Art, Optics and Astrology


The publication of Mary Quinlan-McGrath's recent work, Influences: Art, Optics, and Astrology in the Italian Renaissance, is another sign that cultural is again turning to the traditional systems to reevaluate some of the additional layers this reality holds for us. As a Professor of Art history at Northern Illinois University, Quinland-McGrath focuses on the integration of astrological science as it affected the development of aesthetic modes during the Italian Renaissance, themes which will be featured in the upcoming Evolver Learning Lab that Scott Olsen and I have organized to present
the concepts of sacred geometry and alchemical transformation (Click Here to learn how you can take part in renewing the sacred sciences with - Sacred Geometry and Alchemical Transformation: The Mystery of Squaring the Circle).  

In a brief introduction to Quinlan-McGrath's  book, written by Molly Harris for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the history of Saint Peter's Basilica is highlighted to show the integral ideas that were once common in constructing monumental public works: 

"The astrologers of Pope Julius II established that the horoscope of April 18, 1506, at 10:00 a.m. correlated with both the horoscope for the presumed birth of the world and the birth horoscope of Christ.  In addition, the locations on the horoscope chart of the Sun, Venus, and Mercury indicated benevolence, while that of Saturn and Mars suggested power and longevity.  Jupiter’s location was propitious as well, promising wealth.  Julius and his Renaissance architects believed that the concordance of the heavens and the radiation emanating from the cosmos provided protection for this building at the time of its founding and, in turn, the building would continue to radiate these powers upon the people associated with it for centuries. "

Scott Olsen and the guests featured in The Mystery of Squaring the Circle will demonstrate, far from flighty daily newspaper horoscopes, or even the more detailed popular contemporary modes of astrology, this traditional science dealt with the natural rhythms and harmonies of the universe. At its best it was a way to integrate the patterned procession of the cosmic order directly into art and architecture. As Harris writes: 

"astrological thought permeated the Italian Renaissance.  Scientists used mathematical measurements to chart the heavens, and theologians and philosophers harmonized religious doctrine with astrological readings, making Saint Peter’s a product of its time.  The belief that celestial forces could operate through works of art and architecture was not obscure or magical, but in harmony with the philosophical, religious, and scientific beliefs of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries."

Imagine a time when the scientific thought, philosophical inquiry, visual arts, architecture and music of the entire culture were each created with a focus on the natural harmonic ratios of existence, and complimented each other in bringing human perception back to a holistic unity with the cosmic order. As the 16th century English philosopher and scientist Robert Fludd reflects: 

"if the chain of Nature has its highest and last link fastened to the foot of Jupiter's chair in Heaven, as the lower is fixed on Earth, how is it possible for us earthly creatures, or rather divine Images, housed and obscured in clay tabernacles, to wade, of ourselves, through the confused Labyrinth of the creature to the bright Essence of the Creator; that is, to search out the mysteries of the true Wisdom in this world, and the creatures, thereof, but by penetrating with mental speculation and operative perfection into the earthly Circumference or mansion thereof, and so to dive, or attain by little and little to the heavenly Palace..."

This 'mental speculation and operative perfection' will be an important theme addressed in Sacred Geometry and Alchemical Transformation: The Mystery of Squaring the Circle and we hope to introduce a profound contemporary vision of these areas to everyone who takes part in the live digital seminar series. The scholars that Olsen has assembled for this event are some of the top people working in this area today, having a long association with programs fostered by Prince Charle's School of Traditional Arts under the tutelage of Keith Critchlow, one of Buckminster Fuller's most beloved proteges.

To read more about  Mary Quinlan-McGrath's recent work, Influences: Art, Optics, and Astrology in the Italian Renaissance and see how these areas are becoming reintegrated in contemporary scholarship, head over to the National Endowment of the Humanities page by Clicking Here

To learn how you can take part in renewing the sacred sciences with - Sacred Geometry and Alchemical Transformation: The Mystery of Squaring the Circle - Click Here