238 The Kabbalah
Peter 1996 The Joy of Sects,
Doubleday, NY ISBN 0-385-42565-1
[As a protection against increasingly severe attempts to destroy it in the middle ages], Judaism accepted and incorporated seemingly heterodox belief systems rather than place yet another strain on the community. And so the mystical practice and study known as Kabbalah (or Cabala) was allowed to grow within or at least alongside mainstream Judaism. (The rabbis thought it potentially dangerous, though; in the 17th century, they ruled that it should be studied only by married men over 40 who were also adept in Talmud and Torah.) In return, Kabbalah offered Jews a mystical approach to religion within the context of the accepted beliefs and practices of Judaism. By modern times, Kabbalistic themes had entered the Jewish mainstream, influencing certain prayers and liturgles and contributing its own set of customs and folk beliefs, notably belief in reincarnation. Some scholars even argue that the Kabbalah succeeded because it has roots in Judaic tradition reaching back to the Talmud and possibly earlier. Originally, the word Kabbalah, from a root meaning "to receive," referred to the received tradition of the Bible. But it later came to signify esoteric knowledge, i.e., mysteries known only to a select few who are usually either forbidden or unwilling to reveal them. This secret knowledge tended to be pantheistic, giving detailed descriptions of God's body parts along with secret names and numerical interpretations of scriptural texts, seeing creation as a manifestation of the Divine Word. Kabbalists believe that the letters of the Torah, along with the numbers they symbolize, provide a direct knowledge of God in the classic mystical sense; the combination of these letters is one of the ma'or techniques of Jewish mysticism. The magical or occult elements of Kabbalah for the most part developed separately from this mystical theology, and from about the 15th century the two sets of teachings became known respectively as Practical Kabbalah and Speculative Kabbalah. The aim of the latter was to give the Kabbalist inner spiritual guidance; the former delved into the more questionable realms of white (helpful) and black (harmful) magic.
The Kabbalah dates back probably as far as the literature of the Hekhalot ("divine palaces"), which has been dated as early as the 2nd century AD. Between those early writings-which describe a mystical journey past gates guarded by seraphim, culminating in the contemplation of God on His throne-and the reemergence of Kabbalah in the 12th century, not much is known for certain. Gaon (pl. Geonim) was an honorific title given to rabbinic rectors of the academies of Sura and Pumbeditha in Babylonia. During the long Geonic period (589-1038), the Jews who had settled there dominated Jewish thought, and Judaism was influenced by many of the mystical and magical concepts derived from Egyptian, Hellenistic, and Persian sources. These found their way into the underground stream of Kabbalism, which surfaced during the early Middle Ages in Europe, incorporating the Hindu concept of reincarnation with Babylonian astrology-" and the numerology of 6th-century BC Greek philosopher and mystic Pythagoras (of "music of the Spheres" fame). Numerology, the study of the occult significance of numbers, became an especially significant part of Kabbalah. The blend of disparate sources matured in Provence in the late 12th century from the work of Judah Halevi (c. 1075-1142), the great Jewish poet of the Middle Ages, and later in Catatonia and Castile in Spain and favored direct experience of God over the prevalent intellectual, rationalist approach. Drawing on earlier Kabbalistic texts like the Sefir Yetzirah ("Book of Creation," c. 100-500), attributed to Rabbi Akiva ben Josef. Kabbalists believed that each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet had a specific meaning and a numerical counterpart. When properly combined and added, these values would release great creative powers inherent in the "Word," a concept similar to the Logos' of Philo judaeus. Kabbalists taught that the first five chapters of Genesis in particular were written in a kind of code that could be correctly interpreted only by knowing the specific values of each Hebrew letter. Obscurantist as that may sound, some Kabbalists argued that the original Hebrew of the Bible was purposely altered to hide certain secret knowledge when it was translated into Greek for the Septuagint and later into Latin by St. Jerome (a version known as the Vulgate, on which the famous King James Version was based). Only by learning the Kabbalistic values of the Hebrew letters was it possible to unravel the deeper, esoteric meaning of the Torah. The Provencal Kabbalist Isaac the Blind (d. c. 1235), who was the first to refer to God as En Sof ("Without End," or "Infinite"), and Rabbi Moses ben Nahman (known as Nahmanides or by the acronym Ramban, 1194-1270), who supported Kabbalistic mysticism and brought it into the mainstream in Spain, were among those most responsible for the development and spread of Kabbalistic mysticism in Europe. The concept of En Sof as the undifferentiated Absolute beyond comprehension is key to the identity of the Kabbalah as an esoteric study, since it implies that even biblical conceptions of God do not reveal the true nature of the infinite source of the universe.
243 The Name Game
In Kabbalah study, Judaism comes closest to the systems of the Eastern religions, particularly in its teachings on emanation and the male and female principles. The Kabbalistic Tree of Life con tainin the 10 sephirot and their many interconnecting paths is 9 formed into three columns, one feminine, one masculine, and one middle column mediating the other rwo. This is comparable to the ida and pingala [the intertwined channels reminiscent of Hermes' caduceus] surrounding the central sushumna nadi of kundalini yoga, the yin-yang of Taoism, the Shiva and Shakti of Hinduism, and the yab-yum of Tantric Buddhism. Many Kabbalists conceive of God as embodying both male and female energies, which were divided during creation as part of the process of emanation. They speak of the shekhinah, which in traditional Judaism means the divine presence on earth, as the feminine aspect or mystical bride of God. And they often use language as a means to analyze such mysteries, as in this ex cerpt from a contemporary non-Jewish Kabbalist which offers an explanation for the mysterious use of the plural form for God e arly in the Bible:
The Hebrew word used to denominate God in Genesis is Elohim. This word is a plural formed from the feminine singular ALH (Eloh) by adding IM to it. Since IM is the termination of the masculine plural, added to a feminine noun it makes ELOHIM a female potency united to a male principle, and thus capable of having an offspring. The same intended misconception is given in the Christian idea of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. In the Kabbalah the Deity manifests simultaneously as Mother and Father and thus begets the Son. We are told that the Holy Spirit is essentially masculine, but the Hebrew word used in the Scriptures to denote spirit is Ruach, a feminine noun. The Holy Spirit is really the Mother, and thus the Christian Trinity properly translated should be Father, Son and Mother. -Migne Gonzalez-Wippler, A Kabbalah for the Modern World
AE 1992 The Holy Kabbalah
Carol Publishing Group, NY.
THE HIGHER SECRET DOCTRINE THE MYSTERY OF SHEKINAH
THERE is a very true sense in which the Secret Doctrine of the ZOHAR must be said to centre in that Mystery, whatsoever it may be, which lies behind the wonder and glory of Shekinah - a recurring, and speaking literally, incessant subject of reference in adoring honour throughout the great text. There is a very true sense furthermore in which it may be said that out of this Mystery all Kabbalism seems to issue and, moreover, goes back therein. ... As it is, I must proceed carefully, not only on account of the difficulties but because the Keys of the Mystery open into a region about which there are grave motives for speaking with considerable reserve, when it is possible to speak at all.
The root of the Secret Docrine in Israel; for the vast body of cryptic writing and the practice concealed behind it arose out of that one verse in Scripture which says : " So God "- that is to say, Elohim-" created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female "- defining the nature of the image-" created He them." Gen. 1:27.
The sole object with which the Holy One, blessed be He, sends man into this world is to know that Jehovah is Elohim." Herein is also all true joy of heart. Now, it is in this manner that I open the high conference respecting the Mystery of Shekinah, which is a Mystery of man and God, of man in - the likeness of the Elohim, of the relation between things above and things below, of intercourse for union upon earth performed in the spirit of celestial union, and the transmutation of one by the other for the work of God in the world.
In this union abides the Mystery of Faith, which is the synthesis of the whole Law - Written and Oral Law - and of all that exists whatsoever. But union is not identity, whence it is said further that 'Jehovah and Elohim are distinct, not synonymous, though together they form an unity'. It must be remembered in the first place that Elohim is a title of Shekinah and so also is Adonai, in which sense - but presumably for us in manifestation - she is called the Mirror of Jehovah.
Almost without exception, the ascriptions are feminine. She is now the Daughter of the King; she is now the Betrothed, the Bride and the Mother, and again she is sister in relation to the world of man at large. There is a sense also in which this Daughter of God is - or becomes - the Mother of man. In respect of the manifest universe, she is the architect of worlds acting in virtue of the Word uttered by God in creation. In respect of the myth of Paradise, the Shekinah is the Eden which is above, whence the river of life flows forth that waters the Garden below, and this is also Shekinah as she is conceived in external things - or Bride, Daughter and Sister in the world below.
Considered in her Divine Womanhood, in the world of transcendence, she is the Beloved who - ascends towards the Heavenly Spouse, and she is Matrona who unites with the King, for the perfection of the Divine Male is in the Divine Female. Hence it is said that the perfection of Jehovah is in Elohim.' ... As such, the Oral Law is her image, while the image of Jehovah is the Written Law a distinction at once eloquent and pregnant, for the Inward Law is life, while the Outer is the body of life. So also she is the waters that are above the firmament in respect of her title of Elohim, but she is the waters below the firmament when she manifests as Adonai.
The Kabbalistic tree of life crowned by Kether with left and right Chockmah and Binah
As Elohim she is the Middle Pillar, and all the various aspects of the one thing that is needful from the stand- point of the Secret Tradition are collocated, their seeming exclusiveness notwithstanding, to shew that she abides in all, is at once above and below, without even as within. She is that Divine Presence which walked in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening, which went before Israel in the desert and protects the just man who has fulfilled the precepts, dwelling in his house and going forth with him in his journeys. As Elohim, in fine, she is the middle degree of the Divine Essence corresponding to the Pillar of Benignity in the Tree of Life.
Now, in all the references cited up to this point the intention of the ZOHAR has been to shew in the most positive and unqualified way that the Shekinah is female in essential aspect, whether as the Bride of God in that transcendent state wherein there is no distinction between her and the Holy One, or whether as the tutelary guide of humanity.
The Shekinah is the Liberating Angel who delivers the world in all ages, who is ever near to man and never separated from the just. Of her it is said: " Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. But it is stated that this Liberating Angel manifests as male and female, being male when it dispenses the celestial benedictions on the world below, because it then resembles a male nourishing the female; but when charged with offices of judgment it is called female, as a woman who carries her child in the womb of her.
It is said elsewhere that those who understand these male and female attributions know the great wisdom. But the exposition as to this wisdom is given much later on, when it is stated that MATRONA is feminine in so far as she is not in union, but in that state is identified with the male principle, and this is how the interchange of sex in divine things must be understood throughout.
So also METATRON, who is an aspect of Shekhinah, is indifferently male and female, changing incessantly according to the vibrations of the union. Now, it is said that Shekinah is to METATRON what the Sabbath is to the weekdays. In other words, she is rest and the rapture of rest, yet it is that rest in which there is the intercourse of spiritual union. The same vibrations which are mentioned in the case of METATRON constitute the beatitude of the soul in heaven. ... At the apex of the union between male and female - which is to be understood only in a spiritual sense - the sex distinction has ceased: it can be only from this point of view that the Shekinah is mentioned sometimes as if she were on the male side.
In characteristics and in mission, she is always typically female; it is she who comprises all women in her mystery, and this is why-as we see - she does not abide except with him who is united to a woman. In conclusion, so far as there is a dual aspect on the sex side in the notion of Shekinah, it may be noted that the Divine Name Adonai would answer to the male aspect, Shekhinah to the female and Elohim to the combination of both.
She is the Middle Pillar - as we have seen - the Pillar of Benignity, extending from KETHER to MALKUTH, and she takes up the SEPHIROTH to God, or into the place which is no place, beyond the infinite height and depth, the infinite of all directions embraced by the Tree. ... Shekinah is, in another form of symbolism, the body of the Tree ; ... But it is said also that she is the crown of the Middle Pillar, the synthesis of all the SEPHIROTH and of every Sacred Name expressed or implied in the wisdom of the Secret Doctrine.
Two Supernals, namely CHOKMAH and BINAH, are disposed on the right and the left, and these are said to be united in Shekinah. But the complete integration in her of all branches of the Sephirotic Tree will not take place till He comes Who shall be called Man, that is, Adam or SHILOH. It follows that there is a sense in which Shekinah is in CHOKMAH, and it is supposed to be of her that it is said : " She openeth her mouth in wisdom. ... The Shekinah in this relation is called concealed and visible, conciliating the mysteries above and the mysteries below. Her hiddenness is in respect of the Supreme Degree of the Divine Essence, which exceeds understanding. She herself is revealed in wisdom by the mode of the Law of Mercy, so that she is Mercy on one side although Severity proceeds from her on the other. ... Again it is said that Elohim is seated on the right side, suggesting that the Shekinah is in CHOKMAH - according to the familiar diagrams. Moreover, wisdom is the glory of and is revealed in the Tabernacle - that is to say, by Shekinah. ... The harmony between these statements is given elsewhere in the ZOHAR itself, when it is said that the mother below is sometimes called the Betrothed and sometimes Sister. If she comes from the side of the Father she is called CHOKMAH, but if from that of the mother she is BINAH. The truth is that Shekinah is on both sides of the Tree, and the explanation is that she is the spirit of all the Holy Assemblies above and below. In the gtate of ineffable union and in that conception which lies behind her name, she can be only eternal like the Holy One, save in so far as the Holy One, postulated in KETHER, is also a time conception. ...
I have mentioned in another connection the work of Shekinah in creation. In her office as architect of the world, the Word was uttered to her, was by her conceived and brought or begotten into execution. ... In so far, however, as creation is the history of the elect symbolised, it is obvious that the work remains unfinished till the great day of restitution, and coincident there-with is the history of Shekinah herself. On the manifest side it begins in the Garden of Eden - in that Garden which is she, according to another symbolism - and it continues for the Theosophical Jew through the whole period of the Greater Exile. I have mentioned that it was Shekinah who walked with Adam in Paradise under the title of Lord God, that is to say, of Jehovah Elohim, the union above communicating to the union below and prescribing the first law of life. This is the Shekinah in manifestation. But we know that the trespass followed and that our prototypical parent was driven out of the Garden. This might appear to mean that he was cast out from under the wings of Shekinah ; but he was not deserted in his need, for she followed him into the captivity of the senses. This is one side of the Zoharic doctrine that Shekinah suffered with mankind, but it is put much more explicitly when it is said: "Therefore the man was driven out and the Mother was driven out with him". There was separation between the King and Matrona in respect of the outer world and so came about a separation in the Divine Name, for the final HE was detached and came down on earth, the source of graces coming with her.
Though it is forbidden to separate the Heavenly Bride and Bridegroom, even in thought, it is this which has come to pass by reason of the sufferings of Israel, with whom Shekinah was destined - as we have seen - to endure even from the beginning. "When Israel is in exile the Shekinah is also in exile. It is for this reason that the Holy One will remember Israel," meaning that He remembers His covenant, which is Shekinah." ... Her shame is the defiled body of man. Again, she is in separation from the King owing to the wickedness of man, and though she does not leave him the sin of Israel causes her to turn away. To sum up on this subject, she was driven out of the Garden of Eden with Adam, like a wife sent away by her husband; but it was for the salvation of the world.
In another aspect of symbolism she is that great and wide sea mentioned in Ps 104:25 and she embraces the whole world, which is concentrated in her. She is the jubilee above - presumably on account of joy.
The Shekinah is held to connect in a particular sense with the patriarchal age. It was after his circumcision that the letter HE was added to the name of Abram and it was also thereafter that he was united - as we have found - with Shekinah. Most of the divine visions beheld by Abraham were visions and manifestations of Shekinah who dwelt constantly in the tent of Sarah, and this is why Abraham as we have seen - on appearing in the presence of Pharaoh, described Sarah as his sister, not as his wife, his reference being really to Shekinah. ... She was present when Isaac blessed Jacob ; it was she who conferred upon Jacob the name of Israel" . ... When seeking a wife it was with Shekinah that Jacob united his intention, and hence it is said - in characteristic Zoharic symbolism-that when he married Rachel he united heaven and earth. Shekinah, however, did not ignore or forget Leah but - as the Holy Spirit - inspired her, so that she knew respecting her part in the bearing of the twelve tribes.
It was [Moses] who attracted again the Shekinah to Israel and it is said that she never quitted him from the day of his birth ... and Shekinah reposed upon the nuptial bed of the parents of Moses. The exodus brought about by Moses occasioned, moreover, the manifestation of Shekinah before the people of Israel, she being the pillar of fire by night, as Jehovah was that of cloud by day. ... Finally, and most important of all, Moses caused Shekinah to manifest in the Ark of the Covenant. The Tabernacle was erected to serve as her residence ... What seems to have happened, however, was that the Mosaic Tabernacle became - the residence of METATRON.
Alternatively it was a cloud that rose up to veil her presence, and dissolved when she went forth. It is called smoke by the ZOHAR, Which also gives the reason, according to its own fantastic symbolism - namely, that Shekinah had been drawn into this'world by the fire which burns in the hearts of the patriatchs. The male principle or Jehovah is said further to have spoken from the Tabernacle by the intermediation of Shekinah, who is the female principle. The Tabernacle itself - as we have seen - is Shekinah under another aspect, much as the tent of Sarah is so called on occasion, because she and the Divine Bride dwelt therein.
We know by the scriptural account that in the temple of Solomon the Shekinah continued to repose between the wings of the Kerubim. She is described as resident throughout the Holy of Holies. ... The Holy of Holies was guarded moreover by METATRON and was built for the union of the King and MATRONA.
In the Second Temple the Shekinah had no part, though by the hypothesis of the subject she had followed her people into the exile of Babylon and helped them to remember Zion by its sad waters.
Albeit the Sons of the Doctrine had their dark moments during that day of a thousand years or over which followed the destruction of Jerusalem, at some period of which the ZOHAR entered into record, and though some of their sayings in these moments haunt the heart with their catholic sense of unavailingness, the mood and its clouds lifted ever and unerringly. Deeper still in their own hearts they knew that they had not been deserted, that on account of the Betrothed of God Israel was not forsaken by Him.
The destruction of the two Temples dried up the sources of the Shekinah above and below. She and Israel are in exile together, in sorrow and loss together, and the path of penitence trodden by the one is the path of emancipation for both. Meanwhile, "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof ; the world, and they that dwell therein" ; but the fullness thereof is a reference to Shekinah, as an ample moon enlightened over its surface by the sun.
Moreover, the exile of Shekinah with Israel, and her residence among other peoples, has its train of extrinsic consequences in the peace and benefits which are enjoyed by the latter. This is the sense in which it is said that other nations have attracted the Shekinah towards them. Indeed her perfection is throughout the whole earth and her benedictions are over all the world, for Elohim is a Mystery of Life and the Source of all life.
Sin drives away Shekinah from the Earth. The generation of Noah sinned in the sight of the whole world, and the Shekinah was far from the world; When owing to the wickedness of the world the latter has been left by Shekinah it is deprived of all defence, and the severity of justice reigns therein; After the guilty have been exterminated the Shekinah returns.
To sum up: the wounds of the world and the wounds of the Church in the world may be wide and deep ; but the Church and the world go on, for ten persons in the House of Prayer constitute the body of Shekinah and there is a very much truer sense than was ever conceived by the ZOHAR in which those ten are never wanting: the elect are everywhere the true Israel, and it is thanks to Israel that Shekinah resides on Earth, Israel being its bodyguard. In thousands and tens of thousands of cases, all the wide world over, it is true and glorious that man acknowledges the kingdom of heaven and submits thereto ; that the Shekinah rests upon his head, assisting him in the quality of witness ; that she testifies before the Sacred King how this man proclaims the Divine Unity. ... Thus is Jerusalem rebuilt for ever in the heart ; the Shekinah goes up into the high mountain and announces its reconstruction to the patriarchs. In these also she herself is delivered, and they dwell together henceforward in the Holy Land.
It is a foretaste of that time when all peoples shall enter under the wings of Shekinah, as also of the day to come when evil shall be exterminated entirely and there shall be the same solemnity of festival as when the Holy One, blessed be He, created heaven and earth. Let us therefore join our voice to those ... who say that the Covenant with Shekinah will endure for ever.
When the Created or External Law is broken below it is as if the sinner rent or removed the vestments of Shekinah, while alternatively those who observe the commandments have the same merit as if they clothed the Shekinah with garments. Such is the work of sanctity in the higher conventions, according to the reverie of Israel. The MISHNA is the servant of Shekinah and is also that help - meet for man which is promised in Scripture.
All the angels open their wings to receive the Shekinah by prayer, and those on Earth who wish their prayers to reach heaven should unite themselves with the Shekinah. Whereas the gates of the palaces to which prayers ascend commonly have numerous guardians, those of the palace of Shekinah have none, and prayers enter unhindered. It will seem at first sight that she occupies in Kabbalism the same position of intercessor which is ascribed to the Blessed Virgin by the devotion of the Latin Church
The question arises naturally whether [Shekhinah] is the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Christian Trinity. Those who are acquainted with Theology will know that the Third Person is not recognised as feminine and is believed to emanate from the Son and the Father.
The association of Shekinah meant the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Here again is at least the close connection in virtue of which the one is not without the other, and the kind of nearness is illustrated more clearly by another passage which speaks of that day when God shall pour upon us the Holy Spirit of His Shekinah. It would seem again to be the breath of Shekinah. Once more it is said that the Holy Spirit is called Zoth being the name which designates the sign of the Sacred Covenant imprinted on man
The most important consideration which arises out of the whole subiect is after what manner we are to regard essentially this Cohabiting or Indwelling Glory which is termed Shekinah in Scripture and in the sacred texts of the ZOHAR. We know that it dwelt between the Kerubim in the Tabemacle or Ark of Moses, and the Kerubim are said to have been male and female, types in the Sanctuary of Israel of things manifested on earth as types in their turn of the union that is above. When a mean is taken between all the cloud of references, it calls for no gift of interpretation to discern what hes with uttermost plainness on the surface ; but we have explained nothing which is vital if we say that Shekinah is the principle of Divine Motherhood - that is, the feminine side of Divinity, implied in the logic of our symbolism when we speak of the Fatherhood in God. It is a case of being true to our symbols, and though this is of consequence intellectually, it remains thereat. If we turn to the analogy which subsists in virtue of the symbolism between womanhood above and that which is found below, we shall not proceed much further if there is brought home to us merely the notion that the office of the mother on earth is made sacred in a sense that is above the hallowed sense of Nature by the conception of its archetype in heaven. It has been present to us through all the Christian centuries in the popular and most catholic devotion to the Queen of Heaven, which, like so many other popular interests, but those more especially that are consecrated by the greatest of all the Churches, adumbrates a vital truth in the spiritual life and a first principle in the world of reality. lt has been a very sincere and whole-hearted devotion in those who have been drawn thereto ; but the particular doctrine of miraculous and virgin birth, though eloquent and suggestive within its own measures, creates a clear line of demarcation between subject and object.
Now, there are no prayers to Shekinah in the official liturgies of Jewish religion ; but in the Secret Church of Israel, frequented in spirit and in truth by the Sons of the Doctrine, she is either the House of Prayer or else abides therein, and we have seen that her doors are open to prayers for ever. She was the great object of prayer, though it is to be questioned whether it was by the way of prescribed forms : it was rather by that prayer in the stillness of unexpressed thought about which we hear in the ZOHAR.
The reason is ready to our hands, and the first light which may be said to fall on our subject is that the Shekinah is an Indwelling Glory. ... The proper word is inbabitans, for it is said that the Shekinah dwells in man,' being in the hearts of those who seek after good works zealously. And more definitely: Man is the House of Shekinah. The beginning of this inhabitation is when man makes a firm effort towards self-amendment, for by such turning the Shekinah is drawn towards him, and to this condition are applied the words : "I am my beloved's and his desire is towards me." Those with whom she dwells are those who are humbled and even broken by suffering. Yet does she reign only where there is joy rather than sadness. The suffering is, however, more especially that of which the root or cause is in love, being the fate of those who are consumed by the love of the Divine: These are the Brothers of Shekinah.
Again, it is said that the work of Shekinah below is comparable to that which the soul accomplishes in the body: more accurately still it is the same work, and this enables us to understand in what sense she is termed the soul of the Tabernacle below, which Tabernacle is the sacred body of man.
I have called these intimations a first light, but I have not intended to exaggerate their value as such. I speak as a mystic; we have heard for two thousand years that God is within and His kingdom, yet the world remains comparable rather to the wilderness without the Holy City than to the blessed Zion ; and if Shekinah is offered to us in the secret literature of Jewry as that aspect of the Divine Nature or Principle which is realisable by the heart of man, I do not see that we have added anything to our subject. It is idle to decode books of Secret Doctrine unless they have something more definite to tell us concerning the way, the truth and the life.
There have been recurring intimations there and here in these pages concerning - a Mystery of Sex; it is imposed upon me now to affirm that this is the Mystery of Shekinah ; and the nature of such Mystery corresponds - according to its veiled claim - with the definition which I have just given concerning a knowledge and an experience. The point and centre of the whole subject is the Indwelling Glory ; it is declared everywhere, but everywhere also it is concealed : one aspect of its presentation- amidst great hiddenness of wording - suggests that the entrance of the High Priest into the Holy of Holies belongs to the Mystery of Sex ... [however one should note that] ... according to the ZOHAR, the union of male and female is Modesty, and that the title to behold the face of Shekinah is one of purity. It seems true therefore to say that she is the Law of the Mystery, and the ZOHAR quotes concerning her, " When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleeper, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee." The study of this Law is life eternal.
It is said further that the Mystery of Shekinah comprises all women, and this - as we have seen - is why she does not abide except with him who is united to a woman. She is fixed definitely in the house of man when he marries. ... Husband and wife are one, and a ray of celestial grace covers them; it descends from CHOKMAH, penetrates the male principle, and the latter communicates it to the female. We can understand therefore in what sense her shame is the defiled body of man, and how she is weighted by the sin of Israel. The reason is that she is a virgin betrothed to the Middle Pillar, and of her it was said by Adam in the great day of his perfection: " This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh," which is to affirm that in one of her aspects she is the type of stainless womanhood ; but she passes ever into espousals below - as she is ever in espousals above - for the fulfilment of herself in humanity, and of all humanity in her.
The evidence is that when there is a just man on earth the Shekinah cleaves to him and does not leave him henceforth. It will be observed that in order to gain the particular point at a given moment the ZOHAR is valiantly careless of that which goes before, as of that which may be designed to come after. The history of the Fall of man through the intermediation of woman, acting under the virus of the serpent, is by no means the history of Shekinah, unless under a special aspect and as a remote reflection; but when it is sought to shew that she is nearer to the elect than hands and feet are near, it is difficult to find anything more complete in its correspondence than such words as "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."
So also when the ZOHAR wishes to apply that idea of a "field which the Lord hath blessed" to the Mystery of Sex, it is not above saying that the King who "tills the field" or is "served by the field" is the Shekinah, sex-contradiction notwithstanding. The object is to indicate that the dwelling of Shekinah in the house of those who are married is to bring about the descent of souls to animate children under her presidency.
But perhaps there was never an instance so much to our purpose as the statement that on the day when the Song of Solomon was revealed below, the Shekinah descended as if for the first time, though we know that she had been with man from the beginning and had shared in the whole creation. The object, however, is to shew that this glorious canticle is the world's history of her in man, the beginning and end of all that belongs to the union, the Mystery of the Lover and the Beloved throughout the ages of election. It is the summary of Holy Scripture ; it is the work of creation ... it contains all that hath been, is and ever shall be, for it is the glory of that Isis who is Shekinah, from the first verses concerning the kisses of his mouth to the last rapture on the mountain of spices.
Now, it is said that there is desire on the part of man to be united with the Mother in transcendence as well as with the Mother below, to attain her by perfection and to be blessed on account of her. We know that this is a desire for Divine Union because Jehovah is Elohim, and in case such testimony should not be found full or sufficient, the ZOHAR adds elsewhere that the memorable words: "I am that I am" signify in their inward sense - "I the Holy One, blessed be He, am the Shekinah. It is certain that the state of union is not only deeper than the state of vision but differs generically therefrom. ... It is affirmed in reference to this that those only who quit the lower world in the grace of Shekinah are judged worthy of eternal life. So also there are some who do not die as men die commonly, but are ravished by the attraction which Shekinah exercises on their souIs. The Mother in transcendence is, however, like the Mother below, and spiritual communion with her is in so far as man has become a house or abode by attaching himself to the female : it is then that the Divine Mother pours down her blessings on both. There is - in the true sense of this term - a spiritual union below for the Sons of the Doctrine, so that they are encompassed by two females - the wife who is on earth and the Unseen Helpmate.
It must be said that the women of Israel are never present at the debates, but their place in the house insured that of the Divinity.
It is scarcely desirable at this stage to speak of anything so obvious and familiar as the known characteristics of oriental imagery, to recall for example the personifications of Wisdom in the books ascribed to King Solomon ; but the literary vestures of these experienced two curious developments. The titles and offices of the Hebrew CHOKMAH were raised bodily from their setting and transferred to the Blessed Virgin by the compilers of the Roman Breviary, while through another channel they passed over to the Gnostic SOPHIA and by a last transition into the Virgin Wisdom of Jacob Bohme and the later mystics of his school. The correspondences between Shekinah and the Christian Mother of God are rather plausible on the surface and may be deceptive to that extent, because shallow analogies still deceive many ; but even the unusual predispositions which led up to the French translation of the ZOHAR have not permitted its editors to postulate that Shekinah is a veil of Mary.
Shekinah, as the president of a Mystery of Sex, is the direction in which we must look if - as labourers in this strange field-we are to obtain our wages.
THE COMING OF MESSIAH
There is no question that the Kabbalistic teaching concerning a Deliverer to come should begin by a consideration of Talmudic intimations on the subject; for these are many and important within their own measures. There is unfortunately no space for such an extension of the materials already in my hands, but there are several sources of information which are open to any reader, and indeed the whole subject is available if he can have recourse to the French rendering of the JERUSALEM TALMUD and even to the unscholarly English version of the BABYLONIAN TALMUD which appeared some years since in America. Outside this question of the past, the first thing for us to realise on out own part is that there is not one line, and much less one page, in the ZOHAR, which can be constructed according to its proper sense on the assumption that a Messiah has appeared already in Israel, while there is consequently nothing that can be applied to a Second Advent of the Christ of Nazareth. ... The points of analogy between Kabbalistic and Christian doctrine are many and eloquent in their way, but they belong to another order.
The first question which concerns us is that of Messianic expecations in mystical Israel. The elect-and if these are more especially the Sons of the Doctrine it is in the sense that the greater imitate the lesser, meaning the race of chosen people-the elect must hope always for the coming of the man of holiness, for it is said: " I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth His face from the house of Israel, and I will look to Him." He is the man in transcendence, the man who is allocated in one place to the SEPHIRA CHOKMAH, but the point is of great complexity and its elucidation belongs to a subsequent part of our research. It is said further that He is the "man more precious than fine gold" who is mentioned by Isaiah and it is on record also that He shall be raised above all the inhabitants of the world, who will adore Him, prostrated in His presence.
As a further witness respecing His eternal generation, the Spirit of Elohim which brooded over the face of the waters is sometimes regarded as the Spirit of Messiah, who has washed His robes in heavenly wine from the creation of the world. He is also the sacred moon on high, having no other light than that which it receives from the sun above ; but it is to be noted that the Shekinah is also symbolised by the moon and this has led to a precarious and indeed impossible identification of the Messiah as the Shekinah incarnate. It might be said on the same evidence that Solomon was an incarnation of Messiah and Moses also, for both had the moon as a symbol.
According to MIDRASH TALPIGOTH, the Messiah will bring eternal peace, which of course was understood by the Israelites as peace for Israel, plus that which may follow extermination for all who did not enter by conversion into the House of Jacob. It is said in the ZOHAR that, according to tradition, wherever Solomon is mentioned in the Song of Solomon this King of Peace is designated. Conversion at the Messianic period will be apparently on a great scale, because all the nations of the world will gather about the King Messiah when He shall be manifested. Seeing that these words of the Scripture must be fulfilled: "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people ; to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his reft shall be glorious." It will be a time for the revelation of mysteries which the will of God has concealed through the ages, but as the day of the King approaches even little children shall know the Mysteries of Wisdom.
It will be also a time of union, for in the Sabbatic millenary the Holy One will accomplish union between souls. All the blessings of Israel will be realised in Israel, which will form one people only on earth, and I will make them one nation in the Lord." The meaning seems to be that all nations shall become one nation of the Holy One; but the great war of the world will precede this.
[In] the French ZOHAR ... it would seem at first sight that there are several Messiahs to come. There is he who is to be the Son of Ischai, said to be master of all, by whom the earth is nourished. There is secondly the Son of Ephraim, of whom it is testified that he will be driven back from Rome. Three personalities are mentioned, each of them once or twice only, and it is suggested in the notes-but without offering a reason - that the second is identified with the third Messiah, who is the Son of Joseph. The fourth is the Son of David, and both are mentioned in the TALMUD; but one of the " Omissions " given in the first appendix to the first part of the ZOHAR affirms that the laft two are one. Certain MIDRASHIM are said to agree, but the distincion for what it is worth remains perfectly clear in the Talmudic references, according to which the Son of Joseph will suffer a violent death and will be succeeded by the Son of David.
Elsewhere in the ZOHAR it is denied that the Son of Joseph will be killed because he is compared to an ox and evil has no hold over him. It is of this Messiah that it is said in Scripture : " He was wounded for our transgressions . . . and with his tripes we are healed." On the contrary, the fact that he will die is reaffirmed a few folios subsequently. It is said also that one of these alternative deliverers is poor and mounted on an ass, while the other is the first-born of a bull. They are the two Kerubim stationed before the Garden of Eden; the Flaming Sword is METATRON, but at this point the symbolism passes into a wilderness of confusion where it is impossible and would serve no purpose to follow it.
I do not know that we need come to any decision as to the number of Messiahs ; it does not look in the Zohar as if they can mean states of one personality, which is the opinion of the editors, for in another place the text explains by an accident what is meant by a previous identification : it is said that the Messiah who is the Son of Joseph will be united - that is, in his mission - to the Son of David but will be slain. The one is the conqueror of the great Rome and the other of the little Rome whatever the distinction between these cities may signify. The number 60 is fixed for the manifestation of the first and the number 6 for that of the second. I do not pretend to explain the mysticism of these numbers, but I note that the number 6 is represented by Vau and the Son of David is connected with this number.
It is obvious that it is convenient for purposes of Christian interpretation to identify the Son of David and Joseph, as Jesus of Nazareth was both. I should add in this connection that the words "lowly and riding on an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass," which are referred to Messiah are not understood literally, for the ass represents that demon which shall be curbed by the King to come. The time of the coming of Messiah will be when an souls who are kept in the treasury of souls against the day of their incarnation shall have actually come hither in flesh. Thereafter it would seem that new souls will be incarnated in Israel. Then shall the chosen people deserve to find - and shall not fail herein - the beloved and sister-soul predestined to each from the beginning of creation. It is in allusion to this that the Scripture says A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you." (Ezek 36:26) And again: " It shall come to pass that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. (joel 2:28)
The Intruders shall be exterminated at the time when this shall be accomplished, which is said to be of old tradition. To this period there is referable also that text of Genesis which says that Adam and Eve were " naked and not ashamed," the reason being that the Intruders are the cause of luxury and when they disappear all leaning towards incontinence will vanish in like wise. ...
It is a change come over the dream of Israel, so that it shall enter into its own on all the planes and in all the worlds by the help of the "right spirit" renewed within them. This is the Spirit of Messiah, as it is written: " Renew a right spirit within me." And as we know that the Christ, Who is to come in each one of us, Who is of Nazareth and of all the local habitations of the mastery, Who is son of David, son of Joseph, Heir of the true legitimacy, stands ever at the door and knocks, that rectified period is the one when all portals shall open 'so that He shall be welcomed in all the ways. Out of the heart and the mind shall the Intruders be cast once and for all, and the soul shall find the Spouse. We might come to a pause at this point on the subject of the Messiah in Israel, according to the lights and shadows of the Secret Doctrine. It is a forecast of that time when the Mystery of Union which is now a Mystery of Faith shall have entered into realisation in experience on this earth of ours as in the world above there is no diftinction between Shekinah and the Holy One, so in that which is below there will be such a spiritual communion between the Lover and the Beloved that the voice of the turtle, which is the Song of Solomon, shall be heard everywhere, and of that time it may be said: "The male with the female, neither male nor female."
There are, however, some further points which, being of an external kind, are of the shadows rather than the lights, though there is one which is a light of symbolism, so it shall stand first in the sequence. In the time of the letter HE that is, when the HE shall rise from the earth - God will fulfil that which is mentioned in Isaiah 22:60. "I the Lord will hasten it in his time " ; but the Zohar gives : " I am the Lord ; and it is I who will hasten these marvels when the time thereof shall have come." When Israel was driven from its abode the letters of the Sacred Name were separated one from another, if it be permissible so to speak ; the He, was separated from the Vau, and hence the Psalmist 39:2 said : I am dumb with silence. When the Vau is separated from the HE the Word is stilled. The day of the letter HE is the fifth millenary-the period of Israel in exile. When the sixth millenary comes, the VAU shall raise up the HE, and Israel shall be lifted also from the dust. After six hundred years of the sixth millenary the Gates of Supreme Wisdom shall open, and the spring; of Wisdom shall begin to pour upon this world, which will make ready to enter worthily into the seventh millenary, and this latter will constitute the Sabbath of creation. Assuming that we have a proper point of departure for calculation, we have in another place the exact year of the Messiah's advent. When sixty years shall have elapsed after the sixth century of the sixth millenary, it is said that heaven shall visit the daughter of 'Jacob. In the seventieth year the King Messiah shall be revealed in the province of Galilee.
The portents will be as follows :
(1) The rainbow-which is now tarnished, because it serves only as a memorial that the world will be destroyed no more by a deluge - will shine with very brilliant dyes, like a betrothed lady adorning herself to enter into the presence of her spouse.'
(2) A star will rise in the East and swallow up seven stars in the North.
(3) Presumably after a period, a fixed star will appear in the middle of the firmament and will be visible for seventy days. It will have seventy rays and will be surrounded by seventy other stars.
(4) The city of Rome will fall to pieces -an intimation which should be of moment to the hot gospel of certain protestant second-advent preachers, whose vestiges remain among us.
(5) A great King will rise up and will conquer the world. There will be war against Israel, but the chosen people shall be delivered. According to one account, the seventy celestial chiefs who rule the seventy nations of the earth will marshal all the legions of the world to make war on the sacred city of Jerusalem, but they will be exterminated by the power of the Holy One. It is written: " And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble. As such stubble, by such fire and flame shall the nations perish. Thereafter the King Messiah will cause Jerusalem to be rebuilt; the Holy One will remember that Covenant which He has made with Israel; and in such day will David be also raised up. The Messiah will draw to him the whole world; it shall be so to the end of the century ; and then the Vau shall be united with the HE.
It will be the period of true bridals ; the Messiah will bring about union between the Palaces above and below, as also between EL and SHADDAI." The soul of Messiah is pre-existent in common with all souls, and its present place, according to the prevailing opinion, is in the Garden of Eden, but the teftimony is not in full accord and it must be left open as to whether this is the Eden above or that which is below. Wheresoever it be, there is a most secret place in the hiddenness which is called the Bird's Nest, and therein he abides.'
In the Paradise there is also a certain place which is called the Palace of the Sick ; the Messiah enters therein and calls upon all the diseases, sorrows and troubles of Israel in exile to assail himself, and this comes to pass accordingly. Were it otherwise there is no one who could suffer the penalty due to his misdeeds. Hence it is said: " Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. So long as Israel dwelt 'In the Holy Land, and sacrifices were offered therein, Israel was preserved thereby from all maladies and penalties : now it is the Messiah who bears them-as it is affirmed, for the whole world; but I fear that this can be understood only as the world of Israel.
I have left one statement till the last, that it may land for the present by itself, because we shall recur thereto at a point which is still far away. It is said almost at the beginning of the ZOHAR, and in, that part which is called PRELIMINARIES, that God created man with the object of preparing for the advent of the Lesser Countenance - that Divine Son corresponding to the letter Vau, about Whom we have heard in several of the previous sections.