Category Archives: Gematria

The secret of the alphabet: Introducing S:E:G:

I’ve mentioned Simple English Gematria (S:E:G:) in a few posts before but never really discussed the system in any detail, mostly because the main idea is so simple (hence the name) that the briefest of parenthetical explanations is sufficient. Here’s how it works:

  1. Let A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, and so on, down to Z = 26.
  2. Find the value of any word or phrase by adding up all the letters.
  3. Go to town with the amazing coincidences that emerge.

That’s it. A cursory search of the Web will show you that there are many, many other systems of English gematria out there, but this one has the advantage implied in its name. The more arbitrary the system, the less impressive the results. (If A=100, B=101, etc., then “Hitler” adds up to 666! Yes, but who says A should be 100?) In the absence of any established system analogous to Greek or Hebrew numerals, the least arbitrary option for an English gematria is to number the letters in order.

I didn’t invent S:E:G: — I’m sure countless people have come up with it independently — but I did give it a name, a perfect name, which I hope will become standard. At first I called it English Ordinal Gematria, after the “ordinal gematria” (mispar siduri) tradition in Hebrew, which also numbers the letters in order instead of using their numeral values. But there was something frustratingly not-quite-right about that name. One of the first things the student of S:E:G: will discover is that the words English and gematria have the same value, 74. But the word ordinal? 73! I looked around for another name that would be a perfect match, which I finally found with the help of an article by Bob “Ouzo” Evenson which termed the system “English gematria simplex.” Lose the “x” and — bingo!

  • Simple = 74
  • English = 74
  • Gematria = 74
  • Simple English Gematria = 222

Not only does each word have the same value, but the sum is a significant-looking number, obviously of the same family as 666. So it’s settled: Simple English Gematria is the name for this system.

So that’s where the name comes from, but why is it abbreviated S:E:G:, with the colons and everything? Well, when I first got into this stuff I was a little self-conscious about it and felt the need to preempt ridicule by conspicuously poking fun at gematria and the occult in general (and believe me, there is much to poke fun at!). One of these protective jokes was to use the abbreviation E.’.O.’.G.’. (this was back when it was still called “ordinal”) and to refer to the triple dots as “magickal puncktuation” — all intended as a parody of Aleister Crowley. Later, after I’d switched to the name S.’.E.’.G.’., it occurred to me to check the gematria value of the joke phrase, and I was amazed.

  • magickal puncktuation = 222

The same value as the name “Simple English Gematria”! So the magickal puncktuation is no longer just a joke; it’s required. I switched from the Crowleyan three-dot puncktuation to the current colon variety because, aside from the fact that it’s more convenient to type, three pairs of dots is yet another reference to the number 222.

The most basic number in S:E:G: is 26. Not only is this the number of letters in the alphabet, but it also happens to be the value in Hebrew gematria of the Tetragrammaton, the four-letter name of God (יהוה, usually rendered Jehovah or Yahweh in English). S:E:G: equates God with the alphabet:

  • God = 26
  • a-bee-cee = 26

Confirming the connection between the 26-letter alphabet and the four-letter name of God, S:E:G: equates counting to 26 with counting to four:

  • i ii iii iv v vi vii viii ix x xi xii xiii xiv xv xvi xvii xviii xix xx xxi xxii xxiii xxiv xxv xxvi = 1234

S:E:G: identifies the number 159 with 26:

  • twenty-six = 159
  • twice thirteen = 159

This number also encodes the mystery of the Trinity — that “the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; and yet they are not three Gods, but one God” — or, written as an equation, “God + God + God = God.”

  • God = 26
  • God + God + God = 78
  • twenty-six = seventy-eight = 159

Also adding up to 159 are many other references to God’s name, the alphabet, and the S:E:G: system itself:

  • four letters = 159
  • atoms of Yahweh = 159
  • God’s sublime name = 159
  • Jesus H. Christ = 159
  • alphabetization = 159
  • the Roman alphabet = 159
  • holy letters = 159
  • inspired alphabet = 159
  • the words of God = 159
  • language of Adam and Eve = 159
  • cryptographic = 159
  • A means 1 and Z means 26 = 159

By combining two 159-phrases and adding the word “the,” we can derive another important number: 351.

  • twenty-six = 159
  • holy letters = 159
  • the twenty-six holy letters = 351

The number 351 is the 26th triangular number — that is, the sum of every integer from 1 to 26 — and is therefore the total value of the alphabet.

  • A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z = 351
  • Alphabet has twenty-six letters. = 351
  • twenty-six, number of the alphabet = 351
  • the terms of Simple English Gematria = 351
  • the interpretation of God’s language = 351

Another important number is 74. G=7 and D=4 — so, while 26 is the value of “God,” 74 suggests “G-d,” the respectful spelling used by some Jews. Several God-related words and phrases add up to 74:

  • Great I Am = 74
  • heavens = 74
  • chariot = 74
  • clouds = 74
  • elevated = 74
  • greater = 74
  • wiser = 74
  • parent = 74
  • ruler = 74
  • the king = 74
  • theism = 74
  • It’s God! = 74

Besides being a secondary number of God, 74 is S:E:G:’s number for Jesus. At least four different forms of Jesus’ name add up to 74 in S:E:G:. The Jesus of the New Testament and the Joshua of the Old are actually two versions of the same Hebrew name, which can be written in English as Y’shua. This name is also sometimes written as the Pentagrammaton (יהשוה, the Tetragrammaton plus the letter shin), which can be transliterated as IHShVH (this is the spelling favored by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn). All have the same value in S:E:G:, as does Lord Buckley’s name for Jesus of Nazareth.

  • Jesus = 74
  • Joshua = 74
  • Y’shua = 74
  • IHShVH = 74
  • The Naz = 74

In Greek gematria, Ίησους = 888, which is a multiple of 74 (74 × 12 = 888).

Many other Jesus-related words and phrases have the same value:

  • Jewish = 74
  • Messiah = 74
  • Son + God = 74
  • God and a man = 74
  • preacher = 74
  • parables = 74
  • donkey = burro = 74 (he rode into Jerusalem on one)
  • bitter = 74 (the bitter cup)
  • obedient = 74
  • killing = 74
  • cross = 74
  • forgave = 74
  • finished = 74 (last words)

The story of Jesus is recorded in four books of the Bible, each of which is called “The Gospel according to St.” so-and-so.

  • Gospel = 74
  • according = 74
  • to St. = 74

But Jesus is not the only Bible character whose number is 74. Although 74 × 12 = 888, the number of Jesus in Greek gematria, 74 × 9 = 666, the number of the beast!

  • DCLXVI = 74 (666 in Roman numerals)
  • Lucifer = 74
  • abominable = 74
  • accursed = 74
  • evil god = 74
  • fiendish = 74
  • horns = 74
  • old goat = 74
  • tempt = 74

Because 74 is the number of God and Christ as well as of the devil and the antichrist, there is more than one way to interpret the following equivalences.

  • tarot = 74
  • occult = 74
  • Muhammad = 74

Are tarot cards and other occult traditions good or evil? Was Muhammad a true prophet or a false one? S:E:G: fits with either interpretation.

It’s also worth drawing attention to the fact that “tarot” = “cross” = 74 — a nod to Whitley Strieber’s system of tarot symbolism as detailed in his book The Path. He claims that his system, which involves laying out 26 tarot cards (the 22 trumps, plus the 4 aces to represent the 4 suits) in a cross-shaped pattern, was revealed to him by a mysterious character whom he calls the Master of the Key.

  • the key = 74

Even the fact that Strieber uses 26 cards to represent the full 78-card deck is reinforced by S:E:G:, in which, as you will recall, “twenty-six” = “seventy-eight.” Strieber’s putting an entire suit on the same footing as a single trump card is also instructive. If each of the 26 cards in the cross were expanded into a full 14-card suit — creating such cards as the Ace of Chariots, the Seven of Fools, and the Knight of Temperance — there would be 364 cards in all. That’s the 12th tetrahedral number, just as 78 is the 12th triangular.

  • the majestic twenty-six-suit deck = 364
  • fourteen layers of twenty-six = 364

But getting back to 74, it is, as mentioned above, the value of each of the three words in the name “Simple English Gematria,” the total value being 222.

  • Simple English Gematria = 222
  • English-based isopsephia = 222 (Greek term for gematria)
  • letters as numerals = 222
  • to count from A to Z = 222
  • alphabetic numerology = 222
  • alphanumeric system = 222
  • the secret of the alphabet = 222
  • It is hidden in the alphabet. = 222
  • written patterns = 222
  • impossible coincidences = 222
  • numerous parallels = 222
  • God’s sacred handwriting = 222
  • The Word was with God. = 222
  • the language of the soul = 222

The number 222 is, visually, a series of three twos.

  • It’s two-two-two. = 222
  • the great triple-two = 222
  • a two twixt twain = 222
  • the second figure thrice = 222
  • a numeral thrice repeated = 222

Finally, 222 refers back to the divine 26, being the way one writes twenty-six in the trinary (base-three) numeral system — the system which would naturally be favored by a three-person’d God.

  • God writ trinarily = 222

I guess this post is about long enough now. I certainly don’t intend to list every significant coincidence I’ve found in S:E:G:, just a few of the most important numbers. I’ll close with one last note, though: Longfellow would have hated S:E:G:, which uses its “mournful numbers” (the mournful number 86, to be precise) to tell him exactly what he didn’t want to hear.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!…
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal…
(Psalm of Life)

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Harry, but:

  • the grave = 86
  • life’s goal = 86

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A gematria revelation

Back in the summer of 2006 I read a series of online articles about the mathematical properties of the first verse in the Bible. Using standard Hebrew gematria, Genesis 1:1 adds up to 2,701 — a number with some interesting properties, being not only the 73rd triangular number, but also the product of the fourth hex number (37) and the fourth star number (73). Not many numbers are the product of the nth hex and nth star — 2,701 is only the fourth such number, and the next two are 7,381 and 16,471. Aside from its gematria properties, Genesis 1:1 consists of 28 letters, which is also a triangular number.

Since at that time I’d been playing around with English-language gematria, it occurred to me to see if I could find an English passage that could duplicate some of the mathematical properties of Genesis 1:1. Ideally I wanted a text which is to English what the Bible is to Hebrew, so I tried the first verse of the Book of Mormon — looked it up online, calculated its value using S:E:G: (A=1, B-2,… Z=26), and found the result mathematically boring. Moved on to other pastimes.

A few months later I was at a friend’s house reading a Whitley Strieber novel when suddenly a passage from the Book of Mormon popped into my head: “…and all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them.” Immediately, and inexplicably, an idea about that passage popped into my head and, not having a Book of Mormon or a computer handy, I jotted it down on my bookmark to check later. I wrote: “all things are become slippery — complete quote — same properties as Gen 1:1.”

Later, at home, I searched for that passage on lds.organd found the complete quotation of which it was a part, from the sermon of Samuel the Lamanite, in the 13th chapter of Helaman. It was rather long:

O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day that he gave us our riches, and then they would not have become slippery that we should lose them; for behold, our riches are gone from us. Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone; and behold, our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle. Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land. O that we had repented in the day that the word of the Lord came unto us; for behold the land is cursed, and all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them. Behold, we are surrounded by demons, yea, we are encircled about by the angels of him who hath sought to destroy our souls. Behold, our iniquities are great. O Lord, canst thou not turn away thine anger from us?

It took me a few minutes, but I added it all up using S:E:G: and got 7,381 — a triangular number. It’s the product of 61 and 121, which are, respectively the fifth hex number and the fifth star number. (You can see this on a Chinese checkers board, which has 121 holes, 61 of which are in the central hexagon.) To complete the parallel with Genesis, I counted up the letters in the passage and found that there are 630 — which, as you can see below, is also a triangular number.

What to make of it? It’s not all that surprising that buried somewhere in the middle of the Book of Mormon is a passage with similar mathematical properties to Genesis 1:1 — but it is surprising, inexplicable really, that that particular passage, together with the knowledge that it had said properties, would pop into my head out of nowhere more than five years after I’d last read the Book of Mormon. It seems almost miraculous.

I say almost because, after all, I had read the Book of Mormon before, so all the data needed to produce this numerological discovery was already stored away in my head somewhere. Consciously, I couldn’t even remember the content of the complete passage, nor did I consciously know what number it added up to — but could it be that my subconscious had been quietly working for months, plugging through the Book of Mormon by memory and testing every passage to see if it fit what I had been looking for? I guess that would be my pet theory, since viewing it as a literal revelation (from whom? why?) makes even less sense.

About a year ago, this whole thing was brought back into my mind because of a dream I had. I saw the prophet Jeremiah staring at a large matrix of numbers — I had the impression that it was a magic square of order 11 (anachronistically written out in Arabic numerals, my BS detector reminds me, lest I be tempted to think I’d had a vision of the “real” Jeremiah). He explained to me that the entire Book of Lamentations had been revealed to him through contemplating those numbers. In fact, he said, he could have written a much longer book using this method, since there were infinitely many levels on which the numbers could be interpreted. The next morning, out of curiosity, I tried writing out an order-11 magic square just to see if it suggested anything to me about the sacking of Jerusalem. It didn’t, of course, but I did notice something else: the sum of all the numbers in an order-11 magic square is 7,381, and that number seemed awfully familiar.

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Fun with 666

Outside of Jewish circles, interest in gematria tends to focus on a single number — 666, gematria’s unholy grail. One can only tinker around with gematria for so long before succumbing to the temptation to play “pin the tail on the antichrist” — it’s just too much fun. Here I’ll be using my own pet system, S:E:G: (Simple English Gematria, in which A=1 and Z=26), to explore this most deliciously evil of numbers.

The idea of the number of the beast comes from Revelation 13:18 in the Bible: “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” S:E:G: points us to that very verse.

  • Revelation of Jesus to John, thirteenth chapter, eighteenth verse = 666
  • Bible, Revelation of St. John the Divine, chapter thirteen, verse eighteen = 666
  • Wisdom: Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast. = 666

Aside from its biblical significance, 666 has some interesting mathematical properties. It is the 36th triangular number — that is, the sum of all the integers from 1 to 36.

  • the thirty-sixth triangular number, declared the number of the beast = 666
  • a numeral thrice repeated, the triangular expansion of thirty-six = 666

Unlike, say, Greek isopsephy or Hebrew gematria, which are based on powers of ten and can represent thee- and four-digit numbers with just a few letters, S:E:G: can requires a fairly long string to yield a number as large as 666. So when it comes to pegging an actual person as “the beast,” an unadorned name is not enough; some kind of title or description must be added. Here are a few examples:

  • the ridiculous Scientologist actor Thomas Cruise Mapother IV = 666
  • George Walker Bush, the Texan President of the United States of America = 666
  • Jann Wenner, who publishes Rolling Stone and other such magazines = 666
  • Hu Jintao, Paramount Leader of the Communist [expletive] occupying China = 666
  • Joseph Smith, Jr., of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints = 666
  • folk music icon Robert Allen Zimmerman, commonly known as Bob Dylan = 666
  • Professor Clinton Richard Dawkins, famous ethologist and atheist = 666
  • William James (also abbreviated Wm Jas) Tychonievich, the second of that name = 666

If you think the people listed above are not really antichrists but have been unfairly accused, don’t blame me; blame the English language. Maybe the alphabet itself is evil!

  • a bee cee dee e ef gee haitch i jay kay el em en o pee cue ar ess tee u vee double-u ex wy zee = 666.

Or perhaps the real blame lies with the book that gave us the whole idea of 666 and the antichrist: the New Testament.

  • the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Apocalypse = 666

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More Gemoetry

I’ve decided to call this stuff Gemoetry (from gematria poetry) instead of the Poetry of Calculation. It’s shorter and more convenient to say, and as a side benefit it’ll bring in more traffic from people who can’t spell geometry. As you will recall, in Gemoetry two lines are considered to “rhyme” if they add up to the same sum in S:E:G: (A=1, Z=26). Here are some of my older Gemoetry efforts.

First, two biblical couplets:

137 In the beginning
137 God created heaven.

Later I’ll try to expand that to cover the whole creation story. Here’s another:

666 Wisdom: Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast,
666 for it is the number of a man. Check his number: six hundred sixty-six.

Here’s one I wrote before the 2004 U.S. presidential election:

130 A Two-K-Four
130 thingummy:
130 Come November,
130 the USA will
130 choose either
130 George W. Bush,
130 John F. Kerry,
130 or Ralph Nader
130 as president.

And a post-election postscript:

130 Bush won? Man,
130 not that again!

And finally, an ode to Gemoetry itself:

132 Gematria maketh
132 the poetry
132 of calculation
132 characterizable.
132 Isopsephy
132 pleasurably
132 constrains
132 creativity.

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The Poetry of Calculation

In the Poetry of Calculation, two lines are considered to “rhyme,” not if they end with the same sound, but if they have the same gematria value. Here I use S:E:G: — Simple English Gematria (A=1, B=2, . . . Z=26). The value of a line is found by adding up the values of its constituent letters. The name “The Poetry of Calculation” is an example of itself:

132The Poetry
132of Calculation

Here’s another simple example:

127Roses are red.
166Violets are blue.
127Sugar is cheap,
166And so, dear, are you.

And here’s a longer one — a paraphrase of the Ten Commandments such that every line adds up to 173 — the value of the phrase “Ten Commandments” — in S:E:G:

173Ten Commandments:
173Thou shalt not
173favor gods other
173than Hebrew Jehovah.
173Thou shalt not
173 make earthly images
173of anyone in heaven.
173Thou shalt not
173name deities in vain.
173Thou shalt not
173burden Saturday
173with vain labors.
173Thou shalt not
173displease Mom or Dad.
173Thou shalt not
173murder, taking life.
173Thou shalt not
173take other women
173Thou shalt not
173take any’s things.
173Thou shalt not
173slander colleagues.
173Thou shalt not
173 covet other dames,
173 oxen, houses, etc.
173So saith the Lord.

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