Tales of witches, gods and goddesses.


Sharp thorns produce delicate roses, said the great poet Ovid.  Canvey Island had a rather thorny, lewd and cruel side to its existence, while on the surface it appeared wild in parts and serene in others.  The Lobster Smack Inn built at Holehaven before the eighteenth century was known for its, rum smugglers and ladies of the night.  It became the delight of tourists. The smugglers were said to have built a secret passage from the inn to the old vicarage belonging to St. Katherine’s church, in Vicarage Close. A resident claimed in 1990 to have seen the entrance in the vicarage cellar, with a wood-supported brick-lined tunnel leading to a chamber before emerging at the pub. Other tunnels originating at this spot are rumoured to head for Hadleigh – to either the castle or St. Mary’s church – and for the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet.[1]  Offshore the Mayflower took on provisions pending an historic voyage that would be recorded in the annals of history and read by every school student.   Hidden in more secluded places there were other establishments where tourist would not have dared venture, people called them private clubs and they were alleged to have their roots in an older establishment of dubious activities.   The Scarhouse Farm, Waterside Farm and Kittotts (cold cottage) all date back to the sixteenth century. Little is known about the occupants.   It was alleged that one farmer took a new wife every year when the previous one died from hard labour; the name of the farmer or his residence was never spoken of, but families feared for their daughters and continued to do so for years to come.

The dark past of Essex life rubbed off on the locals of Canvey Island, both ancient and modern.  The county was wrought with violence and rebellion.  Essex was the domain of mediaeval witches and it was commonly known as witch country.

The starting point of the witch hunts of 1644 took place in Essex.  England was very religious and the witch hunts became the worst purge of non-orthodox believers in history.  The search for witches was led by the witch-finder General Matthew Hopkins who subjected the region’s inhabitants to immense suffering and indescribable horrors. Witchcraft was generally a female occupation.  Male witches gained the title of Cunning Men and Essex was the birthplace of one of the most famous Cunning Man, James Murrell.  Mr Murrell was known as the Cunning Man of Hadleigh.  Hadleigh was a small town that overlooks the River Thames estuary and Canvey Island.

Murrell was born the seventh son of a seventh son in Rochford in 1780. The figure seven was said to have mystical qualities and  it recurs in religious texts throughout the world.   It is a prime number and not particularly useful as a factor, the Babylonians, who otherwise adored factorable numbers, divided the weeks into 7 days. This was because it was in simplistic accordance with time intervals between phases of the moon1. As the calendar (and cyclic events) has always been an essential part of organized religion, this division into 7s was something that religious authors felt the need to explain in cosmic and supernatural terms and lunar symbology formed a key part of pagan lore.

The number 7 has been mythologized for a very long time. Modern religions such as Christianity and Islam grew out of Mesopotamia, and some of that region’s most ancient archaeological evidence shows us that the number 7 already had cosmic significance. Their very creation story is alluded to as the Seven Tablets of Creation. The Babylonian Legends of Creation, were translated by E. A. Wallis Budge in 1921.

      In the beginning nothing whatever existed except APSÛ, which may be described as a boundless, confused and disordered mass of watery matter; how it came into being is unknown. Out of this mass there were evolved two orders of beings, namely, demons and gods. The demons had hideous forms, even as Berosus said, which were part animal, part bird, part reptile and part human. The gods had wholly human forms, and they represented the three layers of the comprehensible world, that is to say, heaven or the sky, the atmosphere, and the underworld. The atmosphere and the underworld together formed the earth.  The texts say that the first two gods to be created were LAKHMU and LAKHAMU . Their attributes cannot at present be described, but they seem to represent two forms of primitive matter. They appear to have had no existence in popular religion, and it has been thought that they may be described as theological conceptions containing the notions of matter and some of its attributes.

      After countless aeons had passed the gods ANSHAR and KISHAR came into being; the former represents the “hosts of heaven,” and the latter the “hosts of earth.” After another long and indefinite period the independent gods of the Babylonian pantheon came into being, e.g., ANU , EA , who is here called NUDIMMUD , and others.

As soon as the gods appeared in the universe “order” came into being. When APSÛ, the personification of confusion and disorder of every kind, saw this “order,” he took counsel with his female associate TIÂMAT with the object of finding some means of destroying the “way” (al-ka-at) or “order” of the gods. Fortunately, the Babylonians and Assyrians have supplied us with representations of Tiâmat, and these show us what form ancient tradition assigned to her. She is depicted as a ferocious monster with wings and scales and terrible claws, and her body is sometimes that of a huge serpent, and sometimes that of an animal. In the popular imagination she represented all that was physically terrifying, and foul, and abominable; she was nevertheless the mother of everything, and was the possessor of the DUP SHIMATI or “TABLET OFDESTINIES” . No description of this Tablet or its contents is available, but from its name we may assume that it was a sort of Babylonian Book of Fate.   Theologically, Tiâmat represented to the Babylonians the same state in the development of the universe as did tôhû wâ-bhôhû (Genesis i. 2), i.e., formlessness and voidness, of primeval matter, to the Hebrews She is depicted both on bas-reliefs and on cylinder seals in a form which associates her with LABARTU, a female devil that prowled about the desert at night suckling wild animals but killing men. And it is tolerably certain that she was the type, and symbol, and head of the whole community of fiends, demons and devils.

In the consultation which took place between APSÛ and TIÂMAT, their messenger MU-UM-MU took part; of the history and attributes of this last-named god nothing is known. The result of the consultation was that a long struggle began between the demons and the gods, and it is clear that the object of the powers of darkness was to destroy the light. The whole story of this struggle is the subject of the Seven Tablets of Creation. The gods are deifications of the sun, moon, planets and other stars, and APSÛ, or CHAOS, and his companions the demons, are personifications of darkness, night and evil. The story of the fight between them is nothing more nor less than a picturesque allegory of natural phenomena. Similar descriptions are found in the literatures of other primitive nations, and the story of the great fight between Her-ur, the great god of heaven, and Set, the great captain of the hosts of darkness, may be quoted as an example. Set regarded the “order” which Ḥer-ur was bringing into the universe with the same dislike as that with which APSÛ contemplated the beneficent work of Sin, the Moon-god, Shamash, the Sun-god, and their brother gods. And the hostility of Set and his allies to the gods, like that of Tiâmat and her allies, was everlasting.

At this point a new Text fills a break in the First Tablet, and describes the fight which took place between Nudimmud or Ea, (the representative of the established “order” which the rule of the gods had introduced into the domain of Apsû and Tiâmat) and Apsû and his envoy Mummu. Ea went forth to fight the powers of darkness and he conquered Apsû and Mummu. The victory over Apsû, i.e., the confused and boundless mass of primeval water, represents the setting of impassable boundaries to the waters that are on and under the earth, i.e., the formation of the Ocean. The exact details of the conquest cannot be given, but we know that Ea was the possessor of the “pure (or white, or holy) incantation” and that he overcame Apsû and his envoy by the utterance of a powerful spell. In the Egyptian Legend of Rā and Āapep, the monster is rendered spell-bound by the god Ḥer-Ṭuati, who plays in it exactly the same part as Ea in the Babylonian Legend.

When Tiâmat heard of Ea’s victory over Apsû and Mummu she was filled with fury, and determined to avenge the death of Apsû, her husband.

The first act of TIÂMAT after the death of Apsû was to increase the number of her allies. We know that a certain creature called “UMMU-KHUBUR” at once spawned a brood of devilish monsters to help her in her fight against the gods. Nothing is known of the origin or attributes of UMMU-KHUBUR, but some think she was a form of TIÂMAT. Her brood probably consisted of personifications of mist, fog, cloud, storm, whirlwinds and the blighting and destroying powers which primitive man associated with the desert. An exact parallel of this brood of devils is found in Egyptian mythology where the allies of Set and Āapep are called “Mesu beṭshet” i.e., “spawn of impotent revolt.” They are depicted in the form of serpents, and some of them became the “Nine Worms of Ȧmenti” that are mentioned in the Book of the Dead (Chap. Ia).

Not content with Ummu-Khubur’s brood of devils, Tiâmat called the stars and powers of the air to her aid, for she “set up” (1) the Viper, (2) the Snake, (3) the god Lakhamu, (4) the Whirlwind, (5) the ravening Dog, (6) the Scorpion-man, (7) the mighty Storm-wind, (8) the Fish-man, and (9) the Horned Beast. These bore (10) the “merciless, invincible weapon,” and were under the command of (11) Kingu, whom Tiâmat calls “her husband.” Thus Tiâmat had Eleven mighty Helpers besides the devils spawned by Ummu-Khubur. We may note in passing that some of the above-mentioned Helpers appear among the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac which Marduk “set up” after his conquest of Tiâmat, e.g., the Scorpion-man, the Horned Beast, etc. This fact suggests that the first Zodiac was “set up” by Tiâmat, who with her Eleven Helpers formed the Twelve Signs; the association of evil with certain stars may date from that period. That the Babylonians regarded the primitive gods as powers of evil is clear from the fact that Lakhamu, one of them, is enumerated among the allies of Tiâmat.

The helpers of Tiâmat were placed by her under the command of a god called KINGU who is TAMMUZ. He was the counterpart, or equivalent, of ANU, the Sky-god, in the kingdom of darkness, for it is said in the text “Kingu was exalted and received the power of Anu,” i.e., he possessed the same power and attributes as Anu. When Tiâmat appointed Kingu to be her captain, she recited over him a certain spell or incantation, and then she gave   him the TABLET OF DESTINIES and fastened it to his breast, saying, “Whatsoever goeth forth from thy mouth shall be established.” Armed with all the magical powers conferred upon him by this Tablet, and heartened by all the laudatory epithets which his wife Tiâmat heaped upon him, Kingu went forth at the head of his devils.

When Ea heard that Tiâmat had collected her forces and Was determined to continue the fight against the gods which Apsû and Mummu had begun, and that she had made her husband Kingu her champion, he was “afflicted” and “sat in sorrow.” He felt unable to renew the fight against the powers of darkness, and he therefore went and reported the new happenings to Anshar, representative of the “host of heaven,” and took counsel with him. When Anshar heard the matter he was greatly disturbed in mind and bit his lips, for he saw that the real difficulty was to find a worthy antagonist for Kingu and Tiâmat. A gap in the text here prevents us from knowing exactly what Anshar said and did, but the context suggests that he summoned Anu, the Sky-god, to his assistance. Then, having given him certain instructions, he sent him on an embassy to Tiâmat with the view of conciliating her. When Anu reached the place where she was he found her in a very wrathful state, and she was muttering angrily; Anu was so appalled at the sight of her that he turned and fled. It is impossible at present to explain this interlude, or to find any parallel to it in other ancient Oriental literature.[2]

In Sanskrit’s most ancient holy book, the Rig Vega, there are seven stars, seven concentric continents, and seven streams of soma, the drink of the gods. According to the Jewish and Christian Old Testament, the world was created in seven days and Noah’s dove returned seven days after the Flood. Similarly, the Egyptians mapped seven paths to heaven, Allah created a seven-layered Islamic heaven and earth, and the newborn Buddha took seven strides. […] For numerologists, seven signifies creation, because it is the sum of the spiritual three and the material four; for alchemists, there are clear parallels between the seven steps leading up to King Solomon’s temple and the seven successive stages of chemical and spiritual purification. Iranian cats have seven lives, seven deities bring good luck in Japan, and a traditional Jewish cure for fever entailed taking seven prickles from seven palm trees and seven nails from seven doors. [3]

According to the Freemasons, the mystical ladder, which in Masonry is referred to  as the theological ladder and that which Jacob saw in his vision, reaching from earth to heaven, was widely dispersed among the religions of antiquity.  the ladder was often translated into steps or degrees.  For instance, in the Mysteries of Mithras, in Persia, where there were seven stages, gates or degrees of initiation. Initiation took place in caves where a latter was erected.  [4]

In the Mysteries of Brahma we find the same reference to the ladder of seven steps; but here the names were different… seven steps were emblematical of the seven worlds which constituted the Indian universe. The lowest was the Earth; the second, the World of Re-existence; the third, Heaven; the fourth, the Middle World, or intermediate region between the lower and upper worlds; the fifth, the World of Births, in which souls are again born; the sixth, the Mansion of the Blessed; and the seventh, or topmost round, the Sphere of Truth, the abode of Brahma, he himself being but a symbol of the sun. [5]

The Greek Pythagoreans believed that the number seven pointed symbolically to the union of the Deity within the universe. This association was picked up by the Christian church during the Middle Ages. Seven was regarded as having sacred power, as in the seven cardinal virtues, seven deadly sins, seven sacraments, […], etc. Thus, it was held that there must logically be exactly seven planets resembling Earth.

The pagan definition of seven the number 7 is just one of many numbers that resonates with  superstitious humans who manage to engage successfully in self-fulfilling prophecies. Magic is compelling because it sits in the realms of the unknown and the mystery stimulates the imagination and makes people very creative, which is why it often heals what ails us.  Creativity is the building block of health and well-being.

There are so many stories which feature that importance of the number 7 that it is not sensible to list them all. Many of them are minor coincidences, for example, Noah released a Dove to see if it could find land after God drowned the entire Earth, but it came back. He waited seven days before trying again (Genesis 8:8-11). No other multiples-of-seven surround this Dove, hence, it is probably pointless to draw any mystical inference from this (unless it has something to do with nature’s cycle of life and plant growth following a deluge – but what?). Hopefully some of the following (such as sneezing 7 times) can be seen to be clearly related to superstitions and mythology:

  1. God finishes creation on the 7th day (Genesis 2:2), which is Saturday, the holy day (unlike pagan sun-worshippers, who preferred Sunday).
  2. God will deliver seven sets of vengeance against anyone who murders Cain (Genesis 4:15. Lamech in 4:24) claims that due to this, his own death will be avenged 77 times (Why? Who knows). Although Jesus had the opposite idea. Instead of revenge for sin, Jesus in Luke 17:3-4 says that if someone repents, you have to forgive them even up to seven times in a day. And in case the comparison with Cain and Lamech wasn’t clear, in Matthew 18:21-22 he is asked if you should forgive someone up to seven times. His reply: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven”.
  3. The dreams of the Pharaoh in Genesis 41:1-7 (repeated in Genesis 41:17-24) is full of sevens: Seven well fed fish who are eaten by seven malnourished ones, seven good ears of corn eaten by seven poor ones. Joseph interprets all this as being seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine (41:25-27), which according to the same author, did then actually happen (41:29-31, 53-54).
  4. During the animal sacrifice ritual designed by God to atone for sin, a male bull’s blood was to be sprinkled before God seven times (amongst many other routines), in Leviticus 4:6.
  5. More to do with “plenty”, grown foods and the cycles of nature, Exodus 13:3-10 has the feast of Passover last 7 days, and, likewise the magical food obtained from heaven (manna) is patterned over a 7-day week in Exodus 16:1-5,14-15,22-23 which also instructs people not to gather food on the Sabbath (Saturday) in 16:25-27,29-30.
  6. The ritual Menorah candle has 7 stalks (the central stem and 6 branches) and is designed by God (Exodus 25:31-32,37).
  7. Seven priests with seven trumpets march around Jericho seven times in Joshua 6:3-16,20-21 (with much repetition), and this causes its walls to fall down, so they could kill everyone inside (Joshua 6:21) and loot the gold and silver (Joshua 6:19).
  8. 2 Kings 4:34-35 sees Elisha raise a child from the dead: “And lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his bands; and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he walked to and fro; and went up, and stretched upon him; and the child sneezed seven times, and opened his eyes”.
  9. Proverbs 9:1: Wisdom has seven pillars.
  10. God/Jesus produce basketfulls of bread from seven loaves of bread, and the remnants fill seven baskets, in Matthew 15:32-37.
  11. The Book of Revelation is structured around the number 7 and its continual repetition of the importance of this number is somewhat of an overkill. The Book is purportedly a message to seven Christian churches represented by 7 spirits (Revelation 1:4,11) and starts when Jesus appears to the author amidst 7 candlesticks (1:12-13) and holding 7 stars in his right hand (1:16). 1:20 has seven stars in God’s right hand, and two sets of seven sources of light, all of which represent seven churches. In 3:1 there are seven spirits of God, and seven stars. 4:5 has seven burning lamps before the throne, symbolizing The Seven Tablets of Creation. Description of Their Contents. seven parts of God. In 5:6, these 7 are sent to the Earth, and sacrificed, and are symbolized by a lamb with 7 horns and 7 eyes. Seven seals are opened revealing seven judgements (5:1). The seals are opened one by one and the 7th unleashes seven more judgements, heralded by 7 trumpet blasts and 7 angels (8:1-2). It goes on and on. Interestingly, it is not only all things godly and heavenly that come in sevens; the Beast, the enemy who fights against God, is also surrounded by multiples of 7. There are 22 chapters in Revelation and this was just some items from the first eight.

      The number 7 is used to represent good things and bad things in the Bible, holy things and evil things, such as the Beast in Revelations and the number of heads of the three beats, and the number of heads of the monstrous Hydra. There are also, of course, the Seven Deadly Sins.

          One author puts it like this:

Seven was, among the Hebrews, their perfect number; and hence we see it continually recurring in all their sacred rites. [… some stuff already mentioned above]. Noah received seven days’ notice of the commencement of the deluge, and seven persons accompanied him into the ark, which rested on Mount Ararat on the seventh month; Solomon was seven years in building the temple: and there are hundreds of other instances of the prominence of this talismanic number.”[6]

There are 7 heavens: Qur’an 2:29, 17:44-46, 65:12, 67:3, 71:15 and 78:12.

  1. Hell has 7 gates: 15:43-44 (separate parties of Satan-followers go to each gate) — See Hell in World Religions: 9. Hell in the Koran.
  2. The Tawaf of the Hajj: The Tawaf is the ritualistic walk between two ancient pagan mounds. This is performed 7 times during the Hajj pilgrimage, and is given sanction in Qur’an 2:158. Muhammad himself said that he dislikes this custom because of its pagan nature, however, states that it is not sinful as the Qur’an now endorses it. The reason he gives for it being lawful is that Muslims were only just coming out of paganism, therefore, Muslims should no longer be performing this ritual as Islam is now well-established. From the Hadiths:

“Narrated ‘Asim: I asked Anas bin Malik: “Did you use to dislike to perform Tawaf between Safa and Marwa?” He said, “Yes, as it was of the ceremonies of the days of the Pre-lslamic period of ignorance, till Allah revealed: ‘Verily! (The two mountains) As-Safa and Al-Marwa are among the symbols of Allah. It is therefore no sin for him who performs the pilgrimage to the Ka’ba, or performs ‘Umra, to perform Tawaf between them.’”The number 7 is also a mystical and important number for the Theosophists, to the extent that aspects of the theology/philosophy are infused with it to a nonsensical degree:



       Theosophists have always taken Atlantis for granted, and to the myth have added a second one – the myth of Lemuria. This name was originally proposed by a nineteenth-century zoologist for a land mass he thought must have existed in the Indian Ocean, and which would account for the geographical distribution of the lemur. Madame Blavatsky, the high priestess of theosophy, adopted the name and wrote in some detail about the ‘Third Root Race’ that she believed flourished on the island.

According to Blavatsky, five root races have so far appeared on the planet, with two more yet to come. Each root race has seven ‘sub-races,’ and each sub-race has seven ‘branch races.’ (Seven is a mystical number for theosophists.) The first root race, which lived somewhere around the North Pole, was a race of ‘fire mist’ people – ethereal and invisible. The Second Root Race inhabited northern Asia. They had astral bodies on the borderline of visibility. At first, they propagated by a kind of fission, but eventually this evolved into sexual reproduction after passing through a stage in which both sexes were united in each individual. The Third Root Race lived on Lemuria. They were ape-like giants with corporeal bodies that slowly developed into forms much like modern man. Lemuria was submerged in a great convulsion, but not before a sub-race had migrated to Atlantis to begin the Fourth Root Race.

The Fifth Root Race, the Aryan, sprang from the fifth sub-race of the Atlanteans. At the present time, according to theosophists, the Sixth Root Race is slowly emerging from the sixth sub-race of Aryans. This is happening in Southern California where, in Annie Besant’s words, the ‘climate approaches most nearly to our ideal of Paradise.’ […] After the Seventh Root Race (which will develop from the seventh sub-race of the sixth root race) has risen and fallen, the earth cycle will have ended and a new one will start on the planet Mercury.”[7]


As the writer Martin Gardner (1957) writes: What we do know is that the evolution of life has not gone through any series of species related in any way by the number seven, and, that of course, it never will. Every concept of Theosophy’s idea of Root and Sub races is wrong, but, it still represents yet another attempt to explain reality in terms of stories that encompass the number seven. All such stories turn out to be terrible descriptions of truth, because simply, the number may be loved by many humans but it is not a particularly important number in the physics of the Universe.

All stories that give cosmic and universal significance to the number 7 turn out to be terrible descriptions of truth, because simply, although the number may be loved by many humans, it is not a particularly important number in the physics of the Universe. It all started with our Human attempts to measure time; the Babylonians (and others) divided the phases of the moon into 4 parts, each of 7 days. Although not perfectly accurate, it is a useful division and gave us our week. As all religious and organized ritual systems come to be based on natural events and natural cycles (especially those stemming from agricultural societies), the number 7 became a religious and magical number. As such, those who wrote down our myths and religious beliefs from the very beginnings of our recorded history, have attempted to describe the world according to their own beliefs which have included a prominent number 7. Christianity, Islam and other world religions have used it; occult systems and magical societies have embraced it, and endless superstitions and mythologies give importance to the number 7. It is used by many as a godly and heavenly number, but also in the Christian Bible, Satan is surrounded by the symbolism of the number 7 in the Book of Revelation. All in all, be highly suspicious and sceptical when you see any story that claims to be true and which imbues the number 7 with special significance.

In the middle of the third millennium BC the Sumerians must have noticed that the reciprocal of the number 7, in contrast to the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 could not be expressed by a finite sexagesimal fraction but it recurred every three places. Since the number 7 is the first natural number that has such a property, it stood out and became regarded as magical number in a system in of mysticism.[8] Seven was an important number to the Witches and Cunning Men because they were astrologers who worked their magic around the seven classical planets, which were also said to control the drives of humans.    These planets are the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars. The social or transpersonal (or spiritual) planets are Jupiter and Saturn.

In 1812, before becoming a witch, Murrell moved to Hadleigh in Essex and set up business as a shoe maker. Murrell later met a witch called Neboad from whom he took lessons in the wiccan craft. Murrell then gave up shoe making and became a full-time Cunning Man. Murrell’s fame grew and he was sought out by rich and poor to procure potions for healing. He worked on body and mind intending to bring the character of his clients to its fullest potential by restoring the natural equilibrium of life.    Murrell’s potions contained local herbs and were accompanied by pleas to the supernatural forces, the good and bad spirits of ancient ancestors.  Murrell was an expert in astrology and he was consulted on a wide range of issues including finding lost objects, clairvoyance and his ability to cast and break spells.   Legend has it that Murrell, using a potion sent a burning sensation to a gypsy woman who was believed to have cursed a young girl. The potion when heated exploded and the next day the body of the gypsy was found burnt to death.   The girl was subsequently cured and the curse was gone.   Many stories about Murrell were passed down by word of mouth creating a legend around a man who was said to be the greatest witch in England.[9]  Murrell had a strong connection to Canewdon a place that became synonymous with English witches. Canewdon means the hill of the Cana people and shares this derivative with Canvey Island, also known as the land of the Cana people.

The villages of Hadleigh and Canewdon were about nine miles from each other and there was often fierce competition between them to see who had the best witch. Each village would devise a challenge in order to outdo the neighbouring village.  According to the legend the Canewdon villagers petitioned their vicar, Rev William Atkinson to allow Murrell to use his whistling powers so the witches would dance naked around the churchyard. The vicar refused permission because it was said his own wife was a witch and he didn’t want her witchcraft to be revealed.  Mary Ann Atkinson, the vicar’s wife and her sister Lady Lodwick were believed by many to be part of a coven that existed prior to 1860.   The close friendship between the Vicar Atkinson and Murrell cemented the union between the church and witchcraft as well as Murrell’s position as Master of Witches in the region.[10]

The history of witches in Essex is acknowledged with some pride, but the terms witch and magic  could mean many things, heresy in many forms was rife in tribal life and extended its influence throughout the centuries.   The migration of a people of Semite origins saw a great interest in the Kabbalah, which was better known in England as the School of Hermetic Sciences. It is also known as having stemmed from the early Hermetic and theosophical practices which also filtered down through the classical literature. For example. Scholars have examined the possibility that William Shakespeare constructed his Sonnets with recourse to gematria and numerology as set out by Agrippa in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy (1532). I addition, Kabbalistic evidence is presented by the scholars of Freemasonry supporting the thesis that esoteric, numerical compositions were central to Shakespearean literature.  We know that Shakespeare had links to occultists and to the Freemasons. It was the occultist Alistair Fowler who examined the Sonnets from an occultist and structural viewpoint. He found numerological patterns that dated back to the late sixteenth century which followed the Pythagorian triangle (the triad).[11] The triad represents the number three and the unity of opposites. It is the first born and the eldest number. The equilateral triangle serves as its geometric representation and is the first shape to emerge from the vesica piscis. The triangle contains the smallest area within the greater perimeter.  The triad signifies prudence, wisdom, piety, friendship, peace, and harmony. The triangle represents balance and is a polygon of stability and strength. The number three is the number of harmony.
The fact that Shakespeare’s numerically predicated words are mostly in Greek may be explained by the fact that of the two classical languages traditionally used in literary Kabbalah, Greek and Hebrew, the former would have been better known to Shakespeare. The hermetic alphabet sits at the core of the Wiccan tradition and is present in both the Celtic and Semitic languages. The Kabbalah pre-dates the Runes and the Tarot by approximately 100 years. The Kabbala is a system of Jewish mysticism that is thought to have originated in Southern France and Spain in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but it may in fact be much older. The term Kabbalah was originally used to denote wisdom, inner knowledge or understanding of the hidden mysteries, and it was not until much later that the term was used to refer to Jewish mysticism. The Kabbalah was intended to be a system of thought that allowed people to unravel the mysteries and unknown concepts concerning  God  and his on her creations. Scholars tend to look for its origins in the first century before Christ. The first document is considered to be the forerunner of Kabalism, and the basis of the rest of it is the  Sepher Yetzirah  (Book of Formation), written by an anonymous author (like both the Elderfuthark Runes and the Tarot) most probably around the third century before the birth of Christ. The  Sepher Yetzirah  deals with the creation of the Universe by means of the  ten sephiram, which are archetypal numbers, one through to ten, and the twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet. There are ten  sephiram  in the Kabbalah. Each sephira points to a specific character trait, which helps us identify exactly where we are in our evolutionary path to enlightenment. Each sephira corresponds with a specific planet, and is therefore closely aligned with the celestial art of Astrology. The Kabala represents Tree of Life and the ten sephira are connected to twenty-two lines, or pathways. These focal points are considered separate stages of G-od, or aspects of life. [12] The Tree of Life, did not appear until the Middle Ages, but its sentiments are much older as it reflects an inner world that appears everywhere in history.

[1] ‘The Echo’, online news 10/7/13.


[2] The Seven Tablets of Creation. Description of Their Contents. http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/blc/blc07.htm

[3]  Science: A Four Thousand Year History.  by Patricia Fara (2009)

[4]  The Symbolism of Freemasonry  by Albert G. Mackey (1869)4

[5] Ibid.

[6]  The Symbolism of Freemasonry  by Albert G. Mackey (1869).

[7]  Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science” by Martin Gardner (1957).

[8]Kazuo Muroi The Origin of the Mystical Number Seven in Mesopotamian Culture; Division by Seven in the Sexagesimal Number System https://arxiv.org/abs/1407.6246

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] http://www.masoncode.com/Shakespeare-Sonnets.htm

[12] Joanne Walmsley. http://elderfutharkrunes.blogspot.com.au/2010/11/cabala-kabbalah-and-runes.html