Most Kabbalists were theorists who were interested only in pure meditation. But there were so-called ‘practical Kabbalists’ who tried to apply the power of the Kabbalah in everyday life.
In other words, sorcerers.
Yes. These practical Kabbalists used a so-called ‘archangelic alphabet’, derived from first-century Greek and Aramaic theurgic alphabets, which resembled cuneiform. The Kabbalists referred to the alphabet as ‘eye-writing,’ because the letters were composed of lines and small circles, which resembled eyes.
Ones and zeroes.
– Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash
There are many stories that underlie the systems that shape our world, stories that often times have buried histories and unexamined assumptions. Sometimes the myths and languages that shape peoples experience of reality are invisible, like the ones and zeroes of computer code. In a very real sense many of the most powerful stories are invisible, even dismissed by most people as being in any way influential on daily affairs. For example, focus in on the myriad web of jokes told in America. Sadly, there are many more misogynist than feminist anecdotes and many more racist than antiracist jokes in circulation. These are just a small part of the many unacknowledged stories that define what is normal and explain the status quo and in so doing define our sense of what kind of a world is possible.
The telling of any story functions covertly by suppressing alternative or contrary emplotments of the same events. To tell then a previously ‘untold story’ is an act which can be extraordinarily disruptive to the existing social order, relying as it does on the consensed upon narrative of reality that is the norm. Much of ‘magic’ can be understood as storytelling. The mage turns symbols and ritual into a story, and then spellbinds their audience in the telling. The audience goes on to incorporate the new story into their everday life – and the spell is cast when they bring it to life through their actions.
“Magical combat is a struggle between storytellers,” writes the mage John Michael Greer, “in which each mage tries to define a common reality in terms of the story that best serves his or her purposes. The medium of magic is consciousness — one’s own consciousness, that of other people, and (more controversially, at least within the worldview of modern industrial culture) that of other-than-human entities of various kinds. The tools of magic are will, imagination, and the innate structures of consciousness itself, constellated through formal patterns of symbol and ritual. The goals of magic are defined by the individual magician.”
Welcome to The Last Wizards. The stories below, and in our archives, explore the world of the occult from a multitude of viewpoints and beliefs. New essays are added monthly. Spread the word.