The Year of Jubilee



Chapter Two:

In Dubious Battle


          ... Hail horrors, hail

 Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell

 Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings

 A mind not to be changed by Place or Time.

 The mind is its own place, and in itself

 Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n”

—John Milton, Paradise Lost



“The Mind is its own Place,” the Apostate Angel tells us.  Milton’s poetic insight strikes us as immediately and intuitively True, which is what makes it so beautiful.  It speaks to that part of our Soul which transcends our narrow rationality, our logic, our “analytic” Mind.  True to its name, our analytic Mind thinks in terms of analogies.  In other words, it compares one thing with another, treating them as fundamentally distinct entities without any internal commonality.  The word analogy itself comes from the Greek root ratio, which means the process of reducing the relationships among things to a purely abstract mathematical proportion.

But it goes without saying that the Most High God admits of no analogies.  The very name of the Rebel Angel’s nemesis, Michael, asks — and answers — the question, “Who is like unto the Lord?”  Nonetheless, Lucifer’s prideful response to this question is “I am!”.  According to the prophet Isaiah, it is this response, this ego-centered “State of Mind”, which precipitates the Fall of the Angels.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! ...

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exult my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.[1]


Before we can get very far in understanding the Fall of the Angels, we obviously need to know something about the nature of Angels.  We need to understand “what they are”, so to speak.  Notably, when Isaiah identifies them with the stars, he is following a well-established Scriptural pattern.  In the Psalmist’s rendering of Creation, God forms His Angelic Host and the starry firmament out of one and the same “stuff”.  As we learned in the previous chapter, this “stuff” is the ethereal Light, or Quintessence.  Before God would go on to create the Earth, however, She/He would withdrew this sublime “fifth element” and shape our World out of the four remaining “elements”: Fire, Water, Air and Earth.  Although modern Science no longer refers to these four as chemical elements, we continue to recognize them in the physical States of Matter and Energy.

Early in the 20th Century, Albert Einstein shook the foundations of classical physics by demonstrating that Matter and Energy are actually different forms of the same thing.  In other words, what we call Matter can exist in one of four physical States: energized, gaseous, liquid, or solid.  As we move into the 21st Century, however, mankind is approaching an even more radical paradigm shift.  We are approaching a metaphysical revelation that goes Einstein one better: The recognition of  a fifth State of Being which unifies not just Matter and Energy, but Spirit as well!  This fifth State, or Quintessence, is what bridges the boundary between the most exalted plane of the physical Universe, for which the starry firmament is a fitting symbol, and the lowest level of spiritual Reality, which is the abode of the Angels.

When Einstein gave us a continuum of Space and Time, he pointed us in the direction of the next step up the great Ladder of Consciousness.  He pointed us in the direction of a continuum of Space/Time and Eternity.  It was this continuum which, according to Scripture, Jacob witnessed in his dream at Bethel. In his vision, the rungs of this awesome Ladder consisted of Angels, some of them ascending and some descending.[2]  Therefore, it would seem that Angels are States of Being which connect Space/Time and Eternity.  It would also appear that each of these angelic States is accessible in only one direction — either “ascending” upward toward Eternity or “descending” downward into Space/Time.

At first blush, it strikes us as odd that Angels should be so limited and circumscribed as to function in only “one direction”.  After all, even we mortals have greater versatility and a broader range of action than that.  And aren’t we supposed to be inferior to the Angels?  If proximity to the Godhead is the criteria, then we certainly stand below the Angels in the spiritual hierarchy.  That much is certain.  But men and Angels are not readily comparable because Man is a conscious Being and the Angel is a State of Consciousness.  This distinction will become more meaningful as we delve deeper into our theme.

Thomas Aquinas teaches us that Angels are “incorporeal substances”,[3] which means that they don’t have a “body”.  In the most narrow sense, we may understand a “body” to be no more than flesh, blood and bone.  Given its full significance, however, the Body is a combination of many different faculties, each of which is associated with its own particular bodily member.  These faculties range from the simple mechanical motions of the limbs to the soaring flights of the Imagination and visionary raptures of the Soul.  Thanks to the multiple faculties that comprise a Body, corporeal creatures, such as Man, are capable of performing many distinct functions.  On the other hand, an incorporeal creature — an Angel, that is — is limited to one nature and one function only.

Aquinas goes on to say that the highest echelon of Angels — in terms of proximity to God — consists of two orders.  These are the Seraphim and the Cherubim, who are distinguished according to their functions.  Exalted above all other Angels are the Seraphim, whose name means “those who are on fire”.  As their name implies, the Seraphim are supremely ardent in their love of God and burn with desire to be united with Him/Her.  They represent a State of Being which is the highest State of Grace, the State of the Lover that suffers not the slightest separation from its Beloved, its God.  Since separation from God is Sin, it follows that the Seraphim are totally immune from Sin.  In other words, they are of one pure nature which is irreconcilable with Sin.[4]

As for the Cherubim, who stand just below the Seraphim in the angelic hierarchy, their name signifies “fullness of knowledge”.  While God can be loved intimately, in Her/His ultimate Essence, She/He cannot be known with the same immediacy of direct contact.  As we have learned, this is why God created the divine Light before anything else, because it is only through this Light that She/He is made known to conscious Beings.  We have also discussed how God shaped perfectly symmetrical Vessels to contain this Light and pour out a portion of it into the material Universe.  Now we find that these Vessels are in fact Angels of the Cherubic order.

Again we have it on the authority of Aquinas that, unlike their cousins the Seraphim, the Cherubim are not proof against Sin.  Presently we’ll discuss exactly why that should be so.  But before we do, there are a couple of important inferences we can draw from the concepts we’ve assembled thus far.  First off, it’s fairly obvious that, if there were Angels who fell from Grace, they must have been Cherubs, not Seraphs.  This conclusion comes as somewhat of a surprise to us in light of the popular notion that Lucifer was, before his rebellion, the highest of all the Angels.  This sort of misconception was bound to arise because there are so few passages of Scripture that actually speak about the Fallen Angels.  One of richest sources of enlightenment on this subject, however, is to be found in the prophecy of Ezekiel concerning the “Covering Cherub”.  Let’s go there now and see what we find.


The Covering Cherub

For reasons that will become apparent as we progress in our discussion, Ezekiel uses the Prince of Tyre as a symbol for the leader of the Fallen Angels:

Son of man, say unto the Prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit upon the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not a God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God.[5]


Despite its lyrical elegance, the King James version of the Bible is often confusingly vague in its translations of the various Hebrew names of God.  Unfortunately, this ambiguity lends itself to misinterpretation, of which the foregoing passage presents a prime example.  Superficially, this particular verse appears to be saying that the Prince of Tyre (aka Lucifer) has sought to overthrow  God and usurp His Throne.  This is a popular misconception that has its roots in the myths of paganism, where the supreme gods were periodically toppled by rival gods.  It’s also an inherently dualistic idea, since it implies that the Rebel Angel can exist independently of the Most High.

But, if we refer back to the original Hebrew, we find that the “Lord GOD” who speaks through Ezekiel is actually named YHVH, while the God who Lucifer aspires to replace is called Elohim.  As has been explained earlier, YHVH is the Tetragrammaton, the ineffable Name — enunciated as Adonai — that expresses the overall transcendent unity of the Divine Essence.  On the other hand, the Elohim represent the collective Female aspect of the Godhead, associated with the Supernal Mother, Binah or Understanding.  It is through the sexual Union of the Mother and Father on High that living Souls are conceived.  And it is through this stream of living Souls that the divine Light is incrementally infused into the World so that it may be lifted up to the level of the World to Come.

What the Prince of Tyre seeks, therefore, is not the place of Adonai, because that place is unapproachable.[6]  Rather, he strives to insert himself into the role of the Elohim as the source of Souls.  This proves to be his downfall, as Ezekiel tells us in no uncertain terms:

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD [YHVH]; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God [Elohim];

Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations:  and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness.

They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas.[7]


When Ezekiel speaks of the “heart” of Elohim, he refers to the core of mankind’s collective Soul.  This Heart is the window through which the sublime Light shines into the great Womb of incarnation, known to the Kabbalists as Malkut.  Like a window, however, the Heart cannot function by simply remaining open continuously, but must alternately open and close.  When the anatomical heart contracts, it pumps out life-giving fluid through the body’s branching network of  blood vessels.  Similarly, the spiritual Heart is like a fountain which overflows with the ethereal Light and suffuses the divine Body of Man with its aura.  It was this aura which was seen to surround Jesus, Elijah and Moses as they stood transfigured on Mount Tabor.[8]

Before the Heart can overflow, however, it must first be filled.  Like its anatomical counterpart, it must have a receptive, expansive mode to alternate with its active, contracting mode.  In its receptive mode, the Soul uses the medium of ideas to obtain knowledge of things that are extrinsic to Itself.  Thoughts, therefore, may be looked upon as the Soul’s “couriers”, dispatched to find out about external things and bring back conceptual images of them.  Not coincidentally, the Hebrew word for Angel signifies one who is dispatched as a deputy, such as a messenger or ambassador.  This tends to confirm our notion that Angels are actually States of Mind — a category which encompasses the “messenger” thoughts and ideas we’re discussing here.

More specifically, this “messenger” genre of Angel strikes us as bearing a strong resemblance to the order of Angels known for their “fullness of knowledge” — the Cherubim.  All of this sets the stage nicely for Ezekiel’s revealing characterization of the Prince of Tyre:

Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God [Elohim]; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

Thou wast perfect in thy ways, from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.[9]


If Lucifer is the Covering Cherub, the question naturally arises: Who or what is he covering?  Based on these verses from Ezekiel, the answer seems to have something to do with the “Holy Mountain of Elohim”.  In Psalms, we read that the Holy Mountain of Elohim is the “location” (in the realm of Spirit) of the City of God.  In a manner of speaking, it is the Mount Zion of the New Jerusalem, where the full complement of Souls comprising the World Soul are eternally assembled.

Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.

God [Elohim] is known in her palaces for a refuge.[10]


We have already heard these lines echoed in Isaiah’s famous apostrophe to Lucifer, which we quoted earlier in this chapter:

For thou has said in thine heart, ... I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:[11]


Evidently, then, the Covering Cherub invades the Holy Mountain from its “north side”.  How might that be?  Drawing upon our everyday experience, we are accustomed to thinking of the north side of anything — be it a mountain or a tree or a house — as the “dark side”, the side shielded from the light of the Sun.  And, like most commonsense notions, this one is generally true — unless we’re talking about a translucent object, which has no “dark side”.  A wooden tree grows moss on its north side, but a glass tree would not.

By now I can hear my reader impatiently grumbling, “Fine ... and who has ever seen a glass tree?”  But to “see” on the spiritual level, we need to loosen up the vise-grip of our narrow rationality and give our Imagination some space for playfulness.  If we do that, we can apprehend that all of us have seen translucent “trees” in the form of the clear golden resin we call “amber”.  In the ancient world, amber was prized as a sacred stone having the power to ward off evil.  It’s known to have been used for religious purposes as far back as pre-dynastic Egypt and the most archaic rites at Stonehenge.   So great was the demand for it among the early civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea that intricate trade routes sprung up to import it all the way from the remote Baltic Sea, where it was most plentiful.  Consequently, in the culture of the ancient Middle East, the far-off land to the “North”, whence the sacred amber came, took on an aura of mystery and fantasy.  A vestige of this survives in the childhood fantasies of our own culture surrounding Santa Claus’ fabled abode at the North Pole.

We find ourselves talking now about amber, which seems as far removed from Ezekiel’s prophecy as Mount Zion is from the Baltic Sea.  Perhaps we’ve loosened the grip of rationality a bit too much?  Though the paths of the Imagination are full of twists and turns, there are no dead-ends, as there inevitably are for the strict straight paths of Reason.  The Imagination is loaded with “hyper-links” and never leaves us at a loss for meaningful — and marvelously serendipitous — connections.  And here is a case in point:   If we go back to where we left off with Ezekiel’s Covering Cherub, we notice this line:

... thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.


These “stones of fire” are the same stones that Ezekiel had seen glowing in the center of the fire during his vision of the four “living creatures”.  They were known as the Chashmal, which means “amber”!    In Jewish mysticism, the Chashmal took on the metaphysical connotation of the “threshold” of visionary experience.  The mystical significance of the Chashmal is expressed in the first chapter of Ezekiel, where he describes his vision of the four “living creatures” or Cherubs:

And I looked, and behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.[12]


As we explained in the Introduction, the Cherubic creatures of Ezekiel’s vision represent the six-dimensional “blueprint” which defines the Symmetry of the divine Body.  This is the Body of the Supernal Man, the Son of Man who is Messiah to the Jews and Christ to the Christians.  It is the completeness of mankind’s collective Selfhood, the wholeness of our collective Soul, without which we cannot enter into the Presence of God-Elohim.  Her Presence is the Light from Within, the pure golden glow that mysteriously emanates from somewhere infinitely deep inside the amber Chashmal.  This palpable Presence of the feminine Divine is what the Hebrew mystics called Shechinah.  She is invoked by the poets as their Muse and by the pious as their Lady.  Her Tabernacle is the human Imagination.

But something stands at the doorway of that Tabernacle, something that would drive us away in fear, in doubt, and in shame.  That “something” manifests itself as the terrifying whirlwind, the obscuring cloud, and the punishing fire, which Ezekiel had to face before he could attain his vision of the four Cherubs.  The Jewish mystics call these phenomena the Qlippot, which means the “empty shells” or “husks”.  We may think of the Qlippot as the debris from the wreckage of a Reality that preceded the Creation of our World.  It is, in fact, the desolate, chaotic wreckage left by the Fall of the Angels.  This explains why Ezekiel selected Tyre, the premier mercantile city of the ancient Mediterranean, as his symbol for the Covering Cherub.  The fall of the great port of Tyre to the Babylonians was the prophet’s metaphor for the destruction of a spiritual Universe which existed before Space and Time.

For thus saith the Lord GOD [YHVH]; When I shall make of thee [Tyre] a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited; when I shall bring the deep upon thee, and great waters shall cover thee;

When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit, with the people of old time ... in the places desolate of old ...[13]


Out of the debris from the “shipwreck” of that lost spiritual Universe, the Elohim created the material Universe, as described in the Book of Genesis. 

But let’s slow down a bit here, because we’re getting a little ahead of our story.  The Imagination has a habit of racing ahead while slow-poke Reason lags behind, huffing and puffing.  Now is a good time to indulge our rational compulsion to sort through the leads which our fancy has turned up and tie up any loose ends we might find.  Let’s start with Ezekiel’s observation that the Covering Cherub has “walked up and down” amidst the Chashmal.  If the Chashmal represents the threshold of our visionary experience — the veritable anteroom of our audience with Shechinah — then the Covering Cherub is barring our way.  In a sense, therefore, the Rebel Cherub is “covering” the amber-like translucence through which the sublime Light of Shechinah emanates.  Thus, he is the conscious aspect of the Qlippot: He is the State of Mind which interposes itself between the profoundest center of the Soul — its mystical Heart — and the living Presence of God.

We’ve said that the Cherubic State of Mind has a “messenger” role.  That’s why, for example, Ezekiel envisions the six-fold Symmetry of the divine Body enacted by Cherubs.  Since these Angels exist only to convey thought images to and from the Soul, they would be nothing more than empty vessels without their conceptual contents.  Their nature is depicted in the image of the constellation Aquarius, the Cherub who pours water from one urn into another.  The water of Aquarius represents the flow of thoughts carried from the font of Wisdom on High down to the Soul through the agency of the Cherubic States of Mind.

But there is a part of the Soul which thoughts cannot enter.  In our religious imagery, we picture it as a Virgin, because it is “chaste” of any commerce with Angels and the watery thoughts they convey.  She is the Immaculate Heart reserved solely for the embrace of the Holy Spirit — the fiery embrace of ecstatic Desire.  It is as if the core of the Soul were encased in an amber-like substance translucent to the Light but impenetrable to the “water” of conceptual images.  Indeed, the Soul’s inner being may be likened to the delicate-winged creatures often found embalmed in natural amber.  Perhaps this simile helps explain the strange religious awe that this resinous substance has inspired through the ages.  The sensible Soul is enchanted by the mystery of its own inmost recesses, to which it is drawn by a rapturous attraction — just as bits of paper are drawn by the static charge of a rubbed piece of amber.  In his Confessions, St. Augustine observed this fascination at work within his own soul:

I am aware of something in myself, like a light dancing before my soul, and if it could be brought out with perfect steadiness, it would surely be life eternal.  It hides, and then again, it shows.  It comes like a thief, as if it would steal everything from the soul.  But since it shows itself and draws attention, it must want to allure the soul and make the soul follow it, to rob the soul of self.[14]


In Talmudic commentaries on Ezekiel’s visions, the mystical amber quality of the Chashmal is often referred to as the “speaking silence”.  It is the Word that expresses no idea, represents no concept, conveys no image.  This silent Word simply is the Essence of God.   When the Word enters the Soul’s spotless Heart, it conceives there the Son of Man, the sublime Body wherein dwells the universal Soul.  Since God’s Essence transcends all categories of thought, it can only act upon that part of the Soul which is entirely free of ideas.  This is as Meister Eckhart, that most inspired of all Christian mystics, teaches us:

... God begets his Son through the true unity of the divine nature...  he begets his Son in the core of the soul and is made One with it.  There is no other way.  If an idea were interposed, there could be no true unity.  Man’s whole blessedness lies in that unity.[15]


Blessedness, therefore, is the Soul’s complete intimate Union with God’s Essence.  If an idea or image of God interposes itself, the sacred coition is interrupted and beatitude is lost.  Herein lies the root cause of the Fall of the Angels and the birth of Sin: the substitution of a concept of perfection for its living embodiment.  It’s again as Meister Eckhart explains:

... A blessing is not a creature, nor is it perfection, for perfection [that is, of all virtues] is the consequence of the perfecting of life, and for that you must get into the essence, the core of the soul, so that God’s undifferentiated essence may reach you there, without the interposition of any idea.[16]


As we’ve said before, the Divine Essence is like a great magnet which attracts the Soul.  If the human Soul is to become “magnetized” with God’s Divinity, it must be in direct contact with the “magnet”.  In other words, no idea must interpose itself between the Soul’s core and God.  We know that any magnet must have two poles: a North pole and a South pole.  Similarly, the “magnet” of God’s Essence has a sexual polarity consisting of a motherly Female principle and a fatherly Male principle.  According to mystical tradition, God’s Female principle corresponds to the North pole, while the Male principle occupies the South pole.   On High, the Female principle is Binah, the Supernal Mother.  To the World below, She manifests Herself as a composite emanation called the Elohim.

When an iron rod makes contact with a magnet, the iron itself becomes polarized.  The induced magnetic polarity of the rod is aligned opposite to that of the magnet.  Hence the end of the rod in contact with the magnet’s North pole becomes a South pole and vice-versa.  In the same way, when the human Soul makes contact with the great magnet of Divinity, it develops its own polarity, which is the mirror-image of God’s.  The visionary poet William Blake calls this process “Divine Similitude”.   It is the process by which the Body of Man is conformed to the Divine Image  ... and it is the process which the Covering Cherub Satan seeks to disrupt.


The Likeness of God

Ezekiel teaches us that the Covering Cherub seeks to occupy the North side of the Holy Mountain.  In other words, he strives to usurp Divinity’s “North” pole — the pole of the Elohim.  But we should remember that the Cherub is an agent of the Soul, which is why Ezekiel says he is not a god but a “man”.  In order that the universal Soul may align itself with God’s Essence, the Soul must mirror the polarity of the divine “magnet”.  This means that the Soul must split into “North” and “South” poles to remain in contact with God.  Although these two poles of the Soul are opposed to one another, they are mutually interdependent.  They can no more be separated from each other than can the poles of an actual magnet.

The two poles of the Soul are the two poles of Consciousness, which we commonly call “Subjective” and “Objective”.  We are accustomed to classifying all of our inward experience as Subjective, placing in this category such things as emotion, imagination, spiritual vision and faith.  In the course of being “socialized” as infants, we are conditioned to distinguish Subjective phenomena, which are supposedly not “real”, from so-called Objective “reality”.  But Science has long understood that the newborn psyche recognizes no such distinction.  The infant psyche draws no boundary between itself and the “outside world”, but rather sees everything within its experience as an extension of itself.  This State of Mind is narcissism in its purest form.  Ironically, although it is the State of Innocence, it is also the State of Original Sin and the State of the Fallen Angels.  Let’s see if we can shed some light on this paradox.

As we’ve been saying, the part of the Soul which must have direct contact with God is its “Heart”, its virginal core where no thoughts can intrude.  Since this Heart must be absolutely free of ideas, She can have can have no concept of Herself.  In other words, She can have no Subjective Consciousness.  Therefore, She epitomizes the Soul’s Objective pole.  Opposite to Her, there must be a pole of Consciousness which is purely Subjective, a State of Mind which is turned completely inward upon itself.

On first impression, it may seem as if the Soul’s Subjective pole must inevitably be narcissistic, but this is so only if we view it in isolation from its complementary Objective pole.  Because both poles define one another, they must always function together.  Hence, the Heart’s ecstatic Union with the Divine Essence cannot happen without the “counterweight”, so to speak, of the Soul’s Subjective side.  In short, without Self-Consciousness there can be no God-Consciousness.  Before we can find God, we must first find ourselves.

At this point, let me assure my reader that I am not preparing to lead her/him into a litany of New Age blather extolling “self-awareness”.   Self-Consciousness is not the end of our spiritual pilgrimage; it’s only the beginning.  But it’s a necessary beginning.

In our last chapter, we spoke about the theology of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.  His most provocative work, The Phenomenon of Man, describes the evolution of human Consciousness.  Many people of faith are ill at ease with the concept of evolution, because it is popularly associated with Darwinian theories that ascribe the genesis of Man to mere chance.  But Fr. Teilhard propounds a view of evolution as a process inexorably building up toward a divine culmination, which he calls the “Omega Point”.  The Omega Point is the “end of Time”, the point at which humanity achieves the transcendent unity of one Body informed by the sublime Consciousness of the Son of Man.  As portrayed by Teilhard, the most dramatic watershed in this long evolutionary ascent of Creation toward the Eternal loving embrace of its Creator is the point at which Consciousness first becomes aware of itself.  Animals can think, and so can machines, but both are totally oblivious to themselves, to the entity that is doing the thinking.  Only Man has attained access to that State of Mind which beholds its own Self-image.  Once this turning point is reached, purely biological evolution is eclipsed by the evolution of human Consciousness.  The latter is a process in which more and more of the Self comes into view, progressively revealing the divine Source of all Consciousness.

Like its biological counterpart, Conscious evolution is not a linear process.  In other words, it doesn’t ascend without interruptions and reversals.  In climbing the Holy Mountain, Consciousness sometimes must stumble and fall back before it can continue upward.  Unlike biological evolution, however, the genesis of Consciousness is not confined to the Universe of Space and Time.  In fact, its process unfolds on the Eternal plane and manifests itself in the material World.  The Fall of the Angels, for example, is an event in Conscious evolution which takes place outside of Space/Time, but is reflected within Space/Time by the Fall of Man.

While God establishes the ultimate goal of evolution — which is the World to Come — He/She doesn’t pre-determine the path to get there.  To do that would negate the autonomy of God’s creatures and would make the whole exercise of Creation pointless.  As we noted in the preceding chapter, God introduces a portion of Her/His sublime Light into the depths of the material World and lets that Light find its way back to the Source, drawing all of Creation with it in the process.  So the evolutionary process is one of “probing” to find a path — or, better said, a network of paths — back to the Godhead.  That’s why, when we look at the development of biological organisms, we observe a pattern of almost endless branching, with a myriad of species diversifying from a single ancestral stem.  It’s as if Life were sending out feelers in every direction looking for an opening, a “door” upward to the next level of complexity.  And there is one really intriguing feature of this evolutionary pattern which crude Darwinism utterly fails to explain.  Once the upward “door” is found, the diversification on the level below ceases.  Thereafter, all the energy of evolutionary “probing” is transferred to the higher level.  Before the first fully human Man appeared, there were many different hominid species.  Now there is only one, and the process of primate development toward the hominid level has ceased.  Yet evolutionary change itself has not ceased, it has merely shifted from the diversification of biological organisms to the proliferation of human culture. 

Though this foray into the “probing” pattern of biological evolution may seem a bit tangential to our main theme, it’s actually quite relevant.  That’s because the evolution of Consciousness follows precisely the same pattern.  Indeed, it has to, since Mind and Matter are viscerally interconnected.  Just as there were early “prototypes” of Man that ultimately fell by the wayside of biological evolution, so we must expect that States of Mind do not simply emerge full-blown out of nothingness.  Consequently, for every fully-refined and articulated State of Mind, there are a number of more-or-less indefinite and obscure States of Mind which precede it.

What becomes of these discarded States of Mind?  They descend into a sub-reality populated by the “husks” of things that never truly existed, never truly achieved a definitive form.  This is the twilight realm inhabited by the Qlippot.  It’s the source of the mental “static” that obscures our view of higher levels of Reality.

Since Angels personify the States of Mind connecting Eternity with Space/Time, they too must have evolved.  Although this concept of Angelic evolution is contrary to the orthodox notion that the Angels were perfect from their inception, it is firmly rooted in the Book of Job:

Behold, he [God] put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly.[17]


Since the Angels are subject to the vicissitudes of evolutionary probing, they too must have left behind (or beneath) them the empty shells of their antecedents — the same way that a molting reptile casts off its old skin as it grows.  Perhaps that’s why we instinctively envision the leader of the Fallen Angels as a Serpent.  In a manner of speaking, Satan and his infernal horde are nothing more than the “molt” of the Heavenly Host.

We’ve determined that the Fallen Angels are Cherubim, the order of “messengers” whose function is to know.  Above the Cherubs in the angelic hierarchy are the Seraphs, whose perfect Love puts them in the immediate Presence of the Most High.  Interestingly, the word saraph in Hebrew signifies a winged fiery serpent, a dragon of sorts.  Admittedly, the image of Seraphs as flying serpents clashes with many popular preconceptions about the battle between the “good” and “bad” Angels.  We’re accustomed to picturing the followers of Lucifer as vile serpents, while we imagine their Seraphic adversaries — the Archangels Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and Uriel — as handsome warriors.

From the standpoint of our theory of angelic “evolution”, however, the “reptilian” nature of the Seraphs fits nicely.  If the Seraphs stand above the Cherubs on the Ladder of Consciousness, then it must have been some genus of Cherubim which evolved into the Seraphim.  Accordingly, that genus of Cherubs would have developed many of the characteristic traits of Seraphs, including their serpentine qualities.  And once the form of the Seraphim had been perfected, their Cherubic ancestors would have passed into oblivion, just as Man’s primate progenitors have disappeared.  But we must also bear in mind that nothing ever “disappears” without a trace, no matter whether we’re talking about temporal things or Eternal things.  The dinosaur has left its footprints and so have the Fallen Cherubs.  For reasons that we scarce comprehend, we humans are drawn to follow these “footprints” — of the dinosaur toward biological extinction, and of the Cherub toward spiritual annihilation.  In the case of the Cherub, as we shall soon see, some of the “footprints” have found their way into the human Soul.

How does a Cherub “evolve” in the direction of a Seraph?  This question really amounts to asking: How does Knowledge develop into Love?  According to Aquinas, true Knowledge makes the thing that is known part of the one who knows.[18]  In other words, Knowledge is the process by which the Subject — the Knower — assimilates the Object.  In this process, the Subject does not become like the Object, but rather the Object becomes part of the interior Consciousness of the Subject.  In terms of the two “poles” of Consciousness about which we have spoken, we may define Knowledge as the encompassing of the Objective pole by the Subjective pole.  And, since the Subjective and Objective poles of Consciousness correspond to the Male and Female poles of the Godhead, we can also describe Knowledge as the Male encompassing the Female.

Love, on the other hand, is the process by which the Lover becomes one with the thing loved.  It’s really the converse of Knowledge, because the beloved Object absorbs the loving Subject.  Love is the objectification of the Subject, while Knowledge is the subjectification of the Object.  Conversely to what we've said about Knowledge, Love is the Objective pole of Consciousness encompassing the Subjective pole, or the Female encompassing the Male.

Thomas Aquinas says that things may progress upward on the great Ladder of Consciousness in either of two of two modes — one Objective and one Subjective.  As an Object, a lower thing can be elevated to the extent it is known by a higher Subject.  Thus, mankind’s study of Nature ennobles it, lifting it up to the level of human Consciousness.  As a Subject, a lesser thing may become exalted through its love of a sublime Object.  The Soul’s passion for Beauty, for instance, buoys it up toward the heavenly sphere.  Aquinas sums it up this way:

... Therefore to know lower things is better than to love them; and to love the higher things, God above all, is better than to know them.[19]


All this being said, let’s go back to our original question: How does Knowledge evolve into Love?  The natural progress of Knowledge is “from the bottom up”, the same route traversed by the quintessential Light which reveals the lineaments of God.  But, sooner or later, the knowing Subject  will encompass all Objects that are on a lower level of Consciousness than himself.  When that happens, the evolution of Consciousness arrives at the turning point identified by Teilhard de Chardin.  As is true of any such critical point, this is where the evolutionary “tree” branches out, offering multiple potential scenarios.  At this singular juncture, the Knower has consumed all of the Objects beneath him and now arrives at the level of his own Selfhood.  This, then, is the Eternal instant in which Self-Consciousness is born.  It now becomes possible to speak of a “sentient Being”, even if such a Being has not yet been created.



The Shattering of Vessels

With true sentience comes, for the first time, real choice.  An animal does not choose; its circumstances and its instincts make all the choices for it.  But choice is an inherent feature — indeed, the distinguishing feature — of human Consciousness.  And this unique species of Consciousness has evolved in Eternity, just as humans have evolved in Space/Time.  Once the phenomenon of Self-Consciousness appears, the whole evolutionary process accelerates to “warp speed”.  The painfully slow hit-or-miss upward probing of spiritually-blind organisms suddenly gives way to a fully deliberate search for God.  The ship of Creation suddenly has a navigator, who might turn out to be St. Peter ... or Captain Ahab!

Immediately, as soon as choice becomes possible for the knowing Subject, he is faced with the most consequential and irrevocable decision of any that will follow thereafter.  For the very first time, the “upwardly mobile” Cherub has come face-to-face with himself.  As he faces his own reflection, he must decide whether it is be treated as something higher or lower than he on the Ladder of Consciousness.  Let’s consider the consequences of the first option before moving on to explore the second later in this chapter.

If he chooses to regard his own image as something above him, the Cherub will “love” his Selfhood.  I have bracketed the word love in quotations here because this is a new type of love that now comes into being.  It is “self-love”, perhaps more aptly styled “self-Pity”.  This Pity is such an unnatural and abominable perversion of true Love that it causes a calamitous reversal in the polarity of Consciousness.  The knowing Subject has now become the idol of his own “love”, the contemptible Object of his own self-Pity.  In effect, this objectification of Selfhood constitutes its abdication.  Having forfeited the dignity proper to its station, it plummets to the abject status we know as the “ego”.  Since the ego is an Object totally consumed by the “love” of its own diminished selfhood, its capacity to love God is forever lost.  This is the State of Eternal Death which is Satan, the Fallen Cherub.

The hallmark of this narcissistic State of Mind is its perpetual endeavor to be justified “in its own right”.  As Aquinas explains, its failure lies not simply in its striving to be “like God”.  Quite the contrary, this is the ultimate goal toward which all Self-Consciousness must strive.  But where the Cherub Lucifer truly falls short of the path toward Divine Similitude is in his desire to attain godliness by the power of his own nature instead of by God’s Grace.[20]   This is what Ezekiel meant when he said that the Covering Cherub had sought to usurp the place of the Elohim, because the Elohim are the source of all Grace.  The great error of the Fallen Cherub is to substitute an idolatrous adoration of his own self-image for ecstatic intimacy with Shechinah, who is God’s living Presence within the Heart.  It is through such intimacy alone that Self-Consciousness may cast off the intolerable burden of Sin “in its own right” and clothe itself in the perfect Righteousness of the Son of Man.  Addressing the Son in the dramatic format of his Paradise Lost, John Milton lyrically expresses this very idea:

His [Lucifer’s] crime makes guilty all his sons, thy merit

Imputed shall absolve them who renounce

Their own righteous and unrighteous deeds,

And live in thee transplanted ...[21]


As the heir to Milton’s visionary legacy, William Blake correctly perceives that the so-called “heaven” of conventional Religion is, in fact, the Hell of Satan’s self-justifying State of Mind.  This false “heaven” represents the apotheosis of the individual selfhood; it is the deification of the ego’s narcissistic self-image:

Striving to create a Heaven in which all shall be pure & holy

In their own selfhoods, in natural selfish Chastity to banish Pity

And dear Mutual Forgiveness; & to become One Great Satan

Inslaved to the most powerful Selfhood: to murder the Divine Humanity

In whose sight all are as dust & who chargeth his Angels with folly![22]


In the last line of this passage, Blake echoes the words of Job attesting to the inherent fallibility of the Angels in and of themselves.  Only when the States of Mind that they represent function as members of the unified Body of the Son and faithfully transmit His divine Symmetry, do they rise above their individual folly and partake of His perfection.

There is a point that must not be missed here.  Moral individuality is not merely a futile oxymoron — it’s actually the cause of all Sin.  Individual self-justification is opacity to the supernal Light of Shechinah that shines from within the Center of our Soul, our Heart of Hearts.  To strive for righteousness that is our own, rather than Christ’s, is to “cover” and obscure the divine Vision.  The effect of such spiritual opacity is to shut that translucent amber portal through which our Consciousness can pass into the Presence of God.  In his public ministry, Jesus tirelessly preached unconditional mutual forgiveness — not as some far-off, unattainable ideal, but as the immediate prerequisite of the coming of his Father’s Kingdom.  Such unconditional forgiveness is the lynch-pin of his Covenant — the Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah — which sublimely fulfills the Law of Moses by writing it uniquely in the Heart of each individual human Soul.[23]

Christ was not preaching a chimerical goal, not espousing a beautiful but elusive aspiration.  He was preaching the absolute Reality next to which the modalities of this World are but illusions.  The only Reality which will remain after this World is gone is the great Treasury of Souls which constitute God’s eternal Kingdom.  The Kabbalists call the realm of this World Soul by the name Malkut, which means “the Kingdom” in Hebrew.  The Reality of the Kingdom is this:  Each individual Soul is one word of the Law, and each is utterly indispensable in every minute particular to the total fulfillment of the Law in the Coming of the Kingdom.  This is what Jesus meant when he said that not one iota of the Law would pass away until all had been fulfilled.[24]  It follows that there can be no one code of conduct which expresses the Law for all individuals.  Blake put it this way:

One Law for the Lion & Ox is Oppression.[25]

Therefore, it’s not that the human Soul is a weak and degraded thing incapable of rising to the challenge of the Law.  (St. Paul was mistaken in this belief, although his error did not undermine the correctness of his ultimate conclusion regarding justification through Faith.)  The truth is that the Law has no meaning except that expressed in the entire Treasury of Souls on which it is written.  To interpret the Law as a code of moral conduct which justifies some Souls and condemns others is like formulating rules of spelling that apply to all the words in every human language.  The inevitable result of such generalized rules is to obliterate the fine details of Creation.  The popular adage notwithstanding, the Devil is not in the details ...  but God’s Presence is.  To subject the human Spirit to the tyranny of “Thou shalt not ... ” is to hack off the fingers and toes of Man’s divine Body and ruin the Symmetry which is God’s likeness.

Thus, the immediate result of Lucifer’s self-justifying moral Virtue is to cut the State of Mind he represents loose from the supernal Symmetry of the Son of Man.  At the end of the previous chapter, we discussed how this six-fold Symmetry — symbolized by the Hebrew letter Vau ו — is rendered self-sustaining by its sexual Union with the Female principle of Equilibrium, designated by letter Heh ה.  This explains the significance of the addition of the letter Heh to Abraham’s name when he was circumcised.  The symbolic purpose of the Covenant of Circumcision is to restore to Man the one component of his eternal Symmetry that was lost when Satan fell.  That component was Equilibrium, represented by the Heh in Abraham’s rectified name.  Now it even becomes evident why we call this cosmic event a “Fall”: because a fall is the inevitable result of any loss of Equilibrium, whether physical or spiritual.

We know that an Angel functions as a Vessel of the ethereal Light or Quintessence, and that absolute Symmetry is essential if such a Vessel is not to shatter.  The Cherub Lucifer, however, forfeits the Equilibrium which sustains that Symmetry.  Such Equilbrium is bestowed by the Female principle of the Elohim.  The Elohim are in fact the Eternal Forms which continuously generate the Symmetry of the Divine Image. By usurping their role, Lucifer is compelled to maintain his Symmetry by the sheer force of his own individual Consciousness.  Since that Consciousness is of the Cherubic variety, it must deal in ideas and concepts.  The Cherub cannot replicate supernal Symmetry by direct contact with it.  Instead he must formulate an abstract “model” of Symmetry — what Blake calls the “Divine Analogy” — and attempt to sustain that Analogy.

The reasoning approach to Symmetry is very different from the intuitive, visionary approach.  The latter is reflected in our concept of Wisdom or Chochmah — the concept, that is, of an absolutely undifferentiated unity.  Through Understanding (Binah), the Oneness of Wisdom is expressed and made manifest in the multiple Forms of the Elohim. Aquinas refers to the latter as “exemplar Forms existing in the Divine Mind”.[26]  From a psychic perspective, Carl Jung described these Eternal Forms as “archetypes”.  Jung conceived the archetypes as structural members of a unified edifice of sentience that transcends the individual psyche.  He called this archetypal edifice the Collective Unconscious.  Hence, Jung’s Collective Unconscious and the Elohim are actually one and the same thing.  The key feature we need to recognize about the Elohim is this:  The multiplicity of their Forms is inseparable from their unity.  In our modern techno-jargon, we might say that the Elohim are holographic, with the parts and the whole inextricably tangled up together.  It follows that if we attempt to isolate these Eternal Forms and deal with them as separate and distinct entities, we must in fact “break” them and drain them of their content and their Life.

But Reason has no other means at its disposal for dealing with the Oneness of Symmetry than to “analyze” it, that is, to try and break it down into distinguishable components.  Through the eye of Reason, the manifold Elohim are transformed into the monad El.  Therefore, the name “El”, which occurs a number of times in Scripture, does not truly correspond to God, but rather to an infernal parody of God.  It’s no coincidence that Scripture often invokes the name of El in connection with the raising of monoliths which would later becomes objects of idolatrous worship.[27]  What El really connotes is a perversion of monotheism.  It represents monotheism carried to the extreme of denying the multiplicity of God’s immanence in the name of upholding the unity of God’s transcendence.  The worship of the monad El amounts to the denial of God’s feminine aspect, the negation of the divine Female principle embodied in the Elohim.  Indeed, El is nothing more than the name that Lucifer assumes when he endeavors to usurp the role of Elohim.

By reducing the multifarious Elohim to the monad El, Reason literally dissects the divine Body,[28]  rendering it lifeness and inert.  This inertness is symbolized by the Stone which Jacob erects in homage to the terrible monad at the place he renames “Beth-el”, the House of El.  The position in the Godhead that El seeks to assume is implicit in the name by which Bethel had hitherto been known.  It’s former name, Luz, refers to the almond tree, anciently revered as the “watching tree”, because its white blossoms were the first sign of the onset of spring in Palestine.[29]   Consequently, to the Semites the almond tree exemplified the prophetic Vision whose source is the Elohim.  This explains why the seven branches of the sacred Menorah are shaped like almond blossoms.  The Menorah’s seven almond blossoms represent the Equilibrium of the multiple centers of divine Consciousness — Zechariah’s “seven eyes of God”.[30]

When Reason displaces Vision, the result is the dissociation of supernal Consciousness.  In effect, the Vessels of Consciousness forfeit their Symmetry and shatter.  As they shatter, they become empty and devoid of content, descending into the sub-reality of the Qlippot “shells”.  They disintegrate into ever smaller shards, each isolated and unaware of how it “fits” with all the others.

The story of Jacob and Esau in the Book of Genesis is actually an allegorical rendering of this cataclysmic “division of the universal Soul”.  At the behest of El, Jacob returned to the country of Edom, the land of his twin brother Esau.  Upon his arrival in Edom, Jacob was compelled to divide his camp in fear of Esau.  Then he forded a stream called Jabbok, a name meaning “to empty out” or “to make void”.  Upon crossing the Jabbok into Edom, Jacob found himself utterly alone, and there he had his well-known “wrestling match” with the Angel.  The identity of this Angel was revealed in the new name which Jacob earned by his victory in this struggle: Yi-sara-el, or “he who contended against El”.[31]

 After defeating the Angel, Jacob called the place Peni-el, “the face of El”, because he had seen El “face-to-face” and had survived.  Hence, Jacob’s victory signifies the crucial turning point in the development of Self-Consciousness.  It represents the branching point of the evolutionary tree, the point at which one branch ascends toward the sublime Selfhood of the Messiah, while the other branch descends into the Abyss of the selfish ego.  In the Book of Genesis, the contrast between these two branches of Self-Consciousness is portrayed in the dichotomy of the twins Jacob and Esau.  Esau is the “first-born” of the two, because he represents the initial, flawed response of Consciousness when confronted with its own Self-image.  This is the response of Lucifer’s State of Mind, which lapsed into the narcissism of self-worship.  That fallen State of Mind became the seed of the idolatry of El into which the people of God would periodically lapse throughout history.

Esau is described as red and hairy — typical of the extinct pre-human branches of Man’s ancestral tree.  Accordingly, his Neanderthal traits identify him as an abortive prototype of Self-Consciousness cast aside in the process of evolutionary “probing”.  Jacob, on the other hand, is characterized as a “complete” or “perfect” man.[32]  In Jacob is realized the true “likeness of God”, the Divine Similitude which the Soul achieves in intimate Union with Shechinah.  Shechinah is the conduit of the Eternal Forms which comprise the Elohim.  Her Presence within the Heart imprints these Forms on the spiritual lineaments of the “complete” man.

It’s important to recognize that Shechinah doesn’t imprint the Divine Similitude on the Soul in “cookie-cutter” fashion.  On the contrary, the “rough-cut” bare outline of the Eternal Forms is what we get by applying the “analog” version of Symmetry conceived by Reason.  Instead, what Shechinah impresses on the Heart is the type of pattern which modern mathematics describes as a “fractal”.  In a fractal pattern, the form is infinitely articulated and infinitely “deep”.  No matter how many times we magnify the pattern, we keep uncovering finer and finer layers of detail, each replicating the forms we observed on the larger scale.  Thus, if the form is that of wheel on the grandest scale, it remains a wheel even on the minutest scale.  This is precisely the structure that Ezekiel described as “wheels within wheels” in his vision of the four-faced Cherubim.

We know that Ezekiel’s Cherubs are actually a four-dimensional “blueprint” of a transcendent Symmetry which encompasses six dimensions, and we’ve spoken of this as “six-fold” Symmetry.  Let’s take a few moments to discuss what this means.  Our physical body has one plane of Symmetry that divides it into two symmetrical forms — our right and left sides.  So one level of Symmetry yields two forms.  Similarly, two planes of Symmetry establish four symmetrical forms: right, left, front and back.  And three planes of Symmetry, such as we find in a cube, define eight symmetrical forms.  What we see unfolding here is a progression of powers of two:  2, 22, 23, 24 ... Which means that the six-fold Symmetry of the Divine Similitude must be generated by 26 or 64 Eternal Forms.  These are the Forms that comprise the Elohim, and they determine the Symmetry of the edifice or “dwelling” which Shechinah erects in the Heart of the “complete Man”.

Now we are in a position to revisit the mystical significance of the numerology associated with the Covenant of Circumcision.  That Covenant, we recall, is the means by which the Symmetry of the supernal Body is transmitted to the seed of Abraham.  By adding the letter Heh to Abram, the Lord creates a name whose numerical equivalent is 248.  The product of these three digits, 2x4x8, is 64, the number of Elohim’s Eternal Forms.  And each of these three digits individually is related  as a root of the number 64, as follows: 26 = 64, 43 = 64, and 82 = 64.  In the next chapter, we will find these numerical relationships helpful in navigating the 32 paths of the Tree of Life, which is the network of paths leading the Soul back to the Godhead.  For now, it suffices to note that, through Divine Similitude, the 32 paths “above” are paired with 32 paths “below”, in the Heart of Malkut, to actualize the full complement of Elohim’s 64 Forms.  This “above-and-below” correspondence is expressed in the Hebrew word for Heart Lev לב, whose numerical equivalent is 32.

But, once again, we’re getting ahead of our story.  Let’s go back and pick up where we left off with Jacob and his alter-ego Esau.  Scripture describes Esau as a hunter, a man who lives “out in the open”, while Jacob lives in a “dwelling place”.[33]  It’s no coincidence that the word Shechinah signifies “dwelling place” in Hebrew.  This suggests that the fundamental distinction between Jacob and Esau — between the transcendent Self-Consciousness which leads to Christ and the narcissism which leads to Satan — relates to Jacob’s abiding within the “dwelling” of Shechinah.   Within the matrix of this spiritual edifice, Jacob is formed as a “complete Man” in the likeness of the Son, the “Man encompassed about by Woman”.  Through the Eternal Forms embodied in this “dwelling”, the fractal pattern of divine Symmetry is replicated in Jacob — which is to say, in the Treasury of Souls issuing out of Israel.  Isaiah speaks to this very point when he proclaims these words of Elohim:

For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God [Elohim] himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain [Tohu], he formed it to be inhabited ...

I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain [Tohu] ...[34]


Apparently, the alternative to the formative dwelling place of Shechinah is the Chaos (Tohu) which Isaiah prophesied to be the fate of Edom.  We’ve already seen how the Bible/Torah uses Edom to illustrate the “wrong path” in the evolution of Self-Consciousness.  Now we’re going to descend along that wayward path into Chaos by  way of a scriptural allegory dealing with the “Kings of Edom”.


The Kings of Edom

We’ve already become somewhat familiar with the contrast between Chaos and Equilibrium, but it’s necessary to explore this terrain a bit further before getting into our allegory.  There’s a dramatic difference in the way deviations from supernal Symmetry play out under these two regimes.  A system in Equilibrium develops and grows by such “errors”.  As long as Consciousness remains informed by Shechinah, any departures from the divine likeness will be temporary, since Equilibrium will simply reestablish itself on a higher level of Similitude.  We can perhaps understand this better by considering how equilibrium operates in the physical world.  For example, under equilibrium conditions the temperature of an unheated pot of water on a stove is uniform throughout the fluid.  If we want to raise the temperature of the water, we must temporarily disrupt that uniformity by introducing heat through the bottom of the pot, which creates a temperature stratification in the fluid.  After we’re done heating the pot, however, the fluid eventually returns to an equilibrium state in which uniform temperature is restored at a higher energy level.

Once we cross the line into the regime of Chaos, however, the rules of the game get reversed.  Things don’t gravitate back to the norm after getting pushed out of kilter.  Instead the chaotic dynamic drives them ever further away from Equilibrium at an explosively quickening pace.  Even the most minute deviation can set a chaotic system careening off toward enormous dislocations.  Consequently, error ceases to be a feasible mode of development toward higher levels of Equilibrium.

When physical systems become chaotic, their behavior becomes inscrutable to Reason.  In other words, Reason can no longer predict in what direction their physical state will develop.  In the same manner, when Consciousness become chaotic, the Self loses cognizance of and control over the mental States it is occupying.  The diminished Self comes to view these mental States as part of an external World more “real” than itself.  Reduced to passivity, the Soul can no longer consciously steer its course in the direction of Godliness, but must suffer the buffets of chance and fortune.

But how does Self-Consciousness begin its descent into Chaos?  My reader may recall this passage from Isaiah quoted in the previous chapter:

 ... He shall stretch out upon it [Edom] the line of confusion [Tohu], and the stones of emptiness [Bohu].[35]


When the Eternal Forms of Elohim are subjected to the dissection of rational analysis, the sacred edifice of Shechinah is demolished.  We are left with the “stones of emptiness” — the State of the Soul which St. Paul described as a “ruined building”.  Instead of inhabiting a dwelling, the Soul is left in the open desolation of Edom amidst the solitary standing monoliths of El.  These are the unhewn Druid stones of shattered Symmetry, crying out for the blood of human sacrifice.  They are the stones of a monstrous idol called moral Virtue, whose cruel altar must be fed continuously with the flesh of victims.  The Church of Reason and Virtue is built upon the bones of the victims of an unrelenting War to crush the human Spirit.  The object of this War is to bind mankind’s collective Body in a straitjacket of commandments, strictures and prohibitions.  It is Satan’s War to sustain a homogenized version of the Eternal Forms, a version stripped of their infinite detail.

When all is said and done, however, the War is a futile one.  Once the fractal pattern of Elohim’s Forms are “stretched out”, as Isaiah describes it, their subtlety is lost.  But it is precisely in the subtlety of the Forms, in their most minute details, that the likeness of God is to be found.  Since the complexity of the Eternal Forms is infinite, the Mind’s capacity for rational analysis must ultimately be overwhelmed.  What ensues is the “confounded” State of Mind that corresponds to mental Chaos.

From the instant that confounded Reason is compelled to neglect the slightest nuance of the Eternal Forms, a fissure opens in its “analog” model of supernal Symmetry and it begins to break apart and divide.  Once absolute Symmetry begins to break down, however, the dynamic of division is unstoppable.  That’s because a perfectly symmetrical form has an infinite number of planes of Symmetry along which it can be divided. (For instance, there’s no limit to the number of sections into which one can slice a perfect sphere.)  Without a common axis to hold them together, the “wheels” of the Eternal Forms must fly apart.  Since they are no longer internally integrated, they must interact with each other in a strictly external mode.  The “wheels” become the gears of an enormously ponderous mental machine that must obey the iron law of “cause-and-effect”.  Blake calls this infernal machinery the Satanic Mill, because it inexorably grinds living experience down to the sterile dust of atoms spinning in a meaningless void.  What it produces is the ego’s perception of  a “clockwork universe”, in which “God” is nothing more than an arbitrarily conceived “main gear” turning all the lesser gears of Creation.

In actuality, however, the “main gear” of the conscious Universe is the Soul, because only the core of the Soul is touched by the quintessential Light.  Even in its most virginal Heart, however, the Soul does not “see” the face of the One “whom no man hath seen”.[36]   Rather, the center of the Soul is set in motion by the “speaking silence” of the Chashmal, and its movement bears witness to the glory of the Word — the glory which is Shechinah.[37]  The motion of the Soul is transmitted from its center to its circumference by its infrastructure of “wheels within wheels” patterned after Elohim’s fractal Forms.  But when the Soul’s loving embrace of Shechinah is broken, its movement ceases to proceed from the center to the circumference.  Instead, motion must be imposed on it from without, as gears are turned by the meshing of their exterior cogs.  Thus, the organic vitality of the Soul is reduced to a compulsive mechanical clockwork, as William Blake envisioned it:

... cruel Works

Of many Wheels I view, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannic

Moving by compulsion each other ...[38]


Just as a clock ticks off divisions of Time, the Satanic Mill divides the universal Soul.  What began as one World Soul before Lucifer fell into self-adoration must now begin to splinter.  And, once unleashed, the logic of fission knows no bounds.  Each fragment of the World Soul can and does divide again and again and again.  Potentially, this dividing could go on forever, in which case the World Soul would ultimately dissipate into nothingness.  But divine Mercy intervenes by setting limits to Satan’s Fall.  We experience these limits as Space and Time.  The Universe of Space/Time was formed to halt the division of the World Soul and to establish an interval in which the multitude of Souls could be reassembled through the process of incarnation.   

As we said earlier, it’s axiomatic that Consciousness can never be utterly annihilated.  It follows, therefore, that even the shards of shattered Consciousness embodied in the Fallen Angels retain a shadowy existence, a residual persistence in a sub-reality of sorts.  They are the Qlippot, the empty “husks” or “shells” of the broken Cherubic Vessels.  As the universal Soul divides, the Qlippot occupy the voids between its members and strive to keep them apart.  They seek to keep the Soul divided by subjecting its individual parts to the severest Judgment.  Although Mercy and Judgment — Chesed and Gevurah in Hebrew — were united in Justice prior to Lucifer’s rebellion, they have now become separated and opposed.

The Qlippot constitute the potential for evil, a potential which can become actual if they attain incarnation.  As we’ll explain in the next chapter, this can occur if the Qlippot are able to “mix” sufficiently with the assembly of Souls in Malkut as to contaminate them.  In a manner of speaking, then, we have a source of genuine Souls, or “good seed”, competing with a source of pseudo-souls, or “bad seed”.  Scriptural symbolism assigns the former to Jacob and his progeny, and the latter to Esau and his generations.  Which brings us at last to the allegory of the Kings of Edom in Chapter 36 of Genesis.[39]

The passage lists eight kings who, it is said, “reigned in the land of Edom before their reigned any king over the children of Israel”.  This signifies that the “seed” of Edom is the remnant of the abortive spiritual Universe of Shattered Vessels whose demise set the stage for the Creation of our Universe of Space/Time.   The first king in the line is described as “Bela, the son of Beor”, and we are told that the name of his city was Dinhabah.  In Hebrew, the words Bela and Beor both connote something which devours and consumes, as does the wrath of unmitigated Judgment.   Accordingly, the Kabbalah interprets these two name to signify “the most rigorous judicial decree”.[40]  Likewise, the name of Bela’s city Dinhabah may be interpreted as “give forth Judgment”,[41] and the Kabbalah links it to the following passage from Solomon’s Proverbs:

There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness...

There is a generation whose teeth are as swords ... to devour the poor from off the earth and the needy from among men.

The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give ... [42]


King Solomon was the very incarnation of Justice because he was the least rigid of all judges.  His was not a “justice” of iron decrees and unbending rules.  In him, a son of Israel, Judgment was tempered with compassion, especially for the poor, the weak, the vulnerable.  Aside from the Messiah Himself, no Man has possessed greater Righteousness than Solomon.  Yet there’s  a sublime irony revealed in Solomon’s Righteousness:  He was a great sinner, for the Bible/Torah reports that he strayed into idolatry, bowing before the pillars of Baal/El and raising altars to Moloch.[43]  The irony is that Solomon could not have been as wise and just as he was had he not been a such sinner.  Meister Eckhart made this an emphatic point  in his sermons:

Know that the impulse to wrong is never without use and benefit to the just person ...  For the perfection of virtue comes of struggle, or, as St. Paul says, “Virtue is made perfect in weakness.”


The concept Eckhart is preaching here is nothing less than the key to the central mystery of Christianity: How could he who is without Sin have become (again in the words of St. Paul) the very embodiment of Sin, so that Sin could die with him on the Cross?  He took all our Sin upon himself because he is the Body of which we all are Members.  The Body cannot have corruption in one of its Members without being diseased throughout.  No man is justified by the fact that he does less evil than his fellow man — no more than his chest can be more healthy if his stomach is sick.  Jesus laid down his life on Calvary’s hill just to make one simple statement, but it’s amazing how many supposed “Christians” still don’t “get it”.  Christ’s message was and is simply this: There is no Sin but our own Sin!

The Law can be applied to no one but ourselves.  Each of us is called upon to perform the Will of God in a unique and different way.  I like to think that I am called upon to write down these words you are now reading.  But I dare not judge my sister or brother because they do not follow what I perceive to be God’s Will.  To assign “blame” outside of ourselves is to dismember the Body of Christ.  To exercise Judgment against another is to impose the “law” of Moloch, the devourer of innocent Souls.  If we are truly to take up the Cross of Jesus and follow him, must we not take upon ourselves the Sin of our fellow man?  Must we not recognize as our own even the evil ostensibly done by “others”?  In no way but this may we realize the Oneness of mankind, the unity of humanity which is the precondition of the Coming of His Kingdom.

Edom represents the presence in the World Soul of the remnants of the self-justifying State of Mind which we know as Satan.  Edom is the “generation” of pseudo-souls which, as Solomon puts it, are pure in their own eyes yet actually awash in their own filth.  It was of this “generation” which spoke Christ in his prophecy of the Last Things:

This generation shall not pass, till all these things have been fulfilled ...[44]

In other words, the broken husks of the Fallen Angels must all find their way into incarnation so that they may be re-assimilated into the Body of Man.  This is the meaning of the prophecy of Isaiah regarding the King of Tyre:

And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre ...

And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord: it shall not be treasured or laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.[45]


The number 70 in Isaiah’s prophecy refers to the letter Ayin ע.  According to the Kabbalah, Ayin signifies seven universes of Chaos which were destroyed before the Creation of our World.[46]  These seven inferior universes in turn correspond to the first seven Kings of Edom described in Chapter 36 of Genesis.   These seven represent the “generation” which must pass away before the Son of Man returns to claim His Kingdom, the spiritual Kingdom of Israel.  It makes sense, therefore, that the eighth King of this Edomite line would be a prototype of the Messiah.  The name of this eighth King is given as Hadar, a Hebrew word which means “Beauty”.  The Kabbalah associates this name with the eight-day feast of Succoth or Tabernacles, which begins with the gathering of boughs from the beautiful “hadar” tree.[47]  Succoth is the festival of “dwellings”, and the Hebrew letters of the name Hadar הדר can be read as HaDor, “the dwelling”.  Since Hadar is the only one of the Kings of Edom who is matched with a Queen, he aptly symbolizes the restoration to the Soul of its Queen — the Female Presence of God, Shechinah.

In our next chapter, we shall see how the ancient Jewish rituals of Succoth express a formula for the balancing of the Soul’s Male and Female polarities and their alignment with the sexual polarities of the Godhead.  Such balancing and alignment is essential to the Soul’s function as a Vessel of the quintessential Light.  We will also learn how this how the rituals of the Hadar Tree symbolically reveal the structure of the Tree of Life, the network of paths which the Soul must follow back to the Godhead.  For purposes of completing the argument of this chapter, however, we need only recognize that the feast of Succoth was, first and foremost, a celebration of that special variety of Self-Consciousness known as Vision.

 Earlier I promised to return to the subject of the “alternate option” to Lucifer’s narcissistic take on Self-Consciousness.  We’ve seen that the State of Mind we call Satan represents a “wrong turn” on the path of Conscious evolution.  It’s not the first such blind-alley, but it does stand apart from all the rest in one important aspect.  It’s unique insofar as it’s wrong by choice rather than by mistake.  Up to this point, Consciousness had blindly evolved by trial-and-error.  Consequently, up to this point, no “evil” had ever been associated with error.  In fact, error was (and is) an integral part of the ordained pattern of “probing” toward the Godhead.  But Satan constitutes the first fully sentient, Self-aware State of Mind which chooses the path of error — the path, that is, away from God.  Therefore, the Satanic State of Consciousness transforms error into Sin, and this is actually its salient feature.  On the other hand, the defining trait of visionary Consciousness is precisely the reverse: the remission of Sin into simple error.  This is an indispensable healing function, since the Body of Man cannot grow and develop without error and without the capacity to cast off error and move on.  As William Blake writes in his epic poem Jerusalem:

The Infinite alone resides in Definite & Determinate Identity

Establishment of Truth depends on destruction off Falsehood continually

On Circumcision: not on Virginity ...[48]


It’s precisely this critical capacity of the Body to cast off Falsehood which the disease of Sin disables.

It’s therefore apparent that the option of Vision is the “right choice” to be made when Consciousness first becomes aware of itself.  This explains why Lucifer’s rebellion originates with his rejection of the Messianic Vision personified in the Son of Man.[49]  Confronted with his own reflection, the Cherub Lucifer opts to elevate it above himself and adore it.  The other path for Consciousness is to encounter its Self-image “from above”.  True Self-Consciousness, as opposed to Pity, necessarily involves Self-transcendence.  It’s the path of continual annihilation of inferior selfhoods on the way to the all-embracing Selfhood of the Messiah.

To transcend one’s own Selfhood poses an obvious dilemma.  It’s like continuing to climb up a ladder after one has reached the top rung.  The Subjective pole of Consciousness can only grow by assimilating Objects of a lower spiritual stature than itself.  How, then, is it ever possible for the Knower to know himself?  The answer lies in a new kind of Knowledge.  Just as the Satanic version of Self-awareness spawns the debased parody of Love reduced to Pity, transcendent Self-Consciousness begets the glorified mode of Knowledge experienced in mystical Vision.  Once the amber-like threshold of visionary experience is crossed, a vehicle arrives to lift the Subjective State of Mind — the Cherub — up to the pinnacle from which it can behold itself.  It’s a vehicle that Ezekiel describes as the Merkabah, or “Chariot”.[50]  The “horses” of this Chariot are the winged Seraphim, the motive power of pure Love that ascends into the Presence of God.  And the Chariot’s wheels are the uplifting “wheels within wheels” which mold the Self in the shape of the Divine Image.

The Merkabah, therefore, is the crucial transition State which bridges the gap between Knowledge and Love.  It is the quantum leap of Vision that takes Consciousness over the precipice separating the Cherubim and the Seraphim.  It is, in a manner of speaking, the Serpent’s new skin.

The Chariot wheels turn inside one another because the cyclical patterns of the Eternal Forms go down infinitely deep into the fabric of Space/Time.  One way of picturing this is to imagine yourself standing between two mirrors.  As you look into the mirror in front of you, you see an endless series of images of yourself going “into” the mirror.  Each of the progressively smaller images is a similitude of your full-sized physical body.  Now let’s imagine that we have a pair of spiritual “mirrors” with the supernal Body of Man standing between them.  We can now visualize how the Divine Image is propagated “downward” through the angelic States of Consciousness.  The Reality of each of these States is, therefore, totally dependent on its faithful correspondence to the Form of the sublime Original.  And when we say that the correspondence of Form must be “faithful”, we mean that it must be so in the most minute particulars.  In fact, this is way we should understand what Faith actually is, according to St. Paul.  Faith is the State of Mind which conforms itself in every detail to the Forms of the highest Will.  By being receptive to the precise imprint of the Eternal Forms, Faith enables us to “see” things on higher planes of Consciousness.  Through Faith we become “in-formed” of things beyond our power of knowing.[51]

As we might expect, the dual “mirrors” which enable the propagation of the “likeness of God” through Faith are the twin poles of Consciousness.  We have been calling these the Subjective and the Objective poles, corresponding to the Male and Female principles.  To function as purveyors of the Divine Similitude, these “mirrors” have to face one another.  In this way, they enact the “face-to-face” sexual Union of the divine Male and Female.  Between these facing mirrors we can locate our transcendent Selfhood, our Chariot.  Being situated between the two poles of Consciousness means that our divine Self can simultaneously be an Object and a Subject.  At one and the same time, it can both know itself and be known to itself, as St. Paul affirms:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in  part; but then shall I know even as I am known.[52]


While each of us watches the World through our eyes, there is, in turn, “someone” that constantly watches us. As soon as we close our eyes at night, this interior Watchman of ours begins to speak to us in the symbolic language of dream-images which often strike us as bizarre and baffling.  These visions appear arbitrary and meaningless to us because we are viewing them from the wrong perspective, from the wrong level of Consciousness.  If we are to appreciate their patterns, we must mount up upon the Watchtower of which Isaiah speaks:

... I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:

And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men ... [bearing the news that] Babylon is fallen, is fallen ...[53]


Whether we use the Ezekiel’s image of the Chariot or Isaiah’s metaphor of the Watchtower, the message here is the same: The path to beatitude lies in continual Self-transcendence.  By ascending the Watchtower, by rising up upon our Chariot, we travel outside of the narrow confines of the selfhood which is the legacy of the Fallen Cherub.  Only by this Self-sacrifice may we become like the Son of Man and, through him, like the Father.  If we are to be like the Father, we must share in His divine nature.  The nature of the Father is to give, but what have we to give that is not already His?  The answer can only be this: our self-love!  Truly, then, Satan’s Fall has provided the currency by which we may purchase our Redemption.

Since we are Self-Conscious creatures, however, the surrender of our egocentrism is a matter of choice.  Through the “generation” of Edom, the residue of the Fallen Angels yet retains a voice within us.  That voice urges us to eschew the sacrifice of our Self and instead to offer up the sacrifice of our Vision.  It urges us to abandon the dwelling of the Female Presence of God and to abide “in the open”, like the hunter Esau.  If we do this, we perceive Shechinah as something alien to our Soul.  She ceases to be the animating Spirit of the Tree of Life, and instead becomes the elusive nymph of the Tree of Mystery.

The story of mankind’s choice between these two Trees will lead us into the Garden of Eden ... and out again.  And that’s the very route we’ll be traversing in our next two chapters.





1. Isaiah 14:12-14

[2]. Genesis 28:12-19

[3]. Summa Theologica, Part I, Q.61, Art.4

[4]. Id., Part I, Q.63, Art.7-8

[5]. Ezekiel 28:2

[6]. 1 Timothy 6:16

[7]. Ezekiel 28:6-8

[8]. Matthew 17:1-4; Mark 9:2-5

[9]. Ezekiel 28:14-15

[10]. Psalms 48:1-3

[11]. Isaiah 14:13

[12]. Ezekiel 1:4

[13]. Ezekiel 26:19-20

[14]. Quoted in a sermon of Meister Eckhart, R. Blakney trans., op. cit., p. 101.  The original source of the quotation appears to be St. Augustine=s Confessions, Book X, paragraph 65.

[15]. Meister Eckhart, op. cit., p. 98

[16]. Id.

[17]. Job 4:18.  Note that the “God spoken of in this passage is the feminine Elohim, despite the translators’ use of the male pronoun.

[18]. Summa Theologica, Pt.I, Q.108, Art.6

[19]. Id.

[20]. Summa Theologica, Pt. I, Q.63, Art.3

[21]. John Milton, Paradise Lost, III:290-293

[22]. William Blake, Jerusalem, II, 49:27-31

[23]. Jeremiah 31:33

[24]. Matthew 5:18

[25]. William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, plate 24

26.  Summa Theologica, Pt. I, Q.15, Art.1


[27]. The massaba which Jacob raised to El at Bethel later became the site of the idolatry of “sacred pillars” decried by the Law in Exodus 34:13 and Deuteronomy 12:3.  The altar which he erected for El at Shechem (Sychar) became the idolatrous mountain of the Samaritans where Jesus told the woman at the well, “Ye worship ye now know what”. Exodus 34:18-20; John 4:20-22.

[28]. This “dissection” is depicted in the Egyptian myth of Set’s dismemberment of his brother Osiris, and in the Greek tale of Dionysus’ similar treatment at the hands of the Titans.

[29]. Jeremiah 1:11

[30]. Zechariah 4:10

[31]. Genesis 32:24-30; see also Hosea 12:4-5

[32]. Genesis 25:27; In the King James translation, the Hebrew adjective “complete” is rendered as “plain”.

[33]. Genesis 25:27

[34]. Isaiah 45:18-19

[35]. Isaiah 34:11

[36]. 1 Timothy 6:16

[37]. John 1:14

[38]. William Blake, Jerusalem, I, 15:17-19

[39]. Genesis 36:31-39

[40]. Zohar, Greater Holy Assembly, ch. xxvi, '521

[41]. Id., ' 522

[42]. Proverbs 30:12-15

[43]. 1 Kings 11:1-8

[44]. Matthew 24:34

[45]. Isaiah 23:17-18

[46]. Zohar, Lesser Holy Assembly, ch. xix, '698

[47]. Leviticus 23:40

[48]. William Blake, Jerusalem, Ch. 3, 55:63-66

[49]. See, e.g., Paradise Lost, V:743-802

[50]. Ezekiel 1 & 10

[51]. Hebrews 11:1-3

[52]. 2 Corinthians 13:12

[53]. Isaiah 21:8-9