What is Kabbalah? Kabbalah is an aspect of Jewish mysticism. It consists of a large body of speculation on the nature of divinity, the creation, the origin and fate of the soul, and the role of human beings. It consists also of meditative, devotional, mystical and magical practices which were taught only to a select few and for this reason Kabbalah is regarded as an esoteric offshoot of Judaism. Some aspects of Kabbalah has been studied and used by non-Jews for several hundred years.
What does the word "Kabbalah" mean, and how should I spell it? The word "Kabbalah" is derived from the root "to receive, to accept,@ and in many cases is used synonymously with "tradition." No-one with the slightest interest in Kabbalah can fail to notice that there are many alternative spellings of the word, the two most common being Kabbalah and Qabalah. Cabala, Qaballah, Qabala, Kaballah (and so on) are also seen.
The reason for this is that some letters in the Hebrew alphabet have more than one representation in the English alphabet, and the same Hebrew letter can be written either as K or Q (or sometimes even C). Some authors choose one spelling, and some choose the other. Some will even mix Q and K in the same document, spelling Kabbalah and Qlippoth (as opposed to Qabalah and Klippoth!). A random selection of modern Hebrew phrase books and dictionaries use the K variant to represent the letter Kuf, so anyone who claims that the "correct" spelling is "Qabalah" is on uncertain ground.
There has been a tendency for non-Jewish books on Kabbalah published this century to use the spelling "Qabalah." Jewish publications are relatively uniform in preferring the spelling "Kabbalah." We take the view (based on experience) that the spelling "Kabbalah" is recognized by a wider selection of people than the "Qabalah" variant, and for this purely pragmatic reason it is used throughout this study.
What is the "Tradition?" According to Jewish tradition, the Torah (Torah - "Law" - believed by Christians to be the first five books of the Old Testament, but the Jews do not hold the same belief, although they keep it carefully concealed from Christians that they hold the Talmud to be theATorah@ not any books of the Bible) was created prior to the world and she (The Queen god) advised God on such weighty matters as the creation of human kind. When Moses received the written law from God, tradition has it that he also received the oral law, which was not written down, but passed from generation to generation. At times the oral law has been referred to as "Kabbalah" - the oral tradition.
Bible Versus Oral Law (Talmud): The Bible under Talmudic Judaism is considered to be a collection of simple tales fit only for fools, women and children. The Talmud 'sages' thus must find new meanings in it by letter and number tricks which reverse the plain meaning and create out of it the permission to do otherwise forbidden crimes and misdeeds. The words of the Bible are continually misused and misquoted for purposes of blasphemy and reversal.
Stealing for themselves the title of 'Israelites,' the Talmud 'sages' teach that 'God made a covenant with Israel only for the sake of that which was transmitted orally.' And the Biblical 'basis' of this is given as Exodus 34:27. But that verse states, instead: 'And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.' - the very opposite! The Talmudic reversal of Moses' written words are said to have been transmitted 'orally,' and through Moses himself - believe it or not!
Bearing in mind that the Scribes were the Pharisee teachers of the Law of Moses, carefully distorted to comprise the Talmud, note: 'There is greater stringency in respect to the teachings of the Scribes than in respect to the Torah...so that a Biblical law may be transgressed.'
The Torah in its narrow sense is the Old Testament, and in a still narrower meaning the first five books (Pentateuch) of Moses. it its wider Judaistic use it means the Old Testament as misinterpreted by the Pharisaic Talmud. Always with Judaism the Talmud ranks above the Bible in every way. A Talmud passage from the Book of Nedarim (vows) of the Soncino edition of the Talmud states: 'As will be seen on 37a, Scripture was generally regarded as the study of children only, adults usually investigating the deeper meaning...From this we see that it was usual to teach the Bible to girls in spite of the Talmudic deduction that daughters need not be educated.
The opposition of Rabbi Eliezer to teaching the Torah to one's daughter 'He who teaches his daughter Torah is as though he taught her lewdness.' - was probably directed against the teaching of the Oral Law, and the higher branches of study ...The context shows that the reference is to the higher knowledge of Biblical law.' The Talmud states: 'A heathen who studies the Torah deserves death for it is written, Moses commanded us a law for an inheritance; it is our inheritance, not theirs.'
Reference is also made to the 'Noachian laws' which the non-Jew may study 'but not laws which do not pertain to them.' Also: '...(the) objection was to the studying of the Oral Law...Rabbi Johanan feared the knowledge of Gentiles in matters of Jurisprudence, as they would use it against the Jews in their opponents' courts.' Understandably, since all Talmud laws discriminate against the non-Jew and rank him a virtual animal, these were apt observations.
The Jewish Encyclopedia is still more open about what is in Sanhedrin 59a of the Talmud, above, threatening death for revelation of 'Torah' laws to Gentiles: 'for such knowledge might have operated against the Jews in their opponents' courts.' This observation follows a dissertation on the laws on cheating and getting the best of Gentiles in trade and in court.
The Torah was (and is) believed, by Jews, to be fit only for fools and women, and in the same way as the Torah was accompanied by an oral tradition, so there grew up a secret oral tradition which claimed to possess an initiated understanding of the Torah, its hidden meanings, an d the divine power concealed within it. This is a principle root of the Kabbalistic tradition, a belief in the divinity of the Torah, and a belief that by studying this text one can unlock the secrets of the creation.
Another aspect of Jewish religion which influenced Kabbalah was the Biblical phenomenon of prophecy. The prophet was an individual chosen by God as a mouthpiece, and there was the implication that God, far from being a transcendental abstraction, was a being whom one could approach (albeit with enormous difficulty, risk, fear and trembling).
Some Kabbalists believed that they were the inheritors of practical techniques handed down from the time of the Biblical prophets, and it is not impossible or improbable that this was in fact the case. These two threads, one derived from the study of the Torah, the other derived from practical attempts to approach God, form the roots from which the Kabbalistic tradition developed.
How old is Kabbalah? No-one knows. The earliest documents which are generally acknowledged as being Kabbalistic come from the 1st. Century C.E., but there is a suspicion that the Biblical phenomenon of prophecy may have been grounded in a much older oral tradition which was a precursor to the earliest recognizable forms of Kabbalah. Some believe the tradition goes back as far as Melchizedek. There are moderately plausible arguments that Pythagoras received his learning from Hebrew sources. There is a substantial literature of Jewish mysticism dating from the period 100AD - 1000AD which is not strictly Kabbalistic in the modern sense, but which was available as source material to medieval Kabbalists.
On the basis of a detailed examination of texts, and a study of the development of a specialist vocabulary and a distinct body of ideas, Scholem has concluded that the origins of Kabbalah can be traced to 12th. century Provence. The origin of the word "Kabbalah" as a label for a tradition which is definitely recognizable as Kabbalah is attributed to Isaac the Blind (c. 1160-1236 C.E.), who is also credited with being the originator of the idea of sephirothic emanation.
Prior to this (and after) a wide variety of terms were used for those who studied the tradition: "masters of mystery," "men of belief," "masters of knowledge," "those who know," "those who know grace," "children of faith," "children of the king's palace," "those who know wisdom," "those who reap the field," "those who have entered and left."
If a chemist from the twentieth century could step into a time-machine and go back two-hundred years he or she would probably feel a deep kinship with the chemists of that time, even though there might be considerable differences in terminology, underlying theory, equipment and so on. Despite this kinship, chemists have not been trapped in the past, and the subject as it is studied today bears little resemblance to the chemistry of two hundred years ago.
Kabbalah has existed for nearly two thousand years, and like any living discipline it has evolved through time, and it continues to evolve. One aspect of this evolution is that it is necessary for living Kabbalists to continually "represent" what they understand by Kabbalah so that Kabbalah itself continues to live and continues to retain its usefulness to each new generation. If Kabbalists do not do this then it becomes a dead thing, an historical curiosity (as was virtually the case within Judaism by the nineteenth century).
These notes were written with that intention: to present one view of Kabbalah as it is currently practiced, so that people who are interested in Kabbalah and want to learn more about it are not limited purely to texts written hundreds or thousands of years ago (or for that matter, modern texts written about texts written hundreds or thousands of years ago). For this reason these notes acknowledge the past, but they do not defer to it. There are many adequate texts for those who wish to understand Kabbalah as it was practiced in the past. These notes have another purpose. The majority of people who are drawn towards Kabbalah are not historians; they are people who want to know enough about it to decide whether they should use it as part of their own personal mystical or magical adventure.
There is enough information not only to make that decision, but also to move from theory into practice. I should emphasize that this is only one variation of Kabbalah out of many, and I leave it to others to present their own variants - I make no apology if the material is biased towards a particular point of view.
The word "Kabbalah" means "tradition." There are many alternative spellings, the two most popular being Kabbalah and Qabalah, but Cabala, Qaballah, Qabala, Kaballah (and so on) are also seen. I made my choice as a result of a poll of the books on my bookcase, not as a result of deep linguistic understanding. If Kabbalah means "tradition," then the core of the tradition was the attempt to penetrate the inner meaning of the Bible, which was taken to be the literal (but heavily veiled) word of God. Because the Word was veiled, special techniques were developed to elucidate the true meaning...Kabbalistic theosophy has been deeply influenced by these attempts to find a deep meaning in the Bible.
The earliest documents (100 B.C. - 1000 A.D.) associated with Kabbalah describe the attempts of "Merkabah" mystics to penetrate the seven halls (Hekaloth) of creation and reach the Merkabah (throne-chariot) of God. These mystics used the familiar methods of shamanism (fasting, repetitious chanting, prayer, posture) to induce trance states in which they literally fought their way past terrible seals and guards to reach an ecstatic state in which they "saw God." An early and highly influential document (Sepher Yetzirah) appears to have originated during the earlier part of this period.
By the early middle ages further, more theosophical developments had taken place, chiefly a description of "processes" within God, and a highly esoteric view of creation as a process in which God manifests in a series of emanations. This doctrine of the "sephiroth" can be found in a rudimentary form in the "Yetzirah,@ but by the time of the publication of the book "Bahir" (12th. century) it had reached a form not too different from the form it takes today.
One of most interesting characters from this period was Abraham Abulafia, who believed that God cannot be described or conceptualized using everyday symbols, and used the Hebrew alphabet in intense meditations lasting many hours to reach ecstatic states. Because his abstract letter combinations were used as keys or entry points to altered states of consciousness, failure to carry through the manipulations correctly could have a drastic effect on the Kabbalist. In "Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism" Scholem includes a long extract of one such experiment made by one of Abulafia's students - it has a deep ring of truth about it.
Probably the most influential Kabbalistic document, the "Sepher ha Zohar." was published by Moses de Leon, a Spanish Jew, in the latter half of the thirteenth century. The "Zohar" is a series of separate documents covering a wide range of subjects, from a verse-by-verse esoteric commentary on the Pentateuch, to highly theosophical descriptions of processes within God. The "Zohar" has been widely read and was highly influential within mainstream Judaism.
A later development in Kabbalah was the Safed school of mystics headed by Moses Cordovero and Isaac Luria. Luria was a highly charismatic leader who exercised almost total control over the life of the school, and has passed into history as something of a saint. Emphasis was placed on living in the world and bringing the consciousness of God throughAinto@ the world in a practical way. Practices were largely devotional.
Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Judaism as a whole was heavily influenced by Kabbalah, but by the beginning of this century a Jewish writer was able to dismiss it as an historical curiosity. Jewish Kabbalah has vast literature which is almost entirely untranslated into English.
A development which took place almost synchronously with Jewish Kabbalah was its adoption by many Christian mystics, magicians and philosophers. Renaissance philosophers such as Pico Della Mirandola were familiar with Kabbalah and mixed it with Gnosticism, pythagoreanism, neo-platonism and hermeticism to form a snowball which continued to pick up traditions as it rolled down the centuries. It is probably accurate to say that from the Renaissance on, virtually all European occult philosophers and magicians of note had a working knowledge of Kabbalah.
It is not clear how Kabbalah was involved in the propagation of ritual magical techniques, or whether itAwas@ involved, or whether the ritual techniques were preserved in parallel within Judaism, but it is an undeniable fact that the most influential documents appear to have a Jewish origin.
The most important medieval magical text is the "Key of Solomon," and it contains the elements of classic ritual magic - names of power, the magic circle, ritual implements, consecration, evocation of spirits etc. No-one knows how old it is, but there is a reasonable suspicion that its contents preserve techniques which might well date back to Solomon.
The combination of non-Jewish Kabbalah and ritual magic has been kept alive outside Judaism until the present day, although it has been heavily adulterated at times by hermeticism, Gnosticism, neo-platonism, pythagoreanism, Rosicrucianism, Christianity, Tantra and so on. The most important "modern" influences are the French magician Eliphas Levi, and the English "Order of the Golden Dawn."
At least two members of the G.D. (S.L. Mathers and A.E. Waite) were knowledgeable Kabbalists, and three G. D. members have popularized Kabbalah - Aleister Crowley, Israel Regardie, and Dion Fortune. Dion Fortune's "Inner Light" has also produced a number of authors: Gareth Knight, William Butler, and William Gray.
An unfortunate side effect of the G.D is that while Kabbalah was an important part of its "Knowledge Lectures," surviving G.D. rituals are a syncretist hodge-podge of symbolism in which Kabbalah plays a minor or nominal role, and this has led to Kabbalah being seen by many modern occultists as more of a theoretical and intellectual discipline, rather than a potent and self-contained mystical and magical system in its own right.
Some of the originators of modern witchcraft drew heavily on medieval ritual and Kabbalah for inspiration, and it is not unusual to find witches teaching some form of Kabbalah, although it is generally even less well integrated into practical technique than in the case of the G.D.
The Kabbalistic tradition described in the notes derives principally from Dion Fortune, but has been substantially developed over the past 30 years. I would like to thank M.S. and the T.S.H.U. for all the fun.
The Tree of Life
At the root of the Kabbalistic view of the world are three fundamental concepts and they provide a natural place to begin. The three concepts are force, form and consciousness and these words are used in an abstract way, as the following examples illustrate: (1) high pressure steam in the cylinder of a steam engine provides a force. The engine is a form which constrains the force. (2) a river runs downhill under the force of gravity. The river channel is a form which constrains the water to run in a well defined path. (3) someone wants to get to the center of a garden maze. The hedges are a form which constrain that person's ability to walk as they please. (4) a diesel engine provides the force which drives a boat forwards. A rudder constrains its course to a given direction. (5) a politician wants to change the law.
The legislative framework of the country is a form which he or she must follow if the change is to be made legally. (6) water sits in a bowl. The force of gravity pulls the water down. The bowl is a form which gives its shape to the water. (7) a stone falls to the ground under the force of gravity.
Its acceleration is constrained to be equal to the force divided by the mass of the stone. (8) I want to win at chess. The force of my desire to win is constrained within the rules of chess. (9) I see something in a shop window and have to have it. I am constrained by the conditions of sale (do I have enough money, is it in stock). (10) cordite explodes in a gun barrel and provides an explosive force on a bullet.
The gas and the bullet are constrained by the form of the gun barrel. (11) I want to get a passport. The government won't give me one unless I fill in lots of forms in precisely the right way. (12) I want a university degree. The university won't give me a degree unless I attend certain courses and pass various assessments.
In all these examples there is something which is causing change to take place ("a force") and there is something which causes change to take place in a defined way ("a form"). Without being too pedantic it is possible to identify two very different types of example here:
1). Examples of natural physical processes (e.g. a falling stone) where the force is one of the natural forces known to physics (e.g. gravity) and the form is some combination of physical laws which constrain the force to act in a well defined way. 2). Examples of people wanting something, where the force is some ill-defined concept of "desire," "will," or "drives," and the form is one of the forms we impose upon ourselves (the rules of chess, the Law, polite behavior etc.).
Despite the fact that the two different types of example are "only metaphorically similar," Kabbalists see no fundamental distinction between them. To the Kabbalist there are forces which cause change in the natural world, and there are corresponding psychological forces which drive us to change both the world and ourselves, and whether these forces are natural or psychological they are rooted in the same place: consciousness.
Similarly, there are forms which the component parts of the physical world seem to obey (natural laws) and there are completely arbitrary forms we create as part of the process of living (the rules of a game, the shape of a mug, the design of an engine, the syntax of a language) and these forms are also rooted in the same place: consciousness. It is a Kabbalistic axiom that there is a prime cause which underpins all the manifestations of force and form in both the natural and psychological world and that prime cause I have called consciousness for lack of a better word.
Consciousness is undefinable. We know that we are conscious in different ways at different times - sometimes we feel free and happy, at other times trapped and confused, sometimes angry and passionate, sometimes cold and restrained - but these words describe manifestations of consciousness. We can define the manifestations of consciousness in terms of manifestations of consciousness, which is about as useful as defining an ocean in terms of waves and foam.
Anyone who attempts to define consciousness itself tends to come out of the same door as they went in. We have lots of words for the phenomena of consciousness thoughts, feelings, beliefs, desires, emotions, motives and so on - but few words for the states of consciousness which give rise to these phenomena, just as we have many words to describe the surface of a sea, but few words to describe its depths. Kabbalah provides a vocabulary for states of consciousness underlying the phenomena, and one of the purposes of these notes is to explain this vocabulary, not by definition, but mostly by metaphor and analogy. The only genuine method of understanding what the vocabulary means is by attaining various states of consciousness in a predictable and reasonably objective way, and Kabbalah provides practical methods for doing this.
A fundamental premise of the Kabbalistic model of reality is that there is a pure, primal, and undefinable state of consciousness which manifests as an interaction between force and form. This is virtually the entire guts of the Kabbalistic view of things, and almost everything I have to say from now on is based on this trinity of consciousness, force, and form. Consciousness comes first, but hidden within it is an inherent duality; there is an energy associated with consciousness which causes change (force), and there is a capacity within consciousness to constrain that energy and cause it to manifest in a well-defined way (form).
/ Consciousness \
to take ________________ Energy
What do we get out of raw energy and an inbuilt capacity for form and structure? Is there yet another hidden potential within this trinity waiting to manifest? There is. If modern physics is to be believed we get matter and the physical world.
The cosmological Big Bang model of raw energy surging out from an infinitesimal point and condensing into basic forms of matter as it cools, then into stars and galaxies, then planets, and ultimately living creatures, has many points of similarity with the Kabbalistic model.
In the Big Bang model a soup of energy condenses according to some yet-to-be-formulated Grand- Universal-Theory into our physical world. What Kabbalah does suggest (and modern physics most certainly does not!) is that matter and consciousness are the same stuff, and differ only in the degree of structure imposed - matter is consciousness so heavily structured and constrained that its behavior becomes describable using the regular and simple laws of physics. This is shown in Fig. 2. The primal, first principle of consciousness is synonymous with the idea of "God."
/ Consciousness \
/ | \
Capacity | Raw
to take _____________ Energy/Force
\ | /
The glyph in Fig. 2 is the basis for the Tree of Life. The first principle of consciousness is called Kether, which means Crown. The raw energy of consciousness is called Chockhmah or Wisdom, and the capacity to give form to the energy of consciousness is called Binah, which is sometimes translated as Understanding, and sometimes as Intelligence.
The outcome of the interaction of force and form, the physical world, called Malkuth or Kingdom. This quaternary is a Kabbalistic representation of God-the knowable, in the sense that it the most primitive representation of God we are capable of comprehending; paradoxically, Kabbalah also contains a notion of God-the-Unknowable which transcends this glyph, and is called En Soph. There is not much we can say about En Soph, and what we can say we will postpone for later.
God-the-Knowable has four aspects, two male and two female: Kether and Chockhmah are both represented as male, and Binah and Malkuth are represented as female. One of the titles of Chockhmah is Abba, which means Father, and one of the titles of Binah is Aima, which means Mother, so you can think of Chockhmah as God the-Father, and Binah as God-the-Mother. Malkuth is the daughter, the female spirit of God-as-Matter, and it would not be wildly wrong to think of her as Mother Earth. One of the more pleasant things about Kabbalah is that its symbolism gives equal place to both male and female. And what of God-the-Son? Is there also a God-the-Son in Kabbalah? There is, and this is the point where Kabbalah tackles the interesting problem of thee and me. The glyph in Fig. 2 is a model of consciousness, but not of self-consciousness, and self-consciousness throws an interesting spanner in the works.
Self-consciousness is like a mirror in which consciousness sees itself reflected. Self-consciousness is modeled in Kabbalah by making a copy of figure 2.
/ Consciousness \
/ | \
Consciousness | Consciousness
of ________________ of
Form | Energy/Force
\ | /
Figure 3. is Figure 2. reflected through self-consciousness. The overall effect of self-consciousness is to add an additional layer to Figure 2. as follows:
/ Consciousness \
/ | \
/ | \
Capacity | Raw
to take _____________ Energy/Force
\ | /
\ | /
\ | /
/ Consciousness \
/ | \
/ | \
Consciousness | Consciousness
of ________________ of
Form | Energy/Force
\ | /
\ | /
\ | /
Fig. 2 is sometimes called "the Garden of Eden" because it represents a primal state of consciousness. The effect of self-consciousness as shown in Fig. 4 is to drive a wedge between the First Principle of Consciousness (Kether) and that Consciousness realized as matter and the physical world (Malkuth). This is called "the Fall," after the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. From a Kabbalistic point of view the story of Eden, with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the serpent and the temptation, and the casting out from the Garden has a great deal of meaning in terms of understanding the evolution of consciousness.
Self-consciousness introduces four new states of consciousness: the Consciousness of Consciousness is called Tipheret, which means Beauty; the Consciousness of Force/Energy is called Netzach, which means Victory or Firmness; the Consciousness of Form is called Hod, which means Splendor or Glory, and the Consciousness of Matter is called Yesod, which means Foundation. These four states have readily observable manifestations, as shown below in Fig. 5:
/ | \
/ | \
/ | \
Language | Emotions
Reason | Feelings
\ | /
\ | /
\ | /
\ Perception /
Figure 4. is almost the complete Tree of Life, but not quite - there are still two states missing. The inherent capacity of consciousness to take on structure and objectify itself (Binah, God-the-Mother) is reflected through self-consciousness as a perception of the limitedness and boundedness of things. We are conscious of space and time, yesterday and today, here and there, you and me, in and out, life and death, whole and broken, together and apart.
We see things as limited and bounded and we have a perception of form as something "created" and "destroyed." My car was built a year ago, but it was smashed yesterday. I wrote an essay, but I lost it when my computer crashed. My granny is dead. The river changed its course. A law has been repealed. I broke my coffee mug. The world changes, and what was here yesterday is not here today. This perception acts like an "interface" between the quaternary of consciousness which represents "God," and the quaternary which represents a living self-conscious being, and two new states are introduced to represent this interface. The state which represents the creation of new forms is called Chesed, which means Mercy, and the state which represents the destruction of forms is called Gevurah, which means Strength. This is shown in Fig. 6.
The objectification of forms which takes place in a self-conscious being, and the consequent tendency to view the world in terms of limitations and dualities (time and space, here and there, you and me, in and out, God and Man, good and evil...) produces a barrier to perception which most people rarely overcome, and for this reason it has come to be called the Abyss. The Abyss is also marked on Figure 6.
/ Consciousness \
/ | \
Capacity | Raw
to take _____________ Energy/Force
Form | |
|\ | /|
| \ | / |
| \ | / |
Destruction | Creation
Form \ | / Form
| \ \ | / / |
| \ Consciousness / |
| of |
| / Consciousness \ |
| / | \ |
|/ | \|
Consciousness | Consciousness
of ________________ of
\ Form | Energy/Force
\ \ | / /
\ \ | / /
\ Consciousness /
\ of /
\ the World /
\ | /
\ | /
\ | /
The diagram in Fig. 6 is called the Tree of Life. The "constructionist" approach I have used to justify its structure is a little unusual, but the essence of my presentation can be found in the "Zohar" under the guise of the Macroprosopus and Microprosopus, although in this form it is not readily accessible to the average reader.
Our attempt to show how the Tree of Life can be derived out of pure consciousness through the interaction of an abstract notion of force and form was not intended to be a convincing exercise from an intellectual point of view - the Tree of Life is primarily a gnostic rather than a rational or intellectual explanation of consciousness and its interaction with the physical world.
The Tree is composed of 10 states or sephiroth (sephiroth plural, sephira singular) and 22 interconnecting paths. The age of this diagram is unknown: there is enough information in the 13th. century "Sepher ha Zohar" to construct this diagram, and the doctrine of the sephiroth has been attributed to Isaac the Blind in the 12th. century, but we have no certain knowledge of its origin. It probably originated sometime in the interval between the 6th. and 13th. centuries AD.
The origin of the word "sephira" is unclear - it is almost certainly derived from the Hebrew word for "number" (SPhR), but it has also been attributed to the Greek word for "sphere" and even to the Hebrew word for a sapphire (SPhIR). With a characteristic aptitude for discovering hidden meanings everywhere, Kabbalists find all three derivations useful, so take your pick.
In the language of earlier Kabbalistic writers the sephiroth represented ten primeval emanations of God, ten focii through which the energy of a hidden, absolute and unknown Godhead (En Soph) propagated throughout the creation, like white light passing through a prism. The sephiroth can be interpreted as aspects of God, as states of consciousness, or as nodes akin to the Chakras in the occult anatomy of a human being .
We have left out one important detail from the structure of the Tree. There is an eleventh "something" which is definitelyAnot@ a sephira, but is often shown on modern representations of the Tree. The Kabbalistic "explanation" runs as follows: when Malkuth "fell" out of the Garden of Eden (Fig. 2) it left behind a "hole" in the fabric of the Tree, and this "hole," located in the center of the Abyss, is called Daath, or Knowledge. Daath is Anot@ a sephira; it is a hole. This may sound like gobbledy-gook, and in the sense that it is only a metaphor, it is. The completed Tree of Life with the Hebrew titles of the sephiroth is shown below in Fig. 7.
( Kether )
/ (Crown) \
/ | \
Binah | Chockhmah
(Intelligence) | |
|\ | /|
| \ Daath / |
| \ (Knowledge) / |
| \ | / |
Gevurah \ | / Chesed
| \ | / (Love)
| \ \ | / / |
| \ Tipheret / |
| / (Beauty) \ |
| / | \ |
|/ | \|
Hod | Netzach
(Splendor) | (Firmness)
\ \ | / /
\ \ | / /
\ \ Yesod / /
\ (Foundation) /
\ | /
From an historical point of view the doctrine of emanations and the Tree of Life are only one small part of a huge body of Kabbalistic speculation about the nature of divinity and our part in creation, but it is the part which has survived. The Tree continues to be used in the Twentieth Century because it has proved to be a useful and productive symbol for practices of a magical, mystical and religious nature. Modern Kabbalah in the Western Mystery Tradition is largely concerned with the understanding and practical application of the Tree of Life, and the following set of notes will list some of the characteristics of each sephira in more detail so that you will have a "snapshot" of what each sephira represents before going on to examine the sephiroth and the "deep structure" of the Tree in more detail.
The correspondences are a set of symbols, associations and qualities which provide a handle on the elusive something a sephira represents. Some of the correspondences are hundreds of years old, many were concocted this century, and some are my own; some fit very well, and some are obscure - oddly enough it is often the most obscure and ill-fitting correspondence which is most productive; like a Zen riddle it perplexes and annoys the mind until it arrives at the right place more in spite of the correspondence than because of it.
There are few canonical correspondences; some of the sephiroth have alternative names, some of the names have alternative translations, the mapping from Hebrew spellings to the English alphabet varies from one author to the next, and inaccuracies and accretions are handed down like the family silver. I keep my Hebrew dictionary to hand but guarantee none of the English spellings.
The correspondences given are as follows:
1).The Meaning is a translation of the Hebrew name of the sephira. 2).The Planet in most cases is the planet associated with the sephira. In some cases it is not a planet at all (e.g. the fixed stars). The planets are ordered by decreasing apparent motion - this is one correspondence which appears to pre-date Copernicus! 3).The Element is the physical element (earth, water, air, fire, aethyr) which has most in common with the nature of the Sephira. The Golden Dawn applied an excess of logic to these attributions and made a mess of them, to the confusion of many. Only the five Lower Face sephiroth have been attributed an element. 4). Briatic color. This is the color of the sephira as seen in the world of Creation, Briah. There are color scales for the other three worlds but I haven't found them to be useful in practical work. 5). Magical Image. Useful in meditations; some are astute. 6).The Briatic Correspondence is an abstract quality which says something about the essence of the way the sephira expresses itself. 7).The Illusion characterizes the way in which the energy of the sephira clouds one's judgement; it is something which isAobviously@ true. Most people suffer from one or more of these according to their temperament. 8).The Obligation is a personal quality which is demanded of an initiate at this level. 9).The Virtue and Vice are the energy of the sephiroth as it manifests in a positive and negative sense in the personality. 10). Qlippoth is a word which means "shell." In medieval Kabbalah each sephira was "seen" to be adding form to the sephira which preceded it in the Lightning Flash (see Chapter 3.). Form was seen to an accretion, a shell around the pure divine energy of the Godhead, and each layer or shell hid the divine radiance a little bit more, until God was buried in form and exiled in matter, the end-point of the process. At the time attitudes to matter were tainted with the Manichean notion that matter was evil, a snare for the spirit, and consequently the Qlippoth or shells were "demonized" and actually turned into demons. The correspondence I have given here restores the original notion of a shell of form Awithout@ the corresponding force to activate it; it is the lifeless, empty husk of a sephira devoid of force, and while it isn't a literal demon, it is hardly a bundle of laughs when you come across it. 11). The Command refers to the Four Powers of the Sphinx, with an extra one added for good measure. 12). The Spiritual Experience is just that. 13). The Titles are a collection of alternative names for the sephira; most are very old. 14). The God Name is a key to invoking the power of the sephira in the world of emanation, Atziluth. 15). The Archangel mediates the energy of the sephira in the world of creation, Briah. 16). The Angel Order administers the energy of the sephira in the world of formation, Yetzirah. 17).
The Pillars & the Lightning Flash
In Chapter 1. the Tree of Life was derived from three concepts, or rather one primary concept and two derivative concepts which are "contained" within it. The primary concept was called consciousness, and it was said to "contain" within it the two complementary concepts of force and form. This chapter builds on the idea by introducing the three Pillars of the Tree, and uses the Pillars to clarify a process called the Lightning Flash.
The Three Pillars are shown in Figure 8. below.
Pillar Pillar Pillar
of of of
Form Consciousness Force
(Severity) (Mildness) (Mercy)
/ (Crown) \
/ | \
/ | \
Binah | Chockhmah
(Intelligence) | |
|\ | /|
| \ Daath / |
| \ (Knowledge) / |
| \ | / |
Gevurah \ | / Chesed
| \ | / (Love)
| \ \ | / / |
| \ Tipheret / |
| / (Beauty) \ |
| / | \ |
|/ | \|
Hod | Netzach
(Splendor) | (Firmness)
\ \ | / /
\ \ | / /
\ \ Yesod / /
\ (Foundation) /
\ | /
\ | /
Not surprisingly the three pillars are referred to as the pillars of consciousness, force and form. The pillar of consciousness contains the sephiroth Kether, Tiphereth, Yesod and Malkuth; the pillar of force contains the sephiroth Chockhmah, Chesed and Netzach; the pillar of form contains the sephiroth Binah, Gevurah and Hod.
In older Kabbalistic texts the pillars are referred to as the pillars of mildness, mercy and severity, and it is not immediately obvious how the older jargon relates to the new. To the medieval Kabbalist (and this is a recurring metaphor in the Zohar) the creation as an emanation of God is a delicateAbalance@ (metheqela) between two opposing tendencies: the mercy of God, the outflowing, creative, life-giving and sustaining tendency in God, and the severity or strict judgement of God, the limiting, defining, life-taking and ultimately wrathful or destructive tendency in God. The creation is "energized" by these two tendencies as if stretched between the poles of a battery.
Modern Kabbalah makes a half-hearted attempt to remove the more obvious anthropomorphism in the descriptions of "God;" mercy and severity are misleading terms, apt to remind one of a man with a white beard, and even in medieval times the terms had distinctly technical meanings as the following quotation shows: "It must be remembered that to the Kabbalist, judgement [Din - judgement, another title of Gevurah] means the imposition of limits and the correct determination of things. According to Cordovero the quality of judgement is inherent in everything insofar as everything wishes to remain what it is, to stay within its boundaries."
I understand the word "form" in precisely this sense - it is that which definesAwhat@ a thing is, the structure whereby a given thing is distinct from every other thing. As for "consciousness," we use the word "consciousness" in a sense so abstract that it is virtually meaningless, and according to whim I use the word God instead, where it is understood that both words are place holders for something which is potentially knowable in the gnostic sense only - consciousness can be Adefined@ according to the Aforms@ it takes, in which case we are defining the forms, Anot@ the consciousness. The same qualification applies to the word "force." My inability to define two of the three concepts which underpin the structure of the Tree is a nuisance which is tackled traditionally by the use of extravagant metaphors, and by elimination ("not this, not that").
The classification of sephiroth into three pillars is a way of saying that each sephira in a pillar partakes of a common quality which is "inherited" in a progressively more developed and structured form from of the top of a pillar to the bottom. Tipheret, Yesod and Malkuth all share with Kether the quality of "consciousness in balance" or "synthesis of opposing qualities,@ or but in each case it is expressed differently according to the increased degree of structure imposed.
Likewise, Chockhmah, Chesed and Netzach share the quality of force or energy or expansiveness, and Binah, Gevurah and Hod share the quality of form, definition and limitation. From Kether down to Malkuth, force and form are combined; the symbolism of the Tree has something in common with a production line, with molten metal coming in one end and finished cars coming out the other, and with that metaphor we are now ready to describe the Lightning Flash, the process whereby God takes on flesh, the process which created and sustains the creation.
In the beginning...was Something. Or Nothing. It doesn't really matter which term we use, as both are equally meaningless in this context. Nothing is probably the better of the two terms, because I can use Something in the next paragraph. Kabbalists call this Nothing "En Soph" which literally means "no end" or infinity, and understand by this a hidden, unmanifest God-inItself.
Out of this incomprehensible and indescribable Nothing came Something. Probably more words have been devoted to this moment than any other in Kabbalah, and it is all too easy to make fun the effort which has gone into elaborating the indescribable, so I won't, but in return do not expect me to provide a justification for why Something came out of Nothing. It just did. A point crystalized in the En Soph. In some versions of the story the En Soph "contracted" to "make room" for the creation (Isaac Luria's theory of Tsimtsum), and this is probably an important clarification for those who have rubbed noses with the hidden face of God, but for the purposes of these notes it is enough that a point crystallised. This point was the crown of creation, the sephira Kether, and within Kether was contained all the unrealized potential of the creation.
An aspect of Kether is the raw creative force of God which blasts into the creation like the blast of hot gas which keeps a hot air balloon in the air. Kabbalists are quite clear about this; the creation didn't just happen a long time ago - it is happening all the time, and without the force to sustain it the creation would crumple like a balloon. The force-like aspect within Kether is the sephira Chockhmah and it can be thought of as the will of God, because without it the creation would cease toAbe.@ The whole of creation is maintained by this ravening, primeval desire to Abe,@ to become, to exist, to change, to evolve. The experiential distinction between Kether, the point of emanation, and Chockhmah, the creative outpouring, is elusive, but some of the difference is captured in the phrases "I am" and "I become.@
Force by itself achieves nothing; it needs to be contained, and the balloon analogy is appropriate again. Chockhmah contains within it the necessity of Binah, the Mother of Form. The person who taught me Kabbalah (a woman) told me Chockhmah (Abba, the Father) was God's prick, and Binah (Aima, the mother) was God's womb, and left me with the picture of one half of God continuously ejaculating into the other half. The author of the Zohar also makes frequent use of sexual polarity as a metaphor to describe the relationship between force and form, or mercy and severity (although the most vivid sexual metaphors are used for the marriage of the Microprosopus and his bride, the Queen and Inferior Mother, the sephira Malkuth).
The sephira Binah is the Mother of Form; form exists within Binah as a potentiality, not as an actuality, just as a womb contains the potential of a baby. Without the possibility of form, no thing would be distinct from any other thing; it would be impossible to distinguish between things, impossible to have individuality or identity or change. The Mother of Form contains the potential of form within her womb and gives birth to form when a creative impulse crosses the Abyss to the Pillar of Force and emanates through the sephira Chesed. Again we have the idea of "becoming,@ of outflowing creative energy, but at a lower level.
The sephira Chesed is the point at which form becomes perceptible to the mind as an inspiration, an idea, a vision, that "Eureka!" moment immediately prior to rushing around shouting "I've got it! I've got it!" Chesed is that quality of genuine inspiration, a sense of being "plugged in" which characterizes the visionary leaders who drive the human race onwards into every new kind of endeavor. It can be for good or evil; a leader who can tap the petty malice and vindictiveness in any person and channel it into a vision of a new order and genocide is just as much a visionary as any other, but the positive side of Chesed is the humanitarian leader who brings about genuine improvements to our common life.
No change comes easy; as Cordova points out "everything wishes to remain what it is.@ The creation of form is balanced in the sephira Gevurah by the preservation and destruction of form. Any impulse of change is channeled through Gevurah, and if it is not resisted then something will be destroyed. If you want to make paper you cut down a tree. If you want to abolish slavery you have to destroy the culture which perpetuates it. If you want to change someone's mind you have to destroy that person's beliefs about the matter in question. The sephira Gevurah is the quality of strict judgement which opposes change, destroys the unfamiliar, and corresponds in many ways to an immune system within the body of God.
There has to be a balance between creation and destruction. Too much change, too many ideas, too many things happening too quickly can have the quality of chaos (and can literally become that), whereas too little change, no new ideas, too much form and structure and protocol can suffocate and stifle. There has to be a balance which "makes sense" and this "idea of balance" or "making sense" is expressed in the sephira Tiphereth.
It is an instinctive morality, and it isn't present by default in the human species. It isn't based on cultural norms; it doesn't have its roots in upbringing (although it is easily destroyed by it). Some people have it in a large measure, and some people are (to all intents and purposes) completely lacking in it. It doesn't necessarily respect conventional morality: it may laugh in its face. I can't say what it is in any detail, because it is peculiar and individual, but those who have it have a natural quality of integrity, soundness of judgement, an instinctive sense of rightness, justice and compassion, and a willingness to fight or suffer in defense of that sense of justice. Tiphereth is a paradoxical sephira because in many people it is simply not there. It can be developed, and that is one of the goals of initiation, but for many people Tiphereth is a room with nothing in it.
Having passed through Gevurah on the Pillar of Form, and found its way through the moral filter of Tiphereth, a creative impulse picks up energy once more on the Pillar of Force via the Sephira Netzach, where the energy of "becoming" finds its final expression in the form of "vital urges.@ Why do we carry on living? Why bother? What is it that compels us to do things? An artist may have a vision of a piece of art, but what actually compels the artist to paint or sculpt or write? Why do we want to compete and win? Why do we care what happens to others? The sephira Netzach expresses the basic vital creative urges in a form we can recognize as drives, feelings and emotions. Netzach is pre-verbal; ask a child why he wants a toy and the answer will be "I just do." "But why," you ask, wondering why he doesn't want the much more "sensible" toy you had in mind. "Why don't you want this one here." "I just don't. I want this one." "But what's so good about that one." "I don't know what to say...I just like it."
This conversation is not fictitious and is quintessentially Netzach. The structure of the Tree of Life posits that the basic driving forces which characterize our behavior are pre-verbal and non-rational; anyone who has tried to change another person's basic nature or beliefs through force of rational argument will know this.
After Netzach we go to the sephira Hod to pick up our last cargo of Form. Ask a child why they want something and they say "I just do." Press an adult and you will get an earful of "reasons.@ We live in a culture where it is important (often essential) to give reasons for the things we do, and Hod is the sephira of form where it is possible to give shape to our wants in terms of reasons and explanations. Hod is the sephira of abstraction, reason, logic, language and communication, and a reflection of the Mother of Form in the human mind.
We have a innate capacity to abstract, to go immediately from the particular to the general, and we have an innate capacity to communicate these abstractions using language, and it should be clear why the alternative translation of Binah is "intelligence;@ Binah is the "intelligence of God,@ and Hod underpins what we generally recognize as intelligence in people - the ability to grasp complex abstractions, reason about them, and articulate this understanding using some means of communication.
The synthesis of Hod and Netzach on the Pillar of Consciousness is the sephira Yesod. Yesod is the sephira of interface, and the comparison with computer peripheral interfaces is an excellent one. Yesod is sometimes called "the Receptacle of the Emanations,@ and it interfaces the emanations of all three pillars to the sephira Malkuth, and it is through Yesod that the final abstract form of something is realized in matter.
Form in Yesod is no longer abstract; it is explicit, but not yet individual - that last quality is reserved for Malkuth alone. Yesod is like the mold in a bottle factory - the mold is a realization of the abstract idea "bottle" in so far as it expresses the shape of a particular bottle design in every detail, but it is not itself an individual bottle.
The final step in the process is the sephira Malkuth, where God becomes flesh, and every abstract form is realized in actuality, in the "real world.@ There is much to say about this, but I will keep it for later.
The process I have described is called the Lightning Flash. The Lightning Flash runs as follows: Kether, Chockhmah, Binah, Chesed, Gevurah, Tiphereth, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, Malkuth, and if you trace the Lightning Flash on a diagram of the Tree you will see that it has the zig-zag shape of a lightning flash. The sephiroth are numbered according to their order on the lightning flash: Kether is 1, Chockhmah is 2, and so on. The "Sepher Yetzirah" has this to say about the sephiroth: "When you think of the ten sephiroth cover your heart and seal the desire of your lips to announce their divinity.
Yoke your mind. Should it escape your grasp, reach out and bring it back under your control. As it was said, 'And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning,' in such a manner was the Covenant created." The quotation within the quotation comes from Ezekiel 1.14, a text which inspired a large amount of early Kabbalistic speculation, and it is probable that the Lightning Flash as described is one of the earliest components of the idea of sephirothic emanation.
The Lightning Flash describes the creative process, beginning with the unknown, unmanifest hidden God, and follows it through ten distinct stages to a change in the material world. It can be used to describeAany@ change - lighting a match, picking your nose, walking the dog - and novices are usually set the exercise of analyzing any arbitrarily chosen event in terms of the Lightning Flash. Because the Lightning Flash can be used to understand the inner process whereby the material world of the senses changes and evolves, it is a key to practical magical work, and because it is intended to account for Aall@ change it follows that all change is equally magical, and the word "magic" is essentially meaningless (but nevertheless useful for distinguishing between "normal" and "abnormal" states of consciousness, and the modes of causality which pertain to each).
It also follows that the key to understanding our "spiritual nature" does not belong in the spiritual empyrean, where it remains inaccessible, but inAall@ the routine and unexciting little things in life. Everything is is equally "spiritual,@ equally "divine,@ and there is more to be learned from picking one's nose than there is in a spiritual discipline which puts you "here" and God "over there.@ The Lightning Flash ends in Malkuth, and it can be followed like a thread through the hidden pathways of creation until one arrives back at the source. The next chapter will retrace the Lightning Flash by examining the qualities of each sephira in more detail.
Malkuth: Malkuth is the Cinderella of the sephiroth. It is the sephira most often ignored by beginners, the sephira most often glossed over in Kabbalistic texts, and it is not only the most immediate of the sephira but it is also the most complex, and for sheer inscrutability it rivals Kether - indeed, there is a Kabbalistic aphorism that "Kether is Malkuth, and Malkuth is in Kether, but after another manner.@
The word Malkuth means "Kingdom,@ and the sephira is the culmination of a process of emanation whereby the creative power of the Godhead is progressively structured and defined as it moves down the Tree and arrives in a completed form in Malkuth. Malkuth is the sphere of matter, substance, the real, physical world. In the least compromising versions of materialist philosophy (e.g. Hobbes) there is nothing beyond physical matter, and from that viewpoint the Tree of Life beyond Malkuth does not exist: our feelings of identity and self-consciousness are nothing more than a by-product of chemical reactions in the brain, and the mind is a complex automata which suffers from the disease of metaphysical delusions.
Kabbalah isAnot@ a materialist model of reality, but when we examine Malkuth by itself we find ourselves immersed in matter, and it is natural to think in terms of physics, chemistry and molecular biology. The natural sciences provide the most accurate models of matter and the physical world that we have, and it would be foolishness of the first order to imagine that Kabbalah can provide better explanations of the nature of matter on the basis of a study of the text of the Old Testament. Not that we under-rate the intuition which has gone into the making of Kabbalah over the centuries, but for practical purposes the average university science graduate knows (much) more about the material stuff of the world than medieval Kabbalists, and a grounding in modern physics is as good a way to approach Malkuth as any other.
For those who are not comfortable with physics there are alternative, more traditional ways of approaching Malkuth. The magical image of Malkuth is that of a young woman crowned and throned. The woman is Malkah, the Queen, Kallah, the Bride. She is the inferior mother, a reflection and realization of the superior mother Binah. She is the Queen who inhabits the Kingdom, and the Bride of the Microprosopus. She is Gaia, Mother Earth, but of course she is not only the substance of this world; she is the body of the entire physical universe.
Some care is required when assigning Mother/Earth goddesses to Malkuth, because some of them correspond more closely to the superior mother Binah. There is a close and deep connection between Malkuth and Binah which results in the two sephiroth sharing similar correspondences, and one of the oldest Kabbalistic texts has this to say about Malkuth: "The title of the tenth path [Malkuth] is the Resplendent Intelligence. It is called this because it is exalted above every head from where it sits upon the throne of Binah. It illuminates the numinosity of all lights and causes to emanate the Power of the archetype of countenances or forms."
One of the titles of Binah is Khorsia, or Throne, and the image which this text provides is that Binah provides the framework upon which Malkuth sits. We will return to this later. Binah contains the potential of form in the abstract, while Malkuth is is the fullest realization of form, and both sephiroth share the correspondences of heaviness, limitation, finiteness, inertia, avarice, silence, and death.
The female quality of Malkuth is often identified with the Shekhinah, the female spirit of God in the creation, and Kabbalistic literature makes much of the (carnal) relationship of God and the Shekhinah. Waite mentions that the relationship between God and Shekhinah is mirrored in the relationship between man and woman, and provides a great deal of information on both the Shekhinah and what he quaintly calls "The Mystery of Sex."
After the exile of the Jews from Spain in 1492, Kabbalists identified their own plight with the fate of the Shekhinah, and she is pictured as being cast out into matter in much the same way as the Gnostics pictured Sophia, the outcast divine wisdom. The doctrine of the Shekhinah within Kabbalah and within Judaism as a whole is complex and it is something I don't feel competent to comment further on; more information can be found in &.
Malkuth is the sphere of the physical elements and Kabbalists still use the four-fold scheme which dates back at least as far as Empedocles and probably the Ark. The four elements correspond to four readily- observable states of matter:
solid - earth
liquid - water
gas - air
plasma - fire/electric arc (lightning)
In addition it is not uncommon to include a fifth element so rarified and arcane that most people (self included) are pushed to say what it is; the fifth element is aethyr (or ether) and is sometimes called spirit.
The amount of material written about the elements is enormous, and rather than reproduce in bulk what is relatively well-known I will provide a rough outline so that those readers who aren't familiar with Kabbalah will realize I am talking about approximately the same thing as they have seen before.
A detailed description of the traditional medieval view of the four elements can be found in "The Magus." The hierarchy of elemental powers can be found in "777" and in Golden Dawn material.
We have summarized a few useful items below:
Element Fire Air Water Earth
God Name Elohim Jehovah Eheieh Agla
Archangel Michael Raphael Gabriel Uriel
King Djin Paralda Nichsa Ghob
Elemental Salamanders Sylphs Undines Gnomes
It is amusing to notice that the section on the elemental kingdoms in Farrar's "What Witches Do" had been taken by Alex Saunders lock, stock and barrel from traditional Kabbalistic and CM sources. The elements in Malkuth are arranged as follows:
South + Fire
East + Zenith Aethyr
West Air Nadir Aethyr
It is important to distinguish between the elements in Malkuth, where we are talking about real substance (the water in your body, the breath in your lungs), and the elements on the Tree, where we are using traditional correspondencesAassociated@ with the elements, e.g.:
$Earth: solid, stable, practical, down-to-earth
$Water: sensitive, intuitive, emotional, caring, fertile
$Air: vocal, communicative, intellectual
$Fire: energetic, daring, impetuous
$Positive Aethyr: glue, binding, plastic
$Negative Aethyr: unbinding, dissolution, disintegration
Aethyr or Spirit is enigmatic, and I tend to think of it in terms of the forces which bind matter together. It is almost certainly a coincidence (but nevertheless interesting) that there are four fundamental forces - gravitational, electromagnetic, weak nuclear & strong nuclear - known to date, and current belief is that they can be unified into one fundamental force.
On a slightly more arcane tack, Barret has this to say about Aethyr: "Now seeing that the soul is the essential form, intelligible and uncorruptible, and is the first mover of the body, and is moved itself; but that the body, or matter, is of itself unable and unfit for motion, and does very much degenerate from the soul, it appears that there is a need of a more excellent medium:- now such a medium is conceived to be the spirit of the world, or that which some call a quintessence; because it is not from the four elements, but a certain first thing, having its being above and beside them.
There is, therefore, such a kind of medium required to be, by which celestial souls [e.g. forms] may be joined to gross bodies, and bestow upon them wonderful gifts. This spirit is in the same manner, in the body of the world, as our spirit is in our bodies; for as the powers of our soul are communicated to the members of the body by the medium of the spirit, so also the virtue of the soul of the world is diffused, throughout all things, by the medium of the universal spirit; for there is nothing to be found in the whole world that hath not a spark of the virtue thereof."
Aethyr underpins the elements like a foundation and its attribution to Yesod should be obvious, particularly as it forms the linking role between the ideoplastic world of "the Astral Light" and the material world. Aethyr is often thought to come in two flavors - positive Aethyr, which binds, and negative Aethyr, which unbinds. Negative Aethyr is a bit like the Universal Solvent, and requires as much care in handling ;-} Working with the physical elements in Malkuth is one of the most important areas of applied magic, dealing as it does with the basic constituents of the real world.
The physical elements are tangible and can be experience in a very direct way through recreations such as caving, diving, parachuting or fire walking; they bite back in a suitably humbling way, and they provide CMs with an opportunity to join the neo-pagans in the great outdoors. Our bodies themselves are made from physical stuff, and there are many Raja Yoga-like exercises which can be carried out using the elements as a basis for work on the body. If you can stand his manic intensity (Exercise 1: boil an egg by force of will) then Bardon is full of good ideas.
Malkuth is often associated with various kinds of intrinsic evil, and to understand this attitude (which I do not share) it is necessary to confront the same question as thirteenth century Kabbalists: can God be evil? The answer to this question was (broadly speaking) "yes,@ but Kabbalists have gone through many strange gyrations in an attempt to avoid what was for many an unacceptable conclusion. It was difficult to accept that famine, war, disease, prejudice, hate, death could be a part of a perfect being, and there had to be some way to account for evil which did not contaminate divine perfection. One approach was to sweep evil under the carpet, and in this case the carpet was Malkuth. Malkuth became the habitation for evil spirits.
If one examines the structure of the Tree without prejudice then it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that evil is quite adequately accounted for, and there is no need to shuffle evil to the periphery of the Tree like a cleaner without a dustpan. The emanation of any sephirah from Chockhmah downwards can manifest as good or evil depending on circumstances and the point of view of those affected by the energy involved. This appears to have been understood even at the time of the writing of the "Zohar,@ where the mercy of God is constantly contrasted with the severity of God, and the author makes it clear that one has to balance the other - you cannot have the mercy without the severity.
On the other hand, the severity of God is persistently identified with the rigors of existence (form, finiteness, limitation), and while it is true that many of the things which have been identified with evil are a consequence of the finiteness of things, of being finite beings in a world of finite resources governed by natural laws with inflexible causality, it not correct to infer (as some have) that form itself isAintrinsically@ evil.
The notion that form and matter areAintrinsically@ evil, or in some way imperfect or not a part of God, may have reached Kabbalah from a number of sources. Scholem comments: "The Kabbalah of the early thirteenth century was the offspring of a union between an older and essentially Gnostic tradition represented by the book >Bahir,= and the comparatively modern element of Jewish Neo-Platonism."
There is the possibility that the Kabbalists of Provence (who wrote or edited the "Sepher Bahir") were influenced by the Cathars, a late form of Manicheanism. Whether the source was Gnosticism, Neo-Platonism, Manicheanism or some combination of all three, Kabbalah has imported a view of matter and form which distorts the view of things portrayed by the Tree of Life, and so Malkuth ends up as a kind of cosmic outer darkness, a bin for all the dirt, detritus, broken sephira and dirty hankies of the creation.
Form is evil, the Mother of Form is female, women are definitely and indubitably evil, and Malkuth is the most female of the sephira, therefore Malkuth is most definitely evil...quoderat demonstrandum.
By the time we reach the time of S.L. Mathers and the Golden Dawn there is a complete Tree of evil demonic QlippothAunderneath@ Malkuth as a reflection of the "good" Tree above it. I believe this may have something to do with the fact that meditations on Malkuth can easily become meditations on Binah, and meditations on Binah have a habit of slipping into the Abyss, and once in the Abyss it is easy to trawl up enough junk to "discover" an averse Tree "underneath" Malkuth.
This view of the Qlippoth, or Shells, as active, demonic evil has become pervasive, and the more energy people put into the demonic Tree, the less there is for the original. Abolish the Qlippoth as demonic forces, and the Tree of Life comes alive with its full power of goodAand@ evil. The following quotation from Bischoff (speaking of the Sephiroth) provides a more rational view of the Qlippoth: "Since their energy [of the sephiroth] shows three degrees of strength (highest, middle and lowest degree), their emanations group accordingly in sequence.
We usually imagine the image of a descending staircase. The Kabbalist prefers to see this fact as a decreasing alienation of the central primeval energy. Consequently any less perfect emanation is to him the cover or shell (Qlippah) of the preceding, and so the last (furthest) emanations being the so-called material things are the shell of the total and are therefore called (in the actual sense) Qlippoth."
This is my own view; the shell of something is the accretion of form which it accumulates as energy comes down the Lightning Flash. If the shell can be considered by itself then it is a dead husk of something which could be alive - it preserves all the structure but there is no energy in it to bring it alive. With this interpretation the Qlippoth are to be found everywhere: in relationships, at work, at play, in ritual, in society. Whenever something dies and people refuse to recognize that it is dead, and cling to the lifeless husk of whatever it was, then you get a Qlippah.
For this reason one of the vices of Malkuth is Avarice, not only in the sense of trying to acquire material things, but also in the sense of being unwilling to let go of anything, even when it has become dead and worthless. The Qlippah of Malkuth is what you would get if the Sun went out: Stasis, life frozen into immobility.
The other vice of Malkuth is Inertia, in the sense of "active resistance to motion; sluggish; disinclined to move or act.@ It is visible in most people at one time or another, and tends to manifest when a task is new, necessary, but not particularly exciting, there is no excitement or "natural energy" to keep one fired up, and one has to keep on pushing right to the finish. For this reason the obligation of Malkuth is (has to be) self-discipline. The virtue of Malkuth is Discrimination, the ability to perceive differences. The ability to perceive differences is a necessity for any living organism, whether a bacteria able to sense the gradient of a nutrient or a kid working out how much money to wheedle out of his parents. As Malkuth is the final realization of form, it is the sphere where our ability to distinguish between differences is most pronounced.
The capacity to discriminate is so fundamental to survival that it works overtime and finds boundaries and distinctions everywhere - "you" and "me,@ "yours" and "mine,@ distinctions of "property" and "value" and "territory" which are intellectual abstractions on one level (i.e. not real) and fiercely defended realities on another (i.e. very real indeed).
We are not going to attempt a definition of real and unreal, but it is the case that much of what we think of as real is unreal, and much of what we think of as unreal is real, and we need the same discrimination which leads us into the mire to lead us out again. Some people think skin color is a real measure of intelligence; some don't.
Some people think gender is a real measure of ability; some don't. Some people judge on appearances; some don't. There is clearly a difference between a bottle of beer and a bottle of piss, but is the color of theAbottle@ important? What Ais@ important? What differences are real, what matters? How much energy do we devote to things which are "not real."
Am I able to perceive how much I am being manipulated by a fixation on unreality? Are my goals in life "real,@ or will they look increasingly silly and immature as I grow older? For that matter, is Kabbalah "real"? Does it provide a useful model of reality, or is it the remnant of a world-view which should have been put to rest centuries ago? One of the primary exercises of an initiate into Malkuth is a thorough examination of the question "What is real?"
The Spiritual Experience of Malkuth is variously the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel (HGA), or the Vision of the HGA (depending on who you believe). I vote for the Vision of the HGA in Malkuth, and the Knowledge and Conversation in Tiphereth. What is the HGA? According to the Gnosticism of Valentinus each person has a guardian angel who accompanies that individual through their life and reveals the gnosis; the angel is in a sense the divine Self.
This belief is identical to what we was taught by the person who taught us Kabbalah, so some part of Gnosticism lives on. The current tradition concerning the HGA almost certainly entered the Western Esoteric Tradition as a consequence of S.L. Mather's translation of "The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage," which contains full details of a lengthy ritual to attain the Knowledge and Conversation of the HGA. This ritual has had an important influence on twentieth century magicians and it is often attempted and occasionally completed.
The powers of Malkuth are invoked by means of the names Adonai ha Aretz and Adonai Melekh, which mean "Lord of the World" and "The Lord who is King" respectively. The power is transmitted through the world of Creation by the archangel Sandalphon, who is sometimes referred to as "the Long Angel,@ because his feet are in Malkuth and his head in Kether, which gives him an opportunity to chat to Metatron, the Angel of the Presence. The angel order is the Ashim, or Ishim, sometimes translated as the "souls of fire,@ supposedly the souls of righteous men and women.
In concluding this section on Malkuth, it worth emphasizing that I have chosen deliberately not to explore some major topics because there are sufficient threads for anyone with an interest to pick up and follow for themselves. The image of Malkuth as Mother Earth provides a link between Kabbalah and a numinous archetype with a deep significance for some.
The image of Malkuth as physical substance provides a link into the sciences, and it is the case that at the limits of theoretical physics one's intuitions seem to be slipping and sliding on the same reality as in Kabbalah. The image of Malkuth as the sphere of the elements is the key to a large body of practical magical technique which varies from yoga-like concentration on the bodily elements, to nature-oriented work in the great outdoors. Lastly, just as the design of a building reveals much about its builders, so Malkuth can reveal a great deal about Kether - the bottom of the Tree and the top have much in common.
Yesod: Yesod means "foundation," and that is what Yesod is: it is the hidden infrastructure whereby the emanations from the remainder of the Tree are transmitted to the sephira Malkuth. Just as a large building has its air-conditioning ducts, service tunnels, conduits, electrical wiring, hot and cold water pipes, attic spaces, lift shafts, winding rooms, storage tanks, a telephone exchange etc, so does the Creation, and the external, visible world of phenomenal reality rests (metaphorically speaking) upon a hidden foundation of occult machinery. Meditations on the nature of Yesod tend to be full of secret tunnels and concealed mechanisms, as if the Creation was a Gothic mansion with a secret door behind every mirror, a passage in every wall, a pair of hidden eyes behind every portrait, and a subterranean world of forgotten tunnels leading who knows where. For this reason the Spiritual Experience of Yesod is aptly named "The Vision of the Machinery of the Universe.@
Many Yesod correspondences reinforce this notion of a foundation, of something which lies behind, supports and gives shape to phenomenal reality. The magical image of Yesod is of "a beautiful naked man, very strong.@ The image which springs to mind is that of a man with the world resting on his shoulders, like one of the misrepresentations of the Titan Atlas (who actually held up the heavens, not the world). The angel order of Yesod is the Cherubim, the Strong Ones, the archangel is Gabriel, the Strong or Mighty One of God, and the God-name is Shaddai el Chai, the Almighty Living God.
The idea of a foundation suggests that there is a substance which lies behind physical matter and "in-forms it" or "holds it together,@ something less structured, more plastic, more refined and rarified, and this "fifth element" is often called aethyr. We will not attempt to justify aethyr in terms of current physics (the closest concept we have found is the hypothesized Higgs field); it is a convenient handle on a concept which has enormous intuitive appeal to many magicians, who, when asked how magic works, tend to think in terms of a medium which is directly receptive to the will, something which is plastic and can be shaped through concentration and imagination, and which transmits their artificially created forms into reality. Eliphas Levi called this medium the "Astral Light.@
It is also natural to imagine that mind, consciousness, and the soul have their habitation in this substance, and there are volumes detailing the properties of the "Etheric Body,@ the "Astral Body,@ the "Causal Body" [1,2] and so on. I do like to work with the kind of natural intuitions which occur spontaneously and independently in a large number of people - there is power in these intuitions - and it is a mistake to invalidate them because they sound cranky. When I talk about aethyr or the Astral Light, I mean there is an ideoplastic substance which is subjectively real to many magicians, and explanations of magic at the level of Yesod revolve around manipulating this substance using desire, imagination and will.
The fundamental nature of Yesod is that ofAinterface;@ it interfaces the rest of the Tree of Life to Malkuth. The interface is bi-directional; there are impulses coming down from Kether, and echoes bouncing back from Malkuth. The idea of interface is illustrated in the design of a computer system: a computer with a multitude of worlds hidden within it is a source of heat and repair bills unless it has peripheral interfaces and device drivers to interface the world outside the computer to the world "inside" it; add a keyboard and a mouse and a monitor and a printer and you have opened the door into another reality.
Our own senses have the same characteristic of being a bi-directional interface through which we experience the world, and for this reason the senses correspond to Yesod, and not only the five traditional senses - the "sixth sense" and the "second sight" are given equal status, and so Yesod is also the sphere of instinctive psychism, of clairvoyance, precognition, divination and prophecy.
It is also clear from accounts of lucid dreaming (and personal experience) that we possess the ability to perceive an inner world as vividly as the outer, and so to Yesod belongs the inner world of dreams, daydreams and vivid imagination, and one of the titles of Yesod is "The Treasure House of Images."
To Yesod is attributed Levanah, the Moon, and the lunar associations of tides, flux and change, occult influence, and deeply instinctive and sometimes atavistic behavior - possession, medium ship, lycanthropy and the like. Although Yesod is the foundation and it has associations with strength, it is by no means a rigid scaffold supporting a world in stasis.
Yesod supports the world just as the sea supports all the life which lives in it and sails upon it, and just as the sea has its irresistible currents and tides, so does Yesod. Yesod is the most "occult" of the sephiroth, and next to Malkuth it is the most magical, but compared with Malkuth its magic is of a more subtle, seductive, glamorous and ensnaring kind. Magicians are drawn to Yesod by the idea that if reality rests on a hidden foundation, then by changing the foundation it is possible to change the reality. The magic of Yesod is the magic of form and appearance, not substance; it is the magic of illusion, glamour, transformation, and shape-changing. The most sophisticated examples of this are to be found in modern marketing, advertising and image consultancies.
Although the changes look cosmetic, those responsible for creating corporate image argue that a redesign of a company's uniform or name is just the visible sign of a much larger transformation. "The majority of people continue to misunderstand and think that it is just a logo, rather than understanding that a corporate identity programme is actually concerned with the very commercial objective of having a strong personality and single-minded, focused direction for the whole organization " said Fiona Gilmore, managing director of the design company Lewis Moberly. "It's like planting an acorn and then a tree grows. If you create the right>foundation= (my itals) then you are building a whole culture for the future of an organization."
We don't know what Ms. Gilmore studies in her spare time, but the idea that it is possible to manipulate reality by manipulating symbols and appearances is entirely magical. The same article on corporate identity continues as follows: The scale of the BT relaunch is colossal. The new logo will be painted on more than 72,000 vehicles and trailers, as well as 9,000 properties. The company's 92,000 public payphones will get new decals, and its 90 shops will have to changed, right down to the yellow door handles. More than 50,000 employees are likely to need new uniforms or "image clothing.@ Note the emphasis on Aimage.@ The company in question (British Telecom) is an ex-public monopoly with an appalling customer relations problem, so it is changing the color of its door handles! This is Yesodic magic on a gigantic scale.
The image manipulators gain most of their power from the mass-media. The mass-media correspond to two sephiroth: as a medium of communication they belong in Hod, but as a foundation for our perception of reality they belong in Yesod. Nowadays most people form their model of what the world (in the large) is like via the media. There are a few individuals who travel the world sufficiently to have a model based on personal experience, but for most people their model of what most of the world is like is formed by newspapers, radio and television; that is, the media have become an extended (if inaccurate) instrument of perception. Like our "normal" means of perception the media are highly selective in the variety and content of information provided, and they can be used by advertising agencies and other manipulative individuals to create foundations for new collective realities.
While on the subject of changing perception to assemble new realities, the following quote by "Don Juan" has a definite Kabbalistic flavor:AThe next truth is that perception takes place," he went on, "because there is in each of us an agent called the assemblage point that selects internal and external emanations for alignment. The particular alignment that we perceive as the world is the product of a specific spot where our assemblage point is located on our cocoon."
One of the titles of Yesod is "The Receptacle of the Emanations,@ and its function is precisely as described above - Yesod is the assemblage point which assembles the emanations of the internal and the external.
In addition to the deliberate, magical manipulation of foundations, there are other important areas of magic relevant to Yesod. Raw, innate psychism is an ability which tends to improve as more attention is devoted to creative visualization, focused meditation (on Tarot cards for example), dreams (e.g. keeping a dream diary), and divination. Divination is an important technique to practice even if you feel you are terrible at it (and especially if you think it is nonsense), because it reinforces the idea that it is permissible to "let go" and intuite meanings into any pattern. Many people have difficulty doing this, feeling perhaps that they will be swamped with unreason (recalling Freud's fear, expressed to Jung, of needing a bulwark against the "black mud of occultism"), when in reality their minds are swamped with reason and could use a holiday. Any divination system can be used, but systems which emphasize pure intuition are best (e.g. Tarot, runes, tea-leaves, flights of birds, patterns on the wallpaper, smoke.
We heard of a Kabbalist who threw a cushion into the air and carried out divination on the basis of the number of pieces of foam stuffing which fell out). Because Yesod is a kind of aethyric reflection of the physical world, the image of and precursor to reality, mirrors are an important tool for Yesod magic. Quartz crystals are also used, probably because of the use of crystal balls for divination, but also because quartz crystal and amethyst have a peculiarly Yesodic quality in their own right. The average New Age shop filled with crystals, Tarot cards, silver jewelry (lunar association), perfumes, dreamy music, and all the glitz, glamour and glitter of a daemonic magpie's nest, is like a temple to Yesod. Mirrors and crystals are used passively as focii for receptivity, but they can also be used actively for certain kinds of aethyric magic - there is an interesting book on making and using magic mirrors which builds on the kind of elemental magical work carried out in Malkuth.
Yesod has an important correspondence with the sexual organs. The correspondence occurs in three ways. The first way is that when the Tree of Life is placed over the human body, Yesod is positioned over the genitals. The author of the Zohar is quite explicit about "the remaining members of the Microprosopus,@ to the extent that the relevant paragraphs in Mather's translation of "The Lesser Holy Assembly" remain in Latin to avoid offending Victorian sensibilities.
The second association of Yesod with the genitals arises from the union of the Microprosopus and his Bride. This is another recurring theme in Kabbalah, and the symbolism is complex and refers to several distinct ideas, from the relationship between man and wife to an internal process within the body of God: e.g. "When the Male is joined with the Female, they both constitute one complete body, and all the Universe is in a state of happiness, because all things receive blessing from their perfect body. And this is an Arcanum." or, referring to the Bride: "And she is mitigated, and receiveth blessing in that place which is called the Holy of Holies below." or, referring to the "member:" "And that which floweth down into that place where it is congregated, and which is emitted through that most holy Yesod, Foundation, is entirely white, and therefore is it called Chesed. Thence Chesed entereth into the Holy of Holies; as it is written Psalm cxxxiii. 3 'For there Tetragrammaton commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.'"
It is not difficult to read a great deal into paragraphs like this, and there are many more in a similar vein. Suffice to say that the Microprosopus is often identified with the sephira Tiphereth, the Bride is the sephira Malkuth, and the point of union between them is obviously Yesod.
The third and more abstract association between Yesod and the sexual organs arises because the sexual organs are a mechanism for perpetuating the Aform@ of a living organism. In order to get close to what is happening in sexual reproduction it is worth asking the question "What is a computer program?.@
Well, a computer program indisputably begins as an idea; it is not a material thing. It can be written down in various ways; as an abstract specification in set theoretic notation akin to pure mathematics, or as a set of recursive functions in lambda calculus; it could be written in several different high level languages - Pascal, C, Prolog, LISP, ADA, ML etc. Are they all they same program? Computer scientists wrestle with this problem: can we show that two different programs written in two different languages are in some sense functionally identical?
It isn't trivial to do this because it asks fundamental questions about language (any language) and meaning, but it is possible in limited cases to produce two apparently different programs written in different languages and assert that they are identical. Whatever the program is, it seems to exist independently of any particular language, so what is the program and where is it?
Let us ignore that chestnut and go on to the next level. Suppose we write the program down. We could do it with a pencil. We could punch holes in paper. We could plant trees in a pattern in a field. We can line up magnetic domains. We can burn holes in metal foil. I could have it tattooed on my back. We can transform it into radically different forms (that is what compilers and assemblers do). It obviously isn't tied to any physical representation either.
What about the computer it runs on? Well, it could be a conventional one made with CMOS chips etc.....but aren't there a lot of different kinds and makes of computer, and they can all run the same program. It is also quite practical to build computers which Adon't@ use electrons - you could use mechanics or fluids or ball bearings - all you need to do is produce something with the functionality of a Turing machine, and that isn't hard.
So not only is the program not tied to any particular physical representation, but the same goes for the computer itself, and what we are left with is two puffs of smoke. On another level this is crazy; computers are real, they do real things in the real world, and the programs which make them work are obviously real too....aren't they?
Now apply the same kind of scrutiny to living organisms, and the mechanism of reproduction. Take a good look at nucleic acids, enzymes, proteins etc., and ask the same kind of questions. I am not implying that life is a sort of program, but what I am suggesting is that if you try to get close to what constitutes a living organism you end up with another puff of smoke and a handful of atoms which could just as well be ball-bearings or fluids or....The thing that is being perpetuated through sexual reproduction is something quite abstract and immaterial; it is an abstract form preserved and encoded in a particular pattern of chemicals, and if I was asked which was more real, the transient collection of chemicals used, or the abstract form itself, I would answer "the form.@ But then, I am a programmer, and I would say that.
We find it astonishing that there are any hard-core materialists left in the world. All the important stuff seems to exist at the level of puffs of smoke, what Kabbalists call form. Roger Penrose, one of the most eminent mathematicians living has this to say: "I have made no secret of the fact that my sympathies lie strongly with the Platonic view that mathematical truth is absolute, external and eternal, and not based on man-made criteria; and that mathematical objects have a timeless existence of their own, not dependent on human society nor on particular physical objects."
"Ah Ha!" cry the materialists, "At least the atoms are real." Well, they are until you start pulling them apart with tweezers and end up with a heap of equations which turn out to be the linguistic expression of an idea. As Einstein said, "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible,@ that is, capable of being described in some linguistic form.
We am not trying to convince anyone of the "rightness" of the Kabbalistic viewpoint. What I am trying to do is show that the process whereby form is impressed on matter (the relationship between Yesod and Malkuth) is not arcane, theosophical mumbo jumbo; it is an issue which is alive and kicking, and the closer we get to "real things" (and that certainly includes living organisms), the better the Kabbalistic model (that form precedes manifestation, that there is a well-defined process of formation with the "real world" as an outcome) looks. The illusion of Yesod is security, the kind of security which forms the foundation of our personal existence in the world. On a superficial level our security is built out of relationships, a source of income, a place to live, a vocation, personal power and influence etc, but at a deeper level the foundation of personal identity is built on a series of accidents, encounters and influences which create the illusion of who we are, what we believe in, and what we stand for.
There is a warm, secure feeling of knowing what is right and wrong, of doing the right thing, of living a worthwhile life in the service of worthwhile causes, of having a uniquely privileged vantage point from which to survey the problems of life (with all the intolerance and incomprehension of other people which accompanies this insight), and conversely there are feelings of despair, depression, loss of identity, and existential terror when a crack forms in the illusion, and reality shows through - Castaneda calls it "the crack in the world."
The smug, self-perpetuating illusion which masquerades as personal identity at the level of Yesod is the most astoundingly difficult thing to shift or destroy. It fights back with all the resources of the personality, it will enthusiastically embrace any ally which will help to shore up its defenses - religious, political or scientific ideology; psychological, sociological, metaphysical and theosophical claptrap (e.g. Kabbalah); the law and popular morality; in fact, any beliefs which give it the power to retain its identity, uniqueness and integrity. Because this parasite of the soul uses religion (and its esoteric offshoots) to sustain itself they have little or no power over it and become a major part of the problem.
There are various ways of overcoming this personal demon (Carroll, in an essay on the subject, calls it Choronzon), and the two I know best are the cataclysmic and the abrasive. The first method involves a shock so extreme that it is impossible to be the same person again, and if enough preparation has gone before then it is possible to use the shock to rebuild oneself. In some cases this doesn't happen; we have noticed that many people with very rigid religious beliefs talk readily about having suffered traumatic experiences, and the phenomenon of hysterical conversion among soldiers suffering from war neuroses is well known.
The other method, the abrasive, is to wear away the demon of self-importance, to grind it into nothing by doing (for example) something for someone else for which one receives no thanks, praise, reward, or recognition. The task has to be big enough and awful enough to become a demon in its own right and induce all the correct feelings of compulsion (I have to do this), helplessness (I'll never make it), indignation (what's the point, it's not my problem anyway), rebellion (I won't, I won't, not anymore), more compulsion (I can't give up), self-pity (how did I get into this?), exhaustion (Oh No! Not again!), despair (I can't go on), and finally a kind of submission when one's demon hasn't the energy to put up a struggle any more and simply gives up. The woman who taught me Kabbalah used both the cataclysmic and the abrasive methods on her students with malicious glee - I will discuss this in more detail in the section on Tiphereth.
The virtue of Yesod is independence, the ability to make our own foundations, to continually rebuild ourselves, to reject the security of comfortable illusions and confront reality without blinking.
The vice of Yesod is idleness. This can be contrasted with the inertia of Malkuth. A stone is inert because it lacks the capacity to change, but in most circumstances people can change and can't be bothered. At least, not today. Yesod has a dreamy, illusory, comfortable, Aseductive@ quality, as in the Isle of the Lotus Eaters - how else could we live as if death and personal annihilation only happened to other people?
The Qlippothic aspect of Yesod occurs when foundations are rotten and disintegrating and only the superficial appearance remains unchanged - Dorian Gray springs to mind, or cases where the brain is damaged and the body remains and carries out basic instinctive functions, but the person is dead as far as other people are concerned. Organizations are just as prone to this as people.
The Cabala or Kabbalah,
The Secret Doctrine of The Jews
Christians Were Never Supposed To Learn
The Christian world has been deceived by their leaders; the Judeo-Christian Clergy of Organized Religion. This book will show beyond a shadow of a doubt to anyone who will accept a truth that is presented to them, even though it may go against everything they have been taught and believed all their lives. For no man or woman likes to learn they have been deceived, therefore, many will reject the truth of this presentation out of hand; but the truth is the truth and it will never change no matter how many deny it.
God has told us in the Scriptures that His people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, and that they actually reject it when presented to them. The following is found in The Jewish Encyclopedia: "Chazars: A people of Turkish origin whose life and history are interwoven with the very beginnings of the history of the Jews of Russia. The kingdom of the Chazars was firmly established in most of South Russia long before the foundation of the Russian monarchy by the Varangians (855). Jews have lived on the shores of the black and Caspian seas since the first centuries of the common era. Historical evidence points to the region of the Ural as the home of the Chazars. Among the classical writers of the Middle Ages they were known as the 'Chazars,' 'Khazars,' 'Akatzirs,' and 'Akatirs,' and in the Russian chronicles as 'Khwalisses' and 'Ugry Byelyye.'
The Armenian writers of the fifth and following centuries furnish ample information concerning this people. Moses of Chorene refers to the invasion by the 'Hkazirs' of Armenia and Iberia (another name for Edom or Edomites) at the beginning of the third century: 'The chaghan was the king of the North, the ruler of the Khazars, and the queen was the chatoun.' The Chazars first came to Armenia with the Basileans in 198. Though at first repulsed, they subsequently became important factors in Armenian history for a period of 800 years. Driven onward by the nomadic tribes of the steppes and by their own desire for plunder and revenge, they made frequent invasions into Armenia. The latter country was made the battle-ground in the long struggle between the Romans and the Persians. This struggle, which finally resulted in the loss by Armenia of her independence, paved the way for the political importance of the Chazars. The conquest of eastern Armenia by the Persians in the fourth century rendered the latter dangerous to the Chazars, who, for their own protection, formed an alliance with the Byzantines. This alliance was renewed form time to time until the final conquest of the Chazars by the Russians. Their first aid was rendered to the Byzantine emperor Julian, in 363. About 434 they were for a time tributary to Attila - Sidonius Apollitatis relates that the Chazars followed the banners of Attila - and in 452 fought on the Catalanian fields in company with the Black Huns and Alans. The Persian king Kobad (488-531) undertook the concentration of a line of forts through the pass between Derbent and the Caucasus. In order to guard against the invasion of the Chazars, Turks, and other warlike tribes. His son Chosroes Anoshirvan (531-579) built the wall of Derbent, repeatedly mentioned by the Oriental geographers and historians as Bab al-Abwab.
In the second half of the sixth century the Chazars moved westward. They established themselves in the territory bounded by the Sea of Azov, the don and the lower Volga, the Caspian Sea, and the northern Caucasus. The Caucasian Goths (Tetraxites) were subjugated by the Chazars, probably about the seventh century. Early in that century the kingdom of the Chazars had become powerful enough to enable the chaghan to send to the Byzantine emperor Heraclius an army of 40,000 men, by whose aid he conquered the Persians (626-627). The Chazars had already occupied the northeastern part of the Black Sea region. According to the historian Moses Kalonkataci, the Chazars, under their leader Jebu Chaghan (called 'Siebel Chaghan' by the Greek writers), penetrated into Persian territory as early as the second campaign of Heraclius, on which occasion they devastated Albania. Nicephorus testifies that Heraclius repeatedly shoed marks of esteem to his ally, the chaghan of the Chazars, to whom he even promised his daughter in marriage. In the great battle between the Chazars and the Arabs near Kizliar 4,000 Mohammedan soldiers and their leader were slain.
In the year 669 the Ugrians or Zabirs freed themselves from the rule of the Obrians, settled between the Don and the Caucasus, and came under the dominion of the Chazars. For this reason the Ugrians, who had hitherto been called the 'White' or 'Independent' Ugrians, are described in the chronicles ascribed to Nestor as the 'Black,' or 'Dependent,' Ugrians. They were no longer governed by their own princes, but were ruled by the kings of the Chazars. In 735, when the Arab leader Mervan moved from Georgia against the Chazars, he attacked the Ugrians also. In 679 the Chazars subjugated the bulgars and extended their sway farther west between the Don and the Dnieper, as far as the head-waters of the Donetz in the province of Lebedia. It was probably about that time that the chaghan of the Chazars and his grandees, together with a large number of his heathen people, embraced the Jewish religion. According to A. Harkavy, the conversion took place in 620; according to others, in 740. King Joseph, in his letter to Hasdai ibn Shaprut (about 960), gives the following account of the conversion:
'Some centuries ago King Bulan reigned over the Chazars. To him God appeared in a dream and promised him might and glory. Encouraged by this dream, Bulan went by the road of Darian to the country of Ardebil, where he gained great victories (over the Arabs). The Byzantine emperor and the calif of the Ishmaelites sent to him envoys with presents, and sages to convert him to their respective religions. Bulan invited also wise men of Israel, and proceeded to examine them all. As each of the champions believed his religion to be the best, Bulan separately questioned the Mohammedans and the Christians as to which of the other two religions they considered the better. When both gave preference to that of the Jews, that king perceived that it must be the true religion. He therefore adopted it.'
This account of the conversion was considered to be of a legendary nature. Harkavy, however , proved from Arabic and Slavonian sources that the religious disputation at the Chazarian court is a historical fact. Even the name of Sangari has been found in a liturgy of Constantine the Philosopher (Cyrill). It was one of the successors of Bulan, named Obadiah, who regenerated the kingdom and strengthened the Jewish religion. He invited Jewish scholars to settle in his dominions, and founded synagogues and schools. The people were instructed in the Bible, Mishnah, and Talmud, and in the 'divine service of the hazzanim.' In their writings the Chazars used the Hebrew letters.
Obadiah was succeeded by his son Hezekiah; the latter by his son Manasseh; Manasseh by Hanukkah, a brother of Obadiah; Hanukkah by his son Isaac; Isaac by his son Moses (or Manasseh II); the latter by his son Nisi; and Nisi by his son Aaron II. King Joseph himself was a son of Aaron, and ascended the throne in accordance with the law of the Chazars relating to succession. On the whole, King Joseph's account agrees generally with the evidence given by the Arabic writers of the tenth century, but in detail it contains a few discrepancies. According to Ibn Fadlan, Ibn Dastah, and others, only the king and the grandees were followers of Judaism. The rest of the Chazars were Christians, Mohammedans, and heathens; and the Jews were in a great minority. According to Mas'udi , the king and the Chazars proper were Jews; but the army consisted of Mohammedans, while the other inhabitants, especially the Slavonians and Russians, were heathen. From the work 'Kitab al-Buldan.' written about the ninth century, it appears as if all the Chazars were Jews and that they had been converted to Judaism only a short time before that book was written. But this work was probably inspired by Jaihani; and it may be assumed that the ninth century many Chazars heathens became Jews, owing to the religious zeal of King Obadiah. 'Such a conversion in great masses,' says Chwolson, 'may have been the reason for the Chazars tot he Byzantine emperor Michael. The report of the embassy reads as follows: 'Quomodo nunc Judæi, nunc Saraceni ad suam fidem eos mollrentur convertere.' .
The history of the kingdom of the Chazars undoubtedly presents one of the most remarkable features of the Middle Ages. surrounded by wild, nomadic peoples, and themselves leading partly a nomadic life, the Chazars enjoyed all the privileges of civilized nations, a well-constituted and tolerant government, a flourishing trade, and a well-disciplined standing army. In a time when fanaticism, ignorance, and anarchy reigned in western Europe, the kingdom of the Chazars could boast of its just and broad-minded administration; and all who were persecuted on the score of their religion found refuge there. There was a supreme court of justice, composed of seven judges, of whom two were Jews, two Mohammedans, and two Christians, in charge of the interests of their respective faiths, with one heathen was appointed for the Slavonians, Russians, and other pagans.
The Jewish population in the entire domain of the Chazars, in the period between the seventh and tenth centuries, must have been considerable. There is no doubt that the Caucasian and other Oriental Jews had lived and carried on business with the Chazars long before the arrival of the Jewish fugitives from Greece, who escaped (723) from the mania for conversion which possessed the Byzantine emperor Leo the Isaurian. From the correspondence between King Joseph and Hasdai it is apparent that two Spanish Jews, Judah ben Meïr ben Nathan and Joseph Gagris, had succeeded in settling in the land of the Chazars, and that it was a German Jew, Isaac ben Eliezer 'from the land of Nyemetz' (Germany), who carried Hasdai's letter to the king. Saadia, who had a fair knowledge of the kingdom of the Chazars, mentions a certain Isaac ben Abraham who had removed form Sura to Chazaria.
Among the various routes enumerated by the Arabic geographer Ibn Khurdadhbah (860-880) as being used by the Rahdanite Jewish merchants, there is one leading from Spain or France, via Allemania, through the land of the Slavonians, close by Atel, the capital of the Chazars, whence they crossed the Sea of the Chazars (Caspian Sea) and continued their voyage, via Raikh, Transoxania, and the land of the Tagasga, to India and China. These merchants, who spoke Arabic, Persian, Greek, Spanish, French, and Slavonic, 'traveled continuously from west to east from east to west by sea and by land.' They carried eunuchs, serving-maids, boys, silks, furs swords, imported musk, aloes, camphor, cinnamon, and other products of the Far East.
Hasdai ibn Shaprut, who was foreign minister to Abd al-Rahman, Sultan of Cordova, in his letter to King Joseph of the Chazars (about 960), relates that the first information about that kingdom was communicated to him by envoys from Khorassan, and that their statements were corroborated by the ambassadors form Byzantium. The latter told him that the powerful Chazars were maintaining amicable relations with the Byzantine empire, with which they carried on by sea a trade in fish, skins, and other wares, the voyage from Constantinople occupying fifteen days. Hasdai determined to avail himself of the services of the Byzantine embassy to transmit his letter to the king of the Chazars, and with that view he despatched Isaac ben Nathan with valuable gifts to the emperor, requesting him to aid Isaac in his journey to Chazaria. But the Greeks interposed delays and finally sent Isaac back to Cordova. Hasdai then decided to send his message by way of Jerusalem, Nisibis, Armenia, and Bardaa, but the envoys of the king of the Gebalim (Boleslav I. of Bohemia), who had then just arrived in Cordova, and among them were two Jews, Saul and Joseph, suggested a different plan. They offered to send the letter to Jews living in 'Hungarin' (Hungary), who, in their turn, would transmit it to 'Russ' (Russia), and thence through 'Bulgar' (probably the country of the Bulgarians on the Kuban) to its destination (Atel, the capital of Chazaria). As the envoys guaranteed the safe delivery of the message, Hasdai accepted the proposal. He further expressed his thankfulness that God in His mercy had not deprived the Jews of a deliverer, but had preserved the remnant of the Jewish race.
Taking a keen interest in everything relating to the kingdom of the Chazars, Hasdai begs the king to communicate to him a detailed account of the geography of his country, of its internal constitution, of the customs and occupations of its inhabitants, and especially of the history of his ancestry and of the state. In this letter Hasdai speaks of the tradition according to which the Chazars once dwelt near the Seir (Serir ) Mountains; he refers to the narrative of Eldad ha-Dani, who thought he had discovered the Lost Ten Tribes; and inquires whether the Chazars know anything concerning 'the end of the miracles' (the coming of the Messiah). As to Eldad ha-Dani's unauthenticated account of the Lost Ten Tribes on the River Sambation, it may be interesting to note that, according to Idrisi, the city of Sarmel (Sarkel-on-the-Don) was situated on the River Al-Sabt (Sambat), which is the River Don. The name for Kiev, as given by Constantine Porphyrogenitus, is also Sambatas. These appellations of the River Don and of the city of Kiev point evidently to Jewish-Chazars influences. A complete account of the correspondence between Hasdai and King Joseph has been written by A. Harkavy, one of the leading authorities on the history of the Chazars, from which the following is, in substance, an extract:
The Chazarian correspondence was first published in the work 'Kol-Mebasser' of Isaac 'Akrish (Constantinople, 1577), into whose hands these documents came while on a voyage from Egypt to Constantinople. He published them with the view of proving that even after the destruction of Jerusalem the Jews still had their own country, in accordance with the well-known passage in Genesis xlix.10, 'the septer shall not depart from Judah.'
Among European scholars Johann Buxtorf, the son, was the first to become interested in the Chazarian letters, which he printed together with the text of 'Akrish in his Latin translation of 'Cuzari' (Basel, 11660).
Buxtorf believed that the letters themselves and the entire history of the Chazarian kingdom were but fable, for the reason that no seafarers, merchants, or other travelers had brought any information concerning such a flourishing kingdom as that of the Chazars was repted to be. The learned Orientalist D'Herbelot, misled by a wrong conception of the 'Cuzari' and its relation to the conversion of the Chazars to Judaism, leaves the authenticity of the correspondence an open question. One of the greatest scholars of the 17th century, Samuel Bochart, in his derivation of the name of the Chazars, introduces the account of Joseph ben Gorion (Yosippon), and in his notes to the 'Yubasin' of Zacuto gives information about the Chazarian kingdom and the Sea of the Chazars obtained from the 'Geographia Nubiensis' of the Arabian writer Idrisi. Bochart's views, however, are not important because he had no knowledge of the 'Cuzari' or of the Chazarian letters. All the skeptics of that time and those mentioned below had no knowledge of the facts concerning the Chazars and Chazazrian Judaism as contained in Slavonic Russian sources, or of the 'Acta Sanctorum,' which discusses those sources. It is therefore not surprising that the first author of a comprehensive history of the Jews, Basnage, who in his 'Histoire des Juifs,' v. 336, Rotterdam, 1707, prints the Chazarian letters, has the boldness to declare as idle fancy, not only the kingdom of the Chazars, but even the existence of the Chazarian people, which was invented, he considers, by Jewish boastfulness.
About the same time Dom Augustine Calmet issued his Biblical researches, part of which treats of 'the country whither the Ten Tribes were led away and where the said tribes now live.' Calmet considers Media near the Caspian Sea to be 'the country,' and that it is also identical with 'the country of the Chazars,' which was glorified so much in the rabbinical writings. According to them the czar of the Chazars adopted the Jewish religion in the eighth century. Calmet, however, considers the whole story a fiction.
Baratier, 'the remarkable child,' also considered the story of the Chazars to be only a pleasing novel; but it may serve as an excuse for his opinion that when he wrote his work he was only eleven years of age. The Danish historiographer Frederick Suhm, who in 1779 wrote a remarkable work, for that time, on the Chazars, and who could not free himself from the view of the Hebraists of the time with regard to the letter of King Joseph, was the first to give a decided opinion in favor of the genuineness of the letter of Hasdai. The ignorance of these writers is accounted for by the fact that only at the end of the eighteenth century were translations of the old Arabic writers, Mas'udi, Istakhri, Ibn Haukal, etc., on the Chazars, issued. The first to make use of the testimony of the Arabic writers to corroborate the accounts of the Jewish writers on the Chazars, was the Lithuanian historian Tadeusz Czacki, who had the advantage of using copies of the Arabic manuscripts relating to the subject in the Library of Paris. The Russian historian Karamsin also made use of Mas'udi's information, given in the 'Chrestomathy' of Silvestre de Sacy, and of Abulfeda's researches published in the fifth volume of Busching's 'Historical Magazine.'
The Russian academician Ch. Frähn and the Swedish scholar D'Ohsson collected and published, in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, all the Arabic testimony on the subject of the Chazars known at that time. The authenticity of the letter of King Joseph has, however, since been fully established by the very material which those scholars had at their disposal. Frähn acknowledges the genuineness of Hasdai's letter, but not that of Kink Joseph. In the same way D'Ohsson, although he found the information of the Arabic and Byzantine writers in conformity with the contents of the Chazars letters, could not help doubting its genuineness. This may be explained by the fact that as they did not understand Hebrew they did not care to commit themselves on a question which lay outside of their field of investigation.
But the Jewish scholars had no doubts whatever as to the genuineness of the critical school of Rapoport and Zunz. They were made use of by many writers in Spain in the twelfth century; as, for instance, by Judah ha-Levi (1140), who displayed a close acquaintance with the contents of King Joseph's epistle, and by the historian Abraham ibn Daud of Toledo (1160), who distinctly refers to the same letter.
Later on, with the persecutions which ended with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, the Chazarian documents, together with many other treasures of medieval Jewish literature, were lost to the learned, and were not recovered until the end of the sixteenth century, when they were found in Egypt by Isaac 'Akrish.
The Jews of that time took little interest, however, in the history of the past, being absorbed by the cheerless events of their own epoch. The first reference, therefore, to the Chazars letters is by Rabbi Bacharach of Worms, in 1679, who discovered proofs of the genuineness of Hasdai's letter in an acrostic in the poem which served as a preface, and which reads as follows: 'I, Hasdai, son of Isaac, son of Ezra ben Shaprut.' This acrostic, however, again remained unnoticed until it was rediscovered by Frensdorf, independently of Bacharach, in 1836. Four years later (1840) the genuineness of Hasdai's letter was absolutely proved by Joseph Zedner. He also acknowledged the authenticity of the chaghan's letter, but did not submit proofs.
At the same time Solomon Munk gave his opinion in favor of the genuineness of both letters. Since then most of the Jewish scholars have adopted his view, including Lebrecht, 1841; Michael Sachs, 1845; S.D. Luzzatto, 1846-50; Z. Frankei, 1852; D. Cassel and H. Jolovicz, 1853, 1959, 1872; Leop. Löw, 1855-74; Hartog, 1857; Jost, 1858; Steinschneider, 1860; Grätz, 1860 and 1871; Harkavy, beginning with 1864; Geiger, 1865; Kraushar, 1866; D. Kaufmann, 1877; and many others. A comparison of Jewish with other sources, especially with Arabic, as far as they were then known, must be credited to E. Carmoly. He began his work with the comparison of the various sources in his 'Revue Orientale' (1840-44). He completed it in 1847. Some useful supplements to Carmoly's works were presented by Paulus Cassel in 1848 and 1877.
The results of these investigations were accepted by the following Christian scholars; Grigoryev, 1834; Schafarik, 1848; Lelevel, 1851-60; Vivien de San Martin, 1851; S. Solovyov, 1851-1874; Byelevski, 1864; Brun, 1866-77; Bilbasov, 1868-71; Kunik, 1874 and 1878; and many others. Still there were some writers who were misled by the earlier opinions, and on the strength of them spoke skeptically of the documents; as Jacob Goldenthal (1848) Dobryakov (1865); and even the historna Ilovahki (1876).
In 960 Atel (or Itil), at that time the capital of the kingdom of the Chazars, was situated about eight miles from the modern astrakhan, on the right bank of the lower Volga, which river was also called 'Atel' or 'Itil.' The meaning of 'Atel' in the Gothic language is 'father' or 'little father,' that of 'Itil' in the Turanian language is 'river;' it is difficult to decide which of these two words gave the river its name. The western part of the city was surrounded by a wall pierced by four gates, of which one led to the river, and by the others to the steppes.
Here was situated the king's palace, which was the only brick building in the city. According to Mas'udi, the city was divided into three parts, the palace of the chaghan standing on an island. The king had twenty-five wives, all of royal blood, and sixty concubines, all famous beauties. Each one dwelt in a separate tent and was watched by a eunuch. The authority of the chaghan was so absolute that during his absence from the capital, even his viceroy, or corrigent (called "isha," or "bek," or "pech"), was powerless. The viceroy had to enter the chaghan's apartments barefooted and with the greatest reverence. He held in his right hand a chip of wood, which he lit when he saluted the chaghan, whereupon he took his seat to the right of the latter, on the throne, which was of gold. The walls of the palace were also gilded, and a golden gate ornamented the palace.
All the other dwellings of the then populous city were insignificant mud huts or felt tents. The position of the chaghan of the Chazars was evidently similar to that of the former mikados of Japan, while the bek, his military corrigent, corresponded to the shoguns of the latter. Emperor Heraclius in 626 concluded a treaty with the chaghan of the Chazars, and Constantine Copronymus, in his description of the embassy of the Chazars (834), states that it was sent by the 'chaghan and the pech.' Ibn Fadlan relates that the king of the Chazars was called the 'great chaghan,' and his deputy 'chaghan-bhoa' ("bey," "beg," or "bek"). The bek led the army, administered the affairs of the country, and appeared among the people; and to him the neighboring kings paid allegiance. It will thus be seen that the extent of the powers of the bek varied with the times. When the chaghan wanted to punish any one, he said, 'God and commit suicide' - a method resembling the Japanese custom of hara-kiri.
The mother of the chaghan resided in the western part of the city, whose eastern part, called 'Chazaran,' was inhabited by merchants of various nationalities. The city and its environs were heavily shaded by trees. The Turkish and the Chazars languages predominated. The entourage of the chaghan, numbering 4,000 men, consisted of representatives of different nationalities. The White Chazars were renowned for their beauty; and according to Demidov, the mountaineers of the Crimea contrasted very favorably with the Nogay Tatars, because they were considerably intermixed with the Chazars and with the equally fine race of the Kumans. Besides the White Chazars, there were also Black Chazars (who were almost as dark as the Hindus), Turkish immigrants, Slavonians, Hunno-Bulgars, Jews, who lived mostly in the cities, and various Caucasian tribes, such as the Abghases, Kabardines, Ossetes, Avares, Lesghians, etc.
The Chazars cultivated rice, millet, fruit, grains, and the vine. They had important fisheries on the Caspian Sea, and the sturgeon constituted the main article of food. The Arabic writer Al-Makdisi remarks: 'In Chazaria there are many sheep, and Jews, and much honey . From the upper Volga they brought down from the Mordvines and Russians honey and valuable furs, which they exported to Africa, Spain, and France. They supplied the market of Constantinople with hides, furs, fish, Indian goods, and articles of luxury. The chaghan and his suite resided in the capital only during the winter months. From the month of Nisan (April) they led a nomadic life in the steppes, returning to the city about the Feast of Hanukkah (December). The estates and vineyards of the chaghan were on the island on which his palace was situated. Another city of the Chazars, Semender, between Atel and Bab al-Abwah, was surrounded by 40,000 vines. It was identical with the modern Tarku, near Petrovsk, which is now inhabited by Jews and Kumyks. The latter are supposed to be descended from the Chazars.
At the Byzantine court the chaghan was held in high esteem. In diplomatic correspondence with him the seal of three solidi was used, which marked him as a potentate of the first rank, above even the pope and the Carlovingian monarchs. Emperor Justinian II., after his flight from Kherson to Doros, took refuge during his exile with the chaghan, and married the chaghan's daughter Irene, who was famous for her beauty (702). Emperor Leo IV., 'the Chazars' (775-780), the son of Constantine, was thus a grandson of the king of the Chazars. From his mother he inherited his mild amiable disposition. Justinian's rival, Bardanes, likewise sought an asylum in Chazaria. Chazarian troops were among the body-guard of the Byzantine imperial court; and they fought for Leo VI against Simeon of Bulgaria in 888.
King Joseph in his letter to Hasdai gives the following account of his kingdom: 'The country up the river is within a four months' journey to the Orient, settled by the following nations who pay tribute to the Chazars: Burtas, Bulgar, Suvar, Arissu, Tzarmius, Ventit, Syever, and Slaviyun. Thence the boundry-line runs to Buarasm as far as the Jordjan. All the inhabitants of the seacoast that live within a month's distance pay tribute to the Chazars. To the south Semender, Bak-Tadlu, and the gates of the Bab al-Abwab are situated on the seashore. Thence the boundary-line extends to the mountains of Azur, Bak-Bagda, Sridi, Kiton, Zunikh, which are very high peaks, and to the Alans as far as the boundary of the Kassa, Kalkial, Takat, Gebul, and the Constantinian Sea. To the west, Sarkel, Samkrtz, Kertz, Sugdai, Aluss, Lambat, Bartnit, Alubika, Kut, Mankup, Budik, Alma, and Grusin - all these western localities are situated on the banks of the Constantinian (Black) Sea. Thence the boundary-line extends to the north, traversing the land of Basa, which is on the River Vaghez. Here on the plains live nomadic tribes, which extend to the frontier of the Gagries, as innumerable as the sands of the sea; and they all pay tribute to the Chazars. The king of the Chazars himself has established his residence at the mouth of the river, in order to guard its entrance and to prevent the Russians from reaching the Caspian Sea, and thus penetrating to the land of the Ishmaelites. In the same way the Chazars bar enemies from the gates of Bab al-Abwab.'
Even the Russian Slavonians of Kiev had, in the ninth century, to pay as yearly tax to the Chazars a sword and the skin of a squirrel for each house. At the end of the eighth century, when the Crimean Goths rebelled against the sovereignty of the Chazars, the latter occupied the Gothic capital, Doros. The Chazars were at first repulsed by the Gothic bishop Joannes; but when he had surrendered, the Goths submitted to the rule of the Chazars.
In the second quarter of the ninth century, when the Chazars were often annoyed by the irruptions of the Petchenegs, Emperoro Theophilus, fearing for the safety of the Byzantine trade with the neighboring nations, despatched his brother-in-law, Petron Kamateros, with materials and workmen to build for the Chazars the fortress Sarkel on the Don (834). Sarkel served as a military post and as a commercial depot for the north.
In the second half of the ninth century the apostle of the Slavonians, Constantine (Cyril), went to the Crimea to spread Christianity among the Chazars. At this time the kingdom of the Chazars stood at the height of its power, and was constantly at war with the Arabian califs and their leaders in Persia and the Caucasus. The Persian Jews hoped that the Chazars might succeed in destroying the califs' country. . The high esteem in which the Chazars were held among the Jews of the Orient may be seen in the application to them - in an Arabic commentary on Isaiah ascribed by some to Saadia, and by others to Benjamin Nahawandi - of Isaiah xlviii.14: 'The Lord hath loved him.' 'This,' says the commentary, 'refers to the Chazars, who will go and destroy Babel' - i.e., Babylonia - a name used to designate the country of the Arabs.
The Chaghan of the Chazars, in their turn, took great interest in and protected their coreligionists, the Jews. When one of the Chaghan received information (c. 921) that the Mohammedans had destroyed a synagogue in the land of Babung, he gave orders that the minaret of the mosque in his capital should be broken off, and the muezzin executed. He declared that he would have destroyed all the mosques in the country had he not been afraid that the Mohammedans would in turn destroy all the synagogues in their lands. In the conquest of Hungary by the Magyars (889) the Chazars rendered considerable assistance. They had, however, settled in Pannonia before the arrival of the Magyars. This is evident from the names of such places as Kozar and Kis-Kozard in the Nógrad, and Great-Kozar and Ráczkozar in the Baranya district.
Mas'udi relates the following particulars concerning the Chazars in connection with Russian invasions of Tabaristan and neighboring countries:
'After the 300 of the Hegira (913-914), five hundred Russian [Northmen's] ships, every one of which had a hundred men on board, came to the estuary of the don, which opens into the Pontus, and is in communication with the river of the Chazars, the Volga. The king of the Chazars keeps a garrison on this side of the estuary with efficient, warlike equipment to exclude any other power from its passage. The king of the Chazars himself frequently takes the field against them if this garrison is too weak.
When the Russian vessels reached the fort they sent to the king of the Chazars to ask his permission to pass through his dominions, promising him half the plunder which they might take from the nations who lived on the coast of this sea. He gave them leave. They entered the country, and continuing their voyage up the River Don as far as the river of the Chazars, they went down this river past the town of Atel and entered through its mouth into the sea of the Chazars. They spread over the coast of Jordjan, the Naphtha country, and toward Aderbijan, the town of Ardobil, which is in Aderbijan, and about three days' journey from the sea. The nations on the coast had no means of repelling the Russians, although they put themselves in a state of defense; for the inhabitants of the coast of this sea are well civilized. When the Russians had secured their booty and captives, they sailed to the mouth of the river of the Chazars and sent messengers with money and spoils to the king, in conformity with the stipulations they had made. The Larissians and other Moslems in the country of the Chazars heard of the attack of the Russians, and they said to their king: 'The Russians have invaded the country of our Moslem brothers; they have shed their blood and made their wives and children captives, as they are unable to resist; permit us to oppose them.' The Moslem army, which numbered about 15,000, took the field and fought for three days. The Russians were put to the sword, many being drowned, and only 5,000 escaping. These were slain by the Burtas and by the Moslems of Targhiz. The Russians did not make a similar attempt after that year.' ...
Five years after the correspondence between the king of the Chazars and Hasdai ibn Sharprut (965) the Russian prince Swyatoslaw made war upon the Chazars, apparently for the possession of Taurida and Taman. The Russians had already freed from the rule of the Chazars a part of the Black Bulgars, and had established a separate Russian duchy under the name of 'Tmutrakan;' but in the Crimean peninsula the Chazars still had possessions, and from the Caucasian side the Russian Tmutrakan suffered from the irruption of the Kossogian and Karbardine princes, who were tributary to the chaghan of the Chazars. The fortress of Sarkel and the city of Atel were the chief obstacles to Russian predatory expeditions on the Caspian Sea. After a hard fight the Russians conquered the Chazars. Swyatoslaw destroyed Sarkel (Alans), and so strengthened the position of the Russian Tmutrakan. They destroyed the city of Bulgar, devastated the country of the Burtas, and took possession of Atel and Semender.
Four years later the Russian conquered all the Chazarian territory east of the Sea of Azov. Only the Crimean territory of the Chazars remained in their possession until 1016, when they were dispossessed by a joint expedition of Russians and Byzantines. The last of the Chaghan, George Tzula, was taken prisoner; some of the Chazars took refuge in an island of the Caspian, Slahcouye; others returned to the Caucasus; while many were sent as prisoners of war to Kiev, where a Chazars community had long existed. Many intermingled in the Crimea with the local Jews; the Krimtschaki are probably their descendants - perhaps some of the Subbotniki also.
Some went to Hungary, but the great mass of the people remained in their native country. Many members of the Chazarian royal family emigrated to Spain. Until the thirteenth century the Crimea was known to European travelers as 'Gazaria,' the Italian form of 'Chazaria.'"
Albert Pike, quoting from Transcendental Magic, sums up the importance of Kabbalism as a key to Masonic esotericism: "One is filled with admiration, on penetrating into the Sanctuary of the Kabbalah, at seeing a doctrine so logical, so simple, and at the same time so absolute. The necessary union of ideas and signs, the consecration of the most fundamental realities by the primitive characters; the Trinity of Words, Letters, and Numbers; a philosophy simple as the alphabet, profound and infinite as the Word; theorems more complete and luminous than those of Pythagoras; theology summed up by counting on one's fingers; an Infinite which can be held in the hollow of an infant's hand; ten ciphers and twenty- two letters, a triangle, a square, and a circle, these are the elements of the Kabbalah. These are the elementary principles of the written Word, reflection of that spoken Word that created the world!"
Hebrew theology was divided into three distinct parts. The first was the law, the second was the soul of the law, and the third was to soul of the soul of the law. The law was taught to all the children of the Jews; the Mishnah, or the soul of the law, was revealed to the rabbins and teachers; but the Kabbalah, the soul of the soul of the law, was cunningly concealed, and only the highest initiates among the Jews were instructed in its secret principles.
According to certain Jewish mystics, Moses ascended Mount Sinai three times, remaining the presence of God forty days each time. During the first forty days the tables of the written law were delivered to the prophet; during the second forty days he received the soul of the law; and during the last forty days God instructed him in the mysteries of the Kabbalah, the soul of the soul of the law. Moses concealed in the first four books of the Pentateuch the secret instructions that God had given him, and for centuries students therein the secret doctrine of Israel.
As the spiritual nature of man is concealed in his physical body, so the unwritten law, the Mishnah and the Kabbalah, is concealed within the written teachings of the Mosaic code. Kabbalah means the secret or hidden tradition, the unwritten law, and according to an early Rabbi, it was delivered to man in order that through the aid of its abstruse principles he might learn to understand the mystery of both the universe about him and the universe within him.
The origin of Kabbalism is a legitimate subject for controversy. Early initiates of the Kabbalistic Mysteries believed that its principles were first taught by God to a school of His angels before the fall of man. The angels later communicated the secrets to Adam, so that through the knowledge gained from an understanding of its principles fallen humanity might regain its lost estate. The Angel Razielk was dispatched from heaven to instruct Adam in the mysteries of the Kabbalah. Different angels were employed to initiate the succeeding patriarches in this difficult science. Tophiel was the teacher of Shem, Raphale of Isaac, Metatron of Moses, and Michael of David.
Christian D. Ginsburg has written: "From Adam it passed over to Noah, and then to Abraham, the friend of God, who emigrated with it to Egypt, where the patriarch allowed a portion of this mysterious doctrine to ooze out. It was in this way that the Egyptians obtained some knowledge of it, and the other Eastern nations could introduce it into their philosophical systems. Moses, who was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, was first initiated into it in the land of his birth, but became most proficient in it during his wanderings in the wilderness, when he not only devoted to it the leisure hours of the whole forty years, but received lessons in it from one of the angels...Moses also initiated the seventy Elders into the secrets of this doctrine and they again transmitted them from hand to hand. Of all who formed the unbroken line of tradition, David and Solomon were most initiated into the Kabbalah."
According to Eliphas Levi, the three greatest books of Kabbalism are the Sepher Yetzirah, The Book of Formation; the Sepher ha Zohar, The Book of Splendor; and the Apocalypse, The Book of Revelation. The dates of the writing of these books are by no means thoroughly established. Kabbalists declare that the Sepher Yetzirah was written by Abraham. Although it is by far the oldest of the Kabbalist books, it was probably from the pen of the Rabbi Akiba, A.D. 120.
The Sepher ha Zohar presumably was written by Simeon ben Jochai, a disciple of Akiba. Rabbi Simeon was sentenced to death about A.D. 161 by Lucius Verus, co-regent of the Emperor Marc Aurelius Antoninus. He escaped with his son and, hiding in a cave, transcribed the manuscript of the Zohar with the assistance of Elias, who appeared to them at intervals. Simeon was twelve years in the cave, during which time he evolved the complicated symbolism of the "Greater Face" and the "Lesser Face."
While discoursing with disciples Rabbi Simeon expired, and the "Lamp of Israel" was extinguished. His death and burial were accompanied by many supernatural phenomena. The legend goes on to relate that the secret doctrines of Kabbalism had been in existence since the beginning of the world, but that Rabbi Simeon was the first man permitted to reduce them to writing. Twelve hundred years later the books which he had compiled were discovered and published for the benefit of humanity by Moses de Leon. The probability is that Moses de Leon himself compiled the Zohar about A.D. 1305, drawing his material from the unwritten secrets of earlier Jewish mystics. The Apocalypse, accredited to St. John the Divine, is also of uncertain date, and the identity of its author has never been satisfactorily proved.
Because of its brevity and because it is the key to Kabbalistic thought, the Sepher Yetzirah is reproduced in full in this chapter. So far as is among many nations it was customary to spread the arms in prayer has influenced the symbolism of the cross, which, because of its shape, has come to be regarded as emblematic of the human body.
The four major divisions of the human structure, bones, muscles, nerves, and arteries, are considered to have contributed to the symbolism of the cross. This is especially due to the fact that the spinal nerves cross at the base of the spine, and is a reminder that "Our Lord was crucified also in Egypt." Man has four vehicles (or mediums) of expression by means of which the spiritual Ego contacts the external universe: the physical nature, the vital nature, the emotional nature, and the mental nature. Each of these partakes in principle of one of the primary elements, and the four creatures assigned to them by the Kabbalists caused the cross to be symbolic of the compound nature of man.
The Kabbalah The Blood And Bond of Judaism
The Jews= False Teachings About God
A system of religious philosophy, or more properly of theosophy, which has not only exercised for hundreds of years an extraordinary influence on the mental development of the Jews, but has captivated the minds of some of the greatest thinkers of Christendom in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, claims the greatest attention of both the philosopher and the theologian. As taken from the Talmudic Book Sepher ha Zohar.
When it is added that among its captives were Raymond Lully, the celebrated scholastic, metaphysician and chemist (died 1315); John Reuchlin, the renowned scholar and reviver of oriental literature in Europe (born 1455, died 1522); John Picus di Mirandola, the famous philosopher and classical scholar (1463-149); Cornelius Henry Agrippa, the distinguished philosopher, divine and physician (1486-1535); John Baptist von Helmont, a remarkable chemist and physician (1577-1644); as well as our own countrymen Robet Fludd, the famous physician and philosopher (1574-1637), and Dr. Henry More (1614-1687); and that these men, after restlessly searching for a scientific system which should disclose to them "the deepest depths" of the Divine nature, and show them the real tie which binds all things together, found the cravings of their minds satisfied by this theosophy, the claims of the Kabbalah (Cabala) on the attention of students in literature and philosophy will readily be admitted. The claims of the Kabbalah, however, are not restricted to the literary man and the philosopher: the poet too will find in it ample materials for the exercise of his lofty genius.
How can it be otherwise with a theosophy which, we are assured, was born of God in Paradise, was nursed and reared by the choicest of the angelic hosts in heaven, and only held converse with the holiest of man's children upon earth. Listen to the story of its birth, growth and maturity, as told by its followers.
The Kaballah Was First Taught By God
The Jews say, the Kabbalah was first taught by God Himself to a select company of angels, who formed a theosophic school in Paradise. After the fall the angels most graciously communicated this heavenly doctrine to the disobedient children of earth, to furnish the protoplasts with the means of returning to their pristine nobility and felicity. From Adam it passed over to Noah, and then to Abraham, the friend of God, who emigrated with it to Egypt, where the patriarch allowed a portion of this mysterious doctrine to ooze out. It was in this way that the Egyptians obtained some knowledge of it, and the other Eastern nations could introduce it into their philosophical systems. Moses, who was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, was first initiated into it in the land of his birth, but become most proficient in it during his wanderings in the wilderness, when he not only devoted to it the leisure hours of the whole forty years, but received lessons in it from the one of the angels.
So we can clearly see that the Kabbalah (Cabala) is a lie from the very beginning. However, continuing on: By the aid of this mysterious science the lawgiver was enabled to solve the difficulties which arose during his management of the Israelites, in spite of the pilgrimages, wars and the frequent miseries of the nation. He covertly laid down the principles of this secret doctrine in the first four books of the Pentateuch, but withheld them from Deuteronomy. This constitutes the former the man, and the latter the woman. Moses also initiated the seventy elders into the secrets of this doctrine, and they again transmitted them from hand to hand.
Of all who formed the unbroken line of tradition, David and Solomon were most initiated into the Kabbalah. No one, however, dared to write it down, till Simon ben Jochai, who lived at the time of the destruction of the second Temple.
Having been condemned to death by Titus, Rabbi Simon managed to escape with his son and concealed himself in a cavern where he remained for twelve years. Here, in this subterranean abode, he occupied himself entirely with the contemplation of the sublime Kabbalah, and was constantly visited by the Prophet Elasis, who disclosed to him some of its secrets which were still concealed from the theosophical Rabbi. "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish."
Here, too, his disciples resorted to be initiated by their master into these divine mysteries; and here, Simon ben Jochai expired with this heavenly doctrine in his mouth, whilst discoursing on it to his disciples. Scarcely had his spirit departed, when a dazzling light filled the cavern, so that no one could look at the Rabbi; whilst a burning fire appeared outside, forming as it were a sentinel at the entrance of the cave, and denying admittance to the neighbors.
It was not till the light inside, and the fire outside, had disappeared, that the disciples perceived that the lamp of Israel was extinguished. As they were preparing for his obsequious, a voice was heard from heaven, saying, "Come ye to the marriage of Simon b. Jochai, he is entering into peace, and shall rest in his chamber!" "And Jesus answering said...For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven."
For a second witness: "And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage."
A flame preceded the coffin, which seemed enveloped by, and burning like fire. And when the remains were deposited in the tomb, another voice was heard from heaven, saying, "This is he who caused the earth to quake, and the kingdoms to shake!"
Here the Jews claim the rabbi has the power of God by distorting the following verses from the Bible: "God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth; the Lord revengeth, and is furious...The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him."
But God tells us, that the Jews are Lucifer, the Devil and Satan's children, when He tells us: "Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at they coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations...How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God [Israelites]: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, is this the man that made the earth to tremble [Quake], that did shake kingdoms."
His son, R. Eliezer, and his secretary, R. Abba, as well as his disciples, then collated R. Simon b. Jochai's treatises, and out of these composed the celebrated work called Sohar [Splendor], which is the grand storehouse of Kabbalism. From what has been said, it will be seen that the followers of this secret doctrine claim for it a pre-Adamite existence, and maintain that, ever since the creation of the first man, it has been received uninterruptedly from the hands of the patriarchs, the prophets, etc. It is for this reason that it is called Kabbalah (Cabala) [from to receive] which primarily denotes reception, and then a doctrine received by oral tradition.
The Kabbalah is also called by some Secret Wisdom, because it was only handed down by tradition through the initiated, and is indicated in the Hebrew Scriptures by signs which are hidden and unintelligible to those who have not been instructed in its mysteries. From the initial letters of this name, this theosophic system is also denominated Grace. Vague and indefinite as this name may seem to the uninitiated, inasmuch as it conveys no idea whatever of the peculiar doctrines of the system, but simply indicates the manner in which they have been transmitted, it is nevertheless the classical and acknowledged appellation of this theosophy.
The difference between the word Kabbalah (reception) and the cognate term Massorah (tradition, from to transmit) which denotes the traditionally transmitted various readings of the Hebrew Scriptures, is, that the former expresses the act of receiving, which in this technical sense could only be on the part of one who has reached a certain period of life, as well as a certain state of sanctity, implying also a degree of secrecy; whilst the latter signifies the act of giving over, surrendering, without premising any peculiar age, stage of holiness, or degree of secrecy. The name, therefore, tells us no more than that this theosophy has been received traditionally. To ascertain its tenets we must analyze the system itself or the books which propound it; and to this task we now betake ourselves.
The Cardinal Doctrines of The Kabbalah (Cabala)
The cardinal doctrines of the Kabbalah are mainly designed to solve the grand problems about (1) the nature of the Supreme Being, (2) The cosmogony, (3) The creation of angels and man, (4) The destiny of man and the universe, and (5) To point out the import of the Revealed Law. Assenting and consenting to the declarations of the Hebrew Scriptures about the unit of God, his incorporation, eternity, immutability, perfection, infinite goodness, the creation of the world in time according to God's free will, the moral government of the universe and special providence, and to the creation of man in the image of God, the Kabbalah seeks to explain the transition from the infinite to the finite; the procedure of multifariousness from an absolute unity, and of matter from a pure intelligence; the operation of pure intelligence upon matter, in spite of the infinite gulf between them; the relationship of the Creator to the creature, so as to be able to exercise supervision and providence.
It, moreover, endeavors to show how it is that the Bible gives names and assigns attributes and a form to so spiritual a Being; how the existence of evil is compatible with the infinite goodness of God, and what is the Divine intention about this creation. In our analysis of the Kabbalistic doctrines on these grand problems, we shall follow the order in which they have been enumerated, and accordingly begin with the lucubrations on the Supreme Being and the Emanations.
1). The Supreme Being and the doctrine and classification of the Emanations, or Sephiroth.
Being boundless in his nature, which necessarily implies that hie is an absolute unity and inscrutable, and that there is nothing without him, or that the ròpâv is in him, God is called En Soph == äpeipoç Endless, Boundless.
In this boundlessness, or as the En Soph, he cannot be comprehended by the intellect, nor described in words, for there is nothing which can grasp and depict him to us, and as such he is, in a certain sense, not existence, because, as far as our minds are concerned, that which is perfectly incomprehensible does not exit. To make his existence perceptible, and to render himself comprehensible, the En Soph, or the Boundless, had to become active and creative. But the En Soph cannot be the direct creator, for he has neither will, intention, desire, thought, language, nor action, as these properties imply limit and belong to finite beings, whereas the En Soph is boundless.
Besides, the imperfect and circumscribed nature of the creation precludes the idea that the world was created or even designed by him, who can have no will nor produce anything but what is like himself, boundless and perfect. On the other hand, again, the beautiful design displayed in the mechanism, the regular order manifested in the preservation, destruction, and renewal of things, forbid us to regard this world as the offspring of chance, and constrain us to recognize therein an intelligent design.
[Yet] We are, therefore, compelled to view the En Soph as the creator of the world in an indirect manner. Now, the medium by which the En Soph made his existence known in the creation of the world are ten Sephiroth or intelligences, which emanated from the Boundless One in the following manner: At first the En Soph, or the Aged of the Aged or the Holy Aged, as he is alternately called, sent forth from his infinite light one spiritual substance or intelligence. This first Sephira, which existed in the En Soph from all eternity, and became a reality by a mere act, has no less than seven appellations. It is called:
(1) The Crown, because it occupies the highest position;
(2) The Aged, because it is the oldest or the first emanation, and this name must not be confounded with the Aged of the Aged, which as we have seen, is the appellation of the En Soph;
(3) The Primordial Point, or the Smooth Point, because, as the Sohar tells us, "When the Concealed of the Concealed wished to reveal himself, he first made a single point: the Infinite was entirely unknown, and diffused no light before this luminous point violently broke through into vision;"
(4) The White Head;
(5) The Long Face, Macroprosopon, because the whole ten Sephiroth represent the Primordial or the Heavenly Man, of which the first Sephira is the head;
(6) The Inscrutable Height, because it is the highest of all the Sephiroth proceeding immediately from the En Soph. Hence, on the passage, "Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold the King of Peace with the Crown!"
The Sohar remarks, "But who can behold the King of Peace, seeing that He is incomprehensible, even to the heavenly hosts? But he who sees the Crown sees the glory of the King of Peace."
(7) It is expressed in the Bible by the Divine name Ehejeh, or I Am, because it is absolute being, representing the Infinite as distinguished from the finite, and in the angelic order, by the celestial beasts of Ezekiel, called Chajoth.
The first Sephira contained the other nine Sephiroth, and gave rise to them in the following order: At first a masculine or active potency, designated Wisdom, proceeded from it. This Sephira, which among the divine names is represented by Jah, and among the angelic hosts by Ophanim (Wheels), sent forth an opposite, feminine or passive, potency, denominated Intelligence, which is represented by the divine name Jehovah, and angelic name Arelim, and it is from a union of those two Sephiroth, which are also called Father and Mother, that the remaining seven Sephiroth proceeded.
Or, as the Sohar expresses it, "When the Holy Aged, the Concealed of all Concealed, assumed a form, he produced everything in the form of male and female, as the things could not continue in any other form. Hence Wisdom, which is the beginning of development, when it proceeded from the Holy Aged, emanated in male and female, for Wisdom expanded, and Intelligence proceeded from it, and thus obtained male and female vis., Wisdom, the father, and Intelligence, the mother, from whose union the other pairs of Sephiroth successively emanated. These two opposite potencies vis., Wisdom and Intelligence are joined together by the first potency, the Crown; thus yielding the first triad of the Sephiroth. From the junction of the foregoing opposites emanated again the masculine or active potency, denominated Mercy or Love, also called Greatness, the fourth Sephira, which among the divine names is represented by El, and among the angelic hosts by Chashmalin.@
From this again emanated the feminine or passive potency, Justice, also called Judicial Power, the fifth Sephira, which is represented by the divine name Eloha, and among the angels by Seraphim; and from this again the uniting potency, Beauty or Mildness, the sixth Sephira, represented by the divine name Elohim, and among the angels by Shinanim.
Since without this union the existence of things would not be possible, inasmuch as mercy not tempered with justice, and justice not tempered with mercy would be unendurable: and thus the second trinity of the Sephiroth is obtained.The medium of union of the second trinity, Beauty, the sixth Sephira, beamed forth the masculine or active potency, Firmness, the seventh Sephira, corresponding to the divine name Jehovah Sabaoth, and among the angels to Tarshishim; this again gave rise to the feminine or passive potency, Splendor, the eighth Sephira, to which answer the divine name Elohim Sabaoth, and among the angels Benei Elohim; and from it again, emanated Foundation or the Basis, the ninth Sephira, represented by the divine name El Chai, and among the angelic hosts by Ishim, which is the uniting point between these two opposites, thus yielding the third trinity of Sephiroth.
From the ninth Sephira, the Basis of all, emanated the tenth, called Kingdom, and Shechinah, which is represented by the divine name Adonai, and among the angelic hosts by Cherubim. The table on the opposite page exhibits the different names of the Sephiroth, together with the several names of God and the angels, which correspond to them. From this representation of each triad, as consisting of a threefold principle, viz., the two opposites, masculine and feminine, and the uniting principle, the development of the Sephiroth, and of life generally, is symbolically called the Balance, because the two opposite sexes, are compared with the two opposite scales, and the uniting Sephira is compared with the beam which joins the scales, and indicates its equipoise.
Before we enter into further particulars about the nature, operation, and classification of these Sephiroth, we shall give the Sohar's speculations about the Supreme Being, and its account of the origin of the Sephiroth, and their relationship to the Deity. The prophet Elias having learned in the heavenly college the profound mystery and true import of the words in Isaiah 25-26, A'To whom will ye like me, and shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things,' revealed to R. Simon b. Jochai that God in his absolute nature is unknown and incomprehensible, and hence, in a certain sense, non-existent; that this Who (unknown subject) had to become active and creative, to demonstrate his existence, and that it is only by these works of creation that he made himself known to us. It is therefore the combination of the unknown Who with these visible works that showed him to be God (which is produced by transposed, and united with).
Or, as it is in the language of the Kabbalah; 'Before he gave any shape to this world, before he produced any form, he was alone, without a form and resemblance to anything else. Who then can comprehend him how he was before the creation, since he was formless? Hence it is forbidden to represent him by any form, similitude, or even by his sacred name, by a single letter or a single point; and to this the words 'Ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you ye have not seen anything which you could represent by any form or likeness refer. But after he created the form of the Heavenly Man, he used it as a chariot wherein to descend, and wishes to be called by this form, which is the sacred name Jehovah.
He wishes to be known by his attributes, and each attribute separately; and therefore had himself called the God of Mercy, the God of Justice, Almighty, God of Sabaoth, and the Being. He wishes thereby to make known his nature, and that we should see how his mercy and compassion extend both to the world and to all operations. For if he had not poured out his light upon all his creatures, how could we ever have known him? How could the words be fulfilled, 'The whole earth is full of his glory'?
Woe be to him who compares him with his own attributes! or still worse with the son of man whose foundation is in the dust, who vanishes and is no more! Hence, the form in which we delineate him simply describes each time his dominion over a certain attribute, or over the creatures generally. We cannot understand more of his nature than the attribute expresses.
Hence, when he is divested of all these things, he has neither any attribute nor any similitude or form. The form in which he is generally depicted is to be compared to a very expansive sea; for the waters of the sea are in themselves without a limit or form, and it is only when they spread themselves upon the earth that they assume a form. We can now make the following calculation: the sources of the sea's water and the water stream proceeding there from to spread itself are two.
A great reservoir is then formed, just as if a huge hollow had been dug; this reservoir is called sea, and is the third. The unfathomable deep divides itself into seven streams, resembling seven long vessels. The source, the water stream, the sea and the seven streams make together ten. And when the master breaks the vessels which he has made, the waters return to the source, and then only remain the pieces of these vessels, dried up and without any water. It is in this way that the Cause of Causes gave rise to the ten Sephiroth.
The Crown is the source from which streams forth an infinite light: hence the name En Soph == infinite, by which the highest cause is designated: for it then had neither form nor shape, and there is neither any means whereby to comprehend it, nor a way by which to know it. Hence it is written, 'Seek not out the things that are too hard for thee, neither search the things that are above they strength.@ '
He then made a vessel, as small as a point, like the latter, which is filled from this source (the En Soph). This is the source of wisdom, wisdom itself, after which the Supreme Cause is called 'wise God.' Upon this he made a large vessel like a sea, which is called Intelligence: hence the name 'intelligent God.'
It must, however, be remarked that God is wise, and through himself, for wisdom does not derive its name through itself, but through the wise one who fills it with the light which flows from him, just as intelligence is not comprehended through itself, but through him who is intelligent and fills it with his own substance. God needs only to withdraw himself and it would be dried up. This is also the meaning of the words, 'the waters have disappeared from the sea, and the bed is dry and parched up.'
The sea is finally divided into seven streams, and the seven costly vessels are produced, which are called Greatness, Judicial Strength, Beauty, Firmness, Splendor, Foundation, and Kingdom.
Therefore is he called the Great or the Merciful, the Mighty, the Glorious, the God of victory, the Creator, to whom all praise is due, and the Foundation of all things. Upon the last attribute all the others are based a well as the world.
Finally, he is also the King of the universe, for everything is in his power; he can diminish the number of the vessels, and increase in them the light which streams from them, or reduce it, just as it pleases him."
In another place again the same authority gives the following description of the Deity and the emanation of the Sephiroth. The Aged of the Aged, the Unknown of the Unknown, has a form and yet has no form. He has a form whereby the universe is preserved, and yet has no form, because he [God] cannot be comprehended. When he first assumed the form [of the first Sephira], he caused nine splendid lights to emanate from it, which, shining through it, diffused a bright light in all directions.
Imagine an elevated light sending forth its rays in all directions. Now if we approach it to examine the rays, we understand no more than that they emanate from the said light. So is the Holy Aged an absolute light, but in himself concealed and incomprehensible.
We can only comprehend him through those luminous emanations which again are partly visible and partly concealed. These constitute the sacred name of God.
Four things must be born in mind with regard to the Sephiroth.
(1). That they were not created by, but emanated (from, the En Soph; the difference between creation and emanation being, that in the former a diminution of strength takes place, whilst in the latter this is not the case.
(2). That they form among themselves, and with the En Soph, a strict unity, and simply represent different aspects of one and the same being, just as the different rays which proceed from the light, and which appear different things to the eye, form only different manifestations of one and the same light.
(3). That since they simply differ from each other as the different colors of the same light, all the ten emanations alike partake of the perfections of the En Soph; and,
(4). That, as emanations from the Infinite, the Sephiroth are infinite and perfect like the En Soph, and yet constitute the first finite things. They are infinite and perfect when the En Soph imparts his fullness to them, so that in this respect these ten Sephiroth exactly correspond to the double nature of Christ, his finite and imperfect human nature and his infinite and perfect divine nature.
In their totality and unity These ten Sephiroth are not only denominated the world of Sephiroth and the world of Emanations, but represent and are called the Primordial or Archetypal Man, and the Heavenly Man. In the future, the Crown is the head; Wisdom, the brains; and Intelligence, which united the two and produces the first triad, is the heart or the understanding, thus forming the head. The fourth and fifth Sephiroth, Mercy and Justice, are the two arms of the Lord, the former the right arm and the latter the left, one distributing life and the other death. And the sixth Sephira, Beauty, which united these two opposites and produces the second triad, is the chest; whilst the seventh and eighth Sephiroth, Firmness and Splendor, of the third triad, are the two legs; and Foundation, the ninth Sephira, represents the genital organs, since it denotes the basis and source of all things. Thus it is said, "Every thing will return to its origin just as it proceeded from it. All marrow, all sap, and all power are congregated in this spot. Hence all powers which exist originate through the genital organs." Kingdom, the tenth Sephira, represents the harmony of the whole Archetypal Man. The following is the archetypal figure of the ten Sephiroth.
The Sephiroth The Heavenly Man of The World of Emanations
It is this form which the prophet Ezekiel saw in the mysterious chariot, and of which the earthly man is a faint copy. Moreover, these Sephiroth, as we have already remarked, created the world and all things therein according to their own archetype or in the likeness and similitude of the Heavenly Man or the World of Emanations.
But, before we propound the Kabbalistic doctrine of the creation of the world, it is necessary to describe a second mode in which the trinity of triads in the Sephiroth is represented, and to mention the appellations and offices of the respective triads.
The Triads -- Intellectual World -- Sensuous World -- Material World
Now in looking at the Sephiroth which constitute the first triad, it will be seen that they represent the intellect; hence this triad is called the Intellectual World. The second triad, again, represents moral qualities; hence it is designated the moral or Sensuous World: whilst the third Triad represents power and stability, and hence is designated the Material World. These three aspects in which the En Soph manifested himself are called the Faces (and the two words are identical, the former being pure Aramaic, and the latter from the Greek).
In the arrangement of this trinity of triads, so as to produce what is called the Kabbalistic tree, denominated the Tree of Life, or simply the Tree, the first triad is placed above, the second and third are placed below, in such a manner that the three masculine Sephiroth are on the right, the three feminine on the left, whilst the four uniting Sephiroth occupy the center.
The three Sephiroth on the right, representing the principle of mercy, are called the Pillar of Mercy; the three on the left, representing the principle of rigor, are denominated the Pillar of Judgment; whilst the four Sephiroth in the center, representing mildness, are called the Middle Pillar. Each Sephira composing this trinity of triads is, as it were, a trinity in itself.
(1). It has it own absolute character;
(2) It receives from above; and
(3). It communicates to what is below it.
Hence the remark, "Just as the Sacred Aged is represented by the number three, so are all the other light (Sephiroth) of a three fold nature." Within this trinity in each unit and trinity of triads there is a trinity of units, which must be explained before we can propound the Kabbalistic view of the cosmogony.
We have seen that three of the Sephiroth constitute uniting links between three pairs of opposites, and by this means produce three triads, respectively denominated the Intellectual World, the Sensuous or Moral World, and the Material World, and that these three uniting Sephiroth, together with the one which unites the whole into a common unity, form what is called the Middle Pillar of the Kabbalistic tree. Now from the important position they thus occupy, these Sephiroth are synecdochically used to represent the worlds which by their uniting potency they respectively yield.
Hence the Sephira, Crown, from which the Sephiroth, Wisdom and Intelligence, emanated, and by which they are also united, thus yielding the Intellectual World, is by itself used to designate the Intellectual World. Its own names, however, are not changed in this capacity, and it still continues to be designated by the several appellations mentioned in the description of the first Sephira.
The sixth Sephira, called Beauty, which unites Sephiroth IV (Love) and V (Justice), thus yielding the Sensuous World, is by itself used to denote the Sensuous World, and in this capacity is called the Sacred King, or simply the King; whilst the Sephira called Kingdom, which unites the whole Sephiroth, is here used to represent the Material World, instead of the ninth Sephira, called Foundation, and is in this capacity denominated the Queen or the Matron. Thus we obtain within the trinity of triads a higher trinity of units, viz., the Crown, Beauty, and Kingdom, which represents the potencies of all the Sephiroth.
2). The Creation or the Kabbalistic Cosmogony.
Having arrived at the highest trinity which comprises all the Sephiroth, and which consists of the Crown, the King, and the Queen, we shall be able to enter into the cosmogony of the Kabbalah. Now, it is not the En Soph who created the world, but this trinity, as represented in the combination of the Sephiroth; or rather the creation has arisen from the conjunction of the emanations.
The world was born from the union of the Crowned King and Queen; or, according to the language of the Kabbalah, these opposite sexes of Royalty, who emanated from the En Soph, produced the Universe in their own image. Worlds, we are told, were indeed created before ever the king and queen or the Sephiroth gave birth to the present state of things, but they could not continue, and necessarily perished, because the En Soph had not yet assumed this human form in its completeness, which not only implies a moral and intellectual nature, but, as conditions of development, procreation, and continuance, also comprises sexual opposites. This creation, which aborted and which has been succeeded by the present order of things, is indicated in Genesis 36:41-40.
The Kings of Edom, or the old kings as they are also denominated, who are here said to have reigned before the monarchs of Israel, and are mentioned as having died one after the other, are those primordial worlds which were successively convulsed and destroyed; whilst the sovereigns of Israel denote the King and Queen who emanated from the En Soph, and who have give birth to and perpetuate the present world.
Thus we are told: "Before the Aged of the Aged, the Concealed of the Concealed, expanded into the form of King, the Crown of Crowns [the first Sephira], there was neither beginning nor end. He hewed and incised forms and figures into it [the crown] in the following manner: He spread before him a cover, and carved therein kings [worlds], and marked out their limits and forms, but they could not preserve themselves. Therefore it is written, these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom before there reigned any king over the Children of Israel.' This refers to the primordial kings and primordial Israel. All these were imperfect: he therefore removed them and let them vanish, till he finally descended himself to this cover and assumed a form."
The notion, however, that worlds were created and destroyed prior to the present creation, was propounded in the Midrash long before the existence of the Kabbalah. Thus on the verse, "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good." R. Abahu submits from this we see that the Holy One, blessed be he, had successively created and destroyed sundry worlds before he created the present world, and when he created the present world he said, this pleases me, the previous ones did not please me. This important fact that worlds were created and destroyed prior to the present creation is again and again reiterated in the Sohar. These worlds are compared with sparks which fly out from a red hot iron beaten by a hammer, and which are extinguished according to the distance they are removed from the burning mass.
"There were old worlds," the Sohar tells us, "which perished as soon as they came into existence: were formless, and they were called sparks. Thus the smith when hammering the iron, lets the sparks fly in all directions. These sparks are the primordial worlds, which could not continue, because the Sacred Aged had not as yet assumed his form [of opposite sexes -- the King and Queen], and the master was not yet at his work."
But since nothing can be annihilated: ANothing perisheth in this world, not even the breath which issues from the mouth, for this, like everything else, has its place and destination, and the Holy One, blessed be his name! turns it into his service;" these worlds could not be absolutely destroyed. Hence when the question is asked: 'Why were these primordial worlds destroyed?' the reply is given: 'Because the Man, represented by the ten Sephiroth, was not as yet. The human form contains everything, and as it did not as yet exist, the worlds were destroyed.'" It is added, "Still when it is said that they perished, it is only meant thereby that they lacked the true form, till the human form came into being, in which all things are comprised, and which also contains all those forms. Hence, though the Scripture ascribes death to the kings of Edom, it only denotes a sinking down from their dignity, the worlds up to that time did not answer to the Divine idea, since they had not as yet the perfect form of which they were capable."
The Jews Believe God is Both King and Queen!
It was therefore after the destruction of previous worlds, and after the En Soph or the Boundless assumed the Sephiric form, that the present world was created. "The Holy One, blessed be he, created and destroyed several worlds before the present one was made, and when this last work was nigh completion, all the things of this world, all the creatures of the universe, in whatever age they were to exist, before ever they entered into this world, were present before God in their true form. Thus are the words of Ecclesiastes to be understood 'What was, shall be, and what has been done, shall be done.'" ; "The lower world is made after the pattern of the upper world; every thing which exists in the upper world is to be found as it were in a copy upon earth; still the whole is one."
This world, however, is not a creation ex nihilo, but is simply an immanent offspring and the image of the King and Queen, or, in other words, a farther expansion or evolution of the Sephiroth which are the emanations of the En Soph.
This is expressed in the Sohar in the following passage: "The indivisible point [the Absolute], who has no limit, and who cannot be comprehended because of his purity and brightness, expanded from without, and formed a brightness which served as a covering to the indivisible point, yet it too could not be viewed in consequence of its immeasurable light. It too expanded from without, and this expansion was its garment. Thus everything originated through a constant upheaving agitation, and thus finally the world originated."
The universe therefore is an immanent emanation from the Sephiroth, and reveals and makes visible the Boundless and the concealed of the concealed. And though it exhibits the Deity in less splendor than its parents the Sephiroth, because it is further removed from the primordial source of light, yet, as it is God manifested, all the multifarious forms in the world point out the unity which they represent; and nothing in it can be destroyed, but everything must return to the source whence it emanated. Hence it is said that, "all things of which this world consists, spirit as well as body, will return to their principal, and the root from which they proceeded." ; "He is the beginning and end of all the degrees in the creation. All these degrees are stamped with his seal, and he cannot be otherwise described than by the unity. He is one, notwithstanding, the innumerable forms which are in him."
The Jews Believe in More than Thirty Gods!
Now these Sephiroth, or the world of emanations, or the atzilatic world, gave birth to three worlds in the following order: From the conjunction [copulation] of the king and queen, or the Briatic world, also called the throne, which is the abode of pure spirits, and which, like its parents, consists of Ten Sephiroth, or Emanations.
The Briatic World, again, gave rise to, (2). The Word of Formation, or the Jetziratic World, which is the habitation of the angels, and also consists of ten Sephiroth; whilst the Jetziratic World, again, sent forth. (3). The World of Action, or the Assiatic World, also called the World of Keliphoth, which contains the Spheres and matter, and is the residence of the Prince of Darkness and his legions.
Or, as the Sohar describes it: "After the Sephiroth, and for their use, God made the Throne (the world of Creation), with four legs and six steps, thus making ten (the decade of Sephiroth which each world has)...For this Throne and its service he formed the ten Angelic hosts (the World of Formation), Malachim, Arelim, Chajoth, Ophanim, Chashmalim, Elim, Elohim, Benei Elohim, Ishim, and Seraphim, and for their service, again, he made Samaël and his legions (the World of Action), who are, as it were, the clouds upon which the angels ride in their descent on the earth, and serve, as it were, for their horses. Hence it is written: 'Behold the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt.'"
There are, therefore, four worlds, each of which has a separate Sephiric system, consisting of a decade of emanations.
(1). The Atzilatic World, called alternately the World of Emanations, the Image (== with prefixed), and the Heavenly Man, which, by virtue of its being a direct emanation from God and most intimately allied with the Deity, is perfect and immutable.
(2). The Briatic World, called the World of Creation and the Throne which is the immediate emanation of the former, and whose ten Sephiroth, being further removed from the En Soph, are of a more limited and circumscribed potency, through the substances they comprise are of the purest nature and without any admixture of matter.
(3). The Jetziratic World, called the World of Formation and the World of Angels, which proceeded from the former world, and whose ten Sephiroth, though of a still less refined substance than the former, because further removed from the primordial source, are still without matter. It is in this angelic world where those intelligent and incorporeal beings reside, who are wrapped in a luminous garment, and who assume a sensuous form when they appear to man. And;
(4). The Assiatic World, called the World of Action and the World of Matter which emanated from the preceding world, the ten Sephiroth of which are made up of the grosser elements of all the former three worlds, and which has sunk down in consequence of its materiality and heaviness. It substances consist of matter limited by space and perceptible to the senses in a multiplicity of forms. It is subject to constant changes, generations, and corruptions, and is the abode of the Evil Spirit.
Before leaving this doctrine about the creation of the relationship of the Supreme Being to the universe, we must reiterate two things.
(1). Though the trinity of the Sephiroth gave birth to the universe, or, in other words, is an evolution of the emanations, and is thus a further expansion of the Deity itself, it must not be supposed that the Kabbalists believe in a Trinity in our sense of the word. Their view on this subject will best be understood from the following remark in the Sohar: "Whoso wishes to have an insight into the sacred unity, let him consider a flame rising from a burning coal or a burning lamp. He will see first a twofold light, a bright white and a black or blue light; the white light is above, and ascends in a direct light, whilst the blue or dark light is below, and seems as the chair of the former, yet both are so intimately connected together that they constitute only one flame. The seat, however, formed by the blue or dark light, is again connected with the burning matter which is under it again. The white light never changes its color, it always remains white; but various shades are observed in the lower light, whilst the lowest light, moreover, takes two directions, above it is connected with the white light, and below with the burning matter. Now this is constantly consuming itself, and perpetually ascends to the upper light, and thus everything merges into a single unity.
(2). The creation, or the universe, is simply the garment of God woven from the deity=s own substance; or, as Spinoza expresses it, God is the immanent basis of the universe. For although, to reveal himself to us, the Concealed of all the Concealed sent forth the Ten Emanations called The Form of God, Form of the Heavenly man, yet since even this luminous form was too dazzling for our vision, it had to assume another form, or had to put on another garment which consists of the universe. The universe, therefore, or The Visible World, is a further expansion of The Divine Substance, and is called The Kabbalah >The Garment of God.=" Thus we are told, "when the Concealed of all the Concealed wanted to reveal himself, he first made a point [the first Sephira], shaped it into a sacred form [the totality of the Sephiroth], and covered it with a rich and splendid garment that is the world."
(3). The Creation of Angels and Men.
The different worlds which successively emanated from the En Soph and from each other, and which sustain the relationship to the Deity of first, second, third, and fourth generations, are, with the exception of the first (the World of Emanations), inhabited by spiritual beings of various grades. "God animated every part of the firmament with a separate spirit, and forthwith all the heavenly hosts were before him. This is meant by the Psalmist, when he says, 'By the breath of his mouth were made all their hosts.'"
These angels consist of two kinds, good and bad; they have their respective princes, and occupy the three habitable worlds in the following order. As has already been remarked, the first world, or the Archetypal Man, in whose image everything is formed, is occupied by no one else. The angel Metatron occupies the second or the Briatic World, which is the first habitable world; he alone constitutes the world of pure spirits. He is the garment of the visible manifestation of the Deity; his name is numerically equivalent to that of the Lord.
He governs the visible world, preserves the unity, harmony, and the revolutions of all the spheres, planets and heavenly bodies, and is the Captain of the myriads of the angelic hosts who people the second habitable or the Jetziratic World, and who are divided into ten ranks, answering to the ten Sephiroth. Each of these angels is set over a different part of the universe. One has the control of one sphere, another of another heavenly body; one angel has charge of the sun, another of the moon, another of the earth, another of the sea, another of the fire, another of the wind, another of the light, another of the seasons, etc.,; and the question, however, about the doctrine of the Trinity in other passages of the Sohar will be discussed more amply in the sequel, where we shall point out the relation of the Kabbalah to Christianity.
The Kabbalistic description of Metatron is taken from the Jewish angelogy of a much older date than this theosophy. Thus Ben Asai and Ben Soma already regard the divine voice, as Metatron. He is called the Great Teacher, the Teacher of Teachers, and it is for this reason that Enoch, who walked in close communion with God, and taught mankind by his holy example, is said by the Chaldee paraphrase of Jonathan b. Uzziel, to 'have received the name Metatron, the Great Teacher' after he was transplanted. Metatron, moreover, is the Presence Angel, the Angel of the Lord that was sent to go before Israel; he is the visible manifestation of the Deity, for in him is the name of the Lord, his name and that of the Deity are identical, inasmuch as they are of the same numerical value (viz.: and are the same according to the exegetical rule called Gematria, 10 + 4 + 300 = 314; 50 + 6 + 200 + 9 + 9 + 40 = 314.
So exalted is Metatron's position in the ancient Jewish angelology, that we are told that when Elisha b. Abnja, also called Acher, saw this angel who occupies the first position after the Deity, he exclaimed, 'Peradventure, but far be it, there are two supreme powers.' The etymology is greatly disputed; but there is no doubt that it is to be derived from metator, messenger, outrider, way maker, as has been shown by Elias Levita, and is maintained by Cassel.
Sachs rightly remarks that this etymology is fixed by the passage from siphra, the finger of God was the messenger or guide to Moses, and showed him all the land of Israel. The termination has been appended to obtain the same numerical value.
The derivation of it from the angel is immediately under the divine throne, which is maintained by Frank, Graetz and others, has been shown by Frankel and Cassel, to be both contrary to the form of the word and to the description of Metatron. These angels derive their names from the heavenly bodies they respectively guard. Hence one is called Venus, one Mars, one the substance of Heaven, one the angel of light, and another the angel of fire. The demons, constituting the second class of angels, which are the grossest and most deficient of all forms, and are the shells of being, inhabit the third habitable or Assiatic World.
They, too, form ten degrees, answering to the decade of Sephiroth, in which darkness and impurity increase with the descent of each degree. Thus the two first degrees are nothing more than the absence of all visible form and organization, which the Mosaic cosmology describes in the words before the hexahemeron, and which the Septuagint renders.
The third degree is the abode of the darkness which the book of Genesis describes as having in the beginning covered the face of the earth. Whereupon follow seven infernal halls == Hells, occupied by the demons, which are the incarnation of all human vices, and which torture those poor deluded beings who suffered themselves to be led astray in this world. These seven infernal halls are subdivided into endless compartments, as to afford a separate chamber of torture for every species of sin. The prince of this region of darkness, who is called Satan in the Bible, is denominated by the Kabbalah, Samaël == angel of poison or of death. He is the same evil spirit, Satan, the Serpent, who seduced Eve. He has a wife, called the Harlot or the Woman of Whoredom, but they are both generally represented as united in the one name of the Beast.
The whole universe, however, was incomplete, and did not receive its finishing stroke till man was formed, who is the acme of the creation, and the microcosm uniting in himself the totality of beings. "The heavenly Adam (the ten Sephiroth), who emanated from the highest primordial obscurity (the En Soph), created the earthly Adam." "Man is both the import and the highest degree of creation, for which reason he was formed on the sixth day. As soon as man was created, everything was complete, including the upper and nether worlds, for everything is comprised in man. He unites in himself all forms."
Man was created with faculties and features far transcending those of the angels. The bodies of the protoplasts were not of that gross matter which constitutes our bodies. Adam and Eve, before the fall, were wrapped in that luminous ethereal, substance in which the celestial spirits are clad, and which is neither subject to want nor to sensual desires. They were envied by the angels of the highest rank. The fall, however, changed it all, as we are told in the following passage: "When Adam dwelled in the garden of Eden, he was dressed in the celestial garment, which is a garment of heavenly light. But when he was expelled from the garden of Eden, and became subject to the wants of this world, what is written? 'The Lord God made coats of skins unto Adam and to his wife, and clothed them'; for prior to this they had garments of light, light of that light which was used in the garden of Eden."
The garments of skin, therefore, mean our present body, which was given to our first parents in order to adapt them to the changes which the fall introduced. But even in the present form, the righteous are above the angels, and every man is still the microcosm, and every member of his body corresponds to a constituent part of the visible universe.
AWhat is man? Is he simply skin, flesh, bones, and veins? No! That which constitutes the real man is the soul, and those things which are called the skin, the flesh, the bones, and the veins, all these are merely a garment, they are simply the clothes of the man, but not the man himself. When man departs, he puts off these garments wherewith the son of man is clothed. Yet are all these bones and sinews formed in the secret of the highest wisdom, after the heavenly image.
The skin represents the firmament, which extends everywhere, and covers everything like a garment, as it is written, 'Who strethest out the heavens like a curtain.' The flesh represents the deteriorated part of the world ...the bones and the veins represent the heavenly chariot, the inner powers, the servants of God...But these are the outer garments, for in the inward part is the deep mystery of the heavenly man. Everything here below, as above, is mysterious.
Therefore it is written: 'God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him'; repeating the word God twice, one for the man and the other for the woman. The mystery of the earthly man is after the mystery of the Heavenly man.
And just as we see in the firmament above, covering all things, different signs which are formed of the stars and planets, and which contain secret things and profound mysteries, studied by those who are wise and expert in these signs; so there are in the skin, which is the cover of the body of the son of man, and which is like the sky that covers all things, signs and features which are the stars and planets of the skin, indicating secret things and profound mysteries, whereby the wise are attracted, who understand to read the mysteries in the human face."
He is still the presence of god upon earth [this is where the humanist religion was born. That man is god!], and the very form of the body depicts the Tetragrammaton, the most sacred name Jehovah. Thus the head is the form of the arms and the shoulders are like the breast represents the Sephiroth from which it emanates, every soul has ten potencies, which are subdivided into a trinity of triads, and respectively represented by:
(1) The Spirit, which is the highest degree of being, and which both corresponds to and is operated upon by The Crown, representing the highest triad, in the Sephiroth, called the Intellectual World;
(2) The Soul, which is the seat of good and evil, as well as the moral qualities, and which both corresponds to and is operated upon by Beauty, representing the second triad in the Sephiroth, called the Moral World; and
(3) The Cruder Spirit, which is immediately connected with the body, is the direct cause of its lower functions, instincts, and animal life, and which both corresponds to and is operated upon by Foundation, representing the third triad in the Sephiroth, called the Material World.
In its original state each soul is androgynous, and is separated into male and female when it descends on earth to be borne in a human body. We have seen that the souls of the righteous, in the world of spirits, are superior in dignity to the heavenly powers and the ministering angels. It might, therefore, be asked why do these souls leave such as abode of bliss, and come into this vale of tears to dwell in tabernacles of clay?
The only reply to be given is that these happy souls have no choice in the matter. Indeed we are told that the soul, before assuming a human body, addresses God: "Lord of the Universe! I am happy in this world, and do not wish to go into another world, where I shall be a bond-maid, and be exposed to all kinds of pollutions."
And can you wonder at this pitiful ejaculation? Should your philanthropic feelings and your convictions that our heavenly Father ordains all things for the good of his children, impel you to ask that an explanation of this mystery might graciously be vouchsafed to you in order to temper your compassion and calm your faith, then take this parable: "A son was born to a king; he sends him to the country, there to be nursed and brought up till he is grown up, and instructed in the ceremonies and usages of the royal palace. When the king hears that the education of his son is finished, what does his fatherly love impel him to do? For his son=s sake he sends for the Queen his mother, conducts him into the palace and makes merry with him all day.
Thus the Holy One, blessed be he, has a son with the Queen [Here the Jews are saying it is alright for a man to make love with his own mother!]: this is the heavenly and sacred soul. He sends him into the country, that is into this world, therein to grow up and to learn the customs of the court. When the King hears that this his son has grown up in the country, and that it is time to bring him into the palace, what does his love for his son impel him to do? He sends, for his sake, for the Queen and conducts him to the palace."
As has already been remarked, the human soul, before it descends into the world, is androgynous, or in other words, consists of two component parts, each of which comprises all the elements of our spiritual nature. Thus the Sohar tells us: AEach soul and spirit, prior to its entering into this world, consists of a male and female united into one being. When it descends on this earth the two parts separate and animate two different bodies.
At the time of marriage, the Holy One, blessed be he, who knows all souls and spirits, unites them again as they were before, and they again constitute one body and one soul, forming as it were the right and left of one individual; therefore 'There is nothing new under the sun.' This union, however, is influenced by the deeds of the man and by the ways in which he walks. The soul carries her knowledge with her to the earth, so that 'everything which she learns here below she knew already, before she entered into this world.'"
Since the form of the body as well as the soul, is made after the image of the Heavenly Man, a figure of the forth-coming body which is to clothe the newly descending soul, is sent down from the celestial regions, to hover over the couch of the husband and wife when they copulate, in order that the conception may be formed according to this model. "At connubial intercourse on earth, the Holy One, blessed be he, sends a human form which bears the impress of the divine stamp. This form is present at intercourse, and if we were permitted to see it we should perceive over our heads an image resembling a human face; and it is in this image that we are formed. As long as this image is not sent by God and does not descend and hover over our heads, there can be no conception, for it is written: 'And God created man in his own image.'
This image receives us when we enter the world, it develops itself with us when we grow, and accompanies us when we depart this life; as it is written: 'Surely, man walked in an image': and this image is from heaven. When the souls are to leave their heavenly abode, each soul separately appears before the Holy King, dressed in a sublime form, with the features in which it is to appear in this world. It is from this sublime form that the image proceeds. It is the third after the soul, and precedes it on the earth; it is present at the conception, and there is no conception in the world where this image is not present."
All human countenances are divisible into the four primordial types of faces, which appeared at the mysterious chariot throne in the vision of the prophet Ezekiel, viz., the face of man, of the lion, the ox and the eagle. Our faces resemble these more or less according to the rank which our souls occupy in the intellectual or moral dominion; "And physiognomy does not consist in the external lineaments, but in the features which are mysteriously drawn in us. The features in the face change according to the form which is peculiar to the inward face of the spirit. It is the spirit which produces all those physiognomical peculiarities known to the wise; and it is only through the spirit that the features have any meaning. All those spirits and souls which proceed from Eden (the highest wisdom) have a peculiar form, which is reflected in the face."
The face thus lighted up by the peculiar spirit inhabiting the body, in the mirror of the soul; and the formation of the head indicates the character and temper of the man. An arched forehead is a sign of a cheerful and profound spirit, as well as of a distinguished intellect; a broad but flat forehead indicates foolishness and silliness; whilst a forehead which is flat, compressed on the sides and spiral, betokens narrowness of mind and vanity. As a necessary condition of free existence and of moral being, the souls are endowed by the Deity, from the very beginning, with the power of adhering in close proximity to the primordial source of infinite light from the very beginning, with the power of adhering in close proximity to the primordial source of infinite light from which they emanated, and of alienating themselves from that source and pursuing an independent and opposite course. Hence, Simon ben Jochai said, "If the Holy One, blessed be he, had not put within us both the good and the evil desire, which are denominated light and darkness, the created man would have neither virtue nor vice. For this reason it is written: 'Behold, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil.' To this the disciples replied, Wherefore is all this? Would it not be better if reward and punishment had not existed at all, since in that case man would have been incapable of sinning and of doing evil. He rejoined, It was meet and right that he should be created as he was created, because the Law was created for him, wherein are written punishments for the wicked and rewards for the righteous; and there would not have been any reward for the righteous and punishment for the wicked but for created man."
So complete is their independence, that souls, even in their pre-existent state, can and do choose which way they intend to pursue. "All souls which are not guiltless in this world, have already alienated themselves in heaven from the Holy One, blessed be he; they have thrown themselves into an abyss at their very existence, and have anticipated the time when they are to descend on earth...Thus were the souls before they came into this world."
(4). The Destiny of Man and the Universe.
As the En Soph constituted man the microcosm, and as the Deity is reflected in this epitome of the universe more than in any component part of the creation, all things visible and invisible are designed to aid him in passing through his probationary state here below, in gathering that experience for which his soul has been sent down, and in returning in a pure state to that source of light from which his soul emanated. This destiny of man, the reunion with the Deity from which he emanated, is the constant desire both of God and man, and is an essential principle of the soul, underlying its very essence. Discarding that blind power from our nature, which governs our animal life [This is where Darwin got the idea for the origin of the species], which never quits this earth, and which therefore plays no part in our spiritual being, the soul possesses two kinds of powers and two sorts of feelings.
It has the faculty for that extraordinary prophetical knowledge, which was vouchsafed to Moses in an exceptional manner, called the Luminous Mirror (speculator), and the ordinary knowledge termed the Non-Luminous Mirror, respectively represented in the earthly Paradise by the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil; and it possesses the higher feeling of love and the lower feeling of fear. Now the full fruition of that higher knowledge and of that loftier feeling of love can only be reaped when the soul returns to the Infinite Source of Light, and is wrapped in that luminous garment which the protoplasts forfeited throughout the fall.
Thus we are told, "Come and see when the soul reaches that place which is called the Treasury of Life, she enjoys a bright and luminous mirror, which receives its light from the highest heaven. The soul could not bear this light but for the luminous mantle which she put on. For just as the soul, when sent to this earth, puts on an earthly garment to preserve herself here, so she receives above a shining garment, in order to be able to look without injury into the mirror whose light proceeds from the Lord of Light. Moses too could not approach to look into that higher light which he saw, without putting on such an ethereal garment: as it is written: 'And Moses went into the midst of the cloud,= which is to be translated by means of the cloud wherewith he wrapped himself as if dressed in a garment.
At that time Moses almost discarded the whole of his earthly nature; as it is written, 'And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights' (ibid); and he thus approached that dark cloud where God is enthroned. In this wise the departed spirits of the righteous dress themselves in the upper regions in luminous garments, to be able to endure that light which streams from the Lord of Light."
The two feelings of love and fear are designed to aid the soul in achieving her high destiny, when she shall no more look through the dark glass, but see face to face in the presence of the Luminous Mirror, by permeating all acts of obedience and divine worship. And though perfect love, which is serving God purely out of love, like that higher knowledge, is to be man's destiny in heaven, yet the soul may attain some of it on earth, and endeavor to serve God out of love and not from fear, as thereby she will have an antepast on earth of its union with the Deity, which is to be so rapturous and indissoluble in heaven. AYet is the service which arises from fear not to be depreciated, for fear leads to love. it is true that he who obeys God out of love has attained to the highest degree, and already belongs to the saints of the world to come, but it must not be supposed that to worship God out of fear is no worship. Such a service has also its merit, though in this case the union of the soul with the Deity is slight.
There is only one degree which is higher than fear: it is love. In love is the mystery of the divine unity. It is love which unites the higher and lower degrees together; it elevates everything to that position where everything must be one. This is also the mystery of the words, 'Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one God.'"
The Kabbalists and The Ten Sephira
Hence it is that these two principles play so important a part in the devotions and contemplations of the Kabbalists. Love is made to correspond to Mercy, the fourth Sephira, whilst Fear is made to answer to Rigor, the fifth Sephira; and it is asserted that when these two principles are thoroughly combined by the righteous in their divine worship and acts of obedience, the name Jehovah, which comprises these two principles, and which is now rent in twain by the preponderance of sin and disobedience, will be re- united.
Then, and then only will all the souls return to the bosom of the Father of our spirits; then will the restitution of all things take place, and the earth shall be covered with the knowledge of God even as the waters cover the sea. This is the reason why the Kabbalists utter the following prayer prior to the performance of any of the commandments: "For the re-union of the Holy One, blessed be his name, and his Shechinah, I do this in love and fear and love, for the union of the name into a perfect harmony! I pronounce this in the name of all Israel!"
In order to represent this union to the senses the words Fear and Love, are divided, and so placed above each other that they may be read either across or down. When thus fulfilling the commandments the pious not only enjoy a prelibation of that sublime light which shines in heaven, and which will serve them as a garment when they enter into the other world and appear before the Holy One (Sohar, ii, 299b), but become on earth already the habitation of the Sephiroth, and each saint has that Sephira incarnate in him which corresponds to the virtue he most cultivates, or to the feature most predominant in his character.
Among the patriarchs, therefore, who were the most exalted in piety, we find that Love, the fourth Sephira, was incarnate in Abraham; Rigor, the fifth Sephira, in Isaac; Mildness, the sixth Sephira, in Jacob; Firmness, the seventh Sephira, in Moses; Splendor, the eighty Sephira, in Aaron; Foundation, the ninth Sephira, in Joseph; and Kingdom, the tenth Sephira, was incarnate in David.
Hence all the righteous who constitute the emanations, of the ten Sephiroth are divided into three classes corresponding to the three principles or Pillars exhibited in the Kabbalistic Tree, viz.:
(1). The Pillar of Mercy, represented by the Patriarch Abraham;
(2). The Pillar of Justice, represented by Isaac; and,
(3). The Middle Pillar, represented by Jacob, which is the connecting or uniting principle.
It is for this reason that the patriarchs are denominated the Chariot-throne of the Lord. Thus it is said: "All the prophets looked into the Non-Luminous Mirror, whilst our teacher, Moses, looked into the Luminous Mirror."
And again: "Also the divine service which is engendered by fear and not by love, has its merit." But since nothing can be annihilated: "Nothing perisheth in this world, not even the breath which issues from the mouth, for this, like everything else, has its place and destination, and the Holy One, blessed be his name! turns it into his service;' -- these worlds could not be absolutely destroyed. Hence when the question is asked -- 'Why were these primordial worlds destroyed?' the reply is given: 'Because the Man, represented by the ten Sephiroth, was not as yet. The human form contains everything, and as it did not as yet exist, the worlds were destroyed.'@
It is added, "Still when it is said that they perished, it is only meant thereby that they lacked the true form, till the human form came into being, in which all things are comprised, and which also contains all those forms. Hence, though the Scripture ascribes death to the kings of Edom, it only denotes a sinking down from their dignity, the worlds up to that time did not answer to the Divine idea, since they had not as yet the perfect form of which they were capable."
The Heavens and The Earth Created by Letters!
Hence the admonition: "He who has to start on a journey very early, should rise at daybreak, look carefully towards the east, and he will perceive certain signs resembling letters which pierce through the sky and appear above the horizon. These shining forms are those of the Letters Wherewith God Created Heaven and Earth..."
Now since it is an absolute condition of the soul to return to the infinite source from which it emanated, after developing all those perfections, the germs of which are eternally implanted in it; and since some souls do not at once develop these fruits of righteousness, which precludes their immediate reunion with their primordial source, another term of life is vouchsafed to them [This is where the idea of reincarnation came from. It's just another Jewish subterfuge to destroy some unsuspecting persons' faith], so that they may be able to cultivate those virtues which they stifled in their former bodily life, and without which it is impossible for them to return to their heavenly home. Hence, if the soul, in its first assuming a human body and sojourn on earth, fails to acquire that experience for which it descends from heaven, and becomes contaminated by that which is polluting, it must re-inhabit a body again and again till it is able to ascend in a purified state through repeated trials. (This is Buddahism, who believe and worship reincarnation) Thus we are told that, "All souls are subject to transmigration, and men do not know the ways of the Holy One, blessed be he; they do not know that they are brought before the tribunal, both before they enter into this world and after they quit it, they are ignorant of the many transmigrations and secret probations which they have to undergo, and of the number of souls and spirits which enter into this world, and do not return to the palace of the heavenly king. Men do not know how the souls revolve like a stone which is their own from sling; as it is written:-- 'And the souls of thine enemies them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling.' But the time is at hand when these mysteries will be disclosed."
Here we can see how the Jews, again and again distort the Word of God and teach men lies and falsehoods: "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."
The transmigration of the soul into another body, however, is restricted to three times; and if two souls in their third residence in human bodies are still too weak to resist all earthly trammels and to acquire the necessary experience, they are both united and sent into one body, so that they may be able conjointly to learn that which they were too feeble to do separately.
It sometimes, however, happens that it is the singleness and isolation of the soul which is the source of her weakness, and she requires help to pass through her probation. In that case she chooses for a companion a soul which has more strength and better fortune. The stronger of the two then becomes as it were the mother; she carries the sickly one in her bosom, and nurses her from her own substance, just as a woman nurses her child.
Such an association is therefore called pregnancy, because the stronger soul gives as it were life and substance to the weaker companion. According to Josephus, the doctrine of the transmigration of souls into other bodies, was also held by the Pharisees, restricting, however, the metempsychosis to the righteous.
And though the Midrashim and the Talmud are silent about it, yet from Saada's vituperations against it there is no doubt that this doctrine was held among some Jews in the ninth century of the present era.
At all events it is perfectly certain that the karaite Jews firmly believed in it ever since the seventh century. St. Jerome assures us that it was also propounded among the early Christians as an esoteric and traditional doctrine which was entrusted to the select few; and Origen was convinced that it was only by means of this doctrine that certain Scriptural narratives, such as the struggle of Jacob with Esau before their birth, the reference about Jeremiah when still in his mother's womb, and many others, can possibly be explained. With which the history of the creation begins, and which is also the first letter in the word blessing.
Even the archangel of wickedness, or the venomous beast, or Samäel, as he is called, will be restored to his angelic nature and name, inasmuch as he too, like all other beings, proceeded from the same infinite source of all things. The first part of his name, which signifies venom, will then be dropped, and he will retain the second part, which is the common name of all the angels. This, however, will only take place at the advent of Messiah. But his coming is retarded by the very few new souls which enter into the world; as many of the old souls which have already inhabited bodies have to re- enter those bodies which are now born, in consequence of having polluted themselves in their previous bodily existence, and the soul of the Messiah, which, like other souls, has its pre-existence in the world of the Sephiroth, cannot be born till all human souls have passed through their period of probation on this earth, because it is to be the last born one at the end of days.
Reincarnation, or Transmigration of souls, is a doctrine of the Cabala (Kabbala) Generally. Failing to wash off the demons of the hands may turn one into a river, says the Jewish Encyclopedia under "Transmigration of Souls."
The theory is the cause of much degradation in Hinduism. In the Cabala, each soul corresponds to a part of the body of the Adam Kadmon universe, some being "lower" organs, some "higher."
The "dibbuk" or possessing spirit who can only be expelled by a "Baal Shem" wonder-worker came into the Jewish press in 1955 when the dibbuk was alleged to have been seen leaving the body of its unwilling host. The Jewish press all carried the report. "Zoharic elements...crept into the liturgy of the 16th and 17th centuries ...the characteristic features of which were the representation of the highest thoughts by human emblems and human passions, and the use of Erotic terminology to illustrate the relations between man and God, religion being identical with love...sensuous pleasures, and especially intoxication, typify the highest degree of divine love as ecstatic contemplation, while the wine- room represents merely the state through which the human qualities merge or are exalted into those of the Deity."
There is nothing now there that the pagans who consulted the oracles, and indulged in booze and sex degeneracies, to worship the old sex-gods who were the deities of all pagan civilizations, did not have centuries and centuries ago. No wonder the unsparing denunciations of the Prophets have to be "allegorized" away into nothing!
But the Word of God states that Christ: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Thus, again and again the Jews are shown to be liars.
Making the words of Christ ever more true when He said: "Ye [Jews] are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
Returning to the Kabbalah. Then the great Jubilee year will commence, when the whole pleroma of souls, cleaned and purified shall return into the bosom of the Infinite Source; and they shall be in "the Palace which is situate in the secret and most elevated part of heaven, and which is called the Palace of Love."
There the profoundest mysteries are; there dwells the Heavenly King, blessed be he, with the holy souls, and is united with them by a loving kiss. "this kiss is the union of the soul with the substance from which it emanated." Then hell shall disappear; there shall be no more punishment, nor temptation, nor sin: life will be an everlasting feast, a Sabbath without end. Then all souls will be united with the Highest Soul, and supplement each other in the Holy of Holies of the Seven Halls.
Everything will then return to unity and perfection, every thing will be united into one idea, which shall be over, and fill the whole universe. The basis of this idea, however (the light which is concealed in it), will never be fathomed or comprehended; only the idea itself which emanates from it shall be comprehended. In that state the creature will not be distinguished from the Creator, the same idea will illuminate both. Then the soul will rule the universe like God, and what she shall command he will execute. (5). The Kabbalistic view of the Old Testament, and its relation to Christianity. We have already seen that the Kabbalah claims a pre-Adamite existence, and asserts that its mysteries are covertly conveyed in the first four books of the Pentateuch.
Those of us who read the Books of Moses, and cannot discover in them any of the above-mentioned doctrines, will naturally ask for the principles of exegesis whereby these secrets are deduced from or rather introduced into the text.
These principles are laid down in the following declaration: "If the Law simply consisted of ordinary expressions and narratives, e.g., the words of Esau, Hagar, Laban, the ass of Balaam, or of Balaam himself, why should it be called the Law of truth, the perfect Law, the true witness of God? Each word contains a sublime source, each narrative points not only to the single instance in question, but also to generals."
The notion that the creation is a blessing, and that this is indicated in the first letter, is already propounded in the Midrash, as may be seen from the following remark. The reason why the Law begins with Beth, the second letter of the Alphabet, and not with Aleph, the first letter, is that the former is the first letter in the word blessing, while the latter is the first letter in the word accursed. "Woe be to the son of man who says that the Torah (Pentateuch - to the Jew it means Talmud) contains common sayings and ordinary narratives. For, if this were the case, we might in the present day compose a code of doctrines from profane writings which should excite greater respect. If the Law contains ordinary matter, then there are nobler sentiments in profane codes. Let us go and make a selection from them, and we shall be able to compile a far superior code. But every word of the Law has a sublime sense and a heavenly mystery...
Now the spiritual angels had to put on an earthly garment when they descended to this earth; and if they had not put on such a garment, they could neither have remained nor be understood on the earth. And just as it was with the angels so it is with the Law. When it descended on earth, the Law had to put on an earthly garment to be understood by us, and the narratives are its garment. There are some who think that this garment is the real Law, and not the spirit which it clothed, but these have no portion in the world to come; and it is for this reason that David prayed, 'Open thou mine eyes that I may behold the wondrous things out of the Law.'
What is under the garment of the Law? There is the garment which everyone can see; and there are foolish people who, when they see a well-dressed man, think of nothing more worthy that this beautiful garment, and take it for the body, whilst the worth of the body itself consists in the soul. The Law too has a body: this is the commandments, which are called the body of the Law. This body is clothed in garments, which are the ordinary narratives. The fools of this world look at nothing else by this garment, which consists of the narratives in the Law; they do not know any more, and do not understand what is beneath this garment. But those who have more understanding do not look at the garment but at the body beneath it (the moral); whilst the wisest, the servants of the Heavenly King, those who dwelt at Mount Sinai, look at nothing else but the soul (the secret doctrine), which is the root of all the real Law, and these are destined in the world to come to behold the Soul of this Soul (the Deity), which breathes in the Law."
The opinion that the mysteries of the Kabbalah are to be found in the garment of the Pentateuch is still more systematically propounded in the following parable. "Like a beautiful woman, concealed in the interior of her palace, who when her friend and beloved passes by, opens for a moment a secret window and is seen by him alone, and then withdraws herself immediately and disappears for a long time, so the doctrine only shows herself to the chosen (to him who is devoted to her with body and soul); and even to him not always in the same manner.
At first she simply beckons at the passer-by with her hand, and it generally depends upon his understanding this gentle hint. This is the interpretation known by the name. Afterwards she approaches him a little closer, lisps him a few words, but her form is still covered with a thick veil, which his looks cannot penetrate.
She then converses with him with her face covered by a thin veil; this is the enigmatic language. After having thus become accustomed to her society, she at last shews herself face to face and entrusts him with the innermost secrets of her heart. This is the secret of the Law. He who is thus far initiated in the mysteries of the Tora will understand that all those profound secrets are based upon the simply literal sense, and are in harmony with it; and from this literal sense not a single iota is to be taken and nothing to be added to it." This fourfold sense is gradually disclosed to the initiated in the mysteries of the Kabbalah by the application of definite hermeneutical rules, which chiefly affect the letters composing the words. The most prominent of these canons are:
1). Every letter of a word is reduced to its numerical value and the word is explained by another of the same quantity. Thus from the words "Lo! three men stood by him," it is deduced that these three angels were Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, because and lo! three men, and these are Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, are of the same numerical value, as will be seen from the following reduction to their numerical value of both these phrases. 5 + 300 + 300 + 5 + 50 + 5 + 6 == 701 30 + 1 + 20 + 10 + 40 + 6 + 30 + 1 + 30 + 1 + 10 + 200 + 2 + 3 + 30 + 1 + 80 + 200 + 6 == 701 This rule is a metathesis of a Greek word, in the sense of numbers as represented by letters.
2). Every letter of a word is taken as an initial or abbreviation of a word. Thus every letter of the first word in Genesis, is made the initial of a word, and we obtain, in the beginning God saw that Israel would accept the Law. This rule is denominated, from notarius, a shorthand writer, one who among the Romans belonged to that class of writers who abbreviated and used single letters to signify whole words.
3). The initial and final letters of several words are respectively formed into separate words. Thus from the beginnings and ends of the words who shall go up for us to heaven? are obtained circumcision and Jehovah, and inferred that God ordained circumcision as the way to heaven.
4). Two words occurring in the same verse are joined together and made into one. Thus who and these are made into God by transposing.
The words of those verses which are regarded as containing a peculiar recondite meaning are ranged in squares in such a manner as to be read either vertically or boustrophedonally, beginning at the right or left hand. Again the words of several verses are placed over each other, and the letters which stand under each other are formed into new words. As to the relation of the Kabbalah to Christianity, it is maintained that this theosophy propounds the doctrine of the trinity and the sufferings of Messiah. How far this is true may be ascertained from the following passages.
We have already remarked in several places that the daily liturgical declaration about the divine unity is that which is indicated in the Bible, where Jehovah occurs first, then Elohenu, and then again Jehovah, which three together constitute a unity, and for this reason he [Jehovah] is in the said place. But there are three names, and how can they be one? And although we read one, are they really one? Now this revealed by the vision of the Holy Ghost, and when the eyes are closed we get to know that the three are only one. This is also the mystery of the voice. The voice is only one, and yet it consists of three elements, fire [warmth], air [breath], and water [humidity], yet are all these one in the mystery of the voice, and can only be one, three forms which are one. And this is indicated by the voice which man raises [at prayer], thereby to comprehend spiritually the most perfect unity of the En Soph for the finite, since all the three [Jehovah, Elohenu, Jehovah] are read with the same loud voice, which comprises in itself a trinity. And this is the daily confession of the divine unity which, as a mystery, is revealed by the Holy ghost. This unity has been explained in different ways, yet he who understands it in this way is right, and he who understands it in another way is also right. The idea of unity, however formed by us here below, from the mystery of the audible voice which is one, explains the thing.
On another occasion we are informed that R. Eleazar, whilst sitting with his father R. Simeon, was anxious to know how the two names, Jehovah and Elohim, can be interchanged, seeing that the one denotes mercy and the other judgment. Before giving the discussion between the father and the son, it is necessary to remark that whenever the two divine names, Adonai and Jehovah, immediately follow each other, Jehovah is pointed and read Elohim. The reason of this, as it is generally supposed, is to avoid the repetition of Adonai, Adonai, since the Tetragrammaton is otherwise always pointed and read.
The Kabbalah, however, as we shall see, discovers in it a recondite meaning: "R. Eleazar, when sitting before his father R. Simeon, said to him, we have been taught that whenever Elohim sometimes be put for Jehovah, as is the case in those passages wherein Adonai and Jehovah stand together, seeing that the latter denotes mercy in all the passages in which it occurs? To which he replied, Thus it is said in the Scripture, 'Know therefore this day and consider it in thine heart, that Jehovah is Elohim'; and again it is written 'Jehovah is Elohim.' Whereupon he [the son] said, I know this forsooth, that justice is sometimes tempered with mercy and mercy with justice. Quoth he [the father], Come and see that it is so; Jehovah indeed does signify mercy whenever it occurs, but when through sin mercy is changed into justice, then it is written Jehovah, but read Elohim. Now come and see the mystery of the word [Jehovah]. There are three degrees, and each degree exists by itself [in the Deity], although the three together constitute one, they are closely united into one and are inseparable from each other."
We shall only give one more passage bearing on the subject of the Trinity. "He who reads the word One [in the declaration of the divine unity] must pronounce the Aleph quickly, shorten its sound a little, and not pause at all by this letter, and he who obeys this, his life will be lengthened.
Whereupon they [the disciples] said to him [to R. Ilai], he [R. Simeon] has said, There are two, and one is connected with them, and they are three; but in being three they are one. He said to them, those two names, Jehovah Jehovah, are in the declaration 'Hear O Israel', and Elohenu, between them, is united with them as the third, and this is the conclusion which is sealed with the impression of Truth. But when these three combined into a unity, they are one in a single unity."
Indeed one Codex of the Sohar had the following remark on the words "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts"; the first holy refers to the Holy Father; the second to the Holy Son; and the third to the Holy Ghost. This passage, however, is omitted from the present recessions of the Sohar. Some Jewish writers have felt these passages to be so favorable to the doctrine of the Trinity, that they insist upon their being interpolations into the Sohar, whilst other have tried to explain them as referring to the Sephiroth.
As to the atonement of the Messiah for the sins of the people, this is not only propounded in the Sohar, but is given as the explanation of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. "When the righteous are visited with sufferings and afflictions to atone for the sins of the world, it is that they might atone for all the sins of this generation. How is this proved? By all the members of the body. 'When all members suffer, one member is afflicted in order that all may recover. And which of them? The arm. The arm is beaten, the blood is taken from it, and then the recovery of all the members of the body is secured. So it is with the children of the world: they are members of another. When the Holy One, blessed be he, wishes the recovery of the world, he afflicts one righteous from their midst, and for his sake all are healed. How is this shown? it is written: -- 'He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities... and with his stripes we are healed.' 'With his stripes,' healed, as by the wound of bleeding an arm, and with this wound we are healed, it was a healing to each one of us as members of the body."
Spirits Hover About The World
To the same effect is the following passage: "Those souls which tarry in the nether garden of Eden hover about the world, and when they see suffering or patient martyrs and those who suffer for the unity of God, they return and mention it to the Messiah. When they tell the Messiah of the afflictions of Israel in exile, and that the sinners among them do not reflect in order to know their Lord, he raises his voice and weeps because of those sinners, as it is written, 'he is wounded for our transgressions.' Whereupon those souls return and take their place.
In the garden of Eden there is one place which is called the palace of the sick. The Messiah goes into this palace and invokes all the sufferings, pain, and afflictions of Israel to come upon him, and they all come upon him. Now if he did not remove them thus and take them upon himself, no man could endure the sufferings of Israel, due as punishment for transgressing the Law; as it is written: 'Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, etc. When the children of Israel were in the Holy Land they removed all those sufferings and afflictions from the world by their prayers and sacrifices, but now the Messiah removes them from the world."
That these opinions favor, to a certain extent, the doctrines of the Trinity and the Atonement, though not in the orthodox sense, is not only admitted by many of the Jewish literati who are adverse to the Kabbalah, but by some of its friends. Indeed, the very fact that so large a number of Kabbalists have from time to time embraced the Christian faith would of itself show that there must be some sort of affinity between the tenets of the respective systems. Some of these converts occupied the highest position in the Synagogue, both as pious Jews and literary men. We need only specify Paul Ricci, physician to the Emperor Maximilian I; Julius Conrad Otto, author of The Unveiled Secrets, consisting of extracts from the Talmud and the Sohar, to prove the validity of the Christian doctrine (NÜrenberg, 1805); John Stephen Rittengal, grandson of the celebrated Don Isaac Abravanel, and translator of The Book Jetzira, or of Creation, into Latin (Amsterdam, 1642); and Jacob Frank, the great apostle of the Kabbalah in the eighteenth century, whose example in professing Christianity was followed by several thousands of his disciples.
The testimony of these distinguished Kabbalists, which they give in their elaborate works, about the affinity of some of the doctrines of this theosophy with those of Christianity, is by no means to be slighted; and this is fully corroborated by the celebrated Leo di Modena, who, as an orthodox Jew, went so far as to question whether God will ever forgive those who printed the Kabbalistic works.
The use made by some well-meaning Christians of the above-named Kabbalistic canons of interpretation, in controversies with Jews, to prove that the doctrines of Christianity are concealed under the letter of the Old Testament, will now be deprecated by every one who has any regard for the laws of language.
As a literary curiosity, however, we shall give one or two specimens. No less a person than the celebrated Reuchlin would have it that the doctrine of the Trinity is to be found in the first verse of Genesis. He submits, if the Hebrew word, which is translated created, be examined, and if each of the three letters composing this word be taken as the initial of a separate word, we obtain the expressions Son, Spirit, Father, according to Rule 2 (p. 229). Upon the same principle this crudite scholar deduces the first two persons in the Trinity from the words: "the stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner," by dividing the three letters composing the word stone, into Father, Son.
In more recent times we find it maintained that the Arighteousness@ spoken of in Daniel ix, 24, means the Anointed of Jehovah, because the original phrase is by Gematria, == numerical value, (which is Rule 1, given above, p. 229). So pleased is the author with this discovery, that he takes great care to remark: "It is a proof which I believe has hitherto escaped the notice of interpreters." Such proofs, however, of the Messiahship of Christ bring no honor to our religion; and in the present day argue badly both against him who adduces them and against him who is convinced by them.
Origin of The Kabbalah
We now proceed to trace the date and origin of the Kabbalah. Taking the ex parte statement for what it is worth, viz., that this secret doctrine is of a pre-Adamite date, and that God himself propounded it to the angels in Paradise, we shall have to examine the age of the oldest documents which embody its tenets, and compare these doctrines with other systems, in order to ascertain the real date and origin of this theosophy. But before this is done, it will be necessary to summarize, as briefly as possible, those doctrines which are peculiar to the Kabbalah, or which it expounds and elaborates in an especial manner, and which constitute it a separate system within the precincts of Judaism. The doctrines, the beliefs of the Jews are as follows:
1). God is boundless in his nature. He [God] has neither will, intention, desire, thought, language, nor action. He cannot be grasped and depicted; and, for this reason, is called En Soph, and as such He is in a certain sense not existent.
2). He [God] is not the direct Creator of the universe, since He could not will the creation; and since a creation proceeding directly from him would have to be as boundless and as perfect as he is himself.
3). He at first sent forth ten emanations, or Sephiroth, which are begotten, not made, and which are both infinite and finite.
4). From these Sephiroth, which are the Archetypal Man, the different worlds gradually and successively evolved. These evolutionary worlds are the brightness and the express image of their progenitors, the Sephiroth, which uphold all things.
5). These emanations, or Sephiroth, gave rise to or created in their own image all human souls. These souls are pre-existent, they occupy a special hall in the upper world of spirits, and there already decide whether they will pursue a good or bad course in their temporary sojourn in the human body, which is also fashioned according to the Archetypal image.
6). No one has seen the En Soph at any time. It is the Sephiroth, in whom the En Soph is incarnate, who have revealed themselves to us, and to whom the anthropomorphism of Scripture and the Hagada refer. Thus when it is said, "God spake, descended upon earth, ascended into heaven, smelled the sweet smell of sacrifices, repented in his heart, was angry," etc., or when the Hagadic works describe the body and the mansions of the Deity, etc., all this does not refer to the En Soph, but to these intermediate beings.
7). It is an absolute condition of the soul to return to the Infinite Source whence it emanated, after developing all those perfections the germs of which are indelibly inherent in it. If it fails to develop these germs, it must migrate into another body, and in case it is still too weak to acquire the virtues for which it is sent to this earth, it is united to another and a stronger soul, which, occupying the same human body with it, aids its weaker companion in obtaining the object for which it came down from the world of spirits.
8). When all the pre-existent souls shall have passed their probationary period here below, the restitution of all things will take place; Satan will be restored to an angel of light, hell will disappear, and all souls will return into the bosom of the Deity whence they emanated. The creature shall not then be distinguished from the Creator. Like God, the soul will rule the universe: she shall command, and God [Will] obey.
With these cardinal doctrines before us we shall now be able to examine the validity of the Kabbalists' claims to the books which, according to them, propound their doctrines and determine the origin of this theosophy. Their works are (1). The Book of Creation; (2) The Sohar; and (3). The Commentary of the Ten Sephiroth. As the Book of Creation is acknowledged by all parties to be the oldest, we shall examine it first.
1). The Book of Creation of Jetzira.
This famous document pretends to be a monologue of the patriarch Abraham, and premises that the contemplations it contains are those which led the father of the Hebrews [Here the Jews inadvertently admit that they are not the children of Abraham!] to abandon the worship of the stars and to embrace the faith of the true God. Hence the remark of the celebrated philosopher, R. Jehudah Ha-levi (born about 1086): "The Book of the Creation, which belongs to our father Abraham...demonstrates the existence of the Deity and the Divine Unity, by things which are on the one hand manifold and multifarious, whilst on the other hand they converge and harmonize; and this harmony can only proceed from One who originated it."
The whole Treatise consists of six Perakim or chapters, subdivided into thirty-three very brief Mishnas or sections, as follows. The first chapter has twelve sections, the second has five, the third five, the fourth four, the fifth three, and the sixth four sections. The doctrines which it propounds are delivered in the style of aphorisms or theorems, and, pretending to be the dictates of Abraham, are laid down very dogmatically, in a manner becoming the authority of this patriarch.
As has already been intimated, the design of this treatise is to exhibit a system whereby the universe may be viewed methodically in connection with the truths given in the Bible, thus showing, from the gradual and systematic development of the creation, and from the harmony which prevails in all its multitudinous component parts, that One God produced it all, and that He is over all. The order in which God gave rise to this creation out of nothing, and the harmony which pervades all the constituent parts of the universe are shown by the analogy which subsists between the visible things and the signs of thought, or the means whereby wisdom is expressed and perpetuated among men. Since the letters have no absolute value, nor can they be used as mere forms, but serve as the medium between essence and form, and like words, assume the relation of form to the real essence, and of essence to the embryo and unexpressed thought, great value is attached to these letters, and to the combinations and analogies of which they are capable.
The patriarch Abraham, therefore, employs the double value of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet [It is for this reason that the Book of Jetzira is also called the Letters or alphabet of the Patriarch Abraham]; he uses them, both in their phonetic nature and in their sacred character, as expressing the divine truths of the Scriptures.
But, since the Hebrew alphabet is also used as numerals, which are represented by the fundamental number ten, and since the vowels of the language are also ten in number, this decade is added to the twenty-two letters, and these two kinds of signs, the twenty- two letters of the alphabet and the ten fundamental numbers, are designated the thirty- two ways of secret wisdom; and the treatise opens with the declaration: "By thirty-two paths of secret wisdom, the Eternal, the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, the living God, the King of the Universe, the Merciful and Gracious, the High and Exalted God, he who inhabiteth eternity, Glorious and Holy is His name, hath created the world by means of numbers, phonetic language, and writing."
First of all comes the fundamental number ten. This decade is divided into a tetrade and hexade, and thereby is shown the gradual development of the world out of nothing. At first there existed nothing except the Divine Substance, with the creative idea and the articulate creative word as the Spirit or the Holy Spirit, which is one with the Divine Substance and indivisible. Hence, the Spirit of the living God stands at the head of all things and is represented by the number one. "One is the spirit of the living God, blessed be His name, who liveth for ever! voice, spirit, and word, this is the Holy ghost."
From this spirit the whole universe proceeded in gradual and successive emanations, in the following order. The creative air, represented by number two, emanated from the Spirit. "In it He engraved the twenty-two letters." The water again, represented by the number three, proceeded from the air. "In it He engraved darkness and emptiness, slime and dung." While the ether or fire, represented by the number four, emanated from the water. "In it He engraved the throne of His glory, the Ophanim, the Seraphim, the sacred animals, and the ministering angels, and from these three he formed His habitation; as it is written: 'He maketh the wind his messengers, flaming fire his servants." These intermediate members between the Creator and the created world sustain a passive and created relationship to God, and an acting and creating relationship to the world; so that God is neither in immediate connection with the created and material universe, nor is His creative fiat hindered by matter. Then comes the hexade, each unit of which represents space in the six directions, or the four corners of the world, east, west, north, and south, as well as height and depth which emanated from the ether, and in the center of which is the Holy Temple supporting the whole. The position of the decade is therefore as follows:
(1) Spirit; (6) North;
(2) Air; (7) West; Holy Temple.
(3) Water; (8) East;
(4) Ether or Fire; (9) South; and
(5) Height; (10) Depth.
These constitute the primordial ten, from which the whole universe proceeded. And lastly follow, "The twenty-two letters, by means of which God, having, drawn, hewn, and weighed them, and having variously changed and put them together, formed the souls of everything that has been made, and that shall be made."
These twenty-two letters of the alphabet and are then divided into three groups, consisting respectively of, (1). The three mothers, or fundamental letters, (2) Seven double and (3) Twelve simple consonants, to deduce there from a triad of elements, a heptade of opposites, and a duodecimo of simple things, in the following manner.
1). Three Mothers, Aleph, Mem, Shin.
The above-named three primordial elements, viz., ether, water and air, which were as yet partially ideal and ethereal, became more concrete and palpable in the course of emanation. Thus the fire developed itself into the earth, embracing sea and land, whilst the elementary air became the atmospheric air.
These constitute the three fundamental types of the universe. The three primordial elements also thickened still more in another direction, and gave birth to a new order of creatures, which constitute the course of the year and the temperatures.
From the ether developed itself heat, from the water emanated cold, and from the air proceeded the mild temperature which shows itself in the rain or wet. These constitute the fundamental points of the year. Whereupon the three primordial elements developed themselves in another direction again, and gave rise to the human organism.
The ether sent forth the human head, which is the seat of intelligence; the water gave rise to the body, or the abdominal system; whilst the air, which is the central element, developed itself into the genital organ. These three domains, viz., the macrocosm, the revolution of time, and the microcosm, which proceeded from the three primordial elements, are exhibited by the three letters Aleph, Mem and Shin.
Hence it is said that by means of these three letters, which, both in their phonetic and sacred character, represent the elements, inasmuch as a gentle aspirate, and as the initial of air, symbolizes the Air; as a labial or mute, and as the initial of water, represents the Water: whilst, as a sibilant, and as the last letter of fire, typifies the Fire: God created,
In the World -- The Fire, Water, Air.
In Man -- the Head, Body, Breast.
In the Year -- Heat, Cold, Wet.
2). Seven double consonants -- Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Caph, Pe, Resh, Tau.
The three dominions proceeding from the triad of the primordial elements which emanated from the unity continued to develop themselves still further. In the macrocosm were developed the seven planets, in time the seven days, and in the microcosm the seven sensuous faculties. These are represented by the seven double consonants of the alphabet. Hence it is said that by means of these seven letters, which are called double because they have a double pronunciation, being sometimes aspirated and sometimes not, according to their being with or without the Dagesh, God created:
In the World -- Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon.
In Man -- Wisdom, Riches, Dominion, Life, Favor, Progeny, Peace.
In the Year -- Sabbath, Thursday, Tuesday, Sunday, Friday, Wednesday, Monday.
Owing to the opposite == double pronunciation of these seven letters, being hard and soft, they are also the symbols of the seven opposites in which human life moves, viz., wisdom and ignorance, riches and poverty, fruitfulness and barrenness, life and death, liberty and bondage, peace and war, beauty and deformity. Moreover, they correspond to the seven ends, above and below, east and west, north and south, and the Holy Place in the center, which supports them; and with them God formed the seven heavens, the seven earths or countries, the seven weeks from the feast of Passover to Pentecost.
3). Twelve simple consonants.
The three dominions then respectively developed themselves into twelve parts, the macrocosm into the twelve signs of the Zodiac, time into twelve months, and the microcosm into twelve active organs. This is shown by the twelve simple consonants of the alphabet. Thus it is declared, that by means of the twelve letters, God created the twelve signs of the Zodiac, viz.: --
In the World: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces.
In Man: The organs of Sight, Hearing, Smelling, Talking, Taste, Copulating, Dealing, Walking, Thinking, Anger, laughter, Sleeping.
In the Year: The twelve months, viz., Nisan, Jiar, Sivan, Tamus, Ab, Elul, Tishri, Cheshvan, Kislev, Tebet, Shebat, Adar.
The three dominions continued gradually to develop into that infinite variety of objects which is perceptible in each. This infinite variety, proceeding from the combination of a few, is propounded by means of the great diversity of combinations and permutations of which the whole alphabet is capable. These letters small in number, being only twenty-two, by their power of combination and transposition, field and endless number of words and figures, and thus become the types of all the varied phenomena in the creation. "Just as the twenty-two letters yield two hundred and thirty-one types by combining Aleph with all the letters, and all the letters with Alph; Beth, with all the letters, and all the letters with Beth, so all the formations and all that is spoken proceed from one name." Accordingly, the material form of the spirit, represented by the twenty-two letters of the alphabet, is the form of all existing beings. Apart from the three dominions, the macrocosm, time, and microcosm, it is only the Infinite who can be perceived, and of whom this triad testifies; for which reason it is denominated "the three true witnesses."
Each of this triad, notwithstanding its multifariousness, constitutes a system, having its own center and dominion. Just as God is the center of the universe, the heavenly dragon is the center of the macrocosm; the foundation of the year is the revolution of the Zodiac; whilst the center of the microcosm is the heart. The first is like a king on his throne, the second is like a king living among his subjects, and the third is like a king in war.
The reason why the heart of man is like a monarch in the midst of war is, that the twelve principal organs of the human body, "are arrayed against each other in battle array; three serve love, three hatred, three engender life, and three death. The three engendering love are the heart, the ears and the mouth; the three for enmity are the liver, the gall and the tongue; but God, the faithful King, rules over all the three systems. One [god] is over the three, the three are over the seven, the seven over the twelve, and all are internally connected with each other."
Thus the whole creation is one connected whole; it is like a pyramid pointed at the top, which was its beginning, and exceedingly broad in its basis, which is its fullest development in all its multitudinous component parts. Throughout the whole are perceptible two opposites, with a reconciling medium. In the macrocosm, "the ethereal fire is above, the water below, and the air is between these hostile elements to reconcile them." The same is the case in the heaven, earth and the atmosphere, as well as in the microcosm. But all the opposites in the cosmic, telluric and organic spheres, as well as in the moral world, are designed to balance each other. "God has placed in all things one to oppose the other; good to oppose evil, good proceeding from good, and evil from evil; good purifies evil, and evil purifies good; good is in store for the good, and evil is reserved for the evil."
From this analysis of its contents it will be seen that the Book Jetzira, which the Kabbalists claim as their oldest document, has really nothing in common with the cardinal doctrines of the Kabbalah. There is not a single word in it bearing on the En Soph, the Archetypal Man, the speculations about the being and nature of the Deity, and the Sephiroth, which constitute the essence of the Kabbalah. Even its treatment of the ten digits, as part of the thirty- two ways of wisdom whereby God created the universe, which has undoubtedly suggested to the authors of the Kabbalah the idea of the ten Sephiroth, is quite different from the mode in which the Kabbalistic Sephiroth are depicted, as may be seen from a most cursory comparison of the respective diagrams which we have given to illustrate the plans of the two systems.
Besides the language of the Book Jetzira and the train of ideas therein enunciated, as the erudite Zunz rightly remarks, shew that this treatise belongs to the Geonim period, about the ninth century of the Christian era, when it first became known. The fabrication of this pseudograph was evidently suggested by the fact that the Talmud mentions some treatises on the Creation, denominated and which R. Chanina and R. Oshaja studied every Friday, whereby they produced a calf three years old and ate it; and whereby R. Joshua ben Chananja declared he could take fruit and instantly produce the trees which belong to them.
Indeed Dr. Chwolson of Petersburg has shown in his treatise "on the Remnants of the ancient Babylonian Literature in Arabic translations," that the ancient Babylonians laid it down as a maxim that if a man were minutely and carefully to observe the process of nature, he would be able to imitate nature and produce sundry creatures. He would not only be able to create plants and metals, but even living beings. These artificial productions the Babylonians call productions or formations. Gutami, the author of the Agricultura Nabat, who lived about 1400 B.C. devoted a long chapter to the doctrine of artificial productions. The ancient sorcerer Ankebuta declares, in his work on artificial productions, that he created a man, and shows how he did it; but he confesses that the human being was without language and reason, that he could not eat, but simply opened and closed his eyes.
This and many other fragments adds R, from whose communication we quote, show that there were many works in Babylon which treated on the artificial productions of plants, metals, and living beings, and that the Book Jetzira, mentioned in the Talmud, was most probably such a Babylonian document.
As the document on creation, mentioned in the Talmud, was lost in the course of time, the author of the Treatise which we have analyzed tried to supply the loss, and hence not only called his production by the ancient name the Book of Creation, but ascribed it to the patriarch Abraham.
The perusal, however, of a single page of this book will convince any impartial reader that it has as little in common with the magic work mentioned in the Talmud or with the ancient Babylonian works which treat of human creations, as with the speculations about the being and nature of the Deity, the En Soph and the Sephiroth, which are the essence of the Kabbalah.
For those who would like to prosecute the study of the metaphysical Book Jetzira, we must mention that this Treatise was first published in a Latin translation by Postellus, Paris, 1552. It was then published in the original with five commentaries, viz., the spurious one of Saadia Gaon, one by Moses Nachmanides, one by Eleazer Worms, one by Abraham b. David, and one by Moses Botarel. Mantua, 1565.
Another Latin version is given in Jo. Pistorii artis cabalistical semptorum, 1587, Tom. 1, p. 869 seq., which is ascribed to Reuchlin and Paul Ricci; and a third Latin translation, with notes and the Hebrew text, was published by Rittangel, Amsterdam, 1662. The Book is also published with a German translation and notes, by John Freidrich v. Meyer, Leipzig, 1830.
As useful helps to the understanding of this difficult Book we may mention The Kusari of R. Jehudah ha-levi, with Cassel's German version and learned annotations, part iv. chap 25, p. 344, etc. Having shown that the Book Jetzira, claimed by the Kabbalists as their first and oldest code of doctrines, has no affinity with the real tenets of the Kabbalah, we have now to examine:
2). The Book Sohar.
Before we enter into an examination concerning the date and authorship of this renowned code of the Kabbalistic doctrines, it will be necessary to describe the component parts of the Sohar. It seems that the proper Sohar, which is a commentary on the five Books of Moses, according to the division into Sabbatic sections, was originally called the Midrash or Exposition.
Let there be Light, from the words in Gen. i, 4; because the real Midrash begins with the exposition of this verse. The name Sohar, Light Splendor, was given to it afterwards, either because this document begins with the theme light, or because the word Sohar frequently occurs on the first page. It is referred to by the name of the Book Sohar in the component parts of the treatise itself. The Sohar is also called Midrash of R. Simon b. Jochai, because this Rabbi is its reputed author.
The Sohar was first published by the Padova and Jacob b. Naphtali, 3 vols. Mautna, 1558-1560, with an Introduction by Is. de Lattes. Interspersed throughout the Sohar, either as parts of the text with special titles, or in separate columns with distinct superscriptions, are the following dissertations, which we detail according to the order of the pages on which they respectively commence.
1). Tosephta and Mathanithan and, or Small Additional Pieces which are given in vol. i, 31b; 32b; 37a; 51b; 59a; 60b; 62; 98b; 121a; 122, 123b; 147; 151a; 152a; 232; 233b; 234a; vol. ii, 4, 27b; 28a; 68b; 135b; vol. iii, 29b; 30a; 54b; 55.
They briefly discuss, by way of supplement, the various topics of the Kabbalah, such as the Sephiroth, the emanation of the primordial light, etc., and address themselves in apostrophes to the initiated in these mysteries, calling their attention to some doctrine or explanation.
2). Hechaloth or The Mansions and Abodes forming part of the text vol. i, 38a-45b; vol. ii, 245a-269a.
This portion of the Sohar describes the topographical structure of Paradise and Hell. The mansions or palaces, which are seven in number, were at first the habitation of the earthly Adam, but, after the fall of the protoplasts, were rearranged to be the abode of the beautified saints, who for this reason have the enjoyment both of this world and the world to come.
The seven words in Genesis 1:2 are explained to describe these seven mansions. Sohar, i, 45a, describes the seven Hells. In some Codices, however, this description of the Infernal Regions is given vol. ii, 202b.
3). Sithre Tora, or The Mysteries of the Pentateuch, given in separate columns, and at the bottom of pages as follows. Vol. i, 74b; 75a; 76b-77a; 78a-81b; 97a-102a; 107b-11a; 146b-49b; 151a; 152b; 154b-157b; 161b-162b; 165; vol. ii, 146a.
It discusses the divers topics of the Kabbalah, such as the evolution of the Sephiroth, the emanation of the primordial light, etc.
4). Midrash Ha-Neelam, or The Hidden Midrash, occupies parallel columns with the text in vol. i, 97a-140a, and endeavors more to explain passages of Scripture mystically, by way of Remasim and Gematrias, and allegorically, than to propound the doctrines of the Kabbalah.
Thus Abraham's prayer for Sodom and Gomorrah is explained as an intercession by the congregated souls of the saints in behalf of the sinners about to be punished. Lot's two daughters are the two proclivities in man, good and evil. Besides this mystical interpretation wherein the Kabbalistic rules of exegesis are largely applied, the distinguishing feature of this portion of the Sohar is its discussion on the properties and destiny of the soul, which constitute an essential doctrine of the Kabbalah.
5). Raja Mehemna, or the Faithful Shepherd. This portion of the Sohar is given in the second and third volumes, in parallel columns with the text; and when it is too disproportioned for columns, is given at the bottom or in separate pages, as follows. Vol. ii, 25; 40; 59b; 91b-93a; 134b; 157b-159a; 187b-188a; vol. iii, 3a-4b; 20a; 24b; 27; 28a-29a; 33a-34a; 42a; 44a; 63; 67b-68a; 81b-83b; 85b-86a; 88b-90a; 92b-93a; 97a-101a; 103b-104a; 108b-111b; 121b-126a; 145a-146b; 152b-153b; 174a-175a; 178b-179b; 180a; 215a-239a; 242a-258a; 263a-264a; 270b-283a.
It derives its name from the fact that it records the discussions which Moses the Faithful Shepherd held in conference with the prophet Elias, and with R. Simon b. Jochai, the celebrated master of the Kabbalistic school, who is called the Sacred Light. The chief object of this portion is to show the profound and allegorical import of the Mosaic commandments and prohibitions, as well as of the Rabbinic injunctions and religious practices which obtained in the course of time. At the dialogue which Moses the lawgiver holds with R. Simon b. Jochai the Kabbalistic lawgiver, not only is the prophet Elias present, but Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Aaron, David, Solomon, and God himself make their appearance; the disciples of R. Simon are frequently in ecstasies when they hold converse with these illustrious patriarchs and kings of bygone days.
6). Raze Derazin, or the Secret of Secrets, Original Secrets, is given in vol. ii, 70a-75a.
And is especially devoted to the physiognomy of the Kabbalah, and the connection of the soul with the body, based upon the advice of Jethro to his son-in-law Moses "and thou shalt look into the face."
7). Saba Demishpatim, or the Discourse of the Aged in Mishpatim, given in vol. ii, 94a-114a
The Aged is the prophet Elias, who holds converse with R. Simon b. Jochai about the doctrine of metempsychosis, and the discussion is attached to the Sabbatic section called, Exod. xxi, 1 - xxiv, 18, because the Kabbalah takes this word to signify punishments of souls, and finds its psychology in this section. So enraptured were the disciples when their master, the Sacred Light, discoursed with Moses on this subject, that they knew not whether it was day or night, or whether they were in the body or out of the body. "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
8). Siphra Detzniutha, or the Book of Secrets or Mysteries, given in vol. ii, 176b-178b.
It is divided into five sections, and is chiefly occupied with the discussing the questions involved in the creation, the transition from the infinite to the finite, from absolute unity to multifariousness, from pure intelligence to matter, the double principle of masculine and feminine, expressed in the Tetragrammaton, the andrgynous protoplast, the Demonology concealed in the letters of Scripture, as seen in Gen. vi, 2; Josh. ii, 1; 1 Kings viii, 3-16; the mysteries contained in Isa. i, 4, and the doctrine of the Sephiroth concealed in Gen. i; etc., as well as with showing the import of the letters composing the Tetragrammaton which were the principal agents in the creation. This portion of the Sohar has been translated into Latin by Rosenroth in the second volume of his Kabbala Denudata, Frankfort-on-the-Maine, 1684.
9). Idra Rabba, or the Great Assembly is given in vol. iii, 127b-145b.
And derives its name from the fact that it purports to give the discourses which R. Simon b. Jochai delivered to his disciples who congregated around him in large numbers. Upon the summons of the Sacred Light, his disciples assembled to listen to the secrets and enigmas contained in the Book of Mysteries. Hence it is chiefly occupied with a description of the form and various members of the deity, a disquisition on the relation of the deity, in his two aspects of the aged and the young, to the creation and the universe, as well as on the diverse gigantic members of the Deity, such as the head, the beard, the eyes, the nose, etc.; a dissertation on pneumatology, demonology, etc. it concludes with telling us that three of the disciples died during these discussions. This portion too is given in a Latin translation in the second volume of Rosenroth's Kabbala Denudata.
10). Januka, or the Discourse of the Young Man, is given in vol. iii, 186a-19a, and forms part of the text of the Sohar on the Sabbatic section called Balak, Numb. xxii, 2-xxv, 9.
It derives its name from the fact that the discourses therein recorded were delivered by a young man, under the following circumstances: R. Isaac and R. Jehudah, two of R. Simon b. Jochai's disciples, when on a journey, and passing through the village where the widow of R. Hamnuna Saba resided, visited this venerable woman. She asked her son, the young hero of this discourse, who had just returned from school, to go to these two Rabbins to receive their benediction; but the youth would not approach them because he recognized, from the smell of their garments, that they had omitted reciting on that day the prescribed declaration about the unity of the Deity.
When at meals this wonderful Januka gave them sundry discourses on the mysterious import of the washing of hands, based on Exod. xxx, 20, on the grace recited at meals, on the Shechinah, on the angel who redeemed Jacob, etc., which elicited the declaration from the Rabbins that "this youth is not the child of human parents"; and when hearing all this, R. Simon b. Jochai coincided in the opinion, that "this youth is of superhuman origin."
11). Idra Suta or the Small Assembly, is given in vol. iii, 287b-296b.
And derives its name from the fact that many of the disciples of R. Simon b. Jochai had died during the course of these Kabbalistic revelations, and that this portion of the Sohar contains the discourses which the Sacred Light delivered before his death to the small assembly of six pupils, who still survived and congregated to listen to the profound mysteries.
It is to a great extent a recapitulation of the Idra Rabba, occupying itself with speculations about the Sephiroth, the deity in his three aspects, or principles which successively developed themselves from each other, viz., the en Soph, or the boundless in his absolute nature, the Macroprosopon, or the Boundless as manifested in the first emanation, and the Microprosopon, the other nine emanations; the abortive creations, etc., and concludes with recording the death of Simon b. Jochai, the Sacred Light and the medium through whom God revealed the contents of the Sohar.
From this brief analysis of its component parts and contents, it will be seen that the Sohar does not propound a regular Kabbalistic system, but promiscuously and reiteratedly dilates upon the diverse doctrines of this theosophy, as indicated in the forms and ornaments of the Hebrew alphabet, in the vowel points and accents, in the Divine names and the letters of which they are composed.
Hence the Sohar is more a collection of homilies or rhapsodies on Kabbalistic subjects than treatises on the Kabbalah. It is for this very reason that it became the treasury of the Kabbalah to the followers of this theosophy. Its diversity became its charm.
The long conversations between its reputed author, R. Simon b. Jochai, and Moses, the great lawgiver and true shepherd, which it records; the short and pathetic prayers inserted therein; the religious anecdotes; the attractive spiritual explanations of scripture passages, appealing to the hearts and wants of men.
The description of the Deity and of the Sephiroth under tender forms of human relationships, comprehensible to the finite mind, such as father, mother, primeval man, matron, bride, white head, the great and small face, the luminous mirror, the higher heaven, the higher earth, etc., which it gives on every page, made the Sohar a welcome text-book for the students of the Kabbalah, who, by its vivid descriptions of divine love, could lose themselves in rapturous embraces with the Deity.
The Sohar pretends to be a revelation from God, communicated through R. Simon b. Jochai, who flourished about A.D. 70-110, to his select disciples. We are told that "when they assembled to compose the Sohar, permission was granted to the prophet Elias, to all the members of the celestial college, to all angels, spirits, and superior souls, to assist them; and the ten spiritual substances were charged to disclose to them their profound mysteries, which were reserved for the days of the Messiah." On the approach of death, R. Simon b. Jochai assembled the small number of his disciples and friends, amongst whom was his son, R. Eleazar, to communicate to them his last doctrines, "when he ordered as follows R. Aba writes, R. Eleazar, my son propound, and let my other associates quietly think about it."
It is upon the strength of these declarations, as well as upon the repeated representation of R. Simon b. Jochai as speaking and teaching throughout this production, that the Sohar is ascribed to this Rabbi on its very title-page, and that not only Jews, for centuries, but such distinguished Christian scholars as Lightfoot, Gill, Bartolocci, Pfeifer, Knorr von Rosenroth, Molitor, etc., have maintained this opinion. A careful examination, however, of the following internal and external evidence will show that this Thesaurus of the Kabbalah is the production of the thirteenth century.
1). The Sohar most fulsomely praises its own author, calls him the Sacred Light, and exalt him above Moses, "the true Shepherd. "I testify by the sacred heavens and the sacred earth that I now see what no son of man has seen since Moses ascended the second time on Mount Sinai, for I see my face shining as brilliantly as the light of the sun when it descends as a healing for the world; as it is written, 'to you who fear my name shall shine the Sun of Righteousness with a healing in his wings.' Yea, more, I know that my face is shining, but Moses did not know it nor understand it; for it is written, 'Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone.=@ The disciples deify R. Simon in the Sohar, declaring that the verse, "all thy males shall appear before the Lord God" refers to R. Simon b. Jochai, who is the Lord, and before whom all men must appear.
2). The Sohar quotes and mystically explains the Hebrew vowel points , which were introduced for the first time by R. Mocha of Palestine, A.D. 570, to facilitate the reading of the Scriptures for his students.
3). The sohar Faithful Shepherd, (on section iii, 82b), has literally borrowed two verses from the celebrated Hymn of Ibn Gebiro, who was born about A.D. 1021 and died in 1070. This Hymn which is entitled The Royal Diadem, is a beautiful and pathetic composition, embodying the cosmic views of Aristotle, and forms part of the Jewish service for the evening preceding the Great Day of Atonement to the present day.
4). The Sohar quotes and explains the interchange, on the outside of the Mezuza, of the words Jehovah our God is Jehovah for Kuzu Bemuchzaz Kuzu, by substituting for each letter its immediate predecessor in the alphabet, which was transplanted from France into Spain in the thirteenth century.
5). The Sohar uses the expression Esnoga, which is a Portuguese corruption of synagogue, and explains it in a Kabbalistic manner as a compound of two Hebrew words, Es == and Noga == brilliant light.
6). The Sohar ii, 32a. mentions the Crusades, the momentary taking of Jerusalem by the Crusaders from the Infidels, and the retaking of it by the Saracens.
"Woe to the time wherein Ishmael [see how the Jews lie again and again - it was Abraham who received the commandment to circumcise his male children - not Ishmael!] saw the world, and received the sign of circumcision! What did the Holy One, blessed be his name? He excluded the descendants of Ishmael, the Mohommedans, from the congregation in heaven, but gave them a portion on earth in the Holy Land, because of the sign of the covenant which they possess. The Mahommedans are, therefore, destined to rule for a time over the Holy Land; and they will prevent the Israelites from returning to it, till the merit of the Mahommedans is accomplished. At that time the descendants of Ishmael will be the occasion of terrible wars in the world, and the children of Edom, the Christians [Here again they lie and say Christians are Edomites, when the Scriptures along with the Jews own writings show it is the Jews who are the Edomites not the Christians], will gather together against them and do battle with them, some at sea and some on land, and some in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, and the victory will now be on the one side and then on the other, but the Holy Land will not remain in the hands of the Christians."
7). The Sohar records events which transpired A.D. 1264.
Thus on Num. xxiv, 17, which the Sohar explains as referring to the time preceding the advent of Messiah, it remarks, "the Holy One, blessed be he, is prepared to rebuild Jerusalem. Previous to the rebuilding thereof he will cause to appear, a wonderful and splendid star, which will shine seventy days. It will first be seen on Friday, Elul == July 25th, and disappear on Saturday or Friday evening at the end of seventy days. On the day preceding [its disappearance, October 2nd] when it will still be seen in the city of Rome, on that self-same day three high walls of that city of Rome and the great palace will fall, and the pontiff ruler of the city will die."
The comet here spoken of appeared over Rome, July 25th, 1264, and was visible till October 2nd, which are literally the seventy days mentioned in the Sohar. Moreover, July 25th, when the comment first appeared actually happened on a Friday; on the day of its disappearance, October 2nd, the sovereign pontiff of Rome, Urban IV, died at Perugia, when it was believed the appearance of the comment was the omen of his death, and the great and strong palace Vincimento, fell on the self-same day, October 2nd, into the hand of the insurrectionists.
8). The Sohar, in assigning a reason why its contents were not revealed before, says that the "time in which R. Simon ben Jochai lived was peculiarly worthy and glorious, and that it is near the advent of the Messiah," for which cause this revelation was reserved till the days of R. Simon, to be communicated through him.
Yet, speaking elsewhere of the advent of the Messiah, the Sohar, instead of placing it in the second century when this Rabbi lived, forgets itself and says: "When the sixtieth or the sixty-sixth year shall have passed over the threshold of the sixth millennium [A.M. 5060-66 == A.D. 1300-1306] the Messiah will appear"; thus showing that the author lived in the thirteenth century of the Christian era. In perfect harmony with this is the fact that:
9). The doctrine of the En Soph, and the Sephiroth, as well as the metempsychosisian retribution were not known before the thirteenth century..."With the assistance of this mysterious science a man could master all the spirits that flit like shadows through the universe: could obtain the services of the angels, perform the most astounding deeds. Such was the meaning attached to this science and the awe which the Kabbalist inspired was far superior to that which the wizard or magician inspired. For the Kabbalist owed his power to the knowledge which was vouchsafed to him through the study of sacred writings, whilst the wizard or magician was suspected of some unholy compact with the Master of Darkness. This at once shows that even in the darkest ages of superstition and blind belief, Kabbala was never associated with evil purposes, nor the Kabbalist with some mysterious dark power. He was credited with having penetrated the mysteries of this world by almost a special grace of God; through some holy agency the veil that covers everything had been lifted for him."
The line drawn here between the white Kabbalist and the black magician is as arbitrary as all attempted classifications of magic under rubrics are doomed to be; white and black are continually mingling and fertilizing each other; and the ineffable names of the Kabbala were used and misused by the magical confraternity quite as profusely as those of the divinities of Egypt, Greece and Christendom.
The holier the names, the more powerful they were supposed to be; and even the divine appellations of the Kabbalistic Sephiroth did not escape magical pollution. This fundamental doctrine of the emanations of God from Ain (En) Soph (the Illimitable One) through Kether, the Crown; Binah, Understanding; Chokmah, Wisdom; Geburah, Strength; Chesed, Pity; Hod, Greatness; Netzach, Victory; Jesod, Foundation; Malkuth, Kingdom, supplied Jewish mystics with food for enraptured contemplation and their philosophers with matter for abstruse speculations. But it also ministered to the insatiable demand for names of power inherent in the very nature of magic.
By connecting a particular name for God with each of His emanations (Jah, Jehovah, El, Elohim, Jehod, Eloha, Sabaoth, Shadai, Adonai), it delivered these sacred symbols into the hands of sorcerers; and most eagerly of course was grasped the one about which there seemed to be the most mystery.
A great and almost impenetrable mystery had indeed gradually grown up round the name which there seemed to be the most mystery. A great and almost impenetrable mystery had indeed gradually grown up round the name which to us seems the most familiar of all, even though its pronunciation has shifted in our own day: Jehovah or Jahweh. Represented by the letters JHVH (Yod He Vau He), it seems at first to have been openly spoken.
But a time came when, possibly owing to the mystery-mongering about divine names in Egypt and Babylonia, the Hebrew priests refrained from pronouncing it, and substituted Adonai (Lord) when they read the sacred texts out loud.
The Jewish people followed their lead; and, because of the absence of vowels from the Hebrew alphabet, the original pronunciation was finally forgotten and not rediscovered until A.D. 300 or there about.
It was the Kabbalists who emphasized the mystery surrounding the letters JHVH by referring to the name they represented as the 'word of four letters,' Tetragrammaton, and this caught on like wild-fire in the magical texts. Few indeed and far between are those modern rituals in which that awe-inspiring name does not occupy the place of honor. It is not one of the many bizarre appellations to be found in the Sword of Moses, which may have been pre-Kabbalistic in origin; but this text nevertheless illustrates particularly vividly the strange hold which cipher-language has always had over the Jewish mind, and which has rendered the obscurity and complexity of magical names still more hopeless to disentangle.
There are well over a hundred and forty divine or angelic ineffable names in this treatise; but the majority, according to Gaster, defy transliteration. The following passages, however, throw some light on the mental gymnastics involved in composing them: "... and these are the Ineffable names and their surnames: Spirit Piskonnit, kunya, X; Atimon, kunya, X; Piskon (?), Hugron, kunya, X; Sanigron, kunya, X; Msi, Kunya, X; Mokon, kunya, X; Astm, kunya, X; Sktm, kunya, X; Ihoaiel, kunya, X; Iofiel, kunya, X; Ssnialiah, kunya, X; Kngiela, kunya, X; Zabdiel, kunya, X. I conjure thee with these fourteen names, by which all the secrets and mysteries and signs are sealed and accomplished, and which are the foundations of heaven and earth. (Kunya is the surname; X stands for names which have not been transliterated).
I further call thee with the greatest of thy Names, the pleasant and beloved one, which is the same as that of thy Master, save one letter, with which He created and formed everything, and which He placed as a seal upon all the work of His hand; and this is its equivalent -- X, and the other in the language of purity (permutations of the letters Yod, He) is read so -- X. I conjure thee with the right hand of sanctity and with His beloved Name, in whose honor everything has been created, and all are terror-struck by His mighty arm, and all the sons of the internal heavenly cohort tremble and shake of His fear, which is X, and its equivalent by means of JHVH is X...in the name X, Lord, most high and holy, in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel's battalions; in the name of the holy living Creatures, and in the name of the Wheels of the Chariot, and in the name of the river of fire, Ih, Ziin, and all His ministers, and in the name of IH, Ziin, Sabaoth, Z, El Z, Shaddai Z, X revealed Himself on Mount Sinai in the glory of His majesty."
These names were held to be omnipotent over both good spirits and evil ones; and to be exceedingly terrible: "And if you should refuse me, I will hand you over to the Lord God and to his Ineffable name, whose wrath and anger and fire are kindled, who honors his creatures with one letter of his name, and is called X; so that if you refuse he will destroy you, and you will not be found when searched after." "With these Names, terrible and mighty, which darken the sun, and obscure the moon, and turn the sea, and break the rocks, and extinguished the light I conjure you, spirits, and...Shiddim, and Satanism, that you depart and disappear from N, son of N."
The affiliations between Kabbalism and Gnosticism are notoriously very close, for indeed the Gnosis not only derived from but also entered into every contemporary doctrine and religious or mystical system. As regards the Ineffable Name, it out-clamored (as was its custom) even the Kabbala: "If anyone knows that Name when he goes out of the material body, neither smoke nor darkness, neither Archon, angel, or archangel, would be able to hurt the soul which knows that Name. And if it be spoken by anyone going out from the world and said to the fire, it will be extinguished; and to the darkness, it will disappear; and if it be said to the demons and to the satellites of the external darkness, to its Archons, and to its lords and powers, they will all perish, and their flame will burn them so that they exclaim: 'Thou are holy, Thou art holy, the Holy of all the Holy.' And if that Name is said to the judges of the wicked, and to their lords and all their powers, and to Barbelo and the invisible God, and to the three Gods of triple power, as soon as that Name is uttered in those regions they will fall one upon the other, so that being destroyed they perish and exclaim: 'Light of all the Lights, who art in the infinite lights, have mercy upon us and purify us."
Magicians did rather more than borrow ineffable names from the Kabbala. The Zohar first became known in Europe in the thirteenth century, when a poor Jew, Moses Leon, brought it to Spain.
From then onwards Kabbalism has never ceased to exert an incalculable influence upon occultists of every description. AThe Kabbalistic tree, which give the Sephiroth in a tabular form, and the doctrine that the invisible can be known by analogy from the visible ('as below, so above') have led to abysmally abstruse speculations, to the most extravagant flights of fancy and to the most fine-spun theories; for the obscurity of the language of Zohar as well as the pantheism underlying the doctrine of the emanations have had an almost intoxicating effect on the minds of mystics, mystagogues and magicians, as the language of Eliphas Lèvi, who was a combination of all three, amply testifies: 'On penetrating into the sanctuary of the Kabbalah one is seized with admiration in the presence of a doctrine so logical, so simple and at the same time so absolute.
The essential union of ideas and signs; the consecration of the most fundamental realities by primitive characters; the trinity of words, letters and numbers; a philosophy simple as the alphabet, profound and infinite as the Word; theorems more complete and luminous than those of Pythagoras; a theology which may be summed up on the fingers; an infinite which can be held in the hollow of an infant's hand; ten figures and twenty-two letters, a triangle, a square and a circle: such are the elements of the Kabbalah. Such also are the component principles of the written Word, reflection of that spoken Word which created the world! All truly dogmatic religions have issued from the Kabbalah and return therein.
Whatsoever is grand or scientific in the religious dreams of the illuminated, of Jacob Böhme, Swedenborg, Saint-Martin and the rest, is borrowed from the Kabbalah; all Masonic associations owe to it [Kabbala or Cabbala] their secrets and their symbols.
The Kabbalah alone consecrates the alliance of universal reason and the Divine Word; it establishes, by the counterpoise of two forces in apparent opposition, the eternal balance of being; it alone reconciles reason with faith, power with liberty, science with mystery: it has the keys of the present, past and future!"
The hoary (though mythical) antiquity of the Kabbala, fathered on the fallen angels and also on Moses, was another reason which recommended it to magicians; for magic, always conscious of a remote and glorious golden age, seeks in the distant past and its memorials for the secrets of knowledge, wisdom and power. This is why magical rituals have been ascribed, from time immemorial, to sages as far removed in time as was compatible with the survival of their memory.
In the fifteenth century books of magical secrets and ritual processes were attributed to Adam, Abel, Noah, Joseph, Moses, Solomon, Reuben, Enoch, Zoroaster, Hermes Trismegistus, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Virgil and Mahomet, to mention only the most outstanding and popular. This custom has persisted until today, and moved Waite to scholarly but uncritical wrath: "Back-dating and imputed authorship are the two crying sins of magical hand- books...There never was a literature so founded on forgery as Magic... Knavish methods...have ruled the manufacture of most magical books...A literature which has done nothing but ascribe falsely..."
These false assumptions and antedatings, if they are symptoms of the fundamental delusiveness of magic, also witness to its reverence for age, authority and tradition. The individual claims are invalid; but the antiquity of magic and its supremacy in ancient times are matters of historical fact.
Venerable indeed as well as many and diverse were the strands woven into the rope with which medieval and modern magicians hoped to draw into their sphere the unknown powers around them; deities and demons from Babylon, Egypt, Persia, Palestine and Greece; magic names spoken in the dawn of time in languages now dead and gone; others taken from a ghost-speech which had never exited in reality; ritual processes enacted through countless ages and fixed in high perfection before the birth of Christ; pagan practices; Eastern mysticism; Hebrew folk-lore; Christian theology; apocalyptic angelology and demonology; Kabbalistic symbolism; neo-Platonic philosophy. All this (not to mention the considerable part played by astrology in the rituals of magic nor the presence of ritual elements in the experiments of alchemy) was assimilated well or ill, partially or totally misunderstood, mangled, mutilated, corrupted, but still there in the quasi-modern rituals which have found their way into print.
Superficially considered, these appear to be a mass of unintelligible nonsense which it would be a waste of time to examine closely. But a patient scrutiny reveals much of great interest buried underneath the rubbish on the top. A philosophy underlies the rituals; and beneath these mounds of folly are remnants of ancient civilizations.
In the records of antiquity the result and not the origin meets the gaze; but the relationship of cause and effect seems undeniable. The necromantic scene in the Epic of Gilgamish undoubtedly gives the impression of being based on ritual ceremonies (notably burial rites) witnessed by the poet, and so does the raising of Darius in The Persians; whereas Homer's description deems rather to have been inspired by legend or hearsay. The love-charms in Virgil's Pharmaceutria were deliberately chosen for their poetical quality, and Lucan's hair-raising account of the rites of Erichtho illustrates the propensity of ritual to produce fiction, consummated in Apuleius' Golden Ass.
A less conscious and more organic development can be traced in the influence of the katabasis on the descent of Aeneas into the Underworld in the wake of many an actor-hero in kingship and fertility-rites; and Dante's Divine Comedy is a poet's vision and interpretation of the journey through the nether and upper regions constantly undertaken by magicians in legend because they had done so in the rites. These two examples show the creative energy in ceremonial magic transformed into peerless poetry; but the question still remains as to whether any comparable process has occurred in more recent times.
Shakespeare's Ariel and Milton's Azael derive from magical texts and it is just possible that the demonologies which were such a marked feature of these manuals from The Testament of Solomon downwards contributed the notion of a pandemonium to Milton, who crystallized the floating conceptions generated by the rituals into a superb pageantry of evil.
But this is speculation and does not admit of proof. One is on firmer ground with the Greek magical papyri which show spontaneous development into poetry in many of the texts, a process also visible in some of Anti-Scot's rituals, in which magic for magic's sake lords it over practical considerations, and poetry is achieved.
This however is in the framework of the ceremony itself, as are also the epic elements discernible in The Testament of Solomon, which elaborated the legend of the demons building of the Temple and contributed some items to it, verging on the territory of folk-lore. The introductions to the Key of Solomon also used and added something to the mythical matter about the wise king, and the first part of the Lemegeton could be described as an amplification and elaboration of the legend of the brazen vessel.
'Fosts's Magi has epic streaks in it also; the planetary spirits as well as the presumed author and Mephisto give autogiographical details, which are also present in the Black Raven; while the pygmies in Magia and Luridan in Anti-Scot show affiliations with folk-lore. In all these case the rituals owe far more to legend than they add to it, and are hardly more than signs and tokens of a persistent magical tradition associated with certain well-known names. Rather less hidebound is The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage as delivered by Abraham the Jew unto his son Lamech A.D. 1458. This mid-fifteenth-century text, originally written in Hebrew and translated from French into English by Mathers, has a long autobiographical introduction describing how the writer became possessed of the secrets communicated in the manuscript. Having received instruction in the Kabbala from his father Simon, Abraham set out at the age of twenty when Simon died upon a voyage of discovery into the mysteries of the Lord. He went first to Mayence, where for ten years he sat at the feet of a Jew called Moses, only to come to the conclusion that his arts were infidel and idolatrous, whether deriving from Egyptian, Median, Persian, or Arabian sources.
On February 13, 1397 he therefore embarked for Egypt and spent two years in Constantinople, learning the sacred wisdom of Abramelin and copying out his secret books. On the way home he visited the magicians in all the cities he passed through and was disillusioned or disgusted with nearly all, notably with the wizard whom he found in Prague; "...a wicked man named Antony, who in truth showed me wonderful and supernatural things, but the infamous wretch avowed to me, that he had made a pact with the demon, and had given himself over to him in body and in soul, while the deceitful Leviathan had promised him forty years of life to do his pleasure. To this day they sing in the streets of the terrible end which befell him, for his body was found dragged through the streets and his head without any tongue therein lying in a drain."
"They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye [Jews] are Abraham=s seed; but ye [Jews] seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye [Jews] have seen with your father. They answered and said unto, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, if ye [Jews] were Abraham=s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye [Jews] do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication [This is making reference to Judah and Tamar and their twin sons Pharez and Zarah, whom the Jews believe to have been born of fornication. This does not make reference to Christ Himself as the Jews knew nothing about Mary, His mother being with child of the Holy Spirit until centuries later]; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, if God were your father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye [Jews] are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him [Here Christ is saying there is no truth in the Jews]. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not."
We are warned by Christ. But most of America's so-called Christians will not listen, because of lying pastors, ministers, etc., listen to His Words: "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." For a second witness: "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."
But God will send us ministers, priests, pastors and etc., who will: "Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom [Christ] go forth of his chamber, and the bride [Israel] out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, where is their God? Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity is people."
Modified Thursday, May 23, 2013
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