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Category: the Magical Cabala in the Western Tradition

The Watcher of the Threshold

“Most traditional mythologies contain legends of living people who journeyed to the land of the dead; from the legends of Orpheus and Ishtar to Dante’s Divina Comedia, the image is a potent one, and rarely missed by the storytellers of any society.

Such tales have a tendency to follow similar lines, down to points of fine detail. These tales are closely paralleled, as well, by the experiences of shamans in their trance voyages to the Underworld–and by Cabalists venturing along the Path of Tau. Often–again, not universally, but often–there are ghosts and monstrous creatures along the way, caverns and narrow passages, the rush of underground water, the unnerving journey across a bridge as narrow as a sword’s blade; at times the traveler must give up something–anything from a small gift to the flesh on his or her bones–as the price of the descent. At the end of the journey comes the return to light and air, and very often the light is the light of stars.

One of the entities often met on this Path has a somewhat broader role: the Watcher of the Threshold, symbol of the fear that bars the way to transformation. Although the Watcher can makes its presence felt at any point, this Path is perhaps its most common lurking spot; Saturn’s involvement with time and death make the Path of Tau congenial ground.

It will sometimes happen that the Watcher will take concrete form in a working of this Path, appearing as a monster barring the way. While this can be unnerving, it usually marks a turning point in the work of the student. Once the Watcher is squarely faced on any level, its power dwindles.”

–John Michael Greer, Paths of Wisdom: The Magical Cabala in the Western Tradition, 1996, pg. 107.

The Third Son of Adam

“Adam and Eve, in the Genesis account, had three sons whose names are recorded; the first two, Cain and Abel, gained an unpleasant fame as the first murderer and his first victim.

The third, however, was named Seth, and had a different destiny. The Bible says little about him, but legend tells that he journeyed back to the gate of Eden and spoke to the angels who guarded the gate.

From them, according to one story, he received the secret teaching which was to become the Cabala.”

–John Michael Greer, Paths of Wisdom, the Magical Cabala in the Western Tradition, 1996, pg. 81.

The Pearl Net of the god Indra

“What is the Sphere of Sensation? In simplest terms, as mentioned earlier, it is the aura, the egg-shaped outer layer of the nephesh that extends out several feet from the physical body.

It is not, however, a simple featureless shape. Some texts refer to it as the Magical Mirror of the Universe, and this term is meant to be taken quite literally; the entire universe, in all its complexity, is reflected on its surface.”

“The Buddhist Garland Sutra makes use of an old Indian legend to express a similar insight. The god Indra, it was said, had a net infinitely large, in which each crossing of threads bore a brightly polished pearl. Each pearl reflected all the others, so that the whole net could be seen by looking at any one part. In this metaphor, the pearls are individual beings, the net the dance of becoming in which all beings are snared.

–John Michael Greer, Paths of Wisdom, the Magical Cabala in the Western Tradition, 1996, pg. 72-3.

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