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Kabbalah - Mysteries of Kabbalistic Thought

14 Kabbalah in non-Jewish society

Kabbalah eventually gained an audience outside of the Jewish community. Nominal-Christian versions of Kabbalah began to develop; by the early 18th century some kabbalah came to be used by some hermetic philosophers, neo-pagans and other new religious groups.

Hermetic Kabbalah

The Western Esoteric (or Hermetic) Tradition, a precursor to both the neo-Pagan and New Age movements, is intertwined with aspects of Kabbalah. Within the Hermetic tradition, much of Kabbalah has been changed from its Jewish roots through syncretism, but core Kabbalistic beliefs are still recognizably present.

"Hermetic" Kabbalah, as it is sometimes called, probably reached its peak in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a 19th-century organization that was arguably the pinnacle of ceremonial magic (or, depending upon one's position, its ultimate descent into decadence). Within the Golden Dawn, Kabbalistic principles such as the ten Sephiroth were fused with Greek and Egyptian deities, the Enochian system of angelic magic of John Dee, and certain Eastern (particularly Hindu and Buddhist) concepts within the structure of a Masonic- or Rosicrucian-style esoteric order. Many of the Golden Dawn's rituals were exposed by the legendary occultist Aleister Crowley and were eventually compiled into book form by Israel Regardie, an author of some note. The credibility of Crowley is inconsistent at best though, as many of the rituals "exposed" were actually manipulated versions.

Crowley made his mark on the use of Kabbalah with several of his writings; of these, perhaps the most illustrative is Liber 777. This book is quite simply a set of tables relating various parts of ceremonial magic and Eastern and Western religion to thirty-two numbers representing the ten spheres and twenty-two paths of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. The attitude of syncretism displayed by Hermetic Kabbalists is plainly evident here, as one may simply check the table to see that Chesed (חסד "Mercy") corresponds to Jupiter, Isis, the color blue (on the Queen Scale), Poseidon, Brahma, and amethysts--none of which, certainly, the original Jewish Kabbalists had in mind!

However popular within certain sects, especially the Thelemic Orders such as the O.T.O. and Lon Milo DuQuette's Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford, Crowley is not without critics. Dion Fortune, a fellow initiate of the Golden Dawn, disagreed with Crowley, and her work The Mystical Qabalah implicitly states this. Elphas Levi's works such as Transcendental Magic, heavily steeped in esoteric Kabbalah (rendering it very difficult to understand correctly; it is completely misunderstood by critics), agrees. Samael Aun Weor has many significant works that discuss Kabbalah within many religions usually considered unrelated to Kabbalah, such as the Egyptian, Pagan, and Central American religions, which is summarized in his work The Initiatic Path in the Arcana of Tarot and Kabbalah.

Fictional representations

The anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion utilised the Kabbalah imagery heavily and implied a secret portion of the Kabbalah contained within the Dead Sea scrolls and maintained through time by various individuals and operating in a group currently known as SEELE (which, in production materials for the series, are identified with the Essenes). Imagery such as the Systema Sephiroticum is utilised by various characters in the decorum of their offices and operation areas. During an apocalyptic sequence, referred to as the "Third Impact", in the film End of Evangelion, heavy use of the Tree of Life is undertaken, both visually and with characters "walking through" the explanation of what is happening.

The comic series Promethea by Alan Moore draws heavily on Kabbalah, and is in large part a framework for an overview and explanation of many Kabbalistic concepts. The main character journeys up through the entire tree of life over the course of many issues exploring the symbolism and meaning of each level and of the journey itself.

Umberto Eco's 1989 novel Foucault's Pendulum weaves Kaballistic concepts into an imagined global conspiracy involving Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, druidism, and the Knights Templar. The book's ten sections are named after the ten Sefiroth

 

 



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