October 23, 2019
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The General Description of the Path

beth--190x300This highway is known as the twelfth path, which joins Binah to Kether. It joins the fountain of form side of being, Binah, with the undifferentiated existence of Kether, wherein the polarity of form and life, negative and positive, and female and male are one. On this path “we are called to perform the supreme magical task of transforming matter into energy, form into substance, and mind into the root of the mind.”[1] The four elements of earth, water, fire, and air, after being ordered into a harmonious system of a working pattern, are now drawn up into the ineffable force of the Supreme. This path, denominated “the Transparent Intelligence,” partakes of both the nature of Chokmah and Hod, both of which are Mercurial. The alchemical conception of the universal Mercury was that of a flowing, shifting, and unstable principle, ever changing. This may account for the baboon or monkey ever in attendance upon Thoth, the human Ruach, which must be quited. Within the individual, this process means the recovery of a transpersonal essence of the constituent functions of personal consciousness. We pernetrate the mysterious core of the experience offered to us through sensation, emotion, thinking, and intuition. Supreme illumination of the mind takes place as the faculty of understanding, Binah, penetrates into the crowning consciousness of the godhead. Just as the noonday sun changes the water of the earth into vapour and thus draws this essence into itself, so on this path the supercelestial power of Kether draws unto itself the essence of the form side emanated being from the dark pillar of severity through Binah, its apex. The bodily assumption of the Divine Mother, in Christian dogma, is a concept closely allied to the upward travel on this path, since its symbolizes the upliftment and ultimate transformation of the form-and-birth-giving principle of creation. The dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, proclaimed by Pope Pius XII, was considered to be of crucial psychological importance for Christianity by Jung. Who hailed it as a sign of the new Aeon of Aquarius.[2]

Return – A word often used in the mystical concept of return is teshuvah.  It is a concept with many nuances.  A common interpretation is that of turning away from sin and a return to God.  A person who has sinned understands that he or she has sinned and wishes to return to righteous behaviour.  Teshuvah can also be interpreted as a return to the divine source.  This could be personal, a mystical ascent of the Tree.  It can also be general and universal, according to the formula of “run and return”. Each impulse of manifestation that forms in Kether is reified in Malkhut; its impact is distilled through consciousness and returned back to its source.  It has been said that “God wishes to know God”, and so all revealing into manifestation returns once more to the source.  The act of living consciously and morally achieves this purpose.  The closer we raise our consciousness to the source, the more we can return our experience of life.  This, more than anything, dignifies life, dignifies even the worst suffering, and permits us to find joy even in pain, illness and death. (Collin A. Low, The Hermetic Kabbalah, p. 332)

bethThe keynote of this path goes like this: “From the source of form to the essence of formlessness, the soul travels while conjoining the power of becoming with the nature of being. As understanding reaches into the heart of divinity, supreme illumination and boundless power become the experience of the soul.”[3] The magical motto for this path is a quote from H.P. Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine: “Hark… from the deep, unfathomable vortex of that golden light in which the Victor bathes, all nature’s wordless voice in thousand tones ariseth to proclaim: Joy unto Ye. O men of Myalba [Earth]. A Pilgrim hath returned back ‘from the other shore.’ A new Arhan [liberated one] is born. Peace to all Beings.”[4]

The meditation for path number twelve is the following: “Source of power, father of wisdom, fountain of the stream of life, I pay homage to thee! Thou art the wieler of the wand of power, the wise one, who ordereth the combinations of the elements of my being: be my guide! I need to be transformed, to be changed. From a child of darkness I want to be changed into a being of light. From a creature of impulse, I must become a being of elightened will. Transform me, O magical lord of my soul! Bring into my personality the flash of divine lightning, so that I may awaken to the consciousness of the authentic nature. I was a man; now I shall be a god. I was of the earth; now I join the stars. Hail to thee, sun of the firmament of my soul! I am thy light, I am thy love, thy wisdom and thy power!”[5]


[1] Stephen, A. Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage, Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p. 60.

[2] Stephen, A. Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage, Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p. 60-61.

[3] Stephen, A. Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage, Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p. 113.

[4] H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, p.? Cited in Stephen, A. Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage, Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p. 113.

[5] Stephen, A. Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage, Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p. 113.

The Hebrew Letter Correspondence: Beth

beth----------------This is the second letter of alphabet. The Path number Twelve, joining Kether to Binah. His numerical value is 2. “B” is a sound of internal activity, developing within a space closed is beth, translated by a “house.” It is useful here to refer to an important point of Hebrew grammar. The sounds of certain of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet become changed when a dot, called the dôgesh, is placed within those letters. The letter “B” becomes changed to “V,” when the dot in the middle is ommited, thus TT.[6]


[6] Israel Regardie tells us that « It is imperative that this little detail be remembered as it assumes great importance in later research work, it being highly learned Qabalist have been hampered in a most extraordinary manner by this and similar facts having been omitted from his elementary Qabalistic training.” (Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 69.)


 The Tarot Trump Correspondence: The Magician

the-magicianThe tarot card for the second path of the Tree of Life (Beth) is I – The Magician. The illustration on the card depicts a caped character who stands by a table on which are various magical implements, his sword, cup, pantacle, and scepter, while in his right hand he holds an upraised wand. He points to the ground with his left hand, thus affirming the magical formula that “which is above is like unto that which is below.” Above his head, as an aureole or nimbus, is ∞, the mathematical sign of infinity. Since Mercury and Thoth are the gods of wisdom and magick, it is plain that this card is a harmonious attribution. According to Arthur Edward Waite, this card signifies the divine motive in man. It is also the unity of the individual being on all planes, and in a very high sense it is thought. With further reference to the “sign of life”, i.e. the infinity symbol and its connection with the number 8, it may be remembered that Christian Gnosticism speaks of rebirth in Christ as a change “unto the Ogdoad.” The mystic number is termed Jerusalem above, the Land flowing with Milk and Honey, the Holy Spirit and the Land of the Lord. According to Martinism, 8 is the number of Christ. In other traditions this card can refer to scholarly knowledge. The Fool (card 0) has learned something about the workings of the world and now sees himself as powerful. Perhaps the reputation of the Magician is derived from the Fool misunderstanding what is happening while the High Priestess (the next card) is looking back, thinking that the Magician is missing the point of spiritual knowledge. The Magician is the archetype of the active, masculine principle – the ultimate achiever. He symbolizes the power to tap universal forces and use them for creative purposes. Note his stance in the picture. He acts as a lightening rod – one arm extended up into the Divine for inspiration, the other pointing toward Earth to ground this potent energy. His abilities appear magical at times because his will helps him achieve what seem to be miracles. What makes the Magician so powerful? First, he is not afraid to act. He believes in himself and is willing to put that belief on the line. He also knows what he intends to do and why. He doesn’t hesitate because he understands his situation exactly. The Magician can focus with single-minded determination. As long as he remembers the divine source of his power, the Magician remains the perfect conduit for miracles. In a reading, the Magician implies that the primal forces of creativity are yours if you can claim your power and act with awareness and concentration. This card is a signal to act and act now, provided you understand exactly what you want and are committed to getting it.

The Second Step of the Fool’s Pilgrimage

foooolOn setting out, the Fool immediately encounters the Magician which is (with and the High Priestess) the great balancing forces that make up the perceived world. It is a feature of the material universe that as soon as we name some aspect of experience, we automatically evoke its opposite.

The Magician is the positive side. He represents the active, masculine power of creative impulse. He is also our conscious awareness. The Magician is the force that allows us to impact the world through a concentration of individual will and power. The High Priestess is the negative side. She is the mysterious unconscious. She provides the fertile ground in which creative events occur. The High Priestess is our unrealized potential waiting for an active principle to bring it to expression.

The terms positive and negative do not imply “good” and “bad.” These are human distinctions that do not apply in the tarot. The Magician and the High Priestess are absolutely equal in value and importance. Each is necessary for balance. We may view the negative as our Shadow, but without shadows, we cannot see the light, and without a ground of potential, we cannot create.



The Astrological Correspondence: Mercury

mercuryyMercury is the smallest and closest to the Sun of the eight planets in the Solar System,[a] with an orbital period of about 88 Earth days. Seen from Earth, it appears to move around its orbit in about 116 days, which is much faster than any other planet. This rapid motion may have led to it being named after the Roman deity Mercury, the fast-flying messenger to the gods. Because it has almost no atmosphere to retain heat, Mercury’s surface experiences the greatest temperature variation of all the planets, ranging from 100 K (−173 °C; −280 °F) at night to 700 K (427 °C; 800 °F) during the day at some equatorial regions. The poles are constantly below 180 K (−93 °C; −136 °F). Mercury’s axis has the smallest tilt of any of the Solar System’s planets (about 130 of a degree), but it has the largest orbital eccentricity.[a] As such it does not experience seasons in the same way as most other planets such as Earth. At aphelion, Mercury is about 1.5 times as far from the Sun as it is at perihelion. Mercury’s surface is heavily cratered and similar in appearance to the Moon, indicating that it has been geologically inactive for billions of years.

Mercury is gravitationally locked and rotates in a way that is unique in the Solar System. As seen relative to the fixed stars, it rotates exactly three times for every two revolutions[b] it makes around its orbit.[13] As seen from the Sun, in a frame of reference that rotates with the orbital motion, it appears to rotate only once every two Mercurian years. An observer on Mercury would therefore see only one day every two years.

Because Mercury’s orbit lies within Earth’s orbit (as does Venus‘s), it can appear in Earth’s sky in the morning or the evening, but not in the middle of the night. Also, like Venus and the Moon, it displays a complete range of phases as it moves around its orbit relative to Earth. Although Mercury can appear as a very bright object when viewed from Earth, its proximity to the Sun makes it more difficult to see than Venus. Two spacecraft have visited Mercury: Mariner 10 flew by in the 1970s and MESSENGER, launched in 2004, remains in orbit.

The earliest known recorded observations of Mercury are from the Mul.Apin tablets. These observations were most likely made by an Assyrian astronomer around the 14th century BC.[96] The cuneiform name used to designate Mercury on the Mul.Apin tablets is transcribed as Udu.Idim.Gu\u4.Ud (“the jumping planet”).[f][97] Babylonian records of Mercury date back to the 1st millennium BC. The Babylonians called the planet Nabu after the messenger to the gods in their mythology.[98]

The ancient Greeks of Hesiod‘s time knew the planet as Στίλβων (Stilbon), meaning “the gleaming”, and Ἑρμάων (Hermaon).[99] Later Greeks called the planet Apollo when it was visible in the morning sky, and Hermes when visible in the evening. Around the 4th century BC, Greek astronomers came to understand that the two names referred to the same body, Hermes (Ἑρμής: Hermēs), a planetary name that is retained in modern Greek (Ερμής: Ermis).[100] The Romans named the planet after the swift-footed Roman messenger god, Mercury (Latin Mercurius), which they equated with the Greek Hermes, because it moves across the sky faster than any other planet.[101][102] The astronomical symbol for Mercury is a stylized version of Hermes’ caduceus.[103]

The Roman-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy wrote about the possibility of planetary transits across the face of the Sun in his work Planetary Hypotheses. He suggested that no transits had been observed either because planets such as Mercury were too small to see, or because the transits were too infrequent.[104]

In ancient China, Mercury was known as Chen Xing (辰星), the Hour Star. It was associated with the direction north and the phase of water in the Wu Xing.[105] Modern Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese cultures refer to the planet literally as the “water star” (水星), based on the Five elements.[106] Hindu mythology used the name Budha for Mercury, and this god was thought to preside over Wednesday.[107] The god Odin (or Woden) of Germanic paganism was associated with the planet Mercury and Wednesday.[108] The Maya may have represented Mercury as an owl (or possibly four owls; two for the morning aspect and two for the evening) that served as a messenger to the underworld.[109]

The ancient association of Mercury with Wednesday is still visible in the names of Wednesday in various modern languages of Latin descent, e.g. mercredi in French, miércoles in Spanish, or miercuri in Romanian. The names of the days of the week were, in classical times, all related to the names of the seven bodies that were then considered to be planets.[citation needed]

In ancient Indian astronomy, the Surya Siddhanta, an Indian astronomical text of the 5th century, estimates the diameter of Mercury as 4,841 kilometres (3,008 mi), an error of less than 1% from the currently accepted diameter of 4,880 kilometres (3,032 mi). This estimate was based upon an inaccurate guess of the planet’s angular diameter as 3.0 arcminutes (50 millidegrees).[citation needed]

In medieval Islamic astronomy, the Andalusian astronomer Abū Ishāq Ibrāhīm al-Zarqālī in the 11th century described the deferent of Mercury’s geocentric orbit as being oval, like an egg or a pignon, although this insight did not influence his astronomical theory or his astronomical calculations.[110][111] In the 12th century, Ibn Bajjah observed “two planets as black spots on the face of the Sun”, which was later suggested as the transit of Mercury and/or Venus by the Maragha astronomer Qotb al-Din Shirazi in the 13th century.[112] (Note that most such medieval reports of transits were later taken as observations of sunspots.[113])

In India, the Kerala school astronomer Nilakantha Somayaji in the 15th century developed a partially heliocentric planetary model in which Mercury orbits the Sun, which in turn orbits Earth, similar to the Tychonic system later proposed by Tycho Brahe in the late 16th century.[114]

The Greek Deity Correspondence: Hermes

hermes5Hermes (Greek: Ἑρμῆς) is an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia. He is second youngest of the Olympian gods.  The earliest form of the name Hermes is the Mycenaean Greek, *e-ma-a2 (e-ma-ha), written in the Linear B syllabic script.[6] Most scholars derive “Hermes” from Greek herma[7] (a stone, roadside shrine or boundary marker), dedicated to Hermes as a god of travelers and boundaries; the etymology of herma itself is unknown. “Hermes” may be related to Greek hermeneus (“the interpreter”), reflecting Hermes’s function as divine messenger.[8][9][10] Plato offers a Socratic folk-etymology for Hermes’s name, deriving it from the divine messenger’s reliance on eirein (the power of speech).[10] Scholarly speculation that “Hermes” derives from a more primitive form meaning “one cairn” is disputed.[9] The word “hermeneutics“, the study and theory of interpretation, is derived from hermeneus. In Greek a lucky find is a hermaion.   It is also suggested that Hermes is cognate of the Vedic Sarama.[11]   Hermes is a god of transitions and boundaries. He is quick and cunning, and moved freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, as emissary and messenger of the gods,[1] intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife. He is protector and patron of travelers, herdsmen, thieves,[2] orators and wit, literature and poets, athletics and sports, invention and trade.[3] In some myths he is a trickster, and outwits other gods for his own satisfaction or the sake of humankind. His attributes and symbols include the herma, the rooster and the tortoise, purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap, and his main symbol is the herald’s staff, the Greek kerykeion or Latin caduceus which consisted of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff.[4]   In the Roman adaptation of the Greek pantheon (see interpretatio romana), Hermes is identified with the Roman god Mercury,[5] who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of commerce.

Homer and Hesiod portrayed Hermes as the author of skilled or deceptive acts, and also as a benefactor of mortals. In the Iliad he was called “the bringer of good luck,” “guide and guardian” and “excellent in all the tricks.” He was a divine ally of the Greeks against the Trojans. However, he did protect Priam when he went to the Greek camp to retrieve the body of his son Hector, and he accompanies them back to Troy.[12]

Hermes stole Apollo’s cattle when he was born. He jumped out of his crib and hid the cattle. Just when Apollo realized, Hermes jumped back into his crib and pretended to be innocent. Apollo took Hermes by the scruff of the neck and took him to his father, Zeus. Apollo said he was unhappy with the way he was being treated. Instead of punishing young Hermes, Zeus just laughed and found the matter funny.

He also rescued Ares from a brazen vessel where he had been imprisoned by Otus and Ephialtes. In the Odyssey he helped his great-grand son, the protagonist, Odysseus, informing him about the fate of his companions, who were turned into animals by the power of Circe, and instructed him to protect himself by chewing a magic herb; he also told Calypso Zeus’ order for her to free the same hero from her island to continue his journey back home. When Odysseus killed the suitors of his wife, Hermes led their souls to Hades.[13] In The Works and Days, when Zeus ordered Hephaestus to create Pandora to disgrace humanity by punishing the act of Prometheus giving fire to man, every god gave her a gift, and Hermes’s gift was lies and seductive words, and a dubious character. Then he was instructed to take her as wife to Epimetheus.[14]

Aeschylus wrote in The Eumenides that Hermes helped Orestes kill Clytemnestra under a false identity and other stratagems,[2] and also said that he was the god of searches, and those who seek things lost or stolen.[15] In PhiloctetesSophocles invokes Hermes when Odysseus needs to convince Philoctetes to join the Trojan War on the side of the Greeks, and in Euripides‘ Rhesus Hermes helps Dolon spy on the Greek navy.[2]

Aesop featured him in several of his fables, as ruler of the gate of prophetic dreams, as the god of athletes, of edible roots, and of hospitality. He also said that Hermes had assigned each person his share of intelligence.[16]

The Homeric hymn to Hermes invokes him as the one “of many shifts (polytropos), blandly cunning, a robber, a cattle driver, a bringer of dreams, a watcher by night, a thief at the gates, one who was soon to show forth wonderful deeds among the deathless gods.”[17] Hermes, as an inventor of fire,[18] is a parallel of the Titan Prometheus. In addition to the lyre, Hermes was believed to have invented many types of racing and the sports of wrestling and boxing, and therefore was a patron of athletes.[19]

The Roman Deity Correspondence: Mercury

mmeerrrccuurrryyyThe Sepher Yetzirah states that the letter “B” reigns in wisdom.[7] Wisdom is naturally the god Hermes, so we can see that its planetary attribution, Mercury, follow as a logical consequence. In Greek mythology Hermes was close to the Roman god Mercury. Greeks perceived Hermes in many different lights. He was seen as the god of the twilight or of the wind. There are many speculations about Hermes and his actions, as well as controversy over his origin. However, it has become the popular consensus that “Hermes was a very ancient Pelasgian divinity, of Thracian origin, who was particularly honored by the sheperds of Arcadia and whose mission was to watch over their flocks and protect their huts”. Greeks followed this belief, and placed images at or around their doors to ward off invaders and thieves. Hermes had had many other titles to the Greeks. He was the god of travelers, the god of commerce, and was also the messenger of Zeus.[8] Hermes is often represented as an athlete. He was depicted as wearing very little except for a winged hat and winged sandals. He was the prankster of the gods; he stole sheep on the day of his birth as a prank to Apollo. As a gift to make up for the stolen sheep from Apollo, Hermes invented the first Lyre out of a tortoise shell, oxhide and some reeds.







[7] Sepher Yetzirah, p.?

[8] Hamlyn, Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology. London: Westbook House, 1959. p. 133-136.

The Egyptian Pantheon Correspondence: Thoth

thotthhhThoth, and his Cynocephalus, and Hanuman are included as correspondences. Thoth, from Greek, from Egyptian ḏḥwty, perhaps pronounced ḏiḥautī) was considered one of the more important deities of the Egyptian pantheon. In art, he was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat.[1] Thoth played many vital and prominent roles in Egyptian mythology, such as maintaining the universe, and being one of the two deities (the other being Ma’at, who was also his wife) who stood on either side of Ra’s boat.[9] In the later history of ancient Egypt, Thoth became heavily associated with the arbitration of godly disputes,[10] Thoth served as a mediating power, especially between good and evil, making sure neither had a decisive victory over the other.[11] In the underworld, Duat, he appeared as an ape, A’an, the god of equilibrium, who reported when the scales weighing the deceased’s heart against the feather, representing the principle of Ma’at, was exactly even.[12] Thoth is also credited with the invention of writing and alphabets (i.e. hieroglyphs) themselves.The Egyptians credited him as the author of all works of science,[13]religion, philosophy, and magic.[14] The Greeks further declared him the inventor of astronomy, astrology, the science of numbers, mathematics, geometry, land surveying, medicine, botany, theology, civilized government, the alphabet, reading, writing, and oratory. They further claimed he was the true author of every work of every branch of knowledge, human and divine. The ancient Egyptians regarded Thoth as One, self-begotten, and self-produced.[15] He was the master of both physical and moral (i.e. Divine) law, making proper use of Ma’at. He is credited with making the calculations for the establishment of the heavens, stars, Earth, and everything in them. Compare this to how his feminine counterpart, Ma’at was the force which maintained the Universe.[16] He is said to direct the motions of the heavenly bodies. Without his words, the Egyptians believed, the gods would not exist.[17] Thoth was inserted in many tales as the wise counsel and persuader, and his association with learning, and measurement, led him to be connected with Seshat, the earlier deification of wisdom, who was said to be his daughter, or variably his wife. Thoth’s qualities also led to him being identified by the Greeks with their closest matching god Hermes, with whom Thoth was eventually combined, as Hermes Trismegistus, also leading to the Greeks naming Thoth’s cult centre as Hermopolis, meaning city of Hermes.His power was unlimited in the Underworld and in the process the judgment of the dead[18] where he rivaled that of Ra and Osiris.[19]  It is also considered that Thoth was the scribe of the gods rather than a messenger. Anubis (or Hermanubis) was viewed as the messenger of the gods, as he travelled in and out of the Underworld and presented himself to the gods and to humans. It is more widely accepted that Thoth was a record keeper, not a divine messenger. In the Papyrus of Ani copy of the Egyptian Book of the Dead the scribe proclaims “I am thy writing palette, O Thoth, and I have brought unto thee thine ink-jar. I am not of those who work iniquity in their secret places; let not evil happen unto me.”[20] Chapter XXXb of the Book of the Dead is by the oldest tradition said to be the work of Thoth himself.[21]


[9]Budge The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 400.

[10]Budge The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 405.

[11]Budge Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 405 and p. 414

[12]Budge Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 403.

[13]Budge The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 414

[14] Manly P. Hall, The Hermetic Marriage p. 224

[15]Budge The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 401

[16]Budge Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 pp. 407–8

[17]Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1 p. 408

[18]Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, p. 403

[19]Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1 p. 401

[20]E.A Wallis Budge (1895), The Book of the Dead, reprinted 1999, Gramercy books, p.562

[21]E.A Wallis Budge (1895), The Book of the Dead, reprinted 1999, Gramercy books, p.282

The Scandinavian Pantheon Correspondence: Odin

Odin,_der_GöttervaterOdin (from Old Norse Óðinn) is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-SaxonWōden” and the Old High GermanWotan“, the name is descended from Proto-Germanic “*Wodanaz” or “*Wōđanaz”. “Odin” is generally accepted as the modern English form of the name, although, in some cases, older forms may be used or preferred. In the compound Wednesday, the first member is cognate to the genitive Odin’s. His name is related to ōðr, meaning “fury, excitation,” besides “mind,” or “poetry.” His role, like that of many of the Norse gods, is complex. Odin is a principal member of the Æsir (the major group of the Norse pantheon) and is associated with war, battle, victory and death, but also wisdom, magic, poetry, prophecy, and the hunt. This is obviously his propensions for wisdom, poetry, prophecy and magic that contribute the most make him an adequate correspondence for the twelvth path of the qabalistic Tree of Life, ans well as the Tarot card The Magician, the Egyptian God Thoth and his Greco-Roman equivalent Hermes/Mercury. Odin has many sons, the most famous of whom is Thor. He is the spirit of life who, according to the legends, does not create the world himself, but only plans and arranges it. By doing exactly that, we can say that he is accomplishing the exact task that a magician is supposed to perform, because he is actually bending the world to his will. As for the Egyptian Thoth, all knowledge issues from him, and he too is the inventor of poetry and the Norse runes. Parallels between Odin and Celtic Lugus[22] have often been pointed out: both are intellectual gods, commanding magic and poetry. Both have ravens and a spear as their attributes. Julius Caesar,[23] in his De Bello Gallico identified six gods worshipped in Gaul, by the usual conventions of interpretatio romana giving the names of their nearest Roman equivalents rather than their Gaulish names. He said that “Mercury” was the god most revered in Gaul, describing him as patron of trade and commerce, protector of travellers, and the inventor of all the arts.[24] The Irish god Lug bore the epithet samildánach (“skilled in all arts”), which has led to the widespread identification of Caesar’s Mercury as Lugus. Mercury’s importance is supported by the more than 400 inscriptions into him in Roman Gaul and Britain.[25] Such a blanket identification is optimistic – Jan de Vries[26] demonstrates the unreliability of any one-to-one concordance in the interpretatio romana[27] – but the available parallels are worth considering.


[22]Lugus was a deity of the Celtic pantheon. His name is rarely directly attested in inscriptions, but his importance can be inferred from placenames and ethnonyms, and his nature and attributes are deduced from the distinctive iconography of Gallo-Roman inscriptions to Mercury, who is widely believed to have been identified with Lugus, and from the quasi-mythological narratives involving his later cognates, Irish Lugh Lámhfhada (Lugh of the Long Arm) and Welsh Lleu Llaw Gyffes (Lleu of the Skillful Hand).

[23]Julius Caesar, de bello Gallico, 6.17.1.

[24]Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico 6.17

[25]Alexei Kondratiev, “Lugus: the Many-Gifted Lord”, An Tríbhís Mhór: The IMBAS Journal of Celtic Reconstructionism #1, 1997

[26] Jan de Vries, Celtisches Religion (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer) 1961, pp 40-56.

[27]Peter Buchholz, “Perspectives for Historical Research in Germanic Religion” History of Religions 8.2 (November 1968, pp. 111-138) p 120 and note.

The Magical Weapon Correspondence: The Caduceus

caduceusAs a consequence of its planetary attribution, Mercury, it is not surprising to see that his magical weapon is the Caduceus wand, which, as noted by Dr Israel Regardie,[28] has particular reference to the phenomenon of Kundalini[29] arising in the course of Yoga practices, particularly Dharana[30] and Pranayama.[31] The word caduceus comes from Greek κηρύκειον kērukeion “herald’s staff”[32] is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. In Roman iconography it was often depicted being carried in the left hand of Mercury, the messenger of the gods, guide of the dead and protector of merchants, shepherds, gamblers, liars and thieves.[33] As a symbolic object it represents Hermes (or the Roman Mercury), and by extension trades, occupations or undertakings associated with the god. In later Antiquity the caduceus provided the basis for the astrological symbol representing the planet Mercury. Thus, through its use in astrology and alchemy, it has come to denote the elemental metal of the same name. By extension of its association with Mercury/Hermes, the caduceus is also a recognized symbol of commerce and negotiation, two realms in which balanced exchange and reciprocity are recognized as ideals.[34] This association is ancient, and consistent from the Classical period to modern times.[35] The caduceus is also used as a symbol representing printing, again by extension of the attributes of Mercury (in this case associated with writing and eloquence).


The caduceus is often used incorrectly as a symbol of healthcare organisations and medical practice (especially in North America) due to confusion with the traditional medical symbol, the rod of Asclepius, which has only one snake and is never depicted with wings.

William Hayes Ward (1910) discovered that symbols similar to the classical caduceus sometimes appeared on Mesopotamian cylinder seals. He suggested the symbol originated some time between 3000 and 4000 BCE, and that it might have been the source of the Greek caduceus.[11] A.L. Frothingham incorporated Dr. Ward’s research into his own work, published in 1916, in which he suggested that the prototype of Hermes was an “Oriental deity of Babylonian extraction” represented in his earliest form as a snake god. From this perspective, the caduceus was originally representative of Hermes himself, in his early form as the Underworld god Ningishzida, “messenger” of the “Earth Mother”.[12] The caduceus is mentioned in passing by Walter Burkert[13] as “really the image of copulating snakes taken over from Ancient Near Eastern tradition”.

In Egyptian iconography, the Djed pillar is depicted as containing a snake in a frieze of the Dendera Temple complex.

he Homeric hymn to Hermes relates how Hermes offered his lyre fashioned from a tortoise shell as compensation for the cattle he stole from his half brother Apollo. Apollo in return gave Hermes the caduceus as a gesture of friendship.[14] The association with the serpent thus connects Hermes to Apollo, as later the serpent was associated with Asclepius, the “son of Apollo”.[15] The association of Apollo with the serpent is a continuation of the older Indo-European dragon-slayer motif. Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher (1913) pointed out that the serpent as an attribute of both Hermes and Asclepius is a variant of the “pre-historic semi-chthonic serpent hero known at Delphi as Python“, who in classical mythology is slain by Apollo.[16]

One Greek myth of origin of the caduceus is part of the story of Tiresias,[17] who found two snakes copulating and killed the female with his staff. Tiresias was immediately turned into a woman, and so remained until he was able to repeat the act with the male snake seven years later. This staff later came into the possession of the god Hermes, along with its transformative powers.

Another myth suggests that Hermes (or Mercury) saw two serpents entwined in mortal combat. Separating them with his wand he brought about peace between them, and as a result the wand with two serpents came to be seen as a sign of peace.[18]

In Rome, Livy refers to the caduceator who negotiated peace arrangements under the diplomatic protection of the caduceus he carried.[19]


In some vase paintings ancient depictions of the Greek kerukeion are somewhat different from the commonly seen modern representation. These representations feature the two snakes atop the staff (or rod), crossed to create a circle with the heads of the snakes resembling horns. This old graphic form, with an additional crossbar to the staff, seems to have provided the basis for the graphical sign of Mercury (☿) used in Greek astrology from Late Antiquity.[20]



[28] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 68.

[29] A Sanskrit word meaning “serpent power.” The kundalini is a fiery, transformative power that resides in the base chakra in the eastern mysteries. The yogic practice, knowns as ‘Raising of the kundalini,” to connect with all the chakras is said to unleash a great amount of energy.

[30] Sanskit word meaning “concentration.”

[31] Pranayama is Sanskrit for “the breath way.” Yogic techniques for breath control and vital energy manipulation.

[32]The Latin word cādūceus is an adaptation of the Greek κηρύκειον kērukeion, meaning “herald’s wand (or staff)”, deriving from κῆρυξ kērux, meaning “messenger, herald, envoy”. Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon; Stuart L. Tyson, “The Caduceus”, The Scientific Monthly, 34.6, (1932:492-98) p. 493

[33]Hornblower, Spawforth, The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd Ed., Oxford, 1996, pp 690-691

[34]the Unicode standard, where the “staff of Hermes” signifies “a commercial term or commerce”; see also: Walter J. Friedlander, The Golden Wand of Medicine: A History of the Caduceus Symbol in Medicine, Greenwood, 1992, p83; As one specialized study of symbolism notes, “In modern times the caduceus figures as a symbol of commerce, since Mercury is the god of commerce. M. Oldfield Howey, The Encircled Serpent: A Study of Serpent Symbolism in All Countries And Ages, New York, 1955, p77

[35]The name of the god Mercury cannot be disassociated from the word merx, which means merchandise. Such was the sentiment of the ancients” Yves Bonnefoy (Ed.), Wendy Doniger (Trans.), Roman and European Mythologies, University of Chicago Press, 1992, p135; “Mercury was the Roman name for the Greek god Hermes. His Latin name was apparently derived from merx or mercator, a merchant.” Michael E. Bakich, The Cambridge Planetary Handbook, Cambridge University Press, 2000, p85; Latin merx is the root of the English words Commerce, Market, Mart, Mercantile, Mercenary, Mercer, Merchant and Mercury, as can be seen by referring to any dictionary including etymological information.

The Sacred Color Correspondence: Purple

663399Purple is a range of hues of color occurring between red and blue.[1][2] The Oxford English Dictionary describes it as a deep, rich shade between crimson and violet.[3]  Purple was the color worn by Roman Emperors and magistrates, and later by Roman Catholic bishops. Since that time, purple has been commonly associated with royalty and piety.[4] 

The word ‘purple’ comes from the Old English word purpul which derives from the Latin purpura, in turn from the Greek πορφύρα (porphura),[5] name of the Tyrian purple dye manufactured in classical antiquity from a mucus secreted by the spiny dye-murex snail.[6][7]

The first recorded use of the word ‘purple’ in English was in the year 975 AD.[8] In heraldry, the word purpure is used for purple.[9]

In the traditional color wheel used by painters, violet and purple are both placed between red and blue. Purple occupies the space closer to red, between crimson and violet.[3] Violet is closer to blue, and is usually less intense and bright than purple.

While the two colors look similar, from the point of view of optics there are important differences. Violet is a spectral, or real color – it occupies its own place at the end of the spectrum of light, and it has its own wavelength (approximately 380–420 nm). It was one of the colors of the spectrum first identified by Isaac Newton in 1672, whereas purple is simply a combination of two colors, red and blue. There is no such thing as the “wavelength of purple light”; it only exists as a combination.[12] [13]

Purple was one of the first colors used in prehistoric art. The artists of Pech Merle cave and other Neolithic sites in France used sticks of manganese and hematite powder to draw and paint animals and the outlines of their own hands on the walls of their caves. These works have been dated to between 16,000 and 25,000 BC.[17]

As early as the 15th century BC the citizens of Sidon and Tyre, two cities on the coast of Ancient Phoenicia, (present day Lebanon), were producing purple dye from a sea snail called the spiny dye-murex.[18] Clothing colored with the Tyrian dye was mentioned in both the Iliad of Homer and the Aeneid of Virgil.[18] The deep, rich purple dye made from this snail became known as Tyrian purple.[19]

The process of making the dye was long, difficult and expensive. Thousands of the tiny snails had to be found, their shells cracked, the snail removed. Mountains of empty shells have been found at the ancient sites of Sidon and Tyre. The snails were left to soak, then a tiny gland was removed and the juice extracted and put in a basin, which was placed in the sunlight. There a remarkable transformation took place. In the sunlight the juice turned white, then yellow-green, then green, then violet, then a red which turned darker and darker. The process had to be stopped at exactly the right time to obtain the desired color, which could range from a bright crimson to a dark purple, the color of dried blood. Then either wool, linen or silk would be dyed. The exact hue varied between crimson and violet, but it was always rich, bright and lasting.[20]

Tyrian purple became the color of kings, nobles, priests and magistrates all around the Mediterranean. It was mentioned in the Old Testament; In the Book of Exodus, God instructs Moses to have the Israelites bring him an offering including cloth “of blue, and purple, and scarlet.”,[21] to be used in the curtains of the Tabernacle and the garments of priests. The term used for purple in the 4th century Latin Vulgate version of the Bible passage is purpura or Tyrian purple.[22] In the Iliad of Homer, the belt of Ajax is purple, and the tails of the horses of Trojan warriors are dipped in purple. In the Odyssey, the blankets on the wedding bed of Odysseus are purple. In the poems of Sappho (6th century BC) she celebrates the skill of the dyers of the Greek kingdom of Lydia who made purple footwear, and in the play of Aeschylus (525–456 BC), Queen Clytemnestra welcomes back her husband Agamemnon by decorating the palace with purple carpets. In 950 BC, King Solomon was reported to have brought artisans from Tyre to provide purple fabrics to decorate the Temple of Jerusalem.[23]

Alexander the Great (when giving imperial audiences as the Emperor of the Macedonian Empire), the emperor of the Seleucid Empire, and the kings of Ptolemaic Egypt all wore Tyrian purple.

The Roman custom of wearing purple togas may have come from the Etruscans; An Etruscan tomb painting from the 4th century BC shows a nobleman wearing a deep purple and embroidered toga.

In Ancient Rome, the Toga praetexta was an ordinary white toga with a broad purple stripe on its border. It was worn by freeborn Roman boys who had not yet come of age,[24] curule magistrates,[25][26] certain categories of priests,[27] and a few other categories of citizens.

The Toga picta was solid purple, embroidered with gold. During the Roman Republic, it was worn by generals in their triumphs, and by the Praetor Urbanus when he rode in the chariot of the gods into the circus at the Ludi Apollinares.[28] During the Empire, the toga picta was worn by magistrates giving public gladiatorial games, and by the consuls, as well as by the emperor on special occasions.

During the Roman Republic, when a triumph was held, the general being honored wore an entirely purple toga bordered in gold, and Roman Senators wore a toga with a purple stripe. However, during the Roman Empire, purple was more and more associated exclusively with the Emperors and their officers.[29] The Emperor Caligula had the King of Mauritania murdered for wearing a purple mantle better than his own. Nero made it punishable by death for anyone else to wear the color.

The actual color of Tyrian purple seems to have varied from a reddish to a bluish purple. According to the Roman writer Vitruvius, (1st century BC), the murex coming from northern waters, probably murex brandaris, produced a more bluish color than those of the south, probably murex trunculus. The most valued shades were said to be those closer to the color of dried blood, as seen in the mosaics of the robes of the Emperor Justinian in Ravenna. The chemical composition of the dye from the murex is close to that of the dye from indigo, and indigo was sometimes used to make a counterfeit Tyrian purple, a crime which was severely punished. What seems to have mattered about Tyrian purple was not its color, but its luster, richness, its resistance to weather and light, and its high price.[30]

In modern times, Tyrian purple has been recreated, at great expense. When the German chemist Paul Friedander tried to recreate Tyrian purple in 2008, he needed twelve thousand mollusks to create 1.4 ounces of dye, enough to color a handkerchief. In the year 2000 a gram of Tyrian purple made from ten thousand mollusks according to the original formula, cost two thousand euro.[31][32]

Through the early Christian era, the rulers of the Byzantine Empire continued the use of purple as the imperial color, for diplomatic gifts, and even for imperial documents and the pages of the Bible. Gospel manuscripts were written in gold lettering on parchment that was colored Tyrian purple.[33] Empresses gave birth in the Purple Chamber, and the Emperors born there were known as “born to the purple,” to separate them from Emperors who won or seized the title through political intrigue or military force. Bishops of the Byzantine church wore white robes with stripes of purple, while government officials wore squares of purple fabric to show their rank.

In western Europe, the Emperor Charlemagne was crowned in 800 wearing a mantle of Tyrian purple, and was buried in 814 in a shroud of the same color, which still exists (see below). However, after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, the color lost its imperial status. The great dye works of Constantinople were destroyed, and gradually scarlet, made with dye from the cochineal insect, became the royal color in Europe.[34]

In 1464, Pope Paul II decreed that cardinals should no longer wear purple, and instead wear scarlet, from kermes and alum,[35] since the deep Tyrian purple from Byzantium was no longer available. Bishops and archbishops, of a lower status than cardinals, were assigned the color purple, but not the rich Tyrian purple. They wore cloth dyed first with the less expensive indigo blue, then overlaid with red made from kermes dye.[36][37]

While purple was worn less frequently by Medieval and Renaissance kings and princes, it was worn by the professors of many of Europe’s new universities. Their robes were modeled after those of the clergy, and they often wore square violet or purple caps and robes, or black robes with purple trim. Purple robes were particularly worn by students of divinity.

Purple and violet also played an important part in the religious paintings of the Renaissance. Angels and the Virgin Mary were often portrayed wearing purple or violet robes.

In the 18th century, purple was still worn on occasion by Catherine the Great and other rulers, by bishops and, in lighter shades, by members of the aristocracy, but rarely by ordinary people, because of its high cost. But in the 19th century, that changed.

In 1856, an eighteen-year old British chemistry student named William Henry Perkin was trying to make a synthetic quinine. His experiments produced instead the first synthetic aniline dye, a purple shade called mauveine, shortened simply to mauve. It took its name from the mallow flower, which is the same color. The new color quickly became fashionable, particularly after Queen Victoria wore a silk gown dyed with mauveine to the Royal Exhibition of 1862. Prior to Perkin’s discovery, mauve was a color which only the aristocracy and rich could afford to wear. Perkin developed an industrial process, built a factory, and produced the dye by the ton, so almost anyone could wear mauve. It was the first of a series of modern industrial dyes which completely transformed both the chemical industry and fashion.[38]

Purple was popular with the pre-Raphaelite painters in Britain, including Arthur Hughes, who loved bright colors and romantic scenes.

The Perfume Correspondence: Mastic, Mace and Storax

masticMastic, mace, and storax are the perfumes of this twelfth path. It is said that the tree that provides this botanical perfume was beloved of the goddess Diana. Dictynna was a priestess of Diana on Crete (or in other versions, was a local goddess of Crete in her own right). Her family had been attacked and killed by robbers. When a man came forward who said he could help Dictynna bring her family’s killers to justice if Dictynna married him, she agreed. He did his part, but before they could be wed, Diana, not wanting to lose her priestess to marriage, turned her into a mastic tree. Its scent signifies virginity and purity and so is a good candidate for making magickal oils dedicated to the Maiden aspect of the goddess. It is expensive, but its scent is powerful enough that a little goes a long, long way. The source of the first fragrance of this path, Mastic, has been used as a medicine since antiquity and is still used in traditional folk medicine of the Middle East. In Ancient Greece, it was given as a remedy for snakebite, and in India and Persia was used to fill dental cavities. The first century Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides mentions the healing properties of mastic in his book De Materia Medica. Hippocrates wrote that the mastic is good for prevention of digestive problems and colds and Galenus suggested mastic was useful for bronchitis and improving the condition of the blood. For more everyday applications, mastic was highly valued in medieval times by sultans’ harems, as a breath freshener and tooth whitener. Across the literature we can see mastic identified as Sun, Mercury, and Air. The latter certainly makes sense, because this is a very clean resin with a light scent. However, a case can made for Sun in the pure yellow color of the resin and the shinyness of its pieces, as well as for Mercury, as this natural perfume is excellent for mixing with other scents, bringing them a light resinous aroma. This scent is also ruled by the Fixed Star Regulus and is a sealant in the 24th and 28th Lunar Mansions. Steam-distilled from Pistacia lentiscus in Morocco.


Mastic Trees

Mastic (Greek: Μαστίχα) is a resin obtained from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus). In pharmacies and nature shops, it is called “Arabic gum” (not to be confused with gum arabic) and “Yemen gum“. In Greece, it is known as the “tears of Chios,” being traditionally produced on that Greek island, and, like other natural resins, is produced in “tears” or droplets. In Turkey, it is referred to as “damla sakızı”, i.e. “droplet gum”.  Originally a liquid, mastic is sun-dried into drops of hard brittle translucent resin. When chewed, the resin softens and becomes a bright white and opaque gum. The flavor is bitter at first, but after some chewing, it releases a refreshing, slightly pine or cedar-like flavor.  The word mastic is derived from the Greek verb, μαστιχειν “to gnash the teeth”, which is the source of the English word masticate.[1] The word mastic is a synonym for gum in many languages.

The second fragrance associated with this path, Tyrax oficinalis L., comes from the Hebrew word nataf. The Semitic root of Styrax, tsor means resin. The Hebrew name Styrax, in common with the Latin and Greek names, means drop. Styrax officinalis is a resinous exudation collected from a small variety of an Asiatic tree (Liquidambar orientalis) after the bark has been stripped off. The Liquidambar, is a tree common around the Mediterranean basin. The variety Styrax officinalis grows in Cilicia, Lebanon and in the sub-alpine regions of Palestine. In the Bible, it is one of the four ingredients which make up the holy perfume intended to be used for incensing and placed before the tokens, within the Tent of the Presence which prefigures the temple of Jerusalem.[36] Styrax incense is used in the Middle East and adjacent regions as an air freshener. This was adopted in the European Papier d’Arménie.Distillation changes the smell of storax, which is similar to that of pyrogenous Liquidambar orientalis. In order to restore its original perfume, the resin is treated with alcohol. In perfumery, essential oil of storax is used to soften and enhance the bottom notes of floral compositions. Its perfume is sweet, balsamic and fragrant with a hint of vanilla. There has been little dedicated research into the medical properties of styrax resin, but it has been used for long, and apparently with favorable results. It was important in Islamic medicine; Avicenna (Ibn Seena, ابن سینا) discusses S. officinalis it in his Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb (القانون في الطب, The Law of Medicine). He indicates that styrax resin mixed with other antibiotic substances and hardening material gives a good dental restorative material.

Mastic has been used as a medicine since antiquity and is still used in traditional folk medicine of the Middle East. In ancient Greece, it was given as a remedy for snakebite, and, in India and Persia, it was used to fill dental cavities. The first-century Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides mentions the healing properties of mastic in his book De Materia Medica. Hippocrates wrote that the mastic is good for prevention of digestive problems and colds, and Galenus suggested that mastic was useful for bronchitis and for improving the condition of the blood. In medieval times, mastic was highly valued by sultans’ harems as a breath freshener and a tooth whitener.

Mastic contains antioxidants and also has antibacterial and antifungal properties.[4] A Nottingham University study published in the New England Journal of Medicine claims that mastic can cure peptic ulcers by killing Helicobacter pylori bacteria.[5] Other studies have indicated that mastic has only a modest ability to eliminate H. pylori but have also suggested that refining mastic by removing the polymer poly-β-myrcene may make the active components, particularly isomasticadienolic acid, more available and effective.[6] Mastic may also have some value in preventing tooth decay[7] and gingivitis[8] as chewing mastic reduces oral bacteria.

One study found that high consumption of Chios mastic powder results in decreased levels of total serum cholesterol, LDL, total cholesterol/HDL ratio, lipoprotein (a), apolipoprotein A-1, apolipoprotein B, ALT, AST, and GGT.[9] Mastic oil is widely used in the preparation of ointments for skin disorders and afflictions.[citation needed] It is also used in the manufacture of adhesive bandages.[citation needed]

One of the earliest uses of mastic was as chewing gum; hence, the name. Mastic-flavored chewing gum is sold in Lebanon[10] and Greece. Mastic is used in ice cream, sauces, and seasoning in Lebanon. In Egypt, mastic is used in vegetable preserves, in jams that have a gummy consistency, in soups, and in the preparation of meats. In Morocco, mastic is used in the preparation of smoked foods.

In Turkey, mastic is widely used in desserts such as Turkish delight and dondurma; in puddings such as sütlaç, salep, and tavuk göğsü mamelika, and in soft drinks. It is also in Turkish coffee on the Aegean coast.

In the Maghreb countries, mastic is used mainly for cakes, sweets, and pastries and as a stabilizer in meringue and nougat.

In Greece, mastic is used in mastic liqueurs such as Mastichato; in a spoon sweet known as “vaníllia”; in beverages, chewing gum, sweets, desserts, and breads; and in cheese. It is also used to stabilize Turkish delight or mastic-gum ice cream. In desserts, as an ingredient of jam or cakes, mastic replaces cornstarch and gelatin.

During the Ottoman rule of Chios, mastic was worth its weight in gold. The penalty for stealing mastic was execution by order of the sultan. In the Chios Massacre of 1822, the people of the Mastichochoria region were spared by the sultan to provide mastic to him and his harem. Sakız Adası, the Turkish name for the island of Chios, means “island of gum”. The production of mastic was threatened by the Chios forest fire that destroyed some mastic groves in August 2012.

Some scholars identify the bakha בכא mentioned in the Bible with the mastic plant. Bakha appears to be derived from the Hebrew word for weeping, and is thought to refer to the “tears” of resin secreted by the mastic plant.

Ancient Jewish halachic sources indicate mastic as a treatment for bad breath: “Mastic is not chewed on shabbat. When [is it permissible to chew mastic on shabbat]? When the intention is medicinal. If it is against a bad odor, it is permissible.”[12]

Mastic is an essential ingredient of chrism, the holy oil used for anointing by the Orthodox Churches.



[36]Bible, Exodus 30, 34-37.


 The Jewel Correspondence: The Agate

iagate0001p4The jewel corresponding to the twelvth path on the qabalistic Tree of Life is the agate. The agate is a microcrystalline variety of silica, chiefly chalcedony, characterised by its fineness of grain and brightness of color. Although agates may be found in various kinds of rock, they are classically associated with volcanic rocks and can be common in certain metamorphic rocks.[37]The stone was given its name by Theophrastus, a Greek philosopher and naturalist, who discovered the stone along the shore line of the river Achates (Greek: Ἀχάτης) sometime between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. Colorful agates and other chalcedonies were obtained over 3,000 years ago from the Achates River, now called Dirillo, in Sicily.

Agate is one of the most common materials used in the art of hardstone carving, and has been recovered at a number of ancient sites, indicating its widespread use in the ancient world; for example, archaeological recovery at the Knossos site on Crete illustrates its role in Bronze Age Minoan culture.[4]

Most agates occur as nodules in volcanic rocks or ancient lavas where they represent cavities originally produced by the disengagement of volatiles in the molten mass which were then filled, wholly or partially, by siliceous matter deposited in regular layers upon the walls. Agate has also been known to fill veins or cracks in volcanic or altered rock underlain by granitic intrusive masses.

Industry uses agates chiefly to make ornaments such as pins, brooches or other types of jewelry, paper knives, inkstands, marbles and seals. Agate is also still used today for decorative displays, cabochons, beads, carvings and Intarsia art as well as face-polished and tumble-polished specimens of varying size and origin. Because of its hardness and ability to resist acids, agate is used to make mortars and pestles to crush and mix chemicals. Because of the high polish possible with agate it has been used for centuries for leather burnishing tools. Idar-Oberstein was one of the centers which made use of agate on an industrial scale. Where in the beginning locally found agates were used to make all types of objects for the European market, this became a globalized business around the turn of the 20th century: Idar-Oberstein imported large quantities of agate from Brazil, as ship’s ballast. Making use of a variety of proprietary chemical processes, they produced colored beads that were sold around the globe.[5] Agates have long been used in arts and crafts. The sanctuary of a Presbyterian church in Yachats, Oregon, has six windows with panes made of agates collected from the local beaches.[6]


[37]Donald W. Hyndman, David D. Alt (2002). Roadside Geology of Oregon (18th ed.). Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Company. pp. 286

The Sacred Plant Correspondence: the Vervain

Blue Vervain-2The sacred plant of beth, the twelvth path of the qabalistic Tree of Life, is vervain.

In countries like England, per example, the Common Vervain is found growing by roadsides and in sunny pastures. It is a perennial bearing many small, pale-lilac flowers. The leaves are opposite,  in many species hairy and cut into toothed lobes. The plant has no perfume, and is slightly bitter and astringent in taste. The leaves are usually opposite, simple, and in many species hairy, often densely so. The flowers are small, with five petals, and borne in dense spikes.

Verbena has longstanding use in herbalism and folk medicine, usually as an herbal tea. Nicholas Culpeper‘s 1652 The English Physitian discusses folk uses. Among other effects, it may act as a galactagogue (promotes lactation) and possibly sex steroid analogue. The plants are also sometimes used as abortifacient. Verbena has been listed as one of the 38 plants used to prepare Bach flower remedies,[8] a kind of alternative medicine promoted for its effect on health. However according to Cancer Research UK, “there is no scientific evidence to prove that flower remedies can control, cure or prevent any type of disease, including cancer”.[9]

The name Vervain is derived from the Celtic ferfaen, from fer (to drive away) and faen (a stone), as the plant was much used for affections of the bladder, especially calculus. Another derivation is given by some authors from Herba veneris, because of the aphrodisiac qualities attributed to it by the Ancients. Priests used it for sacrifices, and hence the name Herba Sacra.

The name Verbena was the classical Roman name for ‘altar-plants’ in general, and for this species in particular. The druids included it in their lustral water, and magicians and sorcerers employed it largely. It was used in various rites and incantations, and by ambassadors in making leagues. Bruised, it was worn round the neck as a charm against headaches, and also against snake and other venomous bites as well as for general good luck. It was thought to be good for the sight. Its virtues in all these directions may be due to the legend of its discovery on the Mount of Calvary, where it staunched the wounds of the crucified Saviour. Hence, it is crossed and blessed with a commemorative verse when it is gathered. It must be picked before flowering, and dried promptly. Vervain is used to treat the liver and diseases related to the liver, exhaustion, fatigue, fever, insomnia, asthma, post-natal depression, as well as painful or irregular menses. It will also help increase the flow of a mother’s milk. The Chinese use it to treat malaria, dysentery, and congestion. It is also a pain reliever and to reduce inflammation. It is recommended in upwards of thirty complaints, being astringent, diaphoretic, antispasmodic, etc. It is said to be useful in intermittent fevers, ulcers, ophthalmia, pleurisy, etc., and to be a good galactogogue. It is still used as a febrifuge in autumn fevers. It is not to be used during pregnancy. Vervain is also used for cleansing incenses and baths. Buried in a field, it will make your crops abundant. It is burned to attract wealth, and hung above a bed to prevent nightmares, and above a baby’s crib to offer protection for the little one, and will enable the child to grow up with a love of learning and a happy outlook. Hung in the home it offers protection from negative spells, and is used as a pledge of mutual faith when given to a friend.

The essential oil of various species – mainly common vervain – is traded as Spanish verbena oil. Considered inferior to oil of Lemon verbena in perfumery, it is of some commercial importance for herbalism and it seems to be a promising source of medical compounds. Verveine, the famous green liqueur from the region of Le Puy-en-Velay (France) is flavored with these vervains.

Verbena has long been associated with divine and other supernatural forces. It was called “tears of Isis” in ancient Egypt, and later on “Juno‘s tears”. In ancient Greece it was dedicated to Eos Erigineia. In the early Christian era, folk legend stated that V. officinalis was used to staunch Jesus’ wounds after his removal from the cross. It was consequently called “holy herb” or (e.g. in Wales) “Devil’s bane”.[citation needed]

Vervain flowers are engraved on cimaruta, Italian anti-stregheria charms.[citation needed] In the 1870 The History and Practice of Magic by “Paul Christian” (Jean Baptiste Pitois) it is employed in the preparation of a mandragora charm.[10] The book also describes its antiseptic capabilities (p. 336), and use as a protection against spells (pp. 339, 414).[11]

While common vervain is not native to North America, it has been introduced there and for example the Pawnee have adopted it as an entheogen enhancer and in oneiromancy (dream divination), much as Calea zacatechichi is used in Mexico.

The generic name is the Latin term for a plant sacred to the ancient Romans.[12][13] Pliny the Elder describes verbena presented on Jupiter altars; it is not entirely clear if this referred to a verbena rather than the general term for prime sacrificial herbs.[verification needed]

The common names of verbena in many Central and Eastern European languages often associate it with iron. These include for example the Dutch IJzerhard (“iron-hardener”), Danish Læge-Jernurt (“medical ironwort”), German Echtes Eisenkraut (“true ironherb”), Slovak Železník lekársky (“medical ironherb”), and Hungarian vasfű (“iron grass”). An indeterminate vervain[verification needed] is among the plants on the eighth panel of the New World Tapestry (Expedition to Cape Cod).[citation needed]

In the William Faulkner short story An Odor of Verbena, verbena is used symbolically and described as “the only scent that can be smelled above the scent of horses and courage”, similar to the symbolic use of honeysuckle in The Sound and the Fury.[citation needed]

William Carew Hazlitt‘s Faiths and Folklore (1905) quotes John Aubrey‘s Miscellanies (1721), to wit:

“Vervain and Dill / Hinder witches from their will.”[14][15]

In the series of young adult novels The Vampire Diaries, author L. J. Smith uses vervain to protect humans from vampires,[16] in an extension of vervain’s fabled magic-suppression powers against witches. In The Struggle, Volume II, the vampire Stefan instructs the human Elena that vervain can “protect you against bewitchment, and it can keep your mind clear if a vampire or another supernatural that is using Powers against you.”[17] He tells her how it is prepared and used, “Once I’ve extracted the oil from the seeds, you can rub it into your skin, or add it to a bath. And you can make the dried leaves into a sachet and carry it with you, or put it under your pillow at night”, but gives her an unprepared sprig for protection in the meantime.[18]

In the 1977 novel Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, one of the major characters, Pedro Camacho, constantly drinks “verbena-and-mint tea” instead of coffee. The character, a writer of radio soap operas, claims that it “clears the synapses.”[19]

In her 1933 thriller “Sweet Danger”, Margery Allingham‘s hero Albert Campion describes vervain as one of the more common preparations for human sacrifice.[citation needed]

The Animal Correspondence: the Ibis

IBISSSSThe ibis is its sacred bird, which ages ago was observed to have the curious habit of standing on one leg for long periods of time, and to the fertile imagination of the ancients this suggested the absorption in profound meditation. In Yoga practice there is a posture called the Ibis wherein the practitioner balances himself on one leg. The rituals, moreover, adress Thoth as “O thou of the Ibis head.”[38] The ibises are a group of long-legged wading birds in the family Threskiornithidae. They all have long down curved bills, and usually feed as a group, probing mud for food items, usually crustaceans. Most species nest in trees, often with spoonbills or herons. The word ibis comes from Greek and Latin, and probably from the Ancient Egyptian. According to Josephus, Moses employed ibes against flying serpents during a desert campaign into Ethiopia in his early life.[39] Pliny the Elder also recounted, “The Egyptians invoked [ibes] against the flying serpents.”[40]

The African Sacred Ibis was an object of religious veneration in ancient Egypt, particularly associated with the deity Djehuty or otherwise commonly referred to in Greek as Thoth. He is responsible for writing, mathematics, measurement and time as well as the moon and magic.[5] In artworks of the Late Period of Ancient Egypt, Thoth is popularly depicted as an ibis-headed man while consumed in the act of writing.[5]

At the town of Hermopolis, ibises were reared specifically for sacrificial purposes and in the Serapeum at Saqqara, archaeologists found the mummies of one and a half million ibises and hundreds of thousands of falcons.[6]

According to local legend in the Birecik area, the Northern Bald Ibis was one of the first birds that Noah released from the Ark as a symbol of fertility,[7] and a lingering religious sentiment in Turkey helped the colonies there to survive long after the demise of the species in Europe.[8]

The mascot of the University of Miami is an American White Ibis. The ibis was selected as the school mascot because of its legendary bravery during hurricanes. According to legend, the ibis is the last sign of wildlife to take shelter before a hurricane hits and the first to reappear once the storm has passed.[9]

A short story “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst uses the sable-hued bird as foreshadowing for a character’s death and as the primary symbol.[10]

The African Sacred Ibis is the unit symbol of the Israeli Special Forces unit known as Unit 212 or Maglan in Hebrew: מגלן.

Moses used the Ibis to help him defeat the Ethiopians. [11]


[38] From ‘’Liber Israfel’’, The Invocation of Thoth, from the manuscript of Allan Bennett, as published in Aleister Crowley’s The Equinox, Volume VII (Samuel Weiser Inc.) p. 21-27.

[39]Josephus, Flavius and William Whiston. The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, “Antiquities” 2.246

[40]Josephus, Flavius and William Whiston. The Works of Josephus : Complete and Unabridged. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, “Antiquities” 2.246, footnote referencing Natural History (Pliny) 10.28.

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