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The Qliphoth/Qlippoth/Qlifot or Kelipot (Hebrew: קְלִיפּוֹת, the different English spellings are used in the alternative Kabbalistic traditions of Hermetic Qabalah and Jewish Kabbalah respectively), literally "Peels", "Shells" or "Husks" (from singular: קְלִפָּה qlippah "Husk"), are the representation of evil or impure spiritual forces in Jewish mysticism, the polar opposites of the holy Sefirot. The realm of evil is also termed Sitra Achra/Aḥra (Aramaic סטרא אחרא, the "Other Side" opposite holiness) in Kabbalah texts.
In Jewish Kabbalah
|The Sefirot in Kabbalah|
In Jewish Kabbalistic cosmology of Isaac Luria, the qlippot are metaphorical "shells" surrounding holiness. They are spiritual obstacles receiving their existence from God only in an external, rather than internal manner. Divinity in Judaism connotes revelation of God's true unity, while the shells conceal holiness, as a peel conceals the fruit within. They are therefore synonymous with idolatry, the root of impurity through ascribing false dualism in the Divine, and with the Sitra Achra (סטרא אחרא "Other Side"), the perceived realm opposite to holiness. They emerge in the descending seder hishtalshelus (Chain of Being) through Tzimtzum (contraction of the Divine Ohr), as part of the purpose of Creation. In this they also have beneficial properties, as peel protects the fruit, restraining the Divine flow from being dissipated. Kabbalah distinguishes between two realms in qlippot, the completely impure and the intermediate.
Their four "concentric" terms are derived from Ezekiel's vision (1:4), "And I looked and behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it..." The "Three Impure Qlippot" (completely Tamei "impure") are read in the first three terms, the intermediate "Shining Qlippah" (Nogah "brightness") is read in the fourth term, mediating as the first covering directly surrounding holiness, and capable of sublimation. In medieval Kabbalah, the Shekhinah is separated in Creation from the Sefirot by man's sin, while in Lurianic Kabbalah Divinity is exiled in the qlippot from prior initial Catastrophe in Creation. This causes "Sparks of Holiness" to be exiled in the qlippot, Jewish Observance with physical objects redeeming mundane Nogah, while the Three Impure Qlippot are elevated indirectly through Negative prohibitions. Repentance out of love retrospectively turns sin into virtue, darkness into light. When all the sparks are freed from the qlippot, depriving them of their vitality, the Messianic era begins. In Hasidic philosophy, the kabbalistic scheme of qlippot is internalised in psychological experience as self-focus, opposite to holy devekut self-nullification, underlying its Panentheistic Monistic view of qlippot as the illusionary self-awareness of Creation.
Hermetic Qabalah magical views
In some non-Jewish Hermetic Qabalah, contact is sought with the Qliphoth unlike in the ethical-mystical Jewish prohibition, as part of its process of human self-knowledge. In contrast, the theurgic Jewish Practical Kabbalah was understood by its practitioners as similar to white magic, accessing only holiness, while the danger in such venture of mixing impure Magic ensured it remained a minor and restricted practice in Jewish history.
Christian Knorr von Rosenroth's Latin Kabbala denudata (1684) (translated The Kabbalah Unveiled by MacGregor Mathers) equates these forces with the Kings of Edom and also offers the suggestion they are the result of an imbalance towards Gedulah, the Pillar of Mercy or the merciful aspect of God, and have since been destroyed.
In most descriptions, there are seven divisions of Hell (Sheol or Tehom; Abaddon or Tzoah Rotachat; Be'er Shachat (בְּאֵר שַׁחַת, Be'er Shachath — "pit of corruption") or Mashchit; Bor Shaon (בּוֹר שָׁאוֹן — "cistern of sound") or Tit ha-Yaven (טִיט הַיָוֵן — "clinging mud"); Dumah or Sha'are Mavet (שַׁעֲרֵי מָוֶת, Sha'arei Maveth — "gates of death"); Neshiyyah (נְשִׁיָּה — "oblivion", "Limbo") or Tzalmavet; and Eretz Tachtit (אֶרֶץ תַּחְתִּית, Erets Tachtith — "lowest earth") or Gehenna), twelve Qliphotic orders of demons, three powers before Satan and twenty-two demons which correspond to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
Crowley, Regardie, and Heidrick
According to Israel Regardie, the "qlipothic tree" consists of 10 spheres in opposition to the sephirot on the Tree of Life. These are also referred to as the "evil twins". They are also the "Evil Demons of Matter and the Shells of the Dead".
Bill Heidrick gives his own interpretation on the adverse tree, saying that the spellings are "mostly reconstructions with alternatives. Nonetheless, it is believed that the majority of the above are at least suitable if not perfect". He also goes on to say that "These names are sometimes called the 'adverse Sephiroth' instead of the Demonic Orders. A. E. Waite makes this later point in his Holy Kabbalah, page 256."
The following comes from the Notes on the Demonic Orders (Adverse Sephiroth) in Magical Correspondences by Bill Heidrick.
Thamiel: Duality in God
"Thamiel represents duality whereas Kether represents unity. Thus Thamiel is the division of that which is perfect only in unity. As a demonic order name, the Thamiel were before their 'revolt'. This signifies 'Perfection of God'. These angels sought to become more powerful by adding an Aleph to their name. They then became the 'Duality of God,' an order of the lesser demons. In the lowest state of their 'fall', they become 'the Polluted of God.' The cortex or outer form of the Thamiel is called Cathariel, 'the Broken' or 'Fearful Light of God'."
Chaigidel: Confusion of the Power of God
"These are the confusion of that great power which, as Chokmah, goes forth at the beginning to give the vital energy of creation to the processes of Binah. The cortex of the Chaigidel is called Ghogiel, 'Those Who Go Forth into the Place Empty of God'."
Beelzebub: Lord of the Flies and Adam Belial: Wicker Man
To Chaigidel, "both Satan and Beelzebub are attributed as well as Adam Belial. The name Belial is often used separately as a demonic name."
Sathariel: Concealment of God
"Even as Binah is the great revealing one who bestows the structure of the Absolute onto the created, its opposite, the Sathariel, conceals the nature of The Perfect. The cortex or outer form of the Sathariel is called the order of Sheireil, 'The Hairy Ones of God'."
Lucifuge: One Who Flees Light
To Sathariel, Lucifuge "is attributed and means, 'to flee from light'". Early texts use the entity's "proper" name, 'Lucifuge Rofocale'.
"Chesed is the source of bounty both in idea and in substance to the lower forms. Gamchicoth is the order of 'Devourers' who seek to waste the substance and thought of creation. The outer form is the order of Azariel, 'The Binding Ones of God'."
Astaroth: from the Flood
Golachab: Burning Bodies
"Geburah is a going forth in power to rule in righteousness, in an upright manner. The order of Golab is composed of those who burn to do destruction, enforce their will upon others through strength and not righteousness, in a non-upright manner --- even on themselves. The outer form is Usiel, 'The Ruins of God'." (See wisdom of Solomon Ch 1, Verse 1, original Greek Septuagint states: "Love Righteousness, yee that be judges of the earth", which is correct, the vulgate states: "Love Justice, you that are the judges of the earth", which is incorrect).
Asmodeus: The Destroying God or Samael the Black.
To Golachab, Asmodeus is attributed. "This name is half Hebrew and half Latin. Asmodeus is often mentioned in the literature of demonology. The name can also be translated as 'The one adorned with fire'." Whom they call also Samael the Black.
Thagirion(n): Those Who Bellow Grief and Tears
"Tiphereth is the place of great beauty and rejoicing. The Thagirion build ugliness and groan about it. The cortex of the Thagirion is called Zomiel, 'The Revolt of God'."
Belphegor: Lord of the Dead
To Thagirion, "the replacement of Tiphereth, the sphere of the vitalising Sun, with a place holding Belphegor, the lord of dead, is most striking".
Harab Serapel: Ravens of the Burning of God
"Netzach is the openness of natural love. The Harab Serapel are the Ravens of Death who reject even their own. The outer form is Theumiel, 'The Fouled Substance of God'".
Baal: Lord and Tubal Cain: Maker of Sharp Weapons
To Harab Serapel, "Baal is attributed, and is "a word which means Lord, much as Adonai means Lord. The word Baal or 'Bel' has become restricted in its usage to signify a 'Lord of Darkness'." Also attributed is Tubal Cain.
Samael: The Desolation of God, or The Left Hand
"Hod is the complex working of the will of the Absolute. Samael represents the barren desolation of a fallen and failed creation. The outer form is Theuniel, 'The filthy Wailing Ones of God'."
Adrammelech: Powerful King
To Samael, Adrammelech is attributed. "This name is found in Fourth Kings: XVII, 29-31: ' And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim."
Gamaliel: Polluted of God
"Yesod is the place of the final forms that become matter in Malkuth. The Gamaliel are the Misshapen and polluted images that produce vile results. The outer form is the order of Ogiel, 'those Who Flee from God'."
Lilith: Night Specter
To Gamaliel, Lilith is attributed and "is the grand lady of all demons. The demons are sometimes considered to be the children of Lilith and is said to be the woman who comes to men in their dreams."
Nehemoth: Whisperers (or Night Specter)
"These are responsible for frightening sounds in strange places. They excite the mind and cause strange desires." This corresponds with Malkuth as well.
Naamah "is traditionally a demon and the sister of Lilith, possibly a remembrance of the Egyptian Nephthys and Isis. It is conceivable that Nehema is the same as Naamah, the sister of Tubal Cain."
In popular culture
- The Qliphoth (spelled "Qlippoth") has a heavy role in the "Book of the Fallen" supplement for Mage: The Ascension, 20th anniversary edition. The Nephandi (Evil Mages) go through a spiritual journey very heavily influenced by the ideas present in the Qliphoth.
- A demonic tree named after the Qliphoth appears in the 2019 video game Devil May Cry 5.
- The astral world's region of darkness is called Qliphoth in Berserk (manga).
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward Elric's door of truth is characterized by the Qliphoth.
- In Persona 5, the final area of the game is named the "Qliphoth World".
- In Black Clover, Dante, the leader of the antagonist group the Dark Triad, mentions a magic channel between the underworld and the regular world known as "The Tree of Qliphoth".
- KABBALAH? CABALA? QABALAH? Archived March 30, 2013, at the Wayback Machine from kabbalaonline.org
- The Kabbalah or, The Religious Philosophy of the Hebrews Adolphe Franck translated by I. Sossnitz (1926): Relation of The Kabbalah to Christianity page 279
- The Book of Concealed Mystery translated by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers
- Ezekiel 1:4 (King James Version)
- "The Kabbalah Unveiled: Greater Holy Assembly: Chapter XXVI: Concerning the Edomite Kings". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- (edit.) Boustan, Ra'anan S. Reed, Annette Yoshiko. Heavenly Realms and Earthly Realities in Late Antique Religions. Cambridge University Press, 2004.
- Mew, James. Traditional Aspects of Hell: (Ancient and Modern). S. Sonnenschein & Company Lim., 1903.
- Lowy, Rev. A. Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, Volume 10, "Old Jewish Legends of Biblical Topics: Legendary Description of Hell". 1888. pg. 339
- Pusey, Rev. Edward Bouverie. What is of Faith as to Everlasting Punishment: In Reply to Dr. Farrar's Challenge in His ʻEternal Hope,' 1879. James Parker & Co., 1881; pg. 102
- Liber 777 by Aleister Crowley
- The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie
- Magical Correspondences by Bill Heidrick