Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) was a man of the renaissance, an English writer and researcher, his most enigmatic work perhaps being The Garden of Cyrus, or The Quincuncial Lozenge, or Network Plantations of the Ancients, naturally, artificially, mystically considered, to give its complete title, which was published in 1658. The work is seen as a major contribution to the Hermetic tradition of the period, but is complicated and is a renowned difficult read. The work presents the number five as an essential number in relation to life, describing the importance of the geometrical quincunx pattern and the lattice design.
Browne believed that the quincunx pattern was vital to the Universe:
‘In Chess-boards and Tables we yet find Pyramids and Squares, I wish we had their true and ancient description, farre different from ours, or the Chet mat of the Persians, and might continue some elegant remarkables, as being an invention as High as Hermes the Secretary of Osyris, figuring the whole world, the motion of the Planets, with Eclipses of Sun and Moon.’
The geometrical design of the quincunx can be found on many patterns, such as the fivefold ‘Celtic knot’ designs of early Christian crosses, and has many interpretations. A predominant meaning is that we will ascend from the fourth level of the physical to the fifth level of the spiritual, to attain a higher enlightened level of being.
This links into Browne’s belief in the cyclicality of life, Browne alluding to the Ouroboros symbol in the conclusion of his work, a symbol that was popular with alchemists:
‘All things began in order so shall they end, so shall they begin again according to the Ordainer of Order and the mystical mathematicks of the City of Heaven.’
In essence, Browne was putting forward how God Geometrizes, and how the number five occurs in a reoccurring pattern within nature (five petals on certain plants for example).
‘Five the number of justice called by Plutarch the divisive number, justly dividing the entities of the world…this number often observed in Scriptural, medical, astrological, cabalistical, magical examples.’
This of course, brings us to Fibonacci….