Monday, March 12, 2012

Tracing the Bet - Part 1

In "The Book of Self Creation" I addressed certain practical workings based on the set of permutations of the Ineffable Name termed the “Twelve Banners” in Joseph Gikatilla’s “Gates of Light” as indicated in the following table:
These permutations have been attributed to the twelve months, the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and the twelve ancient Hebrew Tribes. They have also been divided into four groups, each attributed to an “Element,” “Direction,” etc. However, there is again no consensus to be found in primary Kabbalistic literature regarding these attributions. For example, Aryeh Kaplan noted that the permutations attributed to Elul and Adar are interchangeable. It would seem that Gikatilla’s delineation of the “Twelve Banners” was fairly standard amongst the older Kabbalists, and that the switching occurred specifically in Lurianic Kabbalah, i.e as shown in “Or Levanah” by Shalom Sharabi, Lurianic Siddurim (prayer books); etc. We might also note that much of the practical techniques of pre-Lurianic Kabbalah were dismissed out of hand as “bad” and even declared taboo by the Lurianic faction.
Having investigated the related sets of permutations in, amongst others, “Chayei ha-Olam ha-Ba,” “Mafteach ha-Shemot,” "Sefer Raziel," and "Shorshei ha-Shemot," all of which align with the “Sha’arei Orah,” I personally subscribe to Joseph Gikatilla’s attributions, as shown in the following illustration. It certainly offers the clearest sequence of attributes in terms of the practical workings we are addressing:
To facilitate a better understanding of the associated practical applications, we need to consider additional details, i.e. besides the alignment of the “Twelve Banners” with months, Zodiac signs and Hebrew Tribes, each permutation is respectively associated with a verse from the Tanach (Hebrew Bible), in which the initial letters or final letters of the component words spell the related permutation, like this:
(More to follow)

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