THE MYSTICAL QABALAH
By Dion Fortune
Dion Fortune's classic, The Mystical Qabalah, explores all aspects of the Qabalah, including the esoteric sciences of astrology and tarot, which form the basis of the Western Mystery Traditions. It provides a key to the practical working of this mystical system for both novice and initiate alike.
Very few students of occultism know anything at all about the fountain-head whence their tradition springs. Many of them do not even know there is a Western Tradition. Scholarship is baffled by the intentional blinds and defences with which initiates both ancient and modern have wrapped themselves about, and concludes that the few fragments of a literature which have come down to us are medieval forgeries. They would be greatly surprised if they knew that these fragments, supplemented by manuscripts that have never been allowed to pass out of the hands of initiates, and completed by an oral tradition, are handed down in schools of initiation to this day, and are used as the bases of the practical work of the Yoga of the West.
The adepts of those races whose evolutionary destiny is to conquer the physical plane have evolved a Yoga technique of their own which is adapted to their special problems and peculiar needs. This technique is based upon the well-known but little understood Qabalah, the Wisdom of Israel.
It may be asked why it is that the Western nations should go to the Hebrew culture for their mystical tradition? The answer to this question will be readily understood by those who are acquainted with the esoteric theory concerning races and sub-races. Everything must have a source. Cultures do not spring out of nothing. The seed-bearers of each new phase of culture must of necessity arise within the preceding culture. No one can deny that Judaism was the matrix of the European spiritual culture when they recall the fact that Jesus and Paul were both Jews. No race except the Jewish race could possibly have served as the stock upon which the new dispensation was to be grafted because no other race was monotheistic. Pantheism and polytheism had had their day and a new and more spiritual culture was due. The Christian races owe their religion to the Jewish culture as surely as the Buddhist races of the East owe theirs to the Hindu culture.
The mysticism of Israel supplies the foundation of modern Western occultism. It forms the theoretical basis upon which all ceremonial is developed. Its famous glyph, the Tree of Life, is the best meditation symbol we possess because it is the most comprehensive.
It is not my intention to write a historical study of the sources of the Qabalah, but rather to show the uses that are made of it by modern students of the Mysteries. For although the roots of our system are in tradition, there is no reason why we should be hidebound by tradition. A technique that is being actually practised is a growing thing, for the experience of each worker enriches it and becomes part of the common heritage.
It is not necessarily incumbent upon us to do certain things or hold certain ideas because the Rabbis who lived before Christ had certain views. The world has moved on since those days and we are under a new dispensation but what was true in principle then will be true in principle now, and of value to us. The modern Qabalist is the heir of the ancient Qabalist, but he must reinterpret doctrine and reformulate method in the light of the present dispensation if the heritage he has received is to be of any practical value to him. 7. I do not claim that the modern Qabalistic teachings as I have learnt them are identical with those of the pre-Christian Rabbis, but I claim that they are the legitimate descendants thereof and the natural development therefrom.
The nearer the source the purer the stream. In order to discover first principles we must go to the fountain-head. But a river receives many tributaries in the course of its flow, and these need not necessarily be polluted. If we want to discover whether they are pure or not, we compare them with the pristine stream, and if they pass this test they may well be permitted to mingle with the main body of waters and swell their strength. So it is with a tradition: that which is not antagonistic will be assimilated. We must always test the purity of a tradition by reference to first principles, but we shall equally judge of the vitality of a tradition by its power to assimilate. It is only a dead faith which remains uninfluenced by contemporary thought.
The original stream of Hebraic mysticism has received many tributaries. We see its rise among the nomad star-worshippers of Chaldea, where Abraham in his tent among his flocks hears the voice of God. But Abraham has a shadowy background in which vast forms move half-seen. The mysterious figure of a great priest-king, “born without father, without mother, without descent; having neither beginning of days nor end of life,” administers to him the first Eucharistic feast of bread and wine after the battle with the Kings in the valley, the sinister Kings of Edom, “who ruled ere there was a king in Israel, whose kingdoms are unbalanced force.”
Generation by generation we trace the intercourse of the princes of Israel with the priest-kings of Egypt. Abraham and Jacob went thither; Joseph and Moses were intimately associated with the court of the royal adepts. When we read of Solomon sending to Hiram, King of Tyre, for men materials to aid in the building of the Temple we know that the famous Tyrian Mysteries must have profoundly influenced the Hebrew esotericism. When we read of Daniel being educated in the palaces of Babylon we know that the wisdom of the Magi must have been accessible to Hebrew illuminati.
This ancient mystical tradition of the Hebrews possessed three literatures: the Books of the Law and the Prophets, which are known to us as the Old Testament; the Talmud, or collection of learned commentaries thereon; and the Qabalah, or mystical interpretation thereof. Of these three the ancient Rabbis say that the first is the body of the tradition, the second its rational soul, and the third its immortal spirit. Ignorant men may with profit read the first; learned men study the second; but the wise meditate upon the third. It is a strange thing that Christian exegesis has never sought the keys to the Old Testament in the Qabalah.
File size (Digital (477KB)
Biography included (Yes)
Page count (8.5x11) (250)
Font size (12pt)
Working table of contents (Yes)
Originally published (1935)