A Golem is said to be an artificial helper, given life through various magical enchantments so that it acts like a sort of automaton. There are several accounts in the form of hearsay evidence that such beings were created in real-life, although it now appears that the most famous one – the Golem of Prague – was almost certainly a literary invention of the early 19th century.
But what of the others? By gathering the various bits of lore together, we can make the following generalisations:
“… even if they do say ‘Jehovah.’”
First of all, creating a Golem is not something anyone can do. Regarding the Golem of Chelm, alleged to have been created by Rabbi Eliyahu, one source stated:
“And I have heard, in a certain and explicit way, from several respectable persons that one man [living] close to our time, whose name is R. Eliyahu, the master of the name, who made a creature out of matter…”
In other words, Eliyahu was not just any rabbi but a Baal Shem Tov (“Master of the Holy Name”), i.e. someone who had been initiated into the Unwritten Qabalah – the true pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton.
Coming from a Hermetic Qabalistic background, I wonder whereabouts the genuine Unwritten Qabalah figures in the process of initiation. I am led to the conclusion that, given that the Unwritten Qabalah – the true pronunciation of YHVH – is the highest secret of the Qabalah, it can be reserved to no other place than the highest grade of the system. Hence a true Baal Shem Tov is what we would consider an Ipsissimus.
Even if Eliyahu’s status as a Baal Shem is a coincidence, the creation of a Golem would nevertheless still require a high degree of mastery of the magical formulae implicate in the Tetragrammaton, as I shall explain infra.
Feet (and everything else, for that matter) of Clay
The Golem is said to be created from the dust of the Earth, or more specifically “clay,” just like Adam, the first man. Likewise, the Golem when destroyed returns to dust – either when de-activated by its creator, or when confronted by a Rabbi with superior Qabalistic skills. The Golem of Prague, for example, was said to have been created from the clay of the local river.
This, however, is a blind. In Hebrew, the word for “clay” is itself Adamah – from the root Adam meaning “man” (hence the name of the first man). Hence, to say that the Golem is created “from clay” is a Qabalistic cipher – the true material out of which it is formed comes from within Man himself.
In a dreadful episode of the otherwise classic X Files, a Jewish character tries to explain to Mulder how the Sepher Yetzirah is a spell-book containing the secret to creating a Golem. What is ironic is that not only should the Jewish character have known better, but so should Mulder – who, according to the show’s canon, had previously been the author of a thesis entitled Serial Killers and the Occult.
What is in the Sepher Yetzirah though is a description of how the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet each relate to the human body. This is how the story about the Sepher Yetzirah containing the instructions to create a Golem arose. If (potential sorcerers reasoned) God formed the human body with the aid of the twenty-two letters, might it also not be possible to create an artificial body in much the same way? That is to say, by working Qabalistically with each of the letters, thus creating the Golem by means of a twenty-two-fold enchantment.
Here we begin to see the real (i.e. initiated) meaning of the Golem story. It is not simply a story about a magical automaton, but was a blind for a technique of Qabalistic Magic involving the twenty two letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. Indeed, several eminent occultists have explored this theme in the past couple of hundred years.
Martinez De Pasqually
Martinez De Pasqually (1727 – 1774), founder of the Elus Cohens, prescribed a ritual for initiates of his order: every year, starting on Easter Sunday, they would over the course of twenty two successive days perform an invocation of each of the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. The details of the ritual were published by the late Robert Ambelain (1907 – 1997) in his book The Practical Kabbalah, which was then translated into English by a certain Piers Vaughan who published it on the internet. Unfortunately Ambelain’s French publishers took amiss at this and forced Vaughan to withdraw his translations – although not before a great many people, myself included, had safely downloaded them. 😉
Ambelain’s commentary on this ritual is however very superficial. As to the reason for actually performing the ritual at all, he says without elaboration that it is to obtain “kabbalistic super-powers.” It only takes a little more analysis, however, to see some of the deeper potentiality. The rite begins on Easter Sunday – the day of the Resurrection, and hence a day representing re-birth and new life. It focuses on the twenty-two letters, which as we know from the Sepher Yetzirah are attributed to the formation of (amongst other things) Man. Thus the whole ritual can be seen to be a personal rite of creating a new spiritual life for oneself. In this light the Golem thus formed is not a clay monster bought to life; it is a new, spiritually re-generated version of the Initiate himself.
Bardon (1909 – 1958), described a system of associating letters, their magical or spiritual properties, and the parts of the body in his book The Key to the True Kabbalah. Bardon uses the German alphabet, rather than the Hebrew one, although there seems to be a phonetic correlation between the German letters and their equivalents from the Graa version of the Sepher Yetzirah.
Viewed in the light of what I have discussed regarding the Golem, one can argue that Bardon’s system is not merely to enable the magician to perform various thaumaturgic feats through a sophisticated method of letter pronunciation – but ultimately to re-create or transform the magician himself.
The Rainbow Body
Bardon’s method is notable in that colour-association is used for each letter. Thus if one were to take this to its logical conclusion, if one were to visualise oneself with all parts coloured according to the respective letter, one would end up with a veritable “rainbow body.” A method of how this might be visualised using more Golden Dawn attributions is described in an article I wrote for the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition in 2005 entitled “Healing In The Hermetic Tradition.”
By coincidence – though not necessarily by much – the term “Rainbow Body” refers, in Tibetan, to the ultimate attainment in the Dzogchen Tradition. By taking the esoteric practices known as Thodgal to their ultimate conclusion, it is said to be possible to self-liberate into a non-material Body of Light – which event is also said to be accompanied by the appearance of rainbow-like phenomena, even to an observer. Thus, the Rainbow Body is effectively a vehicle for attaining immortality.
Lindsay Seers: Nowhere Less Now
© Lindsay Seers 2012
I have decided that the Universe is a giant work of Art. The identity of the Artist, however, defies easy definition. Even the phrase “identity of the Artist” is problematic in regards to the language in which it is expressed, for at least three reasons, viz: “Artist” is in the singular, whereas it ought to be in the plural. Or then again it ought not. Secondly: “identity” is presented as something which can be spoken of with certainty. But identity with what? Identification of a particular soul with a particular body with a particular name at a particular point in the space and time continuum? A soul which transmigrates, a body which contains and is connected with every other thing in the Giant Cosmic Hologram, a name which can be changed easily by deed-poll or just by adopting a different email address? And don’t get me started on wibbly wobbly timey-wimey stuff!
So there I was in Kilburn, at the Tin Tabernacle in Cambridge Avenue to see the art installation “Nowhere Less Now” by Lindsay Seers. Immediately, though, I am asking myself: at what point did I first step into the “Art?” The nature of Conceptual Art is of course that the thought-form in the Treasure House of Images constitutes the real art, whilst its manifestation on the plane of Malkuth merely represents a later- (though not necessarily end-) result of the Evocation. It quickly became apparent that everything about the event was to some extent the manifestation to visible appearance of this original idea. Moreover – like a magician not revealing how the trick is done until after it is performed, the full subtleties were only revealed after the fact – woe betide anyone there who was not immediately alert to the small details from at least the moment that they entered the door!
However there was another twist ending – in the complementary book I was given on leaving the building. The book went into more detail about the event, so of course the Art did not end when I left the Tin Tabernacle: it continued whilst I was reading and appreciating the contents of the book. So in a certain sense it does not end! You, who are reading this blog post now, or whenever, are effectively in a small way discovering one particular end- (later-) result of the artistic process, which effectively makes me an unwitting actor in the Universe of which Ms Seers is the great architect.
Moina Mathers, née Bergson
But what, I hallucinate that I hear you ask, is the event actually about? Or perhaps, I’m not hallucinating – the voices are real people from the past / present / future / alternative realities / etc. Very generally speaking: a remarkable series of coincidences, which might better be described as Synchronicities, but might best of all be described by an as-yet-uncoined word which is free from the reductionist implications of Jung’s notions of the collective unconscious. Ms Seers explores these “widgets” in a completely unique manner, not dissimilar to a Magician or Shaman conjuring up spirits from the past / present / future / alternative / etc – and then presents the results of these magical explorations in an environment purposely designed for the task. Ms Seers, a self-confessed admirer of a certain Mina Bergson, does not however limit herself to the conventions of the Golden Dawn when performing her magick but instead takes a more pragmatic (from her point of view) approach to performing ritual. Thus to communicate with the spirits of dead ancestors she in effect shapeshifts to become them – one of whom apparently was an initiate in one of the very first Masonic orders for women. To contact possible future incarnations of a certain Individuality she performs an impromptu ceremony, and starts receiving “intuitions” from one such Person… The event thus becomes a Visionary Non-fiction dialogue across the Vortex, with the linear nature of time, person, identity, and cause & effect artfully blurred.
I shall end this review, at least in the current time-stream, with the following anecdote.
Saturday 22nd October 2011. A day I noted in my magical diary as starting with an interesting Lucid Dream in which I was rising on the planes and becoming the Chief Adept of a Rosicrucian order, and continuing with me experimenting with Manifestation. I seem to recall that I wanted to Manifest meeting new and interesting people that day, or some such.
Certain people claim that Cats are the Illuminati because of their innate superiority. I on the other hand claim that the Illuminati are Cats – because it is so difficult to herd them. At times like these, therefore, there is only one thing a hard-working Magician can do, and that is to tie up my sorrows in a bag along with a heavy-brick and drown them in the nearest pint of beer. But not today! The trains that day being considerably further up the creek than usual, I had to leave the pub early, otherwise I would never get home.
So there I was, on a train I would not normally be taking, and I looked round and saw the lady next to me was reading S L Macgregor Mathers’ edition of the Key of Solomon. I therefore decided to break the first and second rules of commuting by train and introduce myself as Alex Sumner, the World’s Greatest Expert On The Occult. (NB: not talking to people on the tube is the first rule; the second rule is that if you do have to talk to people, don’t go round introducing yourself as Alex Sumner). “I have a particular interest in the work of Macgregor Mathers,” I explained later. “And I am putting together an installation featuring people with heterochromatic eyes,” this mysterious lady replied. “And I just noticed that your eyes are heterochromatic!”
Given that the Art occurs when the Concept is formed, I suppose in a small way I had actually become an actor in the process a year in advance of most people, defying the laws of space and time in the process – which I’ve got to admit made the event in Kilburn feel all the more special. Of course – it could just have been Coincidence. 😉
“Nowhere Less Now” runs until 21st October 2012. Recommended.
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Tagged as Art, Artangel, Lindsay Seers, Mina Bergson, Moina Mathers, occult