The Angelic Alphabet
by Aaron Leitch
Copyright © 1999 C. "Aaron Jason" Leitch
When John Dee and Edward Kelley received a new magickal system from Angelic beings in the late 1500s, it included information concerning the Angelic language. We have only small samples of the language: including the famed "48 Angelic Keys", and several tablets and seals containing Divine and Angelic Names. It seems to possess it's own unique grammar and syntax, as well as it's own alphabet. The Angels informed the two mages that this was the language which all Angels speak, as well as being the original language of Eden, with which Adam named (in an occult sense) all things in existence. The Archangel Gabriel tells us the following on April 21, 1583 (A True and Faithful Relation p. 92-3):
whereby even as the mind of man is moved at an ordered speech, and is easily persuaded in things that are true, so are the creatures of God stirred up in themselves, when they hear the words wherewithal they were nursed and brought forth: For nothing moveth, that is not persuaded: neither can any thing be persuaded that is unknown. The Creatures of God understand you not, you are not of their Cities: you are become enemies, because you are separated from him that Governeth the City by ignorance.
Man in his Creation, being made an Innocent, was also authorized and made partaker of the Power and Spirit of God: whereby he not only did know all things under his Creation and spoke of them properly, naming them as they were: but also was partaker of our presence and society, yea a speaker of the mysteries of God; yea, with God himself: so that in innocency the power of his partakers with God, and us his good Angels, was exalted, and so became holy in the sight of God [Hebrew] is not of that force that it was in his own dignity, much less to be compared with this that we deliver, which Adam verily spake in innocency, and was never uttered nor disclosed to man since till now, wherein the power of God must work, and wisdom in her true kind be delivered: which are not to be spoken of in any other thing, neither to be talked of with man's imaginations; for as this Work and Gift is of God, which is all power, so doth he open it in a tongue of power, to the intent that the proportions may agree in themselves: for it is written, Wisdom sitteth upon an Hill, and beholdeth the four Winds, and girdeth herself together as the brightness of the morning, which is visited with a few, and dwelleth alone as though she were a Widow.
Thus you see the Necessity of this Tongue: The Excellency of it, and the Cause why it is preferred before that which you call Hebrew: For it is written, Every lesser consenteth to his greater. I trust this is sufficient.
The saga of the Angelic language is recorded in Dr. Dee's diaries. It begins on March 26, 1583- where the Liber Logaeth (Book of the Speech From God) is revealed to Kelley. The book was described as being "all full of squares" and written in a completely alien tongue. The characters used are the same ones that appear on the Holy Table of Practice, as well as the Lamen that Dee was to wear hidden away in a piece of white silk whenever he called upon the Angels.
Usually, the Angelic language is studied in it's English transliteration. Kelley had originally seen Logaeth written in Angelic characters, and the Archangel Raphael began the transmission of the text by naming each character one by one. However, this was an extremely tedious and time-consuming process. Dee finally asked if Roman characters could be used instead, and the Angels grudgingly consented. This was basically the last we saw of the Angelic characters.
The alphabet itself was shown to Kelley on May 6, 1583, directly upon a page in his journal, in a golden ("yellow") color. He was then able to trace the characters before the astral impression faded, and thus the alphabet was recorded for our use today. However, beyond the already mentioned Table and Lamen, there is no existing information on how the characters might be used, or what exactly they might mean. The purpose of this essay is to address that issue, and to offer some historically sound methods of working with the Angelic letters.
Language of Power
The letters number 21, and their names were given in three sets of seven (which Donald Tyson calls "families")- suggesting a highly mystical interpretation. Below is a table of the letters, along with their names and phonetic values:
Family of Pn Family of Tal Family of Pal
B Pn (b) M Tal (m) X Pal (x)
K Vah (c/k) Y Gon (i/y/j) O Med (o)
G Ged (g/j) H Na (h) R Don (r)
D Gal (d) L Ur (l) Z Ceph (z)
F Or (f) P Mals (p) V Van (u/v/w)
A Un (a) Q Ger (q) S Fam (s)
E Graph (e) N Drux (n) T Gisg (t)
The largest clue to their use is suggested by the very nature of the Angelic language itself. As Gabriel explained above, it is a magickal language of power rather than an earthly spoken tongue. It is obvious that not just any text can be transliterated into the Angelic characters, nor is it to be used for everyday speech. As is evidenced by Liber Logaeth, it is literally a language of creative force.
It seems to me (and I am hardly the first to consider this possibility) that the characters are ultimately similar to Runes or Ogham. Like Angelic, these alphabets existed unto themselves, and were not simply fancy forms of already-existing letters. (Such as the various Hebrew-based magickal alphabets: Malachim, Passing the River, Celestial, etc. These can all be found in Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy.) Instead, these alphabets were used strictly for mystical purposes- to inscribe holy objects and texts. Each character is a magickal sigil over and above any relation to a phonetic value.
The Angels themselves did have a thing or two to say about Angelic writing, though it is admittedly cryptic. So far, no one has been able to discover the specific mysteries implied by their descriptions. To begin with, each letter of each word in the Keys was assigned a number- though this stopped early in the process. For instance, the word "Zorge" (Be Friendly Unto Me) was delivered as follows:
E The 6th. From the right angle uppermost to the left, 700
G The 13th. Descending, 2000
R The 17th. From the center downward, 11004
O The 32nd. Descending from the right angle to the center, 32000
Z The 47th. 194000 descending. Call it "Zorge". [Of one syllable]
The first number (6th, 13th, etc) refers to the page number in Liber Logaeth from which the letter was taken. Each page (or Table) of Logaeth represents an occult force, and the words contained in the Table are the words of creation uttered by God to manifest that force. (See Genesis I, and the many instances of "God said") Therefore, each letter of every word in the Angelic Keys was taken from a specific Table, and from a specific Word of Creation therein. Each word, then, is a compilation of various Divine Forces, making each a specific creative formula.
What follows the Table numbers in the above is anyone's guess. It seems obvious that it has some relation to the particular location of the letter on the Table. However, the pattern involved has yet to be discovered. Even if one were to number every letter on a Table (which is 49 x 49 squares large per side), you would still not come up with numbers as large as 194000. It is most likely that these numbers are not to be taken literally. For instance, it is unlikely that 194000 is actually to be understood as one hundred ninety four thousand.
When Kelley asked the Archangel Gabriel about these numbers, he replied as follows (A True and Faithful Relation p. 92):
Brother, what is the cause that all the World is made by numbers? The Numbers we speak of, are of reason and form, and not of merchants.
Every letter signifieth the member of the substance whereof it speaketh. Every word signifieth the quiddity of the substance. The Letters are separated, and in confusion: and therefore, are by numbers gathered together: which also gathered signify a number: for as every greater containeth his lesser, so are the secret and unknown forms of things knit up in their parents: Where being known in number they are easily distinguished, so that herein we teach places to be numbered: letters to be elected from the numbered, and proper words from the letters, signifying substantially the thing that is spoken of in the center of his Creator, whereby even as the mind of man is moved at an ordered speech. [etc].
Gabriel is, of course, discussing the gathering of the letters from their various positions in Logaeth. He also implies the concepts of Gematria- where occult meanings and relationships between words can be discovered by finding their numerical values. However, Gematria depends on assigning numbers to each letter of the alphabet, and applies most directly to languages that use their alphabetic characters as a number system as well. Thus, in Hebrew, the letter "Gimel" has the phonetic value of "G" as well as the numeric value of three. The letters in any Hebrew word can be added for a numeric total- which can then be worked with after the fashion of numerology.
Angelic characters are not given any such values. In fact, any given Angelic letter might be related to many different numbers throughout the text of the Keys. For instance, we have such examples as the following:
Os = 12 Mapm = 9639 Acam = 76999
Cla = 456 Af = 19 Ni = 28
Pd = 33 Peoal = 69636 Ox = 26
This merely scratches the surface of the odd numbers that appear in the Angelic Keys. It also serves to illustrate the complications in attempting to create a system of Angelic Gematria. Finally, it sheds no light at all upon the large "positional" numbers given with the letters of the Keys. It is very possible that any form of Angelic Gematria will have to come from that system, utilizing Liber Logaeth itself.
Of The Names Of Spirits
With Gematria being left on the back burner for now, we are left to question other possibilities of working with the Angelic language. Beyond what Gabriel tells us above, the diaries are silent concerning the sigil-like nature of the characters. However, it is possible to study the methods used by mages of the past in working with their sacred alphabets. Even John Dee himself was familiar with several techniques- mainly concerning the use of Hebraic characters- which may have been exactly what Gabriel was referring to when he stated: "it is preferred before that which you call Hebrew."
The Three Books of Occult Philosophy, written by Henry Cornelius Agrippa in 1509 CE, has been invaluable to my own studies of the Angelic (or "Enochian") material. It is well known that Dee himself owned a copy, and that elements of that work can be found throughout his Angelic system of magick. The book is even mentioned once in the diaries, in connection with the reception of the 91 (or 92) Parts of the Earth. Therefore, when we are faced with such an enigma as the Angelic alphabet (and how to use it), it makes sense to return to this source material- to see what Agrippa had to say concerning sacred alphabets and characters.
The relevant sections of Agrippa's work are contained in Book Three, and begin with a chapter entitled, appropriately enough, Of The Tongue Of The Angels, And Of Their Speaking Amongst Themselves, And With Us (Ch. 23). No doubt this was of profound interest to Dee and Kelley. Over the next few chapters, we are taught various methods of discovering and formulating names for Angels and spirits set over anything in existence. They include everything from obtaining the names in a code-like fashion from sacred scripture to creating new names through various Qabalistic cipher tables. He tells us in chapter 24:
But the masters of the Hebrews think that the names of angels were imposed upon them by Adam, according to that which is written, the Lord brought all things which he had made unto Adam, that he should name them, and as he called anything, so the name of it was. Hence, the Hebrew mecubals think, together with magicians, that it is in the power of man to impose names upon spirits, but of such a man only who is dignified, and elevated to his virtue by some divine gift, or sacred authority.
But because a name that may express the nature of divinity, or the whole virtue of angelical essences cannot be made by any human voice, therefore names for the most part are put upon them from their works, signifying some certain office, or effect, which is required by the quire of spirits: which names then no otherwise than oblations, and sacrifices offered to the gods, obtain efficacy and virtue to draw any spiritual substance from above or beneath, for to make any desired effect.
Of course, Agrippa uses Hebrew throughout the text to illustrate the various methods of name generation. However, he also states the following in chapter 27:
because the letters of every tonguehave in their number, order, and figure a celestial and divine original, I shall easily grant this calculation concerning the names of spirits to be made not only by Hebrew letters, but also by Chaldean, and Arabic, Egyptian, Greek, Latin, and any other, the tables being rightly made after the imitation of the precedents.
This kind of philosophy takes on a deeper significance when we remember that Dee and Kelley were reading this in 1583. It sheds much light on Gabriel's statement that Angelic "is preferred before that which you call Hebrew." My proposal is twofold: In the first place, the Angelic alphabet can be used in place of Hebrew in the various calculatory methods. In the second place, there is reason enough to believe that the alphabet might have been meant for use in just this fashion.
Of Finding Out The Names of Spirits, And Geniuses From The Disposition Of The Celestial Bodies
Such is the name of chapter 26, book three, of Agrippa's Occult Philosophy. This technique is one that I find extremely fascinating, yet it has been a largely ignored subject in current magickal literature. The chapter begins as follows:
The ancient magicians did teach an art of finding out the name of a spirit to any desired effect, drawing it from the disposition of the heaven; as for example, any celestial harmony being proposed to thee for the making an image or ring, or any other work to be done under a certain constellation thou will find out the spirit that is the ruler of that work
A vitally important aspect of renaissance magick was the observance of astrological forces. In fact, a large portion of classical occult literature is devoted to magickal timing based upon the results of natal chart interpretations. Just as John Dee used this art to schedule a time for the Queen's inauguration ceremony, so too would he have cast horoscopes to determine the best times for his magickal operations.
In this way, strict magickal timing was often observed- during which various shamanic workings could be done. This included astral trips, spirit work, the fashioning of talismans, divinations, etc- all without much use of ceremony. The natural astrological forces of the time, along with the right prayers (perhaps some incense and holy water) was all that this form of magick required. It is from these practices that we hear of spirits ruling for limited periods of time, and texts that suggest spirits can only be contacted under specific astrological conditions.
The process outlined by Agrippa begins with this step- casting a natal chart for the desired time of working. If a chart shows itself to be particularly bad, it is assumed that one will automatically cast a new chart and reschedule. Once the final chart is drawn, it is first necessary to calculate the degree of the ascendant. Agrippa has us, then, place the Hebrew letter Aleph in that degree, and continue to write the alphabet all the way around the chart. Each degree is assigned a single letter, and the direction is counterclockwise to follow the natural course of the twelve zodiacal signs. When the end of the alphabet is reached, one simply begins anew with the letter Aleph, and continues onward until all 360 degrees have been filled. (It is highly unlikely that anyone would actually draw a chart massive enough to display all 360 letters. However, with the number of letters in the alphabet being known [Hebrew = 22, Angelic = 21] one can easily calculate the proper letter for any given degree).
From there one only needs to interpret the chart as normal, making distinctions between the planets with good dignities and those with bad. The concept is to focus on the specific forces one needs most for the work at hand- in a fashion not at all unlike talismatic imaging. Ignoring the weaker and negative aspects of the chart, one can "compile" those forces that are necessary to the magickal goal. These are, in a literal sense, the Forces (and thus Gods, Angels, etc) which one is attempting to call upon.
Each degree which contains a desired aspect of the chart now has a letter associated, and these are gathered together to formulate a name. The ordering follows the same pattern as above- begin at the ascendant, and continue counterclockwise from there. The letters of the name fall in order as they are encountered along the way.
A "qliphothic" name can also be derived using the same process. However, the entire process must be followed clockwise, or against the natural order of the signs. Agrippa also suggests that some began this counter-process from the degree of the descendent, rather than the ascendant. The text goes on to give further methods of performing the same process, though I leave study that for the aspiring student.
The name that is thus derived is the genius or intelligence set over that specific time, and the mage's magickal work. Agrippa explains that this method can even be used to find the name of one's personal genius, or (as we call it today) the Lesser Guardian Angel. This is the Angel you learned about while growing up- who sits on your right shoulder and attempts to talk you out of bad deeds. This is the Guardian Angel that is often credited with keeping people from physical harm. Also, as Agrippa explains, this is the Angel set over your home, career, and all such mundane aspects of your life. I should note that this is not the Holy Guardian Angel described in the Book of Abramelin, who is more concerned with your ultimate spiritual evolution.
As for calculating the Lesser Guardian's name, one only needs to construct their own natal chart, and proceed as instructed above. To make the name proper in a Qabalistic sense, one must append the name with "El" or "Yah" in the style of the Shem haMephoresh. On the other hand, it would seem that this is not necessary when working with something other than one's personal genius. However, if one is using the Angelic alphabet, there should be no need for this convention in any case.
Of The Calculating Art Of Such Names By The Tradition Of Cabalists
This is the name of chapter 27 in the Third Book of Occult Philosophy. This section gives us further methods of working with the name obtained via the methods of chapter 26. It involves permutating the name of the intelligence to discover an entire hierarchy of Angels who rule above the intelligence himself. It is possible to generate nine such names- one for each of the nine traditional Angelic Choirs: the Angels, Archangels, Principalities, Virtues, Powers, Dominations, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim. (See Agrippa, Book II, Ch. 12: Of the Number of Nine, and the Scale Thereof.).
To begin with, I will illustrate the table used in this procedure, replacing the Hebrew with Angelic characters:
Table of the Seven Planets
Luna Merc Ven Sol Mars Jup Sat Good
T B K G D F A E B
S M Y H L P Q N K
V X O R Z V S T G
Z B K G D F A E D
R M Y H L P Q N F
O X O R Z V S T A
X B K G D F A E E
N M Y H L P Q N M
Q X O R Z V S T Y
P B K G D F A E H
L M Y H L P Q N L
H X O R Z V S T P
Y B K G D F A E Q
M M Y H L P Q N N
E X O R Z V S T X
A B K G D F A E O
F M Y H L P Q N R
D X O R Z V S T Z
G B K G D F A E V
K M Y H L P Q N S
B X O R Z V S T T
Evil Sat Jup Mars Sol Ven Merc Luna
This table consists of two outer columns and seven inner columns. The right-hand outer column (marked "good") is called The Entrance of the Good Angels, and includes the Angelic alphabet written in order from top to bottom. The left-hand outer column (marked "evil") is called The Entrance of the Evil Angels, and includes the Angelic alphabet written in reverse order. The center columns include the alphabet written from left to right, in seven letter sections, repeating all the way to the bottom of the table. Each of these seven columns is assigned one of the Planetary forces.
In order to use this table, one must enter the desired name (i.e.- that obtained from the natal chart) into the proper outer column. Those names taken from the ascendant counterclockwise will enter from the right, and those taken from the descendent counterclockwise will enter from the left. To illustrate the process, I will use the Angelic name of "Madimi". (This was an Angel that appeared to Dee and Kelley quite often.) We will pretend that we have generated this name via an astrological chart. The following illustrates Madimi's name in Angelic characters, along with some fictional planetary attributes as if taken from the degrees of our chart.
M M Mars
A A Sol
D D Mercury
I Y Jupiter
M M Venus
I Y Luna
In this example, we would assume that these six planets fell in favorable aspects, while Saturn somehow fell weakly or negatively and was thus excluded. Madimi being a good Angel, we would look for the M (Tal) in the right-hand column. Tal is associated with Mars in this instance, therefore we scan to the center column of Mars. There we find the letter P (Mals), which becomes the first letter of the new name. The next letter of Madimi's name is A (Un), and is associated with Sol. Finding Un in the right-hand column and moving across to the column of Sol, we find the letter Z (Ceph). The process continues in this pattern until we run out of letters. For ease of study, I will illustrate the new name as it appears in Angelic characters:
P P Mars
Z Z Sol
K K Mercury
S S Jupiter
H H v Venus
X X Luna
This process has granted us a new Angelic name. The name "Pzkshx" is merely the first of nine possible names that can be generated with this table, and (according to Agrippa) is a member of the Angelic Choir known as the "Angels". This name can then be entered into the table just as we did with Madimi, to generate a name for the next Angelic Choir, the Archangels: This can then be entered into the table to generate a name for the Principalities. The process can continue until you reach the choir of Seraphim. For the purposes of practical magick, I will add the descriptions of the powers of each Hierarchy as given in the Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage (Dover, p. 260-1)
The Order of the First Hierarchy (Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones)
The spirits of the Seraphim serve to make thee respected and loved for works of Charity, for that which regardeth honors and other similar things. In matters of great importance they themselves act; but for matter base and carnal, it is their subjects who do serve and operate.
The Order of the Second Hierarchy (Dominions, Virtues, and Powers)
The property of the Dominions is to dominate; to procure liberty; to vanquish enemies; to give authority over Princes, and over all kinds of persons, even Ecclesiastics. The Virtues are proper to give strength and force in all matters whether of War or Peace; and in all Operations concerning the health of men, and in all maladies for which the fatal hour hath not yet been written. The Powers have the dominion over all the Inferior Spirits; and this is why they can serve in all things in general, good or evil, and they be straight and right in execution, very punctual, very prompt, and exact in their Operations.
The Order of the Third Hierarchy (Princes, Archangels, and Angels)
The Princes comprise Spirits capable of giving Treasures and Riches, and they or their dependants serve in all the Operations, being a mass composed of different Orders, and they are sufficiently truthful. The Archangels be proper to reveal all Occult matters, and all kinds of secret things, such as obscure points in Theology and the Law. They serve with great diligence. The Angels in general do operate each one according unto his quality. There be an infinite number of them. They command the Four Princes and the Eight Sub-Princes [of the Qliphothic hierarchy] in all kinds of Operations.
And this ends our exploration of Agrippa-style name generation, utilizing the Angelic alphabet "before that which we call Hebrew". What I have outlined here merely scratches the surface of possibilities to be found within the Three Books of Occult Philosophy as well as other bodies of classical magickal literature. I invite the reader to continue this research, and to see which methods generate the most useful Angelic names.
Agrippa ends chapter 26 with the following. I have decided to sign off my own essay with these words, as I feel that Dee himself likely read them and took them close to heart:
And these names being thus distributed according to the proportioned numbers to the starry account,  whilst the mind being astonished at the obscurity of them, and deeply intent, firmly believing that something divine is under it, doth reverently pronounce these words, and names, although not understood, to the glory of God