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LLEWELLYN'S SPELL-A-DAY

Spell: Golem Lore for the First Day of Hanukkah

Color of the Day
Incense of the Day
 

An interesting myth of Jewish tradition involves the creation of an artificial human through the mysterious magic of the Qabala. The golem is a Frankensteinian creation; however, instead of being merely a reanimated human being or one made of human parts, the golem is altogether artificial and is animated by the use of magical and holy words. The most famous golem legend revolves around Rabbi Loew of Prague. There are several versions of this legend, which is set in the mid-eighteenth century. In most versions, the rabbi creates the golem as a guardian or protector of the Jewish people in the Prague ghetto. But soon the huge creature-built of clay and animated by the secret name of God-runs amok and must be destroyed. In some golem legends it is the Star of David itself that animates the creature, and only the removal of this symbol from the creature's body will cause the havoc to cease. The story of the golem seems to have a moral: that man should not "tamper in God's domain," as the saying goes. It was perhaps meant as a cautionary tale to those who took Qabalistic magic too far from its sacred origins and wished to use it to glorify their own powers. In any case, the golem is a folk legend that spans many centuries, has many versions-including on film, with the silent version from 1915 perhaps the most excellent.

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