26 April, 2011

Wealth and Poverty

I went to the Tenebrae service and mass at the parish of St. Michael the Archangel, of the AJC. No, I'm not a Gnostic, or a Christian for that matter, but they are my friends and brothers and sisters. One of the readings touched on the nature of Christ as servant, which lead me to thoughts of the nature of Malkhut and it's relationship to the rest of the sefirot.

Malkhut is called "poor" (Heb: dal, associated with the letter dalet) because though it receives, it but does not give. This is because there is nothing beneath it to give to, such is the nature of this culminating emanation. Humanity shares this nature with Malkhut. Just as Shekhinah cannot emanate, neither does humanity. At best we can create, and much of what we create becomes a kind of idolatry as we become infatuated with the things of our own making. Magically speaking, the Neoplatonist Iamblichus called this the thaumaturgy of phantasms.

But Torah tells us that humanity was created in the image of the Eternal, and after the Eternal's likeness. Within many of us, and this is in no way limited to those called to practice the theurgic art, is a longing to imitate the Eternal. This sympathia is the heart of theurgy and kabbalah. And so, in our own ways, we attempt to rise above our place in Malkhut, because although we live here, it is not the sole place of our residence.

All of which brings me back to the Tenebrae service, where many of those gathered did so not only in homage to Christ, but also in an attempt to imitate him. That wasn't me. Rather it caused me to reflect on my own actions and life. When I was younger my main pursuit was that of wealth. I have but recently noticed that this has not been my goal for some time now. One might argue that the majority of my education has moved in a direction more or less guaranteeing I shall never be wealthy. I can live with that.

But what am I doing, exactly? I am creating things. Art, to be specific. I paint and I write and occasionally I make some jewelery. I am especially interested in the creation of eikons and their relationship to theurgic symbolon or tokens. And what do I do with most of this? For the most part I give them away to friends.

I hadn't even noticed it, let alone thought about why. That's what occurred this last weekend. I not only saw it, but began to understand it. It is my small way of emulating the Emanator, Who gives all but receives nothing, for there is nothing the Eternal does not already have. Despite my place in Malkhut, receiving from the Divine with nothing to give in return, that is my little piece of tikkun, my bit of demiurgy.

Or at least it's an excuse as to why I'm usually broke.