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.

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