August 9, 2020
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The General Description of the First Path

Aleph is PAth no 11 Joining Kether to Chokmah copyThis is path eleven on the Qabalistic Tree of Life, the path joining Kether to Chokmah. According to Stephen Hoeller, the eleventh path is “the most glorious, and paradoxical of all”.[1] The paradox consists in the fact that this path is in truth the point of all beginning and all ending; it is the beginning and the end of the journey, this is where the circle is closing on itself. “It is upon this path that the first flash of each and every cycle of emanation; and it is also at this point that the returning sap of the Tree is finally and completely joined with the ultimately equilibrated beginning and end of all. When the wisdom that is perfect love is united in complete balance with the undertanding of perfect mind, all things are possible, and there is perfect freedom. This is the path, therefore, upon which we come and go simultaneously. We return to the crown of the Tree, from whence, aeons ago, we descended; yet at the same time we are prepared to descend once more in order to bring and share life, light, and liberty with all beings. When we have arrived at the Eleventh Path, life is no longer a necessity, but a joyful, free choice. The weariness of the long journey is passed, and unlimited energy permetates the nature of the traveler. What has appeared as work is now play.”[2]

1-aleph--the-foolOn this path “the yoke the traveler received is indeed easy, and the burden light. It is here one realizes that everything seemingly left behind during the course of the long journey is, in fact, still available. From the physical treasures of Malkuth to the half-human, half-divine beauties of Tiphareth and even to the ultimate, crowning glory of Kether, all the rewards of the ten heavenly way stations are his. Without attachment to any portion or region of the Tree, he is at one with every leaf and branch, because he has become the essence of the sap that moves through it all. This is the path of truth. Laughter, and bliss, where the dewdrop, having slipped into the shining from river to creek and pond as the embodied power of free and purposeful motion. As one of the poet and Kabbalist expressed it:”Trutth, laughter, light: Life’s Holy Fool! Veil rent, lewd madness brings sublime enlightenment.”

revealing – The path from Kether to Chokhmah is the begining of the revealing that we call life, as it unfolds throughout the cosmos.  We can know only the smallest part of its mysteries; the small part revealed to us in our personal experience.  Meaning and purpose are emergent and transitory.  They are stories we construct, narratives we weave around our projects.  Our true revelation is in how we live, how we unfold our own being. (Collin A. Low, The Hermetic Kabbalah, p. 332)

The keynote of this path goes like this: “The pure essence of the soul takes the last step, completing the conscious linking of all aspects of the supernal states of divinity. It having become one with all, its future is the future of a being whose growth and splendore have no limits.”[3] The magical motto of this path is the following: “I went from God to God, until they cried from me in me ‘O Thou I!’.”[4]

The Meditation for Path #11: “The sublime purity of ineffable essence is present within my being. I recognize myself as an essence without form, without qualities and limitations. I am all in all. I am no thing, but I am present in all things. I am the terminal point of all and the first origination of beginning. I was and was not; A am and I am not; I shall be, yet I am utterly without a future. I am a circle with its center everywhere and circumpherence nowhere. Childlike and ancient, young and old, new and aged am I. Purer than the snow, more radiant than the sun, smaller than the smallest atom, greater that the vastness of space; all these I am. I am the all and the naught: I am free. So I am, and was, and shall be, within being and in nonbeing, within time and out of time, ever and never. Amen.”[5]


[1] Stephen, A. Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage, Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p. 62.

[2] Stephen, A. Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage, Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p. 62.

[3] Stephen, A. Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage, Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p. 115.

[4] Stephen, A. Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage, Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p. 115.

[5] Stephen, A. Hoeller, The Fool’s Pilgrimage, Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, p. 115.

The Hebrew Letter Correpondence: Aleph

alephAleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This corresponds to the path joining Kether to Chokmah and its numerical value is 1. Some claim to find a satisfactory explanantion to the origin of this letter in that it represents an ox-yoke, or the head of an ox, the horns forming the top part of the letter. This is highly significant, for the letter when pronounced as Aleph and spelled in full – Aleph, means an “ox” or “bull,” and admirable symbol to denote the generative power of nature.   To aleph is attributed the Swastika,[6] almost T in shape, or the thunderbolt or Thor – an excellent glyph to express the concept of the primeval motion of the Great Breath, whirling chaos into a creative center. Aleph partakes of the nature of Kether, and is called “The Scintillating Intelligence.”


[6] The swastika is also called the fylfot cross, the Hermetic cross, the Hammer of Thor, and the grammadion. The fylfot was widely known all over the ancient world as a symbol of prosperity and good fortune. The word swastika is derived from the Sanskrit svastika, meaning “conductive to well-being. The figure also appeared in early Christian and Byzantine art where it was called the crux gramata or gramadion cross, because il could be constructed from our Greek gammas. The swastika is still the most widely used beneficial symbol of Hinduss and Buddhists in India. It is very unfortunate that this ancient sacred symbol was adopted by the Nzis in the early part of this century for their obscene, evil purpose.”



The Element Correspondence for Aleph: Air

Alchemy_air_symbolIts element is Air, rushing aimlessly hither and thither, always pressing or tending in a downward direction. In traditional cultures, air is often seen as a universal power or pure substance. Its fundamental importance to life can be seen in words such as aspire, inspire, perspire, and spirit, all derived from the Latin spirare (“to breathe”). The alchemical symbol for air is an upward-pointing triangle, bisected by a horizontal line. Alchemy implied that Air was the supreme element, connecting it with the final, most spiritual of the four phases of the opus, the sublimatio, the stage of the hieros gamos the holy marriage or ultimate conjuctio. Psychologically the sublimatio corresponds to the power of abstract purpose and meaning from concrete reality; to experience joy relief, bliss.

Air is often seen as a universal power or pure substance. Its supposed fundamental importance to life can be seen in words such as aspire, inspire, perspire and spirit, all derived from the Latin spirare.


Air is one of the four classical elements in ancient Greek philosophy and science. According to Plato, it is associated with the octahedron; air is considered to be both hot and wet. The ancient Greeks used two words for air: aer meant the dim lower atmosphere, and aether meant the bright upper atmosphere above the clouds.[1] Plato, for instance writes that “So it is with air: there is the brightest variety which we call aether, the muddiest which we call mist and darkness, and other kinds for which we have no name….”[2] Among the early Greek Pre-Socratic philosophers, Anaximenes (mid-6th century BCE) named air as the arche.[3] A similar belief was attributed by some ancient sources to Diogenes Apolloniates (late 5th century BCE), who also linked air with intelligence and soul (psyche), but other sources claim that his arche was a substance between air and fire.[4] Aristophanes parodied such teachings in his play The Clouds by putting a prayer to air in the mouth of Socrates.

Air was one of many archai proposed by the Pre-socratics, most of whom tried to reduce all things to a single substance. However, Empedocles of Acragas (c. 495-c. 435 BCE) selected four archai for his four roots: Air, fire, water, and earth. Ancient and modern opinions differ as to whether he identified air by the divine name Hera, Aidoneus or even Zeus. Empedocles’ roots became the four classical elements of Greek philosophy.[5] Plato (427-347 BCE) took over the four elements of Empedocles. In the Timaeus, his major cosmological dialogue, the Platonic solid associated with air is the octahedron which is formed from eight equilateral triangles. This places air between fire and water which Plato regarded as appropriate because it is intermediate in its mobility, sharpness, and ability to penetrate. He also said of air that its minuscule components are so smooth that one can barely feel them.[6]

Plato’s student Aristotle (384-322 BCE) developed a different explanation for the elements based on pairs of qualities. The four elements were arranged concentrically around the center of the universe to form the sublunary sphere. According to Aristotle, air is both hot and wet and occupies a place between fire and water among the elemental spheres. Aristotle definitively separated air from aether. For him, aether was an unchanging, almost divine substance that was found only in the heavens, where it formed celestial spheres.[7]

In ancient Greek medicine, each of the four humours became associated with an element. Blood was the humor identified with air, since both were hot and wet. Other things associated with air and blood in ancient and medieval medicine included the season of spring, since it increased the qualities of heat and moisture; the sanguine temperament (of a person dominated by the blood humour); hermaphrodite (combining the masculine quality of heat with the feminine quality of moisture); and the northern point of the compass.[8]

The alchemical symbol for air is an upward-pointing triangle, bisected by a horizontal line.

In Hinduism, Vayu (Sanskrit वायु ), also known as Vāta वात, Pavana पवन (meaning the Purifier),[9] or Prāna, is a primary deity, who is the father of Bhima and the spiritual father of Lord Hanuman. As the words for air (Vāyu) or wind (Pavana) it is one of the Panchamahābhuta the “five great elements” in Hinduism. The Sanskrit word ‘Vāta’ literally means “blown“, ‘Vāyu’ “blower“, and ‘Prāna’ “breathing” (viz. the breath of life, cf. the *an- in ‘animate‘).

Chinese tradition

Air is not one of the traditional five Chinese classical elements. Nevertheless, the ancient Chinese concept of Qi or chi is believed to be close to that of air. Qi (Mandarin pronunciation: [tɕʰî]; spelled in Pinyin romanization and ch’i4 in Wade-Giles) or ki (in Japanese romanization), is a fundamental concept of traditional Chinese culture. Qi is believed to be part of every living thing that exists, as a kind of “life force” or “spiritual energy“. It is frequently translated as “energy flow”, or literally as “air” or “breath”. (For example, “tiānqì”, literally “sky breath”, is the ordinary Chinese word for “weather“). In Mandarin Chinese it is pronounced something like “chee” in English, but the tongue position is different. (See Media:Difficult Sounds.GIF.) The concept of qi is often reified, however no scientific evidence supports its existence.

The element air also appears as a concept in the Buddhist religion which has an ancient history in China.

Some Western modern occultists equate the Chinese classical element of metal with air,[10] others with wood due to the elemental association of wind and wood in the bagua.

Astrological personalities

People born under the astrological signs of Gemini, Libra and Aquarius are thought to have dominant air personalities. Air personalities tend to be kind, intellectual, communicative and social; however, they can also be selfish, superficial, vicious and very insensitive to other people’s emotions.

Ceremonial magic

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, founded in 1888, incorporates air and the other Greek classical elements into its teachings.[11] The elemental weapon of air is the dagger which must be painted yellow with magical names and sigils written upon it in violet.[12] Each of the elements has several associated spiritual beings. The archangel of air is Raphael, the angel is Chassan, the ruler is Aral, the king is Paralda, and the air elementals (following Paracelsus) are called sylphs.[13] Air is considerable and it is referred to the upper left point of the pentagram in the Supreme Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram.[14] Many of these associations have since spread throughout the occult community.

In the Golden Dawn and many other magical systems, each element is associated with one of the cardinal points and is placed under the care of guardian Watchtowers. The Watchtowers derive from the Enochian system of magic founded by Dee. In the Golden Dawn, they are represented by the Enochian elemental tablets.[15] Air is associated with the east, which is guarded by the First Watchtower.[16]

Modern witchcraft

Air is one of the five elements that appear in most Wiccan and Pagan traditions. Wicca in particular was influenced by the Golden Dawn system of magic, and Aleister Crowley‘s mysticism.[17]

Other traditions

Enlil was the god of air in ancient Sumer. Shu was the ancient Egyptian god of air and the husband of Tefnut, goddess of moisture. He became an emblem of strength by virtue of his role in separating Nut from Geb. He played a primary role in the Coffin Texts, which were spells intended to help the deceased reach the realm of the afterlife safely. On the way to the sky, the spirit had to travel through the air as one spell indicates: “I have gone up in Shu, I have climbed on the sunbeams.”[18]

In East Asia, air is seen as the equivalent of wood. Air is represented in the Aztec religion by a snake to the Scythians, a yoke to the Hindus and for Greeks as a sword[citation needed] and in Christian iconography as mankind.[clarification needed]



The Tarot Trump Correspondence: Atu – 0 – The Fool

the-fool-Its tarot trump is 0 – The Fool, implying just this airy aimlessness of existence. The card depicts a person dressed like a jester bearing over his shoulder a stick, on which hangs a bundle. Before him yawns a gaping precipice, while a little dog yaps at his feet from behind. On his the design of * which is Spirit.10 Spiritus is the Latin word meaning “air” or “breath.” The Tarot of Marseilles and related decks similarly depict a bearded person wearing what may be a jester‘s hat; he always carries a bundle of his belongings on a stick slung over his back. He appears to be getting chased away by an animal, either a dog or a cat. The animal has torn his pants.In the Rider-Waite Tarot deck and other esoteric decks made for cartomancy, the Fool is shown as a young man, standing on the brink of a precipice. In the Rider-Waite deck, he is also portrayed as having with him a small dog. The Fool holds a rose in one hand and in the other a small bundle of possessions.

In many esoteric systems of interpretation, the Fool is usually interpreted as the protagonist of a story, and the Major Arcana is the path the Fool takes through the great mysteries of life and the main human archetypes. This path is known traditionally in Tarot as the Fool´s Journey, and is frequently used to introduce the meaning of Major Arcana cards to beginners.[7] As Card 0, the Fool lies at the beginning of the major arcana, but also somewhat apart from the other cards. In his Manual of Cartomancy, Grand Orient has a curious suggestion of the office of Mystic Fool, as a part of his process in higher divination. The conventional explanations say that The Fool signifies the flesh, the sensitive life, depicting folly at the most insensate stage. When The Fool appears in a spread, he is a signal to strip down to the irreducible core, and interrogate whether the Querant’s self-vision is obscured. It may also be a warning that significant change is coming. In medieval courts, the court jester was someone who was not expected to follow the same rules as others. He could observe and then poke fun. This makes the Fool unpredictable and full of surprises. He reminds us of the unlimited potential and spontaneity inherent in every moment. There is a sense with this card that anything goes – nothing is certain or regular. The Fool adds the new and unfamiliar to a situation. Another interpretation of the card is that of taking action where the circumstances are unknown, confronting one’s fears, taking risks, and so on.

The Fool also represents the complete faith that life is good and worthy of trust. Some might call the Fool too innocent, but his innocence sustains him and brings him joy. In readings, the Fool can signal a new beginning or change of direction – one that will guide you onto a path of adventure, wonder and personal growth. He also reminds you to keep your faith and trust your natural responses. If you are facing a decision or moment of doubt, the Fool tells you to believe in yourself and follow your heart no matter how crazy or foolish your impulses may seem.


[7]Rachel Pollack, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom (Thorsons, 1980); Gareth Knight, The Magical World of the Tarot (Aquarian, 1991)

Aleph as the First Step of the Fool’s Pilgrimage

jester_fool-We begin with the Fool (0), a card of beginnings. The Fool stands for each of us as we begin our journey of life. He is a fool because only a simple soul has the innocent faith to undertake such a journey with all its hazards and pain. At the start of his trip, the Fool is a newborn – fresh, open and spontaneous. The figure on Card 0 has his arms flung wide, and his head held high. He is ready to embrace whatever comes his way, but he is also oblivious to the cliff edge he is about to cross. The Fool is unaware of the hardships he will face as he ventures out to learn the lessons of the world.

The Fool stands somewhat outside the rest of the major arcana. Zero is an unusual number. It rests in the exact middle of the number system – poised between the positive and negative. At birth, the Fool is set in the middle of his own individual universe. He is strangely empty (as is zero), but imbued with a desire to go forth and learn. This undertaking would seem to be folly, but is it?





 The Egyptian Deity Correspondence: Hoor-paar-Kraat

harpocrate--Hoor-paar-Kraat is the Egyptian lord of silence; he is usually depicted as holding his finger to his lips. Hoor-paar-Kraat is in fact ‘Horus-the-Younger’, or in other words Horus depicted as a young child. This is of course resonant with the caracteristics of his Tarot attribution, The Fool. Aleister Crowley in his Book of the Law described Hoor-paar-Kraat like this : “For I am perfect, being Not; and my number is nine by the fools; but with the just I am eight, and one in eight: Which is vital, for I am none indeed. The Empress and the King are not of me; for there is a further secret.”[8]

In late Greek mythology as developed in Ptolemaic Alexandria, Harpocrates (Ancient Greek: Ἁρποκράτης) is the god of silence. Harpocrates was adapted by the Greeks from the Egyptian child god Horus. To the ancient Egyptians, Horus represented the newborn Sun, rising each day at dawn. When the Greeks conquered Egypt under Alexander the Great, they transformed the Egyptian Horus into their Hellenistic god known as Harpocrates, a rendering from Egyptian Har-pa-khered or Heru-pa-khered (meaning “Horus the Child”).

Modern occultists display his image, loosely connected now with Hermetic gnosticism. Typically, “Harpocrates is the Babe in the Egg of Blue that sits upon the lotus flower in the Nile”. He may be termed the ‘God of Silence’ and said to represent the Higher Self and be the ‘Holy Guardian Angel’ and more in similar vein, adapted from Aleister Crowley‘s often-reprinted Magick. Many Discordians consider Harpo Marx to have been a contemporary avatar of Harpocrates. Because of this, Discordians often invoke Harpocrates as a Trickster god or God of Humor in addition to his classical attribution of God of Silence.[8]

Among the Egyptians the full-grown Horus was considered the victorious god of the Sun who each day overcomes darkness. He is often represented with the head of a sparrowhawk, which was sacred to him, as the hawk flies high above the Earth. Horus fought battles against Set, until he finally achieved victory and became the ruler of Egypt. All the Pharaohs of Egypt were seen as reincarnations of the victorious Horus.

Stelae depicting Heru-pa-Khered standing on the back of a crocodile and holding snakes in his outstretched hands were erected in Egyptian temple courtyards, where they would be immersed or lustrated in water; the water was then used for blessing and healing purposes as the name of Heru-pa-Khered was itself attributed with many protective and healing powers.

In the Alexandrian and Roman renewed vogue for mystery cults at the turn of the millennium — mystery cults had already existed for almost a millennium — the worship of Horus became widely extended, linked with Isis (his mother) and Serapis (Osiris, his father).

In this way Harpocrates, the child Horus, personifies the newborn sun each day, the first strength of the winter sun, and also the image of early vegetation. Egyptian statues represent the child Horus, pictured as a naked boy with his finger on his chin with the fingertip just below the lips of his mouth, a realization of the hieroglyph for “child” that is unrelated to the Greco-Roman and modern gesture for “silence”. Misunderstanding this sign, the later Greeks and Roman poets made Harpocrates the god of Silence and Secrecy, taking their cue from Marcus Terentius Varro, who asserted in De lingua Latina of Caelum (Sky) and Terra (Earth)

“These gods are the same as those who in Egypt are called Serapis and Isis,[2] though Harpocrates with his finger makes a sign to me to be quiet. The same first gods were in Latium called Saturn and Ops.”

Ovid described Isis:

“Upon her Isis’ brow stood the crescent moon-horns, garlanded with glittering heads of golden grain, and grace of royal dignity; and at her side the baying dog Anubis, dappled Apis, sacred Bubastis and the god who holds his finger to his lips for silence sake.”[3]

Inexpensive cast terracotta images of Harpocrates, suitable for house shrines, are found scattered throughout the Roman Empire. Thus Augustine of Hippo was aware of the iconic gesture of Harpocrates:

“And since in practically all the temples where Serapis and Isis were worshiped there was also a figure that seemed to enjoin silence by a finger pressed against its lips, Varro thinks this had the same meaning, that no mention should be made of their having been human beings”[4]

Martianus Capella, author of an allegorizing textbook that remained a standard through the Middle Ages recognized the image of the “boy with his finger pressed to his lips” but neglected to mention Harpocrates’ name: “… quidam redimitus puer ad os compresso digito salutari silentium commonebat“. The boy was identified, however, as Cupid in glosses,[5] a syncresis that had already resulted in the figure of Harpocratic Cupid (illustration, right).

Plutarch wrote that Harpocrates was the second son of Isis and that he was born prematurely with lame legs. Horus the Child became the special protector of children and their mothers. As he was healed of a poisonous snake bite by Re he became a symbol of hope in the gods looking after suffering humanity.[6]

Another solar cult, not directly connected with Harpocrates, was that of the Unconquered Sun, Sol Invictus.

The Greek Deity Correspondence: Jupiter/Zeus

jupiter--The Greco-Roman pantheon correspondence for path eleven (aleph) is Zeus and Jupiter, with particular reference to the airy aspect of Aleph. In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter (Latin Iuppiter) or Jove is the king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon. Jupiter may have begun as a sky-god, concerned mainly with wine festivals and associated with the sacred oak on the Capitol. If so, he developed a twofold character. He received the spolia opima and became a god of war; as Stator he made the armies stand firm and as Victor he gave them victory. As the sky-god, he was the first resort as a divine witness to oaths. This is of course the first aspect of Zeus/Jupiter, the sky God aspect, that interest us in this correspondence with path 11 and the figure of the Fool in the Tarot.

Jupiter (Latin: Iuppiter; /ˈjʊpɪtɛr/; genitive case: Iovis; /ˈjɔːvɪs/) or Jove is the king of the gods and the god of sky and thunder in ancient Roman religion and myth. Jupiter was the chief deity of Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras, until Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire. In Roman mythology, he negotiates with Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, to establish principles of Roman religion such as sacrifice.

Jupiter is usually thought to have originated as a sky god. His identifying implement is the thunderbolt, and his primary sacred animal is the eagle,[1] which held precedence over other birds in the taking of auspices[2] and became one of the most common symbols of the Roman army (see Aquila). The two emblems were often combined to represent the god in the form of an eagle holding in its claws a thunderbolt, frequently seen on Greek and Roman coins.[3] As the sky-god, he was a divine witness to oaths, the sacred trust on which justice and good government depend. Many of his functions were focused on the Capitoline (“Capitol Hill”), where the citadel was located. He was the chief deity of the early Capitoline Triad with Mars and Quirinus.[4] In the later Capitoline Triad, he was the central guardian of the state with Juno and Minerva. His sacred tree was the oak.

The Romans regarded Jupiter as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus,[5] and in Latin literature and Roman art, the myths and iconography of Zeus are adapted under the name Iuppiter. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Jupiter was the brother of Neptune and Pluto. Each presided over one of the three realms of the universe: sky, the waters, and the underworld. The Italic Diespiter was also a sky god who manifested himself in the daylight, usually but not always identified with Jupiter.[6] Tinia is usually regarded as his Etruscan counterpart.[7]

The Hindu Pantheon Correspondence : Marut (Vayu)

vayu-devaThe Hindu patheon attribution for the eleventh path of the Tree of Life is Marut (Vayu) which is put a strong emphasis to the airy aspect of Aleph. Vāyu (Sanskrit: वायु, IAST: Vāyu; Malay: Bayu, Thai: Phra Pai) is a primary Hindu deity, the Lord of the winds, the father of Bhima and the spiritual father of Lord Hanuman. He is also known as Vāta (वात), Pavana (पवन, the Purifier),[9] and sometimes Prāṇa (प्राण, the breath). As the word for air, (Vāyu) or wind (Pavana) is one of the Panchamahābhuta or five great elements. The Sanskrit word ‘Vāta’ literally means “blown“, ‘Vāyu’ “blower“, and ‘Prāna’ “breathing” (viz. the breath of life, cf. the *an- in ‘animate‘). Hence, the primary referent of the word is the “deity of Life”, who is sometimes for clarity referred to as “Mukhya-Vāyu” (the chief Vāyu) or “Mukhya Prāna” (the chief of Life). Sometimes the word “vayu,” which is more generally used in the sense of the physical air or wind, is used as a synonym for “prāna”.[10] There is however a separate set of five deities of Prāna (vital breath), Mukhya-Prāna being chief among them, so that, in Hindi,தமிழ்(Tamil) and other Indian languages, someone’s death is stated as “his lives departed” (uske prān nikal gaye) rather than “his life departed.” These five Vāyu deities, Prāna, Apāna, Vyāna, Udāna, and Samāna, control life (and the vital breath), the wind, touch/sensation, digestion, and excretion. Vāta, an additional name for Vāyu, is the root of the Sanskrit and Hindi term for “atmosphere”, vātāvaran (वातावरण).[11]

Scandinavian Pantheon Correspondence: The Valkiries

valkiriesThe Scandinavian pantheon correspondence is the Valkyries. The word valkyrie derives from Old Norse valkyrja (plural valkyrjur), which is composed of two words; the noun valr (referring to the slain on the battlefield) and the verb kjósa (meaning “to choose”). Together, they mean “chooser of the slain”.  So the Valkiries are female figures who decides who dies in battle. Selecting among half of those who die in battle (the other half go to the goddess Freyja‘s afterlife field Fólkvangr), the valkyries bring their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain, Valhalla, ruled over by the god Odin. There, the deceased warriors become einherjar. When the einherjar are not preparing for the events of Ragnarök, the valkyries bear them mead.  The Old Norse valkyrja is cognate to Old English wælcyrge.[1] Other terms for valkyries include óskmey (Old Norse “wish maid”), appearing in the poem Oddrúnargrátr, and Óðins meyjar (Old Norse “Odin‘s maids”), appearing in the Nafnaþulur. Óskmey may be related to the Odinic name Óski (Old Norse, roughly meaning “wish fulfiller”), referring to the fact that Odin receives slain warriors in Valhalla.[2]    The Valkiries is one of a host of female figures who choose those who may die in battle and those who may live. The Valkyries were Odin’s handmaidens who conducted the souls of the slain of Valhala.  The Old English cognate terms wælcyrge and wælcyrie appear in several Old English manuscripts, and scholars have explored whether the terms appear in Old English by way of Norse influence, or reflect a tradition also native among the Anglo-Saxon pagans. Scholarly theories have been proposed about the relation between the valkyries, the norns, the dísir, Germanic seeresses, and shieldmaidens, all but the latter of which are supernatural figures associated with fate. Archaeological excavations throughout Scandinavia have uncovered amulets theorized as depicting valkyries. Valkyries are mentioned or appear in the Poetic Edda poems Völuspá, Grímnismál, Völundarkviða, Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar, Helgakviða Hundingsbana I, Helgakviða Hundingsbana II, and Sigrdrífumál. In modern culture, valkyries have been the subject of works of art, musical works, video games and poetry.

Valkyries also appear as lovers of heroes and other mortals, where they are sometimes described as the daughters of royalty, sometimes accompanied by ravens, and sometimes connected to swans or horses. Valkyries are attested in the Poetic Edda, a book of poems compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda and Heimskringla (by Snorri Sturluson), and Njáls saga, a Saga of Icelanders, all written in the 13th century. They appear throughout the poetry of skalds, in a 14th century charm, and in various runic inscriptions.

The Old Norse poems Völuspá, Grímnismál, Darraðarljóð, and the Nafnaþulur section of the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, provide lists of valkyrie names. In addition, some valkyrie names appear solely outside of these lists, such as Sigrún (who is attested in the poems Helgakviða Hundingsbana I and Helgakviða Hundingsbana II). Many valkyrie names emphasize associations with battle and, in many cases, on the spear—a weapon heavily associated with the god Odin.[56] Some scholars propose that the names of the valkyries themselves contain no individuality, but are rather descriptive of the traits and nature of war-goddesses, and are possibly the descriptive creations of skalds.[57]

Some valkyrie names may be descriptive of the roles and abilities of the valkyries. The valkyrie name Herja has been theorized as pointing to a connection to the name of the goddess Hariasa, who is attested from a stone from 187 CE.[58] The name Herfjötur has been theorized as pointing to the ability of the valkyries to place fetters.[59] The name Svipul may be descriptive of the influence the valkyries have over wyrd or ørlog—a Germanic concept of fate.[60]


Various theories have been proposed about the origins and development of the valkyries from Germanic paganism to later Norse mythology. Rudolf Simek suggests valkyries were likely originally viewed as “demons of the dead to whom warriors slain on the battlefield belonged”, and that a shift in interpretation of the valkyries may have occurred “when the concept of Valhalla changed from a battlefield to a warrior’s paradise”. Simek says that this original concept was “superseded by the shield girls—Irish female warriors who lived on like the einherjar in Valhall.” Simek says that the valkyries were closely associated with Odin, and that this connection existed in an earlier role as “demons of death”. Simek states that due to the shift of concept, the valkyries became popular figures in heroic poetry, and during this transition were stripped of their “demonic characteristics and became more human, and therefore become capable of falling in love with mortals […].” Simek says that the majority of the names of the valkyries point to a warlike function, that most of valkyrie names do not appear to be very old, and that the names “mostly come from poetic creativity rather than from real folk-belief.”[69]

MacLeod and Mees theorize that “the role of the corpse-choosing valkyries became increasingly confused in later Norse mythology with that of the Norns, the supernatural females responsible for determining human destiny […].”[70]

Hilda Ellis Davidson says that, regarding valkyries, “evidently an elaborate literary picture has been built up by generations of poets and storytellers, in which several conceptions can be discerned. We recognize something akin to Norns, spirits who decide destinies of men; to the seeresses, who could protect men in battle with their spells; to the powerful female guardian spirits attached to certain families, bringing luck to youth under their protection; even to certain women who armed themselves and fought like men, for whom there is some historical evidence from the regions round the Black Sea.” She adds that there may also be a memory in this of a “priestess of the god of war, women who officiated at the sacrificial rites when captives were put to death after battle.”[71]

Davidson places emphasis on the fact that valkyrie literally means “chooser of the slain”. She compares Wulfstan’s mention of a “chooser of the slain” in his Sermo Lupi ad Anglos sermon, which appears among “a blacklist of sinners, witches, and evildoers”, to “all the other classes whom he [Wulfstan] mentions”, and concludes as those “are human ones, it seems unlikely that he has introduced mythological figures as well.” Davidson points out that Arab traveler Ibn Fadlan‘s detailed account of a 10th-century Rus ship funeral on the Volga River features an “old Hunnish woman, massive and grim to look upon” (who Fadlan refers to as the “Angel of Death”) who organizes the killing of the slave girl, and has two other women with her that Fadlan refers to as her daughters. Davidson says that “it would hardly be surprising if strange legends grew up about such women, who must have been kept apart from their kind due to their gruesome duties. Since it was often decided by lot which prisoners should be killed, the idea that the god “chose” his victims, through the instrument of the priestesses, must have been a familiar one, apart from the obvious assumption that some were chosen to fall in war.” Davidson says that it appears that from “early times” the Germanic peoples “believed in fierce female spirits doing the command of the war god, stirring up disorder, taking part in battle, seizing and perhaps devouring the slain.”[72]

The goddess Freyja and her afterlife field Fólkvangr, where she receives half of the slain, has been theorized as connected to the valkyries. Britt-Mari Näsström points out the description in Gylfaginning where it is said of Freyja “whenever she rides into battle she takes half of the slain”, and interprets Fólkvangr as “the field of the Warriors”. Näsström notes that, just like Odin, Freyja receives slain heroes who have died on the battlefield, and that her house is Sessrumnir (which she translates as “filled with many seats”), a dwelling that Näsström posits likely fills the same function as Valhalla. Näsström comments that “still, we must ask why there are two heroic paradises in the Old Norse view of afterlife. It might possibly be a consequence of different forms of initiation of warriors, where one part seemed to have belonged to Óðinn and the other to Freyja. These examples indicate that Freyja was a war-goddess, and she even appears as a valkyrie, literally ‘the one who chooses the slain’.”[73]

Siegfried Andres Dobat comments that “in her mythological role as the chooser of half the fallen warriors for her death realm Fólkvangr, the goddess Freyja, however, emerges as the mythological role model for the Valkyrjar [sic] and the dísir.”[74]

alkyries have been the subjects of various poems, works of art, and musical works. In poetry, valkyries appear in “Die Walküren” by H. Heine (appearing in Romanzero, 1847), “Die Walküren” (1864) by H. v. Linge, “Sköldmon” (appearing in Gömda Land, 1904).[69]

Works of art depicting valkyries include “Die Walküren” (sketch, 1818) by J. G. Sandberg, “Reitende Walküre” (fresco), previously located in Munich palace but now destroyed, 1865/1866 by M. Echter, “Valkyrien” and “Valkyriens død” (paintings, both from 1860), “Walkürenritt” (etching, 1871) by A. Welti, “Walkürenritt” (woodcut, 1871) by T. Pixis, “Walkürenritt” (1872) by A. Becker (reproduced in 1873 with the same title by A. v. Heyde), “Die Walkyren” (charcoal, 1880) and “Walkyren wählen und wecken die gefallenen Helden (Einherier), um sie vom Schlachtfield nach Walhall zu geleiten” (painting, 1882) and “Walkyrenschlacht” (oil painting, 1884) by K. Ehrenberg, “Walkürenritt” (oil painting, 1888, and etching, 1890) by A. Welti, “Walküre” (statue) by H. Günther, “Walkürenritt” (oil painting) by H. Hendrich, “Walkürenritt” (painting) by F. Leeke, “Einherier” (painting, from around 1900), by K. Dielitz, “The Ride of the Valkyries” (painting, from around 1900) by J. C. Dollman, “Valkyrie” (statue, 1910) and “Walhalla-freeze” (located in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, 1886/1887), “Walkyrien” (print, 1915) by A. Kolb, and “Valkyrier” (drawing, 1925) by E. Hansen.[75]


The Ride of the Valkyrs (1909) by John Charles Dollman

In music, valkyries play a major role in “Die Walküre” (1870) by Richard Wagner (the second of the four operas that comprise Der Ring des Nibelungen), in which the “Ride of the Valkyries” begins Act III. The heroine of the cycle, Brünnhilde, the chief valkyrie in Wagner’s mythos, is stripped of her immortality for defying the god Wotan (Odin) and trying to protect the condemned Siegmund.

Operation Valkyrie was a German Army plan that was converted into an attempted coup d’état that failed after the July 20 Plot (1944). The 2008 film Valkyrie is based on events surrounding the operation.

Valkyrie is a fictional superhero created in 1970 by Roy Thomas and John Buscema that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics, based on the Norse mythological figure Brynhildr.

On Star Trek Voyager during the episode entitled Death Wish Q: Say, is this a ship of the Valkyries? Or have you Human women finally done away with your men altogether? Square-Enix and Tri-Ace made a series of games titled “Valkyrie Profile” that features “Valkyries” and other Norse figures.

The XB-70 experimental bomber was nick-named the Valkyrie.

In 2013 NASA named its humanoid robot Valkyrie.

In the American anime series RWBY, in team JNPR one of their teammates is Nora Valkyrie who is inspired by the valkyries and even wields a war hammer much like Thor in Norse mythology.


The Planetary Correspondence: Uranus

uranusssIn the antiquity, no celestial attributions were given to this path, but in modern times the planet Uranus is frequently used.    Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. Uranus is similar in composition to Neptune, and both are of different chemical composition than the larger gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. For this reason, astronomers sometimes place them in a separate category called “ice giants“. Uranus’s atmosphere, although similar to Jupiter’s and Saturn’s in its primary composition of hydrogen and helium, contains more “ices” such as water, ammonia, and methane, along with traces of hydrocarbons.[12] It is the coldest planetary atmosphere in the Solar System, with a minimum temperature of 49 K (−224.2 °C), and has a complex, layered cloud structure, with water thought to make up the lowest clouds, and methane the uppermost layer of clouds.[12] In contrast, the interior of Uranus is mainly composed of ices and rock.[11]

It is the only planet whose name is derived from a figure from Greek mythology rather than Roman mythology like the other planets, from the Latinized version of the Greek god of the sky, Ouranos. Like the other giant planets, Uranus has a ring system, a magnetosphere, and numerous moons. The Uranian system has a unique configuration among those of the planets because its axis of rotation is tilted sideways, nearly into the plane of its revolution about the Sun. Its north and south poles therefore lie where most other planets have their equators.[16] In 1986, images from Voyager 2 showed Uranus as a virtually featureless planet in visible light without the cloud bands or storms associated with the other giants.[16] Terrestrial observers have seen signs of seasonal change and increased weather activity in recent years as Uranus approached its equinox. The wind speeds on Uranus can reach 250 meters per second (900 km/h, 560 mph).[17]

Though it is visible to the naked eye like the five classical planets, it was never recognized as a planet by ancient observers because of its dimness and slow orbit.[18] Sir William Herschel announced its discovery on March 13, 1781, expanding the known boundaries of the Solar System for the first time in history. Uranus was also the first planet discovered with a telescope.

For some modern Western astrologers, the planet Uranus (Uranus's astrological symbol.svg) is the ruling planet of Aquarius and is exalted in Scorpio. In Greek mythology, Uranus is the personification of the heavens and the night sky. The planet Uranus is very unusual among the planets in that it rotates on its side, so that it presents each of its poles to the Sun in turn during its orbit; causing both hemispheres to alternate between being bathed in light and lying in total darkness over the course of the orbit.

Uranus takes 84 years to orbit the Sun, spending about 7 years in each sign of the zodiac. Uranus was discovered only in 1781 by Sir William Herschel.

Astrologically modern interpretations associate Uranus with the principles of genius, individuality, new and unconventional ideas, discoveries, electricity, inventions, and the beginnings of the industrial revolution. Uranus, among all planets, most governs genius.

Uranus governs societies, clubs, and any group dedicated to humanitarian or progressive ideals. Uranus, the planet of sudden and unexpected changes, rules freedom and originality. In society, it rules radical ideas and people, as well as revolutionary events that upset established structures.

In art and literature, the discovery of Uranus coincided with the Romantic movement, which emphasized individuality and freedom of expression. In medicine, Uranus is believed to be particularly associated with the sympathetic nervous system, mental disorders, breakdowns and hysteria, spasms, and cramps. Uranus is considered by modern astrologers to be ruler of the eleventh house.[citation needed]

In astrology, the planet Uranus (Uranus's astrological symbol.svg) is the ruling planet of Aquarius. Because Uranus is colored cyan and Uranus is associated with electricity, the color electric blue, a color close to cyan, is associated with the sign Aquarius[128] (see Uranus in astrology).

The chemical element uranium, discovered in 1789 by the German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth, was named after the newly discovered planet Uranus.[129]

“Uranus, the Magician” is a movement in Gustav Holst‘s The Planets, written between 1914 and 1916.

Operation Uranus was the successful military operation in World War II by the Soviet army to take back Stalingrad and marked the turning point in the land war against the Wehrmacht.

The lines “Then felt I like some watcher of the skies/When a new planet swims into his ken”, from John Keats‘s “”On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer“, are a reference to Herschel’s discovery of Uranus.[130]

The Animal Correspondence: The Eagle

eagleThe animal appropriate to Aleph is the eagle, the king of the birds, since we learn from classical mythology that the eagle was sacred to Jupiter; whose sacrifices, generally consisted of bulls and cows. It is also an adequate totem choice since the eagle is the incontested master of all the creatures dwelling in the airs because of his strong predatorial nature and his ability to fly in high altitudes. The eagle symbolized strength, courage, farsightedness and immortality. It is considered to be the king of the air and the messenger of the highest Gods. The eagle was a symbol born by men of action, occupied with high and weighty affairs. It was given to those of lofty spirit, ingenuity, speed in comprehension, and discrimination in matters of ambiguity. The wings signify protection, and the gripping talons symbolize ruin to evildoers. The eagle is held to represent a noble nature from its strength and aristocratic appearance, as well as its association with the ancient kings of Persia, Babylon and the Roman legions, having been the official ensign of those empires. Since then, other empires and nations have also adopted the eagle as their symbol, such as the German third reich and the empire conquered by Napoleon. The eagle is also associated with the sun. As a Christian symbol, the eagle represents salvation, redemption and resurrection. Parts of the eagle such as the head, wings, legs or talons, are also often symbols in heraldry.

The Magical Weapon Correspondence: The Dagger or Fan

Steel_daggerThe fan as a magical weapon is attributed to Aleph, having an obvious reference to Air. The dagger is one of history’s most infamous tools. This short, double-edge blade has been used in close combat for centuries. St. Peter used a dagger to slice off the ear of a Roman soldier on the night Jesus was arrested. When Caesar was stabbed over 23 times by his closest allies, the dagger was the weapon of choice. Since time immemorial, the dagger has existed primarily as a secondary defense in close combat. In the context of ritual magic, the Sword and Dagger are magical weapons to be used in the Watchtower of Air. The Sword cuts and dissects like the mind, when focussed on a complex idea. Its nature is division and separation. The dagger pierces like the penetrating power of thought against an illusion. The Dagger is often used by advanced magicians because, like a dagger’s stab lets blood, so the dagger’s trust can extinguish the emotions that often accompagny a magician in the exploration of the dark corners of the psyche.

A dagger is a fighting weapon with a very sharp point designed or capable of being used as a thrusting or stabbing weapon.[1][2] The design dates to human prehistory, and daggers have been used throughout human experience to the modern day in close combat confrontations.[3] Many ancient cultures used adorned daggers in ritual and ceremonial purposes, a trend which continues to the present time in the form of art knives. The distinctive shape and historic usage of the dagger have made it iconic and symbolic.

Over the years, the term has been used to describe a wide variety of thrusting knives, including knives that feature only a single cutting edge, such as the European rondel dagger or the Persian pesh-kabz, or, in some instances, no cutting edge at all, such as the stiletto of the Renaissance. However, over the last hundred years or so, authorities have recognized that the dagger, in its contemporary or mature form, has certain definable characteristics, including a short blade with a sharply tapered point, a central spine or fuller, and (usually) two cutting edges sharpened the full length of the blade, or nearly so.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Most daggers also feature a full crossguard to keep the hand from riding forwards onto the sharpened blade edges. Another distinctive feature of the modern dagger is that it is designed to position the blade horizontally when using a conventional palm grip, enabling the user to slash right or left as well as thrust the blade between an opponent’s ribs.[5] The twin full-length edges enable the user to make broad slashes (cuts) using either a forehand or backhand arm movement, while the sharp, acutely pointed tip makes the knife an effective thrusting or stabbing weapon.[5][10] This versatility distinguishes the modern dagger from more specialized thrusting knives, such as the stiletto.[10][11]

Much like battle axes, daggers evolved out of prehistoric tools. In Neolithic times, daggers were made of materials such as flint, ivory or bone and were used as weapons since the earliest periods of human civilization. The earliest metal daggers are of copper and appear in the early Bronze Age, in the 3rd millennium BCE, predating the Bronze Age sword.[12]

From pre-dynastic Egypt,[13] daggers were adorned as ceremonial objects with golden hilts and later even more ornate and varied construction. One early silver dagger was recovered with midrib design. Traditionally, some military and naval officers wore dress daggers as symbols of power, and modern soldiers are still equipped with combat knives and knife bayonets. Copper daggers of Early Minoan III were recovered at Knossos.[14]

In ancient Egypt, daggers were usually made of copper or bronze, while royalty had gold weapons. The 1924 opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun revealed two daggers, one with a gold blade, and one of smelted iron. Iron ore was not found in Egypt, making the iron dagger rare, and the context suggests that the iron dagger was valued on a level equal to that of its ceremonial gold counterpart.[15] The iron dagger is actually a majority iron content alloy that is considered to be of meteoric origin.[16]

One of the earliest objects made of smelted iron dates is a dagger dating to before 2000 BCE, found in a context that suggests it was treated as an ornamental object of great value. Found in a Hattic royal tomb dated about 2500 BCE, at Alaca Höyük in northern Anatolia, the dagger has a smelted iron blade and a gold handle.[17]

During the Roman Empire, legionaries were issued a pugio (from the Latin pugnō, or “fight”), a double-edged iron thrusting dagger with a blade of 7–12 inches. The design and fabrication of the pugio was taken directly from Iberian daggers and short swords; the Romans even adopted the triangular-bladed Iberian dagger, which they called the parazonium.[18] Like the gladius, the pugio was most often used as a thrusting (stabbing weapon). As an extreme close-quarter combat weapon, the pugio was the Roman soldier’s last line of defense. When not in battle, the pugio served as a convenient utility knife.[21]

The term dagger appears only in the Late Middle Ages, reflecting the fact that while the dagger had been known in antiquity, it had disappeared during the Early Middle Ages, replaced by the hewing knife or seax.[22][23]

The dagger reappeared in the 12th century as the “knightly dagger”, or more properly cross-hilt or quillon dagger,[24] and was developed into a common arm and tool for civilian use by the late medieval period.[25]

The earliest known depiction of a cross-hilt dagger is the so-called “Guido relief” inside the Grossmünster of Zürich (c. 1120).[26] A number of depictions of the fully developed cross-hilt dagger are found in the Morgan Bible (c. 1240). Many of these cross-hilt daggers resemble miniature swords, with cross guards and pommels very similar in form to swords of the period.[27] Others, however, are not an exact match to known sword designs, having for example pommel caps, large hollow star shaped pommels on so-called “Burgundian Heraldic daggers” or antenna style cross and pommel, reminiscent of Hallstatt era daggers.[28] The cross-hilt type persisted well into the Renaissance [29]

The Old French term dague appears to have referred to these weapons in the 13th century, alongside other terms such as poignal and basilard. The Middle English dagger is used from the 1380s.

During this time, the dagger was often employed in the role of a secondary defense weapon in close combat. The knightly dagger evolved into the larger baselard knife in the 14th century. The baselard was considered an intermediate between a short sword and a long dagger, and became popular also as a civilian weapon. Sloane MS. 2593 (c. 1400) records a song satirizing the use of oversized baselard knives as fashion accessories.[30]

In the Late Middle Ages, knives with blade designs that emphasized thrusting attacks, such as the stiletto, became increasingly popular, and some thrusting knives commonly referred to as ‘daggers’ ceased to have a cutting edge. This was a response to the deployment of heavy armor, such as maille and plate armour, where cutting attacks were ineffective and focus was on thrusts with narrow blades to punch through mail or aim at armour plate intersections (or the eye slits of the helmet visor).


The Color Correspondence: Sky Blue

Sky_Blue_429695_i0The color correspondence for the first path of the qabalistic Tree of Life (Aleph) is sky blue[12] of course as a reference to the element of Air and to all the sky gods that are attributed to it. In Greek and Roman days, blue symbolism was associated with the sky gods Jupiter, Juno and Mercury. In Judaism, blue symbolism is connected to God the Father. In the Catholic Church, blue symbolism is most closely related to the Virgin Mary, the Queen of Heaven. In Islam, blue symbolism (including turquoise) is the color both of religion and community and is often used for decorating mosques.   Sky blue is the name of a colour, first recorded in English in the 1728 Cyclopædia of Ephraim Chambers.[1] Prior to the Chambers reference, the colour had first been used in 1585 in a book by Nicolas De Nicolay where he stated “the tulbant of the merchant must be skie coloured“.[2][3]   Displayed at right is the web colour sky blue.   Although the headquarters of the Church of Scientology near Hemet, California is called the Gold Base, all of the buildings there are coloured various tones of sky blue.  A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed, published in 1990, is an examination from a critical perspective by former British Scientologist Jon Atack of the history of L. Ron Hubbard (1911–1986) and the development of Dianetics and the Church of Scientology. The title originates from a quote of Hubbard’s from 1950, when he reportedly said he wanted to sell potential church members a “piece of blue sky.”[18]

The Jewel Correspondence: the Topaz

london-blue-topaz-gem-1The Jewel Correspondence for the first path of the qabalistic Tree of Life (Aleph) is topaz and chalcedony. Topaz is a silicate mineral of aluminium and fluorine. Topaz crystallizes in the orthorhombic system and its crystals are mostly prismatic terminated by pyramidal and other faces. Many modern English translations of the Bible, including the King James Version mention Topaz in reference to a stone in the Hoshen: “And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle (Garnet): this shall be the first row.”[13]

Topaz is a silicate mineral of aluminium and fluorine with the chemical formula Al2SiO4(F,OH)2. Topaz crystallizes in the orthorhombic system, and its crystals are mostly prismatic terminated by pyramidal and other faces.

The name “topaz” is derived (via Old French: Topace and Latin: Topazus) from the Greek Τοπάζιος (Τοpáziοs) or Τοπάζιον (Τοpáziοn),[13] the ancient name of St. John’s Island in the Red Sea which was difficult to find and from which a yellow stone (now believed to be chrysolite: yellowish olivine) was mined in ancient times; topaz itself (rather than topazios) was not really known before the classical era. Pliny said that Topazos is a legendary island in the Red Sea and the mineral “topaz” was first mined there.

The word topaz is related to the Sanskrit word तपस् “tapas” meaning “heat” or “fire”,[13] and also to the Hebrew word for “orange” (the fruit): tapooz (תפוז), both of which predate the Greek word.

Pure topaz is colorless and transparent but is usually tinted by impurities; typical topaz is wine, yellow, pale gray, reddish-orange, or blue brown. It can also be made white, pale green, blue, gold, pink (rare), reddish-yellow or opaque to transparent/translucent.

Orange topaz, also known as precious topaz, is the traditional November birthstone, the symbol of friendship, and the state gemstone of the US state of Utah.[5]

Imperial topaz is yellow, pink (rare, if natural) or pink-orange. Brazilian Imperial Topaz can often have a bright yellow to deep golden brown hue, sometimes even violet. Many brown or pale topazes are treated to make them bright yellow, gold, pink or violet colored. Some imperial topaz stones can fade on exposure to sunlight for an extended period of time.[6][7]

Blue topaz is the state gemstone of the US state of Texas.[8] Naturally occurring blue topaz is quite rare. Typically, colorless, gray or pale yellow and blue material is heat treated and irradiated to produce a more desired darker blue.[7]

Mystic topaz is colorless topaz which has been artificially coated giving it the desired rainbow effect.[9]

Nicols, the author of one of the first systematic treatises on minerals and gemstones, dedicated two chapters to the topic in 1652.[14] In the Middle Ages, the name topaz was used to refer to any yellow gemstone, but in modern times it denotes only the silicate described above.

Many modern English translations of the Bible, including the King James Version mention topaz in Exodus 28:17 in reference to a stone in the Hoshen: “And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle (garnet): this shall be the first row.”

However, because these translations as topaz all derive from the Septuagint translation topazi[os], which as mentioned above referred to a yellow stone that was not topaz, but probably chrysolite (chrysoberyl or peridot), it should be borne in mind that topaz is likely not meant here.[15] The masoretic text (the Hebrew on which most modern Protestant Bible translations of the Old Testament are based) has pitdah as the gem the stone is made from; some scholars think it is related to an Assyrian word meaning “flashed”.[citation needed]

More likely, pitdah is derived from Sanskrit words (पीत pit = yellow, दह् dah = burn), meaning “yellow burn” or, metaphorically, “fiery”[citation needed].




[13] Bible, Exodus 28:17

The Perfume Correspondence: Galbanum

galbanummmThe perfume correspondence of the first path of the Tree of Life (Aleph) is galbanum. Galbanum is an aromatic gum resin, the product of certain umbelliferous Persian plant species, chiefly Ferula gummosa (synonym F. galbaniflua) and Ferula rubricaulis. Galbanum-yielding plants grow plentifully on the slopes of the mountain ranges of northern Iran. It occurs usually in hard or soft, irregular, more or less translucent and shining lumps, or occasionally in separate tears, of a light-brown, yellowish or greenish-yellow colour, and has a disagreeable, bitter taste, a peculiar, somewhat musky odour, an intense green scent, and a specific gravity of 1.212. In the Book of Exodus 30:34, it is mentioned as being used in the making of a Ketoret which is used when referring to the consecrated incense described in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud. It is also referred to as the HaKetoret (the incense). It was offered on the specialized incense altar in the time when the Tabernacle was located in the First and Second Jerusalem Temples. The ketoret was an important component of the Temple service in Jerusalem. Rashi of the 12th century comments on this passage that galabanum is bitter and was included in the incense as a reminder of deliberate and unrepentant sinners. Hippocrates employed it in medicine, and Pliny ascribes to it extraordinary curative powers, concluding his account of it with the assertion that “the very touch of it mixed with oil of spondylium is sufficient to kill a serpent.”[14] The drug is occasionally given in modern medicine, in doses of from five to fifteen grains. It has the actions common to substances containing a resin and a volatile oil. Its use in medicine is, however, obsolete. Galbanum was highly treasured as a sacred substance by the ancient Egyptians. The “green” incense of Egyptian antiquity is believed to have been galbanum. Galbanum resin has a very intense green scent accompanied by a turpentine odor. The initial notes are a very bitter, acrid, and peculiar scent followed by a complex green, spicy, woody, balsamlike fragrance. When diluted the scent of galbanum has variously been described as reminiscent of pine (due to the pinene and limonene content), evergreen, green bamboo, parsley, green apples, musk, or simply intense green. The oil has a pine like topnote which is less pronounced in the odor of the resinoid. The latter, in turn, has a more woody balsamic, conifer resinous character. Galbanum is frequently adulterated with pine oil.[15] Galbanum oil is steam-distilled to yield a green, fruity-floral odor reminiscent of green apples.[16]


[14] Pliny the Elder, Natural Hist. xxiv. P. 13.

[15] McAndrew, B.A; Michalkiewicz, D.M; “Analysis of Galbanum Oils”. Dev Food Sci. Amsterdam: Elsevier Scientific Publications 1988 v 18 pp 573 – 585; Lawrence, B.M; “Progress in Essential Oils” ‘Perfumer and Flavorist’ August/September 1978 vol 3, No 4 p 54

[16] Richard Alan Miller, Iona Miller, 1990. The Magical and Ritual Use of Perfumes, page 81

The Drug Correspondence: Peppermint

mintPeppermint (Mentha × piperita, also known as M. balsamea Willd.[1]) is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint.[2] The plant, indigenous to Europe, is now widespread in cultivation throughout all regions of the world.[3] It is found wild occasionally with its parent species.[3][4]

Peppermint was first described in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus from specimens that had been collected in England; he treated it as a species,[5] but it is now universally agreed to be a hybrid.[6]

It is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant growing to 30–90 cm (12–35 in) tall, with smooth stems, square in cross section. The rhizomes are wide-spreading, fleshy, and bare fibrous roots. The leaves are from 4–9 cm (1.6–3.5 in) long and 1.5–4 cm (0.59–1.57 in) broad, dark green with reddish veins, and with an acute apex and coarsely toothed margins. The leaves and stems are usually slightly fuzzy. The flowers are purple, 6–8 mm (0.24–0.31 in) long, with a four-lobed corolla about 5 mm (0.20 in) diameter; they are produced in whorls (verticillasters) around the stem, forming thick, blunt spikes. Flowering is from mid to late summer. Peppermint is a fast growing plant once it sprouts, it spreads very quickly.

Peppermint has a high menthol content. The oil also contains menthone and menthyl esters, particularly menthyl acetate.[12] Dried peppermint typically has 0.3-0.4% of volatile oil containing menthol (7-48%), menthone (20-46%), menthyl acetate (3-10%), menthofuran (1-17%) and 1,8-cineol (3-6%). Peppermint oil also contains small amounts of many additional compounds including limonene, pulegone, caryophyllene and pinene.[13][14]

Peppermint has been one of the popular herbs known since antiquity for its distinctive aroma and medicinal value. In “Ebers Papyrus’, which is one of the oldest existing text, is mentioned that peppermint was used for aid digestion. It is said that the name mentha derives from Minthe, the legendary nymph who had been changed into plant mint by Persephone, the wife of god of death Pluto because she envied Pluto’s love for Minthe. Peppermint Oil is well known for its great analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and digestive properties. Nowadays, it is used for deodorising the air due to its strong cooling aroma, for soothing various conditions of digestive system, for treating skin issues, coxalgia and even as a insect repellent. The herb has a characteristic refreshing cool breeze sensation when eaten on taste buds, palate and throat, and on nasal olfaction glands when inhaled. This unique quality of mint is due menthol, an essential oil in it. Peppermint has been used for liver and gallbladder complaints, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, respiratory infections, menstrual cramps, toothache, the common cold, cough, and fever. Topically, peppermint has been used for muscle and nerve pain and as an antiseptic.

It is the oldest and most popular flavour of mint-flavoured confectionery and is often used in tea and for flavouring ice cream, confectionery, chewing gum, and toothpaste. Peppermint can also be found in some shampoos, soaps and skin care products.

Menthol activates cold-sensitive TRPM8 receptors in the skin and mucosal tissues, and is the primary source of the cooling sensation that follows the topical application of peppermint oil.[15]

Peppermint flowers are large nectar producers and honey bees as well as other nectar harvesting organisms forage them heavily. A mild, pleasant varietal honey can be produced if there is a sufficient area of plants.

Peppermint has a long tradition of medicinal use, with archaeological evidence placing its use at least as far back as ten thousand years ago.[citation needed]

Peppermint is commonly used to soothe or treat symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, indigestion, irritable bowel, and bloating.[16][17][18]

One animal study has suggested that Peppermint may have radioprotective effects in patients undergoing cancer treatment.[19]

The aroma of peppermint has been found to enhance memory and alertness,[20][21] although other research contests this.[22] Peppermint is used in aroma therapy.

Peppermint oil has a high concentration of natural pesticides, mainly pulegone (Found mainly in Mentha arvensis var. piperascens Cornmint, Field Mint, Japanese Mint and to a lesser extent-6,530 ppm in Mentha x piperita subsp. nothosubsp. piperita[23]) and menthone.[24]

The chemical composition of the essential oil from peppermint (Mentha x piperita L.) was analyzed by GC/FID and GC-MS. The main constituents were menthol (40.7%) and menthone (23.4%). Further components were (+/-)-menthyl acetate, 1,8-cineole, limonene, beta-pinene and beta-caryophyllene.[25]

Medicinal use

In 2007, Italian investigators reported that 75% of the patients in their study who took peppermint oil capsules for four weeks had a major reduction in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms, compared with just 38% of those who took a placebo.[26] A second study in 2010, conducted in Iran, found similar results.[27] 2011 research showed that peppermint acts through a specific anti-pain channel called TRPM8 to reduce pain sensing fibres.[citation needed] The authors feel that this study provides information that is potentially the first step in determining a new type of mainstream clinical treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.[28]

According to the German Commission E monographs, peppermint oil (as well as peppermint leaf) has been used internally as an antispasmodic (upper gastrointestinal tract and bile ducts) and to treat irritable bowel syndrome, catarrh of the respiratory tract, and inflammation of the oral mucosa. Externally, peppermint oil has been used for myalgia and neuralgia. According to the German Commission E, peppermint oil may also act as a carminative, cholagogue, antibacterial, and secretolytic, and it has a cooling action.[29]

Enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules (Colpermin) been used as an orally administered antispasmodic premedication in colonoscopy. The capsules were found beneficial in reducing total procedure time, reducing colonic spasm, increasing endoscopist satisfaction and decreasing pain in patients during colonoscopy.[30]

Similarly, some poorly designed earlier trials found that peppermint oil has the ability to reduce colicky abdominal pain due to IBS with an NNT (number needed to treat) around 3.1,[31] but the oil is an irritant to the stomach in the quantity required and therefore needs wrapping for delayed release in the intestine. This could also be achieved by using the whole herb or leaves rather than the volatile components alone.

Due to the menthol constituent, topical use of peppermint oil around the facial or chest areas of infants and young children, especially around the nose, can induce apnea, laryngeal and bronchial spasm, acute respiratory distress with cyanosis, or respiratory arrest.[32] It is also used in construction and plumbing to test for the tightness of pipes and disclose leaks by its odor.[33]

Peppermint oil may cause or worsen heartburn.[citation needed]


The toxicity studies of the plant have received controversial results. Some authors reported that the plant may induce hepatic diseases (liver disease), while others found that it protects against liver damage that is caused by heavy metals.[34][35] In addition to that, the toxicities of the plant seem to vary from one cultivar to another[36] and are dose dependent.[34][37] This is probably attributed from the content level of pulegone.[38]

With the limitation that the concentration of pulegone should not exceed 1%, it has been concluded that Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaves, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Water are safe as used in cosmetic formulations.[39]

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