An extract from Dave’s article ‘Cabbala’, a form of Jewish mysticism the practise of which fascinated Casanova throughout his life.
“Cabbala sprang from Judaism and sought to explain the nature of creation and existence and, in particular, its relationship with its creator. Cabbalists investigated classical Jewish literature to find concealed inner meanings, using a range of esoteric mathematical and linguistic techniques. Inevitably, different schools and off-shoots evolved with contrasting aims: to understand and describe the divine; to become one with God; to control the forces underpinning the universe. Then from the Renaissance onwards these ideas moved beyond the confines of Jewish society and began to root themselves in the Christian world, albeit illicitly. In the eighteenth century, of course, progress in science and mathematics led to curiosity in cabbalistic formulas and codes, the former lending legitimacy and credence to the latter. There was, after all, no clear division between the invisible forces of nature and those of the divine, between the spiritual and the material. If men such as Isaac Newton could successfully use the methods and tools of mathematics and natural philosophy (ie science) to understand and manipulate the one why couldn’t equivalent methods and tools be applied to the other? Eighteenth-century cabbalists, however, did not restrict their interest to spiritual enlightenment but sought tangible benefits in the here and now, whether that be knowledge of the future direction of the bond market, a cure for a bad back or, more ambitiously, as in the case of the Marquise D’Urfè, reincarnation.”
A Pinterest page on ‘Cabbala’ is freely available to everyone here. The article itself is available now for members.
‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ is now freely available here.
27 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.
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