Jewish Alchemy: Cabala and the Alchemy of Light
Jewish Alchemy: the Kabbalah
The Divine Origin of the Kabbalah
By many centuries antedating the Christian era, and older than the Mosaic traditions, indeed, in its origin older than the Egyptian or any other system of religion or philosophy now known, the Kabbalah has all the claims to respectful consideration that antiquity can confer. These claims are enhanced and intensified when we discover evidence, not merely of its early origin, but of its important influence, in their structure and teachings, upon the religions of all lands and ages. Yet but few, even of the modern mystical thinkers, know enough of the wondrous Kabbalah to have the faintest conception of the vast debt the world of all ages has owed to that grand system of philosophy. Even while using the symbols, quoting the language, repeating the ideas, teaching and maintaining the doctrines of the Kabbalah, writers of modern times are generally ignorant of the source of the symbols, language, ideas and doctrines, and hence, naturally, they fail to realize their beautiful significance, far-reaching scope, and more than marvelous harmony.
The Kabbalists claim that the source from which their knowledge is derived is divine; that God reveals it to the pure in heart alone, and that the fountain of the true Light of knowledge is itself known to those only who are illuminated by that Light within their souls. The philosophy of the Kabbalah was expressed in symbols, some of which are in use among the Masonic and other secret fraternities of our day, though much of their ancient force and beauty, which depended very largely and in some cases entirely upon their Hermetic meanings, is lost by erroneous interpretations
Keys to the Kabbalah
The symbols of Masonry are Kabbalistic, and were known to the alchemists Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Apollonius, Raymond Lully, Cornelius Agrippa, Fludd, Boehme and others. Solomon’s Temple, with its marvels of beauty and grandeur, its strikingly distinct and different parts, its still more striking diversities of material and style-all blending in one superb, gorgeous, and absolutely harmonious whole was the grand panoramic symbol — a complete epitome and miniature, of the universe as portrayed in the Kabbalah. The history of its builder, Hiram, is a curious, strangely fascinating history, but it is foreign to our present subject, and we must pass it by with the single remark that he was a Kabbalist of the clearest type. He who exactly understands SoIomon’s Temple, in its details and in its entirety, is both a true Templer, Mason, and Kabbalist — therefore, an initiate of the highest order.
There are two keys to its symbolism that will unlock the secrets of the Kabbalah, open the sanctuaries of the initiates where the knowledge of its full significance is still hidden, and expose to the understanding eye the mysteries of Hermetic philosophy.
The keys we shall use in deciphering the Kabbalah are the ideas of Light and Heat. As we have intimated, the Kabbalah treats of two distinct subjects: philosophy and religion, which correspond to our two keys. Though distinct, these two keys are in perfect accord as found in the Kabbalah, and show the sublime harmony that must ever characterize the relations of true Religion and true Science, since both are from the one divine source and have one central theme (Truth), they cannot, in the final analysis, be antagonistic or even really diverge. So in the final analysis, our two keys of Light and Fire are really just one key to all.
The First Key: Light
Light is the foundation upon which rests the superstructure of the Kabbalistic theosophy. Light is the source and center of the entire harmonious system. Light was the first-born of God — His first manifestation of Himself in the universe. No man can know God except as He manifests Himself in Light — not visible or sensible light, seen by man’s carnal eye but intellectual and spiritual Light, apparent only to the inner vision of those illuminated by that Light. Indeed, the Bible, in both the Jewish and Christian parts, abounds in the Kabbalistic distinction between the outward or objective, and the inward or subjective Light. The outward light is a manifestation of Himself by the same Supreme Being, but inferior in degree and in its influences, though still glorious.
The treatise Wisdom of Solomon is said to have been written in Alexandria in the time of Jerome and is attributed to Philo. But Philo could not have been its author, as his known views were clearly opposed to much that is found therein. The wisdom it enunciates is claimed to be that taught to Moses in Egypt. It describes God as “Illuminated Time;” no origin can be assigned to Him; He is engulfed in His own glory, “dwelling in the Light that no man can approach onto.” Creation is said to have consisted in emanations from Him, which dispelled the primordial darkness.
While the Wisdom of Solomon is greatly valued by Kabbalists, their primary works are the Zohar (or Book of Light) and the Sepher Jezera (or Book of the Creation). The Zohar was written by Simeon ben Jochai and first printed in Mantua in 1558. The author of the Sepher Jezera is unknown and scholars place its origin at sometime between 100 B.C. to 800 A.D. Actually, the opinion prevalent among Kabbalists is that the Sepher Jetzera, is a monologue of the patriarch Abraham, and they believe that his contemplations induced the patriarch of patriarchs to abandon the worship of the heavenly bodies and become the servant of the one true God. The Rabbi Jahuda Levi, who flourished and wrote in the eleventh century, says: “The Book of the Creation, which belongs to our Father Abraham, demonstrates the existence of the deity and the divine Unity, by things that are, on the one hand, manifold and multifarious, while, on the other hand, they converge and harmonize; and this harmony can only proceed from the One who originates it.”
Kabbalah‘s Connection to the Old Testament
The design of this work is to declare a system in which the universe may be viewed in connection with the truths found in the Old Testament, in such a way as to show, by tracing the gradual and orderly process of creation and the harmony which characterizes its details and its perfection, that one God produces all and is over all. The order and harmony of creation is deduced from the analogy subsisting between the visible things and the signs of thought. The Sepher Jetzera is regarded as the basis of, and key to, the teachings of the Zohar, though the arrangement and plan of the two works differ somewhat. In the Zohar dwells with great emphasis upon the Kabbalistic doctrinal teachings on Light. The treatise declares that Light is the primordial essence of the universe, and that all life and motion proceed from it. Light is the vital dynamic force in Nature. It also declares that it is by the study of Light that we are enabled to acquire knowledge of the unknowable or causal world. Light is Jacob’s Ladder by which we ascend to Celestial knowledge, the upper rundle being in the fourth Sephira, represented by the Pentagram.
In considering the Kabbalah and the Kabbalists, we must never lose sight of the philosophy’s intimate connection with the Bible; it is really an enlightened commentary on the sacred scriptures. The scriptures have, running all through their inspired lines and words, a two-fold meaning: an outward meaning which may be perceived by any candid reader, and an inward or hidden meaning that “the carnal mind cannot receive, because it is foolishness to it.” Being spiritual, this meaning can only be “spiritually discerned. ” It is the province of the Kabbalah to shed the Light of Truth upon this second meaning.
Solomon Gabirol, an Arabian philosopher, wrote, under the pseudonym of Avicebron, about the middle of the eleventh century, two works of value to those interested in Hermetic philosophy; they were Liber de Causis (or Book of Causes) and Fons Vitae (or Source of Life). He speaks of the unity of Light as it arises from the throne of the Most High, which subjectively becomes divided into nine categories. This united Light he calls “the substance of the intellect,” on account of its having been the receptacle of the Divine Will when God said ” Let there be Light.” When describing God in his Liber de Causis, Gabirol states that He is wise, and from His wisdom He has seen fit to make His Will manifest in Light, and all existences and substances in creation are created and sustained by God through Light. His Will, His Divinity, His Unity, His Eternity, and His very existence, are profound mysteries, and we can know Him only through His manifestations of Himself in Light. Gabirol speaks of the absurdity of a finite mind’s attempting to define God. If it could it be done, he asserts, it would make Him a finite being.
Ten Emanations from the Mind of God
The ten Sephira of the Kabbalah illustrate in symbol the Kabbalistic conception of the universe as it came from the incomprehensible Supreme Will of the Most High. The Crown is called the Kether or En Soph (the Endless, the Ineffable), because in it and by it God manifested the power of His Will in creation. Since Light is His creative agent, so this En Soph is the source from which Light flows, the Fons Lucis (Source of Light). The En Soph was not created by God, but emanated from Him to manifest Himself. In the Crown, Light is pure white, utterly indiscernible by the physical eye, and in it resides the life and dynamic power of the universe. The ten Sephira emanate from this En Soph, the Unity, in nine categories, or spheres, making ten in the complete figure. The number ten is called a “perfect number” and symbolized the unity and synthesis of creation.
The First Triad of Emanations: The Celestial Sun
Pythagoras in his Tetractys gives, besides the Sephiroth, a representation of the creation composed of the four letters of the Ineffable Name of God, the “Four-Letter Name” as it has been called. This name Pythagoras tells us is the key to the mysteries of the Kabbalah. Pythagoras employed numbers in representing his ideas of creation, while the Egyptian Kabbalists used letters, words, and numbers. All Kabbalists represent the properties of Light as dual, calling the parts the two hands of Deity. Although it possesses duality, it maintains its unity and harmony until it becomes focalized in Astral Suns, which are illustrated by the sephiretic “Tree of Life.” As we have said, the En Soph (or Kether the Crown) is the fountain or source of Light, which manifests itself in the two lower Sephira, Binah and Hokmah (Intelligence and Wisdom), with masculine and feminine, or active and passive, functions. These functions are strikingly manifested in the light of our own Sun, which must be understandingly be distinguished before we can determine its various and diverse action and influence upon the human organism. En Soph, Binah, and Hokmah form the first triad of the Sephiroth,and lines connecting them bound the World of Briah, the Super-Celestial World or the World of Spirit. [The alchemists would have called these three Salt, Sulfur, and Mercury.]
The Fourth Emanation: The Tipheroth
Light is then focalized forming the fourth Sephira, which is the Celestial Sun, called Tifereth (Resplendence or Magnificence) because of the resplendent, magnificent whiteness of its Light, while its immensity is recognized in its further designation as “Greatness.” This is the Central Sun of the entire universe, visible only to the spiritual or subjective sight, never to the natural or objective vision. It is to the Astral Suns precisely what they are to the respective planets that they control, illuminate and sustain, and which revolve around them. It controls, illuminates, and sustains the Astral Suns, and around it they revolve. Without it they could no more maintain their equilibrium in space than could the planets hold their positions without their corresponding physical Suns.
This great Celestial Luminary possesses the dual properties of Light and Fire, but in absolute equilibrium and perfect harmony. This perfect harmony embraces the rays of the Light, and the “chemistry” of the Fire. It is this harmony in the blending of the rays that produces the resplendent, magnificent white of which we have spoken as the characteristic of the Celestial Sun, and which justly gains the appellation Tifereth. The objective vision cannot conceive, as it could not endure, the white splendor of this glorious Orb of orbs.
When Moses desired to see the glory of God, this Celestial Light, God kindly replied: “Thou must not see my face: for there shall no man see me and live.” The near approach of the glory made the face of Moses so lustrous that upon his return to the people, they could not endure the sight, and he was compelled to put a veil over his face while he talked with them. And when Saul and his companions were riding, upon their journey from Jerusalem to Damascus, suddenly there shone about them a beam from the Celestial Sun; so intense was its Light that they all fell to the ground, and Saul’s eyes were temporarily blinded and permanently affected by the Light, which he described as: “a Light from heaven, above the brightness of the Sun.”
The Law of Harmony
We have already alluded to the fact that the one attribute that pre-eminently distinguishes the Kabbalistic system is its complete and absolute harmony. But more may be claimed: This harmony is not only the strongest evidence, but it is an all-sufficient and conclusive proof of the divine origin of the Kabbalah. For in God’s universe, in its every department, separately and collectively, harmony is the one positive law that is never disobeyed without immediate and inevitable consequences exactly proportional to the extent and nature of that “disobedience.” [This Law of Harmony is what the Emerald Tablet calls “the Operation of the Sun.”] No merely human system of action or ethics, of living or belief has ever been or can ever be devised wherein this divine harmony is not wanting; the most skillfully and cunningly planned and practiced counterfeit bears this evidence upon its face of the absence of the divine hand in its construction. It has been well said: “Harmony is God’s unique law.” So, when we find in the Sephiroth a positive unity, in their relation to each other and to the universe a positive accord, and in the system throughout, of which these are the symbolic declaration, a like oneness arising from marvelous harmony and sublime concord, we can believe that God, the personification of harmony and concord, has inspired the Kabbalah.
In the movement of the heavenly bodies — the planets and their suns and moons and satellites — none question or can question the importance of this Law of Harmony. With the slightest defect in this respect, not only would their respective order and movements be disarranged and confusion ensue, but the very existence of some of the weaker ones would be destroyed by contact with their stronger neighbors, while the stronger bodies would necessarily suffer immeasurably. Set aside the Law of Harmony in the planetary system, and chaos would soon prevail. The same law is vital too in each individual member of the universe; take our Sun for an illustration. Place discord instead of harmony in its structure, and beauty would give place to distressing ugliness, utility to horrible destructiveness; its orderly movements would become wanderings through space to the peril of all the planets. And so with any one of the suns or their planets, the loss of harmony would inevitably destroy their beauty and usefulness in the universe.
As God is One, so is this law uniform in all His works. In what we call the laws of Nature, His Will is seen in the presence and influence of this same Law of Harmony: every positive has a negative, every active a passive; every destroying element is opposed or corrected by a restoring principle. Let the forces of attraction become weak or impaired, will not the repellent forces work destruction? And the converse is no less sure: Let the centrifugal force in any instance fall below the centripetal, or the latter yield to the former, and the consequence will soon be apparent. Let the polarizing ray in light lose its influence, and decay and death come speedily to tell the story of the absence of harmony to even the most ignorant and unobservant. It is this eternal harmony [symbolized in the alchemical symbol of the Ouroboros] that gives us all of beauty and beneficence we see in Nature; harmony amidst its constituents gives us beauty in Light, sweetness in sound, and all else that we enjoy in life is equally dependent on this law of God.
In the mortal world, the same God exacts obedience to the same Law of Harmony as the price of order and propriety, and disregard of its stringent requirements, even in what we are prone to call trivial matters, is as surely and as swiftly followed by a proportionate penalty as in the planetary and worlds. And in the Above, the World of Eternal Peace and Blessedness, we cannot doubt the assurance that order is Heaven’s first law. The Law of Harmony finds there its most complete fruition, because there it is never disregarded, and that fruition is joy and happiness unspeakable, glory ineffable, and perfect life forever and forever. Well may we believe that there is no sorrow or sighing, no pain or sickness, no decay or death, in that place where God’s unique Law of Harmony is perfectly and absolutely and always obeyed.
The Breath of God Upon the World
The Rouach Elohim (Breath of God) that brooded over or “moved upon the face of the waters” was held by the alchemists to have been Light from the Celestial Sun shining thereon. The star symbol within the Sephira Tifereth, in its upright, proper position represents the principle of good, when inverted it represents the evil principle. The five-pointed star seen on the disk of Tifereth is the flaming pentagram of the Kabbalists and of the Magi of the Orient. It was the glorious Star of Bethlehem that was the Celestial forerunner of the Christian “Light of the World.” Pentagrams thus constitute powerful talismans, but to be effective they must be most accurately made and carefully handled and placed.
The Apocalypse of John is full of passages that can be read with ease by the help of the Kabbalah; indeed there are passages that indicate John was a Kabbalist of a high order. Among these we must cite one. He tells of a most remarkable vision : “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars . . .” The Rosicrucians call the Light of the Celestial Sun the Divine Sophia (Wisdom) because of its purity and its passivity in matter. The Egyptian alchemists called this light Isis and represented her as a pure woman. Since the Light of the Celestial Sun is invisible to mere mortals, seen only by the subjective sight of the illuminated, they clothed Isis with an objective Sun; as the Celestial Sun is greatness and majesty, they placed under the feet of Isis the Crescent Moon, beneath which but outside the sacred circle, was a vanquished Fiery Serpent; then, as a token of the supremacy of Tifereth in the universe, they surrounded the head of Isis with a halo of twelve stars.
Doubtless, Sophia of the Rosicrucians and Isis of the Egyptian alchemists are the same as the wondrous woman in John’s vision. If he read John’s narrative of that vision a little farther, we will find the vanquished Serpent beneath Isis’s feet in the Apocalyptic “great red dragon.” The figure of Isis clothed with the Sun is one of the most impressive of the symbolic pictures of the Kabbalistic principles. When a person by Self-denial, meditation, and devotion has attained to the high privilege of subjective vision, he sees Isis or the Light of the subjective Sun. This is truly the mystical “lifting the veil of Isis.”
The Hexad: The Second and Third Triads of Emanation
The Celestial Sun, we have seen, is the fourth Sephira. The fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth Sephira are called, respectively, Hesed (Strength), Gevurah (Beauty), Netsah (Firmness), and Hod (Splendor). These Sephira represent four of the component colors of Light: Red, Yellow, Green and Blue. The Kabbalists fully understood the colors, their influence in Light and in Nature, their distinctive properties, and their action together and separately. They considered Red and Yellow the masculine or active colors and Green and Blue the feminine or passive colors. Red and yellow expressed the active, polarizing quality of Fire and Green and Blue, the passive, decomposing quality of Water.
The Celestial Sun having thus given forth the colors, as they come together again, or are focused, in Astral Suns, which appear as the ninth Sephira, designated Yesod (Foundation) because they are the centers of their systems, the life producers, propagators, and sustainers for the worlds that depend upon them.
Tifereth, Hesed and Gevurah form the second Triad, and Yesod, Netsah and Hod the third; these two Triads combined constitute the Hexad, which is the Soul of the World, and of it are derived the souls of all individualized existences. The second Triad depending upon the Celestial Sun is subjective, the third sustained by the Astral Suns is objective; the Hexad composed of the two contains both the subjective and objective principles, and souls consequently are likewise dual in their character. The objective or Solar part receives material impressions, and through it we obtain our knowledge of the material universe, the world of effects not causes. The subjective or Lunar part receives spiritual impressions, called intuitive perceptions, and it urges us to earnest seeking after illumination and Divine Wisdom. The Rosicrucians call the unitary Light of the Celestial Sun, Sophia (Wisdom of God). and Gevurah form the second Triad, and Yesod, Netsah and Hod the third; these two Triads combined constitute the Hexad, which is the Soul of the World, and of it are derived the souls of all individualized existences. The second Triad depending upon the Celestial Sun is subjective, the third sustained by the Astral Suns is objective; the Hexad composed of the two contains both the subjective and objective principles, and souls consequently are likewise dual in their character. The objective or Solar part receives material impressions, and through it we obtain our knowledge of the material universe, the world of effects not causes. The subjective or Lunar part receives spiritual impressions, called intuitive perceptions, and it urges us to earnest seeking after illumination and Divine Wisdom. The Rosicrucians call the unitary Light of the Celestial Sun, Sophia(Wisdom of God).
The Kabbalists maintain that the want of harmony of these two opposing parts within the soul places man in bondage to materiality and in darkness of higher Truths. The mission of the Kabbalist was to deliver individuals from this bondage and make them free by restoring the equilibrium or harmony within his soul. Those who achieve this deliverance and become obedient to the unitary divineprinciple, are called by the Kabbalists Illuminati because their souls are illuminated by the Light of the Celestial Sun, the Divine Sophia.
The Second Key to the Kabbalah: Fire
As, we have learned, pure white Light is the characteristic of En Soph (or Kether) and its Triad of the super-celestial world, and of Tifereth and its portion of the Hexad. This Light, too pure and dazzling for mortal vision, is seen alone by the subjective vision. Coming down to the objective portion of the Hexad, we find that Light loses its pure intense luster and becomes visible to the human organ of sight and this is because the Fire principle becomes ascendent in matter. Thus in the subjective portion of the soul Light rules and in the objective portion Fire is dominant. If the case where Light prevails, “the fruits of the Spirit” testify to its influence, but if the second state where Fire prevails, “the works of the flesh” bear witness to its buried power. The Kabbalists aptly call the soul in which the Celestial Sophia reigns, a Light Soul, while they as aptly style the soul wherein the subjective is subdued by the objective a Dark Soul. The former, the Child of Light or Illuminatus, cannot hide his Light. It will shine forth in his works and make him a Light of the World. However, so long as the Fire principle predominates, the Kabbalists tell us the soul cannot soar Above where the Divine Light is manifested, but it remains in bondage to darkness hovering around this world, trapped in matter.
While Fire appears to be an evil principle, the reader must not imagine that it is necessarily, in itself evil. It becomes an evil when the Law of Harmony no longer restrains its power, when it becomes master instead of servant. In Tifereth and in the Celestial World, there is Fire as well as Light, but perfect harmony keeps it in its place, so to speak, and it performs its assigned work in obedience to the Law of Harmony. What we have said of the duality of the soul, suggests a few words concerning the Kabbalistic doctrine of “probation.” The Kabbalah teaches that the mundane life is one of probation for the development of the spirit and purification of the soul, just as the fetal or embryonic life is a probation for the development of the physical form. The interplay of Light and Fire during these incarnated periods determine the character of the individual.
In the Tree of Life, a stylized conception of the ten Sephira, lines connecting the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth Sephira — the Hexad — bind Jezirah (the Celestial or Soul World). It is composed of the four Celestial elements, the universal Hyle (Ether), the First Matter, the Abyss, and the “Water Above the Firmament” (the “Fiery Water” of the alchemists). These elements are represented by the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth Sephira and correspond to the four elements of the material world: Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. The Rouach Elohim broods over “the Waters Above the Firmament,” and the angels, having themselves in their pure depths and living off Celestial ambrosia or Elixir, preserve their perfect health and ever refresh and renew their strength, vigor and vitality.
The Ninth Sephira: The Astral Sun of Fire and Light
The ninth Sephira, Yesod (Foundation), so named because it is the life-source and sustainer of the life of and upon the Terrestrial Worlds, represent the Astral Suns, or the Suns of the material worlds. These are emanations from the Celestial Sun, and they receive their Light and all their powers from that Central Orb. The Light of this Central Sun being too pure for mortal eyes, it is modified in the Astral Suns by permitting the Fire principle to prevail sufficiently to adapt it to human sight. The Law of Harmony is thus made less stringent in the Astral Sun not only to make them objectively visible, but to render their elements capable of Separation and Putrefaction, and thus suit them, as we shall see, to the necessities of the material worlds. This relaxing of the Law of Harmony enables us to use the two elements, Light and Fire, in a measure separately. It further enables us to analyze or separate the constituents of Light and Fire and apply them to multifarious and important uses of the material world.
Though God thus relaxes His Law of Harmony, it is only for the good of His creatures He does so, and He wisely maintains the law sufficiently in force to hold the Suns in their places and keep them to the Great Work He requires of them in His universal economy. Though He permits them to send forth destructive elements, He compels them to send likewise elements which, intelligently applied, counterbalance and antidote their power for evil, or compensate and remedy any evil wrought. Such is the teaching of the Kabbalah. The Astral Suns are truly, though in less or inferior degree, manifestations of the Divine Will. Since “no man can see Him and live,” He will not show even Moses all His glory, though He manifests himself in a special manner to him, and in an entirely different and less glorious manner to the Israelites as a people. So now to those who can behold it and live, He manifests himself in the Celestial Sun, and to those spiritually blind and incapable of receiving or enjoying so glorious a manifestation, He appears in the less glorious Astral Suns.
In fact, God has often chosen the element of Fire as His medium. For example, at His first appearing to Moses in the Burning Bush, and upon Mount Sinai to the children of Israel, when “the sight of the glory of Jehovah was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.” In numerous instances, when His presence was especially required, He came in fire to consume sacrifices upon altars, as when the prophet wished to attest His true majesty and prove the Baal counterfeit. It was, no doubt, in consequence of God’s frequent manifestation of Himself in and by Fire that the Persians and other people learned to regard Fire as the special symbol of God’s presence, and worshipped Fire, or worshipped God As Fire. The ancient alchemist Zoroaster regarded the astral Suns as emblems of the Sun of Truth, or the True Sun, the great Central Orb of the Universe — a shadow of the first source of all Splendor. For this reason, wise men of olden time saluted the rising of the sun in the east and the setting in the west, although they have been accused as being Sun-worshippers.
The Tenth Sephira: The Material Sun
The tenth Sephira is Malkuth (or Azirah, the material world or world of darkness), so named because the Divine or Celestial Light is not visible therein. Science teaches us that white is the harmonious blending of all the colors of Light, and that Black is the absence of all the colors. And where all the colors are absent, Light is certainly absent. Utter darkness is positive blackness, hence, darkness is the absence of Light. The Kabbalah tells us that when man disobeyed His Creator in attempting to steal forbidden knowledge, God punished him by withdrawing from him the Celestial Light in which he had hitherto basked, and God enforced the penalty by depriving him of the Light of Life, and thus of real Life itself. For spiritual Life is the real Life, and it is dependent absolutely upon Celestial Light. Man, having now fallen from the condition of harmony with God, and thus losing the capacity to enjoy close communion with Him, was “cast out of the garden” of Divine association and fellowship. The “flaming sword” that inhibited his approach to the “Tree of Life” was the prevalence in and about him of the Fire principle, which excluded him from further partaking of the Divine Sophia, that reaches the Law of Harmony and thus imparts the ability to “live forever.” Man, having lost spiritual sight and life, could not bequeath these to his posterity, and all his race are consequently “born blind.” But the All Wise One did not will that man should be perpetually blind and dead spiritually, and while His Justice was punishing, His Mercy announced a plan of again bringing “Life and Immortality to Light” by a new manifestation of Himself. That Divine plan is the inherent alchemy in man and in the universe
As part of the alchemy, Kabbalists have always maintained that Water contains Earth (earthly matter), and that the inorganic matter of the planets was precipitated from Water. This has been positively contradicted by modern science, though the alchemists have demonstrated it repeatedly, having precipitated from the pure oxygen and hydrogen of which water is composed copious quantities of an substance known as Adamac Earth.
The Unspeakable Name
The Greek alchemist Pythagoras correctly regarded the Ineffable Name of God — the Tetragrammaton or Four Letter Name — as the key to the mysteries of the universe and of its creation and preservation. This is “the Name” that so many have sought, that they might unlock the mystical secrets of Magic, discover the treasures of Symbolism, and fathom the depths of All Learning and Wisdom. Swedenborg declared “the Name” to have been lost, but he erred. According to the Kabbalists, it was only its pronunciation, and unfortunately its vibratory power, that was lost or obscured. “And God spoke unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my Name “Jehovah” was I not known to them.” This Name in the Hebrew has but four letters: yod (Y), he (H), vav (V), and he (H). The four letters are rendered in English by the consonants Y, H, V, and H since the vowels did not appear in the earlier written language of the Hebrews. In this Name, the loss of the pronunciation was due to the superstitious reverence the Hebrews entertained towards the word itself, which induced them whenever it occurred to substitute an entirely different word (i.e., “Adonai”) for it in the reading. From this dread of the word and avoidance of it, in time its awe-inspiring significance was lost. The Kabbalah has symbolized this “awe-full” Name of the Almighty by the Tetragrammaton, which has been vocalized as “jeh-ho-vah,” though later authorities almost always translated it as “the Lord.”
Now Pythagoras, a great and singularly learned man, took the four letters of the Tetragrammaton and, arranging them as a pyramid or cone within a double circle, derived the ten numbers of creation from them. These ten numbers represent the principles of all things. These principles are express two fundamental parameters of creation called unequal and equal, or active and passive, or masculine and feminine, and expressed in numbers as Unity and Duality, or Odd and Even. Numbers 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 express Unity; 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 express Duality. The uneven numbers are complete onto themeselves, limited, and finite; odd numbers incomplete, unlimited, and infinite. The absolute principle of all perfection is Unity, while Duality is imperfection. It is by the latter, that forces are produced by which differentiation is perfected in the number 10, which, as the sequel or sequence of the entire system, is regarded as a perfect number and represents man, the synthesis of all created energy.
The first letter Jod represents the Monad or Unity, the fountain of all things — the En Soph (or Kether) of the Sephiroth; the two central letters form the Dyad, the cause of increase and division, the two properties of Light (active and passive), Binah (Intelligence) and Hokmah (Wisdom) of the Sephiroth; the first three letters, containing the Monad and Dyad, form the Triad, and being thus a manifestation of En Soph constitute the Tifereth of the Sephiroth the Central Sun of the Universe.
Finally, the four letters of the Name of God (the Tetrad) separately represent the Hesed, Gevurah, Netsah and Hod, which are polarized into Yesod (the Astral Suns); the product of the Monad, Dyad, Triad, and Tetrad is the.Decad. As the sum of the four primary numbers it takes the name Tetractys, and, as the complement of creation, becomes the perfect number 10, which, as we have seen, represents man as the Synthesis. It encompasses, too, all musical and arithmetical proportions, and illustrates or denotes the system of the world.
Pythagoras defines God to be “absolute Verity or Truth clothed with Light,” and the Word embodied in the Light is the power that manifests forms. Or to state it differently: The Word is the Divine Executive, and at the same time the Revealer of the Mysteries of the Divine Will, the “hidden things of God.” Pythagoras was one of the most remarkable men of his day; not only was he learned in the ordinary sense beyond his time, but he was a Kabbalist of the highest order. He is said to have been initiated into the Divine secrets of Nature by Daniel and Ezekiel; he was subsequently, after much opposition, admitted to the Egyptian mysteries upon the personal recommendation of King Amosis (Moses?). His Tetractysis a fair illustration of his thorough acquaintance with Hermetic Science, as well as of his independence of thought. He was the founder of the renowned School of Crotona, upon the southeastern coast of Italy, about 500 B.C.
Pythagoras held that the Sun is the center of the solar system around which all the planets revolve; that the stars are Suns like ours, each the center of a system; that the earth revolves yearly around the Sun and daily on its axis; that the planets are inhabited, and that they and the earth are ever revolving in regular order, “keeping up a loud and grand celestial concert, inaudible to man, but, as the music of the spheres, audible to God.” He was never permitted to declare publicly what he knew and believed, but taught his immediate pupils all the wonders of his philosophy, under the most binding obligation of secrecy. Pythagoras was forbidden to divulge this knowledge because it would reveal the law of attraction and repulsion, which constituted one of the great secrets of the sanctuary; Over a millennium later, Newton was led to the discovery of these forces by his studies of the Kabbalah. Speaking of Pythagoras calls to our mind the following singular Kabbalistic enigma written by Plato and sent to Dionysius: “All things surround our King [God]. He is the cause of all good things, seconds for seconds and thirds for thirds.” This short statement expresses the complete philosophy of the Sephiroth. Plato too was an earnest and most intelligent Kabbalist.
While separate in their powers, the ten Sephira function as a single entity. The group of categories or spheres has been styled the “Tree of Life,” because it exhibits the true source of life and the means for the preservation and prolongation of life indefinitely into immortality. The Source is the Almighty Will of God as manifested in Light and the means for the preservation and prolongation of life is the Divine Sophia declaring itself in the beautiful Law of Harmony as applied to the creation and sustaining of the universe. The Sephiroth, though ten in appearance are but one in fact, are a manifestation of the Omnipotent Will in ten aspects; just as the flame and sparks of a fire appear as several objects to the eye and yet manifest but one fire, so the ten Sephira are apparently plural and are actually one with the En Soph, the Endless, Ineffable, Incomprehensible emanation from the God of Light and Life.
In the Tree of Life, the spheres range in three columns or pillars: the Central Pillar, comprising the “Crown” (the Celestial and Astral Suns), the alchemical Pillar of Salt, which has been called the Pillar of Hercules and more aptly the Pillar of Life. At the right of this central one, is the Active Pillar, consisting of Binah, Hesed, and Netsah (or Intelligence, Strength, and Firmness), which represent the Fire principle, the alchemical Sulfur, the masculine or active forces in creation and providence. At the left is the Passive Pillar, representing the Light principle, the alchemical Mercury, the feminine or passive properties in creation and providence, as expressed in Hokmah, Gevurah, and Hod (or Wisdom, Beauty, and Splendor). The two side pillars are in exact equilibrium, the active and passive qualities equally performing their functions. The universe came perfect from the Creator and moves in sublime beauty and complete utility, in undeviating accord with the Will that called it into being by the Word. And just as long and as far as these two principles are in absolute equipoise everything must continue “very good ” in God’s sight.
This equilibrium is exactly maintained until we reach the Astral Suns, when we find it disturbed, but it still is upheld and respected in part. When, however, we pass to the material world we find the blackness of darkness, because God’s Law of Harmony has been broken by man, and disharmony (or alchemical Chaos) has brought disease, decay, and death upon every species of life — even upon the earth the seal of doom is set. Change and dissolution are seen on all hands, but ultimately it shall pass away.
We have seen that although God’s Justice must be visited upon the world, and sickness and suffering, disease, decay, and death must follow the breach of the Law of Harmony, yet His Mercy and Goodness came to the rescue of the offender and his race by providing a remedy for spiritual blindness and death. Nor did His Infinite Kindness stop here. He has also furnished suitable remedies for the physical ills resulting from man’s fall; some of these remedial agents, like alchemy, were long since discovered and have been successfully applied for many years. Others have but recently been found out by science, and doubtless there are many the health-giving properties of which man has never yet discovered. Among those natural remedies which are only now in course of discovery are the color spectrums of the objective light of our world, which we believe are destined, at no very distant day, to work a sensible change in the therapeutic practice not only of our country but of the world. Light itself will force and win its way into a great, beneficent work among the sick and suffering. Indeed, there seems to us a peculiar fitness in this appropriation of the Sun’s bright beams: the withdrawal of the Light of the Sun of Suns entailed sickness, pain and death upon man, and now shall not the beams from that Sun’s offspring, the Sun of our Solar System, be placed under tribute for the relief of suffering.