Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Further Thoughts Regarding the Qabalah

I have completed assembling the lecture notes for my two lectures at the upcoming Paganicon lectures on Saturday, March 17 (at 9 am). That work also includes the handouts, since I always believe that the attendee should have something that’s printed up to take from the lecture. These tasks took a lot more labor than I thought they would, but the results have been, in my opinion, quite extraordinary. I am very happy with what I have put together for the two lectures, and I think that those who attend will get quite a lot out of them. They aren’t comprehensive, of course, but they will at least give the attendee enough information to be able to kick start their own studies.

Sometimes, the best way to figure out how to present something is to first assume that you know nothing about the subject matter, and then assemble the discussion in order to succinctly define what the topic is and how it can be used. In order to do this, you have to distance yourself from what you know, and then try to explain the problem from a fresh perspective. Detaching and then re-engaging in a completely new way can really help you to assemble a lecture that’s fresh and exciting. It forces you to look at the subject matter with new eyes, and that can really help you come up with a better way to describe the major points of your lecture.

What this operation did for me was to boil down the Qabalah, in terms of its theories and its practical applications, to the absolute essentials. So I think that I will be able to present my information in a manner that makes little or no assumptions, and manages to cover all of the important concepts. In each lecture, I have identified one very important key concept that helps to define the contents of the entire lecture. I am so excited by these key concepts that I wanted to share them with my reading public, since many of you probably won’t be able to attend my lecture in person.

First thing I discovered as I was assembling these two lectures was that the first one, which will be an introduction to the Qabalah, has too much material to be covered in just under 1 hour. So I decided to expand the Intro lecture to be 90 minutes, with a ten minute break after just an hour into it. I then shortened the Practical Qabalah lecture to be around 45 minutes, so both lectures should fit into the combined 150 minute slot. I thought that doing the two lectures in this manner would most efficiently use the time that was allotted.

Here is the Key point for the Introduction to Qabalah Lecture:

Qabalah encapsulates Symbols - these symbols are either religious or occultic, or both. Symbols are not signs. Signs represent something else - they are place holders.

Symbols are conscious markers for deep level psychic processes that are transcendental and transpersonal, and usually mysterious to most people. Focusing on symbols can give one access to deeper layers of meaning and collective significance. Sources of symbols are numinous, archaic and inexplicable. With these concepts in mind, we can say something about the collective symbology of the Qabalah, which contains the symbology of all the religions of the world.

Accessing these symbols is done through meditation, contemplation, path working and various forms of theurgy - Practical Qabalah. Organizing symbols into groups or structures also has an unintended affect.

Tables of correspondences are various arrangements of the living Symbols of the 32 elements of the Tree of Life. To learn everything that one could learn about the Qabalah, accessing the Symbols represents a greater quest than reading and studying a large body of books. The important task is to make the Qabalah come alive for the practitioner.

Correspondingly, here is the key point for the Practical Qabalah lecture:

The First Power of the Practical Qabalah is ANALOGY. The Power of Analogy is able to group, configure and compare various disassociated religious symbology to create a unified field where everything is connected to everything else. Creating connections in this manner causes symbols to become triggered, activating them so that the reveal their importance and meaning.  (In magick, causality is believed to be absolute, therefore, by creating connections, one is working a form of magick.)

The Power of Analogy is the foundation of Qabalistic speculation, and it was used to create new connections and extend the meanings of religious symbology. (‘As if’ approach.)

So as you can see, these two key points dove-tail, and the first key point is repeated from the Intro lecture in the Practical lecture. Also, note that because of the nature of symbols, how the power of analogy really shapes and profoundly impacts one’s study and practice of the Qabalah.

This leads me to a rather humorous story. Years ago, I was experimenting with putting together different variations on the Tree of Life, attempting to see if I could discover a new way of encoding the 32 elements of the Qabalah. I was talking to a friend of mine about what I was doing while we were both visiting the local occult book store, when some old man with a white beard overheard what I was saying. He turned to look at me and gave me one of those disapproving looks, mixed with a certain amount of shock and disbelief. Then he came over and interrupted my conversation, sternly rebuking me while shaking a gnarled finger in my face, saying emphatically that manipulating the Tree of Life was not only very impious, but downright dangerous. I could screw up the whole universe by mucking around as I was supposedly doing. (Who in the hell did I think I was, after all!)

Of course, my friend and I smiled at this rude interruption, and we just nodded to the old codger, as if to acknowledge that we heard him, but offering no comment. He then turned around and stormed away, and we both shook our heads, collectively sighed, and continued with our discussion as if nothing had happened. I can’t remember the guy’s name or even exactly when and where this scene occurred, but I remembered it as being quite silly. “Yeah man, somebody actually believes that changing the Tree of Life will wreck the whole freakin’ universe! Right!)

However, now that I have come up with this very fascinating and even startling perspective on the nature of occult symbols and how they function in the Qabalah, I not only remembered this conversation, but it doesn’t seem so absurd as it did many years ago. If organizing and shaping the structure of the tables of correspondence or formulating a glyph that contains them will have some kind of impact on the one doing it, then that old codger wasn’t really too far off.

Will the world end if I turn the Tree of Life upside down? No, of course not. But it might have some impact on how I see and perceive things within my own magickal and spiritual perspective. The impact is individual and very subtle, but it does exist - the very nature of magick makes it so. So that old guy was right, but perhaps if only he had really explained himself instead of acting like a cranky old fart, maybe I might have learned something then that I only recently discovered now. Then again, maybe he was really as clueless as I had thought he was back then.

How odd is the world, so filled with irony! Yet it often takes advancing age to remember and appreciate it.

Frater Barrabbas

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