Lam or lamed is the twelfth of twenty-two letters meaning that it sits squarely in the center of the aleph-beis. As others have pointed out, this makes lam the heart of the aleph-beis just as our human heart is the center of our own bodies. Lam is also the largest letter, physically, making it the Supreme King.
Lam, as one of the two letters of the name of god, EL, connects it to concepts of supremacy and power.
Fabre d’Olivet in his opus, “The Hebrew Tongue Restored” written in 1921 writes about a beautiful dimension of lam (pg 377): “As a symbolic image, it represents the arm of man, the wing of a bird that which extends, raises and unfolds itself. As a grammatical sign, it is expansive movement and is applied to all ideas of extension, elevation, occupation, possession.”
Lam is the staff of authority, the heart of hearts, the supreme king, the principle of expansion, and not uncoincidentally, the second letter of the two letter name of god – El. It is, in summation the quintessential letter which stands for divinity and the stuff of the heavens.
What experiences led Abraham and Sarah to become the matriarch patriarch of a new religion? Led them to beginning a cultural thread which culminates in a whole new vision of religion? There were many experiences but the focus today is looking at their possible initiation into the Mysteries. In spiritual systems throughout time and throughout the world, when an initiate has experienced the Great Mysteries, they are initiated in ceremony. One mark of this experience is to earn a new name. In this thread, I am are going to look at two definitive cases of new Biblical names, and one speculative one. The first is Abram (Avram) and Sarai from Ur.
Look at where they travel to in the course of their lives: EgyptThere was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there. Genesis 12:10
As discussed in my previous blog, Egypt had the most ancient and most prominent of all mystery schools. Even through there is no record of it, it would make sense that Abram and Sarai had some contact with the ancient Egyptian mystery schools during their time there. further evidence that they had an experience of the Great Mystery is that soon after this sojourn, Abram has a personal conversation with divinity or Biblically speaking, forms a covenant with God:No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. Genesis 17:5
Changing a name changes the course of one’s life.And God said to Abraham, “As for your wife, Sarai, you shall not call her Sarai, but her name shall be Sarah.” Genesis 17:15
What is the significance of adding the “ha” sound to Abram’s name and its variation, “ah” to Sarai’s? The Kabbalah speaks about Abram’s name change; “From under the Throne of Glory, God took the letter ה [pronounced “hey” or “ha”], with which the world was created, and crowned Abram by implanting it in his name, which became Abraham.”[i]
This is the same breath of life, already discussed as the “wind of divinity.” Here is the thread: http://themysticpagan.com/breath-vibration-song-and-creation/
It is surely conceivable that Abram and Sarai went through an initiation process and ceremony. When Abram became Abraham, and Sarai became Sarah, it was the breath of life “with which the world was created” that was incorporated into their core being. The addition of the power syllable made palpable their connection to all of creation through the agency of breath.
After receiving her new name, Sarah learns she will give birth:she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her Genesis 17:16
Abraham and Sarah with their awakened, renewed interconnection to the power of breath, are about to create new life or in a Biblical context, become the matriarch and patriarch of “nations.” As above so below; creation as it occurred in the heavens when god’s breath blew over the waters. This is reflected in human life. Ha, the seed of creation, is an outward manifestation of their inward spiritual journey.
Next post: Another Biblical name change.
[i] Munk, Rabbi Michael L, The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet, Mesorah Publications, ltd, 2009; 87. From Yalkut Reuveni, a Kabbalistic work written in 1660.
I used these photos to illustrate this post because the animals are all engaged in play with obvious breath actions. Felines do it really well. The mama lion is playing with her cubs, the gibbon baby is playing with his father, and two baby snow leopards are rough-housing. Breath is about movement, laughter and play. In can also be about crying, release of stress, and sorrow. Breath is all manner of living and life!
When chanting, experiment with different breath patterns.
- Are you breathing into your diaphragm?
- Your upper chest?
- Your pelvic area?
- Your toes?
- Are you breathing with your mouth?
- Your nose?
- Do you draw the syllables out in one breath?
- Or many?
- Do you chant on the breath in?
- The breath out?
Hazrat Inayat Khan was a Sufi mystic who lived from 1882 until 1927. His mission in life was to bring together or “harmonize” the traditions of East and West through the agency of music. In his book, The Music of Life (Omega Publications, 2005; 206) he discusses why a musical meditation using sacred symbols is so powerful; “Breath runs through all three: body, mind and soul. Seeing from this point of view, one will realize that man has never been separated from God that with every breath man touches God. He is linked with God by the current of breath.”
Below, I re-state Khan’s quote, substituting the spiritual concepts of “humanity” for “man” and “YHVH (Ya-hu-ah)” for “God.” The pronunciation I use for YHVH (Ya-hu-ah) is based on the spiritual knowledge of using prominent power syllables to form the name of divinity. Cross-culturally and throughout the ancient world, names of the divine were created by using power syllables. The pronunciation I use is not correct according to rules of Hebrew grammar. Although there is much argument about the correct pronunciation of YHVH, it is generally agreed that according to Hebrew rules it would be something akin to Yah-weh. This is a good example of how manifest earthly knowledge and spiritual knowledge can appear different and yet both be correct.
Here is my restatement, a divergent translation of his words; Breath runs through all three; body, mind and soul. Seeing from this point of view, one will realize that humanity has never been separated from YHVH (Ya-hu-ah) that with every breath humanity touches YHVH (Ya-hu-ah). Humanity is intertwined with YHVH (Ya-hu-ah) through the current of breath.
A Kabbalist axiom expresses this same concept using different expression:
י ח ו ח“He who can rightly pronounce it, causeth heaven and earth to tremble, for it is the NAME which rusheth through the universe.”
In my book One Gods: The Mystic Pagan’s Guide to the Bible I go deeper into these concepts and discuss more chants. You can help me in getting in this published at my indiegogo link at the side of my home page.
(Quote appears on the title page of The Hebraic Tongue Restored by Fabre d’Olivet, Samuel Weiser, Inc. first printed, 1921, reprinted 1976)