Besides the physical world, the world of Asiya also contains a spiritual world - in fact, many spiritual worlds. These worlds and their various chambers vary greatly - indeed, so greatly that it is extremely difficult to see any unity in their spiritual significance. On the other hand, those domains of the spirit that issue from wisdom and creativity - such as philosophy, mathematics, art, poetry, and the like, which are morally or qualitatively neutral in their ideas of truth or beauty - are readily recognizable. When a man sinks into this neutral position entirely…he fails to realize his specific human destiny…

However, there are domains of the spirit that have a certain gnostic significance, with a different value system, and that thus lend themselves to either a positive or a negative spirituality. For just as there is room for both physical and spiritual functioning of all kinds that raise the world and man to higher levels of holiness in the world of Asiya, so there is also that which makes contact between the world of human beings and those worlds lower than ours.

These worlds are called the "realms of evil", the worlds of the kelipa, the outer shell.

The domains of the kelipa constitute chambers in which there are hierarchical systems in which evil becomes more emphatic and more obvious with each distinct fallen level. And, as may be surmised, there is a strong interrelation with the world of Asiya. For although in itself the world of Asiya is neutral, in terms of its gnostic implication it belongs to the worlds of evil - and in particular to one of the levels of the outer shell called Kelipat Noga. This is a level of being containing all that is not in its essence directed either toward or against holiness. In terms of holiness, then, it holds a neutral position. When a man sinks into this neutral position entirely, without disentangling himself at all from it, he fails to realize his specific human destiny and is found wanting in the very core of his being.

Beneath the domain of Kelipat Noga are the thoroughly evil worlds. Each one of them has its own aspect of evil and as is the case with the worlds of holiness, is dynamically connected to the others, by the bonds of transformation between the worlds and planes, in a process that continues down to the very lowest depth of evil. As in all the worlds, manifestation takes three forms: worlds, year and soul. In other worlds, there is a general background of existence, acting as place in the spiritual sense (worlds), and there is an aspect connected with the relation to time and causality (year). In addition, they have a soul aspect: spiritual creatures inhabiting the worlds of evil.

These beings inhabiting the worlds of evil are also called "angels", but they are rather subversive angels, angels of destruction. Like the angels of the higher worlds, they are also spiritual beings and are limited each to a well-defined essence and each to its own purpose. Just as there is in the domain of holiness the quality (or angel) of love-in-holiness, of awe-in-holiness, and the like, so there are opposite emanations and impulses in the domain of evil - angels of destruction expressing love-in-wickedness, fear-in-corruption, and the like. In addition, there are the subversive angels created by the actions of men…

Some of these pernicious angels are self-sufficient beings with clearly defined and specific characters, whose existence is, in a certain sense, eternal, at least until such time as evil will vanish from the face of the earth. In addition, there are the subversive angels created by the actions of men, by the objectification of malevolence, i.e. the evil thought, the hate-inspired wish, the wicked deed. In addition to its visibly destructive consequences, every act of malice or evil creates an abstract gnostic being, a bad angel, belonging to the plane of evil corresponding to the state of mind that brought it into being.

In their inner essence, however, the creatures of realms of evil are not independent entities living by their own power; they receive their vital power from our world. Just as it is true for the higher worlds that it is man and only man who is able to choose and perform good, so it is only man who can do evil. A person's whole spiritual being is involved in each act, and the angel formed thereby accompanies him as his handiwork, becoming a part of the existence encircling him.

It follows that these worlds of evil act in conjunction with, and directly upon, man, whether in natural, concrete forms or in abstract spiritual forms. The subversive angels are thus also tempters and the inciters to evil, because they bring the knowledge of evil from their world to our world. And at the same time, the more evil a human being does, the more life-force do these angels draw from him for their world.

These same subversive angels may serve as an instrument for punishing the sinner, for the sinner is punished by the inevitable consequences of his deed, just as the tzaddik or saint receives his reward in the consequences of his benevolent deeds. In short, the sinner is punished by being brought into contact with the domain of evil he creates. The subversive angels are revealed in a variety of forms, in both material and spiritual ways, and in their revelation they punish man for his sins in this world of ours, making him suffer torment and pain, defeat and anguish, physically as well as spiritually. The subversive angels…exist as permanent parasites living on man…

Like the worlds of evil in general, the subversive angels are not ideal beings, they nevertheless have a role in the world, enabling it to function as it does. To be sure, were the world to root out all evil completely, then as a matter of course the subversive angels would disappear, since they exist as permanent parasites living on man. But as long as man chooses evil, he supports and nurtures whole worlds and mansions of evil, all of them drawing upon the same human sickness of soul. In fact, these worlds and mansions of evil even stir up these sicknesses and are integral to the pain and sufferings they cause. In this sense, the very origin of the demons is conditioned by the factors they influence - like a police force whose existence is useful and necessary only because of the existence of crime. The spiritual implication of the subversive angels constitutes, in addition to their negative function, a framework intended to keep the world from sliding into evil.

The fact remains, however, that these angels grow in strength and power, constantly reinforced by the growing evil in the world. Their existence is thus two-sided and ambiguous. On one hand, the main reason for their creation is to serve as a deterrent and as a limit; in this sense they are a necessary part of the overall system of worlds. On the other hand, as the evil flourishes and spreads over the world because of the deeds of men, these destructive angels become increasingly independent entities, making up a whole realm that feeds on and fattens on evil, whereupon the very reason for this realm is forgotten, and it appears to have become evil for its own sake. Man can liberate himself from the accumulating temptation of evil…

It is at this point in the paradox that the vastness and magnificent scope of the purpose and meaning of man become evident. We see that man can liberate himself from the accumulating temptation of evil, by which act he compels the worlds of evil to shrink to their original mold. What is more, he is able to change these worlds completely so that they can be included in the system of the worlds of the holy.

Nevertheless, as long as the world remains as it is, the subversive angels continue to exist within the very substance of the world of Asiya, and even in domains above it, finding a place for themselves wherever there is any inclination toward evil. This happens because they themselves instigate and evoke the production of evil. They thus receive their life and power as the result of something they have aroused; and then finally, by their very existence, they constitute a punishment for the things they have helped to bring about. The soul now finds itself wholly within the world-domain of these subversive angels whom it, as a sinner, created…

One of the most extreme aspects of evil in the world of Asiya is called "Hell". When the soul of man leaves the body and can relate directly to spiritual essences, thus becoming altogether spiritual (with no more than fragmented memories of having been connected with the body), then all that this soul did in life casts it into its right form on the appropriate level in the life after death. And thus the soul of the sinner descends, as it is symbolically expressed, to Hell.

In other words, the soul now finds itself wholly within the world-domain of these subversive angels whom it, as a sinner, created. There is no refuge from them, for these creatures encompass the soul completely and keep punishing it with full, exacting punishment for having produced them, for having caused the existence of those same angels. And as long as the just measure of anguish is not exhausted, this soul remains in Hell. Which is to say, the soul is punished not by something extraneous but by that manifestation of evil it itself created according to its level and according to its essence. Only after the soul passes through the sickness, torment, and pain of the spiritual existence of its own self-produced evil, only then can it reach a higher level of being in accordance with its correct state, appropriate for the essence of the good it created. (End of series.)

The prior discussion of the nature of Angels: Angels 2: Wings on Fire

[from The Thirteen Petalled Rose, p. 7-31]