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Kabbalah: path of language mysticismFor Judaism, the Hebrew language is not simply a communicative medium in the everyday interpersonal sense. It is the vehicle par excellence for encountering God. The Hebrew letters are the agents of creation, and the language becomes the ‘woven fabric’ of reality. In the words of Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla (13th-14th century), “Within the secret of the 22 letters you will find the entire creation of the world, its structure and all its species. All is dependent on the letters.” Mystical practices associated with Kabbalah invariably entail working with the letters in arcane ways in order to imitate the way of God. My own work has investigated such language mysticism both from the perspective of the scientific psychology of mind and in relation to the broader context of Transpersonal Psychology. In this session I outline the role of language in Kabbalah, focusing on techniques directed at attaining higher states, and explore the implications of such language mysticism for a psychology of soul.


Les Lancaster is Professor of Transpersonal Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University, Honorary Research Fellow in the Centre for Jewish Studies at Manchester University, and part of the Adjunct Research Faculty at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, California. He is a past Chair of the Transpersonal Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society, and currently President of the International Transpersonal Association. In addition to various journal articles, Les’ published works include Mind Brain and Human Potential, winner of a Science and Medical Network Best Book Award, The Essence of Kabbalah, and Approaches to Consciousness: the Marriage of Science and Mysticism. He leads courses and workshops internationally in which traditional Kabbalistic practices are integrated with contemporary approaches drawing on brain science and transpersonal psychology.