Table of correspondences
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A table of correspondences is an esoteric table that lists purported magical, supernatural, occult, medicinal or similar advice in connection with the subjects being indexed. Tables of correspondences are provided as reference tools in casting spells and creating magic circles. A table of correspondences can be as simple as a list of colors and their associated magical properties. A more sophisticated examples might include multiple columns and indexes. For example, a summary of ritual advice by auspicious time and place might include: alchemical or symbolic formulae to influence plants, animals, spirits or deities. Although distinct from sympathetic magic, examples can be found in ancient Greek medical theory, (the four humours), and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The belief that apparently unconnected things share a mystical connection is common to most cultures; it is one of the principles of sympathetic magic identified by anthropologist James George Frazer in The Golden Bough. Examples of the theory of interconnectedness in Western culture include the Platonic concept of macrocosm and microcosm, expressed in Hermeticism by the aphorism, "as above, so below"; the doctrine of signatures advocated in the Renaissance by Paracelsus; the Jewish mystical practice of Kabbalah, which Renaissance humanists attempted to Christianize; and the doctrine of correspondence in the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg.
Tables of correspondences are not limited to magical spellcasting. Gnostic books in the Nag Hammadi Library contain lists of aeons and archons (good and evil beings), correlating them to virtues and vices. The First Book of Enoch lists fallen angels and their spheres of influence. Medieval grimoires also included lists of correspondences. Tables of correspondences are also found in Chinese traditional and Indian Ayurvedic healthcare manuals.
In the Renaissance, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa published his Three Books of Occult Philosophy (1531), which contained many lists of correspondences, and Francis Barrett's The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer (1801, frequently reprinted) repeated many of Agrippa's lists.
Collecting attributes or indexes into small familiar sets provides a sense of orderliness:
- Four: the Western classical elements and Eastern wu xing, the cardinal directions and winds, the suits Tarot cards, the canonical gospels.
- Seven: the classical planets and days of the week;
- Twelve: the months of the year, the signs of the zodiac, the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and the twelve Olympians;
- Bill Whitcomb, The Magician's Companion, Llewellyn's High Magic Series. (Many tables of correspondence with some discussion and overview).