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Post: 333 of 371 From: (Colin Low) Newsgroups: alt.magick Subject: Notes on Kabbalah Part 11 (long) Date: 7 Jan 92 23:53:11 GMT Organization: Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, Bristol, UK. Lines: 503 Guess what I did at Xmas. **************************************************************************** Notes on Kabbalah (a continuing series of many parts) The author grants the right to copy and distribute these Notes provided they remain unmodified and original authorship and copyright is retained. The author retains both the right and intention to modify and extend these Notes. Release 1.11 Copy date: 7th. January 1992 Copyright Colin Low 1992 ( **************************************************************************** Chapter 5: Practical Kabbalah ============================== "But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that's all right said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I'll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe. "Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good. "Then the lion said - but I don't know if it spoke - "You will have to let me undress you." I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back and let him do it. "The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off." C.S. Lewis From an historical and traditional perspective the practical techniques of Kabbalah include techniques of mysticism and (to a lesser extent) magic to be found the world over: complex concentration and visualisation exercises, meditation, breath control, prayer, ritual, physical posture, chanting and singing, abstinence, fasting, mortification and good works. Many different combinations of practice were used at different times and places, and it is clear that practice grew more out of the temperament of the individual than from a long historical tradition. From time to time an outstanding teacher would appear, and a school would form, but these schools tended to be short-lived, and one is struck more by the diversity and individuality of the different approaches, than by (what is often presumed) a chain of masters handing down the core of a secret tradition through the centuries. A problem with trying to find an authentic tradition of Kabbalistic practice is not only is it difficult to identify just what such a tradition might be (given the diversity of approaches over the centuries), but more importantly, the keys to many of the practical techniques have been lost. In her book on Kabbalah [1], Perle Epstein makes a number of wry comments about the state of Kabbalah in Judaism today, and regrets the loss of a practical mystical tradition. Outside of Judaism the situation is little better; Kabbalah has become an element in the syllabus of many traditions, but its practical application is often limited to exercises such as pathworking. It is instructive to examine the Golden Dawn initiation rituals [2] as an example of what happens when Kabbalah is boiled up with a mixture of ingredients drawn from Greek, Egyptian, Rosicrucian and Enochian sources - there is a pervasive smell of Kabbalah throughout, but it rarely amounts to a meal. The following description of Kabbalistic practice makes no attempt to be comprehensive; on the contrary, I have chosen only those practices with which I am personally familiar. This will be unsatisfactory to those readers with an academic or historical interest, but these notes were intended to have a practical value, and I see no value in trying to describe techniques I have not used. Epstein [1] provides a useful introduction to the breadth of Kabbalistic practice, and the personalities which have shaped Kabbalistic thought. I am aware that there will be those who would not wish to associate the name "Kabbalah" with the practices I am about to describe - although I am not Jewish, I respect the beliefs of those who are - but at the same time there is a great deal of variety in nearly two thousand years of Kabbalah, and one living tradition is worth at least as much as several dead traditions. There is no right or canonical tradition of Kabbalistic practice. The practice of Kabbalah as I will describe it is underpinned by the theosophical structure I have outlined previously in these notes. First and foremost comes the belief that there is a God. The ultimate nature of God is neither known nor manifest to us, but just as light can be passed through a prism to produce a rainbow of colours, so God manifests in the creation as ten divine lights or emanations, usually referred to as sephiroth. Each of one of us is a part of God, a microcosm, a complete and functioning simulacrum of the whole, and so God similarly manifests within us as ten divine lights. Because we can look in the mirror of our own being and see the reflection of the macrocosm it follows that self-knowledge shades imperceptibly into knowledge of God, and as the whole of creation is an emanation of God, so self-knowledge moves the centre of consciousness away from a subjective awareness of reality towards an objective and non-dualistic union with everything that is. The second key idea is that the emanations or sephiroth are aspects of the *creative* power of God. On a macrocosmic scale, the creation is seen as the continuing outcome of a dynamic process in which creative energy manifests progressively through the sephiroth; at a microcosmic and personal level the same process is at work, and this is the Kabbalistic interpretation of the notion that we are "made in God's image". By understanding the elements which comprise our own natures, by going far enough inside ourselves to understand the energy and dynamics operating within our own consciousness, so we touch the same energies operating in the universe. When we have touched these energies we can call on them; one name for this process is "magic". Traditionally these energies are called upon by name, and are characterised in concrete ways - the list of correspondences given in Chapter 2 of these notes provides many ideas as to how these energies are likely to be observed at a level where we are most likely to observe them. The Kabbalistic Tree of Life is an abstract representation or map describing the creative energy of God and the process of manifestation. And that is it, in essence. How literally you take these assumptions is up to you; my attitude resembles that of the engineer Oliver Heavyside, who didn't care whether his self- invented mathematical methods made sense to mathematicians (they didn't), as long as his calculations produced the right answers (they did). I will talk about angels and archangels and names of God, powers and sephiroth and invocations, and leave it to you to make your own sense of it. But to return to the discussion of practical Kabbalah: one can identify two major kinds of practical work arising out of the assumptions above. From the idea that we are made in the image of God we can conclude that by knowing ourselves we can (in some degree) know God; this leads to practical work designed to increase self-knowledge to the greatest degree possible, a process I will refer to as *initiation*. From the idea that we can call upon aspects of the creative energy of God to change reality we arrive at practices intended to increase *personal power*. Kabbalah has divided along these two paths, and I believe it is accurate to say that traditional Jewish Kabbalah is predominantly mystical, with the emphasis on union with God, while non-Jewish Kabbalah is predominantly magical. It is easy to sit in judgement of these two approaches; many authors have done so. To seek for union with God is to seek to do God's will; the world-wide mystical agenda is composed largely of the subjugation of ego and the replacement of personal wilfulness with divine union. Magic is seen to be predominantly wilful, and so shares the original Satanic impulse of pride and rebellion against the divine will. It is easy to conclude that mystical union (devekuth, or "cleaving to God") is the true goal, and magic an "egocentric" aberration of consciousness. It is difficult to provide a *rational* counter to this argument: to be rational is to fail to appreciate the ineffability of mystical insight, and to argue is to demonstrate Satanic wilfulness - one is condemned out of one's own mouth. Nevertheless, there is a middle way between the two extremes, and in what follows the process of initiation is combined with the use of magical techniques in a blend which I believe captures the best of both approaches. I have chosen to describe the process of initiation first because I have the romantic notion that an ethical sense grows out of self-knowledge. I follow that with a discussion of some general magical techniques. Initiation ---------- One of the meanings of the word "initiation" is "the process of beginning something". What is one beginning? One is committing oneself to find answers to certain questions. What questions? The questions vary, but they are usually fundamental questions about the nature of life and personal existence: "why is the world the way it is?", "why am I alive?", "what lies behind the phenomenal world?", "why should I continue living?", "what is good and what is evil?", "how should I live?", and "how can I become rich, famous and sexually attractive without expending any effort?". It happens (for no obvious reason) that there are people who cannot escape the nagging conviction that some or all of these questions can be answered, and the same people are determined to wring the answers out of somebody or something. The situation resembles a cat in a new house; the poor creature will not rest until it has explored every nook and cranny from the attic to the crawlspace. So it is with certain people; they look out on the world with cat's eyes, and metaphysical and philosophical questions are like dark openings into the attic and crawlspace of existence. And it happens that every question, when followed with enough determination, leads back to the questioner. What is the pre- condition for knowing anything? We are the attics and crawlspaces of existence, and so in the end we forced to look within, and know ourselves. There is another aspect to initiation: on one hand we have the desire to *know*, and on the other hand we have the desire to *be something else*. Initiation is also the beginning of a process of self-transformation, a process of becoming something else. Becoming what? Answers vary, but in the main, people have a vision of "myself made perfect", and if they believe in saints, they want to be saintly; if they believe in God, they want to be united with God. Some want to be more powerful, and some want to be rich, famous, and sexually attractive. Two easily observable characteristics of people looking for mystical or magical training are a lust for knowledge and a desire to be something other than what they currently are. A bizarre situation indeed; not only do they seek to know what they are and why they are, but even before they know the answers, they want to be something else. Kabbalistic initiation is a process of increasing self- knowledge, and an accompanying process of change. It is based on a practical experience of the sephiroth: if each of us is potentially a simulacrum of God, and if the creative energy of God can be described in terms of the dynamics of the ten sephiroth, then by understanding the dynamics of the sephiroth within us we begin to understand the nature of the God within, and by extrapolation, the nature of God in the absolute. The learning process (like most learning) mirrors the alchemical operation of "solve et coagula" - that is, before we can reach the next stage in knowledge and understanding ("coagula") it is necessary to break down what already exists into its component parts ("solve"). This can be observed whenever we attempt to learn a new skill; we begin in a state of unconcious competence where we can do many tasks without difficulty, but when we try a new skill we find that our old habits are a positive obstacle, and we become unconsciously incompetent - we approach a new task in an old way and make a mess of it. When we have made enough messes we either give up, or we realise the necessity of change, drop old habits as a prerequisite for acquiring new habits (solve), and become consciously incompetent. Finally, with enough practice (coagula), we return once more to a state of unconscious competence, ready to begin the cycle one more time. The process of kabbalistic initiation leading to increased self-knowledge begins with the sephiroth, and each sephira contains within it a world of "solve et coagula", a world where one may function with limited unconscious competence, but to reach a new level of understanding and competence one must go through the fire and experience the energy of the sephira deliberately and consciously. What possible advantage could there be in understanding the nature of a sephira? What "things" are there to be learned? In answer, there are no "things" to be learned. A sephira is not a particular manifestation of consciousness (e.g. pleasure), or a particular behaviour (e.g. being honest, being kind); the sephiroth underpin manifestations of consciousness, they are the earth in which behaviours (and their opposites) are rooted, and by understanding a sephira one burrows underneath the *phenomena* of consciousness and grasps an abstract state of *becoming* (emanation, or sephira) which gives rise to phenomena. This is a magical procedure; when one ceases to identify with the shopping list of qualities, beliefs and behaviours which can be mistaken for personal identity (a necessarily fixed and limited abstraction) then one touches the raw substance of becoming, and it is on the power to manipulate the "becoming" of reality that magic is based. The closer one tries to get to the energy of a sephira, the more one must abandon the artificial restrictions of personality; the mystical quest for self-knowledge and the magical quest for personal power unite in the same place. There are many ways to investigate the nature of the sephiroth, but one of the simplest and most direct is to ask the powers of the sephiroth for help. In principal all one has to do is call upon the powers of a sephira, and ask to be instructed. There are three potential problems with this procedure. The first is that it is like asking to be dropped in a wilderness; you may learn to survive, or you may not. The second possible problem is that people tend to have a natural affinity for some sephiroth and not others, and left to themselves tend to develop their knowledge in a lop-sided manner. Lastly, many people do not know how to call upon the powers - you can't ask Gabriel to help you if you don't know Gabriel, and you don't know how to contact Gabriel. But, if you knew someone who knew Gabriel.... The time-honoured method of initiation into the nature of a particular sephira is to ask someone who has had that experience to invoke to powers of the sephira on your behalf. The person chosen as initiator would use the techniques of ritual magic to invoke the powers of a sephira with the intention that you should receive instruction and insight into the nature of that sphere. It works. Metaphysical theories may be impossible to prove or disprove, supposed magical powers evaporate in the physics laboratory, but people who undergo this kind of initiation can change visibly and even claim to have learned something. One can argue about the objective reality of the Archangel Gabriel and the Powers of the sephira Yesod, but it is difficult to dispute the validity of initiation when someone changes his or her outlook on reality and actually does things differently as a consequence. I would like to clarify some possible misunderstandings. This kind of initiation is not a ceremony with a fixed and lengthy script, like the masonic-type rituals which have become so closely associated with magical initiations. The initiation ritual I am describing is a challenge; it is a one-to-one encounter between an initiatee, and an initiator who acts as agent for the invoked powers. If there is a script it is minimal; the purpose of the ritual is not to impart secrets, or impose a view of the world, but to challenge the initiatee to demonstrate a personal and individual understanding relevant to the initiation. The success of the initiation depends on the initiator's ability to invoke and channel the powers, and on the initiatee's willingness to be challenged at a deeply personal level in an atmosphere of trust. The challenge aspect of initiation is a vital part of its success; it creates a catalytic stress which can act to bring about sudden and sometimes dramatic changes in perspective. The initiation is also a challenge for the initiator; each initiatee is different and approaches the same place from a different direction. This kind of initiation is not a lightweight procedure. It is easy to abuse it. The purpose of initiation is not to select for conformity (quite the opposite), but it must be said that it is easy for an initiator to use an initiation to enhance personal power. This is a problem in esoteric systems which use an apprenticeship system and is not unique to this particular form of initiation. Self-initiation is possible and may be the only option for many people. It suffers from a number of disadvantages: - people are naturally self-important and endow their opinions, attitudes and prejudices with far more importance than another person would. Working with another person produces beneficial friction. - it is easy to make excuses to yourself which you wouldn't make to another person. Their presence is a challenge to make an effort, or do things differently. - magical work can produce dramatic changes in behaviour. An observer can provide useful feedback. - most of Kabbalah isn't "facts"; it is "ways of being", and an excellent method of learning is to let someone else demonstrate. - it is easy to reinvent the wheel when working by oneself. None of these difficulties are insurmountable. Joining an amateur dramatic group as a conscious and deliberate magical exercise should provide some of the raw input needed, and provide lots of stress, friction, and challenges to one's personal world view. It is easy to think up other examples. What is important is not to treat practical Kabbalah as something separate from normal life, but to use normal life as the stimulus to put Kabbalah into practice - this is a traditional Kabbalistic idea. If you can't do it in ordinary life, you can't do it. It is easy to mystify initiation and pretend it leads somewhere different from the "school of hard knocks". It doesn't. Ordinary life is a perfectly adequate initiator, and people do change in many ways (sometime dramatically) as they grow older. At most initiation may go further. It can and should accelerate the process of acquiring self-knowledge and (in theory at least) lead to someone who has explored their personal microcosm in a broader, deeper and more systematic way than someone who has had to suffer "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" in the patchy and random sequence that is our common lot. The Kabbalist should be able to go further in exploring and analysing the extremes of consciousness, boundless steppes in the shadowland of "not-me", where daemons of "otherness" threaten the fragile ghost of personal identity. Much of what an initiator does is to ask questions. If you want to carry out a self-initiation you will have to ask your own questions. I will use the sephiroth of Hod and Netzach as examples to show how the sephirothic correspondences can be used to ask questions. Suppose you want to identify those behaviours and attitudes in your personality which are underpinned by Hod and Netzach. Read the correspondences in Chapter 2 for Hod and Netzach and try to decide. Are you impulsive? Do you do what you want to do and ignore people who warn you of the consequences? Do you have strong passions for things, people, places. If asked why you are doing something, how do you explain yourself - do you give elaborate rationalisations, or do you say things like "I haven't any choice", or "you made me do it", or "I just want to", or "I can't explain why". Do other people tell you to stop being irrational? Do you find it hard to suppress your emotions, do you think you are transparent to others? Are you furious one minute, miserably sad the next, do your moods and feelings change on the fly? On the other hand, you might be someone who is concerned with the protocol of relationships and situations (you worry whether it is right to kiss on the first date!). You like to talk about things and have definite ideas about the right and wrong way to conduct a discussion - you refer to this as "being rational". You analyse your conduct in some detail according to a constantly developing set of rules, and you dream up hypothetical situations to test your ability to apply these rules - you don't want to make a mistake. You are skilled at handling problems with many rules, and may be adept at cheating the rules. You have a clear grasp of high-level abstractions and might work in law, medicine, finance, science, or engineering, where you can use your ability to apply rule-based knowledge. You might feel uncomfortable with a display of emotion in another person, particlarly when it cuts across your sense of protocol, and you keep a tight rein on your own emotions. Other people may find you sharp but clinical, able to communicate verbally but poor at responding to real-life situations involving emotional conflict, poor at any problem where there is insufficient information, where variables cannot be quantified, or where there is no abstract model. The first set of behaviours is appropriate to Netzach, while the second set is appropriate to Hod. Few people are purely one thing or another, and behaviours change according to circumstance - drinking alcohol tends to shift people from Hod-type behaviours to Netzach-type behaviours. A person may sustain a Hod persona at work, then go to a bar in the evening and become the complete opposite. My favourite Hod/Netzach joke concerns the (real) couple who were asked which of the two sephiroth they had the greatest affinity to. The man responded "Well, I feel I'm Hod", and the woman replied "I think I'm probably Netzach". The analysis can be taken further. Suppose you have identified a large number of Hod-type behaviours in yourself. The virtue of Hod is honesty or truthfulness, and its vice is dishonesty - the power of language to represent and communicate information about the world automatically brings with it the power to *misrepresent* what is going on. How often are you dishonest? With yourself? With others? In what situations do you sanction dishonesty? What value do you perceive in dishonesty? Are you capable of giving a purely factual account of a failed, close relationship without rationalising your own behaviour? Try it, and ask a good friend to score the attempt. I must emphasise that there is no moral intent in this dissection of personal honesty - it is an exercise designed to expose the way in which we represent events so as to make ourselves feel comfortable. The illusion of Hod is Order, and the qlippa or shell of Hod is Rigid Order. It is easy to observe during discussions and arguments how people try to defend and preserve the structure (or form) of their beliefs. Do you know anyone with an unshakeable view of the world? Does it annoy you that no matter how ingenious you are in finding counter-examples to his or her view, this person will always succeed in "fitting" your example into their world view? What about yourself? Do you collect evidence which reinforces your beliefs like someone collecting stamps? Are you conscious of trying to "fit" and "interpret" the evidence to support your beliefs? Why are your beliefs important? What is their actual *value* to you. What would happen to you if you gave them up? You can do the same thing with the sephira Netzach. The illusion of Netzach is projection, the averse face of empathy, the tendency to incorrectly attribute to others the same feelings and motives as I have. Suppose I am sexually attracted to someone; I look at this person and they smile in return. What does that smile mean to me at that instant? How many different mistakes might I have made? Suppose I say to someone "I know how you feel", and they retort angrily "No you bloody well don't!". One of the fastest ways of alienating someone is to consistently misinterpret how they feel. Are you constantly puzzled why people don't share your taste in clothes, music, literature, films, art, or decor? Do you feel that if only their eyes were opened, they might? Do you ever try to convert people to your taste? How do react when they aren't impressed? Do you make secret judgements which affect the way you treat them? Have you ever discounted someone because their taste offended yours? What *value* does your personal aesthetic have to you? What would happen if you gave it up? As you can see, this is not a procedure where anyone (barring yourself) is going to provide answers. Questions, yes; lots of questions, but no answers. Asking the right questions isn't easy; we tend to have a peculiar blindness about our own behaviour, beliefs, and attitudes, and that translates into an unconsciousness of what we are. One of the oldest jokes that children play is to stick a notice on someone's back saying "Kick Me". The poor unfortunate walks around and wonders why his acquaintances are behaving oddly - tittering, sneaking up behind, and so on. He can't see what other people can see clearly, and he hasn't the power to understand (and possibly influence) their behaviour until he does see. Suppose an "initiator" walks up and says: "Have you looked at your back recently?" "Ahhhh....!" says the victim in a sudden flash of insight. According to folk wisdom, asking questions is a dangerous business. Asking yourself questions certainly is. It hurts. It has no obvious benefit. You may find yourself hating yourself as you penetrate layers of self-deception and dishonesty only to discover a fear (or terror) of changing, and pious resolutions and commitments fall apart in the face of that fear. You take off the first skin, and then you take off the next skin, and then you take off the skin under that. Then you get stuck. You can't go any further by yourself - you haven't the courage to do it - and at the same time you can't go back to what you were. A blind and deaf man can stand happily in the middle of a busy road, but give him sight and hearing for only a second and that happiness is gone. It is at this point where it helps to have a faith in a power greater than yourself - your Holy Guardian Angel, God, the Lion, whatever. In summary, the process of kabbalistic initiation described above is based in detail on the map of consciousness provided by the Tree of Life and the correspondences. The sephiroth are explored by using ritual magic to invoke the powers of the sephiroth for the purposes of initiation. Incidents in ordinary life are interpreted as challenges or learning experiences supplied by the powers. Major steps in the process of initiation are marked by observable changes in the initiatee, and confirmed by an initiator whose role is primarily that of a catalyst. This technique of initiation has been used for at least one hundred years, but its execution has tended to be marred by a good deal of superfluous dross - elaborate ceremonials and scripts, pompous and often meaningless grades and titles, and magical systems so vastly elaborate that the would-be initiate spends more time looking at the finger than the moon. Post: 334 of 371 From: (Colin Low) Newsgroups: alt.magick Subject: Notes on Kabbalah Part 12 (long) Date: 7 Jan 92 23:54:21 GMT Organization: Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, Bristol, UK. Lines: 821 **************************************************************************** Notes on Kabbalah (a continuing series of many parts) The author grants the right to copy and distribute these Notes provided they remain unmodified and original authorship and copyright is retained. The author retains both the right and intention to modify and extend these Notes. Release 1.12 Copy date: 7th. January 1992 Copyright Colin Low 1992 ( **************************************************************************** Chapter 5: Practical Kabbalah (continued) Ritual ====== The Kabbalistic ritual technique I am about to describe is based on an assumption which may or may not be valid, but which gives the technique a characteristic style. The assumption is "form precedes manifestation"; that is, anything which manifests in this, the real, physical world, is preceded by a process of "formation", a process described in its general outline by the doctrine of sephirothic emanation and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. This premise is not so odd or metaphysical as it might seem. Every object in the room I am sitting in is a product of human manufacture. The mug I am drinking my tea out of was once clay, and its form existed in someone's mind before taking shape in fired clay. The house I live in was once an architect's design, and before that, an abstract object in a land developer's scheme for making lots of money. Every object of human manufacture originally existed as an idea or form in someone's mind, and each idea went through a process of development, from inspiration to manufacture - I have described much of this elsewhere in these Notes. It is not a large step to conceive of the whole universe as the product of mind, so that every form of substance - the physical elements, each species of plant and animal - are the result of a process of formation occuring in mind. Where are these abstract minds? They compose a whole which the Kabbalist conveniently labels "God", and the parts, if we want to refer to them seperately as subordinate components, we call "archangels", and "angels" and "spirits", and "elementals" and "devils". Each of these minds or intelligences holds a portion of the archetypal form of the world in place, and each mind is a form in its own right; each of these archetypal intelligences can be comprehended as a part of Binah, the Intelligence of God and Mother of all form. When I drop a stone, it falls to the ground. It does this because the spirit of matter inhabiting the stone uses messenger spirits (or angels) called gravitons to communicate with the spirit of matter inhabiting the Earth. It turns out that the curvature of space-time (its form) is determined by the Lords of Matter in an intricate but completely exact way according to the distribution of mass-energy - the details can be summarised in an equation first written down by Albert Einstein. It may seem absurd and retrograde (and William of Occam would certainly turn in his grave) to suggest that what we call the laws of physics are forms maintained in the minds of archetypal intelligences, but as Einstein himself stated, "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible"; that is, it can be described using language. There *are* abstract forms which describe change in the physical world, and they *can* be comprehended by mind, and although it is a large step to propose that mind takes primacy over matter, it is a view attractive to the practising magician. It is a view completely consistent with Kabbalah. When I call upon a spirit to modify the law of gravity at a specific time and place, I am not violating a physical law; I am *changing* it at its source. If "form precedes manifestation", then practical magic is about understanding how the future is formed out of the present. The seeds of many futures are planted in the present, and accessible to the magician as the forms of the future. The forms of the future are being progressed by many minds; where they overlap, there is conflict and inconsistency, a situation resembling a bus where each passenger has a steering wheel providing an unknown and variable input to the eventual direction of the bus. In one interpretation (primacy of will) the magician is the person with the most powerful steering wheel; in another interpretation (Taoist nudging) the magician is a person who understands the dynamics of steering sufficiently well to use opportune moments to move the bus in a desired direction. Perhaps both interpretations are valid. In either case, if one accepts the simile, then it should be clear that magic is rarely about certain outcomes. In both cases the magician must have a clear notion of direction, what is usually called *intention*. Formation is a process of increasing limitation or constraint. Once something is manifest it is constrained or limited by what it is at that instant. Suppose I want to make a film. It could be a film about *anything*. Once I have a script I am more limited, but have a lot of scope in directing the film - choice of actors, sets, locations etc. Once I have the rushes my choices are even more constrained, but I still have some freedom in the editing. Finally, once the film is released, I have no more freedom to change it, unless, like some directors, I choose to re-edit and re-issue it. Intention is also a limitation: it is a limitation of will. I chose to make a film, but I could have chosen to write a book instead, or chosen to take a holiday. In choosing to make a film I limited my free-will. I could of course abandon the film project, but a life of incomplete, abandoned projects is not very satisfactory to most people, so my will to complete (i.e. to bring into manifestation) sustains my intention and I have to learn to live with this fairly considerable limitation on my theoretical free-will. The limitation of will and the formation of the film go hand-in-hand. I can't just intend to make a film: I have to intend to get a script, find some money, borrow the equipment, recruit some actors and a crew. The formation of the film is driven by a fragmentation of my original intention into many components and sub-components as the task proceeds, and activity and intention feed off each other until, knee-deep in the details of film making, I might find myself thinking "I'd give anything if we could get this scene in the can and knock off for a beer." We have gone from a person with theoretically unlimited free-will to someone who cannot knock off for a beer. Most people who go to work and attempt to bring up a family are in this situation of being so limited by previous choices and past history that they have very little actual free-will or uncommitted energy, a situation which has to be understood in some detail before attempting serious magical work. To summarise: if magic is about making things *happen*, then the magician might want to understand the process of formation which precedes manifestation, and understand not only the forms which other people are *intending*, forms which may be competitive, but also the detailed relationship between formation and intention. You don't have to understand these things; many people like magic to be truely *magical* (i.e. without causality or mechanism), but Kabbalah does provide a theoretical model for magical work (the lightning flash on the Tree) which many have found to be useful. I think it is a mistake to confuse a lack of consciousness of mechanism with a lack of mechanism, just as someone might look at a clock and assume that it goes round "by magic", and so I'd like to say something more about the concept of limitation, a concept essential to understanding the ritual framework I am going to describe. We are limited beings: our lives are limited to some tens of years, our bodies are limited in their physical abilities, and compared to the different kinds of life on this planet we are clearly very specialised compared with the potential of what we could be if we had the free choice of being anything we wanted. Even as human beings we are limited, in that we are all quite distinct from each other; we limit ourselves to a small number of behaviours, attitudes and beliefs and guard that individuality and uniqueness as an inalienable right. We limit ourselves to a few skills because of the effort and talent required, and only in exceptional cases do we find people who are expert in a large number of different skills - most people are happy if they are acknowledged as being an expert in one thing. It is a fact that as the sum total of knowledge increases, so people (particularly those with technical skills) are forced to become more and more specialised. This idea of limitation and specialisation has found its way into magical ritual because of a magical (or mystical) perception that, although all consciousness in the universe is One, and that Oneness can be perceived directly, it has become limited. There is a process of limitation (formation) in which the One (God, if you like) becomes progressively structured and constrained until it reaches the level of thee and me. Magicians and mystics the world over are relatively unanimous in insisting that the normal everyday consciousness of most human beings is a severe limitation on the potential of consciousness, and it is possible, through various disciplines, to extend consciousness into new regions. From a magical point of view the personality, the ego, the continuing sense of individual "me- ness", is a magical creation, an artificial elemental or thoughtform which consumes our magical power in exchange for the kind of limitation necessary to survive, and in order to work magic it is necessary to divert energy away from this obsession with personal identity and self-importance. Now, consider the following problem: you have been imprisoned inside a large inflated plastic bag. You have been given a sledghammer and a scalpel. Which tool will get you out faster? The answer I am obviously looking for is the scalpel. The key to getting out of large, inflated, plastic bags is to apply as much force as possible to as sharp a point as possible. Magicians agree on this principle - the key to successful ritual is a "single-pointed will". A mystic may try to expand consciousness in all directions simultaneously, to encompass more and more of the One, to embrace the One, perhaps even to transcend the One, but this is hard, and most people aren't up to it in practise. Rather than expand in all directions simultaneously, it is much easier to limit an excursion of consciousness in one direction only, and the more precise and well-defined that limitation to a specific direction, the easier it is to get out of the plastic bag. Limitation of consciousness is the trick we use to cope with the complexities of life in modern society, and as long as we are forced to live under this yoke we might as well make a virtue out of a necessity, and use our carefully cultivated ability to concentrate attention on minutiae to burst out of the bag. We find the concept of limitation appearing in the process of formation which leads to manifestation; in the limitation of will which leads to intention; now I suggest that a focussed limitation of consciousness is one method to release magical energy. Limitation is the key to understanding the structure of magical ritual as described in these notes, and the key to successful practice. Essential Steps --------------- I decided against giving the details of any rituals. All the rituals I have taken a part in were written by one or more of the people present. I do not think any of the rituals would be worth preserving for their literary or poetic content. On the other hand, the majority of the rituals I have taken a part in have conformed to a basic structure which has rarely varied; this structure we called "the essential steps". There is never going to be agreement about what is essential in a ritual and what is not, any more than there will ever be agreement about what makes a good novel. That doesn't mean there is nothing worth learning. The steps I enumerate below are suggestions which were handed down to me, and a lot of insight (not mine) has gone into them; they conform to a Western magical tradition which has not changed in its essentials for thousands of years, and I hand them on to you in the same spirit as I received them. These are the essential steps: 1. Open the Circle 2. Open the Gates 3. Invocation to the Powers 4. Statement of Intention and Sacrifice 5. Main Ritual 6. Dismissal of Powers 7. Close the Gates 8. Close the Circle Step 1: Opening the Circle The Circle is the place where magical work is carried out. It might literally be circle on the ground, or it could be a church, or a stone ring, or a temple, or it might be an imagined circle inscribed in the aethyr, or it could be any spot hallowed by tradition. In some cases the Circle is created specifically for one piece of work and then closed, while in other cases (e.g. a church) the building is consecrated and all the space within the building is treated as if it was an open circle for long periods of time. I don't want to deal too much in generalities, so I will deal with the common case where a circle is created specifically for one piece of work, for a period of time typically less than one day. The place where the circle is created could be anywhere: indoors, outdoors, top of a hill, a cellar. It could be an imaginary place, the ritual carried out in a lucid dream for example. Most often a ritual will take place in a room in a house, and the first magical ability the magician develops is the ability to turn any place into a temple. I like to prepare a room with some kind of cleaning, and clear enough floor space for a real or visualised circle. I secure the room against access as far as possible, take the phone off the hook etc. The Circle is the first important magical limit: it creates a small area within which the magical work takes place. The magician tries to control everything which takes place within the Circle (limitation), and so a circle half-a-mile across is impractical. The Circle marks the boundary between the rest of the world (going on its way as normal), and a magical space where things are most definitely not going on as normal (otherwise there wouldn't be any point in carrying out a ritual in the first place). There is a dislocation: the region inside the circle is separated from the rest of space and is free to go its own way. There are some types of magical work where it may not be sensible to have a circle (e.g. working with the natural elements in the world at large) but unless you are working with a power already present in the environment in its normal state, it is best to work within a circle. The Circle may be a mark on the ground, or something more intangible still; my own preference is an imagined line of blue fire drawn in the air. It is in the nature of consciousness that anything taken as real and treated as real will eventually be accepted as Real - and if you want to start an argument, state that money doesn't exist and isn't Real. From a ritual point of view the Circle is a real boundary, and if its usefulness is to be maintained it should be treated with the same respect as an electrified fence. Pets, children and casual onlookers should be kept out of it. Whatever procedures take place within the Circle should only take place within the Circle and in no other place, and conversely, your normal life should not intrude on the Circle unless it is part of your intention that it should. From a symbolic point of view, the Circle marks a new "circle of normality", a circle different from your usual "circle of normality", making it possible to keep the two "regions of consciousness" distinct and separate. The magician leaves everyday life behind when the Circle is opened, and returns to it when the Circle is closed, and for the duration adopts a discipline of thought and deed which is specific to the type of magical work being undertaken; this procedure is not so different from that in many kinds of laboratory where scientists work with hazardous materials. Opening a Circle usually involves drawing a circle in the air or on the ground, accompanied by an invocation to guardian spirits, or the elemental powers of the four quarters, or the four watchtowers, or the archangels, or whatever. The well known Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram [2] can be used as the basis for a Kabbalistic circle-opening. The precise method isn't so important as practicing it until you can do it in your sleep, and it should be carried out with the same attitude as a soldier on formal guard duty outside a public building. The kind of ritual I am describing is formal; much of its effectiveness derives from a clinical precision. For example, I never at anytime turn or move in an anti-clockwise direction within the circle. When I work in a group one of the most important officers is the sword- bearing sentinel, responsible for procedure and discipline within the circle. When you create a circle you are establishing a perimeter under the watchful "eyes" of whatever guardians you have requested to keep an eye on things, and a martial attitude and sense of discipline and precision creates the right psychological mood. When working in a group it is helpful if the person opening the circle announces "the circle is now open" because there should be no doubt among those present about whether the opening has been completed to the satisfaction of the person carrying it out, and the sacred space has been established. Step 2: Opening the Gates The Gates in question are the boundary between normal and magical consciousness. Just as opening the Circle limits the ritual in space, so opening the Gates limits the ritual in time. Not everyone opens the Gates as a separate activity; opening a Circle can be considered a de-facto opening of Gates, but there are good reasons for keeping the two activities separate. Firstly, it is convenient to be able to open a Circle without going into magical consciousness; despite what I said about not bringing normal consciousness into the Circle, rules are made to be broken, and there are times when something unpleasant and unwanted intrudes on normal consciousness, and a Circle can be used to keep it out - think of pulling blankets over your head at night. Secondly, opening the Gates as a separate activity means they can be tailored to the specific type of magical consciousness you are trying to enter. Thirdly, just as bank vaults and ICBMs have two keys, so it is prudent to make the entry into magical consciousness something you are not likely to do on a whim, and the more distinct steps there are, the more conscious effort is required. Lastly - and it is an important point - opening the Circle is best done with a martial attitude, and it is useful to have a breathing space to switch out of that mood and into the mood needed for the invocation. Opening the Gates provides an opportunity to make that switch. There are many ways to open the Gates, and many Gates you could open. I imagine the gates in front of me, and I physically open them, reaching out with both arms. I visualise different gates for different sephiroth, and sometimes different gates for the same sephira. Step 3: Invocation to the Powers The invocation to the Powers is normally an excuse for some of the most leaden, pompous, grandiose and turgid prose ever written or recited. Tutorial books on magic are full of this stuff. If you are invoking Saturn during a waxing moon you might be justified in going on like Brezhnev addressing the Praesidium of the Soviet Communist Party, but as in every other aspect of magic, the trick isn't what you do, but how you do it, and interminable invocations aren't the answer. On a practical level, reading a lengthy invocation from a sheet of paper in dim candlelight will require so much conscious effort that it is hard to "let go", so try to keep things simple and to the point, so that you can do an invocation without having to think about it too much, and that will leave room for the more important "consciousness changing" aspect of the invocation. When I do sephirothic work I use the sephirothic God, Archangel, Angel Order and sephira names as part of my invocation, and put all my effort into the intonation of the name rather than memorising lengthy invocations. An invocation is like a ticket for a train: if you can't find the train there isn't much point in having the ticket. Opening the Gates gets you to the doorstep of magical consciousness, but it is the invocation which gets you onto the train and propels you to the right place, and that isn't something which "just happens" unless you have a natural aptitude for the aspect of consciousness you are invoking. It does happen that way however; people tend to begin their magical work with those areas of consciousness where they feel most at home, so they may well have some initial success. Violent, evil people do violent and evil conjurations; loving people invoke love - most people begin their magical work with "a free ticket", but in general invoking takes practice, and the power of the invocation comes from practice, not from deathless prose. I can't give a prescription for entering magical consciousness. Well devised rituals, practised often, have a way of shifting consciousness which is surprising and unexpected. I don't know why this happens; it just does. I suspect the peculiar character of ritual, the way it involves every sense, occupies mind and body at the same time, its numinous and exotic symbolism, the intensity of preparation and execution, involve dormant parts of the mind, or at least engage the normal parts in an unusual way. Using ritual to cause marked shifts in consciousness is not difficult; getting the results you want, and avoiding unexpected and undesired side-effects is harder. Ritual is not a rational procedure. The symbolism of magic is intuitive and bubbles out of a very deep well; the whole process of ritual effectively bypasses the rational mind, so expecting the outcome of a ritual to obey the dictates of reason is completely irrational. The image of a horse is appropriate: anyone can get on the back of a wild mustang, but getting to the point where horse and rider go in the same direction at the same time takes practice. The process of limitation described in these notes can't influence the natural waywardness of the animal, but at least it is a method of ensuring the horse gets a clear message. Step 4: Statement of Intention and Sacrifice If magical ritual is not to be regarded as a form of bizarre entertainment carried out for its own sake, then there has to be a reason for doing it - healing, divination, personal development, initiation, and the like. If it is healing, then it is usually healing for one specific person, and then again, it is not just healing in general, but healing for some specific complaint, within some period of time. The statement of intention is the culmination of a process of limitation which begins when the Circle is opened, and to return to the analogy of the plastic bag, the statement of intention is like the blade on the scalpel - the more precise the intention, the more the energy of the ritual is applied to a single point. The observation that rituals work better if their energy is focussed by intention is in accord with our experience in everyday life: any change, no matter how small or insignificant, tends to meet with opposition. If you want to change the brand of coffee in the coffee machine, or if you want to rearrange the furniture in the office, someone will object. If you want to drive a new road through the countryside, local people will object. If you want to raise taxes, everyone objects. The more people you involve in a change, the more opposition you will encounter, and in magic the same principle holds, because from a magical point of view the whole fabric of the universe is held in place by an act of collective intention involving everything from God downwards. When you perform a ritual you are setting yourself up against that collective will to keep most things the way they are, and your ritual will succeed only if certain things are true: 1. you are a being of awesome will (you have the biggest steering wheel on the bus). 2. you have allies (lots of people on the bus want to get to the same place as you). 3. you limit your intention to minimise opposition (Taoist nudging); another analogy is the diamond cutter who exploits natural lines of cleavage to split a diamond. Regardless of which is the case, I will suggest that precision and clarity of intention will generally produce better results. And so to sacrifice. The problem arises from the perception that in magic you don't get something for nothing, and if you want to bring about change through magic you have to pay for it in some way. So far so good. The question is: what can you give in return? You can't legitimately sacrifice anything which is not yours to give, and so the answer to the question "what can I sacrifice" lies in the answer to the question "what am I, and what have I got to give?". If you don't make the mistake of identifying yourself with your possessions you will see that the only sacrifice you can make is yourself, because that is all you have to give. Every ritual intention requires that you sacrifice some part of yourself, and if you don't make the sacrifice willingly then either the ritual will fail, or the price will be exacted without your consent. You don't have to donate pints of blood or your kidneys. Each person has a certain amount of what I will call "life energy" at their disposal - Casteneda calls it "personal power" - and you can sacrifice some of that energy to power the ritual. What that means in ordinary down-to-earth terms is that you promise to do something in return for your intention, and you link the sacrifice to the intention in such a way that the sacrifice focuses energy along the direction of your intention. For example, my cat was ill and hadn't eaten for three weeks, so, as a last resort, fearing she would die of starvation, I carried out a ritual to restore her appetite, and as a sacrifice I ate nothing for 24 hours. I used my (very real) hunger to drive the intention, and she began eating the following day. Any sacrifice which hurts enough engages a very deep impulse inside us to make the hurt go away, and the magician can use that impulse to bring about magical change by linking the removal of the pain to the accomplishment of the intention. And I don't mean magical masochism. We are creatures of habit who find comfort and security by living our lives in a particular way, and any change to that habit and routine will cause some discomfort and an opposing desire to return to the original state, and that desire can be used. Just as a ritual intends to change the world in some way, so a sacrifice forces us to change ourselves in some way, and that liberates magical energy. If you want to heal someone, don't just do a ritual and leave it at that; become involved in caring for them in some way, and that active caring will act as a channel for the healing power you have invoked. If you want to use magic to help someone out of a mess, provide them with active, material help as well; conversely, if you can't be bothered to provide material help, your ritual will be infected with that same inertia and apathy - "true will, will out", and in many cases our true will is to do nothing at all. From a magical perspective each one of us is a magical being with a vast potential of power, but that is denied to us by an innate, fanatical, and unbelievably deep-rooted desire to keep the world in a regular orbit serving our own needs. Self- sacrifice disturbs this equilibrium and lets out some of that energy, and this may be why the egoless devotion and self- sacrifice of saints has a reputation for working miracles. Step 5: The Main Ritual After invoking the Powers and having stated the intention and sacrifice, there would seem to be nothing more to do, but most people like to prolong the contact with the Powers to carry out some kind of symbolic ritual for a period of time varying from minutes to days. Ritual as I have described it so far may seem like a fairly cut-and-dried exercise, but it isn't; it is more of an art than a science, and once the Circle and Gates are opened, and the Powers are in attendance, whatever science there is gives way to the art. Magicians operate in a world where ordinary things have deep symbolic meanings or correspondences, and they use a selection of consecrated implements or "power objects" in their work. The magician can use this palette of symbols in a ritual to paint of picture which signifies an intention in a non- verbal, non-rational way, and it is this ability to communicate an intention through every sense of the body, through every level of the mind, which gives ritual its power. Here are a few suggestions: - each sephira has a corresponding number which can be used as the basis for knocks, gestures, chimes, stamps etc. - each sephira has a corresponding colour which can be used throughout the working area: altar cloth, candle(s), banners, flowers, cords etc. - many occult suppliers make sephirothic incenses. The quality is so variable that it is best to try a few suppliers and apply common sense. - each sephira has corresponding behaviours which can be used during the central part of the ritual. - if you are working with several people then they can take their roles from the sephira, and wear corresponding colours etc. For example, a sentinel would use Gevuric correspondences, a scribe would use Hod correspondences. - each sephira has ritual weapons or "power objects" which can be used in a symbolic way. - every sephira has a wide range of individual correspondences which can be used on specific occasions e.g. a ritual of romantic love in Netzach might use a rose incense, roses, a copper love cup, wine, a poem or song dedicated to Venus, whatever gets you going... Step 6: Dismissal of Powers Once the ritual is complete the Powers are thanked and dismissed. This begins the withdrawal of consciousness back to its pre-ritual state. Step 7: Close Gates/Close Circle The final steps are closing the Gates (thus sealing off the altered state of consciousness) and closing the Circle (thus returning to the everyday world). The Circle should not be closed if there is a suspicion that the withdrawal from the altered state has not been completed. It is sensible to carry out a sanity check between closing the Gates and closing the Circle. It sometimes happens that although the magician goes through the steps of closing down, the attention is not engaged, and the magician remains in the altered state. This is not a good idea. The energy of that state will continue to manifest in every intention of everyday life, and all sorts of unplanned (and often unusual) things will start to happen. A related problem (and it is not rare) is that every magician will find sooner or later an altered state which compensates for some of their perceived inadequacies (in the way that some people like to get drunk at parties), and they will not want to let go of it because it makes them feel good, so they come out of the ritual in an altered state without realising they have failed to close down correctly. This is sometimes called obsession, and it is a difficulty of magical work. Closing down correctly is important if you don't want to end up like a badly cracked pot. If you don't feel happy that the Powers have been completely dismissed and the Gates closed correctly, go back and repeat the steps again. Using the Sephiroth in Ritual ----------------------------- The sephiroth can be invoked during a ritual singly or in combination. This provides a vast palette of correspondences and symbols to work with, and one of the most difficult aspects of planning this kind of ritual is deciding which sephiroth are the key to the problem. It is an axiom of Kabbalistic magic that every sephira is involved somewhere in every problem, and it is sometimes difficult to avoid the conclusion that all ten sephiroth should be invoked; there is nothing wrong with doing this, but if one goes the whole hog with colours, candles etc., then the temple begins to look like an explosion in a paint factory, and this tends to dilute the focus of rituals if done regularly. A ritual would involve typically one to three sephiroth. An important consideration is balance: when invoking sephiroth on either of the side pillars of the Tree one is creating or correcting in imbalance, and it is worthwhile to consider the balancing sephira. For example, when using Gevurah destructively, what fills the vacuum left behind? When using Chesed creatively, what gives way for the new? The same principle applies to the pairs of Hod/Netzach and Binah/Chokmah. The Tree is naturally arranged in many triads, or groups of three sephiroth, and after one has gained an understanding of individual sephira it is natural to go on to investigate the triads. From the point of view of balance there is a great deal to be said for initiation into triads of sephiroth rather than individual sephira. The sephiroth are interconnected by paths, and again, the paths can be investigated by invoking pairs of sephiroth. This further extends the palette of correspondences and relationships, and over time the Tree becomes a living tool which can be used to analyse situations in great depth and detail. Unless one works closely with a group of people over a period of time the Tree must remain largely a personal symbol and vocabulary, but if one *does* work closely with other people it becomes a shared vocabulary of great expressive and executive power - ideas which would otherwise be inexpressible can be translated directly and fairly precisely into shared action via ritual magic. Clues as to when to invoke a given sephira can found in the correspondences, but for the sake of example I have given an indication in a list below: The sephira Malkuth is useful for the following magical work: - where you want to increase the stability of a situation. Particularly useful when everything is in a turmoil and you want to slow things down. - when you want to earth unwanted or unwelcome energy. Also useful for shielding and warding (think of a castle). - when working with the four elements in the physical world. - when you want an intention to materialise in the physical world; when it is essential that an intention "really happens". e.g. it is one thing to write a book, it is another thing to get it printed, published, and read. - when invoking Gaia, Mother Earth. The sephira Yesod is useful for the following magical work: - for divination and scrying; to increase psychism - telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition. - when changing the appearance of something, for works of transformation, for shape changing (e.g. marketing and advertising!) - when trying to manipulate the foundation of something, the form behind the appearance. - for works concerning the sexual urge, the sexual organs, fornication, instinctive behaviours, atavism. - for intentions involving images of reality - painting, photographs, cinema, television etc. - for lucid dreaming, astral projection. The sephira Hod is useful for the following magical work: - for healing and medicine (Raphael is the healer of God). - when dealing with spoken or written communication. - the media, particularly newspapers and radio. - propaganda, lying, misinformation. - teaching and learning. - philosophy, metaphysics, the sciences as intellectual systems divorced from experiment. - computers and information technology. - the nervous system. - protocol, ceremony and ritual. - the written law, accounting. The sephira Netzach is useful for the following magical work: - when working with the emotions. - the endocrine system. - when nurturing or caring for someone or something. Charity and unselfishness, empathy. - for works involving pleasure, luxury, romantic love, friendships etc. (e.g. parties). - anything to do with aesthetics and taste: decor, art, cinema, dress, fashion, literature, drama, poetry, gardens, song, dance etc. The sephira Tiphereth is useful for the following magical work: - work involving integrity, wholeness and balance. - work involving the Self (the Jungian archetype), self- importance, self-sacrifice, devotion, compassion. - overall health and well-being. - communion with your Holy Guardian Angel. - the union of the microcosm and the macrocosm. The sephira Gevurah is useful for the following magical work: - active defense. - destruction. - severance. - justice and lawful retribution. The sephira Chesed is useful for the following magical work: - growth and expansion. - vision, leadership and authority (e.g. in business management, in politics). - inspiration and creativity. The sephiroth Gevurah and Chesed are best considered as a pair, since any work concerning one usually requires consideration of the other. For example, if you want something to grow and expand (Chesed), will it grow at the expense of something else (Gevurah)? The supernal sephiroth of Binah, Chokmah and Kether can be invoked, but I would not recommend doing so until you have considerable experience of invoking the other sephiroth - either nothing will happen, or the scope of the results may go beyond your intention. Other Practical Work -------------------- The sephirothic ritual technique described can be used to design an enormous variety of rituals quickly and easily, as the basic format can remain the same. A ritual involving Yesod should have an utterly different feel and effect from a ritual involving Tiphereth, and yet the basic construction of the two rituals can be identical. Because a ritual can be quickly carried out (not necessarily easily, but certainly quickly), sephirothic ritual can be used to add clout to other magical and mystical techniques, such as meditation, divination, scrying, oath-making, prayer, concentration and visualisation, mediumship and so on. In Conclusion ------------- I wanted to provide in these notes approximately the same information as I was given when I began to study Kabbalah. The person who gave me this information said "You don't need to read lots of books, just go off and do it." It was sound advice. If you want to learn how to build bridges, read books about building bridges, but if you want to learn about yourself, just go off and do it. "Doing It" consists of invoking the sephiroth and asking to be instructed. It consists of jumping in with both feet when something new comes along. It involves trusting your intuition and conscience. It requires you to question everything. It also requires countless meditations, concentration and visualisation exercises, self-examination, rituals, dream-recording, prayer, whatever you want, but there is no prescription for this, and each person tends to find their own happy medium. As a chronic reader I found the advice about not reading books on magic and Kabbalah hard to take, but I took it, and for something like ten years I lost the habit completely. I'm very glad I did. There is almost enough information in these notes to go off and "just do it". The information I have withheld I have done so deliberately, as it consists of little things which any person with a small amount of common sense, initiative and trust in themselves can work out. You don't need to learn other peoples' rituals: trust your own imagination and creativity, however insufficient they might seem, and write your own. You need to trust yourself, and that is why I haven't provided a detailed prescription. If you think Kabbalah should be more complicated, then make it more complicated. If you think it is essential to learn about the four worlds, or the parts of the soul, or the beard of Arik Anpin or whatever, then learn about them, but I don't think it is essential to begin with, and there are better and quicker ways of learning than running off and buying the "Zohar". If you trust in yourself, you will learn what you need to know at the rate at which you can learn it. Kabbalah is only a map (but for the record I believe it is an accurate and useful map), and the entrance to the territory lies within you. In my experience the sephirothic magical rituals are the key to everything else. If you are afraid of ritual that is fine; lots of people are. If you are afraid of ritual but you invoke the Powers with the attitude and respect that is their due, and you are not afraid to give freely for what you get, then you will get a great deal, and almost certainly a great deal more than you would have expected. Colin Low 1992 [1] Epstein, Perle, "Kabbalah", Shambhala, 1978 [2] Regardie, Israel, "The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic", Falcon Press, 1984


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