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).
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.
Threes are all over this blog, such that it seems a little silly to even try to provide a set of links that would survey it. It’s an understatement to say that the rule of three in the Saadia tree of life excites me (I’m starting to feel like I need that blog post on autodial). I wanted to talk about it last, though, because I didn’t want to pin all my associations with three-ness to the rule of three in a bout of confused over-enthusiasm. This post is more calm that it would have been previously, but there is still a bit of enthusiasm; please forgive me if this post is a little more fragmented.
Dreams of Dumuzi have been pushing me into the new year. The sorts of dreams that are full, buzzing with strange images and scenes that are difficult to remember, in part because they all seem to be the foreword wave ahead of something bigger. The dreams are all over the place, but behind them is a name and heavy presence: Dumuzi.
Like much of theoretical speculation here, there is a practical case that motivates my thinking about the mythical depths of the seemingly historical Bible. The Bible provides me with many of the tropes through which I have worked out some of the more intimate dimensions of my spiritual court. I am sure some of that is growing up Catholic, but several elements have little to do with the Biblical world of my Catholic childhood. Like Absalom, the rebellious son of David, like Tamar.
This one is longer than usual.
(Which isn’t to say that these stories are strictly Christian or Jewish. They fall into a globally-distributed pattern of myths.)