Mishkan ha-Echad

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Hebrew Errors in the Golden Dawn

Hebrew is one of the first things people learn when they initiate into the Golden Dawn, and it crops up consistently throughout all the grades. The problem is many people never look beyond a cursory knowledge of it and take the Knowledge Lectures at face value, but there are many errors in them and various other books that continue to this day.

Sandra Tabatha Cicero covered some of these in an excellent blog post last week, but another one I came across recently was the spelling of Haniel with an extra Aleph. Regardie's book shows the spelling as HANIAL (האניאל), but in the Tanakh, where the name originates, it is spelled HNIAL (הניאל). Generally speaking Alephs are not needed to mark a vowel in the middle of a word, but many people have a habit of putting an Aleph anywhere they see an 'a'. Aleph is not a vowel, it's a silent consonant that acts as a place-holder for a vowel (for example, at the beginning of a word) or as a glottal stop. 

A particular pet peeve of mine is when people spell Shem ha-Mephoresh (שם המפורש) as Shemhamphoresh or any other variation of that. This is what we find in the Knowledge Lectures, but it's an error that comes from a lack of understanding of the grammatical constructs in Hebrew. Shem is clearly 'name', while ha is a preposition that can mean 'of', 'the', and various other things, depending on context. In Hebrew this is spelled with a single Heh, but no letter would ever be left on its own, so it joins the next word, which obviously led to some people thinking the next word began with Heh, not Mem. Sufficed to say, this is a mistake that modern students should try to rectify. Mephoresh means 'explicit', but some people translate it as 'extension' or 'divided', which are not entirely accurate, but give an insight into what the overall phrase means.

I consider Hebrew a vital part of the Golden Dawn corpus which students could benefit from studying in more detail. Not only will this enhance their ability to write, read and speak the language within the context of ritual, but some of the grammar that people dismiss as irrelevant to magical work provides insight into the mysteries of the Qabalah that cannot be accessed otherwise. The Qabalah is entirely built up on the foundation of the Hebrew language. To dismiss it is to dismiss much of the Qabalah itself.

I will be posting a few more things on Hebrew over the coming weeks that people might find interesting. First up will be some pronunciation aides and 'rules of thumb', which will also make spelling Hebrew words a lot easier.
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