The Hebrew Names of Numbers and Letters
An excerpt from Liber 777's "Explanations of the attributions in the more important columns of tables I-VI"
These columns indicate the principal moral ideas connected with the Sephiroth. The names of the letters indicate rather the pictorial glyph suggested by the shape of the letter. But they also conceal a secondary meaning behind that of the numerical value and the number of the Tarot trump of each. The value of the name of each letter modifies that meaning. For example, Aleph, while principally significant of Zero and Unity, explains itself further by the number 111, the value of the letters פ ל א. That is to say a study of the number 111 enables us to analyze the meaning of the number 1. It indicates, for instance, the trinitarian equation 1 = 3.
Note that the letters Hé and Vau may each be spelt fully in four different ways, corresponding to the four worlds given in column LXIV.
It is to be thoroughly understood that the titles of the Sephiroth make no claim to give anything like a complete description of their nature. The glyphs of the 22 letters have some times a greater, some times a less, importance in elaborating the connotation.
means an Ox, principally because the shape of the letter suggests the shape of a yoke. There is also a reference to the mildness and patience of Harpocrates: indeed, to his sexual innocence. The function of ploughing is clearly the chief idea involved: herein lies a paradox — to be studied in the last act of Parsifal.
is a House, the letter showing the roof, floor, and one wall. It is the dwelling place of man in the world of duality and illusion.
the Camel, reminds us of the position of the Path on the Tree of Life as joining Kether and Tiphereth, and thus the means of travelling through the wilderness of the Abyss.
a Door, refers to the position of the path as joining Chokmah and Binah. It is the gate of the Supernals. Again, it is the letter of Venus; and shows the sexual symbolism. The shape suggests the porch of a doorway, or a porched tent-flap.
a Window, reminds us that Understanding (Hé being the letter of the Mother in Tetragrammaton) is the means by which the Light reaches us. The gap between the two strokes is the window.
a Nail (shape directly hieroglyphic) suggests the fixation of the Supernals in Tiphereth.
a Sword, refers to the attribution of the letter to Gemini, the sign corresponding to intellectual analysis. The Yod above suggests the hilt; that below, the blade.
a Fence. The Cross-bar on the uprights suggests a fence — more properly the Holy Graal.
is a Serpent, as is very obvious from the shape of the letter. The symbol of Leo also resembles the Uraeus. It being the house of the Sun, the idea is to emphasize the identity of the Star and the Snake.
a Hand, indicates the means of action. The doctrine is that the Universe is set in motion by the action of indivisible points (Hadit). The Hand being the symbol of creative and directive energy, is the polite equivalent of Spermatozoon, the true glyph.
the Palm of the hand, is the hub of the wheel from which the force of the 5 elements spring. The reference is particularly to Jupiter and the 10th ATU. The regular form may suggest the fist; the final, the open hand.
an Ox-Goad, is once more principally a matter of shape. There is, in particular, a reference to the relation of Lamed with Aleph, a matter too profound to discuss in this place. It must be studied personally in the light of the Book of the Law and of essays thereon.
Water suggests a wave; a breaker by its initial or medial form, and still water by its final form. In this single case, the actual meaning of the word is identical with the Yetziratic attribution of the letter. Note that the letter NUN, meaning fish, is not attributed to Pisces but to Scorpio.
a Fish, is that which lives and moves in the water: which is here a symbol of death. It therefore indicates the forces of Scorpio, generation through putrefaction. The final form suggests a tadpole.
a Prop, refers to the fact that the path connects Tiphereth with Yesod and therefore serves to connect Microprosopus with his foundation. The shape may suggest a pillow, or a stone, to be thrust under some object.
an Eye, refers to the meatus. This explains the application of Capricornus to the 15th ATU. The shape may suggest the two eyes and the nose.
a Mouth, is explained by the shape of the letter. The Yod represents the tongue.
a Fish Hook, is also an obvious matter of shape.
the Back of the Head. The shape is fairly suggestive.
a Head reversed. The seat of human consciousness, which is Solar, pertaining to Tiphereth, is in the head. Resh is the Solar letter. In shape it is merely a big Yod, implying the brain as the expansion of the Spermatozoon.
a Tooth, plainly exhibits the three fangs of a molar. It is also a glyph of the triple tongue of flame, the letter being referred to the element of Fire. The suggestion of devouring, eating, or eating into, is also given. The idea of the ternary shown by the three Yods is borne out by the value of the letter, 300. Yet the letter being one letter, the doctrine of the Trinity is implied. Hence its secondary attribution to the element of Spirit. It is also a glyph of the God SHU, whose head and arms, separating SEB and NUIT, form the letter. This connects it with the fire of the last Judgment (ATU XX). I may here note that SHU is the God of air and not of fire, of the firmament that separates Earth and Heaven; so that part of the idea of the letter is to establish a link between the ideas of fire and air, the two active elements. There is a similar connection between Mem and Tau. The 12th ATU shows a man hanging from a cross, which is the meaning of Tau.
a Tau or Cross symbolizes the element of Earth as a solidification of the four elements. There is also a phallic meaning, whence Tau is attributed not only to Earth, but to Saturn. Tau was originally written cruciform.
I may supplement the above remarks by saying that they make clear that there is no such apodeictic connection between the letters as between the numbers. The meanings are in many cases little more than indications of certain lines on which meditation may be profitably pushed.