

The very first painting by Leonardo that Scott presents in his book (the paintings are presented and discussed in chronological progression) clearly reveals da Vinci's awareness of the celestial metaphor underlying his subject, which is The Anunciation by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, depicted in Annunciazione by da Vinci, 1472:

  image: Wikimedia commons (   link   ).

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Not only does this painting show that the twenty-year-old Leonardo was already masterfully incorporating phi proportions and spirals in the composition of his art (as Scott Onstott's diagrams demonstrate), but it also appears to indicate that the artist was very familiar with the esoteric connection between the Biblical personages and the constellations of the heavens.

I have already published an extensive analysis of the celestial correspondences in the critically-important New Testament story of the Annunciation, in which the angelic messenger declares the coming of the Divine to Mary -- the Divine made to dwell in the flesh. 

That analysis shows that Gabriel is almost certainly associated with Mercury or Hermes -- the messenger of the gods in ancient Latin and Greek mythology -- and the closest planet to the sun (which is why Gabriel explains that he "stands in the presence of God" in Luke 1:19). Gabriel, like Mercury, is always depicted carrying a wand (often in the form of certain long-stemmed flowers, in the artwork depicting Gabriel).

But although Gabriel is almost certainly associated with the actual planet Mercury (which of all the planets can most accurately be said to "stand in the presence" of our blazing sun), he can also be identified with a specific constellation in our night sky, and one who appears above the constellation who almost certainly corresponds to the Virgin Mary.

Leonardo da Vinci seems to have been well aware of these celestial correspondences, simply from the way he depicts his subjects in The Annunciation, with Gabriel kneeling and extending his hand in a distinctive gesture (while also holding the flower-wand in his other hand), and Mary seated in a distinctive posture herself, while extending one arm towards Gabriel (and turning her head "just so," in a way highly reminiscent of her celestial counterpart).

Take a look at this portion of the sky, containing the important constellations Virgo the Virgin, and her constant companion Bootes the Herdsman:

 

Can you see da Vinci's Annunciazione in the stars depicted above?

How about now:

The angel Gabriel is almost certainly played by the constellation Bootes, who appears to be in a seated position in the sky but who is often depicted as kneeling in Star Myths from around the world, such as when he plays the role of the Buddha in Asia and Mukasa in Africa (analyzed in this previous post) or the role of Bodhidharma (also known as Da Mo or Daruma, analyzed in this previous post).

The angel is clearly depicted as kneeling in Leonardo's 1472 painting of the Annunciation.

The angel is also holding a wand, which corresponds to the long "pipe" of the constellation of the Herdsman shown above. This wand is the same feature which appears as the flute of the god Krishna in the scriptures of ancient India, as discussed in this previous post.

You can also find depictions of Krishna (including statues and icons) in which the outstretched hand of the Lord Krishna makes a hand gesture which is very similar to the distinctive hand-gesture that the angel Gabriel is making in this artwork by Leonardo da Vinci (and which is seen in many, many other depictions of the angel Gabriel and the Annunciation down through the centuries). Here's one, from a statue of Krishna with one upraised hand:

  image: Wikimedia commons (  link  ).

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Note that if you look carefully, you can also see that Krishna is holding a flute in a hand on the other side from his upraised hand. 

[All of these connections between Gabriel, Hermes/Mercury, Buddha, Da Mo (or Daruma) and other Bootes-figures from the Star Myths of the world should show quite convincingly that all these sacred texts and mythologies are united in their foundation and their esoteric message (contrary to what has often been taught, especially by those who wish to take the ancient myths and scriptures literally, instead of esoterically).]

Behind the seated (or kneeling) form of Bootes in the night sky is the distinctive arc of the Northern Crown, or Corona Borealis. At first, I thought that this arc-shaped constellation might show up in the painting by da Vinci of the angel as the arc in the angel's wings, but after further consideration I decided that Leonardo might actually be envisioning the wings to be formed by an interesting and somewhat unique way of connecting the stars along the front edge of the constellation Hercules. If so, then I believe that the Northern Crown is probably functioning as the halo of the angel.

Turning now to the figure of Mary herself, it is fairly intuitive to connect her with the stars of Virgo the Virgin. Previous posts have discussed the importance of the connection inherent in her name with the word for "sea" or "ocean," and how the celestial Virgin stands at the edge of the metaphorical "sea" in the heavenly cycle of the zodiac (see the discussion herefor example). 

But Leonardo includes enough clues in his painting to demonstrate beyond a doubt that he is referring to the outline of Virgo in the heavens. 

If you look at the seated posture of the constellation Virgo, and then look at the angle at which da Vinci has chosen to depict his Virgin Mary in Annunciazione, you will see that one would be hard-pressed to paint a more accurately depiction of the constellation than he has in his work. Her legs are apart and parallel, her body bends at approximately the same angle, and her outstretched arm points towards Gabriel just as the outstretched arm of Virgo points towards Bootes in the sky.

Below is a detail of Mary from da Vinci's painting, with the outline of Virgo superimposed. Note that even the angle of Mary's head in the painting and the way in which she has it slightly turned evokes the  form of the zodiac Virgin:

I would thus argue that Scott Onstott's title accurately describes this aspect of Leonardo's work as well: da Vinci is "hiding" these incredible secrets in plain sight!

 I would also argue that by incorporating these celestial patterns, Leonardo is reinforcing the very same message that Scott argues Leonardo is conveying through his incorporation of the divine proportion in his paintings:

Just like the ancient myths and sacred texts themselves, Leonardo is bringing down the denizens of the celestial realm and incarnating them in the human form!

He is declaring that the Infinite and the Divine dwell in human flesh. The stars above evoke the Infinite, and we ourselves reflect the stars (as above, so below).

Just as the universe unfolds on the proportions of phi on planetary and galactic scales, and just as we ourselves reflect this same proportion in our bodies and even our strands of DNA, the Infinite and Divine realm that interpenetrates the material cosmos also unfolds like a spiral inside our inner universe (converging on the window of our soul, our physical eye or our spiritual "third eye").

I am extremely grateful to Scott Onstott for writing Secrets in Plain Sight: Leonardo da Vinci, and for bringing home in such a visual and understandable way the genius and the ongoing importance of Leonardo and his work, and most importantly his message -- the same message, ultimately, as that brought by the angel Gabriel: the message of the divine coming down to earth, and dwelling in men and women.

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In addition to ordering them from Scott's own website (linked above), you can also find Scott's books on Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.