This MLA paper explores Kabalah and the Tree of Life. It describes the nine fruits of the tree and traces back its roots to ancient times. This sample essay was written at the undergraduate level to serve as a sample for the Ultius blog.
Kabalah and the Tree of Life
‘The Tree of Life’ is featured throughout innumerable cosmologies including the Egyptian, Norse, Jewish, and Christian religions. For reference, one configuration of it, the caduceus, the healer’s staff is featured above. The religious, social, and psychological revelations bestowed by this archetypal figuration are discussed in this paper with specific consideration given to mystic understandings advanced by the Qabalistic and astrological traditions.
The study of Qabalah
The Qabalah or Kabalah is a mystical diagram of the Universe that is known as the Tree of Life thanks to the way it stretches from the highest heavens down to the root of form. Beginning with pure nothingness and proceeding to the final emanation known as the world, the tree of life is composed of 11 Sephora whose ordering is reflective universal principles of being.
Each Sephora is known as an emanation of the Godhead that proceeds from a state of non-being or ‘nothingness’ to the final form that is the ‘Kingdom of God’. These Sephora are known as many things including fruit, sapphires, faces of God, or orbs of ordered light (Goddard 2).
The significance of these spheres is immense and intertwines with creation myths. David Goddard writes,
“The Tree of Life was withheld from Adam and Eve, when by eating of Knowledge’s fruit; they fell into duality. Chaldean winged spirits guard this Tree of Life, while Egyptian Thoth writes upon each leaf. From this blazing, unconsumed Tree, Metatron instructs Moses in Unity. Beneath this Tree, Deborah and the high priestess prophesy.
Odin hangs upon this World-Tree, gaining the Runes of Wisdom Within its trunk Osiris Sleeps, yet he will he wake to Eternal Life. Jesus is still nailed to this Tree, with rose-thorns about his brow…. And from this Wish-fulfilling Tree, alchemical Sages Harvest the golden Fruit of Immortality” (Goddard).
Origins of the Tree of Life
Hence, the Tree’s influence stretches far and wide across space and time to touch nearly every one of the world’s mystery and mystic traditions. The tree is decidedly Gnostic-Hebrew as its earliest appearance was in 120 A.D., from Rabbi Akiba in the Book of Formation a Qabalistic manuscript (Campo 13).
It is written that the teachings concerning the Tree of Life were brought out of Egypt and later refined during the Israelite’s capture in Babylonia where they added the mathematical letter system known as Gematria (Campo 13). In either case, it has been the Hebrew people who have been by and large the major disseminators of this teaching regarding the structure, formation, and use of the Tree of Life.
Rumor has it in this tradition that the Tree of Life was a spark that began when God first revealed the Kabalah to the Angels. It was kept secret at the time of man’s banishment from the Garden until they were ready to regain their lost paradise (Campo 13).
There are 10 standard Sephiroth or ‘faces of god’ on the tree however there is a secret and tricky Sephiroth hidden between the upper most Sephiroth and the center middle known as Da’at whose color is a vague Grey, White, Black, and speckled Purple.
The exact order of these Sephiroth in their original form with associated attributes and planetary signs is as follows: 1.) Kether the Crown, by Pluto, 2.), Chokmah with Wisdom and Uranus, 3.) Binah, understanding that is ruled by Saturn, 4.) Chesed, Jupiter’s mercy and love, 5.) Geburah, Mar’s strength and power, 6.) Tiphareth, the Sun’s harmony and beauty, 7,) Netzach, Venus’s victory and magick, 8.) Hod, mercury’s Glory, 9,) Yesod’s Lunar intelligence of purity and foundation, and finally 10.). Malkuth’s resplendent glory that is the Earth-Body (Campo 15). The missing Sephiroth is Da’at whose ruler is Neptune and is most commonly recognized as the ‘abyss”, the space between the Archetypal and material worlds.
Interested in similar cosmology in Christianity? Check out the portrayal of Satan in various works of literature.
The Tree is split into three pillars that help to configure its use. The center pillar is known as the “Pillar of Equilibrium: Present Moment Awareness”. It may be called the pillar of Consciousness when ascended or the pillar of Grace when descended (Guess). The split of the center column goes into a left and right pillar known as the pillars of severity, passive, and the pillar of mercy, active, respectively (Guess). The Sephora thus move in and out of present moment and relevancy as they pass from left and right across the tree’s center pillar. The shape may be familiar since it is the pattern that Hermes staff, the caduceus makes as it rises.
An important use of the Tree of Life is the delineation of the several planes of existence that give rise to material reality which are described the name of Jehovah in the Tetragrammaton Yod-Heh-Vau-Heh. This name means “That which was, that which is, and That which will be” thus referring to all forms of life.
The first world described by this name-formula is Yod whose significance is fire and thus represents eternal and archetypal configurations that will take greater shape down the tree (Goddard 93). With ceremony and creative visualization, the everlasting found in uppermost part of the tree is dragged through the following worlds to create a desired effect in what may be called magick or instructed prayer.
With Briah, the following world of creation, the archetypal shapes come out of their timelessness and are directed by the intelligence of the angelic realm which corresponds to the element of air and the word Heh of the Tetragrammaton.
The next realm, is that of Yetzirah and is the site of formation, where water is the main element and the word Vau is word in effect. This realm is the psychological dimension of images where emotions and astral realities take their shape and position. The final realm is physical Kingdom of the Tree is called Assiah, the world of nature and action. Here is said to be the Earthly component of the tree where in God enters Earth and manifests as flesh itself (Goddard 96).
Did you know?Tarot cards are thought to have originated from ancient Egypt and Kaballah.
To understand the general path of this manifestation, there is a route along the Tree of Life known as path of Lightening that begins with Kether and proceeds to Malkuth which will be taken step by step to gather the characteristics of different Sephiroth (Dardekeas). This ‘flash’ of lightening begins with Kether, the Crown, and has the image of an Ancient Bearded King in profile.
The experience of this Sephira is Union with God and is associated with the almond flower, diamond, and Swastika (Camp 25). From here, the path proceeds to Chokma, the house of Wisdom where one sees a Bearded Male Figure, and lives the virtue of Devotion. The Lingam, Phallus, straight line, tower, and Star Ruby are associated with this Sephora (Campo 27).
The next fruit is Binah, the place of Understanding where there is the image of the Crone, a Mature Woman. This Sephora is also known as the Great Sea where the virtue of silence rules and the Star Sapphire and Pear are the main stones (Campo 28). The path then makes a cross the ‘Abyss” a Sephora named Da’at.
It is so named, as the top tier of the tree represents the Ideals of the Archetype that is the trinity and thus when the fourth emanation of God occurs, the emergence of the solid square emerges with the first form. The distance between this ideal trinity and the beginning of matter is known as the Abyss and it is this dimension that students must overcome through devotion to the Ideal rather than with reason or common sense (Crowley 14).
The fourth fruit on the tree is Chesed, a name meaning Mercy that is to be achieved in the Vision of Love. Here is the throne of majesty wherein a radiant King sits with a presence that is tied to Jupiter, Tin, Obedience, Amethyst, Calderwood, Four Leaf Clovers, and the Wand, Scepter & Crook (Campo 31). Chesed is said to contain all the holy powers for it emanates every spiritual virtue filled with the most exalted essences. Across from Chesed is Geburah, the warrior Sephora whose name literally means severity. Its face is a warrior on a Chariot which is proper to its function as keeper of Justice and Fear (Campo 33).
Here, the student has the vision of Power or Strength which have the translations of Energy and Courage. The Pentagon rules Geburah as it is the 5th major Sephora. Its elements are Iron, the Five Pedaled Rose, Tobacco, and the Seraphim’s fiery Serpent Angels (Campo 33).
The sixth Sephora is one of the most important on the Tree as it is the mediating or center point that balances the left and right pillars as well as the higher and lower orders of the Tree. It is called Tiphareth, meaning beauty whose images include both a Majestic King and a Sacrificed God. This the ‘Adam’ or ‘Son’ of the tree whose function is the Vision of Harmony, the virtue of Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, the Human heart chakra, the creation of the Cube, the metal Gold, and the Rosy Cross (Campo 36).
The next sphere is that of Netzach, the Venusian Sephora whose business is the Occult and Victory. Within this Sephora divine feminine and sexual Beauty is radiated through the imagery of a strong Amazonian woman (DeLiso). It is the Sephora that Lust and Unconditional Love radiate from with the virtue of unselfishness. The stone of this Sephora is emerald and the metal is copper. The balancing Sephora to the so called anarchic energy is Hod, the mercurial Sephora whose principles are those of time, language, wisdom, scripture, and trickery (Raven 8). Here is the vision of Splendor and the intelligence of the Absolute as shown by the image of a Hermaphrodite.
Sephora number nine is Yesod, the Lunar Sephora whose function is the vision of the Universal Order which comes from its purity. Yesod is foundation and here is where imaginal and subconscious images are carved out before reaching Malkuth the final Sephora (Guess).
Finally, there is the Sephora of Malkuth whose name Kingdom and is controlled by the Body-Earth (Guess). There is the resplendent intelligence whose presence is that of a beautiful Young Woman, throned & crowned (Campo 45).
The figurations and associations of the Tree of Life are profound and numerous. Astrology, numerology, Tarot, angelology, geomancy, and geometry are expressed in its relations. Serious consideration of the Tree is a must for spiritual seekers wishing to expand their own awareness of this key pattern which gives rise to the world’s many important wisdom traditions. Doing so shall surely bring further enlightenment, excitement, connection, faith, and love, all virtues the Tree expresses throughout.
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Campo Gerald, New Aeon Magick, Thelema Without Tears. Luxor Press, Inc., 2000. Print Guess, Paul. Qabalah. Tree of Life: Chart, 2013. http://www.corax.com/tarot/index.html?tree-of-life
Crowley, Aleister. The Book of Thoth. Ordo Templi Orientis, 1944. Print.
Dardekeas. Path of Lightening. Mentalurge Kabbalah, 2005. Web. http://mentalurge-kabbalah.blogspot.com/2005/08/path-of-lightning.html.
DeLiso, Tom. Netzach. Wisdoms Door. Hermes Reality Creator, 2016. Web. June, 15, 2016. http://www.wisdomsdoor.com/tol/netzach.php.
Guess, Paul. Qabalah Tree of Life. Endless Design, 2013. Web. June, 15, 2016. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/91/04/f4/9104f4b1465d3e6572bd80c6e37c9903.jpg.
Raven. Hod. Raven’s Tarot Site, 2010. Web. June, 15, 2016. http://www.corax.com/tarot/index.html?tree-of-life.