Monday, January 11, 2010

The Golem

I would like to add to the discussion about Thought Forms by mentioning the Golem. For many people the use of the name Golem may bring to light the vile but timid creature from Lord of the Rings. Although the Golem cannot be classed exactly as a Thought Form, being an Artificial Anthropoid, it does have some aspects which tie it in to the discussion itself, and although I have not experienced this phenomenon first hand at this point, it is certainly worth a mention.

The Golem is of Jewish origin, the word itself meaning “rock”. To give a simple definition of the Golem, we would have to say that it is a clay figurine created by the magician and filled with animate life to do his (or her in our modern sense) bidding. Therefore, what we are dealing with is a figurine that can walk around, take instructions, and execute those instructions. What makes the Golem no human or classed as any form or type of animal is that it does not contain a soul. It is suggested that because of this, it has no thinking capacity or speech, although there are some old Jewish tales that speak of the Golem having the capacity to communicate.

A little far fetched for you? Maybe, but there are a lot of stories in old Hebrew texts giving accounts of Rabbin creating Golems. The most famous Golem of all time, that created by Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, was the Golem of Prague and is still spoken about widely, being included in plays, books and even film.

In 1580, a notorious priest named Taddeus in Prague was creating a new danger by suggesting that the Jews were performing a new “ritual murder” or blood-libel. Rabbi Loeb decided to try and avert the danger and so directed his prayers to the heavens through a dream question, asking how he can save his people. The answer he got was “Ata Bra Golem Devuk Hakhomer VeTigzar Zedim Chevel Torfe Yisroel” which basically means “Make a Golem of clay and you will destroy the entire Jew-baiting company”. This however needed to be deciphered, and through the use of a specific Kabbalistic formula called Zirufim, he learned how to create this Golem.

Needing four elements he called his son-in-law Kohen and pupil Levite to help him. He then had the four elements in the form of the three of them being Fire, Water and Air and the Golem being Earth. The other aspect to be use was the Shem Hameforash, the true name of God only known to the holiest of holiest men, and if not used correctly could turn on the man uttering it, so he instructed them to first go through an intense cleansing and purification. After a day of purification they read from the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation) and then went down to the River Moldau and sculpted the Golem from the clay. When they were finished they lay it on the ground facing the heavens and knelt at its feet.

Kohen (the aspect of Fire) then walked around the body seven times from right to left reciting specific Zerufim and the clay turned a fiery red. Levite (Water) then did the same from left to right recited more Zerufim and the redness of the clay disappeared as water flowed through it and the Golem grew nails and hair. Finally Rabbi Loeb walked once around the Golem and placed a parchment in its mouth on which was written the Shem Hameforash. They all recited: “And He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (in Hebrew obviously), and the Golem opened his eyes. They dressed him and took him to the synagogue so he could start his mission of protecting the people.

Now when you have a look around for instructions on how to make a Golem, they come across as pretty easy. The usual scenario reads something like this:

1. Obtain a large quantity of clay.
2. Knead the clay into a figure resembling a man. Leave the figure imperfect, because only God can make things perfectly.
3. Impart the name of God onto the golem in one of several ways: Walk or dance around it saying letters from the Jewish alphabet that form the secret name of God, engrave the Hebrew letters for the word "truth" on its forehead or attach a parchment with God's name onto the golem's arm or mouth. [I would think you need to use all the methods actually].
4. Instruct the golem to perform a desired task. Give orders carefully, because golems will interpret orders given to them literally.
5. Disable the golem by reversing the procedure used to create it: Walk or dance around it backwards speaking God's name backward, remove the first letter from the word for truth to make the word for "death" or remove the parchment from its mouth or arm.

This makes it all seem pretty easy, but considering the extent to which Rabbi Loeb went, I think it safe to say that there is a little more involved. The word “truth” in Hebrew is Emet consisting of Aleph, Mem and Tev. When you want to decommission the Golem you simply remove the letter Aleph making the word Met or “death”.

So if anyone is feeling adventurous and has a lot of time on their hands, maybe you can make a Golem and let me know how it goes.

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