Janet Miles, CAP-OM (janetmiles) wrote,
Janet Miles, CAP-OM

YaaD Work: Class 12: Specialties: Kabbalah

This is one of the reflection papers I wrote as part of my Year and a Day (YaaD) of study with Fieldhaven Coven.

The question is drawn from the Greenhaven Tradition; the YaaD course is not published on the Greenhaven Tradition website, but is made available on a person-to-person basis. Material that is not so closely held is available at http://greenhaventradition.weebly.com/

Class 12, Paper 2a (after class discussion): Choose a skill that you don’t have but would like to have. Do something to explore it – read a book, attend a workshop or lecture, take a lesson with someone more experienced, work with a kit from the craft store, etc. – and see how much you can learn. Write a one-page report on your experiences.

Assignment submitted September 19, 2012

Writing Assignment: YaaD Class 12 - Specialties

I attended a two-and-a-half hour seminar introducing the Kabbalah study of The Tree of Life on Saturday, September 15, presented by Rose Hawley. The seminar also included a guided meditation for forming a Body of Light.

There are two basic "strains" of Kabbalah: Jewish and Western Mystic Tradition. Jewish Kabbalah, if I understood correctly, is focused on Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, and draws heavily on the Torah, the Talmud, the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation), Sefer HaBahir (Light), the Sefer HaZohar (Splendor), and Gematria (Hebrew numerology). The Western Mystic Tradition adds an elaborate system of angels, Enochian (the prophet Enoch) literature, Tarot, Alchemy, and Astrology.

The presenter noted that Kabbalah is a lifetime study, that she has found it to be useful on all the paths she has traveled, and that she finds it interesting because it draws heavily on Shekinah, the Bride, the feminine Divine Wisdom.

The Tree of Life dates back to somewhere between the 7th and 13th centuries. It comprises 10 Sephirot (sephira, sphere, plural sephirot) arranged in three Pillars, making up 4 Worlds, and connected by paths that relate to the Tarot cards. An 11th "non-sephira" is sometimes included. Depending on the tradition, each sephira can be related to (among other things) a Hebrew name, a Hebrew letter, a number, a God word, a planet, an alchemical process, and one or more angels.

Because this was such a short seminar, the presenter focused on the lower worlds:
  • Assiah, the manifested world, contains only the sephira Malkuth. This is the physical world, the physical universe, including intangibles like thought, emotion, and spiritual experience. Personal mastery of Malkuth leads eventually to the development of a Body of Light.
  • Yetzira, the formative world, contains Yesod, Netzach, Hod.
  • Briah, the world of creation, contains Chesed, Geburah, and Tifaret. If I understood the presenter correctly, one possible ideal of the study of Kabbalah is to grok (my word, not hers) Tifaret, the heart, the core, bringing Kether, the crown, down to the heart, and Malkuth and Yesod up to the heart.
  • Atziluth, the world of the divine, contains Kether, Chokmah, and Binah.

The three pillars are, from right to left
  • The Pillar of Force – mercy, active, fire, containing Binah, Geburah, and Hod
  • The Pillar of Equilibrium – integration, active and receptive, air, containing Kether, (Da'ath), Tifaret, Yesod, and Malkuth
  • The Pillar of Form – severity, receptive, water, containing Chokmah, Chesed, and Netzach

Interestingly, Geburah, which is associated with water, is on the Pillar of Form, and Chesed, which is associated with fire, is on the Pillar of Force. If I understood correctly, this is to help demonstrate the interconnectedness of all things, that nothing has only a single quality.

The 11th "non-sephira," Da'ath, is sometimes located in the central pillar between Tifaret and Kether, above Chesed and Geburah. This non-sephira is referred to as The Final Threshhold, the Dark Abyss, or the Void. Passing through this requires deep meditation and a purity of purpose to reach the Godhead above.

The exercise to create a Body of Light was a guided meditation. Briefly, the participants were instructed to ground by imagining a cord of energy dropping from the base of the spine into the earth and then spreading like roots. Once that was firmly established, the participants were instructed to bring energy up from the earth, through the lower body to the heart chakra, and then to bring energy in from a sphere of light above the head, again down the heart chakra. From there, the participants were instructed to let the energy flow all the way up through the body, fountain out the head, flow back down to the earth, and back again, creating a body of light.

Okay, that was the easy part; now for my reactions. My experiences were mixed. I didn't attempt to connect to any of the other participants or the presenter, or do any kind of networking. It was an amazing amount of information presented in a very short time; I have almost 10 pages of densely written notes, which I have not fully transcribed.

Although the seminar was posted as being suitable for beginners, and did cover very basic information, I suspect I was the only real beginner there; all the other participants were nodding and jotting down a word or two here and there, while I was scribbling frantically. I felt incredibly ignorant compared to the other participants, which dropped me into "I'm sorry to be taking up space and air, please just ignore me" mode.

I feel as though I learned quite a bit about the history of Kabbalah and a tiny bit about a single way of working with it, while knowing that it doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what could be learned. Given the sheer breadth, depth, and richness of the material, and the amount of study required, I'm inclined to recognize it as an important course of study while not wanting to pursue it personally. However, I will do some additional reading as part of the Class 12 requirements. With your permission, I may read just about the Jewish "strain" of Kabbalah.

I wasn't able to do the meditation. No matter how hard I tried, I wasn't able to "see" or imagine a cord from the base of my spine. I got all kinds of pressure at my throat, which seems to be where my center is located, but that wasn't the point of the exercise. I think that *if* I had gone ahead and grounded as I'm used to doing, I *might* have been able to complete the rest of the meditation, but I don't know if that's true. I fear that if I can't manage something that simple, Kabbalah is probably also not for me.

Tags: pagan

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