By S. L. MacGregor Mathers
NOTE: This is Mathers’ (1888) Introduction to his English translation of Knorr von Rosenroth’s Kabbalah Denudata or “The Kabbalah Unveiled” a somewhat optimistic title for a very complex piece of work. Rosenroth’s work, published in 1684, was itself a Latin translation from the original Hebrew–containing a number of books from the important Qabalistic text known as the Zohar. This early work of Mathers, published prior to the creation of the Golden Dawn, retains some ideas that are more consistent with the orthodox traditions (like the Zohar itself) rather than the later qabalistic developments of the G.D. For the main part, however, the principles contained herein are totally consistent with those of the Golden Dawn. – STC]
- The first questions which the non-qabalistical reader will probably ask are: What is the Qabalah? Who was its author? What are its sub-divisions? What are its general teachings? And why is a translation of it required at the present time?…
- I will answer the last question first. At the present time a powerful wave of occult thought is spreading through society; thinking men are beginning to awake to the fact that “there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in their philosophy;” and, last but not least, it is now felt that the Bible, which has been probably more misconstrued than any other book ever written, contains numberless obscure and mysterious passages which are utterly unintelligible without some key wherewith to unlock their meaning. THAT KEY IS GIVEN IN THE QABALAH. Therefore this work should be of interest to every biblical and theological student. Let every Christian ask himself this question: “How can I think to understand the Old Testament if I be ignorant of the construction put upon it by that nation whose sacred book it formed; and if I know not the meaning of the Old Testament, how can I expect to understand the New?” Were the real and sublime philosophy of the Bible better known, there would be fewer fanatics and sectarians. And who can calculate the vastness of the harm done to impressionable and excitable persons by the bigoted enthusiasts who ever and anon come forward as teachers of the people? How many suicides are the result of religious mania and depression! What farragos of sacrilegious nonsense have not been promulgated as the true meanings of the hooks of the Prophets and the Apocalypse! Given a translation of the sacred Hebrew Book, in many instances incorrect, as the foundation, an inflamed and an ill-balanced mind as the worker thereon, what sort of edifice can be expected as the result? I say fearlessly to the fanatics and bigots of the present day: You have cast down the Sublime and Infinite One from His throne, and in His stead have placed the demon of unbalanced force; you have substituted a deity of disorder and of jealousy for a God of order and of love; you have perverted the teachings of the crucified One. Therefore at this present time an English translation of the Qabalah is almost a necessity, for the Zohar has never before been translated into the language of this country, nor, as far as I am aware, into any modern European vernacular.
- The Qabalah may be defined as being the esoteric Jewish doctrine. It is called in Hebrew QBLH, Qabalah, which is derived from the root QBL, Qibel, meaning “to receive”. This appellation refers to the custom of handing down the esoteric tradition by oral transmission, and is nearly allied to “tradition”.
- As in the present work a great number of Hebrew or Chaldee words have to be used in the text, and the number of scholars in the Shemitic languages is limited, I have thought it more advisable to print such words in ordinary Roman characters, carefully retaining the exact orthography. I therefore append a table showing at a glance the ordinary Hebrew and Chaldee alphabet (which is common to both languages), the Roman characters by which I have expressed its letters in this work; also their names, powers, and numerical values. There are no separate numeral characters in Hebrew and Chaldee; therefore, as is also the case in Greek, each letter has its own peculiar numerical value, and from this circumstance results the important fact that every word is a number, and every number is a word. This is alluded to in Revelations, where “the number of the beast” is mentioned, and on this correspondence between words and numbers the science of Gematria (the first division of the so-called literal Qabalah) is based. I shall refer to this subject again. I have selected the Roman letter Q to represent the Hebrew Qoph or Koph, a precedent for the use of which without a following u may be found in Max Müller’s “Sacred Books of the East.” The reader must remember that the Hebrew is almost entirely a consonantal alphabet, the vowels being for the most part supplied by small points and marks usually placed below the letters. Another difficulty of the Hebrew alphabet consists in the great similarity between the forms of certain letters–e.g., V, Z, and final N.
- With regard to the author and origin of the Qabalah, I cannot do better than give the following extract from Dr. Christian Ginsburg’s “Essay on the Kaballah,” first premising that this word has been spelt in a great variety of ways–Cabala, Kabalah, Kabbala, etc. I have adopted the form Qabalah, as being more consonant with the Hebrew writing of the word.
- “A system of religious philosophy, or, more properly, of theosophy, which has not only exercised for hundreds of years an extraordinary influence on the mental development of so shrewd a people as the Jews, but has captivated the minds of some of the greatest thinkers of Christendom in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, claims the greatest attention of both the philosopher and the theologian. When it is added that among its captives were Raymond Lully, the celebrated scholastic metaphysician and chemist (died 1315); John Reuchlin, the renowned scholar and reviver of Oriental literature in Europe (born 1455, died 1522); John Picus de Mirandola, the famous philosopher and classical scholar (1463-1494); Cornelius Henry Agrippa, the distinguished philosopher, divine, and physician (1486-1535); John Baptist von Helmont, a remarkable chemist and physician (1577-1644); as well as our own countrymen, Robert Fludd, the famous physician and philosopher (1574-1637); and Dr. Henry More (1614-1687); and that these men, after restlessly searching for a scientific system which should disclose to them ‘the deepest depths’ of the divine nature, and show them the real tie which binds all things together, found the cravings of their minds satisfied by this theosophy, the claims of the Qabalah on the attention of students in literature and philosophy will readily be admitted. The claims of the Kabbalah, however, are not restricted to the literary man and the philosopher; the poet too will find in it ample materials for the exercise of his lofty genius. How can it be otherwise with a theosophy which, we are assured, was born of God in Paradise, was nursed and reared by the choicest of the angelic hosts in heaven, and only held converse with the holiest of man’s children upon earth. Listen to the story of its birth, growth, and maturity, as told by its followers.
- “The Kabbalah was first taught by God himself to a select company of angels, who formed a theosophic school in Paradise. After the Fall the angels most graciously communicated this heavenly doctrine to the disobedient children of earth, to furnish the protoplasts with the means of returning to their pristine nobility and felicity. From Adam it passed over to Noah, and then to Abraham, the friend of God, who emigrated with it to Egypt, where the patriarch allowed a portion of this mysterious doctrine to ooze out. It was in this way that the Egyptians obtained some knowledge of it, and the other Eastern nations could introduce it into their philosophical systems. Moses, who was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, was first initiated into the Qabalah in the land of his birth, but became most proficient in it during his wanderings in the wilderness, when he not only devoted to it the leisure hours of the whole forty years, but received lessons in it from one of the angels. By the aid of this mysterious science the law-giver was enabled to solve the difficulties which arose during his management of the Israelites, in spite of the pilgrimages, wars, and frequent miseries of the nation. He covertly laid down the principles of this secret doctrine in the first four books of the Pentateuch, but withheld them from Deuteronomy. Moses also initiated the seventy elders into the secrets of this doctrine, and they again transmitted them from hand to hand. Of all who formed the unbroken line of tradition, David and Solomon were the most deeply initiated into the Qabalah. No one, however, dared to write it down, till Schimeon Ben Jochai, who lived at the time of the destruction of the second temple…After his death, his son, Rabbi Eleazar, and his secretary, Rabbi Abba, as well as his disciples, collated Rabbi Simon Ben Jochai’s treatises, and out of these composed the celebrated work called ZHR, Zohar, Splendour, which is the grand storehouse of Kabbalism.”
The Qabalah is usually classed under four heads:
(a) The practical Qabalah.
(b) The literal Qabalah.
(c) The unwritten Qabalah.
(d) The dogmatic Qabalah.
- The practical Qabalah deals with talismanic and ceremonial magic, and does not come within the scope of this work..
- The literal Qabalah is referred to in several places, and therefore a knowledge of its leading principles is necessary. It is divided into three parts: GMTRIA. Gematria; NVTRIQVN, Notariqon, and ThMVRH, Temura.
- Gematria is a metathesis of the Greek work grammateia. It is based on the relative numerical values of words, as I have before remarked. Words of similar numerical values are considered to be explanatory of each other, and this theory is also extended to phrases. Thus the letter shin, Sh, is 300, and is equivalent to the number obtained by adding up the numerical values of the letters of the words RVCh ALHIM, Ruach Elohim, the spirit of the Elohim; and it is therefore a symbol of the spirit of the Elohim. For R=200, V=6, Ch=8, A=l, L=30, H=S, I=10, M=40; total=300. Similarly the words AChD, Achad, Unity, one, and AHBH, Ahebah, love, each=13; for A=1, Ch=8, D=4, total=13; and A=1, H=5, B=2, H=5, total=13. Again, the name of the angel MTTRVN, Metatron or Methraton, and the name of Deity, ShDI, Shaddai, each make 314; so the one is taken as symbolical of the other. The angel Metraton is said to have been the conductor of the children of Israel through the wilderness, of whom God says, “My Name is in him.” With regard to Gematria of phrases (Gen. xlix. 10), IBA ShILH, Yeba Shiloh, “Shiloh shall come” which equals 358, which is the numeration of the MShICh, Messiah. Thus also the passage, Gen. xviii. 2 VHNH ShLShH, Vehennna Shalisha, “And lo, three men,” equals in numerical value ALV MIKAL GBRIAL VRPAL, Elo Mikhael Gabriel VeRaphael, “These are Mikhael, Gabriel and Raphael;” for each phrase equals 701. I think these instances will suffice to make clear the nature of Gematria, especially as many others will be found in the course of the ensuing work.
- Notariqon is derived from the Latin word notarius, a short-hand writer. Of Notariqon there are two forms. In the first every letter of a word is taken for the initial or abbreviation of another word, so that from the letters of a word a sentence may be formed. Thus every letter of the word BRAShITh, Berashith, the first word in Genesis, is made the initial of a word, and we obtain from it BRAShITh RAH ALHIM ShIQBLV IShRAL ThVRH, Berashith Rahi Elohim Sheyequebelo Israel Torah: “In the beginning the Elohim saw that Israel would accept the law.” In this connection I may give six very interesting specimens of Notariqon formed from this same word BRAShITh by Solomon Meir Ben Moses, a Jewish Qabalist, who embraced the Christian faith in 1665, and took the name of Prosper Rugers. These have all a Christian tendency, and by their means Prosper converted another Jew, who had previously been bitterly opposed to Christianity. The first is BN RVCh AB ShLVShThM IChD ThMIM, Ben, Ruach, Ab, Shaloshethem Yechad Themim:- “The Son, the Spirit, the Father, Their Trinity, Perfect Unity.” The second is, BN RVCh AB ShLVShThM IChD ThOBVDV, Ben, Ruach, Ab, Shaloshethem Yechad Thaubodo: “The Son, the Spirit, the Father, ye shall equally worship Their Trinity.” The third is, BKVRI RAShVNI AShR ShMV IShVO ThOBVDV, Bekori Rashuni Asher Shamo Yeshuah Thaubodo: “Ye shall worship My first-born, My first, Whose Name is Jesus.” The fourth is, BBVA RBN AShR ShMV IShVO ThOBVDV, Beboa Rabban Asher Shamo Yesuah Thaubado: “When the Master shall come Whose Name is Jesus ye shall worship.” The fifth is, BThVLH RAVIH ABChR ShThLD IShVO ThAShRVH, Bethulah Raviah Abachar Shethaled Yeshuah Thrashroah: “I will choose a virgin worthy to bring forth Jesus, and ye shall call her blessed.” The sixth is, BOVGTh RTzPIM ASThThR ShGVPI IShVO ThAKLV, Beaugoth Ratzephim Assattar Shegopi Yeshuah Thakelo: “I will hide myself in cake (baked with) coals, for ye shall eat Jesus, My Body.” The Qabalistical importance of these sentences as bearing upon the doctrines of Christianity can hardly be overrated.
- The second form of Notariqon is that exact reverse of the first. By this the initials or finals, or both or the medials, of a sentence, are taken to form a word or words. Thus the Qabalah is called ChKMh NSThRH, Chokhmah Nesthorah, “the secret wisdom;” and if we take the initials of these two words Ch and N, we form by the second kind of Notariqon the word ChN, Chen, “grace.” Similarly, from the initials and finals of the words MI IOLH LNV HShMIMH, Mi Iaulah Leno Ha-Shamayimah, “Who shall go up for us to heaven?” (Deut. xxx. 12), are formed MILH, Milah “circumcision,” and IHVH, the Tetragrammaton, implying that God hath ordained circumcision as the way to heaven.
- Temura is permutation. According to certain rules, one letter is substituted for another letter preceding or following it in the alphabet, and thus from one word another word of totally different orthography may be formed. Thus the alphabet is bent exactly in half, in the middle, and one half is put over the other; and then by changing alternately the first letter or the first two letters at the beginning of the second line, twenty-two commutations are produced. These are called the “Table of the Combinations of TzIRVP,” Tziruph. For example’s sake, I will give the method called ALBTh, Albath. thus:
Each method takes its name from the two pairs composing it, the system of pairs of letters being the groundwork of the whole, as either letter in a pair is substituted for the other letter. Thus, by Albath, from RVCh, Ruach, is formed DTzO, Detzau. The names of the other twenty-one methods are: ABGTh, AHDTh, ADBG, AHBD, AVBH, AZBV, AchBZ, ATBCh, AIBT, AKBI, ALBK, AMBL, ANBM, ASBN, AOBS, APBO, ATzBP, AQBTz, ARBQ, AShBR, AThBS. To these must be added the modes ABGD and ALBM. Then comes the “Rational Table of Tziruph,” another set of twenty-two combinations. There are also three “Tables of the Commutations,” known respectively as the Right, the Averse, and the Irregular. To make any of these, a square, containing 484 squares, should be made, and the letters written in. For the “Right Table” write the alphabet across from right to left; in the second row of squares do the same, but begin with B and end with A; in the third begin with G and end with B; and so on. For the “Averse Table” write the alphabet from right to left backwards, beginning with Th and ending with A; in the second row begin with Sh and end with Th, &c. The “Irregular Table” would take too long to describe. Besides all these, there is the method called ThShRQ, Thashraq, which is simply writing a word backwards. There is one more very important form, called the “Qabalah of the Nine Chambers,” or AIQ BKR, Aiq Bekar. It is thus formed:
|300, 30, 3 |
Sh, L, G
|200, 20, 2 |
R, K, B
|100, 10, 1 |
Q, I, A
|600, 60, 6 |
M (f), S, V
|500, 50, 5 |
K(f), N, H
|400, 40, 4 |
Th, M, D
|900, 90, 9 |
Tz (f), Tz, T
|800, 80, 8 |
P (f), P, Ch
|700, 70, 7 |
N (f), O, Z
I have put the numeration of each letter above to show the affinity between the letters in each chamber. Sometimes this is used as a cipher, by taking the portions of the figure to show the letters they contain, putting one point for the first letter, two for the second, &c. Thus the right angle, containing AIQ, will answer for the letter Q if it has three dots or points within it. Again, a square will answer for H, N, or K final, according to whether it has one, two, or three points respectively placed within it. So also with regard to the other letters. But there are many other ways of employing the Qabalah of the Nine Chambers, which I have not space to describe. I will merely mention, as an example, that by the mode of Temura called AThBSh, Athbash, it is found that in Jeremiah xxv. 26, the word ShShk, Sheshakh, symbolizes BBL, Babel. 15. Besides all these rules, there are certain meanings hidden in the shape of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet; in the form of a particular letter at the end of a word being different from that which it generally bears when it is a final letter, or in a letter being written in the middle of a word in a character generally used only at the end; in any letter or letters being written in a size smaller or larger than the rest of the manuscript, or in a letter being written upside down; in the variations found in the spelling of certain words, which have a letter more in some places than they have in others; in peculiarities observed in the position of any of the points or accents, and in certain expressions supposed to be elliptic or redundant.
- For example, the shape of the Hebrew letter Aleph, A, is said to symbolize a Vau, V, between a Yod, I, and a Daleth, D; and thus the letter itself represents the word IVD, Yod. Similarly the shape of the letter He, H, represents the word Daleth, D, with a Yod, I, written at the lower left-hand corner, &c.
- In Isaiah ix. 6, 7, the word LMRBH, Lemarbah, for multiplying, is written with the character for M final in the middle of the word, instead of with the ordinary initial and medial M. The consequence of this is that the total numerical value of the word, instead of being 30+40+200+ 2+5=277, is 30+600+200+2+5=837=by Gematria ThTh ZL, Tat Zal, the profuse Giver. Thus, by writing the M final instead of the ordinary character, the word is made to bear a different qabalistical meaning.
- In Deuteronomy vi. 4, &c., is the prayer known as the Shema Yisrael. It begins, “ShMO IShRAL IHVH ALHINV IHVH AChD, Shemaa Yisrael, Tetragrammaton Elohino Tetragrammaton Achad: “Hear, O Israel, Tetragrammaton our God is Tetragrammaton Unity.” In this verse the terminal letter O in ShMO, and the D in AChD are written much larger than the other letters of the text. The qabalistical symbology contained in this circumstance is explained as follows. The letter O, being of the value of 70, shows that the law may be explained in seventy different ways, and the D=4=the four cardinal points and the letters of the Holy Name. The first word, ShMO, has the numerical value of 410, the number of years of the duration of the first temple, &c. &c. There are many other points worthy of consideration in this prayer, but time will not permit me to dwell on them.
- Other examples of deficient and redundant spelling, peculiarities of accent and pointing, &c., will be found in various places in the ensuing work.
- It is to be further noted with regard to the first word in the Bible, BRAShITh, Berashith, that the first three letters, BRA, are the initial letters of the names of the three persons of the Trinity: BN, Ben, the Son; RVCh, Ruach, the Spirit; and AB, Ab, the Father. Furthermore, the first letter of the Bible is B, which is the initial letter of BRKH, Barakhah, blessing; and not A, which is that of ARR, Arar, cursing. Again, the letters of Berashith, taking their numerical powers, express the number of years between the Creation and the birth of Christ, thus: B=2,000, R=200, A=1000, SH =300, I= 10, and TH = 400; total = 3910 years, being the time in round numbers. Picus de Mirandola gives the following working out of BRASHITH, Berashith:–By joining the third letter, A, to the first, B, AB Ab=Father, is obtained. If to the first letter B, doubled, the second letter, R, be added, it makes BBR, Bebar=in or through the Son. If all the letters be read except the first, it makes RASHITH, Rashith=the beginning. If with the fourth letter, Sh, the first B and the last Th be connected, it makes ShBTh, Skebeth=the end or rest. If the first three letters be taken, they make BRA, Bera=created. If, omitting the first, the three following be taken, they make RASh, Rash=head. If, omitting the two first, the next two be taken, they give ASh, Ash=fire. If the fourth and last be joined, they give ShTh, Sheth=foundation. Again, if the second letter be put before the first, it makes RB, Rab=great. If after the third be placed the fifth and fourth, it gives AISh, Aish=man. If to the two first be joined the two last, they give BRITh, Berith=covenant. And if the first be added to the last, it gives ThB, Theb, which is sometimes used for TVB, Thob=good.
- Taking the whole of these mystical anagrams in proper order, Picus makes the following sentence out of this one word BRAShITh:–Pater in filio (aut per filiumum) principium et finem (sive quietum) creavit caput, ignem, et fundamentum magni hominis foedere bono: “Through the Son bath the Father created that Head which is the beginning and the end, the fire-life and the foundation of the supernal man (the Adam Qadmon) by His righteous covenant.” Which is a short epitome of the teachings of the “Book of Concealed Mystery.” This notice of the literal Qabalah has already extended beyond its proper limits. It was, however, necessary to be thus explicit, as much of the metaphysical reasoning of the ensuing work turns on its application.
- The term “Unwritten Qabalah” is applied to certain knowledge which is never entrusted to writing, but communicated orally. I may say no more on this point, not even whether I myself have or have not received it. Of course, till the time of Rabbi Schimeon Ben Jochai none of the Qabalah was ever written.
- The Dogmatic Qabalah contains the doctrinal portion. There are a large number of treatises of various dates and merits which go to make up the written Qabalah, but they may be reduced to four heads:
(a) The Sepher Yetzirah and its dependencies.
(b) The Zohar with its developments and commentaries.(c) The Sepher Sephiroth and its expansions.
(d) The Asch Metzareph and its symbolism.
- The SPR ITzIRH, Sepher Yetzirah, or “Book of Formation,” is ascribed to the patriarch Abraham. It treats the cosmogony as symbolized by the ten numbers and the twenty-two letters of the alphabet, which it calls the “thirty-two paths.” On these latter Rabbi Abraham Ben Dior has written a mystical commentary. The term “path” is used throughout the Qabalah to signify a hieroglyphical idea, or rather the sphere of ideas, which may be attached to any glyph or symbol.
- The ZHR, Zohar, or “Splendour,” besides many other treatises of less note, contains the following most important books.
(a) The SPRA DTzNIOVThA, Siphra Dtzenioutha, or “Book of Concealed Mystery,” which is the root and foundation of the Zohar.
(b) The ADRA RBA QDIShA, Idra Rabba Qadisha or “Greater Holy Assembly:” this is a development of the “Book of Concealed Mystery.”
(c) The ADRA ZVTA QDIShA, Idra Zuta Qadisha, or ” Lesser Holy Assembly;” which is in the nature of a supplement to the “Idra Rabba.” These three books treat of the gradual development of the creative Deity, and with Him the Creation. The text of these works has been annotated by Knorr von Rosenroth (the author of the “Qabalah Denudata,”) from the Mantuan, Cremonensian, and Lublinensian Codices, which are corrected printed copies; of these the Mantuan and Cremonensian are the oldest. A species of commentary is also given, which is distinguished from the actual text by being written within parentheses.
(d) The pneumatical treatise called BITh ALHIM, Beth Elohim, or the “House of the Elohim,” edited by Rabbi Abraham Cohen Irira, from the doctrines of Rabbi Yitzchaq Loria. It treats of angels, demons, elemental spirits, and souls.
(e) The “Book of the Revolutions of Souls” is a peculiar and discursive treatise, and is an expansion of Rabbi Loria’s ideas.
- The SPR SPIRVTh, Sepher Sephiroth, or “Book of the Emanations,” describes, so to speak, the gradual evolution of the Deity from negative into positive existence.
- The ASh MTzRP, Asch Metzareph, or Purifying Fire, is hermetic and alchemical, and is known to few, and when known is understood by still fewer.
The principal doctrines of the Qabalah are designed to solve the following problems:–
(a) The Supreme Being, His nature and attributes.
(b) The Cosmogony.
(c) The creation of angels and man.
(d) The destiny of man and angels.
(e) The nature of the soul.
(f) The nature of angels, demons, and elementals.
(g) The import of the revealed law.
(h) The transcendental symbolism of numerals.
(i) The peculiar mysteries contained in the Hebrew letters.
(j) The equilibrium of contraries.
- The “Book of Concealed Mystery” opens with these words: “The Book of Concealed Mystery is the book of the equilibrium of balance.” What is here meant by the terms “equilibrium of balance”? Equilibrium is that harmony which results from the analogy of contraries, it is the dead centre where, the opposition of opposing forces being equal in strength, rest succeeds motion. It is the central point. It is the “point within the circle” of ancient symbolism. It is the living synthesis of counterbalanced power. Thus form may be described as the equilibrium of light and shade; take away either factor, and form is viewless. The term balance is applied to the two opposite natures in each triad of the Sephiroth, their equilibrium forming the third Sephira in each ternary. I shall recur again to this subject in explaining the Sephiroth. This doctrine of equilibrium and balance is a fundamental qabalistical idea.
- The “Book of Concealed Mystery” goes on to state that this “Equilibrium hangeth in that region which is negatively existent.” What is negative existence? What is positive existence? The distinction between these two is another fundamental idea. To define negative existence clearly is impossible, for when it is distinctly defined it ceases to be negative existence; it is then negative existence passing into static condition. Therefore wisely have the Qabalists shut out from mortal comprehension the primal AIN, Ain, the negatively existent One, and the AIN SVP, Ain Soph, the limitless Expansion; while of even the AIN SVP AVR, Ain Soph Aur, the illimitable Light, only a dim conception can be formed. Yet, if we think deeply, we shall see that such must be the primal forms of the unknowable and nameless One, whom we, in the most manifest form speak of as God. He is the Absolute. But how do we define the Absolute? Even as we define it, it slips from our grasp, for it ceases when defined to be the Absolute. Shall we then say that the Negative, the Limitless, the Absolute are, logically speaking, absurd, since they are ideas which our reason cannot define? No; for could we define them, we should make them, so to speak, contained by our reason, and therefore not superior to it; for a subject to be capable of definition it is requisite that certain limits should be assignable to it. How then can we limit the Illimitable?
- The first principle and axiom of the Qabalah is the name of the Deity, translated in our version of the Bible, “I am that I am,” AHIH AShR AHIH, Eheieh Asher Eheieh. A better translation is, “Existence is existence, or I am He who is.”
- Eliphas Levi Zahed, that great philosopher and Qabalist of the present century, says in his “Histoire de la Magie” (bk. i. ch. 7): “The Qabalists have a horror of everything that resembles idolatry; they, however ascribe the human form to God, but it is a purely hieroglyphical figure. They consider God as the intelligent, living, and loving Infinite One. He is for them neither the collection of other beings, nor the abstraction of existence, nor a philosophically definable being. He is in all, distinct from all, and greater than all. His very name is ineffable; and yet this name only expresses the human ideal of His Divinity. What God is in Himself it is not given to man to know. God is the absolute of faith; existence is the absolute of reason, existence exists by itself, and because it exists. The reason of the existence of existence is existence itself. We may ask, ‘Why does any particular thing exist?’ that is, ‘Why does such or such a thing exist?’ But we cannot ask, without its being absurd to do so, ‘Why does existence exist?’ For this would be to suppose existence prior to existence.” Again, the same author says (ibid. bk. iii. ch. 2): “To say, ‘I will believe when the truth of the dogma shall be scientifically proved to me,’ is the same as to say, ‘I will believe when I have nothing more to believe, and when the dogma shall be destroyed as dogma by becoming a scientific theorem.’ That is to say, in other words: ‘I will only admit the Infinite when it shall have been explained, determined, circumscribed, and defined for my benefit; in one word, when it has become finite. I will then believe in the Infinite when I am sure that the Infinite does not exist. I will believe in the vastness of the ocean when I shall have seen it put into bottles.’ But when a thing has been clearly proved and made comprehensible to you, you will no longer believe it you will know it.”
- In the “Bhagavadgîtâ,” ch. ix., it is said, “I am Immortality and also death; and I, O Arguna! am that which is and that which is not.” [Or, “which exists negatively.”] And again (ch. ix.): “And, O descendant of Bharata! see wonders in numbers, unseen before. Within my body, O Gudâkesa! see today the whole universe, including everything moveable and immovable, all in one.” And again (ibid.) Arguna said: “O Infinite Lord of the Gods! O Thou who pervadest the universe! Thou art the Indestructible, that which is, that which is not, and what is beyond them. Thou art the Primal God, the Ancient One; Thou art the highest support of this universe. By Thee is this universe pervaded, O Thou of the infinite forms….Thou art of infinite power, of unmeasured glory; Thou pervadest all, and therefore, Thou art all!”
- The idea of negative existence can then exist as an idea, but it will not bear definition, since the idea of definition is utterly incompatible with its nature. “But,” some of my readers will perhaps say, “your term negative existence is surely a misnomer; the state you describe would be better expressed by the title of negative subsistence.” Not so, I answer; for negative subsistence can never be anything but negative subsistence; it cannot vary, it cannot develop; for negative subsistence is literally and truly no thing. Therefore negative subsistence cannot be at all; it never has existed, it never does exist, it never will exist. But negative existence bears hidden in itself, positive life; for in the limitless depths of the abyss of its negativity lies hidden the power of standing forth from itself, the power of projecting the scintilla of the thought unto the outer, the power or re-involving the syntagma into the inner. Thus shrouded and veiled is the absorbed intensity in the centerless whirl of the vastness of expansion. Therefore have I employed the term “Ex-sto,” rather than “Sub-sto.”
- But between two ideas so different as those of negative and positive existence a certain nexus, or connecting-link, is required, and hence we arrive at the form which is called potential existence, which while more nearly approaching positive existence, will still scarcely admit of clear definition. It is existence, in its possible form. For example, in a seed, the tree which may spring from it is hidden; it is in a condition of potential existence; is there; but it will not admit of definition. How much less, then, will those seeds which that tree in its turn may yield? But these latter are in a condition which, while it is somewhat analogous to potential existence, is in hardly so advanced a stage; that is, they are negatively existent.
- But, on the other hand, positive existence is always capable of definition; it is dynamic; it has certain evident powers, and it is therefore the antithesis of negative existence, and still more so of negative subsistence. It is the tree, no longer hidden in the seed, but developed into the outer. But positive existence has a beginning and an end, and it therefore requires another form from which to depend, for without this other concealed negative ideal behind it, it is unstable and unsatisfactory.
- Thus, then, have I faintly and with all reverence endeavoured to shadow forth to the minds of my readers the idea of the Illimitable One. And before that idea, and of the idea, I can only say, in the words of an ancient oracle: “In Him is an illimitable abyss of glory, and from it there goeth forth one little spark which maketh all the glory of the sun, and of the moon, and of the stars. Mortal! behold how little I know of God; seek not to know more of Him, for this is far beyond thy comprehension, however wise thou art; as for us, who are His ministers, how small a part are we of Him!”
- There are three qabalistical veils of the negative existence, and in themselves they formulate the hidden ideas of the Sephiroth not yet called into being, and they are concentrated in Kether, which in this sense is the Malkuth of the hidden ideas of the Sephiroth. I will explain this. The first veil of the negative existence is the AIN, Ain=Negativity. This word consists of three letters, which thus shadow forth the first three Sephiroth or numbers. The second veil is the AIN SVP, Ain Soph=the Limitless. This title consists of six letters, and shadows forth the idea of first six Sephiroth or numbers. And the third veil is AIN SVP AVR, Ain Soph Aur=the Limitless Light. This again consists of nine letters, and symbolizes the first nine Sephiroth, but of course in their hidden idea only. But when we reach the number nine we cannot progress farther without returning to the unity, or the number one, for the number ten is but a repetition of unity freshly derived from the negative, as is evident from a glance at its ordinary representation in Arabic numerals, where the circle 0 represents the Negative, and the 1 the Unity. Thus, then, the limitless ocean of negative light does not proceed from a center, for it is centerless, but it concentrates a center, which is the number one of the manifested Sephiroth, Kether, the Crown, the First Sephira; which therefore may be said to be the Malkuth or number ten of the hidden Sephiroth. Thus, “Kether is in Malkuth, and Malkuth is in Kether.” Or, as an alchemical author of great repute (Thomas Vaughan, better known as Eugenius Philalethes) says, [“Euphrates, or, The Waters of the East”] apparently quoting from Proclus: “That the heaven is in the earth, but after an earthly manner; and that the earth is in the heaven, but after a heavenly manner.” But inasmuch as negative existence is a subject incapable of definition, as I have before shown, it is rather considered by the Qabalists as depending back from the number of unity than as a separate consideration therefrom; wherefore they frequently apply the same terms and epithets indiscriminately to either. Such epithets are: “The Concealed of the Concealed,” “The Ancient of the Ancient Ones,” the “Most Holy Ancient One,” &c.
- I must now explain the real meaning of the terms Sephira and Sephiroth. The first is singular, the second is plural. The best rendering of the word is “numerical emanation.” There are ten Sephiroth, which are the most abstract forms of the ten numbers of the decimal scale, i.e., the abstract forms of the ten numbers 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Therefore, as in the higher mathematics we reason of numbers in their abstract senses, so in the Qabalah we reason of the Deity by the abstract forms of the numbers; in other words, by the SPIRVTh, Sephiroth. It was from this ancient Oriental theory that Pythagoras derived his numerical symbolic ideas.
- Among these Sephiroth, jointly and severally, we find the development of the persons and attributes of God. Of these some are male and some are female. Now, for some reason or other best known to themselves, the translators of the Bible have carefully crowded out of existence and smothered up every reference to the fact that the Deity is both masculine and feminine. They have translated a feminine plural by a masculine singular in the case of the word Elohim. They have, however, left an inadvertent admission of their knowledge that it was plural in Gen. iv. 26; “And Elohim said: Let Us make man.” Again (v. 27), how could Adam be made in the image of the Elohim, male and female, unless the Elohim were male and female also? The word Elohim is a plural formed from the feminine singular ALH, Eloh, by adding IM to the word. But inasmuch as IM is usually the termination of the masculine plural, and is here added to a feminine noun, it gives the word Elohim the sense of a female potency united to a masculine idea, and thereby capable of producing an offspring. Now, we hear much of the Father and Son, but we hear nothing of the Mother in the ordinary religions of the day. But in the Qabalah we find that the Ancient of Days conforms Himself simultaneously into the Father and the Mother, and thus begets the Son. Now, this Mother is Elohim. Again, we are usually told that the Holy Spirit is masculine. But the word RVCh, Ruach, Spirit, is feminine, as appears from the following passage of the Sepher Yetzirah: “AChTh RVCh ALHIM ChIIM, Achath (feminine, not Achad, masculine) Ruach Elohim Chiim: One is She the Spirit of the Elohim of Life.”
- Now, we find that before the Deity conformed Himself thus, i.e., as male and female that the worlds of the universe could not subsist, or, in the words of Genesis, “The earth was formless and void.” These prior worlds are considered to be symbolized by the “kings who reigned in Edom before there reigned a king in Israel,” and they are therefore spoken of in the Qabalah as the “Edomite kings.” This will be found fully explained in various parts of this work.
- We now come to the consideration of the first Sephira, or the Number One, the Monad of Pythagoras. In this number are the other nine hidden. It is indivisible, it is also incapable of multiplication; divide 1 by itself and it still remains 1 multiply I by itself and it is still 1 and unchanged. Thus it is a fitting representative of the great unchangeable Father of all. Now this number of unity has a twofold nature, and thus forms, as it were, the link between the negative and the positive. In its unchangeable one-ness it is scarcely a number; but in its property of capability of addition it may be called the first number of a numerical series. Now, the zero, 0, is incapable even of addition, just as also is negative existence. How, then, if I can neither be multiplied nor divided, is another 1 to be obtained to add to it; in other words, how is the number 2 to be found? By reflection of itself. For though 0 be incapable of definition, 1 is definable. And the effect of a definition is to form an Eidolon, duplicate, or image, of the thing defined. Thus, then, we obtain a duad composed of 1 and its reflection. Now also we have the commencement of a vibration established, for the number 1 vibrates alternately from changelessness to definition, and back to changelessness again. Thus, then is it the father of all numbers, and a fitting type of the Father of all things.
The name of the first Sephira is KThR, Kether, the Crown.
The Divine Name attributed to it is the Name of the Father given in Exod. iii. 4: AHIH, Eheieh, I am. It signifies Existence.
Among the Epithets applied to it, as containing in itself the idea of negative existence depending back from it are:
TMIRA DTMIRIN, Temira De-Temirin, the Concealed of the Concealed.
OThIQA DOThIQIN, Authiqa De-Authiqun, the Ancient of the Ancient Ones.
OThIQA QDIShA, Authiqa Qadisha, the Most Holy Ancient One.
OThIQA, Authiqa, the Ancient One.
OThIQ IVMIN, Authiq Iomin, the Ancient of Days.
It is also called: NQDH RAShVNH, Nequdah Rashunah, the Primordial Point.
NQDH PShVTh, Nequdah Peshutah, the Smooth Point.
RIShA HVVRH, Risha Havurah, the White Head.
RVM MOLH, Rom Meolah, the Inscrutable Height.
Besides all these there is another very important name applied to this Sephira as representing the great Father of all things. It is ARIK ANPIN, Arikh Anpin, the Vast Countenance, or Macroprosopus. Of Him it is said that He is partly concealed (in the sense of His connection with the negative existence) and partly manifest (as a positive Sephira). Hence the symbolism of the Vast Countenance is that of a profile wherein one side only of the Countenance is seen; or, as it is said in the Qabalah, “in Him all is right side.” I shall refer to this title again.
The whole ten Sephiroth represent the Heavenly Man, or Primordial Being, ADM OILAH, Adam Auilah.
Under this Sephira are classed the angelic order of ChIVTh HQDSh, Chioth Ha-Qadesh, holy living-creatures, the kerubim or sphinxes of Ezekiel’s vision and of the Apocalypse of John. These are represented in the Zodiac by the four signs, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius–the Bull, Lion, Eagle, and Man. Scorpio, as a good emblem, being symbolized by the eagle, as an evil emblem by the scorpion, and as a mixed nature by the snake.
This first Sephira contained the other nine, and produced them in succession, thus:–
- The number 2, or the Duad. The name of the second Sephira is ChKMH, Chokmah, Wisdom, a masculine active potency reflected from Kether, as I have before explained. This Sephira is the active and evident Father, to whom the Mother is united, who is the number 3. This second Sephira is represented by the Divine Names, IH, Yah, and IHVH; and among the angelic hosts by AVPNIM, Auphanim, the Wheels (Ezek i.). The second Sephira is also called AB, Ab, the Father.
- The third Sephira, or Triad, is a feminine passive potency, called BINH, Binah, the Understanding, who is co-equal with Chokmah. For Chokmah, the number 2 is like two straight lines which can never enclose a space, and therefore it is powerless till the number 3 forms the triangle. Thus this Sephira completes and makes evident the supernal Trinity. It is also called AMA, Ama, Mother, and AlMA, Aima, the great productive Mother, who is eternally conjoined with AB, the Father, for the maintenance of the universe in order. Therefore is she the most evident form in whom we can know the Father, and therefore is she worthy of all honour. She is the supernal Mother, co-equal with Chokmah, and the great feminine form of God, the Elohim, in whose image man and woman are created, according to the teaching of the Qabalah, equal before God. Woman is equal with man, and certainly not inferior to him, as it has been the persistent endeavour of so-called Christians to make her. Aima is the woman described in the Apocalypse (ch. xii.). This third Sephira is also sometimes called the great sea. To her are attributed the Divine names, ARALIM, Aralim, the Thrones. She is the supernal Mother, as distinguished from Malkuth, the inferior Mother, Bride, and Queen.
- The number 4. This union of the second and third Sephiroth produced ChSD, Chesed, Mercy or Love also called GDVLH, Gedulah, Greatness or Magnificence; a masculine potency represented by the Divine Name AL, El, the Mighty One, and the angelic name, ChShMLIM, Chashmalim, Scintillating Flames (Ezek. iv. 4).
- The number 5. From this emanated the feminine passive potency GBVRH, Geburah, strength or fortitude; or DIN, Deen, Justice; represented by the Divine Names ALHIM GBVR, and ALH, Eloh, and the angelic name ShRPIM, Seraphim (Isa. vi. 6). This Sephira is also called PChD, Pachad, Fear.
- The number 6. And from these two issued the uniting Sephira, ThPARTh, Tiphareth, Beauty or Mildness, represented by the Divine Name ALVH VDOTh, Eloah Va-Daath, and the angelic names, ShNANIM Shinanim,(Ps. lxviii. 18), or MLKIM, Melakim, kings. Thus by the union of justice and mercy we obtain beauty or clemency, and the second trinity of the Sephiroth is complete. This Sephira, or “Path,” or “Numeration”–for by these latter appellations the emanations are sometimes called–together with the fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, and ninth Sephiroth, is spoken of as ZOIR ANPIN, Zauir Anpin, the Lesser Countenance, or Microprosopus. The sixth Sephiroth of which Zauir Anpin is composed, are then called His six members. He is also called MLK, Melekh, the King.
- The number 7. The seventh Sephira is NTzCh, Netzach, or Firmness and Victory, corresponding to the Divine Name IHVH TzBAVTh, Jehovah Tzabaoth, the Lord of Armies, and the angelic names ALHIM, Elohim, gods, and ThRShIShIM, Tharshisim, the brilliant ones (Dan. x. 6).
- The number 8. Thence proceeded the feminine passive potency HVD, Hod, Splendour, answering to the Divine Name ALHIM TzBAVTh, Elohim Tzabaoth, the Gods of Armies, and among the angels to BNI ALHIM, Beni Elohim, the Sons of the Gods (Gen. vi. 4).
- The number 9. These two produced ISVD, Yesod, the Foundation or Basis, represented by AL ChI, El Chai, the Mighty Living One, and ShDI, Shaddai, and among the angels by AShIM, Aishim, the Flames (Ps. civ. 4), yielding the third Trinity of the Sephiroth.
- The number 10. From this ninth Sephira came the tenth and last, thus completing the decad of the numbers. It is called MLKVTh, Malkuth, the Kingdom, and also the Queen, Matrona, the inferior Mother, the Bride of Microprosopus; and ShKINH, Shekinah, represented by the Divine Name ADNI, Adonai, and among the angelic hosts by the KRVBIM Kerubim. Now, each of these Sephiroth will be to a certain degree androgynous, for it will be feminine or receptive with regard to the Sephira which immediately precedes it in the Sephirotic scale, and masculine or transmissive with regard to the Sephira which immediately follows it. But there is no Sephira anterior to Kether, nor is there a Sephira which succeeds Malkuth. By these remarks it will be understood how Chokmah is a feminine noun, though marking a masculine Sephira. The connecting-link of the Sephiroth is the Ruach, spirit, from Mezla, the hidden influence.
- I will now add a few more remarks on the qabalistical meaning of the term MThQLA, Metheqela, balance. In each of the three trinities or triads of the Sephiroth is a duad of opposite sexes, and uniting intelligence which is the result. In this, the masculine and feminine potencies are regarded as the two scales of the balance, and the uniting Sephira as the beam which joins them. Thus, then, the term balance may be said to symbolize the Triune, Trinity in Unity, and the Unity represented by the central point of the beam. But again, in the Sephiroth there is a triple Trinity, the upper, lower, and middle. Now, these three are represented thus: the Supernal, or highest, by the Crown, Kether; the middle by the King, and the inferior by the Queen; which will be the greatest trinity. And the earthly correlatives of these will be the primum mobile, the Sun and the Moon. Here we at once find alchemical symbolism.
- Now in the world the Sephiroth are represented by:
(1) RAShITh HGLGLIM, Rashith Ha-Galgalim, the commencement of the whirling motions, the Primum Mobile. (2) MSLVTh, Masloth, the sphere of the Zodiac. (3) ShBThAI, Shabbathai, rest, Saturn.(4) TzDQ, Tzadeq, righteousness, Jupiter. (5) MADIM, Madim, vehement strength, Mars. (6) ShMSh, Shemesh, the solar light, the Sun. (7) NVGH, Nogah, glittering splendour, Venus. (8) KVKB, Kokab, the stellar light, Mercury. (9) LBNH, Levanah, the lunar flame, the Moon. (10) ChLM ISVDVTh, Cholom Yesodoth, the breaker of the foundations, the elements.
- The Sephiroth are further divided into three pillars the right-hand Pillar of Mercy, consisting of the second, fourth, and seventh emanations; the left-hand Pillar or Judgment, consisting of the third, fifth, and eighth; and the middle Pillar of Mildness, consisting of the first, sixth, ninth, and tenth emanations.
- In their totality and unity the ten Sephiroth represent the archetypal man, ADM QDMVN, Adam Qadmon, the Protogonos. In looking to the Sephiroth constituting the first triad, it is evident that they represent the intellect; and hence this triad is called the intellectual world, OVLM MVShKL, Olahm Mevshekal. The second triad corresponds to the moral world, OVLM MVRGSh, Olahm Morgash. The third represents power and stability, and is therefore called the material world, OVLM HMVTBO, Olahm Ha-Mevetbau. These three aspects are called the faces, ANPIN, Anpin. Thus is the tree of life, OTz ChIIM, Otz Chiim, formed; the first triad being placed above, the second and third below, in such a manner that the three masculine Sephiroth are on the right, three feminine on the left, whilst the four uniting Sephiroth occupy the center. This is the qabalistical Tree of Life, on which all things depend. There is considerable analogy between this and the tree Yggdrasil of the Scandinavians.
- I have already remarked that there is one trinity which comprises all the Sephiroth, and that it consists of the Crown, the King, and the Queen. (In some senses this is similar to the Christian Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which in their highest divine nature are symbolized by the first three Sephiroth, Kether, Chokmah, and Binah.) It is the Trinity which created the world, or, in qabalistic language, the universe was born from the union of the crowned King and Queen. But according to the Qabalah, before the complete form of the heavenly man (the ten Sephiroth) was produced, there were certain primordial worlds created, but these could not subsist, as the equilibrium of balance was not yet perfect, and they were convulsed by the unbalanced forces and destroyed. These primordial worlds are called the “kings of ancient time,” and the “kings of Edom who reigned before the monarchs of Israel.” In this sense, Edom is the world of unbalanced force, and Israel is the balanced Sephiroth (Gen. xxxvi. 31). This important fact, that worlds were created and destroyed prior to the present creation, is again and again reiterated in the Zohar.
- Now the Sephiroth are also called the World of Emanations, or the Atziluthic World, or archetypal world, OVLM ATzILVTh, Olahm Atziloth; and this world gave birth to three other worlds, each containing a repetition of the Sephiroth, but in a descending scale of brightness.
- The second world is the Briatic world, OVLM HBRIAH, Olahm Ha-Briah, the world of creation, also called KVRSIA, Khorsia, the throne. It is an immediate emanation from the world of Atziluth, whose ten Sephiroth are reflected herein, and are consequently more limited, though they are still of the purest nature, and without any admixture of matter.
- The third is the Yetziratic world, OVLM HITzIRH, Olahm Ha-Yetzirah, or world of Formation and of angels, which proceeds from Briah, and though less refined in substance, is still without matter. It is in this angelic world where those intelligent and incorporeal beings reside who are wrapped in a luminous garment, and who assume a form when they appear unto man.
- The fourth is the Assiatic world, OVLM HOShIH, Olahm Ha-Assiah, the World of Action, called also the world of shells, OVLM HQLIPVTh, Olahm Ha-Qliphoth, which is this world of matter, made up of the grosser elements of the other three. In it is also the abode of the evil spirits which are called “the shells” by the Qabalah, Qliphoth, material shells. The devils are also divided into ten classes, and have suitable habitations.
- The Demons are the grossest and most deficient of all forms. Their ten degrees answer to the decad of the Sephiroth, but in inverse ratio, as darkness and impurity increase with the descent of each degree. The two first are nothing but absence of visible form and organization. The third is the abode of darkness. Next follow seven Hells occupied by those demons which represent incarnate human vices, and torture those who have given themselves up to such vices in earth-life. Their prince is SMAL, Samael, the angel of poison and of death. His wife is the harlot, or woman of whoredom AShTh ZNVNIM, Isheth Zenunim; and united they are called the Beast, CHIVA, Chioa. Thus the infernal trinity is completed, which is, so to speak, the averse and caricature of the supernal Creative One. Samael is considered to be identical with Satan.
- The name of the Deity, which we call Jehovah, is in Hebrew a name of four letters, IHVH; and the true pronunciation of it is known to very few. I myself know some score of different mystical pronunciations of it. The true pronunciation is a most secret arcanum, and is a secret of secrets. “He who can rightly pronounce it, causeth heaven and earth to tremble, for it is the name which rusheth through the universe.” Therefore when a devout Jew comes upon it in reading the Scripture, he either does not attempt to pronounce it, but instead makes a short pause, or else he substitutes for it the name Adonai, ADNI, Lord. The radical meaning of the word is “to be,” and it is thus, like AHIH, Eheieh, a glyph of existence. It is capable of twelve transpositions, which all convey the meaning of “to be”; it is the only word that will bear so many transpositions without its meaning being altered. They are called the “twelve banners of the mighty name,” and are said by some to rule the twelve signs of the Zodiac. These are the twelve banners: IHVH, IHHV, IVHH, HVHI, HVIH, HHIV, VHHI, VIHH, VHIH, HIHV, HIVH, HHVI. There are three other Tetragrammatic names, which are AHIH, Eheieh, existence; ADNI, Adonai, Lord; and AGLA Agla. This last is not, properly speaking, a word, but is a notariqon of the sentence, AThH GBVR LOVLM ADNI, Ateh Gebor Le-Olahm Adonai: “Thou art mighty for ever, O Lord!” An arbitrary interpretation of Agla is this: A, the one first; A, the one last; G, the Trinity in Unity; L, the completion of the Great Work.
- The first thing we notice is that both AHIH and IHVH convey the idea of existence; this is their first analogy. The second is, that in each the letter H comes second and fourth; and the third is that by Gematria AHIH equals IHY without the H (which, as we shall see presently, is the symbol of Malkuth, the tenth Sephira). But now, if they be written one above the others, thus, within the arms of a cross,
they read downwards as well as across, AHIH, IHVH.
- Now, if we examine the matter qabalistically we shall find the reason of these analogies. For Eheieh, AHIH, is the Vast Countenance, the Ancient One, Macroprosopus, Kether, the first Sephira, the Crown of the Qabalistical Sephirotic greatest Trinity (which consists of the Crown, King, and Queen; or Macroprosopus, Microprosopus and the Bride), and the Father in the Christian acceptation of the Trinity.
- But IHVH, the Tetragrammaton, as we shall presently see, contains all the Sephiroth with the exception of Kether, and specially signifies the Lesser Countenance, Microprosopus, the King of the qabalistical Sephirotic greater Trinity, and the Son in His human incarnation, in the Christian interpretation of the Trinity.
Therefore, as the Son reveals the Father, so does IHVH, Jehovah, reveal AHIH, Eheieh.
- And ADNI is the Queen “by whom alone Tetragrammaton can be grasped,” whose exaltation into Binah is found in the Christian assumption of the Virgin.
- The Tetragrammaton IHVH is referred to the Sephiroth, thus: the uppermost point of the letter Yod, I, is said to refer to Kether; the letter I itself to Chokmah, the father of Microprosopus; the letter H, or “the supernal He,” to Binah and supernal Mother; the letter V to the next six Sephiroth, which are called the six members of Microprosopus (and six is the numerical value of V, the Hebrew Vau); lastly, the letter H, the “inferior He,” to Malkuth, the tenth Sephira, the bride of Microprosopus.
- Now, there are four secret names referred to the four worlds of Atziloth, Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiah; and again, the Tetragrammaton is said to go forth written in a certain manner in each of these four worlds. The secret name of Atziloth is OB Aub; that of Briah is SG Seg; that of Yetzirah is MH Mah; and that of Assiah is BN Ben. [BN, Ben means “son”.].
- These names operate together with the Sephiroth through the “231 gates, as combinations of the alphabet are called; but it would take too much space to go fully into the subject here.
- Closely associated with the subject of the letters of the Tetragrammaton is that of the four Kerubim, to which I have already referred in describing the first Sephira. Now it must not be forgotten that these forms in Ezekiel’s vision support the throne of the Deity, whereon the Heavenly Man is seated–the Adam Qadmon, the Sephirotic image; and that between the throne and the living creatures is the firmament. Here then we have the four worlds–Atziloth, the deific form; Briah, the throne; Yetzirah, the firmament; Assiah, the Kerubim. Therefore the Kerubim represent the powers of the letters of the Tetragrammaton on the material plain; and the four represent the operation of the four letters in each of the four worlds. Thus, then, the Kerubim are the living forms of the letters, symbolized in the Zodiac by Taurus, Leo, Aquarius, and Scorpio, as I have before remarked.
- And “the mystery of the earthly and mortal man is after the mystery of the supernal and immortal One; and thus was he created in the image of God upon earth. In the form of the body is Tetragrammaton found. The head is I, the arms and shoulders are like H, the body is V, and the legs are represented by the H final. Therefore, as the outward form of man corresponds to the Tetragrammaton, so does the animating soul correspond to the ten Sephiroth; and as these find their ultimate expression in the trinity of the Crown, the King, and the Queen, so is there a principal triple division of the soul. Thus, then, the first is Neschamah NShMH, which is the highest degree of being, corresponding to the crown (Kether), and representing the highest triad of the Sephiroth, called the intellectual world. The second is Ruach, RVCh, the seat of good and evil, corresponding to Tiphareth, the moral world. And the third is Nephesch, NPSh, the animal life and desires, corresponding to Yesod, and the material and sensuous world. All souls are pre-existent in the world of emanations, and are in their original state androgynous, but when they descend upon earth they become separated into male and female, and inhabit different bodies; if therefore in this mortal life the male half encounters the female half, a strong attachment springs up between them, and hence it is said that in marriage the separated halves are again conjoined; and the hidden forms of the soul are akin to the Kerubim.
- But this foregoing triple division of the soul is only applicable to the triple form of the intellectual, moral and material. Let us not lose sight of the great qabalistical idea, that the trinity is always completed by and finds its realization in the quaternary; that is, IHV completed and realized in IHVH–the trinity of…
This is completed by the quaternary of–
|Absolute One||Father and Mother||Son||Bride|
|Macroprosopus, Vast Countenance||Father and Mother||Microprosopus, the Lesser Countenance||Malkuth, the Queen and Bride|
|Atziluth – Archetypal||Briah – Creative||Yetzirah – Formative||Assiah – Material|
And to these four the soul answers in the following four forms:–Chiah to Atziluth; Neschamah to Briah; Ruach to Yetzirah; and Nephesch to Assiah.
- But Chiah is in the soul the archetypal form analogous to Macroprosopus. Wherefore Neschamah, Ruach, and Nephesch represent as it were by themselves the Tetragrammaton, without Chiah, which is nevertheless symbolized “in the uppermost point of the I, Yod,” of the soul; As Macroprosopus is said to be symbolized by the uppermost point of the I, yod, of IHVH. For “yod of the Ancient One is hidden and concealed.”
- I select the following résumé of the qabalistical teachings regarding the nature of the soul from Eliphaz Levi’s “Clef des Mystéres,” This gives the chief heads of the ideas of Rabbi Moses Korduero and of Rabbi Yitzchaq Loria. “The soul is a veiled light. This light is triple: “Neschamah=the pure spirit; “Ruach = the soul or spirit; “Nephesch=the plastic mediator.
“The veil of the soul is the shell of the image. “The image is double because it reflects alike the good and the evil angel of the soul. “Nephesch is immortal by renewal of itself through the destruction of forms; “Ruach is progressive through the evolution of ideas; “Neschamah is progressive without forgetfulness and without destruction.
“There are three habitations of souls:– ”The Abyss of Life; “The superior Eden; “The inferior Eden.”
“The image Tzelem is a sphinx which propounds the enigma of life. “The fatal image (i.e., that which succumbs to the outer) endows Nephesch with his attributes, but Ruach can substitute the image conquered by the inspirations of Neschamah. “The body is the veil of Nephesch, Nephesch is the veil of Ruach, Ruach is the veil of the shroud of Neschamah. “Light personifies itself by veiling itself, and the personification is only stable when the veil is perfect. “This perfection upon earth is relative to the universal soul of the earth (i.e., as the macrocosm or greater world, so the microcosm or lesser world, which is man).
“There are three atmospheres for the souls. “The third atmosphere finishes where the planetary attraction of the other worlds commences. “Souls perfected on this earth pass on to another station. “After traversing the planets they come to the sun; then they ascend into another universe and recommence their planetary evolution from world to world and from sun to sun.
“In the suns they remember, and in the planets they forget. “The solar lives are the days of eternal life, and the planetary lives are the nights with their dreams.
“Angels are luminous emanations personified, not by trial and veil, but by divine influence and reflex. “The angels aspire to become men, for the perfect man, the man-God, [as distinguished from the God-man] is above every angel.
“The planetary lives are composed of ten dreams of a hundred years each, and each solar life is a thousand years; therefore is it said that a thousand years are in the sight of God as one day.
“Every week-that is, every fourteen thousand years-the soul bathes itself and reposes in the jubilee dream of forgetfulness. “On waking therefrom it has forgotten the evil and only remembers the good.”
- In the accompanying plate of the formation of the soul there will be seen in the upper part three circles, representing the three parts known as Neschamah, Ruach, and Nephesch. From Ruach and Nephesch, influenced by the good aspirations ot Neschamah, proceeds Michael, the good angel of the soul; that is to say, the synthetical hieroglyph of the good ideas, or, in the esoteric Buddhist phraseology, the “Good Karma” of a man. From Nephesch dominating Ruach, and uninfluenced by the good aspirations of Neschamah, proceeds Samäel, the evil angel of the soul; that is to say, the synthetical hieroglyph of the evil ideas, the “evil Karma” of a man. And the Tzelem, or image, is double, for it reflects alike Michael and Samäel.
- The following is Dr. Jellinek’s analysis [“Beiträge zau Geschichte der Kabbalah, Erstes Heft.” Leipzig. 1852.] of the sephirotic ideas, according to the ethics of Spinoza:–
(1.) DEFINITION.–By the Being who is the cause and governor of all things I understand the Ain Soph—i.e., a Being infinite, boundless, absolutely identical with itself, united in itself, without attributes, will, intention, desire, thought, word, or deed.
(2.) DEFINITION.–By Sephiroth I understand the potencies which emanated from the Absolute, Ain Soph, all entities limited by quantity, which, like the will, without changing its nature, wills diverse objects that are the possibilities of multifarious things.
- PROPOSITION–The primary cause and governor of the world is the Ain Soph, who is both immanent and transcendent.
(a) PROOF.–Each effect has a cause, and everything which has order and design has a governor.
(b) PROOF.–Everything visible has a limit, what is limited is finite, what is finite is not absolutely identical; the primary cause of the world is invisible, therefore unlimited, infinite, absolutely identical–i.e., he is the Ain Soph.
(c) PROOF.–As the primary cause of the world is infinite, nothing can exist without (EXTRA) him; hence he is immanent.
Scholion.–As the Ain Soph is invisible and exalted, it is the root of both faith and unbelief.
- PROPOSITION.–The Sephiroth are the medium between the absolute Ain Soph and the real world.
PROOF.–As the real world is limited and not perfect, it cannot directly proceed from the Ain Soph: still the Ain Soph must exercise his influence over it, or his perfection would cease. Hence the Sephiroth, which, in their intimate connection with the Ain Soph, are perfect, and in their severance are imperfect, must be the medium.
Scholion.–Since all existing things originated by means of the Sephiroth, there are a higher, a middle, and a lower degree of the real world. (Vide infra, Proposition VI.)
III.-PROPOSITION.–There are ten intermediate Sephiroth.
PROOF.–All bodies have three dimensions, each of which repeats the other (3 x 3); and by adding thereto space generally, we obtain the number ten. As the Sephiroth are the potencies of all that is limited they must be ten.
(a) Scholion.–The number ten does not contradict the absolute unity of the Ain Soph; as one is the basis of all numbers, plurality proceeds from unity, the germs contain the development, just as fire, flame, sparks, and colour have one basis, though they differ from one another.
(b) Scholion.–Just as cogitation or thought, and even the mind as a cogitated object, is limited, becomes concrete, and has a measure, although pure thought proceeds from the Ain Soph; so limit, measure, and concretion are the attributes of the Sephiroth.
- PROPOSITION.–The Sephiroth are emanations, and not creations.
- PROOF.–As the absolute. Ain Soph is perfect, the Sephiroth proceeding therefrom must also be perfect hence they are not created.
- PROOF.–All created objects diminish by abstraction; the Sephiroth do not lessen, as their activity never ceases; hence they cannot be created.
Scholion.–The first Sephira was in the Ain Soph as a power before it became a reality; then the second Sephira emanated as a potency for the intellectual world; and afterwards the other Sephiroth emanated for the moral and material worlds. This, however, does not imply a prius and posterius, or a gradation in the Ain Soph, but just as a light whose kindled lights, which shine sooner and later, and variously, so it embraces all in a unity.
- PROPOSITION.–The Sephiroth are both active and passive (MQBIL VMThQBL, Meqabil Va-Metheqabel).
PROOF.–As the Sephiroth do not set aside the unity of the Ain Soph, each one of them must receive from its predecessor and impart to its successor–i.e., be receptive and imparting.
- PROPOSITION.–The first Sephira is called Inscrutable Height, RVM MOLH, Rom Maaulah; the second, Wisdom, ChKMH, Chokmah; the third, Intelligence, BINH, Binah; the fourth, Love, ChSD, Chesed; the fifth, Justice, PcHD, Pachad; the sixth, Beauty, ThPARTh, Tiphereth; the seventh, Firmness, NTzCh, Netzach; the eighth, Splendour, HVD, Hod; the ninth, the Righteous is the Foundation of the World, TzDIQ ISVD OVLM, Tzediq Yesod Olahm; and the tenth, Righteousness, TzDQ, Tzedeq.
(a) Scholion.–The first three Sephiroth form the world of thought ; the second three the world of soul and the four last the world of body; thus corresponding to the intellectual, moral, and material worlds.
(b) Scholion.–The first Sephira stands in relation to the soul, inasmuch as it is called a Unity, IChIDH, Yechidah; the second, inasmuch as it is denominated living, ChIH, Chiah; the third, inasmuch as it is termed Spirit, RVCh, Ruach; the fourth, inasmuch as it is called vital principle, NPSh, Nephesch; the fifth, inasmuch as it is denominated soul, NShMH, Neschamah; the sixth operates on the blood, the seventh on the bones, the eighth on the veins, the ninth on the flesh, and the tenth on the skin.
(c) Scholion.–The first Sephira is like the concealed light, the second like sky-blue, the third like yellow, the fourth like white, the fifth like red, [This mixture of white and red refers to Microprosopus, as will be seen in the greater and lesser Holy Assembly.] the sixth like white-red, the seventh like whitish-red, the eighth like reddish white, the ninth like white-red whitish-red reddish-white, and the tenth is like the light reflecting all colours.
- I will now revert to the subject of Arikh Anpin and Zauir Anpin, the Macroprosopus and the Microprosopus, or the Vast and the Lesser Countenances. Macroprosopus is, it will be remembered, the first Sephira, or Crown Kether; Microprosopus is composed of six of the Sephiroth. In Macroprosopus all is light and brilliancy; but Microprosopus only shineth by the reflected splendour of Macroprosopus. The six days of creation correspond to the six forms of Microprosopus. Therefore the symbol of the interlaced triangles, forming the six-pointed star, is called the Sign of the Macrocosm, or of the creation of the greater world, and is consequently analogous to the two Countenances of the Zohar. This, however, is not the only occult reason that I have placed this symbol in the plate, for it typifies other reasons upon which I shall not enter here. “The Book of Concealed Mystery” fully discusses the symbolism of Macroprosopus and Microprosopus; therefore it is well, before reading it, to be cognizant of their similarities and differences. The one is AHIH, Eheieh; the other is the V, Vau, of the Tetragrammaton. The first two letters, I and H, Yod and He, are the Father and Mother of Microprosopus, and the H final is his Bride. But in these forms is expressed the equilibrium of Severity and Mercy; Severity being symbolized by the two Hs, Hes, the Mother and the Bride, but especially by the latter. But while the excess of Mercy is not an evil tendency, but rather conveys a certain idea of weakness and want 6f force, too great an excess of Severity calls forth the executioner of judgment, the evil and oppressive force which is symbolized by Leviathan. Wherefore it is said, “Behind the shoulders of the Bride the serpent rears his head:” of the Bride, but not of the Mother, for she is the Supernal H, and bruises his head. “But his head is broken by the waters of the great sea.” The sea is Binah, the Supernal H, the Mother. The serpent is the centripetal force, ever seeking to penetrate into Paradise (the Sephiroth), and to tempt the Supernal Eve (the bride), so that in her turn she may tempt the Supernal Adam (Microprosopus).
It is utterly beyond the scope of this Introduction to examine this symbolism thoroughly, especially as it forms the subject of this work; so I will simply refer my reader to the actual text for further elucidation, hoping that by the perusal of this introductory notice he will be better fitted to understand and follow the course of qabalistic teaching there given.
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