Greek Onomancy: Linking Isopsephy with Stoicheia

For someone who doesn’t much care for numerological and onomantic techniques, I sure have caught some kind of bug on this.  Then again, I suppose it’s helpful to brush up on these methods of exegesis and esoteric analysis of individual words.  I have it on my to-do list to analyze the Ephesian Grammata and other barbarous words within a mathetic framework, and besides pure meditation and contemplation, it helps to have some other guiding principles that can tease out deeper meaning.  Seeing how many of our forebears in philosophy, the occult, and religion used many of these techniques and in many different variations for their worldviews, I suppose there’s something to it.  Still, I can’t help but feel like I’m grasping at something hilariously dumb here, but I could use any tool I can get.

The last two posts have discussed a few methods of Greek numerological divination based on names, isopsephy, pythmenes, and modular division (taking the remainder after division).  With these methods, we know how to determine who will win in a fight, how a conflict may be resolved, and whether one will recover from illness and, if so, how soon.  These methods can be expanded in any number of ways, but I want to take this in a slightly different direction.  For me, although the isopsephy of the letters are important, the stoicheia is even more so (at least at my early stage of study).  It’d be awesome to find a way to tie isopsephy and stoicheia together, and I think I’ve found such a way.  Similar methods exist in the extant literature of Greek numerology from the early first few centuries AD, but I’m combining this with the rest of grammatomancy and a few of my other tricks to expand the system a bit further.

The process is similar to the other onomantic methods we’ve seen before, except instead of using 9 or 30 as our divisor, we use 24, since there are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet:

  1. Find the isopsephic value of a word.
  2. Divide each by 24 and take the remainder.
  3. If the remainder is 0, then we use 24.
  4. The letter corresponding in the Greek alphabet with the value is our letter.

Thus, consider my name, polyphanes (πολυφανης) has an isopsephic value of 1339.  1339 % 24 = 19, and the nineteenth letter of the Greek alphabet is Tau (Τ), associated with Pisces, lending my own name Piscean traits.  If we also include the Greek alphabet oracle into this, we know that Tau is associated with the oracle “You will have a parting from the companions now around you”; this can be an overall message to my life, something I should heed in all matters that can direct me as a fundamental bit of advice.  These two factors combined suggest that I’ll have a bit of a problem holding onto friends for a long period of time, possibly due to constant wandering, possibly due to constant mystery and mysticality surrounding me.

However, we can expand this as well by recalling that there are three groups of stoicheic forces represented by the Greek alphabet: five elements, seven planets, and twelve zodiac signs.  Although taking the remainder by dividing by 24 yields an overall view, an all-encompassing force to which a word or name belongs, we can take the remainder by dividing by 5, 7, and 12 to obtain a specific view for what element, planet, and zodiac sign specifically relates to that word under the overall context of the stoicheion obtained by dividing by 24.  Thus, again, using my own name of polyphanes with its isopsephic value of 1339:

  • Element: 1339 % 5 = 4.  The fourth element is Fire (Χ).
  • Planet: 1339 % 7 = 2.  The second planet is Mercury (Ε).
  • Zodiac: 1339 % 12 = 7.  The seventh zodiac sign is Libra (Μ).

Oddly enough, these are all some of the most important things I value in my work.  What about my actual given name, which is in Greek Σαμουηλ?  The isopsephic value of this word is 749, which yields:

  • Stoicheic: 749 % 24 = 5.  The fifth letter is Epsilon (Ε), whose stoicheia is the planet Mercury and whose oracle is “You desire to see the offspring of righteous marriages”.  Mercury certainly is a dominating force in my life (could you guess?), and one of the recurring messages I keep getting is to stop peering around and start acting on what I can and should be acting upon.
  • Element: 749 % 5 = 4.  The fourth element is Fire (X).  Although I’m more earthy than fiery in my birth chart, I still tend to run hot and dry.
  • Planet: 749 % 7 = 7.  The seventh planet is Saturn (Ω).  A planet that’s oddly and powerfully dignified in my birth chart, and with which I have a fascination and reliance upon after Mercury.
  • Zodiac: 749 % 12 = 5.  The fifth zodiac sign is Leo (Κ).  I have nothing in this sign in my birth chart, and it’s not particularly important, but then, this is all just me throwing things off the top of my head.  Leo is a sign of rulership and renown, and I do tend to end up with that despite my best attempts to avoid it.

Thus, by taking the remainder of a given isopsephic value by dividing by some sacred number, we end up with an association of a given word to an overall stoicheic force as well as specific forces that constitute its parts.  We can analyze a word through these stoicheic connections, determining overall esoteric or expressive meanings to each.

However, we can also use these stoicheic associations to make sacred words that “encode” the forces of a given word.  Combinatorically, it’s no different than just taking the isopsehic value itself; any word that has the same isopsephic value will have the same stoicheic associations.  So, let’s say we have our four letters based on a given isopsephic value of a word: stoicheic, elemental, planetary, and zodiacal.  The stoicheic force is both the end and beginning of the word, since it encapsulates and contains that entire word; we have this letter at the start and end of the word.  The other letters fill in the space between the “bookend” stoicheic letters.  Thus, for πολυφανης, we know that our four letters are Τ, Χ, Ε, and Μ.  If we use our rules for pronouncing generated Greek words from before, we might end up with the word Taukhemyt (Ταυχεμυτ, based on ΤΧΕΜΤ) to represent my name as a mantra or obscuration/occultation that focuses the entire forces of the word together, or that might act as a type of spiritual alias for the name based on its stoicheic forces much as the name of the natal genius functions for one in astrology.  For my given name Σαμουηλ, the corresponding letters are Ε, Χ, Ω, and Κ, and the corresponding word might be Ekhōke (Εχωκε).

This sort of linking between the isopsephy of a word and a given letter of the Greek alphabet, along with its corresponding stoicheia, isn’t too far a stretch of isopsephic and numerological techniques.  Similar techniques have been used in methods of onomancy that derive an astrological birth chart from someone’s name by modular divination by 7 and 12 combined with other numbers, and there are echoes of this in some geomantic techniques I’ve used and seen other use as well.  The written works of Joel Kalvesmaki in the modern day are an incredibly useful resource on how Greek numerology was applied, as well as number symbolism was used and interpreted in the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire period, and I plan on experimenting with some of these techniques in the future besides straightforward isopsephic comparison.  Who knows?  Maybe my own views on what I’ve perceived as nonsense will change.  It’s happened before with orgone tech, after all.

Greek Onomancy: Determining a Winner with Pythmenes

After the last post on onomancy, I realized that there’s more to Greek letter and number divination involving names than simply determining whether a sick person will live or die.  Plus, there are far more ways to count the letters in a Greek word than straightforward isopsephia, and this time I’ll go over a slightly different method that can be used in a more straightforward fashion than looking things up in a complicated table or circular chart.  This is called the method of pythmenes, or “roots”, and is based more on the numbers 1 through 9 than anything else.  The source text for this is from Hippolytus’ Refutation of All Heresies (book IV, chapter 14), which is a fantastic resource of how everyone did things back in the day that were offensive to early Christian sensibilities, including a good chunk of occult knowledge.

For the system of pythmenes, instead of assigning each letter of the Greek alphabet a number 1 through 9 by ones, 10 through 90 by tens, and 100 through 900 by hundreds, we only assign a single digit value to each letter ignoring magnitude.  Thus, Alpha (1), Iota (10), and Rho (100) all have a pythmenic value of 1, even though their isopsephic values differ.  Here’s a full chart comparing the isopsephic and pythmenic values of the Greek alphabet:

Letter Isopsephy Pythmenes
Α 1 1
Β 2 2
Γ 3 3
Δ 4 4
Ε 5 5
Ζ 7 7
Η 8 8
Θ 9 9
Ι 10 1
Κ 20 2
Λ 30 3
Μ 40 4
Ν 50 5
Ξ 60 6
Ο 70 7
Π 80 8
Ρ 100 1
Σ 200 2
Τ 300 3
Υ 400 4
Φ 500 5
Χ 600 6
Ψ 700 7
Ω 800 8

Or, shown a simpler way based on the pythmenic value:

Pythmenes Letters
1 Α, Ι, Ρ
2 Β, Κ, Σ
3 Γ, Λ, Τ
4 Δ, Μ, Υ
5 Ε, Ν, Φ
6 Ξ, Χ
7 Ζ, Ο, Ψ
8 Η, Π, Ω
9 Θ

Alright, so we have our numbers for our letters.  And yes, note that 6 only has two letters assigned to it and 9 only has one; 6 would also be assigned the letter digamma, and 9 would be assigned qoppa and sampi, but these are all obsolete letters and thus unused in pythmenes.  So, how do we use these values?  Generally, the rule to form a pythmenic value of a name is similar to that of calculating an isopsephic value.  However, there’s a little more complexity involved:

  1. Find the pythmenic value of every letter in the name.
  2. If any letters are duplicated, count the duplicated letter only once.
  3. Add up the pythmenic values of all the remaining letters.
  4. Divide the pythmenic sum by nine and take the remainder.  This is the pythmenic value of the name.
  5. If the remainder is 0, then the pythmenic value of the name is 9.

Now, say you want to compare two people who are, say, in a fight, and you want to know who wins.  Take the pythmenic value of each name and compare them:

  • If one pythmenic value is odd and the other even, the larger number wins.
  • If the pythmenic values are both odd or both even but are different numbers, the smaller number wins.

So, what happens when both numbers are the same?  This is where things get a little hairy, and it all depends, but both can be considered equal in power, yet a winner must result.  Generally speaking, if both pythmenic values are the same and are both odd, then the “lesser” one wins; if both values are the same and are both even, the “greater” one wins.  “Lesser” and “greater” are terms I’m applying to the notion of the challenger (“lesser”) and the challenged (“greater”); the challenger is one who must prove their strength or supremacy, while the challenged is the one who has already proved it.  However, “lesser” and “greater” can also imply other criteria such as age, wealth, standing, or other factors depending on the contest or struggle at hand.  Going by old (and admittedly sexist) number symbolism, odd numbers are perceived as masculine and therefore aggressive (“challenging”), while even numbers are perceived as feminine and therefore passive (“challenged”); thus, if both numbers are the same, they fall in line with whichever side agrees with the value.

So, consider two people fighting each other, and let’s pick the names Hector (Εκτωρ) and Patroclus (Πατροκλος) from Homer’s Iliad to determine who wins the fight.  Hector’s name has the pythmenic value of 5 + 2 + 3 + 8 + 1 = 19 % 9 = 1.  Patroclus has a pythmenic value of 8 + 1 + 3 + 1 + 7 + 2 + 3 + ∅ + 2 (the second Ο is a duplicate, so we don’t count it, thus ∅) = 27 % 9 = 0 → 9 (nine divides evenly into 27, so although the remainder is 0, this is pythmenically equivalent to 9).  Both of these numbers are odd but are not equal to each other; thus, Hector, who has the smaller pythmenic value, wins, and indeed, Hector kills Patroclus in their fight.  However, we know that Achilles (Αχιλλευς) also fights Hector after this; the pythmenic value of Achilles is 1 + 6 + 1 + 3 + ∅ + 5 + 4 + 2 = 22 % 9 = 4.  The pythmenic value of Hector’s name is odd, while that of Achilles is even, and since Achilles’ number is larger, Achilles wins and kills Hector.

Instead of determining the winner of two parties in a fight, this same method can be used to find out whether one will live or die in an illness.  We can see the disease as a struggle between patient and illness, and we can use the pythmenic values of the person’s name as well as of the day letter as we did before with the Sphere of Democritus and the Circle of Petosiris.  In the case of both numbers having the same pythmenic value, we can consider the patient to be the “greater” and the illness the “lesser” or that which challenges the patient.  Of course, sometimes the rules also took into account days of the week or other numbers, which could shed a little more light into the situation.

So, let’s say it’s 200 AD, and my name is actually polyphanes (Πολυφανης), and it’s a few days before the full moon, say the 12th of the lunar month.  I suddenly get a fever and I decide to go to bed, and a healer-magician comes by and runs some tests.  The pythmenic value of my name is 8 + 7 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 1 + 5 + 8 + 2 = 43 % 9 = 7.  The pythmenic value of the day number is 12 % 9 = 3.  Bad news for me; both values are odd but not equal, and the day the disease took hold has the smaller value, so the disease wins and I lose, i.e. die.

What if we take into account the day of the week?  Marking Sunday as day 1 and Saturday as day 7, let’s say that the 12th day of the lunar month happened to fall on a Tuesday, which would have the value of 3.  If we add 3 to the day number 12, we get 3 +12 = 15, and 15 % 9 = 6.  The news isn’t so bad after all; now the date on which I fell ill is an even number, and my name has an odd number which is greater, so I’ll win out in the end after all.

A variant of this technique can be applied to the notion of rematches.  If the conflict between the two sides is the first time they’ve fought, then you use the whole names of both.  If, however, this is their second match, drop the first letter of each name before calculating their pythmenic values; if the third match, drop the first two letters; etc.  This process can be continued as long as there exists at least one letter in one of the names, at which point we might expect that to be the final match between the two parties.

And just to leave you with a bit of fun to toy around with, I should mention that there are plenty of variations to this rule, as there are with many Greek numerological traditions.  Some of them follow:

  • Don’t discount repeated letters.  (It’s possible that an earlier form of pythmenes didn’t discount them, but I prefer doing it.)
  • Discount a letter that is repeated twice and only twice.
  • Discount letters that repeat a pythmenic value, e.g. Ω and Η.
  • Divide the end result by 7 instead of 9 to obtain a remainder.
  • Separate the letters out into three groups (vowels, semivowels, and consonants) and apply the pythmenic winner method above to each group of letters in the two names.  Best of three “rounds” wins overall.