Four reasons I’m squeeing about “Qabalah for Wiccans” (review)

Cover of the book "Qabalah for Wiccans" by Jack Chanek

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Qabalah for Wiccans by Jack Chanek (it comes out December 8, 2021), and it straight-up made me shriek with joy and shout “YES!” on multiple occasions while reading it. This book was so good, it made me giddy.

Chanek elegantly weaves Qabalah basics with Wiccan lore, but the bulk of the book is an accessible introduction to the Tree of Life appropriate for anyone who who is new to its study: I’d commend this book to anyone interested in Qabala, even if they aren’t Wiccan. Chanek offers a well-paced, easy-to-understand walk through the Tree, and repeatedly reassures the reader that you don’t need to understand the whole Tree to work with it.

Here are the top four reasons I think this book is brilliant:

  1. Rather than introducing each of the Sephiroth in order, starting from the top or the bottom of the Tree, Chanek introduces one triangle at a time: first discussing the pairs of spheres that sit across from each other and how they relate to each other, and then talking about the sphere on the Middle Pillar that unites and transmutes their energy. This strategy allows the reader to better understand each sphere in context. He also describes the polarity between the spheres on the pillars of force and form as two poles that strengthen and reinforce each other, yet also contain seeds of each other, which I love.
  2. As part of the Wiccan focus of the book, Chanek describes how deity worship and workings can be enhanced by work with the Tree of Life. I particularly appreciated his assertion that all the gods can be found in all the Sephiroth, though various aspects of individual deity may have more of an affinity for specific spheres. Chanek offers practical and simple ways to enhance one’s existing magickal practice with Qabala, e.g. chanting an affirmation the number of times that corresponds to the number of the appropriate Sephiroth.
  3. Chanek has a more expansive view of gender than you’ll find in most Qabala and Wicca books. His more-nuanced explanations of the masculine/feminine energy binary prevalent in Wiccan practice leave room for genders and sexualities outside cisheteronormative culture, and acknowledge that masculine and feminine are not opposites. He gives nods to the existence of intersex people and the overall complexity of biological sex, and challenges the reader to look deeper than oversimplifications of patriarchal gender dynamics when considering polarity in magick.
  4. Chanek’s description of the Four Worlds and his description of the paths on the Tree are the clearest and easiest-to-understand I’ve ever seen, and for that alone he deserves a huge award. (Are there Qabala awards? There probably should be.)

Do yourself a kindness and get this book for your collection, or request it at your local library. It’s a great read, full of lots of “aha” moments and wonderful, thought-provoking insights. I’m glad I pre-ordered a physical copy, because this is one of those books I’m going to repeatedly pull off the shelf and refer to as I continue my Qabala studies and writing.

🌈 Guess what? I wrote a book on Queer Qabala, and you can buy it now! 🌈

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