As most of those who are familiar with me know, I have a distinct interest in folklore, particularly folklore pertaining to monsters or shapeshifting (And my beloved werewolves fit both!) However, a lot of the time, I find something, and then have to set it on the back burner until I have the time to do something with it.
Such was the case when I first stumbled across the ROLOR Square while researching a similar magical square for lycanthropic purposes. Created by a fifteenth-century magician, the ROLOR square is said to allow its user to fly through the air like a crow, or in the form of a crow. In Medieval times, backwards words were thought to increase the value of magical phrases, which may be why some of the magical words are presented both backwards and forwards. The name Rolor may come from the Hebrew word ‘Rol,’ which means to move hurriedly.
I hope that little jaunt into corvanthropy was entertaining at least, and I hope that your Friday the 13th is going well, dear reader!
The Book of Abramelin: A New Translation By Abraham Von Worms, Georg Dehn (The original translation was by Abraham ben Simeon, S. L. Mathers-MacGregor)
Mystical Arts by Time Life books
Binding Words: Textual Amulets in the Middle Ages by Don C. Skemer
The Magical Arts by Richard Cavendish
One thoughtful watcher was musing, trying to unriddle the square, trying to see if he could find English root words in the square. A clever endeavor! I had this to say in reply, and thought I'd share:
Perhaps they're derived from other languages than English, such as Hebrew, or Latin. There are numerous possibilities!
However, most of the magic squares I have encountered are unlike this one in that they're numerical, not alphabetical. You can see how they're constructed not by the sounds they make when read aloud, but through simple mathematical functions, something that transcends language. There's a logic to their construction that most today simply do not have the patience for.
Alphabetical ones like this one, however, can't necessarily be substantiated through simple arithmetic.
...Or, perhaps they can. If the letters are actually code for numbers, then, perhaps, some of the 'words' here have no lingual derivation at all, but are math problems hidden in sound. Or, the words themselves are based in language to give them meaning, but modified through math, to give them structure.
And math, when you get down to it, is the language of the universe. Perhaps... that's part of the magic, I suppose.
That you for this lovely image! As a Birder, Wildlife Manger, Artist, Druid and Ornithovoyante, I work closely with Corvids. I had not heard of the Sator-Rotas and Rolor squares until this morning. My research was prompted by an unexpected eye to eye encounter with a pair of Common Ravens, who flew past my second story window this morning. In contemplating the meaning of this encounter (beyond being a very cool birding gift!), I stumbled across the Rolor square. Immediately I thought of incorporating it into my work and art. And that led me to this Deviation. Such a delightfully synchronous discovery!