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The Alt.Magick Kabbalah FAQ

Version: 2.4 
Release Date: Jan 13th. 1995 

This Kabbalah FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) was prepared for the 
Usenet/Internet newsgroup "alt.magick". It is intended to provide a 
brief introduction to Kabbalah, and pointers to additional sources of 

This FAQ may be freely copied as long as this header is retained. The 
contents are copyright and may not be abridged or modified without the 
written permission of the author. Printed copies may be made for 
personal use.

Where third-party contributions are included they are clearly marked 
and are copyright of the authors.

Copyright Colin Low 1993 (INET: ) 

The author would appreciate feedback on the accuracy of the material, 
modulo variations in the Anglicised spellings of Hebrew words.


Section 1: General

Q1.1 : What is Kabbalah
Q1.2 : What does the word "Kabbalah" mean, and how should I spell it?
Q1.3 : What is the "Tradition"?
Q1.4 : How old is Kabbalah?
Q1.5 : Do I need to be Jewish to study Kabbalah?
Q1.6 : Is there an obstacle to a woman studying Kabbalah?
Q1.7 : I've heard that one shouldn't study Kabbalah unless one is 
over forty years old? Is this true?
Q1.8 : Do I need to learn Hebrew to study Kabbalah?
Q1.9 : Is non-Judaic Kabbalah really Kabbalah?
Q1.10 : How can I find someone who teaches Kabbalah?

Section 2: Specifics

Q2.1 : What is the Great Work?
Q2.2 : I want to know more about the Archangels.
Q2.3 : What is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and where 
does it come from?
Q2.4 : What are the Qlippoth
Q2.5 : Why is Gevurah feminine?

Section 3: A Potted History of Kabbalah

Section 4: Reading List

Section 5: Information on the Internet

Section 1: GENERAL

Q1.1 : What is Kabbalah? 

Kabbalah is an aspect of Jewish mysticism. It consists of a large
body of speculation on the nature of divinity, the creation, the
origin and fate of the soul, and the role of human beings. It
consists also of meditative, devotional, mystical and magical
practices which were taught only to a select few and for this reason
Kabbalah is regarded as an esoteric offshoot of Judaism.

Some aspects of Kabbalah has been studied and used by non-Jews for
several hundred years. 


Q1.2 : What does the word "Kabbalah" mean, and how should I spell it?
The word "Kabbalah" is derived from the root "to receive, to accept",
and in many cases is used synonymously with "tradition". 

No-one with the slightest interest in Kabbalah can fail to notice that 
there are many alternative spellings of the word, the two most common 
being Kabbalah and Qabalah. Cabala, Qaballah, Qabala, Kaballah (and 
so on) are also seen. The reason for this is that some letters in the 
Hebrew alphabet have more than one representation in the English 
alphabet, and the same Hebrew letter can be written either as K or Q 
(or sometimes even C). Some authors choose one spelling, and some 
choose the other. Some (the author for example) will even mix Q and K 
in the same document, spelling Kabbalah and Qlippoth (as opposed to 
Qabalah and Klippoth!). A random selection of modern Hebrew phrase 
books and dictionaries use the K variant to represent the letter Kuf, 
so anyone who claims that the "correct" spelling is "Qabalah" is on 
uncertain ground.

There has been a tendency for non-Jewish books on Kabbalah published
this century to use the spelling "Qabalah". Jewish publications are
relatively uniform in preferring the spelling "Kabbalah".

The author takes the view (based on experience) that the spelling 
"Kabbalah" is recognised by a wider selection of people than the 
"Qabalah" variant, and for this purely pragmatic reason it is used 
throughout the FAQ. 

Q1.3 : What is the "Tradition"?
According to Jewish tradition, the Torah (Torah - "Law" - the first 
five books of the Old Testament) was created prior to the world and 
she advised God on such weighty matters as the creation of human kind. 
When Moses received the written law from God, tradition has it that he 
also received the oral law, which was not written down, but passed 
from generation to generation. At times the oral law has been referred 
to as "Kabbalah" - the oral tradition. 

The Torah was (and is) believed to be divine, and in the same way as
the Torah was accompanied by an oral tradition, so there grew up a
secret oral tradition which claimed to possess an initiated
understanding of the Torah, its hidden meanings, and the divine power
concealed within it. This is a principle root of the Kabbalistic
tradition, a belief in the divinity of the Torah, and a belief that by
studying this text one can unlock the secrets of the creation.

Another aspect of Jewish religion which influenced Kabbalah was the
Biblical phenomenon of prophecy. The prophet was an individual chosen
by God as a mouthpiece, and there was the implication that God, far
from being a transcedental abstraction, was a being whom one could
approach (albeit with enormous difficulty, risk, fear and trembling).
Some Kabbalists believed that they were the inheritors of practical
techniques handed down from the time of the Biblical prophets, and it
is not impossible or improbable that this was in fact the case.

These two threads, one derived from the study of the Torah, the other 
derived from practical attempts to approach God, form the roots from 
which the Kabbalistic tradition developed.

Q1.4 : How old is Kabbalah? 

No-one knows. 

The earliest documents which are generally acknowledged as being
Kabbalistic come from the 1st. Century C.E., but there is a suspicion
that the Biblical phenomenon of prophecy may have been grounded in a
much older oral tradition which was a precursor to the earliest
recognisable forms of Kabbalah. Some believe the tradition goes back
as far as Melchizedek. There are moderately plausible arguments that
Pythagoras received his learning from Hebrew sources. There is a
substantial literature of Jewish mysticism dating from the period
100AD - 1000AD which is not strictly Kabbalistic in the modern sense,
but which was available as source material to medieval Kabbalists.

On the basis of a detailed examination of texts, and a study of the
development of a specialist vocabulary and a distinct body of ideas,
Scholem has concluded that the origins of Kabbalah can be traced to
12th. century Provence. The origin of the word "Kabbalah" as a label
for a tradition which is definitely recognisable as Kabbalah is
attributed to Isaac the Blind (c. 1160-1236 C.E.), who is also
credited with being the originator of the idea of sephirothic

Prior to this (and after) a wide variety of terms were used for those 
who studied the tradition: "masters of mystery", "men of belief", 
"masters of knowledge", "those who know", "those who know grace", 
"children of faith", "children of the king's palace", "those who know 
wisdom", "those who reap the field", "those who have entered and 

Q1.5 Do I need to be Jewish to study Kabbalah?

The Law of Gravitation was formulated by Isaac Newton, who was 
English. You do not need to be English to fall on your face. You do 
not need to be English to study the physics of gravitation.

However, if you choose to study Kabbalah by name you should recognise 
that Kabbalah was and is a part of Judaism, and an important part of 
the history of Jewish people, and respect the beliefs which not only 
gave rise to Kabbalah, but which are still an essential part of Jewish 

It must also be said that there are many aspects of Kabbalah which
would be meaningless if lifted out of the context of Judaism.

Q1.6 : Is there an Obstacle to a Woman studying Kabbalah?
Within Judaism the answer is a resounding "Yes!": there are many 
obstacles. Perle Epstein relates some of her feelings on the subject 
in her book on Kabbalah (see the Reading List below).

The obstacles are largely grounded in traditional attitudes: it is
less easy for a woman to find a Rabbi prepared to teach Kabbalah than
it would be for a man. Persistence may reward (see below).

Outside of Judaism the answer is a resounding "No!": there are no 
obstacles. For the past one hundred years women have been active both 
in studying and in teaching Kabbalah.

Q1.7 : I've heard that one shouldn't study Kabbalah unless one is over 
forty years old? Is this true?

The great Kabbalist R. Isaac Luria (1534-1572), began the study of
Kabbalah at the age of seventeen and died at the age of thirty-eight!
His equally famous contemporary R. Moses Cordovero (1522-1570) began
at the age of twenty. Many other famous Kabbalists also began the
study early.

This prohibition has come from Ashkenazic (East European) Jews and has
never applied to Sepharidic (Middle Eastern) Jews.

The historical basis for the "rule" comes from opponents of Kabbalah
within Judaism who (successfully) attempted to restrict its study. At
the root of this was the heresy of false messiah Shabbatai Tzevi
(17th. C) which resulted in large numbers of Jews leaving the
orthodox fold. This heresy had deep Kabbalistic underpinnings, and in
the attempt to stamp out Shabbateanism, Kabbalah itself became
suspect, and specific prohibitions against the study of Kabbalah were
enacted (e.g. the excommunication of the Frankists in Poland in

A further factor was the degeneration (in the eyes of their
rationalist opponents) of 18th. century Hasidism, which had roots
both in Kabbalah and Shabbateanism, into "wonder working" and
superstition. The rationalist faction in Judaism triumphed, and the
study of Kabbalah became largely discredited, to the extent that many
Jewish publications written this century discuss Kabbalah (if at all)
in a very negative way.

Greg Burton has supplied this (mildly amusing) post from America
OnLine, from a Rabbi Ariel Bar-Zadok:

" One thing I assure you, I am not a "new ager", nor am I sympathetic
to anything that is not pure, authoritative Kabbalah. Remember,
Kabbalah means "to receive". I am an Orthodox Sephardic Rabbi,
ordained in Jerusalem. I teach only from the true texts, many of
which most Rabbis for whatever reasons have never read. I document
all my sources so as to verify to you that these teachings are
authentic. (I must also admit that I have studied other religious and
meditative systems, in this way I feel comfortable and confident to
discuss them). My classes are open to all, Jew and Benei Noah alike,
men and women, (in accordance to Tana D'vei Eliyahu, Eliyahu Raba,
Chapter 9). By the way, according to the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabi
Ovadiah Yosef (Yehaveh Da'at 4,47) quoting Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, one
only has to be 20 years old to study Kabbala, and not 40. THIS IS THE

This still leaves R.Isaac Luria looking embarrassed, but R. Moses
Cordevero scrapes in under the bar ;-)


Q1.8 : Do I need to learn Hebrew to study Kabbalah?

Do you need to learn French in order to visit France? Should you
learn French if you intend to visit France regularly? These are
questions you need to answer for yourself. The author of this FAQ
visits France regularly and does a lot of pointing and grunting - it
all comes down to deciding whether asking for food in colloquial
French is more important than simply getting the food and eating it.
The author takes the latter view; the realities of mysticism and magic
can be pointed at, and the accompanying grunts can be found in many
traditions and many different languages. There are many practical
exercises and ritual techniques which can be employed with only a
minimal knowledge of Hebrew.

However .... there is no question that a knowledge of Hebrew can make
a very large difference. Non-Jewish texts on Kabbalah abound in
simple mistakes which are due largely to uninformed copying.
Thousands of important Kabbalistic texts have not been translated out
of Hebrew or Aramaic, and the number of important source texts in
translation is small. The difficulties in trying to read the archaic
and technically complex literature of Kabbalah should not be
discounted, but it is well worthwhile to acquire even a superficial
knowledge of Hebrew. Four useful books are:

Levy, Harold, "Hebrew for All", Valentine, Mitchell 1976
Harrison R.K. "Teach yourself Biblical Hebrew", NTC Publishing Group 1993 
Kelley, P.H., "Biblical Hebrew, an introductory grammar", Eerdmans 1992
Brown, F, "The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon",
Hendrickson 1979

Many Kabbalists view the Torah as the word of God and Hebrew as the
language of creation. In this view the alphabet and language are
divine and have immense magical power. Many of the source texts of
Kabbalah are commentaries on the Bible, and derive their insights
using a variety of devices, such as puns, anagrams, gematria (letter
manipulations) and cross references to the same word in different
contexts. The reader is presumed to be adept at playing this game,
which becomes completely inaccesible in translation. 

Q1.9 : Is non-Judaic Kabbalah really Kabbalah?

This is a matter of definition. Jewish writers on the subject tend to
downplay aspects of Kabbalah which conflict with orthodox rabbinic
Judaism, so that we do not see the heretic Nathan of Gaza classed as
an important Kabbalist, despite the fact that he was very influential
for almost two hundred years. We hear little about the non-rabbinic
"Baal Shem" or "Masters of the Name" who used Kabbalah for healing and
other practical purposes. There is ample evidence that many magical
practices currently associated with non-Judaic Kabbalah were widely
used and well understood by some of the most famous rabbinic

It is the author's opinion that non-Jewish Kabbalah has preserved up
to the current day many practical techniques, and R. Aryeh Kaplan
makes the following significant comment:

"It is significant to note that a number of techniques alluded to 
in these fragments also appear to have been preserved among the 
non-Jewish school of magic in Europe. The relationship between 
the practical Kabbalah and these magical schools would constitute 
an interesting area of study."

A more difficult question is whether non-Jewish Kabbalah conforms to
the spirit of Jewish Kabbalah. One of the most visible distinctions
is that between theurgy and thaumaturgy, between the attempt to
participate in the workings of the divine realm for the betterment of
the creation, and the attempt to interfere with its workings, for a
variety of reasons which might include personal gain. Modern Kabbalah
outside of Judaism appears in many guises, and is often associated or
combined with ceremonial or ritual. It may be mixed with a wide range
of theosophical traditions. This does not in itself set it apart from
historical Kabbalah. Ritual has always been an integral part of
Kabbalah, and Kabbalah has absorbed from cultures and traditions all
over Europe and the Middle East. Even the distinction between theurgy
and thaumaturgy may be meaningless, as similar techniques can be used
for both, and one would need to climb into someone's head to figure
out what is going on.

Given the lack of a dogmatic tradition in Kabbalah it is not clear
that the question is meaningful. Even within Judaism it is unclear
what the authentic spirit or tradition is - there are large
differences in outlook between someone like Abraham Abulafia and Isaac

One person will be reassured that the tradition is alive and going off
in many different directions; another will feel threatened by cowboys
who are bringing the tradition into disrepute. About the only thing
which can be said with certainty is that there is a great deal of
prejudice. Just about everyone who studies Kabbalah seems to be
certain that someone else hasn't a clue what Kabbalah is about.

Q1.10 : How can I find someone who teaches Kabbalah?
It is not possible to recommend specific people or organisations as 
what is right for one person may not be right for another. In general, 
(good) teachers of Kabbalah are not easy to find and never have been, 
and the search for a teacher proceeds in the Micawberish belief that 
when the time is right "something will turn up".

The difficulty in finding a teacher can be viewed as a nuisance or a 
positive part of learning Kabbalah. A thing is valued more when it is 
hard to find. Associate with people who share your interests, go to 
lectures and public meetings, go to workshops, go to whatever happens 
to be available, (even if it is not entirely to your taste), and 
sooner or later someone will "turn up".

Many Kabbalists are people with strong personal convictions of a
religious nature, and may see their teaching as a personal obligation
(see "What is the Great Work?"). Those who do not charge money for
their teaching may require a strong commitment from pupils, and are
unlikely to welcome "flavour of the month" mystical aspirants.

A word of advice: a genuine teacher of Kabbalah will help you to
develop your own personal relationship with God. Beware of a teacher
who has preconceived and well-developed ideas about what is good for
you, or who tries to control the development of your beliefs.

Section 2: SPECIFICS

Q2.1 : What is the Great Work?
"Do not pray for your own needs, for your prayer will not then be 
accepted. But when you want to pray, do so for the heaviness of 
the Head. For whatever you lack, the Divine Presence also lacks."

"This is because man is a "portion of God from on high." Whatever 
any part lacks, also exists in the Whole, and the Whole feels the 
lack of the part, You should therefore pray for the needs of the 

The term "the Great Work" has many definitions, and is not a term from 
traditional Kabbalah, but it has a modern usage among some 
Kabbalists. The quotation above, from a disciple of the Kabbalist R. 
Israel Baal Shem Tov, is a traditional Kabbalistic view: that the 
creation is in a damaged and imperfect state, and the Kabbalist, by 
virtue of his or her state of consciousness, can bring about a real 
healing. A name for this is "tikkun" (restoration). There are many 
traditional forms of "tikkun", most of them prescriptions for 
essentially magical acts designed to bring about a healing in the 

This view of the Great Work also exists outside of Judaic Kabbalah and 
survives today, namely that the creation is in a "fallen" state, and 
each person has an individual role to play in bringing about a general 

"When someone stands in the light but does not give it out, then a 
shadow is created."

This is a modern restatement of an old Kabbalistic idea. In this view, 
God gives life to the Creation: from second to second the Creation is 
sustained by this giving, and if it were to cease even for an instant, 
the Creation would be no more. If someone wants to know God then they 
have to resemble God, and this means they must give to others. 
Kabbalah is not a self-centred pursuit; it pivots around the 
Kabbalist's relationship with all living beings.

Q2.2 : I want to know more about the Archangels.

The following information was derived initially from a discussion on
alt.magick where several people contributed pieces, in particular, (in no
order) Le Grand Cinq-Mars, Amanda Walker, Leigh Daniels, Patric Shane
Linden, B.A. Davis-Howe, Mark Garrison, Baird Stafford, and myself.
Apologies if you said something and I missed it.

Angels are found in the Judaic, Christian, Islamic and Zoroastrian
traditions. The word "angel" is derived from the Christian Latin
"angelos", itself derived from the Greek "aggelos", which is a translation
of the Hebrew word "mal'akh", a messenger.

Angels are typically found in groupings of four, seven and twelve,
reflecting their role in mediating the divine influence via the planets and
the stars. For example, in Zorastrianism there was a belief in the Amesha
Spentas, seven holy or bounteous immortals who were functional aspects of
Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord. In Islam four angels are well known: Jibril
(Gabriel), the angel of revelation; Mikal (Michael), the angel of nature;
Izrail (Azrael), the angel of death, and Israfil, the angel who places the
soul in the body and sounds the last judgement.

The sources for the angels used in Kabbalah and ceremonial magic are
primarily Jewish. The canonical Old Testament books mention only Michael
and Gabriel, but apocryphal and Talmudic literature provide richer sources,
and there is a suspicion that this was a result of contact with
Zoroastrianism during the period of the Babylonian Exile (6th-5th centuries
BC). The four best-known angels are 


According to one source his name is his war-cry: "Who is like God?".
Michael is at war with the great dragon or serpent, often identified
with Samael in Jewish sources. Michael's original position in the
celestial hierarchy has been progressively eroded by angels such as
Metatron. In medieval Kabbalah he is attributed to Chesed, but in
modern Kabbalah he is attributed to Tipheret, and sometimes to Hod.


Uriel means "Fire of God", from the word "oor" meaning "fire" and Auriel 
means "Light of God", from the word "or" meaning "light". Both names
tend to be used synonymously, and the association with light is
common in Kabbalah. In medieval Kabbalah Uriel is attributed to
Truth and the middle pillar of the Tree, in Tipheret. The association
with light is significant because of the importance of light in
practical Kabbalah, where several different kinds are distinguished,
including: nogah (glow), tov (good), bahir (brilliant), zohar (radiant),
kavod (glory), chaim (life), and muvhak (scintillating). In Christian
times Uriel may have been identified with Lucifer ("light-bearer") and
Satan, an odd identification as the diabolic angel according to Jewish 
tradition is Samael.


Raphael means "Healing of God". Raphael is sometimes attributed to
Hod and sometimes to Tipheret.


Gabriel means "Strength of God" and in medieval Kabbalah was attributed
to Gevurah (the words share a common root). In modern Kabbalah Gabriel
can be found further down the Tree in Yesod, using his strength to hold
up the foundations.

The four archangels can be found in a variety of protective incantations
where they guard the four quarters, an almost universal symbolism which can
be found in guises as diverse as nursery rhymes (Matthew, Mark, Luke and
John, bless this bed that I lie on) to ancient Egyptian protective deities.
A well-known incantation can be found in the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the
Pentagram (see below).

The angel Samael is also important in Kabbalah. Scholem shows (in "The
Origins of the Kabbalah") that in early medieval Kabbalah, Samael retained
some of the characteristics of the Gnostic demiurge Ialdebaoth (the blind
god), and derives the name from "sami", meaning "blind". He is attributed 
consistently to the planet Mars and the sephira Gevurah, and is the
traditional source of all the nastiness in the world. He appears in
various guises as the Dark Angel and the Angel of Death. The suffix -el
betrays his divine origin, and Kabbalists have been divided between placing
him at the head of a demonic hierarchy (alongside his wife Lilith), and
viewing him as an unpleasant but necessary component of creation. 
Samael is identified with the serpent in the Garden of Eden, a tempter and
a poisoner of life.

The archangel Metatron does not appear in many lists of archangels, but has
an important role in Kabbalah as the archangel of the Countenance. Legend
has it that Metatron is none other than the Old Testament sage Enoch,
lifted up to Heaven by God. Scholem comments that "...there is hardly a
duty in the heavenly realm and within the dominion of one angel among the
other angels that is not associated with Metatron". Metatron is usually
associated with Kether.

There are many lists of seven archangels. Almost all of them differ from
each other. Mark O. Garrison (ORMUS@SORINC.CUTLER.COM) kindly provided
the following information which clarifies the difficulty:

-----------------------Mark's material begins here-------------------------

The problem lies in from whence the author goes to research the 
names of the 7 Archangels. The earliest sources giving the names of all
Seven Archangels is ENOCH I (Ethiopic Enoch) which lists the names as 

Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Zerachiel, Gabriel, and Remiel

The next two sources which originate within a few decades of each
other list quite different names of the Seven Archangels. In ENOCH 3 
(Hebrew Enoch) the Archangels are listed as:

Mikael, Gabriel, Shatqiel, Baradiel, Shachaqiel, Baraqiel, 
While the TESTAMENT OF SOLOMON mentions:

Mikael, Gabriel, Uriel, Sabrael, Arael, Iaoth, Adonaei

The Xtian Gnostics changed things a bit further, but they still 
mention Uriel (though, in some cases they called him Phanuel). The 
compleat listing of the Archangels according to their tradition is:

Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Barachiel, Sealtiel, 

Pope Gregory the Great wrote the Archangels as being these 7:

Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Simiel, Orifiel, Zachariel

Likewise, the Pseudo-Dionysians used a similar grouping, mentioning
Uriel also. They list the following as the Seven Archangels:

Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Chamuel, Jophiel, Zadkiel

It was not until much later times, around the 10th century C.E.
when the name Uriel was replaced by other names in these much latter sources.
In Geonic Lore, Uriel is replaced by Samael (The Angel of Light, or THE
Lightbearer, from whence the ideology of Lucifer had originated from also).
In Geonic Lore the seven are noted as being:

Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Aniel, Kafziel, Samael, and Zadkiel

Around the 12th to 15th centuries C.E. the name of Haniel came to 
replace the name of Uriel. However, the two being quite different in their
Natures. The name Haniel is common to the Talismanic Magical Tradition and
other forms of Medieval Ceremonialism. These Medieval Traditions mention
the seven as being:

Zaphkiel, Zadkiel, Camael, Raphael, Haniel, Michael, Gabriel

Also, a late sourcebook titled THE HIERARCHY OF THE BLESSED ANGELS
mentions a different list of the seven archangels. They list them as

Raphael, Gabriel, Chamuel, Michael, Adabiel, Haniel, Zaphiel

It need be remembered, that the Judaeo/Xtian tradition originates
from several religions and traditions, each having its own legends and
thusly, its own hierarchies and namings of the angels. In Islam, there are
only four archangels: Gabriel, Michael, Azrael (the Angel of Death, often
interchanged with Uriel since the 15th century in some European traditions)
for instance. One can easily determine the sources and origins of an book
on Qabala or Ceremonial Magick by what angels they use, obviously. I
personally have drawn up a TREE OF LIFE for each of these traditions, based
upon much research, for reference purposes. Note though, the differences
do not stop with just the names of the Seven Archangels. These sources
also do not agree on the Orders of the Celestial Hierarchy, The Ruling
Princes, The Throne Angels, and the Names of God, just to name a few! Are
you starting to get the idea yet, or are you more confused! <GRIN> :) :)

------------------------Mark's material ends here-------------------------- 

Baird Stafford <> provides the following
list of references to archangels for those who would like to read the
original source material:

------------------------Baird's material begins here-----------------------

And here is an expanded list of references to the Archangels, including
those cited by Br'anArthur. I've included verses from the Pseudepigrapha
(which are the apocryphal books of the Bible not included by the Roman
church in its version of the Apocrypha, although I understand that some of
them are included in the Orthodox Bible). Uriel had a number of stand-ins
who appear to have been other angels who took over his duties for a while:
their names are Sariel, Strahel, and Suriel. I've not included their
references. And, just for the fun of it, I've also included some
references from the writings of the early Christian gnostics.

In all cases, the verses I've cited are only those in which the Archangelic
Name actually appears; in some cases, subsequent verses refer to the
original listing without naming Names.


3 Baruch, 4:7
1 Enoch 10:4; 20:3; 32:6; 40:9; 54:6; 68:2-4; 71:8-9,13
Apocalypse of Ezra 1:4; 6:2
Apocalypse of Adam and Eve 40:2
Sibylline Oracles 2:215
Testament of Solomon 5:9 (24 in F.C. Conybeare's translation); 13:6
(59 in Conybeare); 18:8 (75 in Conybeare)
Tobit 3:16; 5:4; 7:8; 8:2; 9:1; 9:5; 11:7; 12:15


Daniel 10:13; 10:21; 12:1
Jude 9
Revelations 12:7
3 Baruch 4:7; 11:2,4,6,8; 12:4,6-7; 13:2-3,5; 14:1-2; 15:1,3; 16:1,3
4 Baruch 9:5
1 Enoch 9:1; 10:11; 20:5; 24:6; 40:9; 54:6; 60:4-5; 68:2-4; 69:14-15; 
2 Enoch 22:1,6,8-9; 33:10; 71:28 (Recension J); 72:1,3,8-9 (Recension J)
3 Enoch 17:3; 44:10
Apocalypse of Ezra 1:3; 2:1; 4:7,24; 6:2
Life of Adam and Eve 13:3; 14:1-3; 15:2; 21:2; 22:2; 25:2; 29:1-3;
43:3; 45:1; 51:2
Apocalypse of Adam and Eve 3:2; 22:1; 37:4,6; 40:1-2; 43:1-2
Sibylline Oracles 2:215
Testament of Solomon 1:6 (5 in Conybeare); 18:5 (73 in Conybeare)
Apocalypse of Abraham 10:17
Apocalypse of Sedrach 14:1
Martyrdom and Ascension of Isiah 3:16
Testament of Abraham 1:4,6; 2:2-14:7
Testament of Isaac 2:1
Testament of Jacob 1:6; 5:13
Vision of Ezra verse 56

Gnostic Texts (Nag Hammadi Scrolls)
Apocryphon of John 17:30


Daniel 8:16; 9:21
Luke 1:19; 1:26
3 Baruch 4:7
1 Enoch 9:1; 10:9; 20:7; 40:9; 54:6; 71:8-9,13
2 Enoch 21:3,5; 24:1; 71:11 (28 Recension A); 72:1,3,8-9 (Recension A)
3 Enoch 14:4 (referred to as Angel of Fire); 17:3
Apocalypse of Ezra 2:1; 4:7; 6:2
Apocalypse of Adam and Eve 40:2
Sibylline Oracles 2:215; 8:455
Testament of Solomon 18:6 (74 in Conybeare)
Vision of Ezra verse 56
Apocalypse of Elijah 5:5
Testament of Jacob 5:13
Questions of Ezra (Recension B) verse 11

Gnostic Texts (Nag Hammadi Scrolls)
Gospel of the Egyptians 52:23; 53:6; 57:7; 64:26
Zostrianos 57:9; 58:22


3 Baruch 4:7 (Phanuel in ms Family B)
Testament of Solomon 2:4
1 Enoch 19:1; 21:5; 27:2; 33:3; 40:9 (as Phanuel); 54:6 (as Phanuel);
71:8-9,13 (as Phanuel); 72:1; 80:1;
82:7 (text tells what Uriel's in charge of)
4 Ezra 4:1
Apocalypse of Ezra 6:2
Apocalypse of Adam and Eve 40:2
Life of Adam and Eve 48:1,3
Prayer of Joseph verses 4, 7
Sibylline Oracles 2:215,225
Apocalypse of Elijah 5:5
Testament of Solomon 2:4 (as Ouriel) (10 in Conybeare); 7 (as
Ouriel) (11 in Conybeare); 8:9 (as Ouriel) (40 in
Conybeare); 18:7 (as Ouriel) (75 in Conybeare); 27 (as Ouriel) (93 in
Esdras 4:1; 5:21; 10:28

Gnostic Texts (Nag Hammadi Scrolls)
Apocryphon of John 17:30 (as Ouriel)

Two further notes: the early fathers of the Roman church appear to have
the Sibyline Oracles to conform to their vision of what a proper prophesy
for Rome ought to have been. Also, The Apocalypse of Adam and Eve is also
known as The Apocalypse of Moses.

----------------------Baird's material ends here----------------------------

Lastly, Leigh Daniels ( writes:

>A great book is Gustav Davidson's "A Dictionary of Angels" (including
the >fallen angels) published by Free Press, 1967. It is available in
paper for >US$17.95 and in my opinion worth every penny. It includes
a 24-page >bibliography of sources used in compiling it. 

Q2.3 : What is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and where 
does it come from?

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentragram is a protective formula
which can be used to banish unwanted influences, to "clear the air" as
a preliminary to ritual or meditative work. It can be carried out
physically, but it can also be used as a concentration exercise which
is performed in the imagination prior to going to sleep (for example).

The ritual exists in a number of variant forms, the best known being
the Golden Dawn variant given below. The Golden Dawn version is
is based on (or is at least strongly influenced by) Jewish sources.

The version of the ritual below was posted by Rodrigo de
Ferres( and is included here with his permission. [I
have altered a couple of Hebrew transliterations to make them
consistent with normal Hebrew vowel pointing.]

--------------------------Rodrigo's contribution begins----------------

The following is derived from numerous GD sources. 

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

This ritual can be done to purify a room for further ritual work or
meditation and can be used for protection. Its effects are primarily
on the Astral (IMHO) though it uses the Earth pentagram. It also
promotes a still mind, free of outside influenes which is a useful aid
in meditation. It is therefore recommended that the ritual be used as
part of a daily meditation work.

1. Stand facing East.

2. Perform the Qabalistic Cross

a. Touch forehead with first two (or index) fingers of right hand and
visualizing a sphere of white light at that point, 
vibrate: Atah (translates roughly - Thou Art)
b. Lower hand to solar plexis and visualize a line extending down to 
your feet, vibrate: Malkuth (the Kingdom)
c. Raise hand and touch right shoulder visualizing a sphere of light
there. Vibrate: Ve Geburah (and the power)
d. Extend the hand across the chest tracing a line of light and touch
the left shoulder where another sphere of light forms. Vibrate:
Ve Gedulah (and the glory).
e. Clasp hands in center of chest at crossing point of horizontal and
vertical lines of light. Bow head and vibrate: Le Olam, Amen.
(for ever - amen.)
3. Facing east, using either the extended fingers or a dagger, trace a 
large pentagram with the point up, starting at your left hip, up to
just above your forehead, centered on your body, then down to your
right hip, up and to your left shoulder, across to the right
shoulder and down to the starting point in front of your left hip. 
Visualize the pentagram in blue flaming light. Stab you fingers or
dagger into the center and vibrate: YHVH (Yod-heh-vahv-heh - which is
the tetragrammaton translated into latin as Jehovah)

4. Turn to the south. Visualize that the blue flame follows you fingers
or dagger, tracing a blue line from the east pentagram to the south.
Repeat step three while facing South, except vibrate: Adonai (another
name for god tranlated as Lord)

5. Turn to the West, tracing the blue flame from south to west. Repeat
step 3, but vibrate: Eheieh (Eh-hay-yeah more or less - another name
of God translated as I AM or I AM THAT I AM.) (Or "I will be" - Ed.)

6. Turn to the North, again tracing the blue flame from west to north.
Repeat step 3, but vibrate: AGLA (Ah-gah-lah - a composite of Atah
Gibor le olam Amen - see step 2)

7. Return again to the east, tracing the blue flame from North to East.
Stab the fingers or dagger back again into the same spot as in step
3. You should now visualize that you are surrounded by four flaming
pentagrams connected by a line of blue fire.

8. Extend your arms out to your sides, forming a cross. 

Vibrate (visualizing each Archangel standing guard at each station):

Before me RAPHAEL (rah-fah-yell)

Behind me GABRIEL (gah-bree-ell)

On my right hand, MICHAEL (mee-khah-ell)

On my left hand, AURIEL (sometimes URIEL aw-ree-ell or 

for about me flames the Pentagrams,

and in the column stands the six-rayed star.

(Alternatively the last two lines can be:

before me flames the pentagram,
behind me shines the six-rayed star)

9. Repeat the Qabalistic Cross (step 2).

As can be seen, Raphael is in the East, Gabriel in the West, Michael in 
the South and Auriel/Uriel in the North.

For more detailed information I refer the reader to:

_The Practical Qabalah_ by Charles Fielding
_Ceremonial Magic_ by Israel Regardie
_The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic_ also by Regardie
_The Golden Dawn_ as well by Regardie

-------------------------Rodrigo's Contribution ends------------------

There has been some interest in knowing where the LBRP comes from.
The answer appears to be that it is inspired, at least in part,by
particular Jewish prayers and meditational exercises.

There are alternative versions extant, and one such is taken from a 
modern Jewish source.

The source is a pamphlet called "A First Step - a Devotional Guide"
which was written by Zalman Schachter and reprinted in "The First
Jewish Catalogue" by Richard Siegel, Michael Strassfeld and Sharon
Strassfeld, published by the Jewish Publication Society of America in
1973, ISBN 0-8276-0042-9.

The blurb describing the pamphlet states:

"A First Step by Zalman Schachter is not a translation. It was first
written in English. It is a contemporary attempt to make accessible
spiritual and devotional techniques from classic Jewish sources,
sources on which the pamphlet was based."

[Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, (PhD and Professor Emeritus of
Religion at Temple University, founder of the Jewish Renewal movement)
is a very important teacher and scholar - Greg Burton]

The author of the pamphlet states "The approach used here is that of
classical Jewish mysticism, as refined by Hasidism, and in particular,
by the Habad school." [Chabad comes from Chokhmah, Binah, Daath -
Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge - Colin]

Now to the exercise given:

"On other nights, after a short examination, screen yourself off from
sounds and cares by visualising an angel - a spiritual force field -
of grace at your right, this force field being impenetrable by care or
worry; at your left, an angel of power and strength; before you, an
angel of soft light and luminousness, and behind you an angel of
healing. Over your head, picture the very presence of the loving God.
As you visualise this, say:

"In the name of YHVH The God of Israel: At my right hand Michael At
my left Gabriel Ahead of me Oriel Behind me Raphel Above my head the
Sheckinah of God!"

"Imagine yourself plugging into Michael for love - so that you can
love more the next day; Gabriel for strength - to fill you for the
next day; Oriel filling you with the light of the mind; Raphael
healing all your ills."

Greg Burton ( comments on this exercise:

---------------------Greg's contribution begins here------------------

This particular exercise is derived from the practice of saying the
Sh'ma 'before lying down' - the 'kriyat (bedtime) Sh'ma'. A full
traditional Sephardic version, in Hebrew and English, and with some
commentary, can be found beginning on page 318 of the 'Artscroll
Siddur' (nusach Sefard), Mesorah, ISBN 0-89906-657-7. Traditional
Hassidic kavvenot (intentions/directions/way to do it) can be found in
'Jewish Spiritual Practices' by Yitzhak Buxbaum, Aronson, ISBN

The attributes listed in the so-called 'Qabbalistic Cross' comes from
Psalm 99, verse 5, and are part of the Shachrit (morning) Torah
service. The attributes assigned for the movements are not
traditional, and the order has been changed. If using the traditional
assignments (Gevurah left, Gedulah or Chesed right), and saying the
sephirotic names in the proper order, it more properly would describe
the Lightening Flash in the lower 7 Sephirot, rather than a cross.
(Note in the kriyat Sh'ma that Michael (Chesed) is on the right and
Gabriel (Gevurah) is on the left. The implication is that one is
facing Keter). Due to changes in directional / elemental /
archangelic positioning, it is not obvious (but clearly implied) that
physically one is facing North. Another change is that the LBRP does
not bless the Divine, while the Jewish service does. This lack of
blessing may reflect the not-so-covert Christian/Rosicrucian bias in
G.D. liturgy and a particular theology, or it may not. In any event,
it changes what was originally an theurgic act into a thaumaturgic

You might also note that many Jews coming across the LBRP are deeply
offended that the liturgy has been so grossly distorted, and is being
used (from their perspective) sacrilegiously. Telling them that it's
"just different" carries about as much weight as telling traditional
Native Americans that Lynn Andrew's work is "just different".
Combining aspects of two completely different aspects into one ritual
can be done, but it really is better if you know what you're working

---------------------------Greg's contribution ends-------------------

In confirmation of what Greg says, the prayers to be said before
retiring to rest at night are a standard part of Jewish liturgy, and
the British Commonwealth Authorised Daily Prayer book of the United
Hebrew Congregations has (as part of a lengthy prayer which includes
the 3rd., 91st., and 128th. psalms) the following:

"In the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, may Michael be at my right
hand; Gabriel at my left; before me Uriel; behind me Raphael; and above
my head the divine presence (lit. Shekhinah) of God."

Lastly, the rudiments of the LRPB have spread beyond ceremonial magic
and can be found in places as diverse as a Kate Bush album and
Katherine Kurtz's novels. It is even possible to see a version
carried out by Christopher Lee in the film version of Dennis Wheatley's
novel "The Devil Rides Out". The following extract was provided by
Robert Farrior (

---------------------Robert's contribution begins---------------------

Not a scholarly source, try The Adept: Book Three, The Templar
Treasure, by Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris. There is a
scene where a Jewish sholar is in the hospital dying and his son is
reciting a Jewish prayer. The words are almost identical to the LBRP
attributes of the Archangels, except the attributes are reversed. Sir
Adam Sinclair, the hero, thinks how close it is to that used in his
tradition. Its on page 40.

"Shema Yisrael, Adonail Elohenu, Adonai Achad. Hear O Israel, the
Lord is our God, the Lord is One...Go since the Lord sends thee; go,
and the Lord will be with thee; the Lord God is with him and he will

"May the Lord Bless thee and keep thee; May the Lord let his
countenance shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; May the Lord
lift up his countenance upon the, and give the peace."

"At thy right hand is Michael, at thy left is Gabriel, before thee is
Uriel, behind thee is Raphel, and above thy head is the divine
presence of God. The angel of the lord encampeth around them that
fear Him, and He delivereth them. Be strong and of good courage; be
not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with
thee, withersoever thou goest."

-------------------Robert's contribution ends--------------------------

Q2.4 : What are the Qlippoth?

The word "qlippah" or "klippah" (plural "qlippoth") means "shell" or

The idea of a covering or a garment or a vessel is common in Kabbalah,
where it used, at various times and with various degrees of subtlety,
to express the manner in which the light of the En Soph is
"encapsulated". For example, the sephiroth, in their capacity of
recipients of light, are sometimes referred to as kelim, "vessels".
The duality between the container and the contained is one of the most
important in Kabbalistic explanations of the creative moment.

The word "qlippah" is an extension of this metaphor. A qlippah is
also a covering or a container, and as each sephira acts as a shell or
covering to the sephira preceding it in the order of emanation, in a
technical sense we can say the qlippoth are innate to the Tree of
Life. Cut a slice through a tree and one can see the growth rings,
with the bark on the outside. The Tree of Life has 10 concentric
rings, and sometimes the qlippah is equated to the bark. The word is
commonly used to refer to a covering which contains no light: that
is, an empty shell, a dead husk.

It is also the case that the qlippoth appear in Kabbalah as demonic
powers of evil, and in trying to disentangle the various uses of the
word it becomes clear that there is an almost continuous spectrum of
opinion, varying from the technical use where the word hardly differs
from the word "form", to the most anthropomorphic sense, where the
qlippoth are evil demonesses in a demonic hierarchy responsible for
all the evil in the world.

One reason why the word "qlippah" has no simple meaning is that it is
part of the Kabbalistic explanation of evil, and it is difficult to
explain evil in a monotheistic, non-dualistic religion without
incurring a certain complexity....

If God is good, why is there evil?

No short essay can do justice to the complexity of this topic. I will
indicate some of the principle themes.

The "Zohar" attributes the primary cause of evil to the act of
separation. The act of separation is refered to as the "cutting of
the shoots". What was united becomes divided, and the boundary
between one thing and another can be regarded as a shell. The primary
separation was the division between the Tree of Life (Pillar of Mercy)
from the Tree of Knowledge (Pillar of Severity).

In normal perception the world is clearly characterised by divisions
between one thing and another, and in this technical sense one could
say that we are immersed in a world of shells. The shells, taken by
themselves as an abstraction divorced from the original, unidivided
light (making another separation!) are the dead residue of
manifestation, and can be identified with dead skin, hair, bark, sea
shells, or shit. They have been refered to as the dregs remaining in
a glass of wine, or as the residue left after refining gold.
According to Scholem, the Zohar interprets evil as "the residue or
refuse of the hidden life's organic process"; evil is something which
is dead, but comes to life because a spark of God falls on it; by
itself it is simply the dead residue of life.

The skeleton is the archetypal shell. By itself it is a dead thing,
but infuse it with a spark of life and it becomes a numinous and
instantly recognisable manifestation of metaphysical evil. The shell
is one of the most common horror themes; take a mask, or a doll, or
any dead representation of a living thing, shine a light out of its
eyes, and becomes a thing of evil intent. The powers of evil appear
in the shape of the animate dead - skulls, bones, zombies, vampires,

The following list of correspondences follows the interpretation that
the qlippoth are empty shells, form without force, the covering of a

Kether Futility
Chokhmah Arbitrariness
Binah Fatalism
Chesed Ideology
Gevurah Bureaucracy
Tipheret Hollowness
Netzach Routine, repetition, habit
Hod Rigid order
Yesod Zombieism, robotism
Malkut Stasis 

A second, common interpretation of the qlippoth is that they represent
the negative or averse aspect of a sephira, as if each sephira had a
Mr. Hyde to complement Dr. Jekyll. There are many variations of
this idea. One of the most common is the idea that evil is caused by
an excess of the powers of Din (judgement) in the creation. The
origin of this imbalance may be innate, a residue of the moment of
creation, when each sephira went through a period of imbalance and
instability (the kingdoms of unbalanced force), but another version
attributes this imbalance to humankind's propensity for the Tree of
Knowledge in preference to the Tree of Life (a telling and
precognitively inspired metaphor if ever there was one...).

The imbalance of the powers of Din "leaks" out of the Tree and
provides the basis for the "sitra achra", the "other side", or the
"left side" (referring to pillar of severity), a quasi or even fully
independent kindom of evil. This may be represented by a full Tree in
its own right, sometimes by a great dragon, sometimes by seven hells.
The most lurid versions combine Kabbalah with medieval demonology to
produce detailed lists of demons, with Samael and Lilith riding at
their head as king and queen.

A version of this survives in the Golden Dawn tradition on the
qlippoth. The qlippoth are given as 10 evil powers corresponding to
the 10 sephiroth. I refered to G.D knowledge lectures and also to
Crowley's "777" (believed to be largely a rip-off of Alan Bennett's
G.D. correspondence tables), and found several inconsistencies in
transliteration and translation. Where possible I have reconstructed
the original Hebrew, and I have given a corrected list.

Kether Thaumiel Twins of God (TAVM, tom - a twin)
Chokmah Ogiel Hinderers (? OVG - to draw a circle)
Binah Satariel Concealers (STR, satar- to hide, conceal)
Chesed Gash'khalah Breakers in Pieces (GASh Ga'ash - shake, quake
KLH, khalah - complete destruction,
Gevurah Golachab Flaming Ones (unclear)
Tipheret Tagiriron Litigation (probably from GVR, goor - quarrel)
Netzach Orev Zarak Raven of Dispersion (ARV, orev - raven 
ZRQ, zaraq - scatter)
Hod Samael False Accuser (SMM, samam - poison)
Yesod Gamaliel Obscene Ass (GML, gamal - camel? alt. ripen?)
Malkut Lilith Woman of the Night (Leilah - Night)

Most of these attributions are obvious, others are not. The Twins of
of God replace a unity with a warring duality. The Hinderers block
the free expression of the God's will. The Concealers prevent the
mother from giving birth to the child - the child is stillborn in the
womb. The Breakers in Pieces are the powers of authority gone bersek
- Zeus letting fly with thunderbolts in all directions. The Flaming
Ones refer to the fiery and destructive aspect of Gevurah. Lilith is
the dark side of the Malkah or queen of Malkuth.

Why Samael is placed in Hod is unclear, unless he has been
christianised and turned into the father of lies. In Kabbalah he is
almost always attributed to Gevurah, sometimes as its archangel.
Yesod is associated with the genitals and the sexual act, but why
Gamaliel is unclear to me. I could easily concoct fanciful and
perhaps even believable explanations for the attributions to Tipheret
and Netzach, but I prefer not to.

In "777" Crowley also gives qlippoth for many of the 22 paths. If the
transliterations and translations are as accurate as those for the
sephiroth, I would be tempted to reach for my lexicon.

The G.D. teachings on the qlippoth are minimal in the material in my
possession, but a great deal can be deduced from those fascinating
repositories of Kabbalistic myth, the twin pictures of the Garden of
Eden before and after the Fall. There are so many mythic themes in
these pictures that it is difficult to disentangle them, but they seem
strongly influenced by the ideas of Isaac Luria, and it is now time to
describe the third major interpretation of the qlippoth.

Luria's ideas have probably received more elaboration than any others
in Kabbalah. The man left little in a written form, and his disciples
did not concur in the presentation of what was clearly a very complex
theosophical system - this is a subject where no amount of care will
ensure consistency with anyone else.

Luria made the first step in the creation a process called "tzim tzum"
or contraction. This contraction took place in the En Soph, the
limitless, unknown, and unknowable God of Kabbalah. God "contracted"
in a process of self-limitation to make a space (in a metaphorical
sense, of course) for the creation. In the next step the light
entered this space in a jet to fill the empty vessels of the
sephiroth, but all but the first three were shattered by the light.
This breaking of the vessels is called "shevirah". The shards of the
broken vessels fell into the abyss created by contraction, and formed
the qlippoth. Most of the light returned to the En Soph, but some of
it remained in the vessels (like a smear of oil in an empty bottle)
and fell with the qlippoth.

Scholem describes the shevirah and the expulsion of the qlippoth as
cathartic; not a blunder, an architectural miscalculation like an
inadequately buttressed Gothic cathedral, but as a catharsis. Perhaps
the universe, like a new baby, came attached to a placenta which had
to be expelled, severed, and thrown out into the night.

One way of looking at the shevirah is this: the self contraction of
tzim tzum was an act of Din, or Judgement, and so at the root of the
creative act was the quality which Kabbalists identify with the source
of evil, and it was present in such quantity that a balanced creation
became possible only by excreting the imbalance. The shevirah can be
viewed as a corrective action in which the unbalanced powers of Din,
the broken vessels, were ejected into the abyss.

Whether cathartic or a blunder, the shevirah was catastrophic.
Nothing was as it should have been in an ideal world. The four worlds
of Kabbalah slipped, and the lowest world of Assiah descended into the
world of the shells. This can be seen in the G.D. picture of the
Eden after the Fall. Much of Lurianic Kabbalah is concerned with
corrective actions designed to bring about the repair or restoration
(tikkun) of the creation, so that the sparks of light trapped in the
realm of the shells can be freed.

The final word on the shells must go to T.S. Eliot, who had clearly
bumped into them in one of his many succesful raids on the

"Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;"

"Those who have crossed 
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us - if at all - not as lost,
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men."

Q.2.5: Why is Gevurah feminine?

There is a common belief that certain sephiroth are "masculine" and
other sephiroth are "feminine". This belief causes many problems in
comprehending the Tree of Life, and is a source of questions.
For example, why is Gevurah, a martial and aggressive sephira,
depicted as feminine, and why is Netzach, the nurturing, caring,
emotional and aesthetic sephira, depicted as "masculine".

No convoluted explanations are required. The difficulties occur
because of a carelessness in choosing words, and a misunderstanding
about planetary correspondences.

Masculine and feminine are acquired behaviours which have changed over
time, and many people are learning their Kabbalah from books written
several decades ago. These stereotype views of masculine and feminine
were not shared by Jewish authors, who not only did not use these
terms, but placed an entirely different meaning on the terms they did
use. If you take "feminine" to imply emotional, caring, and passive,
and "masculine" to imply active, aggressive, and intellectual, then
not only do you risk offending a large number of people who find this
insulting, but you will also have great difficulty in reconciling
various correspondences for the sephiroth.

A more appropriate characterisation of the difference between sephira
is that of "giving" and "receiving". Kether is a sephira that only
gives, and Malkuth is a sephira which only receives, and all other
sephiroth are both giving and receiving, so that Binah receives from
Chokhmah but gives to Chesed. [Things are not so simple; there is a
tradition that when a current reaches Malkuth, it reflects and travels
back up the Tree again, so that even Malkuth and Kether play a part in
giving and receiving. When human beings carry out simple acts in
their daily life with full consciousness, then this results in a small
"tikkun" or restoration in the upper worlds - in other words, it is
our own actions which cause the reflection within Malkuth, and by
doing so cause the "spiritualisation of matter"]

Kabbalists have used a sexual metaphor for this giving and receiving;
they have observed that from a biological point of view, the male
"gives", and the female "receives", and have given the sephira
Chokhmah the title "Father" and the sephira Binah the title "Mother".
In time, this distinction between male and female has been lost, and
carelessness has lead to the substitution of masculine and feminine,
whith entirely changes the original meaning.

A second difficulty is caused by a common tendency in people to use
the astrological correspondence of a planet as the primary means for
understanding a sephira, so that for many people, Gevurah and Mars are
synonymous. This is equivalent to saying that because a sunflower
reminds me of the sun, the sun *is* a sunflower. The fact that one is
a luminous ball of gas and the other is a plant with yellow petals
should give a clue as to the magnitude of this kind of error. The
metaphorical relationship between the sephira Tipheret and the sun is
no closer than that between the sun and a sunflower. Likewise the
relationship between Gevurah and Mars, and between Netzach and Venus -
this is an example of the finger pointing at the moon: look at the
finger and you don't see the moon.

What follows is a very brief characterisation of each sephiroth, with a
brief rational for the corresponding planetary association.

Kether: Unity
Chokhmah: Unconditioned Creativity
Binah: Possibility of Boundaries
Chesed: Conditioned Creativity
Gevurah: Response to Boundaries
Tipheret: Self-Consciousness
Netzach: Response to Creativity
Hod: Appreciation of Boundaries
Yesod: Ego
Malkuth Diversity

This is an abstract approach which concentrates on the polarity of
force/creativity and form. In Kabbalah this is expressed as the
polarity of Chokhmah and Binah. Chokhmah is the unconditioned
creativity that explodes out of unity of Kether. Binah is concealed
in this duality, in the separation between Kether and Chokhmah, and
expresses the possibility of duality, of separation between one thing
and another. Binah is the Mother of Form, the root of separation
which forms the basis for all distinctions and fininteness. The
Mother receives the creative outpouring of Chokhmah and gives birth to
it in Chesed. Chesed reflects the creativity of Chokhmah, but is
conditioned by the boundaries and distinctions of Binah. Chesed
creates within the realm of the possible; Binah defines what *is*

Gevurah is the response to boundaries. Chesed wants to move existing
boundaries around, and Gevurah is the response to that. This response
is typically reactionary, a defense of the status quo, an attempt to
keep the boundaries where they were. Chesed is active - it changes
the status quo. Gevurah is receptive - it takes the existing status
quo and defends it.

Netzach is the response to creativity. It is the place of aesthetic
judgements, of likes and dislikes, of passions for this and that. It
is the adulation of a fan for a band, or an artist, or a polititian.
Hod is the appreciation of boundaries, a passion for classifation,
rules, detail, hair-splitting definitions. Netzach is active;
feelings tell us what we should like. Feelings direct our behaviour.
Hod is receptive, in that it elaborates what it is given.

The more confusing planetary associations should now (I hope) be
clearer. Saturn is the sphere of limitation, old age, death, and
corresponds to Binah, the Mother of Form, from whose womb all
finiteness comes. Jupiter, the leader, corresponds to Chesed. Mars
(as the warrior defending the law and the State) corresponds to
Gevurah (but not Mars as the bloodthirsty berserker - this is an
aspect of Chesed). Venus, the romantic aesthete, goddess of love and
sensual beauty, corresponds to Netzach. Mercury, the god of trade, science,
communication, medicine, discourse, trickery, corresponds to Hod.

Do not expect to find a detailed consistency between a sephira and its
planetary correspondence: the sun is not a sunflower. There is a
subtlety and generality, not to mentioned coherency, in the idea of
sephirotic emanation which is not to be found in the planetary 


Kabbalists and scholars disagree on the date of the origins of the
Kabbalah. Many Kabbalists trace the tradition back to 1st. century
A.D. Palestine. Scholars tend to identify Kabbalah with specific
ideas which emerged in 12th. century Provence in the school of R.
Isaac the Blind, who has been called "the father of Kabbalah". What
is abundantly clear however is that there is a continuous thread of
Jewish mysticism running from early times, and these strands have
become so intertwined with Kabbalah that it is difficult to know where
one ends and another begins. For example, the highly influential
text, the "Sepher Yetzirah", was the subject of widespread commentary
by medieval Kabbalists but the text may have been written as early as
the 1st. century. Again, ideas from Jewish Gnosticism from the 2nd.
and 3rd. centuries have also become deeply embedded in Kabbalah.

The earliest documents associated with Kabbalah come from the period 
~100 to ~1000 A.D. and describe the attempts of "Merkabah" mystics to 
penetrate the seven halls (Hekaloth) of creation in order to reach 
the Merkabah (throne-chariot) of God. These mystics appear to have 
used what would now be recognised as familiar methods of shamanism 
(fasting, repetitious chanting, prayer, posture) to induce trance 
states in which they literally fought their way past terrible seals 
and guards to reach an ecstatic state in which they "saw God". An 
early and highly influential document, the "Sepher Yetzirah", or 
"Book of Formation", originated during the earlier part of this period.

By the early Middle Ages further, more theosophical developments had 
taken place, chiefly a description of "processes" within God, and the 
development of an esoteric view of creation as a process in which God 
manifests in a series of emanations, or sephiroth. This doctrine of 
the sephiroth can be found in a rudimentary form in the "Sepher 
Yetzirah", but by the time of the publication of the book "Bahir" in 
the 12th. century it had reached a form not too different from the 
form it takes today. 

A motive behind the development of the doctrine of emanation can be 
found in the questions:

"If God made the world, then what is the world if it is not 

"If the world is God, then why is it imperfect?" 

It was necessary to bridge the gap between a pure and perfect being 
and a manifestly impure and imperfect world by a series of "steps" in 
which the divine light was successively diluted. The result has much 
in common with neoplatonism, which also tried to resolve the same 
difficulty by postulating a "chain of being" which bridged the gap 
between the perfection of God, and the evident imperfection of the 
world of daily life.

One of most interesting characters from this early period was Abraham 
Abulafia (1240-1295), who believed that God cannot be described or 
conceptualised using everyday symbols. Like many Kabbalists he 
believed in the divine nature of the Hebrew alphabet and used 
abstract letter combinations and permutations ("tzeruf") in intense 
meditations lasting many hours to reach ecstatic states. Because his 
abstract letter combinations were used as keys or entry points to 
altered states of consciousness, failure to carry through the 
manipulations correctly could have a drastic effect on the Kabbalist. 
In "Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism" Scholem includes a fascinating 
extract from a description of one such experiment. Abulafia is unusual 
because (controversially) he was one of the few Kabbalists to provide 
explicit written details of practical techniques.

The most influential Kabbalistic document, the "Sepher ha Zohar" or 
"Book of Splendour", was published by Moses de Leon (1238-1305), a 
Spanish Jew, in the latter half of the thirteenth century. The Zohar 
is a series of separate documents covering a wide range of sub- 
jects, from a verse-by-verse esoteric commentary on the Pentateuch, to 
highly theosophical descriptions of processes within God. The Zohar 
has been widely read and was highly influential within mainstream 

An important development in Kabbalah was the Safed school of mystics 
headed by Moses Cordovero (1522-1570) and his successor Isaac Luria 
(1534-1572). Luria, called "The Ari" or Lion, was a highly charismatic 
leader who exercised almost total control over the life of the 
school, and has passed into history as something of a saint. Emphasis 
was placed on living in the world and bringing the consciousness of 
God through *into* the world in a practical way. Practices were 
largely devotional.

Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Judaism as a whole 
was heavily influenced by Kabbalah, but two influences caused its 
decline. The first event was the mass defection of Jews to the cause 
of the heretic and apostate pseudo-messiah Shabbatai Tzevi (1626-1676), 
an event Scholem calls "the largest and most momentous messianic 
movement in Jewish history subsequent to the destruction of the Temple 
and the Bar Kokhba Revolt." The Shabbateans included many prominant 
rabbis and Kabbalists, and from this point Kabbalah became 
inextricably mired with suspicions of heresy. A second influence was 
the rise in Eastern Europe of a populist Kabbalism in the form of 
Hasidism, and its eventual decline into superstition, so that by the 
beginning of this century a Jewish writer was able to dismiss Kabbalah 
as an historical curiousity. Jewish Kabbalah has vast literature which 
is almost entirely untranslated into English.

A development which took place almost synchronously with the 
translation and publication of key texts of Jewish Kabbalah was its 
adoption by many Christian mystics, magicians and philosphers.
Some Christians thought Kabbalah held keys that would reveal mysteries 
hidden in the scriptures, others tried to find in Kabbalah doctrines 
which might be used to convert Jews to Christianity. There were some
who recognised in Kabbalah themes with which they were already familiar
in the literature of Hermeticism and Neoplatonism. 

The key figure in what has been called "Christian Kabbalah" is
Giovanni Pico, Count of Mirandola. The liberal atmosphere in Florence
under the patronage of the Medici family provided a haven for both
Jewish scholars (usually employed as translators or physicians) and
humanist philosophers. The fall of Byzantium provided a rich source
of Greek texts such as works of Plato and the Corpus Hermiticum.
Della Mirandola not only popularised Kabbalah, but influenced humanist
scholars such as Johannes Reuchlin to learn Hebrew and study important
source texts. Kabbalah was progressively bundled in with
pythagoreanism, neo-platonism, hermeticism and rosicrucianism to form
a snowball which continued to pick up traditions as it rolled down the
centuries. It is probably accurate to say that from the Renaissance
on, virtually all European occult philosophers and magicians of note
had a working knowledge of some aspect of Kabbalah.

Non-Jewish Kabbalah has suffered greatly from having only a limited
number of source texts to work from, often in poor translations, and
without the key commentaries which would have revealed the tradition
associated with the concepts described. It is pointless to criticise
non-Jewish Kabbalah (as many writers have) for misinterpreting Jewish
Kabbalah; it should be recognised as a parallel tradition with many
points of correspondence and many points of difference.

Very little information has survived about the Practical Kabbalah, but 
there is abundant evidence that it involved a wide range of practices 
and included practices now regarded as magical - the fact that so many 
Kabbalists denounced the use of Kabbalah for magical purposes is 
evidence in itself (even if there were no other) that the use of these 
techniques was widespread. It is highly likely that many ritual 
magical techniques were introduced into Europe by Kabbalists or their 
less scrupulous camp followers. The most important medieval magical 
text is the "Key of Solomon", and it contains the elements of classic 
ritual magic - names of power, the magic circle, ritual implements, 
consecration, evocation of spirits etc. No-one knows how old it is, 
but there is a reasonable suspicion that its contents preserve tech- 
niques which might well date back to Solomon.

The combination of non-Jewish Kabbalah and ritual magic has been kept 
alive outside Judaism until the present day, although it has been 
heavily adulterated at times by hermeticism, gnosticism, neoplatonism, 
pythagoreanism, rosicrucianism, christianity, tantra and so on. The 
most important "modern" influences are the French magician Eliphas 
Levi, and the English "Order of the Golden Dawn". At least two 
members of the Golden Dawn (S.L. Mathers and A.E. Waite) were 
knowledgable Kabbalists, and three Golden Dawn members have 
popularised Kabbalah - Aleister Crowley, Israel Regardie, and Dion 
Fortune. Dion Fortune's "Order of the Inner Light" has also produced 
a number of authors: Gareth Knight, William Butler, and William Gray 
to name but three.

An unfortunate side effect of the Golden Dawn is that while Kabbalah
was an important part of its "Knowledge Lectures", surviving Golden
Dawn rituals are a syncretist hodge-podge of symbolism in which
Kabbalah seems to play a minor or nominal role, and this has led to
Kabbalah being seen by many modern occultists as more of a theoretical
and intellectual discipline, rather than a potent and self-contained
mystical and magical system in its own right.

Some of the originators of modern witchcraft (e.g. Gerald Gardner, 
Alex Saunders) drew heavily on medieval ritual and Kabbalah for 
inspiration, and it is not unusual to find modern witches teaching 
some form of Kabbalah, although it is generally even less well 
integrated into practical technique than in the case of the Golden 

To summarise, Kabbalah is a mystical and magical tradition which 
originated nearly two thousand years ago and has been practiced 
continuously during that time. It has been practiced by Jew and non-
Jew alike for about five hundred years. On the Jewish side it has 
been an integral and influential part of Judaism; on the non-Jewish 
side it has created a rich mystical and magical tradition with its 
own validity, a tradition which has survived despite the prejudice 
generated through existing within a strongly Christian culture. 


The following list contains books which are representative of both
Jewish and non-Jewish traditions. There are books which are utterly
fanciful or derivative which have not been included.

Many books have not been included simply because no one has suggested
that they should. If you feel strongly that a book should be included
in this list then mail its details and some (relatively) factual
comments on its contents to

I'd like to thank the following for their contributions:

Le Grand Cinq Mars
Greg Burton


Bar Zadok, R. Ariel, "Yikrah B'Shmi (Call Upon My Name)",Yeshivat Benei 
[Merkabah practices]

Bischoff, Erich, "Kabbala", Weiser
[An interesting and generally well-informed little book written as an
extended FAQ. Refers only to traditional Jewish material. Originally
published in German c. 1910]

Brown, Francis, "The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew and
English Lexicon", Hendrickson 1979
[The last word in Biblical Hebrew. Amaze and astound your friends 
with each and every usage of every word in the Bible. Hold an
audience entranced with your knowledge of Arabic, Aramaic, Assyrian,
Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian, and Greek referents] 

Crowley, Aleister, "777", Metaphysical Research Group 1977
[Tables of Kabbalistic correspondences, some from the Golden Dawn, 
some from Crowley, many traditional]

Epstein, Perle, "Kabbalah", Shambhala 1978
[Information on traditional Jewish Kabbalah by a student of Aryeh 
Kaplan. It contains many biographical details, and useful information 
on practical techniques.]

Fortune, Dion, "The Mystical Qabalah", Ernest Benn Ltd, 1979
[One of the first books to relate the Sephirothic Tree to everyday 
experience, and for this reason a useful beginners' book. It contains 
many digressions on matters circa 1930 which now appear extremely 
dated. Dion Fortune was strongly influenced by Theosophy and Esoteric 
Christianity as well as Kabbalah, and it shows.]

Gikatilla, R. Joseph, "Sha'are Orah", Harper Collins, 1994
[This is one of the great expositions of Kabbalah, written in the
thirteenth century by a pupil of Abraham Abulafia. Because of its
early translation into Latin it is also one of a small number of
texts to exert a strong influence on Christian Kabbalah. It provides
an exposition on the divine names through the 10 sephiroth and is
exceedingly heavy going. This translation lacks a commentary.]

haLevi, Ze'v ben Shimon, "Kabbalah & Exodus", "Work of the Kabbalist", 
"School of Kabbalah",Weiser ???
[Good non-technical material - though he has an aversion to magick. A sort
of inbetweener - Wesoteric and Jewish. Very practical material for the 
sincere beginner.]

Locks, Gutman G., "Gematria, Spice of Torah",Judaica Press,??
[Gematria values for the Torah - the real thing]

Idel, Moshe, "Kabbalah: New Directions", Yale, ???
[Outstanding scholarship - a MUST read for theoretical background, and 
to put Scholem into perspective.]

Idel, Moshe, "Ecstatic Kabbalah", Yale, ???
[Outstanding scholarship - a MUST read for understanding the work of
Abraham Abulafia.]

Jacobs, Louis, "The Jewish Mystics", Kyle Cathie Ltd. 1990 (also 
published in the US as "Jewish Mystical Testimonies".
[A fascinating compilation of texts spanning the history of Kabbalah
from the earliest times, an eclectic mixture which includes extracts
from the Talmud and Zohar, letters, personal diaries, legend, short
lectures, visions, mystical experiences etc. ]

Kaplan, Aryeh, "The Bahir Illumination", Weiser 1989
[A key Kabbalistic source text with an extensive and informed 
commentary by Kaplan]

Kaplan, Aryeh, "Meditation and Kabbalah", Weiser 1992
[Essential reading for the experienced Kabbalist. Not an introductory 
text. Many biographical and historical details worth reading for their 
own sake.]

Kaplan, Aryeh, "The Sepher Yetzirah", Weiser 1991
[A key Kabbalistic source text with an extensive and informed 
commentary by Kaplan.]

Kaplan, Aryeh, "The Living Torah", Moznaim 1981
[A key Kabbalistic source text with an informed commentary by Kaplan. 
Contains both Kaplan's translation and the Hebrew source text of the 
five books of Moses.]

Kaplan, R. Aryeh, "Innerspace", Moznaim, 4304 12th Ave. Brooklyn,
NY.11219 1-800-364-5118
[Superb Introduction]

Kaplan, R. Aryeh, "Jewish Meditation", Weiser ???
[Introductory practices - can be used before "Meditation and Kabbalah" 
or "Meditation and the Bible".]

Knight, Gareth, "A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism", Vols 1 & 
2, Helios 1972
[Volume 1 provides an introduction to the Tree of Life and the 
sephiroth, and follows the correspondences of the Golden Dawn and Dion 
Fortune. Volume 2 covers the paths on the Tree, draws on the same 
basic correspondences, but contains more personal meditational 
material. At the level of a personal commentary it provides many 
insights into the G.D. correspondences.]

Levi, Eliphas, "Transcendental Magic", Rider, 1969.
[A key text by an important and influential magician. Levi's factual 
information should not be taken at face value]

Mathers, S. L., "The Kabbalah Unveiled", Routledge & Kegan Paul 
[A translation of a translation of three texts from the "Zohar", with 
an introduction by both Moina and Samuel Liddel Mathers, which is 
interesting not only for what it says about Kabbalah but also as a 
source of insight into two key members of the Order of the Golden 

Mathers, S. L., "The Key of Solomon the King", Routledge & Kegan Paul
[Classic magical grimoire with a Kabbalistic flavour.]

Mathers, S. L., "The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage", 
Dover 1975
[The authenticity of this text has been questioned, but its influence 
on 20th. century magic and practical Kabbalah cannot be. It may 
be based on an authentic technique for acquiring a "Maggid" or angelic 
teacher, something widely employed by Jewish Kabbalists in the past.]

Ponce, Charles, "Kabbalah", Garnstone Press, 1974.
[A straightforward and not too fanciful introduction to Kabbalah with 
a Jewish flavour. A good all-round introduction.]

Regardie, I., "The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic", Falcon 
Press 1984
[Essential reading for anyone interested in the development of non-
Jewish, "Hermetic" Kabbalah this century.]

Schachter, R. Zalman, "Fragments of a Future Scroll" (out of print)
[Introduction to Jewish Renewal, which includes a great deal of 
kabbalistic underpinning.]

Scheinkin, David, "Path of Kabbalah", Shambala ???
[Excellent introduction by another student of Kaplan's. A great one to 
read first]

Scholem, Gershom G. "Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism", 
Schoken Books 1974
[Essential reading for anyone with an interest in the historical basis 
for Kabbalah.]

Scholem, Gershom G., "Origins of the Kabbalah", Princton 1990
[Traces the origins of Kabbalistic thought through the book "Bahir", the
Kabbalists of Provence, and the Kabbalistic circle of Gerona. Gripping
stuff for the academically and historically minded]

Scholem, Gershom G. "Kabbalah", Dorset Press 1974
[Essential reading for anyone with an interest in the historical basis 
for Kabbalah.]

Scholem, Gershom G. "Sabbatai Tzevi, The Mystical Messiah", Princeton
University Press 1973.
[A massive, minutely researched book describing the lives and heresies 
of Sabbatai Tzevi and Nathan of Gaza. A good source of information on
Nathan's unusual and highly influential version of Lurianic Kabbalah]

Scholem, Gershom G. "Kabbalah and its Symbolism", Schocken 1969.
[A selection of very readable essays on a wide variety of topics, 
including Kabbalistic ritual and the idea of the Golem]

Scholem, Gershom G. "On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead", Schocken
[More deeply researched essays on the Kabbalah, including as topics
good and evil, the Shekhinah, the transmigration of souls, and the
astral body.]

Simon, Maurice & Sperling, Harry, "The Zohar", Bennet 1959 (also 
recently reprinted by Soncino)
[A translation a major part of a key Kabbalistic text. Oh, that Kaplan 
had lived long enough to translate The Zohar!]

Suares, Carlos, "The Quabala Trilogy",Shambala,??
[Heavy going, but it can give you a good sense of what's going on 
kabbalisticly in the Torah from a gematria perspective.]

Tishby, Isaiah, & Lachower, Yeruham Fishel, "The Wisdom of the Zohar" 
Oxford University Press 1989 
[An anthology of texts systematically arranged and rendered into Hebrew 
by Fischel Lachower and Isaiah Tishby ; with extensive introductions and 
explanations by Isaiah Tishby; English translation by David Goldstein.
An expensive three volume set which contains a definitive translation
of large parts of the Zohar, the texts arranged by subject matter and
greatly clarified by a voluminous commentary and extensive footnotes.
An essential text.]

Waite, A.E., "The Holy Kabbalah", Citadel.
[A large volume on Kabbalah by a key member of the Golden Dawn, 
greatly diminished by Waite's verbose and circumlocutious writing 

Zalewski, Pat, "Golden Dawn Kabbalah", Llewellyn, 1993
[Very good exposition of additional Golden Dawn material, and some 
interesting thoughts]
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