THE ROOTS OF THE QABALAH
In Chassidic lore we find reference to the Qabalah as having been brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses. The exceptional play, the Dybbuk, as translated by S. Morris Von Engel, is an interesting dramatization of the esoteric knowledge, based on the Qabalah as understood by the Chassidim. The Chassidim are little known today even in Judaism, but they originated as a Russian cult of Judaism and today they are scattered throughout the world. Considerable mystery surrounds them, including tales of their strange and unknown powers. Mystery in itself can invest people with powers they may not have, but it is conceded that the few Chassidic Rabbis in this country do indeed have strange powers, such as healing and psychic gifts and other esoteric talents. It is also true that such powers can make men mysterious, and therefore the reputation of the Chassidim is probably well-deserved. Herbert Weinerís 9-1/2 Mystics gives a good account of the modern Chassidim and other devoted Judaic scholars.
It is historically confirmed, in von Mosheimís well accredited history of the early centuries of Christianity that the Jews derived their canon from the Egyptians. If we trace Jewish history back far enough we find that, like the Arabs, the Hebrews are descendants of the early Egyptians. Probably only a little research would be necessary to fill in the gaps to show a continuous evolution of Egyptian thought into Judaism. Perhaps this has been done. Thomas Mann, in his fine study Joseph and His Brothers pictures the Judaism of Jacob and Isaac as only slightly removed from the astrological pantheism of their fathers. This is historical fiction, of course, but it helps us to reconstruct an age in which the religion was in transition. We could be a little naughty and consider that Moses was probably the Martin Luther of his day, being considered by the Egyptian Establishment as some upstart rebel whose ideas were not so removed from the age which bore him. He did, after all, have to explain these wild ideas to a public which had been raised under Egyptian Theocracy for generations. This all assumes that Moses is an historical person, which he may not be. But then, if Moses didnít lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, then someone else did so it comes out the same. But the Qabalah, as the key to the Old Testament, would consider even the Exodus story as an allegory with deeper meanings.
We also have every reason to believe that the early Christians copied after the Egyptians; at any rate, the Rosetta Stone (discovered in 1799) showed some startling similarities. Today we tend to think of all these religions as separate and distinct, when they are not all that different. So Judaism may be Egyptian Magic with a new idea thrown in, and Christianity and Islam may both be Judaism, each with a different Messiah. To see them as essentially the same does not diminish the value of any one but rather increases it. So it is that the religions we think of as separate are well related, with a fine and noble family tree. We could more accurately speak of Judaeo-Christianity as Egypto-Judaeo-Christianity, and even better as Atlantean-Egypto-Judaeo-Christianity. Beyond that is only mists of Time, even Atlantis herself being buried in the shadows of the antediluvian world. We are told in esoteric tradition however, that the Qabalah formed the teachings of the more profound Atlantean Mystery Schools, and that it was perpetuated by Moses and the Schools of Samuel the Prophet, at which time it consisted of oral tradition. The keys were only communicated orally, and this holds true today.
This is, as history describes it, the Wisdom that already existed from antiquity, and is therefore thought to be the root of the religion which Saint Augustine declared came to be called Christianity in his day. We may say with Saint Augustine that it was "called" that, but after it became literalized by the early Christians I do not know how true a religion we may say it turned out to be, in its present form. Religions as we know them are facets of and issue from one primeval wisdom, even though many are badly distorted representations. Religions in any form are but pictures of spiritual life, and therefore only representations. Like the pictures we have of George Washington, some are good and some are not so good. It so happens that the one that is most common, the one on the dollar bill, was a portrait made of him when he had his false teeth out, and doesnít match at all with the other dozen or so pictures of him. So what everyone thinks George looked like is not at all accurate, and at any rate, it is only a picture. It is not George Washington himself. If my teacher the semanticist were here he would probably say that our common religion today is an inadequate representation of spiritual principles, and that before we can get on with the business of "The Way" we had better get a better "picture," a better "roadmap" to guide us. The Qabalah as we know it today is therefore a derivative from and a development out of the patriarchal system as the Old Testament prophets maintained it, whether we want to take the Old Testament prophets as mythological figures or as living men of those times.
we may prefer to take about this, we do see that the Qabalah is a growing system
of realization Because it is a growing system everything that we know today can
be added to the pyramid of thought that the Qabalah serves to the mind. If we
take the Qabalah from the point of view of religious faith it is a legacy passed
on to mankind by the Prophets. The Qabalah, being derived from the common source
as a composite of the primeval revelation, has been handed on through the ages
by oral tradition, finally being framed in the written word.
Whether or not such secrecy is justified is always open to question. Aleister Crowley mentions that The Order of the Golden Dawn placed him under strict and terrible oaths of secrecy, and one secret he was not to divulge was the Hebrew alphabet. But then, we all know of schools who make a great secret of the fact that the first day of the week is Sunday. There are many who prize secrecy for the sake of secrecy, often just to be able to charge a price for the "knowledge" they dispense. No matter what we may think of such practices, we must admit that our own age has developed this technique to a greater degree than could ever be imagined by the priests of old. The modern medical profession imparts its highly detailed esoteric doctrine only to those willing to pay the price of five or ten years dedicated study and many thousands of dollars in tuition and fees. For such a sacrifice these "priests" are rewarded with government protection whereby the state severely punishes anyone who attempts to use the secret knowledge without blessing from the "priesthood." In this case divulging of secrets is not forbidden, but practice of medicine is forbidden without a license, even when the practitioner has a degree. The medical profession can give excellent reasons for this, e.g., that medicine is an exact discipline that requires lengthy training, that the public must be protected from unscrupulous practitioners, etc. Very similar reasoning could be applied to Hermetic Science and the Occult Arts, and in ancient times (also in the genuine schools today) this was applied. In ancient times, mathematics was a secret, but medicine was openly and indiscriminately practiced. What is secret is what we value highly, or what we fear, or both. Today we do not value esoteric science, so we do not consider it worth the effort, in time or money, to study it deeply or to commit our lives to it. Today we are interested in our material bodies, so a very large portion of our money goes for medicine, for food, for physical fitness, cosmetics, reducing aids, and digestive relief. Medicine is highly valued, so its practitioners are secret about their secrets.
Military security, however, demands oaths of secrecy so strict that a defense-plant worker is not in a very different position from the ancient Pythagorean student who was not permitted to speak for five years. The Pythagorean school was a mystery (i.e., philosophical) school, and not a military installation, however, so it seems strange to us today that philosophy should be kept secret. If we remember, however, that Pythagoras was also a genius mathematician, the Einstein of his day, that one of his "secrets" was geometry, and that the Greeks maintained their nation greatly because of their advanced military prowess in using new gadgetry (Archimedes designed the great catapults which helped Sicily demolish the Roman navy in the Punic Wars), then we see that such "secrecy" in mystical matters had a direct relationship to ordinary life and the fate of nations. We might all ponder what the history of the twentieth ¢ury might have been if Einstein had kept his discoveries secret and had imparted them only to a few individuals of high dedication and responsibility, instead of publishing them for world consumption.
There is a tale
about Descartes, the French mathematician- philosopher, who developed (in the
sixteenth century) a gun that was so powerful and accurate that it would kill a
cow at the distance of one mile. The invention so horrified him that he
destroyed its plans, believing that mankind would destroy itself with such a
weapon. We developed that weapon later, anyway, which maybe shows that secrecy
does not win out in the end. Many ideas which were "secrets" in the
past are now common knowledge. The point, perhaps, is that wizards should and do
take some reverence and responsibility toward what they know and what they
learn. Like the wise philanthropist who does not give all his money away in a
lump to the first person who comes along, but exercises thought and
discrimination in disseminating it where it will do the most good, so wise
Qabalists are cautious with their knowledge, not out of a secrecy or to
perpetuate mystery, but for the sake of good and reasonable judgement.
The Qabalistic system of methodology was taught by those Orders or Schools that Christian F). Ginsberg mentions: the school of Gerona, a school supposedly being the cradle of the Qabalah, and based upon the teachings of Isaac the Blind; the school of Segovia, founded by Jacob Segovia; the Quasi-Philosophic school founded by Isaac Allatif; and the school of Abulafia and the Zohar school. And finally it is said that the Qabalah was also made known among the -Christians by Raymond Lully the great Alchemist (1236- 1315) who regarded it as a divine science ("Ars Magna" as he referred to it). The Qabalistic methodology was no doubt taught by the Essenes, Knights Templar, Alchemists, and Rosicrucians, where we are given to understand that the true aristocracy of culture and learning was based on the intrinsic faculties and not on mere objective or external qualifications. This is in contrast to today where we are led to believe that a man with a Ph.D. is wise, whereas he may in fact only hold the degree because he has paid for it with money and time and effort in the institution of "higher learning." If he has wisdom it is incidental to his degree and often in spite of it. Sagacity is a quality of Chokmah, the Qabalist would say, and may act in concert with the intellect, but the intellect does not acquire it merely by the exercise of learning.
In the great works of the past we see that all of the Orders taught the Qabalistic use of myth, symbolism, and allegory, which are the indispensable instruments of the esotericist who realizes that while truth may be a product of the intellect, still, human apperception does not come through the intellect alone. It is only the very few who acquire genuine mercurial genius, due to the fact that the mercurial principle is known only by members of the genuine (or real) esoteric Orders. This does not hold as true today, however, as it did in the past, and this is due to the relaxation of the prohibitions against publishing some of the more elementary practices of Tantra Yoga. None of the publications are very specific on the regenerative and/or reformative aspects of Tantra, but more is known than formerly about this body of Yoga. "The little known" leaves us with "the much to be desired" however, so we may not be as well off with partial information as with none at all. Perhaps the inspiring presence of the Tibetan Lamas here in the West now, will infiltrate our collective unconscious with ideas ("Dark Familiars") made in the images of the gods of Tantra. Here in the West sex has just now come of age, so now we are all acting like little children who have just been granted our first privilege of staying out after 10 o clock on Saturday night. We will not be capable of practicing Tantra as it was understood in Tibet, until our collective unconscious has been conditioned to "see" luminosity in the human body. Inasmuch as this world is a dynamic energy system, then not any "thing" in this world is what it appears to be to the five physical senses. The human body is a luminous creation-a lump of dynamic points of energy. If we keep this in mind when we use this body to practice Yoga, any form of Yoga, we may be able to keep some of the personal equation out of the way. Yoga a deux is being practiced willy-nilly in the West today, but personal attraction has more to do with choice of partners than does level of awareness. In this case, to use Jungís term, it is more likely to be an anima-animus encounter, so regeneration and transmutation of energy cannot be said to be the sole purpose and interest of the relationship. But The Self is impersonal in the world of form and cannot be made to serve human goals.