Here's my first thoughts for Andrieh's new 30 day challenge.
There is a class of kabbalistic work called “Yihudim ha Shemot” or “Unification of the Names”. I’m not going to go into the technical details of how it works; basically, you do a lot of complicated combinatorical work with Hebrew letters to induce trance, and then you ascend/descend (it’s complicated) to the Other Place. Once there, you focus on facilitating the sexual union of HaShem and Shekhina. Their union is eternal, existing in every moment. It’s the matter-antimatter collision at the beginning of time and the end of time*; it’s the tempest that gives birth to itself. Obviously, this one paragraph explanation is a gross, gross oversimplification. (“yihudim” can also refer to a technique for trance possession by a dead Jewish saint, like the Witch of Endor does.) However, another aspect of the Work of Unification is the collection and reuniting of the “shards of holiness” (qlipoth) trapped in Names of Power. Here’s the short version of the story; When What-Is came into being, it passed through a series of “vessels”. These vessels were too rigid to contain the “power” of “G-d”, and so they shattered, sending innumerable shards of “essential being-stuff” into the nothingness. Once the physical world was manifested, these shards served to contain the Holy Essence in a way compatible with the separate nature of physical reality. Despite their reputation as all darkity-dark and eeeeevil in Hermetic qabala, Jewish teaching doesn’t see them that way. They serve an important function; they allow us to not be constantly aware of the fact that everything is, ultimately ONE. (“divided for the sake of union”). They are described as whirlwinds, clouds, fire, and brightness. One classic metaphor is to compare them to the peel on a fruit; it protects the fruit while it is growing, but it must be removed in order to take pleasure in the fruit. Work of Unification serves to help purify and refine these “windows”, so that the light of the Divine can pass through them more clearly into the World. When we unify the names, we bring Harmony to parts of creation that are disharmonious, both within ourselves and in the greater world. This understanding stems from Zechariah 14:9, which says “ וְהָיָה יְהוָה לְמֶלֶךְ, עַל-כָּל-הָאָרֶץ; בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, יִהְיֶה יְהוָה אֶחָד–וּשְׁמוֹ אֶחָד.” ”And HaShem shall be King over all the earth; in that day shall HaShem be One, and His name one.” It’s this sense that is inspiring me for my 30 day work. For a long time, I’ve been working with a whole coterie of spirits whose names appear etymologically related: Ishtar, Astarte, Astaroth, Astrael, etc. I’m going to try to work on unifying those names to reinvigorate the Holiness within them. To that end, I’m going to develop a ritual of unification between the goetic demon Astaroth and the kabbalistic angel Ashrael, as a way to Unify the Holy Name. I’ll be using “Astarte” as the name for the pairing, and for the underlying energetic construct (ie, the Holiness within the shard) Conveniently, the day I most associate with Astarte is right in the middle of these 30 days. Purim, which begins at sunset on Saturday the 15th of March (Adar 14) and ends Sunday at sunset, is a Jewish holiday celebrating the Book of Esther. A close reading of the text makes clear that this is an Ishtar festival in disguise. On Purim, the central ritual is simply to read aloud the Megillah (book of Esther). It is also customary to dress in drag, eat small vulva-shaped cakes called hammantashen, give gifts of food, play pranks, engage in satire of the holy books, and get so drunk you cannot tell the difference between good and evil. (Seriously! That’s the mainstream, normative, rabbi-approved way to celebrate the holiday. Judaism is very cool sometimes.)