Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Meanings behind Flowers and their Colors

Connotations of the Blue Lotus Flower in Buddhism

This is the symbol of the victory of the spirit over the senses, of intelligence and wisdom, of knowledge. It is always represented as a partially opened bud, and (unlike the red lotus) its centre is never seen. It is the lotus of Manjusri, and also one of the attributes of Prajnaparamita, the embodiment of the 'perfection of wisdom'.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Color Theorist - vertical image timeline

Color Models over time

Della PortaAguiloniusKircher
WundtVon BezoldRood
Mac Adam/RoschJohanssonHickethier

Paracelsus - Renaissance Magic and Medicine - Alchemist

Paracelsus pioneered the use of chemicals and minerals in medicine. His hermetical views were that sickness and health in the body relied on the harmony of man (microcosm) and Nature (macrocosm). He took an approach different from those before him, using this analogy not in the manner of soul-purification but in the manner that humans must have certain balances of minerals in their bodies, and that certain illnesses of the body had chemical remedies that could cure them. (Debus & Multhauf, p. 6-12)
As a result of this hermetical idea of harmony, the universe's macrocosm was represented in every person as a microcosm. According to the insights at the time, there were Seven planets on the sky, Seven metals on Earth and Seven centers (or major organs) in Man — seven was a special number. Everything was heavenly and closely interrelated (see table).
Diseases were caused by poisons brought here from the stars. But 'poisons' were not necessarily something negative, in part because related substances interacted, in part because only the dose determined if a substance was poisonous or not. Evil could expel evil. Therefore, poisons could have beneficial medical effects. Because everything in the universe was interrelated, beneficial medical substances could be found in herbs, minerals and various alchemical combinations hereof. Paracelsus viewed the universe as one coherent organism pervaded by a uniting lifegiving spirit, and this in its entirety, Man included, was 'God'. His views put him at odds with the Church, for whom there necessarily had to be a difference between the Creator and the created.[9]

MarsIronGall bladder

MarsIronGall bladder

Hippocrates and Empedocles - Humors and Color

About the humours

The story of the long-lived notion of humours, recounted in Passions and Tempers, shows how we have historically represented our bodies to ourselves, and how even the capacity to see inside the body does not necessarily suffice to understand how it is functioning or failing to function.
In this book, you can read about the power of medicine and drugs to help us - of doctors, diets or lifestyle changes to cure our bodies and of psychiatrists to cure our minds - and about the relation between medical or scientific knowledge and clinical practice.
Just as the capacity to help an ailing person can depend on instinct and "folk" traditions as well as on "high" knowledge, so the division in the West between what we consider to be a mainstream, mechanistic view of the body and what we consider the "alternative", holistic and often humoural one may not be as clear as may seem.
Passions and Tempers aims to change the common view according to which our modernity - and especially our modern, mechanistic science - was born in opposition to everything that preceded it, pointing to the endurance of old ideas in contemporary culture.


According to the humoural theory passed down from the Greek Hippocratics 2500 years ago and established until modern times, we harboured all four humours in the blood. (Note: the humour blood is distinct from the usual blood.)
We were born with a certain temperament that was made up of a mixture of these humours: the body`s constitution or complexion, orkrasis (in Greek), was constituted by them. Ideally all of the humours had to be balanced, according to one`s temperament. When the body was thrown off-balance, it was in a state ofdyskrasia (in Greek), and that was when one was ill, unhappy or out-of- sorts.
The proportions between the humours were thought to change over a lifetime, but also over the year, and even the day. No one was born with an equal amount of each one, and what counted as optimal balance for one person differed from what counted as optimal balance for someone else.
Still, each humour traditionally had specific characteristics. These are described on the results page if you take the humoural personality test, but they are summed up below.

choler, or yellow bilepredominant in those endowed with a choleric temperament
  • element: fire
  • qualities: hot and dry
  • color: yellow
  • taste: bitter
  • season: summer
  • time of day: midday
  • body organ: spleen
  • period of life: youth
  • signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
  • planet: Mars
In a balanced person, the predominance of choler ensured a reactive and quick-tempered character. A choleric was typically able to make decisions well and fast, and preferred action over contemplation. But a surplus of choler could become "burned" and eventually turn into melancholy (melan=black, choler=bile, in Greek). Character could also become acrid and negative; reactivity might then be directed at the wrong objects. This sort of choleric could get angry easily and have episodes of uncontrolled, potentially dangerous rage. As Brutus exclaimed to Cassius in Shakespeare`s Julius Caesar (IV, 3): "Must I give way and room to your rash choler? Shall I be frighted when a madman stares?"

melancholy, or black bilepredominant in those endowed with a melancholic temperament
  • element: earth
  • qualities: cold and dry
  • color: black
  • taste: sour
  • season: autumn
  • time of day: afternoon
  • body organ: liver
  • period of life: maturity
  • signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
  • planet: Saturn
To harbour black bile in the organism did not entail that one would be a melancholic. Those who were generally balanced could have episodes of mild melancholy, akin to the blues. Those who were less balanced might be more affected by it and develop a syndrome akin to depression. Melancholics used to be identified by their pale, sallow looks, their lack of appetite and tendency to withdraw from society. Generally, though, it was considered healthy to harbour a dose of it: it helped us temper our enthusiasms, keep our feet on the ground, practice introspection and contemplation, appreciate art, and empathize with the distress of others.

bloodpredominant in those endowed with a sanguine temperament
  • element: air
  • qualities: hot and moist
  • color: red
  • taste: sweet
  • season: spring
  • time of day: morning
  • body organ: heart
  • period of life: childhood
  • signs: Gemini, Aquarius, Libra
  • planet: Jupiter
Blood was the "best" of all the humours. The sanguine person was typically balanced, equanimous, patient, thoughtful, active in a measured way, able to judge people and situations well, and to contain his or her own shifts of moods, as well as those of others. The presence of blood diminished the power exerted by other humours that might have been present in high doses. An excess of it, however, went along with a general insensitivity and indifference to the fate of others.

phlegmpredominant in those endowed with a phlegmatic temperament
  • element: water
  • qualities: cold and moist
  • color: white
  • taste: salty
  • season: winter
  • time of day: evening
  • body organ: liver
  • period of life: old age
  • signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
  • planet: Moon
Phlegm was associated with slowness, sleepiness, runny noses and lack of drive of any sort. At its best, though, and especially when it was present with a relatively high proportion of choler, phlegm was thought to ensure a sense of calm, stability and serenity, as well as a capacity for prolonged concentration and for appropriate judgements and upraisals of situations and people.

The four humours were first mooted in the 5th century BC, in Greece.
Each one corresponded to an element and a quality. The presocratic philosopher Empedocles established the fourfold division of the universe; and since humans are part of the universe, the division applied to us too.

The first, legendary (but probably real) doctor Hippocrates was also active in this period, and he took on board this idea.
The system endured in the West for an extraordinarily long time. Other versions of it still exist in other parts of the world. The western system specifically, on which Passions and Tempers focuses, was passed on to posterity first by the Hippocratic writings, assembled into a corpus in Alexandria, Egypt, at the height of that city`s reign, in the 3rd century BC.
It was then revised, analysed and consolidated by the Greek-speaking Roman doctor Galen of Pergamon, who lived in the 2nd century AD and wrote a prodigious number of books. Medicine remained in a sort of stasis for centuries after this - give or take a few important discoveries, especially within the Arabic-speaking world, thanks to which most of the classical knowledge, medical and otherwise, was passed on.
But variations and breaches appeared with the advent of the Renaissance, when it became possible to dissect human cadavers again, and when the original texts of antiquity arrived in Europe from Turkey. Once one could look inside the body, the old humours began their transformation. But they endured within medical practice and ordinary beliefs.
Passions and Tempers explains how and why that is - and why this story matters to us today. You can buy it from the home page.

Ancient Greco-Roman Healing


The Classical Era

     Greek Medicine was codified, systematized, and put into its classical form by Hippocrates, who is best remembered for the theory of the Four Humors.  The basic principles of natural healing in Greek Medicine given in the introduction to this website are the key tenets upon which Hippocrates based his medical philosophy.
Healing     Anatomical knowledge wasn't the strong point of Hippocratic medicine.  Anatomy literally means, "cutting up", or the dissecting of bodies to reveal their various parts and structures.  In ancient Greece, there was a religious ban on the dissecting of cadavers.
     Rather, the forte of classical Greek Medicine was its understanding of physiology, or how the living, breathing human organism as a whole relates and responds to its environment, and how it functions to ensure its health, survival and wellbeing.  This gave Greek Medicine a holistic orientation.
     Hippocrates laid the theoretical foundation for Greek Medicine, which was further elaborated, expanded and added to by other physicians and philosophers.  These included Plato, Aristotle and Galen.
     Plato was a spiritually oriented philosopher who was vitally interested in the relationship between soul, mind and body.  His ideas on anatomy and physiology were basically teleological - that the human body and all its constituent parts were fashioned by their Creator to serve as a vehicle for the indwelling soul, or psyche, with the lower functions serving the higher in a hierarchy of form following function.  Plato believed that all physical forms and entities were reflections of pure forms or ideas called archetypes which existed in the eternal, spiritual realm.  The physical world of becoming was but a transitory and imperfect reflection of the spiritual world of being.
     Aristotle was much more materialistic than his teacher Plato, and injected a spirit of rationalism, empiricism and healthy skepticism into Greek science and medicine.  Ever the curious student and observer of Nature, Aristotle wrote voluminously on all the sciences, and could be called the Father of Modern Science.
     Through the conquests of his pupil, Alexander the Great, Greek Medicine spread far and wide, throughout the entire Mediterranean world and beyond.  An important medical school was established in Alexandria in Egypt, which served to transmit Greek Medicine to the Romans after they conquered Egypt in 33 B.C.E.  The Alexandrian school called itself the Empirical School, and everything was open to testing and experimentation.  For a brief period, the religious ban on dissecting cadavers was lifted, and Herophilus performed the first postmortem examination on a dead body in public around 300 B.C.E.
     The famous library in Alexandria housed the collection of writings attributed to Hippocrates, or the Hippocratic Corpus.  Not all the writings in the Corpus were genuinely written by Hippocrates; many were written by his students.  Within the Hippocratic Corpus are many original, pioneering works, such as Airs, Waters and Places, which is probably the the first known treatise on medical geography and climatology.  Other works, such as Hippocrates' Aphorisms and The Nature of Man, are perennial favorites.
     The early Romans were a simple, stoic lot who didn't like to rely on doctors; rather, their prescription for a healthy life was a simple diet of good, wholesome food, personal cleanliness and hygiene, and plenty of hard work and exercise. 
     But as the Roman empire grew and life became more complex, the demand for doctors and their services increased.  Ambitious physicians from all over the empire, eager for fame and fortune, poured in to Rome.  The most famous and highly reputed physicians were Greek, many of whom had been trained in Alexandria.  However, a few of them, like Celsus, were Roman by birth. 
     The Romans, with their genius for governing an empire, were masters of public health.  They installed long aqueducts and sophisticated plumbing systems in Rome and other major cities throughout the empire, and drained swamps and marshlands near crowded urban areas to prevent the germination and spread of pestilential diseases like malaria.  Public healthcare was offered at low cost or free of charge, since the ancient Romans realized the benefits that would accrue to the empire by keeping all its citizens healthy.
     The Romans were also great devotees of the bath.  Roman emperors vied with each other to see who could build the most luxurious, splendid public baths, which were also a pleasant way to relax after a hard day's work.  Everywhere they went, the Romans took their baths with them, even to the farthest outposts of the empire.  The Roman baths in Bath, England are still popular tourist attractions, and Baile Herculane (the Bath of Hercules) in Dacia (present day Romania) is a popular spa resort to this day.
     The two brightest stars in the Roman medical firmament were Galen and Dioscorides, both of whom were Greeks.  They were both pioneering innovators who made major contributions to the theory and practice of Greek Medicine.  Galen was the greatest physician of the Roman empire, and Dioscorides was a master herbalist and Father of Pharmacy.
     Although the Western Roman Empire fell to barbarian invasions in 476 A.D., the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire endured for another thousand years, finally falling to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.  Although the Byzantine Empire produced its share of fine physicians, they were not quite the equal of Galen or Dioscorides.  The Byzantines kept classical Greek Medicine alive long enough to pass it on to the Muslim Arabs, who kept the spirit of science and learning alive while Western Europe was in the Dark Ages.

Goddess Myths

Erzulie is the Haitian Goddess of Love whose roots go back to West Africa. She is beauty, sweetness, love and sensuality personified and is renowned for her generosity. The arts, especially dance, are her domain. Rivers, streams, lakes and waterfalls are hers and she can cure womb-related problems with her cool waters. The fan that she is holding is from Osogbo, Nigeria and belongs to a priestess of Oshun who is the mediator between the divine or natural world and the world of people, the cross in the circle indicating the meeting of the two worlds.
  29"x24" copyright 1997 oil on linen 
Eve's title, "Mother of All Living", was a translation of "Jaganmata", Kali Ma's (Goddess of decay, death and rejuvenation) title in India. Originally it was believed that Eve created all beings out of clay, some believing that she had the help of her serpent. The flying malachite kingfisher symbolizes the halcyon days of the Goddess before patriarchy. Bird-headed snake Goddess from pre-dynastic Egypt, 4000 BCE.
 35"x20" copyright 1996 oil on linen 
Flora was the Roman Goddess of flowers and all plants. She symbolized the flowering of nature and was celebrated during the Floralia, which started on April 27th and lasted six days, by women honoring their bodies in their natural state. She was considered the clandestine patron of Rome since, without her, the city would not grow and thrive. She is wearing an earring from Pompeii, 1st century BCE-1st century CE; a Roman ring from the 3rd century CE; and a Roman bracelet from the 1st-2nd century CE. In the background is a Roman statue of an earth Goddess.
 34"x20" copyright 1998 oil on linen 
 36" diameter copyright 1999 oil on linen
According to Hesiod, Gaia was born from Chaos and gave birth to all aspects of Nature. As the Earth herself, Gaia was regarded by the ancients as the mother of all and, as such, was the first "Pythia" or Oracle at Delphi. Her daughter Themis was known as the Queen of the Oracles and thus began the long line of priestesses, or Pythias, at Delphi, lasting more than 1000 years. The priestess, Oracle of Earth, was called Pythia after Pytho, the serpent who guarded the sacred divinatory Castalian Spring. It was said that she sat on a tripod in the cave, inhaling fumes from a fissure in the earth, or from burning laurel leaves and, falling into a trance, delivered her oracle. The serpent or dragon symbolized the chthonic energy of the earth, hence the term "dragon lines" denoting the lay lines or earth currents between places of high sacred energy, Delphi being the geographical center, omphalos or navel of Earth. The omphalos is said to be the tomb of Pytho who was slain by Apollo. The symbolism in the myths of Apollo slaying Pytho, or St. George slaying the dragon, reflects patriarchal attempts to conquer the energies of Earth. Image of Gaia emerging from the fissure from the Pergamon Altar, Greek, 165-156 BCE, found in present day Bergama, Turkey; round image on the right from an Ancient Greek vase painting of a consultation with a Pythia; necklace with beechnut pendants, Thessaloniki, 300 BCE.
The crone aspect of the triple Goddess (maiden, mother, crone), Hecate was worshipped during the dark phase of the moon where 3 roads crossed. As the Greek Goddess of death and regeneration, her powerful magic was widely respected. Her worship could have originated in Egypt as Heqit and possibly further back to Nubia and northern Sudan. She possessed knowledge of the Heka - the magical power of words. The frog (as a symbol of transformation) and the dog were her totems. Behind her, left, is part of a frieze from the Pergamon Altar: Hecate in her triple aspect in the battle between the Olympian gods and the Titans, 165-156 BCE, Greek, found in present day Bergama, Turkey; triple Goddess statue is Roman, 1st century; earrings from Madytos, Greece, 4th century BCE; necklace from Kourion, Greece, 4th century BCE.
  29"x23" copyright 1998 oil on linen 
Originally the chief divinity in pre-patriarchal Greece, she ruled the earth and all beings, was worshipped as a triple Goddess (youth, mother, crone), and was highly celebrated in the Heraea, which were games that pre-dated the Olympics. Since Hera's worship was so well established that she could not be overthrown, when the patriarchal tribes invaded Greece, their sky god Zeus became her philandering husband. The legendary rapes Zeus committed against many Goddesses are a reflection of the acts of the invading tribes against the Goddess worshipping women of Greece. It was believed that Hera scattered the "eyes" on the tail of the peacock, symbolizing the starry firmament. The image on top of the staff is from a Syrian relief found at the Sanctuary of Hera at Samos, pre-5th century BCE; relief on the throne from a Cycladic relief of Hera as the Great Goddess, 680-70 BCE, Thebes; statue of Hera from Tarentum, Italy, 460 BCE.
 30"x24" copyright 1997 oil on linen 
Ancient Babylonian Goddess of love, fertility and (later) war who was widely worshipped in the Mesopotamian region under various names (Inanna in Sumer) for over 5000 years. Her many titles included Queen of Heaven and Queen of Earth. Her crown, tiers of lunar horns encircling a cone, symbolized the sacred mountain and her ties to earth, heaven and the underworld. Among her many symbols were the crescent moon and the 8-pointed star (Venus). When her consort, Tammuz, was taken into the underworld, she retrieved him, leaving a garment or piece of jewelry at each of the seven gates (waning moon). When she brought him back, the cycle of life was renewed (waxing moon). She is standing in front of the Gates of Ishtar, Babylonian, 6th century BCE; round image in her right hand is of Ishtar on a lion, 9th - 7th century BCE; statue of Ishtar in her left hand, 1000 BCE; bracelet and earrings, 4th century BCE; Babylonian necklace, 15th century BCE.
 29"x24" copyright 1998 oil on linen 
Ancient Egyptian Goddess of healing and magic. She lived with her brother/husband Osiris until he was killed by his brother Set. Isis found his body in Phoenicia in a tamarisk tree and returned it to Egypt for a proper burial. After Set's second attempt to dispose of the body, Isis brought Osiris back to life and later conceived a child with him, Horus. Isis created a snake that bit Ra, highest of the gods. He asked her to heal him but she claimed that she could not until he whispered his secret name to her; he did and, in curing him, she gained eternal power over him. She is holding a naos sistrum which, when rattled, enabled Isis to give out divine blessings, for the Goddess resides in the sound. She is wearing a sun disk between cow horns, which represent the moon and its cycles, thereby uniting the permanent and the transient. Relief from the Temple at Abydos, c. 13th century BCE..
 26"x26" copyright 1996 oil on linen 
Mayan Goddess of the moon, healing , childbirth and weaving. The sun was her lover but became jealous of the morning star, who was his brother, accusing them of being lovers. He threw Ixchel out of the heavens and she took refuge with the vulture divinity. The sun followed her and lured her back home once more, only to become jealous again. Ixchel, tired of the sun's actions, left him and wandered through the heavens as she wished, becoming invisible if the sun came near her. The rabbit, according to Mayan legend, is a scribe who keeps the lunar calendar. The image in the moon is from a figurine from Jaina Island off the Yucatan, 800 CE.
  36" diameter copyright 1995 oil on linen 
Chinese Goddess of Compassion whose name means "she who hears the weeping world". Kuan-Yin was willing to keep her human form even after reaching enlightenment because of her deep concern for human life. She never turned away from anyone's cries, no matter how often she was asked for mercy and wisdom. The lotus sceptre in her right hand contains the nectar of wisdom. The figure behind her is from Asia, 11th - early 12th century CE. Kuan-Yin is shown with the panda, an endangered species close to extinction unless the Goddess of Compassion intervenes.
  26"x26" copyright 1996 oil on linen 
Kuan-Yin was the Chinese Goddess of compassion, also known as "She who hears the weeping world". After attaining enlightenment, she decided to remain in her human form until all earth's inhabitants gained enlightenment as well. Her followers exercised compassion toward all beings, never eating the flesh of any creature, and lived completely non-violent lives. She was often portrayed holding a willow branch accompanied by Lung, the celestial dragon. Lung is a beneficent creature, bringing rain for the crops in the spring. Some say that the reason the moon changes phases is because Lung slowly swallows the moon and then slowly releases it. It is a Buddhist belief that water sprinkled with a willow branch can bring purifying energy. Kuan-Yin is holding a Kuang, which is a ritual wine vessel, from China, Shang Dynasty (Anyang Period), c. 13th-11th century BCE. The statue of Kuan-Yin on the branch is from early 8th century China, T'ang Dynasty. The dragon design on her necklace is from a Chinese disk, E. Zhou Dynasty, 4th-3rd century BCE.
  30"x24" copyright 1999 oil on linen 
Hindu Goddess from India who brings fame, prosperity, abundance and good fortune to her worshipers. She is associated with the lotus, which symbolizes fruitfulness, purity and attainment of higher spiritual levels (Padma-Lakshmi). She is often portrayed accompanied by elephants showering her with water (Gaja Lakshmi), referring to the belief that elephants are related to the clouds who are their cousins. It was said that the first elephants had wings and could fly among the clouds. When referred to as Sri-Lakshmi, her numerous capabilities, power, beauty, and glory are emphasized. The image of Padma-Lakshmi carved in the stone tablet is from the north gate of the Great Stupa at Sanchi, India, c. 100 CE. She wears 3 necklaces from Mohenjo-daro, c. 2600-1900 BCE; her earring is from Harappa, c. 2600-1900 BCE; she holds a terracotta stone jar from Chanhudaro, c. 2600-2000 BCE, Pakistan.
 30"x24" copyright 1999 oil on linen 
Originally the Sumero-Babylonian Goddess Belit-Ili, Lilith was Adam's first wife who refused to be submissive to him, according to ancient Hebrew myth. She stole power from Yahweh, grew wings and flew to the Red Sea where she remained. This myth reflects the attempts of the patriarchal nomadic invaders to subjugate the agricultural people of the Great Goddess religions. She sits in front of the Burney Plaque, an ancient representation of herself from Sumer, 2000 BCE.
 40" diameter copyright 1994 oil on linen