The Southern Palm Garden
The Qabbalistic Symbolism of "South Park"
Many people are familiar with the television show "South Park". Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny have become cultural icons--archetypes of early childhood. Not everyone, however, is familiar with the Quabbala, a form of Jewish mysticism. It is my belief that "South Park", usually thought of as mindless, puerile humor, is in fact an esoteric text teaching the basics of Qabbalistic symbolism. This can easily be shown by taking a closer look at the characters.
Wendy Testeburger reflects the aspects of Malkuth (kingdom), the sepherot of the material plane. Wendy is a member of the wealthy upper class and is unafraid to use her wealth for her own gain. As the only sepherot influenced by the Quillipoth, or 'empty spheres', Wendy is capable of doing truly evil things. This is best demonstrated by the death of the substitute teacher. Wendy used the material world around her to achieve a goal that benefited no one. Add to that, Stan sees her as the end-all-be-all of the world.
Yesod (foundation) can be best represented by Mr. Garrison. As a bridge between the material world and the higher spheres, Mr. Garrison teaches children--preparing them for life by taking them out of the spiritual plane of archetypes into the material world. Also, Yesod is a sphere of lunar influence, and who best to represent this sepherot but a lunatic? Mr. Garrison speaks not only for himself, but for 'Mr. Hat' as well; one could almost say he is possessed by this spirit. This reinforces the Yesod aspect, as it is the sepherot of the Holy Spirit--the greatest possessing spirit of them all. The only contender Mr. Garrison has for this sphere would be the school counselor--Mr. Mackee--the only man able to spread the veil of Maya by passing out marijuana to grade school children.
Hod (glory) is represented by Cartman's mom, a hermaphrodite. 'Nuff said.
Netzach (victory) can only be represented properly by the substitute teacher, Ms. Ellen. She is the object of lust for the male members of the South Park group. Netzach is sometimes seen as a sphere of fire, and the substitute dies in the fire of the sun. Netzach is also the sphere of Venus and the color green--Wendy Testeburger is green with envy and displays possessiveness, a purely Taurean trait (Taurus is ruled by Venus). Perhaps the best argument for Ms. Ellen representing Netzach is her sexual orientation. Netzach is a sphere of lust but not a sphere of sex--it rules the loins, not the genitalia. The substitute teacher is described several times as a lesbian. Lesbian sex may be full of passion and lust, but it is a fruitless union.
The only individual worthy to representing Tipereth (beauty) is Kenny McKormick. Kenny is a Christ figure, a figure of poverty and understanding. He shares not only Christ's lack of material wealth, but also his amazing powers of resurrection. Kenny suffers and dies in every episode; yet, in every episode there he is again. We may have seen him crushed by a tombstone, but as sure as Christ rose on Easter Sunday, Kenny will somehow roll that tombstone out of the way in time for first period English. Kenny is a selfless individual, willing to share his gift of eternal life--perfectly demonstrated by the Halloween episode. Kenny is also the only mortal capable of pronouncing the Tetragrammaton.
Pachad (fear), or Geruvah (severity) can be symbolized by Eric Cartman. Cartman is the stern judge, the inflexible bigot. Cartman's tongue knows no mercy. Officer Barbrady is also of martial influence, a representation of the solder, the enforcer of the law. Martian symbolism abounds in South Park be it Vietnam vets or police officers. Uncle Jimbo is a prime example of the realm of Pachad.
Chesed (mercy), or Gedulah (safety) is represented by both Stan Marsh and Kyle Broslofski. Both Stan and Kyle are voiced by their creators. Chesed is the sphere of creation, of making ideas whole. It can be easily symbolized by a pyramid-the simplest three-dimensional object. Stan is the leader of the group and draws his power from the influence Jupiter has over this sphere. Kyle, on the other hand, is a sort of second-in-command, a pope to Stan's emperor. Kyle is one of the only Jews in South Park-tempering out Cartman's stern anti-Semitism and bigotry. Stan and Kyle are also creations who have given their creators a great amount of wealth, only reinforcing the Jovian aspects of Chesed.
The sphere of birth, death, and feminine power, Binah (understanding), can be represented by the bus driver, Mrs. Crabtree. As a symbol of birth, she transports the gang from the their home (the womb) to school (the outside world). Her death-like attributes are easily demonstrated by her driving abilities.
Chokmah (wisdom) is the sphere of male power. No one in South Park is more male, more masculine, and more virile than Chef. Chef is a positive male influence on the boys of South Park. He is the teacher in all things sexual--not the female sexual lust of Netzach, but potent male power. Other symbols of Chokmah revolve around the male sexual organ. This symbolism is only reinforced by Chef's hat. The chef's-hat is almost a headdress. It is the peacock's tail, the cardinal's bright red plumage, the lion's mane. Chef is a performer, he will break into song at moment's notice; he is the cricket's chirp, the cat's meow, the bowerbird's dance. Chokmah is represented by the stars--the zodiac--and everyone knows the best pick-up line is "What's your sign?" Chef is the root of all male potency.
Finally, we come to Keter, the sepherot of all that is and all that will ever be. Keter is the sphere of potential. Remember that the characters of South Park are making the journey from pure spiritual archetype childhood into the realm of cold material adulthood. The only person in South Park who could get closest to this state of pure spirituality is Ike, Kyle's little brother. Keter is the crown of the Otz Chiim, and Ike's head is almost a crown sitting on a lower-jaw. It is as if the crown of his head was placed as an afterthought. Finally, in the circumcision episode, we learned that Ike is a Canadian and is thus closer to God than any of South Park's American characters.
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