A copy if the first of a series of posts I did for our Coven Forum:
Qabalah is a Hebrew word which means tradition. It comes from the root word qibel which means to receive. It refers to the tradition of handing down knowledge by word of mouth from one generation to the next. Qabalah encompasses an entire body of mystical and magical traditions. Its origin is not clear, but it contains vestiges of Egyptian, Greek and Chaldean influence.
Qabalah is not transmitted directly. It can not be. It is expressed through symbolism and metaphor. It draws upon our own awareness to understand the transcendence of the eternal deity. It seeks to reveal hidden mysteries of the Divine, as well as the connection between divine life and our human existence. Those who study the Qabalah see to discover and invent keys to the understanding of symbols which reflect eternal mysteries.
Qabalah is a guide leading to the comprehension of the universe and of our own self. It includes many areas of study that form the basis of the Western Mystery Traditions. Study of it reveals the nature of certain physical and psychological phenomena. When these are properly understood the student can use principles of magic to exercise control over the conditions and circumstances in his or her life. Magic provides the practical application of these theories.
Qabalah is a vibrant and dynamic system of magic. It includes things like the nature of the cosmos, the nature of the divine, the understanding of gods and angelic beings, and the development of mankind. Its primary symbol is the Tree of life, which everything can be placed on, structured and understood in relation to everything else. As you begin to study the deceptively simple diagram, you awaken forces and ideas within you, which gather up parts of divine powers which are within each of us. They begin to structure themselves in accordance with the diagram and allow us to tap in to previously unknown levels within ourselves and within the universe.
Because everything is interrelated within the Tree of Life, it shows the divine, the human being, and the relation between the two not as separate things, but as one. The maxim As above, so below becomes a known reality. By moving through the steps on the tree, we are able to grow, become more powerful, and gain access to things and powers that we did not have before. But, there is also change within us. You may not be the same person you were when you started, and you should not be.
Many people feel that because the qabalah is originally Hebrew that it is purely patriarchal or male oriented. This is not true. There are male and female influences even within the Hebrew religion. Unfortunately, these sometimes are overlooked. Also, the concepts of other gods, the myths of other traditions and cultures are all able to be placed upon the tree of life.
There are four main areas of study in the qabalah. These are:
The Dogmatic Qabalah the study of ancient Hebrew and qabalistic books, The Practical Qabalah which deals with the study and use of talismans and ceremonial magic, The Literal Qabalah which deals with the relation between numbers and the Hebrew letters, and hidden meanings in Hebrew words and names, The Unwritten Qabalah which deals with the correct knowledge of the symbol of the Tree of Life.
Most of our study will be about the Unwritten Qabalah, although some knowledge of Literal Qabalah is taught as well as Practical Qabalah, which will be covered later.
The Tree of Life is a diagram of ten spheres and 22 connecting paths, which shows the structure of creation. The spheres are numbered one through ten, and the paths are numbered 11 through 32. The beginning study is with the ten spheres. These are numbered from the top down, 1 being the closest to the divine and 10 being the physical world. Between these there are levels of development, consciousness and awareness of different orders.
The way the diagram is laid out there are several features: there are three pillars, there are three triangles, there is the path of the flaming sword, which resembles a lightning bolt, and there is the path of the serpent, which touches each of the paths but not the spheres. These will become more obvious as you progress in your studies.
With each sphere, there is a name, a title, a divine name, and archangel, a choir of angels, a physical representation, and various symbols colors, scents, stones, plants, animals and a host of other correspondences. These all have a similar vibrational rate and are associated with each other and the sphere. So, by calling upon the divine name, the archangel, the choir of angels, and using the correspondences we are able to connect to those levels of existence. There are also other correspondences for astrology, Tarot, numerology, alchemy and many other things.
Do not be overwhelmed by the amount of information in the qabalah. Just start from the beginning, learning about the spheres and their correspondences, then, learn about the paths.