Monday, April 30, 2012

Sacred Writ & Kameot: Psalms.....Psalms.....Everywhere! - Part 5

As far as its employment in Hebrew amulets is concerned, Psalm 67 features particularly prominently in protection amulets, and whilst we have thus far looked at complete Psalms or large sections comprising several verses being used in Kameot, entire Psalms or verses therefrom are often employed in abbreviated formats in Hebrew amulets. Such condensations are considered equally as effective as the Psalm it represents. Taking Psalm 67, the “Menorah Psalm,” as a case in point, we note that the entire Psalm was abbreviated, with its traditional menorah format maintained, in order to fit on fairly small metal amulets, as indicated in the following Shiviti Kamea:
This amulet comprises a superscript from Psalm 16:8 reading (Shiviti YHVH l’negdi tamid—“I have set YHVH before me always”), hence the appellative “Shiviti” amulet. The right outer, bottom, and left outer border of the construct comprise an abbreviation of Numbers 8:4, with the left border including both the conclusion of the said verse, as well as an abbreviation of Genesis 49:18, as shown below:
v’zeh ma’aseh ha-menorah mikshah zahav ad y’rechah ad.....
“And this was the work of the candlestick, beaten work of gold; unto the base thereof, and unto.....”
Transliteration: pir’chah mikshah hiv kamar’eh asher.....
“.....unto the flowers thereof, it was beaten work; according unto the pattern.....”
.....her’ah YHVH et Moshe ken asah et ha-menorah (Genesis 49:18) lishu’atcha kiviti YHVH
“.....which YHVH had shown Moses, so he made the candlestick.” (Genesis 49:18) “I wait for Thy salvation YHVH.”
The method of abbreviation employed here is “Serugin” or “trellis writing,” which is affiliated to the Kabbalistic system of Notarikon, which I have defined in “The Book of Sacred Names” to be “a sort of short-hand, or system of acronyms. Notarikon is therefore a method in which the single letters of a word, become words themselves.” In the case of the Serugin method, an entire chapter can be condensed by employing the initials or the first two letters of a word. In this regard, Psalm 67 was compressed in the Shiviti amulet in the following manner:
Verse 1: [First three letters of the first three words; and first two letters of the concluding word]
Verse 2 [1]: [First two letters of the first five words; the initial of the next word; and the first two letters of the concluding word]
Verse 3 [2]: [First two letters of the first five words; and the initial of the concluding word]
Verse 4 [3]: [First two letters of the first five words; and the initial of the concluding word]
Verse 5 [4]: [First three letters of the first word; first two letters of the succeeding nine words; and the first letter of the concluding word]
Verse 6 [5]: [First two letters of the first word; and the initials of the following five words]
Verse 7 [6]: [Initial of the first word; first two letters of the following two words; and the initials of the concluding three words]
Verse 8 [7]: [Initials of the first six words; and the first two letters of the concluding word]
The remaining portions of the Shiviti amulet comprise:
[Right] (Sanoi)
[Left] (Sansanoi)
Initial letters of the first nine words comprising Genesis 49:22 reading:
ben porat Josef ben porat alei ayin benot tza’adah.....
“Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine by a fountain; its branches run.....”
The initials of the concluding two words of Genesis 49:22 reading (alei shur—“over the wall”); (Argaman—Divine Name constructed from the initials of the names of the angels Auriel [Oriel], Rafael, Gavriel, Michael and Nuriel); and concluding with the initials of the phrase (Chen y’hi ratzon—“Be it willed” [“So mote it be”]).
Each of the items constituting this amulet, are dealt with separately in "The Book of Seals and Amulets," and much of the mentioned material has been fairly extensively addressed in "The Book of Sacred Names."
Be that as it may, it should be noted that whilst this Shiviti Kamea was created to protect a woman in childbirth, against the “evil eye” and the demoness Lilith, the “Menorah Psalm” is also abbreviated on Hebrew amulets, as a call for help by individuals who find themselves in grievous circumstances. In this regard there are Kameot constructed from only the initials of the words comprising this Psalm, all of which were configured into a set of eighteen letter combinations as shown below:
Whilst this presentation is certainly a lot simpler than the method employed in the Shiviti Kamea, those who prefer an even quicker and somewhat easier “call for spiritual help” when they find themselves in dire need, have noted that single verses from the same Psalm can equally be employed on Hebrew amulets in the same abbreviated manner, e.g.
verse 2 is abbreviated ;
verse 1 and 2 reduced to ;
and verse 2 and 3 to .
Any of these abbreviations could be applied for the very same purpose assigned to the entire Psalm.
In conclusion, it is worth noting that a very special Divine Name, , was constructed from the initial of the first words of verses 2 to 8 of Psalm 67. This Name is said to pertain to the wonders of the sacred incense (k’toret).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sacred Writ & Kameot: Psalms.....Psalms.....Everywhere! - Part 4

As far as “amuletic uses” are concerned, not many Psalms are listed in this regard in the Sefer Shimmush Tehillim. As it is, this text paid very scant attention to Psalm 67, referring only to its magical uses for prisoners and the mitigation of unrelenting fevers, whereas this Psalm is extensively employed in Hebrew amulets. This beautiful Psalm reads:
(Verse 1) Lamnatze’ah binginot mizmor shir
(Verse 2 [1]) Elohim yechoneinu vivar’cheinu ya’eir panav itanu selah
(Verse 3 [2]) lada’at ba’aretz darkecha b’chol goyim y’shu’atecha
(Verse 4 [3]) yoducha amim Elohim yoducha amim kulam
(Verse 5 [4]) yishm’chu viran’nu l’umim ki tishpot amim mishpor ul’umim ba’aretz tanchem selah
(Verse 6 [5]) yoducha amim Elohim yoducha amim kulam
(Verse 7 [6]) eretz nat’na y’vulah y’var’cheinu Elohim eloheinu
(Verse 8 [7]) y’var’cheinu Elohim v’yir’u oto kol afsei aretz
(Verse 1) For the Leader; with string-music. A Psalm, a Song.
(Verse 2 [1]) God be gracious unto us, and bless us; may He cause His face to shine toward us; Selah
(Verse 3 [2]) That Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy salvation among all nations.
(Verse 4 [3]) Let the peoples give thanks unto Thee, O God; let the peoples give thanks unto Thee, all of them.
(Verse 5 [4]) O let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for Thou wilt judge the peoples with equity, and lead the nations upon earth. Selah
(Verse 6 [5]) Let the peoples give thanks unto Thee, O God; let the peoples give thanks unto Thee, all of them.
(Verse 7 [6]) The earth hath yielded her increase; may God, our own God, bless us.
(Verse 8 [7]) May God bless us; and let all the ends of the earth fear Him.
It has been suggested that this Psalm is based on the Priestly Blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 reading:
Y’varech’cha YHVH v’yishm’recha
Ya’eir YHVH panav eilecha vichuneka
Yisa YHVH panav eilecha v’yasem l’cha shalom
YHVH bless thee, and keep thee,
YHVH make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee,
YHVH lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
We are reminded that the “word” of the Almighty “often took the shape of light. So frequent was the writing of Psalm 67 in candelabrum design it was called the menorah psalm. Letters of the words shaped the branches of the light holders: ‘God bless us, be merciful to us, and cause the light of his face to shine upon us’” [Cosman, Madeline P. & Jones, Linda G.: Handbook to Life in the Medieval World, Vol. 2]. As it is, the 15th century kabbalist Isaac Arama maintained in his “Akedat Yitzchak” that this Psalm was engraved in the image of the Menorah (seven branched candlelabrum) on the shield of the biblical King David as shown below:
The superscript of the Menorah Psalm comprises the twenty letters of the introductory verse divided into six groups of three letters each, i.e. three to the right and three to the left, with the centre column headed by the two middle letters of the verse. In turn, the seven branches of the construct comprise the remaining seven verses, with verse 5 [4] forming both the central branch and the base of the menorah.
In terms of the conjecture that Psalm 67, rather than the standard hexagram, was the original “Magen David,” there is a statement in a tractate titled “The Golden Menorah,” published around 1580 in Prague, that “this psalm together with the menorah alludes to great things.....When King David went out to war, he used to carry on his shield this psalm in the form of a menorah engraved on a golden tablet and he used to meditate on its secret. Thus he was victorious” [Zion, Noam & Spectre, Barbara: A Different Light: The Big Book of Hanukkah]. It is thus no wonder that the psalm in question has been accredited enormous powers of healing and protection, and it is mainly in terms of the latter magical quality that Psalm 67 is employed in a variety of Hebrew amulets.
(More to follow)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sacred Writ & Kameot: Psalms.....Psalms.....Everywhere! - Part 3

Whilst writing this investigation into the use of Psalms in Hebrew amulets, I kept wondering why the anonymous author of the Sefer Shimmush Tehillim chose those specific uses for each psalm, whilst there are other listed applications. It is clear that he had derived much of his suggestions from timeworn traditional sources pertaining to the “magical” uses of the Book of Psalms, some of which can be found in the Talmud and in various Midrashim. There are however many more magical uses of individual and groups of psalms, which did not find their way into the Sefer Shimmush Tehillim.
As it is, it is not only the first Psalm which is used to avoid miscarriage. In fact, Genesis 21:1 and Exodus 11:8 are also often used to lighten childbirth. Furthermore, not only selected verses from the Torah were used to ease childbirth, but in this regard the entire Sefer Torah (the scroll of the Pentateuch or “Five Books of Moses”) became a most venerated “amulet,” so to speak. Many still believe that an exhortation in the name of the “Torah” is good enough to get a womb to respond in the required manner. For example, Joshua Trachtenberg in Jewish Magic and Superstition, relates a popular Ashkenazic incantation which reads: “Baermutter (womb) lie down! With these words I adjure thee with nine Torahs, with nine pure Sefer Torahs!”
We should also remember that in Judaism there are very stringent rules as far as ones behaviour towards a Torah scroll is concerned. However, the very fact that it is considered an extraordinary special “sacred object,” looked upon by many to be a manifested portion of the very “Being” of the Divine One, often encouraged the ordinary folk to use it as a most powerful talisman so to speak. Even though any act of impiety towards the Torah would be met with strong retribution, Trachtenberg tells us that some Jewish clergy actually allowed “such practices only in case a life was in danger.” For example, “when an infant was ill and could not sleep, or a woman was convulsed in labor pains, the Scroll was brought in and laid upon the sufferer to alleviate the pain.” The many voices objecting to this kind of practice, and the statement of a Rabbi in the Talmud that “it is forbidden to heal by words of Torah,” whilst allowing their use for protection only, proved quite fruitless when we observe the magical and theurgical uses Scripture was put to down the ages to this day. “The Bible performed functions for which its inspired creators had never intended it,” noted Trachtenberg laconically.
We are reminded that the usual formula in the magical use of holy writ is: “Recite this verse with its name...,” with the understanding of course, that the power of the verse derives from the Divine Name which is claimed to be hidden in certain words in the Biblical text. This is quite a standard pattern in magical texts of this nature, but I should add that the Bible is used in Jewish Magic for both incantational and talismanic purposes. For example, the verses from Genesis and Exodus referred to earlier were not only employed in magical incantations, but were equally used in Hebrew amulets, i.e. to be worn by the woman in labour. Sometimes not even the entire verse was engraved on an amulet, but only the initial letters of each word were used to construct what was considered to be a most affective amulet which will successfully work the purpose of its design.
Now, the second Psalm is also employed for “health purposes." It reads:
(Verse 1) Lama rag’shu goyim ul’umim yeh’gu rik
(Verse 2) Yit’yatz’vu malchei eretz v’roznim nosdu yachad al YHVH v’al m’shichu
(Verse 3) N’nat’kah et mos’roteimo v’naslichah mimenu avoteimo
(Verse 4) Yoshev bashamayim yis’chak adonai yil’ag lamo
(Verse 5) Az y’daber eleimo v’apo uvacharono y’vahaleimo
(Verse 6) Va’ani yasach’ti malki al tzion har kad’shi
(Verse 7) Asap’ra el chok YHVH amar eilai b’ni atah ani hayom y’lid’ticha
(Verse 8) Sh’al mimeni v’et’na goyim nachalatecha va’achuzat’cha af’sei aretz
(Verse 9) T’ro eim b’shevet bar’zel kich’li yotzer t’nap’tzeim
(Verse 10) V’atah m’lachim haskilu hivasru shof’tei aretz
(Verse 11) Iv’du et YHVH b’yir’ah v’gilu bir’adah
(Verse 12) Nash’ku var pen ye’enaf v’tov’du derech ki yiv’ar kim’at apo ashrei kol chosei vo
(Verse 1) Why are the nations in an uproar? And why do the peoples mutter in vain?
(Verse 2) The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together against YHVH, and against His anointed:
(Verse 3) ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.’
(Verse 4) ‘He that sitteth in heaven laugheth, Adonai hath them in derision.
(Verse 5) Then will He speak unto them in His wrath, and affright them in His sore displeasure:
(Verse 6) ‘Truly it is I that have established My king upon Zion, My holy mountain.’
(Verse 7) I will tell of the decree: YHVH said unto me: ‘Thou are My son, this day have I begotten thee.
(Verse 8) Ask of Me, and I will give the nations for thine inheritance, and the end of the earth for thy possession.
(Verse 9) Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’
(Verse 10) Now therefore, O ye kings, be wise; be admonished, ye judges of the earth.
(Verse 11) Serve YHVH with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
(Verse 12) Do homage in purity, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way, when suddenly His wrath is kindled. Happy are all they that take refuge in Him.
Regarding the earlier mentioned "health" application, we are informed to write down the first nine verses of this Psalm up to the phrase "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron" on clean parchment. This is to be worn like a pendant on ones person in order to alleviate headaches. Be that as it may, the Sefer Shimmush Tehillim lists a further application of the second Psalm. In this instance it refers to instances when one should find oneself caught in a violent storm at sea. In order to be saved from the deluge it is suggested that one should first recite Psalm 2 in its entirety, then write it on a potsherd, and afterwards cast the latter into the raging sea.
More to follow)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sacred Writ & Kameot: Psalms.....Psalms.....Everywhere! - Part 2

When it comes to the recitation of the Psalms for magical purposes, I personally prefer doing so in Hebrew, since I concur with those Kabbalists who believe every word of the Hebrew Psalms to be a “Holy Name,” the utterance of which will invoke specific forces with very definite effects. For that reason it would be extremely important to pronounce the words correctly, and this is not as easy as it may seem. Besides the inability of most readers to do so, as they are not familiar with Hebrew and will probably have to learn the psalms “parrot fashion,” mistakes could creep in during the utterance of a specific psalm, which might invoke psycho-physical responses not quite bargained for. The pronunciation of Hebrew words is in itself a problem, as there are different ways of speaking Hebrew amongst different communities. In this regard, as far as I have been taught, it is most important to know how to pronounce a Hebrew word, yet with some reservations, since the utterance of Divine Names equally differs amongst the various factions.
Psalms.....Psalms.....Psalms everywhere, used for every imaginable “magical purpose,” hence a full investigation into the “Magical Use of Psalms” is important, and warrants more than superficial perusal. In fact, such a study deserves to have the entire Shimmush Tehillim presented here. However, in this present volume of the “Shadow Tree Series,” we will pay attention to the employment of Psalms and other portions of the Tanach (Hebrew Bible) in Hebrew amulets only. It should also be kept in mind that the Psalms and their respective verses are presented in the order they appear in the Hebrew Bible, which is different from their format in the Protestant Christian Bible. Hence we will commence this investigation with the first Psalm employed for “amuletic” purposes, which is in fact Psalm 1. The anonymous author of the Sefer Shimmush Tehillim instructs us to write the first three verses of this Psalm on deer skin to be worn as a pendant, for the purposes of preventing a pregnant woman from premature delivery or from suffering a miscarriage. The mentioned verses read:
(Verse 1) Ashrei ha-ish asher lo halach ba’atzat r’sha’im uv’derech chata’im lo amad uv’moshav leitzim lo yashav
(Verse 2) Ki im b’torat YHVH chef’tzo uv’torato yeh’geh yomam v’lailah
(Verse 3) V’hayah k’etz shatul al palgei mayim asher pir’yo yiten b’ito v’aleihu lo yibol v’chol asher ya’aseh yatzli’ach
(Verse 1) Happy is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful.
(Verse 2) But his delight is in the law of YHVH; and in His law doth he meditate day and night.
(Verse 3) And he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, that bringeth forth its fruit in its season, and whose leaf doth not wither; and in whatsoever he doeth he shall prosper.
We are informed the associated Divine Name is El Chad , which Selig informs us is signifying “great, strong, only God.” The term “Chad” in the Divine Name does not really mean “great,” “strong” or “only.” The Hebrew term means “sharp” or “acute.” The translator may have derived the meaning of “only,” by seeing a connection between the words “Chad” and “Echad,” the latter meaning “one.” As it is, the Divine Name, El Chad, was derived from the initial letters of first, second and fourth words, and the last letter of the second as shown below:

from (Ashrei — “Blessed” [verse 1]);
from (Lo chen—“not so” [verse 4]);
from (Yatzliach—“prosper” [verse 3]; and
from (Derech R’sha’im—“way of the ungodly” [verse 6]).
I cannot quite fathom why the author chose these specific words in the mentioned verses, as there are several others he might have chosen, and which would have sufficed equally. For example, the word Derech appears several times in the Psalm, in fact in the very first verse. So why select the term from verse 6, when the latter is not employed in the amulet? I am also left somewhat stranded, when I thought that I might find a meaning by reading the four words as a sentence. This proved to be somewhat nonsensical. Of course, one could “force” a meaning out of it, but I prefer to leave this to the speculations of those more intrigued than I am by this peculiarity in the Sefer Shimmush Tehillim. Be that as it may, to complete the construction of the amulet in question, we are informed to include on it the following prayer:
Y’hi ratzon milfanecha El Chad sheta’aseh l’ishah [.....fill in the name of the woman.....] shelo tapil v’tirpa’enah r’fu’ah shleimah mei’atah v’ad olam omein omein omein selah selah selah
May it be your will El Chad to protect this woman [.....fill in the name of the woman.....] against miscarriage and to heal her completely forthwith and throughout eternity. Amen Amen Amen, Selah Selah Selah.
Curiously enough, the same three verses from the first Psalm are also recommended as an amulet to promote success in all ones endeavours. In this regard the specific reference is to the concluding phrase of verse 3 reading "and in whatsoever he doeth he shall prosper."
(More to follow)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sacred Writ & Kameot: Psalms.....Psalms.....Everywhere! - Part 1

In ancient days two kinds of scriptural texts were chosen for practical or magical purposes, i.e. verses containing God-names, or referring to Divine power and deeds, and those verses which appear to be especially aligned with the specific condition necessitating their employment. It was believed that these portions of scripture are filled with a celestial power capable of affecting a definite result, when used with proper Kavvanah, i.e. appropriate attitude, mindset and focussed intention. It should be noted that the entire Hebrew Bible is considered to be comprised of “God-names,” these being understood to be present in every single sentence of holy writ. Thus we often encounter magical instructions which are accompanied by the instruction to “Recite this verse with its name.....” It has been written that “the entire Torah is composed of the names of God, and in consequence it has the property of saving and protecting man.”
Some years ago I was queried as to whether it was appropriate for non-Jewish students of Kabbalah “to use the Jewish Prayer book and the Tehillim on a daily basis.” As it is, I believe it absolutely appropriate for anybody to use the Siddur (Jewish Prayer Book)and the Hebrew Bible. Why not? What is important is the intention of the one using these texts. If a person is inspired and moved by their use, I cannot see why that individual should not derive great benefit rather than otherwise. Naturally I cannot be sure that the whole of international Jewry would back me on this, but I certainly cannot see the Divine One imposing some sort of frightful reprisal on any individual using a Siddur and reciting Tehillim (Psalms) with proper Kavvanah (focussed intention). The reference in the query to “Tehillim” (Psalms) is of particular importance to those interested in the magical workings of Kabbalah Ma’asit (Practical Kabbalah). Recognising the power of the Hebrew psalms, an entire magical system was developed and published in a work titled the “Sefer Shimmush Tehillim” (Book of the Magical Use of Psalms).
Though attributed to Rav Hai Gaon, this text was written by an anonymous author. It is a fairly small, anonymous, mediaeval compilation, existing in several Hebrew editions, as well as in an Aramaic manuscript, which was translated into several languages. Its popularity led to the Vatican ultimately placing it on the “Index Librorum Prohibitum” (“Index of Forbidden Books”). An acquaintance and serious researcher of this text, referred to the Shimmush Tehillim as a “cookbook” since “it gives a list of recipes, each requiring the use of a chapter or verses from the book of Psalms, to solve various problems, but gives no rationale or explanation for them.”
This mysterious text pertains to the magical and theurgical use of Divine Names, which, as said, is based on the idea that the entirety of holy writ is comprised of the Names of God. In many instances in the Shimmush Tehillim, the special emphasis is on “Divine Names” which gives the psalms their magical potencies. Individual verses and entire psalms are employed in a magical way for a wide range of physical and spiritual needs, like protection from demons, illness, or against an attack from man and beast, etc. Using several Kabbalistic methods, magical names were formed from letters derived from their respectively associated psalms. In most cases the methodology employed in the construction of these Names is lost, or at least very difficult to ascertain, since the possible combinations and permutations of the Hebrew letters are factually endless. Of course, the manner in which the Divine Names, employed in this enigmatic text, were composed, is really unimportant. What really matters is the effectiveness of the magical techniques shared in this remarkable little text.
As it is, the various psalms are considered extremely powerful, and their religious fervor and beauty are highly regarded. Psalms are recited during all critical situations in the public and private lives of people, and each week the entire book is completely read in certain communities, not only as part of religious ritual, but in the belief that this is the most powerful protection of the community against harm. It was often considered good enough to recite in alphabetical order the psalms which spell the name of a city in danger, as the most effective means of protection. In the Shimmush Tehillim psalms are employed in a magical sense for highly personal and quite mundane objectives, albeit very important ones in terms of human survival on this planet. In fact, the entire biblical Book of Psalms formed a major component of the “magical gear” of mediaeval magicians.
A popular English translation, available since 1788, was made of the Sefer Shimmush Tehillim by an anonymous translator in America from a certain Godfrey Selig’s German version of this text. It was eventually incorporated in a spurious magical compilation titled “The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses.” A favourite of “Hoodoo” and those who have a predilection for American “folk magic,” this translation was also published under the title “Secrets of the Psalms.” Besides being extremely verbose, there are unfortunately many errors and corruptions of Hebrew words and Divine Names in this translation. One would have expected the translator to have cross-checked each magical prescription with its associated Psalm in the Bible, so as to ensure that the terms used are correct, especially in cases where a word clearly does not exist in Hebrew, and a quick perusal of the appropriate Psalm would expose it as a corruption of a well-known Hebrew term. As it is, the translator/publisher deemed it necessary to insert every now and again an “admonition from the translator” in the text, cautioning against the incorrect use of these magical techniques, which again leaves one quite perturbed as to why these only too obvious errors were allowed into the translation.
(More to follow)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The "Name of Seventy-two Names": A Biblical Spin-off - Part 9

(The list of books is in the order of appearance as aligned with the references in the relevant chapter of the "The Book of Sacred Names," hence they are not in alphabetical order)
Swartz. M.D: Mystical Prayer in Ancient Judaism: An Analysis of Ma’aseh Merkavah, J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tübingen 1992.
Swartz. M.D: Scholastic Magic: Ritual and Revelation in Early Jewish Mysticism, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1996.
Lesses, R.M.: Ritual Practices to Gain Power: Angels, Incantations and Revelations in Early Jewish Mysticism, Trinity Press International, Harrisburg 1998.
Schäfer, P.: Hekhalot Studien, J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tübingen 1988.
Schäfer, P.: Synopse zur Hekhalot Literatur, J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tübingen 1981.
Schäfer, P.: The Hidden and Manifest God: Some Major Themes in Early Jewish Mysticism, SUNY Press, New York 1992.
Davila, J.R.: Descenders to the Chariot: The People Behind the Hekhalot Literature, E.J. Brill, Leiden 2001.
Eleazar ben Yehudah of Worms: Sefer ha-Chochmah, MS Oxford-Bodleian 1568, relevant portions transl. in Idel, M.: Kabbalah: New Perspectives, Yale University Press, New Haven & London 1988.
Abulafia, A.: Sefer Chayei ha-Olam ha-Ba, Aharon Barazani, Jerusalem 2001.
Abulafia, A.: Or ha-Sechel, Aharon Barazani, Jerusalem 2001.
Abulafia, A.: The Path of Names, transl. B. Finkel, J. Hirschman, D. Meltzer and G. Scholem, Trigram, Berkeley 1976.
Idel, M.: Kabbalah: New Perspectives, Yale University Press, New Haven & London 1988.
Idel, M.: The Mystical Experience in Abraham Abulafia, SUNY Press, Albany 1988.
Kaplan, A.: Meditation and Kabbalah, Samuel Weiser Inc., York Beach 1988.
Albotini, Y.: Sulam ha-Aliyah, Machon Sha’arei Ziv, Machon Sha’arei ziv, Jerusalem 1989.
Albotini, Y.: Chapters transl. in Blumenthal, D.: Understanding Jewish Mysticism: A Source Reader - The Philosophic Mystical Tradition and the Chassidic Tradition, Volume II, KTAV Publishing House Inc., New York 1982.
Vital, Chaim: Sefer Sha’ar Ru’ach ha-Kodesh, Mosdat Nehar Shalom, Jerusalem 1999.
Vital, Chaim: Pri Etz Chaim, Hotsa’at Eshel, Tel Aviv 1961.
Vital, Chaim: Sefer Sha’arei Kedushah, Aharon Barazani, Tel Aviv, 1995.
Vital, Chaim: Sefer Sha’arei Kedushah, Hotza’at Yeshivat ha-Shamash, Jerusalem 1997.
Vital, Chaim: K’tavim Chadashim l’Rabbi Chaim Vital, Machon l’Hotsa’at Sefarim v’Kitve-yad Ahavat shalom, Jerusalem 1988.
Vital, Chaim: Sefer Sha’ar ha-Kavvanot, Yeshivat ha-shalom, Jerusalem 1997.
Cordovero, M.: Pardes Rimmonim, Yarid ha-Sefarim, Jerusalem 2000.
Idel, M.: Hasidism: Between Ecstasy and Magic, SUNY Press, Albany 1995.
The Zohar Volume 4 & 5, transl. D.C. Matt (Pritzker edition), Stanford University Press, Stanford 2007 & 2009.
Sefer Raziel ha-Malach, Yarid ha-Sefarim, Jerusalem 2003.
Trachtenberg, J.: Jewish Magic and Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion, Behrman’s Jewish Book House Publishers, New York 1939.
The Mishnah: Tractate Avot, Seder Nezikin, Volume 4, Part 4 - A New Translation with an Anthologized Commentary, Mesorah Publications, New York 2008.
McClenachan, C.T.: The Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Masonic Publishers & Manufacturing, New York 1868.
Westcott, W.W.: An Introduction to the Study of the Kabalah, J.M. Watkins, London 1926.
Cavendish, R.: Man, Myth & Magic: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural, Volume 20, Marshall Cavendish Corporation, New York 1970.
Ponce, C.: Kabbalah: An Introduction and Illumination for the World Today, Garnstone Press, London 1974.
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The "Name of Seventy-two Names": A Biblical Spin-off - Part 8

I have basically concluded posting the promised portion of "The Book of Sacred Names." However, I thought I should add a brief "addendum," as well as a list of reference works which I employed in the shared portion from the "Shem Vayisa Vayet" chapter of my mentioned publication on Divine Names.
To start with, the “Name of Seventy-Two Names” is employed in “Practical Kabbalah” for designs quite different from the previously listed meditational uses. Further applications of this special “Name,” for example in prayer, “dream invocation,” prophecy, etc., can be found in works like “Sha’arei Tzion” by Nathan Neta ben Moshe of Hanover. Of course, since a “Divine Name” is for Kabbalists the strongest focus of Divine Energy in manifestation, the “Name of Seventy-Two Names” is highly favoured for its great potency. Yet, Moses Cordovero informed us regarding the power of the “Shem Vayisa Vayet,” that “Some of the ancients commented that by the combination and permutation of the Name of Seventy-two or other names, after a great concentration (Hitbodedut), the righteous man.....combines the forces and unites them and arouses desires in them, each to his brother as the membrum virile of man and his companion until there is poured upon him a great influx, with the condition that he who deals with this will be a well-prepared vessel and worthy of receiving the spiritual force. For if it is not the case, it will become cruel to be turned into a ‘degenerate wild vine’.”
Keeping that admonition in the back of our minds, we note that the “Shem Vayisa Vayet,” considered “holy and awesome,” and most powerful, has been employed for a variety of “magical” purposes, sometimes to the great indignation of Rabbinical authorities. As it is, Abraham Abulafia himself vociferously voiced his disapproval and dismay at the magical usage of the “Name of Seventy-two Names.” In fact, in his denigration of such magical uses, he unwittingly shared a rather unsavory magical practice involving the “Shem Vayisa Vayet.” He wrote:
“I have found in one of the books, whose title I would like not to mention [explicitly]: ‘Whoever wants to bring a woman to him so that she will love him, let him pronounce the name of VHV YLY SYT ALM, frontward and backward seven times, in the night of Wednesday, during the first hour of night, which is the time of Saturn, and let him conjure Kaftziel, that is the angel presiding over that planet, by that name. At that time let him write four names on a parchment of a deer, without interrupting the writing by any speech. Then, let him put the amulet on his neck as an amulet and then the woman, whose name and the name of her father he has pronounced, will love him a great love, by the virtue of that name.’ Similar things I have found in great numbers, and they are almost infinite; and these things have spread and reached the hands of great Rabbis, but they hide them in a scrupulous manner and they think that their treasury is replete with pearls. And they are very reverent [awesome] while studying the names when they need them.....”
Abraham Abulafia’s objection notwithstanding, the “Name of Seventy-Two Names” has been put to extensive magical usage over the centuries, as expounded in a variety of Jewish magical writings. It is said that Kabbalists employed it in the construction of a Golem, and that the generation of the force that animated this artificial anthropoid, was the fully expressed and perfectly enunciated “Shem Vayisa Vayet.” In fact, the Sefer Raziel, a famous mediaeval Kabbalistic magical text, claims no magic is successfully worked without the support of this Name.
The Name is used in exorcism and other matters of a similar ilk, and thus it is understood that “whoever pronounces this name against a demon, it will vanish; at a conflagration it will be quenched; over an invalid, he will be healed; against impure thoughts, they will be expelled; if it is directed against an enemy, he will die, and if it is uttered before a ruler, his favour will be won,” etc. Yet, the same voice extolling its magical virtues, is also telling us that “whoever pronounces this name while he is in a state of uncleanness and impurity will surely be struck dead.” Of course, included in this last statement of “uncleanness” and “impurity” are unclean thoughts involving any cerebration of ill intent, as well as feelings of the same. Therefore it is necessary that the practitioner should be mentally, emotionally and physically in a state of Hishtavut or equanimity, in order to employ Divine Names of this nature.
Now, I personally believe that before one can enact any of the practical applications of the “Shem Vayisa Vayet,” one needs to be mentally and emotionally aligned with all associated aspects. In this regard, I have found this easy to achieve with the seventy-two triplets by simply vocalising the entire set every day in the form of a simple chant. However, we have to follow different routes when it comes to the associated elements, e.g. biblical passages, “Spirit Intelligences,” etc. As it is, the seventy-two letter triplets comprising the “Name of Seventy-Two Names” are respectively associated with seventy-two verses from the “Book of Psalms,” all said to be arranged by Rabbi Moses Isserles (Rama), in accordance with the “revealed truth” which Rabbi Moses Nachmanides (Ramban) passed on to his students. Each verse is constructed from seven words only, comprises the Ineffable Name (Adonai in one instance), and reveals, in exact order, the letters comprising its associated triad from the “Shem Vayisa Vayet.” I have listed and elucidated these in "The Book of Sacred Names."
As it is, these seventy-two verses from Psalms not only aid one in becoming fully aligned with the “Shem Vayisa Vayet,” but are also collectively employed to invoke the “spiritual forces” inherent in the Name. The “Name of Seventy-two Names” is said to open spiritual “gates of goodness and purity,” and is often employed in its entirety when requiring spiritual assistance, or needing relief and rescue from stressful circumstances. In this regard, the associated biblical verses constitute an awe-inspiring prayer-incantation, which is equally employed for these exact reasons. Whilst it was oftentimes employed as a prayer of protection prior to undertaking a journey at sea or when travelling into deserts, or for travels in general, it was recommended that one utters this prayer every day, in order to protect oneself against anything disadvantageous happening to oneself during the day. However, it is worth noting that the great benefit of this prayer-incantation is that it purifies the soul.
As can be expected, I have included an extensive delineation of the magical employment of the "Name of Seventy-two Names" in "The Book of Sacred Names," however, as said, this comprises an enormous chaper which I simply cannot publish in its entirety on this blog, hence I will conclude this partial excursion into the "Shem Vayisa Vayet" with the mentioned list of references which I have employed in writing the relevant material posted on this blog.
(References/Bibliography to follow)