Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Balancing of Netzach and Hod

I was going to jump on the bandwagon and add my two coppers to the amazing discussion on HGA that has been ongoing lately. Here is an excellent post by MC called “Holy Guardian Angels, Helpful Spirits, S.A.'s and The Genius” that links to some of the other blog posts. However, seeing as I've not done the HGA rites it's probably best to avoid proving my vast ignorance on this topic.

Anyway, on to the reason for this post. Rob over at Doing Magic blog recently posted about feelings of Malaise. In one of my two comments I mentioned ensuring that Netzach and Hod were in balance and when he replied asking for clarification... well I once again proved my vast ignorance. So to make up for it, here is a (hopefully) very enlightening extract from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's excellent book “Inner Space” on Netzach, Hod and Yesod (pp65-66): 

“...Let us examine how this relationship relates to Netzach-Dominance and Hod-Empathy. Netzach-Dominance is on the right side, under Chesed-Love, whereas Hod-Empathy in on the left. Hence Netzach-Dominance is a derivative of Chesed-Love, and Hod-Empathy is right beneath Gevurah-Restraint. If I am dealing with another person, it is not just a question of giving or holding back, because essentially, the more I give (Chesed), the more I am changing this person, the more I am overwhelming him (Netzach). The more I restrain myself (Gevurah), the more I give way to the needs of another, the more I allow him to assert his own individuality (Hod). What is required is a harmonious balance between Netzach-Dominance and Hod-Empathy, and it is this that leads to a perfect Yesod relationship.
The word Netzach (Nun-Tzaddi-Chet) comes from Menatzeach (Mem-Nun-Tzaddi-Chet), meaning to “conquer” or “overcome”. One can see this implication in a male-female relationship. Some men in a relationship feel that they must totally overwhelm the woman, who is not left with much personality of her own. Some woman also have a Netzach relationship with their husbands, where they have to dominate them in every way.
Hod-Empathy is just the opposite. It is a relationship where I totally give in to the other person. In Hod-Empathy, I essentially annul myself, and lose all account of myself. For instance, if a person allows himself to become totally passive to the point of being seduced, this would be the ultimate Hod relationsip. It is for this reason that the Hebrew word for Splendour, Hod, also has the connotation of Hoda'ah, which means submission. As we shall see, Hod-Empathy is submissive in the sense that it allows evil to exist.
The idea of Netzach and Hod is a question of asserting your identity on the one hand, or total compliance with the other person's identity on the other. The perfect Yesod-Foundation relationship is of course the balance between the two. What is important to emphasize here is that this rule holds true both in relationship between man and God as well as between man and woman. Yesod-Foundation represents the most powerful bond that can exist between two individuals. At the same time it is the ultimate attachment of man to the Divine. In fact, the Ball Shem Tov explains that marital intimacy is the paradigm of man's relationship with God. The motions of the sexual act represent the balancing back and forth between Netzach and Hod, while the final cessation of motion is Yesod. Yesod-Foundation is this the perfect mean between Netzach-Dominance and Hod-Empathy, the blending of two people in love. It is not only the physical blending, but a psychological and emotional blending which is the perfect balance between maintaining our identity, yet surrendering it...”

Some concluding thoughts for all (28 of) my readers... consider where the balance lies in your relationships in terms of Netzach-Dominance and Hod-Empathy with your partner, loved ones, friends and God. Also, consider that it is a dynamic system and every instance of thought, speech or action affects it.

For example, my recent interest in learning to do any kind of food preparation started with bread making and threatened to expand in to other areas. That had a subtle and significant effect on my household, hence I made the conscious decision to limit myself to bread making so as not to adversely affect the Netzach – Hod balance between my wife and I.