EnSoph and the Sephiroth

In the oldest Oriental Kabala, the Deity is represented as three circles in one, shrouded in a certain smoke or chaotic exhalation. In the preface to the Sohar, which transforms the three primordial circles into Three Heads, over these is described an exhalation or smoke, neither black nor white, but colorless, and circumscribed within a circle. This is the unknown Essence.* The origin of the Jewish image may, perhaps, be traced to Hermes' Pimander, the Egyptian Logos, who appears within a cloud of a humid nature, with a smoke escaping from it.+ In the Sohar the highest God is, as we have shown in the preceding chapter, and as in the case of the Hindu and Buddhist philosophies, a pure abstraction, whose objective existence is denied by the latter. It is Hakama, the "Supreme Wisdom, that cannot be understood by reflection," and that lies within and without the Cranium of Long Face} (Sephira), the uppermost of the three "Heads." It is the "boundless and the infinite En-Soph," the No-Thing.

The "three Heads," superposed above each other, are evidently taken from the three mystic triangles of the Hindus, which also superpose each other. The highest "head" contains the Trinity in Chaos, out of which springs the manifested trinity. En-Soph, the unrevealed forever, who is boundless

* "Kabbala Denudata"; preface to the "Sohar," ii., p. 242. f See Champollion's "Egypte." J "Idra Rabba," vi., p. 58.

and unconditioned, cannot create, and therefore it seems to us a great error to attribute to him a "creative thought," as is commonly done by the interpreters. In every cosmogony this supreme Essence is passive; if boundless, infinite, and unconditioned, it can have no thought nor idea. It acts not as the result of volition, but in obedience to its own nature, and according to the fatality of the law of which it is itself the embodiment. Thus, with the Hebrew kabalists, En-Soph is nonexistent TK, for it is incomprehensible to our finite intellects, and therefore cannot exist to our minds. Its first emanation was Sephira, the crown. When the time for an active period had come, then was produced a natural expansion of this Divine essence from within outwardly, obedient to eternal and immutable law; and from this eternal and infinite light (which to us is darkness) was emitted a spiritual substance.§ This was the First Sephiroth, containing in herself the other nine mTDO Sephiroth, or intelligences. In their totality and unity they represent the archetypal man, Adam Kadmon, the npwxóyvog, who in his individuality or unity is yet dual, or bisexual, the Greek Didumos, for he is the prototype of all humanity. Thus we obtain three trinities, each contained in a "head." In the first head, or face (the three-faced Hindu Trimurti), we find Sephira, the first androgyne, at the apex of the upper triangle, emitting Hackama, or Wisdom, a masculine and active potency — also called Jah, n'_- and Binah, HD'3, or Intelligence, a female and passive potency, also represented by the name Jehovah m'D. These three form the first trinity or "face" of the

Sephiroth. This triad emanated Hesod, or Mercy, a masculine active potency, also called El, from which emanated Geburah, or Justice, also called Eloha, a feminine passive potency; from the union of these two was produced Tiphereth, Beauty, Clemency, the Spiritual Sun, known by the divine name Elohim; and the second triad, "face," or "head," was formed. These emanating, in their turn, the masculine potency Netzah, Firmness, or Jehovah Sabaoth, who issued the feminine passive potency Hod, I'H, Splendor, or Elohim Sabaoth; the two produced Jesod, 7W Foundation, who is the mighty living one El-Chai, thus yielding the third trinity or "head." The tenth Sephiroth is rather a duad, and is represented on the diagrams as the lowest circle. It is Malchuth or Kingdom, m^a, and Shekinah n3'3n, also called Adonai, and Cherubim among the angelic hosts. The first "Head" is called the Intellectual world; the second "Head" is the Sensuous, or the world of Perception, and the third is the Material or Physical world.

"Before he gave any shape to the universe," says the Kabala, "before he produced any form, he was alone without any form and resemblance to anything else. Who, then, can comprehend him, how he was before the creation, since he was formless? Hence, it is forbidden to represent him by any form, similitude, or even by his sacred name, by a single letter, or a single point. . . . The Aged of the Aged, the Unknown of the Unknown, has a form, and yet no form. He has a form whereby the universe is preserved, and yet has no form, because he cannot be comprehended. When he first assumed a form (in Sephira, his first emanation), he caused nine splendid lights to emanate from it."*

And now we will turn to the Hindu esoteric Cosmogony and definition of "Him who is, and yet is not."

"From him who is,+ from this immortal Principle which exists in our minds but cannot be perceived by the senses, is born Purusha, the Divine male and female, who became Narayana, or the Divine Spirit moving on the water."

Swayambhuva, the unknown essence of the Brahmans, is identical with En-Soph, the unknown essence of the kabalists. As with the latter, the ineffable name could not be pronounced by the Hindus, under the penalty of death. In the ancient primitive trinity of India, that which may be certainly considered as pre-Vedic, the germ which fecundates the mother-principle, the mundane egg, or the universal womb, is called Nara, the Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, which emanates from the primordial essence. It is like Sephira, the oldest emanation, called the primordial point, and the White Head, for it is the point of divine light appearing from within the fathomless and boundless darkness. In Manu it is "Nara, or the Spirit of God, which moves on Ayana (Chaos, or place of motion), and is called Narayana, or moving on the waters."} In Hermes, the Egyptian, we read: "In the beginning of the time there was naught in the chaos." But when the "verbum," issuing from the void like a "colorless smoke," makes its

* Idra Suta, "Sohar," iii., p. 288 a. f Ego sum qui sum (see "Bible").

J See "Institutes of Manu," translated by Sir William Jones.

appearance, then "this verbum moved on the humid principle."* And in Genesis we find: "And darkness was upon the face of the deep (chaos). And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." In the Kabala, the emanation of the primordial passive principle (Sephira), by dividing itself into two parts, active and passive, emits Chochma-Wisdom and Binah-Jehovah, and in conjunction with these two acolytes, which complete the trinity, becomes the Creator of the abstract Universe; the physical world being the production of later and still more material powers.+ In the

* Champollion.

f We are fully aware that some Christian kabalists term En-Soph the "Crown," identify him with Sephira; call En-Soph "an emanation from God," and make the ten Sephiroth comprise "En-Soph" as a unity. They also very erroneously reverse the first two emanations of Sephira — Chochma and Binah. The greatest kabalists have always held Chochma (Wisdom) as a male and active intelligence, and placed it under the No. 2 on the right side of the triangle, whose apex is the crown, while Binah (Intelligence) is under No. 3 on the left hand. But the latter, being represented by its divine name as Jehovah, very naturally showed the God of Israel as only a third emanation, as well as a feminine, passive principle. Hence when the time came for the Talmudists to transform their multifarious deities into one living God, they resorted to their Masoretic points and combined to transform Jehovah into Adonai, "the Lord." This, under the persecution of the Medieval kabalists by the Church, also forced some of the former to change their female Sephiroth into male, and vice versa, so as to avoid being accused of disrespect and blasphemy to Jehovah; whose name, moreover, by mutual and secret agreement they accepted as a substitute for Jah, or the mystery name IAO. Alone the initiated knew of it, but later it gave rise to a great

Hindu Cosmogony, Swayambhuva emits

Nara and Nari, its bisexual emanation, and dividing its parts into two halves, male and female, these fecundate the mundane egg, within which develops Brahma, or rather Viradj, the Creator. "The starting-point of the Egyptian mythology," says Champollion, "is a triad . . . namely, Kneph, Neith, and Phtah; and Ammon, the male, the father; Muth, the female and mother; and Khons, the son."

confusion among the uninitiated. It would be worth while — were it not for lack of space — to quote a few of the many passages in the oldest Jewish authorities, such as Rabbi Akiba, and the "Sohar," which corroborate our assertion. Chochma-Wisdom is a male principle everywhere, and Binah-Jehovah, a female potency. The writings of Iren^us, Theodoret, and Epiphanius, teeming with accusations against the Gnostics and "Heresies," repeatedly show Simon Magus and Cerinthus making of Binah the feminine divine Spirit which inspired Simon. Binah is Sophia, and the Sophia of the Gnostics is surely not a male potency, but simply the feminine Wisdom, or Intelligence. (See any ancient "Arbor Kabbalistica," or Tree of the Sephiroth.) Eliphas Levi, in the "Rituel de la Haute Magie," vol. i., pp. 223 and 231, places Chochma as No. 2 and as a male Sephiroth on the right hand of the Tree. In the "Kabala" the three male Sephiroth — Chochma, Chesed, Netsah — are known as the Pillar of Mercy; and the three feminine on the left, namely, Binah, Geburah, Hod, are named the Pillar of Judgment; while the four Sephiroth of the centre — Kether, Tiphereth, Jesod, and Malchuth — are called the Middle Pillar. And, as Mackenzie, in the "Royal Masonic Cyclopedia," shows, "there is an analogy in these three pillars to the three Pillars of Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty in a Craft Lodge of Masonry, while the En-Soph forms the mysterious blazing star, or mystic light of the East" (p. 407).

The ten Sephiroth are copies taken from the ten Pradjapatis created by Viradj, called the "Lords of all beings," and answering to the biblical Patriarchs.

Justin Martyr explains some of the "heresies" of the day, but in a very unsatisfactory manner. He shows, however, the identity of all the world-religions at their starting-points. The first beginning opens invariably with the unknown and passive deity, producing from himself a certain active power or virtue, "Rational," which is sometimes called Wisdom, sometimes the Son, very often God, Angel, Lord, and Logos.* The latter is sometimes applied to the very first emanation, but in several systems it proceeds from the first androgyne or double ray produced at the beginning by the unseen. Philo depicts this wisdom as male and female. But though its first manifestation had a beginning, for it proceeded from Oulomt (Aion, time), the highest of the ^ons, when emitted from the Fathers, it had remained with him before all creations, for it is part of him.$ Therefore, Philo Jud^us calls Adam Kadmon "mind" (the Ennoia of Bythos in the Gnostic system). "The mind, let it be named Adam."§

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