October 23, 2019
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The General Description of the Path

daleth---------- copyThis is the fourth letter of alphabet. This is path number fourteen, joining Chokmah to Binah. His numerical value is 4. Since this path joins, in the region of the Supernals, the Father to the Mother, we would logically anticipate correspondences expressing the attraction of the positive for the negative, and the love of the male for the female whereby the Yod and the Héh primal unite. The fourteenth path “represents love of the Supernal Father for the Supernal Mother, and vice versa. It is the last horizontal path or barrier upon the Tree, and thus it also represents a certain hazard or danger connected with the “law of regeneration.” The downward path from the crown of the Tree to its base is under the law of generation, that is, its purpose is the manifesting of the objective reality from the original state of subjective being. On the other hand, the objective of the upward journey is the realization of being and the detachment of the individual consciousness from its attachments to objectivity.

The path from Chokhmah to Binah is the root of all duality and manifestation.  One could imagine the path as a hose pumping water into a swimming pool – Chokhmah is the hose (traditionally the image was a spring or fountain) and Binah is the pool (traditionally the image was the sea, or supernal waters). Another related image is that of ejaculation into the womb of the Mother.  A symbol that captures something of the essence of this path is the well-known Yin-Yang symbol from Taoism. It suggests a mixing of two principles, with Yin being approximately cognate to the Mother, and Yang approximately cognate to the Father. (Collin A. Low, The Hermetic Kabbalah, p. 332)

dalethThe motherly Fourteenth Path thus serves two separate and opposite objectives, depending on whether it is traveled downward or upward. On the path of forthcoming, it becomes the mother-force of generation, or the root of creating objective beings and conditions to which we might become attached. On the path of return, we are being given birth in an intangible, subjective sense; we become born as children of the Divine. Thus we find the ultimate union of the highest archetypal realities of what C.G. Jung called the “anima” and the “animus,” referring to the inner masculine aspect of a woman, respectively. At this point, we ourselves become the spiritual offspring of the mysterium conjunctionis, the Hermetic marriage of this last great pair of opposites. We must guard our step, however, so that the titanic force of love encountered here will not flow in the direction of earthly pursuits and reverse our direction of travel at this late stage.

The Hebrew Letter Correspondence: Daleth

alphabet-hebreu-daletDaleth is a “double letter,”22 and consequently is pronounced a heavy “th” as in “the” and “lather,” when with a dôgesh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The Tarot Trump Correspondence: The Empress

III-The-Empress-Daleth-12-The Empress appears as “a majestic robed woman” sitting on a throne wearing a starry crown “with a diadem of stars”, holding a scepter in one hand that is surmounted by a globe. The Scepter is representative of her power over life, her crown has twelve stars representing her dominance over the year, and her throne is in the midst of a field of grain, representative of her dominion over growing things. “On her heart-shaped shield, the emblem of Venus is emblazoned. Surrounding her are numerous plants associated with mother goddesses, as are many of ther adornments. Universal fecundity and matronal benevolence radiates from this Arcanum, which is designed to symbolize the doorway of the double-birth of the soul. On the intial pathway, it has to do with generation, the birth of things, beings and ideas; while on the pathway of return, it has to do with regeneration, the birth of the divinity out of the womb of humanity. For this reason, in some Tarot Deck, the Empress is portrayed as pregnant.”[1] According to Waite‘s The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, The Empress is the inferior (as opposed to nature’s superior) Garden of Eden, the “Earthly Paradise”. Waite defines her as not being Regina Coeli (the Blessed Virgin Mary), but rather a Refugium Peccatorum – a fruitful mother of thousands: she is above all things universal fecundity and the outer sense of the Word, the repository of all things nurturing and sustaining, and of feeding others. She can represent the creation of life, of romance, of art or business. The Empress can represent the germination of an idea before it is ready to be fully born. The Empress is often associated with Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love, and indeed the Rider-Waite deck brandishes her symbol upon a heart-shaped bolster. The Empress is also often interpreted to be Demeter, goddess of abundance. She is the giver of earthly gifts, although at the same time, she can be overprotective and possessive. In anger she can withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. Due to her fury and grief, Demeter keeps the Earth cold and barren until Spring when her child is returned to her. From her come all the pleasures and joys of the senses and the abundance of new life in all its forms. The Empress encourages you to strengthen your connections with the natural world which is the ground of our being. Too often false sophistications and pleasures take us far from our roots. Let the Empress remind you to keep your feet firmly planted in the Earth. In readings the Empress can refer to any aspect of Motherhood. She can be an individual mother, but as a major arcana card, she also goes beyond the specifics of mothering to its essence – the creation of life and its sustenance through loving care and attention. The Empress can also represent lavish abundance of all kinds. She offers a cornucopia of delights, especially those of the senses – food, pleasure and beauty. She can suggest material reward, but only with the understanding that riches go with a generous and open spirit. The Empress asks you to embrace the principle of life and enjoy its bountiful goodness.

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[1] Stephen, A. Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage, Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p. 110.

 

The Astrological Correspondence: Venus

venus-3Astrologically its planet is Venus. It should follow in consequence from this that the gods and qualities of Netzach relate to love, victory, and to the harvest. (Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 52; Aleister Crowley, 777, p. 11)  Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days.[11] It has no natural satellite. It is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows.[12] Because Venus is an inferior planet from Earth, it never appears to venture far from the Sun: its elongation reaches a maximum of 47.8°. Venus reaches its maximum brightness shortly before sunrise or shortly after sunset, for which reason it has been referred to by ancient cultures as the Morning Star or Evening Star.

Venus is a terrestrial planet and is sometimes called Earth’s “sister planet” because of their similar size, gravity, and bulk composition (Venus is both the closest planet to Earth and the planet closest in size to Earth). However, it has also been shown to be very different from Earth in other respects. It has the densest atmosphere of the four terrestrial planets, consisting of more than 96% carbon dioxide. The atmospheric pressure at the planet’s surface is 92 times that of Earth’s. With a mean surface temperature of 735 K (462 °C; 863 °F), Venus is by far the hottest planet in the Solar System. It has no carbon cycle to lock carbon back into rocks and surface features, nor does it seem to have any organic life to absorb it in biomass. Venus is shrouded by an opaque layer of highly reflective clouds of sulfuric acid, preventing its surface from being seen from space in visible light. Venus may have possessed oceans in the past,[13][14] but these would have vaporized as the temperature rose due to a runaway greenhouse effect.[15] The water has most probably photodissociated, and, because of the lack of a planetary magnetic field, the free hydrogen has been swept into interplanetary space by the solar wind.[16] Venus’s surface is a dry desertscape interspersed with slab-like rocks and periodically refreshed by volcanism.

Venus (Venus symbol.svg) is the ruling planet of Libra and Taurus and is exalted in Pisces. In Roman mythology, Venus is the goddess of love and beauty, famous for the passions she could stir among the gods. Her cults may represent the religiously legitimate charm and seduction of the divine by mortals, in contrast to the formal, contractual relations between most members of Rome’s official pantheon and the state, and the unofficial, illicit manipulation of divine forces through magic. The ambivalence of her function is suggested in the etymological relationship of the root *venes- with Latin venenum (poison, venom), in the sense of “a charm, magic philtre”.

Venus orbits the Sun in 225 days, spending about 18.75 days in each sign of the zodiac. Venus is the second brightest object in the night sky, the Moon being the brightest. It is usually beheld as a twin planet to Earth.

Astrologically, Venus is associated with the principles of harmony, beauty, balance, feelings and affections and the urge to sympathize and unite with others. It is involved with the desire for pleasure, comfort and ease. It governs romantic relations, marriage and business partnerships, sex (the origin of the words ‘venery’ and ‘venereal’), the arts, fashion and social life. The 1st-century poet Marcus Manilius described Venus as generous and fecund and the lesser benefic.

The planet Venus In medicine, Venus is associated with the lumbar region, the veins, parathyroids, throat and kidneys. Venus was thought to be moderately warm and moist and was associated with the phlegmatic humor. Venus is the ruler of the second and seventh houses.

Venus is the planet of Friday. In languages deriving from Latin, such as Romanian, Spanish, French, and Italian, the word for Friday often resembles the word Venus (vineri, viernes, vendredi and “venerdì” respectively). Dante Alighieri associated Venus with the liberal art of rhetoric.[21] In Chinese astrology, Venus is associated with the element metal, which is unyielding, strong and persistent. In Indian astrology, Venus is known as Shukra and represents wealth, pleasure and reproduction. In Norse Paganism, the planet is associated to Freyja, the goddess of love, beauty and fertility.

The Roman Deity Correspondence: Venus

vebus-by-boticelliIts astrological attribution of this path is the Planet Venus, the lady of love. The pronunciation of the Hebrew letter which is ascribed to it, Daleth, means a “door,” which even in Freudian symbolism possesses the significance of the womb. The title of this fourteenth path is “The Luminous Intelligence,” and its gods are Aphrodite’s Lalita – the sexual aspect of Sakti, the wife of Shiva – and the sweet low-browed Hathor, who is a cow goddess.[2] Venus (Latin: [ˈwɛnʊs]) is a Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty, sex, seduction and fertility, who played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths. From the third century BC, the increasing Hellenization of Roman upper classes identified her as the equivalent of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Roman mythology made her the divine mother of Aeneas, the Trojan ancestor of Rome’s founder, Romulus.Venus embodies love, beauty, enticement, ease, seduction and persuasive charm among the community of immortal gods; her name derives from the common Latin noun “venus”, which means “love” and “sexual desire”.[3] Venus was identified with water, roses and above all, myrtle. The Romans cultivated myrtle as an originally exotic import, with long-established connections to the Greek goddess Aphrodite. It was admired for its white, sweetly scented flowers, its aromatic, evergreen leaves and medical-magical properties; it was used to cleanse and purify, to avert the evil eye, and to treat various ailments, including infertility and diminished libido. It was gradually assimilated to Rome’s native Venus. An existing Roman cult to the ancient Romano-Etruscan water-goddess Cloacina, in which myrtle was employed as a purifier, gave rise to Venus Cloacina. Roman folk-etymology connected myrtle (Latin murtos) to an ancient, obscure goddess Murcia, later identified by Pliny as “Venus of the Myrtles, whom we now call Murcia”.[4] In the Roman ovation, a lesser form of Roman triumph, generals wore a myrtle crown to purify themselves and their armies of blood-guilt; the ovation was assimilated to Venus Victrix (“Victorious Venus”), who was held to have granted and purified its relatively “easy” victory.[5] Myrtle’s cleansing effects were anciently associated with chastity but its association with Venus as a goddess of fertility, seduction and unbridled libido also made it an aphrodisiac. The female pudendum, particularly the clitoris, was known as murtos (myrtle).[6] Roman custom forbade the use of myrtle in the bridal crowns; although Venus played an essential role at the prenuptial rites, and certainly during the wedding night, marriage itself was a serious and solemn affair, and belonged to Juno. At the rites to the Bona Dea (“The Good Goddess”), myrtle and Venus could not even be mentioned. The all-women celebrants at these festivities drank wine; not the ordinary, everyday wine in which Venus had a divine hand but the strongest, sacrificial-grade wine, otherwise reserved for the Roman gods, and for Roman men. Had Venus might been present, these women might be provoked to thoughts or deeds of unconstrained lust. Her exclusion allowed them to get virtuously, religiously drunk.[7] Roses were a sign of Venus, offered in her Porta Collina rites.

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[2] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p.71.

[3]Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, 1879, the word “Venus” has connections to venerari (to honour, to try to please) and venia (grace, favour) through a possible common root in an Indo-European *wenes-, comparable to Sanskrit vanas- “lust, desire”. See William W.Skeat Etymological Dictionary of the English Language New York, 2011 (first ed. 1882) s. v. venerable, venereal, venial. The Vedic goddess Ushas is linked to Latin “Venus” by the Vedic Sanskrit epithet vanas- “(female) loveliness; longing, desire”.

[4]Eden, P.T., “Venus and the Cabbage,” Hermes, 91, (1963), pp. 457-458, citing Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book 15, 119 – 121. It is interesting to note that Murcia had a shrine at the Circus Maximus.

[5]In the Triumph, the general was drawn in a four-horse chariot before his troops. He wore Jupiter’s laurel crown, and was applauded as Jupiter’s embodiment for the day – or a king, by any other name. See Mary Beard, The Roman Triumph, The Belknap Press, 2007. See also Brouwer, Henrik H. J., Bona Dea, The Sources and a Description of the Cult, in Études préliminaires aux religions orientales dans l’Empire romain, 110, BRILL, 1989: citing Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book 23, 152 – 158, and Book 15, 125.

[6]Versnel, H. S., Inconsistencies in Greek and Roman Religion, Vol. 2, Transition and reversal in myth and ritual, BRILL, 1994, p. 262

[7] Though Venus played a part in prenuptial rites, the wedding and the state of marriage were the domain of Juno. For the total exclusion of myrtle (and therefore Venus) at Bona Dea’s rites, see Bona Dea article. Eden, P.T., Venus and the Cabbage, Hermes, 91, (1963), p. 456, citing Ovid, Fasti 4, 869-870, cf. I35-I38; Ovid describes the rites observed in the early Imperial era, when the temple environs were part of the Gardens of Sallust.

The Greek Deity Correspondence: Aphrodite

aphrodite1Her counterpart, Aphrodite (Greek Ἀφροδίτη), is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. Her Roman equivalent is the goddess Venus. Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia. According to Hesiod‘s Theogony, she was born when Cronus cut off Uranus‘ genitals and threw them into the sea, and from the sea foam (aphros) arose Aphrodite. Thus Aphrodite is of an older generation than Zeus. Because of her beauty other gods feared that jealousy would interrupt the peace among them and lead to war, and so Zeus married her to Hephaestus, who was not viewed as a threat. Aphrodite had many lovers, both gods like Ares, and men like Anchises. Aphrodite also became instrumental in the Eros and Psyche legend, and later was both Adonis‘ lover and his surrogate mother. Many lesser beings were said to be children of Aphrodite. Aphrodite is also known as Cytherea (Lady of Cythera) and Cypris (Lady of Cyprus) after the two cult-sites, Cythera and Cyprus, which claimed her birth. Myrtles, doves, sparrows, horses, and swans are sacred to her. Aphrodite was also associated with, and often depicted with, the sea, dolphins, pomegranates, sceptres, apples, rose trees, lime trees, clams, scallop shells, and pearls. The Greeks further identified the Ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor with Aphrodite.[8]

 

 

 

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[8]Reginald Eldred Witt (1997), Isis in the Ancient World (Johns Hopkins University Press), p. 125

The Scandinavian Deity Correspondence: Freyja

freyyaaThe goddess of love in the Norse myth was Freyja, the daughter of Njord – a Jupiterian tutelary deity. The name Freyja ultimately means “the Lady”, from a Common Germanic *Frawjō, cognate with modern German Frau. The theonym Freyja was thus an epitheton in origin, replacing a personal name that is now unattested. The connection with and possible earlier identity of Freyja with Frigg (Frija) in the Common Germanic period is a matter of scholarly dispute.[9]In Norse mythology, Freyja is a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death. Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot driven by two cats, owns the boar Hildisvíni, possesses a cloak of falcon feathers, and, by her husband Óðr, is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi. Along with her brother Freyr (Old Norse the “Lord“), her father Njörðr, and her mother (Njörðr’s sister, unnamed in sources), she is a member of the Vanir. Stemming from Old Norse Freyja, modern forms of the name include Freya, Freja, Freyia, Frøya, and Freia. Freyja rules over her heavenly afterlife field Fólkvangr and there receives half of those that die in battle, whereas the other half go to the god Odin‘s hall, Valhalla. Within Fólkvangr is her hall, Sessrúmnir. Freyja assists other deities by allowing them to use her feathered cloak, is invoked in matters of fertility and love, and is frequently sought after by powerful jötnar who wish to make her their wife. Freyja’s husband, the god Óðr, is frequently absent. She cries tears of red gold for him, and searches for him under assumed names. Freyja has numerous names, including Gefn, Hörn, Mardöll, Sýr, Valfreyja, and Vanadís. Freyja and her afterlife field Fólkvangr, where she receives half of the slain, have been theorized as connected to the valkyries. Scholar Britt-Mari Näsström points out the description in Gylfaginning where it is said of Freyja that “whenever she rides into battle she takes half of the slain,” and interprets Fólkvangr as “the field of the Warriors”. Näsström notes that, just like Odin, Freyja receives slain heroes who have died on the battlefield, and that her house is Sessrumnir (which she translates as “filled with many seats”), a dwelling that Näsström posits likely fills the same function as Valhalla. Näsström comments that “still, we must ask why there are two heroic paradises in the Old Norse view of afterlife. It might possibly be a consequence of different forms of initiation of warriors, where one part seemed to have belonged to Óðinn and the other to Freyja. These examples indicate that Freyja was a war-goddess, and she even appears as a Valkyrie, literally ‘the one who chooses the slain’.”[10] Freia—a combination of Freyja and the goddess Iðunn—from Richard Wagner‘s opera Der Ring des Nibelungen as illustrated (1910) by Arthur Rackham Siegfried Andres Dobat comments that “in her mythological role as the chooser of half the fallen warriors for her death realm Fólkvangr, the goddess Freyja, however, emerges as the mythological role model for the Valkyrjar [sic] and the dísir.”[11]

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[9]Grundy, Stephan (1998). “Freyja and Frigg”. In Billington, Sandra; Green, Miranda. The Concept of the Goddess. Routledge, p. 57.

[10]Näsström, Britt-Mari (1999). “Freyja – The Trivalent Goddess” in Sand, Reenberg Erik; Sørensen, Jørgen Podemann (1999). Comparative Studies in History of Religions: Their Aim, Scrope and Validity. Museum Tusculanum Press, p. 61

[11]Dobat, Siegfried Andres (2006). “Bridging mythology and belief: Viking Age functional culture as a reflection of the belief in divine intervention” in Andren, A.; Jennbert, K.; Raudvere, C. Old Norse Religion in Long Term Perspectives: Origins, Changes and Interactions, an International Conference in Lund, Sweden, June 3–7, 2004. Nordic Academic Press, p. 186.

The Hindu Deity Correspondence: Lalita

lalitaTripurasundarī (“Beautiful (Goddess) of the Three Cities”) or Mahā-Tripurasundarī (“Great Beautiful (Goddess) of the Three Cities”), also called Ṣoḍaśī (“Sixteen”), Lalitā (“She Who Plays”[1]) and Rājarājeśvarī (“Queen of Queens, Supreme Ruler”), is one of the group of ten goddesses of Hindu belief, collectively called Mahavidyas. She is the highest aspect of Goddess Parvati.

As Shodashi, Tripurasundari is represented as a sixteen-year-old girl, and is believed to embody sixteen types of desire. Shodashi also refers to the sixteen syllable mantra, which consists of the fifteen syllable (panchadasakshari) mantra plus a final seed syllable. The Shodashi Tantra refers to Shodashi as the “Beauty of the Three Cities,” or Tripurasundari.[2]

Tripurasundari is the primary goddess associated with the Shakta Tantric tradition known as Sri Vidya.The Goddess Who is “Beautiful in the Three Worlds” (Supreme Deity of Srikula systems); the “Moksha Mukuta”.

‘Tripura’ means ‘the three cities,’ and ‘sundarī’ means ‘beautiful,’ specifically a beautiful female. Therefore, her name means ‘Beautiful (Goddess) of the Three Cities’. Tripura is often popularly translated as ‘the three worlds;’ however, this is an incorrect translation of the original Sanskrit.

The ‘three cities’ esoterically refers to a variety of interpretive doctrines, but commonly refers to the triple form of the goddess as found in the triadic doctrine of Shaktism. According to Bhaskararaya‘s commentary of the Tripura Upaniṣad:

There are three forms of deity: physical (sthūla), subtle (sūkṣma) and supreme (parā). Now the first [physical anthropomorphic form of the deity] is described in its respective meditative verses (dhyānaśloka); the second [subtle form] consists of the [particular deity’s] respective root-mantra (mūlamantra); the third [supreme or transcendent form] consists of contemplative worship [of the deity’s yantra]. Because deities are threefold in form, contemplative worship (upāsti) is divided threefold respectively into external sacrifice (bahiryāga) [performed primarily to the physical form of the deity], silent repetition (japa) [on the subtle form root-mantra] and internal sacrifice (antaryāga) [in the form of contemplative worship (upāsti) of the yantra].[3]
Even though the bindu cakra [the “drop” in the center of the śrīcakra, is only one point] it has a threefold nature… The three deities created [and] not different from [her supreme] peaceful (śānta) [aspect] are [the three creative powers,namely,] Icchāśakti, Jñānaśakti, and Kriyāśakti. The female deities named Vāmā, Jyeṣṭhā, and Raudrī [identified with the three śaktis are complemented] by the three [male consort] forms of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Rudra which are not different creations from [her all-subsuming aspect called] Ambikā.[4]

Icchāśakti is literally the ‘power of will,’ Jñānaśakti is the ‘power of knowledge,’ and Kriyāśakti is the ‘power of action.’

Brooks further notes:

The traditional interpretation of Tripurā’s name in Tantric soteriology involves a rather technical discussion of different levels of spiritual insight and worldly accomplishment, the fate of the individual soul (ātman) in the karmic process, and the concepts of external (bahir-) and internal sacrifice (antaryāga).[5]

Tripura also refers to the Śrīcakra, the yantra that represents the highest vibrational form of Tripurasundari, according to the commentator on the sutra of Gauḍapādā.[6] Bhaskararaya notes in his commentary on Tripura Upaniṣad that the śrīcakra, composed of nine interlocking triangles, is triple in nature.

Tripurasundari is described as being of dusky, red, or golden in color, depending on the meditational form, and in union with Shiva. The couple are traditionally portrayed on a bed, a throne, or a pedestal that is upheld by Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Ishana(another form of Shiva, depicted in the Tantras) and Sadashiva forming the plank. She holds five arrows of flowers, a noose, a goad and a sugarcane as a bow. The noose represents attachment, the goad represents repulsion, the sugarcane bow represents the mind and the arrows are the five sense objects.

Bala Tripurasundari is another form of Tripurasundari, depicted as an independent young pre pubescent goddess who is 9 years of age, also known as a kumari. She is said to be the daughter of Lalita Maha Tripurasundari. Bala Tripurasundari’s mantra and yantra differs completely from that of Maha Tripurasundari. The only Temple of Bala Tripurasundari Bhagawati is located at Tripurakot of Dolpa district of Nepal where Adhi Shankaracharya had prayed and worshipped due to renowned exaltation of Bala Tripurasundari Bhagawati Temple. Tripurasundari is also worshipped as the Sri Yantra, which is considered by practitioners of Sri Vidya to be a more true representation of the goddess.

Tripurasundari combines in her being Kali‘s determination and Durga’s charm, grace, and complexion. She has a third eye on her forehead. Usually four-armed and clad in red, the richly bejeweled Tripurasundari sits on a lotus seat laid on a golden throne. An aura of royalty characterizes her overall bearing and ambiance.

The Indian state of Tripura derives its name from the goddess Tripura Sundari. Her main temple, the Tripura Sundari temple is also located on top of the hills near Radhakishorepur village, a little distance away from Udaipur town.

Kashmiri Pandits have a collection of five ancient hymns, collectively known as Panchastavi, that were composed ages ago in praise of Tripura Sundari. These ancient hymns still remain very popular among this community. Panchastavi was translated into Kashmiri by the renowned Kashmiri scholar, Pandit Jia Lal Saraf, which it remains popular among Kashmiris to this day.

Sri Ramakrishna worshipped his wife Ma Sarada Devi as Tripura Sundari during their lives.

In West Bengal, there is a temple of Ma Tripura Sundari Devi located in Boral, near Garia.

The Animal Correspondence: Sparrow, Dove & Swan

white-doveThe birds being view of the legend that whosoever wore Aphrodite’s girdle became an object of universal love and desire. In ancient Greek myth, it was the Dove was the bird of Athena which represented the renewal of life. There is also Aphrodite (Venus in Roman myth), the voluptuous goddess-mother of love, which is often featured with a dove nearby in artistic portrait. Here we get the sense of higher love; a love that is as large as the goddess herself. The dove is a companion of Ishtar too, the Great Mother of Assyrian culture. In this motherly light, the dove elicits a promise of hope and salvation.A kind of love that turns a blind eye to the typical foibles and downfalls of mankind – and sees right into the heart of pure potential that is revealed only by viewing the soul through the lenses of love. As a love symbol, the dove conveys a kind of soulful ascension – a higher admiration for the true value of unconditional love. In Pagan religions, the Dove has been widely understood as a symbol of conjugal affection and fidelity, because of the affectionate mating habits of the species popularly known as turtledoves. In China, Doves are symbolic of good digestion, marital duty, and long life. Doves are sacred to all Great Mothers and Queens of Heaven and depict femininity and maternity; often two Doves accompany the Mother Goddess. The dove has seemingly inexhaustible sources of symbolic flavor throughout most histories, cultures and myth. It is interesting to know that Doves often cease their foraging for food just before their babies are born. This temporary starvation insures a pure formulation of milk (otherwise their offspring could not digest bits of solid food in the milk). That’s another confirmation about maternal attributes as well as self-sacrifice for the sake of their progeny.Very few people knows that doves produce their own milk; its called “crop milk” or “pigeons milk.” It’s an oddity in nature for birds to produce their own milk to feed their young. From this unique ability, we can glean symbolism of nurturing. In fact, doves are commonly considered a symbol of motherhood. The dove is commonly seen in Christian art with Mary as a symbol of care, devotion, purity and peace.

Swans are waterfowl, closely connected with water, even nesting near the water. Water is symbolic of concepts such as Fluidity, Intuition, Dreaming, Emotions, Creativity. In this respect, we can intuit the swan’s appearance in our lives as an arrow pointing to our dreamier depths and feelings. Furthermore, we get the sense of balance from swan meaning as it lives harmoniously amongst three of the four Aristotelian elements. Grounding herself on earth, lofting to great heights in the air, and winding through waters with magnificent elegance. In Greek tradition, the Swan is the symbol of the Muses. The swan also has erotic connotations – Zeus seduced Leda in the form of a swan, and Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, had a swan-drawn chariot. The swan, as a symbol of music, is also dedicated to Apollo, who was said to transform into a swan. Socrates wrote that the swan sung it’s most beautiful song just before it died, leaving us with the phrase “swan song”. The constellation Cygnus, depicts a swan sailing down the Milky Way. The Norse Valkyries often take the shape of swans and they fly, singing, through the air. According to Jamie Sams and David Carson, who collected Native American tales from elders in the Choctaw, Lakota, Seneca, Aztec, Yaqui, Cheyenne, Cherokee, Iroquois, and Mayan traditions, Swans represented “Grace”. According to Ted Andrews, in his book Animal-Speak, “The swan is one of the most powerful and ancient of totems. It is one of the oldest names in the English language and has come down unchanged since Anglo Saxon times.”[12] In Britain, Mute Swans are the property of the Crown. The Crown may grant “royalties” or ownership rights to companies or individuals, where they mark their swan’s bills during the ceremony of “swan-upping”. Boat builders used swans as figureheads to bring good luck. The swan is a totem of beauty and grace. As in the story of the Ugly Duckling, it connotes inner beauty as well. If Swan is your totem animal, you are emotionally sensitive, and empathic towards the feelings of others, and you draw people to you. The pure white swan is a solar symbol, whereas the Australian Black Swan is a nocturnal symbol. The swan, with its long neck, acts as a bridge between the worlds, making it an oracular bird. Being a cool weather bird, its direction is North. Swans are excellent totems for children, those connected to the Fairy Realm, poets, bards, mystics, and dreamers.[13]

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[12] Ted Andrews, Animal-Speak, p.195

[13] Ted Andrews, Animal Speak, p. 196

The Magical Tool Correspondence: The Girdle or Belt

girdleA girdle is a garment that encircles the lower torso, perhaps extending below the hips, and worn often for support. The word girdle originally meant a belt. In modern English, the term girdle is most commonly used for a form of women’s foundation wear that replaced the corset in popularity. In sports, a girdle may be similar to compression shorts. Historically and in anthropology, the girdle can be a scanty belt-shaped textile for men and/or women, worn on its own, not holding a larger garment in place, and less revealing than the loin-cloth, as was used by Minoan pugilists. In literature, girdles are often portrayed as magical, giving power and strength if worn by men, and protection if worn by women. Several scriptures in the Bible make use of the girdle as a symbol for readiness and preparation. Ishtar, a Babylonian Goddess, wore a fertility girdle, which, when it was removed, rendered the Universe barren. Hercules wrestled with the Amazon queen for her girdle in his Greek myth. Aphrodite, or Venus in Roman mythology, also wore girdles associated with lechery in later poetry.[14] For men a girdle was often used to hold weapons. It also gave them freedom to move in a fight, unlike other types of clothing. Both of these are thought to carry the connection of power to the man’s girdle in literature. For example, Odysseus wears a girdle which allows him to swim for three days straight, and a girdle worn by Thor doubles his strength.[15] Later on, for women, the girdle became a sign of virginity, and was often considered to have magical properties. Monsters and all types of evil are recorded as being subdued by girdles in literature, a famous one being the dragon slain by Saint George. Marriage ceremonies continued this tradition of girdles symbolizing virginity by having the husband take the wife’s girdle, and prostitutes were forbidden to wear them by law in historic France. Often in literature, women are portrayed as safe from sexual or other attack when wearing a girdle, but suddenly vulnerable if it is missing or stolen. Non-clothing uses in literature include Tolkien‘s “Girdle of Melian”, a magical, protective “wall” surrounding an elven kingdom, and the metaphorical “girdle of righteousness” mentioned in the Bible, representing righteousness as a protection as well as something to be worn constantly.

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[14]Friedman, Albert B., and Richard H. Osberg. “Gawain’s Girdle as Traditional Symbol.” The Journal of American Folklore 90.357 (1977): 301-15

[15]Friedman, Albert B., and Richard H. Osberg. “Gawain’s Girdle as Traditional Symbol.” The Journal of American Folklore 90.357 (1977): 301-15

The Color Correspondence: the Emerald Green

Pantone_Emerald_Green_color_of_2013_275_274The color correspondence for path number fourteen, Daleth, are green and emerald green. An emerald color is a shade of green that is particularly light and bright, with a faint bluish cast. The name derives from the typical appearance of the gemstone emerald. Emerald green represents immortality.   In gemology,color is divided into three components: hue, saturation and tone.[7] Emeralds occur in hues ranging from yellow-green to blue-green, with the primary hue necessarily being green. Yellow and blue are the normal secondary hues found in emeralds. Only gems that are medium to dark in tone are considered emerald; light-toned gems are known instead by the species name green beryl. The finest emerald are approximately 75% tone on a scale where 0% tone would be colorless and 100% would be opaque black. In addition, a fine stone should be well saturated; the hue of an emerald should be bright (vivid). Gray is the normal saturation modifier or mask found in emerald; a grayish-green hue is a dull green hue.[5]   Emeralds are green by definition (the name is derived from the Greek word “smaragdus”, meaning green).[8] Emeralds are the green variety of beryl, a mineral which comes in many other colors that are sometimes also used as gems, such as blue aquamarine, yellow heliodor, pink morganite, red red beryl or bixbite, not to be confused with bixbyite, and colorless goshenite.[9]

The Jewel Correspondence: the Emerald and Turquoise

emeraldThe jewels correspondence for Daleth, path number fourteen, are the emerald and turquoise. The emerald is the sacred stone of the goddess Venus. Emerald is regarded as the traditional birthstone for May, as well as the traditional gemstone for the astrological signs of Taurus, Cancer and sometimes Gemini.It was thought to preserve love. The emerald has long been the symbol of hope. It is considered by many to be the stone of prophecy. For some the emerald acts as a tranquilizer for a troubled mind. The emerald is said to bring the wearer reason and wisdom. The strongest time for the powers of the emerald is said to be spring. Lucky for love, give your lover an emerald to stay faithful. In several cultures the emerald was the symbol for fertilizing rain. In the Christian faith it is the symbol of faith and hope. The word “Emerald” is derived (via Old French: Esmeraude and Middle English: Emeraude), from Vulgar Latin: Esmaralda/Esmaraldus, a variant of Latin Smaragdus, which originated in Greek: σμάραγδος (smaragdos; “green gem”); its original source being either the Hebrew word אזמרגד izmargad meaning “emerald” or “green”[3] or the Sanskrit word मरकतmarakata meaning “emerald.” The name could also be related to the Semitic word baraq (בָּרָק ;البُراق; “lightning” or “shine”) (cf. Hebrew: ברקת bareqeth and Arabic: برق barq “lightning”). The proper name for the emerald is beryl, but there are different colors of beryl. Emerald green is the color as well as the stone. Most emeralds have inclusions (bubbles) in them. If the stone has too much blue in it, it is then an aquamarine. Pink beryl is Morganite, yellow beryl is golden beryl, yellow-green beryl is heliodor. There is also a rare red beryl. The best beryl comes from Colombia and Brazil. Emerald can also be found in India, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. An emerald of the right shade of green can be more valuable than a diamond. Emerald is used by healers to help heal the heart. The power of the Emerald is highest at the full moon. Some cultures thought the emerald would heal any disease of the eye. The emerald would be placed in a container of water overnight and the water would be poured on the eyes the next day. Emerald is a stone of great harmony, wisdom and love. Giving your lover an Emerald will bring the lover closer if the giver’s motives are pure love. It is said that The Emerald vibrates with love and that it can be a bridge between 2 people.

The second precious stone associated to this path, Turquoise, is an opaque, blue-to-green mineral that is a hydrous phosphate of copper and aluminium. It is rare and valuable in finer grades and has been prized as a gem and ornamental stone for thousands of years owing to its unique hue. In recent times, turquoise, like most other opaque gems, has been devalued by the introduction of treatments, imitations, and synthetics onto the market. The substance has been known by many names, but the word turquoise, which dates to the 16th century, is derived from an Old French word for “Turkish”, because the mineral was first brought to Europe from Turkey, from the mines in historical Khorasan Province of Persia.[16] Pliny referred to the mineral as callais, the Iranians named it “pirouzeh” and the Aztecs knew it as chalchihuitl.[17] Turquoise has long been prized by Native Americans and holds strong symbolism for their peoples. It has steadily gained in popularity with the spread of Native American culture across the United States. Turquoise will fade in sunlight, and can be affected by sweat, oil, and dishwater. It should never be exposed to chlorine bleach or similar products. In folklore, the Native Americans associated the colors of the turquoise stone with the blue sky and the green earth. It is still seen by many today as being symbolic of mankind’s source (spirit / sky), and believed to impart wisdom. In many cultures of the Old and New Worlds, this gemstone has been esteemed for thousands of years as a holy stone, a bringer of good fortune or a talisman. It really does have the right to be called a ‘gemstone of the peoples’. The oldest evidence for this claim was found in Ancient Egypt, where grave furnishings with turquoise inlay were discovered, dating from approximately 3000 BC. In the ancient Persian Empire, the sky-blue gemstones were earlier worn round the neck or wrist as protection against unnatural death. If they changed colour, the wearer was thought to have reason to fear the approach of doom. Meanwhile, it has been discovered that the turquoise certainly can change colour, but that this is not necessarily a sign of impending danger. The change can be caused by the light, or by a chemical reaction brought about by cosmetics, dust or the acidity of the skin.

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[16]Palache, C., H. Berman, and C. Frondel (1951) Dana’s System of Mineralogy, Wiley, 7th ed., vol. II, pp. 946-951

[17]Palache, C., H. Berman, and C. Frondel (1951) Dana’s System of Mineralogy, Wiley, 7th ed., vol. II, pp. 946-951

The Perfume Correspondence: Sandalwood and Myrtle

Sandalwood

Santalum_paniculatumSandalwood is the name of a class of fragrant woods from trees in the genus Santalum. The woods are heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and unlike many other aromatic woods they retain their fragrance for decades. As well as using the harvested and cut wood in-situ, essential oils are also extracted from the woods for use. Both the wood and the oil produce a distinctive fragrance that has been highly valued for centuries.[18]

Sandalwood paste is integral to rituals and ceremonies, to mark religious utensils and to decorate the icons of the deities. It is also distributed to devotees, who apply it to the forehead or the neck and chest. Preparation of the paste is a duty fit only for the pure, and is therefore entrusted in temples and during ceremonies only to priests. Sandalwood is considered in alternative medicine to bring one closer to the divine. It gives a cool soothing effect to the body thus reducing the body heat. In Thirupathi after religious tonsure, Sandal paste is applied to protect the skin. Sandalwood essential oil is used for Ayurvedic purposes and treating anxiety. Sandalwood is considered to be of the padma (lotus) group and attributed to Amitabha Buddha. Sandalwood scent is believed to transform one’s desires and maintain a person’s alertness while in meditation. Sandalwood is also one of the more popular scents used for incense used when offering incense to the Buddha.

In sufi tradition, sandalwood paste is applied on the sufi’s grave by the disciples as a mark of devotion. It is practiced particularly among the Indian Subcontinent disciples. In some places, sandalwood powder is burnt in Dargah for fragrance. In some parts of India during the Milad un Nabi in the early 19th century, the residents applied sandalwood paste on the decorated Buraq and the symbols of footprints of the Prophet Mohammed. In some places of India during an epidemic, South Indian devotees of Abdul-Qadir Gilani (also known as pir anay pir) commonly prepared an imprint of a hand with sandalwood paste and parade along the bylines, which they believed would cause the epidemic to vanish and the sick to be healed. In the Tamil culture irrespective of religious identity, sandalwood paste or powder is applied to the graves of sufis as a mark of devotion and respect.[5]

Sandalwood, along with agarwood, is the most commonly used incense material by the Chinese and Japanese in worship and various ceremonies. It is used in Indian incense, religiously or otherwise. Zoroastrians offer sandalwood twigs to the firekeeping priests who offer the sandalwood to the fire which keep the fire burning. Sandalwood is offered to all of the three grades of fire in the Fire temple, including the Atash Dadgahs. Sandalwood is not offered to the divo, a homemade lamp. Often, money is offered to the mobad along with the sandalwood. Sandalwood is called sukhar in the Zoroastrian community. The sandalwood in the fire temple is often more expensive to buy than at a Zoroastrian store. It is often a source of income for the fire temple.

Sandalwood essential oil was popular in medicine up to 1920–1930, mostly as a urogenital (internal) and skin (external) antiseptic. Its main component, santalol (about 75%), has antimicrobial properties. It is used in aromatherapy and to prepare soaps. Due to this antimicrobial activity, it can be used to clear skin from blackheads and spots, but it must always be properly diluted with a carrier oil. Because of its strength, sandalwood oil should never be applied to the skin without being diluted in a carrier oil.

Myrtle

Myrtus_communisThe Myrtaceae or the Myrtle family is a family of dicotyledon plants, placed within the order Myrtales. Myrtle, clove, guava, feijoa, allspice, and eucalyptus belong here. All species are woody, with essential oils, and flower parts in multiples of four or five. One notable character of the family is that the phloem is located on both sides of the xylem, not just outside as in most other plants. The leaves are evergreen, alternate to mostly opposite, simple, and usually with an entire (not toothed) margin. The flowers have a base number of five petals, though in several genera the petals are minute or absent. The stamens are usually very conspicuous, brightly coloured and numerous.

Cultivation

Myrtus communis, the Common Myrtle, is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant for use as a shrub in gardens and parks. It is often used as a hedge plant, with its small leaves shearing cleanly.

When trimmed less frequently, it has numerous flowers in late summer. It requires a long hot summer to produce its flowers, and protection from winter frosts.

The species and the subspecies M. communis subsp. tarentina have gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit.[2][3]

Culinary

Myrtus communis, the Common Myrtle, is used in the islands of Sardinia and Corsica to produce an aromatic liqueur called Mirto by macerating it in alcohol. Mirto is one of the most typical drinks of Sardinia and comes in two varieties: mirto rosso (red) produced by macerating the berries, and mirto bianco (white) produced from the less common yellow berries and sometimes the leaves.[4]

Medicinal

Myrtle occupies a prominent place in the writings of Hippocrates, Pliny, Dioscorides, Galen, and the Arabian writers.[5]

In several countries, particularly in Europe and China, there has been a tradition for prescribing this substance for sinus infections. A systematic review of herbal medicines used for the treatment of rhinosinusitis concluded that the evidence that any herbal medicines are beneficial in the treatment of rhinosinusitis is limited, and that for Myrtus there is insufficient data to verify the significance of clinical results.[6]

Classical Myths and Rituals

In Greek mythology and ritual the myrtle was sacred to the goddesses Aphrodite[7] and also Demeter: Artemidorus asserts that in interpreting dreams “a myrtle garland signifies the same as an olive garland, except that it is especially auspicious for farmers because of Demeter and for women because of Aphrodite. For the plant is sacred to both goddesses.”[8] Pausanias explains that one of the Graces in the sanctuary at Elis holds a myrtle branch because “the rose and the myrtle are sacred to Aphrodite and connected with the story of Adonis, while the Graces are of all deities the nearest related to Aphrodite.” Myrtle is the garland of Iacchus, according to Aristophanes,[9] and of the victors at the Theban Iolaea, held in honour of the Theban hero Iolaus.[10]

In Rome, Virgil explains that “the poplar is most dear to Alcides, the vine to Bacchus, the myrtle to lovely Venus, and his own laurel to Phoebus.”[11] At the Veneralia, women bathed wearing crowns woven of myrtle branches, and myrtle was used in wedding rituals. In the Aeneid, myrtle marks the grave of the murdered Polydorus in Thrace. Aeneus’ attempts to uproot the shrub cause the ground to bleed, and the voice of his dead brother warns him to leave. The spears which impaled Polydorus have been magically transformed into the myrtle which marks his grave.[12]

In the Mediterranean, myrtle was symbolic of love and immortality. In their culture the plant was used extensively and was considered an essential plant.

Jewish Myths and Rituals

In Jewish liturgy, it is one of the four sacred plants of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles representing the different types of personality making up the community – the myrtle having fragrance but not pleasant taste, represents those who have good deeds to their credit despite not having knowledge from Torah study. Three branches are held by the worshippers along with a citron, a palm leaf, and two willow branches. In Jewish mysticism, the myrtle represents the phallic, masculine force at work in the universe. For this reason myrtle branches were sometimes given the bridegroom as he entered the nuptial chamber after a wedding (Tos. Sotah 15:8; Ketubot 17a). Myrtles are both the symbol and scent of Eden (BhM II: 52; Sefer ha-Hezyonot 17). The Hechalot text Merkavah Rabbah requires one to suck on a myrtle leaves as an element of a theurgic ritual. Kabbalists link myrtle to the sefirah of Tiferet and use sprigs in their Shabbat (especially Havdalah) rites to draw down its harmonizing power as the week is initiated (Shab. 33a; Zohar Chadash, SoS, 64d; Sha’ar ha-Kavvanot, 2, pp. 73–76).[13]

Contemporary

In neo-pagan and wicca rituals, myrtle, though not indigenous beyond the Mediterranean Basin, is now commonly associated with and sacred to Beltane (May Day).

Myrtle in a wedding bouquet is a general European custom.[14] Crowns of myrtle are used in the Ukrainian wedding ceremony.

A sprig of myrtle from Queen Victoria‘s wedding bouquet was planted as a slip,[15] and sprigs from it have continually been included in royal wedding bouquets.

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[18]Consequently, the slow-growing trees have been overharvested in many areas.

The Flower Correspondence: Myrtle, Rose and Clover

The plant correspondence for Daleth, path number fourteen, is the flower myrtle and the rose.

roosseeA rose is a woody perennial of the genus Rosa, within the family Rosaceae. There are over 100 species. They form a group of erect shrubs, and climbing or trailing plants, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. Flowers are large and showy, in colours ranging from white through yellows and reds. In art of the renaissance, a rose with eight petals is a message of rebirth and renewal. In alchemical texts and art, a rose with seven petals is a symbol of inclusion, universal understanding and order. Presumably, because in Pythagorean numerology the number seven is iconic of the perfection in the specific unfolding the universe as well as human understanding. We see a partnership between the rose and numbers in Freemasonry too where three roses are symbolic of a guiding principle. Each of the three roses seen in Freemason symbology indicates abiding 1) Love, 2) Life, and 3) Light. The main reason why we se the rose as a correspondence for this path of the Tree of Life is because in Greek mythology the symbolism of the rose is associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who was often depicted adorned with roses around her head, feet and or neck. In lore, we track down this association when we discover that a rose bush grew within the pool of blood spilled from Aphrodite’s slain lover (Adonis). We can interpret the symbolism here several ways. The most common interpretation is that the rose symbolizes an immortal love or a union that will never fade – even through time or death. Similarly in Christian lore, a rose bush was said to have grown at the site of Christ’s death. His blood serving is often associated with a red rose, combined with its thorns is thus symbolized the ultimate sacrifice. In addition to being a symbol of love, the rose is also symbolic carrier of secrets or tacit understanding. The term “sub rosa” means under the rose and comes from the practice of Romans hanging roses above meeting tables. Here it was understood that anything said at this table, beneath the hanging roses, was forbidden to be repeated elsewhere. Seeking symbolic meaning of the rose from an esoteric perspective, we can look at the Tarot, in which the rose is considered a symbol of balance. Here the beauty of the rose expresses promise, new beginnings, hope. This beauty is contrasted with its thorns which represents defense, physicality, loss, thoughtlessness. The rose is seen in the major arcana as: Magician, Strength, Death and Fool cards. All of these cards hold strong meanings of balance and equilibrium.

The Drug Correspondence: Love Philtres

love---philtreA love philtre is a drink credited with a magical power that can make the one who takes it love the one who gave it. Love potions make a person fall in love (or become deeply infatuated) with another. The use of love-philtres is often depicted in lore, legends and litterature throughout history. In recent work of art, just to name a few, the love potion figures tragically into most versions of the tale of Tristan and Iseult, including Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde. The utilisation of those philtres in antiquity was no doubts “based on certain physiological principles and was probably first suggested by the observation of the behavior and habits of lower animals.”[19] The well known legend of Phaon tells the story of a man who has anointed himself with a salve given to him by Aphrodite which allowed him to attain a high state of desirability. In the same vein we have the “moon stones” and “star stones” reported in Apuleius’ Apologie that were supposed to enhance the seductive powers of the wearers.[20] This kind of generalized sex appeal, however, has proven to be comparatively un-appealing to those eager for love. To be loved indiscriminately, can comport some disadvantages in the long run, and that’s probably the reason why we find more and more concern in the magical corpus for the power of arousing passion either in a specific person or on a predetermined occasion. Hans Bächtold-Stäubli distinguished between the desire to obtain power over the will of another person (the wish to possess) and the desire to arose that person’ (the wish to be loved), both to be implemented through magical procedure.[21] William J. Fielding made the same distinction in terms of aphrodisiac stimulation in the first instance and sympathetic magic in the second.[22]

love-potionForemost among the agent of love probably because it is the least subtle, is the aphrodisiac, of considerable value to the male seeking conquest because it is capable not only of arousing a desire for sexual intercourse in the female of his choice but also of garanteeing to the seducer the ability to physiologically satisfy the desire.[23] The early Hebrew are said to have employed the fruit of the mandrake which were know under the suggestive name “love-apples” for this exact purpose. The popularity of the philtra or pocula amatoria, among the ancient Greek and Romans at a later period can readily be understood in an age given to sensuality in all its forms. Potions and drinks are associated with seduction in various ways. The boy who plies his girl with alcohol in order to relax her inhibitions is folowing a tradition of longstanding in the use of mandragora, hippomanes, and henbane for the same purpose. But it is one thing to relax somebody into a sexual relationship and another thing to make someone love you. That’s why when we talk about love-philtres, we’re not just bringning down inhibitions, abolishing the will to resist or even excite the senses, we talk about a drink that has been reserved by derivation and usage throughout Western history for “that which produces philia (affection, rapprochement, ‘true love’), not that which produces eros or aphrodisia (sexual appetite)”[24] And for this, stronger measures are required. One of the person who brought the old techniques of love magic at another level, the one that have started this whole business of love-potion is the Greek mythological character Medea,[25] who was considered as the greatest adept in the art of preparing philtre, and from whom we have the term “medei de harbae” that is commonly used by Horace and Ovide to designate the substance generaly related to this kind of magic. Medeia was the daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis, niece of Circe, granddaughter of the sun god Helios, and later wife to the hero Jason, with whom she had two children, Mermeros and Pheres. In Euripides‘s play Medea, Jason leaves Medea when Creon, king of Corinth, offers him his daughter, Glauce. The play tells about how Medea avenges her husband’s betrayal. ……… This is the course of event that is commonly designated as the myth of Jason and Medeia.[26] As a result, Medea is known in most stories as an enchantress and is often depicted as being a priestess of the goddess Hecate or some kind of Witch. Next in reputation we have the Thelassian women who were supposed to have acquired the art from Medea, and who were said to be versed in all the secrets relating to poison and sorcery. Lucretius, the great poet of the Ciceronian era, is said to hace written his poem “On the Nature of Things” in the intervals of delirium of a philtre that has been secretely administered to him by his wife Lucilia. Cornelius Nepos, Plutarch and other early writters also states that the love-philtres were often indeed nothing but a poison cup. The effects of these philtres were often dangerous and sometimes fatal which is not very surprising if we consider the nature of the substances that were used in their composition. They were generaly compounded with much mystery by the local old and wise women, who had a reputation for sorcery, and they usually observe the greatest secret as to their composition. As reported by the most authentic writers, whether they are occultists or anthropologists, those ingredients were both grotesque and filthy such as the hair that grew in the neether part of a wolf’s tail, the penis of a wolf, the brain of a cat, the brain of a lizard, a certain fish calle ‘remora’ and the bones of a green frog that have been left bare by ants. Young swallow were burried in the earth and after a time disterred. The bodies of thosee that were found with open bills were believed to provoke love, while those with close beaks were given to produce the opposite effect.[27] The testicles of certain animals were employed, selected doubtless for physiological reasons, and the menstrual blood, especially of that a red-haired woman, were highly esteemed and were believed to produce powerful effects. In the Anglo-Saxon Leechdoms, an ointment composed of goat gall, incence, goat’s dung and nettle seeds are recomemded as an application to promote passion. Another substance highly esteemed as an ingredient in love-philtre is the mysterious hippomanes, which is decribed as growth found on the forehead of a newly born foal, to which Ovid alludes.[28] Among primitive people the love-philtre is still in vogue and Mr. P.A. Talbot found it generaly used among the tribes in southern Nigeria, through which he travelled, especially among the mysterious race called the Ibibios who lives in the Eket district of the country. “It is a custom” he states, “for a love-potion to be given by men and women to gain the heart of those whom they desire, or to wreest affection from rivals.”[29]

Love-philtre

Love philtres and charms are used also in the Eastern nations, and it may be interesting to know that even today the Hindus still employ mango, champac, jasmine, lotus and asoka for this purpose. According to Albertus Magnus,[30] the most powerful herb for provoking love is the ”Provinca,” the secret of which, he says, have been handed down by the Chaldeans. The Greek called this plant Vorax. This is probably the same plant now know to the Sicilian as “Pizzu’ngurdu” to which they attributes remarkable properties. They believe that if given surreptitiously it will provoke an ardent passion in the heart of the coldest and most chastee women. The Sicilians also have great faith in the power of hemp to secure the affection of those on who they set their heart, and they gather this plant with certain ceremonies. In the fifteenth century Thomas Ebendorfer von Haselbach warned against the use of clothing, hair, finger nails or herbs “in order to procure the love of others”. [31] His warning was neither heeded nor inclusive: far more common that the objects he mentioned for the mixing of potion are the blood, perspiration, urine, pubic hair, semen, or menstrual blood of the individual seeking to win by this means the philia of another. Reginald Scot mentions that wolf’s penis was an ingredient in the love philtre of his time and Frommaun mentions human skulls, coral, verbena, urine and leopard’s dung. The mandrake root that was a common ingredient in love-philtre, in ancient time, is still worn in some part of France as a charm for that purpose, and in Germany a belief in the power of the endive seed to influence the affections still exists. In Italy basil was commonly used to inflame the heart of the indifferent, and a young ma who accepted a sprig of this plant from the hand of a maiden was sure to be inspired with love for her. Satyrion is another herb which is claimed to possess amatory properties, while other species of orchis, when eaten fresh, was believed to inspire pure love, and when dried was employed to check illicit passion. Of other plant employed in the composition of love-philtre, mention should be made of the cyrlamen, carrot, purslane, cummin, maiden hair, valerian, navelwort, wild poppy, anemone, crocus, periwinkle, pansy and the root of the male fern, which has an ancient reputation for inspiring the tender passion, although, curiously enough, its present use in medicine is as vermifuge.[32] Even men such as the early scientist Jan Baptist Van Helmont[33] believed in the efficacy of love philtres.[34] Such a philtron as a highly personalized ingestion garanteed not merely to stimulate sexual urgency (as does the aphrodisiac) or to place the beloved person in one’s power (as in the amuletic, verbal, or ritual charm), but to ensure his/her voluntary and enduring affection, lies behind the beliefs in the special properties of aphrodisiacal male-and-female-shaped roots and male-and-female-associated amuletic charms. Two legends from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries will illustrate the effects of such a philtre. In the first, a man who had developped an insatiable desire for the compagny of a young woman found sewn into his trousers a little bundle of pubic hair; when the hair was burned, the attraction disapeared.[35] In the second, the longing began after the young man was served an omelet in the girl’s home; he felt compelled to visit her at two and three weeks intervals until a counter-ritual released him.[36] In neither case was the attraction specifically erotic in nature, nor was the victim manipulated into any other kind of behavior which would aggrandize the fortune of the temptress. One conspicuous exeption to the distinctions thus drawn is that of nonvegetable hippomanes.   The herb of that name mentiones above as more soporific than aprhrodisiacal, had in classical time a reputation for being sexually stimulating to mares (hence its name). But the word is more generally applied to the caul from the head of a new-born foal, used as love-inspiring amuletic fetish, and to the sexual secretions of stallions and mares, obtained when the animal is in heat and administered, according to Virgil, by evil stepmothers who utter incantations while mixing the slime with herbs. Such a potion might be particularly effective as a philtre-cum-aphrodisiac, since it combines the fetish aspect of generative secretion like semen and menses with the possibility of erotic stimulation inherent in the association with the plant of the same name. On the other hand, it might be singularly ineffective on the ground that the essential ingredient in each case (the donor of the secretions, the pharmacological properties of the plant) is absent.

 

[19] C. J. S. Thompson, Poison Mysteries in History, Romance and Crime, p. 211.

[20] See Eleaonor Long, Aphrodisiacs, Charms and Philtres, in Western Folklore, Vol 32, No 3. July 1973, p. 154

[21] Eleaonor Long (1973), Aphrodisiacs, Charms and Philtres, in Western Folklore, Vol 32, No 3. July 1973, p. 155

[22] William J. Fielding (1945), Strange Supertitions and Magical Practices, p. 238-239.

[23] It is interesting to know that most of the items in Harry E. Wedeck’s Dictionary of Aphrodisiacs (New York, 1962) and other works in this kind are oriented more to male potency that to female concupiscence.

[24] Apuleius, Apologie, 101.

[25]Medea (Greek: Μήδεια, Mēdeia, Georgian: მედეა, Medea) is a woman in Greek mythology.

[26]The myth of Jason and Medea is very old, originally written around the time Hesiod wrote the Theogony. It was known to the composer of the Little Iliad, part of the Epic Cycle.

[27] C. J. S. Thompson, Poison Mysteries in History, Romance and Crime, p. 211-213.

[28] Ovid, the exponent of the amatory art, judging from some of his lines, was evidently not a believer of this method of procuring affection so much practised by his contemporaries. He writes: “Who so doth run to Haemon’s arts I dub him for a dolt, And giveth that which he doth pluck. From forehead of a colt, Medea’s herbs will not procure That love lasting give, No slibbersawces given to maids, To make them pale and wan Will help such slibbersawces mar the minds of maid and man, And have in them a furious force of phrensie now and then.”

[29] C. J. S. Thompson, Poison Mysteries in History, Romance and Crime, p. 216.

[30]Albertus Magnus, O.P. (1193/1206 – November 15, 1280), also known as Albert the Great and Albert of Cologne, is a Catholic saint. He was a German Dominican friar and a bishop, who achieved fame for his comprehensive knowledge of and advocacy for the peaceful coexistence of science and religion. Albertus’ writings collected in 1899 went to thirty-eight volumes. He was perhaps the most well-read author of his time.

[31] Apuleius, Apologie, 180.

[32] C. J. S. Thompson, Poison Mysteries in History, Romance and Crime, p. 215.

[33] Jan Baptist van Helmont (bapt. 12 January 1579 – 30 December 1644) was an early modern period Flemish chemist, physiologist, and physician. He worked during the years just after Paracelsus and iatrochemistry, and is sometimes considered to be “the founder of pneumatic chemistry” Van Helmont is remembered today largely for his ideas on spontaneous generation, his 5-year tree experiment, and his introduction of the word “gas” (from the Greek word chaos) into the vocabulary of scientists.

[34] Writing in the middle of the seventeenth century, Val Helmont says: “I know a plant of common occurrence which if you rub and cherish it in the hand till it become warm, and take the hand of another and hold it until it becomes warm, this person will forwith be stimulated with love for you and wil continue so for several days” (cited in C. J. S. Thompson, Poison Mysteries in History, Romance and Crime, p. 211-213.)

[35] John, G. Bourke, Scatological Rites of All Nations (Washington D.C., 1891) p. 219.

[36] See Eleaonor Long, Aphrodisiacs, Charms and Philtres, in Western Folklore, Vol 32, No 3. July 1973, p. 161.

 

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