by Hand Week 22
week I introduced the Sepher Yetzirah, which
has been described by Aryeh Kaplan (The Sefer Yetzirah,
Samuel Weiser, York Beach, Maine, 1990, where Sepher is spelled Sefer)
as an extremely old text of astrology. A passage in this work presents
a system of dimensions that is a bit mind-blowing given the date of this
work. Here is the passage in question:
of beginning/ A depth of end/
of good/ A depth of evil/
of above/ A depth of below/
of east/ A depth of west/
of north/ A depth of south.” [Kaplan,
here are presented as pairs of opposite directions. The first of these,
beginning-end, is obviously time. Above-below, east-west and north-south
are the three dimensions of ordinary space. Taken together, these four
constitute the four dimensions of the Einstein
time-space continuum. Not bad for an ancient work! But what is the second
pair listed in the passage, good-evil? How do we think of this as a dimension?
Fifth Dimension According to the Sepher Yetzirah
that in the Kabbalah “This dimension is called Soul.” He also mentions
the traditional phrase, “The beginning is wisdom.” Therefore, the end
is ignorance and evil. It becomes clear that this is a dimension of consciousness,
toward wisdom or perfect consciousness, or toward ignorance and complete
So we have
a five dimensional system that we would describe in modern terms as the
three spatial dimensions, length, width and height, a temporal dimension
and one of consciousness. This gives us a continuum of four dimensions
in which we can also move in consciousness. This means that multiple four-dimensional
universes can coexist in time and space but be completely separate in
have this very thing in traditional mystical literature: worlds that differ
in consciousness, but are in the same time and space. I believe that this
idea makes possible an explanation of astrology and also points the way
to a transcendent science in which astrology, magic and divination can
live side-by-side with quantum mechanics, physics, chemistry, etc. This
is the necessary change in the scientific viewpoint that I have been talking
of interpenetrating worlds is most developed in Neoplatonism and Kabbalah.
Simplifying their teachings a bit, we have four such worlds tabulated
of Divinity—The One
of Matter—Cosmos or Nature
the realm of pure divinity, is supposed to produce a second realm, whose
function is to contemplate the One. This is the realm of intelligence,
or Nous. In Nous, among other things, there comes into being the subject-object
split that enables awareness. In other words, consciousness as we know
it comes into being.
things: first of all, consciousness has come into existence prior to matter.
This is the opposite of the materialist viewpoint. Second, the archetypes
in consciousness do not come up from a lower level, a collective unconscious,
but come down from the very highest level of being.
Realm of Life and Soul
Now we come
to the level that may be the most important for astrology. Nous contemplates
the One, and the two of them, as a system, begin movement and life, or
soul. While motion is made possible in Nous, it is manifested in the realm
of Soul. And Soul also precedes matter. What comes into being is the World
Soul, which is, according to tradition, the source of all magical and
things that will come into being in the material world are prefigured
in Soul. Not just every category, but every individual thing that will
manifest in the physical world. Therefore, the planets in the material
Cosmos are pre-figured by planets in Soul.
at Last, the Material Realm
realms, the One, Nous and Soul interact and produce a body. This is the
physical universe, Cosmos. Everything in this world is predetermined not
by mechanical cause and effect, but by movement in the higher worlds.
The indeterminacy that modern physicists see in many systems of the physical
world is due to the fact that the cause-and-effect relationship is not
within the physical world, but is between the physical world and the higher
worlds. There is little or no freedom in the Cosmos. Freedom exists only
in the higher worlds.
is good news! According to ancient philosophy, human beings and all other
sentient life forms exist not only in the Cosmos, but in Soul and Nous
as well. We even share in the oneness of the One. We are free to the degree,
and only to the degree, that we live consciously in the higher worlds.
The more we move in the dimension of consciousness toward wisdom (“The
beginning is wisdom”), the more freedom we have.
works because of several things:
1) The planets
of our solar system are physical entities. Therefore, their motions are
almost completely predictable. This makes them reliable indicators of
movements in higher realms of which they are the result.
2) But nothing
in the physical world (Cosmos) is entirely or only of this world. Everything
participates in varying degrees in the higher worlds. Even the planetary
motions have some degree of indeterminacy. Could this be a kind of freedom?
But in any case, all entities in the physical world can manifest qualities
or properties that come from their participation in the realms of Soul
and Nous. This again is the origin of the occult properties of natural
3) Soul prefigures
all things in the Cosmos. Therefore, there are “planets” of a kind in
the planets in the realm of Soul are the result of planetary forms in
Nous, and we also participate in Nous, the planetary forms in Nous produce
parallel movements in us that are also parallel the motions of the physical
planets. And the “movements” of the planets in our consciousness (Nous)
and Soul manifest with the freedom that is present in Nous and Soul and
not at the restricted level apparent in the movements of the physical
planets. The physical planets do not cause anything within us. Rather
the effects apparent within us and the movements of the planets are both
results of the same causes within higher realms.
We will develop
this more in the next weeks.