[NB] Kabbalism and Spiritualism: Dramatis Personae

I keep coming back to this. The questions that animate spiritualism seem like they find many answers in Kabbalism both narrowly (e.g., through texts like the Sefer Yetzirah and the Zohar) and broadly (e.g., in relationship to the broader horizon of Middle Eastern mysticism, be it Christian, Islamic, Jewish, or other) construed. At the heart of this is the interplay of the material and spiritual, especially around the question of idolatry and iconography.

This is hardly accidental, I know. There are cords of common history that join them and that common history makes them mutually intelligible to each other. But they also seem to operate within a common spiritual ecosystem, albeit one that may not be immediately apparent to either.

There are Kabbalist warnings about the misuse of the the magical understanding, warnings which are clearly tied up with the creation of idolatrous spiritual worlds that complicate rather than purify. Inversely, spiritualism has often been involved with identifying spiritual worlds and their orders so that souls might be purified from within them.

The lines and legions of spiritism define operations and practices through which a spirit embodied in a tangle of immediate issues can be disentangled and moved upward toward pure divinity. They function as something of a rescue operation directed at souls (of all sorts) who have become entangled in various fallen worlds, false spiritual heavens, spirits that have been captured or produced darkness within the light.

Spiritism is a sort of spiritual dramaturgy aimed at a catharsis of the actors rather than an audience. That catharsis aims at nothing less than the dissolution of the role and the release of what animates it. You set the stage in order to undo it. What you undo it into, though, is the wondrous heavens, the arms of God, the path toward the Jerusalem.

Which makes me rethink the description in the Zohar of Satan springing forth to capture the misused words of ignorant Kabbalists. If, as the Zohar also affirms, all things have a place in the divine plan, then the capture of these words serves a purpose. The captured words allow these spirits to generate worlds into which lost souls can be caught and those who appreciate these worlds for what they are can use them as the means of purifying those lost souls.

What you need to be careful about is not getting lost in the drama, not losing yourself to the story. The drama is a tool to put to use. At the end, the clothes need to be shed and the luminous being released.

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