Friday, November 29, 2013

Hebrew based Celestial Alphabets and the Picatrix

My previous essay titled "Celestial Alphabets & Dream Questions" elicited a number of queries regarding correlations between the Arabic/Latin "Picatrix" and the Hebrew based "Magical Alphabets." Since I believe the topic is of interest to a wider readership, I thought I would respond publically. I should mention that I have devoted two chapters respectively to "Magic Squares" and Hebrew based "Magical Alphabets" in my "The Book of Seals & Amulets." In both instances I have presented a comprehensive and detailed investigation into the said subjects, having consulted the most primary sources I could lay my hands on.

Be that as it may, it is worth considering that there are several magical scripts, called Kolmosin (lit. “angelic pens”) or “ketav einayim” (“eye writing”), believed to be angelic alphabets. These are addressed in certain primary Hebrew magical manuscripts, [Tirshom, J. ben E.: Shoshan Yesod Olam, Bibliothèque de Genève: Comites Latentes 145, Genève; Zacutto, M.: Shorshei ha-Shemot, Hotzaat Nezer Shraga, Jerusalem 1999; etc.] as well as in a number of Latin texts.[Agrippa, H.C.: De Occulta Philosophia, 3 Vols., Apud Godfridum & Marcellum, Beringos 1550; Postel, W.: De Originibus seu de Hebraicae Linguae & Gentis Antiquitate, deque variarum linguarum affinitate liber, Apud Dionysium Lescuier, Paris 1538; Gaffarel, J.: Curiositez Inouyes hoc est Curiositates Inauditae de Figuris Persarum Talismannicis, Horoscopo Patriarcharum et Characteribus Coelestibus, Gothofredum Schultzen: Hamburg; Janssonio Waesbergios: Amsterdam 1676; Bartolocci, G.: Bibliotheca Magna Rabbinica, Vol. 4, Carlo Giuseppe Imbonati, Rome 1693; Müller, A.: Alphabeta ac Notae Diversarum Linguarum pene Septuaginta tum & Versiones Orationis Dominicae prope centum collecta olim & illustrata ab Andrea Mullero, Johann Lieberman, Berlin 1703.]

In some of the Latin writings it was surmised the angelic scripts were derived from the Samaritan alphabet. This claim is debatable, and the origins of these magical alphabets still remain obscure. It has been noted that whilst “in many discussions of Jewish magic these signs are often referred to as ‘Kabbalistic signs’,” “they are mostly non-Jewish in origins, and predate the rise of Kabbalah.” [Bohak, G.: The Charaktêres in Ancient and Medieval Jewish Magic in Acta Classica Universitatis Scientiarum Debreceniensis, Vol. 47, Univ Debreceniensis, Debrecen 2011.] In recent years it has been suggested that the "Magical Alphabets" listed in the writings of Cornelius Agrippa, were derived from the "Picatrix." [Bing, G.: “Picatrix” das Ziel des Weisen von Pseudo-Magriti, The Warburg Institute University of London, London 1962; Atallah, H.: Picatrix (Ghayat al-Hakim): The Goal of the Wise, edited by W. Kiesel, 2 Volumes, Ouroboros Press, Seattle 2002.] Whilst this text comprises delineations of amulets and talismans, and references to certain magical glyphs of similar format to some of those appearing in the “Heavenly Alphabets,” and some of which I have delineated in "The Book of Seals & Amulets," I have not found direct reference to any of the complete magical alphabets listed by Agrippa, most of these appearing in the earlier mentioned "Shoshan Yesod Olam."

It is however clear, as Moshe Idel noted, that the "Picatrix" had a “profound influence” on Renaissance magic,” [Walker, D.P.: Spiritual and Demonic Magic: From Ficino to Campanella, The Warburg Institute, University of London, London 1958; Yates, F.A.: Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Henley-on-Thames 1964; Idel, M.: Kabbalah in Italy 1280-1510: A Survey, Yale University Press, New Haven 2011.] There are indeed direct correlations between certain magical glyphs appearing in both the "Picatrix" and Jewish magical literature. After all, the "Picatrix" was translated into Hebrew in an abbreviated format under the title “Tachlit he-Chacham” (“Aim of the Wise”), which is said to have “significantly influenced Jewish circles in the 14th and 15th centuries.” [Schwartz, D.: Central Problems of Medieval Jewish Philosophy, Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden 2005.] This certainly suggests the "Picatrix" as a primary source in certain Jewish magical traditions, i.e. "Magic Squares"; certain Planetary Seals; etc.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Celestial Alphabets & Dream Questions

When I was a little boy I overheard a conversation between a burly Jewish biker, and my paternal grandfather who was trying to convince the biker of the "error of his ways." The gentleman in question used to go on, what appeared to be, long journeys at night on his bike, traversing for no apparent reason the extensive flat-lands of the Free State province of South Africa. When my grandfather advised him to rather stay at home, say his bedtime prayers and retire to bed, the biker said that he was communicating every night with the Almighty. In fact, he maintained that he knew the "secret language" by which creation is being manifested, and that he could read its "unfoldment" in the night sky whilst crossing the open spaces of the Free State.

As my grandfather shook his head in disbelief, and waved the "heathen" away most indignantly, I ran after the biker and asked him if he could teach me how to read the "secret messages" in the sky. He gently informed me the stars are part of the very big saga of the beginning and end of everything happening at once in an enormous, most holy "talisman." He told me that the universe changes all the time in accordance with this ongoing "telling of life in the sky," and that, when I was a little older, he would teach me the very "holy alphabet of creation." Then I too may read the "Word of God" at night in the stars. Being at the time unacquainted with the term "talisman," I wanted to know what it was. In very simple language, he defined it a deliberately constructed "spiritual channel" through which Divine Power can be transmitted for our benefit.

To say that I was deeply impressed by this individual would be an understatement. I was imagining a diversity of huge invisible pipes reaching down from the stars, through which the "Holy Power" of the Divine One is flowing down into our world, in order to affect our lives for the better. Alas, that was the only conversation my biker friend and I would ever have, since he died a short while afterwards in an automobile accident.....during the hours of daylight, when he was not being "distracted" by divine messages in the night sky!

Around twelve years later, when I chanced upon the conception of Guillaume Postel that the will of the Eternal One appears in the vault of the heavens in the form of special Hebrew glyphs, I surmised my biker friend gained his notion of reading the "Word of God in the night sky" either from Postel, or from his admirer Jacques Gaffarel, a 17th century French Kabbalist and librarian to the famous Richelieu, who adopted Postel’s cosmic writing notions, and created the following illustration of the "celestial alphabet" in the ever changing "talisman of the heavens."
The endings of each letter comprise little circles. Each of these represents a star, sets of which are joined by lines to form the "magical language" of the "celestial alphabet." These constructs are based on the Hebrew alphabet, and Gaffarel derived his version of this alphabet from the "occult" writings of Cornelius Agrippa, as shown in the following table indicating the formats of the "Celestial Alphabet" from Agrippa to our own time:
The “Celestial Alphabet” is probably the most well known of all the angelic scripts. As indicated, it appears in a miscellany of calligraphical configurations ranging from simple lines to the following emboldened and outlined format:
An entire magical system was built around a magical alphabet comprised of glyphs emboldened in this manner. Such "fattened" glyphs are at times employed in Hebrew amulets, as indicated in the following Kamea created for the purpose of finding an answer to a vexing question, or a beneficial response to a special request:
In standard Hebrew script the magical inscription reads:
These three names, which we are informed should be drawn in the format of the magical seals listed above, are in fact acronyms of the following angelic names:
Vad’el A’ma’el D’avi’el Micha’il [Miva’el] Av’mi’el Vav’da’el Mamav’el A’av’el Tat’va’i’el Mat’ri’el B’mati’el
The magical inscription, the associated angelic names, as well as five concluding Divine Names should be written on deerskin parchment, or a sheet of clean, good quality paper. The mentioned five concluding Names are:
’gaf n’gaf sh’gaf t’gaf r’gaf
Afterwards the writing is dissolved in a glass of water, which is then ingested by the one seeking the spiritual response. This is followed by spontaneous prayer which does not include any form of adjuration. We are told that without a doubt, the query will be answered in dream during sleep, and that this is a tried and tested technique.

It should be noted that the first three of the odd sounding concluding Divine Names, i.e. , are also employed in a somewhat more complex "Dream Question" procedure. In this regard, one is instructed to carefully wash the body from the hips downwards. Afterwards the "Hashkiveinu" prayer is said. It reads:
Hash’kiveinu YHVH Eloheinu l’shalom v’ha-amideinu malkeinu l’chayim ufros aleinu sukat sh’lomecha, v’tak’neinu b’eitza tova milfanecha v’hoshi’einu l’ma’an sh’mecha v’hagen ba’adeinu v’haser me’aleinu oyev dever v’cherev v’ra’av v’yagon v’chaser satan milfanenu u’mei’achareinu uv’tzel knafecha tastireinu ki El shomreinu u’matzileinu atah ki El melech chanun v’rachum atah ush’mor tzeiteinu uvo’einu l’chayim ul’shalom mei’atah v’ad olam uf’rosh aleinu sukat shlomecha baruch atah YHVH shomer amo yisra’el la’ad
Help us YHVH to lie down in peace, and raise us up, our King, to life. Spread over us the shelter of Your peace; guide us with Your good counsel, and save us for the sake of Your Name, and shield us from foe, pestilence, and from starvation, sword and anguish. Remove the evil forces that surround us, and shelter us in the shadow of Your wings, El who watches over us and delivers us, and El our gracious and merciful King. Guard our coming and our going, to life and to peace from now unto eternity. Blessed are You YHVH, Guardian of Your people Israel forever.
Next, after donning clean clothes and prior to falling asleep, one has to address the listed Divine Names with strongly focussed intention (Kavvanah) and in great purity, extend the query to which one is seeking an answer in sleep and dream, saying:
b’vakashah mikem shemot ha-kadoshim v’ha-tehorim shetar’uni b’chalom ba’lailah ha-zeh shehenachti et shmoteichem m’rashoti tshuvat she’elati shehi [.....state the question.....] v’lo ira v’lo afached v’lo yishachach mimeni klum b’shem Argi Nargi Sargi ’gaf N’gaf S’gaf
Please I request from you pure and Holy Names, to receive in dream this night, in which I put your names under my head, an answer to my question which is [.....state the question.....] I will have no fear and I will not be scared, and I will not forget anything, in the name Argi Nargi Sargi ’gaf N’gaf S’gaf
Afterwards write the Divine Names on a kosher scroll, and place it under your pillow, then go to sleep.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Spirit Forces in Hebrew Amulets - Part 4

In the previous instalment of this set of essays on "Spirit Forces in Hebrew Amulets," I referred to the four great archangels, i.e. Rafa'el, Micha'el, Gavri'el and Ori'el. Whilst these specific Spirit Intelligences feature prominently in numerous Kameot, there are often a number of Angelic and Divine Names included in these highly specialised items. In this regard, we have noted in "Part 2" the extensive collection of Angels allied to the "tried and tested Kamea for the protection of pregnant women and infants." In that instance the accompanying Spirit Intelligences are listed at the base of the amulet. However, in many cases a Kamea would be comprised of a bold "letter square" constructed from the initial letters of words in biblical phrases, and which is often accompanied by a set of angelic appellatives located to the left of the square.

Amongst this variety of Hebrew amulets is one comprised of the Divine Name (Ashtzei [also Oshotziyiyi]). This Divine Name construct comprises the five letters respectively succeeding the five occurrences of the Ineffable Name (YHVH) in Psalm 121, i.e. (Ayin) verse 2; (Shin) and (Tzadi) verse 5; and the two letters (Yod) from verses 7 and 8. The power of this Divine Name is said to be vast and mighty, i.e. subduing "outsiders" (demonic forces); restraining the mouth that curses; etc. There are also five important angels aligned with the five letters of the Name (Ashtzei), i.e. (Azri’el); (Sari’el); (Tzadki’el); (Yisra’el) and (Y’hadri’el).

We are further told the gematria of (Ashtzei ) is equal to that of (Lilit ). It is said that the “secret” here is the protection of the “Brit Milah” (Holy Covenant [circumcised penis]) against impurities and spontaneous seminal flow, i.e. nocturnal emissions. Talking of “seminal flow,” I am reminded of the following Kamea in which the Name , in this instance vocalised Oshotziyiyi, is employed in conjunction with the Divine Name (Tzamarchad); (Anaktam Pastam Paspasim Dionsim [“Twenty-two Letter Name”]); and (Yohach Kalach). The Names of twenty angels are added to the mix, meant to support and protect a woman who suffers miscarriages and whose children are dying. The twenty angels listed in alphabetical order in the Kamea are:

Ori’el Baruchi’el G’dodi’el Dodi’el
Hadri’el Vataki’el Zehori’el Chasdi’el
Tuvi’el Yofi’el K’vodi’el Malchi’el
Nuri’el Satari’el Azri’el Palati’el
Tzadki’el K’doshi’el Rachmi’el Shamri’el
The amulet is written on deerskin parchment in the name of the individual requiring this support, hence the Kamea opens with her name written at the top of the amulet. Below the name insert the following written incantation:

Y’hi ratzon milfanecha YHVH Elohai v’Elohei avotai rofe rachman rofe ne’eman rofe chinam ozer kol ne’ezar rofe kol basar v’mafli l’asot sh’tishmor noset kamea zeh aleiha hi v’pri bitnah m’kol nez’kei shedin v’lilin v’ruchin b’ishin v’shivtah u’b’kumah u’v’lechtah u’v’vo’ah v’b’shichbah m’kol mikreh ra omein ken y’hi ratzon (Psalm 91:10) lo t’uneh alecha ra’ah v’nega lo yikrav b’oholecha b’shem LTA RVL YBK MYL LBD AKY PTB RASh VTT KVK BchV AKY ShYV AAB AVA BYShV ATY
May it be your will YHVH my God, and God of my fathers, merciful healer, loyal healer, gratuitous healer, helper of all who needs aid, healer of all flesh who works wonders, to save the one who is bearing this Kamea on herself and the fruit of her belly from all maleficent shedin (demonic fiends), and lilin (night demons), and ruchin (ghosts), and ishin (evil spirits), when she sits and when she rises, and when she goes and when she comes, from all bad incidents, Amen thus be it so willed. (Psalm 91:10) "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy tent," in the Name of LTA RVL YBK MYL LBD AKY PTB RASh VTT KVK BchV AKY ShYV AAB AVA BYShV ATY
The concluding set of Divine Names was constructed from the initials of the words comprising Psalm 91:10. This set of Divine Names are said to have the power to defeat and eliminate all debilitating hindrances and evil situations.

Be that as it may, the Kamea is concluded by writing the following letter square, seals, Divine Names and Angelic Names below the incantation:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Paranormal Skills of the "Mousser Rebbe"

Near the small town of Bodrogkeresztúr, Hungary, on the crest of Dereszla hill and overlooking a sea of vineyards, stands a small building housing the gravesite of Rebbe Yeshaya Steiner. Founder of the Kerestir Chassidic dynasty, Rabbi Steiner is also acknowledged as a "wonder worker," i.e. a "practical kabbalist." This very humble Hungarian Rabbi was born in Zbarav in 1851, and always referred to himself as "Shayale." The appellative stuck and to this day the good Rabbi is similarly referred to by those who remember him with great affection. Yet, whilst he may have considered himself in the diminutive, Reb Shayale was a very remarkable individual who was gifted with great "wonder working" skills.

One report has it that a certain Yechezkel Taub consulted the Rebbe about the scarcity of fish in the nearby River Bodrog, especially since this was negatively impacting the lives of those who were making a living from fishing. We are told that the good Rabbi informed his visitor not to fear, and that there will be lots of fish the following day. The next day there were indeed lots of fish in the nets. We shall never know whether the Rabbi personally affected the sudden increase of fish, or merely displayed remarkable oracular skills.

However, Reb Shayale’s current fame is not based on perceived "paranormal skills," or on the fact that he is the founder of an important Chassidic dynasty, but rather on a single photo of himself which is currently popularly hung on the walls of private homes as an amulet against vermin, i.e. mice and rats. Called the "mousser rebbe," it is reported that an individual who earned his living supplying food to his local community, was seeking the urgent advice of the Rabbi regarding an infestation of mice wreaking havoc in his granary, and destroying other foodstuffs in his warehouse.

There is a "twist" in the tale, which, according to some reports, pertains to the local pastor of the town, or, according to others, a local nobleman. Apparently this individual was particularly harsh and unkind to the local Jewish community, hence it is said Rabbi Steiner told his visitor to return to his warehouse where he was to order the vermin in the name of Reb Shayale to depart to the estate of the pastor/nobleman. The saga concludes with the mice racing away, and the Jewish businessman being spared further destruction of food commodities by vermin.

It is said that since this episode people have employed the photo of the Rabbi as an amulet to ward off mice and rats. It seems to work for some and not for others, and in this regard there have been a number of interesting, some quite amusing, reports doing the rounds on the world wide web. One individual mentioned that a friend had difficulties with rats on a boat, which ceased after he displayed on board a photo of Reb Steiner. Another tells of how he tried to rid his apartment of a pesky mouse, by running after it with the picture of Reb Shayale. In this instance the mouse won the day and stayed put.

Now, I believe everybody missed the boat as far as their faith in the Kerestirer Rabbi’s photo is concerned. In fact, the good Rabbi wrote amulets to rid a residence/warehouse of vermin. A pair of Kameot composed by Reb Steiner for this very purpose was displayed in an exhibition held in the Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem, and they were simply variants of the following "house Kamea" addressed by Yehudah Rosenberg in "Sefer Rafael ha-Malach":

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Four Great Archangels, Four Winds & Four Elements

Every now and again I receive queries regarding the "Four Great Archangels" and their links with the "Four Directions." The latter is often termed the "Four Winds" (Ruchot) in Jewish Mysticism. The main problem appears to be the differences between the attributions found in Judaism and those generally employed in Hermetic Kabbalah. In the latter tradition the attributions are:
Rafael — East — Air; Michael — South — Fire; Gabriel — West — Water; and Oriel [Auriel] — North — Earth.
I addressed this topic somewhat in "The Book of Self Creation," saying:
"In Kabbalah the 'Four Elements' have been attributed to the four letters of the Ineffable Name, four Archangels, four Sefirot, four directions, the four seasons, the four phases of the Moon, etc., etc. However, attempting to find a uniform set of attributions from primary Kabbalistic literature is extremely difficult, since there have been major differences of opinion in this regard. In fact, nowhere does the statement 'there is only one thing Kabbalists agreed upon and that is that they don’t agree,' apply more accurately than in this instance.
In many instances authors were dealing with the topic from a single perspective alone, without consideration of any 'broader implications,' so to speak. As a case in point, consider the traditional bedtime prayer (Kriat Sh’ma al ha-Mitah) from the Siddur (Hebrew prayer book). Here we find the invocation 'To my right Michael and to my left Gavriel, in front of me Uriel and behind me Rafael, and above my head Shechinat El.' This portion of the evening prayer is claimed to be based on Midrash Bamidbar Rabba 2:10  and the Pirke d’Rabbi Eliezer 4:1.
Now, in this night-time prayer the four archangels are aligned with the 'position of service' each archangel held around the 'Throne of Glory' in early Jewish mysticism, e.g. as depicted in the large merkavistic portion of the Pirke d’Rabbi Eliezer, where we read (4:1) 'Four classes of ministering angels minister and utter praise before the Holy One, blessed be He: the first camp (led by) Michael on His right, the second camp (led by) Gavriel on His left, the third camp (led by) Uriel before Him, and the fourth camp (led by) Rafael behind Him; and the Shechinah of the Holy One, blessed be He, is in the centre.'
Here it is clear that Michael is in attendance to the right of the 'Throne of Glory,' hence is guarding our right; Gabriel to the left, thus guarding our left; Uriel [Auriel] to the front, and guarding our front; and lastly Rafael, positioned behind the 'Throne of Glory,' is protecting our rear. Keep in mind these attributions were made in very early Midrashim some centuries prior to the appearance of the Sefer ha-Zohar, and long before the Tree of Life was fully formulated in its current order.
If one is facing East while uttering this bedtime invocation, the positions of the four Archangels would naturally be Michael in the South, Gabriel in the North, Uriel in the East and Rafael in the West, and this set of attributions is in fact maintained in some Kabbalistic writings. However, inspecting the positions of the archangels in Midrash Bamidbar Rabba (2:10), considered one of the sources of the bedtime protection invocation, the entire issue gets quite confusing. Scrutinising the 'four directions,' which the four archangels are respectively said to be associated with in this verse, suggests that those who originally listed the positions of these 'spirit entities' around the 'Throne of Glory,' did not have specific directions in mind, i.e. East, West, etc., when they listed the positions of the archangels around the 'Throne of Glory.' Such directional attributions appear to have been added somewhat later, and are simply not reconcilable with the associated celestial positions of the four archangels.
Of course, problems inevitably arise when one attempts to broaden the application of a set of attributions initially employed in a singular manner, unrelated to any broader perspectives. Regarding this issue we read in Midrash Bamidbar Rabbah 2:10 'As the Holy One blessed be He created four winds (directions) and four banners (for Israel’s army), so also did He make four angels to surround His Throne — Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Rafael. Michael is on its right, corresponding to the tribe of Reuben; Uriel on its left, corresponding to the tribe of Dan, which was located in the north; Gabriel in front, corresponding to the tribe of Judah as well as Moses and Aaron who were in the east; and Rafael in the rear, corresponding to the tribe of Ephraim which was in the west.'
Here the archangels are attributed to the directions in the following order, and despite alternatives listed elsewhere, this order became generally accepted:
Michael to the South; Uriel [Auriel] to the North; Gavriel to the East; Rafael to the West.
Consider that according to the bedtime prayer, Michael is to my right, and we are told in the Midrash that he is associated with the 'South' I must be facing East, which I am! However, Gavriel, located to my left according to the same sources, is associated with the East....which is in front of me? Worse still, Uriel is supposedly in front of me but, hold on to your seat, if I am facing East—because Michael is on my right, and Gavriel is associated with the East, which is somehow supposed to be to my left—how in blazes can Uriel be in front of me when he is associated with the North? Even Rafael appears to be oddly placed. Also, if I keep Michael, the archangel associated with the South, to my right, i.e. as if I were facing the 'Throne of Glory' myself, I would be looking in the direction of Rafael who is positioned 'behind the Throne'.....that would be East.....but this archangel is associated with the West? If the traditional bedtime invocation was aligned with this arrangement of their respective positions, it should read 'To my right Michael and to my left Uriel, in front of me Gavriel and behind me Rafael.' Keep in mind that there are other variations to this Angels/Directions theme, e.g. South – Uriel; North – Gavriel; East – Michael; West – Rafael; or again South – Michael; North – Uriel; East – Gavriel; West – Rafael. There is simply no general agreement on this topic to be found throughout the primary texts of Traditional Kabbalah.
It is worth noting that much of the early 'angel teachings' in both Judaism and Christianity, were derived from Zoroastrianism. In this regard, it is recognised that the archangelic protection portion of the bedtime prayer was derived from the ancient Babylonian incantation which reads 'Shamash before me, behind me Sin, Nergal at my right, Ninib at my left'.
 Now, considering this subject and related issues, we should also peruse the attributions made of the mentioned four archangels to the 'Four Elements.' In the Sh’lah al Sefer Vayik’ra by Yeshayahu ben Avraham we are told that 'Micha’el is the base source of Spirit Water, Gavri’el of Spirit Fire, Auri’el of Spirit Air, Rafa’el of Spirit Earth.' These attributions are based on teachings found in Kabbalistic literature in which the archangel Michael is attributed to the Sefirah Chesed (Mercy), Gavriel to Gevurah (Severity), Uriel to Tiferet (Beauty), and Rafael to Yesod (Foundation). In this case, Chesed, attributed to 'Spirit Water,' is the domain of Michael, while Gevurah, the domain of 'Spirit Fire,' belongs to Gavriel. In turn, the sphere of Tiferet, being the balancing central Sefirah between Chesed and Gevurah, is attributed the 'Spirit Air' and Uriel, this being aligned with the statement in the Sefer Yetzirah about 'Air tipping the scale' between 'Fire' and 'Water.' Finally, in this instance, Yesod is attributed to Rafael and 'Spirit Earth.'
 As we know well enough by now, these attributions are by no means universally accepted amongst Kabbalists, and there are again numerous variant attributions of these four, as well as other archangels, to the ten Sefirot. Some of these attributions are decidedly odd, but they are always in accordance with specific mind-sets. Here are a few examples of attributions of the four archangels to the sefirot to be found in traditional Kabbalistic literature: 
  1. Michael – Binah; Chesed; Tiferet; Hod; Yesod;
  2. GavrielBinah; Gevurah; Netzach; Yesod;
  3. RafaelTiferet; Hod; Yesod; and
  4. Uriel (Auriel) – Tiferet; Netzach; Yesod.
It gets even more befuddled when we investigate the related planetary and zodiacal attributions. We can be certain that it took a lot of careful investigation and consideration of all the details involved, including a study of related material, i.e. the writings of Averoes and the literature of ancient astrology, in order to arrive at the neat, coherent and efficient systems used in the Hermetic Orders."
Following the publication of "The Book of Self Creation" I have encountered further details and variants, one of these, listed in "Me’irat Einayim" by the 13th century Rabbi Isaac of Akko, offered the following angelic/directions arrangement: North – Rafael; South – Uriel; West – Gavriel; and East – Michael. I have included these details in my "The Book of Seals & Amulets." As it is, I have found further information on this very topic in the many Hebrew Kameot (amulets) written over the last millennium, i.e. those in which the Names of the four "Archangels of the Quarters" are employed. To date I have noted the following combinations in primary Hebrew sources:
  • South – Michael; North – Gavriel; East – Uriel; West – Rafael.
  • South – Michael; North – Uriel; East – Gavriel; West – Rafael.
  • South – Michael; North – Gavriel; East – Rafael; West – Uriel.
  • South – Uriel, North – Gavriel; East – Rafael; West – Michael.
  • South – Uriel; North – Gavriel; East – Michael; West – Rafael.
  • South – Uriel; North – Rafael; East – Michael; West – Gavriel.
As can be expected, I have neither accessed nor perused every primary Hebrew source dealing with this topic, and can thus not provide an absolutely definitive statement on this topic. There might well be further variants as far as the archangel/directions/elements/ sefirot associations are concerned. In this regard I have recently begun investigating a number of East European Hebrew/Yiddish sources in which this topic is addressed, which I pray will afford me greater clarity.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Spirit Forces in Hebrew Amulets - Part 3

In the previous part we noted the three Angels Sanoi, Sansanoi and Semangelof were sent to restrain and return the demoness Lilit. We are informed that she requested to be left alone, and pledged that wherever she encounters the listed names and images of the three Spirit Intelligences, she would refrain from working her wicked ways. However, whilst the presence of these three Spirit Intelligences are considered vital in the protection of would-be mothers and their offspring against demonic forces, an inordinate number of angelic names were, are often roped in, so to speak, for additional support.
Amongst the latter the angels (Micha’el), (Gavri’el), (Rafa’el), (Auriel [Ori’el]), as well as the angel (Nuri’el), should be acknowledged as the "Supreme Five." Collectively termed (Argaman), an acronym constructed from the initials of the names of these five angels, the unique status of these Spirit Intelligences is highlighted in the teaching regarding the time of the "Redemption," when it is said the five angels of Malchut (Kingdom) will connect the head— (YHVH) and Malchut (ADNY [Adonai]) as (Yahadonahi).

We are further reminded the gematria of Yahadonahi:

is equal to that of the word (Amen):

The "secret" of Amen is said to be its spelling, i.e. comprising the initials of the first and last two of the angels of the five Argaman angels. Considering the great importance of the "Supreme Five," it is no wonder the said acronym should feature so prominently in Hebrew amulets. In this regard, we are informed that the mentioned five Angels, "together with the mnemonic (Argaman) are by far the commonest found in the metallic amulets from the Oriental Hasidic diaspora." [Schrire, T.: Hebrew Amulets, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London 1966.] However, it is worth noting that the first (Ori’el) and the last (Nuri’el) of the five angels, were understood to be different appellatives, each perhaps referring to a different aspect, of the same Spirit Intelligence. Hence there are really four Angelic Princes said to be "the honoured ones, who are appointed over the four camps of the Shekina." Considering the services rendered by these four great angelic "Presences," it is only natural that their names should feature in Hebrew amulets ranging from those affording good fortune to those engendering health, wealth and protection.

Ancient sources tells us the angel (Rafa’el) "is set over all the diseases and all the wounds of the children of men," whilst (Micha’el), "the merciful and long-suffering," is "set over the best part of mankind and over chaos." He is the champion of Israel, and slayer of evil. We are told the archangel (Gavri’el) "is set over all the powers," hence it is maintained that this Spirit Intelligence grants one the power to break down walls. Regarding (Ori’el [Uri’el]), we are informed that this angel "is over the world and over Tartarus." It is said the name of this archangel pertains directly to the phrase in Exodus 33:23 reading (Ufanai lo yera’u—"but My face shall not be seen").

(More to follow)