The website Sartrix has a post that came to my attention recently. The post is about letter oracles, a type of ancient divination. Martiana, the blog author and a recent contributor to an article on this site, translates two letter oracles. One is from ancient Asia Minor, and the other is from a medieval Latin text. Upon seeing the translation of the second text, I immediately wanted to share the information with readers, who might not get a chance to see the post on the Sartrix site. The Royal Alphabet is a medieval letter oracle that can be done using a modern book like the Bible or a psalter, or a volume of the Book of Psalms. The important thing is that a letter is selected, and choosing the letter using a book is only one way to do this. The Royal Alphabet is from “Mantic Alphabets in Medieval Western Manuscripts and Early Printed Books” by László Sándor Chardonnens, which appeared in Modern Philology. In her post, Martiana briefly discusses how to do the Royal Alphabet oracle. “In the medieval text, the consultation of the psalter is preceded by singing a psalm before an altar….” she writes. In this post, it is briefly explained how to do the Royal Alphabet oracle. Afterwards, the translated text is given, so it can be referenced by anyone who wishes to use it in divination.
The Royal Alphabet Oracle Divination, in Three Steps
Step 1: A space should be chosen, notably an altar or sacred space. The materials for a ritual should be prepared. A psalter should be obtained. Then, the space should be purified.
Step 2: The diviner should perform a ritual, and it should be done in the manner of their religious or spiritual tradition. Because the oracle comes from a Christian text, it is most appropriate if the ritual is performed in a Christian way. During the ritual, prayers and hymns should be performed. Note that the text doesn’t mandate the ritual, but given that it says that it is important to do some form of holy act so that “God may manifest what you ask,” this is not an extraneous or irrelevant step. After the ritual is over, a Psalm book is opened and a psalm is sung. It can be any psalm from the book. After the psalm is sung, the book is closed.
Step 3: Now, the question for the divination is written on a sheet of paper or in a notebook. The framing of the question should have been determined prior to the entire divinatory process. The question is then asked aloud. Some lines of dialogue, with a model question, are included below.
“Almighty God, I ask for your favor and aid in answering this question. The question is ‘Will I marry this year?’ I will open this psalter for an answer. Please guide me with your divine wisdom.”
The diviner pauses and thinks about the question for a minute. He or she then picks up the psalm book, finds a page and opens it. The first letter on the page is observed. The letter could be any letter of the alphabet. The letter is the answer to the divinatory question. The letter is written down on the sheet of paper, and then the Royal Alphabet translation is looked at, to find the corresponding answer for the letter. The space is cleaned up and the book is put away. The diviner analyzes the answer, if its meaning is not immediately apparent.
It should be kept in mind that this is just a model and the steps can be modified to fit one’s religious or spiritual practice. Also, the ritual is optional, and the method of selecting the letter, though a rule of this particular oracle, can be adapted to include other books such as the Bible, the Iliad, and so forth. However, changing the method of letter selection and the Christian context, including the singing of a psalm, would entail substantial changes. Part of the appeal of using ancient oracles is that they are ancient and traditional. If the diviner were to make such changes, there is no reason not to change the text that corresponds to the letters and to call the oracle by another name entirely. In other words, if the oracle is adapted to the extent that there is no singing of holy songs, the text the letters are chosen from is not Christian, and the method of selecting letters comes from dice or stones, it becomes another oracle, for the most part. If I were to change the Royal Alphabet to a Hellenic spiritual perspective, I would use a physical copy of the Iliad but include the singing of Hellenic hymns. Though the Iliad would be used instead of a psalter, there would still be singing to go along with the oracle’s letters and corresponding text, which would go unchanged.
A Translation of the Royal Alphabet3 by Martiana(Sartrix)
If you should wish to know about any matter, you will be able to know in the following manner. First sing some psalm before the first step of an altar, so that God may manifest what you ask. Then, after opening the psalter, clearly understand what you ask in the following manner, using the first letter in it.
- A signifies life or power.
- B signifies power among the people.
- C signifies the death of a man.
- D signifies disturbance or death.
- E signifies joy or gladness.
- F signifies noble blood.
- G signifies the murder of someone.
- H signifies the murder or death of a woman.
- I signifies good life.
- K signifies vain strife.
- L signifies joy or honor.
- M signifies moderate fraud.
- N signifies a renewed visit.
- O signifies power of life.
- P signifies complete health.
- Q signifies life and surety.
- R signifies being restored again or wounded.
- S signifies health of the soul.
- T signifies anger or change.
- V signifies death.
- X signifies meeting a parent.
- Y signifies whatever you should wish to be said to you.
- Z signifies money or increase
This article is adapted from a post on the Sartrix website.
- Sartrix, “Letter Oracle,” Last accessed at February 16, 2022. <https://sartrix.miraheze.org/wiki/Letter_Oracle#Greek_letter_oracle_from_Olympus_in_Lycia_%28TAM_II_947%29>
- Chardonnens, László Sándor, “Mantic Alphabets in Medieval Western Manuscripts and Early Printed Books”, in: Modern Philology 110.3 (February 2013), pp. 340—366, here p. 343.
- Note, that according to Sartrix, here is the original Latin text. “Incorporating the emendations proposed there, it runs as follow:
- Si de aliqua re scire volueris hoc modo scire poteris. Canta inprimis aliquem psalmum ad primum altaris gradum. ut deus manifestet quod queris. Postea aperto psalterio in eo tibi per primam litteram aperte cognosce hoc modo quod queris.
- A significat vitam vel potestatem.
- B significat potestatem in populo.
- C significat mortem viri.
- D significat conturbationem vel mortem.
- E significat leticiam vel gaudium.
- F significat nobilem sanguinem.
- G significat unius occisionem.
- H significat femine occisionem vel mortem.
- I significat bonam vitam.
- K significat inanem litem.
- L significat leticiam vel honorem.
- M significat mediocrem dolum.
- N significat revisitationem.
- O significat potestatem vite.
- P significat omnem salutem.
- Q significat vitam et cautelam.
- R significat rursum restitutum vel vulneratum.
- S significat animi salutem.
- T significat iracundiam vel mutationem.
- V significat mortem.
- X significat parentis obviationem.
- Y significat quicquid volueris dicitur tibi.
- Z significat pecuniam vel augment”
- Sartrix. “Letter Oracle.” Last accessed at February 16, 2022. <https://sartrix.miraheze.org/wiki/Letter_Oracle#Greek_letter_oracle_from_Olympus_in_Lycia_%28TAM_II_947%29>
- László Sándor Chardonnens. “Mantic Alphabets in Medieval Western Manuscripts and Early Printed Books”. in: Modern Philology 110.3. February 2013. pp. 340—366, here p. 343.
- An open book on a table with a lit candle.Photo by Midjourney. Prompt: an old book from the 15th century on a tan colored table. Username: @david.k9
- An old book rests on a table. Photo by Midjourney.Prompt: an old book from the 15th century on a tan colored table. Username: @david.k9
David has studied traditional astrology since 2014. The Bay Area native completed Chris Brennan’s Introduction to Hellenistic Astrology course, and attended courses taught by Austin Coppock, Nina Gryphon, and Ryhan Butler. He is interested in exploring the less well known aspects of astrology, divination, and spirituality.