From Chapter 3. Plant Physiognomy
Every plant is a terrestrial star. The plant’s celestial properties are inscribed in the color of its petals; its terrestrial properties, in the shape of its leaves. No form of magic is extrinsic to the plant kingdom because, as we have already demonstrated, the plant kingdom encompasses the entire spectrum of astral powers and influences. There are three different keys to the external properties of plants that occult herbalists use to unlock their inner virtues. These are the binary key, the quaternary (elemental or zodiacal) key, and the septenary (or planetary) key. . . .
The four elements and the quintessence each correspond to one of our five senses, which is to say that each of these five forms of motion reveals the qualities of objects through the vibration of one of our sensory nerve centers:
1. EARTH corresponds to our sense of smell (to the odor of the plant).
2. WATER corresponds to our sense of taste (to the flavor of the plant).
3. FIRE corresponds to our sense of sight (to the shape of the plant).
4. AIR corresponds to our sense of touch (to the body of the plant).
5. QUINTESSENCE corresponds to our sense of hearing (to the spirit of the plant).
Table 3.1 provides correspondences between plant physiognomies and the four elements. Occult herbalists will notice, however, that this table includes only simple types, which are purely theoretical. In reality, plants have much more complex elemental compositions consisting of combinations of elements. Table 3.2 presents the various combinations and their corresponding zodiacal signatures, which specify their general character.
If, then, we wish to know a priori the vegetal qualities of a particular zodiacal signature, for example, those of Aries, we may first consult Table 3.2 and determine that Aries is a FIRE (vertical column) of EARTH (horizontal column) sign. The Arien plant, then, according to the sensory and physiognomic features outlined in Table 3.1, will have a penetrating and fatty odor and a spicy but not unpleasant flavor, its flowers will be orange-red in color, and it will be small but robust. This example should suffice to demonstrate the ingenuity of this method. In addition, we provide below a more detailed and descriptive list of the vegetal characteristics of each of the zodiacal signatures, which we have compiled from a great number of authors. With the aid of this catalogue, occult herbalists will be able to perfect the practice of identifying the quaternary signatures of plants on the basis of their external features.
1. Aries: FIRE of EARTH. Plants with Arien signatures are hot and dry. The element FIRE predominates in them. Their physical structures will more or less resemble the human head or its anatomical subdivisions such as the eyes, the nose, the tongue, the teeth, or the beard. Their medicinal actions cure diseases of the head and the face, and they have therapeutic effects for individuals born under the sign of Aries. They have yellow flowers, an acrid flavor, thin stems, and diphyllous or bipetalous leaves. The characteristic perfume of Aries is ⛤myrrh.
2. Taurus: EARTH of FIRE. Plants with Taurean signatures are cold and dry. The element EARTH predominates in them. They are sour to the taste and sweet-scented. They are tall, give off aromatic fragrances, freeze easily, and produce large quantities of fruit. Some Taurean plants assume the shape of the throat or the esophagus. Their medicinal actions cure diseases of the neck and the throat, and they have therapeutic effects for individuals born under the sign of Taurus. They often bear androgynous flowers. The characteristic perfume of Taurus is costus or kuth, the essential oil extracted from the root of the thistle species Saussurea costus (Falc.) Lipsch. . . .
SAMPLE ENTRIES from “Part Three. A Concise Dictionary of Magical Plants”
Latin binomial: Chelidonium majus Tourn. ex L.
French names: chélidoine (grande), éclaire, félougène, herbe aux hirondelles, herbe de Sainte Claire, herbe dentaire, herbe aux verrues, sologne, salaranio (Languedocian).
Elemental qualities: cold and dry (Earth).
Ruling planet: Sun.
Zodiacal signatures: Taurus and Libra.
Occult properties: Greater celandine has alterative, cathartic, diaphoretic, diuretic, and expectorant properties. It remains one of the best-known folk remedies for jaundice and liver diseases. Paracelsus considered the spagyric essences of greater celandine and lemon balm to be richest in virtue. This “herb of triumph” was sacred to medieval magicians, who gave it the “Chaldean” name aquilaris. According to the Grand Albert, when harvested at the appropriate time and worn as an amulet, it serves as an effective compliment to all magical operations for ensuring success in business and especially in trials, and if placed on the head of patients suffering from a life-threatening illness, it will cause them either to sing, which means they will die, or to cry, which means they will live.
Latin binomial (type sp.): Sambucus nigra L.
French names: sureau, grand sureau, saüc (Languedocian), seu, sureau noir, suyer, suzeau.
Elemental qualities: hot and dry (Fire).
Ruling planet: Mercury. Zodiacal signature: Aries. Harvest under Leo.
Occult properties: Elderberries possess aperient, diaphoretic, diuretic, and emetic properties. The oil drawn from elderberry seeds or an oil in which its seeds have been infused is beneficial in the treatment of gout. The type of mistletoe that thrives on elderberry trees, especially those that grow next to willow trees, is particularly effective against epilepsy. Their flowers heal erysipelas and burns, their seeds possess sudorific properties, and their bark is good for edema. A small scion picked just before the new Moon of October and cut into nine pieces is also useful against edema, so too the root when pulled from the earth at noon on the feast day of Saint John the Baptist (June 24). Sprinkling a decoction of its leaves around your home kills flies and other noxious insects. In the Hermetic language of flowers, the elderberry is emblematic of zealousness.