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Magic & Kabbalah

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.consciousness.mysticism,talk.religion.misc
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Re: Magic & Kabbalah (was: Re: Hermetic QBL (Supported) (was Parpola Discovered! ....)
Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2001 04:45:15 GMT

Gnome d Plume wrote:
>  catherine yronwode  wrote:
> >Gnome d Plume wrote:
> >>
> >> catherine yronwode  wrote:
> >>
> >> >Gnome d Plume wrote:
> >> >>
> >> >> the Jewish kabbalah [...] is not used for
> >> >> magical purposes
> >> >
> >> >Please support this statemnt. It certainly goes against 
> >> >what i  have read.
> No one is disputing that the ancient and medieval Jews had a 
> magical tradition-- (see Joshua Trachtenberg, *Jewish Magic and 
> Superstition*, the major work on the subject...) And I'm not 
> disputing that Jewish magic(k) drew on kabbalah! The *Sepher 
> Yetzirah* was a handbook for Golem making. 

Whoa, this conflict of terminology is getting down to semantics or
sloppy language use or both. You first wrote: 

> >> >> the Jewish kabbalah [...] is not used for
> >> >> magical purposes

and then you wrote:

> The *Sepher Yetzirah* was a handbook for 
> Golem making. 

I dispute the first statement. I agree with the second. I also agree
with Re's post that the "Zohar" is a kabbalistic text that is not
especially magically inclined. But there are LOTS of kabbalistic texts,
and, of course, the kabbalah is also an oral tradition as well, so not
all of it will ever be found in books. 

Now, for the non-Jews who may have difficulty following the ins and out
of this "is the kabbalah magical?" discussion, i'd like to explain that
the "Sepher Yetzirah" is a kabbalistic text and that a Golem is an
animated entity made of clay which is broguht to life and directed to
undertake tasks for its maker by virtue of a word incscribed upon its
forehead. And that's magic, folks, pure and simple. The most famous
Golem was the one created by Rabbi Yehudah Loevy ben Bezalel (a.k.a.
Rabbi Loew) of Prague. Loew was a contemporary of the English magician
John Dee. 

Here is some relevant material about Loew and his Golem, archived from
the Alchemy Forum at (a great occult resource on the web) in
which a couple of alchemists are discussing the kabbalistical and the
magical nature of the Golem -- and particularly whether it is a literal
entity or -- much in keeping with Poke's views of Solomon's demons --
whether it is a production of the unconscious mind. We join out
correspondents in mid-1995:


~From: Jeffrey Smith

About the Golem:

There is nothing directly alchemical about the Golem. The
"Maharal", Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague, was a notable rabbi
and Kabbalist whom legend credited with creation of a Golem
for the sake of defending the Jews of Prague against a blood
libel and pogrom. I forget the dates; it may have been
during the time of Rudolf, but I am not sure. One version of
the legend states that the Golem, once deactivated, was
placed in the attic of the "Altneuschul", the principal
synagogue of Prague. This, to the best of my memory (which
is not working too well this morning), survived the Nazis,
and can be visited today. The means of creating a Golem come
out of the Sefer Yetzirah school, and traditions about them
reach back to Talmudic times and possibly earlier. The
principal methods involve combinational meditation of the
Hebrew alphabet and magical use of the Name of God. The
Golem of Prague is merely the most recent, and famous
because it attracted the attention of several writers and
film makers in the early part of this century.

Tachat haRachamim. Jeffrey Smith


~From: (Robin E. Cousins)

On 19.7.95 Jeffrey Smith wrote: 'There is nothing directly
alchemical about the Golem'

The creation of a Golem is a process comparable to alchemy.
It is likewise a spiritual quest. The creation of the Golem
was (is) a mystical experience, a ritual representing the
creation of Adam Kadmon, the principal man.

The instructions (the most precise were by Eleazar of Worms
(1160-1230)) leave no space for the Golem to exist in the
physical world, but using the alphabetic combinations with
the IHVH (231 permutations, but 462 in all to create from
and return to dust) would no doubt induce a change of
consciousness. There is a strict order, which would result
in a very formal recitation, both magical and meditative.

It is possible that the mystical experience could be a
vision of the Golem in the form of the operator's
doppelg‰nger - a reflection and hence a lower form of
him/herself. The double would allow the magician to perceive
and so discover the evil forces within himself; exorcise
them; and evolve further along the road to redemption. It is
a kind of self-purification process. The magician, as the
creator, is in the superior position - the doppelg‰nger is
now the Lower Self, which can be redeemed by accepting
faults, absorbing them, and correcting the imbalance. With
self-examination it could be said that one's own Golem is
created and confronted.

The spiritual path towards the higher initiation of the Soul
will take the seeker through various initiations, resulting
in the purification of the self and knowledge of the True
Self or Holy Guardian Angel - and from there to the Higher
Planes. Each stage will have its Golem. Even with elementary
rituals, such as a Middle Pillar exercise, or say a
sephirothic meditation, a Golem is created and redeemed. The
purification process has commenced and a step taken, however
small, towards the union with the spirit, where the Golem is
no more.

No wonder more than one lifetime is necessary!

On a wider scale the Golem is said to be the symbol of the
collective soul of the Jewish people, whose progress
supposedly reflects the state of humanity. In this respect
the Golem can be seen as a reflection of the whole of
humanity. It becomes the embodiment of the current condition
of the world. It embraces the individual, communities,
nations, nature, and the whole ecology of the planet. The
Golem stands before humanity, its creator, asking for
redemption. This vision of the world should present to
mankind the good, the evil, and the means by which the world
can be improved or released from its present state.

If only.

Incidentally, if one wants to believe in Rabbi Loew's Golem,
the fact that somebody crawled into the attic of the
Staronov· Skola and saw nothing (according to one guidebook)
should not be a disappointment. There was an exhibition
organised by the Goethe Institute the other year devoted to
old manuscripts and prayer books culled from the lofts of
synagogues in Germany and legend says that the Golem was
hidden under such a heap. Judging from the photos, most of
the mss had rotted over the centuries to dust and debris
often knee-deep, so the Golem would just become
indistinguishable from the muck, which was probably swept
away during some officious bout of spring-cleaning. Rabbi
Loew died in 1609, so he was concurrent with Rudolf and Dee.

Robin C.


~From: Jeffrey Smith

Robin has spoken some good thoughts about the concept of the
Golem. One of the motifs that has not been touched on in
this thread, which is of some importance in the tradition,
is the Golem's inability to speak. The faculty of speech
(and by extension, reason, free will, and consciousness) is
the gift of God to humanity. Says Scripture: "Your eyes saw
my unshaped flesh" (Tehillim 139), in which the last phrase
translates the Hebrew word GoLeMI, to describe the process
of God creating man (whether the text is applicable to every
individual, or, as per the traditional view, quotes the
words of Adam to God.) We ourselves are golemim and
golemahot until God comes along and makes us fully human,
making us living souls by breathing in the "breath of life."

For those really interested in the matter, Moshe Idel wrote
a book covering the entire tradition, entitled quite
reasonably "Golem". I have yet to read it, but he is a
reliable and perceptive writer who is not always in tune
with the standard academic party line.

Tachat haRachamim. Jeffrey Smith


Next, here is some recommended reading for those with a further
interest: The Golem of Prague by Gershon Winkler. 6" x 9", 356 pages,
softcover,  ISBN 0-910818-25-8, $16.95 For sale at, from
which i also draw this brief review: 
      The Golem of Prague -- By Gershon Winkler 
      Experience one of the most startling 
      and controversial metaphysical Jewish 
      events of all time: the creation 
      of a golem, a man crafted out of
      clay by the exalted Rabbi Yehudah 
      Loevy ben Bezalel (the Maharal) of
      Prague to protect sixteenth-century 
      Jews from persecution.

      Intriguing and fascinating... 

      The author skillfully captures the
      essence of the golem and examines
      its aftermath objectively. Features
      a dramatized adaptation of the
      documented adventures of the
      golem and includes a comprehensive 
      overview of Jewish mysticism, 
      black magic, demonology, miracles 
      and science, plus a summary of other
      golems in Jewish history. Read it for 
      pleasure as well as perspective. 

      In the spring of the 1580, the
      great Rabbi of Prague,
      Yehudah Loevy ben Bezalel
      (1513-1609) created in men
      out of clay (a golem) to
      protect the Jews from
      persecution. For four
      centuries, the mystique of the
      Golem of Prague has
      tantalized the curiosity of
      scholars and laymen alike,
      both Jewish and Christian.
      Finally, the Golem has been
      skillfully captured within the
      dramatic confines of a
      definitive and enlightening
      This book promises to become a
      milestone in the clearer
      understanding of the traditional
      Jewish perspective of the occult
      and the supernatural.


So, to put this to rest, i hope, the kabbalah is in part definitely a
magical path and a RABBINICAL magical path at that, and the pmagical
portion of it is, in my opinion, not "minor" by any means. 

cat yronwode 

Hoodoo in Theory and Practice --

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