Saturday 17 August 2013

When Pan Holds Court in the City Streets

Twilight comes early in Boulder, as it's so close to the mountains that the sun sets and twilight begins about two hours before it does out on the plains, eighty miles to the east.  It is an odd place at twilight, when street performers and panhandlers are every ten feet, and people are laying down their beds here and there in the bushes in parks and grounds.

If you walk Pearl Street at twilight, and have eyes to see and ears to hear, you'll be surprised at what is happening around you.  For the Old Gods walk the city streets, and Great Pan holds court in the twilight's light.  I saw him tonight, under the fading sky and almost full moon, I was him on Pearl Street in Boulder as I walked in twilight tonight as my other self.  He looked quite human, in human guise, and his dress the same, but his words were honey, and anyone with eyes could see if they watch that gait and sway as he walked on the balls of his bare feet that it was only glamour that hid the goats feet of his true form.  And walking behind him, the urge was strong to join his court among the merry throng that were gathered there, and follow him, to dance and ecstasy.

I saw young Artemis, down and out, her dog content but too small and too motivated to join the hunt.  She sat there on the sidewalk, it worn clothes, a boot in front of her with a sign, her pack beside her and her dog half snoozing on top of it.  I stopped and turned aside and talked to her a moment about her dog, and gave her a dollar before heading on my way.

I spotted Hermes upon a wall holding a sign.  He looked serious and like any other panhandler, but his sign was a bit different, and I read it, and couldn't help but grin.  "Slept with Lindsey Lohan, need help."  He spotted my grin and matched it with his own, his eyes passing from serious to mischievous in an instant.  He pointed at me and snapped his fingers, and said quite loud but too quiet for anyone but me to hear as I passed almost twenty feet from him, others closer, "Gotcha."  I went on my way.

I spotted Hephaestus, sitting on a bench as an old man, his eyes down, not noticing anyone, lost in his own thoughts and memories.  He seemed weak and feeble, but you could feel the strength and power.  A hard life, unsure what to make of it.

I saw Athena, sitting on a bench beneath a street light, the thick book in her lap more important than the street performers around her.

I saw Apollo standing on the edge, a guitar instead of his Lyre, his voice singing out an Alternative song from the '90s, load and clear, but smooth and glorious, a voice that can move the soul.

And I saw Neptune, walking the opposite way as me on a dark sidewalk, empty except the two of us.  He was a shadow of an old man, hidden in shadow.  He moved off the sidewalk as I passed, giving me room, and I saw a glimpse of his khaki trousers, his Hawaiian shirt, his thick grey beard, his straw hat, the cup of rum in his hands.  He didn't look at me, and we both continued on our way.

If you walk Pearl Street at twilight, and have eyes to see and ears to hear, you'll be surprised at what is happening around you.  For the Old Gods walk the city streets, and Great Pan holds court in the twilight's light.

Twilight comes early in Boulder, as it's so close to the mountains that the sun sets and twilight begins about two hours before it does out on the plains, eighty miles to the east.  It is an odd place at twilight, when street performers and panhandlers are every ten feet, and people are laying down their beds here and there in the bushes in parks and grounds.

~Muninn's Kiss

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Mistress Over the Dead: a look at the "Witch of Endor" and related myths

The subject has come up often lately in various places online of the "Witch of Endor".  This is said as if it was title, and I read a discussion one place that said, was there's only one witch in Endor, and was there never a witch there before or after?  The very question implies not understanding the passage, so thought I'd dig into it a bit.  'Eyn Do'r, or, technically, b'Eyn Do'r, "in 'Eyn Do'r".

First off, in case people are confused, we're not talking about the moon called Endor in Star Wars.  :-)  This is in 1 Samuel in the Jewish Tanakh and Cristian Old Testament.  Endor is the way it's typically rendered in English, but it's two words in the Hebrew text.

Here's the whole verse, from the Revised Standard Version:

Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at Endor.” ~1 Samuel 28:7 RSV

And the Hebrew:

ז  וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁאוּל לַעֲבָדָיו בַּקְּשׁוּ-לִי אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב, וְאֵלְכָה אֵלֶיהָ וְאֶדְרְשָׁה-בָּהּ; וַיֹּאמְרוּ עֲבָדָיו אֵלָיו הִנֵּה אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב בְּעֵין דּוֹר

The phrase that matters here is:

Behold, there is a medium at Endor.
אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב בְּעֵין דּוֹר

Breaking it down:

אִשָּׁה - 'ishshah - woman, wife, female

בַּעֲלָה - ba'alah - mistress, female owner, sorceress, necromancer  From בַּעַל:
בַּעַל - ba'al - owner, husband, citizens, inhabitants, rulers, lords, master of <>, lord.  From בָּעַל:
בָּעַל - ba'al - to marry, rule over, possess, own
אוֹב - 'owb - water skin bottle, necromancer, one who evokes the dead, ghost, spirit of a dead one, practice of necromancy, one that has a familiar spirit.  From אָב:
אָב - 'ab - father of an individual, God as father of his people, head or founder of a household, group, family, or clan, ancestor, originator of patron of a class, profession, or art, producer, generator, benevolence and protection, term of respect adn honour, ruler or chief.
בְּעֵין דּוֹר - b 'eyn do'r - in 'Eyn Do'r
עֵין־דוֹר - 'Eyn-Do'r - Endor, Fountain of Dor
עַיִן - 'ayin - eye, spring, fountain
דּוֹר - dowr - period, generation, habitation, dwelling.  From דּוּר:
דּוּר - duwr - to heap up, pile, to dwell, to remain, to delay, to inhabit, to go around.
דּוּר - duwr - ball, circle

My translation:  "There is a woman that is mistress over the dead at the eye of the circle."

So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments, and went, he and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit, and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.” ~1 Samuel 28:8

ח  וַיִּתְחַפֵּשׂ שָׁאוּל וַיִּלְבַּשׁ בְּגָדִים אֲחֵרִים וַיֵּלֶךְ הוּא וּשְׁנֵי אֲנָשִׁים עִמּוֹ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה לָיְלָה וַיֹּאמֶר קָסֳמִי-נָא לִי בָּאוֹב וְהַעֲלִי לִי, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-אֹמַר אֵלָיִך

Divine for me by a spirit
קָסֳמִי-נָא לִי בָּאוֹב

קָסַם - qacam - to practice divination, divine.
נָא - na - please, if you please
לִי - li - to, for (first person singular)
בָּאוֹב - conjure up, invoke, in/with + אוֹב (see above)

My translation:  "Please divine by conjuring for me."

The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land. Why then are you laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?” ~1 Samuel 28:9

ט  וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה אֵלָיו הִנֵּה אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ אֵת אֲשֶׁר-עָשָׂה שָׁאוּל אֲשֶׁר הִכְרִית אֶת-הָאֹבוֹת וְאֶת-הַיִּדְּעֹנִי מִן-הָאָרֶץ וְלָמָה אַתָּה מִתְנַקֵּשׁ בְּנַפְשִׁי לַהֲמִיתֵנִי

cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land
הִכְרִית אֶת-הָאֹבוֹת וְאֶת-הַיִּדְּעֹנִי מִן-הָאָרֶץ

הִכְרִית - hkarath - the + כָּרַת
כָּרַת - karath - to cut, cut off, eliminate, kill, cut a covenant, to hew, to be cut off, to be cut down, to be cut off, to be chewed, to fail, to destroy, to take away, to permit to perish.
אֶת - et - to, with
הָאֹבוֹת - havot - the + אֹבוֹת
אֹבוֹת - avot - plural of אֹב:
אֹב - av - father, male parent, ancestor, forefather, progenitor, originator, prototype
וְאֶת - 'owb - and + אוֹב (see above)
הַיִּדְּעֹנִי - hyidde'oni - the + יִּדְּעֹנִי
יִּדְּעֹנִי - yidde'oni - a knower, one who has a familiar spirit, soothsayer, necromancer.  From יָדַע:
יָדַע - yada' - to know, to perceive, to discriminate, to distinguish, to know by experience, to recognise, to consider, to be perceived, to be made known, to be revealed, to cause to know, to be known, to make oneself known, to declare, to reveal oneself.
מִן - men - from
הָאָרֶץ - haarets - the + אָרֶץ
אָרֶץ - erets - country, land, territory, district, earth, ground, soil

My translation:  "removed ancestors and spirit knowers from the ground"

The king said to her, “Have no fear; what do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.” ~1 Samuel 28:13

יג  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ הַמֶּלֶךְ אַל-תִּירְאִי כִּי מָה רָאִית וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה אֶל-שָׁאוּל אֱלֹהִים רָאִיתִי עֹלִים מִן-הָאָרֶץ

a god coming up out of the earth.
אֱלֹהִים רָאִיתִי עֹלִים מִן-הָאָרֶץ

אֱלֹהִים - 'elohiym - rulers, judges, divine ones, angels, gods, god/goddess, godlike one, works or special possessions of God, God
רָאִיתִי - raiti first person singular past tense of רָאָה:
רָאָה - raa - to see, to have vision, to observe, to look at
עֹלִים - 'alim - plural indefinite form of עָלֶה:
עָלֶה - 'alah - to go up, ascend, climb, meet, visit, follow, depart, retreat, spring up, grow, shoot forth, rise, excel, be superior to, be taken up, be brought up, be taken away, to take oneself away, to be exalted
מִן - men - (see above)
הָאָרֶץ - haarets - (see above)

My translation:  "a godlike one I See, rising up from the ground"

As Saul can't see the shade, raa here is vision, the Sight, not physical mundane sight.

He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up; and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance. ~1 Samuel 28:14

יד  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ מַה-תָּאֳרוֹ, וַתֹּאמֶר אִישׁ זָקֵן עֹלֶה וְהוּא עֹטֶה מְעִיל וַיֵּדַע שָׁאוּל כִּי-שְׁמוּאֵל הוּא, וַיִּקֹּד אַפַּיִם אַרְצָה וַיִּשְׁתָּחוּ

And she said, “An old man is coming up; and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew
וַתֹּאמֶר אִישׁ זָקֵן עֹלֶה וְהוּא עֹטֶה מְעִיל וַיֵּדַע

וַתֹּאמֶר - vatomar - and + תֹּאמֶר
תֹּאמֶר - tomar - third-person singular imperfect of אָמַר:
אָמַר - amar - to say, think, pronounce, intend
אִישׁ - 'ish - man, husband, adult male
זָקֵן - zaqen - old, elderly, aged
עֹלֶה - 'alah - (see above)
וְהוּא - vakharash - and + הוּא
הוּא - hi - he, it, he is, it is
עֹטֶה - atah - to wrap, cover, veil, clothe, roll, array, be clad, cover, fill, put on, turn aside
מְעִיל - m'il - robe or coat worn over a tunic by men of rank
וַיֵּדַע - vayeda - and + יֵּדַע (see above)

My translation:  And she pronounced, "And an elderly man rises and he is wrapped in a obe" And he knew

Interesting her is that "knew" is the same "knew" from which "knowers" above is derived.  He knew it was Saul when she spoke in the same way that those who had been removed knew spirits.  Insight, intuition, the beginning of Sight.  His eyes were opened, through her words. The story continues with him and Samuel taking directly.  He appears to now be able to both see and hear him.

Then Saul fell at once full length upon the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel; and there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night. ~1 Samuel 28:20

I won't worry about the Hebrew here, as it doesn't reveal anything interesting to the discussion.  I will note that "ground" here, "earth" from which Samuel arose, and "land" from which the ancestral spirits and spirit knowers were removed are all the same word.

In summary, Saul asked for a medium and was told there was a mistress over the dead in the eye of the circle.  He seeks her out, and asks her to divine for him by conjuring a shade.  She is fearful because the king (whom she doesn't yet know is him) had all ancestral spirits and spirit knowers removed from the land/ground/earth.  He reassures her and she calls forth the one he asks for (ingress).  She sees it is a holy man and gets an inkling what is happened, and tells him what she sees.  He asks what the shade looks like and she describes him, and in that description, he Sees and Hears and has congress with him.  After he is gone (egress), Saul falls to the ground, with no strength left. Afterwards she feeds him so he can renew his strength.

This conjuring brings to mind Odin conjuring the volva in Baldrs Draumar (Baldr's Dreams).  Henry Adams Bellows' translation (found at puts it thus:

1. Once were the gods | together met,
And the goddesses came | and council held,
And the far-famed ones | the truth would find,
Why baleful dreams | to Baldr had come.

2. Then Othin rose, | the enchanter old,
And the saddle he laid | on Sleipnir's back;
Thence rode he down | to Niflhel deep,
And the hound he met | that came from hell.

3. Bloody he was | on his breast before,
At the father of magic | he howled from afar;
Forward rode Othin, | the earth resounded
Till the house so high | of Hel he reached.

4. Then Othin rode | to the eastern door,
There, he knew well, | was the wise-woman's grave;
Magic he spoke | and mighty charms,
Till spell-bound she rose, | and in death she spoke:

5. "What is the man, | to me unknown,
That has made me travel | the troublous road?
I was snowed on with snow, | and smitten with rain,
And drenched with dew; | long was I dead."
Othin spake:

6. "Vegtam my name, | I am Valtam's son;
Speak thou of hell, | for of heaven I know:
For whom are the benches | bright with rings,
And the platforms gay | bedecked with gold?"
The Wise-Woman spake:

7. "Here for Baldr | the mead is brewed,
The shining drink, | and a shield lies o'er it;
But their hope is gone | from the mighty gods.
Unwilling I spake, | and now would be still."
Othin spake:

8. "Wise-woman, cease not! | I seek from thee
All to know | that I fain would ask:
Who shall the bane | of Baldr become,
And steal the life | from Othin's son?"
The Wise-Woman spake:

9. "Hoth thither bears | the far-famed branch,
He shall the bane | of Baldr become,
And steal the life | from Othin's son.
Unwilling I spake, | and now would be still."
Othin spake:

10. "Wise-woman, cease not! | I seek from thee
All to know | that I fain would ask:
Who shall vengeance win | for the evil work,
Or bring to the flames | the slayer of Baldr?"
The Wise-Woman spake:

11. "Rind bears Vali | in Vestrsalir,
And one night old | fights Othin's son;
His hands he shall wash not, | his hair he shall comb not,
Till the slayer of Baldr | he brings to the flames.
Unwilling I spake, | and now would be still."
Othin spake:

12. "Wise-woman, cease not! | I seek from thee
All to know | that I fain would ask:
What maidens are they | who then shall weep,
And toss to the sky | the yards of the sails?"
The Wise-Woman spake:

13. "Vegtam thou art not, | as erstwhile I thought;
Othin thou art, | the enchanter old."
Othin spake:
"No wise-woman art thou, | nor wisdom hast;
Of giants three | the mother art thou."
The Wise-Woman spake:

14. "Home ride, Othin, | be ever proud;
For no one of men | shall seek me more
Till Loki wanders | loose from his bonds,
And to the last strife | the destroyers come."

We don't see the weakness at the end, as it ends with her parting speech.  But there's a feel to the conjuring much similar, with the spirit rising up from the ground, the spirit none to happy to be called and having a threatening tone.  Neither rose willingly, and neither could resist the call.

There is another tale we have of summoning the dead, that of Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey.  Book Eleven says:

At the furthest edge of Ocean's stream is the land to which all journey when they die. Here their spirits endure a fleshless existence. They can't even talk unless re-animated with blood.

Accordingly, I did as Circe instructed, bleeding a sacrificed lamb into a pit. Tiresias, the blind prophet who had accompanied us to Troy, was the soul I had to talk to. So I held all the other shades at bay with my sword until he had drunk from the pit.

He gave me warnings about my journey home and told me what I must do to ensure a happy death when my time came. I met the shades of many famous women and heroes, including Achilles, best fighter of the Greeks at Troy
~Mythweb -

While we don't have the patterns we saw before, no rising from the ground, no hostility, no weakness afterwards, there is a parallel with Odin's conjuring.  Odin road to just outside Hel to do the conjuring, the place of the dead.  Likewise Odysseus travels to the land of the dead before using blood to allow the dead to talk.

It is interesting to note that Odysseus' name comes from ὀδύσσομαι, "to be wroth against" or "hate", from μισώ.  The beginning of the name brings to mind Óð (as in Óðinn).  Many of Odin's names bring to mind hate or anger.  While it is unlikely there's a link between the two tales, it's interesting to entertain.

~Muninn's Kiss

Monday 12 August 2013

Can you feel it shaking?

Can you feel it shaking?  The Foundation.  Can you hear the thunder?

For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.’” ~Haggai 2:6-9 RSV

Do you know what happens to a house when it is shaken, when the very bedrock under it shakes?  What happens to the plaster?  What happens to the walls?

The Dreaming, or I should say the Dreamings, that we live in, those are our house, this house, that reservation set aside, that place we think is all, which we are somewhat safe in, where we won't be destroyed.

The walls are the Veil, and when the Foundation on which the Dreaming is built shakes, the Veil is rent.

The Veil has held back many things we've thirsted for, things we need.  But it has also held back things that thirst for us, the reason the Veil was raised.

Can you feel it shaking?  The Foundation.  Can you hear the thunder?

The Dark One who walks the Desolate Places, she who build the Foundation is also the Keeper of Secrets, among many kennings.  She laid the Foundation, but in it are stored her secrets.  Do you hear them whispering in the dark?  Calling to you?  They awake, as the Foundation shakes.

Can you feel it shaking?  The Foundation.  Can you hear the thunder?

The rolling thunder, the Tongue of Serpents, echoing in the dark, all things lost, all things we hoped we lost.  The Builder of Storms rides, and behind her comes the Wild Hunt.  The Hunt that kills and feeds, that cleanses and make bare, that finds the lost things, and causes other things to be lost.  She rides.  Do you hear her?  Once her storms only came in the winter and spring, but the third Storming has awoken, and with it, the Foundation shakes.

Can you feel it shaking?  The Foundation.  Can you hear the thunder?

And a Wanderer walks, the Tall One, faster than her lightning, more sure than any horse.  There are ways and paths that lead through the Veil, paths and ways that have been closed for a long time, from the Gleam to the Dreaming and back again.  He walks the paths, and builds new ones, as the cracks form.  Do you remember seeing him? Just a moment ago he strolled by, first here, then there.  And the water flows from Dreaming to Dreaming, waterways, paths of water. And water erodes, and tears and rends, and the Veil is ripped.

Can you feel it shaking?  The Foundation.  Can you hear the thunder?

And the Keeper of Treasures and Builder of Pleasures laughs as the house shakes and the Veil rends, and the treasure come, those that will create, those that will destroy, those that will delight, those that bring sorrows.  A box opened, a box that can never be closed.  And he laughs.

Can you feel it shaking?  The Foundation.  Can you hear the thunder?

And lo, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom, and the earth was shaken, and the rocks were rent, and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints fallen asleep arose, and going out of the tombs after his arising, entered into the holy city and appeared unto many. ~Matthew 27:51-53 Darby Translation

Can you feel it shaking?  The Foundation.  Can you hear the thunder?

"Gatekeeper, ho, open thy gate!
Open thy gate that I may enter!
If thou openest not the gate to let me enter,
I will break the door, I will wrench the lock,
I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors.
I will bring up the dead to eat the living.
And the dead will outnumber the living."
~Descent of the Goddess Ishtar into the Lower World,
Civilization of Babylonia and Assyria, M. Jastrow, 1915
~Muninn's Kiss

Sunday 11 August 2013

Toward a Binary Western Structure

I was re-reading part of The Web That Has No Weaver, and was reading a section on analysis that was essentially about a trigram, External/Internal, Excessive/Deficient, Hot/Cold, each a Yang/Yin pair, eight possible states from three binaries.  My mind wandered and I started thinking of Western magical systems, particularly the four elements.

What follows is an interesting (to me at least) investigation on whether the four elements can be described by two binary pairs.  As much of the following is about systems I seldom work with, Greek classical elements, alchemy, and Western astrology, please bear with me, as this is a bit of a tangent from my own practice and from much of what I post here.  It does, however, lay a groundwork to help others understand another post I've been working on but am not yet to a point to publish, my Chthonic Zodiac, and what happens when you turn the sky upside down, and the lore and myth that become obvious with that understanding.  That post will have direct application to my own practice, so this tangent has a use.

Consider for a moment the Western approach over all.  I'm simplified it, and generalizing, but there's a tendency to break everything down into either the four Classic Greek elements, fire, water, earth, and air, or down into the three alchemical principles, salt, sulfur, and quicksilver.  These two sets provide some unique patterns mathematically, and Western magic seems to always love things that can be expressed mathematically.  Four and three are helpful, because added together, they give seven, which is found so often, with the seven wandering bodies in the sky, the seven days in a week, the seven stars that make up Woden's Wain, the seven stars seen as the Seven Sisters, the various uses of seven years, and so on.  And multiplied together, they make twelve, another useful number, with twelve Zodiac signs, twelve months, twelve Olympians, twelve apostles and tribes, and so on.

Modern paganism has thrown a wrench in this, though I suspect few have seen it as such.  By combining various holy days in Northern Europe to make eight Sabbats, they have the interesting issue of mapping eight days onto twelve months.  Four works well, but eight is problematic.  This likely isn't a big issue, but the Northern European concepts don't map well onto the Southern European concepts.

Looking just at the elements first, we have a pattern that lends well to a binary system.  Earth and Water are considered passive, and Air and Fire active.  This works well for the first pair, very much a Yin = Earth/Water/Passive, Yang = Air/Fire/Active pairing.  So far so good.  But what of the other pair?  What separates Air from Fire and Earth from Water?  What is the same between Air and Earth, and opposite from what is the same between Fire and Water?  The answer isn't forth coming.  Innately people pair them in that way, considering Air opposite of Earth, not Water, and Fire opposite Water, not Air.  And they obviously are.  Air and Earth can be seen as Sky and Land, above and below.  Fire and Water tend to be universal opposites, as Fire changes Water into Air, and Water puts out Fire, in effect, bringing it to Earth.  But what quality defines these?

Lets look at the Zodiac a moment.  There are three attributes that define each sign, and an understanding of these can help in understanding of the signs.  These are the quality, the mode, and the element.  Qualities are one of three, cardinal, fixed, and mutable.  Modes are active and passive.  Elements are the four classic elements we are discussing.  The signs lay out as follows:


You'll notice three cycles, the qualities cycling regularly three the three states, the mode cycling regularly through the two states, and the element cycling regularly through the four states.

If you examine the table, you find mode isn't too useful for this discussion, as it lines up exactly with the passive/active states of the elements we already discussed.  Any give element is always the same mode.  So we will ignore mode for now.

Quality does lend something of interest, as it doesn't coincide with a specific element.  In fact, if you count, each quality has one sign of each element, and vice versa.  Every quality/element pairing is unique.  This of course makes sense with twelve signs total, because three states means four cycles, and four states means three cycles.

Lets look at the nature of the qualities for a moment.  What do they mean?  Cardinal is a sign that points, a sign that initiates something, starts something.  Fixed is a sign that tries to stay constant, to not change.  Mutable is a sign with a tendency to change and move.  Those that are familiar with alchemy but not with astrology (if you can be familiar with alchemy but not astrology) might find these of interest.  The description of fixed signs instantly brings to mind salt.  Salt is the process of crystallization, just as fixed signs crystallize into a set pattern, not wanting to change.  The other two are harder for me, not being an alchemist.  But reading descriptions, I see quicksilver, mercury, in the mutable signs.  Mercury is of course the messenger of the gods, carrying messages between them and man.  Quicksilver is constantly changing, constantly moving. This leaves sulfur for the cardinal signs.  Does this fit?  Sulfur is seen in alchemy as a seed, or, more graphically, the sperm that is forcibly implanted into the egg.  A seed, a beginning.  Quicksilver is the solution, salt dissolved in it, sulfur added as a seed to bring about change.  This is very much the same as the cardinal signs, so, yes, it does fit.

We have a new table:


Where this gets interesting is when we rearrange these to show what is across the year, or sky, from them:


The first thing we notice is that the qualities remain the same on the opposite end of the sky.  Every sign has the same quality as its opposite.  The next we see is that Fire and Air are always opposite, and Earth and Water are always opposite.  This relates back to our earlier question.  What separates Air from Fire and Earth from Water?

Let's look at the pairings.  Aries/Libra, Taurus/Scorpio, Gemini/Sagittarius, Cancer/Capricorn, Leo/Aquarius, Virgo/Pisces.  In what way are these opposites different?  It isn't the quality, for each pair shares it.  It isn't the mode, for each pair is either both passive or both active.  What, then?  Let's look at some attributes of each one, first the Fire/Air pairs, then the Water/Earth pairs.

Aries and Libra.  Cardinal.  Aries is the Ram lowering its head and charging, beginning without thinking things through, starting is the goal, Aries doesn't worry about what comes next.  Libra is the scale weighing the options, trying to find balance, only beginning when all outcomes are considered and weighed, Libra won't act until it knows where the action will lead, and then, and only then, will it begin.  Both cardinal, sulfur.  Both active.  Fire acts immediately, concerned with getting started, Air analyses and acts when the outcome is known.

Gemini and Sagittarius.  Mutable.  Sagittarius is the arrow pointing toward the goal, killing anything that gets in its way.  The end justifies the means, the collateral isn't important.  Gemini is the twins, identical but opposite, accepting two opposite truths as both true, moving between them, considering them.  Both mutable, quicksilver.  Both active.  Fire is driven toward the goal, concerned with reaching it, not what might be in the way, Air analyzes and cares more about the means than the end, weighing the truth of each side.

Leo and Aquarius.  Fixed.  Leo is a lion, unstoppable, proud, a leader and ruler, what is has, it holds no matter what the damage to others.  Aquarius is the water bearer, pouring out the water of Pisces to allow it to be replaced with air, controlling the flow, controlling the change, maintaining a balance between what was and what is to come, holding to that balance while avoiding upsetting or hurting others.  Both fixed, salt.  Both active.  Fire holds what it has, concerned with keeping it, air controls change, concerned with the balance and peace between parties.

Fire, in all three states, has a specific goal, be it starting, reaching, or holding.  Air, in all three states, weighs and tries for balance, be it starting, negotiating, or holding.

Cancer and Capricorn.  Cardinal.  Cancer is the crab, using its claws to protect what it creates or gives birth to, giving birth with intention to protect what is born immediately upon birthing, going from loving and nurturing to angry and protective at the first sign of danger, willing to hurt anything that seems a threat to the new thing.  Capricorn is the sea-goat, half fish, half goat, the fish half would be fast in the sea without the goat, the goat part would be fast on the land without the fish part, each part slowing the other down, requiring careful planning to get to the goal, so start what is needed, planning and starting early, but knowing how long it will take and what steps are necessary.  Both cardinal, sulfur.  Both passive.  Water begins with the intention to protect, focused on how to protect, not the process, Earth planning and preparing and knowing the whole process before hand.

Virgo and Pisces.  Mutable.  Pisces is two fish, chasing each other's tails through the water, two emotions, cycling back and forth, it doesn't analyze the emotions, it accepts them and moves to the next.  Virgo is the Virgin, waiting for the very best before having sex, planning with patience, waiting for the right desire, right moment, not letting emotions get ahead of her, only letting emotions take over when they are needed and not until then.  Both mutable, quicksilver.  Both passive.  Water lets the emotions cycle, doesn't worry about if they are right or wrong, just lets them come, Earth planning for the moment to let them have control, changing but only when analysis indicates it's time.

Taurus and Scorpio.  Fixed.  Scorpio is the scorpion with a venomous stinger and snapping claws, and a hard shell to protect the soft, easy to hurt interior, assuming everyone is trying to hurt it, or will given the chance, so ready for a fight, without analyzing who is friend or foe.  Taurus is the bull, standing its ground, not to be moved, and if necessary, will charge and pierce with its horns, but only if it needs to, watching, analyzing.  Both fixed, salt.  Both passive.  Water presumes and fight and strikes, earth watches and observes, and only fights when pressed or it is needed.

Water, in all three states, reacts without analysis, be it protecting the beginning, cycling emotions, or protecting what it holds.  Earth, in all three states, analyzes and decides, be it planning before hand, deciding when best to change, or protecting what it holds.

The three states, cardinal/sulfur, mutable/quicksilver, fixed/salt, give us three views of each of the element pairs and show a common trend.  Both Fire and Water are reactive, responding, not planning.  Both Air and Earth are proactive, planning and analyzing before acting.

So we can define the four elements with two binaries, active/passive and responsive/analytic.  Active and responsive are Yang type qualities.  Passive and analytic are Yin type qualities.


And so we come to a defined binary description of the four elements.  It is interesting to look at these again in the Zodiac cycle, where we have Fire-Earth-Air-Water as the order.  This gives us Yang-Yang/Yin-Yin/Yang-Yin/Yin-Yang.  The first part has a Yang/Yin/Yang/Yin cycling.  The second part as a Yang/Yin/Yin/Yang cycling.  This means the first pair cycles every sign, and the second every two signs, so twelve one month groupings for the first, and six two month groupings for the second.

This provides a new way to look at the Zodiac, as we now see Pisces/Aries as a grouping, Taurus/Gemini, Cancer/Leo, Virgo/Libra, Scorpio/Sagittarius, and Capricorn/Aquarius.  Interesting thoughts and ideas form as you look at those pairings not in the terms we have above, but in the pictures representing them and the similarities within each pair, and where the division between groups lies.

Our final Zodiac table looks like so:


~Muninn's Kiss

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