Alef – Kabbalah in Movement
“Within the secret of the twenty-two letters you will find the entire creation of the world, its structure and the fullness of lifeforms … no created being can fully grasp their infinite depths.
Joseph Gikatilla (1248-c.132)
Embodying the “secrets” of each Hebrew letter in a series of movement forms is a challenge that has engaged me over several decades.
The challenge is not simply to enact the letter shapes but to use ritualized movements to convey the inner teaching of each letter. Working with these movements brings a way of knowing that goes beyond what can be achieved with words. Words strain under the burden of conveying meaning. Through the movements, the body embraces that meaning and opens us into a transformative ritual space … the dance of creation.
Each letter constellates a complex array of meanings which conveys the core characteristics of a specific function of consciousness. These archetypal meanings have been transmitted through the letters’ shapes, their numerical values, and the verbal roots associated with their names. When the code of its letters has been deciphered, the alphabet can be understood to relate a story. It is the narrative of creation, of humankind’s place in creation, and the quest to reflect consciousness back to the Source.
The story commences with the originating Oneness devoid of any polarity, static in its nonduality.
The first letter, Alef echoes the primordial contraction that disturbed that oneness, bringing potential into existence. Alef is the silence behind all that is, yet paradoxically strikes a preliminary dynamic balance to seed the outward arc of creation. A verbal form deriving from its name means to ‘teach’, intimating that the teaching is entwined with this seed of creation. Alef depicts the breath that brings all into being.
As we move with the Alef it takes us on a journey. First, finding a space in which we can be still, emptying ourselves of the things that bind us. We connect our breath to the divine name Ehyeh that depicts the unfolding of being – the process of becoming, the heart connecting above and below. The Alef movement proceeds to explore energy flows—the primordial, chthonic energy associated with the earth, and how the quality of the energy transforms as we reach upwards. Eventually, the movement stabilizes into a posture of dynamic potential, one hand cupped beneath the heart to receive and the other stretching upwards towards an unknown Source.