Thursday, October 17, 2013

Practical Kabbalah vs Black Magic: A Reprise [Corrected]

I find the ridiculous onslaught of a "faceless faction" against Practical Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism in general a little tiresome. As can be expected, the belligerence appears to be getting uglier as Jewish Magic is increasing in popularity. This also appears to be the case with this blog, however, I should make it clear that on this site all comments are "moderated." This is necessary firstly to avoid the bane of "spam"; secondly to eliminate the scourge of "anonymous" commentators, who believe they are untouchable behind walls of obscurity, whilst their personal identities are clearly displayed to the one who has to approve their comments on a blog; and thirdly to halt the incessant detractors who keep wrangling about nothing of the slightest importance, and doing so from the narrowest "exclusivist" perspectives. In fact, about all the latter seem to want is an opportunity to argue fruitlessly and pointlessly, especially since such activities divert attention, and keep one from getting on with the task under ones nose, so to speak.

Once again I am told that Practical Kabbalah and all Jewish magical activities amount to "Black Magic." In turn, I ask again whether we should then consider highly respected individuals like Joseph Karo, Moses Chaim Luzzatto, and all other "astute rabbis" who communicated with "Maggidim" (Spirit Mentors); Moses Chaim Zacutto; Israel ben Eleazar Baal Shem Tov and all other Baalei Shem; highly regarded Rabbis like Moshe Teitelbaum; Yeshayah Steiner, the founder of Kerestirer Chasidim; Eliyahu Guttmacher; David Chaim Azulai; Shalom Sharabi; Chaim Palagi; Yitzhak Kaduri and his teacher Yehuda Fatiyah; and all "astute rabbis" who wrote, and are yet writing, more texts on Jewish magic and Hebrew amulets, and offering these as "spiritual benefits" to their be "black magicians"? In fact, does Practical Kabbalah, and perforce all Jewish magical traditions, including the entirety of Jewish Mysticism according to some, equate with "Black Magic"? Shall we turn sacred texts like the Talmud, in which a variety of magical practices are shared like cake recipes, into works of "Black Magic"?

I am told that "Practical Kabbalah" is pure superstition with no validity whatsoever. Now, if what I believe in and practice is "phoney" and "illogical," why bother arguing about it? Don't tell me that it is against the "Will of God." In fact, I suspect it is the very success of "spiritual remedies," i.e. those which have successfully impacted and relieved the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual stress of numerous individuals around the globe, which elicit serious discomfort amongst those who are beginning to feel their loss of power and control over the masses. I have been informed again that what I am publishing is forbidden by the Divine One "Himself," and that I can expect repercussions of the worst kind from "heaven" for my actions. How long has this employment of "spiritual terrorism" to coerce our fellow humankind into obedience and submission been going on, and how long will it still continue? I simply do not trust the dictates of those who are informing us on "Divine Will" from very skewed personal agendas. Why would we be expected to continue buying into religions which would have us place our faith in a deity who determines our fate with the absolute authority of the worst human dictator? Why are we expected to continue believing in “Father Christmas” ideas of "God" dreamed up over the last two millennia of human existence on this planet, i.e. a totally benevolent and paternal deity who could be stern, yet demand unthinking obedience to "His" presumed dictates as translated by "His" faithful ministers on earth?

Two World Wars have stripped this insipid "creator" of his trimmings in tinsel, and brought us up against the more terrible truth that everything was not created specially for our benefit alone, and that we shall not be given everything free of charge if we flatter "God" enough. Oddly enough we are coming up against a "God" much more like our remote ancestors visualised. An enormous Power. Sheer ENERGY without emotions as we know them at all. Motivated, if one can call it that, by pure plus-minus-balance necessity with balance as the desideratum. The “swinging pendulum principle.” It is we who translate this into emotional terms such as Love-Hate, Like-Dislike, etc.

Be that as it may, our relationship with "God" should always be based on a continuous flow of energy, generated and projected by Divinity to us, which we have to focus and return for renewal and re-projection to us, to be refocused and returned to God, and so on. I believe that the Divine One and ourselves stand in a reciprocal relationship, each benefiting the other. This "interpersonal relationship" between the Divine One and ourselves, is fully affirmed when we recognise the "Oneness" of "All," i.e. spirit and matter. Matter is Materialised Spirit, and Spirit is Subtle Matter. Furthermore, we are all “Intentions of God” incarnate, each of us an individual agent. If we are not perfect, then neither is He/She/It. Whatever we are He/She/It is to the extent of our natures, but thank God, we are not, and never will be ALL of It, so we can only speak for our own share. What we have to rely on is the Intention of God to perfect Itself. The Will. The promise if you like. The Hope. A matter for our Faith, which is a reflection in us of this Intention.

As far as I am concerned, there is no real difference between "religious worship" and "ceremonial magic." In fact, correct rituals, prayers and worship is a kind of "magic" humans work upon both the Divine One and themselves. It is absolutely clear to me that we are creating our personal realities in accordance with what we "buy into" mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Now, if "all" are indeed "one," if the Divine One "manifests" in the many, and the many "unifies" in the One, then the "flow of force" between the "centre and circumference" is what successful existence in manifestation is all about. Thus the successful expression of the phrase "Y'hi razton milfanecha....." (May it be your will....) is dependent on the recognition that the Divine One and all manifestation are part of the "selfsameness" of one great "Beingness" called "I Am."

After all, how can a “God” hear us? Only through ourselves, and to the extent that we are in contact with Divinity. On this Earth we are the ears, eyes and agents whereby He/She/It knows man, and in this regard, both "Religious Worship" (passive "exoteric magic") and "Practical Kabbalah" (active "esoteric magic") are valid and extremely powerful in the process of our eternal "Self Creation"!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Incantation Formulas in Practical Kabbalah

I have received an interesting query from an individual which I thought may be of interest to readers of this blog. He wanted to know what I consider to be the most popular formulas to open and close magical adjurations in Practical Kabbalah. Now, having consulted literally hundreds of primary sources for both "The Book of Sacred Names" and "The Book of Seals & Amulets," I have to date noticed the most common opening and closing Hebrew magical formulas to be:

Y’hi ratzon milfanecha YHVH Elohai v’Elohei avotai.....
May it be your will YHVH my God, and God of my fathers.....
Omein Netzach Selah Va’ed
Amen, Enduring (Victory), Selah, Forever.
Omein Netzach Selah Va’ed Omein ken y’hi ratzon
Amen Enduring (Victory) Selah Forever. Amen thus be it so willed.
or more simply
Omein ken y’hi ratzon
Amen thus be it so willed.
or less often
Baruch shem k’vod malchuto l’olam va’ed
Blessed be the Name of His glorious Kingdom throughout eternity
Readers unfamiliar with Hebrew magical incantations, might benefit from the following four very broad suggestions regarding the main body of a Hebrew adjuration. In this regard, the "Opening Formula" could be succeeded with the following fairly simple statements, which are applicable to a variety of intentions:

.....shet’rachem al [.....Ploni ben Ploni.....] b’koach ha-shemot ha-kadoshim ha-eleh.....
Translation: have mercy on [.....fill in your own or the name of the individual for whom the incantation is intended.....], in the power of these Holy Names.....
Add associated Divine Names, and conclude with one of the first three listed "Closing Formulas."

.....shetitneni l’chen v’l’chesed b’enei [.....Ploni ben Ploni.....].....
.....that I will find grace and loving-kindness in the eyes of [.....fill in the Name.....].....
Conclude with a listed "Closing Formula." This very simple adjuration does not include any Divine Names, but you may add appropriate Divine and Angelic Names if you so wish.

.....b’koach eilu ha-shemot [.....Shemot.....] sh’tatz'lichuni b’chol mah she’ertzeh.....
Translation: the power deriving from the names [.....fill in appropriate Divine and/or Angelic Names.....] for me to have success in all that I want to.....
Conclude once again with one of the "Closing Formulas."

.....aseh l’ma’an k’dushat shmotecha [.....Shemot.....] shetachus v’tachmol v’tachon v’tagen al [.....Ploni ben Ploni.....] m’chol mere’in b’ishin u’m’choli
.....act for the sake of the holiness of Your Names [.....fill in appropriate Divine Names.....], to spare and have mercy and pity and protect [.....insert the name of the individual for whom the incantation is intended.....], from all evil doers and bad spirits, and illness.....
As before, conclude with one of the listed "Closing Formulas."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fish and Hebrew Amulets

A while back I chanced upon this lovely Shadai amulet for sale on the internet. Its shape reminded me of the importance of fish in Hebrew amulets. As an aside, the Hebrew term (Argaman), spelled by the five platelets dangling below the fish ornament, is an acronym constructed from the initials of the names of the angels (Auriel [Ori’el]), (Rafa’el), (Gavri’el), (Micha’el) and (Nuri’el).

The symbol of the fish dates back to the whole of the ancient Far and Near East, not forgetting ancient Greece, the Roman empire, ancient Europe, Scandinavia, etc. It certainly predates Christianity by many centuries. Regarding its employment in identifying Christians, the popularity of the fish is witnessed today in its prominent display on businesses, vehicles, websites, etc., most of which belong to Christians of the fundamentalist type. On questioning its display on a keyring, the owner informed me that since it is the sign of the Christian Saviour, the keys can never be lost or stolen. In this regard, I can only imagine how many Christians are employing their “Jesus Fish” for other than symbolic purposes.

Be that as it may, the symbol of the fish is popularly acknowledged in Jewish circles as “a symbol of both good luck and fertility" [Dennis, G.W.: The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism, Llewellyn Publications, Woodbury 2007]. The Talmud (Bavli Berachot 20) tells us the “Evil Eye” has no effect on fish, hence the popularity of this symbol in amulets against the “Evil Eye.” In this regard images of fish at one time featured quite prominently at the entrances of private residences, e.g. those of the Jews in Djerba, North Africa. On the other hand, we are told that the fish is a symbol of immortality, and that “the Jewish motif of the Feast of Leviathan might reflect the actual practice, in various religious traditions, of a fish dinner as a foretaste of immortality,” hence its appearance on graves and ancient synagogues [Wineman, A.: Mystic Tales from the Zohar, The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1997].

Amongst the North African Jewish folk customs, an early 20th century traveller named Nahum Slouschz made reference to “a whole series of beliefs which have sprung from the cult of the fish, a cult the traces of whose ancient predominance may be found scattered across the whole Mediterranean. Thus, the Jewish fortune-tellers practise divination with fish. At Tunis, even at Tangiers, there are certain kinds of fish which it is forbidden to eat, on account of their use in divination. It is not in good taste to use the word ‘hut’ (fish), its use is replaced by the phrase Mta el hara or el bahra (beings of the sea)” [Slouschz, N.: Travels in North Africa, The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia 1927].

Interestingly enough, I have investigated an amulet in which fish scales feature rather prominently. This amulet is said to be good for everything. In this instance the following eighteen tri-letter combinations should be written on one side of the skin of a fish with its scales still intact, i.e. one tri-letter combination per scale:

Afterwards, the following word square is written on the opposite side of the same skin:

The letter combinations in the magic square comprise an arrangement of a phrase derived from 1 Samuel 1:17. It reads:

YHVH Elohei Yisra’el yiten et she’altech asher sha’alt ki mei’imo
YHVH God of Isra’el grant thy petition that thou hast asked of Him.

In this instance the Ineffable Name was added as a prefix to the biblical phrase, and there have been some minor adjustments in the component words in alignment with the basic intention of the Kamea in question, which is plainly the granting of an earnest request. However, there is no instruction on what to do with the fish skin afterwards. I surmise one might place it in a little bag to be carried on ones person.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

All is not what it seems: A Mindless approach to Hebrew Amulets

I have been asked to comment on a talisman being sold online, the intention of which is to bring "good luck" and which has been written by an individual listed as a "great authority" on such objects. On perusing the amulet, I noticed that the item is made up of a mishmash of material, apparently thrown together sort of nilly-willy, or perhaps the various magical seals employed in the construct, were chosen to impress the recipient with their ornateness. As it is, the item comprised seals and symbols which are not normally traditionally employed conjointly, their fundamental intentions being quite different. In this regard consider the following two sets of symbols appearing, amongst others, on one amulet. Here is the first:

These Divine Names and accompanying seals are employed in instances necessitating some or other request having to be presented to a higher authority, i.e. a governmental administrator, judiciary, or another in high office who might impact ones life benevolently. In this instance the original instruction requires one to write the listed five tri-letter Names and accompanying magical seals on parchment made from the skin of an aborted animal. I am aware that this Kamea was employed to great effect with the said Divine Names and seals written on plain good parchment, hence I suggest you spare yourself the gory task of having to skin an aborted animal. Voodooistic actions such as these might have impressed mediaeval mindsets, but more recent experience clearly indicated the task at hand to be well executed with great effect by means of the many good parchments available in our day.

As said, the instruction is to write the Divine Names and seals on the parchment, which is held in your hand or carried in your belt during the time when you have to face the higher authority with a personal request. However, since this action requires great purity to ensure a beneficial outcome, it is necessary to fast and to perform prayer and ritual submersion in a sacred bath (Mikvah). Regarding the latter activity, we are informed that if such is not at your disposal, that you must be careful to abstain from any sexual activity for around two days prior to seeking a specific service from an individual in high office.

Regarding the five tri-letter combinations listed with the magic seals, these were derived from an alternative presentation of the "Name of Seventy-Two Names." It might come as a surprise to learn that the “Name of Seventy-two Names” is also employed in a variant format in Jewish magic. In this regard the arrangements of the letters of the three verses comprising this Divine Name are in the exact same order, i.e. as written from right to left, the result being as follows:

As indicated, these combinations are presented with vowels, since some magical applications require these in certain instances. In this regard, the vowels are directly related to their order of appearance as aligned with the letters comprising the three biblical verses from whence the “Shem Vayisa Vayet” was derived. We are told that both the standard and variant seventy-two tri-letter units can be employed for exactly the same talismanic purposes, which in the current instance require the tri-letter units to be arranged into thirteen sets comprised of five units each, and one set of seven units.

As it is, such employment of the “Name of Seventy-two Names” necessitates precise knowledge regarding the exact days when these Kameot should be composed. In this regard the first amulet is written on the third day of any Hebrew month; the second is written on the seventh day of the month; the third on the tenth day of the month; the fourth on the twentieth of the month; the fifth on the twenty-third of the month; and all of the remaining Kameot are written on the twenty-ninth day of the month.

The actual mental/emotional stance of the one composing these Kameot plays a primary role in the efficacy of each amulet. Hence the instruction to acquire a most harmonious mindset prior to commencing the creation of a Kamea, and, whilst the Divine Names are being written, to recite the component Divine Names in a pleasant voice. In fact, we are told the power of these amulets necessitates cleanliness of body, great mental and emotional purity, devotion, fasting, as well as abstinence from any sexual activities for at least three days prior to commencement of these magical procedures.

Be that as it may, according to the individual who queried me on the validity and efficacy of the earlier mentioned, as it were, "syncretic amulet," there were no accompanying instructions of any kind regarding any fasting, the performance of prayer and visiting a Mikvah, or abstaining from any sexual activity for two days prior to using the amulet. Whilst such purification activities are required in the case of the mentioned magical seals, this is not applicable in terms of some of the other seals and symbols displayed in the amulet in question. In this regard, consider the following magical seals which were added to the mentioned magical hotch-potch:

It would seem the two Hebrew terms listed top right, i.e. (“he”) and (“she") are respectively referring to the magical seals directly below and to the left of the writing. I was told these indicate, as it were, the “male” and “female” expressions of the same magical glyph. The phrase at the bottom of the amulet reads . This could be translated “a gift from S’fifi’el, Shumi’el splattered.”

Now, this portion of the amulet is basically recommended to individuals desiring an increase in personal prominence. So if anyone wishes to increase his or her social status, etc., they could construct an amulet by tracing these specific magical seals, and writing the words and names on a piece of deerskin parchment. Regarding the latter, which may be hard to acquire today, I have noted that a clean sheet of high quality paper will do nicely. The amulet is then worn on the person of the individual requiring this support, and, we are informed, the said individual will be perceived by all and sundry with great love and affection.

We are further told that if anyone should desire to grow and succeed in all his or her endeavours, that individual should draw the seals and write the names of this amulet on the lines of the palm of his or her hand. In this instance the procedure is concluded by uttering the following incantation:

Y’hi ratzon milfanecha YHVH Elohai v’Elohei avotai Elohei ha-tzva’ot b’koach eilu ha-shemot v’ha-chotamot sh’tatzlichuni b’chol mah she’ertzeh
May it be your will YHVH my God, and God of my fathers, God of the Hosts, in the power deriving from the names and the seals for me to have success in all that I want to.

Having carefully inspected the amulet in question, it is clear the variety of Divine and Angelic Names, including magical seals, merged in such a willy-nilly manner, are respectively applied for a number of divergent purposes, and hence they should not be intermingled in a single amulet. Of course, it is perfectly clear that there are “soferim” (scribes) who are not only keen to devote themselves to writing and selling amulets, but are all too eager to impact the minds of potential clients with impressive seals and signs. It would seem they think this approach would generate the best possible prices for their fanciful talismanic constructs, and they appear to be wholly indifferent to the fundamental influences of the active “psycho-spiritual potencies” triggered and channelled by the amulets in question. It is also worth noting that much of those amalgamated material was derived directly from the “Shorshei ha-Shemot.” As it is, Rabbi Moses Zacutto, the author of this seminal text on Jewish Magic, delineated in the greatest detail the construction and employment of each of its listed amulets, hence there is nothing to be said in mitigation of a mindless approach to Hebrew amulets!