The Cosmic Shekinah – Mother of Angels

In my excitement and pleasure at the launch of my new book with Sorita d’Este, The Cosmic Shekinah, I decided to post some snippets to provide a flavour of the diverse material on the Shekinah we have woven together in this work. The first of these looks at the connection between the Shekinah and angels:

Considering the Kabbalistic model of creation as the result of the union of God and the Shekinah, the title of the Mother of Angels becomes entirely appropriate. The angels are the divine messengers (from angelos, ‘messenger’, Greek), and an interesting reference in The Thunder, Perfect Mind emphasises the association between the Wisdom Goddess (as Sophia in this instance) and angels, when she says: “of the angels, who have been sent at my word.”[1] Angels are also described in one of the Merkavah texts as, “Messengers of the Power and Awakeners of the Shekinah”[2]

The Zohar makes reference to the angels being born from the Shekinah, saying, “Its sparks are sparks of fire. Who are the sparks? Those gems and pearls born from that fire.”[3] It is also worth noting that the Shekinah is described as a gem and a pearl in Kabbalistic texts, demonstrating the continuity of association here.

A range of texts mention the connection between the Shekinah and angels, such as the first-third century CE Gedulath Mosheh (The Revelation of Moses), which describes:

“50 myriads of angels stand before him; they are of fire and water, and their faces are directed towards the Shekinah above; and all sing hymns”[4]

Enoch describes his own ascension to heaven in the Book of 3 Enoch, saying that:

“When the Holy One, blessed be He, took me away from the generation of the Flood, he lifted me on the wings of the wind of Shekinah to the highest heaven and brought me into the great palaces of the Arabot Raqia on high, where are the glorious Throne of Shekinah, the Merkavah.”[5]

[1] The Thunder, Perfect Mind, C3rd-C4th CE, Nag Hammadi Texts, trans. George W. MacRae.
[2] Hekhalot Rabbati, VII.154, C3rd-C7th CE.
[3] Zohar 2:114a, C13th CE.
[4] The Revelation of Moses, 9, C1st-C3rd CE, trans. M. Gaster.
[5] 3 Enoch 7:1, C2nd-C6th CE.

Spiritus – review (magical fiction)

Imagine someone had taken D.H. Lawrence’s poem The Ship of Death, fed it some psychedelic drugs, and then introduced it to the Western Mystery Tradition and turned it into a story. The end result could be Spiritus by Kala Trobe, a phantasmagorical journey through hadean and empyrean realms.
I really enjoyed this novel, which combines a rich narrative style with a plot which twists and turns like an eel on heat. There are layers of symbolism woven into the text, with the result that any reader will enjoy it, but the greater the occult knowledge of the reader, the more they will spot in subtleties of description and deed. The author’s own wealth of experience really shines through in this, both as an accomplished writer and as someone with a thorough grounding in the traditions of magic and myth.
If you haven’t encountered Kala Trobe’s fiction before, this book should be on your reading list – it is a dazzling combination of mythic themes combined in personal journeys which cross, skew and diverge for the characters of the book. I have deliberately shied away from describing the plot because I feel that you need to approach this book without any preconceptions. Read, enjoy, digest and contemplate!

The Cosmic Shekinah: Now Available

For the last few years Sorita d’Este and I have been continuing our research into the origins of different mystical and magical practices, especially those associated with the Qabalah.  Along this journey we encountered The Shekinah on a regular basis and decided to bring together our historical research on the origins and development of the Feminine Divine in this new book The Cosmic Shekinah, which is now available for pre-order from Avalonia.   You can order your copy now at http://avaloniabooks.co.uk/catalogue/qabalah-kabbalah/the-cosmic-shekinah

It is my sincere hope that many readers who enjoy my work on the Qabalah and Ceremonial Magick, as well as those who are interested in the Goddess traditions, will find this book and the research we have presented in it of interest.

THE COSMIC SHEKINAH

Sorita d’Este & David Rankine

A historical study of the Goddess of the Old Testament and Kabbalah

The Shekinah is the manifestation of the Wisdom Goddess of the Kabbalah,the Old Testament and Merkavah Mysticism. She encompasses the primordial light of creation, the wisdom of the serpent and the inspiration of the dove. She is the beauty of the lily and the embodiment of the Tree of Life. She is also the World soul, heavenly glory, mother of angels, inspiration for prophecy, and source of souls, as well as being the Shabbat Bride and the wife of God.

In The Cosmic Shekinah the authors present a concise history of the different influences of earlier wisdom goddesses on the development of the Shekinah. These goddesses include the Sumerian Inanna, the Egyptian Ma’at, the Greco-Egyptian Isis, the Semitic Anat and Astarte and the Canaanite Asherah. They show that from these ancient sources the unnamed Wisdom Goddess and wife of God portrayed in the Old Testament and early Jewish wisdom literature arose. It is this unnamed Wisdom Goddess who would subsequently become the source for the development of the Shekinah as well as the Gnostic Sophia.

The influence of the feminine divine as the Shekinah has continued to find expression, with the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit of Christianity and the Sakina of Islam all being shaped by the enduring influence of the Wisdom Goddess. Through tracing her roles, myths and functions the authors show that in addition to her resurgence, the Wisdom Goddess has always been present throughout history, even when she has been suppressed and disguised by deliberate exclusion and mistranslation.

Drawing on numerous sources including medieval Kabbalistic works, Hekhalot texts of Merkavah Mysticism, ancient literature such as the Egyptian, Sumerian and Ugaritic myths, the Old Testament, Gnostic texts and recent finds in Biblical archaeology, The Cosmic Shekinah draws attention back to the light of divine feminine wisdom.

For order information see: http://avaloniabooks.co.uk/catalogue/qabalah-kabbalah/the-cosmic-shekinah

Also see: www.cosmicshekinah.co.uk

 

 

Stargazer – review (magical fiction)

If you like vampire novels which actually question preconceptions and push the boundaries rather than simply regurgitate the standard formula, then you will love Stargazer. As I read through the story, it brought a number of other works to mind, but in a comparative manner as I noticed similarities in richness of language or challenging the genre. Thus on one level Stargazer made me think of Colin Wilson’s Space Vampires and A.E. Van Vogt’s Supermind as all being works which bring innovation and then twist it on its head in places to spin the plot into dark and unexpected complexities. On another level Connor has captured the atmospheric detail found in classic vampire masterpieces like Freda Warrington’s Taste of Blood Wine series, and the hero-antihero angst of the lead characters found in Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series.

However, to the details of the book itself – it is a book which moves at a good speed throughout, with no lapses in pace or excitement, and yet still manages to reach a breakneck climax. Miguel Connor has created a new vampire antihero in Byron who goes beyond the ‘vampire with a soul’ characters found in contemporary television series. Instead Byron is the best of antiheroes – with a huge capacity for selfless action and a dark past which lurks like an iceberg through the book, slowly surfacing until his collision with the powers that be in the climax.

The idea of a post-apocalyptic world created by vampires, now calling themselves stargazers, is indicative of the intelligent use of the genre the author has demonstrated, with layers of symbolism throughout the work awaiting discovery by those interested in spirituality and Gnostic symbolism. This is definitely a must-read book which stands out as one of the best vampire novels I have yet read, and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel, Heretic.

An Ogham Wood – review (magical fiction)

I love good magical fiction, though there are not very many contemporary writers who produce it. Authors such as Charles deLint, Neil Gaiman, Terri Windling and Patricia Geary stand out from the crowd through their innovative but believable storytelling. And now another name joins them – Cliff Seruntine. Cliff’s first novel, An Ogham Wood (also available on Amazon Kindle) , is a delightful read which builds up slowly, gathering momentum to an epic climax, like a storm in all its glory – wind, rain, thunder and lightning, but for the inner senses of the mind.

The level of detail and loving craft found in the fairy folk in this story is an absolute joy, bringing Celtic folklore to life in a vivid picture of country life largely lost in the modern western world. Although the story is complete in itself, there are enough tales of past glories and tragedies feeding into the weave of the story to allow for any number of sequels and prequels. The fabulous cover by Marc Potts draws the eye and hints at the other realms to be explored within.

The author’s own experience and expertise show through in the flawed hero, Sweyn deSauld, both of sailing and as a successful psychologist. Another reviewer astutely pointed out that this is a story told by a man from a man’s perspective, a definite bonus in this genre where the hero’s perspective is often neglected or disregarded. A line from a song by Canadian band Martha and the Muffins comes to mind with this story – “I think of your past like broken glass, the people who are pieces I still meet”. For Sweyn to step back from the brink to sanity, he has to find and bring together the right broken pieces, and his journey to do so is in the style of epics from days gone by.

For me, An Ogham Wood is the most enjoyable fantasy read I have had for a long time, and in a sign of its quality, leaves me wanting to read the following volumes the author has promised.

The Red Church – review

When most of the books you read are for research, it is always a pleasure to read a good book which increases your knowledge of an associated subject which you have not had time to study. Chris Bilardi’s The Red Church is an excellent example of this. Subtitled “The Art of Pennsylvania German Braucherei”, this book is a fascinating study of Pow Wow, the American Christian folk magic which grew from German roots.

The first part of the book provides a detailed analysis of the different European (predominantly German) religious movements which fed into the Braucherei, setting the scene and providing the provenance for the material. The historical analysis is a vital part of providing the context for magical systems, so it was a pleasure to see such a through treatise which covered all the ground whilst holding the reader’s interest.

As a tradition which draws on the grimoires and Qabalah as well as its Biblical core, the practices are heavily religious, and Bilardi is not afraid to emphasise the importance of being a good member of the local Christian community, something which was key to magical practitioners of the grimoires, cunning-folk and other traditions as well. It is good to see the debt that the Western Esoteric Traditions owe to Christianity as one of the driving forces of modern magic being acknowledged. It has become unfortunately trendy in some areas to ‘bash’ Christianity as being anti-pagan, whilst reflecting those same prejudices, and also ignoring the fact that there is an inherent magic in the Bible and Christian practice which continues to be one of the most powerful magical currents in the world.

However this book is not purely about history and philosophy, it is also packed with numerous examples of the charms and practices of Braucherei, drawn from the old texts like The Long Lost Friend and also from practitioners, which show very effectively how quickly practices can evolve and change through personal use and experience. (As an aside, Dan Harms is working on a definitive volume on The Long Lost Friend which should be a welcome addition to this field).

All in all this is an excellent volume which should be of interest to a wide range of people, from magicians to folklorists, healers to historians, psychologists to pagans. Chris Bilardi is to be congratulated on producing such a fine work.