Thursday, April 15, 2010

Shemot: Hebrew Divine Names — Achatri'el (also Aktri'el, Aktari'el, Achtri'el or Akatri'el)

The Talmud quotes Rabbi Yishmael ben Elisha saying "Once I went in to burn incense in the innermost chamber [of the Holy of Holies]. There I saw Achatri'el Yah YHVH Tz'vaot, and He was sitting on a high and exalted throne" (Berachot 7a). Then there is the phrase from a Merkavah Ofan by Benjamin ben Zerah, an eleventh century Ba'al Shem who wrote "Michael roars and Gabriel clamours. Uriel shouts and Raphael bellows. Hadarniel extols and Achatri'el acclaims God's majesty. And I, the assembly of Israel, declare: 'there is none like God!'"
The Name Achatri'el (also Aktri'el, Aktari'el, Achtri'el or Akatri'el) meaning "Wreath-binder of God," which Moses Gaster maintains to be a composite of the words "Keter" and "Ari'el" , is both a Name of God and an Angel. It features particularly prominently in the Hechalotic literature, in which Achatri'el is a guardian at the celestial gates. In certain instances this Name refers to an angel, e.g. in one fragment titled "The Mystery of Sandalophon" we read "Elisha ben Abuya said: When I ascended to the Pardes, I saw Achatri'el Yah, God of Israel, Lord of Hosts, sitting at the entrance of Pardes and one hundred and twenty myriads of ministering angels were surrounding him. As it is written: 'Thousands upon thousands served him and myriads upon myriads stood before him' (Daniel 7:10)." On the other hand, in the Sefer Hechalot (3 Enoch Chapter 15b), we read "In that time Achatri'el Yah YHVH Tzva'ot turned to Metatron, the angel of the presence, 'Whatever he asks of Me, see that he not be turned away empty-handed'." Here the Name appears as a reference to the Most High in person. Yet, elsewhere again Achatri'el is a secret Name engraved on the throne of glory, whilst in "Sefer ha-Chochmah" (The Book of Wisdom) by Eleazer of Worms it refers to the divine crown when it is "upon the head of the Creator."
It is said the Name Achatri'el pertains to three biblical verses, specifically Exodus 15:6 which reads:
Transliteration: Y'mincha YHVH Nedari Bechoach Y'mincha YHVH Tir'atz Oyev
Translation: Thy Right Hand, YHVH, Glorious in Power, Thy Right Hand, YHVH, dasheth in pieces the enemy.
Isaiah 56:5 reading:
Transliteration: V'natati lahem b'veiti uv'chomotai yad vashem tov mibanim umibanot shem olam eten lo asher lo yikaret.
Translation: Even unto them will I give in My house and within My walls a monument and a memorial better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting memorial, that shall not be cut off.
and Exodus 15:11 reading:
Transliteration: Mi chamochah ba-elim YHVH mi kamochah nedar bakodesh norah t'hilot oseh fele.
Translation: Who is like unto Thee, YHVH, among the mighty? who is like unto Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
The most prominent divine qualities listed in these verses are "Glorious Power" and "Glorious Holiness" expressed in the ability to perform "wonders." Combined with teachings about Achatri'el being within the "Light" that controls the creative act, which is said to pertain to "the secret of the mother and the father" in the work of creation, it is clear that Achatri'el is a most powerful "Primary Power" in manifestation. Of course, "the secret of the mother and the father" pertains to the sexual act, or the union of creative forces. We are told that during conception a soul is granted a Levush Neshamah, a "soul garment," which can accurately be considered the "body" used by the Neshamah, the "Higher Self," during the period of its incarnation in the flesh.
In this regard Chaim Vital maintains "there is no soul [Neshamah] in the world.....that can exist naked, without a garment [levush] in which it is clothed in this world." In fact, it is understood that throughout our lives, we receive the sacred life-force, or "Divine Abundance," via these Levushei Neshamot, these "bodies of light" of our Higher Selves. It is maintained that the actual quality of this "garment" is dependent on both parents, the best "garment" being acquired when the parents of the soul in question loved each other, acknowledged the sanctity of their sexual union, and coupled in holiness. In this regard Meir Poppers tells us that even in the case where "a great soul" is incarnating in the flesh, that soul "needs the sanctity of his father and mother during lovemaking so as to bring forth a superior garment, lest this garment cause him to sin." In fact, in the case of such a sacred sexual union, the Kavvanah (focussed attention) of the one to be born will be centered on Achatri'el, whilst he or she is being clothed in the "Levush Neshamah."
As a unique "angel" or "spirit intelligence," Achatri'el is said to be the leader of the first angelic host in charge of the "Element of Water," these being: According to the Shorshei ha-Shemot the central "power" in the current instance is "the great Name Vuho'u ," actually the first triplet of the "Shem Vayisa Vayet" (Name of Seventy-Two Names), which incorporates within itself:
1. the potency of (Aza [Mighty One (?)])," who is the ruler over water;
2. the combined strength of the angelic camp overseeing Water, as listed above;
3. the might of Metatron, the Prince of the Face; and
4. the power of the Holy Names engraved on the Throne of Glory, of which the first eighteen triplets of the "Name of Seventy-two Names" are listed with a set vowels, and of which we are told that in this specific instance the following are the correct pronunciations:
VaHeiVo , YeLeYa , SoYaTa , AL'Mo , MoHeSh' , L'LoHa , ECha'A , K'HaTu , HiZaYa , ALaDa , L'AVa , HaHe'E , YaZaLe , MaV'He , HaRaYa , HaKiMa , L'UVa , and KaLiY' .
In order to align oneself with this "Divine Power," we are told to recite Psalm 29 six times:
Transliteration: (Verse 1) Mizmor l'David havu l'YHVH b'nei eilim havu l'YHVH kavod va-oz (Verse 2) havu l'YHVH k'vod sh'mo hish'tachavu l'YHVH b'hadrat kodesh (Verse 3) kol YHVH al ha-mayim el ha-kavod hir'im YHVH al mayim rabim (Verse 4) kol YHVH bako'ach kol YHVH behadar (Verse 5) kol YHVH shover arazim va-y'shaber YHVH et arzei ha-l'vanon (Verse 6) vayarkideim k'mo eigel l'vanon v'siryon k'mo ven r'eimim (Verse 7) kol YHVH chotzeiv lahavot esh (Verse 8) kol YHVH yachil midbar yachil YHVH midbar kadesh (Verse 9) kol YHVH y'choleil ayalot va-yechesof y'arot uv'heichalo kulo omer kavod (Verse 10) YHVH lamabul yashav va-yeishev YHVH melech l'olam (Verse 11) YHVH oz l'amo yiten YHVH y'vareich et amo va-shalom
Translation: (Verse 1) A Psalm of David. Ascribe unto YHVH, O ye sons of might, ascribe unto YHVH glory and strength. (Verse 2) Ascribe unto YHVH the glory due unto His name; worship YHVH in the beauty of holiness. (Verse 3) The voice of YHVH is upon the waters; the God of glory thundereth, even YHVH upon many waters. (Verse 4) The voice of YHVH is powerful; the voice of YHVH is full of majesty. (Verse 5) The voice of YHVH breaketh the cedars; yea, YHVH breaketh in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. (Verse 6) He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild-ox. (Verse 7) The voice of YHVH heweth out flames of fire. (Verse 8) The voice of YHVH shaketh the wilderness; YHVH shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. (Verse 9) The voice of YHVH maketh the hinds to calve, and strippeth the forests bare; and in His temple all say: 'Glory.' (Verse 10) YHVH sat enthroned at the flood; yea, YHVH sitteth as King for ever. (Verse 11) YHVH will give strength unto His people; YHVH will bless his people with peace.
I believe this is used as a magical incantation to calm the raging seas. However, we are informed that if you should find yourself in the waters of an angry sea, or on a boat, and you should want to calm the raging waves, write the listed triplets of the "Name of Seventy-Two Names" with the vowels on a pure deerskin parchment, a piece of clean cloth, or on clean white paper, and cast it in the stormy waters.
Now, I am particularly interested in sharing the use made of Divine Names, not only for personal physical well-being, but also for spiritual growth and alignment with higher "Powers." In this regard I have been taught that the contemplation of the Name Achatri'el in combination with other "Names of Power," specifically will facilitate an especially close union with very lofty "Spiritual Powers." However we are also informed that since these good and powerful Names invoke particularly powerful "Spirit Forces," they should be revealed only "to those who are called by the Divine One."
It is said the Names in question were derived from the following three phrases, each comprising exactly 28 letters.
The first is Genesis 1:1
Transliterated: Bereishit bara Elohim et ha-shamayim v'et ha-aretz
Translated: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
The second is Exodus 20:1
Transliterated: Vaidaber Elohim et kol ha-d'varim ha-eileh leimor
Translated: And God spoke all these words, saying.
The third is from the Kadish (Mourners Prayer)
Transliterated: Y'hei shmei raba m'varach l'olam ul'almei almaya
Translated: May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.
I was told that one could align with, and integrate, the special "Spirit Forces" inherent in "Achatri'el YH YHVH Tzva'ot Hadiriron" in the following manner:
1. Commence by mentally visualising and uttering
2. Recite the three phrases from which these Divine Names were derived.
3. Conclude by again mentally visualising and uttering
Besides attempting to align oneself with these mentioned unique "Spiritual Powers," it is worth noting that the Name Achatri'el is also employed in special Hebrew amulets. A good example of its talismanic use can be found in a Hebrew amulet (TS K1.94) which is part of a set of magical texts and amulets discovered in the Cairo Genizah. The Name Achatri'el, vocalised Echeitri'eil in this instance, is positioned with other letter combinations inside a hexagram, and encircled with a letter from one of the magical "Angelic Alphabets," e.g. "Writing of the Archangel Michael," "Celestial Alphabet," etc. placed inside each of the six corners, as shown below: The top inscription is an acronym of (YHVH God of Israel), and the combination below Achatri'el Divine Name is said to refer either to (Or Yashar—Straight Light) or (Or Yorad—Descending Light).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Kabbalistic Curiosities: Yohach Kalach & The Divine Leveller

In "The Book of Sacred Names," the second volume of "The Shadow Tree Series" I shared some details regarding a remarkable Divine Name, specifically Yohach Kalach , the practical uses of which I addressed in the mentioned text. This Divine Name comprises the final letters of the words of Psalm 91:11
Transliteration: ki mal’achav y’tzaveh lach lishmorcha b’chol d’rachecha
Translation: "For He will give his Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."
Regarding the term Yohach, we are informed that this is the Name of the "angel" in charge of Midot ha-Din, the "Qualities of Judgment," who is "appointed over divine vengeance," i.e. a "Divine Leveller," as well as a reference to the "avenging sword" of God, which pertains to the sixteen drops of wine spilled during the Pesach seder. In clarification we are told that the four letters comprising the Name Yohach includes two ideas, i.e. YV referring to the number sixteen and Hach meaning "striking." Hence the sixteen drops of wine spilled during the Passover dinner, are said to indicate the sixteen edges of the "avenging sword" and also the Name by means of which Egypt was struck with the ten plagues recounted in the Hebrew Bible.
Now, whilst the combination Yohach Kalach is found in many Hebrew amulets, there are several instances in which the Name Yohach is used without the accompanying Kalach. For example, I was taught to utter it seven times in rapid succession as an aid in solving difficult problems. Moses Zacutto mentioned a similar technique in his "Shorshei ha-Shemot," but in this particular instance this Divine Name is part of a set of five names, both divine and angelic, uttered seven times to invoke powerful "spirit intelligences" directly associated with these names, in order to find a solution to any difficult problem. The five names are:
Transliteration: Yohach Taftafyah Tzamarchad Natzari’el Ozi’el
The first two Divine Names, i.e. Yohach and Taftafiah, are easily recognisable, and the concluding two angelic names are equally decipherable, since they derive respectively from the roots (Natzar—"to watch," "guard" or "preserve") and (Oz—"to take refuge"). Hence, these Angelic names could be interpreted "My guardian is El" (Natzari’el) and "My refuge is El" (Ozi’el). Very potent "spirit forces" to invoke in difficult situations.
Tzamarchad, the remaining Divine Name in the centre which is often linked to Taftafyah and Yohach Kalach in Jewish magic, was derived from the concluding letters of the first five verses of Genesis chapter 1. It is said this Name is employed to bring confusion in the mind of the individual against whom it is directed. On the other hand, Henry Cornelius Agrippa, the Renaissance Christian Kabbalist, claimed and its sister equivalent , constructed from the first letters of the same verses in Genesis, are used respectively on the front and back of an amulet "against the affrightments and mischief of evil spirits and men, and what dangers soever, either of journey, waters, enemies, arms.....and by this Ligature they say that a man shall be free from all mischiefes, if so be that he firmly beleeveth in God the creator of all things."
Here are the diagrams of this amulet portrayed as it appeared in the original Latin edition of Agrippa’s "Occult Philosophy": Agrippa’s version of the Name is however faulty. The last letter should be a Dalet and not a Chet or a Heh , these being often portrayed in the same manner in the writings of the Christian Kabbalists. As is so often the case with Hebrew glyphs in Renaissance Latin works, it is difficult to distinguish between several letters, as for example in the case of the letter (Bet) and (Kaf) used in the amulet currently under discussion. Hence, the Kaf in this unique Name has been mistakenly portrayed a Bet in both translations as well as later plagiarised offerings of Agrippa’s work.
Be that as it may, there is a lot more to this very powerful Divine Name, which is directly related to the most primordial act of creation, as depicted in those biblical verses it was derived from. It has been suggested that its pronunciation should be Tzemiroch’da, this being in accordance with the vowels associated with its component letters in the said verses of Genesis, i.e.
Tzeha-aretz (—"the earth" [verse 1])
Miha-mayim (—"the waters" [verse 2])
Roor (—"light" [verse 3])
Chha-choshech (—"the darkness" [verse 4])
Daechad (—"One" [verse 5])
These words represent the coalescing of "Earth" and "Water," "Light" and "Darkness," i.e. "elemental forces" made "One" in Tzemiroch’da.
Now, as indicated, the combination (Yohach Kalach) is quite common in protection amulets, and it is often employed in conjunction with other names, such as Achatri’el as shown below: In this specific instance we are told that there are malevolent "Spirit Forces" called , who are inclined to attack and kill the humans they encounter. To protect ourselves against all pernicious powers of this nature, or to generally "clean" a home of an unfavourable spiritual ambience, i.e. its negative psychic atmosphere, as it were, we are instructed to work a special protection ritual. First the room in which you are working is smoked with a piece of lit sulphur. You then commence the creation of a protection amulet by writing at the top of a "kosher scroll," parchment, or a sheet of clean white paper, the Divine Name (Hadiriron), and directly underneath it: Amongst this set of Divine Names, collectively termed the "Signature of God," three are easily identified, i.e. Tzva’ot, Atneik and Tzortak. The remaining Names are somewhat obscure. I suspect they are related to the Divine Name Tiftufyah, hence could be pronounced Itufah Itufah Chitufah Nitufah. In terms of the pronunciation of the Name Taftafyah, they might well be based on the word (Tuf) meaning "to drip" or "to sprinkle." It would seem that in this instance the actual vocalisation of these words are not of much importance, since these Divine Names are actualised, so to speak, by being moistened with ones personal body fluid. This is achieved by licking the Divine Names written on the parchment, and then to conclude the action by quaffing a little water.
Following this portion of the instruction, you have to wait three days, after which you continue with the next stage of the ritual procedure if necessary, by writing the first six "Names" of the "Shem Vayisa Vayet" (Name of Seventy-two Names), these being: Next write the following below these Names:
Transliteration: Yehe rava min kod’mecha ha-shem ha-gadol sheyit’rafeh (.....fill in personal name.....) bekoach shem Ayin-Bet otioteicha ha-kadoshim
Translation: "Your Name will be greater than it was before, he will heal (.....fill in personal name.....) through the power of the holy letter-signs of the Name of Seventy-two."
Finally, the procedure is concluded by drawing the image comprising the Yohach Kalach Achatri’el combination shown above, and then to carry the entire construct, now a fully functional Hebrew amulet, on your person.
As you noticed, the power of the amulet is enhanced by the presence of the first six letter-sign combinations from the Shem Vayisa Vayet. The "Name of Seventy-two Names" is understood to govern everyone and everything throughout manifestation. It does not only have rulership over the physical, e.g. bodies, limbs and ligaments, but also reigns over spirit forces like the Shedin, Lilin, Ruchin, Mazikin, Se’irim, etc.