“Yes Alunno,” replied Benamozegh, “the reason that I am here is that I see kabbalah not as a rival to other viewpoints, but as the very foundation of all of them. Every religion and philosophy fits onto the ten sephirot on the tree of life.” Persephone was smirking sceptically.
“Oh really? So where do Mother and I fit into it?” she challenged.
“You are Malkuth, the kingdom sefirah. Essentially, it means Earth.”
“Hmm, well we are earth Goddesses I suppose” mused Persephone.
“Indeed ma’am, the Christian trinity and similar constructs focus excessively on the masculine. Whereas for centuries, Christian kabbalists have balanced the Father and Mary as equals near the top of the tree, correctly equating them with the sephirot of Chokhmah and Binah respectively.” Pete was puzzled,
“But surely that’s trying to stretch Christianity into something that it isn’t?”
“And very learned rabbis are kabbalists are we not?”
“I suppose so”
“You see?” said Benamozegh triumphantly, “Christianity is the religion of Jesus, not about Jesus, kabbalic Christianity is true Christianity!”
“So the male and female are equal in true Christianity” breathed Pete, “incredible”.
“That sounds a bit more like it,” said Persephone.
“The lifetime of an incarnated soul is there to remind it of higher things and so guide it home. Just as on the divine level, the feminine makes a noble sacrifice to be bound to matter to give life to others, so on the physical level the feminine does the same again. Motherhood is symbolic of this commitment.”
“But there’s more,” said Benamozegh excitedly, “the gender balance extends to the male and female pillars of the tree of life, called severity and mercy”
“Which is which?” asked Pete
“I think you can guess, young man” retorted Benamozegh cheerfully, “but you can take any set of philosophical principles or family of Gods and Goddesses and fit them faithfully onto this tree of life. No matter how you slice it, existence is a beautiful, perfect blend of male and female energies!”
“But what about Earth Goddesses being Malkuth?” said Persephone suspiciously. “That sefirah is right at the bottom, hardly seems fair”
“Ma’am that is a very astute point,” said Benamozegh eagerly, “but remember, all sephirot are no less than aspects of God and God is infinitely wonderful and so is each sephirah, or emanation of God! But there’s more,” he added breathlessly, “being the lowest Sephirot means that it is tied to matter, this humbling is a huge spiritual honour, remember the first shall be last and the last shall be first as a great man once said. Consenting to joyfully be bound in matter so that all may experience God is the ultimate triumph of the feminine. Shall I show you?” The olive grove faded and the four found themselves staring again at the cone of flowing light. You see, without Malkuth there is just a cone of being, there is no manifestation, no way to experience reality. But each realm has its own Malkuth, it forms the bottom of the cone like a mountain range, encapsulating the oldest most loving souls on the mountains and the least loving in the chasms. Suddenly planet Earth appeared stretched out onto a plane within the cone. Now the flowing light stopped passing downwards into blackness but projected onto earth. “You see?” the old Rabbi exclaimed zealously, “existence without Malkuth would be like a film without a projector. All the information would be there, but nobody could see it! It is why we call the feminine spirit shekhinah, divine presence!”
“The earth seems to have much higher mountains and deeper valleys than usual?” suggested Pete.
“Of course!” exclaimed Benamozegh, “for each realm contains a great variety of ages of soul, from the monk to the child trafficker, all just about within the realm of human.”
“So parts of the cone below the human Malkuth?”
“Just below would be a very benevolent demon, only a life time away from promotion to the most awful human being.” Pete thought.
“So just above a mountain on human Malkuth would be the most junior angel?” Benamozegh was delighted and started kissing Pete on each cheek again.
“Superb, yes! You understand, that is where Lisa fits in, a junior angel, in a chasm on the angelic Malkuth, but she will rise through the ranks quickly. It is like football leagues in your time yes? As above so below! Only nobody gets demoted, the only way is up.”
“So if women are all so brilliant and important, how come we get lumbered with all the childbirth and breastfeeding and so on?” asked Persephone. Benamozegh clapped her hard on the back, causing the Goddess’ head to fall back.
“My dear, that is a great question. Again, the answer is, as above so below! The lifetime of an incarnated soul is there to remind it of higher things and so guide it home. Just as on the divine level, the feminine makes a noble sacrifice to be bound to matter to give life to others, so on the physical level the feminine does the same again. Motherhood is symbolic of this commitment, a mother, by binding herself to matter, in the most direct sense by being her baby’s physical everything, to maintaining that commitment for years afterwards, by breast feeding, being the go-to for her offspring all throughout their childhood and beyond! As above, so below. There is divinity in motherhood, admittedly sometimes hidden behind various bodily fluids!”
“Incredible” said Pete.
“Oh yes! It is no coincidence that mater, the Latin word for mother is so similar to the word matter. But an even higher principal than bondage within matter is love,” said the old rabbi as the temple and olive grove reformed around them all. “Love between humans is the purest reflection of higher things in existence, which is why it is the most beautiful thing to see and to feel. Let us take a look. The olive grove faded and the small party found themselves in a bare stone room with a large straw mattress bed in the corner. There was the deep, authoritative silence of the dead of night. On the bed lay a mother, her hair was dishevelled, her skin gaunt. She was staring blankly ahead of her with semi-closed bloodshot eyes. A baby was suckling enthusiastically on her breast.
“She looks exhausted,” said Pete with concern, “doesn’t she have any support?”
“Oh, plenty of support in the day time darling,” said Demeter. “But at night, everyone makes their excuses and it is down to the mother to step up and be who she needs to be.”
“Can she not sleep while the baby feeds?” As if to answer his question, the baby lost contact with the breast and immediately began howling noisily with anguish. Without the energy to even look at what she was doing, the mother absent-mindedly adjusted herself and the baby so that she could carry on feeding.
“Maybe I could go to the toilet if I could just_” muttered the woman in Greek accented English, wriggling slightly to lay the baby on the bed. But the bold attempt was met with howls of disapproval from the baby. “Alright, alright little one. Mummy stay.” The woman went back to staring blankly in front of her.
“Such beautiful, pure human love!” gushed Benamozegh. Persephone was looking thoughtful as the olive grove rematerialized around them.
“Mother, I’m too young to remember, but something tells me that it could have been_”
“Us darling? Yes, it was.” Demeter stared wistfully into the distance. “You fed a lot in those days, but I would not trade a second of that time we had together.”
“And you did that for me_”
“Every night? Yes darling. Difficult but beautiful times.” Persephone looked thoughtful for a while.
“Mother, would you just, hold me again?” she asked sheepishly.
Demeter gently embraced her daughter and the vines in the grove and bushes on the hills, which had been starting to look rather wilted gained a renewed lushness and vitality.