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Monday, November 29, 2010

Practical Kabbalah & the "Forty-Two Letter Name" - Part 1

Over the last year and a half I have been slogging away at a text which is dealing with the practical applications of Hebrew Divine Names. Titled "The Book of Sacred Names," I am slowly reaching its conclusion and, with hindsight, have to admit the truth of the saying "fools rush in"! Had I known the enormity of the task at hand, I might not have elected to write this text. As I am sure you know, there are literally thousands of Hebrew Divine Names to be found in the primary literature of "Practical Kabbalah." I managed to address relatively few of these in the 500+ pages of the mentioned forthcoming tome. However, whilst this is indeed the case, I attempted to be as thorough as possible regarding detailed delineations of practical applications.
Be that as it may, the "Forty-two Letter Name" is amongst a set of Divine Names addressed in the "Book of Sacred Names." In fact, dealing with all aspects of this very important Divine Name, necessitated an entire chapter to be devoted to it exclusively. Naturally it is not possible to present the complete essay here, but I thought I might share some details regarding, as it were, the "magical" uses of the "Forty-two Letter Name," which is employed either in its entirety or in portions for a variety of practical purposes.
Now, the “Forty-Two Letter Name” comprises seven groups of six letters each, these being: A number of ways have been offered as far as the actual pronunciation of this Divine Name is concerned. Keeping in mind the dual vocalisations of the “double-letters” contained in this “Name,” I was taught to utter them in the following manner:
Avgitatz Karastan Nagdichesh Batratztag Chakvetna Yaglefzok Shakutzit
I remember thinking at the time that it did not sound like Hebrew at all, but rather like a strange ancient incantation in some long forgotten language, and I had a most eery sensation of very ancient primordial forces being invoked by their utterance.
It is said the forty-two letters of this Divine Name were derived from the first forty-two letters of the first chapter of the biblical book Genesis. This claim is however most obscure, and I have to date not been able to find a meaningful relationship between the “Forty-two Letter Name” and the first forty-two letters of the Hebrew Bible. I personally believe the association of this Name with the said letters in the first two verses of Genesis, pertains to the fact that the fundamental “secret” of the “Forty-two Letter Name” concerns Ma’aseh Bereshit, the “Workings of Creation.”
As it is, an entire prayer was constructed on the "Forty-two Letter Name." The Ana Bechoach-prayer, attributed to the Talmudic mystic Rabbi Nechunia ben Hakanah, but deriving from a much later date, comprises exactly forty-two words:
Transliteration: Ana Becho’ach G’dulat Yeminchah Tatir Tz’rurah Kabel Rinat Am’chah Sagvenu Taharenu Nora Na Gibor Dorshei Yichudcha Kevavat Shomrem Bar’chem Taharem Rachamei Tzidkatcha Tamid Gomlem Chasin Kadosh B’rov Tuvcha Nahel Adatecha Yachid Ge’eh Le’am’cha Pneh Zochrei K’dushatecha Shav’atenu Kabel Ushma Tza’akatenu Yode’a Ta’alumot Baruch Shem Kavod Malchuto le’Olam Va’ed
Translation: Please now with might, with the strength of your right, untie the bound..... Accept our song, strengthen us, purify in awe..... Awesome in grace, we who see you as One, guard from harm..... Cleanse us and bless, mix mercy with justice, and always redeem..... Holy power, in your great goodness, guide your people..... Exalted unique, turn to us, who recall your holiness..... Receive our cry, hear our plea, you know what is hidden..... Blessed is the Name, glorious your kingdom, throughout space and time.
Whilst not directly aligned with the "Forty-two Letter Name," the last stanza is appended as an affirmation of the entire prayer. It is said the spiritual power of the "Forty-Two Letter Name” is invoked by the recitation of the Ana Bechoach-prayer. As you noted, the initial letters of the words of this prayer spell the Divine Name in question.
Since the “Forty-two Letter Name” relates to Olam ha-Yetzirah, the Kabbalistic “World of Formation,” contemplating and meditating on this special Divine Name is said to have the power to elevate the “Soul,” raising it from “Olam ha-Assiah,” the physical “Realm of Action,” to “Olam ha-Yetzirah,” the higher “Realm of Formation.” In this regard, there are a number of unique meditational practices in which the seven phrases comprising the Ana Bechoach prayer are employed over the seven days of the week, and likewise the said phrases as well as the respectively affiliated seven sections of the “Forty-Two Letter Name of God,” are also used as part of a larger daily prayer-meditation recited after the Hebrew bedtime prayers. These are correlated with the seven days in the following manner: Now, before we can address the procedure pertaining to this daily utterance of the seven phrases of the Ana Bechoach-prayer and the seven portions of the “Forty-two Letter Name,” we need to keep in mind that there are some of the more mystically minded who additionally also recite the seven sectors of the “Forty-two Letter Name” in accordance with their respective affiliations with the signs of the Zodiac. In this specific regard we should consider the differences between the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres, e.g. reversed seasons, the movement of the sun, etc.
The “Science of Astrology,” having originally been developed in the Northern Hemisphere, trace the daily, monthly and annual lunar and solar cycles in terms of the Northern Hemisphere only. However those of us who are living in the Southern Hemisphere are perfectly aware that Capricorn is not “midwinter” in this part of the world, that the Sun is not “exalted” in Leo in the Southern Hemisphere, etc. In fact, south of the equator everything said about the signs and seasons in the Northern Hemisphere, has to be realigned with the annual solar cycle of the Southern Hemisphere.
We are taught that each of the phrases of the Ana Bechoach-prayer and the seven parts of the “Forty-two Letter Name,” can be used separately to invoke the attributes and powers of their respective associated spheres, these being: It is also maintained that such invocations and meditations would require one to work them at the right times, and these have again been calculated and set by individuals living in the Northern Hemisphere. However, realigning everything with Southern Hemisphere conditions is not a difficult task, since one would simply adjust the zodiacal pattern along by six months.
The following charts indicate the differences in terms of the “ruling planets” of the twelve Zodiacal signs in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres: Having these astrological details at our disposal, we can now assign appropriate attributions of the seven sections of the “Forty-two Letter Name of God” to the Mazalot (Zodiac) in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres: It is suggested that one harmonises oneself with daily and monthly cycles in which one pronounces the sets of letter combinations from the “Forty-two Letter Name” respectively associated with the current “zodiacal period” (month) and with the specific day. For example, during the period when the Sun is reaching its highest “exaltation” during mid-summer in the Northern Hemisphere, i.e. in Leo (Aryeh), you would focus on the letter combination of the Divine Name associated with that month, which is Avgitatz. In the Southern Hemisphere the same would happen in the sign of Aquarius (Deli), and, as indicated earlier, the “Forty-two Letter Name” and the Ana Bechoach are generally recited after the bedtime prayers.
Part 2 to follow