LUNAR PHASES IN THE ALPHABET

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LUNAR PHASES IN THE ALPHABET

Postby finicky » Mon 24 Jan 2011 4:01 pm

The Alphabet is widely held to have been 'invented' once [cf, Diringer, THE ALPHABET: A KEY TO THE HISTORY OF MANKIND (1968: third edition) volume 1, p145]. Theories of its origin, however, remain varied and debatable.

In 1995 I discovered that several letters of the Alphabet correspond in their positions within the alphabetic sequence, to focal phases of the moon in the lunar sequence.

The lunar cycle begins with two nights of darkness, when no lunar phase is visible in the sky.

The first letter of the alphabet 'A' (ALPHA, ALEPH) when laid on its side as in the earliest alphabetic inscriptions, incorporates a vertex or sighting scope, with a cross-stroke through it -- arguably signifying 'nothing visible'.

The second letter 'B' (BETA, BETH) resembles a doubled vertex with a cross-stroke through it -- signifying 'nothing visible' on the second night.

The third letter 'C' (GAMMA, GIMEL) depicts the crescent moon -- which appears on the third night of the lunar sequence.

The waxing half-moon which occurs on the ninth night of the lunar cycle is figured in the eighth letter of the early alphabet, 'Θ' THETA (TETH in the Hebrew alphabet) -- constructed as a circle bisected, like the half-moon, by its diameter.

The first full moon occurs on the 15th night of the lunar sequence. The 15th letter is 'O' (OMICRON, AYIN).

Few people realize that two nights of full moon are evident in every lunar cycle. The 16th letter, 'Π' PI (PE in the Hebrew alphabet), outlines the square constructed on the idealized diameter of the full moon -- a 'squared' circle to distinguish it from the character used to symbolize the first full moon ('O'). The square was appropriate for the 16th night of the lunar cycle because the number 16 embodies a perfect square whose area equals its perimeter [4 x 4 = 4 + 4 + 4 + 4]. Which is why 'pi' continues to signify 'the relation of diameter to circumference' in mathematics.

Night 17 ushers in the first waning phase of the cycle, an ominous harbinger of decay for the ancient observer. Letter 17, our 'Q' (ancient QOPH or KAPH), depicts a full moon trailing a telltale descender -- figuring downfall.

And letter 22, 'X' CHI, presents an image of crossed diameters, reflecting the waning half-moon on night 23 (the 45-degree waxing oblique 'cancelled' by the 315-degree waning oblique).

The alphabet, in other words, appears to have been conceived as a mnemonic of lunar cycle.

These focal lunar letters display three key points of convergence:
FORMAL the letters appear to be drawn from their corresponding lunar phases;
ORDINAL both fall in the same places in their relative sequences; and
SPECTRAL they involve the only phases in the lunation identifiable on sight.

Those interested in further details will find nine free abstracts and a video seminar at Internet Archive [http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=drumbolis&sort=-downloads].

Responses to an earlier version of this precis at Naked Scientists may also be of interest [http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=f5316438854cf91220a1ff907f66ebf5&topic=34818.0].

This previously unrecognized (or at least unrecorded) insight has further been explored in greater detail in five volumes [currently out of print]:

GOD'S WAND: THE ORIGIN OF THE ALPHABET (2001)

SHROUDED IN SCRIPTURE (2004)

GOD'S SHADOW: A CHRONOLOGICAL SUPPLEMENT OF SAMPLE FIGURES ILLUSTRATING A CONTINUOUS TRADITION OF COVERT LUNAR NOTATION (2004)

MYTH AS MATH: CALENDRICAL SIGNIFICANCE IN THE MOSAIC CENSUS OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL (2007)

INSTRUCTIONS FOR RESTORING THE ANCIENT WISDOM: A PRIMER OF THE PYTHAGOREAN PRACTICUM (2009) a seminar guide among the above-mentioned freely accessible on-line abstracts [http://ia700109.us.archive.org/21/items/InstructionsForRestoringTheAncientWisdom/primer.pdf].

Nick Drumbolis
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Re: LUNAR PHASES IN THE ALPHABET

Postby kiwehtin » Tue 25 Jan 2011 3:47 am

People find pareidolic significances in all sorts of things. Someone in the Philippines is convinced that the lettershapes of the old Baybayin script of the Philippines are imitations of shapes in giant clamshells looked at from different angles. Someone else believes that they are based on pictographs of things whose name begins with the sound represented by the letter. Neither of these hypotheses has any corroborative evidence; only the resemblances that their respective inventors see in their own minds.

You find resemblances for the predecessors of the Latin alphabet. This is a hypothesis. It does have the consequence of implying that there was a body of lore in the period when the alphabet first developed that clearly associated the shapes of the alphabetic letters with phases of the moon.

We have evidence for all manner of esoteric and mythological beliefs from that period, including astrology and the various god cults found all over the near east. To my knowledge at least, nobody has ever found evidence for the kind of association you propose existed, despite the avalanche of factual evidence for all the range of esoteric beliefs prominent in near eastern societies of that period. If such an esoteric belief system attached to the early alphabet (analogous in some ways to the later Qabbalah) actually existed, the probability is infinitesimal that no archaeological or documentary evidence would have come down to us. Since the letter-lunar phase associations appear to originate entirely in the cognitive mechanisms of one individual in the early 21st century, I think it is safe to assume that the scientific community would dismiss this hypothesis without a second thought as completely unfounded.
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Re: LUNAR PHASES IN THE ALPHABET

Postby Caenwyr » Tue 25 Jan 2011 9:43 am

what kihwetin says. Way to farfetched, mate, sorry
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Re: LUNAR PHASES IN THE ALPHABET

Postby finicky » Tue 25 Jan 2011 4:28 pm

Kiwehtin, of course the same might be said of an argument based on presumption. That no one before had noticed these convergences, doesn't support the assumption that we lack documentary or archaeological evidence for this hypothesis. The possibility remains that the evidence exists but we've simply failed to recognize it.

Despite the intentionality of perception, some hypotheses prevail because they are demonstrable. That the letter 'C' (or gamma or gimel) as the third ordinal in the alphabet, and the crescent occurring on the third night of the lunation, share formal, ordinal and spectral identity, may be witnessed by all. There is no need to believe anything, or to look at it from a peculiar angle. Moreover, this also applies to several other letters in the alphabet and corresponding phases of the lunation.

Saying it's all in my mind doesn't dismiss these inherent convergences. Systems in fact exist, in which 'resemblances', or rather correspondences, are not merely generated by their observers.

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Re: LUNAR PHASES IN THE ALPHABET

Postby Delodephius » Tue 25 Jan 2011 6:18 pm

It's not really that interesting.
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Re: LUNAR PHASES IN THE ALPHABET

Postby kaenif » Thu 27 Jan 2011 2:50 am

Just for 'C', or gamma, or gimel. Which are you referring to? Which one do you think is original? The Phoenician gaml, the Aramaic gamal, the Hebrew gimel, the Syriac gamal, the Greek gamma, the Etruscan C, the Latin C, or G, or the Cyrillic ge? Or do you want to trace into the possible common ancestor of the alphabet, Proto-Sinaitic alphabet, which in turn may have come from Egyptian hieroglyphs?

I believe you don't want to say that one of the most recent form of the third alphabet 'C' resembles a moon, so that it must be originated from a crescent. Please give a specific alphabet that you are trying to 'interpret'.
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Re: LUNAR PHASES IN THE ALPHABET

Postby finicky » Sat 29 Jan 2011 5:53 pm

Kaenif, the shape of the characters 'C', 'gimel' and 'gamma' all resemble the crescent ('C' of course most conspicuously). When you examine early alphabetic inscriptions, and compare the 'progression' of letterforms among variant ancient alphabets, it becomes evident that they share a formal origin. The 15th letter 'O' corresponds, in form, to the letters 'ayin' and 'omega'. No one is able to establish with certitude what the original alphabet comprised. But my work -- which posits that the original alphabet (whatever that was) hypothetically may have been conceived as a mnemonic of lunation -- is based on the evidence of formal, ordinal and spectral convergences of eight pivotal letters in the oldest remains (proto-Semitic and Hellenic) with the focal lunar phases. Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, Greek, Etruscan, Latin and Cyrillic followed much later.

I've used Hebrew and Greek names for the relevant letterforms, because the names of the characters in the ancient proto-Semitic and Hellenic inscriptions are not known. Respective letters in the oldest inscriptions, however, clearly evolved into later forms with these names. My use of the Latin forms and English names is purely an expedient, employed both to make the hypothesis intelligible to those without a sense of ancient script, and for emphasis. I'm not trying to establish which of the surviving ancient alphabets is either the original or nearest to it. But I am saying that the putative lunar principle behind the conception of the original alphabet, clearly prevails in its successors.
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Re: LUNAR PHASES IN THE ALPHABET

Postby dranorter » Sun 20 Feb 2011 5:30 am

Finicky, the reason your hypothesis is not well-supported is that it is easy to see patterns in simple shapes. So for example Primus finds that there is a solid correspondence between the shapes of letters and the sounds they tend to be used to represent (http://www.uni-koeln.de/phil-fak/idsl/d ... s_2004.pdf). Yet it would be feasible (though time-consuming) to repeat his analysis on a randomly scrambled alphabet and find a different but functionally similar pattern. Clues that a pattern you think you see might be coincidence include needing to pull in fairly complex arguments as you do for the letter Π or he does for the letter L (if I recall correctly - it is not a hard consonant yet it is tall, so it needs a bit of explaining). I believe a similar lunar pattern could be found in a scrambled alphabet, so you need more evidence to prove your point.

Don't get me wrong, I'm fully in support of random theories, and people get too stuck in their ways and unwilling to consider new ideas a lot of the time.
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Re: LUNAR PHASES IN THE ALPHABET

Postby finicky » Sun 20 Feb 2011 10:14 pm

dranorter: I'm actually not trying to prove anything. I merely sought to share a recent discovery with others who might appreciate the headsup. The fact that 8 letters of the alphabet conform in three different respects (formal, ordinal and spectral) with the only phases of the lunation which are identifiable on sight, seems to me a compelling 'coincidence'. And if, as you maintain, such 'patterns' are easy to see in simple shapes, it is all the more remarkable that it has gone unrecorded through 3500 years of the alphabet's existence.
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Re: LUNAR PHASES IN THE ALPHABET

Postby dranorter » Tue 22 Feb 2011 7:29 pm

Hmm, I see what you mean, but there is a sort of inherent attempt to prove something in what you're saying. People would have no reason or desire to record such patterns if they realized how easy they were to come up with.

But on the other hand, people *have* recorded numerous patterns found in letters throughout history. For example Geoffrey Tory saw in the alphabet a description of the proportions of the human body, and simultaneously a diagram of a flute (each letter described precisely where one hole would be). I've already noted Primus' phonetic patterns. I just dug up a book with some others, it's called 'the alphabetic labyrinth,' I'll list more if you're interested. Your pattern is certainly worth adding to the collection, if such a collection turns out to be useful, and I suppose it could be useful for inspiring font designs or making mnemonics. But in that view it is less a discovery and more an invention.

I do have my own pet pattern; I think the Alphabet shows us what the 'visual primitives' we see with are, though of course it doesn't do a very good job of this since it's also been traditionally constrained by hand motion. But each of the many orthographies in the world has a different favored set of visual primitives, so maybe we can get an okay bearing on things that way. :) But that's just my idea.

Thanks for your reply!
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