September 23, 2019
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The Place of Amaranth in the Vegetal Kingdom

amaranthAmaranthus, collectively known as amaranth, is a cosmopolitan genus of annual or short-lived perennial plants. They have catkin (cylindrical flower cluster) -like cymes of densely packed flowers that grows in summer or autumn. [3] Approximately 60 species are recognized, with inflorescences and foliage ranging from purple and red to green or gold. Members of this genus share many characteristics and uses with members of the closely related genus Celosia. [4] Although several species are often considered weeds, people around the world value amaranths as leaf vegetables, cereals, and ornamental plants. “Amaranth” derives from Greek ἀμάραντος [5] (amarantos), meaning unfading, everlasting, with the Greek word for “flower,” ἄνθος (anthos) which means flower and from, factoring into the word’s development as “amaranth.” The more accurate “amarant” is an archaic variant.  Amaranthus shows a wide variety of morphological diversity among and even within certain species. Although the family (Amaranthaceae) is distinctive, [6] the genus has few distinguishing characters among the 70 species included. [7] This complicates taxonomy and Amaranthus has generally been considered among systematists as a “difficult” genus. [8]

Formerly, Sauer (1955) classified the genus into two subgenera, differentiating only between monoecious and dioecious species: Acnida (L.) Aellen ex K.R. Robertson and Amaranthus. [9] Although this classification was widely accepted, further infrageneric classification was (and still is) needed to differentiate this widely diverse group. Currently, Amaranthus includes three recognized subgenera and 70 species, although species numbers are questionable due to hybridization and species concepts. [10] Infrageneric classification focuses on inflorescence, flower characters and whether a species is monoecious/dioecious, as in the Sauer (1955) suggested classification. [11] A modified infrageneric classification of Amaranthus was published by Mosyakin & Robertson (1996) and includes three subgenera: AcnidaAmaranthus, and Albersia. The taxonomy is further differentiated by sections within each of the subgenera. [11a]

Amaranth-flower-

Even if some of them are beautiful specimens and can be of some use in different areas of life, it’s not all amaranth plants that are cultivated. Most of the species from Amaranthus are summer annual weeds and are commonly referred to as pigweeds. [12]  These species have an extended period of germination, rapid growth, and high rates of seed production, [13] There are a multitude of varieties which cross with one another very easily. Some species have been found to cross with one another e.g. Amaranthus caudatus and Amaranthus hypochondriacus. [14] For most types, flowering occurs as the days become shorter. Being wind-pollinated, they will cross with one another if less than 400 metres apart at flowering time. If the seed is to be used for planting, roguing is necessary to remove inferior individuals before they can flower and pollinate better plants.

An early Greek fable counted among Aesop’s Fables [15] compares the rose to the amaranth to illustrate the difference in fleeting and everlasting beauty:

An amaranth planted in a garden near a Rose-Tree, thus addressed it: “What a lovely flower is the Rose, a favorite alike with Gods and with men. I envy you your beauty and your perfume.” The Rose replied, “I indeed, dear Amaranth, flourish but for a brief season! If no cruel hand pluck me from my stem, yet I must perish by an early doom. But thou art immortal and dost never fade, but bloomest for ever in renewed youth.” [16]

In John Milton’s epic Paradise Lost it is given a more fitting neighbour:

Immortal amarant, a flower which once
In paradise, fast by the tree of life,
Began to bloom; but soon for man’s offence
To heaven removed, where first it grew, there grows,
And flowers aloft, shading the fount of life,
And where the river of bliss through midst of heaven
Rolls o’er elysian flowers her amber stream:
With these that never fade the spirits elect
Bind their resplendent locks. [17]

The Medicinal Use of Amaranth

amaranth---The word amaranth comes from the Greek word amaranton, meaning “unwilting” (from the verb marainesthai, meaning “wilt”).[18] The word was applied to amaranth because it did not soon fade and so symbolized immortality. “Amarant” is a more correct, albeit archaic form, chiefly used in poetry. The current spelling, amaranth, seems to have come from folk etymology that assumed the final syllable derived from the Greek word anthos (“flower”), common in botanical names.  In ancient Greece, the amaranth (also called chrysanthemum and helichrysum) was sacred to Ephesian Artemis. It was supposed to have special healing properties, and, as a symbol of immortality, was used to decorate images of the gods and tombs. In legend, Amarynthus (a form of Amarantus) [19] was a hunter of Artemis and king of Euboea; in a village of Amarynthus, of which he was the eponymous hero, there was a famous temple of Artemis Amarynthia or Amarysia. [20] It was also widely used by the Chinese for its healing chemicals, curing illnesses such as infections, rashes, and migraines. The “Amarantos” is the name of a several-century-old popular Greek folk song. Amaranth is a vegetable to some, a grain to other, a red dye to the Hopi Indians, and an herbal medicine to others. Homeopathic and ayurvedic experts have always recognized the amazing health benefits of amaranth. Both, the seeds and leaves of amaranth, are used as herbal remedies.  This plant was known to the Aztecs as huauhtli, [21] it is thought to have represented up to 80% of their caloric consumption before the conquest.  They used to call it the “food of immortality”. In India, amaranth grain is known as “rajgeera” meaning, “the king’s grain”. The amaranth grain is often milled into flour and combined with other flours for making breads. Another important use of amaranth throughout Mesoamerica was to prepare ritual drinks and foods. To this day, amaranth grains are toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey, molasses or chocolate to make a treat called alegría, meaning “joy” in Spanish. Known as thotakoora, cholai, marsa, and tamri bhaji, in various Indian languages, amaranth leaves are very popular in Indian cooking, especially in the South, and come in many varieties: green, red, and bicolored. The leaves are used in curries and soups. Amaranth leaves are similar in taste to spinach but with a stronger flavor and cook very easily. In fact, many people rate it higher in terms of taste than spinach. In terms of nutrition as well, when compared to spinach, amaranth has more to offer as it has higher concentrations of calcium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamins. Amaranth leaves are also a wonderful astringent, and make a great wash for skin problems like eczema, and a wonderful acne remedy. Amaranth also makes an effective mouthwash for treating mouth sores, swollen gums, and sore throat. Amaranth leaves have been found to be a good home remedy for hair loss and premature greying. Applying the fresh juice of amaranth leaves helps hair to retain its color, and keeps it soft, and is a great hair-loss treatment. Diego Duran described the festivities for Huitzilopochtli, whose name means “hummingbird of the left side” or “left-handed hummingbird”. (Real hummingbirds feed on amaranth flowers.) It seems that even the ignored or indesirable “pig weed” have some useful medicinal properties. It’s been used to treat menstruation, giving it the folk name, “love lies bleeding”. It’s also been used to treat diarrhea and dysentery.  You can actually get popcorn made from this seed. It is commonly seasoned with honey, and supposely very tasty. Amaranth’s high concentration of protein is making this herb popular again in America. The herb has a high quantity of the amino acid, L-Lysine. I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal but in the plant world, it is. Amaranth leaves are eaten in place of spinach as a pot herb in places like France. The L-Lysine in Amaranth can be an excellent treatment for Herpes.  Herpes can greatly weaken one’s immune system. Having some L-Lysine your diet will boost your immune system. Amaranth can replace most grains to produce any number of food; such as, breads and desserts. You can never go hungry if you have a rich supply of the Amaranth seed.  This herb can help control the spread of Candida Albicans. In the US, amaranth leaves, grain, and flour are available in Indian and Asian grocery stores, as well as in your local organic and vitamin shops.

Amaranth’s Symbolism and Ritual Use

Amaranth is known by many names by coutryside folks, indigenous people and medecine men.  Some people call it “the flower of immortality,” it was know to the Aztec as “huauhtli,” other call it “floramon,” “Love Lies Bleeding, ” “Red CockComb” “Velvet Flower” or “Princess Feather.” [22] In the context of natural medicine as magic this plant was used for healing, protection and invisibility. [23] The Amarant was notoriously used during Pagan burial funerals.  it was once outlawed by colonial Spanish autority in Mexico because it was used by Aztecs in their rituals. [24] For shamans, magus and witches, wearing an amaranth crown on your head is considered as a viable device that can be used to speeds up the healing process.  To make sure you are never struck by a bullet, pull up  a whole amaranth plant (including the roots) preferably on a Friday during the Full Moon. Leave an offering to the plant and then fold it, roots and all, in a piece of white cloth., Wear this against your breast and you’ll be “bullet proof.” [25]  The dried amaranth have been used to call forth the dead. and are also carried to”cure the affections,” i.e., to mend a broken heart. [26]  Other folks beliefs saiy that “a wreath of amaranth worn confers invisibility.” [27]

Tree of Life Attribution

The sacred plant attribution for the sephirah of Chokmah is amaranth. [1] Crolwley explain the reason for this attribution in the explanation of the columns of his classification table in his book 777: “The Amarant is the flower of immortality. It is here placed in order to symbolizes that quality of the Yod of tetagrammaton, the principle of Chiah.  The Mistletoe is given for similar reasons.  The Bo or Pipal tree was the shelter of the Buddha at the moment of his enlightenment. Furthermore its leaves suggest the phallus. [2]

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[1] Aleister Crowley, 777 and Other Qabalistic Writtings of  Aleister Crowley, p. 10; Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 42; Chic Cicero & Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Experiencing the Kabbalah, p.116
[2] Aleister Crowley, 777 and Other Qabalistic Writtings of  Aleister Crowley, p. 96.
[3] RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136.
[4] Celosia  is a small genus of edible and ornamental plants in the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae. The generic name is derived from the Greek word κηλος (kelos), meaning “burned,” and refers to the flame-like flower heads. Species are commonly known as woolflowers, or, if the flower heads are crested by fasciation, cockscombs. The plants are well known in East Africa’s highlands and are used under their Swahili name, mfungu.
[5] Liddell & Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, s.v. ἀμάραντος
[6] The Amaranthaceae, the Amaranth family, represent the most species-rich lineage within the flowering plant order of Caryophyllales. Now including the former goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae), the extended family contains approximately 180 genera and 2,500 species.
[7] Juan et al. (2007). “Electrophoretic characterization of Amaranthus L. seed proteins and its systematic implication”. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 155: 57–63.
[8] Costea M, DeMason D (2001). “Stem morphology and anatomy in Amaranthus L. (Amaranthaceae)- Taxonomic significance”. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 128 (3): 254–281.
[9] Costea M, DeMason D (2001). “Stem morphology and anatomy in Amaranthus L. (Amaranthaceae)- Taxonomic significance”. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 128 (3): 254–281.
[10] Judd et al. (2008). Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach, Third Edition. Sinauer Associates, Inc. Sunderland, MA.
[11] Juan et al. (2007). “Electrophoretic characterization of Amaranthus L. seed proteins and its systematic implication”. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 155: 57–63.
[11a]Sergei L. Mosyakin & Kenneth R. Robertso (1996), New infrageneric taxa and combinations in Amaranthus (Amaranthaceae), Ann. Bot. Fennici 33: 275–281, Helsinki 13 December 1996.
[12] Bensch et al. (2003). Interference of redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus), Palmer amaranth (A. palmeri), and common waterhemp (A. rudis) in soybean. Weed Science 51: 37-43.
[13] Bensch et al. (2003). Interference of redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus), Palmer amaranth (A. palmeri), and common waterhemp (A. rudis) in soybean. Weed Science 51: 37-43.
[14] Amaranthus hypochondriacus is an ornamental plant commonly known as Prince-of-Wales feather or prince’s feather.  Originally endemic to Mexico, it is called quelite, blero and quintonil in Spanish.
[15] Aesop’s Fables or the Aesopica is a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and story-teller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE. Of diverse origins, the stories associated with Aesop’s name have descended to modern times through a number of sources.
[16] Aesopica site
[17] John Milton, Paradise Lost, III, 353.
[18] Nagy, Gregory (2013). The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press. p. 14§32.  “Technically, the blossoms that form the circles of these garlands come from the name of a flower known as amaranton or ‘amaranth’, which literally means ‘unwilting’ (from the verb marainesthai, meaning ‘wilt’). The blossoms of the flower amaranth that are plaited into garlands mimic eternity, since the blossom of the amaranth is observably slow in wilting, unlike the blossoms of most flowers.”
[19] Amarynthus (Ancient Greek: Ἀμάρυνθος) was in Greek mythology a hunter of Artemis, from whom the town of Amarynthus in Euboea (Stephanus of Byzantium says that it was Euboea itself) was believed to have derived its name.
 (Strabo, Geographica x. p. 448) From this hero, or rather from the town of Amarynthus, Artemis derived the surname Amarynthia or Amarysia, under which she was wor­shipped there and also in Attica. (Pausanias, Description of Greece i. 31. § 3; Dict. of Ant. s.v. ἈμαρύνθιαSchmitz, Leonhard (1867). “Amarynthus”. In William Smith. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. p. 136.
[20]  Strabo x. 448; Pausanias. i. 31, p. 5.
[21] Coe, S.D. (1994). America’s First Cuisines. University of Texas Press.
[22] Scott Cunningham, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Expanded & Revised Edition, p. 32.
[22] Scott Cunningham, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Expanded & Revised Edition, p. 33
[23] Scott Cunningham, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Expanded & Revised Edition, p. 33.
[24] Scott Cunningham, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Expanded & Revised Edition, p. 33.
[25] Scott Cunningham, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Expanded & Revised Edition, p. 33.
[26] Scott Cunningham, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Expanded & Revised Edition, p. 33.
[27] Scott Cunningham, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Expanded & Revised Edition, p. 33.

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