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The Secret Doctrine Of The Kabbalah * Leonora Leet (isbn 0892817240)

Only when I received this book, I found out that it was the second in a series of four. The first is called “Renewing The Convenant” and the last two parts will be released as one book. I don’t know if this is already available, but I think not.
The book as subject here is a very wide-ranging book about Kabbalism and related subjects. It starts with a nice introduction to Jewish mysticism and religion, but as soon as the subject switches to Kabbalism, it becomes clear that the writer supposes that you have some background knowledge. I usually had my copy of Charles Poncé’s book “Kabbalah” (reviewed elsewhere) at hand. This is not only necessary because the first part of “The Secret Doctrine…” hardly contains any visuals, but also to look up terms, words, titles, traditions, etc. A strange thing is that Leet’s book has a huge bibliography at the end, but Poncé’s book isn’t in it, while the first chapters seem to follow Poncés book pretty closely. Anyway, especially the lack of visuals is a big minor point about Leet’s book. For example, she writes about and describes the Sephirotic tree with the figure of the Adam-Kadmon, but when you never saw a picture of it, you probably can’t imagine what it is supposed to look like. Poncé’s book has a few versions of the picture, which is very helpfull.
Leet’s version of Kabbalism is clearly based on the rather sexual Kabbalism of Isaac Luria who was one of the biggest reformers of Kabbalism. Leet knows enough about the ‘other’ version of Cordovero too though.
A good point about this book is that Leet is also familiar with other traditions, such as gnosticism and the Dead Sea Scrolls, some Eastern religion and (what becomes evident around the end of the book) modern science. Sometimes she draws a bit too much to the subject in my opinion. I had to think hard to remember my music-classes of 13 years ago when Leet starts with ‘harmonics’, maths come up, physics and at the end of the book science that I was never thought at school.
Personally I have particular problems with understanding her Kabbalism and harmonics, with diagrams ascribed to tones and kindred elusive subjects.
Much attention is given to the geometry of the Tree Of Life (see my article “Etz Chayyim”), which is sometimes very clear, but sometimes terribly difficult and only shortly founded.
This is also a problem for the book as a whole. Sometimes Leet explains certains things over and over again, but more difficult items seem to be taken as common knowledge. This results in some ‘revelations’ here and there when I finally understood a certain part of Kabbalism and sometimes a swamp of information which makes my head spin. Around the end Leet wants to bring together Kabbalism and quantum physics, which she sometimes does really well, but the extremely detailed explanation of quantum theories are way over my head and do not remain interesting for so many pages. Then a more theoretical part is very interesting again.

All in all I would say that this is not a book for beginners. Maybe when you first read “Renewing The Convenant” “The Secret Doctrine” would be better understandable, but when you not familiar with Kabbalism yet, I suggest (but I suggest it to anyone!) Poncé’s book. If you are interested in new approaches in Kabbalism and you are familiar with harmonics, science and geometry, this book may be a good start in your investigations.
Personally I don’t find myself an expert enough to use this book as a starting point.

Read more in my article in the articles section partly based on this book and which is called “Etz Chayyim”.

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