Las Doce Verdades del Mundo, Part II

Continued from Part I

-The Truths-

Although I previously list the Truths in ascending order (citing Trotter and Chavira), I have chosen to list individual explorations of each of the truths in descending order, both out of honor to the way I was taught, and personal preference. For me, understanding the meaning behind the truths and having visuals to go along with each truth as it is said increases the power of the prayer, and if done for a cleansing, the effectiveness of the limpia. I will not claim to be definitive, rather, this entry in all its parts is an exploration of a prayer I have come to love, and will remain that - an open exploration. Some truths are more easily recognizable due to their origin stories in Scripture, others take some knowledge of Roman Catholicism, and sometimes specifically of that practiced in Spain. So, here we go.... 


las doce apóstoles que acompanaron a nuestro Señor en la cruz
the twelve apostles that accompanied our Lord on the cross

The Last Supper, in the traditional New Mexican retablo form, from the website of Charles Carillo

The Twelve Apostles, the original disciples of Christ, are invoked as the twelfth truth. The Castillian version reads:

La doce son los doce Apóstoles que acompañaron a Jesucristo desde su predicación, hasta su muerte de Cruz en el calvario.

The twelve are twelve Apostles that accompanied Jesus Christ from his preaching until his death on the Cross at Calvary.

The original twelve apostles are traditionally listed as:
+ Simon, who was called Peter +
+Andrew, brother of Peter+
+James, son of Zebedee+
+John, James' brother, the Beloved+
+James, son of Alphaeus+
+Judas Thaddeus, brother (or son) of James+
+Simon Kananaios, who was called the Zealot+
+Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus+
These were the primary male members of Jesus' fledgling church. It is through them that the gospel tradition and the Church take authority. While women also played an important role in Jesus' ministry, I will leave this beyond the scope of this particular entry (apologies to the Magdalena).

The apostles are listed in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, in a list. In the Gospel of John, we do find mention of "the twelve", but never in a list - and there is a Nathanael, often conflated with Bartholomew. 

After Judas Iscariot's betrayal and suicide, a hole was created. Acts 1:15-26 clearly offers Matthias as the replacement for Judas through nomination and the casting of lots (not Paul as is often stated). The Castillian version clearly references the apostles who accompanied Jesus until his death, which was also a requirement for Matthias' nomination. So it really is uncertain as to which Apostle we include, Judas Iscariot or Matthias. More on this in a bit though... 

That there are twelve should not be ignored, as we have instant reference to the twelve tribes of Israel (excluding Levi), and by extension, to the twelve zodiacal constellations, the twelve jewels on the breastplate of the High Priest of the Temple, the twelve Foundation Stones of the Wall of the City of God.

Levi, the Thirteenth Tribe has a special place - in that it is the priestly class, and is awarded the Center of the Four Camps, guarding the Tabernacle, in Numbers 2. This parallel to Jesus should be noted - Jesus is the the new Covenant, gathering his twelve disciples around him as the twelve tribes gathered around the Ark.

The tribes are named for their patriarchs, the twelve sons of Jacob, also called Israel. There is a given association between the apostles with the tribes in Matthew 19:28:

Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Mather's Twelve Tribes
with zodiacal correspondences,
commencing with Leo.
Halevi's Twelve Tribes
with zodiacal correspondences,
commencing with Aries.
There are a great many debates about these associations, and none are 'definitive' as none are canonical.  It is, perhaps, modern occultists that have sought these associations in a more definitive (and publicly available) manner, like those listed by MacGregor Mathers and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Mathers, as pointed out by David Godwin, sought to arrange the tribes by placing the Four Camps mentioned in Numbers 2 in correspondence with the four fixed signs of the Zodiac, not the cardinal. This makes Judah affiliated with Leo, the fixed fire sign in the East, as opposed to Aries, which is cardinal.

Other modern writers have sought to keep the same order of the tribes from Numbers 2, but assigning Judah to Aries and take the order sequentially forward in this manner, such as Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi's list from Kaballah and Exodus.

There appears to be no universally accepted correspondence between the Apostles, Tribes, and the Zodiac, but many speculations. Different schools (rabbinical, esoteric Christian and modern occult) all have differing opinions on this. For our purposes, it is most worth just noting that the correspondences are possible and to illustrate a few that are commonly encountered.
Skinner's correspondences between
Zodiac and the Twelve Apostles, from
The Complete Magician's Tables.
The order presented by Stephen Skinner in his The Complete Magician's Tables lists the Apostles in a pseudo-canonical order and the zodiacal correspondences are then matched. Crowley's 777 preserves the Evangelists as associated with fixed signs, but the other apostles "...are too indefinite." 

In fact, it is David Godwin in his Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia, unfortunately with un-cited reasons or sources, that we do find correspondences between Apostle, Tribe and Zodiac sign, under each entry for the Zodiac (along with many other useful correspondences such as the Angel and Archangel of each sign). I will cite here those I have found most applicable with regards to a pragmatic curanderismo frame: Tribe, Apostle, Zodiac sign, Scent, Color. 

Zodiacal correspondences with Apostle, Tribe of Israel, Scent and Color
from Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia.

What is difficult for me in this specific arrangement is the loss of the Evangelists with their traditional zodiacal associations, but I'll explore that more when we get to the Fourth Truth.

There is also some basis to separate the role of the Evangelists from their roles as disciples/apostles. The Bad Teinach Altarpiece, as described by Adam McLean, gives an example of this, showing the symbols of the evangelists as separate from the Twelve figures that surround Christ that at once represent the zodiac, apostles, and the Tribes. I do like the linking of woods to these twelve, which is found uniquely in this altarpiece. Although the woods are not specifically attached in McLean's article, and I do not read German (and so cannot read Ernst Harnischfeger's Mystic im Barock : Das Weltbild der Teinacher Lehrtafel for more information), the woods listed are: Laurel, Cypress, Willow, Fig, Cedar, Fir, Olive, Apple, Pomegranate, Almond, Palm, Oak. I see much application in woods associated with the Twelve as well, in limpias, cleaning with these woods, on corresponding feast days if possible, all in time, born from further investigation, and application. Onward and upwards!

There is a figural cause to compare zodiac and the apostles when we place Jesus as the Sun itself, the physical expression of Divine Light, born at Winter Solstice, who must pass through the mazzaroth, or signs of the zodiac, twelve stations that give quality to the passage of the Sun through the year. 

There are more contemporary listings of Apostles with Zodiac signs based on their personalities as given in Scripture and compared to the interpretations in modern astrology, as illustrated by Tiara Starr:
  • Aries is associated with Simon Peter, the first Pope, rash, stubborn and natural leaders
  • Taurus is associated with Simon, often associated with wealth and possessions
  • Gemini is associated with James, eloquent and multiple identifications
  • Cancer is associated with Andrew, with his strong loyalty and concern for others
  • Leo is associated with John, the Beloved, prolific and a natural leader, strong in conviction
  • Virgo is associated with Philip, the thinker, analytical and enquiring
  • Libra is associated with Bartholomew/Nathanael, persuasive, blunt and at times overbearing
  • Scorpio is associated with Thomas, doubtful and suspicious but steadfast and loyal once convinced
  • Sagittarius is associated with James, the first martyr of the Twelve, a leader through faith and loyalty
  • Capricorn is associated with Matthew, respectful of authority, tradition, and hardworking
  • Aquarius is associated with Thaddeus, questioning and curious
  • Pisces is associated with Judas Iscariot, shy, withdrawn, and ultimately overwhelmed
It should be noted that my summary of Tiara Starr's associations are indeed summaries and are not meant to be summaries of the signs themselves. Again, I am left wanting as the orthodox associations of the Evangelists with the fixed signs is so strong for me. But I'm stubborn and rash. A Peter. I mean Aries. There is a need for a greater context here, that I think associations like Tiara Starr's and Skinner's and the like are exploring. Twelve is not four. Never can be.

Ultimately, what the twelfth truth exposes is a context; it shows the expanse of the ministry of the Word Incarnate, that we are not alone. It places our own paths in a context, and describes the journey of the soul itself. We have friends in those of like-mind and like-faith, and although the seeds of deception are always there (Judas is an Apostle, after all), when we approach life through this greater context we see the growth and potential in every tragedy. It is through the fires of rectification that the subtle is separated from the gross; it is through assuming our place that we find community. I will never be able to control what happens to me in life, but I can control my reaction. Accept our reality, and act accordingly. There is power in what we see in front of us, just as the Apostles saw and knew the Christ.  We must know what we are looking at to recognize it - and here, we find the same emphasis - perspective. This is the assumption of true power to me, and an exemplary lesson I find in this truth.

Further Resources for the Apostles, Twelve Tribes and Astrology:


St. Ursula protecting the
11,000 Virgins with her Cloak,
by The Master of the Legend
of Saint Barbara, c. late 15th century

las once mil vírgenes
the eleven thousand virgins

The Eleventh Truth, the eleven thousand virgins, references the 'Golden Legend' of Saint Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins. The fuller version of the same line is: 

'La once son las once mil vírgenes que asisten al trono de la Beatísima Trinidad.'
The eleven are the eleven thousand virgins that attend the throne of the Most Blessed Trinity. 

Saint Ursula lived in either the 3rd or 4th century (although some say the 5th or the 7th), the daughter of the Romano-British King Dionitus of southwest Britain. She set sail with 11,000 handmaidens to visit her husband-to-be in Armorica, a province in nearby Gaul. A great storm carried her boat (assuming more than one with 11,000 handmaidens) to the port of Armorica in one night. She decided before marriage she would undergo a pilgrimage that would take her around all of Europe. Upon reaching Rome, she persuaded a Pope Cyriacus and a prominent bishop to join her and her handmaidens in their journey. (Strangely, there is no Pope Cyriacus, so we can assume that this is a local variant or misinterpretation of a particular Pontiff's papal name - it derives from the Greek "of the Lord".) In a cruel twist of fate Ursula and her companions, upon reaching Cologne, found the Huns attacking the city. Saint Ursula was fatally shot with an arrow, and her 11,000 handmaidens were summarily beheaded (by axe according to British tradition), all dying as virgin martyrs.

Versions of her story are both prolific and varied. The definitive source is the inscription found in the choir of the Church of St. Ursula in Cologne, which reads:


This text is vague, and although it is felt the first part of the inscription (the first eight lines up to 'RESTITVIT') is from the fifth century, the latter section appears to be from the ninth. It speaks of no specific number of virgins nor of the time of their demise, but that Clematis received visions of traveling to that spot and building a church to the martyred virgins. In subsequent accounts, the virgins number as few as two and as many as 11,000. 

What is certain is that there was a tradition of virgin martyrs in Cologne by the 5th century. The most popular account is given by James of Voragine as related in his 'Golden Legend', and his 13th century retelling of the story repeats the assertion first found in the 9th century that there were 11,000 virgins. Some have proposed that it is because of a misreading of the name 'Undecimillia' or 'Ximillia' as the numeral 11,000. Or an abbreviated XI. M. V. interpreted as 'Eleven Thousand Virgins' when it could be 'Eleven Martyred Virgins.' One ninth century account describes the discovery of the relics of young virgin martyrs, one of whom were 11 years old (undecimilia), misinterpreted in subsequent relations as undicimila, i.e. 11,000. Another proposal is the confusion of cum militibus ("with soldiers") with cum millibus ("with thousands"). James of Voragine seems to unify all the accounts by giving Ursula ten companions, and each of them, Ursula included, had one thousand handmaidens in attendance.

In the twelfth century, numerous remains were found at Cologne and were cut up and distributed across Europe as relics, believed to be the remains of the holy 11,000. Later investigation shows that some were the remains of men and boys, and it is felt that it may have been a forgotten burial ground. 

A modern theory purports that Ursula is a memory or masque of the Teutonic goddess Freyja, who under the name Horsel (note the similarity with Ursula), welcomed the souls of dead maidens. Ursula itself means 'little she-bear.'

So despite popular acclaim, it is because of these considerations and discrepancies that Saint Ursula and the 11,000 have received a marked lack of support by latter hagiographers and church officials (including removal from the official calendar at Vatican II), but her cult was (and is) highly popular amongst the people. Hildegard of Bingen composed numerous chants in their honor. A personal favorite chant in Ursula's honor  is Hildegard's 'O rubor sanguinis' (O Ruby Blood):

O rubor sanguinis,
qui de excelso illo fluxisti,
quod divinitas tetigit,
tu flos es,
quem hiems de flatu serpentis
num quam lesit.

O ruby blood
which flowed from on high
where divinity touched.
You are a flower
that the winter of the serpent's breath
can never injure.

A beautiful rendition of this by Anonymous 4 of this same Antiphon can be heard here.

Regardless of the historical reality of Ursula and the 11,000, they remain an inspiration and testament of faith to many. Martyrs automatically receive the blessings of sainthood, and are 'with God'. This means that the 11,000 and Saint Ursula are able to petition on our behalf, to bend the ear of God should we pray for their intercession and aide. The patronage of the 11,000 extends especially to those under siege, and there are many accounts in Mexico and the Caribbean of special petitions to Ursula and the Virgins in the many periods of tumultuous conflict from competing European crowns for territory. 

The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church
- Tertullian, 2nd Century Church Father

It is here I find the true power of this truth - it is for the martyrs who knew the love of God so strongly that their faith is unshaken, even unto death. These martyrs inspire others to live a life of faith. It is by our actions, by living our faith, not describing it, that we bear witness to the glory of God. For healers, this is a powerful reminder - it is part of the don, the gift of healing, that you do exercise it. It is part of your destiny, your makeup, that you heal people. Through the curandero, people come to know the power of God. In doing what we are destined we participate in God, building a Church far better than any building of brick and stone, and truly helping others on their path by walking our own.

It is worth noting an alternate given for the number eleven, which I have only found in the medieval Latin version, which reads: 

Undecim stellae a Josepho visae
The eleven stars seen by Joseph

This refers to the passage in Genesis 37, where Joseph recounts a dream he had where the Sun, the Moon and 11 stars bowed down to him. Jacob (Israel), his father, interpreted the dream, asking "Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 

Illustration by Owen Jones from
"The History of Joseph and His Brethren", Day & Son, 1869
Joseph's relating of his dreams to his brothers incensed them to the point of selling him off. Were his dreams for him alone? Is this a warning to speak guardedly about our insights? Surely there is a naïveté about Joseph's retelling of his dreams, but his innocence is part of his character - he must go through his destined trials and tribulations to save Israel in the future from starvation. Hardships to save Israel? Sounds familiar.

Many have interpreted this dream not only as a reference to the Israelites coming to Egypt to survive the famine of Canaan, but also as a messianic reference. In fact, Joseph's life and trials are often paralleled with the Messiah. Perhaps then, it is no coincidence that Jesus was the adopted son of another Joseph? Certainly the Essene belief was such that the historical Jesus was a son of Joseph, and that the second coming would be a Messiah who was the son of David. Two messiah figures, twain in nature.

The Virgin of Guadalupe:
the 'Woman clothed with the Sun'
of Revelation 12?
It is also worth saying that for many bible scholars, this particular dream of Joseph is linked to the passage in Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation that describes the 'woman clothed with the sun'. The passage alludes that it is the Messiah she is about to birth, under threat of being consumed by the seven headed, ten horned Red Dragon. Here the twelve stars (as Joseph is now amongst his brothers), Sun, and Moon all show obeisance to the woman, who is to give birth to a child "who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron", itself a reference to Psalms 2:9, indicated this child is the Messiah. She is the land and people of Israel herself, personified, crying out in pain, echoing the tumult that both surrounds the period of Jesus' birth, as well as the great hardships to come that will birth the return of the Messiah. Many have also drawn parallel between the Guadalupana and the same verse. It is not a stretch, visibly.

I do like to ponder how this particular truth could be meditated upon - certainly not to endorse the hubristic embrace of self-importance, but perhaps to remember that it is always the power of Christ that is the true owner of this reverence and power. Whether for you this is the literal historical figure of Christ or an alignment with the light of Christ in a gnostic interpretation, or other varied interpretations, is of no matter. I believe with the stars of Joseph there is both a call to the assumption of power, the power of God, as well as the embrace of humility before the Throne as well. It is a witness to our trials and to our faith in the supremacy and promise of Messianic salvation, whether through surrender to it or incorporation and self-empowerment within it. Joseph never attributed his power to dream or to interpret to himself, but rather, always to God. (Genesis 40:8)

Further Resources for Saint Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins:

for The Eleven Stars and Dreams of Joseph:

Continued in Part III


  1. Greetings! I ran across your blog by most accident. I am an Initiate in a Gnostic Christian Kabbalah. Let me just say that I have been reading everything on it for 3 days! I found it searching for Lilith/Lilitu. You know those heretical Gnostics love them some Lilith! I know I surely do- as I am forever in Her debt! Being a young effeminate gay man probably helps-maybe not-Who could ever speak for Her?! I had never heard of Quimbanda.However- I was intrigued! What I initially found out about Quimbanda is different than what I am Understanding. Your posts- the Sublime Quality- behind the words- what I feel reading them- what you share with us here- is not what I was expecting from a TATA OF QUIMBANDA! The "most evil sorcerers to live". Well- I am glad that I have always attempted to persist in my understanding of various Traditions. If I had not- I would have missed some truly Luminous Insights. I wanted to give you a compliment in a good way- to encourage you to continue to write here/write period. I wish more people commented. People are finding this and reading it whether they comment or not. I will have read this entire blog before I am done. It is that good! I have already ordered the Pomba Gira and Exu books. Do I suddenly sense a calling to practice Quimbanda? Probably not! That doesn't mean I want to stop asking myself questions- and that's exactly what your blog did. Ask me questions that required some outside the box thinking- and THAT IS ALWAYS GOOD! Thank you so much for your contributions- and I send you Blessings-and Light!----Kyle H.


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