Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Ibbur: Soul Impregnation Mini-Series 5

This is the final installment for the Ibbur mini-series taking a look at the concept of impregnation by a foreign soul for a temporary duration with non-malevolent intent and results. This post draws it's quotes and inspiration from the book: “Between Worlds: Dybbuks, Exorcists, and Early Modern Judaism” by J.H. Chajes. It's a fantastic book, well researched and hopefully I'll review when I've finished reading it.


Extract #1: pp.18
“...Just as certain practices might nullify evil 'ibburim, other practices were designed by Spanish rabbis to cultivate propitious contact with the dead. These venerable practices were designed to bind the practitioner to lowest portion of the tripartite soul of a departed saint, the nefesh. The nefesh was thought to remain in contact with its former body and was thus accessible at the grave...”  
Extract #2: pp.19
”...How is it that an embodied soul can communicate and commingle with the disembodied souls of the deal? And embodiment is indeed taken to be the heart of the problem; course flesh suffices to obscure the refined spiritual form of the dead from the eyes of the living. A metamorphosis of this fleshy garment of the soul is indispensable. So writes Cordovero: “This matter will be apprehended and discovered in the secret of the Garment [levush] prior to Adam and the rest of the worldly existence, before Adam's sin, the secret 'Garment of Light.' For after the sin of the corporealization [of the Garment] as matter, it was said to him, 'you are dust, and shall return to dust.'” The garment of light ('or) fashioned by God for Adam (Gen. 3:21) was created first as light (or). Sin resulted in its corporealization, and with the physicality came opacity and, tragically, perishability. In other words, when Adam was first created, like the dead, he too was formed of a fine, diaphanous body of light, partaking of immortality...”  
Extract #3: pp.21-22
“...In this mystical circle, necromantic techniques such as graveside protestation were not always required to bring about impregnation of the soul of a departed saint into the body of a living counterpart. Elsewhere in his mystical diary, Vital relates that there were times when h heard voices speaking to him, which he did not know with certainty to those of visiting transmigrants. He even suspected the voices to be his own. In doubt, he consulted with a Damascene sorcerer, who in turn summoned a demonic spirit to appear in a looking glass, in order to respond to Vital's query. “He answered me,” writes Vital, “He [the 'ibbur] is the speaker, and not me. For his soul enclothes itself in my heart, and from there he raises the sound of his words to my mouth and he speaks with my mouth, then I hear...”
These to me are amazing insights in to what an ibbur is and why impregnation and communication is possible. Extract 1 shows that the connection is only at a nefesh level and not at the levels of ruah or neshamah. Extract 2 explains nicely how Adam pre-sin was not in the coarse coporeal form that we inhabit now. Rather he had a body of light and the practitioner seeking to achieve a soul impregnation or communication needs to sensitize their body of light with that of the dead. Finally extract 3 blows my mind on the simple basis that Rabbi Chaim Vital collaborated with a sorcerer in Damascus.

Finally in closing my interest in Ibbur has in the past been driven by a desire to be able to communicate with the departed soul of Rabbi Abraham Abulafia. However, since his grave site is unknown it is currently not possible to try the practise of grave protestation as described in this series. None the less the soul of Abulafia was apparently successful in impregnating Philip K. Dick as noted in this blog post by Avi Solomon.