Re: Egypt in the pre-Gebelin tarot

#61
I see your point. But "Thoh" could be the Egyptian name for the process or substance which in Arabic is called "Azot". "Azot" being the name of Mercury as well as a mysterious and magical substance, "philosophical Mercury" or some such thing, to which the god Thoth corresponds in Greco-Egyptian. Wikipedia says of Azoth:
Azoth was believed to be the essential agent of transformation in alchemy. It is the name given by ancient alchemists to Mercury, the animating spirit hidden in all matter that makes transmutation possibleThe word comes from the Arabic al-zā'būq which means "Mercury". The word occurs in the writings of many early alchemists, such as Zosimos, Mary the Jewess, Olympiodorus, and Jābir ibn Hayyān (Geber).
Likewise "Thoh" would come from the word "Thoth", likely meaning the same substance, but in Greco-Egyptian.

In the 1570 edition, the word "Azoth" doesn't occur on the chest. I would guess that the illustration in book 12 simply wasn't changed so as to add the word "Azoth" there. That both words word on the chest might be our clue that "Thoh" means what is normally meant by "Azoth".

Re: Egypt in the pre-Gebelin tarot

#62
mikeh wrote:
04 Jan 2018, 14:24
It is the name given by ancient alchemists to Mercury, the animating spirit hidden in all matter that makes transmutation possibleThe word comes from the Arabic al-zā'būq which means "Mercury".
Arabic al-zā'būq
اَلزَّاوُوق
"The mercury", that is the metal, quicksilver - not Mercury the planet (عُطارِد - Utarid), nor the Roman God
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Egypt in the pre-Gebelin tarot

#63
Thanks for that. Another complication! Unfortunately we don't know the history of "Thoh"; it just appears out of nowhere. Maybe Thurneysser was trying for an Egyptian equivalent of "Azot", to fit the Egyptian attire of the lady, and came up with "Thoh", meaning "Thoth",, knowing it was "Mercury" in Latin and assuming that the Egyptians called the alchemical substance by the same name as the god, as in Latin. If it doesn't occur anywhere else, that would be my guess.

I wonder what word Zosimos used, hydrargyrum? Was there some other Greco-Egyptian word for the metal, in the early days of alchemy? These questions might be relevant if "Thoh" had a history before Thurnmeysser.

Re: Egypt in the pre-Gebelin tarot

#64
Thoh seems to be paired in the other illustration with Ladanus* (one single flask labeled Ladanus, another flask labeled Thoh connected to a distillation jar), no reference to 'Azot', also in the Table, middle column has Ladanus at the top and Thoh at the bottom, so the relationship/meaning seems to be in a paring with Ladanus, a resin with fragrant essential oil (released by fire or can be isolated through steam distillation), used as a perfume, stimulant and in embalming - Thoh appears to be something from which something is distilled -- (which could be anything, distillation being such a prime alchemical process)

But yes, perhaps the word Azot was added in later edition to clarify meaning of Thoh -- but apparently being a unique and undefined term of Thurneysser's alone, we can surely never know --

SteveM

* Myrrh combed from the beards of goats who had been grazing on the Rock Rose, Cistus Creticus
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Egypt in the pre-Gebelin tarot

#65
SteveM wrote,
But yes, perhaps the word Azot was added in later edition to clarify meaning of Thoh -- but apparently being a unique and undefined term of Thurneysser's alone, we can surely never know
Well, if nothing like the term appears in any of the hundreds (at least) of alchemical texts before him, we can be reasonably sure that either he or someone very close in time to him made it up. It is an easy enough hypothesis to falsify. We can never know for sure that the tarot sequence didn't originate in ancient Egypt either, but again, if nothing appears in the ancient world resembling that sequence, or its traces afterward, we can be reasonably sure there isn't any. I have my feelers out to others who know alchemical texts better than I: what is this "thoh"?

Re: Egypt in the pre-Gebelin tarot

#66
mikeh wrote:
06 Jan 2018, 11:07
SteveM wrote,
But yes, perhaps the word Azot was added in later edition to clarify meaning of Thoh -- but apparently being a unique and undefined term of Thurneysser's alone, we can surely never know
Well, if nothing like the term appears in any of the hundreds (at least) of alchemical texts before him, we can be reasonably sure that either he or someone very close in time to him made it up. It is an easy enough hypothesis to falsify. We can never know for sure that the tarot sequence didn't originate in ancient Egypt either, but again, if nothing appears in the ancient world resembling that sequence, or its traces afterward, we can be reasonably sure there isn't any. I have my feelers out to others who know alchemical texts better than I: what is this "thoh"?
Adam McLean might be a good person to ask -
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Egypt in the pre-Gebelin tarot

#67
I'm not convinced Thoh is a weird spelling of Thoth. All variations of the name from classical sources contain the final "t", so even "Thot" would be normal, but I am not aware of any with an additional "h".

I'm thinking of the substitution with Azoth. My first thought was the Latinate and Renaissance Thohu from the phrase "Thohu et Bohu" or "Thohuvebohu", the "formless and void" in Latin versions of Genesis, taken over into some vernaculars. This primal chaos might have been a term for the alchemical "Prima Materia."

For instance, in this 1531 non-alchemical German text - https://books.google.fr/books?id=PpZbAA ... 22&f=false

I haven't done much searching yet.
Image

Re: Egypt in the pre-Gebelin tarot

#68
I am far from convinced that 'Thoh' = Thoth myself, and had wondered about Tohu-Bohu too ---

For what it's worth in Turkish we have Azot Tohum = Nitrogen Seed

Azot = Nitrogen -- As in illustration below, Azot (nitrogen) bacteria - Rhizobia* bacteria --- borrowed from French azote, from Ancient Greek ἀ- (a-, “not”) + ζωή (zōḗ, “life”)

Tohum = pit, seed, germ, egg --- originally from Persian تخم‏ "fertilized grain"
AzotTohum.JPG
AzotTohum.JPG (16.56 KiB) Viewed 1369 times
Thoh = the universal seed (quintessence/elixir of something) ?

Alexander Henry in The Doctrines of Alchemy wrote:
"He is the true Catholic Magnesia, the universal seed of the world, of Whom, through Whom and to Whom all things in heaven and upon earth -- the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, says the Lord that is, and was, and is to come, the Almighty"

Which would connect Thoh as universal seed with Azoth (beginning and end)

After another manner however, Azot is Death, or that which putrifies (Paracelsus), and the universal seed orseed of nature (also called Gur) is born in putrified water, see the lecture of this modern alchemist for example:



"Practicing alchemist Daniel Coaten will show a detailed step by step photo diary of alchemical experiments he has conducted in his laboratory in Iceland. In this lecture, examples will be shown on his research into the production of Gur or Seed of Nature; a white to brown cotton like substance obtained via the putrefaction of water, which is said to contain the seeds of life for all three Kingdoms of Nature (i.e. Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral)."

SteveM

*Rhizobia are bacteria that fix nitrogen (diazotrophs) after becoming established inside root nodules of legumes (Fabaceae). To express genes for nitrogen fixation, rhizobia require a plant host; they cannot independently fix nitrogen. Wikipedia
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Egypt in the pre-Gebelin tarot

#69
Ross wrote,
I'm not convinced Thoh is a weird spelling of Thoth. All variations of the name from classical sources contain the final "t", so even "Thot" would be normal, but I am not aware of any with an additional "h".
If "Thoh" was a made-up variant of some word, done in the 15th or 16th century, then philology is irrelevant. What is relevant is what words Thurneysser and his cohorts would have known to form the word "Thoh" from. In that sense, what you say next is relevant.
I'm thinking of the substitution with Azoth. My first thought was the Latinate and Renaissance Thohu from the phrase "Thohu et Bohu" or "Thohuvebohu", the "formless and void" in Latin versions of Genesis, taken over into some vernaculars. This primal chaos might have been a term for the alchemical "Prima Materia."

For instance, in this 1531 non-alchemical German text - https://books.google.fr/books?id=PpZbAA ... 22&f=false
So "Thohu" occurred in texts Thurneysser is likely to have seen, and it is related to "Azoth". You certainly are good at pulling rabbits out of hats, Ross. "Thohu" is also relevant if the word "Thoh" occurs elsewhere in western alchemy.

Is this derivation preferable to that of "Thoth", if Thurneysser made up the term "Thoh" himself? The question in my mind is, how likely is he to have known that "Azot" meant the alchemical substance otherwise known as Mercury? And is it, in fact? Otherwise, how likely was he to know that it came from the Arabic word for the metal? That assumption strikes me as dubious. At the moment, I'd say that "Thohu" fits a bit better than "Thoth", based on what we know so far; but more investigation is in order, especially about that chart in Book 12 in relation to "prima materia" vs. "mercury" as the meaning of "Thoh" there, and about any other history of the word elsewhere.

Steve's Turkish "Tohum" seems to me relevant only if there is a history of "Thoh" that likely goes back to a Turkish, Armenian, or Persian source (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D8%AA%D ... 85#Persian), as I doubt if Thurneysser would have been familiar with those languages or works using those terms from those languages, independently of alchemy.

The combination of Azot with Tohum in Turkish is certainly impressive. But how far back does that combination go, for a seed with nitrogen-fixing bacteria? It seems very modern. Nitrogen wasn't even discovered until 1772. Wikipedia says:
The name nitrogène was suggested by French chemist Jean-Antoine-Claude Chaptal in 1790, when it was found that nitrogen was present in nitric acid and nitrates. Antoine Lavoisier suggested instead the name azote, from the Greek άζωτικός "no life", as it is an asphyxiant gas; this name is instead used in many languages, such as French, Russian, and Turkish, and appears in the English names of some nitrogen compounds such as hydrazine, azides and azo compounds.
It would appear that the term "azote" was coined by Lavoisier. But I wonder if perhaps it was used earlier, for the gas, since it could kill people even before the lethal part was identified. If I hadn't read Wikipedia, I would have assumed that nitric acid and nitrates were so named because they contained nitrogen, and not the other way around. (See also their article on "niter", a word that apparently comes from the Egyptian word for salts with sodium carbonate, which of course contains no nitrogen.)

Re: Egypt in the pre-Gebelin tarot

#70
I wonder where the meaning of Azot as death comes from? could it be the same etymology as for Azote/Nitrogen? (ie, from the Greek 'a' (not) 'zoe' (life))

In the pseudo-Paracelsus 'Liber Azot' Azot is described as 'one piece', that is Salt, Sulphur and Mercury - in a diagram underneath, below the letter Z of Azoth, it says "Eve inherited the soul from Adam after the Fall", which suggest a connection of the Z of Azoth with Eve (Zoe in Greek) at the time? (1590)
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

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