Read an Excerpt
THE QABALAH WORKBOOK FOR MAGICIANS
A Guide to the Sephiroth
By Anita Kraft
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2013 Anita Kraft
All rights reserved.
THE SUPERNAL TRIAD
The first three Sephiroth are called the Supernals. They exist above the abyss. They exist as a unity and are not to be thought of individually. We live in a world that understands and functions with ideas like right and wrong, left and right, up and down, black and white. The Supernals exist beyond these concepts. They are always in union; consequently, in Jewish Qalabah, to work Chokmah and Binah individually is to sin. There is no division here. The Supernals transcend all concepts of opposites or difference. In Magick in Theory and Practice (Book IV, Part III) Crowley continues his basic outline of the Qabalistic universe. Beginning with the Supernal Triad he states:
THE MAGICAL THEORY OF THE UNIVERSE
There are three main theories of the universe; Dualism, Monism, and Nihilism. It is impossible to enter into a discussion of their relative merits in a popular manual of this sort. They may be studied in Erdmann's History of Philosophy and similar treatises. All are reconciled and unified in the theory which we shall now set forth ...
Infinite space is called the goddess NUIT, while the infinitely small and atomic yet omnipresent point is called HADIT.... These are unmanifest. One conjunction of these infinites is called RA-HOOR-KHUIT, more correctly, HERU-RA-HA, to include HOORPAAR-KRAAT, a unity which includes and heads all things....
Unity transcends consciousness. It is above all division. The Father of thought—the Word—is called Chaos—the dyad. The number Three, the Mother, is called Babalon.... This first triad is essentially unity, in a manner transcending reason. The comprehension of this Trinity is a matter of spiritual experience. All true gods are attributed to this Trinity.
The names of the Sephiroth come from the Sefer ha-Bahir, and are taken from the Torah. The Supernals—Kether, Chokmah, and Binah—are from Exodus 31: 3:
Then the Lord said to Moses, "See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God [Kether], with wisdom,[Chokmah] with understanding, [Binah] with knowledge [Daath] and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts."
Each Sephirah in the Supernal Triad is unique. They have their own attributions, words, entities, and meanings. We will study them separately, but will work Chokmah and Binah together.
ASTROLOGY, TAROT, AND THE SUPERNAL TRIAD
The zodiac can be organized into a number of groupings. The two we will use are elements and triplicities. Each sign is associated with an element and a triplicity. The triplicities are the Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable signs; the elements are Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Each Minor Arcana Tarot card is associated with a zodiacal sign. Bear with me, this is not as complicated as it first may seem.
The zodiac is a wheel that has 360 degrees broken into twelve signs of 30 degrees each. So Aries has 30 degrees of the wheel, Taurus has 30 degrees, and so on. Each degree represents roughly one day (the year having 365 rather than 360 days means that it's not a perfect representation).
Kether—the first Sephirah on the Tree of Life—represents the elements in their purest form. Kether exists before the zodiac and is not represented in the zodiacal wheel. Kether contains the elements before they explode into creation, compact and intense. It is represented by the Aces of the Tarot.
The Cardinal signs are in the second and third Sephiroth of the Supernal Triad, Chokmah and Binah, and in the fourth Sephirah, Chesed (see figure 5). The Cardinal signs represent the cardinal points of a compass—east, north, west, and south—and/or the cycle of a year—spring, summer, fall, and winter—and/or the cycle of a day—sunrise, midnight, sunset, and noon (see table 2 on page 46). Cardinal signs are the initial explosion of the element; they are the element at its moment of creation—their own "Big Bang," as it were. They are Aries/Fire, Cancer/Water, Libra/Air, and Capricorn/Earth.
Each of the Minor Arcana cards, numbers Two through Ten, represents 10 degrees of a zodiacal sign. The Twos, Threes, and Fours are the Cardinal signs. For example, the Two of Wands represents Aries degrees 1 through 10; the Three of Wands is Aries degrees 11 through 20; the Four of Wands is Aries degrees 21 through 30.
The Cardinal signs and associations are:
Within the Supernal Triad, we have the initial elements and the first explosion or initiation of the elements in Chokmah and Binah. Understanding the Cardinal signs and the Minor Arcana cards will help develop your insight into each Sephirah.
The Sephirah of Kether is the first emanation on the Tree of Life. Kether means crown. This is exemplified by the crowns in the 4 Aces of the Tarot. As Crowley states in 777, Kether is primarily the individual point of view. It is the "I AM" moment. As Malkuth is the culmination of all things above it, Kether is the beginning of all things below it.
ACQUIRE AND FURNISH YOUR ALTAR
Zodiacal and Planetary Representation and the Tarot Cards
Kether is represented by the Sphere of the Primum Mobile, which is considered all of reality or the first cause that is the moment just before the Big Bang. It is the point that puts everything in motion. Crowley represented Kether as the god Ra-Hoor-Khuit.
What do you think is a good representation of all of reality, or the point that becomes the Big Bang?
Place the 4 Aces on your altar.
The perfume of Kether is ambergris. Basically, ambergris is sperm-whale vomit. It was used as a fixative in perfumes because it helps other fragrances hold their scents. Once ambergris dries, ages, and is heated, it takes on an earthy scent. It was believed to have been used by Cleopatra to lure Marc Anthony, and by the wife of Alexander the Great to remind him of what he had waiting at home. It shows up in many other stories and mythologies as well.
Ambergris is known as "sailor's gold." It's very expensive. Recently, a woman in South Africa found a chunk on the beach and it brought her $300,000. Because ambergris is so costly, it is usually replaced in perfumery with a synthetic version. Ambergris is used today in lots of perfumes, including ones by Michael Kors and Dolce & Gabbana. I can't confirm whether they use synthetic or raw ambergris. The perfume Eau de Merveilles by the French firm Hermès. Claims to use raw ambergris.
Ambergris is associated with Kether because it is also associated with the divinity of kings and queens and is recognized for its power over men. As a fixative, its power comes in unifying many scents into one scent.
What additional information did you discover?
Why do you think ambergris is the perfume of Kether?
In my opinion, the swastika as a symbol, even when drawn correctly, has been successfully co-opted by the Nazis. If you can use the symbol without images of Hitler entering your mind, then go ahead. Otherwise, I suggest using a different weapon.
The crown is the weapon of royalty. It is the representation of "supreme deity which the magician assumes." In Magick (Book IV, Part II, Chapter XI), Crowley tells us:
The Crown of the Magician represents the Attainment of his Work. It is a band of pure gold, on the front of which stand three pentagrams, and on the back a hexagram. The central pentagram contains a diamond or a great opal; the other three symbols contain the Tau. Around this Crown is twined the golden Uraeus serpent, with erect head and expanded hood. Under the Crown is a crimson cap of maintenance, which falls to the shoulders.
Crowley also gives a great description of a crown in the Gnostic Mass:
The crown may be of gold or platinum, or of electrum magicum; but with no other metals, save the small proportions necessary to a proper alloy. It may be adorned with divers jewels, at will. But it must have the Uraeus serpent twined about it, and the cap of maintenance must match the scarlet of the Robe. Its texture should be velvet.
Procure your crown. This can be an ongoing process. Most people can't afford a gold crown right away. Journal about your crown.
The lamp is listed as one of the magical weapons of Kether; however, the lamp itself is not the weapon. The weapon is rather the light that comes from the lamp; it represents the light descending. Your lamp can be an oil lamp or an electric one.
What type of lamp did you choose and why?
The diamond is the stone of Kether. It is pure compressed carbon and, as Crowley points out, the base element for all life. Get a diamond for your altar—preferably a cut diamond, not a raw one. It can be a chip and doesn't have to be set in any jewelry. Borrow one if you have to, but get a real diamond, not a cubic zirconia.
Research how natural diamonds are made. Journal!
Why is the diamond the gemstone of Kether?
Clothing and Apparel
Unlike the other Sephiroth (which you'll find out soon enough), Kether workings are ideally performed in the nude, with the exception of a crown. Start out with nothing on your body that you were not born with—at least to the extent possible. You may consider covering tattoos with some masking makeup, taking off jewelry, and viewing your body in its simplest form.
Animals, Real or Imaginary
Thelemites may find that a hawk is more memorable and significant on the altar. You can also place a mirror on your altar to look into and see the face of God, your true divinity.
Research the hawk and the swan. Journal any information that you perceive is relevant to Kether.
Plants, Real or Imaginary
The banyan tree is a fig tree and is perfect for Kether. The tree starts as a seed up in a host tree and grows down until its roots grow into the ground. It thus gives the appearance of multiple trunks, but in fact it is one tree. You can find a lot of great information on the banyan tree in the Bhagavad Gita. In Hinduism, it is considered a sin to destroy a banyan tree, and it is also considered commendable to plant a new one, as well as a bodhi tree.
If you can find a banyan tree, either in the wild or at an arboretum, spend some time meditating under its branches. If you can't, look up images of the banyan.
The almond in flower is a little more straightforward. The Staff of Aaron, the staff that Moses used in Egypt to bring down the ten plagues, was made from an almond branch in flower. It was later passed on to Joshua and finally placed in the Ark of the Covenant with the plate of manna and the stone tablets of Moses. When the people were good, the staff produced edible sweet almonds. When they sinned, it produced poisonous bitter almonds. Almond flowers are also used to represent the virgin birth of Jesus and as a symbol of Mary. The almond in the United States is grown primarily in California, but it is easy to grow.
Research both banyan and almond trees, as well as almond flowers. Journal anything that adds to your understanding of these two trees and Kether.
STUDY YOUR ALTAR
Once your Sephirotic altar is complete and ready for use, set aside time every day and perform the following exercises (at least once a day, but the more time you can spare the better). At this point, the exact time you choose is up to you.
The goal of these exercises is to help you learn each Sephirah and to understand its correspondences. This will aid you not only in each of the remaining exercises, but also throughout your Qabalistic workings.
Light or turn on the lamp. Focus on the light that the lamp brings into the room. Observe the intensity of the light as it moves farther away from its source. Note how it fades, creates shadows. Note the places in the room, even around the altar, where the light doesn't reach.
While this may seem simple, the point is to understand that the light of Kether fades as it descends. And even in its descent, things are not always as they seem. Divine light is blocked and changed by the things it encounters. While the light shines brightly, it causes areas of equally intense darkness when it encounters anything.
Light your incense. Close your eyes and breathe in the aroma. Let the scent take you to your altar.
Study the Kether altar intently.
Move things around on the altar to facilitate other connections between items on the altar.
Allow the word Kether (Crown) to repeat itself in your mind.
Pick up the items on your altar and understand them. Remind yourself why each item is on the Kether altar.
If you chose a god or a goddess to place on your altar, journal why this deity is appropriate to Kether. What about the deity connects you to Kether?
Look at each item and journal why you think each one is appropriate on the Kether altar.
Sometimes, the correspondences do not necessarily correlate to each other. Are there items on the altar that do not seem to relate to each other, even though they relate to Kether?
KETHER, THE ZODIAC, AND THE TAROT
Study each of the Ace cards individually, in the following order: Wands (Fire), Cups (Water), Swords (Air), and Disks (Earth).
Spend time contemplating each one and how it is related to Kether.
What is the divinatory meaning of each card and how does Kether influence this meaning?
As you go through the exercises, you can and should develop your own understanding and meaning of each card based on your insights. How does your understanding of Kether change your personal understanding of the cards?
If you are doing the exercises for Kether for an entire month, consider focusing on one Tarot card each week.
KETHER—CROWN ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])
The divine name for Kether is [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Eheieh), which means "I am" in Hebrew. When Moses asked God by what name he should refer to Him, God responded [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].
Now Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
Take time every day to be nude in front of a mirror large enough to see your entire body. This is the time to reflect on the concept of existence.
As you look at your body, say [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]—"I am." Your mind will naturally want to add words after this statement—I am woman; I am man; I am teacher, lawyer, boyfriend, wife, etc. Try to get your mind to just the I am. Just be in the moment. Journal all of the words that come after the "I am" initially.
Write your own description of Kether. Let your thoughts and feelings flow. Do not worry about whether you are right or wrong; just write what comes to you and what seems Kether-like to you.
Now that you have developed a better understanding of Kether, let's move beyond 777 to create your own correspondences. There are two senses not addressed by 777. One is taste; the other is sound.
Choose a food based on your understanding of Kether. A food that is essential to every other recipe—salt—is what I use. I can't think of any other food or spice or condiment that is in every item we eat and drink in some form or another and that is essential to life at a basic level.
Choose a song or type of music. You may select songs from different genres (classical, rock, etc.) and have multiple columns, as in the god and goddess columns in Appendix B.
Continue this with other categories—occupations, drinks, movies, etc. (The Wizard of Oz is a particularly interesting and entertaining movie for this purpose). Add these categories to your own 777 chart in Appendix B and use these same categories throughout the Sephiroth.
Excerpted from THE QABALAH WORKBOOK FOR MAGICIANS by Anita Kraft. Copyright © 2013 Anita Kraft. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.