Thursday, 20 April 2023

Angelic Alphabet of Solomon

 My interest in magic and talismans changed drastically around age 16 or 17. Back then, I had no internet, no books in English, no phone, no nothing. I found a very kind lady in another city that was quite versed in tarot and kabalah and wrote to her and she was my first teacher: Tamara Brumaru. I cannot express my gratitude to her even to this day. It was a time before email, so i d send her real paper letters, and every time she would reply with a thick envelope. 

Inside were 5 to 10 pages of writing and on the back, mysterious talismans from a weird website, TwilightGrotto, which became EsotericArchives, and, full of alchemical imagery. 

The first time my mind was blown is when I received a print out on large paper of the Virga Aurea treatise. 

This began my life-long journey in studying, decoding, deconstructing talismans and diagrams, which lead me to my current project, of gather all possible instances of magical alphabets, either from print or manuscripts. 

This is a first sample of my study, which will manifest into a book eventually if people will be interested in. 

My current slice of study would be only the angelic alphabets or ”charakteres”-like scripts, easily recognisable by their final ring shapes, also called ”au lunettes” or ”letters with glasses”. 

One of these alphabets was presented by Hepburn in his Virga Aurea treatise, and looked a lot like the scripts of Agrippa, but was none of them preciselly: The Brahmanic Script. One of my issues was not being able to isolate the shapes because of the low resolution crop from the website, and I was to give up, yet something told me that if I were to ask, I was to receive. I wrote to mister McLean and of course, he sent me a high resultion scan of this wonderful script: 

With this occasion I would like to thank him wholeheartedly for the wealth of information he has put out through the decades, selflessly and tirelessly. He is, indeed, one of my role models. 

Back to out alphabet, each one has a biblical passage appended, with a circular firgure written out in this alphabet. About this issue, perhaps another time. 

My desire is to isolate all examples of these alphabets, bring them to a similar size, arrage them in the Hebrew order and systematise the whole thing, so you can find my rendition below:

1. The Virga Aurea: Brahmanic Script (1616)

The first thing that is obvious with this alphabet is the mis-titling. Brahmans have never used such an alphabet on acount of two things: 1. They have their own script, namely Devanagari 2. They are not a semitic people, so an alphabet based on the Hebrew alphabet would be quite out of place. 

Does this script appear in any other Treatises? 

Why thanks for asking, yes it does. 

In 1799, Edmund Fry publishes his masterpiece called Pantographia, with over 200 alphabets culled from every corner of the typographical world. We can find this script on page 144, superbly rendered as Hebrew alphabet number 3:  

2. Fry: Hebrew 3 (1799)

The first thing we notice is that it is indeed recognised as Hebrew. The second thing is that Hepburn s versio has three Pe letters, presumably one initial and one final, with an extra variant, and Fry`s version only has one, the last.  The Zayin is chanhed as well, the Mem appears to have a middle break, the Nun appears quite different and the Resh is quite similar to the Lamed. Overall, small cosmetic enhancements. But what does he say about it:

Hebrew 2 and 3.
These two alphabets are attributed to King Solomon, by Theseus Ambrosius, in his `Appendice des differentes lettres, et des differentes langues`; but he does not offer any authority. He also asserts, that that prince had many treatises written in them, of which, Apollonius Thianeus was the translator and commentator. Duret, p. 132
All of a sudden, a wealth of information. We have this Duret fellow where he copied the alphabet directly from, we have another source, Theseus Ambrosius, and he have a mythical story, that it was used by King Solomon in his books that were translated by Apollonius of Tyana. 

Who`s Duret?  Claude Duret (c. 1570–1611) was a French judge and magistrate who was very interested in botany, natural sciences, languages and of course, alphabets. In 1613 he published a work called Thrésor de l'histoire des langues de cest univers [...] where this alphabet is featured on page 131, along with the other alphabet of Solomon. 

original Duret engraving

I will not go into the same detail on Duret`s text but it suffices to say that the information presented by Fry is basically the same, attributing it to Salomon via Apollonius, through Theseus Ambrosius. 

3. Duret: The Second Alphabet of Solomon (1613)

From the forms of the letters Zayin, Mem and Nun we can conclude that indeed Duret was the inspiration for Fry, despite the missing characters, but not for Hepburn.

So who is this Ambrosius character? 
Theseus Ambrosius  (1469–1540) or rather Teseo Ambrogio degli Albonesi was a very interestig character, Italian humanist, linguist, mystic and Christian kabbalist. In 1539 he published a groundbreaking work on semitic languages, Introductio in Chaldaicam linguam, Syriacam, atque Armenicam, & decem alias linguas
On pages 203-204, he writes about the two alphabets that the other authors cite:

`Ex varijs praeterea qui Solomoni attribuuntur libris, & interprete eius Apollonio infrascriptos literarum characteres, & Hebraeorum alphabeta desumpsimus.
Non mireris charissime lector, si in hoc alphabeto , tria Phe & duo Zadich scripta inuniuntur , ita enim in libro vnde sumpta funt eodemque in ordine reperiuntur.`

4.Ambrosius: Second alphabet of Solomon (1539)

From various other books that are attributed to Solomon and his interpreter, Apollonius, we took the following letter characters and Hebrew letters below.
Do not wonder, beloved reader, if in this alphabet we find three Phes and two Zadichs, for thus they are found in the book from whence they were taken, in the same order.`

From exactly what book of Solomon, translated by Apollonius of Tyana, these alphabets could have come to Ambrosius, we know not.  But considering that most of Hepburn`s alphabets are contained in his work, we can safely assumed that Ambrosius was the source of the Virga Aurea.