Philosophy • Spiritual Science • Freemasonry • Tarot
Some key characteristics of Kabalah
Please read the introductory remarks on the Home page. I have also previously written a brief overview of Kabalah that can be viewed online as issue 22 of the Tarot Studies Newsletter ('Kabalah and Tarot'). Not wishing to re-present what can be viewed via the link, what follows are some rather brief characteristics.
'Kabalah' can be described as that which is 'received'. This is normally understood to refer to that which is passed on and received by tradition. I would, however, here suggest that Kabalah becomes alight when that which is received transcends the knowledge of tradition, and enters the supernal realms of understanding and wisdom: that which is received from above and transforms one's work is essentially kabalistic.
To be sure, the traditional aspect of Kabalah also forms the foundation of the work. Here, I would suggest that it has three characteristics.
The first refers to key or canonical texts, which include the Tanakh (Old Testament, especially the Torah), the Sefer Yetzirah, the Sefer ha-Bahir, and the Sefer ha-Zohar; secondly, there is the glyph of Etz ha’ Hayim (the Tree of Life); and thirdly, the Alefbeit (Hebrew alphabet).
Both the Tree of Life and the Hebrew alphabet have their own pages. I have also prepared an online version of the Sefer Yetzirah — see the links above. Of the other texts, I leave these as simply mentioned for the time being, though again do refer to my short introduction mentioned above (issue 22 of the ATS Newsletter).
Tetragrammaton - YHVH
I will here only make a short additional comment related to this important name found in the Old Testament (Tanakh). Etymological studies suggest that the name is closely related to the word (in both its verbial and nominal forms) for 'Being'. Hence it stands that 'that which was, is, and will be': an eternal presence and, in its verbal form, action. In its close connection to the later characterisation as Logos, it also has a characteristic of order and thoughtfulness.
Since late mediæval times, one of the forms of writing 'Jesus' was to insert the letter Shin within its centre, thereby rendering Yahweh as Jeheshuah (YHVH → YHShVH). This insertion of 'Shin', being one of the Mother letters related to Fire and Spirit, I again shall leave to expand upon a future time.
Every Hebrew letter also being a number results in YHVH = 26. If we take a standard wheel of the zodiac and note the ordinal value of the four fixed signs of the zodiac - which incidentally also relate to the four living creatures of Ezekiel's vision - these also add to 26. Some of these considerations are also explicitly made in my brief 'Christ, the World and Sin'.
Both Christianity and Judaïsm have three principal festivals (amongst many others 'lesser' festivals, of course), and each matches the other in quite a number of significant ways. It is not, however, the similarities that one can find that are of the greater significance, but rather being able to live into each in its own manner.
At the very least, these six festivals, together with a celebration of the Equinoxes and Solstices, form the foundation of a solid earthly and spiritually striving social group of individuals engaged in its festivities.
The Jewish festivals of Pesach (Passover), Yom Kippur, and Hanukah form one set; the Christian ones of Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas another. With the four points astronomically defined by solstice and equinox, these form ten celebrations.
books on the Kabalah
Kaplan, Aryeh Sefer Yetzirah
Kaplan, Aryeh Bahir
Idel, Moshe Kabbalah: New Perspectives
Wolf, Laibl Practical Kabbalah
Foundation Stone (free learn Hebrew software also available)
Melville Segal's site (combines Kabalistic and Anthroposophical insights)
for other Kabalah pages on this site