Yesterday i was looking through the Ravenmore’s Notes blog and on his Credits, Links and Bibliography page found a very interesting link to a scholarly work entitled Latin Charms of Medieval England: Verbal Healing in a Christian Oral Tradition by Lea Olsan which is downloadable as a free PDF at the link above. She gives a well documented list of charms and how they came from various Latin sources, most of which were from the Latin translation of the New Testament.
Hebrew and Latin considered sacred and secret languages here in the West because of the Old Testament being written in Hebrew and the New Testament eventually being translated from Aramaic and Greek into Latin by the Roman Catholic Church. In the same way Sacristan is the sacred language of Buddhists and Hindus, even though it is a dead language. Maybe it is the power of the words or maybe just the weirdness of saying something one may nor fully understand but have faith in for its talismanic value.
I am sure any of you who have practiced the so called Solomonic Magickes notice the same trend, using Hebrew words and phrases from the Old Testament for both your charms and talismans.
Over hundreds of years and through the dark ages when language was copied more than understood i am sure many of these words and letters got bastardized into many of the sigils we see today in the Solomonic and even later grimoires (like the 6th and 7th Books of Moses).
Even in my own Coven our witch instruments have sigils that look like poorly copied Hebrew and German runes. And on our wand i have been able to translate the Futhark runes back into their original Hebrew words. Now remember our original High Priest Merlin aka Dr Frederick LaMotte Santee of the Coven of the Catta was also initiated into covens in England and east of Berlin just before WWII, so i think this was his doing. All i know is i have never seen it in any books.
In the survivals of the pagan religions of Europe the various Runic alphabets serve the same purpose as Hebrew and Latin did in other systems. But where i live near the Pennsylvania Dutch Germans who practice Powwow the Latin and German and English are all used in writing charms and Himmelsbriefs. There is also a long tradition of using specific Psalms for healing and troubles.
For those of you who want to read a great article on Powwow please link to Powwowing: A Persistent American Esoteric Tradition by David W. Kriebel Ph.D. and his book is even better.
Witches often use sing song chants that are usually in English. But the Solomonic magickians reading their medieval grimoires do use Hebrew and Latin from what i would consider their oldest Grimoire – The Old and New Testaments of the Bible. And the Powwows definitely use the latter in their work, at least the traditional ones as opposed to the new agey ones who have tried to “Wiccan-ize” powwow of late.
Of course a lot of what i am writing here is in generalities and i am sure finer points could be debated. It is just something i thought about after reading that article.
Here’s a beautiful Hex sign full of magickal symbols i found somewhere on the www a couple years ago. I love the balance of the four elements with the solar cross compass wheel, the two seasons with the red summer colors of the oak leaves and acorns in summer, and the brown colors of the same in winter. The oak tree symbolizes long life. The lightening bolts are power. And the drops of water are a prayer for enough rain in season for the crops.
And I almost forgot to refer those interested in purchasing Hex signs to contact Cane and Reed who have a great variety, and the store owner is a really nice guy. Enjoy.