Novus Opiate Seclorum

Section L: “10,000 Days”

Released 2 May 2006; Certified Gold and Platinum by the RIAA. Debuted and peaked #1, according to Billboard.

Certified Double Platinum by the Recording Industry of America on 15 April 2021.

Track Listing:



Wings for Marie (Pt. 1)

10,000 Days (Wings, Pt. 2)

The Pot

Lipan Conjuring

Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann)

Rosetta Stoned


Right in Two

Viginti Tres

[NOTE: You’ll notice that there is no answer for “Wings for Marie (Pt. 1)” and “10,000 Days (Wings, Pt. 2).” This is because this song is about Judith Marie Keenan, Maynard’s mother and her passing. This is almost certainly the most personal song MJK has ever put lyrics to and it should be left alone out of respect for him and for her. – SWL]

L1. Why “10,000 Days?”

The title 10,000 Days refers to roughly the orbital period of the planet Saturn (actual time period is 10,759 days), which adds up to nearly 29 [Earth] years and marks, according to Keenan, “the time when you are presented the opportunity to transform from whatever your hang-ups were before to let the light of knowledge and experience lighten your load, so to speak, and let go of old patterns and embrace a new life.” Keenan expected that the songs composed would “chronicle that process, hoping that my gift back would be to share that path and hope that I could help somebody get past that spot.” (Loudwire, 5/19)

The album title is also a reference to Maynard James Keenan’s mother, Judith Marie, who was paralyzed for “10,000 days” (approximately 27 years) before she passed away.

L2. Judith Marie? Why does that name sound familiar?

Perhaps you may be recalling one of Maynard’s other bands, A Perfect Circle. They made a song entitled “Judith” and it deals with her paralysis and her unwavering faith. Judith is also the subject of the two-part song on this album.

L3. What does “Vicarious” mean?

A quick trip to reveals that it means essentially participating and/or enjoying something through imagined participation in the experience of others. For example, observing and cheering on a war by watching it on TV, but never actually fighting in it.

L4. Okay, so what is “Vicarious” about?

This song is similar in theme to the song, “Stinkfist.” Depending on your interpretation of “Stinkfist,” it probably has to do with greed and consumption, possibly of things such as the television. “Vicarious” speaks of devouring information from TV (whatever that information may be). In both of these songs, this “devouring” can be seen as a means for survival.

It also touches upon obsession with violence in television; a very psychological view on how we, as a culture, tend to need to watch other people or things die, or at least have bad things happen to them, in order to continue feeling good about our own lives, and how when a war occurs, such as the war in The Middle East, we tend to need to watch “while the whole world dies.”

L5. I’m pretty sure I can hear some talking in the background?

The boys and their Easter Eggs… About 5 minutes into the song, a newscaster’s voice can be heard low in the mix, saying, “…But the ballistics report and fingerprint analysis led investigators back to the home of the late Irv Benson. The evidence suggests that Benson may have been shot by his own son, Nathan, age 26.”

L6. What’s a “Jambi”?

Apparently it is a province in Southeastern Sumatra, in Western Indonesia.

L7. But, what is it about?

Its title has been said to primarily refer to the iambic meter used in the lyrics of the song, as ‘jambi’ means ‘iamb’ in Finnish. (TOOL Newsletter, Blair McKenzie Blake, 7/06)

Drummer Danny Carey stated that when bassist Justin Chancellor played the bass track of the song, it instantly reminded him of the children’s television program Pee-wee’s Playhouse, then singer Maynard James Keenan thought of the genie “Jambi” and had the idea to make the song’s theme about making wishes.

L8. What is that sound when Adam is playing the solo?

It is a combination of a talkbox and a “pipe bomb mic”. A Dunlop Heil talkbox, and a guitar pickup mounted inside a copper tube, to be specific. (Revolver, 5/18)(Guitar World, 1/09)

L9. What made Adam decide to use a talkbox on this album?

“I always wanted to use a Talkbox — I love Joe Walsh — but I never wanted to use it for the sake of using it,” Jones told Guitar World in 2006. “We wrote this song and I knew that it was the song where the Talk Box would work really well … My friend who works for the Eagles’ booking agent talked to Joe Walsh and gave him my number. A while later I got a message from Joe on my answering machine: [imitates Walsh] ‘Adam Jones, this is the Talk Box fairy. Give me a call.’ I called him and he was totally cool and gave me a lot of advice. I think that the Talkbox on [the Eagles’] ‘Those Shoes’ is really amazing, especially how the harmonies are in each speaker. I’m really happy with how the Talkbox came out on this record.”

L10. Is “The Pot” about weed?

No. However, it does use the psychotropic drug as a metaphor. Think of it like this: when someone does or says something dumb, it is another sarcastic way of saying, “Are you stupid, son?”

*L11. So, if it’s not about weed, what is it about?

Adam has said that its about hypocrisy and the reference, “the pot” is a double entendre referencing the “herb” and believing oneself to be above others, derived from the phrase “pot calling the kettle black”

“There’s the whole idea behind the discipline of meditation or shamanistic rituals that has to do with getting to those spaces where you actually step out of your own body and you have other experiences … trying to open up your Kundalini [energy], this intense years of training, and all of the sudden, people come along with LSD and bypass the whole discipline process,” Keenan added. “I think that time most of those people took to do those things, you’re kind of preparing yourself in a way so what you actually see you understand on some level. When you’re a kid who just drops a tab of acid, if you have no frame of reference for the experience, it’s kind of like spiritual theft in a way because you’re not really coming back with anything to share. And then people use those transitions as a crutch and they don’t ever really come back from them.”

In other words, The Pot is more or less a critique on frivolous drug use. (Revolver Magazine, 2 May 2018)

L12. Ok, but what on earth is he talking about kangaroos for?

He is referencing kangaroo courts.

L13. What on earth is a “kangaroo court?”

From Wikipedia: A kangaroo court is a court that ignores recognized standards of law or justice, and often carries little or no official standing in the territory within which it resides. The term may also apply to a court held by a legitimate judicial authority who intentionally disregards the court’s legal or ethical obligations. The defendants in such courts are often denied access to legal representation and in some cases, proper defence and the right of appeal.

L14. He says, “liar, lawyer, show the difference…”


L15. What does “Lipan Conjuring” even mean?

The Lipan Apache are Southern Athabaskan (Apachean) Native Americans. Maybe they were trying to channel their inner Native American…

 After analyzing the song, [an] anonymous professor said that she was “suspicious” (as to it being a true example of Apachean music, I assume), stating that “there are fewer than two dozen Lipan speakers left, [and] they do not record, or allow to have recorded, their speech, let alone [a] song that is considered to be more sacred than speech…” She also had a problem with the title itself, claiming that “as far as [she] knew, only witches conjure, and it is always an evil thing to do” and therefore no Lipans would ever use a word like “conjure.” To this I would just like to say that, when it comes to things of an esoteric nature, although I know anthropologists like to think that they have penetrated the inner circle of their particular ‘group’, even native American shamans and tribal elders can be, at times. grudging ‘alchemists.’ As for the word “conjure”, I could mention the confusing and seemingly contradictory differences between invoking and evoking a particular trans-mundane intelligence, but perhaps it’s best to keep in mind the Hermetic/Magickal axiom “As Above, So Below”, meaning, as occultist E.E. Rehmus states, that “self and other are one and to draw from the Self is ultimately to draw from the All.” Compare this to what Joel Prepejchal (who recorded “Lipan Conjuring” at Rock Bottom Studios in Makanda, Illinois) had to say about the song in a recent e-mail to me: “There is no denomination or specific entities that are described, this was a prayer meant to invoke the All, transcending religion or individual belief.” (Tool Newsletter; 6 January 2007; Blair McKenzie Blake)

Or, it could have just been Danny and his friend tripping balls in the desert one day.

L16. What is “Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann)” all about?

Basically, it serves as a conceptually synchronized prologue for “Rosetta Stoned.” It depicts a conversation between a patient (presumably Albert Hofmann), a nurse and a doctor, which occurs after the event(s) in “Rosetta Stoned.”

*L17. So, who are these people speaking?

The “doctor” is portrayed by TOOL’s manager, Pete Rielding. The “nurse” is played by Adam’s ex-wife, Camella Grace.

L18. So, what exactly are they talking about?

On 7 April 2006, a post on specifically mentioned Dr. Albert Hofmann, the “father” of LSD, stating that on that date he synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. In this song, it is generally thought to be the first time anyone used LSD. This may explain the reason why he is so freaked out and no one knows what is wrong with him. 

In “Rosetta Stoned,” however, he mentions DMT. This may also explain what is wrong with him as well because DMT reportedly has a lot of the same effects as LSD. 

L19. So, what does “Rosetta Stoned” mean?

The name of the song is a reference to the Rosetta Stone, which is a granodiorite stele discovered in 1799 which is inscribed with three versions of a decree issued at Memphis, Egypt in 196 BC during the Ptolemaic dynasty on behalf of King Ptolemy V Epiphanes. The top and middle texts are in Ancient Egyptian using hieroglyphic and demotic scripts, while the bottom is in Ancient Greek. The decree has only minor differences among the three versions, so the Rosetta Stone became key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs, thereby opening a window into ancient Egyptian history. (Wikipedia)

L20. Okay, so what happened to him?

In a nutshell, it is the story of a man’s encounter with aliens, spiritual realizations and his state of a coma after a DMT and/or LSD trip.

But, it may also be about the fallacies and ignorance and narcissism of certain psychedelic enthusiasts. In other words, it is a slap in the face to all the psychonauts and self appointed mystics and shaman who walk around acting as if, or believing, that they have been granted special access to the mysteries of life; that they have tapped into some fount of knowledge about all the Big Questions that have eluded mankind since day one. Never mind the fact that many, more powerful minds have been unable to give us definitive answers to these questions… they have been granted special access to the answers because… why? Because they took acid and believe in UFOs? 

No, because they are special, they have been chosen. It’s a sort of narcissism, to think that you are so important that you get to know the mysteries of life that nobody else gets to know, and that you should simply be granted this knowledge and responsibility because you were wise enough to ingest a chemical that has been experimented with for most of the last century, by millions of people, some of them likely much more talented and intelligent than you.

But, then again, they could just be describing a trip that Bill Manspeaker, aka Bill the Landlord had. You never know with these guys.

L21. What is “Intension” about?

The most likely theory is that it is about the beginning of our creation and giving it definition, so to speak, and how in the beginning there were infinite possibilities of what we could become, while “Right in Two” deals with what we have become.

*L22. What is that talking in the background?

Ah, TOOL love layers and Easter eggs. At around the 5:55 minute mark, if you were to play the song backward, you’d hear this:

“Work hard / Stay in school / Listen to your mother / your father is right/rising/right, son… / Jesus loves you… / Work hard / Stay out of school / Listen to your mother /your father is right/rising/right, son”

L23. So, what is “Right in Two” about?

Just to reiterate, TOOL are rarely ever straightforward with what their songs are about. Having said that, as far as straightforward goes, this is one of them. This one is about the human race and our seeming inability to co-exist peacefully.

L24. What does “Viginti Tres” mean?

Latin for the Number 23.

L25. What is being said?

“Una infinitas abominatio nascitur autumno

Hic est tuum temptamen quod temptat tua potentia

Viginti tres gradus ad summam potestatem”


“One infinity the horror begins in autumn

This is your trial, which tries your (power, might, ability; efficacy, potency)

Twenty three steps to total power”

L26. So, what does that mean?

“The horror” refers to the end of the world, as told by Christianity. Why the speaker believes it begins in Autumn is anyone’s guess. The trial he refers to may be the time after the Rapture, in which there are several years of peace created by the Anti-Christ, followed by several years of absolute terror. The 23 steps could be a lot of things, including either a random number or the fact that two divided by three is .666 (repeating). “666” is the number of the Beast, once again according to Christianity.

L27. I heard that there is another “gift” on this album?

TOOL and their love of easter eggs. If you’ll notice, “Viginti Tres” and “Wings for Marie”, when played back-to-back, are the exact same length as “10,000 Days (Wings Pt. 2) at 11:17. Now, that’s neat in and of itself, but if you get ahold of an audio editing software, you take “Viginti” and “Wings,” in that order, and put them on top of “10,000,” not only are they the exact same length, most parts of each song syncs up nearly exactly. You can find this song, apparently named “Voltron”, on YouTube if you don’t feel like messing with it yourself. 

Another interesting tidbit, the clocks in the photos all say 11:17. Coincidence?