WHAT IS GNOSTIC KABBALAH MAGIC?
Though this title is somewhat ungainly, all 3 of these words have significance and meaning in my classes. However since these terms mean different things to different people I will briefly explain what I mean.
GNOSTIC: from the Greek word gnosis, "knowledge" especially an intuitive knowing of direct perception or experience, as opposed to beliefs acquired by instruction or memorization: book learning.
It also refers to a set of understandings about the world such as its imperfect nature and even the imperfect nature of the forces responsible for the worlds creation and maintenance.
On the other hand there is a recognition that the human being has within (sometimes quite deeply) a spark of the original divine flame, the essence of the very highest.
Another important element is the belief that spiritual agencies and beings are sent from the highest aeons to aid and rescue the sparks of the divine which have become lost and trapped in a world of ignorance, and especially ignorance of their own origin and nature.
For Christian Gnostics this redeemer figure is the Christ though there were others such as the Sethians who viewed Seth (the third son of Adam and Eve) as such a figure.
There is also much less emphasis on the sinfulness of humankind. Redemption is accomplished through gnosis (an awakening to a higher understanding of reality) as opposed to the substitute sacrifice of God's son.
Actually the Gnosis has a great deal in common with Buddhism and especially Mahayana Buddhism. There is even some evidence of cross fertilization between the two and not just one way.
So I am using Gnostic in reference to this tradition of the awakening of consciousness and liberation of the individual.
KABBALAH: the word itself is a Hebrew word meaning "received tradition" and one that expounds upon divine things. In particular Kabbalah refers to a series of texts and teachings published during the middle-ages, though based on a much older oral traditions.
There is debate about Kabbalah's earliest origins and similarity to Gnostic ideas. Some think the Kabbalists took these ideas from the Gnostics and some think the Gnostics took their ideas from early Kabbalism. However it now appears (read Margaret Barker's The Great Angel) that basic ideas found in Kabbalah, Gnosticism and even Christianity are not examples of outside influence but stem from a much earlier tradition of First Temple Judaism, before the reforms we find in Deuteronomy. These include a kind of trinity of a high God, Jehovah and Jehovah's wife, the Queen of Heaven, also called Chokmah, Wisdom or Sophia in Greek. All three of these were found in the original Temple's Holy of Holies.
The trinitarian nature of Kabbalah's Tree of Life is so striking that medieval scholars upon discovering Kabbalah, thought they could use it to convert Jews to Christianity. While this motive may not have yielded their expected results, Kabbalah did become and remains an important element in Western thought. So much so that there developed a tradition of Christian Cabala as well as a version often called Hermetic Qabalah which became influential in the magical revival of the 19th and early 20th centuries and continues to to this day.
It is the Hermetic tradition of Kabbalah and the Tree of Life, that figures so prominently in orders such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in England, founded in 1888. This order used Kabbalah's Tree of Life as a diagram of the external and internal universe and furthermore used it as a doorway to develop, enlarge and uplift one's consciousness until one was united with ones own divine origin, while still in the body.
And that is also how we are using Kabbalah today in our practice of Gnostic Kabbalah Magic.
My apologies to learned Jewish Kabbalists who might experience discomfort at their incredible tradition being usurped and distorted by people of many other traditions. But you can't expect to keep such good ideas to yourself, especially if you publish them.
MAGIC: the redoubtable Aleister Crowley defined magic (which he spelled magick) as "The science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will". Dion Fortune extended Crowley's definition further as being "The art of causing changes in consciousness in conformity with will".
This ability to make changes in consciousness is where I find magic excels. Many people assume that ritual with candles and incense and liturgy is meant to appease some god or spirit and thus gain its favor or avert its ire, and is superstitious foolishness at best. Of course this may be the case for many, but my experience, as well as the testimony of mystics in many traditions, is that these same activities can be used to deliberately and effectively move one into an awareness and experience of whatever forces are invoked. Thus by calling upon the divine names, by burning candles of a particular color and inhaling the fragrance of the appropriate incense of a particular aspect of the Tree of Life, we can bring ourselves into balance and alignment with those specific forces, as well as stimulate and awaken them within us.
Thus magic is a series of techniques we use to enlarge, expand and raise our awareness of ourselves and our world. And in particular we can thereby investigate and experience on our own the nature and even those higher or deeper realities both inner and outer, we call divine.
CONCLUSION: While this does not require belief in a particular religion nor is barred from those with none, there is a measure of devotion and a recognition of what has traditionally been called the sacred.
The difference between this and many other religious practices is that first: this sacredness is not considered completely separate from but rather an integral part of the individual.
And second: the focus and intention is ultimately to strengthen and liberate the individual, to discover their own gnosis, their own understanding of themselves and their world by a deeper (and I dare say more entertaining and interesting) exploration of their own.
There is a kind of faith in deeper things that people have from the authorities that taught them, which become their beliefs. But then there is the faith that comes from ones own experience and that is not just belief. That is Gnosis.
So please feel free to join us at any time for one or many events. There is nothing to join and no obligation, save that which is called for by your own soul.