Sefer Yetzirah in History, Practice, and Experience

[Another page fed back into the blog. Like the previous page to post, this one also has relevance to the upcoming series.]

I haven’t spent much time talking about what I imagine the lifeworld of these ritual practices to have been, what sort of events and intentions animated their organization as well as their dispersal and divergence. I want to correct that a little, starting with the Sefer Yetzirah (SY). This is speculative, driven by imagination and informed by historical and spiritual study. The image of the past derived from it serves a spiritual purpose, though, as something with which I can dialogue as I develop a framework of meaning that supports my work.

I want to start with some broad historical context and then proceed to the speculation.

Continue reading Sefer Yetzirah in History, Practice, and Experience”

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[NB] The Roots of Apocalypse

I want to revisit the distinction between atonement, prophecy, and apocalypse. When I last wrote about them, I noted that they operated on a common scale. Atonement regulated, prophecy criticized, and apocalypse transformed. While those structures that animate atonement and prophecy do seem vital to understanding apocalypse, I was reaching somewhat to call apocalypse ‘transformative.’ I suspect transformation belongs more properly to the evolutionary than to the apocalyptic, though I do think transformation can be reconnected to the regulative and critical dimensions of atonement and prophecy.

Distinguishing an evolutionary aesthetic from an apocalyptic one will then demand some attention to that shared structure. When all is said and done, I think it is possible to replace the apocalyptic with the evolutionary while preserving a place for both atonement and prophecy. It isn’t said and done yet,, and I will need to spend a little more time with the apocalypse proper to get there.

This post is broken into two sections. The first contextualizes Revelation rhetorically and symbolically in relationship to atonement and prophecy. The second examines Revelation from an esoteric perspective.

Continue reading “[NB] The Roots of Apocalypse”

[NB] The Concubine’s Story

I want to flag this for further consideration:

“Abraham was fully aware of the magical and idolatrous uses that could be developed from these mysteries. The Talmud thus says that Abraham had a tract dealing with idolatry that consisted of 400 chapters. There is also a Talmudic teaching that Abraham taught the mysteries involving ‘unclean names’ to the children of his concubines. This is based on the verse, ‘to the sons of the concubines that Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and he sent them away…to the lands of the east’ (Genesis 25:6). These gifts consisted of occult mysteries, which then spread in eastern Asia.”— Aryeh Kaplan, Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation in Theory and Practice (xiii–xiv)

This, combined with Kaplan’s observation that the work of creation ought to be undertaken by a pair of men, places this tale of origins alongside the rich vein of Tamar stories that I spoke about previously.

Continue reading “[NB] The Concubine’s Story”

American Babylon

I often feel like the indigenous American contributions to global occultism get short schrift. In the early phase, they were concealed by the pseudo-ethnographic attitude taken by Europeans, the sort of exciting and titillating tales that fueled occult fantasies (much like the latter New Age fantasises, which are often built atop older layers of European fantasy) but not in a way that could be easily identified. This was compounded by the devestation wrought on the cultures by disease and imperial disruption.

Continue reading “American Babylon”