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The letter we now know as S in the West has its origins in the Hebrew letter Shin

HebrewShinThe word SHIN in Hebrew means, literally, “teeth.” This brings to mind one who chews overor ruminates, in order to find the truth. The pronghorns and pollards of PSU where Eric and Jen study are both ruminants (thanks, @JillAggieArg). Remember S’s dream about he and Sola in p276-277? S. and Sola are small people seated on giant furniture with a variety of false teeth set before them. Both of them toothless themselves, they refuse to try on the contraptions for fear of how they will look to the other. This dream seems to represent the absence of truth.

Remember when S. approaches Governor Nemec in The Territory? He fixates on the perfect teeth (p384) that the governor has. It is in the presence of the governor, whom we learn to be Pfeifer, that S. learns much truth about himself. It is here that the magpie (Straka) dies, his true self coming to light.

In all of the Hebrew Bible, one particular passage stands out as meant for rumination. It is the shema – a passage that God asks his people to chew over time and again. Handwritten copies of the shema called mezuzah were placed on doorposts in cases. Traditionally, each case is labeled with Shin


Imagine a doorway containing an important message meant for rumination labeled with the earliest known version of the letter S.

SHIN is also said to have the shape of the human heart and to originally have meant to imitate the shape of a composite bow (can you say The Archer’s Tales?)

SHIN also is a symbol for fire, with the shape of the letter appearing as flames.

This is precisely what campfires are for.
The sharing of stories.
There’s a spiritual connection between flame and narrative.
Stenfalk (p146)

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the shape of this ancient letter S called SHIN. Now go back to the wilderness between B__ and G__ as Stenfalk, Corbeau, Ostrero, Pfeifer, and S flee Vevoda’s detectives. They realize they are being tracked. There is a central party and two flanking parties that eventually converge. Tracing the routes of the search parties as a whole, we see SHIN drawn by their paths. Now go back to the caves of the K– as Corbeau and S. flee the detectives. Both of them have been injured by the Black Vine in the clearing. Corbeau has three fingers where the fingers are literally being eaten away. VMS points out that these fingers are index, middle, ring. On the same page (p182), we see that S.’s injury is to his big toe and the two toes next to it. In both cases, the three digits on each person form the shape of the Hebrew letter SHIN.

In the TarotSHIN represents the judgement card that typically looks like the picture below, showing an angel blowing a trumpet and awakening the dead – man, woman, and child to face judgement.


In the mythic tarot, however, Judgement is depicted by Mercury


Our winged shoes messenger and his caduceus, a repeated symbol in and around “S.”, is now the messenger of judgement. Judgement, which we typically associate with condemnation, is more of a reckoning where choices are exposed. The image of the dead father, mother, and child rising from the dead bring to mind the dead father, mother, and child shot by Governor Nemec’s guard as S. comes to grips with the type of person he has become. As S. returns to his ship, he finds it destroyed. And in judgement S. goes to The Winter City to serve penance.

The origins of the letter S. seem to have much to say about the story of “S.” From archery to Mercury to rumination to much more than mentioned in this short post. What else do you see in the emersion of S.?