Dion Fortune says, “In brief, the Tree of Life is a compendium of science, psychology, philosophy, and theology.” How does someone expand upon that idea? Crowley himself apparently said the Kabbalah was similar to a filing system of various beliefs. To a witch like me, this seems like an ideal playground. There are times I find myself especially lost when dealing with multiple pantheons at a time. The Kabbalah could solve this problem for me, but what else does it offer? Well, here are ten things I’ve learned so far.
1. The Kabbalah Vs. The Qabalah Vs. Cabala.
To make things really confusing from the start, the Kabbalah has at least three spelling variations. Each of these spelling variants have a special meaning that may or may not be important. Kabbalah denotes a more Jewish centered study and analysis of the Tree of Life. To contrast this, Qabalah usually denotes a more Occult based interpretation. So what’s the Cabala? Well, it’s actually a Christian oriented system of the same. Which spelling one uses then can be important when discussing the Kabbalah with others. Personally, I simply prefer the Kabbalah spelling over Qabalah. Interestingly enough, the first book I read on the Kabbalah was Jewish centered as well. There’s probably a connection there.
2. You Can Study The Sephiroth On Their Own.
If you’re new to the Kabbalah like I am, it’s really tempting to take it all in at once. This is normal, but it’s probably not best. The Kabbalah contains thirty-two paths, all of which are filled with as much symbolism as one can imagine. To start out with, it’s probably best to realize the Sephiroth can be studied individually. This doesn’t mean comprehending the symbolism of each sphere is an easy task. Dion Fortune’s book actually does a good job of introducing The Sephiroth. I learned much much more taking a step back, simplifying my focus, and then progressing forward. Try it, you’ll see.
3. The Tree Of Life Is All About Relationships.
I’m not sure why, but this is a fact that’s stood out to me only recently. The Tree of Life can only be understood when one examines the relationships involved. There’s an overall order to the Sephiroth, and you may or may not like it. I know that I personally have more questions than answers more often than not. Even so, you can spend a lot of time examining just one relationship on the Tree. Again, this is a concept that seems simple that can actually be quite complex. Just think, there are ten Sephiroth, and all of them have a relationship somehow to the others. That’s potentially a lot of relationships to grasp even excluding some of the pathways.
4. There’s Male, Female, & Mixed Energies.
Depending on what form of witchcraft you practice, this concept may or may not be a new one. For me personally, this was not a new concept. However, I still find myself learning a great deal by the ‘simplicity’ of male, female, and mixed or balanced energies. One of the most common examples of this is that we find the Pillar of Mercy is more masculine, while the Pillar of Severity is more feminine. How does this example show in our society? Should we be able to see it playing out even? It’s worth noting that male and female energy here isn’t even strictly ‘male’ or ‘female’ but ‘active’ and ‘passive’. Which, of course, adds again to the complexity.
5. There’s A Hidden ‘Sphere’ On The Tree Of Life.
This one has taken me a while to grasp, and I admittedly still don’t grasp it like I should. That said, there’s a hidden ‘sphere’ on the Tree of Life. Daath means Knowledge, and the beliefs behind this idea are why it is a hidden sphere. Interestingly, it is Knowledge that connects the ‘Minor’ Sephiroth to the ‘Major’ Sephiroth. While simplistic (and probably somewhat misguided on my part) it’s odd to realize Knowledge brings us closer to ‘God’. There’s no way to understand or ‘get to’ ‘God’ without Knowledge. Hopefully this is one of those insightful moments, and not one, you know, of misguided enthusiasm to a new subject.
6. The Middle Pillar Coincides With Some Chakras.
As a witch with an initial foundation in Wicca, I often wondered how chakras played a part in witchcraft. This may or may not be similar for you. In any case, the Middle Pillar, that of Mildness, does coincide with some chakras. This could be a great way to blend a very Western path with some echoes of Eastern path work. It’s enlightening to see the chakras from a more Jewish base. I don’t know why, but it resonates well with me. The following is a list for the curious. It includes the chakra, the Tree of Life sphere, and the name of ‘God’ associated with each place on the Middle Pillar.
- Top of the Head: Kether – The Crown – Eh-heh-yeh
- Throat: Daath – Knowledge – Yud-Heh-Vahv-Heh El-oh-heem
- Chest: Tiphareth – Beauty – Yud-Heh-Vahv-Heh El-oh-ha V’dah-aht
- Groin: Yesod – Foundation – Shah-dai El Chai
- Base of the Spine: Malkuth – The Kingdom – Ah-doh-nye Ha-ah-retz
7. The Tree Of Life Consists Of Three Triangles.
Because contemplating the Sephiroth individually isn’t enough, you can study the relationship of the three triangles they form. While there are ten Sephiroth, Malkuth is left out of this due to its symbolism. What you get then, are three triangles consisting of The Supernal Triangle (Kether, Hokhmah, and Binah), The Ethical Triangle (Hesed, Geburah, and Tifereth), and The Astral Triangle (Netzach, Hod, and Yesod). Currently, I’m at a point where this is an interesting revelation. There’s a brief hint that these three triangles might better explain a ‘holy trinity’ than I was first thought.
8. Planet Energies Are Present In The Tree Of Life.
Excluding Kether and Hokhmah, each of the Sephiroth have a planet energy assigned to them. This can lead to some interesting matches and mismatches. For example, most people will recognize Geburah (Strength/Severity) as inline with the planet energies of Mars. As a person drawn to the Greek Pantheon, Ares as an embodiment of Geburah makes perfect sense. A mismatch however, is easily found in Binah (Understanding). Binah is assigned the planet energy of Saturn. At first this is not strange, but when one considers Binah is the ‘Mother’ or goddess figure, a highly masculine energy is quite odd. I have no answer as to why this is, but hopefully, the answer will find its way to me.
9. You Can Assign Tarot Cards To The Tree Of Life.
Not only are planets assigned to the Tree of Life, but tarot cards as well. This is actually a really interesting fact I haven’t spent much time working with yet. A brief look though, and well, I can’t help but notice interesting relationships. Remember, the Tree of Life is all about symbols and understanding relationships overall. When consulting the tarot regarding the Tree of Life, use Crowley’s Thoth deck (you’ll thank me). For example, the path between Geburah (Mars) and Tiphareth (The Sun) is marked by the Justice card. In the Thoth deck, the Justice card is called Lust. A close look at mythology, and we find this makes sense on various levels.
10. The Pathways Can Be Used For Meditation.
Let me start by saying I’m new to pathworking. I understand the overall premise, but I haven’t tried too much of it. There are various thoughts on how to utilize the 32 Paths in meditative work. I highly suggest finding a good book on this (and will be finding one myself). However, I don’t think there’s any harm in contemplating or meditating on the significance of established symbols already defined. For example, I’m contemplating the connection between Netzach (Venus) and Hod (Mercury), which is The Tower, or to me, Change. Like I said, it’s probably best to consult a book on this subject instead of my ramblings. I’m just fascinated by the connection between Aphrodite and Hermes.