The pyramid stands as a monumental figure, both literally and symbolically. A fundamental shape in sacred geometry, this ancient geometric form has held profound meanings in spirituality and culture throughout history. And its presence isn’t just confined to the ancient human-made wonders of the world; it echoes throughout the natural Universe. In this post, we dive into the enigmatic world of pyramids, unraveling their sacred and symbolic meanings and exploring their appearances in various facets of life.
Types of Pyramids
The structure of pyramids, both physical and geometric, has captivated human imaginations for millennia. All pyramids are characterized by a polygonal base and lateral sides (or faces) that are sloping triangles, which converge at a point, known as the apex. Yet, there are a few types of pyramid shapes. Each type is primarily distinguished by its base. Here are some examples:
- Triangular pyramids, also called tetrahedrons, consist of four triangular faces, one of which is the base.
- Square-based pyramids are a classic shape that are composed of a square base with four triangle sides leading to the pointed top. Examples are Egypt’s Great Pyramids.
- Pentagonal pyramids have a five-sided base with five triangle sides leading to the pointed top.
- Hexagonal, heptagonal, and octagonal pyramids are other variations that have more triangle sides based on the number of edges of the polygonal base.
What do pyramids symbolize?
We’ll go into more detail about the symbolism and meanings of pyramids throughout this post, but here’s a quick reference list for what they can symbolize:
- Human ingenuity
- A gateway or spiritual passage
- Heightened awareness
- Connection between the Earth and higher spiritual realms
- Mind, body, and spirit
- The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
Pyramids in Math and Physics
Pyramids don’t only captivate us in the realms of spirituality and symbolism. They have important applications in math, science, and physics.
For example, in education, pyramids are used to visually demonstrate various mathematical concepts, including proportions, ratios, and geometric progressions.
In addition, they’re used to calculate volume. The formula to find out how much space is inside a pyramid is straightforward: You take the area of the pyramid’s base, multiply it by the height, and then divide all of that by 3. This is a useful calculation in areas such as engineering and architecture.
In general, the mathematical principles that govern pyramids reveal intricate relationships between shape, angles, and ratios, unlocking hidden patterns.
Pyramidal structures boast remarkable structural stability, a property that has been studied in physics and utilized in engineering and architecture. By distributing weight evenly across its triangular faces, the pyramid can withstand external forces, making it an ideal choice for building massive structures like the iconic pyramids of Egypt.
Pyramid shapes are also used in studying energy dynamics and molecular formations. For example, pyramids exhibit unique qualities that amplify energy and electromagnetic fields.
Pyramids in Nature
While pyramids are important structures in architecture and engineering, they’re by no means confined to human-made structures. In fact, in true sacred geometry fashion, pyramids exist in nature in fascinating ways. Here are some examples:
Many mountain peaks have formed naturally into pyramid shapes. These geometric formations result from years of erosion and tectonic activity shaping the Earth’s crust.
Some volcanoes have distinct pyramid shapes resulting from layers of lava and ash building up over time.
Wind patterns can sculpt sand dunes into pyramid shapes. These formations are created by the interplay of wind direction, sand consistency, and other environmental factors.
At times, waves can break in a way that their cross-section resembles a pyramid. This is more abstract but can be observed in certain sea conditions.
As icebergs erode, they can sometimes form pyramid-like structures. These shapes are transient, changing as the iceberg melts and interacts with its environment.
Termites in Africa, Australia, and South America are known to build towering pyramid-shaped mounds for their colonies.
In fact, there are termite mounds in Brazil that are roughly 4,000 years old that are so large they can be seen from space.
Indeed, one species of termite excavated more than 2.4 cubic miles (10 cubic kilometers) of dirt. This volume is equivalent to about 4,000 Great Pyramids of Giza! Scientists have called it the “greatest known example of ecosystem engineering by a single insect species.”1
Certain minerals and crystals, such as pyrite and quartz, crystallize into pyramid shapes. These natural formations occur due to the specific ways atoms bond and arrange themselves.
On a microscopic level, some cell structures, including neurons, also exhibit pyramid shapes.2
Pyramids in Architecture
The topic of pyramids in architecture is a lengthy one, the complex details of which I will leave to professional architects. But what I found fascinating when researching this post is the sheer number of ancient cultures that built pyramids! Here’s a high-level overview:
The Ziggurats of Mesopotamia
The earliest human-made pyramids we know about were constructed by the ancient Sumerians around 5000-4100 BCE. Called ziggurats, these structures served as spiritual centers that echoed the sanctity of lofty places to honor the gods.3
Pyramids of Egypt
When many of us think of pyramids, the first thing that comes to mind are the iconic pyramids of Egypt. Built around 3200 BCE4, these monumental, human-made structures were designed and built for pharaohs. They served as the leaders’ final resting place before their ascension to the afterlife.
The Egyptians believed that the shape of the structures facilitated the pharaoh’s journey into the afterlife and immortality.
As mentioned earlier, from a physics and architectural perspective, pyramid structures are remarkably strong and stable. Indeed, the precision and engineering prowess that went into the design and construction of the Egyptian pyramids showcases the advanced knowledge and skills of the ancient Egyptian civilization.
In fact, the precise alignment of the pyramids’ sides with the cardinal directions is a testament to the Egyptians’ advanced knowledge of astronomy and mathematics.
If you want to get really geeked out on the geometrical artistry of the Great Pyramids, this video by Veli Martin Keitel is worth a view:
Nubian Pyramids of Sudan
In addition to ancient Egypt and along the Nile River Valley, members of the ancient Nubian kingdom of Kush, which is now present-day Sudan, built more than 250 pyramids, which were used as tombs for their kings and queens. These pyramids are steeper and narrower than their Egyptian counterparts.
Tomb of Askia in Mali
A World Heritage site, the Tomb of Askia in Gao, Mali was built in 1495 by Askia Mohamed, the Emperor of Songhai. Made with mud, the structure includes a pyramidal tomb and a mosque. The emperor was inspired to have the building constructed after a pilgrimage to Mecca.5
Nsude Pyramids of Nigeria
It still remains a mystery when, how, and why the Igbo pyramids, located in Nsude on the Udi highlands in South East Nigeria, were built. Some say the Igbo pyramids, also known as the Nsude pyramids, were constructed to honor Uto-Nsude, a deified war hero.6
The Pyramids of Argolis in Greece
Nestled in the Greek Peloponnese are the Pyramids of Argolis, which includes the Pyramid of Hellinikon. Archaeologists aren’t quite sure when they were built, possibly as far back as 2500 BCE or as recent as 400 – 301 BCE. Made of large limestone boulders, it’s believed they served either as ancient fortresses or for ceremonial purposes. Or, they might have been cisterns for the community water supply.7
Pyramid of Caius Cestius in Rome
When the Romans conquered Egypt and turned it into a Roman province in 30 BC, they became quite captivated by all things Egyptian, including pyramids. The Pyramid of Cestius, built in Rome, Italy, served as a tomb for an unknown wealthy Roman who was apparently enamored with Egyptian culture, or at least felt he should be treated like the pharaohs.8
Maya, Inca, and Aztec Pyramids
In addition to those of ancient Egypt, pyramids were a significant architectural element in ancient Mesomaerican culture. Beginning around 1000 BCE9, the Mayas and then the Incas and Aztecs built pyramid structures in what is now Mexico and Central America. Notable examples include the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, Mexico and the El Castillo Pyramid in Chichen Itza, Mexico.
The Maya pyramids in Central America were built as ceremonial centers and served as platforms for religious rituals and astronomical observations. These pyramids were adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures, depicting mythological stories and deities.
Similarly, the Aztecs constructed pyramids as temples dedicated to their gods. The most famous of these was the Templo Mayor in the heart of Tenochtitlan (now in Mexico City), the Aztec capital. This pyramid was a focal point of religious ceremonies and sacrifices, reflecting the Aztecs’ deeply rooted spiritual beliefs.
The Pyramids of Caral and Cahuachi in Peru
Caral, the oldest known city in the Americas, was the center of the Norte Chico civilization. It is also renowned for its pyramids. Constructed approximately 5,000 years ago, these pyramids predate Egypt’s.
Central to the region’s religious practices, these structures, including the impressive Piramide Mayor, which measures 450 by 500 feet and stands over 60 feet tall, were likely focal points for community gatherings and celebrations.
Also in Peru, in the Cahuachi desert along the Nazca River (which is perhaps better known for the desert geoglyphs that are visible from the air) is home to some ancient pyramids. The area was a sacred ceremonial center for the Nazca and also housed temples and plazas. After a destructive flood and earthquake, the Nazca sealed up their monuments and abandoned the area.10
Native Americans and Pyramids
Also predating the Egyptian pyramids, Indigenous Peoples of North America built pyramid-shaped platform mounds, possibly dating back to 5500 BCE.
Mostly found in the Southeastern United States, these structures were typically earthen platforms that were used for various purposes, including ceremonial, religious, and sometimes residential functions.
Notable examples include those constructed by the Mississippian Native Americans in what is present-day Illinois. One is called Monks Mound, which was built around 900-950 AD, and is one of the largest prehistoric earthworks in the Americas.11
A Pyramid Within the Grand Canyon
There are also Native American stories about a pyramid that exists within the Grand Canyon. The Pueblo Tribes of the American Southwest say that they originated from the Canyon. According to their stories, within the Canyon, or underneath it, are rooms and passages that contain “Egyptian-like artifacts.” Furthermore, the Pueblo describe cities in the caves of the Canyon as well as a pyramid.12
These stories have parallels with those told about Mt. Shasta in California. The stories hint at multi-dimensional aspects of the Earth that are beyond the material, 3D world. According to these stories, beings who exist in other dimensions, or multiple dimensions, have a presence in, on, and around Earth. In stories about Mt. Shasta, these beings had to retreat into the mountain (also a pyramid, by the way) to avoid persecution. So, the Pueblo, who are a spiritually advanced People as other Indigenous Peoples are, could be tuning into these other dimensions.
While they weren’t made of mud or stone, Native Americans constructed another type of pyramid dwelling. In fact, we have evidence that humans were living in teepees before 7500 BCE. Archaeologists carbon-dated soil samples taken from the remains of ancient campsites, or villages, in North America, and discovered ancient stone rings that hinted at the design.13)
Modern Architectural Structures
Contemporary architecture also utilizes pyramid shapes in various kinds of construction. A notable example is the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, which was designed by architect I.M. Pei. It serves as an entrance to the Louvre Museum and is an iconic example of modern pyramid architecture.
Hotels and Casinos
In a nod to the ancient Egyptian pyramids, the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas is a notable modern building designed in the form of a pyramid. It also includes a replica of the mythical lion creature, the Sphinx and other ancient Egyptian motifs.
Contemporary architects use pyramid shapes in green building design. A notable example is the LEED certified Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco.
Pyramids in Art and Culture
Pyramids are popular shapes in art and pop culture as well, undoubtedly due to their profound symbolic meanings. Here are a few examples:
Sol LeWitt Pyramids
Structural artist Sol LeWitt featured pyramids in much of his artwork as they offered intriguing depth effects that hinted at higher dimensions.14
Andy Goldsworthy Natural Pyramid Sculptures
Artist Andy Goldsworthy is known for his pyramid installations that utilize natural materials to create pyramid-like structures in the environment. He integrates the geometric precision of pyramids with organic natural formations.
Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song”
The rock band Radiohead has a song called “Pyramid Song.” One of the band’s founders, Thom Yorke, was inspired after attending an exhibition of ancient Egyptian art that focused on the Underworld.
According to Yorke, “Stephen Hawking talks about the theory that time is another force, that time is completely cyclical … It’s something that I found in Buddhism as well. That’s what ‘Pyramid Song’ is about, the fact that everything is going in circles.”15
Here’s the band performing “Pyramid Song” in Paris:
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon Album Cover
One of the most iconic albums and album covers of all time, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album features a pyramid prism on the cover. Designer Storm Thorgerson was inspired by a photo of a prism with a beam of white light flowing into it and emitting a spectrum of colors, which he saw in a physics textbook.
In addition, he and fellow designer Aubrey Powell modeled the album artwork on an illustration by Alex Steinweiss for the New York Philharmonic’s 1942 performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto.16
The Pyramid as a Creative Channel and Charger
Another notable aspect to the Dark Side of the Moon album cover is the symbolic and literal meaning of a pyramid as a creative conduit, or charger.
Some people believe that creativity comes from our ability to channel divine energy. So, in this example, the white light represents that energy. The pyramid represents the creator (in this case, Pink Floyd) and the rainbow spectrum being emitted represents the music (or the creative product or message.)
Pyramid on the U.S. Dollar Bill
The pyramid symbol also makes an important appearance on the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States and on the back of the U.S. dollar bill. There are various theories about its meanings.
Mythologist Joseph Campbell explains that the pyramid represents the “reborn world.” He claimed that pyramids were at least partially inspired by the hills that would appear after the flooding and receding of the Nile River in ancient Egypt, when the world was reborn with fertility and abundance.
According to Campbell, the founding fathers of the U.S. were “learned gentlemen” who were well-versed in ancient Egyptian, Greek, and other cultures.
In addition, the pyramid is representative of another symbol called the tetractys. The symbol is composed of 10 dots that form a triangle. The single dot at the top represents the creative center, or the origins of the Universe. From the founders’ Judeo-Christian perspective, the dot represented the “Word” of God.
In the pyramid illustration on the Great Seal of the United States and the dollar bill, instead of a point, there is an eye with rays of light shining from it. The eye represents the eye of the Creator, or God, and God’s light shining on and protecting the people’s attempt at self-rule.
A Work in Progress
In addition, the fact that the pyramid is incomplete in the illustration represented that the nation was still a work in progress.
Other aspects of the pyramid in this context have important meanings. For example, the pyramid itself represents strength and stability. It was the founders’ hope that the new nation they were forming would have those qualities.
Furthermore, the 13 layers (or rows of bricks) in the pyramid represent the 13 original states. In addition, the four corners at the base of the pyramid represent the four directions. The idea was that, in a democracy, anyone from any direction has the right to speak and be heard.17
(I’ll take the liberty to note here that while the vision for the United States and what it would become was a powerful one, the treatment of the Indigenous Peoples who were already living here was unacceptable and spiritually idiotic, as the people already living on this land were highly advanced.)
Pyramid in Sacred Geometry
In the field of sacred geometry, which studies shapes and patterns in the Universe to understand higher levels of consciousness, the pyramid is a foundational symbol.
Considered one of the building blocks of the Universe, the tetrahedron shape is a pyramid composed of four triangles. One of the Platonic Solids, it represents creativity, energy, passion, and action. You can read more about this in my dedicated post on the Platonic Solids.
Essentially, the pyramid teaches us about the integration between the Earth and the “3D” material world and higher dimensions.
Pyramid Spiritual Meanings
In addition to those mentioned earlier, pyramids have held important spiritual meanings to people of various cultures for centuries. In fact, around the world, people of diverse cultures believe that pyramids, particularly the great pyramids created by ancient cultures, connected power spots on Earth with important power spots in the cosmos.
Here are some other examples:
As mentioned earlier, the ancient Egyptians believed the shape of pyramids, with their slanted walls joining at a point at the top, facilitated the pharoahs’ ascent to heaven.
In addition, the Egyptians worshiped the sun. And they equated the slanted walls of pyramids as well as obelisk structures to the sun’s beaming rays.
Indigenous Cultures of the Americas
For the Indigenous Peoples or North, Central, and South American, pyramids represented sacred mountains that connected the Earth to the Heavens.
In India, pyramid structures known as “shikharas” represent embracing cosmic energy and reaching spiritual enlightenment.
Pyramid Meditation and Manifestation Practices
Because of their physical properties and symbolic meanings, pyramids can be used in spiritual, meditation, and manifestation practices. Here are some ways you can use them to expand consciousness and receptivity to spiritual guidance:
1. Focus and Alignment
Just as pyramids form a point, or apex, at their top, they can represent focusing your attention in meditation. Some people find focusing on a mandala or lotus flower can help to reorient wandering thoughts in meditation. The pyramid can serve in the same fashion, whether it’s a figurine, a piece of art, or even in your imaginations.
In addition, you can focus your thoughts on moving up from the base of the pyramid, which can represent your experience in the material world to its pinnacle, which can represent a higher state of consciousness.
2. Energy Channeling
Pyramids are thought to channel cosmic energy, making them helpful tools for energy and even healing sessions. Placing a small pyramid on or near the head or body during energy and healing sessions is said to help balance and harmonize the body’s energy fields.
3. Manifestation Amplifier
The stable base and ascending sides of a pyramid can also symbolize staying grounded in the earthly plane while reaching for higher goals.
Writing down your intentions and placing them under a pyramid can be a helpful ritual in your manifestation practice. It can also serve as a request for blessings from higher powers when it comes to your endeavors.
4. Generating Creative Ideas
Given their association with enhancing focus and channeling energy, pyramids can be in creativity and problem solving when you want to channel higher energies and spiritual guidance.
In addition, the presence of a pyramid shape can serve as a visual and energetic reminder of your goals, aspirations, and unlimited capacity to create.
Reflecting ancient practices, pyramids can be used as symbolic gateways during spiritual initiations or significant transitions, representing the journey from one state of consciousness to another.
This can involve meditating within or near pyramid structures to tap into transformative energies.
6. Enhancing a Sacred Space
Incorporating pyramids into the design of a creative, meditation, or other sacred space can elevate the area’s vibrational qualities. The pyramid’s base provides stability and grounding, while its ascending sides support creativity, the quest for higher wisdom, and spiritual ascension.
From their physical elegance and strength to their cultural applications and spiritual significance, pyramids are far more than what meets the eye. They remind us to honor our experiences here on Earth while keeping in mind our ability to reach higher states of consciousness.
Frequently Asked Questions
The pyramid’s shape is believed to symbolize the connection and journey from the earthly realm to the spiritual, representing a pathway to higher consciousness.
Pyramids can be used as focal points in meditation practices. They are also believed to channel energy, aiding in greater spiritual understanding.
Pyramids have a number of profound symbolic meanings, including strength, stability, fire, human ingenuity, spiritual ascension, and the charging or channeling of energy.
You might enjoy these other articles on UniGuide:
- Seed of Life
- Flower of Life
- Sun Symbols
- Metatron’s Cube
- Platonic Solids in Sacred Geometry
- Torus in Sacred Geometry
- Golden Ratio in Sacred Geometry