Friday, December 7, 2012

Golden Dawn Qabalah

by Golden Dawn Imperator
David Griffin

The Alchemical Qabalah

There has been yet another interesting discussion on the International Golden Dawn Yahoo Forum of late. If you have not yet visited the forum, you should. You will find it HERE.

Cydoc1986 (HERE) wrote:
"I have a question about about the hebrew alphabet itself. When would you use Teth for T instead of Tau for T and vice versa? I know if you need the Th sound, you should use Tau. When it comes to just T though how do you know which to use?
This is more of a linguistics questions. I would love to have a deeper understanding of the hebrew language instead of just knowing the words that have already been translated in various GD works.
Gal Sofer (HERE) replied:
"Dear cydoc1986,
As someone who Hebrew is his first language I can tell that There are no specific rules for that - some words uses Taf (or Tav) and some uses Tet. For example - in the word Taor (pure) the T is Tet, while in the word Targil (an exercise) the T is Taf. Both, as you can hear, are similar. I know some Orthodox Jews from my synagogue who claims that there is slightly different in the pronunciation- Taf is soften than Tet. But, this is a very slim nuance.
Gal Sofer"
Frater Barrabbas (HERE) answered:
"According to my Classical Hebrew professor, the difference between these two letters represented an original difference in phonetic sounds, such as are found in Arabic today. Tav was a normal or softened T sound, and Tet was an aspirated T sound. Like in all occurrences of phonetic differentiation, the use of the Tav or Tet would indicate a different word root, just as it does in English with, let's say, the letters T and D (Time vs. Dime).
BTW - I cover the Hebrew alphabet a bit in my new book which is coming out later this month or early next. It is titled "Magical Qabalah for Beginners" and published by Llewellyn Worldwide.
You preview this book HERE.
Frater Barrabbas"
There are a few things I would like to add to this discussion.

First off, before Frater Barrabbas' "Magical Qabalah for Beginners" went to press I had the pleasure to review the manuscript. 

I am pleased this book is coming out. "Magical Qabalah for Beginners" fills a need for beginning Golden Dawn students for a good introduction to Qabalah.

Before my 1999 Ritual Magic Manual, most modern Golden Dawn authors unreflectively followed the angelical hierarchies as given in the Golden Dawn's Knowledge Lectures as published by Israel Regardie.

Before the Ritual Magic Manual, there also was no scholarly Hebrew pronunciation guide around for beginning students of Golden Dawn Magic. Sure, there were a couple of tapes by Israel Regardie, but Regardie had a strong Cockney accent that rendered his Hebrew pronunciation somewhat ghastly.

This is why, when doing preliminary research for the Ritual Magic Manual, I was quite fortunate to collaborate with a Hebrew professor versed not only in ancient Hebrew, but also in Kabbala. This was of enormous value in cleaning up Hebrew pronunciation in the Golden Dawn.

He gave me, regarding the pronunciation of the letters Teth and Tav, more or less the same guidance that Frater Barrabbas gives above. 

Gal Sofer is completely correct that contemporary Hebrew no longer makes a distinction of the letters Teth and Tav.

This has not always been the case. In ancient Hebrew, there was definitely a subtle difference. The pronunciation guidelines in the Ritual Magic Manual are those of ancient Hebrew.

My goals in Qabalistic research for the Ritual Magic Manual were to eliminate corruptions and transliteration errors, correct pronunciation, to verify Hebrew spellings of Qabalistic names from pre-Golden Dawn sources, and to add correct Hebrew vowel pointation. Vowel pointation, prior to the Ritual Magic Manual, had never been included in the Golden Dawn.

I was successful in most this. In the Ritual Magic Manual, you find correct pronunication guidelines for Qabalistic magical names in all rituals. You also see the reliability of Qabalistic magical hierarchies at a glance, since all spellings and pronunciatioins verified in pre-Golden Dawn sources, include correct vowel pointation in the RMM. The few names that were impossible to verify do not include vowel pointation.

I was also largely successful in verifying the correct Hebrew spellings of nearly all Qabalistic magical hierarchies in pre-Golden Dawn sources. Most of these were easily verified in either Biblical or Rabbinical literature.

Cornelius Agrippa
One hierarchy was a problem though - the so-called "Planetary Angels" given in the Golden Dawn Knowledge Lectures. It is no accident that this hierarchy was given only in English in the Knowledge Lectures and that Regardie published this hierarchy only in English transliteration. Either Kenneth Mackenzie (who most scholars agree encoded the Cypher Manuscripts - the founding documents of the Golden Dawn) or Golden Dawn founder, S.L. McGregor Mathers, lifted this hierarchy directly from Cornelius Agrippa, who gives this hierarchy only in Latin transliteration of the original Hebrew.

Let's be clear about one thing. 

Modern books that give Hebrew spellings for the Qabalistic "Planetary Angels"  are inaccurate. What they give is a Hebrew retransliteration of a hopelessly corrupted English transliteration of  a Latin transliteration of the original Hebrew. In short, the Hebrew spellings of this hierarchy you find in modern Golden Dawn books results from the sort of mess children enjoy when playing the game of "telephone."

I puzzled over this problem for years, until by sheer stubbornness I one day found this hierarchy in a relatively early Hebrew magical text. Shortly thereafter, I was able to verify this discovery in a second Hebrew magical text from approximately the same time period. The results of this discovery were quite surprising.

It turns out these so called "Planetary Angles" are not really a separate magical Hierarchy at all. In reality, these "Angels" are a merely an almost identical copy of the Qabalistic Archangels of the Sephiroth used in the Golden Dawn, with two noteworthy exceptions - the traditional planets in ancient astrology considered as malefics: Saturn and Mars. 

In reality, Hebrew magical texts give this "Angel" of Mars as SAMAEL. The Golden Dawn's "Zamael" does not exist at all. It is a mere transliteration corruption, hopelessly corrupted already in Agrippa's time.

For the "Angel" of Saturn, Jewish magicians used a stock Qabalistic swap by inverting two letters from the name of the Archangel of Binah, Tzaphqiel. By inverting the letters Tzaddi and Qoph, Tzaphquiel became "Qaphtziel," the Archangel of Binah rendered malefic though letter inversion.

"Cassiel," as given in the Golden Dawn knowledge lectures, is nothing more than a corruption that came from transliteration of Qaphtziel into English.

Moreover, Samael and Qaphtziel are not really "Angels" at all, but malefic spirits of the traditionally malefic planets; Mars and Saturn. Such corruptions likely entered the Golden Dawn by Mackenzie or Mathers slavishly following Agrippa, much as contemporary Golden Dawn authors unreflectively follow Regardie far too often.

Due to my discoveries during the five years of research leading up to the Ritual Magic Manual, I left this hierarchy of "Planetary Angels" completely out of the RMM, using the Archangels of the corresponding Sephiroth instead for planetary invocation. These entities are quite adequate in themselves, and do not contain any malefic spirits.

Please do not merely take my word for all of this though. I encourage advanced practitioners to do their own research. There are plenty of contributions remaining to be made to the lore of the Golden Dawn. We help you gain the necessary research skills in our undergraduate level training program, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Click here to explore our outer order training program, the H.O.G.D.

Alpha Omega
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