Friday, December 2, 2011

Student Question: Perfection and the Qlippoth

A student recently asked me to post this response to their questions concerning perfection and the Qlippoth.

Perfection is something we judge, it comes from our own point of view. We perceive things and say they are imperfect. Does the Life Force make mistakes or do we think they are mistakes because of our particular perspective? If you're standing in the middle of the chalk outline in Uffington, can you see the horse? If you're a dog or an ant, can you even see that there is an outline?

Alan Watts wrote that the "bad" things that seem to happen to people are not happening to someone else. God is not punishing an external individual but experiencing suffering for Itself. Rabbi Kaplan once told me that visiting the sick and offering charity are Mitzvot (commandments) but if there were no sick and there were no poor, then we could not perform these Mitzvot. Everything we think of as a mistake is, in essence, something we may not understand.

It is the reason there are so many beings in the world of Briah. Gods, Goddesses, Archangels... all expressions of God, but simplified that we may interact with them on a direct basis. The Limitless Light is too much for us, we cannot wrap our primitive minds around it, they would burn to even try. In a universe that complex, how can we know what is a mistake and what is "perfection?"

There is no such thing as perfection, for every person has their own requirements for perfection. What is a perfect world from your perspective? What is perfect from the Evangelical Christian's perspective? The Shiite Muslim? The Zen Buddhist? Which perfection shall we create in the world in order to have a "perfect world?"

Sometimes it's the journey, not the destination... We may never reach "perfection" in this life, but we can strive for it, we can travel the path a little further than we did the last time. Each step brings us closer to our return to the Light, to passing the Ring-Pass-Not, or Ain.

The still small voice is sometimes very clear, but the lessons are not always obvious. Remember that any message from the Higher Self must be filtered through our own subconscious mind before our conscious mind can become aware of it. During that journey it must pass through all of our baggage, our shadow, and everything else before we are aware of it consciously. Also, sometimes, when we meditate, the brain falls asleep and we begin to dream. This can also be mistaken for the voice. I'm not saying this is the case, but it's useful to know in case.

The Qlippoth are forms of the Sephiroth which represent imbalance. By having free choice we can choose certain things. We can choose to move forward (good) or we can fight evolution (evil). Imbalance is something we all face at times. Too much Severity is but Cruelty and Viciousness. Too much Mercy is but weakness which would allow evil to go unchecked. We symbolically represent these as the Qlippoth.

Think on this though...humans or sentient beings in Assiah, are hanging between the Celestial beings (Angels, Archangels, etc...) and the Infernal beings (Demons, Devils, etc...) yet of all beings, we are given the freedom of choice. Nothing exists that is not holy, nothing exists that is not of God. We alone were given free choice. The Infernals are just as much a manifestation of the Divine as the Celestials, only that they represent a more primal part of our evolution. We, who descended from the Divine and were given free choice, climb back towards the Divine.

Our animal natures, for example, are not to be hated and reviled, but accepted, acknowledged, loved, and put behind us. The spirit of competition which was vital for survival in our pre-civilised state now prevents us from coming together as a people and working as a whole. If we were not competing with one another as nations, as corporations as individuals... how long would it take to wipe out world hunger? How long would it take to find a cure for AIDS or Cancer? How long before we left this planet and began to live amongst the stars? Those demonic, selfish, egotistical beings are representations of parts of ourselves we no longer need as a race. If we repress them, we give them power, just as the Shadow of our own psyche. Neither is it good to explore them without training... for they are ancient and powerful and can overwhelm you. This is why they are not approached in the early work.

It is like facing the shadow in psychology. It is not recommended to go at it alone, even with significant training in metaprogramming, magic and meditation. It can overwhelm you. Breaking down the personality can be an important step in the evolution of the magician, but if you don't know how to rebuild it, or you have nothing to replace it with, it can drive you insane. It's like hooking a plain LED into a mains outlet... it bursts. Yet if you know how, it can be done quite safely (building a board with the appropriate resistance and power inversion).

We are what we think about. The personality is very plastic. Should we focus too much on the unbalanced and outworn parts of ourselves and our species, it will warp our personality vehicles, often resulting in Fundamentalist Christian style paranoia.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Explaining Paganism

Some of us who walk High Magic's Path are also Pagan and work with the Earth Magic as well. Sometimes, though, it is very difficult to explain to our primarily Christian society what it is we do without using pejorative terms. They have taken the words Pagan and Heathen and made them analogous to Evil and Satanism. This is their own misunderstanding but it is one that is deeply ingrained in them. Sometimes it is difficult to explain in terms they can understand.

One thing that has become very common knowledge is the Native American/Canadian's attempt to recreate their Native traditions. Those very traditions that our governments have driven from them through such atrocities as the Residential School System and the relegation of them to some of the crappiest corners of the land. Yet this attempt to reclaim their heritage is sometimes seen as heroic, or at least looked upon in a kindly fashion. They had something taken from them, and now they are trying to cobble it back together.

But what is Paganism but OUR Native Tradition? Caucasian people from the British Islands and Northern Europe (even into the Mediterranean) have lost our heritage, we have lost our Native Traditions and, worst of all, have lost our homes. It was not so long ago that generations of our ancestors lived in the same place century after century. I don't mean the same house (though for some families with an ancestral home this was true) but the same village, community or county. Our blood bound to the land, and the land to our blood. Sons and Daughters of Alba or Eire or Gaul know the connection they have to their land. Patriotism isn't political, it's blood and stone, earth and breath. It cannot be washed away by a few generations of migration.

When we are formed, the energy of the land affects us. From the food our mothers ate to the vibration of the land under the home where she lived, the spiritual energy of 'home' is somehow part of our very DNA, it's in our blood and it calls to us. This is what I think home-sickness is truly about. And though it affects us in this body, at this time... when a family has been in one place for a long time the bond is greater and it is not replaced by being born in a new land, only added to. In time, it could be washed out, the new land becoming the true home, but for most Americans and Canadians that generation is a long way off.

So what are we, dispossessed from the land of our blood, in a foreign culture (Christian) to do? Certainly we brought Christianity with us, but even into the late 19th century Pagan practices were still a major part of agrarian society, and therefore part of our culture and our land. Here we have lost most of those Pagan parts of our culture, the few remaining having been vastly watered down by Christian symbolism.

Don't get me wrong, I know many very good Christians, and have no issue with the more enlightened sects (such as the Anglican, United, etc...) but they have taken away what was part of our connection to the land, our celebrations, our rituals, our cultural heritage.

So being Pagan means that we are reconstructing our Native Traditions in an attempt to connect to our roots, our past, our blood, our land. These are our Native Caucasian/European/British Traditions, no less worthy of respect than the Native American/Canadian Traditions. Sometimes it helps to make this connection when explaining it to modern day Christians. They seem to have more sympathy when you associate your Paganism to that of the people who truly belong to this land.

For us, though this is made even more difficult by the sheer vastness of our countries. The land of our forefathers was cultivated over a long period of time in small nations with their individual egregore. Such egregore mated to the land and they became one. In those days (and sometimes even today) that marriage has a human manifestation. "The Land and the King are One!" We were part of something tangible and we could see the symbol of that embodied in a person. And when that person worked against the good of the land, the people rose up and destroyed them.

Here, though, we can go hundreds of miles away and not have left the province, let alone the country. We have tried to take too many nations and force them into one identity under one ruler who does not stay in power long enough to be part of the land. We have someone in Ottawa now who was born in the prairies, what little connection he has to Canada is far removed from Ottawa from where he is attempting to rule. What he may feel is good for the country can only be good for that place from which he came. We are all like that, which is why the American Countries are having so much trouble. We're too big, and we do not connect to the land... in fact we've become so stoic and scientific that we even go out of our way to break that tie, not wanting to believe in it, and by doing so, becoming unhappy and nobody knows why.

So there are those of us who seek to connect to our land, to give treats to the local Fey population, to dance around the bonfires and to celebrate our Native traditions, even if we are in a foreign land. Even families that have been here for a hundred years are still immigrants from the perspective of their blood/land ties. A thousand years in Eire is not washed away by a hundred years in Canada, especially if you've moved from city to city during that time. Performing the Native Rites of our forebears gives us some connection, some feeling of Home that has been lost to us. We are practising our heritage and honouring our blood and our families and our homes back where our families were born from the rock and soil. Like our Native American/Canadian brethren (especially in the Eastern Woodlands) we have lost our heritage and now we reconstruct it in order to rebuild a sense of self, a sense of belonging and a sense of roots in our world and our new land.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Samhain

The feast of Samhain has passed yet again. This is the feast of the dead, the time when the veils between the worlds are thinnest. In Celtic lore it's a New Year's celebration, marking the end of the turning wheel and the beginning as well. In English we call it Hallowe'en which is a contraction of the words "All Hallow's Even" the night before the Christian festival known as All Saint's Day. Perhaps they felt the need to bring in all of the saints to protect them during this, sometimes frightening time of the year.

The word Samhain (or Samhaign) is often mispronounced. The letter h is not a "real" letter, so I am told, but rather a modifier of other letters (not unlike English's final 'e' which modifies the preceding vowel). In this case it modifies the 'm' creating a word which is pronounced sow-wain. Sow, like a female pig and Wain as in a wheel (alternatively "Wayne"). It is not pronounced Sam Hayn or Sam-a-hain-ee.

Almost every culture seems to have a story wherein a hero or God/dess descends into the underworld in order to confront, and bargain with its master who is Lord of Death in whatever form. In Japan we see Izanagi descend into the underworld to try to save Izanami. In Mesopotamia and Babylon we see Inanna descend into the underworld to confront Erishkagal. The story of Persephone's "abduction" by Hades/Jupiter and the journey of Demeter in order to confront him is generally well known. Even in the Norse we see Hermeod descend into Helaheim to confront Hel for the soul of Baldar. In Egypt (and later throughout Europe) we see Isis in her quest to reconstruct Osiris/Serapis and confronting Nephthys, Queen of the underworld.

In each of these stories there are obstacles to overcome, some are insurmountable, some are not and in many of these stories there is some limited amount of success. Hel agrees to let Baldar go if everyone will weep for him, Hades allows Persephone to leave the Underworld if she swears to marry him and live with him half of the year. Osiris only lives long enough to impregnate Isis with Horus the Younger. On the other hand, Inanna must be rescued in turn by Enki and Izanagi fails to save Izanami and, from his own eye, creates Amaterasu.

For every death there is a rebirth, as many of these stories show us. Even those who are rescued do not return unchanged. Yet when the land is cold and grey, when the veils are thin between the worlds, we are given a gift when it comes to our own beloved dead. Death itself gives us a reprieve. We lay out wine and cakes for those who have gone before us, and in so doing we aid them in their own journey, giving them the opportunity to be with us once again to enjoy the bounty of the harvest.

The Mysteries teach us that, when we die, we do not immediately dissolve the personalities we have formed during our lifetime. Rather we continue to inhabit it for some time until we absorb it into out Individuality, that part of us which continues from life to life like pearls upon a string. During this time we may be comforted by, and provide aid to, our loved ones whom we have left behind. Eventually a time comes, no matter how strong the personality, when it too must dissolve and be reabsorbed into the universe, just as out bodies are reabsorbed into the earth.

This may seem terrifying to some, but the personalities we create while manifest in Assiah are often the result of many outside influences and various psychological experiences. We take what is best of these experiences and absorb them into our true Selves before manifesting once again. This is why we remember, from time to time, people we've known before, or events we've undergone during regression therapy. Often it is those which are most emotionally charged which make the greatest impressions on our eternal Individuality. How long this takes depends on the personality in question. Sometimes it can be done in a few months, sometimes they hold on for decades... and sometimes a personality is so strong that it continues as an empty shell long after the Individuality has moved on. This is often the case with violent deaths and is the result of certain types of haunting.

It is one of the reasons that this time of the year can be so frightening! The thin veils can reveal those lost shells and give quite the startle to an individual. It is for this reason that we have created a holiday wherein we all dress up in frightening apparel, place ghostly and creepy images around our homes... if everyone is doing something a little spooky then the real thing won't even be noticed amongst the festive macabre.

It is also a time when the Folk are active for that veil between our world and the world of Fayrie is also thin. It is a time to give gifts of food and alcohol to the Wee Folk. As children go door to door "trick or treating" we may give candies to our fey brethren, not being able to tell the difference between them and the children dressed in outlandish costumes. Believe me when I tell you that the Fey really mean it when they say Trick or Treat!

It is a good time of year, a time of new beginnings as we move into the Time of Planning where we begin to think on our own futures. It is time to remember those we have lost and, though it is sad, to know that they are not forgotten.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Hermetic Path

It seems to me that the many "Ceremonial" magicians of the last century have done a very poor job representing their path. All Hermeticists are compared to the published version of the Golden Dawn and the various public manifestations of Thelema including the OTO. The stereotype is that of a stuffy, Judeo-Christian who works solely with angels and demons using ceremonial magic in order to gain specific results. Essentially, there is percived to be a huge gap between the Worship and the Work.

Yet all ritual is done for a purpose. A Wiccan worship ceremony—often thought of as NON-Ceremonial Magic—is done in order to strengthen one's relationship with the Gods. That is its purpose. Everything has a purpose so to say "their Work is always done for a purpose/outcome, and ours is just worship" is to misunderstand your own purpose in worship.

The Golden Dawn papers published by Israel Regardie and about 90% of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn reconstructionists have no inner teachings. They have the rituals, one or two knowledge lectures, but none of the oral teaching, none of the inner work which really defines this path.

Obviously I'm limited in what I can say in a public forum when it comes to the inner traditions, but I'll try to address the specific misconceptions that I've run into, especially over the last week.

Now, those who know me know that I am a long time initiate of a tradition with roots in the Golden Dawn. The tradition I speak of is connected to the same tree as the Cicero GD, the Servants of the Light, the Society of the Inner Light, the Builders of the Adytum and the Fraternity of the Inner Light. And it is to this tradition that I speak.

First of all, we are seen as Judeo-Christian because much of our work is based on the Qabalah. Yet this is not the "Kosher Qabalah" as Dion Fortune makes clear in her Magnum Opus The Mystical Qabalah but a living tradition which has a greater range than the original. Even the Kosher Kabbalah is seen as heretical by many Jewish traditions because it branches out past the simple "Old man in a throne" image of G-d.

If anything we are more Pantheist or Deist. Our system is based on the idea that the universe is God made manifest. That each human being is a manifestation of that same Divine Life-Force which we also know as the Divine ONE. In general, it has been easier to explain our tradition to the outside world by using the word God, but in Paul Case's work on Tarot he tends to eschew that word for phrases like "The Divine," "The Life Power," "The One-Force" and others. This is to avoid confusion with the image of God which is taught in our Judeo-Christian society. One of my greatest challenges with students is getting them to see a greater Life-Force universe wherein each "God" is a manifestation of something even greater which takes on the form of a God in order to make it easier for finite beings to understand and commune with.

We see all Gods and Goddesses as manifestations of the same Divine Power which is the One Light. Even the name Jehovah (Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh) is only one name for the specific power associated with the Supernal Father. It is a powerful formula that evokes that power in its highest and purest form. It is not so much a name as a formula composed of sacred pictograms with associated sounds and tones. Yet to evoke the Divine Supernal Father we could also call Odin, Zeus, or the Archangel Ratziel. Archetypes exist across cultures who gave the manifestations different names and different personalities just as we, human beings, are manifested with different names and different personalities. The personality is like the body in that it allows the individuality to communicate with the manifest world.

Second we are often defined as "Ceremonialists." It is true that we perform ceremonies, that we engage in Ritual Magic, but it is not the singular manifestation of our work. Ours is a threefold path which includes ritual, meditation and study (Power, Love and Wisdom). Within this system we also use Alchemy, Visualisation, Tarot, Gematria, Divination, Meditation, Colour and Sound, and many others. Ritual Magic is but one tool in our box, a very powerful tool, but one of many. Are we also to be defined as Alchemists? Or Tarologists? Or Meditators? Our path includes all of these, but they do not define us, and none of them are unique to our system. We use the word Hermetic because of the threefold path and our understanding of the universe which is based on the Prima Materia or One Thing discussed in the Emerald Tablet. This is the One Light, the Life-Force, the First Matter, of which all things, spiritual and physical are created. And for this reason, all things are holy no matter how vile they may appear to be to our sensibilities. (i.e. Excrement becomes food for plants which we in turn eat or feed to other animals which we, in turn, eat.)

Thirdly we are defined as not having religion, and in many cases, not having morality. It is true that the Life-Force is a force and can be directed in any way, good or evil, but we do have very specific and often strict morality as to how that should be done. Some of us cannot even do healing work unless directly asked by the person (or their guardian in the case of a child) that we not harm them by accident. Morality is very important to our work, for we see ourselves as actively evolving and working towards the greater good of all mankind. We should live as examples of goodness and worthyness and spirituality, true Priests of the Universe, and emmisaries of the One Light. We may be seen to worship the Sun, the Solar Logos, for it is the source of all life and force on Earth. Nothing lives, nothing acts, nothing happens save for the light of the sun. At the same time it is a symbol of the Life Force and it is a point though which that force manifests in the universe, just as each person is a "small light" manifestation of the Divine.

And we do adore the source of all life in the world. We adore the Lord of the Universe and the Lady as well. In Judaism they are God and Shekinah, in Christianity they are Jesus and Mary, in Wicca they are the God and Goddess, but they are all, ALL, the same force in different guises.

It was told to me many years ago by a true Adepti of our tradition "The inner school never intended there to be a separation between the Worship and the Work." Wicca or Craft and the system called "Ceremonial" were never meant to be separate. They were intended to compliment one another, not be at odds. I know at least 2 heads of contacted orders who are also 3rd degrees in Wiccan traditions. There has been greater movement to join the two together, but there has been resistance by people who see "Ceremonialists" as stuffy, snobbish, self-absorbed assholes and those who see Pagans/Wiccans as undisciplined, uneducated wannabes. Yes, both traditions do have those people in them... I will not deny that. That they should be representing our traditions, that they should be the stereotype, that I argue, for how many of them are initiates of a true tradition, how many of them have been doing the work of their system for more that a few years?

I think that, too often, people get into one of these traditions and it goes to their head. They become "initiate" and suddenly they're complete jerks, or maybe the complete jerk comes out because they don't have to play nice anymore. I've known "Second Order" people who were not the least bit spiritual or advanced and known people who'd never HEARD of initiation who were true beacons of Light. Grade often does not matter, for grade only means that one is doing specific work at a specific time. It does not impart wisdom or spirituality. It is hard to know who truly speaks for a tradition and who does not. "Lord MoonBladder is high Mucky Muck 10-1, 3rd Degree, Grand Hierophant of the Cosmos and he says... BLAH" and he's probably wrong.

Actually, that's a great example. As far as I'm concerned, when someone starts listing their degrees and their magical names anything they have to say afterwards is thrown in the "may be bullshit" container. OK, It's one thing to say "I've worked with this system for 20 years" because it means you've had experience with the system, you've more than a cursory knowledge of the tradition. Some groups can get you to Second Order or 3rd Degree in 6 months. Does that really make you an expert in their tradition? No. Time teaches, and time shapes us. I don't want to know your grades or your names. I want to know how long you've been with the system/tradition, maybe whether or not you've taught, for we learn much when seeing the problem from a different perspective. If I have ANY reason to know your magical name, I should be in a position to look it up! In our tradition it is the name of the aspiration of our soul, it is not to be used lightly.

Anyway, I'm getting away from the point of this post. In general, the people who claim the most authority (the loudest and most obnoxious) tend to have no real experience of a tradition and the tradition is then judged by them and their behaviour. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of "Orders" that have been formed throughout North America and the world have no contact to the Inner School and no real experience in the tradition. Many are formed because someone spends a few years and decides to create something new because of personality conflicts (often because the head of the order cannot see how special and important that person is) and they form a new "order" without really grokking the inner teachings. I'd like to address the misconceptions that those people have created about us, and to help define our tradition within the community as a whole.

If you want to add or discuss points I've brought up, please post. I'll edit this post and use the material in future lecutres on our tradition.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Problem of Translation

The Bible can be a lovely source of inspiration, teaching and Occult wisdom. It can also be the basis for paranoia, slavery and psychosis. The problem is one of language and approach. First of all, English is an Objective Language. When we refer to things they are things. A fence is a fence, perhaps made of stone, or wood or chain link. The word Chet (Fence) also includes the ideas of separation and enclosure. Consider also the word Olam

Atah geboor l-olam Adonai. -- Thou are great forever Lord.
Malek Ha-olam. -- King of the universe.
Olam ha-yichud. -- The world of unification.
"Olam" is here translated as "World", "Universe" and "Forever." Hebrew words tend to represent concepts over physical objects.

It is, therefore, very difficult to simply assign a single translated meaning to Hebrew spiritual concepts. It is for this reason that we see books like the Chumash which combine English, Hebrew and commentary into a simplified form for study. When reading the English one can simply glance over to the Hebrew and find deeper meaning or even seek alternative ways of translating.

The Hebrew Bible is not a static thing either. Centuries of commentary, argument and discussion have been recorded to help one explore the inner meanings of the Scriptures. Midrash, Mishnah and Talmud make up what is sometimes called the "Oral Torah" as opposed to the "Written Torah." In many ways, taking only the written part of the Hebrew Bible (which includes Torah ("Teaching"), Nevi'im ("Prophets") and Ketuvim ("Writings")) is to take the entire text out of context. It is for this reason that commentary is included in the Chumash. For Jewish scholars, they are all part of the same sacred teaching.

The "Spirit" of the Torah is called Qabalah, a word meaning to pass from mouth to ear. It is the sacred, inner teaching and expresses much which cannot simply be given in words. It also forms the basis of the Western Mystery tradition of which I have long been an initiate. Again, the Western Bible tends to be interpreted without this "spirit" or "soul" nor with reference to the Oral traditions.

So we take these two problems, one of language and one of approach or understanding. We see that there can be great meaning within any Biblical passage. Remember that Jesus/Yeheshua was a Rabbinic scholar and would likely have been well versed in the Qabalah and whatever Oral Torah was available at the time. It is reasonable to assume that the originals of the "New Testament" books were possibly written by people educated in a similar way (though likely without the depth of a Rabbi).

Let us take a passage for our example. Noach was instructed to build an Ark. Genesis 6:16 gives the following instruction: "A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it." This is taken from the King James translation. The word which is here translated "Window" is the word "Zohar." This will be immediately recognized by any student of Qabalah as the name of one of the great Qabalistic books. Zohar is generally translated "Splendor" or "Brilliance."

Consider the following interpretive translations:
JPS 1962: "Make an opening for daylight in the ark..."
NIV: Make a roof for it..."
American Standard: "A light shall thou make to the ark..."
New American Standard: You shall make a window for the ark..."
The Message: "Build a roof for it..."
Jewish Publication Society: "A light shalt thou make to the ark..."
Young's Literal: "a window dost thou make for the ark..."
Darby Translation: "A light shalt thou make to the ark..."
Contemporary English: "Build a roof on the boat..."
New Life: "Make a window for the boat..."
New Living: "Construct an opening all the way around the boat..."

Each of these translations has had to interpret what was meant by the word Zohar. Out of 17 different translations the word Zohar is interpreted as a "light" 3 times, a "Window" 7 times, a "roof" 5 times, and an "opening" twice. Yet Hebrew has perfectly good words for all of these things. A window is Heh, a Roof is Gag, an Opening is Peytach. So why use the word Zohar?

If we examine the Oral Torah we can find a great deal of comment on the use of this word.

The Stone Chumash tells us
Some say it was a skylight▀×according to most commentators, it was the window Noah opened after the Flood (8:6)▀×and some say it was a precious stone [that refracted the outside light to illuminate the interior (Chizkuni)] (Rashi).
Midrash Rabbah states:
R. Hunia and R. Phinehas, R. Hanan and R. Hoshaia could not explain [the meaning of ZOHAR]; R. Abba b. Kahana and R. Levi did explain it. R. Abba b. Kahana said: It means a skylight; R. Levi said: A precious stone. [Which provided light from itself.]

R. Phinehas said in R. Levi's name: During the whole twelve months that Noah was in the Ark he did not require the light of the sun by day or the light of the moon by night, but he had a polished gem which he hung up: when it was dim he knew that it was day, and when it shone he knew that it was night. [Cf. Sanh. 108b.]

R. Huna said: Once we were taking refuge from [Roman] troops in the caves of Tiberias. We had lamps with us: when they were dim we knew that it was day, and when they shone brightly we knew that it was night.
The reference above [CF. Sanh. 108b] is a reference to the Talmud tract Sanhedrin. This particular piece is quoted from the Talmud.

The Midrashic collection Legends of the Jews elaborates further:
THE HOLY BOOK
Great wisdom was needed for building the ark, which was to have space for all beings on earth, even the spirits. Only the fishes did not have to be provided for. Noah acquired the necessary wisdom from the book given to Adam by the angel Raziel, in which all celestial and all earthly knowledge is recorded.
...
The book, which was made of sapphires, he took with him into the ark, having first enclosed it in a golden casket. All the time he spent in the ark it served him as a time-piece, to distinguish night from day.


The Zoharayim reports: " R. Johanan said: The Holy One, blessed be He, instructed Noah, 'Set therein precious stones and jewels, so that they may give thee light, bright as the noon.' Gersham Scholem in his book Kabbalah tells us "..but as early as the Sepher ha-Bahir it [the Sepheroth] is related to the Hebrew sappir ("Sapphire"), for it is the radiance of God which is like a sapphire."

Perhaps we can consider the following line of though.
  • Noach placed a "light" in the ark.
  • This light also acted as a time piece.
  • The light was a precious stone.
  • The stone may have been a book made of sapphire.
  • The book of sapphire acted as a time piece.
  • They both are said to have radiated (emanated?) light in order to tell time.
  • This served as a form of guidance for Noach so that he knew when it was day and when it was night.
  • The light coming from the sapphire can be the eminations (sephiroth) of the divine radiance (zohar).
  • The sephiroth make up the Tree of Life, the Qabalah.
  • A book of sephiroth would then be the Qabalah.
  • During the darkest days and surrounded by Chaos the Qabalah (Tradition, Mysticism, Wisdom) guided Noach.
  • If the story is didactic then perhaps we can put this light in our own "ark"; our own selves.
  • This inner light acts as a guide for us through darkness.
  • The Qabalah helps us to discover and reveal that inner light to ourselves and others.
  • We are assured (by the story of the Flood and the Ark) that by relying on this light to guide us we will always make our way safely through the darkness and find a safe place to land when it is over.
  • The light within is a gift from God (as the book was given to Noach) and it shines the brightest when we need it most.
This may, or may not, be "the one true meaning" but the point is not to prove such. The point is to show that it is very difficult, likely impossible, to create a translation of the Bible which can convey the depth and possible breadth of meaning which is inherent in the original. That to try an literally translate the book alone is to rip it from the depth of its tradition, like cutting off the tail of an elephant, painting a picture of it and then explaining to people "this is an elephant."

Between language, tradition and the various levels thereof, we cannot simply rely on a single translation and assume that it is "correct" or that the meaning "cannot be lost in translation." Whether you believe that the Bible is a teaching tool recorded by humanity, the Divinely Inspired Word of God or the Direct Writings of the Divine, it doesn't change that the words you see in the English, Latin and Greek cannot convey the complexity of the Hebrew and Arameic texts. If you feel that there is nothing of value in the Bible, I do urge you to consider it in light of a good course in introductory Qabalah. (Consider Fortune's The Mystical Qabalah as a possible place to start).

And the next time someone bashes you over the head with some interpreted translation which "proves" you're a bad person and are going to hell, start asking them how they came to this conclusion and whether or not they examined the secondary, yet vitally important, texts referring to their precious passage.