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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Shiviti Amulets to "Open the Heart"

Responding to a query posted on the "Concepts of Kabbalah" Yahoo egroup, I shared a unique Shiviti amulet which I thought would be of particular interest to readers of this blog. Considering the fact that the construct comprises primary kabbalistic teachings, I suppose it was quite inevitable that certain fundamental Kabbalistic doctrines regarding Divine Names should have come to be considered to embody "amuletic" virtues. In this regard we might consider the four "milui," i.e. the full spellings of the letters comprising the Ineffable Name, aligned with the "Four Worlds" concept, as featured in this Shiviti amulet for "purity of thought":
I am addressing this Shiviti Kamea, as well as another of a similar nature, in my "The Book of Seals and Amulets," and should mention that the details employed in this amulet necessitate careful consideration.
We are informed that the attainment of greater understanding necessitates "purity of thought," and that it is good to work with Kavvanah, i.e. powerful attention conjoined with willful intention. These qualities of mind are generally understood to be powerfully engendered by Shiviti plaques and amulets, which we have already noted can be large sacred wall-hangings comprised of arrangements of Divine and Angelic Names, often beautifully illuminated with a selection of artistic adornments specifically meaningful to the composer of the item.
We also noted that all constructs of this nature are named after the inscription usually located in the upper portion of the item. In this regard, we observe in the top centre of the Shiviti amulet, the four large letters comprising the Ineffable Name, (YHVH), directly below the words (l'tahar ha-machshavah—"for the purification of thought"), this being the fundamental purpose of the amulet under consideration. Conjoined with the words on either side and underneath the Ineffable Name, we read the earlier mentioned biblical phrase after which the construct is named: (Shiviti YHVH l'negdi tamid—"I have set YHVH before me always" [Psalm 16:8]).
Besides the fundamental intention of all Shiviti plaques, which is for us to daily keep our heart/mind focus on the Ineffable Name, the Kamea requires the owner to not only read, but to actually enunciate the Divine Name with the vowels indicated, i.e. chirik (ee) and patach (ah), thus sounding the Name "YiH’VaH" in the mind during the reading of the opening phrase.
This action is followed by tracing and contemplating the displayed arrangements of component letter combinations and milui ("fillings"—full spellings) of (YHVH), as well as the two Divine Names here affiliated and conjoined with the Tetragrammaton. The basic reasoning is that the different spellings of two of the three letters comprising the Ineffable Name, i.e. , are fundamental in ascertaining the "levels of expression" of the Ineffable Name, in which the letters (Heh) and (Vav) have different "fillings" (spellings).
Traditionally the letter (Heh) can be spelled (Heh-Alef), (Heh-Heh) or (Heh-Yod), and (Vav) can be spelled (Vav-Alef-Vav), (Vav-Yod-Vav) or (Vav-Vav). The three variations of spelling are termed:
Milui d’Alfin (Alef filling);
Milui d’He’in (Heh filling); and
Milui d’Yodin (Yod filling).
Applying this to the relevant letters in (YHVH), the Sacred Name can be expanded into what is traditionally termed the "Forty-Five Letter Name of God," "Fifty-Two Letter Name of God," "Sixty-Three Letter Name of God," and "Seventy-Two Letter Name of God." In fact, each of these expanded Names are understood to pertain to one of the "Four Worlds" of Kabbalah, respectively the worlds of Asiyah, Yetzirah, Bri’ah and Atzilut, as shown below:
(Yod-vav-dalet Heh-heh Vav-vav Heh-heh) comprises the "Fifty-Two Letter Name of God," and in gematria the combination , this being representative of the "Fifty-Two Letter Name of God."
(Yod-vav-dalet Heh-alef Vav-alef-vav Heh-alef) comprises the "Forty-Five Letter Name of God," which corresponds in gematria to .
(Yod-vav-dalet Heh-yod Vav-alef-vav Heh-yod) comprises the "Sixty-Three Letter Name of God," represented by the combination .
(Yod-vav-dalet Heh-yod Vav-yod-vav Heh-yod) comprises the "Seventy-Two Letter Name of God," which is related to the "Name of Seventy-Two Names." This milui of the Ineffable Name is appropriately represented by the combination .
As delineated in both my "Book of Sacred Names" and "Book of Seals and Amulets," such extended spellings of a number of Divine Names, e.g. (YHVH), (Ehyeh), (Elohim), (Adonai), etc., have been employed for both contemplative and amuletic purposes in Kabbalah.
Be that as it may, the design of the current Kamea is comprised of three basic sectors. The upper portion encompasses the earlier mentioned opening biblical phrase, below which is located three sets of full spellings of the letters of the Ineffable Name (milui d’alfin) as follows:
As clearly indicated, the full spelling in this instance is Milui d’Alfin, the expanded format of the Tetragrammaton titled the "Forty-Five Letter Name of God" or "Mah"-expansion. Contemplating the entire combination we read the full spelling of (Yod Yod-Heh Yod-Heh-Vav Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh), a format of letters comprising the Ineffable Name which is sometimes depicted:
Referring to this image as the "Tetragrammaton Tetractys," I noted in "The Book of Self Creation" that "this image was often engraved on silver triangles and worn on the body as protective amulets," and further mentioned that "the four layers of Hebrew glyphs represent the 'Four Worlds,' four principles of manifestation, and four aspects of ones being, i.e. Tzelem or Guf, Nefesh, Ru'ach and Neshamah." Hence tracing the expanded spellings of this pattern in our amulet, is said to not only align the practitioner with the universal order of the "Four Worlds," but to actually trigger within every aspect of his being the Divine Power inherent in the mentioned expansion of the Tetragrammaton. After all, the "Mah"-expansion of the Ineffable Name pertains to ones own hands—the organs of conscious action or of giving and receiving which should be governed by mindfulness.
The second and central portion of the amulet comprises the listing of three Divine Names and their unification into one great name in the following manner:
In Kabbalah these three special Divine Names are considered instrumental in the flow of Divine Abundance from Keter (Crown), the loftiest sphere on the sefirotic Tree, via Tiferet (Beauty) the central sphere, down into Malchut (Kingdom), the earthly realm of physical existence. Each of these spheres are aligned with one of the three listed Divine Names, specifically:
(Ehyeh) — Keter (Crown)
(YHVH) — Tiferet (Beauty)
(Adonai) — Malchut (Kingdom)
In seeing these three primary Divine Names and their ultimate union displayed centrally in the amulet under consideration, I am reminded of the Kabbalistic doctrine regarding the outpouring of "Divine Abundance" from its source in the Ultimate Unmanifest, and its flow into physical manifestation down the "Central Pillar" on the sefirotic Tree. In this regard, we are informed that the initial (Alef) of both the Names (Ehyeh) and (Adonai) is a reference to the "Divine Essence" of (Ain Sof) being funnelled as infinite Shefa (Abundance) into the realms of manifestation. In delineating this unique force-flow from Ehyeh via YHVH and Adonai into the whole of physical manifestation, Joseph Gikatilla wrote: "Know that the activity of the upper Name which is Ehyeh is the activity of absolute mercy, and that this is the Name that brings good and gives for free and has mercy not out of judgment but out of absolute mercy....." [Gates of Light]
Of course, as I noted elsewhere, "in the entire concept of Ain Sof (the Infinite No-Thing) pouring out Shefa (divine abundance), the basic idea is infinity without any limitation whatsoever. There is simply no underlying motive of God being obliged to pour out Shefa because of a sense of pity for that which He emanated into existence. The basic function of divine creative emanation is Chesed, an enormous loving-kindness, not for any specific reason as such, but simply for itself alone." [The Book of Sacred Names]
In this regard, I believe what is of paramount importance here is the location of the Ineffable Name, aligned as it is in this instance with Tiferet (Beauty). Again it was noted that the concept of Beauty should "not be perceived in a limited manner" since it "has something to do with things being harmoniously related together." Underlying this concept is a sense of absolute "oneness." "What I find so amazing about the way Shefa is being funneled down into manifestation is that, whilst it is being expressed in all the realms of manifestation in an infinite, ‘all-possible-possibilities’ number of ways, the 'many ways' are harmoniously related in a universal 'oneness,' and this is called 'Beauty'." [The Book of Sacred Names]
As I gaze at the three unique Divine Names listed in the centre of a Kamea created with the intention of not only clarifying (purifying) mind, but also to "open the heart" to greater understanding, I am again brought to the realisation of how our sense of "separateness" in this world have lead to the loss of our primordial recognition of the divine unity between all aspects of incarnate existence, and how, "in order to restore the flow of 'Divine Abundance,' we have to realign ourselves with the perfect unity of the 'All,' i.e. reestablish balance with the 'Beauty' and 'Loving-kindness' of the Eternal One." [The Book of Sacred Names]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Shiviti Plaques in Budapest - Part 3

The central portion of this Shiviti is divided into three sections, the medial one being headed by the term "Shiviti" at its top, the Ineffable Name directly below it, which is in turn, as it were, supported by a very ornate Menorah (seven branched candelabrum) below it. On either side of the Ineffable Name we note two windowlike panes with circular stained-glass constructs located centrally, and the earlier mentioned terms "l'negdi tamid" respectively inscribed in red on each windowsill. Of course, the most important Divine Name appearing on any Shiviti is the Ineffable Name (YHVH), and in this instance the pane surrounding the Unique Name is, as shown in the following detail, inscribed with three biblical phrases extolling the virtues and invoking the support of the Eternal One of truth and goodness:
Inscribed in beautiful calligraphy, the three phrases with a single spelling correction read:
Transliteration:
(Right — Exodus 34:6) YHVH YHVH El rachum v’chanun erech apayim v’rav chesed v’emet
(Bottom — Psalm 130:2) Adonai shim’ah v’koli tih’yena oznecha kashuvot l’kol tachanunai
(Left — Psalm 19:14 [15]) yiyu l’ratzon imrei fi v’hegyon libi l’fanecha YHVH tzuri v’go’ali
Translation:
(Right — Exodus 34:6) "YHVH YHVH El merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth."
(Bottom — Psalm 130:2) "Lord, hearken unto my voice; let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications."
(Left — Psalm 19:14 [15]) "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before Thee YHVH, my Rock, and my Redeemer."
As mentioned previously, the two window frames located on either side of the Ineffable Name comprises the following circular stained-glass inserts:
As shown in the following details, each of the mentioned stained-glass inserts comprises the Ineffable Name accompanied by four words the initials of which are spelling the Explicit Name:
Whilst the third word of the phrase in the left window is somewhat obscured, I believe the following reading of the respective phrases to be correct:
Transliteration:
(Right — Psalm 96:11) Yishm’chu Ha-shamayim V’tagel Ha-aretz
(Left) Yachid Hu V'yode'a Ha-kol
Translation:
(Right — Psalm 96:11) "Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice."
(Left ) "Unique is He, and knows everything."
There has been a lot of very interesting Kabbalistic deliberation around the latter phrase, which we might peruse in greater detail at the conclusion of the analysis of this Shiviti. Be that as it may, the attention paid to detail in the artistic embelishments of this portion of the Shiviti is again most impressive. Consider the full image of the left panel:
Besides the filigree filling the sides and bottom of the image, the central column of each window is embelished with the same floral pattern employed in the previously addressed draping below the upper crown. As it is, the two windows under discussion are themselves "crowned" with a bouquet of flowers arranged in a blue vase, the latter itself suspended, as shown below, in an appealing frame of intricate design:
(More to follow)