Updated: Sep 9
From the book of The Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune.
In a previous chapter we have referred to the Qliphoth, the evil and averse Sephiroth; the time has now come to study them in detail, even though "these are awful forms, dangerous even to think upon."
It may be asked why, since these forms are reputed to be so dangerous even to think about, it is necessary to study them. Were it not better to turn the mind away from them and prevent the images of such evil forces from formulating in consciousness? In answer to this question we may cite the precepts of Abramelin the Mage, whose system of magic is the most potent and complete that we possess. According to his system, the operator, after a prolonged period of purification and preparation, evokes not only the angelic forces, but also the demoniac ones.
A good many people have burnt their fingers with the system of Abramelin, and the reason is not far to seek; for if we examine their records we find that they have never followed the system in its entirety, but picked out a ceremony here and an invocation there for performance as the mood took them. Consequently Abramelin's system has got a bad name as being a singularly dangerous formula; whereas, performed in its entirety, it is a singularly safe one, because it deals with all the reactions of the invoked forces under what might be termed laboratory conditions and neutralises them.
Whoever attempts to work with the positive aspect of a Sephirah must remember that it also has a negative aspect, and unless he can maintain the necessary equilibrium of forces, that negative aspect is liable to come uppermost and swamp the operation. There is a point in every magical operation when the negative aspect of the force comes up to be dealt with, and unless dealt with will lure the experimenter into the pit which he has digged. It is a sound magical maxim not to invoke any force unless you are equipped to deal with its averse aspect.
Dare you invoke the fiery energy of Mars (Geburah) into your nature unless you have sufficiently purified and disciplined yourself to be sure that you can prevent the Martian force from going to extremes and leading to cruelty and destructiveness? If you have any insight into human nature at all, you must be aware that everyone has the faults of his qualities-that is to say, if he is vigorous and energetic he is liable to fall into cruelty and oppression; if he is calm and magnanimous he is liable to the temptations of laisse-faire and inertia.
The Qliphoth are aptly termed the evil and averse Sephiroth, for they are not independent principles or factors in the cosmic scheme, but the unbalanced and destructive aspect of the Holy Stations themselves. There are, in fact, not two Trees, but one Tree, a Qliphah being the reverse of a coin of which the obverse is a Sephirah. Whoever uses the Tree as a magical system must perforce know the Spheres of the Qliphoth, because he has no option but to deal with them.
It is only upon the plane of Atziluth that there is but one Name of Power associated with a Sephirab, and that is the Deity Name. To the archangel corresponds the devil, and to the choir of angels the cohort of demons, and the Sephirothic Spheres have their correspondence in the Infernal Habitations.
The student must carefully distinguish between what the occultist calls positive and negative evil. This is a very important point in esoteric philosophy, and a failure to realise its significance leads into far-reaching practical errors and cripples the whole life and work of the initiate, or, for the rnatter of that, of any human being who is endeavouring to develop a modicum of free-will and self-governance. It is a point which is but little understood, but it is a singularly important point in practice, because it influences so immediately cur outlook, judgment, and conduct.
Positive evil is a force which is moving against the current of evolution; negative evil is simply the opposition of an inertia which has not yet been overcome, or of a momentum which has not yet been neutralised. Let us make these definitions clear by an example. The natural conservatism of a mature mind is regarded as evil by the would-be reformer; the natural iconoclasm of youth is regarded as evil by the administrator who has established his system. Nevertheless, we cannot dispense with either of these opposing factors if society is to be maintained in a healthy state; between them we achieve a steady progress that neither disorganises society nor permits it to sink into inertia and decay. Both these factors are indispensable to social welfare, yet either of them, unchecked, would lead to harm.
We cannot consider either of them, then, as a social evil unless it is overdone. We should therefore, in the terminology of esoteric philosophy, classify conservatism as negative evil when considered from the standpoint of the reformer, and iconoclasm as negative evil when considered from the standpoint of the conservative.
11. Positive evil is a different matter. It may be of the nature of an iconoclasm carried too far that descends into sheer anarchy; or of conservation carried too far, and becoming class privilege and vested interest militating against the general welfare. Or it may take the form of actual political corruption, which destroys the efficiency of the administrative machine; or of social corruption, such as organised prostitution or child-labour, which undermines the health of the body politic.
The conservative impulse and the radical impulse will both draw to themselves those who are in sympathy with their viewpoints, and their supporters will soon organise themselves into political parties; these parties are not evil save in the prejudiced eyes of their political opponents; the main body of the nation opposes and supports them impartially and turn about, recognising that they represent compensating factors. Equally, the corrupt and criminal elements in society will tend to organise a Tammany Hall of their own. Now the Conservative and Radical parties might be likened to Chesed and Geburah respectively; Tammany Hall might be compared to the Qliphah corresponding to Geburab, the Burning and Contending Forces; and the organised Diehards to the Qliphah of Chesed, the Permitters of Destruction.
Negative evil is the practical corollary of the principle of Equilibrium. Equilibrium is the result of the balance of contending forces; consequently they must pull one against the other. We must not make the mistake of classing one of a pair of contending forces as good and the other as evil; to do so is to fall into the fundamental heresy of dualism.
The instructed and enlightened expositors of all religions regard dualism as a heresy; it is only ignorant adherents of a faith who believe in the conflict between light and darkness, spirit and matter, which shall eventually result in the triumph of the god and the total abolition and elimination of all opposing influences. Protestant Christianity forgets that Lucifer is the Light-bearer, Satan a fallen angel, and that Our Lord did not limit His ministrations to humanity, but descended into Hell and preached to the spirits in prison. We cannot deal with evil by cutting it off and destroying it, but only by absorbing and harmonising it.
In all our calculations and conceptions we must carefully distinguish between the resistance of the compensating Sephirah and the influence of the corresponding Qliphah. The two Trees, Divine and Infernal, Sephirothic and Qliphothic, are usually represented as they would appear if the obverse Tree were a reflection of the Celestial Tree in a mirror at its base, reaching downwards in proportion as the other reaches upwards. We should get a better concept if we conceived of the two glyphs as inscribed upon either side of a sphere, so that if a pendulum swinging between Geburah and Gedulah (Mars and Jupiter) overreached itself in either direction it would commence to circle round to the reverse side of the globe and come into the sphere of influence of the corresponding averse Sephirab. If it swung too far towards Geburah (Severity) it would come into the Sphere of the Burning and Destroying Forces and of Hatred; if it swung too far in the direction of Mercy it would come into the Sphere of the Permitters of Destruction, and there is much significance in that name.
The mystic tells us that it is his aim to work in the sphere of pure spirit without any alloy of earth, and therefore he calls upon the Name of God alone; but the occultist replies As long as you are in a body of earth you are a child of earth, and spirit for you cannot be without alloy. When you call upon the love of God it cannot come to you save through a Redeemer. The Sphere of the Redeemer is Tiphareth and its archangel is Raphael, the healer, for do we not recognise the influence of the Redeemer through its healing influence upon body and soul? But the reverse of the Redeemer who harmonises are the Zourmiel, the Disputers, "the great black giants ever working against each other." Do we not see their influence in the harsher doctrines of Christianity, in the idea of everlasting punishment under the dominion of the Devil as contrasted with everlasting reward under the dominion of the vengeful and venal Jehovah? If these are not Dual Contending Forces, what are they? Modern religious thought makes a great error in not re~ising that one can have too much of a good thing.
The only time when there is perfect equilibrium of force is during a Pralaya, a Night of the Gods. Force in equilibrium is static, potential, never dynamic, because force in equilibrium implies two opposing forces which have perfectly neutralised each other and thus rendered each other inert, inoperative. Upset the equilibrium, and the forces are freed for action, change can take place; growth, evolution, organisation can occur. There is no possibility of progress in perfect equilibrium; it is a state of rest. At the end of a Cosmic Night it is said that equilibrium is overset, and in consequence an outfiowing of power takes place once more and evolution begins again.
The equilibrium of the universe may best be likened to the swing of a pendulum rather than the grip of a clamp. It is not held immobile, and there is all the difference in the world between those two concepts. For in poise there is always a slight vibration, a push~pull between the opposing forces that holds it steady; it is a stability, not of inertia, but of strain.
This is represented on the Tree by the two Pillars of Mercy and Severity which pull against each other. Geburah (Severity) pulls against Gedulah (Mercy). Binah (Form) pulls against Chokmah (Force). If this counter-pull ceased, the universe would collapse, as a man who is pulling on a rope collapses if the rope breaks. We must clearly realise that this tension, this resistance against which we have to strain in whatever we may be doing, is not evil; it is the necessary counterpoise of whatever force we are employing.
As was pointed out in a previous chapter, each Qliphah arose primarily as an emanation of unbalanced force in the course of the evolution of the corresponding Sephirah. There was a period when the forces of Kether were overflowing to form Chokmah, and the Second Path was in process of becoming, but not yet fully established; therefore Kether must have been out of equilibrium-overflowing but not yet compensated. We see this phenomenon of the pathological transition stage clearly exhibited in the case of the adolescent who has ceased to be a child under control, and has not yet become an adult and self-controlled.
It was this inevitable period of unbalanced force, the pathology of transition, that gave rise to each Qliphah in turn. It follows then that the solution of the problem of evil and its eradication from the world is not to be achieved through its suppression, cutting off, or destruction, but through its compensation and consequent absorption back into the Sphere whence it came. The unbalanced force of Kether, which gave rise to the Dual Contending Forces, must be neutralised by a corresponding increase in the activity of Chokmah, Wisdom.
The unbalanced force of each Sephirab then, which arose unchecked during the temporary phases of disequilibrium that occur periodically in the course of evolution, forms the nucleus around which were organised all the thought-forms of evil arising in the consciousness of sentient beings or through the operation of blind forces that happen to be out of equilibrium, each kind of inharmony seeking its own place. It will follow, then, that what was at first a mere overplus of a force, both pure and good in its intrinsic nature, may, if not compensated, become in the course of ages a highly organised and developed centre of positive and dynamic evil.
An example will once again help us to make this clear. An overplus of the necPssary energy of Mars (Geburah), the energy that budges inertia and clears away that which is effete and outworn, would be certain to occur during the period prior to the emanation of Tiphareth, the Redeemer. As soon as emanated, the Redeemer would compensate the seventies of Geburah, even as Our Lord said: "A new law give I unto you. Ye shall no longer say, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth . . ." Now this uncompensated severity of Geburah gave us the jealous God of the Old Testament and all the religious persecutions that have ever been done in His unbalanced Name. It forms the Qliphah of Geburah, and every cruel and oppressive nature is in sympathy with it. To its Sphere goes all the overplus of the force thev emanate that is not absorbed by the opposing force in the universe-all the unslaked revenge, all the unsatisfied lust of cruelty; and these forces, whenever they find a channel of expression opening up, nse through it. Consequently the man who gives way to cruelty soon finds that he is not merely expressing the impulses of his own undeveloped or misshapen nature, but that a great force like a stream in spate is urging him on, driving him from one outrage to another till finally he loses his selfcontrol and discretion, and is swept away to self-destruction by some incautious expression of his impulses.
Whenever we make ourselves the channel of any pure force, that is to say any force which is single and undiluted by ulterior motiv&s and secondary considerations, we find that there is a river in spate behind us-the stream of the corresponding Sephirothic or Qliphothic forces that is finding a channel through us. It is this that gives the singleminded zealot his abnormal power.
From the book of The Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune.