The Elder Sign and its Occult Associations in Arab Magic

“The Elder Sign is sometimes confused with the Pnakotic Pentagram and the swastika-like Sign of the Old Ones.  However, the actual Elder Sign is a symbol which is often compared to a tree or tree-branch, and consists of a central line with three lines branching off to the left and two lines branching off to the right:


This symbol seems to be all but completely unknown to Western occultists.  However, it is easily recognizable as a relatively common symbol in Arabic magical traditions.  It appears to be one of the 28 graphemes attributed to the first century Turkish physician Diagoridos (سوديروقسيد).  The symbol became more popular in Arab occult traditions in the mid-9th century because of its inclusion in the text Shuq al Mastaham Fi Ma’arifat Rumuz al Aqlaam by Ibn Wahshiyya (ةيشحو نبا). Wahshiyya is famous for his contributions to the Arabic grimoire known in the West as Picatrix, which he made via his text Kitab al Falaha al Nabatiyya.  He is likewise famous for his decipherment of many Egyptian heiroglyphics centuries before a similar breakthrough occurred in the West.

Below is a summary of the esoteric associations of the Elder Sign based on the writings of Wahshiyya, and supplemented with additional material, primarily from Ibn ‘Arabi (يبرع نبا).  Hopefully, this might provide some insight into the significance and use of this symbol within Arab magical traditions, and perhaps by extension, the magick of the Cthulhu mythos:

The name of the sign is “Zai” (ياز)
It is a Solar Grapheme [huruf ash-shams (سمشلا فورح)]
Its numeric value is 7 (٧)
It is associated with the 19th lunar mansion [manzil (لزنم)] which is called “The Sting” [ash-shaula (ء(وشلا)]
Its zodiacal sign is Scorpio [burj al ‘aqrab (برقعلا جرب)]
The divine name associated with this sign is “The Living One” [al Hayy (يحلا)]
Terrestrially it is associated with the element Water and celestially it is associated with the element of Air.”

– Ryan Parker, The ‘Elder Sign’ and its Occult Associations in Arab Magic


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