Home Forums Thelema Thelema What does “BABALON” have to do with “Thelema”?

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    Thank you very much for pointing it out, devl93! Indeed it is, and it is identical to the Enochian word for “wicked.” That footnote on page 5 really misled me, but they got it right on the next page.


    So he did spell it in Enochian, and he must have made the association of the name with the word in Dee’s work.


    William Thirteen

    very nice. So would that mean that the first appearance of ‘Babalonu’ (in Enochian) was in the 1904 Goetia? Tracing Her development is a fascinating exercise.




    It would seem to be, at least in print. I assume that there is precedent GD material spelling it like that, as pronounced, and in Enochian.

    Here is an example from the 1904 Goetia:

    Nothing particularly striking about its use, nor would it seem to have suggested a connection with Babylon (which Dee and Kelly undoubtedly had, via the Roman Catholic Church as the Whore of Babylon).

    That said, I think Crowley, and others who used Enochian, must have had at least an unconscious recognition of the similarity.

    But I don’t think Crowley reasoned consciously like this, for example:

    “The Scarlet Woman is the Whore of Babylon.
    The Scarlet Woman works the work of wickedness.
    Wickedness is wicked.
    “Wicked” is babalonu in Enochian.
    Babylon in the Bible is the symbol of wickedness.
    Babalonu is spelled BABALON in Enochian characters.
    The Beast is Hadit.
    The Scarlet Woman is Nuit.
    Nuit has a secret name.
    The secret name is another name for the Scarlet Woman.
    Another name for the Scarlet Woman is the Whore of Babylon in the Bible.
    The Whore of Babylon is wickedness personified.
    Wicked(ness) in Enochian is BABALON.
    Therefore, the secret name of Nuit is Babalon.”

    I don’t believe he worked that way, even unconsciously. It seems straightforward in the Vision and the Voice how he came to the name Babalon.

    Morevover, in Enochian the word for “harlot” is BABALOND, pronounced “babalonuda”, and this word is more appropriate than the adjective “wicked”. It is also much more removed from the simple spelling Babalon.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 4 days ago by  belmurru.


    I would still like to know the gematria of Enochian. AC himself would not have been unaware of it, if there is one. And why else use Enochian here? Is it that he wants to make a connection with some “wicked” aspect of Babalon (more wicked than usual, anyway), since this working is for a male lover, one that looks like Herbert Charles Jerome Pollitt?

    But I can’t seem to find a reliable source for number values for the Enochian characters, either GD or Crowley – anyone?

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 4 days ago by  belmurru.


    In a general search I found that our own Michael Staley has anticipated some of what we are discussing, here –


    “Until reaching the Twelfth Aethyr, which is a vision of the Charioteer, Crowley had retained the Biblical spelling. Towards the end of the vision, a new, more appropriate spelling flashed forth into Crowley’s awareness – BABALON, the City of the Fifty Gates, the Gate of the Sun-God ON. By gematria this revised form gives 156, a more significant number. The Fifty Gates is a reference to the Hebrew letter Nun, which Crowley considered glyphed both Death and the female principle. In a commentary note to this Aethyr, Crowley wrote: “Note that the death or love of the saints is really increased life. The formula of 156 is constant copulation or samadhi on everything“. This parallels Spare’s insight of “all things fornicating all the time“. The associations of sex with death are myriad.”

    This is broadly correct, but slightly more complicated. In the first printed editions of The Vision and the Voice, in The Equinox I,v; 1952 (eds. Karl Germer, Phyllis Seckler, Thelema Publishing); and 1972 (Israel Regardie, Sangreal), the passage in the 12th Aethyr reads “the City of the Fifty Gates, the Gate of the God ON [באבאלען],” while the manuscript reads “the City of the Fifty Gates, the Gate of the God ON [Aiyin aiyin nun nun].”

    (bottom of page 9 of notebook III of the Vision and the Voice)

    That is, it is not the entire name Babalon that is spelled out in the text at the time of dictation, but only the name ON. This was the “inspired” etymology, that led Crowley, some time after the 12th Aethyr, to write out the full name on the back of the page facing this one:

    The back of page 8 of notebook III, of the 12th Aethyr, facing page 9 with the explanation or etymology of the name Babylon.

    This is the note with what must be the first spelling as “באב אל ען”. To this is added
    The Unity of Kether
    HVA AChD “
    “For He is manifested in Her, blessed be She!”
    “Also 156 is the number of letters in a Watchtower.”

    Since the working of this Aethyr finished at 01:20 on December the 5th, and since on this day for the 11th Aethyr, which finished at 11:35 p.m., Neuburg is still writing “Babylon,” which remained uncorrected by Crowley, I would guess that this back-of-the-page entry for the spelling of “באב אל ען” was done on the morning (before or after sleeping) of December the 6th, before the beginning of the working of the 10th Aethyr, begun at 2 p.m. that day. Crowley closed the 10th Aethyr by writing “BABALON” with his ring (perhaps in the sand), and thereafter Neuburg consistently writes Babalon in the manuscript.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  belmurru.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  belmurru.


    Good correspondences and finds. thanks guys 🙂



    I think the wonderful thing is being able to see how he came to the name.

    The Vision told him Babylon meant the “Gate of the God ON,” which he knew already or spelled immediately as Ayin-Nun, thus 120, thus the Key of the Vault of the Adepts (in the 5=6 ritual), etc. (see Equinox I,iii, pp. 210-211, and 228-229 for the symbolism of 120 in the 5=6). ON doesn’t get much press, but he is identified as the Sun in Liber Samekh, section G, under AD-ON-AI, and of course in the Gnostic Mass, during the Consecration of the Elements, as “the Sun that travelleth over the Heavens in his name ON.

    Babylon as the “Gate of God” had been around since cuneiform was deciphered about 60 years earlier, and was actually a folk-etymology as well for Babylon. So Crowley knew it, somewhere in his brain. From her appearance in the vision, he knew she was important, and it was crucial to get the meaning of the name right, and the spelling.

    Thus when he was given “Gate of the God ON”, he had the key to the puzzle, with the spelling Ayin-Nun, and the spelling Aleph-Lamed for God, all he had to do was spell the BAB part right.

    In the manuscript, you can see he spelled it, at the very top in Latin letters, beginning “BAA” “AL” “ON”, and crossed it out. It must have flashed before him when he got BAB as 5, added to 151 immediately, to produce 156, and thus to 12×13 for Unity, and therefore the key to defeating the dispersion of Choronzon. He knew he had it then, and used it at the end of the 10th Aethyr.

    The key meaning, or power, of Babalon then is this Unity, and it is the equation of 156 = 12×13 that convinced him that it was the right spelling.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  belmurru.

    William Thirteen

    Wonderful work @belmurru




    Wonderful work @belmurru

    Thanks. I’m actually pretty chuffed, it’s good to have a clear sense of how things come to be, and it’s always nice to read the texts again, ever more closely. I hope it is useful to others, as well.

    I think with the “BAA AL ON” crossed-out scribble, we can conclusively say that the Enochian word had no bearing on the choice of spelling Babalon. It was an inspired etymology for Babylon and Hebrew gematria that gave him the solution.

    ON as Ayin Nun suggests further reflections on the spelling of N.O.X. (Nun, Ayin, Tzaddi = 210), which is a more complicated thread to trace. I’ve got a 4,000 word essay on it, and it is not finished. Interested?



    How do you make a response with the format “@williamthirteen”?


    William Thirteen


    the formatting should be automatic – as long as you don’t surround it in quotes 😉

    probably one also needs the carriage return afterwards….




    Ah, great! I tried that before, and seem to remember that it came out as just text, not a hot link. But now it does. Go figure. Thanks!

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by  belmurru.
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