Tag Archives: Christopher Lee Matthews

Gemstones of the Moon

V0024874 Astronomy: Diana, as Moon goddess, an angel above looking he Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Astronomy: Diana, as Moon goddess, an angel above looking heavenward. Engraving by N. Dorigny, 1695, after Raphael, 1516. 1695 By: Raphaelafter: Nicolas DorignyPublished: 1695 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

(A 17th century engraving of Diana the Moon goddess, with an angel above her, by the French artist Nicolas Dorigny.  The crab on her head signifies the zodiac sign Cancer, which is ruled by the Moon.  Image Source: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.)

THE PLANETARY GEMSTONES OF THE MOON

Although mostly forgotten today, there are traditional connections between astrology and the mineral kingdom.  The birthstones are actually a 20th century invention but they echo an ancient belief that each planet and zodiac sign had gemstones associated with it.  Although these listings vary, they follow a simple rule.  Each material has a symbolic connection with the planet and therefore could serve as a vehicle for its energy.

THE SILVER MIRROR

“The moon is a silver pin head vase, that holds the heaven’s
tent-hangings fast.”
~William R. Alger, 19th century Unitarian minister and author~

Both the Moon, and many of its spiritual beings, were associated historically with silver.  The metal resembles both moonlight and water.  While it tarnishes black, it can be restored by polishing, similar to the changing phases of the Moon.  All metals were once luxury goods.  Their shiny surfaces reminded people of the light emitted by certain celestial bodies.  Because gold does not tarnish, it was associated with the consistent appearance of the Sun.  Silver was seen as “semi perfect”, representing the cool light of the changeable Moon, while the other planetary metals were “imperfect”.

Most of the metaphysical properties of silver derive from its physical characteristics, lunar connection, or use as currency.  Silver’s durability but susceptibility to corruption made it a symbol of both morality and redemption in the West.  Although the metal tarnishes, said to represent sin traditionally, it can easily be restored by cleaning.   This quality is interpreted more neutrally today as supporting personal growth, self knowledge, and cleansing heavy energies.

Silver has been used historically to make mirrors, often in the round shape of the Moon.  The reflective metal came to represent spiritual sight like intuition, personal reflection, and the deflection of negativity.  Because of its connection to the night, it also signifies protection from the forces of darkness, just as silver bullets are thought to injure werewolves in contemporary folklore.

While most countries adopted the gold standard from the mid 19th to 20th centuries, where paper currency could be exchanged for its equivalent value in gold, silver was the principle metal used for commerce for centuries before that, associating it also with abundance, good luck, and success.

1: Silver

moongemstones(A black moonstone sphere and pink moonstone rough on a handout from our workshop.  As the name implies, moonstone is traditionally associated with the Moon.   The term is applied to different varieties of the mineral feldspar that display adularescence, a bluish white sheen on the surface.  Image Source: Christopher Lee Matthews.)

THE CHILDREN OF THE MOON

Not only do the planets correspond to certain areas of life, each is traditionally associated with specific animals, plants, and minerals. For example, the 16th century German writer Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa lists the following materials under the rulership of the Moon:

Amongst Metals, Silver; amongst stones, Crystall (A), the Silver Marcasite (B), and all those stones that are White, and Green.  Also the stone Selenites (C), Lunary, shining from a white body, with a yellow brightness, imitating the motion of the Moon, having in it the figure of the Moon which daily increaseth, or decreaseth as doth the Moon. Also Pearls, which are generated in shels of fishes from the droppings of Water, also the Berill (D).

A = Quartz.  B = Arsenopyrite.  C = A name used for both gypsum and moonstone historically.  D = Beryl but more likely, aquamarine.

(It can be difficult to correctly identify stones in historic texts.  Names drift over time and minerals recognized today as completely different things were unknowingly seen as one gemstone, named by their color.  For example, topaz once meant peridot, then all translucent yellow stones, and eventually the aluminum silicate we know today.)

Other period astrological texts also include:

All soft stones (Lily, 17th century).

Nabatean glass (E), white stones, emerald, moonstone. Silver and things manufactured of silver, such as cups, bangles, rings and the like, pearls, crystal, beads strung (Al-Biruni, 11th century).

E = A luxury trade good in antiquity, from Southern Jordan.

moongrid(A lunar crystal grid from a planetary gemstone workshop.  It has a girasol quartz center stone, often sold under the trade name “moon quartz”.   One arm has selenite, aquamarine, and aragonite, a mineral used by sea creatures to produce their shells.   The other one has silver leaf in bottles, moss agate, rainbow moonstone, and abalone shell.  Image Source: Christopher Lee Matthews.)

By reverse engineering these correspondences, we can learn lunar qualities in stones generally:

2: Stones that resemble the moon in color or have a white flash, once thought to change with its phases: selenite, the trade name for crystalline gypsum, and the various feldspars with a flash known as moonstoneGirasol quartz is commonly sold as “Moon quartz”.  It is an uncommon white cousin of rose quartz, with a golden blue glow.

3: Materials that resemble water: clear quartz, beryl (aquamarine), and glass.  The Moon is associated with water, especially the ocean, because of its influence over the tides.  We are surrounded by glass today but it was once an incredibly prized material.  As translucent as water and often used to hold liquids, one can see how period authors considered it lunar.

4: Precious materials from the sea, often organic in origin, like pearl, coral, and shell.

5: Green stones that representing growth.  Historically the Moon was thought to rule the movement of all water, not just the oceans, so also represented the growth of crops from rain.

fullmoongrid(A Full Moon crystal grid from our website, www.etemetaphysical.com.  It also has a girasol quartz center stone.   One arm has rose quartz, aquamarine, milk quartz, and celestite crystals.  The other one has rough moonstone, amethyst, and clear quartz points.  A border of white salt chunks surrounds the entire grid.  Image Source: Christopher Lee Matthews.)

TEARS OF THE SEA

“He who would search for pearls must dive below.”
~John Dryden, 17th century English poet~

There is a long tradition of using gems in India to counter balance problems with both the natal chart and transiting planets. Large, flawless stones, usually set in specific metals are prescribed. Each planet has a primary gemstone, if one of sufficient size can not be found or is too expensive, then an alternative in a similar color is used. The primary stone of Chandra (the Moon) is pearl and its substitutes also appear lunar like moonstone.

A pearl is an organic object produced by certain molluscs, most notably the oyster. They form to protect the animal from injury or a foreign body, wrapping it in layers of the minerals calcite and aragonite and the protein conchiolin. Natural pearls are a rare occurrence and were once the most precious jewelry material available, known as the “queen of gems”. In the early 1900’s techniques were developed in Japan to produce cultured pearls, which made them available to the greater public.

Because of their white color, biological purpose, and layers, pearls represent purification, spiritual protection, and the overcoming of obstacles. Since they come from the ocean and are round like the Moon, they are lunar symbols, connected to the emotions, romance, and traits culturally associated with the feminine like intuition. Pearls are also said to have a calming effect, just like they help the oyster with an irritant, or are used to reveal and pacify the root of a personal wound.

6: Hindu astrological gemstones: Pearl and moonstone.

fullmoon(The Full Moon. Image Source: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.)

MODERN ASSOCIATIONS

“Though the terror of the sea gives to none security, in the secret of the shell, Self preserving we may dwell.”
~Muhammad Iqbal, early 20th century Pakistani poet~

Astrological texts rely mostly on gemstones known in antiquity. Many new minerals have been discovered, others have become readily available, and familiar ones have turned out to be more than one type.

Because the Moon influences the tide, it has a close relationship to the ocean.  While shell, coral, and pearls are commonly seen as lunar materials, the rock world also has marine fossils.  Many of them have a symbolic connection to the home, traditionally ruled by the Moon in astrology.

7: Ammonites: The ammonites were squid like animals with an external shell.  They created increasingly larger chambers to accommodate their bodies as they grew.  Since the ammonites carried their homes with them, many contemporary metaphysical books associate them with the spiral journey of life, house blessings, and managing psychic gifts like empathy.

8: Sand Dollars and Sea Urchins: Historically in England fossil echinoids were placed near doors, windows, and hearths to watch over the home and bless the kitchen, especially the making of bread.  Sand dollars are associated metaphysically with wealth, spiritual guidance, and protection, guarding the openings of a house or the chakras of the energy body.

This blog is part of a series on the planetary gemstones, adapted from my workshops on the topic.  Some articles are on my old personal blog.

Gemstones of the Sun
Gemstone of the Moon
Gemstones of Mercury
Gemstones of Venus
Gemstones of Mars
Gemstones of Jupiter
Gemstones of Saturn

©2016 Christopher Lee Matthews
christopher@entertheearth.com

Sacred Geometry: The Seed of Life, Vesica Piscis, and the Merkaba

What is the “Seed of Life”?

The “Seed of Life” is a contemporary name for an ancient geometric figure.  It consists of seven overlapping circles with the same diameter.  Six of them are regularly spaced within the seventh, producing a rosette with eighteen lens shaped petals: six smaller ones inside and twelve larger ones outside.

seedoflifeincircle
This figure can be replicated in six different directions, creating an interlocking net of circles and rosettes.  A version constructed from nineteen circles is known today as the “Flower of Life”.

floweroflife
The names “Seed of Life” and “Flower of Life” are modern, popularized by the author Drunvalo Melchizedek in his workshops and books on sacred geometry since the mid 1980’s.  He attributes these teachings to his angelic guides and a spiritual master related to the Egyptian deity Thoth, the patron of communication, wisdom, and science.

euclidgeometry(A 14th century hexagonal panel of Euclid by Nino Pisano.  As the “father of geometry”, Euclid is representing Architecture in a sculptural series of the Liberal Arts.  He is depicted using a drawing compass at a workbench.  Image Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons.)

How were geometric figures constructed historically?

These rosettes comes from a long tradition of making geometric figures by hand.

The traditional tools of geometry are the straightedge and the compass, an instrument with two movable legs used to make circles.  Compass drawn circles can be used to map out regular polygons like the square.  The classic example is using two overlapping circles of equal diameter, the perimeter of each circle aligned to the center of the other, to create an equilateral triangle.

This is the first proposition of Euclid’s Elements, the foundational text of geometry since the 3rd century BCE.  As the regular polygon with the smallest number of points, the triangle was seen as the first shape.  Circles and arcs are similarly used to construct other geometric figures, like the pentagon.

euclidbyrnedurerpentagonconstruction(Above: A mid 19th century illustration of Euclid’s first proposition by Oliver Byrne.  Below: A 16th century illustration by Albert Dürer showing the construction of a pentagon with a compass and straightedge.  Image Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons.)

How is the Seed of Life created?

The Seed of Life is also created by overlapping circles of the same diameter (purple), creating a pointed oval between them (pink).

seedoflifeconstruction2
Focus on the top circle of the Seed of Life.  Its outer edge rests on the center of its two direct neighbors and the central circle (all dark purple), creating three areas of overlap (pink).  (The horizontal one is more difficult to see because it covered up by the crossing of the two vertical ones.)  This arrangement is found in all six of the outer circles, while the seventh overlaps them all.

seedoflifeconstruction1seedoflifegeneration

Image Source: Adaptation of a public domain image, Wikimedia Commons.)

The Seed of Life is easily constructed with a compass.  Make a circle.  Measure the circle with the compass to keep the same diameter.  Create a second circle, placing its outer edge at the center of the first one.  Make a third circle, aligning it to both circles.  Then continue this pattern until you return to the original circle.

seedoflifeexamples06Image Source: Adaptation of a public domain image, Wikimedia Commons.)

Additional figures can be created by repeating or cropping the basic form.  The rosette can be expanded in six different directions, creating a continuous network of intersecting circles with six lenses.  This can be repeated infinitely or stopped after filling a certain area.  The figure we call the “Flower of Life” today is a symmetrical network made from 19 circles.

Finally the inner circle may be used by itself, with or without additional lens shaped petals from neighboring circles in the net along its outer edge.

mosaicrosettefloweroflifedoor (Above:  6th century Italian mosaic with the six petal rosette as a flower, among other botanical motifs.  Below: Interlocking rosettes as a door decoration on a 19th century wooden church in Lozna, Romania.  Image Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons.)

What does the Seed of Life mean?

Although the names “Seed of Life” and “Flower of Life” are contemporary, the geometric figures themselves have a long history.  They are first documented in the ancient Near East, during the second millennium BCE.  Despite their age and cross cultural use, we know surprisingly little about their traditional names or meanings:

1: A Flower:  As the name rosette (French, “little rose”) implies, the figure resembles a flower.  A tradition of using geometrically stylized flowers, leave, and branches as decorative elements originated in Mesopotamia and continues to be used today.

2:  The Sun:  The rosette has been used to represent the Sun, with the petals as rays.  The Sun has a close association with the number six.   While it has four stops during its daily motion (east at dawn, south at noon, west at dusk, north at night), it has six on its yearly journey.  It rises and sets at its furthest north during July solstice, furthest south during December solstice,  and rises due east and sets due west during both equinoxes.

3:  Spiritual Protection:  Several cultures believe the rosette is apotropaic, used to avert bad luck.  The central six petals signify blessings in Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs.  Likewise hexagonal geometric figures, including those we call the Seed of Life and Flower of Life, were used in Eastern Europe as “thunder marks”.   Associated with Perun, the Slavic equivalent of the Norse Thor, they were carved on homes to protect from dangers like lightning.

We do know that the geometric rosette was used extensively as a template for constructing the hexagon, hexagram, and mapping out tiling with sixfold symmetry.  The six petals of the inner circle are equally spaced apart.  Connecting its outer points with a straightedge makes a hexagon, while using every other one produces a hexagram instead.

Although sometimes used as a motif by itself, the Seed of Life was more commonly employed to create other figures, making it invisible to the untrained eye.  It is an underlying order beneath more complicated geometric patterns like stained glass, window tracery, and mosaics.

hexagramhexagonseedoflife(Above:  The figure we call the “Seed of Life” was used historically to construct the hexagram and hexagon.  Image Source: Adaptation of a public domain image, Wikimedia Commons.)
purplefloweroflifetemplatepurpletiles(The seven interlocking circles could also be used as a template for more complex geometric patterns, like an underlying grid in Islamic art.  Image Source: Adaptation of a public domain image, Wikimedia Commons.)

seedoflifeexamples02seedoflifeexamples04seedoflifeexamples05(Top row, left to right:  Variations on the central rosette on 17th century BCE Greek coins, an early 15th century CE Arabic tile, and the Gundestrup cauldron of Denmark.  Middle row, left to right:  Examples of the rosette net pattern on a 1stcentury BCE mosaic in Israel, a monastery window on Crete, and a sketch by Leonardo da Vinci.  Bottom row, left to right: The rosette can be used to generate more complicated geometric patterns like the rose window of Saint Stephen’s cathedral in Vienna, a 2nd century CE Roman mosaic in France, and an early 17th century Chinese illumination for a Qu’ran. Image Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons.)

windowwithseedoflife(Detail of the rose window of Saint Stephen’s cathedral in Vienna, Austria, showing the “Seed of Life” as a template for some of its tracery.  The rosette often hides beneath more complicated geometric patterns. Image Source: Adaptation of a public domain image, Wikimedia Commons.)

The Seed of Life derives much of its meaning today from the symbolism of the circle, the crossed circle (“vesica piscis”), and the numbers six and seven.

1: Circle:  Mathematics was once a sacred science, believed to hold insights about both God and the natural world.  Different numbers and shapes developed their own meanings.  For example, the circle can represent the divine act of creation because of its use in constructing other shapes.

2:  Vesica Piscis:  The pointed oval between the two circles is known today as the vesica piscis, a name attributed to the 16th century German artist Albert Dürer.  The Latin vesica piscis (“fish bladder”) is a translation of the German Fischblase (“fish bladder”), a term originally used in architecture for curved openings in window tracery that resemble the swim bladder of a fish.

Because the letter “c” has been vocalized differently in Latin over time, vesica piscis has a range of correct pronunciations.  The piscis can be said as “pis-kis” (classical Latin, hard “k” sound) or “pis-sis” (later Latin, “s” sound).  Most people today say “veh-see-kuh pis-sis” which oddly uses the original “k” sound in vesica but uses the later “s” sound in piscis.

swimbladderfischblase(Above:  Some fish have an organ that helps them maintain their buoyancy called a swim bladder.  It typically consists of two gas filled sacs connected together.  A late 19th century illustration of fish anatomy.  Image Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons.  Below: A railing at the Biltmore estate in Asheville, North Carolina with a Fischblase [German, “fish bladder”] motif.  This shape is better known in English as a mouchette [French, “snuffer”] when curved or souflette [French, “bellows”] when straight.  Image Source: Christopher Lee Matthews.)

vesicapiscisvesicapiscisseedoflifehiddenvesica(Image Source: Adaptation of a public domain image, Wikimedia Commons.)

The Seed of Life has six different vesica piscis (purple), created between each neighboring circle, and an inner rosette of similar but smaller lenses (dark purple).  An additional six vesica piscis are created by the center circle crossing each of the outer circles (light purple).

Many of the Seed of Life’s meanings are derived from the symbolism of the vesica piscis:

A:  “The Mother of Geometry”:  Some believe the vesica piscis is a symbol of the Divine Feminine, with the pointed oval signifying the vulva.  Because of its traditional use in mathematics, it is also seen as the mother of geometric shapes, giving birth to the triangle, square, and other regular polygons.  Figures derived from the vesica piscis, like the Seed of Life and Flower of Life, may also be used to generate geometric figures.

It also has a unique relationship to several square roots.  It was used historically as a geometric proof for the square roots of 2, 3, and 5, as shown below.  They are often associated with form themselves.  For example, the irrational number phi was generated from the square root of 5 historically:

squarerootfivephi
Phi is the foundation of the “golden ratio”, a system of proportion often used in nature to guide the growth of plants and animals.

vesicapiscisgeometry(The vesica piscis can be used to construct regular polygons like the trianlge, square, and hexagon.  Image Source: Adaptation of a public domain image, Wikimedia Commons.)
seedoflifesquareroot
(The vesica piscis has a special relationship to three different square roots.  If A to B is 1, the radius of both circles, then C to D is equal to the √3, E to G to √5, and E to A to √2.  Image Source: Adaptation of a public domain image, Wikimedia Commons.)
metratronscube(Patterns derived from the “Seed of Life” are also used to map out geometric forms.  The Flower of Life as a template for “Metatron’s Cube”, a figure that contains all five of the Platonic Solids.  Image Source: Adaptation of a public domain image, Wikimedia Commons.)

B:  The Union of Opposites:  Because the vesica piscis is created by crossing two circles, it became a symbol of the union of opposites like heaven and earth, male and female, and spirit and matter.  The shape was also known historically as the mandorla (Italian, “almond”), after the shape of the nut.  The mandorla was commonly used in Christian art as an aureole around religious figures like Jesus and Mary, to signify their role in bridging the divine and human realms.

The pointed oval also resembles the rough outline of a fish, an animal closely associated with Jesus in Christian thought.

christmandorlacolor(13th century illumination of Christ in a mandorla, surrounded by an angel, eagle, bull, and lion, representing the Four Evangelists.  Image Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons.)

3: Six and Seven:  The Seed of Life is paradoxically related to both the number six and seven.  Therefore it has become associated with similarly organized symbols, where seven is more technically 6+1.

A: Biblical Creation: Creation lasted a week in the Bible, with God resting on the seventh day.

B: The Chakras: The modern chakra system is rooted in an originally Hindu model known as the sat cakra/shat chakra (Sanskrit, “six chakras”).  Although there are actually seven chakras, the Crown Chakra above the head was seen as so radically different than the others, it was not included in the count.

C: The Planets: Because of the central importance and size of the Sun, sometimes the seven classical planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) are symbolically represented as 6 + 1.

tetrahedronstellatedoctahedron(The stellated octahedron [right] is better known in the metaphysical community as the “Merkaba”.  The shape is created by crossing two tetrahedrons [left].  The tetrahedron is similar to a pyramid but constructed from four triangles rather than four triangles and a square.  Image Source: Adaptation of a public domain image, Wikimedia Commons.)

purplestellatedoctahedron(The stellated octahedron is often represented as standing on one of its points in contemporary sources.  Image Source: Adaptation of a public domain image, Wikimedia Commons.)

purplemerkabapurplehexagramhexagon
(The “Seed of Life”, “Flower of Life”, and “Merkaba” are all derived from the same six sided geometry.  Image Source: Adaptation of a public domain image, Wikimedia Commons.)

D: The Merkaba: Like the “Seed of Life” and “Flower of Life”, the “Merkaba” is a contemporary name for an ancient geometric figure, popularized by the author Drunvalo Melchizedek.   It is the three dimensional equivalent of the hexagram, created by crossing two tetrahedron.  All three figures are derived from the same six sided geometry.

Although commonly described as a “star tetrahedron”, it is actually a stellated octahedron instead.  Stellated figures are created by extending the faces of a polygon, producing a new pointed shape where they meet.   Neither the cube nor the tetrahedron can star.  When the octahedon is stellated, the eight sided figure becomes a star with eight faces and extended points instead , produced by two interpenetrating tetrahedra.

octahedronstellatedoctahedronoctahedroninsidestellated(The octahedron [above left] is a regular polygon, constructed from eight equilateral triangles.  A star octahedron is created by extending the faces of the octahedron [above right], transforming the eight sided figure into a star with eight extended points instead [bottom].  Image Source: Adaptation of a public domain image, Wikimedia Commons.)

The term comes from the Hebrew merkaba/merkava, meaning “chariot”.  The word originally referred to the moving throne of God in the Bible, like the vision of Ezekiel, and spiritual practices based upon it historically.   The metaphysical Merkaba is a restructuring of the energy body, represented as a series of spinning stellated octahedrons.  It is said to be aligned with the main chakras along the spine, terminating at a point above the crown chakra and below the feet chakras.  Other details like the orientation of the points, the number of merkabas, and the directionality of their spin differ between sources.

The Seed of Life, Flower of Life, and the Merkaba have all become major symbols of personal and collective evolution within today’s renaissance of sacred geometry.

stellatedoctahedron(Above:  16th century woodcut of geometric figures by Lorenz Stoer.  Front piece of “Geometry and Perspective” with four of the five Platonic Solids [tetrahedron, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron] in the corners and four irregular solids between them, including a stellated octahedron at the top.  Image Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons.  Below:

m-higher-grid001im-higher-grid001e(A grid to support higher consciousness with scolecite, Moldavite tektite, rose quartz, Herkimer Diamond quartz, azurite, petalite, and angelite.  Image Source: Christopher Lee Matthews.)

My friend and coworker Stacie Coller helped pioneer the use of the Seed of Life as a template for making crystal grids.  We have grid templates available for FREE on our Metaphysical Department of Enter the Earth website, sell themed stone sets (abundance, long distance energy work, grounding, etc.) in our online store, and teach workshops on grid making throughout the year at our gallery in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

©2015, Christopher Lee Matthews
christopher@entertheearth.com

The Metaphysical Properties of Ocean Jasper ®

 Deciphering the Meaning of Ocean Jasper
By Christopher Lee Matthews

Ocean Jasper (Rough and polished examples of Ocean Jasper.   Center:  Its orbs can resemble bull’s eyes, starbursts, or dots when polished.  Right: They may be spherical, botryoidal, or druzy.  Left:  They can even produce more geometric shapes when they touch one another.)

ocean jasper spheres (Small Ocean Jasper spheres in a quartz bowl, displaying the wide range of orb patterns.  Below:  Translucent  spheres and half spheres known as “fish eyes”.  Above:  Concentric rings known as “bull’s eyes” or “ripple orbs”.   Left:  A field of small dots.  Right: Orbs with a quartz border known as “starbursts” or “flowers”.)

What is Ocean Jasper?

Ocean Jasper is a trade name for a multicolored Madagascan stone with spherical patterning set against a contrasting background color.   Although called a jasper, the stone is actually a mixture of different forms of quartz: clear and colored varieties of chalcedony, banded agate, and pockets of tiny quartz crystals called druzy.  When examined under a polarized light microscope, Ocean Jasper becomes chalcedony spheres floating in a sea of chalcedony.

Ocean Jasper OrbsOcean Jasper Orbs(Above:  Orbs and spherical voids in rough Ocean Jasper.  Below:  Polarized light microphotography of Ocean Jasper, courtesy of Becca Hahn, ©2015.)

Ocean Jasper is only found in one place, the remote northwestern corner of Madagascar, an island nation off the southeastern coast of Africa.  However there are actually two different sources, about ten miles apart:

  • Marovato:  The mine near the village of Marovato is directly on the shoreline. The material there comes in a wide range of colors.
  • Kabamby:  The mine near the village of Kabamby is further inland. The material there tends to be dark green and golden yellow, sometimes cream and red.

Although the mine near Kabamby is still productive, the deposits near Marovato are currently exhausted.

Ocean Jasper Varieties(These cabochons shows the distinct differences between the two Ocean Jasper deposits.   The top row is Kabamby Ocean Jasper and the bottom two rows are Marovato Ocean Jasper.)

Ocean Jasper Ocean Jasper
Ocean Jasper What is the color palette of Ocean Jasper?

Ocean Jasper comes in every color of the rainbow:

  • Almost all pieces have some green, white, or earth tones like gray, cream, and tan on them.
  • Warm colors like yellow, peach, and reddish orange are the next ones most likely to be seen.
  • Dark red, bright pink, and light purple are more unusual.
  • Dark blue is rare while grayish blue and blueish green are more common.

Ocean JasperOcean JasperOcean Jasper
What is the story of Ocean Jasper?

Ocean Jasper is a modern stone.  Although random pieces are documented from the early 20th century, their precise origin was unknown.  A Frenchman living in Madagascar named Paul Obeniche discovered the source in 1999 and introduced the stone to the general public at the Tucson gem show in 2000.

The stone was given the name “Ocean Jasper” there by Paul Obeniche and Eugene Mueller of the Gem Shop.   It reflects the stone’s unique relationship to the sea.  It was originally discovered and collected at low tide, on the shoreline of the Indian Ocean, and often resembles water.  Ocean Jasper® is a registered trade mark owned by the Gem Shop and is used here by permission.

Enter the Earth has a very personal relationship to Ocean Jasper.  Paul Obeniche is the mentor of Nader Kawar, the owner of our company, and we have managed both mines since 2013.

To learn more about the history, geology, and different varieties of Ocean Jasper, check out the geology blog on our sister site Enter the Earth.

Ocean Jasper(A one side polished Ocean Jasper freeform showing both complete orbs and variegated dots revealed by cutting and polishing the stone.) 

What are the metaphysical properties of Ocean Jasper?

1: Tidal Jasper:   The most consistent meanings given to Ocean Jasper are uplifting feelings, going with the flow, and processing emotional trauma.  Ultimately these derive from its relationship to the tides.  Ocean Jasper was discovered by chance at low tide and gathered along the shoreline before the underground veins were worked.  After being collected the rough material is transported by boat at high tide, since the area is too remote for roads.

The stone itself resembles waves, concentric ripples, and sea foam.  Water is a traditional symbol of our feelings and the tides signify our emotional highs and lows.  Ocean Jasper represents the rhythms of the inner sea: upwelling feelings like joy, happiness, and contentment, expressing our emotions, and sifting through our personal flotsam and jetsam, the things unintentionally and intentionally left behind during a crisis.  Many interpret its vivid colors, bubbly orbs, and druzy starbusts as energy signatures of positivity, spontaneous child like joy, and a passion for life.

Ocean Jasper combines especially well with other watery stones like aquamarine, clear quartz, and shungite and organic gemstones like coral, pearl, and amber that come from the sea.

Since it was originally found and harvested in the surf, some in the metaphysical community connect Ocean Jasper with Atlantis, the legendary island that sank beneath the waves, calling it Atlantean Jasper or Atlantis Stone.  Interestingly Madagascar itself is directly related to Lemuria, a different lost land discussed in both 19th century science and occult writings.

Ocean Jasper combines well with other ancient wisdom stones like Larimar, serpentine with stichtite, and Lemurian seed crystals.

Ocean Wave Jasper(The claim near Marovato has produced other stones, most famously Ocean Wave Jasper.)

2: Salt Water Jasper:  Even more of Ocean Jasper’s metaphysical properties are derived directly from water, specifically salt water.  Salt water has both religious and therapeutic connections with purification, relaxation, and healing.  Likewise Ocean Jasper is commonly described as cleansing, soothing, and supportive of well being.

Some scientists speculate that Ocean Jasper may be a silicified rhyolite.  Rhyolite is a volcanic rock similar in composition to granite.  Certain varieties are glassy because of their high silica content, like obsidian.  These natural glasses are unstable and may develop orbs as the minerals inside them crystallize.  Many interpret this potential fiery origin as signifying the transmutation of negativity, bringing order out of chaos, and a potential for manifestation.

Ocean Jasper combines well with other purification stones, especially those connected to one of the five classical elements like obsidian, salt, and naturally tumbled rocks like Shiva lingas, riverstone, and water worn pebbles.

Ocean Jasper Druzy(An Ocean Jasper slab next to a freeform showing a two and three dimensional perspective of green quartz druzy coating an orb.)

3: Millennium Jasper: Just as golden purple ametrine combines the qualities of amethyst and citrine, Ocean Jasper blends the metaphysical properties of multiple varieties of chalcedony, each associated with well being in different parts of our lives.  Among them:

  • Colorless, White, to Blue = Chalcedony: Signifies clear communication, cutting through illusion, and success.
  • Yellow, Red, to Orange = Carnelian: Signifies vital energy, empowerment, and spiritual protection.
  • Banded Layers = Agate: Signifies mental focus, balanced interactions, and endurance.

Green is the most consistent color, a less common variety of chalcedony known as plasma.  The word comes from the Greek plasma (“something molded”), after its popularity for carving wax seals in antiquity.  People once believed it was the host rock for emerald, poetically naming it the “mother of emerald”.  Because of this symbolic relationship, plasma took on emerald’s attributes of healing, comfort, and growth.

As a stone of green goodness, Ocean Jasper supports energy work like Reiki and Earth centered modalities like herbalism.  It pairs well with other healing stones like jade, turquoise, and chlorite included quartz.  Minerals used for well being are often blue and green, after the life giving qualities of water.

Many in the metaphysical community believe that new stones reveal themselves at specific times in the evolution of human consciousness.  Because it was discovered in 1999 and introduced to the general public in 2000, Ocean Jasper is sometimes called “Millennium Jasper”.  The most consistent message during our readings was its potential role in personal and planetary healing, especially current environmental crises like water pollution, drought, and our threatened oceans.As a modern blend of classic gemstones, used individually for mental, emotional, and physical health, Ocean Jasper carries the signature of integrative wellness.  Many pieces also have a druse of quartz, a coating of tiny points, known more commonly as “druzy”.  Because all its crystals share the same foundation, druzy also represents harmony between different elements.

Because of its unifying qualities, Ocean Jasper also helps combinations like crystal grids, medicine pouches, and body layouts better blend their mixed energies.  It is also a stone of attunement, helping individuals acclimate to new people, places, or states of being.

Ocean Jasper pairs well with other integration stones like Herkimer diamond quartz, agate, and clusters and spheres of all stones.

Ocean Jasper

Ocean Jasper’s orbs are more technically called spherulites, from the Latin sphaerula “miniature sphere” and the Greek suffix -ite, meaning “rock”.  They are produced by radiating chalcedony fibers forming around a central nucleus, creating a small stone ball.  This growth pattern is reflected in the energetic qualities of the stone.

Ocean Jasper is ” a parts to the whole” worker, first correcting an individual element and then restoring it to a larger system. For example, its orbs resemble bull’s eyes, flowers, and stars, all energy signatures for the chakras, while its layers suggest the nadi, the energy currents that connect the chakras together.  When used for chakra balancing, Ocean Jasper not only adjusts an individual chakra, it aligns it within the subtle body as a whole.

This quality could also help correct other energetic systems, where individual components are linked together, like a vortex and its ley lines, a stone placed in a crystal grid, and an individual within a group.

Since it literally comes in every color of the rainbow, Ocean Jasper is well known for clearing, balancing, and aligning the chakras.  While it can be used on any chakra, pieces that match the color of a particular chakra are especially well suited for working on it. For example, green Ocean Jasper can be used anywhere on the energy body or specifically on the heart chakra.

Ocean Jasper combines well with other chakra balancing stones like clear quartz, kyanite, and labradorite.

Ocean Jasper(Ocean Jasper has a relationship with the sacred geometry of the circle, sphere, and point.  A pebble with concentric rings and spherical voids on spiritual diagrams.   Bottom left: Stellated octahedron [“star tetrahedron” or “merkaba”] in a sphere.  Bottom right: Vesica piscis with triangles.  Above: 16th representation of the Platonic solids by Jean Cousin.  Each of the Platonic solids can fit perfectly inside a sphere.)

4: Orbicular Jasper: Ocean Jasper’s round orbs associate it with the circle and sphere, traditional symbols of wholeness, perfection, and time since neither shape has an obvious beginning nor ending.  For example, in Chinese thought the circle represents the perfection of the heavens, after the dome of the sky and the round shape of the Sun and Moon, while the square represents the divided Earth, signifying the four cardinal directions.

The circle and the point are also the foundations of sacred geometry.  Two intersecting circles produce the vesica piscis (Latin, “air bladder of a fish”), a lens shape used to create additional shapes like the triangle, square, and pentagon.  Because a drawing compass leaves a mark, circles are often depicted with a central dot, showing their construction.  This point represents oneness, potential, and the divine origin of all things.

Because of their connection to divinity, the circle and sphere can finally represent the sacred self.  Spiritual beings are often represented with round or mandorla shaped halos, an almond shape created by crossing two circles.  Likewise the energy body itself is ultimately spherical in many spiritual traditions:

  • Aura (Greek aura “breeze”): The energy field around the human body, divided into different layers.  At first these follow the outline of the human body but gradually become more curved.  The final bands are spherical or ovoid in shape.
  • Merkaba (Hebrew merkabah “chariot”): A model of the energy body consisting of a stellated octahedron, a three dimensional hexagram, suspended within a perfect sphere.
  • Ochema (Greek ochema “vehicle”): The 4th century CE philosopher Iamblichus believed the subtle body became more luminous and spherical the closer the soul came to God.  Roundness and light were qualities of the divine, as displayed in the circular movement of the planets and stars.

circlewithpoint(A 13th century French manuscript illustration representing God as the Geometer, creating the universe through mathematics.  He made the Sun, Moon, and stars on the fourth day in Genesis.  The cosmos is represented as a circle with a central point, defined by the two arms of a compass.)

Because Ocean Jasper carries the sacred geometry of the point, circle, and sphere, it may support devotion, higher states of consciousness, and our personal and collective spiritual evolution.  Its orbs can resemble both eyes and meditative tools like mandalas and kasinas, colored disks used for focus.  These are additional energy signatures for centering, meditation, and concentration.  Historically chalcedony itself meant spiritual sight, religious fervor, and an inner luminosity produced by faith.

Ocean Jasper combines well with other stones used for spiritual development like phenakite, moldavite, and amethyst.

My late friend Ken Harsh thought Ocean Jasper had a connection to the modern orbs phenomena.  Many people believe that translucent circles in digital photos record the presence of ghosts, spirits, and angels.  He taught that Ocean Jasper’s orbicular structure could help us connect to such non-physical light beings.

Ocean Jasper (A polished Ocean Jasper chunk in a spiny oyster shell, with undrilled pearls.)

5: Moon Jewel Jasper:  Ocean Jasper is also known as Moon Jewel Jasper, after a poetic name for pearls.  Their round shape, white color, and origin in the sea have symbolically linked pearls with the Moon for centuries.  People once believed that oysters formed pearls from water drops touched by sunlight, moonlight, and starlight.  Ocean Jasper has taken on many of their qualities like purification, soothing irritation, and emotional expression.

Ocean Jasper’s orbs also resemble the Sun and Moon, with radiant halos, and starbursts.  Because of these energy signatures Ocean Jasper could be used to connect to the Sun, Moon, stars and planets, their corresponding spiritual beings, and harness celestial light energetically, like during ceremonies aligned to the lunar phases, equinoxes, and solstices.  Rather than drag out your entire rock collection next moon to charge them, use a piece of Ocean Jasper as a “battery” for celestial light instead, gathering enough of a charge to renew everything.

Of all the celestial bodies Ocean Jasper is most commonly affiliated with the Moon because of its unique relationship to the tides.  Lunar stones are given its qualities like change, growth, and understanding cycles, emotional harmony, and traits culturally attributed to the “feminine” like intuition.

Ocean Jasper combines well with other lunar stones like moonstone, selenite, and girasol quartz.  Solar stones would include sunstone, citrine, and ruby.  Finally stones like lapis lazuli, labradorite, and meteorites and tektites are used to connect with star energies.

Fish Eye Jasper (An Ocean Jasper pebble  on a vintage cook book illustration.  One of Ocean Jasper’s many trade names is Fish Eye Jasper.  The term “fish eye” is a nickname for translucent eye agates.)

6:  Fish Eye Jasper:  After the ocean, circle, and the Moon, the most relevant energy signature for Ocean Jasper is its concentric orbs called “fish eyes”, especially when they are translucent.

Ocular stones, those that look like eyes, have a consistent meaning over time:

  • Safety: Warding off the evil eye, security, and remaining unseen from enemies.
  • Prosperity: Good luck, seeing opportunities, and overcoming obstacles in business.
  • Second Sight: Clairvoyance, insight, and focus during meditation.

Many of Ocean Jasper’s metaphysical properties are modern adaptations of this ancient gem lore.

Ocean Jasper’s orbs can look like open eyes and the layers of the energy body.  It may also display fortification banding, an angular agate that resembles the outline of a fortress.  These elements suggest Ocean Jasper may strengthen the aura, maintain personal boundaries, and help invoke spiritual protection.

Many cultures believe in the evil eye, a psychic attack powered by envy, anger, or jealousy.  Eye shaped amulets are used to counteract it, calling upon the protective gaze of God.  Many people today use Ocean Jasper for emotionally charged situations, stress relief, and shielding empaths, after this custom.

Ocean Jasper combines well with other protection stones like tiger’s eye, malachite, and black tourmaline.

While the destructive evil eye is fueled by malice, a “good eyed” person wishes everyone well.  Paradoxically the eye also came to represent generosity, kindness, and goodwill.  Therefore ocular stones were used historically for good luck, business solutions, and managing resources like money.

Ocean Jasper is typically green, yellow, and earth tones, especially the material from Kabamby.  These are significators of abundance stones, after the colors of growing plants, ripe grain, and rich soil.  Food was the original wealth.  Each individual orb also formed around a seed like center, with different layers of growth, suggesting manifestation, the genesis of new ideas, and acting to materialize our goals.

Ocean Jasper combines well with other prosperity stones like citrine, green aventurine, and the cat’s eye varieties of chrysoberyl, quartz, and tourmaline.

The eye is also a symbol of expanded awareness, like the third eye used to see beyond the physical.  Ocular stones were used historically to support psychic development, divination, and otherworldly vision like dreams, journeys, and precognition.

As a “fish eye”, Ocean Jasper helps us see into watery realms like the emotions, creativity, and spirituality.  Because the ocean represents the unknown, wisdom, and inspiration, stones with fish totem medicine connect us to our inner depths.  Ocean Jasper may give us insight about a feeling, memory, or intuitive message, just as a fish eye lens brings the center of an image into focus.

Ocean Jasper combines well with other intuitive stones like lapis lazuli, iolite, and azurite.

Ocean Jasper Mandala
This photo mandala was created with the intention to help individuals connect to the energies of Ocean Jasper, if in their highest good.  I hope that reading this article or meditating on the image helps you decide if Ocean Jasper is a vibration that you should be working with now.

Enter the Earth is a purveyor of fine minerals, rocks, and fossils from Madagascar and around the world.  To see the Ocean Jasper we currently have available, please visit our online stores:

The Metaphysical Department of Enter the Earth
Enter the Earth Online Gallery
Enter the Earth eBay Store
Enter the Earth Etsy Store

Qualified wholesale buyers can visit our wholesale website to see our upcoming gem show schedule and apply for access to our online catalog.

This article is part of our ongoing “She Said, He Said” series, where both Stacie and I write about the same mineral.  We believe different perspectives can make a stone accessible to more people.  You can read Stacie’s Ocean Jasper blog here.

Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons, God as Geometer

©
2015, Microphotography of Ocean Jasper, Becca Hahn

©
2015, Remaining Images and Text, Christopher Lee Matthews
christopher@entertheearth.com

The Distance Healing Crystal Grid

Distant Healing Crystal Grid
The Distance Healing Crystal Grid at etemetaphysical.com

The Distance Healing Crystal Stone Grid
This grid is intended to assist those who are keeping a Loved One in their prayers for healing or spiritual assistance. Some may be doing this kind of work in the context of sending Reiki, or a similar Divine Energy system, to assist in the healing and well-being of someone who does not live close enough to initiate a hands-on session. The stones were selected by either their ability to connect people energetically together, excellent general healing qualities, connection to spiritual helpers, transformation, tranquility, and love. The grid stones can be attuned to Reiki by a Reiki Master to continually run Reiki energy.  It’s a handy addition.  It’s polite to meditate with your stones first to see if they are ok with being energetically altered.   

The Stones Included:
Center Circle: 1 Shungite
Shungite is a metallic silver to black mineraloid, a mineral that lacks a crystal structure. It consists mostly of carbon, enclosing tiny grains of silicate minerals evenly suspended in it, and trace amounts of hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and other elements. The name comes from the late 19th century and is derived from Shunga, Russia, the location where it was first discovered. Russia remains the primary source for it but the deposits there are vast. The algae colonies that produced the carbon for shungite are some of the earliest forms of life on earth. This makes it a good support for memory, past life work, and connecting to ancestors, spirit guides, and ancient civilizations. Shungite is also used for accessing pure, primal patterns, which would lend it well to any corrective, healing, or deeply transformational activity of any kind.

Inner Lotus: 6 Quartz Points
Quartz amplifies energies, thoughts, and intentions. It strengthens and clarifies the auric field and can be used to direct energy like a laser beam, if used with intention. When used in crystalline grids, a set of points expands the energy field of a grid, or serves as a medium through which healing energy is directed to distant subjects.

Star: 6 Quantum Quattro Silica (Chrysocolla in matrix from Namibia)
This stone is a combination of smoky quartz and copper based minerals, such as chrysocolla, shattuckite, malachite, ajoite, azurite, and dioptase. Traditionally, all blue and green stones were sacred to love goddesses because the colors represent the fertility of the earth. It also would indicate an integration between thoughts and feelings, or psychic impressions or spiritual energies integrated and manifested into the real world.

Triangle: 6 Golden Quartz
Golden quartz is a relatively new stone find out of India. It is a variety of quartz colored golden by iron oxide inclusions. Quartz tends to amplify the minerals that are included within it. The golden quality would be associated with solar energies, which imbue the stone with vitality, abundance, warmth, happiness, and well-being. Yellow iron inclusions harness the grounding quality of iron for manifestation and bringing things to fruition. It also is useful in anchoring Divine Golden, spiritual, or healing energy into the physical level.

Open Circle: 6 Smoky Amethyst ElestialScepters
These are special quartz points found in Madagascar. In certain conditions quartz grows faster along its edges rather than its faces, so it can grow larger than the rest of the crystal, producing a scepter like shape. Its qualities include personal empowerment, connecting to the spiritual level, anchoring higher energies to the physical level, directing energy, and protection. Sometimes these types of crystals have double or multiple terminations. In that instance, they can be used to energetically connect people, such as with distance healing work, to align the energies of the person sending healing to the person receiving so that they are in greater synergy and the energy can flow freely from one to the other.

Square: 6 Rose Quartz
Rose quartz is the very essence of love energy in all of its many expressions. It connected directly with the heart and emotional body and assists in gentle shifts toward loving states, forgiveness, nurturing, comfort, and bonding. It is often associated with nurturing and compassionate aspects of the Divine Feminine, and specifically with Mother Mary.

Solid Circle: 6 Rutilated Quartz
Rutilated Quartz has golden to reddish threads of Rutile imbedded within it. It is a special quartz energy as the Rutile increases the potency of energy moving through the quartz. It is stimulating to the Belly and Solar Plexus and can be used to amp up energy in the whole system by placing it right over the belly button. Traditionally, it was sacred to Venus, which means that it enhances all one-on-one relationships, such as connecting and harmonizing the energy between two people, not just lovers.

Recommended Grid Use and Placement
Continually Running Grid: The Distance Healing Crystal Grid is really a practitioner’s grid, so it should be placed wherever you do your sacred energy work. I recommend that you set it up somewhere it will not be disturbed.

Active Work Grid:
You can put the photo of the person for whom you are sending healing underneath the Distance Healing Crystal Grid, or their names. You can use this grid for more than one person as well, but I recommend that you engage the work in an interactive way. You could re-activate the grid as part of a strategy to send active healing and love to the distant subjects.

Sit and Spin Grid: You could activate the Distance Healing Crystal Gris under a chair while you are engaging in Reiki or energy work on behalf of distant subjects, such as using a doll proxy to do a treatment, which may be on your lap. Doing this would put the vortex of the grid in alignment with your core pillar of light, effectively plugging your energy field into the alignment and connection processes.

Sit and Spin with a Volunteer Proxy: You could put the Distance Healing Crystal Grid under a massage table as you are giving an in-person treatment and request for that session to serve as a proxy session for distant subject(s). If you do this, I recommend that you get permission from your in-person client first, or get a volunteer to stand in as a local proxy for someone specific who can temporarily Hold Space for the distant subject. If you do this right, you can intend to scan and work on a local proxy and receive useful energetic information from the distant subject. Be specific about wanting to treat the distant subject through the proxy to be Blessed and then cleared of connection and energies afterward.

Sit and Spin with You as Proxy: You could set the Distance Healing Crystal Grid up under a chair, table, or bed, while you intend to do a self-treatment as a proxy for a distant subject. I recommend setting up sacred space, intend to connect to the distant subject, and state clear intentions to send them healing energy as part as your self-treatment. Meaning, that as you treat yourself, you are also sending the energy to the distant subject.

To print out a free crystal grid template, please click here.

Click the title to see my blog article: “Crystal Grids: What’s the Flippin Point”

To see the available selection of Crystal Grids at etemetaphysical.com, please click here.

Disclaimer: The FDA has not approved this tool or specimen for any purpose. The descriptions are spiritual and intuitive in nature and reflect our best philosophical opinion of esoteric and metaphysical purposes of these tools. Please see an appropriate health care provider for any conditions you may have.

Copyright 2015, Christopher Lee Matthews and Stacie Coller
http://www.etemetaphysical.com
We are happy for you to link or share on social networks so long as the copyright and website link is respected and maintained.
Thank you for respecting our hard work and time.

Fooling with the Deck: Week 8 to 11: The Four Two’s (2)

This blog is part of a series on the historical and metaphysical tarot, Fooling with the Deck:  A DIY Journey through the Tarot.

What do the two’s represent in playing cards?

The two of each suit is also known as the “deuce”. The word derives from the Latin duo, meaning two. Deuce itself comes from the Middle French deus and originally meant “a roll of two in dice”. In games of chance with two dice, it is the lowest score possible, equivalent to the modern “snake eyes”. Like the ace, the deuce originally signified bad luck. In card games where the ace is high, the deuce becomes the lowest card.

Deuce is traditionally a euphemism for the Devil, as in the expression, “What the deuce!”. Just as 1 may represent unity, 2 can signify change, conflict, or duality, like the separation between God and Satan.

Where do the images on the two’s come from?

Historically the pip cards were marked with different suit signs, in their respective numbers. For example, the two of cups literally has two cups on it. Some decorative elements may also be added, like vegetation. The notable exception is the late 15th century Sola Busca tarot, whose numbered cards have illustrated scenes incorporating the suit symbols.

Most contemporary decks are based on the Rider Waite, originally published in 1909. It was the first modern tarot to have illustrated pip cards, court cards, and trumps. A. E. Waite and Pamela Colman Smith were inspired to do so by the Sola Busca tarot, even adapting some its cards. Photographs of the deck were exhibited in the British Museum in 1907, making its imagery available to the public again.

Where does the meaning of the two’s come from?

Most contemporary card meanings are influenced by:

1: Numerology: The numerology of the tarot has been influenced by both Classical Greek and Jewish thought. The 19th century author Alphonse Louis Constant, writing under the pen name Eliphas Levi, theorized a connection between the ten numbered cards of each suit and the ten spheres of the Tree of Life in Kabbalah. For example, the pip cards from 3 to 9 are associated with one of the seven classical planets, taking on its characteristics.

2: Elements and the Suits: The most popular model of the four elements and suits also comes from Eliphas Levi:

Wands: Fire
Cups: Water
Swords: Air
Coins: Earth

Each suit took on the characteristics of its element. For example, the cups may represent emotions, the unconscious, and intuition, all derived from the symbolism of water.

3: The Astrological Decans: The tarot was popularized by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a Victorian magic society interested in Western esoteric tradition.

They associated the pip cards from 2-10 with one of the 36 decans, Egyptian divisions of the zodiac signs, all ten degrees wide. Each is ruled by a different planet. The astrological compatibility of the planet and sign was used to determine the meaning of the card.

© 2014, Christopher Lee Matthews

Fooling with the Deck: Week 7: The High Priestess (2)

This blog is part of a series on the historical and metaphysical tarot, Fooling with the Deck:  A DIY Journey through the Tarot.

Early form of High Priestess
(An early 18th century Popess card, from the Jean Dodal version of the Tarot de Marseille, after which most 19th century esoteric decks were based.)

The High Priestess was formerly known as the Popess or Papess/Papesse, the female Pope. The card depicts a seated woman, with a veil behind her, holding a book on her lap, wearing the triple papal crown.  Other versions of the card include a scepter, a crosier, a staff modeled after a shepherd’s crook, or a pair of keys instead, all symbols of the Catholic church.

The identity of the woman on the card is debated. Mainstream tarot historians interpret the card as an allegory of faith.  The church has often been depicted as a woman, either as the “bride of Christ” or the “Mother Church”, sometimes with the attributes of the Pope. The seated pose with an open book is similar to period representations of Mary during the Annunciation. According to tradition, she was reading when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. The veil and book may also reference the sibyls, female pagan oracles often paired with male Biblical prophets in Christian art.

Some believe the card represents either legendary or historical female popes.

Authors during the late 19th century to early 20th century  “occult revival”, who showed a renewed interest in concealed spiritual traditions, believed the tarot hid a secret wisdom. This belief originated with the Egyptians, was preserved by Kabbalah, the esoteric branch of Judaism, and was revealed by Christian magicians during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.  Many of them described or even produced their own “rectified” tarot decks.  They thought by correcting the names, imagery, or number of the cards, as they understood them, they could restore them back to their original form.

High Priestess
(The High Priestess card from the early 20th century Rider-Waite deck, after which most of our contemporary decks are designed.)

The Popess became the High Priestess.  In A. E. Waite’s influential deck from 1910, she wears the horns of the Egyptian goddess Isis, the moon is at her feet like Mary, and her veil suspended between the two pillars of Solomon’s temple.  The card came to symbolize sacred mysteries throughout time, especially those of the Divine feminine, the unknown, and initiation.

Many tarot trumps have obvious partners, like the Sun and Moon.  In some regional versions of the game of tarot, the Popess, Pope, Empress, and Emperor are known as the papi (Italian, literally “fathers”, but also implies “popes”).  The two pairs symbolize religious and secular power and are all given the same value as trumps.  If two or more papi are played during a round, the last one always trumps the others.  This represents the power struggles between the institutions.

Much of the meaning of the trumps today comes from number symbolism.  The numerology of the tarot has been influenced by both classical Greek thought and Jewish Kabbalah.  While the number 1 represents the point, the number 2 represents the line, the first of the two dimensional objects.  Since a line both separates and connects, the number 2 has taken on opposing qualities like separation, change, and conflict but also relationships, connection, and balance.

While the point represents potential, the line is the building block of all two and three dimensional objects.  Therefore the number 2 signifies the birth of the physical, material, and duality.  While the number 1 is usually not gendered, other odd numbers are often seen as “masculine” and the even numbers “feminine” because of the line’s role in birthing all other shapes.

You can also learn about stones used for psychic development, intuition, and divination.

Copyright 2015, Christopher Lee Matthews

Fooling with the Deck: Week Three to Six: The Four Aces (1)

This blog is part of a series on the historical and metaphysical tarot, Fooling with the Deck:  A DIY Journey through the Tarot.

Before reading about the four aces, you may want to read the introduction to the pip cards.

As discussed previously in the Magician card, the number 1 paradoxically represents the lowest and highest.  We also see this in the symbolism of the four aces.  The word derives from the Latin as (“one, a unit, a copper coin with a low value, like a penny”).  Ace itself comes from Middle English and Old French and meant “rolling a one on a die”, equivalent to our modern snake eyes.   Because it was the lowest roll possible, it signified bad luck.

As cards spread and new games developed, the role and meaning of the aces changed.  They were sometimes more valuable or even the highest card, like in poker.  In the game of tarot, aces are typically low and tens high.  However some of the older rules split the suits into two pairs with opposing rankings.  While the court cards remain the same, the highest and lowest pip cards was reversed in cups and coins.

Highest to Lowest Value:

Wands and Swords: King Queen Knight Page 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Cups and Coins:  King Queen Knight Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Because they represent one, the four aces are also associated with providence, the origins of things.  Historically the artist’s or manufacturer’s name and the printing date were found on specific cards, typically an ace or a two, sometimes a four, often in the suit of coins.  The small number of pips and their even spacing allowed for the additional text.  Older decks sometimes have heraldic devices like a coat of arms on these cards instead, signifying their owners in luxury hand painted decks or local rulers in mass produced ones.   The court cards or certain trumps like the Emperor and Empress may represent actual royalty.

Over time authenticity became more closely connected with the aces alone. Playing cards were taxed as luxury goods until fairly recently. A seal on the outer packaging or a stamp on one of the cards showed this fee had been paid and also proved the deck was new. An ace often served as both the maker’s mark and duty card. The ace of spades was chosen in England and the United States, since it is the top card of an unused deck. A tradition of richly decorating it developed, further shifting the meaning of “ace” from the lowest to highest.

© 2014 Christopher Lee Matthews
Images: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Fooling with the Deck: An Introduction to the Pip Cards

This blog is part of a series on the historical and metaphysical tarot, Fooling with the Deck:  A DIY Journey through the Tarot.

What are the pip cards?

The tarot consists of three distinct types of cards. The first two are similar to those in a standard playing deck in the United States:

1: 40 Pip Cards, 10 in Each Suit:  Four suits of numbered cards, ranging from 1-10. Historically the names and symbols representing the four suits have varied by country. Almost all versions of the tarot used spiritually today are derived from the original Italian model:

A: Wands (Also known as staves, batons, clubs, and scepters.)
B: Cups
C: Swords
D: Coins (Also known as discs, pentacles, and money.)

These cards are known as pip cards. The word may derive from the Old French pepin (seed) and refers to the dots or shapes on dice, dominoes, or playing cards that represent its value.

2: 16 Face Cards, 4 in Each Suit: While regular playing cards have three face cards per suit, a King, Queen, and Jack, the tarot has four: a King, Queen, Knight, and Page. These are also known as the court cards, since each group looks like a royal court in miniature. This name is a corruption of the original “coat cards”, in reference to their clothing. Their appearance signified their rank, role, and association with a particular suit, like a coat of arms.

3: 21 Trumps and a Wild Card or 22 Trumps:  As discussed previously in the Fool blog, the tarot deck was originally used to play a game similar to bridge. It has an additional fifth trump suit of twenty one cards and one wild card, the Fool. (Although all 22 are considered trumps in contemporary literature.) Each card depicts a symbolic figure like Justice, Death, or Temperance and are often numbered to represent their relative value in trick taking.

Where do the meanings of the pip cards come from?

Like the trump cards, both the meaning and appearance of today’s pip cards are greatly influenced by mid 18th to early 20th century thought.

A: Suits and Social Hierarchy: The French author Antoine Court de Gebelin (1725-1784) was one of the first to suggest an Egyptian origin for the tarot in his Le Monde Primitif (1775-1784). He believed the trump cards preserved a book of hidden wisdom and the four suits represented different divisions of Egyptian society:

Swords: Military and nobility
Cups: Priests
Batons: Agriculture
Coins: Commerce

Other period French authors suggested a similar origin for the suits of spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs but from a medieval context. These associations continue to influence the meaning of the four suits. For example, the suit of coins may represent literal money, the physical body, and practical solutions, all derived from its connection to the material world.

B: The Four Suits and the Four Elements: The French author Alphonse Louis Constant (1810-1875), writing under the pen name Eliphas Levi, is best known for popularizing the theory that the twenty two trumps of the tarot and the twenty two letters of the Hebrew alphabet were related. He also taught that the four suits represented the four classical elements:

Wands: Fire
Cups: Water
Swords: Air
Coins: Earth

Much of the meaning of the pip card comes from this relationship, with each suit taking on the qualities of its associated element. For example, the suit of cups may represent emotions, the unconscious, and intuition, all derived from the symbolism of water.

C: Major and Minor Arcana: The French author Jean-Baptiste Pitois (1811-1877), writing under the pen name Paul Christian, popularized the concept of the tarot as a hidden book of Egyptian wisdom in his Historie de la Magie (1870). He claimed to translate an ancient Greek text describing an Egyptian initiation inside the Sphinx and a pyramid using twenty two sacred images. He taught that the tarot trumps preserved this mystery.

In his earlier L’Homme rouge des Tuileries (1863), a Benedictine monk discusses a book of 78 arcana with Napoleon, modeled on the tarot cards. Arcana is the plural of arcanum (Latin, secret), wisdom available only to those initiated. His contemporary Eugene Jacob (1847-1942), writing under the pen name Ely Star, would separate these into the Major Arcana, the trumps, and Minor Arcana, the pip cards in his Les Mystéres de l’Horoscope (1888.)

This late 19th century division still plays an important role in divination today. While the trumps represent something transpersonal, meaningful, or long lasting, the pip cards suggest the personal, mundane, or temporary instead.

Copright 2015, Christopher Lee Matthews

Fooling with the Deck: Week Two: The Magician (1)

This blog is part of a series on the historical and metaphysical tarot, Fooling with the Deck:  A DIY Journey through the Tarot.

Magician
(18th century Magician card, from the Jean Dodal version of the Tarot de Marseille, after which most 19th century esoteric decks were based.)

The Magician depicts a colorfully dressed street performer, holding a stick, standing behind a table with props used either for sleight of hand or games of chance.  It was originally known in Italian as Il Bagatella, which may mean “a trifle”, something almost worthless. It has a low value when used as a trump.

In other versions of the game, the Fool (0), Magician (1), and World (21) are special cards known as bouts (French, “ends”) instead. They are found at the ends of the trumps, as the unnumbered, first, and last cards. If the Magician (1) is played during the last trick, it scores extra points. All three of the end cards are worth additional points later when scoring. Technically the Magician should be the lowest ranking card but is made valuable in certain situations by changing the rules. This reflects period beliefs about the transgressive character of magicians, similar to the Fool card.

Confusingly Il Bagatella is often translated into English as “The Juggler”. The meaning of the word has narrowed over time. Juggling originally referred to any activity like acrobatics, sleight of hand, or illusion that was a form of “magic” distinct from witchcraft.  Although popular as entertainers, the magician was an ambiguous figure because of their wandering lifestyle and association with gambling, deception, and idleness.

Magician
(The Magician card from the early 20th century Rider-Waite deck, after which most of our contemporary decks are designed.)

Authors during the 19th century radically transformed both the appearance and meaning of the Magician card. They believed the objects on his table represented the four suits (stick = wands, knife = swords, bowl = cups, ball/coin = coins) of the tarot.  Some versions also include a pair of dice.  While two dice can produce 36 different number combinations, only 21 are unique pairs. They may symbolize the 21 trumps other than the unnumbered Fool card.

During this period there was revival of interest in the esoteric spiritual traditions of the West and other cultures, including ceremonial magic.  Many thought the four suits represented the tools of Medieval and Renaissance magicians like the wand and staff (staff), cup, blade and knife (sword), and lamen (disk), a geometric talisman of wax, metal, or paper used when invoking spiritual beings.

Since each suit was associated with one of the four classical elements (wands = fire, cups = water, swords = air, coins = earth), a new set of Victorian magical tools developed, inherited by most contemporary magical traditions like Wicca. The Magician card morphed from a street performer to a ceremonial magician with an altar bearing elemental tools.  The large floppy hat of the medieval card became a lemniscate halo,  a horizontal figure eight, associated with infinity.

The Magician card is traditionally associated with the number 1.  1 is paradoxically the greatest and the smallest of the numbers.  For example, the Magician card is sometimes known in French Tarot as Le Petit (“The Little One”) because it has the lowest value as a trump.  However in many numerological traditions 1 represents potential, unity, and the Divine as the source of all things.  Rather than an actual number, one was considered the well spring of all numbers.

The Magician is not only the first numbered trump, it also depicts the aces on the card, the first of each suit.  Because the numbers 1, 10, and 4 are related symbolically, some believe that the structure of the tarot was inspired by number mysticism, with its four suits of ten pip cards.  Because we use a decimal number system, grouping numbers in tens, 1 and 10 represent the beginning and end of a cycle.  10 and 4 are traditionally related because 10 can be understood as the sum of 4 + 3 + 2 + 1.  Both numbers represent a unity of parts to a whole.

Copyright 2015, Christopher Lee Matthews