The word Qabala finds its root in the Hebrew word Qibel, meaning 'to receive'. This receiving refers to an oral tradition of esoteric or secret knowledge concerning, essentially, the mysteries of Nature, and more overtly, the hidden teachings concerning the Hebrew Torah. The Torah is, of course, the first five books of what Christians call the Old Testament, and the oldest surviving of the Judaic liturgical texts.

Although the orthodox Qabala is that which deals primarily with the esoteric understanding of the Torah, which was possibly first constructed about 1500 BCE, it is quite likely that the original Semitic secret teachings, or Qabala, had their origin in Persia before the time of Abraham, about 2500 BCE. This Semitic proto-Qabala itself was every likely the child of one of the first culturally bias developments of the universal occult science which mankind had, as tradition asserts, inherited from the Gods before the great flood.

Fragments of this proto-Qabala can still be recognised within the early literary records of the Judaic mystic tradition, namely the Sepher HaZohar (see-far ha-so-har) and the Sepher HaYetzirah (see-far ha-yet-zee-rah). In the time between the exile of Abraham from Babylon (2500BCE?) and the age when the first Rabbis begun to standardise and record their Qabala (possibly as early as 500 BCE), the original ancient Persian system that formed the basis of the Judaic mysteries became more and more influenced and obscured by the religious pre-dispositions of that which would later become known as Judaism. Of the two above mentioned primary sources of ancient Qabalistic thought the Sepher HaYetzirah is, quite possibly, the oldest and least confused by religious terminology. Probably because the work itself is very occult and therefore had little value in religious matters to hard-line Rabbis. The Zohar, on the other hand, is very much a religio-mystical work. But, whereas the Yetzirah is primarily a magickal discourse on the occult structure of the universe, the Zohar is more a philosophic work dealing with very abstract ideas of the nature of the universal forces, their relationship with mankind, and of their author, the Lord of the Universe.

From a modern point of view we might suggest that the Yetzirah is analogous to a discourse on theoretical physics, the original being, of course, more of an occult work than scientific to the modern mind. But the Yetzirah was, in fact, the secret science of its day. We might not find it hard to see, after studying the work, how those Qabalists who were interested in the Yetzirah saw it as a highly technical treatise describing the inception and inter-relationships of natures finer forces. In the same way we might see a good portion of the Zohar as being akin to a discourse on very advanced (spiritual) psychology with many instances of metaphors relating a commonality, or analogy, between the abstract mechanisms of physics and mental dynamics.

Both of these works, though, betray an undercurrent of very ancient, universal, metaphysics and meta-psychology. In the Yetzirah we see it in many ways. In the ideal of an all-powerful God creating the universe through a single magickal act. In descriptions of the hidden forces of nature that include references to the four primary elements of creation, the seven inner or personal planets and the twelve-fold division of the ecliptic into zodiacal signs. Of the ideal that these unseen forces are intelligent beings in their own right, and exist in a hierarchy stretching from the gross and diverse at our end of creation to the subtle, simple, and abstract in the higher realms. And the idea that all of these ideas as manifest in the greater reality of the universe can also be found in miniature in mankind. The Zohar has all of this too, but it also has something else. Within its pages we find, here and there, descriptions of a system of occult psychology which betrays knowledge of processes for the occult development of the human psyche, of the subtle anatomy of mankind and its role in this work, that can be found all over the world in the secret doctrines of many and various ancient cultures.

It is with this last idea, this universal ancient psychology, that the true Qabalist is so concerned. This, apart from knowledge of the grade the Yetzirah presents, is for him the true heart of Qabala. The secret tradition stripped of misunderstanding, sectarianism, ages of political and religious doctrine. It is the Qabala of all nations and all peoples and all times.

The benefit of this version of the Qabala, the Hebrew version, is that it has recorded, or rather preserved, more clearly than, it seems, any other culture the doctrines of the ancient Universal Science. In the Zohar and the Yetzirah and in places in the Torah we can, behind the meddling of centuries of Rabbinical tradition, read, study and understand this wonderful knowledge 7000 years after it was first gathered into the organised body of knowledge we now call Hermetic.

So what is it exactly that Qabala consists of? And what value to the occultist today is this information? Firstly, Qabala provides a description of the dynamic of the creation of our universe and the simple forces involved in that action. From this knowledge we can trace the effects and aspects we call our diverse reality back to their causes. This is important because the government of our reality is found in the abstract, and it is one of the tasks of the mage to learn to control the grosser forces of nature through those which are more refined.

Secondly, Qabala affords an explanation of the process of evolution in both the macrocosm (universe) and the microcosm (man). Evolution is a reflection of the Will of the Creator and through an understanding of this dynamic we may realise that there is a motive behind our existence. To clarify this point we might suggest that it is necessary for certain individuals within humanity, who have reached a certain degree of soul maturity, to exploit a knowledge of the hidden forces of nature, in order to advance their soul development beyond a certain stage past which nature, unaided, cannot take them.

Here we find the prime motive for the continuing existence and utter importance of the institution we call the mystery school, the modern repository of Qabala. Without these schools each individual who feels the quickening of their soul would have to struggle so much in order to discover what they needed to advance their development that progress in this field would always remain at a bare minimum. Death would continue to interrupt the process and the ability to make further headway. In the medium of the secret colleges of every culture we find the means of accumulating the knowledge of ages, enough for each successive generation of occultists to make significant leaps and bounds in evolution, both personal and collective.

So, after the second point the Qabala provides as useful knowledge, an understanding of Gods will (active in the process of evolution), we have, then, a third point, which is a core doctrine of the science of initiation (occult development of the soul nature), knowledge of the methods which can be of most use in aiding and abetting that motive, i.e. further and extreme soul development.

Lastly, we have point four. A philosophy concerning the appropriate long term aims of the work. Just as point three was extracted from a knowledge of the evolutionary process so too was point four. Above all Qabala is a philosophy. A presentation or discourse on certain mystical contemplation's concerning the beginning, growth and aim or outcome of our existence.

At this point let us recapitulate. First Qabala presents us with knowledge of the act of creation. From this knowledge was developed an understanding of the evolution of systems. From the former knowledge Qabalists learned how to control effects by manipulating causes. Through the latter knowledge, that is understanding evolution, Qabalists learned the motive for existence and the methods by which they could aid in abetting that motive.

The method particularly, but also the motive, are both referred to by occultists as the Great Work. The 'Lesser Work' involves the instruction the novice receives in the knowledge accumulated within the mystery tradition which will prepare him to both understand and to take his own place in the Great Work.

Taking all of this into consideration, then, we can safely say that Qabala is the foundation of the mystery tradition. It is the blue print from which each occult teacher works in the task of training his students. From the same blueprint every occult school knows how to construct its administorial processes, training and government. The dark mage studies Qabala in order to abuse it. The mage who works in the Light studies Qabala in order to align himself with the will of his Creator.

Qabala, in its essence, is an unalterable Truth allowing the student the possibility to glimpse the amazing secret laws of Nature. But, in its outer form, it is also a living evolving being which is finding new forms of expression, even today. The once very religious and orthodox Qabala, through the western mystery tradition, is once again rediscovering its ancient roots. It is developing, once again, into a non-sectarian system that will allow the sons of understanding to see the pure universality of their science. The modern Qabalist is experiencing a marriage of the knowledge inherited through traditional channels with that gained through both modern physics and psychology. This process is launching Qabala into a new phase of expression, whereby the more classic terminology and thought forms of orthodox Qabala are being transformed into the language and global cultural view of 21st century man.


Copyright Parush 1997
All rights reserved - last update 31 july 2001

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