Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Qabalah, the Headless Ritual and the Stele of Jeu

So, I’ve been working with a magical text called the Stele of Jeu, from the Greek Magica Papyri. As explained in a previous blog post, a variation of the text is known as the Bornless Ritual. It is also known as the Headless Ritual because the text is directed to a deity referred to as Akephalos—Greek for “Headless One.” The term could refer to any number of pagan headless deities, but I offered evidence in my previous blog post that 1) it related to the Divine Light in the form of Ra and other solar deities and 2) it spoke to self-actualization as that divine light.

“Headless” is also a term within Qabalah—and, although my mage friends scowled at me when I suggested it—I wondered whether there was a Qabalist influence in the Stele of Jeu, considering that it references Yahweh, Moses, and “the prophets of Israel” a lot--and also contains gematria that may point to the middle pillar and/or Pythagoric spirituality (using pythmenes--a technique in Greek gematria in which number values of words are reduced to a single digit). I contacted independent researcher Gary Lee, who specializes in Qabalist influences in ancient and medieval esoterica, for more clarity. He had serendipitously uploaded a paper to Academia.edu that included content on the significance of “headless” on the very day that I had decided to pursue my Stele of Jeu project.  His paper, titled The Visconti –Sforza Tarot: A Sacred Open Secret, continues his ongoing exposition on how the Visconti-Sforza Tarot acts as a mnemonic device for Qabalist revelation.

Lee explained that “Headless” refers to the Divine Man, in the form of sefirot 9 to 4. These sefirot correspond with the limbs of the body. Chessed (compassion) corresponds to the right arm, Gevurah (judgement) to the left arm, and Tiferet (Truth/Beauty) with the heart. These sefirot form the Emotional or Aetheric self. Netzach and Hod represent the legs and Yeshod the genitals—the physical self. The “head,” Lee explained, can be seen as the sefirot Da’at, which is the gateway/gatekeeper to the higher sefirot. The higher sefirot correspond to the higher faculties of the Divine Man. In other words, the head of the Divine Man manifests through integration of the mysteries of the lower sefirot and self-actualization at Da’at (ie, “crossing the abyss”). In his paper, cited above, Lee writes, “Headless” is in reference to the workings of the [Merkabah] Chariot in which one internalizes the Tree of Life as one’s body and this mnemonic system is one’s ‘Head.’”

fantasy fiction
Leo de Lux, the antihero of the fantasy fiction novel La Maga
and the Sorcerers and Magi Series
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Excerpt from the last chapter of La Maga

He felt light as a feather. He felt he understood what the term “Headless” meant as the integration of the Qabalist Tree of Life. . . the Crown  . . . the Vast Countenance . . . the White Head . . . the Headless . . .  whose God-name was the sound of the out-breath and in-breath. How did he get to this place, and why did it take so long?
He had been dreaming of lights. The dreams were vivid. They were full of color, texture, and tactility, but most of all, self-awareness.
When the lights first began to appear, Leo would find himself in a pitch-black darkness—an abyss. Curiously, he would not panic. A voice would say, “Look up.” Directly overhead would be a distant, small, and icy orb that would beam down on him like a watcher. Then he would be gazing at a brilliant and ominous full moon. Then, instead of the cool moon, Leo would see a cheerful sun at dawn on the crest of a flat horizon of a peachy pastel sky. From there emerged all sorts of stars and scenes and episodes.

In time he knew what these lights were. Space to Luminance, Luminance to Radiance, Radiance to Immanence. It was happening to him. It was no longer a conceited idea. It was no longer something he had been taught or had read about in a manual or treatise. He was approaching the supreme illumination—the culmination of the Great Work.

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