Golem Diagrams: Golem Making, Astrology, and Messianism

  • Marla Segol
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This chapter examines the use of letter combination to create the golem. It shows that the purpose of the medieval golem differs from both rabbinic and contemporary popular-culture conceptions of it. Similarly, it considers golem making in terms of totemization, or the process of turning an object into a subject. While the golem is animated by rituals resembling totemization, the golem itself differs primarily in its instrumentality. Its function is not relational, and therefore it is not a proper subject. Instead, it is used to effect met a physical changes, including the resurrection of the dead and the reconstruction of the cosmos. From the late Middle Ages onward, the golem has lived a varied and interesting life in the popular imagination. Both rabbinic and modern sources show its social function, but medieval sources give the ritual a theological telos. In the Middle Ages, this is the true function of the golem. As such the golem gains its power through the process of totemization, but once created, it acts as an agent and not as a totem.


Outer Ring Letter Combination Messianic Function Divine Creation Messianic Period 
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© Marla Segol 2012

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  • Marla Segol

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