In many magical traditions, practitioners use “correspondences” to create symbolic magical links. Knowing the correspondence between a stone, crystal, herb, or other magical tool is said to be helpful in amplifying the effects or your magick. For example, you might use a color correspondences to help choose the colors of your candles, clothing or altar decorations to amplify the power of a ritual or spell.
For some, the effectiveness of a correspondence is that there are metaphysical signatures that connect certain things together. Others believe that things are a repository of different “types” or intensities of energy. I tend to believe that correspondences are most useful as visual triggers to help reinforce a belief in an ideal or goal.
Today there is a plethora of correspondence tables available in books and on the internet. Some of these tables may have ancient origin, but a lot are patch-worked together by the author from a variety of sources which are often not always cited.
Some of these correspondences are easy to see because of some intrinsic quality the item has. For example, some herbs have been used for thousands of years, both medicinally and ritually, which gives them a unique characteristic. Some correspondences are tied to a specific culture or mythology such as the Celtic tree months. Others may be based on practices from magickal traditions. Sicilian philosopher Empedocles was the first to propose the four basic elements, fire, earth, air, and water into Greek philosophy. Aristotle added a fifth element, aether, as a heavenly substance. The Chinese had a somewhat different series of elements, namely Fire, Earth, Metal (literally gold), Water and Wood. Rather than the Western notion of kinds of material, these were understood as different types of energy in a state of constant interaction and flux with one another.
Color is another characteristic that is very relative to a culture. For example, below are some common associations for the color RED that I found for other cultures (http://color-wheel-artist.com/meanings-of-red.htm):
- In Russia, Red symbolizes Communism and revolution.
- In China, brides wear Red and it is considered a Good Luck color.
- To most Asians, Red means happiness and prosperity.
- In India, Red is a symbol of life-giving purity.
- In the Middle East, the color symbolism of Red is Danger and Evil.
- In Greece, Red is considered a dominant male color.
- In Japan, Red is considered a life-giving color associated with female reproduction.
- In Christianity, Red combined with Green is associated with Christmas.
- To some Native Americans especially the Cherokee, Red symbolizes the East and Sacred Fire.
- In South Africa, Red is the color of mourning.
- In Amsterdam, Red sells sex in the Red Light district, a legalized zone of prostitution
Whenever you use a correspondence chart made by another person, you should question how it was derived and whether it is appropriate for you. Does it reflect your beliefs? Does it make sense to you? Does it mirror how you see the world? Clearly, it is important to look to your own cultural upbringing as well as your own experiences before taking a correspondence table recommendations to heart.
I tend to believe the most effective correspondence charts are the ones that you build yourself and reflect your feelings and understanding. When you think of GREEN, what things to you think of? When you see QUARTZ, what do you think of? When you look to the EASTern sky, what do you think of? Each of these could, and often are, different for each individual.
I am skeptical of using correspondences of which you have little understanding or feeling. Most Pagans find that it is our subconscious, more than the conscious, which is the primary source of our magickal thinking. Memorizing number or gem correspondences feeds the conscious. Recognizing the feelings that a color or smell elicits in you feeds your subconscious. For example, if you want to build a correspondence chart, write down some colors, plants, animals, gems, etc. and spend some time thinking about them. Evaluate them from all senses if possible.
I also think there is too much commodification and cultural appropriation of gems and other items used as correspondences. People are spending way too much money for “magickal” items on the suggestion of vendors that claim pseudoscience benefit. Others misappropriate a culture’s magickal correspondences with little understanding of the culture, mythology and philosophy behind it.
You do not need to go to a metaphysical store or fair to find effective correspondences. I would assert that the most effective and powerful ones are probably around your house now. Most of us already have a lot of meaningful objects that we have collected, so consider including them in your magickal workings. You can also step outside into your yard and find a sticks, leaves, rocks, feathers and many other objects that can be incorporated into your magickal work. Look at gifts that have been given such as cards or crafts created for you by children. Consider making something, even if you are not a skilled craft person. Whatever the look of the result, the very act of making something yourself infuses it with more personal energy than anything you could buy off a shelf.
I also believe that you should write these correspondences and not print them from a website or copy them from a book. The act of writing helps speak to the subconscious more than reading it on a screen.
Correspondences can be useful in magickal working, but just as it is in all magick, it is important that you personalize it. Pagan magick is about shaping your reality by tapping into the power and energy within yourself.