During the early 17th Century, there was a resurgence[I] of popular interest in Christian Mysticism in the form of Rosicrucianism. Rosicrucianism presented Mysticism in allegorical form, applying a mixture of esoteric traditions and symbolism from disparate cultures to achieve a new contextual understanding of Christianity. The tenets of the Hebrew Kabala, were of particular importance in the formulation of Rosicrucian doctrine, and were seamlessly integrated with Christian Mysticism as a part of the Rosicrucian belief system. One of the more interesting fusions of Hebrew and Christian Mysticism involved the extension of the Tetragrammaton, the ineffable name of G_d, into the Pentagrammatron, the Hebrew characters used to represent the name of Jesus. By further extension, this fusion came to include the transformation of the Adam Kadmon symbolically portrayed using the four Hebrew characters of the Tetragrammaton into the Adam Kadmon, formed using the five characters of the Pentagrammaton. This paper deals with this process of fusion and transformation and with its underlying basis.
I will forewarn the reader that much of what I have written here about Mysticism, The Kabala, and even the Tetragrammaton is an historical account as opposed to a technical discussion of these topics. This is because I wish to convey that Rosicrucianism evolved when it did because preexisting events aligned to make it possible; said another way, the time was ripe. I will also mention that although I have chosen to concentrate upon the Hebrew-Christian aspect of the mystical fusion which occurred within Rosicrucianism, it (Rosuicruianism) was the mixing vessel for many other Oriental and Occidental traditions (i.e. Platonic, Sufism, Vedic) as well.
Mysticism is the philosophy and practice of a direct (i.e. personal) experience of God[II]. Modern sources[III] usually add that in mysticism this direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained only through subjective experience (i.e. by intuition or insight) as opposed to intellect alone. The concept of mysticism is by its very nature somewhat difficult to define; it is reported[IV] that in 1899 William Ralph Inge, Dean of St. Pauls Cathedral was able to devise more than twenty-six different definitions, which he called “specimens” of possible meanings for the word “mysticism”. In early
Jewish and Christian literature[V] mystical experiences were typically described as “apokalypsis,” an “apocalypse” or “revelation.” or as waking visions, dreams, trances and auditory events which frequently involve spirit possession and ascent journeys. Many such events were self-induced[VI] (i.e. those of Montanus circa 156 A.D). The term “mysticism” derives from a treatise entitled The Mystical Theology,
written in the sixth century A.D. by a Neo-Platonist Christian monk, Dionysius the Areopagite, a.k.a. Pseudo-Dionysius or St. Denys the Areopagite[VII]. Dionysius the Areopagite was doubtless influenced by Philo of Alexandria[VIII] (Philo Judaeus, circa 20-50 B.C.) who developed the doctrines of Ecstasy and Enthusiasm. The Greek word “Ecstasy” means literally “standing outside oneself”, and combined with the doctrine of “Enthusiasm”, literally meaning “to possess the divine”, a system of enlightenment is formed which lies in the realm of direct experience.
The basis for Christian mysticism is often cited to be contained in three primary passages of New Testament scripture. These include[IX] :
Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”;
1 John 3:2: “Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”;
II Peter 1:4: “…exceedingly great and precious promises (are given unto us); that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”.
While Christian mysticism is as old as Christianity itself, its predecessor, Hebrew Mysticism, is believed to be far older. The Scriptural basis for Hebrew Mysticism is contained in many passages of the Torah (Pentateuch of the Old Testament) such as those in which God “strolled in the Garden” with Adam, and when Moses communed with God on Sinai.
The source for Hebrew Mysticism is considered to be the literature of the Kabala, of which the collective works known as the Zohar are considered the most important. The mystic allegory in the Zohar is based upon the principle that all visible things, including natural phenomena, have both an exoteric reality and an esoteric reality which informs Man in that which is invisible.
During the European Renaissance Mystics such as Roger Bacon, Raymond Lully, Basil Valentine, and Giovanni Pico De Mirandola had worked to steadily refine the principles of Christian Mysticism. Pico De Mirandola (1463-1494 A.D.) was especially active in studying the Kabala[X] under the direction of Jewish masters such as Jehuda Abravanel. Pico’s work directly influenced Johannes Reuchlin[XI] (1455-1522) who wrote De Arte Cabalistica in 1517. It is Reuchlin who is credited with the creation of the Pentagrammatron and Reuchlin who also first associated Adam Kadmon with Tiferet on the Kabalistic Tree of Life[XII].
Christian Mystics (including
Pico de Mirandola and Johannes Reuchlin) were likely attracted to the Zohar and Hebrew Mysticism because they believed that the Zohar established the truth of the Holy Trinity and the authenticity of Jesus as the Messiah. For example one passage[XIII] in the Zohar reads:
“The Ancient of Days has three heads. He reveals himself in three archetypes, all three forming but one. He is thus symbolized by the number Three. They are revealed in one another. (These are:) first, secret, hidden ‘Wisdom’; above that the Holy Ancient One; and above Him the Unknowable One. None knows what He contains; He is above all conception He is therefore called for man ‘Non-Existing’ (Ayin)”.
The evolution of Christian Mysticism continued through the centuries. Cornelius Agrippa[XIV] in 1531 wrote his “De Occulta Philosophia” (which associated Kabala with magic), following which time the writings of Robert Fludd (1574-1637) and Thomas Vaughan (1622-1666) appeared. The reader will recognize that the time period for the active development of Christian Mysticism here begins to overlap the founding of the Rosicrucian Order. It was during this time that Martines de Pasqually, Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, Jakob Boehme, Baruch Spinoza, and Athanius Kirchner began to contribute to Mystical philosophy. It was Kirchner who first began to draw a parallel between Adam Kadmon and Jesus. While the historical development of Christian Mysticism extends well beyond the late 17th and 18th centuries, the period during which the accomplishments of interest in this article were effected has (I believe) been satisfactorily covered. By the time of the publication of The Confessio, The Fama, and The Alchemical Marriage, Christian Mysticism had fully been realized in Rosicrucian doctrine and imbued with a Westernized version of the Kabala.
The Hebrew Kabala
The Kabala, which is the Hebrew word[XV] for “The Tradition” is an ancient system of mystical Hebrew wisdom which allegedly existed as an oral tradition prior to being set into written form in the 12th Century. The oral tradition is said to have been transmitted to the Angels prior to the Creation. Mankind subsequently received it on three separate occasions. The first recipient[XVI] was Adam who received the Kabala from the Archangel Raziel at the time of the fall. Abraham was the second (circa 1700 B.C)[XVII], receiving it from Melchizedek. The knowledge of the Kabala was lost following each of these transmissions. Moses was the third recipient, who was given the Kabala on his second assent (the second encounter) of Mt. Sinai (following his receipt of the Ten Commandments). Moses received four levels of interpretation[XVIII] of the Kabala – (1) Pshat or simple, (2) Remez or illusion, (3) Drush homiletic interpretation, and (4) Sod or the mystical dimension. Taken together these words form the Acronym “PARDRS”. Kabalists refer to Moses’ receipt of The Ten Commandments as the Outer Teaching (in which he received the written law, Torah Shebichtav) , and the receipt of the Kabala as the Inner Teaching (in which he received the oral tradition, Torah Shebaal Peh[XIX]). Moses passed the Kabala to Joshua who perpetuated the mystical tradition.
The written Kabala consists of several scrolls, including The Sepher Yetzirah, or “Book of Formation” purportedly placed into writing by Rabbi Akiva, the Sefer Bahir or the Book of Illumination, attributed[XX] to Rabbi Nehunia ben haKana, and the Pirkei Heichalot Rabati (the Greater Palaces) by Rabbi Ishmael[XXI] . Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (the Rashibi) subsequently added to the literature of the Kabala, when receiving Divine Inspiration from the Prophet Elijah who composed the sacred Zohar[XXII]. The Zohar (Book of Splendor) was later published by Rabbi Moshe de Leon[XXIII] (Moshe ben Shem-Tov) of Spain circa the late 13th and early 14th Centuries A.D. The Kabala is comprised primarily (though not exclusively) of the material contained in the aforementioned texts.
While the sum of the literature of the Kabala is both extensive and complex, the concepts which are of primary interest to us in this article are those concerning the Tree of Life (or Sephiroth), and Adam Kadmon (Primordial Man).
The Tetragrammaton is the four-lettered Name of G_d, which is written in Hebrew characters as Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh (יהוה) and which is traditionally pronounced as either Jehovah or Yahweh in its English transliteration[XXIV]. In ancient Hebrew history, the Tetragrammaton was forbidden to be uttered except by the High Priest in the Temple of Jerusalem on certain Holy days. The Temple of Jerusalem has not existed for centuries, and since that time the Name has not been spoken during religious ritual by Jews[XXV]. Because Hebraic characters were originally written without vowel markings (and appeared only as consonants) the correct Hebraic pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton is believed to have been lost. When reading the Hebraic scriptures, a substitute for the Ineffable Name, such as “Adonai” (meaning “Lord”) is pronounced instead.
We initially encounter the Tetragrammaton in the Hebrew Scriptures in Genesis 2:4 and 2:16 in which Moses wrote the name of God using the four Hebrew characters Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh (יהוה). The earliest extant document fragments[XXVI] in which the Tetragrammaton appears is portion of Column 19 of the Psalms Scroll (Tehilim) from Qumran Cave 11 (circa 200 B.C to 68 A.D.).
The Tetragrammaton occurs 6,961 times in the original-language version of the Hebrew Scriptures. The later pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton as “Jehovah” is believed to have stemmed[XXVII] from the practice of Masoretic Jews who combined the vowel sounds found in the name Adonai and Elohim with the consonants of the Tetragrammaton to obtain an approximation for the Divine name (Yehowah and Yehowih). This resulted in the Latinized form “Jehovah”. The first recorded use of this form dates from its use by the Spanish monk Raymundus Martini in his Pugeo Fidei (circa 1270.A.D.).
The Septuagint, which provided a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures was widely distributed to both Jewish and Christian readers in the early Christian period. The translation work for the Septuagint began in approximately 280 B.C. and the books of the Law were probably completed by 180 B.C. The translation of the entire Hebrew Scriptures was completed near the second century A.D. Interestingly, in the Septuagint the Tetragrammaton was generally used in copies which were intended for Jewish readers whereas the Septuagint which was circulated in the Gentile world used the Greek word Kyrios (Kurios) as a translation of the divine name. By contrast, the Christian Greek Scriptures were written between 41 A.D. (Matthew) and 98 A.D. (the Gospel of John).
Both Jesus and the later Christian Scripture writers extensively quoted the Septuagint which was likely the first Bible used by early Christians. It would therefore be entirely natural to find early Christians with a familiarity of the Tetragrammaton, even in the form of the Kyrios.
The Tetragrammaton has significant Cabalistic meaning beyond its representation as the Ineffable Name. For example (Figure 1), the Yod is taken to represent the element fire, Heh (prime) is water, Vav is air, and Heh (final) represents the element earth. Additionally, each of the Four Worlds[XXVIII] of the Sephiroth (Tree of Life) is represented by a letter of the Tetragrammaton. Atziluth, the World of Emanations or Archetypal World coresponds to the letter Yod of the Tetragrammaton; Briah, the World of Creation is the World of Archangels and corresponds to the letter Heh of the Tetragrammaton; Yetzirah is the World of Formation and is the World of Angels and corresponds to the letter Vav of the Tetragrammaton; and Asiyah, or the Material World, which is the World of Action, corresponds to the final letter Heh of the Tetragrammaton. It might be added, as a point of reference for later discussions that the symbol of the Cross is often considered by Cabalists to be associated with the Tetragrammaton, with each of the arms of the cross representing one of the four elements fire, air, water, and earth.
The Pentagrammaton or “fivefold word” is an adaptation of the Tetragrammaton in which an additional character (Shin) has been added (Yod, Heh, Shin, Vav, Heh or יה ש וה), and which represents the Hebrew name of Jesus (generally taken to be “Yeheshuah” or “YahShuah”). According to the Encyclopedia[XXIX]:
“Yahshuah is a form of the HebrewHebrew (, ‘Ivrit) is a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family spoken by more than seven million people in Israel and Jewish communities around the world. In Israel, it is the de facto language of the state and the people, as well as being one of the two official languages (together with Arabic), and it is spoken by a majority of the population. The core of the Tanach (the Hebrew Bible ) is written in Classical Hebrew, and much of its present …Hebrew name of Jesus produced by mystical speculation at various periods of history, but which is rejected by mainstream linguistics and textual scholarship in the field of ancient languages. The essential idea is of an alphabetic consonantal framework Y-H-Sh-W-H, which can be supplied with vowels in various ways. (Also, the “W” can be converted into a “U”, since the Hebrew letter
waw writes either a [w] consonant sound – later on pronounced [v] – or a long [u] vowel sound”
As can be seen by this definition, the linguistic correctness of the use of “Yeshuah” as a representation of the name of Jesus is disputed. This is largely because in the Hebrew language there is Ketiv (what is to be written) and there is also Qere (what is to be read), or that which is to be understood[XXX]. Both have to be done correctly for the word or name to be proper. Since the Hebrew language has evolved over time and region[XXXI], the arguments both for and against the correctness of the form of Jesus’ name are extensive.
Regardless of the controversy, it is fact that no later than 1486 A.D. the use of the Pentagrammaton to signify the name of Jesus was in widespread use among Cabbalists such as Giovanni Pico Del Mirandola[XXXII] who published “Seventy-Two Conclusions on the Cabala”. In his fourteenth conclusion Pico argued that the name of Jesus could be obtained by the inclusion of the letter Shin in the Tetragrammaton.
Brother P.G. Maxwell-Stuart[XXXIII] in his discussion of Reuchlin’s
De Ver”bo Mirifico” writes:
“The Pentagrammaton is the means by which man achieves all knowledge and shares in the life of the divinity; and in that sharing, wonderful powers are conferred on him, so that he can carry out extraordinary deeds. This name has brought back to life, cured them of sickness, and freed them of evil demons, over whom the divine name has especially great powers. It has changed rivers to wine, brought food to the hungry, made waters recede at times of earthquake and flood, repulsed pirates, and even tamed camels. It protected Paul from snakes on Malta, gave Sylvester and Philip power over dragons, and, in the struggle between St. John and Kynops, the leader of the Magi, on the island of Patmos, enabled John to prevail over wicked spirits and demonstrated the superior power of the Name over all demonic magic”.
The significance of the inclusion of the letter Shin in the Tetragrammaton is profound. Not only does it provide the required “Sh” sound; the letter Shin also signifies “spirit” and it’s inclusion represents the descent of Shekinah, or the Holy Spirit in the person of Jesus[XXXIV].
Renaissance Occultist Jakob Bohme[XXXV] produced a representation of the Pentagrammaton associated with the Tetragrammaton and arranged as a Pythagorean Tetractys (Figure 2) in his Calendarium Naturale Magicum or “Magical Calendar” (circa 1582 A.D.). This is believed to be the first diagram depicting the Pentagrammaton ever published.
In Figure 2, the Tetragrammaton, or four-lettered Name of God, arranged as a Pythagorean Tetractys within the inverted human heart[XXXVI]. Beneath, the name Jehovah is shown transformed into Jehoshua by the interpolation of the Hebrew letter Shin. In the first book of his Libri Apologetici, Jakob Bohme describes the meaning of this symbol:
“For we men have one book in common which points to God. Each has it within himself, which is the priceless Name of God. Its letters are the flames of His love, which He out of His heart in the priceless Name of Jesus has revealed in us. Read these letters in your hearts and spirits and you have books enough. All the writings of the children of God
direct you unto that one book, for therein lie all the treasures of wisdom. This book is Christ in you.”
Those who conceived of the name of Jesus being contained within the Ineffable Name may have based their belief upon New Testament Scripture. There are a number of verses[XXXVII] which hint at the concept; including:
Hebrews 1:4 -The Son inherited a more excellent name
John 12:13 – Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord
John 17:6-26 – Jesus manifested the Fathers name while here on earth.
John 5:4 – I am come in my Fathers name
Naturally, each of these verses could be considered either as a literal statement or as a metaphor. The general view of Mysticism is that the Bible may be literal, metaphoric, or poetic in its intended meaning. Assuming these verses allude to the name of Jesus as being fused with the Tetragrammaton, they would qualify as a sort of scriptural double entendre.
The Pentagrammaton is also the basis for the Occult symbol, known as the Pentagram (Figure 3). Note that in the Pentagram, each of the five points of the star may be visualized to represent a letter of the Pentagrammaton, and therefore represent the four elements plus spirit, which signifies that Spirit rules over matter[XXXVIII]. The pentagram also is closely associated with the so called “Divine Ratio” or Phi (Φ). The Greek letter Phi (Φ) is also the letter of harmony and reconciliation. What is depicted Cabalistically with the letter name JHShVH is identical to the concept depicted graphically with the circled cross[XXXIX]. The Circle is the Spirit, corresponding to Shin, and the Cross represents the elements corresponding to the other four letters.
In studying Figure 3, the reader will no doubt notice the similarity of the Pentagram and the human body – the resemblance to the two legs, two arms, and head of the human figure. While there are specific esoteric parallels between the human form and the Pentagram, it is another, far more ancient resemblance between the form of man and the Pentagrammaton which I would like to discuss.
The Sepher Yetzirah explains that the creation of the world was achieved by the manipulation of the sacred letters which form the names of God. A review of Figure 1 will confirm that the Tetragrammnaton is conceptually related to the Tree of Life, or Sephiroth, which is a diagram of Creation. In addition to the concept of the Four Worlds, the Tetragrammaton modified to assume a different symbolism (Figure 4) is taken to represent Adam Kadmon, the prototype of created man. The head of Adam Kadmon is formed by Yod, the arms and sternum by Heh, the torso by Vav, and the hips and legs by the final Heh.
Note that in Figure 4 each Hebrew Character constituting the Tetragrammaton has been arranged to form the likeness of the human figure. Note further that each character in the Adam Kadmon retains its elemental symbolism, and its symbolism concerning its relationship to the Four Worlds.
The figure and concept of Adam Kadmon makes sense only in relation to the diagram of the Sephiroth, or Tree of Life, and the explanation of the Creation given in the Sepher Yetzirah. Because of the complexity and length of the account, only a brief synopsis can be offered here. It is believed however that this will serve to provide a basic understanding. In order to keep my explanation brief, many readers, familiar with the Mystical Hebrew concept of Creation will find my explanation too general; others (such as Lurianic Cabalists) may take exception to many of my points. To these readers I ask for your tolerance, and consideration of my purpose here.
The term “Adam Kadmon” is first found in Sod Yediat ha-Meẓiut, an early 13th-century Cabbalistic treatise[XLI]. The early Kabala speaks of adam elyon (“supreme man”; in the Zohar the corresponding Aramaic is adam di-l’ela or adam ila’ah). In Hebrew Mysticism the Deity is portrayed as the Ain Soph (meaning “Endless”). The Ain Soph is the Great Unknowable Entity, which possesses negative existence (which does not mean that He does not exist). The Ain Soph created the universe by the process known as “Tsimtsum”, contracting Himself to form a void into which the universe was born[XLII]. Adam Kadmon (supernal, primordial, or prototypical man) was the first manifestation of divine existence, and filled the entire universe. Initially Adam Kadmon, a completely spiritual being, formed as ten concentric circles, followed by the form of a human[XLIII] (more properly said, humans were created in the shape of Adam Kadmon). Because the Ain Soph is unknowable, Adam Kadmon is considered to be the first manifestation of G_d which can be perceived. When visualizing the human form of Adam Kadmon, it is often useful to draw the analogy of the figural forms ascribed to the constellations. The constellations only resemble an animal or mythical hero, etc. when the stars constituting the constellation are connected by lines. Even then the shape formed is rudimentary. Bear in mind that Adam Kadmon is a cosmic metaphor and that an actual cosmic creation in the exact shape of a human does not exist. One of the key points in Cabbalistic theory[XLIV] is that the ten Sephiroth are contained within Adam Kadmon (see Figure 5). All Divine light (Ain Soph Aur) must pass through Adam Kadmon, via the Sephiroth, in the course of being emanated into the Four Worlds. Adam Kadmon therefore, is not only a primordial being but also a Cosmic boundary which contains the very forces of existence. To summarize this portion of the Creation process, the Ain Soph creates Adam Kadmon, and the remainder of Creation emanates from Adam Kadmon. Adam Kadmon represents an anthropomorphic manifestation of G-d, a male deity assuming the features and shape subsedquently identified with those of a human being. He may be viewed as a cosmic interface between G_d and Creation. Scholars consider that the concept of Adam Kadmon may have been derived from the earlier work of Philo, who hypothesizes a heavenly man who was created prior to the Adam of Genesis.
The Divine Light (Ain Soph Aur) which passes through the Sephiroth is said to be emitted from the openings and apertures of the skull (eyes, nostrils, ears, and mouth) of Adam Kadmon (it has also been claimed that the light of Adam Kadmon issues from his mouth, his navel, and his phallus). Light also issues from the Forehead of Adam Kadmon, some of which takes the form of letters and words in the Torah. As the Divine light passes in a zig-zag path through the Sephiroth, the light becomes progressively more dense, and the Four Worlds are created, culminating with the World of Assiah (or physical existence). It is into this world that the Adams of Genesis (yes, plural Adams) are eventually delivered. In Genesis 1: 26 it is written:
“And G-d said, Let us make man in our in our image, after our likeness..”
Cabalists view this to refer to the creation of a second Adam who came into existence in the world of Briah. (When Genesis 1:26 tells us that man was created in the image of God, it means the image of Adam Kadmon, since God, as Ain Soph has no form or image. The earthly Adam of Genesis was therefore created in the image of Adam Kadmon).
Later then, in Genesis 2:7 is written:
“And the Lord G_d formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”.
Cabalists believe Genesis 2:7 indicates the formation of a third Adam in the World of Yetsirah. The fall of man, or fall of Adam, refers to the Adam of Yetsirah who, along with Eve, descended into the World of Assiah. In this scheme Adam Kadmon, is considered to exist within the World of Atziluth. Like Adam Kadmon, the Adam of Briah is Androgenous (Gen. 1:27 “Male and female created He them”)
To summarize the discussion to this point, the Divine and Endless Light propagates through the tree of life, bringing four worlds into existence. Each world is connected to and affects the worlds above and below. After the formation of the worlds (of which Adam Kadmon inhabits the first) are then populated with Adams themselves, with the final World inhabited by that Adam who has fallen from Grace. Each Adam is created in the likeness of Adam Kadmon, the manifestation of the Divine. Each human being, created since the beginning, is a sort of Cosmic Hologram, each of them containing the likeness of Adam Kadmon.
It is easy to see from this how each of the four worlds relates to Adam Kadmon, and why the Cabalists represented Adam Kadmon using the Hebrew characters of the Tetragrammaton as they did. Our story of Adams however is incomplete. I refer of course to that version of Adam Kadmon formed using the letters of the Pentagrammaton (Figure 6).
It is not inconsequential that the position occupied by Shin in Figure 6 is that which corresponds to the heart of Adam Kadmon. If the position of the Shin in the Pentagrammaton is projected over the figure of the Tetragrammaton in Figure 5, it may be seen that the Shin occupies a location directly over the Sephira Tipareth, which also corresponds to the heart. Tipareth is also the Sephira traditionally associated with Jesus. The use of the Pentagrammnaton as Adam Kadmon in this manner signifies the perfection of Jesus.
The representation of the Christian Pentagrammaton as a concept which has its basis in Hebrew Mysticism is only one example of the great co-joining of Mystic philosophies found in the tenets of Rosicrucianism. It is however a very good example of how older, and more highly evolved concepts may be used to build new traditions. I believe that examples of such fusion are abundant in the history of humanity, and that modern Religions and cultures share an incredibly rich ancient heritage; a fact which we frequently suffer the misfortune of forgetting.
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