In previous posts I’ve discussed the value of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and its first section known as the Kabalistic Cross. In the previous post of this series (LINK) I discussed how to form the pentagrams and the importance of circumambulating as part of the ritual. I’d like to clarify by pointing out that not everyone has the room to actually move around in a circle. Some people will need to simply face one direction and then pivot 90° clockwise while standing in position. This is fine, if you simultaneously visualize yourself moving in an actual circle in order to form the protective barrier and enclosing the vortex of power you are creating.
In the formulation of the pentagrams it is appropriate to vibrate the God names you use to charge and empower the pentagrams. I described this technique in a previous post (LINK). That leads us to a discussion of the meaning of these God names.
Uh, Wait a Moment. Isn’t There Just One God?
The Jewish Kabalistic/Magickal traditions, from which this ritual evolved, does, indeed, follow the Jewish belief in there being just one God. I’m using the traditional term “God,” however I need to make clear that to the Kabalist, this is not the immature and superficial old-man-with-a-long-beard-on-a-throne-in-the clouds. Rather, God is seen as being an inclusive term for a deity that is beyond gender, beyond time, and beyond our understanding. God is neither male nor female to the Kabalist, yet both and neither simultaneously. I realize that some people are offended because today the use of the term “God” implies a male deity as opposed to a female Goddess. However, this is a modern deconstruction based on the availability of a grammatical neuter tense in English that is lacking in Hebrew (as well as other languages). In Hebrew, the word yeled means “boy child” and yaldah means “girl child.” For plurals, -eem (often transliterated “-im”) creates a plural male word while -oht (often transliterated “-oth”) is used to create a female plural. Thus, “boys” in Hebrew is yeledeem while “girls” is yaldoht. But because Hebrew does not have a collective neutral gender such as in English, the word meaning a group of boys and girls is yeledeem, the same as the word for boys. Context determines whether a term is masculine or inclusive of both male and female. To the Kabalist, then, the word “God” is inclusive. So when I use the term “God,” here, please do not think of the old guy.
The next problem is how can God have multiple names? Unlike Christianity where there are three gods (well, one God composed of three persons, whatever that means), in Judaism there is, indeed, the belief in one ultimate deity. So how can this God have multiple names?
The answer is that we use different names to better relate to different aspects of the one God. As an example, imagine a man named John Smith
His wife calls him “Dear.”
His boss calls him “Smith.”
His son always calls him “Dad.”
His co-workers call him “Smitty.”
His mistress calls him “Honey-Poo.”
Those names represent the relationship each person has with John Smith. Use a different name to indicate a change in the relationship. Imagine the effect of his son saying, “Father, I’d like to talk with you.” Or imagine his wife saying, “We need to talk, Honey-Poo!”
In summation: This ritual works with one deity, called God, who is neither male nor female, but both and neither. The different names of this singular and unlimited deity represent the relationship between the ritualist and an aspect of God.
The First Name:
The first name of God that is used is known as the Tetragrammaton. That’s a fancy Greek word meaning “four-lettered name.” (Wouldn’t it have been so much cooler if that word had a deeper meaning?) It’s composed of the Hebrew letters, Yud, Heh, Vahv, and a repetition of the letter Heh. In Hebrew, read from right to left, it looks like this:
Various scholars have assumed that this comes from or is a blending of other Middle Eastern deity names. However, although linguistically there may be a connection, there is no “smoking gun” showing that one evolved into this name. One translator of the classic Sefer Yetzirah claimed that it may have been a code for other letters or there may have been duplicate letters. As a result, Jews traditionally do not even attempt to try and pronounce it.
If you have ever been to a Jewish religious service, you will notice that some of the prayers are recited very quickly. In order to prevent even an accidental attempt to pronounce this ultimate name of God as worshipers run through the words, Jews added vowels (a system of points and lines around the letters of Hebrew) from the Hebrew word Ah-doh-nye, meaning “My Lord.” More on this later.
If you accidentally try to blend the two, you get (according to Hebrew grammar) Yah-Hoh-Vah or Jehovah, a complete misunderstanding of this word.
So instead of trying to pronounce this word, simply say the letters: Yud-Heh-Vahv-Heh. Symbolically, however, they have a meaning. The first letter, the Yud (it’s the smaller one on the right in the Hebrew above) represents archetypal masculinity, or pure potential male influences. The second letter (the first Heh) represents archetypal femininity, or female influence in potential. The third letter, the Vahv, represents physical masculinity or the male aspect in action, while the second Heh means physical plane femininity, or the female aspect in action.
Thus, the inner meaning of this name is that God is a blending of all archetypal and physical male and female (positive and negative, magnetic and electrical, yin and yang, etc.) forces. Frankly, I think that’s a pretty good way of explaining the notion of God in the Kabalah.
Oh, there’s a bit more, too. The small Yud represents potential masculine energy and the Vahv—masculine energy in action—is nothing more than an extended Yud, now standing firmly next to the window of feminine energy (Heh, as a Hebrew word, means “window”). This is a key to one type of magick which is more thoroughly explored in my book, Modern Sex Magick.
The Second Name:
The name of God vibrated to charge the second pentagram that you’ll draw is Ah-doh-nye. It is usually translated as “lord,” but this is wrong. The -ay sound at the end is a possessive, making this word mean “my lord.” This is the use of a very personal term, pointing out that God is not simply separate from us and unapproachable, but is right here when needed. This is technically known as the philosophy of panentheism, that God is both approachable and beyond our comprehension, immanent and transcendent.
The Third Name:
The name of God vibrated to charge the third pentagram that you’ll draw is Eh-heh-yeh. Associated with the topmost sephirah on the Tree of Life, it is usually translated as “I am,” even leading to a religious cult known as “The Great I Am.”
Eh-heh-yeh is the first word of the phrase Eh-he-yeh ah-shair-Eh-he-yeh. It occurs in the book of Exodus. Moses is at the burning bush and God tells him to go to Pharaoh and order that the supposedly enslaved Jews be freed. Moses, showing a limited conception of divinity and a big helping of hubris, asks who he should say sent him. Note the deep importance place on names.
It is here that God replies, “Eh-he-yeh ah-shair-Eh-he-yeh,” usually translated as “I am that I am.” When I was growing up this made me think that God was actually Popeye, spouting “I am what I am and that’s all thats I am.”
Once again, the translation is in error. The verb tense is infinitive. Therefore, the correct translation should be, “I will be what I will be.” Now to me, that makes sense. Moses asks who God is and the reply of this transcendent and immanent deity is that “I will be whatever I damn well want to be.” God is saying that God is beyond the limitation of one name and can change to be whatever God wants to be whenever God wants to be it. To me, that’s very God-like.
The Fourth Name:
The name vibrated to empower the fourth pentagram is Ah-glah. In a previous post (LINK) I shared how the famous word amen was actually an acronym for three Hebrew words. Ah-glah is an acronym (in Kabalah it’s called a notaricon) for four Hebrew words: Atah Gibor Lih-oh-lam Ah-doh-nye. It means Thou (Atah) art great (Gibor) forever (Lih-oh-lam), my lord (Ah-do-nye).
With the information above and the previous posts in this series, you now have the background information for performing this part of the ritual. I’ll share the full instructions in my next post.