Solar Grammatomantic Calendar in Use

In the last post, I unleashed a terrifying yet really not that complex new calendar system based on the Greek alphabet.  To summarize, I made a cycle of days, where “months” are 24 days long, each day corresponding to one of the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet.  A “year” of these days starts with the spring equinox, and there are 15 “months” in a “year”, leading to 360 days.  The leftover days between the end of the last “month” and the start of the first “month” of the next “year” are left as letterless.  In effect, I produced a solar grammatomantic calendar, or SGC; I expanded it to be able to note dates and times (down to periods of around one hour long) millions of years in the future, though this was just adding completion to the system for its own sake.  The heart of the SGC is the day cycle of letters to produce a usable cycle of days for divination.

How might calendars be used for divination?  Well, consider the cycle of the weekdays: there are seven days in a week, and each one is associated with a particular planet among the seven traditional stars so used.  We might expect more solary things to occur on Sunday, for instance, or cytherean things on Friday.  We might also use the weekdays for particular aims or purposes benefitted by the planet ruling the day, such as writing letters on Wednedsay for Mercury, or beginning business proposals on Thursday for Jupiter.  This system, combined with that of the planetary hours, forms much of the framework within my own ritual construction, which uses the ebb and flow of planetary forces as they change throughout the days and hours of the week.  In a sense, “divination” here can be expanded to the use of omens or the change in power or dignity of forces to achieve a particular end or to understand the world around us.

A similar thing is done with the tzolk’in, the Mayan cycle of 20 days, each with their own name, symbol, and oracular meaning.  I mentioned this before, that one of my friends on Facebook started doing a daily tzolk’in interpretation of the day, allowing for people to prognosticate based on the symbol representing the day in the cycle.  To an extent, this is still used in modern Mayan and Mesoamerican societies, though it’s mostly in the hinterlands and rural areas.  Still, the idea is the same: by recognizing the natural flow of powers, one can tap into them to forecast or to alter the future based on what one plans to do. Other such prognosticatory calendars have been used across the world, even if they’re in a debased form that notes only what “lucky” and “unlucky” days are.

What this all inspired me to do was to see if I could create a flow of the days such that each one might be associated with a particular letter.  With the SGC, we have a method to do that, and with varying levels of specificity.  The most important part of this is the use of the letter-day, which for 360 days of every year will have one of the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet.  Those days are held to be “ruled” or signified by the influence of that letter; thus, if the letter-day is Α, the oracular statement for which is “[Apollo] says that you will do everything well”, then the day is highly fortunate and beneficial for all endeavors.  This doesn’t bar more specific divination just for that day; I could always still ask the gods for a particular letter-divination myself and apply it just for my own ends, but the influence of the letter-day is universal across all places, peoples, and endeavors.

I also mentioned in the SGC a method of attributing the hours to the individual letters, much as in the same method as the planetary hours: take 1/12s of daylight and 1/12s of nighttime, and ascribe each to one of the Greek letters starting with Α at the dawn “hour”.  Thus, every day will have a cycle within itself of the 24 Greek letters, with different hours indicating different flows of power.  Unlike the system of planetary hours and days, where hours are held to be of more importance than the days, the grammatomantic hours here are less important than the days, since their effect is less and dependent on the overall letter, and is detached from any one grammatomantic day.  After all, the order of the planets used for the planetary hour changes from day to day depending on the planet ruling the day, but the order of the letters is fixed for every day.

Going bigger than individual days, I also set up a method of noting years and months using the SGC.  For divination, long periods of time such as eons, eras, or ages don’t have much bearing on divination using the SGC, but years and months may.  Whole lengths of time can be said to be under the sway of the force of the letters, but again, these are of less importance than the individual days themselves.  The months are less important than the days, and the years are less important than the months.  Trends may be predicted based on the letters for larger spans of time, but the letters become less and less meaningful as the length of time increases.

To make use of an example from last time, let’s look at September 1, 2013 at 10:35 a.m. for Washington, DC, USA.  We converted it into the SGC date, or Ζ.Τ.Ψ.Ω.Χ:Δ.  The letter-day is Χ, the oracle for which is “in succeeding you will fulfill a golden oracle”; this is a great day for success and carrying on great plans that may reach beyond one’s knowledge.  However, the letter-month is Ω, “you will have a difficult harvest, not a useful one”, indicating that this general time is difficult to achieve much at all.  The letter-hour is Δ, “in customs inopportune strength is weak”, indicating that for the moment it is unhelpful to force one’s way through; working with others, over approved channels, or according to protocol is best for attaining what can be attained at all.

If one looks at the general patterns of the oracular statements for the Greek letters, you’ll note that the best oracles tend to be clustered towards Α, and increase in difficulty, strife, or cheer as they get closer to Ω.  In fact, among the oracles in grammatomancy, Α is the best and Ω is the worst.  Extrapolating this towards the SGC, we can say that as time goes on, things get progressively more difficult and arduous after pleasant and easy starts.  The first days of the month, or the first days or months of the year for that matter, or the first hours of the day, would be considered the best for any working, while as the day (or month, or year) goes on, things get worse and more unfortunate.

Using the longer date form, incorporating the letter-era, letter-age, and letter-year, we might also say that the more there are of a certain letter in the date, the more powerful that force is.  Thus, if the date were Α.Α.Α.Α.Α, then this would be the best of all possible days in the calendar, happening only once every 13100 years or so.  Likewise, if the date were Ω.Ω.Ω.Ω.Ω, then this day would be the utter, absolute worst, and also the end of the entire cycle.  For most prognosticatory purposes, if the letter-month and letter-day coincide, it might be said to be a day of power suitable for any number of things, but especially those that the letter itself might portend through its divinatory meaning.

Alternatively, one might use the other occult meanings of the figures.  We might assign a set of lucky numbers based on the isopsephic (gematria) or ordinal values of the letters.  For instance, on letter-day Π (day 16), we might say that one could use the number 16 as a lucky number (ordinal value), or 8 or 80 (isopsephic) as lucky numbers.  So, if one were going to the market on a Π letter-day, one might buy things in amounts of 8 or 80, or one might go with the obvious pun and get maybe an eighth of a pie for oneself.  Instead of the numeric value of the letters, one might go with their stoicheic meanings, the elemental, planetary, and zodiacal indications of the letters.  For instance, on the letter-day Ι, we might say that anything particularly solar would be favored, since Ι is associated with the Sun; on the letter-day Β, which is associated with the sign Aries, anything involving rams would be good, as well as fighting, war, leadership, and the like.  By associating the different forces with the Olympian gods, either through their planetary equivalents (Jupiter for Zeus, Moon for Artemis), their zodiacal correspondences (cf. Agrippa book II, chapter 14), or the like.  For the qabbalistically inclined, you might choose different days to work with a particular path on the Tree of Life using the Greek letters instead of the Hebrew alphabet.  For those so inclined, I lay all this out in my ebook on grammatomancy (available here!).

Since the SGC is a solar calendar, with the start date of the years tied to the spring equinox of the year, we can use the SGC to approximate other solar phenomena.  For instance, the passage of the Sun through the zodiac can be approximated through the use of the SGC.  Since the Sun travels about 30° around the ecliptic every 30 days, the Sun travels through four complete signs after five-letter months, with an error of about 1.75 days.  Thus, the passage of the letter days can mark the passage of the Sun through the ecliptic in a fairly orderly way.  Marking the letter-months with Arabic numerals (to avoid the complicated assignment of letters to the letter-months based on the letter-year):

  • 1.Α or 1.1: Sun ingress Aries, spring equinox, Ostara
  • 2.Η or 2.7: Sun ingress Taurus
  • 2.Χ or 2.22: Sun midpoint Taurus, Beltane
  • 3.Ν or 3.13: Sun ingress Gemini
  • 4.Τ or 4.19: Sun ingress Cancer, summer solstice, Litha
  • 6.Α or 6.1: Sun ingress Leo
  • 6.Π or 6.16: Sun midpoint Leo, Lughnasadh
  • 7.Η or 7.7: Sun ingress Virgo
  • 8.Ν or 8.13: Sun ingress Libra, fall equinox, Mabon
  • 9.Τ or 9.19: Sun ingress Scorpio
  • 10.Κ or 10.10: Sun midpoint Scorpio, Samhain
  • 11.Α or 11.1: Sun ingress Sagittarius
  • 12.Η or 12.7: Sun ingress Capricorn, winter solstice, Yule
  • 13.Ν or 13.13: Sun ingress Aquarius
  • 14.Δ or 14.4: Sun midpoint Aquarius, Imbolc
  • 14.Τ or 14.19: Sun ingress Pisces

Since the letter-days will be the same across years, we can say that Α, Τ, Ν, and Η are solstice days, and Χ, Π, Κ, and Δ are cross-quarter days.  Further, because five letter-months cross four signs of the Zodiac, this links different triplicities together, such that all the days of the fire signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius share the same letter-days as each other, all starting off on Α days.  Thus, we might call the letter Α fiery (since it starts off all the fire signs), Η earthy (since it starts off all the earth signs), Ν airy (since it starts of all the air signs), and Τ watery (since it starts off all the water signs).  Viewed another way, we might divide up the letter-year into three divisions of five letter-months each: months 1 through 5 are first “season”, 6 through 10 the second “season, and 11 through 15 the third “season”.  In other words, a season begins at the start of the fire signs of the Zodiac: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.  Considering where I live in a costal area in the the Northern Hemisphere, I’d name these seasons “warming”, “cooling”, and “dark”, respectively.

Of course, since the Sun doesn’t exactly travel 360° every 360 days, this attribution of the letter-days to specific solar phenomena doesn’t quite hold, and the dates will slip a little earlier as time goes on in the year.  This is why, at the end of every letter-year, there is a short period of five or so intercalary days to fill in the gap between the end of the last letter-month and the beginning of the first letter-month of the next year.  The intercalary days are meant to adjust the SGC so that it doesn’t get out of sync with the solar year, and as such don’t belong to the proper cycle of letter-days or letter-months.  These intercalary days have no associated letter and their hours have no letter attribution, as far as divination and magic are concerned.  Much like the intercalary wayeb’ days of the Mayan haab’ calendar, these days would be considered completely unfortunate.  Consider that it’s basically a gap between the proper letter-days, and that the most recent letter day (15.24) would be Ω, a bad omen; this would stick around and linger, filling the gaps in time and space and force.  Similarly, as a gap between the cycles, the intercalary days would be considered a time when the veil between the worlds or cycles is thinnest; just as the saying that “it’s darkest before dawn”, these days are those immediately preceding the spring equinox, the solar “dawn” of the year.  Alternatively, as might be done in Egyptian or Hellenic times and cultures, these might be considered a time of celebration, partying, and loosening of social rules and rites, for the same general idea that this is a time in-between, when cycles and routines are temporarily thrown off, when no work can properly be done anyway.

So, those are my thoughts on how one might apply the solar grammatomantic calendar for magic and divination in a few ways.  Of course, this is just one of the two possible grammatomantic calendars I suggested using in my first post on this; this calendar is based on the simple cycle of letters to form discrete months of time.  The other idea I mentioned exploring was combining a historical calendar, the Attic festival calendar, which is lunisolar and has a number of quirks and irregularities that make the SGC look simple in comparison.  Although grammatomantic days will still be used, the method to ascribe them to the days will be much more complicated, based upon the phases of the Moon and fitting it into a system complete with other religious and mystical observances.  Let’s save that for next time.

Grammatomancy: Divination by Letters

While idly browsing around Reddit and the rest of the vasty deep of the Internet, I encountered an absolutely fantastic website for people working in Greco-Roman or Hellenic pagan paths, the Biblioteca Arcana.  I was directed to the site while looking up some information on dice-based divination, and ended up discovering something a little more interesting: a system of divination that uses the Greek letters much as modern diviners use the Elder Futhark runes.

The system is pretty easy to learn.  There are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet (ignoring the obsolete digamma, qoppa, and sampi), and each letter is associated with a particular oracular verse or lyric that begins with that letter (much as an acrostic).  Select a letter through some random means (dice, selecting a stone from a bag, etc.), and the oracular verse corresponded with the letter is the answer.  This is effectively divination by Greek letters, or grammatomancy.  Since all the oracular verses are fairly short, it’s only a minor chore to associate the Greek letters with the meanings of them, no more tedious than learning runes.  It might even be simpler, since the traditional technique didn’t allow for multiple letters being drawn or reversed letters (though I’m sure the system could be modified to allow for it, definitely something to try out).

The dude at the link above, Apollonius Sophistes, offers three methods of selecting letters randomly: using stones or potsherds inscribed with one letter on each, using four sheep knucklebones, or using five six-sided dice (noted as 5d6 in RPG terms).  The knucklebones and dice, when rolled, give a number associated with a particular letter.  While I’m fond of the first method, I wanted something that was simpler to carry around.  Considering that there are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet, why not use that number to our advantage?  We can factorize 24 into 4 and 6, so one method is to use the a four-sided die (1d4) to select a “hexad” of letters (hexad 1 = Α through Ζ, hexad 2 = Θ through Μ, etc.), and to use a six-sided die (1d6) to select the letter within the hexad.  So, say we roll the dice and get 3 on the d4 and 5 on the d6.  So, we look at the fifth letter in the third hexad, which is Ρ (Greek rho, not Latin pee).

Alternatively, 24 divides into 2 and 12; we could use a twelve-sided die (d12) and roll it twice, once to determine whether we look at the first dodecad of letters (first dodecad =  Α through Μ, second = Ν through Ω) and again to determine the specific letter within that dodecad.  We might say that an odd number on the first roll is associated with the first dodecad and an even number with the second.  So, say we roll 2d12, and we get the numbers 4 and 11.  4 is even, so we look at the eleventh letter in the second dodecad, which is Ψ (Greek psi).  Alternatively, instead of rolling 2d12 and using the first roll for its parity, we might roll a 1d12 with a 1d2 (i.e., flip a coin), but that requires having something extra on hand.

At any rate, what’s awesome about this style of grammatomancy is that we can combine the oracles given above with the technique of stoicheia, where each of the Greek letters is assigned to a particular magical force.  Consider that there are 12 astrological signs, seven traditional planets, and four classical elements plus Spirit/quintessence.  Thus, 12 + 7 + 4 + 1 = 24, the number of letters in the Greek alphabet.  The seven vowels (Α through Ω) are assigned to the planets (Moon through Saturn); the five complex consonants (Θ, Ξ, Φ, Χ, Ψ) are assigned to the elements (Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Spirit); the twelve simple consonants leftover are assigned to the twelve signs of the zodiac in order (Β with Aries through Τ with Pisces).

Through the use of the association of the zodiac signs with the simple consonants, we might use Agrippa’s association of the Olympic deities with the signs (book II, chapter 14) to arrive at big-name gods instead of just signs if we want a less astrological bend to this; similarly, we might use his association of the elements (book II, chapter 7) and of the planets (book II, chapter 10) to the directions.  We might want to go this route if we want to know which god or wind is favorable to appeal to or would hinder us, though all divination and oracles come from Apollo and/or Hermes in traditional reckoning.  This is in addition to using the numerical values of the letters in isopsephy or Greek gematria, as well, for another layer of interpretation that you might consider.

I’ve always held writing to be magical (as it damn well is, coming from Hermes-Thoth-Odin-whoever), and I’ve always wanted to try using writing itself as divination besides automatic writing.  Runes never clicked with me, but this style of Greek grammatomancy seems much more appealing; it’s probably just an aesthetic thing, but hey, aesthetics matter, and it fits much more closely in the systems and currents I work with than a writing system far removed in time, space, and symbolism.  I strongly suggest checking out the dude’s page and experimenting with this and other techniques of his; I know I will.  As a good academic should, he even posts his sources and scans of original Greek texts where applicable, which is pretty awesome.  I’m pretty psyched to learn this style of divination, if you guys couldn’t tell.

Fiery Walls of Protection, Elemental Analyses, and More!

So, I finally finished a few pages posted around the site.  I figured they’d be better off as pages so people could access them easier, even though I originally intended for them to be posts.  I swear I’m not doing this to get myself more traffic, honest.

  • I recently made a batch of Fiery Wall of Protection oil to great success.  It’s up under the Crafts section for ease of reference and for how involved it was (rather).  Beyond simple combinations of loose incense, this is my consumable creation that will eventually need to be redone; however, given the amount and potency of the stuff I made, this will not be for a good while.  Given how it’s made a normally stoic angel rejoice at what I did, and how it made even my natal genius go “WTF is this burning shit”, I think I did it right.
  • I’ve put up another page under the Ritual menu: the Q.D.Sh. (Quick, Dirty, and Short) Ritual.  It’s an all-around preparatory rite to be used in a pinch, but it works and covers all the bases without requiring much in the way of materia or memorization.  As a combination of smaller techniques, it’s got shielding, grounding, banishing, centering, and tuning, pretty much just what everyone needs to begin a ritual in the field on a moment’s notice.
  • Under the Skills menu, you’ll find a page on stoicheia, an alternative method of understanding the occult meanings of words and names written in the Greek alphabet using astrological and elemental concepts.  It’s like a kind of alchemical gematria for Greek, and I highly prefer it over numerical gematria or isopsephy when coming across barbarous words of invocation or voces magicae in sources like the PGM.

As an aside, the kick I got from working with the fiery forces of Mars, the Sun, and Fire for the Fiery Wall of Protection oil for such a sustained period of time was fantastic. It was like I was on a high/energy rush for two weeks straight without burning out, and this is coming from the guy that Michael suggested to calm the fuck down when it came to this kind of work.  Give it a try sometime, I highly recommend it.  Just FYI, there is a chance it might induce extended periods of partying, redoing one’s fashion and appearance, picking up German though Youtube videos, body piercing, doing walks of shame (or strides of pride, depending on your mindset) to work, and launching into new and life-changing musical tastes.  It was a real fun two weeks, you guys.