Rethinking Astrological Priority in the Sefer Yetzirah

I’ve been going through the thirty-one drafts that I had accumulated for this blog. I went through them ruthlessly and was left with nine posts that I can’t quite let go. They were composed at various points over the last few years, some reference discussions on blogs that don’t exist, and they are united in not quite fitting in with whatever I was working on at the time, oftentimes picking up a thread from an earlier post that I had left behind.

I want to shut this blog down cleanly, so before I get to the summation I am going to clear them out. That means some rewriting and, so far, that process has already resulted in one of those posts being binned, happily. Others of the nine will surely follow it into the bin, but I will probably end up posting at least a few of them. Those that do will be posted because (1) I like them, flaws and all, (2) they might be useful to someone else thinking about these things, even if only to disagree with, and (3) they are linked to some discussion that has gone on here, even if it is a very old discussion.

Continue reading “Rethinking Astrological Priority in the Sefer Yetzirah

[NB] 7 Husbands

Yuval Harari’s Jewish Magic before the Rise of Kabbalah includes material that clarifies the relationship between magical skulls and incantation bowls, the tight linkage between witchcraft and harlotry, the invocation of angelic spirits (‘princes’) to acquire knowledge of both a practical and theoretical sort (most especially knowledge and understanding of the Torah), and so on. As the title suggests, it focuses on the pre-medieval dimensions of the Jewish magical tradition, looking quite a bit at the rabbinic material, but it does dip into the debates that are taking place on the eve of the medieval era (most prominently those defined by Maimonides).

Continue reading “[NB] 7 Husbands”

Geomantic Bet (Saturn, Saturday, Left or Inner Nostril)

ב

Geomantic carcer.svg          Geomantic conjunctio.svg

I begin with Bet’s figures because Bet occupies a privileged place in all of the assemblages of double letters. It is the first letter after Alef and it gives shelter to the first letter and through its relationship to the other doubles begins the process of differentiation in creation. Carcer and Conjunctio bear witness to Bet’s character and it is from that character they arise and to which they return. In that movement of going and returning, they develop a network of affiliations which develop and modulate that character.

In the planetary circuit, Bet precedes all of the doubles but firstly Gimel. In the sequence of the week, it is the Sabbath, the bezel and treasure mounted in the series of days, between Pe and Kaf. Upon the plane of orifices that constitute the face, it is the left nostril and with Tav is the secret to the regulation of the vital breath. Within the Tree of Life, it is the highest double, crowned with Keter on the central pillar and resting upon Tifaret. Carcer and Conjunctio accompany it in all of its operations.

Continue reading “Geomantic Bet (Saturn, Saturday, Left or Inner Nostril)”

Gnosticism and the Abjads

The science of letters is a fairly obscure element to many contemporary folks who are interested in gnosticism, but it forms an essential aspect of it. Gnosticism is born alongside the alphabet, most specifically with the abjads, and its relationship to knowledge and understanding is shaped by it. The alphabet also anchors gnosticism in a cultural time and space, distinguishing it from a family of spiritual and linguistic practices that take other forms of writing as their point of departure.

Continue reading “Gnosticism and the Abjads”

[NB] Snakes on a Cross

I’ve talked about the snake thing before. It’s a through line for me and I continue to marvel at its vivacity. Refutation of All Heresies* devotes the entirety of Book 5 to different expressions of serpentine gnosis. It’s not a small section of the Refutation, coming to some 80 pages of translated material. The text is divided between four main sects identified as Naassenes, Peratai, Sethians (not the same gnostic group identified by many contemporary scholars as Sethian), and the followers of Justin.

Continue reading “[NB] Snakes on a Cross”

[NB] Elementals: War in Heaven

So, Mothers, Doubles, Elementals. 3, 7, 12. When the SY starts to talk about the Elementals, it does so through an illuminating recuperation of the Mothers and the Doubles, emphasizing in each case the way in which the Mothers and Doubles each manifest with an intermediary force.

The Mothers have a pan of liability (Shin) and a pan of merit (Mem), with the tongue of decree (Alef). The Doubles are three against three, with a mediator (I think the three-three-one pattern can manifest in a few ways, so let’s save that for another discussion). But the Elementals? They are at war (three lifegivers, three killers, three allies, three enemies).

Continue reading “[NB] Elementals: War in Heaven”