Preface: This is a new writing series where I try my hand at articles/essays mostly dealing with some occult curiosities and how I relate them to things I’m reading, writing, watching, or playing. Let’s see how it goes. Enjoy. Contains spoilers for Monster Hunter: World.
The Kabbalah of Monster Hunter
“The Devil is composed of God’s ruins.” – Eliphas Levi
The Divine’s last state before creation is called Ain Soph Aur which translates to borderless light of non-creation. In order for the Divine to spread and move through creation it had to create a space, a vacuum of non-being into which it could immerse itself by help of a sequence of ten subsequent emanations born from the Ain Soph Aur. These ten emanations, or sefirot, became the Tree of Life. It’s darker aspects, called the qliphoth, are the husks of vessels once used to house the Divine’s light.
In Capcom’s Monster Hunter: World you can find the Tale of the Five in your private suite on reaching the High Rank portion of the game. In this book it describes the world’s creation myth. “Once there was a world without time. The world was nothing but white light, inhabited by one people and five dragons. In that world, there was only eternity, and a sun that burned without beginning or end. And because there was only timeless eternity, nothing was ever lost…yet nothing was ever gained.”
Afterward, when people began to ask questions and pursue the knowledge of their state of being, the dragons left them and in their wake built a reality for these people to inhabit. Life and death and time came to exist. Much as it does in the Luniaric Kabbalah. But what the Kabbalah doesn’t have (and is lacking) are the badass Elder Dragons which began to show up in this new world. The chief ecologist of the Research Commission explains how these mysterious creatures are seen, “We’ve taken to using the term Elder Dragon for any creature that defies ordinary classification, but I suppose you could call them a type of phenomenon: disasters, cataclysms, living, breathing forces of nature.” Once upon a time certain Elder Dragons were even worshiped as gods; however, in the present, the Hunter’s Guild marks them as threats to the ecosystem. A hunter’s duty is to slay them, restoring balance to nature.
In the following break-down we’ll look at a selection of ten Elder Dragons and the qliphoth of the Tree of Death which they best represent. Through it we’ll come to understand the world of Monster Hunter with more clarity and indulge in fascinating, strange occultism–all for the sake of cataloguing the Elder Dragons through a lens of mysticism and their place in this world’s cosmology.
The Elder Dragons of the Qliphoth
- Thaumiel/Gogmazios – The Contending Force
The Crown of the Tree is called Kether and represents the first motion of the universe. It’s dark side is Thaumiel. It’s eternally aggressive and thrives on tension or the duality between two opposing polarities. Within Thaumiel all is divided and cleaved. It’s struggle incarnate. Which is why it’s best embodied in the Elder Dragon; Gogmazios.
First appearing in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, Gogmazios has a large, heavy head with huge fangs, a body covered in thick scales and coated in a tar like substance used primarily to capture prey. When it fires a laser from its body, the space beneath its chin glows to resemble a scowling face. In Gogmazios we find duality and struggle. The tar snatching hunters and slowing them down while the secondary face of the dragon appears to unleash its unbridled aggression.
2. Ghogiel/Zorah Magdoros – The Hindering One
The next sefirot (emanation of the Tree of Life) is called Chokmah and represents the male aspect of Kether. It’s vitality overflowing and the yet unshaped forces of creation. This is the origin point of perception, from where all dynamics are understood. It’s opposed by Ghogiel. It’s nature is blockades and inhibiting influx of divine motion. Obstruction of the first movements of nature’s creative forces. This is best represented by the colossal Zorah Magdoros.
This recent addition appears as the first Elder Dragon the Fifth Fleet encounters in Monster Hunter: World. It has a rocky hide and shares characteristics with a turtle, capable of moving between land and sea. It’s mountainous shell is constantly overflowing with volcanic energy and as it walks, it dries and extinguishes the nature around it’s path. The literal moving mountain can set itself on an obstructive trajectory that even the finest of the Guild find difficult to repel. Nothing living can endure or flourish against the hindering migration of this deadly Elder much the same as Ghogiel.
- Satoriel/Nakarkos – The Concealing One
Where there is a male aspect, we find the female aspect as well; understanding and intelligence exists within Binah. This sefirot holds all formative forces that help shape and balance the creative potential of Chokmah. It gives structure and form to its male counterpart. Opposed by Satoriel, the Concealing One, which represents the death of creative energy in aid of eternal, lifeless structure. Nature is clouded behind shapes that cannot reflect the essence they represent. These lifeless shapes run dry and cannot connect with their inner creative forces. Nakarkos, the Elder Dragon, becomes this idea.
The cephalopod known as Nakarkos has blue skin with bio-luminescent spots of turquoise, yellow eyes and a sharp beak. However, what makes this Elder Dragon unique is the self-made covering of bones which it uses to protect and camouflage itself. Under this macabre carapace, it’s face cannot be seen; instead its two primary tentacles are covered with vertebrae and tipped with skulls, giving the illusion of a two-headed dragon. They capture and kill the most powerful wyverns to use their bones in their coating. In this we find the very dark heart of Satoriel; masking its true nature with empty structure. Solitary and formless in a writhing mass of bones, Nakarkos hides behind a mask of lifeless shapes.
- Gha Agsheblah/Kirin – The Smiting One
Chesed which is Hebrew for mildness represents in kabbalistic ideas the extension of the divine will. That mildness is a reflection of divine wisdom. Another word for this could be calmness. Which brings us to its opposition; Gha Agsheblah. This qliphoth (husks of the Tree of Death) is the misguided and imbalanced love which exhausts and ultimately suffocates its object through borderless benevolence and tenderness. It smites whatever garners its attention. This brought to mind the majestic though dangerous Kirin.
Resembling a unicorn, the white maned Elder Dragon crackles with stray electricity. They are relatively peaceful and passive until provoked but even in these docile states they emit an overflow of electrical charge. When they are threatened, they launch into a maddening barrage of lightning strikes, prancing about on quick hooves, before trying to gore their foe. Kirin’s duality makes it akin to not only Gha Agsheblah but Chesed as well, proving to be one of the more complicated Elder Dragons.
- Golohab/Teostra – The Flaming One
The fifth sefirot is called Geburah (Hebrew, Severity), the forces of giving shape and form are compressed in this region to become the court of justice. It represents the concentration of the divine will. It grants authority and is opposed by Golohab. Easily explained as corybantic severity and merciless violence. Judging upon bias standards. It’s wrath set against the flow of unpredictable motions of life and creation. Its prepared to burn the last seed of life to establish law and its own self-styled structure. Noble Teostra embodies this idea.
It’s leonine features and fiery colors denote pride and regality mixed with the ever burning and destruction aura around it. Hyper aggressive, it will show dominance to anything that it encounters, even if it’s not a perceived threat. Unlike its feminine counterpart, Lunastra, who will give warning before attacking, Teostra ruthlessly dives in to destroy whatever or whoever has encroached on its territory.
- Tagimron/Kushala Daora – The Disputer
There is a sefirot which embodies beauty itself called Tiphareth. As with the heart of the human body, it resides in the center of Etz Chiim (the Tree of Life). This isn’t quite the aesthetic forms of beauty, but rather the expression of all spiritual and moral qualities that establish harmony and balance between the other sefirot. Tagimron is its shadow. Here beauty is at its most raw, residing in the inner nature of creation. In this qliphoth are the forces which hinder humans from experiencing union, communion and beauty. They can appear as anything that can create confusion rather than understanding between the heart and mind. Kushala Daora is that raw embodiment.
A fearsome, metallic skinned dragon, Kushala Daora’s wings connect to its tail giving the impression of a size far greater than is true. It wields the ability to manipulate the wind, making barriers and raging tornadoes that knockdown and disorient the hunters. The stern and colorless appearance as well as its deceptive wingspan make Kushala Daora fit in line with Tagimron’s aspect. There is no rest in the presence of the metal dragon, only disruption.
- Gharab/Vaal Hazak – The Corrosive One
Life and death flow in a very distinct direction in Netzach, the seventh sefirot. There is no opposition here, only harmonious forces. Attraction and rejection unfold in all principles of physical and biological life. It’s qliphoth, Gharab or ‘Areb-Zereq’ known as the Ravens of Death, embodies exactly what you think; the careless production of life and it’s equally careless destruction. Vaal Hazak’s disgusting presence comes to mind.
The slender Elder Dragon is obscured by a fleshly, red veil and lives in the life-sapping Effluvium pools of the Rotten Vale where it draws from the infected creatures to literally sustain itself and feed its unabashed hunger. Being able to coat itself in the miasma has turned Vaal Hazak into something between life and death, constantly ebbing and flowing. Sustaining itself on the most toxic and imbalanced substance in the New World.
- Samael/Shagaru Magala – The Deceitful One
In the eighth sefirot we find Hod, or radiance, which expresses the principal idea of fluctuation. There objects of reflection are sparkling and twinkling under rays of light. It’s the fluidity and flexibility of our thinking minds. It’s qliphoth, Samael, radiates but in a different capacity. Where Hod is reveling, Samael is blinding and one cannot look beyond the radiance toward the truth. Shagaru Magala embodies that deception.
The Elder Dragon is a matured form of the juvenile Gore Magala and comes covered in glittering golden scales. Once ragged wings have also become adorned with golden scaly sheets that when fully expanded resemble a star shape. This faux-appearance aligns the dragon with Samael in that beneath the blinding radiance is a deceptive and dangerous truth waiting catch you.
- Gomaliel/Nergigante – The Obscene One
It is said of Yesod, the ninth sefirot, “everything returns to the base it originated from. All mark, all juice, all might is gathered here. All forces of existence pass from this point through the generative organs.” (quote from the Zohar, the foundation text of the Luniaric Kabbalah) Yesod is reproduction, fertility, and its positive harmonization. In Gomaliel we find distorted or destructive senses of fertility. Plainly, this signifies the sexual urge which is never sated yet constantly seeking new and stronger stimuli and thus consuming vitality without offering anything in return. Nergigante, the Eater of Elders, is the most unsolicited form of the consumptive evils of Gomaliel.
The Elder Dragon is able to regenerate at a rapid rate growing spikes on its tail, arms, or back even after they’re broken. It can also expel these spikes and then grow them afresh at will. The destructive and aggressive monster actively hunts Elders to gain massive amounts of energy from their bodies. It’s all consuming, raw and hungry, while being self-destructive as well; seeking more and more and giving nothing in return. There are few Elder Dragons that possess the intensity and might of Nergigante enraged, a beast willing to throw all of nature in disarray simply to partake of its favorite food.
- Lilith/Xeno’jiiva – The Disgracing Spirit of Nature
Finally we’ve reached the tenth sefirot. Malkuth, the Kingdom. This is the end of Etz Chiim and so cannot be described as a singular reflection of any specific idea but must be understood as a culmination. This is the force of divine creation itself. It’s antagonistic opposite is Lilith or Naemoth which is translated to Queen of the Night and called the disgracing spirit of nature. We come to see all the evils of the qliphoth represented here and in its Elder Dragon counterpart; Xeno’Jiiva, a Light Upon the River’s Gloom.
The large and otherworldly Elder Dragon is the mystery that plagues Monster Hunter: World from the moment you land on the continent till that final fateful boat ride. It has six eyes, massive wings and crystalline protrusions along its body. When enraged, its torso glows fiery hot and it can expel laser energy from its mouth. Xeno’jiiva is born from a flow of excess bio-energy funneling to its cocoon in the Elder Recess. An abomination, birthed from raw and unchecked life. It is, in that way, a perversion of the Elder Dragons themselves and equal in measure to any of the more ancient titanic beasts; thus it holds the throne, undisputed, at the roots of the Tree of Death.
- Scholem, Gershom Gerhard. Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism. Schocken Books, 1995.
- Knight, Gareth. A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism. Weiser Books, 2001.
- Monster Hunter: World. Yuya Tokuda. Capcom, 2018. PS4.