Friday, May 25, 2012

Jewish Mysticism & Qabalah

Shavout is here, so we figured we'd give you the low-down on Jewish mysticism. According to Google's dictionary, a mysticism, in general, is defined as 'belief that union with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or the spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect, may be attained through contemplation and self-surrender.' Many world religions have mysticisms associated with them which draw on and interpret their common doctrine for this purpose. Judaism is one of them.

Judaism's associated mysticism is known as Kabbalah. Kabbalah is very well-accepted for a mysticism; many Rabbis and other Jewish adherenets openly practice Kabbalah as a supplement to their normal practices. The goal of Kabbalah is generally thought to be ultimate understanding of the oneness and timelessness of the universe, but mileage may vary depending on the person practicing it.

There exists a Christianized form of Kabbalah, which is generally referred to as Cabalah. Cabalah is much less accepted in tandem with other denominations of Christianity, but it has a good number of practitioners all the same.

Qabalah is the practical application of Kabbalah for purposes of ceremonial magick. Qabalists need not be Kabbalists, or even Jewish adherents; in fact, most of Western magick is based on Qabalah in at least some respects. Qabalah rituals often involve summoning or calling upon the name of various angels and archangels, each of which rules some aspect of reality. Qabalah can be used for the purposes of ceremonial magick, but it may also be used to attain a greater general understanding of the universe around us and our place within it.

These spellings are a rough rule of usage; many practitioners switch between them with relative freedom, without worrying much over specific letters. This is due to the difficulty of transliterating the original Hebrew word into Latin letters. Technically speaking, one could translate the original Hebrew letters into English as 'kabbalah', 'qabalah', or 'cabalah' with equal accuracy, since Hebrew letters do not distinguish between the 'ka', 'ca', and 'qa' sounds. Because of this, it is safe to assume that older books on the subject, such as the Sefer Yetzirah, are still Jewish in origin, even if they are marked 'Cabalah.'

The books below are all associated with Qabalah, though many also bleed into Kabbalah-- in particular, note the Zohar and the Sefer Yetzirah, both of which are famous for forming the basis of Jewish Kabbalah.

  • The Chicken Qabalah Of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford ($26.95) by Lon Milo DuQuette
  • Sefer Yetzirah - The Book Of Creation - In Theory And Practice ($39.95) by Aryeh Kaplan
  • The Bahir Illumination ($31.95) by Aryeh Kaplan
  • Essential Zohar - The Source of Kabbalistic Wisdom ($21.00) by Rav P. S. Berg
  • Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia - A Complete Guide to Cabalistic Magick ($53.95) by David Godwin
  • The Kabbalah Unveiled ($31.95) by S.I. MacGregor Mathers
  • Mystical Qabalah (2nd ed.) ($25.95) by Dion Fortune
  • Universal Meaning Of The Kabbalah ($27.95) by Leo Schaya
  • The Witches Qabala: The Pagan Path and the Tree Of Life ($23.95) by Ellen Cannon Reed

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