The Literal Qabalah

The Literal Qabalah

There are 3 distinct branches of literal Qabalah in the Tradition. These are generally referred to as:

  1. Notariquon
  2. Temurah
  3. Gematria

We forego the first two for being unverifiable and whimsical or superstitious constructions, though we will enter upon a short description of each method here.


There are two forms of practical Notariquon. The first is considered legitimate or inspired, and the second which meets with some ridicule, amounts to an art form and a process of creation which makes it distinct from other forms of mostly analytical Qabalah.

Essentially a cousin to anagram constructs, Notariquon consists of matching a word to a phrase in which the first letter of each word of that phrase, when combined, spells the word. A famous Hebraic example of this is found by taking the initials of the phrase mhmymçh wnl hlwy ym Mi Iaulah Leno Ha−Shamayima,Who shall go up for us to heaven?” found in Deuteronomy, 30. 12. These form mem-yod-lamed-heh or Milah, the Hebrew word for circumcision. Taking the final letters we get IHVH, the Tetragrammaton. Notariquon enthusiasts would use this to imply that Jehovah had ordained circumcision as a requirement for entrance to Heaven.

The second method is the reverse process of the first. Here the practitioner constructs the phrase from the word or Formula by taking each letter in that word as the first letter (sometimes the last, or any other position that panders to the practitioner’s goals) in the corresponding Word.

A modern example would be FIAT which is taken as Fiatus, Ignis, Aqua, Terra equating the creative Word of Jehovah with the synthesis of the Elements. However, FIAT might equally imply Femina Imperium Auctoritas Terrae20 which the Hebrew patriarchs certainly would not have liked.

Due to the multiplicity of possibilities, Notariquon is attacked for its empirical reliability and its results are decried as creative fantasies lacking any scientific method. This remains a legitimate criticism and a justifiable position to take on the question.

However, the utility of notariquon lies not in the analytic or exegetic study of Nature, but in the creative or constructive Qabalah, as in the application of the Qabalah to generate Formulae, Words of Power or even Sigils and thus deals primarily with matters of Magick and effecting Change upon Nature in accordance with one’s Will—a subject outside the scope of this book.


The Temurah is about “commutations” or the substitution of one letter for another, and is a precursor to cryptography. For example, one can divide the alphabet in half and exchange the letters that coincide in position:








































Thus, the word “ant” would be transliterated as “nag”. The arrangements for letter substitutions and all the possible commutations are gathered together and are known as the “Tables of the Commutations”.

Amounting to a form of crude cryptology or cipher-writing, Temurah deals with permutations and substitutions of the letters and assumes that either the mystics or the Holy Spirit which hath moved them to write the words would condescend to such trifles as writing in code, or that the nature of the Perfections are such that the Truth of the particular case is apparent when viewed from a particular angle only—as though Understanding would not require perfect knowledge of both the interplay of the parts and the action of the whole. The trouble once again, is that the Student will take those permutations that suit him and forego the others that spell nothing sensible or desirable, so that he will most likely find something that panders to his preconceit. In those cases where he doesn’t, it becomes very easy to claim ignorance. A child will see scribbling and scratching where a man sees letters, and the Student may content himself with the notion that what he fails to see is due to his present Ignorance—a situation which Time will relieve.

Other methods also grouped under the practice of Temurah, are the Thashraq, which is writing a word backwards, and the Aiq Bekar, popularly known as the “Qabalah of the Nine Chambers,” which groups the letters by their unit, decimal and hundreds values.


Gematria is that branch of the literal Qabalah which is the subject of this Book. We forego Temurah and Notariquon and dismiss these methods for falling outside the bounds of Science and Empiricism. They pertain primarily to the creative aspect of these Arts and primarily those that regard Magick or the projection of the Will. However, behind the idea of Gematria lies an equally outrageous notion: namely, that there is a simple and basic correspondence or syncreticism between Number and any phenomena—particularly words and letters. It is this prima facie preposterous claim that has spawned simple Numerology that most everyone is familiar with, in one sense or another; and has been the source of many another misguided superstition ever since John of Patmos wrote that famous line in his Revelations: “Here is Wisdom, Let him that hath Understanding count the number of the Beast, for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred and three score and six.”21.

It has been affirmed clearly by eminent scholars in the past that a name or title and its number bear no real relation to the nature of that Person on this Plane (and by extension, no other Plane, since the Name codified is codified in the Material). Thus, because you discover that your neighbour’s name adds to 666, does not mean he is the incarnation of the ‘Anti-Christ’, even though on the Astral Plane the suggestion is that this would be the case. This statement was generally followed by the injunction to ‘not confuse the Planes’. That is, that the laws of one Plane are not necessarily applicable on another. Thus we see that Gravity which exists in the Material, has no effect on that which is not constituted by mass (e.g. energy, information and the Body of Light). Nonetheless, the laws of attraction that govern the laws of gravity hold on both, so that it would appear that the former is a manifestation of the latter, so that the previous statement is clearly an oversight. Empirically, with the application of the Key, continual evidence of perfect concordance on the Material Plane has been found; that formulae manifest themselves materially, and that all Creatures (human beings as well) somehow follow this Law when materialized in Place and Time regardless of the ‘plane’. This is a statement which breaks with Tradition. The Student will have to verify its veracity personally.22

It is important to note that this correspondence goes beyond the simple Numerology that most everyone is familiar with. Nor is it a form of cryptography or code. Qabalists will claim that it is the most convenient means we have of describing and arriving at the “thing-in-itself” or the “idea” and subsequently classifying it. Because the number represents the “idea”, it becomes the genetrix for all those other “images” (in this case, the symbol, letter or word) that equate or sum to it and so partake of its Nature. This is the basic assumption (premise, or axiom) behind the practice of Gematria: namely, the preposterous claim that because two things reduce to the same number (in this case, words or letters) they are in a sense refractions or symbols of the same “idea”. There is no Reason for making such a claim except Evidence of it. For we find that not only does this preposterous claim hold empirically, but its practical extensions are apparently without limit.

Returning to History for a moment, we see how Gematria in the past employed the numerical values of the Hebrew alphabet. This allowed the Student to tabulate the numerical value of words, thus enabling the comparison of words of equal value or through their multiples. For example one can take the Hebrew word for love which is AHBH and unity which is AChD. They both sum to 13 implying that the nature of Love is Unity.23 In English, we have the same reduction of the 3 into the 1 but in the glyph 331, denoting the triune Nature of Man and Woman equal and counterpart to each other and the Power of Love to raise consciousness to the 3rd sphere (BINAH). We have a further elucidation in the Aeon for 331 is also “Selflessness’24 and presents a development that is evolutionary (as we shall discuss later) in the idea of Love being concordant to the idea of Selflessness.

All this is admittedly needless, for a little meditation upon the Nature of Love would produce the realization of that same Truth but more fully, and not so coldly and analytically as through Number alone. However, it is not only their equality that is of interest, but that they are equal to a particular number, which as a symbol must also be representative of the process or operation the word signifies (two open circle’s (3 - is a circle open at center hinge) combining to reduce to 1. 331 is also prime suggesting its final unity.25 It is when the Question or the Object is somewhat more complex, that these correspondences become useful; or perhaps when we are trying to move from the known to the unknown and require a test of verifiability. We provide an example by way of illustration.

A Student asks: I would like some clarification of the value of ‘ck’ in this system. Is it 60? Or does the existence of both c and k make one “silent” in terms of value?

The ‘ck’ combination is perplexing. The c is, we agree, phonetically superfluous. It may be fading; that with internet and phone texting as it is, words like neck, back, sock, will soon all be spelt nek, bak, sok... So that the hard or soft C is somehow anachronistic; and mysteriously, even counter-intuitively in the larger scheme of things, appears to be disappearing.26

But to answer the question: We can not take the c as silent, i.e. despite its possible disappearance, if the glyph is present in the Word or Formula, then it is present and so must be counted, until that moment that it ceases to be there. Now, do we count it hard (30) or soft (3)? Supposing we don’t know, we can take sample data and look at the alternatives.

We can take the words ‘sick’ and ‘attack’—two simple enough ideas (but any others will do). We have (58 + C) for ‘sick’ and (234 + C) for ‘Attack’. Now, if c is soft then ‘sick’ is 61 (which we already know cannot be, but assuming we don’t...); and ‘attack’ is 237. If C is hard, then ‘sick’ becomes 88 and ‘attack’, 264.

We have two possibilities:

  1. ‘sick’ is 61 and ‘attack’ is 237; or
  2. ‘sick’ is 88 and ‘attack’ is 264.
  • Under the identity ’61’ we have: “Place” (as in “let it reside in one place”); Made He (as in Made He the Worlds); Kheph-RA; Help (ideas consistent with AIN)
  • Under identity ‘88’ we have: “He is Mad”, KALI, Maim, Vice, Saw (versus See), Bind, etc…Certainly the idea of ‘sick’ pertains to identity 88. 61 appears to be ‘Holy’ if we can resort to a colloquialism.
  • For 237, we have: Drug, Gladness, Khu, Rosa…
  • While for 264 we have, A Lion, Curse, Pestilence, Python, Severities, Typhon, I am the Heart (with T final).

Again, attack appears to be counted with C hard as the ideas of 264 are concordant with the idea of an attack or attacking, whereas 237 (Drug, gladness, ROSA) obviously are not. One can continue this analysis until one is satisfied, e.g.: ‘rock’ can be 122 or 149 depending on this C. 122 contains ‘feather’ and ‘fly’, so once again, we appear confirmed in our original hypothesis.

Finally, we can look for concordance on the Material Plane: if C were ‘soft’ then words like ‘back’, ‘sack’ would sound phonetically like bask and sask; while with C ‘hard’ they sound like bakk, sakk, which conforms to the Reality.27

The above may be no great revelation. The point to be retain however, is that Qabalah properly formulated will extend to all planes and encompass all matters, events and things. It matters not what we look at it, since it is everywhere.28 For as we’ve intimated above, this concordance extends to all practical matters, glyphs and ‘properties of things’. In this way, ideas that are classified under the same ‘key’ or number, are related through identity and are equated. It is more precise however, to consider them as materializations or rarefactions (depending on the case) of the idea.

The glyph of Shin for instance, which is enumerated at 300 and signifies “tooth” and “spirit”29 is equivalent to the number obtained by adding up the numerical values of the letters of the words myhla jwr (RVCh ALHIM) oor Ruach Elohim, the spirit of the Elohim (r = 200, w = 6, j = 8, a = 1, l = 30, h = 5, y = 10, m = 40; total = 300). According to the tradition then, the letter Shin (ç) itself (and the number 300) is a symbol of the spirit of the Elohim. This was further confirmed when later generations also showed that ALHIM spelt in full also adds to 300.30 Note also that this 300 is now fully attainable and materializable, through the activation of the X glyph, through the “Ordeal ‘x’”.31

For a more modern or practical example, we return to our original question, “What is the Qabalah?” for a final example. Seeing as this is not an English word, we seek a formula. Its original alliteration is QBLH for there are no vowels in the Hebrew script. We discover that QBLH is 10 + 6 + 70 + 7 = 93 so that it is the ‘Law’ and Necessity, and it is Love (Agapé). We proceed further by taking the Roman Script dimension with its full spelling to arrive at Qabalah = 105 which is again ALHIM (4 + 50 + 7 + 4 + 40) and Nike (Victory). “The Qabalah” (211)is the “Hope” of “every man” which when united with Malkuth (10) is 221, another glyph for the Law and the covenant of Will32.

We can proceed as far in this analysis as we like. Applying to the lexicon, we see another entry for “The Holy Qabalah”33 that it is one with the “Primeval Things”; it is the Chariot “drawn by doves”, that leads to the “Four Gates” to the Palace34 to finally reach BINAH—the 3rd sphere from which the perception and action of the Qabalah is made Perfect and Whole. It is the “Divine Perfection” (or its manifestation) and is a Path of the Adepts, all of which end in “The Fool” the world glyph for the man seated in Kether. The application of the Key suggest that all these ideas are identical in their source—that is, they are rays or precipitations of the primal undifferentiated “idea” which we classify only as “558”35 for now, to later explore or deconstruct. All we know is this ‘idea’ possesses this list of qualifications (the expressions equal to it by the key) which it is identical to, in both its sum and separate parts.


Four Gates






The Fool






Divine Perfection



Path of the Adepts







Drawn by Doves

The Holy Qabalah

The Primeval Things








Such is the general exegetic method of Qabalistic Gematria. More concise exposition and further elucidation upon practical Gematria and its uses is provided in a subsequent chapter.36

We forego entering into this matter further, without first answering the natural cry of the rational mind to escape the question and relegate the matter to one of ‘coincidence’. For the burden of proof lies heavy on the Qabalist and his Mind will be the weapon he turns on himself. For when confronted by contiguities it can not explain, the mind seeks to refute the causality with the declaration that the contiguity is a coincidence: a species of ‘noise’ or random event in Chance. Fortunately, we have recourse to Logic and to the laws of random numbers and of probability to advance our introduction and exploration into the Qabalah and its verifiability.37

We will return later to a discussion on the Roman Script (the letters of the English Alphabet) and the Arabic Numerals (numbers as they are represented in the West) along with their elemental significance and qabalistic correspondences. For these: the letters of the Roman Script and the Arabic Numeral, are the symbolic basis for the English Qabalah and with a minor exception, span the set of glyphs that comprise the phenomenological set of the perceivable material Universe.

20 Lat: Women have power and authority over the World.

21 Revelations 13, 18. Note that ‘Wisdom’ and ‘Understanding’ are titles of Chokmah (the 2nd sphere) and Binah (the 3rd sphere) respectively. Of course, today we know that John of Patmos was thinking of Nero the Roman Emperor at the time he wrote this, and that he took the Greek Key as the basis from which to form his basic cryptography (Nero is . He could not have openly declared the Emperor as the Enemy of their Cause, for that was treason and would invite imprisonment if not death. Prudence made him conceal the Emperor’s name in code. Knowing his Brothers to be in possession of the Greek Key, while the Romans were ignorant of it, he employed this convenient fact to effect a political sleight-of-hand. If we employ the key of the Greek Qabalah we find the Emperor’s name summing to that famous number. The fact that this number has come to signify the number of the Beast that comes to overthrow the House, is not an accidental result of this historical letter, for the number and its significance was already known to John and other Qabalists. John used it as proof of the emperor’s Nature to convince his brethren and rouse their enthusiasm in his case against the Emperor, as we do once again Today (but after a different manner).

22 It leads immediately to our problem: the danger and lunacy of believing your neighbour to be the Anti-Christ. But if we respect all Children of Men for their Word (logos), then every self-professed second-coming of Christ is the second-coming (for was this not the magic of the Jesus and the miracle of his Mass?) and your neighbour really is one of the many Anti-Christs running about the planet mocking all the self-crucified Christs. For just his was a potent spell, converting many and spreading his Word, so we know that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so that Nature would have counter-balanced this violence with its own opposite and so re-establish the scales. Just as ‘Christ’ is a title given to a natural phenomenon (which we can enumerate)—a consciousness balanced in the Solar, so similarly is the Anti-Christ another title for a transcended solar consciousness given to the solar Will which engendered IT. This is necessarily so because the Anti-Christ comes afterwards: that is he is a development of the Christ and so is a symbol of the human aspiration to free itself of this Christ conditioning—even if it remain a reaction, and so an imbalance while it remains without its consort. The solution is to absorb one in the other until nothing remains. Finally, note that if there were no Christ there would be no Anti-Christ and this leads us to the ultimate aim of the Qabalah: to reduce all conception to zero; or balance any notion with its opposite. For ultimately Consciousness must ask itself: Do I number myself (i.e. numbering the phenomenon as it relates within his own consciousness) or do I number the World (independently of the observer)? In this difference lies the problem the Self seeks to transcend: Separation. For there are three possibilities to any fact, and ultimately they are identical if one unites with All. These are:

  1. The Initiate is numbering him or herself or a portion of him/herself in all operations.
  2. The Initiate is numbering the phenomenon.
  3. The Initiate is numbering the relation between him/herself and the phenomenon.

Reason will insist upon one or the other; but they are the prismed colors of the one beam of light.

23 777 & other Qabalastic Writings of Aleister Crowley Aleister Crowley ed. I. Regardie (New York, USA: WEISER BOOKS 1977, rpt. York Beach, ME: Weiser, 1993)

24 A title of Kether.

25 That is, it is not a composite, or a notion comprised of other notions. If so, it would be further reducible to factors of primes, which would in turn represent the irreducible ideas of which the composite notion would be constructed from.

26 In this way, it appears ‘reasonable’ to switch the usual syncretic attributions for C and K. For if C is the Cup and Aquarius and so Queens, while K the Virgin is Scorpio and so the Hermit: how is that we find the Queens waning and not the Hermit? Also the old line in Liber Al: “Tzaddi is not the Emperor - that is, while Z must still be Aries in Nature, the glyph of its manifestation on the ROTA is not “The Emperor” or ATU IV. If one takes this as a fact, integrity and symmetries inherent in the system imply further readjustments of the ROTA key to accommodate this change. For instance, very basically: if Tzaddi is not the Emperor, then some other glyph must be, and so this requires switching out a second glyph. If it switches out with the first we are done; otherwise the system cascades: it must switch out with a 3rd which would engender another replacement and so on and so forth. Perhaps at the close of the Aeon, all we that will remain of the C is its part in the Ch glyph: i.e. “She is enthroned alway”. All this is pure speculation.

27 The critical injunction for the MT—for one who holds the Key to All, even the MT must bear in mind never ‘to deepen a superficie’. The material test, the most basic, is always the most certain, for in these matters we are primarily concerned with those Forces that are manifest and have a material influence on matter and energy on the physical plane.

28 Questions may remain, regarding coincidence, chance and apophenia which we explore in the following section.

29 The soul or Self is said to descend or flower in the body at the time of teething—or that one is the sign of the other. The mother must of course withdraw her nipple at such a time if she has not already, and so presents also an advancement or emancipation for the Child. The Will flowers at Puberty for both sexes.

30 (300 = Aleph + Lamed + He + Yod + Mem = pla +dml + hh + dwy + mhm = 111 + 74 + 10 + 20 + 85 = 300).

31 See Liber AL III, 22. These matters are discussed at length in the section, “On the Living Key” later in this book.

32 221 is the enumeration of “Thelema” which is Greek for Will and the banner or formula under which a new law or religion for humanity has sprung up.

33 It is lamentable that we lack more technical terminology for many of these subjects. Being appropriated as they were by a sort of religious fervor, many of these researches restrict their scope to what is religious. We are ourselves, will be forced to resort to such barbarities of language whenever we apply to History and Tradition.

34 Liber vel Legis I, 51: “There are four gates to one palace”

35 It is pointless and in a sense, damaging to discuss the nature of the idea further, for all word and language contain in it a falsity – in the very least in this case, subjective interpretation which is not a property of the Idea itself and the very thing we attempt to shear off with the Qabalah in order to arrive at it.

36 See chapter “The Practice of the Qabalah”

37 Essentially, one applies tools of Reason to logically prove the existence of something which defies Reason! A task which dissolves the mind and any preconception.

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