linda falorio, 1978, 1996, 1998
The Letters and Their Values
Culturally and historically, the Beth-Luis-Nion alphabet of
the Ollaves ~ poets and spell-casters, magicians and priests
~ seems closest to our own. Convincing evidence that the English
alphabet derives directly from this alphabet, named for its first three letters, Beth,
Luis, and Nion, is presented by Robert Graves in his treatise on the poet's art, The
White Goddess. Graves points out that the ancient Irish priesthood traveled
extensively in Egypt even in the earliest times, and studied in its esoteric mystery
schools where the arcana of Number would naturally be taught.
Their cultural universe of knowledge was encoded in a
sacred, secret, seasonal alphabet as was the custom at the time. Information
encoded into such an alphabet would be from fields as diverse as astrology, astronomy, and
agriculture, botany and zoology, magick, and religion, which would then be passed on
through an extensive oral tradition taught in forest colleges to the Initiates of Light.
The Beth-Luis-Nion alphabet of thirteen consonants was based on the ancient Lunar
Calendar of thirteen twenty-eight day months, and followed the cycle of lunations. Each
consonant was assigned a lunar month and given a numerical value. The Summer and Winter
Solstices, and the Spring and Fall Equinoxes were important stations in the seasonal
cycle, as were the "cross-quarter" days of Imbolc (also known as Candlemas),
Beltane (May Eve), Lamas (the Feast of Set/the heliacal rising of Sirius,
and beginning of the "dog days"), and Samhain (which is our All Hallows Eve).
In the wheel of the year, the principal stations of the Sun
~ the Solstices and the Equinoxes ~ marked the beginning of each season. Birth was marked at
New Year's beginning by the Winter Solstice; growth was marked in Spring at the
Equinox; maturity came in with Summer at the Solstice; and decline was
marked in Autumn by the Equinox.
Thirteen twenty-eight day months makes a year of 364 days with one day
"left over"~ a year and a day ~ with the extra day upon the year
representing the ending of the cycle, death, in Winter at the end of the now-old
year, celebrated on the Eve of Winter Solstice and accorded special significance.
The five-pointed star, the Pentagram ~ a symbol
~ represents these five phases of
human existence: birth, growth, maturity, decline, and death; and the five vowels, the
most sacred of the letters, were assigned to the five cardinal stations of the sun as
Possibly the oldest values assigned to the Beth-Luis-Nion
alphabet were of Apollonian origin, a period when the Irish had come very heavily under
the influence of the Greeks. If the order of the vowels even in antiquity followed
the order in which we still learn to recite them as children, an idea with strong historic
antecedents, then A -- E -- I -- O -- U, would have the corresponding values 1
-- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5. The 13 original consonants would then follow the seasonal cycle
of the alphabet of trees, with each assigned its corresponding lunar month, while the
remaining 6 consonants, much later additions to our alphabet, will be assigned values upon
similar magick, philosophic, philologic and historic lines.