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Monday, 25 August 2008 19:33


Section V - Shamanic Wisdom
Chapter 5 - Shamanic Languages of Life


Each letter-number of the Hebrew alphabet signifies an aspect of living forces at play in the universe; and the text is intended to project these forces into our very being, thus acting as a Revelation.

Ken Roffmann, "Hebrew: the ‘projective' language"

...no letter-number -- whether Aleph or Bayt, or any other -- has its full meaning except in its relationship to others. This is because each letter-number is a symbol for one aspect of life's totality. Likewise, every colour in the rainbow is of and in the light.

Carlo Suares,
The Cipher of Genesis, p. 193


How might language, and particularly non-alphabetic language, affect our understanding of life?

Several years ago, my friend, and collaborator on this website, Ken Roffmann sent me a book, ‘The Cipher of Genesis: The Original Code of the Qabala as Applied to the Scriptures' in which the author, Carlo Suares, opined that thousands of years ago symbolic languages, Sanskrit, Ancient Chinese, and Hebrew to name a few, were developed in indigenous cultures throughout the world - cultures all integrally connected to the energies that create and sustain life. His book concerns itself with Hebrew characters he calls, 'letter-numbers' as he believes they were understood at the time the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, was written. As the quote above infers each character has a power and meaning that is far beyond any alphabetic letter.

As a Math-Physics major in college and then spending my working life with IBM, I had little time for formal education in linguistics. But while working with other cultures, I found that language fascinates me from several perspectives - the rhythms of Portuguese and how much a part of Brazilian happiness it seems to be; language structure and how it affects thought processes; the use of symbols going hand in glove with stories and conversational cultures; and the use of alphabets with there inherent efficiencies and capacity for creating single ‘truth.' Two facets of my formal education, Quantum Physics and Living System Theory, both developed in the last several decades, were instrumental in developing the ideas expressed in this chapter.

I believe that those people and cultures with symbolic languages intuited what we, primarily through science, have so recently formalized, and essentially rediscovered.

One of the thoughts that struck me when I first saw Suares's 3x9 construct of the twenty-seven letter-numbers was that, because the nine characters are essentially repeated three times in each column, they represent the organization for all living systems. The language is like an analogue of Living Systems Theory where organization is fixed and structure is continually changing. It is a language of life, with all that is necessary to understand the creation and sustaining of life. It is a sacred geometry of sound, energy, and shape.


In Kabalistic (Jewish Mystical) teaching there are four worlds, and I suspect the 3-tieredOO_V-5_2009-02-22 language gives us insight into the first three - the Newtonian world we see manifested; the quantum or abstract world; and the cosmological with all life's mysteries. Perhaps the latter gives us insight into the fourth world, the Ein Sof, or infinity that cannot be described by words or symbols. The tiers are numbered.

  • The symbols in the upper tier are numbered 1-9 and they represent the quantum, metaphorical or abstract world.
  • The symbols in the second tier are numbered 10-90 and are our perceived reality.
  • The symbols in the third tier are numbered 100-900 and are cosmological -- the source of deep mystery that our religions try so hard to explain.

Each column in the matrix represents one of the nine components necessary to create and sustain life, and each appears as either an abstraction (1-9), manifestation (10-90), or cosmic energy (100-900).

  • 1-10-100 are the Life-Death-Life continuum;
  • 2-20-200 our sense of Structure and Order;
  • 3-30-300 is Organic Life;
  • 4-40-400 is Birthing with all its inherent Resistance;
  • 5-50-500 is Universal Life;
  • 6-60-600 is Impregnation;
  • 7-70-700 is Unbounded Possibility;
  • 8-80-800 is Undifferentiated Energy; and
  • 9-90-900 is Feminine Beauty and Sensuality.

One can only imagine the loss of meaning when we transitioned from a symbolic language in which the symbols were grouped and there was an energetic connection among them, to an alphabetic language where letters were combined to form words. A secondary loss occurred when reading the written words that often represented a single truth, replaced the oral traditions of storytelling and dialogue. The efficiencies gained from the written, alphabetic languages are undeniable, but the very long term consequences are fraught with problems, and we are trying to solve them using alphabetic solutions. You may wish to go back to the chapter on ‘ Learning Organizations ,' and review the ‘Fixes that Fail' archetype to see if you don't come to the same conclusion.

Both the symbolic and alphabetic approaches are to be deeply appreciated, and now we must figure out how to re-blend them, and for much of our work in re-achieving sustainability, establish the symbolic as our prevailing paradigm. I write this because I believe that a critical part of our work is getting in touch with life, and the language we use plays a critical role. As each of us grows to more deeply appreciate life, we get in touch with the mystery of it all as well as the sensual beauty that is always with us. The language itself is alive as the energies of the letter-numbers interrelate, and from this we discern the spark or essence in everything -- the language brings with it an ongoing source of revelation.

This chapter was written in parallel with a talk I gave at my synagogue during Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). Each year a member of the congregation gives an interpretation of the Genesis story, ' The Binding of Isaac .' The usual interpretation of the Biblical story is that Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. Isaac is lead to the sacrificial site, and the process is begun. Just as Abraham is beginning to plunge his knife into Isaac, God spares Isaac and miraculously a ram is caught in some nearby brambles and sacrificed in his stead.

My interpretation of 'The Binding of Isaac' articulates how the energetic characters give different meaning to several commonly used Hebrew words, as well as to the story and portions of Genesis as written in the Old Testament. The symbols have been retained in that their names and shapes are today's Hebrew alphabet of twenty-two letters plus a variation of each of five letters when they appear at the end of a word. I use the term ‘word' loosely, since the symbols when combined may express anything from a phrase to a complex thought.

I found that when I focused on the symbols, particularly the Cosmological Symbols (100-900), the story read very differently. In fact, the name of the story, Aiqida, isn't about ‘binding,' but is a story of cosmological life birthing manifested, unbounded possibility - the birth of the Jewish people. The story is told from Abraham's perspective, a Mystic who gained profound understanding of the universe from the symbolic Hebrew language spoken in the community of Ur in which he was raised.



Although few of us have had the experience of speaking and thinking in a symbolic language, most of us have sensed an energy emanating from and a connection with some form of symbolic representation.

What type of experience(s) have you encountered?
Was there an understanding or a knowing that was profoundly different than classic learning?
Was there something that you'd classify as revelation?


Rev. 2009-02-23 MOM

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