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A Qabalistic View of the Goddess
Article ID: 12068
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Author: T. C. Eisele
Posted: February 24th. 2008
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For a long time there were many dogmatic restrictions that existed within the Jewish community regarding who should have access to the teachings known as the Qabalah. One of these rules was specifically that women couldn’t study the Secret Wisdom.
Although things are somewhat different now, many Wiccans and Pagans are still suspicious of the Qabalah and essentially view it as merely another form of patriarchal dominance. I find this state of affairs to be quite ironic simply because the Qabalah and its teachings illustrate a Mystical point of view, and Mysticism is concerned with the right brain, the subconscious, and the subtle realms, which are all essentially manifestations of the Goddess energy.
I am neither Jewish nor a Rabbi, so I have no traditional, dogmatic allegiances to adhere to. Instead I am a Qabalist in the Western Esoteric sense, in other words a Magician who utilizes the Tree of Life and its correspondences for practical purposes.
I am also a great believer in the Magickal effectiveness of Hebrew numerology. By using Hebrew letters and their associated numerical values in this essay, I will try to redefine the Qabalah as a sympathetic and loving brother of the Craft for any of my Pagan friends who may still remain skeptical.
The word Qabalah generally means “to receive, ” though in a more specific sense it also means “from mouth to ear, ” which would infer that the teachings grouped under the heading of the Qabalah were originally an oral teaching passed directly from Master to Initiate, not unlike the passing of knowledge between any Wise One and an apprentice in the indigenous traditions.
Hebrew Numerology or “The Literal Qabalah” is based on the fact that in Ancient Hebrew there were no separate letter and number systems, meaning that the letters of the Hebrew alphabet served a dual function as both a letter and a number. As a result, every word in the Sacred Books of Ancient Hebrew (including the Bible) would necessarily have a corresponding numerical value.
The act of understanding the wisdom contained in these texts was therefore dependent on comparing words of similar numerical value in order to see the true meaning beneath what at first view may have seemed to be either fantastic or contradictory information.
In my own work I have sought to go beyond just applying the numerology of the Hebrew alphabet to the Ancient texts. The major thrust of my interest resides in exploring the viability of using the Qabalistic technique of “Gematria” (a Greek word describing the relative numerological values of words) to help define the synchronicities that result from Magical Ritual as the Practitioner’s intentions are sent out into the manifest world.
This technique is explored at some depth in my forthcoming book “The Rose and The Scorpion” in an essay entitled “License Plate Gematria, ” but for now I will limit myself to the stated intention of this essay and attempt to draw some sympathetic analogies between the Qabalistic and Wiccan viewpoints by deconstructing the Hebrew word for “Goddess.”
When it is transliterated into Latin characters the Hebrew word for Goddess is rendered as “ALH.” This is a very interesting word because it actually represents a coalescence of 3 different Qabalistic concepts.
The first of these ideas concerns the letter A or “Aleph, ” the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and a Qabalistic notation for the energy of the One Infinite Creator. By adding the second letter L or “Lamed” we then have the word AL or “EL, ” which is translated into English as “God, the Father.”
Thus within the Hebrew word for “Goddess” there exists a trinity consisting of Unity (Aleph or “The One”), male (AL or “God the Father”), and female (ALH or “Goddess”).
This construction also mirrors the organization of the Supernal Spheres on the Tree of Life, which are the 3 uppermost spheres and represent the Higher Self or the unification of yang and yin that exists within all of us and leads to the creation of the “Formative” and “Active” worlds that comprise the lower parts of the Tree.
Specifically the names of these Supernal Spheres are “Crown” symbolizing our direct connection to the Unity of Spirit, Chokmah or “Wisdom” that signifies the masculine initiating force, and Binah or “Understanding” representing the potential upon which the masculine acts.
On a macrocosmic or grander scale we see another triadic construction, known to the Qabalist as “The Great Egg, ” which is usually illustrated as 3 concentric circles.
The outermost one is labeled AIN or the “Great Negative”, the middle one is AIN Soph or “the Limitless, ” and the innermost circle is known as AIN Soph AVR or “The Limitless Light.”
In this as in the other constructs we see consciousness (AIN Soph) and its manifestations (AIN Soph AVR) emerging from an eternal womb (AIN) where all potential exists as an infinite and undefined energy like the dark, amniotic fluid surrounding an infant.
From all of the preceding information, it could therefore be said the actual Qabalistic view would be that the Goddess energy is the basic state from which all life emerges.
Now because women are direct links to this mysterious energy by the very fact that they embody it on the manifest material plane, it should come as no surprise why they were denied access in a Patriarchal society to the means by which they could formulate a more conscious understanding of their innate creative power.
At this point, I am reminded of the ending of Marion Bradley’s book “The Mists of Avalon” when Morgan LeFay has resigned herself to service with the nuns in Glastonbury Abbey. She is mourning the death of the Goddess when her attention is drawn to a statue of the Virgin Mary in the chapel, at which time she thinks to herself, “The Goddess cannot die, she has only concealed herself until the time is right for a return to her rightful place of power.”
As I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, things have changed and women in the traditional Jewish Community are now allowed to study the Qabalah. The same has been true in the Greater Magickal Community since 1888 when The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn at the insistence of its founder, S.L. Mathers became the first Secret Order to allow women to be initiated into its ranks and study the Tree of Life right alongside their male counterparts.
To anyone seriously engaged on a Spiritual Path of self-discovery an acceptance of his or her feminine nature is absolutely necessary. Without the willingness to receive that marks the quintessence of the Sacred Feminine, True Enlightenment is just not possible.
Henceforth, let the Craft and the Qabalah come together, for as far as this Qabalist is concerned the act of receiving literally implied by the word “Qabalah” is a direct tribute to the Goddess.
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T. C. Eisele
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