I just did my first interview as a queer pagan author! This post is a great way to get a quick overview of what my forthcoming book is about.
QueerQabala.gay Offers Inclusive Spirituality
Enfys J. Book (they/them) is the author of Queer Qabala, forthcoming from Llewellyn Books. The book and their site, which you can visit via www.QueerQabala.gay, is dedicated to exploring queerness through the spiritual, magickal practice of Qabala.
While you’re waiting for your copy of Queer Qabala to arrive, you can enjoy Enfys’ writing via their blog. There are reviews of books on queer and mystical subjects, detailed posts exploring topics of Paganism and Qabala, and helpful guides for understanding LGBTQ+ issues. (Topics include self-care, a guide for parents of non-binary adults, gender-inclusive language tips, and stories to help allies better-support and understand their trans and non-binary friends.)
Read the rest of this #DotGayQAndA interview to get a crash course in queer Qabala, plus a special musical bonus at the end!
What does your forthcoming book, Queer Qabala, offer to LGBTQ+ readers that other spiritual guides don’t?
If you want two key takeaways from this book, they are:
- Qabala is a powerful magickal tool fit for modern magickal practitioners of all sexualities and genders; and
- Qabala is already queer, and we can make it even more so.
Through a friendly, simplified, easy-to-connect-with, and extremely queer introduction to the Tree of Life, I want to help queer people see themselves in Qabala, and help Qabala teachers of all sexualities and genders to be more inclusive in their teaching methods.
Qabala, after all, is supposed to represent the entirety of the universe and the full range of human experience, and that includes queer people and queer themes.
Give us a crash course: What exactly is Qabala, and what’s the difference between “magic” and magick?
Qabala is a framework for understanding and experiencing “life, the universe, and everything”—to quote sci-fi author Douglas Adams, wildly out of context. It is a tool for elevating consciousness, for deepening understanding of oneself, and for discovering and embracing the whole of manifested and unmanifested reality. It’s also a pretty badass magickal tool that can be used for all kinds of practical spellwork.
On my website and in my book, I specifically write about Hermetic Qabala, which has its roots in the Jewish study of Kabbalah, which itself was influenced by Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. The Jewish devotional practice of Kabbalah is focused on the ten aspects of the Divine God, and is largely understood to be a closed practice within the Jewish community.
The occult practice of Qabala, however, is an open practice for mystics of all spiritual backgrounds, and is focused on levels of consciousness, magickal systems, and the inner and outer landscapes.
The two practices share some components in common—the Tree of Life glyph, Hebrew names of spheres, and Hebrew letters on the paths, for example—but have completely different approaches to, and uses for, the same spiritual tool.
The spiritual practice of magick is the act of exercising one’s will to change reality in a way that isn’t easily explained by a clear chain of cause-and-effect. (That definition is from the book Outside the Charmed Circle: Exploring Gender & Sexuality in Magical Practice by Misha Magdalene, which I highly recommend.)
Magick is sometimes spelled with a “k” to distinguish it from stage magic (pulling rabbits out of hats, card tricks, etc.). I personally like the “k” spelling, but usually the context will tell you which version a person is referring to, even without the “k.”
What is it about Qabala that makes it inclusive of LGBTQ+ practitioners?
Qabala has so much potential as a powerful and distinctly queer magickal tool. The more I looked at the Tree of Life through the lens of queerness, the more I realized that queerness isn’t just a lens. The Tree is, at its core, fundamentally queer. Representations of nonbinary and fluid gender and sexuality can be found throughout the Tree, and you don’t even need to look hard to find them.
First, we have the three pillars: The Masculine Pillar (AKA Pillar of Force, Pillar of Mercy), the Feminine Pillar (AKA Pillar of Form, Pillar of Severity), and the Pillar of Balance in the middle – effectively, the nonbinary or agender pillar. And on this Pillar of Balance, we have, arguably, the most important spheres of the tree: those spheres representing ultimate unity/potential and ultimate manifestation. In this way, the glyph acknowledges that these powers transcend gender and binary polarity.
Second, each sphere has a Hebrew name, with either a masculine or feminine ending. And interestingly, you have feminine names on the masculine pillar and vice-versa. Each sphere also has a magickal image, which is a picture to meditate upon to get to know that sphere better. These images are often of people presenting as masculine or feminine, and they don’t line up with the gender of the sphere’s name or the pillar it’s on.
For example, the magickal image of the seventh sphere, Netzach, is that of a beautiful naked woman. It’s aligned with the planet Venus, but it’s on the masculine pillar and has a masculine name. And even more interesting, the telesmic image for Hod is that of an intersex person. Intersex representation has been part of Qabala for over 100 years, and yet we still struggle to see intersex representation in pop culture today.
One of my favorite notes about the Hebrew names is that Chokmah and Binah—the spheres that are supposed to represent “ultimate, divine masculine and feminine powers”—are both feminine names in Hebrew. I like to call them the lesbian power couple of the Tree.
Finally, each sphere both projects and receives energy, effectively acting in what certain magickal circles would refer to as “masculine” and “feminine” capacities at the same time. So there’s bisexual and genderfluid representation on the Tree as well.
The ultimate point of my book is that I don’t need to queer the Qabala, because the Qabala simply is queer. I wanted to show the Tree of Life to people without all the unnecessary trappings that generations of patriarchy have hung upon its branches. I was surprised no other authors seem to have tackled the subject in this way, so I decided to write a book myself, and thankfully, Llewellyn decided to publish it.
I’m excited to share these ideas with the world, and hopefully inspire a whole new generation of queer Qabalists, who can adapt and build on my ideas and write even better books on the subject in the future.
🌈 Guess what? I wrote a book on Queer Qabala, and you can buy it now! 🌈
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