A tutorial series by guest poster, Mick Frankel
Part Two — the Double Letters
We’ve looked at the three Hebrew letters that Sefer Yetziroh calls “Mother Letters” or “Primary Letters”. These are א, מ and שׁ.
Next, Sefer Yetziroh mentions a group of seven letters that are called “Double Letters”.
There are four letters that change their sound according to whether they have a dot in the middle or not. The version with the dot has a harder sound.
Here they are:
But as well as these four letters, Sefer Yetsiroh gives three more Double Letters. These are:
Today, the sound of these letters is unchanged when they have a dot in them. Presumably, in the past, the pronunciation did change with the dot.
With the first four letters, the version without the dot has a softer sound. For the other three letters then, since the version we have today doesn’t have the dot, perhaps the version with a dot was a harder version of today’s sound?
For example, maybe something like this:
Please bear in mind that this is pure conjecture on my part.
Perhaps the hard ר was more like a broad Scots “r” as in someone from the Highlands saying, “Berwick Rangers versus Raith Rovers”?
As I say, all this is pure speculation on my part.
The fact is that Sefer Yetziroh includes
ג, ד and ר as Double Letters.
The approach by Eliphas Lévi to the Double Letters seems straightforward enough.
Lévi takes the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet בּ to correspond to Tarot Trump II The High Priestess.
Similarly, Lévi takes the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet ג to correspond to III The Empress.
And so on through the Double Letters
This means that Lévi ends up with the twenty-second letter תּ as Tarot Trump XXII!
But, remember that Lévi placed The Fool as Trump XXI. This starts to make a bit of sense. תּ now corresponds to XXII The World.
How did the Golden Dawn deal with the Double Letters?
But here’s the basic idea, as I understand it.
Sefer Yetziroh says that the seven Double Letters correspond to the seven traditional planets. These include the Sun and the Moon.
The other five planets are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
But, the way that the planets are assigned to the Tarot Trumps is a source of such confusion that I intend to leave a detailed description of the Double Letters for the moment.
Join me in the next post where we’ll move on to the remaining 12 letters of the Hebrew alphabet which are known as the Simple Letters.
- Part 1 – Mother Letters
- Part 2 – Double Letters
- Part 3 – Simple Letters
- Part 4 – Assigning the Seven Planets
Hebrew for Tarot Readers is a free course run by Mick. If you would like to join, you can apply directly to Mick, or via the Yahoo Group page for the course. The benefits of joining are of course the interaction with Mick, other members and course materials, including sound files to help you with pronunciation of the Hebrew Letters.
Be sure to visit Mick’s excellent website for Tarot, I-Ching, Astrology and Dream Interpretation services and articles.