Hi Li’l Britney
Hi Madonna. Why are we here today?
A good question Missy. Its time for you to be initiated into the secrets of the Qabalah.
The Qabalah? Isn’t that weird Jewish stuff?
Britney! I hope you respect the Jews.
I do. I love all the people of the world. Why can’t we have peace?
Perhaps the Kabalah can help us answer that question.
Really. Let’s start at the beginning. Kabalah more or less means ‘tradition’, and is a bundle of teachings that’s been passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth.
I didn’t like that mouth thing we did. It made me feel dirty.
Don’t worry dear. You’ll like it more when you grow up.
So it’s a Jewish tradition, like passover, or neurosis?
Yes. However, gentiles have taken parts of the tradition for themselves. The hermetic humanism of the Florentine renai…
Some people in the 15th century believed in God, and Jesus, but they tried to think about more mysterious things. They wanted to know how the universe was engineered, and how its nastiness can be made better.
So no more kittens have to die?
That’s right. They wanted to see into soul of man, the little universe, and into the soul of the universe, man writ large. They used tools from all sorts of traditions to explore this. They looked at Greek myths, and mathematics, and Roman architecture, and alchemy, and they looked at what the Jews believed.
Yes, it was rather. Now, this flourished for a while, and then went underground. The mob, and the narrow-minded priests thought that it was witchcraft, when they were really trying to find out about life, and restore a world that was in a fallen state. Was that fair?
No, that makes me sad.
No-one ever really forgot. Scholars kept the learning alive, and those who really wanted to know could know.
Cool! Will you teach it to me?
That’s what we’re here for, sweetie. Now, look at the picture.
See how there are basically three columns?
On the left, you have form. On the right force. they meet and integrate in the middle.
Hit me one more time?
Form is the shape and order of things – the roundness of a ball, the logical structure of language, the laws of society. Force is the energy that fills these things – mass, or will. Reality happens through their interaction.
That’s deep! I bet Christina’s never had a thought this deep.
No, nor Mandy Moore either. My early rivals, such as Cyndi Lauper, have never really contemplated these issues adequately. Even I was studiously ignorant in my early days.
So what do the little circles mean?
Those are the sepiroth. They represent stages or states in the form and force relationship. Imagine total reality, the moment, as a lightning bolt that zips down through them, top to bottom.
I don’t understand.
We’ll start at the beginning. Look at the one at the top.
Kether? Who’s that in the picture?
Omigod! You were soooo cute!
Ah… never as cute as you. But look, I was just undifferentiated energy then. I was just potential, nothing real: but I had the universe that was me within me. It’s hard to be clear about this – the tree is tricky to talk about when we’re this high up. But that’s Kether, our first principle. Now look at Hokhma.
What are you doing there?
We’re looking at me singing Holiday and Borderline. The tree isn’t going to represent my career chronologically, but it’ll be useful for a little bit. We want to see my pure energy – I think I’ve released better singles than these, but they’re my first blast of power, the force of me coming out. Simple energy, as yet unshaped into the world that the world knows as me.
So that might be some demos I cut after the Mickey Mouse club?
Yes, I suppose so. It’s difficult to conceive of your prehistory though. ‘Baby’ feels so complete.
Thanks! Is it Binah next?
It is. Here you see me in the Papa don’t Preach video.
And that’s because…
It’s a song about pregnancy, and Binah is the womb of reality, the place where form has potential for existence. It waits for Hokhma to impregnate it with energy and make a reality. That leads us straight down to Chesed, and the world proper. You’ll see that the illustration is from my American Life single. It’s there for a couple of reasons – it was one of my reinventions, of course, but do you see how I’m dressed as a revolutionary? How radical politics is part of me here?
I’m not really allowed to talk about politics. I love my country.
This is the sephira of revolution, change, and the energy needed to cause revolution. It gives inspiration, and a vision beyond oneself. A Napoleon is driven by the impulses of Chesed, or a Lenin.
I love the Beatles. My mom cried when George died.
Its complement is Gevurah, across from it. You’ll see the image is from I’m Breathless.
The soundtrack to Dick Tracy?
I’m sorry. It’s not ringing a bell.
Hmph. Never mind. I’ve chosen the image to represent order – it’s an image of justice and restraint. Gevurah is about limits and conservation, it’s the principle that keeps things as they are. Dick Tracy is a detective, a force of law; and my single, Hanky Panky was all about punishment, spanking. Chesed and Gevurah are at odds and in balance. It’s difficult to explain to you my sweet, perhaps because you’re not yet a woman of grand experie…
Is it like when you reinvent yourself as a more adult performer, perhaps with a sexy r’n’b edge, but you have to make sure that you don’t alienate your core demographic?
You are a fine pupil, Britney, wise beyond your years.
Thanks! This stuff is so cool. So What’s that in the midd – ohmigod I love that album!!!
That is The Immaculate Collection, my greatest hits volume one. It is chosen to represent Tipheret, the great work, and the integrated individual. Here we’re coming down to the level of a person. If they’re ascending, they can perfect themselves, and thereby lose themselves. My Magnum Opus is The Immaculate Collection. It’s the thing that has allowed me to transcend, and I recognise it as the room that’s at the centre of me.
You’re so deep Madonna.
Yes, Britney, I am. This is a complex sephira, and one that must be studied at length. You will have to find your own great work.
I have a clothes line coming out this Fall.
Perhaps that is your destiny, rosebud, perhaps… Let us move on! We are on the level where Netzach and Hod are paired.
Netzach is your dirty album. I don’t like your dirty album
Not even a little?
I sometimes get a little tingle when I think about it.
Listen to that tingle! That’s why Erotica is here. We want to represent lust, will, drive and hunger, the raw materials of creativity. This is the drive of the individual.
Which makes Hod restraint?
Almost – It’s language, reason, and order. That’s why my new book, The English Roses, is there. Many of the lessons that one can learn from intense study of these esoteric materials are contained within – but it stands here mainly for language and the rational, the structures that contain our urges.
That makes sense. It’s like the little voice that tells me not to let Fred touch me.
Listen to that voice.
Yesod and malkhut?
Our final two. Yesod is the world seen magically. It’s about the connections in life, the relationships under the surface. There’s a correspondence between air, the East, the suit of swords, Thoth, the colour yellow, the angel Raphael,an octahedron, and Spring. This is revealed in Yesod, and Yesod is where we can manipulate the world by these means. I have used the magical sephira of yesod to make Missy Elliott like me; I have used it to make people print the picture of our kiss; and I will use it to rule the music world once again. It is where ‘Into the Groove’ and ‘Hollywood’ come together, and where our mystic union actually took place.
Woah. That’s kind of creepy.
But also cool.
Yeah. So what’s next?
Malkhut is the world, the fully differentiated world of plain old objects. It’s quotidian reality as the mass of humans understand it, poor fools, the unmagical combinations of matter that we see around us. Transcending this gives us our power.
So that picture’s from…
Uh. I get it. What’s next?
Enough for now, my sweet. In my next lesson, I’ll teach you to reach enlightenment by ascending the tree.I will also explain the Klippoth, the empty shells that are the vicious side of the Sepiroth. I shall be using my Movie career to illustrate.
O.K. See you next time Madonna!
See you next time, Britney!
Mostly cribbed from the learned Kabalists at Digital Brilliance.