Water and Air Sephiroth attributions

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Water and Air Sephiroth attributions

Postby bdc » Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:35 am

I'm wondering if James or anyone else can clear up / give some insight into one area of Elemental / psychological attributions of the Sephiroth that I find particularly and persistently confusing, which is:
Yesod is attributed to the element of Air, the Sword, Moon, subconsciousness (and also reactivity and sexual drives) while Hod is attributed to Water, the Cup, Mercury, intellect.
Where I get confused is in how the Sword is also attributed to intellect / reason, with the Cup to emotions. In this way, it feels almost like the Yesod and Hod attributions of the elements and weapons have been swapped around somehow... Yesod as "the deep" of the subconscious and reactive emotion would seem to suit Water more (and also there is the connection of the Moon with tides - though I get the Moon as part of the Middle Pillar as it reflects the light of the Sun and also the path of Gimel), while Hod as intellect would a more fitting sphere for the Sword / Air. I've considered Air maybe suiting reactive emotion in terms of "blowing all round the place" like wind, and the Cup suiting intellect in terms of "form" (that which holds "content"), but even with this in mind, it still feels in many ways that Air/Sword is tied with intellect and the Cup with emotion.
Any thoughts on this?
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Re: Water and Air Sephiroth attributions

Postby Jim Eshelman » Thu Jan 08, 2015 12:47 pm

First, to cut through much of the confusion with something similar: Air is attributed exclusively to the Middle Pillar as the neutral, equilibrating idea between the spiraling serpents of fire and water. It's all rather Caduceus-like. But that's why Kether, Tifereth, Y'sod, and the upper-middle aspect of Mal'khooth are attributed to Air.

As for some of your specific questions, the broadest answer is that the ideas people have of the elements are a bit simplistic - and that's if you only consider them "horizontally," i.e., on the same plane, rather than "vertically," or in terms of the Worlds.

Considering them vertically, it gets even more interesting: You can't break Air and Water down as, say, intellect and emotion because the real distinction is Y'tziyrah vs. B'riyah. In that sense, you might say Air (Y'tziyrah) is intellect and reactivity, while Water (B'riyah) is mind and feeling.

There are other layers of understanding that I don't know how to pass along (as more than short blurbs) except by having someone pass through rites of initiation. I promise you that those who have passed through the Y'sod and Hod rites and degrees of Temple of Thelema get it, but not in a way that I can spell out. But here are a couple of ideas that might help: People err when they think of intellect as a force (probably because of historic ownership of the turf mostly by men). Intellect, though, is a form - a containment - a set of patterns through which mind moves. When you have sufficient experience with ways of witnessing the movements of mind and patterning the structure of intellect, you'll probably see this quite easily. Our intellect isn't at all who we are, it's the way we have structured the pathways of movement of who we are.

In part, my answer is to keep struggling with this, and that, until you have direct experience of these elements as alchemists know them, you aren't likely to get final answers. But the wrestling with uncertainty is useful,

bdc wrote:Yesod as "the deep" of the subconscious and reactive emotion would seem to suit Water more

Would it? Are you sure about that? In nature, what is more volatile, moving, shifting, altering and adapting at the slightest resistance or change of circumstances: Air or water?

Hod as intellect would a more fitting sphere for the Sword / Air.

Yes, it would, if intellect were a force. But it's not. It's form.

(I just had an idea: Stop thinking of sword. Start thinking of dagger. This may make no difference, or it may free your mind from some barnacles that come from thinking of a big ol' hulking sword.)

I've considered Air maybe suiting reactive emotion in terms of "blowing all round the place" like wind, and the Cup suiting intellect in terms of "form" (that which holds "content")

See? There ya go! I didn't have to answer. You got it.

but even with this in mind, it still feels in many ways that Air/Sword is tied with intellect and the Cup with emotion.

See my notes above on the vertical distribution and, in general, try breaking "intellect" and "emotion" into a larger list of faculties. Try to distinguish, say, five separate faculties from each of those two terms, and then look at those 10 faculties individually - within yourself and others - to see how they operate and function.
Love is the law, love under will.
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Jim Eshelman
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"Success is thy proof: argue not; convert not; talk not overmuch!" - CCXX 3:42
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Re: Water and Air Sephiroth attributions

Postby bdc » Fri Jan 09, 2015 2:36 am

Wonderful, that clears up a lot for me while giving me a lot to meditate upon, many thanks for taking the time to post such a great reply.
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Re: Water and Air Sephiroth attributions

Postby Hermitas » Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:16 am

2nded.
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