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  • Writer's pictureianmooreplaysfiddle


Updated: Jul 30, 2020

I've got a quick explanation of what the 'quintessence' was down below, but first I want to thank my various nutty comrades on the internet who helped me compile the following list of pentads, quintuplets, quintets, quincunces, cinquefoils...


in order of ‘mutual generation’ —

Wood || Fire || Earth || Metal || Water

(the ‘5 seasons’ of 72 days each)

Growth Flowering Fruition Harvest Stillness

Green || Red || Yellow || White || Black

East || South || Center || West || North

Jupiter || Mars || Saturn || Venus || Mercury

Eyes || Tongue || Mouth || Nose || Ears

tears || sweat || saliva || mucus || urine

index || middle || thumb || ring || pinky

sight || taste || touch || smell || hearing

sour || bitter || sweet || savory || salty

scaly || feathered || naked || furred || shell

HEAVENLY CREATURES: Azure Dragon, Vermillion Bird, Yellow Dragon, White Tiger, Black Tortoise

SVETAMBARA ASTIKAYA (Jainism): Jiva (soul), Pudgala (matter), Akasha (space), Dharma (motion), Adharma (rest)

PANDAVAS (Hindu epic): Yudhishthira (eldest, the son of Yama, virtue, justice), Bhima (son of Vayu, god of wind, physical strength), Arjuna (son of Indra, warrior god of the sky, master archer and strategist), Nakula (son of Asvin Nasatya, humble, diplomatic, adept with horses), Sahadeva (son of Asvin Dasra, wisest, master scholar, adept with cattle)

5 PRECEPTS (Mahayana): Compassion (no killing) Generosity (no stealing) Respect (no sexual misconduct) Honesty (no falsehoods) Mindfulness (no intoxicants)

5 POISONS (Mahayana): Delusion, Desire, Hatred, Pride, Envy

PANCHAMAKARA (tantric ritual): madya (alcohol) mamsa (meat) matsya (fish) mudra (‘parched grain’, likely a cannabis infused cereal wafer) maithuna (sex)

5 SHEKHINAS (Manichaeism): Reason (mens), Mind (sensus), Intelligence (prudentia), Thought (intellectus), Understanding (cogitato)

5 LIGHT ELEMENTS (Manichaeism): Ether, Wind, Light, Water, Fire

5 DARK ELEMENTS (Manichaeism): Smoke, Simoom, Darkness, Poison, Conflagration

SUNNI PILLARS of ISLAM: profession of faith, almsgiving, prayer, fasting, and the Hajj.

5 THIEVES of Sikhism: Lust, Rage, Greed, Attachment, Conceit

5 ‘K’s of Sikhism: Kesh (uncut hair), Kara (steel bracelet), Kanga (wooden comb), Kacch (tieable cotton undergarment), Kirpan (iron dagger)

BOOKS of the TORAH: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

BOOKS of the MEGILLOT: Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther

MAYAN COLOR GLYPHS: sak/ white, ik’/ black, k’an/ yellow, chak/ red, yax/ blue-green

MAYAN 5 Apocalypses: Tezcatlipoca (jaguars eat the people in darkness) Quetzalcoatl (people are turned into monkeys for their foolishness and they are blown away by a hurricane) Tlaloc (depressed, a drought ensues, he answers the people’s prayers with a storm of fire) Chalchiuhtlicue (her tears drown the world and the people turn into fish) Huitzilopochtli (if the Aztecs don’t keep up their sacrifices the world will be destroyed by an earthquake)

HESIOD’S Ages of Man: Golden Age (Cronus, peace & plenty) Silver Age (Zeus, mankind is punished for its impiety) Bronze Age (warlike, ends w a flood) Heroic Age (Trojan War) Iron Age (current era, dishonor & misery)

INTERCALARY DAYS of Ancient EGYPT: birthdays of Osiris, Horus, Set, Isis, Nephthys

CHESS Court : King, Queen, Bishop, Knight, Rook

ARITHMETIC FUNCTIONS: + , - , x , ÷, =

MODERN LETTERS derived from SEMITIC ‘Waw’: F, Y, V, U, W

CARDS Royal Flush: Ace King Queen Jack Ten


5 OLYMPIC RINGS: Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, Oceania

AL-MAGHRIB: Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya

NYC 5 BOROUGHS: Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island

GROUP OF 5 Industrialized Democracies: UK, GDR, USA, Japan & France

GROUP OF 5 Developing Economies: Brazil, India, China, Mexico, South Africa

IROQOIS CONFEDERACY: Mohawk, Onandaga, Cayuga, Oneida, Seneca

FIVE ‘Civilized’ TRIBES: Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek/ Muscogee, Seminole

THE FIVE FAMILIES: Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese

BAROQUE DANCE Suite: Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, (wild card, often a Minuet), Gigue

ORDINARIUM of the Mass: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei

MUSICAL CLEFS: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone, Bass

5 BASIC RHYTHMS for poetry: iambs, trochees, spondees, anapests and dactyls

VISUAL RHYTHM in Design: Alternating, Flowing, Progressive, Random, and Regular

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS (Curt Sachs): idiophones, membranophones, chordophones, aerophones, electrophones

QUARK FLAVOUR: Isospin, Charm, Strangeness, Topness, Bottomness

5 BOMB TYPES: Compressed gas, Low explosive, high explosive, Thermobaric, Nuclear

ANIMAL CLASSES: Fish, Amphibian, Reptile, Bird, Mammal

HOMINOIDS: gibbons, orangutangs, gorillas, chimpanzees, humans

LIFE ON EARTH, 5 Periods: Archaean (unicellular life develops, prokaryotes lacking nuclei), Proterozoic (eukaryotes arise, some are multicellular, bacteria begin producing extra oxygen), Paleozoic (animals develop, and some move to dry land), Mesozoic (dinosaurs), Cenozoic (mammals develop)

NUTRIENTS: protein, carbohydrate, fats, vitamins, minerals

FIVE FOOD GROUPS: fruits, vegetables, grains/ legumes, dairy, meat

OGOK-BAP (Korean): Glutinous rice, Proso millet, Sorghum, Black beans, Red beans

CHINESE 5 HOLY GRAINS (Confucius): Wheat, Broomcorn millet, Foxtail millet, Soybeans, Hempseed (although this is given as rice later)

CHAMEISHES MINEI DAGAN: Wheat, spelt, barley, oats & rye (these two are likely not the original)

PANCH PORA: Cumin, Fennel, Nigella, Fenugreek, Mustardseed

CLASSIC CHINESE 5 SPICE: 5 spice: star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel

5 MOTHER SAUCES: Bechamel, Espagnole, Tomato, Hollandaise, Velouté

5 DESSERT SAUCES: Simple Syrup, Sabayon, Creme Anglaise, Coulis, and Chocolate.

FIVE ALIVE CITRUS: Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Tangerine, Lime

FIVE ALIVE TROPICAL: Orange, Apricot, Guava, Mango, Passionfruit

FIVE ALIVE ‘Winter Crop’: Apple, Grape, Lemon, Pineapple, Cherry

5 DEADLY VENOMS: centipede, snake, scorpion, lizard, toad

5 POISONS of the CCP: Uyghurs, Tibetans, Falun Gong, Democracy agitators, Taiwan

VOLTRON LIONS: Wind-Green, Fire-Red, Earth-Yellow, Water-Blue, Lightning-Black

LOTR ‘races’: elf, dwarf, hobbit, goblin, men

FIVE COMPANIONS (Grimm): Strongman, Sharpshooter, Speedster, Stormblower, Frostbringer

5 CONSTIPATED MEN OF THE BIBE: Cain, Moses, Balaam, Solomon, Samson

4th EDITION AD&D Character ’Power Sources’: Martial, Arcane, Divine, Primal, Psionic

TEEN TITANS GO!: Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Raven, and Beast Boy

ORIGINAL X MEN: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel, Iceman

MOTU HEROS: He-Man, Teela, Sorceress, Man At Arms, Orko

DEADLY VIPER ASSASSINATION SQUAD: Beatrix (Black Mamba), Vernita (Copperhead), O-Ren (Cottonmouth), Elle (Californian Mountain Snake), and Budd (Sidewinder)

SPICE GIRLS: Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger, Posh

JACKSON 5: Michael, Jackie, Tito, Germaine, Marlon

PRIDE & PREJUDICE Bennett Daughters: Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, Kitty, Lydia

THESE LITTLE PIGGIES: went to market, stayed home, had roast beef, had none, went wee wee wee all the way home

INSIDE OUT movie: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger.

OCEAN: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism

5 STAGES of GRIEF (Kubler-Ross): denial, anger, bargaining, depression & acceptance

5-S’ WORKPLACE (Japanese): Seiri (make sure workplace is as clear as possible of extraneous items) Seiton (put all items necessary for the work in optimal places for smooth workflow) Seiso (sweep, clean, sharpen, inspect & maintain the workplace regularly) Seiketsu (establish procedures and schedules for maintaining the above processes) Shitsuke (‘do without being told’ foster an environment where everyone is trained, standards are maintained, issues and worker concerns are addressed)

RHETORIC, the 5 CANONS: invention, arrangement, style, memory, delivery

5 INVESTIGATIVE W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why

LASSWELL’S Who. Says what. In which channel. To whom. With what effect?: Communicator, Content, Media, Audience, Effect

DRAMATISTIC PENTAD: Act (what) Scene (where & when) Agent (who) Agency (how) Purpose (why)


Now, why am I so invested in making this list? Partly I’m trying to explore the numerological significance that plays out in the tarot cards. The major arcana cards are pretty easily grasped, they are big showy archetypes that tell you who they are, the Sun, the Moon, Strength, Temperance, the Last Judgement, the Devil, that kind of thing, but when you're looking at the minor arcana cards, things like the Four of Wands or the Ten of Swords, the meanings can seem really arbitrary and therefore difficult to memorize. However, there is a somewhat satisfying interior logic to them:

> Aces (ones) represent the purest expression of their suit and have the sense of beginning, inception.

> the Twos of any given suit represent forces held in balance, equipoise.

> Threes generally signify first steps forward, encouragement to begin one’s journeywork.

> Fours represent harmony and repose, the four legs of a stable foundation.

— let’s take a moment to notice how the even numbers are stable and harmonious while the odd numbers introduce a striving quality, a spark that pushes inexorably forward —

> Fives generally have a sense of imbalance and strife, discord.

And at this point the cards sort of just repeat the sequence again, only with the sense that the cycle is reaching a culminative phase: while 1 through 5 are youthful and pure, painted with colors fresh out of the box, the next five, numbers 6-10, are more refined, experienced, complex and decadent; in telling someone’s fortune they represent a point further along in the process, narrowing in on completion.

So, my main point here is that the numbers one through 5 represent a very basic, elemental geometry to our ‘beinghood’, not just on a psychic, archetype level, but even on a physical, bodily level: our concept of how numbers and math should work extends pretty perfectly from the number of fingers on a hand. And I think that in a way, five is where it all just gets too much for our most basic monkeybrains. Oneness is easy, each one of us is a one, most every word is singular until you go making it plural, and obviously our languages have been comfortable with twos for a very long time: we’ve got pairs, and couples, and duos and duets, double, duple, duplex, twice — here’s one I like: a brace (as in ‘of pistols’, or partridges) specifically meant two arms grasping each other, ‘bracchiae’ (like an embrace). Our wealth of words for threes and fours is maybe a bit less rich, but still ample: but we’ve got triples and trios and troikas and trifectas and triangles and trinities. Fours start to look a little derivative, but quadrupeds abound, quartets begin a pattern for subsequent groupings, squads and quadrilles both extend from the idea of a square, & where would we be without the tetragrammaton. By the time we’re at 5 we’re really beginning to just fall back on the concepts already introduced in the earlier groupings, quintets and quintuplets and such. The pentagon is the first of the fully built to order shapes, and from here on out it’s all hexagons and octagons and so forth.

I find the concept of the ‘Quintessence’ really curious, natural philosophers had decided on a nice stable foursome, a four-legged table to put all of existence on, the four classical elements: fire/ water/ earth/ air. But then they decide there must be another, some further mystery, and they introduce the Aether, or perhaps the Void, something beyond our grasp, and then alchemists go on and on for centuries trying to reduce matter in order to distill this most perfect quintessence. So yeah, that's why I’m collecting quintets and pentads, cuz I just want to see how natural or clumsy they feel, and I love that they sort of defy attempts to correlate them… like, any group of three sort of begs to be seen symbolically as Mother/ Father/ Child, or Father/ Son/ Holy Spirit, Adam/ Eve/ Serpent, Magenta/ Cyan/ Yellow… same with the Four Elements, but these fives are really pushing it somehow, kind of like how the ‘Quintessence’ seems disingenuous to me.

Here’s a quick musical digression: speaking personally, if I am dealing with a piece of music that is in a quintuple meter, where the beat comes in cycles of 5, I generally find myself counting it out as a compound. What I mean is, it’s easy to count a tune out that's in 4 beats, most music we listen to in this culture comes easily digestible as [1-2-3-4], but counting a tune out that's in five winds up being a combo of 2 and 3, say = [1-2/1-2-3] or as I was instructed to think about it from guys doing Turkish music, count it as a limping 2, essentially = [short/looong]. Capiche? I am suggesting that this indicates that we are perhaps biologically hardwired for 4 but only just barely for 5 or more… maybe thats cuz I’m a boring modern day Anglo American, but again, we can experience 4 dimensions… but are we ready for 5?

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