Greek Kabala Series
Greek Kabala Part 2
by Jack Courtis
In the previous article, we mentioned the translation of the names of the Greek spheres, into their alchemical and astrological attributions, so that we can gain a deeper understanding of them. To do that, we must know what the attributions are. The table below shows us those attributions and reveals even more subtle relationships. The Greek alphabet in both upper and lower case (and its English transliteration) is attributed as follows:
|Alfa||Α , α||A, a||1||Moon||1st chakra|
|Beta||Β , β||B, b||2||Aries||Head|
|Gamma||Γ , γ||G, g||3||Taurus||Throat|
|Delta||Δ , δ||D, d||4||Gemini||Shoulders|
|Epsilon||Ε , ε||E, e||5||Mercury||2nd chakra|
|Zeta||Ζ , ζ||Z, z||7||Cancer||Chest|
|Eta||Η , η||H, h||8||Venus||3rd chakra|
|Theta||Θ , θ||Th, th||9||Earth||* see below|
|Iota||Ι , ι||I, i||10||Sun||4th chakra|
|Kappa||Κ , κ||K, k||20||Leo||Heart|
|Lambda||Λ , λ||L, l||30||Virgo||Stomach|
|Mi||Μ , μ||M, m||40||Libra||Intestines|
|Ni||Ν , ν||N, n||50||Scorpio||Genitals|
|Xi||Ξ , ξ||X, x||60||Water||* see below|
|Omicron||Ο , ο||O, o||70||Mars||5th chakra|
|Pi||Π , π||P, p||80||Sagittarius||Thighs|
|Rho||Ρ , ρ||R, r||100||Capricorn||Knees|
|Sigma||Σ , σ||S, s||200||Aquarius||Ankles|
|Tav||Τ , τ||T, t||300||Pisces||Feet|
|Ipsilon||Υ , υ||I, i||400||Jupiter||6th chakra|
|Fi||Φ , φ||F, f||500||Air||* see below|
|Chi||Χ , χ||H, h||600||Fire||* see below|
|Psi||Ψ , ψ||Ps, ps||700||Aether||* see below|
|Omega||Ω , ω||O, o||800||Saturn||7th chakra|
We need to make a number of points in order to gain the maximum benefit from the table:
- Pythagoras is credited with attributing numerical values to the Greek alphabet.
- There are 3 "I’s" (eta, iota, ipsilon) and 2 "O’s" (omicron, omega). They are pronounced the same but their numerical values are different and therefore give different kabalistic meanings. To make this point clear, in Greek there are 3 grammatically correct ways to spell "Christ": CristoV , CrestoV , CreistoV . They are all pronounced the same way, however, only one spelling is correct because only one spelling gives the kabalistically correct numerical value of 1,480; CristoV (Christos).
- The numbers 6, 90 and 900 are missing. That is because originally, the Greeks had 27 symbols for numbers that doubled as letters. However by the time of Christ, they only used the 24 letters shown above. The numbers 90 and 900 are not so important for kabalistic calculations, however the number 6 is important. Where there is a need for the number 6, the convention is to use the letters ST , st . In English, ST, st. The most important use of these letters as the number 6, is in the word for "Cross", StauroV . The first two letters St are combined and are given the numerical value 6.
- The astrological attribution of the letters is derived from the Gnostics. We have this information from the Church Father, Irenaeus, in his book Against Heresies.
- The planetary order is taken from Ptolemy’s book Tetrabiblos. This book is the basis of modern western astrology.
- The alchemical attribution is also taken from Pythagoras. Although it is difficult to be certain, it appears that Earth is attributed to what we now refer to as the aetheric body; the subtle connection between the physical body and the soul. Thus Earth is attributed separately from the 12 zodiacal letters that are clearly concerned with the physical body as we understand it. Water is attributed to what he called the "epithymetic soul" which has to do with feelings and emotions. Air is attributed to what he called the "irascible soul" that we now refer to as left brain thinking. We use this as a description for logic and the kind of thinking we do for science. Fire is attributed by him to the "rational soul" that we now refer to as right brain thinking. This has to do with vision, imagination and inspiration. Aether is mysterious because it is the divinity within us. Our society still has no analogy for it.
- Once the letters are placed on the Greek Tree of Life, we have the basis for a new theology. A hint will be given here. There are 3 groups of letters: 12 zodiacal, 7 planetary, 5 alchemical. There are 3 inner journeys; the combined, the masculine and the feminine. This point will be taken up in a later article.
Let us begin our consideration of theology by looking at the meanings of the spheres on the diagram of the Tree of Life that appears below. Note that the spheres start with Arch (First Principle) as 1 and finish with Basileia (Kingdom) as 10. That is from top to bottom. However the paths begin from the bottom (alfa) and proceed to the top (omega). This is the reverse of the Hebrew Tree of Life, where the paths go from top to bottom. This difference between the Greek and Hebrew Trees, points to a different view of theology and therefore to a different salvation. The view of theology that we shall develop is very much concerned with salvation. Let us look at the Greek Tree below and begin the journey of the spheres.
Sphere 1 - A r c h (Arche) First Principle
The word Arche appears in the opening statement of the Gospel of John. All of creation emanates from this sphere. Great confusion has been generated in the past by the conventional translation of John 1:1. Let us have it in Greek and then in English:
EnarchhnologoV … usually translated as….."In the beginning was the word….".
This creates unwarranted confusion because it implies time and therefore a literal historical meaning, instead of a more profound metaphysical meaning. After all, if there is a beginning then time is being measured from some point by someone. To make the confusion even worse, this passage of scripture is compared with Genesis Ch 1 as if they were identical theological statements. They are not. It will take some effort to untangle the mischief, so please stay with us.
The problem is that Greek is a sophisticated and subtle language. English is not comparable. Some metaphysical Greek words are able to carry different nuances of meaning that simply cannot be translated into English. To give you an idea, think of squashing an elephant into a phone booth. It is very difficult. It is equally difficult for translators of the New Testament from Greek into English. The problem is that Arche is capable of having a number of meanings and in fact, it has 16 distinctly different meanings in the New Testament. Used in different contexts, it implies different things. However used in John 1:1, it has only one meaning that makes any theological sense.
Arche is the Causeless Cause and the Unmoved Mover of Aristotle, and also the Monad of Plotinus. It is beyond time and therefore there is no "beginning". It is the eternally present "I am". It is the First Principle, the undifferentiated unity of being. It is the Source of which nothing can be said but from which everything emanates. Time is its creation therefore it is timeless. The Arche of John Ch 1 is not describing the same process as Genesis Ch 1. To revert to Hebrew kabala, John Ch 1 is the ontological level of Emanation while Genesis Ch 1 describes the next level down, Creation.
The confusion is compounded by associating Arche with logos (logoV). This is another Greek word loaded with meaning. The usual translation of logos is "word". Hence the understandable connection with Genesis Ch 1 where God "said" and spoke creation into being. The problem is that in the New Testament, logos is used in 64 different ways. But it gets worse. In terms of Greek philosophy, it has at least 6 metaphysically different meanings that are relevant to John 1:1:
- Order or pattern;
- Ratio or proportion;
- Discourse or articulation;
- Reason both in the sense of rationality and in the sense of articulating the cause of something;
- Principle or cause;
- Mediation or harmony between extremes.
In the above senses, logos is the blueprint of the kosmos. It is the basis for creation and also our own spiritual constitution, hence the hermetic axiom as above so below. This is why the attribution of the Greek alphabet to the Tree of Life gives us a map for the inner journey. The "word" has been differentiated into components that are still part of a unified whole. This means that with our present level of consciousness we can take each component and work with it until we have reached our goal. We can experience God even if we are having trouble understanding him.
In the view of theology that we are developing, the opening words of John 1:1 can be translated thus: "Within the first principle exists the pattern of order…..".
Now let us look at Arch (Arche) kabalistically, by taking each letter and looking at its meaning. The first letter A (alfa) is attributed to the Moon and the first chakra. It is the first step of the masculine journey. The full description of the experience of this step is contained in the Apocalypse of John 2:1-7 as the first Letter, to the church of Ephesos. Interestingly, the principal deity of the pagan Greeks of Ephesos was Artemis, the goddess of the Moon. It is significant that the first letter of the title of the first sphere is about beginnings. It connects the Kingdom with the Foundation. The first step is confirmed by both Pagan and Christian sources.
The second letter r (rho) is attributed to Capricorn and is the path connecting Power and Wisdom on the Tree of Life. No one can deny that power must be exercised with wisdom otherwise the result will be evil and destructive. The third letter c (chi) connects Wisdom with Understanding on the Tree and is attributed to Fire. This path is related to vision, insight, imagination and inspiration. Surely these are the results of understanding with wisdom and being wise with understanding? This is the fourth step of the feminine journey. The fourth letter h (eta) is attributed to the 3rd chakra and to Venus. This is the third step in the masculine journey and the full description of the experience is in the third Letter of the Apocalypse 2:12-17, to Pergamon. This path connects Greatness and Victory on the Tree. This indeed is a description of the experience.
We now have a formula for understanding the First Principle. We must experience the paths of the Moon, Capricorn, Fire and Venus. It implies that we must travel the paths of the Tree before we can truly comprehend the First Principle. That is as it should be. This experience has to be assimilated in our normal lives in order to be the basis for salvation.
We shall continue to investigate the Greek Tree of Life in subsequent articles. Once we have its outline, we shall consider the 3 journeys: the combined, the masculine and the feminine.