English Qabalah

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English Qabalah, or English Kabbalah, refers to several different systems[1]:24–25 of mysticism related to Hermetic Qabalah that interpret the letters of the English alphabet via their supposed numerological significance.[2]:269[3] The antiquarian spelling "Qabalah" is more common in this context, but the modern spelling "Kabbalah" is also found.[4]

Qabalah vs. gematria[edit]

According to Jake Stratton-Kent, the English Qabala is a qabalah and not a system of numerology or solely gematria. He believes a qabalah is specifically related to three factors: a language, a 'holy' text or texts, and mathematical laws at work in these two.[5] Gematria, on the other hand, is a system in which letters are equated to number values. The letters comprising the word or name of person or object are then summed together. The number of this sum is termed the key of that particular word. Words sharing the same key are said to share properties. The letters are often tabulated along with their numerical equivalents.[6][7][8]

Systems of English gematria[edit]

Main article: Arithmancy

The first appearance of a system of gematria using the natural order of the English alphabet was developed in 1532 by Michael Stifel, who also proposed a system called the trigonal alphabet, using successive triangular numbers.[9]:50 Another early system of English gematria was used by poet John Skelton.[10] An analogue of the Greek system of isopsephy using the Latin alphabet appeared in 1583.[9]:49 Other variations appeared in 1683 (simply referred to as the 1683 alphabet, this system was used by Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace to identify Napoleon with the number of the Beast) and 1707 (Alphabetum Cabbalisticum Vulgare). These and other variations are detailed in Underwood Dudley's Numerology, Or, What Pythagoras Wrought.[9]:49–51

More recently, Michael Bertiaux described a system called Angelic Gematria in his The Voudon Gnostic Workbook (1989),[11] and David Rankine described a system of English gematria[12]:244 using prime numbers which he calls Prime Qabalah in his book Becoming Magick (2004).[13] Samuel K. Vincent proposes a new system[14] of Gematria and Qabalah based on an extension of previous systems and a concordance on Thelemic texts.

Systems of English Qabalah[edit]

In 1898 by Willis F. Whitehead described a system which he called English Cabala.[15] More recently, a system related to the Spiritualist Agasha Temple of Wisdom was described by William Eisen in his two volume The English Cabala (1980–82).[16][17]

Aleister Crowley[edit]

In one of the Holy Books of Thelema written by Aleister Crowley in 1907, called Liber Trigrammaton, sub figura XXVII -- Being the Book of the Mutations of the Tao with the Yin and the Yang[18] are 27 three-line diagrams known as 'trigrams', which are composed of a solid line for the Yang, a broken line for the Yin, and a point for the Tao. Crowley later attributed these trigrams to the 26 letters of the English alphabet.

Three years prior to the writing of Liber XXVII, in 1904, Aleister Crowley wrote out the text of the foundational document of his world-view, known as Liber AL vel legis, or The Book of the Law. In this text was the injunction found at verse 2:55; "Thou shalt obtain the order & value of the English Alphabet, thou shalt find new symbols to attribute them unto". By attributing letters to the trigrams of his later work, Crowley was attempting to fulfill this injunction, and felt he had succeeded, as noted in his Old Comment to the Book of the Law.[19]

ALW Cipher[edit]

According to Allen Greenfield, Carol Smith discovered the ALW Cipher, which she later called "English Qaballa", in 1974.[20] Thelemite James Lees says he discovered it independently on November 26, 1976.[21] Carol Smith published the cipher and the reasoning behind it before anyone else, in The New Equinox / British Journal of Magick.[22] Her presentation was later summarized by Jake Stratton-Kent in The Equinox: British Journal of Thelema.[23] Since then other self-published authors have discussed the system, referring to it as New Aeon English Qabala.[24][25]

The order & value of the letters in the ALW Cipher are derived from the grid superimposed on one of the pages of manuscript of Liber AL on which this verse appears (sheet 16 of Chapter III). Also appearing on this page are a diagonal line and a circled cross. Thelemites believe the book of the law should ideally only be printed in Crowley's hand-written version, because the books says there are messages in the chance shapes Crowley's handwriting made, or any shapes he adds to the pages.[26] Believers in New Aeon English Qabalah, following the ideas explained by Carol Smith, feel that reading any diagonal across the square one gets the order of the English alphabet to be used in the English Qabala. Whichever diagonal is read the order of the letters is obtained.[26]

As there are ten squares per column, this method is equivalent to taking every eleventh letter of the alphabet as the order and then assigning them sequential values:

A=1  L=2  W=3  H=4  S=5  D=6  O=7  Z=8  K=9  V=10 G=11 R=12 C=13
N=14 Y=15 J=16 U=17 F=18 Q=19 B=20 M=21 X=22 I=23 T=24 E=25 P=26

In the original handwritten text, the string of letters and numbers is divided into two lines, the first ending with "Y" and the second beginning with "X". Stratton-Kent thought that in the manuscript the 'X' at the beginning of line two looked like a multiplication symbol, so he added each line's values together and multiplied them; 17x11=187, the numerical value of the phrase "English alphabet", which he felt confirmed the correctness of the system.[27]

Members of the Hermetic Alchemical Order of the QBLH began to work with the basic cipher. Other Thelemic groups have also adopted it.[28]

William Gray's system[edit]

Another system was proposed by William G. Gray in his 1984 book Concepts of Qabalah,[29] more recently republished as Qabalistic Concepts.[30] This system has been summarized by Joan Schraith Cole[31] and includes correspondence attributions of the English letters to the positions on the Tree of Life.

Trigrammaton Qabalah (TQ)[edit]

One system of English Qabalah with a strong English gematria component was proposed by R. L. Gillis in 1996, and published on his website since 1998.[32] Known as Trigrammaton Qabalah, or TQ, this system is based on one of the Holy Books of Thelema written by Aleister Crowley in 1907, called Liber Trigrammaton, sub figura XXVII -- Being the Book of the Mutations of the Tao with the Yin and the Yang. In Liber Trigrammaton are 27 three-line diagrams known as 'trigrams', which are composed of a solid line representing the Yang, a broken line representing the Yin, and a point representing the Tao. Crowley later attributed the 26 letters of the English alphabet to these trigrams, in an attempt to fulfill an injunction found in his earlier work The Book of the Law, or Liber AL vel Legis. In Liber AL, verse 2:55 states: "Thou shalt obtain the order & value of the English Alphabet, thou shalt find new symbols to attribute them unto". By attributing the English alphabet to the trigrams of his later work, Crowley considered this verse to be fulfilled, as noted in his Old Comment to The Book of the Law.[33] The TQ is an extension of Crowley's work with Liber Trigrammaton. By considering the numerical value of the 27 trigrams as expressions in Base 3, (or ternary), and then transferring those values to the letters attributed by Crowley to the trigrams, a system of English gematria is created. Further use is made of the trigrams to create a true qabalah in the sense of the definition provided by Jake Stratton-Kent above. A primary feature of this qabalah is a new understanding of the Cube of Space and its 26 components.

L=1  C=2  H=3  P=4  A=5  X=6  J=7  W=8  T=9  O=10 G=11 F=12 E=13
R=14 S=15 Q=16 K=17 Y=18 Z=19 B=20 M=21 V=22 D=23 N=24 U=25 I=00

Other systems[edit]

  • Linda Falorio's Liber CXV: The English Qabalah (1978),[34]
  • Michael Bertiaux's Angelic Gematria (1989),
  • David Cherubim's The Key of it All (1996),
  • The English Qabalah of AREXZ 1496 (2001),
  • David Rankine's system of English gematria using prime numbers called Prime Qabalah (2004),
  • Simple English Gematria, Suggestive Gematria by J. P. Hughes (Holmes, 2008)
  • Steve Wilson's English Rose Cabala (c 1985)
  • Frater Infek's four systems of the Gematria of Nothing (c 1995?)
  • Shane Clayton's THE ENGLISH CABALA 111, or 1=A=0 Cipher, writing as Frater Perseverando and/or Nox Cipher (c 1995)


  1. ^ Nema (1995). Maat Magick. Weiser. ISBN 0-87728-827-5
  2. ^ Rabinovitch, James. The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism. Citadel Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8065-2407-3
  3. ^ Hulse, David Allen. The Western Mysteries: An Encyclopedic Guide to the Sacred Languages & Magickal Systems of the World. Llewellyn Publications, 2000. ISBN 1-56718-429-4
  4. ^ The Magical Tarot of the Golden Dawn Chris Zalewski, Pat Zalewski - 2006 The English Kabbalah analysis of the name 'Moon' comes to twentyone (Universe),
  5. ^ Stratton-Kent, Jake (May 1988). "What is a Qabalah?" in The Equinox: British Journal of Thelema, Vol. VII, No. 2, pp. 59–61. ISSN 0953-7015.
  6. ^ Jake Stratton-Kent. "The Book of the Law and Its Qaballah." Kiblah, 1994.
  7. ^ Vincent, Samuel K. (2007) Symposium IV, The English Qabalah
  8. ^ Jake Stratton-Kent, "The Serpent Tongue: Liber 187". UK: Hadean Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-907881-07-7
  9. ^ a b c Dudley, Underwood. Numerology, Or, What Pythagoras Wrought. Cambridge University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-88385-524-0
  10. ^ Walker, Julia. M. Medusa's Mirrors: Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, and the metamorphosis of the female self, pp. 33–42 University of Delaware Press, 1998. ISBN 0-87413-625-3
  11. ^ Bertiaux, Michael. The Voudon Gnostic Workbook. Magickal Childe, 1989. ISBN 0-939708-12-4. Republished as The Voudon Gnostic Workbook: Expanded Edition, p. 82. Weiser, 2007. ISBN 1-57863-339-7
  12. ^ Drury, Nevill (2006). The Watkins Dictionary of Magic. Sterling Publishing Company. ISBN 1-84293-152-0
  13. ^ Rankine, David. Becoming Magick: New & Revised Magicks for the New Aeon. Mandrake, 2004. ISBN 1-869928-81-4
  14. ^ The English Qabalah. Vincent, Samuel K. (2008). Montreal: 8th House Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9809108-0-3
  15. ^ Whitehead, Willis F. The Mystic Thesaurus, Or Initiation in the Theoretical and Practical Secrets of Astral Truth, and Occult Art: The Symbol of the Cross. Original from Harvard University, Digitized November 17, 2005, online at [1]
  16. ^ Eisen, William. The English Cabala. 2 vols. Marina del Rey, Calif.: DeVorss, 1980-82.
  17. ^ Agasha Temple of Wisdom, Inc: Information from Answers.com
  18. ^ Crowley, Aleister. (1988)
  19. ^ Crowley, Aleister. (1974) Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on the Book of the Law 93 Publishing, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  20. ^ Greenfield, Secret cipher of the UFO-nauts, 2005, p 4, 21 & 28.
  21. ^ Lees, James. Discovering the English Qaballa in The 11th Continuum. Retrieved September 26, 2008.
  22. ^ Smith, Carol (1981). "The Key to the English Qaballa" in The New Equinox / British Journal of Magick, Vol. 5, No. 3
  23. ^ Stratton-Kent, Jake (March 1988). "The English Qaballa" in The Equinox: British Journal of Thelema, Vol. VII, No. 1, pp. 17–25. ISSN 0953-7015.
  24. ^ Del Campo, Gerald (2003). New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. Luxor Press. ISBN 1-891948-06-7 (reviewed in Adams, 2003)
  25. ^ John L. Crow. "The New Aeon English Qabalah Dictionary". Marietta, GA: The Luxor Press, 2002. ISBN 1-891948-07-5
  26. ^ a b Smith (1980) quoted in Frater D.T. (1996) and Greenfield (1994), p. 28
  27. ^ Stratton-Kent (March 1988), p. 18
  28. ^ English Qabala: Information from Answers.com
  29. ^ Gray, William G. Concepts of Qabalah. Red Wheel Weiser, 1984. ISBN 0-87728-561-6
  30. ^ Gray, William G. Qabalistic Concepts: Living the Tree. Weiser Books, 1997. ISBN 1-57863-000-2
  31. ^ Summarized in Cole, Joan Schraith (2005). The English Qabalah of WG Gray
  32. ^ Gillis, R.L.. The Book of Mutations
  33. ^ Crowley, Aleister. (1974) Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on the Book of the Law, 93 Publishing, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  34. ^ Falorio, Linda. Liber CXV: The English Qabalah

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