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THE CHICKEN QABALAH OF RABBI LAMED BEN CLIFFORD
A Dilettante's Guide to What You Do and Do Not Need to Know to Become a Qabalist
By Lon Milo DuQuette
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2001 Lon Milo DuQuette
All rights reserved.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CHICKEN QABBALAH
Introduced by Lon Milo DuQuette
We are Qazbalists not to prove the Bible is holy—we are Qabalists because everything is holy.
—Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford
Without doubt, the first question people asked Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford concerned his choice of the word "Chicken" to describe his brand of Qabalistic study and practice. It is clear to me, after reviewing scores of letters on this subject, that he delighted in giving a different answer to every individual who asked, "Why do you call it Chicken Qabalah?" Indeed, for this reason, I had altogether given up the idea of including any of them in the "Frequently Asked Questions" chapter. Then, shortly before returning the last draft of the manuscript to my publisher, I received a telephone call from one of the Rabbi's students living in New York City. She was a wealth of information and happily corroborated the following story, which was part of a 1987 letter to a Jamaican disciple.
Why do I call it Chicken Qabalah? Actually, the term "Chicken Qabalah" issued from the mouth of an arrogant and hateful old man who attended my New York City YOU-CAN-FORGET-90-PERCENT-OF-WHAT-YOU-KNOW-ABOUT-THE-QABALAH seminar. After my talk he approached me, so obviously infuriated that he could hardly speak.
He said, "Sir, you speak blaspheme! You are no Kabbalist! You don't even pronounce the word correctly—it is Kahb-bah-' law! Kahb-bah-' law! What you teach is not Kabbalah! It is ... it is ..."
The poor man's face turned bright red and his whole body began to shake as he searched his mind for a word fowl [sic] enough to describe my work.
"It is—it is—Chicken! Chicken Kahb-bah-' law!"
It was instantly obvious to everyone in the room that he was painfully embarrassed at the ill-chosen and infantile words that blurted mindlessly out of his mouth. People started to chuckle. He then became so flustered that he spat upon the floor and said, "You and your teachings merit only spit! Spit!" and then he stormed out of the hall.
As I am vowed to interpret every phenomenon as a direct communication from God to my soul, I recognized this awful slobbering man as an angel of the Lord, sent to reveal to me the name of the spiritual science that would forever cling to my name. That night in meditation I examined his message Qabalistically.
The Hebrew word for phlegm or spittle is [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (KICh), and the word for merit is [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (NE). To my great joy, the phrase "merit spit," [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], enumerates to the number 93, one of the holiest of numbers. Number 93 relates not only to the divine concepts of Love and Will, but also to the great secret Word by which we triumph over death. I then looked down at my notes to discover that the very same letters arranged in the very same order rendered in English characters the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (ChI KEN).
I cannot say that I actually believe the above story. It might have some basis in fact, but, like most of the Rabbi's stories, it is probably pure fiction (or as he would say, "a Holy Whopper"). As we will soon see, however, the lies of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford can contain some very great truths.
The list of questions and answers, below, was not compiled by Ben Clifford. I compiled it with the kind help of his secretary and "magical son," Gizmo Ben Lamed, from nearly 6 years of the Rabbi's personal correspondence with disciples and detractors.
What is Chicken Qabalah?
Chicken Qabalah is the deceptively self-effacing term given to those aspects of the Holy Hebrew Qabalah that are of practical value to practitioners of the Western Hermetic spiritual tradition. While giving the most profound respect to individuals and institutions that teach the rich parochial traditions of speculative Qabalah, Chicken Qabalists, like students of Zen, focus pragmatically on the mind-transcending techniques of the art.
Who are Chicken Qabalists?
Anybody can be a Chicken Qabalist, but at this point in history most are students of Tarot, Psychology, Astrology, Ceremonial Magick, Rosicrucianism, Alchemy, Mystic Freemasonry, or Witchcraft."
Is Chicken Qabalah real Qabalah?
Hell yes! Don't worry about it, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. So-called orthodox Qabalahs are only other people's Chicken Qabalahs that have been around for a long time.
Is there a correct way to spell the word Qabalah?
Hell no! You're a Chicken Qabalist! Don't worry about it. Cabala, Kabbalah, Quabbbalah, Caqubabalalah—They're all wrong! (So they may as well all be correct!) We'll talk about that more when you are a little more familiar with the Hebrew alphabet.
Is it hard to become a Chicken Qabalist?
Hell no! Don't worry about it. But, if you feel you need some external validation, sign this, cut it out and put it in your wallet. No need to send in an application or pay any dues. If the omniscient Deity really exists, It will surely recognize your bold act of spiritual audacity.
There! You're a full-fledged Chicken Qabalist. Now, the first thing you need to learn is that everyone's Qabalah is uniquely their own. Your Qabalah is not my Qabalah or anyone else's. A personal Qabalah is placed in your hands the moment you take up the study. It's alive, and grows upon what you feed it. The more you learn, the more you use. No two students study or work the same.
For example: I know people who have studied most, if not all, of the classic texts. They know their Hebrew backward and forward, and a whole poop-load of the traditional correspondences. They can twist and abuse numbers and letters all night long and send you out the door screaming with their nonstop raving. They can manipulate your address and phone number to prove you're the antichrist, and your real name is Rumplestiltskin. However, all that doesn't necessarily mean they are using that knowledge to do anything other than bore their friends to death. On the other hand, you might be inclined to learn and use only one or two Qabalistic tricks of the trade. That's fine. Used everyday with tenacity and skill, even the most elementary exercises can drive you crazy just as fast as the complex and exotic operations—maybe faster! Don't worry about it!
Do I need to be Jewish?
Hell no! You're a Chicken Qabalist! Don't worry about it. You don't need to be born anything, believe anything, or belong to any religion, cult, order, or political party. You don't need to believe in the Hebrew God, or Moses, or the Great Goddess, or Jesus, or L. Ron Hubbard, or Mohammed, or any other savior, prophet, or salesperson. You don't even need a faithful heart or an open mind. The brain-warping power of Qabalistic thought will soon make all those things irrelevant.
Will I need to learn the Hebrew language?
Hell no! You're a Chicken Qabalist! Don't worry about it. You don't have to learn to speak Hebrew. But you will have to recognize and be able to write the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. You will also have to know the meanings and the numerical values of each Hebrew letter. There is no escaping this part of your education. Eventually, as you study and work with the alphabet, you will become familiar with various Hebrew words that are important to the system.
Soon, if your studies take you in that direction, you will be able to recognize these words in the original Hebrew texts. This skill is very impressive to friends and relatives who always thought you were stupid and unspiritual. Best of all, it will make them feel guilty and have agonizing doubts about their own religious beliefs because they can't read their own scriptures in the original tongue. Go ahead. Rub it in! Being a Chicken Qabalist is fun!
Won't I be intimidated by serious Jewish Qabalists and others who speak Hebrew?
Hell no! You're a Chicken Qabalist! Don't worry about it. The first liberating secret Chicken Qabalists learn is that (as far as the Qabalah is concerned) there is no such thing as correct Hebrew pronunciation! Yep! That's right. No matter how you pronounce the various words in the system, some snob is sure to pop up (especially in public) and correct you. Remember that Hebrew, as a spoken language is relatively young. Sure, there are those who speak Yiddish, or Judezmo, Sephardic, or Ashkenazic, and a score of other regional and ethnic dialects. There are correct ways to pronounce these dialects, but nobody, I repeat, nobody knows for sure what the sacred language of the ancient Hebrews sounded like, or even if it was spoken at all! Pronunciation has less than nothing to do with the study and practical spiritual applications of the Qabalah.
Be proud of the fact that you are informed and honest enough to admit you are not sure how the words are pronounced and, what's more, you don't even care. Such crass indifference is unbearable to those who would dare belittle the work of the Chicken Qabalist. That being said, it's always a good idea to remember:
Rabbi Lamed's Helpful Hint Number 1: Never correct other Qabalists' pronunciation of Hebrew words no matter how silly it sounds. First of all, they might be right. Secondly, your silence will make them think you are a highly intelligent person because you agree with them.
Rabbi Lamed's Helpful Hint Number 2: Better still, just don't talk with other Qabalists.
I hear the Qabalah is based on the Bible. Do I have to believe in the Bible?
Hell no! You're a Chicken Qabalist! Don't worry about it. You don't have to believe in anything. If the Bible leaves a bad taste in your mouth, welcome to the club. But before you throw old King James out the window, I'd like to point out that the Bible is holy—but so are the phonebook, Webster's Dictionary, Robert's Rules of Order and the menu at McDonalds. As you will learn from the Ten Command-Rants, everything is holy and anything is capable of being the vehicle of divine revelation. Key books of the Bible, however, were written by Qabalists for Qabalists and so should be of particular interest to us.
I know, you're probably not thrilled about Bible study. Perhaps like me you've had unpleasant experiences with people who are convinced that the Bible teaches the most ridiculous and monstrous things. Well, now you can tell all those spiritual bullies who tried to terrorize you with the eternal agonies of hell that they can just go there. I'm going to share a little secret with you that only Chicken Qabalists (and a few musicians) have the courage and wit to handle: The people who wrote the Qabalistic books of the Bible never intended for them to be read by the public.
There! I've said it. I feel so much better. Be honest with yourself. Deep in your heart, you've always known it was true, haven't you? How many times have you tried to wade into Genesis or Ezekiel, and finally just gave up and said, "What the hell are these guys talking about?" Don't feel bad. You weren't meant to know what they're talking about—not unless you held vital interpretive keys.
I know that sounds snobby and elitist, but it's the truth. These texts were crafted by mystics possessed of profound understanding of the universe and the mysteries of human existence. At a time when writing was reserved for priests and royalty, they used poetry and parables to express thoughts that everyday language could not accommodate. They assembled the phrases with great art from individual words that conveyed an even deeper level of truth; and finally, each word was made up of unique symbolic letters, each of which revealed yet another story—a story so profound and abstract it could only be told and understood in the pure language of numbers and mathematics.
These sages were full-time holy guys. They wrote this stuff for other full-time holy guys, and the tiny segment of every generation who would be equipped with the intelligence, the spiritual drive (and leisure time) necessary to embark upon a lifelong quest for enlightenment. I assure you, these ancient mystics would have produced a radically different body of work had they in their wildest nightmares imagined that in some future dark age their secret coded scriptures would be seized by half-witted and sadistic European cannibals and interpreted literally, like some grotesque and racist history book.
Will the study of the Qabalah make me a better person?
No! You'll have to do that yourself.
THE TEN COMMAND-RANTS
Introduced by Lon Milo DuQuette
Don't worry if none of this makes any sense to you right now. It is enough to remember that Realization of One is the second-to-last goal of all Qabalists. The final goal is to attain the consciousness of Nothing.
—Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford
Rabbi Ben Clifford claimed that in the winter of 1989 he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he climbed Mount Sinai to, as he put it, "touch base and get further clarification" on several matters pertaining to scripture. On the summit, the Supreme Deity allegedly appeared to him in the form of a rotating tongue sandwich that lectured Ben Clifford for about six minutes. To quote the Rabbi:
The Lord's lustrous lingua lashed from the luminous laser-like lights that licked the length of the lush and lonely landscape. Later, I laughed like a lunatic as I lay lifelessly limp and lingered upon the lilt of the last littlest letter of the Laws and the laudable lessons I so lately learned.
Of course this story is a complete fabrication. To my knowledge, Ben Clifford never visited Israel, and in 1989 would have been physically unfit to climb any mountain. In fact, I have spoken to several of his early students, who informed me that in the winter of 1989 the Rabbi was hospitalized in New York City after suffering an emotional breakdown on the observation deck of the Empire State Building after becoming violently ill at the Carnegie Deli.
Be that as it may, the fact remains that in late 1989 Ben Clifford did indeed publish a short treatise on the nature of the creation and the underlying theory of Qabalistic study. These "Ten Command-Rants," as he called them, are a work of unquestioned genius. They are perhaps the most concise description of the nature of reality ever penned, reducing complex and inscrutable concepts to their essence. Their publication in the prestigious Qabalah magazine, Gomer, resulted in Rabbi Ben Clifford's overnight transformation from crazy-old-burned-out lunatic to crazy-old-burned-out-lunatic holy man.
I consider his subsequent commentaries on the Ten Command-Rants the best introduction to the Qabalah ever written. They continue to be, for me, a perpetual reminder of why I am on the great Qabalistic adventure. I strongly advise the student to refer to them often throughout the years of his or her mystical career.
The Ten Command-Rants
Commentaries on The Ten Command-Rants
First Command-Rant All is One.
This statement is hardly a veil-rending revelation to anyone who has dabbled even slightly with abstract thought. It's easy to imagine everything in the universe lumped together into one big something beyond which there is nothing. But it's the concept of nothing that sends our primate minds into a tailspin. Now, the very young Chicken Qabalist might be tempted to think of this divine nothingness as kind of a negative "enO" from which the "One" somehow popped into being as if from behind a mysterious looking-glass. But, as the Second Command-Rant will demonstrate, "nothing" is "something else" altogether.
Second Command-Rant The First Command-Rant is a lie. All is Nothing.
Astronomers and physicists tell us there is more nothing in the universe than anything else. In fact, they now say that most of the matter and energy in the cosmos (well over 90 percent) is somehow hiding in all this nothingness. Come to think about it, even matter that we can see is really mostly nothing. There is infinitely more nothing in an atom than protons and electrons. There is more nothing in our bodies than anything else. We are full of tubes and pockets and sacs and bladders and cavities and chambers and openings and voids. Every cell in your body is mostly nothing. When a cell starts to divide to produce more cells, it first folds in on itself to create more precious nothing to work with. Even your brain grew out of the nothingness of this embryonic internal disappearing act.
Excerpted from THE CHICKEN QABALAH OF RABBI LAMED BEN CLIFFORD by Lon Milo DuQuette. Copyright © 2001 Lon Milo DuQuette. 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.
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Table of Contents
List of Figures
Foreword—My Life with the Rabbi, by Rodney Orpheus
Chapter 0. Who Was Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford?
Chapter 1. Frequently Asked Questions About Chicken Qabalah
Chapter 2. The Ten Command-Rants
Chapter 3. The Sepher Yetzirah
Chapter 4. The Hebrew Alphabet
Chapter 5. The Ineffable Name of God and the Ark of the Covenant
Chapter 6. The Four Qabalistic Worlds and the Four Parts of the Soul
Chapter 7. The Tree of Life
Chapter 8. Qabalistic Magick and the Tree of Life
Chapter 9. The Chicken Tarot and the Holy Guardian Angel
Chapter 10. Last Lecture—Games Qabalists Play
Epilogue: Shem-ha-Mephorash—The Rabbi's Last 72 Words
About the Author