Usually when we discuss contact or communication with non-human spiritual beings, various species of either angel or demon are invoked. There are many different types of angelic or demonic beings, but are there other entities which we can tap into and communicate with? According to Rabbi Yosef Tirshom, author of the Sefer Shoshan Yesod Olam, the answer is yes. In this post we will explore and translate snippets of Shoshan Yesod Olam discussing how to communicate with otherworldly entities from outer space. So, what sort of creature will we be dealing with? For lack of a better term, I suppose we must refer to them as extraterrestrial aliens.
Shoshan Yesod Olam is a mammoth collection of Practical Kabbalah/Jewish magic written in the 15th century most likely in the Byzantine Empire (based on the script) by an otherwise unknown kabbalist Rabbi Yosef Tirshom. This tome really deserves a post in its own right, thus we will just focus here on the selection I would like to share.The section of Shoshan Yesod Olam begins on the bottom of fol. 218 and goes till the bottom of fol. 220.
Section 501 fol. 218-220
This operation can only be performed in the month of Nissan or Tishrei. One is to designate a basement in which the floor and foundation is smooth without any crevices or holes, without openings and clean. On Tuesday or Wednesday night, beforehand while it is yet day, you are to take a new knife or sword and make on the ground similar to a circle yet with edges squared [Note: based on the illustration in the manuscript, the intent is a rectangle] as the four corners of the Earth. However, the eastern side should not be closed off, but rather an opening is to be left like so:
Designate three small couches each one being a cubit in length and width. It’s legs should not be high, but of same size. Place each couch in the “circle” as so: one in the south-east corner, the second in the east-north corner and the third in the middle of the west. [Note: based on the diagram, the three little dots correspond to the couch locations] You are to sit outside [the rectangle] and if you see people with strange faces, do not be bewildered for it is not their nature to cause harm, unless ones sins cause it to do so. [What follows is a lengthy prayer to God, entreating God to instruct the following:] ….
…. and I request from your holy name, may it be your will O trustworthy God, that you command Galitzur, Hadarniel and Nahgiel lofty princes who are close to the dwellers of the “Teli” that they send them to me that I adjure that they come to me pleasantly and not angrily, willingly and not foaming mad, that they not frighten nor bewilder me or confuse my mind. Rather, that they speak pleasingly to me of all that I inquire from them. That they speak clearly, gently without confusing me nor speaking in riddles. All that they tell me I should remember and after they have told me all the needed information that they leave peacefully in love and friendship and that they not hurt me neither in anger or rage. …
[further prayers to God to adjure various angels in charge of the seven gates of heaven ending with the angel in charge over the inhabitants of the “Teli” …] … and command Zangziel the prince [“Sar”, prince or officer], minister of El Elion [=the High or Supernal God] Prince [“Nasi”, or president] of the inhabitants of the “Teli” … [further adjurations similar to above to ensure the safety of the practioner and the accuracy of the answers] …
… afterwards if they do not wish to leave tell them: My teachers, go with life and peace. After they have left, sweep the basement and no one may enter it the [next] day for there is danger of Mazikin [“Damagers”, usually a reference to demons] that have been there that night. Afterwards, you may go home. If they give permission to reveal [their answers] to others you may reveal, otherwise you may not. This may may be done twice a year.
And this is the matter: there is a location under the firmament named “Vilon” which has a place under it named “Teli” where creatures similar to humans reside there. They conduct themselves in purity like angels and they have permission to reveal themselves to humans whom God wishes to reveal Upper and Lower secrets and future events.
That’s the end of this section from Shoson Yesod Olam. We’re going to explore the following points. What and where is the “Teli”, where is the “Vilon” that the Teli is in and what are these creatures.
As our text describes the Teli as beneath the Vilon, let’s begin our investigation with locating Vilon. The Talmud (Chagigah 12b) notes that there are seven heavens; each with it’s own name and function. According to many of the old Rabbinic commentaries the first two described are physical while the remainder are spiritual. The Talmud states:
“Reish Lakish said: There are seven firmaments, and they are as follows: Vilon, Rakia, Sheḥakim, Zevul, Ma’on, Machon, and Aravoth. Vilon, [literary “curtain”] is the firmament that does not contain anything, but enters at morning and departs in the evening, and renews the act of Creation daily, as it is stated: “Who stretches out the heavens as a curtain [Vilon], and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in” (Isaiah 40:22). Rakia, firmament, is the one in which the sun, moon, stars, and zodiac signs are fixed, as it is stated: “And God set them in the firmament [Rakia] of the heaven” (Genesis 1:17).”
According to the Talmud, Vilon seems to be something like the outermost layer of the atmosphere, maybe even the exosphere or perhaps the ozone layer. Right above this Vilon “curtain” is the next section of heaven, the Rakia, which is outer space containing the stars.
Now, keep this in mind as we discuss the Teli.
The word Teli denotes something hanging or suspended and is mentioned in the sixth chapter of Sefer Yetzirah, one of the most ancient and fundamental works of kabbalah. Sefer Yetzirah states:
“The Teli in the universe is like a king on his throne.
The Cycle in the year is like a king in the province.
The Heat in the soul is like a king in war.”
Sefer Yetzirah is an extremely enigmatic text with dozens of commentaries attempting to unravel its mysteries. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan has written an excellent commentary in English culled from the authentic commentaries. The following points on the Teli are from pages 231-244 of his book. The Teli is Pole Serpent mentioned in Job 26:13 “By his spirit the heavens were calmed, His hand pierced the Pole Serpent” and in Isaiah 27:1 “ On that day, with His great, harsh sword, God will visit and overcome the Leviathan the Pole Serpent and the Leviathan the Coiled Serpent, and He will kill the dragon of the sea.” This Teli is understood to be the Pole Serpent of the Bible which is recognized as being the constellation Draco which weaves its way through all the houses of the zodiac. Thus, it can be said all twelve zodiacal constellations are suspended from the Teli/Draco serpent. There is much more fascinating discussion in Rabbi Kaplan’s commentary and I encourage you to read it. In fact, he even alludes to the existence of these beings living on the Teli.
Now, we discussed that the stars are located in the second heaven of Rakia. If The Teli is indeed the constellation of Draco, how then can our section of Sefer Shoshon Yesod Olam state “there is a location under the firmament named Vilon which has a place under it named Teli”? I would suggest the following –first of all, what does “under Vilon” even mean? Beneath the Vilon is the physical Earth! However, looking at the shape of Draco it appears to rise up and come back down again leaving a space in the middle of sorts. As Rakia rests on directly on top of Vilon, Teli/Draco’s empty spot where it curves leaving a location which would be under Vilon in the sense that it is empty –empty that is except for the creatures living there “on the Teli” meaning that part of the Teli which is where it is near Vilon. If you think about it, “under” versus “above” is all relative to one’s location. Here's an image of Draco in relation to the zodiac from Rabbi Kaplan's commentary:
Regardless, I think this is not imperative to locate exactly where this is as I don’t even know if our current scientific instruments would even be able to detect them. It’s interesting to note that even Maimonides considered stars having their own intellect. In fact, its even possible to call down and speak with a star! I had transcribed the ritual in my treatise Magnus Liber Sigillorum (Sefer Chotamot Rabba) section 270: “The adjuration to see and communicate with a star.” Interestingly, that ritual also requires a magic circle in square room with specific furniture.
Regarding these creatures, let’s review what we know: 1) They are similar to humans with strange facial features, 2) they inhabit the Teli, 3) they are pure like angels 4) They know many secrets including the ability to foresee the future and 5) twice a year during either Nissan or Tishrei they can be contacted by humans under certain conditions. I presume the intent is once in Nissan and once in Tishrei, not twice in one of those months. Interestingly, although not demonic, their presence generates a demonic presence or residue in the basement for the remainder of that night. Perhaps using the knife/sword in creating a “circle” (and curious isn’t it that although there is a word for square in Hebrew it’s still described as a circle that is squared off!) for the Teli visitors might allow demons to slip in as well afterwards? Regardless, the Teli visitors are not demons, angels or humans. So, what sort of sentient being are they? They are, in the literal sense, extraterrestrial aliens!