| Lesson 2 | Qabalah Study Hall
"The ancient mystical traditions of the Hebrews possessed three literatures (Old Testament,Talmud, Qabalah) ......Ignorant men may with profit read the first, learned men study the second, but the wise meditate upon the third" - Dion Fortune in her book, Mystical Qabalah
Qabalah: What is It, and Where did it come from?
History of the Qabalah
To the modern Judeo-Christian practitioner few words mean as much as Qabalah. Qabalah is the very heart of the Western Mystery Tradition. The Qabalah is a system of mysticism that finds it origin in the hands of the Jewish people. Qabalah handed down its knowledge by oral tradition. It was not until the Middle Ages that the knowledge of Qabalah was finally written down in any large quantities. These Holy books that were created, later influenced many of the modern mystery traditions, such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Qabalah is spelled many different ways: Kabbalah, Cabala, etc. We chose the Q spelling as it is most associated with Christian study of the Qabalah, whereas the Kabbalah is the Jewish mysticism angle.
Historically speaking, the Qabalah went through several distinct phases. Each of the phases represents a school of thought or a different approach. The first phase and by far the earliest school of thought is that of the Merkabah tradition. Merkabah is really pre-Qabalah, which appeared as an organized school about 300-100 B.C.E. Merkabah is a Hebrew word meaning, "chariot of fire." The idea was to build yourself one and ride it up through the seven heavens to God. The Merkabah tradition's aims, in essence, are the same as that of Qabalah. Each Merkabah Rider aimed to:
ascend into the spiritual realms, so that the aspirant might
see the face of the divine and
become enlightened by the experience.
The techniques in the Merkabah school require that the student memorize words of power, and gain knowledge of the guardian beings of the different spiritual levels or "heavens."
Several centuries later what we know as Qabalah proper began to emerge. With the writing of the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation), and the Sefer Zohar (Book of Splendor) the more modern schools of thought came into existence. The Sefer Yetzirah and the Sefer Zohar emerged around 100 AD with the historical authorship going to Rabbi Akiba for the Sefer Yetzirah and Rabbi Simon Ben Jochai for the Sefer Zohar. It is interesting to note that among some traditions the Prophet Moses is said to have written the Sefer Yetzirah. Unknown to many practitioners and scholars is that it was very common in those days to attribute work done in a more modern time, to one of an ancient scholar, thus giving the work more validity.
The next stage in the spiritual evolution of Qabalah occurs from the 12th-15th century. In this time period the Sefer Ha Bahir (Book of Brilliance) is written. Many influential Teachers come from this time, such as Rabbi Abraham Abulafia who was one of the most important exponents of mystical Qabalah. Rabbi Moshe Cordovero complied one of the most important compilations on Dogmatic Qabalah called the "Pardes Rimonim". Rabbi Moses de Leon published a new version of the Sefer Zohar. Which brings us to Rabbi Isaac Luria.
Rabbi Luria founded a mystical tradition of Qabalah often called "Lurianic." Much of Rabbi Luria's work is still in print and will be the subject of a later lesson.
The final phase in Qabalah's evolution has occurred in the last few centuries, with the coming of Hermetic Qabalah. Hermetic Qabalah owes its existence to the many occult writers, Christian scholars, Medieval and Renaissance orders, and most importantly the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The Golden Dawn is almost single handedly responsible for spreading and saving the ancient school of the Qabalah. Hermetic Qabalah is a combination of the Greek mysteries, Arabian occult knowledge, and Ceremonial or Ritual Magick.
In closing I would like to say that this is a very brief history of the Qabalah. In fact entire books have been written on this subject alone. In the Advanced Qabalah course we cover more historical information, but for this over-view course a timeline of Qabalah's "lifespan" will suffice.
At the end of each lesson there will be an assignment and at least one exercise. Even if you are pressed for time, please do the work. The minute you decide to do the hands-on part of this course, you start making that climb, the climb up the Tree of Life (Qabalah) or the fiery chariot ride up into the spiritual realms (the Seven Heavens of Merkabah science).
Assignment One: Please cut and paste these questions and put in an email to the Mystery School with Qabalah Lesson 1 in the subject line.
1. Who created the Qabalah?
2. What time period did the Qabalah finally start to get written down?
3. What was the first phase of the Qabalah's evolution called?
4. What was the three part goal of the Merkabah tradition?
5. Who wrote the Sefer Yetzirah?
6. True or False. Did Moses write the Sefer Yetzirah?
7. Name a few of the Influential figures from the 12th-15th century.
8. What was the final school of the Qabalah called?
Exercise One is a breathing exercise designed to help you to breathe better and to memorize the names of the Archangels, so important in our Qabalah work. You will see the word "vibrate" in this exercise and many others. When Adepta Kristyana asked Frater Lux Invictus to briefly explain vibrate, here's what he wrote back...
"Helloooo Dr Katiaaaaa.
When you Vibrate you're trying to set up a resonance inside your mind and in the astral plane to increase the power of the words being spoken. I guess the astral entities like this. I often like to show people how to Vibrate by writing it down. Let's say Chokmah(Hhhoookkmaaaah)."
Step 1: Inhale deep into your lungs for a count of four.
Step 2: Hold your Breath inside for a count of four.
Step 3: Breathe out completely for a count of four.
Step 4: Inhale deep inside and vibrate the Name of the Archangel Raphael in your mind.
Step 5: Hold your Breath inside for a count of four.
Step 6: Breathe out completely and vibrate the name of the Archangel Gabriel in your mind.
Step 7: Inhale deep into your lungs and vibrate the name of the Archangel Michael in your mind.
Step 8: Hold your Breath inside for a count of four.
Step 9: Breathe out completely and vibrate the name of the Archangel Uriel in your mind.
Step 10: Start over at step 4 and repeat.
This exercise should be done once a day for the next two weeks. During the exercise try to keep to the count of four when inhaling, holding, and exhaling if at all possible, but do not agonize over it. It is more important that one continues to do the breathing exercise throughout the two-week period. For extra memorizing help, write down the names of the Four Archangels and write a number 4 beside each one. Carry this in your pocket or purse and when you come across it, quietly recite the names of the "big Four" in your mind.
Section A: Aspects of Qabalah
Qabalah is a Hebrew word, pronounced "kah-bah-LAH," and is spelled many different ways. You may have seen kabbalah, kabala, cabala, qabala, etc. There is only one way to spell it in ancient Hebrew, which writes its words without vowels. Qabalah is written QBLH.
QBLH is a Hebrew word that means "tradition". Interestingly enough the root of QBLH is the word QBL, which means, "to receive." The relationship between to the two words alludes to the ancient tradition of passing down knowledge by word of mouth. The Qabalah encompasses a vast amount of esoteric knowledge, and is often classified under four different yet connected aspects.
1. DOGMATIC QABALAH---the study of the holy books of Qabalah. Books often studied are the Sefer Yetzirah, Sefer Zohar, and the Sefer Ha Bahir.
2. LITERAL QABALAH---deals with Gematria. Gematria is the study of the relationship between the numbers and letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
3. PRACTICAL QABALAH---the study and construction of Qabalistic talismans and golems.
4. UNWRITTEN QABALAH---deals with the study of the different glyphs and sacred diagram symbols of the Qabalah, such as cubes, stars, etc. (Note in this course we will focus on the most important diagram / symbol, the Tree of Life. Others are covered in the Advanced Qabalah course)
Section B: The Tree of Life
The Qabalah is a precise system of mysticism that describes universal laws and shows us students of the divine how to put them into actual use in daily life. The Qabalah often uses sacred symbols to help us realize its teachings. Symbols sink into your subconscious and become part of your hard-drive almost immediately; and this happens just by gazing at them. Advertizers know this well, thus the invention of the "logo."
The Tree of Life is a powerful and ancient symbol and is the central symbol of Hermetic Qabalah. Indeed most other schools use this symbol to some degree. The Tree of Life, often abbreviated as ToL, is composed of ten spheres called sephirot (spheres in Hebrew) and twenty-two connecting pathways. The pathways are lines drawn between and connecting the ten spheres to each other. When the sephirot and the paths are all joined, they form the Sacred Tree of Life. The ten sephirot represent divine Attributes, and are often called the divine emanations of deity. The sephirot are singularly referred to as sephirah (meaning sphere). The ten sephirot and the twenty-two paths comprise what is called the Thirty-Two Paths of Wisdom. It is significant to note that there are twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet, considered a sacred alphabet by which the Creator made the Universe. There are also twenty-two major arcana cards in the Tarot deck. Each card is a powerful visual symbol, as you probably already know.
The Tree of Life is the single most important symbol in Hermetic Qabalah and is considered highly important in those schools that have a more mystical flavor rather than a dogmatic one. The Tree of Life is arranged in a pattern that places the sephirot (spheres) in juxtaposition, so that the energies of each sephirah are counterbalanced with the sephirah on the opposite side of the tree. The ten sephirot emanate from the Three Negative Veils of Existence. The Negative Veils represent various stages of abstract nothingness. Yeah, that's right -- nothingness.
The first outermost veil is Ain. Ain means "nothing".
The most important pattern, which occurs on the Tree of Life, is the pattern of the three pillars. The three pillars are formed from the succession of the sephirot (spheres) from top to bottom. The right pillar, called the Pillar of Mercy is composed of the sephirot Chokmah, Chesed, and Netzach. The Pillar of Mercy represents male energies on the tree. The middle pillar, the tallest of the three, is called the Pillar of Mildness and is comprised of four Sephirot: Kether, Tiphareth, Yesod, and Malkuth. The Pillar of Mildness is the most balanced energy on the Tree of Life, and is considered by some to be a straight route up to God. The left pillar, the Pillar of Severity, is made up of the three Sephirot: Binah, Geburah, and Hod. The Pillar of Severity represents the female energies of the Tree of Life.
Study Questions.Please cut and paste these questions and put in an email to the Mystery School with Qabalah Lesson 2 in the subject line.
Section A: Aspects of Qabalah
1. What does the Hebrew word "QBLH" mean?
2. What is the root word of "QBLH"?
3. What is the aspect of Qabalah that deals with the study of the holy books of Qabalah?
4. What is the aspect of the Qabalah that deals with the construction of talismans used in Qabalistic Magick?
5. What is the aspect of Qabalah the deals with Gematria?
Section B: The Tree of Life
6. What is the central symbol of Hermetic Qabalah? How is it abbreviated in "occult" shorthand?
7. How many sephirot (spheres) are on the Tree of Life?
8. How many pathways are on the Tree of Life?
9. What do the sephirot represent?
10. What is the outmost Veil of Negative Existence?
11. True or False: Ain Soph means "limitless".
12. What is the name of the right pillar?
13. What energy does the left pillar represent?
14. Name the sephirot that make up the middle pillar.
Exercise for Lesson 2
The Qabalistic Cross
Stand and face eastward and visualize a blinding while Light touching the crown of your head. Reach up with your index finger or a ritual dagger and connect with the light and draw the energy down to your forehead.
Notes on the Qabalistic Cross:
When vibrating the Hebrew words and phrases you can do it out loud or in your mind. Make sure the vibration is constant and not strained in any way. The translation for the vibrated words and phrases as follows:
"ATAH," meaning "thou art".
"MALKUTH," meaning "the kingdom."
"VE-GEBU-RAH," meaning "and the power."
"VE-GEDULAH," meaning "and the glory."
"LE-OLAHM, AMEN," meaning "forever, unto the ages."
The Qabalistic Cross can be used by itself for purposes of attunement and energy raising and can be added to just about any ritual you can think of.
Making the sign of the cross. Try to practice the Qabalistic Cross at least once a day. For the next several months try to do it once in the morning, and once at night. Make sure to memorize this ritual. The ancients did it so often that it became part of unwritten Christianity. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches teach their members, even children, how to cross themselves at certain important times, or anytime they feel the need. Reciting / vibrating the words has died out, but the words are not completely lost to Christianity, coming as they do at the end of the Lord's Prayer.