Tax on Me

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No Tax on o me, and the roots of the word Taxonomy

Roman Coins


You may have heard of a taxonomic key.  You may have even used a system of questions to determine the genus and species of a plant or mushroom on a nature hike.  But why is the system of organization and discovery of a botanical name referred to as a taxonomic key?  What is Taxonomy?

Taxonomy is the study of the characteristics and systems used to organize and categorize lifeforms.  A Taxus is a list, or conscription or census. Taxonomy is the branch of science concerned with classification, especially of living organisms.  Taxa is the noun used to express the categorization of organisms during the study of life.

The origin of the word Taxa is the same as Toxic and refers to the Yew tree. The name of an entire Family of plants in this system is called the Taxaceae Family.  In this family, we find the common yew tree.  This highly toxic and poisonous plant is native to Africa, Northern Iran, Southwest Asia, western, central and southern Europe (including the British Isles).

For more information on the common Yew tree, visit  The latin word taxus is from the same root as toxic, and baccatta in Latin means having berries. It is generally accepted by western scholars that the first accepted written attempt to classify plants was made in roughly 350-275 B.C by Theophrastus‘s Enquiry into Plants or Historia Plantarum . (Historia Planatarum). The extensive work covered in depth looks at plant structure, reproduction and growth; catalogued the varieties of plant around the world; wood; wild and cultivated plants; and their uses, was translated into Latin in 1483 by Theodorus Gaza who also was known as Thessalonikeus  The first English translation was made by Sir Arthur Hort and published in 1916.

One must not study the foundations of life nor the building blocks of life without a thorough study of where the language associated with life and plants comes from. Today’s study is on taxonomy, but we will delve further into the philosophers, scribes, and theologians of their day and whom they were studying under in another blog post on another day.  Theophrastus studied works from Diocles of Carystus, who was the first to use the word “anatomy” and wrote extensively about many biological sciences although his works on women and plants have clear biases.  For more on Diocles, click here

Etymology – Etiology

In digging for the roots, one looks for the origin or Etiology of a word or phrase.  The study of the origin of words is Etymology. describes various origins of the word Tax.

Tax as a verb: To impose a forced tribute, “evaluate, estimate, assess, handle,” also “censure, charge,” probably a frequentative form of tangere “to touch,” from PIE root *tag- “to touch, handle.” Sense of “to burden, put a strain on” first recorded early 14c.; that of “censure, reprove” is from 1560s. Its use in Luke ii for Greek apographein “to enter on a list, enroll” is due to Tyndale. Related: Taxedtaxing. Related to Augustus Caesar in the estimated period of King Herod in 2-1B.C.

Tax as a noun: “obligatory contribution levied by a sovereign or government,” from Anglo-French tax, Old French taxe, and directly from Medieval Latin taxa, from Latin taxare (see tax (v.)). Related: TaxesTax-deduction is from 1942; tax-shelter is attested from 1961.

In related entries we find the syllable tag- “to touch, handle”, also used figuratively for “taste, partake of, strike, hit, affect, trick, cheat, mention, or speak of”.  Related to tact, tactics, tactile, tangent, task, taste, taxis and is the hypothetical source of “taxare” to touch or assess; “tactus” to touch; “integer” intact, whole, complete, perfect, honest; also of Greek “tassein” to arrange; “tetagon” having seized”.

Thus “Taxonomy” becomes “Taxis” or arrangement + “nomia” or methods or study of while also alluding to a plant census, offerings, and the tastes.  Throughout the ages, poets and sages have scribed in pages and found humor and truth in the associative sounds and syllables.

Taxonomy is an ongoing practice that continues to this day, with new categories and classifications being agreed upon by botanists, biologists, virologists, and more as the study of life continues.

Though the word for our modern day chariot, the taxi, does not upon initial study come from an association with any actual chariots; it does root back to the word tax in that a taximeter is a measure of a charge or fare collected for the ride. One can not help but associate the chariots used in military advances by romans in collecting their taxes or forced tributes. This makes the story of Helios” son Phathon who attempted to drive his father’s chariot (the sun) and lost control setting the earth on fire more of an allegory for the inexperienced rulers of today who have lost control of a system of taxation that is in effect setting the world on fire.

Philip meets the Ethiopian in his carriage reading Acts

Digging for deeper roots requires a study of Acts 2: “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.” when the supposed first census, registration and tax of human beings was levied. Also a study of Isaiah 43:3 (BBE) For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your saviour; I have given Egypt as a price for you, Ethiopia and Seba for you. Also Acts 8; Philip and the Ethiopian (who as a records keeper or tax man or accountant for Candace then Queen of Ethiopia, was in his own chariot studying Isaiah when the Philip meets him on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. There is more in depth study required as to the truth of the matter. We are still in many ways in that place between Ja Rule (measure) Salem (in peace) and Gaza asking the tax man in the taxi to maybe review the covenant given to the people of the earth. There is a connection between the listing of plants, the toxicity of plants, the taxation of people. It is said that many who would not be converted to Roman rule used the leaves and plants of the Yew tree, which was often growing in and around the temples of scholars and philosophers (some even living inside the Yew trees), to seek their timelessness through immortality, touching the ground like the branches of the yew tree and being reborn again up through the earth.

Source Material

  • On the Pathology and Taxonomy of Covid

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