Thursday, September 19, 2013

Are the names of the Elemental Kings based on Hebrew?

Rose Cross sigil of Ghob.
One of the mysteries of the spiritual hierarchy and divine names that Golden Dawn uses is what the names of the Elemental Kings actually mean.

The source of the names for the Elemental Kings that Golden Dawn uses seems to be Eliphas Levi (or at least, that is the earliest source I have heard cited for them). It is just too bad that Levi did not reveal what the names actually mean.

[I have ran across references to a Buni text (?) and that Ninevah Shadrach claims that the names are actually those of Djin family names--having not seen those sources first hand, I am going to continue to ignore them at this time (if later, I read them in some form, and they make more sense than my theory, I will tell you).]

Awhile ago, I ran across a theory that the Elemental Kings names were actually Sanskrit (proto Indo-European). For me, this theory instantly stuck a cord of falseness. Levi has never stuck me as being knowledgeable about Sanskrit. Plus the theory seemed to be one that someone put a lot of work into...you know the type of theory that so much work is put into it that you can see the creator of it tying themselves into knots trying to prove it.

Besides, it has been my experience that magicians (even armchair occultists and theorists like Levi [he was not a working magician despite his influence on the occultism]) tend to stuck closer to their home sources. So Latin and Hebrew would be better choices for the source language of the Elemental Kings names. Maybe Greek. (But not Enochian--Levi does not seem terribly aware of that language.)

Now, the Latin seems to be a no-go...but someone more knowledgeable than me will have to confirm its unlikelihood. Greek is, well, Greek to me (so ditto, but more so in the need of an expert other than me). And as to the Enochian, well I will leave that one to Aaron Leitch.

But I could do a preliminary search of Hebrew, so I did. Besides I really wanted to be able to have a set of Rose Cross sigils for the four Elemental Kings, and being able to spell their names in the Hebrew alphabet would be handy even if the names turned out not to be Hebrew.

Now, do the names actually have to mean something? Yes, if one goes by the bulk of evidence from the grimoires and other spiritual traditions, the names of spiritual entities always have a meaning--you do not find random strings of letters being tossed together to create names like those of characters in some bad science fiction story. True, you can find instances where names seem to be just random letters, but I know no instance of a truly random creation of a name--what we do find when we encounter goobly-gook names is actually encoding. For instance, look at the so-called 72 names of God; they appear to be random letters until you know the way that they were created--after which you have to admit that they are just the result of a magical programming code, so to speak.

So do the Elemental King names mean anything in Hebrew? Maybe. Maybe not.

The name of the Elemental King of Earth (Gnomes) is Ghob according to the official documents of the Golden Dawn. There is a possibility that the name comes from the Chaldean word, Gob, meaning "a pit." In Hebrew (a language that is both one of the oldest in the world, and one of the youngest...it is a historical curiosity), we find Gov "a locust" and Gev "a waterhole/cistern". That gives us two possible spelling: Gimel Vav Beth and Gimel Beth.

Those of you who have already looked at the Rose Cross sigil at the top of this post will notice that while part of me went with Gimel Vav Beth, another part wanted to go with Gimel Vav Beth Heh instead.

Why Gimel Vav Beth Heh? Well, the word Gove means "collector of money/taxes" which (in my opinion) would actually be a sensible name for the Elemental King of Earth.

(For those unfamiliar with Hebrew, the letter Beth often ends up sounding like a V instead.)

Rose Cross sigil of Djin.
The next name to look at is Djin, the name of the Elemental King of Fire (Salamanders). Besides looking a lot like the Arabic word that became our modern word of Genie, Djin could also be Chaldean, Dayan "a judge." The Hebrew, being an offshoot (or is it kissing cousin) of Chaldean also has Dayan as a possibility, as well as Din "law/rule/judgment/justice." Plus there is a related word Dinur that means "of fire." So far, maybe Hebrew is the key to the meaning of the Elemental King names.

For this name, I went with the spelling of Daleth Yod Nun.

[As for the Arabic, Hebrew and Arabic are of the same language family branch...so a case for Hebrew is also a case for Arabic as a possible source for the names.]

Rose Cross sigil of Nichsa.
Now, Nichsa, the name of the Elemental King of Water (Undines)...or is it a Queen?...presents a spelling nightmare.

[Actually, I recently ran across a webpage arguing that Nichsa is a King's name and that there are also four Elemental Queens...that will be the subject of another post someday. For ease of blogging, I chose to treat all four names as King names, even though at least one branch of the modern Golden Dawn labels Nichsa as a Queen's name.]

Basically, eyeballing the word Nichsa in Latin (English) letters leaves us with twelve possibilities. Partially hits were Nun Kaph Shin, Nikesh "to weed," Nun Kaph Samech "property/asset/wealth," and Nun Cheth Shin, Naxash "snake/serpent."

But the best hit was Nixsa (Nun Kaph Samech Heh)--so close that Levi could choose to spell it Nichsa--which means "to be covered/concealed"; this gives us three names that Hebrew might be the source of.

Rose Cross sigil of Paralda.
But the theory seems to come apart with Paralda, the name of the Elemental King of Air (Sylphs).

There is no Paralda in any of the dozen Hebrew dictionaries that litter my coffee table. The best that I could come up with is Peri (Peh Resh Yod) meaning "fruit/offspring/progeny" or "reward"; Peh Resh Heh meaning "to bear/increase/to be fertile"; and Leda (Lamed Daleth Heh) meaning "birth." Combining the two parts, Paralda might mean "reward [of] birth" or maybe not. It is beyond my skill with the Hebrew language to be sure; nevertheless that is the meaning I am going to go with for now.

The spelling that I chose to use for the Rose Cross sigil is Peh Resh Lamed Daleth Heh. (An Heh on the end of a word is often said as an "A" like on the end of the name "Sandra."

So there you have it. Hebrew may or may not be the source language for the four Elemental King names that Levi gave to the Golden Dawn tradition. But I think that it is a stronger 75% than the Sanskrit theory (which also seems to fall apart with Paralda).

5 comments:

Morgan Eckstein said...

Meow! This is a setting test. Meow!

J.C. said...

This is something that has eluded me for some years as well. If you ever find some definitive evidence to the origin of these names, I would be grateful to see it.

It would seem reasonable that these names are derived from some Middle Eastern tongue, which probably predates Hebrew and Arabic, as the name Djin is from that language.

I would like to hear what evidence Ninevah has to that reference to them being classes of Djin. While that seems like a reasonable thing to say, I would also like to see the roots of that statement.

J.C. said...

In any event, I've enjoyed your observations here. :-)

Anna Munda at Enchanted Body said...

I thought those four names were found in Paracelsus?

Morgan Eckstein said...

I have not heard anyone cite Paracelsus as a source for them.