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The GD Kabbalah


First of all what is the Traditional Kabbalah?
And what is the GD Kabbalah?

Are there clear distinction between the two? If so, how and what are they?
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I did some reading on Kabbalah these days, and it is mainly based on the Old Testament. The main Kabbalistic textbooks such as Zohar, Sefer Yetzira and Bahir, they are all commentaries and studies of the Old Testament in the Bible.

So then what is the Golden Dawn Kabbalah? Do they follow the tradition, or have they created and gone on different paths?
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As I understand it, the Golden Dawn kabbalah was an hermetic adaptation of the original rabbinical version (which was an oral rather than written tradition); both Mathers and Waite did extensive translations of the Knorr von Rosenroth Latin translation of the Hebrew ("Kabbalah Denudata"). I may not have my facts entirely straight here; some of our more expert scholars will have more to say on the subject, I'm sure.
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You might look for The Kabbalah of the Golden Dawn by Pat Zalewski. It's a complicated subject but this is one of the best books I know of to start with.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
You might look for The Kabbalah of the Golden Dawn by Pat Zalewski. It's a complicated subject but this is one of the best books I know of to start with.
I have the Zalewski book and have tried to read it on several occasions, but it always defeats me. Can't really say why, but I lose interest.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barleywine View Post
As I understand it, the Golden Dawn kabbalah was an hermetic adaptation of the original rabbinical version (which was an oral rather than written tradition);
But the 'original rabbinical version' is nothing of the sort. There's no such thing as "Traditional Kabbalah" that exists as a unified, homogeneous doctrine. To say there's an 'original version' makes it sound like Hermetic Qabalah is just some sort of deviant spin off. But there are many divergent threads within the Rabbinic tradition too. And some of those threads contain stuff which is more modern than the Hermetic tradition.

For example the Hermetic tradition generally uses the older attributions of the Sepher Yetzirah. The Rabbinic tradition uses a version of the Sepher Yetzirah that was 'retrofitted' to the Zohar via committee action over several centuries. And yet just by virtue of being 'Rabbinic' it is considered 'authentic', 'original', 'traditional'.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeon418 View Post
To say there's an 'original version' makes it sound like Hermetic Qabalah is just some sort of deviant spin off.
I guess it depends on who you're talking to. In the minds of those same "traditional rabbis" any religion that isn't at least two thousand years old is a cult, and even that's being generous. (:

But, as with any body of knowledge, when something has been around long enough offshoots and adaptations will naturally form and you get many different traditions, each claiming to be "the one." Since we can't tell for certain what is the "true" Kabbalah, we can go to the history books and trace its lineage from there, although that in itself doesn't give much of an answer. Kabbalah probably began from Merkabah mysticism which was (probably, maybe) the formal beginnings of proper Jewish mysticism, around 800 BC. Things get fuzzy after that, but we do know that the Zohar was published in the 13th century by Moses de Leon, and was "ascribed" to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai who lived around the destruction of the Second Temple. It's probable he didn't actually write it, most occultists claim ancient lineages and authority.

In any case, what we know as "modern traditional Kabbalah" probably dates back to the 16th century with a new interpretation written by Rabbi Isaac Luria.

The history is muddled, of course, because different things were happening in different places of the world at once, and it was only later that different writings were codified into canon. It doesn't take Hermetic Qabalah into consideration, which began during the Renaissance as an offshoot of Christian Qabalah...

Anyway... since, as Aeon said, there's really no objective "original" version, anything is always a variation or adaptation. The Golden Dawn didn't take something original and then changed it, but rather adapted a version that was by then in vogue for several centuries.
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So there is no original Cabala as such, or if there were, the origin is fuzzy? Maybe due to the secrecy of the system hidden away for centuries, and multiplicity of their schools and practices perhaps?

And Hermetic Cabala is an offshoot of the Christian cabala in Renaissance times, which were adopted by the GD? How is it different from the Christian Cabala? What are the affinities, and differences, if any?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barleywine View Post
I have the Zalewski book and have tried to read it on several occasions, but it always defeats me. Can't really say why, but I lose interest.
This had been the case with me, but since Abrac recommended in his post, I am going to try having another go.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zephyros View Post
I guess it depends on who you're talking to. In the minds of those same "traditional rabbis" any religion that isn't at least two thousand years old is a cult, and even that's being generous. (:

But, as with any body of knowledge, when something has been around long enough offshoots and adaptations will naturally form and you get many different traditions, each claiming to be "the one." Since we can't tell for certain what is the "true" Kabbalah, we can go to the history books and trace its lineage from there, although that in itself doesn't give much of an answer. Kabbalah probably began from Merkabah mysticism which was (probably, maybe) the formal beginnings of proper Jewish mysticism, around 800 BC. Things get fuzzy after that, but we do know that the Zohar was published in the 13th century by Moses de Leon, and was "ascribed" to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai who lived around the destruction of the Second Temple. It's probable he didn't actually write it, most occultists claim ancient lineages and authority.

In any case, what we know as "modern traditional Kabbalah" probably dates back to the 16th century with a new interpretation written by Rabbi Isaac Luria.

The history is muddled, of course, because different things were happening in different places of the world at once, and it was only later that different writings were codified into canon. It doesn't take Hermetic Qabalah into consideration, which began during the Renaissance as an offshoot of Christian Qabalah...

Anyway... since, as Aeon said, there's really no objective "original" version, anything is always a variation or adaptation. The Golden Dawn didn't take something original and then changed it, but rather adapted a version that was by then in vogue for several centuries.
Thanks for putting some names and dates to the context; I've seen most of them before but it's been a long time. A couple of questions: where does Knorr von Rosenroth fit into the picture? I understand he wrote in Latin. And I'd like to know more about its origins as an "oral tradition," or "received teaching." The idea seems to have been that trying to write it all down somehow devalued it.
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