Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

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Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

Postby Metzareph » Mon Jun 20, 2005 6:58 am

This is a essay I wrote several months ago. I hope is not too long for this forum.

Alice is a character created by Lewis Carroll in the 19th century for a series of books called "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking-Glass".
This character was inspired for a little girl named Alice Liddell; who was the second of Dean Liddell‘s three daughters. The intention of the books, a side from the fact that they represent an antidote for a suffocating era, when stiff moral and self-righteous values were the norm, was to awaken children’s imagination. But the books go beyond that. They touch many archetypes and images that make them worth exploring.

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an English Occult Order that can be traced back to 1888, used archetypes and ancient mythology to express the different stages of the human evolution on the qabalistic Tree of Life. This very important Occult Order used this system among other techniques like Alchemy and Astrology, to help the initiated member work his or her way up the Tree. Aleister Crowley was initiated into this magical order at the turn of the 19th century. He later published "777", a qabalistic dictionary of ceremonial magick, oriental mysticism, comparative religion and symbology, as well as a handbook for ceremonial invocation and for checking the validity of dreams and visions. It is very clear that a mystical and magical revolution was taking place in the England of that era, and Lewis Carroll’s books resonate very well with this revolution making a very important contribution to the modern understanding of the human psyche. Furthermore, these books have a revolutionary approach to children’s tales. There’s a Victorian phrase that describes with precision "Alice in Wonderland" and its relation to our culture: "We don’t know where to have it." How do we locate this work, hold it still? Do we have it for adults, for children, for psychoanalysts, for mathematicians, for logicians…?

Alice is an intriguing character, for she represents the soul in its descent into hell. This particular archetype finds its expression in Persephone in Greek mythology. Persephone is the goddess of the underworld. She is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, goddess of the harvest. Demeter is a representation of Nature itself and her correspondence in the Golden Dawn’s magical system is to Venus and the III Atu, the Empress. She is Daleth and connects Binah and Chokmah on the Tree of Life, therefore, the "gate" or door that needs to be crossed (by surrender) to reach the Supernals.
Persephone is another way of portraying the archetype of the maiden and the daughter —the final He in the Tetragramaton. In Greek mythology, she was such a beautiful young woman that everyone loved her; even Hades wanted her for himself.

Alice also represents the Fool in the Tarot deck for she is innocence and the virgin soul. She is guided by curiosity, which in itself represents the soul’s unstoppable impulse to understand the ultimate meaning of the Universe, and the secret call of the Divine that operates in humanity at an unconscious level. As she will discover in her journey, knowledge and understanding have to be approached through transformation (Death). This transformation sometimes stirs up shady aspects of our being, manifesting "demons" or the “devil” that are only an aspect of our mind. Death and the Devil are the two of the forbidden paths going up the Tree of Life; the paths of Nun (Death) and the Ayin (the Devil) represent them. These two paths with the addition of the path of Samekh are the three paths that reach up to Tipheret. Interesting enough, they spell NOS (Nun, Ayin and Samekh.) The same initials as the Latin phrase: "Novus Ordo Seclorum," the New Order of the Ages. (This Adds up to 220, the same as "Scire Velle Audere Et Tacere," To know, to will, to dare and to keep silence; as well as the same enumeration of the words "NaBIRaH," Heroina, or the number of verses in the Book of the Law.)

The paths of Nun and Ayin become illusions in the end. Death is change and change is stability. Our own psychological shadows and misconceptions create the Devil. After all, this Devil is the redeemer, and Death is a form of Divine Love.

The Fool card is attributed to the letter Aleph. This card is the Qabalistic Zero because it represents the Negative above the Tree of Life, the source of all things, and the balance of the opposites. Other names for this card are "Le Mat" (Matto in italian), madman or fool. Madness and foolishness are important elements in "Alice in Wonderland" and in "Through the Looking-Glass".

Crowley writes in the Book of Thoth:
"If one assumes the Tarot is of Egyptian origin, one may suppose that Mat (this card being the key card of the whole pack) really stands for Maut, the vulture goddess, who is an earlier and more sublime modification of the idea of Nuith than Isis." They are both a form of Binah, the 3rd Sephirah. As mentioned above, Persephone and Demeter are the Daughter and the Mother, the connection of the two "H"s in the Tetragrammaton.

Alice is distracted (tempted) by a white rabbit while she is daydreaming about picking daisies in a garden on a "golden afternoon". The symbology is important for two reasons. The connection with "gold" and the alchemical transformation is somewhat hidden. The second reason is that the garden is archetypal of Nature, and where the Great Work has to be accomplished. It is an image of the Garden of Eden. As in the Persephone story, she falls into Hell (the rabbit’s hole) and falls for a long time. In Lewis Carroll’s book, there is a small reference to death when Alice grabs a jar —while she is falling— and puts it back into the shelf instead of dropping it, for she is afraid to kill somebody that may be at the bottom. Death represents transformation and initiation.

The fall itself is also interesting because even though Alice falls for a long time —almost floating— she isn’t hurt. This is important because it’s implied that her nature pertains to the element of Air and the Atu the Fool. In the book is also mentioned that: "…she was considering, in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain…" Again, a correspondence to Air.

In Greek mythology, Persephone was collecting flowers on the plain of Enna, the earth suddenly opened and Hades rose up from the gap and abducted her. She's practically eaten by the jaws of hell, just like Alice. Another indication of an Airy nature in the little girl is this is the fact that she talks to herself (giving herself "good advise") and recites constantly poems and songs throughout her entire journey, although these poems and songs come out rather different from the original. In the book, Alice recites an "unintentional" parody of Robert Southey’s poem "You are old, Father William." She also changes the poem "Against Idleness and Mischief" from Isaac Watt’s Divine Songs for Children (1715.) The original goes like this:

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour;
And gather honey all the day,
From ev’ry opening flow’r.

How skillful she builds her cell,
How neat she spreads the wax;
And labours hard to store it well,
With the sweet food she makes.

Alice’s take on that poem:

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerful he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!

Alice’s understanding of the aboveground world is a "who eats whom," an understanding of the order of things inconsistent with Wonderland. Also, it is important to mention that the consumption of things is not only for nutritional purposes but has been regarded as a magical act since the beginning of times. It has a psychological effect that transforms the person. The idea of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Christ is an example of this. By doing this, the person is linked to the Archetype and becomes one with it. The idea behind the Persepone’s pomegranate holds true in this context, by eating it, she is forever linked to the Underworld. In this same line of thinking, Alice’s consumption of cookies, mushrooms and bottled liquids labeled as "eat me" or "drink me" are a symbolic communion or Eucharist with the powers of the unconscious, making her amazingly big or small.

A very important character, aside from Alice, is the White Rabbit. Alice follows this fellow down the rabbit-hole. His true nature is solar, for he is a phallic symbol. In most cultures, rabbits are regarded as a symbol of fertility and procreation, and they might have been sacred to Venus (Venus is a strong feminine-solar archetype). The rabbit is the hidden Yod, therefore, the guide, the highest form of Mercury and the Logos. His representative in physical life is the spermatozoon, or the Hermit. The secret Yod is not only creative, but is the fluidic essence of Light, which is the life of the Universe. That’s the real reason why Alice can’t help following him.

"Wonderland" is an image of the unconscious. Interesting enough Alice is not going downwards but inwards. Here, away from the restricting order of reason or Ruach part of the soul, life is fluidic and non-linear. Images appear and disappear (Briah) and anything is possible. This realm is Hell because the conscious mind cannot understand the mind’s unconscious processes, which are secret, and cannot find a path (a linear thinking) back to the surface. Labyrinths are a symbol of the mystical journey or the path of return. There is an interesting connection with Yesod, the 28th Path of Qoph, the 3rd Path of Gimel or the Moon and Wonderland. Yesod is where automatic consciousness occurs, and its Hebrew translation is "Foundation." It pertains to the element of Air and to the Moon. This Sephirah is receptive and mainly reflects the energy of the Sun, just like the real Moon does. Automatic consciousness operates at a level beyond the threshold of the conscious mind (represented by the Moon) and can be equated with the state in which Alice has to operate.

The 28th Path of Qoph is attributed to Pisces, and the XVIII Atu, The Moon. Here too, the connection with Alice in Wonderland is very strong for this Atu represents the last stage of winter and the state of darkness. In this context, winter can symbolize the conscious mind overwhelmed by unintelligible images, the time of internal exploration and meditation. In the Greek myth, the broken-hearted Demeter wandered the earth, looking for her daughter until Helios revealed what had happened. Demeter was so angry that she withdrew herself in loneliness, and the earth ceased to be fertile (winter). This Greek myth is a symbol of the budding and dying of Nature (Demeter=Daleth=The Empress). In the Eleusinian mysteries, this happening was celebrated in honor of Demeter and Persephone, who was known in this cult as Kore.

The 28th path of Qoph is also the Gateway of Resurrection (Qoph means back of the head and is connected with the potencies of the cerebellum). The card represents midnight and the Sun at its weakest.
Crowley quotes Keats in the Book of Thoth: "There is a budding morrow midnight." He adds: "For this reason (the Sun) appears at the bottom of the card, underneath the water which is tinged with graphs of abomination, the sacred Beetle, the Egyptian Khephra, bearing in his mandibles the Solar Disk. Above the surface of the water is a sinister and forbidding landscape…" Wonderland parallels such a landscape. This path represents all that is doubtful and mysterious. It is the Dark Night of the Soul.

The 3rd Path of the Moon is the link between the human and the Divine. In the Vision and the Voice, the 19th Call gives us a hint to the true nature of the Moon. Thus, the Moon partakes of the highest and the lowest.

Alice has an interesting encounter with the Caterpillar in her journey. This little fellow gives Alice many hints of how to find a solution to the riddle, but Alice in her ignorance, oversees them. The Caterpillar’s apparently innocent question "Who are you?" is used in a mischievous way by Carroll. The nature of the Caterpillar is to be transformed into a butterfly, therefore projecting the question of the superficial aspect of the self into a philosophical quest for self-knowledge. This recalls the Sphinx’s riddle which essentially called for the recognition of the nature of humanity regardless of the superficial changes a person endures without affecting the true nature of the Self; the essence of being human.

There are many more characters and situations in the book. The Chesire Cat, the Queen of Hearts, the King etc. They are all worth examining. The tea party with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, and the crocket game at the rose garden, are variations on the same theme. The “order” and rules for normal behavior on the everyday life have been broken. Chaos reigns in Wonderland. The last attempt to regain logical thought is the Trial (Atu XI Adjustment, Libra.) But we’ll discover that the only real “Adjustment” is by incorporating all those images and Archetypes into our conscious mind. We need Wonderland to operate beyond human logic (the Ruach), to expand, to exceed, to explore our limitations through imagination. We need Wonderland to restore our true nature and make sense of our existence; for Wonderland is the unconscious side of Nature and of our soul. We have been created human to exceed human nature. We only have to take a dive down the rabbit-hole.
"There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt."
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Postby Jim Eshelman » Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:57 pm

93, Juan,

I was backing off to see what other remarks would come in - and I haven't had the time to thoroughly study this - but from what I've read, this is a good piece of work. Thanks!
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Postby Metzareph » Sun Jun 26, 2005 8:36 am

Thanks Jim...
I had fun writing this!... :)
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Re: Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

Postby Corvinae » Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:16 am

I think that this piece here ROCKS! What a great insight. I have been a fan of Carroll my whole life, enjoying the dark, the fantastic and chaotic. I even got myself a little white bunny once.....

Before I learned of the Tree of Life and the Tarot I learned "gypsy" style fortune telling (as taught by Raymond Buckland) of using playing cards for divination. I recalled my mum telling me that where she grew up outside of London, there had been a large encampment of gypsies who would read regular cards because they didnt want to get caught with Tarot decks, but that playing card signified the same things.

I recently pulled my son out of public schools and started to home school him. Much to his dismay, the first book *I* choose to work with was Alice. We had a lot of fun with it, and I was able to create many lessons from it (not just lit. but science, history, and math!) He bemaoned my choice though and when I told him he could pick out the next book he went to the Juvenile section of the library stacks and after looking at a bunch of covers brought over a book with a nasty looking solider (He is Orion, the hunter). I open the book to read the summary, and to my delight he had picked a modern version of Alice, with out even consciously knowing.

Thank you very much for writting this and sharing it with us. With Tim Burton's movie out now I was very interested in this. I cant wait to watch it with this perceptive in mind:)

:bfly:
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Re: Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

Postby PatchworkSerpent » Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:50 am

Hear, hear! This is excellent.
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Re: Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

Postby Vlad » Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:01 am

Good stuff
Don't listen to this guy
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Re: Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

Postby TGoC » Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:08 am

Very inspiring work there, has gotten me off on a tangent. Very good. :mrgreen:
"We suffer when our illusions make inharmonious contacts with other illusions, because we sometimes forget their nature and our own." - A.C.
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Re: Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

Postby kuniggety » Mon Apr 19, 2010 12:32 pm

I have been mulling over working on my own tarot for some time now as an exploration of the Self and the Universe. I also recently watched the new Alice in Wonderland (which is ironically the first time I've been to the theater with my wife in almost 2 years now since we had our son) and the imagery in it stirred something in me. After reading your wonderful analysis, I can see why. Sometimes people hear whispers in the ear and other times you get something screamed at you through a megaphone - like what has just happened to me. Thank you!
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Re: Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

Postby AliceKnewIt » Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:18 am

Nice essay at the art of this thread!

I am starting to read "The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition" by Lewis Carroll, Martin Gardner, and John Tenniel. Martin Gardner and John Tenniel explain the Victorian in-jokes that would be lost upon the modern reader. So far, no mention of Qabalah. But I haven't gotten very far in the book.

Did Lewis Carroll study Qabalah? Apparently he was a mathematician.
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Re: Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

Postby Avshalom Binyamin » Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:23 am

From what I've read, a lot of it was making fun of the 'real world' absurdities of the new math concepts going around the university at the time. (Stuff like the square root of -1).
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Re: Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

Postby AliceKnewIt » Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:46 am

I found another book:

"Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy: Curiouser and Curiouser" by William Irwin and Richard Brian Davis

Might be interesting.
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Re: Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

Postby AliceKnewIt » Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:48 pm

Hey, someone reposted your essay here:
http://www.nachtkabarett.com/babalon/to ... hs-Of-Hell

I don't know if you mind.
I do think more people should see it, but I don't know if they asked your permission.

93 93/93
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Re: Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

Postby Macsen Melinydd » Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:20 pm

This is so good. Sumptuous. Sublime. Dare I say, perfect?
Dare me.
I'll do it.
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Re: Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

Postby AliceKnewIt » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:05 pm

AliceNuit wrote:I found another book:
"Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy: Curiouser and Curiouser" by William Irwin and Richard Brian Davis
Might be interesting.


I am finally getting around to reading this. Seems to be written by several philosophy professors - sort of like beginning philosophy, as illustrated by Alice in Wonderland. It's good.
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Re: Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

Postby AliceKnewIt » Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:56 am

I just noticed the Interlude in Book Four, Crowley analyzes nursery-rhymes in terms of Qabalah. Crowley writes:
But one can hardly comment upon a theme which has been so fruitfully treated by Ludovicus Carolus, that most holy illuminated man of God. His masterly treatment of the identity of the three reciprocating paths of Daleth, Teth, and Pé, is one of the most wonderful passages in the Holy Qabalah.


Ludovicus Carolus is Lewis Carroll.

Why did Charles Lutwidge Dodgson write under the pen name of Lewis Carroll? 
As a modest gentleman and a scholar/instructor at Oxford, he valued his privacy very highly. He would refuse letters sent to “Lewis Carroll, Christ Church, Oxford”, claiming no such person lived there! But he did occasionally use his pen name to smooth an introduction to a well-known member of society or new child friend.
How did he come up with the name Lewis Carroll? 
He took the first two parts of his name, Charles Lutwidge, and translated them into Latin: Carolus Ludovicus. He then reversed their order: Ludovicus Carolus, and then loosely translated them back into English: Lewis Carroll. He actually supplied his first publisher with a short list of possible pen names, and it was the publisher who selected “Lewis Carroll” from the list.

http://www.lewiscarroll.org/faq/

I also found this other weird site, an anti-Scientology site, someone anaylzes Through the Looking Glass in terms of Qabalah, but with a view to discredit L. Ron Hubbard, strangely enough. But makes a few interesting points, if you want to seperate the comments on Hubbard (Not that I support Scientology, I just find analyzing Through the Looking Glass to be irrelevant to the problems Scientology poses)

http://carolineletkeman.org/sp/index.ph ... &task=view

I kinda liked the idea that The Walrus and the Carpenter refers to Buddha and Jesus. :wink:
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Re: Qabalistic Alice in Wonderland and the depths of Hell.

Postby Macsen Melinydd » Sun Mar 04, 2012 3:20 pm

I have been reading Alice very carefully this past week.
Its perfection is undeniable.

"The Knower of Truth should go about the world outwardly stupid like a child, a madman or a devil."

~Mahavakyaratnamala~

It has assisted my initiation greater than any other piece of literature.
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