Inspired by 12 Permaculture Design Principles, Sacred Geometry, and my lived experiences
Start date: June 22, 2020
End date: July 13, 2020
#1: Observe the regeneration and begin again
Permaculture Principle 1: Observe and Interact (pay attention)
Principle Expanded: By taking the time to engage with nature, we can design solutions that suit our particular system.
Quote: “Beauty is in the mind of the beholder.”
Description: Three circular oranges formed a holy trinity sign in the center with three bi-colored green leaves. A luminescent psilocybin mushroom, colored gold and bronze with brown outline on the left hand side. A solid, ballerina pink background.
Symbolism: Three represents the beginning of life. In the creation of the universe, something appeared = 1. Then, when another thing appeared = 2. Duality was born. Duality leaves us stuck in the black and white, no diversity. By a miracle, a third was born = 3. Three has made way for the rest of life. The black, the white, and the infinite gray. The inbetween is where we can mold our lives and the world around. It can be seen as the essence of life. The oranges represent in my life my roots, my Florida born state symbol. There are also three oranges, perhaps seen as my immediate family unit, of which is one of the foundations of life. My mother, my father, and myself. The psilocybin mushroom represents peak experience. What can bring new life, new perspective, and transformative and regenerative action. Mushrooms are the regenerators of planet earth. The mycelium network breaks down all matter and integrates into the living ecosystem. Mushrooms also offer a high variety, including both medicinal and poisonous or toxic species. Mushrooms have a particularly fascinating history and future implications. The mushroom family is biologically more closely related and similar to homo homo-sapiens than the plant family. Finally, mushrooms (i.e. lion’s mane) are the only known naturally occurring medicine that can actually regenerate neurons in homo-homo sapiens versus simply help to maintain existing neurons. Therefore the mushroom, holy trinity, and oranges were selected to represent the beginning of life and our engagement with the natural world as a means to design solutions to promote and affirm life on planet earth.
#2: Create a spectrum within the polarities
Permaculture Principle 2: Catch and Store Energy (harvest while it’s abundant)
Quote: “Make hay while the sun shines.”
Principle Expanded: By developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need.
Description: The balanced moon and sun. The moon radiating light beams downward with a triangle above also aimed downward. The sun radiating light beams upward with a triangle below also aimed upward. The 6 chakra colors (bottom to top: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) connect the two sides of the canvas following the spiraling effect of the yin and yang, historically seen in Chinese philosophy and art. Finally, an infinity sign was painted loosely over many times within the purple background of this piece.
Symbolism: Back to the two-duality. While we exist in a world that is beyond duality. We often orient ourselves based on this polarity. It is a useful tool to understand the extremes and potential within life. The sun and moon represent opposites as they regulate the day and night on planet earth. The sun commonly represents the masculine type energy. The sun is the #1 energy source provider on this planet and is what allows life to grow. Humans co-evolved with the sun and receive cellular benefits including charging and repairing the mitochondria, our very own internal power house. The sun being a powerful force, can also burn you with too much exposure. It is to be respected and we must be responsible in our capturing of its energy. It helps to power all life on earth and we must continue to understand how to hone its use as a means to a regenerative power source. The moon commonly represents the feminine type energy. The moon is also a powerful source of energy and is connected to gravity, as can be seen in its regulation of the ocean tides. The moon appears at night and gives light to creatures and life that thrive at this time. The moon cycles and on a monthly basis demonstrates the rhythms of life. It charges the great mystery and offers guidance in the dark of the night. The two triangles respectively display opposites, up and down. The upward triangle represents the masculine energy, depicted in historical and religious texts (i.e. hinduism as a phallic). Further the upward triangle may be compared to an erect penis and the downward triangle may be compared to a yoni (vagina) or womb. Again, the downward triangle represents the feminine energy, depicted similarly in texts (i.e. christanity as a chalice). The duality of our sexes represents the two far possible ends of a spectrum, whereas the human experiences of sexuality can range between the two. The life force of the sun and the moon are akin to the life force of our sex. Again, creation comes from the two, but is only complete where 3 or more are present.
#3: Spiral abundance through space and time
Permaculture Principle 3: Obtain a yield (make sure you’re getting valuable resources)
Quote: “You can’t work on an empty stomach.”
Principle Expanded: Ensure that you are getting truly userful rewards as a part of the work you are doing.
Description: An upward spiraling of a slightly striped, tan colored cornucopia shape with a dark blue background. Starting at the center of the spiral, small blossoming light and dark pink flowers with leaves of green. As the spiral expands, the flowers and leaves get slightly larger in size, all with a wavy ascetic. The final leaves at the top center appear to be dropping flowers as the spiral is conveyed to continue.
Symbolism: Growing or structuring in a spiraled design allows every phase of the cycle to be represented. Continued growth is only possible when production is always present, but not always at the same time. By spreading out the harvest across space and time, we can be overflowing with abundance and beauty. We can start small and work our way out. Once we are exploding with possibilities, they will naturally be distributed and should be shared with all of life. Both beauty and function are useful rewards and fuel our inner and outer fire. In using the spiral, we have a distributed system that allows us to slowly utilize valuable resources. The roots are all connected to the center, the place where we should be giving and receiving in order to create true value and where our yields ultimately feed.
#4: Make meaning of the mirrors
Permaculture Principle 4: Self Regulate/Accept Feedback (be open to modify dysfunctional behaviors)
Quote: “The sins of the fathers are visited on the children of the seventh generation.”
Principle Expanded: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well. Negative feedback is often slow to emerge.
Description: Two main outer triangles centered on the canvas. One triangle is pointed upward and the other intersecting triangle is pointed downward. Additional triangles can be found within the overlap. An incomplete triangle pointed down is overlapping as well with a downward point. In the upward triangle, an unspecified tree is present with full green leaves. In the incomplete downward point triangle, the tree's root system is mirrored. Finally, four circles of varying sizes are placed around the centered tree and triangles. The bottom circle is brown and the largest of the four, however is pierced by the downward point of the incomplete triangle. Top circle is blue and the second largest, with a slight off centering to the right. The left circle is orange and the third largest and the right circle is yellow and the fourth largest. The left circle is placed slightly higher than the right circle on a vertical plane. A dark green background to further accent the tree.
Symbolism: In scandinavian (i.e. maybe norse?) mythology, triangular symbols emerge, representing the elemental essence of a tree to include earth, fire, air, and water. The four circles are non-elemental or rather ephemeral and symbolize spirit in the four directions. In native american cultures, prayers and ceremonies call in the four cardinal directions (north, east, south, and west) with one of the four elements attached to each direction. While the four exist, we can also see two. The mantra, ‘as above, so below’ or ‘as within, so without’ rings in my mind. Some trees have root systems below ground that mirror the tree’s branches and trunk above ground. The tree's inner and outer worlds are connected. Similarly in each human’s consciousness, a reality is created which to some degree is reflected outwardly. For instance, a human with anger inside can create destruction. Where as a, a human with joy inside can create celebration. Many examples exist both in our consciousness and in the outside world around us. Sometimes these mirrors may not be obvious or directly represented, however they can empower us with the wisdom to know how important both inwards and outwards are in the service of all life. The function of mirrors is to allow us to regulate ourselves and the world we embody. The direct feedback can be perceived and integrated in many ways, however it is always useful. It is our job to decode the meaning within and without the inner and outer worlds as it serves the highest good.
#5: Listen to wisdom and embody our interdependence
Permaculture Principle 5: Use and Value Renewables (reduce dependency on scarce resources)
Quote: “Let nature take its course.”
Principle Expanded: Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
Description: A slanted rectangle with pink to purple colored squares inside. A golden ratio spiral within this rectangle. The rectangle is overlaid by an abstract, leaf-like hummingbird with a golden beak prodding into the center of the spiral. On the right hand side, a spring green colored DNA spiral with three subsections with five lines on top and bottom sections and eight lines in the middle section. A teal background reminiscent of the color often found on a hummingbird.
Symbolism: The spiral is a symbol of renewable energy of which the hummingbird is pollinating. This is both an abstract and concrete representation of how nature regenerates itself. The hummingbird’s body and feathers are made to look like leaves. This is another symbol of how nature is connected. For instance, the birds and the trees depend on each other. For me personally, the hummingbird reminds me of my grandmother who I grew up closely to and visiting in Wisconsin most summers. I can remember my grandmother making the sugar water and placing it outside in the feeder for the hummingbirds and for us to enjoy the viewings. Additionally, this series was painted in my grandma’s snowbird Florida trailer home where a hummingbird mirror decorates the front porch. My grandmother’s wisdom offers me a simpler way of living and she encourages a closeness to the land. Her love towards me is unconditional as it would seem and she is truly one of my heroes in this life. The DNA spiral represents again the golden ratio spiral as it is embedded in the shape of our very DNA. Our DNA can reveal how similar we all really are, especially within our species. Finally, the DNA reminds me in connection with the hummingbird of the divine influence my grandmother has had on me, both biologically and socially. I am infinitely grateful for her presence and the understanding that she lives on through me, through the unbroken DNA we share.
#6: Return to source, illuminated
Permaculture Principle 6: Produce No Waste (No such thing as waste, only a resource in the wrong place)
Quote: “Waste not, want not.”
Principle Expanded: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
Description: A large, bluish-green snake wraps around in the shape of a circle. The snake's tongue bridges the small gap between the tail and head with the tip of the tongue touching the tip of the tail. Inside the snake is the flower of life pattern in a dark blue color. Down the center of the circle, the 6 chakra colors are dotted inside a flower running a straight vertical line. Colors from top to bottom include purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. The background is a copper or bronze luminescent color.
Symbolism: The circular and closed-loop snake is a common depiction of the endless cycle of life across cultures and time. The snake itself is highly symbolic and used in this piece to represent life eating itself. In other words, life depends on life. The cycles of life and death are infinite. The snake animal also symbolizes the shedding of our ‘skin’ or the old ways to make way for the new. In this cycle of life, we have many deaths and rebirths, always to return to the source. Life is working its way through us and through all that is living. The flower of life in the center of the snake nicely reminds us that through this inevitable process, we ultimately are in a state of creation and dissolves the illusion that there is an ‘end’. The chakras align us with the possibility within humans and all living creatures to be illuminated by this knowledge and understanding of these fundamental teachings. With this practice of aligning, we can cultivate the wisdom to live in this cycle and carry the light to endure and thrive within it. Finally, we remember that we cannot escape our destiny and all things are folded into each other. This is a call for intentional thoughts and actions as ‘what goes around, comes around’.
#7: Acknowledge the (you)niqueness within the pattern
Permaculture Principle 7: Design from Pattern to Detail (observe natural/social patterns and apply them to detail)
Quote: “Can’t see the forest for the trees.”
Principle Expanded: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
Description: Four spiraled shells stacked on top of one another in a vertical fashion. With the largest and foremost shell being at the bottom and the smallest at the top. The shells alternate facing left or right and are a cream colored with hues of pink coming through. The top shell has the beginnings of the life cycle of a plant revealed as you move downward. The second shell from the top has a bud beginning to form as the plant matures. The third shell from the topic has a single, fully in bloom dandelion ‘weed’ with yellow petals. The fourth shell from the top has three dandelion ‘weeds’ with the flower having gone to seed, some of which are blowing away. The navy blue background is subtly spiraled with lighter shades of blue.
Symbolism: The spirals are present in each shell with an alternating pattern. This simple pattern of alternating effects is frequently seen in nature (i.e. leaf patterns of certain plants). Contrasting patterns are represented in several different ways. The shells have soft edges and come from the ocean. In contrast, the dandelion ‘weed’ has sharp edges and comes from the land. As we observe patterns of the life cycle, we can see how they largely apply to many. It is in the details that their uniqueness and specified application can shine. The dandelion ‘weed’ was selected because of its unique and specific medicinal properties for humans. My body has grown a benign tumor on my liver, which was first identified when I was 5 years old. The tumor was biopsied and has been monitored. I have received the news that it is relatively harmless, however new modern medicine gold-standards state removal of the tumor may be beneficial. Of course, I have only been educated through natural medicine that there are herbs, spices, mushrooms, etc. that can aid the liver in function and also potentially shrink or dissolve tumors in the body. Medicine offers us generalized recommendations based on studies and significant evidence or patterns within this research. Both top down gold-standard research and bottom up empirical evidence is useful to understand knowledge. Then we must recognize and apply what details we are capable of embodying in our life cycle. I am grateful for plants that help us to heal. My intention is to use the patterns, but to listen to the wisdom of my own details in order to live well.
#8: Work swiftly and mind your hive
Permaculture Principle 8: Integrate (capitalize on how things work together)
Quote: “Many hands make light work.”
Principle Expanded: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
Description: A golden honey colored shape takes form and with a closer look lines appear. A quantum vacuum state is depicted, which holds the honeycomb and sucks the large bee near. The bee is traditionally colored brown and yellow with gray wings detailed with white. The light blue background is splashed with a slightly darker shade of blue.
Symbolism: This canvas represents one of the four elements, air. The quantum vacuum bends air through space and time. It manipulates the air, defying known physical laws. Similarly, a bee seems to transcend all human capabilities by flying through air with their thin and light wings. Though we do not possess the same gifts as bees, they do offer the sweet and nutritious treat of which we extract from their honeycomb. The medicine of honey. The brisk strokes on the background are meant to invoke a sense of air, almost invisible to the eye, yet refreshing and always in motion. The bee ties into this idea of ‘many hands make light work’. As bees are always a part of a greater hive, working hard, and together. Bees do this swiftly and without words. The hive mind is powerful when we realize our collective one.
#9: Purify, one drop at a time
Permaculture Principle 9: Use Small and Slow Solutions (local and responsible, manageable scale)
Quote: “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Principle Expanded: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
Description: A blue, circular center with a water effect. A white egret walks through the water filled with silver colored fish and lily pads. Darker blue spirals are connected inside the water. Outside the watery landscape, a blush colored background holds the image.
Symbolism: This canvas represents one of the four elements, water. The blue and circled center represents a drop of water, and within the drop are many drops of water. Water purifies and cleanses all of life. The fish in Christianity as a symbol of life. As we can see, life flourishes with water including fish, the lily pads, but also the egret. The egret relies on the water for drink but also to give life to its food. The egret moves slow and steady as it will startle its prey if it comes in too fast. The egret takes what it needs and like all animals in the natural and wild world, has impact on the local ecosystem which then ripples out into greater landscapes. On a personal note, my partner Bo- Bobaba- Matthew- Matt- etc. has a deep love for nature and one of his favorite Florida birds is the egret. Therefore, this egret represents his presence in my work, in my life. He also teaches me lessons on fluidity and adaptability, many of which align with the essence of water.
#10: DiversiFy and multiplY through fierce softness
Permaculture Principle 10: Use and Value Diversity (diversity leads to great resilience)
Quote: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
Principle Expanded: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
Description: A microcosm or microorganism with a fiery red-orange center. The center is surrounded by a solid golden yellow color as the main body of this organic shape. The perimeter is dotted with three different colors and varying in size circles. The background is a deep red with darker hues shaded in.
Symbolism: This canvas represents one of the four elements, fire. Fire moves fast and can break down matter. This perspective of fire is meant to showcase the diversity that can be born after a fire. The organic shapes of fire are not rigid or containing straight lines, much like all things in nature (other than a spider's web). We see how these edges bring us space through increased perimeter. Therefore an increase in value in terms of possible growth and transformation. For example, if this same relative size was made into a rectangle, the perimeter would be shorter. This shape is commonly used in permaculture gardens to optimize and diversify growing. Biological cells are similarly shaped this way as they cram together to connect or exchange information with each other. This shape is a bit unruly and difficult to master, again lessons from fire to remember. Fire is necessary element, as in many forests it is means to kill off the old and promote the new growth.
#11: Embody the edges you inhabit
Permaculture Principle 11: Use Edges, Value the Marginal (important things happen at the intersections)
Quote: “Don’t think you are on the right track just because it’s a well-beaten path.”
Principle Expanded: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse, and productive elements in the system.
Description: A sector analysis of many shades between blue and green. Some of the sectors come out further, but all connect at a central point in the middle of the circle. Each sector fades from a darker shade on the outer portion to a lighter shade on the inner portion. Each sector is outlined in a white line to more clearly distinguish between each one. The background is a darkened shade of forest green.
Symbolism: This canvas represents one of the four elements, earth. On earth, approximately 71% is covered by water. Although the blue to green ratio on this piece does not depict this ratio, the green represents earth and the blue is there to remind us of the earth beneath the water. Earth comes in many different forms and can represent a grounding feature for humans, as in using logic, reason, and taking real action. Using numbers or statistics when we analyze serves of useful information when making decisions to better navigate life on this earth. Earth can also remind us of our physical body and presence in a physically-based environment. Earth has many shades of green and is made of layers, as I hope this piece represents in its design. The white lines in between can reveal new paths or solutions to our physical problems as we embody this earth.
#12: Dance within the chaos of life
Permaculture Principle 12: Creatively Use and Respond to Change (envision possibilities and intervene in effective ways)
Quote: “Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be.”
Principle Expanded: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing and then intervening at the right time.
Description: This colorful piece embellishes the full rainbow of colors in an underwater-like setting. It is overall a highly abstract painting, but one may perceive seaweed, underwater flowers, corals, sea algae, sponges, sea plants, etc. The outside border is colored a shimmery, yet muted white.
Symbolism: This piece was uniquely crafted from all the ‘extra’ paint of the previous 11 pieces. Typically painted last or at the end of a painting session. Sometimes after each canvas so the paint wouldn’t dry. There was no significant planning, forethought, or expectations for this piece. I also did not apply any foundational shapes or explicit geometry to this piece. The only goal here was to invoke chaos and by allowing creation to purely take hold. We know chaos to be an integral and inescapable part of our human nature and our world. Therefore, I choose to embrace it as a part of this series. The outside border of this piece is white, which represents light. It is all we can do to surround the chaos with light. This is the dance of life.