C A B A L A
This is a simple discourse on some of the major facets of the Cabala.
It is also spelled as Kabbalah and Qabalah.
O R I G I N S
Kabbalah: From the Hebrew word QBL meaning 'an oral tradition', the
esoteric and mystical division of Judaism. The Kabbalah presents a
symbolic explanation of the origin of the universe, the relationship
of human beings to the Godhead, and an emanationist approach to
creation whereby the Infinite Light (AIN SOPH AUR) manifests
through different SEPHIROTH on the TREE OF LIFE. Although the central
book of the Kabbalah, the ZOHAR, was not written down until around
1280 -- probably by MOSES de LEON -- the Kabbalah has spiritual links
with GNOSTICISM and other early mystical cosmologies.
In the Kabbalah, all manifestations are said to have their origin
in the AIN SOPH AUR and the successive emanations of the Godhead reveal
aspects of his divine nature. The system is thus monotheistic in
essence, but allows for the tenfold structure of the sephiroth
upon the tree of life. The emanations as they proceed down from the
Godhead to the manifested world, are:
KETHER (The Crown);CHOKMAH(Wisdom); BINAH(Understanding);CHESED(Mercy)
GEBURAH(Power);TIPHARETH(Beauty & Harmony);NETZACH(Victory);
Occultists in the HERMETIC ORDER OF THE GOLDEN DAWN use the Kabbalistic
Tree of Life as a matrix or Grid for comparing the Archetypal images of
different mythologies that could be adapted to Ceremonial Magic.
For example, the merciful father (Chesed) has parallels in other
pantheons, namely ODIN (Scandinavia); ZEUS(Greece);JUPITER(Rome);
and RA(Egypt). This system of comparison became known as
MYTHOLOGICAL CORRESPONDENCES. It has become common in the occult
tradition to link the ten sephiroth of the Tree of Life with the
22 cards of the MAJOR ARCANA of the TAROT.
D E F I N I T I O N S
QBL: Hebrew word meaning 'from mouth to ear', thereby signifying a
secret oral tradition. It is the meaning of Kabbalah.
Ain Soph Aur: Hebrew expression meaning 'the limitless light'.
Sephiroth: The ten speres or emanations on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life,
a symbol which depicts the divine energy of creation
proceeding like a lighting flash through ten different stages,
culminating in physical manifestation. The sephiroth represent
levels of spiritual reality both in the cosmos and in people
because the Tree, metaphorically, is the 'Body of God', and
people are created in his image. The Tree is sometimes shown
superimposed on the body of ADAM KADMON --the archetypal man.
Tree of Life:The Tree consists of Ten spheres, or sephiroth, through
which according to mystical tradition--the creation of the
world came about. The sephiroth are aligned in three
columns headed by the SUPERNALS (KETHER, CHOKMAH, BINAH)
and together symbolize the process by which the infinite
light (Ain Soph Aur) becomes manifest in the universe.
Beneath the Supernals are the 'Seven days of Creation':
Taken as a whole, the tree of life is also a symbol of the
archetypal man -- ADAM KADMON, and the sephiroth have a
role resembling that of the CHAKRAS in YOGA. The mystical
path of self knowledge entails the rediscovery of all the
levels of ones being, ranging from Malkuth (physical reality)
to the infinite source. With this in mind, the medieval
Kabbalists divided the Tree of Life into three sections of the
soul: NEPHESCH (the animal soul) corresponding to the
sephiroth YESOD: RUACH (the middle soul), corresponding to the
sephiroth from HOD to CHESED: and NESCHAMAH ( the spiritual
soul) corresponding to the Supernals --especially BINAH.
Practitioners of WESTERN MAGIC, who use the Tree of Life
as a glyph for the unconscious mind, sometimes distinguish
the MAGICAL PATH (which embraces all ten sephiroth) from
the MYSTICAL PATH of the MIDDLE PILLAR, which is an ascent
from MALKUTH through YESOD and TIPHARETH to KETHER on the
central pillar of the Tree.
Zohar: 'The Book of Splendor'--the principal book of the Kabbalah. It is
thought to have been written by Moses de Leon and was first
circulated around 1280-1290, in Guadalajara. It included
commentaries on the TORAH.
Gnosticism: Gnosis is a Greek term for 'knowledge'. The term applies to
(Gnosis) certain religous sects that emerged during the early formative
years of early Christianity, and which belived in
'Hidden Spiritual Knowledge'. The main factor that
differentiated them from Chritianity was their emphasis on
knowledge rather than faith.
The Christian churche fathers considered the Gnostics
Heretical, or Heretics.
Kether:The first Emanation on the Tree of Life. Occultists indentify
Kether as the state of consciousness where creaton merges with
the veils of nonexistance. Kether lies on the MIDDLE PILLAR and
trancends the duality of CHOKMAH (male) and BINAH (female), which
lie immediately below on the Tree. It is therefore symbolized
in mystical tradition by the heavenly ANDROGYNE (male and female
united in one), and represents a state of mystical Transcendence
and union with the Supreme. It is compared to SATORI and NIRVANA.
Chokmah:The second emanation on the Tree of Life, following Kether.
Occultists identify Chokmah with the Great Father, the giver of
the seminal spark of life which is potent only until it enters
the womb of the Great Mother, Binah. From the union of the
Great Father and Great Mother come forth all the images of
creation. Chokmah is associated with such deities as KRONOS,
SATURN, THOTH, ATUM-RA,and PTAH, in other pantheons.
Binah: The third emanation on the Tree of Life. Occultists identify
Binah with the Great Mother in all her forms. She is the womb
of forthcoming, the source of all the great images and forms
that manifest in the universe as archetypes. She is also the
Supreme female principal in the process of Creation and, via
the process mythological correspondences, is associated with
such deities as The VIRGIN MARY, RHEA, ISIS, and DEMETER.
Chesed: The fourth emanation on the Tree of Life. Occultists
identify Chesed as the ruler (but not Creator) of the manifested
universe; and he is characterised as stable, wise, and
merciful by contrast with his more dynamic opposite, GEBURAH.
Chesed is asscociated with Gods ZEUS (Greek), and JUPITER(Roman).
Geburah:The fifth emanation on the Tree of Life. Geburah is often
associated with MARS, the Roman God of War, and represents
severity and Justice. The destructive forces of the sphere of
Geburah are intended to have a purging, cleansing effect on the
universe. Geburah represents the Creator God, who applies
discipline and presicion in governing the cosmos and removes
unwanted or unnecessary elements after their usefullness has
passed. Geburah is reflected in THE CHARIOTEER in the TAROT.
Tiphareth:The sixth emanation on the Tree of Life.It is the sphere of
beauty, harmonizing the forces of mercy(Chesed) and Judgement
(Geburah), higher on the Tree. Occultists identify Tiphareth
as the sphere of spiritual REBIRTH, and ascribe to it the
Solar Deities such as RA,APOLLO, and MITHRA as well as OSIRIS
and JESUS CHRIST. The TAROT card TEMPERANCE identifies the
direct mystical ascent to Tipareth from Malkuth(the physical).
Netzach:The seventh emanation on the Tree of Life. Netzach is regarded as
the sphere of creativity, subjectivity, and the emotions -- a very
clear contrast to the sphere of HOD, which represents intellect
and rational thought. Netzach is the sphere of Love, and spiritual
passion and is therefore associated with such deities as
APHRODITE, VENUS, HATHOR, and others that personify these qualities.
Hod:The eighth emanation on the Tree of Life. Hod is associated with the
planet Mercury and represents intellect and rational thought. It also
represents the structuring and measuring capacities of the mind as
opposed to the emotion and intuitional aspects of Netzach. Hod has
no exact parallel in the TAROT, but is closely linked to the card
JUDGEMENT, ascribed to the path between Hod and Malkuth.
Yesod:The ninth emanation on the Tree of Life. Yesod is associated with
the Moon and the element Water. Regarded as a Female sphere, it is
the seat of sexual instinct and corresponds to the Genitals Chakra
on the archetypal man, ADAM KADMON. On the Tree of Life Yesod has
the function of channelling the energies of the higher down to the
earth below(Malkuth). Occultists associate Yesod with the
ASTRAL PLANE, because if the sephiroth above Malkuth are regarded
as a map of the unconscious psyche, Yesod is the most accesible
area of the mind. Because Yesod is the sphere of Fertility and
Lunar imagery, it is identified with Witchcraft and Goddess Worship.
It also the so called 'animal soul' know by kabbalists as
Malkuth:The tenth emanation of the Tree of Life. Malkuth is associated
with the Goddesses of the Earth especially PERSEPHONE(Greece),
PROSERPINA(Rome), and GEB(Egypt). Malkuth is the domain of the
manifested universe, the immediate enviroment, the plane of
physical reality. As a consequence, all 'inner journeys of
consciousness' begin symbolically in Malkuth; it is particularly
appropriate, for example, that the myth of the rape of PERSEPHONE
confirms her both as queen of the UNDERWORLD and as a Lunar
Goddess. From an occult point of view, the Underworld equates
with the Lower unconscious mind, and the Moon, represented by the
sphere of Yesod, is the first Sephirah reached on the inner
mystic journey up the Tree of Life. Malkuth is closely linked
with the TAROT card THE WORLD.