Papa and the Pinecone: A Penguin’s Hair View of Sacred Geometry

Welcome back to “Infinity and Beyond,” the hidden blog post site from This is the place where we spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, give the game away, reveal, disclose and make known for all to see, the symbols, secrets and synchronicities that can be found in the book, How Do We Love?- the true story Italian adventures of Aniello Agostino Oliviero, aka, “Papa,” and me, his grateful granddaughter, Danielle.

Last month in this blog, we met Signore Giordano Bruno, Italian philosopher, mystic and Vatican Heretic.  If you did not have a chance to make introductions, please be sure to check out the post! In it, we shared why Signore Bruno keeps curiously appearing throughout the story– and in the process learned about his teachings and writings on infinity, and his relationship with astrology, cosmology, Hermeticism, Tom Robbins, Finnegan’s Wake, Alice in Wonderland, Jabberwocky and Papa’s completely fake, yet exceptionally accurate, Scottish accent. This month we turn the crystal ball upside down and backwards to look at the magical mystery of Sacred Geometry, and again answer the question, “How is all this connected to Papa?” As with the previous posts, anything that appears in bold italics will be covered in future blog posts!

The Spiritual Pursuit of Geometry

In the book, How Do We Love?, the references to geometry are not exactly veiled. This excerpt is from the chapter, “The Isle of Capri”: 

“From the time I was little I can remember Papa demonstrating the importance of geometry in everyday life. When I was about six, he tried to use geometry to explain the miracle of balance in a seesaw. Later, when I was about eight, he demonstrated how I could use geometry in billiards to shoot the eight ball off the side wall and into the corner pocket. When I was ten, he used it to instruct me how to swim to shore if I got caught in a rip current that took me from the safety of the creek out into the Sound, and when I was twelve, he revealed geometry as the secret to tacking a sailboat in the wind. Papa loved the idea of balance and symmetry, and it influenced every facet of his living and thinking.”

The book’s references to Geometry may be bobbing about on the surface, but the depth of their possibilities lies far, far below (and above). For geometry is not just about lines and planes and billiards and sailing and a dreaded class in high school- its concepts go further than our human brains can imagine.

For the longest time, I interpreted Papa’s odd adoration of Geometry in the most basic sense, similar to a person’s love of physics trivia, or infinity jigsaw puzzles, or collecting squishy, shrunken heads. I never pondered beyond what I knew about the subject (which was not much, other than the sticky residue around the edges of that which I had forgotten from school…). And even though the mention of the word “Geometry” made me cringe and make Calvin and Hobbes faces, I enjoyed benefitting from what seemed like Papa’s simple knowledge of lines and planes. But my perception of that “simple knowledge” expanded like the universe when one day I asked him, “Papa, what religion are you?”

His answer: Geometry.

“If I had to give myself a religion…” he began, pause, pause, pause….“do you know what religion means? It comes from the Latin root ‘ligare,’ which means ‘to bind’…”pause, pause, pause, “I would say that I have no religion because I am not bound to any one system of formal religious beliefs. But I would say that I have two spiritual ‘pursuits,’ if you will. One is Geometry and the other is Infinity.”

“Geometry?” I questioned. “How could Geometry be spiritual?” I wondered quietly to myself and eventually to him.

“Geometry is everythin’,” he would explain with complete matter of fact. “Foist, it’s all around us- in buildings, in flowahs, in seashells, we’re all made up of the same stuff. Second, it is us- we’re symmetrical, right? Eveythin’ in us has got two identical halves, right?; And, thoidly and lastly, it’s in what we do – everythin’ has to have a balance to it, everythin’ has to even out in tha end. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” He would say that last part with a fake British accent, his back straight, and pinkie extended away from his imaginary tea cup.“It’s all geometry, kid, that’s what I’m tryin to tell ya- everythin is geometry!”

Hot damn if I didn’t understand a word he was trying to say at the time. But that was because Papa’s simple, yet cryptic declaration and explanation was just a single flake of snow, on the head of a penguin, on the tip of an iceberg that happened to be a submerged arctic mountain range. In that tiny, frozen crystal lay Papa’s attempt to offer up just a fractal fraction of his idea, his theory, his hypothesis, his “who da hell knows??”, hoping someone, anyone, would taste even just a spoonful of what he was serving. And in this case, what he was serving, my dear friend, was sacred.

Sacred Geometry

Papa never used the words “Sacred Geometry.” I am not sure he even knew the term, and I definitely did not, until many years later when I started to dip my toe into the warm, yet murky waters of the ancient mystery schools. But the more I learned, and the more I spotted glimpses of clarity in the mystical mud, the more I realized that while Papa may not have used those words, “Sacred Geometry,” he was definitely conscious of some of the notions they brought forth with them.

The founders and followers of Sacred Geometry believe that the most fundamental, basic shapes and patterns in the universe have a spiritual and even religious value to them. They believe that each of these forms, shapes and patterns reflect the source or origin of all existence– and that recognizing and reflecting upon them can bring higher levels of consciousness and enlightenment. These patterns can be found in everything, from nature and art, to architecture and ancient religious and spiritual symbols. If you have not noticed these patterns before now, I am certain you will begin.

One of my favorite examples of Sacred Geometry in nature is the pinecone. We had pinecones all over the house in Connecticut, representing my Mom’s insistence that the enormous, overflowing box of them in the garage was not just an exciting place for spiders and roaches to hide and procreate, but that the accumulation would someday result in the greatest craft project in the history of all craft projects. I loved to hold them (the pinecones, not the roaches), pull on the cone “scales,” and especially stare at the bottoms, running my fingers across the swirling pattern that always seemed to be there and always looked the same. I was, of course, oblivious to the ancient secrets held within this crazy Christmas conifer (other than the pine nuts they produced, which Papa used to make the profanely yummy Italian, “pignoli cookies”).


In the photo above, pilfered from, we can see that beautiful, mesmerizing pattern on the bottom of the cone. Not only is it quite fetching, there is a reason it always looks the same. That reason is because it more or less is the same– each cone bottom spirals in a very specific way, a way that results from the plant’s need to grow in the most effective and efficient manner– a “common” physical growth pattern that occurs according to the “Golden Ratio” in what is called a “Fibonacci Sequence.”

Fibonacci Spiral of a pine cone. Source:  (If you want to learn more, an exceptional explanation of the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci Sequence in plants is provided by our brilliant friends at “Math is Fun” at )

Fibonacci Spiral of a pine cone.
(If you want to learn more, an exceptional explanation of the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci Sequence in plants
is provided by our brilliant friends at “Math is Fun” at )

So. We have firmly established that the pinecone is lovely, you can allegedly make crafts with it, it produces luscious little nuts, and it logically utilizes a natural pattern to grow in the most efficient way. But, what about it is…sacred? (Other than the cookies, that’s pretty obvious.) The key lies within those two fancy labels, the “Golden Ratio” and the “Fibonacci Sequence.” The terms represent two more snowflakes on our penguin, and carry with them mind-boggling implications within the spiritual, religious, physical, mathematical and scientific realms.

Leonardo da Vinci called the Golden Ratio the “Divine Proportion,” as it appears repeatedly in seemingly miraculous ways in nature- and as such, many people of his time, and since, have thought the patterns were expressions of our creator and thus held all the secrets to creation. Most of us are familiar with Da Vinci’s famous “Vitruvian Man,” which is a symbol of Divine Proportion of the human body- and, by extension, the entire universe and everything within it.

Ok, so this is not the original image of DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man, it is an interpretation, created by genius artist Eric at the Odd Sock blog (you can pick up the t-shirt version at

Ok, so this is not the original image of DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man,
it is an interpretation, created by genius artist Eric at the Odd Sock blog
(you can pick up the t-shirt version at

Dan Brown drew these same ancient mysteries into popular culture in his book, The DaVinci Code, and with them came a modern day resurgence of fascination with the puzzles, mysteries and secret societies that arose from the study of…Geometry!

Because of the pinecone’s pattern, pinecones have long been the symbol of human consciousness, enlightenment and infinite and everlasting life. The pineal gland, the tiny, pinecone-shaped gland in the center of our brain, was named after the pinecone. The pineal gland has been called the “seat of the soul” and the “internal third eye.” As a symbol of these associations, the image of pinecones can be found everywhere throughout history, religion, spirituality art and architecture. On his website, Carl Weiseth, founder of Third Eye Pinecones*, does an excellent job of explaining the historical significance of the pinecone, giving examples of its use in Egyptian, Hindu, Mexican, Greek, Roman, and Catholic religions, as well as providing references to pinecones in the bible, freemasonry and crop circles:

“Catholic religious tradition is intricately interwoven with pinecones, perhaps most prominently atop the sacred staff carried by the Pope himself.” Source:

“Catholic religious tradition is intricately interwoven with pinecones,
perhaps most prominently atop the sacred staff carried by the Pope himself.”

Sculpture from the ‘Court of the Pinecone’ in front of the Vatican  Source: Carl Weiseth, “Pinecone Symbology” at

Sculpture from the ‘Court of the Pinecone’ in front of the Vatican
Source: Carl Weiseth, “Pinecone Symbology” at

Freemason sculpture from the Whitehall Building  in the New York Financial District  Source:

Freemason sculpture from the Whitehall Building
in the New York Financial District

The Woodborough Hill Crop Circle appeared on August 12, 2000 Source:

The Woodborough Hill Crop Circle appeared on August 12, 2000

So there you have it, dear one. When you read about Papa’s affinity for geometry in How Do We Love? It was more than just a reference to one of his “crazy idears.” It was a nod to a belief system that goes back thousands of years and holds mysteries beyond our imagination.

Now, my goal in this post was just to give away a secret or two– and to show how Papa’s love of geometry was more than just lines and planes. My intention was not to provide a comprehensive education– that is what Wikipedia and YouTube are for, right? Right. The aspects of Sacred Geometry we chatted about here represent only a few snowflakes on a few hairs of that penguin from iceberg mountain. The pursuit of Geometry takes us deep, deep within that submerged arctic range, and buried throughout are thousands of concepts, ideas and possibilities, including (but definitely not limited to!) Mandelbrot’s Fractal Geometry, The Flower of Life, and Harmonic Ratios. And as humans explored further those and related possibilities, they reached into the mysteries of light, cosmology and even music! Yes, that’s right, music, as in the Geometry of sound.

A number of historical philosophers, mathematicians, theologians, musicians and mystics focused on this “Geometry of sound.” We will shine a light on one wizard in particular– an ancient sage named….can you guess? Do you know already, wise friend? I think you do, we met him in the book when we visited Rome and tried to navigate that crazy Piazza Venezia! If you were not able to join us in Roman traffic, don’t worry, we’ll be going back again. But since I now find myself with a desperate craving for pignoli cookies, why don’t we save that particular encounter and introductions for the next post? In the meantime, if you want another hint and are hungry to learn a little bit more about the Geometry of sound, be sure to check our sister blog at and look for the January post, “Aniello Agostino Oliviero’s Infinity Symphony in G Major.”  And for more on Sacred Geometry, Fibonacci’s Sequence and other similar mathematical mysteries, here are three of my favorite YouTube links on the subjects:

Inner and Outer Worlds, Part 1: Akasha

Inner and Outer Worlds, Part 2:

Ancient Knowledge Part 1: Ancient Consciousness, Sacred Geometry and Cymatics

And we couldn’t let you go without a recipe- a very special one at that, never released before: Papa and my recipe for those sacred (and profane) pignoli cookies- now you will not have to wander around Rome or head to Mazzaros Italian Market if you want to eat them (although those are the preferred methods!)


½ cup of Pine nuts

Two tubes of unsweetened almond paste

1 cup of powdered sugar

2 egg whites

Squeeze of honey

Pinch of Cinnamon

Dash of Salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F)

Put a little olive oil on a cookie sheet

Put the almond paste and the confectioner’s sugar in a bowl and mix until all blended. Add the honey and egg whites, blend some more. Finish with the cinnamon and salt and blend until everything is completely mixed!

Use a small spoon to place roundish globs on the cookie sheet, then squish pine nuts into the top of each cookie.

Bake for a lucky Italian 13 minutes or until they look toasty and smell amazing, and then share with as many family and friends as possible!

Thank you, again, for taking the time to join us here at “Infinity and Beyond.” If you have not yet had a chance to read the book, you can learn more about it at We would love to have you on the caravan!

Be well, dear friend, and may you seek out and discover your own synchronicities, symbols and signs in the world around you. They are everywhere, all the time, and can guide us to where the universe needs us to be – if we just pay a little bit of attention.

Ci vediamo la prossima mese! See you next month!

*(Pinecone sidenote: Read more about pinecone symbology-and ooh and aah over Carl Weiseth’s stunning pinecone and gem amulets (and miraculous recovery from a fall out of a pine tree!)- at

Post-publishing update: Thanks to Patrick G. for sending this follow up to the post- a “WIRED” magazine article on, about a brilliantly gifted Venezuelan artist named Rafael Araujo, who combines geometry and nature art to create amazingly complex, yet stunningly beautiful nature art! The link to the article can be found here:

and the link to Senor Araujo’s website here:

Here is just a small sample of his miraculous mathematical art:





What Does Giordano Bruno Have to Do With Papa’s Italy?

For those of you just joining us, you either found your way here via serendipity, or through the website Either way, it was meant to be.

The first November post will give you a bit of background as to why we are here, so it will be helpful to take a look at that first – but the instant gratification version is that we are exploring infinity and the synchronicity, signs and symbols of the book “How Do We Love?”. If you are not familiar with the book yet, you can go to to learn more about the true, epic adventures of Neil Oliviero, aka, “Papa,” and me, his granddaughter Danielle – as we “time travel” together between Italy, the Bronx, New York, and Modern Day Florida.

As we mentioned in the last post, every week we will walk through one of the symbols (what we call hidden “eggs”) in the book and explore what it meant to the story. As we do, you will soon begin to see that not only are the eggs worth cracking open, but they begin to mix and meld in their own mystical way – a way that can lead you, like Alice, down a wondrous rabbit hole of synchronicity, possibilities and learning if you allow it! Anything you see typed in CAPS will be discussed in a future blog. And every once in a while we will throw in a handy, dandy diagram to show you that everything, from the Hebraic alphabet to infinity, really is all related.

This first entry will start with Signore Giordano Bruno – Italian astrologer, philosopher and Vatican heretic. Everything else leads from him, friend.

In the chapter “Free and In Rome,” we meet Signore Giordano Bruno in the famous Roman piazza, Campo de’ Fiori:

“…most of its occupants are blissfully unaware that the festive piazza filled with soft lights and music and abuzz with shiny, happy people used to be a place of public punishment. They don’t know that the eerie statue of the mysterious man under whom they cavort is an effigy to the philosopher Giordano Bruno. His written works were placed in the “Index of Forbidden Books” in the sixteenth century, and it was in that exact spot that he was burned alive by the Catholic church, as were many other “heretics” of that time. Signore Bruno’s statue is positioned purposely so that he faces the Vatican—this once “dangerous” threat to society, memorialized as a martyr of freedom of speech.

That excerpt is, of course, a woefully inadequate and incomplete description of Giordano Bruno. To fully understand his accomplishments, his works, his life, his sacrifices, you would need to live and learn through several lifetimes, one of which should probably be his. As the vast majority of us have no desire to endure that which he did, we’ll have to be satisfied with just a glimpse into his world—a glimpse that will also serve our purpose of better understanding what he has to do with “Papa’s Italy.”

There are three main links between Giordano Bruno and the book:

1)   INFINITY. Giordano Bruno, who lived from 1548 to February 16, 1600, took on many roles during his abbreviated lifetime—philosopher, astronomer, astrologer, mathematician, writer, teacher.* But his mention in the book How Do We Love? is there not only because of his statue in the Campo de’ Fiori in Rome (where I consumed massive amount of fried squash flowers and wine), it is also a nod to Signore Bruno’s belief in INFINITY – which, as you know, is a key element in the story of How Do We Love?.

Giordano Bruno believed that the universe was infinite and included an infinite number of other planets (many of which he thought held other life forms.) At the time this was in direct contradiction to the beliefs of the Catholic church, however Bruno expounded upon these ideas anyway, both verbally and in writing in such tracts as “De l’Infinito Universo et Mondi” (On the Infinite Universe and Worlds.) Because of his beliefs, Bruno garnered a great deal of attention, both negative (before his death), and positive (primarily posthumously.) So there you go! Giordano Bruno and a hidden wink at infinity! But wait…as it is with infinity, there’s always room for one more!

2)   HERMETICISM. I included Signore Bruno for his philosophy on infinity, but also for the powerful role which the Hermetic Mystery School** tradition had on his beliefs. HERMETECISM is an ancient doctrine of spiritual and religious beliefs invented by a pagan prophet named Hermes Trismegistus. The doctrine revolves around three elements: ALCHEMY, ASTROLOGY and Theurgy. Alchemy and Astrology are two other elements I reference in How Do We Love? and will definitely be a dot to which we repeatedly connect in future blogs!

3)   AS ABOVE SO BELOW. As you now know, Signore Bruno subscribed to Hermeticism. The overarching maxim of Hermetecism is the phrase, “As above so below.”

In the Epilogue of How Do We Love?, in the chapter “The Sun Shone and I Saw All of Venice,” I included the following line and nod to Signore Bruno, Hermetics, Alchemy and Infinity: As was the galaxy above so was the mirror of the tiny lights below.”

You will see the phrase “AS ABOVE, SO BELOW” come up again in future blogs here, and, if you have not noticed it before, you will probably begin to see it come up in your own life is well. Synchronicity is funny like that, isn’t it?

Speaking of synchronicity, those were the three main links between Signore Bruno and the book- but as with all the best egg hunts, once you find a few, then the real fun begins! Here is a “Plummet Down the Rabbit Hole” that all started with Giordano Bruno:

∞Research on Giordano Bruno led me to read about the author James Joyce, whose book Finnegan’s Wake was supposedly based on the beliefs and teachings of Giordano Bruno.

∞Further, I learned that the composition of Finnegan’s Wake begins with a sentence fragment and ends with the beginning of that fragment, which makes the story one continuous INFINITE loop…

Finnegan’s Wake research led me to an interview with author Tom Robbins, one of my favorite authors of all time, in which Robbins divulges that he keeps a copy of Finnegan’s Wake by his bed and reads a line every night. There are several winks to Tom Robbins in How Do We Love?. Including this line from the chapter titled, “Raising Baby Ducks” :

“I parked the car and, luggage in tow, glad and dizzy, we floated through the stone tunnel …’”

The phrase  “Glad and Dizzy” is in reference to one of Tom Robbins’s own tributes in his book, Wild Ducks Flying Backwards and also in his childrens book, B is for Beer. There is also a reference to “Wild Ducks” in the Gratitude section of the book How Do We Love?

∞In researching more about Finnegan’s Wake (be sure to check out its namesake Irish drinking song…) I also learned that Joyce’s style of writing in Finnegan was influenced by “Jabberwocky”, the poem written by author Lewis Carroll who wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

∞Coincidentally Papa used to recite Jabberwocky all the time to show me: 1) how he could still remember it from 5th  grade; 2) his phenomenal Irish brogue that he unleashed for its delivery; and 3) how learning the complicated accent for the poem was the catalyst for his ability to speak with Irish, Scottish, British and Australian accents effectively.

∞Finally, I started this whole blog fandango (blogdango?) with a reference to Alice in Wonderland and the rabbit hole, having no idea that she was going to appear here at the end with Senor Carroll!

Ok, friends, that’s it for this month. Thanks so much for taking the time to play! Be sure to check out for new events and information as well as information on where to buy the book “How Do We Love?” Please stop back in next month for the hunt for more golden eggs. And in the meantime, open your eyes wide, slow down your stride just a bit, and pay attention to the signs, symbols and synchronicities in your life. Who knows where they might take you?  Ci vediamo la prossima mese! See you next month!

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

~Lewis Carroll, from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872