The Soul in Lichfield Cathedral, UK
“Why not? After all, it belongs to him.” Charlie Chaplin, when the Rabbi, who was attending him on his deathbed, said ‘May the Lord have mercy on your soul’
The unfolding soul in Lichfield Cathedral
“Make me a channel of your peace. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; In giving to all men that we receive …” Hymn, adaptation of the Prayer of Saint Francis.
Kabbalah is a Jewish mystical system that, put simply, describes in detail the shape of the heavens and how it affects the earth. It is a synthesis of the deeper truths found within the Torah. The earliest Kabbalah text, Ha’Sefer Yetzirah, is ascribed to Abraham and describes in detail the ‘Tree of Life’, a geomertic set of interconnected ‘divine emanations’ known in Hebrew as ‘Sephirot’. The Sephirot are numbered 1–10 and the 22 interconnecting lines represent the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The lower 7 Sephirot in some ways describe the ‘emotions of the heart’. Abraham’s book also describes a 5 dimensional ‘Cube of Space’, which describes all of space, time and spirituality.
Using the Tree of Life Kabbalah also describes five heavenly worlds, which from lowest to highest are: ‘Action’, ‘Formation’, ‘Creation’, ‘Archetypal/Intimacy’, and ‘Adam Kadmon’. The angels are believed to ascend to heaven and descend to earth using this ladder, mainly using the worlds of Formation and Creation down to the world of Action, represented in Lichfield Cathedral by the Choir (plan below coloured green, yellow and purple). These are populated by two types of angels, those to whom we ask (when we give), and those who give to us (when we ask).
There are higher orders of angels described in Ezekiel 1 represented by ‘Archetypal/Intimacy’ and ‘Adam Kadmon’ in the Lady Chapel (coloured red and clear below), that are seen “running and returning … like lightning”.
Finally, we introduce the idea that, amongst other things, Lichfield Cathedral is an image in stone of the unfolding ‘soul’ as it might look projected into 3 dimensions. Our soul consciousness is that part of us which is indivisible from God, “For the LORD’s portion is his people” (Deuteronomy 32:9). Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (100–160 CE), believed to have authored the Sefer Zohar, whilst hiding from the Romans in a cave for 13 years said, “My soul is one with Him, as one flame, cleaving to Him.” These words are key to us as we try to understand are own connection with the Eternal Infinite Light. In Judaism it is believed the soul is enclothed in the body and reflects the Divine Form.
In this way there are believed to be five parts to the soul:
Yechidah, corresponding to the Kabbalah Adam Kadmon, the closest part to God, and is actually fused with God. It is where all souls are united into one. At this point there is no sepereateness either from God or each other. It is because we are all one at this point that we are taught, in all faiths, the ‘Golden Rule’, to treat others as you would like others to treat you. Chayah, that part of the soul which gazes upon the Divine energy. Neshamah, the part of the soul whose function is the conceptual grasp of intellect. Ruach, the level of revelation of Godliness, whose primary manifestation is the emotions. Nefesh, the lowest level on consciousness and the awareness of the physical body and physical world. It is the life-force of the body but is not responsible for creating the body.
This is your soul’s unfolding, an unfolding from within that is a reflection of your true Self, that in turn becomes a channel for the expression of the Divine. The plan of the Cathedral above shows a gendering of the physical element of the soul, and it is believed that we all have male and female elements. In addition, when we consumate our marital vows it is the Nefesh-Ruach-Neshamah aspects of the couples souls that become fused as ‘becoming one flesh’. Marriage in this way is seen as an essential part of our spiritual evolution. More on this elsewhere.
So what might be the practical application of this knowledge? First, there is our connection with God. At the Yechidah we are competely fused with God as are all other souls, this is the point of Oneness. We can use this to realise for ourselves that in reality there is no seperateness between souls and that we all have the same soul. This is the source of all spirituality and morality in the world.
At Nefesh we have an awareness of our physical being. It is here that we can sanctify the world by taking care of ourselves and others, living in the realisation that we are all one. The simple act of physical, like a hug with someone that need support is an example of using Nefesh.
As discussed in other articles angels often communicate with us in our dreams. They are believed to initially leave our mind and head and ‘ascend’ heavenwards (or descend to deeper levels of our consciousness), holding the information of our prayers. It is when they return that we may find answers to our life’s problems, and is this we see in symbols in our dreams. The next time you have a memorable dream, try and interpret the parts you have seen as projections of yourself, rather than just the characters themselves. If you are sitting at a table eating with old friends, which friends are these, and what part of you would project these friends? If you find yourself in a dream and are trapped in a cave in the middle of a tomato factory and have lost your memory, ask the man sittting opposite you what is going on. Think about what you saw, the objects involved and how they were used, what was said, and how you felt. Perhaps there is an important message in that dream coming to you from another place?
Dr Nick Stafford
Excerpt from “Eye of Heaven. Lichfield Cathedral a Theory of Everything”, published by Unicordia Forest Publishing UK
All the ideas discussed in this article are pure speculation and the author makes no claim to any truth(s) therein.