Abraham Abulafia lecture outline

Here is the outline of a lecture, given at Treadwells in London on November 30, 2009:

Structure of the talk:

1. Introduction [5 mins]
2. Context of Abulafia’s life, contemporaries, writings [10 mins]
3. Abulafia’s techniques [20 mins]
4. Experience of ecstasy and prophecy [15 mins]
5. Influences – other Kabbalists, Christian Cabbala, books (Bee Season, Foucault’s Pendulum), film, poetry) [5 mins]

Abraham Abulafia, 13th century mystic, a prolific author of many texts on Kabbalah. Setting off at a young age to seek the lost tribes, he instead toured Europe and even attempted to convert the Pope whilst visiting Rome. Studying and teaching Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation), he focused on permutations of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet to gain divine prophetic experiences. Abulafia espoused a different strain of Kabbalah to the theosophists and theurgical Kabbalists of his time, advocating an ecstatic path, with influences from Yoga, Sufism, and hesychasm. He influenced Christian Kabbalists, notably Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Giogio Veneto. Recently Abulafia’s ideas have been brought back in to the limelight by Gershom Scholem Moshe Idel. Abulafia’s meditations also featured in Myla Goldberg’s novel, ‘Bee Season’, made into a feature film in 2005 featuring Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche. Tonight’s speaker is an avid student of kabalistic texts both academic and practical who has been building his library collection in odd corners of his house for over five years. He has been a fan of Abraham Abulafia since he first came across his name and is slowly working on translating one of his works in to English. This talk has been inspired by a desire to share insight in to ecstatic Kabbalah and its practices.

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