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Version: 3.0 Release Date: February 1996
This Kabbalah FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) was prepared for the
Usenet/Internet newsgroup "alt.magick". It is intended to provide a
brief introduction to Kabbalah, and pointers to additional sources of
information. This FAQ may be freely copied as long as this header is
retained. The contents are copyright and may not be abridged or
modified without the written permission of the author. Printed copies
may be made for personal use. Where third-party contributions are
included they are clearly marked and are copyright of the authors.
Copyright Colin Low 1993-1996 (email@example.com )
The author would appreciate feedback on the accuracy of the material,
modulo variations in the Anglicised spellings of Hebrew words.
Section 1: General
Q1.1 : What is Kabbalah
Q1.2 : What does the word "Kabbalah" mean, and how should I spell it?
Q1.3 : What is the "Tradition"?
Q1.4 : How old is Kabbalah?
Q1.5 : Do I need to be Jewish to study Kabbalah?
Q1.6 : Is there an obstacle to a woman studying Kabbalah?
Q1.7 : I've heard that one shouldn't study Kabbalah unless one is over
forty years old? Is this true?
Q1.8 : Do I need to learn Hebrew to study Kabbalah?
Q1.9: What is Hermetic Kabbalah?
Q1.9 : Is Hermetic Kabbalah really Kabbalah?
Q1.10 : How can I find someone who teaches Kabbalah?
Section 2: Specifics
Q2.1 : What is the Great Work?
Q2.2 : I want to know more about the Archangels.
Q2.3 : What is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and where
does it come from?
Q2.4 : What are the Qlippoth
Q2.5 : Why is Gevurah feminine?
Section 3: A Potted History of Kabbalah
Section 4: Reading List
Section 5: Information on the Internet
Section 1: General
Q1.1 : 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
Q1.2 : 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
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.
Q1.3 : 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.
Q1.4 : 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
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
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
Q1.5 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
Q1.6 : 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.
Q1.7 : 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
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 ;-)
Q1.8 : 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
Kelley, P.H., "Biblical Hebrew, an introductory grammar", Eerdmans
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.
Q.1.9 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
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.
Q1.10 : 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
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!
Q1.11 : 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
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.
Section 2: Specifics
Q2.1 : WHAT IS THE GREAT WORK?
"Do not pray for your own needs, for your prayer will not then be
accepted. But when you want to pray, do so for the heaviness of the
Head. For whatever you lack, the Divine Presence also lacks."
"This is because man is a "portion of God from on high." Whatever
any part lacks, also exists in the Whole, and the Whole feels the
lack of the part, You should therefore pray for the needs of the
The term "the Great Work" has many definitions, and is not a term from
traditional Kabbalah, but it has a modern usage among some Kabbalists.
The quotation above, from a disciple of the Kabbalist R. Israel Baal
Shem Tov, is a traditional Kabbalistic view: that the creation is in a
damaged and imperfect state, and the Kabbalist, by virtue of his or
her state of consciousness, can bring about a real healing. A name for
this is "tikkun" (restoration). There are many traditional forms of
tikkun, most of them prescriptions for essentially magical acts
designed to bring about a healing in the creation.
This view of the Great Work also exists outside of Judaic Kabbalah and
survives today, namely that the creation is in a "fallen" state, and
each person has an individual role to play in bringing about a general
"When someone stands in the light but does not give it out, then a
shadow is created."
This is a modern restatement of an old Kabbalistic idea. In this view,
God gives life to the Creation: from second to second the Creation is
sustained by this giving, and if it were to cease even for an instant,
the Creation would be no more. If someone wants to know God then they
have to resemble God, and this means they must give to others.
Kabbalah is not a self-centred pursuit; it pivots around the
Kabbalist's relationship with all living beings.
Q2.2 : I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE ARCHANGELS.
The following information was derived initially from a discussion on
alt.magick where several people contributed pieces, in particular, (in
no order) Le Grand Cinq-Mars, Amanda Walker, Leigh Daniels, Patric
Shane Linden, B.A. Davis-Howe, Mark Garrison, Baird Stafford, and
myself. Apologies if you said something and I missed it.
Angels are found in the Judaic, Christian, Islamic and Zoroastrian
traditions. The word "angel" is derived from the Christian Latin
"angelos", itself derived from the Greek "aggelos", which is a
translation of the Hebrew word "mal'akh", a messenger.
Angels are typically found in groupings of four, seven and twelve,
reflecting their role in mediating the divine influence via the
planets and the stars. For example, in Zorastrianism there was a
belief in the Amesha Spentas, seven holy or bounteous immortals who
were functional aspects of Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord. In Islam four
angels are well known: Jibril (Gabriel), the angel of revelation;
Mikal (Michael), the angel of nature; Izrail (Azrael), the angel of
death, and Israfil, the angel who places the soul in the body and
sounds the last judgement.
The sources for the angels used in Kabbalah and ceremonial magic are
primarily Jewish. The canonical Old Testament books mention only
Michael and Gabriel, but apocryphal and Talmudic literature provide
richer sources, and there is a suspicion that this was a result of
contact with Zoroastrianism during the period of the Babylonian Exile
(6th-5th centuries BC). The four best-known angels are
According to one source his name is his war-cry: "Who is like
God?". Michael is at war with the great dragon or serpent,
often identified with Samael in Jewish sources. Michael's
original position in the celestial hierarchy has been
progressively eroded by angels such as Metatron. In medieval
Kabbalah he is attributed to Chesed, but in modern Kabbalah he
is attributed to Tipheret, and sometimes to Hod.
Uriel means "Fire of God", from the word "oor" meaning "fire"
and Auriel means "Light of God", from the word "or" meaning
"light". Both names tend to be used synonymously, and the
association with light is common in Kabbalah. In medieval
Kabbalah Uriel is attributed to Truth and the middle pillar of
the Tree, in Tipheret. The association with light is
significant because of the importance of light in practical
Kabbalah, where several different kinds are distinguished,
including: nogah (glow), tov (good), bahir (brilliant), zohar
(radiant), kavod (glory), chaim (life), and muvhak
(scintillating). In Christian times Uriel may have been
identified with Lucifer ("light-bearer") and Satan, an odd
identification as the diabolic angel according to Jewish
tradition is Samael.
Raphael means "Healing of God". Raphael is sometimes attributed
to Hod and sometimes to Tipheret.
Gabriel means "Strength of God" and in medieval Kabbalah was
attributed to Gevurah (the words share a common root). In
modern Kabbalah Gabriel can be found further down the Tree in
Yesod, using his strength to hold up the foundations.
The four archangels can be found in a variety of protective
incantations where they guard the four quarters, an almost universal
symbolism which can be found in guises as diverse as nursery rhymes
("Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, bless this bed that I lie on") to
ancient Egyptian protective deities. A well-known incantation can be
found in the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (see below).
The angel Samael is also important in Kabbalah. Scholem shows (in "The
Origins of the Kabbalah") that in early medieval Kabbalah, Samael
retained some of the characteristics of the Gnostic demiurge
Ialdebaoth (the blind god), and derives the name from "sami", meaning
"blind". He is attributed consistently to the planet Mars and the
sephira Gevurah, and is the source of all the nastiness in the world.
He appears in various guises as the Dark Angel and the Angel of Death.
The suffix -el betrays his divine origin, and Kabbalists have been
divided between placing him at the head of a demonic hierarchy
(alongside his wife Lilith), and viewing him as an unpleasant but
necessary component of creation. Samael is identified with the serpent
in the Garden of Eden, a tempter and a poisoner of life.
The archangel Metatron does not appear in many lists of archangels,
but has an important role in Kabbalah as the archangel of the
Countenance. Legend has it that Metatron is none other than the Old
Testament sage Enoch, lifted up to Heaven by God. Scholem comments
that "...there is hardly a duty in the heavenly realm and within the
dominion of one angel among the other angels that is not associated
with Metatron". Metatron is usually associated with Kether.
There are many lists of seven archangels. Almost all of them differ
from each other. Mark O. Garrison (ORMUS@SORINC.CUTLER.COM) kindly
provided the following information which clarifies the difficulty:
--Mark's material begins here--
The problem lies in from whence the author goes to research the names
of the 7 Archangels. The earliest sources giving the names of all
Seven Archangels is ENOCH I (Ethiopic Enoch) which lists the names as
Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Zerachiel, Gabriel, and Remiel
The next two sources which originate within a few decades of each
other list quite different names of the Seven Archangels. In ENOCH 3
(Hebrew Enoch) the Archangels are listed as:
Mikael, Gabriel, Shatqiel, Baradiel, Shachaqiel, Baraqiel, Sidriel
While the TESTAMENT OF SOLOMON mentions:
Mikael, Gabriel, Uriel, Sabrael, Arael, Iaoth, Adonaei
The Xtian Gnostics changed things a bit further, but they still
mention Uriel (though, in some cases they called him Phanuel). The
compleat listing of the Archangels according to their tradition is:
Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Barachiel, Sealtiel, Jehudiel Pope
Gregory the Great wrote the Archangels as being these 7:
Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Simiel, Orifiel, Zachariel
Likewise, the Pseudo-Dionysians used a similar grouping, mentioning
Uriel also. They list the following as the Seven Archangels:
Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Chamuel, Jophiel, Zadkiel
It was not until much later times, around the 10th century C.E. when
the name Uriel was replaced by other names in these much latter
sources. In Geonic Lore, Uriel is replaced by Samael (The Angel of
Light, or THE Lightbearer, from whence the ideology of Lucifer had
originated from also). In Geonic Lore the seven are noted as being:
Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Aniel, Kafziel, Samael, and Zadkiel
Around the 12th to 15th centuries C.E. the name of Haniel came to
replace the name of Uriel. However, the two being quite different in
their Natures. The name Haniel is common to the Talismanic Magical
Tradition and other forms of Medieval Ceremonialism. These Medieval
Traditions mention the seven as being:
Zaphkiel, Zadkiel, Camael, Raphael, Haniel, Michael, Gabriel
Also, a late sourcebook titled THE HIERARCHY OF THE BLESSED ANGELS
mentions a different list of the seven archangels. They list them as
Raphael, Gabriel, Chamuel, Michael, Adabiel, Haniel, Zaphiel
It need be remembered, that the Judaeo/Xtian tradition originates from
several religions and traditions, each having its own legends and
thusly, its own hierarchies and namings of the angels. In Islam, there
are only four archangels: Gabriel, Michael, Azrael (the Angel of
Death, often interchanged with Uriel since the 15th century in some
European traditions) for instance. One can easily determine the
sources and origins of an book on Qabala or Ceremonial Magick by what
angels they use, obviously.
I personally have drawn up a TREE OF LIFE for each of these
traditions, based upon much research, for reference purposes. Note
though, the differences do not stop with just the names of the Seven
Archangels. These sources also do not agree on the Orders of the
Celestial Hierarchy, The Ruling Princes, The Throne Angels, and the
Names of God, just to name a few! Are you starting to get the idea
yet, or are you more confused! [GRIN] :) :)
--Mark's material ends here--
Baird Stafford (BSTAFFORD@BSTAFFORD.ESS.HARRIS.COM) provides the
following list of references to archangels for those who would like to
read the original source material:
--Baird's material begins here--
And here is an expanded list of references to the Archangels,
including those cited by Br'anArthur. I've included verses from the
Pseudepigrapha (which are the apocryphal books of the Bible not
included by the Roman church in its version of the Apocrypha, although
I understand that some of them are included in the Orthodox Bible).
Uriel had a number of stand-ins who appear to have been other angels
who took over his duties for a while: their names are Sariel, Strahel,
and Suriel. I've not included their references. And, just for the fun
of it, I've also included some references from the writings of the
early Christian gnostics. In all cases, the verses I've cited are only
those in which the Archangelic Name actually appears; in some cases,
subsequent verses refer to the original listing without naming Names.
* 3 Baruch, 4:7 1
* Enoch 10:4; 20:3; 32:6; 40:9; 54:6; 68:2-4; 71:8-9,13
* Apocalypse of Ezra 1:4; 6:2
* Apocalypse of Adam and Eve 40:2
* Sibylline Oracles 2:215
* Testament of Solomon 5:9 (24 in F.C. Conybeare's translation);
13:6 (59 in Conybeare); 18:8 (75 in Conybeare)
* Tobit 3:16; 5:4; 7:8; 8:2; 9:1; 9:5; 11:7; 12:15
* Daniel 10:13; 10:21; 12:1
* Jude 9
* Revelations 12:7 3
* Baruch 4:7; 11:2,4,6,8; 12:4,6-7; 13:2-3,5; 14:1-2; 15:1,3; 16:1,3
* Baruch 9:5 1
* Enoch 9:1; 10:11; 20:5; 24:6; 40:9; 54:6; 60:4-5; 68:2-4;
69:14-15; 71:3,8-9,13 2
* Enoch 22:1,6,8-9; 33:10; 71:28 (Recension J); 72:1,3,8-9
(Recension J) 3 Enoch 17:3; 44:10
* Apocalypse of Ezra 1:3; 2:1; 4:7,24; 6:2
* Life of Adam and Eve 13:3; 14:1-3; 15:2; 21:2; 22:2; 25:2; 29:1-3;
43:3; 45:1; 51:2
* Apocalypse of Adam and Eve 3:2; 22:1; 37:4,6; 40:1-2; 43:1-2
* Sibylline Oracles 2:215
* Testament of Solomon 1:6 (5 in Conybeare); 18:5 (73 in Conybeare)
* Apocalypse of Abraham 10:17
* Apocalypse of Sedrach 14:1
* Martyrdom and Ascension of Isiah 3:16
* Testament of Abraham 1:4,6; 2:2-14:7
* Testament of Isaac 2:1
* Testament of Jacob 1:6; 5:13
* Vision of Ezra verse 56
* Gnostic Texts (Nag Hammadi Scrolls)
* Apocryphon of John 17:30
* Daniel 8:16; 9:21
* Luke 1:19; 1:26 3
* Baruch 4:7 1
* Enoch 9:1; 10:9; 20:7; 40:9; 54:6; 71:8-9,13 2
* Enoch 21:3,5; 24:1; 71:11 (28 Recension A); 72:1,3,8-9 (Recension
A) 3 Enoch 14:4 (referred to as Angel of Fire); 17:3
* Apocalypse of Ezra 2:1; 4:7; 6:2
* Apocalypse of Adam and Eve 40:2
* Sibylline Oracles 2:215; 8:455
* Testament of Solomon 18:6 (74 in Conybeare)
* Vision of Ezra verse 56
* Apocalypse of Elijah 5:5
* Testament of Jacob 5:13
* Questions of Ezra (Recension B) verse 11
* Gnostic Texts (Nag Hammadi Scrolls)
* Gospel of the Egyptians 52:23; 53:6; 57:7; 64:26
* Zostrianos 57:9; 58:22
* 3 Baruch 4:7 (Phanuel in ms Family B)
* Testament of Solomon 2:4 1
* Enoch 19:1; 21:5; 27:2; 33:3; 40:9 (as Phanuel); 54:6 (as
Phanuel); 71:8-9,13 (as Phanuel); 72:1; 80:1; 82:7 (text tells
what Uriel's in charge of)
* 4 Ezra 4:1
* Apocalypse of Ezra 6:2
* Apocalypse of Adam and Eve 40:2
* Life of Adam and Eve 48:1,3
* Prayer of Joseph verses 4, 7
* Sibylline Oracles 2:215,225
* Apocalypse of Elijah 5:5
* Testament of Solomon 2:4 (as Ouriel) (10 in Conybeare); 7 (as
Ouriel) (11 in Conybeare); 8:9 (as Ouriel) (40 in Conybeare); 18:7
(as Ouriel) (75 in Conybeare); 27 (as Ouriel) (93 in Conybeare)
* Esdras 4:1; 5:21; 10:28
* Gnostic Texts (Nag Hammadi Scrolls)
* Apocryphon of John 17:30 (as Ouriel)
Two further notes: the early fathers of the Roman church appear to
have rewritten the Sibyline Oracles to conform to their vision of what
a proper prophesy for Rome ought to have been. Also, The Apocalypse of
Adam and Eve is also known as The Apocalypse of Moses.
--Baird's material ends here--
Lastly, Leigh Daniels (Leigh@alexandria.com) writes:
A great book is Gustav Davidson's "A Dictionary of Angels" (including
the fallen angels) published by Free Press, 1967. It is available in
paper for US$17.95 and in my opinion worth every penny. It includes a
24-page bibliography of sources used in compiling it.
[Colin comments: it is a useful book, but the author was uncritical in
choosing his sources of information]
Q2.3 : WHAT IS THE LESSER BANISHING RITUAL OF THE PENTAGRAM AND WHERE DOES IT
The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is a protective formula
which can be used to banish unwanted influences, to "clear the air" as
a preliminary to ritual or meditative work. It can be carried out
physically, but it can also be used as a concentration exercise which
is performed in the imagination prior to going to sleep (for example).
The ritual exists in a number of variant forms, the best known being
the Golden Dawn variant given below. The Golden Dawn version is is
based on (or is at least strongly influenced by) Jewish sources.
The version of the ritual below was posted by Rodrigo de
Ferres(firstname.lastname@example.org) and is included here with his permission. [I
have altered a couple of Hebrew transliterations to make them
consistent with normal Hebrew vowel pointing.]
--Rodrigo's contribution begins--
The following is derived from numerous GD sources.
The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram
This ritual can be done to purify a room for further ritual work or
meditation and can be used for protection. Its effects are primarily
on the Astral (IMHO) though it uses the Earth pentagram. It also
promotes a still mind, free of outside influenes which is a useful aid
in meditation. It is therefore recommended that the ritual be used as
part of a daily meditation work.
1. Stand facing East.
2. Perform the Qabalistic Cross
1. Touch forehead with first two (or index) fingers of right
hand and visualizing a sphere of white light at that point,
vibrate: Atah (translates roughly - Thou Art)
2. Lower hand to solar plexus and visualize a line extending
down to your feet, vibrate: Malkuth (the Kingdom)
3. Raise hand and touch right shoulder visualizing a sphere of
light there. Vibrate: Ve Geburah (and the power)
4. Extend the hand across the chest tracing a line of light and
touch the left shoulder where another sphere of light forms.
Vibrate: Ve Gedulah (and the glory).
5. Clasp hands in center of chest at crossing point of
horizontal and vertical lines of light. Bow head and vibrate:
Le Olam, Amen. (for ever - amen.)
3. Facing east, using either the extended fingers or a dagger, trace
a large pentagram with the point up, starting at your left hip, up
to just above your forehead, centered on your body, then down to
your right hip, up and to your left shoulder, across to the right
shoulder and down to the starting point in front of your left hip.
Visualize the pentagram in blue flaming light. Stab you fingers or
dagger into the center and vibrate: YHVH (Yod-heh-vahv-heh - which
is the tetragrammaton translated into latin as Jehovah)
4. Turn to the south. Visualize that the blue flame follows you
fingers or dagger, tracing a blue line from the east pentagram to
the south. Repeat step three while facing South, except vibrate:
Adonai (another name for god translated as Lord)
5. Turn to the West, tracing the blue flame from south to west.
Repeat step 3, but vibrate: Eheieh (Eh-hay-yeah more or less -
another name of God translated as I AM or I AM THAT I AM.) (Or "I
will be" - Ed.)
6. Turn to the North, again tracing the blue flame from west to
north. Repeat step 3, but vibrate: AGLA (Ah-gah-lah - a composite
of Atah Gibor le olam Amen - see step 2)
7. Return again to the east, tracing the blue flame from North to
East. Stab the fingers or dagger back again into the same spot as
in step 3. You should now visualize that you are surrounded by
four flaming pentagrams connected by a line of blue fire.
8. Extend your arms out to your sides, forming a cross. Vibrate
(visualizing each Archangel standing guard at each station):
Before me RAPHAEL (rah-fah-yell)
Behind me GABRIEL (gah-bree-ell)
On my right hand, MICHAEL (mee-khah-ell)
On my left hand, AURIEL (sometimes URIEL aw-ree-ell or
ooh-ree-ell) for about me flames the Pentagrams, and in the column
stands the six-rayed star. (Alternatively the last two lines can
be: before me flames the pentagram, behind me shines the six-rayed
9. Repeat the Qabalistic Cross (step 2). As can be seen, Raphael is
in the East, Gabriel in the West, Michael in the South and
Auriel/Uriel in the North.
For more detailed information I refer the reader to: The Practical
Qabalah by Charles Fielding, Ceremonial Magic by Israel Regardie, The
Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic also by Regardie The Golden Dawn
as well by Regardie
--Rodrigo's Contribution ends--
There has been some interest in knowing where the LBRP comes from. The
answer appears to be that it is inspired, at least in part, by
particular Jewish prayers and meditational exercises.
There are alternative versions extant, and one such is taken from a
modern Jewish source. The source is a pamphlet called "A First Step -
a Devotional Guide" which was written by Zalman Schachter and
reprinted in "The First Jewish Catalogue" by Richard Siegel, Michael
Strassfeld and Sharon Strassfeld, published by the Jewish Publication
Society of America in 1973, ISBN 0-8276-0042-9.
The blurb describing the pamphlet states:
"A First Step by Zalman Schachter is not a translation. It was first
written in English. It is a contemporary attempt to make accessible
spiritual and devotional techniques from classic Jewish sources,
sources on which the pamphlet was based."
[Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, (PhD and Professor Emeritus of
Religion at Temple University, founder of the Jewish Renewal movement)
is a very important teacher and scholar - Greg Burton]
The author of the pamphlet states
"The approach used here is that of classical Jewish mysticism, as
refined by Hasidism, and in particular, by the Habad school."
[Chabad comes from Chokhmah, Binah, Daath - Wisdom, Understanding and
Knowledge - and is usually associated with the Lubavitch tradition of
Chassidism - Colin]
Now to the exercise given:
"On other nights, after a short examination, screen yourself off
from sounds and cares by visualising an angel - a spiritual force
field - of grace at your right, this force field being impenetrable
by care or worry; at your left, an angel of power and strength;
before you, an angel of soft light and luminousness, and behind you
an angel of healing. Over your head, picture the very presence of
the loving God. As you visualise this, say: "In the name of YHVH The
God of Israel: At my right hand Michael At my left Gabriel Ahead of
me Oriel Behind me Raphel Above my head the Sheckinah of God!"
"Imagine yourself plugging into Michael for love - so that you can
love more the next day; Gabriel for strength - to fill you for the
next day; Oriel filling you with the light of the mind; Raphael
healing all your ills."
Greg Burton (email@example.com) comments on this exercise:
--Greg's contribution begins here--
This particular exercise is derived from the practice of saying the
Sh'ma 'before lying down' - the 'kriyat (bedtime) Sh'ma'. A full
traditional Sephardic version, in Hebrew and English, and with some
commentary, can be found beginning on page 318 of the 'Artscroll
Siddur' (nusach Sefard), Mesorah, ISBN 0-89906-657-7. Traditional
Hassidic kavvenot (intentions/directions/way to do it) can be found in
'Jewish Spiritual Practices' by Yitzhak Buxbaum, Aronson, ISBN
The attributes listed in the so-called 'Qabbalistic Cross' comes from
Psalm 99, verse 5, and are part of the Shachrit (morning) Torah
service. The attributes assigned for the movements are not
traditional, and the order has been changed. If using the traditional
assignments (Gevurah left, Gedulah or Chesed right), and saying the
sephirotic names in the proper order, it more properly would describe
the Lightening Flash in the lower 7 Sephirot, rather than a cross.
(Note in the kriyat Sh'ma that Michael (Chesed) is on the right and
Gabriel (Gevurah) is on the left. The implication is that one is
facing Keter). Due to changes in directional / elemental / archangelic
positioning, it is not obvious (but clearly implied) that physically
one is facing North. Another change is that the LBRP does not bless
the Divine, while the Jewish service does. This lack of blessing may
reflect the not-so-covert Christian/Rosicrucian bias in G.D. liturgy
and a particular theology, or it may not. In any event, it changes
what was originally an theurgic act into a thaumaturgic act.
You might also note that many Jews coming across the LBRP are deeply
offended that the liturgy has been so grossly distorted, and is being
used (from their perspective) sacreligiously. Telling them that it's
"just different" carries about as much weight as telling traditional
Native Americans that Lynn Andrew's work is "just different".
Combining aspects of two completely different aspects into one ritual
can be done, but it really is better if you know what you're working
--Greg's contribution ends--
In confirmation of what Greg says, the prayers to be said before
retiring to rest at night are a standard part of Jewish liturgy, and
the British Commonwealth Authorised Daily Prayer book of the United
Hebrew Congregations has (as part of a lengthy prayer which includes
the 3rd., 91st., and 128th. psalms) the following:
"In the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, may Michael be at my
right hand; Gabriel at my left; before me Uriel; behind me Raphael;
and above my head the divine presence (lit. Shekhinah) of God."
Lastly, the rudiments of the LRPB have spread beyond ceremonial magic
and can be found in places as diverse as a Kate Bush album and
Katherine Kurtz's novels. It is even possible to see a version carried
out by Christopher Lee in the film version of Dennis Wheatley's novel
The Devil Rides Out.
The following extract was provided by Robert Farrior
--Robert's contribution begins--
Not a scholarly source, try The Adept: Book Three, The Templar
Treasure, by Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris. There is a
scene where a Jewish scholar is in the hospital dying and his son is
reciting a Jewish prayer. The words are almost identical to the LBRP
attributes of the Archangels, except the attributes are reversed. Sir
Adam Sinclair, the hero, thinks how close it is to that used in his
tradition. Its on page 40.
"Shema Yisrael, Adonail Elohenu, Adonai Achad. Hear O Israel, the
Lord is our God, the Lord is One...Go since the Lord sends thee; go,
and the Lord will be with thee; the Lord God is with him and he will
"May the Lord Bless thee and keep thee; May the Lord let his
countenance shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; May the Lord
lift up his countenance upon the, and give the peace."
"At thy right hand is Michael, at thy left is Gabriel, before thee
is Uriel, behind thee is Raphel, and above thy head is the divine
presence of God. The angel of the lord encampeth around them that
fear Him, and He delivereth them. Be strong and of good courage; be
not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is
with thee, withersoever thou goest."
--Robert's contribution ends--
Q2.4 : WHAT ARE THE QLIPPOTH?
The word "qlippah" or "klippah" (plural "qlippoth") means "shell" or
The idea of a covering or a garment or a vessel is common in Kabbalah,
where it used, at various times and with various degrees of subtlety,
to express the manner in which the light of the En Soph is
"encapsulated". For example, the sephiroth, in their capacity of
recipients of light, are sometimes referred to as kelim, "vessels".
The duality between the container and the contained is one of the most
important in Kabbalistic explanations of the creative moment.
The word "qlippah" is an extension of this metaphor. A qlippah is also
a covering or a container, and as each sephira acts as a shell or
covering to the sephira preceding it in the order of emanation, in a
technical sense we can say the qlippoth are innate to the Tree of
Life. Cut a slice through a tree and one can see the growth rings,
with the bark on the outside. The Tree of Life has 10 concentric
rings, and sometimes the qlippah is equated to the bark. The word is
commonly used to refer to a covering which contains no light: that is,
an empty shell, a dead husk.
It is also the case that the qlippoth appear in Kabbalah as demonic
powers of evil, and in trying to disentangle the various uses of the
word it becomes clear that there is an almost continuous spectrum of
opinion, varying from the technical use where the word hardly differs
from the word "form", to the most anthropomorphic sense, where the
qlippoth are evil demonesses in a demonic hierarchy responsible for
all the evil in the world.
One reason why the word "qlippah" has no simple meaning is that it is
part of the Kabbalistic explanation of evil, and it is difficult to
explain evil in a monotheistic, non-dualistic religion without
incurring a certain complexity....
If God is good, why is there evil?
No short essay can do justice to the complexity of this topic. I will
indicate some of the principle themes.
The "Zohar" attributes the primary cause of evil to the act of
separation. The act of separation is referred to as the "cutting of
the shoots". What was united becomes divided, and the boundary between
one thing and another can be regarded as a shell. The primary
separation was the division between the Tree of Life (Pillar of Mercy)
from the Tree of Knowledge (Pillar of Severity).
In normal perception the world is clearly characterized by divisions
between one thing and another, and in this technical sense one could
say that we are immersed in a world of shells. The shells, taken by
themselves as an abstraction divorced from the original, undivided
light (making another separation!) are the dead residue of
manifestation, and can be identified with dead skin, hair, bark, sea
shells, or shit. They have been referred to as the dregs remaining in
a glass of wine, or as the residue left after refining gold. According
to Scholem, the Zohar interprets evil as "the residue or refuse of the
hidden life's organic process"; evil is something which is dead, but
comes to life because a spark of God falls on it; by itself it is
simply the dead residue of life.
The skeleton is the archetypal shell. By itself it is a dead thing,
but infuse it with a spark of life and it becomes a numinous and
instantly recognisable manifestation of metaphysical evil. The shell
is one of the most common horror themes; take a mask, or a doll, or
any dead representation of a living thing, shine a light out of its
eyes, and becomes a thing of evil intent. The powers of evil appear in
the shape of the animate dead - skulls, bones, zombies, vampires,
The following list of correspondences follows the interpretation that
the qlippoth are empty shells, form without force, the covering of a
KetherFutility ChokhmahArbitrariness BinahFatalism Chesed Ideology
GevurahBureaucracy TipheretHollowness NetzachRoutine, Repetition,
Habit HodRigid Order Yesod Zombieism, Robotism MalkutStasis
A second, common interpretation of the qlippoth is that they represent
the negative or averse aspect of a sephira, as if each sephira had a
Mr. Hyde to complement Dr. Jekyll. There are many variations of this
idea. One of the most common is the idea that evil is caused by an
excess of the powers of Din (judgement) in the creation. The origin of
this imbalance may be innate, a residue of the moment of creation,
when each sephira went through a period of imbalance and instability
(the kingdoms of unbalanced force), but another version attributes
this imbalance to humankind's propensity for the Tree of Knowledge in
preference to the Tree of Life (a telling and precognitively inspired
metaphor if ever there was one...).
The imbalance of the powers of Din "leaks" out of the Tree and
provides the basis for the "sitra achra", the "other side", or the
"left side" (referring to pillar of severity), a quasi or even fully
independent kingdom of evil. This may be represented by a full Tree in
its own right, sometimes by a great dragon, sometimes by seven hells.
The most lurid versions combine Kabbalah with medieval demonology to
produce detailed lists of demons, with Samael and Lilith riding at
their head as king and queen.
A version of this survives in the Golden Dawn tradition on the
qlippoth. The qlippoth are given as 10 evil powers corresponding to
the 10 sephiroth. I referred to G.D knowledge lectures and also to
Crowley's "777" (believed to be largely a rip-off of Alan Bennett's
G.D. correspondence tables), and found several inconsistencies in
transliteration and translation. Where possible I have reconstructed
the original Hebrew, and I have given a corrected list.
The Orders of the Qlippoth SephirothQlippothMeaning
KetherThaumielTwins of God (TAVM, tom - a twin) ChokmahOgielHinderers
(? OVG - to draw a circle) BinahSatarielConcealers (STR, satar- to
hide, conceal) ChesedGash'khalahBreakers in Pieces (GASh Ga'ash -
shake, quake KLH, khalah - complete destruction, annihilation)
GevurahGolachabFlaming Ones (unclear) TipheretTagirironLitigation
(probably from GVR, goor - quarrel) NetzachOrev ZarakRaven of
Dispersion (ARV, orev - raven ZRQ, zaraq - scatter) HodSamaelFalse
Accuser (SMM, samam - poison) YesodGamalielObscene Ass (GML, gamal -
camel? alt. ripen?) MalkutLilithWoman of the Night (Leilah - Night)
Most of these attributions are obvious, others are not. The Twins of
of God replace a unity with a warring duality. The Hinderers block the
free expression of the God's will. The Concealers prevent the mother
from giving birth to the child - the child is stillborn in the womb.
The Breakers in Pieces are the powers of authority gone bersek - Zeus
letting fly with thunderbolts in all directions. The Flaming Ones
refer to the fiery and destructive aspect of Gevurah. Lilith is the
dark side of the Malkah or queen of Malkuth.
Why Samael is placed in Hod is unclear, unless he has been
christianised and turned into the father of lies. In Kabbalah he is
almost always attributed to Gevurah, sometimes as its archangel. Yesod
is associated with the genitals and the sexual act, but why Gamaliel
is unclear to me. I could easily concoct fanciful and perhaps even
believable explanations for the attributions to Tipheret and Netzach,
but I prefer not to.
In "777" Crowley also gives qlippoth for many of the 22 paths. If the
transliterations and translations are as accurate as those for the
sephiroth, I would be tempted to reach for my lexicon.
The G.D. teachings on the qlippoth are minimal in the material in my
possession, but a great deal can be deduced from those fascinating
repositories of Kabbalistic myth, the twin pictures of the Garden of
Eden before and after the Fall. There are so many mythic themes in
these pictures that it is difficult to disentangle them, but they seem
strongly influenced by the ideas of Isaac Luria, and it is now time to
describe the third major interpretation of the qlippoth.
Luria's ideas have probably received more elaboration than any others
in Kabbalah. The man left little in a written form, and his disciples
did not concur in the presentation of what was clearly a very complex
theosophical system - this is a subject where no amount of care will
ensure consistency with anyone else.
Luria made the first step in the creation a process called "tzim tzum"
or contraction. This contraction took place in the En Soph, the
limitless, unknown, and unknowable God of Kabbalah. God "contracted"
in a process of self-limitation to make a space (in a metaphorical
sense, of course) for the creation. In the next step the light entered
this space in a jet to fill the empty vessels of the sephiroth, but
all but the first three were shattered by the light. This breaking of
the vessels is called "shevirah". The shards of the broken vessels
fell into the abyss created by contraction, and formed the qlippoth.
Most of the light returned to the En Soph, but some of it remained in
the vessels (like a smear of oil in an empty bottle) and fell with the
Scholem describes the shevirah and the expulsion of the qlippoth as
cathartic; not a blunder, an architectural miscalculation like an
inadequately buttressed Gothic cathedral, but as a catharsis. Perhaps
the universe, like a new baby, came attached to a placenta which had
to be expelled, severed, and thrown out into the night.
One way of looking at the shevirah is this: the self contraction of
tzim tzum was an act of Din, or Judgement, and so at the root of the
creative act was the quality which Kabbalists identify with the source
of evil, and it was present in such quantity that a balanced creation
became possible only by excreting the imbalance. The shevirah can be
viewed as a corrective action in which the unbalanced powers of Din,
the broken vessels, were ejected into the abyss.
Whether cathartic or a blunder, the shevirah was catastrophic. Nothing
was as it should have been in an ideal world. The four worlds of
Kabbalah slipped, and the lowest world of Assiah descended into the
world of the shells. This can be seen in the G.D. picture of the Eden
after the Fall. Much of Lurianic Kabbalah is concerned with corrective
actions designed to bring about the repair or restoration (tikkun) of
the creation, so that the sparks of light trapped in the realm of the
shells can be freed.
The final word on the shells must go to T.S. Eliot, who had clearly
bumped into them in one of his many succesful raids on the
"Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;"
"Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us - if at all - not as lost,
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men."
Q.2.5: WHY IS GEVURAH FEMININE?
There is a common belief that certain sephiroth are "masculine" and
other sephiroth are "feminine". This belief causes many problems in
comprehending the Tree of Life, and is a source of questions. For
example, why is Gevurah, a martial and aggressive sephira, depicted as
feminine, and why is Netzach, the nurturing, caring, emotional and
aesthetic sephira, depicted as "masculine".
No convoluted explanations are required. The difficulties occur
because of a carelessness in choosing words, and a misunderstanding
about planetary correspondences. In other words, the above depictions
Masculine and feminine are acquired behaviours which have changed over
time, and many people are learning their Kabbalah from books written
several decades ago. These stereotype views of masculine and feminine
were not shared by Jewish authors, who not only did not use these
terms, but placed an entirely different meaning on the terms they did
use. If you take "feminine" to imply emotional, caring, and passive,
and "masculine" to imply active, aggressive, and intellectual, then
not only do you risk offending a large number of people who find this
stereotype insulting, but you wmay also have great difficulty in
reconciling various correspondences for the sephiroth.
A more appropriate characterisation of the difference between sephira
is that of "giving" and "receiving". Kether is a sephira that only
gives, and Malkuth is a sephira which only receives, and all other
sephiroth are both giving and receiving, so that Binah receives from
Chokhmah but gives to Chesed. [Things are not so simple; there is a
tradition that when a current reaches Malkuth, it reflects and travels
back up the Tree again, so that even Malkuth and Kether play a part in
giving and receiving. When human beings carry out simple acts in their
daily life with full consciousness, then this results in a small
"tikkun" or restoration in the upper worlds - in other words, it is
our own actions which cause the reflection within Malkuth, and by
doing so cause the "spiritualisation of matter"]
Kabbalists have used a sexual metaphor for this giving and receiving;
they have observed that from a biological point of view, the male
"gives", and the female "receives", and have given the sephira
Chokhmah the title "Father" and the sephira Binah the title "Mother".
In time, this distinction between male and female has been lost, and
carelessness has lead to the substitution of masculine and feminine,
which entirely changes the original meaning.
A second difficulty is caused by a common tendency in people to use
the astrological correspondence of a planet as the primary means for
understanding a sephira, so that for many people, Gevurah and Mars are
synonymous. This is equivalent to saying that because a sunflower
reminds me of the sun, the sun *is* a sunflower. The fact that one is
a luminous ball of gas and the other is a plant with yellow petals
should give a clue as to the magnitude of this kind of error. The
metaphorical relationship between the sephira Tipheret and the sun is
no closer than that between the sun and a sunflower. Likewise the
relationship between Gevurah and Mars, and between Netzach and Venus -
this is an example of the finger pointing at the moon: look at the
finger and you don't see the moon.
What follows is a very brief characterisation of each sephiroth, with
a brief rational for the corresponding planetary association.
KetherUnity ChokhmahUnconditioned Creativity BinahPossibility of
Boundaries ChesedConditioned Creativity GevurahResponse to Boundaries
TipheretSelf-Consciousness NetzachResponse to Creativity
HodAppreciation of Boundaries YesodEgo MalkuthDiversity
This is an abstract approach which concentrates on the polarity of
force/creativity and form. In Kabbalah this is expressed as the
polarity of Chokhmah and Binah. Chokhmah is the unconditioned
creativity that explodes out of unity of Kether. Binah is concealed in
this duality, in the separation between Kether and Chokhmah, and
expresses the possibility of duality, of separation between one thing
and another. Binah is the Mother of Form, the root of separation which
forms the basis for all distinctions and finiteness. The Mother
receives the creative outpouring of Chokhmah and gives birth to it in
Chesed. Chesed reflects the creativity of Chokhmah, but is conditioned
by the boundaries and distinctions of Binah. Chesed creates within the
realm of the possible; Binah defines what is possible.
Gevurah is the response to boundaries. Chesed wants to move existing
boundaries around, and Gevurah is the response to that. This response
is typically reactionary, a defense of the status quo, an attempt to
keep the boundaries where they were. Chesed is active - it changes the
status quo. Gevurah is receptive - it takes the existing status quo
and defends it.
Netzach is the response to creativity. It is the place of aesthetic
judgements, of likes and dislikes, of passions for this and that. It
is the adulation of a fan for a band, or an artist, or a politician.
Hod is the appreciation of boundaries, a passion for classification,
rules, detail, hair-splitting definitions. Netzach is active; feelings
tell us what we should like. Feelings direct our behaviour. Hod is
receptive, in that it elaborates what it is given.
The more confusing planetary associations should now (I hope) be
clearer. Saturn is the sphere of limitation, old age, death, and
corresponds to Binah, the Mother of Form, from whose womb all
finiteness comes. Jupiter, the leader, corresponds to Chesed. Mars (as
the warrior defending the law and the State) corresponds to Gevurah
(but not Mars as the bloodthirsty berserker - this is an aspect of
Chesed). Venus, the romantic aesthete, goddess of love and sensual
beauty, corresponds to Netzach. Mercury, the god of trade, science,
communication, medicine, discourse, trickery, corresponds to Hod.
Do not expect to find a detailed consistency between a sephira and its
planetary correspondence: the sun is not a sunflower. There is a
subtlety and generality, not to mentioned coherency, in the idea of
sephirotic emanation which is not to be found in the planetary
Section 3: A Potted History of Kabbalah
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
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 Hermiticum. Della
Mirandola 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
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
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.
Section 4: Reading Material
The following list contains books which are representative of both
Jewish and non-Jewish traditions. There are books which are utterly
fanciful or derivative which have not been included.
Many books have not been included simply because no one has suggested
that they should. If you feel strongly that a book should be included
in this list then mail its details and some (relatively) factual
comments on its contents to firstname.lastname@example.org I'd like to thank the
following for their contributions:
* Le Grand Cinq Mars
* Greg Burton
Bar Zadok, R. Ariel, "Yikrah B'Shmi (Call Upon My Name)", Yeshivat
Bischoff, Erich, "Kabbala", Weiser
[An interesting and generally well-informed little book written
as an extended FAQ. Refers only to traditional Jewish material.
Originally published in German c. 1910]
Brown, Francis, "The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew and
English Lexicon", Hendrickson 1979
[The last word in Biblical Hebrew. Amaze and astound your
friends with each and every usage of every word in the Bible.
Hold an audience entranced with your knowledge of Arabic,
Aramaic, Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian, and Greek
Crowley, Aleister, "777", Metaphysical Research Group 1977
[Tables of Kabbalistic correspondences, some from the Golden
Dawn, some from Crowley, many traditional]
Epstein, Perle, "Kabbalah", Shambhala 1978
[Information on traditional Jewish Kabbalah by a student of
Aryeh Kaplan. It contains many biographical details, and useful
information on practical techniques.]
Fortune, Dion, "The Mystical Qabalah", Ernest Benn Ltd, 1979
[One of the first books to relate the Sephirothic Tree to
everyday experience, and for this reason a useful beginners'
book. It contains many digressions on matters circa 1930 which
now appear extremely dated. Dion Fortune was strongly
influenced by Theosophy and Esoteric Christianity as well as
Kabbalah, and it shows.]
Gikatilla, R. Joseph, "Sha'are Orah", Harper Collins, 1994
[The Gates of Light by Joseph of Castille is one of the great
expositions of Kabbalah, written in the thirteenth century by a
pupil of Abraham Abulafia. Because of its early translation
into Latin it is also one of a small number of texts to exert a
strong influence on Christian Kabbalah. It provides an
exposition on the divine names through the 10 sephiroth and is
exceedingly heavy going. This translation lacks a commentary.]
haLevi, Ze'v ben Shimon, "Kabbalah & Exodus", "Work of the Kabbalist",
"School of Kabbalah",Weiser ???
[Good non-technical material - though he has an aversion to
magick. A sort of inbetweener - Wesoteric and Jewish. Very
practical material for the sincere beginner.]
Locks, Gutman G., "Gematria, Spice of Torah",Judaica Press,??
[Gematria values for the Torah - the real thing]
Idel, Moshe, "Kabbalah: New Directions", Yale University Press 1988
[Outstanding scholarship - a MUST read for theoretical
background, and to put Scholem into perspective.]
Idel, Moshe, "Ecstatic Kabbalah", Yale, ???
[Outstanding scholarship - a MUST read for understanding the
work of Abraham Abulafia.]
Jacobs, Louis, "The Jewish Mystics", Kyle Cathie Ltd. 1990 (also
published in the US as "Jewish Mystical Testimonies"
[A fascinating compilation of texts spanning the history of
Kabbalah from the earliest times, an eclectic mixture which
includes extracts from the Talmud and Zohar, letters, personal
diaries, legend, short lectures, visions, mystical experiences
Kaplan, Aryeh, "The Bahir Illumination", Weiser 1989
[A key Kabbalistic source text with an extensive and informed
commentary by Kaplan]
Kaplan, Aryeh, "Meditation and Kabbalah", Weiser 1992
[Essential reading for the experienced Kabbalist. Not an
introductory text. Many biographical and historical details
worth reading for their own sake.]
Kaplan, Aryeh, "The Sepher Yetzirah", Weiser 1991
[A key Kabbalistic source text with an extensive and informed
commentary by Kaplan.]
Kaplan, Aryeh, "The Living Torah", Moznaim 1981
[A key Kabbalistic source text with an informed commentary by
Kaplan. Contains both Kaplan's translation and the Hebrew
source text of the five books of Moses.]
Kaplan, R. Aryeh, "Innerspace", Moznaim, 4304 12th Ave. Brooklyn,
Kaplan, R. Aryeh, "Jewish Meditation", Weiser ???
[Introductory practices - can be used before "Meditation and
Kabbalah" or "Meditation and the Bible".]
Knight, Gareth, "A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism", Vols 1 &
2, Helios 1972
[Volume 1 provides an introduction to the Tree of Life and the
sephiroth, and follows the correspondences of the Golden Dawn
and Dion Fortune. Volume 2 covers the paths on the Tree, draws
on the same basic correspondences, but contains more personal
meditational material. At the level of a personal commentary it
provides many insights into the G.D. correspondences.]
Levi, Eliphas, "Transcendental Magic", Rider, 1969
[A key text by an important and influential magician. Levi's
factual information should not be taken at face value]
Mathers, S. L., "The Kabbalah Unveiled", Routledge & Kegan Paul 1981
[A translation of a translation of three texts from the
"Zohar", with an introduction by both Moina and Samuel Liddel
Mathers, which is interesting not only for what it says about
Kabbalah but also as a source of insight into two key members
of the Order of the Golden Dawn.]
Mathers, S. L., "The Key of Solomon the King", Routledge & Kegan Paul
[Classic magical grimoire with a Kabbalistic flavour.]
Mathers, S. L., "The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage",
[The authenticity of this text has been questioned, but its
influence on 20th. century magic and practical Kabbalah cannot
be. It may be based on an authentic technique for acquiring a
"Maggid" or angelic teacher, something widely employed by
Jewish Kabbalists in the past.]
Ponce, Charles, "Kabbalah", Garnstone Press, 1974
[A straightforward and not too fanciful introduction to
Kabbalah with a Jewish flavour. A good all-round introduction.]
Regardie, I., "The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic", Falcon Press
[Essential reading for anyone interested in the development of
non- Jewish, "Hermetic" Kabbalah this century.]
Schachter, R. Zalman, "Fragments of a Future Scroll" (out of print)
[Introduction to Jewish Renewal, which includes a great deal of
Scheinkin, David, "Path of Kabbalah", Shambala ???
[Excellent introduction by another student of Kaplan's. A great
one to read first]
Scholem, Gershom G. "Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism", Schoken Books
[This is the seminal work by the founder of 20th. century
Kabbalah scholarship. Scholem is a writer who can transform
difficult topics by writing with great clarity and beauty, and
his extraordinary erudition makes him essential reading for
anyone with an interest in the historical basis for Kabbalah.]
Scholem, Gershom G., "Origins of the Kabbalah", Princton 1990
[Traces the origins of Kabbalistic thought through the book
"Bahir", the Kabbalists of Provence, and the Kabbalistic circle
of Gerona. Gripping stuff for the academically and historically
Scholem, Gershom G. "Kabbalah", Dorset Press 1974
[I believe this is a compilation of essays, combined with
articles written for the Encylopedia Judaica. Good for its
breadth and its biographical information. Essential reading for
anyone with an interest in the historical basis for Kabbalah.]
Scholem, Gershom G. "Sabbatai Tzevi, The Mystical Messiah", Princeton
University Press 1973.
[A massive, minutely researched book describing the lives and
heresies of Sabbatai Tzevi and Nathan of Gaza. A good source of
information on Nathan's unusual and highly influential version
of Lurianic Kabbalah]
Scholem, Gershom G. "Kabbalah and its Symbolism", Schocken 1969.
[A selection of very readable essays on a wide variety of
topics, including Kabbalistic ritual and the idea of the Gol
Scholem, Gershom G. "On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead", Schocken
[More deeply researched essays on the Kabbalah, including as
topics good and evil, the Shekhinah, the transmigration of
souls, and the astral body.]
Simon, Maurice & Sperling, Harry, "The Zohar", Bennet 1959 (also
recently reprinted by Soncino)
[A translation a major part of a key Kabbalistic text. Oh, that
Kaplan had lived long enough to translate The Zohar! You might
be better with Tishby's superb anthology of Zohar texts and
Suares, Carlos, "The Quabala Trilogy",Shambala,??
[Heavy going, but it can give you a good sense of what's going
on kabbalisticly in the Torah from a gematria perspective.]
Tishby, Isaiah, & Lachower, Yeruham Fishel, "The Wisdom of the Zohar"
Oxford University Press 1989
[An anthology of texts systematically arranged and rendered
into Hebrew by Fischel Lachower and Isaiah Tishby ; with
extensive introductions and explanations by Isaiah Tishby;
English translation by David Goldstein. An expensive three
volume set which contains a definitive translation of large
parts of the Zohar, the texts arranged by subject matter and
greatly clarified by a voluminous commentary and extensive
footnotes. An essential text.]
Waite, A.E., "The Holy Kabbalah", Citadel
[A large volume on Kabbalah by a key member of the Golden Dawn,
greatly diminished by Waite's verbose and circumlocutious
writing style. Scholem thought this book was the best example
of Kabbalistic commentary in the Hermetic camp, but personally
I find Arthwaite's prose style about as attractive as a patent
attorney's love letters.]
Zalewski, Pat, "Golden Dawn Kabbalah", Llewellyn, 1993
[Very good exposition of additional Golden Dawn material, and
some interesting thoughts]
Section 5: Information Available on the Internet
ftp.funet.fi has an ftp archive on various occult and magical
topics. Some material on Kabbalah can be found in
Ceci Heningsson (email@example.com) has created an ftp
archive of magical and occult material which is available via
anonymous ftp to pub/magick on ftp.lysator.liu.se.
rtfm.mit.edu has an archive from soc.culture.jewish in
A very useful reading list for Jewish Kabbalah and Jewish
Mysticism can be found in
Shawn Clayton Knight's WWW page is very good and references
many other WWW pages on
Useful information and discussion on Jewish sources and Judaism
in general can be found in soc.culture.jewish Information and
discussion on Kabbalah as a part of the framework for modern
(non-Jewish) ritual or ceremonial magic can be found in
alt.magick, a site which was once very active but which has
become a haven for Bible-Thumping cross-posts and individuals
who have opinions on every subject under the sun, and a burning
desire to air them.