A new view of the tree of life

Q&A and discussion on the Hermetic Qabbalah

Moderator: Moderators - Public

A new view of the tree of life

Postby siriusly23 » Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:28 pm


“…every new Aeon demands a new system of classification of the Universe”
Aleister Crowley: “The Book of Thoth”: pg. 95

The Tree of Life is understood to be a diagram of the Universe, or a system of categorizing all of the ideas and perceptions that form the contents of our consciousness. It is said to be very old, dating back at least to the writing of the Sepher Yetzira , possibly to the second century (e.v.). There are indications, however, that it may be much older than that. In “The Truth about Caballa”, David Godwin writes “According to Idries Shah, the tree was based on an earlier diagram produced by the Bretheren of Sincerity in Basra, Iraq. The Iraqi tree had only eight numbers (or Sephiroth)”. It is thought that the eight spheres of this tree could represent the seven below the Abyss, and one above- human consciousness having not yet advanced to the point of separating the Godhead into the three supernals. It is my thesis, in this essay, that the structure of the tree of life changes as the level of consciousness of humanity evolves. Furthermore, since we are entering the aeon of Horus, the crowned and conquering child, which is the final age in this cycle (Isis-mother, Osiris- father, and Horus- child), the “Tree of Horus” should be the most complete and accurate representation of this symbol.
If the tree of the aeon of Isis did contain eight spheres, the Sepher Yetzira established a new tree for the aeon of Osiris when it stated that there were “ten, not nine; ten not eleven; like the fingers on a hand”. This was, I believe, an effort not only to recognize the emerging awareness of the triune aspect of the Godhead, but also to reconcile Hebrew mysticism with the simultaneously emerging Pythagorean base ten system.
The tree with which most of us are familiar is the version introduced to the west by the Golden Dawn. This tree has three paths leading to Malkuth- from Yesod, Hod, and Netzach respectively. For the purposes of this essay I use the Lurianic tree (see fig.1 pg.4). This version was proposed by Rabbi Isaac Luria (known as “The Ari”), an extremely influential Cabbalist, whose teachings form the basic belief structure of the Hassidim, an ultra-orthodox sect of Judaism.
The Lurianic tree contains only one path to Malkuth-the one from Yesod. This seems to fit well into the obvious assumption that the path to the material world is through the “foundation”, the world of spirit. But, whichever version of the tree is studied, one thing soon becomes apparent to the seeker; there are two rather nagging inconsistencies in various versions of the tree. The first is the Daath enigma.
Depending entirely on the opinion of the author, Daath, the sephera which lies in the Abyss, will sometimes be present, sometimes not, When it is present it is sometimes shown as having a dotted line, rather than a solid one, for its circumference. When it is mentioned at all, it is called a false or pseudo sepheroth, and seems, at times, to almost be held in contempt, as if it was some kind of imposter. Yet it does have characteristics, and correspondences, and its relationship to the Abyss is something which merits serious consideration, so lets stop playing the “If we ignore it maybe it’ll just go away” game, and admit that not only is it there, but that it represents one of the archetypes of consciousness.
The other problem is Ain Soph.
Ain Soph (I’ll use one name to refer to all three) is another case of now you see it- now you don’t. Ain, Ain Soph, and Ain Soph Aur, sometimes called the three veils of negative existence, appear occasionally on drawings of the tree, or in descriptions of the tree, but there is generally little or nothing said about them. One of the sets of names (descriptions) they are given is: Nothing, The Limitless, and The Limitless Light. They appear to be that about which nothing may be said [The DAO?]. However, even saying that nothing may be said about them, says something about them, and there are correspondences which define them. Crowley, when writing about Ain Soph, describes them as sepheroth in several places, so let’s boldly assert that they form the twelfth sphere.
How, then, do these new spheres fit into the path work of the Tree? For Daath the answer is rather straightforward. The paths which pass through the region where Daath sits are already established, they simply pass through without terminating. These new spheres appear to be operating in a slightly different way- the same, yet different. But, this isn’t unprecedented. Think about the Supernals, for example.
It is commonly understood that above the abyss a thing is true only in so far as it’s opposite is also true. This appears to be a contradiction in the world of duality, but it is “the way” in the world of the Supernals. “Reality” is very different above the abyss, and, apparently, also in it.
Daath, then, rests slightly “out of phase” with the rest of the tree, but what about Ain Soph? No pathways pass through it. To understand how it is connected, we must refer again to the Ari.
According to Luria, before there was Being there was the Limitless. In order to experience being, a portion- which is not really a portion in the understood sense of the word- of the limitless contracts in upon itself (Luria calls this event the Tzim-Tzum). The portion which was not really a portion becomes a dimensionless point, leaving behind an area which is not really an area, because all identity as area is gone. This place from which the presence of the creative has been removed by the Tzim-Tzum becomes the Universe, and the dimensionless point into which it contracts becomes the central point of Kether (remember Kether has a center which is everywhere, and a circumference which is nowhere). This is the universe, in the sense that Nuit is the universe.
To the ancient Egyptians, the Universe was represented by the goddess Nuit, the goddess of the heavens. She is pictured as a woman standing in an arched over position so that both her hands and feet touch the ground, like an inverted U. Somewhere, usually just under the goddess’s arched body, there would be a winged sphere. This was Nuit’s counterpart Hadit. The universe was understood to exist only when Hadit brought it into manifestation. Hadit was a dimensionless point, simply a point of view.
Nuit contained within herself not only all matter, but all possibilities and every potentiality; she was all that could possibly be. But, the potential only became actualized when the consciousness of Hadit was focused upon it. (Sounds rather Quantum doesn’t it?)
Ain Soph is thus shown above Kether with a path leading from it to the center of Kether, rather than to its circumference as is usual (see fig.2 pg. 5).
The numbering of the paths in the new tree is significantly different from that presently used, but, for the purposes of this essay, the only paths discussed will be from Ain Soph to Kether, and from Yesod to Malkuth.
The path from Ain Soph to Kether is the path of Aleph, 0, The Fool. Why is the Fool the correspondent arcanum for this pathway? This card shows a young man, apparently carefree and happy, looking up at the sky, not down at the path he walks, He is about to step off a cliff. This could be seen as a warning to pay attention, and not be foolish. A more insightful interpretation, however, might be that the fool, thinking in his own very different way, is not bound by the same laws as the True Believers. He is the complete innocent, the pure fool. He has absolute confidence that he can continue to walk without falling to his death- and he will not fall. This is walking on water taken to the next level, and is an affirmation of the assertion that reality is what you make of it. Once again, there is the role of consciousness as a determining factor.
And what could be more of an outrageous step off the comfortable, safe path, than taking the leap from the pure undivided bliss of limitless light, into the (relative) chaos of the supernals? This is indeed the path of the fool.
But, doesn’t adding a path to Kether require adding another card to the major arcana (you might ask)? The answer to this lies on the path from Yesod to Malkuth. This path represents another enormous leap, from the world of spirit into the world of suffering and sorrow, the material world. One would certainly be a complete fool to do such a thing.
The path from Yesod to Kether is the path of Aleph, 0, the Fool.
Now we have a path in two places at once, that’s obviously incorrect. That is to say, it would be a condition which cannot exist in the context of the present paradigm.
In the aeon of Osiris, Aristotelian and Newtonian mechanics defined the parameters of experience. It was axiomatic that an object could only occupy one space at one time. In the aeon of Horus, however, quantum mechanics has superceded the world view of the previous age, and in the Quantum world it is possible, under certain conditions, for an object to be in two locations simultaneously.
Now we have twelve spheres which, although they are basically the same are in two classes, ten which define the categories of human experience, and two which function slightly differently.
These twelve form a symmetrical pattern (nature always favors symmetry), but there is more than just symmetry involved here. The number twelve has a very unique position in mythology.
There are: the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve Mahdis of Islam, the twelve apostles, the twelve Gods on Olympus and the twelve Angels before the throne of the Apocalypse. We say there are twelve signs of the Zodiac, when the sun actually passes through thirteen constellations (see: Ophiuchus); our year has twelve months, but there are actually thirteen “moonths” (28 day moon cycles) in the year. And why is the central unit of quantity the dozen, when we are a base ten culture? It would be easy to see how the number ten would be the basis for many of our numbering schemes, ten is a very handy number (pun intended), but why twelve?
In order to answer that question we must ask, “What is the Tree of Life?” Yes, the tree is a diagram of the Universe, but what does that really mean? What is the Universe? Is it all of the planets, stars and other bodies in the heavens (remember Nuit)? Yes, and more. It is all that each of us has ever experienced, or thought of, or can imagine, and it is slightly different for each of us. For just as “every man and every woman is a star”, so is each star the center of their own universe. Your universe is the contents of your mind.
But, what is your mind? It isn’t the brain- that exquisitely intricate neural network which performs operations as directed by the mind, in a manner precisely analogous to the relationship between computer hardware and software. Computer software is a network of commands, a pattern of organization. The mind is, similarly, a network of patterns-Sheldrake’s Morphogenetic fields.
You are, simply put, a point of view which has formed around itself a nested hierarchy of morphic patterns, and your universe is all that the software permits you to experience of the “body of Nuit”
And, how does that universe connect to your brain? Through the twelve pairs of cranial nerves. These nerves transmit all of the bodies sensations and functional conditions to, and from, the brain, and they are of two classes, ten somatic, and two sensory. The two types are essentially the same, but function slightly differently, just as the two classes of sepheroth (ten plus two) are the same, but function differently.
The tree of life, the “map of the universe”, is a schematic diagram of how humanity is “wired”

07-14-07 (e.v.)
sorry, the drawings wouldn't load- David
Forum Neophyte
Forum Neophyte
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:45 am

Re: A new view of the tree of life

Postby Avshalom Binyamin » Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:46 pm

The number 12 is already encapsulated in the tree of life, since the number 12 is encapsulated in the Hebrew alphabet, in the 12 single letters.
Every man and every woman is a star.
User avatar
Avshalom Binyamin
Posts: 1466
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:28 am

Return to Qabbalah

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests