Albert Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry devotes almost three pages to the Kabbalah, noting “It has sometimes been used in an enlarged sense, as comprehending all the explanations, maxims, and ceremonies which have been traditionally handed down to the Jews; but in that more limited acceptation, in which it is intimately connected with the symbolic science of Freemasonry, the Cabala may be defined to be a system of philosophy which embraces certain mystical interpretations of Scripture, and metaphysical and spiritual beings.”
Johannes Buxtorf in his book titled “Lexicon Hebraicum et Chaldaicum*censored*brevi Lexico Rabbinico Philosophico”(Lexicon of the Talmud) defines the Kabbalah to be “a secret science, which treats in a mystical and enigmatic manner of things divine, angelical, theological, celestial, and metaphysical; the subjects being enveloped in striking symbols and secret modes of teaching. Much use is made of it in the advanced degrees, and entire Rites have been constructed on its principles. Hence it demands a place in any general work on Freemasonry.”
Practical Kabbalah has its ancient roots in the “Thirteen Enochian Keys” of Enoch son of Qain, along with a highly eclectic admixture of material taken from Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and other non-Hebrew sources. The “Thirteen Enochian Keys” of Enoch son of Qain are reflected in such works as The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, the Greater and Lesser Keys of Solomon, and mediaeval grimoires such as the Armadel, Goetia/Lemegeton, etc.
The primary text of the mystical Kabbalah that appears to occupy a central place of importance in the hermetic Kabbalah is the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation). The two most prominent contemporary schools of Practical or Hermetic Kabbalah are the Golden Dawn and the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.).
The bulk of the mainstream orthodox Jewish Kabbalists focus primarily on the Sefer HaZohar (Book of Splendor) and the Etz HaChayyim (Tree of Life). They engage in practices of spiritual refinement (avodah) and meditation (devekut, “cleaving to God”) gleaned from the writings left by Abraham Abulafia, Azriel of Gerona (disciple of Yitza’aq the Blind), Chayyim Vital (recorder of the teachings of Yitza’aq Luria), Dov Baer (Mezhirecher Maggid and successor to Israel ben Eliezer), Nachman of Bretzlav, and others.
These practices include a variety of visualization techniques, breathing exercises, movements coordinated with the permutation and combination of Hebrew letters, mantric intonation of sacred phrases, meditative prayer, and chanting devotional songs.
The Theoretical Kabbalah is divided into the Dogmatic, which is a summary of rabbinical theosophy and philosophy, and the Literal, which teaches a mystical mode of explaining sacred things by assigning numerical values to the letters of words.
The Literal Cabala ~ divided into Gematria, Notaricon, and Temura ~ was made use of in the writing of what Mackey termed the “Advanced” degrees of Freemasonry. These more properly should be termed the additional degrees of concordant masonic bodies.
The Kabbalah plays no role in Regular craft Freemasonry.History of the Kabbalah
After the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem (70 CE), many Jews who relocated to Egypt were influenced by the Alexandrian Pythagoreans. Jewish leaders and intellectuals such as Artapanos, Philon the Alexandrian, the historian Josephus Flavius, the Hasmoneans, Johanan Hurcanus, Alexander Jannean, Hanoch, Hillel, Johanan ben-Zakkai, and others were central figures of this spiritual-scientific development.
The esoteric Jewish theosophy, or religious mystic philosophy, developed from about this time. In the absence of a central spiritual leadership, under foreign and hostile rule, some regional Jewish schools developed into sects such as the Essenes, Nazarenes, Pharisees, and Sadducees.
The Jewish Kabbalah reached its peak during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, arguably responsible for the development of both science and mysticism in Europe. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries the greatest contributions to science were made by Jewish scholars, especially in Spain. Names known from religious sources as “Rabbis” and “Kabbalists”, are known in history books of mathematics and science as outstanding inventors and developers.
A distinctly Christian Cabala may be said to have started with the work of Ramon Lull (1232-1317) during a period of religious tolerance in Spain. Starting in the late fifteenth century CE, a movement arose among some Jewish converts to Christianity in Spain to ascribe a distinctly Christian context to the hidden meanings of Kabbalistic doctrines. This movement gained momentum from speculation among Florentine Platonists that the Kabbalah contained a lost revelation that explains the secrets of the Catholic faith.
This cross-pollination led to the emergence of a distinctly Christian Cabala founded by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494). Pico saw in the Cabala a link to the Greek philosophers as well as a proof of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Pico’s writings, and subsequently those of John Reuchlin (1455-1522), created an interest that spread throughout the intellectual European community.
In the sixteenth century, the appearance of Kabbalistic texts in Latin translation enhanced attempts to draw further parallels between esoteric Jewish doctrines and Christianity.
Guillaume Postel translated and published the Zohar and Sefer Yetzirah into Latin even before they were published in Hebrew. Latin texts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were influential in standardizing “Cabala” as the spelling commonly associated with the Christian perspective on Kabbalistic teachings.
In the seventeenth century, the centre of Christian Cabala study moved to England and Germany, where its status was boosted by the theosophical writings of Jacob Boehme and the compendium of Christian Knorr von Rosenroth. Von Rosenroth and Athanasius Kirchner extrapolated the Cabalistic allusion of Adam Kadmon to be a reference to Jesus as the primordial man in Christian theology.
In the final phase in the development of the Christian Cabala in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it became permeated with alchemical symbolism and conjoined with the emerging doctrines of theosophy and Rosicrucianism. Those who believe Freemasonry’s roots are found in Rosicrucian and hermetic teachings will therefore see the influence of the Kabbalah in its development.
Claims and accusations or is it reality?
There are two different, perspectives about the Kabbalistic roots for Freemasonry. The first being religious people condemning Freemasonry, Judaism, and the Kabbalah as being anti-Christian and often equate the whole with satanism. “Freemasonry and the New World Order are Nazism revived.” ; “…that one key ritual in freemasonry involves drinking from human skulls….” ; and “Freemasonry is the instrument created to carry out this return to paganism.”
Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma: “all the Masonic associations owe to it their Secrets and their Symbols.” and claim that Freemasonry is divided into two branches. “There is the branch of the Scottish Rite and the branch of the Shriners. Scottish Freemasonry is the Christian branch while the Shriners are actually the Islamic branch.”
The second is composed of Freemasons and kabbalists who promote the theory of Freemasonry’s link to the Kabbalah. They are entitled to their opinions, but it must be stressed that they do not speak for Freemasonry. They are only expressing their opinions. They view the study of both as enhancing their relationship with God.
Interesting Quotes from Kabbalah Sources
The Following is a list of quotes from various Kabbalah based books. They are listed so you can get a “feel” for its mystical perspective and gain insight into some of the attitudes and ideas that people learn from studying Kabbalah.
1. “… the Zohar suggests that souls are “patterned” like bodies. It says: ‘as the body is formed in this world from the combination of four elements, the spirit is formed in the garden [of Eden] from the combination of the four winds. The spirit is enveloped there in the impress of the body’s shape. If it were not for the four winds, which are the heirs of the garden, the spirit would not have been clothed (given shape) at all.” (Cooper, David A., God is a Verb. New York, New York: Riverhead Brooks, 1997, p. 113, brackets are in the original)
2. “…we are connected via our souls to the source of creation, and we can transform the flow of creation.” (Cooper, David A., God is a Verb. New York, New York: Riverhead Brooks, 1997, p. 121.)
3. “Cabalists teaches at the moon is the mystical vessel in which souls are gathered before they are released to the world. The moon in Kabbalah represents receptivity… the mystical implication is that souls are influenced by the phase of the moon when they become associated with bodies, each having different levels of expansiveness or contracted this… we would say that this describes why some of us are more extroverted while others are more introverted…”(Cooper, David A., God is a Verb. New York, New York: Riverhead Brooks, 1997, p. 113, 128.
4. “The cabalists teach that everything we do stirs up a corresponding energy in other realms of reality. Actions, words, or thoughts set up reverberations in the universe.” (Cooper, David A., God is a Verb. New York, New York: Riverhead Brooks, 1997, p. 132.)
5. “In physical reality, every move we make is dependent upon electromagnetic energy. In the metaphysical realm, rather than call this energy electromagnetic, we could call it angelic- demonic. Every move they make is supported by an angel or demon. Moreover, everything we do creates new angels and demons… the metaphysical magnets associated with the God realms are called angels, and those with the satanic realms are called demons.” (Cooper, David A., God is a Verb. New York, New York: Riverhead Brooks, 1997, p. 134.)
6. “From noon until midnight, the sun appears to be declining, which means that the power of loving kindness is waning. When the sun reaches its lowest ebb, the time in which the energy of darkness is strongest, accusing angels have their greatest power. The Kabbalist says that this point is the darkest of the night, the moment when restriction and judgment are at their full power. If we were abandoned in the mystical midnight of creation, we would disappear.” (Cooper, David A., God is a Verb. New York, New York: Riverhead Brooks, 1997, p. 142.)
7. “Angelic and demonic energies are not independent and self-sufficient, but are parts of the system of the universal ebb and flow.” (Cooper, David A., God is a Verb. New York, New York: Riverhead Brooks, 1997, p. 143.)
8. “When we call upon angels to be with us, we And two on infinite resource of goodwill. It is as if we plugged into the magnetic core of the earth to keep ourselves centered. Archangels represent the God-center of the universe they draw nourishment from Its infinite supply.” (Cooper, David A., God is a Verb. New York, New York: Riverhead Brooks, 1997, p. 144.)
9. “the lower, earthly human being and the upper, mystical human being, in which the Godhead is manifested as shape, belong together and are unthinkable without one another.” (secret doctrine, p. 66)
10. “This manual [of Kabbalah] will prepare one to hear the words of G-d, see authentic visions, smell the Supernal beauty, touch his/her Grace, and taste the delights of Eden.” http://home.utah.edu/~rfs4/jkm.htm
11. “As Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdicheve said, ‘At every instant, all universes received existence and sustenance from God. It is human beings, however, who motivate this sustenance and transmit it to all worlds. When a person nullifies the sense of self completely and thereby attaches Thought to Nothingness, then a new sustenance flows to all universes.” (Cooper, David A., God is a Verb. New York, New York: Riverhead Brooks, 1997, p. 224.)
12. “our day-to-day actions, words, and thoughts continuously affect our sense of harmony with the universe.” (God is a verb, p 248)
13. “…there are five levels of the soul. The higher levels, neshama, chayah, and yehida, function in a way that they cannot be directly affected by what a person does to his or her consciousness. however, they are indirectly affected by the states of the nefesh and ruach. after death, the higher levels of the soul will return to their home “regions,” but they must await the redemption of the nefesh before finally resting in their natural state. If the nefesh does not get redeemed, the ruach cannot be “crown” in the lower Garden of Eden. (God is a verb, p. 262)
14. “The teachings of reincarnation are of value when we have nowhere else to turn in the tragedy of the death.” (God is a verb, p. 266)
The Zohar is one of the most important texts, if not the most important in Kabbalah. The Zohar is not a single book. Instead it is allegedly a 2nd century A.D. collection of Aramaic writings from various Kabbalists that is a commentary on the Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy with some commentary on the song of songs, also known as the song of Solomon.
Its interpretations of the Torah are highly mystical and subjective and often in contradiction to what the Torah reveals. it seeks to explain as well as the video the relationship between God and man. But, the book is generally believed to have been authored by a 13th Century Jewish mystic named Moses De Leon (1250-1305) partly because it was never mentioned in the Talmud (a collection of commentaries used to explain the the oral law concerning the first five books of the Old Testament).
Additions were added to the Zohar in the 14th century. The Zohar is also said to have special powers which followers can benefit from by running a finger over the text as if reading Braille.1 Of course, Christians reject such a claim and recognized the Zohar as a non-biblical, mystical piece of literature often in contradiction to the Bible. Please consider this quote.
“The Zohar discusses the universe, as a whole, in far broader terms than merely the physical universe. Indeed, the physical universe, as vast as it may be, is dwarfed in comparison with the mystical universe that embraces angelic and demonic realms. Whereas the physical universe is measured in time and distance, the mystical universe is measured in terms of levels of awareness. These levels should not be viewed as separate boundaries, for awareness is a continuum.”
Notice the ambiguity and non-falsifiability of a the comments. How do you verify what is said about the mystical universe? You can’t. But that doesn’t stop the Zohar from saying even more about creation.
“The Zohar says,’ to create the world, It (Ein Sof, Infinite Nothingness) emanated a secret spark (awareness) from which emerged and radiated all light. The upper world was constituted of this light. Then a [different dimension of] light, a light without brightness (lower consciousness), was fashioned into the lower world. As it is composed of unilluminated light, the lower world is attracted to the upper world.”
Its scope of teaching seems to include predictions of the coming Messiah. Apparently, the Zohar predicted the return of the Messiah in 1648 which was fulfilled in Shabbetai Zvi from Smyrna in Asia Minor. He gathered many followers, so much so that the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire thought that he must be stopped. He captured Sabbettai and subsequently He converted to Islam. like other Donma Jews (the Donma Jewish Sect:Jewish converts who pretended to be Muslims and carried Turkish names and formed the “Committee of Union and Progress ”, also known as the “Young Turks”.) later on spawned Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Founder of the Turkish Republic
Consider these representative quotes from the Zohar.
* “Zohar I 51b-52a: “the beings on high are all of the same illumination, being of celestial essence, whereas the beings below are of a different essence. They (the lower) are to this illumination (the higher) as the candle is to the flame….The light and the shadows are the only elements which form air and water…On leaving its source, the light divides into 75 channels directed toward the material world…Below these channels there are 375 trenches…These trenches are divided into 17 classes, of which each presents the shape of a chain-net…Such is the vision of this area of space which forms seven different colors. These seven colors constitute the supreme mystery…Seven other lights are divided into seven seas, which together amount to one giant sea. This last is the supreme sea where seven others are concentrated….” *
“This end of heaven is called Who. There is another below, called What. What distinguishes the two? The first, concealed one-called Who-can be questioned. Once a human being questions and searches, contemplating and knowing rung after rung to the very last rung ~ once one reaches there: What? What do you know? What have you contemplated? Or what have you searched? All this concealed, as before.” *
“When Concealed of all Concealed emerged on being revealed, it produced at first a single point, which ascended to become thought. within, it drew all drawings, grave to all and ravings, carving within the conceal the holy lamp a graving of one hidden design, only of holies, a deep structure emerging from fat, called Mi, Who, origin of structure. existent and nonexistent, deep and hidden, called by no name but Who. Seeking to be revealed, to be named, it garbed itself in a splendid, radiant garment and created (elleh), these. Elleh attained the name: these letters joined with those, culminating in the name Elohim.”
William Cooper & his Death
In this short Clip Cooper emphasizes that the origins of all secret societies is Kabbalah.