Saturday, April 19, 2014

Divine Speech & the Foundation of Life

A very important point to consider when it comes to Hebrew Divine Names, is the fact that just as every letter of the Hebrew alphabet was, and still is, considered to be the “embodiment” of a Spirit Intelligence, each being an “Angel,” so to speak, so are Divine Names understood to be more than just personal identifications. It is believed that they actually are the respective qualities or aspects of Divinity hidden within their inner meanings, thus the incantation of “Divine Names” would release, as it were, the special powers they embody. These Names are considered to be “Words of Power,” since they are both expressions of the “nature” of Divinity, as well as “Angels” or Spirit Intelligences, who direct those aspects of the Divine Nature encapsulated within them into actual existence. Naturally such Divine Names would be of particular interest to many readers, however we first have to master some basic concepts and teachings before we can focus on practical applications. What is at present of primary importance to us, is to understand why “Divine Names” are so important in both speculative and practical Kabbalah, and here the primary factor is the Hebrew alphabet and its use as an “archetypal language,” so to speak.

In Hebrew the alphabet is referred to as the Otiot. This is the plural form of the word Ot meaning both a “letter” and a “sign,” since each letter implies a unique spiritual power. Another point that must be considered is that each Hebrew glyph is a word comprising letters, and that every letter has a specific meaning. Each letter also signifies an associated spiritual power through its form, sound and gematria, the latter referring to the fact that every Hebrew glyph is also a number and that words with the same numerical value are understood to relate to each other. This is indeed a most serious subject, since as mentioned earlier, every single sign of the Hebrew Alphabet is considered to be the embodiment of a “spirit intelligence,” and thus there are extremely strict rules as far as the construction and writing, the actual calligraphy, of each letter is concerned.

In fact, the written Hebrew glyphs themselves are understood to be “living intelligences” with bodies, minds and souls. The printed or written letter, including its vocal expression, comprises the physical part of its manifestation, that is its “body,” whereas in its essence it belongs to the subtle realm of Maggidim, the Angelic Messengers. In this subtle realm it multiplies, as it were, to create the manifested world of words, meanings and objects. In their primordial state of emanation the Otiot are the primordial frequencies of the Cosmos in that space (Makom) where all are one in the Eternal No-thing from whence all life emanates as Light.

So it is understood by some that the mere scanning of Hebrew glyphs, is enough to unleash powerful spiritual forces, which have remarkable effects on the psyche of the one who is doing the scanning. By this I mean that uttering a Divine Name, or even just reading it, causes an inner response in the reader or utterer, which is very important to know and acknowledge in a conscious manner. Furthermore, it is understood in Kabbalah that when the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet, the Otiot, are spoken with a suitably associated godly stance or intention, the “Angels” corresponding to those letters are invoked. Hence, in order to align oneself in an appropriate manner with these “Spirit Intelligences” in the Hebrew glyphs, Kabbalists employ the three traditional methods of mivta—vocalising the letters and names, michtav—writing them, and mashav— contemplating their forms.

However, I believe one has to first change ones normal reasoning from being involved with the delineation of objects to perceiving the objects directly. If we discuss a perfume, sound, or anything experienced through the senses, we invoke reactions and images stored in the memory of the listener, that is, we stimulate the imagination of a person. Here then we have to alter our usual approach of describing something to actually experiencing it as if we are it, and it is believed that this awareness is imparted by the Hebrew alphabet as a universal power to the mind. As we know, Kabbalah teaches that if you wish to achieve a desired state of awareness, one related to a specific attitude, you could “program,” as it were, that desired state into yourself through the use of an appropriate associated Divine Name. Even an affiliated word (not necessarily a Divine Name) used as a Hagah (Hebrew mantra), can reconstruct the psyche one way or the other. Again, as mentioned in “The Book of Self Creation,” and reiterated in "The Book of Sacred Names," as the Hebrew letters are formed into words which are uttered in prayers, or even just written down, the powers of those “Spirit Intelligences” associated with the letters are actually powerfully focussed in those words.

It is believed that it is through the powers inherent in the Otiot that many great wonders are worked in manifestation. In fact, Kabbalists understand quite clearly that the whole of existence, all forms within it, are expressions of the Hebrew letters into a multitude of configurations or “words.” This is understood to be the fundamental meaning of Psalm 33:6 reading “By the word of God the heavens came into being, and all the host by the breath of his mouth.” It has been said that for Kabbalists the concepts of “name” and “form” equate, and that these are linked to the Hebrew alphabet, the fundamental essence of existence incorporating also “number” and “dimension.” Thus they have at their disposal a mighty instrument comprised of the glyphs of the Otiot, through which they do not only understand the workings of creation (Ma’aseh B’reishit), or manipulate material existence (Ma’aseh Merkavah), but can move into the “Inner Beingness” of the “Infinite Source,” through whom creation is continuously emanating into existence.

Kabbalists believe the universe continues to exist because its physical actuality is eternally reaffirmed in the “Now,” and it has been said that the sacred utterance which originated the heavens, abides within them forever. The cosmos perpetuates because the Divine utterance “Let there be a firmament” (Genesis 1:4) is enduringly reiterated in the “Now.” The same applies to every segment of manifestation in which the first Divine Utterance, “Let there be light,” is repeated endlessly. God’s original creative will is eternally present, if not, all would return to the “nothing” beyond manifestation. Thus the “word of God” gives being to all existence. The “word” literally “becomes flesh,” and in this regard the Torah plays a most major role for both Kabbalists and those mainstream religionists who view the Hebrew Bible to be an enormous Divine Name. Every word within it is a potent “Word of Power,” the utterance of which invokes extremely potent forces.

What is required and important in studying and working the techniques of practical Kabbalah, is the ability to recognise, read and utter the letters and Divine Names. In this regard, a general introduction to the mystical meaning of each letter, as well as gaining some ideas regarding certain Hebrew terms, is perfectly acceptable. Such knowledge can facilitate not only a deeper insight into the more profound interpretations of Sacred Scripture, but also a more profound perspective on the meaning of creation and all life within it. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to concentrate on the concept of the divine within the language, and how, through several methods, this knowledge is expanded into one of the most remarkable systems of God and self “realisation.” This I have attempted to address in as great as possible detail in the first three volumes of my "Shadow Tree Series," i.e. "The Book of Self Creation"; "The Book of Sacred Names"; and "The Book of Seals & Amulets."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Spiritual Garment & the Colours of the Sefirot

In "The Book of Self Creation" I referred to a unique literature in Kabbalah dealing with what is termed a “Malbush,” a special spiritual “garment.” These writings are amongst the most interesting which have survived in the collection of Merkavistic documents. A fair amount of this literature weathered the travails of time, and some has been made available in English, e.g. in the translations of Shi’ur Komah material.

The Sod ha-Malbush (Secret of the Garment) refers to a special vestment which spirit entities have to dress themselves in, acting almost like a skin as it were. It is said higher beings, i.e. angels, have to wear such a “garment” when they descend to a “lower world” like ours, in order to become visible in these lower domains. The following quote from an anonymous Kabbalistic text, the Sefer ha-Meshiv (The Book of the Answering [Angel]), apparently written in Spain in the first half of the 15th century, is most informative regarding angels descending and becoming visible through the power of a special spiritual garment:
“You should know that the secret causing the descent of the supernal book is the secret of the descent of the supernal chariot, and when you pronounce the secret of the great name, immediately the force of the ‘garment’ will descend downward, which is the secret of Elijah, who is mentioned in the work of the sages. And by this R. Simeon bar Yochai and Jonathan ben Uzziel learned their wisdom, and they were deserving of the secret of the ‘garment,’ to be dressed in it. And R. Chanina and R. Nechuniya ben ha-Kanah and R. Akiva and R. Ishmael ben Elisha and our holy rabbi and Rashi and many others learned likewise. And the secret of the ‘garment’ is the vision of the garment,’ which the angel of God is dressed in, with a corporeal eye, and it is he who is speaking to you.....And the secret of the garment was given to those who fear God and meditate upon his name; they have seen it, those men who are the men of God were worthy of this state. And they were fasting for forty days continuously, and during their fast they pronounced the Tetragrammaton forty-five times, and on the fortieth day (the ‘garment’) descended to him and showed him whatever he wished [to know], and it stayed with him until the completion of the [study of the] subject he wanted [to know].....” [quoted in Idel, M.: Absorbing Perfections: Kabbalah and Interpretation, Yale University Press, New Haven & London 2002]
By the end of the 16th century the doctrine of the Malbush was transformed in the writings of Israel Sarug, who saw it as the primordial Torah, a garment comprising the exact combinations of letters constituting the 231 gates referred to in the Sefer Yetzirah, which according to Sarug played an important role in the act of creation.

Now, I chanced upon a statement comparing this donning of the Malbush to the saga of the “Fall of Man.” In this case it is said that we ourselves were originally spiritual beings, but were obliged to dress ourselves in “coats of skin” in order to exist in this nether world. However, as in the case of Angelic beings having to wear a “garment” in their descent to this nether world, we too have to clothe ourselves in a garment of light in order to ascend into the loftier realms of existence. In this regard, I noted in "The Book of Sacred Names," that we are taught that during conception a soul is granted a Levush Neshamah, a “soul garment,” which can accurately be considered the “body” used by the Neshamah, the “Higher Self,” during the period of its incarnation in the flesh.

I further noted that Chaim Vital maintained “there is no soul [Neshamah] in the world.....that can exist naked, without a garment [Levush] in which it is clothed in this world.”[Vital, Chaim: Sha’ar ha-Gilgulim, edited Yehudah Ashlag, Eshel, Tel Aviv 1961; quoted in Fine, L.: Physician of the Soul, Healer of the Cosmos: Isaac Luria and His Kabbalistic Fellowship, Stanford University Press, Stanford 2003.] In fact, it is understood that throughout our lives, we receive the sacred life-force, or “Divine Abundance,” via these Levushei Neshamot, these “bodies of light” of our Higher Selves. It is maintained that the actual quality of this “garment” is dependent on both parents, the best “garment” being acquired when the parents of the soul in question love each other, acknowledge the sanctity of their sexual union, and couple in holiness.[Zacutto, M.: Shorshei ha-Shemot, Hotzaat Nezer Shraga, Jerusalem 1999.] In this regard, Meir Poppers tells us that even in the case where “a great soul” is incarnating in the flesh, that soul “needs the sanctity of his father and mother during lovemaking so as to bring forth a superior garment, lest this garment cause him to sin.”[Poppers, M.: Ta’amei ha-Mitzvot, Vilna 1880. Transl. in Fine, L.: Physician of the Soul, Healer of the Cosmos: Isaac Luria and His Kabbalistic Fellowship, Op. cit.] In fact, in the case of such a sacred sexual union, the Kavvanah (focussed attention) of the one to be born will be centered on Achatri’el, whilst he or she is being clothed in the “Levush Neshamah.”[Zacutto, M.: Shorshei ha-Shemot, Op. cit.]

Now, sometimes the Malbush, the "spiritual garment," was perceived to be a literal garment, a "mantle of righteousness," as in the case of a work entitled “The Book of the Putting on and Fashioning of the mantle of Righteousness.”[Sefer ha-Malbush v’Tikkun me’il ha-Tzedakah, MS British Museum, Margoliouth 752; quoted in Scholem, G.: On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, Schocken Books Inc., New York 1965] In this instance a pure deer-hide parchment was chosen and a sleeveless garment, in the form of a high priest’s Efod, was cut from this. It covered the shoulders and the chest, falling down the sides to the loins, and stretching down to the navel. A hood was connected to the garment, and on this “magic robe” the secret Divine Names were written. The practitioner was however not allowed to dress in this robe until the following conditions were fulfilled.

The wearer had to fast for a week, was not allowed to touch anything unclean, and had to follow a vegetarian diet. At the end of the week he was supposed to go to a body of water, such as a river or a lake, during the night, and call the Divine Name written on the parchment-robe over the water. If he saw a green shape above the water, something still unclean was within the individual concerned, and the preparations would have to be repeated for another seven days, accompanied by Mitzvot (good deeds) and Tzedakah (Acts of Righteousness mainly understood to be charitable deeds). If the shape over the water was red, “know that you are inwardly clean and fit to put on the Name. Then go into the water up to your loins and put on the venerable and terrible Name in the water.” This “putting on the Mantle of Righteousness” was believed to give the wearer immeasurable power.

It is a mystery to me why seeing a green figure “above the water” should signify “uncleanness” or the vision of red figure should specifically be equated with “purity” or “cleanliness,” but there are perhaps some clues in one of the first systems in Kabbalah of attributing colours to the various Sefirot on the Tree of Life, the colours then being mainly blue, red, green, white and black. Of course the last two are not really colours, but we should remember that the latter were definitely considered colours by these authors. Red, Green and White are by far the most important colours in this system, which Cordovero explained in some detail in his introduction to Kabbalah.[Robinson, I.: Moses Cordovero’s Introduction to Kabbalah: An Annotated Translation of His Or Ne’erav, The Michael Sharf Publication Trust of the Yeshiva University Press, New York 1994.] He said “colours are ascribed to the qualities [Sefirot] according to their actions,” and originally these were:
Keter (Crown) — White/Black
Chochmah (Wisdom) — Blue
Binah (Understanding) — Green
Chesed (Loving-kindness/Mercy) — White
Gevurah (Strength/Severity) — Red
Tiferet (Beauty) — White
Netzach (Victory/Endurance)— Red
Hod (Glory/Splendour) — Green
Yesod (Foundation) — White
Malchut (Kingdom) — White
Rabbi Cordovero explained that as one cannot attribute any colour to Nothingness, no colour can be ascribed to Keter, a sefirah understood to be balanced between the states of pure being and becoming, but still hidden, as it were, within the Eternal No-Thing. He referred to Keter as being represented by the extremes of white and black. As white is understood to represent “Mercy,” it shows the “Mercy of Keter.” The attribution of black is said to indicate the true “essence” of Divinity, beyond time, space and events, hidden as said. Thus the great Rabbi wrote in Pardes Rimmonim “That essence does not change colour at all, neither judgment nor compassion, neither right nor left. Yet by emanating through the [Sefirot]—the variegated stained glass—judgment or compassion prevails.”[Cordovero, M.: Pardes Rimmonim quoted in Matt, D.C.: The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, HarperSanFrancisco, San Francisco 1995]

Cordovero referred to Chochmah as the “beginning of action” and referred to blue as the “beginning of the development of colour from blackness,” or the first radiations of light from Ain Sof. He further stated that green is attributed to Binah since this colour “contains the colours of red and white, which are perceived together.” He also claimed that it “contains the colour blue, which is from Chochmah.” Cordovero is saying simply that Binah unites the principles of “Mercy” and “Severity,” respectively “white” and “red,” and is also channelling “Wisdom” (blue).

Now, while “white” is attributed to Chesed, its colour is considered to be quite different from that of Keter, almost as if the Light of Mercy, having been received via Chochmah and Binah, had become a bit contaminated and was thus somewhat grey, with a good dose of “blue” (Wisdom) in it. Now, while Gevurah is considered to be red (the colour of judgment), Cordovero attributed a number of colours to it. He said that blue can also be found here, since the “Light of Gevurah” also emanated via Chochmah and Binah, but he said this sefirah is also black because it contains that aspect of retribution that “blackens the faces of creatures.” Cordovero considered the special link between Gevurah and Binah by referring to “the joysome wine which proceeds from Gevurah to Binah.”

While Tiferet is traditionally understood to be white, Cordovero saw it as basically green, as well as comprising the principles represented by several colours at work within this special sefirah. Thus he wrote: “They ascribed to it sapphire in extension of Da’at (Knowledge). In its revealed aspect of determination, it includes white and red, that is, the green of an egg yolk, in truth. Now Tiferet includes the colour[s] of Chesed and Gevurah in one of two [manners]. It is either above them in the mystery of Da’at, which includes them in their roots or in its lower aspect, that is, the mixture of red and white. It also possess the colour of purple, which includes five colours. They are the mystery [of the angels] Uriel, Refael, Gavriel, Michael, and Nuriel.” [Robinson, I.: Moses Cordovero’s Introduction to Kabbalah: An Annotated Translation of His Or Ne’erav, Op. cit.]

Netzach and Hod are respectively described as “red shading to white, for it is mostly mercy because of its orientation to the side of Chesed,” and “white shading to red because it is mostly Judgment due to its orientation to the side of Gevurah.”

Again, whereas Yesod was originally considered to be white, as were all the spheres of the “Middle Pillar”—being the “Pillar of Being” in contradistinction to the outer “Pillars of Doing,” Cordovero maintained Yesod to be “a mixture of white shading to red and red shading to white,” thus focussing the qualities of Netzach and Hod within itself. However, since the Light of Yesod is refracted via the preceding Sefirot, the colour of Yesod was also understood to be a kind of sapphire blue.

Finally Malchut, originally white, was seen by Cordovero to comprise all colours, i.e. all the Light derived from all the Sefirot was focussed in Malchut, which is like a rainbow.

Now, looking at this teaching in which the sefirot of the “Middle Pillar” are white, and the colours red and green are connected to certain sefirot on the “Outer Pillars” it is clear that “Understanding” and “Splendour” (or “Glory”), representing the top and bottom of the “Left Pillar” are “Green,” while “Severity” — which represents the forces of Din (Judgment) [also considered “Discipline” as well as Pachad (“Fear”)], and Netzach (“Victory”) [also considered “Endurance” and “Determination”] are “Red.”

Using this information in order to comprehend the earlier references to the states of “purity” and “uncleanness” of an invocant attempting to put on the “Mantle of Righteousness,” this being indicated above the water respectively by a “red figure” and a “green figure,” and knowing very well that one is often confronted with that which one needs most in ones life, these messages might be interpreted this way:

Green figure: “While you perceive the splendour [Hod—green] of comprehension [Binah—green], you are in a state of imbalance [Left Pillar only]. You have not used self-discipline [Gevurah—red] in order to conquer [Netzach—red] lower desires and your fears [Gevurah—red].”

Red figure: “Your fears [Gevurah—red] have been conquered [Netzach—red]. Having proceeded with determination [Netzach—red], you were brought by your discipline [Gevurah—red] of self to a state of victory [Netzach—red] which will endure [Netzach—red].”

However.....there are many different ways in which these indicators can be many as there are people to interpret them. Everyone will understand in accordance with personal perceptions. Truly, each one of us perceives the world through “me”–coloured glasses!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Kabbalah and the Occult

Having completed and published "The Book of Seals & Amulets," the third volume of what I chose to term the "Shadow Tree Series," I am contemplating the unpredictable "mystical journey" I have been traversing since the appearance of the first volume, "The Book of Self Creation," five years ago, i.e. the amazing Companions who shared the journey with me; the realisation that I have personally gained so much from sharing material which were not so readily accessible to an English speaking readership, and that I am commencing writing the fourth volume, "The Book of Immediate Magic," with my mind ready to embrace the next glimpse into, as it were, the "Greater Whole of Divine Manifestation."

Obviously all human viewpoints are of necessity limited in terms of the "All" of the "All-in-All" and the "All-with-All," and I understand that my fundamental intention to share primary material from the vast arena of Practical Kabbalah in harmony with what is popularly termed the "Western Mystery Tradition," has become a life task. In this regard, considering my current age, it might be difficult in this incarnation to fully realise the estimated twelve titles which I believe would make this a definitive investigation into Jewish mystical/ magical teachings, the latter having been accessible to only a selected few for many centuries.

Be that as it may, I recall how, prior to commencing writing this series of "esoteric/occult" texts, I have "quizzed a host of individuals regarding their understanding of what they think 'the occult' or 'occultism' was all about," and, as I mentioned in "The Book of Self Creation," some were "greatly suspicious of the 'hidden agenda' behind my query," and I also recall how "I ended up with a most confusing list of what is considered 'occult' by both the general public as well as by those who claim to have 'informed insight,' the latter often hinting vaguely at having acquired their sagacity straight from the horse’s mouth." In the said tome I shared ten extracts from a large list of what the individuals I queried considered to be "occult." As noted in the mentioned publication, the phrasing of some of the responses were very amusing, and I thought sharing the direct quotes here might equally bring a smile to the faces of those who peruse this blog. So here they are for your amusement, or "serious consideration".....if you so will!
1. Astrology and related “astral arts.” To Astrology many joined numerology and “analysis of one’s birth date,” the latter being considered different from “numerology” by some.
2. Palmistry, graphology (handwriting analysis), “checking the moles on one’s body” and “looking at one’s liver to find out what the weather would be like tomorrow.” Since the latter two responses were so amusing, I could not resist quoting them verbatim. Included here is the practice of “reading faces,” and other related divinatory activities pertaining to one’s personal anatomy.
3. Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, etc., and literally every organization—whether involved in esoteric studies or not—whose meetings are held in private or considered clandestine, are all considered “occult.” Even if their meetings were open to the public and their practices common knowledge, it is believed they were still meeting in “secret” and were working “hidden rituals which we do not know.”

On inquiring how these respondents could have such direct information regarding these hidden details, they often turned offensive.
4. UFO’s and the Egyptian pyramids, which some maintained are linked to “crop circles in England,” and according to others to “South America,” and again according to still others to a large hole in the North Pole (some having a suspicion that such a hole also exists in the South Pole and elsewhere, e.g. a special mountain somewhere in the USA), which leads to a powerful, sinister anti-Christian world in the centre of the Earth. This is but a brief summary of a voluminous list comprising even more outrageous related responses.
5. All forms of Divinations, e.g. Tarot, I Ching, Dream Interpretations, etc., far too numerous to list here in full.
6. “Wearing charms on your wrists”! At the time I thought the respondent might not object to one wearing these around one’s ankles, but suspecting that the objection is to wearing “lucky charms” in general, I did not bother to question any further. As it is, there were many who thought “charms,” “horseshoes,” “amulets, “talismans,” etc., to be positively diabolical since they “interfere with the work of God.”

I meant to ask how these objects meddled with “the work of the Almighty,” but since the fanaticism of many of the respondents would have deemed me one of the “fallen ones doomed to eternal damnation,” I thought further probing would be a waste of time.
7. Spiritualism, “travelling in the air with the help of demons,” “making oneself invisible,” and “calling up the dead which is called ‘necromancy’ which is calling up demons for nasty purposes.” In this case, the passionate look and excitement of the respondent conjured up images in my mind of demons fornicating with humans blissfully heaving under the furious onslaught, though I cannot be sure that this is what the respondent had in mind.
8. Crystals and stones, “herbs used for occult reasons”—heaven knows what the respondent was talking about. Be that as it may, the most amusing response here must certainly be “Kissing stones and the rings of the bishops and the Mafia”! This response reduced me to fits of laughter!
9. “Doing black rituals with blood taken from the stabbed vagina of a virgin”.....OY! .....and all forms of ritual magic and witchcraft, which include “praying to angels and demons.” Here I wanted to remind the respondent, who informed me that he was a most committed Roman Catholic, that his own religion called on the aid of “angels and saints.”

Be that as it may, one respondent queried whether I knew that David Copperfield and David Blaine have actually “sold their soles (sic!) to the Devil and that the public does not know that they are working REAL magic”? The same individual added apologetically that there is of course no such thing as “real magic.” Well.....did the mentioned individuals work “real magic” or not? Since I did not pursue the topic with the respondent, there is no conclusive answer forthcoming.
10. My compilation of what the general public considers to be “occult” comprises over 2,000 different and, in many instances, unique responses. I certainly do not intend presenting you with the full enumeration, but I thought I would conclude this very condensed summary of my survey with a tenth “unique” response (10 being the “lucky number” as it corresponds to the ten “Sefirot” which might turn out to be fortuitous for me!)

This response is especially interesting as it derived from a “reborn Christian” who maintained the Roman Catholic church is practising “black magic all the time” by changing the wine in the communion chalice into the literal “blood of Jesus” and then drinking it. He added some thoughts regarding the “Virgin Mary” whom he said “is not the mother of Jesus but a pagan goddess of sacrifice who demands the blood of the Christian god which is the blackest side of occultism!”

Where have we heard that one before? Haven’t Jews been accused of ritually sacrificing Christian children in order to drink their blood during Passover dinners, etc., and this despite the fact that religious Jews do not actually eat or drink blood at all, such actions being strictly forbidden by Jewish religious laws?
My survey concluded with the realisation that there is not an absolutely clear or exact definition of “the Occult.” An etymological dictionary, which we might at least consider somewhat reputable, defines the term:
Occult: from Latin occult-(tum) past participle of occulere ‘to cover up, conceal’ oc– & base kel– etc., ‘to hide,’ and seen in celare, ‘to hide.” 1. Hidden, secret, esoteric. 2. Specifically supernatural, mystic, magical: occult sciences; also as noun the Occult.....
Occultism: Theory of, and belief in supernatural, occult (unknown) forces and powers; study or practice of occult sciences and arts.....”
If I take these definitions at face value, then I am obliged to concede that all religious worship and all spiritual activities fall in the “occultism” category! On the other hand, since most of the items listed above have actually lost their earlier “hidden” status, and are now openly shared in the gutter press, i.e. journals and daily newspapers around the globe, it is somewhat odd to continue considering these topics “occult” from their erstwhile “clandestine status” perspective. In fact, as indicated earlier, the word “occult” is used loosely as a reference to any spiritual activity viewed with disapproval, or with approval by those who, like myself, define themselves “occultists.” While there are amongst the latter several of the “sensationalist” variety, there are equally many who are most seriously aligned with the Western Mystery Tradition as a whole.

So how about Kabbalah and “the Occult”? At one stage Kabbalah was considered “occult,” because it was a “hidden tradition” accessed by relatively few committed students and serious investigators. Considering the items earlier listed “occult,” most of them are present in what is called “Jewish Kabbalah” or what I prefer to term “Traditional Kabbalah.” For example:
1. Both astrology and numerology comprise major portions of Kabbalistic doctrine, and a large quantity of primary information is devoted to this topic both within mainstream Judaic texts and mystical writings.
2. Palmistry (Chochmat ha-Yad) and studying the face (Chochmat ha-Partzuf), including examining the “moles” on the body, were practised by Kabbalists.

We might also note that the Holy Ari, read the faces of those he encountered, but I must admit that none I am aware of were actually investigating the “livers” of their fellow humankind, or the innards of sacrificed beasts to ascertain weather conditions or anything else for that matter!
3. As to the possibility that there might have been organizations or schools considered “occult,” i.e. hidden or clandestine, amongst Kabbalists, there were indeed many Kabbalistic schools down the centuries who kept their teachings hidden from all but a very restricted membership. Kabbalah was for a long time, and in many instances still is, an exclusive esoteric tradition within the ranks of the larger community, and while the existence of such schools were common knowledge, their doctrines were secret and available to the mentioned very select few. What is more, they worked special ritualistic practices unknown to those outside their closest circles of companionship.
4. UFO’s, Egyptian Pyramids and “crop circles” do not play a part in Kabbalah, even though some years back an acquaintance arranged for a “crop circle Tree of Life” to be constructed for her. Neither do “holes in the poles” feature in Kabbalistic doctrines. Probably the only “Inner World” Kabbalists might be interested in, is the “the World to Come.”
5. As far as all sorts of divinations are concerned, there are very many in Kabbalah, including the mentioned “dream interpretations” discussed. Consulting a variety of oracles (Goralot) is also not a strange pursuit amongst Kabbalists.
6. Wearing special “charms,” “amulets” or “talismans” was not a strange phenomenon in Kabbalistic circles, which included some of the greatest masters writing “Kameot” amongst their ranks. These kameot range in purpose from protection during childbirth to the promotion of physical health and the invocation of financial success, etc. There is an enormous literature, penned by “authentic” Kabbalists, in existence on this very topic.

Regarding kameot, there are some who are of the opinion that they have been replaced by modern medication, e.g. pills. There are however many within this tradition, myself included, who prefer to employ kameot “with understanding” rather than taking pills “without understanding.” It should also be noted that not all “Kameot” and “Segulot”(Magical Remedies [Spiritual Treasures]) are of the “pill taking” variety, and that the principles underlying “Kameot” are quite different from the mind-set behind taking pills.
7. Contacting the “spirits of the dead” is equally not a foreign custom amongst Kabbalists, who to this very day indulge in prostrating themselves on the graves of departed saints and chanting special incantations, in order to establish a link between the “soul” of the departed and themselves. Here we might also consider the topic of “Maggidim,” a term used in reference to anything from living lay preachers to “spirit messengers,” some of whom are spirits of the deceased. In fact, this is what an “Ibbur,” the beneficial “impregnation” of a living human by a deceased soul, is all about, which should be carefully distinguished from a “dibbuk” which pertains to malevolent possession.

As far as the earlier statement regarding “travelling through the air with the help of demons” is concerned, we might note “kefitzat ha-derech,” magical travel from one destination to another, which involved the use of what is termed the “air of demons.” When it comes to the use of techniques to create “invisibility,” we again have several instances of these being employed in “Practical Kabbalah.” Consider for example the great Shalom Sharabi, who is reported to have made his way to the Wailing Wall every night at midnight to pray. At the time the terrain of the Wailing Wall was prohibited to Jews, but this did not deter the remarkable 18th century Kabbalist from employing a special method to range himself invisible to the guards.
8. While I have certainly not seen Kabbalists kissing the rings, or the butts for that matter, of some highly esteemed noble or notorious personality, I have certainly perused writings describing the benefits derived from the use of certain minerals, plants, and other substances for a variety of special purposes.
9. Again Kabbalah is no stranger to activities classified in the “ceremonial magic” genre. There are numerous rituals, incantationary uses of Divine Names, angelic invocations, etc. to be found in the primary magical texts of “Practical Kabbalah.”
It is worth noting that the practitioners of all the related primary works, very many of which I have listed in the extensive bibliographies of the three published volumes of the "Shadow Tree Series," were all Rabbis, greatly esteemed in their communities. So, having established that most of what is generally considered “occult” was flourishing in the very heart of Jewish mysticism, I am baffled by claims denying any primary connection between Kabbalah and “the Occult.”

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"The Book of Seals & Amulets" in print!!

I am delighted to inform you that "The Book of Seals & Amulets" [508 pages] is now in print. This, the third volume of the "Shadow Tree Series," comprises a comprehensive investigation into the meaning and relevance of Celestial Alphabets, Magical Seals, Magic Squares, Divine and Angelic Names, etc., as well as their employment in Hebrew Amulets in order to benefit personal wellbeing in a most significant manner. Continuing the standards I set in "The Book of Self Creation" and "The Book of Sacred Names," I offer detailed instruction on the contents and construction of Hebrew Amulets. I again consulted the enormous array of relevant primary Hebrew literature, large sections of which are now available to an English readership for the first time.

"The Book of Seals & Amulets" comprises:

Chapter 1: Levanah — Sacred Names in Hebrew Amulets [106 pages]
A. Adonai
B. Ehyeh
C. Ineffable Name
D. Shadai
E. Enigmatic Divine Names
1. Agala’a
2. Azbogah
3. Atneik
4. BYT
5. Taftafyah
6. Yohach Kalach
7. Kuzu B’mochsaz Kuzu
8. Matz’patz
9. Ashtzei
10. Tzurtak
11. Tzamarchad
F. The Twenty-two Letter Name
G. The Forty-Two Letter Name
H. The Name of Seventy-two Names
I. Compounded Employment of Divine Names
Chapter 2: Kochav — Letter, Word & Number Squares [59 pages]
A. Letter Squares
B. Word Squares
C. Number Squares
1. Magic Square of the Third Order
2. Magic Square of the Fourth Order
3. Magic Square of the Fifth & Sixth Order
4. Magic Square of the Seventh Order
5. Magic Square of the Eighth & Ninth Order
Chapter 3: Nogah — Sacred Writ & Kameot [77 pages]
A. A River went out of Eden
B. Psalms.....Psalms.....Everywhere!
Psalm 1
Psalm 2
Psalm 67
Psalm 91
Psalm 106
Psalm 121
Chapter 4 : Shemesh — Secret Alphabets & Magical Seals [55 pages]
A. Celestial Alphabets
1. Kolmosin Micha’el
2. Kolmosin Gavri’el
3. Kolmosin Ori’el (Nuri’el)
4. K’tav Avar ha-Nehar
5. K’tav ha-Malachim
6. K’tav Tz’va ha-Shamayim
7. Alfa Beta shel Metatron
B. Chotamot (Magical Seals)
Chapter 5 : Madim — Angels, Demons & Amulets for Protection [45 pages]
A. Angelic Hosts
B. Fiendish Hordes
C. Amulets for Protection
Chapter 6 : TzedekKameot for Health, Wealth & Happiness [33 pages]
A. Health & Healing
B. Wealth & Success
C. Amulets & Elements
Chapter 7 : Shabetai — Patterns, Shapes & Sizes [43 pages]
A. Chabusa: Six-petalled Rosette
B. Menorah: Seven-branched Candelabrum
C. Magen David: Shield of David
D. The Hand
E. Printed Amulets
F. Disposing of Discarded Amulets
References & Bibliography [45 pages]

The “Shadow Tree Series” comprises a unique collection of Western Esoteric studies and practices which I have actuated and taught over a period of forty years. I commenced my Kabbalistic odyssey in the early 1970’s studying the doctrines of Lurianic Kabbalah, and later investigated the fascinating traditions of Practical Kabbalah. I also incorporated the teachings of my late mentor, the celebrated English Kabbalist William G. Gray, in my personal kabbalistic/magical worldview.

Having introduced a “nuts-and-bolts” insight into the inner workings of Ceremonial Magic and Practical Kabbalah in “The Book of Self Creation” and “The Book of Sacred Names,” I present further magical resources in “The Book of Seals & Amulets.”

In conclusion I should mention again that since I addressed in the current tome several hundred Hebrew amulets and related magical objects, i.e. Sigils, Magic Squares, Magical Alphabets, etc., I again elected to include original Hebrew texts with easily accessible accompanying transliterations and translations. As you might expect, "The Book of Seals & Amulets" comprises nearly 300 images of amulets and related illustrations, the largest majority of which were again from primary resources in the domain of "Practical Kabbalah,"

You can access "The Book of Seals & Amulets" and other publications of the Sangreal Sodality Press directly at:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fiendish Forces in Hebrew Amulets - Part 2

There are many references to all manner of demonic forces in Hebrew amulets, usually in terms of kin type and, except for a very few like the demoness Lilit, are rarely named individually. Even when it comes to referencing a single “malevolent spirit,” it is often in the third person. For example, mention is made of the collective Ruchin b’ishin or to Ruchot ra’ot, all of which have been translated “evil spirits” (some say “ghosts”), and they are considered to be of both the feminine and masculine kind [Montgomery, J.A.: Aramaic Incantation Texts from Nippur, University Museum, Philadelphia 1913.]. We also find references to a singular Ruach ra’ah (“evil spirit”), i.e. one from amongst the “Ruchin” or “Ruchot ra’ot.”

As it is, Hebrew amulets include references to several classes from amongst the demonic legions. Amongst those mentioned in Kameot listed in my "The Book of Seals & Amulets," are the Mazikim or Mazikin, i.e. injurers (harmful spirits), who have been described “imps.” It has been claimed that the mazikim are the offspring of Adam and Eve having had liaisons with demonic entities. It is said they “and their demonic consorts account for the proliferation of demons”[Schwartz, H., Loebel-Fried, Ginsburg, E.K.: Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, Oxford University Press Inc., New York 2004.]. However, there appears to be some confusion as far as these claims are concerned. Elsewhere it is indicated that the mazikim, “beings who injure (nezek)” [Witton Davies, T.: "Magic" Back and White, Charms and Counter Charms, Divination and Demonology among the Hindus, Hebrews, Arabs and Egyptians, de Laurence, Scott & Co., Chicago 1910], are comprised of a number of demonic classes.

Past research referenced two main factions amongst the mazikim, the first is comprised of “fallen angels who are wholly supernatural,” and the second of beings who are “half supernatural and half human.” Amongst the latter group there are two demonic classes which are of interest to us, since they are often referred to in protection amulets. First there is the Lilin faction of demons, which were “begotten of Adam on the one side, and Lilith and other female spirits on the other,” rather than from Eve, the primordial human mother, and we are told that “Lilith reigns over these as queen” [Witton Davies].

Next there are the Shedim or Shedin, the most cited of the demonic types listed in Hebrew amulets. We find references in the Hebrew Bible to these “demonic fiends,” i.e. in Deuteronomy 32:17 in which we are told regarding those who forsook the good ways of the Almighty One, "they sacrificed unto demons [Shedim]”). This accusation is emphasised and expanded upon in Psalm 106:37 where we read “Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto demons [Shedim]”).

The Shedim are said to be of the mischievous or “hobgoblin type” [Montgomery] and we are informed that their king, Ashmedai, “resembles the merry if also mischief-making hobgoblins of fairy tales” [Witton Davies]. It is said the Shedim were born from the sexual relations of two angels, i.e. Aza and Azael, with Na’amah, the daughter of Lamech who was the great-great grandson of the Biblical Enoch. All of this supposedly happened prior to the biblical “great flood” [Rappoport, A.S.: Myth and Legend of Ancient Israel, Vol. 1, The Gresham Publishing Company Ltd., London 1927]. However, the Shedim may “assume any shape and form they like,” and are “able to see without being seen themselves” [Thompson, R.C.: Semitic Magic: Its Origins and Development, Luzac & Co., London 1909]. If you should find this disconcerting, especially as far as your personal safety against these malevolent forces is concerned, it is worth noting that all demonic forces are said to be subordinate to the four great Archangels of the Divine Throne, i.e. Micha’el, Gavri’el, Rafa’el and Ori’el. In this regard, the 14th century Kabbalist Menachem ben Meir Tziyoni tells us “And know, that each party (of demons) is (subordinated) to certain archons and divine angels, as it is known among men of understanding” [Tziyoni, M. ben M.: unpublished passage in Sefer Tziyoni translated in Huss, B.: Demonology and Magic, Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 10, 2004].

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fiendish Forces in Hebrew Amulets - Part 1

Whilst the patronage of higher spiritual forces are enlisted in Hebrew amulets by means of their names, malevolent powers are equally identified in Kameot in order to, as it were, bind them and weaken their impact on the living. Restraining demonic entities is particularly necessary, since it is said that "if the eye had the power to see them, no creature could endure the demons." Furthermore, "they are more numerous than we are and they surround us like the ridge round a field," and it is claimed "Every one among us has a thousand on his left hand and ten thousand on his right hand." [Talmud Bavli, Berachot 6a]

It is said demonic entities are "living souls without bodies," [Thompson, R.C.: Semitic Magic: Its Origins and Development, Luzac & Co., London 1909] and it is believed they resemble humans in three ways, "they eat and drink like human beings; they propagate like human beings; and they die like human beings" [Talmud Bavli Chagigah 16a]. We are informed that "the injury of the human race in every possible way was believed to be the chief delight of evil spirits," [Cassels, W.R.: Supernatural Religion: An Inquiry into the Reality of Divine Revelation Vol. 1, Longmans Green & Co., London 1874] which is another "quality" they share with so many of the human race who "delight" in doing just that to their fellow human kind. The demoness Lilit certainly ranks amongst the most dangerous of those spirit forces who take pleasure in killing humans.

The saga surrounding the person and career of this demonic dame reads like a popular soap opera. She "was a failure as Adam’s intended wife, became the paramour of lascivious spirits, rose to be the bride of Samael the demon King, ruled as the Queen of Zemargad and Sheba, and finally ended up as the consort of God himself." [Patai, R.: The Hebrew Goddess, Third enlarged edition, Wayne State University Press, Detroit 1990] Her incredible career in evil and depravity spanning more than four millennia, rivals that of any other career criminal, whether human or demonic. At least there is some protection against the killer instincts of this lady. We are told she informed the Propher Elijah "whenever I shall see or hear any of my names I shall straightway flee.... And whenever my names shall be mentioned I shall have no power to do evil or to injure." [Hanauer, J.E.: Folk-Lore of the Holy Land: Moslem, Christian and Jewish, Duckworth & Co., London 1907]

It would seem the history of Lilit can be traced back to the Lillu, who "was one of four demons belonging to a vampire or incubi-succubae class" mentioned in a Sumerian King list. [Patai, R.: The Hebrew Goddess] Thus it has been suggested that the traditions regarding "Lilit" were derived by Jews from Sumerian and Gnostic lore, and it is further alleged that much of Sumerian folklore was absorbed into Judaism by the patriarch Abraham, and the fact that he hailed from Chaldean Ur was cited in support of this claim.

There is certainly no evidence that Abraham received the Lilit mythology from the Sumerians, or that it was from thence that it found its way into kabbalistic lore. There is also no reference to Lilit in the Pentateuch, and all evidence points to it having been extracted from Babylonian-Assyrian sources. After all, Jews lived in exile in Babylonia for centuries, and even after the "return" and Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem, many preferred to remain in the settled comfort of Babylonia, where the great Jewish academies continued to thrive well into the early centuries of the common era.

We know for certain that Lilit is part of Babylonian demonology, and that there are some Sumerian antecedents. In fact, Lilit was one of a demonic couple, Lilu the male and Lilitu the female, both of which were associated with a whole set of "harmful spirits" called mazikim. Now, whilst Lilit in "Jewish lore" is particularly associated with endangering the life of the newly born infant, the Babylonian equivalents of this spirit fulfilled various nefarious functions. For example, there is an incantation in an Assyrian ritual text against an Ardat-Lili who preys on males. Others would strangle infants and threaten pregnant women.

There is only one reference to Lilit in the Bible (Isaiah 34:14), hence it is understood that most of what we know of the early Jewish traditions regarding Lilit, derives mainly from the Babylonian Talmud. Amongst the early "Jewish" references to Lilit we should include one from the Qumran community (Dead Sea Scrolls), whilst aspects of this tradition were also absorbed into "The Testament of Solomon," a third century Greek work. More details on the Lilit as the first wife of Adam were also included in the "Alphabet of Ben Sira."

Now, just because Lilit is called the "mother of demons," does not mean that she does not have enemies amongst her own kind. In this regard, the demoness Machalat, the "Dancer," and her daughter Agrat bat Machalat, the latter being the consort of Ashmodai and queen of the demons, are said to live "in strife with Lilith." The hostility of these female demons towards Lilit is no simple matter. Agrat bat Machalat is the consort of Ashmodai and she ranks "queen of the demons." Furthermore, she is said to have "a retinue of one hundred and eighty thousand evil spirits." [Rappoport, A.S.: The Folklore of the Jews, The Soncino Press, London 1937]

(More to follow)