Wednesday, 7 December 2011

“Ibbur: Soul Impregnation” Mini-Series 3

This section is taken from “The Mystical Experience in Abraham Abulafia” by Prof. Moshe Idel. The extract below is from pages 192-193 in the section “4. The Secret of Impregnation”, part of chapter 4 “Erotic Images for the Ecstatic Experience”.

The secret of impregnation depends upon movements and the Zodiac; for behold, when your soul becomes wise it is impregnated with knowledge and gives rise to insights and wisdom in its thoughts, and the active intellect is her husband, and his name is ishim (i.e., the “people”), and he is her husband. And the vessels prepared for her are letters, which are material, and they fulfill the place of the womb of the woman [in relation to] the soul.
Abulafia attempts to relate the original Talmudic meaning of the term sod-ha-'ibbur (here translated as the “secret of impregnation”) - that is, the calculations necessary in order to determine the additional amount of time to be added to a leap year – to the meaning which he gives the same term. The intercalation of the year is dependent upon calculations pertaining to the movements of the constellations, for which reason sod ha-'ibbur in its literal sense pertains to the realms of time and space. Abulafia adds the soul to these two dimensions, so that we shall arrive at the well-known triad of Sefer Yetzirah, “soul [i.e. man], world and year”(nefesh, olam, shanah).” The connection between the impregnation of the soul and the intercalation of the year and the world lies in the fact that both are connected to calculations: The soul becomes impregnated when it calculates gematriot and combinations, so that it becomes wise and gives birth to “understandings” under the influence of the Active Intellect. It is worth noting that, like calculations of gematriot, the calendrical calculations are performed in Hebrew with the help of letters. The triad mentioned in connection with the intercalation also appears in Ner Elohim:
He who knows the secret of intercalation, which is the secret of year, will [also] know the secret of impregnation ['ibbur] of the world and of the impregnation of the soul. For this reason all the letters are twenty-two [in number], and there is the divine Name there: on one side YHWH and on the other side Ehyeh The names YHWH and Ehyeh add up to gematria to 47, which is the sum of the number of years in the “great cycle” of the sun, 28, and in the lunar cycle, 19.