Title: The Mystical Qabalah
Author: Dion Fortune
Date Added: August 13, 2012
Date Started: Unknown
Date Finished: September 12, 2016
Dion Fortune’s classic, The Mystical Qabalah, explores all aspects of the Qabalah, including the esoteric sciences of astrology and tarot, which form the basis of the Western Mystery Traditions. It provides a key to the practical working of this mystical system for both novice and initiate alike.
Let me just put this out there right now. I read this book because of Final Fantasy VII. It’s about the Tree of Life, which is made up of the Holy Sephiroth, the emanations or “God-names” that focus principle archetypes behind evolving human activities. I had no idea the rabbit hole I was diving into, nor did I realize either how well SquareSoft (now Squeenix…unfortunately) had done their research or had managed to align their usage of that term with the appropriate symbolism. The Qabalah seeks to solve the paradox of “the Many and the One,” speaks about microcosm and macrocosm, and essentially serves as a guide through the metaphysical and esoteric.
This is not a post dedicated to me espousing the virtues and glory of FFVII (I do that often enough), but it has to be mentioned that the game led me to this study, and one of the first definitions of “Sephiroth” I found was “the path that leads to God.” It’s clearly present in the game’s narrative, and reading The MQ showed not only how much the symbolism of the Tree is present there, but in so many other stories as well.
One of the major points Fortune brings us to is that though they are named Holy and Unholy Sephiroth which would suggest two trees, in reality there is but the Holy Tree and its shadow. This is reminiscent of what Martin uses in ASOIAF for the religion of the Red God R’hllor (see my review of the Game of Thrones episode “The Dance of Dragons” here for more on that). It is a ubiquitous, all encompassing glyph that is frequently used without even the knowledge of invocation, and in either having knowledge or lacking it, creates a meta for the symbol itself as first and foremost knowledge is Qabalism’s greatest concern.
Fortune does a phenomenal job laying out all aspects of the Holy Stations, and while I did have to be nominally awake to absorb some of the concepts, they were simply explained and easily laid out. The complication came in the rumination on higher meanings.
It took me over a decade to finish this book. Pay no attention to the “Date Added” and “Date Finished” above. I bought it years before Goodreads existed when I was still in my twenties and reading tarot regularly. Both that system of divination and astrology have heavy connections to the Tree of Life. Interestingly enough, I’d seen mentions of the Qabalah before I played VII, but it flew above my radar, because there was nothing connecting me to it. Once I experienced the life changing event and knew the origin of the name Sephiroth, I couldn’t purchase this fast enough, but at the time, the esoteric symbolism was beyond me. I lamented that it was far too much to get through (at the time), but when I picked it up again approximately a year ago, I wondered what the hell my juvenile self had found such issue with.
The one complaint I have has to do with some caustically casual racist remarks that are sprinkled throughout the volume. Unfortunately, as mystical as Fortune was, she was still a product of her time. This is used as an explanation and not an excuse. So if you read The MQ, prepare for a few cringe worthy moments. This almost made me lower the rating by a star, but the information and the way it’s presented is excellent, so it retains a high rank but with that caveat.