Finding the Inner Messiah
This chaos working is based off the Orthodox work Isaac Luria and the heretical work of Nathan of Gaza. A heavy emphasis has been placed on the
explanation given by Nathan of Gaza's students about the conversion of Sabbatai Zevi.
To fully explain this working, certain aspects of creation according to the Lurianic School need to be explained; as well as the "descent" of the Messiah, Sabbatai Zevi, into the darkness as described by Nathan of Gaza's students; and the application of this mythic drama to the Chaote's self.
When God created the universe, He first had to create the void in which the universe could be created. To do this, En Sof, who was all and everywhere, made the decision to limit Himself. This is the
initial act of creation: Tsimtsum. Tsimtsum literally means "concentration" or "contraction", but is perhaps better translated as
"withdrawal" or "retreat" in this instance, for rather than being a concentration at a single point, it is a retreat from a point.
It is important to note that until Luria, creation had been conceived as an act of
projection. Luria shows that, as all is God, there is nothing to project into.
This retreat creates a void within En Sof called tehiru, making the creation of things that are "not God" possible. Tehiru is a sort of pneumatic, primordial space in which creation begins. Within it are only two things:
judgment, and the residue of God's light.
The act of creation itself is an act by a certain portion of God. The limitation itself is an awakening of Din, God's "stern
judgment". Din is one of the Sephirot. In the tsimtsum, all judgment
is concentrated into the tehiru when it is left behind, unrecognized by En Sof, when En Sof withdraws.
Judgment is crystallized, the only thing in this void to begin with, and so becomes absolute. In this way, God's
judgment contains the seeds of evil.
In creating these seeds of evil, we can see the beginning of a process of gradual purification of God Himself, in which evil is purged from His being. Luria never fully explains this point, but it is enough to say that evil is a direct result of God's limitation of himself, an act of
judgment, and it is "stern judgment" that first fills the tehiru, for it is left behind when En Sof retreats.
Perhaps the most in-depth we can get on why this occurs is because evil is the "dead" portions of En Sof. It is likened to the "bark" on the Tree of Life. It is, in fact, compared to the bark of a tree, which is considered the vital "dead" portion of the tree that protects the far more vital "living" portion of the tree. Evil, thus, is pre-ordained, having a reality all its own. This evil remains dead unless it is quickened by the light, however faint, of God and his holiness, or because the sin of man nourishes it. It is this "bark" that forms kelipah.
The kelipah (or kelipot for plural) basically means "bark" or "shell". The kelipot are created at the time
judgment is left behind in the tehiru. The "vessels" mentioned later will be formed from kelipah. The kelipah mixes with the residue (reshimu) God has left behind when he withdrew (for En Sof's presence was never fully removed. These two things, the
judgment and the residue, are mixed together and ordered by God's mercy, which emanates
from God, the second action of En Sof, into tehiru.
In the flood of God's mercy, the judgment is dissolved into the ocean of God's compassion, which allows it to mix with the residue and become ordered. The hidden
judgment and the divine residue are crystallized into kelipah.
Constantly the act of tsimtsum is re-enacted, and constantly does the light of God flow back into tehiru. This constant mixing of new light and residue from previous
emanation begins to cause a tension, and all things created include this tension.
Out of this creation also arises the primordial man, Adam Kadmon. His structure is determined by the structure of the sephirot. Within him, he can hold the light of the sephirot, and the light
emanates from his ears, mouth, and nose produces various states of being, meditations, and inner worlds. Adam Kadmon is designed as the creator God, and the plan for creation is to take the light that comes from his eyes and pour it out into the finite beings that are created. To do this, vessels are created from the kelipah and the reshimu to hold the light from Adam Kadmon's eyes (for a finite being may not hold the lights of the sephirot, but must contain it in something infinite), which has a different quality than the light that comes from his
nose, mouth, and ears.
The vessels, though infinite, were not strong enough to hold the strange, refracted light that
emanated from the eyes of Adam Kadmon. The first three held, but the last seven did not. They shattered into pieces, and this is known as "Shevirath Ha-Kelim" -- "The Shattering of the Vessels."
The light returns upward, to En Sof, but some residue remains on the pieces of the vessels, which shatter all over tehiru. A number of pieces of these vessels, the heaviest and unassimilable, fall into the darkness far below. Luria informs us that it is 288 pieces which fall into the darkness and become encased in the kelipot, the "shells" of darkness in which the good elements of the divine mix with the vicious ones.
The fragments themselves created the "depth of the great abyss" in which the "spirit of evil" dwells. Luria tells us that the
bowls had to shatter in order that the fragments could fulfill their function, much as a seed must sprout. The function appears to be to define evil from good. Again, we see that this is
partially a process to clarify the distinction between good and evil, the dead and the luminous.
It is restoration of these fragments that is our secret purpose in this existence. Salvation is restitution, reintegration into the original whole. This state of reintegration is called tikkun. Tikkun may only occur after restoration, after the original harmony has been restored, and when everything occupies its correct and original place in the divine conception of things. When tikkun occurs, "God will be one and His name be one."
Luria's students list three methods for restoration: Torah; prayer; and mitswoth, religious acts commanded by the Torah. Restoration itself is tikkun, and the experience of redemption is geulah.
Now we know how the world reached it's current state, as well as an idea of how to fix it. Now, what part does the Messiah play?
Sabbatai Zevi was the Messiah. At least, that's what a good number of Jews believed until 1666 AD. Even today, you can find a few Sabbataians here and there, but they are very rare indeed. There is a reason that you probably haven't heard of him. A quick rundown of his life makes it pretty obvious why this is.
Sabbatai Zevi declared himself the Messiah of Gaza in 1665. No one really expected this, for Sabbatai was a very sick man, physically and mentally. It's possible that his mental sickness actually made it more likely that he would be accepted as a the Messiah: he was manic-depressive. This seemed, to many people, to prove that he was, indeed, the Messiah.
As an example of the why this made him so attractive for this role, Samuel Gandor tells us the following about
It is said of Sabbatai Zevi that for fifteen years he has been bowed down by the following affliction: he is pursued by a sense of depression which leaves him no quiet moment and does not even permit him to read, without his being able to say what is the nature of this sadness which has come upon him. Thus he endures until the depression departs from the
spirit, when he returns with great joy to his studies. And for many years already he has suffered from this illness, and no doctor has found a remedy for it, but it is one of the sufferings which are inflicted by Heaven.
Obviously he is depressive, but similar accounts discuss his sudden manic excitement as well. He often swings from depression to mania, and writings actually refer to alternating states of "illumination" and "fall". When he is manic, though, he does things that are counter to religious law.
Of course, a biography of Sabbatai is rather off topic. Suffice it to say that he declared himself Messiah in 1665 when one Nathan of Gaza wrote that he had been illuminated by an angel of the Lord, and the Messiah was, indeed, at hand. And a very large number of Jews from all over the world believed in him as the Messiah.
The Sabbatian movement was shocking in terms of the number of people who converted to it and the speed in which it grew, "the likes of which never were seen before, nor will be again until the true redemption comes," said a contemporary.
It was barely a year later, though, in 1666, that the dreams of a new Messianic age crumbled. Sabbatai Zevi went before the Turkish Sultan, demanding that the Sultan give back the Holy Land. The Sultan told Sabbatai to convert to Islam or be killed.
The Messiah converted.
And here begins our descent into heretical doctrine.
When your Messiah converts to another religion, you have three choices: convert (which many did), call him a crackpot and go back to an
embarrassed life (which more did), or believe he is still the Messiah (which very few did).
For our purposes, we will believe that Sabbatai was indeed the Messiah. Nathan of Gaza's students bring us full circle, giving us an expansion on the Lurianic idea of creation, explaining why the Messiah converted.
If you recall, there are 288 shards of these vessels that were broken by the divine light of En Sof and that fell into darkness. These vessels contain a residue of God's light, a part of God that is divorced from Him, and only through reunification with En Sof can we experience tikkun, harmony. This is our aim as humans, the secret meaning of our lives.
According to Nathan and his students, there are shards so deep in the darkness that saintliness and holiness are not sufficient to bring them out of the darkness. Because of that, it is the Messiah himself who must descend into the depths of darkness in order to retrieve these shards. Only he can liberate the shards from the kelipot, the "shells" or prisons that they are in.
The Messiah cannot simply descend into darkness and call them out, though. No, some shards are locked away still further, and the kelipot must be forced open from within. Because of this, the Messiah must enter these prisons himself, and must break them open. He must descend fully into the realm of evil.
A parallel may be found in Exodus, when the Shekhinah descends into Egypt -- a place that, in the Bible, symbolizes true evil and darkness -- and gathers the Jews. So, too, must the Messiah journey into the empire of darkness to compete his mission.
The Messiah's soul dwells at the very bottom of the abyss of darkness, where dwell "serpents" that seek to torment and seduce it. The Messiah is like these serpents, and so has some power over them, for the word for serpent nahash has the same numerical value as the word for messiah, mashiah.
Only at the end of his journey will evil disappear, and redemption can extend to the entire world. At that point, the residue of the light of En Sof that clings to the shards will be elevated again, and the world will experience tikkun. The Messiah must make a supreme sacrifice, one which is incomprehensible to others. Believers, Nathan's student Abraham Perez writes, must "taste the bitterness in full."
I can only imagine that the Messiah must taste that bitterness more than any other.
But I imagine that I will find out, as I call out to the Inner Messiah.
I said this was a dangerous working, and I meant that. I mean it even more now. You have the background work on this, and now you will see it change from simple belief system to the basic idea behind the working. The ritual itself is totally unwritten at this point, and even its performance is questionable. But I can show how it would work.
Recently, I lost several parts of myself. I made some serious errors in judgment
that took parts of my life and shattered them. These were parts of my life that I valued and that I can no longer find.
Consider the parallels in my life to that of the creation:
- I made a judgment. This is akin to the initial judgment, the limitation of God: an act of Din.
- Following this, I sought to re-order myself, to provide a blueprint for how I thought I was supposed to act, and what actions I was to take.
- This blueprint was imperfect, and all that I put into it, it could not hold. It shattered, overloaded with my true reality.
- I withdrew heavily into myself, leaving shards of myself and who I am behind.
- I realized something was wrong, and I feel a great pain knowing that I am not complete.
This working is designed so that I can find myself again. It is a journey inward, deep within myself and into those dark places I have never been willing to go before.
Some of these shards lay in areas that are not so dark. I have recovered some without any outside help, indeed before I even knew what I was doing. But some are deeper.
Within me are kelipot that must be broken open from within. There are deep ones that I have never glimpsed, that are hidden in dark emotions and fear. I know that they are there: I feel them now, festering inside me, throwing me into disharmony. Those around me can see it, feel it.
It is a darkness only a Messiah can enter. As it is a darkness within myself, I must awaken my own Messiah, and it is he who must enter this darkness for me. I must seek the Messiah of the self.
I will seek the shards in the darkness. I will battle the nahash. I will break forth from the kelipot and reunite myself with myself.
How can I reach this Messiah? How can he reach this place within me that I have never mapped nor even been aware of? I don't know yet. Perhaps simple trancework can bring me to this place, and perhaps nothing short of my own conversion to another religion can do it. I will not know until I try.
Though it frightens me, I have a touchstone that brings me faith.
My touchstone for this chaos working will be a line from the Song of Songs 2:9. As I was reading the Zohar, the book tumbled from my hands. It struck my foot, and I cried out, angry at myself for my clumsiness. The book fell open to a page, though, and one line caught my eye:
"My beloved is like a gazelle."
It is that line that will serve as my compass.
Until I saw that line, I wondered if I could do this working. I was afraid. It requires no tools I have ever been able to make solid use of, nor beliefs that have ever found home with me.
I encourage each magician who undertakes this working to find a touchstone, something in the Tanakh that you know will bring you home. These kelipot are dangerous, and entering them is dark, fearful. They are the places no magician was meant to travel, and they are the places even the most skilled fear. These are places of true,
crystallized judgment: be prepared to see things reflected in their walls.
If a ritual comes of this, it will be recorded. If it is simply an experience, a report on it will be recorded.
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