What’s a Path (Kabalism)?

July 4, 2010

I’m going to go over some basic Kabalism, particularly what a path is, because this concept seems to confuse a lot of people. I’ve even seen some supposedly studied and wise Kabalist who when questioned about the paths obviously didn’t have a firm grasp of the concept. It’s actually fairly simple when it’s broken down, it’s just confusing at first glance.

In order to understand this article you’re going to need to have a basic understanding of the Tree of Life and Kabalistic theory about the make-up of the universe. Unfortunately a basic course on Kabalism for the absolute beginner is beyond the scope of this article.

To start we have the tree of life which is composed of the ten Sepiroth. We also have the tree of knowledge which is composed of the ten Qlippoth. A lot of Kabalistic theory totally dismisses the tree of knowledge and concentrates solely on the tree of life. This is due to warnings against working with the tree of knowledge.

Fortunately I don’t have to go into any great detail about the Qlippoth in order to understand the idea of the Sepiroth. Just know that the Qlippoth also have paths, and Qlippothic paths work the same way as Sepirothic paths.

So we have our ten Sepiroth which make up the tree of life, and within these ten Sepiroth is the entirety of the universe, except for what exists in the Qlippoth.

It’s important to note that the tree of life is really just a model of an abstract, and not a true spatial map of the universe. Each of the ten spheres are infinite in both space and size. Each one is near to each other. And the spatial relationships are simply the order which we decided to lay them out. If you’re in Binah and moving towards Kether, Chokmah is not to your right. The true spatial relationships of these places are beyond the comprehension of our current perspective of the space-time continuum.

The tree of life is also not the only model, these things can and have been modeled in different ways. Personally I like to think of the ten spheres as stacked on top of one another. Most good models, like the tree of life, are not designed entirely arbitrarily, but are done so in a way that is meant to convey more knowledge about these things.

It’s also important to note that the boundaries of the different spheres are not actual boundaries, but are constructs. What I mean to say is that there isn’t some gate or dividing line in Binah and when you cross it you’re over in Chokmah. With the tree of life we’ve divided up the universe into different sections each chosen based on certain classification we’ve found. Once again this isn’t the only model out there. There are other models which divvy up the universe in different ways.

Now we get to what a path is. We have our ten Sepiroth. Each of these individual Sepiroth are unique. So how do we describe each one? Naturally in the universe things are typically defined by comparison and contrast. Sepiroth are no different.

So we pick any one of our ten Sepiroth. Then we go through the other nine Sepiroth and we pick out which Sepiroth it is like and which Sepiroth it is not like. Each Sepiroth will have a unique list of Sepiroth that it is like, and can be defined in this way.

Actually in order to figure out these lists all you have to do is look at a tree of life diagram. See the 22 paths. If the paths connect two Sepiroth together, it means those two Sepiroth are alike. If two Sepiroth are not connected together, it means that they are not alike.

So are the paths really just parts of the diagram meant to better describe the Sepiroth to us?   No, they are actual places too. The paths exist, you can go there and walk on them.

Now this is the question that trips up most people, including a lot of so-called learned Kabalist. Where in the universe are the paths located? Here is what we have already stated to be true, “Everything in the universe exists within the ten Sepiroth, except for what exists in the Qlippoth.”

The paths would be part of the ‘everything’ in the universe. So where to they exist? The logical answer to the riddle would seem to be ‘in the Qlippoth of course’, yet we know that answer is completely wrong for many different reasons.

I’ve heard a lot of different wrong answers to this question. I’ve heard that the entire universe doesn’t exist within the ten Sepiroth, but within the ten Sepiroth and the twenty two paths (no, under the construct of Kabalism the entire universe exists within the ten spheres). I’ve heard that the paths are so small that they don’t really count (no, they count, everything does). I’ve heard that the paths exist outside the Sepiroth (entire universe theory again), that they exist in the Qlippoth (as stated this is definitely not right), and even that the Sepiroth actually exist within the different paths which are larger than the Sepiroth and make up the entire universe.

Remember how we said that the Sepiroth were constructs, a method we used to classify the universe, and not a real boundary? We classify things based on their characteristics. We say that certain things are characteristic of Chesed, and if those characteristics are present, you are in Chesed. Other things are characteristic of Binah, and if those characteristics are present, you are in Binah.

But wait! There’s a path between Binah and Chesed. That means in some ways Binah and Chesed are alike. So there is actually a portion of Binah which is exactly the same and has the exact same characteristics as a portion of Chesed.

Now remember that we said that the Sepiroth were actually constructs, not exact places. We define them based on their characteristics. So if you happen to be in one of these places, you really can’t tell if you’re in a portion of Chesed that is just like Binah or a portion of Binah that is just like Chesed.

What’s more, through out the entire universe like attracts like. Yes the Sepiroth operate on a spatial system that is not entirely what we perceive and define as space and distance. But when you have two areas that are exactly alike, like these two areas in Binah and Chesed, they end up drawn towards each other and are mashed together in one big clump.

You can view the paths as actual roads. Imagine you’re on a road traveling from Binah to Chesed. Right now you’re in Binah, and everything looks like Binah so you know you’re in Binah. Eventually you’ll reach Chesed, and you’ll know your in Chesed because everything looks like Chesed. But there’s also a portion of road between where you are and where you’re going that is indistinctive. It looks as if it could be either Binah or Chesed, you really can’t be sure. Since these are really just constructs and not naturally occurring boundaries, there’s not going to be any landmark or a huge sign saying “You are now leaving Binah”.

This indistinctive portion of road is the path. We know that it exists in either Binah or Chesed, we just can’t be certain which one of these two it exists in. On that portion of road, at any given time, we can’t be certain if we’re still in Binah or if we’ve entered Chesed.

Some people however chose to (correctly) view the paths as the points where the Sepiroth overlap. Remember that the Sepiroths are just a construct, and they are a way of classifying an areas. For Binah for instance we might say that an area is in Binah if X, Y, or Z are true, and U, V, and W are not true. Meanwhile we might say that an area is in Chesed so long as A, B, or X are true, and D, E, and F are not true. Now we have an areas where only X is true, or even an area where X, Y, and A are true, but U, V, W, D, E, and F are all false. This area meets the qualifications to be classified as Binah and Chesed, and so some chose to see this as being both.

So the correct answer to the question where are the paths located, is that they are located within the Sepiroth that they connect together.

Magick 101: Element Theory

May 12, 2010

Note: I’m tired right now and I may not have expressed myself as clearly as possible, especially near the end. If I have time later this week I may revise this article to make it clearer. In the mean time though feel free to read what I have, but do so at your own risk. It is a complicated subject, so feel free to ask questions if there is something specific that I can clarify.

Because I’m currently working on individual articles dealing with the various elemental tools, I thought I’d take some time to go over element theory, in other words what are they and where do they come from. Element theory is one of the key concepts in magical understanding, especially in regard to Ceremonial Magick and its derivatives, like Paganism. There is no practical information in this article. I’m using the term element as an adjective as opposed to elemental because elemental theory could also imply theories surrounding the magical use of Elementals, which are naturally occurring entities which may also be evoked. Still the information here is very basic foundationary information, and it’s important if you want to understand spell work, ritual, or the creation of the universe.

First the basic stuff. We have five elements. Fire, Water, Air, and Earth, and a fifth element referred to as Akasha, Void, or Spirit. This article will refer to it as Spirit since this is the standard in Western Magick. Spirit would be the equivalent to what magicians commonly refer to today as energy. It is a force in the universe which cannot be seen or measured with conventional methods, but nonetheless can be manipulated and quantified.

Now it’s important to remember that when we say fire, or water, or air, or earth, or spirit, these are physical things which we symbolically associate with the actual element. The elements exist at every point in the universe. The universe is often split into several planes of existence. We have the physical plane, which is represented in the Kabalah by the bottom four Sepiroth. This is the only place in the universe (outside the Qlippoth), where fire, water, air, earth, and energy actually exist. All of these things are physical manifestations, and the first physical manifestations occur in the seventh sepiroth, Netzach. Prior to this, we have the mental planes, composed of the middle triad in the Kabalah. Here everything exists as thoughts, ideas, and intelligences, yet the mental planes are also where these things are created. Beyond the mental plane we have the first triad, and that which exists here are often called abstracts or ideals. There are no physicalities and there are no thoughts here, there isn’t even space. There are two things that need to be said to describe the first triad, there is existence there, and everything exists as acts. As it is the thoughts and ideas and eventually intelligences that make up parts of the mental planes, it is action, the doing, that makes up the first triad. It’s hard to understand because when we think of an action, we think that someone or something is doing that action, yet in the first triad there is no physicality and there is no intelligence, so there is nothing there to actually take an action. The act defines itself.

Now, getting back to the point, fire, water, air, earth, and energy cannot exist at any point beyond the physical planes, because they are physicalities. Yet the elements exist on every plane. So when we talk about, say, the element of fire, we aren’t actually speaking about actual fire. Fire is something we’ve found in the physical world which, based on its form and how it acts, we feel is a good representation of one of the five elements. There is no word in any language spoken on Earth that describes the element of fire. Even if we made up a new word, say we called it fluffenfuf, we still would not have words in the English language to adequately define the new word it. It’s a common habit in magick, and with dealing with interworld beings that may know completely foreign concepts created in languages from other worlds, that if we don’t have a word for something, we substitute a word we do have that is used to describe something like it.

So now that we’ve discussed what the elements are not, what exactly are they? A lot of people describe the elements as the basic building blocks of the universe. When we break things down, within the universe, into smaller and smaller parts, eventually we reach the smallest parts that make it up, and these ‘smallest’ parts are the five elements. They are, in a lot of ways, to magical theory what atoms are to science. But we also know, in regards to science, that if we look deeper we can break atoms down into protons, neutrons, and electrons. And likewise we can break the elements down into their basic parts. There are actually five basic building blocks that precede the five elements, and these are creation, division, singularity, duality, and triplicity. These five things are the only five things that exist prior to the existence of the elements, and so they are the only five things in all the universe not made up of the elements. In the same way that a proton is not made up of atoms, creation is not made up of the five elements.

So how did we get the elements? Everything in the universe is a direct extension of what came before it. To make a new thing we can combine two or more existing things, or we can divide an existing thing into two or more parts, or we can do a combination of dividing and combining various things. The point is, nothing is ever completely new. New things are created in the universe using the various parts that are already available. Since the divine spark the universe has become a varied and complex place, yet there is still no sixth element, and there never will be, because we cannot have a completely new thing. Everything needs a precedence.

There are two exceptions to this rule. Two things in the universe occurred without prior precedence. In many systems these two acts are considered the beginning of the universe. This is not however the true beginning of the universe. This is just the place that we are labeling the beginning because we need a place to start are exploration at in order to get anywhere, and because we can’t find the true beginning.

Anyways, two things happened without precedence, a thing created itself, then it divided into two parts. We call this thing which created itself the divine spark. It is the very first thing to appear in the universe, and it is from the divine spark (and its division) that all things spring forth. In Kabalism it is defined as Kether. Remember the divine spark occurs at Kether, Kether exists in the first triad, and all things in the first triad are actions. So what is the divine spark? It is the act of creating itself. If you think about that too hard, your brain may explode. It created itself and what it is (and what it created) is the act of creating itself :)

So the divine spark creates itself. There we have the first part, creation. After it creates itself, it is the only thing in creation. There is just one thing in all of creation, and it is different and separate from what came before, so now we also have singularity. So the divine spark exists, and anything that exists has to have a definition. It can be defined through everything else that also exists in the universe. Right now all that exists in the universe is the divine spark since it was created without precedence. We can say that the divine spark is itself (everything that exists in the universe), and it is not what isn’t the divine spark (Nothing or that which doesn’t exist).

But wait, now we have two things that exist in our universe. You have the divine spark, and you have that which is not the divine spark, the nothing. But the divine spark ‘is’ the entirety of the universe. It is the all. The existence of the divine spark doesn’t just define itself, it also defines what it is not, the nothing is nothing more than everything the divine spark isn’t. What I’m getting at is the divine spark is the all of the universe, which encompasses both what defines it in the positive (what it is) and what defines it in the negative (what it is not). This create a contradiction. The divine spark cannot logically be both what it is and what it isn’t. So what has to happen in order to solve the contradiction is the divine spark has to divide into two pieces. Going back to kabalistic representations Kether divides into two parts, Chockmah which is the purity of being when the divine spark existed alone, and Binah which is self-awareness through duality and thus represents the first corruption of purity and singularity. The actual first division itself is Thaumial, the highest sphere in the qlippoth.

Now we have the divine spark, which is the act of creating itself. It needs to be defined by what it is and what it isn’t. In order to do this, it divides. Some people may think the two aspects of the division solve the problem. Now Binah is Binah and not Chockmah, and Chockmah is Chockmah and not Binah, and Kether is Binah and Chockmah. But this isn’t the case. Chockmah and Binah existing isn’t what solves the problem. The division itself solves the problem. It is something which creation isn’t. Kether is not Thaumial. The divine spark is not the first division. In fact it is the duality that exists between Kether and Thaumial that is the precedence for the duality of Chockmah and Binah which occur after the division. The precedence for the purity of being of Chockmah is from the divine spark existing by itself, and the precedence for the self awareness via duality of Binah is from Kether existing along with Thaumial.

As a side note I’d like to say something about Binah that proves an earlier point. Binah is the definition of self by comparing yourself to what you are not. It can be seen as the first instance of knowledge – knowledge of self which is acquired through a comparison to what you are not. It is the corruption of purity, because it is based on there being something else in the universe besides oneself. Remember only acts can exist in the first triad. Binah is the act of definition. But definition implies knowledge, so now we have the existence of knowledge. Knowledge is an abstract thing. It’s not quite an idea, but its definitely not an act. It can however exist in the first triad, but only in particular parts of Binah. But knowledge presents problems. Now there’s something that must be known. So it must have a duality. There must be knowledge which is true and knowledge which is not true. Now we have truth, and truth is most definitely an idea. Not only that, you have self definition. Self definition leads directly into an idea. So do we have ideas in Binah, and thus in the first triad? No we do not. But ideas are occurring as the natural eventual conclusion to the act of Binah, so what happens to them? They begin to form the fourth Sepiroth, and thus the beginning of the third triad, the mental planes. Think of this process as a sentence. You begin speaking a sentence which forms Binah, but by the time you reach the conclusion of the sentence, you’re already forming the fourth Sepiroth, Chesed. Note that the middle triad is created as a direct result of the creation of the first triad, it is its eventual conclusion. It is also made up of the things which came into being in the first triad, going back to the earlier rule in the universe nothing (except our two exceptions) are created without precedence.

Now, going back to more relevant discussions, as we’ve said the first division occurs as a direct result of self creation. There for we could say that even the first division has precedence. It is a direct result of self creation, in the same way singularity is a direct result of self creation. Because of this it’s common say that there is one thing which started everything else, there was one event which occurred without precedence. But then why do I specifically say two events occurred without precedence? By my own logic either one event occurred without precedence, self creation, and division, singularity, duality, and triplicity followed as a byproduct, or I throw out the byproduct angle and just go with precedence, in which case five events occurred. But I’ll go back to my original statement, two things occur without precedence in the universe, creation and division.

The idea that creation came first and everything else is a byproduct of that creation is a matter of perspective. The idea that creation was first makes sense to us because we exist in the Sepiroth, which naturally flow from the act of self-creation. We have a perspective that is tainted by our location, and also by something akin to nationalism which sees are current location, the Sepiroth, as naturally superior and better than its counterpart, the Qlippoth. If we were, however, incarnated on the Qlippoth and trying to figure out these same ideas there, we would come to the conclusion that the first thing which occurred was the first division, and self creation occurred as a result of this division. The first division coming into being is what creates the act of self creation, and then it goes on from there. The thing is, it’s late right now, and thinking about this stuff from a Sepirothic perspective is making my head spin. Thinking about it from a Qlippothic perspective will no doubt cause my head to explode. In fact I can feel it about to burst right now. There are of course answers, and if you want to meditate on this and figure it out, it can be done. I’m just not figuring out how to put those answers into words right now. I will say that Qlippothic perspectives are interesting things to have if you can handle them.

Okay, so now we have four things. The divine spark (creation), the divine spark existing alone (singularity), the first division (division), and the existence of creation and division (duality). So where does triplicity come from? Well what was there prior to the divine spark? You could say nothing, but that would be wrong. In order for there to be a nothing there would have to be a something, and something is the divine spark, and that didn’t exist prior to the divine spark coming into existence. So what was there?

I don’t have that answer. I never talked with anyone or anything that claimed to have it. It’s possible some people, or some things have figured it out, but either they can’t remember it or can’t communicate it, at least in regards to our level of existence. So I don’t know what was there, but I know, through logic, something came before creation and division. This something is a third thing. We have creation, division, and what came before creation and division. A triplicity. We now have our five building blocks.

Note, we now have five things. That is everything we have. That is the most we can count to. Five. We have five elements. We don’t have six elements because we can’t count to six yet, and everything must have a precedence. Once we have five elements though we can count to ten. This is important to note because the universe didn’t pick the number of elements through some arbitrary method. It simply took the largest number it could, thus doubling what we had to work with, and making the entirety of the universe far more complex.

So how long did all of this stuff take to happen, from the time of the divine spark up until the creation of the elements? Billions of years, seven days, mere seconds? All of these answers are wrong. All of these things happen before time coming into existence. So does that mean it all happen at once? No, it didn’t. In order for everything to have happened at once, time must exist, or at least the concept of it must exist. All of this stuff happened/is happening/happens. If Kether divides into Chockmah and Binah, shouldn’t Kether cease to exist? If that were true Kether would exist prior to the division, and not exist after the division, but in order for that to happen, time would have to exist. So even though Chockmah and Binah exist as the division of Kether, Kether also still exists, because there was no time when this happened and time still doesn’t exist where it happened. So at any moment, this division has occurred, it has not yet occurred, and it is currently occurring.

Now we have five elements that can be defined by these five things. First we have singularity. Each element is a separate individual thing. Notice they just aren’t one big group called the elements. Next we have duality. We can say that fire isn’t water, spirit, earth, or air. We can also split the elements into two separate groups. We refer to these groups as masculine and feminine, but remember the ideas of gender and masculinity and femininity haven’t yet been created. These are later creations that we use to try to describe the elements. We group them as such: Group A (Masculine Elements) consists of Spirit, Fire, and Air; Group B (Feminine Elements) consist of Spirit, Water, and Earth. We can also use duality to create opposite elements. Fire is opposite Water. Air is Opposite Earth.

We also have creation and division. So some elements are creationary (Fire and Water), and some are divisionary (Air and Earth). Fire and Water join together in union (the creation), and the end result is Air and Earth (the division).

We also split the elements into three groups. The divine element (Spirit), the creationary elements (Fire and Water) and the divisionary elements (Air and Earth). Fire and Water, and thus Air and Earth, are created by Spirit, and the union of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth together creates Spirit, so in a sense spirit creates itself, giving it a connection to the divine spark and the divine element.

So a short review thus far:

Spirit = Masculine and Feminine groups, creationary and divisionary, divine group.
Fire = Masculine group, creationary, creationary group.
Water = Feminine group, creationary, creationary group.
Air = Masculine group, divisionary, divisionary group.
Earth = Feminine group, divisionary, divisionary group.

Now remember that all of these elements exist in the first triad. Only acts can exist in the first triad. So we know the five elements must be actions. So what actions are they?

Spirit = The all of the universe (the act of not existing).
Fire = The act of creation.
Water = The act of division.
Air = The act of action.
Earth = The act of existence.

But it gets a little bit more complicated. Fire is the act of creation, and so it is also the act of destruction. Remember the divine spark created itself, and whatever came before currently is not anymore, so creation is also destruction. Meanwhile when you divide something you can also now combine it back together, so the act of division also brings about the act of union, so both division and union are water.

Also take these numbers; 1.Spirit, 2. Fire, 3. Water, 4. Air, and 5. Earth. Compare the element to the number it is assigned. Compare it to the Sepiroth that is also assigned to that number. You’ll notice some interesting things. Such as water, which represents division, is number three, which is the same as Binah, which deals with duality. Air meanwhile is four, and air is generally associated with thoughts and ideas, and the fourth Sepiroth is the first Sepiroth of the mental planes.

So why is Spirit non-existence? Spirit represents all things in the universe put together. What happens when you put everything together? You no longer have a duality. There is no self-definition. We’re heading back to the universe encompassing both what it is and what it is not. We’ve gone backwards. We no longer have existence. We now have what came before the divine spark. This is best described as non-existence, since it was what was before existence.

Anyways, now we have our five little building blocks. And we pretty much build everything else out of those five things, along with the five pieces we used to build those (creation, division, singularity, duality, and triplicity). As we start building we notice a few things. First off, everything in the universe, beyond those ten things, contain all five elements to various degrees. Secondly that most everything in the universe contains more of some elements, and less of others. In practice we tend to define things by the element which has the greatest concentration. There are some rare exceptions where we feel the need to define something by two or more elements because of an equal or near equal concentration. Also although it may be possible to define very complicated things, like people, as a single element, you’ll also notice that these things may have many varied aspects, and these aspects may be defined as different elements.

It’s important to note that when we say things are made up of the five elements to various degrees, we don’t just mean physical things and living things. We also mean thoughts and ideas. We mean abstracts like philosophies and religions. We mean completely imaginary things which don’t exist. We mean concepts like the economy. We mean actions like punching or thinking. Pretty much anything in all of the universe, besides the original ten building blocks, is made up of the elements. Remember there is nothing without precedence, so everything comes forth from the divine spark/first division. A few steps up from that are the elements.

A brief summary of some of the things the elements encompass:

Spirit: Associated with the divine, sacred acts, magick, and that which came before the divine spark. It is the element of the highest spiritual attainment. It is both active and passive. It represents all things, and also nothing.

Fire: Generally associated with passion in all of its forms. Fire comes on as strong and as forceful as it can, it burns like passion burns within you, and it eventually gives every bit of itself to reach its goal. It encompasses passion in the form of lust, and also passion in the form of creative endeavors, such as the fine arts, and also being passionate about specific things. It is associated with creation (by oneself) and destruction. It is also associated with absolute spiritual truth and the divine light of spiritual truth. It is associated with the day and is the great exposer. It is associated with the beginning of the first triad. Fire is an active force, being active by the very nature of its existing. It is the only element which does not have a passive form (if fire is not active, it cannot exist).

Water: Water is generally associated with emotions, love, relationships, and unions. It is considered flexible and adaptive and ever changing, and it is often associated with the future because of this. Water is also associated with the power of creation through union. It is associated with the night, and along with that the great mysteries and everything that is hidden. Water is associated with the end of the first triad (Binah). Water is a passive force, passive because it meets the demands of its environment.

Air: Air is largely associated with the mind. It has strong connections to intelligence, thought, ideas, imagination, and imaginary things. It is also the element associated with action and doing. It is adaptive and flexible like water, but remains an active force like fire. Unlike fire though air has a passive form. It is associated with the present, and also with the dawn (being associated with beginnings). Air is associated with the mental planes, especially the fourth Sepiroth.

Earth: Earth is stagnant and endures. It is usually associated with physical things and the physical plane. Because of this it also represents things like wealth and money and that which is completely practical and mundane. It also is associated with things that are immortal and forever. Earth is the only element which does not have an active form. Earth is associated with the tenth Sepiroth Malkuth (and due to its nature, also Yesod). Because Earth is stagnant and unchanging, it is associated with the past which is writ in stone. Earth is also associated with the dusk, being associated with endings.

The above brief summary of the elements is my attempt to define five things which are so abstract as to be undefinable in English. Even if I did have the words, each element has an infinite number of definitions and associations, meaning it would be impossible for me to list them all even if I spent eternity doing nothing but that. As a practitioner, you shouldn’t be dependent on a list for your elemental associations (especially because a complete list would be impossible). It’s better to have a deep understanding of the elements, to the degree that you can figure out the elemental associations of things as needed. It’s a good exercise to get into the habit of thinking about things in terms of what elements they are. What element defines your computer? The processor inside your computer? The font on the computer screen? The electricity flowing through the power cable? The emotions you’re currently feeling as you read this? So on and so forth. This is a simple thing that can easily be done as you go about your day. After a while though, you’ll start to come to a deep understanding of the different elements and how they work, and you’ll also, through practice, learn how to figure out elemental associations.

The Universe, the Qlippoth, the Sepiroth, ect.

January 19, 2009

What follows are my personal notes concerning my recent meditations and journeys into both the Sepiroth and the Qlippoth. Things don’t flow very well, some of the information is redundant without reason. I think I wanted links to past articles I wrote, I’ll add them later (for now, check out the articles on reading the tarot pips if you must know). The truth is, I’m not in a place right now where I want to sort through this information and present it better. At some future point, maybe. Hopefully at that point I’ll also have more to add and more corrections. For now though I present to everyone the notes, which I do believe contain a lot of information about working with the Sepiroth and the Qlippoth and concerning magickal practices in general. Do what you wish with it.

The Tree of Life

In putting together a map of the universe, one of my goals was to codify several of the different terminologies that are going around. Some of these ideas are easy enough to figure out. For instance, we can pretty much assume that what some refer to as the Realm of the Dead is the same as what the Greeks called Hades, or at the very least that Hades exists within the Realm of the Dead. However other ideas are harder to put together, for instance how exactly the Qlippoth relates to Hell.

In doing this though I’ve used the Tree of Life model as my base, and tried to codify things into this common ideal. This isn’t meant to validate Kabbalism or Judaism, on the contrary I believe the tree to be something that is easily removed from these dogmatic beliefs. The tree of life is an attempt to explain a map of the universe and the process of creation (these things are one in the same, the make-up of the universe is directly tied to the method of its creation. When time and space and matter and even energy all cease to exist, stuff like this happens. Eventually only ideas remain, and these ideas become the fabric of reality), and the explanation is biased because of the Judaic and Kabbalistic beliefs of its early originators, however the experience it attempts to explain is an objective and true one which is unconcerned with the spiritual beliefs of its catalogers.

That being said, the Tree of Life is one of the most complete maps available. This is due entirely to the fact that more capable people have worked on and expanded on the Tree of Life than any other currently available model. Although some other designs attempt to explain things in a different manner, there was never anything wrong with the Tree of Life design, never anything so broken it couldn’t be fixed and necessitated scraping the whole thing, and in the process centuries of work.

Concerning the Qlippoth

“If the Sepiroth form a tree of life, then the Qlippoth would be its roots, without the Qlippoth to nourish and support them, the Sepiroth would wither and die.”

Much is said, negatively, about the Qlippoth. Some theorists have labeled it a mistake, an abomination, or a necessary byproduct of the creation of the universe. Others have sought a more neutral view, believing not to be an actual place, but rather a state of being when the Sepiroth are unbalanced.

In truth the Qlippoth is a secondary aspect of the universe, a separate, albeit connected, place from the Sepiroth. It is also an absolutely vital component in the creation and continued existence of the universe. It’s incorrect to view the Qlippoth as evil or an abomination, it is simply a different road to a different place.

The general kabbalistic map of the Qlippoth is misleading. Generally the Qlippoth is seen as an inverted tree that begins with Lilith beneath Malkuth. This jives with the perfectly correct idea that the Qlippoth exists beneath the Sepiroth. However each Qlippoth exists beneath its corresponding Sepiroth. Although it’s true that both Kether and Thaumiel are equally far away from Malkuth, it is not true that the distance between Kether and Thaumiel is twice the distance from Kether to Malkuth. Thamuiel exists just beneath Kether, as Lilith exists beneath Malkuth.

Many magicians find themselves limited by their inability to utilize aspects from both the Sepiroth and the Qlippoth. Things like prosperity spells, seances, and shooting fireballs from ones hands (as Goku does) all fall into the realm of Qlippothic magick. Even a magician of immense power will achieve nothing but failure in these regards until he has connected into the lower realms.

Meanwhile a magician who is unable to connect into the Sepiroth will find himself removed from both truth and independent power. Although his power may be great, it is fleeting, and it is not his to own. What lies in the Qlippoth will use him, manipulate him, and destroy him.

The Golden Dawn system, along with many of its proponents such as Mathers and Fortune, emphasized that a magician must master both the higher and the lower in order to be effective, to only utilize one aspect is to castrate the magickal power of the practitioner. Mastery of only the Sepiroth is however seen by many as preferable to mastery of only the Qlippoth. A master of the Sepiroth is a wise and spiritual guru full of wisdom but lacking in physical power. A master of the Qlippoth meanwhile is a dark consumed soul lost because of his lusts and desires. But as Fortune mentions, this danger is not present so long as one masters both the higher and the lower together.

The connection between Malkuth and Kether

In the idea of creation, when we get to Malkuth the process doesn’t end, instead Malkuth becomes Kether, and the process is renewed from the beginning (for a more in depth explanation, see this article).

Looking at the tarot, the fool card is not actually a trump. In the old games it was considered neither a pip card, a court card, or a trump card, at least in the most popular rules variants. It was something separate all together, and it had its own special rules for use. This is partially true of the Esoteric tarot too, where the true natural order is Fool, K of Pentacles, Q of Pentacles…A of Pentacles, King of Swords… so on and so forth ending with the trumps and particularly the universe card (alternatively the beginning and ending of the deck are interchangeable and it can start with either card). However the Fool card is the exact same card as the Universe card, what the two express is exactly the same, just given in two different perspectives, masking the similarities. In this way, if we say the deck begins with the fool, when we get to the Universe we are not at the end, but at the beginning, and the deck itself becomes and infinite thing, and meanwhile all things within it are connected, by virtue of its beginning and ending being the same.

This model is taken directly from the Sepiroth and the nature of the universe. Kether is Malkuth, just Malkuth seen from a different perspective. The two Sepiroth are actually a single Sepiroth, and by virtue of these two Sepiroth being the same, all other Sepiroth are connected, and thus movement can be made between them.

The finer paths of the Sepiroth

The Sepiroth, as they’re positioned on the Tree of Life, are misleading. In truth, they’re stacked one on top of the other, with Kether on the Top and Malkuth on the Bottom. Movements between the Sepiroth can be made by vibrational shifts, although certain other considerations have to be taken into account when moving past certain barriers. This method of vibrational shifting is known as the finer path, it is the preferred method of movement between Sepiroth, and although the more difficult to master, the easier to utilize. As one would expect, vibrational shifts upward lead up the number scale, and vibrational shifts downward lead down the number scale.

The same is true for the Qlippoth, vibrational shifts upward lead one towards Thaumiel, not towards Lilith. The idea that the vibrational shifts need to move downward from Malkuth to reach the Qlippoth, with Thaumiel being at the bottom, is an intentional blind created to keep magicians from reaching the higher aspects of the Qlippoth by those who fear its influences.

The vulgar paths of the Sepiroth, being the Atu

Crowley once asked the question why there were only 22 paths on the Tree of Life. Why didn’t each Sepiroth connect to every other one, creating 45 paths. Crowley couldn’t come up with a reasonable answer, and instead said that the Sepiroth simply don’t connect like that, which is akin to explaining everything with ‘God works in mysterious ways’.

The Sepiroth have no objective means through which to define themselves. They are an axiom, and they are only defined by their relationship to each other. Each atu is a flow of influence from one Sepiroth to another. The nature of each Sepiroth is defined by the flow of influence from each Sepiroth it is connected to. There for, were each Sepiroth to connect to every other one, then each Sepiroth would be exactly the same, because it would have the exact same definition as every other. This also disproves the Binah-Chesed and Chokmah-Geburah atu some have claimed, since if these were to exist, Binah would be the same as Chokmah.

These flows of influence can be ridden from one Sepiroth to the next, and these are known as the vulgar paths. They require much less effort to move across than a vibrational shift, but they come with their own issues. They do however create a method through which a physical being can move from one Sepiroth to the next.

The flow of influence goes both ways, so each atu is defined as a combination of the two Sepiroth it connects.

The imaginary Atu

There also exist the imaginary atu. These are the 22 connections that don’t exist (there is no imaginary atu between Kether and Malkuth since these two Sepiroth are the same). These 22 paths are not real connection points, they only exist in the sense that they don’t exist. These atu are defined by the two Sepiroth they would connect if they did exist. These paths would probably be found somewhere within the middle triad.

Movement between the Sepiroth and the Qlippoth

Any Qlippoth can be reached at any time through its corresponding Sepiroth. Movement from the Sepiroth to the Qlippoth is simply a matter of finding a shadow and moving through it. Likewise any Sepiroth can be reached from its corresponding Qlippoth, it’s just a matter of finding a light and moving through it. With some practice this method of movement can be done with minimal effort in an astral form, moving the astral body from the Sepiroth to the Qlippoth and vice-versa. However it’s much more difficult to move one’s physical body from the Sepiroth (mainly Malkuth) into the Qlippoth (into Lilith), but very much possible. It should be noted that the connection between Sepiroth and Qlippoth is both necessary and absolute, and it cannot be blocked, which is the key reason why a physical person may move out of Malkuth and into Lilith.

Malkuth, Yesod, and the Veil

In actuality, there are nine Sepiroths, not ten. The confusion arises over the matter of Malkuth and Yesod. From our perspective they seem to be two separate Sepiroth, but this perspective is biased due to the fact that we view this Sepiroth from the inside. Malkuth-Yesod is split by the veil, the thing that keeps the spiritual and physical worlds separate, for the most part. This creates an illusion of two Sepiroth, one which consists of the physical world and one which consists of the immediate spiritual world, or at least the gateway into the spiritual world. When Malkuth and Yesod are looked at as a single Sepiroth, we’re left with three perfect triads.

The veil itself, with some small exceptions, prevents anything spiritual from achieving a physicality, and meanwhile prevents anything physical from getting up and walking off to other parts of the tree of life. However there is one very big cheat. The veil that splits Lilith from Gameliel is very weak and easy to pass through. Meanwhile the connection between Malkuth and Lilith cannot be blocked, even by the veil. Ergo, one can bring things into a physicality simply by first moving them into Lilith and then into Malkuth via that route, and in the same way one can physically move to any other point on the tree by first moving into Lilith and making ones journey from there.

The nature of things

“Kether is like a mother who nourishes her young with her breasts. Thaumiel is a mother who nourishes herself by eating her young.”

In Kether exists the spark, the beginning of all creation, and it’s a huge source which outpours an infinite amount of energy. This energy is spilled out into the Sepiroth, feeding and energizing each of them, all the way down to Malkuth.

Thaumiel meanwhile lacks this spark. In order to support itself it must feed on the Qlippoth below it, and so it draws all of the energy it can up into it. The Qlippoth beneath Thaumiel, meanwhile, draw up energy from the Qlippoth beneath them, and in this way the higher Qlippoth have larger reserves of energy, with Thaumiel the strongest. Lilith meanwhile is drained almost completely of energy, and with nothing beneath her to feed on, is largely dependent on her connection to Malkuth for energy, the source of energy for the entirety of the Qlippoth (thus the Qlippoth is an extension of the physical world). This is the reason why the lower realms (which exist as the lower Qlippoth) are generally dark and bleak. All of the light is being drawn upward into the higher Qlippoth.

A look at the tree-

The first Triad

Malkuth – Malkuth is the physical world, the home of our physical bodies, and where our physical selfs exist, at least for the moment.

Yesod – Yesod is the second half of Malkuth, it is the immediate spiritual realm. For the most part, those things that spiritually effect the physical realm of Malkuth exist within Yesod. It is the area sometimes referred to as Real Time Projection or the Etheric Plane in the astral projection community. When you astrally project into this world, where you are able to see the happenings of this world, you’ve projected into Yesod. It should be noted that Yesod, Hod, and Netzach each bleed into each other.

– Hod is the realm of limitations and boundaries. Within Hod lies the powers to bind and to seal. It also sets the framework of reality, and power can be achieved via proper manipulation of thr rules within that framework. Hod is a place of solidity, rules, and laws.

Between Hod and Netzach lies the gate of horns, the place from which prophetic dreams spring forth, which is fed from the second Triad.

– Netzach is the realm of excess. It is a place of gluttony and debauchery. A place of infinities without limitations. It is a pleasuredome. The more crude may view Netzach as a heavenly realm, but it is not. Netzach is unconcerned with spiritual harmony or advancement, it is a place of sins of the flesh.

The first Triad of the Qlippoth

The first Triad makes up what are often times referred to as the lower realms. These are places that are generally defined by darkness and bleakness.

Lilith – Lilith is a corruption of an earlier term given to the first Qlippoth which meant night (from which Lilith is derived, which means lady of the night). It is a place referred to by some as the shadowlands. It is a physical realm physically accessible from Malkuth.

– Because Yesod is separated from Malkuth, to even things out Gameliel is split from Lilith. However, the true nature of Lilith and Gameliel can be seen clearly from one residing within Malkuth, and at the same time the Veil is much weaker between the two, creating less of a split. Because of this Lilith and Gameliel are often times confused in writings, so much so that sometimes Lilith is referred to as Nehemoth because Lilith has associations within Gameliel. Gameliel is simply the spiritual aspect to the physical aspect that is Lilith in the Sepiroth.

Samael – Like Hod, Samael is a place of limitations. It is a place of judgments, and judges, and where punishments are meeted out to the guilty. It is also where Hades, the realm of the dead, resides, and it is here where many dead spirits reside in the afterlife, it is from Samael through which the dead may be seanced or otherwise contacted, and it is in Samael that the stream of life exists.

Between Samael and A’arab Tzereq lies the gate of ivory, the place from which non-prophetic dreams come from. It is to this place that we typically wander to when we dream.

A’arab Tzereq – Like Netzach, A’arab Tzereq is a place of pleasures and desires without limitations, the main difference being that Netzach is ultimately balanced by Hod, meaning that those things which exist or are created within Netzach can never leave Netzach intact, since they cannot reach Yesod/Malkuth without first being limited through Hod. However on the Qlippoth no such balance exists, and so those things belonging to A’arab Tzereq can be taken out into Lilith and even Malkuth, and in this way A’arab Tzereq becomes the realm of creation and manifestation magick. Also the Qlippoth moves down, where as the Sepiroth moves upward. So Netzach moves into Hod, those things belonging to Netzach being given limitation there. In the Qlippoth Samael moves into A’arab Tzereq, granting the things there the power of a physical presence.

Moving from the first to the second Triad – In Malkuth and Lilith we move in a physical body. To move through the rest of the Triad we need to move out of our physical body and into an astral body, a sort of go-between that is half physical and half non-corporeal. The first triad concerns itself with physical reality and the creation of that reality, so that is what is needed. The second triad however is concerned with only the mental reality, things are as they are thought, and physical reality is absent. So to enter this realm we need a completely non-physical body to inhabit.

There are two methods to gain a mental body. The first is to first contact our Holy Guardian Angel and then to merge with it. Our Holy Guardian Angel is a piece of ourself. It is our mental body, we always had it, we just aren’t born with access to it. Our mental bodies also have access to the mental planes, which contain large storehouses of information and power, of which we gain access to when we merge with our HGA. Our HGA will be of the opposite gender that we are, and the merging will be a sort of sexual process, where the two come together and more or less form a single entity from the two. We then not only gain access to the vast knowledge that is attainable by the HGA, but also the ability to utilize the body to move through the second triad.

Alternatively we can forgo merging with our HGA and instead find a willing being that exists within the second triad to merge with, using its power to transcend to the second triad.

The nature of the second triad – The second triad is sometimes referred to as the mental realms or the heavenly planes. It is a place without any true physicality. Things there are made up as energy, and thought forms the only reality. Where the three planes merge together they create the Askahic Record, which is a catalog containing all information, histories, thoughts, happenings, ect. This record exists as a series of interconnected sentient realms, and it may be accessed supposing a person knows how to find what they want within it.

Tipereth – Tipereth is perfect harmony, balance, and beauty, removed from the more base physicalities. In many ways it is what most would consider heaven to be. It is a place embodied of joy and bliss, and it can only be reached by one who can bring themselves to a state of complete harmony and balance. Some measure adepthood as reaching Tipereth (the Golden Dawn for instance), and in order to reach Tipereth balance of self has to be achieved.

Geburah – Geburah is the realm of conflict, albeit conflict without physicality. It is the realm where Val Halla and other similar places reside. It is a place of war, and battle, and destruction for no other reason but the purity and nobility of these pursuits. That which is fortified in Chesod is attacked and destroyed in Geburah, and that which survives passes on to Tipereth, being a perfection. Geburah is the place from which the noble warriors draw their strength and power.

Chesod – Chesod is a land of fortification and of unchallenged power. Things here exist as absolute truths. Ideas formed here become truth, and they are never allowed to be anything else. In Geburah ideas are constantly challenged, and in Tipereth ideas are balanced and strong, in Chesod they simply are. It is a place of unparalleled peace and tranquility and meditation. It is a sanctuary and an escape. It is also the last realm prior to the abyss, and so it is also the realm of the false masters and the false gods. Those things that were able to advance themselves and enlighten themselves enough to reach Chesod, and yet were not strong enough or enlightened enough to cross the abyss. Some claim to be masters, some even claim to be gods. In truth they were proven too weak to ascend to the higher realms. Many hold great power (things of this realm tend to), but they should not be trusted, and definitely not worshipped.

The second triad of the Qlippoth
– This is, quite literally, hell. What exists here are the most horrific and monstrous things imaginable. This is the stuff of nightmares. Unlike the heavenly triad, this triad has a very distinct physicality to it. That which is thought or imagined can become real, can take form.

Tagarion – There is no balance within the Qlippoth, and so Tagarion becomes the perfect imbalance. It is a place of absolutes and extremes. It is a realm associated with those magicians who cannot or will not balance themselves and find their inner peace. It is a place of raging and destructive emotions. Things here are in a constant state of conflict. Every emotion is felt at its most extreme, and the pain cannot be dulled. There is no atonement or redemption here, or even forgetfulness, only pain and regret.

Gohlohab – Much like Geburah is a realm of conflict, of war, of battle, and mostly a realm of violence, however there is no nobility or idealism in what is done. There is no purity of the acts. The acts are performed for enjoyment and amusement, for whatever pleasure may be pulled from such things. It is a place to harm and be harmed, to destroy and be destroyed, to murder and be murdered, and derive all the pleasure that can be had of such things. It is a realm of sociopathic thought and the height of pleasure that can be achieved from killing and maiming and raping and being hurt and killed and raped.

Ga’ashekelah – Ga’ashekelah, like Chesod, is a fortification. This fortification though is an obstacle. Where as Chesod is absent the conflict of Geburah, Ga’ashekelah has the conflict of Gohlohab brought into it. There is no tranquility here. This is a place that must be fought and defeated, and only the strongest can pass it, and move on to the lower abyss. That which resides here, that can not attain passage across the abyss, is much like the false masters and gods of Chesod, except here they attempt to destroy those that would wish to pass into the abyss, to prove their power over them, and to prevent any from achieving a greater power than they possess. Many who have failed to acquire true achievements in life end up like these dismal entities in Ga’ashekelah.

The two abysses – There are actually two abysses, that which exists on the higher side, which must be passed to move from Chesod to Binah, and that which exists on the lower side, separating Ga’ashekelah from Sathariel (and this duality is responsible for some of the confusion concerning the abyss). One of these two abysses must be crossed in order to reach the third triad. There is no work around to getting past the abyss. The abyss is necessary for one to ascend from their mental body and merge with a third body, their emotional body, to access the final triad.

The higher abyss – This is the abyss of the Sepiroth. It is not a physical place. It is a state of being. A person ‘in the abyss’ will undergo a series of trials. They will be tested. A good portion of themselves will most likely be destroyed, it’s a necessity. They will also learn and be taught by the experience, and if they manage to survive and make it to the other side, they will be stronger and more enlightened for it. It is however not a pleasant state of being, and it is a state which can last a lifetime if a person never manages to defeat it, and refuses to give up (one can always give up, there are ways, and a person able to make it into the abyss will know how to get themselves out of it).

The lower abyss – The lower abyss is a physical place. It’s a big black dark hole. A place of emptiness. It is a physical trial, one that requires strength, and power, and wit, and perseverance. A person must make it to the bottom, and then destroy the abyss to come out the other side.

The third triads – The highest triads, on either side, represent a place of great enlightenment and power. These places exist beyond the ideals of heaven and hell. They represent something greater and more powerful.

Binah – Binah is the perfection of being, although impure. It’s tainted by its connection to the mental realm beneath it, and so one in Binah is perfect, and yet tainted and not completely detached from what is beneath it. It is here that we exist as beings of pure emotion, where thought no longer creates reality. It is what we feel, what we desire, that becomes. It is the first realm of true will.

– Sathariel is not absent the physical and mental realms as Binah is, but it is the first to combine them with emotion. Sathariel is a pleasuredome. It is a place of all imaginable pleasures, where all desires become reality for as long as one wishes. There is not need nor want in Sathariel, all is provided, and desires as met to their fullest expectation. It is a place of happiness and joy, of pleasure. It can be, for you, whatever you most want it to be, whatever will make you most happy.

Chockmah – Chockmah is the realm of purity. Things that enter into Chockmah become a purity, they are purified, and anything not belonging to them are separated. The power of Chockmah is that it makes us into our true selves, the truth of our essence, and not what has tainted us, what has scarred us.

– Augiel is the opposite of Chockmah. Where as Chockmah is the purity of self, Augiel is being one with everything. To enter Augiel is to become one with the universe, to merge into it, to become it to an extent, and to have its power at your disposal. It is what is sought by those, particularly new agers, who wish to become one with the world or universe, who wish us all to come together as one.

Kether – Kether is the final Sepiroth, and it houses the fourth body, the true self. Kether is about singularity, and those entering Kether become their true self, and nothing exists in Kether, at least for them, except their true self. They are the all and the everything of being.

Thaumiel – Thaumiel is the duality of self. It is here that things are split and divided. To come into Thaumiel is to have yourself split and fractured, to be thrown into pieces, and have these pieces spawn off and evolve. To become legion.

Kether, Thaumiel, and the origins – Kether houses the divine spark, it is through that spark that all creation begins, and all things spring forth. Thaumiel meanwhile is the first division, it is duality. Where as Kether is necessary for creation to begin, Thaumiel is necessary for it to be split, for their to be more than just the divine spark. The singularity of Kether and the duality of Thaumiel create the triplicity of the universe and of being(explained in this post). Thaumiel is an important and necessary aspect of creation, not an abomination as claimed by some.

Ain and beyond – Ain exists beyond both Kether and Thaumiel, although in different forms, again a higher and a lower. The Sepher Yetzirah specifically states that Kether is not the beginning, simply a point from which we’re starting, because we need to start somewhere. There is more beyond these two spheres. It is another veil, another HGA to merge with, another abyss to cross. It is yet another trial which must be passed in order to see what lies beyond. And what lies beyond this trial is something which cannot be seen or imagined from Malkuth. It is very possible that the physical body, and possibly other bodies, must be completely shed in order to reach the other side. It is clear that the singularity of Kether and the fractioning of Thaumiel are key to passing their respective trials.

The nature of movement – Some time ago I wrote an article regarding the tarot explaining how an idea moves from Kether to Malkuth, goes from one to ten. In the Qlippoth though, things moves from Lilith to Thaumiel. It’s a backwards process. And so things move down the Sepiroth, starting in Kether as a singularity, becoming a purity of self in Chockmah, and eventually reaching physical being in Malkuth. Because of this things bleed downward, for the most part anyways. There is no impurity before Binah, no fortification before Chesod, no Conflict before Geburah, no perfect balance before Tipereth, no physicality before Malkuth. The purity of Chockmah is tainted in Binah. The Fortification of Chesod is attacked in Geburah. Ect.

In the Qlippoth, things move on the opposite. The physicality of Lilith moves through each of the spheres. The conflict of Gohlohab bleeds into Ga’ashekelah. The boundaries of Sameal create reality within A’arab Tzereq. Ect.

Notes on diagrams and names – Any person wishing to study the tree of life should make diagrams of the tree, for themselves, for both the Sepiroth and the Qlippoth. It helps a lot in both memorizing these things and their relations to each other, and in understanding them and their relations. The names of both the Sepiroth and the Qlippoth hold some power, and they should be written out, spoken, and thought of frequently. All things should be meditated on.

Final conclusions – I am not well. Journeying into and meditating on the Qlippoth has not come without some cost. What is contained here are only my personal notes. Some of it is fact, some ideas I have had. Maybe at some point I will go through them and make them into something that flows better, is more coherent. For the time though, I need a break from working with this material. I’ve posted this material, some of which I’m sure is incorrect, but is to the best of my belief at this moment correct, and in doing so I’ve completed a task that was given to me and fulfilled my end of a bargain. Although not in the best of formats, and largely incomplete, I do believe it provides a good framework to work from.

Reading the Tarot Pips – Part 3: Numerology 101

March 4, 2007

Okay, we’re going to talk about numerology, or what the numbers mean. As per our tarot pips, we’ll be looking at numbers 1-10. Each of these numbers corresponds to a Hebrew word and a sepiroth.

1 = Kether = The Crown
2 = Chokmah = Wisdom
3 = Binah = Knowledge
4 = Chesed = Mercy
5 = Geburah = Severity
6 = Tiphareth = Beauty
7 = Netzach = Victory
8 = Hod = Splendor
9 = Yesod = Foundation
10 = Malkuth = The Kingdom

The ten numbers are split into three triads and across three pillars. The first triad is Kether, Chokmah, and Binah, and these three come together to form Chesed. The second triad is Chesed, Geburah and Tiphareth, which come together to form Netzach. And the third triad is Netzach, Hod, and Yesod that come together to form Malkuth.

The three pillars are the pillars of Balance, Mercy, and Severity. Kether, Tiphareth, Yesod, and Malkuth exist on the pillar of balance. Chokmah, Chesed, and Netzach exist on the pillar of mercy. Binah, Geburah, and Hod exist on the pillar of Severity.

All of this is important, and it all has meaning if you study it long enough to understand it. But moving on, we’re going to look at how an idea passes through these ten points.

1. Kether – The first point is Kether. As stated before, this isn’t the true beginning, but where we’re starting with our idea. It also isn’t the start, but what came before it. Kether is represented by the statement of ‘I’. Kether is the seed, the first act through which all else comes into being. It is the foundation of the idea. Kether is where existence starts. Geometrically speaking, it is a single point existing by itself.

2. Chokmah – Chokmah is represented by the statement of ‘I Am’. After existence begins, the next step is being or existing. Here the idea is in its purest form. Chokmah is the purity of being, without any outside force hampering that being. Geometrically speaking, Chokmah is a line which can be drawn between two points.

3. Binah – Binah is represented by the statement of ‘I Know I Am’. In Binah the idea is taking the next step in existence and acknowledging that it does exist. It is the knowledge that one is something and that they exist. And through Binah we get the first impurity of the idea. It’s now effected by knowledge of itself. And this taint will manifest in various ways depending on what the idea is. Geometrically Binah provides three separate points, through which a shape can be made.

4. Chesed – Chesed is the completion of form. Once the idea acknowledges its own existence, it comes into the next step, the completion of its existence. In Chesed, the idea becomes complete for the first time. Although the idea is complete here, it is still alone and has yet to be put into the universe. Here the idea is strong and fortified, but that strength is only because the idea still exists outside of the universe, and so there are no other forces acting upon it, and no opposition to it. Geometrically Chesed provides a fourth point, allowing for a three dimensional object to form. Also, in order for a thing to be spatially defined, four points are necessary. An X,Y, and Z point, and a fourth point to observe it from. Within Chesed we have the true formation of being within space.

5. Geburah – And this leads to Geburah, in which outside forces act upon the idea.. In Geburah the idea is cast out into the cruel universe. Within Geburah we have opposition to the idea, we have attempts to both change and destroy the idea. And possibly we have the destruction of the idea.

6. Tiphareth – Tiphareth is the strongest and most balanced form the idea will take. Here the idea has been completed in Chesed, it has faced opposition in Geburah, and it has survived the opposition of Geburah and come out stronger for it. Tiphareth exists at the exact center of all things, being in the pillar of balance, being as close to Kether and Malkuth, and proving a direct connection to both. The idea has found its most perfect form (as opposed to its purest form in Chokmah).

7. Netzach – Within Netzach is the consequence and the end to the perfection found in Tiphareth. Within Tiphareth things were perfect and all opposition was destroyed. Without opposition, the idea becomes less than perfect. At this point we have stagnation, sloth, boredom, and over-indulgence. The idea starts moving towards destroying itself through the sloth of perfection.

8. Hod – Hod is the reaction to Netzach. In order for the idea not to be destroyed, in order for it to survive and thrive again it has to make some changes towards the opposite direction. However Hod isn’t the return to balance, but the exact opposite extreme of Netzach. Hod moves towards its own destruction to, and it is as bad a situation as Netzach, it’s just done in the exact opposite way.

9. Yesod – By joining the two extremes of Hod and Netzach together we come to Yesod, the return to balance. However Yesod differs from both Kether and Tiphareth. Kether’s balance comes from it existing alone. There is nothing else, so it is always at the exact center. Tiphareth’s balance is naturally occurring. Balance is the natural state of all things upon reaching Tiphareth. But the balance of Yesod is forced into being. It comes not as the natural state, but by taking two opposite extremes and forcing them together, coming to a compromise between them. We can look at the four stages of balance as being balance (Kether), perfect balance (Tiphareth), imperfect balance (Yesod), and natural balance (Malkuth). We can also look at the balance of oneself and one’s energies (see Lies a Kabbalist Told Me for some background information on this). In Malkuth we have the natural balance brought about by existing in the universe. The idea that all things within the universe are always perfect and balanced. In the next stage we have Yesod where balance is achieved by positioning two opposites with equal force and having them pull against each other. In Tiphareth, we have energy balanced and codified, where it acts as a single force. And finally in Kether we have balance achieved through a complete oneness with the entire universe, which as we said with Malkuth is already perfectly balanced.

10. Malkuth – Finally, born of Yesod we have Malkuth. In Malkuth the idea has finally completed its cycle. In Malkuth the idea has become so complex that it has collapses under its own weight and destroys itself. This will lead into our eleventh point.

11. Kether – From the ruins of Malkuth springs forth a seed. This seed will act as a new Kether, and the 11 becomes renumbered as 1, and the cycle begins again, with the idea building upon the complexity of the previous cycle in a new cycle. This act continues on and on with the idea becoming more complex every time it completes a cycle. Eventually we have the formation of the universe, the all of creation, and everything that has come into being up until now. And the cycle will continue on with the universe constantly growing and everything evolving into a more complex state.

I understand that everything I’ve written may seem very complicated, and that some people may be very lost at this stage. However I think everything will become a lot clearer once we take some examples of ideas and look at how they progress through the ten sepiroth. That will be the main purpose of the next section. We’ll also look at how everything fits together, and briefly we’ll look at how the pips correspond to the trumps. After the next section you should be able to read the pips just fine. The second half of this will look at astrology and the method used by Paul Christian and the Golden Dawn.

Reading the Tarot Pips – Part 2: Basic Kabbalah

February 18, 2007

The Kabbalah is a complicated subject. It basically discusses the creation of life, the universe, and everything. And as such it has to take abstract concepts that can’t fully be comprehended and bring them down to something resembling a human level. The end result is a system that can be studied for a lifetime, or even thousands of lifetimes, and still not be fully understood. And even if you did understand it, you could never really manage to impart that understanding to someone else.

This, on the other hand, is a short post dealing with the Kabbalah. The Kabbalah itself is intertwined into all aspects of the tarot, but for our part what we’re really concerned with is how the Kabbalah relates to the pip cards. So we’re going to keep this short and sweet and only cover what we absolutely need to in order to understand the next section. But a deeper study of the Kabbalah will certainly aid in understanding the tarot.

The Kabbalah itself is part of the Jewish religion. According to Kabbalistic beliefs, the Kabbalah was the spoken word of God, as passed down by Moses but originally given to Adam (the historical view on the subject places its origins at a much later date). There are many books written on Kabbalism, but the three major books are the Sepher Yetzirah, Sepher Bahir, and the Sepher Zohar.

The Sepher Yetzirah is almost mandatory reading when dealing with the tarot. The best English translation is the one by rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. Be careful of the various occult translations (especially Mathers). Most were done by people who had very little understanding of the Hebrew language or Kabbalah, and the text is often mangled. Kaplan also made a translation of the Sepher Bahir. The Sepher Zohar is much longer than the other works and has never been fully translated into English (although I did hear about Oxford working on a very expensive full translation at one point).

Back to the history lesson. Many of the Jewish sects have since abandoned Kabbalah completely, or have lessened its important within the faith. However some sects still do practice Kabbalah and it is still taught by some rabbies. But Kabbalism has also expanded outside of Judaism. The Kabbalistic works were picked up in Europe, mostly by Christian mystics, and the concepts ingrained into occult theories. Rosicrucian beliefs are largely centered in Kabbalism, and the ideas have spread from there into almost all aspects of magick, including the modern neopagan religions.

And all of this leads up to a theory concerning tarot. At one point in time, due to lack of understanding both the history of European art and Egyption hieroglyphs, that the tarot originated in ancient Egypt. It was believed that the older Egyption society had a wealth of esoteric information that had become lost in modern times. And the tarot was supposedly a fragment of this information. And it was believed that the Kabbalah did in fact originate with Moses, except that it wasn’t given to him from God, but taken from the Egyptians and then preserved as another lost fragment of this information. And so a correspondence was created between the tarot and the Kabbalah that exists even today, long after the Egyptian origins of the tarot have been disproven.

Now there’s a thing called the tree of life. The tree of life is a diagram that was created to help visually explain some of the Kabbalistic concepts. The tree itself consists of ten points, known as sephiroth, and twenty-two paths connecting those points. These ten sephiroth, and twenty-six paths, represent the entirety of creation. By understanding how the tree of life works, we understand how the universe was created. But it isn’t just how the universe is created. It shows how everything is created, how it grows, and how it ends. Anything can be put into the tree of life.

Our ten points correspond to the first ten Hebrew numbers. The twenty-two paths correspond to the twenty-two Hebrew letters. The twenty-two paths deal with the tarot trumps, and that’s not what we’re concerned with here. So instead we’ll be looking at the ten points.

The first point is Kether, but Kether isn’t the beginning. Rather, Kether is where we start, because we need to start somewhere. But there is stuff that lies before Kether, and stuff that lies before that, and so on and so on. There is no true beginning, that we know of, to start at. And so we pick a point in the middle and go from there. That point is Kether.

Now the next nine points are created in succession after Kether, first the second point Chokmah, all the way down to the last point, Malkuth. And when Malkuth is reached, the universe is created. But, the universe was also created instantaneously. All points appeared at the same time. As soon as Kether appears, so does Malkuth, and all points in between. There is no delay Kether existing and Malkuth, yet at the same time the points come in succession and one point cannot come in existence without the preceding point.

To help explain this idea there is the lightning bolt diagram. Basically it compares the process to a lightning bolt. When a lightning bolt comes, it’s all at once. Its top appears as soon as its bottom. As soon as there’s the beginning, there’s the end. Yet we know logically that a lightning bolt begins in the sky, and moves downward eventually hitting the ground. This of course is just a metaphor. We know scientifically that a lightning bolt does not come all at once in any way, and the appearance that it does is an optical illusion brought about by the high speeds at which it moves. The points do come all at once, and they do it in succession.

As said there are ten points, and in order they are Kether, Chokmah, Binah, Chesed, Giburah, Tiphareth, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, and Malkuth. Each of these points is infinite, and yet limited. That is to say that each point goes on for infinite and holds an infinite amount of things, and yet no point holds all things, each only holds certain things.

The idea is best described mathematically. There are an infinite amount of numbers between 1 and 2. 1.1, 1.23, 1.4566743, ect are all between 1 and 2. Yet 3.1 isn’t between 1 and 2. It’s between 3 and 4 (and there are also an infinite amount of numbers there). Infinite things, yet limited and not all encompassing.

And that’s all that needs to be known to get into the next section, Numerology 101, where we’ll discuss the meaning of the ten points and how creation moves through them. But I did say in the last section that I’d discuss the duality of the universe to a greater degree here. On greater reflection, it helps to understand the tarot in general, but isn’t a necessity to understand the pips. Still, I did say I would.

The universe exists as a duality. All things come in twos with everything having an opposite. Male/Female, Good/Evil, Life/Death, ect. Even the ten sephiroth have the ten qlippoth, and each is a necessity for the other two exist. That’s because in the beginning, out of the nothing came a something, and then there were two things, a nothing and a something. From these two things spawned everything else, and so all things exist in these pairs. Even the four elements are a take on this. It’s just that you have the original pair that start, Fire and Water, and the later pair that are spawned from them, Air and Earth.

But there are five elements. And the world isn’t so black and white. There’s not only gray, but there’s stuff that can’t even fall into the color spectrum. It’s because the universe doesn’t really exist as a duality. It sort of does, because, as said before, there was the something and the nothing. But there’s something else too.

The nothing wasn’t there first. It could only come into being when it’s opposite, the something, existed. The same goes for the something, it can only exist when the nothing also exists. This is the first duality, and so the universe turns on this principle. But as I said no one knows the true beginning of things, and the something and the nothing are not it. So what was before the something and the nothing? Something else entirely, and something that doesn’t turn on a duality. And the heritage of this something else is still intertwined into this universe, and it’s the third thing that creates the triplicity under which all things exist.

Lies a Kabbalist Told Me

June 7, 2006

Originally published online November 8, 2005.

I’m just going to ramble off some thoughts on the nature of internal balancing and negation for a little bit.

First off, as professed by a lot of Kabbalistic followers, I don’t think the end goal of balance is absolute negation and destruction of self. That just seems absurd to me. I think it’s actually a misinterpretation of what is meant. Balancing isn’t the act of putting two opposites together to destroy each other, but rather holding both at once and keeping them equally. The idea that balance equates to negation is based on the mathematical fallacy that X + -X = 0 in all instances, when what is in fact being looked for within balance is X + -X = Y. Sexual intercourse is an excellent example of this. From a Kabbalistic perspective the male and female are opposites. Yet when they’re joined together in sexual union, they don’t negate and destroy each other (at least with most species), and if certain conditions are met they’ll actually create something completely new while at the same time retaining their own selves in the process.

That isn’t to say that negation doesn’t serve a purpose. Many of the systems out there contain lessons on negation, and the reason for it seems to be that there’s a natural progression from higher magick to lower magick, not vice-versa as the terms seem to imply, or as some practitioners would like it to be believed.

Let me get into that a little more. Ritual magick is almost like magick with training wheels for a couple of reasons. First off, the methods employed make it easier to effectively use magick. All those rituals, symbols, ect. when properly used make everything easier. Secondly it allows the magician to be properly focused and create change only with intention. What I mean is it’s very unlikely that you’ll find yourself performing a complex ritual that involves four props, a cloak, a chalk symbol, and fifteen minutes of chanting on accident.

Lower magick is a bit more difficult to effectively use, although it does have some benefits in that it is more versatile and easier to perform. The magician is dependent upon their own ability alone to bring about change. But as the magician becomes more capable, lower magick becomes much easier. Which leads into the second problem. When the magician is at a point where they can bring about change very easily, it isn’t too difficult for them to bring it about accidentally. A magician in this situation who happens to be emotionally unbalanced or who has an overactive imagination they can’t control becomes very likely to accidentally do all sorts of things unwittingly that have real consequences.

And so under these systems, as the practitioner becomes more and more able and lower magick becomes easier to use, they’re being trained how to control and negate their thoughts, lest they be allowed to remain unchecked and start causing change to occur.

As for imbalance, and I’m going to keep this short and say just what I want to say because it is somewhat basic, if ever imbalance does occur it can feed itself like a cycle that makes it progressively worse. Once a single side starts to dominate, it tends to beat out the other side and push itself further and further out in that direction. Once this cycle has been allowed to continue for a while, it can become very difficult to break it and achieve balance again.

From the Kabbalistic perspective we’re given the idea of balance as being achieved by having the right and the left each pulling in their directions with equal force, and there are some who will propose that true balance is based on having both opposites equally pulling on each other. But from my experiences, that isn’t entirely true, as the end goal should be codification rather than conflict.

Let me explain some. If one side does start to dominate, a quick fix is to just flood yourself with the other side to balance each out. This is effective to some degree. The fact that both sides exist equally will prevent either side from becoming strong enough on its own to make balancing out later on achievable. The two sides will manage to keep each other in check so neither gets out of control. But it isn’t an ideal situation.

Both sides are still feeding within their cycles and pushing more and more towards their side, they’re just doing it within a duality rather than alone. Like I said earlier, this duality has purpose and can help the situation, but it isn’t ideal. It creates a situation where the practitioner is pretty much being torn two different ways. Like the right side of the body is trying to move left with all its might while the left side is trying to move right with all it’s might.

And within this opposition there isn’t much real power. Things become out of focus so to speak, and the power that does exist from each side of the duality can’t be properly focused to achieve it’s ends. The practitioner can lean to one side or the other, and attempt to use that power to achieve the necessary ends, using that which is needed where it is needed rather than having a pure source that can swing towards either end as needed. But once again, this creates problems.

The first thing that comes to mind, is that the left has the power to act, where as the right has the power to sanctify that action and make it good. The left has the power to seek out and create a pleasurable situation, where as the right has the power to find the situation pleasurable. Ect. (These are just a few examples, I could go on all day with this if I really wanted to). Neither side on its own will ever be good, it’s only through their dual existence that good can be achieved. By concentrating your efforts temporarily towards either side rather than at the center you’re taking on everything that exists within that side, both the positive and the negative, and you’re not balancing out the negative aspect with the positive aspect of the opposing side. And so you are, at least for that moment, following the left or right hand path rather than the center path.

The other problem that occurs is that doing this immediately destroys the balance that was achieved through duality. Either more power has been given to one side, or power has been depleted from the other. And so after the act is taken, steps then have to be made to equal out the unused side, to recreate the balance. And of course there’s the danger of not being able to recreate that balance, and one of the sides continuing on its cycle as the dominate force.

As I said this situation isn’t ideal. What is ideal is the codification of these two sides. Having the left and the right merged into a single entity that is both at once, the true center. The opposite forces still exist in full, but both are allowed to exist in their complete form and flow fully through each other. That which remains is both of the left and the right equally, but rather than pulling in opposite directions is unified towards the same ends. It’s been unified, and contains the best aspects of both parts, while at the same time the coexistence of those aspects work against the negative aspects of those parts. To fall back on the earlier analogy of the two sides of the body going in opposite directions, in this instance both sides would act to move forwards together.