‘Although fractals are very complex shapes,
they are formed by repeating a simple process over and over’
Jonathan Wolf www.fractalfoundation.org
I want to pursue the thought that the shamanic world view is essentially as pragmatic as any scientific pursuit here. Both are based on astute observation of the world around us. They use very different language to describe their interactions. It is in the places where the filter of language intersects that we might be able to get a glimpse of what is common to both. This card deck representing a contemporary World Tree is essentially a fractal map. What does that mean?
A French mathematician named Mandelbrot coined the term fractal in 1975 to describe a specific kind of mathematical concept that addressed repeating patterns in nature as well as in theory. Computers have allowed people to see the fractal patterns these kind of equations create even though mathematicians are still arguing about how to define them. The criteria the mathematicians have agreed on are remarkably similar to the qualities of the shamanic World Tree.
Mathematicians say that fractals are self-similar, echoing an ancient alchemical concept of the microcosm as a complete mirror of the macrocosm. They transcend scale, and their patterns are interconnected. They are not limited to geometrical shapes in the material world, but can describe processes occurring in time. Like shamans, fractals tell the story of the process that creates them. Most wondrously, with fractals as in nature, universal rules result in infinite diversity and beauty.
The language of numbers appears to have had limited appeal in human culture, while metaphors of images, journeys, and relationships endure. While the mathematician will talk about the inherent lines of symmetry in a fractal image, the shaman will describe the trunk of the world tree.