The following is Joseph Kerrick’s insights into the Kabbalah. The Kabbalah is a system of mysticism which originated in ancient Sumer, thus putting its beginnings in the same remote epoch as the mysteries of Egypt and the Hindu Vedas. Babylon succeeded Sumer, and transmitted the teachings in turn to the Hebrews, along with many other elements of their religion, which are therefore still familiar to us today from the Book of Genesis. The word “Kabbalah” comes from a Hebrew root meaning to receive sacred teachings.
The Jews added two important works to Kabbalistic lore, namely the books known as the Sepher Yetzirah, reputed to have been written in the 2nd century AD, and the Zohar, dating from the 13th century. The Zohar came to the attention of Christian scholars shortly thereafter, and sparked an interest in the Kabbalah on the part of a wide range of European mystics and occultists. Thus the Kabbalah became part and parcel of the secret teachings of such groups as the Rosicrucians and Freemasons. These Gentile Kabbalists likewise added much fresh material to the tradition, as did the Theosophists, the Golden Dawn, and now numerous new age thinkers and writers. Thus the Kabbalah as it now exists is far from being an exclusively Jewish doctrine, but is rather an integral part of the Western Mystery Tradition.
An essential teaching of the Kabbalah is that the same patterns that govern the operation of the universe are to be found in the deepest soul of man, as well as the forces that drive those patterns.
The Tree of Life operates on many levels. The basic Tree can be taken as a complete model of the entire universe, of every being who lives in it, and of all the beings together in their collectivities and hierarchies. However, in the next layer of complexity, the basic Tree is construed as representing only our immediate terrestrial world. The Kabbalistic teaching is that there are three higher worlds above this, and each world is represented by a complete Tree, with the spheres overlapping in a particular way. This figure is traditionally called “Jacob’s Ladder,” indicating that it portrays the esoteric reality behind the Bible story in which Jacob saw a ladder reaching up into heaven, with angels ascending and descending upon it.
For indeed, the sphere of these higher Trees are said to be the habitations of angels. Every sphere is designated by the name of an angel, which can also be understood as a collective entity: a whole race, tribe, species, or “choir” of angels. And all these legions of angels are ranked into three basic orders corresponding to the three worlds….CONTINUE READING