Introduction and Chapter One below.
We must try to understand
the meaning of the age
in which we are called to bear witness.
We must accept the fact
this is an age in which
the cloth is being unwoven.
It is therefore no good trying
to patch. We must, rather,
set up the loom on which
coming generations may
weave new cloth according to
the pattern God provides.
Mother Mary Clare, The Sisters of the love of God (Anglican community founded in Oxford 1967).
I wrote this book without direct reference to any other books, simply from my own experiences with healing and what I have learnt over the decades. However, many people’s work has influenced me, inspired me, taught me and guided me in those years. If you are one of them and I have forgotten to credit you, my sincere apologies and I promise I will amend that in the next book!
Heartfelt thanks to: Richard Rohr, Warren Kenton and all the London Kabbalah group, David Goddard, John Wadlow, Adam Simmonds, Thomas Keating, Elizabeth Gilbert, Lion Dickinson, Suzi Crockford, Cathy Rowlandson, Stephen Pope, Megan Wagner, Queti Knight., Karen Leadbeater.
The healing techniques suggested in this book should only be attempted at the reader’s own risk. They carry no medical endorsement and are simply practices that the author herself found to be useful in her healing journey.
When my first husband, Henry, was given a diagnosis of metastatic melanoma, back in 1989, and we were both reeling with the shock, I went to the Bible that we had been given on our wedding day and opened it at random, asking for a sign from God.
My finger fell on a line from psalm 118, “I shall not die; instead I shall live to praise the Lord my God.”Of course I interpreted it that Henry wouldn’t die, but it meant me. I would not die from this time of trauma, rather I would be shaken out of my life-time of being an armchair Christian and start to discover what I truly believed. It didn’t mean that there wouldn’t be a barrow-load of crud to get through first.
Move the story on by a decade and my second husband had I had just broken up. He unadvisedly told me that it was all for my good and that I’d thank him eventually and he was absolutely right but, at that specific time, it felt a tad tactless and I was very sore.
I went up to Birmingham to stay with my Mum and we went to Evensong at the church where Henry’s ashes had been buried. I remember standing by his grave before the service and thinking, “Where did the hope go? This is the second time my world has been destroyed.”
Then I went into the church, opened my hymn book and a sheaf of paper fell out. It was the 118th psalm with a sentence underlined. Which line? “I shall not die, instead I shall live to praise the Lord my God.”
Another decade passed and I was diagnosed with follicular Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a medically-incurable blood cancer. I went on retreat to the Poor Clare’s Monastery in north Devon for much-needed time for myself to meditate and pray and I was able to join with the nuns in daily worship.
At 5.30 each morning I went to Choir for the morning Angelus followed by Lauds. It’s a magical time. “I will awaken the dawn with praise,” sings Psalm 108 and this feels like the most ancient of ceremonies, perhaps even similar to the Egyptian Pharaohs calling the sun to rise again.
On the last morning, for some reason, I left the nuns’ chapel, before the end. I paused at the back of the main church to look at some leaflets and heard them begin to sing again and I realized that I had missed the final part of that morning’s prayer.
It was only about five minutes’ worth, I was hungry for breakfast and there was really no point in returning but even so, I knew I must. I retraced my steps and went quietly back into the chapel. There, I fumbled a bit, trying to find the place in the prayer book and Sister Maximilian came over to help me.
One of the sisters is Swedish and I had noticed that she sometimes sang verses of the liturgy out of order. Just as I got to the right page in the book, it was her turn to sing. She sang one particular line and the rest of the nuns stopped dead because it was the “wrong” line.
They started again at the beginning of that psalm.Which one? Psalm 118.
Which line did the sister sing out of turn?
“I shall not die, instead I shall live to praise the Lord my God.”
I finally realized that it was time to start listening to what God had been trying to yell in my ear all along.
It’s fair to say that there were many days after that which had an anoraked, hatted, gloved and fearsome Maggy stomping her way across Dartmoor in wind and rain yelling “I shall not effing die! I shall effing live to effing praise the Lord my God!” but every time I did that, I would start laughing and that’s the best part about it. Because I had finally healed what this book calls the first relationship. God laughed with me. Not at me or about me but with me and we walked hand-in-hand on the whole journey from there.
This book comes from a combination of what I learnt during those years with cancer and my studies of the Judaeo-Christian mystical tradition of Kabbalah. In chapter sixteen I have included some more of my own healing journey.But first things first – I’m not Jewish and I’m a woman. For many folk both of these are no-nos from the start when it comes to Kabbalah. An orthodox Jew will tell you that Kabbalah may only be studied by a man over the age of 40.
In addition to that, I may be thought to be simplifying a complex ancient tradition which requires you to be able to read and understand Hebrew texts before you even start.
My response is that neither of these views are supported by the true nature of Kabbalah.Kabbalah is the Hebrew word for “receive.” It is an oral tradition which updates for all times. This is the whole point – that it is a system intended to work for all peoples in all ages. The tradition is held true to itself by adherence to its scaffolding, the diagrams known as the Tree of Life and Jacob’s Ladder. These are what prevent this perennial wisdom teaching from becoming mere Chinese Whispers.
For many years Kabbalah was studied in secret (it is the root of the word Cabal which is associated with intrigue and secrecy) But in the 21st century, the cat is well and truly out of the bag for better or for worse, with all kinds of groups and societies—both good and maybe not-so-good—studying and teaching worldwide.
Of course, most of the groups are claiming that all the others are wrong, which is how the human ego works. They are not all wrong; they are just different styles on the same clothes horse. If you like stripes you’ll go for one, if you like spots, you’ll go for another.
There are hundreds of books and groups about studying Kabbalah and, if you are interested, you will find the one that suits you, with the nuances, the Biblical adherence – or not – and the beliefs of its author. But you should also find that the Tree of Life is always present. If it isn’t, then the house is built without scaffolding.
Scaffolding is like a skeleton. It’s pretty similar for all mammals, just that some of us have tails that show and some don’t, some of us walk upright and some don’t. As humans, we can be black, white, brown, orange, gay, straight, transgender—whatever—on that scaffolding and we will all be children of the same God because, ultimately, Kabbalah is about finding our soul and spirit – neither of which gives a rap about our sexuality or our race or colour or creed.
Only the ego does that.
If you’re now thinking ‘but my sexuality defines me!’ or ‘but homosexuality is wrong!’ then you may not want to read this book because its intent is to transcend your gender, your sexuality and your tribal beliefs. Its purpose is to help you come to your soul and find the non-exclusive, totally loving aspect of you which is the seat of all healing. This is known in both Judaism and Christianity as the Kingdom of Heaven and the door that gives access to it is both hidden and unlocked.
What I have discovered, over more than a quarter of a century of study, teaching and writing books on Kabbalah is that, used as a tool for inspiration, it is a magical loom on which we can weave our healing—and from that healing, we become an agent of healing for the World. Kabbalah tells us exactly where, when, how and why we may be out of alignment with health, finances and relationships and, just as importantly, how to re-align ourselves.
So this is a book of information matched with some experience about what I’ve learnt over nearly half a lifetime. It began with chronic lack of self-esteem which, in turn lead to many a humiliation, widowhood, shark attack, failed emigration, debt, divorce, shame, misery, hatred and what the doctors called an incurable illness which now no longer exists. It can be summed up, in a way, by how the first eight aspects led to the final one and how Kabbalah taught me how to heal them, from finish to start. After all, “incurable” surely means “curable from within.”
My prayer is that you will be able to use the teaching in this book to bypass most, if not all, of the above sources of suffering and find your own true healing.
I have included many of the techniques which I have found invaluable in my own continuing healing. These are simply proffered as suggestions; they are not medically proven to work nor guaranteed. You may well find other techniques which work better for you.
On this journey, we won’t be using much Hebrew, we won’t be following the 613 laws of the Hebrew Testament, we won’t be reciting any multi-lettered names of God. All of those are fine and dandy if they are part of your culture and your healing but they have not been a part of mine and, ultimately, the only story you can tell with any validity is your own.
What we will be doing is using this ancient, scaffolding in a way that is totally appropriate for the 21st century, whatever your belief system, culture or status. Properly used, it will work for all of us because that’s what it’s designed to do.
There are two ways you can read this book:
· Refer to the diagrams and immerse yourself in Kabbalah.
· Read it simply for the information within, bypassing the reference to Kabbalah.
The choice is yours!
Part One. The Four Relationships.
Chapter One. The Mystical Tradition.
All of creation is One.
All of life is relationship.
At first sight those two statements appear to contradict each other; if we are all One then we cannot be in relationship, for being in a relationship requires there to be an Other.
And yet, each cell in our bodies is both complete and in relationship with the others. When that relationship falls apart, and is not healed, the whole is in danger of becoming diseased.
The body strives to heal, to unify and re-weave. A cut on the finger of someone dying of cancer will still mend unless it, itself, is poisoned.We have thousands of relationships within our bodies, within our souls, within our minds, within our brains. All of them make up the form that is “us” and they dictate the health of the whole.All pure relationships enhance the whole, whether that is the body, the soul or the Universe. All adulterated relationships create tears in the fabric of creation.
Each human, each animal, each plant, each breath of wind has its place in our universe. Whatever we are and do may have the tiniest of effects, but a drop of love or a drop of poison expands either from our physical finger to our heart or via our words to our children and friends and to their friends and onwards.
Yes, a drop of antiseptic can kill the poison. But who is to apply that antiseptic but you?
What makes us unique on this planet is that we are the only beings that can choose whether we spread love or poison. Mostly, we have chosen to create holes, from holes in the ozone layer to holes in our ability to love or to discern and, because those holes are familiar, they become part of our whole.
Nearly all those choices are made unconsciously or subconsciously but they are still choices even if the choice was not to choose.
We are designed, as animals, to seek the familiar because it feels safe. We are comfortable hanging out with people who share our opinions so that if our view or action is attacked by an other, then we have safety in numbers and our side will fight for and with us. This is the law of fight or flight—us and them. It is natural to all animals as a survival mechanism.
The human soul transcends the need to be part of this tribal system and the tribe doesn’t like that which is why spiritual growth is neither convenient nor comfortable.Ironically, quite often when we humans believe that we are speaking or working from our soul (as in religion), we are actually speaking or working from our ego. To understand that is to understand why we humans got into such a mess about the idea of God. The idea of “my religion” and “your religion” are not and never can be the view of the soul.
You can tell when the two have become mixed for a person will tell you that they are working from the heart or are “soul based.” Neither the heart nor the soul have any need to inform you of that; the ego does. And the ego is lying.
Kabbalah and the Four Relationships.
Kabbalah is not a religion; it is a loom for weaving a unified cloth of many colours showing us what aspects of ourselves are strong and what aspects are unravelling. It helps us to rediscover what religion is meant to be, stripping off the outmoded forms of older times and showing a clear strong scaffolding to create the appropriate tapestry of blessings for our lives today.
The loom originated as the Menorah, a seven-branched candlestick in the Holy of Holies in the first temple of the Hebrews. Nowadays it is known as the Tree of Life and the four relationships that we need to transform for healing relate to the four sefirot on the central column of consciousness of the Tree.
The four relationships are
· With God.
· With Ourselves.
· With Others.
· With the Earth.
The earthly relationship includes all things physical, including our own bodies. Most people perceive the Tree of Life as being upright, with its roots in the earth just like a physical tree. But the inner mystical teaching is that it is inverted—with its taproot being our link to the Divine, its trunk our spirit, its branches our psyches and its leaves, flowers and fruits the manifestation of our physical lives. The root is the first, and all-important source of nourishment while the leaves, flowers and fruits are fragile and transitory.
However, all three other levels can and will be renewed consistently when the root is strong. This is why our first focus in this book will be on healing our relationship with the Divine. From that, all other relationships can and will heal themselves.
If your first thought is “my relationship with God is fine,” and yet you are, in any way, hurt, disappointed, broke, sick or in pain, please think again.
The First Relationship.
A healthy relationship with God is purely personal. More than that, a totally healthy relationship with God is union with the Divine for God and we are extensions of each other. However, this feeling of union is rare. Fortunately a loving one-to-one relationship is still a powerfully healing one.
The element of this Kabbalistic level on the Tree of Life is fire and it is from this that we get the phrase “the healing fires of Grace.” Fire to humanity represents light and warmth although fire can also be terrifying because it destroys the known and the familiar and we judge that as being wrong. But a forest fire opens seeds which if not burnt would not grow.
Divinity is as transformative as fire and that is why we humans have attempted to control it with religion so that we can deny it any but the power that we want it to have—which renders it useless. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, writing of Aslan, the Christ figure in the Narnia books, “It is not a tame lion.”
If we are fortunate enough to live in a family which has a direct, loving, relationship with the Divine, then we will learn how to experience the same but this is the exception rather than the rule. But God is in the space between us and our thoughts and this space only closes as we grow.
A young child communicates easily with higher and invisible worlds until he or she is taught that these are fictional or inappropriate. When I was nine, I had a mystical experience in Church which enveloped me in the colours, sounds, touch and taste of Love—but I knew better than to tell anyone about it because I knew, even by that age, that it would be dismissed and destroyed or even thought heretical and it was too real and too precious to risk having it shattered.
What is deemed appropriate for us to believe in is taught and internalized very young and lodged in what Freud called our super ego. It becomes truth which is why humanity constantly makes God in its own image instead of the other way around.
It follows that if we don’t believe that there is a God at all, then there cannot be one so anyone of faith has to be deluded. An atheist once said to me, “You seem like a fairly intelligent person; why don’t you just use your brain and realize that there’s nothing?” If I’d had quick-wittedness, I’d have answered that God has nothing to do with the brain and everything to do with the soul but it is perhaps as well that I didn’t as he might not have believed in a soul either.
Our view of God is vital because who and what we perceive God to be will tell us clearly who we perceive ourselves and others to be. It will also dictate whether or not we think this is a safe world. When the one-to-one relationship with God is sound, we will experience divinity, love God, love ourselves, love others and love the planet. But most orthodox religion teaches us of a patriarchal King God whom we must both fear and love subserviently.
From that foundation, we learn to despise ourselves, to despise and fear others who hold different beliefs and to dominate and fear the Earth.
The Second Relationship.
Our relationship with ourselves is a mix of personal and impersonal because we have our own beliefs and we also take on the projections of others as being what we believe to be “us.”
“Personal” simply describes when we feel connected but not necessarily protected. “Impersonal” is the other way around; when we will go with the tribe’s view or the safest option even if it feels uncomfortable. Our soul knows who we are as expressions of the Divine but our ego learns who others think we are supposed to be through our interactions with our parents, carers, teachers and peers. We take in those opinions and make them ours through repetition, often at great cost to the soul.
This relationship relates to spirit in Kabbalah, the element of air. We are spiritual beings who have temporarily come to Earth for a limited span of time in a body. Our spirit is part of the great One-ness and feeds our soul, which lives in the levels of water and spirit, fed directly from divinity – if we allow it to be.
The second relationship is complicated by its existence on three levels. There is who we think we are (ego-self), who we really are (true self) and who we were born with the potential to become (higher self). The vast majority of people spend their lives being who they think they are, as learnt from their interactions with others.
When I was a child much of my identity came from protecting my mother who was agoraphobic. I learnt to tell lies to cover up for her fear because she wanted to keep it hidden. This co-dependent behaviour brought only transient happiness to either of us as it couldn’t lead to any true healing and it was disastrous for my self-esteem. It was only after I broke away, physically, moving to another country, that the illusion could crash and both my mother and I were forced to face the truth about ourselves. Both of us experienced extremely difficult times but both of us came through stronger, happier and healthier as a result. We found out who we really were and began to love and even like ourselves.
The Third Relationship.
Once we have healed our relationship with God and with ourselves, there is much less to do in order to heal our relationship with others because we begin to understand that there is no other; there is only an extension of God-in-us. If we have done neither, the third, watery world of the psyche will most likely be haphazard and troubled instead of calm.
The relationship with others is a complete blend of personal and impersonal and is driven both from above and below. If we feel safe in the world, we will work in more harmony with others, seeing them as equals and brother or sister. If we feel confident in ourselves and our Source, we will do the same. If it is a question of survival of the fittest, we will destroy others for our own needs; similarly if others’ perceptions of who we believe ourselves to be forms a threat to our lifestyle, their views will be dismissed, despised or hated.
This relationship will work in accord with those whom we believe share our views both about us and about the world in order to feel more connected and protected. However, we will also project our beliefs about God, them and us onto everyone we meet in order to draw to us those people who will prove those beliefs to be true. This will frequently make us feel disconnected but the ego, which is a meld of the two lower worlds, is wired to be far more interested in being right and being safe than it is about being happy.
In my younger years, I thought I had several relationships with men but later I was able to see that I only had one. I recreated exactly the same relationship with several different boyfriends and partners—and it was an extension of the pattern that my parents and I had created together.
The pattern was: attraction; ignore or discount incompatibilities and compromise in order to feel loved; commit; find I would have to subsume myself and my talents in order to maintain harmony; be unable to deny my own creativity; be found over-powerful, wrong or wanting and be left. I got so accustomed to this pattern that my first husband had to die and my second husband had to leave before I allowed myself to be alerted to it. One of the most potent realizations that I had changed was when my third husband said he prayed that, when we were very old, I would be the first of us to die so that I would never have to be left again. This marriage is still happy and stable after twice as many years as the other two combined so I may be onto a winner.
The Fourth Relationship.
Our relationship with the Earth is either personal or impersonal and powerfully linked with survival. In past times we worked closely with the land and the cycles of life and death and we understood how fragile and precious physical reality was. Before hospitals, hot running water, medicines–both herbal and chemical—antibiotics and many other incredible inventions and adaptations, just one insect bite or cut could and would lead to death.
In this modern world, some of us still have that connection with the planet and feel threatened by the future with regard to climate change, pollution and the like. This can break out into our relationship with others in that we blame and shame those we see responsible for hurting our Mother Earth. To save our environment we have to work together and it is often hard for those passionate about the planet to understand that hostility, anger and pushing against the others who don’t care is energetically as destructive as the waste products being produced. To work together in harmony, there must be peace within. The external problem is only ever a reflection of the internal one.
When I was diagnosed with cancer it was a tremendous wake-up call. It was a form of the disease that I could easily have blamed on to insecticides and external pollutions but I knew in my soul that this was a far deeper issue. The level of shame I felt, as “a spiritual person” was a powerful clue about the levels of pride I carried—and pride is always a block to divinity. So I knew that I had to start again to heal another level of my relationship with God, myself and others. It may well have been that pesticides contributed to the disease but I knew that outer poisons could only have connected with inner ones that I had been carrying for a very long time. When I went within, I could locate that poison hiding in plain sight and trace it backwards and inwards to its source. This is what I believe we all have to do before our planet can heal. Luckily one small step in the right direction can move mountains.
Those of us who are disconnected from the planet will continue to take what we want, often without any consideration, feeling secure that there will always be enough or simply not caring about a future generation. That is how the ego works. But Kabbalah teaches that it only takes one per cent of humanity to move in the right direction for the tide to turn and this is achievable.
It is also important to understand that should it came down to basic apocalyptic survival, it would be a rare person who did not take what they needed at whatever cost.
We can start our healing in any of the four relationships and it will permeate through to the other levels. But there is another pivotal element that runs through all of our relationships, affecting every aspect, and that is money. For most of us, nowadays, survival equates to money and Economics certainly dictate most of how humanity treats the planet and most of our conscious and unconscious behaviour towards her.
However, our attitudes towards money reveal much about our relationship with God, with ourselves and with others as well as with the Earth.· In our relationship with God, money relates to power or control.· In our relationship with ourselves, money relates to worth.
· In our relationship with others, money relates to fairness.
· In our relationship with the Earth, money relates to survival.
Our allotment of time on Earth is limited and precious and our choices of how to use our life force here express our meaning and purpose. It is a rare person who does not trade some of their life force for money or use the concepts of economic security as a paradigm of success. Money today is a god and is both worshipped and reviled as such.
Money is a human-created representation of the flow of abundance, and hatred of it cuts our own links to abundance—and to the Earth herself. If the idea of linking money with the four relationships is repugnant to you, it simply shows how very powerful a hatred of money and all it is perceived to stand for is in the unconscious mind of society and how vital the healing of our relationship with it is to our world.
The critical thing to remember about money is that less than 2% of it is physical notes or coins; all of the rest exists in the world of Yezirah as a form. This is the world of emotions and imagination. Therefore it is critically affected by our thoughts and feelings about it. At the very least, a neutral stance on money is required in order to be prosperous and a view that we don’t want money ourselves can end up being a surprisingly selfish one; after all, how can we prosper others if we are not prosperous ourselves?
For a full breakdown on healing money issues, please see my book, From Credit Crunch to Pure Prosperity (O Books). However, as economics has such importance in the physical survival of ourselves and the planet, I will be including it in this book’s focus on the physical world.
The Four Relationships and Health.
Each of the four relationships permeates the others so both health and dis-ease in one will flow through to another. Everything is connected. Your beliefs about yourself affect your relationship with the Universe, with others and with your prosperity and finances. Perfect health depends on right relationship between all four levels.
· If we worship a specific God, we will despise and wage psychological or physical war on those who don’t.
· If we worship ourselves, we will demand admiration to demonstrate that worth.
· If we worship others, we will sacrifice ourselves for their approval.
· If we worship physical things, we will harm the planet by our need to possess more and more of them.
It is even simpler when we dwell in hatred. That is what the legend of eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is about: it’s not a one-off situation of original sin (which is a fourth century construction by St. Augustine unknown in the Jewish faith) but an exhortation to watch our ego’s opinions in every moment. The moment we take the higher ground over religion, politics or the economy we are judging right and wrong according to our own criteria and we are setting ourselves up as superior over “the other” so that we can, if we want, wallow in righteous anger. It doesn’t matter how accurate we may be in our belief; we have just taken another hearty bite out of that forbidden fruit which destroys any chance of resolution of conflict or healthy relationship.
If we hate, resent or despise a specific God, we cut ourselves off from the Whole and therefore life-force. It follows that if we hate, resent or despise ourselves, others or the physical world (and/or money), we cut ourselves off from the Whole and therefore life-force.It is time to reconnect and heal, for our healing is the world’s healing. Let us set out the criteria of how Kabbalah can help.
Kabbalah and Healing by Maggy Whitehouse is available on Amazon.UK and US and World and from your local independent bookshop.