“As kabalists have said for thousands of years, we humans are a microcosm of the universe. This is a reference to the fact that there are 22 letters in the Hebrew language, and 22 chromosomes in the human body—there’s even a myth that God actually created the human being using the letters of the alphabet.” – From the companion booklet
Kabala, which means “to receive”, is a mystical branch of Judaism as well as a way of life. Kabalists believe that Abraham write a book called Sefer Yetzira (Book of Creation) long before the Torah, and this Hebrew text described the energies of the planets and the zodiac. A man named Rabbi Eliezer hid in a cave with his son, spending 13 years writing down the lessons of the mystical world. This mystical interpretation of the Torah is known as the Zohar.
Kabalists believe there are infinite levels of meaning in the traditional stories of the Torah, including a form of sacred mathematics known as gematria, which assigns letters numerical values. There are endless ways to manipulate words and letters to derive mystical meaning, and the foundation these systems is the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The Torah, kabalists say, is like a blueprint for life: Everything that’s included in the handwritten scroll has something to teach us about our own lives even to this day.
The Ask the Kabala Oracle Cards is a unique 22-card deck illustrating each of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each card/letter correlates with an archetypal theme, story or character from the Old Testament as seen from a Kabalistic perspective. By pondering the stories in light of a particular question or concern, hidden paths and messages will lead querent to a deeper understanding of both the letters and yourself.
There is some fascinating information in the 135-page companion booklet, especially about mystical numerical systems and the letters themselves. For example, it’s said that the Torah is made up of black fire on white fire. The black fire is the actual letters written on the physical scroll, while the white fire is the space between and surrounding the letters. The black fire is the literal, intellectual meaning of the texts while the white fire is the more contemplative side, which we discover for ourselves through interpreting, assessing, and emotionally connecting with the material.
Although there is a brief discussion of the ten Sephiroth, including the names and qualities of each, much of it is mere abstraction. In fact, there isn’t even a diagram of the Tree of Life! Chopra further muddies the water by correlating the Kabala with Vedic spirituality term for term, which would prove very confusing to those new to Kabala. The mention of Vedic spirituality has no place in this deck, in my opinion, except perhaps to justify why Chopra’s name is even on the deck. (My guess is that Michael Zapolin provided most of the actual Kabalistic information).
The Hebrew terms and meanings for the Sephiroth and the Four Worlds could prove overwhelming for those unfamiliar with Kabala, but for those familiar via Western Magical traditions or the Tarot, it’s Kabala 101. Some of the correlations are different than I’m used to (e.g. Netzach equating with Eternity as opposed to Victory), and the spelling of the Hebrew letters vary a bit, as well.
After using the Ask the Kabala Oracle Cards several times, I find the deck to be an excellent meditation and oracular tool. I’m especially excited to explore the stories selected by Mr. Zapolin as they relate to the Major Arcana of the Tarot, as well as the theory of a’t’ba’sh.
For individuals unfamiliar with the Sephiroth or Four Worlds, the booklet could prove perplexing. You could either get a beginner book on Kabala for further study, or just use the oracle as it is—meditating on the letters and the stories provided by Mr. Zapolin and ignoring the introductory information. The cards aren’t particularly colorful, but the letter glyphs and Hebrew name for each would be useful for contemplation.
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