I have seen the word Kabbalah spelled in many
different ways, for instance: Cabala, Cabalah, Cabbala, Cabbalah,
Kabala, Kabalah, Qabala, Qabalah, Qabbala, Quabbalah, and, of course,
Kabbalah. Altogether there appear to be more than twenty variant
spellings of this word. The reason for such confusion is that there are
several systems of transliterating the Hebrew words into the Roman
letters that the English, and most other European languages, use.
Compounding the difficulties is the fact that the Hebrew alphabet does
not indicate short vowels or the doubling of consonants. A similar
problem arises with transliterating the Arabic texts, or to a lesser
degree with the texts written in the languages that use the Cyrillic
alphabet, such as Russian, Serbian or Bulgarian. Not even mentioning
the Chinese and Japanese characters. With all this perplexity, it
occurred to me that I could use at least some of these variations in
the spelling as part of the title for this book, to make life slightly
easier to those who might be searching for books on this subject. It
did not look good on the cover design, so I abandoned the idea.
At the present times most of those involved would
appear to incline towards the version I will be using in this book –
the Kabbalah. The experts, who come up with the variant ways of
spelling Kabbalah, do so because they are trying to get as close as
possible to the original phonetic sound of the word. However, it
doesn’t really matter much how one writes this word, because important
is the sound of it, which was here before it was written.
Another reason for different ways of spelling the
word might be that the writer wants to either identify with or distance
himself/herself from a certain school or interpretation of Kabbalism.
For instance, the versions Qaballa, Qaballah or Quabbalah, were used
mainly by various Hermetic orders connected in some way with the
Rosicrucianism, from about the 17th century
onward, with the former being adopted by perhaps the best-known
esoteric order of all, the Golden Dawn, which flourished around 1900.
The so-called Christian Kabbalists on the other hand tended to use the
versions beginning with a “C”, such as Cabala or Cabbalah. And so on.
Kabbalah has always been strongly associated with
the Jewish religion. Nevertheless, Christian priests and scholars, many
of them having had learnt Hebrew so that they could read the Old
Testament in the original, have always been in possession of the same
keys as were the Jewish rabbis, namely the Bible and the language.
Kabbalah goes beyond any existing religion. When in its most
metaphysical, it holds a great appeal to contemporary scientists,
physicists, chemists, mathematicians, but also to psychologists,
particularly those of the Jungian school. Above all, it has appealed to
philosophers in all ages. Therefore, to a non-Jewish person unattached
to any particular religion or even nationality, like me, it must have
always appeared timeless.
I suspect that the Kabbalah must really be older
than the Jewish religion, older than any religion, in fact. This is why
so many people with all sorts of backgrounds have found their way to it. My own way certainly had
not lead through any religion; I had no religious upbringing
whatsoever. When I went to school for the first time the year was 1949.
We lived in Prague, and it was shortly after the Communist takeover of
the country. Prague once had a very large Jewish community, but shortly
after the war it was much depleted. Many of its members fled before the
Nazis took over the country and ended up on the other side of the
Atlantic; for many of those who stayed their lives had ended in the
concentration camps. Only the legend of Golem, the artificial man, was
still alive, though it was considered to be just that: a legend, fairy
The Golem was said to have been created by the
scholarly rabbi Levi (also Löw, Lev), who used his
considerable knowledge of Kabbalah. According to the legend, the rabbi
used a certain formula to make come alive the figurine he moulded from
clay. Later in this book we will try to trace the origins of this
legend a little farther. Here it would suffice to say that the fearful
looking Golem, whose main task was to protect the vulnerable Jewish
community, rebelled against the rabbi’s authority when the latter
forgot to take the so called “shem” or the magic formula off the
Golem’s forehead, to give him the rest on the Sabbath day. The creature
went berserk breaking things and killing domestic animals, until the
rabbi managed to sneak behind him and remove the formula. The Golem was
afterwards never revived and was left to fall into dust in the attic of
the main Prague synagogue.
I loved legends like this one, or the one about the
first ruling dynasty of kings of Bohemia, the Premyslids. The skulls of
its last three members I could see displayed in the Catholic Church at
Zbraslav, where my grandfather used to be the organist and choirmaster.
Whenever we visited our remaining relatives in the town I insisted that
we go and see those skulls, nothing else mattered to me much.
Grandfather, who died long before I was born, naturally had brought his
twelve children up in his own faith, but my father had left the Church
by the time he was in his twenties. At that point in his life he would
have probably described himself as an agnostic. As such he had a foot
in either camp, and after I was born in the wartime London, he had me
baptised, perhaps just to be on the safe side in case the
soul-snatching devil did exist, but he would not have it done by a
Catholic priest. Instead a Serbian orthodox priest was invited to
perform the ritual. Apparently a priest of any church would have done,
but this one just happened to live in the same street in Kensington.
Because of the war, a general feeling of ambiguity towards religion,
and subsequent movements between several countries that our family had
to make (my father was a diplomat), there was little or no follow-up.
Though technically I belong to the Serbian Orthodox Church, as far as I
can tell I was only once inside the walls of an orthodox church, when
my mother took me to the only one that existed in Prague, for the
conformation when I was about seven or eight years old. By then my
father was already dead. Soon after my conformation we moved out of
Prague, but I doubt that my mother would have made me continue with the
religious education, even if circumstances would have allowed it.
She had one more stab at it, though not a very
successful one. During the term one of my first year at school in the
once fashionable but by then largely ran-down suburb of Prague, a
Catholic priest was still coming to the school to take care of our tiny
souls. Most children in my class were Catholics, and their parents were
still not quite sure of what to make of the new political order that
had come after the 1948 Communist takeover, so many of them still
allowed their offspring to have the luxury of some religious education.
When I went to school for the first time my mother signed me up for the
religion classes, but after a few weeks the attending priest found out
that I was not a proper Catholic, and he had told her not to send me
there any more. Thus together with several other children, whose
parents had either guessed rightly what the new regime was going to be
like, or knew all along and had their eyes firmly set upon a career, I
would be allowed to go home when the religious lessons were about to
begin (always at the end of the school day). Naturally I considered
myself lucky and indeed privileged, but I had soon lost that
prerogative when by the next term the religious classes were abandoned
altogether, for lack of interest. Though officially all people in the
country were guaranteed freedom of religious expression, in practice it
was most unwise to be seen going to church or even anywhere near it, if
one wanted to keep a decent job. And parents of young children
certainly needed to keep theirs.
So this is how it came about that I had not had any
religious education. I don’t think that it hindered me in any way; on
the contrary it probably helped me, because I had to make up my own
mind about everything instead of having it fed by a spoon. Since about
the late forties, in the then Czechoslovakia at least two generations
have grown up, of whom a large majority had never set a foot in church.
At the same time many, including myself, had been looking at the stuff
that was given them by politically correct Marxist ideologists, and
which was supposed to substitute for the stolen faith in God, with a
great deal of cynicism. In this situation perhaps ninety five percent
of people would prove conformists, while the remainder would turn into
what Colin Wilson so aptly called “the outsiders”. The outsider from
behind the iron curtain however did not have the advantages of Wilson’s
Outsider. The latter had access to practically any kind of literature
he or she wished to read, while the former had only the publications
deemed politically unobjectionable and ideologically sound by the
regime. In practice this meant that the only literature available was
that not in direct conflict with the officially endorsed Marxism based
ideology. Under such circumstances there was little room for any
In 1962 I turned nineteen, and consequently I was
called up for the compulsory two-year Army service. While a small
percentage of the newly recruited soldiers would take to the army
environment like the proverbial fish to water, to the large majority of
conscripts it was a depressing experience, much like it is in any army
anywhere in the world – the customary harassment, the physical and
psychological anguish, in our case exacerbated by the ubiquitous
communist propaganda. After all, it was the time of the ripening Cuban
crisis, when the armies of the Warsaw Pact were being prepared for an
armed conflict, which from their point of view seemed almost inevitable.
had avoided much of the unpleasant aspects of army life, except for the
propaganda. I was in fact forced to become a part of it. On the one
hand I was lucky enough to have been chosen for an entirely different
kind of duties, when I became a singer with the Army Entertainment
Corps. This ensemble toured the country for the sole purpose of raising
the morale of the troops. On the other hand this meant that during the
Cuban crisis, which came within a couple of months after I was
recruited, it was my lot nightly to sing mighty songs like this one that for your amusement I
have translated into English:
I sing my song of Havana
the Cubans are one
while watching Kennedy's
troops On the run!
With hammer and sickle Now forming
the cosmonauts fly
Cubans are saying
no end to wonder
the red Star will shine!
All this meant long bus journeys between venues,
overflowing with bore, which we often tried to repel by playing cards.
On one such transit, somewhere halfway between our Prague base and the
distant eastern border of Slovakia, where it meets with the westernmost
part of the Soviet Union, tired of the game we had already been playing
for many hours, I bailed out and chose instead to be a mere spectator
with another circle of players. They were all musicians, violinists
from Moravia, which meant that they grew up in a slightly different
cultural environment to the rest of us, who came mostly from Prague or
its surrounds. The game they played was also somewhat different to what
we were customarily playing and, above all,
they played it with a deck of cards such as I had
never seen before. They called them “taroky”, which is the Czech for
the Tarot cards. The rules of the game resembled those I was used to
playing with the regular cards, therefore it did not take me long to
get to understand them. What I found intriguing however, were the cards
they had been using. The deck was obviously quite old and very much
worn on edges, most likely of pre-war vintage. On top of the
traditional four suits there were twenty-two trump cards, with the
Roman numerals and adorned with some strange looking pictures. When my
colleagues took a breather from their game, I borrowed the cards from
them for a proper examination. The card that almost immediately caught
my attention was the trump number XII. It bore the picture of a man
hanging on the gallows; nevertheless, the man on the card was hanging
with his head down and with the rope tied to one of his feet. There
were other unusual images in the deck, which at the time did not stay
long in my memory, but it was the picture of the Hanged Man that had
made the lasting impression on me, and in my mind it became the symbol
of the Tarot cards. I had no idea at all of their strange and obscure
history, which is still being disputed by scholars, as well as by
various occult groups, neither did I know that the Tarots are in fact
the progenitors of all modern playing cards. I also had no way of
knowing that one day they would become a rather significant influence
on my life.
The Cuban Crisis had resolved itself, and the
dreaded armies of the NATO never showed up. Instead, a handful of years
later it was the Soviet army itself, together with its Warsaw Pact
allies, which had rolled their tanks into Prague. I had left the
stricken country and went to England, eventually ending up in
Australia. Thus I became a British born Australian of Czech origin,
effectively a citizen of the world. As soon as I had learned enough
English I became interested in the esoteric subjects, which ultimately
led to another encounter with the Tarots. This has developed into a
lasting, albeit sometimes turbulent, relationship. At this point I want
to stress that I had never used the Tarot for divination purposes or
fortune telling. That side of them I always believed to be out of
bounds as far as I was concerned, though I was aware that this was what
has almost certainly saved them from extermination. History is littered
with acts of fervent believers in various orthodoxies, who saw no other
way of protecting their interests but destroying anything that looked
remotely threatening. Thus from the dawn of time, millions of scrolls,
parchments, hand-written or printed books, have ended their existence
in flames. The Tarots without a doubt would have met with a similar
fate, had their unknown but immensely wise creators decided to put
their wisdom in written form into a book. Their acumen instead led them
to designing a pictorial book, in accordance with the Chinese proverb:
“One picture is worth a thousand words”. Pictures in hands of the
nomadic Gypsies or the gambling patrons of medieval taverns, were
always going to be overlooked in such purges, and the cards were thus
saved for the generations to come of those “ who have the eyes to see
and the ears to hear”.
I became a member of a society, which for more than
twenty years had been holding regular weekly meetings, aimed at the
studies of esoteric subjects, especially the Kabbalah. Much of what
could be found in this book has come from these meetings. My interest
in the Kabbalah and related subjects had deepened every day. By then I
had found my answer to the question that any 20th
century enquirer has to ask himself: Evolution or Creation? I must
admit that early on, while living behind still functional Iron Curtain,
the arguments that the materialists would use to ridicule the idea of
Creation made quite a strong impression on me. Even though I could
never be a Marxist, as I always felt that we are individuals, each of
us with a unique destiny, which is something that a true Marxist would
always deny, with my upbringing I was naturally used to thinking in
terms of materialistic science, because that was the only thing I knew.
Guiles like this naturally worked on my young mind:
Evolutionist: Is God almighty?
Creationist: Yes, of course.
Evolutionist: Can he really
do anything he wants?
Evolutionist: Then let him create a mountain so
heavy that he couldn’t shift it across!
Ever since the time of Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
and his theory of natural evolution there has been a search going on
for the ‘missing link’, imagined to be the earliest form of a human
being that would no longer be an animal. Thus far it has been
unsuccessful, and when periodically someone declares that ‘this has to
be it’, doubts always remain. It
has only been about a century and a half, during which the theory of
evolution became known and was largely accepted, especially amongst the
The Kabbalists naturally are Creationists, but they
still would agree with some of what the Evolutionists have to say. For
instance, they have always maintained that there is variation within
species, just as Charles Darwin (on a contemporary caricature
right) had said. Unfortunately, the evolutional theory has
turned into a kind of religion, just as has done its close relative
Marxism. Therefore it cannot be surprising that the Evolutionists
together with the Marxists have dug themselves deep into their
entrenchments, where they face their opponents the Creationists, who
have made their own foxholes. This is so because there could ever only
be two possibilities, out of which one has to make one’s selection:
1. Everything alive, including all its parts, came
into being as a result of blind chance (suits the Evolutionists).
2. Behind all that exists in this world stands some
kind of intelligence.
Let’s look at the first possibility. It
presupposes that that in some primary ocean that existed on Earth many
years ago, the solar rays assisted by electrical discharges that
accompanied the constant fierce storms, the first organic compounds
have somehow come into existence. The scientists may not be able to
tell us exactly (or even approximately) how it happened, however many
will insist that it could have happened. They would back such theories
up by the facts that several kinds of amino acid substances have been
created under the laboratory conditions. That being so, it is still
long way to having such substances “come alive”. The scientists
theorise that some kind of “bouillon” that would have been able to perk
them up must have existed. In this primary broth, they further
speculate, the coded molecules of DNA or deoxyribonucleic
acid somehow came into being. No other life model thus far has been
discovered that would be able to carry the genetic material from one
generation onto another.
Again, there are two possibilities, the
evolution, or the creation. The first, on which the dialectical
materialist would insist, is that it happened by a pure chance. He
would insist that a movement towards improvement and refinement of
matter is a natural one. However, if we have all the necessary
conditions present, i.e. some sort of basic substance (the above said
bouillon) that would be capable of storing the amino acids, it would
take a chance of monumental proportions to have a life that would be
able to go on living, spring up. It would not only have to be able to
maintain meaningful information, built into the chain of DNA, but it
would also be able to pass it onto the generations to come. Even if we
take the simplest forms of life known to us, such as the most primitive
kind of bacteria, it still contains in a single cell at least two
thousand genes (cistrons). Each of these controls and regulates the
activity of one of the enzymes. So far as the scientists know at
present, this is the bottom line; a smaller number of elements
controlling the enzyme activities within a cell of anything alive would
not be compatible with life.
It gets a lot more complicated from here on.
Every single one of the genes is coded with about one thousand “words”,
i.e. amino acids, while every single amino acid contains four bases.
Thus in case of the simplest form of cellular bacterial life there have
to be at least six million articles of amino acids, the four bases of
which give us four to the power of six multiplied by ten to the power
of five possibilities. The likelihood of such combination occurring
spontaneously, which would have to be perfect and without any flaws if
it were to contain meaningful information and thus carry within the
possibility of life, could therefore be expressed by the rate of 1:4 —
followed by a million of zeros. If the current estimates of the Earth’s
age are correct, the number of seconds that have passed since its
creation, would only have thirteen zeros!
Of course, yet another possibility, which some
would no doubt wish me to have included, is that life was somehow
seeded on our planet by some extraterrestrial intelligent beings.
Though this cannot be entirely ruled out, it still doesn’t answer the
fundamental questions, which are:
Where did such seed come from?
Who arranged for it to reach the Earth?
conceived the idea of such a seed?
Who has designed it?
Whoever it was, have they evolved or were they
And, of course, we must not forget the fundamental
Who has created the Earth and Heaven?
TO: WHAT IS KABBALAH?