I am going to put this here, even though you can find it on this thread here:viewtopic.php?f=24&t=764&p=5068&hilit=Shekinah#p5068
I think it gives some rather fertile food for thought. Maybe as we begin and further the healing and reassembling process, we can finally get to healing both sides of the equation, which by necessity has to include the masculine qualities within each one of us. It would seem it has to start somewhere though, and since the feminine side tends to represent nurturing qualities it’s a good place to begin.
The Shekinah plays another very important role in the story of creation, and in particular in the Great Plan of humankind. It is believed that in man's fall to a denser, less perfect state of being in the physical, the Shekinah stayed with us as we separated from God or were exiled from the ‘Garden'. Thus, the Shekinah, once again, was voluntarily removed from God/En Sof in order for us to have our experience. She has always stayed with us, wherever we were exiled or isolated or shut out, the Shekinah was always there in exile and isolation with us. Thus, the Shekinah is also in Malkuth, the Kingdom, the Salt of the Earth, the final step of creation where the energies funnel into the physical world that is our home. It is for this reason that Kabbalists often refer to Malkuth as the Bride. For the ultimate Plan and driving desire of the Universe is for the Bride, the Shekinah, to reunite with her Bridegroom, the Creator. So, the Shekinah, in addition to being the Soul of God is also the Soul of the World.
There is another aspect to the Feminine that is central to Kabbalistic teachings, and is best described through the pattern of the Tree of Life. On this Tree of Life there are three pillars, the Pillar of Force (usually depicted on the Right), the Pillar of Form (usually depicted on the Left), and the Pillar of Balance (the middle pillar). The Pillar of Force is traditionally seen as the Masculine energy, with Chokmah, the Divine Father, Sol, at its top. This pillar deals with expansion, limitless flow of energy, generosity, force, initiative, potency, and movement. The Pillar of Form, on the other hand, is usually ascribed to the Feminine energy, with Binah, the Divine Mother, Luna, at its top. This pillar deals with contraction, limitation, containment, form, crystallization, receptivity, stillness, patience, and discipline, all of which reflects the functions of the Shekinah in the first act of creation. The Pillar of Balance mediates between the two polar energies and is ultimately what is needed to bring about the Union of Masculine and Feminine, Sol and Luna. These three pillars of the Tree of Life can also be likened to the Three Essentials of Alchemy.
Here again, the Shekinah plays a very special and multi-faceted role in the Kabbalistic teachings. For, it is the Shekinah that is ascribed by Kabbalists to be the Middle Pillar of Balance that unites the opposites, just as the soul allows for the opposites of body and spirit to unite, so too does the Shekinah play this role for us. Indeed, the Shekinah isthe Soul of Man, what Kabbalists call the Neshamah, for She has given a portion of Herself in order for each human to come into being in this world. In giving of Herself to humans, in this state of physical density and isolation, the World Soul becomes shattered. This shattering can be metaphorically grasped in considering what might happen to a glass alembic or flask when too much pressure is put upon in the alchemical works. Thus, the Shekinah represents the ultimate archetype of selfless sacrifice. All Her sacrifices have been for the benefit of creation so that humankind may experience this life in order to fulfill its destiny and purpose. Kabbalists, therefore, pay great respect and gratitude to the Shekinah for Her sacrifice and service by taking up the mantle or the quest to reunite the Shekinah with the Creator.
The Celestial Alchemical Wedding
What role can we as Alchemists and Kabbalists play in this effort to reunite the Shekinah with Her Divine Mate? Kabbalistic and Alchemical philosophy say that this union can onlyhappen with our involvement, because She is in us. By purifying, making whole, and mastering our own soul, we help to heal the shattering of the World Soul. Then, we must go beyond the self and reach out in service to others to ultimately help all of humankind heal their souls. Piece-by-piece we bring the World Soul back into a state of wholeness that can then be lifted up to an exalted state for reunion with God. This, in essence, is the Great Work of Alchemy. As we awaken the Fire within us, purify our bodies and souls, raise our vibration, we are in essence awakening the Shekinah within and freeing Her from the bonds of Malkuth (the dense, leaden physical form). Once released, Her burning desire to reunite with the Creator (which at our level of awareness is mirrored by our own desire for union with our own soul) leads to an ascension up the Tree of Life, also experienced as the Kundalini rising. Ultimately, before the union can take place, the Kabbalist/Alchemist must pass through the gates of death in order to come face-to-face with God. In Alchemy this death takes place at the Fermentation stage of the work, in Kabbalah it happens upon ‘Crossing the Abyss'. This is a spiritual death, rather than a literal physical death, though it is certainly no small matter and takes much discipline, courage, faith, and willingness to completely surrender to the Supreme Being.
What are the qualities that we must cultivate within ourselves in order to succeed at this alchemical process? Here again, we can learn from the Shekinah, the Feminine face of Alchemy. For, according to Kabbalah, it is the Shekinah that we need to learn to work with intimately in order to awaken Her within us and rise to unite with the Creator. We cannot succeed at Alchemy without mastery of the Feminine aspects within ourselves and the path. Too often we are so focused on the action or the task at hand that we are not even aware of the subtle yet essential roles the Feminine is playing in the process. For example, in the distillation of a solution, were it not for the vessels that contain the solution and its vapors, it would not even be possible to isolate the three essentials. The distillation apparatus itself, the vessel, is the Feminine. Furthermore, the discipline, patience, and concentration it takes on the Alchemist's part to stay focused during the distillation process, so that the subtle energies can be coherently harnessed, also involve the Feminine qualities.
Perhaps another look at creation stories from both Kabbalah and Alchemy can help to demonstrate the qualities of the Feminine that are needed. Imagine a single spark of light, a seed of creation, an idea ushered forth from the One Mind. This spark comes to hover above the waters of the firmament, the Prima Materia. But this spark, this fire, cannot come into direct contact with the waters or it will be extinguished, for they are opposites. So, it hovers just above the surface of the unformed waters. And as it hovers, its intense heat penetrates into the waters and warms them. As it continues to give off its radiant heat and light, the once cold and dark waters become warm, even hot, and a steam begins to form on the surface. A third thing has been created by the proximity of the two, containing a mixture of both aspects within it. This process continues until a thick blanket of steam forms and begins to surround the fire as well, until finally, this thick blanket of steam created from part water and part fire, that fills the air or the space between, allows for or becomes the medium by which the spark and its energy can be conducted into the waters. The steam or air mediates the transfer of energy and creative power of the fire into the waters. As this conduction happens and the energy enters the waters, it moves through like a flash of lightening, generating light, sounds, vibration, electricity. These expressions of energy form and shape the waters, creating something out of the Prima Materia, out of the One Thing. This mediator, the steam, the air, the spirit (mercury) allows the fire or consciousness (sulfur) of the One Mind to connect with the waters or material (salt) of the One Thing and creation happens.
The important thing to recognize here is what is required in this process - patience, persistence, stillness, and restraint - in order for the steam to develop, for the mediator to be drawn out. If spurious other thoughts from the Mind had interfered it would act like a wind blowing across the surface and clearing the steam away so that it could not become thick enough to mediate the conductive power of the fire. The occult lesson is: one must not pollute this process with thought. Nor can it be rushed. One can only be still and wait patiently and quietly, while focusing on the One Thing (the still waters) and the original spark or idea from the One Mind (the fire).
The qualities involved here are primarily the domain of the Feminine. It is the Feminine that teaches patience rather than seeking immediate gratification. It is the Feminine that requires silence and stillness for the spirit to be drawn out. It is the Feminine that gives self-restraint so that the fire does not try to go directly into the waters and be extinguished. It is the Feminine that is willing to bear the process of waiting for the gestation and pregnancy to take its full course before new life can be born. It is the product of the Feminine, the air or spirit, that mediates this birth like a midwife. It is the Feminine that beckons us inwards and demands discipline to perfect the art and our creations. If we shun the Feminine, we deny ourselves the glory of attaining the Holy Grail. If we indulge in vice and darkness we create shadows within and chase the Shekinah away, or at least block her light from our consciousness. The grace of the Feminine's gifts must be earned and are often hard fought. Yet her rewards are sweet and well worth the effort. When we pay homage to the Shekinah by purifying our soul and cleansing ourselves from the dross or ‘sin' of our being, then She will show us Her face. Therefore, it is crucial that we each honor the Sacred Alchemical Feminine so that she will be with us to mediate our transformations and creations. Without the Feminine there can be no Alchemy.