>> except in New Age books of course.<
> Exactly! I think that's what is so often done currently.
>> This is well-known fact. Many cultures tell myths of how the sacred and
>magic letters were won or invented by some great hero-god (Odin, Thoth etc).
> So which is it, fact or myth?
My point was that the letters had magical significance, which is why
they were given such importance in myths.
>>The order of these letters was of course of the utmost significance.<
Who says? What's the source?
Every mystery tradition you care to mention. The Kabbalah is the
obvious one, I suppose. The Kabbalah is sometimes claimed to be
relatively recent, but in fact draws on the most ancient mystical
beliefs of the cultures of Mesopotamia etc. There is much in this
tradition to support what I say, although the information is rather
difficult to understand for those who are unfamiliar with the Kabbalah
- it is a whole system of mystical symbolism. But the prime source to
consult is the Sepher Yetzirah - profoundly mystical but rather short.
It is a central text in the Kabbalah, and is all about the order and
meaning of letters. It is devastatingly complex, but shows
conclusively that the meanings and interrelationships of letters were
of great importance, and central to mystical religious beliefs. The
letters were considered to have created the universe - a comforting
thought for typographers.
>> Use of writing by businessmen would have been a total profanity, and was
>only possible much much later when lay people started to gain knowledge of
>the secret art of writing.<
> Actually, I'd read that the first alphabets were used in Babylonia by
>builders to keep track of building materials.
They may well have been, but that would not have been the first use
of them. That is probably the first use archaeologists have stumbled
across recorded evidence of - which is hardly evidence that writing
was invented by builders. Bear in mind that originally the magical use
of writing was extremely secret, and not always even marked on objects,
so would leave little evidence for us to find today.
Try looking at E A Wallis Budge for ancient Egyptian magical
practices. Sorry, I don't have any specific references to hand.
Tim Sheppard [log in to unmask]
Lilliput Press - Publisher of fine books in miniature