Submitted by Arjay on
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The Kabbala is a mystical teaching which tradition says goes back to the Biblical Abraham. It predates Judaism yet was kept alive within the Judaic religion. There is a range of disagreement about the place of continence by those involved in Kabbala. There is no disagreement about the nature of sex.

The Kabbalist Gershom Scholem suggests that the goal of kabbalistic sexual mysticism would be the timeless Platonic one of fusion in coitus with a pre-Creation God as a bisexual being, called the androgyne, wherein male and female unite as equals, and halves become whole. Accordingly, for the kabbalist as for every other sexual mystic the goal of all heterosexual intercourse, is to become a form of prayer.

The following excerpts are from Kabbalist Karen Berg.

Arjay

Karen Berg wrote:
According to Kabbalah, desire is the core essence of a human being. Desire is the stuff from which we are made. Desire is what fuels the entire human experience: art, literature, music, scientific discovery, and political revolution. They all begin with the ignition of a desire and longing that yearns to be fulfilled. And there is no more profound, potent, or potentially spiritual conduit for the expression of our desire than sex.

This essential Kabbalistic truth is so important, it bears repeating: There is no more profound, potent, or potentially spiritual conduit for the expression of our desire than sex. Whether we repress that energy, compartmentalize it as somehow "separate from sex," or recognize it and eventually cultivate it, it's there. It pulsates and permeates our entire being as a profound desire to connect with someone... with something outside of ourselves.

According to the Kabbalist, eroticism and arousal begin in the mystical intersection of our heads, hearts and souls. When we are willing to expose the totality of ourselves, and to focus on the emotional and spiritual aspects of our partners as well as their physical charms, then sex can be deeply intimate. When we become aware of the spiritual purpose and cosmic role that sex plays in the grand scheme of things, it becomes charged with discovery and spiritual energy.

According to Kabbalah, sex has the power to crackle electrically with intense energy and to provoke a heightened consciousness. It's not enough merely to turn on. Animals are capable of physical arousal without any forethought. One must have the courage and focus to tune in as well.
Disconnected, tuned-out sex between self-absorbed partners is incomplete sex. It feels small. It shrinks physical intimacy to its most limited possibilities, rendering it hollow; and quite often, predictable or even boring. Like a bad reproduction of a masterpiece painting, it replicates the moves but lacks the vision and inspiration that elevates the original to greatness. Sex that's divorced from our inner selves and from our partners prevents us from experiencing the kind of connections that evoke a sense of Heaven here on Earth.

Sensational sex occurs when one begins to grasp the purpose of creation, the origins of our soul, the meaning of our lives, and the "erogenous zones" of our cosmos. The underlying problem behind a lousy sex life and dysfunctional relationships, according to Kabbalah, is that we do not know:
Who we really are
Where we came from
Why a man and woman exist
The structure of the Cosmos
The meaning and purpose of our lives
The role of sex in the physical and metaphysical scheme of things
The tools necessary to arouse sexual energy in our lives.

In Kabbalah, spiritual awareness and sex, Heaven, and Earth are in an ongoing interaction with one another. The Upper and Lower worlds are intimately connected just as two lovers locked in embrace. This direct and constant relationship between the sacred "Upper World" and the everyday here on Earth is central to this body of ancient mysticism. According to Kabbalah, our lovemaking has an infinite potential. It has the power to be deeply meaningful. Kabbalah does not associate human sexuality with shame. A lover's kiss or sensual caress contain Divine sparks of energy.

Consider the vivid and frankly erotic Song of Songs. Mystics taught that there were cosmic truths to be found embedded in the sensual imagery of the poem, in lines that lushly describe lips that taste like wine and lovemaking that flows like myrrh. In fact, many medieval Kabbalists agreed that this rich, lyrical text contained more secrets to the Universe than any other scriptural work!
For example, the verse, "I am my beloved's and his desire is towards me" (Song of Songs, 7:11) is addressed memorably in The Zohar, which finds both "micro" and "macro" worlds to contemplate in a single line of poetry: "The inner meaning of this verse is that the stirring below is accompanied by a stirring above, for there is not stirring above until there is a stirring below."

There's great beauty and power in the way Kabbalistic thinking fuses the cosmic and the carnal, the world of two lovers with the entire Cosmos. Our hearts and souls are stirred along with our bodies. On a macrocosmic level, Kabbalah tells us that the elevated region of the Divine is stirred when our own physical world stirs. The "above" and "below" in this passage refer both to the spiritual and physical aspects of human beings, and to the "upper" and "lower" stirrings of the Heavenly Cosmos and of the physical Earth.

Thus, we discover that sex has a power that extends far, far beyond the door of the bedroom. This wisdom reveals to us how our most intense moments of eroticism and intimacy reverberate throughout the Cosmos-the way a small stone tossed into still, deep water causes ripples that radiate far outward from the original point of impact.

The ancient sages tell us something rather extraordinary about Kabbalistic wisdom itself. That is, the spiritual Kabbalistic knowledge is also the sum and substance of passion. In other words, the Kabbalistic wisdom that pertains to sex and the wisdom that pertains to the meaning of life are both, in fact, the actual material and stuff of sexual energy!

Note: Who was Abraham?
http://www.hermetics.org/Abraham2.html

Cathars

Thanks for posting this, Arjay. The Kabbalah is a big question mark for me. Its cosmology is so close to the Gnostic writings around the time of Christ, that I'm tempted to imagine a link. The Zohar was written in Spain, by mystically-inclined rabbis, if I'm not mistaken, around the time of the courtly love phenomenon. So one wonders about an indirect link between them.

Then too, some think that the courtly love movement was also indirectly an offshoot of Gnositicsm, a version of which was still kept alive by the Cathars and similar groups until shortly before the courtly love movement sprouted.

Here's an interesting quote showing how the Jewish Kabbalah, courtly love and Catharism could all have intermingled in Languedoc) from a fascinating website ( http://www.languedoc-france.info/1209_inquisition.htm ):

By the end of the fourteenth century Catharism had been virtually extirpated. Before the crusade the Languedoc, under the Counts of Toulouse, had been the most civilised land in Europe. With the notable exception of most of the Catholic priesthood, people had preferred simple asceticism to venality and corruption. Learning had been highly valued. Literacy had been widespread, and popular literature had developed earlier than anywhere else in Europe. Religious tolerance had been widely practised. Jews enjoyed ordinary civil rights. This had been the home of courtly love, poetry, romance, chivalry and the troubadours. All this was swept away by the Crusade and Guzman's Inquisition. To learn about the methods by which this was acheived, and by which the first Police State in Europe was created, click here

For anyone who doesn't know, the Cathars (southern France) believed in asceticism and equality between the sexes. They were vegetarians and thought procreative sex was a bad idea from a spiritual perspective.

The Cathars were persecuted by the Church for their unorthodox beliefs (which were very like the early gospels that turned up in Egypt in 1945, which preceded the Roman/Pauline thinking), notwithstanding their purity...thousands of of them were burned alive in Southern France and elsewhere between 1000 and 1300...in an absolutely nauseating display of orthodox intolerance. This was during the Inquisition madness.

So what I want to know is, were the "pure" Cathars and the "lustier" Kabbalah-folk just two slightly off-target offshoots of Christ's origninal message about a "pure intercourse" that could be used for reuniting male and female and recreating divine androgyny for a higher end than mere procreation? Or did one of these traditions have a missing piece that I still don't see?

Here's a link about the origins of the Cathars: http://www.languedoc-france.info/1204_origins.htm Here's a link that talks about how their claims to a "purer, older form of Christianity" are being vindicated by scholars today: http://www.languedoc-france.info/1201_beliefs.htm

Any thoughts?

Sex and Kabbala

Actually there are many missing pieces. Here are some:

The origin of the Hebrew letters and Their function as magical “sigils”.
The Kabbala of Jesus (Kabbala predates the Zohar).
The Jewish Theraputae.
The identity of the Magi.
The profession of Story Tellers with eidetic memory.
The pre Christian meaning of the word apape (as in the Song of Songs)
The Song of Songs as the most important Kabbalistic scripture.
The influence of Kabbala on the Platonists.
The practice of Agapetism in the early church (which continued in monastic circles.)
The SufiÂ’s of Spain.
The Celtic history of Western Europe.
The symbolic ritual of knighthood.
And probably, the Ark of the Covenant.
... Just to name a few. If I gave it all to you, it would be the book I havenÂ’t yet written.

Much of what I have written on Yahoo circles around it. Here is a further hint:

In the Zohar we see YHVH (Creation) saying that “He” ( the masculine principle) is hidden, and shall be known as Adonai ; “Lord”. ( See Yahoo post of April 1) Which is immanent in all creation and evoked as a presence; “His” bride, the Shekinah is that presence.

God introduced himself to Abraham as El Shaddai., the “God with Breasts”. Truly an androgynous image less erotic than emotive. El Shaddai is the Jewish “Holy Spirit” which among the early Christians was symbolized by a female. In the tradition of the Shekinah

“... El Shaddai seems to be an old testament name for the one we call the Holy Spirit.” Jesus says that blasphemy against the Father and the Son may be forgiven, but not against the Holy Spirit, suggesting a hierarchical ascendancy and dominance of this feminine Spirit/inspiration over the masculine Word/imagery of Godhead. “The letter kills but the spirit gives life.”

OT scripture used the imagery of a bird to depict her Nature ... “The psalmist quite often speaks of dwelling under the wings of the Lord.” The “Lord” being often interpreted in the churches today as Jesus. Yet in the Zohar, Adonai is that feminine “presence” of Divine manifestation. The Jewish man was blessed if he could see a vision of this Shekinah, as a woman, just once in his life.

Jesus says: “How often have I yearned to gather your children, as a mother bird gathers her young under her wings, but you refused me”. Jesus here identifies himself with El Shaddai. The New Covenant has been inferred as a covenant with the exiled Female Principle.

In the Christian tradition Jesus is also symbolized as a fish. By association and especially as a drawn symbol, it is quite female. In the tradition of courtly love, Minne, the ‘lady of thought’ is symbolized as a fish with breasts - a mermaid - and the ‘lady love’ is addressed as mi’dons, “my lord”. It is then not so far fetched in the light of the above, to see in courtly love a covert reverence of the feminine aspect of godhead which Abraham came to know. It is too bad that what most people know of courtly loves comes through the filters of C.S. Lewis and others who have no idea of sacred sex.

We see that in the Zohar, as written and ancient oral Kabbalistic tradition, there is warrant to perceive God as exemplifying the feminine: intuitive wise, relational, nurturing aspects which are the fruits of Christian idealism. Of course the Spirit has masculine qualities as well. Thus the Nature of the Divine is symbolically androgynous, male and female: Elohim - The “creator goddess” in which image we were formed (Male and female) - is translatable as god and goddess. It is the reuniting of these poles which is perfection for Kabbalist, Tantrist and Depth Psychologist alike. I believe this is what Jesus taught based on the Gospel of Thomas and the New Testament in the light of a Kabalistic interpretation of the Old Testament.

The courtly “Priesthood of Love” practiced the sacrament of Fin’ amore - refined/pure love - reminiscent of Agapetism. The Song of Songs reflect this pre Christian meaning of Agape which IS usually connected with sex, or at least with the love of women. The German Troubadours (the most strict) held the terms Minnedienst (the service of Minne) and Frauendienst (the service of women) as nearly synonymous. In a Kabbalistic midrash (interpretation) on the Song of Songs by Carlos Suarez, the woman is cautioned not to sucumb to the way a man want’s to make love. The troubadours did not - woman was his initiatrix into Love, through an embrace most sensual and reminiscent of what we think the Sacrament of the Bridal Chamber may have been among certain Gnostics. Then again, some believe that Agapetism was practiced covertly in Irish monasteries into the middle ages. We don’t necessarily need the Gnostics as a model of practice. (There were libertines and ascetics among them as there were in the secular forms of courtly love. Such is the nature of humanity when dealing with desire.)

This is but the tip of the iceberg! And I have scarcely done it justice in this post, but in this forum I can delete and edit this if I choose. All of this is of course intellectual indulgence. In this I seek only to create a new future of inquiry into possibility not a dogma, for history is as much an art of interpretation as a study of fact.

~

A Friend once gave the very Grail to my lips
and made me drunk with eternities bliss.
That Friend resides in the core of hearts.
That Friend by many names is God,
the very throne and crown of Life.
Yet, of all the beautiful names of my Lord,
I cherish especially this single term;
El Shaddai ... God, "the breasted one".
For beneath Her blessed wing like robes
I find fulfilled my errant knightly quest.
A lady's mercy is now a true abode of rest.
No more can I discern between earth and sky
As these days of sacred madness unfold.
A honey filled fountain is my only desire.
So sweet the wine of loveÂ’s un-emptied cup.
And each sigh a tear in the fabric of time
through which I free my soul, Oh yes,
Sigh O' surrendered, wine enamored heart,
for sake of love, strengthened by her kiss.
How false a Creator that would not espouse
this faultless essence of his creatures longing,
or be not present in a single flowers bloom.