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Why not Kabbalah?


Ratty
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Kabbalah doesn't seem to be too popular on the forum, and I may well be writing this for myself. If so, so. I'm not entirely sure why it's so unpopular. Perhaps it's due to its fearsome reputation or its apparent lack of immediate practicality. Yet it possesses unquestioned links to modern tarot and the two most popular systems, RW and Thoth.

 

For Thothies at least, kabbalah is front and centre, whereas RWS hides its kabbalistic roots. How many users of Rider-Waite decks even know of Waite's book on the Doctrine and Literature of Kabbalah, much less bother to read it? [it's turgid, dogmatic, repetitive and a slog; I haven't got past the first thirty pages yet. None of this is due to kabbalah itself and everything due to Waite's style.] The point is that anyone who thinks RWS isn't based at least somewhat on kabbalistic thought is deluding themselves. The Golden Dawn were knee deep in it.

 

Kabbalah as a system of spiritual advancement is popular. Since Madonna and Britney got on the bandwagon a few years ago, kabbalah courses abound. Googling kabbalah courses returns nearly half a million hits, and kabbalah by itself five and a half million. It's no longer just some obscure philosophy propounded by medieval Jewish mystics in S'fat.

 

Like my Tarot journey, my research into kabbalah has only just brushed the surface. I'm certainly not going to attempt to translate the Zohar as Mathers did. I'm not even going to read all the works. But getting behind the Golden Dawn's take on it is probably a good idea.

 

As well as its seminal works, the Zohar, the Sefer Yetzeirah, the Bahir, there are systemetizing works, such as the Pardes to get a handle on, and all these come before Isaac Luria changed the foundation of kabbalistic thought in the sixteenth century. The Tree of Life used by Hebraic kabbalists to this day is the one attributed to Luria (HaAri).

 

The Tree of Life used by Golden Dawn and modern tarot readers is the seventeenth century version  by Kircher. Kircher was a Jesuit and genius polymath, who was untroubled by lack of evidence. It is impossible to divorce his wide-ranging fancies and intuitions from his undoubted scholarship. Sometimes, such as his theory of microorganism-generated disease, he just struck lucky. Nevertheless, he seems to have given impetus to the Christian kabbalist movement, and bound it tightly to the Hermetic tradition.

 

Waite remarks on the paucity of published study in Christian kabbalah for the next two centuries. It was clearly around in the undergrowth influencing the likes of Gebelin's discussion of tarot and the Hebrew alphabet in the eighteenth century, and enabling Etteilla to kickstart tarot divination. I suspect it was driven underground in the secret societies such as Freemasonry and the Rosicrucian orders that appear to start around the same period as Kircher.

 

In the mid nineteenth century we get Eliphas Levi, another Christian kabbalist with a limited acquaintance of scholarship. Waite rants against him (despite having translated Levi's Transendental Magic); Crowley claims he was Levi's reincarnation; his influence on the Golden Dawn is direct and undisputed.

 

To this day, kabbalah influences tarot, but while Pollack's 78 Degrees is mentioned in 28 prior posts here, her Kabbalah Tree is mentioned in only one.

 

Perhaps it is the huge weight of this corpus and history that intimidates us from pursuing the links between kabbalah and tarot. Yet there's a board for astrology, which has an even older pedigree (the earliest Visconti majors were designed by an astrologer). I suppose I could make similar remarks about Newton and Etteilla's links with alchemy as Kircher and Levi's with kaballah. Of course, there's no board for alchemy here either.

 

So I guess I have no conclusion. If anyone else fancies delving a little into kabbalah, I'll be happy to join in. Perhaps we could get a study group forum. Even if not, I'll keep looking into kaballah and eventually alchemy too. Because why not?

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I have studied and read with tarot cards for a little over 20 years now, so I have inevitably run into the concept of Kabbalah and alchemy (in the way it relates to golden dawn teachings) a couple of times over the years. I used to place a lot of weight on the occult, and more ‘academic’ approach to tarot some years ago, but at the place I am at right now I am content with having a good enough factual base to rely on, and then letting my intuition and my reading style take the most prominent place in my tarot practice. But I am very aware of the ever changing cycles of any kind of sprititual practice (which I very much consider tarot to be, especially when spoken of in these Golden dawn terms) so I might well reach another point where I want to go even deeper into these aspects. It is also those kinds of topics that I think are best dealt with in limited doses, on and off through the years. That is how I believe you get the most depth out of it (I really don’t think you can cram an understanding of Kabbalah into your head in any short period of time - it is more a work of remembering and rediscovering universal truths, and that takes time. But these are just my opinions and I am clearly not an expert on this topic (by any stretch of the imagination), so it will be interesting to hear what others has to say about this. I hope you find other members that are in similar places like you are on their tarot journey!

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There was a big historic Kabbalah discussion area on the old forum AT and people created many threads with many discussions, but for me, it was way out of my depth! It looked so theological and technical. I was learning tarot and it was just way out of my area.

 

I would like to learn more about it in future and Thoth but I am intimidated by it I must admit. I am happy with how my tarot learning is going now but I have it as a thing to learn in future. However I am not sure I am good at the more theological side of divination, it just doesn't fit my personality. Unlike learning other things that go with my tarot usage, I've not really needed to learn it much as yet.

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I started my tarot journey 20 years ago with the Thoth. Over time I’ve read various texts on Kabbalah but I do feel it’s a lifelong study in a way. Every so often I will go back  and re-read some of my key books and a bit more insight will slot into place. Often I find that a particular sphere seems resonant in my life and so I’ll focus on that specifically.

 

However, it’s something I use when reading with GD decks. When I’m using TdM or other historical decks I’ll draw on different philosophies.

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However, it’s something I use when reading with GD decks. When I’m using TdM or other historical decks I’ll draw on different philosophies.

I understand that. One of the things I read about TdM is that the minors reflect the majors. I haven't really studied TdM yet, but if that's true, I think a choice has to be made.

 

The kabbalistic correspondences are that the minors reflect the Sefirot, while the majors reflect the paths. If you try to put both systems together, you'd get a correspondence between the ten Sefirot and the majors too. But it doesn't quite fit.

 

Keter = Ace = Magician

Chochma = 2 = High Priestess

Binah = 3 = Empress

Chesed = 4 = Emperor

G'vurah = 5 = Hierophant

Tiferet = 6 = The Lovers

Netzach = 7 = The Chariot

Hod = 8 = Strength

Yesod = 9 = Hermit

Malkut = 10 = Fortune

 

All just about okay, apart from the Emperor and perhaps the Hierophant. The idea that Aries goes with loving kindness and unthinking generosity doesn't really fly.

 

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I feel that this kind of work has more of an impact of you as a person than of your actual card interpretations. What I mean is that you will most likely not be any more or less accurate (or on point) with your readings, and I believe it’s a total myth that you have to know Kabbalah (or be fluent in all the different tarot systems, like marseille, Thoth, eteilla and RWS) in order to be a top reader. These things just make for different kind of readers - it won’t determine how passionate or experienced (or ‘good’) you are with your cards, in my opinion.

 

I remember doing professional readings back in my early twenties, and back then I really had never even heard of Kabbalah (and I had no idea what Golden Dawn was). But you know what? I gave freaking excellent readings! And I think I actually benefited from not having heard of all the things I ‘should’ know as a good tarot reader. And a lot of the time I was nervous as hell and about to pee my pants because I thought to myself that I really had no idea what I was doing - but I still did it, because the feedback told me that somehow I was naturally really good at it. So a lot changes over time, for better or worse - but mostly things are just ‘different’.

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I understand that. One of the things I read about TdM is that the minors reflect the majors. I haven't really studied TdM yet, but if that's true, I think a choice has to be made.

fly.

 

Some people like to link the pips back to the Trumps for readings but that is one method of many. Other people take their inspiration from other cartomantic traditions such as playing cards. Pythagorean number theory is also popular.

 

This site has a really good explanation for how you could get a system of meanings for pips.

 

https://tarot-heritage.com/cartomancy/read-the-pip-cards/

 

 

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kabbalah is harder then it looks.

I read the qabalistic tarot,, the chicken qabalah,, the witches tarot, and the witches qabblaha by cannon reed,,

I have the tarot of sephiroth,,

and spent weeks thinking  of the death,, and how there should be a sphere there,, and a path , aka a tarot card ..

 

finally I realized I would never be on equal footing with the others especially where it pertains to scholary kabbalah..

heck i didn't agree with some of the assocations..

then tzzadie is not the star ..

 

in the book tarot minor wisdom by isabel,,she changed some of the court cards assocations,, some of it agree..

 

then dont get me started on gemetria,i am out of there..!

 

that said,, the lovers being the sword help me, to see love can a be a sword and gives more meaning to jesus words about picking up the sword.

 

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EmpyreanKnight

I have to brush up on my Kabbalah again, but yeah this would be very interesting! It would definitely attract the attention of some of our more esoterically-inclined members.

 

If we do get a Kabbalah study group, the question is: who's going to lead it, create the threads, steer the direction of discussions, etc?

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EmpyreanKnight

The kabbalistic correspondences are that the minors reflect the Sefirot, while the majors reflect the paths. If you try to put both systems together, you'd get a correspondence between the ten Sefirot and the majors too. But it doesn't quite fit.

 

Keter = Ace = Magician

Chochma = 2 = High Priestess

Binah = 3 = Empress

Chesed = 4 = Emperor

G'vurah = 5 = Hierophant

Tiferet = 6 = The Lovers

Netzach = 7 = The Chariot

Hod = 8 = Strength

Yesod = 9 = Hermit

Malkut = 10 = Fortune

 

All just about okay, apart from the Emperor and perhaps the Hierophant. The idea that Aries goes with loving kindness and unthinking generosity doesn't really fly.

 

You're right Ratty, this is quite strange. Following this would mean that, for example, The Magician is not only Kether, but the path between Kether and Binah as well. As per the table above, Binah corresponds to The Empress. Why should the Path of Beth be attributed to The Magician and not to The Empress?

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Would this be looking at the different schools of Kabbalah or just GD?

 

I appreciate the GD and their take on it, I just don't gel with it which is why I stopped working with GD-based decks. The Hebrew letters are placed oddly on the tree- it doesn't make sense to me. Add on top of that the placement of the letters with different majors and I hit a wall with it.

 

I prefer using TdM just so I don't have to try to push Kabbalah on tarot. But I do enjoy just discussing Kabbalah in general and for spiritual work.

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EmpyreanKnight

I'm assuming that since this is a Tarot forum we're going to work with the Hermetic Qabalah/Kabbalah, which is a different discipline from the Jewish Kabbalah.

 

I know that different decks may assign differing paths to their majors, but since the Golden Dawn is the predominant system now, serving as the basis for many modern decks, it might be a good idea to work with it. It would encompass the RWS and the many decks that rely on its system. The Emperor-Star inversion for the Thoth system must be discussed tho, among other things.

 

I'm getting ahead of myself tho. First we have to determine if there's a demand for a Kabbalah study group and who wishes to participate. If there's one, we next agree on which system to use. I can set up a poll for this. Lastly, someone has to step up to lead the group. I honestly can't because I have a lot on my hands right now.

 

OR someone can just say that she/he wants to lead a Kabbalah study group, outline what system would be used and how it would proceed, and see how many participants would be willing to join. That's simpler, really. :) Or if anyone would like to nominate someone and they accept it, why not?

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Not for me. I think that as one gets better at reading the cards it's very easy to believe that the reason they work is due to the truth of an underlying system - but people can also read cards with no system at all.

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Not for me. I think that as one gets better at reading the cards it's very easy to believe that the reason they work is due to the truth of an underlying system - but people can also read cards with no system at all.

 

I 100% agree with you. Tarot can be (and definitely is) a divining tool like anything else and all you really need are to use your senses (including the sixth sense) and just experience the cards. But I realize that these opinions are not very helpful for those who just want to learn more about Kabbalah. So I don’t wish to disrespect anyone or to add information or opinions that are just very irrelevant in this case. And I also am certainly NOT against a study group like this! So it is probably more helpful if it’s mainly those who are positive to this idea that reply here, so this does not turn into a “Kabbalah is oh so complicated and very unnecessary” thread, if you know what I mean. (By the way, this is not meant as critique to anyone, more as an explanation why I will take a step back and shut my mouth as not to upset anyone!)

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Rose Lalonde

People can be great pilots without knowing all aspects of how the plane was built and its history since Kitty Hawk. Same with tarot readers.  But personally, it just bugged me to not know why a card was originally said to mean what it does, so I researched (and still research) the way the Golden Dawn applied Qabalah and astrology to create their deck, that then inspired the RWS/Thoth/Tabula Mundi/etc.

 

Turns out I find their underlying structure beautiful - all the 3s with the energy of Binah in common; the 8, 9 and 10 of Disks sharing with the Hermit the influence of Virgo, etc. I happily include it in readings (even if I read with my TdMs!  >:D ) but I don't always articulate all of how I came up with my reading to the sitter. It depends on whether I think I'm going to bore them to death, like when my dentist throws around words like occlusal and mesial when I just want my teeth cleaned.

 

Somehow study groups about Qabalah often seem to get a bit dry. Like we're giving book reports and need to get the answers exactly right to not fail. It could always be different than that, of course.  :)

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Somehow study groups about Qabalah often seem to get a bit dry. Like we're giving book reports and need to get the answers exactly right to not fail.

 

Let me answer that, if I may, in 18 numbered parts: sub-parts will use the Latin alphabet, sub-sub-parts the small Roman numerals.

 

1a(i)  I can see how it could get dry.

...

18g(iv) Perhaps that's why we need the tea.

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The kabbalistic correspondences are that the minors reflect the Sefirot, while the majors reflect the paths. If you try to put both systems together, you'd get a correspondence between the ten Sefirot and the majors too. But it doesn't quite fit.

 

Keter = Ace = Magician

Chochma = 2 = High Priestess

Binah = 3 = Empress

Chesed = 4 = Emperor

G'vurah = 5 = Hierophant

Tiferet = 6 = The Lovers

Netzach = 7 = The Chariot

Hod = 8 = Strength

Yesod = 9 = Hermit

Malkut = 10 = Fortune

 

All just about okay, apart from the Emperor and perhaps the Hierophant. The idea that Aries goes with loving kindness and unthinking generosity doesn't really fly.

 

I meant to come back to this yesterday... I think you could use Kaballah for the minors but it would best to have an approach like Rose Lalonde i.e. just use those for the pups and don’t also try and shoehorn the Trumps into it too.

 

Either use ‘pips as trumps’ or Kabbalah pips. Both would work fine - the problem comes when trying to do both at once.

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Would this be looking at the different schools of Kabbalah or just GD?

The Hebrew letters are placed oddly on the tree- it doesn't make sense to me. Add on top of that the placement of the letters with different majors and I hit a wall with it.

 

Only the cards assignment to the paths seems to have had thought put in. The letter assignment to the cards is simplistic, just going by order. The consequent letter to path assignments appear to be the result of sloppy thinking, ignoring kabbalist discussion even prior to Luria. Is that true? I think it's worth looking at.

 

I'm assuming that since this is a Tarot forum we're going to work with the Hermetic Qabalah/Kabbalah, which is a different discipline from the Jewish Kabbalah.

 

I'm getting ahead of myself tho. First we have to determine if there's a demand for a Kabbalah study group and who wishes to participate. If there's one, we next agree on which system to use. I can set up a poll for this. Lastly, someone has to step up to lead the group. I honestly can't because I have a lot on my hands right now.

 

I agree with Penthasilia. I see no reason to limit discussions from the off, but I have no real experience of online study groups. My gut feel is that The Empress comes before The Emperor, Jupiter before Saturn, Chesed before Gevurah, growth before restriction. It works that way in brainstorming too.

 

Government studies have tight remits primarily to control the outcome. Then they are paying for those studies (albeit with our money).

 

Consider, for example, the question of the macroprosopus and microprosopus (I really hate those names) and their respective spouses. As I understand it, this comes from the system of Partzufim of Lurianic Kabbalah, but the rest of that system seems to be largely ignored. If we want to understand Crowley's attributions of the court cards, might that not be worth looking into?

 

If people want to study kabbalah to see how it informs tarot, there's a question of how far back do you go. My answer would be: as far back as whoever is studying wants to.

 

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EmpyreanKnight

Far be it for me to limit the extent of any discussion. I'll fully support whichever direction or breadth of topics the participants in a potential study group would like to engage in.

 

But see, in a study group, someone at least has to set the agenda. If anyone will just post whatever topic they want under a Kabbalah sub for example, it's no longer a study group - it just becomes a Kabbalah section. There must at least be some consensus on what will be covered so that prospective participants would know what to expect. Like this week it's going to be a general overview of the 10 sephiroth, next week we discuss Kether specifically, its nature, how it relates to the Tarot, etc. If a participant wishes to make a thread exploring the deeper aspects of the sephira, then they can so so by all means.

 

Again, we're not going to limit the range of the discussions, but there should be an idea of what the study group is going to cover, and how it is going to proceed through these topics.

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Rose Lalonde

Somehow study groups about Qabalah often seem to get a bit dry. Like we're giving book reports and need to get the answers exactly right to not fail.

 

Let me answer that, if I may, in 18 numbered parts: sub-parts will use the Latin alphabet, sub-sub-parts the small Roman numerals.

 

1a(i)  I can see how it could get dry.

...

18g(iv) Perhaps that's why we need the tea.

18g(v) If I might add one addendum... lol
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Would this be looking at the different schools of Kabbalah or just GD?

The Hebrew letters are placed oddly on the tree- it doesn't make sense to me. Add on top of that the placement of the letters with different majors and I hit a wall with it.

 

Only the cards assignment to the paths seems to have had thought put in. The letter assignment to the cards is simplistic, just going by order. The consequent letter to path assignments appear to be the result of sloppy thinking, ignoring kabbalist discussion even prior to Luria. Is that true? I think it's worth looking at.

 

I'm assuming that since this is a Tarot forum we're going to work with the Hermetic Qabalah/Kabbalah, which is a different discipline from the Jewish Kabbalah.

 

I'm getting ahead of myself tho. First we have to determine if there's a demand for a Kabbalah study group and who wishes to participate. If there's one, we next agree on which system to use. I can set up a poll for this. Lastly, someone has to step up to lead the group. I honestly can't because I have a lot on my hands right now.

 

I agree with Penthasilia. I see no reason to limit discussions from the off, but I have no real experience of online study groups. My gut feel is that The Empress comes before The Emperor, Jupiter before Saturn, Chesed before Gevurah, growth before restriction. It works that way in brainstorming too.

 

Government studies have tight remits primarily to control the outcome. Then they are paying for those studies (albeit with our money).

 

Consider, for example, the question of the macroprosopus and microprosopus (I really hate those names) and their respective spouses. As I understand it, this comes from the system of Partzufim of Lurianic Kabbalah, but the rest of that system seems to be largely ignored. If we want to understand Crowley's attributions of the court cards, might that not be worth looking into?

 

If people want to study kabbalah to see how it informs tarot, there's a question of how far back do you go. My answer would be: as far back as whoever is studying wants to.

 

If you want to keep it tarot focused- the only non-GD Kabbalah based deck that I know of is the one Lurian based deck- so it might be interesting to use it as a compare and contrast. I tend to agree with EK that it may be helpful to at least start out keeping it tarot focused just to keep things cohesive. But I definitely don't have the time or space to do more than just put in some thoughts with an upcoming move and all.

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I would think there is definitely a market (albeit niche!) for a kabbalah study group.  I, for one, would love to be part of it.  But I am very much a beginner and couldn't possibly begin to teach anyone anything.  (My role would be more to ask the stupid questions...  ;D )

 

If the opinion of a beginner is of any use at all, then I would be interested in focussing on kabbalah as it relates to tarot.

 

I wonder whether starting with a few very basic topics for discussion (almost "an idiot's guide to the tree of life", "an idiot's guide to the four worlds" etc)  might be a good way to test the waters.  It might encourage other newbies to join in and the discussion might not ascend quite so quickly to point 18(g)(v)(i) ....    :)

 

But we would need some of you lovely expert Thothies and kabbalists to volunteer a lot of valuable time to set a syllabus...  and to answer my first daft question:  is it kabbalah or qabalah and does it matter and is there a difference?    ???

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Rose Lalonde
...I wonder whether starting with a few very basic topics for discussion (almost "an idiot's guide to the tree of life", "an idiot's guide to the four worlds" etc)  might be a good way to test the waters.  It might encourage other newbies to join in and the discussion might not ascend quite so quickly to point 18(g)(v)(i) ....    :)

 

But we would need some of you lovely expert Thothies and kabbalists to volunteer a lot of valuable time to set a syllabus...  and to answer my first daft question:  is it kabbalah or qabalah and does it matter and is there a difference?    ???

 

Often Qabalah is used just to differentiate Hermetic Qabalah from the original Jewish Kabbalah, but not always.

 

As a beginner, I found it confusing to try to learn from the forum at AT, because you always have the discussions about details or wanting to change things from the GD layout etc, and I hadn't learned the GD structure yet. I did like the forum as a place to ask questions and do a 'sanity check' of what I was understanding from resources like Wang's The Qabalistic Tarot, Duquette's offbeatThe Chicken Qabalah... and Bonner's Qabalah Primer. Something like that, or even the short, free intro from Lo Scarabeo (which has some typos but was otherwise well received on AT by people who know more than I) may be a better start than a study group, unless you've already dipped your toe in. OR... you could love starting with a study group! For me I just needed a little background first.  :)

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is it kabbalah or qabalah and does it matter and is there a difference?    ???

 

The tldr is, it doesn't really matter to most people, and however you spell it everyone will know what you mean.

 

There are 22 Hebrew letters including two with a "k" sound, Kaf (כ) and Kuf (ק). To distinguish in transliteration, some people like to use k for a kaf and q for a kuf. Others, like me, feel that the q without a u looks unnatural. Kabbalah (קַבָּלָה) is spelled with a kuf, so those who like to do the one for one transliteration go for the q.

 

Hebrew-speaking kabbalists are less likely to use the q, so where you see it with a q, it's probably Hermetic. Crowley goes for the q while Waite spells it with a k, so even within GD members there's no consistency.

 

[Edited to Add: modern tarot authors are split too. Pollack and Greer use k, Wang and DuQuette use q.]

 

There's the same issue with "t" sounds and the letters tet and taf. They liked to transliterate the letter taf as th. The problem is that the novice will read that as an English th sound. Hence Daath (as Waite spells it), Knowledge, should be pronounced Da'at or even Da'as, but never Daath.

 

The transliteration thing is just something you have to get used to.  :(

 

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Given the name of the forum, focussing on kabbalah's implications to tarot would seem to be a given, unless someone can come up with a historic link to tea! (This signifies B'rew-yah in Assam, so we should use the amber colour from the milky scale.)

 

I would think there is definitely a market (albeit niche!) for a kabbalah study group.  I, for one, would love to be part of it.  But I am very much a beginner and couldn't possibly begin to teach anyone anything.  (My role would be more to ask the stupid questions...  ;D )

 

If the opinion of a beginner is of any use at all, then I would be interested in focussing on kabbalah as it relates to tarot.

 

I wonder whether starting with a few very basic topics for discussion (almost "an idiot's guide to the tree of life", "an idiot's guide to the four worlds" etc)  might be a good way to test the waters.  It might encourage other newbies to join in and the discussion might not ascend quite so quickly to point 18(g)(v)(i) ....    :)

 

I think all areas should start with an idiot's guide. I don't know that I have much expertise, but I'm willing to put some effort and study in to help do a digest or two. Perhaps the idiot's guide could be corrected depending on the subsequent discussions; however, I'm conscious that Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed started out as a letter to another rabbi and ended up as a three book compilation, with seventy six chapters in the first book alone. We'd need to make sure the idiot's guide remains that way.

 

We also could have a resources guide.

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