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Angelic Science and The Grail Myth

by Vincent M. Bridges

Although humanity has spawned thousands of languages, fewer than a dozen instances of the invention of writing are recorded in human history. Most of these occurred in or around the ancient Near East. Cuneiform script in Sumer, Proto-Elamite in Caanan, and hieroglyphs in Egypt appeared roughly at the same time, around 3000 BC. Cretan pictoglyphs and the Indus Valley scripts are dated to around 2000 BC. Hittite hieroglyphs and Chinese pictograms developed between 1700 and 1500 BC, as did the Semitic alphabet which would eventually become, with the Chinese alphabet, the form by which all living languages are written.

teachingThe Semitic alphabet developed, according to the best archeological evidence, in the turquoise and gold mines of Sinai just after 1700 BC. Hieratic or cursive Egyptian phonetic letters were applied to a proto-Semitic language. We can easily read the Semitic word “b’lat,” the goddess, in hieratic characters on the quarry walls at Serabit El-Khadem in the Sinai. Similar developments occurred over the next two hundred years throughout ancient Caanan. By 1400 BC, roughly the time of the Exodus of Moses, these trends had merged into a form that scholars call the Caananite Linear alphabet. From this developed all other alphabetic scripts, from Latin Gothic to Old Hebrew and Imperial Aramaic, from Cyrillic to Kufic to Sanskrit and Amharic.

Logically, if any ancient alphabet could be called sacred, it must surely be that original alphabetic source. Tradition would also suggest that the origin of this sacred alphabet, the moment when the “flame letters” were revealed, involved the conjunction of Egyptian and Semitic sources in the Sinai. Working the mines where proto-sinatic inscriptions appear were the Midianites of the Bible, the people with whom Moses lived while in exile from Egypt. They were a Bedouin sort of people, pre-Yahweh Hebrews who worshipped a nameless God on a mountain top. It was while tending his flocks on the sacred mountain that Moses, the Egyptian prince, encountered the Burning Bush. Moses, of course, eventually returned to the Midianites’ sacred mountain with a vast horde of wandering Semitic refugees to receive God’s commandments; carved, we are told, by the divine appendage on slabs of stone.

Languages and scripts as far apart as Ethioptic, Tibetan and Arabic all have a “kabbalistic” tradition because of the sound/shape/symbol quality of the alphabet itself. Since all of these sacred alphabets were originally derived from a Caananite Linear source, we can speculate that the source of the concept is also the source of the alphabet.

In the tenth and eleventh century AD, the city of Troyes in France was home to a group of Jewish mystics. As Babylon declined as the center of the Diaspora, Islamic Spain became the focus of Judaism. This effervescence spilled over into southern France where the authority of the Church of Rome and its dislike for the Jews held little sway. In the latter half of the eleventh century, this community of scholars and mystics introduced a new elegant form of the Hebrew alphabet known as the Nachmanides-Rashi letters.

teachingThe core text of the Kabbalah, the Sepher Yetsirah, achieved its final form in the late eleventh century in southern France. Long thought to be the work of the school of Isaac the Blind, modern scholars have found traces of third century Gnostic thought as well as evidence of a ninth century reworking. The mystical scholars who assembled this traditional wisdom into its written form also adopted the use of the Nachmanides-Rashi letterforms. These Kabbalists were mathematicians as well. It is not beyond possibility that they had decoded the torus shape inherent in the arrangement of letters in the first verse of Genesis, and the outline of its tagin delineated spiral. From this realization might have come the “shadows on the meeting tent” idea expressed in the Sepher Yetsirah, and later elaborated by Abraham Abulafia.

From this perspective, the letterforms could easily have been generated by the rabbis of Troyes. All this becomes even more interesting when we remember another famous citizen of Troyes in the late twelfth century. The medieval poet who introduced the Grail Myth, Chretien de Troyes, wrote just a century after the earliest manuscripts of the Sepher Yetsirah.

The Grail Myth, as begun by Chretien, is an elaborate blend of Celtic myth, Christian chivalry and Gnostic experience. Women serve the sacrament from a “graal” that provides for all needs, except that of healing the wounded king and the wasted land. For that, a question, “Whom does the Graal Serve?” must be asked. Both Chretien and later Wolfram von Eschenbach, whose Parzival claims to be the real story that Chretien only partly understood, reported that the tale originally came from one Guyot, or Kyot, of Provence. Wolfram also claims that Kyot heard it from Flegantis, a Jewish astrologer from Spain. Wolfram’s grail, unlike Chretien’s large shallow bowl, is a stone fallen from heaven. It spells out the names of those called to its service and otherwise communicates through miraculous means.

Perhaps what we have at the core of the Grail Myth is a glimpse of the language generating “stone” or tetrahedron of the mystics of Troyes. The possibility is a fascinating one that invites further research.

We have answered only part of the puzzle. The medieval Kabbalists may have invented the letterforms from a geometric model, but that model came from the text of Genesis, dating roughly to the sixth century BC. While the mystery remains, we have gained valuable knowledge about the nature of a “sacred alphabet.”

So then, how can we define this concept of “sacred alphabet?”

First, it must do more than just spell words. The shape/sound/symbol coherence of the alphabets descended from the Caananite Linear allows languages as dis-similar as Hebrew and Tibetan to develop “kabbalist” symbologies. This can be seen at a glance by comparing a medieval Kabbalistic talisman, embedding the entire Tree of Life into one symbol using the first letter of each Sephiroth, with the Tibetan Kalachakra “Power of Ten” emblem.

Next, this symbological ability must reflect mathematical and geometric processes in the greater universe. In other words, a sacred alphabet also describes a cosmology. The alphabetic symbolism of the Sepher Yetsirah implies a sort of cookbook of creation. The Kalachakra system embraces all fields of knowledge, allowing ontology to recapitulate cosmogony.

A truly sacred alphabet may just be the quantum states which forms the shells/shapes of the atoms expressed in a sound/shape form that resonates with the atomic structure. These “letters” are then primal wave guides for space/time coherence. Their expression collapses probability’s infinite wavefront into one hologramic reality. The building blocks of God, indeed.

To understand this, we must look at two vastly different sacred alphabets, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Dr. Dee’s Ophanic script.

Hieroglyphs developed suddenly in Egypt just after 3100 BC. They appeared almost of a piece, with little or no developmental states. Old Kingdom Egyptian, as a language, is full of sophisticated ideas and strange, ritualistic concepts, things that would suggest a long period of evolution. But the alphabet in which these ideas are written appeared and reached its ultimate perfection in the course of a few hundred years. It would remain in use, though it would evolve into other forms, for the next two thousand years.

An Old Kingdom Pharaoh, visiting a Ptolemaic temple, could have read his descendant’s name from his cartouche, though he may not have been able to pronounce it. This continuity suggests that hieroglyphs served the sacred function of embedding symbologies extremely well. By this measure, they might be the most successful sacred alphabet in human history.

churchPerhaps the best way to see this is by examining the spelling of the name of the Neter, or god, Ptah. As the creator god of Memphis, Ptah symbolized the cosmic process brought down to human scale. Atum-Ra, the Sun God of Heliopolis, represented the creative force of the universe and Tehuti, or Thoth of Hermopolis, represented the actualizing of that creative force into the patterns of nature, into space/time itself. Ptah then shows how these forces shape the nature and being of man. We can think of Ptah as the architect of humanity, the DNA doctor braiding intelligence into simple Handy Monkey genes.

Esoteric Egyptology has long equated Ptah with the ratio known as Phi. This relationship can be shown simply by superimposing the glyphs that spell P – T – H. The glyph for P is a square; T is a semi-circle. Overlay these and you have the basis for the geometric derivation of the Phi proportions. Add the H, a cotton twist resembling a braid, and space appears for the development of the pentagram/pentagon from the Phi rectangle. This recursive nest of Phi ratios has often been thought of as relating directly to the human condition as a glyph symbolic of self-reflexive intelligence.

Add the determinative that indicates the divine condition and you have spelled a description of the force that embues life with consciousness.

Egyptian hieroglyphs seem designed to convey a direct experience of the essence of the word. Reading the name Ptah in elegant old Kingdom glyphs imparts a wealth of understanding at a level far deeper than just the intellectual. In a very real sense, you could never know who “Ptah” was, until you could read his Name. This ability to impart a direct experience of sacred realities makes the Egyptian hieroglyphic alphabet almost unique among human alphabets. Learning ancient Egyptian was perhaps as mind expanding as learning Martian was in Stranger in a Strange Land.

The spiritual core of Egyptian religion was the power of “words” to shape the texture of reality. Pharaohs, such as the Sixth Dynasty’s Unas, went to great lengths to inscribe whole texts on the inside of their tombs. The royal Ka could then read these words of power and re-shape death into immortality among the stars. By the Middle Kingdom, commoners were using some of these same texts in their coffins and tombs. Hieroglyphs remained the royal and preferred alphabet, but a more fluid form emerged.

This hieratic script was an attempt to reduce the hieroglyphic symbols to a form that could be swiftly rendered by a brush-like pen. Its more fluid motion of stroke abstracted the concrete images of Old Kingdom hieroglyphs into form-suggestive curves. Eventually, hieratic developed into Demotic and then the Greek influenced Coptic. The last hieroglyphic writing dates from the early fifth century AD.

By the seventh century, when the Arabs swept in from the desert with the hot breath of Allah behind them, knowledge of hieroglyphics had gone underground. And so we, humanity, lost touch with our most successful sacred alphabet. The Semitic alphabet forms, such as Greek and Arabic, allowed for a kind of symbol/shape/sound embeddedness, as described in the Sepher Yetsirah. But even this lacks the depth and immediacy of the hieroglyphs. Something important had been lost.

That “something” can best be seen by noting an attempt to fill the vacuum of its absence. Eleven hundred years after the last hieroglyphic inscription, Dr. John Dee, Queen Elizabeth I’s court astrologer and the foremost scientist of his age, received a new language from the angels. This language, so powerful that it was dictated backward to prevent setting off unforeseen consequences, was to be written in a new script, which was also miraculously delivered.

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