My first introduction to Qabalah was around the year 2005, through the works of a Hermetic initiatory order. The Qabalah is a form of mystical correlations that create a framework linking Divinity to humanity, and even what is below humanity.
While there are many versions of Qabalah, there are three types of note spelled in English with a Q, K and C. Spelled with a K, Kabbalah refers to the Hebrew form of Kabbalah – that is the traditional form. Spelled with a C, Cabbalah is the Christian form of Kabbalah. Spelled with a Q, Qabalah refers to any form of Qabalah that relates to Hermeticism.
Why It’s Overused
As an initiate of Western Hermeticism (in various forms over the years), Qabalah is always a staple. Perhaps it’s a staple because it’s a generic template you can apply and have an instant system of mystical power. It can be overplayed in Freemasonry or a spiritual system and you have an instant system of corresponding elements.
Qabalah is complex. Everything from the nature of Self, to the path of return (enlightenment) is covered. Magic systems utilize the various corresponding qualities of elements, colors, and attributing angels and forces for even greater effect.
There are few systems that use their own methodology this complex and rich and while it works, there’s a drawback.
Why I Felt Odd about Qabalah
At first I enjoyed the use of Qabalah. Qabalah bridges magic to the Abrahamic belief systems – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. While the orthodox versions of these religions openly frown and downright condemn magic and mysticism, each of these has a mystical undercurrent.
Judaism has Kabbalah, Christianity has Gnosticism and Cabbalah, and Islam has Sufism. In the 18th century, spiritual societies began to utilize ancient Egyptian mythos, and Qabalah to form their mystical rites. Today it’s no different, even more groups use some form of Qabalah to overlay a complex spiritual system, gaining an instant system that they can work with their own philosophy. Even Left Hand Path initiates use the dark forms of Qabalah, which I find very confusing (why invoke the power of the Abrahamic god if you are against the Abrahamic god?). But most groups are compatible to Abrahamic faith, and therefore benefit from the relationship of Qabalah.
It wasn’t until I actually read the Christian bible, that I began to have reservations. Over time I began to see that the Bible wasn’t a wonderful book of a loving god, but a god that reflected the barbarous activities of age. He was cruel, angry, prone to wrath… he killed the entire world, and when he wasn’t killing, he ordered men to kill – kill even children (Numbers 31:17).
Moses is no saint either. Consider how in Numbers 31, he orders soldiers to kill off an enemy tribe. When his soldiers return with women and children captives from the war, Moses gets angry instructing the soldiers to kill every child and every woman who had “slept with a man.” Only the “virgin women,” would be spared as their war trophies.
If that doesn’t turn your stomach, then the other passages about killing children who curse their parents, killing women who show no signs of virginity on their wedding night, or killing a high priest’s daughter who fornicates… well that might. Not to mention all the laws pertaining to purity killings – like killing men who work on the Sabbath.
To put it simply – the Abrahamic god was not a nice, loving character. He is depicted as cruel, allowing for the rape of women (notice no law against that), and the murder of children (he certainly wasn’t “pro life.”)
Once I saw the Bible for what it was… I began to feel that invoking the energies of the Qabalah was an invocation of those same forms of intolerance and violence. While it may not affect anyone, it bothered me. Why pay homage to a god who orders women and children to be murdered? Why do hero worship to Moses or Paul the apostle who were both misogynist totalitarians?
I ended up leaving the systems of magic that relied on Qabalah, moving in a direction of devotion and mysticism. Every now and then I would feel a tug at the old books on my shelf – those books of Qabalah.
Once in awhile I’d hop back into a group like B.O.T.A. or the Traditional Martinist Order… and Qabalah is once again fed through the message. Usually I’d stop and walk away, grumbling about the inconsistent message.
One day though I dug in deep. I pondered what other thinkers must have thought about it. Consider Aleister Crowley. There’s an occultist who utilized Qabalah, but who had a very hostile view of the Bible from which it was derived.
It came to me that perhaps Qabalah isn’t the establishing of the old barbarism of the past, but the redefining of it. In other words, perhaps it isn’t about invoking the old energies of the dictator god who abhors freedom, but going beyond those old concepts that were reflections of the men who created the old religion.
It also came to me, that perhaps Qabalah isn’t even about linking with the Abrahamic view of god at all. What view of Divinity do I have? That view, what I call Creator, can be sublimated into the name of god (what in Qabalah is the Tetragramaton).
As for the hierarchies of beings, perhaps these aren’t beings at all. Perhaps there is no angel of some zodiacal degree… perhaps this is all energy. Energy in various hues and tastes. In order to access and work with the energy, the magical use of Qabalah has given those energy patterns names, anthropomorphizing it. Ariel/Uriel becomes the voice of the Energy associated with the “North” (earth/wealth/growth); Michael becomes the anthropomorphic identity of fiery energy of the South… and so on.
In this way, the beings are not Beings sitting out there waiting for you to invoke them… they are energy forms… as all things are energy anyway. The table, chair, wall… it’s all energy. But give it a name… “Clarise is the name of my chair,” and talk to it to coax some relaxation out of it when you sit down, and perhaps you have a new form of magic. Is this any different?
Dropping the names, realizing the truth of the energy, one could interact with the energy itself… like taking off the training wheels, the aspirant can directly work and access.
Is Qabalah offering you anything unique? Or is it bolstering one’s own confidence? In other words, does Qabalah really offer power in the system, or does all the authority of a “god” and its angels confer confidence in the work itself? If you believe in your work, without Qabalah, could you attain the same quality of result?
These questions I’ve answered for myself, but I pose here without answer for the reader to consider.