The Year of Jubilee
A Season in Hell
And though her eyes are fixed upon Noah’s great Rainbow,
She spends her time peeking into Desolation Row.
Bob Dylan, “Desolation Row”
Poets have imagined the path to Hell in many different ways. Dante’s approach to the Inferno took him through a dark, impenetrable forest where he was menaced by the bestial incarnations of his own untamed passions. For Dante’s mentor, the Latin poet Virgil, the passport to the Underworld was the Golden Bough of a mythical oak tree. Virgil's Golden Bough was, perhaps, a reminder of the branch of the forbidden Tree of Eden — the one keepsake that Adam was permitted to take with him from the Garden.
It’s worth considering why Hell has been the defining theme of visionary poetry, from Homer and Apollonius to Virgil and Dante, from Milton and Blake to Rimbaud and Eliot. The realm of such poetry is the human Imagination, and so this must be the realm in which Hell exists. This is not to say that Hell is not Real, though it certainly is a vulgar misconception to think of it within the framework of the temporal, physical Reality we encounter in our everyday lives.
Above the entrance to his Inferno, Dante posted the following inscription:
Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
se non etterne, e io etterna duro.
Before me nothing was created that
was not eternal, and I endure eternally.
According to Dante, Hell was the last of all the Eternal things to be created by the Divine Power, the Divine Justice, and the Divine Love. Before we consider the “last-born” of God’s Eternal creations, let’s review what we know about the “first-born”. In Chapter One, we discovered that the first of all created things was the Quintessence, the imperishable ethereal Light. Before beginning to create the Universe, God withdrew this Quintessence from the super-symmetrical Vessels, aka Sephirot, which He/She had shaped to receive the Light. This withdrawal or constriction of the Divine Essence was a metaphysical event called the Tzimtzum.
The Tzimtzum was actually the first phase of a two-step process by which the Quintessence was first withdrawn and then reintroduced once an array of suitable Vessels/Sephirot had been formed. This network of interdependent Vessels is traditionally depicted as a great Tree. In order that the Tree might receive the influx of ethereal Light, however, it had to have an “opening” through which to admit the Light. In other words, the array of Sephirot could not be self-contained, but rather had to remain, in a certain sense, incomplete and imperfect until its Vessels were filled with Light.
Drawing once more on our discussion in the first chapter, we know that the withdrawn Quintessence was reintroduced to the Tree from below, which is to say, from the Abyss wherein its roots lay. While the Abyss is the metaphysical “locale” of Hell, we should be aware that the two are not synonymous. Since the Abyss could offer no resistance to the inflow of Quintessence, it had to remain totally void — a quality described by the Hebrew term Bohu. We’ve learned that the emptiness of Bohu is always accompanied by the Chaos of Tohu. And Chaos, we should remind ourselves, is not a condition of “disorder”, but rather is a state of affairs so highly ordered and intricately structured as to defy rational comprehension.
With our diminished consciousness, we tend to think of “order” as a pattern in which things or events are extrinsically linked to one another. We consider a pattern to be orderly if we can figure out how to “connect the dots”, so to speak. But Chaos is a type of order based on internal connections, comprised of “dots within dots” — or, better said, “patterns within patterns”. Such “patterns within patterns” are known as fractals, and they have two traits that make them uniquely suited to the transmission of the Quintessence. First, since a fractal can be viewed on an infinite number of levels, it lends itself to the inexhaustible layers of meaning embodied in the quintessential Light. Second, because a fractal may be endlessly extended without disrupting its intricate pattern, it alone can accommodate the Quintessence’s capacity for unlimited expansion without any diminution of intensity.
When the sublime Light was reintroduced, therefore, it had to transform the original “point-to-point” network of the Sephirotic Tree into a system of interlocked fractal patterns. During this transition, the Female and Male sides of the Tree momentarily lost contact with one another. Going back to Dante’s terminology, we could say that the hand of the Divine Justice became detached, if only for an inconceivably brief instant, from the hand of the Divine Love. As a result, Lady Justice became an avenging Nemesis, whose terrible sword of Judgment strikes with unmitigated harshness and severity. In the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life, Divine Love corresponds to the Sephirah Chesed, while Divine Justice applies to the Sephira Gevurah. It was at this level of the Tree, therefore, that the primordial breakdown know as the “Shattering of the Vessels” or Shevirah occurred. As we learned in Chapter Two, the Shevirah was a dissociation of the Male-Subjective and Female-Objective poles of Consciousness. Preceding the dawn of Time, this event is known to us as the Fall of the Angels. It precipitated the breakup of the World Soul (aka the Pleroma) and the creation of Hell.
But before God would create Hell, She/He created a penultimate Eternal entity as a sort of prophylaxis against it. What He/She created was the Torah, which was the embodiment of the ethereal Light in a form that could be assimilated by fallen Consciousness. God began by fashioning the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet from the debris of the Shattered Vessels. This bears witness to the fact that, in the Mind of God, there is no such thing as catastrophe or misfortune. All events are made to serve the Divine purpose, and all creatures are to be redeemed in the final end. God’s economy is the height of frugality, for She/He will permit absolutely nothing to be wasted. When the spot of severe Judgment fell upon the perfect page of Eternity, it appeared like a stain, like a black dot on a completely white page. The Lord seized upon this dot and grew it to become the Hebrew letter Yod י, the first letter in His Holy Name יהוה . Being the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Yod represented the ten Vessels that comprise the Tree of Life, and it foreshadowed the ten utterances by which God-Elohim would create our Universe.
spot of severe Judgment continued to spread like an ink-drop across the
erstwhile spotless page of Eternity. As
it spread, its shape successively assumed the forms of the 22 letters from
Aleph א to Tau ת . Together the first and last letters spelled
the word את , a Hebrew preposition signifying
proximity. Nearness is a relationship in
Space, and so the completion of the Hebrew alphabet gave rise to the idea of
Space. Before there could be actual
Space, there had to be the concept of Space in the Supreme Consciousness. Which is to say that, before a Thing takes on
a material form, it must first arise as an idea in the Mind of the Holy
One. This, after all, is the gist
Space, then, was the first of the non-Eternal things. Only after the opening of a Space in the fabric of Eternity could Time come into Being. When we think about it, we can understand why Time could never possibly have been the first of things. After all, must there not always be two moments to determine an interval of Time? At least two ticks of the Clock to confirm that “Time has passed”? Therefore, the perception of Time always assumes a precedent event.
When Time came into being, it completed the writing of the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet Tau, which depicts the sign of the Cross. The Cross is the sign of the Messiah whose coming signals the end of Time. Therefore, the moment at the end of Time was already enclosed and hidden in the very first instant of Time. This is why we speak of the end of Time as an “uncovering” (apokalypsis in Greek) of something that has always been there, yet still remains to be seen.
Now, the emergence of Space and Time required of the Creatrix various acts of separation. For there to be Space, there must be four directions — indeed, even four dimensions, according to Einstein’s General Relativity. For there to be Time, there must be two directions — Past and Future — and perhaps even two temporal dimensions, if physicist Stephen Hawking’s theories are correct. This gives us a six-dimensional Reality, in which are manifested the Eternal Forms, or what the Hebrews called the Elohim. We should recall, from our discussion in Chapter Two, that the six-fold Symmetry of the Elohim generates 26 or 64 Eternal Forms, through which the Divine Similitude is imprinted on the Soul.
we have spoken of the Elohim as a multifarious Female aspect of the Godhead,
corresponding to the Sephirah Binah. But
we must beware of regarding the Elohim as an autonomous Female deity. The word Elohim
— typically translated into English as “God” — is an odd construction in the
Hebrew language, because it is formed from the feminine singular Eloah with the masculine plural ending ’im. Perhaps this anomaly occurs because the word
Elohim has evolved from earlier form Elohayim, which is not the generic plural, but instead
has the “dual” suffix, signifying an inseparable pair. Into this “dual” category of plural nouns in
Hebrew fall such things as matching body parts like eyes, ears, hands, and
feet. Male and female couples are also
designated by the dual ending — as, for example, in the word shenayim used to describe the pairs of
animals which Noah was instructed to bring into the
So the Elohim are the integral and inseparable components of a bipolar Godhead which encompasses both the Male and the Female principles. This is why, when God-Elohim made Man in His/Her own Image, He/She initially created him to be a Spiritual hermaphrodite, like the Angels. When it came time to clothe the letters and words of Creation in matter and in flesh, however, the poles of Male and Female had to be drawn apart. That’s why we have the wonderful metaphor, in Genesis= second chapter, of Eve being extracted from Adam’s loins. When Male and Female drew apart as separate and distinguishable poles in the Upper World, the same process of sexual differentiation also took place in the Lower Worlds.
It is the emergence of distinct sexual polarities in God-Elohim that allows Him/Her to procreate. Thus, it is a decidedly pregnant Elohim who broods upon the face of the great Ocean of chaotic emptiness in the first chapter of Genesis. Birth is a process of separation, and the first division that God-Elohim decreed was a separation between Light and Darkness, between Day and Night. By segregating Day and Night, Elohim established the cyclical character of Time, which renews itself in days, weeks, months, years, centuries, millennia and Ages.
Darkness, however, doesn’t necessarily imply the absence of Light. From a scientific standpoint, we know that the oxymoron “invisible Light” describes an actual type of energy. There are species of Light whose waves are too short, too finely divided for our mortal eyes to detect them. “Ultra-violet” light is an example of such “invisible Light”. In fact, according to the laws of classical thermodynamics, all energy in the Universe should have transformed itself into “invisible Light” in less than a nanosecond after the Big Bang. To prevent that from happening, the Creatrix had to set a lower limit to the separation of Light and Darkness. She had to establish a “floor”, below which the division of Light could not proceed. This floor or Foundation is something which modern physics describes as the “quantum limit”, while William Blake calls it the “Limit of Opacity”.
It follows that physical Reality, as we know it, only becomes possible after the quantum limit, aka the Limit of Opacity, is established. Furthermore, the unique genre of physical Reality capable of supporting Self-Conscious beings like ourselves is so highly improbable that it demands that the quantum limit be set with inconceivable exactness. The actual value of this physical limit in our Universe can be expressed in a dimensionless constant, known as Alpha, bearing an integer value of 137. It happens that 137 is the 33rd prime number, the significance of which will become clearer as we proceed in this inquiry. Before the quantum limit adjusted itself to this precise figure, however, there were myriad worlds coming into existence and passing into extinction. None of these failed worlds could sustain themselves, because the dividing line between Light and Darkness had not been properly drawn so as to establish Equilibrium. In the absence of such Equilibrium, over the course of Time the Darkness would overcome the Light, or the converse would occur.
Consequently, the physical Universe, the Universe of temporal, non-Eternal things, began to manifest itself only after the Limit of Opacity has been set, i.e. only after the Light had been separated from the Darkness. Therefore, the last of the Eternal things to be created was the Limit itself. But, as we noted earlier, sacred tradition tells us the Inferno was created last of all things Eternal. We are thus obliged to conclude that the Underworld came into being when the Darkness became separated from the Light, and that it had to be created before our World could appear.
We can infer, therefore, that Hell is the portion of Eternity closest to our temporal Reality. Hence, it’s the aspect of Eternity that’s most accessible from our World. Not only is Hell the precinct of Eternity most accessible to us, it’s the only gate into Eternity through which we are permitted to pass in the Flesh. This explains why the heroes of epic poetry must always harrow Hell on their way to Elysium — and why the Messiah Himself must first descend into the Abyss in order to consummate His Resurrection from the Dead.
origin of the wide and well-paved road between our World and Hell is, in fact,
The Arrow of Death
understand the symbolism of the Arrow, we need to go back to the origin from
whence it points. So let’s retrace our
steps to “the Beginning”, when Elohim created the Earth. Since the Elohim comprise the feminine side of
a Godhead having two distinct sexual polarities, it’s natural that She would
have chosen to begin the Creation of our World with the letter Bet ב. Bet
is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the character representing the
number two. Accordingly, the first word
of the Torah is Beresheet, meaning
“in the Beginning”. It’s important to
know, however, that the original text of the Torah transcribed by Moses on
By way of illustration, consider the English phrase, “heat red beans”. If we leave out the vowels, we have, “ht rd bns”, which can be rendered as “hate arid bones”, or “hit road bins”, or “hot rod bonus”, or even “hat raid bans”. String together tens of thousands of vowel-less words this way, and the number of possibilities becomes truly limitless. In ordinary prose, as in our “heat red beans” example, the variant meanings become increasingly awkward and nonsensical. In the Torah, however, all of the possible variant meanings of a passage shed new light on its meaning. This is why the Kabbalists say that each new interpretation of a Torah passage “creates a new Heaven and a new Earth”.
Just as the World had to be left “incomplete” to allow for an opening through which the divine Light could be infused, the same is true of the Torah. The written Torah was left “open” by design so that its deepest levels of meaning could be uncovered by the studies of righteous men and women. In this manner, there has accumulated over the ages a body of Oral Tradition, which is the indispensable complement of the written text. While there is an accepted literal meaning to the text, based on the so-called Masoretic vowel markings added by Jewish scribes of the 1st Century CE, this literal meaning is only the surface of an infinitely deep “well” of sacred Wisdom. Each individual human Soul has the innate ability to draw from this well some unique insight which is not accessible to others. To draw this “living Water” from the Scriptures is actually the highest mission in the life of each person. Only by doing so can each of us satisfy the “thirst” to become a whole Being, a complete Self. It’s just as Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar: Whosoever drinks of this Water shall never thirst again.
Throughout the course of this book, we’ve been exploring the teachings of the Kabbalah, yet it’s only now that we’ve reached the point where we can understand what the Kabbalah actually is. Let’s start by trying to comprehend what it is not. It’s not a body of esoteric knowledge developed by a few ancient sages and passed down to us intact through the ages. It’s not a compilation of established Truths to be passively assimilated by its students. Instead, the Kabbalah resembles a metaphysical “toolbox”, providing us with the implements with which each of us can construct for ourselves a spiritual edifice from the words of the Holy Writ. The purpose of this edifice is to attract the Presence of God, the feminine Shechinah. The Shechinah is the aspect of the Elohim that becomes manifest in Space/Time. Only through intimate communion with Shechinah can the Soul be conformed to the Image of the Supernal Man and thus embrace its true transcendent identity.
When our innermost Soul is in the ecstatic embrace of the Shechinah, She imprints there the fractal pattern of Elohim’s Eternal Forms. This pattern is infinitely detailed, infinitely “deep”. Within it there is a unique dwelling place for each Soul. That’s why the meaning of the word Shechinah in Hebrew — “dwelling place” — so perfectly expresses its relationship with the individual Soul. Settling into its to its own special “niche” in the intricate fractal pattern, the Soul is said to be “sheltered under the wings of the Shechinah”.
Jewish Festival of Booths, Succoth,
is a ritual enactment of this “sheltering”.
It’s an ecstatic celebration in which all members of the Community put
aside their everyday activities, leave their homes and dwell for eight days in
makeshift huts constructed of palm fronds.
These crude booths are intentionally left incomplete, with gaps between
the palm fronds affording a opening to the heavens. Here again we see repeated the archetypal
motif of a structure — like the Sephirotic Tree and the Torah — purposely left
unfinished so that the missing details can appear in the Light of Vision. Succoth’s communal celebration of visionary
experience was not restricted to poets, priests and prophets, but extended to
all God’s people. John’s Gospel recites
that, on the last day of Succoth, Christ had an ecstatic vision of a
It’s precisely this communal dimension of Vision which the Kabbalah is intended to enable. The Kabbalah’s tools are made to be utilized by each of us to draw our own particular visions from the infinite weave of the revealed Word of God. When we learn to wield these tools, each of us can erect our own edifice of dreams, wherein we may entertain the divine companion of our Soul. If we are to attract the Shechinah to us and find shelter beneath Her fractal “wings”, however, what we construct cannot be a snare, a trap, or a prison. The sweet bird of inspiration may alight upon the perch of a birdhouse, but She will not willingly fly into a cage. If within our Heart we wish to exalt our own visions above those of our brothers and sisters, if we aspire to delineate some version of “absolute Truth” to be imposed upon others, then the divine bird will flee from us, as an ordinary bird would from a hunter.
... how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
passage from the Book of Psalms uses the Arrow as a symbol of the “one-way” one-dimensional
The Arrow of Death is, therefore, an emblem of the monolithic version of Reality that William Blake associates with the great stone megaliths of Druidism. He often refers to this doctrine as “Demonstration”. It represents Truth reduced to a lifeless abstraction:
Everything in Eternity shines by its own Internal light: but thou
Darkenest every Internal light with the arrows of thy quiver
Bound up in the horns of Jealousy to a deadly fading Moon ...
That every thing is fixed Opake without Internal light
Blake also invokes the imagery of Druidism for its connotations of Idolatry and human sacrifice. The doctrine of a demonstrable “objective” Truth is not only inherently idolatrous, it’s the delusion underlying all idolatries. If we assume, as all but atheists must, that God embodies the ultimate Truth, then this doctrine necessarily implies that God may be conceived in a purely objective sense — a concept which is the essence of idolatry. Since there is not room in the Universe for more than one “absolute”, the belief in an absolute Space/Time Reality makes God subject to that Reality and thus reduces Him/Her to an object.
is especially pernicious about the doctrine of Demonstration is its
self-fulfilling quality. The belief that
the mind is but a passive receptor of external Reality causes it to function as
such. As a result, in Blake’s words, we
“become what we behold”. If the World
around us is filled with death and suffering, then passive perception leads us
to believe that the god of “objective” Reality demands his fill of these
things. This explains historical nexus
between the ancient idolatries, such as Druidism, and ritual human
sacrifice. The prevalent modern version
of Demonstration, on the other hand, appeases the appetite of its cruel god
with a far more bloody ritual called warfare.
Blake’s poetry indignantly cries out against this gross degradation of
divine Humanity, as personified by his mythic hero
And the Druids’ golden Knife,
Rioted in human gore,
In Offerings of Human Life.
Tore forth in all the pomp of War!
Satan his name: in flames of fire
He stretched the Druid Pillars far.
All these hills & valleys are accursed witnesses of Sin
I therefore condense them into solid rocks, stedfast!
A foundation and certainty and demonstrative truth:
That Man be separate from Man, & here I plant my seat.
Cold snows drifted around him: ice coverd his loins around
He sat by Tyburns brook, and underneath his heel shot up
A deadly Tree, he nam’d it Moral Virtue, and the Law
Of God who dwells in Chaos hidden from the human sight.
Ultimately, the universal acceptance of a uniform Reality of absolute Space/Time becomes a matter of coercion and imposition by the hierarchy of individual ego-personas. Blake himself felt the withering affect of this monstrous oppression:
The Visions of Eternity, by reason of narrowed perceptions,
Are become weak Visions of Time & Space, fix’d into furrows of death;
Till deep dissimulation is the only defence an honest man has left.
O Polypus of Death, O Spectre over Europe
Withering the Human Form by Laws of Sacrifice for Sin
By Laws of Chastity & Abhorrence I am witherd up.
Striving to Create a Heaven in which all shall be pure & holy
In their Own Selfhoods, in Natural Selfish Chastity to banish Pity
And dear Mutual Forgiveness; & to become One Great Satan
Inslavd to the most powerful Selfhood: to murder the Divine Humanity
This hierarchic monolith of “demonstrative truth” is associated with many of the emblems of Idolatry. The usual venue of idolatrous altars, for example, is on a mountain-top, the symbolic apex of power and social influence from which “conventional” attitudes are handed down. In our modern culture of media-imposed mental conformity, the broadcast antenna aptly fits into the same symbolic mold. It’s especially fitting that such antennae are technically defined as “monopoles”, because that term precisely describes the function which their broadcasts perform — reducing Truth to “information”.
Truth arises out of the interaction of the two poles of Consciousness, the “Male” Subjective and the “Female” Objective. Thus, antithetical forces — or, as Blake puts it, “Contraries” — are an inseparable part of the essential nature of Truth. Indeed, it’s the tension of antitheses that endows Truth with energy and makes it dynamic. “Information”, on the other hand, is a static rendering of Truth, with all of its internal contradictions erased. It represents the “objective” monopole, inimical to the living energy of the Mind and Soul. Whereas Truth has infinite depth, revealing progressively more profound layers of meaning as one goes deeper and deeper, “information” has only a surface of so-called “facts”, only an empty shell devoid of real meaning. It is pure superficiality unilluminated by any inner Light.
The monopole of objectivism expresses itself in many of the other archetypes of Idolatry, such as the ceremonial pillar and the oak tree from which it’s typically carved. In fact, the Hebrew name for El אל, the tyrannical god of monolithic Reality, is an abbreviated form of ’ayil איל, which signifies an oak tree or column. The feminine form of ’ayil is ’elah אלה, which has the double meaning of and oak tree or a god. It was of this genre of false gods that Jeremiah wrote:
For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax... But the Lord is the true God [Elohim], he is the living God [Elohim], and an everlasting king...
Thus shall ye say unto them: The gods [’elahayya] that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth [’arqa], and from under these heavens.
especially noteworthy about this passage is the word ’Arqa that is translated into English as “the earth”. In Hebrew the Earth is most often denoted by
’Eretz, but there’s also the name ’Arqa, which refers to one of the six
“lower earths” or Underworlds. These may
be thought of as a series of “prototype” earths, each lacking one or more of
the qualities needed to support human Consciousness. According to the Oral Tradition, these
Underworlds comprise the various levels of the Abyss, where they serve as
places of exile for certain past generations of men who are permanently cut off
from the Tree of Life. On the first
level below the inhabited Earth, for example, is Tziah, a domain of abundant wealth, but without water. Inhabiting the fourth level Ge is the generation of the
Hebrew meaning of Cain’s name Qayin
is “spear”, which resonates with the other symbols of the one-dimensional
egocentric State of
For a voice of wailing is heard out of
This passage is packed with Kabbalistic symbolism, some of which jumps out at us right away. The abandoned “dwellings” mishkanot are the fractal niches “under the wings” of the Shechinah, whose name is derived from the same root shakan for “dwelling”. The “window” that Death is portrayed as entering is Malkuth, the opening into the Womb of Space/Time through which Shechinah’s quintessential Light shines. It’s apparent, therefore, that Death blocks this “window”, obscuring the supernal Light and cutting Consciousness off from its visionary dimensions. With the opening to the Womb blocked, the “children” of Imagination are stillborn, and the divine human Form is reduced to a profane “carcase”. There are several Hebrew words for “carcase”, but Jeremiah specifically chooses nebelah, which literally signifies an unburied corpse, to be consumed by carrion birds and dogs. In a figurative sense, nebelah can also denote an idol, which neatly connects the source of the “disease” and its end result, Eternal Death.
A carrion corpse, such as that of the wicked King Ahab or his consort Jezebel, makes an excellent metaphor for Eternal Death because it is “cut off” from the hope of bodily Resurrection. It represents the false persona of Man that kills its own progeny and destroys the emanations of its higher Selfhood, thereby cutting itself off from the Life of the World to Come. By opting for the delusive pursuit of its own immortality, the ego-persona sacrifices its “children”, which is to say, the Eternal elements of the Self. William Blake presents a poetic allegory of this “sacrifice of innocents” carried out by the ego-self, as personified by his villain Hand:
In the Wars of Babel & Shinar, all their Emanations were
Condensed. Hand has absorbed all his Brethren in his might
And the infant Loves & Graces were lost, for the mighty Hand
Condens’d his Emanations into hard opake substances;
And his infant thoughts and desires, into cold, dark, cliffs of death.
... He seiz’d the bars of condens’d thoughts, to forge them:
Into the sword of war: into the bow and arrow:
... I saw the limbs form’d for exercise contemn’d: & the beauty of
Eternity look’d upon as deformity & loveliness as a dry tree:
I saw disease forming a Body of Death around the Lamb
Of God, to destroy
... Every Emanative joy is forbidden as a Crime:
And the Emanations buried in the earth with pomp of religion:
Inspiration deny’d; Genius forbidden by laws of punishment!
The “disease” of which Blake speaks is Shame. It’s the feeling of Shame that came upon our first Parents when they fell from Grace. It’s the Shame that we all inherit as a symptom of what Christians call Original Sin. We’re not born with it, mind you, but it’s imposed upon us by mankind’s false collective persona, which hides behind innocuous-sounding labels like “society”. From day one of our lives in this World until the day we die, we are all forced constantly to conceal our true feelings, to suppress our outpourings of spontaneous joy, to eschew the entire realm of ecstatic experience. We dutifully enact these cruel betrayals of our inner Selfhood because we fear that “society” will shun us. But this “society” to which we pay such abject obeisance is better described as Moloch, the idol who feeds on the flesh of innocents.
Jeremiah uses the “pottet’s vessel” as his image of our true inward identity that’s shaped by the hand of God. He speaks allegorically of the vessel becoming marred on the wheel so that the potter had to remold it into another vessel. The aborted vessels here have the same significance in the Prophet’s imagery as the carrion carcasses of which we were just speaking. Both are exemplars of creations consigned to the trash heap of Eternal annihilation, of beings who have become worthless (one of the alternate meanings of the Hebrew nebelah for “corpse”) because their “inner Light” has been extinguished. Once again, Jeremiah chooses his words carefully to create multiple layers of meaning. For “vessel” he uses the word keliy, the feminine plural form of which is kilyah, with the literal meaning of “kidneys” or, in King James= English, “reins”. In a sacrificial animal, the kidneys were considered the choicest part, because their high fat content made them very combustible. For that reason, kilyah figuratively came to signify the part of Man that’s most prized by God. It’s the “interior Self”, the most vital and sensitive aspect of the psyche, the seat of the emotions and affections. Our “reins” are the part of each one of us that makes us who we truly are in God’s eyes. They are the inner source of illumination that lights our path to everlasting Life.
All of that being said, one would think that our “reins” would be our most cherished possession in this World, the proverbial “pearl of great price” for which we would sacrifice everything else we have. But, alas, each of us, in varying degrees, has cast aside this “pearl” as if it were a thing of no value. And this is why Hell has an outpost in each of our Souls. The pathological process — popularly known as “socialization” — that prepares us to enact this great betrayal of ourselves unfolds in three steps. First, we are induced to doubt the worth of our deepest feelings and intuitions. We are taught to dismiss them as irrational, taught to distrust them, taught to suspect that our “inner voices” mean to do us harm.
The next step in the progress of the disease is to make us ashamed to even acknowledge that we have this inner dimension to our being. As the Apostle Peter repeatedly denied knowing Jesus, so each of us repeatedly denies knowing the Christ within us. Ironically, many people who consider themselves religious come to believe that the presence of this Savior within themselves is “sinful”, and that His voice is the voice of the “devil”. Shame leads us to think that others do not share this interior psychic realm, and that its existence in us is a personal defect that we must keep hidden from others at all costs. In this way, our shame compels us to cover our inward Light, to present ourselves to the World as spiritually opaque. And this becomes the habitual mode of our “socially acceptable” behavior, with its daily tedium of insipid superficiality.
At some point, however, try as we might to lock the person who we really are up in the attic of our psyche, we come to fear that our dissimulation is not good enough. The obsessive fear that we will be “discovered” haunts us all. This fear comes through in our dreams constantly. Which of us has not dreamt, more than once, that we are out in public, or at some social gathering, and realize to our shame that we were partially or totally undressed? In our society ... which is, for all its ludicrous pretensions of personal “freedom”, certainly the most rigidly conformist in the annals of history ... In our society, the ubiquitous terror of being Aexposed@ for what we are is the source of the greatest pandemic of anxiety disorders that mankind has ever known.
And so, fear is the final stage of this disease, the terminal stage that leads to the Eternal Death of Hell. It is fear that makes us prisoners within ourselves and makes of us our own jailers. Our inner voice, to the extent it’s heard at all, is heard only as the voice of lamentation. We are transported to the desolate anguish of Dante’s Inferno:
Here sighs, laments and loud wailings
resounded through the starless air,
so that at first it made me weep.
Strange tongues, horrible outcries,
woeful utterances, wrathful accents,
voices shrill and hoarse, mingled with the
sound of hands beating together
Making a tumult that swirls unceasingly
in that dark and timeless air,
Like sand that in a whirlwind spirals.
We will have more to say later on about the image of the spiraling whirlwind. For now, however, we note that the ancient mystics pictured the solar system as a sort of “whirlpool”, with the planets circling around the central Sun. As Carl Jung has observed, the Sun is an archetype representing the dominant principle of the human personality. As the “center” of the psyche’s varied components, the archetypal Sun serves a necessary and life-enabling function, as the actual Sun does in our planetary system. But if the central Sun becomes oppressively dominant, it ceases to sustain its planetary “children” and begins to consume them. When that occurs, the planets are pulled from their stable orbits about the center and begin to spiral into the Sun. We have the astronomical examples of other planetary systems where the central star is so massive as to gradually pull everything into itself.
With the Fall of Man, the balance was lost
between the dominant center of the human psyche and its subordinate
constituents. An egocentric Sun emerged
and the planetary system began to resemble the all-consuming whirlpool. Since the path which the planets are observed
to travel through the sky is known as the “ecliptic”, this condition of psychic
disequilibrium was described allegorically as the ecliptic becoming
“unhinged”. This metaphysical
disorientation was thought to be manifested in the oblique angle (roughly 23.5˚)
which the ecliptic makes to the celestial equator. Since the Sun follows this same oblique path,
we have seasons of oppressive heat and bitter cold, in contrast to the
perpetual springtime of
Some say he [God] bid his Angels turns askance
The Poles of Earth twice ten degrees and more
From the Sun’s Axle; they with labor push’d
Oblique the Centric Globe: Some say the Sun
Was bid to turn Reins from th’
... to bring in change
Of Seasons to each Clime; else had the Spring
Perpetual smil’d on Earth with vernant Flow’rs ...
The Sun, as from Thyestean Banquet, turn’d
His course intended; else how had the World
Inhabited, though sinless more than now,
Avoided pinching cold and scorching heat?
Pelop’s role in the myth is relevant to our discussion in several respects. Although he is restored to life, a part of him remains missing; he’s not a complete being. In a manner of speaking, he’s the Greek counterpart of Frankenstein, lacking that ineffable something that makes one truly human. Shortly, we’ll speak more to this theme in terms of the Jewish golem and modern cloning. But for now we can intuit that Pelop’s missing shoulder represents something akin to the “reins”of which we’ve been speaking. It's an emblem of the innermost Self, sacrificed for the sake of the ego-persona.
It’s also noteworthy, however, that the myth specifies that Pelop’s “missing part” is his left shoulder. We’ve already seen the important role that archery played in the metaphysical symbolism of the ancient world. Anyone who has ever used a bow knows that the quiver of arrows hangs on the left shoulder. In archaic mysticism, the “quiver” was associated with the ecliptic plane, envisioned as being suspended from a fulcrum in the cosmos in the same way as a quiver of arrows hangs from the shoulder. This esoteric connotation is reflected in the Hebrew word Teli, which literally means “quiver”, but also signifies the invisible axis about which the firmament revolves. In Chapter Three we learned that Teli is portrayed as a huge Serpent, which sustains the material Universe in equilibrium with the Pleroma. We also said that Teli embodies the 12 diagonal paths of the Tree of Life, the so-called “Arms of the World” that enclose the Tree and protect it from infestation by the Qlippot. The number 12 also identifies Teli with the ecliptic plane, since the latter is divided into 12 segments corresponding to the 12 signs of the Zodiac.
our last chapter, we also discovered that the counterpart of Teli in Greek
mythology is the serpent Python. Python was the nemesis of the Sun god Apollo,
who was a renowned archer. Apollo, whose
name means “Destroyer”, is the apotheosis of the ego’s destructive domination
of the human persona. Thus, his weapon is the Arrow of monolithic
“Truth”, of Reason without Vision. We’ve
associated this Arrow with a spiritual pathology leading to the Hell of Eternal
Death. In a figurative sense, the
shooting of Arrows often represents the propagation of a plague, whose victims
are struck as if by invisible darts.
Before he was “promoted” to Sun god, Apollo was worshiped in the form of
a mouse. Apollo’s mouse-cult originated
among the blacksmiths of the
If we put all this together, the Greek story of Apollo slaying Python appears to be an allegory for the catastrophic de-coupling of the two “axes” of Consciousness — the Subjective and Objective. We can think, in metaphorical terms, of the Subjective Axis as forming the “axle” of the Earth=s equatorial “wheel”, while the Objective Axis serves as the “axle” of the larger “wheel” of the ecliptic plane. When the two “axles” are aligned, we have the configuration of a “wheel within a wheel”, which is the hallmark fractal pattern of the Elohim’s Eternal Forms. When the “axles” are misaligned, however, the wheels only meet at two points and are constrained to move with the clockwork compulsion of mechanical cogs.
When Apollo slays Python with the strait Arrow of rationalism, the Objective Axis of the Serpent Teli falls out of sync with its Subjective counterpart, and a great breach opens in the fabric of Reality. In keeping with the Sun god’s rodent pedigree, his Arrows are vectors of a pestilence afflicting mankind’s collective Consciousness. One of the symptoms of this plague is a pervasive amnesia that has wiped away our memory of the symbolic language underlying the sacred texts of the ancient world. Inquiries like the ones we’re pursuing in this book are merely the amnesiacs’ pitiful gropings in the dark for clues to who they really are.
we leave our foray into Greek myth, let’s tie up the loose ends we left in the
Tantalus-Pelops story. What Pelops lost
was his left shoulder, the support from which the “quiver” Teli hangs. Teli stands for the axis of the ecliptic
plane, in the cosmic sense, and for the Objective Axis of the psyche. In addition to meaning “quiver”, Teli also
denotes a “hinge”. So we might say that
Pelop’s plight represents the “unhinging” of the Objective side of
Consciousness. Instead of a living
shoulder of flesh and blood, Pelops is left with an inanimate chunk of ivory,
the bone of a dead animal. Allegorically
speaking, his Objective experience — that is, his perception of things outside
himself — has been “ossified”, pathologically hardened into a rigid pattern of
absolutes. It’s not surprising,
therefore, that the myth goes on to tell how, after Pelop’s death, his ossified
shoulder becomes a cult-object fought over by the warring empires of
Ironically, the Arrow is itself a prime example of an image in which contradictory realities are superimposed on one another. It’s yet another of those bipolar complementary concepts that we’ve encountered throughout our inquiries. On the one hand, it characterizes the complete dissociation of the Subjective and Objective modes of perception. This dissociation was the immediate cause of the Shevirah, the primeval catastrophe in which egocentric self-love shattered the unity of the World Soul. In this sense, the Arrow corresponds to the one that the Psalmist’s wicked archer makes ready to shoot at the upright in Heart.
... the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
In this instance, the Arrow is said to be shot “privily”, which actually translates in Hebrew as “during the dark phase of the Moon”. The darkness of the Moon represents the infernal State of spiritual Opacity, in which the Shechinah finds Herself widowed and in exile.
On the other hand, however, the Arrow can also be the Arrow of Righteousness, the phallus with which the supernal Bridegroom penetrates His Bride and restores the sexual Equilibrium of the Upper and Lower Worlds. The Psalmist apparently understood this antithesis quite well, since he juxtaposes the image of the Arrow of Death with that of the Foundation of the Righteous. The latter is, of course, an attribute of the SephirahYesod. Yesod represents the Chai, the active Life-force of the Spiritual Body. Blake characterizes Yesod as the Harrow of Shaddai, which is to say, the means by which the Eternity penetrates Space/Time and provides its background. If deprived of a visionary perception of that Eternal background, however, the Mind instead harrows the barren soil of Hell, and Life appears as nothing more than a painful march toward Death. Trudging along under the tyranny of Death’s Arrow, our spontaneous experiences — the cherished “children” our Imagination — are stillborn, sacrificed at the alter of Baal. Revisiting Jeremiah’s parable of the potter’s warped “vessel”, we find him describing precisely this abominable negation of our inner Light:
Thus saith the Lord, Go and get a potter’s earthen bottle... And go forth into the valley of the son of Hinnom ... And say, ... Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God [Elohim] of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place ... Because they have forsaken me, ... and have filled this place with the blood of innocents;
They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal ...
Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called Tophet ... but the valley of slaughter ... and their carcases will I give to be meat for the fowls of heaven and the beasts of the earth.
And I will make this city desolate ... every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of the plagues thereof.
... Then shalt thou break the bottle... And shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Even so will I break the people and this city, as one breaketh a potter’s vessel, that cannot be made whole again: and they shall bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury.
The Soul in the Wilderness
Further exploration of the antithetical symbolism of the Arrow provides us with an excellent opportunity to illustrate the methodology of Kabbalism. If we return again to the first word of Genesis, “in the Beginning” Beresheet, it can also be read as Bara sheet, which means “created Six”. This reveals that Elohim’s work was preconceived from “the Beginning” as spanning Six Days. It also expresses the idea that, “In the Beginning, Elohim created Six”. The Six referred to here are the Six Sephirot from Mercy Chesed to the Foundation Yesod, which together comprise the supernal Body of the Divine Man, Zer Anpin. Reflecting the distinctly masculine character of the Six, the Sephirah Yesod is often represented by a phallic Arrow. But the figure of the Arrow describes Yesod in another sense, as well. As the ordinary arrow splits the wood of the mundane tree, so Yesod, the Arrow of Righteousness, “splits” the Tree of Life. Yesod “splits” the Tree in the sense of completing its great Middle Axis. This Middle Pillar of the Tree consists of five levels: the Crown/Keter, Equilibrium/Daat, Symmetry/Tipheret, the Foundation/Yesod, and the Garden/Malkut. These five levels, in turn, correspond to the five strata of the World Soul or Pleroma. (See the Tree of Life, Figure 1)
The Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life constitutes its Axis of Symmetry. Symmetry, we remember, is the principle by which things are divided in the most harmonious and beautiful manner. Symmetry was a principle very much at work in Elohim’s process of creating the Universe in which we live and breath. But our Universe, we must always remind ourselves, is but the latest of a nigh-infinite series of Worlds which have hitherto come and gone. And the reason these other extinct Universes have extinguished themselves is their lack of Symmetry. Even an extinguished fire leaves its embers, however, and so the “afterglow” of the failed Worlds persists in the form of what the Jewish mystics call the “Other Side”, of which we will speak more presently.
before we do that, let’s make a few more observations concerning the concept of
Symmetry. One of the most enchanting
characteristics of living organisms is their remarkably intricate
Symmetry. Living Symmetry exceeds that
of inanimate matter insofar as it extends inwardly
as well as outwardly. Consider, for
example, the individual human Body. It
has the obvious outward plane of Symmetry which splits it into right and left
halves. But, as an organism that unfolds
in four-dimensional Space/Time, the Body retains within itself the imprints of
the forms it has assumed in the past, as well as the intimations of the forms
it will assume in the future. This
thought was most felicitously expressed in the words of poet William
Woodsworth: “The Child is father of the
When we think about it, it’s the inward Symmetry of living creatures that enables them to replicate themselves. Organisms grow outward in a process driven by the splitting of DNA along its axis of Symmetry. Modern science has learned to apply this principle in a process we know as “cloning”, by which the DNA of an organism is induced to divide and replicate itself. Some scientists, in fact, see in the cloning process the potential realization of the age-old dream of human immortality. The Oral Tradition of the Hebrew Scriptures, however, informs us that quasi-human specimens were fashioned by the holy sages of past eras, including the Prophet Jeremiah. The Oral Tradition (of which the books of the Kabbalah are a part) refers to these beings as golem, and even goes so far as to suggest that Adam himself was initially such a creature. This interpretation relies upon a passage from the Psalms in which Adam addresses Yahweh, saying: “Thine eyes beheld my golem, being yet unformed.”  The esoteric teaching goes on to say that Adam did not remain a golem, but became truly human when God-Elohim breathed into him the Breath of Life.
The Breath of Life is nothing that can be replicated in a scientific laboratory. Yet the Imagination of Michaelangelo somehow managed to capture it on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This Spirit wind Ruach, as the Hebrews style it, proceeds from a universal inward Symmetry that is not directly accessible to our scientific instruments — nor, indeed, to any purely physical probing. This inward Symmetry is something we call the Soul. Again, the traditional lore of the Hebrew Midrashim explains that the Soul has five “levels”, which we may interpret as five planes of Symmetry. The upper two of these levels or planes do not extend into this World, but are reserved for the Righteous in the World to Come.
Accordingly, the three lower planes of the Soul constitute the inward Symmetry of our earthly Body. First, we have a “vital” Soul Nephesh, which keeps us alive. Every living thing is endowed in some measure with this “vital” Soul. Next, we have an “articulate” Soul, which allows us to speak and communicate our Thoughts. This is the Spirit breath Ruach of which we have already spoken. Lastly, we have something best described as a “collective” Soul, which the Hebrews named Neshamah. Neshamah has a distinctly feminine character and is considered to be an aspect of Shechinah, the Divine Presence of the Female side of the Godhead. It follows that, when we are endowed with the inward Symmetry of Neshamah, we are Beings capable of entering God’s immediate Presence, as the Prophets have done.
The Kabbalah’s Zohar leads us to understand that, while the vital and articulate spirits Nephesh and Ruach are with us as long as we are alive and aware, the Neshamah comes and goes pretty much as She pleases. Just like a woman, She would be pursued and courted. At times, She flys into the desert so that the Poet and the Prophet may seek Her there and speak loving words to Her Heart.
Behold, I will allure Her, and lead Her into the Wilderness, and speak comfortably unto Her.
In Hebrew, the word for Wilderness is Midbar, and it has a rich metaphorical significance in the Holy Scriptures. Midbar represents a landscape of desolation, which, we recall, is a signature trait of utter Symmetry. Such total Symmetry demands that All-That-Is-Above be faithfully reflected in All-That-Is-Below. In Midbar, therefore, the image of the Divine Man in the upper world is matched by His equally Divine Similtude in the lower realm. This correspondence is implicit in the derivation of the word Midbar from the Hebrew root bar, which means “son” and is related to the verb bara “to create”. We have just spoken of the word-play in the opening passage of Genesis between the phrase “In the Beginning” Beresheet and “created Six” Bara sheet. The six-day process of Creation is accomplished by ten utterances from the mouth of the Elohim. And so we’re not surprised to find that Midbar is also related to the verb dabar “to speak”.
Recalling again that the Jewish Scriptures were originally written without vowel markings, we find the word Midbar frequently used as a device to produce multiple layers of meaning in the same text. Perhaps the most “multi-layered” book of the Bible is Solomon’s Shir Hasshirim, the Song of Songs. The Beloved to whom Solomon addresses his mystical Songs is, of course, none other than God’s Female Emanation, the Shechinah:
Who is this coming up out of the Wilderness, like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense?
In the foregoing passage, the phrase “coming up out the Wilderness” also lends itself to the reading “from the Word uttered by the Mouth”. The “Mouth”, as we discussed in Chapter One, is a symbol for Malkut, the lowest Vessel of the Tree of Life and the metaphysical Womb in which the World Soul gestates. Malkut represents the lower aspect of the Shechinah, i.e., the form She assumes when She descends into the World of Space and Time. The higher aspect of Shekinah resides in the Sephirah Binah, where She serves as the font of Wisdom and the Divine Mother of all Souls. We can see a clear parallel here between the Shechinah’s nature and that of the Blessed Mother in Christian theology. Indeed, the blessed Womb of the Virgin Mary is the “Mouth” which “utters the Word”, in the sense of issuing forth the human embodiment of the sublime Logos. And it’s no accident that the attendants to the Nativity brought gifts of frankincense and myrrh, the scents which King Solomon attributes to the Shechinah in the passage quoted above.
In the Introduction to this book, we spoke of how Jesus began his Messianic mission with a journey into the Wilderness, where he was led by the Shechinah in the shape of a Dove. There he encountered the Devil, who we have learned to associate with the unconscious Shadow of the ego-persona. It appears that Jesus had to confront and overcome this Adversary before he could begin to aspire to the identity of a true Messiah. The three tests that Satan put to Christ reveal the three great illusions of fallen Consciousness. First is the illusion of an absolute “objective” Reality, as epitomized by the stones which Satan would have Jesus transform into loaves of bread. The answer that Christ gives him is that the immutable perception of these things as either stones or loaves is incompatible with everlasting Life. Rather, their manifestation as stones or bread or whatever is a process of spontaneous Creation from moment to moment, with a new Reality flowing out of each Word uttered by the Mouth of the High Holy One. This thought was expressed quite beautifully in one of Leonard Cohen’s lyrics:
For the Holy One dreams of a Letter,
and He dreams of a Letter’s breath;
Oh, bless the continuous stutter
of the Word being made into Flesh!
the illusion of an “objective” Time/Space Reality, Satan next offers the
illusion of an objective deity. He bids
Jesus give a demonstration of His Father’s power by having His angels bear Him
down to the ground from the parapet of the
Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water we should stop and drink
Among the rock one cannot stop or think
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
If there were only water amongst the rock
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit
There is not even silence in the mountains
But dry sterile thunder without rain
There is not even solitude in the mountains
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
From doors of mudcracked houses
If there were water
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water
Eliot’s imagery evokes the pitiless monotony of the mountain peaks, the pinnacles of superficial experience, impassively oblivious to the deeper, broader, more fertile mental landscapes beneath their summits. Again, we can think back to the idolatrous mountaintop with its monolithic pillars of oak and stone. It was here that Satan transported Jesus in order to cast his last, and most compelling, illusion. From atop a towering summit surveying the glory of the World’s mighty kingdoms, Satan offers Christ dominion over them all. This is the primary illusion that sustains the Self-as-object, the absolute insular selfhood we know as the ego. It’s the conceit that the ego-persona augments its power and freedom to the degree it exercises control over the actions of others. But the fact is that the more powerful the individual ego is in the social hierarchy, the less control it has over its own “house”, the internal psyche. The more choices it can dictate for others, the less freedom the ego actually has to make its own choices. This is because the more dominant and tyrannical the ego becomes within the psyche, the more powerful and dangerous becomes its Shadow, the “anti-ego”. The Shadow-persona is the “Adversary”, aka Satan. That’s why Satan’s offer of absolute dominion over the World is contingent upon Jesus’ falling down in worship before him.
The illusion of individual power is a prime motivation for why we all cling so desperately to our narrow ego identities. Which of us has not imagined him/herself on the mountaintop where Satan brought Christ? Which of us has not dreamed of being the World’s most exalted personage? In great measure, it’s our indulgence in these vain fantasies that keeps us prisoners within ourselves, that keep us alienated from our fellow humans by ambition and envy. As long as we remain divided among ourselves in this way, we can never become joined in the One Body which our Bridegroom, the Messiah, longs to embrace.
declining Satan’s offer of temporal dominion on the mountaintop, Jesus had
several other opportunities to become a ruler of men. In each instance, he fled into the Wilderness
to avoid ascending to a position of power.
We should ask ourselves, why?
Couldn’t Christ, with his miracles and wonders, have become a universal
sovereign? Why couldn’t he have imposed
By spurning Satan’s invitation to become, in Blake’s words, “the most powerful Selfhood”, Jesus turned away from the twin idolatries of “objective” truth and codified morality. He refused to become merely the latest of mankind’s sorrowful succession of spiritual mountebanks peddling the snake-oil of immutable verities. Instead, he fulfilled the spirit of the very Psalm that Satan had quoted in tempting Him:
She [Shechinah] shall cover thee with her feathers, and under her wings shalt thou trust ... Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. ... Because thou hast made the Lord... even the Most High, thy habitation.
The “pestilence that walketh in darkness” is quite evocative of the discussion we’ve just had regarding the “plague” of purely Objective experience, which extinguishes the inner Light of Vision. An obvious metaphor for this hierarchic parody of Consciousness is the mountain peak, upon which Satan offers Jesus the power to impose a monolithic truth upon the World. But Christ, here and elsewhere in the Gospels, consistently refuses to promote an orthodoxy of belief or conduct. Rather, he defines himself as the Way and the Truth, a living Truth not congealed into a doctrine “written in stone”. Pestilence is the deviant Arrow that robs Truth of its Life and reduces the living Symmetry of the Word to petrified abstractions.
The Psalmist employs the techniques of the Kabbalah to create multiple levels of meaning from the word “pestilence”. In Hebrew, the consonants of “pestilence” dever דבר can also be read as “word” davar. Reading the verse this way, “the word that walketh in darkness” is the Word of God drained of its inner Light, with its inward Symmetry gutted. This is why Christ rebuffs Satan’s first temptation by contrasting the dry stones of the desert with the “Word from the Mouth of God”. We recognize the “Word uttered by the Mouth” as identical to Solomon’s mystical invocation of the Shechinah, “coming up out of the Wilderness”. The intricacy of the fractal layering of meaning-within-meaning here becomes truly amazing when we consider that Wilderness Midbar מִדְבָּר can also be interpreted as “from pestilence” midever מִדֶּבֶר , or “out of a word” midavar מִדָּבר .
we see here are not mere literary tricks to impress the reader. Instead, we=re
being taught, again and again, that the literal reading of the Holy Writ is but
the surface, the outer garment of a meaning that resides in an unwritten
subtext. The Truth that the Scriptures
embody is a fluid one, constantly flowing and changing course. If we go below the surface to draw the fluid
meaning from the well of Living Water, then our experience of the
It’s interesting that, in its original Hebrew connotation, Midbar is an open area where shepherds pasture their flocks. This is reflected in the derivation of the word from the root davar דָּבַר, which signifies the action of assembling things based upon an ordered pattern of groupings. Thus, a shepherd musters his/her flocks in groups based on species, gender, etc. In forming the word Midbar, the prepositional prefix Mi-, meaning “from” or “out of”, is attached to the root davar. The symbolic character of the Wilderness/Midbar, therefore, is an overall Symmetry that comes out of the mustering process. In the work of restoring the shattered Symmetry of the Pleroma, it’s the Neshamah who acts as the veritable Shepherd of the Soul, gathering its members into ever-larger assemblages, approaching the total integration to be realized in the World to Come.
The Messiah is one in whom the Light of the innermost human Soul, the Neshamah, shines through with perfect clarity. In other words, He is one who has made Himself absolutely free of the powers that obscure and diminish the Light — the powers of the Other Side which emanate from the Qlippot/Shells of aborted Worlds. In order to get to the Neshamah, therefore, it is necessary to traverse many layers of these Shells.
the Shir Hasshirim, Solomon writes
metaphorically of this process as “descending into the
The whole world, upper and lower, is organized on this principle, from the primary mystic center to the very outermost of these layers. All are coverings, the one to the other, brain within brain, spirit inside of spirit, shell within shell... The primal center is the innermost light, of a translucence, subtilty and purity beyond comprehension. ... Likewise does the process go on down below; and after this design, man in the world combines brain and membrane, spirit and body, all to the more perfect ordering of the world.
This passage from the Zohar is clearly alluding to a fractal pattern, which self-replicates within itself indefinitely. The process by which Elohim creates (bara) the World involves fractal replication of Her Eternal Forms as “shell within shell” — or as William Blake expressed it, “wheel within wheel” — all the way down from the spiral arms of the Milky Way to the spiral arms of our DNA. The Prophet Ezekiel calls the Angels who perform this task of fractal replication the Ophanim. The word Ophan אןפן, which also means “wheel”, has the numerical value of 137, the same value as the physical constant Alpha that defines the “quantum” boundary between Light and Darkness in our Universe. This tells us that the fractal pattern generated by the Elohim extends even down into the sub-quantum Reality of the Abyss. In other words, Heaven and Hell are part of one continuum, one whole cloth, so to speak.
if that=s the case, we
might ask, what makes Hell so, so ...
well, “hellish”? Again, it’s
worth reminding ourselves that the “hellish” character of the Underworld is a
As we’ve said, the Neshamah is the first level of the human Soul in which a collective element is introduced. It can best be described as a transitional strata of the Soul leading to the emergence of the Chayah at the end of Time. The Chayah, aka the “Book of Life”, is the full ensemble of Righteous Souls mustered under the spiritual banners of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, as is depicted in the Book of Revelation. Chayah means “to revive”, and hence the Chayah represents the complete restoration of the unity of the Soul, on a level of integration even higher than that which preceded the Fall of the Angels. We will have more to say of the Chayah in our final chapters, but for now it helps us to think of the Neshamah as a sort of “Chayah in the making”. Accordingly, the Neshamah begins to break down the barriers of insular identities and recast the human race as One Body and One Soul. It does this by establishing a network of inward connectedness between individual Souls based upon the “common language” of the Elohim’s Eternal Forms — or what Carl Jung referred to as the Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious.
But the total domination of the persona by the ego makes the individual Soul opaque to the fractal pattern of the Divine Similtude. Robbed of the inward connectedness of the Neshamah, mankind’s collective action is governed by compulsion, force and violence — the hierarchic “wheels without wheels” of Blake’s visions, in which Man becomes a cog in an inhuman clockwork mechanism. The ultimate manifestation of this accursed hierarchy is the State and its handmaid the Corporation; their goal is a thoroughly homogenized consciousness whose content is dictated by the Elite and their ubiquitous telescreens.
Homogenization works well for some things, like milk for example. But its extremely unsuited for other things, like nuts for instance. Try throwing some nuts into a blender, shells and all, and see if what you get is edible. The shell, which was useful and beneficial in its place surrounding the kernel of the nut, now becomes an unsavory impediment to the enjoyment of the nut=s flavor. Similarly, the dissociation of the World Soul and the Fall of Man have produced a condition in which the “flavor” of the Neshamah is rendered bitter as a result of its becoming enmeshed with the Qlippot/Shells. These Shells, it should be recalled, are not evil from their inception, but rather become so because they are dislocated from their proper place. They are the remnants of the “shell-within-shell” order of a series of prior worlds, all of which fell short of the perfect Symmetry needed to sustain the Tree of Life.
bitterness of the Neshamah when She becomes entangled with the Qlippot is
figuratively represented in the very first incident which occurred after the
Israelites crossed the
As we noted in our last chapter, the “branch” which sweetened the bitter waters of Marah was part of the Tree of Life. But which part? Since this particular “branch” acts upon the “water” of Neshamah, it must regulate the structure of the Soul, of which Neshamah is one level. Therefore, this “branch” would be the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life, in which is embodied the five-fold Symmetry of the Pleroma. We’ve just got finished saying that the propagation of the Soul’s Symmetry involves the downward replication of a fractal pattern which can be envisioned as “shells within shells” or “wheels within wheels”. It follows that the “bitterness” that afflicts the waters must be something that blocks or impedes this downward propagation at the level of Neshamah. Since Neshamah is an attribute of the Sephirah Malkut, it’s there that the breakdown occurs, which explains why Solomon instructs us to “descend into the Garden”.
Just as, in the ordinary sense, water is rendered bitter when it becomes mixed with contaminants, the same is also true in the metaphysical sense. The briny waters of the Ocean, for example, have a bitter taste and are undrinkable due to their salt content. Likewise, tears have a bitter flavor that often serves as a metaphor for the emotional bitterness of weeping and lamentation. The Hebrew mystics associated this lamentation with the Exile to which the Shechinah is subjected after the Fall. To be in Exile is to be dislocated from one’s home, to be “in the wrong place”, so to speak. In Her proper station, the Shechinah is the inward Light shining through mundane Reality. She is at home in the “kernel” of the nut, abiding deep within the “shell” of superficiality. But when kernel and shell become intermixed, Her Light is obscured, and She takes on the dark face of the waning Moon. In this exiled mode, Shechinah and Her Emanation Neshamah are mystically identified with Rachel, who is heard lamenting for the Lost Tribes of Israel in the famous passage from Jeremiah:
A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.
Thus, Rachel is a symbol of the entanglement of the Shechinah with the spiritual pollutants known as Qlippot. This entanglement, in turn, causes Her Emanation to be taken hostage by the Other Side. To release the Shechinah from Her captivity is the ultimate goal of the Kabbalah. As long as the Shechinah remains in Exile, Her Emanation — which constitutes the transcendent, unifying aspect of the human Soul — remains bitter. The bitterness of Neshamah bespeaks an adulteration, a murkiness which cannot sustain the infinitely detailed fractal replication of the Eternal Forms. In order to remove this bitterness and, in a manner of speaking, render the waters of Marah “sweet”, it’s necessary to follow the lead of the Israelites, who proceeded from Marah yet further into the Wilderness/Midbar.
When they arrived at Elim — which means “palm trees” in Hebrew — they found an oasis of 12 wells and 70 date palms. The 12 wells represent the full complement of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, with the lost descendants of Rachel restored. As we have just discussed, moreover, the number 12 is associated with the mystical Serpent Teli. Teli represents the primeval Equilibrium that prevailed between the material Universe and the Pleroma. More concretely, Teli is an emblem of the ecliptic plane in which the planets circle the Sun. Since the Sun symbolizes the dominant center of the human psyche, Teli plays the figurative role of the Mind’s Objective Axis. With the Fall of Man, the Objective and Subjective Axes of Consciousness became “unhinged”, a metaphysical event mirrored in the physical Universe by the misalignment of the ecliptic and the equatorial planes.
As a result of this cosmic/psychic disorientation, the 12 “Arms of the Universe” that Teli embodies are no longer positioned to protect the Tree of Life. Exposed to the incursion of the Qlippot, the Tree must now assume a defensive posture, a mode of commands and prohibitions aimed at keeping the Other Side at bay. In this mode, it becomes the Tree of Good and Evil, structured to maintain a separation between the “clean” and the “unclean”. A parallel transformation takes place in the “outward garment” of the Torah, as its apparent literal meaning takes on a dark cast of limitations and strictures.
the 12 wells of Elim are a sign of the restoration of Teli’s protective “Arms”
around the Tree, allowing it to revert to the mode of the Tree of Life. In that mode, everything that the Tree
encounters is holy and nothing needs to be held in check. As illuminated by the Tree of Life, the
meaning of the Torah shifts from the static literal level to the fluid Truth
beneath the surface, for which the 12 wells make a perfect metaphor. Later in this chapter, we’ll see how the
Prophets speak of the return of
for the 70 palms, in our last chapter we explained that they stand for the
process of Rectification that transforms the Tree of Good and Evil back into
the Tree of Life. This Rectification
process proceeds over a period of 70 Jubilee Cycles. The number 70 reflects the work of the 64 Eternal
Forms of the Elohim extended over a period of Six Days/Millenia. As we’ve just seen, the process of
Rectification unfolds in the metaphysical Wilderness. In
Some a my readers may recall our earlier discussion of how Abram’s name was changed to Abraham by the addition of the letter Heh, thereby increasing its numerical value to 248 . The purpose of this name change was to perfect Abraham’s correspondence to the Divine Man, i.e. to complete the Symmetry between the Upper and the Lower Worlds. This completion is accomplished by the letter Heh, which also signifies the number Five, as in the five levels of inward Symmetry which comprise the Soul. It is in Abraham, therefore, that the five-fold inward Symmetry of the Soul is first realized. Only as a consequence of Abraham’s holiness did the restoration of the Soul to its highest level of integration — the World Soul Pleroma — become attainable.
The “rectification” of Abraham’s name was an event in the Lower World of Phenomena corresponding, in accordance with strict Symmetry, with a parallel “rectification” unfolding in the Upper World of Emanations. Now, the Symmetry of the World of Emanations is represented by the Tree of Life. Hence, Abraham’s rectification imports nothing less than the Rectification of the Tree of Life. The ultimate fruit of this Tree is the Pleroma, whose completion will reverse the damage done to the Tree by Eve’s untimely plucking in the Garden of Eden. That damage temporarily disabled the Tree from bearing its supernal fruit and turned the Tree of Life into the Tree of Good and Evil. The Tree of Good and Evil, aka the Tree of Sin or the Tree of Mystery, is inherently incapable of bearing the Soul of the Messiah, whose Coming enables the restoration of the World Soul to its primeval wholeness.
Again, let’s remind ourselves that these two Trees about which we’re discoursing exist in the World of Emanations. Our Reality is generated by the influences or Emanations issuing from this Upper World. So if the Tree from which Reality is emanating is a unified Tree, like the perfectly Symmetrical Tree of Life, then our Reality likewise is Symmetrical, balanced, satisfying, harmonious. This is the Reality that our First Parents enjoyed in the Garden. On the other hand, if the Tree from whence our Reality is proceeding is a divided Tree, like the Tree of Good and Evil, then what we have is not a single Reality, but rather two distinct and diametrically opposed Realities. This is because the Tree of Good and Evil, anchored as it is by the Arrow of Death, can only deal with contrary-but-complementary Truths as negations of one another, as mutually exclusive categories.
when the Tree of Good and Evil comes into being, there arises a schism in the
Reality of the Lower World. This fissure
opens up into an Abyss, such that the Lower World splits into two Worlds B that of the Living and
that of the Dead. And so our
The Vortex of the Damned
I can almost hear my reader objecting defensively that his/her perception of Reality is not fragmented, but that he/she experiences only a single Reality. Let’s engage in a bit of introspection and test if that conviction is actually justified. Again, we need to be aware that all of our experience involves both “foreground” and “background” — aspects of Reality which proceed from the dual Sephirot of Netzach and Hod. The “foreground” of our lives is the experiences of which we are Conscious, while the “background” is all the residual experience which remains Unconscious.
When we dream, we experience a Reality that is radically unlike our waking Reality. Let’s think together a bit about what makes dream Reality so different from waking Reality. Even the most complex experience, whether waking or dreaming, can be parsed into a series of mental impressions, or States of Mind. Neurologists refer to these as “brain states”, the attendant electrical potentials of which can be detected and plotted on an electroencephalogram, or “EEG”. From the scientific/ medical perspective, however, there’s an enigma in what’s depicted on the EEG. Each brain state has a finite duration, typically lasting less than a tenth of a second, with a small but finite interval or “gap” between successive brain states. Therefore, on the face of the empirical evidence, our mental experience appears to be a disjointed series of images with absolutely no interconnection and no continuity. It’s like a cinematic projection, consisting of a series of discrete images whose apparent continuity is but an illusion.
In the same vein, novelist Henry James once observed that the stream of Consciousness is like a bird flitting from branch to branch. But where, one may ask, is the bird of Consciousness when it’s between branches? The same enigma also arises in physical phenomena, which are non-continuous due to the quantum limit. In fact, when physicists track subatomic particles, what they see is a short “vapor trail”, then a gap, then the next segment of the particle’s trail, then another gap, and so on. It’s as if the particle were always flickering on-and-off, just like our mental States.
Each of us can testify, however, that our experience is continuous. On the individual level, we perceive ourselves to be the same “person” from one instant to the next. On the social level, we are part of a civilization and culture which builds upon the collective human experience we call History. But, assuming all that’s true, where is the “glue” that holds our individual and collective experiences together? The only conceivable answer is that this “glue” of existential continuity is to be found in the “background” of our Consciousness, or what we call the Unconscious, both personal and collective.
But the realm of Unconsciousness is a realm not only of dreams, but also of nightmares. The Moon, which is the emblem of this Netherworld, has a dark phase as well as a bright one. In the dark of the Moon lurks the Shadow, the evil “alter-ego”. Since the nature of the Reality defined by the Tree of Good and Evil excludes co-existent contraries, all of the elements of the psyche which do not fit within the ego-persona must become the ego’s negation, its Shadow. Consequently, we all have not one identity, but two diametrically opposed personas, each seeking to undo the other. The more absolute the dominance of the ego becomes, the more rabid grows the antagonism of the Shadow. As the ego-persona has attained its apotheosis in our times, therefore, we have witnessed the concomitant explosion of self-destructive behavior, both on the individual and social levels. Thus, in place of the natural complementary relationship between the Conscious and Unconscious — which is to say, between the “foreground” and “background” of Consciousness — we have instead a mutually-exclusive hostility.
We’ve said that the concepts of “foreground” and “background” are embodied in the two lower “branches” of the Tree of Life. These are the Sephirah Netzach and Hod, representing Prophecy and Vision. Hence, the background of Consciousness is Vision, which we’ve said is the Soul’s reflection in the Mind. The Soul, in turn, has five levels, corresponding to the five Sephirot of the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life. These five “levels” of the World Soul are actually planes of Symmetry, so that we may aptly speak of the Soul as being five-dimensional.
Let’s pause here a moment and reflect a bit on what we’ve been saying. We’ve described Space-Time as six-dimensional, and now we’ve also concluded that the Inward Symmetry of the Soul consists of another five dimensions. Therefore, we might infer that ultimate Reality has a total of six plus five, or eleven dimensions. Self-evident though this inference may seem, however, it is nonetheless in error. Because, if the Tree of Life is truly the prototype of all Creation, then Creation must be ten-dimensional, as is the Tree itself, which consists of ten Vessels or Sephirot. Ironically, the “Super-Symmetry” theories of modern cosmology have likewise derived a ten-dimensional model of the Universe using a purely rational scientific analysis.
Now, let’s take this line of thought a step further. The only way the five Soul dimensions can combine with the six dimensions of Space and Time to make up just ten dimensions is if one of the Soul dimensions does double duty as a Space/Time dimension. We can deduce which level of the Soul performs this dual function if we recall that the two upper levels of the Pleroma are not accessible at all from Space/Time. On the other hand, the two lowest levels of the Pleroma — the “animal soul” Nephesh and the “Spirit-breath” Ruach — relate strictly to the consciousness of individual beings and hence are too limited in scope to perform a universal function. It follows that Soul dimension Neshamah, the first level at which the Soul takes on a collective identity, must also serve as a dimension of Space/Time . Since Neshamah is an Emanation of the Divine Presence Shechinah, moreover, we can infer that Space and Time must be endowed with a “divine dimension”.
At first this proposition seems startling and even a bit whimsical. But if we think back to the many prophetic passages we’ve encountered alluding to the special metaphysical significance of the “North”, we can begin to understand this esoteric concept of a “sacred dimension” in Space and Time. From the visionary perspective, Eternity enters Space/Time from the mythical North. That’s why the Old Testament Prophets envision the flow of incarnating Souls proceeding from the northerly side of the Holy Mountain of Elohim.
It goes without saying that the “North” of which the Prophets speak is something more than one of the four mundane compass directions. In mythical parlance, the “North” refers to the Celestial Pole, the point in the sky around which the entire cosmos appears to revolve. In the current Aeon, this non-dimensional point in the sky is situated close to the star Polaris in Ursa Minor. But we also know that the so-called “North pole” of the Heavens is actually the projection of a North-South axis about which our Earth turns in its daily round. This is the invisible axis which we’ve described as having a “negative existence”. Negative existence serves as the “background” for the “foreground” of Conscious Reality.
When we speak in everyday terms of the geographical direction North, we’re really using a shorthand which means “in the direction of the Earth’s North Pole”. But “North” in the celestial sense is quite different: it’s an extraterrestrial direction, pointing off into the starry expanses of outer Space. Taken in the latter sense, therefore, “North” makes the perfect symbol for a direction which goes beyond the three dimensions of mundane experience. It’s easier for us, with our three-dimensional mentality, to understand the notion of “celestial North” if we picture the Earth as flat. (Which is why the ancient philosophers spoke of a flat Earth, not because they were ignorant of its physical configuration, as we condescendingly assume.) A flat Earth spinning on its axis looks just like a phonograph record spinning around the spindle of a turntable. A mathematician would describe the spindle of the phonograph as being “orthogonal” to the plane of the vinyl recording. To get into the dimension of the phonograph spindle, something on the surface of the record has to “fly” upward, like the bird of Consciousness in Henry James’ simile. Similarly, to get into the dimension which the mystics designate as “North”, one needs to “fly” above the confines of three-dimensional experience. We picture Angels as having wings because they are capable of precisely this sort of “flight”. And we humans are also capable of “flying” in this way when our Consciousness is lifted aloft by the Chariot of Vision.
we may speak of the fourth dimension of Space, known in mystical parlance as
the “North”, as a “hidden Space”, because it is closed off to the ordinary
perception of fallen
All numbers fall into two broad categories called “real” numbers and “imaginary” numbers. Positive integers like 1, 2, 3, etc., are examples of real numbers. So are negative integers like -1, -2, -3, and so on. When one multiplies a negative number by another negative number, the negative signs cancel each other out and one gets a positive result. So, for example, -2 x -2 = 4 . But this principle makes it impossible to obtain a negative number by multiplying any real number by itself. Consequently, the square root of a negative number cannot be a real number, but is instead described as an “imaginary” number. The square root of -4, for instance, is written as the imaginary integer 2i.
The most general and all-encompassing category of numbers is called “complex”, having both a real and an imaginary component. In other words, any number can be expressed in the “complex” format, which is “a + bi” , where a is a real number and bi is an imaginary one. The complete mathematical expression of the number three, for example, is 3 + 0i. Similarly, the square root of -9 is expressed as 0 + 3i. While we ordinarily perceive numbers as one dimensional, they are actually two dimensional, having an Imaginary dimension which is “orthogonal” to the Real dimension. Thus, the real numbers are often depicted as a horizontal “number line”, beginning at zero and going off to the right toward positive infinity and to the left toward negative infinity. In the same way, the imaginary numbers are often depicted as a vertical “number line”, that is, a vertical axis orthogonal to the horizontal axis of real numbers. The two axes form a cross whose center is the “zero” point. (See diagram of complex number plane, Figure 2)
This mathematical digression becomes relevant to our theme if we consider any given point on the vertical axis of imaginary numbers. Let’s look, for instance, at the set of all of the complex numbers encompassed by the point corresponding to 3i on the imaginary number line. This set may be represented by a horizontal line, parallel to the real number axis, and including all of the positive real numbers from zero to infinity, as well as the negative real numbers from zero to minus infinity. From the standpoint of the real numbers, therefore, any point on the orthogonal imaginary axis represents an Infinite span, if expressed in spatial terms, or an Eternal duration, if viewed in from a temporal perspective. Accordingly, we can understand why the Hebrew noun Olam uses the idea of this “hidden” orthogonal dimension to express the notion of Eternity. It’s also noteworthy that the infinitely “deep” fractal patterns characteristic of the Elohim’s Eternal Forms are defined by sets of complex numbers, of which the Mandelbrot Set is the best-known example.
All that being said, we can revisit the enigma of our discontinuous Reality, with its flickering particles and fluttering mental states. It’s now quite clear that , during the intervals when Mind and Matter are absent from the Real dimensions of Space and Time, they are still present in the Imaginary dimensions of Infinity and Eternity. Therefore, it’s these flights of the Imagination, occurring between what we perceive as the instants of Time, that provide the “golden thread” of continuity, both of our mental experience and of the “objective” phenomena of the physical Universe. Furthermore, these apparent “gaps” in Space/Time impart not only the continuity, but also the context and meaning of our experience.
Imaginary Space/Time may be thought of as serving as a “hinge” with respect to Real Space/Time. When the “door” is closed, the orthogonal dimension collapses, and the particle or State-of-Mind is “present”, i.e., observable. But when the “door” opens, the “gaps” in continuity appear. As Blake said, each moment, each pulse of the vein or tick of the clock, is surrounded by a veritable Sea of Infinitude/Eternity. Space/Time is like Swiss cheese, but all the flavor is in the “holes”. All the “continuity”, too, because what ties together the flickering avatars of Matter and Mind is the orthogonal “hinge” of the Imaginary dimensions, where one instant encompasses all of Real Time and one point embraces all of Real Space. It’s as if the discrete, discontinuous states of Being are pearls, and the string that connects them is the Imagination. But what happens when the hinge cannot open, when the door is nailed shut? The response to that question was anticipated in one of the most memorable images of Dante’s Inferno:
and below I heard them nailing shut the door
of the horrible tower; whereat I looked
into the faces of my children without a word.
The answer is that continuity is lost. The form of Being, whose origin is in Eternity, cannot renew itself, cannot recapitulate itself in ever higher realizations. The fabric of reality disintegrates into disjointed moments, meaningless “sound bites”, absurd non-sequiters. And Consciousness descends into insular States of Mind which connect with no others. It is the Mind of God pulverized to dust, with each grain of sand its own solipsist Universe. This is why Dante refers to the various precincts of Hell as “sacks”, because the sack is the classic metaphor for “no exit”.
From the preceding discussion, we begin to appreciate that the mathematical and the spiritual share a close conceptual kinship. Where they intersect, they merge into the Science of Numerology, which the Ancients studied with such a passion. It is impossible, for example, to understand the deeper meanings of the Torah without recourse to this Science. The fact that this same passion for the sacred content of numbers runs also through the Gospels is alone proof of the essential and abiding Jewishness of the true Christian Faith. In our previous chapter, we spoke of the prodigious catch of fish by the Apostles in the last chapter of John’s Gospel. John is very careful to specify that there were exactly 153 fish caught on that day. The number 153 is the sum of the integers from one to seventeen. Seventeen is the seventh of the prime numbers. Hence we might describe the number 153 as being “seven expanded twice”. In the sacred dimension of Time, the great Jubilee Cycle also represents “seven expanded twice”: once in the Sabbath Year or Shmittah observance every seventh Year, and then again in the Jubilee Year celebrated every seventh Shmittah. The Seventh Day of Creation, when Elohim gave birth to the Treasury of Souls, expands to the seventh Year and then to the seventh Week of Years.
But the Year of Jubilee is actually celebrated on the eighth “Day”/Year of the Seventh Week of Years, and this “acceptable Year of the Lord” then becomes the first “Day”/Year of next Jubilee Cycle. The eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the guttural Chet ח . In the Bahir we read the following dialogue between the legendary Rabbi Akiba and his students concerning the letter Chet:
They asked him: “Why is the letter Chet open in only one direction?”
He anwered: “Because all directions are closed, except for the North, which is open for good and for evil.” 
Elsewhere, in the Zohar we read that when Elohim shaped the World, She “sewed up the seams”, so to speak, on three of its four quadrants. But the North side She left open as the “window” between Eternity and Space/Time, through which the Light of Righteous Souls could shine into the Lower Worlds. We can think of this causeway between Heaven and Earth as a Ladder, as it appeared in Jacob’s vision at Bethel/Luz. We can also picture it as a great Pillar, the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life — the veritable trunk of the Tree through which flows of sap of the Pleroma. We have previously identified this archetypal Ladder or Pillar with the Sephirah Yesod, the Foundation. Yesod is counted as the eighth Vessel or Sephirah on the Tree, and so it corresponds to the eighth letter Chet. Chet is the first letter of the Hebrew word for “arrow” Chetz חץ, invoking the image of Yesod as the Arrow of Righteousness. In other words, Yesod is the “direction”, unique to each individual, that takes us back to God.
The Arrow of Yesod is in fact the lynch-pin that secures the linkage between the Eternal and the mundane. It integrates the realms of the Heavenly Host, the Living and the Dead. But when the Tree of Life manifests itself as the Tree of Good and Evil, an Abyss opens between the Land of the Living and the Underworld of the Dead. This breach is reflected in Yesod, which becomes the access route into this World for the demonic Qlippot as well as the blessed Souls. It is in Yesod, therefore, that we discover the Gates of Gehenna as well as the Gates of Paradise. Since Yesod receives its influx from the dual Sephirot of Netzach and Hod, moreover, we should conclude that the breach between Good and Evil, Life and Death, Heaven and Hell originates in the fissure between the “foreground” and the “background” of Reality.
We’ve said that the orthogonal axes of Real and Imaginary dimensions cross at the “zero” point. This “zero” point is analogous to the Earth’s pole, where the orthogonal “North” celestial axis intersects the globe. But there’s a difference: Because the Earth is actually a sphere, unlike the flat phonograph record of our earlier analogy, the orthogonal axis intersects its surface not once, but twice. There’s not only a North pole, but a South pole as well. This observation, however, begs the question: Why does the prophetic vernacular refer only to the “North” as the direction of the Imaginary axis which links us with Eternity? After all, from the standpoint of physical orientation alone, there’s no reason not to depict the divine Arrow as pointing South. From the standpoint of human Consciousness, however, there is a very good reason for making the distinction between the “Sacred” North and the “Infernal” South.
humanity fell from its original condition of perfect Similitude to the Divine
Man, the Earth simultaneously “fell” in the sense of forfeiting its primeval
Symmetry. Accordingly, the development
of human civilization took on a distinctly asymmetrical pattern across the
globe, with the dominant centers of World culture being concentrated in the
Northern Hemisphere. To the ancient
... turning our stern to the morning, we made our oars wings for the mad flight, always gaining on the left. The night now saw the southern pole and all its stars, and the stars visible from our world sunk so low that they did not rise above the ocean floor.
The narrative concludes with Ulysses and his crew approaching a huge “dark mountain” at the South Pole before being sucked down below the sea by a whirlpool.
same archetypal pattern is also present in Herman Melville’s allegorical tale Moby Dick, which has its setting in the
The nature of this quest is the same for the damned Souls, of whom Ahab is the prototype, as it is for the redeemable ones, such as Ismael, the protagonist of Melville’s story. In other words, the primary Reality or “foreground” of the human condition is the same for all of us. For Ismael, however, the hunt is pursued against a background in which we always perceive, with more or less immediacy, the Presence of God, who moves even in the submarine domain of the Whale. For the tormented Ahab, on the other hand, the background of the voyage is an all-consuming self-hatred, the inevitable flip-side of egocentric self-love. So implacable is Ahab’s inwardly directed hatred that it ultimately destroys the one remaining remnant of his higher Self — his ship the Pequod. As the “Pole-pointed prow” of his ship sinks beneath the waves, Ahab cries out one final, chilling imprecation:
Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.
The fascination of visionary writers like Melville and Coleridge with the tall sailing ships of their era was inspired, at least in part, by their wonderful metaphorical correspondence to the human condition with its many levels of experience. Looming above the mundane activities on the ship’s decks are the “orthogonal” masts, symbols of those unseen dimensions of the World Soul transcending our insular egos. Speaking through his character Ismael, Melville senses in the undulations of the fathomless Sea the movements of this all-embracing Soul:
... at last he loses his identity; takes the mystic ocean at his feet for the visible image of that deep, blue, bottomless soul, pervading mankind and nature; and every strange, half-seen, gliding, beautiful thing that eludes him; every dimly-discovered, uprising fin of some undiscernable form, seems to him the embodiment of those elusive thoughts that only people the soul by continually flitting through it.
But Melville proceeds to point out that there’s a grave danger incipient in this dreamy pantheism of the young sailor. During the primeval shattering of the Pleroma, as we have said, the fragments of the World Soul became contaminated with a “demonic” component, which must be “refined” out before the Soul’s unity can be restored. In the previous chapter, we learned that the role of the “refiner” belongs to the Messiah, into whom all individual Souls will ultimately be assimilated. The Messiah’s function is to repair the breach in human Consciousness, the breach which divides the Conscious from the Unconscious, the Living from the Dead, Heaven from Hell.
This great tear in the fabric of Consciousness is very much related to the symbol of the Leviathan which Melville so effectively deploys in his novel. In Genesis, the division of Light from Darkness — and the attendant creation of Hell — on the First Day is followed on the Second Day by the creation of a firmament to separate the Lower Waters from the Upper Waters. The imagery of the “separation of the Waters” actually alludes to the establishment of the “bottom level” or Foundation of physical Reality. This is the level below which matter and energy can no longer be divided, and it corresponds to what physicists call the “quantum limit”. Earlier we noted that this “quantum limit” had to be set at a precise level determined by a non-dimensional physical constant whose integer value is 137. The Leviathan is a symbol of the Lower Waters, which embrace all the phenomena that are excluded from physical Reality by reason of being below the quantum limit. These sub-real entities exist in what scientists call a “virtual” reality, which is to say that they are real but insubstantial, “demonic” beings without bodies. (See Appendix 1)
physics describes the nature of this sub-quantum virtual reality as a vortex, a
sub-microscopic version of the “black holes” that astronomers observe in the
outskirts of the cosmos. It should not
be regarded as a coincidence, then, that the Abyss of negative existence which
we call Hell should also be pictured as a vortex. In our last chapter we described Teli, the great Serpent of Matter, as a
helix. A particular species of the helix
is a vortex, in which the radius of curvature contracts with each revolution
until it vanishes in a dimensionless point.
The overall structure of Dante’s Hell is an enormous vortex, with each
successive Circle becoming more constricted as one descends. Dante also depicted the
The reason for the violent destructiveness of a vortex, whether it be a tornado or a black hole, lies in the “closing” of the spatial dimension orthogonal to its downward path. In other words, the horizontal extension of the spiral motion is drawn in tighter and tighter as one approaches the bottom of the funnel. Since the energy of the spiral motion does not diminish, its constricting orbits must increase in acceleration and force, building to a howling tempest as they approach the vortex center. In the same way, the descent into Hell’s vortex involves the “closing” of the Imaginary dimensions that connect Space/Time with Eternity.
Going back to the plot of Moby Dick for a moment, Melville makes the allegory of the vortex the centerpiece of the novel’s final scene. In that scene the lone survivor Ismael is being drawn toward the black bubble at the center of a whirlpool generated by the sinking ship. But he is saved when the bubble suddenly bursts, releasing a coffin which becomes his life raft. Symbolically, Ismael has penetrated the barrier between Life and Death; he has reopened the dimension of transcendence that Captain Ahab’s infernal hatred had closed. With the reopening of visionary Space-Time, the vortex subsides into a quite pool. If we view the Pequod as a fragment of the Pleroma, it has been “refined” to its essential identity, personified by Ismael. Thus purified, the Soul fragment is ready to be reintegrated into the World Soul, a process allegorically depicted in Ismael’s rescue by a ship named Rachel at the very end of the story.
A Voice in Ramah
observed that the Twelve Tribes of Israel are a symbol for the “mustering” of
Souls that will take place on the Day of Judgment. It’s the function of the Neshamah to assemble
individual Souls into these larger aggregate “Tribes” so that their final
integration into the Chayah can be consummated in the New Jerusalem at the end
of Time. The Twelve Tribes of Israel, of
course, are based upon the lineages of the twelve sons of Jacob, of whom two —
Joseph and Benjamin — were borne by his favorite wife Rachel. When the schism occurred between the ten
northern Tribes of Israel and the two southern Tribes of Judea, the descendants
of Joseph, and particularly those of his son Ephraim, became the dominant Tribe
in the North, while
the Assyrians swept down into
Thus saith the Lord: A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.
Thus saith the Lord: Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded...; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.
And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border.
It’s interesting that the Hebrew verb ramah has two principal meanings. Its literal meaning is “to shoot”, as a bowman shoots an arrow. Used figuratively, it can also mean “to delude”, in the sense of treachery. Earlier in this chapter, we discussed the negative side of the bipolar imagery of the Arrow. This imagery relates to a deviant orientation of the Arrow of Yesod, which is the Eighth Vessel of the Tree of Life and the conduit through which Souls become incarnate. When the Arrow of Yesod is misaligned, the roots of the Tree in the Abyss become cut off from the branches rising up into the Heavens. Thus deprived of nourishment, the Tree withers and becomes the Tree of Good and Evil, the Tree of Death. In T.S. Eliot’s stark poetic imagery, this Tree is a prime symbol of the despair and futility that pervades our decadent culture:
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief ...
of having one Tree which connects the three realms of the Eternals, the Living
and the Dead, what we now have is two Trees.
One of these, the Tree of Life, has become unapproachable by the Living,
who are kept away by the Flaming Sword.
The other, the Tree of Good and Evil, is unapproachable by the Dead,
because they have become entangled with the demonic Qlippot of the Other
Side. This entanglement is portrayed
allegorically in the Book of Genesis by the kidnapping of Joseph by his envious
brothers. Envy is the hallmark of the
Satanic ego-persona, in which the Self is diminished to the status of a passive
Object. In order to establish its
tyranny, the ego must send the Subjective elements of the Self into Exile. Thus, the dreamer Joseph is sold into exile
“coat of many colors” represents the “garments of Light” which Adam and Eve
wore in the Garden of Eden. The
intricate fractal pattern of this garment endows its wearer with the perception
of an Infinite Reality, created from moment-to-moment by the power of the
Imagination. While Light consists of the
full spectrum of a myriad hues, however, the shrunken “objective” eye of the
ego-self crudely mixes them all together to make white — the whiteness of a
corpse drained of Life. When Adam and
Eve were expelled from
Equivalent symbolism is evident in an alternate rendering of the Midrash, which describes Adam’s first material garment as consisting of the skin of the Leviathan. This imagery matches that of Melville=s White Whale, an embodiment of mankind’s collective Soul consigned to the demonic realm “below the water”, that is, below the quantum limit of Space/Time. Before the Leviathan can be brought up above the surface and assimilated by Consciousness, it must first be extricated from its attachments to the Other Side. This purification process extends over a period of 70 Jubilee Years, in accordance with the prophecy of Isaiah:
And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre, ... And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord: ... for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.
The allegory of Joseph’s kidnaping continues with his envious brothers casting him into a pit after stripping him of his rainbow-hued garment. In Hebrew, the word for Hell Sheol literally signifies a pit. It follows, then, that Hell is the place where the exiled aspects of the Neshamah have been consigned. The Torah’s Oral Tradition expands on the written text to inform us that the pit into which Joseph was thrown was actually a dry cistern. Now, the image of a dry cistern has a very specific meaning in prophetic symbolism, best expressed by Jeremiah:
Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord.
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
Because it’s very important that we have a full understanding of what Jeremiah is talking about here, let’s take the time to look at the original wording of this passage. The Hebrew for “heavens” shamayim, is formed by combining the words for “fire” ’esh and “waters” mayim. This combination characterizes the heavenly fire known as Quintessence, and the principle of Equilibrium that it embodies. The verb translated as “be horribly afraid” is sa‘ar, which literally means “to be swept up in a whirlwind”. Here we recognize the infernal vortex generated by the closing off of the Imaginary dimensions that link Space/Time with Eternity.
Likewise, the Hebrew verb rendered in English as “be desolate” is chareb, having a literal meaning “to be parched by drought”. Utilizing the Kabbalah’s technique of considering alternate meanings of the some set of consonants, the noun chereb can denote either a “drought” or a “sword”. Up to this point, therefore, Jeremiah seems to be referring to an action which desiccates the “fiery waters” of the Heavens Shamayim and leaves only unmitigated Hell-fire in its wake. With an eye toward the alternate readings of chareb/chereb, moreover, we can discern an allusion to Flaming Sword that forbids our access to the Tree of Life.
Again examining the Hebrew language underlying the King James translation, we find, in the phrase “hewed them out cisterns”, the word chatzeb, meaning “to hew or split”. A word closely related to chatzeb is chetz, signifying the Arrow of monolithic Reason that splits Consiousness and consigns its visionary powers to the infernal “pit”. So we’re not surprised to learn that the term Jeremiah uses for “cistern” bor, also means “pit”. In the following passage, the Prophet again employs the image of the dry pit or cistern as an emblem of spiritual drought afflicting God’s people:
The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the droughts. Judah is in mourning, and its gates languish; ...
And their nobles have sent their servants for water; they came to the cisterns/pits, but found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads.
Because the ground is parched, for there has been no rain on the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads. ...
And the wild asses stand on the desolate heights, snuffing the air like jackals; 
The idea of shame as a salient symptom of humanity’s spiritual malaise comes across very strongly here. Shame is the Flaming Sword that keeps us from the Tree of Life, and Shame is the key to the prison in which we have confined our innermost Soul, Neshamah.
I have heard the key
Turn in the door once and turn once only
We think of the key, each in his prison
Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison
Hell, then, is nothing more than the Mind’s own prison. It’s the experience of being cut off from the only part of ourselves that truly gives us a reason to live. When the vessel that holds the meaning of our existence becomes empty, there remains within us only a yawning void with an obsessive, desperate need to be filled by something, by anything. Thus is the well of Eternal Life poisoned, and in its place rises an infernal flame of hunger that can never be appeased.
Burning, burning, burning burning
O Lord Thou pluckest me out
O Lord Thou pluckest
We can readily observe the flames of this savagely ravenous greed consuming everything in our World. Greed is helter-skelter devouring the Earth and its bounty, shaking the very foundations of biological Life on this planet. According to the preeminent paleoanthropologist Dr. Richard Leakey, if there is no reversal of this mindless plunder, over half of the species now inhabiting the Earth will become extinct within the next 50 to 100 years. Mass extinctions of this magnitude have occurred only five times before in the history of our World. When this many species become extinct in such a short period of time, Dr. Leakey tells us, there are always severe and far-reaching consequences for the surviving species as well.
stated, mankind is blindly rushing toward the precipice of collective suicide,
even as I write these words. Most
knowledgeable people whose opinions are not tainted by money will readily
acknowledge this evident fact. In our
delirious folly, we are literally consuming our own children by utterly
exhausting the resources upon which future generations must depend. Even if humanity were to survive this crisis,
the social cataclysm sure to accompany it would so disrupt civilization as to
break its continuity with past generations.
In other words, mankind’s collective memory of the works of its
forefathers and foremothers would be erased, as happened after the great Flood
and again after the destruction of the
Truly vain is salvation hoped for from the tumult of the mountains ...
For shame has devoured the labor of our fathers ...
We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covers us.
Jeremiah refers to the mountaintops as places of idolatrous worship. They are the elevated places of the Elite, the perches of the voracious birds of prey. Like the eagle, they have narrowed their perception down to the point that it is completely absorbed by Death; it is totally focused on the Corpse, in which Man is reduced to an object. We have this on the authority of Job ...
Doth the eagle... make her nest on high? She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. ... [W]here the slain are, there she is.
... and Jesus:
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. ...For as the lightening cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
And when the gathering of eagles has picked the bones clean, what then? In a World order based on unrestrained pillage, what happens when there’s nothing left worth pillaging? Among many of the Nations, that situation has already come to pass. But when it becomes universal, what then? Hell will have burned down its own house. It will have consumed its own dominion, as Dylan Thomas envisioned it would:
When their bones and picked clean,
and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot ...
And death shall have no dominion.
The poet here is referring to Ezekiel’s vision of the Valley of the Dry Bones. What the latter describes allegorically is nothing less than the path to mankind’s future World, the way to the Kingdom that lies beyond the Hell we’re now experiencing. If someone offers to lead you out of Hell, as the mythical Orpheus led Eurydice, you should listen very carefully. And so, let’s be very attentive to what’s being told in Ezekiel chapter 37. In prophetic Vision, Ezekiel is transported to a great valley filled with dry bones whose flesh had been picked clean. Yahweh explains that these bones are “the whole House of Israel”, that is, all Twelve Tribes. As we discussed a few pages back, the Twelve Tribes represents the components of the Soul that are to be reassembled in the Pleroma. As they first appear to Ezekiel, however, the dry bones are totally cut off from the Body to which they belong.
Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
The separation of the dry bones from “the whole House of Israel” is a fate they must endure for all of Time. But, as we know, Time itself can be transcended in the Imaginary dimensions of Vision.
And upside down in air were towers,
Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours
And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells.
In this decayed hole among the mountains
In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing
Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel
There is the empty chapel, only the wind’s home.
It has no windows, and the door swings,
Dry bones can harm no one.
This is the metaphysical juncture at which Hell has run its course, reached the limit of the quantum boundary separating the Real from the demonic. It’s the null point of ultimate despair that the poet must enter when he/she harrows Hell. I’m reminded of one of Bob Dylan’s lyrics:
I’ve just reached a place where the willow don’t bend,
There’s not much more to be said, it’s the top of the end.
I’m going ... I’m going ... I’m gone.
when the Arrow of Death seems to have reached its most awful terminus, however,
a miracle occurs. The clouds part, and
the Rainbow appears. It’s the Rainbow of
Noah, out of whose loins came the entire human race as it now stands. It’s the Bow of the Covenant, the Bow of the
Promise that Man’s Soul will not be left in Hell forever. Ezekiel repeated this very Promise as he
prophesied over the dry bones of
Behold, I will cause breath [ruach] to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, ... and ye shall live; ...
So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
is the great watershed of Space and Time, when the process of expansion and
dissociation suddenly comes to a halt and reverses itself. What was scattered begins to be
gathered. Noah, of course, represents
the entirety of the World Soul. Before
that level of reunification can be achieved, however, it’s first necessary to
repair the breach among the Twelve Tribes, which is to say, between
The second staff called “Bands” represents God’s Covenant with His Chosen People, the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Figuratively, as we’ve said, the Twelve Tribes signify the “mustering” of the Soul’s components toward their penultimate level of unity, the Chayah. In Hebrew, “Bands” translates as Chebel, which denotes a bundle bound together by a cord. We now know that it’s the Neshamah that binds together the components of the Soul in this World, in preparation for their full integration in the World to Come.
the unity of the Pleroma is pictured as a Bow, then the Neshamah is the
Bowstring, providing the vital tension between the Bow’s opposite poles. The unity of what Blake called Contraries is
the source of Life’s energy, the source of the Living Water from whence each
Soul draws a different thread from the vast fractal tapestry of Truth. In this regard, it=s noteworthy that Zechariah uses the Hebrew
word for “staff” maqqelah, which is
closely linked to the term for a “source of water” maqor. The word maqqelah can also be rendered as a
“rod”, such as the one Moses used to part the
the staff named “Bands” as the “brotherhood between
with it’s “schismatic” connotation, Shechem was the locale where the ruling
little detour into
... a shepherd who will neither miss the lost sheep, nor seek the strayed, nor heal the injured, nor sustain the frail, but will feast on the flesh of the fat ones and tear off their hoofs.
All of this leads us to the realization of who the Son of Man really is. If the ego-self has truly reached the point of being “tapped out”, if it’s become the proverbial dry well and broken vessel, then the only way for mankind out of the Wasteland is to seek an alternate configuration of the human persona. And that alternate configuration is delineated for us in the person of the Messiah. It’s a persona based on the total absence of self-love, a persona that surrenders itself freely and unreservedly to the loving embrace of the Shechinah, a persona that does not fear Death because it has transcended the barrier between Life and Death. Such a persona cannot actualize itself, however, until the pieces of the complete Self which it represents have been brought back from the land of the Dead. Thus, the first avatar of the Messiah — the Messiah ben Joseph — must harrow Hell and bring the captives back from the dry pit of Sheol, before His second Coming as the triumphant King Messiah ben David. Zechariah speaks with the prophetic voice of the first Messiah when he proclaims:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of
And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, ... and the battle bow shall be cut off ...
As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth the prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water ...
When I have bent
should recognize in the “whirlwinds of the south” as being the infernal vortex
generated by the closing off of the Imaginary dimensions of Space/Time. Zechariah speaks here of placing the Arrow of
Subjective Consciousness on the Bowstring of Neshamah, so that who we perceive
ourselves to be again corresponds to our higher Self. In this context,
At this point, we’re ready to return to Ezekiel’s Valley of the Dry Bones and share his Vision of the road that leads us out of Hell:
... thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, ... then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, ... And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
... Behold, I will take the children of
The word for “stick” in Hebrew is ‘etz, which also can mean “tree”. There’s also a pun here involving the word ‘etzem, meaning “bones” or “body”. In the merged sticks of Judah and Joseph, we see a metaphor for the restoration of the Body of the divine Man, as well as for the grafting of the Tree of Good and Evil back onto the Tree of Life. What we’re left with is one Tree, one stick, one staff, one rod, embodying the power of unified collective Consciousness — the same power that parted the Red Sea. And, indeed, what the voice of the Prophet is calling us to do is to undertake a second Exodus to achieve this unity of Spirit. The call is echoed in the words of Isaiah:
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria ... And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth ... The envy also of Ephraim shall depart ... Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim ...
And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.
And so, my dear reader, the path of our spiritual pilgrimage now leads us out of Sheol, out of Egypt, out of Assyria, and to the shore of the Red Sea, the banks of the Euphrates River, which we shall cross “dry shod”, as Isaiah promised. I will meet you there in our next chapter.
. Inferno, iii:7-8
. That such grammatical constructions are not unknown in Hebrew, however, can be seen in the plural “women” נָשִים
. I.e., with a patah ַ vowel marking under the letter ה.
. Genesis 6:19-20
. Zohar, Prologue '11
. John 7:37-38
. Psalms 11:2-3
. Milton, Book the First, pl.10, l.16-20
. Jeremiah 10:3-11
. Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, vol. 1, pp. 10, 114-115
. Jeremiah 9:19-22
. Jeremiah 18:1-6
. Inferno, iii. 22-30
. Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend, Hamlet=s Mill, p. 239 (Godine, 1999)
. Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, pp.57, 387-389, 407-408 (Penguin 1992); The White Goddess, pp.401-401 (Noonday, 1995)
. Psalms 11:2-3
. Jeremiah 19:1-11
. Psalms 139:16. The Hebrew word golem is rendered as “substance” in the King James translation.
. Hosea 2:14
. Song of Songs 3:6
. See Zohar, Prologue '170
. Matthew 4:1-11
. Leonard Cohen, “The Window”
. Exodus 17:1-7
. T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”, l.331-359
. Psalms 91:4-9
. Song of Songs 6:11
. Zohar, the Book of Splendor, Gershom Scholem ed., p.4 (Schocken, NY, 1949)
. Revelation 7:4-10
. Exodus 15:23-27
. Jeremiah 31:15
. Gershom Scholem, On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, p.108 (Schocken, NY 1965)
. Inferno, xxxiii, 46-48
. Bahir 34
. Prologue 3, Tehillim 2, 16.
. Bahir 34
. Inferno, xxvi:124-129
. Moby Dick, cxxxv.
. Jeremiah 31:15-17
. T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”, l.19-23
. G. Scholem, op. cit., pp. 71-72
. Prologue 21, Beresheet 22.5
. Louis Ginzberg, op. cit., vol. 5, p.199
. Isaiah 23:17-18
. Jeremiah 2:12-13
. Jeremiah 14:1-6
. T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”, l.411-415. All un-ascribed quotations from this point forward shall be this poem.
. Alex Kirby, BBC News Online, Aug. 24, 2001.
. Jeremiah 3:23-25
. Job 39:27-30
. Matthew 24:23-28
. Dylan Thomas, “And death shall have no dominion”
. Ezekiel 37:11
. T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”, l.383-391
. Bob Dylan, AGoing, Going, Gone@
. Ezekiel 37:5-7
. Zechariah 12:7-14
. 1Kings 12
. Matthew 15:24
. Zechariah 12:16; The “hoofs” of the Tree of Life are Netzach and Hod, the seats of Prophecy and Vision.
. Zechariah 9:9-14
. Ezekiel 37:16-21
. Isaiah 11:11-16