As described earlier, the qabalistic Tree of Life has three Columns. The Columns of the Right and Left on the Tree are in a state of dynamic polar stress. The beings who inhabit one side are in active conflict with those on the other. The Central Column, balancing the two, remains unaffected by such conflict and those who dwell there are essentially invisible to the beings on either side. Unlike the Central Column, the Columns of the Right and Left have “gatekeepers” who strictly enforce standards that must be met to progress further.
The variety of Working Trees reflects the different paths by which different types of magicians, wizards, saints, devotees, and yogis ascend the Tree of Life. Devotees and yogis generally make exclusive use of the Central Column. Their paths are referred to as “Central Column Working Trees.” Magicians, wizards, and saints, on the other hand, make significant use of the side columns on the Tree. The Working Trees of the magicians make exclusive use of one or other of the two side columns. The Working Trees of the Saints and Wizards involve the use of all three Columns, but ascend in opposite directions. The Perfect Trees are mystical allusions to Self-realized souls and forms of divine incarnations.
B. The "Way of the Angels of Elohim" and the "Way of the Angels of Destruction"
The Working Trees that exclusively involve the Columns of the Right and Left are respectively called the “Way of the Angels of Elohim” and the “Way of the Angels of Destruction.” The Ways of the Angels of Elohim and the Angels of Destruction both involve mastering endlessly counteractive, self-enforcing rules that govern mazal (alzm, Fate, Sans. karma) and acquiring power under conditional intent. The “Way of the Angels of Elohim” (see Diagram) is also called the “Right-Handed Path,” and those who traverse it are often referred to as “white magicians.” They engage in disciplines, routines of behavior, and rituals intended to cultivate love of the Lord hvhy, righteousness, and purity in order to pass the inspection of the gatekeepers who guard the Column of the Right on the Tree. Attachment to their righteousness, goodness, and their priestcraft keeps those who ascend the Tree via the Way of the Angels of Elohim in the Right Column, and generally preempts them from repositioning into the Central Column.
White magicians use the Name hvhy and other power names to invoke powerful angels and to manifest and use creative powers. Most orthodox religious Jews also cultivate love, righteousness, and levitical purity to be able to ascend the Column of the Right and attain virtual angelic states, mostly in the lower heavens. However, unlike white magicians, they do not generally desire or seek to wield creative or healing powers. The ascension of the Column of the Right can be very slow, as the amassment of purity and merit required to pass through the gates involves considerable time, often lifetimes.
The “Way of the Angels of Destruction” (see Diagram) is also called the “Left-Handed Path,” and those who traverse it are often called “black magicians” or “sorcerers.” They engage in disciplines, routines of behavior, and rituals intended to cultivate hatred of the Lord hvhy-as-Adversary, sinfulness, and impurity in order to pass the flaming swords of the Kerubim who guard the Column of the Left. Black magicians use the Name hvhy and other Divine Names to invoke powerful demons (Jinn) i.e. destructive angels, and to manifest and use destructive powers. Attachment to their unrighteousness, hatred, and ritualistic process keeps them in the Column of the Left, and preempts them from moving into the Central Column.
The black magician thinks that through rituals, talismans, and force of personal will that he/she can actually gain control over elemental spirits and the Jinn, and direct them to act in accord with his/her beckoning. Since demons want to feed on the valuable shells of these magicians when they break up at death, in order to get the power to incarnate physically themselves or gain access to deeper hells, they go along with the game. Hence, the Jinn are often quite willing to give the sorcerers low level occult powers, coveted material prizes, or apparent control over elemental spirits, which the demons see as having little value compared to the vital energy of the shells they seek to gain.
The Left-Handed Path is very rapid because of the intense focus of the mind in hatred for God-as-Adversary. This path can therefore yield some results in a relatively short time, but inevitably ends in the destruction of the sorcerer because he/she cannot withstand the power channeled through their shells from the higher Sefiroth. Most do not make it past the Gate of the Tzade o between the Sefiroth Power/Fire and Understanding/ North. Very powerful black magicians, who make it up the Column of the Left without shattering their shells, are denied access to Atziluth (World of Emanation) by the action of the Gate of the Ayin i (“Gate of the Unclean Servants”) between the Sefiroth Understanding/North and Crown/Above. This gate redirects such souls into extinction via the Abyss at the invisible Sefirah Knowledge/First.
C. The "Way of the Saint " and the "Way of the Wizard"
Like the Ways of the Angels of Elohim and the Angels of Destruction, the Working Trees known as the “Way of the Saint” and the “Way of the Wizard” are opposite in nature and intent. The Way of the Saint involves an arduous progression up the Tree in which all the Sefiroth of all three Columns are traversed one by one through a specific sequence of letter-gates (see Diagram) In occult literature, this path is often confused with the Way of the Wizard. The wizard moves up the Tree in the identical manner as the saint, but in exactly opposite order and using different lettergates (see Diagram). The Wizard’s Path begins with ritual purification to gain access to the Column of the Right through the Gate of the Yod y. The Saint’s Path begins with trials by fire via the Gate of the Samek c to bankrupt the ego and engender complete surrender to the Will of the Divine.
The wizard seeks to acquire power out of selfish desire for personal control, and the saint seeks to respond with righteous intent to the dictates of the Divine Will. For this reason, a wall of fire blocks the gate between the Sefiroth Power/Fire and Wisdom/East on the Way of the Wizard, obstructing progress into the three supernal Sefiroth. As with black magicians, the Gate of the Ayin i between Sefiroth Understanding/North and Crown/Above short-circuits wizards through the Abyss into the negatively existent roots, thereby preventing very powerful wizards from gaining access to Atziluth and disrupting the Creation. There is no wall of fire in the gate linking Sefiroth Mercy/Water and Understanding/North on the Way of the Saint. On this path, the Gate of the Heh h from Sefirah Wisdom/East gives access to Sefirah Crown/Above, so movement into the supernal Sefiroth and Atziluth is smoothly accomplished. The Tree of the Saint is keyed to the Name hvhy; the Tree of the Wizard is keyed to the Name Olam (,lvi).
D. Central Column Working Paths
In distinction to magicians, sorcerers, saints, and wizards, a Mystical Qabalist (or “clear magician”) traverses only the gates and Sefiroth of the Central Column of the Tree. A clear magician uses the Name hvhy and other Divine Names only for spiritual awakening, and for cultivating unconditional love, renunciation of the fruits of action, discrimination between the Real and the Illusory, and non-dual realization. Mystical Qabalists use Working Trees called the “Way of hvhy Elohenu,” the “Way of Messiah,” and the “Way of the Treasuries ofElohim.”
The “Way of hvhy Elohenu” is a rapid and smooth path up the Central Column that centers upon unconditional love for and surrendering the fruits of work in the world to one’s Chosen Ideal (see Diagram).This path is empowered by remembrance (zakhor) of the Name of one’s Chosen Ideal, usually in the context of a root mantra. Over time, the shells are purified and the soul is able to sustain consciousness in the higher centers. The traveler on this path may stop with the awakening and sustaining of consciousness in the heart Sefirah Beauty/Last. Or, by renouncing the consciousness of the Lord as Creator/ Preserver/Destroyer of the Universe, move on to the witness consciousness of Vast Face in Atziluth (Sefirah Crown/Above) and into the negatively existent roots of the Tree.
The “Way of Messiah” (see Diagram) is generally one of the fastest and easiest of the Working Paths, but requires an overpowering and unconditional love for a form of Messiah or theTorah (which contains all of them). In Qabalah, Messiah has four “Celestial Heads” corresponding to the Sefiroth of the Inner Court of the Tree. Similar to the Way of hvhy Elohenu, the Way of Messiah is empowered by taking the name of the Chosen Messiah in meditation while visualizing an appropriate form in the heart center. When the consciousness of the traveler moves into Sefirah Beauty/Last, the entire Tree lights up and all the Sefiroth merge into one large heart Sefirah. Among others, St. Teresa of Avila is a clear example of this “One-Heart Perfect Tree.” The Tree of Messiah is unique in having the Gate of the Dalet d, called the “Gate of Messiah,” between the Sefiroth Beauty/Last and Wisdom/East.
A third major type of Working Tree that involves the exclusive use of the Central Column is the “Way of the Treasuries of the House of Elohim” (see Diagram), which is associated with King David. The Sefiroth on this Tree are collectively named “Treasuries.” The House of Elohim is the Temple of the Lord hvhy On High. Hence, by this Tree, King David intended to build the Temple of the Lord hvhy in the hearts of all Israel. The use of the Central Column alone eliminates the distractions of the Right and Left Columns, as well as any interference from their inhabitants. The disappearance of the side columns results in various changes in the patterning and names of the Sefiroth. Among all qabalistic Trees, the Tree of the Treasuries is the one most similar to the single-column Trees of the Sufi Latifas and the Tantric Chakras.
E. Trees of Perfection
Through the will of Small Face, some return back to the Creation from the ultimate experience in the Roots of the Tree. For such souls, the Tree takes special form as “Trees of Perfection” for whom the illusion of the Fall into dualistic consciousness of Sefirah Kingdom no longer exists. Awakening in the path of devotion to Small Face (called bhakti yoga in India) results in the transformation of the soul into a “Tree of Perfection Way of the Alef a of Unity” (see Diagram). On this Perfect Tree, the power of consciousness (Sans. Chitshakti) concentrates in the heart center (Sefirah Beauty/Last). A yogi who has awakened to Vast Face consciousness via the path of concentration and discrimination between the Real and the Illusory (raja or jnana yoga in India) comes back in as a “Tree of Perfection Way of the Ayin i” (see Diagram). On this Perfect Tree, the power of consciousness concentrates in the throat center in the visible Sefirah Knowledge/First.
A few rare souls are able to stand in the gate between the two Faces. This station of consciousness is called vijnana in Sanskrit. It is alluded to by the “Tree of Peace and Perfection” (see Diagram), wherein the power of consciousness is balanced between the throat and heart centers. The oddest Tree in the Sefer HaShmoth is the gateless form of the Tree of Perfection called the “Tree of the Congregation” (see Diagram). The transmission of the Sefer HaShmoth yielded no further information on the nature of this Tree. Other primary qabalistic sources also yield Trees of Perfection, which will be presented in subsequent sections.
F. Trees of Life from the Book of Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation)
After the Sefer HaShmoth (Book of Names) and ancient portions of the Torah that pre-date Master Mosheh, the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation) is the oldest book of the written Mystical Qabalah, dating to the times of and attributed to Master Abraham. The Sefer Yetzirahis a manual on the mystical nature of the Hebrew alphabet recorded by Master Abraham in the original Sinatic Hebrew alphabet. The Sefer Yetzirah presents a number of unique forms of the Tree of Life.
The first of the six chapters of the (Sefer Yetzirah) begins: “By thirty two wonderful paths of wisdom hy, hvhy of Hosts, Elohim of Israel, Living Elohim, and Eternal King, El Shadai, Merciful and Gracious, High and Uplifted, Who inhabits Eternity, Exalted and Holy is His Name, engraved. And He created His universe by three signs: by border and letter and number.”
The “thirty-two paths” which comprise the Tree of Life are the ten Sefiroth (tvrpc, lit. Spheres) and the twenty-two release gates interconnecting the Sefiroth. The gates are the twenty-two Hebrew letters (see Diagram). The first verse above is immediately followed in the second verse with the five root phrases that serve as the “skeleton” upon which the body of the book hangs. One or another of these root phrases lead into most of the verses throughout the rest of the text.
“There are Ten Intangible Sefiroth (hmylb tvrypc rsi, Eser Sefiroth Belimah) and Twenty-Two Letters are the Foundation (dvcy tvytva ,ytsv ,yrsi, Esrim Ooshtayim Autiot Yesod): Three Mothers (tvma sls, Shalosh Imote) and Seven Double Letters (tvlvpk ibs, Shevah Kuhfoolote) and Twelve Simple Letters (tvuvsp hrsi, Esrae Puhshootote).” (Sefer Yetzirah 1:2)
The verses beginning with “Ten Intangible Sefiroth” generally allude to various forms of the Tree of Life, some of which are unique to this book. We mentioned earlier that the Sefer Yetzirah is the textual source for the six-pointed star, commonly known as the “Star of David.” The Star of David, a two-dimensional symbol composed of two interlocking triangles, is easily the most recognizable symbol of the Jewish religion. This way of viewing the star certainly presents a wealth of interpretative possibilities. The Sefer Yetzirah yields two forms of the six-pointed star as Trees of Perfection. The first is a flat, circular form (see Diagram). The second presents the star as two interfacing pyramids containing the ten Sefiroth and the letter-gates (see Diagram). By way of comparison, it is interesting to note that the six-pointed star is also an ancient and important symbol in the North Indian Tantric tradition, dating back to the second millennium BCE. In the Tantric tradition, it is associated with the Anahata Chakra in the heart center.
The Sefer Yetzirah also describes a flat, vertical version of the Tree of Perfection. As with other flat Trees, two of the “Inner Court” Sefiroth (Water/Good and Fire/Evil) are moved into the side columns, with the gates adjusted accordingly (see Diagram). The names of the Sefiroth in the Sefer Yetzirah are based on the elements (Spirit of Living Elohim, Air, Water, Fire), or alternately, on the four “Heads of Celestial Messiah” (First, Last, Good, and Evil), and the six directions (Above, Below, East, West, North, South).
The six directions are sealed through permutations of the Name vhy. The final Heh h of the Name hvhy is dropped due to the fact that the action is occurring in the astral World of Yetzirah.
“There are (Ten Intangible Sefiroth) whose measure is ten without end: Depth of First and Depth of Last, Depth of Good and Depth of Evil, Depth of Above and Depth of Below, Depth of East and Depth of West, Depth of North and Depth of South. Lord, Only One, El, Faithful King rules all of them from His Holy Dwelling Place unto Eternity.” (see Diagram) Yetzirah. “These Ten Intangible Sefiroth are(ONE) - Spirit of Living Elohim, Air from Spirit, Water from Air, Fire from Water, Above and Below, East and West, North and South.”
The second chapter of the book is keyed to the root phrase:: “Twenty-two letters are the foundation.” It describes the letters as the basis for everything that is formed, and presents the image of a wall bearing two hundred and thirty-one two-letter permutations (see Diagram). Some of these twoletter roots are known Hebrew “words” with literal and hidden meanings, and some are unknown. “
Twenty-Two Letters are the Foundation: He engraved them, He hewed them out, He combined them, and He set them at opposites, and He formed through them everything that is formed and everything that is destined to be formed.” (Sefer Yetzirah 2:2)
Twenty-Two Letters are the Foundation: He set them in a cycle like a kind of wall with two hundred and thirty one gates... And it (the cycle) rotates forward and backward... and thus everything that is formed and everything that is spoken goes out from One Name (i.e. hvhy).”(Sefer Yetzirah 2:4)
The third chapter is keyed to the root phrase: “Three Mothers Alef a Mem m Shin s.” The Mother Letters are the gates among the Sefiroth of the “Inner Court” of the Tree (First, Last, Water, Fire). These letters are discussed in relation to the universe— Heaven, Earth, and the space between them, the seasons of the year (hot, cold, temperate), and the body of male and female (head, belly, and the Geviyah). Verses in both the third and sixth chapters mention “fathers” born from the archetypal elements of the Mother Letters. From the Air (ryva, avir) of Alef a comes the father “Space;” from the Water (,ym, mayim) of Mem mcomes the father “Matter;” and from the Fire (sa, esh) of Shin s comes the father “Energy” or “Motion.” “...And from Him go out Fire and Water, dividing into male and female. Three Mothers Alef a Mem m Shin s are their foundation, and from them are born fathers, from which everything is created.” (Sefer Yetzirah 3:2)
The fourth and fifth chapters are respectively keyed to “Seven Double Letters” and “Twelve Simple Letters.” On the Tree, six of the Double Letters connect the Inner Court to the six Directional Sefiroth via the Holy Temple, represented by the seventh Double Letter Tav t(see Diagram). The action of the Directional Sefiroth is alluded to as the “Living Beings (tvyx, Chayot)” mentioned in the Torah and the Book of Ezekiel. “And Elohim said the waters will swarm with the movement of (Chayah)”.“And the (Chayot) run forth and return.”
Each Double Letter is has two pronunciations e.g. Pey Fey, Kaf Khaf, and two opposite principles e.g. Life/Death, Dominion/Slavery. Through them are said to have formed seven planets, seven days of the week, and seven orifices of the eyes, ears, nostrils, and mouth.
“Seven Double Letters: Beyt b Gimel g Dalet d Kaf k Pey p Resh r and Tav t are the foundation. He engraved them, He hewed them out, He combined them, He weighed them at opposites, and He formed through them: seven stars in the universe, seven days in the year, seven gates in the body of male and female... and through which He engraved seven universes, seven heavens, seven earths, seven seas, seven rivers, seven Sabbatical years, seven Jubilees, and the Holy Temple. Therefore He cherished the seventh ones under all the heavens.”(Sefer Yetzirah 4:6)
The twelve Simple Letters, also called the “borders” and “everlasting arms” of the Tree, are gates that connect the Directional Sefiroth among one another. Chapter Five, Verse 2 gives an exact delineation of how the Simple Letters are assigned to the diagonal borders on the Tree. The reader will note that the way the text assigns the Simple Letters to the respective borders differs significantly from the way that Luria places them on the Tree (see Diagram), and also from the way they are assigned to the gates in virtually all books on the Hermetic Qabalah and commentaries on the Tarot. This verse also says that they (i.e. the “arms of the universe” a.k.a. the Simple Letters) “become wider for ever and ever.” Briefly referring back to the parallels drawn in Chapter One between the Mystical Qabalah and modern cosmology, one of the continuing debates among astrophysicists regards whether or not the universe is closed i.e. will not expand forever. On the one hand, the model of a closed universe holds that there is sufficient mass in the universe so that the Big Bang expansion will gradually slow down and reverse due to the pull of gravity. In this model, all the mass of the universe involutes back into its unimaginably small and dense original condition until another quantum shift precipitates another explosion. On the other hand, there are those who contend that the supernova data on distant galaxies confirms that there is insufficient mass for the reversal to occur, and that the negative expansion energy of space is causing our universe to expand forever. It is therefore interesting to consider the implication of this verse of the Sefer Yetzirah within the context of this debate. “
Twelve Simple Letters: Heh h Vav v Zayin z Chet x Tet u Yod y Lamed l Nun n Samek c Ayin i Tzade o Qof q. Their foundation is the twelve borders of a diagonal: East-Above border, East-North border, East-Below border, South-Above border, South-East border, South- Below border, West-Above border, West-South border, West-Below border, North-Above border, North-West border, North-Below border. And they continually become wider for ever and ever, and they are the arms of the universe.”(Sefer Yetzirah 5:2)
The text then goes on to respectively designate the twelve constellations, twelve months, and twelve organs in the body of male and female as formed from the Simple Letters. For the reader’s convenience, all of the correlations given by the Sefer Yetzirah for the Mother, Double, and Simple Letters are given in (Tables 4.1), (Tables 4.2) and (Tables 4.3).
The fifth chapter ends by mentioning three allusions: the “Sunset,” the “Wall,” and the “Battle.” The Sunset (see Diagram) includes all the information on the letters in the Sefer Yetzirah. The Wall (see Diagram) is a tabulation of all possible two-letter permutations. The Battle (see Diagram) is a diagram depicting the tension between the dual aspects of the Double Letters, and between six pairs of Simple Letters. This tension plays an integral function in the Creation process.
The sixth and final chapter is generally a summary.
(Tables 4.1), (Tables 4.2) and (Tables 4.3) list the complete information contained in the Sefer Yetzirah on the twenty-two Hebrew letters. Gate assignments are given for both the 3-dimensional and flat versions of the Tree. Zoharic names for the Sefiroth are in parentheses.
G. Merkabah Tree from the Book of Ezekiel and Isaiah
The Sefer Yetzirah and the Merkabah (Chariot) material from the Books of Ezekiel and Isaiah are the two principal sources for the three-dimensional, double-pyramid forms of the “six-pointed star” Tree of Life. The Chariot is an allusion to the Tree of Life. The specifications regarding the Merkabah version of the Double Pyramid Tree (see Diagram), called “Chariot Shadai,” are found in verses in the Books of Ezekiel and Isaiah. The highly anthropomorphic image of theYosher (lit. upright) form of the Name hvhy is “seated upon the Throne of Glory” in the center of the Chariot, with the three Mother letters Alef a, Mem m, and Shin s resting above the Yosher like a crown. Each Directional Sefiroth is associated with a Chayah (lit. Living Being). The four Directional Sefiroth East, West, North, and South are called the “Legs of the Throne.” As shown in the diagram below, Hebrew letters, Divine Names e.g. Gadol, Gabor, archangels, three animals and Man, and patriarchs are imputed to the four Legs. The Inner Court is connected to the Legs via Double Hebrew letters, with which are associated Ofanim (high level angels close to the Throne) and Metatron(“operations manager” of the universe). The Directional Sefiroth are connected among one another via the Simple Hebrew letters, which are called the “wings of the Chayot.” The two Central Column Directional Sefiroth on the Chariot Shadai Tree are called “Firmament” and “Abyss.”
H. Trees of the Idra Rabba Qadusha (Greater Assembly)
As previously mentioned, the main body of the five volumes of the Sefer HaZohar (Book of Splendor), or simply the Zohar, is an exegesis on the five books of the Torah (The Law). The heart of the Sefer HaZohar is three jewels known as the Sifra Detzniyutha (Book of THAT Which is Concealed), the Idra Rabba Qadusha (Greater Holy Assembly), and the Idra Zuta Qadusha(Lesser Holy Assembly). They are distinguished by their depth, the obscurity of their language, and the propriety of their imagery. The Zohar’s exposition takes the form of a dialogue among a group of rabbis led by Rabbi Shimeon Ben Yochai. In qabalistic terms, each of the rabbis embodies a specific Sefirah, and the nature of the respective Sefiroth colors what they say.
One Diagram displays a circular form of the Tree derived from several verses in the Idra Rabba. It presents the entire group of Zoharic rabbis in relation to their respective Sefiroth. All of the Sefiroth emanate from a central, invisible Sefirah described in the text as the “Hidden Brain” of Vast Face. The names and locations of the Sefiroth on the Idra RabbaTree are distinctly different from those commonly found in other Zoharic Tree diagrams.
The Work of the Chariot Trust translation of the Idra Rabba also contains two other diagrams. A second Diagram depicts the first verse:
1. TRADITION - Rabbi Shimeon spoke unto his companions, and said: “How long shall we abide in the condition of one column by itself?, when it is written (Psalms 119:126): It is time for You hvhy to lay to your hand, for they have made void your Torah.”
depicts, in a different way, the dynamic composite of the Greater Holy Assembly and the Lesser Holy Assembly presented in The First Diagram. In this diagram, the central invisible Sefirah surrounded by the six “crowns” of the Directional Sefiroth is shown separated from the four Central Column Sefiroth, called the “Holy Crowns of Small Face.” A line is seen to descend from the Hidden Brain of the Ayn through Vast Face (the One), and then downward from Vast Face to the “Spirit of Small Face” (the many).
I. Tree of Life from the Book of Revelation - Introduction
The Revelation of John is an enigmatic, mystically obscure text. It was originally written in Aramaic, though many translations are made from the Greek version. The Revelation of John presents a specialized form of the “Tree of the Treasuries of the House of Elohim.” This Working Path is intended to take true disciples of Master Yeshuvah to the “New Jerusalem” in the crown center via seven series of seven experiences alluded to in the forty-nine images presented in the text (see Diagram). This reflects the fact that the Tree has a total of seven Sefiroth which span the four qabalistic worlds, and also that each of those seven Sefirah is itself a complete Tree of seven Sefiroth extending through all four worlds. The forty-nine allusions represent seven repetitions of the seven Sefiroth acting upon one another. To more easily understand this, imagine that each of the seven Sefiroth has a test tube containing a differently colored liquid.Then, imagine successively pouring some of the colored liquid from each one into the six others, resulting in a total of forty-nine different colors. The Revelation Tree has a different set of names for the Sefiroth than the Tree of the Treasuries of Elohim shown in second Diagram. Most interpreters of the Revelationsee all the action described as occurring in the physical plane. However, the events described in the Revelation occur on multiple planes. Only the allusions involving the Seven Churches exist in the lowest Sefirah Victory, representing the physical plane. The forty-nine allusions in their qabalistic format as a Tree of Life are presented below.
J. Qabalistic Analysis of the Text
Sefirah Victory (Netzach)
The lowest Sefirah is called Victory. Since this is the lowest Sefirah, it is in the material creation, the waking state of humans. The action of the other Sefiroth upon Sefirah Victory appears as seven “Churches” designated by their respective strengths and weaknesses.
In Sefirah Victory:
Sefirah Strength (Geburah)
The second Sefirah is called Strength or Power. The experience in this Sefirah is the dream state of most humans. The action of the other Sefiroth on Power is given as “Seals.”
In Sefirah Power:
Sefirah Mercy (Gedulah)
The third Sefirah is called Mercy. The experience in this Sefirah, which is in the navel region, is the dream state of most humans. The action of the other Sefiroth on Mercy is given as “Angels with Seven Trumpets.” In Sefirah Mercy:
Sefirah Thanksgiving (Todah)
The fourth Sefirah is called Thanksgiving. The experience in this Sefirah, which is in the heart region, is beyond the usual experience of humans, appearing as deep sleep to most of them. The action of the other Sefiroth on Thanksgiving is given as “Angels of the End.”
In Sefirah Beauty:
Sefirah Understanding (Binah)
The fifth Sefirah is called Understanding. The experience in this Sefirah, which is in the throat region, is beyond the usual experiences of humans. The action of the other Sefiroth on Understanding is given as “Angels of the Seven Last Plagues.”
In Sefirah Understanding:
Sefirah Beauty (Tifareth)
The sixth Sefirah is called Beauty. The experience in this Sefirah, which is in the forehead region, is beyond the usual experiences of humans. The action of the other Sefiroth on Beauty is given as “Angels announcing the End.”
In Sefirah Thanksgiving:
Sefirah Blessing (Berakhah)
The seventh Sefirah is called Blessing. The experience in this Sefirah, which is at the top of the head, is beyond the usual experiences of humans. The ultimate experiences possible with the Tree of Life are given as “Final Details of the End.”
In Sefirah Blessing:
K. Trees of Life from the Etz HaChayyim
The Etz HaChayyim yields several forms of the Tree of Life. The first renders the Sefiroth as a pattern of ten concentric circles, like “layers of an onion,” with Kingdom (Malkhuth) as the centermost Sefirah (see Diagram). This format reflects the idea that the physical world of Kingdom represents the densest form of spirit-matter, and that each layer is successively more subtle. As previously mentioned, the principal source for the Yosher (lit. upright, straight, firm) form of the Name hvhy is the Sh’ir Qoma in the Sefer Raziel HaGadol. In Branch 3 of the Etz HaChayyim, Luria synthesizes a meditation image in which the Sefirothic pattern of the Tree is superimposed upon the Yosher (see Diagram). In Branch 10, Luria introduces the allusion of the four Worlds of Emanation, Creation, Formation, and Making as “Curtains” (partzufim), and the Tree of Life as “the internal structure and bones of the Ancient of Days.” In conjunction with this, Luria offers a meditation image in the form of five sets of ten concentric circles that are superimposed upon the Yosher (see Diagram). The five sets correspond respectively to the partzufim of “Great Face” (at the point of entrance of the Kav into the Tzimtzum), “Father” (Yod), “Mother” (Upper Heh), “Small Face” (Vav), and “Young Female” (Lower Heh).
Aside from the Tree diagrams yielded by the text of the Etz HaChayyim, Luria also developed his own version of the Composite Fallen Tree in his edition of the Sefer Yetzirah. For this Tree, Luria used the Zoharic names for the Sefiroth and a proprietary configuration of gates that differed significantly from those of previous redactions of the text. Hence, the reader will notice that the gate assignments on Luria’s Tree in Diagram are very different from those in the Tree diagrams in the Work of the Chariot’s version of the Sefer Yetzirah. In Luria’s Composite Tree, the Mother letters are respectively placed in the three horizontal gates; the Double Letters are placed in the seven vertical gates; and the Simple Letters are placed in the twelve diagonal gates. While all of the Trees specified by the Sefer Yetzirah are two-and three-dimensional Trees of Perfection, it is a matter of some curiosity that Luria’s Trees are all flat and fallen.
The preceding chapters presented a varied array of Trees of Life yielded by the primary sources of the Mystical Qabalah. They included Trees that are two-dimensional, and Trees that are three-dimensional; Trees that involve one, two, or all three Columns; Trees that are vertical in their orientation, and circular Trees that emanate from a central Sefirah. While a case can be made that the Mystical Qabalah has the greatest diversity of different Tree forms, other traditions such as the North Indian Tantrikas, Taoists, and the Polynesian Kahunas also have maps of consciousness that present their respective worldviews. Most such maps in other traditions are not specifically called “Trees of Life.” They may look diagramatically quite different, or not be depicted in a diagram at all. Yet, it is possible to specifically correlate the names and allusions that they assign for the planes of existence and successive centers of consciousness to those in the Hebrew Trees. The Tantric Chakra System and the Taoist map of the subtle centers are both depicted in highly detailed pictorial images. The “Before-” and “After-the-World” Sequences from the eighth wing of the Chinese I Ching (Book of Change), titled the Shuo Qua, are much more abstract diagrams, representing the Sefiroth as sets of solid and broken lines. The Polynesian Kahunas, whose scriptures take the form of sacred Hulas recorded on boards in Rongo Rongo writing, do not have a diagram for their Tree, but represent the Sefiroth by the different “Hi’iakas” of the Goddess (Pele).1 The Hi’iakas are the same as the Dakinis, the female emanations of the Goddess Kali in the North Indian and Tibetan Tantra.
M. The Chakric Tree
The absorption and synthesis of many Eastern mystical ideas into a myriad of New Age therapies, olistic psychology, and “tantric sexual ecstasy for the masses” has made the Chakra system the most salient map of consciousness in Western culture. The Chakric Tree that comes from the North Indian Tantric tradition (see Diagram) is most similar in format to the qabalistic “Tree of the Treasuries of the House of Elohim” (see Diagram) and the Sufi system of seven Latifas
(see Table). In the Chakric Tree, the Chakras are described as lotuses with varying numbers of petals, upon which stand specific Sanskrit seed sounds (San. bija). The “fallen” condition is portrayed in the Chakric Tree by the petals on the lotuses turned downward. When the Chakric Tree is scended, the petals of each lotus turn upwards as the consciousness of the traveler awakens in it.
As previously mentioned in Chapter One, the Tantric texts (calledShastra) on the Chakras describe the Chitshakti (energy of consciousness), known as the Goddess Kundalini, as a coiled snake asleep at the base of the Chakric Tree. The Shekhinah of the Qabalah is said to be in exile in the Lower Worlds. The Kundalini and the Shekhinah are two distinctly different allusions for the same thing. The snake of the Kundalini is said to awaken and ascend the Chakric Tree, opening the Chakric lotuses on Her way to unite with Her Husband Shiva in the Ajna Chakra at the forehead. The ascent by the Kundalini is also called the Satchakrabheda, the “Piercing of the Six Centers.” The ascent of the Tree of Life by the Shekhinah is called “Shabat” (tbs, Sabbath). On the Sabbath, Shekhinah ascends the Tree of Life and unites with Her Husband hvhy in the World of Atziluth, thereby transforming the Fallen Tree into the Tree of Perfection.
The Chakras are equated to the mental planes mentioned in the Vedas, as follows:
“Mind in Worldliness” 1st plane - anus, waking state (Muladhara Chakra) 2nd plane - sex organ, dream state (Svadisthana Chakra,T’an Tien in the Taoist Tree) 3rd plane - solar plexus, conscious dream and psychic states. (Manipura Chakra)
“Mind in the Heart” 4th plane - base of sternum; blissful vision of divine beauty, “What is all this!” (Anahata Chakra, Middle Tan in the Taoist Tree) 5th plane - throat; vision of the Universe as a unity in the mind of God. (Visuddha Chakra)
“Face to Face” 6th plane - only thin glass-like partition; God is like a “light in a lantern.” (Ajna Chakra, Upper Tan in the Taoist Tree) 7th plane - perfect absorption and extinction in non-dual consciousness. (Sahasrara Chakra)
N. The Trigram Tree of the Eighth Wing of the I Ching
It is interesting to compare the ancient Hebrew Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation) with various aspects of the eighth and oldest wing of the Chinese I Ching (Book of Change), called the Shuo Qua. For instance, one can superimpose the circular version of the flat Tree of Life diagram from the Sefer Yetzirah (see Diagram) directly over the “Before-the-World Sequence” produced from verses of the Shuo Kua (see Diagram). In the Sefer Yetzirah, the Sefiroth are created in pairs. The phrase “balancing in weight” in the first verse of the Sifra Detzniyutha alludes to this. In the Shuo Kua, the three-lined Trigrams are also created in pairs. Earlier, we identified the three columns of the flat, vertical version of the qabalistic Tree, with a middle column balancing two polarized side columns. One could similarly identify three columns in the Shuo Qua Tree. In the Sefer Yetzirah, the Central Column manifests between the Sefiroth Above and Below. In the Before the-World Sequence, the same Central Column manifests between the Trigrams Heaven and Earth. The polarized side columns on the qabalistic Tree are referred to as “male” (right) and “female” (left), and reflect a descent from the supernal World of Atziluth to the material creation of Asiyah. In the Shuo Qua Tree, the two side columns are likewise polarized, reflecting the separation and changing differentiation of the pre-celestial yang (right) and yin (left) in the descent from the most yang condition of Vast Face in Trigram Heaven to the most yin condition of Small Face in Trigram Earth.
The Trigrams explicated in the Shuo Kua are eight permutations of yang (Vast Face) and yin (Small Face) lines in sets of three. In the I Ching, the Trigrams are variously combined to produce sixty-four different sets of six lines, called Hexagrams. The Trigrams can also be correlated respectively with six of the Hebrew Double Letters plus the two Mother Letters Mem (Water) and Shin (Fire). Each of the Hexagrams can thus be correlated to a combination of two of the eight Hebrew letters. (see Diagram)
In the I Ching, the Fallen Tree finds its counterpart in the “After-the-World Sequence” (see Diagram).The After-the-World Sequence is of particular significance to Taoist internal alchemy. In this context, the Taoist Tree alludes to a transformation of consciousness. The qabalistic Tree becomes a Fallen Tree when the Sefirah Knowledge/First in the throat center ostensibly “falls” and becomes the Sefirah Kingdom in the anal center. The qabalistic Tree once again becomes a Tree of Perfection in human consciousness when Kingdom returns to its original position in Knowledge/First and the entire Creation is seen as a Unity in Small Face in the Mind of Vast Face. In the Taoist Tree, when the world manifests, the Trigrams rotate and assume different positions, with Fire moving into the position formerly occupied by Heaven, and Water moving into the position formerly occupied by Earth.
O. Tree of Taoist Alchemy
In the meditation process of Taoist internal alchemy, the pure intention (yi) of the Upper Tan (i.e. will of Vast Face) in the forehead center (Ajna Chakra) directs the heart-mind fire of the Middle Tan (thoracic center) to concentrate in the water of the Lower Tan Tien in the abdominal center (Sefirah Foundation/ Below, Svadhisthana Chakra). The fire of the heart-mind heats the water and turns it into steam i.e.qi (vital energy). The qi steam rises, refines, and circulates in the higher centers. This is the same as theShekhinah rising up the Central Column of the qabalistic Tree, and the Kundalini awakening and rising up the Shushumna of the Chakric Tree.(see Diagram).
When the qi (vital energy) refines and unites with shen (spirit) in the heart center, wood (heart’s passion) and metal (original nature) unite. With the union of qi (water) and shen (fire), wood returns to its source in the liver and metal to its source in the lungs, whereby Heaven and Earth revert to their original positions and the Tree returns to the “Before-the-World Sequence” (i.e. the Tree becomes Perfect.)