71. Come and behold, In the middle of the firmament is a glowing trail. This is the serpent of the firmament THAT ASTRONOMERS CALL THE MILKY WAY. All the small stars are attached to it in groups, THAT IS, THEY ARE GATHERED AND STAND IN IT LIKE COUNTLESS MOUNTAINS. They are in charge of the secret deeds of the inhabitants of the world.
72. Similarly, there are bunches of lights of Klipot that come into the world from the supernal primordial serpent that seduced Adam. They are appointed to learn the secret deeds of the world. Therefore, when a man wishes to be purified, he receives help from above, and the help of his Master encircles and protects him. He is then called 'holy.'
73. If a man wishes to be defiled, several groups of lights of Klipot are waiting for him. They all hover about and around him. They defile him, so he is called unholy. They go before him and proclaim, Unholy, unholy, as it is written, "And shall cry, 'Unclean, unclean'" (Vayikra 17:45). They are all connected to the primordial serpent and are hidden in the deeds of the people of the world.
74. Rabbi Yitzchak and Rabbi Yosi were walking from Tiberias to Lod. Rabbi Yitzchak said, I wonder about the evil man Bilaam. All he did was from the side of defilement. Here we learn a secret, which is that all kinds of sorcery and witchcraft of the world are connected and derive from the primordial serpent, which is the impure spirit of defilement. Therefore all enchantment (Heb. nechashim) is named AFTER THE PRIMORDIAL SERPENT (HEB. NACHASH). They all derive from that side, and anyone who is drawn to that MAGIC is defiled.
75. Moreover, one must be impure to cast a spell. One has to draw upon oneself that side of the unholy spirit. As man is aroused from below, he draws upon himself from above. If he is aroused below on the side of holiness, he draws upon himself the supernal holiness and is sanctified. If he is aroused below on the side of defilement, he draws upon himself the spirit of defilement and becomes unholy. Upon this, they said that whoever wishes to be corrupted is corrupted.
76. For that purpose, the wicked Bilaam defiled himself nightly by mating with his ass in order to draw upon himself the unholy spirit from the supernal serpent, thereby drawing on himself the spirit of unholiness. Then he cast his spells and enchantments.
77. First he took one of the serpents, tied it in front of him, split his head, and removed its tongue. Then he took certain herbs and burned them to incense. He took the serpent's head, cut it into four pieces, and made from it another incense offering.
78. He drew a circle round himself, uttered words, and performed other deeds until he drew to himself the spirits of defilement, who told him what he needed to know. He acted according to their information, which they knew from the side of that serpent in the firmament.
79. This is how he acquired his knowledge, enchantments, and spells. For that reason, it is written, "He went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments" (Bemidbar 24:1), which alludes to real snakes. As has already been explained, the essence and origin of defilement begins with the serpent.