Qadash Kinahnu
Qadash Kinahnu

Library of Sacred Scrolls
Room Four


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The Little Scrollkeeper

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Judaic Studies, Kabbalah, and Jewish Magic

The Jews used Canaanite deity names for their gods, such as 'El, 'Adon; in fact, they probably took some of the gods, as well, tossing them into the cultural blender, and making a YHWH smoothie out of them. Certainly 'Asherah was venerated by the Jews right there in the Temple of Jerusalem for about 70% of the time it was in existence, according to Raphael Patai, and probably longer among The People. Also look for information about Hellenistic Judaism, Jewish Gnosticism, the Jewish community at Elephantine in Egypt, Jewish mystery traditions, etc. These variations of rigid Yahuh-ism indicate a recognition, in differing forms, of feminine divine energies. For example, Philo of Alexandria, an Egyptian Jewish writer (30 bce to 50 CE), is considered to be rather Gnostic. For Elephantine Jews, Yahuh had a female consort, the Queen of Heaven. Porphyry, the important Neo-Platonic writer, was a Levantine Jew...

  1. Adelman, Penina V. Miriam's Well: Rituals for Jewish Women Around the Year. Biblio Press: Fresh Meadows NY, 1986, second edition 1993.
    The author reclaims Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) practice as a women's ritual, while scrupulously worrying about the possibility of idolatry. Useful ideas for monthly seasonal practice, but bring out the idols, i say!

  2. Graves, Robert and Patai, Raphael. Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis. I have an old edition, but it has been re-issued. Originally published in 1963.
    The Book of Genesis as you never knew it! Throws in lots of history, biblically contemporary Pagan practices and myths. Not like Graves' The White Goddess, but very like his 2 vol. Greek Myths - not all of Graves' ideas are correct, he's a poet, not a scholar, but certainly interesting and mind-opening - and in this work Graves' fantasies are tempered by Patai's excellent scholarship.

  3. Hoffman, Edward. The Heavenly Ladder: The Jewish Guide to Inner Growth. Harper & Row: San Francisco, 1985.
    Lots of exercises, meditations, and practices mixing Judaism, Qabala, and modern psychology. Very Canaanitically adaptable. Good for ordinary Jews, too. Hoffman is a psychologist who is devoted to Qabala. I have found this book not only useful, but inspirational. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

  4. Idel, Moishe.
           Kabbalah: New Perspectives.
           Studies in Ecstatic Kabbalah.
           The Mystical Experience in Abraham Abulafia

    Idel is one of the best scholars of the Qabala since Gershon Scholem (q.v.) revived modern scholarly interest. His works on Abraham Abulafia are extremely important. The bad boy of Renaissance Jewish Qabala, Abulafia was driven out of his original Spanish Jewish community for divulging too much about the Qabala. He began writing when in his early twenties and died in his early thirties, after numerous hair-raising adventures, including a deadly near-encounter with the Catholic Pope (the Pope died). Whatta guy. I am very fond of him, adapting some of his writings for my Canaanite meditations and prayers. Oy, he'd probably turn over in his grave!

  5. Kaplan, Aryeh.
           Jewish Meditation.
           Meditation and the Bible [Tanakh].
           Meditation and Kabbalah.
    and his translations
           Sefir Yetzirah.
    Forget those foolish Golden Dawn translations, this is the best.
           The Bahir.
    Kaplan was a physicist and an Orthodox Rabbi, and, i gather from his writings, rather the mystic. He gives good historical and technical information. Very 'Biblical,' but Canaanitically adaptable. The meditation techniques, although focused on biblical writings, can be adapted. The descriptions by Jewish mystics of the sensations they experienced when seeing angels, God, and wheels within wheels are very like the physical sensations of those in trance in other cultures. Kaplan describes the Jewish method of achieving the trance state. The Bahir is about what Jews may see while in this state.

  6. Koltuv, Barbara Black. The Book of Lilith. York Beach, ME: Nicholas-Hays, Inc./Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1986.
    Jungian discussion of Lilith, the independent first woman, goddess, 'longhaired she demon of the night.' I found this book somewhat disappointing, but certainly worth having in a good library. I'm getting fed up with the Jungian over-simplification of male-female roles and symbols.

  7. Matt, Daniel C. The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism. HarperSan Francisco, Harper Collins Publishers: New York, 1995.
    In a relatively small book, 221 pages including notes and bibliography and a 20-page introduction, the author, here editor and translator, has managed to distill the wisdom of many obscure writings over hundreds of years. ESSENTIAL. He is also the translator and editor of a definitive edition of the Zohar, an essential and overwhelming Jewish Qabalistic work.

  8. Morgan, Michael A. Sepher Ha-Razim: The Book of Mysteries. Society of Biblical Literature, Texts and Translations 25, Pseudepigrapha Series 11. Chico CA: Scholars Press, 1983. Out-of-print.
    A Jewish mystical and magical grimoire from Egypt in the late Third to early Fourth Century CE. Related to the Sepher Raziel, a later version, translated into Latin and expanded by Renaissance magicians. This is not easy to find, being out-of-print and in few libraries, but worth looking for and photocopying.

  9. Naveh, Joseph and Shaked, Shaul. Amulets and Magic Bowls: Aramaic Incantations of Late Antiquity. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1985, corrected 1987.
    Naveh, Joseph and Shaked, Shaul. Magic and Formulae: Aramaic Incantations of Late Antiquity. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1993.

    Translations of primarily Jewish magical texts written on amulets and bowls, from the Near East of the Fourth to Sevenths Centuries CE. The second volume continues where the first left off, including some Christian amulets. Both include photographs of the original objects and the original texts (written in Hebrew alefbeit). Still in print. EXCELLENT for magical practice.

  10. Patai, Raphael. The Hebrew Goddess (Third Enlarged Edition). Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990/ New York: KTAV Publishing, 1967.
    Excellent examination of the feminine divine in Hebrew religion, including detailed discussions of 'Asherah, Astarte, ‘Anath, Lilith, Shekhinah, and the Matronit. I enjoyed this, but it is a digest and very Jewishly oriented (not a bad thing, just a caveat). Pretty much ESSENTIAL. Not my favorite, but every other Canaanite-Phoenician Pagan, many Goddess-worshippers, and lots of radical Jews will have read it.

  11. Schauss, Hayyim, trans. Samuel Jaffe. The Jewish Festivals: History & Observance. New York: Schocken Books, 1962 (originally pub. as Guide to Jewish Holy Days by Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1938). Still in print.
    Interesting history of Jewish holidays, the author isn't afraid to elucidate their Pagan roots. The Pagan part is useful, reflecting to some extent what the Chanaanites did for holidays.

  12. Scholem, Gershom.
           Origins of the Kabbalah
           On the Kabbalah and its Symbolism
           Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
           Jewish Gnosticism, Merkavah Mysticism, and Talmudic Tradition.
           On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: The Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah

    Scholem was extremely important in reclaiming the mystical traditions which the European Jews had jetisoned in their urgency to assimilate with the European Christians, for all the good it did. Scholem had to take an extreme scholarly angle, to reach Jews who for over a century had been convinced that mysticism and the Qabala were too wierd, non-rational (well, that much is true), and not worthy of the modern scientific age. So, Scholem is always struggling. He couldn't really become an overt practicing mystic or Qabalist or his scholarly work would be undermined. At the same time, it's obvious in reading his work just how much it all means to him. This man deserves our honor.

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The Canaanites and Phoenicians in the Twentieth Century

  1. Doria, Charles & Lenowitz, Harris, co-editors & translators, preface by Jerome Rothenberg. Origins: Creation Texts form the Ancient Mediterranean. Garden City NJ: Anchor Press/ Doubleday, 1975. Out-of-print.
    Doria and Lenowitz translate almost literally these texts, some available in other sources in conventional forms, others had never been published in English before this book appeared. The pieces are shaped on the page like late 20th century poems. While perhaps a bit more difficult to read than the usual, this gives the works a voice which is direct and immediate. Now it is up to the reader to interpret these tales from Egypt, Ugarit, Phoenicia, Mesopotamia, Hurrian and Hittite cultures of Anatolia, the Torah, Greece, Rome, and from Gnostic, mystic, and Qabalistic Judaism. Out-of-print, i was fortunate to find it in a used-book store. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

  2. Douglas-Klotz, Neil, translations, commentary & body prayers. Desert Wisdom: Sacred Middle Eastern Writings from the Goddess through the Sufis. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. Still in print.
    Another compendium drawing from sources widely separated in time, although less so in space: Egyptian, Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian (but he left out Ugarit); Biblical and other Hebrew; Aramaic; Dead Sea and Nag Hammadi; Quranic and other Arabic; and Persian Sufic works. The texts are organized, not by culture or time, but by theme, interspersed with 'body prayers,' which are variously meditations and practices inspired by this collection of what the author terms Native Middle Eastern mystical texts.

  3. Jacob Rabinowitz. The Unholy Bible: Hebrew Literature of the Early Kingdom Period Autonomedia: 1997; ISBN: 1-57027-015-5
    To quote from the Autonomedia website: "Jacob Rabinowitz, our very own necrophilic polymath, took a recent look at biblical texts available in English translation and found them wanting. The Unholy Bible contains his retranslation of the most egregiously Bowdlerized texts. The new versions are intended to make Good King James and the other sanctimonious hegemonists roll over. At the very least, he will disrupt their dreams."

  4. Jacob Rabinowitz. The Rotting Goddess: the Origin of the Witch in Classical Antiquity Autonomedia: 1998; ISBN 1-57027-035-X
    To quote from the Autonomedia website: "The Rotting Goddess lifts the skirts of Witchcraft, revealing the mysteries from which all scholarship to date has averted its eyes with a shudder: how Hekate became the triple goddess; why the witches meet at midnight; the origin of flying ointment, familiar spirit and cauldron; drawing dow the moon. The first and only history which gives a circumstantial and scholarly treatment of witchcraft from 800 BC to 400 AD."
    My comment: I'll be brief. This is a MUST READ for everyone interested in Paganism, Neopaganism, and Classical scholarship.

  5. Jacob Rabinowitz. The Faces of God : Canaanite Mythology As Hebrew Theology Spring Publications: 1998; ISBN: 0882141171
    From the book cover: "The Hebrew Bible stole with both hands from Canaanite myth (proof was dug up in Syria in 1928). Biblical scholars agreed to re-inter the evidence, to maintain the 'literal' truth of Scripture - be it as certain revelation or as dubious historical data. But the Bible is as full of Pagan mythology as a snake's egg is of snake. Here you'll find it cited in full: the sky-gods, world-mountains, war-goddesses and chaos-dragons - the secret heathen dreams of "Monotheism" - the hydra-head faces of God."

  6. Rothenberg, Jerome & Lenowitz, Harris, co-editors & translators, preface by Jerome Rothenberg. Exiled in the Word: Poems & Other Visions of the Jews from Tribal Times to Present. Port Townsend WA: Copper Canyon Press, 1989. Reworked from A Big Jewish Book, Anchor Press/ Doubleday, 1978. I hope it's still in print.
    Here we have Ugarit, the Torah, magic charms, mystic and Qabalistic materials, Nachman of Bratzlav, Albert Einstein, Gertrud Stein, Tristan Tzara, Allen Ginsberg. A wonderful resource, with much Paganly adaptable, and poetically inspirational. I LOVE this book. ESSENTIAL


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Other Rooms in the Library of Sacred Scrolls


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The Temple WallGo on to The Library of Links to see what other Pagans are doing, as well as Ancient Near Eastern Museum Collections, Archaeological sites, and more Spiritual pages.
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