I am sure the title of this book made you smile? Well, I can asure you one thing, the book is as silly as the title. BUT, not only silly! I had seen this title at Amazon several times and never really had a closer look, because of that title. When I was looking for a practical book on the Qabalah, it was rather high up in the list, so I figured to read the description anyway and even decided to order it.
“The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford” tells the story of the (imaginary) Rabbi in the USA. Because Ben Clifford wasn’t an orthodox Qabalist, he named his version of the Qabalah “Chicken Qabalah” to distinguish himself from orthodox Qabalists. This book is said to be a collection of Ben Clifford’s writings, lectures, interviews, etc, together giving the largest part of the formerly secret doctrines of Ben Clifford’s “Zerrubbabel Institute of Philosophical Youth” (ZIPY).
It is more likely though, that DuQuette came up with the idea of this unique way of introducing Qabalist teachings. DuQuette earlier wrote more practical magickal books, an Enochian dictionary, books about Aleister Crowley, etc. I haven’t read any of them, but in “The Chicken Qabalah” DuQuette worked with the idea that humour is a good way of bringing difficult matter, and humour is what you get here for sure!! The book is so hilarious that a big part of the time I was smiling and often laughed out loud about Ben Clifford’s statements. Still, I didn’t read anything that wasn’t correct (or very obviously) and indeed the book is quite practical, but more in a way of getting you on the path. “The Chicken Qabalah” is an introduction to Qabalism for people with already some background. People with more knowledge will also get some extremely detailed information here and there.
Now I want to tell you how Ben Clifford came to write the word Qabalah as he does.
The Hebrew characters for the word kabbalah are Q (qoph), B (beth) and L (lamed) H (heh). Since ancient Hebrew didn’t have vowels, you only get QBL, of which you can make QoBeLa for example, but Ben Clifford made it into Qabalah, which is a good way of transliterating QBLH to English.
The first letter is often named “Koph” or “Kaph” which is the reason that many people write “Kabala” or something like that. There are many ways of making an English word out of these characters. The most often used are “Kabbalah”, “Cabala” and “Qabalah”. Now let these three just be three ways of writing to tell three Qabalastic movements from eachother! “Kabbalah” is used by orthodox (Jewish) students, “Cabala” by Christian Cabalists and “Qabalah” by “ceremonial magicians”.
Ben Clifford (or DuQuette) indirectly naming himself a ceremonial magickal Qabalist is supported by various references to Aleister Crowley and as mentioned DuQuette wrote more than one book about the ‘most evil man in history’.
“The Chicken Qabalah” is divided in 11 chapters, which are all poured in a very different form:
Chapter 0. is an introduction to the Rabbi by DuQuette;
Chapter 1. are the Frequently Asked Questions which give you in introduction to the Chicken Qabalah;
Chapter 2. are the Ten Command-Rants, which clearly set way for the humour in the book;
Chapter 3. is about the Sepher Yetzirah (“book of formation”, the basis of Qabalism) which is a short lecture of Ben Clifford to his students and a translation;
Chapter 4. speaks of the Hebrew Alphabet and is very detailed with some interesting insights;
Chapter 5. is about the name of God and the arc of the covenant and is another lecture of Ben Clifford. He gives the entire scope of possibities of the transliteration or translation of the Tetragrammaton (JHVH (jod, heh, vau, heh – from right to left), coming to stunning conclusions;
Chapter 6. is about the four Qabalistic worlds and the four parts of the soul and is written as a screenplay for a Qabalastic documentary, making the point perfectly clear;
Chapter 7. is about the Tree of Life (Sephirothic Tree) and comes in the form is essays of students of the original ZIPY (“date: adar, 23rd, 520 B.C.”);
Chapter 8. speaks of Qabalistic Magick with the Tree of Life and has a table with the hierarchies of (arch) angels to make it easier to form spells;
Chapter 9. is about the Chicken Qabalah Tarrot and is an interview of Ben Clifford by a Tarot magazine. In the interview Ben Clifford speaks about the connections between Qabalah, Tarot and astrology in staggering detail;
Chapter 10. introduces the Qabalastic games of Gematria, Notariqon and Temura and Ben Clifford gives a few examples of how you can start with your practices.
Further the Rabbi’s last words about the Shem-Ha-Mephorash, the notes, a glossary (very nice), bibliography (also very nice) and an index.
To give you an idea of the tone of the book, I want to put some quotes so you can see if you can overcome the sense of humour and Ben Clifford’s teachings to give you the opportunity to decide if this book is something for you.
Earlier I have spoken about the ‘correct’ spelling of the word Qabalah, here is what Ben Clifford says about that in his FAQ:
“Is there a correct way to spell the word Qabalah?
Hell no! You’re a Chicken Qabalist! Don’t worry about it. Cabala, Kabbalah, Quabbalah, Caqubabalalah — They’re all wrong! (So they may as well all be correct!)” (p. 7/8).
In chapter 3. Ben Clifford claims to give the true and only translation of the Sepher Yetsirah. He has been able to lay his hands on an original manuscript, typed the text over in his computer, changed the font from Hebrew to Times New Roman and here are two quotes from his translation:
“Deity, whom we call Yah, Yea-man, Jehovah of hosts, Joe Heavy, What-It-Is, the Big Kahuna, the Mighty Duh, the living Elohim, King of the Universe, Omnipotent, All-King and Merciful, Supreme, and Extolled is all- powerfull, eternal; who is really, really holy and very, very large; who is so big It is both King and Queen of the universe, who is so all-encompassing and huge that It has nowhere to sit down because all the chairs are inside of Itself; who, because It is everywhere and nowhere, everything and nothing, had no one to play with – the Dude of Dudes created the Universe…” (p. 30)
“The Three Fundamental Letters – – (Aleph, Mem, Shin) are real Mothers and extremely cool. Deity took their temperatures and tissue samples, and measured their cholesterol levels, issued them numbers, certified them, and formed by them lots of things…” (p. 32).
I hope you have read an original translation….
One quote from the chapter about the Hebrew alphabeth (“aleph”, “beth” by the way):
“Lamed is Path No. 22 [on the Tree of Life]. It joins Geburah (Strength) to Tiphareth (Beauty). Lamed. The little Yod at the top of Lamed towers over and above the other letters and makes it easy to recognize. Lamed looks like a snake that has swallowed a brick and is now having second thoughts.” (p. 55)
In Chapter five Ben Clifford gives the possible pronounciations of the name of God () which could sound like this:
“Students of Zen could meditate upon the inscrutable I-He-We-Who? | Chanting the mantra You-Who-Way- High might bring the devotee to the realization of I-Who-Way-High? | Tantric lovers might lure their divine lover by cooing “Yoo-Hoo! Way-High,” or at the ecstatic moment they could shout “Yeh! I-Woo-High?” | The beauties of paradise might cause vacationing mystics to swoon and utter “Gee! Ha-Wah-Ee!” | Perhaps the God of cowboys is called Gee-Hah! Wah-Hoo! ” (p. 74)
Well, I guess you get the point. Funny, practical, informative. I like it! And would it be of use? “Hell no! You’re a Chicken Qabalist! Don’t worry about it.”