The Cabalists

By Anders Sandberg Version 2.0

The Cabalists are one of the oldest and most influential subgroups in the whole Order of Hermes. Their symbolism and methods is the backbone of modern Western hermeticism. For example, the Seal of Solomon is of Cabalistic origin, as is much of the symbols used in the Circle.

Origin and History
The Cabala is of Jewish origin, and seems to have roots in the magick of the tribes of the middle east, combined with Egyptian and chaldean magick. According to some Cabalists the tradition was received by Moses on Sinai directly from God, but this is unsubstantiated. The oldest Cabala is known as the Merkabah mysticism, or Hechalot (Which means "ascent"). The Merkabah was the name of the throne of God in Hebrew, and the aim of the Merkabah Mystics was to be able to see God upon his Throne. Little is known about this school outside the Order of Hermes and Celestial Chorus. The mystics contemplated the early chapters of Genesis and the Vision of Ezekiel. To perform the ascent the mystic had to pass through the seven palaces of heaven, giving the correct words, talismans and signs to the guardians. The Merkabah mystics were quite obviously influenced by the Celestial Chorus. During the earliest centuries of the Common Era the Cabala used today began to evolve. The books "Sepher Yetzirah" ("The Book of Formation") and "Bahir" were written. Greek magick and philosophy influenced the Cabalists. They began to interact with the Order of Hermes and the Gnostics, a group of mages in the Celestial Chorus. During the rise of Christianity the Gnostics were purged by the Chorus and branded heretics. Many joined

the Order of Hermes and the Cabalists. This may have been one of the reasons the two traditions fought each other later in the middle ages. The Cabalists had become an integral part of the Order, but had little influence. They were spread out across Europe, in isolated ethnic groups. Then the Order began the experiment with the false Order of Hermes. Most subgroups in the Order joined forces and began to work together on the great plan. But the Cabalists refused, explaining that they thought the plan was doomed to fail. The rest ignored them and went along with their fateful plan. After the Failure the Order was on the brink of dissolution. Many of the subgroups, like the Goetic mages, were discredited and dissolved. Many mages left the Order completely. The Cabalists, who had persistently warned the others, suddenly appeared to the disenchanted hermetics as the saviours of the Order. Many non- Jewish mages joined the Cabalists. Suddenly the Cabalists were one of the most influential groups inside the order. Many mages became Cabalists and retreated from the world into Cabalistic study. This lead to a renaissance for Cabala. In the fourteenth century Moses de Leon wrote Zohar ("The Radiance"), one of the central texts of Cabala. Other hermetic mages developed their own ideas, using cabalistic symbolism and theories. Cabala became one of the cornerstones of the Order, a position it still occupies. Cabala expanded and began to dilute, and lost much of its Jewish origins. At the same time the Cabala was discredited among many Jews after the appearance of a false messiah who actively supported the Cabalists. New groups emerged from the Order, like the Enochians and Rosicrucians, who based much of their magick on the Cabala. The Order of Hermes continued forward, and the Cabalists influence began to wane. It began to return to its roots, and became more Jewish again. At the same time Cabalistic methods, ideas and symbols had become mainstream in the Order. It is often required training for an initiate in the order to understand some of the Cabala. Today the Cabalists are an small subgroup, but held in great respect by most hermetics. They still exert a noticeable influence on the theories of the Order. There are many types of Cabalists, ranging form ultra orthodox Jews to secular mages happily mixing Cabala, Enochiana and Goetia and performing Gematria on computers.

Links to Other Groups
Cabalists have often had ties to the Celestial Chorus, and have influenced their thought too. In fact, some Cabalists think of themselves more as members of the Chorus than the Order. The Cabalists are the strongest link between the Traditions, and often employed as diplomats and envoys. There are however a small group inside the Chorus who actively work against the Cabalists, perhaps due to their ethnic origin or even their old involvement with the Gnostics (which now partly have returned to the Chorus to complicate matters further).

The Cabalists are conservative hermetics, which mean they do not meddle in the affairs of mortals. The point out that every time mages have done this, the end result have been disaster. Instead mages should spend their time in study, and work to understand magick before imposing their ideas on humanity. Most mages have only half an idea of what they are going to accomplish, and tend to become corrupted when confronted with the mundane world. The Ahl-I-Batin and Cabalists have had many contacts, and share much of their basic philosophy. There is no sharp dividing line between the Batin and the Cabalists, and nobody tries to draw any. However, most Cabalists dislike the meddling in mortal affairs of some Batin groups, pointing out what happened in Europe last time. The Cabalists are not very interested in war with the Technomancers. They have a long history of stoically surviving attacks from sleepers, mages and the technomancers. Instead of fighting, they try to avoid the enemy and wait. Patience is their weapon, as they know that whatever may happen, it will not last forever. This may be their greatest mistake.

The Cabala
In the Cabalistic world view, everything is symbolic for something else, and the world is filled with subtle connections. Even the most trivial text or thing hides deep secrets. Using this knowledge the Cabalists hope to understand the universe fully. God created the universe by allowing some of his quintessence to flow down, transmutating into the materiel universe. The goal for many Cabalists is to understand this process, the universe and the way back to God. The idea of God in Cabalism is quite complex, and not necessarily religious in character. God has many names with different powers ruling over hierarchies of angels, but is also a completely abstract entity. Many Cabalists say that it is impossible to say anything about the nature of God, except possibly what things God isn't. The most important symbol in Cabala today is the Sephirothic Tree, a diagram consisting of ten spheres ("Sephiroth") and 22 paths joining them. This is a kind of blueprint for the universe, showing how the quintessence flows down into the material world through different levels. Each sephiroth represents one type of existence. The lowest. Malkuth, the Kingdom, represent the material world. The highest, Keter, the Crown, is the source of the unmanifest quintessence. Between these there are sephiroth representing for example Force, Form, Intelligence and Balance. Each sephiroth corresponds to a number, a colour, different names of God and other symbols. The 22 paths correspond to the 22 letters in Hebrew and the Major Arcana of the Tarot. The system has many similarities to the enochian theory. The Tree does not only represent the creation, it also represents the human mind. Each sephiroth correspond to a part of the mind or soul. Using this knowledge, a Cabalist may use his magick to transfer energy from one sephiroth to another to change himself or the

world around him. For example, a mage wishes to temporarily increase his speed of thought. He invokes Hod (Splendour, intellectual clarity), using the number 8, the colour Orange, Mercury, Cinnamon and the names for the angels of Hod. If he had wished to become stronger he would have invoked Geburah (mental strength) or Malkuth (physical strength). Another important part of Cabala is the esoteric study of holy texts. A text often contains subtle secrets, which can be revealed by the mage. Gematria consists of calculating the number of a word by giving each letter a value (for example A=1, B=2 and so on) and adding this together. This number represents the word, and words that have the same number have some connection. For example in Hebrew, AChD (Unity)=13=AHBH (Love). And 13+13=26=YHVH, the unspeakable name of God. Other ways of finding the secrets in a text is to read only the first letter in every word, or every 50th letter. In Notarikon, the mage creates acronyms for sentences, or try to find the sentences hidden in acronyms. Temura mixes the letters according to some rules, like A becomes B, B C, and so on (Avgad) or Aiq Bekr, in which the letters are divided into nine equivalence classes and exchanged inside these classes. This numerology and word magick is often used in constructing talismans and words of power, and to hide secrets inside seemingly innocuous texts. Cabalistic Magick is often ceremonial like the Enochian system, and often more directed toward enlightenment and the acquisition of knowledge than practical matters. Many Cabalists spend more time studying than performing magick. Still, the Cabalists have shown competence in creating useful talismans and defences against spirits and malign forces. Cabalistic talismans are often pieces of parchment inscribed with symbols, names and ciphers. They are often worn as an amulet around the neck. They seldom have direct, obvious effects like talismans of other traditions. Instead they often help the mage perform his magick (for example by lowering target numbers) or protect him. The Cabalists are well known for their talismans against evil spirits. Typical examples of talismans are talismans of health, which help the bearer to recover, talismans of Hod, which make the bearer quicker, more businessminded and more intellectual and talismans of Michael, giving the bearer protection against evil forces. Cabalists are very interested in spirits and their realms. Most common is simple scrying into the Umbra, but some Cabalists actually travel through it. They are very interested in the relation of the Celestines to each other and the world, and try to collect as much information as possible about the geography of the Umbra. Another area of research are evil or disharmonious spirits and realms known as the Qlippoth, or "shells". They are thought to be leftovers or flawed parts of the creation, which have not yet been recycled. Cabalists often use hierarchies of angels, somewhat like the Enochians. The holy names of God are used to call upon angels and spirits of different levels. There are angels associated with the sephiroth, the paths and different material phenomena. To accurately

understand and remember the angelic hierarchy is one of the most important steps in learning Cabala. Instead of using the common nine spheres, some Cabalists use the sephiroth as spheres instead. This means that sephirothic magick concentrate on the desired result, not on the exact way of achieve it. A normal mage will heal someone by using the sphere of life to repair the patients damaged pattern. A Cabalist in the same situation would call upon the forces of mercy and health (Chochma and Tiphareth) and allow them to heal the patient in the best way. If the magick work correctly, both methods will lead to the same result. Cabalists tend to excel at static magick in their daily lives, and use dynamic magick only in their temples.

As above, so below. The universe is filled with connections, both subtle and obvious. Everything, how small or trivial it may seem, has some hidden significance. The forces which rule the Macrocosm are like the forces which rule the Microcosm of man. Study these subtle secrets, which are revealed in the holy texts and the dance of the letters. We will find out way upwards in the Tree, towards Keter and the divine brilliance behind the Three Veils. But we will not follow the way of the Staff, the path of the Mystic. Instead we will follow the way of the Serpent, the path of the Mage, balancing the forces of the universe as we progresses. Along the way we must help other seekers to find their paths, even if they are not parallel to ours. Beware the Qlippoth, for they will weight you down and drag you down into the matter. Mankind has its place in the world and a part in the great plan. But we mustn't interfere with this, as our destiny is not the same as the destiny of humanity.

Organisation and Meetings
Very informal, if any at all. Cabalists are often solitary, and meet in informal ways to discuss their latest theories and ideas. Many Cabalists communicate only by mail (or using magick).

The Cabalists seldom have one obvious initiation, mentors preferring to guide their initiate slowly through several years of study. The mentor often begin by giving the initiate texts to translate and analyse, then continues with more and more complex problems in gematria and symbolism. The initiate slowly understand more and more, until he suddenly gain insight in the interconnectedness of the universe. Often the initiate swears an oath afterwards, affirming his determination to the study of magick.

The Cabalists have few chantries, but the most important lies in Prague. This chantry houses the second largest library in the whole Order (The largest is probably Cordoba). This library contains many extremely rare tomes, in every conceivable language. Especially books from the middle east are very well represented. Many mages from other traditions visit the Library.

Pious Jews, Scholars, Artists

Spirit or Forces. Many Cabalists study Mind and Prime with great zeal. Matter and Entropy is regarded as a bit dangerous, and study is sometimes discouraged by other Cabalists. Still, many Cabalists have had important insights in the structures of Matter and the role of Entropy.

Cabalists almost always use the conventional foci of Order of Hermes, mostly because it was they who defined them. When using sephirothic magick they prefer to have things around them associated to the sephiroth used. A mage using Geburah would draw pentagrams, wear red clothes, wield an iron sword and burn irritating incense. It is not necessary, but many mages claim it makes the magick easier. Often only some symbol for the sephiroth used is needed, like an iron knife for Geburah or a golden ring for Tiphareth. Language: Almost always Hebrew, but unorthodox Cabalists use Latin, enochian or other languages. Circle: Tend to be inscribed with Hebrew names of angels, powers and the secret names of God. Often housed in a consecrated room or temple. Seal of Solomon, Showstone: Conventional.

Rabbi, Wise old Man, Surreal Author.


"Contemplate the secret meaning of the Seal of Solomon. The lower triangle is the symbol of fire, and the upper triangle the symbol of water. Water and Fire. The Star of David show two opposites balancing each other in perfect harmony, creating something greater than its parts. It is a fitting symbol for the Macrocosm. Notice it has six rays, showing that it represent Tiphareth. If you put it on the Tree, its rays will point at the planets, with the Sun at its centre. It is a most powerful symbol of balance."

Ahl-I-Batin We are so alike, yet they do not realize the danger of overly meddling in mortal affairs. Have they not learned at least from their own mistakes? Akashic Brotherhood They understand much, but unfortunately only on an intuitive level. Their intuition serve them well, but they will not be able to go further until they understand what they feel. Celestial Chorus Our brothers and sisters. They have indeed seen the light. We feel sorry for them in their fall, but perhaps it was necessary for them to experience humility. We sincerely hope that they will rise again. The world needs them. Cult of Ecstasy Spending their lives in the sphere of sensation, without any thought of tomorrow. Pitiful, and ultimately doomed. If they do not rise above the lower planes, they will fall prey to Qlippoth of their own creation. Dreamspeakers These mages worship Malkuth, the daughter of God. They seek to restore the balance, to reunite her with her husband in Tiphareth. Unfortunately their magick is primitive and too bound to the lower planes to be of any use. Enochians Strange mages. They have indeed found something, or is it something that has found them? Euthanatos Perhaps this Tradition have understood the Abyss of Daath better than any others. But they have not crossed it yet. If they manage to do that, they will become something never seen before. Hollow Ones Strange children. We do not understand them. Order of Hermes Our brethren have taught us much, and they have learned much from us. But have they really understood what we have said? Rosicrucians They haven't learned anything from the great Failure. They try to repeat it again, this time using some of our magick too. They could be the downfall of the whole Order. Sons of Ether

Whatever one may say about their "magick", they have at least understood the need to avoid mundane society. Verbena Trapped in the lower worlds. Their blood- magick is obviously of Qlipphotic origin. They represent the dark side of Malkuth, Lillith, the queen of flesh and lust. They should be studied, but very carefully. Virtual Adepts They don't know it yet, but their computers are based upon the secret patterns of letters and numbers we have seen. We have done the same things as they do now for centuries, but by hand. Still, computers are very useful for some magick, but you should know what you really are doing and treat the symbols with respect. Their lack of respect for the powers they use will one day spell their doom.

The Yetziratic Sealing Rite (Mind 3)
Originally from Sepher Yetzirach, this rote is widely used for protection. The mage draw permutations of the letters Yud, Heh and Vav in the six directions with an incense stick while praying. Now the mage is protected as long as the rote is active. People around the mage will ignore him and will not remember him very well, if at all. They will not think about the mage if he does not attract attention. This rote became very popular among the Rosicrucians, who called their rote the Rose Cross Ritual (In which the mage draws crosses instead of letters) [ The rote will make people overlook the mage. Three successes are enough to be ignored by all people in the vicinity of the mage. Each success will subtract one die from every perception roll to spot the mage, as long as he does not attract attention. Since most people ignore each other anyway, the mage will in effect be almost invisible]

The Middle Pillar Ritual (Prime 2)
This rote will strengthen the body, mind and soul of the mage. The mage stands and visualises himself as the middle pillar of the Sephirothic Tree. Below him is the material world, and above his head Keter, the source of prime. He feels the energy flowing through him, into the world and from the world back to the source. The mage will feel filled with power, in perfect balance of mind and body. [ The mage will pump quintessence into his own pattern for a while. This will temporary strengthen the mages own pattern and hopefully weaken intruding patterns. Each success will remove one success of magick (Both helpful and harmful), like a countermagick roll. The target number for the rote is the highest sphere involved in the effect + 3, or 5, whichever is highest. It will not heal any damage already done nor stop any flaws in the mages own pattern. Prolonged use of this rote have been shown to cause egocentricity, as the mage unconsciously begin to believe he is the centre of the universe. ]

Bless the Faithful Servant (Prime 2 Spirit 2)
The mage blesses a spirit, pouring quintessence into its pattern. This is something most spirits desire, as it will make them more powerful in the long run. Besides, at least to a human, they seem to derive pleasure from it. This rote is often used to thank spirits who have helped the mage.

The Invocation of the Four Archangels. (Spirit 2)
The mage stand with his arms straight out to the sides, so that his body forms a cross. He invokes the four Archangels: "Before me Raphael. Behind me Gabriel. On my right hand, Michael. On my left hand, Uriel. For around me flames the pentagram, and within me shines the six-rayed star." By using this rote, the mage will scare away most spirits, fearful for the powerful Archangels and the powerful mage. The Rosicrucians have developed their own version, the Lesser Banishing of the Pentagram, which works in almost the same way. [ The Archangels will normally not appear in person, but will (if the mage is lucky) send subordinates to the mage. They will not manifest physically, but their presence is often felt. The subordinate angels will scare away lesser beings from the vicinity. After they are done, they will report back to their superiors what happened. It is very unwise to misuse this rote.]

Further Reading
Kabbalah FAQ by Coling Low. Notes on Kabbalah by Colin Low. A very good modern guide to the Cabala. The parent directory contains other interestinf information, including images of the Tree of Life. Modern Magick by Donald Kraig. An easy to read introduction to Ceremonial Magick and Cabala, although a bit "New Agey". Liber Eureka sub figura DXXXIV, by Shawn Knight. A good example of how Cabalists analyze words for esoteric meanings. Back to the Traditions Page Anders Main Page Anders Sandberg /