The Shemhamphorasch Angels


The 72 Names of God

Nope, I didn’t stutter. The Shemhamphorasch Angels (quite a mouthful) are 72 obscure angels associated with the Minor Arcana of the tarot. The word “Shemhamphorasch” itself actually means “the Divided Name”  – that name being Jehovah, the God represented by Tetragrammaton and spelled as LORD in English copies of the Bible.

Crowley explains it best, so I’ll leave it up to him.

There are three verses in Exodus (xiv, 19, 20, 21) each containing seventy-two letters. By writing down the first of these, and underneath this the next verse backwards, and under this again the last verse forwards, seventy-two columns of three letters each are obtained. These are read downwards, and the terminations AL or AH, according as they are male or female, appended.

Book of Thoth, pg. 43-44

So the names of the Shemhamphorasch Angels are derived from this passage in Exodus:

“And the angel of God who went before the camp of Israel moved and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And it was the cloud and the darkness, and the night without one coming near the other all night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.”

Book of Exodus

Crowley goes on to explain that they are also associated with the decans (the three sub-degrees of the zodiac signs) in the same way that the minor arcana are. So the two systems integrate nicely with each other, but he also informs us that they are, “quite useless to study.”

I, on the other hand, was still curious, so a couple of years ago I looked up some traditional meanings of the Shemhamphorasch Angels and compared them to their respective Minor Arcana. There are actually two Angels associated with each minor, one to govern the day and the other to govern the night.  Some of them were a little obtuse, but others were strikingly similar to the divinatory meanings of the cards. All of them generally reflect the energy of the card, or at least the general subject matter, and this can help us better understand the vibes behind each minor.

Not useless in my opinion!

Check them out for yourself!





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