Qlippoth: Demonic Entities of a Former Universe

Qlippoth, Hebrew, «shells, husks,» is a term in the Kabbalah tradition means «Lords of Unbalanced Powers» referring to demonic entities from a former universe who survived in the present one. The Qlippoth are the subject of a vast but uncertain demonological lore, which originated from Jewish sources but also was barrowed or came from other sources, and parts expounded upon by later occultist theorists. As with Kabbalah, Qlippoth has several English spellings, a common one is Kelippoth.

According to Kabbalistic texts, the Qlippoth originated as ruling powers in a universe that existed prior to the current one. It was a realm of unbalanced force that was destroyed during the early stages of the creation of the cosmos. Prior to the writings of Isaac Luria, the Qlippoth were sometimes described in Neoplatonism terms as the last link in the chain of emanation, the furthest thing from God that still possessed enough divine power to maintain existence. In other metaphorical writings the Qlippoth are described as the dying bark on the Tree of Life, similar to actual decaying bark, or the dregs of wine, excrement.

Frequently Kabbalistic writings suggest that evil is simply the manifestation of the Sephirah Geburah (Severity) taken too far and separated from its proper balancing power of Chesed. The sense of the Qlippoth being a natural part of existence reaches its zenith in the Zoharic comment that everything is a «shell» or «husk» when seen from a higher level of existence, and the kernel in the shell when seen from a lower one.

The teachings of Isaac Luria give a radically different description of the Qlippoth. This is encompassed in Laria’s description of the Kabbalah; the orderly creation process was interrupted by disaster. The vessels that were meant to contain the seven Sephiroth from Chesed to Malkuth were inadequate, and shattered in the face of the descending current of creative light.

From the shards of these vessels, brought to life by sparks of divine light still caught within them, the Qlippoth came into being. The rescue of the sparks of light from the Kingdom of Shells is the great theme of Luria’s Kabbalah and is very similar to the Gnostic theology.

The Qlippoth completely compose the Sitra Achra or «Other Side» the realm of demons. Kabbalah literature describes this demonic realm in great detail; both the school of Burgos in the early Spanish Kabbalah, and the successors of Luria, were active in Kabbalistic demonology.

The ten best known orders of Qlippoth, meaning negative power, correspond to the ten Sephiroth of the Tree of Life. The corresponding Qlippoth to their respective Sephiroth can be seen in the illustration of the Tree of Life in the Kabbalah article. Every Qlippoth have separate characteristics and attributions.

Qlippoth Orders

demonic powers seeking to destroy the unity of God
 spreading Confusion of the Power of God
 work to conceal the perfection of God
 seek to destroy or devour the substance and thought of creation
 attempt to destroy, or burn, these powers as well as what is ruled
 demonic powers causing ugliness and groaning
 A’arab Tzereq
 the raw, emotional energy with which to overcome obstacles
 represents the complete desolation of a fallen or failed creation
 the realm of polluted images that produce vile results
 representing all of the worldly pleasures

Such features of the Qlippoth have been incorporated into Kabbalah and other magical organizations. For example, a detailed paper on this subject was once in the required curriculum of the Golden Dawn. Good or bad, evil and the use of demonic powers have always been attractions to man. Qlippoth magic has gained popularity.

Kenneth Grant, an English occultist, published several books on magic involving Qlippoth magic. His entities can be identified with those in H. P. Lovecraft’s fictional grimoire, the Necronomicon. A.G.H.


Greer, John Michael. The New Encyclopedia of the Occult. St. Paul, MN, Llewellyn Worldwide. pp. 385-356