Following a little from a discussion I had in the comments of the last post, I want to talk a little about how it is possible to use the Kabbalistic tree of life to differentiate and unite two dimensions of creation according to their relationship to the future (i.e., to Keter). In thinking about how Keter serves as the point from which these two dimensions are projected also enriches our understanding of futurity itself.
So, per the last few posts, there are two major emanations, Malkuth and Chokmah. Malkuth (Breath of the Breath) is an expression of temporality itself and hence its identification as the past to Keter’s future. It is also within this temporal existence that spatiality unfurls, making time more essential to being and space within the Kabbalistic frame.
Chokmah is an expression of the future in a somewhat indirect fashion, as a moral injunction about how the future should develop. It is the realm of thou shalts and shalt nots, of encouragement and discouragement. The gap between ought and is parallels the gap between Chokmah and Malkuth. We can understand Binah’s derivative nature thereby. Tied to the pillar of severity, of limitation, we see in Binah the consequences of attempting to violate the moral order.
Since the tree of life encompasses the totality of creation, the consequences for this model are equally immense. The whole of creation is moral, the whole of creation exists within an ethical framework, even if we are not subject to (or even privy to) the specific injunctions. This pervasive moral dimension to the universe is also the underpinnings of Kabbalistic magic.
The Kabbalistic framework for magic could be called “the negotiation of ethical demands and responsibilities in accordance with the divine will,” as long it was understood that the divine will is itself capable of modulating itself in response to the Kabbalist. That’s the big deal here, by the way. Keter is a point of dialogue between Malkuth and the Holy of Holies. There is no room for Calvin’s predestination here (though there is plenty of room for both prescience as well as hardship).
This joins Kabbalism more firmly to the Western/European tradition that it helped inspire. It also reconnects that Western/European tradition to a richer, global substratum of magical thinking with spirit practices that have developed within a frameowork of ethical and moral negotiations. Consciousness and evolution are entangled with each other and magic, and all three are entangled with ethics.
Much as the subtle world helps give birth to the sciences in Malkuth, it also helps give birth to legal and ethical traditions in their diversity. This is not a matter of dictation, of spirits simply rattling off orders. Rather, the spirits instill within people the sense of how to engage in moral negotations, from which they are able to take up that work for themselves and on their own scale.
This is one of the misfires of many forms of fundamentalism and traditionalism—they treat a specific moment of moral inspiration as good enough, missing the lesson and demand that the inspiration be realized through action and reflection that develops and modulates it. They also ignore the fundamantal nature of Keter as the future. From Keter, new forms of moral inspiration can emerge, new forms of moral life. Those don’t simply up-end the old, but they can be on equal footing with the old.
Through Kabbalism, the philosophical traditions of Europe also (re)open toward the common human experience of the world as spiritual and magical. It provides something of an opportunity for enlivening some of the worst excesses of materialism without losing touch with the wonders of the material world.
I’m out traveling for a few days with uncertain internet access, so there probably won’t be the usual weekend posting from me. Take care.