ABRAHADABRA: Some Thoughts on The Word
by Mark Stavish, M.A.
Copyright 1997 Mark Stavish, M.A.
ABRAHADABRA is the Word of the Aeon1) of Crowley’s Thelema. However, despite his choice of spellings, (there are several), and some of the additional baggage that Crowley carries into esoteric circles, his thoughts on this word are worth consideration.
Abrahadabra is translated by G. Davidson2) as “I bless the dead”, and is one of the three Holy Names used when blessing a sword (Clavicus Solomonos?). Davidson also states that it is derived from the Hebrew “ha brachah dabarah” or “Speak the blessing”. It is used as an amulet to heal and ward off evil. When chanted, it is reduced letter by letter.
He further suggests a relationship between it and an older Gnostic ‘deity’ Abraxas, or “the supreme unknown”, and source of the 365 emanations of Persian theology. It is also found in several Hebrew magical and mystical texts, including, The Sword of Moses, and The Book of the Angel Raziel. In gnostic theology, it is used as a term for god, or as a mediator between creation and the godhead.
Crowley spells it so that it adds up to 418 in gematria (19 x 22), or 22 using the “Qabala of Nine Chambers”. Several formulae are worked out to show hidden meanings and relationships between the letters, of which the most important appear to be its suggestion of ‘double power’ of effecting both the Pentagram and Hexagram; and giving the Rosicrucian axiom of “Light, Life, and Love” in numerological expression.
“Light, Life, and Love are never lost, but may be called forth eternally from the Cosmic Unity in which they dwell.” States a Rosicrucian ritual.
Let us consider these three points:
1. Double Power
2. Triple invocation
3. Symbol of the Godhead and Mediator
As symbol of ‘double power’ or the unity of the Pentagram and Hexagram, Abrahadabra symbolizes the “mystical marriage” of the micro and macrocosms, The Inner and Outer Worlds
It can be said, that Abrahadabra is the Sacred Word invoking the Union of the Higher and Lower Worlds in the student. If this is done correctly, then we can move from being a student to the level of an adept on the level of interior initiation.
This idea of it being a combination of the micro and macrocosmic forces is reminiscent of the phrase in The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram which says, “About me Flames the Pentagram, and in the Middle of the Pillar Shines the Six Rayed Star!”3) Here, in the body and psyche of the student, the Elemental and planetary forces are combined and equilibrated.
It is important to note though, that the meaning of the letters may change depending on the level they are being vibrated on. This would differ from person to person, but is worthy of mention. As noted, the astrological associations and meanings of the Hebrew letters can ‘shift’ depending on whether they are affecting the world of Assiah, Yetzirah, Briah, or Atzilooth.4)
As triple invocation of Light, Life, and Love, the Word reminds of the three principle expressions of the Cosmos. When combined, they give us a fourth and fifth point, that of Law and Liberty. By understanding and seeking Life, Light, and Love in creation, we can get a grasp on Cosmic Law, which in turn, is the source of our personal freedom from the negative aspects of karma, or the means of our liberation from the bondage of matter and restriction.
Godhead and Mediator
As mediator Abrahadabra suggests that while humanity is Divinity incarnate, ‘There is no God but Man, and Man is the Son of God. God is Man,’ we experience this in progressive steps or degrees of expanding (and as such, inclusive) consciousness. We may be Divine, but the leap from mundane earthly consciousness to the Cosmic awareness of Kether is extremely radical, and would shatter our vehicles of perception. Instead, we progress slowly and with the aid of various ‘mediators’ to assist us.
Among these mediators are the tools we use, be it ritual, symbols, alchemy, or even actual beings, such as teachers and invisible helpers from the ‘other side’. Abrahadabra symbolizes the harmonization of our inner and outer worlds, in the realm of Tiphareth, and how we can open up to this powerful, but often unseen assistance. Regular and daily use of a ritual, such as the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, or the Greater Ritual of the Pentagram, stabilize our “Elemental” nature and allow the forces of Yetzirah to more greatly penetrate our sometimes thick veils of matter.
Through daily prayer and meditation, we slowly and progressively make this once thick barrier more transparent, until once day, we have a flash of awareness, an awakening that helps us realize what is meant by, “About me flames the pentagram, and in the Middle of the Pillar Shines the Six rayed star!”
When the “Little King” of Malkooth, the Pentagram, surrenders to the “Big King” of Tiphareth (the Hexagram) the two are united and the “Mystical Marriage” is initiated within us.
To this end, we can use the word itself as a kind of mantra, or affirmation of this state. By vibrating it as a sacred word of power, we can redeem it from the pseudo-magical connotations that have befallen it, back to its original potency of Divine expression. As mediator, the redemptive qualities, almost messianic in nature, are more clearly understood. When we vibrate this name, we should feel and imagine that the higher and lower worlds are coming into union within us, and that we stand at the center of the world, expressing the powers of Tiphareth. As though through its sound we are bestowing a blessing across creation.
In The Golden Chain of Homer (Aurea Catena Homeri), we see the same message being stated in almost identical symbolism. The principle symbolism of the text, in addition to a series of ten rings of varying forms of Venutian symbols, there is a plate of the Oroborous. It consists of two dragons fighting, each biting the tail of the other, one with wings and the other wingless. Between them is a “Star of David” with planetary and Elemental symbols assigned to various points. In addition, placed in the center are the Three Principles of Alchemy — Sulphur, Salt, and Mercury.
“Whenever the Dragon meets an Enemy, they fight.
The Volatile must become fixt, Vapour and (water triangle) must become (earth triangle), (fire triangle) must become corporeal, or no Life can enter into the (earth triangle). The Superius must become Interius, and Vice Vertia.
The Fixt becomes Volatile and, the (earth triangle) becomes (water triangle), Vapour (air triangle) and (fire triangle), whilst (fire triangle) returns to the Center of the Earth. Heaven, i.e. (fire triangle), must be converted into fixt (air triangle). The Dragon with Wings kills the Dragon without Wings, and the latter destroys the former. Thus is manifested the Quintessence and its Power.”5)
The “dragon with wings” can be interpreted as our Interior Master, or Holy Guardian Angel, and the dragon “without wings” as our ego, or “little King”. They need each other in order to express the power of Creation and its expression through the Elemental and planetary forces. Yet, they are often in combat with one another, instead of in harmony. Only when the “Superius” (higher) becomes “Interius” (interior) and the interior becomes the higher do we see the Elements (of either a material or psychic nature) return to their primordial source. The Fire, or creative power, returns to the center of the earth, or the “Secret Fire” of Malkooth. In the end, the two dragons (instinctual parts of our psyche — heavenly and earthly, the hexagram and pentagram) are killed by each other, and in their combined “death” (end of isolation) they are united in a more perfect expression of cosmic power.
The Gnostics used the symbol of the winged serpent to represent the redemptive and rejuvenating qualities of the Cosmos. As a symbol of the powerful reconciliation of opposites, Khouphis, rises above the head of the adept and spreads its wings in envelopment. He is the winged solar serpent, the force of regeneration.6) The healing powers of our redeemed nephesh/yetziric, or ‘unconscious’ aspects of our psyche (and body as well) lead by our Briactic or Solar consciousness. One reference even calls it “a living caduceus”.7))
It remains for each student to work out the intricacies of this and other esoteric questions. One's chosen path will influence greatly how we approach the question and receive a solution to it meaning and application. Ceremonialists will find a greater expression through movement, sound, and the theater of ritual. General esotericists will prefer meditation and prayer as the means of unraveling the mystery. Alchemists will find that within this ancient word there is a secret that only the laboratory can reveal.
In the end however, while the answers may be different the effects of unraveling the mystery of abrahadrabra will be the same in each of us, as it will be a further increase in our understanding of the Interior Light, and the expression of our Divinity.