The Riddle of SebRa



I) “Aye! listen to the numbers & the words:

4 6 3 8 A B K 2 4 A L G M O R 3 Y X 24 89 R P S T O V A L. What meaneth this, o prophet? Thou knowest not; nor shalt thou know ever. There cometh one to follow thee: he shall expound it.” – Book of the Law, II:75-76.

II) Therefore, “listen” to the numbers and the words. Written phonetically, they appear as follows:
f o̅ r  s ı̆ k s  t h r e̅  a̅ t  a̅  b e̅  k a̅  t u̅
f o̅ r  a̅  ĕ l  j e̅  ĕ m  o̅  ă r  t h r e̅  w ı̅  ĕ k s  t w ĕ n t e̅
f o̅ r  a̅ t e̅  n ı̅ n  ă r  p e̅  ĕ s  t e̅  o̅  v e̅  a̅  ĕ l

III) Of course, the above rendering does nothing to increase our understanding of this cryptic passage, but if the phonetic spelling is written backwards, we have the key to the whole problem. (cf. “Paste the sheets from right to left and from top to bottom: then behold! There is a splendour in my name hidden and glorious, as the sun of midnight is ever the son.”) It will be seen that the letter F indicates “finis,” the end of a line. Amazingly, we discover what appears to be a three line poem, the meaning of which will soon become apparent.

l  ĕ  a̅  e̅  v  o̅  e̅  t  s  ĕ  e̅  p  r  ă  n  ı̅  n  e̅  t  a̅  r  o̅         F
e̅  t  n  ĕ  w  t  s  k  ĕ  ı̅  w  e̅  r  th  r  ă  o̅  m  ĕ  e̅  j  l  ĕ  a̅  r  o̅         F
u̅  t  a̅  k  e̅  b  a̅  t  a̅  e̅  r  th  s  k  ı̆  s  r  o̅         F

IV) Immediately we begin to recognize familiar Thelemic terms and names of deities:

l  ĕ  a̅  e̅  v  o̅  e̅  t  s  ĕ  e̅  p  RA  NINE  e̅  TARO
e̅  t  NUIT  SKY  EARTH  RA  o̅  m  ĕ  e̅  j  l  ĕ  a̅  r  o̅
u̅  t  a̅  KEY  b  a̅  t  a̅  EARTH’S  KISS  r  o̅

V) We can now begin to fill in the remainder of the verse, using the words we have already decoded as clues:

EAT  NUIT  SKY  EARTH  RA,  O  MAGE  l  ĕ  a̅  r  o̅

VI) The word “laro” at the end of the second line is a cryptogram and in fact, equals 301 by Gematria. This number has definite Qabalistic significance as the number of the Book of the Law itself is 31. This will be explained later in this essay.

As for the code, “s ĕ e̅ p r a,” I have substituted “SebRa,” for this combination of Egyptian deities fits in with the remainder of the Poem (viz. Nuit Sky EARTH RA and the syllable RO). Experimentation with “SeptRa” yielded some interesting finds, but was obviously out of harmony with the rest of the Poem.

NINE E TARO is the ninth Atu, the Hermit, and his letter is י, Yod (Yod = 10, the number of Malkuth, the sphere of Earth). The name SebRa offers a perfect description of this deity. It also fits in with two other formulae of mine, Abrax and Akarma, all three adding up to 263.

The last RO or SRO remained a mystery for two years, but I had always thought that it should be ZERO, that being the only word I could find which had any significance to Thelema and still approximated the sound required. But ZERO did not constitute a definite Key (to the rituals, presumably). It was only with the writing of the Book of Oz that the answer was given to me. In the last verse of part one, the word MARVEL was given as a code, and transcribing it as מארול, MARVL, by the Hebrew Qabalah, I discovered that it was equivalent to the number 277, represented in Hebrew by the word זרע, ZRO, – sperm. Here, emphatically, was the Key to the Mysteries!

If ZRO is rewritten as ZARO, the Poem is made absolutely perfect. Not only do all three lines rhyme, but there are then Nine syllables in each, Nine being the Key to the whole verse. 9 × 3 = 27, which stands for the Hebrew word חידה, ChIDH, Chida, “riddle.”

The amounts of letters in each line are 24, 26, and 28 respectively, all three being numerical equivalents of the line’s meaning. 24 is אזבוגה, AZBVGH, a Mercurial God, and the first line is concerned with the extraction of the alchemical Mercury by means of Sex Magick (chap. 1). 26 is the number of יהוה, YHVH, and line two offers a new interpretation of the elemental energies represented by this Name of God (chap. 4). 28 is the number of כח, KCh, Power, and the last line of the Poem is especially descriptive of a very secret type of Magick, also represented by the syllable OOH (chap. 5). Each of these numbers, in turn, correlate to the final words of the Poem’s lines, TARO, LARO, and ZARO.

The sum of all the letters in the poem is 78, the number of AIWASS by the Hebrew Qabalah, the Minister of Hoor-pa-Kraat and the author of the Book of Perfection (which consists of the Book of the Law, the Book of Codes, and the Book of Oz). By adding the three Fs at the end of the lines, we get 81, the square of 9, which is an exceptionally important number in the unveiling of this coded message.

Here, then is the final product:



 James Beck

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Book of the Law, III:73-74. This is a description of Atu IX, Hermit.
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Not to be confused with Crowley’s work of the same title.
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