image: Wikimedia commons (link).
The Bibles of antiquity have but one theme: the incarnation. The vast body of ancient Scripture discoursed on but one subject -- the descent of souls, units of deific Mind, sons of God, into fleshly bodies developed by natural evolution on planets such as ours, therein to undergo an experience by which their continued growth through the ranges and planes of expanding consciousness might be carried forward to ever higher grades of divine being.
-- Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Esoteric Structure of the Alphabet and Its Hidden Mystical Language. 20.
The world today is pausing to honor the life and work of Leonard Nimoy.
He is of course most closely associated with the character of Spock in the series Star Trek, a series which depicted travel across the stars but which was certainly no less concerned with the exploration of the human condition.
He is also inextricably connected with the concept and act of blessing.
Blessing can be accurately said to be an essential part of his identity, one with which he is universally identified and remembered.
The outpouring of response today to the news that Leonard Nimoy has sprung the bonds of earth to again be among the stars from which we all came has overwhelmingly referenced his blessing "Live long and prosper," which was delivered with his intrinsic dignity and sincerity and accompanied by the famous hand gesture which he introduced during the first season of Star Trek.
It is no secret that this hand gesture represents the Hebrew letter shin and that it has profound connection to the sacred act of blessing -- which has previously been argued within these pages to be the act of evoking the divine spirit which dwells in each being in the universe and indeed which infuses every aspect of the universe itself at all times and at every point.
Mr. Nimoy on many occasions related the story of the deep impression that the act of ritual blessing made upon him as a child, during which this hand gesture was extended as part of the invocation of the divine and the ceremony of blessing (see for example this video clip showing one such explanation he gave).
In seeking to understand more fully this benevolent or beneficent side of Leonard Nimoy -- this profound association with the act of blessing, which he connected to this particular hand gesture embodying this important letter shin and the expression "Live Long and Prosper" -- let us briefly explore just a few important aspects of this symbol.
In the relatively short treatise entitled The Esoteric Structure of the Alphabet and Its Hidden Mystical Language, Alvin Boyd Kuhn (1880 - 1963) says of alphabets that:
along with every other symbolic device of ancient meaning-form, even the alphabet embodied the central structure of all ancient literature, -- the incarnation, the baptism of the fire-soul in and under body-water. [. . .] The celestial fire emanated from primal source as one ray, but soon radiated out in triadic division, and finally reached the deepest heart of matter in a sevenfold segmentation. But in its first stage of emanation it was always pictured as triform. The YOD candle-flame being its type-form, the Hebrews constructed their letter which was to represent the fire-principle with three YODS at the top level, with lines extending downward to a base, on which all three met and were conjoined in one essence. This gives us the great fire-letter SH, shin, -- ש21-22.
Kuhn then demonstrates that this letter is used in the Hebrew word for fire itself, which is esh but which he asserts on a linguistic basis is also related to AeSH and ISH, with ish being the word for "man, who embodies this single, double and triple fire" (22). The word ash, he notes, is the byproduct of fire in English, but also the great tree of life Ygdrasil in Norse mythology, the very tree upon which Odin had to hang in order to obtain the symbolic technology of writing, as well as the tree from which mankind was originally fashioned, according to some expressions of Norse myth (the reader may remember that in the past we have addressed the fact that Kuhn, writing in the early part of the 20th century, often used the terms "man" and "mankind" but explicitly stated throughout his writings that what he said applies to both men and women, and that we should not assume that he intended to refer to "men" when he used the term "mankind").
Going further with the significance of the letter shin, Kuhn explains that the Hebrew word for the sun, shemesh, also embodies the concept of spirit-fire plunging down into incarnate water and then rising back to the realm of spirit:
As a globe of fire its nature would be expressed most fittingly by the letter shin (SH), with its threefold candle flame, the three YODS, above; the place of water into which it nightly descends would be indicated by M, and the place of its final return, the empyrean above, by SH again. So the word thus constituted would turn out to be SH-M-SH (shemesh); and this is just what it is. It is the old basic story of divine fire plunging down into water, the universal trope figure under which all operation of spirit in and upon matter was dramatized. 30.
From the foregoing discussion, we can begin to understand why extending one's arm and hand with the form of the Hebrew letter shin, representative of the divine threefold fire which is plunged down into incarnation, can be a gesture of blessing: it is a reminder not to forget the divine fire within, our origin among the empyrean of the stars -- the spirit plane -- and it is a blessing that seeks to elevate the invisible spirit in each of us and in all creation itself, along with all the positive aspects connected to our "higher nature" (the opposite of cursing, which seeks to put the spirit down, to degrade others and make them less in touch with spirit and more under the control of matter and the "lower nature").
Elaborating upon the same line of argument, Kuhn says:
As a symbol designed to depict the immersion of fiery spiritual units of consciousness in their actual baptism in the water of physical bodies, the letter form that dramatizes the actual event, and the letter sound that onomatapoetically mimics the sound of fire plunging into water, this alphabet character shin is certainly most eloquently suggestive. 34.
And here we can begin to draw our analysis back to the well-beloved character whom Leonard Nimoy brought so memorably to life and whose expressions of blessing have become so powerful to a world in such great need of blessing. For Mr. Spock, of course, was a Vulcan, from the planet Vulcan -- named expressly and explicitly for the god of fire: Vulcan, known to the Greeks as Hephaestos (and who, by the way, was not only the god of fire but was also cast down to earth at one point by Zeus).
Not likely. Perhaps a manifestation of the benevolent synchronicity operating within a conscious universe, but such a connection between the hand gesture now so inextricably associated with Mr. Spock and the planet for whom his very people are named can hardly be written off as meaningless.
And, we can go even further. For, as countless previous posts have explained, the concept of the plunge into incarnation was represented in ancient Egyptian myth by the casting down of the Djed column -- where the divine spark was submerged in matter, forgotten and hidden. A major part of our work in this incarnate life was seen to be the raising up of the Djed column, which is to say the remembrance of the divine fire, the reconnection and elevation of the spirit and the elevation of the "higher aspects and impulses" of our being -- in short, all the calling forth of benevolent spirit associated with the concept of blessing!
Now, one whole series of previous posts explored the fact that the ancient Egyptian Cross of Life, the ANKH, was absolutely symbolic of this idea of raising the Djed column, elevating the spirit, and blessing (and, in fact, ancient Ankhs were often depicted as incorporating the symbolism of the Djed column in their vertical pillar). See for example "Scarab, Ankh and Djed."
This same vitally-important symbolism of the raising of the Djed column can be seen operating in both the Old and New Testaments, in the symbol of the cross in the New Testament, for example, and of the lifting up of the brasen serpent by Moses upon a staff in the Old Testament.
Now, you may have caught the fact that the Ankh-Cross itself was a symbol of life, a symbol of the giving of life, and thus a powerful symbol of blessing. This connects directly to the words of blessing which Spock -- and Leonard Nimoy -- would pronounce and with which he is so closely connected: "Live long and prosper."
Two previous posts have explored at some length the amazing number of words which Alvin Boyd Kuhn believed could be linguistically and conceptually related to this powerful concept through the root sound of the ancient word Ankh -- see "The Name of the Ankh" and "The Name of the Ankh Continued: Kundalini around the world."
Now, what would happen if we combine the fire-symbol of the letter shin with the word Ankh itself? Alvin Boyd Kuhn has anticipated just such a question, and in fact he refers back to the earlier independent scholar Gerald Massey (1828 - 1907), who apparently also explored this avenue of thought:
Massey traces even the great name of mystery, the sphinx, from this ANKH stem, preceded by the demonstrative adjective P (this, the, that) and the starting S, thus: S-P-ANKH. Massey was well versed in the abstrusities of the hieroglyphics and his surmise on this is as good as that of others. The word thus composed would mean "the beginning of the process of linking spirit and matter," which indeed is the sphinx-riddle of the creation. The sphinx image does conjoin the head of man, spirit, with the body of the animal, lion, representing matter. It is precisely such values and realities that the sages of antiquity dealt with and in precisely this manner of subtle indirection. When will modern scholarship come to terms with this recognition! 38.
Now, this line of argument is most incredible, because in the above passage we practically have the name of Spock himself. Look at the term S-P-ANKH which Kuhn, following Massey, argues to be the linguistic and symbolic and esoteric origin of the word sphinx, and you will immediately perceive that if we emphasize the "velar fricative" sound of the KH (which became the voiceless velar fricative sound indicated by the letter "x" in the word sphinx) it will automatically de-emphasize the preceding sound of the "n" and give us rather directly the name of Spock!
Now, this is a rather incredible development, and the reader can be excused for exclaiming at this point that there is just no way that they were thinking of the esoteric origins of the word sphinx and S-P-ANKH when they came up with the character-name Spock!
And yet, we do not have to argue that "they" were thinking along these lines at all -- it might have been "the universe" that created this unbelievable synchronicity, independent of conscious human awareness, acting through creative human conduits.
But, it is most remarkable to note that one of the other extremely distinctive characteristics of Mr. Spock in the Star Trek series is his constant effort to present a dignified expression of calm, composed gravitas, almost never showing emotion and especially not grinning or laughing or smiling (except on very rare occasions): what can only be described as a most sphinx-like characteristic!
And so, we see that Leonard Nimoy and his blessing-speaking character Mr. Spock connect with us on a profound level, and impart to us wisdom which stretches back to a very ancient source.
When Mr. Nimoy held up his hand in that symbol of shin, he was blessing. He was silently saying (if I may paraphrase, or interpret the symbolic content discussed above): "You are divine fire -- you have an inner spark -- you, and everyone you meet, contain this spirit-fire submerged in water, so to speak, plunged into matter, but you must not forget where you come from -- you come in a real sense from the stars -- you come from the realm of spirit, and you can remember that and elevate that -- Blessings."
It is an expression of reminder, of recognition, of elevation of the spirit and consciousness, and of blessing which is very much analogous to the gesture and greeting contained in Namaste.
And now, Leonard Nimoy has crossed over this plunge into water, this crossing of the Red Sea which is symbolic of our incarnation in this body. He has left us with these benevolent and beneficent blessings and teachings, beautifully and elegantly expressed. And he goes to be among the stars, the realm the ancient wisdom teachings of the world depicted as the realm of the stars.
We can all agree that he will not find that journey to be one with which he is unfamiliar or for which he is unprepared.
Peace and blessings.