Qoph: A Kabbalistic Analysis of the Dreaming

Full Moon through the door.
Like a camel through the eye
of arcane needle.

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”

The Bible tells the story of a rich man who came to Jesus and asked him how to attain life eternal. Jesus tells him to live a good life by following the Ten Commandments. The rich man declares he already does that, but something is lacking. Jesus then tells him to sell all his possessions, give them to the poor, and follow him. The rich man goes away sad because he knows he won’t be able to do this. Jesus declares two things of importance. One is that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” And two is that, to do what he is asking the rich man to do is impossible for a man, because this transformation is only possible for God.

While most people interpret this passage as either an admonition against greed or as a justification for tithing, the esoteric import goes in a quite different direction. The rich man is complaining that, while his external life is in observation of religious duty, he is not yet complete. Jesus’ answer seems to imply that the existing moral code, the Ten Commandments, should be but a stepping stone to get the man into an abundant and rich life. However, when the rich man asks what he still lacks, Jesus does not give him another code, but simply tells him to let go of something so that completion or perfection can emerge. What most people miss is the fact that the rich man cannot give up his wealth, not because he doesn’t want to, but because only God can produce the type of transformation necessary to let go of what holds him back. If we take the man’s wealth to be a symbol for one’s accumulated experience, the totality of one’s identification with organic life, we can then begin to see the story’s full import.

Now, let’s take a look at the meaning behind these terms. The hebrew for rich and abundant is ashir (Ayin-Shin-Yod-Resh), with a value of 580 in gematria. This is what the man had, yet he is unsatisfied with his mere material success and looks for the sense of profound peace and spiritual completion known as shalom (with a numerical value of 376). To go from ashir to shalom, you extract the difference: 580 – 376 = 204. The value of Bara is 204, which means Son, or Son of God. Therefore, the ending remarks of Jesus when he claims that to do this transformation is impossible for a man but possible for (1) God, he is passing on the formula of this transformation. To do this, however, divine intervention is needed. This divine intervention comes through the seed of God. When the rich man walks away, he is sad because he knows he cannot do this. Exoteric interpretation of the text leads most people to infer that the man is simply greedy. Jesus’ commentary, however, makes it clear that it is impossible for an ordinary person to accomplish what he asks. God is needed.

The esoteric import of this parable is given in the adage: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” This adage gives the formula by which God’s help is invoked. The eye of the needle refers to the path of Qoph, (2) and the camel to the path of Gimel, (3) in the Tree of Life. This passage reflects the Essene teachings by stating that these two paths are connected. Of course, both are ruled by the moon and both are connections between two different triads. (4) Qoph connects Malkuth to Netzach, and Gimel connects Tiphareth to Kether. The former accounts for the connection between Manipura Chakra and our organic body, while the latter shows how the dewdrops of Amrit descend from the back of the head when the ojas are activated by the interaction of Ajna with Vishudda, activating the sacred fluid in the cerebellum. (5) The biblical passage is telling us how the interaction between these two passages is a key to the alchemical transformation. Let us examine each passage briefly and see how they interact alchemically.

In the microcosmos, the path of Qoph connects Manipura with the body. Since the path of Qoph is associated with both the moon and the back of the head, it is the path responsible for dreaming. Jodorowsky, Jung, Campbell and others see dreams as the archetypal language used by the body to communicate with the mind. These images are the oneiric language of the unconscious. Their origin can be just the subconscious mind trying to catalogue and make sense of the raw impressions of that day, or even a registry of current imbalances or impressions on the body. Of course, this path can bypass the conscious mind, and the impressions coming through are not necessarily of a logical nature nor voluntary. They are the dealings between the body and the soul.  

On the other hand, the channel can also carry signals from Netzach to Malkuth. Netzach can receive currents from Hod, Yesod, Malkuth and Tiphereth. Those signals coming from Yesod and Hod can affect our dreaming, of course, with both mental and erotic imagery, but they also open up the possibility of acquiring a conscious relationship with the Dreaming under intent. More importantly, these paths offer the possibility of transforming Qoph from a channel to the subconscious, to a channel to the divine, and the ability to make of the body a temple for God through the arte alchemica. When the path of Qoph is dormant, it serves as the channel for unconscious communication between body and soul. In “The Wake World,” (6) the bride describes her encounter with Qoph as follows: “There were nasty Jackals about, they made such a noise, and at the end I could see two towers. Then there was the queerest moon you ever saw, only a quarter full.” (7) When the moon is waxing, the dreaming is ruled by shadows, phantoms, and chaotic dualistic fluidity. The jackals, of course, are a reference to Anubis in his dual form of Anpu (who opens the road to the land of the subconscious and the underworld) and Ap-uat (who opens the road to the heavens). Anubis, therefore, serves as the guide who takes us through death and sleep, either to the subconscious or to heaven. The two towers they guard signify the path of Peh, (8) and its tower, which is the House of God, is here presented in its duality. Either way, Kephra will bring the sun through to its dawn, whether through the subconscious lands of the dreaming or through the Bardos (9) between incarnations. The sun comes up just as sure as we wake up once again or are reincarnated after the passage of death. However, the passage through this land offers the opportunity of a different kind of rebirth. The key is in the unification of all dualities under intent. This rebirth, as the parable of the rich man suggests, is only possible for God. The sun, of course, is not dead but shining its light on the moon. (10) If the moon is full through this passage, it will reflect the light of the sun and the passage is guided by intent. If Netzach contains the light of Tiphareth, the moon of Qoph will fill up with the light of divine intent and love. Another way to express this principle is to say that, if the Fool (Atu 0), being the only thing that survives the destruction of The Tower (Atu XVI), safely attaches to Netzach, then the path of Qoph will activate and unify soul and body under will. 

The path of Gimel is associated with the full moon. This path connects the Sahasrara Chakra with Anahata Chakra through Sushuma Nadi. It carries the kundalini up to the crown during Dhyana, as well as the Amrit (11) down to the lower chakras, activating them. In the macrocosmos, this is the passage through which the Holy Guardian Angel descends after the union between Chokmah and Binah opens the door of Daleth and gives birth to the Son. In a sense, Qoph connects the body directly with Manipura, just as in the macrocosmos the Earth and its biosphere are directly connected, albeit controlled by the passage and tides of the moon. But the path becomes active only when the moon has become full with the light of the sun. In other words, while the forces of Manipura are always in contact with our body, the path becomes fully active and conscious through Dhyana. Through Dhyana, (12) the solar current illuminates the dark 12 passages of our subconscious and allow body and soul to carry through the will of our spirit. Dhyana resolves the duality and shadows of the subconscious by unification and dissolution, and just like The Fool, survives the destruction of The Tower, the solar will survives the passage through the night. 

Let us examine how exactly the activation of Qoph (13) takes place. The kundalini serpent awakens in Muladhara and ascends to Swaddishtana. In one who is a slave to the sleeping state, this energy will follow the path of wants and organic tendencies. From the point of view of the mind, thoughts that flow and attach themselves to wants, fears, and mechanical tendencies give life to phantoms, kleshas, (14) and illusions. These mechanical thoughts tend to feed the libido and ground themselves in Malkuth through organic, automatic orgasm. A magician, however, learns to send the Kundalini and thoughts through the path of Peh, raising the energy towards Manipura, instead of grounding it. Once in Manipura, the seed planted there finds itself in Netzach, which, since it is at the bottom of the right hand pillar of the Tree Of Life, is pulled up towards the upper branches of the Tree. However, the vibration which connects to Netzach must be in alignment with this sphere or it will be ejected. This point is important, because the thought which leaves Hod (15) does not arrive intact. The Tower is destroyed, and what survives either ascends towards Netzach or is dispersed in Malkuth. This principle points to a fallacy common to those who think that to practice sex magick, all they have to do is think at the moment of orgasm, and what they think will come true. In a sense, they are correct because all thoughts and words give birth to an astral child, (16) but what results of that is not necessarily as the would-be magician imagines. They forget that the conscious word or image they hold will be dissolved once death (orgasm) overcomes the Tower. What remains, however, is the essence of the eidolon held by the intent of the magician.  

Now, in works of lesser magick, the magician can send a seed prayer towards Netzach and, if he succeeds and it is in agreement with the Fates (the Wheel of Fortune), it will ascend as a prayer. The adept who is able to receive Gnosis through the paths of Mem and Ayin (from the waters of Binah and the will of his Sun) can, in turn, send it to Netzach by preparing an adequate vehicle (eidolon or thought form) which will carry his intent. This sacred intent is Bhakti Yoga. It is the type of thought that connects itself to a deity, higher aspiration, or sacred principle. If successful, the intent will lodge itself to the Venusian vibration of Netzach, and naturally ascend. At the same time, this seed of Will constitutes the solar influence which fills the Moon of Qoph with the light of our Sun. As a result, the dream world is now of a different quality. It carries that quality of sacred import. It is not so much the propensity to lucidity, but the atmosphere of a sacred chamber, and the kind of message from the dreaming, that has the touch of spawned genius.  

The Greek word for truth is alethia, which refers to the awakening of the memory of truth. In Hebrew, the word for truth is Emet (Aleph-Mem-Tau), but if we transpose the letters we can obtain Mem-Aleph-Tau, which means from within, as the concept of truth in Greek also implies. The reader will remember that in the first paragraph we discussed how Bara, the Son of God, is what’s extracted when the rich man gives his wealth (Ashir) to attain completion (Shalom).  Bara also means a well. In a sense, the Son has a mystical equivalent to the well, just as the Phallus and the Kteis (17) are equivalent in a complementary sense. 

According to Crowley’s Liber 231, the Fool abides between Asar and Asi, before embarking in his cosmic voyage. This book describes the passage of The Fool through creation, where eventually he comes to destroy and survive the ruins of The Tower; the Holly Virgin (the moon of Qoph) appears after this, transformed. This is the full moon, who is now the Holly Virgin, but used to appear as a scary woman with blood in her teeth. She is now a “fluidic fire” which uses a “thunderbolt”—obvious allusions to the kundalini that now rises up from Swaddhistana to Manipura. At this point, the moon invokes “the Scarab, the Lord Kheph-Ra, so that the waters were cloven and the illusion of the powers was destroyed.” This parting of the waters is reminiscent of the parting of the waters in Genesis, before the creation of the universe. In this case, the sun comes out victorious: “Then the sun did appear unclouded, and the mouth of Asi was on the mouth of Asar.” (18) 

Kephra is what the full moon invokes so that the sun can pass through and emerge unclouded. This is what happens in the path of Qoph when intent is applied through the combination of desire with the love characteristic of Bhakti Yoga. (19) Notice how the path of Resh shows how the “mouth of Asi was on the mouth of Asar.” In the beginning, the Fool resided in joy between Asi and Asar. Now, with the emergence of the Will and its successful passage, these two kiss. The kiss is the ecstasy of union of that which was separated through duality. The redeemer, the Fool, emerges after this process and provides the union now in joy and ecstasy. (20) 

Within the confines of my own temple, I’ve noticed that when the energy moves up from Swaddhistana as a “fluidic fire” and, if the adoration and love towards the sacred eidolon has been kept without disturbance or distraction, there is a bolt of energy, like a light or thunderbolt, that moves from the third eye to the back of the head as I’m drifting into sleep. Without implying or assuming that this is an universal experience or, even, what the text of Liber CCXXXI signifies, it has provided an intimate landmark for the success of the operation within my own body. I know that the same feeling in Hod would, but for an internal tweak of intent and attention, produce the orgasmic release of semen outside the temple. What follows after this is not part of the conscious mind.  Intent is present, yes, but not shrouded by thought or wakeful memory.  

Qoph is exposed in chapter 18 of Aleister Crowley’s The Book of Lies, “On Dewdrops.” While the death mentioned in that chapter is often related to orgasm, it should be more properly understood as Samadhi. (21) However, death is also the passage from wakefulness into sleep. This is why it is Anubis who guards the narrow passage between the towers in Atu XVIII; and this passage is a lower octave of Peh, which is a lower octave of Gimel.  Indeed, in “The Wake World,” the bride describes the path of Gimel as having a beautiful moonlike virgin who reads from a book. The idea of the practice, therefore, is not to hold on to a thought form as if the want is more important than the will. The thought, or word, which is used to propel the will across the void is to dissolve and be surrendered for the seed to survive. “The old life is no more” and what survives is “more He than all he calls He.” (22) One is to let it go free, for one is not “its master, but the vehicle of it.” (23) Crowley tells us to study this chapter along with chapters 1 and 16. These chapters address the casting of the Fool into the Night of Pan (N.O.X.). In the “Sabbath Of The Goat,” (24) the phallus is adored as explained in De Natura Deorum. “Liber 24 Arcanorum” presents the Virgin of God (Daleth) as enthroned on a seashell and seeking “seventy to her four.” Seventy is the path of Ayin (The Devil), which casts the seed of will into the mind and accounts for the love of union the Male experiences for the Female. The four is a door, Daleth, which opens the heaves and allows the Son to descend (the HGA and the Amrit). Now, Chapter 16 describes the path of Peh, and it is in this passage that The Tower is destroyed and, if done properly, the Fool makes his way across the Night Of Pan to be planted in Netzach. 

While the Practicus of the A∴A∴ needs to learn Chastity, the practice of the sexual magick of De Natura Deorum teaches the Practicus that Chastity is only one side of a triangle. Chastity, in yoga, is Dharana. (25) The ability to hold a thought without distraction is akin to the ability to hold the desire in a hard phallus without dissipating the force nor letting it go too soon. However, Dharana is not the telos, the end result. It is a necessary, yet not sufficient, part. Dharana is the discipline that can be accomplished in the left column of the Tree. There has to be a seed, a sacred aim, an aspiration. This is the second part of the triangle. Also, there has to be death. “Neither of these alone is enough.” In the chapter “The Stag-Beetle” of The Book Of Lies, Crowley illustrates the path of Peh and, once again, shows how the three sides of the triangle are necessary. Here, Kephra is invoked by the moonlike Virgin of God. This process, where the adept merges with a deity by adoration throughout his lifetime (i.e., through the life of the phallus), and upon surrender during death, is the Love of Bhakti. This Love is essential for the activation of Qoph. The whole process of De Natura Deorum can be called Dhyana. Dharana, of course, is a necessary component, but the aim is Dhyana, or divine Love. However, one cannot, by the ordinary will alone, bring about such result. All the lower ego can do is hold the seed with impeccability and surrender to death at the right moment. Going to sleep, after adoring the Phallus and its eidolon, without uttering the Word teaches the adept one third of another triangle (to be completed in a higher octave through the Third Step, or the secrets of the IXth degree of the OTO). Dharana can be done through the will of the lower ego, but as we know from Ashtanga Yoga, the aim is the destruction of the thought held in Dharana; and through the destruction emerges the divine contemplation of Dhyana, beyond ego and the conditioned mind. Dhyana is the divine result of the death of Dharana. As Jesus claims of the rich man, only God can do this. He tells the rich man to sell his possessions (i.e., having built his Dharana, cast himself unto the Night so that the kingdom of heaven can descend and make him whole). The results of this first practice are the activation of the back of the head (Qoph) and the subsequent emanation of the Amrit. This is the beginning of the reception of Gnosis, and the result is the first manifestations of spawned genius.  

Most people are familiar with the phenomenon where someone goes to sleep with a pressing problem in mind and, if the issue has been held consistently for a long time in the mind, the dream will provide a solution, which is often described as a stroke of genius. The adept can use this principle consciously and with intent to climb up the mountain and activate the passages of his temple; but more importantly, to gain a connection with God that can guide his inner and outer life. When the rich man addresses Jesus, he explains that he follows the external law, his ethical code, impeccably. However, something is missing. His Yama practice is good, but the Niyama is not quite there. Crowley explains in Liber ABA that Niyama is best understood as virtue. (26) Yama is about the restrictions one places in one’s life (the control of the square); but the circle one must follow is Niyama; which, in regards to one’s external life, is the practice of one’s talent, the manifestation of one’s genius. The path of Qoph is connected to the practice of Niyama. It is through the flow of images and information from the subconscious that the artist, scientist, and innovator of any field draw the material that results in the works of genius that have the thumbprint of destiny. When one understands Qoph as related to Niyama, one can see that that spawned genius will result if the practice of the Adept is tied to his true will and not to mere wants. The Will comes from the Fool, and it is connected to one’s Wheel of Fortune. The result of 27 this practice will bring about works that are an execution of one’s true will (Niyama). The Niyama and the Dhyana are similar principles, albeit in different levels. Niyama is the manifestation of one’s genius, while Dhyana is the inner contact with the source of that light by the altar of the inner consciousness wherein which we seek Truth.

“Love is the law, love under will”

Frater L.M.


1 – Impossible, that is, to a man of the world—which is a man stuck in the material possessions of the sphere of Malkuth, the 10th sephira or emanation of the Tree of Life.

2 – Qoph is the 19th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It means back of the head, but it is often called “the eye of the needle” because of the shape of the letter.

3 – Camel in Hebrew. The letter Gimel is written with a Vav and a Yod at its base. It is a symbol often associated in the ancient world with a rich man running after a poor man (symbolized by the subsequent letter, Daleth) to give him charity.

4 – The path of Qoph connects the third triad of the A.’.A.’., the man of Earth, with the Lover (the second triad of this order). The path of Gimel connects the Lover triad to the Hermit triad (the first triad of the order). This is because of the spheres that these paths connect on the Tree of Life.

5 – This alchemical process is taught in various esoteric teachings of the East, and refers to substance that descends from the pineal gland, transforming the body and the mind.

6 – Crowley, Aleister. Konx Om Pax. I highly recommend this story, “The Wake World,” for an enlightening Kabbalistic account of the Dreaming as an allegorical passage of the dormant human soul through the Tree Of Life towards its awakening.

7 – ibid, pg. 9.

8 – 17th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It means mouth. In the Tree of Life it is connected with Trump XVI, The Tower.

9 – The Western tradition popularly recognizes three transitional states of existence: birth, life, and death. The Tibetan tradition recognizes a fourth state, the in-between state called the Bardo. For an enlightened rendition of this state in the Western World, see American Book of the Dead, by E.J. Gold.

10 – The scene described in “The Wake World” is also depicted in the 18th trump card (Atu XVIII), The Moon, of Crowley’s Thoth tarot.

11 – This is the alchemical sacred substance that transforms ordinary consciousness into divine consciousness. It is the elixir of ecstasy and the healing nectar of the gods.

12 – Dhyana is one of the eight limbs of yoga, and it’s characterized by the mind in a state of silence, illumination, and communion with the true nature of the higher Self.

13 – Qoph is the Hebrew letter that means “eye of the needle,” and it represents the passage in the Tree of Life that connects the physical body (Malkuth) with the intuition and source of emotions (Netzach). Qoph is the wire in the psychic body of humans that is responsible for dreaming. The activation of this wire implies the attainment of lucidity and the infusion of the dream with the sacred light of God.

14 – Attachments or unconscious habits

15 – Hod is the sphere that controls thoughts.

16 – That is, a program in the astral plane that seeks its fulfillment by becoming real in Malkuth

17 – Or, the penis and the vagina.

18 – Liber Arcanorum sub figura CCXXXI.

19 – The Yoga of Devotion, or divine love.

20 – See Liber 231.

21 – The divine ecstasy of union and the ultimate goal of Yoga.

22 – Crowley, Aleister. The Book Of Lies, “On Dewdrops”.

23 – Ibid

24 – Ibid

25 – Holding one thought in the mind, to the exclusion of any other impression, thought, or emotion.

26 – Crowley, Aleister. Liber ABA, chapter “Yama and Niyama.”