The name Adonai (אדני – Aleph Daleth Nun Yod, ADNI) is a traditional Hebrew name of the One Being most often translated as ‘Lord’. A more accurate rendition may be ‘Ruling Power’ since whilst the root meaning of the name implies ‘ruling’, the name itself has only by tradition been associated with the masculine. Also it has only been associated with divine rulership and would not be used to describe a Lord from the House of Lords. Like the name Elohim ( אלהים), also translated as ‘God’ in most versions of the Bible, ADNI is actually a plural name, the singular forming being ADN. This fact caught the attention of Christian translators of the Qabalistic texts during the Renaissance. To them it pointed to the truth of the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity, though there is nothing pointing to a trinity, only plurality, within the etymology of the name.
Within the Cabbalistic and Judaic traditions the name ADNI holds a unique place. In Judaism the ineffable name of the One Being, YHVH is never pronounced. Often, as the sacred texts are read, the name ADNI is substituted for the YHVH. Sometimes the word ‘ha-Shem’ (literally ‘the name) is used. The belief here, stemming from at least the time of the writing of the Talmud, is that the sacredness inherent within the pronunciation of the true name of the One, YHVH, should not be invoked casually, lightly or without deep preparation. This belief has led to the further belief and myth that correct pronunciation of YHVH will destroy the world. From a Western esoteric perspective this refers to the balancing of the four elemental principles within ourselves, symbolised by the four letters of YHVH, bringing about the influx of the divine spirit in the form of the letter Shin ש. This then makes the name YHShVH or Jesus, and when we are able to balance and be open to these spiritual blessings then our personal ‘world’ will have been destroyed.
Within the ancient Jewish scriptures the name YHVH had written underneath it the vowel sounds or dagishs from the name ADNI. This was to remind the reader not to pronounce the name YHVH, but use ADNI instead. It is reported that during a 16th century translation of the old Testament into Latin, the translator accidentally wrote out YHVH / JHVH with the vowel sounds of ADNI and came up with JeHoVaH, and the name Jehovah was created as the name of God.
Adonai Upon the Tree of Life
Within Western Qabalah the name ADNI is also unique. Drawing from the view of traditional Judaic practice, the name is not only (as all divine names are) a gateway to communion with an aspect of the One Being, but it also represents the One Being It/Him/Herself. It can therefore be referred to Kether upon the Tree of Life. In addition the name, since at least the 17th century Gold and Rosy Cross Order, has been used within the Western traditions to refer to the Higher Self or Higher and Divine Genius. The name can thus also be said to refer to Tiphareth. The name, via its traditional usage and roots also refers to the Earth and physical, solid existence. It thus refers also to the Sephira of Malkuth, leaving the single Sephira of Yesod on the middle pillar of the Tree not associated with the name.
The absence of ADNI within Yesod shows the need for us to use the immense powers and blessings of our subconscious in the service of God. Yesod is not attributed to ADNI within the normal Tree of the ‘natural man’ (using GD terms) since he has not surrendered to God (Kether), and united his higher will (Tiphareth) with his daily life (Malkuth) to sacrifice his personal instincts of Yesod to the higher. But by doing so, ADNI may be present within our Yesodic spheres.
We may then utilise the name to direct and channel the blessings of the complete astral world in our service to God. This is done by using the name as prefix to the name of the blessings and currents we wish to utilize. For example we would call upon ADNI Chesed, if we wish to connect with the blessings and powers of the Sephira of Chesed. The use of the prefix, when we have connected with the name, helps to bring forth the power of Briah (Kether of Yetzira) into the Yetziratic astral realm where we conduct our magic and work. This would ensure the correct use and balance of the work and the realm of Yesod.
Numeration of Adonai
The numeration of the name ADNI is 65. As Israel Regardie points out in his introduction to the Golden Dawn, within the GD tradition this number is significant in that it is equivalent to the roman numerals L(50), V(5) and X(10) and LVX is Latin for light and associated with the Adeptus Minor grade and the Sephira of Tiphareth. The number 65 also reduces to 11 (6+5), the number of the Neophyte, who is in the Sphere of Malkuth. The number eleven is also the two pillars through which we are all continually approaching the Hidden Wisdom.
Using the traditional Cabbalistic approach of Gematria (words with the same numeration having a mystical connection with each other), the name ADNI (65) has connections with the words Hekel meaning ‘temple’, Has meaning ‘to keep silent’ and Dumiah Quietness or silence. The traditional Gematric approach would be to use thought and meditative practices to come to an understanding of the connection between words of the same numerical value. In the cases cited here it is quite easy and logical. The power and blessings of ADNI can be found in the temple and through a process of inner silence and quietude. However other Hebraic words having the value of 65 include: Awachem (מ=40) meaning ‘weasels’; Mezwazah meaning ‘a door post’ and Makhah meaning ‘a beating’. Since there is no logical connection between the meanings of these names, the Qabalist would meditate over and over upon the connection until his mind expanded beyond the logical universe. Such practices add to our own connection to a divine name and help to ensure its blessings may move through us when we call upon the name.
As described in the Zelator grade when the letters Aleph, Daleth, Nun and Yod are spelt out in full, the numeration of ADNI is 671 (A -;ALP 1+30+80 = 111. D – DLTh; 4+30+400 = 434. N – NWN ; 50+6+50 = 106. I – DWI; 10+6+4 = 20. 111+434+106+20 = 67). This has connections with Thraa which means ‘the gate’ which is a title of Malkuth and refers to the physical universe being the gateway to God, Eden and Death.
One of the traditional approaches to sacred writings and divine names within the middle eastern mystical traditions is a process known in Judaism as Midrash (it has an equivalent in the Islamic tradition, ‘Tawil’). A person using personal Midrash approaches a sacred text or a divine name not as static collection of words or letters on paper, but rather as a living and alive source of the inspiration and blessings of God. They seek the inner meaning of the text through contemplation, meditation and musing as much as translation. The essence of the exercise is to seek what the text or name has to ‘say’ or impart for the present, in this world at this time, rather than trying to understand the literal meaning as recorded and pinned down centuries ago.
When someone practices Midrash they look at the text from many angles and seek the non-linear connections and themes the richness of sacred language allows. We have done just this already, giving starting off points for our Midrash on ADNI. Rather than a name of God meaning simply ‘Lord’ we can now begin to form a relationship with the name based on its many interconnecting themes of Unity, higher consciousness, light, the divine within the earth etc. However one of the keys to Midrash and other similar practices is the many leveled meanings of the letters of the divine names themselves. Within the Semitic languages each letter not only represents a sound but also a number, something within the material world and a spiritual resonance or force. For example, the letter Aleph represents the ‘a’ sound, the number one, an Ox and also the pure primal force of the manifesting universe. To be honest the assigned ‘spiritual’ power of the letter can vary a bit from one source to the next and are probably a result of a personal Midrash at some point being codified as ‘the truth’. However most spiritual meanings bear close connection to the ‘literal’ meaning of the letter – the physical power of the Ox, which ensured civilization and survival, being, I believe, the source of the Golden Dawn’s understanding of Aleph as the sign of power and strength.
If we look at the meaning of the letters of the name ADNI from this viewpoint we have an ox, a door, a fish and a hand. Even with these stark symbols, we have another approach to the mysteries of ADNI. If we add some of the more accepted spiritual impulses behind the letters we have:
- Aleph,the pure primal force of the manifesting universe; stability and unity.
- Daleth, abundance from division; nurturance, the female breast, the source of the physical universe.
- Nun, reflected existence; offspring, fruit; loss of self in reproduction; contemplation of the self.
- Yod, the hand in action; creation; the flame; creative and phallic power; gift of life.
For those of us working with the Tarot, the Golden Dawn tarot correspondences to the letters can also prove a source of insight through meditation: the Fool, the Empress, Death and the Hermit. Similarly we can look at the Paths on the Tree of Life: the 11th between Kether and Chokmah; the 14th between Chokmah and Binah; the 26th between Tiphareth and Hod; and the 20th between Chesed and Tiphareth.
All of these ideas are simply seeds to help our own individual approach to ADNI. There is much more within the name and the blessings it represents to us that these notes suggest. From the very little I have read I am sure study of the Hebrew roots of the name will yield much. As with anything magical and spiritual it is practice that will make ADNI mean something other than these words on this paper.