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Fundamentals of Qabbalistic Cosmogony

THE Qabbalists conceive of the Supreme Deity as an Incomprehensible Principle to be discovered only through the process of eliminating, in order, all its cognizable attributes.

That which remains - when every knowable thing has been removed - is AIN SOPH, the eternal state of Being. Although indefinable, the Absolute permeates all space. Abstract to the degree of inconceivability, AIN SOPH is the unconditioned state of all things.

Substances, essences, and intelligences are manifested out of the inscrutability of AIN SOPH, but the Absolute itself is without substance, essence, or intelligence. AIN SOPH may be likened to a great field of rich earth out of which rises a myriad of plants, each different in color, formation, and fragrance, yet each with its roots in the same dark loam--which, however, is unlike any of the forms nurtured by it. The "plants" are universes, gods, and man, all nourished by AIN SOPH and all with their source in one definitionless essence; all with their spirits, souls, and bodies fashioned from this essence, and doomed, like the plant, to return to the black ground--AIN SOPH, the only Immortal--whence they came.

AIN SOPH was referred to by the Qabbalists as The Most Ancient of all the Ancients. It was always considered as sexless. Its symbol was a closed eye. While it may be truly said of AIN SOPH that to define It is to defile It, the Rabbis postulated certain theories regarding the manner in which AIN SOPH projected creations out of Itself, and they also assigned to this Absolute Not-Being certain symbols as being descriptive, in part at least, of Its powers. The nature of AIN SOPH they symbolize by a circle, itself emblematic of eternity. This hypothetical circle encloses a dimensionless area of incomprehensible life, and the circular boundary of this life is abstract and measureless infinity.

According to this concept, God is not only a Center but also Area. Centralization is the first step towards limitation. Therefore, centers which form in the substances of AIN SOPH are finite because they are predestined to dissolution back into the Cause of themselves, while AIN SOPH Itself is infinite because It is the ultimate condition of all things.

The circular shape given to AIN SOPH signifies that space is hypothetically enclosed within a great crystal-like globe, outside of which there is nothing, not even a vacuum. Within this globe--symbolic of AIN SOPH--creation and dissolution take place. Every element and principle that will ever be used in the eternities of Kosmic birth, growth, and decay is within the transparent substances of this intangible sphere. It is the Kosmic Egg which is not broken till the great day "Be With Us," which is the end of the Cycle of Necessity, when all things return to their ultimate cause.

In the process of creation the diffused life of AIN SOPH retires from the circumference to the center of the circle and establishes a point, which is the first manifesting One--the primitive limitation of the all-pervading O. When the Divine Essence thus retires from the circular boundary to the center, It leaves behind the Abyss, or, as the Qabbalists term it, the Great Privation.

Thus, in AIN SOPH is established a twofold condition where previously had existed but one. The first condition is the central point--the primitive objectified radiance of the eternal, subjectified life. About this radiance is darkness caused by the deprivation of the life which is drawn to the center to create the first point, or universal germ. The universal AIN SOPH, therefore, no longer shines through space, but rather upon space from an established first point.

Isaac Myer describes this process as follows: "The Ain Soph at first was filling All and then made an absolute concentration into Itself which produced the Abyss, Deep, or Space, the Aveer Qadmon or Primitive Air, the Azoth; but this is not considered in the Qabbalah as a perfect void or vacuum, a perfectly empty Space, but is thought of as the Waters or Crystalline Chaotic Sea, in which was a certain degree of Light inferior to that by which all the created [worlds and hierarchies] were made." (See The Qabbalah.)

In the secret teachings of the Qabbalah it is taught that man's body is enveloped in an ovoid of bubble-like iridescence, which is called the Auric Egg. This is the causal sphere of man. It bears the same relationship to man's physical body that the globe of AIN SOPH bears to Its created universes. In fact, this Auric Egg is the AIN SOPH sphere of the entity called man. In reality, therefore, the supreme consciousness of man is in this aura, which extends in all directions and completely encircles his lower bodies.

As the consciousness in the Kosmic Egg is withdrawn into a central point, which is then called God--the Supreme One--so the consciousness in the Auric Egg of man is concentrated, thereby causing the establishment of a point of consciousness called the Ego. As the universes in Nature are formed from powers latent in the Kosmic Egg, so everything used by man in all his incarnations throughout the kingdoms of Nature is drawn from the latent powers within his Auric Egg. Man never passes from this egg; it remains even after death.

His births, deaths, and rebirths all take place within it, and it cannot be broken until the lesser day "Be With Us," when mankind--like the universe--is liberated from the Wheel of Necessity.



On the accompanying circular chart, the concentric rings represent diagrammatically the forty rates of vibration (called by the Qabbalists Spheres) which emanate from AIN SOPH.

The circle X 1 is the outer boundary of space. It circumscribes the area of AIN SOPH. The nature of AIN SOPH Itself is divided into three parts, represented by the spaces respectively between X 1 and X 2, X 2 and X 3, X 3 and A 1; thus:

X 1 to X 2,


AIN, the vacuum of pure spirit.

X 2 to X 3,

אין סוף,

AIN SOPH, the Limitless and Boundless.

X 3 to A 1,

אין סוף אור,

AIN SOPH AUR, the Limitless Light.

It should be borne in mind that in the beginning the Supreme Substance, AIN, alone permeated the area of the circle; the inner rings had not yet come into manifestation. As the Divine Essence concentrated Itself, the rings X 2 and X 3 became apprehensible, for AIN SOPH is a limitation of AIN, and AIN SOPH AUR, or Light, is a still greater limitation. Thus the nature of the Supreme One is considered to be threefold, and from this threefold nature the powers and elements of creation were reflected into the Abyss left by the motion of AIN SOPH towards the center of Itself. The continual motion of AIN SOPH towards the center of Itself resulted in the establishment of the dot in the circle. The dot was called God, as being the supreme individualization of the Universal Essence.

Concerning this the Zohar says:

"When the concealed of the Concealed wished to reveal Himself He first made a single point: the Infinite was entirely unknown, and diffused no light before this luminous point violently broke through into vision."

The name of this point is I AM, called by the Hebrews Eheieh. The Qabbalists gave many names to this dot. On this subject Christian D. Ginsberg writes, in substance: The dot is called the first crown, because it occupies the highest position. It is called the aged, because it is the first emanation. It is called the primordial or smooth point. It is called the white head, the Long Face--Macroprosophus--and the inscrutable height, because it controls and governs all the other emanations.

When the white shining point had appeared, it was called Kether, which means the Crown, and out of it radiated nine great globes, which arranged themselves in the form of a tree. These nine together with the first crown constituted the first system of Sephiroth. These ten were the first limitation of ten abstract points within the nature of AIN SOPH Itself. The power of AIN SOPH did not descend into these globes but rather was reflected upon them as the light of the sun is reflected upon the earth and planets. These ten globes were called the shining sapphires, and it is believed by many Rabbins that the word sapphire is the basis of the word Sephira (the singular of Sephiroth).

The great area which had been privated by the withdrawal of AIN SOPH into the central point, Kether, was now filled by four concentric globes called worlds, or spheres, and the light of the ten Sephiroth was reflected down through each of these in turn. This resulted in the establishment of four symbolical



The Qabbalists used the letter ש, Shin, to signify the trinity of the first three Sephiroth. The central circle slightly above the other two is the first Sephira--Kether, the White Head, the Crown. The other two circles represent Chochmah, the Father, and Binah, the Mother. From the union of the Divine Father and the Divine Mother are produced the worlds and the generations of living things. The three flame-like points of the letter ש have long been used to conceal this Creative Triad of the Qabbalists.

trees, each hearing the reflections of the ten Sephirothic globes. The 40 spheres of creation out of AIN SOPH are divided into four great world chains, as follows:

Each of these worlds has ten powers, or spheres--a parent globe and nine others which conic out of it as emanations, each globe born out of the one preceding.

On the plane of Atziluth (A 1 to A 10), the highest and most divine of all the created worlds, the unmanifested AIN SOPH established His first point or dot in the Divine Sea--the three spheres of X. This dot--A 1--contains all creation within it, but in this first divine and uncontaminated state the dot, or first manifested. God, was not considered as a personality by the Qabbalists but rather as a divine establishment or foundation. It was called the First Crown and from it issued the other circles of the Atziluthic World: A 2, A 3, A 4, A 5, A 6, A 7, A 8, A 9, and A 10. In the three lower worlds these circles are intelligences, planers, and elements, but in this first divine world they are called the Rings of the Sacred Names.

The first ten great circles (or globes) of light which were manifested out of AIN SOPH and the ten names of God assigned to them by the Qabbalists are as follows:

The ten emanations from A 1 to A 10 inclusive are called the foundations of all creations.

The Qabbalists designate them the ten roots of the Tree of Life. They are arranged in the form of a great human figure called Adam Qadmon--the man made from the fire mist (red dirt), the prototypic Universal Man. In the Atziluthic World, the powers of God are most purely manifested. These ten pure and perfect radiations do not descend into the lower worlds and take upon themselves forms, but are reflected upon the substances of the inferior spheres. From the first, or Atziluthic, World they are reflected into the second, or Briatic, World. As the reflection always lacks some of the brilliancy of the original image, so in the Briatic World the ten radiations lose part of their infinite power. A reflection is always like the thing reflected, but smaller and fainter.

In the second world, B 1 to B 10, the order of the spheres is the Name as in the Atziluthic World, but the ten circles of light are less brilliant and more tangible, and are here referred to as ten great Spirits--divine creatures who assist in the establishment of order and intelligence in the universe. As already noted, B 1 is born out of A 10 and is included within all the spheres superior to itself. Out of B 1 are taken nine globes--B 2, B 3, B 4, B 5, B 6, B 7, B 8, B 9, and B 10--which constitute the World of Briah. These ten subdivisions, however, are really the ten Atziluthic powers reflected into the substance of the Briatic World. B 1 is the ruler of this world, for it contains all the other rings of its own world and also the rings of the third and fourth worlds, C and D.

In the World of Briah the ten spheres of light are called the Archangels of Briah. Their order and powers are as follows:

The ten Archangels of Briah are conceived to be ten great spiritual beings, whose duty is to manifest the ten powers of the Great Name of God existent in the Atziluthic World, which surrounds and interpenetrates the entire world of creation.

All things manifesting in the lower worlds exist first in the intangible rings of the upper spheres, so that creation is, in truth, the process of making tangible the intangible by extending the intangible into various vibratory rates. The ten globes of Briatic power, while themselves reflections, are mirrored downward into the third or Yetziratic World, where still more limited in their expression they become the spiritual and invisible zodiac which is behind the visible band of constellations. In this third world the ten globes of the original Atziluthic World are greatly limited and dimmed, but they are still infinitely powerful in comparison with the state of substance in which man dwells. In the third world, C 1 to C 10, the globes become hierarchies of celestial creatures, called the Choirs of Yetzirah. Here again, all are included within the ring C 1, the power which controls the Yetziratic World and which includes within itself and controls the entire world D.

The order of the globes and the names of the hierarchies composing them are as follows:

From the Yetziratic World the light of the ten spheres is reflected into the World of Assiah, the lowest of the four.

The ten globes of the original Atziluthic World here take upon themselves forms of physical matter and the sidereal system is the result. The World of Assiah, or the elemental world of substance, is the one into which humanity descended at the time of Adam's fall. The Garden of Eden is the three upper worlds, and for his sins man was forced into the sphere of substance and assumed coats of skin (bodies).

All of the spiritual forces of the upper worlds, A, B, C, when they strike against the elements of the lower world, D, are distorted and perverted, resulting in the creation of hierarchies of demons to correspond with the good spirits in each of the higher worlds. In all the ancient Mysteries, matter was regarded as the source of all evil and spirit the source of all good, for matter inhibits and limits, often so clogging the inner perceptions that man is unable to recognize his own divine potentialities.

Since matter thus prevents humanity from claiming its birthright, it is called the Adversary, the power of evil. The fourth world, D, is the world of solar systems,



According to the Qabbalists, the life of the Supreme Creator permeates all substance, all space, and all time, but for diagrammatic purposes the Supreme, All-Inclusive Life is limited by Circle 3, which may be called "the boundary line of Divine existence." The Divine Life permeating the area bounded by Circle 3 is focused at Point 1, which thus becomes the personification of the impersonal life and is termed "the First Crown." The creative forces pouring through Point 1 come into manifestation as the objective universe in the intermediate space, Circle 2.

comprising not only the one of which the earth is a part but all the solar systems in the universe.

Opinions differ as to the arrangement of the globes of this last world, D 1 to D 10 inclusive. The ruler of the fourth world is D 1, called by some the Fiery Heaven; by others the Primum Mobile, or the First Motion. From this whirling fire emanates the material starry zodiac, D 2, in contradistinction to the invisible spiritual zodiac of the Yetziratic World. From the zodiac, D 2, are differentiated the spheres of the planets in concatenate order.

The ten spheres of the World of Assiah are as follows:

By inserting a sphere (which he calls the Empyrean) before the Primum Mobile, Kircher moves each of the other spheres down one, resulting in the elimination of the sphere of the elements and making D 10 the sphere of the Moon.

In the World of Assiah are to be found the demons and tempters. These are likewise reflections of the ten great globes of Atziluth, but because of the distortion of the images resulting from the base substances of the World of Assiah upon which they are reflected, they become evil creatures, called shells by the Qabbalists.

There are ten hierarchies of these demons to correlate with the ten hierarchies of good spirits composing the Yetziratic World.

There are:



In the above chart the dark line between X 3 and A 1 constitutes the boundary of the original dot, while the concentric circles within this heavier line symbolize the emanations and the worlds which came forth from the dot. As this dot is contained within the outer rings X 1, X 2, and X 3, and represents the first establishment of an individualized existence, so the lower universe symbolized by the forty concentric circles within the dot represents the lower creation evolved out of and yet contained within the nature of the first Crown, which may be called God, within whom the divine powers, the celestial beings the sidereal worlds, and man, live and move and have their being. It is highly important that all the rings within A 1 be considered as being enclosed by the primitive dot, which is itself encircled by the great ring X 1, or the Auric Egg of AIN SOPH.

Each ring includes with in its own nature all the rings within itself and is included within the natures of all the rings outside of itself. Thus, A 1--the primitive dot--controls and contains the thirty-nine rings which it encloses, all of these partaking of its nature in varying degrees according to their respective dignities. Consequently, the entire area from A 1 to D 10 inclusive is the original dot, and the rings symbolize the divisions which took place with in it and the emanations which poured out from it after its establishment in the midst of the abstract nature of AIN SOPH. The powers of the rings decrease towards the center of the diagram, for Power is measured by the number of things controlled, and each ring controls the rings within it and is controlled by the rings outside of it. Thus, while A 1 controls thirty-nine rings besides itself, B 1 controls only twenty-nine rings besides its own. Therefore, A 1 is more powerful than B 1. As the greatest spiritual solidity, or permanence, is at the circumference and the greatest material density, or impermanence, is at the center of the diagram, the rings as they decrease in Power become more material and substantial until the center sphere, D 10, symbolizes the actual chemical elements of the earth. The rates of vibration are also lower as the rings approach the center. Thus, the vibration of A 2 is lower than A 1 but higher than A 3, and so on in decreasing scale towards the center, A 1 being the highest and D 10 the lowest sphere of creation. While A 1, the ruler of creation, controls the circles marked A, B, C, and D, it is less than the three rings of AIN SOPH--X 1, X2, and X3--and therefore bows before the throne of the ineffable Creator from whose substances it was individualized.

also ten Archdemons, corresponding to the ten Archangels of Briah. The black magicians use these inverted spirits in their efforts to attain their nefarious ends, but in time the demon destroys those who bind themselves to it.

The ten orders of demons and the ten Archdemons of the World of Assiah are as follows:

The Qabbalists declare that the worlds, intelligences, and hierarchies were established according to the vision of Ezekiel.

By the man of Ezekiel's vision is symbolized the World of Atziluth; by the throne, the World of Briah; by the firmament, the World of Yetzirah; and by the living creatures the World of Assiah. These spheres are the wheels within wheels of the prophet. The Qabbalists next established a human figure in each of the four worlds: A 1 was the head and A 10 the feet of the man of Atziluth; B 1 was the head and B 10 the feet of the man of Briah; C 1 was the head and C 10 the feet of the man of Yetzirah; D 1 was the head and D 10 the feet of the man of Assiah. These four are called the World Men. They are considered androgynous and are the prototypes of humanity.

The human body, like that of the universe, is considered to be a material expression of ten globes or spheres of light.

Therefore man is called the Microcosm--the little world, built in the image of the great world of which he is a part. The Qabbalists also established a mysterious universal man with his head at A 1 and his feet at D 10. This is probably the secret significance of the great figure of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, with its head in the World of Atziluth, its arms and hands in the World of Briah, its generative system in the World of Yetzirah, and its legs and feet in the World of Assiah.

This is the Grand Man of the Zohar, of whom Eliphas Levi writes:

"It is not less astonishing to observe at the beginning of the Zohar the profundity of its notions and the sublime simplicity of its images. It is said as follows: 'The science of equilibrium is the key of occult science. Unbalanced forces perish in the void. So passed the kings of the elder world, the princes of the giants. They have fallen like trees without roots, and their place is found no more. Through the conflict of unbalanced forces, the devastated earth was void and formless, until the Spirit of God made for itself a place in heaven and reduced the mass of waters.

All the aspirations of Nature were directed then towards unity of form, towards the living synthesis (if equilibrated forces; the face of God, crowned with light, rose over the vast sea and was reflected in the waters thereof. His two eyes were manifested, radiating with splendour, darting two beams of light which crossed with those of the reflection. The brow of God and His eyes formed a triangle in heaven, and its reflection formed a second triangle in the waters. So was revealed the number six, being that of universal creation.'

The text, which would be unintelligible in a literal version, is translated here by way of interpretation. The author makes it plain that the human form which he ascribes to Deity is only an image of his meaning and that God is beyond expression by human thought or representation by any figure. Pascal said that God is a circle, of which the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere. But how is one to imagine a circle apart from its circumference?

The Zohar adopts the antithesis of this paradoxical image and in respect of the circle of Pascal would say rather that the circumference is everywhere, while that which is nowhere is the center. It is however to a balance and not to a circle that it compares the universal equilibrium of things. It affirms that equilibrium is everywhere and so also is the central point where the balance hangs in suspension. We find that the Zohar is thus more forcible and more profound than Pascal. * * * The Zohar is a genesis of light; the Sepher Yetzirah is a ladder of truth.

Therein are expounded the two-and-thirty absolute symbols of speech--being numbers and letters. Each letter produces a number, an idea and a form, so that mathematics are applicable to forms and ideas, even as to numbers, in virtue of an exact proportion, and a perfect correspondence. By the science of the Sepher Yetzirah, the human mind is rooted in truth and in reason; it accounts for all progress possible to intelligence by means of the evolution of numbers.

Thus does the Zohar represent absolute truth, while the Sepher Yetzirah furnishes the method of its acquisition, its discernment and application." (History of Magic.)

By placing man himself at the point D 10, his true constitution is revealed.

He exists upon four worlds, only one of which is visible. It is then made evident that his parts and members upon the material plane are, by analogy, hierarchies and intelligences in the higher worlds. Here, again, the law of interpenetration is evidenced. Although within man is the entire universe (the 43 spheres interpenetrating D 10), he is ignorant of its existence because he cannot exercise control over that which is superior to or greater than himself. Nevertheless, all these higher spheres exercise control over him, as his functions and activities demonstrate. If they did not, he would be an inert mass of substance. Death is merely the result of deflecting the life impulses of the higher rings away from the lower body.

The control of the transubstantial rings over their own material reflection is called life, and the spirit of man is, in reality, a name given to this great host of intelligences, which are focused upon substance through a point called the ego, established in the midst of themselves. X 1 is the outside boundary of the human Auric Egg, and the entire diagram becomes a cross section of the constitution of man, or a cross section of the Kosmic constitution, if correlated with the universe. By the secret culture of the Qabbalistic School, man is taught how to climb the rings (unfold his consciousness) until at last he returns to AIN SOPH. The process by which this is accomplished is called the Fifty Gates of Light. Kircher, the Jesuit Qabbalist, declares that Moses passed through forty-nine of the gates, but that Christ alone passed the fiftieth gate.

To the third edition of the Sepher Yetzirah translated from the Hebrew by Wm. Wynn Westcott are appended the Fifty Gates of Intelligence emanating from Binah, the second Sephira. The source of this information is Kircher's Œdipus Ægyptiacus. The gates are divided into six orders, of which the first four have each ten subdivisions, the fifth nine, and the sixth only one.

The first order of gates is termed Elementary and its divisions areas follows:

(1) Chaos, Hyle, the First Matter

(2) Formless, void, lifeless

(3) The Abyss

(4) Origin of the Elements

(5) Earth (no seed germs)

(6) Water

(7) Air

(8) Fire

(9) Differentiation of qualities

(10) Mixture and combination

The second order of gates is termed Decad of Evolution and its divisions areas follows:

(11) Minerals differentiate

(12) Vegetable principles appear

(13) Seeds germinate in moisture

(14) Herbs and Trees

(15) Fructification in vegetable life

(16) Origin of low forms of animal life

(17) Insects and Reptiles appear

(18) Fishes, vertebrate life in the waters

(19) Birds, vertebrate life in the air

(20) Quadrupeds, vertebrate earth animals

The third order of gates is termed Decad of Humanity and its divisions are as follows:

(21) Appearance of Man

(22) Material human body

(23) Human Soul conferred

(24) Mystery of Adam and Eve

(25) Complete Man as the Microcosm

(26) Gift of five human faces acting exteriorly

(27) Gift of five powers to the soul

(28) Adam Kadmon, the Heavenly Man

(29) Angelic beings

(30) Man in the image of God

The fourth order of gates is termed World of Spheres and its divisions are as follows:

(31) The Heaven of the Moon

(32) The Heaven of Mercury

(33) The Heaven of Venus

(34) The Heaven of the Sun

(35) The Heaven of Mars

(36) The Heaven of Jupiter

(37) The Heaven of Saturn

(38) The Firmament

(39) The Primum Mobile

(40) The Empyrean Heaven

The fifth order of gates is termed The Angelic World and its divisions are as follows:

(41) Ishim--Sons of Fire

(42) Orphanim--Cherubim

(43) Aralim--Thrones

(44) Chashmalim--Dominions

(45) Seraphim--Virtues

(46) Melachim--Powers

(47) Elohim--Principalities

(48) Ben Elohim--Angels

(49) Cherubim--Archangels

[The order of the Angels is a matter of controversy, the arrangement above differing from that accepted in other sections of this volume. The Rabbins disagree fundamentally as to the proper sequence of the Angelic names.]

The sixth order is termed The Archetype and consists of but one gate:

(50) God, AIN SOPH, He whom no mortal eye hath seen

The fiftieth gate leads from creation into the Creative Principle and he who passes through it returns into the unlimited and undifferentiated condition of ALL.

The fifty gates reveal a certain evolutionary process and it was declared by the Rabbins that he who would attain to the highest degree of understanding must pass sequentially through all of these orders of life, each of which constituted a gate in that the spirit, passing from the lower to the higher, found in each more responsive organism new avenues of self-expression.

Next: The Tree of the Sephiroth