The Construction and Use of Alphabetic Magick Squares

By Josh Geller

The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra

- Melin the Mage has had a certain mystique dating to its original publication by S. L. Mathers in the later nineteenth century. Alesiter Crowley relates stories of various misfortunes befalling possessors of this book in his best dead-pan manner in various places in his published writings. In one well known story, Philip Heseltine, a talented young composer, seems to have commited suicide after using (success- fully, or so the story goes) one of the magick squares in the book.(1) The Abra - Melin operation (to achievethe 'Knowledge and Conversation of one's Holy Gaurdian Angel') requires a considerable investment of time and money(2) to accomplish in its classical form(3). Though I have owned a copy of the book for many years without any significant misfortunes befalling m, I have been and remain rather chary about attempting to utilize any of the squares as published in the book. Perhaps if I accomplished the Operation in it's classical form ... but that is neither here nor there. A chance remark of a friend proved the seed out of which grew (or was nurtured) this simple (but I think rather elegant) magickal system. This gentleman was trained in traditional Hebrew (Judaic) Qabala. Now, I have not found Judaic Qabalah particulary useful, by and large.However, during a discussion as to the importance of Sephiroth and Paths in various systems of Qabalah, my friend mentioned that neither was as important as the "wings", that is, the triangles formed by the paths on the Tree of Life. Shortly thereafter, I worked out the various "wings" and their permutations. There are 16 of them, which immediately made me sit up and take notice, as 16 has been a number of significance in my personal Qabalah for quite a while. Here they are [let's hope this ascii tree is clear]. A == aleph Ch == cheth S == samekh Th == thav B == Beth T == teth O == ayin G == gimel I == iod P == peh D == daleth K == kaph Tz == tzaddi H == heh L == lamed Q == qoph V == vav M == mem R == resh Z == zayin N == nun Sh == shin The Wings*4* (1) Number Paths Connect / | \ 1 ADB (1)(2)(3) / | \ 2 AHG (1)(2)(6) B | A 3 GZB (1)(6)(3) / | \ 4 HZD (2)(6)(3) / | \ (2)---------|--D------(3) 5 VIH (2)(4)(6) | ` | ' | 6 ZLCh (3)(6)(5) Ch ` G ' V 7 ILT (4)(6)(5) | Z | H | (5)----`--T--|----'----(4) 8 KNI (4)(7)(6) | \ ` | ' / | 9 LOM (5)(6)(8) | L ` | ' I | 10 NPO (6)(7)(8) | \ ` | ' / | M (6) K 11 NTzS (6)(7)(9) | / | \ | 12 SRO (6)(9)(8) | O | N | 13 TzRP (7)(9)(8) | / | \ | (8)---------|---P-----(7) 14 QThTz (7)(10)(9) \ ` S ' / 15 RThSh (8)(9)(10) \ R | Tz / 16 PQSh (8)(7)(10) \ `(9)' / Sh | Q \ Th / \ | / \|/ (10) It should be sufficiently obvious that these wings can be expressed either by the letters of the paths or the numbers of the sephiroth or the numbers of the sephiroth (or indeed astrological attributions of paths or sephiroth or an of numerous other correspondances) with equal convenience; that wings may be begun or ended at any point and read clockwise or counterclockwise. From understanding this arrangement of wings, it was a short step to seeing how this information could be used to derive magick squares by various means. I shall outline some of these briefly. I. Take a divine, angelic or demonic name. Distribute it as the sides of a gnomon. For instance: ChAOS Now observe which letters on the gnomon can be A linked up with a third to form a wing, such that O the letter completing the triangle is in line S with the letters forming the other two sides thus: ChAOS The 'O' and the 'S' with 'R' (the only instance on A this simple example). I have found squares of this O R type useful in the invocation of the forces or entities S R represented by the Name used. II. Trace a line on the Tree of Life which corresponds to a Telos of a working, for instance to actualize a Martial force in Malkuth (ie, the material world) a good example might be: TIOPTzRSh (which would be pronounced, approximately, I 'tiopetsaresh' or some such) note that many O other lines can be drawn from (5) {gevurah, mars} P to (10) {malkuth, earth (the material)}; most z more directly. The selection of the line to be drawn R is a matter of art and your individual genius; in Sh the process of making one of these things and the mental state engendered, one line seems just right for the purpose one is trying to accomplish. As would be sensible, many more wings can be linked up in this example than in the previous one. The selection of which wings tto link, whether to link them symmetrically (ie, between both instances of the letter, horizontally and vertically, in each leg of the gnomon)are also choices of Art. So one way to link this one up would be: TIOPTzRSh This square is strongly asymetric. A rule of thumb which IL I have found useful is that for teloi which are intended O N to work materially, asymmetric squares seem to be P Q preferable; invocatory or contemplative teloi seem better Tz R accomplished by symmetrical squares. Note it uses the R P 7th, 10th, 13th, 15th and 16th wings. Sh Th III. Grand Squares. These are developed in a somewhat different manner. They can also be generated from either a holy name or a trace on the Tree of Life, but written in a hollow square thus: BABALON The next step is to (as near as possible) write A O letters completing wings within the square. Wings B L can be completed with any adgacent letters; it makes A A no difference. More complex forms than simple triangles L B can be traced. O A NOLABAB BABALON Here the corners have been filled with the first ADG MSO wing and a corner of the second and the ninth wing BG ML with a corner of the 11th and 12th. A A LM B Continue to make links, in conformity to your particular OSM GDA Genius, until the square is filled. NOLABAB BABALON Numerous wings and complex forms can be seen ADGHMSO throughout. One is not necessarily aware of BGOPOML all the interconnections when one creates a AHPNPHA square of this type. LMOPOGB OSMHGDA NOLABAB After discovering (rediscovering?) and developing this system rather fully, I went back to BSMAMM and discovered that the squares given there are not of this type at all! There are some superficial similarities, but they are seemingly constructed on entirely different principles, more _word_ oriented (ie, each row or column of a 'full' square being a name or word of magickal significance in some language or another (the gnomonic squares are nothing like mine)) than form or symbol oriented. That aside, I have found the system outlined here to be easily used, and efficacious in both practical and transcendental applications. Notes: (1) Heseltine seems to have been none to stable to begin with; the square was designed to 'win the affection of a straying woman' or some such. He carved it on his arm. (2) BSMAMM is divided into three books; the first describes how the author (one 'Abraham the Jew') searched for knowledge and met (in Egypt) one Abra - Melin who taught him 'the true and sacred magic'. the second describes how to perform the K&CHGA operation. the third contains a large number of magick squares for many (mostly practical) purposes. (3) a shortened version (seven weeks as opposed to six months) is given in crowley's 'The Vision and the Voice'. *4*The appelation 'wings', BTW, comes from ezekiel's famous vision of what is called 'the chariot' (merkavah) which is described as having rotating wings to the number of 16 [without having a bible to hand to check],and is neither a UFO landing craft or a nuclear powered manna producing machine, but a poetic description of the tree of life (and I am well aware that the date of ezekiel is well before that of the earliest admitted qabalistic book; I am merely reporting the tradition as I have gleaned it from various sources, notably conversation with my aforementioned friend). ---- josh