This is the third part of an introduction to a course on Traif Kabbalah. (It's not kosher kabbalah, but it's still Jewish enough to have made an informed decision about that) Be sure you've read part 1 and part 2 before reading this. You might also want to read this brief aside: Ascent or Descent.
So far, we've made our way from Ein Soph, through Azilut, through Beriah. We come now to Yetzirah, usually called the "World of Formation", but I prefer to call it the "World of Manufacturing". Here, the plane spins into three dimensional space, lines can fail to intersect without being parallel. The blueprint begins to resolve into an actual chariot; here your vision begins to take shape, and you become emotionally invested in the process. It should be very easy to be here, if you have any experience with meditation, magic, or trance-work; this is where journeys take place. You've been here before, if nothing else, this is where you go when you dream or take a "trip".
Here, the blueprint of the chariot we created in beriah is put into production; things become manifest. Most magic is worked in yetzirah; it's the "above" in the phrase "As above, so below." This is the "Small Face" of the divine, and the home of most spirits we work with as magicians, including most angels, elementals, genius loci, and other sorts of "personality" spirits, "mortal" spirits which arise from other sources, not those "eternal" spirits who were, are, and always will be.
The vast majority of magic takes place in yetzirah; this is the world of sympathy, and a place where the doctrine of signatures actually kind of makes sense. Here is where symbol and referent are conjoined.
I'm going to pause for a moment, and describe a bit of the technical details of how to provoke ascent into yetzirah by means of merkaba. That being said, if you already have a technique that works for you (like the drumming and tree descent a lot of us know), there's no particular difference between that and this. The method of inducing trance states I'm about to teach you centers around water. Before beginning, it's important to look at the complicated cluster of ideas surrounding both of those in Jewish context.
Water is the fluid of life, and it's status in Jewish metaphysics is complicated and rich. It is hard to overstate the importance of water as the materia of spirit in Jewish thought; like all desert peoples, water is a precious, powerful, and magical thing. "And God made the expanse, and divided the waters (mayim) which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. And God called the expanse the heavens (shmayim)." (Gen 1:8) The very word for "heavens" (or "skies") in Hebrew, shamayim (שמים), means literally "fire waters" (ש מים) and is often understood as a "cosmic ocean". Psalm 104:3 explicitly connects the substance of the heavens with water. It is by sacred rivers that all biblical visions take place; Jacob's wrestling with angels and Ezikiel's vision of the chariot, in particular, are explicitly connected with riverbanks. The ritual bath (mikveh) is one of the most important of sacraments for Jewish mystics; various hakhalot texts prescribe frequent ritual immersion as both preparation for spiritual work and purification after pollution. Standing, lying, or floating in running water is also as a meausre of protection when teaching or experimenting with the practices. "On the day of the transmission, they should fast, and then they should stand int eh water, the water reaching [at least] up to their ankles, and [only] then the master should open his mouth and recite." (**add citation**) Any magician worth her salt knows that running water is a powerful medium for the spirit journey..."It's a universal conduit. Lubricates the transition from one plane to another. ...Normally only a portion of the body has to be suspended, but you wanted the crash course." (John Constantine) Finally, water is reflective; it's surface makes the best of scrying mirrors. "Thus Ezekiel stood beside the river Cheba gazing into the water and the seven heavesn were opened to heim so he saw the Glory of the Holy One, Blessed be He, the hayyot (creatures), the ministering angels, the angelic hosts, the seraphim--those of sparkling wings--all atteched tot eh Merkaba. They passid by in heaven while Ezikiel saw them in teh water." (Rei'yot Yehezkiel)
So, how do we use water to journey? First, some classic sources:
"Then, on the seventh day, at the evening of the eighth (ie, Saturday night at sunset), go out to the water and call the divine name upon the water. Then, at that very time, you will see in the air resting upon the water the image of a form...and if you see the image clear and ruddy, you know that you are purified." (Sefer Sodei Razaya)
"Go out on the first day upon the shore of a sea or the bank of a river at the third hour of the night...turn your face upon the water, and recite three times the name of the archon with the name of the angels of the encampment three times. You will see a pillar of fire between heaven and earth and say this: "I adjure you by the One who measured the waters in the palm of his hand and reunked the waters so they fled from him....who rebuked the sea and it dired up, and made the rivers a desert...thus do on the second and thrid night. You will see revealed to you a pillar of fire and cloud, and upon it will be somethign like the image of a man." (Sefer ha Razim)
Ok, I was hoping to finish up in three parts, but it looks like that's not happening. More tomorrow.