Thursday, 26 December 2013

Are Golems Physical or Not?

In the closing days of 2013 my thoughts often turn to the question of whether golems are phyiscal beings or spiritual/astral creatures? I think that to try to answer this question, it is important to consider the closing chapter of the brilliant Professor Moshe Idel's book: "Golem: Jewish Magical and Mystical Traditions: On the Artificial Anthpoid".
Summary pp. 275-6
VII 
"After presenting the major texts concerning the creation of the artificial man in Franco-Ashkenazi and Sefardi mysticism, some general observations on differences between their treatments of this topic are in order. One major difference seems to be the attitude on the very act of creation: the Franco-Ashkenazi descriptions of the techniques of creation do not inelude a basic reticence regarding the performance of the ritual of creating a Golem. Indeed, they require certain conditions of purity, but that is basically all. In the case of Ashkenazi texts which include a warning against the creation, it is obvious that these are parts of an earlier text, which were influential on the Franco-Ashkenazi authors. I would like to emphasize that even then the warning does not occur together with the technique to create the man. On the other hand, those Sefardi texts which elaborate on the issue of the Golem end with a warning, as in the case of Abulafia, or the act of material creation is presented as an inferior activity to be transcended by the intellectual creation. In the most extreme case, that of Cordovero, the creation of the Golem is presented as a totally meaningless activity from the spiritual point of view. This last motif is totally absent from the Franco-Ashkenazi texts. This basic divergence is to be understood, as we have already remarked, by the influence of philosophical speculations which preferred the intellectual over the material, thought over matter, intellection over action. This fundamental divergence is carried down to the later centuries, when the Golem is discussed in a favorable light by Ashkenazi authors, as almost a human being, in comparison to the continuation of the line of Cordovero, so evident in the Sefardi milieux. 
Each of the important types of thought in the Franco-Ashkenazi provinces developed, in the thirteenth century, a certain view on the technique of the creation of the Golem. The differences between these techniques are obvious, and the common interest in this topic in the different circles may be important evidence that the deep concern with the Golem predates the period when the above texts were committed to writing. This situation stands in sharp opposition to the indifference toward this topic among the Sefardi mystics who, with the exception of Abraham Abulafia did not pay much attention to this tradition. Let us ponder the implications of the above distribution of the interest in the Golem. The early Kabbalists, Provencal and Catalan, deliberately minimize the interest in this topic in comparison to the Ashkenazi Hasidim. The attitude of the theosophicaltheurgical Kabbalists in Castile during the last third of the thirteenth century is even more reticent. It is highly significant that the luxuriant Kabbalistic production, which is unpreceded in Jewish mysticism, including the works of R. Joseph Gikatilla, R. Moses de Leon, R. Joseph of Hamadan and the literature which constitute the Zohar itself, are indifferent to the practice of creating a Golem. This is the case also in Safedian Kabbalah. As we have seen, R. Moses Cordovero, the single important Safedian Kabbalist who has something new to contribute to the idea of the Golem, is rather reticent in attributing any spiritual degree to the Golem, assuming as he does that no real spiritual faculty can be infused in the artificial being. The great Kabbalistic corpus of literature named Lurianic Kabbalah seems to totally ignore the issue of the Golem.19 Therefore, the two main bodies of Kabbalistic literature, the Castilian and the Safedian, were reticent in including this topic in their spiritual agenda. On the other hand, the Ashkenazi Hasidism and the ecstatic Kabbalah seem to be the only types of medieval Jewish mysticism which developed this idea, presenting it either as a mystical or as a magical technique. The most important influence of their interest in the artificial creation of man are the texts of the Renaissance authors, whose affinity to the texts of R. Eleazar of Worms and Abulafia is conspicuous. Therefore, using the distribution of the discussion of the topic related to the Golem, we may design two lines of medieval mysticism: the theosophical and theurgical Kabbalah running from Provence through Catalonia and Castile to Safed, indifferent to the problem of the artificially created man; the ecstatic one, flourishing in Germany, appearing momentarily also in Spain, but resurfacing basically in medieval and Renaissance Italy, and the East, namely, the Land of Israel..."
And to understand why there are divergent opinions and emphasis on the debate about golem creation, Prof. Idel adds to the above chapter:
Summary pp. 278
IX 
"The difference between the two religious emphases is due, I assume, to the influence of the alien philosophical theologies on the respective Jewish theologies. The Ashkenazi and French masters were immersed in the ancient Jewish mystical theology of the Heikhalot literature with its magical and anthropomorphical proclivities. The influence of the Sa'adyan thought, great as it is considered to be, did not totally erase the importance of the older forms of thought and practices. On the other hand, Spanish Jewish authors of the eleventh and twelfth centuries were already under the impact of Neoplatonic and Aristotelian philosophies, without betraying a significant stratum of older Jewish theology, formulated under the influence of the Heikhalot literature. The impact of philosophy in Spain was earlier, greater and more profound than it was in Germany and France. The Franco-Ashkenazi elite was much more closed to external influence and even the influence of philosophy was already mediated by Eastern or Spanish Judaism. In comparison to the fine knowledge of Islamic philosophy found in the Spanish elite, the Northern European Jewish masters seem to be much more isolated and even reticent toward the alien lore. Even when the Spanish Kabbalists did refer to the Golem, it is as part of a more speculative discussion in the context of arguments on the nature of the soul; these discussions are conspicuously consonant with their general philosophical concerns..."

So there you have it... One set of Kabbalists who believe the golem to be a physical creation and the other who consider the golem to be an intellectual creation. Whilst I would normally side with Rabbi Abulafia in most discusson on Kabbalah, when it comes to understanding the creation of the golem - I hold with the opinions of the Chassidei Ashkenaz (German Pietists).

Clay Terminator?

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Ark Phone Home


Disclose.tv - Ancient Aliens S06E10 Aliens and The Lost Ark

Normally I don't have the patience or desire to watch lengthy videos like the one above (sorry Gordon). But I found this one to be quite interesting. One thing that struck me was the constant reference to aliens inhabiting distant planets. I'm not convinced that our Neighbours (angels or aliens) are that 'far' away...

Monday, 16 December 2013

Bumbling Bimblomancy

There are 3 games left this season against a Norse themed line-up including Ravens, Vikings and Giants. Anyway, this week's bibliomancy came up with the following result:

Book of Daniel Chapter 12, verse 7:
7. And I heard the man clad in linen, who was above the waters of the river, and he raised his right hand and his left hand to the heavens, and he swore by the Life of the world, that in the time of [two] times and a half, and when they have ended shattering the strength of the holy people, all these will end.
This is quite a timely verse as this week's portion of the Torah read includes a reference to the Patriarch Jacob attempting to, and being denied the ability to, predict what will happen in the end of days.  In fact, on the same day as I read the verse from Daniel, was also the same day that Judah gets his famous Gur Aryeh blessing from his father.

So take-aways from todays bibliomancy are:
  1. Initial impressions matter and my initial impression was that Daniel 12:7 was both confusing and technical
  2. The context in which the verse is found appears not to matter
  3. The raising of the hands may relate to referee signals and decisions
  4. The strength of the Lions will be returned in the second half (?)
  5. I don't really understand how bibliomancy works, but it's been fun trying to figure it out each week
Bibliomancy is recommended before the match, not during
If you're wondering if bibliomancy works, a brief search shows of at least one recent success story. Anyway, it looks like I have to do a lot more learning about how bibliomancy works... back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Thoughts on Love



The blogger Moloch Sorcery wrote a great piece on love magic, I’m a bit surprised that it’s not been followed up by other bloggers chipping in their 2 cents on the use of magic for love.
Anyway, here is the entry for love in the Encyclopedia ofJewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism By Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis:
Love: (Ahavah; Chesed; Yedidutl Chaviv). To be loved is a universal human need. For Jewish magicians, love really can come in a bottle. A variety of love potions and love-inducing amulets are documented in medieval Jewish literature (Naveh and Shaked. Magic, Spells and Formulae, 150, 177, 199. Also see Janowitz, Icons of Power, 113) One example involves a magic square with angelic names written on a shell (it is unclear whether an egg shell, turtle shell, or sea shell ins meant) with ink made from spices, using a bronze or copper instrument. Several love incantations involve casting a spell inscribed on metal or clay into a fire, using the flames as a magic analogy for burning passion: “just as this pot shard burns, so may burn the heart of…” SEE CAIRO GENIZA; SEFER HA-RAZIM; SWORD OF MOSES
As you can see there is a rich tradition of love spells in Kabbalah, however it’s not something that I have ever tried – hence I cannot comment whether they work or not.

Anyway, the sages in Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot5:16) say:
16. Any love that is dependent on something--when the thing ceases, the love also ceases. But a love that is not dependent on anything - never ceases. What is [an example of] a love that is dependent on something? The love of Amnon for Tamar. And one that is not dependent on anything? The love of David and Jonathan.

So here are the three guidelines of romance that every golem builder should consider:
  1. Look for a partner with similar life goals. If you’re not heading in a similar direction in life, sooner or later you’re in danger of moving in different directions.
  2. Look for character traits that you admire. Sure physical attraction is important, but it’s not what it should all be about. Eventually good looks will fade (see quite from Ethics about love based on a thing). 
  3. A relationship is like a garden. A small amount of frequent tending will reap great rewards, but if you leave it untended for too long – the weeds will overgrow the garden and you’re left with the choice of replanting your garden or abandoning it. 


Saturday, 7 December 2013

Divining the Wings of Eagles



Kings 22: 37 "The king had died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried the kind in Samaria. The driver rinsed out the chariot at the pool of Samaria; the dogs licked up the king's blood, and the harlots bathed in it - like the word of Hashem that He had spoken."

This describes the ignomious end of King Ahab. He went in to battle disguised and was hit by a stray arrow. "A man of Aram drew his bow aimlessly, yet hit the king of Israel between the joints of his armor." (Kings 22:34). So my advice? Don't discount those aimless tackles, you never know which key (disguised) player may get taken out at a critical juncture.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

This is not a review: The Thirteen Petalled Rose

I've just started re-reading "The Thirteen Petalled Rose: A Discourse On The Essence Of Jewish Existence And Belief" by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.


Keeping with the theme of 'this is not a review', I will not go in to any detail about this book. However, if I were to recommend only one introductory book about Kabbalah this would be it. Rabbi Steinsaltz tops pretty much any other author whom I have come across, whether in Hebrew or Western Mystery Kabbalah books. After five years of reading about Kabbalah, practicing meditation, and struggling to get some kind of experiential knowledge of Sefer Yetzirah, Book, of Creation, I am still learning new things from this amazing introductory text.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

A Mysterious Book about a Hidden Race Living in Darkness

Recently a friend lent me a book in Hebrew that had some very interesting information about a race of beings whose existence is both terrifying and intriguing. It’s hard to date when this book was first printed and on which manuscripts it was originally based. However one thing that does stand out is that the names in the book hint strongly at it being translated in to Hebrew from another language; possibly even from the language of this mysterious race of beings.

Land of birth
The title of the book references the realm of birth in which the main protagonist is from. It’s apparent early on that the race of beings is related to Fae. According to Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis’ “Encyclopaedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism” the term fae first appears in medieval European Jewish texts. There are similar such beings referred to as Kesilim (imps) and Banim Shovavim (changelings or shape-shifters).

First of three tomes on the dark fae

Anyway as you can see form the image above, the author hints at the existence of two other tomes that describe the lives of these amoral and sadistic creatures. There is a clear statement that this is the first volume and there is a clear mention of fae. The word next to fae is problematic in my opinion as it either means that they have fallen or that they are literally living within the darkness of the earth.
Whilst the latter option of translating the word may seem far-fetched, I have it on good authority that at least one Kabbalist makes mention of non-human entities living within hollows in the earth. The rabbis in the Talmud make explicit warnings to stay away from ruins and uninhabited places. Having read more of the depraved society of this race of being who may or may not live within the ground, I can see why one would want to stay away from any place that may be they slip in and out of our world.

Rabbi Selbeturah
The second-to-last clue that the author leaves is his pseudonym, a Rabbi Selbeturah. And most daring of all, he even includes a sketch of the one being who attempted to rebel against his tyrannical upbringing and escape. Putting all the clues together, here is the cover of this intriguing book.


Thursday, 14 November 2013

Meditate More with Less

Silence
I have been fairly quiet of late. Not just on this blog but also in every day conversations.
I just don’t have much to say at the moment. This may in part be due to the meditation that I’ve been doing recently.

Do More with Less
Ever worked for a boss who expects more for less? I know that feeling well. When work and home life got rather busy over the past several months, I had a tough decision to make - either reduce my meditative practice even further or dramatically increase it.

Three Years in a Cave
This is how long it takes to become a golem builder, 3 years living in a cave. Aside from looking after bodily functions it takes 3 years of solid meditation practice to get to the point where a practitioner may be skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced enough to create a real golem.
Consider that for just a moment, doing over 9 hours of day of meditation each day constantly trying to push your limits; doing just that bit more than you’re capable off the day before. That would total roughly 10,000 hours which some modern writers are claiming you need to master a particular discipline.

Do it all the Time
So faced with the dilemma of having less time to meditate, I was given some invaluable advice. Don’t meditate less; try instead to meditate all the time. In particular to learn and practice the meditation as described in the book by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg “Living in Divine Space: Kabbalah and Meditation”.

It described how to create a ‘cube of space’ around yourself by meditating on 6 commandments that correspond to each of the directions. I had come across the idea of a ‘cube of space’ before in Sefer Yetzira (Book of Creation) 1:13 which talks about sealing the Name of the Divine in 6 directions.

But the question that bugged me about trying to do that meditation – aside from trying to remember the order of letters – was what do I fill my thoughts with regards to each direction? The “Living in Divine Space” answers that question with 6 commandments that are linked to each direction and provide meditative focus.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesseract
And the beauty of this meditation is that with enough practice, I can do it all the time. Whilst I am not yet at the point where this is a constant focus and awareness all the time, with enough practice it will be. And I can practice every moment that I am wake.

Trouble is… the effort that it takes to try to keep this focus on meditation all day means that I have less time to think about other things. Hence I am chatting less and generally less vocal. Perhaps this is what the sages meant when they said praised the value of silence (see Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers).

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Level Up: Click

Last year I did not feel that I had made sufficient progress to warrant a "level up" post. This year looked like it was heading in the same direction but the past few weeks... well a lot of different sources of information have been clicking in to a more coherent whole (picture).

"The Arte of Glamour" by Ms. Deborah Castellano. Click.
Which in a round-about way inspired this this blog post. Click.
Gordon's Archonology series. CLICK.
Which directly inspired this blog post. Click.
"What Torah Says About Extraterrestrial Life" by Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok. CLICK.
Grasping what humanity is supposed to be evolving to. Click.
Understanding that Neo become a body of light in Matrix Revolutions. Click.
Chaordic Mind blog post on "We can only see down until we look up: consistency vs accuracy". Click.
"Angels & Humanity, A Study of Relationship" by Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok. Click.
Getting a sense of what Ishim angels are. Click.
A hint at the nature of guardian angels. Click.
Spirit Forces in Hebrew Amulets - Part 1 and Part 2 by Jacobus Swart. Click.
A lesson by the author of Blogos on the point at infinity. CLICK.

All the sources keep coming back to the body of light and its interface to the body and the make-up of non-human entities that inhabit and visit our dimensions. I'm still processing the information, but it's definitely convinced me that I need to shift my balance of practice more from forces to forms, from letters to as forces - to letters (and ermutations of letters) as vehicles to communicating with non-human entities.To paraphrase a quote from Neo, I don't know how it's going to end... but I do know how it's going to get started.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Hazy Shade of Winter

It's almost the end of October and yet the weather in London remains remarkably warm. Anyway, despite not managing to do all my preparatory work for the upcoming match between the Lions and the Bengals the signs are fairly positive. Numbers 11:23 "Hashem said to Moses, "Is the hand of Hashem limited? Now you will see whether my word comes to pass or not". So yeah, a bit of faith goes a long way... all the way to the end zone.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Watcher from Multiple Angles

A useful technique that I have used on many occasions in the past with regards to geopolitics is to read about the same story from lots of different news sources. It is really helpful to see what bias each news source has and what information they are and are not reporting on. Sometimes the absence of a particular news story is more telling than the story reported with the usual disinformation and distortions of context in terms of history, politics, etc.

I have in the past tried to apply the same technique when it comes to researching similar topics in Kabbalah, Western Mystery Traditions and other paths. Whilst the intrusion of an author's ego, bias and prejudices may be relatively easy to detect, the accuracy of the information is in my experience a lot harder to verify. And some topics are so ancient that it gets really hard to use linguistic archeology or other techniques to strip away the layers.

One of the more obscure topics that I have so far had little success investigating involves the Watcher angels. Two conflicting sources of information that I have come across recently are Gordon's Rune Soup blog and Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadoks koshertorah.com site. For example, compare the archonology series by Gordon with this much, much shorter essay on Watchers by Rabbi Bar Tzadok.

To understand the former takes in my view a detailed understanding of Gnosticism, about which I don't know much. To grasp the latter takes a detailed understanding of Angelic lore in Kabbalah, about which I don't know much either.

Every Angel has a given role, some heal, others destroy
So having established my ignorance on both fronts and not feeling very amused by either (to misquote a Croft villain), the thing that matters to me how to act on the knowledge? After all, we've got a physical body that operates in a physical world. Hence I believe we're supposed to act on the physical plane.

I am left with a whole host of questions and few answers. Too many sources which are cloudy mirrors and messages from non-human sources which have become garbled by ego and agendas. As well as fistful of questions... I have the vague sense of unease that despite all the incorrect predictions of the past, things may indeed moving at an accelerated pace now.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Divining the Brown Bombers

So I did a brief bibliomancy divination about the upcoming game between the Lions and the Browns. The meaning was pretty straightforward from verse Deut. 24:27: "Cursed be he who strikes his fellow in secret. And all the people shall say, 'Amen!'". The Browns might try so underhand tackles or tactics... So Lions beware.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Don't know much about Gnosticism...

I don't know much about Gnosticism, either it's ancient or modern incarnation, but I keep coming across it in multiple sources. So in an effort to start doing some more reading of academic articles, I came across the following article last night by Prof. Joseph Dan:

Jewish Gnosticism? by Joseph Dan
Jewish Studies Quarterly Vol. 2, No. 4 (1995), pp. 309-328
Published by: Mohr Siebeck GmbH & Co. KG

Having read a book on Jewish Gnosticism by the late Prof. Gershom Scholem in the past I thought that there were a number of links, exchange of ideas and influences from one set of texts to another between Jewish Kabbalists and Gnostics... but turns out that more recent research has proven that not to be the case.

Here is a snapshot of the summary:



Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Foundation Stones

The book of Genesis spends a lot of time covering the lives of the patriarchs and matriarchs. A lot of words. Numerous commentators including some prominent Kabbalists (such as Nachmanides for example) pay very careful attention to any seemingly out of place words and letters. Hence there are entire libraries worths of books written over the past couple of millenia on just the book of Genesis.

With that in mind, a simple question is: why were the matriarchs and patriarchs put through so many trials?

What it boils down to is that the partriarchs and matriarchs had to go through a number of trials in order to purify their character which would be the spiritual basis upon which the entire Israelite nation was built. Any flaws in those initial blocks would ripple upwards and outwards through all the generations since then.

So the take away message is... always look at the foundation stones. Who was/were the founding members of a movement, religion or magical order? How succesful were they in life and more importantly how refined was their character? Because if you follow in their footsteps, you are building on whatever flaws lie bried in the foundation stones.


Monday, 30 September 2013

Rectification of the Roar

The Detroit Lions won their game in week 4 of this NFL season. Taking them to a total of 3 wins and 1 loss. This most recent win is a pretty big deal for the Lions and I have high hopes for them this season. They are going to get to the play-offs and then some!

My Rabbi gave a talk last year and repeated it again recently that the reason why the first set of tablets that Moses came down the mount with were destroyed... was because they came down with a lot of fanfare. The second set were brought down without audio or visual (or any synesthesia) effects.

In a similar way, the success of the Lion has Roared project did not last past the first season in which the project was run. Truth be told the 2nd season (last year) was a bit of a disaster.

The bibliomancy divination that I did before the week 4 game came up with a curious result: Exodus 12:2. The very first commandment that the Israelites get when leaving Egypt is to set and maintain a calendar. They went from being slaves with no control over their time, to a people who could now take control of their time. It also teaches that like the moon on which the calendar was based, they would wax and wane throughout the centuries.

The city of Detroit has been waning of late. Like the moon it will wax and grow once again. It is my belief that the Lions will have a significant role to play in the rebirth of the city.


An interesting lesson learned about supporting the Detroit Lions through meditation and kabbalah is how entangled I have become. For example, an oath that I broke probably contributed a lot to my inability to influence last season filled with losses and the good news is that I have since had the oath annulled. Reading certain texts can give a temporary boost but a heartfelt plea is much more effective.

So in conclusion I am and will continue to support the Detroit Lions. Now that I have a vehicle by which to channel my support, it just needs fuel to keep it going. The roar of the fans is the energy that will drive the team to success.

So let's get roaring for the Lions!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Fear and Love of Other

One of the things that a trainee golem builder should overcome is the fear of "other". Whether it is a person, piece of writing, or even a haunting sound - it is a natural reaction to fear something unfamiliar that is not like you. However, the reason why overcoming the fear of "other" is so important is that if this is not done, then chances are that any golems created will be infused with this seed of fear that will eventually blossom in to a hatred of its creator.

The legend of the golem of prague, Dr. Frankenstein's monster, HAL from 2001 film, Terminator, etc are all examples of creations turning on their creator (note: creator with small 'c'). The question of why has bothered me for some time. For awhile I was satisfied with the answer that since we are flawed, anything we create will be flawed.

But recent meditations on the idea that we carry within us the seeds of our own destruction has moved my thinking on to the hypothesis that I started this blog post with. Namely that in failing to fully overcome the fear of other we implant part of that seed of destruction in the things we create.

The cartoonist Walt Kelly who created the Pogo comic strip is known for his quote:
"We have met the enemy and he is us."
So how can a person tell if something is created with the fear of "other"? I am not sure. One good measure may be to see what influence does the created thing have on the actions of others in the world? Is this influence on actions of others creating a benefit of society?

For a golem builder the action is the main thing, not the thought. Each action has an effect on Creation and hence is a minor act of creation (even if it appears to be destructive).

So I constantly ask myself:
  • Are my actions a flawed manifestation of my will?
  • Are they manifesting the fear of "other" and thereby helping to grow the seeds of destruction? or 
  • Are they in some way helping to rectify creator where the Creator left off to allow humanity to act as a co-creator?

Monday, 23 September 2013

Some holiday videos clips

It's hard to believe that I have not mentioned the film Bee Season on this blog yet. At least a cursory search of the blog does not throw up any immediate hits. Anyway, I heartily recommend this film for the simple reason that it is about a family which has some members who use Rabbi Abraham Abulafia's meditative techniques.

Here is a short clip of commentary on the film:


Whilst on the subject of Kabbalah links on youtube... here is another that has interesting comments made by contemporary scholars of Kabbalah. The thing that struck me was... why were no female scholars of Kabbalah included?


Here is a link to the bonus video about Living in Divine Space. I have a copy of the book, it's very good but very challenging meditation.



Monday, 16 September 2013

Reconfiguration of Imaginary Friends

For well over a year I have had the urge to write some fiction. It used to be a hobby of mine to write bad sci-fi and fantasy fiction, but that has fallen by the wayside due to work and family commitments. However, since Yom Kippur last year there have been a group of charaters in an as-yet unwritten tale who simply would not go away. It was almost as if my muse had got tired of waiting for me to start writing again and invited some others to campaign for more writing projects to actually happen.

Anyway, the group of characters stayed for awhile. Then they stayed for awhile longer and I even got as far as setting the stage for them to explore some scenarios and see how they would evolve along with the stories. But I never got round to writing more than a test chapter or so. None the less, the characters firmly refused to budge.

Anyway, a year later and it's Yom Kippur again. I'm trying to focus on my prayers, meditation, reflection on what I have done well and not done well over the past year. I've tried to make peace with myself, my close circle and the Divine. But those damned characters will not leave me alone and my imagination starts to run wild.

So I did something rather rash. I killed them off in my imagination.

And they came back an hour later. This time there were only 4 rather than the 6 that had campaigned for the past year. These four were more exotic in form than the last group, however I could see under their personas which they manifest that they were the same group of imaginary companions. To throw my muse a bone I read up on some fantasy information before bedtime and in my dreams the four reconfigured companions confronted me.

They put it very bluntly, which knowing how my mind works is the only approach that ever works. They hinted as strongly as they were permitted to that they were there to help me. Specifically making peace with some issues from the past. They told me that it would be very difficult to continue trying to move my set-point unless I wrote about events of the past and they were offering to be the vehicle through which I could work out those issues.

Reading back over this post I'm still left wondering if these characters are purely from my imagination and is my minds way of allowing me to access and process certain memories & feelings? Or if they are from an exernal source that has been able to interact with me in a more direct way (as opposed to symbols, hints and parables) due to the direction that my meditation & practice has taken in the past year.

Right now I'm not sure it matter if either theory is correct. What matters is that I write. From today onwards writing bad fiction will become part of my grounding routine.




Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Right to Mould Clay and Form a Golem Builder Militia


Challenge to form a meditation group

My meditation has stayed on a plateau for awhile now, about a year or so. In an effort to move it up several notches I have been challenged to start a meditation group. Unfortunately meditation is still considered something of an oddity in my circles, hence I was reluctant to go out and find or start a group. Anyway, Seth Godin has just posted about why groups are a good thing. So now I will work to start a group and have 2 candidates already lines up.

Golem Group Hug

Practicing Tzeruf

Another route to advance in my meditation practice is by starting to use Tzerufim. as described in commentaries (Rabbi M. Cordovero) on chapter 2 of Sefer Yetzirah.
Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis defines Tzeruf in his Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism** as:

Tzeruf/Tzerufim
Acrostic or letter re-combination or permutation. As a technique of mystical research, Tzeruf refers to recombining letters in a different order both to uncover names of God and in constructing incantations and other power phrases (SY 2:2, 6:4). It can also refer to incantations involving combinations of names of God with elaborate mathematical permutations of letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. This was the preferred ecstatic practice of Abraham Abulafia. The worthy ancients such as Moses, were purportedly adepts at this practice (Ber. 55a, Zohar III:2a, Sefer Peliyah 1:17b). Tzerufim incantations are used in a variety of theurgic rites, most notably in summoning angels and  demons  and constructing a golem. See ABBREVIATIONS, CODES
It's a bit like learning a new skill and will require a lot of practice before I become proficient in their use.

Translations of Hebrew Kabbalistic Texts

These are not getting very far with this right now. Might need to try doing this in a group too...

** - I quote this book numerous times in the hopes that you will purchase this excellent book. I get no reward for doing so, just the simple pleasure of knowing that more people use terms in the context of Hebrew Kabbalah with some degree of understanding.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Holiday Break

It's the summer in England and now that the warm weather is finally here, I am taking a break from reading musty old tomes on magic. Researching the theory of golem building, how to change lifeless clay in to a living being, is one of many of my hobbies. But my other hobbies are falling behind. So I'll be hanging out with friends, collecting more magical paraphernalia and taking a break until later in September.

Alright... so I may have gotten distracted by computer games again. I know... it's not a productive use of my time... but hush now :-)


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Free is Priceless

In the previous post, I argued that free occult literature online is not worth a great deal if there is no emotional attachment to the material that is generated through a struggle to acquire that information. I'm now going to contract myself entirely by saying that it's really hard to put a pricetag on the free information available online.

Google image search can be a bit random....
The information that I am referring to is all the free University courses that have exploded on to the net in recent years. Below are a few examples of free courses offered by these Universities.

https://www.coursera.org/
http://www.open.edu/openlearn/
https://www.edx.org/
http://oyc.yale.edu/
http://futurelearn.com/

The reason this information is priceless, in my opinion, is that they provide context about the time periods in which magical literature was written & published. Without context it's really easy to jump to conclusions and fail to take in to account the social, political, economic, religious environments in which practitioners in previous ages lived & operated.

Understanding context is priceless in my view. The fact that these Universities provide this context information is what makes them priceless. So if you have not signed up and started listening to courses - why not start now? Here is just one of many excellent courses.

Build up a course list of things that interest you and throw in some that you know will rub you the wrong way. Now you're on your way to a continuing education with a healthy dose of academic information to balance the information in non-academic books on magic & mysticism.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Free is Worth Nothing



This blog is worth nothing. As in the information posted here may on occasion be of value to you, but this blog will never generate revenue because everything is given away for free.

OK, so that’s pointing out the obvious but please indulge me for another minute as I have a fetish for pointing out the obvious. You see I sat down recently and wrote a short list of all the things that truly value in my life. It was a rather short list. The one thing that stood out was that all of them had come through struggle, strife, heart-ache, and sacrifice.

This made me consider all the things that I consider to be free in my life and question: 1. Are they really free? 2. Do they have any value?

Hereford Cathedral Chained Library, Hereford, England
And now the point of this blog post….

There is a huge amount of information available today online in the general category (bucket) called Esoteric and Occult information. Ignoring information that is shared in breach of copyright there is still a huge amount of information available compared to what previous generations had access to.

Is that information of any worth? I would argue that the fact that there is easy access is not of any worth. Which, in a way, makes it even harder to make that information meaningful in my practice.

The information that I have struggled hours, days, weeks, or even months to gain has already gained some value on the simple basis that it was hard to come by. I feel a greater emotional connection to the book I waited 6 months to buy than all of the free content I have found online. That emotional investment means that I will spend the years of work required to translate and integrate the information in my practice.The hard-drive filled with PDFs containing esoteric information will probably never get read.

So in conclusion and to re-state the obvious… the things that I personally value have all come through significant (and sometimes continuous) effort, often with a level of resistance that more often than not came from me rather than an external source. The greater the investment of time & effort – the more it is of value.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Meditation Interruptus



Last week I tried a Tzeruf – letter permutation – exercise using the ADONAI name of the Divine. The exercise is quite simple - it just iterates through every combination of the letters Aleph & Dalet and then Nun and Yud. 

Each letter has 5 vowels and each letter pair thus has 25 permutations. Then factor in doing the letters in the reverse order, i.e. Dalet & Aleph and Yud & Nun. This makes a total of 100 letter & vowel permutations.

This might sound like a lot to remember but I practised it by going speedily through the combinations without doing deep “vase”-like breathing to make sure that the combination order was correct. After awhile, doing it at speed even the letter & vowel combinations sounded musical.

So I was reasonably confident that I would get the pronunciation right and hence set aside plenty of time to work through the meditation. Unfortunately as any project manager will tell you, no plan ever executes quite as expected.

It was during the 3rd part of the meditation, going through Nun & Yud that I felt someone pull my shoulder from behind. It was not a gentle tug. If I weighed any less it probably would have spun me around out of the chair and on to the floor. The only other thing I was aware of was that the arm of the thing pulling me was rather thin, the kind of thinness you see with super-models and people who have died from starvation.

I carried on the meditation, somewhat shaken and not sure what to expect next. It was at the start of the fourth and final section of the meditation that the figure behind me - who I would only really describe as a young woman with a loose lip who was either recently dead or within arm’s reach of death door – leaned around my shoulder and kissed me.

It was not an unpleasant kiss as kisses go. Somewhere in between a kiss “hello” and “I need to pass on something to you and the only way to get your attention is to kiss you.”

At that point I stopped the meditation.  I briefly considered looking in to my project management risk log for golem building to check if there were any entries about being kissed by zombie girls. But I knew without bothering to open the risk log that such an occurrence had not been foreseen or contingency planned for.

Instead I sat in silence for awhile and went to bed with visions of the dead pressing in on my minds eye. For the remainder of last week I was rather ill. Not a life-threatening illness, but an unpleasant “I don’t feel quite right or even aligned with my body” kind of illness.

I have no idea what to make of the experience. Maybe next time it will make more sense. Maybe next time doing this particular meditation - I’ll meditate with a circle of salt around me.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Get Moving and Be Still

Get Moving

The summer is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere and things look like they are slowing down. But they don’t need to slow down, in fact now more than ever is a time to leap ahead with wild abandon and take your practice up to a whole other level.

Jow for example is already on this wavelength. The more people who get in to this – the faster we’ll all advance. That advice in particular is for Mr. Black. I know that you’re going through a slow phase at the moment – but I’m confident that you’ll pull out of it soon and come out all guns blazing.

The blogosphere is not an egregore in my opinion, it’s too fragmented. But we do bounce off each other enough to move forwards, backwards or sideways in to unexpected new avenues on our individual paths.

Stillness

Anyway, I got a bit side-tracked at the start of this blog post… on to the main subject matter.

Stillness.

There is a scene in the 1984 film Dune in which there is water dripping ever so slowly in to an underground reservoir. Watching that scene gave me an immense feeling of stillness that I have not managed to recapture since… until I went to a talk by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki at Treadwells bookshop. Sitting in the room with her gave me that same sense of stillness.


Fast forward a couple of weeks and I’ve put out a psychic call to Rabbi Abraham Abulafia to get in touch, or to at least get someone alive today to get in touch in order to help me along my path. I follow this up with a few emails and sure enough I get a response.

The advice that I get from this living teacher is to spend more time in stillness post-meditation.

It seems silly looking back how I did not realise the importance of that before… The Rabbi’s teach that when the patriarch Abraham and matriarch Sarah heard the instruction to leave their place of residence in Haran and move to the land of Canaan – that advice was not for them in particular.

It was the small still voice as heard in Elijah’s prophetic experience that all of humanity is able to tune in to if they cultivate a sufficient level of emptiness and stillness. To leave one's place of comfort, old ways behind and strive to connect Divine without as a society settling on the worship of intermediaries as was common at that time.


Anyway... Unfortunately I have not been able to focus on meditation due to a recent illness, but that is a blog post for another time.

Be well… Be still.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Today's Lecture Link: Zohar and Kabbalah - Daniel Matt


Zohar and Kabbalah - Daniel Matt



Published on Dec 3, 2012
The Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life present Daniel Matt speaking about The Zohar and Kabbalah.

For more information visit bildnercenter.rutgers.edu

Well worth watching if you can spare the time. Daniel Matt has written a number of books on Kabbalah and the few that I've read - I would heartily recommend!

EDIT: I need to move on from eating wheat kernels....

Friday, 28 June 2013

I Could Have Been a Druid

In a recent blog I wrote about why I am hiding my library. There is a balance to be continuously sought to work out how much and how soon I expose my children to the idea and practice of magic.

Introducing the idea of magic is something that TV has taken care off to some extent. For example, you only need to a quick search for “CBeebies and Magic” to see how many shows feature magic. For example, Tree Fu Tom encourages children to join in a somatic (movement) based ritual in the form of dance to build of 'energy' for powering a spell.

Had I known about Tree Fu Tom a decade ago or even earlier, I probably would have chosen to become a druid. Instead I ended up going down the default path of following my ancestral calling and become a first generation (trainee) golem builder.

There was a time when I was seeking a universal theory of magic. In particular when I first started attending talks at Treadwells bookshop and knew next to nothing about a path of magic. Since then I have matured a bit and abandoned the idea of finding a unified theory.

Link explaining why Tom needs you to dance

Anyway, looking back at ‘what might have been’… which my rabbi considers as little-known as the future… I wonder what it might have been like to be a druid? What other path might you have taken if you knew then what you know now?

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Power and 70 Nations

My previous blog post was a bit stark and perhaps had an element of "we're all doomed". I'm an optimist by nature (how else would I survive as a project manager?) and so here are two quotes that related to people's relationships with governments.

In Bamidbar, Parshat Beha'alotcha (Book of Numbers) 11:16 Moses asks G-d if he can share the load and is instructed to appoint 70 men to act as lesser prophets (compared to Moses) to help look after the Israelites:
"Hashem said to Moses, gather to me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and its officers; take them to the Tent of Meeting and have them stand there with you."
Ramban (Nahmanides 1194-1270) wrote the following commentary:

Gather to me the seventy men from the elders of Israel
Ramban discusses the significance of the number seventy here and in other contexts

Our Sages of blessed memory, have mentioned that there are seventy nations in the world, with seventy languages. And each one of these nations has a constellation in the heavens and a heavenly minister above which determines its affairs, like the idea that is stated in Daniel (10:13), And the minister of the Persian kingdom, referring to an angel, and it is written there, besides the kings of Persia and Behold, the minister of Greece (ibid. v20). And this is the meaning of what is stated: It shall be on that day Hashem will deal with the hosts of heaven in heaven and the kings of the earth on the earth (Isaiah 24:21). And the Sages said further that the seventy bulls offered on the holiday of Succot allude to [the seventy nations] (Succah 55b). And in Pirkei Rabbi Eliezer  we find as well: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to the seventy angels who surround His Throne of Glory, "Come let us confuse their language"  (Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer Ch. 24).... 
There is more to this quote, but it's not directly relevant to this blog post.

What nation might have this minister?
Every nation has a minister watching over it. Which means that each nation is subject to Divine providence. One of the things that I like to look for in reading up on geopolitics is how well or badly the heavenly minister interfaces with those in power in each nation. The coupling has it's ups and downs as every relationship has.

Anyway, whilst I believe that we are subject to general providence via this heavenly minister and associated constellation - we are also subject to individual providence. So why bother having a government at all?

Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 3:2 answers that with the following quote:
2. Rabbi Chanina, deputy to the kohanim, would say: Pray for the integrity of the government; for were it not for the fear of its authority, a man would swallow his neighbor alive....
That's it... this blog post does not really have a "message", just some quotes to get you thinking about how some form of governance is necessary and built in to the framework of reality. Plus how you relate to that and may even try to influence it as a magician. Good luck with that!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Adapt or Perish

An Eye That Watches
Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) Chapter 2, Mishna 1(a)
"Rabbi [Yehuda haNasi] said: What is the proper path a person should choose for himself? Whatever brings glory to himself [before G-d], and grants him glory before others. Be careful with a minor mitzvah (commandment) as with a major one, for you do not know the reward for the mitzvos. Consider the loss incurred for performing a mitzvah compared to its reward, and the 'reward' received for sinning compared to the loss. Consider three things and you will not come to sin: Know what is above you: an eye that sees and an ear that hears, and all your deeds are recorded in the Book."
Please don't subscribe in to the infantile thinking that god is an old man on a cloud who gets angry quickly. If you do, then you can stop reading this blog now.

"An eye that sees..." Everything that you do, say or think leaves an impression on the Universe around you. Everything. Is it any surprise that sages in centuries past understood this principle and used it as a way of guiding people away from thoughts and actions that would lead to negative spirals of behaviour?

Bottom line, the Universe is constantly being affected by what you think, say or do. There is no static state and to think of this as "being observed" can act as a useful metaphor for thinking about how you act in your  relationship with the Universe.

Demons Everywhere

(Talmud Brachos 6a)
It has been taught: Abba Benjamin says, “If the eye had the power to see them, no creature could endure the mazzikim (devils/destroyers).” Abaye says, “They are more numerous than we are and they surround us like a ridge around a field.” R. Huna says, “Every one among us has a thousand on his left hand and ten thousand on his right hand.” Raba says, “The crushing in the Kallah lectures comes from them. Fatigue in the knees comes from them. The wearing out of the clothes of the scholars is due to their rubbing against them. The bruising of the feet comes from them. If one wants to discover them, let him take sifted ashes and sprinkle around his bed, and in the morning he will see something like the footprints of a cock. If one wishes to see them, let him take the afterbirth of a black she-cat, the offspring of a black she-cat, the first-born of a firstborn, let him roast it in fire and grind it to powder, and then let him fill his eye, and he will see them. Let him also pour it into an iron tube and seal it with an iron signet that they should not steal it from him. Let him also close his mouth, lest he come to harm.” R. Bibi b. Abaye did so, he saw them, and came to harm. The scholars, however, prayed for him and he recovered.”

Non-human entities intersect with our reality at any place & time we give them access whether consciously or unsconsciouly. This has been going on for a very, very long time. By intersect, I also mean influence, manipulate and control. I hope that's no great surprise to you and please bear in mind that this is just my interpretation.

The Universe is watching, demons are watching and now the government is watching you too.

Adapt or Perish

It reminds me of a joke about a priest, imam and rabbi who find out that global warming is going to cause sea levels to rise and unless we take radical action, we will all be living underwater in 30 days time.

The priest turns to his flock and says: "we must all march on Jerusalem and be saved". The imam turns to his congregation and says: "let us pray, cleanse our souls and Allah will save us." The rabbi turns to the community and say: "right... we have 30 days to learn how to live underwater."

The fight has been going on for a very, very long time. Regardless of how well you may be at interacting and/or tracking the imprints that non-humans leave on our world, I don't believe that we're anywhere nearer to winning the war. In fact in this period of geopolitical flux I think we're losing. It may soon be time to learn to live underwater.

Here endeth the rant.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

On Why I am Hiding my Library


At the weekend I took my Kindle on a family outing. It was the first time that my wife saw my Kindle and although she was vaguely aware of its existence, was rather curious about its contents. 
There are several collections on my Kindle:
  • Project Management books
  • Books on Computing
  • Metaphysics in English – e.g. Kabbalah, Western Esoteric literature, etc.
  • Hebrew books on Kabbalah, mainly by Abraham Abulafia that I try in vain to translate
It took a couple of years before I was convinced of the value of a Kindle. And now I find myself relying on it more and more. Not because technology reasons but rather social reasons.

You see in my community the study of Kabbalah is something that is frowned upon. You need to of a certain level of learning and observance, if not also of age and family status (married and with kids). There have been many, many great Kabbalists who did not meet the age and family criteria but learning and observance criteria are a must.

Anyway, I’m on a journey to increase in all these areas and have a couple of books on Kabbalah on the shelves that anyone visiting the house can see. However, the other books are hidden away in boxes, in wardrobes and bed-site tables.

source

The problem that I now have is that within a few short years my kids will be proficient enough in reading that they may try to read some of these books. Whilst I do not in principle have an issue with exposing them to the ideas in these books, it’s a question of when and how. Now is too early as they do not yet have a frame of reference to evaluate the information against and grasp the context in which it was written.

So I am forced for now to hide my library further. Some will transfer to a password locked Kindle and the rest will go in to a locked chest. I feel a bit sad about having to hide the books away. But for me finding these books was a journey of (self-) discovery and instead of allowing easy access… My aim is to leave a trail of breadcrumbs so to speak that will enable my children to pursue these studies should they chose to do so at an age when it will be meaningful to them.

In the mean time I will continue to go on trips with them around the psychogeography of London, exploring its wild and varied wild-life and cultivating their imaginations to be a rich tool for future life.

Do you have any advice on how to remove access from my library without having to bury it at the back of the garden?

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Stumbling over Stepping Stones




Recently I tried to move on to meditations related to the start of chapter 2 from Sefer Yetzirah, the Book of Creation. The meditations in chapter 1 are mainly focused on getting an experiential knowledge of the ten Sefirot Beli-Mah, by oscillating from rational to psychic intuitive mind and directed meditation on the infinite nature of the Sefirot. Chapter 1 also has basic letter meditations as mentioned in previous posts.

The next exercise in Chapter 2 is to start combining letters. Aleph with Bet, Aleph with Gimmel and then all the other letters. Bet with Gimmel, Bet with Dalet and then all the following letters. Gimmel with Dalet, Gimmel with Heh and then all the following letters.

The first time that I tried this was an abysmal failure. I did not get past the first line of Aleph combinations. Then when I tried the next night it was even worse. It felt a bit like… well like either running through an unfamiliar garden and missing all the stepping stones. Instead I landed in the brambles every time. It also felt a bit like trying to do a new dance involving more complex moving between dance partners and getting it all very, very wrong.

The worst bit was that I felt as if some of the letters did not like me. It may sound a bit childish and kindergarten thinking, but I definitely felt some resistance. Since I like to twist myself in to impossible pretzels whenever there is even a slight failure in my attempts at magic - I chose a different approach. This involved going through the letter combinations as fast as I possibly could to get used to “running around the garden stepping stones”.

Photo source; Stepping Stone Hospice

At first it was really hard and almost felt like learning to walk again. Some letters stubbornly refused to play along and I literally stumbled over pronouncing them time and again. But within a few days of walking and meditating it was starting to come together and even becoming fun. It reminded me of dancing at a wedding and twirling from one dance partner (letter) to the next.

Although I’ve still not progressed very far with the letter combination meditations from Chapter 2 of Sefer Yetzirah – I have continued with the simple letter meditation from Chapter 1. The curious thing is that now my voice has a ringing quality that it did not have before. Almost like I’m inside a giant bell-jar with all of my surroundings vibrating.

What does that mean? I have no idea… however I’m looking forward to finding out where this journey takes me. What have been your experiences of meditating on the 231 gates or Hebrew letter combination exercises in general?


Sunday, 19 May 2013

6 small changes

Every week there is a batch of leaflets produced by Daf Hashavua leaflets delivered to my places of worship. It contains 4 short essays that are linked to the Torah portion of the week. Last weekend the editor Rabbi C. Gross included an article titled: "Change does not Come Easy"

In this article Rabbi Gross quotes the verse:

"A man or woman shall separate himself/herself (yaflee) by taking Nazarite vow of abstinence..." (Bamidbar 6:2)

A Nazirite is someone who has taken a vow to abstain drinking wine, cutting one's hair or coming in to contact with a corpse. This time period is 30 days.

"Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra (d.1167) suggests that the word yaflee actually means 'does a wondrous act'. Based on this, according to the understanding of Rabbi Yerucham Liebovitz (d. 1936) the Torah is giving us some useful advice about how to approach changing our life habits..."

The act of wonder is changing one's habits in a small way. It's considered ground-breaking and praiseworthy.


Anyway... it's about time I made some New Year resolutions as it's almost June. So I figure there are about 6 changes to make habits between now and 2014.

Three habit changes that are active/doing, e.g. add 231 gates meditation to daily practice, do 30 minutes of calligraphy practice twice a week and attempt to visit the Inner Library once a week. Three habit changes that are passive/stop from doing, e.g. stop going to bed after 2 am, no longer spend excessive time surfing the web, only buy a new book on Kabbalah in Hebrew once I have finished the previous one.