Appendix 10: Names and Magic


Names and Magic
"In an attempt to use divine power, magicians used various biblical names and titles of God in their incantations. These included El, Elohim, Eloah, Adonai, Sabaoth, and Shaddai. But the one name which came closer to the inner reality of the God of the Old Testament was the Tetragrammaton, the YHWH. It was held in such profound awe that it was rarely pronounced for fear of profaning it and possibly for fear of the magic of enemies if they should discover its pronunciation. This belief led to a theological problem. If God could be coerced by the use of his name, then he was not omnipotent. Therefore, a magical explanation was advanced to solve the problem. The invocation of God's name does not oblige him to do the will of the one who invokes his name, and he cannot be coerced by the recital of his name. Rather, the 'name' itself is invested with the power to fulfill the desire of the man who pronounces it." (Cavendish, article 'Names'.)

"The Tetragrammaton was considered to be connected with awesome mysteries. The 'wonder- workers' of the Middle Ages, and later times, were believed to have known how to pronounce the Tetragrammaton. Such a wonder-worker was called a 'Baal Shem' meaning master of the name." (The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia; Vol. 10, article 'Tetragrammaton'.)

"In the Cabala, the creation of the universe was regarded as the unfolding of God's name and the ten Sefiroth, being aspects of God's identity, constitute the sacred name of God. The letters of the Hebrew alphabet, used in various combinations and changes, came to be regarded as extremely powerful objects of meditation and magical tools through which the universe was created and which contained the secret of the structure of all things. Thus, the object of Jewish mystical contemplation was the name of God which reflects the hidden meaning and totality of existence. It is the name of God through which everything acquires its meaning. Who, therefore, can succeed in making this great name of God, which is the least concrete and perceptible thing in the world, the object of his meditation is on the way to true mystical ecstasy." ( Cavendish, 'Names'. )

"The idea common to all magic is that words, names, and sounds have special powers and this applies particularly to names of gods, angels, and demons. To know the name and how to pronounce it and use it made it possible to utilize its power. It is an ancient widespread belief that a secret name can have power over everything in the universe. This belief is especially held by the Jews, and the names of God are frequently used in the practice of magic. This is why the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton is so important. The correct pronunciation is absolutely essential for the working of magic." (The Supernatural Magic, Words, and Numbers, Editorial Consultants: Colin Wilson and Uri Geller, p. 68.)

"The Talmud makes no bones about the magic of the names of God. According to it, the divine names of God were used to perform miracles by those who knew their combinations." (The Jewish Encyclopedia, article, 'Names of God'.)

"In the 11th century A.D., the Jewish scholar, Hai Gaon, claimed that the use of God's name should be restricted to the Holy Land (The Jewish Encyclopedia, article, 'Shem ha-Meforash'). Physicians even tried to learn the pronunciation of the name of God, because of its marvelous powers, and it is in conjunction with magic that the YHWH was introduced into the magic papyri". (The Jewish Encyclopedia, article,'Tetragrammaton').

"According to Eliphaz Levi, the YHWH is the key to divine power and all magical science is comprised in the knowledge of this sacred name." (Transcendental Magic, by Eliphaz Levi, pp.17,55).

"In sorcery, the magic circle is a must and the names of Hebrew divinities were often inscribed within the magic circle including the Tetragrammaton." (Witchcraft, Magic, and Alchemy, by Grillot De Givry, p. 104.)

"When the 'Name' was worn by the person, it was regarded as an amulet for the purpose of protecting against danger, sickness, and evil spirits." (Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, by Albert Pike, p. 204.)

"The supreme magician, Henry Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535), believed that the name 'Jesus' was all powerful and contained all the power of the Tetragrammaton. Cornelius Agrippa advocated the idea that he had drawn close to the Creator Himself and knew how to call upon the names of God. As Yates notes, this occult religion of Agrippa, which called itself Christian, claimed access to the highest power because it accepted the name of Jesus as the chief of the wonder-working names" (Yates, pp. 37,46).

"It was the interest in the Cabala during the Middle Ages that supplied the mystical formulas found in the occult, and the divine names were introduced into the ceremonies of magic and sorcery. Astrological talismans were coupled with Bible verses, Hebrew divine names, and various formulas borrowed from the Cabala." (De Givry, pp. 206,339-340.)

"One of the peculiarities of the modern tongues movement is the belief in the value of words. . . there was an ancient widespread belief that certain words and phrases contained magical power. Of these words, the best known was the Tetragrammaton. Among the Gentiles the reverence for words was displayed in oracles and ritualistic incantations." (Glossolalia in the Apostolic Church, by Ira J. Martin, pp. 22-23).

(Source of all the above quotes:

"In Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, in the Old Testament words section on page 96, we find under God: In the ancient world, knowledge of a person's name was believed to give one power over that person. A knowledge of the character and attributes of pagan "gods" was thought to enable the worshipers to manipulate or influence the deities in a more effective way than they could have if the deities name remained unknown. To that extent, the vagueness of the term ël frustrated persons who hoped to obtain some sort of power over the deity, since the name gave little or noindication of the god's character.

This was particularly true for El, the chief Canaanite god. They commonly associated deity with the manifestation and use of enormous power. This may be reflected in the curious phrase "the power [ël] of my hand" (Gen. 31:29 KJV. RSV "it is in my power"; cf. Deut. 28:32).

Names are often used as words of power. In theology, the general use is for purposes of invocation. They are used to give the person doing a mantra control over the deity summoned and to force the one or ones called to grant their demands. This use is generally associated with the occult, the numbers and symbols of Kabbalah, the various forms of mysticism, including primitive witchcraft and shamanism. Its present use remains akin to its use in the early Mystery Religions and Secret Societies. h, Vol. 6, p. 296, J Hastings et al.).

This Name of God, because by speaking it the universe was created, is considered to "reflect the hidden meaning of totality of existence; [it is] the Name through which everything else acquires its meaning." (G Schloem Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, p. 133, Schocken Publishing, 1941).

This Name is considered by Crowley to be the ultimate goal of the magician for, by knowing its pronunciation, it can be used to create in the same way as God, or to destroy: "Such a Word should in fact be so potent that man cannot hear it and live. Such a word was indeed the lost Tetragrammaton. It is said that at the utterance of the name the Universe crashes into dissolution. Let the Magician earnestly seek this Lost Word." (A Crowley Magick in Theory and Practice, pp. 70-71, Dover Publications, 1976).

"Not only do the magicians revere the four-lettered name, but the word Tetragrammaton itself has been adopted and used in magical ceremonies. The Tetragrammaton is more often used in the conjurations of Practical Magic. In Ceremonial Magic it has a variety of uses and, while it is sometimes used in rituals as a name of power, its use is usually restricted to another form of categorisation. Any magical theory or practice which can be divided into four parts is usually assigned one of the letters in the Tetragrammaton. Its most important correspondence is with the four elements - fire (Y), water (H), air (V), and earth (H)". (Israel Regardie The Golden Dawn, Llewellyn Publications, 1986).

The concept that the correct pronunciation of the name by a man is essential to the operation of the god is a basic magical control issue of the primitive pagan mind.

It is also from the pagan idea that the name of local deities had to be protected so that its correct pronunciation by magicians would not enable the capture of the cities or temples of the deity. In this case it was Jerusalem or the temple at Elephantine. It was a practice used by the Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Romans. This idea also is found in modern occult groups and amongst tribes of the Americas that hold to the totemic and shamanic belief systems.

The theory of the `name' is in reality the fundamental basis of more than half of the religious ideas of Egypt.

Declamation or melopoepia - the chanted voice of the oldest languages - is regarded as reproducing the harmonious sound, i.e. the material vibration, which is one of the signs of vital substance. This chanted voice (khrou; cf. G. Maspero, Bibl. egyptol. I [1893] 101) engenders magical forces (hikau). (ERE, art. Names, Egyptian, pp. 151-153).

All the texts, rituals, and magic of Egypt rest essentially on the fact that the name, thus understood, constitutes a material soul, and is the most secret part of the whole living being since it is his very reason for living. The name is therefore the ego. It exists by itself. It is the most subtle of the various souls of the individual.

_The Egyptian name is so definitely a soul - a living being existing by itself - that the most important and oldest liturgical texts make it the essential element in their magical operations. _ Cursing or execration by the name of an individual lets loose upon him to injure him all the forces which the formula has `bound to' the name. _ At the time of the most ancient monuments, in order to confer on her living subjects and on her dead most of the protections which the totem and its name give to primitive races, Egypt had an amazingly perfect system of affiliation to the cult of a certain protector-god, initiation into the mysteries of the god. The title amkhu assumed by the initiates is followed by the name of the god, to whom the man henceforth owes special allegiance, and from whom he will receive protection in this life and the life to come ... the divine name, being united but not confused with that of the man, marks reciprocal obligations and duties, to which time by degrees gives a moral character (ERE, art. Body, Egyptian, p. 153).

This acquisition and use of names for occult purposes is found in virtually all ancient and many modern societies.

James Frazer, in The Golden Bough, Volume 2, chapter Taboo and the Perils of the Soul, on pages 387-391, says: ...just as the furtive savage conceals his real name because he fears that sorcerers might make an evil use of it, so he fancies that his gods must likewise keep their true names secret, lest other gods or even men should learn the mystic sounds and thus be able to conjure with them. Nowhere was this crude conception of the secrecy and magical virtue of the divine name more firmly held or more fully developed than in ancient Egypt, where the superstitions of a dateless past were embalmed in the hearts of the people hardly less effectually than the bodies of cats and crocodiles and the rest of the divine menagerie in their rock-cut tombs.

The conception is well illustrated by a story which tells how the subtle Isis wormed his secret name from Ra, the great Egyptian god of the sun.

Thus we see that the real name of the god, with which his power was inextricably bound up, was supposed to be lodged, in an almost physical sense, somewhere in his breast, from which word it could be extracted by a sort of surgical operation and transferred with all its supernatural powers to the breast of another.

In Egypt attempts like that of Isis to appropriate the power of a high god by possessing herself of his name were not mere legends told of the mythical beings of a remote past; every Egyptian magician aspired to wield like powers by similar means. For it was believed that he who possessed the true name possessed the very being of god or man, and could force even a deity to obey him as a slave obeys his master.

Thus the art of the magician consisted in obtaining from the gods a revelation of their sacred names, and he left no stone unturned to accomplish his end. When once a god in a moment of weakness or forgetfulness had imparted to the wizard the wondrous lore, the deity had no choice but to submit humbly to the man or pay the penalty of his contumacy.

In one papyrus we find the god Typhon thus adjured: "I invoke thee by thy true names, in virtue of which thou canst not refuse to hear"; and in another the magician threatens Osirus that if the god does not do his bidding he will name him aloud in the port of Busirus. So in the Lucan the Thessalian witch whom Sextus Pompeius consulted before the battle of Pharsalia threatens to call up the Furies by their real names if they will not do her bidding. In modern Egypt the magician still works his old enchantments by the same ancient means; only the name of the god by which he conjures is different.

The man who knows "the most great name" of God can, we are told, by the mere utterance of it kill the living, raise the dead, transport himself instantly wherever he pleases, and perform any other miracle. Similarly among the Arabs of North Africa at the present day "the power of the name is such that when one knows the proper names the jinn can scarcely help answering the call and obeying; they are the servants of the magical names;. So to the Chinese of ancient times were dominated by the notion that beings are intimately associated with their names, so that a man's knowledge of the name of a spectre might enable him to exert power over the latter and bend it to his will.
The belief in the magic virtue of divine names was shared by the Romans. When they sat down before a city, the priests addressed the guardian deity of the place in a set form of prayer or incantation, inviting him to abandon the beleaguered city and come over to the Romans, who would treat him as well as or better than he had ever been treated in his old home. Hence the name of the guardian deity of Rome was kept a profound secret, lest the enemies of the republic might lure him away, even as the Romans themselves had induced many gods to desert, like rats, the falling fortunes of cities that had sheltered them in happier days. Nay, the real name, not merely of its guardian deity, but of the city itself, was wrapt in mystery and might never be uttered, not even in the sacred rites. A certain Valerius Soranus, who dared to divulge the priceless secret, was put to death or came to a bad end. In like manner, it seems, the ancient Assyrians were forbidden to mention the mystic names of their cities; and down to modern times the Cheremiss of the Caucasus keep the names of their communal villages secret from motives of superstition (Frazer, ibid., pp. 387-391).

The "ineffable name" doctrine begins to appear in the works of Justin Martyr, a Samaritan convert to Christianity who wrote in the mid-second century CE. Justin made a special point about his many discussions with the Jews, discussions which greatly influenced his own thinking in regard to the sacred name Yahweh. He tells us plainly:

"And all the Jews even now teach that the nameless deity spoke to Moses" (I Apol., 63).
Justin then voices these opinions:

"For no one can utter the name of the ineffable deity; and if any one dare to say that there is a name, he raves with a hopeless madness" (I Apol., 61).

"But to the father of all, who is unbegotten, there is no name given. For by whatever name he be called, he has as his elder the person who gives him the name. But these words, Father, and Deity, and Creator, and Lord, and Master, are not names but appellations derived from good deeds and functions" (II Apol., 6).

"Justin then, on various occasions, speaks of the "ineffable" and "unutterable" Deity and Father.

Now we know that this half truth has been well established by Justin's time. It is true that any name made up by man for The Father would be wrong. It is also true that words like father, deity, creator, etc. are not personal names. Yet Justin has been taken in by a Jewish teaching that the Father does not possess an eternal name that He gave to Himself. But the Sacred Name Yahovah was revealed to man by Yahovah Himself and is not a man-given name" (see II Apol., 10, 13; Trypho, 126, 127).

"The Jews spoke the terms Yahovah (SHD 3068) as Adonai and Yahovih (SHD 3069) as Elohim. They elevated one above the other in accordance with Psalm 45:6-7. One was Lord, the other was true God. The true elohim or haElohim was Eloah." (Source of the above quotes:, Copyright a 1997 James Dailley)

Apparently borrowing from the superstitious fear of the pagans around them, the Jews who returned from captivity, attempted to hide (what they considered to be the personal name of God) from all outsiders. Scholars have long been aware of this word. In the early 20th century, some seized upon this aspect, that the word "yhwh" was obscure to the general public and used it as a "new truth" or "rediscovered truth" by which salvation could be obtained. For some it was a matter of "just say the magic word and receive blessings (material and spiritual), be protected (including the 'place of safety') and receive eternal life (salvation). Whatadeal !!!!! "Be special, be part of "the elect", "the chosen", the secret password is "yhwh"." (sic)

Sounds, chanting and mantras.

"The power of sacred words frequently concerns the shape and structure of the sounds as much as it depends upon the cognitive meaning. Especially in the religious traditions derived from Indian roots, the sciences of melody, meter, breathing patterns, chants, and mantra become keys to sacred power and are incorporated into the sacred tradition. Tradition brings holy power to bear also by manipulating syllables and word stems, by associative etymologies, and by acrostic arrangement of lines. Sacred language tends to be archaic, and translation, at least for cultic use, is often resisted, requiring those who preserve the tradition to learn the original language of the text, e.g. Arabic Quran, Sanskrit Vedas, and Hebrew Bible." (Source:

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