Yep, that’s what was the chart below from.
It’s a while I’ve been reading about hermetism, then last week I watch the second episode of Fullmetal Alchemist and at some point they show an image of the tree of life (1, 2, 3). I decided that I wanted to know the meaning of it. Not just a general sense about what it is about, but all the symbols and writings on it. So, starting from the wikipedia, I went looking for all kinds of infos I could find, but as always on the internet, it’s easy to get lost.
The first intent was to look into bookshops to find the most complete and deep book about Kabbalah I could find. I’m not interested on the “practical” rituals and meditations that are popular nowadays, nor the most religious aspects. I wanted to read about the myths, the symbols, their meaning. I wanted to recognize words and symbol, know what they mean.
The problem is that on amazon and other book shops the majority of the material seems composed of short books (150-200 pages) that deal with some specific aspects. I wanted instead some kind of full guide that I could use as a reference every time I read about something, something exhaustive. I even tried asking on the forums to see if someone could give me hints, and discovered that it is quite popular. Many recommend books by Gershom Scholem (such as “Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism”) but I was worried that these academic works only gave historical notions but nothing really about the Kaballah itself, its meaning and mythology.
So I started looking for less orthodox books, like the tradition of the Golden Dawn. It seems that western occultism is a messy mixture of Kabbalah (the spiritual aspects) and Medieval traditions (the magical and ritualistic aspects). If you want to look for “authenticity” then the Golden Dawn is the worst starting point as possible. They put everything together and then interpret and transform things their own way. Too much made-up stuff and not enough with some kind of value. But for me they could be useful, I was just looking for the mythology and the Golden Dawn filtered all the deep religious aspects only to save the mystical and mythical ones. Problem is that only 1/5 of the books I could find was about “theory”, with the rest filled with weird magical rites and celebrations, magic formulas etc… Since I’m not going to try to evoke Cthulhu all those pages wasted on rituals were useless to me. I’m interested in the meaning of them, and what they are based on, not to know a list of instructions to do this and that.
Thanks to the internet I could delve into the books and make a better choice before I purchase something. From the occultist side I found a huge torrent that has a majority of the texts I was looking for (Israel Regardie, Waite, Eliphas Levi, Crowley and a bunch of other books on the Kabbalah). Without wasting money now I can see if there’s something in there that isn’t bullshit and is worth purchasing.
But it’s from the more authentic side that I found the most interesting material. To begin with I was looking at this textbook. It seemed big enough to be complete, then I discovered that the whole book was available through that “google preview” button. Not just a few pages, all 800+ of them. If you quickly scroll to the last pages and then move up, you can find a number of insane charts like the one I copied below. That was some interesting and fascinating stuff. The more cryptic, the more curious and intrigued I am. The same way I wanted to understand the tree of life, now I wanted to understand those charts.
Later I discover that the book is published by an association in Israel. Through their site their WHOLE literary production is available for free. Included the whole 800+ pages textbook with the crazy diagram available as a pdf download. Hooray! That is more material that I could ever hope to find. And it’s not all. This association gives free online courses. There are free downloads of the videos of the lesson in Hebrew, that are then translated in different languages, along all the material that you are supposed to use, like other books and manuals. Moreover, all the 10.000 video lessons they gave up to this point are archived and available again as free download.
The new course started yesterday and you could skip registering just by knowing the right link.
I have all I need (and more), now I only have to find the time :)