Friday, 30 December 2011

Goals, Goals, Goals... Looking for Distractions

 The New year, New You project has just got under way and already I'm struggling. However, the ace up my sleeve to help get over the fact that I'm trying to do everything except this project is that I've already done a bit of reading up on the topic of motivation.

Here is the link again to a GREAT video on drive & motivation

As the video explains, paying someone more money will actually reduce their effectiveness (unless they're doing repetitive “algorithmic” tasks and do not require conceptual thinking). So unless you work in a factory, being paid more money beyond what a person feels is a decent salary is not going to get better results.

Basically what it comes down to is understanding your intrinsically motivates you. Achieving mastery? A feeling of a sense of purpose? Is it intellectual puzzles? The feeling of overcoming seemingly impossible challenges? Physical pleasure? Boosting your ego?

If you understand what internal drives you have – you can think and start to plan on how to channel those. And hey, since you're a witch/wizard/sorcerer/etc you can weave this insight in to your magic to get better results.

For me the following are options on how to channel my drive to make this project a success:

  1. Treat it like a second job. I'm motivated to be good at the (few) things I chose to focus on such as a career. To achieve mastery in a chosen field, the more obscure the better.
  2. Treat it like its a reward. Rather than think of it like a chore, switch around my perception of what is a reward and a chore for a limited time. This requires some re-wiring of established behaviour but that should not be too hard, right?
  3. Just do it! (bulldozer style). This approach means clearing my calendar of any other interests, hobbies, social engagements, sleep, reading projects, etc. It's do-able but it does lead to burn-out.  

Saturday, 24 December 2011

A Lion Has Roared: Match 15

Today's game is the the San Diego Chargers against the Detroit Lions. If the Lions win this, I believe they are through to the play-offs - what ever that may be. If I understand the game correctly it means that the Lions have a chance of winning the Super Bowl which is rather exciting.

What started off as a project that was meant to be a bit of fun has turned me in to a bit of a Detroit Lions fan. For the first time in my life I've bought sports clothing in support of a team. And in preparation for the possibility of winning the Super Bowl, I've created my own version of "ticket" to support the team. In the photo below is my new Detroit Lions sports top and amulet.

The preparations for this match were a bit rushed, but they included the following meditations:
  • Tuning and Toning
  • Basic Abulafia technique
  • Divine Name 
  • Blessing on new clothing (Lions top)
  • Reading part of Amos (ending in Amos 3:8)
  • Bibliomancy**
** - The bibliomancy was about Naomi sending Ruth to get close to Boaz. That incident is a vital chain that led to the birth of King David, hence a very promising sign indeed.

At the time of the writing of this entry, the Lions are leading 7-0 in the first quarter.

EDIT: Final score Detroit Lions vs San Diego Chargers: 38 - 10

Thursday, 22 December 2011

New Year, New You: Prompt 2: Goals as New Projects!

Another prompt from Charmed I’m sure Blog for the ongoing magical transformation experiment. This post comes with 4 questions and recommendations.

1. How are you going to accomplish these large goals in your daily life? You need to start breaking it up into bite sized pieces. Our particular Experiment goes until Valentine's Day. What can you reasonably expect to accomplish by then? How will you do it? 

Projectize, if such a word exists. I’ve discovered that unless I package up a piece of work as a project and publish it on this blog - it just does not get done. Here are the two project summaries based off goals from the response to the original Charmed I’m Sure prompt:
New Project 1:
Scope: Study 4 audio lectures on Sefer Yetzirah and do 2 practical exercises  Time: 1st Jan 2012 to 14th Feb 2012
Cost: None, audio lectures on Sefer Yetzirah already paid for.
Quality: The aim of this mini-project is to gain experiential knowledge of Sefer Yetzirah. In other words - to transform my current theoretical knowledge of the book in to practical knowledge that results in new meditative and practical Kabbalah techniques.
Risks: Don’t have a lot of spare time at the moment. Other risk is that in the past I’ve burnt out after lecture 2 or 3 and got sidetracked by other shiny projects.

New Project 2: 
Scope: Translate 30 pages of Abraham Abulafia’s writing from Hebrew to English.
Time: 1st Jan 2012 to 14th Feb 2012
Cost: None. 3 books already purchased and numerous manuscripts available free online in Hebrew.
Quality: The aim of this project is to get into the practice of translating and comprehending Abulafia’s writing. The challenge comes in choosing which book and how quickly that knowledge can be turned in to exercises (which Abulafia is remarkably good at spelling out himself)
Risks: Hebrew translation skills are quite poor. Also, did I mention my lack of time due to job hunting and having very young children?  

2. What magical acts (rituals, spellwork, whatever it is you do) can you do to help you accomplish this goal?
I love theory, reading, thinking and coming up with clever connections between ideas. The hard part is taking that theory and putting it in to practice. Hence the purpose of the two study projects above is to come up with at least 1 new meditation exercise or practical Kabbalah and make use of them during the projects. The act of doing the magic is generated by the projects is what will help make sure that the projects are a success.

3. Use your preferred method of divination to figure out both what you can do to make sure these goals will happen and also to figure out what road blocks keep you from this. 

Bibliomancy is about the only method of divination that I use. The other method of divination is watching birds in flight. With bibliomancy I can usually work out what the general gist of the hint is, which sometimes feels like being whacked over the head by whichever tome I’m using for bibliomancy. The use of birds in flight as a divinatory technique… well, let’s just say that I’ve yet to come up with anything useful from this approach apart from admiring the beauty of nature.

4. Consult whatever inner or outer spirits you may work with as to what's blocking you from achieving your goals. 

Ah, inner guides! Internal dialogue is my forte, especially during lengthy walks around town. If that does not work, I get an angry phone call from Rabbi Bar-zel Aryeh Tzion who’s criticism is so cutting I have to wear Kevlar and chainmail when we have our infrequent chats.

Outer spirits that I favour are Smirnoff and single Malts from the Scottish Highlands.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Ibbur: Soul Impregnation Mini-Series 5

This is the final installment for the Ibbur mini-series taking a look at the concept of impregnation by a foreign soul for a temporary duration with non-malevolent intent and results. This post draws it's quotes and inspiration from the book: “Between Worlds: Dybbuks, Exorcists, and Early Modern Judaism” by J.H. Chajes. It's a fantastic book, well researched and hopefully I'll review when I've finished reading it.

Extract #1: pp.18
“...Just as certain practices might nullify evil 'ibburim, other practices were designed by Spanish rabbis to cultivate propitious contact with the dead. These venerable practices were designed to bind the practitioner to lowest portion of the tripartite soul of a departed saint, the nefesh. The nefesh was thought to remain in contact with its former body and was thus accessible at the grave...”  
Extract #2: pp.19
”...How is it that an embodied soul can communicate and commingle with the disembodied souls of the deal? And embodiment is indeed taken to be the heart of the problem; course flesh suffices to obscure the refined spiritual form of the dead from the eyes of the living. A metamorphosis of this fleshy garment of the soul is indispensable. So writes Cordovero: “This matter will be apprehended and discovered in the secret of the Garment [levush] prior to Adam and the rest of the worldly existence, before Adam's sin, the secret 'Garment of Light.' For after the sin of the corporealization [of the Garment] as matter, it was said to him, 'you are dust, and shall return to dust.'” The garment of light ('or) fashioned by God for Adam (Gen. 3:21) was created first as light (or). Sin resulted in its corporealization, and with the physicality came opacity and, tragically, perishability. In other words, when Adam was first created, like the dead, he too was formed of a fine, diaphanous body of light, partaking of immortality...”  
Extract #3: pp.21-22
“...In this mystical circle, necromantic techniques such as graveside protestation were not always required to bring about impregnation of the soul of a departed saint into the body of a living counterpart. Elsewhere in his mystical diary, Vital relates that there were times when h heard voices speaking to him, which he did not know with certainty to those of visiting transmigrants. He even suspected the voices to be his own. In doubt, he consulted with a Damascene sorcerer, who in turn summoned a demonic spirit to appear in a looking glass, in order to respond to Vital's query. “He answered me,” writes Vital, “He [the 'ibbur] is the speaker, and not me. For his soul enclothes itself in my heart, and from there he raises the sound of his words to my mouth and he speaks with my mouth, then I hear...”
These to me are amazing insights in to what an ibbur is and why impregnation and communication is possible. Extract 1 shows that the connection is only at a nefesh level and not at the levels of ruah or neshamah. Extract 2 explains nicely how Adam pre-sin was not in the coarse coporeal form that we inhabit now. Rather he had a body of light and the practitioner seeking to achieve a soul impregnation or communication needs to sensitize their body of light with that of the dead. Finally extract 3 blows my mind on the simple basis that Rabbi Chaim Vital collaborated with a sorcerer in Damascus.

Finally in closing my interest in Ibbur has in the past been driven by a desire to be able to communicate with the departed soul of Rabbi Abraham Abulafia. However, since his grave site is unknown it is currently not possible to try the practise of grave protestation as described in this series. None the less the soul of Abulafia was apparently successful in impregnating Philip K. Dick as noted in this blog post by Avi Solomon.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

A Lion Has Roared: Match 14

This post was started near the beginning of the match between the Detroit Lions and the Oakland Raiders. It will be completed after the match as I've got some things to do. None the less I wanted to record that although earlier on today I did not have a good feeling about the match - that has since reversed. Hence I hope and pray for a solid win today for the Lions.

Final score: Detroit Lions 28 - Oakland Raiders 27

Edit (Monday 19 December 2011): Here is the post-match write-up of the preparations done in the run up to the game. Unfortunately time was in very short supply, hence the place-holder update above.

How Not to Do Research
Having read a bit about some injuries in the line-up for the Detroit Lions, I decided that it was time to actually become a bit more familiar with the game of American Football. Hence I rented a film called “The Replacements” and although it did not teach me a whole lot about football, it did make me laugh a lot and reinforced how important it is to win every game between now and the play-offs.

As mentioned in a previous post my bag of tricks is pretty much replenished in terms of using techniques to help the Lions. Since previous experience has shown that going back to previous methods does not always work, I used a bit of bibliomancy and came across a technique described by Rabbi Kaplan in his “Meditation and Kabbalah”.

You Are What You Meditate
The technique in Meditation and Kabbalah described as used by Rabbi Joseph Tzayach (1505-73) looked pretty straightforward… assume the prophetic position (place head between knees) and meditate on Divine Names of power as described on pp.165-166 of Meditation & Kabbalah.

There were two things that I learned from this experience.
  1. To able to bend my body enough to actually assume the prophetic position - I really need to lose weight! 
  2. Something during the procedure made me very uncomfortable and it was not my poor stomach. 
Spiritual Opposition
I felt the presence of something unfriendly and when spider imagery entered my mind, tried to reconcile it by thinking about how Charlie from Fringe survives just fine with spiders in him. Anyway, although the imagery was unpleasant it was not too bad although it did make me quite worried about the game. It also reminded me of having seen an ambulance parked in my street on two occasions in the previous week; adding to my general sense of unease.

Later on I’d planned to give some money to charity and study Jewish law in order to help create a receptacle to channel the blessing from God to help the team. Unfortunately my newborn decided to spill out of her nappies on to my trousers and hence my plans for study were foiled as we were away from home. Then when we got back I realized that my books were left behind on our day trip. Things were looking quite gloomy to me. Not being one to look for or read much in to omens - I none the less felt as though there was some force opposing my efforts and needed to take positive action.

Saved by the Cheque
An hour and a half later, having driven across part of London and back, I got my books and was on my way home to finally do some studying. I took an amulet for success with me for the journey just to be on the safe side, which was fortunate as I had a couple of narrow escapes on the way there. The journey back was thankfully both safe and boring.

Just then I get a call from a man who comes regularly to collect charity for a Kollel (a learning institution for married men). We arranged a time for him to come around and things were beginning to look up. Later that night the man came around. He blessed our newborn, we gave funds for charity and I finally got to do a little bit of studying. It was not much, but perhaps just enough to steal the game with a single point.

Quick summary:
  • Football research – fun but of questionable use. 
  • Use of Divine Names – not sure this worked until I made… 
  • Making room for blessings – perseverance led to study and charity giving happening resulting in success. 
 In closing, here is a link to the song from “The Replacements” (watch from 0:55-2:55) that made me smile most of this week and believe that the Lions could once again pull victory out of the teeth of almost certain defeat. It’s the fourth time this season The Detroit Lions won after trailing 13 points and that makes it an NFL history record.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

New Year, New You: Prompt 1

This post is in response to Prompt 1 of New Year, New You.

  • Space:
    • In my home we are fortunate enough to afford  a clearner who comes on a weekly basis. She’s very good and the only part that I am personally responsible for is my computer desk. Last night I tidied it up of the stacks of books piled high and I will tidy my snail mail inbox tonight.
  • Time:
    • This it a tricky one at the moment especially as we have a recent arrival in my family. I’m going to be more rigorous from today onwards and dedicate Tuesday and Wednesday nights to doing at least some (even just 5 minutes) of esoteric practice in addition to my usual daily prayers and meditation.
  • Rocks:
    • The big rock weighing me down is that I want to do too many things, go in too many directions and only have time for a few of those to invest enough time to have a decent level of success. So I need to park some of my currently planned projects and put them off by either 6 months or a year.

As well as cleaning my space, calendar and some negative thoughts… I’m taking a holistic approach and also cleaning my Body, Mind, and Soul:
  • Body:
    • This is simply making sure that I’m clean-shaven each working day, something I’ve not managed to do as often as I’d like this year.
  • Mind:
    • There are a couple of patterns of thinking that I fall into when stressed, I need to channel these in to more positive avenues and use the energy to do something practical right away instead of procrastinating.
  • Soul:
    • I’ll be doing a 1-day fast at the start of each lunar month, doing a bit of teshiva (return to the Source) and buying my wife flowers.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Interview, Amulet and Taxi Fare Evasion

Today I went for an interview, which was arranged at very short notice. Normally I'd do more preparation but this time that was not possible. Here is what my check-list would have been:
  • Plan:
    • Do in-depth background reading about position, part of the company, person doing the interview. Prepare questions about the role that show background information gathering has been done.
    • Practice answering likely questions, do some educated guesswork about what the focus of the interview will be about. Think of examples of previous work that demonstrates competence, skill and abilities.
  • Do
    • Create amulet for prosperity
    • Turn up to the interview on time, smile, be funny without being overly funny, be enthusiastic, ask intelligent questions and don't stress about any mistakes until after the interview.
  • Check
    • Ask for feedback
    • Check the amulet in two more similar scenarios to see if its success is repeatable or not.
  • Act
    • Adapt. Take the feedback, lessons learnt and experience and do something different and better the next time around!

As it turned out, I had next to no time to prepare for the interview so most of the Planning phase above was skipped. I did manage to quickly scrawl an amulet based off a post by Jacobus Swart's blog that he titled: “Amulet for Success” which I carried in my pocket but had almost no opportunity to meditate over.

Kamea for Success" from the Sefer Razi'el

The other thing that I failed to do was turn up on time. I miscalculated the time it would take to get to the office and ended up running for about a mile. Part way through I jumped in to a taxi, found out that I could only pay by cash and then convinced the taxi driver to let me out without paying a fare after getting stuck in traffic for a minute (turns out there was a traffic jam). After the interview I gave some money to a charity that thetaxi services favour. Perhaps the amulet helped me to avoid paying the fare...

Anyway, I called up HR on the way to let them know I was (literally) running 10 minutes late and it seemed that the interviewer was not too put off by this. The interview went pretty well. I don't expect to hear what the outcome is until the New Year. So this post is really just a reminder of the events and what I have to do yo improve on my performance next time.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

“Ibbur: Soul Impregnation” Mini-Series 4

The past couple of posts about this concept of “soul impregnation” - whereby the soul of a departed righteous person joins temporarily with the soul of a living person in order to aid them or fulfil a commandment together – has contained a numerous quotes.

The reason why this blog has been quoting from various books rather than summarizing the various opinions is to enable you to see the mosaic of ideas and opinions around the idea of departed souls (or parts of souls) attaching themselves to the living.

To add to the mosaic of ideas, here is an extract from “The Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism” by Howard Schwartz. This is an anthology of Jewish myths and hence should not be taken literally. The quote below is from pp.333 “The Myth of Abraham” and is about the change of the Patriarch's name from Abram to Abraham (the addition of the Hebrew letter Heh to his name).

430. Abraham's Name
“...The tradition that Abraham was an astrologer was likely inspired by God's promise to Abraham: “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He added, “So shall your offspring be” (Gen. 15:1-5). Abraham's role as an astrologer is also affirmed by the talmudic tradition that Abraham wore a glowing stone around his neck that he used as an astrolabe to study the stars. See “Abraham's Glowing Stone,” pp.332.
The letter that Abraham receives as a crown to his his soul functions much like an ibbur, the spirit of a departed sage that fuses with the soul of a living person. Here God give Abraham the letter heh, taken from beneath the Throne of Glory, and fuses it with his soul, not only changing his name, but also his soul. Thus the change in his soul is a gift from God, which transforms him into the Patriarch Abraham.
Note that the linkage of this myth with the nullification of the power of astrological forces over a person. This grows out of the tradition that when God gave the Torah to Israel, He removed control of the starts and constellations over them, since the Torah transcends the world. This demonstrates the rabbi's recognition of the widespread belief in astrological forces and their concern that people would put their faith in these forces rather than in the Torah.
B. Bava Batra 16b; Aggadat Bereishit p. 73; Zohar 3:216a, 3:216b, Midrash ha-Ne'elam, Zohar Hadash 24d-25a...”

Monday, 12 December 2011

New Year, New You: Sharpening Magical Focus

Deb has started a thread which has been pretty successful in going viral. It's a call to action, a kick up the backside to get us all out of our armchairs more often and step up our game.

For me 2011 was largely focused on study, presenting one lecture and for the first time in my very new magical career – carrying out a project to do some practical magic on a weekly basis (to support the Detroit Lions American football team).

Next year my plan is to narrow my focus of study to three topics:
  1. Sefer Yetzirah – the Book of Creation. This is the oldest text of Kabbalah. It's an enigmatic text on which many, many commentaries have been written. It's also a practical text used for meditation that as Rabbi Kaplan puts it: “When properly understood, the Sefer Yetzirah becomes the instruction manual for a very special type of meditation meant to strengthen concentration, and to aid the development of telekinetic and telepathic powers.”
  2. Abraham Abulafia – an awesome 13th century Jewish Mystic. He wrote in detail about how to do Jewish meditation and I'm pinning my hopes on translating some of his works so that I can unlock how to use Sefer Yetzirah and at a future date Sefer Raziel.
  3. Developing the Hacker Mentality – Putting my growing magical toolbox of techniques in to practice in the workplace, in my life in general and the world at large. I'm still pondering what this category means in terms of practical steps.
Since variety is the spice of life, I expect to have numerous digressions in to other topics. However, the three topics above are where my passions lies and they are the fuel that will drive my magical growth for the coming year.

Slander, Sefer Yetzirah and Indulgence

In this week's Torah portion (of the Five books of Moses, “Vayeishev” Genesis 37:1 to 40:23) the story is told of Joseph bringing an “evil report” about his brothers to his father Jacob. This takes place in the Biblical narrative in Genesis when Jacob has returned with his 12 sons and 3 wives (Rachel has dies giving birth to Benjamin on the way) to the land of Canaan. This is before Joseph has his dreams and is sold by his brothers in to slavery.

Genesis 37:1-3 (translation and commentary from Sapirstein edition of Artscroll chumash):
“...(1) Jacob settled in the land of his father's sojournings, in the land of Canaan. (2) These are the offspring of Jacob: Joseph, at the age of seventeen years, was a shepherd with his brothers by the flock, and he was a youth with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph would bring evil reports of them to their father. (3) Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons since he was a child of his old age, and he made him a fine woolen tunic...”
The famous Bible commentator Rashi asks the question... how is it possible that the brothers were doing something evil that Joseph could bring a report to their father that slandered them? Also, what was it that they did?

Here is an extract of Rashi's translation about 37:2:
“...EVIL REPORT OF THEM. Any evil which he would see in his brothers the sons of Leah, he would tell to his father, that they would eat a limb which was detached from a living animal, and that they would belittle the sons of the secondary wives – by calling them servants, and that they were suspect of immorality...”
Rashi then goes on to state that Joseph was punished by for each of the three things he gave a bad report about.

The commentary to Rashi, the Sapirstein edition has notes that clarify further what the nature of the animal was that the sons ate without properly slaughtering it and the nature of the female that the sons were supposedly sporting with.
Note 7. pp 413: “...Alternatively, the sons of Leah, by virtue of their states as the sons of the first wife, were privy to the Kabbalistic secrets of Sefer Yetzirah by which they were able to create an animal by supernatural means (see Sanhedrin 56b where amoraim create an animal by such means, and eat it). The prohibition against eating meat detached from a live animal does not apply to such an animal. Joseph saw them eating from it and did not realize that the animal was created supernaturally (Shnei Luchot HaBris, Part 2, Torah SheBiKesav, Parashas Vayeishev)...”
Note 2. pp 414: “...According to Shnei Luchos HaBris cited in the previous two notes, the brothers created a being in the form of a human female through the kabbalistic secrets of Sefer Yetzirah and were walking with it. Joseph thought it was an actual woman...”
Please note that “walking with it” could be a euphemism for having sexual relations. So we can see from the above quote from Genesis, the commentary by Rashi and then further explanation of Rashi - that it appears that the sons of Jacob had created two beings using Sefer Yetzirah. One for eating and the other for sexual relations - and that the normal laws for interacting with an animal or woman do not apply to those created by supernatural means.

I guess that this means that the guys in Weird Science were not breaking any rules.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

A Lion Has Roared: Match 13

Today's match is against the Minnesota Vikings (again). Over the past couple of weeks I've been doing quite a bit of reflecting and deep thinking about why I'm supporting the Lions and what techniques to use.

I support the Lions because they've had a bad track record and I want to help them, that's it. Period. For the past couple of matches I've been trying to send blessings to all of Detroit as well, but I feel as though that is spreading my efforts too thin. If I can help the team a little and the people of the city benefit – that's just great.

As for techniques... I started off using Bible verses and some simple warm up exercises. Kabbalists believe that Divine Names have power and that the whole of the Torah is one long Divine Name. Contained within it are other Divine names, but it is essentially a cryptogram for Kabbalists to figure out how to access the Names that will allow them to experience the Divine in the most immediate way possible.

So rather than use only specific Divine Names, as I've done recently – today's meditation consisted of study of the Torah laws, some Hebrew letter meditation and a Divine Name. I finished off with a simple bit of Bibliomancy by opening the Tanach at a random page and line. It was in Haggai 2:18, part of a paragraph on hope and new beginnings. So hopefully this is a new beginning for the Lions to get back on the right foot from their recent defeats and a new start for me in my understanding of how the world works and my part in it.

Reading the first chapter of “World Mask” by Rabbi Tatz has also helped firm up how I view the world and how I believe that my efforts are potentially having an effect.

The final score of the match was: Detroit Lions 34 - Minnesota Vikings 28

EDIT: by curious coincidence whilst thinking about the strategies to help the Lions during my daily commute -  the same beggar has asked for money on two separate occasions. Actually I've seen him more twice but the last two times I gave him some money and shared a smile. Each time the Lions won their next match. Who knows... perhaps it the act of charity that is having all the effect? The sad part is that each time I see him the beggar looks worse for wear.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

“Ibbur: Soul Impregnation” Mini-Series 3

This section is taken from “The Mystical Experience in Abraham Abulafia” by Prof. Moshe Idel. The extract below is from pages 192-193 in the section “4. The Secret of Impregnation”, part of chapter 4 “Erotic Images for the Ecstatic Experience”.

The secret of impregnation depends upon movements and the Zodiac; for behold, when your soul becomes wise it is impregnated with knowledge and gives rise to insights and wisdom in its thoughts, and the active intellect is her husband, and his name is ishim (i.e., the “people”), and he is her husband. And the vessels prepared for her are letters, which are material, and they fulfill the place of the womb of the woman [in relation to] the soul.
Abulafia attempts to relate the original Talmudic meaning of the term sod-ha-'ibbur (here translated as the “secret of impregnation”) - that is, the calculations necessary in order to determine the additional amount of time to be added to a leap year – to the meaning which he gives the same term. The intercalation of the year is dependent upon calculations pertaining to the movements of the constellations, for which reason sod ha-'ibbur in its literal sense pertains to the realms of time and space. Abulafia adds the soul to these two dimensions, so that we shall arrive at the well-known triad of Sefer Yetzirah, “soul [i.e. man], world and year”(nefesh, olam, shanah).” The connection between the impregnation of the soul and the intercalation of the year and the world lies in the fact that both are connected to calculations: The soul becomes impregnated when it calculates gematriot and combinations, so that it becomes wise and gives birth to “understandings” under the influence of the Active Intellect. It is worth noting that, like calculations of gematriot, the calendrical calculations are performed in Hebrew with the help of letters. The triad mentioned in connection with the intercalation also appears in Ner Elohim:
He who knows the secret of intercalation, which is the secret of year, will [also] know the secret of impregnation ['ibbur] of the world and of the impregnation of the soul. For this reason all the letters are twenty-two [in number], and there is the divine Name there: on one side YHWH and on the other side Ehyeh The names YHWH and Ehyeh add up to gematria to 47, which is the sum of the number of years in the “great cycle” of the sun, 28, and in the lunar cycle, 19.

Monday, 5 December 2011

A Lion Has Roared: Match 12

It's week 13 of the official 2011 NFL Regular Season, today's match is against the New Orleans Saints. Since this match had something of a feel of a spiritual battle to it, I decided not to focus on any links to lions and saints in the Book of Daniel and instead called a contact for help.

“Tet, aleph, aleph,” the strongly accented voice answered once my call had finally connected. “Nu? Please state the nature of your tzoress?”
“Uh, it's me Simon Tomasi.” Although the voice sounded right, I was not sure whom I was talking to or whether he would help. “With whom am I speaking?”
“This is Reb Bar-zel Arieh Tzion speaking. Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Did you say Shimon Tomski? You're dat... what's it you call yourself?”
“A Trainee Golem Builder.”
“Oh yeah,” Rabbi Tzion's laughter was deep and throaty. “How's dat working for you? Build any Golems yet?”
“No,” I took a deep breath to summon up more courage. “Listen Rabbi Bar-zel, I need to ask a favour.”
“Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Are you the shmuck who's just turned my life upside down? Der's a bunch of nefashot bouncing around here all saying dey want to 'play ball' and go the gantze 'nine yards'.”
Now it was turn to be surprised. “Are you saying Rabbi that there are soul sparks by you at the moment. You see I've been doing research on the topic of ibburs and had this idea to invite the souls of departed players from the Hall of Fame...”
“Hey, Shimonele,” Reb Bar-zel said cutting me off with little patience in his tone. “On a scale of genius to stoopid, dis idea much more the latter than the former. Get it?”
“Uh,” I tried to think of some way to salvage my idea without success. “Does this mean that you will not help me with this idea to help the Detroit Lions win against the New Orleans Saints?”
“So what should I do?”
“Meditation and Kabbalah, pages 90 to 91.” He paused as if considering what to say next. Then he hung up.

Final score: Detroit Lions vs. New Orleans Saints: Loss 17 - 31

Thursday, 1 December 2011

“Ibbur: Soul Impregnation” Mini-Series 2

This post on the subject of Ibbur is based on Prof. Gershom Scholem's “On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah”.

Note: If you're looking for a quick answer to the question: what is the difference between a gilgul and an ibbur – the answer is that a gilgul is a reincarnated soul that enters the body at conception and an ibbur is a soul (of a righteous person) that enters after birth and may not stay until death.

Chapter 5 entitled: “Gilgul: The Transmigration of Souls” traces the history of the ideas surrounding reincarnation in esoteric Jewish thought. The chapter begins with the following excerpt:
“The Kabbalists believed in the doctrine of transmigration of souls through various bodies and forms of existence. Was this teaching developed independently, by means of spiritual experiences and states similar to those that produced it in other religions? Or should we assume that the initial impulse toward this teaching originated in an older tradition amongst other groups – although, of course, subsequently developed by Kabbalists in its own way?...”
Scholem then starts by outlining how reincarnation first is hinted at in Sefer Ha-Bahir in south France around 1180. A book called Razza Rabbah (The Great Mystery) has the original text that is later included in the Bahir but it does not refer to transmigration. Nachmanides wrote a commentary on the Book of Job that is entirely based on the idea of transmigration of souls eve though it does not name or explain in detail how it works.

So all in all it remains a mystery to me where the idea first originated. As well as covering such topics as how many new souls are born in each generation, the metaphor of the soul having to be reborn if it was in 'soiled garments' and the idea of chains of incarnations; Scholem then confronts the question about what the difference is between a gilgul and an ibbur:

“...In the original usage of the early Kabbalists, the terms gilgul and ibbur overlapped; diverse explanations were offered as to why the doctrine of transmigration was attached to the concept of “pregnancy” or “impregnation”. Toward the end of the thirteenth century the two terms began to be differentiated, with a special meaning given to the concept of ibbur. Not all migrating souls enter the body at the moment of conception or of birth; sometimes, at special moments during the course of his life, a person receives a second soul that is, so to speak, impregnated within his own soul. This additional soul is not linked to his psychophysical organism from birth nor does it partake in its development, but it can accompany him until his death or may leave him earlier...”
“Only later did they speak of a “bad ibbur” as well, in which the soul of a wicked person entered a living person, who had allowed I to enter by committing some serious transgression...”
“The Kabbalists explained the phenomenon of possession in this way: a wondering soul that has not yet found a body takes control of a person and disrupts or even shatters him. This phenomenon was known thereafter as a dibbuk – a term, incidentally, that never occurs in Kabbalistic literature, but owes its existence to Yiddish fol usage from seventeenth century on, where is appears as a contraction for “an attachment (dibbuk) from the outside forces,” i.e., the evil spirits...”

“...Rabbi David ibn Abi Zimra explains:
I asked on of the sages of the Kabbalah what the difference was between gilgul and ibbur. He replied that the term ibbur (“impregnation”) implies a mystery: just as a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth without lacking anything [of her own being], so too the souls of the righteous and the pious become pregnant and give birth and emanate sparks into this world, to protect the generation or for some other reasons, like one who lights one candle from another, where the first candle is not diminished....”
It's worth reading the whole essay by Scholem if you want to find out more. In particular which parts of the soul (nefesh, ruach, neshama) reincarnate and how the interplay of a person's energy field or supernal aura of soul parts both inside and hovering over the body can attract certain souls that are part of its 'soul family tree'.

Actress Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer") will join Jeffrey Dean Morgan ("Watchmen") in director Ole Bornedal's Ghost House Pictures feature "Dibbuk Box", set to start in Vancouver, January 31, shooting until March 20.

Monday, 28 November 2011

“Ibbur: Soul Impregnation” Mini-Series 1

Jow recently made a comment on this blog that made me to take a slightly deeper look in to what an Ibbur is. Whilst ancestor prayer and offerings are not permitted within Judaism, some do perform rituals to attempt to impregnate their souls with a shard of the soul of a righteous person.

This is the first of four brief posts on this topic looking at a variety of sources.

Here is a link to the Wikipedia entry for Ibbur.

Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis in Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism has the following entry to Ibbur:
Ibbur or Devekut: “Impregnation/Cleaving.” These are generic terms for spiritual possession, usually beneficent, but not always. Also called a maggid, it is related to, but not to be confused with dybbuk. An ibbur coexists inside a living body, which already has a resident soul, usually for a short period of time (Sefer ha-Hezyonot 46; Sha'ar ha-Gilgulim). Some souls of righteous saints are able to do this for the benefit of mankind, either to perform a special task through, or to reveal a vital teaching to, the possessed individual. Sometimes the ibbur does on its own initiative, but more often a worthy mystical seeker deliberately induces possession. To achieve this, a period of purification and preparation is necessary. In some ibbur tales, wearing a “sign of the covenant,” such as tefillin, is a prerequisite to such possession. Usually, there is some kind of ecstatic practice involved. Isaac Luria preferred using an incubation ritual. A few Safed mystics wrote down testimonies of their ibbur possessions. It also marked early Chasidism*.
Goldish, “Spirit Possession in Judaism,” 101-19, 257-304, 404
The term “incubation ritual” is not something that I'm familiar with. Fortunately Rabbi Dennis has an entry for this too in his book:
Incubation: The practice of sleeping, usually in a sacred location, in order to induce divinatory or veridical dream, or for the purpose of communing with a numinous entity... In ancient times, Israelites would sleep in the Tabernacle compound in order to experience a dream revelation from God (1 Samuel 3). Zechariah experienced dream visions, but it is unclear whether he elicited them (Zechariah 4). Apparently some Israelites also used incubation for the purposes of necromancy by sleeping on or at graves. The prophet Isaiah roundly condemns this practice (Isaiah 8:19-22, 19:3)... By the high Middle Ages incubation techniques included the previously illicit practice of sleeping on or about the graves of meritorious dead... Preparatory techniques for incubation include fasting and immersion, the recitation of prayers and psalms, summoning angels, and incantations.
Here is a link to Rabbi Dennis' blog on Dybbuks and another link about Reincarnation.

Film about Dybbuk,
Female lead spends a lot of time in her underwear

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A Lion Has Roared: Match 11

I appear to have lots track of the time in the past week or so and hence did not notice that the Detroit Lions were due to play the Green Bay Packers. Even if I had noticed, at the moment my spare time is almost non-existent due to the very recent birth of our daughter. Anyway, the final score was: Detroit Lions 15 - Green Bay Packers 27.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Dangers of the Mystic Experience

This is another extract from a recent talk on Early Jewish mysticism. This particlar extract is based on Chapter 6 of “The Ancient Jewish Mysticism” by Joseph Dan.

The story (in Babylonian Talmud Hagigah 14b, Jerusalem Talmud Hagigah 2:1) speaks of the four rabbis who entered PARDES (Persian for Orchard). The story is about the heavenly ascent of four leading Rabbis and their fates. Rabbi Akiva ascended, descended and survived. Ben Azzai looked and died, Ben Zoma looked and went mad, and Acher (previously known as Elisha Ben Abuya looked and became a heretic.

Harm Caused by Angelic Songs
Let's look at an example of a warning in Hekhalot Rabbati (Greater Palaces):
“The bearers of His glory – the Cherubs and Ofanim and the Holy Hayot – sing before Him in six voices, each voice better than the other and different from the one preceding it. With the first voice – whoever hears it immediately becomes insane. With the second voice – whoever hears it immediately becomes lost and never returns. With the third voice – whoever hears it is seized by convulsions and dies immediately. With the fourth voice – whoever hears it his skull is broken immediately and most of his ribs uprooted. With the fifth voice – whoever hears it is immediately spilled like a flagon, and turns entirely into blood. With the sixth voice – whoever hears it is immediatelyseized by a stabbing in the heart; his heart makes a noise and turns his bowels upside down, turning his innards in to water, as it states “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts,” etc. Rabbi Ishmael said: “All these songs are heard by Rabbi Akiva when he descended to the Chariot and he seized and learned them before the Throne of Glory, where His servants would sing to Him” (Schafer 'Synopse Zur Hekhalot', sections 103-104)”
This is linked to the Talmud story about the Pardes in the following way (according to Joseph Dan):

  • Rabbi Akiva went in and came out unharmed, he was able to incorporate his experiences both physciall and mentally.
  • Ben Zoma looked and went mad→ this is reference to "With the first voice – whoever hears it immediately becomes insane". He was unable to mentally reconcile what he had experienced and the psychic shock left him mentally unbalanced.
  • Acher looked and became a heretic → this is reference to "With the second voice – whoever hears it immediately becomes lost and never returns". He was also unable to reconcile his experiences came to the conclusion that there were two Powers, that the angel Metatron and God were of equal standing.
  • Ben Azzai looked and died → this in reference to "With the third voice – whoever hears it is seized by convulsions and dies immediately." He was unable to reconcile his experiences either physically or mentally. Although he had achieved a phenomenal level, he died without having a family of his own and some comment that he did not have enough of a reason to return from his Heavenly ascent back down to Earth. This is one of the reasons why some Jewish mystics make an oath that they will return.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

A Lion Has Roared: Match 10

Despite having planned to make use of a lengthy Kabbalistic Divine Name of Power - instead I've found myself awake for the past 37 hours and ecstatic about the new addition to my family.

Instead of going through every vowel and letter permutation of the name YHVH as planned - I did a brief "tuning and toning" exercise followed by a heartfelt please to the Almighty that the Lions be victorious in this match against the Panthers.

Sometimes the answer is "no", but unless you ask - you're not going to get a "yes". I'll check tomorrow what the outcome of my request was.

Edit: The answer was "yes". Final score: Detroit Lions 49 - Carolina Panthers 35. A panther may be able to take on a lion, but when a lion pack works together they make a powerful force indeed.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Focus Board To Discard or Not To Discard?

Inspired by a recent post from Jow at A Mage’s blog, I decided to draft up a list of characters who inspire me and which do not quite make the grade.

At first I was struggling just with what the definition of a focus board would be, until I settled on the following test… Would I ever ask the question: “What would [insert name] do in this situation?”

For example, “What would the Dread Pirate Roberts do in this situation?”. Anyway, here is the focus board. I’m still in the process of voting a few off and replacing them with those who can help provide me with a sharper focus.

1. Hellboy

He’s a kick-ass hero with a lot of will and raw potential. He’s loyal to his friends and willing to enter the land of the dead to bring them back. Hellboy is also a great example (albeit of a fictional variety) that it is possible to overcome one’s nature.

Then again he acts too often on impulse and is able to get through due to his demonic attributes of resilience and a almost unbreakable arm. So whilst he’s a fun hero to emulate, he’s difficult to copy or emulate. Hence Hellboy ends up on the Discard pile.

2. The Maharal of Prague

Rabbi Judah Loew was great scholar and leader of his generation. He’s remembered for creating a golem although it is questionable whether he actually did so or not. His commentaries on Jewish law are still studied today and his influence lives on.

Assuming that the Prague golems legens are true… The reason for building the golem was to protect the Jewish community against blood libels. The Maharal created it out of necessity. Whilst I admire his achievements, I don’t believe that I can ever get near his abilities as a leader, scholar, or golem builder. The Maharal for the moment moves to the discard pile, as I need to study his works to better copy his example.

3. Graham Marshal

This is a character from the film “A Shock to the System” about a man who is overlooked for promotion and resorts to murder to advance himself in the company. I admire his desire to move up the corporate ladder, something that I’ve not put enough time or energy in to and hence have remained a relatively low level project manager. However, murder is not the way in which I believe it is right to achieve career progression. Graham Marshall ends up the discard pile because he is a murderous bastard, but the film was entertaining enough to get me to think about what I can do within my moral/ethical framework to advance in corporate life.

4. Professor James Moriarty

I had thought to include Sherlock Holmes due to his incredible ability to notice details, spot patterns, and his genius. But he got rejected quickly due to his obsessive-compulsiveness and heroin addiction. Instead I settled on Moriarty for two reasons: 1. he is the Napoleon of Crime, brilliant at planning and execution, 2. He’s good enough at this to give Sherlock Holmes a run for his money.

On the other hand, the whole criminal genius does mean that his moral outlook is questionable to say the least. This means that ultimately Moriarty has to be discarded as he’s just too evil.

5. Abraham Abulafia

Born in 1240 and died (approx) 1291, Abraham Abulafia was an iterant scholar and Kabbalist who travelled around Spain, Italy, and Sicily. He taught a method of meditation referred to as Ecstatic or Prophetic Kabbalah and wrote down in detil the techniques that he used.

However, he ‘rocked the boat’ so to speak and was excommunicated by the leading rabbi in Spain. His writing survived the centuries and was brought back in to prominence in Safed schools as well as in modern day.

Abulafia did have a bit of a Messiah complex though, although I do not quite believe that he thought he was THE Messiah. Rather he was trying to get everyone to achieve their innate potential of living with Divine consciousness as it was in the Garden of Eden. In his travels he tried to convert the Pope and was saved from being burnt at the stake when the Pope died suddenly.

Abulafia should be on the discard pile due to his Messianism, but I can’t quite bring myself to move him off the list. Abulafia stays simply because he wrote so much down and has been an inspiration ever since I find came across him in a book by Prof. Gershom Scholem.

Monday, 14 November 2011

A Lion Has Roared: Match 9

For match 8 I decide to change my approach to helping the Detroit Lions win their matches. Instead of various meditation techniques, prayers and studying – I used a single method.

This method was using the 216-letter Name. It’s also known as the 72 letter name although it’s actually made up of 72 triplets of letters. Abraham Abulafia describes how the name should be used and Avi Solomon has translated the relevant texts in his succinct book.

For match 8 it worked. For match 9 it did not, in part because I was very tired when I tried to use it and hence may have made an error.

Last weekend I spent over a day with a loved one in hospital in what turned out not to be a serious issue. However, the experience made me question the use of this Divine Name for helping to win a football match. Hence in the future I will be relaying on other techniques.

Final Score: Detroit Lions 13 – Chicago Bears 37

Friday, 11 November 2011

Prayer as Ascent through the Four Worlds

Here are some of my scribb notes notes from the lecture on Heavenly ascent and angel adjuration in (early) Jewish ritual practice. This particular part refers to how the concepts are used in prayer to this day and are taken in part from "Walking in the Fire" by Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok:

  • Daily prayer is structured to reflect the ascent of the practitioner through four “worlds”.
  • Staring off in “Assiyah” the realm of action. The prayers in this part are mainly about blessings for physical things and reciting sections of Oral Law related to sacrifices in the temple.
  • The next world is “Yetzirah” - the realm of emotion. These prayers are focused around selected Psalms. Yetzirah means creation of something from something.
  • Then the practitioner ascends to “Beriah” - the world of mind. Here the prayer is all about the declaration of faith “Listen Israel, G-d your Lord, G-d is One”. Beriah is the word meaning creation of something from nothing.
  • Finally the practitioner reaches “Atzilut” - the realm of spirit. This is a realm of emanation and not considered to be separated from the Ayn Sof or Ohr Ayn Sof in the way that Tzimtzum (Divine contractions) separate the lower worlds.
  • Prayer is meant to be reflective rather than a give-me, give-me exercise. It's supposed to motivate us to change our actions, feelings and thoughts.
  • At each level or world in prayer we elevate the fallen sparks of that world. Visualization of specific Divine names is the way in which a person elevates those sparks
If you are unfamiliar with the concept of 4 worlds in Kabbalistic thought and would like an introduction, I recommend reading "The Thirteen Petaled Rose" by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Project Update: Path of Dots, Fireflies and Galaxies

It’s been awhile since my last project update post. This is in part due there not being many ongoing projects and in part to moving away from posting about Project Management. I’ve set-up another blog in which Project Management as a life skill is discussed. This blog will remain focused on Jewish magic, mysticism, rituals and esoteric research & practice in general.

Gordon over at Rune Soup recently posted about “Anatomy of A Firefly” and one bit in particular struck a chord with me:

“This is why I put practical enchantment on equal -and oftentimes higher- footing than classical theurgy. Because every time you demonstrate to yourself that magic works in the world your universe gets bigger. A new oddly-shaped puzzle piece materialises above the box and clatters down onto the others.

Each time your silly little luck spell increases your good fortune, each time your card reading shows up the family member that is turning toxic behind your back, each time the money spell gets you promoted it’s like discovering that Giza’s coordinates are just fucking weird.”

Practice vs. Study
A year ago my practice time compared to research time was about 10% to 90%. The practice was a bit of daily meditation to get used to certain techniques but not to influence the world around me. Perhaps heeding the cautions a little too strongly, I was starting to take some baby steps.

Recently I started a project to support the Detroit Lions and it’s provided a great opportunity for trying out some new techniques. Last week I tried a single technique, rather than a combination. It worked much better than expected. My understanding of the use of Divine names jumped as well and as Gordon describes in his post “my universe got bigger, much bigger”.

Dots and Galaxies
Looking back at last year, my Project Management career was entering a stormy phase with job cuts looming. I went for a couple of job interviews and thought I’d got one, but it fell through last minute hence I had to take the offer from my existing company.

Fast forward a year and I’m working at the company that I interviewed for and got rejected from. I prayed to get a job in that company but the way in which it manifest was that my entire business unit was moved across. Over 2000 staff all transferred to the new company, with impacts to the wider industry.

On the one hand I could read in to that it was just a happy coincidence. On the other hand I could read it as: “my prayers worked better than expected, just not in the way that I expected”. Only by looking back on this now can I see the pattern and again my universe got bigger, much bigger.

By plotting a course for my Project Management career and linking that up with my magical career, I can now see how to transform the path of dots to a path in which every dot is a galaxy. Each one is an opportunity to experiment, grow, practice and reflect.

Perhaps this post should be re-labeled to: “The Birth of a Corporate Wizard”...

Friday, 4 November 2011

Lecture Handout 02 November 2011

Here is the (mostly) spell-checked and updated lecture hand-out from 2nd November 2011 on “Early Jewish Mysticism: Descent to the Chariot and Angelic Adjuration” at Treadwells Bookshop.

The questions at the end of the lecture were fantastic, which makes presenting the lecture so much fun. I think of it less of cross-examining my knowledge - than an opportunity for helping me connect dots I would not have otherwise, exchanging ideas and a test to see how well/badly I’ve managed to summarize my research of 2000 pages of academic works and books on Kabbalah.

Based on the review by Medieval Mystics blog, I think that the lecture on “Early Jewish Mysticism: Descent to the Chariot and Angelic Adjuration” went pretty well.

Next public lecture will have to wait until at least later in 2012. I’ve got a ton of research and project lined up that I’d like to do next.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

This is not a Review: Wellcome Exhibitions: Charmed Life and Henry Wellcome

Inspired by a recent posting by Ananael Qaa over at his Augoeis blog, I decided to take a slightly extended lunch break and visit the Wellcome trust exhibitions for the first time.

The first exhibition that I visited was about Amulets and Talismans. The formal title of which is: “Charmed Life: The Solace of Objects” by Felicity Powell (6th October 2011-26 February 2012)

Although there were some interesting bits and pieces, nothing really caught my attention for long.

So figuring that I’d spent a fair bit of time travelling to Euston, I should at least visit another exhibition and decided to look at the permanent exhibition: Medicine Man. I’m struggling to put in to words just how eclectic and strange the collection was, so instead I’ll quote the official blurb:
“Henry Wellcome was a man of many parts: entrepreneur, philanthropist, patron of science and pioneer of aerial photography. He also created one of the world’s great museums: a vast stockpile of evidence about our universal interest in health and the body.

More than 150 years after his birth in 1853, this exhibition reunites a cross-section of extraordinary objects from his collection, ranging from diagnostic dolls to Japanese sex aids, and from Napoleon’s toothbrush to George III’s hair. It also provides a very different perspective on some of our own obsessions with medicine and health…”

After coming across an early dentistry chair and an actual torture chair (there were more blades on the latter) I then came across Florence Nightingale’s shoes. Then turning the corner I was confronted by this:

The inscription with the exhibit was as follows:

Mummified male body
Chimu people, Peru, c. 1200-1400
This naturally preserved mummy is from the north coast of Peru, where Chimu culture buried their dead in ‘mummy bundles’. The body would have been seated in an upright position (with the knees at the face). The body was then wrapped in layer of fabric and a false head attached to the bundle. It was then buried with personal possessions, ritual objects and food offerings, revealing a strong belief in a continuing existence after death.

It seemed to me that he was not to happy with being put on display- but mummys don’t always get what they want in the afterlife. Just as I was about to go I found what had drawn me the exhibit, a Hebrew inscription artifact.

Unfortunately this was the best photo I managed to take, as my lurking around this one exhibit for a long period of time was beginning to attract the attention of the staff. I once had a guard follow me around half the British Museum, so perhaps there’s something about my behaviour that sets of mental alarms in museum staff.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

A Lion Has Roared: Match 8

The Detroit Lions are playing the Devner Broncos. Since the Lions lost their previous two games I realised that the approach used until now is no longer working.

So instead of refining it, I tried something different. It's a risky procedure and will either do really well or go the other way. If it works, I'll detail it in a couple of weeks.

My apologies for the lack of explanation of technique(s) used. As indicated by the earlier post about First Light, Second light; the first few victories of the Lions were a gift - now the hard work starts to recreate such victories in the future. I want to give it the best chance of success by trying the new technique without a big fanfare, sound and lights.

Edit: Final score Detroit Lions 45 - Denver Broncos 10.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Noah's Ark passanger list

Whilst doing daily study for my Hebrew Immersion project, I came across the following commentary by Rashi on whom Noah took into the Ark:

In case you cannot read it, this verse in Genesis (6:19) reads:
"And from every living thing, from all flesh, you must bring two of everything into the ark, to keep alive with you; they must be male and female."
Rashi comments on verse 19:
"And from every living thing" - Even demons (Bereishit Rabbah 31:13)
The commentary in The Sapirstein Edition of Genesis has the following comment on Rashi's statement:
Bereishis Rabbah 31:13. The verse could have said "and from all flesh" without mentioning "all that lives," and we would have understood that God commanded Noah to bring all species of animals to the ark. "And from all that lives, of all flesh" indicates that God commanded Noah to bring to the ark something that lived which was not of flesh, as well. This refers to demon, who have life, but no body (Mizrachi; Sifrei Chachamim).
For some further reading on demons, I recommend the following blog postings by Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis and his excellent book: The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism.
One thing that I would like to highlight is that there is a spectrum of opinion about whether demons (and angels) are real or not. On the extreme of the rationalist camp is Maimonides (who states that demons are not real) and on the other extreme is Nahmanides (who says that they are).

    Tuesday, 25 October 2011

    First Light, Second Light

    A couple of years ago I attended a talk by Rabbi Tatz in which he mentioned the concept of first light versus second light.

    He talked about the light on the first day of Creation and then the creation of the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day. He talked about the first tablets given to Moses and the second he had to carve for himself.

    The theme being that the first light is stronger and is a gift from G-d. The second light is weaker and one that we have to work for ourselves.

    Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan explains the idea further in Inner Space, pp208 note 26.

    “The light with which one can see from one end of the universe to the other is also the light that Adam saw in the Garden of Eden and which will be made available to the righteous in the World to Come; Chagigah 12a; Zohar 1:45b, 2:148b; cf. Rashi on Genesis 1:4; Berakhoth 17a; Likutey Halakhoth, Tefilling 5:1”.

    By experiencing something the first time without much effort, you can’t then say “I’ll never achieve that” because you have already done it once. Sure the second and further times require a lot more effort but that is the way that the world is structured. Understanding the patterns in Creation is the first step to improving your life and the world around you.

    Sunday, 23 October 2011

    A Lion Has Roared: Match 7

    This week the game is against the Atlanta Falcons. Last match was not great, hence I did a lessons learned exercise. Two things that I forgot to mention were:

    1. Although I mentioned giving charity in the past, I failed to do so after that posting. This has not been rectified.
    2. I came close to breaking a vow that could have affected my meditation and influence on the Lions. I've strengthened my resolve and will channel energies away from activities that weaken my resolve concerning the vow.
    Anyway, rather than do an elaborate analysis of the name of the opposing - this week I stuck to what worked previously:

    • Preparation meditation followed by Toning and Tuning from Book of Self Creation
    • Two simple meditation techniques using Hebrew aleph-bet
    • Angel Meditation (Creating harmony between the four elements) from Eye to the Infinite
    • Psalms and selected verses from Scripture about lions
    Final score: Atlanta Falcons 23 - Detroit Lions 16

      Wednesday, 19 October 2011

      Fear of Thoughtforms

      I’m posting 3 posts today as it is the last part of the Sukkoth Festival starts tonight. This post should be taken with a pinch of salt, tongue in cheek, in other words not entirely seriously. Some of the content is very serious – you decide.


      When asked recently what I’m afraid of I answered: “Crocodiles… oh and thought forms”

      “Thoughtforms”, came the puzzled response. “What are those?”

      Well… rather than explain what a thoughform is, here is the Wikipedia version:

      A thoughtform is a manifestation of mental energy, also known as a tulpa in Tibetan mysticism.[1] Its concept is related to the Western philosophy and practice of magic.[2]

      I recommend this book (as one of the few books I’ve read in this area):

      Creating Magickal Entities: A Complete Guide to Entity Creation” by David Michael Cunningham, Taylor Ellwood, T. Amanda R. Wagener.

      Vampiric thoughforms

      A few years ago I tried creating a thoughtform. I gave it a form, a name and a purpose. The purpose of the thoughtform was to enhance healing rates. It then proceeded to make me ill very quickly to the extent that I spent the next couple of days systematically taking it apart.

      After that experience I decided not to create any more thoughtforms. The other effect of this experience was that I stopped writing fiction.

      Which brings me around to the initial conversation in which I mentioned fear of thoughtforms; it was only at that point that I made the connection between my fear and lack of creative output in terms of fiction.

      Digging into it a bit further I found that in the past I’ve often thought of situations to build a story around. Think of it like setting up a stage for a show with propos, scenes and a general context within which the story will unfold. Then as I write the story the character come to life and often the story takes turns that I had not anticipated at the start.

      Sounds great? Well when it works I have found the results very entertaining (as have some of the few people I’ve shared my fiction with). But now I realize that although characters in fiction are (probably) not thoughtforms, I’ve unconsciously shied away from writing more fiction for fear that they’ll come alive in some way and interact with my life in a negative manner.

      To overcome this fear I’ve decided that after two major upcoming events (lecture and addition to the family) I should get back in to writing. Perhaps I’ll write about thoughtforms and crocodiles! If you are inclined to have me waste more of your life by publishing a story or two, please be patient until the start f next year.