book cover

Illuminating Letters: Paintings and Essays on the Kabbalah
explores the luminous paintings and illuminated letter prayers of the Hebrew alphabet by Elizabeth Fergus-Jean. The book contains three essays by noted religious and depth psychology scholar Christine Downing, Judaism specialist Rabbi Mel Gottlieb, and the artist. The essays take very personal yet ultimately converging paths in illuminating the powers of the Hebrew alphabet. Fergus-Jean’s essay explores the life-long arc of her relationship and understanding of Images and recalls how she was drawn to working with the Hebrew alphabet. This process includes her multidimensional opening up to the alphabet and the Kabbalah, and how the Letters themselves actively participated in selecting the materials that she used to create their forms. She shares the details of painting the letter Aleph, and how its form led her to a higher revelation, hearing the Letter speak to her within my being. Downing’s is a memoir of sorts, exploring both personal and historic aspects of the evolution of the symbolic language of the letters. Rabbi Gottlieb discusses the depth dimensions of the psycho-spiritual significance of the Hebrew alphabet via academic and historical perspectives.

In all, the contributions in this book will appeal to students, scholars, and art lovers as it provides multiple entry points for general audiences to access the Kabbalistic material. This holistic framework will allow viewers to re-imagine the truer dimensions of their lives as revealed within these texts and images. In this way, the Hebrew alphabet, the paintings, the poems, and the essays are all meditative beckonings, invitations to respond to the eternal resonances within us all.


“The Illuminated Letters created by Dr. Elizabeth Fergus-Jean has given the letters of the Hebrew alphabet a new life, and their meaning has been extended by a very interesting and readable text. I now have a greater understanding and appreciation of these letters, and can experience them on different levels: as a striking example of art and design–as calligraphy; as a vehicle for meditation–like a mandala; and as a means of communion with God–as a mystical symbol.”
   Dr. Richard Zakia
   Professor Emeritus
   Rochester Institute of Technology

“Fergus-Jean herself has a gift for language. For her, the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew language inspire and illuminate. Fergus-Jean seems to see them as a sign of deeper mysteries and a wondrous manifestation of the unknown. It is clear that her convictions are intense and deeply felt, and it takes an act of courage to share them with us. Her prayer-poems that conclude the book are evocative and thought-provoking. In the deceptively simple marks of the Hebrew alphabet, she has bound ancient tradition to contemporary scholarship. It is difficult not to be moved by this book.”
   Corinne Whitaker
   Editor and Publisher
   The Digital Giraffe

About the artist / author

About the contributing authors

Table of Contents


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