Thursday, February 10, 2011

Seeking Answers from Divine Sources - Part 1

A query regarding "She'elah b'Hakitz," i.e. seeking answers to life questions from "Divine Sources" in a "magical manner" whilst fully awake, was posted a while back to the "Concepts of Kabbalah" egroup. The actual techniques employed are akin to "She'elat Chalom" ("Dream Questioning"), of which a number of procedures are extant in primary "Practical Kabbalah" literature. Several of these require careful preparation of body, mind and soul, the utterance of Divine Names with kavvanah (focussed attention and intention), and involve the direct, personal "revelation" of answers to the querant in, as it were, a "prognosticatory" manner, in some instances without the need of any "spirit intermediaries." This being said, there are also a number of techniques not requiring any special preparation as such, and whilst some of these practices involve the use of Divine Names only, there are others which do require the support of "malachim" (angelic beings), albeit the latter being usually adjured in conjunction with Divine Names.

Tracing "She'elah b'Hakitz" methods in the literature of "Practical Kabbalah," it is clear that there are numerous procedures dealing with "dream questioning," yet relatively few detailing related techniques worked whilst fully awake. As a case in point, I found around fifty odd practices on "She'elat Chalom" in "Shorshei ha-Shemot" by Moses Zacutto, yet only twelve dealing with "She'elah b'Hakitz." Interesting details regarding both "She'elat Chalom" and "She'elah b'Hakitz" can be found in an extensive essay by Moshe Idel titled "Iyyunim b'Shitat Ba'al Sefer ha-Meshiv," and another fair resource on this topic is "Studies in Jewish Dream Interpretation" by Monford Harris.

As said, certain "She'elah b'Hakitz" practices require careful preparation of the one seeking answers to queries by means of this kind of procedure. In an untitled manuscript (Ms. Sassoon 290) we are told that the querant, prior to working "She'elah b'Hakitz," should be purified and immersed (in the Mikvah [the Jewish ritual bath]), dressed in white clothing, and should have undergone special preparation for a three day period during which several Divine Names are enunciated, etc. In fact, we are told that these Divine Names include a special "Shem ha-Meforash," (not the well-known "Ineffable Name") which a certain Rabbi Simeon (the Great [?]) brought back to this earthly domain after one of his sojourns in the celestial realms. This unique Name is said to have been used in the primordial "act of Creation," that it can be employed to create a Golem (artificial humanoid), as well as to receive spiritual insight and guidance on waking from a sleep which was induced by means of certain Divine Names.

Be that as it may, from amongst the "She'elah b'Hakitz" practices listed in "Shorshei ha-Shemot," I have selected two procedures which do not require unduly great physical and spiritual preparation to work successfully. I have tried out the first of the two techniques, which I have subsequently continued to employ with great effect. What is more, it is relatively easy to execute, so here it is.

The main Divine Name to be used in this technique is (vocalised Yahv'-yoraynee). This Divine Name is interesting in that it comprises the fundamental three letters of the Ineffable Name (), and the term Yoreini () meaning "to show me" or "to teach me." To work this technique successfully one has to commence with a single recitation of Isaiah 25:1 which reads:


YHVH Elohai atah aromimcha odeh shimcha ki asita pele eitzot meirachok emunah omein
YHVH Thou art my God, I will exalt Thee, I will praise Thy Name, for Thou hast done wonderful things; even councels of old, in faithfulness and truth.
This is followed by the following adjuration which must be said three times:

Y'hi ratzon milfanecha Elohei Yisra'el sh'ta'aneini v'bi'ur nachon al she'elati shehi (question) b'koach shem ha-yotze mipasuk zeh
May it be your will God of Israel that you should answer me with the correct explanation on my question (here fill in the question) through the power of the Name which emanates from this verse.
Afterwards you have to utter the earlier mentioned Divine Name (Yahv'-yoraynee) three times, and the answer will forthwith pop into your mind.
The second technique which I wish to share is somewhat more complex, and since it will take a little time to prepare it in the same detailed manner in which I have attempted here with the first technique, I will have to present it in a second missive.

Images of Angels & Personifications of the Divine One

If there is something I find particularly problematic in a number of magical/mystical teachings, it is the reliance on transitory "signs" and "wonders" as absolute "truth"! I am truly bothered by questioners wanting me to explain the "ethics" of "summoning a powerful being" by, as it were, "trapping" him/her/it inside a "crystal." This, we are told, is done to bring a "spirit entity" to visual less! Herein lies the issue, since all "visions" of "Spirit Intelligences," or of the Almighty for that matter, are seriously problematic as far as actual "verity" is concerned.
Kabbalah makes it absolutely clear that the "image" one receives of a "malach" (angelic messenger), is for the personal convenience and benefit of the one who is "seeing" that image. The anthropomorphic image of a "god" or "spirit messenger," is actually formed in the mind of the "seer," always in accordance with his or her specific conditioning and mindset at the time. In other words, while you might "evoke" the "image" of an "angel" in the "crystal," that image is not the actual presence of the "spirit intelligence" being "summoned."
Fundamentally all "imaging" of "Spiritual Intelligences," of the "Eternal Living Spirit," etc., are as transitory as anything else in manifestation, and the images will fade if you sit long enough. Of course, the "image" of an "angelic being" may be appropriate to the one who is "seeing" it, but it is definitely not appropriate to that which is "seen," as Elliot R. Wolfson explained in "Through a Speculum that Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism," an outstanding text dealing this very topic.
In offering this response to a querant, I was informed that whilst he concurs with me, he would still like to have my thoughts on the "ethical aspect" when it comes to conjurations reading "In the name of [Divine names] I command you to appear in comely shape....," etc. I was equally informed that numerous adjurations of this nature appears in "grimoires," and that they "work" because "visions" will appear if "you stay with it."
To this my response is simply, I have no trust whatsoever in ANY images of whatever nature appearing in crystals, or in visions of whatever nature, beyond perhaps the revelation of something possibly meaningful to the "seer," as in the case of the prophets of old. This is more or less the stance of Jewish mystics who carefully investigated and addressed this topic. In other words, the "images" which the individual in question sat so long to see, will, as said earlier, disappear if he continues to sit long enough. In fact, nothing really remains to be said on this matter.
Now, regarding the idea of forcibly "commanding" spirit intelligences "to appear in comely shapes," and to execute whatever is commanded without question, let me put it simply, whilst this is the way in which those who wrote those "grimoires" fancy themselves gaining control over every living force on earth and in the heavens, the stance of "Practical Kabbalah" is somewhat different. There is no general assumption that the universe and all its denizens were created for us to make, break and command in any way we deem fit, and that all and sundry must simply scrape up to our human wills and fulfill every selfish human whim. Such is plain nonsense!
In the main, the traditional adjurations of "Kabbalah Ma'asit" (Practical Kabbalah) commence with an acknowledgement of Divine authority over "All," hence, above all else, they attempt to align with "Divine Will." Thus one often encounters the adjurations of this Tradition commencing with a standard formula which reads "Y'hi ratzon milfanecha.....," i.e. "May it be in accordance with Your will....."
It should be noted that there are numerous differences between the ritual practices of this Tradition and those which are pandered around in the popular "grimoires." The ritual procedures of one Tradition should never in any way be mistaken for those of another. Plainer still, the specific "ethical issues" which the individual in question is finding so bothersome in terms of the "grimoires" he perused, are not applicable to "Practical Kabbalah"!