Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tzachtzachot & the Christian Trinity

Earlier this evening I was confronted by an individual who thought the time of celebrating the birthday of the Christian Saviour to be the most ideal to practice his missionary zeal to the fullest. He "most urgently" exhorted me to attend the service to be held this Christmas Eve by his "spirit-filled" pastor, the one who could save my soul from the damnation which is, as it were, around the corner. Nothing I could say in a polite manner would sway him to "drop" the matter. As it is, I would not have referred to the incident here if it wasn't for the fact that I told him that I am a Jew and that I am particularly enamoured with the teachings of Jewish Mysticism, specifically Kabbalah. His face sort of lit up as he victoriously informed me that Kabbalah teaches the "doctrine of the Trinity," the Christian one, in its doctrine of the "Tzachtzachot." Eventually, after some fruitless bantering backwards and forwards, I informed the individual in question that I am simply not interested in going to his church, that neither my wife nor I would be attending the special service of his "spirit-filled" pastor, and he departed in great disappointment with a final rejoinder that he would "pray for my lost soul." Ah well.....this is a fairly regular occurence, albeit senza the "Tzachtzachot" bit!
The doctrine of the "Tzachtzachot" ("splendours") is the one Kabbalistic doctrine which Christian students of Kabbalah later claimed to be extolling the Christian concept of the "Trinity," quite despite the fact that in none of the extensive discussions of this topic in primary Kabbalistic literature are there any references made to the Christian "triune divine personages," i.e. "father, son and holy spirit." However, we will get to the Christian claim shortly. Let us first have a look at what the teaching of the "Tzachtzachot" is all about, and where the idea started.
Currently available evidence would have it that the source of the concept is the mystical speculations of the "Chasidei Azkenaz," the 13th century German Pietists (David ben Yehudah he-Chasid; etc.), regarding the emanation of the ten Sefirot out of Ayn Sof (Eternal No-Thing). These mystics of early Kabbalah were particularly perplexed by the fact that whilst there are ten Sefirot, there were traditionally the so-called "thirteen attributes" of God, and they were wondering whether any connection existed between the Sefirot, and these "attributes." In a "responsa" attributed to the famous rabbi Hai Gaon, there are references to "three forces" which are understood to be the foundation of the "ten," hence they thought the "thirteen attributes" should be divided into "ten" and "three," which respectively pertain to the ten Sefirot and three "primordial forces."
However, there were at the time quite diverse opinions regarding this matter, especially as some thought the "thirteen attributes" were considered to be contained in Keter, the first Sefirah. This idea was certainly not generally accepted, since others attributed the "thirteen attributes" to the sixth Sefirah (Tiferet). Others still, maintained that these "three forces" were emanations which were "split of" from Malchut, the tenth Sefirah. Some considered them to be effects "in the manner of Chesed, Din and Rachamim." It is important to keep in mind that right from the start the terms "Sefirot" and "Middot" (attributes) were used interchangeably as synonyms. We also need to consider that this topic was very complex, and that in the mystical thinking of the time it was conceived that there were, as it were, two sets of Sefirot, with the higher Sefirot of 'Illat ha-'Illot ("Cause of Causes") belonging to the "first cause." These "higher Sefirot" were considered entirely distinct from the standard, manifested Sefirot, so to speak. The Sefirot of 'Illat ha-'Illot were termed tzichtzuchim.
To really understand the very foundation of the doctrine of the "hidden splendours," one has to focus on the teachings regarding the relationship between Ayn Sof and Keter. Some of the early Kabbalists taught that Ayn Sof and Keter are the same, whilst others felt that they are not identical at all, and some even taught that Keter was not the first emanation. There was great uncertainty regarding this issue amongst the early Kabbalists. Moses de Leon for example alluded in one of his writings to the expression "Cause of Causes" ('illat ha-'illot or sibbat ha-sibbot), saying it is a reference to Keter, whilst in another he tells us "the Cause of all Causes is the cause of Nothingness (Ayn)," and he appears to be quite uncertain as to whether there should be a distinction between Ayn Sof and Keter.
As far as Kabbalists are concerned, Ayn Sof is hidden and have therefore no active participation in the emanation process. In fact, they maintain that there are intermediary stages between the unmanifest and the manifest, and some consider such a stage to exist between the "Eternal No-Thing" (Ayn Sof) and the ten Sefirot. As said earlier, in the 13th century some of the early Kabbalists, e.g. David ben Yehudah he-Chasid and the German Pietists, maintained this stage to comprise ten "higher Sefirot" considered to be the "roots" of the ten regular Sefirot. Others, specifically those from the Iyyun circle, perceived this intermediary stage to be "three roots concealed in the depths of Ayn Sof" which they termed "tzachtzachot," and which were understood to be three unattainably hidden lights. They were respectively called:
1. Or Penimi Kadmon ("internal primordial light");
2. Or Tzach ("ultra-transparant light"); and
3. Or Metzuchtzach ("clear light").
In a way, these concepts influenced many generations of Kabbalists, even though by the fourteenth century (when the thinking of many Kabbalists were more directly focused on the ten Sefirot and their significance in the world and in our lives), the earlier "ten and thirteen" ideas almost disappeared into obscurity. It took a couple of hundred years before the debate on the "ten and thirteen" resurfaced very strongly in the writings of Moses Cordovero, who offered explanations in accordance with the views held by the mystics living in sixteenth century Safed, the "home" of Lurianic Kabbalah. We are told that he "contended the thirteen truly are God's moral attributes embodied in the first Sefirah, and it is man's responsibility to emulate them." It is worth comparing the 13th century ideas regarding the three primordial lights (Or Penimi Kadmon, Or Tzach, Or Metzuchtzach) with the Adam Kadmon (primordial man) doctrine of Lurianic Kabbalah.
However, getting back to Moses Cordovero, it should be mentioned that he expounded the doctrine of emanation in many wonderful ways. The process of emanation is generally understood to be one of "unfoldment from within." Everything comprises everything, so to speak, i.e. Keter (Crown) comprises all the other Sefirot, and the succeeding Sefirah, Chochmah (Wisdom), actually derives from Chochmah in Keter. In turn, each of the ten Sefirot also comprise the entire array, an entire universe as it were, and each succeeding Sefirah derives from its equivalent in the preceding Sefirah, e.g. Binah is emanated from "Binah in Chochmah"; Chesed from "Chesed in Binah"; etc.
Cordovero tells us that each Sefirah is made up of an infinite number of bechinot (inner "characteristics" or "aspects"). Whilst most of these aspects are unknowable, there are some which can be perceived and six in particular were considered most important in the process of unfolding each Sefirah from its predecessor. Through these inner aspects all the Sefirot are causally related to one another, and each Sefirah can relate or "communicate" with any of the other, by resonating inwardly with the aspects of the other Sefirot to be found deep within itself. For example, an individual working in Malchut (Kingdom) can "awaken" Keter (Crown) by resonating his consciousness with the "Keter-aspect" hidden inside Malchut, etc.
Now, it would appear as if there was a "gulf" between the manifest and the absolute, or between the restricted finite and the limitless infinite, yet Kabbalists maintained that just as every Sefirah comprises the entire sefirotic ladder, so Ayn Sof contains the very primordial essences of the Sefirot. Whilst in early Kabbalah we were told that there are three tzachtzachot, hidden primordial lights, between the Eternal No-Thing (Ayn Sof) and the first Sefirah (Keter) on the ladder of emanation, Moses Cordovero informed us that these "concealed splendours" are in fact the loftiest bechinot (aspects) of Keter hidden within Ayn Sof.
Since the days of the great Moses Cordovero there have been a lot of speculation regarding the three hidden "splendours" (Tzachtzachot) in Kabbalistic literature, and as mentioned earlier, Christian students of Kabbalah claimed the doctrine of the three Tzachtzachot to be expressing the verity of the Christian trinity. Considering everything Kabbalists wrote about these "hidden splendours," it is rather difficult to reconcile Christian doctrine with this Kabbalistic teaching. Besides, the Christian claim has as much verity as would say a Hindu claiming this teaching to be about the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, or perhaps some clever physicist somewhere could say it pertains to the three basic components of the atom (proton, neutron and electron), etc. In fact, we may extrapolate from all the writings regarding the three Tzachtzachot, that they were understood to represent, amongst many other concepts, three SefirotChochmah, Binah, Da'at; the three "Pillars" on the sefirotic Tree; the three levels of the "Soul" (Nefesh, Ruach, Neshamah); etc.
There are lots of primary and secondary sources which you can consult for detailed deliberation on this topic. Some of the more readily available are:
1. "Sod ha-Shabbat: The Mystery of the Sabbath" by Meir ibn Gabbai, translated by Elliot K. Ginsburg;
2. "Isaiah Horowitz: The Generations of Adam" by Isaiah Horowitz;
3. "Lessons in Tanya: The Tanya of R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi" by Yosef Wineberg;
4. "Kabbalah" by Gershom Scholem;
5. "Origins of Kabbalah" by Gershom Scholem;
6. "The Sabbath in the Classical Kabbalah" by Elliot K. Ginsburg;
7. "An Introduction to the Kabbalah" by Moshe Hallamish; etc.
Wishing one and all well over the Festive Season!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Practical Kabbalah & the "Forty-Two Letter Name" - Part 3

According to those Kabbalists, whom we are told are “wise of heart,” the secret behind the functions of the “Forty-two Letter Name” and the associated ruling “Spirit Messengers,” i.e. “Angels,” pertain to Shem Taharah, the “Name of Purity.” However, whilst this is indeed the case, it must be understood that before one can utter even one word pertaining to any practical application of these Names and “Spirit Intelligences,” one is required to keep ones mindset “pure,” i.e. to work each stage of the process with ones Kavvanah, ones focussed intention, exclusively concentrated on the task at hand, and carefully avoiding being distracted by external or unrelated issues.
Now, before we investigate the “Forty-two Letter Name” in greater detail, we need to again take careful note of the fact that, whilst this Name is understood to generally relate to Gevurah, the sphere of “Severity” or “Strength” on the kabbalistic Tree of Life, and likewise the “Name of Seventy-two Names” pertains to Chesed, the sphere of “Mercy” or “Lovingkindness,” each of the seven six letter combinations comprising the “Forty-two Letter Name,” as well as their affiliated stanzas in the Ana Bechoach-prayer, are, as indicated previously, respectively attributed to an associated Sefirah on the Etz Chaiim (Tree of Life). The seven sets of six-letter combinations comprising the “Forty-Two Letter Name,” are believed to represent the “Seven Days of Creation.” Hence, in addition to their respective sefirotic attributions, we are told that each governs an “age,” so to speak, these being: It is very important to keep some of these details in mind when it comes to studying the magical applications of this Name, since you will notice the practical uses of the “Forty-two Letter Name” somehow relate to the quality of the sphere with which it is affiliated on the sefirotic tree. Regarding these “magical applications,” it should be noted that the “Forty-Two Letter Name” as well as the Ana Bechoach-prayer are employed for spiritual protection, hence they feature in their entirety in many Kame’ot, and there are a number of these finely crafted amulets preserved in several collections, of which very good photographic images can be found in a few well researched tomes dealing specifically with this topic. I often like to browse through my own collection of works on Hebrew amulets, investigating and admiring the construction of these wonderful objects, which in many instances were created for personal protection, health, or even for something as simple as plain good fortune.....and why not?
We should also note that the “Forty-Two Letter Name,” as well as the Ana Bechoach-prayer have been used for example in those very large, beautifully painted constructs known as “Shiviti” plaques and amulets, and the Divine Name itself is often included in amulets designed to protect a mother and her newborn from any harm they might meet from malevolent spiritual influences. As far as this “talismanic” use of the Ana Bechoach-prayer is concerned, the entire prayer was often written in the form of a menorah (sacred seven-branched candelabrum), as shown in the accompanying illustration.
We have thus far perused the “Forty-two Letter Name” mainly in terms of its division into seven groups of six letters each. However, the power of several practical applications pertains to this Divine Name being again divided into fourteen sections, each comprising three letters. These are vocalised in a specific manner as shown in the table below: The vowels employed were derived in their exact order from Exodus 2:12 in the following manner: Let us now turn our attention to the practical uses made of some of these three letter combinations. Again it should be noted that due to the limitations of posts like these, I am able to share a very few details here, and hence will address the "magical" applications of the first two three letter combinations of the "Forty-two Letter Name" only, i.e. the uses pertaining to "Chesed" (Loving-kindness):
1. AViGe Sefirah: Chesed [Loving-kindness or Mercy]
The first Name, vocalised AViGe in this instance, is said to have the power to eradicate disagreements and disharmony within communities, or internecine strife amongst city dwellers. We are told that when one observes opposing parties disputing, and the contention appears to be exploding into open conflict, such can be effectively controlled by intertwining with the four letters of the Unique Name, YHVH, expressed in a specific fashion, i.e. (Yihav’ha). This is done in the following manner: The unified Name is vocalised Yi’ahaviv’geha.
Dissipating the mentioned strife in a community requires one to follow on the action of combining the two Divine Names with a recitation of Numbers 13:28 which reads:
Transliteration: Efes ki az ha-am ha-yoshev ba’aretz v’he’arim b’tzurot g’dolot m’od v’gam y’lidei ha’anak ra’inu sham
Translation: How be it the people that dwell in the land are fierce, and the cities are fortified, and very great, and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
Next, whilst keeping the respective Divine Names and their combination in mind, one has to adjure the angel Perachi’el (), the “Flower of God,” in the following manner:
Transliteration: Y’hi ratzon milfanecha shit’batel ha-bilbul v’ha-mach’loket m’ha-kahal ha-ze b’shem Yi’ahaviv’geha halaz al y’dei ha-mal’ach Perachi’el.
Translation: May it be your will to nullify the confusion and the division in this assembly, in the Name of Yi’ahaviv’geha by means of the angel Perachi’el.
Surprisingly there is also a ruinous aspect to this specific magical act. We are informed that one could bedevil the entire issue, i.e. worsen hostilities within the community of a town, by working the procedure with the exclusion of the final adjuration. It is said that in this manner one keeps the “angelic power” out of the situation, and thus actually augment dissension.
Another interesting magical procedure associated with the first three-letter combination of the “Forty-two Letter Name,” pertains to hiding oneself magically from a pack of wild animals, or from a gang of bandits, for that matter. In this regard it is said that if one happens to be on a journey and should spot such brutal creatures on the way, whether these be of the four-legged animal or two-legged human varieties, which might impact malevolently on ones physical well-being, that one should forthwith draw a circle on the ground near a tree, carve the Name (pronounced Z’rach Chan’chon) on the said tree, then enter the circle and cause magical invisibility by adjuring the angel Perachi’el by means of an incantation which again includes the earlier mentioned combination.
In another of its magical uses one is instructed to cut from a fruit tree a small stick about the size of ones little finger. We are cautioned that the stick must not at any time come in touch with a donkey or any “impure” creature, e.g. pigs and other beasts deemed “unkosher.” Next one has to create a hole or a slot inside the stick, in which to insert a small parchment. Afterwards, one has to write the combination with wax on a piece of “kosher parchment”—a fragment of clean white paper and a black wax crayon will do nicely. In conclusion one has to locate the paper inside the slot or hole of the tiny rod, which has now become a potent “power object,” an instrument of rulership and judgment. In this regard we are told that whenever one encounters ones enemies, one is to hold this instrument tightly against ones heart.
2. YaToTzi Sefirah: Chesed [Loving-kindness or Mercy]
The second Name , intoned YaToTzi, is combined for magical purposes with both the Ineffable Name and a special expression of Adonai (). In the case of the latter Divine Name the procedure is again as follows: In this instance the unified Name is vocalised Ayadotonatziye.
We are told these combinations of the second portion of the “Forty-two Letter Name” can be potently employed in Kame’ot (Hebrew amulets). The second combination, specifically the one in which YaToTzi is merged with Adonai, is considered especially powerful with regards to improving the health of a sickly individual.
I was once informed that pronouncing the Name Ayadotonatziye, i.e. the Adonai/YaToTzi combination, first thing every morning, will engender spiritual protection throughout the entire day. I was also told that if you do the same prior to retiring at night, i.e. before falling asleep, that you will be provided with very clear answers in your dreams to any questions you might have.
I have noticed similar, if somewhat more ambiguously delineated, instructions in the “Shorshei ha-Shemot” by Moses Zacutto. Amongst the curious uses made of this Name listed in this text is a very simple and most useful blessing practice. If you focus your attention on any individual, and then utter the Name Yatotzi with Kavvanah, with the total meaning of the heartfelt intention of your soul, that individual will have received a very special blessing.
Now, one of the primary uses of YaToTzi pertains to improving ones learning capacity and ability to comprehend. Moses Zacutto tells us that for its present purpose, this Name should be written on the leaf of a cedar. Since cedar leaves are more like needles than leaves, I personally chose to work this practice by writing the Name in question on an acacia or oak leaf, these trees being amongst the important “sacred” trees of the Bible. Acacia wood was extensively used in the construction of the temple equipment and the “ark of the covenant.” Regarding the oak tree, it is said that Joshua made a covenant with the Almighty in Shechem, and that “he took a great stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of YHVH.” (Joshua 24:26) I believe the use of a cedar leaf has to do with the fact that there is a reference to Moses and the “burning bush” in this specific working, and there have been speculations that the shrub in question may have been a cedar tree.
Be that as it may, the original procedure informs us to write the name on a single leaf of a cedar tree, and to say:
Transliteration: B’shem YaToTzi asher niglah l’Moshe rabeinu alaiv ha-shalom ba-s’neh shetagid li ha-emet mikol mah sh’ani sho’el mim’cha.
Translation: In the name of YaToTzi that was revealed to Moses our teacher, peace be upon him, at the burning bush, tell me the truth of everything I ask you.
Next, fold or roll up the leaf from the bottom to the top, and conclude the procedure by saying:
Transliteration: Hineini mashbi’a b’shem YoTaTzi sheta’aseh b’ofen sh’avin ha-davar teichef bli ikuv k’lal.
Translation: I am here adjuring you in the name YoTaTzi, that you will act in a manner in which I will understand the matter (subject) forthwith without any delay.
As said previously, it is not possible to address all the mentioned practical uses of the fourteen three-letter portions of the "Forty-two Letter Name." However, I would like to conclude this brief study of this very special Divine Name by sharing with you a prayer-incantation I chanced upon whilst perusing the great primary literature dealing with Hebrew Divine Names. Like the Ana B’choach-prayer, it is fashioned on the “Forty-two Letter Name,” and whilst I would not exactly employ it as an alternative to the standard prayer, those who enjoy working daily with the “Forty-two Letter Name,” might find the employment of this invocation additionally to their daily recitation of the Ana B’choach-prayer, to be a most meaningful endeavour. This invocation derives from a work titled S’dei b’Samim ("Chest of Spices"), and reads:
Transliteration: Eloheinu ba’shamayim, g’dulato yatzileinu; yachid tamid, tzid’kato y’asreinu. Kadosh, rachaman, anvoteinuto y’rachameinu; Shadai tuvo netzach y’chaneinu. Nora’ot g’vurot, diglo y’chas’neinu; Yah kabir sigvo yishmareinu. Bochen t’horim, r’tzono yisgaveinu; tz’vi tif’eret g’vurato yiflateinu. Chasin kom’miyut, b’tzilo yastireinu; taharat nitzu’ach, izuzo y’aneinu. Yosher g’mulo, levad yoshi’einu; pnei z’chut kadoshav yig’maleinu. Shishah k’tzotav v’ruchotav y’sovoveinu; tzidkat yechido tamid y’varcheinu. Ani (.....fill in your personal name.....), zach’reini v’pak’deini b’klal kol yisra’el amcha, ba’avur sh’chinat kavod malchut’cha l’olam va’ed.
Translation: Our God in heaven, His Greatness will save us; singular always, His Justice will assist us. Holy Compassionate, in His Modesty He will have compassion on us; Almighty, His enduring Goodness will be gracious unto us. Tremendous deeds, His Standard will be our strength; Yah, mighty, His Power will protect us. Tester of purity, His Will will uplift us; Beautiful Gazelle, His Valour will free us. Shielding Power, in His Shadow we will shelter; His Victory is pure, His Strength will answer us. He recompenses in honesty, singularly by Himself He will save us; in the face of His Honour, His Holiness will reward us. His six edges (borders) and His Spirits will encircle us; His singular Justice will always bless us. I am (.....fill in your personal name.....), remember me and visit me and the whole of Israel, Your people, for the sake of the Shechinah whose glorious Kingdom endures throughout eternity!

Practical Kabbalah & the "Forty-Two Letter Name" - Part 2

The letters of the “Forty-two Letter Name” are said to become “manifest” as forty-two “shining lights” which are expressed in forty-two unique “spiritual forms.” These “forms” pertain to sets of “Divine Names” and associated “Spirit Intelligences” directly related to the component letters of the “Forty-two Letter Name.” This is viewed as a process, as it were, in which the forty-two letters are the initial “source roots” of these spiritual forces, whilst the Divine Names and the “Celestial Beings,” respectively associated with these letters, are the “branches” emanating from the primordial source. All are unified in the wholeness of the “One,” the ultimate “Source” beyond all being.
To align oneself successfully with these forces, or to “mirror” them, so to speak, in our realm of material manifestation, one has to link with the entire chain of interconnectedness of subtle forces, literally “drawing down” (hamshachah) these lofty “powers” from their primordial origination in the forty-two letters of “Forty-two Letter Name,” by verbally sounding the set of Divine Names respectively correlated with the forty-two letters, and following the same procedure with the associated appellatives of the forty-two “Celestial Messengers.” In this manner these “spiritual forces” are manifested within ones own being, literally turning one into “a pipe and a bucket,” i.e. channeling these primordial spiritual powers into our physical world for the benefit of all. Naturally, such an action would necessitate intimate knowledge of the forty-two “Divine Names,” “Spirit Intelligences,” and the required vocalisation of the forty-two letters comprising the “Forty-two Letter Name,” the latter being quite different from the straightforward pronunciation we addressed in the previous part.
Commencing with this pronunciation, it is important to know that an interrelationship with the mentioned forty-two “shining lights,” requires a clear understanding of the divisions and subdivisions of the letters of the “Forty-two Letter Name,” as well as full comprehension of the flow of the specific vowels employed in the utterance of the latter in this specific instance. Firstly, except for the first six letter combination, in which most of its component letters are pronounced with vowels, the remaining six of the seven six letter divisions of the “Forty-two Letter Name” are subdivided into two three letter combinations each. Secondly, using mainly a Patach (Hebrew vowel “ah”) alternating with a Sh’va (Hebrew vowel usually indicating a glottal stop), these divisions are vocalised in the following manner: In this instance, the specific combination of Hebrew vowels employed in the vocalisation of the “Forty-two Letter Name,” is said to open the “gates” of absolute mercy and infinite abundance. There are alternative versions of the vowel pointings of this Divine Name, however the one shared above is most reasonable and easily applicable.
As indicated, the component letters of this Name are directly linked to forty-two special Divine Names, which, we are told, collectively constitute the “garment” of the “Forty-two letter Name.” Whilst there are several versions of these Names, I found the following set from the anonymous “Sefer ha-Kanah” to be the most consistent and straightforward: Having now investigated the appropriate enunciations of the seven divisions of the “Forty-two Letter Name,” and considered the affiliated forty-two Divine Names, we need to focus in turn on the related forty-two “Spirit Intelligences.” I have again consulted several primary texts regarding the vocalisation of the names of the forty-two “Angels” related to the “Forty-two Letter Name,” and after close scrutiny settled on the following set: To work the complete procedure of aligning oneself with the mentioned chain of “Spirit Forces,” so as to focus these within ones own being and to direct their flow in a personally meaningful manner, the following invocatory action is employed after the bedtime prayer:
1. Select the six letter portion of the “Forty-two Letter Name” assigned to the current Zodiacal period, e.g Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc., as well as the Name and portion of the Ana Bechoach-prayer associated with the day.
2. Additionally select the sets of six Divine Names and six Spirit Intelligences associated with the sector of the “Forty-two Letter Name” assigned to the current day.
3. On completion, sit or lie down comfortably, close your eyes, surrender to the Divine Presence within and around you, and commence by reciting the Ana Bechoach-prayer in its entirety.
4. This is followed by visualising and vocalising the letter combination of the “Forty-two Letter Name” associated with the current astrological period in the regular manner.
5. Next, the portion of the Name assigned to the current day, is uttered with the vowels invoking complete mercy and absolute abundance, i.e. using alternately a Sh’va and a Patach as discussed earlier.
6. Continue by visualising and voicing first the six Divine Names directly affiliated with the relevant sector of the “Forty-two letter Name” employed on that specific day, and concluding this portion of the practice with the same action applied to the six Names of the specifically allied “Spirit Intelligences.”
7. The procedure is completed by reciting three times the daily allied portion of the Ana Bechoach-prayer.
It is worthwhile compiling a set of daily work-sheets, which will expedite the choice of Divine Names and related “Spirit Forces” to be invoked on any relevant day, as shown in the following example pertaining to Sundays in the zodiacal period of Aries in the Northern Hemisphere. The same is employed on Sundays during Libra in the Southern Hemisphere. Click on the image to enlarge it.
As noted, the "Name" associated with this specific zodiacal period is Nagdichesh, and the one aligned with the day (Sunday) is ’BaG’Y’TaTz’. Reading from right to left, we note the six "Divine Names" associated with the day are Adiryaron, Bahiryaron, G’viryaron, Yig’bahyah, T’lamyah, and Tz’tan’yah. In turn, again reading from right to left, the six "Angelic Names" aligned with Sunday are Orpani’el, Bo’el, Gavri’el, Yofi’el, Tumi’el, and Tzadki’el. Finally the portion of the Ana Bechoach-prayer associated with the first day of the week is the opening phrase: Ana Becho’ach G’dulat Yeminchah Tatir Tzerurah.
The best way to work this procedure is to note the transliteration of each "Name," then to trace the component Hebrew letters with your eyes whilst whispering the "Name." Here Kavvanah, i.e. powerfully focussed intention and attention, is vitally important to work this technique effectively.
Part 3 to follow

Monday, November 29, 2010

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

Writing "The Book of Sacred Names" taught me the verity of the saying "fools rush in"! Had I known the enormity of the task at hand, I might not have elected to write that 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 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

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Kabbalistic Curiosities: Moon Mansions and Seven Seals - Part 1

Since this topic is quite extensive and needs to be addressed in detail, I thought it prudent to address the kabbalistic views on the twenty-eight "Lunar Mansions," and associated concepts in installments. Readers who are familiar with Hebrew will find a lot of details regarding the "Lunar Mansions," or more accurately "Lunar Times" ( [Ittot]—"times" ), in the "Commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah" attributed to the Raavad. There are facsimiles of both the 1562 and 1806 editions available in electronic format, which you can access directly at:
Further details can also be found in the Tikunnei Zohar section 69, 101b - 102a.
The twenty-eight "Lunar Mansions" pertain to the twenty-eight days of the lunar month, or more precisely of the "sidereal month." This topic was of particularly importance in Chinese, Japanese and Hindu astrology, and the "Lunar Mansions" featured equally strongly in Islamic Astrology. We should acknowledge the contribution medieval moslem astrologers like Abu'l-Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Biruni ("The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology") made to the study of the twenty-eight "mansions" of the moon, and how greatly "Lunar Astrology" impacted on the Jewish mystics who resided in Moslem lands in the Middle Ages, like for example those who lived in medieval Yemen, where the twenty-eight "mansions" played an important role as "markers" in Yemenite agriculture customs.
Whilst this aspect of Lunar astrology was derived from ancient oriental sources, it was given a unique treatment in Kabbalistic traditions, involving special verses from the Hebrew Bible, the seven "double letters" of the Hebrew alphabet aligned with "seven Sefirot," "seven seals," as well as the "seven planets" of traditional astrology. These are in turn associated with a set of Divine Names, and finally the entire caboodle was worked into a harmonious whole with the twelve signs of the Zodiac, etc. Most importantly, the Kabbalistic approach to this topic pertains to the Shechinah, the "Female" aspect of Divinity, or the "Divine Presence" in manifestation, specifically to "Her" being associated with "time." In this regard, the Zohar (1:198a) informs us that (Et - "time") is "a supernal rung." It continues by asking "And who is this Et?" to which we are told that it is the letter (Heh), and then, by adding the letter Heh as a suffix to Et, further elucidates that "it is called (Atah)," a term meaning "Now." Daniel Matt explained that the reason for "time" being "a supernal rung" is that the Shechinah "is known as 'time' since She conducts the world according to a cosmic schedule, enabling phenomenon to unfold in its proper time," and further that "She is also symbolized by the letter (Heh), the final letter of the divine name (YHVH)." (Zohar Vol. 3, Pritzker Edition)
Since the Shechinah is traditionally associated with both "Time" and the "Moon," we can understand why the twenty-eight "Lunar Mansions" are collectively considered to be, as it were, an expression of the "Divine Presence" in manifestation. Furthermore, these twenty-eight Lunar Ittot (times) are associated with the twenty-eight "qualities of time" listed in Ecclestiastes 3:1-8 reading:
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to seek, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; A time to to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; A time for war, and a time for peace."
Note there are fourteen benevolent "times" and fourteen malevolent ones. Kabbalistically speaking these are considered to pertain to the "good" and "bad" time cycles of the twenty-eight "Lunar Mansions," fourteen from the aspect of Chesed (Mercy or Benevolence) and fourteen from the aspect of Din or Pachad (respectively "judgment" and "fear," also Gevurah). As an aside, it is worth perusing the exposition of Et Tovah ("good time" also Et Ratzon ("time of favour") and Et Ra ("bad" or "evil" time) in "Gates of Light" (Sha'arei Orah) by Joseph Gikatilla [see page 103–104 in the Avi Weinstein translation].
Now, the fourteen positive and fourteen negative aspects listed in these verses were arranged in a particular manner in Kabbalah to coincide with the seven "double letters" of the Hebrew alphabet, as well as with the seven attributes or qualities associated with these letters. According to all the manuscripts of the "Saadia" and "Long" versions of the Sefer Yetzirah I have consulted, which is quite different from the much later and currently very popular "Gra version," the seven "attributes" are associated with the "double letters" in the following manner:
Aryeh Kaplan maintained the order in which Kabbalists associated these attributes with the mentioned twenty-eight "times" in Ecclesiastes 3, to be "somewhat different than that of the Scripture." ("Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation in Theory and Practice") He also mentioned that it does not correspond to the order found in the Sefer Yetzirah. Accordingly the order is said to be:
(to be continued)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Shemot: Hebrew Divine Names - Variants of the Ineffable Name - Part 1

I am currently investigating the magical uses of the Divine Name (Matz'patz, Matzapatz, Matzapitza, etc.) which is a transposition of , YHVH, derived from the interchange of Hebrew glyphs using the Atbash cipher. This specific variant of the Ineffable Name is said to mean "God protect."
I am sure most individuals interested in western esotericism will recognise the Name Matz'patz from its appearance in the ever popular "Clavicula Salomonis" (The Key of Solomon). In this text it is employed in a specific adjuration of "demons." However, it should be noted that in the Sefer ha-Zohar the Name is said to pertain to the concept of "mercy." In this regard we read concerning the biblical statement that "God made the two great lights" (Genesis 1:16), that the pair of "lights" were "at first in a single bond, mystery of the name complete as one: YHVH Elohim," and that the term "great" indicates that "they were enhanced in name, both alike, to be called by the mystery of all: Matz'patz Matz'patz, supernal names of the thirteen qualities of compassion," furthermore, that "they are supernal, from the mystery on high, ascending for the benefit of the world, so that through them worlds endure." (Zohar 1:20a)
The "thirteen qualities of compassion" are based on Exodus 34:6-7 reading "And YHVH passed by before him, and proclaimed: 'YHVH YHVH, El merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy unto the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin," etc. Daniel Matt, translator of the excellent Pritzker edition of the Zohar, commented that in Kabbalah the "thirteen qualities of compassion" are said to "originate in Keter, the highest sefirah, the realm of total compassion, untainted by judgment." It has also been indicated that it is in this respect, i.e. divine Mercy, that the name Matz'patz is employed in Hebrew magical incantations and Kame'ot (amulets).
Now, whilst is, as indicated earlier, a variant of the Ineffable Name, there is a close association between this Name and Elohim, the latter having been earlier noted in the "YHVH Elohim" combination, titled "the Complete Name" since it represents the union of the divine qualities of "Compassion/Mercy" and "Justice/Severity." We are told the connection between Matz'patz and the Name Elohim is indicated by the Gematria (numerical value) of this variation of the Ineffable Name being the same as that of the full spelling of the five letters comprising the Name Elohim, as shown below: There are exactly thirteen letters in this expanded spelling of the Name Elohim, which Chaim Vital informed us pertain to the mentioned "thirteen qualities of compassion." To align oneself with these qualities, he maintained in his "Sha'ar Ru'ach ha-Kodesh" (Gate of the Holy Spirit) that you must constantly work the following simple Yichud. You commence by visualising and contemplating the listed thirteen letters comprising the expanded spelling of the Name Elohim, and conclude by contemplating this Name to pertain to the sphere of Malchut, the Kingdom on the sefirotic Tree, and that it includes the thirteen qualities of Divine Compassion.
There are also other ways in which the Name Matz'patz is employed for more magical purposes, amongst which is a most interesting procedure listed in a text titled "Refu'ah v'Chayim m'Yerushalayim" by Eliahu Avraham Mizrachi, which is employed to ascertain whether individuals suffering from a serious malady will survive or succumb to the illness. You commence the practice by getting everyone in the residence of the diseased to keep quiet, and then ready yourself for the procedure. Next, place your right foot on the doorstep of the entrance to the residence of the sorely afflicted individual, and say the following with Kavvanah, i.e. full focus and conviction:
Transliteration: Matzapitza ha-chayim sh’todi’eini im katuv l’chayim (.....fill in the name of the afflicted person.....) o lo
Translation: Matzapitza of life inform me if (.....fill in the name of the afflicted person.....) is inscribed for life or not.
In conclusion you have to recite the Names which are derived from Psalm 139:16 reading:
Transliteration: Golmi ra’u einecha v’al sifr’cha kulam yikateivu yamim yutzaru v’lo echad bahem
Translation: Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance, and in Thy book they were all written—even the days that were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
Note that you do not need to pronounce the actual said verse but only the Divine Names derived therefrom, of which we are informed the correct ones to be:
Transliteration: Gvayir vavka’u l’atein milavul ysva rafya’ei ur’micha v’chayad eichumeiba y’lay’he neimeitzam
We will address more of the "magical" uses of Matz'patz in the second part.