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Recommended Books

February, 1997

"Entertainment Qabalah "


Kung Fu: The Legend Continues - the television episode where Peter Caine accepts Mastery.

Star Trek Classic - The Enemy Within - the television episode where Kirk is split into Wolf and Lamb by a transporter accident.

Lois and Clark - the television episode where Lois becomes Perry White's replacement and Clark's "boss."

Yep. Entertainment Qabalah all of it -- and on television, no less.

Last month, we opened the surface layer of a discussion on Mastery by examining a novel based on a game. By a totally random coincidence -- absolutely totally random you understand -- while I was reading that novel, I signed a six-book contract to do a series of textbooks on the Tarot, the first of which comes out next summer (e-mail me for info: )

As some of you may have guessed, my approach to the Tarot is Qabalistic, and as I reviewed what I had written in the first volume of this series of texts and worked with the artist and editor to cast the original artwork of Jacob's Ladder, I saw the KF:Legend Continues episode for the first time and about fell out of my chair.

Because of developments among the Sime~Gen fans online leading to the possibility of a new Sime~Gen novel I'd get to write, my mind had been fully occupied with that fictional universe. And there has been a group of fans of the Sime~Gen series working at interpreting the premises of that piece of fiction in terms of their Occult significance and posting their discoveries on the Web. At first this disturbed me. As I mentioned last month, the blurring of the lines between fantasy and reality can have dire consequences which are not due to the content of the fantasy or the qualities of reality.

In Tarot (which I see as based on the Qabalistic Tree of Life), the card that represents the fine and vastly critical line between fantasy and reality is The World (or The Universe) -- Key 21. That card also represents the encounter with the Guardian at the Gate that we discussed all during 1996. The reason the Guardian is so picky about letting Travelers onto the Astral is that the Astral plane is "fantasy." You cannot travel the fantasy worlds safely if you don't know where you left your body and how to get back to it. And you can't know that until you know who you are.

The Password for full access to the Astral plane is nothing more nor less than your mastery of the difference between fantasy and reality.

But almost every aspect of fiction that I've discussed in the four years of doing this column has been based on the assumption that fantasy is the foundation of reality -- and I stand by that. Now, how can fantasy (the 9's of the Tarot; the Astral plane; the Moon in astrology; imagination) be the very Foundation of Reality (the 10's of the Tarot; the space-time continuum; logic) and define the warp and woof of every person's life -- and at the same time be distinct and different from reality in a critical way?

And how could we possibly discover the answer to that by watching entertainment television -- television shows written and produced by people who wouldn't know an Out of Body Experience if they had one?


For one thing, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues has been created and produced by someone who does know the Unseen and associates with folks who are even better acquainted with it than himself -- David Carradine. He's not "faking" the martial arts aspects of this television show the way the creators and producers of Star Trek "fake" the science.

The show has been canceled along with other Canadian imports -- largely because of a sudden change in the U.S. tax structure relevant to TV imports. But you still might catch it in reruns -- check your TV schedule for UPN, and double-check very late at night if it's not on prime time where you are.

This particular episode is an example of what I regard as a "perfect" script -- right up there with Star Trek Classic's Amok Time.

This KF:TLC episode has two main story-threads: Quai Chang Caine faces his Ultimate Demon in an initiation that will propel him to another level of mastery in Shambala; and Peter Caine faces his final initiation into mastery in Shaolin. The subplots also reflect that theme -- facing your internal devil. The victim that Peter-the-Cop is trying to help is facing stark terror induced by a psychologically clever stalker -- who turns out to be a cop. Peter is facing his terror of becoming "Not A Cop" and the final go-round in his abandonment-by-his-father fears.

Quai Chang's confrontation with his Ultimate Demon is precipitated by a challenge from his ongoing arch enemy who never appears in the show -- congruent to the unseen stalker -- and that arch enemy delivers the challenge in the form of a sculpture -- a work of art -- with Quai Chang's identity symbolism embedded in it. Anyone who has made the intimate acquaintance with The Guardian at the Gate sees that sculpture as an e-mail message from Caine's Guardian using the arch enemy as a relay server.

Caine looks at the sculpture, sighs and asks Kermit to look after Peter for thirty-six hours. Message received, mime decoded, and read loud and clear.

Those who have followed this show and learned some of the occult principles behind these dramatizations can read that message, too. Caine has an arch enemy -- and the only reason he can't seem to get rid of that external arch enemy and achieve peace is that he keeps hitting that enemy instead of solving the real problem. That real problem exists inside Caine and has nothing at all to do with the arch enemy's agenda. The clue to decoding this message lies (perhaps unfairly) in the original Kung Fu where Caine explains in several episodes that when you have an enemy, it isn't the enemy's "fault." The only reason you have enemies is that you need them. If you don't need a particular person to be your enemy, they won't be regardless of their personal agenda or their karma. This principle is treated only lightly in KF:TLC.

This is an occult principle so basic it is a primary lesson on every path to mastery that I've ever encountered. In the parlance of the 1990s new age movement, it is termed a karmic tie. All successful fiction writers learn this particular way of looking at things because whether the reader/viewer understands this principle consciously or not, everyone knows it for the truth on some level of consciousness. This occult principle is the answer to the question fiction writers must answer in their fiction to make it seem "realistic" to the reader/viewer. That question is, "Why are these events happening to this person now?" or put another way, "What did he ever do to deserve this?" Back in the Fifties, when I was in high school, this was taught in English class as "poetic justice." We had to analyze every novel we read for the "poetic justice."

And that's what this particular episode of KF:TLC was about -- the poetic justice in the destruction of the temple in California, Caine's wandering, the trick played on them both that convinced each that the other was dead, the re-uniting, and Peter's retraining. Each step in this aching tragedy turns out to be an initiation on the way to a final challenge which has perfect poetic justice. And Quai Chang apprehended that instantly on sight of that sculpture.

Peter, meanwhile, has a nightmare -- a recurring nightmare -- and goes to his father for consultation on this "destiny" problem he's been wrestling with since a previous episode where he went through the rest of his Shaolin training and turned down the final initiation where he would have taken the "brands" on his forearms and entered into the wandering part of the Shaolin priest's life -- the journeymanship any initiate undertakes on the path through adepthood to mastery.

Quai Chang tells Peter to go away, and Peter, in a fit of resentment, leaves.

We can see that Quai Chang is scared; we can see that Peter is scared; we can see that the woman being stalked is scared. As I've pointed out in previous columns, the real initiations (whether ceremonial or real life) occur only at moments of high emotion, and most of them use terror to trigger the brain-state in which it is possible to accept a new way of looking at things.

I tell you, folks, anything that can scare Quai Chang Caine scares me!

And, in fact, what he knew he had to do is pretty scary -- and a perfect dramatization within the context of this fictional universe -- of a very basic Qabalistic principle.

Quai Chang Caine -- in order to ascend the next step in Shambala mastery -- has to split himself in two and battle himself in the Outer World. Once he makes peace with himself in the Outer World, he will no longer require this particular arch enemy and the problem will be solved. There will be peace, not victory -- and peace is what Kung Fu is really all about -- not victory. (Which relates to my philosophical problem with Babylon Five, as some readers of this column might recall. You'll find a long and detailed discussion of that on AOL in the Science Fiction Realm, Author Spotlights, Welcome Board.)

The Qabalistic principle behind this initiatory process is the one which is also explicated in detail in the Star Trek Classic episode, "The Enemy Within," where the transporter splits Kirk into Wolf and Lamb -- "Bad" and "Good." The idea is that every human being has a Good spirit and a Bad spirit -- or a Good Angel whispering in one ear and a Bad Angel whispering in the other.

Some theologies pick this up and talk about your conscience and the Devil. Western psychology talks about conscious and unconscious. Eastern thought discusses yin and yang. I'm sure readers of this column can think of half a dozen other analogies in other philosophies. The Qabalistic aspect is the stark bifurcation of the singular and unified Spirit -- which is depicted in the Tree of Life diagram by the two pillars on either side equilibrated in the Central Pillar. Thesis; antithesis; synthesis.

Now in this fantasy/reality discussion, we have to remember that we're talking about a television show. This fiction dramatizes the higher truths without actually depicting them. This TV episode of KF:TLC not having a transporter that might have an accident, used Caine's mediation as the vehicle to tell the story. In actual reality, an initiation of this type would be experienced by the adept as an actual encounter with the other person who has been acting as an enemy -- and during that encounter, the Adept would suddenly see himself reflected in that other person. Would actually hear the same words coming from that evil enemy's mouth as had indeed come from the adept's mouth recently. Would perceive the evil enemy as himself and suddenly (The Tower card is the name of this experience), having made that identification with the essence of the other, the adept would perceive his own behavior as evil.

That perception is the necessary prelude to the spiritual exercise known as T'shuvah -- or Return. It requires sincere repenting and recanting -- the "sincere" being the important part, not the repenting and recanting part. Almost anything can be substituted for "repenting and recanting" as long as it is a result of having seen the evil within but nothing at all can be substituted for the "sincere" part of this exercise.

The essence of T'shuvah is the emotion engendered by that immanent and undeniable recognition of the Evil you have so rejected in others as being exactly -- precisely -- identical to some part of yourself that you never knew was there.

Now in the Qabalistic view of the Tarot that I use, the Tower Card represents the emotional state that is necessary to make the transition from the set of emotions represented by the Eights to that set of emotions represented by the Sevens. The particular card connected to T'shuvah is the Seven of Swords. This is one of the most complex cards in the deck, and once I get to write the volume on Swords, there will be a lot of discussion of this one.

Now, you see in the execution of this KF:TLC episode's script why you must pass the Guardian onto the Astral before you can really understand what's happening on the TV screen. The thematic substance and the dramatization of that substance all has to do with the higher initiation -- beyond the Guardian and beyond the exits from the Astral plane which are represented in Tarot by Temperance, The Star, and The Sun -- all levels of mastery in themselves. The particular circuit Quai Chang and Peter were both dealing with (albeit on different levels) is The Star; The Sun; The Tower, and that circuit connects the 9's, the 8's and the 7's of the Tarot. And you cannot even contemplate doing that circuit without a really firm grip on the difference between fantasy and reality -- as well as a certain knowledge that fantasy and reality are identical -- As Below: So Above.

And now we come to the really inexplicable (to me personally) and spooky part of this KF:TLC episode. The resolution to Caine's conflict with his enemy.

It was an excellent piece of writing to have Peter's completion of his initiation provide the key to Quai Chang's resolution. Any master is unable to advance until he/she has passed on the mastery currently held. See one: Do one: Teach one. Every legitimate occult school uses this principle -- or in the words of the song from The King and I, "By Your Students You'll Be Taught."

So Peter's accepting of his "destiny" was the key to unlocking Quai Chang's inner potential.

What's spooky about this to me is the vehicle they chose to illustrate the point. Since their school of martial art is chi-based, they chose to illustrate the connection between the student and pupil as a direct giving of chi-energy. This is perfectly in keeping with the principles of these disciplines -- however, it echoes the very foundation premise of the Sime~Gen Universe that was picked up and investigated by the group of fans mentioned above.

That principle is the transfer of energy from one person to another. In Sime~Gen, that energy is a manifestation that exists only above the "9's" -- in the realm where the Tree of Life polarizes into "positive" and "negative." In Sime~Gen, I named that Energy selyn and postulate that it propagates at right angles to the direction of propagation of chi or prana -- as magnetic fields propagate at right angles to the associated electric field. In other words, selyn exists in another dimension from chi or prana or kundalini, which are three of the four energies that interweave to support the physical body's function. Selyn is postulated to be inextricably associated with those four unpolarized energies, but is in fact "something else." It is the "something" that energizes the next initiatory step on the path to the "6's."

But in this KF:TLC episode, the chi-energy went from Peter to Quai Chang, and enabled Quai Chang to travel the Tree of Life path represented by Temperance from the realm of the 9's, the Astral plane -- to the realm of the 6's, Tipheret, which is Beauty, Harmony and Compassion (i.e., Peace), and associated with The Sun as the 9's are associated with The Moon. In the 6's -- even Swords is relatively peaceful! The ascent up the Central Pillar is the hardest and is the path of the mystic, "The Path of the Arrow." In the dawn light, things just look different.

Do you see why, to me, it seemed that Peter was giving his father selyn rather than chi? But you can't have selyn without chi, prana, kundalini, and the electrical impulses that support our biochemistry, just as you can't have a magnetic monopole (for very long, anyway) or an electric field without a magnetic field. Selyn on the other hand is nothing but a fantasy construct, a convenient symbol for telling a story -- not something that has any reality in the real world. But I have spent forty years looking at the world from that point of view. It's a habit.

Now, this story gets even spookier for me. I had missed this KF:TLC episode on first run. (At least I assume I missed it because I saw the ads for it and never saw it . . . though this time the ads said it was "all new.") It is perhaps the single most significant episode of this entire show's long, long life. But this episode wasn't available to me until after I saw the new Lois&Clark episode where Lois gets Perry White's job and becomes Clark's boss -- and denies him the right to pursue a story -- that turns out to be about a plot on Superman's life.

This is a rollickingly fabulous, pure 1990's episode that perfectly highlights the transition state of our culture with regard to the female boss. It's "I Love Lucy" on a "higher arc," as astrologers say. It makes a perfect juxtaposition to Star Trek: Voyager and the Janeway/Chakotay relationship that I've touched on in previous columns. Star Trek and Lois&Clark are in the forefront of the effort to define and promulgate a new archetype -- or possibly to revive a very old one -- the woman as authority figure -- the feminine side to Saturn. Star Trek: DS9 is even participating in the Worf/Dax relationship, and Babylon Five has its hints and undertones.

But the connecting link between this Lois&Clark episode and this KF:TLC episode is not in the developmental line of Lois as authority figure -- but rather in the method of attacking Superman. For the first time since the comic strip, we have a serious threat to Superman's existence that in no way involves Kryptonite. Here is an analysis of what gives Superman super-powers, and how to remove them if only temporarily in order to destroy him with a weapon that he might ordinarily resist. And what is that analysis? Energy.

Chi. Prana. Kundalini. Selyn.

Okay, they made it "from the sun" which is a little more in keeping with the universe premise of the Lois&Clark fantasy world. However, the first thing you learn when you venture into occult studies is the basics of healing, occult first aid. When Astral exposure disrupts the flows among your chakras, the primary cure is exposure to sunlight. In occult anatomy, "the sun" represents the chakra located at the "solar plexus" -- and is associated with Tipheret (Beauty; Harmony; the Tarot 6's). And what is the one element necessary to achieve safe energy transfer in the Sime~Gen fantasy universe premise (which is a product of the 1950's)? Compassion, love, the establishment of harmonious unity with another person in whom one sees oneself.

In the 1980's and 1990's it has become politically correct to disparage people who watch a lot of television because television-watching is "passive" -- and television watching undermines your grip on "reality" -- and television watching destroys your concentration span -- and television watching promotes violent behavior -- and television watching is the source of all evil. Television is called an "idiot box" because watching it turns you into an uncritical idiot.

I have never understood that point of view. Television watching is the hardest work I do. And this week I really worked up a sweat watching all this! I'm still shaking! This was harder than writing Star Trek Lives! ever was.

Send books for review in this column to: Jacqueline Lichtenberg, POB 290, Monsey, N.Y. 10952



Until I get the direct links installed here, you can find these titles by using copy/paste (in MSIE use right mouse button to get the copy/paste menue to work inside text boxes) to insert them in the search slot below -- then click Book Search and you will find the page where you can discover more about that book, or even order it if you want to.   To find books by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, such as the new Biblical Tarot series, search "Jacqueline Lichtenberg" below. logo

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