27 December, 2009

Divination and Prophecy

To be honest, this isn't the post I have been planning in my head. That post has to do with the three phases of approaching the Shekhinah, as mentioned in the Zohar, as an analogy for coming to know the Higher Self. That one will have to wait. Instead this was inspired by some recent reading. I have been going through a book by the late W.E. Butler (whose books I highly recommend, especially if you're a Dion Fortune fan). He was discussing clairvoyance and precognition in a way that is essentially how I see divination working.

He described it like catching glimpses from a very high window to the street below. From this perspective you can see all sorts of things going on. For instance you can see a man in a suit, though his features would be indistinct from that height. He's walking down the side walk. You can also see a painter high above the sidewalk, but still below you. The painter drops his bucket of paint and you can see that the falling paint can is in the path of the man on the sidewalk. Then the blinds on the window go down and that's it. Now, from your perspective, and by doing a little mental math, it seemed more likely than not that the man on the sidewalk was going to get splattered with paint or even get hit by the bucket. That's what you can predict from what you've seen. However you have no way of actually knowing this will happen. Perhaps he will stop to talk to someone, perhaps he will turn into a building, perhaps he will get knocked down. The permutations are nearly infinite. That's kind of like what divination is like.

Prophecy is something different. There are, it would seem, in fact two varieties of prophecy. The first might be considered "passive," the second "active." The terms aren't perfect but they'll have to do. The passive form is what you find in the Bible or Qur'an. Think Abraham, Moses or Mohammad. Yes, they actively participated in God's work for them, but they didn't go out and seek divine revelation; it was thrust upon them. This kind of prophecy isn't what I'm going to talk about. It is what it is, but without your friendly neighborhood deity there to initiate it, it doesn't really matter what its like.

The second form is also Biblical and represents the later schools of prophets but is also discussed by Sufis such as Al Ghazali. Here the prophet, through various mystical techniques, purposefully seeks visions of . . . whatever. These tends towards being funky, mind you, because they work differently from divination. In divination you are looking through time and space and just seeing it from a superior, but still limited, perspective. With this kind of prophecy you are viewing things from an even more superior perspective, but one that is outside of time and space. Sort of like getting a God's eye-view. It is therefore unlimited as well, or at least effectively so. The problem is that eventually you come back to yourself (a state of sobriety, in Sufi terminology), which is very much in space and time. This means things have to be translated from one view to another, from spirit to soul, as it were. Thus the funkiness of this kind of prophetic vision. The brain just isn't designed to deal with that kind of thing.

Those aren't the only differences, of course, but it is what caught in my mind.

10 August, 2009

Considering Mystery Schools

This has been prompted by a post made by Frater Yechidah concerning the apparent death of the esoteric lodge system. Now, I'm a fan of the lodge system, yes, there are problems sometimes, but there are problems with every form of education depending on how its done and who's being educated.

One of my thoughts on this, though, is about mystery schools being mystery schools. Classically, there were a lot of different "mystery" things out there; schools, religions, whatever. These were interesting things, for instance, we know that they had oaths of secrecy, usually with dire consequences for violating them (which were actually meant to be carried out, unlike in Masonry today). Another interesting thing is that despite this we know about them. But its what we know about them that is interesting to me. This is to say we know very little about them. Various people from the time have written about their rituals and such, but rarely with any precision about what those rituals meant to the initiated; they were invariably written from the lay person's point of view and, I would imagine, probably mistaken in their interpretation. Some we know almost nothing about, Pythagoras's school took their oaths of secrecy seriously, the one person to violate their oat, revealing a mathematical equation, was put to death.

Now, lets compare this to modern mystery schools. OTO, BOTA, GD, AS, SOL, the abbreviations go on forever. We know all about these schools, much of their material has been published, they have web sites, they advertise (and always have). More or less, just about anyone can join. Yes, I know, some have interviewing processes and don't let just anyone in (I've been in Temples were applications were denied after all), yet some allow everyone in. Some branches of these have simply become businesses, others are power plays for the insecure. Its really not how it was supposed to be, I think. For those who think the lodge system is dying, take into consideration that the various GD orders today have many, many times the members of the original GD and its various off shoots.

Now, there are some schools out there that are not like this, they seem to be few and far between. I'm aware of a very few of them (because, you know, they don't generally advertise and their members keep their vows of secrecy. An amazing concept, I know!). Now, I don't dislike any of the above orders in a general sort of way, I've even been a member of at least one of them. But I have to wonder at what point quantity was thought to make up for quality.

03 August, 2009

Spirital and Moral Growth

This has been an issue of my for some time now and, as a blog is a cheap form of therapy, here it is.

I have read the biographies of countless mystics it seems. For those of you who are really interested in the subject I highly recommend Fr. William Harmless's Mystics. Beyond this, of course, are the actual writings of these mystics. While there are a great many similarities, and a great many differences (I am very much not one of those "all mysticism is ultimately the same" sort of people, they might all be equally good (then again, they might not be), but they are not the same and frequently have quite different goals, but that's a different issue. One neurosis at a time.) one thing that seems to be extraordinarily common amongst them is an insistence on the moral growth of the practitioner as being both a requisite for spiritual growth and a result of spiritual growth.

This isn't my issue. I like this. I see this in my own life. It is good.

My issue is that it seems to be almost completely ignored by the vast majority of ceremonial magicians, who are supposedly attempting to gain the "Knowledge and Conversation," and you already know how I feel about that phrase, or whatever other metaphor for spiritual attainment you would like but remain complete and utter jerks throughout their entire life.

That's me being polite, but this is a family show.

Kabbalistically speaking one is attempting to unite Malkhut and Tiferet, the Shekhinah and the Bride Groom (Sophia and Christos for my Gnostic readers). The metaphor usually employed is quite insistent that it is the higher that will take control of, rectify, perfect, whatever, the lower.

Again, I'm good with that, even if the ancient metaphors are quite sexist.

Now, let's look at Tiferet. Tiferet means beauty. This is probably not an accident. If you are looking for Platonic philosophy you've probalby found it, beauty is a direct product of the Good. The Sefer Yetzirah gives Keter the title of Good, Tiferet lies directly below Keter on the Tree of Life. Tiferet is also called Compassion (rachamim), Truth (emet) and Justice (mishpat, which should not be confused with the judgment of Gevurah). These are the qualities of the fully actualized ruach. We should remember that the "higher self" of modern Hermeticism is the lower Genius, it is the unified ruach and nefesh, which is then to be brought under the sway of the neshamah. Someone who claims to have this level of consciousness/spiritual awareness/mojo, or even just the union of the two, the lower genius rather than the higher, should also be exhibiting these traits. They should be compassionate, they should be truthful, be just. That doesn't disqualify someone from being a jerk, of course. There are levels of attainment/awakening/enlightenment/whatever, and our starting points will all vary as well (compare with Confucius' idea of the natural moral self before education and becoming a student-scholar) but moral change and growth should be an observable phenomenon for those on spiritual paths.

Al-Ghazali probably said it better.

At any rate, my issue is, simply: where is this today? I know it is there somewhere, I know a few people, fellow magicians, who have noted the same thing, but they seem few and far between today. Is it the PostModernism? The excuse that morality is cultural and therefore totally subjective is just that, an excuse; no one lives their lives that way. Is it just laziness? I admit this is one of the advantages of the working lodge; if everyone is doing their job no one can be lazy and everyone keeps moving. Is it all out there but I'm just missing it?

I hope so.

01 August, 2009

A bit of routine

Solar Adoration – Thrice/twice daily – ideally sunrise, past noon and sunset.

Morning – Face South, Afternoon – Face East, Evening – Face North

Blessed art thou O holy Bride Groom, who has taught us to discern between Day and Night.

(Optional prayer. In kabbalistic tradition the morning prayer is associated with Chesed/Abraham, the afternoon prayer with Gevurah/Isaac and the evening prayer with Tiferet/ Jacob. Sometimes the afternoon and evening prayers would be combined during the afternoon service. A kabbalistic explanation of this is that only the morning and afternoon prayers, Chesed and Gevurah, are necessary as together the include Tiferet. Traditionally a fourth time for prayer and study, at midnight, was associated with Malkhut/Shekhinah.)

Invocation of the Spiritual Depths:
Me-Reshit, Le-Takhlit,
Me-Tov, Le-Ra’a,
Kashar Yod Hey Vav Hey Et Kol be-Tokh Shemo. Amen.

Ot ha-Moznayim.

Psalm 19:1-6 (NRSV):
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hidden from its heat.

Invocation of the Sarim.
In the name of the Name:
On my right hand, Mikhael.
On my left hand, Gavriel.
Before me, Auriel.
Behind me, Rafael
And above my head, and above my head the
Shekhiah of YHVH.

Close Ot ha-Moznayim.

Invocation of the Spiritual Depths:
Me-Reshit, Le-Takhlit,
Me-Tov, Le-Ra’a,
Kashar Yod Hey Vav Hey Et Kol be-Tokh Shemo. Amen.

06 July, 2009

The Circle

I am not certain, to be honest, just how long the circle has been a magical symbol. I will presume that it has been so just on this side of eternity. At least by the time of Socrates and Plato it has been a symbol of the micro/macrocosm, as evinced by the Socratic description of the Ouroboros as a fully self-contained reality. The magic circle used by many ceremonial magicians, as well as Pagans, today, shares in that quality.

The circle is, simply, a microcosm or, if you prefer, a symbolic representation of a perfected and dedicated creation. It uses employs Frazer's law of sympathy, one of the few things he got right. Its easy; manipulate the signifier and the signified is manipulated as well. Okay, maybe not that easy. I think I'll go back to the microcosm/macrocosm thing.

I think there are, really, two ways to look at this, and though they are different ways of speaking, I think they are, ultimately, saying the same thing. On the one hand the circle is a perfected symbol of creation. All the colors, lights, smells, etc., those are to create a better harmony between the circle and what it represents. But the circle can also be a specific creation; one might imply that the Sefer Yetzirah teaches one how to go about this. Its through this understanding that a lot of magic is done, especially the more Medieval and Renaissance styled stuff and its what all those hexagram and pentagram rituals from the Order of the Golden Dawn are geared towards; creating a universe with a specific intent. The theurgist, for one truly is a God-Worker when creating a universe, is able to create a Space and fill it with specific harmonies. You want the energy of Mars in Libra, you can do that. You want the energies of the sub-element of Water of Air, you can do that, too. It is, I think, the genius of modern systems of ceremonial magic. No longer does the magician need to wait for a particular astrological occurrence to harness its power, no longer does a negative aspect corrupt a working. In the universe you create those corrupting influences are non-existent. In the universe you create the precise astrological aspect exists in eternity.

That's its beauty, but also its danger. Or maybe seduction is a better term.

It is so very easy to become arrogant, you are the creator of universes, after all. We forget that there is always something bigger out there, the non-theistic (in the loosest sense of the term) systems tend towards that more than the theistic ones, but everyone gets it to some degree. Beyond that, we forget to take responsibility for our creation and the things that inhabit it. Magic is life, where ever we do magic, there is life. If we are the god (notice the small "g") of that life, do we not have responsibility for it? This ties in with concepts of morality, but those can wait for later.

But, as I said before, this is that. Micro/macrocosm and harmony with creation as it is all around us, for there is no place that we can create that God hasn't already created and there is nothing that we seek that does not already exist somewhere.

Ouroboros indeed. But we must choose between that, and the crooked serpent. Both are biting their own tails and, unfortunately, all we can usually see of them are their heads. So, be careful; either we crush its head with our heel, or our heels are bitten.

Probably both.

21 May, 2009

Dirk Gently

I tend to take the Dirk Gently approach to certain purchases and the acquisition of occult paraphernalia. So, after a year of not looking I finally found a good enough tree branch for the Gevuric rod. Now, if sterling and gold rings of particular design were as easy to find.

14 April, 2009

Thaumaturgy and Theurgy

I'm hoping that getting this on here will also mean that I get to sleep sometime sooner than an hour from now.

A thaumaturge is like Michelangelo below, painting an image on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. A theurgos is above, painting an image in the mind of Michelangelo to be painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

03 March, 2009

Humility, again

I'm not sure why this topic is sticking with me; I had intended to write something about the "magical names" that occultists take instead. At any rate the previous post on the subject seems incomplete; its one thing to talk about humility, about being humble, but just what is the beasty?

I'm entirely certain I can answer the question. I'm not sure I know what humility is, but I think have a good idea what it isn't. I would love to be able to write some masterful piece of apophatic poetry here, but though I rather enjoy, and possibly even understand, the language of "negative theology," I've never been particularly good at formulating ideas using it.

Humility is not being meek or mild.
Humility is not backing down from what you believe is correct.
Humility is not giving way to others simple because its for the "good of all."

Perhaps, humility is not needing to be right, even when you are.
Perhaps, humility is being able to formulate your thoughts without them being at the expense of another's.
Perhaps, humility is not backing down before what you feel is wrong while understanding that those you oppose feel the same way.
Perhaps, to be humble is to simply, truly, be Yourself.

26 February, 2009

Humility and Sympathy

I sometimes find myself asking, well, myself, does God have an ego, is God arrogant? My instinct on this would be "no, God doesn't have any reason to be arrogant or egotistical, its not in the nature of Ayin to be anything that is quantifiable." Then I ask myself "Then why are there so many occultists who are 'doing the work' egomaniacs? Where is the humility of simply being one's own Self?"

I probably have an answer to that last bit, but lets focus on the positive, shall we?

15 February, 2009

More process

Two in one day! I know, I know, I promised that this would be infrequently used. Such is life.

What is the process like? I think originally this is what I was going to write about, but I guess I needed to get that other bit out of the way first. Part of the process and all that.

I shall wait for the groans to subside . . . ready?

I can't, or at least wont, make a "this is how it is for everyone, everywhere, everywhen" kind of statement. I'm not quite full enough of myself for that. My thoughts on the subject are largely influenced by Gikatilla and Luria. Which itself is interesting as Gikatilla was not a Zoharic kabbalist. In fact he was a senior, or perhaps elder, student in the same kabbalistic circle as de Leon was, and went in a different direction than de Leon did. So, there will be thoughts of "rectification" (which is kind of like redemption, but different) in here, as well as that whole spiritual proximity thing. So, Luria first, then Gikatilla, which is in reverse opperation for me, as Gikatilla's mystical theology underlies just about everything in my practice. Luria is a bit more familiar to people than Gikatilla though.

Luria's main focus seems to have been working towards Tikkun ha-Olam, the World of Rectification. He saw creation as (presumably purposfully) flawed due to the Breaking of the Vessels and that it is humanities job to fix it. This would entail both the rectification of our own selves (nefesh with ruach, ruach with neschamah, on all levels) and the rectification of the sparks of Keter that were trapped in the World of Action, and especailly in and below Malkhut so that they may be restored to their proper place. (This is somewhat of a simplification. Luria held that creation existed below Malkhut, mired almostly complete in the world of the broken vessels. Most other kabbalists take the view that physical creation exists within Malkhut, which is more or less how I understand things to be.) To me these are to different metaphors for the same thing; whether we are rectifying our own sparks or the sparks that are around us doesn't really matter, it all needs to be cleaned up by someone, and we've opted in. Kind of like theurgic Boddhisattvas, which is an idea that needs to be explored further I think.

Gikatilla, in Sha'are Orah, the Gates of Light, wrote, repeatedly, about how things in the spiritual realm interacted with one another. He reminds us that the notion of closeness is a matter of, well, matter. Spiritual things, the sefirot especially, do not exist in either space or time, so the language of closeness, which is related to both, is irrelevant. For Gikatilla, and for me, spiritual "closeness" is a mater of similarity. The more alike, spiritually (and everything that entails), to something, the closer to it I am. Again, this may be similar to bhakti, or theosis, or experiencing one's Buddha nature, which is the same everywhere. Maybe. It means that if we want to be like Christ, or Krishna, or our own higher selves, we must start to act like them, think like them, pray like them . . . . we must identify ourselves with them as much as possible. We make the male female and the female male (thanks Thomas!) This is both the process and the goal, and recalls the Vajrayana idea of using the goal as the path. It also explains why the "peak experiences" of mysticism are not the goal, but highlights along the way. We change slowly, day by day. And, all unnoticed by ourselves, we have become who we really are.

Its all about the process

I mean, really, its called a "path" for a reason, right?

While I perhaps understand the desire for instant change towards a spiritual life I've never really understood the expectation, I presume its a weird, Western adolescent post Modernism thing part of the species is going through. But, yes, its a process; we are becoming who we are really are, trying to strip off the aggregate of false ego we've hidden ourselves beneath for however long we've been alive.

That's part of the process too, of course. I'm kind of Neoplatonic that way.

I think this idea is all around us though, and not just in Western traditions; its a core notion in many forms of Buddhism as well, though perhaps their notion of what exactly the real self is, that person in the mirror without rank, and what mine is are not quite the same. Its the goal of psychology as well, that speaking about the soul it gets its name from.

Excuse me, I'm beginning to ramble a bit.

So, yes, a process. I think some of the modern language of ceremonial magic, as well as the way the spirituality of such has been redirected (I'm looking at you Mac and Uncle Al!) has confused us though. The wholly external "Holy Guardian Angel" is one example, the focus on "Tiferetic Consciousness," whatever that might be, is another. The first is, at least, a useful in the short term, as it certainly looks that way for a while, given how the laws of spiritual proximity work. I would imagine that everything looks that way for quite some time, actually. But then we engage in Theosis or Bhakti or whatever you want to call it, and we disolve ourselves into the other. For some things that dissolution is not complete, and possibly cannot be complete, for other things, we were never really two to begin with. Those thoughts and ideas that didn't seem like ours, that come out of nowhere and make us think "well, yeah, why didn't I see that the last 100 times I looked at this?" become our very own, as they always were: we are just not the "we" we were before.

That second metaphor, made so popular by the Golden Dawn/RR et AC, bothers me a little more, probably because it is in rather gross violation of kabbalistic thought, this is the kind of thing that caused the Shattering of the Vessles and stops the flow of shefa. Go read Gikatilla's Sha'are Orah, its dense but well worth the read. The metaphor that I, personally, grok to comes, ultimately I guess, from the Song of Songs, but is found throughout the Nevi'im and Ketuvim and is really brought to life in the Zohar.

The union of the Bridgegroom and the Bride.

Here we have the bringing together of the nefesh and ruach. Not just the lower aspects of the ruach either, not just reason but intellect as well, where those flashes of true insight come from. In modern hermetic language this is the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. And its not what it seems to be. The "Higher Self" language is misleading when we forget that the Higher Self is the Lower Genius, not the Divine Genius so many mistake it for, and we've all seen what happens then.

It is, however, making onself fully human. The Zohar tells us the story, interpreted from Genesis 1:27: Male and Female He created them (or "They" if you wan't the plurality of the Hebrew Elohim). The Zohar teaches that the first human was both male and female, two beings combined in one, back to back. In their yearning to face one another they were separated into Adam and Chevah (Human and Life, whereas before they were Human Life). This was the fall and we've spent the rest of our existance trying to come back together again. Yes, I realize the sexist nature of the story. You really wanted something else from a Bronze Age peoples?

To bring our life (the nefesh) and our humanness (the ruach) back together again makes us fully human once again. I suppose if we were to use the metaphors of modern ceremonial magic, this would be the final processes of the grade of Adeptus Exemptus (feel free to use that, if you happen to be using that grade system). It is, though, only the foundation for something else, the next phase in the Work, the realization of the Divine Genius, the neschamah and its components.

That's another discussion though.

05 February, 2009

Belief, Faith, Intellect and Reason

I have, in my "working" library, the Modern Catholic Dictionary, written, or at least compiled, by Father John A. Hardon, S.J.. This was published in 1980. It claims to be the first new Catholic dictionary published since the second Vatican Council.

Its amazing what you can find in the "Dead Book Sale" of a small community college.

I found four entries to be quite interesting, those on faith and belief and those on intellect and reason.

The relationship between these pairs is, to me, fascinating. Briefly, faith and belief have to do with the acceptance of another, trusting that they know what they are talking about and are being honest in what they are saying. The difference between them is two-fold: 1) Faith has a stronger level of trust than belief, 2) Faith is an act of of the mind whereas belief is an act of the will.

That second part is really interesting. Belief is without recourse to reason, it is only an act of will (not in the occult sense). Faith, though, is much more, it is not just an act of will, though it is that, it also requires employment of reason. This reminds me of Medieval and Renaissance traditions, both Jewish and Christian (and I'd imagine Muslim as well) that support of reason is necessary for any real understanding of God. The requirement of reason for faith also pulls it away from popular uses of the term that really suggest "blind faith", which is now nearly a contradiction of terms.

Intellect and reason stand in a similar relationship. Reason is a process through which we analyse and employ evidence. Intellect, though, is the faculty through which we recognize truth, regardless of a process of reason. It is still a way of thinking, but one that transcends the necessity of, or recourse to, the senses or imagination. A kind of gnosis.

The mystical theology of the desert father Evagrius Ponticus describes a spiritual process that moves from faith to gnosis, with gnosis being the culmination of faith.

I don't really have a point to any of this. I just thought it was interesting.

29 January, 2009

The Regalia of Ezekiel's Chariot - Part II

But that's all vary vague, which rather matches my thoughts on the subject I'm sure, and doesn't get to the heart of the matter, though it perhaps hints at its spirit. I have been thinking of magical tools of late, because I've been designing my own.


The regalia are somewhat similar to what most might expect, at least outwardly: Chalice, Rod, Sword and Ring. Yeah, not your father's elemental weapons, because, you know, they are not elemental weapons. They are aligned sefirotically to mirror the vision of Ezekiel, which is a formula of the soul, which is made fairly clear in the Zohar. So, the Chalice of Shefa, the Gevuric Rod, the Sword of Justice and the Ring of the Kingdom.

I would have gone with the Sword of Truth, but that's too Terry Goodkind.

All of this is kind of related to the previous post, but also related to the first and the idea of sympathy. If one were to sit down and read through the Junior Doorstop . . . er, Regardie's Golden Dawn paperback, first, one is kind of insane, as its like reading stereo instructions written in bastardized Latin, and second one might wonder just why the hell do you have to make the elemental weapons. From my own experience in a GD temple that is further compounded when you realize that no one ever seems to actually use them once they have been made and consecrated.

The answer is sympathy. One is not simply "charging" these impliments, one is consecrating them to a purpose, giving them life and in order to do this successfully one must have sympathy with what they are being consecrated to. So, it is a test or perhaps an ordeal. Crowley's version of these implemants really suggests this, as you had to actually design your own tools, not used a rote version. This mean you had to both demonstrate your understanding of the principle being symolically represented and then consecrate it to that idea, to the best of your ability. You had to become your understanding and any failure to consecrate your tools correctly would suggest a corresponding lack of sympathy and lack of real understanding (da'at, real experiential knowledge, just like the sexual metaphor suggests).

In this light the GD tools are really quite important, as they represent, and thus become, fundamental building blocks of creation: the playground of the magician. The Regalia, as symbolic of the four modes of the soul, are the life of the theurgos.

The Regalia of Ezekiel's Chariot - Part I

I have been thinking about magical tools of late. No, not that kind, I mean the "weapons" made famous by the Golden Dawn and subsidiaries. Well, kind of. I'll get to that later I suppose. Usually, I don't share my views on the subject on the various fora I'm on, largely because my experience and thoughts on the subject are so completely different from those around me that my disagreement with them sounds somewhat condescending, and to be honest, it probably is.

As it happens, I spend a good deal of time around Pagans of various stripes. So I don't entirely know that current state of thought in the ceremonial magical community on the subject. My experience with the vast majority of Pagans is that the magical implements; the wand, sword, dagger, etc., are little more than props and mental foci. I don't deny that this can be a way of looking at them. It is, in my opinion, the lowest way of looking at them, though I'm thinking PaRDeS sort of way.

I tend towards a somewhat more "old school" view, with old being 500+ years old. Agrippa tells us that the world is filled with Life and the creation of a magical implement or talismans is the giving of life to an object. Perhaps more broadly, Jewish mystical thought shows us that creation is nothing but Light, though it may not seem that way to us. Marry these views and you have something of my own. The work of the theurgos is to realize the Light and Life of the world. Thus consecrated magical objects are living, spiritual beings (for lack of a better term). If this is true then the creation of such objects should never be undertaken lightly and they should be treated with proper respect.

21 January, 2009

A Cup of Blessing

The Zohar begins with a description of a rose, containing both red and white. The rose is a reflection of a cup of blessing, from which flows the holy shefa or "everflow" as Rabbi Gikatilla put it: the ever flowing blessings of El Elyon. The rose has thirteen petals, one for each of the thirteen attributes of mercy, and rests upon five leaves, like the five fingers of the right hand that holds the cup.

Ever since I read this passage of the Zohar it has struck me as being a powerful image, and an image of peace at the same time; those two attributes of severity and loving kindness, red and white petals. The image of thirteen petaled rose is then superimposed upon another rose, one of forty-two petals, the rose of mercy or the rose of creation. I get images of roses blooming into greater roses whirling in my head, all of which is subsumed into the flow of the shefa pouring out of a never empty cup. The shefa pours onto us, into creation. But what happens to it?

It is, of course, all around us, all the time. From the perspective of Ayin there has never been a break, all is Light. But for us things are different. Part of the work of the spiritual occultist, the therugos, is to work with that Light, to manifest and hold a cup of blessing, a lower reflection of that higher cup, and to spread the Light into the world, rectifying it. This becomes a work of therugy, of theosis, of sympathy, whatever you like to call it. It is a rectifying of our lower selves to our soul, and our soul to our spirit, the divine genius.

We don't just hold the cup, we become it.