Nature's Patterns

An esoteric dive into nature’s patterns.

Beauty is a manifestation of secret, natural laws. Goethe

In Daoism, the study of self-organizing order and pattern in nature is called Li. Gaining an understanding of the dynamic order and patterns in nature helps us become aware of nature’s secret language. Nature is precise and efficient allowing shape to be guided for purpose and function. There are many shapes or patterns in nature that are consistantly found at varying systematic levels. These often occur in geometric relationships to phi, The Fibonacci sequence and the Golden Spiral. Common or basic patterns in nature are spirals, branching (which include meander and explosion patterns) and also packing or labyrinth patterns.

Spirals are obvious in sea shells and also galaxies. Many plant structures are associated with spirals. The spiral whorls in broccoli and pine cones are examples. Tree branches grow in a spiral around the trunk for maximum access to sun, rain, nutrients, and pollinators. Spiral patterns are found in macro environments like galaxies to planetary weather patterns to shells down to micro environments such as our DNA.

Branching patterns are also called dendritic forms. Branching, of course is apparent in tree branches and tree roots, but is also seen in river deltas, lightening, stony coral, certain crystals, our circulatory and nervous systems. Even our brain cells, the micro-structures, have dendrites. Our lungs branch like an inverted tree. Just as streams feed into rivers, meanders are part of the dendritic pattern. Rivers meander and snakes leave a meander track in sand. Snowflakes and sunflowers radiate dendrites outwards like an explosion. These dendritic forms discharge, absorb or exchange energy or material between systems. For example dendrites appear to be the most efficient structures that link one system to another and distribute matter or energy. Trees and our lungs need to exchange gases with the atmosphere, their structure reflects their function- expanded surface interface. Fresh water is distributed through biomes through dendritic channels to trees and plants just as capillary blood vessels in the body need to reach every cell in the body to transport and exchange materials.

Storage of energy, materials or information is based on packing or labyrinth shapes. Examples of packing are honeycombs in a beehive, cells within tissues or basalt columns. A labyrinth pattern is seen in our brain macro-structure, certain coral, cabbage and other vegetables. The labyrinths in our brain are designed for information storage.

These archetypal patterns show us efficient shapes for processes to imitate for our purposes. From designing buildings for strength to creating carbon nanotubes, nature’s patterns are our best examples. Nature also shows us the patterns for interconnectedness, symbiosis and the resilience of diversity.