Monday, 22 December 2014

Brief Look Back

Don't Look Back in Anger
Rather than talk about all the things that have changed in my life this past year, here are some of the selections that looking back I think are significant to me:

  • Hebrew Immersion: (continued) Went through Chumash (5 Books of Moses) with Rashi commentary again for 3rd time and completed 2 set of Mishnayot (Oral Law) Nashim. Now proficient enough to be able to read Rabbi Moshe Cordovero's commentary for first 5 chapters of Sefer Yetzira. Started on Introduction to Rabbi Eliezer of Germiza's Sodei Raziya
  • Fiction: Made a come-back in my life, in particular Merkabah Rider by Edward M Erdelac stood out as a good read. 
  • Disappearing Middle Ground: World and local politics apepars to heading away from a common ground in which common understanding can be found. I expect that this will unfortunately be a continuing trend in to 2015 as the mentality of us versus them continues to gain traction. 
  • Play-offs: tucked away in this update is a non-project that has had some measure of success "An awesome lion, who dares rouse him?". The Detroit Lions have made it to the play-offs. 
  • Looking for Common Ground: I've started looking in to where the over-laps occur between Rabbinic Kabbalah and Western Mystery Traditions. I expect this to be a project spanning multiple years and delving centuries in to the past. 
  • Acharon, Acharon, Chaviv ("Save the best for last"): I have finally started letter combinations as outlined in Chapter 2 of Sefer Yetzira... at last!

Be a Narrow Bridge
One other thing I'd like to mention as it happened pretty recently. Whilst at a friend's wedding, during one of the speeches I knew there was the potential for a massive emotional melt-down as the person speaking was going to mention the parent whom they had lost many years ago.

I know what this is like, but unlike my case - this parent seemed to still have an ongoing and unfortunately unhealthy attachment to at least one of their children. So on a whim I acted as a bridge to allow them to be present and bask in the joy of the occasion without souring the event.

It went well and the very touching moment in the speech passed without incident, leading to lots more celebrations and joyous dancing. Unfortunately I wasn't as careful as I should have been and a lady collapsed with suspected stroke. After she was taken out, I rushed to recite Psalms and later found out that she had just fainted due to low blood pressure.

So you could look at it as all in my imagination and perhaps it was. But on the off chance that it wasn't, I'll know for next time to form a narrower bridge when deceased relatives want to be present and prevent any hitch-hikers from catching a ride to pull someone to the other side before their time.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Bass, Oil, and Candle Light

All About That Beis
If you're a follower of popular music (which I'm not) you might be familiar with Meghan Trainor's "All about that bass" (no treble). You may also be familair with, what I consider to be a better version, Kate Davis' and Post-Modern Jukebox cover, "All About That Bass".

[Side note: Kate Davis has an interesting video on TEDex about her journey as a musician. OK, she's still just starting out but if you're trying to find your right magical path - she has a few pearls of wisdom to offer].

Celebrating Because of What?
Anyway, in case you're wondering what this all has to do with magic and mysticism... please bear with me a moment longer. You see, the The Maccabeats released - "All About That Neis" for the festival of Hanukkah. (If you want to get the story in summary, here is the round up by Veronica Monica).

Whilst Hanukkah is one of my favourite festivals.. The  Maccabeats  have me rather confused whether the celebration is about 1. the miraculous military victory or 2. one day's worth of oil burning for eight days. In truth I think of the battles as a conflict between the Hellenized Jews and their Greek army supporters versus the Jews who wanted to take back the Temple and overthrow Greek cultural imperialism.

This next bit is based on a recent lecture by a Rabbi B***...

Thirteen Breaches in a Small Wall
So what do the Rabbis have to say on the Hanukkah conflict? After all the Greek and Jewish cultures go back a fair way together and there were bound to be some influences upon each other. Well, apparently the Rabbi's don't have much to say about it. This extract from Misha Yomit is pretty much the only bit:
CHAPTER 2 MISHNAH 3
Within it was a latticework, ten tefa~im high, and thirteen breaches were there that the kings of Greece breached, and they repaired them again, and decreed thirteen prostrations opposite them. Within it was the Heil ten amot, and twelve steps were there, the height of each step was half an amah, and its depth half an amah. All the steps that were there, the height of each step was half an amah, and its depth half an amah, except those to the ulam. All the doorways and the gates that were there, their height was twenty amot and their width was ten amot, except that of the ulam. All the doorways that were there had doors, except that of the ulam. All the gates that were there had lintels, except the Gate of Tadi, where there were two stones leaning against one another. All the gates that were there were changed to be golden, except the Gate of Nikanor, because a miracle was performed in their case. But some say: Because their copper had a yellow hue.
A fence in the Temple had thirteen holes poked in to it... that's all they have to say on the Israel versus Greek conflict. So what was so important about this wall? It acted to delineate the public from the private domain in the Temple. Which meant that it was possible to carry in the private domain in the Temple during festivals. Wow, what a fuss over something so trivial...

However, it also represented the idea that there is creation and something beyond creation. The Divine is not simply within creation and that is all that exists. The Divine is just as far removed from the spiritual worlds as from the physical world.

And that is an idea that the Greeks did not like. There was in their minds no Divine existence beyond reality they knew, hence the thirteen breaches (gemmatria of thirteen is echad, Hebrew for one). To them there was just reality and nothing else.

So why does this matter?
Simple because it influences everything we do in relation to magic and mysticism. If there is Divine outside of reality and it can still have a relationship with us via the means of prophecy - then it means that there is a purpose to everything and we each have a role to play.

If not, then it's all just chaos and we can do whatever we desire.

It is, in my current way of thinking, the difference between using one's abilities in magic to act in service... or for personal gain.

I wish you a happy Hanukkah.

*** if you want his name, please contact me. I am not including it here as it could violate my law of unintended stakeholders.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Project Re-Start: Connecting the Letters

In a recent post I wrote about a meditation to connect to each of the Hebrew letters. Whilst the project has started... I am finding that doing a letter each day is much more effective than doing one letter each week. The other change that I may make is to start with the Mother letters, then Double letters, and finally Simple (Elemental) letters.

Here is the updated project description:
Connecting the Letters
Scope: Combine each letter with 21 others. Attempt to combine each letter with four-letter Name. One letter each day for 22 weeks.
Time: 22 weeks (approximately)
Cost: Most evenings per week.
Quality: Output of experiences will be recorded to evaluate how "energies" from each of the 22 letters "feels",
Communication: Progress update at end of project.
Risks:
1. Daily meditation of this nature is very time intensive at the slow pace that letters are meant to be sounded. (Warm up can take up to 20 minutes alone)
2. Project fatigue may kick-in
Issues: 1. Difficult to measure how effective the project might be.
First thing to note about the meditation so far is just how different each letters feels, tastes, and sounds. It's subtle, but I get a definite sense of identity from each letter.

Not in a "Hi, I'm Aleph and I like dogs, going for long walks in the country, and long comfortable silences". But rather that feeling you get when you have been around someone for awhile (in your life) and when they are close - they have a certain mental shape in your awareness even if you cannot see, hear, or touch them. A bit like knowing that a loved one is in a room nearby.

Please note that I do not think or relate to the Hebrew letters as if they are people, spirits or in any way anthropomorphic. The description in the above paragraph is just a way to convey the idea in a familiar way. I think of the letters as living in the same way that everything in the Multiverse is alive. The electricity coming in to this computer as I write this blog has Shefa (Divine flow), the letters are simply more refined and abstract channels of Divine consciousness constantly manifesting the physical and spiritual worlds.

On a separate note... it's good to be focusing on just magic again on this blog. I felt a bit like my focus was diverging into too many different channels. Now I am back on the path... well, technically 32 paths.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

We need to talk about WMT

One of the many reasons why I started this blog some time ago was to explore the differences and similarities of the Western Mystery Tradition (WMT) with Rabbinic Kabbalah. Although I have attended a number of talks that touched on this subject at Treadwells bookshop in London, there has been very little on this topic on this blog unfortunately. However, now that I have become a bit more familiar with WMT and Rabbinic Kabbalah that should change in future.

Fortunately there are two good sources that I have been reading recently that have provided a great deal of information on this topic already. The first is a blog called Hermetic Lessons, in particular I am referring to these blog entries:
The other brilliant resource is a recently published book: Qabalah Gates of Light: The Occult Qabalah Reconstructed by Gary Jaron (paper and kindle editions).

There are two issues that I have with the book: 1. the first is a minor one is mixing up the letters Kuf and Kaf at the beginning of the book about the spelling of the word Kabbalah in Hebrew. 2. is to do with the attribution of planets to letters and Sephirot - unlike the author of this excellent book I do believe that there is a significance to why certain Rabbinic practitioners of Kabbalah differ in their planetary attributions.

However, these two relatively small issues aside - the book does a really good job of highlighting when dogma and a need for conformity crept in to the transmission of WMT. How this shaped later writers and how they could have avoided mis-attributions due to misunderstanding. In fairness some of these misunderstandings are due to the changes put in to works translated by the Christian Kabbalists - but even so there were plenty of good English Hebrew dictionaries when the earlier WMT writers were around.

Today when translation from Hebrew to English is so easy an undertaking - there is very little to prevent anyone from taking some of the earlier works and comparing, contrasting, and (Heaven forbid) correcting some of these inspiring books. Except perhaps dogma, a desire for departure from the early Kabbalah in order to assert one's own identity as a Tradition, or perhaps as Blogos points out... WMT is just falling out of fashion.