THE SEPHER YETZIRAH

The Book of Creation

by Bill Heidrick

An adapted but complete version based on the Kalisch and Akiba-Stenring translations - with adjusted correspondences to conform with the researches of the Order of the Golden Dawn. 

Declared in manuscript to be forever in the public domain - June, 1976 e.v.

Adaptation and parenthetic notes.

Adapted to conform to the Golden Dawn correspondences in 1976 e.v. with parenthetic notes by Bill Heidrick from the Kalisch and Stenring translations. This rendering of the S.Y. is made in the public domain as a way of paying dues of another kind. The notes are in curly brackets: {}, and are not part of the original text. The "Sepher Yetzirah" is the ultimate basis of the Golden Dawn system of correspondences embodied in Crowley's "Liber 777".]

The "Sepher Yetzirah" is one of the most important founding works of Qabalah. It was composed probably between the 3rd and 6th centuries of the Christian era and was later attributed to R. Akiba. For more information on the history of this work, see Gershom Scholem's "Kabbalah", Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co., 1974. Scholem's work is essential for students of Qabalah, but must be taken with considerable skepticism in its conclusions.

(Previously published by serialization 1990 e.v. in "Thelema Lodge Calendar" for 1990, January through August issues.)

THE SEPHER YETZIRAH

The Book of Creation

Chapter One

Section One

Yah, Jehovah of hosts, the living Elohim, King of the Universe, Omnipotent, All-King and Merciful, Supreme and Extolled, Who is Eternal, Sublime and Most -Holy, formed and created the Universe in thirty-two mysterious paths of wisdom by three Sepharim, namely: Sfor, Sippur and Sapher {Samekh-Peh-Resh, Samekh-Peh -Vau-Resh and Samekh-Peh-Resh: These angelic names mean: Numbers, Letters and Words} which are in Him one and the same. They consist of ten Sephiroth out of nothing and of twenty-two fundamental letters. He divided the twenty-two consonants into three divisions: Three Mothers, fundamental letters or first elements; Seven Double; and Twelve Simple consonants.

Section Two

The ten Sephiroth out of nothing is analogous to that of the ten fingers {and toes} of the human body, five parallel to five, and in the center of which is the covenant with the only One {between the hands this is the tongue. Between the feet this is the circumcised penis or the broken hymen} by the word of the tongue and the rite of Abraham.

Section Three

Ten are the Sephiroth {often translated as "numbers", this word has no English true equivalent} out of nothing, and not the number nine, ten and not eleven. Comprehend this great wisdom, understand {Chokmah and Binah in the text} this knowledge, inquire into it and ponder on it, render it evident and lead the Creator back to His throne again {In other words, descend the Tree of Life to learn Ma'aseh Berishit and ascend it to accomplish the goal of Ma'aseh Merkabah.}

Section Four

The Ten Sephiroth out of nothing are infinite in ten ways: The beginning infinite {Kether}; The end infinite {Chokmah}; The good infinite {Binah}; The evil infinite {Chesed}; The height infinite {Geburah}; The depth infinite {Tiphireth}; The East infinite {Netzach}; The West infinite {Hod}; The North infinite {Yesod}; The South infinite {Malkuth} - {These last four are given in a different order in some versions.}, and the only Lord God, the faithful King, rules over all from His holy habitation for ever and ever.

Section Five

The appearance of the Sephiroth out of nothing is like a flash of lightning, being without end, His word is in them, when they go and return; they run by His order like a whirlwind and humble themselves before His throne {The divine names of the lightning bolt are: Eheieh, Yah, Yahweh Elohim, El, Elohim Gibor, Jehovah Eloh Va-Da'at, Jehovah Tzabaoth, Elohim Tzabaoth, Shadi El Chi, Adoni Melekh Ha-Aretz.}

Section Six

The Sephiroth out of nothing has its end linked to its beginning and its beginning linked to its end, just as the flame is wedded to the live coal; because the Lord is one and there is not a second one, and before one what will you count {"count" has the suggestion meaning of "consider a Sephira."}?

Section Seven

Concerning the number ten of the Sephiroth out of nothing, keep your tongue from speaking and your mind from pondering it and if your mouth urges you to speak and your heart to think about it, return {from questioning the number ten of them}! as it reads: "And the living creatures ran and returned," {Ezekiel: I, 14} and upon this {Mystery} was the covenant made.

Section Eight

These are the ten Sephiroth out of nothing:

One; The Spirit of the living God {Ruach Elohim Chiim}, praised and glorified be the name {schem} of Him who lives to all eternity. The articulate word of creative power, the spirit and the word are what we call the holy spirit.

Two; Air emanated from the spirit by which He formed and established twenty-two consonants fundamentally. Three of them are truly fundamental letters, or mothers, seven are double and twelve are simple consonants; hence the spirit is the first one.

Three; Primitive water emanated from the air. He formed and established by it Bohu {the more substantial part of Chaos, or the waters below the upper waters of Genesis} mud and loam, made them like a bed, put them up like a wall, and surrounded them as with a rampart, put coldness upon them and they became dust, as it reads; "He says to the coldness {snow} be thou earth." {Job: XXXVI; 6}

Four; Fire or Aether emanated from the water. He established by it the throne of glory, the Seraphim and Opanim, the holy living creatures and the angels, and of these three He formed His habitation, as it reads "Who made His angels spirits, His ministers a flaming fire." {Psalm CIV, 4} He selected three consonants from the simple ones which are in the hidden secret of three mothers or first elements: Aleph -- Air, Mem -- Water, and Shin -- Aether or Fire. He sealed them with spirit and fastened them to His great name {Schem, which can be spelled Shin-Aleph-Memfinal} and sealed with it six dimensions.

Five; He sealed the height and turned towards above.  The seal was Yod-Heh-Vau {through Aleph}

Six; He sealed the depth, and turned toward below.  The seal was Heh-Yod-Vau {through Aleph}

Seven; He sealed the East and turned forward.  The seal was Vau-Yod-Heh {through Mem}

Eight; He sealed the West and turned backward.  The seal was Vau-Heh-Yod {through Mem}

Nine; He sealed the {North} and turned to the {left}.  The seal was Heh-Vau-Yod {through Shin}

Ten; He sealed the {South} and turned to the {right}.  The seal was Yod-Vau-Heh  {through Shin}

{Extended note: The letters of the six seals are in different order in different versions of the manuscripts. There is also confusion about the order of South and North, right and left. The latter problem may depend on the divinity having right and left sides opposite to the human right and left. The former problem follows from the latter. Also, the oral tradition that ascribes the passage of the seals through the three Mother letters depends on numbers 2 through 4 of this section.}

Section Nine

These are the ten spheres of existence out of nothing. From the spirit of the living God emanated air, from the air, water, from the water, fire or aether, from the aether, the height and the depth, the East and the West, the North and the South.

{Extended Note: This is not a simple system of a single emanation. The Hindu theory of the three Gunas is closer to this than the Neoplatonic theory. Here we have a primary emanation from the three abstract qualities of numbers, letters and words (Sec. 1). The ten sephiroth are emanated in more than three spatial dimensions and interact with the letters via a complex relationship to the three Mother letters. Even the relationship of the three Mother letters to the other letters and to the ten sephiroth is not simple but compound. The higher form of the Mothers has the sequence Aleph then Mem then Shin. From Shin this sequence replicates in a lower form. As we will see in the next chapter, these three Mother letters then take a different order to produce yet a still lower form of the Tree of the Ten Sephiroth. The turning point is described in section eight through permutation of the letters of the name Yah -- as foretold in the first section of this chapter. The order of the three Mother letters given in this chapter is that of the "Cube of Space". The order of these Mother letters given in the next chapter defines a different kind of universe, that of the "Schem" or G.'. D.'. Tree of Life. These two universes (and others hinted at in this first chapter) are considered to be "one above the other" in the sense of abstraction being above the concrete.}

Chapter Two

Section One

There are twenty-two letters fundamentally. Three of them are the first elements, true fundamentals or mothers, seven are double and twelve are simple consonants. The three fundamental letters Aleph-Mem-Shin have as their basis the balance. In one scale is the merit and in the other the fault, which are placed in equilibrium by the tongue {This is shown in the Egyptian Book of the Dead as the Weighing of the Soul of the Dead and the Testing of the Balance by Thoth, the god of letters}. The three fundamental letters, Aleph, Mem, Shin, signify, as Mem is mute like the water and Shin hissing like the fire, there is Aleph among them, a breath of air which reconciles them. {The sounds of these three letters resemble the characteristic sounds of their elements: Mem is like the rolling of waves, Shin is Like the hissing of flames and Aleph is like the blowing of the wind.}

Section Two

These are the twenty-two letters which form the foundation {Yod-Samekh-Vau -Dalet, the name later applied to the ninth Sephira, is the word used here in the text.}, after having been appointed and established. He combined, weighed {assigned values} and exchanged them, and formed by them all beings which are in existence, and all these which will be formed in all time to come.

Section Three

He established twenty-two letters fundamentally by the voice, formed by the breath of air and fixed them on five places in the human mouth, namely: One at the throat {guttural sounds}, Aleph, Hay, Chet, Ayin. Two at the palate {palatal sounds}, Gimel, Yod, Kaf, Qof. Three, at the tongue {lingual sounds}, Dalet, Tet, Lamed, Nun, Taw. Four, at the teeth {dental sounds}, Zain, Shin, Samekh, Resh, Tzaddi. Five, at the lips {labial sounds}, Bet, Vau, Mem, Peh.

Section Four

He fixed the twenty-two Letters of foundation on the sphere like a wall with 231 gates, and turned the spheres forward and backward. For an illustration may serve the three letters, Gemel, Nun, Ayin. There is nothing better than joy {spelled Ayin-Nun-Gemel in Hebrew} and nothing worse than sorrow or plague {spelled Nun-Gemel-Ayin, in Hebrew. Thus various combinations of the same letters in this language can produce opposite meanings. This is a part of the mysticism of the letters, and also a part of the nature of Hebrew root word formations}

{Here is one traditional way of presenting the 231:

AB AG AD AH AV AZ ACh AT AY AK AL AM AN AS Aa'a AP ATz AQ AR ASh ATh
BG BD BH BV BZ BCh BT BY BK BL BM BN BS Ba'a BP BTz BQ BR BSh BTh
GD GH GV GZ GCh GT GY GK GL GM GN GS Ga'a GP GTz GQ GR GSh GTh
DH DV DZ DCh DT DY DK DL DM DN DS Da'a DP DTz DQ DR DSh DTh
HV HZ HCh HT HY HK HL HM HN HS Ha'a HP HTz HQ HR HSh HTh
VZ VCh VT VY VK VL VM VN VS Va'a VP VTz VQ VR VSh VTh
ZCh ZT ZY ZK ZL ZM ZN ZS Za'a ZP ZTz ZQ ZR ZSh ZTh
ChT ChY ChK ChL ChM ChN ChS Cha'a ChP ChTz ChQ ChR ChSh ChTh
TY TK TL TM TN TS Ta'a TP TTz TQ TR TSh TTh
YK YL YM YN YS Ya'a YP YTz YQ YR YSh YTh
KL KM KN KS Ka'a KP KTz KQ KR KSh KTh
LM LN LS La'a LP LTz LQ LR LSh LTh
MN MS Ma'a MP MTz MQ MR MSh MTh
NS Na'a NP NTz NQ NR NSh NTh
Sa'a SP STz SQ SR SSh STh
a'aP a'aTz a'aQ a'aR a'aSh a'aTh
PTz PQ PR PSh PTh
TzQ TzR TzSh TzTh
QR QSh QTh
RSh RTh
ShTh }

Section Five

But how was it done? He combined, weighed and exchanged: the Aleph with all the other letters in succession, and all the others again with Aleph; Bet with all, and all again with Bet; and so the whole series of Letters {was paired off in very possible way}. Hence it follows that there are 231 formations, and that every creature and every word emanated from one name.

{Extended Note: There are only 231 ways to combine the 22 Hebrew letters into different pairs. The one name is Schem, composed of the three Mother letters Shin, Aleph, and Mem, which provide the basis for all sounds. Schem is the Hebrew word for "Name" especially "Name of the divinity." Schem is usually spelled Shin-Mem, but Aleph can be added to the middle of the word without making a difference in its pronunciation.}

Section Six

He created a reality out of nothing, called the non-existing into existence and shaped colossal pillars from intangible air. This has been shown by the example of combining the letter Aleph with all the other letters, and all the other letters with Aleph. {Of the three Mother Letters, Aleph is the most basic. It's number value is One; and Aleph is the breath of sound carrying air that is necessary to pronounce any and all of the other letters. Thus, the gates of Aleph, the combinations formed between Aleph and all the remaining 21 letters produce the actual sounds of the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. The pairs or gates with Aleph ARE the spoken Hebrew letters.} He predetermined, and by speaking created every creature and every word by one name. For a sign of this may serve the twenty-two elementary substances {Alphabet letters} by the primitive substance of Aleph.

 

Chapter Three

Section One

The three first elements, Aleph Mem Shin, are typified by a balance, in one scale the merit and in the other the fault, which are placed in equilibrium by the tongue. These three mothers, Aleph Mem Shin, are a great, wonderful and unknown mystery, and are sealed by six rings, or elementary circles, namely: air, water, and fire emanated from them, which gave birth again to some offspring {These rings are the ways of ordering three letters, as: Aleph-Mem-Shin, male; Shin-Mem-Aleph, female; Shin-Aleph-Mem, male; Mem-Aleph-Shin, female; Mem-Shin -Aleph, male; Aleph-Shin-Mem, female}

Section Two

God appointed and established the three mothers; combined, weighed and exchanged them, and formed by them three mothers Mem Aleph Shin in the world {the six directions: Above, East and South are probably Male in this tradition. Below, West and North are probably Female in this tradition -- this is the key to the seals of the directions.}, in the year {The six warm months are female two by two while the six cold months are male two by two} and in man, male and female {Here the first rings apply to childhood, the third and fourth to adulthood and the last rings to age}.

Section Three

The three mothers Aleph-Mem-Shin in the world are: air, water and fire. Heaven was created from fire or ether {"heaven" or "schemim" starts with the letter Shin in Hebrew}; the earth {comprising sea above land -- "Mem" is both the name of Mem and the Hebrew word for sea} from the elementary water; and the atmospheric air from the elementary air, or spirit, which establishes the balance among them.

Section Four

The three mothers Aleph-Mem-Shin produce in the year heat, coldness and moistness. Heat was created from fire, coldness from water, and moistness from air which equalizes them {fire + water = steam or moist air: Shin + Mem = Aleph, in this particular mystical sense}.

{                1
          3      /      2
          \    /       /
           \컴컴컴컴컴 
          5\           /4
             \       /
               \ 6 /
             /     \
          8/         \  7
9
|
               / 컴 \
               |10   |
                컴컴            }
Section Five

The three mothers Aleph-Mem-Shin produce in man, male and female, breast, body and head. The head was created from fire {Shin, on the Tree of Life. The upper three Sephiroth are the three prongs of the letter Shin, while the base of the letter forms the Abyss, Aleph-Bet-Dalet-Heh.}, the (belly) from water {Mem, on the Tree of Life. The upper stroke of this letter is the Sephira Yesod -- which is spelled with Yod as its first letter in Hebrew -- and the body of this letter Mem is the Sephira Malkuth -- the Hebrew word "Malkuth" starts with the letter "Mem". In other words, Mem forms the two lowest Sephiroth.}, and the (breast in man, male and female {Aleph, on the Tree of Life forms the middle five Sephiroth by its upper two points, its lower two points and the intersection in the middle of the letter Aleph}) --> (Note: The text of Section Five is corrupt. It has here been "corrected" by comparison to sections six, seven and eight as well as an application of the "theory of cyclic permutation" from the modern mathematics of Group Theory.}

Section Six

First Division. He let the letter Aleph predominate in primitive air, crowned it {made it the top letter of the column in the middle of the Tree of Life. Descending the Tree of Life, the order of the three letters is Aleph, Mem and Shin (male) in Kether, Tiphereth and Yesod. The female order, Shin, Mem and Aleph is encountered by rising up the middle pillar of the Tree and thereby reversing this order.}, combining one with the other and formed by them the air in the world, moistness in the year, and the breast in man, male and female: in male by Aleph-Mem-Shin and in female by Shin-Mem-Aleph {Text corrected by Group Theory -- see note on Section Five. Note also that the breast is the place of the lungs.}

Section Seven

Second Division. He let the letter Mem predominate in primitive water, and crowned it, combined one with the other {made Mem the top letter of the column of Mercy on the right side of the Tree of Life. The order of the three letters is Mem, Shin and Aleph in the Sephiroth Chokmah, Chesed and Netzach {a male ring} going down, and the opposite order {female ring going up. This symbolically makes the pillar of Mercy Male as viewed from the bottom and female as viewed from the top -- there is another way of considering it predominantly male -- by application of the letters of the name Jehovah or Yahweh to the Tree.}, and formed by them the earth {with water over land} coldness in the year, and the belly in male and female; in male by Mem-Shin-Aleph, in female by Aleph-Mem -Shin. {Note that the belly in the human body holds most of the free water of the body.}

Section Eight

Third Division. He let the letter Shin predominate in primitive fire, crowned it, combined one with the other {made Shin the top of the column of severity on the Tree of Life. The order of these three letters is Shin, Aleph, Mem in the Sephiroth Binah, Geburah and Hod going down (Male ring) and Mem, Aleph, Shin going up (Female ring). This makes the pillar of Severity, the left column of the Tree of Life, Male when viewed from the top and Female when viewed from the bottom. By the method of placing Tetragrammaton on the Tree of Life this column is considered predominantly Female}, and formed by them, heaven in the world, heat in the year, and the head of male and female {As a Hebrew word, the name of the letter Shin means "tooth"; and of course the teeth are to be found in the head}.

 

Chapter Four

Section One

The seven double letters, Bet Gemel Dalet Koph Peh Resh Taw with a duplicity of pronunciation, aspirated {with a strong outward breath} and unaspirated {without a strong outward breath. These two modes of pronunciation are represented by the presence or absence of a dot in some forms of written and printed Hebrew, the dot or point being called Dagash and placed in the center of the letter} serve as a model of softness and hardness, strength and weakness

{At the time of the writing of the "Sepher Yetzirah" these seven letters were pronounced each in two ways: with outrush of air or with inward sound. They are models for opposite qualities and for the seven planets with their benign and malignant effects. Modern scholars differ as to which of the Hebrew letters originally had this double quality of pronunciation, Mordell holds that a form of Hebrew much older than the writing of the "Yetzirah" had a different usage of this double pronunciation. He has accordingly attempted to reconstruct a "more ancient" version of the "Yetzirh" {See Bibliography}. Modern Hebrew dialects retain a few of these double pronunciations and add new ones.}

Section Two

Seven double letters, Bet Gemel Dalet Koph Peh Resh Taw shall, as it were symbolize Life, Peace, Wisdom, Wealth, Beauty, Fruitfulness and Dominion {Note: this is the list according to the researches of the G.'. D.'.. The qualities are those listed in the "Sepher Yetzirah", but the order of the list is different. The same is true for associations to the seven planets -- for a comparison of the several orderings for these seven Double Letters which are to be found in the different versions of the "Yetzirah", see the Stenring translation noted in the Bibliography}.

Section Three

Seven double letters serve to signify the antithesis to which human life is exposed. The antithesis of Life is Death; of Peace, Strife or War; of Wisdom, Folly; of Wealth, Poverty; of Beauty, Ugliness; of Fruitfulness, Sterility or Childlessness; and of Dominion, Dependence or Slavery.

Section Four

The seven double consonants are analogous to the six dimensions: height and depth {Bet for Above, Gemel for Below}, East and West {Dalet for East, Koph for West}, North and South {Peh for North, Resh for South} and the holy temple that stands in the center {Taw}, which carries them all.

Section Five

The double consonants are seven, Bet Gemel Dalet Koph Peh Resh Taw and not six, they are seven and not eight; reflect upon this fact, inquire about it, and make it so evident, that the Creator be acknowledged to be on His throne again. 

{Although this particular statement is often taken as a slap against the speculations of the Gnostics, who were very much at the peak of their activity at the time in which the "Sepher Yetzirah" was written, there are other meanings. If the seven double letters are assigned to the lower seven Sephiroth of the Tree of Life, this may be an injunction to study the fifty gates of understanding; which are the meditations of each of the lower Sephiroth taken as containing divisions corresponding to all the lower seven Sephiroth -- seven times seven or forty-nine plus one, the fiftieth, to refer to the throne of the three higher Sephiroth. Alternately, this may be an injunction to meditate on the spatial or other configurations of these letters as a means of attaining a vision of the letter Taw as the throne of the Creator.}.

Section Six

The seven double consonants, fundamentally, having been designed and established, combined, weighed, and changed by God, He formed by them: seven planets in the world, seven days in the year, seven gates, openings of the senses, in man male and female.

Section Seven

The seven planets in the world are: Saturn {Taw}, Jupiter {Koph}, Mars {Peh}, Sun {Resh}, Venus {Dalet}, Mercury {Bet}, Moon {Gemel}. Seven days in the year are the seven days of the week {Sunday, Resh; Monday Gemel; Tuesday, Peh; Wednesday, Bet; Thursday, Koph; Friday, Dalet; and Saturday, Taw}; seven gates in man, male and female are: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and the mouth

{These applications of the planets to the double letters are the most highly corrupted matter in existing manuscripts of the "Sepher Yetzirah", as is noted further below. No definitive text exists in this matter. The attribution to the seven gates in man, male and female might be as follows: right eye, Bet; left eye, Gemel; right nostril, Peh; left nostril, Resh; right ear, Dalet; left ear, Koph; mouth, Taw. Although this seems reasonable, no certainty is claimed; the allocation suggested here to the human gates is merely plausible. The allocation to the planets is that used by the G.'. D.'. and by the older Thelemic Orders. This allocation to the gates is offered as one alternative to that below.

Section Eight

First Division. He let the letter Bet predominate in Life, crowned it, combined one with the other and formed by them: Mercury in the world, the Fourth day in the year, and the right eye in man, male and female {Contrary to the G.'. D.'. interpretation used here, the more reliable texts say: Moon, First Day and right eye}.

Section Nine

Second Division. He let the letter Gemel predominate in Peace, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them: the Moon in the world, the Second day in the year and right ear in man, male and female.

{There are various associations of the seven gates of the senses to different things. The whole matter is the subject of a tract in the "Sepher Zohar" "The Book of Concealed Mystery" -- this tract may be found in Mather's "Kabbalah Unveiled" and in Luzzatto's "General Principles of the Kabbalah". Neither of these two books provide an exact solution to the allocation of the seven double letters, but they provide material from which the problem may be attacked. The more reliable texts here assign: Mars, Second day and right ear.}

Section Ten

Third Division. He let the letter Dalet predominate in Wisdom, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them: Venus in the world, the sixth day in the year, the right nostril in man, male and female.

{The word translated there as "Man" is actually "Nepesh", the name of the "animal soul" or that which animates the body during life. This word is used in all statements like this one throughout the "Yetzirah" in the Hebrew text. Later mystical traditions ascribe the Nepesh soul to be the ghostly spirit that lingers after death in some cases while higher souls are said to ascend to better places. The more reliable texts here assign: Sun, Third day and right nostril.}

Section Eleven

Fourth Division. He let the letter Koph predominate in Wealth, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them: Jupiter in the world, the Fifth day in the year, and the left eye in man, male and female {The more reliable texts here assign: Venus, Fourth day, left eye}.

Section Twelve

Fifth Division. He let the letter Peh predominate in Beauty, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them: Mars in the world, the Third day in the year, and the left ear in man, male and female. {The more reliable texts say: Mercury, Fifth day, left ear}.

Section Thirteen

Sixth Division. He let the letter Resh predominate in Fruitfulness, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them: The Sun in the world, the First day in the year, and the left nostril in man, male and female. {The more reliable texts say: Saturn, Sixth day and left nostril.}

Section Fourteen

Seventh Division. He let the letter Taw predominate in Dominion, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them Saturn in the world, the Seventh day in the year, and the mouth of man, male and female. {The more reliable texts say: Jupiter, Seventh day and mouth.}

Section Fifteen

By the seven double consonants, Bet-Gemel-Dalet-Koph-Peh-Resh-Taw were also designed seven worlds {The lower seven Sephiroth}, seven Heavens {Not the same as the lower seven Sephiroth. The seven Heavens combine certain Sephiroth. They are: Malkut-Yesod, Tipheret; Hod; Netzach; Geburah; Chesed; Da'at-Binah; Chokmah; Keter, -- These are also not to be confused with the seven body centers or Chakras which are variously made to combine to the Sephiroth, most especially in this order: Malkut; Yesod; Hod-Netzach; Tipheret; Geburah-Chesed; Binah-Chokmah; Keter. This latter correspondence is an artificial one, for it breaks down at the Vishuddah, where a complex interaction involves several groups of Sephiroth, including Da'ath, in succession.} seven lands, seven seas, seven rivers, seven deserts, seven days in a week, seven weeks from Passover to Pentecost, there is a cycle, of seven years (widely used in Astrology under various names; e.g. the Saturn Return or Lunation Cycle about 28 years from birth. This country (U.S.A.) has laws based on the seven-fold cycle: legal age at 21, the President must be 35 or older}, the seventh is the release year {In the U.S.A. legal records and statuary limits on some crimes are retained for seven years}, and after seven release years is Jubilee {Fiftieth anniversary is still considered significant in our traditions}. Hence, God loves the number seven under the whole heaven {The theory of seven rays that is popular with Theosophists is based on this seven business. M. Blavatsky probably was greatly influenced by this source, as she was by the "Zohar" in her forgery of the "Seven Stanzas from the Book of Dzyan."}

Section Sixteen

Two stones build two houses {There are only two ways to combine two different letters}, three stones build six houses {the "six rings" of three different letters exhaust the possibilities for three different objects taken three at a time}, four build 24 houses, five build 120 houses, six build 720 houses and seven build 5,040. From thence further go and reckon what the mouth cannot express and the ear cannot hear. {This section outlines the power of combinations of magical powers of the letters and generally spaces out. The manuscripts here prove their corruption through various different errors in the numbers cited. The lost original probably had the combinatorial values correctly stated, as they are given in this edition).


Chapter Five

Section One

The twelve simple letters HB:Heh, Vau, Zain, Chet, Tet, Yod, Lamed, Nun, Samekh, Ayin, Tzaddi & Qof symbolize, as it were, the organs of sight, hearing, smell, speech, digestion or swallowing, touch or coition, work, walking, anger, mirth, thinking or meditation, sleep* {The Golden Dawn changed these qualities around quite a bit in disregard of a relatively uniform version in the manuscripts of the SEPHER YETZIRAH. In the following sections, the Golden Dawn term will be given first and then a version from the Kalisch translation: e.g. "Golden Dawn term (Kalisch term)".}

Section Two

The twelve simple consonants HB:Heh, Vau, Zain, Chet, Tet, Yod, Lamed, Nun, Samekh, Ayin, Tzaddi & Qof symbolize also twelve oblique points {The Order of the Golden Dawn says, in order: North East, HB:Heh ; South East, HB:Vau ; East Above, HB:Zain ; East Below, HB:Chet ; North Above, HB:Tet ; North Below, HB:Yod ; North West, HB:Lamed ; South West, HB:Nun ; West Above, HB:Samekh ; West Below, HB:Ayin ; South Above, HB:Tzaddi ; and South Below, HB:Qof. The Kalish translation gives in the same order for the letters: East Height, North East, East Depth, South Height, South East, South Depth, West Height, South West, West Depth, North Height, North West, North Depth.}. They grew wider and wider to all eternity, and these are the boundaries of the world. {In the Golden Dawn theory, as developed by Paul Foster Case, the posthumous founder of B.O.T.A., these 12 directions are the locations of the twelve edges of the "Cube of Space" which has for faces the first six double letters. Some Qabalistic studies attempt to define a diamond shape in three dimensions. In any event, this section is possibly the origin of the Masonic Temple of Solomon, which fills the universe through its duplication -- like three-dimensional tiles fitting together.}

Section Three

The twelve simple letters HB:Heh, Vau, Zain, Chet, Tet, Yod, Lamed, Nun, Samekh, Ayin, Tzaddi & Qof fundamentally, having been designed, established, combined, weighed and exchanged by Him, He performed by them: twelve constellations in the world, twelve months in the year, and twelve organs in the human body, male and female.

Section Four

The twelve constellations in the world are: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius Capricorn Aquarius and Pisces. The twelve {Hebrew} months of the year are: Nisan {the seventh month}, Ivar, Sivan, Tamus, Ab, Elul, Tishri, Mavcheshvan {also called Chesvan} Kislev, Tebet, Shebat and Adar. The twelve organs of the human body are: two hands two feet, two kidneys, gall, small intestines, liver, esophagus, stomach and milt (either the spleen or reproductive organs. Both systems have been often confused in Theosophical writings and ancient sources. The degree of absurdity involved in this relationship is incredible. This presumes a "rape" ethos in the culture, owing to the association of violence to the spleen and sex to the genitals.}

Section Five

First Division. God let the letter HB:Heh predominate in Sight {K.T. is Speech}, crowned it, combined one with the other and formed by them: Aries in the world, the month Nisan in the Year, and the right foot of the human body, male and female.

Section Six

Second Division. He let the letter HB:Vau predominate in Hearing {K.T. is Thinking}, crowned it combined one with the other, and formed by them: Taurus in the world, the month Iyar in the year and the right kidney of the human body, male and female.

Section Seven

Third Division. He let the letter HB:Zain predominate in Smell {K.T. is Walking}, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them: Gemini in the world, the month Sivan in the year, and the left foot of the human body, male and female.

Section Eight

First Division. He let the letter HB:Chet predominate in Speech {K.T. gives Seeing}, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them: Cancer in the world, the month Tamus in the year, and the right hand of the human body, male and female.

Section Nine

Second Division. He let the letter HB:Tet predominate in Digestion or Swallowing {K.T. gives Hearing}, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them: Leo in the world, the month Ab in the year, and the left kidney of the human body, male and female.

Section Ten

Third Division. He let the letter HB:Yod predominate in Touch or Coition {K.T. gives Working}, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them Virgo in the world, the month Elul in the year, and the left hand of the human body, male and female.

Section Eleven

First Division. He let the letter HB:Lamed predominate in Work {K.T. says Coition}, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them: Libra in the world, the month Tishri in the year, and the gall of the human body, male and female.

Section Twelve

Second Division. He let the letter HB:Nun predominate in Motion or Walking {K.T. says Smelling}, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them: Scorpio in the world, the month Marcheshvan in the year, and the small intestines of the human body, male and female.

Section Thirteen

Third Division. He let the letter HB:Samekh predominate in Anger {K.T. says Sleep}, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them: Sagittarius in the world, the month Kislev in the year, and the stomach of the human body, male and female.

Section Fourteen

First Division. He let the letter HB:Ayin predominate in Laughter {K.T. assigns Anger}, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them: Capricorn in the world, the month Tebes in the year, and the liver in the human body, male and female.

Section Fifteen

Second Division. He let the letter HB:Tzaddi predominate in Meditation or Thinking {K.T. assigns Swallowing}, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them: Aquarius in the world, the month Schwat in the year, and the esophagus of the human body, male and female.

Section Six

Third Division, He let the letter HB:Qof predominate in Sleep {K.T. assigns Laughing}, crowned it, combined one with the other, and formed by them: Pisces in the world, the month Adar in the year, and the milt of the human body, male and female.

He made them as a conflict, drew them up like a wall; and set one against the other as in warfare.

{This last point is explained by the observation that these twelve letters symbolize processes in human behavior that can interfere with each other. Some further points must now be made regarding the assignments of qualities and body parts to these twelve simple letters. In the Golden Dawn Tradition, many things are subordinated to the Astrological symbolism. This was true in the case of the Double letters, where one of several natural methods of assignment in the "Yetzirah" was passed over to provide a better match between the Double Letters and the planets to work with Tarot Trumps. The other methods do not work as well with the G.'. D.'. Tarot-Astrological system, and they are therefore excluded from "Liber 777". This should not make the student think that the primary method used there excludes the several systems proposed here. It is best to begin with a simple system. The serious student then must examine the other systems to determine the information contained in each of them. In the case of these Twelve Simple Letters, this is even more the case. The Golden Dawn -- "Liber 777" system has shifted the twelve qualities of the simple letters to make them match the usual qualities of the Astrological signs. The "Yetzirah" has set up an entirely new parallel system through these qualities which deserves its own study. The same is true of the body organs mentioned here. In the Golden Dawn system, these associations are omitted entirely. The usual associations to the Zodiac signs are assumed in place of these associations in the "Yetzirah" to body organs. It is suggested that these associations have a particular meaning of their own, and that the serious student will in time find it useful to study that system. By all means, begin with the simpler approach given in "Liber 777" and in the various works derived from the Order of the Golden Dawn. When comfortable with that approach, consider these other systems. It is the work of the advanced student of the mysteries to make these apparently diverse systems function well together -- even if the war of the simple letters is the only manner in which it may be done.

Always remember that the ideas presented in the "Yetzirah" are like words in their effect. The object is to first learn the simple uses of these ideas, and then to discover the uses of these ideas that are like circumlocutions, figures of speech and allegories. By that means, one can obtain the conversation of the Angels.}

Chapter Six

Section One

These are the three mothers or the first elements Aleph, Mem, and Shin, from which emanated three progenitors: primitive air, water and fire, and from which emanated as their offspring three progenitors and their offspring, namely: the seven planets and their hosts, and the twelve oblique points.

{The production of the double and single letters from the mother letters is like the interaction of the mother letters in the six rings: Example; Beth is like Aleph combined with Shin, HB:Gemel = HB:Aleph + HB:Mem, HB:Dalet = HB:Shin + HB:Mem, HB:Koph = HB:Bet + HB:Lamed, HB:Peh = HB:Bet + HB:Dalet, HB:Resh = HB:Dalet + HB:Gemel, HB:Taw = HB:Aleph + HB:Shin + HB:Mem = HB:Bet + HB:Gemel + HB:Dalet = HB:Koph + HB:Peh + HB:Resh, HB:Heh = HB:Aleph + HB:Koph, HB:Vau = HB:Aleph + HB:Peh, HB:Zain = HB:Aleph + HB:Resh, HB:Chet = HB:Aleph + HB:Taw, HB:Tet = HB:Shin + HB:Koph, HB:Yod = HB:Shin + HB:Peh, HB:Lamed = HB:Shin + HB:Resh, HB:Nun + HB:Shin + HB:Taw, HB:Samekh = HB:Mem + HB:Koph, HB:Ayin = HB:Mem + HB:Peh, HB:Tzaddi = HB:Mem + HB:Resh, HB:Qof = HB:Mem + HB:Taw -- this is obtained from the symbolic meaning of the letters and the dictionary meanings of the words they can be made to form. It is not simply related to the sounds of the letters or to their number values, although a complex relationship does exist through gematria. This theoretical example of the interrelationship of the letters is taken with permission from "Brief Meanings of the Hebrew Letters" by Bill Heidrick, copyright 1974 e.v.}

Section Two

To confirm this there are faithful witnesses; the world, year and man, the twelve, the Equipoise {Fire, Water and Air in balance}, the heptade {seven-fold nature of things}, which He regulates like the Dragon {Tali or the constellation Draco with its head and tail now taken in the simplified modern Astrology as the nodes of the Moon} sphere {the Hebrew word here is Galgal. It has the meaning of "machinery like turning wheels which drives the universe} and the heart {besides all this argument, it feels right}.

Section Three

The first elements Aleph, Mem and Shin are air, water and fire; the fire is above, the water below, and a breath of air establishes the balance among them. For an illustration may serve, that the fire carries the water, is the phonetic character of HB:Mem which is mute and HB:Shin is hissing like fire, there is HB:Aleph among them, a breath of air which places them in equilibrium.

Section Four

Dragon {Tali} is in the world like a king upon his throne, the sphere is in the year like a king in the empire, and the heart is in the human body like a king in war. {Thus the three mother letters are like Draco, the seven double letters are like the regular motions of the planets and the twelve single letters are like the easily upset functions of the body.}

Section Five

Elohim has also set the one over against the other; the good against the evil, and the evil against the good {here "good" is the Hebrew word "tob" which is the seal of creation used in Genesis and "evil" is "Ra" the name used by the Egyptians for the god of the sun -- a competitor of Jehovah}; the good proceeds from the good, and the evil from the evil; the good purifies the bad, and the bad the good; the good is preserved for the good, and the evil for the bad ones {The Qabalistic ideas of good and evil are very different from those of modern society. Avoid a moral interpretation here. In simple terms, "good" = "our side" and "evil" = "anything against us." The Qabalistic ideas are more complex than that, and they involve concepts much like those met in law courts.}.

Section Six

There are three of which every one of them stands by itself; one is in the affirmative, the other in the negative and one equalizes them {The three mother letters are viewed as plaintiff, defendant and judge}.

Section Seven

There are seven of which three are against three and one places them in equilibrium. There are twelve which are all the time at war; three of them produce love, and three hatred, three are animators and three destroyers {Beth vs. Gimel, Dalet vs. Koph, Peh vs. Resh with Taw placing them in equilibrium. As for the twelve which are at war, that matter depends on association to body parts and directions -- it is not clearly defined in the "Sepher Yetzirah", but needs more study.}.

Section Eight

The three that produce love are the heart and the ears; the three that produce hatred are the liver, the gall and the tongue; the three animators are the two nostrils and the milt; and the three destroyers are the mouth and the two openings of the body; and God, the faithful King rules over all from His holy habitation to all eternity. He is one above three, three are above seven, seven are above twelve, and all are linked together. {If the text is not corrupt in Section Eight, we may understand that: Gimel, Peh and either Aleph, Taw or Vau produce love; Lamed, Ayin and perhaps Taw produce hatred; Dalet, Resh and Qof are the animators; Peh and two other Letters are the destroyers. The issue is not clear.}

Section Nine

There are twenty-two letters by which the I AM {HB:Aleph-Nun-Yod-Heh}, Yah {HB:Yod-Heh}, He of the Hosts {HB:Yod-Heh-Vau-Heh Tzaddi-Bet-Aleph-Vau-Taw}, God Almighty {HB:Aleph-Lamed Shin-Dalet-Yod}, He Who Creates the Eiohim {HB:Yod -Heh-Vau-Heh Aleph-Lamed-Heh-Yod-Memfinal}, designed, formed and created by three Sepharim, His whole world, and formed by them creatures and all those that will be formed in time to come.

Section Ten

When the Patriarch Abraham comprehended the great truism, revolved it in his mind, conceived it perfectly, made careful investigations and profound inquiries, pondered upon it and succeeded in contemplations, the Lord of the Universe appeared to him, called him his friend, made with him a covenant between the ten fingers of his hands, which is the covenant of the tongue, and the covenant between the ten toes of his feet, which is the covenant of circumcision, and said of him: "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee." {Jer.l.5}

THUS ENDS

HB:Samekh-Peh-Resh Yod-Tzaddi-Yod-Resh-Heh


Bibliography

Copies and translations of the "Sepher Yetzirah":

Kalish, Isidor; first published English translation, 1877 e.v., includes Hebrew text. Reprinted by AMORC and others.
Stenring, Knut; first published in 1923, later editions exist. Compares several texts, includes "32 intelligences addition."
Suares, Carlo; English translation of the French edition, Shambala Press. 
Previously part published in "Tree" #2, Summer 1971.
Westcott, Wm. Wynn; translation first published in 1911, later editions exist.
Includes 32 intelligences and a few notes on the fifty gates --
taken from Kircher's 17th century "Oedipus Aegyptiacus" with little regard for accuracy.
Work of the Chariot, 1970. Available in several forms, with or without Hebrew text.

Studies:

"The Origin of Letters & Numerals According to the Sepher Yetzirah", by Phineas Mordell, 1914 and 1975. Published by Samuel Weiser, Inc.
Uses a linguistic approach. Many of the theories are of value, but the author is too loose with the text.
"De Arte Cabalistica," by Johannes Reuchlin, 1517. Contains the earliest printed version of major portions from the "Sepher Yetzirah" in a European language (Latin).

Manuscripts of the "Yetzirah" abound, mostly in Hebrew. There is an early English translation of the "Yetzirah" among the MSS in the collection of the Percy family (Dukes of Northumberland) at Alnwick Castle. The latter may have been acquired through the influence of John Dee, tutor to the Percy's in the 16th century. See A.C.L.S. British Manuscripts Project, Alnwick 123, Reel 0 41, for a microfilm copy of this MS -- Available through major University Libraries..

 

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