The Origin of Wizards in Fantasy Literature
By Jason Jordan
The classic image of the magician or wizard hunched over a pile of dusty books with chemicals bubbling away in the background originated from the appearance of the typical medieval Jewish Sage. Their flowing robe, long white beard, constant proximity to scrolls, ointments, incenses and trinkets, formed the basis of the popular look of such fantasy characters as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Gandalf the Grey and J.K. Rowling’s Wizard Headmaster Dumbledore.
In fact some of the most unlikely modern-day films and organisations exhibit very orthodox Jewish themes. Take for example the movie Pirates of the Caribbean - At World’s End. In the second last act of the film an impending war causes pirates from all over the known world to come together. To determine what should be done, two pirate elders, complete with long white beards and head coverings produce a sacred law book called the Code. As they carry it out, a look of awe envelopes the faces of the roughest company of men on the high seas. Ironically there was actually a real series of Pirate Codes formulated in the 17th century by buccaneers who functioned under an agreement called the “Custom of the Coast” or “Jamaica Discipline.” This code, though it varied between groups, eventually became known as the “Article of Agreement” or “Pirate’s Code.”
Outlaw motorcycle groups (bikey gangs) also observe some of the most complex rules and regulations. I was once told about two members of a particular gang who were both interested in the wife of a recently deceased member. They had to approach the club elder to get permission to even speak to the widow. Outlaw organisations have some of the strictest laws on the face of the earth. Take for example the following news report with statements by a senior detective and a Superintendent:
In June 23, 2007, an article in The Australian called, “Bikies' Code Makes Them Hard to Crack,” stated the following, “THEY (bikey gangs) impose strict discipline, operate under rigid rules, demand fanatical loyalty, live by a code of honour and deal ruthlessly with outside threats. They are, in the words of one senior detective, ‘frighteningly like the police, except their motives are different. It is the military-style structures of outlaw motorcycle gangs -- a legacy from their establishment in the US following World War II by ex-servicemen looking for the sort of camaraderie they had in the armed services. It is what makes them so effective and so hard for law enforcement authorities to penetrate. ‘It is frightening when you look at the way they operate, their hierarchical structure, their constitutions and their rules,’ says the head of Western Australia's organised crime division, Superintendent Kim Porter.” - Written by Gary Hughes
The oriental mafia group known as the Triads often implement injurious and at times fatal beatings to members who fail to observe their customs. This reality confirms my belief that even the most dangerous individuals and organisations crave law and order within their own communities. This is because true freedom cannot be enjoyed without some measure of law present, even among thieves.
The Origin of the Pointy Hat
The distinctive pointy hat seen in the typical depiction of a Wizard or Mage came about with the Jews. In 1215 at the conclusion of the Fourth Lateran Council, presided over by Pop Innocent III, a decree went out invoking the command that all Jews wear particular clothing. Part of this clothing consisted of a Judenhat (a pointed Jewish hat). Some Jews at this time, usually scholars, already had the custom of wearing them (probably due to former edicts enforced on them by other foreign powers).
Pointed headwear appears to have been worn by Babylonian (Persian) Jews as early as 245CE according to the wall reliefs of the Dura Europa synagogue of upper Mesopotamia (Syria). This immediately shatters the commonly held view that Jews adopted headwear as a custom in the early modern era. There are also sixth century pottery figurines from China that depict Jewish merchants wearing distinctive pointed headwear. The style of pointed hat, depending on the era and cultural setting, varied. Some consisted of a soft cap with a floppy peak and some of a hard material with a pointed peak. The Persian hat worn by the Jew was soft brimmed and ended in a vertical coni¬cal point.
Saint Joseph is shown wearing a Judenhat in a 12th century German nativity scene, whilst Jesus’ is shown in one on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32)
in quite a few etchings and paintings from the same era. A 5th century painting in a Roman catacomb also shows Jesus using a wand to raise Lazarus from the dead.
The Origin of the Wizard’s Staff
Perhaps the most famous magical staff in history is Aaron’s rod. Rabbinical literature identifies this staff as originally being used by Jacob when he crossed the Jordan and then by Judah who gave it to his daughter-in-law Tamar. From here it found its way to the prophet Moshe and the High Priest Aaron who both used it to performed many wonders. King David is said to have possessed it and passed it onto his son Solomon. From here it remained in use as a scepter until the destruction of the Temple at which time it disappeared from history. It is believed to have been made of sapphire and inscribed with the Hebrew initials of the names of the Ten Plagues of Egypt.
The rod was apparently created by YHWH at the close of the sixth day of creation and given to Adam when he was driven from Gan Eden (paradise). From here it moved to Shem, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and finally Joseph. Egyptian nobles stole the staff after Joseph’s death, but it miraculously found its way into the hands of Moshe’s future father-in-law Jethro, who planted the rod in the ground. There it stayed, unable to be removed from the ground by anyone until Moshe arrived many years later. Thus this incident gave rise to the popular legend of Excalibur, another idea whose origin is rooted in Jewish culture.
The Authority of a Sage
The act of employing specific sacred texts to produce a supernatural effect is not the domain of pagans nor was it a practice that originally took root with them. The longing to discern the outcome of a future event or to manipulate nature in times of distress are not by definition characteristics of someone who practices the dark arts. But the fact that most people who try to achieve such results use twisted and unhinged methods to do so has conditioned most people to think otherwise. There is a story of the founder of the ChaBaD movement, Rabbi Shneur Zalman (aka The Alter Rebbe) who was arrested in the Russian town of Liozna in 1798. It was known among his community that he could perform miracles, but the occasions for which he chose to do them were very rare. He was taken away on Friday morning in a special wagon called the “Black Mary,” which was reserved for rebels who faced capital sentence for crimes against the Czarist regime. Along the way he humbly asked his captors for permission for the wagon to cease its journey for the duration of the Shabbat. The officer in charge ignored his request. Not long into the journey the axels of the Black Mary broke. They stopped and repaired it (which took quite some time) and eventually continued on. A little while later one of the horses pulling the wagon suddenly died. Eventually his captors agreed to stop traveling. They asked the Alter Rebbe if he could allow them to at least make it to the next village. The Rebbe refused, but agreed to allow the carriage to be taken to a nearby field. So the Rebbe spent his first Shabbat in captivity, but in full control of the situation. He achieved this end through supernatural means, but not through bold control over his captor’s wills or nature itself, but through subtle ways until he received approval from his captors to rest on the Shabbat. It was important that the carriage at least be moved by his captors to a nearby field because it is not good to perform a mitzvah directly through a miracle. Messiah Yahshua acted the same way during his capture, arrest and eventual execution. He is found almost coaching Yahudah the Karaite (Judas Iscariot) through his betrayal and allowing his captors to return to their feet after knocking them down supernaturally with a verbal response to a question.
There are two texts within rabbinical literature that outline the use of the Torah and the Psalms to achieve specific results. These texts though they appear esoteric, encapsulate this idea. They are known as the Shimmushei Torah and the Shimmushei Tehillim (Psalms). The word Shimmushei means “practical use of.” These texts are known to reveal YHWH’s Names and passages of the Psalms that, upon utterance, allow the achievement of particular supernatural feats. The question is: can these feats be achieved if one's motive or spiritual state is not in a suitable harmonic walk with YHWH? The answer, and this may shock you, is yes!
Fallen angels were the first beings to mishandle the creation and manipulation mechanics of YHWH’s Torah. Their rebellion did not bring about an instant death or cause them to lose their ability to function as “mighty ones.” A limited essence of YHWH still resides in them as it does all living things by virtue of life remaining in a vessel. Fallen angels directly and indirectly taught the misuse of the mechanical and technical aspects of Torah to men under the guise of different mystical paths. They also attempted to present a twisted form of Torah to new initiates. In this way Kabbalah has been used as a means to an end by many disillusioned people today.
The Moshiach Neged (Negative Messiah) will have a command over nature to the point that he and the Navi Sheker (False Prophet) will be able to bring a Golem to life (Revelation 13:11-15)
. So yes of course these things can be marshaled for less than pure means, but nothing happens outside Yah's will.
Shimmushei Tehillim -
(Practical Psalms) Shimmushei Psalms focus on the use of the Psalms to invoke healing and protection. While I do not espouse all the various forms of use of the Psalms or any other part of Scripture to achieve a supernatural result, I do firmly believe that the recital of specific Psalms for specific situations is not only permissible, but an ideal way of using the them to combat and overcome certain physical and spiritual barriers in life.
Some examples of certain Psalm citations for specific purposes include:
Psalm 2 – To subdue a storm or wild sea
Psalm 5 – Combat Evil Spirits
Psalms 8 – Subdue a crying child
Psalm 12 – Vanquish temptation and nullify evil counsel
Psalms 21 – Maintain composure when standing before a spiritual or temporal authority
Psalms 23 – To receive correct interpretation of a dream
Psalms 26 – To receive peace whilst in distress or in prison
Psalms 6, 30, 41, 88 &103 – Recovery from illness
Psalms 51 & 90 – Repentance
Psalms 119 – For the success of a son in his learning of Torah
Shimmushei Torah –
(Practical Torah) According to a Midrash on the book of Psalms “(if)…the chapters of the Torah (were) given in their correct order, anyone who read them would have been enabled to raise the dead and work miracles; therefore, the Torah’s true order has been hidden and is known only to Elohim.” A medieval Jewish text was compiled out of this understanding and subsequently professes to list all the Torah that upon utterance enables one to achieve supernatural feats. Its recitation is to be performed with deep concentration and focus upon the Divine power of YHWH’s names, which are contained throughout the entirety of the text. In actuality, all the Torah is formed from the many names of Elohim, out of which the merciful four-letter Tetragrammaton name, YHWH, can be enumerated. It is believed that this knowledge was transmitted directly from the Almighty to the Prophet Moshe and that it’s widely accepted episodic order in the Five Books of Moses was arranged to give situational authoritative instruction and enable only the most devoted students to decipher its true order to perform such miraculous works.
This author does not view serious works or students of Kabbalah as being necessarily contrary to the Scriptures or the Gospel of the Brit Chadashah (New Testament). Such genuine texts and scholars are merely the product of years of intense study of the Scriptures, which have unlocked levels of revelation that were privy to a great many of the Hebrew Patriarchs and to Messiah himself. The wayward depiction of so-called Kabbalists and Kabbalah groups in popular media is no different to the depiction of other so-called Bible based people and religious movements throughout the world today and cannot warrant grounds for a sweeping rejection of all kabbalistic literature without suitable investigation.