Solemnus

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

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English Gematria Thoughts
Written by Solemnus, P.M.S.L. 185, W.W.B.D.
May 29th, 1998 e.v.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

I have been considering English Gematria for a long time, and have some thoughts which might be ready for the critiques and supplements of others. I was previously unaware of the E.·.Q.·. system, which has, apparently, been under development for some 20-odd years; I will have to research it a bit now that I am aware of its existence.

However, the as yet unconfirmed (by me) news that E.·.Q.·. simply uses the linear 26 values in a permutation involving an 11 character rotation (E-26/P-11) came as a mild disappointment, since I was hoping for something more inspirational for its ordering and valuation. I don't mean to say that it's wrong for being simple, since success is the only proof, and plenty of potential success has been demonstrated in various public forums recently. But I did have some other thoughts on the matter, and I'd like to post them for review and critique.

The main thought I had is based on the pattern described, among other places, in Donald Michael Kraig's book Modern Magick: Eleven Lessons in the High Magickal Arts, where the Hebrew letters are placed on a pattern "according to Kabalah". I believe the pattern, or workbench, is called the "Rosetta Stone".

In any regard, in the system described in Modern Magick, one can draw up a symbol representing a word or phrase by connecting the "leaves" on the pattern in the order in which the letters appear in the word.

I was curious about adapting this to English. Kraig's technique appears to be based on the typical phonetic transliteration of English letters to Hebrew, and then resorting to the original pattern. I have never been comfortable with this method; I see the same flaws here as I do with taking words in one language and either translating or transliterating them to another language for the purpose of computing Gematria.

I feel a true system should be successful in its own language, independent of others. We do not lean on these other languages in the execution of our Will, and, largely, do not do so in the visualization of our Rituals. Obviously, specific components of some Rituals are necessarily in other languages, God-Names being a fine example thereof. The thought does occur to me that this might not, in fact, be out of necessity, but rather out of a failure to know with what to replace these components. This, however, would be but an extension to this discussion. The point is that we generally function by thinking in some language or another, and, for the purpose of this discussion, that language would be English, so the English Gematria system should probably, in my opinion, be entirely based on English.

And so I have an interest in developing a parallel system in English for those which already exist in Latin, Hebrew and Greek, which is probably also the goal of those stars who have worked so hard on the E.·.Q.·. system these past two decades.

However, a mathematically linear, or a modulo permutation of a mathematically linear, system somehow doesn't feel very inspired to me -- no insult intended to the fine scholars who have been working the E.·.Q.·. system all this time. It's just that I was hoping that, as I progressed in my studies and in my work, I would be able to formulate what I might call "inspired" values for English Gematria, and furthermore create my own version of the symbology workbench for the purpose of creating symbols with which to represent words.

What follows are some related thoughts that I've put on the back burner in thinking on this project.

0. Glossary.

E-26: This is short for English-26, and represents any system where the letters of the English alphabet are valued from 1 through 26, each letter having its own value. Where a "modulo permutation" has been established, such as taking every 11th letter in turn to create a new linear order, I suffix it with a slash, the letter P, a hypen, and the value of the modulo. In the example given, E-26/P-11 would be the designator.

E-9: This is short for English-9, and represents any system where the letters of the English alphabet are valued from 1 to 9 in a repeating cycle, similar to the planetary oriented system used in, I believe, Hebrew Gematria.

Workbench: In the context of this document, the term "workbench" refers to a template, or pattern, onto which the elements of the language (presumably either letters or phonetic sounds) are superimposed to create a method for drawing lines which will result in the creation of a symbol to represent a word or phrase, similar to a picture being drawn by way of a "connect the dots" picture.

1. Capitalization.

E-26 and E-9, and their modulo permutations, do not appear to give any special valuation for special conditions, such as uppercase letters or punctuation. For example, "will" and "Will" evaluate identically, yet the concepts that I associate with these two representations of the word are radically different, Brother R.B.'s thesis on a similar matter notwithstanding. In Hebrew Gematria, certain letters have special values when used in special ways. Given the impact of capitalization in the English language, I should think this would be a part of any accurate English Gematriaic system.

What of the convention of capitalizing the first letter of any sentence? There is no wordcentric value associated with this variation on the word's spelling; it is, in fact, almost entirely a lottery based on grammatical construct. Does the method of presenting a sentence in English matter to an English Gematriaic system? Considering the application of Gematria is most often to words and phrases, but not to entire sentences, this is probably NOT something which should be included in the system. Or should it?

What confusion will result when the uninitiated attempt to use the system and apply capital letter values to words which are only capitalized consequent of their position, as opposed to their connotative meaning? Do we care?

How do we handle acronyms?

Should punctuation matter? It can drastically alter the interpretation of an otherwise ambiguous phrase or sentence, and Gematria should reflect meaning. Or should it?

2. Position

I should think the formation of the "Rosetta Stone" style workbench should be crafted such that it facilitates the creation of useable and unique symbols for all words in the language. In English, we tend to wander, within any particular word, from consonant to vowel and vowel to consonant, but also have syllables where consonant meets consonant, and where vowel meets vowel. The arrangment should be such that the lines form a "clean" symbol; that is to say, that the lines of the symbol are not required to become muddled with large numbers of crossovers and double-backs.

Should the pattern be based on the letters, or the sounds they make? For example, in English, "T", "H" and "TH" produce three distictive sounds, but "THR" is clearly a "TH" followed by an "R". "TH" also has a hard and a soft variant; does this matter?

Actually, nearly all letters have a "hard" and a "soft" sort of sound. For example, "D" and "T" are the same sound, one with vocalization and one without. Does this matter? Sould they occupy the same space on the pattern? Should they be separate, but have some kind of rule regarding their positions relative to each other?

Dialect alters the sounds of words.

Four thousand years from now, people may not speak English in quite the same way we do today. Heck, they might not speak it at all. Or it might be a "restored" dead language, with its pronunciations bearing little resemblence to the current languge. Should the Gematria be designed to survive to such times? Gematria is sometimes used to code information so the uninitiated are misled. It might be important for the written word to survive changes or extinction of the sounds of the language.

If based on the letters, rather than the sounds (which, in writing, might be important, for the reasons noted above), perhaps an inner ring of vowels could be surrounded by a concentric ring or two of consonants. This would tend towards a back-and-forth pattern between the inner and outer rings, likely aiding in producing a "clean" symbol.

In fact, perhaps three concentric rings would work best; the innermost ring containing the vowels, the middle ring containing either vocalized or nonvocalized consonants, and the outer ring containing the remainder of the alphabet.

Do "H" and "Y" get consideration for their potential use as vowels, or "vowelesque" letters, under such a system? Do any other letters have such concerns?

3. Valuation

As regards the value assigned each letter, many ideas exist. But what might constitute an "inspired" valuation?

A system which values the letters from 1-26 has, at the very least, simplicity and candor as its inspiration.

ASCII, BCD, EBCDIC, FIELDATA, and other computer character valuation systems give other approaches, but are heavily based on computer work, and English has been around longer than the computer.

How do we evaluate numbers not used in a numerical or gematriaic context? Do we take the numbers at their own value? Do we take the digits at their own value? Do we convert to words and compute? Do we skip them?

Should key words compute to the same value as their Greek, Hebrew, or Latin counterparts? For example, is it important that, in English, "Thelema" and "Agape" compute specifically to 93, or is it acceptable that they simply compute to the same value as each other? Do they even need to match each other in this language? After all, they are Greek words, and we only put them into an English form for convenience. They represent a transliteration in any regard; or, at least, I suspect "Agape" might. I think "Thelema", or, at least, "Thelemite", is an actual English word which has as its etymological breakdown that Greek word we all know and love so well. Perhaps only "will" and "love" need to match up.

Many passages where gematria is a key to solving a puzzle, riddle or cipher talks about an item being "...known to the Hebrew as (some number) and to the Greek as (some other number)...", so it seems clear that the actual values themselves matching the values for the same words in other languages is not vital; in fact, it may be undesirable.

How about plurals? Should the trailing "s" and "es" simply be added up as per normal words, or should some special case be given to a plural, where the singular word is evaluated and then modified or not simply on the basis of being plural?

Are there attributions of the English letters to the Tree of Life, the Tarot, or astrological factors which might be considered in establishing the values of these letters?

Knowing the reasons for the Gematriaic values used in Greek, Latin and Hebrew systems might shed some light on a comparative approach to use in developing an English system. Is this what the E.·.Q.·. folks have done? This is the type of research I intend to undertake; as yet, I have not begun to do so.

What numeric base should be used? Base 10? Base 12? It wouldn't matter except for Theosophical Reduction, but, then, this is an issue with some forms of Gematria.

4. Systemic Concerns

Should valuation of the letters and their position on the workbench be related?

What is the "real" function of Gematria in any regard? Two known uses are for ciphering and for establishing relationships between words which can then be meditated upon.

These are some of the thoughts I've been stewing on for awhile. Any input, for or against any concepts here, are not only welcome, but most sincerely and enthusiastically requested; send your thoughts and comments to solemnus@solemnus.org.

Love is the law, love under will.

| Home | Magick | Thelema | Writings | Year of DMK | solemnus@solemnus.org |

Love is the law, love under will.


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