Monday, May 7, 2012

A Note on Qabalistic Interpretation

Modern day practitioners of Qabalah recognizes it as a Relatavistic, not an Absolute system.  Numbers, themselves, don't have an absolute specific meaning.  Effective use of Qabalah works along the lines of what  in quantum physics they call the "Observer Created Universe," meaning in this case, that qabalistic reception is all a matter of interpretation. Everyone builds their own Tree of Life.  It's an individualized system based on a generalized framework that stimulates and encourages spiritual and psychic growth.   Qabalah can help to make contact with the guide that Thelemites call the Holy Guardian Angel.  The numbers and images don't mean anything intrinsically, it's all a matter of how you choose to interpret them.  The same number can have a completely opposite meaning used in another context resulting in a different interpretation.  The fourth line in the Book of the Law makes it clear:

4. Every number is infinite; there is no difference. 

Infinite, meaning that it can have an infinite number of interpretations ... well, that's my interpretation.  Recognizing it as an interpretation and not an objective fact keeps one flexible in regards to certainty.  You can always change your interpretation with more information, and in qabalah, you often do.

 The same image, or qabalistic reference key, can have widely varying meanings in different contexts.  A good example is the use of the Tiphareth image Robert Anton Wilson begins both Illuminatus! and all 3 books of Schrodinger's Cat with.  Because of the context he places it in in Schrodinger's Cat, that same Tiphareth image communicates something much different.  Wilson, a Master in the Thelemic system,  appeared to make these two literary qabalistic masterpieces isomorphic with the two great "crises" in the Thelemic system.  Illuminatus!, on one level, instructs and guides toward the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, while Schrodinger's Cat tackles the "crossing of the abyss."

Since Qabalistic reception is a matter of interpretation, it's possible and quite likely that the same piece of information will get interpreted differently over time as the student's understanding grows and develops.  Aleister Crowley makes this point quite clear in the 6th Chapter of the Book of Lies:


    The Word was uttered: the One exploded into one
      thousand million worlds.
    Each world contained a thousand million spheres.
    Each sphere contained a thousand million planes.
    Each plane contained a thousand million stars.
    Each star contained a many thousand million things.
    Of these the reasoner took six, and, preening, said:
      This is the One and the All.
    These six the Adept harmonised, and said: This is the
      Heart of the One and the All.
    These six were destroyed by the Master of the
      Temple; and he spake not.
    The Ash thereof was burnt up by the Magus into
      The Word.
    Of all this did the Ipsissimus know Nothing.


 COMMENTARY ({Digamma})

      This chapter is presumably called Caviar because
    that substance is composed of many spheres.
      The account given of Creation is the same as that
    familiar to students of the Christian tradition, the
    Logos transforming the unity into the many.
      We then see what different classes of people do with
    the many.
      The Rationalist takes the six Sephiroth of Micro-
    prosopus in a crude state, and declares them to be the
    universe.  This folly is due to the pride of reason.
      The Adept concentrates the Microcosm in Tiphareth,
    recognising an Unity, even in the microcosm, but, qua
    Adept, he can go no further.
      The Master of the Temple destroys all these illusions,
    but remains silent.  See the description of his functions
    in the Equinox, Liber 418 and elsewhere.
      In the next grade, the Word is re-formulated, for the
    Magus in Chokmah, the Dyad, the Logos.
      The Ipsissimus, in the highest grade of the A.'.A.'.,
    is totally unconscious of this process, or, it might be
    better to say, he recognises it as Nothing, in that positive
    sense of the word, which is only intelligible in

One understands only what one is able to understand.  This point looks obvious to people in the habit of rereading information rich books.  You pick up so much more the second and third time through a particular book because you've had the education of already reading it once.  I used to read futurist visionary Buckminster Fuller's books when I had insomnia because the difficulty of the language would put me right out before too long.  One night I was reading, not falling asleep, when I realized, " holy omnidirectional multi-valent vector coordinates, Batman!!"  I can actually understand what this guy is writing about!  I heard this theory, I think it may have been from Leary, that your brain educates itself to the syntax of a new writer even if the conscious mind doesn't comprehend the writing.  So I suggest to people daunted by and wishing to explore such linguistically labyrinthine works as Finnegans Wake that they read it even if they understand very little.  It seems that an unconscious learning process goes on in the brain that will make it easier to comprehend the next time through. 

Keeping track of how you choose to make the interpretations you do provides a kind of mirror into the subconscious mind.  With a multiplicity of interpretations available for any given number or image, why do you choose to make any one particular interpretation?  You will notice patterns emerge that can indicate belief systems and habits of thought or emotion previously buried.  Keeping a diary, a journal, or a laboratory log is encouraged for this reason.  It's all part of the process to "know thyself."

How do you decide if an interpretation is relevant or accurate?  That's an individual decision.  I'm very utilitarian about it - does it communicate or have any practical application for my work or mission in life?  If so, then I regard the information as possibly relevant.  If not, then it's useless to me and passed over.  Sometimes I just don't know so I'll note it for future reference if it seems promising.  The whole qabalistic process has the side effect of training the intuition, a higher cognitive facility  we are normally conditioned to reject.

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