Warren Kenton died on Monday night of cardiac arrest at age 87. Warren, also known as Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, was a teacher of Kabbalah with a world-wide following. He wrote many books about Kabbalah during his life, starting with The Tree of Life in 1972.
Warren learnt Kabbalah originally through a group led by Glyn Davies, when they were both in the School of Economic Science (SES). Warren recalls in his autobiography that Glyn once told him that his own teacher had said to him ‘We need a writer to present the Tradition for the current generation’. Warren took on this task, to clarify Kabbalah and update its mythology and metaphysics in terms of modern science and psychology.
As he developed he forged his own connection to the tradition. As he said in an interview in Gnosis Magazine in 1996:
“As regards my teachers, there are two kinds. There’s the physical one who introduces you to the basics, and then there is the interior teacher. This is something that one can’t say a great deal about, because you have to experience that kind of interior conversation, with what is called in Kabbalah the Maggid, one’s teacher.”
Warren travelled widely, running courses around the world. He was a fellow of the Temenos Academy and a founder member of the Kabbalah Society, teaching the Toledano line of Kabbalah.
Joyce Collin-Smith, in her book Call No Man Master, shares a nice memory of Warren. She had spent much time with various famous spiritual leaders in the 1960s, but had come to feel much happier studying Kabbalah in Warren’s group in London. She writes:
“Occasionally Warren invited me to stay on and have a late supper with him, if I was spending the night with friends in London. When the others had gone, he would become, not the doorkeeper for a master, (as he liked to describe himself), but an ordinary friend and confidante, with a great sense of humour and an enormous fund of exceedingly Jewish jokes. Between laughter we would eat and talk as equals on all manner of subjects, gleaning from each other. But in his meetings I have always deferred to him with great respect.”
Fare Well Warren!
First Kabbalah Book: An Introduction to the Cabala: Tree of Life (Rider, 1972; Samuel Weiser, 1991)
Autobiography: The Path of a Kabbalist (Kabbalah Society, 2009)
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