The Enochian alphabet captures the interest of many magicians, and though it is sometimes treated simply as the way one writes words in the Enochian language, some have sought to explore its own internal properties, seeking to find in it a magical alphabet akin to the Hebrew alphabet. (For those not steeped in Western esoterica, a magical alphabet is a set of symbols to which one attributes a variety of metaphorical layers, created for the purposes of taxonomy and for the understanding of words in terms of their letters' symbols.)
The best-known attempt with the Enochian alphabet is that of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The G.D. approach is to attribute the sixteen figures of geomancy and the five elements (the four classical elements plus spirit) to the twenty-one letters. This approach has the advantage that the elements are quite well-understood in Western occultism, and one can easily come to grips with the geomantic figures through their astrological associations. This allows one to easily interpret Enochian words as magical formulas (albeit in a magical language that doesn't distinguish verbs and adverbs). However, the results of this approach seem somewhat arbitrary. Further, this approach reduces the Enochian alphabet to basically astrological language in the same way that many magicians would balk at if it were done with the Hebrew alphabet.
Even worse, magically speaking, such an approach flies directly in the face of good practice as understood by chaos magicians. If you're using a magical language which purports to be the first language, you can expect a greater degree of success with it if you treat it as the first language (not because it necessarily is, but because that's how the system was designed). Rather than interpreting the Enochian alphabet as a particular way of arranging subsequent ideas, the best of modern magical symbology that we can hope to find in Enochian are precursors to more recent systems' contents. While someone who approaches the issue from a historical perspective may find the fulfillment of their expectations by attributing to the Enochian letters various astrological and alchemical concepts familiar to Dr. John Dee, some of the system's potential for use in magic would be lost in the process.
How, then, are we to find the meanings of the Enochian letters without looking for a later isomorphic system? With a bit of historical leeway, we can say that the magical alphabet based on Hebrew derives significantly from the meanings of the letters in their pictographic origins. The letters' names are words which start with those letters, and the letters' symbols are pictographs for those words. These concepts were used as the basis for the wealth of meanings attributed to the letters - it's quite possible that the astrological symbolism given to the letters in Sepher Yetzirah came later.
However, we can't trace the Enochian letters back to pictography through existing knowledge of them. Even more relevant, from a magical perspective, the Enochian language was used to create the world, so while the letters may resonate with certain things in the world which particularly express them, their fundamental indications would not be objects. Instead, an approach to the letters as ideograms is in order. If successful, such an approach would not only lay bare the words of the Enochian language as formulae, but it would open modern magicians to an entirely new magical alphabet, and perhaps a new way of looking at the structure of the world.
|The Enochian alphabet, as first given in Liber Logaeth on page 57.|
The version of the alphabet used in this exposition is that given in Liber Logaeth, on the basis that the alphabet was first transcribed there, and since (to my knowledge) there is no mention in Dee's journals of the angels revising the alphabet, any alterations in the later forms can be chalked up to transcription errors or intentional changes on the part of humans. Note that O (the second letter on the bottom row) consists of two lines that almost join but do not, and that K (the second letter on the top row) is one single connected figure, rather than two disjoined figures as it is sometimes displayed.
In what follows, I'll be drawing connotations from these glyphs among the Major Arcana of the Tarot. This is done specifically with the Atus of Tahuti given in Aleister Crowley's masterpiece in mind. Rather than to reduce the letters to those cards, the purpose of these connotations is to help cement in the mind the new content given here by connecting it to the known. The attributions to the Tarot are by no means exhaustive; indeed, these attributions leave a lot of room for personal elaboration. That said, let us begin.
This letter signifies the /b/ sound. It resembles the astrological glyph of Aries, and the G.D. attributions treat it as Aries through the tetragram Puer. It's also interesting to note that the first letter of the Enochian alphabet corresponds phonetically with the first letter in the book of Genesis. The fact that Aries starts the Zodiac and 'Berashith' begins the book of Genesis reinforces the idea of beginnings already attached to this letter due to its position. At the bottom, there is a point of bifurcation or joining (depending on which way the glyph flows). The right branch ends in a concave shape; on the right branch, we have a straight line. This joining of the phallus and kteis is reminiscent the Greek myth regarding the origin of human love: in an Edenic condition, human beings had two heads, both sets of genitals, four arms, four legs, and so on. Fearing their power, Zeus (or some other Demiurgic figure) sundered each human in two. Now humans spend their lives seeking the other half of their souls, yearning to reunite with their perfect complement. The Hebrew word Elohim is used to refer to divinity many times in the book of Genesis - and it has feminine root with a masculine ending.
Regardless of political agendas and semantic spooks, this is also a glyph of conception as the beginning of life, where the masculine and feminine forces come together. In the Tarot, Atu VI in its pairing of dualities, I in its hermaphroditic grace, and 0 in its unconditional arising, make good touchstones. Note that the glyph goes both ways, both as merging and as diverging, as is appropriate for a glyph that indicates the oneness of dualities.
Kheper-i kheper kheperu, kheper-kuy, m kheper n khepri kheperu m sep tepy.
“I became, and the becoming became. I became by becoming the form of Khepra, god of transformations, who came into being in the First Time. Through me all transformations were enacted.”Turned around the other way, we have the image of a vast pregnant abdomen with the legs spread below it - preparing to give forth with birth. Easily we can find a common line between the fetal experience of contractions with birth impending (Stanislav Grof's second perinatal matrix) and the apocalyptic sense of experiencing an eclipse. As transformation, this glyph pertains to those beginnings which are also ends, and vice versa (the middle line is shared between the two semi-circles). The glyph is also the cauldron, where heat ripens the contents and mixes them by convection. Atu XIII is nicely encapsulated here, the abdomen of III is featured strongly, and the mixing of XIV. The shifts implied in the current version of XX are also relevant.
volcanic ecstasy, and Plutonic-Dionysian themes are thus suggested. Being shoved through a vagina is a very instinctual process, and the will to power leads us as we grow out of successively larger, tightening wombs. The glyph is very martial, being also a pike or a spear held in two hands. The pike, used to unseat and impale oncoming horsemen, suggests using the momentum of one's obstacles to overcome them. Similarly, the child in the birth canal is more being thrust forth than thrusting herself forth. The spear, first made for hunting, suggests Artemis (and thus Sagittarius again), and of course the arrow springs forth from the tension in the bow, not by being hurled. The dragon that disdains updrafts wastes energy flying. The momentum of VII, the primal fury of XI, the implacable inertia of X, the explosion of XX, and the power of IV are all indicated here.
fourth perinatal matrix. The paths of the letter resemble the set of all creodes, the totality of nature's habits seen as developmental pathways. This is the Aether, Yetzirah, the foundation of the material world which contains the infinite set of possibilities for it. Since it contains all possibilities, it contains no actualities; Yetzirah is to Assiah as Ain Soph Aur is to the ten Sephiroth of the Tree of Life. So this glyph is the world behind the world, which occultists and the dreaming explore and which m-theorists pray exists. The G.D. attribution to ו via Amissio is justified through ו's role in the Tetragrammaton as the Son, prince of Yetzirah. Atu 0 is conveyed by this letter by the fool's position at a precipice, as is the way XIX's sun shines over all, and matrix of possibility in X - though this letter speaks from its axle, not its periphery.
This glyph is pronounced /i/ or /j/ (that is, the English y) depending on its place in words. In it, we have what the last letter transmits, passed from the top line to the bottom. And what a transmission, the power of which brings the whole universe into harmony and resonance! The musician plays, the weaves travel, the eardrum pulses. The eardrum pulses, the receptors transduce, the brain shivers in pleasure. The adherent takes the bread, blesses it, and holds the body. The apopheniac gazes upon the symbol, finds the principle, and sees it instantiated everywhere. Without this power, the universe would be 1 or ∞; with it, it may frolic as naught and two. Without this power, the one could not adore the many, nor the many the one. It is the power of decoding, by which I translate these letters, the power of encoding by which I transmit these words. By this power calls DNA to the protein, choreographing its dance. By this power knows Helium its noble contentment, and finds Hydrogen its consummation in an equal. The fractal order indicated under /g/ would be defunct without its messenger god /i/, and no priest would prophesy the apocalypse of /d/. /e/ creates the field of play for /i/, and together they love as do Nuit and Hadit. No corner of the universe is so remote that the lineage of this letter cannot reach it. It is ubiquitous and interpenetrating , and even as linguistic consciousness and the internal monologue are created by the power of transmission, they are that power. The third I is distinguished in that it doesn't say "me." Atus IX, XIX, XVII, XX (as Heru), and II all traffic with this letter.
This letter is pronounced /h/. Just as the stream of water to the ocean creates valleys and caves, so does the power of the previous letter shape what it passes through. From the inside, the liaison between the arcs is concealed behind the line their union forms, but when the power of this letter is understood, the meeting of the two forces is acknowledged. Here, apparent opposites make their secret congress. Thus we have the discreet sex life of the pair in /m/. Also we have the birth of theory of mind (i.e.: the realization that other people's actions are the result of their own minds), though in others we only have their apparent inputs and outputs. With theory of mind comes the possibility of deception, just as every shelter is a potential hiding place; with the separate ego comes the possibility of concealment, and vice versa. Of course, the notion of personal separate existence and theory of mind don't seem to go necessarily in tandem until one notes the secret link between how thought seems from the inside and how it seems from the outside. Secrecy, of course, is relative - only that which can potentially be known can be secret at all, rather than being simply unknowable. So this letter pertains to what we hide from ourselves to believe that we understand the world, and to the process of creating perceptual worlds for ourselves through the use of our assumptions. Belief is the craft of thought, that vast ocean through which we sail. This glyph signifies the power of the subtle over the manifest. As sex and the craft of thought, it has ties to Atu VII, also (less strongly, and only the former) to Atu XI, and to XIV. In the hidden connection of mutually different sets, it pertains to XIII. As the intermediary between all in the world of duality, it is XV.
This glyph, pronounced /l/, puzzled me for awhile. In it, we have a binary path encroaching on a circle of undivided substance, or a circle devouring duality, absorbing it into monism. In either case, this glyph indicates the transformation between duality and unity. The best anatomical glyph for this process is the optic nerve, whereby the endless light of the world is transduced into something we can make sense of in terms of our perception-conception, which of necessity breaks things into categories. In that case, it's wort noting that the reality is actually the blank space inside the concave part of the glyph, and the curve itself is the retina, which absorbs this incomprehensibility and communicates something the dualistic mind can make sense of. Thus, 210 is a numerical articulation of this glyph. Going the other direction, the formula of ARARITA is disclosed - by pairing each of the ten thousand things with its opposite, we can bring the non-dual truth back into our awareness: All Reflections Are Resolved In The Adept. There is no bridge shown between monism and nothingness because that bridge is made of nothingness. This glyph implies VIII in the balancing process, 0 in its indication of nothingness, IV who conquers the world and divides it into boundaries, XII for the immersion in illusion, and especially II. This letter is a development of the relation between the parts of the previous letter.
This letter indicates /p/. Here we have the enclosure similar to that of /h/, except that the horizontal lines are at the periphery rather than the center,; what is hidden here is not the convergence of apparent opposites, but the non-identity of an apparent unity. It indicates an incomplete articulation of the ARARITA expressed in /l/: all observed opposites are indeed reconciled, but this creates a false unity which fails to encompass all - what lies unobserved remains in dichotomy, and because the mark is missed (by taking one's perfectly consistent picture of unity for the world itself), one makes dhyana only upon an idol. The resemblance between this letter and the Greek Ω is thus made relevant - this letters it an end, but a false end, a dead end. Here we have shallow holism, that womb-nostalgic perspective which mashes everything together because it doesn't comprehend the order of the universe, rather than fitting it together because ti does. Holism, of course, is but one of this letter's masks, more generally it is the creation of a purportedly complete picture of the universe based on a small subset of possible data; the trap of this letter is the illusion of completeness that comes with self-contained consistency. Here lies the 'big' fish who doesn't realize how small his pond is. This is the letter of false endings, and one of the two deformations of /l/. Among the Atus, XVI is relevant in that the tower builders took the forces of nature into account, but failed to do so with completeness; graphically it resembles Nuit in XX, who is but a veil for the bornless, and O is also called, in that he wraps himself in a threefold veil such that he knows not where he leaps.
This letter, /q/ (pronounced as a throaty k or as a kw sound depending on idiolect), indicates the second failure of /l/. While /p/ plunges one into a world of unity propped up by the limitations of any one perspective, /q/ avoids this by a wide stretch: instead of focusing on creating unity for its image of the world, it shapes around itself a world of irreconcilable dichotomy. Rather than a tent we have a valley, and rather than an enclosure which blends light into shadow and shadow into light, we are cast into the very center of the intercourse between Yin and Yang (which originally indicated the sunny and shady sides of a mountain). The world, rather than being a grey place, is a world of qlippothic extremity between light and dark. Just as /q/ compensates for the debauchery of /p/, so does /p help balance for the decadence of /q/: though the sun shines differently on each side, it is the same fundamental ground of being that makes up the valley. And in the fractal fashion seen elsewhere in the alphabet, the relation between /p/ and /q/ can be treated in terms of those glyphs. To /q/ they are most pronouncedly opposite perspectives of which it is unavoidable to take one side or the other (but less obviously they are both ways of organizing perception-conception); to /p/ they are two ways of processing the fundamental unity-dichotomy of reality (to say nothing of its nothingness). In this regard, the two must be balanced in the harmony of /l/. Among the Atus, this letter fits nicely with XVIII, that pervasive duality, and with VI as analysis. In its higher forms it becomes VII, where disparate forces pull in the same direction, and I plays freely in this world of illusion.
This letter is pronounced /n/. Last of the second heptad, this letter brings the primacy of the last two letters into question. Showing an arc crossed by an arc, this glyph shows a pair of paths that only cross once, indicating that the two arcs do not enclose an area. In light of such distinctions, it's clear that all analysis is counterfactual to the extent that it treats the categories it creates as fundamental, and all synthesis is redundant since it's best applied to continent (enclosed) distinctions rather than open ones. Since the arc does not provide complete division but only partial, this symbol generally applies to the incontinence of apparently real distinctions. If near death experience accounts are to be believed, this letters is a glyph for dying, as transformation rather than ending. The various figurative forms of death give us an escape from the traps of /v/ and /q/ into the nonduality-nonunity implied in /l/. In this defiance of distinction, /n/ is also endless monism rather than the closed monism of /p/; similarly, /n/ contains dualism in its two lines, but they intersect. Thus, as death/transformation, this letter puts an end to the issues of the second heptad even as it opens the ground for a new transcendent set, even as the perpendicularity of /e/ provided a space for the distinguished polarities of this heptad. /n/ has ties to XIII for obvious reasons, but the transubstantiation of XVII has its place here too. XVIII and XIX, together and united, fit as well.
*(1*1<1+1, 2*2=2+2, 3*3>3+3, 4*4>4+4, et cetera. 2 is the only number whose addition to itself is equal to its square.)
recently discovered by the Voyager probe) is included in the picture. So also, on a medium scale, is the atmosphere of our planet an enclosure. Of course, there are Yetzieraic enclosures at the collective level too, so this letter has some in common with /p/. It is the process by which paradigms are created, rather than the state of being trapped inside them, once made. Both are the result of selective attention, but different facets of it. XIX is quite apt here, but the encompassing arms of III and the lines carved IV's legacy also pertain to this letter. XXI is relevant to some facets of this symbol, as is V as the Ruach.
These are my current notes regarding the individual meanings of the Enochian letters. They are not meant to persuade anyone, only to show a path. The next aim in my work with the alphabet it to find a parsimonious way of determining their octave relations to one another. In the meantime, it's worth looking at a few Enochian words (picked for the fact that they stick in my mind, not because they show the system in an especially positive light):
PIADPH - indicates an enclosure transmitting over all possible paths a gut-wrenching transformation into a double-bound state of affairs (indicated by PH). The word means "in the depths of my jaws."
AVAVAGO - indicates a branching series of possibilities reaching far down from the macrocosmic order in order to infinitesimally approach the organic. The word means "thunders."
ZIR - indicates the spinning energy of contained circumnavigation transmitting into the creation of an enclosure. The word means "I."
AOEUEAE - indicates a vast, sparse matrix of existent entities, ordered such as to connect their own existence and position with the possibilities of another order of entities. The word means "stars," and the formula is obvious in light of astrology.
UPAAHI - the word has a symmetrical structure, two As in the middle, two enclosure letters outside them, and two vowels on the outside. UPA indicates the binding of possibility by the grand fractal order and AHI the as merging into apparent oneness of the potential and the actual (i.e. the process by which the potential rebirths itself from a new vantage by actualizing part of itself), and the word as a whole indicates the combination of the grand container of UPA and the Logos of AHI. The words means "the highest vessels," and the connection to Binah and Chokmah in the tree of life is apparent.
Thank you for your time and attention, and for exploring this alphabet with me in a novel way. I'd be delighted to hear any ideas my fellow explorers have on the matter.