HPB wrote rather extensively on the Kabbalah, for example,Isis
Unveiled, chapter 5,The
Secret Doctrine, B I, P2, C5 (The Hidden Deity), and
Secret Doctrine, Vol. 3,The
Eastern Gupta Vidya and the Kabalah. Here's a somewhat
cryptic passage from theSepher
kabalistic Book of Creation, the author has evidently
repeated the words of Manu. In it, the Divine Substance is
represented as having alone existed from the eternity,
boundless and absolute; and emitted from itself the Spirit.
"One is the Spirit of the living God, blessed be His Name,
who liveth for ever! Voice, Spirit, and Word, this is the
Holy Spirit"; **and
this is the kabalistic abstract Trinity, so unceremoniously
anthropomorphized by the Fathers. From this triple ONE
emanated the whole Cosmos. First from ONE emanated number
TWO, or Air, the creative element; and then number THREE,Water,proceeded
from the air;EtherorFirecomplete
the mystic four, the Arba-il. ***"When
the Concealed of the Concealed wanted to reveal Himself, he
first made a point (primordial point, or the first Sephira,
air or Holy Ghost), shaped it into a sacred form (the ten
Sephiroth, or the Heavenly man), and covered it with a rich
and splendid garment,that
is the world." ****"He
maketh the wind His messengers, flaming Fire his servants,"
the cosmical character of the later euhemerized angels, *and
that the Spirit permeates every minutest atom of the Cosmos.
* See Vol. I., chap. i., pp. 33, 34, of this work.
** "Sepher Jezireh," chap. i., Mishna ixth.
**** "Sohar," i., 2 a.
the reference is re-used in the SD, p. 337 (Primordial
Substance and Divine Thought) (and p. 447).
Jezireh, the Kabalistic Book of Creation, the author
has evidently repeated the words of Manu. In it, the Divine
Substance is represented as having alone existed from the
eternity, boundless and absolute; and as having emitted from
itself the Spirit.* “One is the Spirit of the living God,
which liveth for ever! Voice, Spirit, and Word, this is the
Holy Spirit;”† and this is the Kabalistic abstract Trinity,
so unceremoniously anthropomorphised by the Christian
Fathers. From this tripleOneemanated
the whole Kosmos. First fromOneemanated
or Air (the Father), the creative element; and then numberThree,Water(the
Mother), proceeded from the air;EtherorFirecompletes
the mystic four, the Arba-il.‡ “When the Concealed of the
Concealed wanted to reveal Himself, he first made a point
(primordial point, or the first Sephiroth, air, or Holy
Ghost), shaped into a sacred form (the ten Sephiroth, or the
Heavenly man), and covered it with a rich and splendid
is the world.”§
Absolute, Divine Spirit is one with absolute Divine
Substance: Parabrahm and Mulaprakriti are one in essence.
Therefore, Cosmic Ideation and Cosmic Substance in their
primal character are one also.
† “Sepher Jezireh,” chap. 1, Mishna ix.
‡ Ibid. It is fromArbathat
Abram is made to come.
§ “Sohar,” I., 2a.
It actually gets a more detailed explanation in the SD
3, p.181 (and a more accurate translation).
As is constantly shown in the Zohar, the Infinite Unity, or
Ain-Suph, is ever placed outside human thought and
appreciation; and in Sepher Jetzirah we see the Spirit of
God - the Logos, not the Deity itself - One is the Spirit
of the Living God . . Who liveth forever. Voice, Spirit, [of
the spirit], and Word: this is the Holy Spirit, [ Mishna,
i. 9.] Three-in-one and Four - (Page 181) - and the
Quaternary. From this Cube emanates the whole Kosmos.
Interestingly, there's a fifth reference to that passage in
SD 3- The “Zohar” on Creation and the Elohim - this time
it's quoted by the British Kabbalist MacGregor Mathers from
a private correspondence that HPB reproduces:
In the Sepher Yetzirah,or Book of Formation,we read:
“One is She the Ruach Elohim Chum - (Spirit of the Living
Elohim). . . . Voice, Spirit, and
Word; and this is She, the Spirit of the Holy One.” Here
again we see the intimate connection
which exists between the Holy Spirit and the Elohim.
Furthermore, farther on in this same
Book of Formation- which is be it remembered, one of the
oldest of the Kabalistical Books,
and whose authorship is ascribed to Abraham the Patriarch -
we shall find the idea of a
Feminine Trinity in the first place, from whom a masculine
Trinity proceeds; or as it is said in
the text: “Three Mothers whence proceed three Fathers.” And
yet this double Triad forms, as it
were, but one complete Trinity. Again it is worthy of note
that the Second and Third Sephiroth
(Wisdom and Understanding) are both distinguished by
feminine names, Chokmah and Binah,
notwithstanding that to the former more particularly the
masculine idea, and to the latter the
feminine, are attributed, under the titles of Abba and Aima
(or Father and Mother).
For the Kabalistic tetrad, it is not clear to me what is the
trinity in theSeferYetzirah1,
9. I think de Zirkof adds an appropriate reference to 1, 12
which would refer to the tetrad of one, air, water, fire.
Interestingly, in Aryeh Kaplan's commentary of theSefer
Yetzirah(1997, 71) 1, 9 he refers to a kabalistic
tetrad of Keter, Chakmah, Binah and Ruach Hakodesh.
"This 'Holy Spirit' can be seen as the intermediate between
Voice and Speech. It is thus also intermediate between
Chakmah and Binah consciousness.Ruach
the divine inspiration and information that one can bring
back from a state of Chakmah consciousness to one's normal
state of Binah consciousness.
like Keter, which stands between Chakman and Binah, but
which is above them. Both Chakhmah and Binah are functions
of the mind itself, whileRuach
the 'breath of God' mentioned in the verse, 'I will fill him
with the Breath of God, with Wisdom, Understanding, and
In another major Blavatskyan piece on the Kabbalah,
November, 1887), she again referencesSefer
via Mathers (20-21) - then a member of the TS - of whom she
writes: 'there are few more learned Kabbalists in England,
though I do not certainly agree with all his views. But on
this question we are in almost full agreement." The article
makes extensive use of his just publishedThe
Kabbalah Unveiled, (something of an esoteric classic,
still in print today, via Penguin Books, of all places). I
think it's still a pretty good intro to the Kabbalah:
"The circle emanates a light which becomestoour
vision four-cornered; this unfolds and becomes seven." Herethe"circle"
is the firstsephira"thekether"
or crown, theRisha
Havurah, or "white head," and the "upper skull." [It is
not limitless, but temporary in this phenomenal world.] It
emanates the two lower Sephiroth (Chokhmah and Binah, which
thus form the triangle, the first or uppertriadof
the Sephirothal Tree. This is theoneor
Pythagoras. But, it has emanated from theSeven
Elohim, male and female, who are called the "Upper
themselves the reflections of theFemaleHoly
Spirit, of which it is said inSepher
the Elohim of life." How far yet from AIN-SOPHtheALL,
the Jewish Kabbala, for they are in fact only secret numbers
and glyphs. Microprosopus comesthe
She also makes some interesting personal asides: " I have
studied the Kabbala under two learned Rabbis, one of whom
was an initiate, and there was no difference between the two
teachings (the esoteric Eastern and the Western) in this
The concepts discussed are related to SD s2.4 - and She
discusses it further in theTransactions,
A. In occult and Pythagorean geometry the Tetrad is said to
combine within itself all the materials from which Kosmos is
produced. The Point or One, extends to a Line — the Two; a
Line to a Superficies, Three; and the Superficies, Triad or
Triangle, is converted into a Solid, the Tetrad or Four, by
the point being placed over it. Kabalistically Kether, or
Sephira, the Point, emanates Chochmah and Binah, which two,
are the synonym ofMahat,in
the Hindu Puranas, and this Triad, descending into matter,
produces the Tetragrammaton,Tetraktys,as
also the lower Tetrad. This number contains both the
productive and produced numbers. The Duad doubled makes a
Tetrad and the Tetrad doubled forms a Hebdomad. From another
point of view it is the Spirit, Will, and Intellect
animating the four lower principles.
Below is Aryeh Kaplan's translation of the Gra version:
1:9 Ten Sefirot of Nothingness: One
is the Breath of the Living God, blessed and
benedicted be the Name of the Life of worlds.
The Voice of Breath and Speech. And this is the
Holy Breath (Ruach HaKodesh).
1:10 Two: Breath from Breath. With
it engrave and carved twenty-two foundation
letters - three, Mothers, seven Doubles, and
twelve Elementals - and one Breath is from them.
1:11 Three: Water and Breath. With
it he engraved and carved (22 letters
from) chaos and void, mire and clay. He engraved
them like a garden plot. He carved them like a
wall. He covered them like a ceiling. (And he
poured snow over them and it became dust as it
is written ''For to snow He said, 'Become Earth'
1:12 Four: Fire from water. With it He
engraved and carved the Throne of Glory,
Seraphim, Ophanim, holy Chayot, and Ministering
Angels. From the three He established His
dwelling, as it is written, "He makes His angels
of breaths, His ministers from flaming fire"
There's another reference toSefer
- this time with a Hebrew transliteration - it's interesting
how, even though she recycles that short quote several
times, in some cases verbatim, in other cases the
explanation and context is different and sometimes, it is a
different translation from previous citations:
The monotheists have taken (and are still taking) advantage
of the profound esotericism of the Kabala to apply the name
by which the One Supreme Essence is known toitsmanifestation,
the Sephiroth-Elohim, and call it Jehovah. But this is quite
arbitrary and against all reason and logic, as the term
Elohim is a plural noun, identical with the plural wordChiim,
often compounded with the Elohim.*
* The sentence in the Sepher Jezirah and elsewhere:
“Achath-Ruach-Elohim-Chiim” denotes the Elohim as
androgynous at best, the feminine element almost
predominating, as it would read: “Oneis
She the Spirit of the Elohim of Life.” As said above, Echath
(or Achath) is feminine, and Echod (or Achod) masculine,
Here's Aryeh Kaplan's translation again, with the Hebrew
1:9 Ten Sefirot of Nothingness: One is the
Breath (Ruach) of the Living God (Elohim Chayim),
Blessed (Barukh) and benedicted (MeBhorakh) is the name of
the Life of Worlds
All the quotations presented so far have, I think been
fairly brief and somewhat cryptic. However, she does gives a
fuller explanation with a more extensive citation from the
passage in question, i.e. Sefer Yetzirah I, 9-12, not
just 9-10 as the text has it. And she also gives her own
interpretative, theosophical paraphrase. So I think it's
safe to say that this passage (9-12) plays an important part
in the SD commentary.
SD I, 1, 92 - st. 4.3
The “Sacred Animals” are found in the Bible as well as in
the Kabala, and they have their meaning (a very
profound one, too) on the page of the origins of Life.
In the Sepher Jezirah it is stated that “God engraved in the
Holy Four the throne of his glory, the Ophanim (Wheels
or the World-Spheres), the Seraphim,* the Sacred
Animals, and the ministering angels, and from these three
(the Air, Water, and Fire or Ether) he formed his
habitation.” Thus was the world made “through three Seraphim
— Sepher, Saphar, and Sipur,” or “through Number, Numbers,
and Numbered.” With the astronomical key these “Sacred
Animals” become the signs of the Zodiac.
* This is the literal translation from the IXth and Xth
Sections: “Ten numbers without what? One: the spirit
of the living God . . . . who liveth in eternities!
Voice and Spirit and Word, and this is the Holy Spirit. Two:
Spirit out of Spirit. He designed and hewed therewith
twenty-two letters of foundation, three Mothers and
seven double and Twelve single, and one spirit out of them.
Three: Water out of spirit; he designed and hewed with
them the barren and the void, mud and earth. He
designed them as a flowerbed, hewed them as a wall, covered
them as a paving. Four: Fire out of water. He designed
and hewed therewith the throne of glory and the
wheels, and the seraphim and the holy animals and the
ministering angels, and of the three He founded his
dwelling, as it is said, He makes his angels spirits
and his servants fiery flames!” Which words “founded his
dwelling” show clearly that in the Kabala, as in
India, the Deity was considered as the Universe, and was
not, in his origin, the extra-cosmic God he is now.
Also, Westcott actually released a translation of the Sefer
Yetzirah in 1887 - and the translation seems similar, but
not exactly the same as in the SD.