Adam Kadmon—The Cosmic Christ.

fiery man

Kabbalah teaches that the process of creation involved God taking what was basically a large in-breath and breathing His/Her/Its Self out to create the Universe.

It’s a bit more complex than that, but if we believe that all creation is the Breath of God (or the Word, if you prefer) then we know that everything is sacred.

As the Breath flowed down through Jacob’s Ladder being balanced by its two sides of expansion and consolidation and it’s central column of consciousness, it became coarser the further it travelled from its source.

Therefore the highest world, Azilut is represented by fire, the next, Beriah, by air, the next, Yezirah by water and the lowest, Asiyyah by Earth.

The highest world, Azilut is where all potentiality lies — everything flows from that into reality. And this world is the ‘fiery man’ as beautifully illustrated here in this painting of the Hebrew letters Yod He Vau He by William Hart McNichols. I first came across this image in the work of Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi.

The fiery man is Adam Kadmon (meaning ‘the primordial human being). This is the perfection of creation; the place of origin for every conscious soul. This is also where we return when we become perfect. Every one of us is one cell in the fiery body of Adam Kadmon and, when every conscious being has perfected then the process of creation is ended.

What happens then is anyone’s guess … but don’t worry, it won’t be any time soon!

The perfect human, Adam Kadmon, is the Cosmic Christ. And as the Cosmic Christ, It is the presence of God that can become a physical being. Jesus of Nazareth was a human example of the Cosmic Christ but it is vital to understand that Christ was not Jesus’ surname. He represented the Christ on Earth but, as he himself said, ‘Before Abraham was, I am’ (John 8:58). John is the Gospel representing the Divine world of Azilut and in this Gospel – the one with all the great ‘I Am’ sayings – Jesus is speaking as the Cosmic Christ. Christ is much bigger than just Jesus. Christ is in all humanity – and beyond. Christ is not and cannot be limited to one religion.

Believing that Christ can be limited is tribal thinking. Fundamentalist religion takes written scriptures literally but, as the great theologian, John Dominic Crossnan wrote: ‘My point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally.’

Understanding this helps to makes it clear that the Christ is the great potential in all beings. Christ is in the very air we breath and the food we eat. When we take communion we are acknowledging the sacred – the body and blood – of the Cosmic Christ. And we become what we eat.

Tt is our purpose in creation to become perfected – to become Christ. This may take many hundreds of thousands of years – or even more – but it will happen eventually and for all of us.




What is the Point of Kabbalah?

HandiconHiresNow that is a very good question… What is the point of all this? Isn’t it an antiquated system that is only allowed to Jewish men? Or is it a New Age cult that cherry-picks what it can use to control people?

At its heart it is neither. Kabbalah is simply scaffolding. It has different uses for different people but the use that I (Maggy) find so fascinating is that it helps me to understand the mysteries within religion. There are many Kabbalists who will tell you that to study this system you must be a) male, b) Jewish, c) over 40 years old and d) be able to read Hebrew. This is a tribal view of a Universal structure.

I believe that a true Kabbalist cannot have an exclusive attitude to religion – i.e. cannot say ‘my religion is right and your religion is wrong’ because Kabbalah teaches that we live on several different levels of being. When we understand that all the separation in the world – all the tribalism, religious differences, blame and control – all exist in the lower psyche and understand that the task of the human being is to work at the level of the soul, things start to make a lot more sense. We can re-interpret the Bible, our everyday lives and the State of the Nation with discernment and mercy. It all starts to make a lot more sense!

You can be a Kabbalist and a Buddhist, a Kabbalist and an agnostic, a Kabbalist and a Christian, a Kabbalist and a Jew…probably not a Kabbalist and an atheist because it’s all about the relationship between the Divine, the Universe and Humanity, but I could be wrong about that.

The Tree of Life and Jacob’s Ladder are diagrams that tell us both the structure of creation and the structure of the human psyche. Everything in creation fits on these diagrams. How did someone work out how to do that? I don’t know how; but I have never found anything that didn’t fit – or anything that wouldn’t tell me when it was placed on the Tree or the Ladder whether it was for the good of humanity or not.

So, properly used, this is a tool for peace. It can only be used as that by people who are willing to look inside their own souls and to understand that we are all sparks of the Divine – essential aspects of Adam Kadmon, the Primordial Human Being, the Christ Consciousness, the Presence of God in Azilut. Who…? We’ll talk about Him/Her next time.

But it’s worth closing this bit with a quotation from the Koran (Table Section three, verse 45-48):

We have ordained a law and assigned a path for each of you. Had Allah pleased, He could have made you one nation, but it is His wish to prove [test] you by that which he has bestowed upon you. Vie with each other in good works for to Allah you shall all return.



Kabbalah and Prosperity part 2.

cornucopiaApplying the aspects of the ten Sefirot of the Tree of Life positively to your financial beliefs and actions will give you enough information to begin to experience lasting prosperity. Some Sefirot will not be a problem for you; others may represent big challenges. However, even if you just apply some of the suggestions below, your financial situation should improve. The good news is that prosperity work also has a knock-on effect in the rest of our lives too — and on the lives of those around us. Prosperity work is never selfish — you cannot teach the world the spiritual laws of prosperity unless you understand them yourself.

Keter: Acknowledge The Higher Source.

Money, like everything else in this world, comes from God. God is the source of our supply and, if we are not abundant, it’s all too easy to blame God or to believe that It doesn’t want us to be rich rather than the inner resistance which is blocking our good.

A God that allows us choice in everything is constantly offering us the good option as well as the bad. Align ourselves with the Law and good will come; disobey the Law and we get uncomfortable. We think, subconsciously, that God didn’t invent money; and, therefore, it can’t have anything to do with God. But money is energy – which comes from God – and we humans decided to use this energy in order to make things fair rather than unfair.

For example: one man has a pig and another has chickens. They trade: a haunch of the pig for a year’s supply of eggs. One year the pig dies but the first man still needs the eggs, so he offers a token to promise that next year he will give two haunches of pig instead of the usual one, as long as he can still have the eggs.

That is all that money is; an agreement of trade between two people.

Our fear over money works in the same way that we fear God. We think we’ll get shouted at for letting the pig die in the first place and then, when we’ve continued having the eggs for an extra year, we resent giving the second haunch of pig.

If we fear God and don’t think we are worthy of Its love then we will also fear money for exactly the same reason. Fear attracts exactly what is feared so if we focus on lack we will create it but if we focus on prosperity we will create that instead.

When people leave conventional religion for the New Age, their finances often take a terrible tumble – because there is frequently a deep inner belief that they cannot do what they love and prosper. This comes from the conviction that ‘truly spiritual’ people are poor and that if you want to demonstrate that you are good, you have to struggle. It’s the hair-shirts and bread-and-water syndrome; beat yourself up physically and mentally; live in the humiliation of not being able to pay the bills and the soul becomes cleansed.

Kabbalah teaches that God loves us all. You can be a multi-millionaire or live on the streets and God will still love you equally as well. Who and whatever you are, you are a vital component in God’s Cosmic Plan. Without you, the plan would fail so you are infinitely precious to God.

God is constantly offering abundance with every breath you take. If you can’t see that – and you want to do so – you need to switch an angle in your psyche. And that’s where Hokhmah comes in.


Hokhmah: Step Out Of The Wave.

You can create revolution through revelation!

We live in a world of bad news, soap operas, grumbling, gossip and TV celebrities. None of that is real but the more attention we give to it, the more destructive it becomes.

Of course, we need to be notified if there is real danger around; but, every day on Earth, more than five billion people get through 24 hours without any major crises whatsoever.

Most ‘bad news,’ such as the death of someone we love, is incredibly private and needs to be addressed in peace and comfort. So why do we avidly watch other people’s distress? What are we creating by default when we do?

Negativity is catching. It’s common practice to be cross when a utilities bill comes in and has to be paid – but the truth is that you’ve been given all that power on credit because the company trusts you to be prosperous enough to pay. They have faith in you.

To prosper, change the energy. Thank the power company for supplying you. Bless the cheque you write to pay them. Stop reading the paper and watching the news wherever possible; avoid soap operas full of angst and watch movies with happy endings. Choose how you want to live your life instead of letting the outside world live it for you.

The choice is ours: we can live life consciously and make positive decisions based on free will which will draw good times towards us – or we can live life by default and be drawn into the culture of fear and negativity which is predominant around us.


Binah: Understand How You Got Where You Are.

The odds are that you got there by living life by default – and by believing what your religious tradition, your parents and teachers taught you.

Understanding comes when we realise that the Universe is totally neutral and if we bemoan our poverty, lack of relationship, boredom and irritation, Cosmic Law will just assume that, as we are focusing our attention on those things, we want more of them. And it will hand out more very happily.

The real problem about money is the projections that we put on it. Where there seems to be an issue about money, it is actually more likely to be a problem about self-worth, anger, grief, about childhood experiences of conditional love or about an authority issue.

It is important too to look at the religious training you may have received about money and wealth. Re-reading holy texts for yourself may help to alleviate that. Both the Old and New Testaments in the Bible teach many prosperity secrets.

We have already mentioned Jesus of Nazareth but Moses and the Israelites of the Exodus had treasure given to them by the people of Egypt when they left. This treasure built the Tabernacle which was later transformed into the inner sanctum of the Jewish Temple. They also had Manna from Heaven – everything they needed every day of their lives on the way to the Promised Land – and that is the secret of true prosperity.

The Buddha certainly renounced the riches of being a prince but they were just clutter to him — not true abundance. He was not poor; he chose the middle path – having tried both the ascetic life of self-denial and the life of riches and royalty. Mohammed was inundated by people giving him riches and houses.

It is always worth investigating the inner truths of all religions…they usually tell you only to take as much as you need — and that means enough to pay your bills and to live peacefully so that you are able to be happy and to grow. It does not mean that you have to be poor.


Hesed: Giving.

Many people in spiritual work are great givers and poor receivers. However, the great spiritual disciplines of the world suggest quite a different kind of giving from the one we generally understand.

There are three levels of Giving in Kabbalistic teaching (in the Bible, they are known as Tithing). They go in this order:

1/ Give to God.

2/ Give to yourself for celebration.

3/ Give to others.

Most people work on a different order; they give to other people first and foremost, themselves next and God (or their spiritual growth) last. Some people go even further and refuse to give to themselves at all. This results in Cosmic Law doing the same for them.

How do you give to God? The old way was to give to the Temple because that donation paid the priests whose job was to remind the Israelites of the wonders of the Oral Teaching. You gave as a thanks-offering to God for guidance in how to live your life. Nowadays, people who tithe give their money to sources of spiritual inspiration – whether it is a church, a group or an individual person. It is very important to ensure that this tithe is not charity – it is not given to support good works but as an acknowledgment of inspiration received.

Tithing is popular in the United States of America where many of the big corporations were founded by families which tithed regularly. These include the Kraft, Colgate, Heinz and Rockefeller families and they have all spoken publicly of their belief that putting God first financially had prospered their businesses. When people criticised his wealth, John D. Rockefeller would say: ‘God gave me my money.’[1]

You can also give to God by putting your spiritual growth first. So, to prosper, it helps to ensure that you give yourself time and backing to be who you really want to be – before you take care of others.

It is worth checking how often you pay the bills before you buy yourself a bunch of flowers or a bottle of wine. If you pay the bills first and neglect yourself, that good old Karmic Law kicks in again and Cosmic Law just thinks you want bills and debts to be more important than you are – and keeps on giving you more of them. It’s about balance; don’t neglect your obligations but value yourself too. It can take a few months of practising this to change the tide, but it will happen.


Gevurah: Clear Out The Clutter.

The word ‘possession’ is an interesting one. Do you possess your possessions or do they possess you? If your happiness depends on physical objects then it may lead to financial, emotional and even physical problems. The balance is about having beautiful things in your life which you can let go of any time you need to do so – rather than having your possessions owning you.

You can also have a cluttered mind to the extent of focusing on a particular belief which is addictive and exclusive (a form of psychological possession).

Jesus of Nazareth was an itinerant preacher, wise enough in the Laws of Prosperity to know that everywhere he went he would be taken care of, fed and offered a bed for the night. He could manifest whatever he wanted wherever he was (including the money to pay his taxes); he was a Master and those who followed him were in training to be the same. They couldn’t just stay in one place and they couldn’t carry their possessions with them.

Clutter-clearing is all the fashion nowadays and people do realise that holding on to old pictures, letters, ornaments etc. means that they are also holding on to the emotions around them. It may not be tactful to throw out the vase that Auntie June gave you but if every time you see it you think of how much you dislike it – or her – then it isn’t doing either of you any good.

It is important to be kind to yourself while you clear stuff out; some people do it in one fell swoop and others need to do it slowly and gently. Get a good friend to help; they’ll be more dispassionate than you about what needs to go and what doesn’t.


The Tiferet ‘secret’ is to look for beauty – where you find that, you will also find truth. The poet Keats summed it up in his Ode on a Grecian Urn:
‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’

The best way to find beauty is to acknowledge everything good that we already have and are – doing that helps us to find our true self.

Being grateful for what we have is a very powerful way of applying Cosmic Law – even if the idea of it does make you wince because your Grandma was always saying, ‘Count your blessings, dear!’

Firstly, it shows the Universe that you are focusing your mind on the kind of things you truly want as opposed to concentrating on the things that you don’t  want. Secondly, it helps you re-member yourself. Thirdly, it helps you to work out what in your life you don’t want to focus on any more.

If you want fast results, write out 100 things you are grateful for every night for a week. They can be the same things or different ones or a mixture of the two. To make it easier, you can start with the five senses. Try saying ‘Thank You’ for:

  • Ten things you enjoy looking at
  • Ten things you enjoy listening to
  • Ten things you enjoy touching or feeling
  • Ten things you like to eat
  • Ten lovely scents.

The gratitudes can be for things as small and simple as you like – even a cup of tea or the sight of sunshine on leaves.



Nezach: Action For Manifestation.

Kick-starting Prosperity takes action; you can theorise as much as you want but unless you start doing the work, nothing much will happen. Affirmations are useful – they are positive statements in the present tense which inform and instruct the Universe what you want in your life. Instead of saying ‘I haven’t enough’ try affirming ‘My income is constantly increasing and I prosper wherever I turn.’ It may not be true when you start but it can become true if you give it enough attention.

A wonderful Nezachian way to start changing negative prosperity to positive abundance is to create a Prosperity Wheel or Treasure Map; you may have heard of these through Catherine Ponder, Shakti Gawain or other spiritual teachers. (fig 7:2)

Take a large piece of coloured card (apparently green or gold works best for finances, pink for love and blue or white for intellectual/educational desires) and put a smiling picture of you in the centre, at Tiferet. Then surround yourself with wonderful colour pictures of whatever you want to bring into your life – or what you want to maintain or develop – and add the spokes of the wheel to draw the experiences to you. Put the wheel up on the wall and look at it morning and night.

It is a simple way of applying Law. To apply Kabbalistic principles, you can put pictures of what you want at the appropriate levels around you

  • Keter/Hokhmah: Images of sources of inspiration and delight.
  • Binah: Images of your own particular favourite tradition.
  • Hesed/Nezach: Images of love, romance and health.
  • Gevurah/Hod: Images of the perfect job and money.
  • Tiferet: An image of You looking happy.
  • Yesod/Malkhut: Images of home and luxury.

Two words of warning: the Universe can be very literal in its interpretation of Law, so take care what you ask for – you may get it. One woman put up a picture of herself holding her brother’s baby son, asking for better family relationships – and she was pregnant within six months. And, obviously, don’t ask for things that are not your business or which would cause hurt to others.

You also need to add the ‘Universal Disclaimer.’ This is really important because it moves the intention to the realm of Grace rather than just personal desire:

These things or better now manifest for me in easy and pleasant ways for the highest good of all concerned.

This makes sure that you draw to you abundance which is yours by Divine right and takes nothing away from others that belongs to them. It also ensures that you don’t get a big payout as a result of injuring yourself. There is a true story of a man who, when on holiday and enjoying himself wonderfully, said ‘For two pins, I’d stay here another month.’ After the next day’s skiing accident, which resulted in two pins in his ankle, he did stay there another month to recover. Idle words create just as much as intentional ones.

Hod: Monitoring Your Progress

It is very easy to let your finances slip through your fingers through lack of attention. Make sure that you check your bank statements; read the meter instead of going on estimates; find out if you can have a free financial review from your bank.

Make sure that you aren’t paying out standing orders or direct debits which are out of date; check that all your due payments come in and that you don’t pay too much tax. Make sure you keep in good communication with people over financial matters; tell the bank or whoever ahead of time if you are likely to go overdrawn. If you do that, you get offered a lot more help on Earth which will filter through to the Higher Worlds.

Keep a journal of your prosperity work; have a ‘Gratitudes Book’ where you can write your thanks for every day and make an ‘elimination list’ of things you want the Universe to remove from your life. You may make some interesting discoveries.

Work out exactly what you would spend £1000 on, £100,000, or £1,000, 000. If you don’t know why you want that money it’s even harder for Cosmic Law to see why it should arrange for you to win the lottery.


Yesod: Clean Up Your Image.

We live in a world where everyday life is ruled by Yesod and the Law works for personal appearance just as much as for what is in your heart. It notes what you wear and where you pass your time. The choice is up to you; but you will get better prosperity results from eating just one course in at a four-star restaurant than you will in going to McDonalds a dozen times. If you want abundance; you have to align yourself with it so the Universe agrees that it is where you belong.

It is a mark of insincerity of purpose to spend one’s time in looking for the sacred Emperor in the low-class tea-rooms’. The Wallet of Kai Lung, Ernest Bramah.

So go where your purpose is. If you feel broke and it is a special occasion that you want to mark, choose brunch at a good hotel rather than dinner at a place that doesn’t inspire you.

Wear clothes that are smart (whatever the fashion). It is true that one good quality suit and two good shirts is worth a dozen cheap fashionable outfits. If you are into the New Age, then consider carefully the image that you put out. Be aware that to others you may just look impoverished or weird rather than wise and spiritual if you wear floaty bright dresses or cheesecloth shirts. The everyday world’s Yesod exists and it does make snap judgments whether we like it or not. The great task of the Kabbalist is to be ‘in the world but not of it’ and that means fitting in where it’s necessary – like if you want to get that job. You are not compromising yourself; you are accepting what is and agreeing to work with it; you can attempt to change things, if you want to, once you are inside.

It is not about trying to make yourself something that you are not or about showing off or being vain; but about showing your true value to the world in a way that it can be observed by others.

Another thing which may be blocking your prosperity at the level of Yesod is your attitude to those who already are prosperous. Do you envy rich people? What do you think other people would think of you if you were rich? Do you think that some people have no right to their wealth or that they misuse it? Do you snarl when you see someone in a BMW or feel jealous when you see someone who in your view has very little talent, paraded all over a magazine, showing off their wealth? Do you refer to the ‘fat cats’ when you read about rich businessmen and women?

If so, then you are likely to push your own prosperity away because you are demonstrating a subconscious belief that you, too, would be envied or disliked for being rich. What goes around comes around and your feelings towards others will reflect back to you. That is a good excuse for not becoming wealthy.

It may be that you would use riches in a better way than other people but remember, you do not know the full story. Quit the judgment as soon as you can and allow others to be happy in their wealth. Then you too have a greater chance of being admired rather than despised when you are wealthy too. A good way of transforming this energy is to observe the rich and famous and say to yourself quietly: ‘Good for you. And it’s good for me too.’


Malkhut: Receiving

Most of us think this should be the easy part. ‘Just watch me spend my lottery winnings!’ you might say. But you might be surprised how much subconscious resistance has been trained into us when it comes to receiving

Take a look at your everyday attitudes. If someone gives you a compliment, for example, what is your reaction? If they say they like your outfit, do you say: ‘Oh this old thing!’ If they say you look good, do you say you feel lousy? If they say they admire you, do you make a face and a self-deprecating remark? Cosmic Law hears you — and will acknowledge that you don’t want to receive compliments; and, therefore, by logic, you won’t want to receive anything else.

Take a good look at how you receive what you are given physically, too. Will you let someone buy you a cup of coffee at the office without insisting on giving them the money every time? Even more, will you let them get you a coffee — or are you always getting the coffee for everyone else? When someone gives you a present that you really like, do you ever say ‘you shouldn’t have’?

Why shouldn’t they have? They wanted to make you happy.

Not to receive anything, whether it’s a compliment or a gift, is to deny the person who gives it to you the opportunity of giving. That is really quite unkind. Why should you be the only one who always has the blessing of being the giver? To be a giver, someone has to receive. Maybe it is your turn.

Also, to deny the truth of what other people are saying is to deny them. You are effectively telling them that their opinion is valueless if they think you are good looking and you tell them that you are not. They have the right to have you respect their opinion.

If you genuinely belief that they are telling a lie – then call their bluff. You can still receive the compliment; the rest is their problem for trying to deceive you.

The whole secret to Kabbalistic prosperity is to realise that the issue is between God and you; nobody else. God is the active, giving principle when it comes to energy; it is up to us humans to select and receive the amounts and the types of energy that we want. Using our knowledge of the Tree of Life, we can do just that.

[1] Source: Open Your Mind To Receive, Dr Catherine Ponder, De Vorss

Kabbalah and Prosperity Part 1.

Placeholder ImageWhat Prosperity Really Is

Prosperity is the ability to be abundant in all areas of life including health, relationships and finances.

Traditionally, Kabbalah was only taught to men over the age of 40 who had already had a family. This was so that, by the time such people came into the Work, they would already have demonstrated their maturity in being able to cope with the everyday pressures of life such as paying the rent and coping with both financial and relationship issues.

However, as a living tradition, Kabbalah can be a useful tool to help us to solve any financial or relationship problems that we may have. It is a discipline that is meant to work at every level, so it’s just as appropriate to use Kabbalistic principles on your finances or your love life as it is in spiritual self-development.

After all, if you are constantly worried about money or in destructive relationships, much valuable time and energy will be used on those situations, leaving very little for spiritual work.

Kabbalah teaches that if you, yourself, are in alignment, then the Universe will work for you. Kabbalistic prosperity is about working out where our thoughts and attitudes towards money are preventing us from being able to receive the natural abundance of the Universe.

The first thing that the Kabbalist needs to understand about money is that it is a neutral energy form and nothing else. It is an energetic symbol which mankind adopted in order to barter and create trade.

As a form of energy, the laws of physics demonstrate that it cannot be created or destroyed; only changed and moved. Therefore, to burn a banknote is only to destroy a symbol of money, it does nothing to the source of the energy itself.

Money obeys the law of cause and effect just as everything else in Earth. What you put out, you get back. So, if your consistent thoughts about money are that you have to work hard to get it and that there is never enough to go round, that is the picture which will be reflected back to you. Fortunately, with a little will-power, this can be changed.

Prosperity is not just about money. However, our attitudes towards abundance and lack – as represented by money – will affect every other aspect of our life. Wealth is represented by the right-hand column of the Tree of Life and Lack by the left-hand column. The right-hand column can over-balance in greed and possessiveness and the left-hand one can revel in the ‘pureness of poverty’ or punish you for not being ‘good enough.’

However, by positive use of the left-hand pillar, you can clear space for prosperity and by positive use of the right-hand pillar you can initiate actions to create prosperity. The central column of consciousness is about drawing the prosperity down from God into the physical world. Held in balance on the central column of consciousness, you can always have quite enough to enjoy life as a prosperous and free spirit.

The Tree of Life is also the Tree of Abundance.


Common Mistakes People Make Over Prosperity

There are basic ten Kabbalistic reasons why people usually have money issues. The word for ‘sin’ in New Testament Greek is hamartia which means ‘to miss the mark’ or ‘to wander from the Law of God.’ The word ‘sin’ is also said to be a medieval English archery term also meaning ‘to miss the mark.’ So when we ‘sin’ we are putting ourselves out of alignment with our Divine Good. The most common errors we make with regard to prosperity are easily aligned with the ten Sefirot of The Tree of Life.

  • Keter: Emotional or mental issues with religion, faith or the idea of God which are projected onto money.  Also the fear of being thought ‘unspiritual’ if you are prosperous.
  • Hokhmah: Inability to think laterally or be innovative in financial affairs.
  • Binah: Lack of understanding of Universal Law with regard to the way money works.
  • Hesed: Lack of generosity to self and others.
  • Gevurah: Living a cluttered life – leaving no space for the new.
  • Tiferet: Forgetting to be happy with the abundance already around and within us.
  • Nezach: Lack of spiritual, emotional and mental action to create prosperity.
  • Hod: Avoidance of monitoring our financial situation.
  • Yesod: Fear of envy by others – or being seen as ‘above ourselves.’
  • Malkhut: The belief that ‘there’s never enough to go around.’

Lurianic Kabbalah


Until the 16th century Kabbalah, like modern-day spiritual teachings, worked on the premise that the world was predominantly a place of well-being and abundance. As Kabbalah has for many centuries been held within the heart of the Jewish faith, it followed the belief that when God created the world it was perfect.

This is based on the first chapter of the Biblical book of Genesis (1:31 ) “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”

Mystics from the beginning of time have taught the principles of responsibility; that we are stewards of the Earth and that every action has a consequence. Therefore the tragedies and misfortunes that can fall on humanity were seen as being caused by the misuse of human free will. But in the 16th century, for the Jewish people who were persecuted in the Inquisition and expelled from their Spanish and Portuguese homelands, this teaching was both unhelpful and possibly even cruel. They had done nothing to deserve such ill-treatment and it was too hard to expect them to believe that they had, themselves, persecuted others in a previous life.

Therefore, a new impulse was needed in the Kabbalistic mystical tradition which was attempting to hold their faith together as the Jewish nation scattered around the World.

This was given by a charismatic young man called, Isaac Luria. Luria was a mystic who spent years in seclusion communing with the higher worlds and who believed that he was guided by the prophet Elijah. Luria joined the school of a respected rabbi and author, Moses Cordovero in Safed, Israel. On Cordovero’s death, he took over the group and began to teach a brand new line of Kabbalah which helped to explain the tragedy of what had happened to the Jewish nation. He taught that when God created the Universe, He made a mistake: that the great Divine vessels which were created to hold the light of emanation were not strong enough and broke. This sent shards of matter throughout the Universe which became evil impulses. They are the cause of bad things happening to good people; an external evil which strikes at random.

Later Lurianic Kabbalists explained the apparent dichotomy of an omnipotent God being capable of error by saying that the Holy One intended the mistake to happen in order to be able to test humanity.

Lurianic Kabbalah spread like wildfire, not only because it bought comfort but because it emerged at a time when the printing press had been established and people could spread the word in literature.

Ironically, Luria himself forbade his followers to write down his words but, being human, they did.

So, most Kabbalists believe in a similar system to Christianity’s belief in the devil – that there are outside forces that attack us.

However, a curious thing happened with the dissemination of Isaac Luria’s teachings by his followers: Jacob’s Ladder was not taught … and it disappeared from conventional Cabalistic study for the next 400 years. No one is certain why this happened. Instead, Luria’s own diagrams were taught. These are so various and (to our eyes certainly) so complicated with the links between levels and worlds so easily misunderstood that it is not surprising that students of Kabbalah began to study the tradition in alternative ways. The Tree of Life is still seen as relevant but the diagrammatic part of Kabbalah became less important in favour of the study of the significance and power of the Hebrew alphabet.

Kabbalah and Interfaith.

This is a paper I wrote for the 2010 Interfaith and Social Change: Engagements from the Margins Conference at the University of Winchester.

Kabbalah (Judaic Mysticism) as a Tool for Interfaith

Rev. Maggy Whitehouse.

Kabbalah is a Hebrew word, most frequently translated as “receive.” In the hermetic and alchemical traditions the word is spelt as Qabbalah; in the Christian tradition it is spelt as Cabala. The Mishnaic Hebrew (קבלה QBLH) translates it as “reception, received, tradition,” cf. Arabic qabala “he received.” However, in the Judaic tradition which is the one used here, it is popularly translated with a ‘K.’

The aim of this article is to demonstrate that if you interpret accepted religious texts (in this case, the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible) through the filter of the oral, mystical tradition that was existent in that time — and still is today — you may see that there are different levels of interpreting the writing in order to see a wider picture within our religious beliefs.

colour menorah_2

In Biblical times very few people were literate, so stories that could be interpreted on many levels were the way of spreading the faith. It was important to have some kind of structure on which to hang these stories so that they did not become just inaccurate Chinese whispers. Many experts believe that this structure was based on the design of the Menorah (seven-branched candelabrum) in the Holy of Holies in the First Temple (Irenaeus, 3rd century; Luzatto, 18th century; Barker 2007; Halevi 2010). This, as we shall see later, was the forerunner of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. If a story fulfilled all the criteria of the ten specific buds, knops or bulbs (as they are variously known in different translations of the Hebrew) on the Menorah (Exodus, chapter 25) then the story was sound. This is not entirely dissimilar to how Catholics use the Rosary with which to pray.

These attributes on the Menorah expressed the ten principles or Sefirot (plural; singular Sefira) by which, Kabbalah teaches, the world came into existence. Together they make up a matrix formed by observation including both astronomical and astrological principles (Josephus, 110) as well as the numerical values of words (gematria) or the spaces between words. Kabbalists try to ensure that every action they undertake is perfectly balanced by taking the aspects of all the Sefirot into consideration. To do this does not require you to follow any religion whatsoever, although it is fair to say that Judaism is a founding source and justifiably protective of Kabbalistic teaching.

In Biblical days, sacred texts were few and far between and these were read out loud to groups to be interpreted and discussed rather than read in private (Ehrman, 2005). In addition, the Bible texts have often been inaccurately copied and translated. On the subject of textual inaccuracy, Prof. Ehrman states:

“They could not be produced en masse (no printing presses). And since they had to be copied by hand, one at a time, slowly, painstakingly, most books were not mass-produced. Those few that were produced in multiple copies were not all alike, for the scribes who copied texts inevitable made alterations in those texts — changing the words they copied either by accident … or by design.” (Ehrman, 2005, p46).

It is also important to note that the Kabbalah of Biblical times was not the same system as is popularised in the modern day by the Kabbalah Centre, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Hasidic tradition or even the writings of such revered Kabbalists as Gershom Scholem. The older tradition has been existent within the oral tradition but was revitalised in the public domain in the 1970s, primarily through the work and books of Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi.

The more commonly-known “modern” Kabbalah is the result of a re-interpretation of the creation story postulated through the teachings of a 16th century rabbi, Isaac Luria. Luria’s theory is that when God created the Universe he made a mistake (some say a conscious mistake), leading to the shattering of the vessels (Sefirot) that were intended to receive the light of creation (Luria/Klein, 2005). In layman’s terms, this theory postulated that the Divine error was the cause of an external evil which attacks humanity (why bad things happen to good people).

On Luria, Halevi (2006) states:

“Luria set up his own group and began to teach a doctrine that stated that the Divine Sefirotic Tree had been shattered when the power of the first emanations had broken the seven lower vessels. This, Luria claimed, had caused the organisation of Existence to be distorted as sparks of Divinity fell and were scattered throughout the lower Worlds. This, he maintained, explained the origin of Evil and cruelty in history. The idea had great appeal to Jews who had suffered devastating persecution for centuries. So it was that Lurianic Kabbalah came to overshadow the classical integrated tradition.”

Luria’s new interpretation was an important teaching at that time when the Jewish nation had just endured the torment of the Inquisition and the expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula. It became the most accepted version of Kabbalah, partially due to the recent invention of the printing press spreading written versions of Luria’s teaching.

However, the Kabbalah before Luria’s time was based on the belief that God created the world perfectly without error. This is expressed by the Hebrew Bible itself in Genesis (KJV):

“And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10, 1:18, 1:21, 1:25).

Also at the end of the same chapter of Genesis:

“And God saw everything that he had made and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

This earlier Kabbalistic and Biblical teaching postulates that all evils that beset humanity are caused by our own choices or lack of conscious decision-making — the perennial question of free will. Both systems, however, rely on humanity to rise above the unconscious level and training of the ego to right the wrongs of the world however they are perceived to have arisen.

On this, Halevi (2007, p 227) writes:

“An individual can aid the redemption of the Worlds by his conduct and a knowing contribution towards harmony … the self-centred will of individuals and nations is slowly curtailed into self control and then into the voluntary choice to submit to the will of Heaven which supervises the good for all despite its — to most of us — strange ways of going about it.”

As this article — and this website — is using mystical interpretation of stories within the Hebrew Bible it is based on the earlier system in order to be as close as can be to the Kabbalah of Biblical times and in order to demonstrate that it is our own decisions (or lack of decision) that cause the pain in our lives.

The “original” Kabbalistic tradition is mostly known nowadays as Toledano Kabbalah after the Golden Age of Spain in the 11th-12th centuries CE where Jews, Muslims and Christians worked together in relative peace in the Spanish city of Toledo. It is also referred to as Cordoveran Kabbalah after Luria’s teacher, Moses Cordovero, author of Pardes Rimonim/Garden of Pomegranates, (1542) ­— not to be confused with the 1932 book of the same name by Israel Regardie — and Tomer Devorah/The Palm Tree of Deborah (1550 approx). Cordovero encapsulated the Kabbalistic teaching of previous generations and clarified the four levels of interpretation of sacred texts which are first mentioned in the seminal Kabbalistic text The Zohar (published 13th century; date of writing disputed).

These are also described (Griffith Dobbs, 1999; Trimm, 2006) as encompassing the teachings of the New Testament not just the Hebrew Bible.

The four levels are:

  • Literal (simple — basic storytelling — this may or may not be true)
  • Allegorical (the hint — or the implied meaning)
  • Metaphysical (the search — how does this relate to me?)
  • Mystical (hidden — God’s wider plan)

On this, Halevi (2006, p 17) states:

“According to tradition, the Bible has four levels at which it can be comprehended. The lowest level of understanding is the literal; the second the symbolic; the third, the metaphysical and the highest, direct mystical experience. Kabbalah takes into account all these levels as each has its contribution to make as regards the aim of Existence, the purpose of humanity and its relation to the Deity.”

These four levels mean that when we read a story such as the Exodus from Egypt we are reading about a real event (in this particular case one that is now questioned by historians); a story with a moral, i.e. an example of stepping out of ego consciousness (Egypt) into the wilderness to find a life that is better and happier on all levels in the Promised Land.

The third story is our own spiritual development. For us, the stepping out into the wilderness may be a personal story of ending a marriage which has become damaging to us and our partner or questioning the exclusiveness of our religion in a multi-cultural world. In doing either, we would be starting a new and challenging life away from the accepted role which had, until then, defined our life. It is often a tough journey of questioning of trained beliefs, self-realisation and co-operation with others.

The final level refers to the growth of humanity itself; how we develop as an ever-evolving species under the guidance of the Holy One.

There is much to associate Kabbalah with the Judaic tradition, not least the matching patterns of the Kabbalistic diagram, The Tree of Life and the stories of the Torah and the Prophets in the Hebrew Bible. However, the concept of a Tree of Life has been used by faiths all over the world since the beginning of time.


There are Phoenician, Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian Trees of Life dating back to 4,500 years ago (Freer, 2011) and debate over whether these ancient trees were the origin of the Judaic tree.

There is also Yggdrasil, the World Tree of Nordic fame, around which extend nine worlds.

Professor Simo Parpola of Helsinki University (1993) has proposed that the Kabbalistic Tree of Life is based on a family tree of the gods from an Assyrian perspective with elder gods representing the four elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire.

Carl Jung, after years of studying the language of the unconscious, interpreted the Tree of Life as one of the universal unconscious’s synonyms for the Kundalini, the essential life-force and libido that is said to lie like a snake at the base of the spine until awakened to rise through the human energy system (Spiegelman, 1982).

In First Temple theology, the tabernacle of Moses and the First Temple built in the same design (as laid out in Exodus, chapters 26 and 27) was set out in four sections, each of which was supervised by an aspect of the Divine. These were known as the Wonderful Counsellor (Fire), the Mighty One of God (Air), the Eternal Father (Water) and the Prince of Peace (Earth). After the Babylonian exile they were named as the Archangels Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and Uriel (Barker, 2007. p 26).

In my own books, Illustrated History of Kabbalah (2006) Total Kabbalah (2007), and Kabbalah Made Easy (2011), I have examined the possibility that the four Gospels of the New Testament are reflections of these four levels of the first Temple. This would explain the finalisation of only four Gospels in the official canon of the Christian church.

Iranaeus (n.d. 3.1.8) states:

“The Gospels could not possibly be either more or less in number than they are. Since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is spread over all the earth, and the pillar and foundation of the Church is the gospel, and the Spirit of life, it fittingly has four pillars, everywhere breathing out incorruption and revivifying men. From this it is clear that the Word, the artificer of all things, being manifested to men gave us the gospel, fourfold in form but held together by one Spirit. As David said, when asking for his coming, ‘O sitter upon the cherubim, show yourself ‘ [Psalms 80:1]. For the cherubim have four faces, and their faces are images of the activity of the Son of God. For the first living creature, it says, was like a lion, signifying his active and princely and royal character; the second was like an ox, showing his sacrificial and priestly order; the third had the face of a man, indicating very clearly his coming in human guise; and the fourth was like a flying eagle, making plain the giving of the Spirit who broods over the Church. Now the Gospels, in which Christ is enthroned, are like these.”

The four creatures refer to Revelations 4:7-8. Irenaeus later compares them to the Gospels according to John, Luke, Matthew and Mark respectively.

The Tree of Life, as interpreted in the Judaic tradition, is based on the design of the Menorah, the seven-branched pure gold candelabrum set in the Holy of Holies of the Temple. This theory is supported by Irenaeus (n.d), Luzatto (approx 1725) and has been developed extensively by Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi (2008).

The design of the Menorah is believed, by many sources, to have been translated into the Tree of Life of today by the 13th century French Rabbi Yitzhak Saggi Nehor, better known as Isaac the Blind (Scholem 1991). As Kabbalah is an oral tradition it is a challenge to pin it down in written text. It is intended to update as humanity progresses. However, it has a structure in the Tree of Life diagram. The Tree’s ten Sefirot, each reflect an attribute of the Holy One and a human being. As defined by the published authors on Toledano Kabbalah including Wagner (2000), Halevi (2008) and Hattwick (2010) they are:

  • Malkhut – Kingdom.

The human body and its basic needs and requirements. Our primary life force. Survival and reproduction.

  • Yesod — Foundation.

The ego-consciousness, our instincts, our ‘place in the tribe’ and our automatic reactions to life.

  • Hod — Splendour (in Greek ‘the way’).

Our thought processes and intellect. Information as opposed to knowledge or wisdom.

  • Nezach — Eternity (in Greek ‘life’).

Our active processes, sexuality, addictions, doing rather than thinking.

  • Tiferet — Beauty (in Greek ‘truth’).

Our conscious self; the part that responds rather than reacts. Being awake where Yesod is sleeping.

  • Gevurah — Judgment.

Discipline, strength, discernment, the ability to say a conscious ‘no.’

  • Hesed — Loving Kindness.

Mercy, unconditional love, justice (as distinct from law or judgment), the ability to say a conscious ‘yes.’

  • Binah — Understanding.

Boundaries, experience, comprehension, clarity.

  • Hokhmah — Wisdom

Inspiration, direct contact with the Source.

  • Keter — The Crown

Our ‘higher self’ or God-self. Direct contact with the Divine beyond all religion or tradition.

There is also a non-Sefira known as Daat which is a dark sphere on the column between Keter and Tiferet. This is the veiled passageway between our consciousness and the Holy One. The veil parts when we contact the Divine in prayer or gratitude or if we receive a direct message from God.

Together with the ten Sefirot and one non-Sefira, the Tree has three columns: the left-hand receptive, feminine pillar, the central, consciousness pillar and the right-hand active, masculine pillar.

It also has four levels, marked by the horizontal lines, representing the four areas of the Temple. The lowest (Earth—physical world—Uriel) represents the roots of the Tree, the next (Water—psychological world—Gabriel) the trunk of the tree, the next (Air—spiritual world—Raphael) the branches and leaves of the Tree and the highest (Fire—Divine world—Michael) the blossom and fruit of the Tree.

According to Halevi, Wagner and Hattwick, the roots of the Tree (Malkhut, Yesod, Hod, Nezach) are our basic instincts of survival and our tribal lore — the teaching which keeps us in a certain religion, culture and social system. The trunk of the Tree (Tiferet) is our individuality when we step out of the tribe and learn both to think for ourselves and begin to open up to there being valid beliefs other than ours. The branches and leaves of the tree (Gevurah, Hesed) are our joining with the greater community of humanity which is where we can transmute tribal and religious belief. We may certainly keep our roots — the religion of our birth — but we no longer need to say that it is the ‘only’ one, no matter what conventional religious texts may say. At the level of the branches, our contact and communion with the Divine is constant, personal, expansive and continually refreshed.

Kabbalah does not teach that any religions are ‘wrong’ — they may be the foundations of our life — but we are meant to grow from those foundations to experience our own spirituality. In the same way that we are expected to leave the ‘slavery’ of Egypt in the story of the Exodus, we must grow out of the ego-consciousness of tribe or religion so that we can be of greater use both to the world and the evolution of humanity.

This evolution is demonstrated in many Biblical stories but the ones we will look at briefly in this article concern the evolution of the feminine soul through the stories of the matriarchs and heroines of the Hebrew Bible.

As outlined in my own book. A Woman’s Worth – the Divine Feminine in the Hebrew Testament (2013) the importance of the women in Biblical times is not to be underestimated. Whatever the implication of texts such as Midrash or Talmud on “a woman’s place,” historical evidence shows plainly that Jewish women both could be and were presidents, priests, elders and leaders of synagogues (Brooten, 1982).

However, the matriarchs Sarah, Rebekah, Leah and Rachel, while respected, act like characters in a modern TV soap opera; they represent the undeveloped parts of ourselves which are ruled by tribal belief, survival and social position. All these women are also defined by their value as wives and mothers.

Each one represents an aspect of the Tree of Life chronologically from the base (Malkhut) up to the seventh Sefira of Hesed which is the highest point before becoming truly Divine (fig 4). The matriarchs are the roots of the tree and the heroines (from the books of Judges and Kings) are the trunk and branches. We ourselves are to be the leaves while the fruit and blossom are the development of the Divine plan for humanity.

The following is a shortened and simplified interpretation of the stories from the Hebrew Bible, seen through Kabbalistic eyes.

  • Malkhut — Sarai/Sarah (Genesis 11:29- 49:31), the wife of Abraham who became the mother of Isaac.

Abraham was told by God that Sarah would become the mother of nations and the ancestor of kings (Genesis 17:16) but she did not believe it because she was beyond the age of child-bearing. Sarah gave her handmaiden Hagar (Islam calls her a princess and the Zohar refers to her as a daughter of the Egyptian pharaoh) to Abraham so that he could have a child. Hagar gave birth to her son Ishmael. Hagar wanted to take pride of place as the mother of the heir and the two women clashed through jealousy. Later, Sarah herself miraculously gave birth to her son, Isaac, and Hagar and Ishmael were sent away (Genesis 21:14). Isaac is the ancestor of the Jewish nation and Ishmael the ancestor of the Islamic peoples. The Hebrew Bible says that Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac on God’s command but the Koran says that this story is about Ishmael, not Isaac. This is the core of the trouble between Islam and Judaism — an issue caused by the inability of one woman to believe the word of God; her willingness to treat another human being as a possession and both women’s struggles with power and jealousy. It is a point worth postulating that women now could play a large role in ending the continuing conflict in Israel by refusing to sacrifice their sons (and daughters) to a tribal war, preferring instead to seek peace.

  • Yesod — Rebekah (Genesis 24:15-49:31)

Rebekah is the second matriarch. She was the wife of Isaac and mother of twins Jacob and Esau. Esau, as the elder, was due to inherit his father’s birthright but he gave it away to his younger brother on a whim for a bowl of supper. Jacob took this seriously but his father Isaac intended to pass his blessing to Esau. Rebekah favoured Jacob and encouraged him to dress up as his brother to deceive his now-blind father. Isaac was fooled and conferred his blessing on Jacob (Genesis 27:27). However, Esau was incensed and Jacob ended up exiled and Rebekah lost both the son she loved most and the respect of her husband and her other son. This is another story about lack of trust in God and the need to control the outcome of a tribal situation, this time through direct deception.

  • Hod — Leah (Genesis 29:23-49:31)
  • Nezach — Rachel (Genesis 29:06-46-7)

The stories of the third and fourth matriarchs, Leah and Rachel are told together with each representing a different Sefira at the same level of the Tree of Life at the boundary between the root system and the trunk. This is the area which represents how we follow our instincts to survive and learn to live in community and harmony with family and tribe (Wagner 2000).

Leah and Rachel were sisters who became Jacob’s wives. He wanted only to marry Rachel but was tricked by Leah and the girls’ father and ended up married to the wrong sister (hence receiving his karmic reward for tricking his own father). He married Rachel also a week later. The two sisters were perpetually at war with each other over their husband’s favour and Leah’s ability and Rachel’s inability to have children. Rachel gave her husband her handmaiden Bilhah (Gen 30:04) so that she could have a child by proxy and Leah retaliated with her handmaiden Zilpah, so repeating the pattern of Sarah and Hagar. Rachel also dabbled in magic and stole her father’s idols in order to try and have a child. Eventually Rachel did conceive but she died in childbirth with her second son. (Genesis 35:18). So this was another war between women over status and children with very little learned from the past. Where the sisters could have worked in unity within their tribal situation they reverted to conflict.

However, from here onwards, the women’s stories take on a different timbre as they move successively up the Sefirot of the Tree of Life. From now on they cease to be defined by their husbands and sons and become individuals — heroines — choosing their own lives. Even more significantly, they are no longer defined by their religion.

  • Tiferet — Ruth (The Book of Ruth)

Ruth is not an Israelite but a Moabite. Ruth and her sister Orpah became daughters-in-law to the Jewess Naomi when she and her husband Elimelech left their homeland due to famine. However, after Elimelech and their two sons died, Naomi decided to return home to Bethlehem. Orpah chose to stay in the country with the tribe of her birth but Ruth loved and admired Naomi and decided to follow her to Judah and to adopt her mother-in-law’s beliefs. Ruth marries a cousin of Naomi’s, Boaz, and becomes the ancestor of King David, demonstrating that one of the great kings of Israel had mixed blood. Ruth’s story is important as she decides for herself who and what she will become; which faith she will choose and how she will live her life. It also indicates our first Biblical story of peace and co-operation between women.

Ruth’s choice is made in one of the most beautiful pieces of Biblical language we have (Ruth 1:16 KJV):

“Entreat me not to leave thee or to return from following after thee for whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people and thy God, my God.”

  • Gevurah — Deborah, who tells the story of Jael (Judges 4:4-5.22).

Following Ruth comes the story of Deborah and Jael. Deborah is one of the Judges of Israel, a king in all but name, at a time of war. She is entreated by Barak, the leader of the Israelite forces, to lead them in victory against the Canaanites. Deborah says she will do so but that victory will be given to them at the hand of a woman.

The Song of Deborah (Judges 5:1-22) is the story of that woman. It tells how Jael, a Kenite, a neutral tribe — her name means ‘wild gazelle’ or ‘wild goat’— ends a war between the Israelites and the Canaanites by killing the Canaanite commander Sisera (Judges 4:17-24, 5:24-27). Jael breaks the traditional code of hospitality by feeding Sisera and then slaying him, taking her fully out of the tribal mentality and to the level of the Sefira of Gevurah which represents the Samurai or warrior, doing what has to be done to save the land and the people which have suffered from years of war between two rival forces that were destroying the neutral land between them.

  • Hesed — Esther (The Book of Esther).

Following these powerful women is Esther whose story is an integral part of the Jewish festival of Purim.

Esther is a Jewess in exile in Persia. She is the ward of a Jewish man called Mordecai who encourages her to enter a lottery to find a new wife for Ahasuerus, the King of Persia (Esther 2:8). This, in itself, is a non-tribal act as the orthodox Jewish faith then, as now, discouraged interfaith marriages. Esther finds favour with Ahasuerus and marries him, although she does not tell him she is a Jew. Mordecai, meanwhile, makes an enemy of Haman, a powerful statesman and an Agagite — a tribe which is an ancient enemy of the Jews. Mordecai refuses to bow to Haman, demonstrating old enmities and tribal pride. In retribution, Haman persuades the king to organise a massacre of the Jews in order to hide his intended murder of Mordecai (Esther 3:12). To cut a magnificent story short, Esther saves her nation by truly becoming queen, revealing her true self at the perfect moment and demonstrating her willingness to give her life for her people. This raises her to the Sefira of Hesed (mercy, compassion and unconditional love).

In this story, Esther steps out of the rules of her tribe to marry a man of both different lineage and faith and can then heal the damage caused by Mordecai’s pride. She becomes a true queen with power over destiny. She has to be encouraged to step up to do this as, at first, she feels there is nothing she can do; but with the support of her people in prayer she is able to find the courage to speak out. Instead of choosing to destroy another, she offers her own life, trusting to God that all will be well.

At the literal level these are just stories of prominent women in the Hebrew Bible. At the allegorical they show the unhappiness created by slavish adherence to the rules of the tribe or by trying to circumvent them through deceit or magic, followed by the challenge but ultimate happiness of embracing a wider view and daring to step out to find our own truth.

At the metaphysical level we can see ourselves and our attitudes and our personal growth. Have we got the courage to own up to our own strengths and decide for ourselves what path to follow in life? And can we cut away the enemy (our resistance) and offer our life to a higher purpose, even if it involves embracing the new and possibly frightening alternatives in order to save our own spiritual life as well as lighting the way for others?

At the mystical level it can be seen as the development of the feminine soul over generations, giving us examples of how humanity itself is capable of evolving. Women can be the cause of great conflict; support within great conflict or the healing of great conflict.

The quarrels of the women, at the root level of the Tree of Life, lead to war and unhappiness. The individuation, daring and willingness to be different of the women at the trunk and branch levels lead to peace and reconciliation.

Perhaps the lesson we can take from this (and it is not an easy one) is that if we are to grow in faith, discrimination, compassion and service we cannot do it when tied by the boundaries of what we ‘should’ believe nor by the boundaries of the religion, tribe or belief system of our birth. We must embrace the possibility of difference in order to be of a greater service to God through our own self-development and our compassion to others. We must become the branches and leaves of the Tree of Life, nurtured by the lessons of the root and the trunk.

On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)


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Kabbalah and the Teachings of Jesus

IMG_0858Most people, understandably, feel that Kabbalah and Christianity would be at odds with each other. When I started studying Kabbalah, my mother went to her vicar, concerned, and he told her that it was devil worship.

It is not.

Kabbalah is the oral tradition which forms the structure underlying all the teachings in the Bible. And that includes the New Testament. The error here is in trying to keep different religions and sects separate. There is no place for separation within Kabbalah – which is why it is known as The Work of Unification.

A work of unification is about dissolving the separation between folks rather than exacerbating them. At heart, a true Kabbalist has no religion but the desire to love and serve God. As soon as you say ‘I am a Christian’ or ‘I am a Jew’ or ‘I am a Muslim’ you are starting to highlight differences. The job of this website is to highlight the one beating heart of humanity.

However, people are people and, even in the Kabbalah group with which I studied for more than 20 years (a group of excellent people of learning and integrity) there was still an underlying feeling that this was a Jewish tradition and therefore we didn’t spend a lot of time on ‘the Christianity issue.’

However, the leader of that group, a wise and distinguished man, knows in his heart that Kabbalah is for all people. It’s simply not his job to teach the Christian aspect. It’s his job to update the Judaic aspect — which he does to people of all faiths.

Many years ago he led a group of us on a pilgrimage to Israel and, while we were eating St. Peter’s fish on the Sea of Galilee, two of us (who would generally be defined as Christians) asked him about how the Lord’s Prayer fitted onto the Tree of Life. He said, ‘That’s not my job; that’s your job.’

It is. And it does. Even better is how it flows down the central column of Jacob’s Ladder. And there is no coincidence in that just four Gospels were chosen for the New Testament. As the second century Bishop of Lyons and Early Church Father, Iranaeus wrote:

“The Gospels could not possibly be either more or less in number than they are. Since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is spread over all the earth, and the pillar and foundation of the Church is the gospel, and the Spirit of life, it fittingly has four pillars, everywhere breathing out incorruption and revivifying men. From this it is clear that the Word, the artificer of all things, being manifested to men gave us the gospel, fourfold in form but held together by one Spirit.”

The four Gospels reflect the four worlds of Jacob’s Ladder. Matthew is Assiyah, the physical world; Mark is Yezirah, the psychological world; Luke is Beriah, the spiritual world and John is Azilut, the Divine world. Each is imbued with the essence of the world it has been chosen to reflect and, in coming articles we will explore this aspect.

Jesus of Nazareth was born and lived a Jew. He would have understood the Jewish oral teaching of the time and every word he is quoted as speaking in the New Testament is a reflection of that. He came to unite us, not to divide us — and expanding that essential and beautiful work is the goal of this website. In the human soul, there is no Christian, there is no Jew, there is no Muslim, there is no religion there is only unity.

In the human ego there is division. The ego is vital to our lives but it must not rule us. Let us work from the soul.

What is Kabbalah?

People get confused about Kabbalah. Is it Kabbalah? Or Cabala or Qabalah? Is it a sect? Is it about the Kabbalah Centre (you know – “the Madonna place”)? Is it just for Jews? Are women allowed to study it? Is it only for Jewish men over the age of 40? Is it anti-Christian? Is it flat-out wrong?

This blog is the place to come to in order to ask any questions you might have about Kabbalah (and yes, that’s how I’m going to spell it, even though, truly it “should” be Qabalah because it comes from the Hebrew letters QBLH. However one of the things I’d like to dispel here is the idea that “should” has anything to do with it.

But then I would say that because I’m a woman and I’m not Jewish.

Kabbalah is Hebrew for “receive.” This Western Mystery Tradition is simply an oral tradition which works as scaffolding for understanding the relationship between Divinity, the Universe and Humanity. There are lots of different forms of this and lots of people may tell you that there is only one way to study it.

Why does it exist? Because as soon as any tradition of faith is written down it becomes crystallised — locked in the culture and social mores of its time. To remain relevant, it must be accompanied by a parallel Living Tradition which knows how to update the teaching within its basic scaffolding so that it makes perfect sense today. All faith traditions have an oral, living tradition. This is the one for Judaeo-Christian world.

I love this particular tradition which has helped me heal deep wounds from within both Judaism and Christianity. However, what I want to make clear here is that you are the one who gets to choose which system works for you and as soon as any tradition starts throwing bricks at other folk who do it differently, then you are working from a crystallised mindset, better known as a religion. And a religion is where the trouble starts…

This is one of my books on the subject of de-mystifying Kabbalah.

How Many Kinds of Kabbalah Are There?

Lots. Here’s a brief guide.

In the modern world, Kabbalah is associated with:

  • Orthodox Judaism which focuses deeply on the spiritual symbolism and revelation within the sacred letters of the Hebrew alphabet and limits Kabbalistic learning to men aged over 40 who have studied Hebrew and are married. This ruling was brought in after “the false Messiah” Shabbetai Zvi who brought Kabbalah into disrepute in the 17th century.
  • The Kabbalah Center which teaches a sometimes controversial New Age version of the tradition and has its own brand including Kabbalah Water, red string and accessories. This is also known as “the Kabbalah of the Famous” because of its popularity with celebrities such as Madonna, Demi Moore and Rosanne Barr. Although it ostensibly follows the Lurianic system, the Kabbalah Centre also teaches the precept of self-responsibility and that our lives are created by our own thoughts and feelings.
  • Lurianic Kabbalah. Founded by the charismatic Rabbi, Isaac Luria, this is the most popular form of Kabbalah in the modern world. It came about after the 15th century Inquisition where thousands of Jews who had survived the horror of the autos de fé had been expelled from Spain and Portugal. They could not understand how such a terrible thing had happened to them and how a benign God could have permitted so much suffering for his chosen people.Luria’s inspiration was to reveal that when God created the Universe, a mistake was made which led to the Sefirot or vessels which were transmitting the Light of Creation shattering. The shards from these broken vessels (known as Klippot) became a form of external evil which attacked the good. This answered the perennial question of “why do bad things happen to good people?” This is very similar to the Christian concept of the Devil which had become stronger in the Middle Ages so Christian mystics found it easy to be in tune with the new, Lurianic, system.
  • Christian Kabbalah. This came into being after the invention of the printing press which made Kabbalistic documents available to all. It thrived during the later Renaissance through Christian scholars who perceived that mystical aspects of Judaism and Neo-Platonism were compatible with Christian thought. It has not become of mainstream interest to Christianity because it became mixed in with occultism in the 18th century.
  • Alchemical Kabbalah. Alchemy dates back to pre-Biblical times and has always been closely associated with Hermeticism (“as above so below”). Alchemists are renowned for the search for the Philosopher’s Stone and the secret of turning base metal to gold. Kabbalistic Alchemists regard both as metaphors for transforming the base elements of the psyche into the gold of spiritual enlightenment.
  • Golden Dawn Kabbalah or The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a complicated mix of initiation, ritual magic, Rosicrucianism, Egyptology, metaphysics, astrology and Tarot founded by S. L. “MacGregor” Mathers and William Wynn Westcott in the 19th It was made famous by the teachings of Dion Fortune and Israel Regardie and infamous by the frightening antics of Aleister Crowley.
  • Toledano Kabbalah which takes the teaching back to its pre-Lurianic origins and which, despite its ancient lineage, is the system most in line with modern-day understanding of Karma and the Law of Attraction. This school, led by Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi, is primarily Jewish although it involves those of other faiths as well.

Also worth mentioning as they involve aspects of Kabbalah are:

  • Tarot which has a 22-card Major Arcana which is parallel to the 22 paths of the Tree of Life and four suits which equate to the four worlds of the second Kabbalistic diagram Jacob’s Ladder.
  • Freemasonry which shares many Kabbalistic principles and temple-building symbolism from the Old Testament. The temple and the ability of the high priest to pronounce the name of God correctly while in the Holy of Holies was a vital part of the Jewish High Holy days of worship in ancient times. The activities of the high priest within the Sanctuary are featured in the Royal Arch Degree.
  • Magic which uses many similar symbols. Magic has come to mean many things in the modern world but in Kabbalah is defined as using personal will to affect the workings of the universe as opposed to aligning ourselves to God’s will. An example would be casting a spell to make a particular person love you — which is a violation of the other’s free will and carries nasty karmic repercussions.

What is a ‘Mystery Tradition’?

A Mystery Tradition is an oral tradition which includes discussion, ritual and practice. An oral tradition is vital to the health of any written tradition in order to ensure that the written tradition can be understood and updated with discernment and mercy era through era.

The Western Mystery Traditions include Alchemy, Gnosticism, Tarot, Paganism, Runes, the Knights Templar, Anthroposophy, Hermeticism and Rosicrucianism. They are different from the Eastern Mystery Traditions such as Yoga and Tantra in that they are more intellectual, although they do also use meditation and movement as tools.

Kabbalah exists within nearly all the Western Traditions as a kind of underpinning theme. Tarot, in particular, is a ‘Kabbalistic game’ with the 22 cards of the Major Arcana representing the 22 paths on the Tree of Life which, in turn, represent the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The Four Suits represent the Four Worlds on Jacob’s Ladder.

Tarot is often dismissed as a fortune-telling device but it is a very useful tool for those who wish to understand the complexities of the 22 paths of the Tree of Life; a study which, undertaken academically, would require a thorough knowledge of the Hebrew language.

The Complete Western Mystery Tradition

The reason why Kabbalah is known as the ‘only complete’ Western Mystery Tradition is, primarily, because of the diagram of the Tree of Life. Kabbalah teaches that this is the basis for the saying that ‘God made man in His own image.’ This one diagram demonstrates all of human design, knowledge and experience.

When the Universe itself is described Kabbalistically, it is done through repeating the same diagram as viewed from four different levels – as in the diagram of Jacob’s Ladder.

The template for the designs of the Tree and the Ladder can be traced back to the Book of Exodus and the whole of the Bible is filled with Kabbalistic symbolism. As the Torah (the first five books of the Bible and the Jewish holy books of the Law) underpins the three major Western religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Kabbalah can also, fairly, be said to be the Mystery Tradition which underpins all three of those faiths. This is very useful for interfaith studies and the reason why Kabbalah is known as The Work of Unification.

What Use Is Kabbalah?

Good question!

Kabbalah is a wonderful tool for Interpreting Religious Texts

Nowadays, many people who want to learn about Kabbalah are not religious and they may even have a resistance to the idea that Kabbalistic teaching is integral with the three major religions of the Western World.

However, even if you have no interest in the esoteric roots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Kabbalah is a wonderful tool for developing self-knowledge and spirituality.

The power of Kabbalah to heal the wounds that many people feel have been caused by religion should not be underestimated. Those who have deep issues with Torah, the Bible in general, Jesus, Christianity and the New Testament have found great peace through using Kabbalah to show them the inner meanings of what can seem to be impenetrable – and often harsh – teachings.

Kabbalah is also associated with numerology and many efforts have been made to work out hidden teachings and prophecies in the Bible based on the numerical values of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

But the Tradition can be used far more simply than that in identifying and translating the patterns and themes in the Bible so that they are entirely relevant – and helpful – to the present day.

What is the Origin of the Tree of Life Diagram?

KabEasyFig2The Tree of Life diagram is based on the seven branched candelabrum known as the Menorah from the Biblical Book of Exodus (35:21-35). The menorah was made out of one piece of gold smelted from the treasures the Israelites brought with them from Egypt.

It was built to a design precisely described in Exodus and placed in the tabernacle of the moveable temple built by Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. It has been referred to by mystics through the centuries as the source of the oral Torah (Law); the first five books of the Bible and its design and markings represent the Sefirot, the paths and the four different worlds or levels in Kabbalistic teaching.

The first written correspondences between the Menorah and the Tree of Life were outlined by the early Christian Church Father Iraneus, and later by the 18th century mystic Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato. The concept was further developed by the 20th/21st century father of Toledano Kabbalah, Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi.

The Tree of Life design as we know it today is believed to have been adapted from the design of the Menorah by Rabbi Yizhak Saggi Nehor (1160-1235) who was known as Isaac the Blind. The Rabbi or his students are also credited with clarifying Kabbalistic teaching on reincarnation and Karma and naming the Sefirot.

Rabbi Isaac believed that contemplating the aspects of the Sefirot with sacred intention, known as Kavana, could bring people into direct contact with divinity.