Thirteen Keys to the Qabalistic Tree of Life
Article ID: 14897
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Author: Robin Fennelly [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: January 8th. 2012
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As magickal practitioners we are constantly in a state of change and exploration. We intuitively seek out that which will enhance and inform our skill set for more effective use and personal growth. It is for this reason that study of the Qabalah through the lens of The Western Magickal system is not only valuable but also a highly relevant tool in pulling all the pieces together.
Within the Tradition of which I am part, The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, the principals of the Qabalah are used regularly and rigorously. The dynamic overlay of the Qabalistic Tree of Life to every facet and nuance of practical workings forms a very strong core foundation from which many other branches can be extended. The lengthy list of correspondences that move between and link the disciplines of astrology, tarot, color, vibration and more firmly attached within the discipline of Qabalah. And, it is the nature of this exchange of multi-layered disciplines and studies that true progress, understanding and opening to the Greater Mysteries may be found.
About This Series of Articles
Let me begin by saying that this series of articles is the briefest snapshot of what is a lifetime (s) of study. It is the proverbial onion, whose layers, though thin in structure are many and it takes lots of careful peeling to get to the core essence of its flavors. The intent is to whet your appetite for further knowledge and revealing of your own truths around this complex subject.
Each month a specific sphere (Sephirah) of the Qabalistic Tree of Life will be the focus. The emphasis is on a Qabalistic study within the regimen of the Western Mystery Tradition and the foundations of study will include notes and information regarding each sphere. Reference materials and exercises of study will provide the foundation for greater understanding of the experience of The Tree of Life as a working and living model of spiritual exploration and growth. This information will follow a format that includes:
* Expression through the Four Worlds
* Energy and Attributes of the Sphere (including specific correspondences)
* The Lesson of the Sphere
* Living Tree Exercise
* Journaling or Meditative Exercise
I will provide links to additional information, pathworking and suggested reading that aligns with this course for those who wish to approach these installments from a more structured perspective.
Lesson One: An Introduction to The Tree of Life
Sages speak of the immutable Tree of Life,
with its taproot above and its branches below.
- Bhagavad Gita
The Mystery of Qabala (h)
The Deeper meaning of the Tree of Life is a study that becomes a journey into the spiritual and mystical nature of ourselves, our world and all that is of this Cosmos. There are two basic distinctions between the Jewish Mystical Kabbalah and the Western Mystery system of the Qabalah. The difference in spelling is generally the first clue as to which system is being used. The Tree of Life, itself, remains the same within each; but, the approach and what energies, correspondences and analogies are made form that which is adapted to become a purely Jewish perspective or one with occult roots.
Within the Jewish Kabbalah- the 10 Sephiroth are Ten Divine Essences referring to the 10 aspects of the Divine God. The importance of the naming of that God and the vibration of tone and sound related to that "naming" are of most importance to this system.
Within the Western Mystery Qabalah- the 10 Sephiroth relate to aspects of consciousness, the macrocosm", the microcosm, The Universe or the totality of creation in correspondence with the Human Being.
The Tree of Life describes the descent of the divine into the manifest world, and methods by which divine union may be attained in this life. It can be viewed as a map of the human psyche and of the workings of creation, both manifest and un-manifest. Its components are:
The story of the creative action of manifestation can be described in this way:
In the beginning there was nothingness- the absence of substance and form (Ain) ; and as the nothing became aware of itself it also realized the limitlessness nature (Ain Soph) of its being. This realization expanded and with more awareness came the birthing of limitless light (Ain Soph Aur) . This limitless light felt the urge to create- and from it emanated Divine Intelligence – Kether. All things needing balance- in its wisdom Kether split and from this source of being the remaining 9 spheres became emanations of the varied permutations of light, knowledge, mercy, severity, beauty, love, glory, imagination and finally rest in the Kingdom of Earth- Malkuth.
These emanations are assigned specific attributes and energies, each expressed both singularly and simultaneously within each of the remaining spheres.
1-Kether The Crown Union with God
2- (C) Hokmah Wisdom Vision of God
3-Binah Understanding Vision of Sorrow
4- (C) Hesed Mercy Vision of Love
5-Geburah Severity Vision of Power
6-Tifareth Beauty Vision of Harmony
7-Netsah (zach) Victory Vision of Beauty
8-Hod Glory Vision of Splendor
9-Yesod Foundation Vision of the Workings of the Universe
10-Malkuth Kingdom Vision of the Holy Guardian Angel
The Three Veils
The veils reside above the tree and represent the levels of non-existence just prior to creative force.
Ain- is literally translated as "nothing" and is the highest and furthest away from Kether. It is the complete absence of existence.
Ain Soph- the middle veil emanates from Ain and translates as "no limit". It is force - formless and without container, vessel or bounds.
Ain Soph Aur- the closest veil to the Tree itself, emanates from the limitless nature of Ain Soph. It means "limitless or eternal light". Now there is light to serve as catalyst for recognition of the "nothing". Now there is the spark needed to fuel the creative urge to create and make manifest. Now there is the beginning of what will spill forth into Kether and move through the further emanations towards Malkuth.
10 Sephiroth (spheres) of Emanation
The Sephiroth are States of Being and act as vessels to contain the Divine energy that spills forth from the God-Head or Crown of Kether (being the highest expression of the Divine) down into Malkuth, the densest and manifest physical world of Man. The spheres at the top of the tree are lighter and finer in energy – more transparent and expressive of pure Light. As we descend down the tree each sphere gains more density- less clarity of brilliance of light until we come to rest in the earth plane of Malkuth. Each sphere has both an English and Hebrew name and countless correspondences attributed to each. These are keywords only.
1-Kether - The Crown- The Crown of Attainment- the 'Cause of causes"- the unknowable- The Mystical Consciousness
2-Chokmah- Wisdom- The Word of God- true Will untainted by the material nature- The Radiant Consciousness
3-Binah- Understanding- The Great Sea- absolute belief- The Sanctified Consciousness
4-Chesed- Mercy- Majesty- the place of greater awareness and pure compassion-The Settled Consciousness
5-Geburah- Severity- Strength and Justice- excision and the necessary cutting away- The Rooted Consciousness
6-Tiphareth- Beauty- Sacrifice- the receptive place of the emanations from Kether- The Transcendental Influx Consciousness
7-Netzach- Victory- The Beauty of Nature- The Hidden Consciousness
8-Hod- Glory- Splendor- the sphere of science and craft- the analytical nature and communicative learning- The Perfect Consciousness
9-Yesod- The Foundation- sphere of the subconscious- the Lunar Gates- dreams and illusion - the astral - The Pure Consciousness
10-Malkuth- The Kingdom- the plane of physical existence- manifest reality- the elements and all of manifest Life- The Scintillating Consciousness
Da’at - The Hidden or Occult Path
Da’at is not included as one of the Ten Sephiroth, but its energies are acknowledged as an outpour that brings to the dynamics of the Tree a place of deep transformation. This “hidden” path or Sephira is known as the Abyss that holds the key to transformation through the final “Dark Night of the Soul”. This sphere does not have a number on the Tree and is often called the "Hidden or Occult" Path
22 Paths - (32-inclusive of the Spheres)
The Paths connect the Sephiroth and act as conduits/ filters and refiners of the energies of the connecting spheres. Just as the Spheres are States of Being, these are the Paths of "becoming" those pure states of being. These Paths allow for the movement of energy between the pillars of Force and Form, and on the evolved or “Middle” Path, become the direct line that mirrors as above (Kether or the Divine) , so below (Malkuth or Manifestation) . The 22 Paths and the 10 Spheres are considered the 32* Keys to Wisdom
* numerology note: 3+2=5 the master number of the Hierophant Tarot card- the energy of the Pentagram and the ultimate state of disruptive force that is both transformation and transmutive.
The Four Worlds
There are four realms (worlds) of existence within which the Tree of Life is contained. Each world emanates one from the other- from the highest and most refined energy at the level of Atziluth to the densest realm in Assiah. The Four worlds describe the creative process and each has a portion of the spheres contained within its realms. Concurrently, as in all viable esoteric systems- the entirety of the Tree itself is also contained simultaneously within each of the worlds. Thus, each sphere exists in All Four Worlds.
Atziluth- World of Archetypes
The Spiritual World. Home to the energies of the Gods/Goddesses. This is the place of the creative urge of Deity to move beyond itself and make manifest something more. This is the place of the un-knowable and un-nameable Source of All. The realm of causes and the home of the Divine names reside here.
Briah- Creative Archangelic World
The Soul/or Higher SELF is expressed here. The Archangels reside in this world. This is the realm of Ideas of the highest order. This is the Idea of the manifest world before it is actually brought into being. This is also the world through which the initial study of Qabalah is often begun. Briatic colors are the standard designation for the spheres and it is through this world that there is clarity and greater communication between man and the Higher Self.
Yetzirah- Astral/Angelic World
The Mental Plane. This is the stuff of the astral and as such is the world of formation. The place of the collective unconscious and Anima Mundi (world soul) . This is the realm where specific forms are created. The Angels of the Qabalah reside here.
Assiah- Active/Material World
The Physical World. Planetary and energy of the elements are assigned at this level. This is the world in which we feel most comfortable and can identify with the energies most clearly. Although we probably know the least about the hidden nature of this world min terms of actual Working Knowledge. This is the place of knowing "oneself".
The Sacred Letters
Each of the Hebrew Letters assigned to a specific Path or Sphere has two (or more) basic meanings. In addition to the more complex meaning of the individual letters, each also carries the energy of a specific word associated with it. When used in conjunction with the attribute of the Path on which it is placed, there is greater depth of esoteric knowledge to be gained.
The individual spheres are assigned a combination of the letters to form a name for that sphere, while the connecting Paths have a single letter attributed.
The first is in the collective energy of the letter when placed in conjunction with other letters to form a word. The Tetragrammaton is such an example being comprised of the
Yod-Heh-Vau-Heh or The Sacred Name of God
Additionally, each of the letters has a numeric value that gives greater meaning to the combining of letters to create words. This is the practice of Gematria; the numeric values of the letters of a word are added together and believed to bear relation to other words that have the same numeric value. This is also used as a method of blessing someone either by the numeric value of a name, date or birthday with a number that relates to a positive quality such as 'light'-"life", etc.
For more information about the Hebrew Letters and their energy on the Tree, check out:
Three Pillars of Expression
The Pillar of Severity – Feminine
Provides the necessary Form and Restriction (contractions prior to Birth) . The spheres of this pillar are: Binah- Geburah- Hod.
The Middle (equalizer) Pillar
The place of balance where the Greater work is synthesized. This is the place of the rising Kundalini- lunar and solar pathways combined and the greater knowledge of Life, Death and Rebirth. This is the Pillar of Consciousness in its ascent (The Serpent of Wisdom) the catalyst for evolution. And, the Pillar of Grace in its descent from Kether to Malkuth - the path of involution. The Spheres of this pillar are Malkuth- Yesod- Tiphareth- Kether
The Pillar of Mercy – Masculine
Providing the necessary Force and Expansion (the seed planted) . The spheres of this pillar are: Chokmah- Chesed- Netzach
The Lightening Flash
The Lightening Flash is the sequence in which the Sephorith emanate from one to the other.
The Way of Evolution follows the ascent from Malkuth to Kether, moving from the physical plane towards that of the Limitless All.
The Way of Involution is the descent from Kether to Malkuth. This is the pattern of manifestation, moving from a place of formlessness towards the densest and most manifest place of existence.
So, how would one apply this vast body of knowledge to a spiritual practice? Although undertaking a study of the Qabalah can seem daunting just in the sheer amount of information associated with each of the spheres and paths it is a system that can be overlaid on any viable esoteric or mundane pursuit. For example, each night as we retire for a good night's sleep and enter the world of dreams- we are in effect traveling from Malkuth (the physical manifest world) into Yesod (the world of dreams, the astral, memories and the subconscious) . When we have that flash of inspiration we have moved into the realm of Hod (mind, intellect and first beginnings of invention) . And, when we are moved to a place of Love and beauty, we have touched upon the essence of Netzach (the sphere of Venus and emotional outpour) .
Reference and Suggested Reading:
Below you will find a list of highly recommended books that vary from the beginner student of Qabalah to more advanced studies. The Recommended Book List is in support of the material presented in these lessons. You will find additional books added at the end of each lesson as we go along if you are looking to start a library of noteworthy and reputable Qabalah books.
Recommended Book List:
The Witch's Qabala by Ellen Canon Reed
The Mystical Qabala by Dion Fortune
The Tree of Sapphires: The Enlightened Qabalah by David Goddard
The Shining Paths by Dolores Ashcroft Nowicki
Next Month: Lesson Two: Malkuth
The Start of Personal Study Recommendations and access to a Pathworking specific to each sphere.
The Witch's Qabala by Ellen Canon Reed
The Mystical Qabala by Dion Fortune
The Shining Paths by Dolores Ashcroft Nowicki
Location: Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania
Author's Profile: To learn more about Robin Fennelly - Click HERE
Bio: Robin has been on the path of the spiritual seeker since her early teens. Growing up in a spiritually supportive family provided the opportunity to explore a variety of esoteric traditions encompassing Eastern Philosophy, Metaphysics and the Western Magickal System. She has recently been drawn to informal studies of Egyptian High Alchemy and pantheon as a means of personal transformation.
Robin formally came to the Wiccan path in 1994. Following practice as a solitary for 2 years, she dedicated to Oak and Willow Coven of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition in November of 1996. She received her 1st, 2nd and finally 3rd degrees within the Assembly Tradition and has served as High Priestess of Oak and Willow since Samhain of 2001.
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