- Hermetic Qabalah
Hermetic Qabalah (from the Hebrew קַבָּלָה "reception"), is a Western esoteric and mystical tradition. It is the underlying philosophy and framework for magical societies such as the Golden Dawn, Thelemic orders, mystical societies such as the
Builders of the Adytumand the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, and is a precursor to the Neopagan, Wiccan and New Agemovements [Bogdan, H; "Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation", University Of New York Press, 2007, ISBN 9780791470695, p 49.] .
Hermetic Qabalah draws on a great many influences, most notably: Jewish Kabbalah,
Western astrology, Tarot, Alchemy, pagan religions (especially Egyptian and Greco-Roman), neoplatonism, gnosticism, the Enochiansystem of angelic magic of John Dee and Edward Kelley, hermeticism, rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, and tantra. It differs from the Jewish form in being a more admittedly syncretic system, however it shares many concepts with Jewish Kabbalah.
It is most often transliterated with a 'Q' rather than a 'K' or a 'C', distinguishing it from Jewish Kabbalah and Christian Cabbalah.
Conception of Divinity
A primary concern of Hermetic Qabalah is the nature of divinity, its conception of which is quite markedly different from that presented in monotheistic religions; in particular there is not the strict separation between divinity and man which is seen in monotheisms [Fortune, Dion; "The Mystical Qabalah", Aquarian Press, 1987, ISBN 0-85030-335-4, p 44.] . Hermetic Qabalah holds to the neoplatonic conception that the manifest universe, of which material creation is a part, arose as a series of emanations from the godhead [Fortune, Dion; "The Mystical Qabalah", Aquarian Press, 1987, ISBN 0-85030-335-4, p 37-42.] .
These emanations arise out of three preliminary states that are considered to precede creation. The first is a state of complete nullity, known as "Ain" (אין "nothing"); the second state, considered a "concentration" of "Ain", is "Ain Suph" (אין סוף "without limit, infinite"); the third state, caused by a "movement" of "Ain Suph", is "Ain Suph Aur" (אין סוף אור "limitless light"), and it is from this initial brilliance that the first emanation of creation originates [Fortune, Dion; "The Mystical Qabalah", Aquarian Press, 1987, ISBN 0-85030-335-4, p 29-36.] .
The emanations of creation arising from "Ain Suph Aur" are ten in number, and are called "Sephiroth" (סְפִירוֹת, singular Sephirah סְפִירָה, "enumeration"). These are conceptualised somewhat differently in Hermetic Qabbalah to the way they are in Jewish Kabbalah [Fortune, Dion; "The Mystical Qabalah", Aquarian Press, 1987, ISBN 0850303354.] . See
Sephirotfor the Jewish conceptualisation.
From Ain Suph Aur crystallises Kether, the first sephirah of the Hermetic Qabalistic tree of life. From Kether emanate the rest of the sephirot in turn, viz. Kether (1), Chokhmah (2), Binah (3), Daath, Chesed (4), Geburah (5), Tiphareth (6), Netzach (7), Hod (8), Yesod (9), Malkuth (10). Daath is not assigned a number as it is considered either a false or a hidden sephirah [Regardie, Israel; "The Golden Dawn", Llewellyn, 2000, ISBN 0875426638, p 51.] .
Each sephirah is considered to be an emanation of the divine energy (often described as 'the divine light') which ever flows from the unmanifest, through Kether into manifestation [Fortune, Dion; "The Mystical Qabalah", Aquarian Press, 1987, ISBN 0-85030-335-4, p 1.] . This flow of light is indicated by the lightning flash shown on diagrams of the sephirotic tree which passes through each sephirah in turn according to their enumerations.
Each sephirah is a nexus of divine energy and each has a number of attributions. These attributions enable the Qabalist to form a comprehension of each particular sephirah's characteristics. This manner of applying many attributions to each sephirah is an exemplar of the diverse nature of Hermetic Qabalah. For example the sephirah Hod has the attributions of; Glory, perfect intelligence, the eights of the tarot deck, the planet Mercury, the Egyptian god Thoth, the archangel Michael, the Roman god Mercury and the alchemical element Mercury [Regardie, Israel; "The Golden Dawn", Llewellyn, 2000, ISBN 0875426638, p 20-21] [Fortune, Dion; "The Mystical Qabalah", Aquarian Press, 1987, ISBN 0-85030-335-4, p 238-251] . The general principle involved is that the Qabalist will meditate on all these attributions and by this means acquire an understanding of the character of the sephirah.
Hermetic Qabalists see the cards of the
tarotas keys to the Tree of Life. The twenty two trumps are known as the major arcana and are seen as corresponding to the twenty two Hebrew letters and the twenty two paths of the Tree; the ace to ten in each suit correspond to the ten Sephiroth in the four Qabalistic worlds; and the sixteen court cards relate to the classical elementsin the four worlds [Waite, A.E.; "The Holy Kabbalah", University Books, 1971, p 554-557] [Regardie, Israel; "The Golden Dawn", Llewellyn, 2000, ISBN 0875426638, p 540-593] [Fortune, Dion; "The Mystical Qabalah", Aquarian Press, 1987, ISBN 0-85030-335-4, p 107.] . While the sephiroth describe the nature of God, the paths between them describe ways of knowing God [Fortune, Dion; "The Mystical Qabalah", Aquarian Press, 1987, ISBN 0-85030-335-4, p 102] .
Jewish Kabbalah was absorbed into the Hermetic tradition at least as early as the 15th century when
Giovanni Pico della Mirandolapromoted a syncretic world-view combining Platonism, Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, Hermeticism and Kabbalah [Farmer, S.A; "Syncretism in the West: Pico's 900 Theses (1486)", Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1999, ISBN 0866982094] . This was further developed by Athanasius Kircher, a Jesuit priest, hermeticist and polymath, who wrote extensively on the subject in 1652, bringing further elements such as Orphism and Egyptian mythologyto the mix [Schmidt, Edward W. "The Last Renaissance Man: Athanasius Kircher", SJ. Company: The World of Jesuits and Their Friends. 19(2), Winter 2001–2002.] . Modern Hermetic Qabalah is the product of all these influences.
Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn
Hermetic Qabalah reached its peak in the
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, [York, "The Magicians of the Golden Dawn", (1972) p. ix] a 19th century organization that was arguably the pinnacle of ceremonial magic. Within the Golden Dawn the syncretic fusing of Qabalistic principles such as the ten Sephiroth with Greek and Egyptian deities was made more cohesive and was extended to encompass other systems such as the Enochiansystem of angelic magic of John Dee and certain Eastern (particularly Hinduand Buddhist) concepts, all within the structure of a Masonic or Rosicrucianstyle esoteric order. Aleister Crowley, a member of the Golden Dawn, is the most widely known exponent of Hermetic Magic [Symonds, J & Grant, K; "The Confessions of Aleister Crowley", Hill & Wang, 1969, ISBN 80903591X] or Magickas he preferred to render it. Crowley's own writings on the Qabalah were idiosyncratic, and in some cases purposely blasphemous. However his book Liber 777is a good illustration of the wider Hermetic approach. It is a set of tables relating various parts of ceremonial magic and Eastern and Western religionto thirty-two numbers representing the ten spheres and twenty-two paths of the qabalistic Tree of Life. The attitude of syncretismembraced by Hermetic Qabalists is plainly evident here, as one may simply check the table to see that Chesed (חסד "Mercy") corresponds to Jupiter, Isis, the colour blue (on the Queen Scale), Poseidon, Brahma, and amethyst.
Many of the Golden Dawn's rituals were published by Crowley and were eventually compiled into book form by
Israel Regardie. The versions Crowley published were often updated so as to be more consistent with his research into New Aeon magick, Regardie tending instead to publish the rituals along more traditional lines. [Cicero, Chic & Cicero, Sandra; "Self Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition", Llewellyn, 1998, ISBN 1567181368, p xix.]
After the Golden Dawn
Dion Fortune, an initiate of Alpha et Omega, wrote the seminal book "The Mystical Qabalah", widely considered one of the best general introductions to modern Hermetic Qabbalah. [Fielding, Charles and Collins, Carr; The Story of Dion Fortune, Thoth Books, 1998, ISBN 1-870450-33-7, p151] [Richardson, Alan, The Magical Life of Dion Fortune, Aquarian Press, 1991, p137, ISBN 1-85538-051-X] Pat Zalewskiis a student of Jack Taylor, who was in turn a student of Robert Felkin's school, as taught in New Zealand after Felkin emigrated there. Samael Aun Weorhas written many significant works that discuss Kabbalah within many religions, such as the Egyptian, Pagan, and Central American religions, which is summarized in his work "The Initiatic Path in the Arcana of Tarot and Kabbalah".
* [http://www.exodus-314.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19&Itemid=36 Kabbalah and the Divine Name "Ehyeh" in Exodus 3:14]
* [http://www.psyche.com/psyche/ Revived Qabalah/Kabbalah]
* [http://www.mysticalkeys.com/library Mystical Keys Library]
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