Kischuph in Kabbalah: Sorcery and Mystical Influence

Kischuph, in the Kabbalah, is the higher magical influence. It is divided into two branches, the elementary and the spiritual, and includes exorcism. Sometimes Kischuph exhibits a striking resemblance to witchcraft of the medieval period. Sorcerers were said to change themselves into animals (see Metamorphosis), and go long distances in a short time (see Flying).

They may also induce pain, disease, and death in men and animals. Still further allied with witches are the «women who make a contract with the Schedim, and meet them a certain times, and visit these spirits who appear to them in the shape of goats. In many countries such women were killed.» This form of Kischuph is true sorcery; the other form, material Kischuph, is rather evil sympathy, consisting of disturbing influences on natural elements produced by exciting false «rapports» in various substances. A.G.H.


Kischuph in Kabbalistic Tradition

Kischuph in the Kabbalah represents a higher form of magical influence, encompassing a range of mystical practices and beliefs. This esoteric concept is deeply rooted in Jewish mystical traditions and is divided into two primary branches: elementary and spiritual, which together cover a broad spectrum of mystical activities including exorcism.


The Dual Nature of Kischuph

  1. Elementary Kischuph: This branch deals with the more tangible and earthly aspects of magic. It includes practices that have direct and immediate effects on the physical world, often involving the manipulation of natural elements and the invocation of spirits for various purposes.
  2. Spiritual Kischuph: In contrast, the spiritual branch focuses on more ethereal and abstract aspects of magic. This involves higher spiritual realms and often seeks to achieve profound mystical experiences or insights, transcending the physical plane.


Similarities with Medieval Witchcraft

Kischuph exhibits striking resemblances to the witchcraft of the medieval period. This similarity is especially notable in the belief that sorcerers can transform themselves into animals, a phenomenon known as Metamorphosis. Additionally, sorcerers practicing Kischuph are believed to possess the ability to travel long distances in a short time, akin to the concept of Flying in witchcraft lore.


The Darker Aspects of Kischuph

Sorcerers practicing Kischuph are also believed to have the power to induce pain, disease, and even death in both humans and animals. This aspect aligns closely with traditional views of sorcery and witchcraft, where practitioners are thought to have malevolent powers.

Moreover, Kischuph includes beliefs about women who make contracts with Schedim (demonic entities), meeting these spirits at predetermined times. These spirits often appear in the guise of goats, and in many historical contexts, women believed to engage in such practices were persecuted and even executed.


Material Kischuph: Evil Sympathy

Apart from the true sorcery aspect of Kischuph, there exists a concept known as material Kischuph or evil sympathy. This form involves creating disturbances in natural elements by establishing false «rapports» or connections with various substances. It is less about direct sorcery and more about manipulating natural forces through hidden, mystical connections.


The Complex Tapestry of Kischuph

Kischuph in Kabbalistic tradition represents a complex tapestry of mystical practices, blending elements of sorcery, spiritual pursuit, and manipulation of the natural world. It underscores the rich and diverse nature of Jewish mysticism and its intersection with broader historical beliefs in magic and witchcraft.


Source: 81, 243.