October 23, 2019
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The General Description of the Path

mem-500x450This is the path number Twenty-three. It is the first pat that we encounter on our upward journey, connecting Hod to Geburah. It is to be found entirely on one column, without any balancing influence from anywhere else. The intellectual principle is connected to a rather merciless spiritual faculty of judgment on this path, and the qualities and appropriate. Here it is necessary to sacrifice all of our previous ideas abd standards; otherwise, we shall be turned back.”[1] The Hangned man is associated with the 23th path on the qabalistic Tree of Life. This is the path between Geburah and Hod. Mem is called ‘the stable intelligence’, and its color is sea green. The keynote of this path is the following: “From the sphere of thinking we ascend to the principle of merciless, unbending leadership.

Defense – This path is the transition from appreciating boundaries (Hod) to responsing to them (Geburah).  For example, I may acknowledge that there is a parking restriction but decide to ignore it and risk a parking ticket.  I may decide to ignore the parking ticket and risk a summons.  I may decide to ignore a summons and risk being in contempt of court. What began as an abstract notion of a parking restriction (Hod) has turned into a confrontation with power (Geburah). It is a confrontation I am reasonable certain to lose. (Collin A. Low, The Hermetic Kabbalah, p. 330)

mem--In order to accomplish this ascent, we subject our concepts and precepts to a transvaluation and a reordering of inward priorities.”[2] Here we have the nietzschean transvaluation of values. The magical motto of this path is this word of advice from hermetic philosopher Jacob Bohem: “Walk in all thing contrary to the World.”[3]


[1] Stephen, A. Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage, Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p.55.
[2] Stephen, A. Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage, Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p.97.
[3] Jacob Boheme, cited by Stephen, A. Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage, Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p.97.

 The Hebrew Letter Correspondence: Mem (40)

mem-------This is the thirteenth letter of the alphabet. Its numerical value is 40. Me mis the pronunciation, meaning “water,” and it is given also the element of Water. In its shape, some authorities perceive the waves of the sea. Mem is called “the Stable Intelligence,”







The Tarot Trump Correspondence: The Hanged Man

XII-The-HangedManThe Hanged Man (XII) is the twelfth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks.Modern versions of the tarot deck depict a man hanging upside-down by one foot. The figure is most often suspended from a wooden beam (as in a cross or gallows) or a tree. Ambiguity results from the fact that the card itself may be viewed inverted. In his book The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, A. E. Waite, the designer of the Rider-Waite tarot deck, wrote of the symbol: The gallows from which he is suspended forms a Tau cross, while the figure—from the position of the legs—forms a fylfot cross. There is a nimbus about the head of the seeming martyr. It should be noted (1) that the tree of sacrifice is living wood, with leaves thereon; (2) that the face expresses deep entrancement, not suffering; (3) that the figure, as a whole, suggests life in suspension, but life and not death. […] It has been called falsely a card of martyrdom, a card a of prudence, a card of the Great Work, a card of duty […] I will say very simply on my own part that it expresses the relation, in one of its aspects, between the Divine and the Universe. He who can understand that the story of his higher nature is imbedded [sic] in this symbolism will receive intimations concerning a great awakening that is possible, and will know that after the sacred Mystery of Death there is a glorious Mystery of Resurrection.[4] The Hanged Man is one of the most mysterious cards in the tarot deck. It is simple, but complex. It attracts, but also disturbs. It contradicts itself in countless ways. The Hanged Man is unsettling because it symbolizes the action of paradox in our lives. A paradox is something that appears contradictory, and yet is true. The Hanged Man presents to us certain truths, but they are hidden in their opposites. The main lesson of the Hanged Man is that we “control” by letting go – we “win” by surrendering. The figure on Card 12 has made the ultimate surrender – to die on the cross of his own travails – yet he shines with the glory of divine understanding. He has sacrificed himself, but he emerges the victor. The Hanged Man also tells us that we can “move forward” by standing still. By suspending time, we can have all the time in the world. In readings, the Hanged Man reminds us that the best approach to a problem is not always the most obvious. When we most want to force our will on someone, that is when we should release. When we most want to have our own way, that is when we should sacrifice. When we most want to act, that is when we should wait. The irony is that by making these contradictory moves, we find what we are looking for.


[4]Waite, A. E. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, p.?

The Twelveth Step in the Fool’s Pilgrimage

fffoooolllllUndaunted, the Fool pushes on. He is determined to realize his vision, but he finds life is not so easily tamed. Sooner or later, he encounters his personal cross – an experience that seems too difficult to endure. This overwhelming challenge humbles him until he has no choice but to give up and let go. At first, the Fool feels defeated and lost. He believes he has sacrificed everything, but from the depths he learns an amazing truth. He finds that when he relinquishes his struggle for control, everything begins to work as it should. By becoming open and vulnerable, the Fool discovers the miraculous support of his Inner Self. He learns to surrender to his experiences, rather than fighting them. He feels a surprising joy and begins to flow with life. The Fool feels suspended in a timeless moment, free of urgency and pressure. In truth, his world has been turned upside-down. The Fool is the Hanged Man (12), apparently martyred, but actually serene and at peace.



The Egyptian Deity Correspondence: Tum Ptah Auromoth

mut-----Its gods are Tum Ptah Auromoth, combining the idea of the Setting Sun, the king of the gods, and a purely elemental divinity. Auramoouth is the Coptic form of the Egyptian Goddess Mut. She is primary godform in the Neophyte ceremony of the Golden Dawn, and is associated with the element of Water.[5] She is the daughter of Nuit. She is the Sky-goddess of Water. Mut, which meant mother in the ancient Egyptian language,[6] was an ancient Egyptian mother goddess with multiple aspects that changed over the thousands of years of the culture. Alternative spellings are Maut and Mout. She was considered a primal deity, associated with the waters from which everything was born through parthenogenesis. She also was depicted as a woman with the crowns of Egypt upon her head. The rulers of Egypt each supported her worship in their own way to emphasize their own authority and right to rule through an association with Mut.Some of Mut’s many titles included World-Mother, Eye of Ra, Queen of the Goddesses, Lady of Heaven, Mother of the Gods, and She Who Gives Birth, But Was Herself Not Born of Any. Mut was a title of the primordial waters of the cosmos, Naunet, in the Ogdoad cosmogony during what is called the Old Kingdom, the third through sixth dynasties, dated between 2,686 to 2,134 B.C. However, the distinction between motherhood and cosmic water later diversified and lead to the separation of these identities, and Mut gained aspects of a creator goddess, since she was the mother from which the cosmos emerged. The hieroglyph for Mut’s name, and for mother itself, was that of a white vulture, which the Egyptians believed were very maternal creatures. Indeed, since Egyptian white vultures have no significant differing markings between female and male of the species, being without sexual dimorphism, the Egyptians believed they were all females, who conceived their offspring by the wind herself, another parthenogenic concept. In art, Mut was pictured as a woman with the wings of a white vulture, holding an ankh, wearing the united crown of Upper and Lower Egypt and a dress of bright red or blue, with the feather of the goddess Ma’at at her feet. Alternatively, as a result of her assimilations, Mut is sometimes depicted as a cobra, a cat, a cow, or as a lioness as well as the white vulture.


[5] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 92, Note 41.
[6]Velde, Herman te (2002). Mut. In D. B. Redford (Ed.), The ancient gods speak: A guide to Egyptian religion (pp. 238). New York: Oxford University Press, USA.

The Greek Deity Correspondence: Posseidon

posseidonnPoseidon is attributed as the Greek deity correspondence for this 23rd path of the Tree of Life “as representing water and the seas.”[7] Poseidon (Greek: Ποσειδῶν) was the god of the sea, and, as “Earth-Shaker,”[8] of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon. Linear B tablets show that Poseidon was venerated at Pylos and Thebes in pre-Olympian Bronze Age Greece, but he was integrated into the Olympian gods as the brother of Zeus and Hades.[9] Poseidon was a son of Cronus and Rhea. In most accounts he is swallowed by Cronus at birth but later saved, with his other brothers and sisters, by Zeus. However in some versions of the story, he, like his brother Zeus, did not share the fate of his other brother and sisters who were eaten by Cronus. He was saved by his mother Rhea, who concealed him among a flock of lambs and pretended to have given birth to a colt, which she gave to Cronus to devour.[10] According to John Tzetzes the kourotrophos, or nurse of Poseidon was Arne, who denied knowing where he was, when Cronus came searching; according to Diodorus Siculus[11] Poseidon was raised by the Telchines on Rhodes, just as Zeus was raised by the Korybantes on Crete.According to a single reference in the Iliad, when the world was divided by lot in three, Zeus received the sky, Hades the underworld and Poseidon the sea. In the Odyssey (v.398), Poseidon has a home in Aegae. His consort was Amphitrite, a nymph and ancient sea-goddess, daughter of Nereus and Doris. Poseidon has many children. Among others he is the father of the heroes Pelias and Neleus, twin boys. Not all of Poseidon’s children were human. In an archaic myth, Poseidon once pursued Demeter. She spurned his advances, turning herself into a mare so that she could hide in a herd of horses; he saw through the deception and became a stallion and captured her. Their child was a horse, Arion, which was capable of human speech. Poseidon also had sexual intercourse with Medusa on the floor of a temple to Athena. Medusa was then changed into a monster by Athena. In Mycenaean Knossos, Poseidon is already identified as “Earth-Shaker” (e-ne-si-da-o-ne), a powerful attribute (earthquakes had accompanied the collapse of the Minoan palace-culture). In any case, the early importance of Poseidon can still be glimpsed in Homer’s Odyssey, where Poseidon rather than Zeus is the major mover of events. In the heavily sea-dependent Mycenaean culture, no connection between Poseidon and the sea has yet surfaced. Homer and Hesiod suggest that Poseidon became lord of the sea following the defeat of his father Kronos, when the world was divided by lot among his three sons; Zeus was given the sky, Hades the underworld, and Poseidon the sea, with the Earth and Mount Olympus belonging to all three.[12] There is a Homeric hymn to Poseidon, who was the protector of many Hellenic cities, although he lost the contest for Athens to Athena.Poseidon was a major civic god of several cities: in Athens, he was second only to Athena in importance, while in Corinth and many cities of Magna Graecia he was the chief god of the polis.In his benign aspect, Poseidon was seen as creating new islands and offering calm seas. When offended or ignored, he supposedly struck the ground with his trident and caused chaotic springs, earthquakes, drownings and shipwrecks. Sailors prayed to Poseidon for a safe voyage, sometimes drowning horses as a sacrifice; in this way, according to a fragmentary papyrus, Alexander the Great paused at the Syrian seashore before the climactic battle of Issus, and resorted to prayers, “invoking Poseidon the sea-god, for whom he ordered a four-horse chariot to be cast into the waves.”[13] According to Pausanias, Poseidon was one of the caretakers of the oracle at Delphi before Olympian Apollo took it over. Apollo and Poseidon worked closely in many realms: in colonization, for example, Delphic Apollo provided the authorization to go out and settle, while Poseidon watched over the colonists on their way, and provided the lustral water for the foundation-sacrifice. Xenophon’s Anabasis describes a group of Spartan soldiers in 400–399 BCE singing to Poseidon a paean—a kind of hymn normally sung for Apollo. Like Dionysus, who inflamed the maenads, Poseidon also caused certain forms of mental disturbance. A Hippocratic text of ca 400 BCE, On the Sacred Disease says that he was blamed for certain types of epilepsy. Poseidon was known in various guises, denoted by epithets. In the town of Aegaein Euboea, he was known as Poseidon Aegaeus and had a magnificent temple upon a hill.[14] Poseidon also had a close association with horses, known under the epithet Poseidon Hippios. He is more often regarded as the tamer of horses, but in some myths he is their father, either by spilling his seed upon a rock or by mating with a creature who then gave birth to the first horse.[15] In the historical period, Poseidon was often referred to by the epithets Enosichthon, Seischthon and Ennosigaios, all meaning “earth-shaker” and referring to his role in causing earthquakes. In Greek art, Poseidon rides a chariot that was pulled by a hippocampus or by horses that could ride on the sea. He was associated with dolphins and three-pronged fish spears (tridents). He lived in a palace on the ocean floor, made of coral and gems. In the Iliad Poseidon favors the Greeks, and on several occasion takes an active part in the battle against the Trojan forces. However, in Book XX he rescues Aeneas after the Trojan prince is laid low by Achilles. In the Odyssey, Poseidon is notable for his hatred of Odysseus who blinded the god’s son, the cyclops Polyphemus. The enmity of Poseidon prevents Odysseus’s return home to Ithaca for many years. Odysseus is even told, notwithstanding his ultimate safe return, that to placate the wrath of Poseidon will require one more voyage on his part. In the Aeneid, Neptune is still resentful of the wandering Trojans, but is not as vindictive as Juno, and in Book I he rescues the Trojan fleet from the goddess’s attempts to wreck it, although his primary motivation for doing this is his annoyance at Juno’s having intruded into his domain. A hymn to Poseidon included among the Homeric Hymns is a brief invocation, a seven-line introduction that addresses the god as both “mover of the earth and barren sea, god of the deep who is also lord of Helicon and wide Aegae, and specificies his twofold nature as an Olympian: “a tamer of horses and a saviour of ships.”


[7] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 80.
[8]Modern Greek media (e.g. “The Pacific: A history full of earthquakes” Ta Nea, 2011) and scholars (e.g. Koutouzis, Vassilis Volcanoes and Earthquakes in Troizinia) do not metaphorically refer to Poseidon but instead to Enceladus, the chief of the ancient Giants, to denote earthquakes in Greece.
[9]Burkert, Walter (1985). Greek Religion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 136–39.
[10]In the 2nd century CE, a well with the name of Arne, the “lamb’s well”, in the neighbourhood of Mantineia in Arcadia, where old traditions lingered, was shown to Pausanias. (Pausanias viii.8.2.)
[11]Diodorus, v. 55.
[12]Hesiod, Theogony 456.
[13]Papyrus Oxyrrhincus FGH 148, 44, col. 2; quoted by Robin Lane Fox, Alexander the Great (1973) 1986:168 and note. Alexander also invoked other sea deities: Thetis, mother of his hero Achilles, Nereus and the Nereids
[14]Strabo, ix. p. 405; Virgil, Aeneid iii. 74, where Servius erroneously derives the name from the Aegean Sea; Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). “Aegaeus”. In Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. Boston. p. 24.
[15]Burkert, Walter (1985). Greek Religion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 136–39.
[16] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 80.

The Roman Deity/Planetary Correspondence: Neptune

KingNeptune_AThe Roman Deity and Planetary correspondence for this 23rd path is Neptune. The reason for this attribution is the same as the one explaining the attribution of Greek divinity Posseidon to this path, which is because he represents the sea.[16] Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Neptune (Latin: Neptūnus) was the god of water and the sea[17] in Roman mythology and religion. He is analogous with, but not identical to, the Greek god Poseidon. Neptune the planet was named for the Roman god of the sea, it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and the third largest by mass. Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth and is slightly more massive than its near-twin Uranus, which is 15 times the mass of Earth but not as dense. On average, Neptune orbits the Sun at a distance of 30.1 AU, approximately 30 times the Earth–Sun distance. Its astronomical symbol is ♆, a stylized version of the god Neptune’s trident. Neptune has a planetary ring system, though one much less substantial than that of Saturn. Neptune has 13 known moons. The largest by far, comprising more than 99.5 percent of the mass in orbit around Neptune and the only one massive enough to be spheroidal, is Triton, discovered by William Lassell just 17 days after the discovery of Neptune itself. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Neptune was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto, each of them presiding over one of the three realms of the universe, Heaven, Earth and the Netherworld. Depictions of Neptune in Roman mosaics, especially those of North Africa, are influenced by Hellenistic conventions.[18]The theology of Neptune may only be reconstructed to some extent as since very early times he was identified with the Greek god Poseidon, as he is present already in the lectisternium of 399 BC.[19] Such an identification may well be grounded in the strict relationship between the Latin and Greek theologies of the two deities.[20] It has been argued that Indo-European people, having no direct knowledge of the sea as they originated from inland areas, reused the theology of a deity originally either chthonic or wielding power over inland freshwaters as the god of the sea. This feature has been preserved particularly well in the case of Neptune who was definitely a god of springs, lakes and rivers before becoming also a god of the sea, as is testified by the numerous findings of inscriptions mentioning him in the proximity of such locations. Servius the grammarian also explicitly states Neptune is in charge of all the rivers, springs and waters.[21]He may find a parallel in Irish god Nechtan, master of the well from which all the rivers of the world flow out and flow back to. Poseidon on the other hand underwent the process of becoming the main god of the sea at a much earlier time, as is shown in the Iliad. In the earlier times it was the god Portunes or Fortunus who was thanked for naval victories, but Neptune supplanted him in this role by at least the first century BC when Sextus Pompeius called himself “son of Neptune.”[22] For a time he was paired with Salacia, the goddess of the salt water. Neptune was also considered the legendary progenitor god of a Latin stock, the Faliscans, who called themselves Neptunia proles. In this respect he was the equivalent of Mars, Janus, Saturn and even Jupiter among Latin tribes. Salacia would represent the virile force of Neptune.[23]The Neptunalia was the festival of Neptune on July 23, at the height of summer. The date and the construction of tree-branch shelters suggest a primitive role for Neptune as god of water sources in the summer’s drought and heat.[24]The most ancient Roman calendar set the feriae of Neptunus on July 23, two days after the Lucaria of July 19 and 21 and two days before the Furrinalia of July 25. G. Wissowa had already remarked that festivals falling in a range of three days are related to each other.Dumezil elaborated that these festivals were all in some way related to the importance of the function of water during the period of summer heat (canicula), when river and spring waters are at their lowest.Founding his analysis on the works of Palladius and Columella Dumezil argues that while the Lucaria were devoted to the dressing of woods, clearing the undergrown bushes by cutting on the 19 and then by uprooting on the 21, (and burning them afterwards), the Neptunalia were spent in outings under branch huts (umbrae, casae frondeae), in a wood between the Tiber and the Via Salaria, drinking springwater and wine to escape the heat. It looks as though this festival was a time of general free and unrestrained merrymaking during which men and women mixed without the usual Roman traditional social constraints.[25] This character of the festival as well as the fact that Neptune was offered the sacrifice of a bull would point to an agricultural fertility context.[26]Neptune had two temples in Rome. The first one built in 25 BC, stood near the Circus Flaminius, the Roman racetrack, and contained a famous sculpture of a marine group by Scopas. The second, the Basilica Neptuni, was built on the Campus Martius and dedicated by Agrippa in honour of the naval victory of Actium. [27]Neptune is one of only three Roman gods to whom it was appropriate to offer the sacrifice of bulls, the other two being Apollo and Mars.[28] The wrong offering would require a piaculum if due to inadvertency or necessity. The type of the offering implies a stricter connection between the deity and the worldly realm.[29]


[17] J. Toutain, Les cultes païens de l’Empire romain, vol. I (1905:378) securely identified Italic Neptune as a god of freshwater sources as well as the sea.
[18]Alain Cadotte, “Neptune Africain”, Phoenix 56.3/4 (Autumn/Winter 2002:330-347) detected syncretic traces of a Lybian/Punic agrarian god of fresh water sources, with the epithet Frugifer, “fruit-bearer”; Cadotte enumerated (p.332) some north African Roman mosaics of the fully characteristic Triumph of Neptune, whether riding in his chariot or mounted directly on sea-beasts.
[19]Livy v. 13.6; Dionysius of Halicarnassus 12.9; Showerman, Grant. The Great Mother of the Gods. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, 1901: p. 223.
[20] Raymond Bloch “Quelques remarques sur Poseidon, Neptunus and Nethuns” in Revue de l’Histoire des Religions 1981 p.341-352.
[21] R. Bloch “Quelques remarques sur Poseidon, Neptunus et Nethuns” in Revue de l’Histoire des Religions 1981, p.346; Servius Ad Georgicae IV 24.
[22]Fox, Robin Lane. The Classical World. Basic Books, 2006. p. 412
[23]William Warde Fowler The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic London, 1899, p. 186 n. 3 citing Servius Ad Aen. V 724; later Doctor Fowler disowned this interpretation of Salacia.
[24] C’est-à-dire au plus fort de l’été, au moment de la grande sécheresse, et qu’on y construisaient des huttes de feuillage en guise d’abris contre le soleil” (Cadotte 2002:342, noting Sextus Pompeius Festus, De verborum significatu [ed. Lindsay 1913] 519.1)
[25]Sarolta A. Takacs Vestal virgins, sibyls and matronae: women in Roman religion 2008, University of Texas Press, p. 53 f., citing Horace Carmina III 28.
[26]Macrobius Saturnalia III 10, 4
[27]Ball Platner, Samuel; Ashby, Thomas (1929), A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, “Basilica Neptuni”, London: Oxford University Press.
[28]Macrobius Saturnalia III 10,4.
[29] G. Dumezil “Quaestiunculae indo-italicae: 11. Iovi tauro verre ariete immolari non licet” Revue d’ Etudes Latins 39 1961 p. 241-250.

The Color Correspondence: Sea Green & Deep Blue

sea-greenThe color attribution for this 23rd path of the qabalistic Tree of Life is sea green.[30] The reason for those attributions is obviously their relation with the element of water and the color of the sea, which is a predominant theme in some other attributions for this path, namely the Greek and Roman deity attribution, Posseidon and Neptune, who are Sea divinities. Sea green is a shade of cyan color that resembles the sea floor as seen from the surface. Sea green is notable for being the emblematic color of the Levellers party in the politics of 1640s England.

071D69Deep blue is also coted as a color correspondence[31] for the exact same resons as sea green, which is its obvious relationship to the element of water and the sea itself. It is difficult to find documentation on this color under this name, there is no technical or even artistical information to be found, only some literary and poetic allusions. As a reference to the element of water, deep blue may be associated with Navy blue which is a color which enjoy more recognition. Navy blue is a very dark shade of the color blue which almost appears as black. Navy blue got its name from the dark blue (contrasted with white) worn by officers in the British Royal Navy since 1748 and subsequently adopted by other navies around the world. It was also worn by the Americans during some wars. When this color, taken from the usual color of the uniforms of sailors, originally came into use in the early 19th century, it was initially called marine blue, but the name of the color soon changed to navy blue.[32]The first recorded use of Navy blue as a color name in English was in 1840.[33]


[30] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 80.
[31] Stephen Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage. Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p. 55.
[32]Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York:1930 McGraw-Hill Page 168 Discussion of color Navy blue.
[33]Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York:1930 McGraw-Hill Page 103; Color Sample of Navy blue: Page 131 Plate 40 Color Sample E11.

The Magical Tool Correspondence #1: The Cup 

fvUG-v8A.BThe magical tool attribution for this 23rd path is the cup.[34] The reason behind this attribution, obviously, is the fact that the Cup is the magical tool associated with the element of water in the Western Tradition of Tarot, Alchemy and Ceremonial Magick. There are usually two essential aspects to the extensive symbolism of the chalice, that of a vessel of plenty and that of a vessel holding the draught of immortality. In the first instance chalices are often compared with the breast filled with mother’s milk. A Gallo-Roman dedicatory inscription to the goddess Flora, from Autun in France, identifies the ‘chalice from which flow grace’ with the ‘’breast from which flows the milk that nourishes the city.’[35] In thr case of the Hindu Maha-Lakshmi there is the same symbolism and the same identification, although in this instance ‘milk’ is SOMA. Israel Regardie refers to this identification between the wine in the cup and the soma in his book A Garden of Pomegranates, specifying that the cup and sacramental wine, wine which is identified to soma, the elixir or immortality,[36] is the adequate magical equipment for ceremonial on this 23rd path of the Tree of Life. This brings us back to the notion of the draught of immortality. The chalice in which the some is offered is likened to the crescent Moon, whose light is traditionaly compared with the color of the milk. The more generalized symbolism of the chalice has been applied to the medieval Grail, he vessel in which Christ’s blood was received which contains simultaneously – although at bottom they are identical – secret lore temporarily lost and draught of immortality. The chalice holds blood – the principle of life – and is therefore homologous with the heart and consequently with the center. The heart is a vessel. Etymologically the Grail is both a ‘vessel’ and a ‘book,’ thus confirming the twofold meaning of what it contains – revelation and life. There is a tradition that it was carved from the Emerald which fell from Lucifer’s forehead, and this again, relates to the Shivaite and Buddhist urna, the ‘third eye’ associated with the sense of eternity. Now, as the Zen Master Dogen writes, when a gem is polished, it becomes a vessel and the content of that vessel is the scintillation exposed by the polishing, just as illumination finds root in the heart through spiritual concentration. The Grail is also known as ‘the Vessel,’ symbol of the ship and of the Ark which holds the seeds of cyclical rebirth and the lost tradition. It is interesting to notice that the crescent Moon, whick equates to the chalice, is also a Boat. The symbolism of the Tantric skull-cup is very similar to that of the Grail. It holds blood (or sometimes tea or alcohol) and is another expression of immortality or knowledge purchased at the cost of death to this present state of existence, hence the rebirth of the initiate into a superhuman state. Some Western alchemical writings advised the use of a skull-cup in achieving the ‘Great Work’ and this clearly reveals a similar symbolism. On the other hand, the Chineese alchemists, failing in their initial attempts to distil the elixir of life, made the vessels and cups, clearly destined to contain the food and drink of immortality, from the gold obtained from their furnaces. Eucharistic chalices containing the Body and the Blood of Christ display a symbolism similar to that of the Grail, for Jesus said: “Unless you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood ye shall not have eternal life.” The communion rite for which they are used, and which makes real its potentiality for sacrifice and beatific union, belong s to many traditions and particularlyt o those Ancient China. Although predominantly a rite of binding together in, as it were, a Blood-Brotherhood, it is also a symbol of immortality. Drinking from the same cup is a common practice in Far Eastern wedding ceremonies, while in Ancient China it was the custom to drink from the two halves of the same calabash. The cup is also a cosmic symbol. The World Egg is split to form two cups facing one another, the upper one, in the image of a dome, being the sky. These two halkves provided caps for the Dioscuri. The Vedic sacrifice of the ‘division into four shinning like the day of the unique chalice of Tvashtri” by the three Ribhus describes the cosmic work of expanding the manifestation from the center to the four cardinal points. Conversely, the Buddha made one bowl out of the four begging-bowls brought to him from the four cardinal points by the four Maharajas. He restored the cosmos to its original unity. In Japan the exchange of cups (Sakazuki o Kawasu) is a symbol of faithfulness. It forms part of the wedding ceremony.[37] Gangsters exchange cups when they drink with a new recruit and, by extension, so does the manager when he engages a new subordinate.[38] In the Celtic world, a chalice filled with wine or with some other intoxicant such as beer or mead which a maiden handed to the king elect, was a symbol of sovereignty, and this is very plain in the famous tale of the Baile an Scail, ‘Town of Heroes.’ The King of Ireland, Conn, watches as a maiden of wondrous beaty hands him the chalice in the presence of the god, Lug, who prophesies that his descendants will reign for many a generation. In Christian tradition the chalice becomes confused with the Dagda’s Cauldron, with the result that the Holy Grail continues the role of the chalice of sovereignty and inherits that of the Dagda’s cauldron. The cup employed both for ritual libation and for the profane feasting has been the foundation of a fully developed symbolism in both Christian and Jewish tradition. The ‘cup of salvation’ which the Psalmist takes and offers to the Lord[39] is both a material object used in a ritual act of worship and a symbol of thanksgiving, as in the Eucharistic chalice (menaning ‘cup of thanksgiving’) or ‘cup of blessing.’[40] However, in the Bible the main emphasis is upon the cup as a symbol of human destiny, individuals being allotted their fate by God as though receiving a cup or its contents. In these circumstances the cup may overflow with blessings[41] or be filled with ‘snares, fire and brimstone,’[42] this being ‘the cup of wine of the fierceness of [God’s] Wrath.’[43]This is why the instrument ehich God employs against an individual, a people or a city may be compared with a cup.[44] When Jesus speaks of the cup which he must drink,[45] it is not simply his death to which he refres, but to the destiny which God has offered him and which he accepts in full knowledge of the divine purpose. In Muslim mystical writtings cups generally symbolize the heart, understood as intuition or the most sensitive point in the soul. Since the initiate (arif) is himself a microcosm, his heart is often compared with the chalice which belonged to Jasmshid, in which the legendary king of Persia was supposed to have been able to view the entire universe. The ‘Secrets of Hamza,’ travelled to Adam’s tomb on the island of Serendib (Sri Lanka). Here Adam himself presented him with a magic cup which enabled him to assume whatever shape he pleased. This, surely, is the symbol of the power to become whatever he wishes through the intimacy of one’s knowledge of it. In the Muslim Paradise the saints leave their staves at the door and are ushered in to drink the wine, poured into the chalice by angelic cup-bearers. Then by candlelight they are greated by a mysterious being who suddenly appears in the guise of a yong man of lofty beauty and they bow down before this shrine of the divine essence. The Cup has also a special symbolism in the occult litterature, specialy in ceremonial magick, Alchemy and in the Arcana of the Tarot. In Magick (Book 4), Part II (Magick), british occultist Aleister Crowley lists the tools required as a circle drawn on the ground and inscribed with the names of god, an altar, a wand, cup, sword, and pantacle, to represent his true will, his understanding, his reason, and the lower parts of his being respectively. In Enochian magick, the Cup is you magical weapon for use in the watchtower of Water. The Cup is a passive weapon. It represents the magician’s understanding of magic. It is feminine and can be used to counter attacks from the forces of masculine currents. It will protect the magician from most of the evil forces that lurk in the Great Western Quadrangle of Water. The cup mainly expresses the feminine or passive principle. It represents the world of feelings, compassion, and receptivity. The cup represents happiness, love, beauty, and righteousness. It is the subconscious or the soul. The feelings of loss and grief find expression here. Cup energy lives in the world of feelings. It is receptive. It listens to the inner voice. It expresses a deep happiness of the heart. In nature, it is renewal and productivity. It is the place sexuality is birthed. It is the sensuous expression of life, as in a soft flowing landscape of hill covered in wildflowers. Feelings come to the surface in order to allow nature to take its course. The cup’s truth is to be what it is, when and how it wants to show itself. This energy is compassionate with a basic optimistic outlook. To sum up the path the cup energy takes: All things are flowing and my toughness is subdued.


[34] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 80.
[35] Chevalier, Jean (1997). The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Penguin. p. 177.
[36] In India, soma was made from a plant prized for its exhilarating effects. The deity, Soma, was known as the “god of bliss,” “master of plants,”and the “elixir of the gods.”
[37] Chevalier, Jean (1997). The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Penguin. p. 179.
[38] Chevalier, Jean (1997). The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Penguin. p. 179.
[39] The Bible, Psalm 116:13.
[40] The Bible, 1 Corinthians 10:16.
[41] The Bible, Psalms 23:5.
[42] The Bible, Psalms 11:16.
[43] The Bible, Revelation 16:19.
[44] The Bible, Jeremiah 51:7; Zechariash 12:2.

The Magical Tool Correspondence #2: The Cross

crossssssssSome qabalists name the cross as a magical tool correspondencefor this 23th path of the Tree of Life.[46]The cross is one of the most ancient human symbols, and is used by many religions, such as Christianity. There is evidence of the cross as a symbol from the remotest ages, in Egypt, China and in Crete, where a cross dating from the fifteenth century BC has been discovered. The cross is the third of the four basic symbols; the others being the centre, the circle and the square, and it provide a link between the other three. By the intersection of two right anglrd at the centre, it opens the latter to the external world; when drawn within a circle, it divides it into four segments; and its gives birth to the square and the triangle when its four ends are joined by right-angles. From these simple factors a highly complex symbolism derives, and they have fathered a language which is both universal and extremely rich.[47] The word cross comes ultimately from Latin crux, a Roman torture device used for crucifixion, via Old Irish cros. The word was introduced to English in the 10th century as the term for the instrument of the torturous execution of Jesus as described in the New Testament, gradually replacing the earlier word rood.It is not known when the first cross image was made; after circles, crosses are one of the first symbols drawn by children of all cultures. Like the square, the cross symbolizes Earth, but it expresses aspects of intervention, dynamism and the rarefied. The cross in a large part share the same symbolism as the number four, and in particular what relates to an interplay of relationships within the number four and the square. The cross is above all other symbols the one that creates totality.[48] It is frequently a representation of the division of the world into four elements or cardinal points, or alternately as the union of the concepts of divinity, the vertical line, and the world, the horizontal line.[49] It is considered to be the foundation of all symbols or orientation on every plane of human existence. Consequently the cross performs a function of synthesis and mesurement. In it heaven and Earth are joined. In it time and space are intermingled. The cross is the unbroken umbilical cord of the cosmos, linking it to the centre from which it sprang. Among all known symbols the cross is by far the most universal and all embracing. It symbolizes intervention, mediation, the natural and permanent structure of the universe and communication between Heaven and Earth and Earth and Earth and Heaven. The cross is the major channel of communication. Its limits, prescibes and measures out holy ground, such as temples; it delinates town square; it crosses fields and where its two arms meet it marks out crossroads. At such central points altars, stones or poles are erected. Although centripedal, its powers are centrifugal: it makes explicit the mystery of the centre. It is diffusion, emanation, but also concentration, in-gathering. The cross also possesses the qualities of an ascentional symbol. A medieval German riddle-book asks which is the tree of which the roots are Hell and the top at the throne of God and which enfolds the world in its branches. The answer to this question is the Cross. In Eastern legends, the cross is the bridge of ladder by which human souls climb toward God. In some version the cross has seven notches in it like the cosmic trees representing the seven heavens. There are many cross-shaped incisions in European cult caves, dating back to the earliest stages of human cultural development in the stone age. Like other symbols from this period, their use continued in the Celtic and Germanic cultures in Europe. For example, celtic coins minted many centuries before the Christian era may have an entire side showing this type of cross, sometimes with the cardinal points marked by concave depressions in the same style as in Stone Age carvings. Other coins may be showing the cross held by a rider on a horse and springing a fern leaf, sometimes identified as a Tree of Life symbol. The Christian tradition has used the Cross to express not simply the suffering of the Messiah, but also his presence, for where the Cross is, there is the cruscified. The cross has become a symbol a symbol of the church hierarchy. Its continuing development in the world of symbols turned the Cross into the Paradise of the Elect, and a 1491 illustrated edition of Dante depict the Cross set in a starry sky and filled with the blessed in adoration.[50] The cross has now become the symbol of eternal glory, of glory acquired by sacrifice and culminating in ecstatic bliss. In Jewish and Christian traditions, the sign of the Cross belongs to primitive initiation ceremonies. The Christian Cross is prefigured in the Old Testament by the doorposts and lintels of the Children of Israel being marked with the blood of the Passover lamb in the sign of the cross. The lamb itself was roasted on two spits crosswise to each other. The cross encapsulates the creation and haws a cosmic meaning. This is why, when writing of Christ and his cruscifixion, St Ireanaeus should remark: “He came among us in visible shape to what was his and he was made flesh and nailed to the Cross whereby he took the Universe to himself.”[51] Thus the Cross became the pole of the world, as St Cyril of Jerusalem states: “God stretched out his arms upon the Cross to embrace the furthest bounds of earth and this is why the hill of Golgotha became the pole of the world.”[52]St Gregory of Nyssa was to speak of the cruscifixion as a cosmic happening.[53] Lactantius was to write: “God in his suffering opened his arms and embraced the circle of the world.”[54] Medieval writers took up from the Fathers the theme of the cosmic Cross which St Augustine has also developed.[55] The cross is present in the natural world. A man with his arms stretched symbolizes the cross, as do birds flying, the ship with its mast and the ploughman’s tool. Thus, in his Apologia, St Justin lists all that bears the image of the cross. His list of hidden crosses, cruces dissimulatae, includes plough, anchors, tridents, ship’s masts and yards, swastikas.[56] The cross becomes one of the basic themes of the Old Testament. It is the Tree of Life,[57] Wisdom,[58] the wood of Noah’s Ark, the rod with which Moses struck water from the rock, the pole on which the brazen serpent hung or the planted beside running water. In its turn, the Tree of Life symbolizes the wood of the cross, hence the expression used by the Latin Church sacramentum ligni vitae (sacrament of the wood of life). Barnabé lists all the prefiguration of the cross in the Old Testament. One ought, however, always to draw a distinction between the cross; the instrument of torture on which Christ suffered, and the glorious Cross which should be viewed in an eschatological sense. The glorious Cross, the Cross of the Second Coming which will be seen when Christ returns, is the sign of the Son of Man, sign of the Risen Christ. In the theology of redemption, again, the Cross is the symbol of the ramsom demanded by justice and the hook which stopped the Devil’s mouth and prevented him from continuing his work.[59] St Bonaventure, too, likens Christ’s Cross to the Tree of Life. “The Cross is a Tree of beauty, consecrated by the blood of Christ; it is full of all fruits.” There is an old belief that the wood of the True Cross restored the dead to life. It owed this privilege to the fact that the Cross was fashioned from the wood of the Tree of Life which stood in the Garden of Eden. In any explanation of the Celtic cross one must return to the symbolism of the cross in general. However, since the Celteic cross is drawn within a circle from which its arms protrude, it joins the symbolism of the circle with that of the cross. One might add the symbiolism of the centre as well. In Irish crosses, it is possible to see the Christianisation of Celtic symbols. The four arms display the division of the four elements – Air, Earth, Fire and Water – with their traditional humors – hot, dry, moist and cold. They coincide with the division of Ireland into four provinces, with a fifth in the middle made up of land taken from each of the other four.There were also the Four Masters, traditional analysts who corresponds to the four Evangelists, and St-Patrick’s surname. Coithrige, ‘Servant of the Four’. The two axes of the cross call to mind once more the flow of time and the four cardinal points, and the circle the cycles of manifestation. However, the center, in which time and space cease to exist and there is no change of any sort, is a place of passage or communication between this world and the Otherworld. It is a navel stone, a breaking point of time and space. The close correspondence between ancient Celtic concepts and esoteric Christian data lead one to believe that for the Irisn the Carolingian era, the cross-in-a-circle represented a close and perfect synthesis of Christianity and Celtic tradition. Although in Asia the cross does not ebar that wealth of mysticism which it carries in the Christian world, it is nonetheless extremely important. These few lines would be quite insificient to comprehend the vast symbolism of the cross upon which whole books have been written. Fundamentally, however, that symbolism is based upon the fact that the cross comprises an intersection of two directional lines which may be viewed in different ways, out from that center. The vertical axis may be viewed as a line linking together a whole hierarchy of orders or planes of being, the horizontal axis as the expansion of being to a predetermined degree. Additionally the horizontal axis may represent purusha, the active celestial component; and the horizontal axis may represent the surface of the waters, upon which the components acts and which corresponds to prakrti, the passive universal their intersection with the polar axis. This gives a three-dimensional cross which determines the six directions of space. The directional cross which divides the circle into four segments is the intermediary between the circle and the square, Heaven and Earth, and is therefore the symbol of the intermediate world and also of Universal man in the Chinese Triad. According to de St-Martin, is the emblem of the centre, of fire, of the intellect and of the First Cause. The centre of the cross, the point at which divergent directions converge and where balance is achieved, effectively corresponds to ‘the void in the centre’, with the ‘non-active action at the center’, the Doctrine of the Mean (Chung Yung). In view of the fact that a cross within a circle is effectively a wheel, the cross is also the symbol of radiation from the center, be it solar or divine. Because it signifies the whole of space, in China the cross represents the figure ten, which contains all the one-digit numbers. A central vertical cross is another symbol for the world axis, expressed by an orb surmounted by a polar cross, an imperial symbol which alchemists identifies with the furnace of regeneration. Nor should the crusciform plan of Christian churches and Hindu temples, be forgotten. There the apse corresponds with with the head, the transepts with the arms, the nave with the body and legs and the high altar (or lingam) with rhe heart. Abu Ya’qub Sejestani attached a very special esoteric meaning to the symbolism of the cross, identifying its four arms with the four words of the Shahada, or Muslim profession of faith. The African art provides many example of crusciform motifs made up either by straight lines or in the shape of manioc leaves, and these contain a wealth of meaning. In the first place, the cross has cosmic significance, as its totality, since it indicates the cardinal points. When there is a circle at the end of each of its arms, it symbolizes the Sun and its daily course, while the Bamum symbol for a king was a cross with arcs at the end of the arms. As the crossroads, it depicts the paths of life and death and is the image of human fate. The milk-whisk of the Fulani is crusciform and should they accidentally spill any milk, they dip their fingers in the drops of the pool and make the sign of the cross with it on their bodies. Bantu tribes from Kasai (Congo, Lulua, Baluba) think of the world as an arrangement of cross and spiral. The vertical axis of this cross links the Earth and the Highest Heaven, where the Supreme Deity resides. He himself sits at the centre of a cross on the arms of which dwell the Four Spirits, higher beings who are his judges. The horizontal axis links the world of the good spirits (in the east) with that of the evil spirits (in the west). The centre of this primeval cross is at the crossroads of the Milky Way where, having crossed a bridge, the souls of the dead are judged and then dispatched according to their desert either to the left or to the right (west or east). Spirits and Souls proceed from one to another of these four primeval levels in a spiritual path. This archetypal structure dictates the architectural arrangement of huts and meeting-places as well as the hierarchical relationship between individual members of a family or a group. Thus within the family kraal the husband’s hut stands at the centre of a cross, on the arm of which are set in order of seniority, north, south, east and west, the huts of his four wives. Similarly in the forest clearings where the secret societies meet, the four senior initiates take their places round a central point which is the position of the invisible, all-powerful chief, this central point being where the arms of a cross intersect amd equally from where a spiral being. A cross tattooed on the skin or worn in wood or metal symbolizes both the cardinal points and the four paths across the universe leading to the dwellings of the Spirits (sky or north), humans (downwards or south), good souls (east) and evil souls (west). The cross is above all the symbol of space encopmpassed in its totatlity. As a symbol, the cross is a marrage of opposites which must be compared with the kua [marriage of yin and yang] as well as with teetraktys of the Pythagoreans. This symbolism is particularly strongly felt in Ancient Mexican mythic tradition. The cross was the symbol of the world in its totality and of the central thread which bound the year together. When the ancient cribes attempted to depict the world they set four blank spaces round a central point in the shape of a Greek or Malthese cross. Better still, Mexican mythology provides, as it were, a full range of symbolic colour under this sign of the cross. First, in the centre, the fire-god Xiuhtechutli sits beside the universal hearth. Being a place of synthesis, this centre has a dual aspect, ominous and fortunate. Then, in the Codex Borgia, this central point is depicted as a multicoloured tree, and on its top sits a quetzal, bird of the east, while the tree itself springs from an Earth-goddess, symbol of the west. Furthermore, this cosmic tree is flanked on one side by the great god Quetzalcoatl, the god of the other side by Macuilxochitl, god of the dawn, of Spring and of sports, music, dancing and love. The American Indian regarded the Latin cross as much the Tree of Life as did the European, sometimes depicted in its simple geometrical shape, famous Plenque cross. In the Codex Ferjérvary-Mayer, each of the cardinal points is depicted as a cross surmounted by a bird. In some codices the Tree of Life is shaped like a cross of Lorraine, bearing upon its horizontal arms seven flowers clearly representing the god of the fields. In other examples the seveenfolds deity is represented by six flowers and the Sun-bird in the middle of the sky. AT the end of his study of the significance of the cardinal points to the Ancient Mexicans, Soustelle was able to state that the cross is the symbol of the world in its totality.


[45] The Bible, Mathew 20:22ff.
[46] Stephen Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage. Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p. 55.
[47]Chevalier, Jean (1997). The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Penguin. p. 248.
[48]Chevalier, Jean (1997). The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Penguin. p. 248.
[49]Koch, Rudolf (1955). The Book of Signs. Dover, NY.
[50]Dante, Paradisio, 14.
[51]St Ireanaeus, Adversus haereses, 5:18,3.
[52]St Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis, 13:28.
[53] See St Gregory of Nyssa, Oratio de ressurectione.
[54] Lactantius, Divinae intitutiones 4:26,36.
[55] St Augustine, De Genesi ad Litteram, 8:4-5.
[56] St Justin, Apologia 1:55.
[57] The Bible, Genesis 2 :9.
[58] The Bible, Proverbs 3:18.
[59]J. Rivière, Le Dogme de la Rédemption, Paris, 1948, pp.231ff.

The Animal Correspondence #1: Eagle

eagleThe triad Eagle, Snake & Scorpion is attributed to the 23rd path of the Tree of Life. Israel Regardie, in his book, A Garden of Pomegrenate, explains how the combination of those three animal attributions must be understood. The so-called Kerubs of Water attributed to this path are the eagle, snake, and scorpion, he tells us, representing respectively, the unredeemed man, his magical force, and his final “salvation.”[60] The Kerubs of Water are assigned to this element because water is the only element that can transform from a liquid to a solid or a gas. The scorpion, a lower life form, is considered here as an archetypal symbol of the lower animal nature of man. The serpent, a symbol of wisdom, represents the magical force. The eagle is a symbol of the higher nature of man and water in the highest state of purity.[61]


[60] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 80.
[61] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 92, Note 43.
[62] The Bible, Eph. 2:1-7; Col. 2:13-15.
[63] The Bible, Gen. 3:15.

The Animal Correspondence #1:  Snake

Serpent-The snake, when taken in the context of the eagle, snake and scorpion triad, symbolises “Wisdom and the magical force”[64] of the adept. In the wild, Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales. Living snakes are found on every continent except Antarctica (and other polar regions), some large islands such as Ireland, New Zealand, and many small islands of the Atlantic and central Pacific.[65] Fifteen families are currently recognized, comprising 456 genera and over 2,900 species. They range in size from the tiny, 10 cm-long thread snake to the Reticulated python of up to 8.7 meters (29 ft) in length.[66] Snakes are thought to have evolved from either burrowing or aquatic lizards during the mid-Cretaceous period, and the earliest known fossils date to around 112 Ma ago. The diversity of modern snakes appeared during the Paleocene period (c 66 to 56 Ma ago). Most species are nonvenomous and those that have venom use it primarily to kill and subdue prey rather than for self-defense. Some possess venom potent enough to cause painful injury or death to humans. Nonvenomous snakes either swallow prey alive or kill by constriction. Swift as lightning, the serpent streaks from the dark mouth of some crevice or cranny to vomit life and death, before returning again to invisibility. The sound of a hiss or rattle, notice the unwary wanderer of the snake’s presence and sometimes an ominous warning, strikes terror in many. The serpent is a very strange creature indeed. Possessing some of the most curious internal anatomical structure,[67] it smells with its flickering forked tongue, it hears through its skin and is particularly sensitive to low-frequency vibrations and tremblings of the earth, linking it with secret, subterranean, oracular mysteries of knowledge. The snake sees through lidless eyes covered by transparent scale, never blinking, “evoking a supernatural vigilance,”[68] like the cobra protectively encircling the brow of the Egyptian Pharaoh, or the eye of the unconscious psyche that sees where the consciousness cannot, or the mesmerizing eye of the legendary hero, or the unflinching eye of death. When the snake withdraw to shed its skin, signifying renewal, rebirth and immortality, the eye scale becomes milky, sometimes taking on an ethereal misty blue cast as though the serpent is entering a meditative state and has access to a wisdom beyond our ken. Heat-sensitive infrared radar allows some species of snake to track their prey unerringly in the dark. Many species of snakes have skulls with many more joints than their lizard ancestors, enabling them to swallow prey much larger than their heads with their highly mobile jaws. The jaw of the python unhinges, allowing it to ingest whole prey many time its size. These uncanny feats associate the snake with the relkentless, death-dealing aspect of nature or with the instinctual psyche and its “sudden and unexpected manifestations, its painful and dangerous interventions in our affairs and its frightening effects.” The serpent does not depict an archetype but an archetypal complex, linked to the freezing, clammy, subterranean darkness of the beginning of all things.[69] This primordial something, this lowest layer of life, where dwells the snake, seems to be the weel-spring, potentiality, from which all manifestation derives. Nethermost Life seems to be reflected in daylight consciousness in the form of a snake, as indeed the Chaldeans had but one word for Serpent and Life. René Guenon makes the same observation:”Serpent symbolism is, in fact, linked to the notion of life itself.[70] In Arabic the word for “serpent” is el-hayyah, and that for “life”, el-hayat, adding, and this is of prime importance, that El-Hay, one of the principal names of God, should not be translated as “the Living”, but as “the Life-giving”, the one who bestows life or who is the principle of life itself. The serpent which we see should, therefore, be regarded simply as a fleeting incarnation of a Great Invisible Serpent, causal and a-temporal, lord of the life-principle and of the powers of nature. The serpent is an ‘Old God’, the first god to be found at the start of all cosmogenesis before religions of the spirit dethroned him. He created life and sustained it. On a human level he is the dual symbol of soul and libido. The serpent is one of the most important archetypes of the human soul, wrote Bachelard.[71] The snake’s gender is determined by the temperature of its surroundings during gestation. Males have split hemipenes, a forked penis, and females have a split clitoris, relating these parts to the tomgue and the imagery of paradisal seduction and the creative word as well as sexuality. Its unmistakable phallic shape combined with its habit of copulating for days or even weeks, either with one snake or with fifthy, has identified the snake with active, penetrating phallic energy, fertility and potency.[72] In a more direct kind of imagery, the ancient observed long ago that “the erect phallus of the human mirrors the raised head of the snake,”[73] maybe this is one of the reasons why, since immemorial times, they have considered the serpent as emblematic of the primordial life force. In Tantrism the serpent is the kundalini, coiled round the base of the spinal column, on the sleep-state chakra, ‘its mouth closes the urethral meatus.’[74] When the serpent awakes, hisses and stiffens, ascent through the successive chakra takes place. This is the rising tide of the libido, the fresh manifestation of life. From the macrocosmic viewpoint, the kundalini’s equivalent is the serpent Ananta which wraps its coils round the base of the World Axis. Ananta is associated with Vishnu and Shiva and symbolizes crystal expansion and contraction, but as a guardian of the nadir, he carries the world, a pile of sunk into the head of the subterranean Naga, one geomancy has established where it lies. The mythical animal that carries the world are usually the elephant, the tortoise, the bull or the crocodile but most of the time they are only surrogates of the serpent in its original role. This makes perfect sense since the Sanskrit word Naga means both serpent and elephant.[75] In the same vein, it seems that this association serpent-elephant may be compared with the like minded equivalence of serpent and tapir in the Maya-Quiché world picture.[76] These ‘animal powers’ are very often depicted by their heads at the end of a serpent’s body, or they may themselves be supported by a serpent. In every instance, they stand for the terrestrial aspects, that is the strength and aggression of the manifestation of the great god of darkness who, throughout the world, is a serpent. There are two ways of sustaining something. It may either be carried, or enfolded by creating an unbroken circle round it to prevent its falling apart. This second role is filled, once again by the serpent biting its tail, the Ouroboros. In this context, the circumpherence complements the centre so as to suggest Nicolas of Cusa’s notion of God himself. The ouroboros is also the symbol of cyclical manifestation and return, sexual auto-intercourse, perpetual self-fertilization (as the tail penetrating the mouth would indicate), continuous transformation of death into life, since it’s fangs inject their poison into its own body; or in bachelard’s words, it is ‘the material dialectic of life and death, death springing from life and life from death’. While it conjures up the image of the Circle, it is predominantly the circle’s dynamism, that is, the first Wheel, apparently motionless because it revolves on its own axis, but with perpetual motion since it is continuously self-renewed. Universal life-giver, the ouroboros provides the motive power, not only of life, but of time, creating both within itself. It is often depicted in the shape of a twisted chain, its liks the hours. Setting the stars in motion, it is also the first representation and mother of the Zodiac. An old symbol of an Old God of Nature dethroned by the spirit, the outboros remained a power cosmographic and geographic deity and, as such, was carved round the edges of the earliest Black African imago mundi, the Benin Disc.[77] Its sinuosities frame all things, bringing together opposites, the primeval oceans on which floats the square shape of the Earth.


[64] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 80.
[65](Edited by) Bauchot, Roland (1994). Snakes: A Natural History. New York City, NY, USA: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.. pp. 220.
[66]Mehrtens, JM (1987). Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York City, NY, USA: Sterling Publishers. pp. 480;Murphy; Henderson, JC; RW (1997). Tales of Giant Snakes: A Historical Natural History of Anacondas and Pythons. Florida, USA: Krieger Pub. Co. pp. 221.
[67]To accommodate their narrow bodies, snakes’ paired organs (such as kidneys) appear one in front of the other instead of side by side, and most have only one functional lung.
[68] A. Rosenberg, K. Martin (2010), The Book of Symbols. Reflection on Archetypal Images. p. 194.
[69] A. Rosenberg, K. Martin (2010), The Book of Symbols. Reflection on Archetypal Images. p. 194.
[70]Réné Guenon (1962), Symbole Fondamentaux de la Science Sacrée, Paris, p. 159.
[71] Gaston Bachelard (1948), Terre et les Rêveries du Repos, p. 212.
[72] Stutesman, Drake (2005), Snake, London, p. 11ff.
[73] A. Rosenberg, K. Martin (2010), The Book of Symbols. Reflection on Archetypal Images. p. 194.
[74] Gilbert Durand (1963), Les Structures Anthropologiques de l’Imaginaire, Paris, p.343.
[75] Krappe, Alexandre, H. (1952), La Genèse des Mythes, Paris, p.193.
[76] Girard, Raphael (1954), Le Popol-Vuh, Histoire Culturelle des Maya-Quiché, Paris, p.267ff.
[77] Frobenius, Léo (1936), Histoire de la Civilisation Africaine, translated by Dr. H. Back and D. Ermont, Paris, p.147-148.

The Animal Correspondence #3:Scorpion

Emporer Scorpion (Pandinus imperator).In the context of this 23rd path, the scorpion is taken here as the final salvation of the undeemed man. As the last term of the eagle-snake-scorpion triad, as representing a final stage of a process of spiritual evolution, the scorpion must be interpreted here as a symbol of repentance and self-mastery. In the wild, Scorpions are predatory arthropod animals of the order Scorpiones within the class Arachnida. They have eight legs and are easily recognized by the pair of grasping claws and the narrow, segmented tail, often carried in a characteristic forward curve over the back, ending with a venomous stinger. Scorpions range in size from 9 mm (Typhlochactas mitchelli) to 21 cm (Hadogenes troglodytes).[78]Scorpions are found widely distributed over all continents, except Antarctica, in a variety of terrestrial habitats except the high latitude tundra. Scorpion numbers about 1,752 described species, with 13 extant families recognised to date. Though the scorpion has a fearsome reputation as venomous, only about 25 species are known to have venom capable of killing a human being.[79]Since the earliest times the scorpion has embodied the bridging of fluid depths and firmer ground. Older that the dinausaur or the spider, and physically almost unchanged to present day. The oldest known scorpions lived around 430 million years ago in the Silurian period, on the bottom of shallow tropical seas. This marine descendant, because of its horny exosqueleton, was able to make the evolutionary shift from sea-dweller to land creature without fatal water loss. The scorpion is a resillient creature that is able to bear extreme environmental conditions; like their ancestral marine cousin, they are able to undergo the must radical and drastic changes and survive the most painful transitions. In pre-colonial South America, the scorpion was a Mayan God of hunting and was used in their hieroglyphic as a symbol of repentance and also of surgical blood-letting.[80] The Dogons, too, associate it with surgical operations.[81] In Egypt, this dangerous insect’s shape was was used for one of the oldest hieroglyphics and its name was borne by one of the pre-dynastic kings, ‘King Scorpion’. In ancient Egypt the goddess Serket was often depicted as a scorpion, one of several goddesses who protected the Pharaoh. Some of the Pharoah’s Sceptres were tipped by scorpions with the head of Isis. Divin honours were paid to the insect in the shape of the goddess Selket, a fundamentally benevolent person in as much as she gave power over earthly manifestations to the Charmers of Selket, an ancient body of sorcerer-healers.[82] Incarnate in the scorpion mother that takes her newborns onto her back and carries them until their first molgting, Selket represents the capacity to survive transitions of a fundamental nature. Selket is known as the one who gives us breath; hers is the gift of immortality. The bronze from the New Kingdom portrays her as a sphinx, in Egypt a figure of benevolence and protection. Her tail, ending in a venomous stinger, is raised, warding off ennemies. Her human arms are outstreached to receive the setting sun, mediating its descent into the underworld from which it will emerge, renewed, at daybreak. With her companion goddess Isis, Nephthys and Neith, Selket guards the coffins of the dead and the canopic jars containing their vital organs. Yet Selket is also associated with the scorching sun and the desolation of the wilderness. The Mayans depicted their god of war and the Christians their devil as having the fiery scorpion tail, evoking in the one case physical death, and in the other, spiritual demise, treachery and subversions of consciousness into occult domains of fascination and compulsion. Shakespeare’s Macbeth, poisoned by murderous ambitions, laments, “Oh full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife.”[83] The legendary scorpion of Mal asserts “I am a creature which brings death to whatever touches me.”[84] By nature scorpions are solitary, nocturnal and fossorial, finding shelter during the day in the relative cool of underground holes or undersides of rocks and coming out at night to hunt and feed. Scorpions exhibit photophobic behavior, primarily to evade detection by their predators such as birds, centipedes, lizards, mice, possums, and rats. They are nocturnal hunter and fierce opponents, their mouthparts flaked by a pair of pedipalps ending in pincers, with which the scorpion seizes and teear apart or crushes its prey, and then suck the body juices. Scorpions are opportunistic predators of small arthropods, although the larger kinds have been known to kill small lizards and mice. Depending on the toxicity of their venom and size of their claws, they will then either crush the prey or inject it with neurotoxic venom. Weapon of last resort, at the tip of the scorpion’s segmented tail are two venom glands into a string and surrounded by muscles, contracting, they force poison into the victim. This will kill or paralyze the prey so the scorpion can eat it. In general, it is fast-acting, allowing for effective prey capture. It is also used as a defense against predators. Scorpions can only ingest food in a liquid form; they have external digestion. The digestive juices from the gut are egested onto the food and the digested food sucked in liquid form. Any solid indigestible matter (fur, exoskeleton, etc.) is trapped by setae in the pre-oral cavity, which is ejected by the scorpion.[85]But if the scorpion represents death’s string, it also attests to the endless renewal embedded in endless death, making it one of the most ancient emblems of the Great Mother and her round. Like psyche transforming its primal matter – poison, antidote and panacea, self-destroying and self-healing – the scorpion mythically “slay itself with its own dart” and brings itself back to life again Alchemy’s opus engages scorpion energies in its “rending” and “recollection.” Seals and cylinders, some of extraordinary antiquity, portray scorpions protecting the birthing Great Mother of Ur, or surrounding the rosette of Summerian Inanna. The Indian scorpion goddess Chamunda is one of the seven companions of demon-slaying Durga. Seven helpful scorpions accompagny Isis in her search for the scattered parts of Osiris. Greek Artemis was imagined to have set a scorpion in eternal pursuit of the arrogant and seductive Orion. The mating dance of scorpions beautifully evokes the proximity of fruitfulness and annihilation associated with the Great Mother’s creature. The male hold the female with pedipalps or pincers, their tails erect and sometimes intertwined. Leading or forcing her backward and sideways, he position her so that she takes his sperm packet into her genital orifice; the mating act completed, she often devour him. One of earliest occurrences of the scorpion in culture is its inclusion, as Scorpio, in the twelve signs of the series of constellations known as the Zodiac by Babylonian astronomers during the Chaldean period.[86]Equaly dichotomous as his animal counterpart, Scorpio, as the eighth sign of the zodiac, is dominant as autumn moves into winter. Assigned to the element water, fixed, ruled by Mars and identified with the genitals, Scorpio is associated with the wine harvest and the final distillation of the grape, with forces of fertility, intoxication, power, sexuality, degradation and transmutation. Seeking the darkness, the scorpion signifies the penetration of psyche’s Plutonian depths, full of riches and dangers. In North Africa and South Asia, the scorpion is a significant animal culturally which appears as a motif in art, especially in Islamic art in the Middle East.[87] It is perceived both as an embodiment of evil as well as a protective force which counters evil, such as a dervish’s powers to combat evil. In another context, the scorpion portrays human sexuality. Scorpions are used in folk medicine in South Asia especially in antidotes for scorpion stings. Alchemy projected on the scorpion the baleful sting of latent, unearted desires resulting in hellish dramas of self-loss as well as processes of integration. All this is essential to the mysteries of death and rebirth, letting go and becoming, for which the scorpion is ancienly famous. Thus, the alchemists are said to have celebrated “scorpion time,” when base metals turned into gold. And if, in reality, the scorpion concerns itself with such an endeavor, symbolically there is no other so well-equiped to mother it.


[78] Edward E. Ruppert, Richard S. Fox, Robert D. Barnes (2004). Invertebrate Zoology. Brooks/Cole.
[79]Gary A. Polis (1990). The Biology of Scorpions. Stanford University Press.
[80]Chevalier, Jean (1997). The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Penguin. p. 836.
[81] More specifically the removal of the clitoris.
[82] Posener, G., Sauneron, S. & Yoyotte, J. (1962), A Dictionary of Egyptian Civilization, translated by Alix Mcfarlane, London, p. 254.
[83] Shakespeare, MacBeth, 3.2.43.
[84] DoS, p. 835. The Book of Symbol, p. 218.
[85]Gary A. Polis (1990). The Biology of Scorpions. Stanford University Press. p. 296-297.
[86]Gary A. Polis (1990). The Biology of Scorpions. Stanford University Press. p. 462.
[87]Jürgen Wasim Frembgen (2004). “The scorpion in Muslim folklore” Asian Folklore Studies (Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture) 63 (1): 95–123.

The Sacred Plant Correspondence: Lotus & Water Plants


plant-types-water-plants-waAll water plants and the lotus are proper correspondence.

The Precious Stone Correspondence: Aquamarine or Beryl

berylThe precious stone attribution for this Twenty-fifth path is Aquamarine or beryl.[88] The reason for this attribution certainly has something to do with the color of the gems. The mineral beryl is a beryllium aluminium cyclosilicate. The hexagonal crystals of beryl may be very small or range to several meters in size. Terminated crystals are relatively rare. Pure beryl is colorless, but it is frequently tinted by impurities; possible colors are green, blue, yellow, red, and white. The name beryl is derived (via Latin: beryllus, Old French: beryl, and Middle English: beril) from Greek βήρυλλος beryllos which referred to a “precious blue-green color-of-sea-water stone” and originated from Prakrit veruliya (वॆरुलिय‌) and Pali veḷuriya (वेलुरिय); veḷiru (भेलिरु) or, viḷar (भिलर्), “to become pale”; ultimately from Sanskrit वैडूर्य vaidurya-, which is of Dravidian origin, maybe from the name of Belur. The term was later adopted for the mineral beryl more exclusively. The Late Latin word berillus was abbreviated as brill- which produced the Italian word brillare meaning “shine”, the French word brille meaning “shine” and the English word brilliance. Beryl of various colors is found most commonly in granitic pegmatites, but also occurs in mica schists in the Ural Mountains, and limestone in Colombia. Beryl is often associated with tin and tungsten ore bodies. As of 1999, the largest known crystal of any mineral in the world is a crystal of beryl from Madagascar, 18 meters long and 3.5 meters in diameter.[89]

aquamarine-gemstoneAquamarine (from Latin: aqua marina, “water of the sea”) is a blue or turquoise variety of beryl. It occurs at most localities which yield ordinary beryl. The gem-gravel placer deposits of Sri Lanka contain aquamarine. Clear yellow beryl, such as that occurring in Brazil, is sometimes called aquamarine chrysolite. The deep blue version of aquamarine is called maxixe. Its color fades to white when exposed to sunlight or is subjected to heat treatment, though the color returns with irradiation. The pale blue color of aquamarine is attributed to Fe2+. The Fe3+ ions produce golden-yellow color, and when both Fe2+ and Fe3+ are present, the color is a darker blue as in maxixe. Decoloration of maxixe by light or heat thus may be due to the charge transfer Fe3+ and Fe2+.[90] Dark-blue maxixe color can be produced in green, pink or yellow beryl by irradiating it with high-energy particles (gamma rays, neutrons or even X-rays).[91] In the United States, aquamarines can be found at the summit of Mt. Antero in the Sawatch Range in central Colorado. In Wyoming, aquamarine has been discovered in the Big Horn Mountains, near Powder River Pass. In Brazil, there are mines in the states of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, and Bahia, and minorly in Rio Grande do Norte. The Mines of Colombia, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya also produce aquamarine. The largest aquamarine of gemstone quality ever mined was found in Marambaia, Minas Gerais, Brazil, in 1910. It weighed over 110 kg, and its dimensions were 48.5 cm (19 in) long and 42 cm (17 in) in diameter.[92]


[88] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 80; Stephen Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage. Kabbalistic Meditations of the Tarot, p.53.
[89]G. Cressey and I. F. Mercer (1999), Crystals, London, Natural History Museum.
[90]Ibragimova, E. M.; Mukhamedshina, N. M.; Islamov, A. Kh. (2009). “Correlations between admixtures and color centers created upon irradiation of natural beryl crystals”. Inorganic Materials 45 (2): 162; Viana, R. R.; Da Costa, G. M.; De Grave, E.; Stern, W. B.; Jordt-Evangelista, H. (2002). “Characterization of beryl (aquamarine variety) by Mössbauer spectroscopy”. Physics and Chemistry of Minerals 29: 78;Blak, Ana Regina; Isotani, Sadao; Watanabe, Shigueo (1983). “Optical absorption and electron spin resonance in blue and green natural beryl: A reply”. Physics and Chemistry of Minerals 9 (6): 279.
[91] K. Nassau (1976). “The deep blue Maxixe-type color center in beryl”. American Mineralogist 61: 100.
[92]Schumann, Walter (2009). Gemstones of the World. Sterling Publishing Co.. p. 110.

The Perfume Correspondence #1: Onycha

benzoinThe perfume attribution for the Twenty-Fifth path of the qabalistic Tree of Life are Onycha and Myrrh.[93] Onycha (Greek: ονυξ), along with equal parts of stacte, galbanum, and frankincense, was one of the components of the consecrated Ketoret (incense) which appears in the Torah book of Exodus[94] and was used in the Jerusalem’s Solomon’s Temple. This formula was to be incorporated as an incense, and was not to be duplicated for non-sacred use.[95] What the onycha of antiquity actually was cannot be determined with certainty. The book of Eccesiasticus (Sirach) alludes to the sacred incense speaking of “a pleasant odour like the best myrrh, as galbanum, and onyx, and sweet storax, and as the fume of frankincense in the tabernacle.”[96] The storax of antiquity was styrax. Interestingly the writer refers to “onyx” as opposed to “onycha” while referencing styrax as part of the formula. Styrax benzoin may have been the concrete carrier for the liquid myrrh called stacte. Onycha may have been labdanum. Since myrrh was often mixed with labdanum, throughout many centuries benzoin and labdanum may have inadvertently switched places in the formula. The possibility exists that the onycha of Exodus 30 was labdanum while the onycha of the second Temple was benzoin, with both ingredients still remaining in both formulas. Winifred Walker writes that the onycha referred to in Exodus 30 is labdanum[97]but later in the same book states that there was also another onycha, which he also equates as a component of the holy incense, which may have been derived from benzoin.[98] The original Hebrew word used for this component of the ketoret was שחלת, shecheleth, which means “to roar; as a lion (from his characteristic roar)” or “peeling off by concussion of sound.” Shecheleth is related to the Syriac shehelta which is translated as “a tear, distillation, or exudation.” In Aramaic, the root SHCHL signifies “retrieve.” When the Torah was translated into Greek (the Septuagint version) the Greek word “onycha” ονυξ, which means “fingernail” or “claw,” was substituted for shecheleth. The contenders for the identity of onycha are Operculum, Labdanum, Benzoin, Bdellium and Gum Tragacanth. Some writers believe that onycha was the fingernail-like “operculum”, or closing flap, of certain sea snails, including Strombus lentiginosus, Murex anguliferus, Onyx marinus, and Unguis odoratus. This operculum is the upper part of a shell called by the Latins Conchylium. These opercula may be of different sizes, but their overall shape is that of a claw, which is the origin of the name Unguis odoratus. The name Blatta Byzantina is occasioned by its having usually been imported from Constantinople, the ancient Byzantium. In antiquity the operculum was used as an ingredient in incense. Writers during the Middle Ages recorded that onycha was rubbed with an alkali solution prepared from the bitter vetch to remove impurities, it was then soaked in the fermented berry juice of the Caper shrub, or a strong white wine, in order to enhance its fragrance. The operculum was also commonly used as an ingredient in many East Asian incense. There is some doubt as to whether the onycha of the Old Testament was actually the operculum of a sea snail. H.J. Abrahams says, “The widely held mollusk hypothesis becomes quite perplexing if one considers that the mollusk was counted among the unclean animals in the Bible”[99] Sea creatures such as the mollusk was an “abomination” and even their carcasses were to be considered an “abomination”[100] and anyone simply touching them became unclean.[101] Rabbeinu Bachyei insisted that only kosher species may be used for the mishkan. The Gemara states that “only items that one may eat may be used for the work of Heaven.”[102]The Talmud specifically states that although onycha (shecheleth) is not from a tree, it does grow from the ground and that it is a plant.[103] The possibility exists that while the onycha of Exodus 30 was labdanum, the identity of onycha may have been lost some time during or after the Babylonian captivity, with the operculum becoming identified as onycha during the time of the second Temple. However, as the original onycha of the book of Exodus, Abrahams says that, more than any other substance, “labdanum fills the bill most convincingly.”[104] The internationally renowned Bible scholar Bochart stated, at one point in his research, that onycha was actually benzoin, a gum-resin from the Styrax species.[105] H.J. Abrahams states that the use of benzoin in the Biblical incense is not inconceivable since Syro-Arabian tribes maintained extensive trade routes prior to Hellenism. Styrax Benzoin was available via import to the biblical lands during the Old Testament era. Herodotus of Halicarnassus in the 5th century BC indicates that different kinds of styrax resins were traded. Styrax benzoin was used by the ancient Egyptians in the art of perfumery and incense. The apothecary of Shemot (book of Exodus) would have been familiar with its aromatic uses. S. benzoin has a history steeped in antiquity and was once employed as an incense in Egypt. All the compounds identified in benzoin resin were detected in an archaeological organic residue from an Egyptian ceramic censer, thus proving that this resin was used as one of the components of the mixture of organic materials burned as incense in ancient Egypt.[106] An ancient Egyptian perfume formula (1200 BC) contained benzoin as one of its chief ingredients.[107]The Hindustanis use Benzoin to burn in their temples—a circumstance strongly in favor of the hypothesis that benzoin is part of the incense formula of Exodus.[108]The Hindustanis refer to benzoin as “lobanee” or “luban”. The Arabs refer to it as “luban” or “luban jawi.”[109]


[93] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 80; Stephen Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage. Kabbalist Meditation on the Tarot, p.53.
[94]The Bible, Exodus, 30:34-36.
[95] The Bible, Exodus 30:33, 37-38.
[96] The Book of Eccesiasticus (Sirach) 24:15.
[97]Walker, Winifred (1979), All the Plants of the Bible,Doubleday & Company pg.158.
[98]Walker, Winifred, All the Plants of the Bible, pg.241.
[99]Abrahams, H.J. – Onycha, Ingredient of the Ancient Jewish Incense: An attempt at identification, Econ. Bot. 33(2): 233-6 1979; The Bible, Chapters Leviticus 11:9 and 12.
[100] The Bible, Exodus. 11:10-12.
[101] The Bible, Exodus. 11:24.
[102] The Gemara, Shabbos 28a
[103]Abrahams, H.J. – Onycha, Ingredient of the ancient Jewish incense: An attempt at identification in Econ. Bot. 33(2): 233-6 1979; Talmud, Kerithoth 6b.
[104]Newberry, PE, The Shepherd’s Crook and the So-Called” Flail” or” Scourge” of Osiris, The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 1929, pg. 10.
[105]Abrahams, H.J. – Onycha, Ingredient of the ancient Jewish incense: An attempt at identification in Econ. Bot. 33(2): 233-6 1979.
[106]Journal of Chromatography A Volume 1134, Issues 1-2, 17 November 2006, Pages 298-304, Aromatic resin characterisation by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry: Raw and archaeological materials, Francesca Modugnoa, Erika Ribechinia and Maria Perla Colombini, a Dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica Industriale, Università di Pisa, via Risorgimento 35-56126 Pisa, Italy.
[107] See Kathi Keville, Mindy Green, Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art.
[108] See John McClintock, James Strong, Cyclopaedia of Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical literature, Volume 9.
[109]Langenheim, Jean H. (2003). Plant resins: chemistry, evolution, ecology, and ethnobotany. Timber Press. p. 354.

The Perfume Correspondence #2: Myrrh

myrrh1Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil.[110]

The desert tree known as Commifera Myrrha or the dindin tree, from which ancients used to extract the resin, is usually 5-15 feet tall and 1 foot in diameter. Myrrh was an extremely valuable commodity during biblical times and was imported from India and Arabia. The word “myrrh” derives from the Aramaic ܡܪܝܪܐ (murr), meaning “was bitter”. Its name entered the English language from the Hebrew Bible, where it is called mor, מור, and later as a Semitic loanword[111] was used in the Greek myth of Myrrha, and later in the Septuagint; in the Greek language, the related word μύρον became a general term for perfume. Myrrh resin is a natural gum not unlike frankincense. When a tree wound penetrates through the bark and into the sapwood, the tree bleeds a resin. Myrrh gum is commonly harvested from the species Commiphora myrrha, which is native to Yemen, Somalia, and eastern Ethiopia. Another farmed species is C. momol. The related Commiphora gileadensis, native to Eastern Mediterranean and particularly the Arabian Peninsula,[112] is the biblically referenced Balm of Gilead,[113] also known as Balsam of Mecca. Several other species yield bdellium and Indian myrrh. So valuable has it been at times in ancient history that it has been equal in weight value to gold. During times of scarcity, its value rose even higher than that. It has been used throughout history as a perfume, incense and medicine. The Ishmaelite caravan which carried Joseph to slavery in Egypt also bore myrrh.[114]When Israel sent his sons into Egypt for food he told them to take along some myrrh as a gift for the man in charge.[115] When people harvest myrrh, they wound the trees repeatedly to bleed them of the gum. Myrrh gum is waxy, and coagulates quickly. In Christian tradition, the gashes produce in the process are reminders of the wounds Christ received while being flogged by the Roman soldiers. After the harvest, the gum becomes hard and glossy. The gum is yellowish, and may be either clear or opaque. It darkens deeply as it ages, and white streaks emerge.[116] The myrrh hardens into tear-dropped shaped chunks and is then powdered or made into ointments or perfumes. Myrrh was one of the gifts of the Magi or wise men.[117] Legend says Caspar brought the gift of myrrh from Europe or Tarsus and placed it before the Christ Child. Because of myrrh’s various medicinal uses this gift represents Christ’s human nature, the Suffering Savior, the Great Physician, and the Passion. Myrrh was also used by the ancient Egyptians, along with natron, for the embalming of mummies.[118]During biblical times myrrh was used in expensive perfumes. It was used in powdered form to perfume garments and beds and to make sachets which were worn between the breasts.[119] In liquid form it was used as anointing oil or to perfume men’s beards. Myrrh was associated with lovemaking and was sometimes used to anoint the door-posts of the bridegroom’s house when his bride was delivered to him.[120] Esther received a six month long beauty treatment with oil of myrrh before she was brought in to King Ahasuerus.[121] A woman who had been a great sinner showed her repentance and love of Christ by anointing his feet with a fragrant oil of myrrh and drying them with her hair. Jesus took this opportunity to point out that those who are forgiven much, love their redeemer more than those who are forgiven little.[122] Myrrh was an ingredient of Ketoret, the consecrated incense used in the First and Second Temples at Jerusalem, as described in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud. An offering was made of the Ketoret on a special incense altar, and was an important component of the Temple service. Myrrh was traded by camel caravans overland from areas of production in southern Arabia by the Nabataeans to their capital city of Petra, from where it was distributed throughout the Mediterranean region. According to the book of Matthew,[123] gold, frankincense and myrrh were among the gifts to Jesus by the Biblical Magi “from the East.” “While burning incense was accepted as a practice in the later Roman Catholic church, the early church during Roman times forbade the use of incense in services resulting in a rapid decline in the incense trade.”[124] Because of its New Testament, myrrh is incense that was usually offered during Christian liturgical celebrations (see Thurible). Insects and vultures are said to be repelled by the burning of myrrh. The preachers of the Gospel compared to the myrrh-like fragrance of Christ which is to the repentant the “aroma of life to life” and to the wicked the “aroma of death to death.”[125] Wisdom also is said to have a “pleasant odour like the best myrrh”. [126]When burned as incense, myrrh is a symbol of prayers rising to heaven. Liquid myrrh was used in the making of the holy Anointing oil for the Anointing of the priests and the articles of the Tabernacle. It was forbidden to use this recipe which God gave to Moses for any secular purpose.[127] Because myrrh (which is bitter) and frankincense (which is sweet) were used in the Temple, Mount Moriah (the Temple mount) was poetically referred to as the “mountain of myrrh” and the “hill of frankincense.”[128] The Church has also been referred to as a mountain of myrrh and frankincense.[129] St. Jerome wrote that “those who have mortified their bodies” are mountains of myrrh. “Historically, the hill of frankincense is Calvary; the mountain of myrrh is His embalmment til the Resurrection.” In Roman Catholic liturgical tradition, pellets of myrrh are traditionally placed in the Paschal candle during the Easter Vigil. Eastern Christianity uses incense much more frequently, sometimes emphasizing its use at Vespers and Matins because of the Old Testament exhortation of the evening and morning offerings of incense.Myrrh is also used to prepare the sacramental chrism[130] used by many churches of both Eastern and Western rites. In the Middle East, the Eastern Orthodox Church traditionally uses myrrh-scented oil to perform the sacraments of chrismation and unction, both of which are commonly referred to as “receiving the Chrism”. Myrrh is also used in Neo-paganism and Ritual Magick. Besides being use as perfume and incense, Myrrh has also many medicinal uses. In ancient times it was used for cleaning wounds and sores. As late as the 19th century it was given as a treatment for worms, coughs, colds, sore throats, asthma, indigestion, bad breath, gum disease, and gonorrhea. Today it is still a common ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwash. In Pilgrim’s Progress, a bundle of myrrh was used to keep Mercy from fainting. Too much myrrh can make one violently sick. Until the invention of morphine and other modern painkillers, myrrh was a common analgesic. In ancient times it was often mixed with wine to make the drink more potent.[131] As was the custom among the Jews, Christ was offered “wine mingled with myrrh” to ease the pains of the cross. However, He refused to drink it.[132]Myrrh is named for its bitter taste which, along with its funerary uses, has caused it to be associated with the bitter things of life. St. Cyril applied the bittersweetness of the Passion to Solomon’s verse, “I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk….”[133] Myrrh has been associated with bitter repentance, mortification of the flesh, and penance. According to Aquinas, myrrh and aloes, by their bitterness, their pleasant perfumes, and their preserving qualities, represent the penance by which we preserve our souls from the corruption of sin and the pleasing odor of a good report rising before God.[134] Fingers dripping with myrrh on the handles of a lock are an image of the ability of bitter repentance to unlock the doors of the hardened heart to Christ.[135] In traditional Chinese medicine, myrrh is classified as bitter and spicy, with a neutral temperature. It is said to have special efficacy on the heart, liver, and spleen meridians, as well as “blood-moving” powers to purge stagnant blood from the uterus. It is therefore recommended for rheumatic, arthritic, and circulatory problems, and for amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menopause, and uterine tumors. Its uses are similar to those of frankincense, with which it is often combined in decoctions, liniments, and incense. When used in concert, myrrh is “blood-moving” while frankincense moves the Qi, making it more useful for arthritic conditions. It is combined with such herbs as notoginseng, safflower stamens, Angelica sinensis, cinnamon, and Salvia miltiorrhiza, usually in alcohol, and used both internally and externally. Myrrh is used more frequently in Ayurveda and Unani medicine, which ascribe tonic and rejuvenative properties to the resin. Myrrh (daindhava) is used in many specially-processed rasayana formulas in Ayurveda. However, non-rasayana myrrh is contraindicated when kidney dysfunction or stomach pain is apparent, or for women who are pregnant or have excessive uterine bleeding. A related species, called guggul in Ayurvedic medicine,[136] is considered one of the best substances for the treatment of circulatory problems, nervous system disorders and rheumatic complaints. In pharmacy, myrrh is used as an antiseptic in mouthwashes, gargles, and toothpastes for prevention and treatment of gum disease.[137] Myrrh is currently used in some liniments and healing salves that may be applied to abrasions and other minor skin ailments. Myrrh has also been recommended as an analgesic for toothaches, and can be used in liniment for bruises, aches, and sprains. In an attempt to determine the cause of its effectiveness, researchers examined the individual ingredients of an herbal formula used traditionally by Kuwaiti diabetics to lower blood glucose. Myrrh and aloe gums effectively improved glucose tolerance in both normal and diabetic rats.[138] Myrrh was shown to produce analgesic effects on mice which were subjected to pain.[139] Researchers at the University of Florence showed that furanoeudesma-1,3-diene and another terpene in the myrrh affect opioid receptors in the mouse’s brain which influence pain perception. Mirazid, an Egyptian drug made from myrrh, has been investigated as an oral treatment of parasitic ailments, including fascioliasis and schistosomiasis.[140] Myrrh has been shown to lower cholesterol LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, as well as to increase the HDL (good cholesterol) in various tests on humans done in the past few decades.


[110]An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin.
[111]Klein, Ernest, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language for Readers of English, The University of Haifa, Carta, Jerusalem, p.380
[112]Anthony G. Miller, Thomas A. Cope, J. A. Nyberg Flora of the Arabian Peninsula and Socotra, Volume 1, Edinburgh University Press, 1996, p.20.
[113]Gibson, Dan (2011). Qur’anic Geography: A Survey and Evaluation of the Geographical References in the Qur’an with Suggested Solutions for Various Problems and Issues. Independent Scholars, p. 160.
[114] The Bible, Genesis 37:25.
[115] The Bible, Gen 43:11.
[116]Caspar Neumann, William Lewis, The Chemical Works of Caspar Neumann, M.D., 2nd Ed., Vol 3, London, 1773 p.55.
[117] The Bible, Mt 2:11.
[118]Fritze, Ronald H. New Worlds: The Great Voyages of Discovery 1400-1600. Sutton Publishing Limited, 2002, p. 25.
[119] The Bible, Psa 45:8; Prov 7:17; Song 1:13, 3:6; Psa 45:8.
[120]The Bible,Song 5:5.
[121] The Bible, Ester 2:12.
[122] The Bible, Luke 7:36-50.
[123] The Bible, Matthew 2:11.
[124]Gibson, Dan (2011). Qur’anic Geography: A Survey and Evaluation of the Geographical References in the Qur’an with Suggested Solutions for Various Problems and Issues. Independent Scholars Press, Canada, p. 160.
[125] The Bible, 2 Corinthians 2:14-16.
[126] The Bible, Sirach 24:15.
[127] The Bible, Exodus 30:23-32.
[128] The Bible, Song 4:6.
[129] See Wesley’s Notes on the Bible – Song of Solomon 4:6, 8.
[130]Chrism (Greek word literally meaning “an anointing”), also called “Myrrh” (Myron), Holy anointing oil, or “Consecrated Oil”, is a consecrated oil used in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Rite Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, in the Assyrian Church of the East, and in Old-Catholic churches, as well as Anglican churches in the administration of certain sacraments and ecclesiastical functions.
[131] Clarke’s Commentary – Prov 9:4-5.
[132] The Bible, Mark 15:23.
[133] Song 5:1; The Catechetical Lectures of St. Cyril of Jerusalem.
[134] Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologica v. 5 p. 694.
[135] Jamieson, Faucett, Brown; Song 5:5.
[136]Ayurveda (Sanskrit: आयुर्वेद; Āyurveda, “the knowledge for long life”) or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, words āyus, meaning “longevity”, and veda, meaning “knowledge” or “science”.
[137]Lawless, J. (2002) The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Harper Collins, p.135.
[138] Al-Awadi FM, Gumaa KA. Studies on the activity of individual plants of an antidiabetic plant mixture. Acta Diabetol Lat. 1987 Jan–Mar;24(1):37–41.
[139]Nature 1996, 379, 29.
[140]See, for example, Soliman, OE et al., Evaluation of myrrh (Mirazid) therapy in fascioliasis and intestinal schistosomiasis in children: immunological and parasitological study. J Egypt Soc Parasitol. 2004 Dec;34(3):941–966.

The Drug Correspondence: Sulphate & Cascara

sulphateIn inorganic chemistry, a sulfate or sulphate in British English is a salt of sulfuric acid. The sulfate ion is a polyatomic anion with the empirical formula SO2−4 and a molecular mass of 96.06 daltons (96.06 g/mol); it consists of a central sulfur atom surrounded by four equivalent oxygen atoms in a tetrahedral arrangement. The symmetry is very similar to that of methane, CH4. Many examples of ionic sulfates are known, and many of these are highly soluble in water. Radium sulfate is the most insoluble sulfate known. Some sulfates were known to alchemists. The vitriol salts, from the Latin vitreolum, glassy, were so-called because they were some of the first transparent crystals known.[141] Green vitriol is ferrous sulfate heptahydrate, FeSO4·7H2O; blue vitriol is copper sulfate pentahydrate, CuSO4·5H2O and white vitriol is zinc sulfate heptahydrate, ZnSO4·7H2O. Alum, a double sulfate with the formula K2Al2(SO4)4·24H2O, figured in the development of the chemical industry. In the natural world, sulfates occur as microscopic particles (aerosols) resulting from fossil fuel and biomass combustion. They increase the acidity of the atmosphere and form acid rain.

cascaraCascara grows as a shrub or small tree (typically to about 10 metres tall) with thin silver-grey bark and glossy green leaves with prominent veins. In the spring, the unfurling leaves are a coppery colour, turning green when opened. Clusters of small greenish flowers are followed by purple-black berries that ripen in the summer. The berries are described as“edible but not incredible.” In the fall, the leaves turn attractive shades of yellow and salmon-pink before dropping off.It frequents dry to wet sites, often growing in shade mixed with conifers, or in wetter areas with red alder. Cascara is common and easy to find in our area, especially near rivers and streams. Cascara sagrada has a long history of traditional use by Native Americans. Cascara sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana) is a bark that is rich in hormone-like oils that contains compounds called anthroquinones, which are responsible for cascara’s powerful laxative effects. Anthraquinones trigger contractions in the colon, called peristalsis, which causes the urge to have a bowel movement. Today, it is one of the most common herbal laxatives. In addition to being a powerful laxative, cascara is also believed to improve the muscle tone of the colon walls. It is one of the best herbs to use for chronic constipation and (some herbalists say that it is not habit-forming) its effects can be felt within 6 to 8 hours, producing soft stools with little discomfort. It increases the secretions of the stomach, liver and pancreas and exerts a remarkable action in torpor of the colon in constipation. Coastal peoples boiled dried bark to make a tea which was used as a purgative but also to cure headaches, heal sores and swelling, and internal strains. Care was taken to take only one strip from a tree, so that the tree would heal. Cascara is also very valuable for hemorrhoids due to poor bowel function. It helps to promote painless evacuations and, after extended usage, the bowels will function naturally and regularly from its tonic effects. It is cleansing to the colon and helps rebuild its functions. Cascara has often been recommended as part of cleansing and detoxifying programs and in small doses it may be an effective liver tonic.Extract from cascara bark started to be prescribed by doctors in the 1870′s. By the late 19th and early 20th century, cascara was being over harvested in Washington and Oregon and by 1915 cascara resources were in decline south of the border. Drug companies in the U.S began to look at cascara supplies in BC. Fortunately, recommendations for proper harvesting techniques in BC were first drawn up by the Provincial government in 1942. The Cascara Bark Regulation, created in 1958, ensured the long term conservationof the cascara tree.


[141]Inorganic and Theoretical Chemistry F.Sherwood Taylor 6th Edition (1942) William Heinemann.

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