'I finished the whiskey, shut my eyes, opened them again. Facing me was the seventeenth century engraving, a typical Rosicrucian allegory of the period, rich in coded messages addressed to the members of the Fraternity. Obviously it depicted the Temple of the Rosy Cross, a tower surmounted by a dome in accordance with the Renaissance Iconographic model, both Christian and Jewish, of the Temple of Jerusalem, reconstructed on the pattern of the Mosque of Omar.
The landscape around the tower was incongruous, and inhabited incongruously, like one of those rebuses where you see a palace, a frog in the foreground, a mule with its pack, and a king receiving a gift from a page. In the lower left was a gentleman emerging from a well, clinging to a pulley that was attached, through ridiculous winches, to some point inside the tower, the rope passing through a circular window. In the center were a horseman and a wayfarer. On the right, a kneeling pilgrim held a heavy anchor as though it were his staff. Along the right margin, almost opposite the tower, was a precipice from which a character with a sword was failing, and on the other side, foreshortened, stood Mount Ararat, the Ark aground on its summit. In each of the upper corners was a cloud illuminated by a star that cast oblique rays along which two figures floated, a nude man in the coils of a serpent, and a swan. At the top center, a nimbus was surmounted by the word 'Oriens' and bore Hebrew letters from which the hand of God emerged to hold the tower by a string.
The tower moved on wheels. Its main part was square, with windows, a door, and a drawbridge on the right. Higher up, there was a kind of gallery with four observation
turrets, each turret occupied by an armed man who waved a palm branch and carried a shield decorated with Hebrew letters. Only three of these men were visible; the fourth had to be imagined, since he was behind the octagonal dome, from which rose a lantern, also octagonal, with a pair of great wings affixed. Above the winged lantern was another, smaller, cupola, with a quadrangular turret whose open arches, supported by slender columns, revealed a bell inside. To the final small four-vaulted dome at the top was tied the thread held by the hand of God. The word 'Fama' appeared here, and above that, a scroll that read 'Collegium Fraternitatis.'
There were other oddities. An enormous arm, out of all proportion to the figures, jutted from a round window in the tower on the left. It held a sword, and belonged perhaps to the winged creature shut up in the tower. From a similar window on the right jutted a great trumpet. Once again, the trumpet.
The number of openings in the tower drew my attention. There were too many of them, and the ones in the dome were too regular, whereas the ones in the base seemed random. Since only half the tower was shown In this orthogonal perspective, you could assume that symmetry was preserved and the doors, windows, and portholes on this side were repeated in the same order on the other side. That would mean, altogether, four arches in the dome of the bell tower, eight windows in the lower dome, four turrets, six openings in the east and west facades, and fourteen in the north and south facades. I added it up.
Thirty six. For more than ten years that number had haunted me. The Rosicrucians. One hundred and twenty divided by thirty six came to 3.333333, going to seven digits. Almost too perfect, but it was worth a try. I tried. And failed.
It occurred to me then that the same number, multiplied by two, yielded the number of the Beast: 666. That guess also proved too farfetched.
Suddenly I was struck by the nimbus in the middle, the divine throne. The Hebrew letters were large; I could see them even from my chair. But Belbo couldn't write Hebrew on Abulafia. I took a closer look: I knew them, of course, from right to left, yod, he, vav, he. The Tetragrammaton, Yahweh, the name of God.'This is as much a "cube" as it is a tower. Sure, it's elongated a little bit, but that's just a blind. It's also the chariot, speciifically a quadriga, or 4-wheeled chariot. It's Metatron, and the Merkaba (meaning - chariot). I know "the internet has Metatron's Cube as a 4-dimensional tesseract, but there's not tradition of that. Any cube should be considered Metatron's cube, for reasons I'll discuss at a later time. And sure, the cube is also taken as a symbol for Shekhinah/Malkut.. what I can say.. it's complicated.
- Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
The 36 mentioned in the passage is referring to the "36 invisibles, divided into 6 bands", a quote from a 17th century pamphlet:
Nos inuisibles pretendus sont (a ce que Ton dit) au nombre de 36, separez en six bandes.
— Effroyables pactions faictes entre le diable & les pretendus Inuisibles, Paris, 1623
First I want to get the Lamed-Vav or Tzadikim Nistarim out of the way:
As a mystical concept, the number 36 is even more intriguing. It is said that at all times there are 36 special people in the world, and that were it not for them, all of them, if even one of them was missing, the world would come to an end. The two Hebrew letters for 36 are the lamed, which is 30, and the vav, which is 6. Therefore, these 36 are referred to as the Lamed-Vav Tzadikim. This widely-held belief, this most unusual Jewish concept is based on a Talmudic statement to the effect that in every generation 36 righteous "greet the Shekhinah", the Divine Presence (Tractate Sanhedrin 97b; Tractate Sukkah 45b). -wikipedia
This is connected to whats coming next, and especially the end, but for now I digress.
The 36 goes back to the Greeks. It's a number connected to their concept of "Kosmos", really the ordered system of "creation".. Or, the totality of creation and its dynamic processes. Plato defines the World Soul as a circle, with it's 36(0) degrees. They connected their Tetraktys to "Kosmos" through the first 4 (tetrad) even numbers and the first 4 odd numbers of the Decad equalling 36.
Metatron is also connected to the number 36, for example, His 36 pairs of wings. (36x2=72, the value of the hebrew version of the tetraktys based on the Tetragrammaton). He is also another version of the World Soul, with the 360 degrees of Creation.
These 36 invisibles are actually the 36 decans of ancient astrology, used by the Egyptians:
There is a body that enfolds the whole of the world; imagine it in the form of a circle, for this is the form of the Whole. . . . Imagine now that under the circle of this body are the 36 decans, midway between the total circle and the circle of the zodiac, separating these two circles and, so to speak, delimiting the zodiac, transported along it with the planets. . . . The changing of kings, the rising up of cities, famine, plague, the tides of the sea, earthquakes: none of these takes place without the influence of the decans. . . .
Beneath the Circle of this [all-embracing] frame are ranged tbe Six-and-thirty Decans, between this Circle of the Universe and that one of the Animals, determining the boundaries of both these Circles, and, as it were, holding that of the Animals aloft up in the air, and [so] defining it. They share the motion of the Planetary Spheres, and [yet] have equal powers with the [main] motion of the Whole: crosswise the Seven. They’re checked by nothing but the All-encircling Body, for this must be the final thing in the [whole grades of] motion, —itself by its own self. But they speed on the Seven other Circles, because they move with a less rapid motion than the [Circle] of the All. Let us, then, think of them as though of Watchers stationed round [and watching] over both the Seven themselves and o’er the Circle of the All,—or rather over all things in the World,—holding together all, and keeping the good order of all things.
-Corpus Hermeticus, Stobaeus, excerptum VI
I likewise wish you to unfold to me, what the Egyptians conceive the first cause to be; whether intellect, or above intellect? whether alone, or subsisting with some other or others? whether incorporeal, or corporeal; and whether it is the same with the Demiurgus, or prior to the Demiurgus? Likewise, whether all things are from one principle, or from many principles? whether the Egyptians have a knowledge of matter, or of primary corporeal qualities; and whether they admit matter to be |13 unbegotten, or to be generated? For Chaeremon, indeed, and others, do not think there is any thing else prior to the visible worlds; but in the beginning of their writings on this subject, admit the existence of the Gods of the Egyptians, but of no others, except what are called the planets, the Gods that give completion to the zodiac, and such as rise together with these; and likewise, the sections into decans, and the horoscopes. They also admit the existence of what are called the powerful leaders, whose names are to be found in the calendars, together with their ministrant offices, their risings and settings, and their significations of future events. For Chaeremon saw that what those who say that the sun is the Demiurgus, and likewise what is asserted concerning Osiris and Isis, and all the sacred fables, may be resolved into the stars and the phases, occultations and risings of these, or into the increments or decrements of the moon, or into the course of the sun, or the nocturnal and diurnal hemisphere, or into the river [Nile]. And, in short, the Egyptians resolve all things into physical, and nothing into incorporeal and living essences. Most of them likewise suspend that which is in our power from the motion of the stars; and bind all things, though I know not how, with the indissoluble bonds |14 of necessity, which they call fate. They also connect fate with the Gods; whom, nevertheless, they worship in temples and statues, and other things, as the only dissolvers of fate.
- The Epistle of Porphry to the Egyptian Anebo
So each sign of the Zodiac was divided into 3 "faces" of 10 degrees. Each face had associated decan images, the use of which was thought to be particular powerful in Magic. This was handed down in texts attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, who is associated with decan magic.
The 12 signs of the Zodiac and 36 decans are divisions of the "ecliptic" plane, basically the path the planets take as they rotate around the Sun.
In this passage from the Zohar, very coincidentally numbered as "360", He is the keeper of the watch over the 24 divisions of the circle, the "Hours", 12 of day, 12 of night. These are common divisions of the "Celestial plane", based on the rotation of the Earth. And this is part of those "processes of Nature":
360. Rabbi Elazar said, as we have learned: At the beginning of the first hour at night, when the day is blown away and the sun goes down, the keeper of the keys, who is in charge of the sun-METATRON, THE GOVERNOR OF THE WORLD, WHO DRAWS THE LIGHT OF THE SUN DOWN TO THE WORLD-enters the twelve gates that BELONG TO THE SUN. THESE GATES are open during the day, WHICH IS THE SECRET OF THE TWELVE HOURS OF DAYLIGHT. After he has passed through all TWELVE GATES, MEANING AFTER THE TWELFTH HOUR IS OVER, then all the gates are closed, MEANING THAT THE DOMINION OF THE DAY HAS ENDED AND THE TIME FOR THE DOMINION OF THE NIGHT HAS COME!
There is another form of Metatron, as the male aspect of the "Initiator":
The mystic confronts the Active Intellect in the shape of Metatron, a human figure that is formed in the imagination of the visionary.124 In the epiphanic moment, the boundary between inside and outside disintegrates—the self mirrors the angelic guide that mirrors the self, a double mirroring prompted by the prior individuation of the universal through the universalization of the individual.
-'Textual Flesh, Incarnation, and the Imaginal Body-Abraham Abulafia's Polemic with Christianity' by Elliot R. Wolfson
The techniques of "prophetic Kabbalah" that were used to aid the ascent of the soul, such as breathing exercises, the repetition of Divine Names, and meditations on colors, bear a marked resemblance to those of both Indian Yoga and Muslim Sufism. The subject sees flashes of light and feels as though he were divinely "anointed." In certain stages he lives through a personal identification with an inner spiritual mentor or guru who is revealed to him and who is really Metatron, the prince of God's countenance, or in some cases, the subject's own true self. The climactic stage of this spiritual education is the power of prophecy."Metatron is also Master of the Celestial Academy, or Yeshiva on High. You could say he's the guide on the chariot ride. A few choice passages from the Zohar:
13. He told me, Master, the Holy One, blessed be He, had a great secret, which He revealed to the celestial Academy (Yeshiva on high). The secret is that when the most hidden and concealed One (the secret of all secrets) desired to reveal Himself, He first made one single Point, WHICH IS MALCHUT, and this point ascended and became a Thought, WHICH IS BINAH. THIS MEANS THAT MALCHUT ROSE UP AND WAS INCLUDED WITHIN BINAH. He shaped in her all the images and engraved all the designs.
59. I have come to approve the Torah of your Academy only because the One with Wings (METATRON) is on his way here, and I know that He shall not enter any other Academy (Yeshivah) - only yours. Meanwhile, he told Rabbi Shimon about the oath taken by the One with the Wings. Then Mashiach trembled and raised up his voice. The heavens also trembled, as did the Great Sea and the Whale. The world was about to collapse. Also at this time, he noticed Rabbi Chiya sitting at the feet of Rabbi Shimon. He asked: Who allowed a human being, wearing the cloaks of that world, THAT IS, THE PHYSICAL BODY OF THE MUNDANE WORLD, here? Rabbi Shimon answered: This is Rabbi Chiya the Shining Light of the Torah. He said: Let he and his sons be gathered, MEANING, LET THEM PASS AWAY FROM THE MUNDANE WORLD, and join your Academy! Rabbi Shimon said, let him be given time! And time was given to him.
264. Now, Rabbi, I will tell you one secret. Come and see: Each and every Sabbatical year, a proclamation is declared in the Garden of Eden: Gather together, men and women, and all those members of the Faith, and ascend. Then all get undressed and ascend, men, women and babies that stopped suckling, to the Yeshivah above in heaven, WHICH IS THE YESHIVAH OF METATRON, and rejoice about their ascension. And there is happiness upon happiness. The youth, MEANING METATRON, that has the keys of his Master in his hands, rises and tells them new and old things, and they all see gladness. There is no happiness such as that rejoicing.
This "Yeshiva on High" or "Celestial Academy" IS the "House of the Holy Spirit" of the Rosicrucians, and the student body is the "Invisible College". Perhaps symbolized in the hebrew tradition as the 36 righteous. A nickname for those who can ride the chariot are "those who ascend". Heikalot literature (which includes the Zohar) is concerned with this mystical ascent. The ascent is connected to Ruach HaKodesh (translated as "Holy Spirit") and the two higher divisons of the soul (as opposed to the 3 regular lower divisions):
- Chayyah - The part of the soul that allows one to have an awareness of the divine life force itself.
- Yehidah - The highest plane of the soul, in which one can achieve as full a union with God as is possible.
This Holy Spirit is the "ruach" that is the "hand of the lord" on Ezekiel, and also activates Isaiah, Elijah, Daniel, and others. It is described as the female aspect of the Divine Presence, also known as the Shekhinah.
We say with our loving Father C.R.C. Phy. aurium nisi quantum: aurum, for unto him the whole nature is detected; he doth not rejoice that he can make gold, and that, as saith Christ, the devils are obedient unto him; but is glad that he seeth the Heavens open, and the angels of God ascending and descending, and his name written in the book of life.
- Fama Fraternitatis