Updated: Jul 30
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...
5 CLASSICAL CHINESE ELEMENTS:
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
MPAA MOVIE RATINGS: G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17
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?