The Magical Mediterranean
Volume forty-one of this biannual journal focuses on the Mediterranean, a literal hub of the ancient magical world. It features a collection of recent academic articles on the topic, including Baqi Elazar's anthology of Proto-Canaanite meanings, and an exclusive article by Venita Wessex on the process of discovering Phoenician's heretofore unknown magical uses.
A Compendium of Proto-Canaanite
A Compendium of Proto-Canaanite
Head Magiarchaeologist for Gringotts, Syrian Branch
Anthropological-based Journal of Ancient Discoveries, Volume XLV, March 2015, Pages 16–48
In the interest of brevity, this work will not include references to each of the archaeological finds from which this research is born. If the intrepid reader should wish to cross reference these claims, however, the article Catalogue of Syrian Finds, which details the various pieces found recently at Al-Mina, Halabiye, and Tell Halaf, will do quite nicely to corroborate the information here. This article is the abridged report of the last five years of magiarchaeological findings from the aforementioned sites and also takes into account previous studies.
Similar to the non-magical meaning of Fehu in the Elder Futhark of the ancient Norse peoples, ‘Aleph symbolizes “cattle” on a mundane level. However, rather than matching Fehu’s focus on wealth, ‘Aleph took a different track. Its meaning focuses more on the ideas of labor, strength, and beast of burden. This can be used to direct the purpose or intent of the spell and grant related attributes related to the idea, or can even direct the spell towards a certain target. There is some evidence that suggests ‘Aleph can be used to indicate human slaves as targets of the spell’s effects as well as actual cattle, but this is not as common.
With the mundane meaning of “house,” this glyph represents the idea of shelter, heritage, and even ownership. It has been seen in spells to both protect and curse a homestead as well as mundanely denote ownership of an artifact. There are some incomplete and degraded spells that also seem to have the purpose of creating shelter from the elements with this glyph.
With its two, completely unrelated purposes, interpreting the meaning of this glyph can be challenging for even the most seasoned researcher. Its meaning of “camel” seems to cover related topics such as travel and obstinacy, equally common in spells that revolve around voyages as well as stubborn, pesky enchantments that can’t be dissipated. There are those that believe that this rune can increase longevity of either spells or living things.
Less often, its meaning of “throw stick” is also drawn upon. In this sense, it most often encapsulates the idea of accuracy and aim.
This glyph also represents disparate meanings, the first of which is “door.” This symbol is also highly related to journeys and travel, though this is more often used in a magical or metaphysical context rather than a literal or physical one. Daleth has been found alongside Gimmel in a number of defunct inscriptions hypothesized to allow witches and wizards to travel quickly between two fixed points as a potential precursor to Apparition and portkeys. This combination is usually seen on lintels or archways.
Its meaning of “fish” is completely unrelated, though no less nuanced. In this sense, Daleth represents sustenance as well as plenty. This is one of the glyphs that seems to be the most tied to wealth.
Because of ancient civilizations’ difficulty in differentiating between magic and religion, this glyph is most commonly related with magic rituals despite the fact that its meaning is related to worship and praise. It is a rune of potency and can also represent divine knowledge, or simply knowledge in general, as the magic users were some of the most knowledgeable people in Canaanite society.
In magical applications, Waw has transcended its meanings of “hook” or “peg” and instead represents the idea of unification. This can be in the metaphorical sense of people coming together, peace treaties, and similar. More simply, it can also mean physical unification, exemplified by its use in spells to bind cattle, keep stones fixed together like mortar, or repair pottery against breaking.
This glyph, bearing the ideographic meaning of “obstacle” or “challenge” is often found in opposition to others. In these cases, it indicates the negation of the previous rune(s), or struggle against them. More simply, it is also used to protect an item or area, whether with Gimmel, or on its own.
Meaning “trough” originally, this glyph’s meaning expanded to include irrigation systems, which is the root of its ideographic meaning of invention and discovery. It was used to attempt to make tools and other objects as efficient as possible and reach their full potential.
Two separate ideographic meanings took root from Yodh’s original mundane meaning of “arm” or “hand.” The first is magic, hypothesized to be related to either wandless magic or perhaps the use of wooden staves as foci. Secondly, it also has some relation to violence and warfare, and has been found on many ancient weapons in an attempt to give potency, strength, or similar attributes.
While a similar part of the human anatomy, Kaph has a distinctly different meaning from Yodh. This symbol represents the ideas of generosity and offerings. It was often used in ritual sacrifices alongside Yodh or He, and occasionally sometimes with Waw in order to magically encourage cooperation between two kingdoms.
This symbol indicates the concepts of both guidance and mentorship. Thus, it can also be used in enchantments to help with apprenticeships and training, particularly when used alongside He or Res.
Water, this rune’s mundane meaning, is still essentially accurate when speaking of ideographic meanings. The main difference between the two is that it can also be used to indicate the delivery of water, the concept of digging underground, or rain. Along the same lines, as might be expected in Middle-Eastern desert cultures, this watery rune can also be considered a rune of life. It is often used alongside Heth
This rune’s most prevalent use ties in with the ideas of pestilence and poison, and was used on weapons or more insidiously on innocuous objects. One historical account notes how it was used alongside Mem in order to devastate a whole city and poison their water supply. There is also some evidence to indicate that it can be used to cause diseases, epidemics, and swarms (likely of poisonous creatures) if used in the right combinations.
There are many different purposes that this glyph fulfills. The first of these is to imply distance or separation, whether real or imagined. In this sense, ‘Ayin can be used to repel things, or potentially even creatures or beings. Separately, it is used to represent the mastery of various divinatory practices common to the region, and was therefore occasionally used non-magically to indicate the workplace of a master seer, or a guild of the same.
Life is heavily associated with rune, similar to Mem. However, to distinguish between the two, the idea of growth is more common in this case. It can be interpreted in terms of cities, kingdoms, persons, or other living things and can also encompass the spiritual and mental side of growth.
The symbol Qoph has always been a bit of a thorn in researchers’ sides. It is unclear whether it means animals in general, or specific species that all have some sort of similarity that has yet to be completely established or identified. Presently, the most common theory along this vein is that this rune indicates animals of greater prestige in ancient Canaan, or perhaps animals of greater intelligence, though this would potentially be based on ancient opinion.
As one might automatically assume from its mundane meaning and shape, this rune indicates knowledge. However, it also has meanings related to dreams and thoughts, and therefore has obvious divinatory uses, though specific.
Sin did not deviate much from its original mundane meaning of “tool,” and is often used in the context of extra power or support in a general sense. It can also be used alongside other runes to boost their effectiveness. It did not entirely lose its meaning of “bow” either, and when paired with Yodh, this can indicate weapons in general as well as aid in their effectiveness.
Scribes and their work are the most common meanings of this rune. Because of this, it was also used to denote both script and language, usually paired with He, especially in the context of magic. It can also, in more limited terms, indicate that scribes or something from their trade is the target of the spell.
As mentioned, these meanings have been derived from countless hours of careful study, anthropological reasoning, and historical research. However, this list is not necessarily exhaustive. It is the author’s hope that in the coming years, many more meanings may yet be uncovered.