In January, the Portland Scottish Rite Valley started a monthly club night. I came up with an idea for a club to study Hermetic Qabalah as it’s presented in Morals & Dogma and the Scottish Rite degrees. This has been an incredible learning experience for me.
Why Hermetic Qabalah?
Even though Pike was greatly interested in Isaac Luria’s traditional Kabbalah,1 he drew heavily from the works of Eliphas Levi.2 This made me think that focusing on Hermetic Qabalah rather than traditional Jewish Kabbalah would be a lot easier. My goal was to introduce the club to Qabalah gently.
To this end, we started by reading through The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford by Lon Milo DuQuette. This ended up being a really good choice. I supplemented this with simple meditations, some of which I adapted from Meditation and Kabbalah by Aryeh Kaplan. I also introduced a meditation technique outlined by Jay Michaelson on his website. We worked through The Chicken Qabalah over a number of months and had some great discussions.
Learning Through Teaching
While I’ve studied Qabalah for nearly 20 years, it has not been my primary focus for quite some time. I really had to brush up on it in order to lead discussions. I discovered that Qabalah is really hard to talk about. Explaining ideas like the Four Worlds and emanation is confusing. This forced me to really put my thoughts in order and I think it led to new understanding on my part.
It’s been an interesting challenge blending Jewish Kabbalah with Hermetic Qabalah for beginners to understand. It really fits into the quote at the beginning of The Chicken Qabalah, which states that this form of study is
[…] for dilettantes […] who pretentiously consider themselves Hermetic Qabalists but who are nonetheless serious about utilizing a tiny portion of the Hebrew Qabalah [sic.] for spiritual enlightenment.
It’s been an interesting journey. It is definitely true that you learn a lot about a subject by teaching it, and I look forward to deepening my understanding as Qabalah Qlub progresses. We have since finished The Chicken Qabalah and are moving on to Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune.