The Metaphor of the Nautilus for Spiritual Growth
Spiritual Growth is like an unfoldment. From the time we are small children our view of our life and the world expands as we discover, take in more information, learn and out-grow. Our mind doesn’t physically expand but the conscious space inside it does.
That is why the ancient Nautilus shell is considered a metaphor for spiritual growth. Once we awaken, the only way is forward, upward and outward.
The structure of the Nautilus shell is much like a garden snail’s shell that unfurls as a spiral. It’s beautiful texture is lined with mother-of-pearl.
The shell has as many as 30 chambers, each one proportionately larger than the one before. The creature lives in one chamber until it outgrows the space.
As the shell grows, the creature moves into the next larger chamber sealing the chamber behind it. In Nature, nothing is wasted. The vacated chambers are not like abandoned rooms but are used to regulate buoyancy, like the ballast of a ship.
The expansion of the chambers follows what is known in mathematics as a precise Golden Mean spiral. Represented by the Greek letter phi, it is one of those ratio numbers in the recipe of the basic structure of the universe.
The continuous curves of the spirals are feminine in nature, and the mathematical ratios between each chamber shows the divine connection between the harmonics of nature and Sacred Geometry.
The 19th Century American poet and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes saw the poignancy of the Nautilus shell structure. He wrote a poem in praise of its metaphor for the spiritual evolution of the soul.
The Chambered Nautilus
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul….
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!
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