A series of discussions on Gematria and language at a forum
"My confusion/concern/whatever is more along the lines of understanding it."
My views on Gematria aren't overly positive, but I'll let 'em rip here just so several sides of the issue get voiced. (If nothing else, I'll possibly learn something as a result of bouncing my current thoughts/opinions off others.)
The problem I found with Gematria was that I'd spent nearly all my time seeking out the hidden meanings within words and trivial phrases in English and Hebrew until finally I realized how much time I'd wasted just sitting on my butt scribbling with an ink pen. All that writing and pondering didn't amount to causing any real change outside of myself. It didn't accomplish anything in the physical realm (or even much on astral levels for that matter). Coming to sudden realizations about my own inner mental junk is all very well and fine (and expected as among the necessary steps of the path), but other than that, what use was Gematria, I thought, if it couldn't be applied in order to actually DO something?
After the initial meditative benefits of number working (e.g. the suspension of the rational/logical mind) ceased to provide any further forms of increased understanding of myself or my world (via forms of free association), it all degenerated into little more than wasteful mental masturbation. What I realized in working with other practitioners who specialized in energy work was that magick is a psychic activity first and foremost. Everything else is just a tool to assist in the manipulation of energy and consciousness for the purpose of creating change (whether internally or externally of one's immediate consciousness) in conformity with the Will. Some people use number adding/subtracting/factoring and letter permutation to accomplish the desired changes in their consciousness, while others don't. Clearly, Gematria and various forms of numerology are not requirements for effective magick, but if you happen to like them and they work for you then that's all that matters. I haven't bothered with any form of number working in at least 5 years now, and I haven't found that I've been lacking in any way in my practices or their results.
If you do get into various forms of number/letter working, you will probably find that each person has his/her own personal system. Sometimes they're so different as to appear to be a completely foreign language. The mistake, I feel, is when people begin to see the results of their symbolic number/letter work as being true for all people. That's when it leaves the realm of 'useful tool for the enhancement/change of consciousness' and begins to teeter upon delusional fantasy. (I can't count how many Aleister Crowley's I've seen over the past few years running around spouting off about how Us=Them=All=Nothing=Dogshit and why they've attained the level of Magus Exemptus Intergalactus because they alone understand the secret formula of d = 22/7*r2 in the mystical/sexual sense.)
"Are there any resources for gematria that either pre-date Crowley's work with it, or are contemporary with him...or even new to our 'generations'?"
You can try Jewish Kabbalistic sources for info that would predate Crowley. There were plenty of Kabbalists in the Renaissance who wrote books on letter permutation and number working, but most all of it is in Hebrew or works with the Hebrew alphabet. Go to your local bookstore and read some of Aryeh Kaplan's and Gershom Scholem's books for free, and check out their bibliographies to see their sources for further leads. I'm not familiar with many modern-day sources of Gematria since I don't bother with it (most of it ends up looking like some childish game to me so I usually avoid it), but I'm sure there are a few people in this club who can tell you more about it.
One last thought: I may not care much for the forms of Gematria I've used and been exposed to in the past, but it occurred to me just a moment ago that there is one form of it that I don't mind and can actually see some purpose for; namely, the uncovering of deliberately coded information within ancient Hebrew texts (so long as it doesn't require stretching the imagination beyond the parameters of practical usefulness in order to try to see relationships between words with equivalent numerical values that the original coders might never have intended). I can see how it may be possible that certain groups/schools of mystical practice in the past would have coded their information within texts and that the only way to uncover it would be to make use of codes/ciphers and letter/number manipulation.
"Whilst correspondences may be shown by using gematria,"
One of my biggest arguments with modern uses of Gematria IS the idea of correspondences. Virtually anything can be said to correspond to anything, so long as you believe it does. Just because I choose to represent storm clouds with emotional turbulence, the letter H, and the number 5.079, who's to say nay? Since the universe is Mental in substance and function (from the viewpoint of the 'All' - to quote the Kybalion), personal belief, preferably when formulated through experience, is all that really matters anyway. As a magickian, one of the tools of the trade is making use of symbols and correspondences to unite thoughts/feelings/ideas together into quickly digestible chains of association, or using them as means for connecting your psyche with certain levels of consciousness much like tuning in a radio. Your thoughts/feelings/energy can be made use of while directed by a system of correspondences to produce a desirable effect. Some people like to have that feeling of stability/solidity when they function entirely within a given set of airtight correspondences a.k.a. a 'system'. Granted, a system as such will tend to produce more results than none at all, but part of the effectiveness of a system is that you believe in it and are able to use it to get over the hurdle of disbelief long enough to pour your energy into the desired goal. It directs your psychic energy and distracts (or perhaps reassures) your intellect long enough to get the job done - by "job" I mean the use of energy and consciousness to create change in reality, both internally and/or externally of one's immediate consciousness.
For me, "System" = A tool of direction for your intellect so that emotional and intuitive levels of consciousness may be tapped into more efficiently, and/or simply an established and proven way of getting something done. (In the case of magick, one person's system is sometimes another's impediment.) A system is by no means an end within itself, nor is it always unchangeable or mutually interchangeable with systems in use by other people.
"it also has its more practical applications, especially in English Qaballah"
Regarding the English Qabalah, I have to say that I've been down that road in the past - it was one of the um…what I termed "wasteful" preoccupations I mentioned previously, and it took the work of one very gifted man to break me of that habit. When I showed my English Qabalah work to him, his first response was "what's this shit?" Over the next 2 years he proceeded to show me what pure psychic talent can accomplish on a moment's notice - without tools and props of any kind (it scared the crap out of me!). I apologize to anyone who might find my opinion rather offensive on this topic, but that's why I now find most forms of Gematria rather childish unless they're used as tools (to direct/focus energy work) and understood for what they are, rather than being relied upon as forms of 'testing' or analysing reality with hopes of objective accuracy. Intellectual activities by themselves rarely compare with direct experience of the energy template that underlies physical reality.
In support of some aspects of Gematria (the ones that deal with developing a personal language of symbols), I will say that having a well-developed and flexible personal language of symbols allows other entities to communicate with you more easily, and makes for easier self-analysis. The main problem I mentioned before that I have with some people is when they start confusing their 'maps' for the 'territory' and mistaking their personal symbolic language for objective reality and/or as being identical with the subjective realities of other people.
"The numbers in this grid can then be converted into syllables to create a specific invocation for the original words in a manner not too dissimilar to Enochian."
Let's not forget that Enochian isn't just a bunch of meaningless sounds meant to lull your mind into a stupor - it's also a language that appears to have more to do with the expression of pure thought rendered into language form rather than normal forms of physical vocal communication. Each Enochian letter seems to tap into an infinite sphere of associated ideas, while each sentence of each Key contains multiple layers of interpretation as such. Unfortunately, most everything you find will be subjective as far as interpretation goes, but practical invocation work is noticeably more effective when making use of Enochian entities/forces - even without the long conjurations.
"And finally, the numbers within the grid can be sigillized, forming a focus for talismatic workings. (The end result is a sigil that seems to combine the best elements of classic GD sigils, AO Spare and Voudun veves)."
As far as the Kamea idea you mentioned goes, I agree. It can be useful in that manner -definitely similar in essence to Spare's techniques of sigilization in some ways. But then, a similar result might be obtained by some with less effort by simply drawing a random figure in the sand and charging it with intent, or concentrating on the non-verbal essence/feeling of a word/concept and using that for purposes of invocation (the feeling of the essence would be used as an astral/psychic target) while expressing it verbally with a guttural growl - vibrating the thought/essence/feeling with the growl in a manner similar to normal vibration of god names would probably assist too. In my way of thinking, going through all the effort of making the kamea etc. would seem like the intellectually long way around of accomplishing a goal, unless I was doing it as a supplement to an on-going multiple-session working and/or wanted to set up a tool that could be left on its own to work when I'm not thinking about it consciously.
For the heck of it, here's how my mind automatically interprets the reasoning behind the effectiveness of the technique of kamea/sigilization you just mentioned. That might give you an idea of how I examine and interpret things, and maybe clear up a few things about my own methods and views:
In my view, the English letters don't necessarily correspond with any numbers unless a person chooses to believe they do and acts accordingly while making use of the letters/numbers as tools. In essence, letters and numbers are just symbols - they and their attributed vocal sounds have inherent effects upon energy to an extent, but they can also be made to do pretty much anything you want so long as you charge them with your intent to do so - intent is the key word here. I don't personally view Liber Al vel Legis as a Holy text, so methods derived from it may not always work perfectly for me. However, I can see how forming syllables and sigils from words representative of one's goals in the manner you described would obscure their normal conscious meaning so as to bridge the gap between normal waking consciousness and implant the suggestion into the subconscious and intuitive faculties. It would also serve to distract the intellect with an activity for a time, and the act of dwelling on the intent while making the sigil and planning out the syllables would also assist to further implant the suggestion of your intent into your subconscious and (external) surrounding astral matrix.
An alternative to those techniques, the one I usually prefer myself, is to take the concept/word head on and go directly to the source - the energy itself (through direct perception, when possible). If the idea and the goal have to do with the concept of universal love, for example, then I get into a meditative state so as to turn off and divert my rational mind, and then project part of my consciousness astrally into the appropriate sphere/area/frequencies where those concepts will most likely be found while focusing on the word and related concepts as targets until I link up with entities/things/ideas that feel identical with my objects of focus. Once found, I'd then bring those forces/ideas back with me to be channelled into a physical vessel or toward a desired outcome/event/person etc., or find a way to work with them on their own level according to need.
If my goal was to instigate or assist a particular event to occur, then I might raise my consciousness to a higher frequency and take a look at the energy 'river' that flows beneath and around my current physical reality/situation, and then I might try to see what I can nudge so as to pick up on more desirable 'currents' - thus seeking out the paths of least resistance. To me, that's a far more precise way of working than sitting back and hoping something will happen while never totally being sure if what you did actually worked. Obviously, with so many different wills and forces beyond yourself out there, there is no guarantee that anything you do through either method will work, but it still feels good to know that with practice you can use your psychic skills to dig around and find the "Achillis' heal" every now and then while working in a more exact/scientific manner. It's also nice to get that feedback through direct astral/energy observation so as to find whether or not what you did is really working and why or why not. A mountain could be moved if you just knew where to push. So many people waste energy and effort by not applying theirs in the areas where change would be guaranteed to occur due to predisposed (astral) conditions.
"I guess the main point is simply that gematria is a tool that should take you where you wanna go - if it doesn't "resonate" with the individual, find something else. If the tool becomes more important than the destination, again, it's time to find something else."
I agree totally. And all I'll add to that is to say to each his own - if it works, use it! I prefer the direct methods, but the way someone does something really doesn't matter so long as the desired results were obtained…but of course it's never enough for me to just let a topic rest so easily - you know how much I just love examining all sides of an issue and discussing all the hows, whys, and alternate procedures heheh.
In response to my mention of Enochian being the expression of pure thought:
"Could we not say that this is true of any language, whether Enochian, Hebrew, Greek or English, where the letters, arranged into words, make manifest the forms and ideas of the writer?"
No not entirely. I don't think I totally explained myself adequately before, but I'll try to do that here.
Have you ever had days where you felt a certain way, maybe sick/ill/frustrated etc. and you just couldn't find a word or combination of words to describe how you felt, even though you knew exactly how that was? Have you ever noticed sometimes when you're thinking to yourself that you're not using words in your mind to actually think? What I was referring to previously about the Enochian language are those very same types of non-verbal (guttural?) thought/feeling/impulses used in spiritual and mental communication.
John Dee was told that he was being given Keys/Calls in the language that was originally spoken in 'Heaven'. I interpret this to mean "the language/form of communication used by entities when in a spiritual manifestation." Obviously, if they don't have physical mouths and are above the level of thought-with-form/conventional language, then all they'll need to communicate with are feelings and impulses without words (under normal conditions). In my own psychic experiments with friends, we found that most people, including ourselves, frequently had their own internal mental/spiritual language spoken during their thought processes. When we attempted to communicate telepathically with each other, we also found that success only occurred when we really knew the other participants extremely well, otherwise the message would get lost or jumbled due to a complete misunderstanding of those types of thought/feeling/impulses that were being projected over to the other person.
What I meant before about Enochian being an expression of pure thought rendered into language form, was just that - a direct sonic (symbolic?) representation of pure-thought feelings/impulses/meanings. What other Enochian practitioners are finding in their own work today with the Enochian forces, is that very often in their communication with them, whenever new words are given, they often consist of compound meanings and don't always conform to conventional human language. The word(s) themselves carry the feeling/impression of a layer of meaning during the actual spiritual communication/channelling operation with the mage. Conventional human language only does this in part because we're limited by the necessity of grammar, order, and social idioms during the speaking process. Pure thought has no limitation other than conveying a 'meaning' in any order it wishes unbound by grammar, conventional established vocabulary, or popular connotations and idioms.
What I'm trying to convey might make more sense if I just sum it up with some examples:
Some days, don't you just feel "bluasduuduugsuaaklsjdflk"?
When you're sick you might feel "uhhHHhhhhh" *moaning sound*
The word joy might make you feel "hahahHHhhha" *a fluttery sound similar to giddy laughter*
A piece of music might make you think of a mental pattern of colours and feelings, and when those colours and feelings are put in symbolic sonic/language form, they might sound like "eoiagsjkldflksdjsjsjjjjkjksiodifu." (This last example is similar to the idea of synesthesia.)
"Just as an Enochian call can invoke a specific energy, so too can English. The words are representative of ideas, archetypes etc - it is just that we are used to using them in a mundane manner."
Yes English can invoke specific energies, but I see it as being a few steps removed from the levels of pure thought that I was speaking about above.
"I believe that in the history of languages, vocal communication and written communication were two different things - one mundane, one arcane."
I won't disagree with that. A culture's written classical language and texts were often written in a style that did not resemble their own spoken language exactly. In some places, an outside language was chosen for the work of writing due to an admiration of a previously conquered society, and in that case the written text would be completely unintelligible to the common people. The written word was probably revered as something more special as a result.
"If numbers and mathematics are the key to the universe, and the one true universal language, then surely the relationship of these numbers in the manifest world should have some bearing on how we interpret the Cosmos around us."
Heheh you're making the assumption that mathematics and numbers ARE the keys to the universe. Knowing that the ultimate spiritual realities (whatever they truly are) are neither 3 dimensional nor logical, how can numbers and math (both things existing entirely within the realm of logic and order) ever hope to describe an intangible level of reality or encompass the whole of creation? Numbers, math, symbols, and language are all within lower levels of thought-with-form. Ain Sof/Brahma/G-d/Allness is without form and beyond them. (In other words, spoken/written language and symbols only go to the level of Intellect/thought-with-form, not to Intuition/thought-without-form.)
Speaking from a semi-Kabbalistic stance, I'd say that the Manifest Universe (all levels below the supreme unity) can be described in symbolic form with numbers and letters of any language, but only up to a point. Numbers by themselves wouldn't be adequate since they only describe quantity. Letters, being the building blocks of expressed thought in the physical realm, could be used to describe qualities. Equations using both are able to describe relationships between quantities and qualities, but all three together still won't be good enough to describe anything in an objective way, since you're going to be limited by which number and letter systems you use and which languages, not to mention the fact that you are, in and of yourself, your own subjective filter/lens/window into a small slice of 'reality' - not the whole. I see true objectivity as an unattainable goal so long as we remain perceptually separate from the whole of the universe. Equations also won't be able to describe anything formless and irrational directly either - they're still only just 'symbolic representations'. In order to actually touch upon the thing they represent you still need to be able to perceive the thing described directly for yourself (which will still necessitate the development and use of psychic skills).
Before you even begin to use letters or numbers to do anything, as a human you're already going to be limited by the use of thought-with-form, and will be unable to advance beyond the level of intellect in such a pursuit as attempting to analyse the universe (with hopes of finding or making it conform to any one particular system) with numbers, letters, or symbols of any type, unless you have the type of mind that is able to stumble onto the level of intuition somewhere along the way and thus transcend intellect/reason/order.
"Whilst I agree that most "number games" are a waste of time and energy, "
Some do have some meditational benefits since they can be used to break up the habitual manner of thought so as to assist the individual to come out of his mental slump and start growing and changing spiritually, but for the most part I continue to agree with you :)
"I do believe that there is a direct correlation between all things through the use of mathematics, and the use of such a pure "language" can help us to understand and interpret, subjectively and objectively, all facets of our daily life."
I disagree here for the reasons I mentioned above. I see an attempt to view the world through the lens of mathematics as a self-limitation i.e. not being able to go beyond the level of intellectual thought and hoping to fit the universe in all its formless irrationality into a rationally ordered picture projected out from within one's own mind onto the environment around. When it comes right down to it, regardless of how each of us 'sees' the world, the world is what it is - it'll be what it is (whatever that truly is) whether we wish to accept it or not. If we are unable to accept that the world contains things beyond order, reason, and form, then we'll undergo personal crises every time Reality refuses to conform to the way we believe that it is.
In some ways, the pursuit of mathematics in such a manner as we've been discussing, is sort of like using numerical calculations to determine the nature of the shadows projected onto the wall of Plato's Cave. In the end, we might conclude through our calculations that those shadows are caused by all-powerful giant god-like captors who dictate our fate. But if one of us were to stand up and walk out of the cave and look at the source of those shadows, he/she might find through direct experience that the shadows are really just our older brothers and sisters trying to lure us out of our darkness.