(Translated from the Original Hebrew by
William Wynn Westcott)
Yetzirah is one of the most famous of the ancient Qabalistic texts. It was
first put into writing around 200 AD. Westcott's Translation of the Sepher
Yetzirah was a primary source for the rituals and Knowledge Lectures of the
Golden Dawn. This is the Third Edition of Westcott's translation, first
published in 1887.
The "Sepher Yetzirah," or
"Book of Formation," is perhaps the oldest Rabbinical treatise of
Kabalistic philosophy which is still extant. The great interest which has been
evinced of 1ate years in the Hebrew Kabalah, and the modes of thought and
doctrine allied to it, has induced me to translate this tractate from the
original Hebrew texts, and to collate with them the Latin versions of mediaeval
authorities; and I have also published An Introduction to the Kabalah
which may be found useful to students.
Three important books of the
"Zohar," or "Book of Splendor," which is a great storehouse
of Kabalistic teaching, have been translated into English by S. L. MacGregor
Mathers, and the "Sepher Yetzirah" in an English translation is almost
a necessary companion to these abstruse disquisitions: the two books indeed
mutually explain each other.
The "Sepher Yetzirah,"
although this name means "The Book of Formation," is not in any sense
a narrative of Creation, or a substitute Genesis, but is an ancient and
instructive philosophical treatise upon one aspect of the origin of the universe
and mankind; an aspect at once archaic and essentially Hebrew. The grouping of
the processes of origin into an arrangement, at once alphabetic and numeral, is
one only to be found in Semitic authors. Attention must be called to the
essential peculiarity of the Hebrew language, the inextricable and necessary
association of numbers and letters; every letter suggesting a number, and every
group of letters having a numerical signification, as vital as its literal
meaning. The Kabalistic principles involved in the reversal of Hebrew letters,
and their substitution by others, on definite schemes, should also be studied
and borne in mind.
It is exactly on these principles that
the "ground-work idea" 'of this disquisition rests; and these
principles may be traced throughout the Kabalistic tractates which have
succeeded it in point of time and development, many of which are associated
together in one volume known as the "Zohar," which is in the main
concerned with the essential dignities of the Godhead, with the Emanations which
have sprung therefrom, with the doctrine of the Sephiroth, the ideals of
Macroprosopus and Microprosopus, and the doctrine of Re-incarnation.
The "Sepher Yetzirah," on the
other hand, is mainly concerned with our universe and with the Microcosm. The
opinions of Hebrew Kabalistic Rabbis and of modern mystics may be fitly
introduced here. The following interesting quotation is from Rabbi Moses
Botarel, who wrote his famous Commentary in 1409:--"It was Abraham our
Father--blessed be he--who wrote this book to condemn the doctrine of the sages
of his time, who were incredulous of the supreme dogma of the Unity. At least,
this was the opinion of Rabbi Saadiah--blessed be he--as written in the first
chapter of his book The Philosopher's Stone. These are his words: The
sages of Babylon attacked Abraham on account of his faith; for they were all
against him although themselves separable into three sects. The First thought
that the Universe was subject to the control of two opposing forces, the one
existing but to destroy the other, this is dualism; they held that there was
nothing in common between the author of evil and the author of good. The Second
sect admitted Three great Powers; two of them as in the first case, and a third
Power whose function was to decide between the two others, a supreme arbitrator.
The Third sect recognized no god beside the Sun, in which it recognized the sole
principle of existence."
Rabbi Judah Ha Lévi (who flourished
about 1120), in his critical description of this treatise, wrote: "The
Sepher Yetzirah teaches us the existence of a Single Divine Power by showing us
that in the bosom of variety and multiplicity there is a Unity and Harmony, and
that such universal concord could only arise from the rule of a Supreme
Unity." According to Isaac Myer, in his Quabbalah (p. 159), the
"Sepher Yetzirah" was referred to in the writings of Ibn Gebirol of
Cordova, commonly called Avicebron, who died in A.D. 1070.
Eliphas Levi, the famous French
Occultist, thus wrote of the "Sepher Yetzirah," in his Histoire de
la Magie, p. 54: "The Zohar is a Genesis of illumination, the Sepher
Jezirah is a ladder formed of truths. Therein are explained the thirty-two
absolute signs of sounds, numbers and letters: each letter reproduces a number,
an idea and a form; so that mathematics are capable of application to ideas and
to forms not less rigorously than to numbers, by exact proportion and perfect
correspondence. By the science of the Sepher Jezirah the human spirit is fixed
to truth, and in reason, and is able to take account of the possible development
of intelligence by the evolutions of numbers. The Zohar represents absolute
truth, and the Sepher Jezirah provides the means by which we may seize,
appropriate and make use of it."
Upon another page Eliphas Lévi writes:
"The Sepher Jezirah and the Apocalypse are the masterpieces of Occultism;
they contain more wisdom than words; their expression is as figurative as
poetry, and at the same time it is as exact as mathematics. In the volume
entitled La Kabbale by the eminent French scholar, Adolphe Franck, there
is a chapter on the "Sepher Yetzirah." He writes as follows:
"The Book of Formation contains, I
will not say system of physics, but of cosmology such as could be conceived at
an age and in a country where the habit of explaining all phenomena by the
immediate action of the First Cause, tended to check the spirit of observation,
and where in consequence certain general and superficial relations perceived in
the natural world passed for the science of Nature."…"Its form is
simple and grave; there is nothing like a demonstration nor an argument; but it
consists rather of a series of aphorisms, regularly grouped, and which have all
the conciseness of the most ancient oracles."
In his analysis of the "Sepher
Yetzirah," he adds:--"The Book of Formation, even if it be not very
voluminous, and if it do not altogether raise us to very elevated regions of
thought, yet offers us at least a composition which is very homogeneous and of a
rare originality. The clouds which the imagination of commentators have gathered
around it, will be dissipated, if we look for, in it, not mysteries of ineffable
wisdom, but an attempt at a reasonable doctrine, made when reason arose, an
effort to grasp the plan of the universe, and to secure the link which binds to
one common principle, all the elements which are around us. The last word of
this system is the substitution of the absolute divine Unity for every idea of
Dualism, for that pagan philosophy which saw in matter an eternal substance
whose laws were not in accord with Divine Will; and for the Biblical doctrine,
which by its idea of Creation, postulates two things, the Universe and God, as
two substances absolutely distinct one from the other. In fact, in the 'Sepher
Yetzirah,' God considered as the Infinite and consequently the indefinable
Being, extended throughout all things by his power and existence, is while
above, yet not outside of numbers, sounds and letters--the principles and
general laws which we recognize. "Every element has its source from a
higher form, and all things have their common origin from the Word (Logos),
the Holy Spirit…. So God is at once, in the highest sense, both the matter and
the form of the universe. Yet He is not only that form; for nothing can
or does exist outside of Himself; His substance is the foundation of all, and
all things bear His imprint and are symbols of His intelligence."
Hebrew tradition assigns the doctrines
of the oldest portions of the "Zohar" to a date antecedent to the
building of the Second Temple, but Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai, who lived in the
reign of the Emperor Titus, A.D. 70-80, is considered to have been the first to
commit these to writing, and Rabbi Moses de Leon, of Guadalaxara, in Spain, who
died in 1305, certainly reproduced and published the "Zohar."
Ginsburg, speaking of the Zoharic
doctrines of the Ain Suph, says that they were unknown until the thirteenth
century, but he does not deny the great antiquity of the "Sepher
Yetzirah," in which it will be noticed the "Ain Suph Aur" and
"Ain Suph" are not mentioned. I suggest, however, that this omission
is no proof that the doctrines of "Ain Suph Aur" and "Ain
Suph" did not then exist, because it is a reasonable supposition that the
"Sepher Yetzirah" was the volume assigned to the Yetziratic World, the
third of the four Kabalistic Worlds of Emanation, while the "Asch
Metzareph" is concerned with the Assiatic, fourth, or lowest World of
Shells, and is on the face of it an alchemical treatise; and again the
"Siphra Dtzenioutha" may be fittingly considered to be an Aziluthic
work, treating of the Emanations of Deity alone; and there was doubtless a
fourth work assigned to the World of Briah--the second type, but I have not been
able to identify this treatise. Both the Babylonian and the Jerusalem Talmuds
refer to the "Sepher Yetzirah." Their treatise, named
"Sanhedrin," certainly mentions the "Book of Formation," and
another similar work; and Rashi in his commentary on the treatise
"Erubin," considers this a reliable historical notice. Other
historical notices are those of Saadya Gaon, who died A.D. 940, and Judah Ha
Levi, A.D. 1150; both these Hebrew classics speak of it as a very ancient work.
Some modern critics have attributed the authorship to the Rabbi Akiba, who lived
in the time of the Emperor Hadrian, A.D. 120, and lost his life in supporting
the claims of Barchocheba, a false messiah: others suggest it was first written
about A.D. 200.
Graetz however assigns it to early
Gnostic times, third or fourth century, and Zunz speaks of it as post
Talmudical, and belonging to the Geonim period 700-800 A.D.; Rubinsohn, in the Bibliotheca
Sacra, speaks of this latter idea as having no real basis. The Talmuds were
first collected into a concrete whole, and printed in Venice, 1520 A.D.
The "Zohar" was first printed
in Mantua in 1558; again in Cremona, 1560; and at Lublin, 1623; and a fourth
edition by Knorr von Rosenroth, at Sulzbach in 1684. Some parts are not very
ancient, because the Crusades are mentioned in one chapter. Six extant Hebrew
editions of the "Sepher Yetzirah" were collected and printed at
Lemberg in 1680. The oldest of these six recensions was that of Saadjah Gaon (by
some critics called spurious). There are still extant three Latin versions, viz.,
that of Gulielmus Postellus; one by Johann Pistorius; and a third by Joannes
Stephanus Rittangelius; this latter gives both Hebrew and Latin versions, and
also "The Thirty-Two Paths" as a supplement.
There is a German translation, by Johann
Friedrich von Meyer, dated 1830; a version by Isidor Kalisch, in which he has
reproduced many of the valuable annotations of Meyer; an edition in French by
Papus, 1888; an edition in French by Mayer Lambert, 1891, with the Arabic
Commentary of Saadya Gaon; and an English edition by Peter Davidson, 1896, to
which are added "The Fifty Gates of Intelligence" and "The
Thirty-Two Ways of Wisdom." The edition which I now offer is fundamentally
that of the ancient Hebrew codices translated into English, and collated with
the Latin versions of Pistorius, Postellus, and Rittangelius, following the
latter, rather than the former commentators. As to the authenticity of "The
Sepher Yetzirah," students may refer to the Bibliotheca magna Rabbinica
of Bartoloccio de Cellerio, Rome, 1678-1692; to Basnage, History of the Jews,
1708; and to The Doctrine and Literature of the Kabalah, by A. B. Waite,
The "Sepher Yetzirah" consists
of six chapters, having 33 paragraphs distributed among them, in this manner:
the first has 12, then follow 5, 5, 4, 3, and 4. Yet in some versions the
paragraphs and subject-matter are found in a different arrangement. The oldest
title has, as an addition, the words, "The Letters of our Father
Abraham" or "ascribed to the patriarch Abraham," and it is spoken
of as such by many mediaeval authorities: but this origin is doubtless fabulous,
although perhaps not more improbable than the supposed authorship of the
"Book of Enoch," mentioned by St. Jude, of which two MSS. copies in
the Ethiopic language were rescued from the wilds of Abyssinia in 1773 by the
great traveller James Bruce. In essence this work was, doubtless, the
crystallisation of centuries of tradition, by one writer, and it has been added
to from time to time, by later authors, who have also revised it. Some of the
additions, which were rejected even by mediaeval students, I have not
incorporated with the text at all, and I present in this volume only the
undoubted kernel of this occult nut, upon which many great authorities, Hebrew,
German, Jesuit and others, have written long Commentaries, and yet have failed
to explain satisfactorily. I find Kalisch, speaking of these Commentaries, says,
"they contain nothing but a medley of arbitrary explanations, and
sophistical distortions of scriptural verses, astrological notions, Oriental
superstitions, a metaphysical jargon, a poor knowledge of physics, and not a
correct elucidation of this ancient book." Kalisch, however, was not an
occultist; these commentaries are, however, so extensive as to demand years of
study, and I feel no hesitation in confessing that my researches into them have
been but superficial. For convenience of study I have placed the Notes in a
separate form at the end of the work, and I have made a short definition of the
subject-matter of each chapter. The substance of this little volume was read as
Lecture before "The Hermetic Society of London," in the summer of
1886, Dr. Anna Kingsford, President, in the chair. Some of the Notes were the
explanations given verbally, and subsequently in writing, to members of the
Society who asked for information upon abstruse points in the
"Sepher," and for collateral doctrines; others, of later date, are
answers which have been given to students of Theosophy and Hermetic philosophy,
and to my pupils of the Study Groups of the Rosicrucian Society of England.
SEPHER YETZIRAH (The
Book of Formation)
1. In thirty-two (1)
mysterious Paths of Wisdom did Jah, (2) the Jehovah of hosts,
(3) the God of Israel, (4) the Living Elohim, (5)
the King of ages, the merciful and gracious God, (6) the Exalted One,
the Dweller in eternity, most high and holy--engrave his name by the three
Sepharim (7) --Numbers, Letters, and Sounds.(8)
2. Ten are the ineffable Sephiroth.
(9) Twenty-two are the Letters, the Foundation of all things; there are
Three Mothers, Seven Double and Twelve (10) Simple letters.
3. The ineffable Sephiroth are Ten, as
are the Numbers; and as there are in man five fingers over against five, so over
them is established a covenant of strength, by word of mouth, and by the
circumcision of the flesh. (11)
4. Ten is the number of the ineffable
Sephiroth, ten and not nine, ten and not eleven. Understand this wisdom, and be
wise by the perception. Search out concerning it, restore the Word to its
creator, and replace Him who formed it upon his throne. (12)
5. The Ten ineffable Sephiroth have ten
vast regions bound unto them; boundless in origin and having no ending; an abyss
(13) of good and of ill; measureless height and depth; boundless to the
East and the West; boundless to the North and South; (14) and the
Lord the only God, (15) the Faithful King rules all these from his
holy seat, (16) for ever and ever.
6. The Ten ineffable Sephiroth have the
appearance of the Lightning flash, (17) their origin is unseen and no
end is perceived. The Word is in them as they rush forth and as they return,
they speak as from the whirl-wind, and returning fall prostrate in adoration
before the Throne.
7. The Ten ineffable Sephiroth, whose
ending is even as their origin, are like as a flame arising from a burning coal.
For God (18) is superlative in his Unity, there is none equal unto
Him: what number canst thou place before One.
8. Ten are the ineffable Sephiroth; seal
up thy lips lest thou speak of them, and guard thy heart as thou considerest
them; and if thy mind escape from thee bring it back to thy control; even as it
was said, "running and returning" (the living creatures ran and
returned) (19) and hence was the Covenant made.
9. The ineffable Sephiroth give forth
the Ten numbers. First; the Spirit of the God of the living; (20)
Blessed and more than blessed be the Living God (21) of ages. The
Voice, the Spirit, and the Word, (22) these are the Holy Spirit.
10. Second; from the Spirit He produced
Air, and formed in it twenty-two sounds--the letters; three are mothers, seven
are double, and twelve are simple; but the Spirit is first and above these.
Third; from the Air He formed the Waters, and from the formless and void
(23) made mire and clay, and designed surfaces upon them, and hewed
recesses in them, and formed the strong material foundation. Fourth; from the
Water He formed Fire (24) and made for Himself a Throne of Glory with
Auphanim, Seraphim and Kerubim, (25) as his ministering angels; and
with these three (26) he completed his dwelling, as it is written,
"Who maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flaming fire."
11. He selected three letters from among
the simple ones and sealed them and formed them into a Great Name, I H V,
(28) and with this He sealed the universe in six directions.
Fifth; He looked above, and sealed the
Height with I H V.
Sixth; He looked below, and sealed the
Depth with I V H.
Seventh; He looked forward, and sealed
the East with H I V.
Eighth; He looked backward, and sealed
the West with H V I.
Ninth; He looked to the right, and
sealed the South with V I H.
Tenth; He looked to the left, and sealed
the North with V H I.
12. Behold! From the Ten ineffable Sephiroth do, proceed--the One Spirit of the Gods of the living, Air, Water, Fire; and also Height, Depth, East, West, South and North. (29)
1. The twenty-two sounds and letters are
the Foundation of all things. Three mothers, seven doubles and twelve simples.
The Three Mothers are Aleph, Mem and Shin, they are Air, Water and Fire Water is
silent, Fire is sibilant, and Air derived from the Spirit is as the tongue of a
balance standing between these contraries which are in equilibrium, reconciling
and mediating between them.
2. He hath formed, weighed, and composed
with these twenty-two letters every created thing, and the form of everything
which shall hereafter be.
3. These twenty-two sounds or letters
are formed by the voice, impressed on the air, and audibly modified in five
places; in the throat, in the mouth, by the tongue, through the teeth, and by
the lips. (31)
4. These twenty-two letters, which are
the foundation of all things, He arranged as upon a sphere with two hundred and
thirty-one gates, and the sphere may be rotated forward or backward, whether for
good or for evil; from the good comes true pleasure, from evil nought but
5. For He shewed the combination of
these letters, each with the other; Aleph with all, and all with Aleph; Beth
with all, and all with Beth. Thus in combining all together in pairs are
produced the two hundred and thirty-one gates of knowledge. (32)
6. And from the non-existent (33) He made Something; and all forms of speech and everything that has been produced; from the empty void He made the material world, and from the inert earth He brought forth everything that hath life. He hewed, as it were, vast columns out of the intangible air, and by the power of His Name made every creature and everything that is; and the production of all things from the twenty-two letters is the proof that they are all but parts of one living body. (34)
The Three Mothers
1. The Foundation of all the other
sounds and letters is provided by the Three Mothers, Aleph, Mem and Shin (A,M,C);
they resemble a Balance, on the one hand the guilty, on the other hand the
purified, and Aleph the Air is like the Tongue of a Balance standing between
2. The Three Mothers, Aleph, Mem and
Shin, are a great Mystery, very admirable and most recondite, and sealed as with
six rings; and from them proceed Air, Fire, and Water, which divide into active
and passive forces. The Three Mothers, Aleph, Mem and Shin, are the Foundation,
from them spring three Fathers, and from these have proceeded all things that
are in the world.
3. The Three Mothers in the world are
Aleph, Mem and Shin: the heavens (36) were produced (37)
from Fire; the earth from the Water; and the Air from the Spirit is as a
reconciler between the Fire and the Water.
4. The Three Mothers, Aleph, Mem and
Shin, Fire, Water and Air, are shown in the Year: from the fire came heat, from
the waters came cold, and from the air was produced the temperate state, again a
mediator between them. The Three Mothers, Aleph, Mem and Shin, Fire, Water and
Air, are found in Man: from the fire was formed the head; from the water the
belly; and from the air was formed the chest, again placed as a mediator between
5. These Three Mothers did He produce and design, and combined them; and He sealed them as the three mothers in the Universe, in the Year and in Man--both male and female. He caused the letter Aleph to reign in Air and crowned it, and combining it with the others He sealed it, as Air in the World, as the temperate (climate) of the Year, and as the breath in the chest (the lungs for breathing air) in Man: the male with Aleph, Mem, Shin, the female with Shin, Mem, Aleph. He caused the letter Mem to reign in Water, crowned it, and combining it with the others formed the earth in the world, cold in the year, and the belly in man, male and female, the former with Mem, Aleph, Shin, the latter with Mem, Shin, Aleph. He caused Shin to reign in Fire, and crowned it, and combining it with the others sealed with it the heavens in the universe, heat in the year and the head in man, male and female. (38)
The Seven Double Letters
1. The Seven double letters, Beth,
Gimel, Daleth, Kaph, Peh, Resh, and Tau (b,g,d,k,p,r,t) have
each two sounds associated with them. They are referred to Life, Peace, Wisdom,
Riches, Grace, Fertility and Power. The two sounds of each letter are the hard
and the soft--the aspirated and the softened. They are called Double, because
each letter presents a contrast or permutation; thus Life and Death; Peace and
War; Wisdom and Folly; Riches and Poverty; Grace and Indignation; Fertility and
Solitude; Power and Servitude.
2. These Seven Double Letters point out
seven localities; Above, Below, East, West, North, South, and the Palace of
Holiness in the midst of them sustaining all things.
3. These Seven Double Letters He
designed, produced, and combined, and formed with them the Planets of this
World, the Days of the Week, and the Gates of the soul (the orifices of
perception) in Man. From these Seven He bath produced the Seven Heavens, the
Seven Earths, the Seven Sabbaths: for this cause He has loved and blessed the
number Seven more than all things under Heaven (His Throne).
4. Two Letters produce two houses; three
form six; four form twenty-four; five form one hundred and twenty; six form
seven hundred and twenty; (39) seven form five thousand and forty;
and beyond this their numbers increase so that the mouth can hardly utter them,
nor the ear hear the number of them. So now, behold the Stars of our World, the
Planets which are Seven; the Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter and
Mars. The Seven are also the Seven Days of Creation; and the Seven Gateways of
the Soul of Man--the two eyes, the two ears, the mouth and the two nostrils. So
with the Seven are formed the seven heavens, (41) the seven earths,
and the seven periods of time; and so has He preferred the number Seven above
all things under His Heaven. (42)
Supplement to Chapter IV
NOTE.--This is one of several modern
illustrations of the allotment of the Seven Letters; it is not found in the
ancient copies of the "Sepher Yetzirah."
He produced Beth, and referred it to
Wisdom ; He crowned it, combined and formed with it the Moon in the Universe,
the first day of the week, and the right eye of man.
He produced Gimel, and referred it to
Health; He crowned it, combined and joined with it Mars in the Universe, the
second day of the week, and the right ear of man.
He produced Daleth, and referred it to
Fertility; He crowned it, combined and formed with it the Sun in the Universe,
the third day of the week, and the right nostril of man.
He produced Kaph, and referred it to
Life; He crowned it, combined and formed with it Venus in the Universe, the
fourth day of the week, and the left eye of man.
He produced Peh, and referred it to
Power; He crowned it, combined and formed with it Mercury in the Universe, the
fifth day of the week, and the left ear of man.
He produced Resh, and referred it to
Peace; He crowned it, combined and formed with it Saturn in the Universe, the
sixth day of the week, and the left nostril of man.
He produced Tau, and referred it to
Beauty; He crowned it, combined and formed with it Jupiter in the Universe, the
Seventh Day of the week, and the mouth of man.
By these Seven letters were also made
seven worlds, seven heavens, seven earths, seven seas, seven rivers, seven
deserts, seven days, seven weeks from Passover to Pentecost, and every seventh
year a Jubilee.
Mayer Lambert gives:--Beth to Saturn and
the Hebrew Sabbath--that is Saturday; Gimel to Jupiter and Sunday; Daleth to
Mars and Monday; Kaph to the Sun and Tuesday; Peh to Venus and Wednesday; Resh
to Mercury and Thursday; and Tau to the Moon and Friday.
The Twelve Simple Letters
1. The Twelve Simple Letters are Héh,
Vau, Zain, Cheth, Teth, Yod, Lamed, Nun, Samech, Oin, Tzaddi and Qoph (h,w,z,j,f,y,l,n,s,u,x,q);
(43) they are the foundations of these twelve properties: Sight,
Hearing, Smell, Speech, Taste, Sexual Love, Work, Movement, Anger, Mirth,
Imagination, (44) and Sleep. These Twelve are also allotted to the
directions in space: North-east, South-east, the East above, the East below, the
North above, the North below, the South-west, the Northwest, the West above, the
West below, the South above, and the South below; these diverge to infinity, and
are as the arms of the Universe.
2. These Twelve Simple Letters He
designed, and combined, and formed with them the Twelve celestial constellations
of the Zodiac, whose signs are Teth, Shin, Tau, Samech, Aleph, Beth, Mem, Oin,
Qoph, Gimel, Daleth, and Daleth. (45) The Twelve are also the Months
of the Year: Nisan, (46) Yiar, Sivan, Tamuz, Ab, Elul, Tishri, Hesvan,
Kislev, Tebet, Sabat and Adar. The Twelve are also the Twelve organs of living
creatures: (47) the two hands, the two feet, the two kidneys, the
spleen, the liver, the gall, private parts, stomach and intestines.
He made these, as it were provinces, and
arranged them as in order of battle for warfare. And also the Elohim (48)
made one from the region of the other.
Three Mothers and Three Fathers; and
thence issue Fire, Air and Water. Three Mothers, Seven Doubles and Twelve Simple
letters and sounds.
3. Behold now these are the Twenty and
Two Letters from which Jah, Jehovah Tzabaoth, the Living Elohim, the God of
Israel, exalted and sublime, the Dweller in eternity, formed and established all
things; High and Holy is His Name.
Supplement to Chapter V
NOTE.--This is a modern illustration
of the allotment of the Twelve Letters; it is not found in the ancient copies of
the "Sepher Yetzirah."
1. God produced Hé predominant in
Speech, crowned it, combined and formed with it Aries in the Universe, Nisan in
the Year, and the right foot of Man.
2. He produced Vau, predominant in mind,
crowned it, combined and formed with it Taurus in the Universe, Aiar in the
Year, and the right kidney of Man.
3. He produced Zain, predominant in
Movement crowned it, combined and formed it with Gemini in the Universe, Sivan
in the Year, and the left foot of Man.
4. He produced Cheth, predominant in
Sight, crowned it, combined and formed it with Cancer in the Universe, Tammuz in
the year, and the right hand of Man.
5. He produced Teth, predominant in
Hearing, crowned it, combined and formed with it Leo in the Universe, Ab in the
Year, and the left kidney in Man.
6. He produced Yod, predominant in Work,
crowned it, combined and formed with it Virgo in the Universe, Elul in the Year,
and the left hand of Man.
7. He produced Lamed, predominant in
Sexual desire, crowned it, combined and formed with it Libra in the Universe,
Tishri in the Year, and the private parts of Man. (Kalisch gives
8. He produced Nun, predominant in
Smell, crowned it, combined and formed with it Scorpio in the Universe, Heshvan
in the Year, and the intestines of Man.
9. He produced Samech, predominant in
Sleep, crowned it, combined and formed with it Sagittarius in the Universe,
Kislev in the Year, and the stomach of Man.
10. He produced Oin, predominant in
Anger, crowned it, combined and formed with it Capricornus in the Universe,
Tebet in the Year, and the liver of Man.
11. He produced Tzaddi, predominant in
Taste, crowned it, combined and formed with it Aquarius in the Year, and the
gullet in Man).
12. He produced Qoph, predominant in
Mirth, crowned it, combined and formed with it Pisces in the Universe, Adar in
the Year, and the spleen of Man.
NOTE.--Mediaeval authorities and modern
editors give very different allocations to the twelve simple letters.
Section 1. Three Fathers and their
generations, Seven conquerors and their armies, and Twelve bounds of the
Universe. See now, of these words, the faithful witnesses are the Universe, the
Year and Man. The dodecad, the heptad, and the triad with their provinces; above
is the Celestial Dragon, T L I, (49) and below is the World, and
lastly the heart of Man. The Three are Water, Air and Fire; Fire above, Water
below, and Air conciliating between them; and the sign of these things is that
the Fire sustains (volatilises) the waters; Mem is mute, Shin is sibilant, and
Aleph is the Mediator and as it were a friend placed between them.
2. The Celestial Dragon, T L I, is
placed over the universe like a king upon the throne; the revolution of the year
is as a king over his dominion; the heart of man is as a king in warfare.
Moreover, He made all things one from the other; and the Elohim set good over
against evil, and made good things from good, and evil things from evil: with
the good tested He the evil, and with the evil did He try the good. Happiness (50)
is reserved for the good, and misery (51) is kept for the wicked.
3. The Three are One, and that One
stands above. The Seven are divided; three are over against three, and one
stands between the triads. The Twelve stand as in warfare; three are friends,
three are enemies; three are life givers; three are destroyers. The three
friends are the heart, the ears, and the mouth; the three enemies are the liver,
the gall, and the tongue; (52) while God (53) the faithful
king rules over all. One above Three, Three above Seven, and Seven above Twelve:
and all are connected the one with the other.
4. And after that our father Abraham had
perceived and understood, and had taken down and engraved all these things, the
Lord most high (55) revealed Himself, and called him His beloved, and
made a Covenant with him and his seed; and Abraham believed on Him (56)
and it was imputed unto him for righteousness. And He made this Covenant as
between the ten toes of the feet--this is that of circumcision; and as between
the ten fingers of the hands and this is that of the tongue. (57) And
He formed the twenty-two letters into speech (58) and shewed him all
the mysteries of them. (59) He drew them through the Waters; He
burned them in the Fire; He vibrated them in the Air; Seven planets in the
heavens, and Twelve celestial constellations of the stars of the Zodiac.
- End of "The Book of Formation"
THE FIFTY GATES OF INTELLIGENCE
Attached to some editions of the
"Sepher Yetzirah" is found this scheme of Kabalistic classification of
knowledge emanating from the Second Sephira Binah, Understanding, and descending
by stages through the angels, heavens, humanity, animal and vegetable and
mineral kingdoms to Hyle and the chaos. The Kabalists said that one must enter
and pass up through the Gates to attain to the Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom; and
that even Moses only passed through the forty-ninth Gate, and never entered the
First Order: Elementary.
1. Chaos, Hyle, The first matter.
2. Formless, void, lifeless.
3. The Abyss.
4. Origin of the Elements.
5. Earth (no seed germs).
9. Differentiation of qualities.
10. Mixture and combination.
Second Order: Decad of Evolution.
11. Minerals differentiate.
12. Vegetable principles appear.
13. Seeds germinate in moisture.
14. Herbs and Trees.
15. Fructification in vegetable life.
16. Origin of low forms of animal life.
17. Insects and Reptiles appear.
18. Fishes, vertebrate life in the
19. Birds, vertebrate life in the air.
20. Quadrupeds, vertebrate earth
Third Order: Decad of Humanity.
21. Appearance of Man.
22. Material human body.
23. Human Soul conferred.
24. Mystery of Adam and Eve.
25. Complete Man as the Microcosm.
26. Gift of five human faces acting
27. Gift of five powers to the soul.
28. Adam Kadmon, the Heavenly Man.
29. Angelic beings.
30. Man in the image of God.
Fourth Order: World of Spheres.
31. The Moon.
38. The Firmament.
39. The Primum Mobile.
40. The Empyrean Heaven.
Order: The Angelic World.
41. Ishim--Sons of Fire.
48. Beni Elohim--Angels.
Sixth Order: The Archetype.
50. God. Ain Suph. He Whom no mortal eye
bath seen, and Who has been known to Jesus the Messiah alone.
NOTE.--The Angels of the Fifth or Angelic World are arranged in very different order by various Kabalistic Rabbis.
THE THIRTY-TWO PATHS OF WISDOM
Translated from the Hebrew Text of
Joannes Stephanus Rittangelius, 1642: which is also to be found in the
"Oedipus Aegyptiacus" of Athanasius Kircher, 1653. These paragraphs
are very obscure in meaning, and the Hebrew text is probably very corrupt.
The First Path is called the Admirable
or the Hidden Intelligence (the Highest Crown): for it is the Light giving the
power of comprehension of that First Principle which has no beginning; and it is
the Primal Glory, for no created being can attain to its essence.
The Second Path is that of the
Illuminating Intelligence: it is the Crown of Creation, the Splendour of the
Unity, equalling it, and it is exalted above every head, and named by the
Kabalists the Second Glory.
The Third Path is the Sanctifying
Intelligence, and is the foundation of Primordial wisdom, which is called the
Creator of Faith, and its roots are AMN; and it is the parent of Faith, from
which doth Faith emanate.
The Fourth Path is named the Cohesive or
Receptacular Intelligence; and is so called because it contains all the holy
powers, and from it emanate all the spiritual virtues with the most exalted
essences: they emanate one from the other by the power of the Primordial
Emanation. The Highest Crown.) (1)
The Fifth Path is called the Radical
Intelligence, because it resembles the Unity, uniting itself to the Binah, (2)
or Intelligence which emanates from the Primordial depths of Wisdom or Chokmah. (3)
The Sixth Path is called the Mediating
Intelligence, because in it are multiplied the influxes of the emanations, for
it causes that influence to flow into all the reservoirs of the Blessings, with
which these themselves are united.
The Seventh Path is the Occult
Intelligence, because it is the Refulgent Splendour of all the Intellectual
virtues which are perceived by the eyes of intellect, and by the contemplation
The Eighth Path is called the Absolute
or Perfect Intelligence, because it is the means of the primordial, which has no
root by which it can cleave, nor rest, except in the hidden places of Gedulah,
(4) Magnificence, from which emanates its own proper essence.
The Ninth Path is the Pure Intelligence,
so called because it purifies the Numerations, it proves and corrects the
designing of their representation, and disposes their unity with which they are
combined without diminution or division.
The Tenth Path is the Resplendent
Intelligence, because it is exalted above every head, and sits on the throne of Binah
(the Intelligence spoken of in the Third Path). It illuminates the splendour
of all the lights, and causes an influence to emanate from the Prince of
The Eleventh Path is the Scintillating
Intelligence, because it is the essence of that curtain which is placed close to
the order of the disposition, and this is a special dignity given to it that it
may be able to stand before the Face of the Cause of Causes.
The Twelfth Path is the Intelligence of
Transparency, because it is that species of Magnificence called Chazchazit, (6)
the place whence issues the vision of those seeing in apparitions. (That is the
prophecies by seers in a vision.)
The Thirteenth Path is named the Uniting
Intelligence, and is so called because it is itself the Essence of Glory. It is
the Consummation of the Truth of individual spiritual things.
The Fourteenth Path is the Illuminating
Intelligence and is so called because it is that Chashmal (7)
which is the founder of the concealed and fundamental ideas of holiness and of
their stages of preparation.
The Fifteenth Path is the Constituting
Intelligence, so called because it constitutes the substance of creation in pure
darkness, and men have spoken of these contemplations; it is that darkness
spoken of in Scripture, Job xxxviii. 9, "and thick darkness a swaddling
band for it."
The Sixteenth Path is the Triumphal or
Eternal Intelligence, so called because it is the pleasure of the Glory, beyond
which is no other Glory like to it, and it is called also the Paradise prepared
for the Righteous.
The Seventeenth Path is the Disposing
Intelligence, which provides Faith to the Righteous, and they are clothed with
the Holy Spirit by it, and it is called the Foundation of Excellence in the
state of higher things.
The Eighteenth Path is called the
Intelligence or House of Influence (by the greatness of whose abundance the
influx of good things upon created beings is increased), and from its midst the
arcana and hidden senses are drawn forth, which dwell in its shade and which
cling to it, from the Cause of all causes.
The Nineteenth Path is the Intelligence
of the Secret of all the activities of the spiritual beings, and is so called
because of the influence diffused by it from the most high and exalted sublime
The Twentieth Path is the Intelligence
of Will, and is so called because it is the means of preparation of all and each
created being, and by this intelligence the existence of the Primordial Wisdom
The Twenty-first Path is the
Intelligence of Conciliation and Reward, and is so called because it receives
the divine influence which flows into it from its benediction upon all and each
The Twenty-second Path is the Faithful
Intelligence, and is so called because by it spiritual virtues are increased,
and all dwellers on earth are nearly under its shadow.
The Twenty-third Path is the Stable
Intelligence, and it is so called because it has the virtue of consistency among
The Twenty-fourth Path is the
Imaginative Intelligence, and it is so called because it gives a likeness to all
the similitudes which are created in like manner similar to its harmonious
The Twenty-fifth Path is the
Intelligence of Probation, or Temptation, and is so called because it is the
primary temptation, by which the Creator trieth all righteous persons.
The Twenty-sixth Path is called the
Renewing Intelligence, because the Holy God renews by it all the changing things
which are renewed by the creation of the world.
The Twenty-seventh Path is the Active or
Exciting Intelligence, and it is so called because through it every existent
being receives its spirit and motion.
The Twenty-eighth Path is called the
Natural Intelligence; by it is completed and perfected the nature of all that
exists beneath the Sun.
(This Path is omitted by
Rittangelius: I presume by inadvertence.)
The Twenty-ninth Path is the Corporeal
Intelligence, so called because it forms every body which is formed in all the
worlds, and the reproduction of them.
The Thirtieth Path is the Collective
Intelligence, and Astrologers deduce from it the judgment of the Stars and
celestial signs, and perfect their science, according to the rules of the
motions of the stars.
The Thirty-first Path is the Perpetual
Intelligence; but why is it so called? Because it regulates the motions of the
Sun and Moon in their proper order, each in an orbit convenient for it.
The Thirty-second Path is the Administrative Intelligence, and it is so called because it directs and associates the motions of the seven planets, directing all of them in their own proper courses.
NOTES TO THE SEPHER YETZIRAH
It is of considerable importance to a
clear understanding of this Occult treatise that the whole work be read through
before comment is made, so that the general idea of the several chapters may
become in the mind one concrete whole. A separate consideration of the several
parts should follow this general grasp of the subject, else much confusion may
This hook may be considered to he an
Allegorical Parallel between the Idealism of Numbers and Letters and the various
parts of the Universe, and it sheds much light on many mystic forms and
ceremonies yet extant, notably upon Freemasonry, the Tarot, and the later
Kabalah, and is a great aid to the comprehension of the Astro-Theosophic schemes
of the Rosicrucians. To obtain the full value of this Treatise, it should he
studied hand in hand with Hermetic attributions, the "Isiac Tablet,"
and with a complete set of the designs, symbols and allocation of the Trump
cards of the Tarot pack, for which see my translation of The Sanctum Regnum
of the Tarot, by Eliphas Levi.
Note that the oldest MSS. copies of the
"Sepher Yetzirah" have no vowel points: the latest editions have them.
The system of points in writing Hebrew was not perfected until the seventh
century, and even then was not in constant use. Ginsburg asserts that the system
of vowel pointing was invented by a Rabbi Mocha in Palestine about A.D. 570, who
designed it to assist his pupils. But Isaac Myer states that there are undoubted
traces of pointing in Hebrew MSS. of the second century. According to A. E.
Waite there is no extant Hebrew MSS. with the vowel points older than the tenth
The words "Sepher Yetzirah"
are written in Hebrew from right to left, SPR YTzYRH, Samech Peh Resh, Yod
Tzaddi Yod Resh Heh; modes of transliteration vary with different authors. Yod
is variously written in English letters as I, Y, or J, or sometimes Ie. Tzaddi
is property Tz; but some write Z only, which is misleading because the Hebrew
has also a true Z, Zain.
The twelve sections of this chapter
introduce this philosophic disquisition upon the Formation and Development of
the Universe. Having specified the subdivision of the letters into three
classes, the Triad, the Heptad, and the Dodecad, these are put aside for the
time; and the Decad mainly considered as specially associated with the idea of
Number, and as obviously composed of the Tetrad and the Hexad.
1. Thirty-two. This is the number
of the Paths or Ways of Wisdom, which are added as a supplement. 32 is written
in Hebrew by LB, Lamed and Beth, and these are the last and first letters of the
Pentateuch. The number 32 is obtained thus--2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2=32. Laib, LB as a
Hebrew word, means the Heart of Man.
Paths.The word here is NTIBUT,
netibuth; NTIB meant primarily a pathway, or foot-made track; but is here used
symbolically in the same sense as the Christian uses the word, way--the
way of life: other meanings are--stage, power, form, effect; and later, a
doctrinal formula, in Kabalistic writings.
2. Jah. This divine name is found
in Psalm lxviii. 4; it is translated into Greek as kurios, and into Latin
as dominus, and commonly into the English word, Lord: it is really
the first half of the word IHVH or Jehovah, or the Yahveh of modern scholars.
3. Jehovah Tzabaoth. This divine
name is printed in English Bibles as Jehovah Sabaoth, or as "Lord of
hosts" as in Psalm xxiv. 10. TzBA is an army.
4. God of Israel. Here the word
God is ALHI, which in unpointed Hebrew might be God, or Gods, or My God.
5. The Elohim of the Living. The
words are ALHIM ChIIM. Alhim, often written in English letters as Elohim, or by
Godftey Higgins as Aleim, seems to be a masculine plural of the feminine form
Eloah, ALH, of the divine masculine name EL, AL; this is commonly translated
God, and means strong, mighty, supreme. Chiim is the plural of Chi--living,
or life. ChIH is a living animal, and so is ChIVA. ChII is also life.
Frey in his dictionary gives ChIIM as the plural word lives, or vitae.
The true adjective for living is ChIA. Elohim Chiim, then, apart from
Jewish or Christian preconception, is "the living Gods," or "the
Gods of the lives, i.e., living ones." Rittangelius gives Dii
viventes, "The living Gods," both words in the plural. Pistorius omits
both words. Postellus, the orthodox, gives Deus Vivus. The Elohim are the Seven
Forces, proceeding from the One Divine, which control the "terra viventium,"
the manifested world of life.
6. God. In this case we have the
simple form AL, EL.
7. Sepharim. SPRIM, the plural
masculine of SPR, commonly translated book or letter: the meaning
here is plainly "forms of expression."
8. Numbers, Letters and Sounds.
The three Hebrew words here given are, in unpointed Hebrew, SPR, SPR and SIPUR.
Some late editors, to cover the difficulty of this passage, have given SPR,
SPUR, SIPR, pointing them to read Separ, Seepur, Saypar.
The sense of the whole volume appears to
need their translation as Numbers, Letters and Sounds. Pistorius gave "Scriptis,
numeratis, pronunciatis." Postellus gave "Numerans, numerus, numeratus,"
thus losing the contrasted meanings; and so did Rittangelius, who gave "Numero,
9. The Ineffable Sephiroth. The
words are SPIRUT BLIMH, Sephiruth Belimah. The simplest translation is "the
voices from nothing." The Ten Sephiruth of the Kabalah are the "Ten
Primary Emanations from the Divine Source," which are the primal forces
leading to all manifestation upon every plane in succession. Buxtorf gives for
Sephiruth--predicationes logicae. The word seems to me clearly allied to the
Latin spiritus--spirit, soul, wind; and is used by Quintilian as a sound, or
noise. The meaning of Belimah is more doubtful. Rittangelius always gives
"praeter illud ineffabile." Pistorius gives "praeter ineffabile."
Postellus evades the difficulty and simply puts the word Belimah into his Latin
translation. In Frey's Hebrew Dictionary BLIMH is translated as nothing,
without any other suggestion; BLI is "not," MR is
"anything." In Kabalistic writings the Sephiruth, the Divine Voices
and Powers, are called "ineffbilis," not to be spoken of, from their
10. The classification of the Hebrew
letters into a Triad, Heptad and Dodecad, runs through the whole philosophy of
the Kabalah. Many ancient authors added intentional blinds, suds as forming the
Triad of A.M.T., Ameth, truth; and of AMN, Amen.
11. The Two Covenants, by the Word or
Spirit, and by the Flesh, made by Jehovah with Abraham, Genesis xvii. The
Covenant of Circumcision was to be an outward and visible sign of the Divine
promise made to Ahraham and his offspring. The Hebrew word for circumcision is
Mulah, MULH: note that MLH is also synonymous with DBR, dabar,--verbum or word.
12. Rittangelius gives "replace the
formative power upon his throne." Postellus gives restore the device to its
13. Abyss; the word is OUMQ for
OMQ, a depth, vastness, or valley.
14. My Hermetic rituals explained this
15. The Lord the only God. The
words are ADUN IChID AL, or "Adonai (as commonly written) the only
16. Seat. The word is MOUN,
dwelling, habitation, or throne.
17. Lightning flash. In the early
edition the words "like scintillating flame" are used: the Hebrew word
is BRQ. Many Kabalists have shown how the Ten Sephiroth are symbolised by the
zig-zag lightning flash.
18. God; the Divine name here is
19. The text gives only RTzUAV
ShUB--"currendo et redeundo," but the commentators have generally
considered this to be a quotation from Ezekiel i. 14, referred to H ChIVT, the
living creatures, kerubic forms.
20. The Spirit of the Gods of the
Living. RUCh ALHIM ChIIIM; or as R. gives it, "spiritus Deorum Viventium."
Orthodoxy would translate these words "The spirit of the living God."
21. AL ChI H OULMIM; "the Living
God of Ages"; here the word God really is in the singular.
22. The Voice, Spirit and Word are QUL,
RUCh, DBR. A very notable Hebrew expression of Divinatory intuition was BATh QUL,
the Daughter of the Voice.
23. Formless and Void. THU and BHU;
these two words occur in Genesis i. 2, and are translated "waste and
24. Note the order in which the
primordial elements were produced. First, Spirit (query Akasa, Ether); then Air,
Vayu; then Water, Apas, which condenses into solid elementary Earth, Prithivi;
and lastly from the Water He formed Fire.
25. The first name is often written
Ophanim, the letters are AUPNIM; in the Vision of Ezekiel i. 16, the word occurs
and is translated "Wheels." ShRPIM are the mysterious beings of Isaiah
vi. 2; the word otherwise is translated Serpent, and in Numbers xxi. 6,
as "fiery serpents": also in verse 8 as "fiery serpent" when
Jehovah said "Make thee a fiery serpent and set it upon a pole."
Kerubim. The Hebrew words arc ChIVTh H QDSh, holy animals: I have ventured to
put Kerubim, as the title of the other Biblical form of Holy mysterious animal,
as given in 1 Kings vi. 23 and Exodus xxv. 18, and indeed Genesis iii. 24. Bible
dictionaries generally give the word as Cherubim, but in Hebrew the initial
letter is always K and not Ch.
26. Three. In the first edition I
overlooked this word three; and putting and for as, made
four classes of serving beings.
27. This is verse 4 of Psalm civ.
28. Here follow the permutations of the
name IHV, which is the Tetragrammaton--Jehovah, without the second or final Heh:
IHV is a Tri-grammaton, and is more suitable to the third or Yetziratic plane.
HVI is the imperative form of the verb to be, meaning be thou; HIV
is the infinitive; and VIH is future. In IHV note that Yod corresponds to the
Father; Heh to Binah, the Supernal Mother; and Vau to the Microprosopus--Son.
29. Note the subdivision of the Decad
into the Tetrad--four elements; and the Hexad--six dimensions of space.
This chapter consists of philosophic
remarks on the twenty-two sounds and letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and hence
connected with the air by speech, and it points out the uses of those letters to
form words--the signs of ideas, and the symbols of material substances.
30. Soul; the word is NPSh, which
is commonly translated soul, meaning the living personality of man,
animal or existing thing: it corresponds almost to the Theosophic Prana plus
the stimulus of Kama.
31. This is the modern classification of
the letters into guttural, palatal, lingual, dental and labial sounds.
32. The 231 Gates. The number 242
is obtained by adding together all the numbers from 1 to 22. The Hebrew letters
can he placed in pairs in 242 different positions: thus ab, ag, ad, up to
at; then ba, bb, bg, bd, up to bt, and so on to ts, tt:
this is in direct order only, without reversal. For the reason why eleven are
deducted, and the number 231 specified, see the Table and Note 15 in the edition
33. Non-existent; the word is
AIN, nothingness. Ain precedes Ain Suph, boundlessness; and Ain Suph Aur,
34. Body; the word is GUP,
usually applied to the animal material body, but here means "one
This chapter is especially concerned
with the essence of the Triad, as represented by the Three Mothers, Aleph, Mem,
and Shin. Their development in three directions is pointed out, namely in the
Macrocosm or Universe; in the Year or in Time; and in the Microcosm or Man.
35. The importance of equilibrium is
constantly reiterated in the Kabalah. The "Siphra Dtzeniouta," or
"Book of Mystery," opens with a reference to this Equilibrium as a
fundamental necessity of stable existence.
36. Heavens. The Hebrew word
Heshamaim HShMIM, has in it the element of Aesh, fire, and Mim, water; and also
Shem, name; The Name is IHVH, attributed to the elements. ShMA is in
Chaldee a name for the Trinity (Parkhurst). ShMSh is the Sun, and Light, and a
type of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. Malachi iv. 2.
37. Were produced. The Hebrew
word BRA, is the root. Three Hebrew words are used in the Bible to represent the
idea of making, producing or creating.
BRIAH, Briah, giving shape, Genesis i.
OShIH, Ashiah, completing, Genesis i.
ITzIRH, Yetzirah, forming, Genesis ii.
To these the Kabalists add the word
ATzLH, with the meaning of "producing something manifest from the
This is the special chapter of the
Heptad, the powers and properties of the Seven. Here again we have the threefold
attribution of the numbers and letters to the Universe, to the Year, and to Man.
The supplemental paragraphs have been printed in modern form by Kalisch; they
identify the several letters of the Heptad more definitely with the planets,
days of the week, human attributes and organs of the senses.
39. These numbers have been a source of
difference between the editors and copyists, hardly any two editors concurring.
I have given the numbers arising from continual multiplication of the product by
each succeeding unit from one to seven. 2x1=2, 2x3=6, 6x4=24, 24x5=120,
40. In associating the particular
letters to each planet the learned Jesuit Athanasius Kircher allots Beth to the
Sun, Gimel to Venus, Daleth to Mercury, Kaph to Luna, Peh to Saturn, Resh to
Jupiter, and Tau to Mars. Kalisch in the supplementary paragraphs gives a
different attribution; both are wrong, according to clairvoyant investigation.
Consult the Tarot symbolism given by Court de Gebelin, Eliphas Levi, and my
notes to the Isiaic Tablet of Bembo. The true attribution is probably not
anywhere printed. The planet names here given are Chaldee words.
41. The Seven Heavens and the Seven
Earths are printed with errors, and I believe intentional mistakes, in many
occult ancient books. Some Hermetic MSS. have the correct names and spelling.
42. On the further attribution of these
Seven letters, note that Postellus gives: Vita--mors, Pax--afflictio,
Sapientia--stultitia, Divitiae (Opus)--paupertas, Gratia--opprobrium,
Proles--sterilitas, Imperium--servitus. Pistorius gives: Vita--mors, Pax--bellum,
Scientia--ignorantia, Divitiae--paupertas, Gratia--abominatio, Semen (Proles)--sterilitas,
This chapter is specially concerned with
the Dodecad; the number twelve is itself pointed out, and the characters of its
component units, once more in the three zones of the universe, year and man; the
last paragraph gives a recapitulation of the whole number of letters: the
Supplement gives a form of allotment of the several letters.
43. It is necessary to avoid confusion
between these letters; different authors translate them in different manners.
Heh or Hé not be confused with Cheth, or Heth, Ch. Teth, Th also must be kept
distinct from the final letter Tau, T, which is one of the double letters; the
semi-English pronunciation of these two letters is much confused, each is at
times both t and th; Yod is either I, Y, or J; Samech is simple S, and must not
be confused with Shin, Sh, one of the mother letters; Oin is often written in
English Hebrew grammars as Ayin, and Sometimes as Gnain; Tzaddi must not be
confused with Zain, Z; and lastly Qoph, Q, is very often replaced by K, which is
hardly defensible as there is a true K in addition.
44. Postellus gives suspicion and
45. These letters are the initials of
the 12 Zodiacal signs in Hebrew nomenclature. They are:
46. The month Nisan begins about March
29th. Yiar is also written Iyar, and Aiar: the Hebrew letters are AIIR.
47. The list of organs varies. All agree
in two hands, two feet, two kidneys, liver, gall and spleen. Postellus then
gives, intestina, vesica, arteriae," the intestines, bladder, and arteries;
Rittangelius gives the same. Pistorius gives, "colon, coagulum (spleen) et
ventriculus," colon--the large intestine, coagulum and stomach. The chief
difficulty is with the Hebrew word MSS, which is allied to two different roots,
one meaning private, concealed, hidden; and the other meaning liquefied.
48. The Elohim--Divine powers--not IHVH
This chapter is a resumé of the
preceding five; it calls the universe and mankind to witness to the truth of the
scheme of distribution of the powers of the numbers among created forms, and
concludes with the narration that this philosophy was revealed by the Divine to
Abraham, who received and faithfully accepted it, as a form of Wisdom under a
49. The Dragon, TLI, Theli. The Hebrew
letters amount in numeration to 440, that is 400, 30 and 10. The best opinion is
that Tali or Theli refers to the 12 Zodiacal constellations along the great
circle of the Ecliptic; where it ends there it begins again, and so the ancient
occultists drew the Dragon with its tail in its mouth. Some have thought that
Tali referred to the constellation Draco, which meanders across the Northern
polar sky; others have referred it to the Milky Way; others to an imaginary line
joining Caput to Cauda Draconis, the upper and lower nodes of the Moon. Adolphe
Franck says that Theli is an Arabic word.
50. Happiness, or a good end,
or simply good, TUBH.
51. Misery, or an evil end,
or simply evil, ROH.
52. This Hebrew version omits the
allotment of the remaining six. Mayer gives the paragraph thus:--The triad of
amity is the heart and the two ears; the triad of enmity is the liver, gall, and
the tongue; the three life-givers are the two nostrils and the spleen; the three
death-dealing ones are the mouth and the two lower openings of the body.
53. God. In this case the name is
54. This last paragraph is generally
considered to be less ancient than the remainder of the treatise, and by another
55. The Lord most high. OLIU ADUN. Adun
or Adon, or Adonai, ADNI, are commonly translated Lord; Eliun, OLIUN, is
the more usual form of "the most high one."
56. Him. Rittangelius gives
"credidit in Tetragrammaton," but this word is not in the Hebrew.
57. Tongue. The verbal covenant.
58. Speech. The Hebrew has
"upon his tongue."
59. The Hebrew version of Rabbi Judah Ha
Levi concludes with the phrase, "and said of him, Before I formed thee in
the belly, I knew thee." Rabbi Luria gives the Hebrew version which I have
translated. Postellus gives: "He drew him into the water, He rose up in
spirit, He inflamed him in seven suitable forms with twelve signs." Mayer
gives: "Er zog sie mit Wasser, zundet sie an mit Feuer; erregte sie mit
Geist; verbannte sie mit sieben, goss sie aus mit den zwolf Gestirnen."
"He drew them with water, He kindled them with fire, He moved them with
spirit, distributed them with seven, and sent them forth with twelve."
Notes to the Thirty-Two Paths of
1. The Highest Crown is Kether, the
First Sephira, the first emanation from the Ain Suph Aur, the Limit-less Light.
2. Binah, or Understanding, is the Third
3. Chokmah, Wisdom, is the Second
4. Gedulah is a synonym of Chesed,
Mercy, the Fourth Sephira.
5. Metatron, the Intelligence of the
First Sephira, and the reputed guide of Moses.
6. This word is from ChZCh, a seer,
seership. Chazuth is a vision.
7. This word means "scintillating
The "Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom" refer to the Ten Sephiroth and the Twenty-two letters, each supplying a type of divine power and attributes. In my Introduction to the Kabalah will be found a diagram showing how the Paths from Eleven to Thirty-two connect the several Sephiroth, and are deemed to transmit the divine influence. Some teachers of Occult Science also allot the Twenty-two Trumps of the Tarot Cards to the twenty-two Paths.