An Alternative System of Stoicheia

Far be it from me, a ceremonial magician, to take something simple without introducing some complexity or confusion into it.

In continuing and reviewing my mathesis and Greek language-based mysticism research, there’s one modern book that’s invaluable to my studies: The Greek Qabalah (1999) by Kieren Barry.  Barry’s scholarship is excellent, and he wrote the book as a hybrid between pure academicism and applicability for occultists and magicians, so it’s highly accessible for most people but with plenty of inroads for deeper analysis.  Of course, I’d love to read Franz Dornseiff’s “Das Alphabet in Mystik und Magie” (1925) since it has plenty more raw information, but that’s all in German, and alas, nope.  Anyway, Barry’s book is a good start, and it’s one of the original influences that led me to go against the “Alexandrian Tree of Life” and start over fresh.  From chapter 6 (emphasis mine)

On the evidence we have seen, it is plainly incorrect to state that there are only a few correspondences to the letters of the Greek alphabet along the lines of those found much later in the Hebrew Qabalah.*  It is also anachronistic, as well as completely pointless, to attempt to project Hebrew Qabalistic symbolism onto the Greek alphabet, or to imagine anything so historically impossible as an “Alexandrian Tree of Life,” as has been done.*…

* (48) See for example, S. Flowers, Hermetic Magic (York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1995), a forgettable mixture of historical fact and personal fantasy.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I claim that when a scholar is throwing those kind of footnotes at you in an academic work, you prolly dun’ fucked up.  But I digress.

So, of course, Barry mentions the property of stoicheia in several parts as he begins to discuss the mystical associations of the letters with other well-known forces or powers in the cosmos; the seven planets are a given, as well as all the permutations and wing- or heart-shaped formations of letter triangles that are formed from having rows of letters with slowly increasing or decreasing numbers of letters in each line.  However, the system of stoicheia Barry shows is much different than the one I use when it comes to the association of letters with the planets and elements.  Not that it matters much to me; I’ve gotten used to my system, and I’ve gotten good results from using it, but just in case anyone wants to start a meaningless argument with me saying that my way isn’t the only way, lemme preempt that and discuss what Barry talks about.  First, if you’re forgetful or unclear on what my system of stoicheia is like, read more here.  I honestly don’t know how far back the system I uses goes, but it’s at least as old as Cornelius Agrippa (book I, chapter 74); if it’s not any older than this, at least I know it works and makes sense to me.

The Greek words for the five elements are ΓΗ (earth), ΥΔΩΡ (water), ΑΗΡ (air), ΠΥΡ (fire), and ΑΙΘΗΡ (rarefied air, ether, spirit).  Note that there are only five consonants used between all of these words: Γ (used only in γη), Δ (used only in υδωρ), Π (used only in πυρ), Θ (used only in αιθηρ), and Ρ (used in all except γη, but the only one used in αηρ).  Thus, we can associate each of these five consonants with the five elements:

  • Gamma with Earth
  • Delta with Water
  • Rho with Air
  • Pi with Fire
  • Theta with Spirit

This method of assigning the letters to the elements, which I call the acronymic method (though this isn’t a true acronymic method), seems to have more truck in really old antique and classical systems than the phonologic method I use, which is based on the comparatively recent Cornelius Agrippa.  However, since the system of vowels connected to the seven planets remains the same in both the phonologic and acronymic systems, we can also complete this system of stoicheia by associating the other letters to the zodiac signs in the same way.  Thus, Beta in both the phonologic and acronymic methods is given to Aries, but in the phonologic system Taurus is given to Gamma (the next simple consonant), while Taurus is given to Zeta in the acronymic method (since Gamma is given to Earth, Delta to Water, and Epsilon to Mercury).

There’s also another method of stoicheia introduced by the classical Hellenic astrologer Vettius Valens, who associated the entire Greek alphabet to the 12 signs of the Zodiac.  This doesn’t assign letters to the planets or elements themselves, just the Zodiac, and since we have 24 letters and 12 signs, the associations are very straightforward: start with Alpha and Aries and continue on to Pisces associated with Mu, then Nu with Aries again until Omega with Pisces again.  This was used in a system of “onomatic astrology”, less astrology than numerology-like stoicheic interpretation of names, where yes/no divination on a matter involving multiple people can be performed based on how their names compare based on number and stoicheia.  Perhaps eventually I’ll get around to finding more about this, as there exist similar things at least as far back as the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM XII.351) and at least as recent as Christopher Cattan’s “The Geomancy”, but we’ll see.

So, if we compare these three systems of stoicheia (the full phonological stoicheia, full acronymic stoicheia, and zodiac-only stoicheia), we get the following system:

Letter Full Stoicheia Zodiac-only
Phonologic Acronymic
Α Moon Aries
Β Aries Taurus
Γ Taurus Earth Gemini
Δ Gemini Water Cancer
Ε Mercury Leo
Ζ Cancer Taurus Virgo
Η Venus Libra
Θ Earth Spirit Scorpio
Ι Sun Sagittarius
Κ Leo Gemini Capricorn
Λ Virgo Cancer Aquarius
Μ Libra Leo Pisces
Ν Scorpio Virgo Aries
Ξ Water Libra Taurus
Ο Mars Gemini
Π Sagittarius Fire Cancer
Ρ Capricorn Air Leo
Σ Aquarius Scorpio Virgo
Τ Pisces Sagittarius Libra
Υ Jupiter Scorpio
Φ Air Capricorn Sagittarius
Χ Fire Aquarius Capricorn
Ψ Spirit Pisces Aquarius
Ω Saturn Pisces

So, how does this impact my work with mathesis or Greek letter magic (grammatomageia as opposed to grammatomanteia)?  Well, not much.  It’s like the use of different house systems for astrology or different ways to assign the figures from the Shield Chart to the House Chart in geomancy; it’s just a different way of using the same tools and the same symbols.  While the system overlaps for 1/3 (8 of 24) of the Greek letters, the system is notably different.  But, if the only thing that really changes is what forces we associate them to, then the only thing that really changes is, maybe, the association of letters to the odoi of the Tetractys.  Remember, we assigned the letters to the paths based on their stoicheia.  The path of Taurus is still going to be the path of Taurus, the path of the Moon is still going to be the path of the Moon, and so forth; it’s just that, in my system, the path of Taurus is given the letter Beta, but in the acronymic stoicheic system, it’d be given the letter Zeta.  The letters alone change on the paths, as well as any tangential associations the paths receive based on the shapes and non-stoicheic associations of the letters; otherwise, the structure is pretty much solid.  Then again, like I said, I’ve gotten good results with my phonologic stoicheic system, so I see no reason to switch.

And no, I’m not going to redraw up that lettered Tetractys picture again for this.

As for Valens’ zodiac-only stoicheic system?  That’s almost neither here nor there; it’s geared for a different purpose, although it is one that’s interesting and bears further exploration.

Towards a Greek Kabbalah: Symbolism of the Greek Letters

From before, a letter has four parts: a name, a glyph, a sound, and a meaning.  The first three were discussed last time, along with a basic set of meditations to get us familiar with the first three of these parts.  We didn’t discuss the final part of the letters, however, which is the meaning of the letters.  Unlike the name, glyph, and sound for a letter, of which there tends to be only one of each, there are many layers of meaning for each letter: numerical, astrological, divine, oracular, Phoenician, Greek, and more.  This is what makes the divination system of grammatomancy so powerful, in that a whole world of knowledge can be unlocked with a single letter.  So, even though the meaning of a letter is the fourth part, there are many parts to the meaning of a letter.

What are some of those meanings?  Honestly, if I had to indicate all the meanings of the letters, this blog post would become a whole blog in and of itself, so I’ll simply list a few sets of meanings along with links or links to books for further reading, though my ebook on grammatomancy lists many of them:

  1. Numerical:  my page on isopsephy and gematria, Kieran Barry’s The Greek Qabalah
  2. Astrological: my page on stoicheia, Agrippa’s table of letters (book I, chapter 74, though I reverse how he arranges the planets to the Greek vowels)
  3. Oracular: Apollonius Sophistes’ Greek Alphabet Oracle
  4. Divine: a post linking the Greek gods to the letters for purposes of a lunar grammatomantic ritual calendar

Honestly, with all that down, we already have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips, but there’s another way to give meanings to the Greek letters: their original Phoenician names, and Greek words related to the letters.  Even the Greeks were aware, to an extent, of the Phoenician origin of their alphabet, which doesn’t diminish its importance in the least for our purposes.  After all, the Phoenician script was the origin of many of the world’s writing systems (especially if you buy the argument, as I do, that it formed the origin of the Brahmic script in India, which connects it even to the Far Eastern Korean).  The diagram below shows Phoenician in the center column, Hebrew to the right of Phoenician and Arabic to the right of that, and Greek to the left of Phoenician and Latin to the left of that.  Letters of different scripts in the same color boxes show the origin of the letter, while arrows show derivations of other letters.

Origins of Letters from Phoenician


Phoenician script has 22 letters, the same 22 as modern Hebrew; there’s a 1-to-1 mapping between those two scripts.  The Ionian Greek script, however, got rid of three of the letters (digamma/waw, qoppa, san/sampi), added four (phi, khi, psi, omega), and moved the position of the derived form of Waw (which became Upsilon) further back in the alphabet.  Each of the Phoenician letters had their own name, many of which provided the names for their corresponding Greek letters.  These names referred to, in many cases, earlier Egyptian hieroglyphs or related words that provided a basis for what the letter looked like.  Many of these names were maintained in Greek, often in derived forms, such as Alpha from ʾĀlp, Bēta from Bet, Gamma from Gimel, and so forth.  For the Greek letters that have Phoenician origins, either in name of the letter or its form, their Phoenician meanings might include the following:

Letter Phoenician Meaning
Α ʾĀlp Ox
Β Bet House
Γ Gimel Throwing stick weapon, camel
Δ Dāleth Door
Ε He Window
Ζ Zayin Weapon, sword
Η Ḥeth Wall, courtyard, thread
Θ Ṭēth Wheel, good
Ι Yōdh Hand, finger
Κ Kaph Hand, palm of a hand
Λ Lāmedh Goad
Μ Mēm Water
Ν Nun Fish, serpent, whale
Ξ Simketh or Sāmekh Fish, tent peg, prop support
Ο ʿAyin Eye
Π Mouth
Ρ Rēš Head
Σ Form from Šin
Name from Simketh
Τ Tāw Mark, cross
Υ Wāw Hook
Φ Form from Qōph Back of the head, sewing needle, eye of a needle, monkey
Ω Form from Omicron

Of course, by the time the Ionian Greek script was adopted and spread throughout Greece, many of the letter forms were so far removed from their Phoenician counterparts (if any existed) that many of these meanings became meaningless or detached from the letters.  However, the Greeks themselves often found new symbolism for the names, often from a variety of sources.

  • Words or names that started with the letter itself
  • Images or concepts that bear a resemblance to the shape of the letter
  • Words that bear a strong resemblance or things that have a connection to the name of the letter
  • Assigning a letter to parts of the body, starting with Alpha at the head and going down to Mu at the feet, then starting again from Nu at the feet and going back up to Ōmega at the head (cf. the Body of Sophia)
Letter Meaning
Initial letter Graphical Importance Body
Α  Man, air, Apollo  Beginning, invention, source, God  Head
Β  King, help  Duality  Neck
Γ  Earth, birth  Shoulders and hands
Δ  God, ten  Breast
Ε  Build  Justice, Apollo  Diaphragm
Ζ  Life, Zeus  Back
Η  Hera  Belly
Θ  God, death, Mars  The world/universe  Thighs
Ι  Jesus, jot, single  Line, perfection, Rod of Moses  Knees
Κ  Lord, Caesar  Lower legs
Λ  Lion  Ratio, progression  Ankles
Μ  Mary, myriad  Middle  Feet
Ν  Feet
Ξ  Ankles
Ο  Circle, heaven  Lower legs
Π  Father, fire, five, Mars  Knees
Ρ  Thighs
Σ  Savior  Belly
Τ  Cross, crucifix  Back
Υ  Son  Moral choice, dilemma  Diaphragm
Φ  Voice, sound  Breast
Χ  Time, Christ  World soul, cross  Shoulders and hands
Ψ  Psyche, soul  Holy Spirit  Neck
Ω  Ocean, Orion  End  Head

You’ll note that I’ve started to include Abrahamic and Christian references; this is intentional, and not simply me copying entries blind from Kieran Barry’s “The Greek Qabalah”.  After all, as a Hermeticist, I’m not opposed to including Christian or Jewish references here (despite my trying to distance myself from Jewish kabbalah); rather, including them reaches back and allows for more access to much of Renaissance and Medieval development of Hermeticism as well as its classical and pagan origins.

So, where does all this leave us?  Between the graphical shapes and names of the letters, along with their oracular meanings, divine connections, numerical and isopsephic connections, and astrological or planetary or elemental connections, we have whole worlds of meaning for each of the letters.  These can all be incorporated into the meditations on the letters by visualizing or contemplating on them while intoning or repeating the letters.  The images and symbolism of the letters, coupled with their pronunciation, will further open up more doors in exploring the worlds and meanings of the letters and how they affect the world through their presence and, by their presence, the will and presence of the gods and God.

In fact, speaking of doors, let me share a method of scrying I like to use for deeply exploring a particular symbol.  Once the meanings and symbolism of the letters in all their complexity and layers have been learned and reviewed, and after meditating briefly to calm and clear the mind but before leaving the meditative state, I visualize a doorway with a particular symbol inscribed on it.  In our case, that symbol would be one of the letters of the Greek alphabet.  Knock on the door, mentally intoning the letter itself, and open it up.  Everything inside is a representation and symbol connected to that original symbol; explore the world, perhaps calling on the genius or spirit of the symbol to guide you or to send you a guide, or calling on your own HGA or personal tutelary spirit to guide you through it.  Explore the world as deeply as you care to, and when you’ve decided you’ve had enough, take the same route back through the world, passing by all the things you passed by before, and exit the same way you came.  Close the door, clear the mind again, and exit the meditative state.  I’ve used this skill to great efficacy before, notably on my meditations on the geomantic figures and the elemental archangelic kings, and it can be adapted to any number of symbols.  Using this method with the Greek letters can increase one’s deeper knowledge of them by exploring the deeper symbolism and worlds behind the letters which wouldn’t be apparent from simply reading up on their symbolism, and can indicate other symbols not listed above as well as connections to other letters that might not be apparent.  Further, the technique can be augmented by having it take place in one’s astral temple, or astrally projecting into the world itself.

Lunisolar Grammatomantic Calendar in Use

Now that the lunisolar grammatomantic calendar (LGC) is explained at length, let’s talk about how it actually might be used.  To refresh your mind, dear reader, the LGC is a modern variation on the old lunisolar calendar that the Athenians used in classical Greece to determine their festival dates and religious observances.  The months are marked by the passage of the moon, with adjustments made every so often to get a calendar year to match the actual solar year.  With grammatomancy, they days are assigned a particular Greek letter for use in divination, magic, and advising on specific actions based on the day in the calendar; some days, however, don’t have letters.  Months and years, likewise, can be assigned letters (or not depending on the circumstances), and there are overall cycles of 38 years which repeat a certain set of letters for the year, month, and days.  All this to produce a calendrical divination tool, hence the LGC.  I made a solar version as well, the SGC, with which the LGC shares a number of similarities, especially in terms of how they might be used.

Again, the core point of the LGC is for divination.  Much as with the Mayan calendar stuff, or with the planetary weekdays and other Western ideas, different days will have different effects and different forces in effect; the use of the letters is to indicate what those forces might be and how we might align or counter them.  By using a calendar to map these forces out, we have a tool to help us prognosticate and plan for different events and circumstances that we can harness for our own ends.  With the Greek letters, each letter represents a different oracle, advice, planet, sign, element, god, number, and more; whole worlds can be unfolded from the use of a simple letter through the arts of stoicheia and isopsephy, as well as grammatomancy.  In this regard, both the SGC and LGC can be used to determine on a day-by-day, month-by-month, or year-by-year basis how a particular period of time will go.  By inspecting whether a day has a particular letter assigned to it, we might plan events for that day or avoid it entirely.

However, how these letters might be applied to the days can differ; for example, compare my own SGC and LGC, both of which have the same intention and the same core idea, but reflect it in different ways.  Depending on the need, the use of the SGC might be more preferable than the LGC, or vice versa.  Specifically with the LGC, the calendar is lunisolar, which is fantastic for most magical activities undertaken nowadays, especially by people in neopagan or reconstructionist traditions.  Since these guys, as well as farmers and other people who work with lunar forces in some regard, all use the Moon as a focus for determining time, using the LGC can help with augmenting their current style of working with time and lunar forces.  Another draw to the LGC is that it’s grounded in actual historical usage of an actual calendar, complete with its own cycle of festivals, religious observances, and power.  For the Hellenismos crowd especially the LGC would be of help in combining religious observances with magical forecasting beyond other augury and divination.  Being more in tune with natural cycles than artificial precision as the SGC has, the LGC would also be better in charting planting cycles or other worldly/earthy/natural events.  Of course, this is all based on the Athenian ritual calendar, some of the days of which are associated with particular deities; for instance, Apollo is associated with the seventh day of the month, which is assigned the letter Ζ.  This gives Apollo a similar connection, and can help explain other attributes of his or explain those of the letter itself.

One notable difference between the SGC and the LGC is that the LGC has far more unassigned periods of time than the SGC.  To clarify, the SGC year has only five to six days that have no letters at the end of the year to make up for the difference between the total duration of the letter-months and that of the solar year.  Further, only days can miss a letter; the intercalary days are not assigned to any month, and all the months, years, ages, eras, eons, and so forth are all labeled with letters.  On the other hand, the LGC has roughly 65 days per year that are without a letter due to the length of the lunar synodic month, and even whole embolismic months or leap years have no letter assigned, either, according to the system I proposed.  Similarly, embolismic months and leap years might be considered special times for settling debts, finishing work, and clearing out the old brush to make way for new growth, since these times always represent some kind of closing or coming to an end of a cycle.  This would especially be true of the last embolismic month of the 38-year cycle for the LGC, which I envision as something of a party month.

That also brings up another important difference between the SGC and LGC: the use of the obsolete letters in the LGC.  Digamma, qoppa, and sampi are ancient letters that were used in very early forms of Greek as it began to borrow the Phoenician script for its own use; however, these letters were no longer in use at the time of the Greek alphabet oracle I use, and hadn’t been for quite some time except to mark numbers.  As such, they have no oracular meaning ascribed to them, nor are they used in stoicheia, qabbalah, or magic.  Due to this, days that are marked with these obsolete letters are effectively letterless, or explicitly unlucky days as opposed to the otherwise unlettered days, which might be considered more like a Moon void of course period or “thin time”.   Since these letters were overall dropped due to their uselessness, not even retained for their etymological value, these days might also be considered “dropped” from usefulness, with business being avoided entirely or similar prohibitions observed.  Since in the second and third decades of the lunar month the last day was letterless and the second to last had an obsolete letter, this gives the calendar a type of “weekend” for rest or for other observations.  The first decade, on the other hand, would be focused on ritual and sacrifices throughout those ten days.

Another change in purpose is how dates are even used between the SGC and LGC.  The LGC is focused on near-term natural cycles that have an immediate and direct need, and doesn’t really have much of a convention for calculating or even denoting dates far into the future or the past outside of the current cycle.  This follows the traditional view of time, where these things simply had no real meaning; events far in the past were history-myths, and events far in the future were undetermined and up to the gods.  What was needed was individual human timeframes that one could deal with and live within.  On the other hand, the SGC is meant for determining times and dates far into the future and the past, around 7000000 years in either direction when used with the letter-eon place, or around 13000 years without it.  This calendar might be considered more “scientific”, determining astrological or astronomical events or determining mystical transitions of the cosmos and universe over large stretches of time.  The enforced precision of the SGC and the organic flow of the LGC can easily compliment each other, much as the Mesoamerican calendar systems were used in tandem with each other.  In other words, I see the likely scenario to be the Babylonian magus or Academic geometer making use of the SGC, and the common families and townspeople making use of the LGC.  It’s like the difference between someone giving you an informal calendar date for ease and a Barycentric Julian Date for exactness.

Because of its regularity and association with the Sun and solar movement, I’m more likely to use the SGC in my Work, mostly because I resonate with that kind of independence from imperfection that the SGC (mostly) allows; plus, its ability to mark specific times arbitrarily is useful, especially when planning long-term effects that might not be immediately seen or noted.  That said, I can see the use of the LGC being helpful as well in determining lower or more nature-y rituals, such as offerings to the gods or the Earth as well as planning out lunar effects through a grammatomantic lens, especially in determining the letters associated with lunar months.  I know that a lot of this was an exercise in complexity, but it was helpful for me to get ideas, especially if I ever get into mobile platform programming or Twitter bot programming if I want to make a bot or a mobile app for these calendars (or to help others do the same, just let me know!).  Being able to use grammatomancy in a new way beyond “mere” letter-drawing is a useful thing, I think, and brings the power of time a bit closer than would otherwise be possible.

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.