Smaragdine – Friday’s Word of the Day Haiku

Happy Friday. And Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Dictionary.com‘s perfect word for today is Smaragdine, which means of or relating to emeralds; emerald-green in color. Perfect right? It’s originated around 1350–1400 from the Middle English word smaragd that literally means “emerald” as well as Latin smaragdīnus and Greek smarágdinos, which are equivalent to smáragd(os).

Of course on a day like today I naturally think of my Irish heritage and my Chicago roots where the river through the city runs green every year. Here’s a little history about the river that I found on Wikipedia:

The tradition of dyeing the river green arose by accident when plumbers used fluorescein dye to trace sources of illegal pollution discharges. The dyeing of the river is still sponsored by the local plumbers union.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlawed the use of fluorescein for this purpose, since it was shown to be harmful to the river. The parade committee has since switched to a mix involving forty pounds of powdered vegetable dye. Though the committee closely guards the exact formula, they insist that it has been tested and verified safe for the environment. Furthermore, since the environmental organization Friends of the Chicago River believes the dye is probably not harmful, they do not oppose the practice.


In 2009 First Lady Michelle Obama, a Chicago native, requested that the White House fountains be dyed green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Clearly that smaragdine river leaves quite an impression on us Chicago daughters!

An imaginative 17th century depiction of the Emerald Tablet from the work of Heinrich Khunrath, 1606.


I found one more cool reference to the word. It has to do with an ancient cryptic piece Hermetic lore called the the Smaragdine Tablet. It’s origin is a point of debate, with some scholars who believe it to be 1200 years old and others who claim that it is over 38,000 years old, chiseled into a smaragdine tablet by the gods. It has been associated with the philosopher’s stone, laboratory experimentation, phase transition, the alchemy and magic.

There is even a reference from the tablet in the Gnostic Gospels of Phillip and Thomas in the text “above and below” as much as “inside and outside.” You can read more HERE.

And there is even a modern reference to the tablet in the 2006 miniseries, “The Curse of King Tut’s Tomb”. If you have several hours to kill, you can spend some time researching this tablet. It’s definitely an interesting read if you like a good mystery.


Which brings me back to Chicago and the green river and St. Paddy’s Day. Trust me it does….take me back, that is. When I was a girl I always believed that it was the magic of leprechauns who turned the river green.

We all need a bit of magic and mystery every now and again so we don’t take ourselves and the crazy realities of the world too seriously. I think I understand why Mrs. Obama asked for that green fountain on March 17th. I find myself googling Chicago every year to see the green river. As crazy weird and mysterious as it is, it gives me comfort and memories of home…and of course Spring! 

Sláinte ~ kat

smaragdine rivers,
stones etched mysteriously
greening is magic

kat – 17 March 2017


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