Writing and magic have always been closely associated. The Egyptian God Thoth was thought to be the inventor of writing and the patron of every magical art. The considerable cultural contact and resulting overlap over the centuries because of conquest and trade between Egypt, Greece and Rome led to the deities Hermes and Mercury who shared many of the same attributes as Thoth before they all further blended together, creating the composite figure that was to later a immeasurable influence in the history of ideas, Hermes Trismegistus. At a later date and further north in what Roman writers christened as Ultima Thule, Odin, was the God of Seid (Sorcery) and, as described in the strange scene where Odin sacrifices himself to himself in Havamal, the inventor of runes which it is suggested throughout Norse mythology as being an alphabet with an inherently magical purpose. Even in modern day English the connection remains; spell needs no explanation and a grimoire refers to grammaire which is a book of Latin grammar.
After the upheavals of the Reconquista and the subsequent Expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian peninsula in 1492, knowledge of Hebrew and Kabbalah spread across Europe and was greeted with enthusiasm in Neo-Platonic/Hermetic circles. They noted with approval certain similarities between their own thought and the Kabbalah (not surprising as they shared a common background in 4th century AD Alexandria, which appears to have been an Hellenised version of 60’s California, however the 16th Century philosopher-magicians weren’t to know that). Even more importantly was that the Kabbalah espoused the view that Hebrew was the language of God and each letter of the alphabet was connected to God through a series of divine emanations. Here was the key to magical operations, to communicate with God and the Angels it was vital to have knowledge of Hebrew. And it wasn’t only erudite scholars that enjoyed the patronage of enlightened princes that believed that magic was more potent when written in Hebrew; popular cheap grimoires throughout the centuries are littered with pseudo-Hebraic characters, culminating in the infamous 6th and 7th Books of Moses in the 19th century. Also since the 18th Century a tradition has been established in relation to the Tarot that the twenty-two cards of major arcana correspond to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet and it is common to find in the more esoterically inclined decks each card marked with its corresponding letter.
A differing occult tradition that begun with the Elizabethan mathematician, polymath and Magus John Dee is that the language of the angels had been a long time lost to man and had to be re-discovered before communication could be re-established. Undeterred with his lack of mediumistic talents he enlisted the roguish alchemist Edward Kelley in his scrying sessions that revealed the ‘Enochian’ language (so-called because Enoch was the last man to speak it) and later recorded their numerous conversations with the Angelic Hosts. Confidence is somewhat dented in Kelley’s supposedly disinterested motives when the angels suggest to him that it would be a good idea for Dee and Kelley to swap wives for a night; a proposal all parties eventually agree too. Aleister Crowley believed himself to be the re-incarnation of Kelley, a rare moment of self awareness for the Great Beast.