KABBALAH comprises a body of instruction / cultivation whose roots stem from the ancient Chaldeans and Egyptians - and most likely even predates them. The word comes from the four Hebrew letters Q, B, L and H meaning "reception" or "doctrines inherited through tradition".
Kabbalah's purpose is to bequeath wisdom but this school of thought has always been shrouded in mystery (made even more formidable and perplexing on purpose by some intellectuals - to daunt and perhaps dishearten the disingenuous / frivolous seeker). In fact there are not enough hours in a lifetime to peruse all the literature on this subject matter, especially since there is so much disagreement. Add to this the fact that there are also various specialized subdivisions of scholarship which tend to concentrate on specific elements and keynotes of the system and which thereby preclude the sum total.
Kabbalah is an outline, a recipe, a guide which directs us toward the genesis / matrix of universal law and a comprehension of the Cosmos / Creation.
Kabbalah - F.A.Q.
The following material provided courtesy of Colin Low
( email@example.com )
1. What is Kabbalah?
Kabbalah is an aspect of Jewish mysticism. It consists of a large body of speculation on the nature of divinity, the creation, the origin and fate of the soul, and the role of human beings. It consists also of meditative, devotional, mystical and magical practices which were taught only to a select few and for this reason Kabbalah is regarded as an esoteric offshoot of Judaism. Some aspects of Kabbalah have been studied and used by non-Jews for several hundred years - see What is Hermetic Kabbalah.
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2. What does the word "Kabbalah" mean, and how should I spell it?
The word "Kabbalah" is derived from the root "to receive, to accept", and in many cases is used synonymously with "tradition". No-one with the slightest interest in Kabbalah can fail to notice that there are many alternative spellings of the word, the two most common being Kabbalah and Qabalah. Cabala, Qaballah, Qabala, Kaballah (and so on) are also seen. The reason for this is that some letters in the Hebrew alphabet have more than one representation in the English alphabet, and the same Hebrew letter can be written either as K or Q (or sometimes even C). Some authors choose one spelling, and some choose the other. Some (the author for example) will even mix Q and K in the same document, spelling Kabbalah and Qlippoth (as opposed to Qabalah and Klippoth!). A random selection of modern Hebrew phrase books and dictionaries use the K variant to represent the letter Kuf, so anyone who claims that the "correct" spelling is "Qabalah" is on uncertain ground.
There has been a tendency for non-Jewish books on Kabbalah published this century to use the spelling "Qabalah". Jewish publications are relatively uniform in preferring the spelling "Kabbalah".
The author takes the view (based on experience) that the spelling "Kabbalah" is recognised by a wider selection of people than the "Qabalah" variant, and for this purely pragmatic reason it is used throughout the FAQ.
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3. What is the "Tradition"?
According to Jewish tradition, the Torah (Torah - "Law" - the first five books of the Old Testament) was created prior to the world and she advised God on such weighty matters as the creation of human kind. When Moses received the written law from God, tradition has it that he also received the oral law, which was not written down, but passed from generation to generation. At times the oral law has been referred to as "Kabbalah" - the oral tradition.
The Torah was (and is) believed to be divine, and in the same way as the Torah was accompanied by an oral tradition, so there grew up a secret oral tradition which claimed to possess an initiated understanding of the Torah, its hidden meanings, and the divine power concealed within it. This is a principle root of the Kabbalistic tradition, a belief in the divinity of the Torah, and a belief that by studying this text one can unlock the secrets of the creation.
Another aspect of Jewish religion which influenced Kabbalah was the Biblical phenomenon of prophecy. The prophet was an individual chosen by God as a mouthpiece, and there was the implication that God, far from being a transcendental abstraction, was a being whom one could approach (albeit with enormous difficulty, risk, fear and trembling). Some Kabbalists believed that they were the inheritors of practical techniques handed down from the time of the Biblical prophets, and it is not impossible or improbable that this was in fact the case.
These two threads, one derived from the study of the Torah, the other derived from practical attempts to approach God, form the roots from which the Kabbalistic tradition developed.
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4. How old is Kabbalah?
No-one knows. The earliest documents which are generally acknowledged as being Kabbalistic come from the 1st. Century C.E., but there is a suspicion that the Biblical phenomenon of prophecy may have been grounded in a much older oral tradition which was a precursor to the earliest recognisable forms of Kabbalah. Some believe the tradition goes back as far as Melchizedek. There are moderately plausible arguments that Pythagoras received his learning from Hebrew sources. There is a substantial literature of Jewish mysticism dating from the period 100AD - 1000AD which is not strictly Kabbalistic in the modern sense, but which was available as source material to medieval Kabbalists.
On the basis of a detailed examination of texts, and a study of the development of a specialist vocabulary and a distinct body of ideas, Scholem has concluded that the origins of Kabbalah can be traced to 12th. century Provence. The origin of the word "Kabbalah" as a label for a tradition which is definitely recognisable as Kabbalah is attributed to Isaac the Blind (c. 1160-1236 C.E.), who is also credited with being the originator of the idea of sephirothic emanation.
Prior to this (and after) a wide variety of terms were used for those who studied the tradition: "masters of mystery", "men of belief", "masters of knowledge", "those who know", "those who know grace", "children of faith", "children of the king's palace", "those who know wisdom", "those who reap the field", "those who have entered and left".
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5. Do I need to be Jewish to study Kabbalah?
Some aspects of traditional Kabbalah are so deeply intertwined with Jewish religious beliefs and practice that they are meaningless outside of this content. Other aspects of Kabbalah (what I refer to below as Hermetic Kabbalah) have been studied and practiced outside of Judaism for so long that they have a distinct identity in their own right, and no, you do not have to be Jewish to study them, any more than you need to be English to study the Law of Gravitation.
However, if you choose to study Kabbalah by name you should recognise that Kabbalah was and is a part of Judaism, and an important part of the history of Jewish people, and respect the beliefs which not only gave rise to Kabbalah, but which are still an essential part of Jewish faith.
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6. Is there an Obstacle to a Woman studying Kabbalah?
Within Judaism the answer is a resounding "Yes!": there are many obstacles. Perle Epstein relates some of her feelings on the subject in her book on Kabbalah (see the Reading List below).
The obstacles are largely grounded in traditional attitudes: it is less easy for a woman to find a Rabbi prepared to teach Kabbalah than it would be for a man. Persistence may reward (see below).
Outside of Judaism the answer is a resounding "No!": there are no obstacles. For the past one hundred years women have been active both in studying and in teaching Kabbalah.
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7. I've heard that one shouldn't study Kabbalah unless one is over forty years old? Is this true?
The great Kabbalist R. Isaac Luria (1534-1572), began the study of Kabbalah at the age of seventeen and died at the age of thirty-eight! His equally famous contemporary R. Moses Cordovero (1522-1570) began at the age of twenty. Many other famous Kabbalists also began the study early.
This prohibition has come from Ashkenazic (East European) Jews and has never applied to Sepharidic (Middle Eastern) Jews. The historical basis for the "rule" comes from opponents of Kabbalah within Judaism who (successfully) attempted to restrict its study. At the root of this was the heresy of false messiah Shabbatai Tzevi (17th. C) which resulted in large numbers of Jews leaving the orthodox fold. This heresy had deep Kabbalistic underpinnings, and in the attempt to stamp out Shabbateanism, Kabbalah itself became suspect, and specific prohibitions against the study of Kabbalah were enacted (e.g. the excommunication of the Frankists in Poland in 1756).
A further factor was the degeneration (in the eyes of their rationalist opponents) of 18th. century Hasidism, which had roots both in Kabbalah and Shabbateanism, into "wonder working" and superstition. The rationalist faction in Judaism triumphed, and the study of Kabbalah became largely discredited, to the extent that many Jewish publications written earlier in this century discuss Kabbalah (if at all) in a very negative way.
Greg Burton has supplied this (mildly amusing) post from America OnLine, from a Rabbi Ariel Bar-Zadok:
" One thing I assure you, I am not a "new ager", nor am I sympathetic to anything that is not pure, authoritative Kabbalah. Remember, Kabbalah means "to receive". I am an Orthodox Sephardic Rabbi, ordained in Jerusalem. I teach only from the true texts, many of which most Rabbis for whatever reasons have never read. I document all my sources so as to verify to you that these teachings are authentic. (I must also admit that I have studied other religious and meditative systems, in this way I feel comfortable and confident to discuss them). My classes are open to all, Jew and Benei Noah alike, men and women, (in accordance to Tana D'vei Eliyahu, Eliyahu Raba, Chapter 9). By the way, according to the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabi Ovadiah Yosef (Yehaveh Da'at 4,47) quoting Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, one only has to be 20 years old to study Kabbala, and not 40. THIS IS THE HALAKHA!!"
This still leaves R.Isaac Luria looking embarrassed, but R. Moses Cordevero scrapes in under the bar ;-)
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8. Do I need to learn Hebrew to study Kabbalah?
A Jewish Kabbalist would maintain that it is impossible to study Kabbalah without knowing Hebrew. Most Hermetic Kabbalists learn some Hebrew, but there are many practical exercises and ritual techniques which can be employed with only a minimal knowledge of Hebrew.
There is no question that a knowledge of Hebrew can make a very large difference. Non-Jewish texts on Kabbalah abound in simple mistakes which are due largely to uninformed copying. Thousands of important Kabbalistic texts have not been translated out of Hebrew or Aramaic, and the number of important source texts in translation is small. The difficulties in trying to read the archaic and technically complex literature of Kabbalah should not be discounted, but it is well worthwhile to acquire even a superficial knowledge of Hebrew. Four useful books are:
Levy, Harold, "Hebrew for All", Valentine, Mitchell 1976
Harrison R.K. "Teach yourself Biblical Hebrew", NTC Publishing Group 1993
Kelley, P.H., "Biblical Hebrew, an introductory grammar", Eerdmans 1992
Brown, F, "The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon", Hendrickson 1979
Many Kabbalists view the Torah as the word of God and Hebrew as the language of creation. In this view the alphabet and language are divine and have immense magical power. Many of the source texts of Kabbalah are commentaries on the Bible, and derive their insights using a variety of devices, such as puns, anagrams, gematria (letter manipulations) and cross references to the same word in different contexts. The reader is presumed to be adept at playing this game, which becomes completely inaccessible in translation.
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9. What is Hermetic Kabbalah?
Many people who study Kabbalah are not Jewish. This has been happening for 500 years or so. It is difficult to know what to call this variant of Kabbalah. "Non-Jewish" is inaccurate, as I have personally known several Jews who opted for Hermetic Kabbalah in preference to the traditional variety! At one time it was called "Christian" Kabbalah, but this is also very misleading.
The origin of this variant can be placed in Renaissance Italy in the last decade of the 15th. century. It was an amazing decade. In 1492 Christopher Columbus set sail for America. In that same year the King of Spain expelled all Jews from Spain on pain of death, bringing to an end centuries of Jewish culture in Spain, and causing a huge migration of dispossessed Jews through Europe, many of whom were welcomed by the Turkish sultan, who is reputed to have observed that the King of Spain had enriched Turkey by beggaring his own country.
At around the same time, at the court of the great banking family of the Medicis in Florence, Marcelio Ficino had established the Platonic Academy under the patronage of the Medicis and was translating the works of Plato. A bundle of manuscripts, lost for centuries and dating back to the 1st. and 2nd. centuries A.D. was discovered; this was the Corpus Hermeticum, a series of documents relatingto Hermes Trimegistus, identical with the Egyptian god Thoth, god of wisdom. Cosimo de Medici told Ficino to stop translating Plato and to concentrate on the Corpus instead.
At the time it was believed that the Corpus really was the religion of the ancient Egyptians, and that Hermes was a kind of Egyptian Moses. The fact that they were written much later, and heavily influenced by Neoplatonism, had the effect of convincing readers at that time that Greek philosophy was founded on much older, Egyptian religious philosophy - this had a huge influence on liberal religious and philosophical thinking at the time. Into this environment came the Kabbalah, brought in part by fleeing Spanish Jews, and it was seized upon as another lost tradition, the inner, initiated key to the Bible.
Two figures stand out. One was Giovanni Pico, Count of Mirandola, who commissioned several translations of Kabbalistic works, and did much to publicise Kabbalah among the intellectuals of the day. The other was Johannes Reuchlin, who learned to read Hebrew and became deeply immersed in Kabbalistic literature. It must be said that Jews were suspicious of this activity, finding that Christian scholars were using the Kabbalah as a bludgeon to persuade them to convert to Christianity.
It was out of this eclectic mixture of Christianity, Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, Kabbalah and Renaissance humanism that Hermetic Kabbalah was born. Over the centuries it has developed in many directions, with strong influences from Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism, but continued input from Jewish Kabbalah has meant that many variants are not so different in spirit from the original. Its greatest strength continues to be a strong element of religious humanism - it does not attempt to define God and does not define what an individual should believe, but it does assume that some level of direct experience of God is possible and there are practical methods for achieving this. In a modern world of compartmentalised knowledge, scientific materialism, and widespread cultural and historical illiteracy, it provides a bridge between the spirit of enquiry of the Renaissance (the homo universalis or - in Hebrew - hakham kolel) and the emergence of a similar spirit of enquiry in our own time.
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10. Is Hermetic Kabbalah really Kabbalah?
On the basis of my own beliefs and practice I would say yes, but others might contradict me, and ultimately it is a matter of definition.
Jewish writers on the subject tend to downplay aspects of Kabbalah which conflict with orthodox rabbinical Judaism, so that we do not see the heretic Nathan of Gaza classed as an important Kabbalist, despite the fact that he was very influential for almost two hundred years. We hear little about the non-rabbinic "Baal Shem" or "Masters of the Name" who used Kabbalah for healing and other practical purposes. There is ample evidence that many magical practices currently associated with Hermetic Kabbalah were widely used and well understood by some of the most famous rabbinic Kabbalists.
It is the author's opinion that Hermetic Kabbalah has preserved up to the current day many practical techniques, and R. Aryeh Kaplan makes the following significant comment:
"It is significant to note that a number of techniques alluded to in these fragments also appear to have been preserved among the non-Jewish school of magic in Europe. The relationship between the practical Kabbalah and these magical schools would constitute an interesting area of study."
A more difficult question is whether Hermetic Kabbalah conforms to the spirit of Jewish Kabbalah. One of the most visible distinctions is that between theurgy and thaumaturgy, between the attempt to participate in the workings of the divine realm for the betterment of the creation, and the attempt to interfere with its workings for personal betterment. Modern Kabbalah outside of Judaism appears in many guises, and is often associated or combined with ceremonial or ritual. It may be mixed with a wide range of theosophical traditions. This does not in itself set it apart from historical Kabbalah. Ritual has always been an integral part of Kabbalah, and Kabbalah has absorbed from cultures and traditions all over Europe and the Middle East. Even the distinction between theurgy and thaumaturgy may be meaningless, as similar techniques can be used for both - only by examining intention could one begin to judge which was which.
Given the lack of a dogmatic tradition in Kabbalah it is not clear that the question about the legitimacy of Hermetic Kabbalah is meaningful. Even within Judaism it is unclear what the authentic spirit or tradition is - there are large differences in outlook between someone like Abraham Abulafia and Isaac Luria.
There is no good answer. One person will be reassured that the tradition is alive and going off in many different directions - that is the sign of a living tradition. Another person will feel threatened by outsiders and dilettantes who are bringing the tradition into disrepute. About the only thing which can be said with complete certainty is that there is a great deal of prejudice. Just about everyone who studies Kabbalah seems to be certain that someone else hasn't a clue what Kabbalah is about!
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11. How can I find someone who teaches Kabbalah?
It is not possible to recommend specific people or organisations as what is right for one person may not be right for another. In general, (good) teachers of Kabbalah are not easy to find and never have been. There is a tradition that when the pupil is ready, a teacher will appear.
The difficulty in finding a teacher can be viewed as a nuisance or a positive part of learning Kabbalah. A thing is valued more when it is hard to find. Associate with people who share your interests, go to lectures and public meetings, go to workshops, go to whatever happens to be available, (even if it is not entirely to your taste), and sooner or later someone will "turn up".
Many Kabbalists are people with strong personal convictions of a religious nature, and may see their teaching as a personal obligation (see "What is the Great Work?"). Those who do not charge money for their teaching may require a strong commitment from pupils, and are unlikely to welcome "flavour of the month" mystical aspirants.
A word of advice: a genuine teacher of Kabbalah will help you to develop your own personal relationship with God. Beware of a teacher who has preconceived and well-developed ideas about what is good for you, or who tries to control the development of your beliefs.
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A Potted History of Kabbalah
The following material provided
courtesy of Colin Low ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Kabbalists and scholars disagree on the date of the origins of the Kabbalah. Many Kabbalists trace the tradition back to 1st. century A.D. Palestine. Scholars tend to identify Kabbalah with specific ideas which emerged in 12th. century Provence in the school of R. Isaac the Blind, who has been called "the father of Kabbalah". What is abundantly clear however is that there is a continuous thread of Jewish mysticism running from early times, and these strands have become so intertwined with Kabbalah that it is difficult to know where one ends and another begins. For example, the highly influential text, the Sepher Yetzirah, was the subject of widespread commentary by medieval Kabbalists but the text may have been written as early as the 1st. century. Again, ideas from Jewish Gnosticism from the 2nd. and 3rd. centuries have also become deeply embedded in Kabbalah.
The earliest documents associated with Kabbalah come from the period ~100 to ~1000 A.D. and describe the attempts of "Merkabah" mystics to penetrate the seven halls (Hekaloth) of creation in order to reach the Merkabah (throne-chariot) of God. These mystics appear to have used what would now be recognised as familiar methods of shamanism (fasting, repetitious chanting, prayer, posture) to induce trance states in which they literally fought their way past terrible seals and guards to reach an ecstatic state in which they "saw God". An early and highly influential document, the Sepher Yetzirah, or "Book of Formation", originated during the earlier part of this period.
By the early Middle Ages further, more theosophical developments had taken place, chiefly a description of "processes" within God, and the development of an esoteric view of creation as a process in which God manifests in a series of emanations, or sephiroth. This doctrine of the sephiroth can be found in a rudimentary form in the "Sepher Yetzirah", but by the time of the publication of the book "Bahir" in the 12th. century it had reached a form not too different from the form it takes today.
A motive behind the development of the doctrine of emanation can be found in the questions:
"If God made the world, then what is the world if it is not God?"
"If the world is God, then why is it imperfect?"
It was necessary to bridge the gap between a pure and perfect being, and a manifestly impure and imperfect world, by a series of "steps" in which the divine light was successively diluted. The result has much in common with Neoplatonism, which also tried to resolve the same difficulty by postulating a "chain of being" which bridged the gap between the perfection of God, and the evident imperfection of the world of daily life.
One of most interesting characters from the early period was Abraham Abulafia (1240-1295), who believed that God cannot be described or conceptualised using everyday symbols. Like many Kabbalists he believed in the divine nature of the Hebrew alphabet and used abstract letter combinations and permutations (tzeruf) in intense meditations lasting many hours to reach ecstatic states. Because his abstract letter combinations were used as keys or entry points to altered states of consciousness, failure to carry through the manipulations correctly could have a drastic effect on the Kabbalist. In Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism Scholem includes a fascinating extract from a description of one such experiment. Abulafia is unusual because (controversially) he was one of the few Kabbalists to provide explicit written details of practical techniques.
The most influential Kabbalistic document, the Sepher ha Zohar or "Book of Splendour", was published by Moses de Leon (1238-1305), a Spanish Jew, in the latter half of the thirteenth century. The Zohar is a series of separate documents covering a wide range of subjects, from a verse-by-verse esoteric commentary on the Pentateuch, to highly theosophical descriptions of processes within God. The Zohar was highly influential within mainstream Judaism (in some communities it was ranked as highly as the Talmud as a source of interpretation on the Torah), and within the more orthodox sects it still is.
An important development in Kabbalah was the Safed school of mystics headed by Moses Cordovero (1522-1570) and his successor Isaac Luria (1534-1572). Luria, called "The Ari" or Lion, was a highly charismatic leader who exercised almost total control over the life of the school, and has passed into history as something of a saint. Emphasis was placed on living in the world and bringing the consciousness of God through into the world in a practical way. Practices were largely devotional.
Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Judaism as a whole was heavily influenced by Kabbalah, but two influences caused its decline. The first event was the mass defection of Jews to the cause of the heretic and apostate pseudo-messiah Shabbatai Tzevi (1626-1676), an event Scholem called "the largest and most momentous messianic movement in Jewish history subsequent to the destruction of the Temple and the Bar Kokhba Revolt." The Shabbateans included many prominent rabbis and Kabbalists, and from this point Kabbalah became inextricably mired with suspicions of heresy.
A second factor was the rise in Eastern Europe of a populist Kabbalism in the form of Hasidism, and its eventual decline into superstition, so that by the beginning of this century a Jewish writer was able to dismiss Kabbalah as an historical curiousity. Jewish Kabbalah has vast literature which is almost entirely untranslated into English.
A development which took place almost synchronously with the translation and publication of key texts of Jewish Kabbalah was its adoption by many Christian mystics, magicians and philosophers. Some Christians thought Kabbalah held keys that would reveal mysteries hidden in the scriptures, and others tried to find in Kabbalah doctrines which might be used to convert Jews to Christianity. There were some who recognised in Kabbalah themes with which they were already familiar in the literature of Hermeticism and Neoplatonism.
The key figure in what has been called "Christian Kabbalah" is Giovanni Pico, Count of Mirandola. The liberal atmosphere in Florence under the patronage of the Medici family provided a haven for both Jewish scholars (usually employed as translators or physicians) and humanist philosophers. The fall of Byzantium provided a rich source of Greek texts such as works of Plato and the Corpus Hermeticum. Giovanni Pico not only popularised Kabbalah, but influenced humanist scholars such as Johannes Reuchlin to learn Hebrew and study important source texts. Kabbalah was progressively bundled with Pythagoreanism, Neoplatonism, Hermeticism and Rosicrucianism to form a snowball which continued to pick up traditions as it rolled down the centuries. It is probably accurate to say that from the Renaissance on, virtually all European occult philosophers and magicians of note had a working knowledge of some aspect of Kabbalah, and we are not talking about obscure individuals - there was a time when science, philosophy, metaphysics, theology and so-called "occult sciences" inter-mingled in a way which baffles the compartmentalised modern mind, and biographers of Isaac Newton still have difficulty in accepting the things he studied when not laying the foundations of modern theoretical physics!
Non-Jewish Kabbalah has suffered greatly from having only a limited number of source texts to work from, often in poor translations, and without the key commentaries which would have revealed the tradition associated with the concepts described. It is pointless to criticise non-Jewish Kabbalah (as many writers have) for misinterpreting Jewish Kabbalah; it should be recognised as a parallel tradition with many points of correspondence and many points of difference. Its strength is that a practical tradition has evolved, which many find effective and worthwhile, and the original Renaissance humanism out of which it grew has remained intact, so that while it is broadly Judeo-Christian in background, it is largely free of dogma, and places the task of self-actualisation firmly in the hands of human beings.
Very little information has survived about the Practical Kabbalah in the Jewish tradition, but there is abundant evidence that it involved a wide range of practices and included practices now regarded as magical - the fact that so many Kabbalists denounced the use of Kabbalah for magical purposes is evidence in itself (even if there were no other) that the use of these techniques was widespread. It is highly likely that many ritual magical techniques were introduced into Europe by Kabbalists or their less scrupulous camp followers.
The most important medieval magical text is the Key of Solomon, and it contains the elements of classic ritual magic - names of power, the magic circle, ritual implements, consecration, evocation of spirits etc. No-one knows how old it is, but there is a reasonable suspicion that its contents preserve techniques which might well date back to Solomon.
The combination of non-Jewish Kabbalah and ritual magic has been kept alive outside Judaism until the present day, although it has been heavily adulterated at times by Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Pythagoreanism, Rosicrucianism, Christianity, Tantra and so on. The most important "modern" influences are the French magician Eliphas Levi, and the English Order of the Golden Dawn. At least two members of the Golden Dawn (S.L. Mathers and A.E. Waite) were knowledgeable Kabbalists, and three Golden Dawn members have popularised Kabbalah - Aleister Crowley, Israel Regardie, and Dion Fortune. Dion Fortune's Order of the Inner Light has also produced a number of authors: Gareth Knight, William Butler, and William Gray to name but three.
An unfortunate side effect of the Golden Dawn is that while Kabbalah was an important part of its "Knowledge Lectures", surviving Golden Dawn rituals are a syncretist hodge-podge of symbolism in which Kabbalah seems to play a minor or nominal role, and this has led to Kabbalah being seen by many modern occultists as more of a theoretical and intellectual discipline, rather than a potent and self-contained mystical and magical system in its own right.
Some of the originators of modern witchcraft (e.g. Gerald Gardner, Alex Saunders) drew heavily on medieval ritual and Kabbalah for inspiration, and it is not unusual to find modern witches teaching some form of Kabbalah, although it is generally even less well integrated into practical technique than in the case of the Golden Dawn.
To summarise, Kabbalah is a mystical and magical tradition which originated nearly two thousand years ago and has been practiced continuously during that time. It has been practiced by Jew and non- Jew alike for about five hundred years. On the Jewish side it has been an integral and influential part of Judaism. On the Hermetic side it has created a rich mystical and magical tradition with its own validity, a tradition which has survived despite the prejudice generated through existing within a strongly Christian culture.
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The Keys to Kabbalah
by Dr. Alan Bain
The word Kabbalah is derived from a Hebrew word meaning "to receive," and Kabbalah is a teaching received. Its origins, like other similar doctrines, are obscure. It is enough for our purpose to say that its first outward appearance seems to have occurred during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Since then, a tremendous amount of superstructure has reared itself upon the Teaching from Christians, mystics, astrologers and the like. This can only be tested by study and experience. We are therefore compelled to take it as we find, and to test its validity for ourselves. It is not essential [though interesting] to establish origins, for if what we are taught makes sense in terms of our experience, then for us it is valid until further experience either confirms or denies it. Therefore, Kabbalah is given here as received, without placing unnecessary emphasis on `from whom' or from where.
Like all such systems, Kabbalah seeks to lead to Self knowledge among those who use it. It attempts to provide answers to the riddles of the universe and the riddles of humanity. This it does, in part, by likening the one to the other" saying, "that which is above is like unto that which is below." In terms of the "above," it sets forth a description of the basic laws of the world or the universe, and works its way, step by step, to individual human beings and their various states of awareness. It is a comprehensive system, and is so constructed that it can readily absorb into itself other teachings and philosophies without losing anything of its own character. In fact it gains from this.
The Tree of Life
The basis of Kabbalah is a diagram called the Tree of Life. It consists of a representation of ten spheres or regions systematically arranged to illustrate the patterns and relationships of things. The most important thing about this diagram is that it illustrates the doctrine of emanations, by which each sphere emanates its successor, without losing anything of itself, so that the first sphere is said to contain all those below it in order of creation.
Similarly, it is said that the last sphere contains all those above it in the order of creation. These ten spheres are called the ten Sephiroth, a Hebrew word meaning numbers, or better, numerations, the singular of which is Sephira.
The first Sephira is called Kether, which means Crown, and may be considered as representative of the Infinite Source of all things. From the activity of this source emanates 'Hokma, Wisdom, which, while being a separate sphere, is nonetheless still part of Kether; and Kether, although having emanated 'Hokma, has lost nothing of itself. 'Hokma in turn emanates Binah, Understanding, which in turn causes to be emanated 'Hesed, Mercy; Geburah, Strength; Tiphareth, Beauty; Netzach, Victory; Hod, Glory; Yesod, Foundation; and Malkuth, Kingdom.
Kabbalah is a Hebrew system which has been developed and expanded by Christians and others. The important thing, however, is not how it has developed but what it is capable of bringing to its students. It is suited particularly for those seeking an increase of awareness, Self-knowledge and Self-realisation.
The Four Worlds
The ten Sephiroth exist in what are called the Four Worlds. This means that Kabbalah distinguish between four states of being, from the most abstract and spiritual to the most dense and material. Rather like the Sephiroth, the Four Worlds depend from each other, but in a different manner. The first of the Four Worlds or levels is called Atziluth, or the World of Emanation. Here, creative force is seeking expression, but lacks form. In Atziluth, the Divine Source takes the first steps towards creation. If we think of this in terms of the creation of the world, then drawing a parallel with Genesis we can say:
"In the beginning the Earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God (or "the gods") moved upon the face of the waters."
Atziluth, then, is pure spirit beginning to take its first movements towards creative expression. It is that region where all potential lies, from where may come anything we may learn how to bring into expression, or that may be brought into expression by divine activity or "Holy Spirit." In Kabbalah, we try to make our actions and operations come into line with this divine activity, or LAW.
The next World in order is called Briah, and is described as the World of Creation. It is the region where the basic plans for the objects of creation have their beginning. From Genesis again:
"And God said 'Let there be light,' and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
If there were no light or darkness we should be unable to perceive anything, whether of light we measure in wavelengths, or of spiritual light when the word is used another way. In Briah are the the seeds - and only the seeds - of differentiation. In terms of human psychology, here lie the roots of mind, the raw material from which ideas and ideals are born.
It is not until we reach the World of Yetzirah, or the World of Formation, that form, produced through force, begins to take on recognisable shape. In this region, everything that takes place can present an image to the mind. Symbols, as distinct from the words which describe them, are of great value, for they can convey concepts which, if we tried to think about them in an ordinary sequential manner might take days to formulate. An excellent example of this is the Tree of Life itself. It makes no difference whether an image invoked in the mind is of an object, perhaps remembered, or if it is pure fantasy. For this reason Yetzirah, where in human terms, all is seen in the form of image and symbol, is the most dangerous of the Four Worlds, for here fantasy is almost as real as the record of facts held in the memory.
To complicate matters, it is at this level that we mostly "live and move and have our being" in real terms: another way of saying that we spend most of our waking lives in a perpetual round of fantasies and mental imaginings, often hardly noticing our physical surroundings at all. This will help explain why, in Christian terminology, the world of Yetzirah equates with Purgatory - not a place to which we go after death to be "punished" for our crimes, but a world in which we live right now, and in which we need to "purge" or purify our lives. It is in this world that most of the work of the Kabbalist takes effect.
Kabbalah helps us to distinguish between that which is real and that which is not. From there we can begin to build a real place for ourselves in a real world, and to become real people.
The last of the four Worlds is called Assiah, the material world, related to the Klippoth, or shells. In Assiah, all the activity of the previous three Worlds finds its expression in material activity, or material objects. It is also the world of appearances, for all things in Assiah contain within them the three worlds preceding it, hence the idea of shells, or containers. That includes us. It is Assiah with which we are necessarily the most familiar, and in which we seek to create order. We often fail in this, since for there to be order in Assiah, it must first be conceived in Atziluth. In other words, there can be no harmony in the world unless we recognise therein the activity of the divine influence, the Holy Spirit, or presence of 'God' - YHWH - "That-which-is," or "Eternal Being."
1. KETHER (rtk) (Crown)
There is little that can be said about Kether, for according to tradition, those who reach it do not return to tell us of their experience. Kether is, for us, unknowable, but we may nevertheless speculate concerning it, and we may attempt to describe it by saying what it is not. Kether is Eternity, an idea expressed by its other titles, The Ancient of Ancients, the Ages of Ages and the Ancient of Days. We are accustomed to think of eternity as an infinite extension of time. Eternity, as symbolised by Kether, is the complete absence of time. In Kether, time is not.
Kether also represents the goal of all things. Time, like the things of life, is an illusion; a reflection. Being as we are, it is obvious that any spiritual condition of the nature of Kether is impossible of realisation. While we are in the body, we are subject to, and limited by, time. To exist and function in Kether, we should need a form - or lack of one - where the conditions of time did not apply. There are, however, in various ways, conditions which approximate to Kether. To explain this, it is necessary to introduce the idea of scale. It is possible to draw the Tree of Life in such a way as to give a separate Tree in each of the Four Worlds (which is seen in the breakdown of the Ladder in Part Three). Because of variations at different levels, it is essential to distinguish in the mind upon which scale we are working, and not to mix one with another, except insofar as "that which is above is like unto that which is below." (Like unto it - not the same as it). If we attempt to compare the attributes of Kether on different scales, there may be, at first glance, little that seems to connect them. At one end of the scale is the Ancient of Days - a description of YHWH, or '91God'. Further down the scale we find the divine spark in each human being. Both concepts may be referred to Kether. The Ancient of Days is like a remote and elevated deity who has the power of life and death over not only humans, but over whole worlds, galaxies, or even the Universe in its entirety, whatever that may be.
The divine spark in ourselves, which can be described as the purest part of our being, is the factor which makes us human. Without it we are governed entirely by sense experience. It may seem that there are many people who are exactly like this. How closely do we, as individual human beings, stand examination? What makes us so special if we have no such divine spark? The answer is that we do, but are not necessarily aware of its existence. Kabbalah teaches that we are in human form for the purpose of learning that we are so endowed, and to grow and develop by learning to bring the activity of Yechidah, or spirit, into the experience of life, discovering self-knowledge and self-realisation as we do so.
A little thought shows that the two correspondences given have something very basic in common. Without the "Ancient of Days" the world could not exist. And without the divine spark in ourselves, we, as we are, could not exist. Consider that the search for self-realisation is in three stages, which can be described as:
1. Know Yourself. 2. Understand Yourself. 3. Be Yourself.
In the sense that these terms are used, it would be foolish to assume that we have necessarily begun to do even the first of these three, although it is a good thing to attempt to be ourselves always, as best we may. Most people seem to be dominated by one of the four psychological functions described by Jung: Thinking, Feeling, Sensation and Intuition. If we are to break the ties which bind, we must set our sights upon Kether, not some intermediate stage, for those who wish to fly to the moon cannot hope to succeed if they make their calculations for a point somewhere along the way. It is in this light that we need to approach the study of Kabbalah if our study is to be practical, and this light is a spiritual one. Kether represents the Holy of Holies, whatever this expression may mean to whoever uses it, for which reason one Kabbalistic organization exhorted its members not to blaspheme the name by which others know their god. No matter what our level of understanding, or from what level we approach, there is always a Kether which for us is unattainable. In any theology, God is necessarily omnipotent and omniscient, for God is always the Crown of Creation, Kether, which, in the words of Path Ten of the 32 Paths of Wisdom, "is exalted above every head" (as the Kether of the World of Briah).
2. 'HOKMA (hmkx) (Wisdom)
In 'Hokma, the source of all being in Kether has begun to move in the direction of manifestation. As with Kether, there is not much we can say concerning this sphere except by analogy. Let us consider, if we can, infinite power in infinite motion in infinite space. This may give some idea of the nature of 'Hokma. Also, we need to remember that at this level there is no such thing as time, for the conditions of limitation necessary for its existence have yet to appear. 'Hokma is undifferentiated force, whereas Kether is undifferentiated potential. In 'Hokma, this potential begins to move, begins to be realised, but unless it is limited in some way, unless it can be circumscribed or contained, nothing may be created, nothing will become manifest. A good analogy for 'Hokma is electrical energy. While much is known about this force, all that we know is known only because we are able to trap its energy by various means. We know, for example, that radio waves are carried continuously through the air, but we are unable to make use of them unless we are able to build an instrument to confine them and to channel them in a way that may be of service, as we do with a radio receiver. In a sense, then, although we may consider 'Hokma as total power in total motion, this power is equally impotent, because being infinitely distributed through eternal infinity, its pressure is equal in all directions .....
We can get a glimpse of the significance of 'Hokma when we regard it as the "Supernal Father," as it is sometimes called, or the fundamental male principle. In doing so, we shall see how analogies with human sexuality are useful in understanding the mysteries of Kabbalah. The human male is in a similar position to 'Hokma, for like the Sephira, he bears within him the seeds that may beget life, but if this seed is dispersed outside the body, then no life form can be created. The human male seed has to be contained within the human female and combined with her seed. Even then, many further processes are necessary before there can be a human child. Analogously, the energy potential of the Supernal Father has to be contained within the Supernal Mother, Binah, before creation proper can commence; equally, there are further processes to be undergone before this creation can become manifest, before the spiritual child is born. Here, as with all the Sephiroth, we can see a universal Law of being applying to all things at all levels, from galaxies to geraniums.
3. BINAH (hnyb) (Understanding)
When we reach the Sephira Binah, we begin to be in a position to describe some recognisable conditions, although we are still dealing with basic principles. One of the symbols for Kether is the point, which in pure mathematics has no dimension. A similar symbol for 'Hokma is the straight line, which has length but no width. The relevant symbol for Binah is the triangle, and here we can see via the symbolism that the impulse towards creation begins to be confined, in the same way as the space within the triangle is confined.
Binah has been called the Supernal Mother, and we can see how this principle complements and balances the operation of the Supernal Father, 'Hokma. We can also see that the analogies with human sexuality mentioned when describing 'Hokma are in accord with the symbolism. In Binah we are getting closer to principles which we can understand in a more material sense. Indeed, this Sephira has strong associations with the tenth Sephira, Malkuth, which represents the manifest creation as we see it.
The principle that is Binah, Understanding, is the principle in everything at all levels which confines and contains within definite limits, as the space is confined within the three sides of the triangle. Hence the title, Understanding, for to understand anything we must be able to contain it within some frame of reference. Understanding is made up of two words, "standing" and "under." In this sense, Binah stands under the two Sephiroth preceding it, and receives from them the influence which it is able to contain, confine, and preserve. In astrology, Binah is associated with the planet Saturn, which has similar attributes.
We can see how Binah acts like a receptacle for the energies of the other two Supernal Sephiroth. There is a relationship here with the ninth Sephira, Yesod, Foundation, also called "the receptacle of the emanations" due to its position on the Tree of Life. In this illustration we can also see that each Sephira below Kether is thus the source from which the Sephiroth below it are brought into being. This is even true of Kether itself, for it is condensed from out of the non-substance of the Great Unmanifest, and is itself subject to the law of emanation.
Binah is the Supernal Mother, the Great Mother of ancient religion and modern depth psychology alike. For immediate practical purposes it represents the highest level of principle that we, as incarnate human beings, may appreciate. Binah, though, is on the far side of an Abyss, and we can therefore never fully realise the nature of this Sephira while in the flesh. Fortunately, we are nonetheless able to make some contact with this level at advanced stages of practical work by virtue of the link which arises between the Supernal Sephiroth on the Tree of Life and those below them. This link is called Daath, Knowledge, sometimes considered for convenience as another, _93invisible" Sephira, more properly explained elsewhere. Here we may simply say that Daath, as a Sephira, does not exist. The path of the Lightning flash proceeds directly from Binah to 'Hesed, the fourth Sephira, without interruption in its journey. As Daath is sometimes portrayed in the centre of the Abyss, we shall describe the significance of Daath before going on to the remaining Sephiroth in the order of their emanation.
(Daath is shown as the dotted circle in the diagram of the Tree)
DAATH (t(d) (Knowledge)
Daath cannot in any sense be considered as a Sephira on the Tree of Life. It does not emanate from any other, nor does it cause anything to be emanated in its turn. Its significance lies in the position assigned to it. Daath means knowledge, and has significance only as a function of consciousness - but it is present only to consciousness developing upwards towards the higher principles. On a different scale, it is the point of contact between those who work within the world of appearances - in groups and societies for example - and what has been described as the "inner planes." This term can be misleading, but so can any terminology which seeks to describe the non-material aspects of creation, of life, being, and consciousness itself. That there is a reality to these "inner planes," in beyond reasonable doubt to those with sufficient experience, but it is no kind of reality or objectivity as we are accustomed to experience the same. Not a great deal can be said about Daath at this point, except that it is the point of knowledge via which hidden teachings are received. It may for practical purposes be considered as a function of the Sephira Tiphareth, and yet has many Binah qualities and attributes. At the same time, it is the Throne of Binah to the developing consciousness. It is best understood in the light of the "subjective" Sephiroth in connection with the Ladder in Part Three.
4. 'HESED (dsx) (Mercy)
The fourth Sephira is the highest level we can ordinarily reach without special disciplines. The planet Jupiter is assigned to this sphere. In astrology, it is the planet governing religion and philosophy. For our study, more is required than ordinary religion or philosophy can provide. In its representation of basic principles, 'Hesed refers to the very beginnings of manifestation that we can knowingly understand. The triangle of Binah has no depth, and cannot therefore symbolise anything properly material, being only two-dimensional, whereas creation as we see it is three-dimensional. In 'Hesed we can add an apex above the triangle, forming a triangular pyramid illustrating the possibility of movement within space as we understand such movement. In so doing we have also introduced time and duration. Here we have the ground plan of creation made manifest. Here lie the roots of nature and of natural law. 'Hesed is the principle from which these roots and this law derive their origin. If we consider the triangular based pyramid as made of glass, like a bottle, but with no opening, we can imagine that the bottle fills with water, but from within itself, in a way we cannot fathom, due to the influence of the three preceding Sephiroth, by way of emanation. The principle of limitation established in Binah is now at work, for the bottle can only contain as much water as its form allows. At this level, however, we are still dealing very much with abstract principles of emanation, later to become manifest in Malkuth. Our bottle's dimensions are still those of infinity. Within this bottle only is there such a thing as time, as we understand time, and it is within this bottle that all life subject to limitation has its origin and its being. The bottle that is 'Hesed is of infinite size, and of infinite duration. (Usually rendered "Mercy," 'Hesed can also mean "Benevolence" and "Charity.")
5. GEBURAH (hrwbg) (Strength)
This principle may be considered as the force which motivates to activity. It is not the activity itself, but the power which lies behind it. In 'Hokma we described the principle of undifferentiated energy. Here, that energy has been confined by the third Sephira Binah, and transformed into potential by the additional dimension developed by 'Hesed. In Geburah energy is set in motion subject to the limits imposed by the principles emanated before itself. If we consider the analogy of a car engine, we can obtain an idea of the importance of Geburah. The idea of being, i.e., that there can be such a thing as the engine, stems from Kether. The potential to drive it derives from 'Hokma. The principle of confining this energy to put it to practical use is provided by Binah, and the idea of the form it will take is established in 'Hesed. Geburah represents the principle of this energy in controlled motion, motion controlled by the activity of the other four principles. It does not in any way refer to the means of operating the engine, such as the fuel, or the spark which ignites it. It is the principle which contains the necessary energy to drive the car. The mechanics come later. Geburah represents the principle of energy in controlled motion for particular purposes, whatever they may be. Therefore the principle that we call Geburah, Strength, is true for such motion at all levels, whether it be the car engine, the revolution of the world on its axis, the power behind galactic motion or that behind human desires, all of which by virtue of Geburah are driven to perform varying kinds of activity. In astrology it is referred to Mars, the god of war - very much a business of controlled energy, with its creation of armies, weapons, and the means of delivering that energy for particular purposes, to particular targets.
Geburah is the throbbing at the heart of all things that are.
6. TIPHARETH (tr)pt) (Beauty)
This Sephira is, for us, the most significant on the Tree of Life, and one of the most difficult to describe. In astrology it is represented by the Sun, the centre of our own solar system, and Tiphareth may be regarded as the centre which holds the other Sephiroth together in a similar manner. In Tiphareth all conflict may be reconciled, all seeming contradictions resolved. Tiphareth is the principle of manifest being. To avoid confusion, we must remember that it is manifest being which is being referred to; absolute being is a quality of Kether and the unmanifest which precedes it. Without Tiphareth, all the principles of form and energy which have gone before can come to nothing. The knowledge of force and the understanding of form cannot of themselves cause anything to become manifest in creation. In order for there to be knowledge there has to be one who may know; for understanding, one who may understand. There has to be finite being. Tiphareth represents the principle of manifest being itself, at all levels, be it the individual human being, about whom we understand so little, the being at the centre of the universe, or at the heart of the pebbles on a beach. Tiphareth is the heart of all true religion, for it is the lower representative of Eternal Being, the life of which flows like a cool stream through all that lives. If Kether is God unmanifest, Tiphareth is God manifest. In us it is the individual soul, also called the Self. Tiphareth is the soul of all things. Kether is the Spirit of all things, and Yesod, the Foundation, together with Malkuth, the tenth and final Sephira, representing the outward appearance, is the body of all things.
7. NETZACH (xcn) ("Victory")
In 'Hesed we considered the ground plan of creation; in this Sephira we are concerned with the principles which enable the plan to take particular forms, according to the functions of the different departments of manifest creation. Where the Sephiroth including and above Tiphareth relate in each instance to one principle or law, those below Tiphareth all have to do with these same principles engaged in diversification of activity. If we think of 'Hesed in terms of our own world, then the ground plan of this will consist of many things whose existence, or potential existence, is implicit in that plan. Netzach is immediately below 'Hesed on the Tree of Life, and may be considered as a reflection of it. In Netzach, the principle is that which separates out the various elements in the ground plan and prepares them for actively manifesting the forms of life. In the human being this principle is related to our feelings about things, people and situations. Observation of our own experience will show that our feelings act in just such a manner, and perform just such a function. There is a continuous sequence of activity in each of us which does not cease from birth to death, waking or sleeping. We are not normally aware of this nor do we need to be, except at such times as we need to understand what we are, and how we work.
In astrology it is related to the planet Venus, and our first reaction to any situation or event is a feeling one. That is to say that our feelings are aroused - or not, which is the other side of the same coin. Feelings stimulate thoughts, and thoughts motivate action, which changes the circumstances. To these changed circumstances we then react with suitably modified feelings, and so the process continues, even in dreams. We may see that there is a constant diversification and adjustment taking place within us that is related to our desires and ambitions. The Sephira Netzach represents this principle at several levels - diversification and adjustment based on whatever ground plan is appropriate to the level of action concerned. Some Kabbalists have described Netzach as a Sephira of repetition, a view which expresses well the circular nature of the inner human activity just described.
8. HOD (dwh) ("Glory")
The diversification spoken of in connection with Netzach is a process which continues and becomes more refined in the Sephira Hod. Here differentiation is taken a stage further into classification and arrangement. Most important of all is that with the development of this principle the separate, differentiated parts of the manifestation of spirit originating in Kether begin to become autonomous. In Hod they are given the vital energies, as distinct from the principle of energy in Geburah, which are appropriate to, and necessary for them to become finally expressed in Malkuth, the Kingdom, as distinct forms of life different from each other, although each according to its type, or ground plan. This is so whether that form be animate or inanimate. When parts of a fundamental unity become separated in this way, the only manner by which they may each recognise or rediscover their common origin is by some form of communication of one part with another. At the same time as the principle of Hod separates and gives life, so necessarily does it provide a means of communication between the parts, establishing potential relationships for all forms of life, one with another, as well as with the common life which is the heritage of them all. In astrology it is represented by the planet Mercury.
9. YESOD (dsy) (Foundation)
Yesod is the principle which represents in the downward development of the Tree of Life as the foundation of all forms of manifest life. It is the principle of body. All forms of life are contained within a particular type of form according to their natures, and Yesod is the principle of this form-giving quality. It is not the body of things as we are accustomed to seeing them, as all we ever see ordinarily is the outward appearance of that body, the surface of it. Yesod represents the totality of body, from the smallest atom outwards. For the same reason, it also represents the motivating principle immediately behind all activity, and like the body, is a continual reservoir of potential motion and action, awaiting only the necessary stimulus. The principle of Yesod is, of itself, inert, and does not initiate anything of its own, being an entirely self-contained principle devoted to maintaining a condition appropriate to the particular form, the particular type of body, so that when it is required to be active in some way it is ready so to behave. We may think of it as a highly present, differentiated principle, localised in each particular form of life, containing within itself all the necessary potential for behaviour and activity inherent in all the principles that have gone before. Vibrant with energy, very much alive, it is prepared for whatever is required. In the human being it governs the action of reflex, whether automatic bodily reflex, or conditioned reflex installed through the effect of events upon the personality as a whole. Because it receives the energies of all the preceding principles or Sephiroth, and holds them in readiness for the consummation of their final expression in Malkuth, it is called by Kabbalists the receptacle of the emanations, and is represented in astrology by the Moon.
10. MALKUTH (twklm)
Malkuth is called "Kingdom." It is here that the activity of the nine Sephiroth preceding it takes shape, where the manifest creation to which we have been referring continually is seen to be manifest. We are told by tradition that Malkuth is a "fallen" Sephira, and that therefore its position as shown on diagrams of the Tree of Life is not as it should be. We can appreciate this to a degree when we consider that in the position of following Yesod it can only act in a very limited manner, acting in a similar way for manifestation as the Sephira Binah acts in principle. It represents in this place the principle which contains and confines the energies of the Sephira Yesod, giving them a means of activity. It is also related here to the World of Klippoth, or shells. The principle of Malkuth at this level represents the surface of the body referred to in Yesod; how a thing appears from its outward appearance. It is the surface of things, the shell which contains the elements which make up the body of things in Yesod, classified and arranged in Hod, differentiated in Netzach, given independent life in Tiphareth, based on controlled drives from Geburah, following the ground plan of 'Hesed, which is contained within the framework of such a plan by the limiting action of Binah, which regulates the undifferentiated energies of 'Hokma derived from the need of Spirit in Kether to become manifest. Malkuth is also called the Bride, and it is said of the Bride that she has to be redeemed, so as to take her rightful place upon the Throne of Binah. This redemption is the way of Kabbalah, and the work of the Kabbalist. It is interesting to note that the Hebrew title, Malkuth, has, in the original language, a feminine plural ending, which illustrates very well the proper sense of the term, for as physical inhabitants of this Malkuth we call "Planet Earth," we are all shells or wombs in which may be born the expression of the One Life, the Eternal Unity, which seeks to make of each one of us a 'receptacle of the emanations.'
Dr. Alan Bain has studied and taught Kabbalah for over thirty years. You can reach him at Alan@ambain.softnet.co.uk
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