SMALL PIECE OF HISTORY CONCERNING THE HIEROS GAMOS AND JEWISH KABBALAH AND HOW THE TAROT

LAST REVISED APRIL 13, 2017

A PROPOSITION:

I propose that Elphias Levi came to London and hired Kenneth MacKenzie to codify the deck of a popular card game into a usable oracle. I believe MacKenzie re-applied Jewish Kabbalistic Gnostic principles entrenched in the Jewish Tree of Life to a Christianized Tree of Life. The Christianize version revised the original Tree centuries before removing critical aspects of this Jewish “interdimensional”  bridge specifically designed to erase the influence of the  Hieros Gamos  and infuse Yesod with the Hermit and inner epiphanies.  This is because the Hieros Gamos is a necessarily sexual act between a “transcendent” being and mortal the act of which validates and supports sex as an integral part to the process of sustaining and perpetuating life. This is why its called the “Tree of Life.”

The Jewish  Kabblah developed a system for the Heiros Gamos that put the Transcendent procreative processes into symbolic form consisting of a Tree made up of 10 whirling balls of energy which the Jews labeled Sefirots. Sefirotic symbolism shows us how what happens above as its reflected below in both an exoteric and esoteric fashion. So, now we can see how energetic beings follow a path down the Tree of Life to join with a mortal to enact a ritualized marriage which marriage sanctifies the womb so that this Being to conceive a magickal child. That is what the Tree of Life is about. Rabbinical Jews shunned it, Hermetics sanitized it, but even so, if Scholem had his way, everybody would know about it which would upset a great many people.

I believe by styling a deck of tarot cards based on an authentic Jewish Tree of Life, we’ll be able to reintroduce a system that satisfies an Occidental need to incorporate Hieros Gamos with less drama. I am hoping also to honor the Jewish Kabbalistic rites for the general public so we can consciously separate out the Kabbalah in a magickal, spiritual sense from its role in the Jewish cultural identity. A clear and conscious intent is vital for our activation of such a sensitive rite. Before any of this can happen, however, humanity must accept sex as a part of a Universal Genesis).

INTRODUCTION

  1.  I am translating the Kenneth Mackenzie’s format to create a bridge between the Middle Eastern Jewish religion and Occidental Magick’s source for spirituality. These cards are inspired by the JEWISH Tree of Life.
  2. My cards (as well as the Jewish Kabbalah that inspired them) are a mystical process, not a religious, social or political one. The kabbalists continuously stressed the subjective nature of their descriptions: everything is from the perspective of those who receive.” (Scholem. Kabbalah. p. 105)
  3. Gershom Scholem was a wildly prolific writer. He wrote countless manuscripts about the Kabbalah which were compiled into volumes of books. His insight grew over the years as research deepened his understanding of the Kabbalah. This is wonderful, but we are now left with an almost unmanageable body of work to study. Therefore, if I’m going to keep my information consistent, I’m going to rely heavily on Scholem’s material;
  4. I am not Jewish. The Tree of Life that the Jews created in the Renaissance was a brilliant system to drive and focus Transcent/human energetic connections, but they were not of a mind to create the Tarot. The Kabbalah was not “Jewish,” but a working that pieced together Gnostic principles gleaned from ancient science defined at the time as magick. They then cloaked this Tree of Life beneath layers of Jewish mysticism and cosmology. I am not trying to be Jewish, so am taking great efforts to take the religiosity because I have no structure to support my culture. I agree with Many believe Jewish Kabbalah to be a system foreign to the Jewish Faith and is a wonderful tool to do a practical intent.
  5. I believe there are 3 roots to Modern Occidental Magick:  a) Hermeticism, born under Cosimo de Medici’s influence during the High Renaissance which had an ascetic sensibility and was scientific and non-entity driven. b) Shamanism and Witchcraft which arose from the local traditions of the common folk, c) Finally, mysticism which is defined by the orientation of the mystic. The type of Magick I’m working with is specifically defined by the relationship engendered between our physical mortality and a network of individual conscious energy beings who find interactions with physical human beings useful.

For this essay, I will concentrate on the dialectic between Occidental and Jewish mysticism. The purpose will be to show that the Jewish Kabbalah of the Renaissance created symbolism that can illustrate the interaction between an entity with a Mission and the mortal it hoped would further its cause. I believe the Jewish Kabbalah was a creative way to describe a principle derived from Valentinian Gnosticism [define in endnote] and Neoplatonism. I think this can be clearly shown through a Jewish, not Hermetic, deck of cards using not so much the richness of Jewish mysticism, but an ability to access a what might be unaccessable.

CHAPTER I: HISTORY – MATTERS OF FACT AND FAITH

Bereshit, the first book of Torah was written around 600 BCE, but the Sons of God that mated with daughters of men as mentioned in Genesis 6:1-4, begat the Nephlim 3,000 years earlier.  Many of the concepts I will include in this essay were taught to me by my Abu (the Father that teaches).  Important to our concepts of Sons of God are related to the “Monad” as discussed in Gnostic literature which played an important role in the Gnostic conceptions of the 4 worlds as well as the 4 primordial Sefirots in the World of Intelligence. I will be looking at this point more as I develop the descriptions for the Major Arcanum of the cards

FIRST CONNECTION: BETWEEN JEWS AND ANCIENT HIEROS GAMOS

A long time ago in the misty dawn of history, humans migrated across distances that today is imagined as only travelable by airplane or train.  Proto-Caucasian skulls have been found scattered between Bulgaria and the Fertile Crescent and even as far south as the Mediterranean coast. These people were walking across Europe and the Middle East more than a hundred centuries ago.  I believe that during this period, the people we would later call “Sumerians” traveled the river ways and settled on Dilmun, the largest island in the Persian Gulf.  During the fourth millennium, the Sumerians crossed back to the main land and peacefully integrated into the existing Ubiad society. {1}  Ubaid society then experienced a plethora of advances in a short period of time.  Advances the Sumerians shared with the Ubiads include advanced irrigation, domestication of animals, a numeric system which included multiplication and division, the wheel, our system for measuring time consisting of 60 minutes to an hour and 24 hours in a day and dividing the circle into 360 degrees.  {2}

Historians have questioned why and how the society advanced so rapidly.  For me, the answer to this riddle lies not in historical, scientific study but in an understanding of spiritual entities and the essence of the Hieros Gamos.  The best place to begin is the Book of Genesis 6:1-4.  In this passage, we are told that the non-human Sons of God (“Nephilim”) took ‘daughters of men’ as wives and had children with them. These children mingled with the Sumerians and became the Bible’s “Mighty men” and “Men of renown.” {Gen 6:4} {3} These people whose ancestry included both human and other worldly progenitors crossed back to the mainland and shared their gifts with the Ubaid society which transformed it into the most sophisticated civilization yet know on earth.

This union of human and energy beings as we have defined as the Hieros Gamos is within the unseen central pillar of most Judeo-Christian mysticism.  In Bulgaria there is a man-made structure that appears to be an altar for Hieros Gamos which I have represented this “Womb Cave” in my First of Earth card.  It is likely that the people who created that alter migrated to the Zagros Mountains, sailed down to Dilmun before migrating to Eridu. I was taught these Sons of God came upon a people in Dilmun and mingled before the descendants went north on the mainland and built Eridu. When Abu first taught me these things, I researched in search for evidence that would disprove him.  I was never able to find any.

SECOND CONNECTION: JEWS AND GNOSTICISM AFTER THE FALL OF THE SECOND TEMPLE.

In Origins of the Kabbalah by Gershom Scholem, he says: “As an historical phenomenon, in medieval Judaism, the Kabbalah was bon in Provence, or more precisely in its western part, known as the Languedoc. From there is was transplanted in the first quarter of the thirteenth century to ARagon and Castile in Spain, where most of  its classical development took place.

NOTE TO SELF: This section probably needs to be put in an appendix. I copied the following from Wikipedia: If important we can look deeper into this piece:

His system tells of 30 aeons, divided into an Ogdoad, a Decad, and a Dodecad; of the fall and recovery of Sophia; of the future union of the spirits of the chosen seed with angels as their heavenly bridegrooms. What Marcus added to the teaching of his predecessors was a system of Isopsephy similar to that of the later Pythagoreans, about mysteries in numbers and names. Marcus found in Scripture and in Nature repeated examples of the occurrence of his mystical numbers, four, six, eight, ten, twelve, thirty.

Marcus appears to have been an elder contemporary of Irenaeus, who speaks of him as though still living and teaching. Though we learn from Irenaeus that the Rhone district was a home to the followers of Marcus, it does not appear that Marcus was there himself, and the impression left is that Irenaeus knew the followers of Marcus by personal intercourse, Marcus only by his writings. We are told also of Marcus having seduced the wife of one of the deacons in Asia (διάκονον τινα τῶν ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ), and the most natural conclusion is that Asia Minor was the scene where Marcus made himself a teacher, probably before Irenaeus had left that district; that it was a leading bishop there who resisted Marcus; and that his doctrines passed into Gaul by means of the extensive intercourse well known to have then prevailed between the two countries.

The use of Hebrew or Syriac names in the Marcosian school may lead us to ascribe to Marcus an Oriental origin. The only grounds, for believing him to be of Egyptian extraction are these:—Sulpicius Severus, and others who give the history of the origin of Priscillianism, tell that one Marcus of Memphis brought the Gnostic doctrines into Spain, from whom Agape and Elpidius learned them. Jerome certainly identified this Marcus with the subject of the present article, his notion bring that Marcosian doctrine, which we know from Irenaeus to have been prevalent in Southern Gaul, naturally passed on to the adjacent province of Spain. It is not quite clear whether Jerome felt the chronological difficulties of his theory, which, however, could be easily got over by supposing that the first Priscillianists were to be regarded as having learned from Marcus, not because they had been taught by himself personally, but because they had learned from men who revered him as the founder of their sect. But since Priscillianism contains none of the points which distinguish Marcus from other Gnostics, it is safer to regard Marcus, of Memphis as a distinct personage.

 

THIRD CONNECTION: KABBALAH IN THE RENAISSANCE: Probably one of the most influential effects the Christians had on Magick and Mysticism during the High Renaissance of Western Europe happened during the late 15th Century.  The Jewish Heiros Gamos was submerged into an ascetic Christian Cabbala as Jewish mysticism infiltrated throughout Italy during their diaspora from Spain in 1492.

This excerpt from Joseph Dan’s KABBALAH a Very Short Introduction is vital to understanding this transition: (p. 63)

The kabbalah was transformed from a uniquely Jewish religious tradition into a European concept, integrated with Christian theology, philosophy, science, and magic, at the end of the fifteenth century. From that time to the present it has continued its dual existence as a Jewish phenomenon on the one hand and as a component of European culture on the other hand. The failure to distinguish between the two different–actually, radically different–meanings of the kabbalah in the intrinsic Jewish context and in the European-Christian context is a key reason for the confusion surrounding the term and concept of the kabbalah today. Readers are disappointed when they do not find the characteristics of the Jewish kabbalah in the writings of Christian kabbalists and vice versa. … They [Christian kabbalists] constitute an attempt to present the main outlines of the development of the different meanings and attitudes that contributed to the multiple faces of the kabbalah in European (and later, American) Christian culture.

The development of the Christian kabbalah began in the school of Marsilio Fincino in Florence, in the second half of the fifteenth century. It was the peak of the Italian Renaissance when Florence was governed by the Medici family, who supported and encouraged philosophy, science, and art. Florence was a gathering place for many of the greatest minds of Europe, among them from Constantinople, which was conquered by the Turks in 1433. Fincino is best known for his translations of Plato’s writings from Greek to Latin, but of much importance was his translation to Latin of the corpus of esoteric, mysterious old treatises known as the Hermetica. These works, probably originating from Egypt in late antiquity, are attributed to a mysterious ancient philosopher, Hermes Trismegestus (The Thrice-Great Hermes), and they deal with magic astrology, and esoteric theology. Fincino and his followers found in these and other works a new source of innovative speculations, which centered around the concept of magic as an ancient scientific doctrine, the source of all religious and natural truth.

A great thinker who emerged from this school was Count Giovanni Pico dela Mirandola, a young scholar and theologian, who died at age thirty-three in 1496. Pico took a keen interest in the Hebrew language, and had Jewish scholars as friends and teachers. He began to study the kabbalah both in Hebrew and in translations to Latin made for him by a Jewish convert to Christianity, Flavius Mithredates. … Modern scholars have found it difficult to distinguish in Pico’s works between these two: magic is often presented as a synonym for the kabbalah. Pico regarded magic as a science, both in the natural and theological realms, and he interpreted the kabbalistic texts with which he was familiar as ancient esoteric lore conserved by the Jews, at the heart of which was the Christian message, which is fortified by the study of kabbalah.

After Pico/Mithredates, there’s a sketchy lineage of Hermetic kabbalahist that includes: Pico della Mirandola, Johann Reuchlin and Paolo Riccio. The next name that stands out prominently is the Jesuit Priest, Athanasuid Kircher (1602-1680) who furthered Pico’s work.

The Cabala’s (as some people call the Christian Cabala), agenda was reinterpreting the Tree of Life to assign Keter – Father, Chochmah – Son and Binah as Mary. It had some kickback from Christianity because this interpretation would mean Mary would be included in the Holy Trinity and naturally this is something Christianity refused to do.

 

CHAPTER 1: EXTREME DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CHRISTIAN/HERMETIC AND JEWISH KABBALAH WITH A WORD ON CULTURAL APPROPRIATION

Although there is a general consensus about the names of the 10 Sefirots, there are huge discrepancies about what the labels mean. The largest schisms in the 3 paradigms, Christian, Jewish and Hermetic, lies with the Jewish inclusion of the Sacred Sexualized Feminine on all 3 of the Jewish Kabbalah’s Worlds.

There are 3 pillars in Jewish Kabbalah. The Middle pillar is God’s path to the Shekhinah. The right pillar is the male polarity whereas the female is on the left. The idea of the female having a place in the Divine is generally absent in Occidental traditional religions as spirituality was thought to be ascetic, nobody knew what to do with Her.  The Mesopotamian paradigms celebrated a receptive, sexualized, fertile feminine divine aspect. This glorious worship of the divine feminine was buried by Christian Gnostics in the arid desert sands.  The non-ascetic Gnostic sect, the Valentinians, most known for writing the Gnostic Book of Phillip, tried to preserve this concept.

Before the Greek philosophers gave it the name Heiros Gamos, Babylonia and the other civilizations in and around the Fertile Crescent deeply revered the power of the Divine Feminine. The Heiros Gamos is a Sumerian/Akkadian/Babylonian ritual which other cultures eventually adopted. The Jews had been an intimate part of Sumer/Akkad/Babalonian history for over 3,000 years. It is unclear how much they practiced sacred sexual rites once they left Babylonia, however, it get embedded into the core of the Jewish Kabbalah.

In his book, Kabbalah, Gershom Scholem laments the great push back from Jewish scholarship against Kabbalah and the Zohar. They were reacting to the perception that Kabbalah had a bad influence on Jewish culture and that it was fundamentally a foreign paradigm. Let’s be fair, what these academics fear is true and probably had solid reasons to complain. The few that met the challenge weren’t rewarded very well. One author Scholem sites was  Eliakim Milsahagi (Sandler) who did a lot of work during the 18th Century but remained mostly unpublished. Scholem also recognized two scholars whose approach had some affinity for the topic, those being the Christian F. J. Molitor in Frankfurt and the Jew Elijah Benamozegh in Leghorn. (p. 202)

He further states that “the many books written on the subject in the 19th and 20th centuries by various theosophists and mystics lacked any basic knowledge of the sources and very rarely contributed to the field, while at times they even hindered the development of a historical approach. Similarly, the activities of French and English Occultists contributed nothing and only served to create considerable confusion between the teaching of the Kabbalah and their own totally unrelated inventions, such as the alleged kabbalistic origin of the Tarot cards. To this category of supreme charlatanism belong the many and widely read books of Elphias Levi (actually Alphonse Louis Constant; 1810-1875), Papus (Gerard Encausse 1868 – 1916), and Frater Perdurabo (Aleister Crowley 1875-1946) all of whom had an infinitesimal knowledge of Kabbalah that did not prevent them from drawing freely on their imaginations instead. The comprehensive works of A.E. Waite (The Holy Kabbalah, 1929) S. Karppe and P. Vulliaud on the other hand were essentially rather confused compilations made from secondhand sources.
(p. 203)

I emphatically agree that the 18th, 19th and 20th Century Occultists were grasping at straws in their attempt to lend legitimacy to a burgeoning magickal system apart from Christianity. Their mistake may have been what ultimately amounted to cultural appropriation to legitimize their own agenda. It seemed to me that Scholem took such a strong exception to what might be considered outside interference because the Kabbalah had a larger purpose, he felt, than nurturing fraud. His concern was that a “profoundly altered approach to Jewish history that followed in the wake of the Zionist revival and the movement for national rebirth led, particularly after World War I, to a renewal of interest in the Kabbalah as a vital expression of Jewish existence.”

So Scholem should understand how the modern Occultists being deeply inspired to define structure for new and exciting methods of performing magick even if most of it came from the human imagination rather than a tether to tradition. I would say there is a lot of value in imagination as a fertilizer for seeds of a priesthood and authority which were growing in the midst of (I’m sorry but) the religious tyranny as exercised by the Christian church. To do so, they reached for scholarly “throw aways” such as John Dee’s Enochian Magic. They hungrily borrowed from Agrippa. And as unscholarly as they may be, I have seen the power of mysticism, talent and charisma in Aleister Crowley, Jack Parsons, Lon Milo DuQuette, Donald Michael Kraig that vouches for the validity of new spiritual pathways.

To clarify what I believe is the Occultists’ position, they feel their beliefs spring from the Hermetics of the Renaissance and developed from the very people that Scholem vilified.  Even as I take issue with what might be considered fraud, I frankly don’t want to. After all, the point to Occultists is they opened up for our culture an opportunity and authority to enter into the “paranormal” without interference from politicized religions and institutionalized academics. I’d even say the Jewish authority that claimed the Kabbalah and enacting Hieros Gamos, was in fact a Mesopotamian rite immersed in Mesopotamian deity, like Shemash for example who had been the god of the sun in Babylonia for thousands of years. I’m not complaining. Had the Tree of Life not been inoculated into Jewish culture, it would have disappeared entirely. This is especially important to me since my point in this essay is to show why Hieros Gamos is a good thing.

The cards Scholem derides made the world aware that a Kabbalah and Tree of Life existed. There’s a lot of attention and money focused on the Kabbalah and Zohar now. Within the Jewish mindset is a word B’shert meaning fate or what’s completely in God’s hands. B’shert was applied a great deal by Jews surviving concentration camps. It was a powerful word that a Jew often depended on when there absolutely was no ground on which to stand. B’shert I think can be used here as it is clearly a divine agenda when one spiritual state arises from another. The purpose for Aleister Crowley to open up the OTO for instance, was to start a new Aeon. Modern magickal communities have a lot to thank the Jews for. Modern witches are illegitimate children of the Occultists who are illegitimate children of the Christians (including the Gnostics) who are illegitimate children of the Jews and the Jews freed themselves from the Babylonians and somewhere in there lies the ancient rites of the Hieros Gamos.

Besides – Scholem is a also a secondary source, though probably a more reliable one that what was available to the 20th Century Occultists.

On the other hand, the Occultists need to recognize what is within the purview of their identity and what is not. Identity is a valuable thing that I deeply believe needs to be respected. The West has always had a problem it seems with respecting the sacred boundaries of cultural identity naming the Indians of the American continents as one example.

But there is a second confusing difference being the paradigms which leads us to the light or emanations that formed the Sefirots which Scholem says is “The progressive movement in the hidden life of God, which is expressed in a particular structural form, established the rhythm for the development of the created worlds outside the world of emanation, so that these first innermost structures recur in all secondary domains. Hence there is basic justification for a single comprehensive symbolic system. An inner reality that defies characterization or description can only be expressed symbolically.  … when interpreted mystically, they speak of the ineraction between the Emmanator and the emanated, between the different Sefirot themselves, and between the Sefirot and the activities of men…  none of this symbolism has any bearing on Ain Sof.” (Scholem: Kabbalah. p. 105, 106) which Scholem states happens through Torah and prayer. I believe the cards could have been a Hermetic’s attempt at clarifying these symbols by applying tarotic “archetypes” and pathways as well as a map to show paths between Sefira.

CHAPTER 2: KABBALAH (spellings according to Gershom Scholem

The general consensus is that starts with KETER [the Crown]. To understand the god’s journey to earth, and His reason to walk into the king, the embodied spirit then is able to perform the Hieros Gamos with the High Priestess during the annual festival when they were seeding crops. Instead of the entity, for Hermetics use the Christian Hermetic “God.” I get it —  but a nice fit happens when we use Spinoza’s enhanced universal vision of God where we all become the total sum of Its parts. This leaves room for a personal Transcendent/Daemon becomes a part of this scenario to take its place at Keter for the individual practitioner that couples the daemon with a human partner. He is then is promoted through his union with a literal “soul” mate to become part of the whole GOD. There’s some heresy here – but I think it makes a nice story. Getting back to the point, in Jewish Demonology these “personal guides” are considered demons and hunger to have sexual relations with humans — We will talk about this later. [Scholem. Kabbalah. p. 322]

To continue with the Tree, the descriptions below from Gershom Scholem “Kabbalah” p 106

Right #2 Hokhmah [Wisdom]. 

Left  #3 Binah [Intelligence] Generally considered “Mother of the World” from which the other 7 sefirot emenate. (Scholem, Kabbalah. p. 120)

Middle Da’at [Knowledge] is not assigned a sefirot really but from the end of the 13th century onward became an extension of Keter that extends between Hokhmah and Binah to harmonize the two. [Scholem, Kabbalah. p. 107]

Right #4 Either Gedulla [Greatness] or Hesed [Love]

Left #5 Gevurah [severe judgment]. The restrictive power of creation. The Thou Shalt Nots.  We all need boundaries. [Scholem, Kabbalah. p. 163] Enters prominently into demonology dealt with later.

Middle #6 Tiferet [Beauty] or Rahimim [compassion]

Right #7 Nezah [Lasting Endurance]

Left #8 Hod [Majesty]

Middle #9 Zaddick [Righteous one] or Yesod Olam [Foundation of the World]

#10 Malkhut [Kingdom] or Atarah [diadem]

Scholem says: “This terminology was greatly influenced by the verse in 1 Chronicles 29:11, which was interpreted as applying to the order of the Sefirot. Although the Sefirot are emanated successfully from above to below, each one revealing an additional stage in the divine process, they also have a formalized structure. Three such groupings are most commonly found. In their totality, the Sefirot make up “the tree of emanation” or “the tree of the Sefirot,” which from the 14th century onward is depicted by a detailed diagram which lists the basic symbols appropriate to each Sefirah. (Scholem, Kabbalah p. 107)

It is the Sefirot we are concerned with here. What always impressed me about Jewish texts is that they weave one sacred text together with another. Extremely important to every Jewish text is the meaning of their letters. Within the 22 letters of the Jewish “Alefbeit” is not only the meaning of the letter itself, but also its place in the Alefbeit, and its numeric value. As we consider the word “value” as we mean it here, we have to think of each letter as a life form…as it is uttered by an ultimate G_d. So, let’s not think of the value of a letter as being its quality which would be inappropriate. But I believe the number that is assigned to the letter shows where it fits in any particular word to give accurate context to any meaning we would apply to a specific text. It is an extremely precise process. The study of placing a value and meaning to a letter which is then put accurately into a word is Gematria. This would be extremely helpful with providing descriptions to the cards. Any work I do with Jewish Kabbalah and Tarot Cards is going to suffer because I do not have enough knowledge about Gematria so will use Chabad.org which can assist until anybody might want to pick up where I leave off.

There are 22 letters in the Hebrew Alefbeit; there are 11 sefirot if we counting from Keter to Malchut. The “god” descends to marry and inseminate his consort and then returns to Keter a better god. This means that we will see 2 letters in every sefira – one descending, one returning home representing the outer side of the god and his inner soul working..

[fn: It may not be too much of a deviation too see the similarity between this mode of understanding the importance and approach to a word and its letters and the first verse of John in the New Testament saying, “In the beginning was the Word.” Such a sentence to open up a new Book in the Bible to me shows the spiritual connection between the Greeks and Hebrews which is obvious looking at Ancient Greek alphabet.]

Let’s look for a moment at the 9th and 10th sefirot. About them Scholem says in his book, “On the Kabbalah and its Symbolism” pp. 104-105:

The esoteric thinking of the Zohar–as the book repeatedly points out–is wholly concerned with the primordial world of man, as creature and as the increate Adam Kadmon. For this secret world of the Godhead manifested in the symbol of man is both at once; it is the world of the ‘inner’ man, but also the realm which opens up only to the contemplation of the believer (see first paragraph?) and which the Zohar terms the ‘secret of faith,’ raza de-mehmanuha.

The mythical nature of these conceptions is most clearly exemplified by the distinction between the masculine and feminine, begetting and receiving potencies in God. This mythical element recurs, with rising intensity, in several pairs of sefiroth and is expressed most forcefully in the symbolism of the last two. The ninth sefirah, yesod, is the male potency, described with clearly phallic symbolism, the ‘foundation’ of all life, which guarantees and consummates the hieros gamos the holy union of male and female powers.

This notion of feminine potencies in God, which attain their fullest expressing in the tenth and lst sefirah, represents of course a repristination of myth that seems utterly incongruous in Jewish thinking. (that’s because its Mesopotamian). Consequently it seems necessary to say a few words about this idea, that is, about the Kabbalistic conception of Shekkinah which is a radical departure from the old Rabbinical conception. ..

In Talmudic literature and non-Kabbalistic Rabbinical Judaism, the Shekhinah–literally in-dwelling, namely of God in the world–is taken to mean simply God himself in His omnipresence and activity in the world and especially in Israel. God’s presence, what in the Bible is called His “face,’ is in Rabbinical usage His Shekhinah. Nowherein the older literature is a distinction made between God Himself and His Shekhinah; the Shekhinah is not a special hypostasis distinguished from God as a whole. It is very different in the usage of the Kabbalah, beginning with the Bahir, which already contains most of the essential Kabbalistic ideas on the subject. Here the Shekhinah  becomes an aspect of God, a quasi-independent feminine element within Him. Such independence, as we have seen above, is realized in a sense in the third sefirah, which is the upper mother or upper Shekhinah, but also, strange to say, the demiurgic potency. Of the seven potencies that emanate from it, the first six are symbolized as parts of the Primordial Man’s body and epitomized in the phallic ‘foundation’ which oddly enough, is the symbolic representation of the Righteous One (Zaddick), as the God who maintains the powers of generation within their legitimate bounds. God is the Righteous One insofar as He proves all living things with the vital energy which holds them to their own law, and so likewise the man who maintains his generative powers within their rightful limits and measures, and hence by extension the man who gives each thing its due, who puts each thing in its proper place, is the Righteous Man to whom the Kabbalists relate the verse from Proverbs (10:25): ‘The righteous is the foundation of the world.’

The tenth sefirah, however, no longer represents a particular part of man, but as complement tot he universally human and masculine principle, the feminine, seen at once as mother, as wife, and as daughter, though manifested in different ways in these different aspects. This discovery of a feminine element in God, which the Kabbalists tried to justify by gnostic exegesis, is of course one of the most significant steps they took. Often regarded with the utmost misgiving by strictly Rabbinical, non-Kabbalistic Jews, often distorted into inoffensiveness by embarrassed Kabbalistic apologists, this mythical conception of the feminine principle of the Shekhinah as a providential guide of Creation achieved enormous popularity among the masses of the Jewish people, so showing that here the Kabbalists had uncovered one of the primordial religious impulses still latent in Judaism.

An ancient Babalonian legacy Gershom Scholem didn’t see – Oh well I guess he couldn’t do it all 😉

CHAPTER 3: ABOUT ALTERING THE HERMETIC DECK FROM THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND RETURN TO THE ORIGINAL JEWISH KABBALAH OF THE RENAISSANCE

So, what sets the Jewish Kabbalah apart from the others are two-fold:

  • Judaism to create standards which put a supernatural GOD into palpable terms. At one time, Kabbalah dealt with the topic of consciousness outside mortality: The Transcendents/Daemon/Demons and what they are.  If we can look at non-material realities as a PRACTICAL principle, then we can potentially open up new possibilities for understanding beyond the corporeal. Physicality is simply a part of a bigger mechanism. Ayelward tells me physicality is about 1% of some much bigger “thing.” There is a practical interaction with consciousness outside and inside our physicality.
  • The Sacred Sexualized Feminine is equally prominent as the masculine in the Jewish Kabbalistic perspective: a concept which completely baffles our monotheistic religions.

I believe that:

  • Consciousness is thermaldynamic;
  • It is a part of our active psyche and that Jung tapped into it;
  • This is the active part of the soul which connects Consciousness to its body;
  • Consciousness has a synergic relationship with the physical body. The body gives consciousness a means to express itself while consciousness helps the body learn and progress. This is why incorporating non-physical consciousness into a physical reality is an important stage for both to progress;
  • It is important not to apply labels  like “Spiritual” and “Religious” to such discussions because labels are weighed down by preconceived ideas and dogmatic legalism.
  • Therefore as a community we need to develop new definitions for soul, spirit/energy being, transcendents/gods.  These new definitions will evolve organically out of further study.
  • Throughout the centuries many mystics have had erotic mystical experiences that were recorded in an asexual language.  Of course, not every mystical experience is erotic, but there have been many more erotic ones than established religions would like to admit.
  • The Mesopotamians used these mystical erotic relationships for political and religious purposes.  After 3,000 years of practice, the Greeks named these rituals Hieros Gamos;
  • I believe the Jewish mystic Baruch Spinoza had a solid understanding of the soul’s role in the bigger picture.

With Spinozan sensibilities, I’m using historical antecedents to create tarotic Myth which include energy-beings. One such “Being” traveled with and guided the Jews both within Mesopotamia and beyond; but there were more – thus Elohim at the beginning of Torah. This energy-being claimed dominion over the Jewish race/nationality, but Shemash, the Assyrian/Babylonian sun god took over their journey when the Jews became global. This is recognized today as Shemash has a place as the center candle on the menorah and is lit on every Jewish Sabbath. Seen in this light, the Jewish Kabbalah is a system which could be defined as a mechanism and the Tarot could be its remote control. Let’s see what that looks like.

First, through the Hieros Gamos, the Jewish Kabbalah facilitated sex between human and energy beings/Transcendents, BUT WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT is that these Kabbalistic polar dynamics gave an enormous recognition of the Sacred Feminine – Something nobody in Western Europe could begin to understand – especially on a religious level. What’s interesting is that the design of the “Tree of Life” are two pillars (“poles?”) one to the right and left of the central pole with a constant back and forth interplay between the pillars.

Now ask yourself, what does the Tarot, Jewish Kabbalah and Hieros Gamos have in common? I’d say one thing would be they all use a mythic language to capitalize on its unique symbolism. This is important because within the context of society at the beginnings of the 21st century Myth is a language common to both daemon and human beings.

In “Memories Dreams Reflections” Carl Jung says:

The need for mythic statements is satisfied when we frame a view of the world which adequately explains the meaning of human existence in the cosmos, a view which springs from our psychic wholeness, from the co-operation between conscious and unconscious. Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness. Meaning makes great many things endurable–perhaps everything. No science will ever replace myth, and a myth cannot be made out of any science. For it is not that “God” is a myth, but that myth is the revelation of a divine life in man. It is not we who invent myth, rather it speaks to us as a “Word of God. The Word of God comes to us, and we have no way of distinguishing whether and to what extent it is different from God. there is nothing about this Word that could not be considered known and human, except for the manner in which it confronts us spontaneously and places obligations upon us. It is not affected by the arbitrary operation of our will. We cannot explain an inspiration. Our chief feeling about it is that it is not the result of our own ratiocinations (thoughts — wow) but that it came to us from elsewhere. (p. 340)

Jung repeatedly said…we get information from beyond us. Inspiration is NOT a function of our “higher selves.” Mythic symbolism is the language and source for our greatest thoughts and inspirations which we could use in the Hieros Gamos as depicted in the cards.  There is a language based on symbols that the Tarot developed in the 1400s which was a symbolic vehicle communicating through a voice from beyond. It is completely obvious that the Christian/Hermetic Kabbalah was the foundation for the Major Arcanum of the Tarot from Italy in the late 1400s. It was probably the Turkish refugees who brought playing cards, the foundations for the Minor Arcanum. The ability to translate deep magickal paradigms into archetypal symbols integral to the cards easily became potent magickal icons from the 1500s forward.

Those who knew the seriousness of knowledge went to great lengths to hide it from the general public, first within the Jewish religion as kabbalah and second by the Christians and Hermetics changing it which defined alchemy and in fact all of magick under a whole different paradigm. Tarot was then changed by A. E. Waite in the 20th century. What I’m proposing here is not to cause a revolution in the present day Tarot community, but to to reveal a lost ancient rite which can become another path to wisdom and to guide modern practitioners in it’s performance.

BRIDGING JEWISH MYSTICISM AND A PACK OF CARDS

Aleister Crowley’s The Book of Thoth (Egyptian Tarot) refers to Elphias Levi (p. 5) who “proposed to Kenneth Mackenzie, a famous occult scholar and high grade Freemason, to reconstitute and issue a scientifically-designed pack.” As I said above, I found there to be two separate Trees of Life from 2 entirely different roots which  Joseph Dan touched on in his book “KABBALAH A Very Short Introduction” (Dan. Introduction. pp. 63-4) It’s a little book, but don’t let that fool you. It is extremely meaty.

Clearly, Jewish scholars find our Occidental occultists not only annoying but their cultural appropriations interfering and intrusive, however perhaps their isolation is limiting to their efforts as well. Kenneth McKenzie’s cards are a powerful tool for embedding arcane principles into modern magick.  I can see why this would be a problem, but, we have to admit that the Hermetic cards themselves as apparently designed by Mackenzie have a pattern which show incredible ingenuity. Let’s see what happens when you align McKenzie’s method with the original Kabbalah.

Scholem tells us the emanations come from the sefirot themselves, and that some Kabbalists separate these emanations into two categories. The lower sefirot are where the powers materialize and the upper ones illuminate “the hidden life of G_d, which is expressed in a particular form.” For Kabbalists, this form established a rhythm for the development of the created worlds outside the world of emanation (the Tree of Life) so that these inner most structures (the upper sefirot) recur in all secondary domains. This is what justifies creating a single comprehensive symbolic system. (See Kabbalah p. 105)

But it looks like what MacKenzie did by using cards,  he revealed an exoteric and esoteric system within the 22 major arcanum using the Christianized Kabbalah reworked from an unfamiliar paradigm. Thus by using the 20 card (Judgment) as a base he revealed an inner meaning by taking away a number of the Trump from 20 or its Judgment. Take 0 (the fool) away from 20 (Judgment) – you get Judgment or consequences; 1 (the magus) from 20 you get XIX (the sun or clarity). II (high priestess) away from Judgment you get XVIII (the moon, hidden knowledge and the occult) and so on. By working down the Tree, each sefirot reveals both its role to the world as well as the inner meaning that motivates the role into action. It is thus that Kenneth Mackenzie created a sublimely systemized deck for Elphias Levi.

We can use a “MacKenzie” format on the original Jewish system and through Gematria we’d find the meaning behind its Hebrew letter and numerical value in Jewish mysticism that Crowley found less wieldy and turned instead to astrology. Unlike the beginning of the 20th Century, you can now easily follow from several sites on the internet such as the teachings of an Orthodox Chassidic Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin at Chabad.org.

Apparently, according to the material left by Levi, Mackenzie hit a snag at XVII which was the Star which should correspond with Tzaddik, the 17th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Ultimately, Crowley put Tsaddik in Dalet as the 4th letter without knowledge of Tsaddik’s meaning but Crowley did this through an act of inspiration. What’s makes this interesting is when we find that within the Jewish symbolic letters (which are as Old as the Hills), Tsaddik means mouth or speaking as in the King speaking – a description better used in the IV for Emperor than XVII for the Tarotic Star. Crowley said everything then fell into place. (see Crowley’s 1st Chapter of the Book of Thoth)

As an old Catholic alchemist, one issue Crowley had was attempting to resolve why 4 is preferred in the Jewish Kabbalah as derived from the YHWH (Tetragrammaton) instead of the trinity as promoted by the Christian “C”abbalah. That’s just one paradigm shift we need to go through while comparing the Hermetic and Jewish Trees of Life. They differ in some important ways which we begin to see as we look at the Hermetic cards.

One place we can start is the point to the Shekhinah which is her expulsion from G_D to nest in Malchut, the 10th sefirot. Hieros Gamos embedded into Yesod, the 9th sefirot where the Hermetics assigned the Hermit. The sacred marriage here would explain WHY tarot cards might fit into the category Ancient Sexual Rituals if reworked from the Jewish Kabbalah. Kabbalistically speaking Hieros Gamos (the Sacred Marriage) is associated with the redemption of the Shekhinah (the Divine Feminine) or Malchut, the 10th sefirot which has been separate from the main main Tree or Adam since the 10th century.* Another particularly interesting divergence Hermetics take can be seen in the 5th sefirot in the Jewissh Tree being Gevorah or Din aligned with Lilith and Severe Judgment and Strength which paradoxically could be compared with the Hermetics’ assignation of The Pope or Hierophant in a tarotic 5th position, putting Severe Justice and Strength instead in 8th or 11th positions depending on which deck you’re using.

What we are talking about here is the deep magick embedded into the cards which Jewish Mysticism never felt necessary. I believe there is much more Mackenzie could have gotten from the Jewish perspective and vice versa. Symbolism as I believe I’ve demonstrated is given to us through each Hebrew letter is deeply insightful.

Rabbi Raskin tells us through Dalet (the 4th letter) we see the 4 Kabbalistic worlds. If expanded to tarotic archetypes it could prove productive especially when we attempt magickal rites bringing down a monad from the heights of Atzilius (the highest of the spiritual words), through Beriah (the second world where we first see consciousness of self) to engage the Hieros Gamos in Yetzirah (the world where created beings take on form) to redeem the Shekhinah in Asizyah (the physical universe).

Jewish Kabbalists believe that an object’s reality is founded in the interpretation of whoever experiences that object. PaRDeS is the Jewish word for this concept. Everyday examples of this can be found in how people react to symbols like the swastika, the Confederate battle flag and Rorshac inkblots. Clearly everyone’s understanding of symbols comes out of their own interpretation.

With that idea in mind, after fifty years of studying the Tarot, here is how I see it:

The Major Arcanum can be split in two parts, the exoteric being 0 – 10 or the structures by which we practice our spirituality and the esoteric being 11-21 or  a Path to Transcendence.

THE INTELLIGENT WORLD:  In 13th Century Spain, the Jewish Mystic, Azriel of Gerona separated the 10 sefirots into 3 “worlds”, Intelligence, Psychic and Natural.

o = Kabbalistic Ain Sof – 0 in Tarot = Fool: the idea of God before interacting with us. He is alone and innocent. “He’s” alone and wants to share so makes space and begins creating something outside of Himself, the act which the Jews call Tzim Tzum.

The Tree of Life is a sum total of 3 trees. The first tree being Intelligence, beginning with Keter in the 1st sefirot which comes out of 0 Ain Sof – The Void. He makes a vase/vessel into which he pours his power, but the vessel is too weak to hold his light and breaks making 10 emanations that become for us the Tree of Life.

From Keter (MIDDLE PILLAR BELOW AIN SOF) comes Hokmah (RIGHT PILLAR) Wisdom traditional interpretation, but according to Azriel’s interpretation, it’s Divine Will that separated the Adam Kadmon from Ain Sof. This is what began the regressive/aggressive dialectic within each Sefirot (Scholem: Kabbalah p. 130) and why every sefirot participates twice. So HOKHMAH CARRIES BOTH THE MAGICIAN as it expands out and the SUN as it regresses back in.

In the 2nd Sefirot of  Hokmah in the World of Intelligence = I Magician as he is his own person, separate from Keter and uses elements to create – in this case life, more specifically man. Think Prometheus, the trickster that gave man fire in spite of Zeus and paid dearly for it.

Da’at (Knowledge) is symbolically represented by an androgynous continuation of Keter that stretches down to nest between the 1st/2nd sefirots and the 3rd sefirot Binah (LEFT PILLAR) (“Intelligence”) which can easily be symbolically represented by III Empress – the Divine mother from which all the 7 sefirots emanate. Da’at’s knowledge was included in the 13th century to balance out Will and Intelligence (Scholem, Kabbalah P. 107). We assign II High Priestess the holder of occult knowledge direct – the mystic receiving her information from God (or the god/daemon).

So to recap:

Ain Sof = 0 The Fool
1 Keter Wisdom
2 Hokhmah (Scholem spelling)
Keter+Hokhmah = I Magician (Will/Wisdom)
Da’at (Knowledge) = II High Priestess (Knowledge)
3 Binah = III Empress  (Intelligence/Manifestation)

THE PSYCHIC WORLD: World that resolves the Divine with the Mundane in the Natural World.

4 (RIGHT PILLAR) Can be either Gedullah (greatness) or Hesed (Love). Traditional Christian/Hermetic interpretation for this sefirot is IV Emperor. Like a traditional father over his family, I believe this is the highest ideal for a ruler whose people are his greatest concern.

NOW WATCH THE V HIEROPHANT COMPLETELY CHANGE WITHIN THE VISION OF THE JEWISH KABBALAH

5 (LEFT PILLAR) Either Gevurah (Power) or Din (Judgment/Rigor – I have also seen this referred to as severe justice) If you Google Lilith and Gevorah, many websites attribute Lilith to this sefirot along with much of the darkness in magick and demonology. It’s compelling as she is one of the demons created during the first 7 days of creation most particularly during twilight of the Sabbath as disembodied spirits. According to Scholem “They sought to take on the form of a body through an association of humans.”  Though much baggage has always been heaped on Lilith, for our purposes now, she is mentioned once in Isaiah 34:14 who lives with the beasts of prey that will lay waste to the land on the day of vengeance. (Scholem, Kabbalah P. 356)

In a Kabbalistic tarot, I would call V Din a female and look like Lilith. She would represent great justice – taking Justice out of VIII – leaving that place for something mythically relevant and more appropriate.

The IV Emperor as ruler and sovereign he is humbly requesting Mercy and Love from V Din which is apparently granted as they join in the MIDDLE PILLAR through Sefirot 6 meaning either Tiferet (“beauty”) or Rahamim (“compassion”). I think symbolically keeping the VI Lovers works.

THE NATURAL WORLD

Gershom Scholem says, “Of the seven potencies that emanate from [Binah], the first six are symbolized s parts of the Primordial Man’s body and epitomized in the phallic ‘foundation’ which oddly enough is the symbolic representation of the Righteous One (Zaddick), as the God who maintains the powers of generation within their legitimate bounds.  God is the Righteous One insofar as He provides all living things with the vital energy which holds them to their own law. And so likewise the man who maintains his generative powers within their rightful limits and measures, and hence by extension the man who gives each thing its due, who puts each thing in its proper place, is the Righteous Man to whom the Kabbalists relate the verse from Proverbs (10:35) ‘The righteous is the foundation of the world.” (Scholem. Symbols. P. 105)

The point to the Natural World is completion of the Hieros Gamos. RIGHT PILLAR (M) VII Netzah (“Lasting Endurance”) Is that too clear about the man’s role? LEFT PILLAR VIII is Hod (“Majesty”) Her passion links with the other 2 on this pillar (mother + judgment/power) and brings majesty. And the MIDDLE PILLAR – union of the two – IX Zaddick (“Righteous One”) or Yesod Olam (“Foundation of the World”) IX is the HIEROS GAMOS – the union with

X Malchut (“Kingdom”) or Atarah (“diadem”) The Shekkinah – The Divine Feminine that energizes the MIDDLE PILLAR with a connecting Keter/Hochmah. How incredibly sexual is that?

Scholem says, “The tenth sefirah, however, no longer represents a particular part of man, but, as complement to the universally human and masculine principle, the feminine, seen at once as mother, as wife, and as daughter, though manifested in different ways in these different aspects. This discovery of a feminine element in God, which the Kabbalists tried to justify by gnostic exegesis, if of course one of the most significant steps they took. Often regarded with the utmost misgiving by strictly Rabbinical, non-Kabbalistic Jews, often distorted into inoffensiveness by embarrassed Kabbalistic apologists, this mythical conception of the feminine principle of the Shekkinah as a providential guide of Creation achieved enormous popularity among the masses of the Jewish people, so showing that here the Kabbalists had uncovered one of the primordial religious impulses still latent in Judaism.” (Scholem. Symbolism. P. 205)

Probably the most glaring difference that holds true in the Jewish Kabbalah is the presence of the Sacred Feminine in all three developmental stages of the Adam Kadmon. See III Empress, V Din, VIII Majesty X Shekkinah.

PART 3: TAKING IT TO THE NEXT STEP

What about 11-20?

To begin, David is a left brain fact finding Magician. He’s always been spiritual, but was never very much into the magick of much of anything. His talent has always seeing patterns in things until one night Little pieces converged and all the knowledge he’d been picking up through the years until one night they came together and he was the initiated into the mysteries to became the Magician he is today. One of these little pieces fell into place when he came to me amazed asking me if the Moon in Tarot was XVIII. I said yes, how did he know. He said the number 20 is the key. If you take the number of the card away from 20 you see its counter-part. Draw two circles of equal size with 10 equal pie slices in each. Plot one arcana in each slice progressing clock-wise on the right and 11-20 on the left going counter-clockwise and fold it in half. What you have is each number in the place of its power AND it’s the lemniscate you see over the heads of the 1 Magician (the beginning of one circle) and the 11 Strength (the beginning of the second circle).

So it looks like:

 

Then mythically it lays out like this: The archetype from 20 (Judgment)

  • The Shekhina is Kingdom – we’d have to erase /Majesty.

Mythically this system has all the markings for the Priesthood of an Ancient Religion presently off our cultural maps – complete with where the person crosses through a Rite of Passage between worlds.

Interesting here is the character needed from both partners to ultimately invoke an energy-being to participate in sexual rites.  I have not gotten far enough back yet, but I understand the Kabbalah was inspired by the Valentinian Gnostics which I hope to touch on in another essay.

At first glance, we could think the major Arcanum was attached to a deck of playing cards to hide from the Inquisition in the 1400 – 1500s. But the Jewish worldview understood demons belonging to Gevorah and Scholem says “[Demons] were not created out of elements but out of fire and air.” (Scholem. Kabbalah. P. 321) Is it coincidence that there has been a long controversy since A.E. Waite as to whether Wands is Fire and Swords Air or the other way around. I believe the Minor Arcanum might also have a part to play in interacting with power as well. Something for me to explore later.

 

 

 

        
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