THE SEPHIROTIC TREE OF LIFE
life appears in some form as an important symbol practically with all
nations and in all historical epochs. Why is it so? From the earliest
the humans were always aware of the presence of tree. They may not have
climb them as apes, which some evolutionists might think, but trees
played an important role in their lives. In any case, in most places on
people were always surrounded by trees. The tree branches reach high
skies, while the roots go deep into the ground — a tree thus
in the heavens as well as on earth, while providing a link between the
the tree in picture above, trees could also resemble human bodies; the
like human torso, the branches can look like outstretched arms, the
appear like feet firmly planted into the ground. In many mythological
and fairy tales, trees appear that can act, talk to people, usually
wisely, even walk, and generally be of use to those seekers after truth
minds are not closed like those of other people. As happens in the
fantasy trilogy Lord of the Rings.
the right we have a crystal-like shape – it could also look to you like
image of atomic or molecular structure. It is the scheme we will be
using as we
move up and down the Sephirotic Tree of Life. Above
the tree we can
imagine having a veil, which to a human eye and mind is impenetrable.
this veil there is the ineffable, the impregnable, omnipotent and
God, who to us is completely incomprehensible. Then, at some point, as
play was about to commence, the curtain begins to open, and through
opening out comes a burst of pure white light, the vital energy. This
going to come through different steps, it will be emanating in
realms, depending on which of the Creator’s attributes of the Creator
from. They all are going to be extrapolated into the final creation,
the being that is going to be like a mirror reflection of God. After
Bible says that God created man in his image and in his likeness.
these steps, or emanations of the Creator, are called sephiroth,
is the plural to the singular sephira. The word has
the same meaning as
the English “sphere”. The first of these emanations is called Kether,
the Crown. In this sephira the Creator still
remains concealed, at least
as far as we are concerned. It is the highest sephira, and on its
it still faces the veil from behind which it came. Kether is also the
all the sephiroth, because it is close to the ineffable.
created the first sephira, Kether, God decided to materialise. I’m
expression for lack of any other, and only because this is the end
the whole process. To
understand this difficult concept it might help
us if we imagine the Creator as pure energy in a state of total unity.
first sephira there is an embryo, the mere beginning of what is
going to become the ‘ten thousand things’, as the Chinese call the
Creation. To achieve this God has to polarise the as yet
energy, and to come to this multiplicity of things, he has to ensure
is some breaking down of unity into multiplicity. In other words, the
needs to have the energy on one side, and the form on the other side,
the energy, thus far clean and unused, can become formalised. In
other sephiroth are being created, each of which represents one of the
attributes of the Creator.
entire tree of life consists of ten sephiroth and twenty-two paths
that connect them. This corresponds with the ten cardinal numerals and
twenty-two sounds, or letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
UNITY AND THE POLARITY
The path that the future initiate
has to follow leads through the
centre of the tree. It may not be entirely without obstacles. In
temples and places of worship, where rituals that depict this journey
conducted, there are two columns at the entrance to the temple. The
between the columns is not free however, and the candidate for
initiation is in
some way interrogated, before being allowed to enter. The Tarot card
portraying the High Priestess. She sits on a cube, holding a scroll.
represents polarity, duality, revealed through the presence of the two
usually marked with the letters Yod and Beth. When a candidate enters
temple, he or she must pass between the two columns of polarity.
the neophyte thus leaves our profane world, the world of multiplicity,
enters the realm of unity, a sanctum. The two columns of polarity mark
of the profane world and the entrance to the spiritual world. On
through the two columns there is a tension that is created, which sucks
person who follows this path into the sanctum, into the field where one
spiritualise oneself. When passing out again from the unity to
there is a relief from tension that was previously created. Most people
feel this consciously, but those who happen to be sensitive can
in quite a profound way.
Sephirotic tree on the diagram (right) has three
pillars. To the two
pillars of polarity added is the centre pillar of balance, equilibrium.
other two pillars are named after the dominant (from our point of view)
sephiroth Chesed and Geburah as pillars of Mercy and Severity.
Only in the relatively recent time
the scientists noticed, and eventually began to take seriously, what
in the hermetic societies for a long time. Our brain and nervous system
along similar lines; it has its right and its left side, each working
less independently on each other. Through the middle then goes the
chord, which distributes the impulses throughout the body. These
to have some balance — if everything would be guided by only one side
brain, for instance the left side ruled by the sephira Hod, and without
contribution by Netzah, we would be rather uncoordinated. The logical
would prevail over the side of imagination. We could, for instance as
accountant, make some calculations, get the numbers, but then we
what to do with them. At least not until Netzah from the other side of
would come in, and tell us what we should tell our clients about
that they could avoid being hit hard by the tax office.
We would be coming back to the Tree
Life again and again, throughout this book, looking at the individual
sephiroth, their characteristics, and what they mean to us. The tree is
a doubt the most important glyph the Kabbalah has, and practically
that we meet with in our lives, could be in some way illustrated,
explained with its help.
TO: THE FOUR WORLDS
various depictions of the Tree, from different times and cultures.