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Kabbalistic Tree of Life

Kabbalistic Tree of Life


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Soul Journey

The Kabbalah represents the mystical journey of the soul as it descends through the Tree of Life to manifest into human form and then ascends to spiritual oneness. The Tree of Life diagram is revealed within the Flower of Life matrix.

Each circle on the Tree of Life is called a Sefirot (emanation of divine will). There are ten Sefirot that mirror each other as they reveal and receive information for the soul. The Sefirot challenge and support the soul as it travels up and down the Tree, providing insights or paths. The left branch represents the mysteries in the darkness the right are the forces of light. The trunk is the neutral, self-giving one.

The task is to know one’s self as a human grounded on earth. From this place of awareness, one can embrace their humanness and travel up the Tree of Life to reunite and remember being an infinite soul. This is called the “way of the return.” When the psyche/soul attains Da’at, it achieves unity consciousness and is able to comprehend the infinite nature of Ein Sof, the infinite space beyond the Tree.

The Tree of Life diagram was inspired by the seven-branched menorah described in Exodus 25: 31-40. It is based on an almond tree representing the seven “watchers” or planets: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Saturn. This can be interpreted as the seven chakras of divine light within.

Message: Multiple paths are in front of us now. We are being asked to make a choice. Remember that each path comes with its own lesson therefore, there is not a right or wrong path. Follow our heart and we will find our path.

“We do not see things as they are.We see them as we are.”-Talmud –

The sefirot – Tree of Life (Color-coded to the chakras from the perspective of being grounded in our awareness of ourself as a human).

Root Chakra – Red

Sacral Chakra – Orange

Solar Plexus Chakra – Yellow

Hod – Splendor/Feminine – Left

Netzach – Victory/Masculine – Right

Heart Chakra – Green

Throat Chakra – Blue

Geburah – Strength/Feminine – Left

Chesed – Kindness/Masculine – Right

Third Eye Chakra – Violet

Binah – Intuition/Divine Mother – Left

Chokmah – Wisdom/Divine Father – Right

Crown Chakra – White

Metatron – Masculine Aspect/Shekinah – Feminine Aspect

Da’at – Invisible – Oneness/Self Giving (often seen as separate from the Tree of Life as it is the all encompassing one.)

The Tree of Life diagram is modeled after the Menorah. – Exodus 25: 31-40

“He made the menorah of pure gold. He made the menorah of beaten work. Its base, its shaft, its cups, its buds, and its flowers were of one piece with it. There were six branches going out of its sides: three branches of the menorah out of its one side, and three branches of the menorah out of its other side: three cups made like almond-blossoms in one branch, a bud and a flower, and three cups made like almond-blossoms in the other branch, a bud and a flower: so for the six branches going out of the menorah. In the menorah were four cups made like almond-blossoms, its buds and its flowers and a bud under two branches of one piece with it, and a bud under two branches of one piece with it, and a bud under two branches of one piece with it, for the six branches going out of it. Their buds and their branches were of one piece with it. The whole thing was one beaten work of pure gold.”

If you liked what you read and want more... you may be interested in having the actual guidebook and card deck. The 134 page full-color book is sold separately from the cards. My goal is to find a publisher who can offer this as a set. In the meantime, you can purchase either the book or cards via these links. Thank you for your support. Laural

Mandala Chakra book available at: Amazon

Mandala Chakra card deck available at: Printers Studio

If you wish to gift one of my mandalas to a friend or hang in your home or office they are available in my online gallery: Ink Drop Arthaus


Kabbalistic Tree of Life - History

An article by Cherry Gilchrist about a modern development of the
Tree of Life and its formulation by three Kabbalists:
Glyn Davies, Alan Bain, and Warren Kenton
(otherwise known as Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi).

The Tree of Life is a cosmic map used by Kabbalists to represent the flow of creation from first principles to physical manifestation. ‘Flow’ is a useful word because Kabbalah never is and never was entirely fixed as a system. Kabbalists, certainly in the last five hundred years, have experimented with different forms of the Tree, with variation in layout, the number of paths and how they are placed between the sefiroth. The version that we know best today is probably more fixed than it has been for centuries, but even so changes may sometimes be made, to try and represent different aspects of Kabbalistic teaching.

This has been the case with devising a glyph for the Tree of Life which can represent the four different levels, or ‘worlds’ of Creation. Each sefira on the Tree is said to contain all four worlds, and by the same token, there can be a Tree for each world. But if there is a Tree of Assiah, the material world, a Tree of Yetzirah, the imaginative principle, of Briah which is fiery and creative, and Aziluth which is the purest and most etheric form – then how might these be shown in an integrated form? Would it be possible to ‘extend’ the existing Tree somehow? Such questions played in the minds of Kabbalists, who are on the whole nosey people, and curious about how everything works. Could it be made to work better? Speculation is part of the game the search for the Extended Tree was on.

This is where we can switch to a very particular account of how a modern form of the Extended Tree took shape, with its roots in a 1950s Kabbalah group, and formulated in different ways by three Kabbalists: Glyn Davies, Alan Bain, and Warren Kenton (otherwise known as Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi). The source was a circle of people who used to gather in Soho in the 1950s and 60s to study Kabbalah, who were known simply as ‘The Group’. I will return to them later. I will also just add here that I am writing this based on my own research first-hand observations, plus similar research by colleagues. But although I’m making this as historically accurate as possible, it will to some extent be influenced by the line that Glyn Davies founded, which is the path that I took, rather than that of Alan Bain or Warren Kenton. These three lines are indeed intertwined, and share certain values and a similar type of knowledge, but they do not share exactly the same outlook.

Glyn Davies’ group and the Extended Tree

In the early 1970s, Glyn Davies was casting around for a satisfactory way to draw up an extended Tree of Life, a Jacob’s ladder that could represent the interaction of the four worlds. At that time, my former husband Chris Gilchrist and I were members of Glyn’s Kabbalah group, which met on Monday evenings in the front room of his flat in Maida Vale. Chris and I had been introduced to Kabbalah in 1970 at meetings of the Society of the Common Life, in our final year as students at Cambridge University. We moved to London that summer and were eager to take our study of the Tree further. Glyn was originally from Wales, and had served in the RAF during his service he learned about the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, and baffled the authorities by putting up a drawing of it above his bunk bed! He successfully argued the case for keeping it there on religious grounds, as that was the only kind of poster allowed. His teacher was said to come from a Kabbalistic line that came over to the United Kingdom from the Low Countries just after World War I. This line was also said to have a connection with the medieval movement of the Brothers and Sisters of the Common Life, hence the use of the term ‘Common Life’ in groups and public talks.

In 1972, in our informal sessions in Glyn’s kitchen, following the close of the formal Monday night group, we discussed the Four Worlds and how they might fit together in a diagrammatic form. There seemed to be no satisfactory model around for this. Chris Gilchrist then took a look at Frater Achad’s book, The Anatomy of the Body of God, which showed various colourful arrangements of multiple sets of The Tree of Life. Chris showed the book to Glyn, and said that in his view Achad’s diagrams didn’t work, but something along similar lines could. This was the spark needed shortly afterwards, Glyn came up with the Extended Tree as we now know it. In this Tree, the Kether of the lower Tree becomes the Tiferet of the next higher one, and there are nine Sefirot down the right and left pillars, and ten (plus the ‘invisible’ sefira of Daat) down the centre.

The Extended Tree proved to be a very useful model for our ‘Common Life’ Kabbalah groups of the 1970s and early 80s. There was plenty of scope for working out what this new set of interconnections might mean, including equating it with the mystical and philosophical study of the ‘Octave’[i].

The Extended Tree showing the trees in each of the four worlds.
(The three smaller spheres at the top are specific to Alan Bain’s system).

Warren Kenton’s Development of the Extended Tree

However, back in 1972, at the time of the discovery, Glyn Davies showed the Extended Tree to Warren Kenton. Glyn and Warren were old companions on the esoteric path, and Warren had recently started his own Kabbalah group, which was to develop into a full teaching school over the decades. In fact, it was Glyn Davies who had introduced him to the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and its attributions Glyn is described as his Instructor in Warren’s autobiography. (All Warren Kenton’s books on Kabbalah are published under his Jewish name of Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi). Warren decided to take on the Extended Tree, and published it in his 1974 book Adam and the Kabbalistic Tree, where he named it ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. The symbol of ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, stretching between heaven and earth, was an apt one for the kind of spiritual ladder that the Extended Tree represented and, as we shall see, Warren was not the only person to use it. Very probably too, the notion of a ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ kind of Tree might have been debated in the early Soho groups. As far as the Extended Tree diagram went, Glyn himself was not so sure that it should be published. This was not because of any individual claim he might have made to it, but more because he sensed that he had perhaps re-discovered an old, hidden tradition of Kabbalah. At around the same time that Warren’s book came out, Jill Purce published a diagram of the Extended Tree in her book The Mystic Spiral, also printed in 1974. This again originated from her contact with Glyn, and was never properly authorised for inclusion. However, by then the Extended Tree was out in the world, and Warren Kenton has made use of it as an excellent teaching tool and source of wisdom ever since. Warren, aka Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi, makes acknowledgement of this in his autobiography:

‘Jacob’s ladder [the extended tree] was rediscovered by my Instructor and another member of our circle. The latter brought him the reproduction of a modern painting of kabbalistic trees, set inside one another. The idea that within each sefirah there is a little Tree and within that another and so on until there were ten, is well known, but not in terms of a Ladder. The painting had several Trees telescoped inside one another, but in no obvious order. My colleagues then saw that if this image could be pulled out, like a telescope, it might make more sense. They redrew the model in terms of the four worlds and suddenly Jacob’s Ladder was there with the Great Tree on the central column. When the Kabbalah group was shown this scheme, we were stunned. It explained many of the obscure texts in kabbalistic literature where a ‘Ladder of Ascent’ is mentioned.

‘I took this ‘Extended Tree’ and used it as the basis for the Adam book…My job was to put the scheme together in a coherent way.’[ii]

According to the Kabbalah Society, Warren Kenton has since associated his teaching with the ‘Toledo line’ of Kabbalah, which flourished in the 14 th and 15 th centuries in Spain, and considers that he is an inheritor of that tradition. [iii] He has also since put in a great deal of work to develop the newly-discovered, or rediscovered Extended Tree (depending upon your perspective) into a practical form for the current era. Whether or not this Tree has an affinity with the Toledo tradition, I am not qualified to say.

So this accounts for two streams of work on the Extended Tree in the 20 th and 21 st centuries. The differences between the two usages of the system are probably slight, and it was formulated at a time when Glyn and Warren met regularly, exchanged many ideas, and helped each other with the correspondences that were attributed to the Tree. I recall the time when various scientific principles were chosen, with the two men hammering out the options in discussion. But what of the third Kabbalist in this equation, the Rev. Alan Bain, as he was known?

Alan Bain and the Extended Tree

For that, we must rewind to 1956, a time when Bohemian Soho was at its zenith. Coffee bars ruled the scene, and aspiring artists, musicians and writers, along with homeless runaways, mingled there on a daily basis. Many were just setting out on their journey, and they were true seekers, trying to pick their way through bomb-damaged London both literally and figuratively, as they endeavoured to make sense of the new post-war world. Here Alan Bain started meet-ups for those who were interested in spiritual matters, and the Kabbalah in particular. Informal discussions in cafes were the entry point to private groups which individuals who were serious about discovering a path to knowledge could join on a regular basis.

Alan Bain came into ‘the Work’ after a career at sea that ended in shipwreck, and a formative experience[iv] that established a connection with the spiritual planes. He studied in the British Museum Reading Room, taught Kabbalah, and later became ordained in the Independent Catholic Church. Glyn Davies too began attending Alan Bain’s new group, but was already knowledgeable he took a place on the sidelines. Perhaps he introduced Alan to Kabbalah – but it is more likely that we shall never know the exact details of who learned what, when and where. The main point is that this was the start of a long, intermittent collaboration between two Kabbalists with, ultimately, rather different forms of teaching. And the main result in relation to the current context is that Alan Bain eventually devised his own form of the Extended Tree, which he too, like Warren Kenton, called Jacob’s Ladder.

It is in its diagrammatic shape almost identical with the versions used by Glyn Davies and Warren Kenton. However, Alan Bain chose to include the ‘three veils of Negative Existence’ as they are known (Ain, Ain Soph, and Ain Soph Aur), as spheres at the top of the Tree. This gives a total of 32 spheres in the extended tree, which Alan equated to the 32 paths of wisdom mentioned in the Sepher Yetzirah.[v] The whole of this teaching is written-up in Alan’s book The Keys to the Kabbalah, which may date from as early as 1970, although the introduction to the first printed edition states that it was completed in 1977. Does this show a relationship to the Extended Tree which Glyn first drew out in 1972? I believe that it does. For one thing, the two diagrams are very similar in form it would be remarkable if two men who knew each other and worked together managed to draw up almost exactly the same version of the Extended Tree. Added to this, the timing fits, since Alan Bain was living back in London from approximately 1970 to 1972 after moving down to the West Country in the 1960s. Although by this time the two no longer worked in groups together, Alan visited Glyn to share his current thoughts and likewise Glyn was able to show him what he was working on. There was still a degree of collaboration present, and the two stayed in touch for many years afterwards. (Both are now deceased.)

Since publishing the original version of this article, however, information has come to light which suggests that Alan Bain was using his Jacob’s ladder diagram as early as 1967/68. This might indicate that the concept of the extended tree did originate earlier with Alan Bain, or, more likely, with the original Kabbalah group in the 1950s and 60s.

Conclusion

The argument is, then, that these three very different teachers of Kabbalah – Glyn Davies, Warren Kenton and Alan Bain – all derived their versions of the Extended Tree from the same initial impulse, instigated by the early Kabbalistic group in London’s Soho. At present, there is uncertainty as to whether Glyn Davies or Alan Bain was the first to produce a workable version, and whether these came about independently or through collaboration. There are several of us who can vouch for the emergence of the Extended Tree as used by Davies around 1972 and adopted shortly afterwards by Kenton. This was definitely a new formulation at the time, not copied from elsewhere. On the other hand, there is evidence that Alan Bain’s Jacob’s Ladder was probably around a few years earlier, in diagrammatic form at least. Perhaps these two Kabbalists had worked together in the early Soho Group on the idea of a ‘Ladder’, and independently, the seeds sown had come to fruition for both. At any rate, all three men here have acknowledged their connection to a far more ancient tradition of Kabbalah. And those who can connect with this particular ‘stream’ may find that ideas that emerge are not ‘personal’ in the normal sense. It may be possible to find an idea floating down that stream, which is ripe for re-visioning in our own time. Being the recipient of such an idea does not rule out real work though the person or group usually needs to make long and persistent effort to formulate it, test it out, and make it accessible to others. Each of these three men has done that in their own individual way.

The mind of mankind encompasses the centuries, and true thinking and teaching lays down some kind of wisdom that those who come later may be able to access. Perhaps the arrival of the Extended Tree was indeed ‘a whisper from the School of Knowledge’, as the Zohar says.

It was (God’s) will…that mind should be placed in the midst as a prize that human souls may win…He filled a great basin with mind and sent it down to earth and he appointed a herald, and bade him make a proclamation to the hearts of men: “Hearken, each human heart dip yourself in this basin, if you can, recognizing for what purpose you have been made, and believing that you shall ascend to Him who sent the basin down.” Now those who gave heed to the proclamation, and dipped themselves in the bath of mind, these men got a share of gnosis they received mind and so became complete men.[vi]

Cherry Gilchrist is an author of books on mythology, alchemy and the Hermetic tradition, including Tarot Triumphs (Red Wheel Weiser 2016) and Divination. She wrote The Tree of Life Oracle with Gila Zur, and her forthcoming book Circle of Nine on feminine archetypes will be published in 2018. See http://www.cherrygilchrist.co.uk

[i] As often studied in Gurdjieffian and Ouspensky groups. More on the Octave and the Tree of Life is to be found at https://singinghead.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/the-octave-and-the-tree-of-life/

[ii] The Path of a Kabbalist – Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi, (Tree of Life Publishing, 2009) pps. 139-140


Path-working on the Qabalistic Tree of Life

“Path-working” is a comparatively new phenomenon in the Western Mystery Tradition, as it does not seem to have existed as an occult practice prior to the occult revival of the late nineteenth century. Yet nowadays it is an established practice amongst many schools of magical thought. Pat Zalewski reveals that it is part of the curriculum for a Theoricus Adeptus Minor of the Golden Dawn[1] it is described in the writings of Dion Fortune[2], Israel Regardie[3], Melitta Denning and Osborne Phillips[4] to name but a few.

Simply put, “Path-working” is the art of clairvoyantly investigating the Paths of the Tree of Life. Path-working as a technique seems to have developed from the clairvoyant practices of Adepts in the Stella Matutina - one of the off-shoots of the Golden Dawn:

Another technique, making use of this faculty[5], was described in a paper recording a lecture by Frater Sub Spe.[6] The idea was to re-read the rituals, and then endeavour to re-tread the Paths astrally. One example given, was that the Seer should formulate in imagination a vast pylon, and within its gates he should visualise the Hebrew Letter Tau, the 32nd Path. This should be preceded by a study of the Ritual of the Theoricus Grade, especially the Rite of the Kerubic Stations. Then imagining himself passing through this Letter Tau, and entering the Pylon, he should make the appropriate Pentagrams and Hexagrams, and vibrating the Divine Names appropriate to that plane. The resulting vision should be similar to the passage of the Path in the ceremony, but whereas this latter was purely symbolic, the former may be real and dynamic, and may develop into an initiation in the true sense of the word. The same technique may be applied to every Path and to every Sephirah.[7]

However, one should not imagine that when, nowadays, different people in the Western Mystery Tradition refer to Path-working they mean exactly the same thing. For example, in the Aurum Solis, Path-working is a means of raising ones consciousness from a lower Sephirah, to a higher one. The actual Path-working consists of a “guided meditation”: the leader or facilitator tells the Path-workers what to experience, rather than leaving it to their own imagination.[8]

Dion Fortune, on the other hand, is in favour of such guided meditations up to a point, but advises that the leader of the session (the Hierophant) should leave spaces where the Path-workers can engage in silent reflection, and thereby come up with their own individual insights. She also recommends her own particular method for the “composition of place”, i.e. the creation of the astral scene one experiences at the start of the vision.[9]

Again, one must assume that the Path-working envisaged by Zalewski is different to that attributed by Regardie to Brodie-Innes: the Path-workings required by a Theoricus Adeptus Minor is all 22, on the Tree of Life - a Th.A.M would only have been initiated into 9 paths by that stage of his progress through the order.

Nevertheless, we can express some generalities about all forms of Path-working: they all concern learning from astrally experiencing the Paths of the Tree of Life and they almost always feature the Tarot Trumps heavily. This is because Path-Working, being a visual exercise, needs some sort of visual focus: hence the images of the Tarot Trumps are the most convenient for this purpose, and often serve to frame the type of vision that ensues.

I should here point out that in talking about the Paths of the Tree of Life, and Tarot Card attributions, I am mainly referring to the “Golden Dawn” attributions, which are the ones used by the majority of practitioners in the Western Mystery Tradition today. However, a significant number of people have argued for a different set of attributions, for example, Aleister Crowley. Although in his 1907 reference book 777 he published the Golden Dawn attributions, his later work on the Tarot, The Book of Thoth departs from this scheme in that “The Star” and “The Emperor” are placed on (what were) each others' paths - ה and צ .[10]

This points to a field of what I am certain would be a fruitful field of future research, namely, to what extent does arbitrarily changing the symbols involved affect the nature of the Path-working.

A different, though slightly related question is whether it matters if one uses the traditional Kirscher Tree of Life or whether some version such as that designed by Isaac Luria is equally or more conducive to Path-working. This will be answered at a later date by my colleague J. S. Kupperman.

Path-working and the Active Imagination

It seems unlikely that what began as an obscure reference in a secret Magical order would have become a popular practice in the Western Mystery Tradition, had it not been assimilated into Analytical Psychology by C G Jung. Jung developed a technique called “Active Imagination”, which is similar to Path-working in that it seems to be mightily similar to Clairvoyance:

…[Y]ou choose a dream, or some other fantasy-image, and concentrate on it by simply catching hold of it and looking at it. … You then fix this image in the mind by concentrating your attention. Usually it will alter, as the mere fact of contemplating it animates it. The alterations must be carefully noted down all the time, for they reflect the psychic processes in the unconscious background, which appear in the form of images consisting of conscious memory material. In this way conscious and unconscious are united, just as a waterfall connects above and below.[11]

Jung goes on to say that instead of merely observing the sequence of events, the individual takes part in the scene, as if he is not the controller of the fantasy sequence, but a participator or character therein.

Although, to a certain extent, he looks on from outside, impartially, he is also an acting and suffering figure in the drama of the psyche. This recognition is absolutely necessary and marks an important advance.[12]

The ultimate effect of this is, according to Jung, to assimilate lessons from the Unconscious into Consciousness - it thus plays a vital role in the process of “Individuation” - i.e. Jung's term for the process of psychic healing, and the integration of all parts of the psyche.

Active Imagination does not make use of the Tree of Life, nor does it make use of the Tarot Trumps. Yet I believe there is a still a subtle connection. Firstly, Path-working does indeed rely on the Path-worker to “choose a dream, or some other fantasy-image, and concentrate on it” - it so happens that the fantasy-image in question is arbitrarily determined by the symbolism of the Tree of Life in general, and perhaps the appropriate Tarot Trump in particular. Moreover, the process of Path-working requires the Path-worker to recognise, just as in Active Imagination, that he is a character participating in the vision he is experiencing, not merely an observer, and certainly not its detached creator.

Secondly, Jung himself first developed the Active Imagination technique by practising it himself, when he was going through a time of crisis in his life - he had been traumatised by his break-up with Freud. We may guess the extent of this trauma because Jung said, describing the importance of being involved in the vision as opposed to merely an observer, that it is meant to integrate the statements of the unconscious, to assimilate their compensatory content, and thereby produce a whole meaning which alone makes life worth living and, for not a few people, possible at all (my emphasis).[13] Could Jung have been speaking impersonally about himself?

During Jung's Active Imagination sessions, he noticed two types of fantasies recurring: one type was related to images from his own past, but another type were “mythological, archetypal, spiritual, and religious”.[14] Jung did not understand how these were connected to his own past, although he did recognise that they were symbols of basic drives common to Mankind across the world and throughout history - this was how Jung began to form his theory of the Collective Unconscious.

The irony here is that the symbolism of the Paths of the Tree of Life is “mythological, archetypal, spiritual, and religious” - because this is exactly with what the Hermetic Qabalah concerns itself. Primarily this is through its connection with Astrology, which has preserved the symbolism of the old Greek and Roman religions in an unbroken tradition for over two thousand years. Moreover, I believe that many of the Tarot Trumps are direct representations of Archetypes of the collective unconscious. Take for example, “Death”. Death has long been anthropomorphized as “The Grim Reaper”, and the thirteenth Tarot Trump (which represents the twenty-fourth path, from Netzach to Tiphereth) reinforces that symbolism. Just how powerful is this as an archetypal image? I received this account whilst researching this article: a woman, who at age five, experienced a series of vivid dreams whilst critically ill. Note that according to her, she had never at that age heard of any of this “Death” imagery.

The dream garden was quite large and I remember that if I stretched my neck up a bit that I could just see over the wall. There were burnt fields of wheat outside.

But my attention was strictly focussed on the stone slab (bier) on which I sat swinging my legs. At the top end of the stone were 2 pillars - one black, one white. The white pillar had red roses twined around it and meeting as a canopy with the white roses from the black pillar. I could smell the perfume as it always seemed to be a warm sunny day when I was there …

There was someone else in this “garden” too. Sometimes “he” was there when I arrived, sometimes “he” just materialised onto the stone. Imagine if you will, a small child happily sitting at the feet of a skeleton, listening to what Death had to say. And “talk” we did. Well - I chattered/listened and Death placed thoughts in my mind. It worked. The word “transformation” came into it a lot. Sometimes Death would “laugh” (that translated as a ripple/warp in the garden space) over some private joke - like the one about not being able to go through the same door twice. “He” found that one very amusing. I remember always being confused which caused more ripples…[15]

When I asked her what she felt she had learnt from these dreams, she replied:

This “facet” of Death communicated in riddle/oracular form which intrigued the child me. This seems to be the natural medium for the subconscious as seen in works of inspiration and humanity's holy books. it is a powerful imprinting medium methinks. I learnt that Death was a process, much like Life is seen to be. I learn that everything exists in a state of change. As a child I learnt that focus was my only reality. And all of this was very private and sustaining.[16]

Hence, whereas it seems that with the Active Imagination, Jung was drawn inadvertently to the archetypes of the Collective Unconscious in Path-working, the Hermetic student is deliberately given a set framework within which to explore those archetypes him- or herself. If we continue the Jungian comparison, we can infer that just as in Analytical Psychology Active Imagination is a vital tool to effect “Individuation”, in the Qabalah Path-working effects a similar kind of process - it is an aid to help the Path-worker progress along the initiatory path.

But do the Paths of the Tree of Life really represent a valid set of Archetypes? It is possible to test this, by seeing how different individuals' experiences of Path-working compare. Let us assume that these individuals each explore a given path, each relying on their own “clairvoyant faculty” (or Active Imagination) to provide their data, and not passively indulging in a completely guided meditation. If the Paths are indeed Archetypal, we should expect to see that the visions produced all share common characteristics, which go beyond what is suggested by the conscious imagery of those Paths. In a series of surveys over the past 6 months, I did see that this was in fact the case.

Let us take, for example, the Thirty First Path of the Tree of Life, which is associated with Fire, and with the Tarot Trump “Judgement”. I present three excerpts from Path-workings - the first, by myself, which I did approximately two years ago. The second two are accounts which I discovered much more recently: one is from the Aurum Solis, and the other is by the writer J. L. Williams.

…[W]hy associate Fire with Judgement? In a flash of inspiration the answer came - the Trial by Ordeal. In olden times fire was used as a means of trying a person. Whilst the literal use of real fire is obviously crude, yet the metaphysical equivalent is still valid. It is part of the Spiritual path to undergo a Trial by Ordeal - although it is painful, the truth (i.e. the constancy of ones commitment) will eventually ensure one wins through.

…We become aware of a throng of beings therein, a throng scarcely perceptible even to our new consciousness, beings of a nature more entirely spiritual than we have previously encountered. The united gaze of great brilliant eyes is fixed silently upon us as we pass through their ranks. We are to be in some unknown manner put to the test, proved by the fire.“

What is meant by this “redeeming Fire”? To many, this sounds overwhelmingly oppressive. However, nestled firmly in this evasive language is an important thought: When we release our worries, both corporeal and ethereal, to the process (that which is the tide of life, of the forces of the cosmos and that which gives us momentum, motivation and divine inspiration), we do not release our responsibilities - instead, we release all predestined thought, all guilt, all blame, all expectancy (no lust for result), and in the process we find ourselves empty and ready to WORK.”

The first thing we notice is that in each of the three passages, the Path-workers get the idea of a Trial by Fire, or Proving by Fire. The sense is that the Thirty First Path is encountered at an early stage of an Initiate's career (it joins Malkuth to Hod): hence, it represents an initiatory phase that the young aspirant has to go through. Specifically, it feels like a burning away of redundant aspects of the personality.

Space prevents me from giving details from all the Path-workings I have surveyed, both mine and other peoples. But I have seen much evidence to indicate that generally, the symbolism of the Paths of the Tree of Life is such that different people tend to obtain similar results when working them. In my experience, the paths take on some of the nature of the Sephiroth which lie at their upper-most end, corresponding closely with my ideas of the grades to which those Sephiroth would be attributed. For example:

• The paths ת , ש , ק - Basic initiatory challenges for the aspirant

• ר , צ , פ - qualities of the Personality

• ע , נ , ס - the conflict between materialism (Sensuality) and asceticism (Spirituality) (N.B. these are the paths which form the bridge between the Personality and Individuality)

• מ , ל , כ , י , ט - qualities of higher Adeptship

• ז , ח , ג , ה , ו - ways of making the transition to Supernal consciousness (these are the paths which “Cross the abyss”)

• ד , ב , א - highest, most abstract Theurgy.

All in all Path-working tends to make the Tree of Life far more personal to the individual. At first, the initiate probably only looks on the Tree of Life as a set of correspondences to be memorised: but after Path-working, i.e. experiencing the Tree at a psychic level, the correspondences are connected together in the Initiate's mind through the memories of the astral adventures. It thus becomes easier for the Initiate to invoke those forces in the future, because now they will stir his imagination vividly whereas before they would not.

Furthermore, the experience of Path-working seems to be that the Path-worker goes on a quest to find the lost parts of the self, and finds them through investigating the symbolism of the Tree of Life. When this is viewed in light of the use of the Major Arcana therein, it reinforces the pre-eminence of the Tarot as well - not just as a method of mere fortune-telling, but as a set of symbols of deep psychological significance. One of the side-effects of Path-working must inevitably be that afterwards, a given Tarot Trump is linked to the mystical revelation which the Path-worker experienced when investigating its corresponding Path. Hence the Path-worker cannot look at the Tarot again in the same light: before it was an arbitrary set of symbols now they stir memories of great psychic import.

Path-working: A Suggested Method

The preparation of the physical temple will be involve furnishing it in the manner indicated by 777 - for example, one should use appropriate colours, incenses etc. The opening in the very least will include the Lesser Banishing Rituals of the Pentagram and Hexagram.

The starting point for the Path-working is the Sephira at the “lower” end of the Path. Hence, the composition of place begins with astrally forming a Temple which symbolically represents that Sephira. The Sephirothic Temple is aligned east-west, east being the direction of Kether, and west the direction of Malkuth. There are portals in the walls, corresponding to where the paths which connect to that Sephiroth would be on the glyph of the Tree of Life. For instance, Yesod:

A vital part of the Composition of place at this point consists of populating this temple with the appropriate God-forms. Among these will be the God-form that presides over the Temple (Hierophantic) those that represent the Officers of the Temple the Kerubic forms which guard the four quarters and the guardians of the Paths leading to and from the Temple.

The Path-working begins by Opening the Temple, and by propitiating the Hierophantic God-form - to demonstrate that one has the right to be in that Sephira in the first place. At the very least this propitiation will consist of saluting with the appropriate grade-sign, and vibrating the Grand Name of that Sephira (e.g.: Yesod - “Shaddai El Chai”).

Then, the Path-worker will need to propitiate the God-form who is the Guardian of the Path that they to work - to demonstrate that they are worthy to enter that Path. I suggest that this itself will at least consist of the Pentagram or Hexagram Ritual (or both) which is associated with the astrological or elemental forces of the Path.

The following three tables give the correspondences - from a “Golden Dawn” point of view. For Zodiacal signs, the Hexagram ritual may be performed in addition to the Pentagram ritual, as the influence of the planetary can often be “felt” just as much as can the Sign's Triplicity.

Path Tarot Trump Supreme Pentagram Ritual of … (Supreme Hexagram Ritual of … )
15 The Emperor Aries Mars
16 The Hierophant Taurus Venus
17 The Lovers Gemini Mercury
18 The Chariot Cancer Moon
19 Strength Leo Sun
20 The Hermit Virgo Mercury
22 Justice Libra Venus
24 Death Scorpio Mars
25 Temperance Sagittarius Jupiter
26 The Devil Capricorn Saturn
28 The Star Aquarius Saturn
29 The Moon Pisces Jupiter
Path Tarot Trump Supreme Hexagram Ritual of … (Supreme Pentagram Ritual of … )
12 The Magician Mercury
13 The High Priestess Moon
14 The Empress Venus
21 The Wheel of Fortune Jupiter
27 The Tower Mars
30 The Sun Sun
32 The Universe Saturn Earth
Path Tarot Trump Supreme Pentagram Ritual of … (Supreme Pentagram Ritual of … )
11 The Fool Air
23 The Hanged Man Water
31 Judgement Fire Spirit

With the Planetary paths, only the Hexagram Ritual should be performed. Conversely, with the Elemental Paths, only the Pentagram Ritual should be performed.

However, one should note that according to 777, two of the Paths have double attributions: path 31, “Judgement”, to both Fire and Spirit and path 32, “The Universe”, to both the planet Saturn and the element Earth. To be safe, I did two sets of Pathworkings for each of these paths. So in the case of Path 31, Shin, on the one occasion I worked exclusively with the Fire Pentagram and Fire Attributions on the other, I worked exclusively with Spirit. Likewise with Path 32, Tav in its Saturn aspect, and Tav in its Earth Aspect.[19]

Therefore, with these two paths, the italicised Pentagram or Hexagram Ritual is meant to be an alternate ritual to be carried out on a separate occasion - not a complementary ritual to be used on the same occasion.

When the Guardian of the Portal to the Path in question has been satisfied, the Path-worker then passes through the Portal into the Path itself.

Here one should again vibrate the Divine (and Angelic) names associated with the Astrological or elemental powers to which the Path is attributed. The Divine Names will have been used already in the appropriate Pentagram or Hexagram Ritual. Pictures of a landscape corresponding to the forces of the Path will arise before the mind's eye - perhaps a three dimensional version of the scene represented in the Tarot key. Alternatively, the Path-worker may get a strong impression of a scene which fits with the attributions of the Path, but is unlike the Tarot card. In any event, the vibration of the appropriate names - and the foregoing rituals - should serve to call forth a scene which is at least appropriate to the Path.

The first act of the Path-worker, on vibrating the names and establishing the scene is to remain still and call for a Guide to appear. The Guide will be a personification of the Path in question - in name, appearance, and demeanour. The Guide might be the character or one of the characters depicted in the Tarot key it might be a God-form corresponding to that path or it might be an Angel or Spirit qabalistically associated with the path. The Guide might also be a figure which defies easy classification but which nevertheless proves to be appropriate. In any event, the Guide will announce that it recognises the Divine and Angelic names which the Path-worker has been vibrating, and will give the correct sign in salute, where appropriate.

A figure which appears but does not admit to recognising the Divine Names, or the correct Names, nor gives the correct sign, is not a proper Guide. It should be Banished immediately, and the Path-worker should again try to attract a real Guide.

The main part of the Path-working will then consist of the Path-worker exploring the scene, accompanied by the guide. All the while, the Path-worker is attempting to discover, at the mystical, intuitive level, the innate meaning of the path. Practically, this will consist of trying to elicit answers to questions such as:

• What is the symbolic significance of the scenery I am observing? What about the characters I can see in this vision?

• How does what I am experiencing relate to this Path's Tarot correspondence? To its Astrological or elemental correspondence? To its correspondence in the Sepher Yetzirah?

• How do each of these correspondences relate to each other?

• What about the magical power or powers associated with this Path? What do I need to know in order to exercise them properly?

How do I make the transition from the mode of consciousness represented by the Sephira at the beginning of the Path, to that of the Sephira at the end?

The last question is particularly important, as it is the one that enables the Path-worker to enter the destination-Sephira, and thus bring the Path-working to its natural conclusion.

Ideally, the combined effects of the invocations, the visualisations, and the consideration of all the Qabalistic data regarding that Path will cause the Path-worker to have a flash of intuition which transcends the merely astral phenomena experienced during the Path-working session. This flash of intuition will not merely answer the Path-worker's questions, but will be a source of inspiration for him or her long after the Path-working session has finished.

Assuming that this has happened, the Path-worker may then enter the destination-Sephira, in the form of another Sephirothic Temple. The Path-worker should now propitiate the Hierophantic God-form of the destination Temple - by vibrating the Divine Name associated therewith.

The Closing of the session will then consist of closing the Destination-Sephirothic Temple - in the sense that the Path-working is essentially an initiation into the destination-Sephirah. The Path-worker should thereafter astrally return to Malkuth, so that the energies raised in the session become fully grounded. Only after this has been done should the Path-worker attempt to return to normal consciousness.

Appendix: The Paths of the Tree of Life

The following table gives the Paths of the Tree of Life, according to the “Golden Dawn” system of classification.

Path Number[20] Hebrew Letter Links . . . Tarot Trump Astrological/Elemental Correspondence
11 א Chokmah - Kether The Fool Air
12 ב Binah - Kether The Magician Mercury
13 ג Tiphereth - Kether The High Priestess Luna
14 ד Binah - Chokmah The Empress Venus
15 ה Tiphereth - Chokmah The Emperor Aries
16 ו Chesed - Chokmah The Hierophant Taurus
17 ז Tiphereth - Binah The Lovers Gemini
18 ח Geburah - Binah The Chariot Cancer
19 ט Geburah - Chesed Strength Leo
20 י Tipheret - Chesed The Hermit Jupiter
21 כ Netzach - Chesed The Wheel of Fortune Virgo
22 ל Tiphereth - Geburah Justice Libra
23 מ Hod - Geburah The Hanged Man Water
24 נ Netzach - Tiphereth Death Scorpio
25 ס Yesod - Tiphereth Temperance Sagittarius
26 ע Hod - Tiphereth The Devil Capricorn
27 פ Hod - Netzach The Tower Mars
28 צ Yesod - Netzach The Star Aquarius
29 ק Malkuth - Netzach The Moon Pisces
30 ר Yesod - Hod The Sun Sol
31 ש Malkuth - Hod Judegement Fire or Spirit
32 ת Malkuth - Yesod The Universe Saturn or Earth

Acknowledgement

I would like to thank all the members of the MSN Community “Pathworking Symposium”, some of whose contributions to that forum I feature in this article.

Bibliography

Crowley, Aleister: The Book of Thoth.

Crowley, Vivianne: Jungian Spirituality, Thorsons, 1998.

Denning, Melitta and Phillips, Osborne : The Sword and the Serpent

Fortune, Dion : The Mystical Qabalah New Edition, Thoth.

Jung, Carl Gustav: Collected Works, Volume 14.

Regardie, Israel : The Art and Meaning of Magic, Helios 1969.

Regardie, Israel: The Golden Dawn, 6 th Edition, Llewellyn Publications 1989.

Williams, J. L.: The Rites of Life: Pathworking, Tarot and the Qabalistic Tree of Life, 2001.

Zalewski, Patrick : Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn, Falcon Press 1988.

Notes

[1] Thoth Hermes Temple Study Course for Adeptus Minor 5=6, p .21, Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn, Patrick Zalewski.

[2] Chapter 28, The Mystical Qabalah, Dion Fortune.

[3] The Meaning of Magic, The Art and Meaning of Magic, Israel Regardie.

[4] Book 1 Appendix C, The Sword and the Serpent, Melitta Denning & Osborne Phillips.

[7] Regardie, The Golden Dawn, pp. 463 - 464.

[8] Denning & Phillips, op. cit.

[10] For Crowley's reasoning as to why this swap is made, see The Book of Thoth, III The Roman Numbers of the Trumps.

[11]Jung, The Conjunction, Collected Works, Vol 14, par. 706.

[14] Jungian Spirituality, Vivianne Crowley, p.45.

[15] Posted by “Sat Anpu” to the site [Old URL redacted].

[17] Dennings & Phillips, op. cit.

[18] The Rites of Life: Pathworking, Tarot and the Qabalistic Tree of Life Life, J.L. Williams, 2001. See also [Old URL redacted]

There are therefore two letters of the alphabet which have to do double duty. The element of Fire is very close kin to the idea of Spirit so the letter Shin, belonging to Fire, may be taken to mean Spirit as well. There is a special reason why this should be so, although it only applies in later ages, since the introduction of the dogma that Spirit rules the four elements, and the formation of the “Pentagram of Salvation” connected with the Hebrew word IHShVH, Yeheshuah.

“With regard to Earth, it was considered adequate to make the letter Tau, belonging to Saturn, correspond also to Earth.

“These additions are clear evidence that the Tarot took definite and arbitrary steps to assert the new discovery in Magick some two thousand years ago for no system is more rigid than a Hebrew system. And the system of the Sepher Yetzirah is the deepest rooted of all the elements of the Hebrew system, the most dogmatic of them all.”

The Book of Thoth, Aleister Crowley, III The Atu of Tahuti.

[20] The Path Number corresponds to the Path of the Sepher Yetzirah, and to the row in 777.


Kabbalah Tree of Life 10 Sephirot

There are 10 “stations” that are represented as spheres or circles and are contained within the Kabbalah tree of life that are called Sephirot. These stations are then linked to one another by 22 lines, called paths, that represent the 22 letters in Hebrew. Beyond the Kabbalah tree of life is the infinite light called Ein Sof that is ineffable.

Three columns exist within the tree of life. The one on the righthand side is considered to be male and mercy, while the leftland pillar is female and severity. The column going down the middle acts as a stabilizer between the two polarities.

Each one of the 22 paths is directly associated with one Hebrew letter, as well as different symbols, tarot cards, planets, and astrological signs. Practices that take someone inward, such as meditation, can help them explore and experience the various aspects contained within the tree of life.

The symbols in the tree of like include the Hebrew letters. There is an alphabetical order within the tree, until the last letter is reached. There are also the astrological signs that are attributed to each path, including the classical planets and four elements. Each one is tethered to a Hebrew letter. Finally, there are associations with Tarot Trumps, with one being assigned to every one of the 22 paths.

The Kabbalah tree of life is quite complex, but hopefully this diluted explanation will help you understand it a little more. However, it will help for you to understand the Kabbalah tree of life meaning by talking about the 10 Sephirot symbols and 22 paths in a little greater details.

Each one of the 10 Sephirot describes what God wants people to embody. They also describe what God does to reveal himself through Creation. Each one of the Sephirot is needed to understand the mysteries of Creation and God.

We’re going to break down what each of the 10 circles in the Kabbalah tree of life mean.

Keter is the Crown, which is the circle at the very top of the tree of life. It symbolizes the explanation for all that is beyond the ability of the mind to comprehend. It symbolizes everything that is above and beyond us. This makes it the most abstract Sephirot symbol. Being the highest one makes it the most divine as well.

Chokmah is the circle for wisdom. It symbolizes your ability to peer deeply into the nature of reality and abstract concepts that help you understand the truest truths at very deep levels. The conscious creative process is contained within this Sephirot.

Binah symbolizes the ability to understand something’s potential. Consider it the intuition that guides you in life, if you listen to it. This also is symbolizing your ability to contemplate and reflect upon truths.

Da’at is represented as an empty space, but what this symbolizes is expansion and reflection upon wisdom and deep knowing stemming from the previous Sephirot we mentioned. This is also a symbol that has the power to balancing everything.

Chesed is usually said to mean loving kindness, which is a combination of both kindness and love. This isn’t an intellectual symbol. Rather, it focuses on the emotional side of things, such as compassion, which is a highly-valued aspect within all of Judaism. Through Chesed, or compassion, it is possible to heal, mend, and bring back anything within Creation.

Like Chesed, Gevurah is related to emotions. It also symbolizes judgments and limitations. Wrongs have to be righted by changes that are made. This sort of view is placed on the world’s stage rather than in an individual personal life. This Sephirot is speaking about God’s punishment of wickedness within the world due to not following His laws.

Tiferet combines the Chesed compassion and Gevurah strength, reconciling the two. Essentially they are representing the acts of giving and receiving. Ultimately, Tiferet symbolizes the incredible capabilities of mercy. Lovingkindness holds back the drive for justice and punishment, and instead helps us use both to act out a more tempered approach.

Netzach symbolizes God’s eternity and endless endurance. This Sephirot helps us understand what is going on in the world, telling us to look deeper into the nature of things. What we see on the surface isn’t always how things really are.

Hod symbolizes glory. It represents how you can achieve your goals and what steps you take to do so. Overcoming problems and obstacles occurs here, helping you understand what it takes to accomplish the goals you set for yourself.

Yesod symbolizes foundation, understanding, and knowledge. This encapsulates your embodiment of a spiritual life, as well as doing your part in helping change the world for the better. The foundation is one in the same with the Creation you find yourself in, which is what is going to get changed.

At the very bottom of the Kabbalah tree of life is Malkuth. It’s the final Sephirot and symbolizes the kingdom of God. It is the ultimate goal to strive towards. It is the “seed” that will help everything else in the tree of life grow.


The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life consists of 10 Sephiroth and 22 paths. Human are located in the Malkut (Kingdom), they take a journey of meditation via the 22 paths and 10 Sephiroth till they reach the Keter (Crown). Besides, It is said that there is an archangel who is guarding and guiding people in every Sephiroth.

Keter – Metatron: the junction between two large universes over the head of human. It means the springhead of creation, pure existence and fountain of vitality. Numbered as 1, its corresponding color is white, and the jewel associated with it is diamond. Neptune is its symbolic planet, representing the flank of king. The name of God related to Keter is Eheieh.

Its archangel is Metatron,

and it also corresponds to Malkut (which is known as the last sword).

Chokmah – Raziel: Chokmah is also known as Abba Ila’ah (“the higher father”), and it is the symbol of masculinity and “mobility”. Numbered as 2, its corresponding color is grey, and the jewel associated with it is turquoise. Uranus is its symbolic planet. The name of God related to Chokmah is Yod, and its archangel is Ratziel.

Binah – Zaphkiel: Binah is also referred to as Imma Ila’ah (“the higher mother”). It corresponds to the right arm, and gives shape to everything. Numbered as 3, its corresponding color is black, the jewel and metal associated with it are respectively pearl and lead Saturn is its symbolic planet. It is the symbol of femininity, representing mature women. The name of God related to Binah is Elohim, and its archangel is Zaphkiel.

Chesed – Zadkiel: Chesed means the pure and divine law of universe – “love”. Chesed is also called Gedulah. Numbered as 4, its corresponding color is blue, and the metal, geometric figure and jewel associated with it are respectively tin, regular tetrahedron and sapphire Jupiter is its symbolic planet. It also represents the king on the throne. The name of God related to Chesed is EL, and its archangel is Zadkiel.

Gevurah – Camael: Gevurah is known as “the Surgeon of Angels”. Numbered as 5, its corresponding color is red, and the geometric figure, metal and jewel associated with it are respectively pentagon, iron and ruby Mars is its symbolic planet. It is also referred to as “Celestial Surgeon”. The name of God related to Gevurah is Elohim・Gibor, and its archangel is Camael.

Tiferet – Rafael: Tiferet is located at the center of the Tree of Life, which is also the center of energy for all creatures. Numbered as 6, its corresponding color is yellow, and the metal associated with it is gold sun (which is also seen as a planet) is its symbolic planet. The name of God related to Tiferet is Eloha, and its archangel is Rafael.

Netzach – Haniel: Netzach means perpetuity and is related to the number 7. The number 7 here derives from the God’s seven days of creation in the Genesis Of the Bible. It has the meaning of strength and endurance. Its corresponding color is green, and the metal and jewel associated with it are respectively copper and emerald Venus is its symbolic planet. It also represents naked women. The name of God related to Netzach is Adonai・Tzabaoth, and its archangel is Haniel.

Hod – Michael: Hod means the “moulding” of physical form. Numbered as 8, its corresponding color is orange, and the metal associated with it is quicksilver Mercury is its symbolic planet. The name of God related to Hod is Elohim・Tzabaoth, and its archangel is Michael.

Yesod – Gabriel: Yesod means the astral body, the intermediate between the intelligent soul and the mental body. In Kabbalah, Yesod represents the pre-existent matter. Numbered as 9, its corresponding color is purple, and the metal associated with it is silver moon (which is also seen as a planet) is its symbolic planet. It also represents naked men. The name of God related to Yesod is Shaddai El Chai. and its archangel is Gabriel.

Malkut – Sandalphon: Malkut means “the kingdom of matter”. It has four corresponding colors: dark yellow, olive, red brown and black the jewel associated with it is crystal earth is its symbolic planet. It also represents the young woman on the throne. The name of God related to Malkut is Adonai Melekh, and its archangel is Sandalphon.

Four worlds that compose the Tree of Life

(Atziluth: World of Emanation) archetype: fire

Adam Kadamon is here. Higher-level devils are said to belong here.

(Beriah: World of Creation) archetype: wind

Here is the domain of spirit and soul.

(Yetzirah: World of Formation) archetype: water

The domain of human souls. The differences between men and women emerge here. It is considered to be the world of elements.

(Assiah: World of Action) archetype: earth

The world where human live, souls and bodies get each other.

Ten Sephiroth: alternative configurations of the Sephiroth are given by different schools in the historical development of Kabbalah, with each articulating different spiritual aspects. The tradition of enumerating 10 is stated in the Sefer Yetzirah, “Ten Sephiroth of nothingness, ten and not nine, ten and not eleven”. As altogether eleven Sephiroth are listed across the different schemes, two (Keter and Da’at) are seen as unconscious and conscious manifestations of the same principle, conserving the ten categories.

The ten Sephiroth in the order from top to bottom and from right to left:

Keter: transcence, divinity also the topmost sky.

Chokhmah: wisdom, pure rationality, the beginning of creativity also the caelus sideralis.

Binah: execution, substantive rationality, fountain of creation also the Arabot.

love, mercy, grace, greatness also the Zebel.

Gevurah: law, right of God, discovery of evil, anger also the Mahon.

Tiferet: benevolence, reconcilement, beauty also the Mahanon. This Sephiroth is the core of the Tree of Life.

Netzach: eternity, inflation, victory also the Shehkim.

Hod: dignity, contraction, honor also the Akira.

Yesod: foundation, the basis of all things, the creativity of God also the Shiamaim.

Malkut: kingdom, matter, human also the synthesis of four elements, that is, the existence of matter.

It is also called the “Path of the Flaming Sword” when we connect these Sephiroth from the 1 st to the 10 th .

In the 16th-century Lurianic Kabbalah, there is the 11 th Sephirah Da’at (knowledge). The ten Sephiroth of the Tree of Life become one and therefore will not be drawn at where Da’at is located. However, sometimes Da’at will also be seen as a Sephiroth, it replaces Keter and appears along the central axis of the Tree of Life, right below Keter and right above Tiferet. At that time, it will be seen as the conscious manifestation of unconscious Keter.

Atzilut (the world of emanation): the highest-level and most perfect world. The other worlds are all created in this world. The pure souls and thoughts here represent the will of deity.

Beriah (the world of creation): where the light from Atziluth starts to focus and assemble. Thoughts and ideas are given shape here. This is the world of archangels, the heart of deity.

Yetzirah (the world of formation): where the matter created in Briah is shaped. Form appears here. This is the world of angels, the mind of deity.

Assiah (the world of action): where the primitive light disintegrates and begins to crystallize and form the matter, nature and human being. Abstract ideas become concrete objects here this is the world of human.

From right to left, the Three Pillars are:

mercy, balance (middle) and severity

”Path” is the connection between two Sephiroth the Tree of Life represents the course from spirit to matter.


Kabbalistic Tree of Life (Concave Earth Interpretation)

This post is to present a new / alternative perspective on the metaphysical/structural tree of life. We will let the graphics do the speaking. This assumes you have a basic understanding on what the tree of life is

First, presenting a 3D model of (E8 Theory of Everything)

Second, the Concave Earth version of the tree of life

Introduction

The Kabbalah centres on a complex scheme of numerical symbolism and esoteric theology, influenced by neo-Platonism, Hermetic literature and perhaps Sufism. It is elaborate and bizarre, and sometimes seems as complex as Greek mythology. Kabbalists often insist that the schemes are not meant literally: they are symbols of a spiritual reality that is beyond human comprehension. Yet the detailed discussion of the sefirot and the diagrams of their links often get so complex and artificial that the word “Cabala” came to be a synonym for obscurity and secrecy.

Underlying everything is Ein Sof, the infinite, indefinable origin of all things, the cause of causes. Ein Sof is often seen not as an old man with a white beard, not as a personal God at all, but as an impersonal, unnamable Being without qualities, thoughts or feelings, very similar to Lao Tzu’s Tao or Meister Eckhart‘s “simple ground” beyond God. Everything is one, nothing exists but the one divine being. This position is also very similar to that of the Sufi philosopher Ibn Al’arabi.

The idea is sometimes so strongly expressed that it seems pantheistic, yet there is still the insistence that though everything that exists is God and is in God, God extends infinitely beyond that. In this sense the kabbalah is panentheistic rather than truly pantheistic.

(Paul Harrison, World Pantheist Movement)

Translations are from Daniel Matt, The Essential Kabbalah, Castle Books, Edison, NJ, 1997.

Non-duality: nothing exists but Ein Sof, the endless.

The essence of divinity is found in every single thing – nothing but it exists. Since it causes every thing to be, no thing can live by anything else. It enlivens them its existence exists in each existent. Do not attribute duality to God. Let God be solely God. If you suppose that Ein Sof emanates until a certain point, and that from that point on is outside of it, you have dualized. God forbid! Realize, rather, that Ein Sof exists in each existent. Do not say “This is a stone and not God.” God forbid! Rather, all existence is God, and the stone is a thing pervaded by divinity. Moses Cordovero, Shi’ur Qomah.

Before anything emanated, there was only Ein Sof. Ein Sof was all that existed. Similarly after it brought into being all that exists, there is nothing but it. You cannot find anything that exists apart from it . . . God is everything that exists, though everything that exists is not God. It is present in everything, and everything comes into being from it. Nothing is devoid of its divinity. Everything is within it it is within everything and outside of everything. There is nothing but it.
Moses Cordovero, Elimah Rabbati.

Everything is linked

Everything is catenated in its mystery, caught in its oneness . . . The entire chain is one. Down to the last link, everything is linked with everything else, so divine essence is below as well as above, in heaven and earth. There is nothing else. Moses de Leon, Sefer ha-Rimmon.

God’s presence maintains all things

Nothing is outside of God. This applies . . . to everything that exists, large and small – they exist solely through the divine energy that flows to them and clothes itself in them. If God’s gaze were withdrawn for even a moment, all existence would be nullified . . . Contemplating this, you are humbled, your thoughts purified.
Moses Cordovero, Or Yaqar.

Creation conceals and reveals God

When powerful light is concealed and clothed in a garment, it is revealed. Though concealed, the light is actually revealed, for were it not concealed, it could not be revealed. This is like wishing to gaze at the dazzling sun. Its dazzle conceals it, for you cannot look at its overwhelming brilliance. Yet when you conceal it – looking at it through screens – you can see and not be harmed. So it is with emanation: by concealing and clothing itself, it reveals itself.
Moses Cordovero, Pardes Rimmonim.

Ein Sof is beyond understanding or expression

Ein Sof cannot be conceived, certainly not expressed, though it is intimated in every thing, for there is nothing outside of it. No letter, no name, no writing, no thing can confine . . . Ein Sof has no will, no intention, no desire, no thought, no speech, no action – yet there is nothing outside of it. Azriel of Gerona, Commentary on the Ten Sefirot.

Concerning Ein Sof there is no aspect anywhere to search or probe nothing can be known of it, for it is hidden and concealed in the mystery of absolute nothingness.
David ben Judah he-Hasid, Book of Mirrors.

According to Gershom Scholem, the world’s greatest authority on the subject Kabbalah, simply stated, is a form of Gnosis that underlies certain “Jewish mystical theology.” The Fundamental tenets of Kabbalah, according to Scholem, are as follows: “Over and above disagreements on specific details that tend to reflect different stages in the Kaballah’s historical development, there exists a basic consensus among kabalists on man’s essential nature…At opposite poles, both man and God encompass within their being the entire cosmos. However, whereas God contains all by virtue of being its Creator and Initiator in whom everything is rooted and all potency is hidden, man’s role is to complete this process by being the agent through whom all the powers of creation are fully activated and made manifest. What exists seminally in God unfolds and develops in man… Because he alone has been granted the gift of free will, it lies in his power to either advance or disrupt through his actions the unity of what takes place in the upper and lower worlds… his principal mission is to bring about Tikkun Olamor restoration of this world and to connect the lower with the upper.” 1. The concept of tikkun, or restoration, involves the problem of evil, and again according to Scholem, “the root of evil resides within the Ein-Sof (hidden God) itself.” Evil, therefore, for the kabalist is simply the sitra ahra or “emanation of the left” and at the end of time, through the process of man’s work of tikkuneven the devil, “Samaelwill become Sa’el, one of the 72 holy Names of God”. … “In Greek this is called apokatasis (sic)”…”To use the neoplatonic (Plotinus) formula, the creation involves the departure of all from the one and its return to the one.” 2.

A Brief History

Although many adepts claim that the Kabbalah, or secret oral tradition, goes back to Moses or even Adam, Scholem places its practical beginnings in the Second Temple period, posterior to the Babylonian exile. 3. (The words Cabala, Kabbalah, Qabalah etc. are virtually interchangeable. Kabbalah is used here as in Scholem’s works.)

Once again, according to Scholem, the development of Kabbalah was coeval with Hellenistic syncretic religion and Gnosticism. Both Hellenistic Gnosis and Rabbinical Gnosis were based on the theory that there are spiritual emanations of God (Aeons and Archons for the Greek, Sephirot for the Hebrew) which fill the primordial cosmos. These, if properly understood and harnessed lead back to the deity. Historically, the esoteric teachings contained in the Kabbalah passed from such groups as the Essenes, or Qumran apocalyptics, through the Diaspora to the Medieval Provençal and Spanish thinkers who produced the Sepher Yezira (Book of Creation) and Zohar (Book of Splendor). These speculations were further developed in the sixteenth century by Jacob Cordovero and Isaac Luria whose writings led to the Messianic hopes placed in Shabbetai Zevi in 1666. Since that time, in Jewish circles, the Kabbalah lay in fermentation among the Hasidim (Pious ones) of Eastern Europe and the Doenmeh, a strange group of followers of the failed Messiah, Shabbetai Zevi, who became false converts to other religions in order to seek redemption through apostasy and sin. 6The Rabbis of normative Judaism with its emphasis on Halakah, “the Law,” have traditionally viewed the Kabbalah with suspicion Some recent movements, especially those coming out of Eastern Europe, such as the Chabad Lubavicher movement of the Late Rabbi Schneerson have tried to combine traditional Halachic teachings with elements of Kaballah. preaching the esoteric doctrine of Hochmah (Wisdom), Binah (Intelligence), and Daath (Harmony, Balance, “Cha – ba – d” ), described below.

The influence of the Kabbalah on segments of Christian thinking has flourished since the Renaissance. It was openly quoted in the works of such influential thinkers as Pico della Mirandola, Johannes Reuchlin, Agrippa of Nettesheim, Cardinal Egidio da Viterbo, the Franciscan Friar, Francesco Giorgio of Venice, as well as the apostate Dominican, Giordano Bruno. The tradition carried through into the 17th century in the writings of Jacob Boehme and culminated in the eighteenth century within the esoteric writings of such figures as Martines de Pasqually and Louis Claude de Saint Martin. 7. In modern times it may be found as the core doctrine of occult, theosophical Freemasonry. 8. (See: Kabbalah and Freemasonry below)

The Doctrine – Dialectical Monism

In a much simplified exposition of the basic Kabalistic doctrine, all begins with Ein-Soph ( alt. Ayn- Soph, En-Soph) the infinite, or literally without measure. Like the Gnostic “God beyond god” or Pleroma, it contains within its essence both the active and passive ( male and female, good and evil) principles in their full potential. In the beginning, before there was anything, the eternal source, Ein-Soph contracted itself within and then filled the subsequent void with emanations of its own essence. This contraction and expansion is called the Zimzum. (See: Fig. 1 ( below left)

According to the Zohar (Book of Splendor), what was engraved first on the void were the words: “Let there be light.” in the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Subsequently, El Gadol (Great God) emerged from the primal ether on the right as the masculine principle and Elohim (Darkness) emerged on the left as the feminine principle. Then appeared the actual “Light” signifying “that the Left was included in the Right and the Right in the Left.” 9. From the initial point of light streamed forth, in concentric circles, ten mystical numbers or paths known as Sephiroth. The names of these Sephiroth are as follows: Keter (Crown) Binah (Intelligence) Hokmah(Wisdom) Gevurah(Justice) Gedullah (Greatness) Tiferet (Beauty) Hod (Honor) Nezah (Victory) Yesod(Foundation) and Malkhut (Kingdom). These Sephiroth would come to form Adam Kadmon the celestial archetypal man.

Adam Kadmon

This was not the Adam of the Bible but a cosmic prototype for all of reality akin to the Neo-Platonic Demiurge. The Sephiroth may also be displayed as the descending Azilut –”emanations” which form the”Tree of Life.” Fig. 2 (above right)

The first three Sephiroth: Keter (Crown) Binah(Intelligence) and Hokhma (Wisdom) received the “Light” and contained it. (See the three faces in the diagram above) Thus the divine essence is preserved in a tripartite interrelationship, or immanent “Trinity” within the mind of Adam Kadmon, the macrocosm and within the mind of individual man, the microcosm. The following seven Sephiroth could not contain the light and shattered, forming shards of coagulated energy (matter) called Kelippot. Again, following the Neo-platonic or Gnostic doctrine, the farther the Sephirah lies from the center, the denser the matter. Malkhuth, therefore, as farthest away from the center, forms the earthly kingdom or the feet of Adam Kadmon. (See again: Fig.1, )

Through the break up of the Sephiroth, the equilibrium and unity of God has been destroyed. The “light” and the “dark” of the primal Light have been separated and it is the obligation of man to re-establish both his own inner unity or wholeness and the wholeness of God. To accomplish this project called Tikkun, The Jewish people as Knesset Israel have the predominant role. According to the Kabbalah, from the earliest Spanish manuscripts onward, the Jewish race has seen itself as the representative of the Shekhinah, ** (see below) the feminine principle split off from God, reminiscent of the Gnostic Sophia. 10. According to kabalistic (Hasidic) Tradition it is said: Just because of this split, God needs man, whose task it is to reunite the riven opposites within the divine personality itself. From this point of view the exile of the Jewish people receives deep and special meaning. For this exile of the people corresponds in the `upper world, so to speak, to an exile of the Shekinah (supposed feminine half of God) who went into exile with them. The return of the Jewish people from exile therefore means, in Jewish mysticism, the redemption of the Jewish people it is above all an earthly image, and likeness of an inner-divine drama of redemption, of the homecoming of the Shekhina to God… So while man needing redemption strives to restore the disturbed world order, he is at the same time working toward the redemption of God and his union with the Shekhinah and thus toward the restoration and realization of the wholeness of God. 11. A tradition also holds that the final Masiach, messiah, who will achieve Tikkun Olam,concordia discors or “world harmony,”will be a manifestation of the Shekinah, i.e., female.

Within the overall historical perspective and purpose of the Kabbala i.e. the ultimate complete unity of God and creation, there are two fundamental problems to be resolved. First is the relationship of the individual human being to God and second the problem of evil.

For the Kabalistic initiate, while awaiting the final restoration of history, there are various techniques available for personal spiritual development. One is meditation on the mysteries of the Sephiroth called Kavvanah and another involving numerology is called Gematria. The technique of Kavvanah involves mental concentration on the combinations of the sacred names which pave the way for ecstatic union with the divine source, Metatron, (alternately known as the prince of God’s countenance, Prince of this world, Angel of light, or ones own true self). 12. This union is mystically known as Zivvug ha-Kadosh, or coupling face to face, which is said to produce an internal harmony of the restrictive (passive) powers of Din and the out flowing (active) powers of Rahanim. Once again one finds Concordia Discors, or Coincidentia Oppositorum, the fusion of opposites as object of the endeavor. 13.

Seen in this light, the parallel between Kabbalah and the Eastern Religions is quite obvious. It is, of course, the resolution in harmony of the passive Yin and the active Yang according to the Tao which produces the “enlightened” state where all duality merges into oneness, a noble path that leads to contentment and peace. 14. In reality, according to Gershom Scholem, “the Techniques of `prophetic Kabbalah‘ that were used to aid the ascent of the soul, such as breathing exercises, the repetition of the Divine Names, and meditation on colors, bear a marked resemblance to those of both Indian Yoga and Muslim Sufism. 15. Gematriaon the other hand, involves the belief that the Hebrew alphabet is the first emanation of Ayn-Sof and that the arrangement of these 22 letters, according to their numerical value, make up the seventy-two sacred names of the All Holy as well as the cosmos. Gematria can be used for the concordance of Biblical texts and messianic prophecy as well as in calling up spirits. 16. This latter property may be employed, at least in theory, both for good and for evil. The manipulator of spirits, (good or evil) is called a Ba’al Shem or master of the divine names. 17. According to legend, in the 16th century, Rabbi Loewe used Gematria to create a fearsome creature called the Golem to protect the Prague Ghetto.

The problem of evil for the Kabalistic is complex, as, if all comes from and is contained in the Ayn Sof, what man calls evil must be intrinsic to the divine nature. What is it, then, in the divine nature that may be called “evil”? Once again, according to Scholem: The determining factor is the estrangement of created things from their source of emanation, a separation which leads to manifestations of what appears to us to be the power of evil. But the other [evil] has no metaphysical reality … outside the structure of the Sephiroth … the Sepher Gevurah as `the left hand of the Holy One blessed be He,’ and as `a quality whose name is evil’ … has many offshoots in the forces of judgement, the constricting and limiting powers of the universe

Cutting through the flowery rhetoric, it would appear that Evil, for the Kabalist, is any force that restricts or limits (divine) human freedom and creativity. It [evil] reverts to that part of God which is designated, Pure judgment, untempered by any mitigating admixture, [which has] produced from within itself the sitra ahra (the other side)… The `emanation of the left.’ 18. According to Nathan of Gaza, the grand apologist of 17th century Shabbetean Kabbalah The first light was entirely active [creative] and the second light entirely passive [restrictive] immersed in the depths of itself. The root of evil is a principle within the Ayn-Soph itself which holds itself aloof from creation and seeks to prevent the forms of light which contain thought from being actualized, not because it is evil by nature but only because its whole desire is that nothing should exist apart from Ayn-Soph. For the Kabalistic, of whatever school, neither good nor evil, exist as such. Whatever meaning there is to existence involves Tikkunor the restoration of harmony and balance between the forces of expansive light and restrictive darkness until all is once again absorbed in the Ayn-Soph.

These speculations, it seems, are the inevitable result of dialectic opposition in a monistic system. The argument is as follows: If the universe is an overflowing or projection of God, (See Plotinus Ennead 5) and the universe contains what man calls “evil,” then “evil” is contained in the nature of God. If, however, God is all good, then evil is not evil, it is but the dark side or foil of good. There is, in fact, no other possible logical solution to the problem of evil in a universe produced by emanation rather than creation from nothing. As man develops his own inner divine potential (individually and collectively) as an emanation of God there must be a balance of the progressive and the restrictive within the person and society to attain the ideal. This was, of course, the “enlightenment” proposed by Leibnitz in his Théodicée. 19. This form of thinking has impacted Western thought from the 16th century to the present.

In terms of eschatology, the imanentist theology of the Kabbalah must inevitably lead to the doctrine of Apokatastasis the reintegration of all spiritual emanations, active and passive, “good” and “evil,” into the divinity at the end of time. If God is all, then God can not leave part of himself out side of himself forever. This is precisely what the Kabbalah predicts with its doctrine of Tikkun Olam. After myriad reincarnations, the souls of all men, * as well as of angels and demons, will form once again the unity of God. As the forces of creative light expand in man and dark judgment is absorbed, so also shall it be with God. It is even said that the Arch Devil Samaelwill be transformed at time’s end to Sa’elone of the 72 holy Names of God.20

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*It should be noted that there is some dispute among Kabalistic as to whether all sons of Adam or only Jews have within them the “divine spark” or Neshama which would allow re-incorporation to the Ein-Sof. According to the Zohar, only Jewish people come from the “holy side” or sitra di-kedusha from which the divine spark proceeds. Non Jewish people are products of the “other side” or sitra ahra and do not have the “divine” neshama but only the animal soul called nefesh and a spirit of cognitive ability called the ruah. 21.

_ ** The word Shekinah, simply said, does not appear in the Hebrew Bible. The term MiShKaN, from which the word Shekinahis derived, refers to the Sanctuary in the wilderness not the being who dwells therein. As Feminist Hebrew scholar/Rabbi, Lynn Gottlieb in her book, She Who Dwells Within, points out, “The word Shekinah first appears in the Mishna and Talmud (ca 200 CE), where it is used interchangeably with WHVH and Elohim as names of God…. By 1000 CE, the very mythologies so suppressed in the Bible erupted in the heart of Jewish mysticism, known as the Kabul, and Shekinah became YHVH’ wife, lover and daughter.” This word only entered into common usage among Jewish thinkers in Medieval Spain where “Kabalistic” (Gnostic) mysticism took root from the writings of Moses de Leon in the Sefer ha-Zohar or Book of Splendor (c. 1280 AD).

As explained by Daniel Matt in his Essential Kabbalah, “In Kabbalah, Shekhinah becomes full-fledged She: …the feminine half of God.” This doctrine spread through Southern Europe to Palestine and Turkey and then upward to Poland and Russia after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. More recently, Joseph Dan of the University of Jerusalem in an interview with Jewish Book News (May 9th 1996 issue) states, “The Kaballah insists that there is a feminine aspect within the divinity itself, the Shekhinah, and therefore …sexual life is applicable to the divine world.” ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

An interesting addendum is that of Polish “convert” from Judaism to Catholicism, Jacob Frank. Frank first claimed himself to be the Messiah in Poland in 1756 as part of a Kabalistic Trinity made up of Attika Kadisha (The Holy Ancient One), Melika Kadisha ( The Holy King –Messiah), and the Shekhinah (feminine earthly half of the divinity). As he was persecuted by the Orthodox Jewish community for his bizarre faith and orgiastic initiations, he and many of his followers came into the Catholic Church precisely to introduce a feminine, or earthly, element, the Shekhinah, into the Christian Trinity under the guise of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Secretly present in his own daughter Eva, but to be made manifest in the last days as a ultimate feminine Messiah) 22

1. Gershom Scholem, Kaballah (New York: Dorset Press:1974) p.226,227

3.Gershom Scholem Kabbalah (New York, Dorset Press, 1987) p. 3 – 5. The Second Temple period dates from the return of the Jewish people from the Babylonian exile in 538 BC until the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 AD. The influence of Sumerian and/or Persian religion on the exiled Jewish community has been suggested as a possible source of the Kabbalah

  1. Ibid. pp. 5-12
  2. Ibid. Pp. 8-22 The book of Genesis, for example, is treated as an esoteric explanation of the entrapment of the soul in matter in its descent from the world of Azilutinto the world of creation Beriah and the book of Exodus, by contrast, begins the work of liberation and re-ascent of the soul to the spiritual order.
  1. N.B. ibid. 284, 327 – 332 According to Scholem, after the false Messiah, ShabbetaiZevi converted to Islam in 1666 many of his followers (known as Doenmeh – apostates) did so as well. According to the 18 th C. Polish Shabbatean, Jacob Frank, the raison d’être of these conversions would appear to be as follows: “under the `burden of silence’ the true believer, who has God in his secret heart, should go through all religions, all rites, and established orders without accepting any and indeed annihilating all from within and thereby establishing true freedom. Organized religion is only a cloak to be put on and thrown away on the way to the `sacred knowledge,’ the gnosis of the place where all traditional values are destroyed in the stream of `life’. In this regard it should be noted that the Doenmeh indulged in orgiastic sexual activity especially during the spring festival Hag ha-Keves. Scholem also acknowledges that this movement influenced the universal upheavals of the eighteenth century as for-runner of the Enlightenment, Jacobinism and Freemasonry. He cites as some of the acknowledged Doenmeh of history: the majority of KemalAtaturk’s `Young Turk’ movement and the founder of Polish Messianism, the poet Adam Mickiewicz.
  1. Ibid. pp. 197 – 201
  2. Albert Pike .Morals and Dogma of Free Masonry (Charleston, Southern Jurisdiction Publication, 1871) pp.581-800
  3. The Zohar I Sperling and Simon, trans. p. 70, cit. June Singer Androgyny Toward a New Theory of Sexuality (New York: Anchor, 1977) p. 153 N.B. This concept is fundamental to understanding of the Kabbalah as thus can be seen the initial mixing of light and darkness, male and female, good and evil as the initial act of the “One God,” and the Kabalist can pronounce with impunity the traditional Jewish Shema–”Shema Ysrael Adonai Elehenu, Adonai Ehad” “The Lord is God, The Lord is One.”
  4. Scholem pp. 88 –168
  5. Siegmund Hurwitz Psychological Aspects of Early Hasidic Literature Timeless Documents of Soul (Evanston, IL: North Western University Press, 1968) pp. 202 – 203 cit. Singer, p. 160
  6. Scholem p. 180
  7. Ibid. pp. 141, 143, 161, 162,, 167, 194
  8. Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai The Teaching of Buddha (Tokyo, Japan,1970 ) p. 62
  9. Ibid. p. 125, See also Malcolm Godwin Angels, An Endangered Species (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990) entry for Metatron pp. 59 –61
  10. Scholem p. 180
  11. Ibid. pp. 337 – 343
  12. Ibid. p. 310
  13. Ibid. p. 127
  14. Ibid. p. 128
  15. Bid. Pp. 156 – 157
  1. Genesis 1:1-2 “BerishitBarra Elohim” “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth…” The verb barra in Hebrew means to create from nothing. It is only used for the divine act at the beginning of time. From this Biblical account comes the traditional orthodox Jewish version of creation called Torah di – Beriah as opposed to the Kabalistic Torah de Azilut or world of emanations. In both traditional Jewish and Christian theology, God is worshipped as a personal, omnipotent, omniscient, creator who is other than his creation. For the Roman Catholic, the formula may be stated as follows: “(Deus) … est re et essentia a mundo distinctus, et super omnia praeter ipsum sunt aut concippi posunt ineffabiliter excelsus.”Vatican I caps. I, ca 1-4) “(He …is really and essentially distinct from the world…and ineffably raised above all things which are outside of Himself or which can be conceived as being so.”
  2. Scholem, p. 302

Kabbalah – the Tree of Life

Kabbalah is the ancient heart of Jewish mysticism a deeply profound philosophy of life. It has been said that if you study Kabbalah seriously you will have at your fingertips the secrets of life, the universe, everything… However it is no instant fix: it takes years and years of deep thought and meditation. Kabbalah is not a religion or a sect, it is simply a highly complex map of life, a key to this world and all the other worlds that are said to lie beyond our own.

THE ORIGINS OF KABBALAH
Daniel C. Matt, author of The Essential Kabbalah says, “The kabbalists made the fantastic claim that their mystical teachings derived from the Garden of Eden.” However, even if Kabbalah is not that ancient it still has a venerable history. The account of Moses and the burning bush and the testimonies of the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel show clear links to Kabbalah. However the main Kabbalistic text the Sefer Yetsirah, or Book of Creation, was apparently composed in Palestine sometime between the third and sixth centuries.

While Jewish scholars usually restricted their studies to the Bible (Old Testament) and the Talmud, only a few researched the far more cerebral, spiritual and mystical texts of the Kabbalah. Daniel Matt says the Kabbalah jumped to Europe, to Provence in particular, towards the end of the twelfth century and over the next hundred years it spread to Catalonia and Castile. Further texts appeared, including the highly influential Zohar, composed in a trance state by a Spanish Jewish mystic called Moses de Leon in the thirteenth century.

Since then many mystical traditions have used Kabbalistic symbolism – from the Freemasons to the Rosicrucians. It was taken up by occultists such as Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune who brought it to the public eye by writing about their experiences in numerous books. In the last few decades the knowledge has become popularised by books by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki and Will Parfitt who have concentrated less on the complex theory and more on practical ways to use the knowledge.

THE TEACHINGS OF KABBALAH
Kabbalah offers a map of creation – from the first intention of God down to the lowliest micro-organism on the earth from the swirling mass of energy and matter which we now understand as the basis of quantum physics to the everyday anxieties and worries that make up our individual psyches. Although the Kabbalah is essentially Jewish in origin, it embraces all creeds and religions. And despite the fact that the other great Jewish religious texts (the Old Testament and the Talmud) are so intrinsically male-centred, the Kabbalah shows a vision of male and female in perfect balance – it offers the ultimate in equality. Equally it does not shy away from the concept of evil. While Kabbalistic texts speak of angels and archangels, they also point out demons and arch-demons. The Kabbalistic world is one of opposites held in balance. So perhaps it’s not surprising that such a revolutionary system should have stayed underground for so many years.

Kabbalah can be as simple or complex as you wish. Some people simply use the symbols of the central symbol of Kabbalah, the Tree of Life, as a source of meditation – to help them understand different aspects of themselves or their lives. Others study it in great depth, poring over scholarly texts debating the various attributes of the Tree of Life. Others see it as a true mystical path, offering a direct route to a closer experience of God. And some others use it as part of a magical tradition, to develop power and control over all aspects of themselves and their lives.

The Kabbalah explains that God created the world by divine speech. As the Bible says quite clearly: “God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” And “By the word of God the heavens were made by the breath of his mouth, all their hosts”

However kabbalists go into far greater detail. God used specific sounds, words which also had specific numerical significance, to create the sephiroth – ten spheres that map the path from pure divinity down through various stages into the material world. You could say that the true language of Kabbalah is mathematics. Modern commentators also point out that the Kabbalah’s descriptions of creation can be understood in light of the new physics.

By meditating on the spheres and paths of the Tree of Life it is said that we can gain deep insights into our own natures, into our place in the world and even into the nature of God. Will Parfitt who has written one of the best practical introductions to Kabbalah, The Living Qabalah, maintains that the Kabbalah can help you do virtually everything better – from expanding consciousness to relating and communicating better from formulating ideas with more clarity to communicating with “extra-dimensional entities”.

THE TREE OF LIFE
The Tree of Life lies at the heart of Kabbalah. Scholars say it offers us a map to the conscious and unconscious, to the world around us and to the many hidden worlds that lie above and below our everyday consciousness.

By meditating on the individual spheres, the sephiroth, or travelling the paths from sephirah to sephirah (in a form of guided visualisation called pathworking) the kabbalist can gain understanding of himself and communicate with his higher consciousness, discarnate “masters”, angels and archangels.

There are vast tomes written on the complex symbolism, meanings and applications of the various spheres on the Tree of Life. These are the basics:

• MALKUTH – The Kingdom. Malkuth corresponds to the body and to the material, outer world, our universe. It is the lowest sephirah, the closest to our everyday life and hence the starting point for all kabbalists and for all journeys on the Tree. It represents the contact between our bodies and the world outside how we relate to the physical world through our senses. The aim of the kabbalist in Malkuth is to see the vision of the Holy Guardian Angel. The main colours of this sephirah are yellow, olive, russet and black flecked with gold. Its symbols include the equal-armed cross, a double cube and the magic circle.

• YESOD – The Foundation. Kabbalists tend to think of Yesod as embodying the subconscious – everything we have picked up from our past and carry within us, often repressed, largely unknown. It also holds all our future potential. Yesod is equally linked with our sexual nature and with the Moon. The task of Yesod is to balance our selves, to make ourselves whole. Its colours are indigo, violet and very dark purple. Its symbols are perfumes and sandals.

• HOD – Glory. Hod is linked with the mind, the intellect and our will-power. It is the sephirah of communication and its task is to learn true and honest communication, both between the various parts of your total self and with others. It is also the sphere linked with magic and spells -with “mental” magic. Its colours are violet, purple and orange. Its symbol is the apron.

• NETZACH – Victory. This sephirah is associated with feelings – positive and negative energies such as love and hate, joy and sorrow. The task of Netzach is to learn how to be governed by the “higher” emotions rather than be at the beck and call of the lower emotions: to cultivate unselfishness, altruism and true feelings of love. Netzach is a beautiful sephirah, concerned also with all manner of creative art – painting, dance, music (whether you participate or observe). Its colours are amber, emerald and olive flecked with gold. Its symbols are the rose, the lamp and the girdle.

• TIPHARETH – Beauty. Tiphareth lies at the centre of the Tree of Life. It is often known as the Christ-centre. Tiphareth represents the centre of the whole person – the self, the ego, the soul – pure self-awareness. The lesson of Tiphareth is to live in harmony, to have a clearly defined sense of self that derives from equal shares of thinking, feeling and sensing. At this point on the Tree the task of the kabbalist is to contact and converse with the Guardian Angel (linking yourself with a sense of the eternal, the spiritual). Tiphareth’s colours are rose-pink, yellow and rich-salmon pink. Its symbols include the cross, the cube and a truncated pyramid.

• GEBURAH – Severity. Geburah is a tough sephirah of judgement and unmitigated truth. It is linked with personal will and power. When balanced, this brings about strength, order, activity and focused awareness when unbalanced, it can manifest in manipulation, selfishness, pride, over-ambition and competitiveness. In this sephirah one needs to be totally honest with oneself. Its colours are orange, bright red and scarlet. Its symbols include the pentagon, the sword, the spear and the scourge.

• CHESED – Mercy (sometimes known as Love). This sephirah is concerned with the manifestation of form – not form as we understand matter but rather the “thought” forms of the mind. The challenge in Chesed is to balance the experience of love – to foster feelings of caring, sensitivity and co-operation without descending into dependence, attachment, the inability to say no and an over-desire to please. The colours of Chesed are deep violets, purples and blue. Its symbols include the orb, the wand and the sceptre.

• DAATH – Knowledge. Daath is the one sephirah which is not situated on the Tree, it is the mysterious hidden sephirah that lies in the middle of the Abyss, above Tiphareth and below Kether. Many kabbalists see Daath in a negative light – as representing knowledge without understanding, restriction and dispersion. It is also the prime link to all that is evil and demonic in the world. A great demon called Choronzon is said to live in the Abyss – known as the “consumer” of human consciousness. However translated into psychological terms, it could be said that the Abyss holds all the unresolved and irrational elements of the psyche and that no-one can cross the Abyss into true spirituality without resolving these aspects.

• BINAH – Understanding. Binah is the earliest manifestation of purely feminine force on the Tree. It is also the first appearance of form. Energy is just starting to turn into matter. Below Binah lies the “abyss”, the gulf between the actual world below and the potential world above. Binah is known as spiritual awareness and love and the experience of Binah is known as the “Vision of Sorrow”, on one hand an understanding of the full impact of the “fall” of humanity on the other a knowledge of the healing power of true grief. The colours of Binah are primarily crimson, black and dark brown. The symbols include the cup or chalice.

• CHOCKMAH – Wisdom. Chockmah signifies spiritual will and purpose, the result of applying spiritual purpose to understanding. The experience of Chockmah is that of seeing God face to face. Chockmah represents the dynamic thrust and drive of spiritual force – the primal masculine force. The colours of Chockmah are primarily soft blues and greys. The symbols of Chockmah are all phallic symbols – standing stones, the tower, the rod of power.

• KETHER – The Crown. The fount of Creation, where life begins, where there is no distinction between male and female, energy and matter. No-one alive can fully experience this sphere which represents union with God. However kabbalists can glimpse the glory of God through this sephirah. Kether is light, its colours are pure white brilliance and white flecked with gold. The main symbol of Kether is the equal-armed cross, the swastika (which was an esoteric symbol long before the Nazis colonised it).

A SIMPLE KABBALISTIC EXERCISE
Most kabbalistic practice involves the development of visualisation and meditative powers, the ability to move through the Tree, experiencing the individual worlds it contains. This simple exercise, described in The Living Qabalah, gives a taster.

• Set aside a short period of time and make sure you won’t be disturbed.
• Visualise yourself and the space that surrounds you as completely enclosed in a sphere of bright blue light.
• Take up a comfortable position (sitting or lying is best for this exercise). Close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly.
• Now imagine a rose-bush, see its roots, stem, leaves and flowers.
• Focus on an individual closed rose-bud, enveloped still by green sepals. Take time to visualise all the details as clearly as possible.
• Imagine the sepals starting to open, turning back to reveal the petals inside – tender, delicate, still closed. What colour is your rose-bud?
• Now the petals themselves slowly begin to open. As they do so, realise the identity between this rose-bud and your heart. Be aware of a blossoming also occurring in your heart.
• Imagine a ray of sunlight strikes the opening rose-bud, illuminating it. As you see this, feel it inside also.
• Identify the opening of the rose with the opening of your heart. As the rose reveals its full beauty and glory, take in its perfume, sense it enriching your inner being.
• Stay with the experience for as long as you wish, then return to normal consciousness – either draw your rose or write down your experience.


Angels and Kabbalists

According to Gerard Serrat, a guide to Jewish Girona, this place is called the Kabbalists Garden because, centuries ago, the mystical Jewish kabbalists used to meet here in secret, at the edge of medieval Girona, to do esoteric practices. The brass wall plaques inscribed with the Hebrew names of angels point to this connection, as does the golden angel. Although most tourist guides think that the statue represents the Archangel Michael, its attributes are actually those of the Archangel Metatron —and Metatron is the “patron” of Kabbalah.

An Eastern Orthodox Church icon of the "Seven Archangels". ( Public Domain )

Girona was a major medieval Kabbalah center, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the garden pays hidden homage to that history. The important scholar and teacher Rabbi Moses ben Nahman (Nachmanides) lived in Girona in the 13th century and headed a major Kabbalist school there. In 1263, in what is called the Disputation of Barcelona, he was forced to debate a Dominican scholar over questions of faith. Although Nachmanides won the debate—or, rather, because he won it—he was forced to flee Girona and died in the Holy Land in 1270.

21st-century artistic depiction of Nachmanides in Acre, Israel. (Chesdovi/ CC BY-SA 3.0 )

And what about the angel plaques? Some of the brass plaques have been pried free and stolen, but a number remain. And some of these are puzzling. Although Hebrew words are written from right to left, some of these plaques are inscribed in Hebrew that is written from left to right. And, according to one knowledgeable reader of Hebrew, some of the plaques are written using the wrong Hebrew letters.

Some of the remaining plaques in the garden. (©Elyn Aviva)

Are these inconsistencies simply errors made by the inscriber who, perhaps, didn’t actually read Hebrew? Or are they, following a well-documented esoteric tradition, an attempt to “claim” the power of the names by reversing them? Although I have consulted several authorities, nobody is prepared to give me an answer.

Traditionally, there are 72 holy names of God , created through various permutations of Hebrew letters. On the retaining wall at the entrance, it appears that there were originally 27 plaques. Is this perhaps a hidden reference both to gematria, the Kabbalistic system of letter and numerical associations, and to the importance of reversal?


Tree Of Life

The Tree of Life was designated to describe to man the structure of creation, the placement of man and the placement of God. Since time immemorial, man was likened to the Tree of Life whose legs are rooted in the ground and whose head is lifted to the sky.

In Jewish tradition, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life serves as a synthesis of all creation. Written 4000 years ago and attributed to Abraham who invented the concept of the Tree of Life, the Book of Creation describes the evolution of the seed from which sprouted all branches, fathers, mothers, conceptions, doctrines, and religions. The Tree of Life appears as a simple and coherent diagram, but its deeper meaning is concealed and constitutes a source of cosmic inspiration and infinite knowledge. The structure contains 10 round Sephirot (enumerations) and 22 routes that connect them, which all in all create 32 routes of wisdom.

The word Sephira (enumeration) connotes a number, from 1 to 10. The kabbalists also interpreted the word as deriving from the word ‘sapphire’ (light stone) and perceived the Sephirot as the lights with which the sky and the earth were created.

All 10 Sephirot are a single power – the light of God. The Sephirot through which the light is transferred are different from one another one infuses the other in a specific order, like a candle that lights another candle and loses none of its own light in the process. The Sephirot are a supreme cosmic energy and may be envisioned as packages of energy, each of which has its own wisdom and unique characteristics.


The structure of the Tree of Life is constructed of 3 lines:

1. The Right Line
the masculine side the element of air and fire represents the spine of wisdom.

2. The Left Line –
the column of Binah (understanding) symbolizes the feminine, maternal side.

3. The Middle Line –
Symbolizes the neutral force that combines the other two into a balanced state.

The three-column structure gives us a deep understanding of the divine essence and the significance of the unification of male and female. The structure is closely related to the Kabbalah, the Jewish mysticism. The energy that emanates from the Tree of Life is derived from all the light and is based on man’s desire to receive in order to influence.

When man lives in the world of action, he has access to this immensely powerful energy system. But he has access to higher worlds. Man’s essence is spiritual the soul belongs to higher worlds – the world of nobility, the world of arrival and the world of creation. The body, however, belongs to the world of monarchy, of action, the physical and the corporeal. The body is the soul’s external mantle, and therefore man must organize new tools in order to be able to sanctify himself so he can function in higher worlds.
Man is the will to receive and the creator is the will to influence.
Man represents the multiplicity and God the One. God is the light and man is the vessel the vessel needs the light in order to receive, and the light needs the vessel in order to give. According to the Book of Creation, God created his world using 32 wisdom routes that enable man (the vessel) to design and build himself in order to influence, and the process repeats itself.

The knowledge of the numbers that represent the 10 Sephirot is embedded in the Kabbalistic numerology. It includes influences of stars and astrological signs that alter as man develops his senses beyond his five earthly senses. It connects one macrocosm (the creator) and another (man). The Tree of Life is built on the idea of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. The tree’s height is divided into 3 parts that symbolize the spirit, the soul and the body.

According to the Kabbalah, man exists in this world to fulfill his will and receive his birthright. Without the desire to accept and receive, we would not be able to attract light. The stronger the desire the better, but we must always aspire to a balance by receiving and giving. This is how we grow. The Tree of Life indicates the spirit’s descension to the material world and the material world’s ascension to the spirit this is man’s fate, even though he is located in this world, that is, the world of Malchut. He can rise to the spirit through the Sephirot if his connection to God is powerful.

The 10 rays of life, to which is attributed the power that stands behind universe and man, the power that defines and encompasses all. The letters and numbers are the tools of the light. While the light is always the light, what changes are the tools through which it is expressed. 22 paths connect the 10 Sephirot to each other and each Sephira has its own name and number and its purpose in our world. Each path is parallel to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet and all together create the Kabbalist Tree of Life and the map of the universe.


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