Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Personal Squares and Incantations

A while back I received a query from an individual who asked about the practical Kabbalistic techniques involving the construction of magic squares and incantations on complete Hebrew phrases, and whether such can be employed for personal reasons, e.g. for the proverbial health, wealth and happiness. There are actually many such magic squares in the primary literature of Practical Kabbalah, like for example this one which was created for protection: In order to decipher the Hebrew words used here, one has to read the first letters in each box (starting with the right letter in the top right box, then reading from right to left the rightmost letter in each box), followed by all the second letters, then read the third letters, and lastly repeat the procedure with all the fourth letters. The hidden phrase will then be revealed as being:
EHYeH YHVH ADoNaY Yislach Ezrecha Mikodesh (Psalm 20:3 [4]) Yishmar'cha mikol ra Y"Sh (Psalm 121:7) Yishmor Tzet'cha Uvo'echa (Psalm 121:8)
This translates "Ehyeh YHVH Adonai, May He send thine aid from holiness, may He protect thee from all evil, blessed be His Name, may He protect thy going forth and coming in."
This magic square is now an amulet which might not only be written on paper, but also inscribed on a silver square, both of which can be worn on ones person, e.g. affixed to a chain around the upper arm; as a pendant on a chain; etc., or rolled up inside a special kamea holder which is carried on ones person in a similar way.
However, our querant asked about this magic square being used as an incantation, which is also addressed in the extensive magical literature of Practical Kabbalah. For example, each of the letters in the above example are pronounced in a special manner. Moses Zacutto addressed these in his Shorshei ha-Shemot, indicating the pronunciation of the "words" in this specific kamea to be: Each group of four letters in each box is a "magical word," and the entire phrase comprises twelve such four letter words, which I believe should be uttered rhythmically, without pause, for maximum impact on ones own body, mind and soul. It is after all in ones own being where the real "sacred contact" is made, which will work the desired effect. The suggested incantation would sound something like this:
Combining this with a circular stomping dance could make for a formidable magical activity, something similar to the way the Native Americans stomp and chant. Of course, this action is not mentioned in the magical texts, but ritual dancing is not absent in Judaism — think of Simchat Torah, or the Biblical reference to King David dancing naked in front of the Ark of the Covenant! You might also look at the interesting circumambulation practices discussed by Gershon Winkler in his "Magic of the Ordinary."
Now, my querant mentioned that he thought of doing this entire procedure with his own name and a couple of "words of power," and enquired whether I could come up with a few suggestions. I thought this a fair idea, since there is certainly no absence of personal names and quite straightforward "power phrases" in the great number of Hebrew/Aramaic amulets and talismans which have been preserved in special collections around the globe. In fact, it should be relatively easy to construct a personal kamea in exactly the format we have been discussing, and work out an appropriate incantation on the same lines as well. Following this specific query, I have included an analysis of a number of Hebrew amulets in "The Book of Sacred Names," the second volume in "The Shadow Tree Series."

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