Tree of Life

        This work was based on a series of lectures by Westcott to
        the Metropolitan Study Group (SRIA) which were published in
        London in 1910 by J.M. Watkins. –Soror S.J.

An Introduction to
The Study of The Kabalah


Students of literature, philosophy and religion who have any sympathy
with the Occult Sciences may well pay some attention to the Kabalah of
the Hebrew Rabbis of olden times; for whatever faith may be held by the
enquirer he will gain not only knowledge, but also will broaden his
views of life and destiny, by comparing other forms of religion with the
faith and doctrines in which he has been nurtured, or which he has
adopted after reaching full age and powers of discretion.

Being fully persuaded of the good to be thus derived, I desire to call
attention to the dogmas of the old Hebrew Kabalah. I had the good
fortune to be attracted to this somewhat recondite study, at an early
period of life, and I have been able to spare a little time in
subsequent years to collect some knowledge of this Hebrew religious
philosophy; my information upon the subject has been enlarged by my
membership of The Rosicrucian Society. Yet the Kabalistic books are so
numerous and so lengthy, and so many of them only to be studied in
Rabbinic Hebrew and Chaldee that I feel to-day less confident of my
knowledge of the Kabalah than I did twenty years ago, when this essay
was first published, after delivery in the form of lectures to a Society
of Hermetic Students in 1888. Since that date a French translation of
“The Zohar,” by Jean de Pauly, and a work entitled “The Literature and
History of the Kabalah,” by Arthur E. Waite, have been published, yet I
think that this little treatise will be found of interest to those who
have not sufficient leisure to master the more complete works on the

The Old Testament has been of necessity referred to, but I have by
intention made no references to the New Testament, or to the faith and
doctrines taught by Jesus the Christ, as the Saviour of the world: if
any desire to refer to the alleged reference in the Kabalah to the
Trinity, it will be found in the Zohar ii., 43, b.: and an English
version of the same in “The Kabbalah,” by C. D. Ginsburg.



It must be confessed that the origin of the Kabalah is lost in the mists
of antiquity; no one can demonstrate who was its author, or who were its
earliest teachers. Considerable evidence may be adduced to show that its
roots pass back to the Hebrew Rabbis who flourished at the time of the
Second Temple about the year 515 B.C. Of its existence before that time
I know of no proofs.

It has been suggested that the captivity of the Jews in Babylon led to
the formation of this philosophy by the effect of Chaldean lore and
dogma acting on Jewish tradition. No doubt in the earliest stages of its
existence the teaching was entirely oral, hence the name QBLH from QBL
to receive, and it became varied by the minds through which it filtered
in its course; there is no proof that any part of it was written for
centuries after. It has been kept curiously distinct both from the
Exoteric Pentateuchal Mosaic books, and from the ever-growing
Commentaries upon them, the Mishna and Gemara, which form the Talmud.
This seems to have grown up in Hebrew theology without combining with
the recondite doctrines of the Kabalah. In a similar manner we see in
India that the Upanishads, an Esoteric series of treatises, grew up
alongside the Brahmanas and the Puranas, which are Exoteric instructions
designed for the use of the masses of the people.

With regard to the oldest Kabalistic books still extant, a controversy
has raged among modern critics, who deny the asserted era of each work,
and try to show that the assumed author is the only person who could not
have written each one in question. But these critics show the utmost
divergence of opinion the moment it becomes necessary to fix on a date
or an author; so much more easy is destructive criticism than the
acquirement of real knowledge.

Let us make a short note of the chief of the old Kabalistic treatises.

The “Sepher Yetzirah” or “Book of Formation” is the oldest treatise; it
is attributed by legend to Abraham the Patriarch: several editions of an
English translation by myself have been published. This work explains a
most curious philosophical scheme of Creation, drawing a parallel
between the origin of the world, the sun, the planets, the elements,
seasons, man and the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet; dividing
them into a Triad, a Heptad and a Dodecad; three mother letters A, M,
and Sh are referred to primeval Air, Water and Fire; seven double
letters are referred to the planets and the sevenfold division of time,
etc.: and the twelve simple letters are referred to the months, zodiacal
signs and human organs. Modern criticism tends to the conclusion that
the existing ancient versions were compiled about A.D. 200. The “Sepher
Yetzirah” is mentioned in the Talmuds, both of Jerusalem and of Babylon;
it was written in the Neo-Hebraic language, like the Mishna.

The “Zohar” or” Sohar” spelled in Hebrew ZHR or ZUHR “The Book of
Splendour” or of/”/Light,” is a collection of many separate treatises on
the Deity, Angels, Souls and Cosmogony. Its authorship is ascribed to
Rabbi Simon ben Jochai, who lived A.D. 160; he was persecuted and driven
to live in a cave by Lucius Aurelius Verus, co-regent with the Emperor
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. Some considerable portion of the work may
have been arranged by him from the oral traditions of his time: but
other parts have certainly been added by other hands at intervals up to
the time when it was first published as a whole by Rabbi Moses de Leon,
of Guadalajara in Spain, /circa /1290*. *From that time its history is
known; printed Editions have been issued in Mantua, 1558, Cremona, 1560,
and Lublin, 1623; these are the three famous Codices of “The /Zohar” /in
the Hebrew language. For those who do not read Hebrew the only practical
means of studying the Zohar are the partial translation into Latin of
Baron Knorr von Rosenroth, published in 1684 under the title of “Kabbala
Denudata”; and the English edition of three treatises,–“Siphra
Dtzenioutha” or “Book of Concealed Mystery”; “Ha Idra Rabba,” “Greater
Assembly”; and “Ha Idra Suta,” ” Lesser Assembly,” translated by S. L.
MacGregor Mathers. These three books give a fair idea of the tone, style
and material of the Zohar but they only include a partial view: other
tracts in the Zohar are :–Hikaloth–The Palaces, Sithre
Torah–Mysteries of the Law, Midrash ha Neelam–The secret commentary,
Raja Mehemna–The faithful shepherd, Saba Demishpatim,–The discourse of
the Aged–the prophet Elias, and Januka–The Young man; with Notes
called Tosephta and Mathanithan.

In course of publication there is now a French translation of the
complete Zohar, by Jean de Pauly: this is a most scholarly work.

Other famous Kabalistic treatises are :– “The Commentary on the Ten
Sephiroth,” by Rabbi Azariel ben Menachem, 1200 A.D. ; “The Alphabet” of
Rabbi Akiba; ” The Gate of Heaven” ; the “Book of Enoch”; “Pardes
Rimmonim, or Garden of Pomegrantes”; “A treatise on the Emanations”;
“Otz ha Chiim, or The Tree of Life” of Chajim Vital; “Rashith ha
Galgulim, or Revolutions of Souls” of Isaac de Loria; and especially the
writings of the famous Spanish Jew, Ibn Gebirol, who died A.D. 1070*,
*and was also called Avicebron, his great works are “The fountain of
life” and “The Crown of the Kingdom.”

The teaching of the Kabalah has been considered to be grouped into
several schools, each of which was for a time famous. I may mention
:–The School of Gerona, 1190 to 1210*, *of Rabbi Isaac the Blind,
Rabbis Azariel and Ezra, and Moses Nachmanides. The School of Segovia of
Rabbis Jacob, Abulafia (died 1305), Shem Tob (died 1332), and Isaac of
Akko. The School of Rabbi Isaac ben Abraham Ibn Latif about 1390. The
School of Abulafia (died 1292) and Joseph Gikatilla (died 1300); also
the Schools of “Zoharists” of Rabbis Moses de Leon (died 1305), Menahem
di Recanti (died 1350), Isaac Loria (died 1572) and Chajim Vital, who
died in 1620. A very famous German Kabalist was John Reuchlin or Capnio,
and he wrote two great works, the “De Verbo Mirifico,” and “De arte

In the main there were two tendencies among the Kabalists: the one set
devoted themselves entirely to the doctrinal and dogmatic branch: the
other to the practical and wonder-working aspect.

The greatest of the wonder-working Rabbis were Isaac Loria, also called
Ari/; /and Sabatai Zevi, who curiously enough became a Mahommedan. Both
of these departments of Occult Rabbinic lore have their living
representatives, chiefly scattered individuals; very rarely groups of
initiates are found. In Central Europe, parts of Russia, Austria and
Poland there are even now Jews, known as Wonder-working Rabbis, who can
do strange things they attribute to the Kabalah, and things very
difficult to explain have been seen in England, at the hands of students
of Kabalistic rites and talismans.

The Rabbinic Commentaries, many series deep, overlaying each other,
which now exist in connection with the old treatises form such a mass of
Kabalistic lore as to make it an almost impossible task to grasp them;
probably no Christian nor Jew in this country can say what doctrines are
not still laid up in some of the old manuscript works.

/The Dogmatic/ or /Theoretical Kabalah /indicates philosophical
conceptions respecting the Deity, Angels and beings more spiritual than
man; the human Soul and its several aspects or parts; concerning
pre-existence and re-incarnation and the several worlds or planes of

/The Practical Kabalah/ attempts a mystical and allegorical
interpretation of the Old Testament, studying each phrase, word and
letter; it teaches the connection between letters and numbers and the
modes of their inter-relation; the principles of Gematria, Notaricon,
and Temura; the formation and uses of the divine and angelic names as
Amulets; the formation of Magic Squares; and a vast fund of allied
curious lore, which subsequently formed the basis of Mediaeval Magic.

For those who do not wish to read any Kabalistic work as a whole, but
rather to glean a general view of this philosophy, there are now three
standard works; two are in English; one by Dr. C. Ginsburg, 1865, a
formal and concise /résumé /of the doctrines; the other, an excellent
book, “The Doctrine and Literature of the Kabalah,” by Arthur E. Waite,
1902; and one in French by Adolph Franck, 1889, which is more discursive
and gives fewer details.

Many points of the teaching of Indian systems of religious philosophy
are not touched on by the Hebrew system, or are excluded by differences
of a fundamental nature: such as the Cosmogony of other Worlds, unless
the destroyed Worlds of Unbalanced Force refer to these; the
inviolability of law, as Karma, is not a prominent feature;
Reincarnation is taught, but the number of re-births is limited
generally to three.

Some small part of the Kabalistic doctrine is found in the Jewish
Talmud, but in that collection of treatises there is some grossness that
is absent from the true Kabalah; such are the theories of the debasement
of men into animal forms; and of men to be re-born as women, as a
punishment for earthly sins in a previous life.

It must be remembered that many points of doctrine are limited to the
teachings of but a few Rabbis; and that the differences between the
earliest and latest doctrines on a given point are sometimes very great,
as is shown by a comparison of the Books of the Rabbis of different eras
and schools. Some of the Kabalistic teaching has also never been printed
nor published, and has been handed down even to this day from master to
pupil only: there are some points not found in any Hebrew book, which I
myself have taught in the Rosicrucian Society and in Hermetic Lodges. An
attentive study of some of these old mystical Hebrew books discloses the
existence of intentional “blinds,” which appear to have been introduced
to confine certain dogmas to certain students fitted to receive them,
and to preserve them from promiscuous distribution and so from misuse by
the ignorant or vicious.

Two or three centuries have now passed since any notable addition to the
body of Kabalistic doctrine has been made, but before that time a long
succession of commentaries had been produced, all tending to illustrate
or extend the philosophical scheme.

As already said, when the Kabalah first took shape as a concrete whole
and a philosophic system, may remain for ever an unknown datum, but if
we regard it, as I believe is correct, as the Esotericism of the
religion of the Hebrews, the foundation dogmas are doubtless almost as
old as the first promulgation of the main principles of the worship of

I cannot now attempt any glance at the contentions of some doubting
scholars, who question whether the story of the Twelve Tribes is a
historic fact, or whether there ever were a Moses, or even a King
Solomon. It is sufficient for the present purpose that the Jewish nation
had the Jehovistic theology and a system of priestly caste, and a
coherent doctrine, at the time of the Second Temple when Cyrus,
Sovereign of all Asia, 536 B.C., holding the Jews in captivity,
permitted certain of them to return to Jerusalem for the express purpose
of reestablishing the Hebrew mode of worship which had been forcibly
interfered with by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C.

After this return to Jerusalem it was that Ezra and Nehemiah, /circa
/450 B.C., /edited /and /compiled /the Old Testament of the Hebrews, or
according to those who deny the Mosaic authorship and the Solomonic
/régime,/ it was then that they /wrote /the Pentateuch.

The renewed worship maintained until 320 B.C., when Jerusalem was
captured by Ptolemy Soter, who, however, did not destroy the foundations
of the Jewish religion; indeed his successor, Ptolemy Philadelphus,
caused the Hebrew scriptures to be revised and translated into Greek by
Seventy-two scholars, about 277 B.C.; this has been known for centuries
as the Septuagint version of the Old Testament.

Further Jewish troubles followed, however, and Jerusalem was again taken
and pillaged by Antiochus in 170 B.C. Then followed the long wars of the
Maccabees; subsequently the Romans dominated Judea, then quarrelling
with the Jews the city was taken by Pompey, and not long after was again
plundered by the Roman general Crassus in 54 B.C. Yet the Jewish
religion was preserved, and we find the religious feasts and festivals
all in progress at the time of Jesus; yet once more in A.D. 70, was the
Holy City taken, plundered and burnt, and that by Titus, who became
Emperor of the Romans in A.D. 79.

Through all these vicissitudes, the Hebrew Old Testament survived, yet
must almost unavoidably have had many alterations and additions made to
its several treatises; the more Esoteric doctrines which were handed
down along the line of the priestly caste, and not incorporated with the
Torah offered to the people, may no doubt have been repeatedly varied by
the influences of contending teachers.

Soon after this period was framed the first series of glosses and
commentaries on the Old Testament books, which have come down to our
times. Of these the earliest are the volume called the “Targum of
Onkelos” on “The Law,” written about A.D. 100, and that of Jonathan ben
Uzziel on “The Prophets.”

About A.D 141 there first came into note the now famous treatise written
by the Rabbis of Judah, called “Mishna,” and this formed the basis of
those vast compilations of Hebrew doctrine called the “Talmud,” of which
there are two extant forms, one compiled at Babylon-the most notable,
and the other associated with Jerusalem. To the original “Mishna” the
Rabbis added further commentaries named “Gemara.” From this time the
literature of Judaism grew apace, and there was a constant succession of
notable Hebrew Rabbis who published religious treatises, until at least
A.D. 1500. The two Talmuds were first printed at Venice in 1520 and 1523

The Old Testament books were the guiding light through the ages of the
Jews, but the learned Rabbis were not satisfied with them alone, and
they supplemented them by two parallel series of works of literature;
the one, Talmudic, being commentaries based upon Thirteen Rules of
Argument delivered by Moses to illustrate the Old Testament, and supply
material for teaching the populace; and the other a long series of
treatises of a more abstruse character, designed to illustrate their
Secret Doctrines and Esoteric views. The Sepher Yetzirah, and the Zohar
or Book of Splendour represent the kernel of that oral instruction which
the Rabbis of the olden times prided themselves upon possessing, and
which they have even claimed as being “The Secret Knowledge” which God
gave to Moses for the use of the priests themselves, in
contradistinction to the Written Law intended for the masses of the people.

One of the principal conceptions of the Kabalah is that spiritual wisdom
is attained by Thirty-two Paths, typified by the Ten numbers and the
Twenty-two letters; these Ten again being symbols of the Divine
Emanations, the Sephiroth, the Holy Voices chanting at the Crystal Sea,
the Great Sea, the Mother Supernal, Binah; and of the Twenty-two occult
forces of the Nature of the Universe symbolised by the Three primary
Elements, the Seven Planets, and the Twelve Zodiacal influences of the
heavens, which tincture human concerns through the path of our Sun in
its annual course. I have given the names and definitions of the
Thirty-two Paths at the end of my Edition of the” Sepher Yetzirah.”

Now to show the close connection between the Kabalah and orthodox
Judaism, we find the Rabbis cataloguing the Books of the Old Testament
into a series of Twenty-two (the letters) works to be read for the
culture of spiritual life; this Twenty-two they obtained from the
Thirty-nine books of the O.T. Canon, by collecting the twelve minor
prophets into one treatise; Ruth they added to Judges; Ezra to Nehemiah;
while the two books each of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, they called
one each. The Canon of Thirty-nine works was fixed in the time of Ezra.

Returning to the books which illustrate the Kabalah, whatever may be the
authenticity of their alleged origins, it cannot be denied that those
ancient volumes, Sepher Yetzirah and Zohar, contain a system of
spiritual philosophy of clear design, deep intuition and far-reaching
cosmologic suggestions; that are well worthy of the honour of receiving
a special name and of founding a theological body of doctrine,–The Kabalah.

The bulwark and main foundation of the public Hebrew religion has always
been the Pentateuch, five treatises attributed to Moses, which proclaim
the Laws of Jehovah given to his chosen people. The Old Testament
beginning with these five books is further continued by historic books,
by poetical teachings and by prophetic works, but many portions are
marked by materialistic characteristics and a lack of spiritual
rectitude which the books of a Great Religion might be expected to
display, and they even offend our present standard of moral life.

The Mosaic Law, eminently valuable for many purposes to a small nation
3,000 years ago, and containing many regulations of a type showing great
attention to sanitary matters, is yet marred by the application of
penalties of gross cruelty and harsh treatment of erring mortals, which
are hardly compatible with our modern views of what might have emanated
from God the personal Creator of this Universe with its million worlds;
and the almost entire absence of any reference to a life after death for
human beings shows a materialism which needed a new Revelation by Jesus,
whose life has earned the title of “Christ.” Yet the orthodox of England
hear this statement with incredulity, and if asked to show the passages
in the Old Testament which insist on a life after death, or on a
succession of lives for purposes of retribution, or the passages
demonstrating the immortality of the soul, they could not produce them,
and are content to refer you to the clergy, whose answer generally is,
“If not plainly laid down, these dogmas are implied.” But are they? If
they are, how is it that notably clear passages can be quoted which show
that important authors in the Old Testament make statements in direct
opposition to these doctrines? And how is it, again, that a great author
of modern times has said, “Prosperity was the blessing of the Old
Testament for good works, but adversity that of the New”? This could
only be true if there were no future life or lives, or no coming period
of reward and punishment contemplated by the Old Testament doctrine.

But the comment is true and the Old Testament does teach that man is no
more immortal than the beast, as witness Ecclesiastes, iii. 19 :–“For
that which befalleth the sons of men, befalleth beasts; even one thing
befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea they have all
one breath; so that man hath no pre-eminence above a beast: for all is
vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust
again. . . . Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than
that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for
who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?” Who, indeed, except
his own Ego, Soul or Higher Self.

But perhaps this book is from the pen of some obscure Jew, or half pagan
Chaldee or Babylonian. Not at all: Jewish critics have all assigned it
to Solomon, who was the King of the Jews at the time of their heyday of
glory; surely if the immortality of the soul were the essence of the
Judaism of the people, Solomon could not have so grossly denied it.

Go back, however, to the narrative of Creation in Genesis, and the same
story is found; the animals are made from the dust, man is made from the
dust, and Eve is made from Adam, and each has breathed into the form,
the “Nephesh Chiah,”–the breath of life, vitality; but there is no hint
that Adam received a Ray of the Supernal Mind, which was to dwell there
for a time, to gain experience, to receive retribution, and then enter
another stage of progress, and achieve a final return to its Divine
source. And yet the authors of these volumes, whoever they were, could
hardly have been without the conception of the higher part of man, of
his Spiritual Soul. The critical contention is that the Old Testament
was deprived at some period of its religious philosophy, which was set
apart for a privileged class; while the husk of strict law and tradition
was alone offered for the acceptance of the people. The kernel of
spiritual philosophy which is lacking in the Old Testament as a
religious book may be the essential core of the Kabalah; for these
Kabalistic dogmas are Hebraic, and they are spiritual, and they are
sublime in their grandeur; and the Old Testament read by their light
becomes a volume worthy of thc acceptance of a nation. I speak of the
essentials of the Kabalah, the ancient substratum of the Kabalah. I
grant that in many extant treatises these primal truths have been
obscured by generations of editors, by visionary and often crude
additions, and by the vagaries of Oriental imagery; but the keynotes of
a great spiritual Divine concealed Power, of its Emanations in
manifestation, of its energising of human life, of the prolonged
existence of human souls, and of the temporary state of corporeal
existence, are fundamental doctrines there fully illustrated; and these
are the points of contact between the Kabalah of the Jew and the
so-called Esotericism of the teachings of Buddha and of Hinduism.

It may be that the Catholic Church, from which the Protestant Church
seceded, was from its origin in the possession of the Hebrew Rabbinic
secret of the intentional Exoteric nature of the Bible, and of a
priestly mode of understanding the Esoteric Kabalah, as a key to the
true explanations of the Jewish books, which being apparently histories
are really largely allegorical. If this were granted, it would explain
why the Catholic Church has for ages discouraged the laity from the
study of the Old Testament books, and would lead us to think that
Protestantism made a mistake in combining with the Reformation of a
vicious priesthood the encouragement of the laity to read the Old
Testament books.

I note that the /literal /interpretation of the Mosaic books and those
of the Old Testament generally has repeatedly been used as a support for
vicious Systems of conduct; a notable example of which was seen even a
hundred years ago, when the clergy of Protestant nations almost
unanimously supported the continuance of the Slave Trade from arguments
derived from the laws of Jehovah as stated to have been compulsory upon
the Jews.

The Freethinkers of that day were largely the champions of suffering and
oppressed races, and for centuries the wisest of men, the greatest
scientists have maintained, and ever won, struggle after struggle with
the assumed infallibility of old Hebraic Testament literal instructions,
assertions and narratives.

The Old Testament may indeed be, to some extent, the link which binds
together thousands of Christians, for Jesus the Christ founded His
doctrine upon a Jewish people, but the interminable list of Christian
sects of to-day have almost all taken their rise from the assertion of a
right of personal interpretation of the Bible, which might have remained
debarred to the generality by the confession that the keys of
interpretation were lost, or at least missing, and that without their
assistance error of a vital character was inevitable.

The vast accumulation of varying interpretations of the Bible, although
a folly, yet sinks into insignificance as an incident of importance,
before the collateral truth that the followers of each of the hundreds
of sects have arrogated to themselves, not only the right of personal
interpretation, but the duty of condemning all others–as if the
infallibility they claimed for the Bible could not fail to be reflected
upon their personal propaganda, or the specialities of a chapel service.
Religious intolerance has cursed every village of the land, and hardly a
single sect has originated which has not only claimed the right to
differ from others, and to criticise, but also to persecute and assign
to perdition all beyond its own narrow circle.

The Mystic, the Occultist and the Theosophist do indeed do good, or God,
service, by illustrating the bases and origins of all faiths by the
mutual illumination that is available. By tolerance and mutual esteem
much good may arise, but by the internecine struggles of religionists,
every faith is injured, and religion becomes a by-word meaning
intolerance, strife and vainglory, and the mark and profession of an
earnest sectarian is now that he is ever ready to condemn the efforts of
others, in direct opposition to the precept of Jesus the Christ, Who
said–“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

One sect of the Jews, the Caraites, successors of the Sadducees,
throughout history rejected the Kabalah, and it is necessary to say here
that the Hebrew Rabbis of this country of the present day do not follow
the practical Kabalah, nor accept all the doctrines of the Dogmatic
Kabalah. On the other hand, many famous Christian authors have expressed
great sympathy with the Doctrinal Kabalah.

St. Jerome, who died in A.D. 420*, *in his “Letter to Marcella,” gives
us all the Kabalistic Divine Names allotted to the Ten Sephiroth. Others
were Raymond Lully, 1315; Pope Sixtus the Fourth, 1484; Pic de
Mirandola, 1494; Johannes Reuchlin, 1522; H. Cornelius Agrippa, 1535;
Jerome Cardan, 1576; Gulielmus Postellus, 1581; John Pistorius, 1608;
Jacob Behmen, 1624; the notable English Rosicrucian, Robert Fludd, 1637;
Henry More, 1687; the famous Jesuit Athanasius Kircher, 1680; and Knorr
von Rosenroth, 1689. To these must be added Eliphaz Lévi and Edouard
Schuré, two modern French writers on the Occult Sciences, and two
English authors, Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland. The notable German
philosopher Spinoza, 1677, regarded the doctrines of the Kabalah with
great esteem.


Let us take the Practical Kabalah before the Dogmatic; it may perhaps
have preceded the Theoretical Philosophy because it was at first
concerned with an intimate study of the Pentateuch; a research based
upon the theory that every sentence, word and letter were given by
Divine Inspiration and that no jot or tittle (the Yod the smallest
Hebrew letter) must be neglected. The Rabbis counted every word and
letter, and as their numbers were represented by their letters, they
counted the numeration of all God names and titles, and all proper
names, and the numeration of the phrases recording Divine commands.

The Hebrew letters and numbers were :–

Aleph Beth Gimel Daleth Heh Vau Zain Cheth
A B G D H U,or V Z Ch
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Teth Yod Kaph Lamed Mem Nun Samech Oin
Th I, J, or Y K L M N S O
9 10 20 30 40 50 60 70

Peh Tzaddi Qoph Resh Shin Tau
P Tz Q R Sh T
80 90 100 200 300 400

There were also several final letters, final K, 500; final M, 6oo; final
N, 700; final P, 8oo; and final Tz, 900. Note that the Divine Name Jah,
JH, numbered 15, and so in common usage the number 15 was always
represented by 9 and 6, ThV, Teth and Vau.

The Kabalistic Rabbis granted the natural meaning of the words of the
“Torah” or Law books of the Old Testament as a guide to a knowledge of
proper conduct in life and as a proper reading for the Synagogue and
home but they claimed that each verse and narrative, each law and
incident, had also a deeper and concealed meaning of a Mystical
character to be found by their calculations, conversions, and
substitutions, according to their rules of Gematria, Notaricon, and
Temura: the first name is of Greek origin, the second from the Latin,
but the third was Hebrew and meant /permutation/, TMURH, from the root

The most famous Rabbi of the Seventeenth century named Menasseh ben
Israel, compared the Books of Moses to the body of a man, the
commentaries called Mishna to the soul, and the Kabalah he called the
Spirit of the soul: “ignorant people may study the first, the learned
the second, but the wisest direct their contemplation to the third”; he
called the Kabalists,–divine theologians possessed of thirteen rules by
which they are enabled to penetrate the mysteries with which the
Scriptures abound.

Many Kabalists claimed that their doctrines and methods were brought
down from Heaven by Angels to primeval man, and they all believed that
the First Four Books of the Pentateuch enshrined their peculiar
doctrines as well as narrated histories and laid down laws.

The Zohar says :–If these books of the Torah contain only the tales of,
and the words of Esau, Hagar, Laban and Balaam, why are they called–The
Perfect Law, The Law of Truth, The True Witness of God?–there must be a
hidden meaning. “Woe be to the man who says that The Law (/Torah/)
contains only common sayings and tales: if this were true we might even
in our time compose a book of doctrine which would be more respected.
No, every word has a sublime sense, and is a heavenly mystery. The Law
resembles an angel: to come down on earth a spiritual angel must put on
a garment to be known or understood here, so the Law must have clothed
itself in a garment of words as a body for men to receive; but the wise
look within the garments.”

At some periods both the ordinary Jew and even Christian Fathers have
made a somewhat similar declaration of a /literal/ and a /mystical
/meaning of scripture. The Talmud in book “Sanhedrin” remarks that
Manasseh King of Israel asked whether Moses could not relate something
of more value than tales of Timnah a concubine, and Rachel with her
mandrakes, and he is answered that there is a concealed meaning in these

The Christian Father Origen (A.D. 253), in his “Homilies,” wrote that
everybody should regard these stories, the making of the world in six
days, and the planting of trees by God,–as figures of speech under
which a recondite sense is concealed. Origen granted a Three-fold
meaning,–somatic, psychic, and pneumatic; or the body of scripture, its
soul and its spirit.

Nicholas de Lyra who died in 1340 accepted four modes of interpretation;
literal, allegoric, moral, and anagogic or mystical.

In this he nearly follows the scheme of the Zohar ii. 99: in which
paragraph there is a parable comparing the Sacred Law to a woman in love
who reveals herself to her friend and beloved: first by signs, /ramaz/;
then by whispered words, /derush/; then by converse with her face
veiled, /hagadah/; and at last she reveals her features and tells all
her love, this is /sod/, association in secret, a mystery.

The late Dr. Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland were notable Kabalists
who always insisted on the concealed meanings underlying the ordinary
sense of the old Hebrew writings; and the late H. P. Blavatsky used to
declare that the truly ancient texts of ancient religions were
susceptible of explanations on seven planes of thought.

The Kabalists discovered deep meanings in each Hebrew letter, common and
finals, and found secrets in large letters, misplaced letters and in
words spelled in unusual manners. At different times they represented
God by an Aleph, A; or by a Yod, I; or by a Shin; or by a Point; or by a
Point within a circle; or even by a Triangle; and by a Decad of ten yods.

GEMATRIA was a mode of interpretation by which a name or word having a
certain numerical value was deemed to have a relation with some other
words having the same number; thus certain numbers became representative
of several ideas, and were considered to be interpretative one of the
other. For example, Messiah spelled, MShICh, numbered 358, and so does
the phrase IBA ShILH, Shiloh shall come; and so this passage in Genesis
49 V. 10, was considered to be a prophesy of the Messiah: note that
/Nachash/, NChSh, the Serpent of Moses, is also 358. The letter Shin,
Sh, 300, became an emblem of divinity by corresponding with Ruach
Elohim, RUCh ALHIM, the Spirit of the Living God.

NOTARICON, or abbreviation, is of two forms; one word is formed from the
initial and final letters of one or more words; or the letters of one
name are taken as the initials or finals of the words of a sentence. For
example, in Deut. 30 V. 12, Moses asks, Who shall go up for us to
Heaven? The initial letters of the original words MI IOLH LNV HShMILH,
form the word MILH, /mylah/, which word means circumcision, and the
final letters are IHVH, the name Jehovah: hence it was suggested that
circumcision was a feature of the way to God in heaven.

Amen, AMN is from the initials of /Adonai melekh namen/. “The Lord and
faithful king”; and the famous Rabbinic word of power used for talismans
AGLA is formed of the initials of the words “Ateh gibur leolam Adonai,”
“The Lord ever powerful,” or /Tu potens in saeculum Dominine./

TEMURA is a more complex procedure and has led to an immense variety of
curious modes of divination: the letters of a word are transposed
according to certain rules and with many limitations: or again, the
letters of a word are replaced by other letters as arranged by a
definite scheme, often shown in a diagram. For example, a common form
was to write one half of the alphabet over the other in reverse order,
and so the first letter A was replaced by the last T, and B by Shin, and
so on. On this plan the word /Sheshak/ of Jeremiah 25 v. 26, is said to
mean /Babel/: this permutation was known as ATBSh, /atbash/. On this
principle we find twenty-one other possible forms named in order Albat,
Abgat, Agdat: the complete set was called “The combinations of Tziruph.”
Other forms were /rational, right, averse/ and /irregular/, obtained
from a square of 22 spaces in each direction, that is of 484 secondary
squares, and then putting a letter in each square in order up and down,
and then reading across or diagonally, etc. Of this type is the
so-called “Kabalah of Nine Chambers” of the Mark Masons.

A further development of the numerical arts was shown by the modes of
Contraction and Extension; thus Jehovah, IHVH 26, was extended to
IVD-HA-VV-HA, and so 10, 5, 6, 5 or 26 became 20, 6, 12, 6 or 44. By
extension Zain, Z.7, became 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 or 28; or 28 was
regarded as 2 and 8 or 10. The Tetragrammaton, Jehovah 26 was also at
times regarded as 2 and 6 or 8: so El Shaddai, God Almighty, AL ShDI, 1,
30, 300, 4, 10, was 345 and then 12 and then 3, a Trinity. A quaint
conceit was that of the change of the spelling of the names of Abraham
and Sara: at first Abram ABRM and Sarai ShRI, became ABRHM and ShRH:
they were 100 and 90 years old and were sterile: now H, Heh, was deemed
of a fertile type, and so the letter H was added to ABRAM, and the Yod
I, converted into an H of the name Sarai.

In the very old “Sepher Yetzirah” is found the allocation of letters to
the planets; from this origin arose a system of designing talismans
written on parchment or engraved on brass or gems: as each planet had a
letter and a number, in regard to each was allotted a Magic Square of
lesser squares; thus for Jupiter 4 was the number and Daleth the letter,
and the Magic Square of Jupiter had 16 smaller squares within it; in
each a number 1 to 16, and so each line added up to 34 and the total of
numbers was 136.

Every Talisman duly formed bore at least one God name to sanctify it:
notable names were IH, Jah; ALH, Eloah; then IHVH; then the notable 42
lettered Name, which was really composed of others,–Aheie asher aheie
(I am that I am) Jah, Jehuiah, Al, Elohim, Jehovah, Tzabaoth, Al Chai
and Adonai.

The Shemhamphorash, or Separated Name, was a famous Word of Power; it
was formed of Three times 72 letters: the words of three verses, 19, 20
and 21 of Exodus XIV. were taken: the separated letters of verse 19 were
written down, then the letters of verse 20 in reverse order, then those
of verse 21 in direct order: this gave 72 Names read from above down,
each of 3 letters: to each was added either AL or IH, and so were formed
the names of the 72 Angels of the Ladder of Jacob which led from earth
to heaven: these names were often placed on the obverse and reverse of
medals or rolls of parchment to form 36 Talismans.

According to some Kabalists both King David and King Solomon were able
to work wonders with Kabalistic Magical Arts: The Pentagram was called
the Seal of Solomon, and the Hexagram was called the Shield of David; to
the points of the former were assigned the Spirit and Four Elements,
while to those of the latter were ascribed the Planets. The treatise
called “The Clavicules of King Solomon” is of course a mediaeval fraud.

The Hebrew letters are also associated with the Twenty-two Trumps of the
Tarot pack of cards; these cards have been much used for purposes of
divination. The Gipsies of Southern Europe use these cards for
Fortune-telling. The French author Court de Gebelin (1773-1782) declared
that these Trump cards as mystical emblems were derived from the magic
of Ancient Egypt. Occult Science allots each card to a Number, a Letter
and a natural object or force,-the Planets, Zodiacal signs, elements,
etc. “The Sanctum Regnum of the Tarot Trumps” edited by myself can be

Dr. Encausse of Paris, who writes under the pseudonym of “Papus,” has
also a work relating to the Tarots and gives a Kabalistic attribution of
the Trump cards which Rosicrucians consider to be erroneous.

So far as is known to me the practice of Kabalah as a Magical Art is now
almost restricted to Russian and Polish Rabbis, and to a few students of
occultism in this country, some of whom constantly wear a Kabalistic
talisman although they are Christians.


“The great doctrines of the Theoretical Kabalah,” says Ginsburg, “are
mainly designed to solve the problems of (/a/) the nature of the Supreme
Being, (/b/) the creation of the Universe and of our world, (/c/) the
creation of angels and man, (/d/) the destiny of the world and of men,
and (/e/) the import of the revealed law.”

The Kabalah confirms the following Old Testament declarations: the Unity
of God, His incorporeal form (Deut. chap. iv., v. 15.); eternity,
immutability, perfection and goodness; the origin of the world at God’s
will, the government of the Universe, and the creation of man after the
image of God. It seeks to explain by Emanations the transition from the
Infinite to the finite, the multitude of forms from a unity; the
production of matter from spiritual intelligence; and the relations
existing between Creator and creature. In this theosophy,–/ex nihil
nihilo fit/; spirit and matter are the opposite poles of one existence:
and as nothing comes from nothing, so nothing is annihilated.

The following seven Kabalistic ideals are of the greatest interest to
students of the origin and destiny of the world and mankind.

(1) That God, the Holy One, the Supreme Incomprehensible One, the AIN
SUPh, the Greek /apeiros/, (Zohar iii. 283) was /not /the direct Creator
of the World; but that all things have proceeded from the Primordial
Source in successive Emanations, each one less excellent than the
preceding, so that the universe is ‘God Manifested,’ and the last and
remotest production is matter, a privation of perfection.

(2) That all we perceive or know of, is formed on the Sephirotic type.

(3) That human souls were pre-existent in an upper world before the
origin of this present world.

(4) That human souls before incarnation dwell now in an Upper Hall, or
Treasury where the decision is made as to what earth body each soul or
ego shall enter.

(5) That every soul after earth life or lives must at length be so
purified as to be re-absorbed into the Infinite God.

(6) That one human life is seldom sufficient; that two earth lives are
necessary for almost all to pass; and that if failure result in the
second life, a third life is passed linked with a stronger soul who
draws the sinner upward into purity: this is a form of the scheme of
Re-incarnation, Transmigration of souls, or Metempsychosis.

(7) That when all the pre-existent Souls who have been incarnated here
have arrived at perfection, the Evil Angels are also to be raised, and
all lives will be merged into The Deity by the Kiss of Love from the
Mouth of the Holy One, and the Manifested Universe shall be no more,
until again vivified by the Divine FIAT.

It has been suggested by some learned authors that these Kabalistic
ideas resemble those of the Alexandrian philosophy and of the Gnostics,
embodying notions derived from the Pythagoreans, the Platonists and from
Indian Brahmanism and Buddhism.

Let us more fully consider the conceptions of the Divinity. Isaac Myer
writes :–God may be regarded from four points of view; as the Eternal
One, or AIN SUP, Ain Suph; as AHIH, Aheie, I am; as IHVH, Who was, is
and will be; and as ALHIM, Elohim, God in Nature, called Adonai or Lord.

In the English Old Testament the word IHVH is translated Lord, and
Elohim by God: Boutell calls Jah a contraction of Jehovah.

The Jehovah of the Old Testament,–as a tribal Deity of personal
characteristics, demonstrating His power and glory to a chosen people;
oppressing other nations to do them service, and choosing as His special
envoys and representatives men whom our civilisation would have
condemned as not high enough for Spiritual power, is not represented in
the Hebrew Secret Doctrine.

The Kabalah, indeed, is full of Jehovah, IHVH, the Divine Four-Lettered
Name, the Tetragrammaton, but it is as the Name of a group of Divine
Conceptions, of Emanations from a central Spiritual Light whose presence
alone is postulated; from Absolute God there is a series of Emanations
extending downward to reach Jehovah, Who is the Divine One of Binah, the
Supernal Mother; other stages of Emanation lead to The Elohim, the group
of Holy Spiritual attributes, associated with the Sixth Sephira, the Sun
of Tiphareth.

After another manner, Jehovah is the group of the Emanations from the
Deific source, called the Ten Sephiroth, “The Voices from Heaven.” These
Ten Sephiroth, of which the First is a condensation of the Supernal
Glory from the Ain Suph Aour, the Boundless Light, appear as a Rainbow
of the Divinity in a First World, or highest plane above human
conception, that of Atziluth; by successive reflections, diminishing in
brightness, a plane is reached which is conceivable by man, as of the
purity of his highest spiritual vision. The grouping of the Ten Divine
Qualities, upon this plane, into a Divine Tetrad, is symbolised by Yod
Heh Vau Heh, the Tetragrammaton, the Kabalistic Jehovah, not the Yahveh
of the exoteric books, but the original of that God, whose reflections
of a nation’s patron is formulated in the Old Testament: it is “The
Ineffable Name,” never pronounced, its true sound is lost, and the Jew
replaces it by Adonai, ADNI; it is unpronounceable because its real
vowels are unknown; it ceased to be spoken before the vowel points were
introduced. (Note;–there are no extant Hebrew works with vowel points
earlier than the tenth century.–A. E. WAITE.)

We find that the Kabalah contemplates a period when Chaos existed, a
period of repose and absence of manifestation, when the Negative reigned
supreme: this is the Pralaya of the Hindoos. From passivity there
proceeded action by Emanations, and Manifested Deity arose. From Ain,
repose, the Negative, proceeded Ain Suph, the No-Bound, the Limitless,
the Omnipresence of the Unknowable; still condensing into manifestation
through Emanation, there appears the Ain Suph Aur, “The Boundless
Light,” which coalescing on a point appears as Kether, the Crown of
Manifestation. Thence follow the Sephiroth, the Holy Voices, upon the
Highest World; they concentrate into a divine conception, a stage of
Spiritual existence which man attempts to grasp, and by defining, to
limit, bound and describe, and so creates for his worship a Divine
personality, his God; and the Jew named Him, –Jehovah.

By gradual stages of development, each farther from the source, there
arise the powers and forces which have received the names of Archangels,
Angels, Planetary Spirits, and the guardians of man; still farther from
God, we obtain the human Souls, which are as Sparks of Light, struck off
from the insupportable Light of Divinity, which have been formulated
into Egoity to pass through a long series of changes and experiences by
which they make the circuit of a Universe; they endure every stage of
existence, of separation from the Divine fountain, to be at last once
more indrawn to the Godhead, The Father, whence they emerged upon a
pilgrimage; they follow a regular succession of evolution and
involution, even as the Divine passes ever along in successive periods
of outbreathing and inbreathing, of Manifestation and of Repose.

Of Divine Repose, or Chaos, the human intellect can form no conception,
and only the highly spiritual man can conceive any of the sublime and
exalted stages of Manifestation. To the worldly man such notions are but
dreams, and any attempt to formulate them leads only to suspicions of
one’s sanity. To the metaphysician these ideals supply a theme of
intense interest; to the theosophist they supply an illustration drawn
from a foreign source of the Spiritual traditions of a long-past age,
which lead one to accept the suggestion that these Spiritual conceptions
are supplied from time to time by a Great Mind of another stage of
existence from our own. Perhaps they are remnants of the faiths and
wisdom of a long-vanished era, which had seen the life-history of races
more spiritual than our own and more open to converse with the Holy Ones
of higher Spiritual planes. Spiritual wisdom can only be attained by the
man, or earthly being who becomes able to reach up to the sphere above;
a Spiritual Being above us cannot reach down and help those who do not
so purify themselves that they may be fit to rise up to the higher
planes of existence.

The chief difficulty of the beginner as a student of the Kabalah, is to
conquer the impressions of the reality and materiality of so-called
/matter/. The Kabalah teaches that one must entirely relinquish the
apparent knowledge of matter as an entity apart from Spirit. The
assertion that matter exists, and is an entity entirely different from
Spirit, and that Spirit–the God of Spirits–created it, must be denied,
and the notion must be torn out by the roots before progress can be
made. If matter exists, it is something, and must have come from
something; but Spirit is not a thing, and creative Spirit, the highest
Spiritual conception, could not make matter, the lowest thing, out of
nothing: hence it is not made, and hence there is no matter. All is
Spirit and conception. /Ex nihilo nihil fit/. All that does exist can
only have come from Spirit, from Divine Essence. That Being should arise
from non-being is impossible. That matter should create itself is
absurd; matter cannot proceed from Spirit; the two words mean that the
two ideas are entirely apart; then matter cannot exist. Hence it follows
that what we call matter is but an aspect, a conception, an illusion, a
mode of motion, a delusion of our physical senses.

Apart from the Kabalah, the same truth has been recognised by a few
exceptional Christians and Philosophers. What is commonly known as the
“Ideal Theory” was promulgated 140 years ago by Berkeley, Bishop of
Cloyne in Ireland; it is nearly identical with the Kabalistic doctrine
of all things being but Emanations from a Divine source, and matter but
an aspect. Other philosophers have discussed the same theory in the
controversy of Nominalism /versus/ Realism: does anything exist except
in name? Is there any substratum below the name of anything? Need we
postulate any such basis? All is Spirit,–says the Kabalah,–and this is
eternal, uncreated; intellectual and sentient on our plane; inhering are
life and motion; It is self-existing, with succesive waves of action and
passivity. This Spirit is the true Deity, or Infinite Being, the “Ain
Suph,” the Cause of all causes, and of all effects. All emanates from
“That,” and is in “That.” The Universe is an immanent offspring of the
Divine, which is manifested in a million forms of differentiation. The
Universe is yet distinct from God, even as an effect is distinct from a
cause; yet it is not apart from Deity, it is not a transient effect, it
is immanent in the Cause. It is God made manifest to Man. Matter is our
conception alone; it represents the aspect of the lowest manifestation
of Spirit, or Spirit is the highest manifestation of matter. Spirit is
the only substance. “Matter,” says a Kabalist, “is the mere residuum of
emanation, but little above non-entity.” The Hindoo philosopher called
matter a /Maya/, a delusion.

As already remarked the Supreme Being of the Kabalah is found to be
demonstrated in more than one aspect. At one time the Inconceivable
Eternal Power proceeding by successive Emanations into a more and more
humanly conceivable existence, formulating His attributes into
conceptions of Wisdom, Beauty, Power, Mercy and Governance; exhibiting
these attributes first in a supernal universality beyond the ken of all
spirits, angels and men, the First Word of Atziluth; then formulating a
reflection of the same exalted essences on the plane of the Pure Spirits
also inconceivable to man, the Second Word of Briah. Again is the
reflection repeated, and the Divine Essence in its group of exalted
attributes is cognisable to the Angelic Powers, the Third or Yetziratic
World; and then finally the Divine abstractions of the Sacred Ten
Sephiroth are by a last Emanation still more restricted and condensed
than the latter, and are rendered conceivable by the Human intellect;
for man exists in the Fourth World of Assiah in the shadow of the Tenth
Sephira–the Malkuth, or Kingdom of the World of Shells or material
objects. Small wonder then at the slightness of the ideal man can form
of the Divine.

At other times we find the metaphysical abstract laid aside, and all the
wealth of Oriental imagery lavished on the description of God; imagery
although grouped and clustered around the emblem of an exalted humanity,
yet so inflated, so extravagantly magnified, that the Heavenly man is
lost sight of in the grandeur and tenuity of the word painting of the
Divine portrait. Divine anthropomorphism it may be, but an
anthropomorphism so tenuous by means of its grandeur, that the human
elements affording the bases of the analogy quite disappear in the
Heavenly Man of their divine reveries.

Permit me to afford to you an example of one sublime, deific dream:-

“In this conformation He is known; He is the Eternal of the Eternal
ones; the Ancient of the Ancient ones; the Concealed of the Concealed
ones; in His symbols He is knowable although He is unknowable. White are
His garments, and His appearance is as a Face, vast and terrible in its
vastness. Upon a throne of flaming brilliance is He seated, so that he
may direct its flashing Rays. Into many thousand worlds the brightness
of His face is extended, and from the Light of this brightness the just
shall receive worlds of joy and reward in the existence to come. Within
His skull exist daily a thousand myriads of worlds; all draw their
existence from Him, and by Him are upheld. From that Head distilleth a
Dew, and from that Dew which floweth down upon the worlds, are the dead
raised up in the lives and on the worlds to come.”

The God of the Kabalah is “Infinite Existence”: He cannot be defined as
the “Assemblage of Lives,” nor is he truly the “totality of his
attributes.” Yet without deeming all lives to be of Him, and His
attributes to be universal, He cannot be known by man. He existed before
He caused the Emanations of H is essence to be demonstrated, He was
before all that exists is, before all lives on our plane, or the plane
above, or the World of pure Spirits, or the Inconceivable existence; but
then He resembled nothing we can conceive, and was /Ain Suph/, and in
the highest abstraction /Ain/, alone, Negative Existence. Yet before the
manifest became demonstrated, all existence was /in/ him; the Known
pre-existed in the Unknown, Who is the “Ancient of Days.”

But it is not this dream-like aspect of poetic phantasy exhibited in the
Kabalah that I can further bring to your notice. Let us return to the
Philosophic view of the attributes of Deity, which is the keynote of the
whole of the doctrine.

The primary human conception of God is then the Passive state of
Negative Existence AIN–not active; from this the mind of man passes to
conceive of AIN SUPh, of God as the Boundless, the Unlimited,
Undifferentiated, Illimitable One; and the third stage is AIN SUPh
AUR–Boundless Light, Universal Light–“Let there be Light” was
formulated, and “There was Light.” The Passive has put on Activity; the
Conscious God has awaked. Let us now endeavour to conceive of the
concentration of this effulgence, let us formulate a gathering together
of the rays of this illumination into a Crown of glorified radiance, and
we recognise KTR, Kether, the Crown, the First Sephira, First Emanation
of Incomprehensible Deity, the first conceivable attribute of immanent
manifested Godhead: also named ADM OILAH, Adam Oilah, The Heavenly Man,
and Autik Yomin, The Ancient of days. The devout Rabbi bows his head and
adores the sublime conception. He is represented in the Hebrew Old
Testament by the Divine Name AHIH, Aheieh, “I am ” (Exodus iii. v. 4).

The conscious God having arisen in His energy, there follow immediately
two further Emanations, the Trio shining in the symbol of a radiant
triangle. ChKMH, Chokmah, Wisdom, The King, with the Divine Name IH, Jah
is the Second Sephira; BINH, Binah, Understanding, The Queen, and the
Divine Name IHVH Jehovah is the Third Sephira,–the Supernal Triad” is

Then follow GDULH, Gedulah, also called CHSD, Chesed, Mercy, with the
Divine Name AL, El; and its contrast GBURH, Geburah, Severity, also
called Pachad, Fear, with the Divine Name ALH, Eloah; and the reflected
triangle is completed by the Sixth Sephira, the Sun, named TPART,
Tiphareth, or Beauty, with the name ALHIM Elohim; considered as a
triangle of reflection with the apex below. The third triangle may be
considered as a second reflection with the apex below; it is formed of
the seventh, eighth, and ninth Sephiroth; NTzCh, Netzach, Firmness or
Victory, with the name Jehovah Sabaoth; HUD, Hod or Hud, Splendour, with
the name Elohim Sabaoth; and ISUD, Yesod, Foundation, with the name AL
ChAI, El Chai.

Finally, all these ideals are resumed in a single form, the Tenth
Sephira, MLKUT, Malkuth, the Shekinah, the Kingdom, also sometimes
called Tzedek, Righteousness. The whole Decad form “Adam Kadmon,” “The
Archetypal Man,” and the wondrous OTz ChIIM, “Tree of Life.” In the
ancient figures of Adam Kadmon we see Kether, the Crown, over the
forehead; Chokmah and Binah are the two halves of the thinking brain;
Gedulah and Geburah are the organs of action, the right and left upper
limbs; Tiphareth is the heart and the vital organs of the chest; Netzach
and Hud are the lower limbs right and left; Jesod refers to the
digestive and reproductive organs and abdomen; and lastly Malkuth is
compared to the feet as a basis or foundation of man upon this earth or
lowest plane: see the plate of The Adam Kadmon, Archetypal Man, or The
First Adam.

These Triads were looked upon as formed of a Principle of Union and a
male and female potency, and thus a Balance, MTQLA, Methequela, exists.

Almost as old as the Kabalistic doctrine of the Sephiroth, the
Intelligences, or Emanations, are the peculiar forms in which they were
represented in diagrams which resume all Kabalistic ideas, and are
emblems of these views on every subject. Every Deific conception can be
thus demonstrated, and also the constitution of the Angelic Hosts, the
principles of Man’s Nature, the group of Planetary Bodies, the Metallic
elements, the Zigzag flash of the Lightning and the composition of the
sacred Tetragrammaton, the Mystical Jehovah, IHVH, Yod, Heh, Vau, Heh,
numbering 26. See Plates I., II., III., IV., V., and VI. This Decad of
Deific Emanations is to be conceived as first formulated on the Divine
First plane of Atziluth, which is entirely beyond our ken; to be
reproduced on the Second plane of pure Spirit, Briah; to exist in the
same Decad form in the world of Yetzirah, the Third or Formative plane;
and finally to be sufficiently condensed as to be cognizable by the
human intellect on the Fourth plane of Assiah, on which we seem to
exist. From our point of view we may regard the “Tree of Life” as a type
of many divine processes and forms of manifestation, but these are
symbols we use to classify our ideals, and we must not debase the divine
Emanations by asserting these views of the Sephiroth are real, but only
as conceivable by humanity.

For example, the Kabalah demonstrates the grouping of the Ten Sephiroth
into Three Pillars; the Pillar of Mercy, the Pillar of Severity, and the
Pillar of Mildness between them: these may also be associated with the
Three Mother Letters, A, M, Sh; Aleph, Mem and Shin. Then again by two
horizontal lines we may form three groups and consider these Sephiroth
to become types of the Three divisions of Man’s Nature, the
Intellectual, Moral, and Sensuous (neglecting Malkuth, the material
body), thus connecting the Kabalah with Mental and Moral Philosophy and
Ethics. By three lines again we consider the Sephiroth to be divisible
into Four Planes., upon each of which I have already said you must
conceive the whole Ten Sephiroth to be immanent. By a series of Six
lines we group them into Seven planes referable to the worlds of the
Seven Planetary powers, thus connecting the Kabalah with Astrology. (W.
Gorn Old has recently published a volume called “Kabalistic Astrology.”)

To each Sephira were allotted in Briah an especial Archangel, and in
Yetzirah an army of Angels; these connect the Kabalah with Talismanic
Magic. There is also a close relation between the old Kabalistic
theology and Alchymy; each Sephira of Assiah becomes the allegoric
emblem of one of the metals: and there is a special Rabbinic volume
named “Asch Metzareph” entirely concerned with Alchymy; its name in
English meaning is “Cleansing Fires.” (My English translation can be
obtained.) A. E. Waite in his work on the Kabalah states that Rabbi
Azariel ben Menachem in his “Commentary on the Sephiroth” allots a
particular colour to each one, but these do not agree with the colours
given in the Zohar, where we find Kether called colourless, Tiphareth
purple, and Malkuth sapphire-blue.

These Ten Sephiroth are thought of as being connected together by
“Paths,” Twenty-two in number, shown on the Diagram; they are numbered
by means of the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet, each of which being
equally a letter and a number. The 22 Trumps of the pack of Tarot cards
(Tarocchi) are also related to these Paths. The 22 Paths, added to the
10 Sephiroth form the famous “Thirty-two Ways” by which Wisdom descends
by successive stages upon Man, and may enable him to mount to the Source
of Wisdom by passing successively upward through these 32 Paths. This
process of mental Abstraction was the Rabbinic form of what the Hindoo
knows as Yoga, or the Union of the human with the Divine, by
contemplation and absorption of the mind in a mystical reverie.

Frequently quoted Kabalistic words are: Arikh Anpin, Makroprosopos, the
Vast Countenance which is a title of Kether the Crown, Deity Supreme;
Zauir Anpin, Mikroprosopos, the Lesser Countenance is the Central Sun,
Tiphereth, a conception that has something in common with that of the
Christian Christ, the Son of God. (The former was represented by a face
in profile, the latter by the full face. M. Mathers). Binah is the
Supernal Mother, Aima. Malkuth is the Inferior Mother, the Bride of the
Mikroprosopos. Daath or Knowledge is the union of Chokmah and Binah, of
wisdom and understanding. Merkabah was the Chariot Throne of God of the
vision of Ezekiel mentioned in his chapters i. and x.; it rested on
wheels and was carried by Four Cherubim, the Sacred Animal Forms, which
resembled the Man, Lion, Bull and Eagle, which were related to the Four
quarters of the World, and to Four types of humanity.

The Four Letters Yod, Hé, Vau, Hé, or as we say IHVH, of the name we
call Jehovah, are allotted and distributed by the Kabalistic doctrine
among the Sephiroth in a peculiar manner, forming the mysterious
conception of the Tetragrammaton, that awful name of Divine Majesty
which might never be uttered by the common people, and whose true
pronunciation has been for many centuries confessedly lost to the Jews
and has never been known to the Christians. (See diagram.)

The views of the Kabalists on Cosmogony are not easy to explain, but as
before said the Supreme Boundless God, the “Ain Suph” was not the direct
Creator of the World, nor was the world made out of nothing.

The highest Trinity of “The Crown, King and Queen” having arisen by
Divine Emanation, its powers descended and expanded into the Seven Lower
Sephiroth, and produced the Universe in their own image, a decad of
forces, as a whole constituting the ADM QDMUN Adam Quadmun, or Adam
Kadmon, the Primordial or Archetypal Man; the world produced is the
existing Universe of which we have cognizance. The universe is called
the “Garment of God”: this lower world is a copy of the Divine World,
everything here has its prototype above. (Zohar ii. 20.)

Some Kabalistic treatises speak of earlier worlds created before the
conjunction of the Divine King and Queen; these perished in the void;
these lost worlds are referred to in Genesis 36, v. 31-40, as “The Kings
of Edom who reigned before Israel,” they are said to have perished one
after the other; these worlds were convulsed and were no more known.

Having considered the Divine Emanations, and the origin of the Universe,
I must refer to the spiritual beings of the Four Worlds. In the First
purest and highest World of Atziluth there dwell only the Primary Ten
Sephiroth of the Adam Oilah or Archetype, perfect and immutable.

In the Second World of Briah reside the Archangels headed by
/”Metatron”/ related to Kether, in solemn grandeur; He is the garment of
/Al Shaddai/, the visible manifestation of God; the Number of both is
314 (Zohar iii. 231a). The word Metatron meant “The Great Teacher.” It
has a curious resemblance to the Greek words /met thronon/, beside or
beneath the throne of God; but this derivation is fanciful. He rules the
other Archangels of the Universe, who govern in their courses all the
heavenly bodies, and the evolutions of the dwellers on them: He is,
according to the Kabalists, the efficient God of our Earth,–the Greek
Demiourgos. The other Arch-Angels are according to Macgregor Mathers,
Ratziel, Tzaphkiel, Tzadquiel, Kamael, Michael, Haniel, Raphael,
Gabriel, and Sandalphon.

In the Third World of Yetzirah are the Ten hosts of Angelic beings, a
separate class for each Sephira; they are intelligent incorporeal
beings, clothed in a garment of light, and are set over the several
heavenly bodies, the planets, over the elemental forces, and over
seasons, times, etc.; they are the officers of the great Arch-Angels.
The Hosts of Angels of the Sephiroth are Chaioth ha kodesh, Auphanim,
Arelim, Chashmalim, Seraphim, Melakim, Elohim, Beni Elohim, Cherubim,
and tenthly the Ishim who are the Beatified Souls of men and women.

The Fourth World of Assiah is filled with the lowest beings, the Evil
Demons, Kliphoth or Qliphoth, the /cortices/ or shells, and with all
so-called material objects, and to this world belong men, the Egos or
Souls imprisoned in earthly human bodies. This world also has its ten
grades, each one more far from the higher forces and forms, each one
more dark and impure. First come THU, Tohu, the Formless; and BHU, Bohu,
the Void, thirdly ChShK, the Darkness, of the early universe, and from
these our world was developed and now exists; then come seven hells,
whose dwellers are evil beings representing all human sins; their rulers
are Samael or Satan the angel of death, and Lilith, the Asheth Zenunim,
the Woman of whoredom, and this pair of demons are also called “The
Beast,” see Zohar ii. 255; Samael had also an incommunicable name, which
was IHVH reversed; for /Demon est Deus/ /inversus/.

The whole universe only became complete with the creation of Man, called
the Microcosm, the Earthly Adam; a copy of “The Archetypal Man” after
another manner; he has principles and faculties and forms comparable to
all the Sephiroth and Worlds, although his material body dwells on the
Assiatic plane.

From God, the Angels and the World, let us pass to consider more fully
what the Kabalah teaches about Man, the human Soul or Ego.

It has already been explained that the Doctrine of Emanation postulates
successive stages of the manifestation of the Supreme Spirit, which may
be regarded as existing on separate planes. Now the Ten Sephiroth
condense their energy into a formulated Four-parted group of Three
Spiritual planes, and a plane of so-called Objectivity, or of Matter.
These Ten Sephiroth, and the planes, each contribute an essence which in
their totality, in ever-varying proportion, constitutes Man. At his
origin there was formulated what the scientists might call “Archetypal
Man,” and what the Kabalists named Adam Kadmon, ADM QDMUN. Primeval Man,
the Greek /protogonos/. Successive stages of beings of this type pass
along the ages through a descending scale, offering the individual every
variety of experience, and then along an ascending scale of
re-development until human perfection is attained, and ultimate reunion
with the Divine is the result of the purified Soul having completed its

Before we consider Man in his present state we must note the views of
the Kabalah upon Man in his primal state.

Man was the final Word of Creation, he was a /résumé/ of all forms, and
so transcended the angels in his faculties. The first man had no fleshy
body, no material envelope: Adam and Eve were clothed only in ethereal
forms, and were not subject to appetites or passions, they dwelled in
Light in the GN OiDN, Garden of Aidin, of Eden, of pleasant peace (Zohar
ii. 229b). The man and the woman before their descent to this world were
as one,–androgynous; at incarnation they were separated into sexes. The
first human pair broke the first commandment, they sinned and were
doomed to a complete descent into matter; the Lord God made them “coats
of skin,” He gave them material bodies, and with these came the need of
food, and the passions required to bring forth a succession of earthly

Yet man is still the copy of God on earth; his form is related to the
Tetragrammaton of Jehovah IHVH, for in a diagram, Yod is as the head,
Heh the arms, Vau the body, and the final Heh the lower limbs: (see
Zohar ii. 42a). The first pair were tempted by Samael, the allegorical
Personality of the lower tendencies, which give the craving to
experience earth life and take a part in its continuous changes of force
and form. They did what they knew would imperil their purely psychic
existence, they sank fully into material forms, they took on the
grossness of Malkuth, and so were separated from the Sephirotic Tree,
from the Higher Potencies, which have no taint of matter. All matter is
ever changing its form, and so their bodies must be changed; their
bodies died, and so must the bodies of all incarnated Egos; at death the
personality passes away to a rest, and then to a further experience of
life, or to a sphere of punishment, or to a realm of bliss.

In their earthly forms they brought forth bodies like their own, and God
sent down other souls to dwell in them, to experience earth life, its
sins and sufferings; and to pass a probation by which they also might
fall, but yet may rise to regain a share of man’s lost estate and
finally to rise up through the Sephiroth to a reunion with the Divine

Remember that the Sephirotic Crown was First, then came Chokmah, a
masculine Potency, and then Binah, a feminine one; from their union
arose the created universe of angels, men and earth: but ‘as above so
below,’ so we have in Genesis a Man formed, then succeeds a Woman, and
from them all others.

In the ” Commentary on the Creation of Genesis,” still allegorical like
Genesis itself, it is stated :–“There is in Heaven a treasury called
GUP, /Guph/, and all the Souls which were created in the beginning, and
hereafter to come into this world, The Holy One placed therein: out of
this treasury The Holy One furnishes children in the womb with Souls.”

A further commentary in symbolic language narrates how The Holy One
perceiving a child’s body to be in formation, sends for a suitable Ego
to inhabit it.

“The Holy One, blessed be He, beckons to an Angel who is set over the
disembodied souls, and says to him, ‘Bring me such a soul’: and this is
being always done since the world began; the soul appears before the
Holy One and worships in His presence, to whom the Eternal One says :–
‘Betake thyself to this form.’ Instantly the soul excuses himself,
saying, ‘Oh Governor of the World, I am satisfied with the world in
which I have been so long: if it please Thee, do not force me into this
foul body, for I am a Spirit.’ The Holy One, blessed be He, answers:
‘The world I am about to send thee into is needed for thee, it is to
pass down through it that I formed thee from myself.’ And so the soul is
forced to incarnate and sink into the world where matter will imprison
him, where he must suffer, but where he may overcome and from whence he
must rise again. The Zohar adds the statement: “and whatever the man
learns and displays on earth life, he knew before his incarnation.”

This is a parallel doctrine to the Buddhist scheme of Re-incarnation
with Karma as God–eternal law, relentlessly compelling the individual
Ego to a new earth life.

Christian Ginsburg states that a “Transmigration of Souls” was the
belief of the Pharisees in the time of Josephus; and this dogma was held
by many Jews up to the ninth century of our era. The Caraite Jews have
accepted it ever since the seventh century. St. Jerome says it was a
doctrine of the early Christian Church taught only to a select few
believers, and Origen was of opinion that without transmigration, the
incidents of the struggle between Esau and Jacob before birth, Genesis
25, v. 22, and the reference to Jeremiah in the mother’s womb could not
be explained, Jer. i. 5.

The Kabalah then teaches that the Egos have come out from the Spirit
Fountain, suffer incarnation again and again until experience and
perfection have been attained, and ultimately rejoin the Divine Source:
Zohar i. 145, 168; ii. 97.

Now what is it that dwells for a time in this ‘Coat of Skin,” as Genesis
in chapter 3, v. 21, calls it, this so-called material body? It is a
Divine Spark, composed of several elements derived from the symbolic
Four Parts of Jehovah, and from Three Worlds, and these are seated in
the Fourth World of Effects, the Material Universe. Now it is no doubt
true that in the several Kabalistic schools, the numbers and names of
these Essences vary, but the basal idea remains the same: just in a
similar way the principles of Man’s constitution, as stated in different
Hindoo books, also vary, but the root idea is the same in them all.

The Human Principles may be stated as Three in a fourth–the body; or as
Five, recognising Astral form and material body; or as Seven,
subdividing the divine principle; or as Ten, comparable to the
Sephiroth. To explain these fully would take a long essay and would
require many Hebrew abstruse words, a difficulty to those who are unused
to them: two systems will suffice as an illustration.

From Yod, the /Je/ of Jehovah, comes the highest over-shadowing of the
Divine, comparable to the Âtmâ of the Indian philosophies. From Hé, the
ho of Jehovah, comes Neshamah, the Buddhi of the Hindoos, the spiritual
soul. From Vau, the v of Jehovah, comes Ruach, the Manas of the Hindoos,
Intellect and Mind. From the final Hé, the ah of Jehovah, is derived
Nephesh, the Kâma of the Hindoos, the appetites and passions. These are
all implanted in the Astral shell, which moulds the physical body, the
instrument which acts upon material objects.

The Human Soul is again conceived of as distributed through several
distinct forms of conscious manifestation related to the “Ten
Sephiroth”: the several Kabalistic treatises give several groupings,
which are all relevant one to the other, the most usual one being a
triple division, into Nephesh, the passions referred to Malkuth; Ruach,
the Mind, Reason, and Intellect referred to the group of Six Sephiroth
lying around the Sun of Tiphereth; and Neshamah, the spiritual
aspirations associated with the Supernal Triangle of the Queen, King and

These Human principles function upon Four Worlds,–Divine, Moral,
Intellectual and Emotional respectively: and either of these essences
may dominate a man, and they do, in fact, exist in constantly varying
proportions. The highest principle overshadows the others, and the
central ones may reach up to the higher; or by neglect of opportunities,
or by vicious actions, may fall lower and lower, so as to approximate to
the seeming matter of the body. As the Neshamah draws one to Spiritual
excellence, so the Nephesh leads down to physical enjoyment.

In another form of symbolism the Kabalist tells us a man has two
companions, or guides; one on the right, Yetzer ha Tob, to good acts, he
is from the higher Sephiroth; and one on the left, Yetzer ha Ra,
encouraging the appetites and passions, temptations to evil, is an agent
of Samael and of The Beast. Man is in a very unfortunate position
according to the Zohar 95 b, for it is there said that the Evil Angel
joins him at birth, but the Good Angel only at the age of 13 years.

As to Death, as we have already learned, the man’s Ego or Soul, unless
the life has been superexcellent, has to be re-born in another form, but
at death, as all religions agree, great changes occur. According to the
Kabalah, the visible material body, the /Guph/, decays, and the Animal
aspect of the soul, the /Nephesh/, only gradually fades away from it:
the /Ruach/, the Human aspect, passes away from the Assiatic plane, and
the /Neshamah/, the spiritual soul, returns to the Treasury of Heaven,
to the /Gan Oidin/, or of Paradise, perfected to a Spiritual world
beyond the plain of re-births. The “Sepher jareh chattaim” says that a
man is judged in the same hour in which he dies; for the Shekinah, a
Presence of the Divine One, comes near him, with three Angels, of whom
the chief is Dumah, the Angel of Silence: if the soul is condemned,
Dumah takes it to Gai-Hinnom, or hell, for a period of punishment before
the next incarnation; if approved, the Soul passes to an Oidin or
Heaven. In the end of the present manifestation of the Universe, all
souls will have become perfected by suffering, have been blessed in
Paradise, and will be in reunion with the God from Whom they came forth.

The Kabalistic theory of man’s constitution, origin and destiny is very
different from the modern Christian view, but differs from the Indian
schemes more in manner of presentation than in principle, and these two
may be fitly studied side by side and each will illuminate the other.
There is, indeed, no sharp line of cleavage between the Western mystic
doctrines, the Kabalism of the Middle Ages related to the Egyptian
Hermeticism, and the Indian Esoteric Theosophy. They differ in language
nomenclature, and in the imagery employed in the effort to represent
spiritual ideas to mankind; but there is no sufficient reason for any
condemnation of either school by any other. The world of intellectual
culture is wide enough for both to exist side by side, and the mere fact
that they are philosophic Systems in any way comprehensible to men is
evidence that either can be composed of pure and unveiled truth, for we
are still only able to see as in a glass darkly, and must make much
further progress before we can hope to see God face to face and know Him
as He is.

We must be content to progress, as students have ever done, by stages of
development; in each grade the primal truths are re-stated in a
different form; they are revealed or re-veiled in language and symbolism
suitable to the learner’s own mental condition; hence the need of a
teacher, of a guide who has traversed the path, and who can recognise by
personal communion the stage which each pupil has attained. There is no
royal or easy path to high attainment in Mysticism. Unwearied effort,
combined with purity of life, is of vital importance. The human
intellect can only appreciate and assimilate that which the mind’s eye
can at any time perceive. The process cannot be forced. Mystic lore
cannot be stolen. If any learner did appropriate the knowledge of a
Grade beyond him it would be to him but folly, disappointment and darkness.

Students have often been offered a doctrine, or assertion, or
explanation, which their intellect has rejected as absurd, or as sheer
superstition; which same dogma they have later in life assimilated with
every feeling of esteem. Occultism in this resembles Freemasonry; we are
either admitted to the hidden knowledge, or we are not; and if we are
not admitted, we never believe any secret of its ritual even if it be
offered to us. The secrets of Occultism are like Freemasonry; in truth
they are to some extent the secrets that Freemasonry has lost. They are
of their very nature inviolable; for they can only be attained by
personal progress; they might be plainly told to the outsider, and not
be understood by him. For if anyone has been able to divine and to grasp
such a secret, he will not tell it even to his dearest friend; for the
simple reason that if his friend is unable to divine it for himself, its
communication in mere words would not confer the hidden knowledge upon him.

The whole Kabalistic theories are of a nature similar to the secrets of
Freemasonry; there was much doctrine that was never written nor printed:
these works often describe imagery which seems folly, and contain
doctrines that at first seem absurd; yet they enshrine the highly
spiritual teachings which I have shortly outlined. The mere reading of
these volumes is of little avail; the spiritual eye needs to be opened
to see spiritual things; and the great Kabalists of old did not cast
pearls of wisdom before the ignorant or the vicious, nor suffer the
unclean to enter the Temple of Wisdom. The serious student must make
strenuous efforts to attain to the higher life of the True Occultism,
then perchance in a distant future, a record of temptations avoided, and
of a life of self-sacrifice may serve as Signs and Pass Words to secure
admission to the Palace of the Great King.