Tag Archives: Qabalah

Z’ev Ben Shimon Halevi

The “Great Tree.”

To London on Saturday to attend a talk on the Qabalah by Z’ev Ben Shimon Halevi (which is the Hebrew name of an English gentleman named Warren Kenton). Interestingly enough it was being held at Dion Fortune’s place in Chalk Farm, London. We were even privileged to use Dion Fortune’s own temple room, though I understand this was only because it was a special occasion – the Society of the Inner Light’s Director of Studies told me they don’t usually let hoi polloi in there as it is “consecrated ground.”Anyway: Z’ev, who has mixed Sephardic and Ashkenazic ancestry, teaches what he calls the “Toledano tradition” of the Kabbalah, which is a particular form of the Sephardic school which derives from mediaeval Toledo in Spain. Z’ev said that he was first moved to study the Kabbalah after having lived in Toledo in a past-life. From what I can make out, the Toledano tradition is fairly similar to the conventional Kabbalah though with a few peculiarities such as their focus on the “Great Tree,” which appears to be a concatenation of the regular Tree of Life in the four worlds of Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah (see picture).

I picked up the following tid-bits from Z’ev’s presentation:

  • Despite the Kabbalah being the mystical tradition of the Hebrews, its inner meaning is a Perennial tradition which has been known to different cultures at different times, even those unconnected with one another: e.g. China, Tibet, Babylon, etc. This is even shown in iconography from these regions which all purport to show variants of the Tree of Life.
  • The story of Noah’s Ark is metaphorical: the real Ark was in fact knowledge of the Kabbalah itself, whilst the various animals that were saved were particular aspects of that knowledge, which Noah managed to preserve for posterity. In that respect the Great Tree (left) was the blue-print for the Ark described in Genesis. (Alex thinks: Hmm, I wonder if the Royal Ark Mariners have ever considered this?)
  • Z’ev takes a curiously wary view of Angels. He used the metaphor of a corporation: God is the boss of the company; Man is the boss’ son; whilst the Angels are the boss’ employees. Thus whilst it is entirely possible that if one were to approach God directly, He would instruct one of His Angels to help: but an Angel would not necessarily be helpful if it were approached directly. In fact, according to Z’ev, an Angel might be downright troublesome. Z’ev took the view that if one asked an Angel to help, one might end up “paying with one’s soul.” At first this makes it seem that Angels are hardly any different from Goetic spirits: although by viewing angels this way it might explain why e.g. Enochian angels are often reported to be troublesome when invoked.
  • Z’ev believes in the existence of spirit guides – Maggidim – but avers that they are they are human spirits, rather than “Holy Guardian Angels” (this is probably connected with the dim view that he takes on Angels generally – see above). Z’ev himself claims that he is guided by the spirit of a Kabbalist who lived in the 11th century. He also believes that everyone has within their psyche an “Inner-Teacher” which is equivalent to Daath. From the way he described it, the Inner Teacher seemed to be equivalent to Freud’s notion of the Super-Ego.
  • Apparently, in every age at any one time there is an “Alpha-Qabalist” (Aleph-Qabalist?) living, who is like a Secret Chief, world teacher or Qabalistic version of the Messiah. The identity of this Alpha-Qabalist is always secret: he or she always keeps him-or-her-self to him-or-her-self. Z’ev was far too modest to hint in anything other than the mildest terms that it was himself! 😉

After lunch, Z’ev led those assembled on a Qabalistic pathworking exercise. From the ease with which he interpreted peoples vision-experiences I very much suspected that he had done this kind of thing many times in the past, and consequently knew every type of symbolism that commonly cropped up!

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How to Be an Ascended Master

Then he took them out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. Now as he blessed them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven. They worshipped him and then went back to Jerusalem full of joy; and they were continually in the temple praising God.

Luke 24: 50 – 51.

Looking at the Sophistry the MBW crowd come up with about “Ascension” (nb: MBW = Mind Body Wallet). Apparently this Ascension-lark involves bowing down and worshipping a list of so-called “Ascended Masters.” Yes, such a patriarchal term is still used even though some of them are female: the term “Ascended Mistress” has yet to gain currency I suppose because of the double-entendre.

Anyway: there was me thinking – “What a jolly wheeze it would be if, instead of worshipping an Ascended Master, it was possible to become one instead! Can such a thing be done?” At least according to some schools of Occult thought, the answer is Yes. So, for the benefit of poor benighted humankind, and to the consternation of New Age money-makers everywhere, I present Alex’ Guide to Becoming an Ascended Master.

Qabalah

The Bible itself says very little about Ascension, save for the fact that it is alleged to have happened on three occasions: Enoch, Elijah, and Jesus. Enoch’s ascension is dealt with in one verse of Genesis:

Enoch walked with God. Then he vanished because God took him.

Genesis 5:24.

Jesus’ own experience is recorded in three places: the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles.

The most revealing account though is what happened to the prophet Elijah.

Now as they walked on, talking as they went, a chariot of fire appeared and horses of fire, coming between the two of them; and Elijah went up to heaven in the whirlwind.

2 Kings 2:11 (emphasis added).

Now the word “Chariot” (Hebrew: Merkavah) is the clue to what is really going on here: this word was later adopted by proto-Qabalists to denote a species of Mystical ritual. What we now know as Merkavah Mysticism was formulated in the first centuries of the Common Era, although the Hebrew Mystics who did so were aspiring to rediscover the ancient mysteries primarily which enabled the prophet Ezekiel to obtain his visions. I contend that the association with “works of the Chariot” may be extended to Elijah as well.

Hence: Elijah ended his days on Earth whilst engaged in mystical ritual. It should be noted that in the Yoga Tradition it is claimed that great Yogis do much the same thing, where it is called Mahasamadhi, that is – to consciously leave the body whilst in a state of perfected meditation. However, if this is what happened to Elijah though then clearly his heavenly-translation is actually only a metaphor: although his soul would have left his body in a state of perfect meditation, his body itself would be left behind – his Ascension would be akin to an actual death, though no less remarkable in its own way.

Gnosticism

The Gnostics also perceived that Ascension is a matter of undertaking certain mystical rituals, and therefore contrived to speculate what form these rituals might take. One of the finest pieces of Gnostic literature deals directly with this: the Pistis Sophia. In essence this is an account of secret teachings that Jesus gave to the Apostles after the resurrection. The post-resurrection period is stated as lasting some eleven years, not the forty days as is commonly believed in the exoteric Church.

At the end of Jesus’ post resurrection ministry, he Ascended into Heaven … then returned a short-while later to teach the Apostles how He did it.

In order to understand the basic method, one should first be aware of the Gnostic conception of the cosmos. The world of matter is supposedly removed from the Supreme ultimate Divinity: in between are the realms of lesser spiritual beings (“Archons”) who act as barriers or obstacles to Man becoming truly spiritually free, keeping him imprisoned in the physical world. These Archons range from being deliberately evil to morally-neutral, depending on which school of Gnosticism one subscribes to, although one gets the feeling that Gnostic writers tended to gild the lily somewhat when describing how terrible the Archons are in order to emphasise their importance.

According to the Pistis Sophia, Ascension is the method whereby Jesus was able to transcend the world of matter, rise up past and through the barriers administered by the Archons, and commune with the supreme ultimate divinity (referred to in the text as “the First Mystery”) in “Heaven.” NB: in communing with the First Mystery, Jesus becomes One therewith, so that at times he talks of the works of First Mystery in the First Person. The whole implication of the Pistis Sophia being that Gnostic initiates following in Jesus’ footsteps would be able to accomplish the same.

The actual method of the Pistis Sophia is centred on acquiring an ascension-vehicle known as the “Vesture of Light” which, when the initiate is wrapped therein, causes all who see it to perceive only Light itself, not the initiate. The Vesture of Light is imagined as a cloak on which are written the Words of Power which are the key to compelling the Archons to let the initiate pass upwards: ZAMA ZAMA OZZA RACHAMA OZAI.

How is the “Vesture of Light” acquired? The Pistis Sophia is open to interpretation on this point. Jesus acquired His “Vesture of Light” from the First Mystery Itself, although this is a rather circular conception when one considers that in Ascending, Jesus identifies as the First Mystery. In the opinion of G R S Mead, the Pistis Sophia was not meant to be a publicly circulated document, but reserved for initiates. If so, we can infer that there may have been further oral teaching given to Gnostic initiates which was never written down. As to what this oral teaching might be, several modern commentators have reached their own conclusions, as will be noted below.

“Mithraism”

Mead, a keen scholar of Gnosticism and related subjects, was also the first English writer to translate a key ritual of Mithraism which again deals with Ascension – which he describes as the “innermost rite of the carefully guarded secrets of the Mithriaca.”

NB: it is called a Mithraic Liturgy, but this may be misleading. There is no internal evidence in the text to suggest it has to do with Mithras at all! All that is known for certain is that the papyrus in which it is contained dates from the fourth century AD, was written in Greek and derives from Egypt (the timing makes it contemporaneous with the decline of the cult of Mithras).

The ritual itself consists of a certain number of invocations and utterations to be made whilst astrally-projecting into the Higher Realms. The basic idea of memorising a long and complex ritual to be performed in the astral is not too dissimilar to the practice of Merkavah, although the rituals differ in the details. Of modern magicians Julius Evola published a version of this ritual, implying that it may have been practised by his “Ur Group.”

Alchemy

Being the world’s greatest Ipsissimus, it has come to my attention that there is a group doing the rounds claiming to have made contact with the secret chiefs of the so-called third-order. On investigating, it quickly became obvious (i.e. obvious to someone who has the total consciousness of the universe, in other words, not obvious at all) to what they are referring.

The said Group appear to be practising a form of Gnostic ascension à la Pistis Sophia (see above). However they have come up with a radical method of attaining the “Vesture of Light,” by a means of a certain method of what may quaintly be termed “internal alchemy” – or less quaintly – Sex Magick.

I have reason to believe that the group of so-called “secret chiefs” is in fact a genuine organisation (i.e. in the sense that it exists), however: certain public details about it have been deliberately obscured. It is not, for instance, as one rumour goes around the interwebby-thing, the third-order of the Golden Dawn at all, but a highly elite and exclusive group that draw their members from high-degree Memphis-Misraim initiates.

The time, date and place of their meetings, as well as who attends them, are obviously strictly confidential, though the “secrets” are not particularly so: there is nothing there that cannot be gained from cribbing from the works of Kenneth Grant, for example.

I shall say no more on this matter, as I do not wish criticisms against me to “snowball.” 😉

Conclusion

So as you can appreciate, for the practising Occultist, “Ascension” is a goal which may be attained (allegedly) through advanced mystical and theurgic practices. Needless to say, the Qabalistic, Gnostic and (pseudo)-Mithraic methods stop short of the full deal, as in each case the initiate returns to Earth afterwards – at least in the examples that we know about. It is thus a form of shamanic journeying, albeit to the higher as opposed to lower worlds.

It is important to bear in mind at this stage a distinction between the Right and Left Hand Paths when it comes to the matter of Ascension. The aspiration of the Right-hand path practitioner is to undergo an Ascension experience in order to attain the Beatific Vision whilst living, not necessarily to permanently translate to the higher realms. After all, there is a far simpler way to do that, and that is by simply dying.

The practitioner of the Left-Hand Path is in a different position. Whereas one on the RHP automatically assumes that his or her soul is immortal and will survive death anyway, the LHP practitioner has no such guarantee. Thus, the LHP practitioner can be recognised by an obsession with Ascension not to gain the mystical benefits to derive therefrom, but as a means to cheat Death itself.

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Talismans: A Consumer’s Guide

The contentious amulet.

News today in the Daily Telegraph that a magazine advert for an amulet has been banned by the Advertising Standards Agency, because the firm behind it could not prove that angels will protect those who wear it. However, speaking from the point of view of a ceremonial magician, I believe the judgement of the ASA is missing the point. The advert should have been banned not because of lack of proof of angelic protection, but because it is badly designed from an occult point of view.

It is made by a company called the Circle of Raphael, and is described on its website as “The Talisman of the Seven Angels(sic – it would be too much for the Daily Telegraph to know the difference between a Talisman and an Amulet). It is incredibly small – 16mm diameter (10/16” in Imperial) and made of silver, and apparently retails for £19 ($30). In the description of the piece there is a certain amount of advertising bumph about “blanket of angelic protection … fantastic results …” etc. Then, however, they get to the details. In attempting to explain the symbols (which are actually letters of the Hebrew Alphabet), they say

Outer Circle contains divine holy words in the form of the eternal name of the Creator as communicated to Moses on Mount Horeb.

Unfortunately there is a little spelling mistake – it says “Eheieh Ashah Eheieh” when it should be “Eheieh Asher Eheieh” – “I Am Who I Am.” In Hebrew the letters Resh and Heh are similar enough for the mistake to be easily made, but it begs the question – do these people really know the Qabalah? And why would they want to charge good money for something with an obvious flaw? The blurb goes on:

The Inner Circle contains the individual Cabbalistic sacred names of each of the seven angels, and inscribed in the very centre the divine life changing word of life itself.

It then proceeds to list the seven planetary Archangels, with fairly traditional attributions (Tzaphqiel is misspelt as Zaphael, but this is a minor quibble). However, when we turn to the picture of the Talisman, the full names of all the Angels are conspicuously absent – there is instead a ring of just seven Hebrew letters surrounding a central eighth. However – trying to give the manufacturers the benefit of the doubt – perhaps they intended just to put the initials of the seven angels? After all, the thing is only 16mm across. Unfortunately though they fail in this as well. Had they been intending this, they should have put:

Planet Saturn Jupiter Mars Sol Venus Mercury Luna
Angel Tzaphqiel
(Zaphkiel)
Tzadqiel
(Zadkiel)
Chamael Michael Haniel Raphael Gabriel
Hebrew Letter Tzaddi Tzaddi Cheth Mem Heh Resh Gimel

What we have instead however is Shin, Peh (sophith), Resh, Heh, Heh, Beth, and Peh (sophith) again. One of the Hehs might actually be a badly done Cheth (but equally it looks just as much like a Tau), but even so we are talking about a three out of seven rate of accuracy.

The presence of the letter Kaph in the centre attempts to defy my powers of reasoning as to why it should be the “Divine Life Changing word of Life” (sic). To give the makers of the talisman even more benefit of the doubt I suppose they might want to attract Jovial influences on the wearer through Kaph’s association with that planet. If however I were asked what the tautologistic Word should be, I would have thought it would be the Tetragrammaton itself, or possibly Ameth (Truth), or even just Chai, which simply means “Life,” which I have seen used in traditional Jewish jewellery designs.

So to summarise: Advertising Standards Agency! When faced with someone selling occult items in the future, come to me, and I will tell you if they are up to standard or not. I undertake to ensure that only people who know their Qabalah will pass my rigorous quality standards! 😉

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Aliens & Magick

The Vatican apparently is now interested in astrobiology, i.e. life among the stars. This has set many tongues wagging, with commentators pointing out that if life does exist on other planets, this would go against a literal interpretation of the Bible. I do not think this will be too much of a problem, as the Catholic Church has not let its magisterium be constrained by something so inconvenient as actually reading the source text up to now.

However – never mind about what happens with regards to Christianity when life on other planets is confirmed: more importantly, how will this affect the Qabalah?

A Tree of Life Crop Circle which has been photoshopped by some teenager *cough* I mean created by an alien who knows about Athanasius Kircher.

The Tree of Life
I have heard some people argue that the Qabalah is in fact a universal principle, given that there have been instances on earth of Crop Circles in the form of the Tree of Life. (Strange how our alien brethren approve of the Kircher version of the Tree of Life, as opposed to, say, the Lurianic version!) Now the Sepher Yetzirah makes great mention of the fact that the Qabalah is based on the number ten, not nine, ten, not eleven. But… what kind of Qabalah would an alien with a different number of fingers to us humans have come up with?

Now some people, still pointing to the crop circles as proof, have tried to argue that the number ten is a universal principle which has nothing to do with the number of fingers that we have. However: the evidence is in Sepher Yetzirah that the magic number ten is indeed associated with our fingers, as Qabalistic attributions are given thereto: moreover, it attaches importance to being able to form letters of the Hebrew alphabet with ones fingers. This incidentally is how Leonard Nimoy devised the Vulcan Salute. It is actually the sign a Cohen makes as he is giving the valedictory blessing in a synagogue (it actually represents the letter Shin).

Most authorities are of the opinion that we use a decimal system as opposed to any other simply because we have ten fingers – because they are our first counting tools. I therefore say this. If aliens have a version of the Qabalah and the Tree of Life, it will be based not on Ten sephiroth, but on whatever number-base they happen to use – i.e. which is most likely to be the number of fingers they have, if indeed they have fingers.

Astrology
The most popular forms of Astrology present on Earth are by their very nature Geocentric. The constellations are the way that the stars appear from Earth, and the belt of the Zodiac is defined by the route which the Sun – our Sun – takes through the heavens.

However, if Aliens had their own version of Astrology, firstly it would not be Geocentric; secondly it would be based on a completely different Sun and set of planets; and thirdly there would be no correlation to our constellations whatsoever, as their own would appear to be completely different. The only feature of our astrology which might feature in their version would be the fact that our Sun might be visible from their own solar system. This is significant because the development of Astrology on our own planet has been governed by attaching importance to that which is most visible (the Sun, the Moon), and then defining the rest of the system in relation to that. It is therefore reasonable to assume that Alien Astrologers would only attach importance to the objects which are most noticeable from their own home planet(s), which could mean that if our Sun is in what is to them a relatively obscure part of their sky, it may not enter into their consideration at all.

This is somewhat by the by, though, as I predict that Earth Astrology is soon going to be refuted according to its own logic. This has nothing to do with astronomy purporting to have refuted it already. I shall explain: Earth Astrology relies on a given birth / event / etc having a time, date and place somewhere on the planet’s surface, because the key to the Horoscope is the Ascendant, the sign which is on the horizon at the time for which the chart is drawn.

However, the higher one is above the ground, the more fluid the concept of the horizon becomes, until when one has left the Earth altogether, it ceases to have any meaning. Thus – at some point in the future, there is going to be a human being born in outer space, and when that happens, it will be impossible to draw up a horoscope for that person. Therefore I say that at that point conventional astrology will have to be abolished, because there will be at least one person alive to whom it cannot apply.

There is such a thing as Heliocentric astrology, although because of the peculiarities of the heliocentric system it is not suitable for dealing with the kind of issues for which geocentric astrology is currently used. However, even Heliocentric astrology is going to be refuted when the first human being is born outside our solar system. Which brings me back to Alien Astrology – if aliens do exist in other solar systems, then we cannot apply our astrology to them.

The Age of Aquarius
Finally, I shall just like to briefly mention this: the whole idea of cosmic ages is another geocentric notion which is going to go the same way as geocentric astrology. Now, as noted above, I predict that astrology is going to be refuted when at least one human being is born in outer space. Reason suggests that this is going to be sometime in the next hundred or two hundred years. The Age of Aquarius is due to begin in the next hundred or two hundred years – at approximately the same time that the whole concept of the Age of Aquarius will be refuted according to the logic of Astrology. Irony of ironies! Were I a superstitious man I would be inclined to say that the birth of the first human in space will be the actual event that signifies the Age of Aquarius. In any case the challenge of the next great aeon will be to move away from a human-centric, ego-centric, notion of mysticism and to evolve a more cosmological outlook.

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