The power of Symmetry

Why do we find beauty in symmetry?

The word symmetry derives from the Greek words for “together in equal measure”.

Like many species on Earth human beings are bilaterally symmetrical creatures, and for evolutionary reasons we are hard-wired to discover and appreciate symmetry in our surroundings.

This probably dates back to a primitive awareness that symmetry denotes meaning and helps us to distinguish meaning from confusion. If our distant ancestors spotted symmetry in the abstract chaos of the jungle it probably meant an animal of some description that either they may have been able to eat, or may have been able to eat them!

Humans have always seen beauty in symmetry, and from the earliest cave paintings it remains integral to our innate aesthetic sense of design. Aristotle the great greek philosopher said of symmetry: “The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness." The use of the word definiteness refers to his mathematical insights but it is no coincidence that throughout the ages and regardless of geography or culture, we have remained as a species both fascinated and gratified by the geometry of symmetry.

Symmetry provides us with a sense of balance, proportion and harmony. It exists everywhere in Nature. The wings of a butterfly are not just symmetrical in shape but in colour and pattern too. The beautiful crystalline form of a single snowflake is perfectly symmetrical. Bees have poor vision but are attracted by pattern and colour so flowers evolved as symmetrical shapes to attract them, as flowers need bees as much as bees need flowers. These marvellous patterns and colours attract us to flowers too, and explains to a great degree why we love them. And why they just make us feel better. It is a deep psychic attraction.

Symmetrical shapes have long been used in meditation practices in order to provide a harmonious focal point that resonates with our innate, biological connection to the simplicity and balance of a symmetrical form.

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