Subject: Re: masonic writings
Date: 24 Jul 1996
THE HOLY KABBALAH
- NORWOOD #90
QADOSH LA YAHWEH - Holiness to the Lord Good afternoon. Again I am extremely pleased to be invited to present another paper at the Masonic Spring Workshop. For those who were present for my paper last year today's paper follows as a logical continuation of that research. Last year I touched very briefly on the Kabbalah. I made mention that I understood only the very rudiments of the Kabbalah and was very unprepared to field any but the most basic inquiries. Now after another year's research am somewhat more comfortable but still temper my statements with the preface that I have only scratched the surface and claim no real competency in regards to the Kaballah. Indeed one of my biggest dilemmas was how much material to include and what I should leave behind. As well my knowledge of Hebrew as a language is poor to say the least so I must apologise in advance for any grammatical butchery which may occur.
The study of the Kabbalah is a long and difficult journey. Among Orthodox Jews the study of the Kabbalah is not encouraged unless the student is over forty, married, with children, and well versed with the Talmud and the Torah. Among the more liberal divisions of Judaism the study of the Kabbalah is not encouraged and in fact some find portions of the Dogmatic Kabbalah almost heretical. I can now appreciate the requirements. I have read volumes which went right over my head. I have then re-read some of them to discover I know precious little more than when I started. Slowly with the Grace of the Most High some light pierced the veil of my ignorance and I hope to be able to share some of what I have learned. One of the greatest difficulties in the discussion of the Kabbalah lies in the futility of comprehending of that which is incomprehensible.
As an introduction I will give a brief summary showing the ground I want to cover. I wanted to give a definition of the Kabbalah with a list of its doctrines and its divisions.
I wanted to discuss the Nature of God, the Kabbalistic Theory of Creation, the Divine Mystery of Sex and the general philosophy of the Kabbalah. I found this portion of my studies to be of the most interest. I felt this was because the philosophy of the Kabbalah is often ignored while the practical elements are generally more familiar. I also thought I would touch on the Literal and Practical Kabbalah while finishing with Freemasonry and Kabbalism. I am open to questions, comments or criticisms at any time so please feel free to add your opinions.
Before delving into the Kaballah a brief discussion of Judaism is in order. Judaism is among the oldest monotheistic religions. It focuses on the belief that God is the ruler and creator of the universe. The emphasis in Judaism is on ethical and moral behaviour. Among the more traditional or orthodox a thorough, careful ritual obedience is used as the true worship of the Creator. The Torah and the Talmud are held in high veneration. A strict adherence to the Laws of God as established by Moses is required in Judaic life. There are 613 laws. Of these laws 248 are considered positive commandments while the remaining 365 are considered negative or prohibitive commandments.
The Torah is the Hebraic name of the Pentateuch. These are the first five books of the Bible. Orthodox Jews believe that these books were revealed by God to Moses on Mount Sinai during the Exodus. The fundamental laws of physical and moral conduct are presented in the Torah. In a broader sense the Torah comprises all the teachings of Judaism including the entire Hebraic Scripture, the Talmud and any other generally accepted rabbinical interpretation. The Talmud is the compilation of Oral Jewish law complete with rabbinical commentaries.
Strictly speaking the Kabbalah is a mystical, Jewish philosophy. The Kaballah truly is a "beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." The Kaballah is also a system in which science and philosophy are not only compatible but inseparable. The name Kabbalah comes from the Hebrew QBL meaning "mouth to ear" or to receive in an oral tradition. The origins of the Kabbalah have been lost in the antiquities of time. It has aided men since time immemorial in the understanding of the incomprehensible and the contemplation of the Divine. There are two primary written sources for the Kabbalah; the Sepher Yetzirah or the Book of Creation and the Zohar or Splendor. The Sepher Yetzirah contains a philosophical system of Creation which draws a parallel between the Creation of Man and the Universe and the twenty-two letters of the Hebraic alphabet. The Zohar contains a series of treatises concerning God, Angels, Souls and Cosmogony or the Creation of the Universe.
The Nature of the Supreme Being
NATURE OF GOD
The primary doctrine to remember is the Kabbalists believed that God in his true form is completely incomprehensible to Man. Any attempt to define or otherwise delineate God merely lessens and debases the Creator. The Kabbalah teaches that God has both masculine and feminine attributes. This is another important point to remember as this male and female or principle of duality is a common theme throughout the Kabbalah. The logic of duality is thus; the Bible states, "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis Ch.1 V. 27). This leads the Kabbalists to believe the Deity possesses both male and female attributes as God created male and female in his image. This concept of duality alludes to the Equilibrium of Contraries or the balance which exists in the universe.
The Tetragrammaton is literally the four lettered Name of God. It is delineated Yod, He Vau, He. The Hebraic Bible uses many different appellations when referring to the Creator. Each of these different names is used as an exact metaphysical term. These terms define the aspect of the Divinity as well as the plane on which it functions. The Tetragrammaton , however, is the most important and powerful name of God. All knowledge and understanding is contained within the mysterious Name of God. The letters of the Tetragrammaton describe the union of the male Yod with the female Vau. The offspring of the union were the twin Vau male and Grace female. From the union of Vau and Grace the final He is born. The final He alludes to the transformation from the metaphysical to the physical world. This thread is woven through the fabric of the Kabbalah, the union of the male and female to produce manifestation or creation, the equilibrium of contraries, the principle of balance.
The Kabbalah teaches that in His highest level of existence God is pure light. He did not create light, he was light. The name of God in this the highest level of negative existence is "AIN." (Ain - negativity, without, simply not) Negative existence is a concept which again is really indefinable as one comes closer to a definition it ceases to be negative existence. As I understand it negative existence refers to states in which God exists before manifestation or creation. In order to affect creation or to manifest himself the unrestricted Infinite Light needed to be restrained. This was accomplished by confining His essence within the perfect vessel, the AIN SOPH. (Ain Soph - without limit). This also alludes to the union of the male and female aspects of the Deity to affect creation. From the union the AIN SOPH AUR or the Limitless Light is the result. From this restricted ray of light, the AIN SOPH AUR, the physical universe is born.
THE POINT WITHIN THE CIRCLE
The main trait of the AIN is to bestow His essence. Kabbalists define bestowal as the act of receiving for the purposes of imparting. The AIN cannot receive being unrestricted. The AIN only imparts. The will of the AIN is to give of His essence. This is accomplished by the willing restriction of the AIN in the perfect vessel of the AIN SOPH. The AIN SOPH's desire is to bestow the light. In order to bestow She had to restrain Her will to receive. This caused all light to leave the vessel. The AIN SOPH became an empty circle surrounded by infinite light. A thin ray of light was extended from the Infinite Light and passed through the Vacant Circle. This created a series of concentric circles which encompass all Creation. The beginning of the shaft of light is the AIN SOPH AUR or the primordial point from which all creation springs. This description is well illustrated by an egg at the instant of fertilization.
From the AIN SOPH AUR the Light was transmitted through out the Sephiroth of the Adam Qadmon. The Adam Qadmon is the archetype or prototype man. Within Adam Qadmon is contained the Tetragrammaton, the likeness of man in the image of God. He represents God as the Macrocosmus and man as the Microcosmus. The Yod represents the head, the first He represents the shoulders and arms, the Vau represents the body and the final He represents the legs. The emanation of Light (or the transition from the infinite to the finite) of the Adam Qadmon was still to strong for physical manifestation. It was necessary for the light to be further restrained in order to affect creation. The ten Sephiroth of the Tree of Life are found within Adam Qadmon. Kether forms the Crown over the forehead. Chokmah, Wisdom and Binah, Understanding form the two halves of the thinking brain. Chesed and Geburah form the organs of action, the right and left arms. Tippareth comprises the heart and vital organs of the chest. Netzach and Hod form the lower limbs. Yesod contains the digestive and reproductive organs. Malkuth comprises of the feet or the foundation of the Archtypal Man.
THE FOUR WORLDS OF THE KABBALISTS
Four further worlds were emanated in order to veil the light sufficiently for the creation of man and the physical universe. The first world is the World of Emanations. It is the world of Pure Spirit or the Archtypal World. It is associated with Yod of the Tetragrammaton and the element of fire. From the first world the remaining three were borne. The second world is the World of Creation. It corresponds to the plane of the archangels. It is associated with the first He of the Tetragrammaton and the element of water. The third world is the World of Formation. It corresponds to the plane of angelic forces. It is associated with Vau of the Tetragrammaton and the element of air. The fourth and final world is the World of Action. This is the plane of matter and man, the World of Shells. Evil spirits known as the Qlippoth share this world. It is associated with the final He of the Tetragrammaton and the element of earth.. The worlds envelop each other not unlike the layers of an onion. Thus Adam Qadmon surrounds the Ain Soph Aur, the World of Emanation surrounds Adam Qadmon , the World of Creation surrounds the World of Emanation, the World of Formation surrounds the World of Creation and the World of Action surrounds the World of Formation. The principles of Kabbalistic Creation may be reinterpreted as the modern theory of "The Big Bang" by the interchange of God and the Cosmic Egg from which the universe was born.
THE DIVINE MYSTERY OF SEX
From the introductory material I have presented it should be apparent Kabbalists believe deeply in the dual nature of God. They also hold fast to the firm belief that Man and Woman were created in God's image. With mankind being the only creatures who mate at will for pleasure as well as procreation they felt the act of sex itself is an earthly representation of a divine attribute. While earthly inhabitants engage in sexual activity for the purposes of reproduction the Heavenly Father and Mother engage in sexual activity for the purposes of manifestation or the process of moving from the infinite to finite. The equilibrium of the male-female aspects of God is prevalent throughout the doctrine of the Kabbalah. We have seen the union of the male and female aspects of the Deity result in the creation of the physical universe. Another example is the conception of a child by man and wife. The body of the child is provided by man and wife while the soul is the result of the union of the Heavenly King and His Bride, the Shekinah. The Shekinah is the Mother or the Divine Bride. She is the personification of the female aspects of God. Through the Shekinah the physical universe was born as a woman would conceive and deliver an ordinary child. Being a strictly female principle the Shekinah only dwells with women. In order to receive of Her blessings a man must engage in sexual activity with his wife. The doctrine of the Kabbalah is quite specific on matters pertaining to sexual relations between a man and his wife. Any man who does not follow these precepts does not have the Spirit of God within him no matter how devout and devoted he may be. As well the raising of children is equally important. The first commandment given by God was to be fruitful and multiply. The purpose of children is to spread the Light of God's Name. The is accomplished by allowing more souls to enter the physical world and be born in God's image. Couples by choice or chance who are unable to have children are thought to be spiritually barren. The Shekinah is said to have been in exile since the fall of Man. She has left Paradise to provide hope for mankind. Her Light is said to have been diminished with the transgressions of Adam and Eve. She is waiting for mankind to purify itself by overcoming the evil in his nature. Thus it is said that every act of kindness helps restore the Shekinah's splendor while acts of evil diminish her. When mankind is purified She will again enter Paradise in her majesty. At this time all souls will unite with God in eternal joy. The devil and his minions will become angels of light and hell will be dispersed. Infinite bliss will reign throughout the universe forevermore.
TREE OF LIFE
The Tree of Life is a series of ten spheres or Sephiroth. The ten spheres are connected by a network of twenty-two paths. The twenty-two paths are representative of the twenty-two letters of the Hebraic alphabet and when added to the ten Sephiroth themselves form the Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom. The Sephiroth are different degrees of manifestation or evolution of the Infinite Light. The Paths of Wisdom are different degrees of awareness and understanding of the cosmic manifestations.
The Sephiroth are divided into three columns, the Pillar of Mercy, the Pillar of Judgment and the Pillar of Mildness. The Pillar of Mercy and the Sephiroth which it contains are said to possess masculine qualities. The Pillar of Judgment and the Sephiroth which it contains are said to possess feminine qualities. The Pillar of Mildness and the Sephiroth which it contains are androgynous and represent the union of the male-female principles. Again we see the recurring doctrine of the Equilibrium of Contraries. The Pillar of Mildness serves also to temper or regulate the emanations of the other Sephiroth.
The symbolism behind the Sephiroth is thus; before Creation when the Infinite Light was restricted, a shaft of Light was emanated and the Point Within a Circle was formed. This Point has dimensions though the Point is imperceptible and indivisible. The Point must have length, breadth and depth. Without these qualities the Point would be incomprehensible. Each of the dimension may be sub-divided into beginning, middle and end. Thus it may be seen that the Point has nine divisions with the Point itself forming the tenth thus emanating into the Ten Sepiroth.
The first nine Sephiroth are divided into three triads. The first is formed by Kether, Chokmah and Binah. Kether, the Crown, emanates Chokmah, Wisdom, which in turn emanates Binah, Understanding. From the union of the Father and Mother Chesed, Mercy, is born. Geburah, Judgment is emanated and from the union of Mercy and Judgment Tippareth, Beauty, is born. In the third triad Netzach, Victory, and Hod, Glory, combine to form Yesod, Foundation. Below the final triad is the lone Sephira, Malkuth the Kingdom. This is the world of Action, the World of Men, the World of the Four Elements. Between the first and second triad is the Abyss. It is said that a great degree of enlightenment is required in order to cross over the Abyss.
Each Sephira possesses different appellations to describe qualities which it possesses. As well a different title is assigned to the Deity again describing the qualities of God which are contained therein. Different orders of angels and other heavenly beings all have their individual Sephira where they reside. An archangel is assigned to each Sephira. This arrangement becomes very important in the working of the Practical Kabbalah. Also each Sephira are represented by symbols and colors.
or CROWN Ehieh or "I AM"
In Kabbalistic thought there are three main purposes of Creation. Firstly it was the intention of God to make manifest his basic attributes of Mercy, Justice and Compassion. Secondly it was the intent of God to bestow upon man His Infinite Light. This, of course cannot occur until man overcomes the evil tendencies of his nature. The third purpose is to establish the Truth, that He is the first, He is the last and all things emanate from His Will alone. In other words the universe is God made manifest. Matter being the lowest emanation of spirit while spirit is the highest emanation of matter.
Other beliefs held by Kabbalists include the transmigration of souls. This is a form of reincarnation. Kabbalists believe that every soul is charged with a specific task from the Creator. Failure to complete this task will result in the soul having to return again to the material world in order for the task to be completed. A second failure and the soul will be linked with a stronger soul in order that the work of the Divine may be completed. Kabbalists believe that souls descend from heaven in pairs. As they approach the physical realm they become separated. If one is extremely fortunate you will find your soul-mate during our existence on the Earth. Purification of the physical realm is the work of the Kabbalists. This is accomplished by a strict obedience to the Laws of God. The 613 precepts are divided between the Pillar of Mercy with 248 gates equating with the 248 positive precepts and the Pillar of Judgment with 365 gates equating with the 365 prohibitive precepts. If a man by his good action performs one of the positive precepts the gate opens to allow the Light of the Infinite to shine upon the world. However, if a man trespasses against a prohibitive commandment then the gate opens and allows evil powers to spread their malignant influence. The full restoration of the light of the Shekinah may only be accomplished by the strict observance of the 613 precepts. When the Light of the Infinite was emanating the World of Shells, Malkuth, the Light poured in too fast and too strong. Some of the shells were shattered and the light spilled. The recovery and return of these sparks is the duty of mankind.
THE LITERAL KABBALAH
The Literal Kabbalah deals with the belief of the Kabbalists that every word, every phrase, every letter, and every number of the Torah contains deeper hidden mysteries. Hence the Torah contains all the mysterious secrets of the Most High. The Literal Kabbalah is divided into three parts, Gematria, Notricon, and Temura. Through these methods of esoteric interpretation hidden patterns are revealed. Gematria is by far the most common method in use. Gematria involves the reduction of words into their numerical equivalency. All Hebraic letters were assigned a numerical value. The equality of words then provided a proof that a certain idea was Scripturally supported. Notricon is a method of forming words from initials of a phrase or a sentence or forming a sentence from the initials of a certain word. This may be done to compare the relative weight of each word to determine which forms a more definitive statement. Temura is a means of cipher writing. It is accomplished by exchanging letters in the alphabet. There are twenty-two forms possible with the Hebraic alphabet. This was increased by formations of squares thus 484 different permutations were possible.
The alphabet is sub-divided into three groups; the Three Mothers, the Seven Doubles and Twelve Simples. The Three Mothers allude to the three elements of Fire, Air, and Water. It should be noted that the Kabbalists assigned the element of earth to the Sephira Malkuth. As well the Three symbolize three seasons, the hot, the cold and the temperate between. Fire created the heavens, Water created the earth with Air being the equilibrium between the opposing forces. The three elements occur in man, Fire formed the head, Water formed the belly with Air forming the chest in balance between.
The Seven Doubles refer to Life and Death, Peace and War, Wisdom and Folly, Riches and Poverty, Grace and Indignation, Fertility and Desolation, Power and Servitude. The Seven point out the seven localities, North, South, East, West, Above, Below and Palace of Holiness in their midst. Seven is the number of planets, the days of the week and the Gates of the Soul (Two eyes, ears, nostrils and a single mouth).
The Twelve Simples are the foundations of the twelve properties, Sight, Hearing, Smell, Speech, Taste, Sexual Love, Work, Movement, Anger, Mirth, Imagination, and Sleep. The twelve point out the twelve directions in space, North-east, South-east, East above, East below, North above, North below, South-west, North-west, West above, West below, South above, and South below. The twelve allude to the constellations of the Zodiac, the twelve months and the twelve organs of living creatures.
chapter.30 verse 12:
MI IOLH LNV HSh MILH?
chapter 25 verse 26 makes reference to the King of Sheshach.
B C D E F G H I J K L M
B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
THE THREE MOTHERS
Aleph Mem Shin
THE SEVEN DOUBLES
Beth Gimel Daleth Kaph Pe Resh Tau
THE TWELVE SIMPLES
He Vau Zayin Cheth Teth Yod Lamed Nun Samekh Ayin Tzaddi Qoph
The Practical and the Unwritten Kabbalah are used for the practise of Talismanic and Kabbalistic Magic. This may be as simple as spiritual enlightenment for the practitioner or may involve a more tangible desire. Different occult groups, ie the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, use a Kabbalistic system for the practise of Ceremonial Magic. The Tree of Life is used as a filing cabinet wherein any pantheon of deities may be inserted into their position on the Tree.
Much use is made in Kabbalistic magic of the correct pronunciation of the Names of God. It is believed that the Names themselves hold the power to perform great feats. The entire Torah from beginning to end is a Name of the Deity, however, it is not in the correct order. If one were to determine the correct order he would be able to perform acts of miraculous proportions. It is not that God is obligated to discharge the desires of the speaker but the utterance itself contains the key to the power. This stems from the belief that by sound the universe was made manifest. This is seen even in the New Testament, John chapter 1 verse 1, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." Another interesting Name is the Shem Hamporash, the Name of Extension. It is found in Exodus chapter 14 verses 19 through 21. This passage deals with the parting of the Red Sea by Moses. In the original Hebrew the verses each contain 72 letters which form the Shem Hamp orash. As well the letters are divided into the three groups and form seventy-two three letter Names of God.
Kabbalistic magic relies heavily on ritual observance, colors, scents, and symbols as well the Names of God, the Arch-angels, etc. which belong to the Sephira in which the magician is operating. Individuals who are in search of enlightenment use the "Path of the Arrow" or straight up the center of the Tree of Light while others who are in search of power or other physical manifestations utilize the "Flash of Lightning" or the descent of power. In work of this nature it is necessary to work in the opposite Sephira to maintain the balance of Nature.
Success in Kabbalistic magic is predicated on the surrender to the Divine will. Much use is made of fasting and other forms of purification. Often times desires of a physical nature are denied. True work in the Kabbalah requires strict obedience to God's laws and the total submission to the Will of God.
THE KABBALAH AND FREEMASONRY
While the basis of the Masonic ritual is not Kabbalistic in nature there are elements which reflect ideas from the Kabbalah. The reference of the Most High is a Kabbalistic term in referring to God in the Sephira Kether. The symbolism of the Point Within The Circle again is Kabbalistic in nature. The Two Pillars, Jachin and Boaz form the Pillars of Mercy and Judgment, while the candidate in the mysteries on understanding this becomes the third, the Pillar of Equilibrium. The allegory of the lost word and the Power of the Tetragrammaton, the list of cross connections goes on. The higher degrees exhibit more of a Kabbalistic influence than the Symbolic Lodge. Albert Pike had a great affinity for the occult. Kabbalistic influences are rampant throughout the Scottish Rite whose ritual Pike exercised a great influence on the development. The thirty-two degrees and thirty-two paths to wisdom are more than coincidence A small walk through the index of "Morals and Dogma" brings dozens of Kabbalistic references. Other Masonic authors have also had a high degree of interest in the Holy Kabbalah, Waite, Wescott, MacGregor-Mathers as well as Pike were keen students of the occult in general. The interest of Masonic authors must have colored the development of early Masonic rituals and the higher degrees. This occultic revival spawned dozens of degrees and systems some completely based of the Holy Kabbalah. The Kabbalistic references we have today, I believe, are the product of that occultic revival.
It is said that men may read the Torah or the body and wise men may study the Talmud or the mind but the wisest men contemplate the Kabbalah or the soul. I found the Kabbalah to be a fascinating subject to research. My readings have made me look deep into my own beliefs and I hope to have become the wiser for my efforts. Again I temper my remarks with the statement I have only scratched the surface of a topic which could be a lifetimes work.
HOLY BIBLE New International Version
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