NEWS: Hollywood Kabbalistics, Celebrity Watch, and a little red bracelet

Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Brittney Spears, Paris Hilton, Ashton Kutcher, Nicole Richie, Naomi Campbell, Mick Jagger: Kabbalists all! Or at least, they are suspected of, to some degree or another, flirting with the dark arts of mystic light. Kabbalah: a Jewish mystic tradition with roots concentrated around 13th century France and Spain and with many offshoots sprouting in various directions over the following centuries: in Renaissance Italy with Pico della Mirandola; in 18th-century London’s Royal Society with Isaac Newton; in 19th-century France with Eliphas Levi and in England’s Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn—to name just a few. Now Hollywood is agog with Kabbalah; or at least, it appears to be. And just what is it that makes it seem like so many celebrities have gone Kabbalistic? Well, often it is attending the Kabbalah Centre with Madonna or a statement made in passing during an interview, but more often than not it is nothing more than a snapshot of a little red bracelet on a celebrity wrist, captured by the American paparazzi and pasted on the blogs of the celebrity-watch faithful. (see here, here, and here, for example)

This red string bracelet, as a website marketing them explains, “has the Power of Protection and is an antidote to the negative effects of the dreaded Evil Eye.” The evil eye, the site explains, “is a very powerful negative force. It refers to the unfriendly stare and unkind glances we sometimes get from people around us.” Celebrities, who are subjected to substantial staring, are perhaps in more need of protection than most. But “the critical need to confront the problem of negative influences” is not the only reason one would sport this hot new string. Perhaps even more important—as the flashing pictures of Spears, Kutcher, and Hudgens illustrate—the bracelets “are the hottest item these days. Everywhere – from Jerusalem to LA, everyone is wearing them.”

As a follow-up to Shawn Young’s excellent post on Lady Gaga (see below)—who is also a suspected member of this Hollywood Kabbalah Cabal—it seems pertinent to query here as well: Just what, or how much (if anything), could there be behind this little red bracelet? Is it “surface style,” devoid of any deeper, symbolic meaning to its adornees? Is it simply a ploy to garner attention—the shutter-clicks of the paparazzi and the (dangerous yet coveted) gaze of the public—to show that one is in, and up, and down with the latest? Or does it indicate actual adherence to a religious tradition? Are these celebs really proponents and practitioners of Kabbalah? Just how much can be gathered from a little red string? (to see one person’s speculations, click here)

Related Articles:

The Kabbalah Centre and Contemporary Spirituality
By Jody Myers , California State University, Northridge
(Vol. 3, May 2008)
Religion Compass

Renunciation and Non-Renunciation in Indian Films
By Pankaj Jain , North Carolina State University
(Vol. 5, March 2010)
Religion Compass

Visual Culture and American Religions
By Kristin Schwain , University of Missouri
(Vol. 5, March 2010)
Religion Compass

Popular Culture (Islam, Early and Middle Periods)
By Yehoshua Frenkel , University of Haifa
(Vol. 3, January 2008)
Religion Compass

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