Decans and Decanates

topic posted Sun, May 23, 2010 - 4:49 AM by  Partha
The modern subdivisions of signs we know as Decan(ate)s, originate from the ancient Egyptian decan wheel. This wheel contained the 36 constellations that symbolized the passing of time, constituting the astronomical source of ancient Egyptian or Kemetic metaphysical, religious, political and agri-cultural rituals. They were thought to be the 'foundations' of reality as they mediated between the temporal mundane world and the divine: infinity.

During the Hellenistic era, several culturally distinct astrological tratitions were synthesized in a uniform abstract system to become the system we now know as tropical astrology. As with other systems, the decan wheel was conceptualized and projected upon the ecliptic, that follow the Sun's path along the zodiac.

Subdividing the signs into 3 equal abstract segments called decanates without considering the extra-zodiacal constellations naturally associated with them, would be very shortsighted as these are the are the vortices of the energy modulated through the tropical wheel.

It is said that the decanates are very much connected with spiritual evolution and the purpose of the soul in this incarnation. Although, the identify of the original decans are lost in time, many have attempted to reconstruct the Egyptian wheel. Although some placements are contentious, most of them seem to work when comparing them to practical experience through the signs

The constellations (decans) associated with the decanates should be viewed analogously to the relationship between sidereal zodiacal constellations and tropical signs. The tropical zodiac symbolizes the collective though-tform or Matrix we are living in, this wheel of samsara is a karmic distortion of the pure expression of energy emanating from the Sidereal constellations.

This series will involve investigating the extra-zodiacal mythology associated with each sign. Through becoming familiar with wide variety of mythological stories associated with each decanate through i's original extra-zodiacal source, slowly but surely an esoteric narrative will appear that could be a guide to accomplish left and right brain synchronization or intuition - the last and essential step in chart-interpretation. As a matter of fact, the decanates - perhaps because of their Egyptian origin - have always played a central part in Western Esotericism as multi-dimensional hubs that connect astrology with the qabbalistic Tree of Life and consequently the Tarot

The Egyptian Decans:

The Faces of the Decans:

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  • Fundamental Esoteric Astrology & the Decanates by Niklas Nihlen

    This letter will address matters fundamental to Esoteric Astrology. Therefore, it will focus on the ‘firm’-ament or Ground itself and those matters that truly sub-stand this the Greatest of Sciences. It will provide a Key to the nature and origin of the Decanates, which themselves open doors to heavenly mansions. It is understandable that the Tibetan considered the Decanates at length in His Treatise.
    In this day and age, no one really knows the source or derivation of the concept of decanates. Although they are part of ancient sources of Indian astrology etc., no one can explain how they were derived and in which way they were really used.

    I have come to the understanding that the decanates of a sign are focal points for extra-zodiacal influences. There are many constellations and stars other than those found in the zodiac--the apparent path of the Sun--yet, these extra-zodiacal influences have not been readily accounted for. They are fused and blended by the zodiacal constellations, and find their way through the signs where they are focussed in the decanates. It can be stated that they represent different aspects of the specific constellation with which they have affinity.

    As a possible analogy can be mentioned the chakras of a human being. These chakras located in the lower vehicles are inlets into the physical framework from different levels and vehicles of the specific human being in question. The constellations and signs also have inlets related to different levels or aspects. This is reflected in the decanates and the rulers. According to development and rays, so do the chakras and hence also the planets change their interrelation and governing energies. As human beings and their interior dynamics change, so do the chakras (and thereby a human beings responsiveness to the different decanates). This makes quite explicit the relation of the decanates and the Science of Triangles.

    Now, in order to make more clear the place the decanates have in the scheme of things, let me give you two fundamental quotes of relevance here.
    EA p. 621-22:

    "In the understanding of the significance of the distinction between constellations as galaxies of stars, and signs as concentrated influences will come fresh light upon the science of astrology. This is fundamentally connected with the difference between the relation of a ray energy to the triangle of constellations and the human relation. More I may not say but this will give a hint to the intuitive astrologer."

    To this can be added the following from EA p. 28-29:

    1. Those coming from certain great constellations which are to be found active in relation to our solar system and which, from the most ancient days, have always been related in myth and legend to our system. To these constellations, ours is related in a peculiar way.

    2. Those coming from the twelve zodiacal constellations. These are recognised as having a definite effect upon our system and our planetary life.

    3. Those coming from the planets found within the periphery of the Sun's sphere of influence.

    From a certain point of view, one can generalise largely and say that these are the correspondences in the solar system to the three great centres of force which produce and control manifestation and evolutionary progress in the human being:

    1. The great exterior, yet controlling, constellations are analogous to that centre of force which we call the Monad and to its universal will-to-power which is distinctive of the first divine aspect.

    2. The twelve constellations might be regarded as embodying the soul aspect and, for the present, their effect upon the individual must be regarded and should be studied in terms of consciousness and of the development of the life of the soul. This is in essence the will-to-love.

    3. The planets, twelve in number (seven sacred planets and five non-sacred), are effective (using the word in a technical sense) in relation to the external life, environment and circumstances of the individual. Their force contacts should be interpreted largely in terms of the human personality, the third divine aspect. They thus exemplify the will-to-know."

    I will suggest distinctions between the major fundamental sidereal constellations, the minor sidereal constellations, the signs and the decanates. Let me try to make this clear to you. The following relations should be viewed according to the hourglass or diamond formations as suggested in the chapter on Cosmic Energies and Transformation (around page 609 in E.A):





    So, the true basis of the decanates is found in the extra-zodiacal constellations, which minor/subsidiary constellations stand to the major constellations, as the decanates stand to the tropical signs.

    The planetary rulers of the decanates, can actually be considered as being the rulers of the minor constellations. The planetary rulers of the decanates on the Wheel of Form (clockwise) are the exoteric rulers of the respective constellations. The planetary rulers of the decanates on the Wheel of Consciousness (anti-clockwise) are the esoteric rulers of the respective constellations.

    Below you will find a list that relate the Decanates, the Constellations and the Planetary Rulers. Some editing and amplifications have been made to the information given on the planetary rulers by the Tibetan. However, there may still be some ambiguities and even erroneous assignments, but I believe most to be in line with good reasoning and Ancient Astrology, as it was anchored by the Hierarchy in old Atlantean days.
    • The Decanates, Decans and rulers

      Sun, May 23, 2010 - 4:58 AM
      The Decanates, with the related Constellations and Planetary Rulers

      1. ARI 00 - 10: (Cetus--The Whale) Jupiter and Venus <<--->> Mars
      2. ARI 10 - 20: (Cassiopeia--The Queen and Triangulum--The Triangle) Sun <<--->> Sun
      3. ARI 20 - 30: (Perseus--The Champion) Mars <<--->> Jupiter
      4. TAU 00 - 10: (Eridanus--The River) Moon and Venus <<--->> Saturn
      5. TAU 10 - 20: (Auriga--The Charioteer) Mercury <<--->> Moon (Venus)
      6. TAU 20 - 30: (Orion--The Hunter and Buddha/Christ) Saturn <<--->> Mercury
      7. GEM 00 - 10: (Lepus--The Hare AKA an Unclean Bird standing on Serpent) Jupiter <<--->> Mercury
      8. GEM 10 - 20: (Canis Minor--The Second Dog AKA Sebak--Hawk’s Head and Tail ...Procyon/Castor) Mars <<--->> Venus
      9. GEM 20 - 30: (Canis Major--The Dog AKA Apes--Head of Cosmic Christ/Hawk ...Sirius/Pollux) Sun <<--->> Saturn
      10. CAN 00 - 10: (Argo--The Ship or Arc AKA Shes-en-Fent--The Great Ox Enclosed) Venus <<--->> Moon
      11. CAN 10 - 20: (Ursa Minor--The Lesser Bear AKA Lesser Sheepfold) Mercury <<--->> Mars
      12. CAN 20 - 30: (Ursa Major--The Great Bear AKA Greater Sheepfold) Moon <<--->> Jupiter
      13. LEO 00 - 10: (Corvus--The Crow) Mars <<--->> Saturn
      14. LEO 10 - 20: (Hydra--The Sea Serpent/Leo Minor) Sun <<--->> Jupiter
      15. LEO 20 - 30: (Crater--The Cup or Chalice) Jupiter <<--->> Mars
      16. VIR 00 - 10: (Centaur) Mercury <<--->> Sun
      17. VIR 10 - 20: (Boötes--The Bear Guard) Saturn <<--->> Venus
      18. VIR 20 - 30: (Coma Berenice--The Desired or Longed for AKA Shes-nu--Infant Horus in the lap of Isis i.e., Birthed Christ Child nourished by Virgin Mother) Venus <<--->> Mercury
      19. LIB 00 - 10: (Crux--The Southern Cross) Jupiter <<--->> Moon
      20. LIB 10 - 20: (Lupus--The Wolf/Victim/Sacrifice) Saturn <<--->> Saturn
      21. LIB 20 - 30: (Corona Borealis--The Northern Crown related to Corona Australis--The Southern Crown) Mercury <<--->> Jupiter
      22. SCO 00 - 10: (Serpens--The Serpent) Mars and Pluto <<--->> Mars
      23. SCO 10 - 20: (Ophiuchus--The Serpent Bearer) Jupiter and Chiron <<--->> Sun
      24. SCO 20 - 30: (Hercules--The Kneeling Hero) Sun hiding Mercury, Vulcan, Pluto <<--->> Mercury, Venus?
      25. SAG 00 - 10: (Lyra--The Lyre or Falling Grype) Jupiter <<--->> Mercury
      26. SAG 10 - 20: (Ara--The Altar) Mars <<--->> Moon
      27. SAG 20 - 30: (Draco--The Dragon and Corona Australis--The Southern Crown) Sun <<--->> Sun
      28. CAP 00 - 10: (Sagitta--The Arrow and possibly Cygnus--The Swan) Saturn and Jupiter <<--->> Saturn
      29. CAP 10 - 20: (Delphinus--The Dolphin/Pirate/Fish and stream of water/free flowing Water pouring out of Urn) Venus <<--->> Venus
      30. CAP 20 - 30: (Aquila--the Eagle) Sun (Vulcan?) <<--->> Sun (Mercury)
      31. AQU 00 - 10: (Cygnus--The Swan) Saturn <<--->> Venus
      32. AQU 10 - 20: (Pegasus--The Winged Horse and Equuleus--The Colt) Mercury <<--->> Mercury
      33. AQU 20 - 30: (Pisces Austrinus--The Southern Fish/Avatar) Venus <<--->> Moon (Uranus)
      34. PIS 00 - 10: (The Band--The Bond/Antahkarana/Sutratma) Jupiter <<--->> Saturn
      35. PIS 10 - 20: (Andromeda--The Chained Woman, Fornax--The Furnace) Moon, Vulcan, Mercury and Sun <<--->> Jupiter
      36. PIS 20 - 30: (Cepheus--The King) Mars <<--->> Mars
      • First Decan of Gemini: LEPUS - the hare

        Sun, May 23, 2010 - 5:04 AM
        First Decan of Gemini

        Character traits: Mastership, activities on the mental plane, deduction after assimilation.

        Constellation: LEPUS, Arnebeth, the enemy of Him that cometh.

        The first decan is the Hare (Lepus). It is shown under the foot of Orion, as if being crushed even as the various other dragons, serpents, and scorpions. Thus, it is identified with evil and with the enemy. The Persians showed it as a serpent, and the Egyptians showed Orion (Osiris) standing on a serpent with a bird on the serpent's back. But to the Greeks, this was the Hare which the Hunter is pursuing. The Christian interpreters identify it only with "the wicked" who will be destroyed at the Second Coming, but to me the meaning is much more precise.

        "Why was a hare chosen as the enemy? That doesn't sound very ferocious, like a dragon or venomous serpent. Was is not because of the promiscuity of that animal? The Book of Revelation makes it clear that there are two distinct enemies in the last days. One is the great harlot "Babylon" who controls the kings by riding on the back of the beast, the other enemy (Rev. 17:3-6). The beast seems to represent the governments of the wicked (enslaving) nations, whereas the harlot is probably the secret combinations of those behind the scenes who control many nations.

        The kings hate to be controlled, knowing they are merely being used by the harlot, so they hate her and eventually kill her (Rev. 17:16). Thus, whereas the Hero and the other dragon-slayers seem to focus more on killing the beast, the Hunter is focused on slaying the controlling force behind it. I believe the Hare to be the original figure, but the Egyptians and Persians, understanding the meaning, replaced it with the serpent, or better, with another animal riding the back of the serpent."

        Lepus, the Hare, associated with these two constellations, contains a star of the most intense crimson color, almost like a drop of blood. Red is ever the symbol of desire for material things. In the zodiac of Denderah, the name given is Bashtibeki, which means "falling confounded". Aratus, writing about 250 B.C., speaks of Lepus as being "chased eternally", and it is interesting to note that the Hebrew names of some of the stars found in this constellation signify "the enemy of the Coming One", which is the meaning of the name of the brightest star, Arneb; whilst three other stars have names meaning "the mad", "the bound", "the deceiver". All these words are characteristics of the lower self chased eternally by the higher self; the human soul pursued by the Hound of Heaven.

        More on Lepus:

        Ancient Star Names:

        Egyptian: Bashti-Beki here figured as the hoopoe, an unclean bird, standing over the serpent under the foot of Orion.
        Bashti-beki, confounded, failing. Bashti, confounded Beki, failing
        Hebrew: Arnebo, the enemy of him that cometh
        — Nibal, the mad
        — Rakis, the bound (Arab., with a chain)
        — Sugia, the deceiver
        Arabian: , Arnebeth, the hare, enemy of what cometh
        Latin Lepus, the hare, treading under foot


        Kabbalastic/Tarot analogies:

        Eight of Swords - Interference
        Tree of Life: Hod through Air
        Astrology: Jupiter in the 1. decan of Gemini

        With the Eight of Swords, the suit enters Hod, the realm of intellect and logic, and one should think how happy the Swords must be now that they are 'amongst fellows'. But Hod is more the structure of mind, while the Swords are the freedom of mind - conflicts are pre-programmed.

        Further, the Eight of Swords reveal the nature of the suit regarding its tendency of analysing and considering everything, digging out a counter-argument for any argument there is, quickly recognizing any limitation and conclusion that in the end means the interference in the own reasoning. Only blessing stupidity can be selfsecure enough to believe that the own thought is the only truth - the Swords cannot.

        In another aspect, the Eight of Swords can talk of the restlessness of mind, of thoughts bursting out uncontrolled and unproductive, of nervous brooding and confused rumination.

        Drive: Restlessness of mind, endless analyzing
        Light: Realization of causality, acception of limitation and relativity
        Shadow: Confusion, aimless pondering, compulsive brooding

        Picatrix: A beautiful woman, a mistress of sewing; and with her ascends two calves and two horses. And this is a face of the art of the scribe, of reckoning, of number, of giving and receiving [i.e., trade], and of the sciences.
        Agrippa: A man in whose hand is a rod, and he is, as it were, serving another; it granteth wisdom, and the knowledge of numbers and arts in which there is no profit.
        • Z
          offline 86

          Re: DECANS

          Mon, May 24, 2010 - 2:55 PM
          I believe there are nearbye Signs associated with the Zodiacal Signs - very interesting topic, not that much familiar with them in general except a few.
          • Re: DECANS

            Thu, May 27, 2010 - 12:14 PM
            You pointed me in this direction Z, with calling the 48 constellations: decans on the thread about Astrology and the Bible in the Mazdayasna tribe. It is believed that the identity of the 36 Decans, once the ruling Gods of the Egyptian Heavens, would be lost in time were it not for Persian astrologers and in particular Albumazzar who reintroduced them to Western culture.

            Unfortunatly, this seminal work has never be translated, but here is A latin translation of his re-integration of the 36 Decan constellation as the decanates:

            A short biography and listing of his works, which further illustrates the unimaginable importance of this sage:

            An article about Harran, his native city, a place that has been the main hub of religious and spiritual syncretism, since the destruction of Alexandria:

            An article about the Sabeans, the mysterious sect of star-worshippers he belonged to:

            Maybe there is a connection to the Magi?
            • Z
              offline 86

              Re: DECANS

              Thu, May 27, 2010 - 3:27 PM
              Maybe there is a deep connection to the Magi, from what I understand they would go to certian places (like appearing in Jerusalem) to teach or learn about this kind of topics them being important to them, at least some sects. The 1st place I learned about the 12 Constellations having 3 Decans each was from a book by Capt.
              • Re: DECANS

                Fri, June 4, 2010 - 2:54 AM
                I think you're right. ancient Persia has always been a rich source of esoteric lore, yet as its political and cultural power expanded, became a place of cultural exchange, like the Hellenestic and Roman empires were.
      • Second Decan of Gemini: Sirius, The Prince

        Fri, June 4, 2010 - 2:51 AM
        Second Decan of Gemini
        Character traits: Fidelity, the espousal of progressive causes.

        Constellation: SIRIUS, the prince.

        The three constellations to be found in connection with the sign are Lepus, the Hare, Canis Major and Canis Minor, and in their interrelation and in their association with Hercules, the aspirant, the whole story of the human being is again most strikingly portrayed. In Canis Major we find Sirius, the Dog Star, called in many old books "the leader of the entire heavenly host", for it is ten or twelve times brighter than any other star of the first magnitude. Sirius has always been associated with great heat, hence we have the phrase of "the dog days" in the middle of the summer, when the heat is supposed to be greatest. From the standpoint of the occultist, Sirius is of profound significance. "Our God is a consuming fire", and Sirius is the symbol of the universal soul as well as of the individual soul. It is therefore, esoterically considered, the star of initiation. In the language of symbology we are told, there comes a moment when a star blazes forth before the initiate, signifying his realization of his identity with the universal soul, and this he suddenly glimpses through the medium of his own soul, his own star.

        Canis Major is the immortal Hound of Heaven, that chases forever the lesser Dog, the underdog, the man in physical incarnation. This chase has been immortalised for us by Francis Thompson in The Hound of Heaven.

        "I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
        I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
        I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
        Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
        I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
        Up vistaed hopes I sped;
        And shot, precipitated,
        Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
        From those strong feet that followed, followed after."

        In the zodiac of Denderah, this star is called Apes, the head. We are told (in the appendix, p. 1518, of the Companion Bible) that the brightest star in Canis Major is Sirius, the Prince, called in Persian, the Chieftain. There are three other stars in the same constellation: one is called "the announcer", another the "shining one," and the third, "the glorious", all of them phrases emphasizing the magnificence of Canis Major and, esoterically, the wonder and the glory of the higher self.

        More on Sirius:

        Ancient Star Names:

        (Called the DOG, or wolf)
        Heb., a Sirius, the prince
        — Aschere, who shall come
        Arab., Al Shira Al Jemeniya, the prince, or chief of the right hand
        Egyptian name, Seir, the prince Heb., Abur, the mighty
        Al Habor, the mighty Isa 1:24
        — e Adhara, the glorious (Al Adra, Aludra.)
        — b Mirzam, the prince or ruler
        — Muliphen, the leader, the chief duke
        — d Wesen, the bright, shining scarlet

        SIRIUS, The prince, figured by the hawk,* enemy of the serpent, the Egyptian substitute for the eagle Nesir; called in the Greek sphere the first or great dog, but anciently the wolf, whose name b)z, this cometh, denoted the coming to reign. On his head is the pestle and mortar, denoting who shall bruise the head of the enemy.
        Swiftly coming down
        Victory, or a vulture. (B.)
        Eagle, coming down,

        APES Apes, the head. (B.) Apes, the face or head, commanding


        Nine of Swords - Cruelty
        Tree of Life: Yesod through Air
        Astrology: Mars in the 2. decan of Gemini

        The Nine of Swords are entering Yesod, the fields of reflection and imagination, and while all other Suits made themself comfortable in blessing happiness, the Swords seem to be the outcast, called 'Cruelty'.

        With the airy nature of the mind, the Swords cannot rest, they cannot stop thinking and analyzing - and in the end, cannot ignore the fact that nothing really leads anywhere, that in the end there is nothing.
        (Take the technology of our century as one little example: the Wands praise the spirit of mankind, the Cups dream of all the goods that could be done, the Disks enjoy the riches it produces - the Swords analyse the effects and come to the conclusion that our planet gets destroyed.)

        Therefore, it is a bit unfair to call the Nine of Swords a bad card, or criticise it for cruelty or 'over-analysing'. After all, we cannot expect the suit of the mind to tell us that we're better off with our heads in the sand, just to not see the cruel truth that is out there.

        Drive: Going into the depths of a subject, with all consequences
        Light: Facing up facts, realising truth
        Shadow: Cruelty, pain, despair, lack of pity

        Picatrix: A man whose face is like an eagle and his head is covered with a linen cloth; he is garbed and protected in a leaden cuirass, and on his head an iron helmet upon which is a silken wreath; and he is holding in his hand a bow and arrows. And this is a face of burden and also of evils and of subtlety.

        Agrippa: A man in whose hand is a pipe, and another being bowed down, digging the earth; and they signify infamous and dishonest agility, as that of jesters and jugglers; it also signifies labours and painful searchings.

      • Third Decan of Gemini:PROCYON, THE DELIVERER

        Sun, June 13, 2010 - 8:48 AM
        Third Decan of Gemini:
        Character traits: Reason, the power of the objective mind.

        Constellation: PROCYON, the deliverer from evil.

        As we look at the starry heavens at night and locate Sirius, the Dog Star, the story of our past, present and future is dramatically pictured. We have the story of our past in Lepus, the Hare, fleet of foot, deceived, mad, bound to the wheel of life, identified with the matter aspect, and ever the enemy of "The Coming Prince". In Canis Minor, we have the story of the aspirant, of our present lot. Dwelling within us is the inner ruler, the hidden divinity, the redeemer. We go forth conquering and to conquer, but we have to do it as the burdened disciple, bearing for others and serving.

        In Canis Major we have portrayed our future and a consummation, glorious beyond all present realization. Were all religions and all scriptures of the world to be lost, and were there nothing left to us except the starry heavens, the story of the zodiac and the significance of the names of the various stars found in the different constellations, we should be able to retrace the history of man, recover the knowledge of our goal and learn the mode of its achievement.

        The third decan is the Little Dog (Canis Minor). Whereas there is no question that the Big Dog belongs to the Hunter and is pursuing the Hare, the mythology of the Little Dog is less clear. Some say it is another dog of the Hunter, whereas others provide a separate myth for it. In our context, however, both the Big and Little Dog are to explain more about who the Twins are. Are not the Big and Little Dog the same as the two Twins, indicating that one twin is the Little Dog who represents the Savior at the First Coming (in meekness), whereas the Big Dog (a brilliant constellation) is the Savior at the Second Coming, when he comes in power to destroy the enemy? The two dogs correlate well to the two twins.

        Third Decan

        (Called the SECOND DOG) PROCYON, The Redeemer
        Heb., a Procyon, the Redeemer redeemed
        Arab., Al Shira, Al Shemeliya, the prince, or chief
        of the left hand
        — Al Mirzam, the prince or ruler
        — Al Gomeyra, who completes, perfects
        — b Al Gomeisa, the burthened, loaded, bearing for others

        PROCYON, the deliverer from evil

        SEBAK The lesser dog or wolf, representing the first coming to redeem, by a human figure with the hawk's head, and the appendage of the tail
        Sebak, conquering, victorious. (B.)
        Shebah, making captive, Heb.

        Ten of Swords - Ruin
        Tree of Life: Malkuth through Air
        Astrology: Sun in the 3. decan of Gemini

        With the Ten of Swords, the development of human intellect has consequently reached its last step - from the birth of intellect within the Ace to complete ruin within the grounds of the Ten.

        The card teaches the lesson that endless fighting ends with destruction, endless analysis with the copmplete loss of hope and belief. It forces the lesson of the Nine of Swords to its inevitable conclusion. But with the Sun above it, it does not lack every hope. It will silently return to its origin again, to the first spark of mind in the Ace, to start all over again. The big hope in here is that the lessons from the journey absolved won't get forgotten.

        By the way, every Ten in the Minor Arcana stands for the end of a process, for the need to restart or at least variate, only the Ten of Swords have an amazingly crude way to put it into words - that's just the way they are.

        Drive: Transformation

        Light: Rebirth, realization, the end of a cycle, wisdom through pain and loss

        Shadow: Ruin, loss, destruction, separation, pain, catastrophe

        Picatrix: A man garbed with a cuirass holding a bow and arrows, and a quiver. And this is a face of boldness, honesty, and the division and alleviations of labor.

        Agrippa: A man seeking for arms, and a fool holding in the right hand a bird, and in his left a pipe; and they are the significations of forgetfulness, wrath, boldness, jests, scurrilities, and unprofitable words.

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