The Pillar of Smoke's Upcoming Events
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The Pillar of Smoke is pleased to announce our current events, classes, and discussion groups. To apply for any of these classes, or to request more information, you can cantact firstname.lastname@example.org. Class websites will be added as they become available. If you register for an event or class before a time is scheduled, consideraton of your schedule will be made in scheduling. All classes except Merkavah Kabblah and Ritual Craftare available by corespondence, contact email@example.com for more details.
For information on Pittsburgh events, please check our events group here.
- Introduction to the Kabbalah
This is our classic 10 session Kabbalah class, focusing on Luriatic and 4 worlds Kabbalah, as taught by S. L. Mastros.
- Kabbalah and Story Telling
This is a new class, covering most of the same material as our classic class, but told through story, myth, and dialog. Classic materials in a fresh new way. Students will be expected to write and/or tell stories of their own.
- Kabbalah & Afro-Carribean-Catholic Fusion Magics (Voodoo)
Details forthcoming. email for more info.
- Kabbalah & TarotDetails forthcoming. email for more info.
- Kabbalah, Mysticism, & Mathematics
Details forthcoming. email for more info
- Merkavah Kabbalah
This is the work of the Chariot; the real, powerful, mystical practice of Kabbalah begins (and some might say, ends) here. This class requires a previous Kabbalah experience or permission of the instructor, and a signed letter of intent, which includes a commitment to monotheism.
- Book Study: Oriental Magic by Idries Shah. One chapter per week. Each chapter will include one lecture/discussion group, and one ritual working. Rituals will be scheduled astrologically, so times will vary. Ritual participation requires familiarity with general western magical practice. Chapters include: Jewish Magic, Solomon: Magician and King, The Occult in Babylonia, The Arabian Contribution, and Calling the Spirits. Other material may be covered if students so desire and time permits. Some rituals will be done with the Angels, Demons, and Djinn class.
- (Other book studies include Gonzo Judaism by Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein, Wrestling With God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition by Rabbi Steven Greenberg, and Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs.)
- Jewish Magic: Antiquity to the Modern Day
A study of Jewish magical practice, begining with pre-Judaic regional
magical practices, focusing a good deal on Solomonic and Kabbalistic
techiniques, and concluding with a study of modern Jewish magicians and
Witches/Pagans who make Judaism a part of their practice. Designed for
the beginning or intermidiate level magician. For advanced, magicians,
I'd recommed Angels Demons, and Djinn. 6 lessons.
- Angels, Demons, and Djinn
Focuses on evocational and invocational work
with Hebraic spirt-creatures. A Lab in the form of weekly ritual practice
is also avaiable. Some rituals will be done jointly with the Oriental
Magic book study group. Topics covered will include basic angel- and
demonology, the Solomonic grimoires, the dark-mirror method of evocation,
the invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel, and basic warding, summoning,
banishing, and containment methods. A basic familiarty with classical
western magic is assumed. 5 lessons
- Crafting Ritual Tools
This class covers the construction of classical magical tools for practice of Jewish, Solomonic, and Babylonian high magic. Robes/Tallit, Kiddush Cups, and mirrors will be covered, in addition to topics of expressed interest. Supplies must be provided by the student.
- Bread Baking Ritual for Women
The baking of bread has been a powerful testament to the creative power of Woman since time immemorial, and in nearly every culture. The ritual
should appeal to female magicians of any persuasion, though it is based in the Jewish tradition of baking Challah, and the Female Divine manifest in the form of Shekhinah, Queen of Heaven and Earth. Bread is life, home, and earth. The creation of bread is Creation
itself. The baking of bread is a physical reminder of the great power of
Women to create, form, and nurture. Too frequently, in the cause of equality, women are asked to lose orignore those things which distinguish us from men. The main purpose of
the ritual is to examine and strengthen the Woman within women. The ritual is open to all women, and girls old enough to safely handle kitchen equipment (knives, hot ovens, etc)
- Jewish Shamanism
One of our newest classes, covering the role of shamanism in the time of the Prophets, as well as techniques for integrating it into modern Jewish life. Having a preferred method of entering an altered state (e.g. meditation, lucid dreaming, spinning, entheogens, or possibly automatic writing) before beginning the class is suggested, though not required. Email for more information.
- Paradoxy (or: How to Leave a Rabbi Bewildered, Amazed, and/or Impressed)
Another new class, presenting a range of ancient and rabbinic sources about scripture interpretation - specifically, how every Jew is not only allowed but obligated to interpret Torah him- or herself. After all, if the Torah was meant to be understood only one way, it would have vowels. Students must own a good translation of the Torah (in order of preference, Aryeh Kaplan, Everett Fox, Robert Alter, the JPS version, or the New Revised Standard Version) and bring it to each class. Knowledge of Hebrew is very helpful for this class, and may well allow you to teach the instructor a few things. Email for more information.
- Reading the Bible Jewishly
While the Tanakh and the Christian Old Testament share the same original texts, in translation and in emphasis they are entirely different books. This new class focuses on Jewish readings of many of the popular stories in the Torah (Adam and Eve, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc), with particular emphasis on the ways in which the Jewish view of each story differs from the popular Christian interpretation most Americans assume is correct. Often-mistranslated passages relating to magic (Exodus 22:17) and homosexuality (Leviticus 18:23, 20:13) are also discussed. Email for more information.
Holidays and Events (in no particular order)
(For more specific information on dates and times, join our Yahoo group here Click on any holiday that's a hyperlink for photos from our last ritual for that holiday.)
- Kabbalat Shabbat and Oneg Shabbat
Welcome the Sabbath with us in the glory of nature. Friday evenings, weather permitting, in Frick Park - exact dates to be announced on the Yahoo group. Services are mainly in English, and appropriate for people of all levels of familiarty with Jewish prayer service. Each week will include traditional prayers and songs, a drum circle or dance, Torah reading in English, storytelling and divrei torah (discussion of the Torah passage presented), and food. Many weeks additional rituals are presented, mostly concernign the invocation of the Shekhinah. While the ritual is readily accessible to beginners, even the expereinced and learned will find they have somethign to teach, learn, share, or grow in. While these events, are, of course, free and open to everyone, we ask you to bring something to contribute - food, wine, or etc.
Celebrate the reception of Torah with cheesecake and all night story-telling. This year, we're learning about Jews arguing with God, from Abraham to Job (tentative topic).
- Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
Join us for the High Holidays in the circle of trees in Frick Park! First, we welcome the birthday of the world with song, prayer and merrymaking; later, we celebrate the Day of Atonement by expressing our sadness, regret, and frustration (with ourselves and with God) through the words of the Prophets. For Rosh Hashanah, we also do tashlich on Washington's Landing, and everyone can try blowing the Shofar if they like. For information on Rosh Hashanah 2008, please go here.
We begin our night of holy revelry with a ritual assembled from the Song of Songs, followed by a Mediterranean-themed party with old-school party games (think Spin the Bottle and Truth or Dare) and a drunken recounting of the Purim story by whomever feels like doing it this year. Purim is one of the Pillar of Smoke's oldest and most beloved traditions, and one we enjoy wholeheartedly. Limited crash space is provided for those unable to drive home.
We do a fairly traditional Passover seder, complete with a whole roast lamb when possible; as usual in most of our rituals, anyone's free to interrupt to ask questions or add a topical anecdote. Drink your four cups of wine and pick up your keys later.
Assuming we have space in someone's back yard, we'll be building a sukkah next year and eating in it at least a few times. A "sleepover under the stars" is also a possibility, depending on the weather and the availability of good blankets. We plan to perform the water-drawing ritual, as well.
For those not with their families on at least one night of Chanukah (probably most of us), there will be candle-lighting, exchange of shamelessly capitalist gifts, and a screening of The Hebrew Hammer. Dreidel gambling is, of course, mandatory.
- Tu B'Av
For this ancient day of celebration, we host an all-day party / banquet (when possible), or otherwise just a party. Wearing white is strongly encouraged.
Join us for the classic American Jewish Christmas ritual of Chinese food and a movie, every Christmas!
Not a Jewish holiday, but still a fun one. Our Halloween party is of epic proportions, and includes the telling of ghost stories, "Light as a feather, stiff as a board", fun with Ouija boards, bobbing for apples, and pinning the dunce cap on George W. Bush (well, maybe... we'll see). A cheesy horror flick may also be shown, depending on the mood of those who attend.
Events are always being added, so please check in from time to time.