Santa Cruz School of Tarot and Qabalah Study



April, l999
by Shirley Skellinger

Browsing through the large selection of books on the Kabbalah currently available usually leaves me confused--sephiroth, sephirah, worlds, planes, intelligences. What is it? How does it all fit together? Is it a useful spiritual tool or an academic exercise?

Local author Amber Jayanti, founder of the Santa Cruz School for Tarot and Qabalah Study, answers these questions and more in her introductory guide, PRINCIPLES OF THE QABALAH (HarperCollins/Thorsons, 149 pages, $11.00, part of Thorsons Principles series). A teacher and practitioner for thirty years, she provides a concise approach to the complex tradition of the Qabalah.

Combining the Jewish mystical teachings of the Kabbalah and the Christian- Muslim-derived Cabala, the Universal Qabalah described here includes the western mystery traditions of tarot, numerology, angelology, astrology, alchemy and sacred geometry. This non-denominational "natural religion" bridges the inner traditions of the East and West, emphasizing their common teachings and honors a generic, genderless God, referred to here as the Most High.

As one of the few female Qabalists, the author brings a unique perspective to this tradition and uses examples from her students' lives as well as her own to illustrate Qabalistic principles. She also extends her approach to include contemporary social and philosophical issues, explaining the Qabalistic viewpoint on the existence of evil, gender equality, homosexuality, abortion, mental illness and others. By bringing the Qabalah into modern everyday life as well as making its fundamental tenants understandable, she extends the classic, best-selling MYSTICAL QABALAH by Dion Fortune and makes it accessible to the contemporary reader.

After giving a concise introduction to the Qabalah, the author then gives a detailed description of the Tree of Life, its graphic representation. A map of the Qabalah, the Tree of Life can also be understood as a diagram of the facets of the godhead, a pattern of the creative process or a ladder of the stages of individual consciousness. As complicated as this sounds, it is clearly explained with simple diagrams, text and tables. The explanation of the creative process is especially practical and would be useful to anyone interested in works like THE ARTIST'S WAY by Julia Cameron.

Another especially interesting segment explains the role of the tarot in understanding and working with the Qabalah. Besides being of interest to students of the tarot, this treatment of the subject expands the reader's appreciation of the Qabalah as a "pathless path" that can provide guidelines for living in harmony with universal laws and truths. Included also is additional information on Qabalistic prayer, meditation, chanting and physical postures based on the Hebrew alphabet as well as sources and suggestions for further study.

As the Qabalah teaches, the creation of the universe is an ongoing process as is the development of our individual consciousness, each mirroring the other and summarized in the ancient adage, "As above, so below." By understanding the natural laws with which we and the universe operate as taught in the Qabalah, readers gain information, not dogma or doctrine, for developing their own way to higher consciousness.

Amber Jayanti has clearly outlined a unique, complex system for the beginning student of the Universal Qabalah. I hope she will employ her obvious mastery of the subject, practical experience and lively writing style to an expanded treatment of this fascinating subject.