Saturday, May 25, 2024

Alphanumeric Qabbala & the Riddles of AL

    Dear Reader,
    In this new text I will present my solution to some of the riddles in Liber AL vel Legis (The Book of the Law), the central sacred text in the religion / philosophy / creed of Thelema.
    I should make it clear, however, that for decades I thought it would be useless to try to find a solution to the riddles of AL, particularly the one in AL II:76 ("the numbers & the words") and the one in AL III:47 (the "grid" page). I studied many proposed solutions, particularly the one involving the cipher known as English Qaballa / ALW cipher / NAEQ, which immediately became my favorite because it seemed to make perfect sense — well, at least when compared to all the available "solutions".
    However, it seems that the Universe always has a sense of irony, and one day in early 2023 an entirely new "solution" made itself known to me, while I was writing my longest and most deeply encoded text about Gematria that I have written to this day: The wonders & magic of Alphanumeric Qabbala. In this text I explained how this solution works, even though it was far from complete or perfect, so this time I will greatly expand on my previous exposition of this solution. Also, in my previous text I focused my attention on the riddle of AL II:76 only, while at this time of writing my research has advanced a lot — and this solution seems to be capable of, in a very simple and elegant way, answering the riddle in the so-called "Grid page" as well.

    In fact, what distinguishes this new solution that I propose from all the other solutions — including English Qaballa — is the fact that it is so simple and, as far as I can tell, carries immediate conviction. Likewise, this solution is the only one to use exactly the same Key (actually a "new symbol" — you know what I mean if you studied the Book of the Law) to answer both riddles in AL II:76 and AL III:47, in a very simple and elegant way.
    Anyway, my intention in writing this text is more to provide a new line of investigation for my Readers who have some interest in this specific subject, rather than to present a "final word" on this subject. In so doing, I will also explain my line of thought, so that the Readers may understand why I think that this solution actually works — even though, of course, the final word on the validity (or not) of this "solution" cannot be mine, but instead it could eventually be demonstrated beyond any doubt one day in the future. My intention, thus, is only to show the way, or at least to open a door, so that others can explore further this uncharted territory.
    One thing I would like to suggest first to my Readers, would be to read R. Leo Gillis' excellent essay called "Secrets of the Cipher Naughts – A Survey of Solutions to Liber AL verse II:76", which is freely available to read on the author's website (PDF - 1.7 MB).

    In this essay, Gillis explains many solutions that were given to this specific riddle over the years, giving all details about each solution and detailing its pros and cons. I must say that I really like this work, because it contains a wealth of information about this subject that you simply cannot find anywhere else. Also, it ultimately served to measure the "strength" of this solution against other solutions, and I must say that, considering all pros and cons, this solution seems to me (the most suspicious person who could give an opinion about this) to be far superior to all the other solutions.
    In any case, if my Readers aren't quite sure of what I'm talking about, before we delve more deeply into the famous Riddle of Liber AL, I would invite my Readers to revisit my first text on the Thelemic ciphers, so that they can get a bit more of context on the mysteries and riddles of Liber AL / The Book of the Law.
* * *
 The Alphanumeric Solution to Liber AL
     This solution occurred to me on January 31ˢᵗ, 2023, while I was finishing writing "The wonders & magic of Alphanumeric Qabbala", an article about a continuous, non-redundant, alphanumeric cipher that treats the entire sequence of digits from 0 to Z as if they were numerals in a modulus 36 notation.

    So, you may ask: is the solution... a cipher?
    Well... the short answer is: yes, it's a cipher. But the long answer is that it isn't just a cipher, and hopefully you will understand how this is a whole transformation of the English Alphabet into a magical tool, using "new symbols", and is especially fitting for a creed or philosophy founded by someone who called himself The Beast 666.
* * *
How does this Alphanumeric solution work?
    The Alphanumeric solution I'm suggesting allows us to take the following conclusions:
  • The Riddle of AL II:76 cannot be decoded into a message because it is not a message. In fact, it was never intended to be decoded that way, indicating, instead, how the cipher (which is ultimately the true solution to the Riddle) can be derived. It does this in three different ways: (1) through the disposition of the numbers & letters and "their position to one another" (according to AL III:47); (2) by hiding a secret pattern in the specific numbers and letters chosen for the Riddle, which can only be decoded through the cipher and some of its 'special' properties; and (3) the verse immediately before the Riddle seems to contain a clue about the structure of the cipher itself. In so doing, this solution explains not only why the Riddle contains numbers and letters, but also why those specific numbers & letters were used.

  • The key that solves the riddle in AL II:76 is the same key that solves the riddle in the so-called "Grid page" in the manuscript of Liber AL vel Legis, in a very simple and elegant way. This alone is extremely curious and noteworthy, and since other 'solutions' don't show a comparable efficiency in solving both riddles using exactly the same key and in a simple way like this one, then I can only believe that this is the only solution that actually works — and it makes sense too, and my Readers will understand why this is so when they finish reading this text. Hopefully, my text will stir some minds, and convince new and already existing researchers into exploring this solution more deeply.

  • There seem to exist some clues in the source material, as well as in other Thelemic Libri (most notably perhaps Liber 777) indicating that the solution to the Riddle is Alphanumeric — i.e. that "the numbers & the words" in the Cipher correspond to a magical Alphabet of the Beast.

  • The cipher in question seems to be extremely relevant in a Thelemic context, even though it has been consistently ignored by almost everyone practicing some kind of English Gematria in the context of Thelema. It also allows us to find "new symbols" to which we can attribute the "order & value of the English Alphabet" (according to AL II:55).

  • This solution/cipher delivers some outstanding results when applied to some key terms in Thelema, including most notably the name of the Book of the Law, as well as the Law of Thelema: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law".

    Let's take a deeper look at how all of this works:
* * *

The Riddle of AL II:75-76
    II:75. "Aye! listen to the numbers & the words:"
    II:76. "4 6 3 8 A B K 2 4 A L G M O R 3 Y X 24 89 R P S T O V A L. What meaneth this, o prophet? Thou knowest not; nor shalt thou know ever. There cometh one to follow thee: he shall expound it. But remember, o chosen one, to be me; to follow the love of Nu in the star-lit heaven; to look forth upon men, to tell them this glad word."
     About this Riddle, Crowley writes the following in his Commentaries on the Book of the Law (link here):
    "This passage following appears to be a qabalistic test (on the regular pattern) of any person who may claim to be the Magical Heir of The Beast. Be ye well assured all that the solution, when it is found, will be unquestionable. It will be marked by the most sublime simplicity, and carry immediate conviction."
    While I don't claim to be the "Magical Heir of the Beast", whatever that means or implies, I felt the need to share this solution precisely because, when I found it, it was absolutely unquestionable, was marked by the most sublime simplicity, and carried immediate conviction. 
     On that day, while I was looking at the cipher chart of Alphanumeric Qabbala, I suddenly remembered that in the Riddle of AL, letters always come after numbers:

4 6 3 8 A B K / 2 4 A L G M O R / 3 Y X / 24 89 R P S T O V A L
     The verse immediately before the Riddle invites us to "listen to the numbers & the words", and Alphanumeric Qabbala is composed precisely of "numbers" (i.e. numerals) and "words" (i.e. letters, which we use to write words), so I thought that maybe this could be a clue to the cipher that was intended to be used in order to 'unlock' this Riddle.
    Some days elapsed after I made this finding, and eventually I found some things that seemed to corroborate this hypothesis, and I shared some of them (still very crude and incomplete) in my article about AQ. In the next section everything will become clear.

* * *

The Alphanumeric Solution to AL II:76

    In the previous section I explained how my first thought towards an Alphanumeric solution to the Riddle of AL was that, in the Riddle, letters always come after numbers. Another observation that can be made about this is that there are exactly 28 "numbers & words" in the Riddle, 28 being the 7th triangular number. In fact, even if we take the numbers of the chapter and the verse and put them together (i.e. II:76 -> 2:76) we obtain 276, which is also a triangular number. So we can actually write the numbers & the words of the Riddle in the shape of a Triangle. This point was also noted by some other people, as explained by R. Leo Gillis in "Secrets of the Cipher Naughts", particularly Frater RVS in his own solution to the Riddle:

    Now this is very interesting because, as there are 36 characters in the alphanumeric sequence from 0 to Z, and 36 is a Triangular number as well, we can also write the same alphanumeric sequence in the shape of a Triangle. In this presentation I will be calling this symbol the Alphanumeric Triangle (even though I would prefer calling it Alphanumeric Pyramid, for... numerical reasons 😁):
The Key — the Alphanumeric Triangle.

     And by a very curious synchronicity, there will be in that Triangle exactly 4 rows for the Indo-Arabic numerals 0-9, and 4 rows for the English letters A-Z, as if they were complementary series.

    Since there are 4 rows for the numerals and 4 rows for the letters in the Alphanumeric Triangle, and remembering that there are 4 groups of "numbers & words" in the Riddle of Liber AL, as we have seen before, we could, in principle, compare the layers of the Alphanumeric Triangle with the 4 groups of "numbers & words" in the Riddle of AL, and see if we can reach a conclusion, or see a connection between them:

    My methodology for the analysis of this connection follows a simple reasoning: compare numbers with numbers, and letters with letters. So if we are to compare these two sets of data, we should find a way to go from one to the other. Or in other words, how can I arrive from "4 6 3 8" (in the Riddle) to "0" (in the Alphanumeric Triangle)? How can "A B K" in the Riddle of AL be related to "A B C D E" in the Alphanumeric Triangle? And how can we go from "6 7 8 9" to "24 89"? If we can find a direct connection between these two sets of data, then it should follow that the Riddle doesn't in fact contain any encoded message, but was made that way in order to encode the cipher itself that should be used to unlock the Riddle.
    In terms of the numerical part of the Riddle, the following connections could be made:

Click to enlarge.

    Regarding the letters, apparently it doesn't look as linear as the example above, since the letter "X" seems to be an anomalous element. However, I found that "A L G M O R" and "F G H I J K" share the same number of letters, as well as "R P S T O V A L" and "S T U V W X Y Z". The other two pairs, instead, can be related through the reduced value of the letters. By "reduced value" I mean the numerological reduction of the value of the letters: so for example, if the letter "L" corresponds to 21 in Alphanumeric Qabbala, its reduced value will then be 2+1 = 3.

Click to enlarge.

    However, there's a detail regarding this decoding of the 'words' in the Riddle that should be mentioned. In some previous solutions that were given before to this Riddle, it is sometimes noted that the "x" in the second line of the manuscript may actually be a multiplication sign and not the letter "X".
    In the English Qaballa (ALW) solution, for example, it was noted by the late (and sorely missed) Jake Stratton-Kent that that there are 17 "numbers & words" in the first line and 11 in the second (including "x" as a letter), and if we multiply 17 by 11 we'll obtain 187, which is the value of "English Alphabet" in English Qaballa. While this is a noteworthy observation (since in EQ the string of numbers and letters adds to the same value as the full English Alphabet), I couldn't find a different explanation in this specific context of Alphanumeric Qabbala. However, I could point out eventually that, if we consider the "x" to be a multiplication sign and not a letter, then the reduced value of "Y" alone indicates the number of letters in the corresponding layer of the Alphanumeric Triangle, "L M N O P Q R", and so the solution becomes much more straightforward. Only the multiplication (if "x" really is a multiplication sign) remains to be explained.
Click to enlarge.
    To complement this:
    The verse immediately before the Riddle invites us to "listen to the numbers & the words", and the Riddle is composed precisely of numbers which are followed by letters. Also, the sentence "listen to the numbers & the words" has exactly 26 letters (excluding the ampersand '&') and has the same value as the complete sequence of the English Alphabet. Considering that this could be a clue to the structure of the cipher that answers the Riddle, we could also note that the first word in this sentence is "Aye!", which starts with an "A" = 10 in Alphanumeric Qabbala. So what this sentence could be telling us is that:

    — The solution is composed of "numbers" (numerals) and "words" (letters);
    — First come the 10 Arabic numerals 0-9 (represented by the initial letter of "Aye!", which corresponds to the number 10 in Alphanumeric Qabbala);
    — After the numerals come the letters A-Z, which will then be represented by the following phrase that has exactly 26 letters, and adds up to the same value as the full English Alphabet.

Click to enlarge.

    Another detail that has been pointed out by R. Leo Gillis when I first told him about this solution is that the word "listen" could be interpreted as "list ten", referring to the 10 numerals (0-9) that come before the 26 letters of the English Alphabet.
    As a side note, I would also point another intriguing detail. In the original manuscript of the Book of the Law, there's a first page that is only rarely reproduced in physical copies of Liber AL vel Legis. The page contains some annotations by Aleister Crowley — and there's a calculation at one of the corners of the page that, as far as I know, no one has ever explained before.
Click to enlarge.
    Is it related to Gematria? I have no idea, and to this day I haven't seen one single explanation of what those values mean, or if they stand for letters. I know, however, that the result of the calculation is quite curious — 1026 — which is not an especially relevant number in terms of Gematria, even though it could be a veiled reference to a cipher containing both "10" (numerals) and "26" (letters). Anyway, I have no way to prove that this was the original intention, so please don't take my word for granted. It's most probably a wild guess... I guess.

* * *

The Alphanumeric Solution to AL III:47

Click to enlarge.
    Up until now we've seen how Alphanumeric Qabbala could, in principle, be decoded from some clues contained in the text of the Book of the Law, particularly the Riddle in AL II:76. However, none of this would actually be relevant if there weren't other factors somehow confirming this theory, and that's precisely what I'm going to talk about at this moment.
    The so-called "Grid page" is a page in the manuscript of Liber AL vel Legis that is different from all other pages in the manuscript, because it contains a grid (which, as far as I know, was added at a later date), as well as a diagonal line, and a squared circle. The original text says the following:

    III:47. "This book shall be translated into all tongues: but always with the original in the writing of the Beast; for in the chance shape of the letters and their position to one another: in these are mysteries that no Beast shall divine. Let him not seek to try: but one cometh after him, whence I say not, who shall discover the Key of it all. Then this line drawn is a key: then this circle squared ⊕ in its failure is a key also. And Abrahadabra. It shall be his child & that strangely. Let him not seek after this; for thereby alone can he fall from it."

    This is another of the most enduring riddles in the Book of the Law. There were some suggestions of solutions to this riddle as well, and one of the most interesting is the one proposed by the adherents of English Qaballa / the "ALW" cipher. However, the solutions proposed to this riddle, at least up until this day, always use different "keys" for this riddle and the riddle in AL II:76 — and this detail alone marks a stark contrast between the Alphanumeric solution and all the other solutions.
    In fact, the Alphanumeric solution uses exactly the same key to unravel the mysteries of both AL II:76 ("the numbers & the words") and AL III:47 (the grid page) — and that Key is precisely what I called before the Alphanumeric Triangle:

    In order to understand how this key unravels the riddle in the grid page, let us analyze the original text and divide it into three parts:

    - "Then this line drawn is a key"

    The key is the sequence from 0 to Z, described by the line, from 0 to Z.
    - "then this circle squared  in its failure is a key also"

    It's "in its failure" because, in the manuscript, the symbol looks more like a plus sign,  rather than an X, inside a circle. But why "X" exactly? In Alphanumeric Qabbala, the letter "X" equals 33 and both "English" and "Alphabet" sum 137, with 137 being the 33rd prime number. By a curious coincidence, the word "Trigon", not very commonly used as a synonym for "Triangle", also adds up to 137.
    And why the circle, then? Well... when you find the "X" that marks the spot, you draw a circle around it in order to highlight it. That's precisely what I did — and then I understood. "In its failure" indeed.

    Other observations are equally possible, namely that: (1) "circle squared" sums 252, while "in its failure" sums 251 — i.e. it misses the mark by 1; and (2) in Elizabethan times, the English Alphabet was known as the "Christ-cross row" — and the letter "X" looks exactly like a Cross.
    Anyway, just like "X" can represent the English Alphabet based on the correspondences above, it can also stand for the 10 Arabic numerals 0-9, since 10 is written as "X" in Roman numerals. Thus "X" is truly an alphanumeric key as well, describing simultaneously the sequence of numerals 0-9 and the sequence of letters A-Z.

    - "And Abrahadabra"
    Or should we say... Abracadabra? In fact, I believe that "Abrahadabra" is only a key to this riddle in the sense that it is a modification of the magic word Abracadabra, which was always inscribed in the shape of a Triangle. Thus, to say that "Abrahadabra" is a key would be another way of saying that a Triangle is the key. And indeed that seems to be the case.

    Coincidentally, "Abracadabra" adds up to 151, the 36th prime number...

* * *
    My most perceptive Readers may remember at this moment that when I presented the alphanumeric solution to "the numbers & the words" in AL II:76, I noted the alternative theory that the letter "X" in the second line of the riddle could in fact be a multiplication sign and not a letter. And you may also remember that, at that time, I also said that it would make all sense to treat that "X" not as a letter, because in that case there would be a perfect match between the 7 letters in the 7th layer of the Alphanumeric Triangle, and the letter "Y" in the riddle of AL, whose reduced value is 7.

    In fact... the "X" that corresponds to the "circle squared in its failure" in the riddle of AL III:47 and, as we have seen before, is a true alphanumeric key, is the same "X" in the riddle of AL II:76 that is treated as different in order to make the riddle work. So we could say that both riddles intertwine around a key element "in its failure" — the letter "X" that represents simultaneously "the numbers & the words" — that is, the 10 numerals and the 26 letters.

My notebook, containing an explanation of the Alphanumeric Solution.

* * *

New Symbols
 "Thou shalt obtain the order & value of the English Alphabet;
thou shalt find new symbols to attribute them unto". 
AL II:55
    I believe this verse has been the subject of systematic misinterpretation, which has given origin into a whole set of different ciphers that always have something in common: the order of letters of the alphabet is completely different from the one we use everyday (i.e. A to Z). And while all these systems are based on different interpretations of the text of Liber AL vel Legis and all of them certainly have their merits, the fact remains that the text makes it absolutely clear that what is being said here concerns the English Alphabet. And what is the English Alphabet, if not the sequence of 26 English letters from A to Z?

    So if there already is an "order" of the English Alphabet, what is it exactly that is being conveyed by "the order & value of the English Alphabet"?
    In my opinion, the interpretation is simple: the "order" that is mentioned in this verse does not refer to a different order of the letters of the English Alphabet, but instead to the order of the English Alphabet coming after the sequence of ten numerals from 0 to 9. So after 9 comes A=10, then B=11, C=12, etc, until Z=35. Thus can the "value" of the letters of the Alphabet be derived from their "order" coming after the numerals from 0 to 9. Also worthy of note is the fact that, in Alphanumeric Qabbala, "order" sums 105 while "value" sums 106, two consecutive numbers — so we could say that the "order & value" of the English Alphabet is based on a continuous sequence, which it is.

    What about the "new symbols"?

    From what has been exposed before, there is at least one obvious new symbol, and that is the Alphanumeric Triangle that I've talked about before.
    This symbol answers simultaneously the riddles in "the numbers & the words" and the grid page in AL III:47 and it is, in fact, the most simple and straightforward solution to both.
    But there's at least another symbol that I already mentioned in The wonders & magic of Alphanumeric Qabbala that should be mentioned here again: and that is the Alphanumeric Square: a magic square that contains all 36 alphanumeric digits from 0 to Z.

    In fact, among the many curiosities about this magic square, there's a particularly curious detail that also deserves special attention. And it is the fact that, even though it is impossible to create a 6×6 magic square following a perfectly symmetrical pattern or sequence, the two diagonals of this magic square do indeed follow a noticeable sequence. Notice for example that the diagonal from 5 to U follows a progression of 5 (5, A=10, F=15, K=20, etc), while the other diagonal, from 0 to Z, follows a progression of 7. Nowhere else in this magic square is there a clear progression of numbers as it can be seen in its diagonals. So there's that "X" again:

    And by the way... can you guess what the magical constant of this square? I mean, what is the sum of the numerals & letters by line / column / diagonal? It's 105, the value of "order"...
    Talk about finding order out of chaos...
"Thou shalt obtain the order & value of the English Alphabet; (...)" 
AL II:55
"They shall worship thy name, foursquare, mystic,
wonderful, the number of the man; (...)"
AL II:78

* * *

Why did Crowley name his book
of correspondences "Liber 777"?
    In the context of Thelemic Qabalah, the answer to this question would be that in the Tree of Life, the paths that constitute the "Flaming Sword", from Kether to Malkuth, add up to 777. So if Liber 777 was a book of correspondences for the numbers (the Sephiroth) and the letters (of the Hebrew alphabet), then it would make all sense to name that book as "Liber 777" (i.e. Book 777).

    However, in this specific context of the Alphanumeric solution that I'm proposing, the answer wouldn't depend on the Tree of Life or even the Hebrew alphabet, but instead on a number of seemingly "random" factors that, however, when judged in their entirety, seem to indicate that there is more to this than meets the eye.

    The fact is that in Liber 777, Crowley listed many correspondences for both the Sephiroth (the 'spheres') of the Tree of Life, and the letters of the Hebrew alphabet (the 'paths' between the spheres). He did this by listing first the 10 Sephiroth, numbering them from 1 (Kether) to 10 (Malkuth), and then the 22 Hebrew letters, numbering them from 11 (Aleph) to 32 (Tav). Now... if we were to adapt this system to the English Alphabet, listing first the ten Arabic numerals from 0 to 9, and then the twenty-six English letters from A to Z, we would end up precisely with Alphanumeric Qabbala: a continuous, logical and non-redundant alphanumeric sequence from 0 to Z=35.

    The ultimate 'proof' of this connection, as it were, would be to find an indisputable connection between the number 777 and the Cipher that we have been talking about. And we can certainly find it:

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" = 777 (AQ)

    Obviously, the decimal number 777 is written as LL in base-36 (alphanumeric) notation — notice the two larger letters "L" in the manuscript cover of Liber L vel Legis (see above).

* * *

To conclude:
Why Alphanumeric Qabbala?

    In this final part I will explain why it makes perfect sense to have Alphanumeric Qabbala as the solution to the riddles of AL.

    In my previous exposition of AQ, as I like to call it (for obvious reasons), I stressed the importance of Alphanumeric Qabbala being based on Base-36 notation, and of 666 being the 36th triangular number. So we have (1) a creed or philosophy that was founded by Aleister Crowley, the man who called himself The Great Beast 666; (2) an alphanumeric code that answers the riddles of Liber AL in the simplest and most straightforward manner possible; (3) new symbols to which we can attribute the "order & value of the English Alphabet".

    Well, and now what?

    Someone might eventually ask:

    "OK, now we have the Key. What shall we do with it?"

    Well — I don't know. That's not my business.

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law."

Luís Gonçalves


Devaraj said...

A cross surrounded by a circle is an ancient form of the Hebrew letter Tav, this much I know.

Devaraj said...

Sorry, think that should be Teth

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