CRAIG CONLEY (Prof. Oddfellow) is recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation.” He has been called a “language fanatic” by Page Six gossip columnist Cindy Adams, a “cult hero” by Publisher’s Weekly, a “monk for the modern age” by George Parker, and “a true Renaissance man of the modern era, diving headfirst into comprehensive, open-minded study of realms obscured or merely obscure” by Clint Marsh. An eccentric scholar, Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size. Conley’s website is OneLetterWords.com.
Egyptian ideograms, our Latin alphabet, and essential secrets of the self
While reading The Egyptian Secrets In Your Name, I began to realize that the secrets in letters of my name, as in every other symbol set I encounter, are to be found within me. They remain occult only to the extent that they're unexplored and the best way to reveal the personal meaning communicated by any symbol is to make a conscious decision to allow the unconscious to operate freely. Even the most 'common' name becomes unique when you view the letters as images, allowing your own intuition to connect with their latent significance.
Our intuition speaks to us through a kind of psychic poetry. Each individual is an author in this regard. As Craig Conely demonstrates using the method he's devised, an ancient symbology can be as relevant to us today as it was to to those for whom it was designed. A person's name is a private stanza of truth about the essential self. This book helped me to see mine, showing me how to look for Egyptian ideograms evoked by our Latin alphabet and engage with their energy. —Natasha at Amazon
The quest to decode the individual letters in a name goes way, way back. Our research triggered a realization that every name encodes an ancient Egypitan poem. As the original publication of our findings is freshly out of print, and as it was originally intended exclusively for professional magicians and mentalists, we were inspired to offer a revised and expanded edition containing twice the number of example readings, so that anyone can perform the technique for friends. No memory or guesswork is required. You’ll understand the hidden Egyptian meaning of your name instantly, and you’ll be able to dramatically interpret friends’ names. You don’t have to be a poet or expert on symbolism to shine with our technique. You’ll simply say aloud what you secretly know the letters to mean. Here are the details.
We're honored that Rolf Maurer called our Dictionary of One-Letter Words "magisterial." In celebration, we made this illustration of a crown opening like a seed, its uppermost gem growing like a branch. There are implanted shoots, like an ornate N and V, which might grow together to form an M. Is the M for "magisterial"? It's not for us to analyze our own work.
"Superb! I have been initiated into the feline mysteries. I hear my name called and let it wash over me, pause, and recede like waves crashing against the cliffs. Unmovable. 10/10 would buy again." —Will at Amazon
Whoever you are, Will, and whatever name you don't answer to, enjoy your nine lives!
We're honored that Vegas magician Creed talked up our Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound and our Magic Words: A Dictionary. We actually once attended a secret fire ceremony deep in the Nevada desert with Creed and, no kidding, we witnessed him reach out and seize one of the zillion stars in the Milky Way. (You sure can see a stunning number of stars from way beyond the lights of Vegas. Surely the Universe won't begrudge Creed's snatching one. It was a moment we'll never forget.)
In the style of Yahoo!answers, "Does it mean anything if a guy remembers that you collaborated on a book?" Yes—it means a lot! We were delighted to receive a Jinx mascot pin in the mail, from a friend with whom we wrote a guide to the most remarkable magazine in stage magic's history: The JINX Companion. Thanks for making our day, Gordon!
"I enjoyed 'Astragalomancy' very much. To me, it's a classic template for approaching divination. Craig Conley chose a tool (a pair of dice) that's easy to obtain and use, and he devised an elegantly simple system for employing it to precipitate intuitive insights. This system is informed by Mr. Conley's vast historical and metaphysical knowledge base, his epistemological point of view, and his expectations for the process, but as with every occult methodology properly applied, it will change in the hands of each individual practitioner. Anyone should be able to use the tool and the system to access their own intuitive faculties -- provided they are willing to relax and trust those faculties. To 'divine successfully is to transcend conscious thought and arrive at a personally relevant interpretations. 'Astragalomancy' illustrates, both figuratively and literally, how that can be done." —Natasha
"When the power of a focused, analytical mind combines with a resolute, independent spirit and a kind heart, the results are virtually guaranteed to be magical. 'The Pencil Witch' is a case in point. I started reading this literally and figuratively charming book with the understanding that it would be a simple grimoire of practical magic, which it is. From the very first pages it's also a lot more. Professor Oddfellow took me on a metaphorical exploration of metaphysical principles, but with such whimsy that I was never consciously aware of being educated even as I was entertained. The individual concepts covered are ingenious and fascinating in and of themselves, but what I loved most about the book was the way it's prompted me to revisit my understanding of the relationship between mind and matter. The Pencil Witch has given rise to a series of lively discussions about metaphysics inside my brain. Five stars." —Natasha, on Amazon
We're honored that Bobby Bræger (screenwriter, genealogist, lost film hunter, and hauntologist on the cheap) considers the fractued mirror of our Abecedarian blog on Tumblr to be "one of five or six vital blogs" on that medium.
We're delighted that Clint of Fiddler's Green zine said over on Instagram that he smiles every time he sees our video about strange anagrams from alphabet dice. We're also delighted that the editor of Yogurt Culture Zine, Brian Kelly Denton, called our video "wholesome."
I'm sorry, but you have to laugh: an Amazon reviewer named Marilyn W. Barclay rated our One-Letter Words: A Dictionarywith 3 stars because it was "interesting but not what I expected." It's a dictionary of one-letter words. That's what it's called, and that's what's in it: definitions of one-letter words. But somehow it's the book's fault that it's not what she expected? She ends her review, "interesting just not useful for Scrabble." Hey, tell it to Scrabble, not us. We didn't write the rules. Meanwhile, we rate Marilyn W. Barclay's review zero stars. Oh, maybe she was in fact looking for our dictionary that is, indeed, great for winning at Scrabble: Webster's Dictionary of Improbable Words: All-Consonant and All-Vowel Words.
I never gave much thought to one-letter words until I discovered they have their own dictionary. I bought a copy of the dictionary and read in its preface the claim that despite there being only 26 letters in the English alphabet, they represent more than 1,000 units of meaning.
One-letter words are important building blocks of communication. Learning them is easy and so is spelling them, but you shouldn’t underestimate their value. Many of the most important English words are small, and these little words are relatively few in number. But they occur very often in our speech, writing, and reading. A mere ten words account for 25 percent of all the words we use, and all of them have only one syllable. Fifty words account for 50 percent of all the words in our speech, and they also have only one syllable.
Furthermore, two of the top six words we use in speech and writing have only a single letter:aandI. Ais the third most frequently occurring word in the English language. Iis the sixth most common.
One of our favorites isX, which claims more than seventy definitions on its own. Xmarks the spot where treasure is buried on a pirate’s map. It’s a hobo symbol meaning handouts are available. Xtells you where to sign your name on a contract or will, and it’s also an illiterate person’s signature. Xindicates a choice on a ballot, and a mysterious person may be named Madame X. It also marks an incorrect answer on a test, and is the rating for an adult movie. This list could go on for quite a while, but I’ll stop with the designation of a kiss at the end of a love letter.
Craig Conley, the author of the dictionary of one-letter words, confesses that he wrote the first entry in his dictionary in a fit of procrastination while a graduate student spending many hours a day in the library working on his thesis. He was intrigued by all the enormous dictionaries on the shelves, and on a whim he started looking up entries for the 26 letters of the alphabet. He jotted down a variety of tidbits, and those notes became the basis for his dictionary.
For example, remember the expression, “Mind your p’s and q’s” as a comment on behavior. As a English teacher I am familiar with Hawthorne’s story entitled “The Scarlet Letter,” about a woman condemned to wear an A (for the crime of adultery) embroidered on her breast. Here’s his description in the first chapter: “On the breast of her gown, in red cloth, surrounded with elaborate embroidery and flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A.”
The letter Q has a special meaning in the field of Biblical criticism, when it refers to material common to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke that is not derived from the Gospel of Mark. R is used in the expression “the three R’s (reading, writing, and arithmetic).” It also designates a movie rating prohibiting attendance by anyone under seventeen not accompanied by a parent or guardian.
In school the letter S is used as a grade rating a student’s performance as satisfactory. T can be used to describe a way of doing something perfectly: “We could manage this matter to a T.” T-bone refers to a thick loin steak containing a T-shaped bone. Until 1827, convicted thieves in England were often branded on the thumb with a T.
The term U-boat referred to a military submarine. V stands for the Roman numeral for five; with a line over it, it signifies five thousand. Z is almost universally recognized as a symbol for sleep, as in “It’s going to be a long night’s vigil, so if you want to catch some z’s work it out with your buddies.”
Clearly, one-letter words are numerous and important enough to deserve their own dictionary. You’ll find Craig Conley’sOne-Letter Words: A Dictionaryon sale at Amazon.