Source Review: the Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford, by Lon Milo DuQuette

Ever since Aradia gifted my with my own personal copy of Crowley’s Thoth deck – skillfully hunted down in the dark corners of the internet, no more than eight weeks before it was once more available in print – I have been using DuQuette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot in conjunction with Hajo Banzhaf’s Keywords.  As such, I already had some inclination that Duquette was both a brilliant magician and a hilariously funny man.  When I went looking for the Chicken Qabalah, I was not actually aware that DuQuette was the author.  I was simply looking for double-0-duh book on Qabalah, so that I might have better luck understanding the paradigms of mainline Western occultists, and the Chicken Qabalah had been recommended to me by numerous sources, but without attribution.  When I found my copy, I was delighted to see that it was by an author I had already come to respect.

As the title implies, The Chicken Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford: Dilettante’s Guide to What You Do and Do Not Need to Know to Become a Qabalist  is humorous exploration of Qabalistic thought through the medium of a pseudepigraphy, wherein he attributes his absurd framing of Qabalistic ideas to the clearly-mad (and utterly fictional) Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford – as well as a number of opinions he might have difficulty expressing in another mode.

The book is written in ten chapters, covering numerous core concepts of Qabalah as relevant to a magician.  Several of the most abstract doctrines are distilled into Ten “Command-Rants”.  The four worlds and four parts of the soul are explained through the mechanism of a screenplay.  The Hebrew alphabet is covered as concisely as possible.  The structure of the Sephiroth within the Tree of Life is laid out crudely.  Tarot correspondences and numerology are discussed, and the concept of the Holy Guardian Angel is introduced.  Finally, the book concludes with the introduction of a Qabalistic Mystery.

The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford was exactly what I needed it to be: not so much an introduction to Qabalistic magic, but rather a foundation in Qabalistic thought to prepare me for an introduction to Qabalistic magic.  DuQuette’s warped humor is a highly effective teaching tool – making the material more interesting for the casual student, and more memorable to any reader.  I highly recommend this book.

DuQuette, Lon Milo. The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford: Dilettante’s Guide to What You Do and Do Not Need to Know to Become a Qabalist. San Francisco: Weiser, 2001. Print.


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