Jewish Mysticism

I seek out the mysteries of life through a path called witchcraft. As a witch (not to be confused with Wicca) I follow what is commonly called traditional witchcraft (insert your own definition here). To my mind, a true tradition is one that defines and then redefines those mystical experiences that work for the individual. One cannot be enmeshed within a religion of any sort and still be able to honestly seek out knowledge in such a manner. For to do so would be to rebel against the boundaries of said religion and thus would indicate a desire to separate oneself from that particular mindset. When that happens, one is no longer a devout member of the religion in question at the time.                             A traditional witch; is not penned in by strict parameters that define the direction of one’s thoughts and experiences, as is the case with religions. Such a seeker is a free thinker with unlimited freedom in their spiritual quest and their experimentation within the throes of magic.                                                                                                                              As part of this method of seeking, I personally look towards the magical practices of various religions around the world. For every religion, however subtle and/or buried in denial, has a basis of magic which is inherent to that particular religion. It is often a basis of thought and lifestyle that was present prior to a particular religion seeping in and defining what is then acceptable in thought and deed. When this happens, the magical practises of those who are being inoculated with a religion gets relegated to a position of taboo and/or outright denial.                                                Since the Hebrew religious beliefs are the catalyst for the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions, which to my mind are the three greatest threats to the free will of humankind, I would like to take a brief look at their modes of magic and indeed the underlying hypocrisy that defines such a belief in magic.                                                                               In general, when it comes to magic, the Hebrews define it as that which is practiced by magicians and that which is practiced as a witch. The term “witch” almost always refers in a derogatory manner to a woman practitioner which underlines the bias that is assigned to women within the three Abraham religions. To the Hebrew, witches were women who used spoken curses to injure other people or destroy their property. To the contrary, magicians were primarily diviners and for the most part were male.                                                                                                                             As it is, originally the Hebrew actually worshipped a female Goddess in the form of “Ashera” prior to the patriarchal school of thought taking hold within the three forenamed religions.                                                                                        The art of the magicians it would seem fell under the guise of being a seer. And though all forms of magic whether by a magician or a witch was frowned upon and/or outright condemned, it was common knowledge that such means of acquiring knowledge was ever present within the confines of the Hebrew religion. As a side note, a magician was also known as a wizard (or “yiddeoni”, a wise one, a knowing one). “Wizard” was formerly considered as the masculine form of witch within the Hebrew beliefs.                                                                                                                                    One of the oldest form of magic as practiced by magicians (yiddeoni) was that of consulting those who had passed through the veil. The spirit of those who had passed was called an “ob”. Often and ironically, the one doing the calling was known as “a mistress of the ob” and thus was called a “ba’alat ob”. If one reads into I Sam. xxviii. 3, 7 et seq, one will find where King Saul employed such a person known as the Witch of Endor, to contact the spirit of Samuel.              Another class of magicians was known as "me'onenim". Their roots originated from the magical beliefs of the Philistines, a people whose roots extend to those of the ancient Greek. Such magicians were known for their monotonous croon called "saj'" and a low murmur, "zamzamah," or whisper "was-wasah."                                               And then there was a class of seers or soothsayers known as the “mekashshefim”. A biblical reference can be found in Deut. xviii. 11.  The root word "kashaf" is thought to indicate the use of magical applications or drugs by the mekashshefim. In response to these practices one finds Ex. xxii. 18 “Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live”, which in the original Hebrew read “Thou shalt not suffer a poisoner to live”.                                                                            And yet another form of Hebrew magician was the “lahash”. This is a form of divination done by way of charming, in general by way of snakes. It is interesting to note here that the snake was also the symbol of Ashera (a healing Goddess) who was in time, associated with the Caduceus. As with all forms of divination a reference to this practice is found in Deut. xviii. 10 - 11. There are of course other methods of charming that were employed.                 For instance a similar form was called “nahsha” which was divination using natural occurrences such as the flight of birds. In II Sam. v. 24, David was said to have received an omen from the sounds heard in the tops of trees.                              And finally there is “Kesem”, which is divination by way of arrows. A reference can be found in Ezek. Xxi, 21, where the King of Babylon is said to have used this form of divination.                                                                                            In all of these instances, the form of magic used by the various classes of magicians was against the patriarchal school of Hebrew religious tenets. And yet many of the notable personas who contributed to the forming of the Modern Hebrew religion did in fact engage in some form of divination, often without suffering the punishments meted out to their followers for similar involvements.                                                                                                                            This denial of the magic arts and its inherent underlying hypocrisy is a similar theme found throughout the three Abraham religions. And now as former members of these three religions attempt to form a set of beliefs called Neo Paganism, this mindset surreptitiously creeps into the tenets of the magical arts.                                                                  Modern pagans (Neo Pagans) if you will, tend to fall into the parameters of their former religious habits. For instance, free thinkers are disparaged for not following the set parameters of a certain individual/group. Neo pagans tend to place more value on something as useless as lineage to a certain individual rather than on critical thinking and the freedom of will to actually explore the mystical arts.                                                                                                     There is a tendency to ignore the ways of old as a platform upon which to expand ones spiritual/mystical experiences, in favor of a modern interpretation based upon instant gratification and superfluous posturing. Just look at the plethora of 101 books out there that basically mimic each other. Such a mindset is that of a stifling religion rather than that of witchcraft which knows no such self limiting parameters. There will be those who will try to make the case that my use of the term “witchcraft” is an attempt to elevate one path over another. Actually I use the term witchcraft as a general description of the mystical arts.                                                                                                                                             At any rate, no one person has a complete knowledge of the mystical arts nor does one path work for all. The only right religion/spiritual path is the one that works for the individual. It is when folks attempt to elevate themselves and/or their particular group that one sees the parameters of religion taking over. True witchcraft can never exist with the confines of a religion. To attempt to place witchcraft within a particular set of accepted beliefs would in essence be an oxymoron for it would take away the freedom of exploration and experimentation which is so essential to the true growth of traditional witchcraft. Of course one could follow the example of the Hebrews and their subsequent offshoots and live within the throes of hypocrisy. But then that would never happen, or would it???