Q. B. L.
THE BRIDE'S RECEPTION
BEING A SHORT QABALISTIC TREATISE
ON THE NATURE AND USE OF THE
TREE OF LIFE
WITH A BRIEF INTRODUCTION AND A
BEING SOME ACCOUNT OF THE INEFFABLE NAME AND OF THE FOUR WORLDS WITH THEIR CORRESPONDENCES TO THE MINOR ARCANA OF THE TAROT.
We must now consider what the Qabalists have to say in regard to the "Four Worlds" which are under the dominion of the Ineffable Name of Four Letters Yod-Heh-Vau-Heh (IHVH) usually called Tetragrammaton.
There are three methods of classifying these "Four Worlds" (1) We may consider them as upon Four Planes one above the other, that is to say, we can take our "Tree of Life" and imagine that there are three similar "Trees" occupying the same position except that each represents a different Level. We can then easily adjust our conception to the consideration of Four Worlds, occupying the same space, but being of different grades of substance, one interpenetrating the other.
(2) We may consider "Four Trees" placed vertically one above the other so that the Kether of the First "Tree" corresponds with the Malkuth of the one above, and so on, thus obtaining a ground plan of all four.
(3) We may consider the One "Tree" we have already studied as divided into Four Parts in a particular manner to be discussed later.
These three methods are useful for different purposes and we should adopt the most convenient for our special needs. I may mention that when a very minute classification is desirable the Sephiroth in each of the Four Worlds can each in turn be divided into "ten" by placing a small complete Tree of Life in each Sephira, thus we should obtain 400 different Sephiroth and a very great number of "Paths." But this is too complex for our present purpose.
The Names of the Four Worlds are:- ATZILUTH, BRIAH, YETZIRAH and ASSIAH.
1. ATZILUTH, the Highest, is the ARCHETYPAL WORLD. It is in this World that the Primal Ideas arose in the Mind of THE FATHER, Who through WISDOM was able to comprehend the Silent Voice of the One Existence. These were the "Seed Ideas" as yet unmanifest, but containing Potentially the WILL of the Father to manifest in a suitable Substance. This World is attributed to the First letter of the Ineffable Name, Yod, the Letter of the FATHER.
2. BRIAH is the CREATIVE WORLD which, being impregnated with the Will or Life, of the Father is a LIVING SUBSTANCE, Understanding what is necessary to the gradual formation of the ideas and the preparation and bearing of them until perfectly fashioned. It is therefore referred to the Second Letter of the Name, Heh The Great Mother.
3. YETZIRAH is the FORMATIVE WORLD, the product of the previous two, where the perfected ideas having taken form, await a suitable material body in which to clothe them. It is the world of Symbols, something like the Plan of the Great Architect ready for execution. It is attributed to the letter Vau which is that of the SON.
4. ASSIAH is the MATERIAL WORLD wherein all these former worlds of fine matter are Materialized and Manifested in tangible form. It is the Universe as we know it through the five senses. This is attributed to the Final Heh which is called the DAUGHTER and is usually written with a dot in the centre to distinguish it from The Mother.
Now these Worlds are symbolized by the FOUR SUITS in the TAROT, viz.:- WANDS, CUPS, SWORDS and PENTACLES. Notice how closely the symbolism follows. Wands, the Vertical Lines of Will correspond to The Father, Cups hollow and receptive are the Understanding or The Mother, Swords formed as a Cross, the vertical combined with the horizontal, are equivalent to the Son, while Pentacles are the Materialized Daughter summing Up all the foregoing.
There are 40 of these small cards, ten of each suit in turn numbered from One (or Ace) to Ten. These connect at once with the Ten Sephiroth. The Four Aces belong to Kether, the Four Twos to Chokmah, etc., until finally the four Tens are attributed to Malkuth. If we arrange these cards in Ten packs in the form of the "Tree of Life," placing the Wands uppermost, then the Cups below them and the Swords below that and the Pentacles lowest of all, we find we have a clear set of symbols for the Four Worlds. For instance, we pick up The Six of Cups, what does that mean? Why, 6 is Tiphereth and Cups = Briah, so we obtain Tiphereth in the Creative World. Again Four of Swords will be Chesed of Yetzirah, The Mercy of the Formative World. This is so simple that it needs no further explanation.
Now we should note that the Ineffable name IHVH is particularly attributed to the FOUR ELEMENTS, Jehovah being, as we shall see later on, the God of the Elements. Now Yod is FIRE, Heh is Water, Vau is Air and the final Heh is Earth. Again we find the same symbolism, The fire of the Father, the Water of the Great Sea or Mother, coming together and forming Air, the Son, which with the previous two produces Earth, the Daughter. These again correspond with the Tarot Symbols, Wands = Fire, Cups = Water, Swords = Air and Pentacles = Earth.
We should now consider the Third method of attributing the FOUR WORLDS to the TREE of LIFE. In this we find a peculiar arrangement. KETHER, the CROWN, being PURE EXISTENCE, the Qabalists designated it AHIH which means EXISTENCE IS EXISTENCE. This has been translated in the Scriptures as I AM THAT I AM. Kether is Pure Unity and LIGHT, from which cometh LIFE which is the Substance of Light, and this being a LIVING SUBSTANCE is divided into the FATHER or LIFE and THE MOTHER or SUBSTANCE. But these three are One in Light and form the Supernal Triad KETHER, CHOKMAH, BINAH. Now the Qabalists attribute Yod of IHVH to Chokmah and Heh to Binah as these are the FATHER-MOTHER of all things. They sometimes say that the topmost point of the Yod is in Kether and represents AHIH. Now Vau, the third Letter or SON is attributed to TIPHERETH and the SON ruleth over the Six Sephiroth, Chesed, Geburah, Tiphereth, Netzach, Hod and Yesod; otherwise the Moral or Intellectual part of the Tree. Again the final Heh or Daughter is assigned to MALKUTH the Kingdom, which is the materialized Manifestation of the foregoing. She is sometimes called The Queen as the Son is called The King who is Crowned by Kether, but this may perhaps cause some confusion with the Tarot, so we had better designate The FATHER as THE KING, THE MOTHER as THE QUEEN, THE SON as the PRINCE and the DAUGHTER as the PRINCESS.
We now come to the question of the COURT CARDS of the TAROT and we find FOUR of these for each of the FOUR SUITS. They are named, on the Cards, KINGS, QUEENS, KNIGHTS and PAGES. It is evident that there is a connection here with the Ineffable Name, but there has been some confusion in the Symbolism of the Cards for we find the Kings seated on Thrones or in Chariots, the Queens on Thrones, the Knights on Horses and the Pages are on foot. Now the Force of the FATHER (or KING), is QUICK, SUDDEN and very ACTIVE as is the Male Generative Power and this is best symbolized by the HORSED FIGURES who are borne rapidly forward with rush and energy. THESE then are the true KINGS and representatives of the forces of Yod in the Name. The QUEENS are as they should be, seated upon THRONES as if to signify the ENDURING quality of the MOTHER who waits passively while the result of the Active force is at work within her. The cards marked Kings are the real PRINCES or representatives of Vau The Son, for they are seated in CHARIOTS drawn by Horses (or should be so shown) and thus they represent the Combined action of the Father and Mother, somewhat less swift than the Father and more active than the Mother. The Pages are the true PRINCESSES or Daughters. Standing alone because they manifest the FATHER, MOTHER and SON, but only powerful insofar as they remember whence they came. The FOUR KINGS then belong to CHOKMAH, the FOUR QUEENS to BINAH, the FOUR PRINCES to TIPHERETH and the FOUR PRINCESSES to MALKUTH. There being 4 Suits these are particularly referred to the ELEMENTS in the case of the Court Cards, though as before there is a correspondence with the "Four Worlds" if we use the First Classification of Different PLANES.
The KING of WANDS, for instance, is called The LORD of The FLAME and the LIGHTNING, the KING of the SPIRITS of FIRE,* for The KING is the Father (Yod) and WANDS are attributed to FIRE. So, again, the KING of CUPS is known as The Lord of the Waves and the Waters, the King of the Hosts of the Sea. But let me remind you once again that these KINGS are marked as "Knights" on the cards themselves. It is advisable that the true titles be written on the cards by the student.
[*All the true titles of the Court and small cards may be found in Equinox Vol. I, Number 8 [see] or on "THE WHEEL OF THE TAROT" designed by Frater Achad.]
We may also obtain a very complete Sub-elemental Attribution to these Court cards, for The KINGS being 4 forces are all FIERY while there are FOUR SUITS also attributed to the elements, so we get different combinations as follows-the King of Wands is FIRE of FIRE, King of Cups = FIRE of WATER, King of Swords = FIRE of AIR and King of Pentacles = FIRE of EARTH. So also with all the other cards. The Prince of Cups, for instance, is AIR of WATER because the Prince = Vau = Air, and Cups = Heh = Water. This may appear a little confusing at first but one soon grasps the idea and once it is fixed in the mind one has the first principles of all this symbolism firmly rooted in consciousness.
There is however another consideration which should be brought forward, viz.: That KETHER is PURE SPIRIT so that the NAME IHVH really only governs the NINE SEPHIROTH below Kether, for in a certain manner, as mentioned before, it is representative of THE ELEMENTS ONLY, and these are CROWNED by SPIRIT. MAN, too, is made up of these ELEMENTS, but by the LIGHT of THE HOLY SPIRIT within him he may RULE and GOVERN them once he has COME TO THE LIGHT or found the KINGDOM of HEAVEN within himself. The process whereby he may find his TRUE SELF will be described later on, but here we should remark that when he does so, he escapes the LAW of the FOUR - the Cross or Square - and becomes a Perfect MICROCOSM or LITTLE UNIVERSE made in the Image and Likeness of GOD. Then he is Symbolized by the PENTAGRAM or FIVE-POINTED STAR of UNCONQUERED WILL and Mystically the letter Shin, which is the HOLY SPIRIT, is said to descend into IHVH thus forming IHShVH or Jeheshuah, the God-Man. This process is symbolized in the Tarot by the ACES which correspond to KETHER and SPIRIT being placed at the top of a Pentagram, the other four arms being attributed to FIRE, WATER, AIR and EARTH, also to KINGS, QUEENS, PRINCES and PRINCESSES. Thus we find we have FIVE ELEMENTS or rather FOUR ELEMENTS which have their ROOTS in SPIRIT. The Aces are called the ROOTS of the Elements, thus, Ace of Wands = The Root of Fire, Ace of Cups = the Root of Water, Ace of Swords = the Root of Air and the Ace of Pentacles = the Root of Earth. These ROOTS signify the SPIRIT. All the foregoing will be made clearer if we complete this Chapter by summing up what we have said in tabular form and also by means of a diagram showing the Holy Pentagram, or Man, with the Elements rightly attributed according to THE NAME IHShVH.
CONCERNING THE MACROCOSM AND THE MICROCOSM AND HOW BY MEANS OF THE TREE OF LIFE WE MAY LEARN TO UNITE THEM, THUS ACCOMPLISHING THE GREAT WORK.
We have spoken in the last chapter of the Microcosm which is Man, we must now discuss the Macrocosm which is God, and the Means of Uniting these which is called the Great Work.
When the Qabalists tell us of the Creation of the Universe through the Father, Mother, Son and Daughter symbolised in the NAME IHVH, which is active in the SEPHIROTH, we must not think that the process ends with the production of MALKUTH, the Material World, for this is likened to the UNREDEEMED or Animal Soul in Man, viz: that which only Perceives and Feels. This "fallen one" must be RAISED TO THE THRONE OF THE MOTHER, that is to say, come to UNDERSTAND. The process of redemption is symbolised as follows, The DAUGHTER must marry the SON, she then becomes THE MOTHER who in turn arouses the active force of THE FATHER, and these twain being UNITED, all is RE-ABSORBED into THE CROWN. This sounds complicated, but it is very important that we should grasp its true meaning.
HERMES tells us "That which is above is like unto that which is below, and that which is below is like that which is above, for the performance of the Miracle of the One Substance." The Qabalists say that The Universe is the MACROCOSM and that Man is the MICROCOSM or Little Universe. Between these is a direct CORRESPONDENCE for Man is made in the Image and Likeness of God. We are all produced from the ONE SUBSTANCE and have within us, potentially, all the possibilities and Powers of Nature and of God, but these have to be brought out and developed before we can say we have become the perfect Microcosm, a true Mirror of the ALL. We are, at first, like the Unredeemed Daughter, creatures of mere animal feeling with some power of perception. We have within us a vast storehouse, the AUTOMATIC or SUB-CONSCIOUS part of our being, which corresponds to YESOD the FOUNDATION on the Tree of Life. This Automatic Consciousness takes care of the vital functions of the body, without need of attention from the conscious self, which is, after all, but a very limited thing and mostly illusion at that. Now the SON, with the Sephiroth which He represents, corresponds in man to the REASON and INTELLECT, and their Marriage with the lower or animal soul is necessary for our development, but there is a further Mystery, for above REASON lies another state, THE SUPERCONSCIOUS, which alone brings UNDERSTANDING. But we have to go through certain processes, pass certain ordeals, before this CHILD of the HIGHER is born in us. When we UNDERSTAND we shall be able to perceive directly, without inference or deduction, and in that state we may receive the TRUE WISDOM OF THE FATHER, and so regain the LIGHT of THE CROWN.
This is a very brief statement, but it will give some idea of the necessity for "CLIMBING THE TREE OF LIFE " which is the Road to the Attainment of ADEPTSHIP, leading in turn to the perfection of the MASTERS, who have completed the GREAT WORK as far as they Themselves are concerned.
Just as the Microcosm -Man- is symbolized by the Pentagram or Five Pointed Star, so is the MACROCOSM -GOD- symbolized by the HEXAGRAM or SIX-FOLD STAR. The attainment of " Union with God" is considered by all religions to be the Great Work which lies before us. We may symbolize this as Uniting the FIVE and the SIX, and this operation is sometimes called 5=6 which is the formula used by the Great Brotherhood known as the A∴ A∴ This particular stage belongs to the Grade called Adeptus Minor, and corresponds to the "Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel" or True Self, which is obtained in TIPHERETH, where the DAUGHTER is united to the SON. In order to make this clear I must describe some of the necessary steps leading to this Attainment.
The TREE of LIFE is sometimes considered as representing the GRADES of a THREE-FOLD ORDER, in which case each SEPHIRA is attributed to one Grade, or represents the stage of the work attained to by those who hold that Grade. We must remember that each Sephira is both Positive and Negative, so likewise is this Order a CHAIN SYSTEM wherein those holding any Grade receive an influx of help from the Grade above them and transmit their help in turn to those below. Thus there is an unbroken stream of INFLUENCE from the CROWN to the KINGDOM and beyond.
Suppose one aspires to climb this TREE, how important it becomes that he should know the Correspondences, Symbols, etc., which are the Land Marks and Sign Posts on the Way. Do not think that I have given you all the Correspondences, there are hundreds of them to each Sephira and Path, but I have given you enough to show the main idea, and you will find the means of extending your knowledge in such books as 777 (which is a complete Table of these Correspondences,) and elsewhere. This treatise is intended only to indicate something of the Nature and Use of the Tree of Life, and so I have only dealt with the different aspects very briefly. Each would require volumes in order to cover the subject fully.
I will now tell you something of the Order whereby one may learn the Path to the Highest. First one becomes a PROBATIONER, that is, one who is outside the Order but who is OBLIGATED to "Obtain a Scientific Knowledge of the Nature and Powers of his own being". When he has accomplished this task he becomes a NEOPHYTE and enters the Sphere of MALKUTH. There he learns to CONTROL the Nature and Powers of his own being. He finds these much wider than he expected and his task before reaching YESOD is to control the ASTRAL PLANE, which he accomplishes by the use of the Pentagram which makes it possible either to Invoke or Banish all the Elements and to control them. In YESOD he becomes a ZELATOR and must learn to CONTROL the FOUNDATIONS of his own being. This is accomplished through control of the body and breath or Prana. On passing to HOD the Sphere of Mercury he becomes a PRACTICUS and must overcome the VACILLATIONS of his own being. He studies the Holy Qabalah and such Eastern Systems as Gnana Yoga. In NETZACH he becomes a PHILOSOPHUS, and his task is to obtain CONTROL of the ATTRACTIONS and REPULSIONS of his own being. Netzach being the sphere of Venus and the House of Love he does so by means of proper DEVOTION or in Eastern Systems BHAKTI YOGA. Thus, having passed the Initiations of the 4 Elements, he is ready to pass on to the INNER ORDER which lies behind the VEIL. This is called the College of Adepts or COLLEGIUM AD SPIRITUM SANCTUM, but he must wait outside the Veil until he has transmuted his previous work into Spirit, that is to say, he must obtain DHYANA the sixth stage of Raja Yoga as it is called in the East, or, as we call it, he must ATTAIN to THE KNOWLEDGE and CONVERSATION of THE HOLY GUARDIAN ANGEL which is his Task in TIPHERETH. While in the Grade of ADEPTUS MINOR, he learns the True Mysteries of the Rosy Cross, so that his task in the next Grade, ADEPTUS MAJOR, corresponding to GEBURAH, is to apply the FORMULA of the R. C. Thus he becomes a true Magician if he uses his Powers rightly. After accomplishing this task he becomes an EXEMPT ADEPT and passes to CHESED, the Sphere of Jupiter, where he must exercise his authority in the right way, for he has attained to all that is possible on the Plane of Reason. Again he must wait before he passes to the Third Order, for there is indeed a Great Gulf Fixed between Chesed and Binah and this is called THE ABYSS. Strange as it may seem he must give up all he has attained, including himself, before he can pass this Abyss and be reborn of the Spirit into BINAH where he becomes known as NEMO or No-Man. He is now MASTER of THE TEMPLE for having given up 'self' he is able to comprehend and Understand ALL. CHOKMAH the next SPHERE is attributed to the GRADE of MAGUS. Here we find the Great Masters of Wisdom, those who are truly WORDS (Logoi) under Whose WILL all below is directed, and HUMANITY gradually INITIATED, according to the Plan of the ONE CREATOR and by the LIGHT of THE CROWN. The Highest Grade, is called IPSISSIMUS, it is that wherein SELFLESSNESS is SELF and EXISTENCE IS EXISTENCE, of which no word may be spoken.
Thus have I briefly mapped out the Way. It is for you to discover The Truth and to Live the Life.
I have made no mention of the "Paths" which connect the Sephiroth, and which correspond to the Symbolic Designs of the TARO. I will however indicate the method of progress from Grade to Grade. From Malkuth to Yesod there is but one "path" to travel. From YESOD to HOD there are two, for it is necessary to combine the ideas suggested in the paths from MALKUTH to HOD with those from YESOD to HOD. Again from HOD to NETZACH there are "three" to be combined;- the Path from Malkuth to Netzach, the one from Yesod to Netzach and that which leads directly from Hod to Netzach. Thus, step by step, one must discover the Way, Pass the Ordeals and Tests, Overcome his own Obstacles and Illusions. (Though there are Those who will help us if we truly aspire and are prepared always to GIVE HELP in our turn.)
Every step we take, we must retain our link with the Higher and with the Lower, for this is an endless chain and every link is tested to the uttermost lest that chain break. Or again, it is called the Great Wheel of Life, the least little "cog" of which may well be proud in trying to fulfill his office perfectly.
THANKS TO HERMETIC HOSTING