Pythagorean Brotherhood : Background Info
Pythagoras was a legend in philosophical circles. Pythagoras had a reputation for mixing math with mysticism and this gained the attention of young men who came from aristocratic backgrounds. With these men, the Pythagorean Brotherhood was born Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a secret society or cult based on the theories and teachings of the philosopher.
- Candidates for the Pythagorean Brotherhood had to undergo a strict initiation procedure. After a tough interview, they had to swear an oath on a sacred triangle known as the tetractys, sign over all their worldly possessions to the group and take a five-year vow of silence.
During this period they became akousmatikoi, or listeners, allowed to listen to Pythagoras teach only from behind a veil
Eventually they would graduate to become mathematikoi, members of the inner circle. Later these two classes diverged, so that those known as mathematikoi followed the scientific philosophical aspects of Pythagorean teachings, while those called akousmatikoi, followed the mystical oral teachings, or symbola, of Pythagoras.
The Mystery of Numbers
Believing that nothing exists without a center, mathematical philosophers started with a point and drew a circle around it. This symbol is called the monad and represents the number one. This figure is the most stable, and the mathematical philosophers also called it The First, The Essence, The Foundation, and Unity.
The dyad involves the principles of “twoness” or “otherness”. Greek philosophers referred to the dyad as “audacity” because of the boldness of separation from the one, and “anguish” because there is still a sense of tension of a desire to return to oneness.
The next shape emerging from the vesica piscis is the tetrad. Using logic to construct the tetrad, philosophers drew a horizontal and vertical line connecting the centers and the intersecting points of the two circles. Then, when a circle is drawn along a line that connects the two centers, a perfect shape of a square exists within the circle. Four is associated with justice, wholeness and completion. There are four seasons, four ages of man, four directionsFour is the first number formed by addition and multiplication of equals. It is the first “female” number because it is the first even number.
The shape of the pentad follows as the symbol of life itself. The pentad consists of all previous numerical symbols: monad’s point, the dyad’s line, the triad’s surface, and the tetrad’s three dimensional volume.
The decad represents the number ten. Instead of simple numeric and geometric interpretations, the decad further extends to the idea of a new beginning of limitlessness. Symbolizing both world and heaven, the decad helps us to understand the creation of the universe. The monad times the dyad times the pentad (one times two time five) results in the decad. Since any number times ten is similar to any number times one, it is similar to the monad; however, the number is brought to a higher level.
The Vesica Piscis is made by linking two cicles together, bringing the outside edge of each to the midway point of the other. The almond-shaped center of the image is called a mandorla (Latin for almond; "vesica" or "vesica piscis" is sometimes also used to describe only this almond-shaped center.) The mandorla can easily be seen as a grail or chalice, connecting the symbol to Avalon