Segol talks for some time aboue the golem operation which is almost always closely related to the Sefer Yetzirah in the manuscripts she studies. As she talks about the gathering of dirt, I am thinking over the long relationship my practice has had with dirt, beginning almost a decade ago when a spirit suggested that I might find the ‘church of dirt’ more suited to my work and disposition, a church that my spirits have repeatedly rooted in an ambiguously Levantine antiquity. It seems like just one more way in which the SY work seems to be one of the capstones of the practice that I already have.
I did mention that I wanted to try and add a few more visual elements to these discussions, right? I wanted to try and sketch out the way emanation could be modeled using the SY’s description of the sefirot as a starting point.
Yesterday, I had a brief exchange between Ted Hand and Cole Tucker on twitter that warrants a lengthier response for which twitter is not suited. The discussion began with a question from Ted as to whether we should identify the Kabbalistic sefirot with the Neoplatonic henads. He also posted a snippet from a related discussion in which the Porphyrian Tree was used to suggest the common roots of Kabbalah and Neoplatonism (here is a link to Wikipedia where you can see the tree more clearly).
I want to unpack my answer (that the proper units of comparison should be between the henads and the channels of the tree, the henads and the sacred alphabet) because I think that comparison helps to differentiate the Kabbalistic perspective from the Neoplatonic one. The tendency to fuse Kabbalism and Neoplatonism has obscured fundamental differences between them and I want to talk about how my practice has led me to redifferentiate them. This is primarily a conceptual discussion, though, and I touch on practical matters lightly, as illustrative tangents.
It seems like the next arc of this process requires some attention to be paid to the Lurianic sense that this world we live in results from a breakdown in the natural emanation of creation. Luria’s account remains more firmly orthodox than do some of his enthusiastic followers, definitely more so than anything I have or will develop through an appreciation of it. So, let me talk a little about that before I strike out from there.
This morning I woke from dream with a bit of a headache, the sort I have come to associate with dreams that are just a little too big for the ole’ noggin. In the dream, Adam West’s Batman was explaining to me the principle of substitution while burning blue spheres of light spun slowly behind him, suggesting the tree of life.
The message was simple, that each sphere or sefirot was defined by the way in which it substituted one thing for another. Each sefirot had a basic substance which it used to represent to itself the message it received from other sefirot. There wasn’t a clear sense that this followed any easy pattern of descent or ascent, and there was a sense that the message retained some part of its original constitution. Over the course of being passed between several sefirot, a message would end up being a hodge podge of substances, of feeling and thought, matter and spirit.
There was a clear sense that this paralleled the way in which language operated. In the same way that language takes sounds and modulates them into meaning, so too does each sefirot modulate what it receives. Like language, the original medium (sound) remains and occasionally causes problems and resistance.