Magical alphabet

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A magical alphabet, or magickal alphabet,[1] is a set of letters[2][3] used primarily in ceremonial magic ('magick'),[4] occult practices, and esoteric traditions. These alphabets serve various purposes, including encoding secret messages, conducting rituals, creating amulets or talismans, casting spells, and invoking spiritual entities.[5][6][7] Several magical alphabets, including the Celestial Alphabet, Malachim, and Transitus Fluvii, are based on the Hebrew alphabet, which itself has a long history of use in mystical and magical contexts.[7][8]

As ordered letter-sets, magical alphabets are distinct from the various non-alphabetic, non-sequential "magical/magickal scripts" which contain symbols representing entities,[9] festivals,[10] ritual objects or practices,[11] alchemical/astrological/astronomical objects or events,[12] or other ideas,[13] rather than sounds. Some alphabets, like runes, may serve both purposes,[14] thus acting as both alphabets and logographic/ideographic scripts according to their use at the time.


The following are examples of alphabets considered magical/magickal:

A natural language's alphabet can also be used for spellwork or encryption,[25] so the above list cannot be exclusive.

Using such an alphabet may or may not involve using the language from which it came, e.g. users might transcribe their own language's words between its alphabet and another. Some traditions, but not all, expect members to inscribe their own tools;[26] thus it is possible an item's owner might not be able to read it.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Zell-Ravenheart 2004, pp. 144–146; Bogdan 2012, p. 12; Bailey 2018, pp. 22–23.
  2. ^ Clair, Kate; Busic-Snyder, Cynthia (June 20, 2012). "Key Concepts". A Typographic Workbook: A Primer to History, Techniques, and Artistry. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley. p. 347. ISBN 9781118399880. alphabet: a set of visual characters or letters in an order fixed by custom. The individual characters represent the sounds of a spoken language.
  3. ^ "alphabet". Merriam-Webster [online]. August 11, 2023. 1.a. a set of letters or other characters with which one or more languages are written especially if arranged in a customary order
  4. ^ The synonym 'magick' is an archaic spelling of 'magic'* used during the Renaissance, which was revived by Aleister Crowley to show and differentiate the occult magic from stage magic.
    * Crowley, Aleister (1997). Magick: Liber ABA, Book 4, Parts I-IV (Second revised ed.). Boston: Weiser. p. xxiv. ISBN 0877289190.
  5. ^ Buckland 1986.
  6. ^ Pennick 1992, back cover.
  7. ^ a b Rabinovitch & Lewis 2004, p. 153.
  8. ^ Pennick 1992, pp. 39–42.
  9. ^ E.g. the Horned God, the Triple Goddess. See also: Sigils.
  10. ^ E.g. the eight-spoked wheel , which in India is the Wheel of Dharma, is to Wiccans the Wheel of the Year representing the four seasonal festivals (in the Northern Hemisphere, Imbolc on February 1, Beltane on May 1, Lughnasadh on August 1, Samhain on November 1 — or the nights before) interspersed with four solar festivals (in the Northern Hemisphere, Ostara at the Spring Equinox c. March 20, Litha at the Summer Solstice c. June 21, Mabon at the Autumn Equinox c. September 23, Yule at the Winter Solstice c. December 21); Wiccans in the Southern Hemisphere often rotate these dates by six months. These major festivals are the eight sabbats; esbats are lesser gatherings usually held at or around the nights of the 12–13 full moons every year.
  11. ^ E.g. in Gardnerian Wicca the slashed-S symbol (glyph 54, "ì", in pagan-symbols font Symbats) represents the ritual scourge, or the ritual practice of scourging; it appears in Gerald Gardner's own Book of Shadows ("The Laws" paragraphs 161 & 162).
  12. ^ E.g. 🜁 Air 🜂 Fire 🜄 Water 🜃 Earth, the four classical elements.
  13. ^ E.g. Pentagram, or Pentacle, representing the human essence and role in the universe; the lower four points are said to stand for the four classical material elements, while the fifth point on top is said to stand for either Aether or Spirit. E.g., Tyson 2001, p. 147: "In the system of the Golden Dawn, the top point of the pentagram is assigned to Spirit, the upper-left point to Air, the upper-right point to Water, the lower-left point to Earth, and the lower-right point to Fire. These elemental forces are summoned and banished by projecting the pentagram in various ways."
  14. ^ As for instance the sundry rune-poems discuss the runes in terms of their names' meanings rather than their sounds – though most stanzas' first line "head-rhymes" (alliterates) with that sound, the rune's name being the first word.(Page 1999, p. 188.) E.g. the first line of the Old English rune poem, " [Feoh] bẏþ frofur fira gehƿẏlcum", uses the rune for its name's meaning "wealth": "Wealth is a comfort to all men".(Page 1999, p. 65.) A runic talisman might use that single rune to attract wealth. In the sole extant manuscript of the poem Beowulf, the ēðel rune was used as a logogram for the word ēðel (meaning "homeland", or "estate"), per Page 1999, p. 221. Cf. Lebensrune as a symbol for life or (inverted) for death.
  15. ^ Ager, Simon. "Daggers alphabet". Omniglot.
  16. ^ Ager, Simon. "Alphabet of the Magi". Omniglot.
  17. ^ Ager, Simon. "Angelic alphabet". Omniglot.
  18. ^ Ager, Simon. "Enochian alphabet". Omniglot.
  19. ^ Ager, Simon. "Malachim alphabet". Omniglot.
  20. ^ Ager, Simon. "Ogham alphabet". Omniglot.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ Ager, Simon. "Ogham for English". Omniglot.
  22. ^ Ager, Simon. "Runic alphabet". Omniglot.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ Ager, Simon. "Theban alphabet". Omniglot.
  24. ^ Ager, Simon. "Passing the River alphabet". Omniglot.
  25. ^ Including both the original Latin alphabet (see Sator square, Abracadabra amulet) and the modern Latin alphabet, as with the spells and talismans in the folk magic book: Hohman, John George (1820). Der lange verborgene Freund [The Long Lost Friend]. (published first in German, then in English). Reading, Pennsylvania. (Entire text online; Internet Archive copy of 1850 edition; printed replicas in each language are still sold.) Viz. the amulet at p. 17, resembling the Abracadabra triangle.
  26. ^ Buckland 1986, p. 57.


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