THEOSOPHY, Vol. 58, No. 3, January, 1970
(Pages 83-87; Size: 15K)
(Number 27 of a 36-part series)



IN the Ophite gems of King (Gnostics), we find the name of Iao repeated, and often confounded with that of Ievo, while the latter simply represents one of the genii antagonistic to Abraxas. In order that these names may not be taken as identical with the name of the Jewish Jehovah we will at once explain this word. It seems to us surpassingly strange that so many learned archæologists should have so little insisted that there was more than one Jehovah, and disclaimed that the name originated with Moses. Iao is certainly a title of the Supreme Being, and belongs partially to the Ineffable Name; but it neither originated with nor was it the sole property of the Jews. Even if it had pleased Moses to bestow the name upon the titular "Spirit," the alleged protector and national deity of the "Chosen people of Israel," there is yet no possible reason why other nationalities should receive Him as the Highest and One-living God. But we deny the assumption altogether. Besides, there is the fact that Yaho or Iao was a "mystery name" from the beginning.... Anterior to [King David's] time, few or no proper names were compounded with iah or jah. It looks as though David, being a sojourner among the Tyrians and Philistines (II Samuel), brought thence the name of Jehovah. Neither David nor Solomon recognized either Moses or the law of Moses.

Says Fürst: "The very ancient name of God, Yâho, written in the Greek Iao, appears, apart from its derivation, to have been an old mystic name of the Supreme deity of the Shemites. (Hence it was told to Moses when initiated at HOR-EB -- the cave, under the direction of Jethro, the Kenite or Cainite priest of Midian.) In an old religion of the Chaldeans, whose remains are to be found amongst the Neo-platonists, the highest divinity enthroned above the seven heavens, representing the Spiritual Light-Principle (nous)(1) and also conceived as Demiurgus,(2) was called Iao, who was, like the Hebrew Yâho, mysterious and unmentionable, and whose name was communicated to the initiated. The Phœnicians had a Supreme God whose name was trilateral and secret, and he was Iao."

But while Fürst insists that the name has a Semitic origin, there are other scholars who trace it farther than he does, and look back beyond the classification of the Caucasians.

In Sanskrit we have Jah and Jaya, or Jaa and Ja-ga, and this throws light on the origin of the famous festival of the car of Jaganath, commonly called Jaggarnâth. Javhe means "he who is," and Dr. Spiegal traces even the Persian name of God, "Ahura," to the root ah, which in Sanskrit is pronounced as, to breathe, and asu, became, therefore, in time, synonymous with "Spirit." Rawlinson strongly supports the opinion of an Aryan or Vedic influence on the early Babylonian mythology. We have given the strongest possible proofs of the identity of Vishnu with Dag-on. The same may be adduced for the title of Iao, and its Sanskrit root traced in every country. JU or Jovis is the oldest Latin name for God. "As male he is Ju-piter, or Ju, the father, pitär being Sanskrit for father; as feminine, Ju-no or Ju, the comforter.

To grasp the real and primitive sense of the term IAO and the reason of its becoming the designation for the most mysterious of all deities, we must search for its origin in the figurative phraseology of all the primitive people. We must first of all go to the most ancient sources for our information. In one of the Books of Hermes, for instance, we find him saying that the number TEN is the mother of the soul, and that the life and light are therein united. For "the number 1 (one) is born from the spirit, and the number 10 (ten) from matter;" "the unity has made the TEN, the TEN the unity."

The kabalistic gemantria -- one of the methods for extracting the hidden meaning from letters, words, and sentences -- is arithmetical. It consists in applying to the letters of a word the sense they bear as numbers, in outward shape as well as in their individual sense. Moreover, by the Themura (another method used by the kabalists) any word could be made to yield its mystery out of its anagram. Thus, we find the author of Sepher Jezira saying, one or two centuries before our era: "ONE, the spirit of the Alahim of Lives." So again, in the oldest kabalistic diagrams, the ten Sephiroth are represented as wheels or circles, and Adam Kadmon, the primitive man, as an upright pillar. "Wheels and seraphim and the holy creatures" (chioth), says Rabbi Akiba. In another system of the same branch of the symbolical Kabala, called Athbach -- which arranges the letters of the alphabet by pairs in three rows -- all the couples in the first row bear the numerical value ten; and in the system of Simeon Ben-Shetah, the uppermost couple -- the most sacred of all, is preceded by the Pythagorean cipher, one and a nought, or zero -- 10.

If we can once appreciate the fact that, among all the peoples of the highest antiquity, the most natural conception of the First Cause manifesting itself in its creatures, and that to this they could not but ascribe the creation of all, was that of an androgyne deity; that the male principle was considered the vivifying invisible spirit, and the female, mother nature; we shall be enabled to understand how that mysterious cause came at first to be represented (in the picture-writings, perhaps) as the combination of the Alpha and Omega of numbers, a decimal, then as IAO, a trilateral name, containing in itself a deep allegory.

IAO, in such a case, would -- etymologically considered -- mean the "Breath of Life," generated or springing forth between an upright male and an egg-shaped female principle of nature; for, in Sanskrit, as means "to be," "to live or exist"; and originally it meant "to breathe." "From it," says Max Müller, "in its original sense of breathing, the Hindus formed 'asu,' breath, and 'asura,' the name of God, whether it meant the breathing one or the giver of breath." It certainly meant the latter. In Hebrew; "Ah" and "Iah" mean life. Cornelius Agrippa, in his treatise on the Preëminence of Woman, shows that "the word Eve suggests comparison with the mystic symbols of the kabalists, the name of the woman having affinity with the ineffable Tetragrammaton, the most sacred name of the divinity." Ancient names were always consonant with the things they represented. In relation to the mysterious name of the Deity in question, the hitherto inexplicable hint of the kabalists as to the efficacy of the letter H, "which Abram took away from his wife Sarah" and "put into the middle of his own name," becomes clear.

There is no other deity which affords such a variety of etymologies as Iaho, nor a name which can be so variously pronounced. It is only byassociating it with the Masoretic points that the later Rabbins succeeded in making Jehovah read "Adonaï" -- or Lord. Theodoret says that the Samaritans pronounced it Iabè (Yahva) and the Jews Yaho; which would make it as we have shown I-ah-O. Diodorus states that "among the Jews they relate that Moses called the God Iao." It is on the authority of the Bible itself, therefore, that we maintain that before his initiation by Jethro, his father-in-law, Moses had never known the word Iaho. The future Deity of the sons of Israel calls out from the burning bush and gives His name as "I am that I am," and specifies carefully that He is the "Lord God of the Hebrews" (Ex. 3:18), not of the other nations. Judging him by his own acts, throughout the Jewish records, we doubt whether Christ himself, had he appeared in the days of the Exodus, would have been welcomed by the irascible Sinaitic Deity. However, "The Lord God," who becomes, on His own confession, Jehovah only in the 6th chapter of Exodus (verse 3) finds his veracity put to a startling test in Genesis 22:14, in which revealed passage Abraham builds an altar to Jehovah-jireh.

It would seem, therefore, but natural to make a difference between the mystery-God Iao, adopted from the highest antiquity by all who participated in the esoteric knowledge of the priests, and his phonetic counterparts, whom we find treated with so little reverence by the Ophites and other Gnostics. Once having burdened themselves like the Azazel of the wilderness with the sins and iniquities of the Jewish nation, it now appears hard for the Christians to have to confess that those whom they thought fit to consider the "chosen people" of God -- their sole predecessors in monotheism -- were, till a very late period, as idolatrous and polytheistic as their neighbors. The shrewd Talmudists have escaped the accusation for long centuries by screening themselves behind the Masoretic invention. But, as in everything else, truth was at last brought to light. We know now that Ihoh must be read Iahoh and Iah, not Jehovah. Iah of the Hebrews is plainly the Iacchos (Bacchus) of the Mysteries; the God "from whom the liberation of souls was expected -- Dionysus, Iacchos, Iahoh, Iah." Aristotle then was right when he said: "Jon was Oromasdes and Ahriman Pluto, for the God of heaven, Ahura-mazda, rides on a chariot which the Horse of the Sun follows." And Dunlap quotes Psalm 68:4, which reads:

Praise him by his name Iach
Who rides upon the heavens, as on a horse,

and then shows that "the Arabs represented Iauk (Iach) by a horse. The Horse of the Sun (Dionysus)." Iah is a softening of Iach, "he explains." The Hebrews express the idea of LIFE both by a ch and an h; as chiach, to be, hiah, to be; Iach, God of Life, Iah, "I am."

How little the philosophy of the old secret doctrine was understood, is illustrated in the atrocious persecutions of the Templars by the Church, and in the accusation of their worshipping the Devil under the shape of the goat -- Baphomet! Without going into the old Masonic mysteries, there is not a Mason -- of those we mean who do know something -- but has an idea of the true relation that Baphomet bore to Azâzêl, the scapegoat of the wilderness, whose character and meaning are entirely perverted in the Christian translations. "This terrible and venerable name of God," says Lanci, librarian to the Vatican, "through the pen of biblical glossers, has been a devil, a mountain, a wilderness, and a he-goat." In Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopœdia, the author very correctly remarks that "this word should be divided into Azaz and El," for "it signifies God of Victory, but is here used in the sense of author of Death, in contrast to Jehovah, the author of Life; the latter received a dead goat as an offering." The Hindu Trinity is composed of three personages, which are convertible into one. The Trimurti is one, and in its abstraction indivisible, and yet we see a metaphysical division taking place from the first, and while Brahma, though collectively representing the three, remains behind the scenes, Vishnu is the Life-Giver, the Creator, and the Preserver, and Siva is the Destroyer, and the Death-giving deity. "Death to the Life-Giver, life to the Death-giver. The symbolical antithesis is grand and beautiful," says Gliddon. "Deus est Dœmon inversus" of the kabalists now becomes clear. It is but the intense and cruel desire to crush out the last vestige of the old philosophies by perverting their meaning, for fear that their own dogmas should not be rightly fathered on them, which impels the Catholic Church to carry on such a systematic persecution in regard to Gnostics, Kabalists, and even the comparatively innocent Masons.

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(3) NOTE.--"The Christian Scheme," begun in November, 1967, is collated from the works of H. P. Blavatsky. It recounts the historical background and early development of Christianity.
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(1) Nous, the designation given by Anaxagoras to the Supreme Deity, was taken from Egypt, where he was styled NOUT.
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(2) By very few though, for the creators of the material universe were always considered as subordinate deities to the Most High God.
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