Been trying to learn all the information in 0=0 ritual, using Regardie’s “The Golden Dawn” book (pgs 117-133). Specifically, I want to understand the 3 chief officers: Hierophant, Hiereus, and the Hegemon and I’m going to do this by first looking at what I am informed is the significance of the names. The names are of merit because they all begin with H – which presents “life; because the Letter H is our mode of representing the Greek aspirate or breathing, and Breath is the evidence of life.” (pg 118)
I know wikipedia is not a particularly reliable source, but here it is:
Eta (uppercase Η, lowercase η; Ancient Greek: ἦτα Greek pronunciation: [êːtaː] or Modern Greek: ήτα Greek pronunciation: [ˈita]) is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet. Originally denoting a consonant /h/, its sound value in the classical Attic dialect of Ancient Greek was a long vowel [ɛː], raised to [i] in hellenistic Greek, a process known as iotacism.
In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 8. It was derived from the Phoenician letter heth Phoenician heth.svg. Letters that arose from eta include the Latin H and the Cyrillic letter И. (1)
Heta is a conventional name for the historical Greek alphabet letter Eta (Η) and several of its variants, when used in their original function of denoting the consonant /h/. (2)
Trying to find out more about this, I learned some things about ancient Greek. Specifically, that “Every word that begins with a vowel will have a breathing mark above the initial vowel (or vowel sound).” (3)
So if these Greek names are pronounced, the Eta would have a little mark in front of it. If the mark looks like a reverse comma, this a “rough breathing mark” and denotes than an initial “h” sound is to be pronounced. If the mark goes the other way, like a comma, then there is NO “h” sound. Kind of like listening to a British national saying “‘orse” and an American saying “horse”. This sound differential is why the Standard English Rules of Grammar call for an “AN” before any word beginning with a vowel or the letter H: because in some English dialects, the H is silent so “an ‘orse” makes complete sense, but for those dialects that pronounce the breathy “h” then “an horse” sounds completely stupid.
Bear in mind, this breathing mark is for EVERY word that beings with a vowel — not just the Eta. So the eta in the middle of a word does not necessarily have the H sound, and an Iota at the beginning of a word might or might not be pronounced with an H sound depending on the breathing mark.
Anyway, the very hhhhhuhhh sound belonging to the H (or ἡ) can definitely be associated with breathing. I know that for astrology (a largely Greek system), the time of birth is actually marked as “when you first drew breath”. If an infant died before it ever drew breath, it was never really alive in that world-view.
So I get the H association with breath. Got it. Why Greek? Why throw in a reference to Greek at all? The wording does not say “because the Greek letter H represents…”, no. They say the letter H – our regular letter H from the modern alphabet – “is OUR mode of representing the Greek aspirate or breathing”. What is the Greek aspirate? Why is the Greek reference important rather than just “representing the aspirate or breathing”?
Attempting to find this answer is where I came across the breathing mark references. In fact, …
“During the Hellenistic period (3rd century BC), Aristophanes of Byzantium introduced the breathings — marks of aspiration … and the accents” (4)
I think indeed calling out “representing the Greek aspirate or breathing” is indeed a reference to the breathing marks and an indicator that the hhhhuhhhh sound is what is being sought, since an H is not necessarily an H as I pointed above in the ‘orse/horse comparison.
Alrighty. I think I beat that one to death.
About the Featured Image: included in a post entitled “Your Breath of Life” by Lisa Gawles. I’m not sure if she was the creator of this or just used it, but this is where I got it from.