Friday, September 23, 2011

A Legendary Priest-King and a Geometric Design

I marvel at how people simply "buy" into the most preposterous rubbish, and it would seem they actually relish being led by the nose. I have lost count of the number of times correspondents have tried to convince me of the verity of the most blatant nonsense, by informing me that "it is the absolute truth" since they have seen it written "in black and white." In the current instance it was on Wikipedia, which my correspondent maintained is "a most reliable resource." As it is, Wikipedia certainly offers information but can hardly be construed trustworthy. In numerous instances this resource is dishing up the biggest boloney as fact.
I am presently specifically referring to the ramblings of an individual who styles himself the direct descendent of the biblical Melchizedek, and who claims grand galactic origins, and an equally grand design for himself. Of course, this character is certainly not the first amongst a number of 20th century would-be "messiahs," who have commandeered and abused the identity of the legendary biblical Priest-King. However, he is apparently the first to have misappropriated an ancient, simple, and very popular geometric design, newly styled the "flower of life," to which he assigned a lot of browbeating pseudo-scientific twaddle. It would seem that subsequently all and sundry are satisfied to dance merrily to the crazy rhythms of this off-beat tune!
Now, the image in question is generally known as the six-petalled rosette, a most popular geometric design employed in legal documents like Jewish Ketubot [marriage agreements]; Hebrew amulets; etc. In fact, it is the simplest geometric design which can be drawn with any flat circular object. I constructed it when I was six years old with the aid of a lid of a canned fruit bottle, and was very proud of my "discovery" only to be later greatly disappointed at my lack of originality, when the very same image was shown to me in published format.
As it is, the design in question is widely used in traditional folk art, some even calling it a "hex" sign. It was also extensively carved on ancient Middle Eastern ossuaries, as well as employed in a variety of Hebrew amulets, and as a decorative design in illuminated manuscripts, etc. It appears in both the most simple format, and in more complex and expanded versions as shown in the examples below: or or
As hinted at above, throughout the ages the popularity of these designs is due to the fact that the basic image is easily drawn with any circular object, i.e. the edge of a cup, etc. Researching its inclusion in Hebrew amulets, I have recently perused various examples of its uses in the arts and crafts of Kurdistani Jews, including in magical items like amulets. These people refered to this item as a Chabusa, i.e. a "quince" design. The Hebrew for the quince-fruit is chabush, which the Kurdistanis thought this image represented. Others referred to it as an "apple" design, and others still thought it representative of a lily, the six-petalled Shoshan on which it has been claimed the "Magen David" (Shield of David) is based. In fact, the design in question and the hexagram often complemented each other on the walls of ancient synagogues, like the famous one of Kfar Nachum (Capernaum); or the synagogue of Kfar Shura near Rosh Pina in Israel; etc.
So, in contrast to the many fanciful notions regarding the derivation of the six-petalled rosette, its origins are really quite simple and far removed from all the fictitious "extraterrestrial" jabber.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Psalm 45:4 [5] and the Amulet for Success

In addressing the "Amulet for Success" from the Sefer Raziel, I failed to mention that Psalms 45:4 [5], the verse associated with the amulet in question, was itself reconstituted into a set of ten Divine Names employed to enhance or expand, as it were, the "powers of success" in amulets constructed for financial matters, or as an additional aid to furthering success in business. The original verse reads:
va-hadarcha tz'lach r'chav al d'var emet va-an'vah tzedek v'torcha nora'ot y'mincha
"And in thy majesty prosper, ride on, in behalf of truth and meekness and righteousness; and let thy right hand teach thee tremendous things."
The Divine Names constructed from this verse are:
As you probably noticed, the first letters of the ten Divine Names, read in the normative manner, incorporate the first two words of the verse and the first two letters of the third word. Next, reversing the flow, i.e. commencing with the second letter of the tenth Name, then reading backwards the second letters of the other Names and working upwards towards the first Name, will offer us the concluding letter of the third word, the fourth, fifth and sixth words of the verse in question, as well as the first letter of the seventh word. Continuing the flow by reversing direction again and reading the third letter of each Name back down to that of the tenth Name, will in turn provide the remainder of the seventh word, the eighth word, and the first three letters of ninth word. Finally, reversing the flow once again and reading the fourth letters of the ten Divine Names backwards and upwards, we are presented with the last two letters as well as the concluding two words of Psalm 45:4 [5].
This is certainly one of the most interesting ways, amongst the many employed in the construction of highly specialised Divine Names from unique Biblical verses.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

An Amulet for Success

A while back I had a query regarding the Hebrew terms appearing in the following "Kamea for Success" from the Sefer Razi'el (Book of Raziel). This amulet is employed to improve financial earnings, and, with Divine support, to have great success in all manner of negotiations. The biblical phrase associated with this Kamea is Psalms 45:4 [5] reading:
va-hadarcha tz'lach r'chav al d'var emet va-an'vah tzedek v'torcha nora'ot y'mincha
"And in thy majesty prosper, ride on, in behalf of truth and meekness and righteousness; and let thy right hand teach thee tremendous things."
The appropriate word in this verse is (Tzelach), translated "prosper" in the English Bible however it also means "succeed" which is the fundamental intention behind this amulet. In fact, the Kamea construct comprises mainly the word (Tzelach) and some permutations of the same, e.g. top left and twice located bottom right and left. In this regard it should be noted that writing permutations of words representing vital components of the basic intention of the individual requiring an amulet, is fairly common in Hebrew amulets.
Besides the term Tzelach and its permutations, we note the combination (Yah) which is an acknowledged abbreviation of the Ineffable Name, and a Divine Name in itself. The double YH appearing in the amulet could be read conjointly, i.e. Yiyeh meaning "will be." As you probably noticed, there are also two adjacent letters (Alef) positioned centrally, and separated by a short vertical line with a circle on top which divides the amulet in half. I do not recall these two letters Alef in the amulet being always read conjointly. However I was informed they are in fact abbreviations of Hebrew words. As it is, there are literally thousands of abbreviations in the Hebrew language, especially in Rabbinical and Hebrew spiritual literature. In fact, there are so many, that the average individual who speaks Hebrew as his or her mother tongue, is unfamiliar with most of them. So, if we read the double combination as a Hebrew abbreviation, it could have a number of meanings, depending on context, e.g. Amen Amen; Adonai Elohecha (Lord your God); Ani Omer (I say); etc. In the current instance the abbreviation could well mean Amen Amen, but I have also been told that each of these letters in combination with the first two letters of the Ineffable Name repeated in the amulet, are hidden references to the Sacred Name (Ehyeh).
The bottom portion of the Amulet comprises three images of the "Shield of David," on each of which are superimposed the four letters comprising the Ineffable Name, as well as the Name (Shadai). As noted in my "Book of Sacred Names," the latter Divine Name refers to the "All-sufficient Unlimited One," and that whilst there has been a lot of debate and speculation as to what this very ancient Divine Name really signifies, "it is generally accepted that it means 'Almighty'," and that "some scholars conjectured that the Name was derived from Shadu, the ancient Akkadian word meaning 'mountain.' Thus the 'Almighty' would be seen to be strong, fortified, immutable....." As it is, the "power of protection" is associated with this name, hence it appears in many written Kame'ot.
Be that as it may, there is a set of Divine Names affiliated with this "Amulet for Success" we are addressing, the one given in the printed text of the Sefer Raziel being:
A very different version appears in the Sefer Refa'el ha-Malach (Book of the Angel Rafael), and I am informed that there are equally variantions to be found in the various manuscripts of the Sefer Razi'el. Moses Zacutto, who examined all sources of this amulet, maintained in the Sefer Shorshei ha-Shemot the correct Names to be:
According to Moses Zacutto these Names are vocalised:
Sanamav'ra T'gaf B'rar Zag M'chav Y'ded S'zah'san Tete S'dos'v'ra Hosvakos'd' Idi'heva
A most pleasing incantation is included with the amulet. It reads:
Y'hi ratzon milfanecha YHVH Elohei Yisra'el shet'tzaveh l'mal'achecha elu lavo el bet [fill in name of individual] v'lalechet imo v'yatzlichu oto bis'chorato uv'chol ma'aseh yadav b'hatzlachah uv'har'vachah g'dolah bein ba-yom bein ba-lailah bein ba-bayit being b'chutz la-bayit bein ba-ir being b'chutz la-ir v'shimcha v'chotamcha ha-kadosh yar'chivu b'ma'asav uv'veito v'hatzlichu li-[fill in name of individual] Omein Selah
"May it be your will YHVH Elohei Yisra'el, to command your angels to visit the house of [fill in name of individual], to accompany him, to make him successful with all his endeavours, and bring success in all his actions [works of his hands], and great expansion [growth], whether by day, whether at night; whether at home, whether outside of the house; whether in the city, whether outside of the city; and in Your Name and with Your Holy Seal magnify his actions, and expand his house, and bring success to [fill in name of individual] Amen Selah."
I was told that the entire construct, i.e. the biblical verse, the set of Divine Names, the amulet image, as well as the incantation, should be written on a "kosher parchment," traditionally deerskin. It works equally well when written on a clean sheet of good quality white paper. Afterwards the completed Kamea is carried on the left side of the individual for whom the amulet was written.