The Tetractys - Mathematical and Mystical Meaning
The Tetractys is one of the symbols in sacred geometry that
is made very interesting by its complex layers of meaning. It is
a design that is very mathematical in structure and yet holds
mystical significance among the Pythagoreans and the followers
of the Kabbalah.
Basically, the Tetractys is a triangle composed of ten points
rising upward. Perhaps the best example of the way the Tetractys
looks like is the way bowling pins are arranged at the end of a
The Pythagorean Meaning of the Tetractys
The Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, from
which we got the Pythagorean Theorem in geometry, once called
the Tetractys the symbol of the musical, arithmetic and
geometric ratios upon which the universe is built. For
Pythagoras and his followers, each line of the Tetractys holds
- First row.
The first row is made of a single point. This point is the
divine dimension from which everything is created. Because of
the nature of this point, it is usually associated with the
virtue of wisdom.
- Second row.
The second row is a line connecting two points and signifies
the first dimension. For the Pythagoreans, the second
row represents "Neikos" or Strife. Strife is the power of
division and is often associated with the virtues of movement
and impulse. Movement and impulse, in turn, gives birth
to courage and strength.
- Third row.
The third row is a line connecting three points. It is a
representation of the second dimension and of "Philotes" or
Harmony. Harmony is the marriage of physical beauty and mental
- Fourth row.
The four points connected in the fourth row indicates the four
elements of the ancient world: earth, air, fire, and water.
Pythagoreans used to swear upon the Tetractys in their hopes of
attaining purity of mind and harnessing its power.
Kabalistic symbol for the cosmic space
The Meaning of the Tetractys in the Kabbalah
The Pythagoreans interpretation of the Tetractys is
mathematical in nature. By contrast, its significance to the
followers of the ancient Hebrew belief system of the Kabbalah is
Just like the Pythagoreans, the followers of the Kabbalah also
believe that the Tetractys is an illustration of existence, of
the way everything is structured in the universe. However, the
followers of the Kabbalah have paralleled the Tetractys with Tree of Life
, the ten
points of the Tetractys represent the ten Sephiroth or the ten
faces of God. The followers of Kabbalah have also linked
the Tetractys with the Tetragrammaton, which is the manner by
which the name of God is spoken (YHWH).
In this way, each of the ten points of the Tetractys is
substituted with a letter of the Tetragrammaton. When the
numeric value of each letter is added together, it will yield
the number 72. The number 72 is considered holy to the followers
of the Kabbalah because it signifies the 72 names of God
Given these two meanings attached to the Tetractys, it can be
said that wearing a pendant made in the shape of the Tetractys
signifies the desire of the wearer to seek divine understanding.
It can also be taken to mean that the wearer wants to attain a
close relationship with God.
About the Author
The jewelry artist David Weitzman combines ancient and sacred knowledge into a unique line of jewelry designed to bring people both beauty and inspiration. David's artwork harnesses the power of spiritual symbols and sacred geometry from around the world to bring those wearing this sacred jewelry happiness, vitality, excitement, and love.