The chambered nautilus is an ancient creature related to squids and octopuses and appeared in the seas long before before the first dinosaurs. It is known as a "living fossil" because it has remained relatively unchanged in the past 450 million years.
The nautilus lives in a beautiful spiraled shell divided into increasingly larger chambers. When it first hatches from the egg, it has 4 chambers already formed. As it grows, it moves into the next largest space in the shell and builds a wall to seal off the old chamber.
Nautiluses are known to outgrow and build up to 30 chambers in the course of their adult lives. It's interesting to note that these chambers do not go to waste, as Nature does not waste anything - the nautilus keeps these inner chambers filled with gas to help control its buoyancy. When it wants to dive, it adds water to the chambers.
Seeing the cross-section of a chambered nautilus in real life is a sight to behold. It is shaped like an elegant spiral and lined with bright mother-of-pearl.
Nautilus Shell Sacred Geometry
The spiral of the nautilus is not just any spiral. Measuring it reveals that it conforms to the shape of the Golden Ratio spiral, what is known as a "sacred geometry".
It is considered sacred because it can be found in a wide variety of things in nature, such as the shape of our galaxy, of hurricanes, in the arrangements of sunflower seeds in the flower, in cauliflower, and pine cones.
It is also sacred because it is based on the Golden Ratio, which is one of life's great mysteries because it can be found in all living things.
We tend to think that things in the natural world are all different and grow in a free-form way. The idea that the Golden Ratio can be found in all living things is fascinating and mysterious because it seems to suggest that our natural world is not as random or irregular as it seems, but instead can be explained in the logic of numbers and mathematical equations.
And furthermore, it is intriguing that all living things have this ratio in common and are therefore inherently linked or somehow parts of a greater whole.
To understand this a little better, let me take you a little into the world of mathematics.
What is the Golden Ratio?
The Golden Ratio is based on the Fibonacci series, which is a series of numbers where the first two numbers add up to the succeeding number, like this: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, etc.
You can arrive at the Golden Ratio by dividing each number by the one before it and the further you go along the progression of numbers, the closer you get to the Golden Ratio number, which is 1.61803398...
Like this: 3/5 = 1.6666, 13/8 = 1.6250, 233/144 = 1.6180.
Let me reiterate that this ratio (1.61803398..) can be found in every life form, from our DNA, to many plants, the human skeleton, shells and the proportions in animals.
Plato called this number "the key for the universe physics" and mysteriously, studies have shown that when this ratio is incorporated into artwork and architecture, humans seem to find it more beautiful and elegant.
That the ratio is found in all living things implies that it is part of a "blueprint" of the universe, something that underlies the foundation of all living things and which serves to connect them to each other and to a greater whole.
Nautilus Shell Symbolism
As a symbol, the chambered nautilus is a powerful metaphor for one's spiritual evolution.
From the moment we are born and begin to crawl, we continuously discover, learn and outgrow our previous thoughts and views of the world. To learn and grow requires us to think in a new or different way, essentially, to think "outside the box".
Like the nautilus, once we've expanded our minds beyond the old box, we simply find ourselves in a new, bigger box, in which we continue to learn and grow.
We also find that once we have mentally moved into this new box, we can never go back to the smaller ones - they simply no longer fit us.
The nautilus can never stay in the same chamber because it continues to get bigger; it must build ever larger and larger chambers until the end of its life. And the spiral suggests that it can grow forever - there is never a design for a final chamber.
Because of its elegant and alluring shape, the nautilus is a symbol of perfection and beauty. It is sought after by so many collectors that it is now considered an endangered species. To protect the nautilus from extinction, simply do not purchase any shells.
The nautilus is also a symbol of strength because it can also withstand very high pressures in the ocean. It is thought that the shell can dive up to 2,600 feet or 800 meters before its shell will implode.
In conclusion, the nautilus is a reminder to us never to stop learning, growing and expanding our view of the world. And because it is in the shape of a Golden Ratio spiral, it reminds us that our own bodies contain the Golden Ratio and that we are all part of a greater whole.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article. Do you have thoughts about the chambered nautilus? Leave them below!
Photo credits: The photo of the swimming nautilus is by Bill Abbott, license. The Golden Section over the nautilus is by The Marmot, license. The Golden Ratio on the red background comes from pixabay.com, image 3594147. The cutaway nautilus on a blue background, pictures of the golden spiral in nature, the progressive cross-section, and the close-up cutaway of the nautilus come from Wikimedia Commons.