October 8, 2013

The Golden Mean

This post is a couple weeks old, one of the things I saved while I was trying to find a new home for the blog. The project I was knotting warps on was the straps I gave up on.

I'm tying knots in warps again. Why do I have so much trouble with keeping even tension? I never used to. Why has this become a theme in my weaving? What does it reflect from my life?

I mentioned before that the small synchronicities had started. The phrase "Golden Mean" keeps turning up, as one of them. It means two things, of course.

One is the mathematical ratio achieved when you have two segments of a line, a and b, such that the sum a+b has the same relationship to a that a does to b:

That little loopy thing is the Greek letter phi, by the way, the symbol for the Golden Ratio, the way that pi is the symbol for the ratio between the diameter and circumference of a circle. Now, it just happens that in addition to my current tarot study, I'm also beginning to study the Limyran Oracle, a form of litteromancy similar to the runic system (although, I was fascinated to learn, there's not much evidence that the runes were used as a divinatory system in the past; that may be an entirely modern tradition). Each letter has an oracular line associated with it, the letters are inscribed on bits of pottery and drawn or shaken out of a box, or dice are used to generate a number that corresponds to a letter, and the line of poetry is interpreted as a response.

The line for the letter phi is, "Having done something carelessly, you will thereafter blame the gods." Hm. Perhaps I am not taking enough responsibility for my own life. Noted.

The Golden Ratio is also used to construct the Golden Spiral:

And phi is key in the construction of regular pentagons… and pentagrams:

Spirals and pentagrams are, of course, both important symbols to me.

The second meaning is philosophical, aiming for a middle course between extremes. Neither too much nor too little. Moderation. It's found all over the world, of course, and is prominent in Buddhism, if I recall correctly. But it has a long tradition in Greece. It's the moral of the story of Daedalos and Icaros: Daedalos flew neither too close to the sea nor too close to the sun, and so escaped Crete, but his son Icaros did not practice this moderation, climbed too high, and the sun melted the wax that held his wings together, and so he fell into the sea and died. Theano, wife of Pythagoras, propounded moderation. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all recommended it. "Nothing to Excess" was carved on the temple at Delphi, along with "Know Thyself" -- a phrase I'm also working with.

And all of that means that the Golden Mean, in both meanings, have been appearing even more often than I thought.

I'm just going to hang on to this idea, and let it sink in, I think.

(All those picture related to phi up there are from Wikipedia.)

Three weeks later, I'm still chewing it over.