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English Qaballa

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English Qaballa (EQ) is a system of Hermetic Qabalah, supported by a system of arithmancy that interprets the letters of the English alphabet via an assigned set of values, discovered by James Lees in 1976. It is the result of an intent to understand, interpret, and elaborate on the mysteries of Aleister Crowley's received text, Liber AL vel Legis, the Book of the Law. According to Jake Stratton-Kent, "the English Qaballa is a qabalah and not a system of numerology. A qabalah is specifically related to three factors: one, a language; two, a 'holy' text or texts; three, mathematical laws at work in these two."[1][2]

This system has also been referred to as the ALW cipher, New Aeon English Qabalah or NAEQ by other writers.[3][4]



The practice of using alphabetic letters to represent numbers developed in the Greek city of Miletus, and is thus known as the Milesian system.[5] Early examples include vase graffiti dating to the 6th century BCE.[6] Aristotle wrote that the Pythgoraean tradition, founded in the 6th century by Pythagoras of Samos, practiced isopsephy,[7] the Greek predecessor of Hebrew gematria. Pythagoras was a contemporary of the philosophers Anaximander, Anaximenes, and the historian Hecataeus, all of whom lived in Miletus, across the sea from Samos.[8] The Milesian system was in common use by the reign of Alexander the Great (336–323 BCE) and was adopted by other cultures during the subsequent Hellenistic period.[5] It was officially adopted in Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (284–246 BCE).[5]

The first system of English gematria was used by the poet John Skelton in 1523 in his poem "The Garland of Laurel".[9] In 1532, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa defined an analogue of the Greek system of isopsephy in his work De Occulta Philosopha. Agrippa based his system on the order of the Classical Latin alphabet, appending the four additional letters in use at the time after Z, including the still-in-use letters J (600), U (700), and W (900).[10] Agrippa was the mentor of English magician John Dee,[11] who makes reference to the Agrippa code in Theorem XVI of his 1564 book, Monas Hieroglyphica.[12] Other variations are detailed in Underwood Dudley's Numerology, Or, What Pythagoras Wrought.[13]

The mysterious 'grid' page of Liber AL's manuscript. "for in the chance shape of the letters and their position to one another: in these are mysteries that no Beast shall divine. ... Then this line drawn is a key: then this circle squared in its failure is a key also. And Abrahadabra."

In 1904, Aleister Crowley wrote out in English the text of the foundational document of his world-view, known as Liber AL vel Legis, 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" which was understood by Crowley as referring to an English Qabalah yet to be developed or revealed.[14]

Order and value


The "order & value"[15] discovered by James Lees lays the letters out on the grid superimposed on the page of manuscript of Liber AL on which this verse (Ch. III, v. 47) appears (sheet 16 of Chapter III).[15] Also appearing on this page are a diagonal line and a circled cross. The Book of the Law states that the book should only be printed with Crowley's hand-written version included, suggesting that there are mysteries in the "chance shape of the letters and their position to one another" of Crowley's handwriting. Whichever top-left to bottom-right diagonal is read the magickal order of the letters is obtained.[16] 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



Calculation and comparison


The first method of English Qaballa is simple arithmancy with a numerical dictionary. The value of the word, phrase, or sentence is calculated and the resulting value is looked up in a numerical dictionary,[17] an example of which may be found in an appendix of Thompson (2016). For example, the value of the word 'Jesus' is 68; other words with this value are 'life' and 'change'. The meaning of these 'word collisions' must be determined by the individual qaballist.[17]

Initial and final letters


The second method is to calculate the value of the first letters of a phrase or sentence, and also the value of the last letters of the phrase. As with the first method, the resulting values are then looked up and utilized in the same manner. This analysis is intended to indicate how a process indicated by the phrase will begin and how it will end.[17]

Reversal yields the reward


The third method is reversing the digits in the value of a word. This method is based on Liber AL III:1 "Abrahadabra! The reward of Ra Hoor Khut." In this example, 'Ra Hoor Khut' sums to 97, and 'Abrahadabra' sums to 79. Thus the verse provides its own example of how the reward may be calculated.[17]

Counting well


The method of 'counting well' involves two words and is represented by the symbol '%'.[17] To 'count well' the value of two words is to multiply the value of the first word by the number of letters in the second word and vice versa, then sum the two values thus obtained.[18] Thus 'Jesus % Christ' yields (68 x 6) + (81 x 5) = 408 + 405 = 813. As with the first method, the resulting value is then looked up and interpreted in a similar manner.[17]

Other methods


A fourth method involves summing the word progressively (e.g. 'word' yields 'w' = 3, 'wo' = 10, 'wor' = 22, and 'word' = 28). These successive values are then interpreted as a sequence which may elucidate the meaning of the word. A fifth method is to divide word into two or more parts, then sum each part separately, again producing a sequence of numbers to be interpreted. The sixth method is to replace a word with other words of the same value in a sentence or verse in order to clarify the meaning of the word in that specific context.[17]



Initial discovery


The first report of the system known as English Qaballa (EQ) was published in 1979 by Ray Sherwin in an editorial in the final issue of his journal, The New Equinox. In his editorial, Sherwin reported that the "order & value of the English Alphabet"[15] had been discovered by an English magician, James Lees, in November 1976.[19] Lees subsequently assumed the role of publisher of The New Equinox and, starting in 1981, published additional material about the EQ system over the course of five issues of the journal, extending into 1982.[19] The first software designed to perform textual analysis of Liber AL and the other Holy Books of Thelema was written in 1984-5 by Trevor Langford.[16] Langford subsequently worked with Jake Stratton-Kent on The Equinox: British Journal of Thelema, in which further original material on EQ was summarized by Stratton-Kent in the March 1988 issue.[16]

Solution to Liber AL II:76


Early on, Jim Lees also discovered the first proof of the system.[17] In the original handwritten text, the string of letters and numbers in the 76th verse of the second chapter is divided into two lines, the first ending with "Y" and the second beginning with "X". Jake 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.[20]

4 6 3 8 A B K 2 4 A L G M O R 3 Y X 24 89 R P S T O V A L. What meaneth this, o prophet? Thou knowest not; nor shalt thou know ever. There cometh one to follow thee: he shall expound it. But remember, o chosen one, to be me; to follow the love of Nu in the star-lit heaven; to look forth upon men, to tell them this glad word.[21]

In 1988, Stratton-Kent described his discovery of this solution. He wrote:

When I first had my attention drawn to the existence of a purported English Qabala, my first reaction as a qabalist was to use it on this meaningless string of digits and characters. I converted all the letters into their numerical equivalents in the E.Q., and added them to the numbers in the series.[20]

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 says,

There are seventeen numbers and letters in the first line and eleven in the second ... but in the manuscript the 'X' at the beginning of line two looks like a multiplication symbol, so I made this calculation; 17x11=187, the numerical value of the phrase ENGLISH ALPHABET.[20]

21st century


Little, if any, further material on English Qaballa was published until the appearance of Jake Stratton-Kent's book, The Serpent Tongue: Liber 187, in 2011.[3] This was followed in 2016 by The Magickal Language of the Book of the Law: An English Qaballa Primer by Cath Thompson.[17] An account of the discovery, exploration, and continuing research and development of the system up to 2010, by James Lees and members of his group in England, is detailed in her 2018 book, All This and a Book.[22]



In 2020, Lon Milo DuQuette wrote "[...] I cannot hide my personal enthusiasm concerning the English Qaballa [...] and marvelous work being done by Jake Stratton-Kent and others who are continuing to develop and enrich it. They deserve the admiration and thanks of every student of modern magick."[23]

See also






Works cited

  • Acevedo, J. (2020). Alphanumeric Cosmology from Greek Into Arabic: The Idea of Stoicheia Through the Medieval Mediterranean. Germany: Mohr Siebeck. ISBN 978-3161592454.
  • Agrippa von Nettesheim, Heinrich Cornelius (1993). Tyson, Donald (ed.). Three Books of Occult Philosophy. Translated by James Freake. Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 978-0875428321.
  • Collier, Wren; Keith, Alynne (n.d.). "About NAEQ". naeq.io. Retrieved 2020-02-19.
  • Crowley, Aleister (1974). Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on the Book of the Law. Montreal: 93 Publishing.
  • Crowley, Aleister (2004). The Book of the Law: Liber Al Vel Legis. Red Wheel Weiser. ISBN 978-1-57863-308-1.
  • Dee, John (1975). The Hieroglyphic Monad. Translated by J. W. Hamilton-Jones. Weiser Books. ISBN 1-57863-203-X.
  • Dudley, Underwood (1997). Numerology, Or, What Pythagoras Wrought. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-88385-524-0.
  • DuQuette, Lon Milo (2020). Allow Me to Introduce: An Insider's Guide to the Occult. Red Wheel/Weiser. ISBN 978-1-57863-654-9.
  • Halsey, W., ed. (1967). "Numerals and systems of numeration". Collier's Encyclopedia.
  • Jeffrey, L. (1961). The Local Scripts of Archaic Greece. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Lees, James (2018). Thompson, Cath (ed.). The New Equinox: The British Journal of Magick. Hadean Press Limited. ISBN 978-1-907881-77-0.
  • Mostofizadeh, Kambiz (2012). Magic as Science and Religion: John Dee and Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa. Mikazuki.
  • Riedweg, Christoph (2005) [2002]. Pythagoras: His Life, Teachings, and Influence. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-7452-1.
  • Stratton-Kent, Jake (1986). "Counting Well". The Equinox: British Journal of Thelema. V (1). ISSN 0953-7015.
  • Stratton-Kent, Jake (March 1988). "The English Qaballa". The Equinox: British Journal of Thelema. VII (1): 17–25. ISSN 0953-7015.
  • Stratton-Kent, Jake (May 1988b). "What is a Qabalah?". The Equinox: British Journal of Thelema. VII (2): 59–61. ISSN 0953-7015.
  • Stratton-Kent, Jake (2011). The Serpent Tongue: Liber 187. UK: Hadean Press. ISBN 978-1-907881-07-7.
  • Thompson, Cath (2016). The Magickal Language of the Book of the Law: An English Qaballa Primer. Hadean Press Limited. ISBN 978-1-907881-68-8.
  • Thompson, Cath (2018). All This and a Book. Hadean Press Limited. ISBN 978-1-907881-78-7.
  • Walker, Julia. M. (1998). Medusa's Mirrors: Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, and the Metamorphosis of the Female Self. University of Delaware Press. ISBN 0-87413-625-3.

Further reading