Albatross

(שש Redfield page 465, booklet Thoth page 126.)

Just a little slip-up here; the French word albâtre translates to the English alabaster, not albatross. (Albatross is just albatros in French.) Calm and harmonious like an albatross – I think not.


So the passage might read:
שש SHSH The whole concept of proportion, moderation and harmony.
The number six [pronounced sis שש in French – a real Venusian feel here]. Anything in a harmonious context, such as the colour white. Hence by extension alabaster, the lily, linen, old age: anything possessed of a cool, calm contentment. See שוש

Convertible

See Knot

Cult

The French word culte means worship; the act of worshiping. So did the English word cult in Redfield’s time. It does not refer to any kind of religious group, far less a crazed band of fanatics trying to brainwash our children.

Dictionnaire de l'Académie française, 5th Edition (1798): “L'honneur qu'on rend à Dieu par des actes de Religion” – “The honour that is paid to God by religious acts”

So, on page 12, “the Runic poetry preserved in the Edda... are all that remains to us really authentic pertaining to the cult of the ancient Druids” meaning the Druid way of honouring the Divine and does not imply that the Druids constituted a cult in the modern sense. And, on page 9 of Part 2, “the Judaic cult and its two derivatives the Christian and Islamic” certainly does not suggest that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are cults as we might use the term today – just forms of worship.

Depth

See Foundation / fondement

Develop

Whenever Uncle Antoine writes “develop” in French, Redfield translates correctly as “develop” in 1918 English. But that is misleading in modern English; back then, “develop” meant the opposite of “envelop”. The current sense of “to grow into a fuller, higher or maturer condition” was beginning to take hold but the old sense and, more importantly, the old French sense, was “To unveil; to unfold; to disclose” or possibly “To bring forth from a latent or elementary condition” (SOED). In short, wherever we see “develop” or “development” we should think “unveil” or “unveiling”. Or perhaps unfoldment.

Every idea of...

“Every idea of...” crops up a lot in the root vocabulary section of HTR. This is Redfield’s translation of “tout idée de...”. Well, “tout” can mean “every”, “idée” can mean “idea” and “de” can mean “of” – so what’s wrong with that?

What’s wrong is that the ground covered by “tout” is not the same as the ground covered by “every”; the fields of meaning overlap but they aren’t the same, and we’re digging at the wrong end of the field. Both words contain the core concept of “all” but the English word “every” blends over into “each” and carries a sense of trying to corral a herd of individuals, to bring together all distinct items within a category, every one of them. It expresses essential plurality within a bounded context. On the other hand, the 1810 French word “tout” blends the opposite way and carries a sense of wholeness, completeness and unity. This is so if it is teth-vov-teth and even more obviously so if, as I prefer, it is thoth-vov-thoth. And in spades doubled considering the circularity of the characters along with the same-start-and-end-character thing that I sort of know but can’t explain.

Anyhow, if Great Grand Father Fabre had written “Toutes les idées de...” (“Toutes” plural and “idées” plural) or perhaps “chaque idée de...” (each and every idea of...) then “Every idea of...” would work fine for me. But he didn’t. He chose “tout” singular and “idée” singular.

So “Every idea of...” should read “The whole concept of...”. Well most of the time anyway.

In fact I would go further and say it really means “The whole meta-concept of...”

Fabre’s English

You may have noticed that, in the multi-lingual Cosmogony section, the French and English translations of a verse will often differ in their meanings.

Great Grand Father Fabre was by all accounts a gifted polyglot. He was born in Ganges in Languedoc, the land where the people said “oc” for “yes” rather than the “langue d’Oil” of northern France where they said “oui” instead. So his mother tongue would probably have been Occitan (the langue d’Oc). Although French would have been his second language, he would have been bilingual from a very young age because he came from an educated, middle class family and French was the educated language of the nation as a whole – much like those born in North Wales being brought up Welsh/English bilingual today. In fact he wrote a book « La Langue d’Oc Rétablie », and he collected Occitan poetry as a hobby.

So English was at best his third language and, given his deep understanding of Latin, Greek, Hebraic, Arabic, Chaldean, and many others, we could argue that English was possibly his umpteenth language. Thus we should hardly be surprised if his own English versions (which Redfield has left unchanged) have a different flavour from his French ones. Or perhaps he was in full command of the English language and was deliberately using it to give a different feeling from the French in order to add insights into the Hebraic.
Either way, it is good to read both the English and the French versions to get a broader view of Great Grand Father Fabre’s perception of the symbolic interpretation. Doesn’t help much with the hieroglyphic one though 

Just an afterthought – our man was born plain Antoine Fabre. He affected the noble sounding d’Olivet part later in life, this being his mother’s maiden name, if memory serves. (Fabre of Olivet – similar in noble atmosphere to Montagu of Beaulieu etc.) Although during the revolution, of which he was a keen supporter, he retreated temporarily to the more prudent “Citoyen Fabre-Olivet” and ensured that his head remained firmly attached to his body.

Foundation / fondement

(שת Redfield page 465, booklet Thoth page 126)
שת

The depth, the foundations, literally as well as figuratively, the place where the sea is gathered; the sea itself; that which concerns the movement of water, the separation of this fluid into drops, its distillation, dispersion, every kind of beverage. It designates in general the bottom or the foundation of things, the seat. First in בראשית Gen. i, 1.

It isn’t just the word foundation that bothers me but also the fact that the paragraph as a whole has lost Fabre’s multi-faceted feeling. Whereas Redfield starts the depths, the foundations, Fabre starts Le fond, le fondement.

Le fond means the deep, not unlike the deep that the “compressive and hardening law of nature” is “upon the face of” in Genesis 1:2. And yes, le fondement can mean foundation (but not the foundations) as in a lump of concrete under a house, but that is very much a subordinate meaning – the French word for the lump of concrete is fondation. Fondement means foundation as in the act of founding something; the foundation of a new order, for example. It can also refer to the concepts that form the primary basis underlying an endeavour or a system of understanding – its founding principles. Finally, it can mean the bottom; either in the sense of the base of something or in the sense of bum, buttocks or anus – yes, it can indeed mean the orifice through which digested or perhaps transmuted stuff is pushed. So the symbolic implications here are so diverse and fascinating that Fabre has to bring us back to earth and remind us that the physical is also a possibility by saying “physically as well as figuratively”.

Curiously, I have only just noticed that the first occurrence in the Sepher is the astonishing בראשית. I therefore hesitate to offer anything at all on the subject prior to the relevant classes. Yet all I am doing is translating – I must be bold and insist that, in the spirit of considering no field of study beneath our consideration, some very small aspect of this concept might actually be a divine excretion – Beraeshit.

To corroborate the evidence of the old dictionaries regarding fondement, Fabre is kind enough to give us his own explanation of the suffix –ment as a part of his example etymology of emplacement in chapter 3 (page 99 in Redfield). Thus we see that the kind of foundation described by the French fondement is the way that the deep is understood, or the way that the deep appears or manifests itself externally.

Of course fond is the same word as fund – a deep resource from which we may draw at will, or into which we may contribute, if the two are separable.

Whilst we are in the area, Fabre uses the word onde, which means wave and, by extension, the sea. So Redfield is not entirely wrong to refer to “the sea” in this paragraph but we should also bear in mind that, on this occasion, Fabre deliberately avoids the usual word for the sea – mer – with all its maternal connotations, and instead prefers a word with the flavour of waves and vibration. For, here, Chonos is consuming his vibrational children, Osiris/Arthur is about to weigh and the useful will be pre-served as fertiliser.

“Le lieu où se réunit l’onde” – se réunir is also much more than gathering. It is a spontaneous reunion, a reconciliation, a flowing together and recombining; almost a homecoming. Part of the influence of Thoth. Ooh – I just wrote influence, flowing in.

Frankly I find this paragraph almost impossible to express as a translation rather than a paraphrase but here goes:

שת The deep, the fundamental, foundation, physically as well as figuratively. The place where waves recombine; the waves themselves; that which concerns the movement of water, its division into drops, its distillation, its dispersion, any kind of drink. It designates in general the basis, the fundamental, the seat of things. First in בראשית Gen. i, 1.

Curiously, whereas Fabre usually gives his definitions in threes which are clearly intended as physical, symbolic and hieroglyphic respectively, this passage does not fit the pattern and we must do the legwork for ourselves. Is radiation similar to waves? The surface moves, boils, divides, vaporises and radiates out forming one side of the cycle and we know that, in the subsequent condensation, Io will drink of a purer nectar, whether this aeon is the lifetime of a galaxy, a human or a nanosecond.

Geology

(Redfield pages 272, 273 and 305)

Geology means roughly the same as the French géologie so the translation seems to be correct on the face of it. However the word géologie doesn’t make it into the French dictionaries until 1872, long after Fabre was dead, and it doesn’t appear in the official Dictionary of the French Academy until 1932. Dictionaries can lag behind common usage but it seems that géologie was either a trendy new word in Fabre’s time or something of a coined technical term. My guess is that trendy wasn’t high on Fabre’s agenda, although he does cite some up-to-date references.

So I think we can safely assume that Great Grandfather Fabre, the student of Pythagoras and Plato, intended us to read geo-logy as meaning the logos of the earth, the Platonic form or Saturnian spirit and potentiality of Gaia. What is certain is that he couldn’t possibly have been referring to bearded academics with little pointed hammers.

For what it is worth, the 1872 dictionary that firsts lists géologie gives its etymology as “From the Greek, earth and doctrine”.

Knot

Well, since it occurred to me on the solstice evening I will say a little about “knot”.

Yes, “knot” translates well into the French word nœud, however this French word of Fabre’s also covers the English word node; they are clearly derived from the same concept anyway. So Redfield’s “knot” should perhaps read “node” in the sense that something approaches, touches and links to another, and “knot” in the sense that the link can sometimes be durable and binding. It is a meeting point of the essentially distinct, a nexus, almost a border crossing. And, as Fabre himself points out, “knot” and “node” are the same word as “naught” – isn’t that sublime?

Redfield sometimes writes of the knot which unites and sometimes of the knot which binds. Both “unites” and “binds” are translations of Fabre’s verbs “lier” or “réunir” to tie, link or unite. “Lier” definitely blends over into the realm of joining things together as a wholeness or even blending them together; it is used of the bond with a blood relation, it is used religiously of our relationship with the eternal (“Ce que vous aurez lié sur la terre, sera aussi lié dans le ciel”). It is even used to describe the act of bringing ingredients together in a pan to make a thickened sauce. As another context, “Lier” is, I guess pretty obviously, the immediate source of our borrowed word “liaison”.

“Réunir” is even stronger on the idea of unity but also carries the wonderful idea of bringing back together something that was once whole in the first place but which has since been cast asunder. So bind is a good translation but a little on the fixed and inflexible side, unite is better and reunite is frequently best. I find myself thinking of the toiling in sadness of him who once was throned in heaven's height, leading at last to the Conquest.

I should perhaps limit this by adding that the united concepts still retain their inherent distinctions – it is not at all like the assimilation of caph.

Whilst we’re in the wonderful and mind-expanding land of vov, “convertible” isn’t too bad either but it is really a bit more like “interchangeable” – almost like changing between a train and an aeroplane or converting dollars into gold. Invertible, reciprocal, transmutable etc. are also in there to an extent. But, as mentioned, “convertible” isn’t too bad.

Modification

Modification – a tricky one to explain in words.

Modification refers to a particular mode of something, a specific aspect or facet of it, and definitely not to changing or modifying its essential nature in the modern sense. So, for example, the divine mystery force can be viewed as having three modes or thee aspects, which Fabre would refer to correctly as “modifications” in 1810 French and which Redfield would describe misleadingly as “modifications” in English. This mystery can be viewed from three different angles and therefore seen in three different modes – we have mode-ified it – but the unity is unchanged and certainly not modified, in the modern sense, by us viewing it in a particular way.

So, in the Fabre sense, modifications of a car would be ways of viewing it, such as “it’s just a comfortable way of getting to my destination”, or “I view it as a status symbol”, or “to me, it’s an essential tool for my job”. Putting on a turbo-charger, however, is not a modification in this sense – it is an alteration.

According to the Dictionnaire de L'Académie française – 5th edition 1798, it is “... un terme didactique, qui signifie, Une manière d'être d'une substance. Les corps sont susceptibles de différentes modifications. Les sensations sont des modifications de l'âme.” (which roughly translates as: a technical term which means a substance’s way of being. The body is capable of taking on various modes. Sensations are aspects of the soul.) Of course ‘Substance’ is not necessarily physical at this time – Swedenborg’s “simple substance” for example.

Sometimes the word appears to be used in its modern sense. For example a sign can modify a root or a word, which is just how we would express it today. Yet this too can be seen as the sign showing us a different mode of the root or word; not modifying in the sense of changing its essential nature but instead highlighting a different mode or aspect of its operation that was always there in its essence but which deserves our particular attention in this context. So the infinitive “to jump” contains everything there is about jumping; modifying it into a past tense “jumped” doesn’t change it, it merely draws out attention to its past tense mode that was there all along in the infinitive.

Of course a musical mode is also just a different view of the same seven notes, but one that gives us a whole new experience of them. But that’s for another time...

Movement

Movement, in 1710 French, generally means mental, emotional, psychic or spiritual movement in preference to physical movement unless explicitly specified otherwise. It is still like this in French to this day – émouvoir means to move emotionally, to disturb, upset, worry or rouse to indignation. In fact, to translate “move” into French in a physical sense one would often have to think of other words entirely, such as “bouger” or “remuer” or perhaps just “aller”.

Will is a species of movement. The will of an individual is a movement of the Self which can become specific and occasion some sort of action, physical or otherwise. Divine Will is a higher and more generic movement, of which we might perceive one aspect as being the laws of nature – physics and metaphysics.

While we’re at it, Redfield’s “proper” generally has to do with ownership and apPROPRiateness. So it frequently means relating to PROPERty, which is often physical. “Movement proper” is therefore movement that is appropriate to whatever is moving, which commonly boils down to physical movement, although the ambiguity is often good fun.

Navel

Well navel is the correct translation as far as I know, so why has this word popped up as requiring attention?

Clearly an umbilicus emits and pro-duces (channels forward) sustenance that has come from elsewhere – it doesn’t generate, it just conducts. It isn’t a permanent fixture but it sustains us until we develop into self sufficiency. I suppose a field is similar in this respect – the French word is actually a bit bigger than a field, more like a rural region, but the sense is similar. For what it is worth, campagne (Fabre’s word for field), could also refer to the season that the army was out in the field – spring + summer + autumn. And I suppose the navel is close to the martial Manipura chakra – no idea if this is relevant.

So what is it that I have to say? Nothing! I have to assume that I must therefore ask you. What do we need to understand about Fabre’s navel?

Power

Great grandfather Fabre uses two words that Redfield translates as power; pouvoir and puissance.

Pouvoir, as a verb, means to be able to..., to have the potential to do something. So, for example, “I can swim” translates to “je peux nager”, I am able to swim. This ability is held as a potentiality – I am probably not swimming right now but, if I find myself in the water, I could swim just fine. The noun pouvoir stands for that ability, that property of being able to do something if the occasion calls for it but not for the action of doing it right now.

In English, we seem to have gone down the usual road and materialised this; we would probably say that a motor rated at two kilowatts has this power only when it is running but Fabre would expect us to believe that it has this power all the time, because power is potentiality. My Mum used to sing “Good king Wenceslas looked out all in his mighty power, all the neighbours looked out too to see what all the row were.” Fabre’s power would make no noise at all because it is just the potentiality that precedes the noisy bit. So whereas power is theoretically a correct translation of pouvoir, we should experiment with substituting potential and, if it makes sense in the context, use that instead.

What about puissance? On paper it seems to mean the same thing. However the subjunctive forms of pouvoir are all stemmed from puiss- (je puisse, tu puisses, il puisse etc.). The subjunctive mood adds a layer of hypotheticallity, of what-iffery, for example “if I were you”. Now it isn’t likely that I will be you in the foreseeable future so the whole sentence is a mile high into a cloud of maybe. I suspect that puissance is an even more latent form of potentiality, for which power is therefore an even dodgier translation – although I can’t find a shred of evidence for this. Feel free to disagree but you’ll have my pendulum to argue with. 

Fabre uses puissance more frequently than pouvoir, particularly in the root vocabulary and notably under א, י and ל. I chuckled at ל : “la puissance qui dérive de l'élévation” – potential energy, as above so below.

Power also relates to authority – both authorship and true kingship, Arthurity.

Primitive

Primitive contains none of the pejorative baggage of modern usage, no hint of knuckle dragging, not the slightest suggestion of savagery. It simply refers to the primary occurrence of something, the original source from which all later examples derive. There might even be a suggestion of something fresh and as yet untainted. Primary or original would frequently be better translations.

A couple of examples from the Dictionnaire de l'Académie française, 5th Edition (1798):

  • L'innocence primitive is the original, pure state of the soul, before “sin”
  • Les Couleurs primitives are the primary colours, from which all others are created

Proper

See Movement