Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Jean-Louis de Biasi, author of Secrets and Practices of the Freemasons and the forthcoming The Divine Arcana of Aurum Solis.
Western initiatic traditions like Freemasonry, Golden Dawn, Aurum Solis, etc. have a long history. They have achieved a worldwide reputation. However, you must be careful about your first impression when you are looking for a book about Qabalah!
Qabalah is everywhere! In bookstores and online you will find ubiquitous references to the Qabalistic tree, the Sephiroth, the Archangels, the sacred words, etc. In fact, because of its presence everywhere, these books on Qabalah seem to be the only reference you can trust, the real and unique source of the entire Western Tradition. In fact, Qabalah is based on the Jewish esoteric interpretation of the Bible, which is a primary source book in our world. Ironically, people seeking involvement in the Orders of the Western Tradition may be neither Jewish, nor Christian, even though these Orders consider the Qabalah to be the cornerstone of all initiations.
Since the time of Eliphas Levi (the French occultist whose writings gave essential “keys to the Qabalah” to the founders of the Golden Dawn) every new initiate has had to learn the Qabalistic system. If you join these Orders, you will perform rituals rooted in this representation of the cosmos and you will begin to build your inner dimension according to these principles. No one will demand that you do so, but the result of these constrained studies is inevitable: you will become a Qabalist by using these Qabalistic tools, in the same way that you would become a sculptor if you used a chisel and hammer every day.
At first glance, you might consider this to be a minor question. Yet, on the occult level, it is critical to look more closely at this issue. If someone builds, carves, or sculpts his/her inner self according to a precise, constraining grid without being aware of the grid’s existence, the result will be the opposite of spiritual progress. One must be aware of the process of spiritual development as it is occurring. This is a primary requirement for every initiate who is eager to progress without dogmatic influences. Another problem arises: if you study this system without any conscious awareness of the grid that is being imposed on you, your lack of awareness opens your invisible bodies to external influences stemming from the egregore of the religions or cults who have used these systems from the beginning.
Remember that I am discussing the Western Tradition. How did we come to we find ourselves in this constrained situation, if Qabalah is a latter-day system deriving from the Bible, while the Western heritage really stems from more ancient roots? How did we come to be so focused on Qabalah—aren’t we proud of our own Western heritage? Are you condemned to this constrained training, just because you failed to ask what magical and Theurgic practices existed before the 16th Century, or before the rise of Christianity? Aren’t there other options? It is time for you to ask what the practices and rituals of the Hermetic Past Masters (such as Pletho, Proclus, Iamblicus, etc.) were!
Yes, there was magic long before the Qabalah came into being!
As you will see in the “Magical Philosophy” series from Aurum Solis and my forthcoming book The Divine Arcana of Aurum Solis, Qabalah is only a grid that can be used to explain a specific representation of the cosmos and different levels of consciousness. However, Hebrew is not the sacred language of the Western Tradition. Greek, Egyptian, and Sumerian are more representative of the roots of Western Philosophy, and these were the languages used by the Masters in their rituals. The power inherent in these rituals is markedly different and often much more effective, since it is disconnected from centuries of dogmatic and religious fundamentalism. It was for these reasons that Denning and Philips wisely explained in their two landmark magical tomes that it is advisable to progressively switch from this Hebrew system to something closer to the original Western system (without entirely banishing the Hebrew system, of course).
We must therefore ask why magicians should continue to learn and use the Hebrew Qabalah when this is not the primary magical system, but merely a later interpretation that distorted the Hermetic principles and rituals?
From the 15th Century on, initiates used this system and developed theories and practices based on this framework. It is essential to be able to understand what they did and what they taught. That is why you must learn the basics, so that you can perform the necessary experiments. However, you do not have to become a Hebrew Qabalist in order to perform the experiments.
Having said that, the best strategy is for you to be consciously aware of what you are doing in your studies and spiritual exercises. Freedom of thought is a cornerstone for anyone involved in the Hermetic Tradition and the main goal remains to ascend out of the symbolic cave (which represents the world), so that you can finally begin to fully enjoy all the pleasures of your life!
Our thanks to Jean-Louis de Biasi for his guest post! For more from Jean-Louis, read his article “Discover the Ancient Secrets of the Freemasons” or his interview.