Abecedarian Arcana

I keep a pocket notebook in my bookbag for the scrawling of notes and ephemera to remind myself something at a future date. Occasionally, my notes are a little too ephemeral.

Last night, for instance, I found the phrase “abecedarian arcana” on a line all by itself. The uses of the word generally have to do with the alphabet: ordering it, learning or teaching it and so on.[1] Now I’m not sure why I wrote “abecedarian arcana” down, as it doesn’t seem to be a title or name for anything on a cursory search. It was probably a turn of phrase that popped into my head one day.

It immediately puts me in mind of one of Unknown Armies‘ less well-known schools of post-modern magick, anagram gematria (also known as A Grammarian Gate). What sort of power does a magician wield through the ordering of letters? They’re the visual symbols for the sounds we make to talk to each other. By changing the qualities of letters, maybe one could obscure meaning or remove certain words from consciousness.


[1] Interestingly, the Abecedarians were a 16th century Christian sect that eschewed human knowledge and instruction, believing God would grant them knowledge directly. I wonder how they managed to pass on their teachings.

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One thought on “Abecedarian Arcana

  1. It wouldn’t be that remarkably different from the Norse style of rune magic. The Norse believed that the runic symbols were essential forces made manifest. Those who knew how to use and control the runes could control the forces they represented. Sympathetic magic at its finest.

    It would likely also be related to “true name” magic, I believe popularized by the Earthsea books. Everything has a name. If you know a thing’s true name, you could command it. I’ve seen a couple of magic systems published in various places that are based on true names. Perhaps the abecedarians are able to change a thing by changing its name.

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