Leviathan & Behemot

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Leviathan & Behemot

#1 Postby Tau Malachi » Sat May 29, 2004 10:43 am

The subject of Leviathan and Behemot in the Kabbalah and Gnosticism is a complex one, and certainly extends far beyond what can be written in a brief article here. However, we can give a starting point for contemplation and co-exploration of what Leviathan and Behemot mean.

There is no "th" sound in Hebrew, therefore Leviathan is pronounced Leviatan in Hebrew, a word that means "destruction" or "destroyer." Leviathan is called the Dragon, also the Flying Serpent and Crooked Serpent, and the Great Fish (Great Nun). Behemot means "beast" or "bestial," and is Hebrew for the Great Beast. Grammatically it implies a plurality. Thus, Leviathan and Behemot are the Dragon and Great Beast, Leviathan is said to be female and Behemot is said to be male, and therefore they are often referred to as consorts. Leviathan is associated with water and Behemot with dry land.

The basic meaning of Behemot is relatively straight forward - it is the collective bestial nature that arises in the process of creation, which tends to serve as a backward and downward pull in the evolutionary process; hence the association of the Great Beast with evil and the force of opposition to the dawn of a Christed humanity as expressed in the Book of Revelation. The meaning of Leviathan is not so simple or straight forward, however, but is more complex and sublime.

Essentially, the Force as it manifests in the Entirety, or in the Olamot of Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, is Leviathan, the Great Dragon. The Force as it manifests in the Divine Pleroma is the Spirit of Yahweh. This is one Force, one Life-power, manifest in unity and duality, gnosis and cosmic ignorance. In the entirety there is a Light and Dark Side of the Force, and gradations of admixture of Light and Darkness, but in the Divine Pleroma the Force is Pure Light and Life. In dualism the Force, which is the Creative Power, naturally becomes the Destructive Power; hence the term Leviathan.

According to the tradition there is the Baal Draconis and Baal Shem - the Master of the Dragon and Master of the Name, respectively. These two terms express the possibility of psychic or occult powers that may either be generated apart from the enlightement experience (Christ consciousness) or in conjunction with the enlightement experience. In other words, a black magician or sorcerer can draw upon the power of the Force, just as psychics or mediums can, without being enlightened or seeking to serve the Divine Will and Divine Kingdom; on the other hand, so also can the prophets and apostles of God and the mage of Light. Obviously, one who is Baal Shem, Master of the Great Name of God, is also Baal Draconis, Master of the Dragon. Yet it is possible for one to be Baal Draconis but not Baal Shem. (One merely need consider much of what appears in pop-occultism and certain trends of psychism to understand this - teachings about egoistic acquisition of psychic or magic-power completely devoid of any teaching of enlightement and liberation. In this regard, the name Leviathan for the Dragon or Force speaks for itself - the path of destruction.)

In this light one will understand, however, that the Dragon is not inherently evil - there is a Light and Dark Side to the Force, reflected in teachings of Metatron having a Light and Dark Side in Beriyah. Associated with a Great Serpent, one could say that Leviathan is the Fire Snake or Serpent Power of Hua, the Great Angel of the Lord, and one esoteric teaching tells us that Leviathan is the Serpent Power of Adam Kadmon, the Primordial Human Being. As we know, while the Serpent Power in us is, by nature, a manifestation Divine Power (the Holy Spirit), we also know it can assume very dark and chaotic manifestations when activated in a state of impure consciousness or sever imbalance; hence that the Serpent Power has both a Light and Dark Side. Leviathan as the cosmic or universal level of the Serpent Power thus also has a positive and negative manifestation under the dominion of cosmic ignorance.

In Genesis there is mention of the creation of two Great Leviathans, which the Zohar calls the Flying Serpent and Crooked Serpent - hence Leviathan above and below. This implies a celestial Leviathan and terrestrial Leviathan, or the Force moving through the heavens and the earth. The celestial Leviathan is also called Teli in the Sefer Ha-Zohar, and one may refer to Kaplan's work on the subject to explore this association and what it might imply in more detail.

Ophite Gnosticism and the Naasenes have an interesting association with the celestial Leviathan. There is a diagram of ten circles within one circle - representing Light-emanations akin to the Sefirot of the Tree of Life. The ten are divided into three and seven. The outer circle and the three have a corrspondence to Leviathan and the seven to Behemot. Accordingly, Leviathan is the emanation of the Divine Force and Behemot the emanation of the dominion of the demiurgos (impure emanations) - in these Gnostic teachings, enlightened souls are said to ascend into Leviathan and the unenlightened are said to be devoured or reabsorbed by Behemot.

Pistis Sophia has an interesting teaching concerning Leviathan also, quite the opposite, pointing towards the terrestrial Leviathan. According to the Pistis Sophia, impure souls descend when they die and pass through the body of the Great Dragon that is in the depths in order to be purified, as though through abodes of Gehenna.

There is another interesting association with Leviathan. Leviathan is said to be the klippah or wrathful emanation of the archangel Gabriel, associated with the western quarter of the Sacred Circle, the element of water, as well as the mansions of the moon. (One correspondence of Teli is to the north and south nodes of the lunar poles.) While listed as an arch demon, yet, in the teachings of the tradition, Leviathan is not separate from Gabriel. Rather, Leviathan is the manifestation of the same presence experienced in a state in impure consciousness, which is true of all the arch demons in relationship to the archangels to which they correspond. (Once again, the Light and Dark Side of Metatron, for these are emanations of Metatron, according to the tradition.)

In the Zohar, as in Jewish apocrypha and the Talmud, we hear something very interesting. In dialogues about the Feast of the Righteous in the End-Of-Days we are told this feast is composed of the bodies of Leviathan and Behemot. At the same time the teachings being given on the Feast of the Righteous that occurs in the coming of the Messiah allude to the bread and wine of the Holy Eucharist performed by Melchizedek!

Associated with the Great Fish (NUN), the story of Jonah in the belly of the big fish can become part of one's contemplation on this subject. Likewise, Leviathan appears strongly in the Book of Job, around the 40th chapter, as I recall. One may also wish to contemplate the Hebrew word Nun (fish, or some times translated "serpent") itself, along with its association with Joshua, who is called the "Son of Nun." The Dragon and the Beast in the Book of Revelation can also prove fertile ground.

From the above you will see the complexity of the subject of Leviathan. Obviously, the ideas presented barely scratch the surface of teachings associated with this subject, but they do provide a start to a conversation and contemplation on the topic - to the extent it can be discussed in this medium. So these ideas can get us started and we can see what eventually unfolds...

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#2 Postby Rebekah » Tue Jun 15, 2004 4:45 am


Nun seems to have an association with divine pride and spiritual humility. I'm wondering if Leviathan then refers to the Divine Power, which can be constructive and creative, or destructive and chaotic, all depending on our faith?

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The Great Nun

#3 Postby Tau Malachi » Tue Jun 15, 2004 6:48 am

Greetings Rebekah!

Yes, on a certain level there is a connection with spiritual self-worth
and spiritual humility. If one contemplates the largest passages about
Leviathan and Behemot in the Scriptures (Job, chapters 40 & 41) the issue
of why these two principles have been brought up directly relates to a
balance between spiritual self-worth (or divine pride) and spiritual
humility, and they are used to indicate the awesome power of God, the
Creator. Linked with God the Creator they are linked with the divine name
Elohim, which as we know is the name of God the Mother. Thus, these two
principles must be manifestations of the power of the Mother, Elohim.

According to Job 40:19 Behemot is the "first of the great acts of
Elohim," which alludes to the creation of a Void Space at the outset of
creation produced by the tzimtzum or God's constriction of Godself to
make a space for creation to come into being. In this sense it becomes
connected to the idea of the primordial womb in which creation is
conceived and from which it is born; hence the power of the Primordial
Mother. Until the creative act is initiated however, lacking any pattern
or order, there is Chaos in the Void - but this Void and Chaos are the
potential of all creation when coupled with the Supernal Light of Ain

Nun is spelt Nun-Vau-Nun, and one Nun may be said to represent Leviathan
and the other may be said to represent Behemot, Vau being the secret link
between them. Thus, Behemot comes forth from Leviathan, and these
primordial principles are inseparable, the Chaos and Void within which
the Spirit of Elohim moves to create. Essentially, before anything new
can be created, what was must pass into the Chaos and Void, which is to
say that Destruction is an integral part of Creation. Thus, the Kabbalah
says countless universes were created and destroyed in the process of the
creation of this universe.

Basically speaking, Leviathan is an aspect of Kali Imma, the Black Mother
or Dark Face of Elohim, and Behemot is a masculine aspect that emerges
from her in the creative process. Creation cannot occur without these two

Nun is an interesting word. Nun equals 50, but as a final letter it
equals 700. Nun, when the last Nun is not counted as a final, is 106, but
fully counted it is 756. According to the Kabbalah there are 50 Gates of
Binah-Understanding (or of Elohim), and from Binah the Seven Sefirot of
Construction come into being, the full power of which is 700. Tiferet is
the heart of these, which is the 6th Sefirah - here is the power of the
Great Nun, the Force which has both a Light and Dark Side.

The zodiacal sign of Scorpio corresponds to Nun, as does the Tarot Key of
Death, which as we know indicates birth. Scorpio is the fixed sign of
water, and the Scorpion is associated with a secret principle of fire in
water; hence the idea of occult or hidden powers. Also, we are aware of
the association of Christ with the Fish (Nun), and the Fish said to be in
the Jar of the Water-bearer (Aquarius), which is the symbol of the Age of
the Holy Spirit or Aeon of the Bride and Mother Spirit - the time of the
Second Coming.

Leviathan is integral to all of these ideas - to all of these principles
and how they play out in creation. If we assume a connection between the
Dragon in Revelation and Leviathan, when the Dragon and Virgin of Light
appear together in the 12th chapter, there is a suggestion of karmic
vision versus pure vision, as though what is seen depends upon the one
who is looking, much like what you indicate in your question - one Holy
Shekinah, peaceful, blissful or wrathful, depending on the state of
consciousness in which she is encountered.

If we look into Psalm 74, around verses 13 & 14, there we find an
indication of creation drawn out of Leviathan, as though her body is torn
open and the substance of creation pours forth. (This passage reflects
the ancient Mesopotamian myth of Tiamat, the primordial Mother-Dragon,
whose belly is torn open and from which this universe is thus generated.)
Taken in this light, in Leviathan we are looking at the awesome Creative
Power of God the Mother, which is also a terrible Power of Destruction.
The truth is one cannot separate out Creation from Destruction, certainly
not at the level of Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah.

Now in Nun there is a great secret, one connected with the crucifixion
and resurrection, and the fruition of the Second Coming, for Nun means
the "death of death," or the "destruction of destruction"; hence, the
End-Of-Time or dawn of the Eternal Day, the Day of Be-With-Us. Meditation
on the letter Nun can reveal insights into this supreme mystery - the
mystery of Transcendence and Eternal Life. It is the rectification of the
lower worlds in the World of Supernal Light; hence the Feast of the
Righteous as stated in the Zohar.

So, here, our contemplation unfolds a bit further...

Blessings & shalom!
Tau Malachi

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Behemot and Leviathan as symbols of the paths Ayin and Nun

#4 Postby Night » Mon Sep 06, 2004 12:58 pm

Based upon my current knowledge of the kabbala I feel that behemot and leviathan may be related, symbolically, to the paths of ayin and nun respectively.

Leviathan, for instance, is called a dragon/serpent. The serpent is a symbolic form of scorpio the astrological attribution of nun. "Great Fish" or "Great Nun" it is also important that leviathan is called "the destroyer." Nun is ths path of the tarot card death after all. Pistis sophia also says souls of the dead pass through the great body of the dragon to be purified. It is said that the conciousness passes through the path of nun, where the ego is disincarnated, on its way to tiphareth prior to rebirth.

Behemot on the other hand seems to have symbols of manifestation attatched to it. As when you wrote "it is the collective bestial nature that arises in the process of creation, which tends to serve as a backward and downward pull in the evolutionary process." Ayin bears the title "lord of the gates of matter." Also behemot can be seen as related to the demiurge, the creator. The demiurge has been associated with saturn astrologically. Saturn is also the ruling planet of capricorn the astrological correspondence of the path of ayin. It is easy to see how saturn's restrictive influence relates to the egos incarnation in the world of form, one aspect of this path. The meaning of the name behemot itself also relates to the path because it represents also the bestial side of our being. For this reason the tarot card the devil was chosen to represent this path represnting the danger of the path, domination of the material over the spiritual.

So looked at in this sense the behemot and leviathan can be seen as the two guardians on the way to tiphareth conciousness. As these two paths are on either side of the path of samech on the middle pillar that connects yesod to tiphareth. Behemot and leviathan, The Devil and Death, two imposing figures that must be faced on the way to enlightenment.

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Pathways & Guardians

#5 Postby Tau Malachi » Wed Sep 08, 2004 12:50 pm

Greetings Night!

Yes, one certainly can draw a correspondence between Ayn and Behemot, just as one can between Nun and Leviathan - which point to ignorance and the illusory appearance of death that must be overcome to bring the Gnostic experience to fruition. This association, of course, points to the different levels of the play of Leviathan and Behemot as indicated by the three Veils on the Tree of Life: Qeshet, Paroket and the Abyss.

At the level of the Abyss Leviathan and Behemot are cosmic principles, or principles of the collective consciousness; at the level of Paroket, which the paths associated with Ayn, Nun and Samek "cross," it indicates these same principles as they manifest in the individual. The level of Qeshet would therefore be the constantly changing display of appearances while under the dominion of these two principles.

Along the lines of what you mention there is an interesting question: How do these principles play themselves out in the first and second dark nights of the soul? You see, there are two cycles of reintegration in our evolution towards supernal or Messianic consciousness. The first is the reintegration of our personality and life-display to the Light-presence (Christos) within us, and then the reintegration of the Light-presence into the Light-continuum (Living Father). The dark nights of the soul are, essentiallly, the ordeals of this reintegration process. Leviathan and Behemot must have some role in both.

The association of Leviathan and Behemot with the demiurgos also invokes an interesting contemplation, as though they are two aspects or powers of the demiurgos...one seemingly celestial and the other material.

Guardians indeed! :D

Blessings & shalom!
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#6 Postby Phillip » Sat Sep 11, 2004 9:10 pm

In Kabblistic study, I'm always interested by the dual connotations of the symbolism. You seem to be alluding to this in your response to Night, and I'm hoping you might elaborate. You seem to allude to the idea that when dispersed and not integrated to the light prescence, they are these archonic, dark characters that they appear to be. What are these forces, when they are integrated to the divine prescence within the individual? What are they when this light prescence is integrated to the light continuum?

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The Transformation

#7 Postby Tau Malachi » Sun Sep 12, 2004 10:06 am

Greetings Gnostic!

Indeed, Leviathan and Behemot are one thing under the veil of cosmic ignorance (dominion of the demiurgos), yet another in the awakened consciousness. In terms of the individual and the integration of the personality and life-display into the Light-presence these seem to have a correspondence in the twin forces of the Serpent Power, which is the Holy Spirit Power in us. In terms of the experience of integration of the Light-presence into the Light-continuum it is an awareness of these twin forces within everyone and everything - hence the cosmic manifestion of the Serpent Power. Of course, in our mystical and symbolic language Leviathan and Behemot are specifically these twin forces manifest in ignorance or in an unconscious state - in the awakening are they not forces of Logos and Sophia?

Now that said, the Dragon, Leviathan, is in essence the Spirit of Yahweh, but beheld under the cosmic illusion of separation (the very cause of "destruction") - when a full and true Christ consciousness dawns, and the Sacred Unity underlying all things is realized, all apparently "dark" or "admixed" forces disappear and all is beheld as this One Light-force or Life-power.

Leviathan is basically a "celestial" manifestation and Behemot a "terrestrial" manifestation of the same Force, and of course, the two are really inseparable; hence why instead of Behemot there are often references to two Leviathans or two Dragons in the Kabbalah.

Blessings & shalom! :)
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#8 Postby Zeke » Fri Aug 26, 2005 1:05 pm

"The Teli in the Universe is like a king on his throne." Sefer Yeizirah 6:3

Teli is the Pole Leviathathan, often associated with the constellation of Draco. It is idenitified as the head of the Universe, the King over all and the divine beard; relates to Shin, One of the 3 Mothers, the Fire. Teli is also mentioned in Gen 1:21, Job 26:13 and Isaiah 27:1. :wink:

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The Leviathan

#9 Postby Elder Sarah » Sun Aug 28, 2005 8:38 am

Greetings Zeke,

It is curious to contemplate that the Sefer Yetzirah is acctually bringing up two Leviathans, the pole serpent and the crooked serpent. The pole serpent seems to bring up the idea of the serpent power uplifted and redeemed, while the crooked or coiled serpent suggest the serpent power in it's unregenerated state. This idea plays out in the point in Genesis that you brought up. The creation of the sea monsters with which the waters swarm is happening on the fifth day of creation. the Fifth day is where all the "swarms of living creatures" are created. In the story of the seven days of creation it is interesting to contemplate the days of creation lined up with each other such that the first day and the fourth day line up, the second day and the fifth day, and the third day and the sixth day. The seventh day then becomes the totality of all the days. In this we see that the second day and the fifth day hang out together. The second day is the day in which God does not say, "It is Good" hence this is the day in which judgement comes into being. This is also the day in which the waters are separated hence the day in which the serpent becomes two, the coiled and the pole or the celestial and terrestrial serpent.

In both the points of Job and Isaiah in which you brought up there seems to be a sort of redemption being spoken of. One can also see this taking place in Numbers 21:6, where the Lord sends out poisonous serpents among the people and the serpents bite the people killing them. In order to redeem this situation the Lord tells Moses to make a poisonous serpent made of bronze and set it on a pole so that whenever one was bitten they could direct their attention on the image of the bronze serpent and this would make them to live. When one contemplates what this image would look like it appears to be in the Image of the Cross. The image of the Cross brings up another point in the Gospels that seems to relate, Mark 16:17, where Yeshua appears to the Disciples after the Resurrection and he says to them, "And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons: they will speak in tougues; they will cast out poisonous serpents; and they will drink deadly things and it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick and they will recover".

It appears that the Cross is just this, a point of focus in which the serpent power can be redeemed, can be offered-up to the Holy One of being. The Cross unites the Two serpents making them One. Such that it is said in the Sefer Yetzirah, "From each hair in the Divne Beard of Zer Anpin, there hangs the universe. Each of these universes is also related to a letter in the Torah. According to this, the Teli denotes the "hair" in the Divine Beard from which our universe "hangs". This is the axis around which the universe revolves." In the same way Yeshua "hangs" on the Cross as the universe in the Crucifixtion and in this act the World is redeemed.

Many Blessings and Shalom!

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#10 Postby Tau Malachi » Mon Aug 29, 2005 10:36 am


Yes, indeed, what the Sefer Yetzirah says about Teli and the commentaries that connect Leviathan prove quite delightful in the contemplation.

The association of Teli with the Pole Star is very interesting, for it points to a certain level of the Tree of Life – according to the Kabbalah the spiritual energy of the Holy Sefirot at the level of Asiyah are is transmitted by the sun, moon, planets and stars. The Beard of Zer Anpin is the spiritual energy of the Sefirot at the level of Yetzirah flowing out into the Sefirot at the level of Asiyah – hence, the flow and ebb of spiritual and psychic energy in the Realm of Becoming, which is rooted in the Sefirot at the level of Beriyah (the level of the Tree of Life at which the Demiurge or Leviathan comes into being).

Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah represent progressively greater restrictions upon the Light of the Infinite, and therefore increasing levels of admixture and darkness in the Matrix of Creation. The nature of all that appears in the Great Matrix is impermanent, and thus it is rightly said that Leviathan/Destruction “rules” over all; all is determined by the flows and ebbs of spiritual and psychic forces within and behind the material dimension.

There is also a teaching in the Sefer Yetzirah of Teli as the lunar nodes – lunar poles, which points directly to the flows and ebbs of spiritual and psychic forces in the astral tides.

We may say, until the Serpent is uplifted and redeemed, we remain bound to the flows and ebbs in the play of spiritual beings-forces that form the Great Matrix – bound to the dominion of the Demiurge (Leviathan). Essentially, the Resurrection and Ascension represents the Great Exodus from the Matrix (the Gilgulim); hence, the enlightenment and liberation of souls.

Is Leviathan, in fact, the Gilgulim, or the Force that spins the Wheel of Life, Death and Rebirth? This is what the masters of the Tradition have proposed. :wink:

May the Mother Spirit lead us in the Great Exodus, amen.

Blessings & shalom!
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