Gothic cathedral design lays a great emphasis upon ‘ascent’. Whether it be the soaring spires or the very high vaults, or even the horizontal ‘ascent’ eastwards towards the rising Sun, there is encouragement for the soul to look upwards in aspiration for the climbing of Lady Philosophy’s ladder. In the symbolism of the soul’s ascent there are a number of degrees that act much likes rungs upon a ladder. But there is also a relational correspondence between these degrees and this is something that can be expressed or reflected through geometry and arithmetic via harmonious and interconnected sequences of numerical relationship. Two examples of this involve the Golden Ratio, in Plato’s analogy of the divided line, and the Pythagorean Tetraktys with its ascending movement from multiplicity up to unity. However, both of them are used together in one and the same journey of ascent within the design of the first English Gothic cathedral in what could be described as a ‘Tetraktys Walk’. As the pilgrim walks eastwards through Wells Cathedral their vision is afforded increasingly greater views of a Tetraktys-shaped window that can be seen far off in the distance on the cathedral’s east-end wall.
This talk will take you on the journey of this Tetraktys Walk towards the beautiful Tetraktys-shaped stained-glass window which itself consists of nine angels who are all looking upwards towards the One.