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Nashoba-Hostina's avatar



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.

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FaeByNature's avatar

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!

Fascinating bit of lore and a really nice illustration.  Any chance of using it as a print?
Nashoba-Hostina's avatar
Thanks so much! I may offer it as a print sometime!
You're welcome.  I hope to see it.
ArcanusGreywolf's avatar
Now where have I seen this before... ah yes, of course.
Sacred Magick of Abramelin the Mage, as translated by Mathers in the late Victorian period. This stuff would eventually be incorporated into the Golden Dawn, Crowley and eventually trickle down into modern day neopaganism.
There are many such squares in this book. After looking in my copy, and google, I see this one appears in Book III, Chapter 17 "To Fly in the Air and Travel Any Whither". Other squares are given for such abilities as to "Excite Tempests" (Chapter 8), "Know the Secrets of Any Person" (Chapter 12) or even "To Open Any Kind of Lock" (Chapter 26). But I think most here will enjoy the 9th Chapter...

"To Transform Animals Into Men and Men Into Animals" :D
The 6th square from that chapter is specifically for wolves.

Here's the link to the online version of the book:

Yes, I am a wizard (in the Oberon Zell-Ravenheart sense of the word). Why do you ask? ;)

Great art as always. Love it. And I know a certain "Corvus" would love this.
Nashoba-Hostina's avatar

I’ve seen Mathers’s translation, and it’s very interesting. I do admit, though, that I rarely expect any magician to give up all of his secrets, so, I do try to approach it and similar sources with a wary eye.  However, I am still going through Dehn’s translation, which my local library has only recently acquired for me.  Life is busy so it’s going to be slow going, I’m afraid.  Once I finish, I’ll update the sources to reflect which translation I wish to use and they will no longer be ‘selected sources.’ It’s so nice to have more than one English translation of a book I’m reading!  However, at the moment, I think I personally prefer Dehn’s translation.   We’ll see!

The Diseebeh square is indeed the square I was referring to in the artist’s comments.  That’s kinda how I came across the Rolor Square while researching a more  lycanthropic one.  *Shrug*

I didn’t ask, but it’s good to know. ;)

Thank you very much, and I hope your ‘Corvus’ friend enjoys the art.

Akai-Azul's avatar
You know...maybe they aren't letters at all, but symbols in and of themselves. Because they're similar, if not identical to what we use to refer to as letters, there's confusion in their interpretation. Maybe it needs to be shown to an non English speaker or turns to its side or upside down.

Heck, maybe they are numbers, counted by the number of lines required to make each symbol.
R = 4 lines
O = 1 line (or zero, since it's not a line)
L = 2
A = 3
B = 5
F = 3
V = 2


Or maybe

Nashoba-Hostina's avatar
That's an interesting way to look at it!
somerandomplayer's avatar
*cheers for my subject area: math*
Nashoba-Hostina's avatar
Is it bad that I really loathe doing math, even though I am in awe of what it can be used to do?
somerandomplayer's avatar
Sounds like being in the audience of a magician. You enjoy the act, but you wouldn't want to be involved in it.
Antaria-Nova's avatar
If the sky wouldn't have been all covered in clouds I would probably have had a nice full moon to look at while cycling back from work yesterday. :P
Nashoba-Hostina's avatar
Oh well, hopefully next full moon will be better!
Antaria-Nova's avatar
Hope-FULL-y(-moon). :P
Diretooth's avatar
I wonder what a lycanthropic square would look like.
Nashoba-Hostina's avatar
I'll be creating an illustration for that when I can manage the time, actually!
SageKorppi's avatar
Nashoba-Hostina's avatar
Wolfsjal's avatar
Lovely little crow. :3  <3  Happy full moon on friday the thirteenth day!
Nashoba-Hostina's avatar
Thank you!  And to you as well, hon!
MasterWolf99's avatar
No more Friday the 13th for me -_-
WHERE CAN I GET ONE OF THESE????? It would be pretty amazon escaping one day through you're window in the middle of the night as a crow and flying around. At least for a night
Nashoba-Hostina's avatar
Agreed... though, I might prefer to escape in the day, since crows, I believe, are largely diurnal.
Perhaps unless you want people to freak out and some shoot you since they might see a GIANT crow flying around
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