Kabbalah Of Deosil & Widdershins

A witch casts a circle to create a sacred space in time, acting as a conduit of Divine Energies in its making. To cast a circle, her ritual actions are performed moving deosil (clockwise) beginning from the north. To release a circle, her ritual actions are performed moving widdershins (counterclockwise), also beginning from the north.

To move deosil, one moves from north to east to south to west to north. To move widdershins one moves from north to west to south to east to north. What can the Hebrew words for these directions reveal to us about these movements?

North = tzafon = צפון

Tzafon has a total gematria of 226, a digit sum of 10, and a final digit sum of 1.

Two hundred and twenty six [1] equals King David’s 221 Gates of Creation plus 5; where 5 is the value of the letter hei (ה) and corresponds to the feminine power of creative expression in thought, speech and action.

The value ten refers to 10 sefirot in totality generally, and to the sefirah Keter specifically (where “the encircling” begins”, using the Hebrew root סבב as opposed to the root עגל to cast the circle). The value one refers to Unity among the sefirot generally, and to the sefirah Malchut specifically (where “the encircling” ends).

East = mizrach = מזרח

Mizrach has a total gematria of 255, a digit sum of 12, and a final digit sum of 3.

The value twelve refers to 12 diagonals of the sefirotic array, represented by the 12 “elemental” Hebrew letters (הוז חטי לנס עצק). The twelve diagonals are the twelve metaphysical boundaries (gevulim) of the entire Universe [2] which actually extend beyond space and time. Inside these boundaries dwells the Tree of Life [3]. The twelve boundaries also correspond to the twelve permutations of the tetragrammaton [4]. “The permutations beginning with Y (yod י) correspond to the east; those beginning with the first H (hei ה) correspond to the south; those beginning with V (vav ו) correspond to the west; and those beginning with the second H (hei ה) correspond to the north.”

The value 3 refers to the 3 transcendent sefirot of Chochmah (wisdom), Binah (understanding) and Da’at (knowledge). Three also corresponds to the three mother letters [5] mem (מ thesis), shin (ש antithesis) and alef (א synthesis). Additionally, the mother letters correspond to water (mem), fire (shin) and air (alef); each (male and female) in the Universe (space), Year (time) and Soul (spirit); each (male and female) in the head (shin), chest (alef) and belly (mem). The mother letters are the roots of the letters of the tetragrammaton YHV (יהו).

South = darom = דרום

Darom has a total gematria of 250 and a digit sum of 7.

Now we have arrived at the seven immanent lower sefirot establishing intellectual, emotional and physical reality. The value seven refers to the seven double letters (בגד כפרת) of the Hebrew alphabet, the seven days of the week, seven universes (air), seven firmaments (fire), seven lands (earth), seven seas (water), etc. While in the eastern values, where only the elements of water, fire and air were represented, here we have the element of the earth additionally included.

West = ma’arav = מערב

Ma’arav has a total gematria of 312 and a digit sum of 6.

Three hundred twelve equals 12 times 26, where 12 is the number of the boundaries of the Universe and 26 is the value of the tetragrammaton (the Essential Divine Name). Here is the key to “choosing life” and the Divine Power to “create and appoint time” for a purpose.

The value of six refers to the 6 basic directions of physical space [5] – north, east, south,west, up and down; and to the 6 rings which seal physicality. The letter vav (ו), with a value of 6, has the power to “connect and interrelate all 22 individual powers of Creation” [6] that came before in the 12 elemental, the 3 mother and the 7 double letters of the mystical Hebrew alphabet. This type of vav is called a vav hachibur, the “vav of connection”. Vav hahipuch, the “conversive vav” has the power to transform reality. It is a vav of radical transformation responsible for bringing forth light from darkness – a kabbalistic process known as ithapcha chashocha lenehora (אתהפכא חשוכא לנהורא).

Thus we can see a complex dynamic in the simple act of bringing forth Divine Energy via moving deosil. Likewise, we return it to the Source in Ein Sof (infinite One) via moving widdershins.

Footnotes:

[1] Sefer Yetzirah, R’ Aryeh Kaplan translation (p. 118)

[1] Ibid (chapter 5)

[2] Bahir 95

[3] Sefer Yetzirah, R’ Aryeh Kaplan translation (p. 205)

[4] Ibid (chapters 2 and 3)

[5] Ibid (p. 81, 142)

[6] The Hebrew Letters, R’ Yitzchak Binsburgh (p. 94)

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