Monthly Archives: January 2023

Time for Annoying Esoteric Stuff Again

The new annoying thing is “Esoteric Judaism teaches reincarnation.”

Allegedly this is a medieval Kabbalistic teaching. Obviously I don’t do medieval Hebrew or Jewish esoteric theology, so I can’t go look up the primary sources. Either this statement is true or not. And either it’s teaching what they say it’s teaching, or people have misinterpreted some kind of poetic imagery.

Anyway, the alleged keyword is “gilgul,” and the important book is called Sha’ar ha Gilgulim. It’s a book by an alleged student of Rabbi Luria, allegedly presenting what he taught in the 1500’s. But if it didn’t come out until after Luria’s death in 1572, we’re talking an Early Modern book, not a medieval book. And honestly, that’s pretty late in Judaism… just saying.

I gather it does quote from the Zohar and from Scripture, but… yeah, so do a a lot of esoteric/occult Christian books from the Early Modern period quote Scripture. Stupidly.

Anyway, “gilgul” literally means wheel, and “gilgul neshamot” means “wheel of souls.” So it’s basically a transliteration of very standard Western occult ideas, which ultimately come from Hinduism (with some help from the Greeks). There’s a reclassification of different fates for souls: getting stuck as an inanimate or non-human being under one of the four Greek elements; getting immediately reincarnated as a human; getting sent to between-innings Gehenna as a purgatorial thing; and getting sent to between-innings Eden. Everybody keeps getting reincarnated. The fewer times you have to reincarnate, the more you win.

Sure, there were probably some equally occult/esoteric ideas floating around in the Second Temple period, given all the warnings about things like worshipping angels and “a man dies once and then the Judgment.” But this is pretty weird stuff. “Scripture doesn’t mean what it says” stuff.

The weirdest bit is that apparently this is an attempt to escape the entire concept of a Messiah, at least in this part of contemporary esoteric Judaism. Everybody is just going to spiritually advance through reincarnation until they all become Messiah-level or God-level beings; and there’s never any Day of the Lord or permanent Gehenna. (This also strikes me as some kind of American LDS-envy.)

And magically you can be Jewish and not have to disagree with your Buddhist-wannabe friends who are spiritual and not religious. And yet you can also pay money to get past life regression by some scammer who messes with your head, because it’s all safely Jewish and he’s allegedly a rabbi.

Well, isn’t that convenient.

I’m pretty sure that it’s cheaper and easier to just live a life of virtue and serve God.

Or, you know, find Jesus. That’s also a solution to the Messiah problem.


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Greek Naming Pattern

Apparently, the Greek male name “Artemas” is supposed to be a short version of “Artemidoros”, gift of Artemis. So “Hermas” is really “Hermidoros,” “Zenas” is “Zenodoros,” and “Helias” is “Heliadoros.” There’s also a male name “Nymphas,” which is “Nymphadoros”; and there are ancient Greek inscriptions using this male name.

Colossians 4:15 mentions a guy named Nymphas.

However, because it mentions him without a lot of elaboration of male detail, people have apparently decided that the manuscripts must have written it wrong, and that it’s about a woman named Nympha. And that she must have been running the local church. And that she must have been like a minister.

Now… honestly, I don’t get why this would be a desirable conclusion, because the local church in question is the church in Laodicea.

Yes. “I want to spit you out of My mouth” Laodicea.

Also, it’s not like people these days don’t know that “Nymphadora” is a name, and therefore it shouldn’t be surprising that “Nymphadoros” is also a name.

As far as I can see, none of the Fathers talk about Nympha instead of Nymphas, and the Greek churches have a day celebrating “the apostles Nymphas and Euboulos,” both male. (On February 28.) So why would everyone have been wrong about this, everyone including native speakers, until yesterday night?


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Robin McKinley Is Alive and Well in Scotland

Robin McKinley has a new blog, has just been made a SFWA Grand Master, and is living in Scotland with a German wirehaired pointer named Genghis. She also has a giant manuscript which will hopefully come out sometime soon.

All these things make me happy, although I’m very sorry to learn that her “hellhounds” all died during the Coof Years. Bah.

Also, the downside of living in some small town in eastern Scotland is that her town doesn’t do snowplows. Ugh.

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Tolkien’s Female Friends

Tolkien’s students were many and influential, and he also had many friends at Oxford as the years went by. Unusually, many of his best friends and best students were females whom he tutored; but he was also friends with dons and writers, including Mary Renault and Naomi Mitchison.

“Companions in Shipwreck” is a wonderful article that greatly illuminates Tolkien’s female friendships.

I found it through this wonderful new fan journal, Tolkien Gleanings issue 1. Gleanings is now accepting submissions for Issue 2.

Gleanings also notes that The Tolkien Journal, from 1965-1972, is now available at as PDFs. Sweet!

Oh, and Colossal Cave is now going to be available in January, as a 3D graphics adventure instead of a 1970’s text adventure… and the old Sierra King’s Quest folks are doing it. So check it out on Steam. (Because it’s a “Moria” style computer game.)

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From the Swiss Guard Onion Ninja Elite…

A short video of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s remains, lying on a bier in his tiny chapel at the little monastery/house out back of the Vatican, Mater Ecclesiae.

I’m not going to lie. Something about this made me bawl like a baby. Probably the Christmas tree.

His funeral Mass will be on Thursday, January 5. They say they’re going to keep it lowkey; but I suspect it will be a big deal, even in the cold and wet of a Roman January.

All of us are going to die someday, except those at the world’s end for whom the Lord comes first. So think about your soul, spend time with Jesus, and go to Confession!


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