Magical Alphabets: The Secrets and Significance of Ancient Scripts - Including Runes, Greek, Hebrew and Alchemical Alphabets Paperback – 1 Dec 1992
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About the Author
An authority on ancient belief systems, traditions, runes, and geomancy, Nigel Pennick is the author of several books, including "The Sacred World of the Celts", "Secret Games of the Gods", and "The Ancient Science of Geomancy". He lives near Cambridge, England, where he follows the oral tradition and Pagan lore of his native East Anglia.
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Top Customer Reviews
The main flaw (I'm sorry to say it's not the first time I have had this complaint with Pennick's work) is that the author does regularly make statements without backing up where the information came from. This is a bit annoying as you do feel you're being asked to take his word for it, which is so-so until the mistakes jump out and you wonder what others there are that you don't know about. In places he seems to confuse the order and/or value of several letters, and elsewhere (for all my further research has discovered) invented a couple more entirely, which makes me wonder where he got the interpretations from. There are also some numerology clangers I won't bore you with.
OK, this is a flawed book, BUT it's just the sort of book that encourages you to want to read further into the subject. It's very readable and the chapters end before you've got bored of it. So in that sense it's worth it - I've read a lot more since this on the subject of alphabets, and my enthusiasm for the subject is down to this book. Take it as a starting point, but please don't expect too much.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Pennick disects the power of language by focusing on the various mystical properties of ancient alphabets. He begins his commentary with the Hebrew alphabet, giving a brief introduction as to its origins, then diving into its importance in Qabalah. We are presented with clear and detailed explanations of each letter, and how the relate to each other. He also provides insightful information on Hebrew magic squares and grids.
Pennick then moves to the Greek alphabet, and effortlessly moves from explaining early Greek Gematria and the evolution into early Christian Greek Gematria. Again, the author provides wonderful detail for the magical purpose of each letter. And Pennick is able to back up his claims by citing an impressive array of academic, religious, and cultural sources.
The next part of the book explains the influence of the runic alphabet. He divides his explanation into the early runic alphabet (or, more accurately, The Elder Futhark) and the later true Gothic alphabet (which originated with the Goths on the Baltic island of Gotland). He explains the similarities and important differences between the two styles, then continues on with how the runes relate to trees. He then follows this is a chapter explaining the peculiar Celtic Oghams and the Bardic Alphabet, including the variations in Northern Europe. Much like the Runic alphabet, the letters corresponded to trees. These two chapters combined are of infinite use to pagans and wiccans who follow a predominately Celtic or Druidic path.
Finally, Pennick pulls all of the information together with an explanation of a host of obscure magical scripts and practices, everything from the secret alphabet of the Westphalia to magic grid ciphers tp Esoteric alphabets. The chapter is full of historical detail tracing the origins of these practices, as well as plenty of examples and illustrations to clarify points.
The book includes no less than nine appendices to organize the various alphabets explained in the book, as well as a short glossary of the most important terms. This book is a perfect starter for students interested in learning more about the subject. It would also serve experienced practitioners well as a handy reference guide.
Nowadays we have no idea about the original meaning of our alphabets. In many cultures they explain the presence of G-d in their (our) lives. According to Pennick "letters in an alphabet are metaphors of reality". Read this book and you'll understand why.
You'll find here basic information about the hebrew, greek, runes and ogham. In the last chapters the author write about alchemical alphabets and magic squares. I'd like to see something about the egyptian alphabet but he didn't write anything about it.
My main interest in this book is the secret/divinatory aspect of these alphabets but you also will find a rich cultural approach in each section and it's very instructive.